Everyone has a different reason for building wealth. For Sherry from Montréal, her interest in true financial independence helped drive her to become a millionaire in her 30's.
Sherry, the blogger behind Save Spend Splurge, dives deep into the numbers for our next young millionaire interview. She discusses the importance of creating multiple income streams, being intentional with your money and also, spending on things you enjoy most.
If you want to become a millionaire in your 30's, read Sherry's advice below and take some action today.
Become a Millionaire in Your 30’s: The Details
How old are you? If you have a family, tell us about them and their ages.
I am 37. I have a partner. We have one son, who is aged 6 and I call him ‘Little Bun'.
Where do you live? Do you own your home or rent?
I live in Montréal Canada and we own the home outright.
We paid $600K in cash when we bought it, my half was $300K. It was a great feeling to hand over a cheque and to know I owed no one anything.
When did you start tracking your net worth? What was it at that time?
I started in 2008 but I have lost most of my records because of a data SNAFU with a hard drive (I now do double backups). I know roughly what I had then, and parsed out what I had at various stages, but 2012 is when my records are clearer.
I had $60K in student debt, so I was -$60K as my net worth.
I know I had no more than that because I also had $0 in my bank account in May 2008, I had to use the last of that money, and take out the remaining $2K out of my student loans to cover my first and last month's rent.
I was literally broke with no cash beyond what was in my wallet (maybe a $20), and lots of student debt.
What is your current net worth? What are your assets and what are your liabilities?
As of July 2020 it is as follows:
- Liabilities = $0
- Assets = $1,052,735.31
- Net Worth = $1,052,735.31
Assets are broken down as this:
- $2,825.08 Cash
- $171,251.04 RRSP (registered retirement savings plan)
- $79,561.59 TFSA (tax-free savings account)
- $269,965.76 Margin (unregistered savings account, as my RRSP & TFSA are maxed out)
- $14,233.96 (Small business lending account)
- $965.15 Cryptocurrencies but I haven't updated this in a long time
- $400,000 Home
- $113,932.73 Car – Luxury, paid cash for it brand new, already depreciated to market value and I update it every half year or so. I do not say publicly what car it is, please don't ask.
It may seem strange to buy a luxury car in cash, brand new, but it is the one thing I wanted to allow myself to try for once in my life, after having only had secondhand lemons and following that whole frugal lifestyle. I don't regret it at all. I love driving this car and gain intrinsic pleasure from it, not to mention finally enjoying being in a car (something I hated before and only saw as a tool to get me to work and back home).
Become a Millionaire in your 30's: The Process
What are your current sources of income? If married, does your spouse have other income sources?
Current sources of income:
- Main job (I don't say what I do, I am a consultant in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
- Blog (Advertising, Affiliate)
- Coaching (I advise on money and career)
- Books (I've written 6 so far – LikeABossBooks.com)
- Bank High-Interest Savings
- Bank Promotions (e.g. credit card signups, account signups)
- Shopping cashback
- Credit card cashback
- Private lending
- Other – whatever doesn't fall into the rest above like a strange $42.48 credit I got the other day on my Visa labeled “COVID relief”
Any amount of new money is tracked now, and is considered income no matter how small.
My side income history (not my day job at all):
- 2013: $6420.18
- 2014: $5218.06
- 2015: $13,947.68
- 2016: $16,681.00
- 2017: $20,645.05
- 2018: $19,427.64
- 2019: $34,602.93
- 2020: $45,547.29 year to date, on track to hit my soft goal of $50K, and my ultimate $75K goal
At my day job, when I do work, I make $20K – $30K/month. Some years are good, some are bad, like now.
The most I have ever made is $130K in 10 weeks. I took the rest of the year off and relaxed after that.
What has been the single best thing you’ve done to increase your income up until this point?
Quit and become a freelancer. I went from earning $65K to $260K in one year, but as I bill by the hour, this $260K is a pipe dream unless I work the whole year.
My first contract when I was 25, netted me $90K in 3 months. I now work 50% of the time, and make 4X the money, and am completely work-optional, but I still love my job, so I will keep working until it is no longer fun.
