You May Make $5K, but not a $100K

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How To Save Your First $100,000

Modified date: September 5, 2020

That’s a common mantra on wealth-building blogs and investor forums.

In fact, saving your first $100,000 can be quite simple. If you’re willing to make some sacrifices early on, you’ll have that kind of money (or more) in no time.

In this article, I’ll show you a step-by-step process for saving your first $100,000 in as little as five years. While it won’t be easy, it also doesn’t have to be complicated. Let me show you what I mean.

Steps 1-3: Before you start

1. Adjust your mindset

If you want to save $100,000, you’re going to have to think and act different than most people around you. There’s a reason that almost 50 percent of Americans have nothing saved for retirement.

Why is that? We overspend. We live beyond our means.

So before doing anything else, adjust your mindset.

This means sacrifice. It doesn’t mean you can never drink a grande mocha again, but it means you can’t buy Starbucks twice a day, every day. It doesn’t mean you can’t own a car, but it means you probably can’t lease a new BMW every 30 months. You have to live beneath your means.

2. Establish your money goals

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to’, said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go, said the Cat’

-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Once you’ve decided you want to live a frugal life, the next step is to set up money goals. The point is to plan a vision of where you want to go.

There are plenty of ways you can get creative with this, but my favorite way is to visualize my goals. Many people do this with paying off debt, but it works just as well with savings goals. For example, Map Your Progress creates images to color in as you reach milestones for your goals.

3. Swear off credit card debt

Having debt is going to throw a wrench in your plan to save $100,000. Before you start saving your first $100,000, you need to get rid of your high-interest debt.

Follow this guide we’ve put together on how to pay off your debt. When you get rid of your credit card debt, you can start working toward that big savings account.

Steps 4-5: Time to save

4. Create a budget

Before you know how much you can set aside, you’ll need to know where you’re spending your money and then a rough plan for how to reduce your spending and increase your saving.

Yes, we’re talking about the dreaded budget. But there are ways to make budgeting easier. For example, check out Money Under 30’s simple ‘no more budgets’ method.

You could also use one of the many free or low-cost tools that will track your spending for you. Here are some of our favorites.

These resources have different pros and cons, so do some research before committing to one. For example, You Need A Budget (YNAB) requires more manual tracking, but it provides you much more detail on your spending. It all depends on how much time you want to invest in budgeting.

A good place to start with budgeting is to knock off between 20 and 30 percent of what you typically spend, then set that as your budget amount. For instance, let’s say you find that you spend $400 per month on groceries. You’ll want to shave 20-30 percent off of that amount to use as your grocery budget, like so:

$400 – (400 x .20) = $320

So you would start with a grocery budget of $320 and see how you do. Look at your budget categories each month and try to cut them even further.

5. Save, save, save


By now you’ve figured out the first steps and you’ve created a budget. Now it’s time to start saving that $100,000!

To do this (especially in five years) you’ll have to be aggressive with your saving. Remember when I said “adjust your mindset”? Well, this is it.

For starters, look into your company’s 401(k) plan. If they have one, sign up now. You can contribute up to $18,500 per year.

Figure out whatever percentage of your check you need to take out to add up to $18,500 by the end of the year. Then take that percentage out of every paycheck.

For example, let’s say you make $40,000 per year:

$18,500 / $40,000 = 46 percent

So you’ll need to sock away 46% of your gross income to reach this milestone. This doesn’t take into consideration company matches, so you might not have to contribute that much to hit $18,500 in total contributions. But be sure you don’t go over $18,0500 in personal contributions, though, or you may get hit with penalties. (Your total contribution maximum—of your and your employer’s contributions—is either $55,000 or 100 percent of your salary, whichever’s less.)

And yes, 46 percent does sound like a lot. Maybe you can’t do that right away. But if everyone was doing it, more than half of Americans would have more than $0.00 in their retirement savings. How will you separate yourself from the pack?

Roth IRA

After you’ve maxed out your 401(k), you’ll want to set up a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs have a ton of benefits, too. In 2020 and 2020, the maximum contribution for a Roth IRA is $5,500 per year. Also, this is after-tax money, so you’ll have to include that in your budget.

How does this add up to $100,000?

Using our simple longterm investment calculator, you can see that by maxing out both of these accounts ($23,500 a year or $1,958 a month) at an average 5 percent return, you’ll have over $100,000 in five years.

Steps 6-7: Checking in

6. Is this realistic?

At this point you might be thinking it’s not realistic to be able to save close to $24,000 per year. And it might not be for you. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

If you can’t afford to put away that much money in savings, start somewhere. Put away as much as you can afford. It might take you longer to reach your goal, but it’s better to have some savings than no savings.

