How This Canadian Millennial Saved Over $100,000 Before Age 26
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Started from the bottom
I used to be scared of people finding out I grew up poor.
I was embarrassed that I grew up in a 2-bedroom apartment with my family of 6. I was embarrassed that I shared a room with my 3 brothers. And I was even more embarrassed that in an effort to have some privacy, I slept in the closet.
I would have been mortified if anyone ever found out, and I hid that secret until my mid-twenties.
I didn’t want anyone to know the truth about me.
The truth was, my parents moved from Mexico in 1996. We lived in a hotel room, and then a motel room before settling into a 2 bedroom apartment.
I desperately wanted to fit in and didn’t want to ever feel poor.
At age 12, I got my first job, delivering newspapers and I haven’t stopped hustling since then. I’ve worked as a beekeeper’s assistant, a waitress, a data analyst, a marketing consultant, and most recently, a financial literacy mentor.
Throughout university, I lived in a basement apartment and applied for every scholarship I could get my hands on. By my first year of school, I had multiple scholarships ranging from $500 bursaries to $2,000 grants. My entire first year was paid through community scholarships, based on the essays I had submitted. Though the year was covered, I still worked full-time, while I went to school full-time. Soon, I was saving $500 a month, and then $1,000 a month, while I was still a student. I opened up an investing account at my bank and dipped my feet into mutual funds.
By 3rd-year university, I had saved enough money to pay back my student loans so I walked into the bank and proudly paid off my OSAP.
After graduating from McMaster University with a Geography degree in 2013, I worked at the City of Hamilton as a co-op student. My job was to promote composting and recycling across the city and I was responsible for the blog and social media marketing for the department. As my income grew, I continued living like a student. I didn’t buy a car, I didn’t upgrade my wardrobe, I didn’t splurge. But I didn’t deprive myself of joys either. By age 21, I had traveled to over 20 countries, by backpacking, hitchhiking, and couchsurfing.
I chose my priorities. I knew my goals. I worked hard, saved, invested, kept my expenses low, and spent money on what I valued.
I continued working entry-level government jobs and as a creative outlet, I started a side-hustle in 2015. After work, I managed social media accounts for small businesses and grew my side-hustle into a profitable gig within a few short months.
By mid-2016, I had saved over $53,000 and I was ready to buy a house. The housing market in my area was competitive, but after three weeks of aggressive house hunting, I put down 20% on my first property. This left me with very little money in my bank account so it was time to rebuild.
I organized my finances, optimized my accounts, and created a new investing strategy. Instead of mutual funds, I started investing in more ETFs and stocks. By continuing to live below my means and running a side-hustling on top of my day-job, I was able to save over $2,000 a month.
By early 2019, I had over $60,000 in my bank account, just 3 years after I was starting from almost zero.
I was ready to purchase a second property, without taking money out of the first house. This time, I bought a duplex, with my partner.
I can gladly say I don’t feel ashamed of my financial situation. I am no longer embarrassed of having people come over.
I went from sleeping in a closet and living in a 2-bedroom apartment to owning 2 properties before I turned 29. To accomplish that, I had to be efficient and strategic. I worked multiple jobs and consciously cut out expenses. I saved aggressively and then grew my savings by investing.
I set time aside to teach myself about finances.
The learning never ends, and neither does the hustle.
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