The first $100,000 is the hardest.

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic as of late and have been rummaging through old files on my computer. That’s when I happened upon this gem of me back in my glory days….

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Look at those thunderous calves. Those luscious locks. Those chubby cheeks.

It’s no wonder Girl Ninja desperately wanted to bear my children.

After laughing at my baby pictures for a good 20 minutes, I started clicking through my old Excel spreadsheets.

These old spreadsheets taught me a very valuable lesson. A lesson that will be relevant for any of you who are in the early stages of getting your financial crap together. The lesson is this…

The first $100,000 is the hardest. 

I mean check out my net worth progression over the last seven years.

NW end of 2008: $18,617

NW end of 2009: $28,793

NW end of 2010: $63,714

NW end of 2011: $114,622 (first full year of dual income)

NW end of 2012: $168,878

NW end of 2013: $234,881

NW end of 2014: $288,180

As you can see it took me about four years to build up a net worth of $100,000. But then it only took two years to increase it another $100,000. And if my 2015 projections are close, these last two years will yield another $100,000 increase (which isn’t bad considering we gave up our dual income status).

The power of compounding is no joke. 

I mean think about it. If you have $10,000 invested for retirement and the market goes up 10% on the year, you’ve increased your net worth by $1,000.


But if you have $100,000 invested, you see a $10,000 jump.

Or better yet, once you have a cool million invested, a 10% jump just means you earned yourself $100,000 without doing a darn thing.

The rich really do get richer… Because they let their money make money. And then they let the money, their money made, make money.

How confusing and awesome and wonderful and rad and bodacious is that!!!!

At 29 years old, I’m pumped I’ve gotten a taste of just how sweet building a nest egg can be.

Hopefully my story can motivate a few of you to keep on chugging, even if things seem like they are moving slower than you prefer, don’t give up. Your future you will thank you for it.

Cheers to your first (or next) $100,000!

26 thoughts on “The first $100,000 is the hardest.”

  1. So I was just running my numbers this morning, and lo-and-behold, I’ve just hit my first $100,000 in networth! Holy cow! The way the markets have been has definitely helped this past year, but you are right about that compounding. The jumps weren’t quite as big when it was peanuts in there, but now that I’ve socked more (and more) away each month, those numbers just get bigger and bigger!

    Here’s to that NEXT $100,000!!

  2. Great post! I recently figured out that I’m going to hit my $200K mark in half the time I did for the first $100K. Definitely a lot to be said for the power of interest and keeping below your means post-salary increases.

  3. I’m trying to stay motivated, even though I’m in the hole about $160,000 from law school loans. Trying to make larger payments each month as much as possible. I look forward to the day when my net worth is in the green and I can start seeing these larger leaps in $$.

  4. Interesting post. I looked at my net worth history and it took me the following times to reach each 100K –> 3 yrs to 100K, 2.5 additional yrs to 200k, 2.25 yrs to 300k, 10 months to 400k, 7 months to 500k. Now we’re on month 9 and not at 600k, but my goal is to get to 700k by end of year which would mean 9 months on average for 600k and 700k milestones. So the hypothesis rings true in my experience!

    A few observations that I had as I looked at this:

    – a lot of this is driven by market timing, as noted above in another reply.
    – that said, with a bigger base, a push in the market allows for much shorter time frame between hitting milestones. This is why I really believe in maxing out retirement early, so you can taper off later if you want.
    – over the course of a decade, other things than the market factor in (or at least for me) – having kids (short blips of increased spending around the birth), going back to school, real estate transactions (which are expensive), etc.
    – these are basic observations, but underlying it all is that saving early, often, and consistently will pay off in the long run.

  5. We’ve also seen our net worth increase faster the higher it goes! It’s pretty awesome, although as others mentioned I think the recent bull market has helped a lot; I’m sure whenever we hit a bear market we may see a change in pattern, although we have real estate investments (rental properties) as well as stocks so hopefully the diversity will help with volatility. At any rate, bravo on starting young! I think that is truly one of the most important factors.

  6. It looks like dual income is a great way to increase your net worth. It put you over the first $100,000 pretty quickly.