I will still challenge you to think outside of the box, though. Think differently than others. Just do a Google search for “early retirement” and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of bloggers sharing their stories of how they’ve saved 50 percent or more of their income. It is possible, you just have to want it and be willing to sacrifice other things.

7. Don’t worry about balances fluctuating (or even tanking)

Let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to retire in five years. But I’m writing this to show you that it’s completely possible to save a bunch of money in a short amount of time.

That said, the balances in your account will fluctuate. They may even tank when the stock market dips.

The thing you need to remember is that this is normal. You’re going to see ebbs and flows in the market—that’s just how it goes.

This shouldn’t stop you from being aggressive with your savings goals. It also shouldn’t stop you from putting your money into the stock market altogether.

To see returns on your money, you’ll have to take on some risk. And if you start early when you’re young, you’ll have some time before you retire. This will allow you to take on more risk.


While saving $100,000 seems daunting, it’s not difficult if you put your mind (and your money) to it. If you’re interested in getting started, look into some of the investment accounts we recommend opening an account with. Also, spend some time reading through our articles on saving money and investing to build your knowledge base and comfort level.

Remember, you have the ability to save tremendous amounts of money and retire early. You just have to want it and be willing to do what it takes to get there.

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Article comments

We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30. Comments have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser, nor are they reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

Savings is no a bad idea. What I’m struggling with is putting with 401k and etc. There is no law that says any return is guaranteed, no free cheese. Government does this for reason, stimulate market, making sure people do not have cash flow etc, for whatever but not to help you. If one believes in free money – try to buy sandwich in McDonalds paying, say, $3.91 instead of $4, see reaction.
Plus it motivates in my opinion irresponsible behavior: one cannot save $100 a month in cash but somebody else will magically give that person ten fold 25 years…. nah…
Money is what’s in pocket, money in the cloud isn’t money, fake.
Please coment, thank you!

Great article, Chris. Like some of the above commenters mentioned, I’m all about saving my money but I question the amount going into retirement accounts. I personally fund my company 401k to the match and then max out my Roth IRA. After that, everything I’ve saved above the 4-5 grand that keeps me comfortably afloat in my checking/savings account goes to my regular taxable Vanguard mutual funds. I don’t plan to touch this until I choose to buy a house one day. (I’m currently 24, single, and loving the studio apartment life).

The way I see it is this. I have plenty in retirement accounts that have certain tax benefits either upfront or down the road. I also believe that it’s great to have money that is still more liquid for other life events and investments working for me in regular non-retirement mutual funds. I make sure they are low expense ratio passively managed index funds.

I’m excited to hit the 100k milestone this year рџ™‚

I’m 26 and just reached 100K recently. I 100% agree with you. If you have discipline to not touch the money, i’d say max your match w/ your employer 401k and max roth ira ($5500). I like throwing the rest of my money in index funds, individual stocks if you’re into research and that fits your risk profile. I’m also on a high deductible health care plan with an HSA so I can max that out each year as well which is about $3500.

I’m 26 and I just got my first real Salary Job so far I have about $15K saved, since I’m not married I stay with my mom and pay $300 + $30 steak dinner at Long Horn for her every Month, I’ve started paying off my $5669.00 worth of Credit Debt. What else could I do after I pay off all debt by Dec 31st of this year? I’m paying off debt twice a month to eliminate as quick as possible and save the rest for a Rainy Day. Due to me coming from a poor environment as a child I have made it a mission to live comfortably before trying to start a family, I understand that living with my mom at 26 is a bad look but in ATL, you can’t beat $330 a month. I’m also picking up a third part time over night position and plan on using that income to pay off $30K worth of Student loans, & a $10,000 Car loan. What Advice could you all give me to add to the Mission of saving my first $100,000 as I am willing to Sacrifice now for a better life 20 years from now. I would like to Also mention that I plan on Buying 10 Acres in Central Anerica to build housing for Vacationing to create residual income. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I’m looking to beat the statistics and build my own wealth.

