I spent 3 years saving 25% of my take-home pay thanks to a handful of everyday strategies that made all the difference
- I saved 25% of my take-home pay from my corporate job while I was building my own business on the side - and now I've saved $100,000.
- I was able to save such a big chunk of my earnings thanks to four everyday strategies: priority-based spending, choosing to live in a more affordable area, automating my savings, and increasing my savings rate by just 1% at a time.
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After building my business on the side for almost three years, I recently left my 9-5 day job to take my company to the next level.
During the three years I was side-hustling, I saved 25% of my take-home pay from my corporate job, ultimately increasing my life's savings to $100,000. To reach that $100,000, I had to prioritize how I would save the money. But with good planning and my favorite money tools, I was able to figure out how to make it work and reach my savings goal.While I don't plan on using my $100,000 to fund my business, it helps knowing that it's there as a if-ish-hits-the-fan fund.
Here's exactly how I did it:
1. Priority-based spending
I always say that you don't have to stop spending money - you just need to stop spending money on things you don't value. Think Marie Kondo style: Does this bring me happiness? Is this useful? Find the three categories in your life where you get the most joy out of your discretionary income (travel, food out, and nesting are my three.) Then decide to spend heavily there, and spend little to nothing on other things.
Besides normal living expenses such as rent, bills, food, and debt, extra spending is usually done mindlessly. That's why so many people don't understand where their paycheck goes. I use apps like Charlie to help track my daily spending, and set a budget.
2. Living in a lower-cost neighborhood in Seattle
Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the US. The average one-bedroom apartment in the city costs roughly $2,100 a month. I live in a quieter neighborhood slightly outside the city, where my monthly rent is closer to $1,500 a month. That's $600 in savings a month! Did it make my commute longer? Yes. However, I loved using my commute time to catch up on podcasts or chat with friends and family; and for my lifestyle, it was worth it.
3. Automating savings
One thing I recommend to my clients is setting up a high-yield savings account. The bank I use is CIT Bank, which is basic online banking with a current APY that's nearly 20 times higher than your average brick and mortar Chase or Wells Fargo, which give you about 0.1%.Once I had my high-yield savings set up, I made sure to schedule automatic payments moving money from my checking to my high-yield savings. This made it super easy and I never had to think about moving money manually. Once the money was in savings, it meant the money wasn't going anywhere.
Lastly, if you have direct deposit, your employer might allow you to allocate part of your paycheck to go directly into a savings account so you don't need to remember to automate it yourself. This is how I was able to save so much money - it was on autopilot!
4. Increasing savings by 1% at a time
One percent might not sound like much. That's exactly the point. I evaluate my budget often - and whenever I got a raise, I made sure to reset my budget and increase my savings. And whenever I was feeling a little crazy, I would readjust my savings rate and bump it up a percent (I never felt it!). Small increases add up over time, especially if you're putting them into a high-yield savings account or investing the earnings. Your money is working harder for you that way.
The biggest trick to start saving money is to have a goal in mind. Whether that's paying off credit card debt, funding your emergency savings, or growing your investments, have a goal you're working towards so you can keep yourself accountable.
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