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Money Gets Personal: How Time in the Market Helped Us Grow Our Portfolio to $200k in 3 Years

This is a series that highlights real people who use the Personal Capital Dashboard and gives insights into how they are achieving their financial goals. The goal of this series is to give you a transparent look into the numbers and motivations of people who are building wealth, so that you are better equipped to do the same. 

Today, we’ll hear from Jen Smith. She hosts the Frugal Friends Podcast and is a professional writer from central FL. She shares how she learned the importance of long-term investing. This approach has helped her family grow their investment accounts substantially in just three short years. 

Name: Jen S.

Occupation: Writer

Age: 32

Location: Central FL

Married/Single: Married

Household Income: $88,000

Net Worth: $393,000

Assets: $200k in investments, $347k home ($193k in equity)

Liabilities: $154k home loan

Inheritance or Windfall: $0

When did you start tracking your net worth?

When we bought our home in Feb 2017, we started using Personal Capital’s free tools. At the time our net worth was -$20k.

Why was tracking your net worth important to you?

We were paying off our student loans at the time and we knew our house would increase in equity that wouldn’t be easily seen. We wanted one place where we could track everything and see our full financial picture as we became debt free and started building wealth.

What has been the best thing you’ve done to increase your net worth over time?

Starting to invest as early as possible was the best move we made.

We started in 2018 and, compared to the results we’d seen in 2015-2017, that year didn’t feel like a great time to be investing in the stock market. But now we see firsthand how significant time in the market is compared to timing the market.

What has been the best thing you’ve done to increase your income?

My husband left his job in 2019 to take a better paying job even though the shift was not ideal. In 2021, he returned to his old job and got another pay increase along with a better schedule.

Those 2 years were hard but totally worth it because there’s no way he would be making what he makes now by staying at the original job and hoping for a raise.

What has been the best thing you’ve done to control your expenses?

We’re very consistent with meal planning. We eat at home 4-5 nights per week, waste very little food, and make virtually no impulse buys (thanks to online grocery shopping!)

Why is it important for you to grow your wealth?

We wanted to start investing early so that later in life we could invest less and not worry about saving for retirement.

Now instead of investing all our money to “catch up” we can use that money to take trips, work less, and enjoy life before retirement, all while knowing we’re going to reach our goals.

Related Article: Is It Too Late to Start Saving for Retirement at 30?

What is one financial mistake you’ve made during your financial journey?

I don’t want to call it a mistake but if I could go back, I think I’d invest in real estate before we had our son. The thought of flipping or fixing up distressed real estate with a toddler sounds overwhelming, and I didn’t realize how attainable real estate investing was when we had the time to do so.

What is one financial hack you think most people don’t know about?

My favorite financial hack is using short “no-spend challenges” to detox your spending and show you the expenses you may be making mindlessly or out of habit. It’s so useful to shake up your routine every so often so you know what you can do to improve self-discipline with spending.

Outside of building wealth, what brings you the most joy in life?

Spending time with friends and family is my greatest joy.

What financial goals do you have for the next 5-10 years?

In the next 5 years we’d like to start investing in real estate and within 10 years we should hit $1 million in retirement investments.

If someone was looking to grow their net worth like you have, what is  one piece of wisdom you’d share with them?

Consider starting with paying off non mortgage debt. It’s a guaranteed return on investment and will build habits in you for healthy financial habits long-term.

Then once you’ve developed those habits, think about investing. There’s no benchmark or net worth number that indicates you’re ready to invest.

As long as you have habits that support having extra money to invest, you’re ready.

Get Started Tracking Your Financial Progress

 

 

This is an unpaid endorsement of an individual who uses Personal Capital’s free financial tools. This individual is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”). The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money. Any opinions or statements shared by third-party are their own and may not be representative of the experience of others or indicative of future performance or success. PCC and PCAC do not endorse or adopt any content on a third party site that may be linked to from this page.

Any reference to the advisory services refers to PCAC, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC. Advisory services are offered for a fee and provided by Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”).

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