    Maybe I need to change my goals for 2015 to be less about reducing debt, minimizing spending and saving and make them more about finding someone to share those goals with.

  7. It took us 7.5 years after college to reach 100k net worth in June ’14. If you count working years its more like 13! It didn’t help graduating college at negative 240k… Meanwhile, I think we will surpass 200k by the end of the year. Yay for moving forward!

  8. Are you including your house value (minus mortgage remaining) in your net worth? If so, that can explain the increase. You live in an area where housing continues to go up and up. We do, too, so although it appears as though our net worth is huge, much of that is in the house value.
    Our retirement accounts have also increased but really only to the point they were before the last crash. We’re retired so haven’t added to them so it’s pretty easy to see if they’ve gone up or not. Our accounts have survived three major downturns and that does affect things. We never pulled money out of the market–just kept investing until retirement. Still haven’t used any of that money so it will be interesting to see how much it grows until the govt. requires us to withdraw.

    • I sure do include the equity in our house in our net worth. But I don’t know why I wouldn’t. I had $80,000 in cash that I converted to equity when we bought our house. Are you suggesting when I made my down payment that money should be forfeited in my net worth?

      I do agree, however, that this is the least liquid of my assets. Although in this Seattle market I don’t think our house would take more than a week to go pending.

  9. I agree – in fact, I felt like the first 30k was the hardest! haha. Dual income sure helps out!

    Random question – do you still have the dog, and how is she doing? We are planning on getting a Vizsla shortly, and I’m curious how it worked out for you guys, esp. once the baby was born. Any dog related finances to share?

    (And uh, Nova is on my potential dog name list… maybe i read it here first and it was implanted in my brain! But actually, i was looking for names that had something to do with space, and google lead me to it.)

    • Yes we still have our dog, Nova. It’s kind of disgusting just how much we love her.

      She’s a ton of fun. Super sweet. And yes, high energy. Although I would say the energy is way more manageable then I feared it might.

      We will never not get a Vizsla now. We went on a walk with her and Baby Ninja the other day. Zero people commented on our baby. Eight people commented about our cute dog. Haha.

      • yay! Some people have strong opinions on whether vizslas + small children mix well. I’m glad to hear it worked well for you two. We don’t have kids yet, but it is my one hesitation on the Vizsla. They are soooo beautiful, and I am excited to have a hiking / running partner (once old enough to run).

        • She is super good with Baby Ninja. In fact we have to tell him to leave her alone instead of the other way around. Haha. We really made it a priority from when she was a pup to teach her gentle biting so she knows that she can’t chomp down on human flesh.

          Only concern down the road is that when she gets excited she moves pretty quickly and with a walking child she will probably knock him over at some point accidentally. But that would probably be true of any dog.

  10. I so wish that we had been keeping track of our net worth over time. Would be a great exercise to watch our progression. But we have surpassed the $200K in investments now and LOVE watching it grow and grow!!

  11. We are seeing similar compounding affect on our net worth as well. After all, 10% of $20,000 is a lot less than 10% of $100,000, so as your net worth increases, the overall increase picks up fast.

  12. I totally agree that the first $100K seems like it takes forever. It doesn’t help if you make a few bad decisions like I did with money early on. I am 28 and this month we will jump past the $200K net worth mark.

    I was actually doing the math and before any appreciation, dividends, or interest, our net worth should increase by about $70,000 this year. And if the market is good to us it could very well be $100,000.

    Looking forward to following you Ninja.

  13. The first $100k is definitely the hardest. It took a long time to get out from behind student loans and have compound interest work for us instead of against us

    But compound interest sure is a powerful force. For the past 2.5 years we’ve been retired early and traveling the world, really spending whatever we want, and surprise: our net worth is way higher than it was 2.5 years ago.

  14. Was just talking to my mom today and she asked how I was doing on saving up a down payment. That’s when I realized I’d already hit my first $100k and then some ages ago! Not sure so much if it’s actual “compounding” (as in interest/gains) so much as just long term stashing into savings adding up over time. But I definitely like seeing my net worth curve upward!

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