Morgan – Congrats on your diligent approach – it will pay off in the long run! My suggestions – Keep in mind I am not a professional but have basically lived thru the situation you are describing – Just a couple years ahead of you…

1.) Credit Debt: Assuming this is Credit Card debt which typically is accompanied by very high interest rates, paying this off in it’s entirety should be priority #1. For example, if you are only making minimum payments and accruing interest charges at 15%+, you are doing more harm than good putting money into any investment accounts as I doubt they will be the return you are paying on your credit card debt
2.) Student Loans – Refinance if the rates are high and make sure you are claiming the tax break for the interest on your student loans assuming you qualify. If you are paying a relatively low rate on these loans and are able to claim the tax deduction, then it may not be in your best interest to pay these off ahead of schedule if your money could achieve higher returns elsewhere

My personal mantra for retirement savings has been (1) Max out employer 401k if match you have one — If they match $1 for $1, this is a guaranteed 100% return! (2) Contribute to a Roth IRA (in lieu of Traditional IRA) …. By diligently contribution towards your Roth well in advance of your retirement, you are able to let compounding go to work for you and grow your returns tax free…. Any withdrawals from your Roth (assuming you are appropriate age to avoid penalties) in the future will be tax free. 3.) If you still have funds to save after maxing 1 & 2 – I would look to alternative investments… Does saving to buy a house make sense for you?, etc…. In the interim I would contribute the funds as you save into a brokerage account that utilizes automatic tax loss harvesting to manage your account and keep your current year tax burden as low as possible…. These services are actually surprisingly affordable (and even free in some cases)… I have used WealthFront and am very pleased with the approach/results to date.

Hope this helps – By no means a fool-proof plan, but has been my approach to date. Good luck!

What is your suggestion if your company does not offer a 401k? I’m highly motivated (maxed out my Roth IRA in January) to save and invest, but I get lost on what to do on my own.

Hey Valerie – I would look into a few options. The first would be to make sure you’re maxing that IRA out every single year. After that, I’d look at opening a taxable investment account. That way you still have control over your investments, but you will pay more in taxes (since it doesn’t have the benefits of a Roth IRA). Other accounts to look into are a myRA, CD, or a 529 (if you have kids). As always, check with an investment pro before doing anything major. Hope this helps рџ™‚

Chris- great post! We are on track to save 100K before 30 in our 401K and Roth IRAs! With compound interest we should have much more than that (if the stock market continues to perform…) plus the 100K equity in our house, all resulting from living below our means! Keep up the motivation!

Hey Preston… congrats! That’s awesome. I should say the same to you (keep up the motivation). Good luck рџ™‚

I agree getting to the first 100,000 is the hardest. After that it’s a cake walk for the simple fact that you have conditioned yourself to building wealth and improving your finances.

Great point Michael. Building the mindset is crucial.

Chris, this is truly excellent. I really think you’ve hit on all the keys. In particular:

“You have to live beneath your means.”
“The point is to plan a vision of where you want to go.”
“Before you start saving your first $100,000, you need to get rid of your high-interest debt.”
“Before you know how much you can set aside, you’ll need to know where you’re spending your money and then a rough plan for how to reduce your spending and increase your saving.”
“How will you separate yourself from the pack?”

Also your point about doing what everyone else is doing is wonderful. Most of the people we know are saving nothing or not nearly enough, so we shouldn’t derive comfort from imitating their lifestyles and choices. In fact we might be better off imitating George Costanza: “I will do the opposite!”

Thanks for writing.

Hey Kurt! Anyone who makes a Seinfeld reference has to be right! We fall into this trap of reading blogs and seeing the news about people who retired at 30 years old. That’s amazing if you can do it, but it’s not always realistic. You have to start somewhere, and you have to do what’s best for YOU.

As you have pointed out, it is all about mindset. While not everyone can max out their 401k and Roth IRA, just about everyone can figure out how to save money. It takes clear goals and commitment to do it, but it is possible. You just need to think about what you want out of life and how saving will help you get there.

Exactly. I also like to set clearly defined goals (and use visuals) to make sure I’m on track.

But WHY do you need to save 100k in the next 5 years? What good does 100k do you sitting in your retirement accounts? It doesn’t help you retire early because last I checked you can’t access money in a retirement account before standard retirement age.

Because it is a start. once the ball is rolling, perhaps one would continue to save and then see some compounding start to work. And yes you can access money in retirment accounts before standard retirmnet age. There are rules of course, but easily followed. All plan custodians could explain them to you and many blogs talk about that too.

I agree with Alaska’s reply… it’s a start and it helps you create the mindset to retire early. The goal isn’t to stop investing or saving after you’ve reached 100k, in fact it’s to keep the momentum going. People think it’s impossible to save this much money, but I wanted to show the math behind it and show that it’s very possible.

While I can mostly agree with item 5, especially if the goal is to max out both your 401k and Roth IRA, I believe that if you have to fall short in one account, I would not max out the 401k leaving your Roth unfilled. Roth can be a much better account to max.

In my case, I make about $40k(hopefully moving onto better options soon) so maxing out both at this point would be a little too tight(don’t look in the directions of Starbucks on my walk to work). So far I contribute to my 401k up to the match, then make sure I can max out my Roth IRA, then go back to my 401k to add some more.