What ways do you invest your money?
Index funds, individual stocks, private lending, and my home. I don't see my principal home as an appreciating investment, it's just a place I pre-paid to live, but it has risen in value in recent years.
Did you receive an inheritance or windfall of some kind during your life so far?
No. Haven't received a penny, started learning about financial literacy only when I graduated with $60K in debt.
What debts do you have (if any)? If so, what are they? Which have you paid off?
I used to have $60K in student debt. Paid that in 18 months.
How do you track your net worth?
Using TheBudgetingTool.com – it's a wealth-building net worth dashboard/tracker in Excel that I built and have revised over the years (it is very sexy now), and I donate the net proceeds to charity every month.
My only “compensation” out of it, is I get to claim the charitable donation on my tax receipts.
Do you live on a budget?
Yes, a loose one. My bare-bones expenses are $1,300 give or take. I spend around that (or less) when I am really watching my spending. If I am not, I can spend up to $10K a month depending on what happens in that month (e.g. Travel)
What are your annual expenses?
This is just my half of what I pay as my partner and I have separate accounts completely, and only do joint expenses.
It's hard for me to say what my annual expenses are.
They have ranged over the years, here's an idea of what I have spent in previous years:
- 2009 = $26,577.29
- 2010 = $25,162.88
- 2011 = $41,525.66
- 2012 = $52,043.86
- 2013 = $38,765.06
- 2014 = $41,290.71
- 2015 = $58,819.60
- 2016 = $52,422.76
- 2017 = $57,925.15
- 2018 = $58,652.32
- 2019 = $41,159.60
- 2020 YTD = $20,713.51 projected to be $25K to $35K (my first few months of 2020 were very expensive)
My current, comfortable budget break down looks like this:
- $9,500 Home (House, Home, Household Expenses, Utilities)
- $3,000 Food (This is barebones, we can spend more than that and usually do)
- $1,000 Child (This used to be daycare and so on, but it is now books, clothes, toys)
- $1,000 Office (Envelopes, Electronics, etc)
- $2,335 Transportation (includes public transportation, parking, car, maintenance, etc)
- $1,655 Medical (includes Dental and Eyecare, any medication)
- $1,000 Eating Out (This has gone down since COVID)
- $750 Toiletries (Shampoo, Conditioner, Skincare)
- $2,000 Wardrobe (Clothes, accessories — all for myself)
- $1,000 Entertainment (Books, music, etc)
- $500 Fees (Government licenses, and so on)
- $500 Other (Miscellaneous payments)
Total = $24,240
Again, this is just what I currently spend more or less as a comfortable minimum (I can go even lower than this obviously, down to $1,300/month or $15,600 if I really tried).
I can also spend 3X this, as evidenced above in previous years, when I eat out more, shop more, travel more, had our son in daycare, and so on.
Become a Millionaire in your 30's: Young Millionaire Journey
Why is it important for you to build up your wealth?
Because I am a woman.
We are more likely to work less due to maternity leave (and just being pregnant is rough), work for less money than what we are worth, save less money, live longer than our spouses, end up financially destitute or in the dark if our spouses leave us and are unable to handle anything, which ends up being a financial mess that may take a lifetime to dig out of.
On top of that, we are more likely to end up with our children if there is a separation, while not having the security of guaranteed child support (so many fathers are deadbeats), and be saddled with family or elder/aging care responsibilities. All of this is added emotional stress and expenses.
Lastly, we are definitely penalized with a motherhood tax at work by being seen as less competent, or being seen as undesirable because we are of childbearing age, or have to handle our children while men who do the same thing as fathers gain in more money and status.
We also pay more for everything in general from haircuts to clothes to having to wear makeup or do beauty things to a certain societal standard.
All of this? Scares me. Everything is stacked against me being a woman. This is why I am financially independent. I won't ever rely on anyone, not the government, my parents, my family, my partner, my son, to ever provide for me. It's unfair to put that responsibility on them, but also, I don't need to. Plus, I want to be able to help, not be helped.
Related Interview: Why the World is Better Off When Women Make More – with Farnoosh Tarobi
What is one financial mistake you’ve made during your young millionaire journey?
