How I Saved $100K at 25

They say the first $100K is the hardest. And it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

When I was 23, I realized that if I pushed myself — got a bit uncomfortable to save and earn more while spending less — I could hit six-figures saved by the end of my 25th year.

I officially achieved that goal on Sept. 16, 2019 — over 9 months ahead of schedule!

Saving six-figures is a huge feat, but I feel especially proud of my journey — I live and work in Seattle (one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.) and have never made above $80k a year. Here’s exactly the choices I’ve made and the opportunities I’ve had to get me here.

  1. I made tens of thousands side hustling

This kick-started my journey towards six-figures. In addition to saving the majority of my 9-5 salary, my first year of freelance social media marketing made me quite a bit of cash that I could immediately save. This first client honestly overpaid me for the work I ended up doing (the scope ended up being less than I thought it would be, and I also negotiated more.) I was able to establish both a SEP IRA and a fully-funded emergency fund with my earnings.

2. I started investing early

Knowing that compound interest is so important, I wanted to start investing early to have my money work for me. Once I started my first big-girl job, I opened my first Roth IRA. Starting to save for retirement at age 22, I was able to max out my Roth each year and also contribute to the SEP IRA and a non-retirement investment account. My first job out of school had a 401(k), but you couldn’t contribute until you were there at least a year. Knowing I wasn’t planning on staying long — I was at that job for a year and a few months — I opened a Roth 401(k) and then rolled my earnings to my Roth IRA. {TOOL: Use Status Money to compare your spending and saving with your peers to see if you’re on track.}

3. I graduated without student debt

If you have student debt, I please encourage you to not scoff at me and stop reading here (because I like to think I’ll offer great advice throughout this article that you may be able to apply.) But this journey has not just been good choices and hard work — it’s also been privilege. I want to acknowledge that I had a support system that helped with college — my teachers who guided me so I could get grades that warranted a merit scholarship; my parents for helping me start my first business at age nine (all the funds went to my college education) and also contributed their own money for my college; and mentors and bosses throughout my jobs while in school, whose earnings also went to paying off my college. I myself worked hard to make sure I graduated without debt, but my parents worked harder. I acknowledge and deeply appreciate the privilege of graduating without student debt — I wanted to honor that privilege by contributing over $30,000 of my own teenage money through my part-time jobs (3 while in school, and one in the summer) and my vending machine business.

4. I negotiated salary offers and raises

Negotiating, while scary, should be a collaboration, not a confrontation. Growing up, I watched my father sit on hold, patiently waiting to negotiate our cable and phone bills. I went with him to work and followed along as he closed deals and made connections. In high school, I sat in the car dealership lobby for 3 hours watching TV while my parents haggled the price of a car. Negotiation was always part of my life, and I grew up with parents who knew how to do it. So when I was offered my first social media freelance gig, I negotiated over $10k more than they offered. And after achieving a 20% bump at my first 9-5, I negotiated $20k more than what was offered at my next job. And $10k more at the next job. If negotiating for raises freaks you out, here’s a guide that can help.

5. I’ve automated my savings

Automating your money not only makes your life easier, but it makes you feel like the percentage you’re saving just doesn’t exist. In Gusto (our payroll platform at my 9-5), I have a 22% of each paycheck deposited into a high-yield savings account. This savings account is purposefully at a different bank than my day-to-day checking account, so I’m less likely to withdraw from it and less likely to think about it. This “set it and forget it” level of financial freedom was something I worked hard for -- through money diarying, budgeting, and conscious spending. So now, my savings amount is completely on autopilot.

The Downside

The biggest stressor to me on this journey is, well, life. Say I lose my job, or we have another recession hit. I can say right now that I’m on track to have this savings goal met, but who knows what’s going to happen? I know when it happens — even if it isn’t when I’m 25 — I’ll be proud of myself. But I’ll always be most proud of is the community of women I’m educating.

I built Her First $100k to be a platform chockfull of resources, actionable strategies, inspiration, and a community of people achieving their first $100k. Whether that’s earned, saved, invested, or something else, I want to give women the tools to fight gender inequality by getting damn good with money. Because money means freedom.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. Join the community!


I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?

Charlie: My go-to (free!) budgeting tool that tracks your spending and progress towards goals.

Ebates: Gives you free cash back on almost all your favorite stores via a desktop plug-in.

Trim: You remember that time where I talked about how you should be negotiating all of your bills? (You should.) I know it's scary — that's where Trim comes in. Trim will negotiate cable and phone bills FOR YOU.

Status: Wanna see if you’re on track when it comes to your monthly spending and total savings? This (again, free) tool compares your financial numbers to others in your age group, city, etc.

Personal Capital: The tool I check daily, Personal Capital is the best tool for tracking your net worth and your progress towards goals like saving, debt payoff, and (yes!) $100K.

The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.