While I am not quite to the point I can max both accounts comfortably, the sense of maxing my Roth gives me a mental boost to want to stretch for the 401k max. additionally, while I have a decent emergency fund, if I had a major accident that broke me and my vehicle, and put me out of work, I would hate to have to pay penalties on my 401k, when I could have taken the principal from my Roth tax free.

All said, if you have the money, max everything and set yourself for life.

–sent to you from the sunny side of $100k in less than 5 years.

Yeah I’d probably agree with you. I would fill up the 401k up to my match, max out the Roth, then try to max out the 401k in full (in that order) if I couldn’t do it immediately.

“This doesn’t take into account company matches, so you may need to contribute less.” Correction: Company matches aren’t part of the 401k contribution maximum, so there is no need to reduce the contribution percentage. Please clarify.

It’s been clarified. Thanks for pointing that out, Jonathan.

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You May Make $5K, but not a $100K

IMO the bet is staged.

1. Only 5k each in escrow?
2. The guy you bet against is the guy that is in charge of your food? He could spike it, or at the very least the fear of him tampering with it could affect someone in a delusional state. Also how do you give the person you bet against the ability to randomly decide when you will be brought food?
3. There are 5 cameras set up? How big is this bathroom? Is it staged for TV?
4. Why is his lawyer watching? Doctor might make more sense if it was just for a wager.
5. Drug test weekly? Explain that process.
6. Why would the link to the cameras need to be kept private if there wasn’t a tv deal?
8. Last, but certainly not least: One of the bettors is nicknamed Scumbag Rich.

Doubt it’s staged unless you’ve seen some attempt to make commercial success off of it. If they start taking bets, charging for a feed, taking sponsorships, doing a lot more than a single media interview that got pasted across news sites with the same exact info in each one (lol) and other stuff, sure, I’d be more suspicious, but seems like the opposite of staging it, looks like it hit the radar organically and far from max profitable to this point if you were to commercialize it.

5% or even 0% is pretty standard for HS gamblers. Not what I’d accept for someone I just met, I’d probably want us each to put 100k in an escrow, it’s only 30 days, but I’m not a HS gambler.

Private feed makes sense, who wants the public watching them piss, **** and probably go partially insane even if you were successful? It’s not a spectacle for the guy trying to win, at least not in this case.

Bathroom is probably a good sized master bath in a suburban home. Spiking food would be a DQ, proof might be hard, but I think the bettor likely had a chance to have someone provide him food, his choice.

If your point is that this would drive someone to insanity, I’m sure you’re correct.

It would almost be like that test on the TV show Lost where the guy had to hit the button once an hour for 10 years or whatever.

Didnt think about interrupted sleep patterns, that would be a concern.

Thread: Question for WIS with a 10k+ watch who make under 100k.

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Question for WIS with a 10k+ watch who make under 100k.

Do you ever feel guilty about it, knowing a large chunk of your annual income is on your wrist? Do you ever feel guilty about it, or do you embrace it? Do you wear it daily or only sometimes?

Question for WIS with a 10k+ watch who make under 100k.

Different numbers but same proportions, or “worse”.

But no, never felt guilty about it, I value the money, so if I chose to buy a watch with it, it’s because I value the watch as well and really love it.

I would wear it whenever I feel like, wouldnt have an issue wearing it daily as long as it’s not a dress watch, wearing a dress watch daily isn’t my thing.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

The watch enthusiast who secretly hopes the GMT Master will come in a 44mm diameter someday.

Last edited by DrDavid90; June 23rd, 2020 at 08:42 .

Re: Question for WIS with a 10k+ watch who make under 100k.

it would be monumentally irresponsible, but hey, its a free country so do what you want – just don’t expect others to pay for your retirement if you are broke when you are 75.

Exercise 1.

Match the following phrases using the preposition of. Make up 5 sentences of your own, using the phrases.

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Яфранкенштейн123 19.04.2020


Проверено экспертом

1 – f (a loaf of bread)
2 – g (a bottle of wine)
3 – a (a slice of cheese)
4 – b ( a tube of toothpaste)
5 – c ( a kilo of meat)
6 – e ( a tin of sardines)
7 – h ( a bar of chocolate)
8 – d ( a glass of lemonade)

1. I had a loaf of bread, a slice of cheese and a glass of lemonade for breakfast yesterday.
2. I was about to open a bottle of wine when someone rang me.
3. A bar of chocolate is the best dessert for me!
4. “Get me a tube of toothpaste while you are at the store”, said Mike.
5. I bought a kilo of meat and cooked some tasty dish for family dinner.

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