I was not as careful as I should have been with my money coming out of school and even in recent years as evidenced by my spending. I didn't live a student life and had a 3-bedroom apartment to myself while working 2 jobs and going to school. I spent every penny I made until I graduated.
Then even in recent years, I have been spending upwards to almost $60K just on myself alone, when I think $30K or $40K is a more reasonable budget (or should be). A lot of wasted money there, for sure. I don't regret it, but I could have been far more careful.
Don't get me wrong, I still saved a lot of money, but I recognize I have also been spending recklessly. These days, I am far more laser-focused on my income and my spending, and much more discerning about what I decide to buy.
What book has been most influential to you?
The first book I ever read was The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley & Danko. I don't follow their mandates 100%, but in spite of not driving a beat-up car anymore that is at least 3 years old, I am definitely a PAW (Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth).
I have made an average salary of $80K over the years because I have only worked 50% of the time, and I am at about 2.2X – 4X higher than what my net worth should be for my age depending on what metric you use, considering I have not had any money given to me or anything paid for since I was 19 and moved out on my own.
What is one financial hack that has helped you that you think most people don’t know about?
Not paying for an accountant to make sure you are doing the best you can in maximizing your tax returns is the worst thing you can do. Not maximizing your retirement contribution plans, or not holding certain investments in accounts where you pay the least amount of tax possible.
Where do you find the most joy in your life?
I know some people are expecting me to say my son or my family, or something cliché and although they absolutely give me joy and happiness, I am also a woman, and an individual with my own feelings aside from being pigeonholed into this devoted, selfless, mother role society has for us once we become mothers (fathers don't have the same stigma by the way).
So what truly gives ME the most joy in life, is challenging myself to see how far I can go. I am beating my own numbers, such as my side incomes (making more money than I did the year before), or negotiating a higher rate when I work.
I find great joy and peace in being financially independent on my own because I am my own Sugar Daddy.
I like seeing my net worth growth over the years, and my accomplishments. I never thought I'd reach becoming a millionaire by 36 and frankly didn't care much about arbitrary goals (e.g. millionaire by 30, or 40), because what I cared about was just being balanced in life; not working too much, working too little, being financially independent and confident that no matter what happens, I can handle myself (and now my son), by myself.
For the 20-something with a $0 net worth, what advice would you give them to become a millionaire in their 30's?
Track all of your money and get a baseline for what you spend so you have an idea of where you can trim the fat and be careful, and conscious about your purchases. A $5 trinket won't break your bank, but multiple $5 ones will soon eat away at your future wealth.
Start saving now — as much as you can, and investing every penny into the stock market. Not necessarily buying individual stocks, but index funds, and just keep plowing in your money day after day. You only need $190/month in your 20s to reach $1M at 65. Imagine if you put more than that? You'd reach $1M a lot sooner.
Once you reach $100K and then $500K, it will be much MUCH easier to hit $1M. It may seem like nothing at the start, but consistency is worth it.
Are you working on becoming a millionaire in your 30's?
Please let us know in the comments below.
I wish there was more of a roadmap on how to be a consultant in general, that’s definitely the secret to achieving all of this and getting the work life balance. Everything else falls into place after that. I’d like to see this sort of thing but for artists / low income people.
I like that sentiment Sheri. Owning your time and doing work you love (for decent pay) is something a lot of people are striving for.
I’ve found a lot of luck through finding like-minded people online and asking them how they’ve done it. Then I keep practicing until I get to the life I love.
I absolutely love Sherry, like you she is a creative and inspiring writer. Even though my senior life is nothing like hers, or yours for that matter, her content resonates. Turns out wisdom isn’t particularly doled out to older people, nor to men, she’s great proof of that. I think its great you chose her to interview, she’s way wise and a facile communicator. And of course, you are doing pretty darn well yourself, although I have to give your wife at least 51% of the credit for that.
I love how she opens up and shares her success. This will help others who read find out HOW she’s done so well for herself.
And you are definitely right about our family’s success — I couldn’t have done any of it without my wife.