My 3 Guiding Principles to Saving $100,000 in 2017

If you’re a new reader to Distilled Dollar, then welcome!

I’ve noticed a large inflow of traffic lately, and my subscriber number has hit an all time high, both in terms of an absolute number and in terms of # of subscribers each day.

Thanks for signing up and I trust you’ll enjoy the site! If you haven’t already, check out the Start Here page that recaps much of my highlights in the past 18 months of blogging.

Today’s post will describe my 3 Guiding Principles to Saving $100,000 in 2017. While that number might seem large within one year, it is really the culmination of 5 years of, “figuring it out,” when it comes to money.

Full Disclaimer: My current savings through the first 9 months of 2017 is technically below par for saving $100,000 for the entire year. In full, the first 270 days have resulted in savings of $63,554.19 – not bad considering total savings for all of 2016 was $50,556.06.

Disclaimer Part II: While an extra 13K is great, it still falls short of my ambitious 2017 goal of saving $100,000. I’m confident this goal will be achieved as I might pull income from the Blog to help (still debating this one as I have habitually reinvested my blog earnings and I’m also benelfiting from a strong tail-wind of having my 401k contributions 100% vested in Q4.

I’ve shared in the past how it took my months to save $1,000 and I wasted those savings in less than 2 months. The 2nd time to save $1,000 was much less complicated, as I had already learned the ins and outs of the process. I’ve also explored a lot of other common principles to investing and personal finance, but haven’t found a list that represents what I’m doing in my life.

With that said, I consider this post more of an intermediate post on the topic of money. If you’re familiar with one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written, The Four Phases of Financial Independence, then you know this post will cover phase three on that scale.

That phase of Money Mastery is known as “Competency”.

Okay, enough introductions. Let’s get started!

My 3 Guiding Principles to Saving $100,000 in 2017

In summary, the three principles spell out VIP – Values, Investing, and Process.

Without investing, nothing is possible as the day’s gains end up being consumed by today’s worries. This is like a grain farmer eating all his stock, without saving any extra grain to plant for next year’s harvest.

Without process, the whole system can be completed, but it is much harder. Humans are creatures of habits and processes; habits and rituals allow savings to take on a much more rewarding shape.

Without values, it can be very difficult to decide on what we want or what we desire. Values also help us determine what we truly fear and isolate ways for us to eliminate stress, while increasing joy, happiness, and that rich lifestyle we all crave in our own way, shape or form.

With all three working together — I’ve now had the joy of being close to reaching 6-figures in savings within one year.

So, let me expand on each principle below:

My Guiding Principle #1 to Saving $100,000 in 2017 – Investing

2016 witnessed a tripling of my savings rate – from 20% to 60%. I say “my,” but none of this would be possible without the inclusion of my beautiful fiancee, soon to be wife (in 40 days- she reminds me of our countdown each morning!).

For 2017, we set our aim higher and made our goals bolder.

“Make no small plans, for they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

As someone who’s recently been described by family, friends and clients as the, “Frugal Guru,” a title I’m not even close to taking on, I’m in shock when I hear people say they do not enjoy Frugality.

When I think of the word “Frugal”, I imagine someone being efficient and effective with their money and time.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Money is too big of a game to only consider the dimes and nickels. Time is money after all, so I can always tell if someone is frugal or not when they tell me what they do with their most precious resource: time.

How can one be frugal with first considering their time?!

I digress but I share now my 1st principle.

Invest in Yourself.

How?

Invest in your 401k, your IRA, your HSA, invest in your future-self by allocating today’s money towards tomorrow’s expenses.

In the game of investing, two birds in the bush are not worth one in the hand. Patience wins out as the virtue allows us to harness the most powerful force in nature.

How else have I invested in myself?

On a small scale I invest $125 a month on a triathlon coach. Not only does he save me the 2-3 hours I would have spent each week researching nutrition articles, or fitness articles, but he also has helped me stay off-line in general. If you’re like me, one google search often (somehow) turns into 2 hours of unproductive time on twitter, instagram, facebook, and/or news sites.

On a larger scale, I’ve reinvested a little over 25K (in the last couple months alone) on blog related resources to expand Distilled Dollar into the full-time business it will be in 2018. I’m excited to be taking the plunge into the full-time, online entrepreneur world, and it would not have been possible without first investing in myself.

Many people invest in themselves by investing in a college education. Yes, that can be great, but whatever opportunity you deem worthy, invest in it and go full throttle.

Don’t let anything hold you back from using your time wisely.

“But wait, I have student loans and therefore I am unable to invest!” – said someone who’s not a reader of Distilled Dollar. Well, I ask you take a look at my example of investing AND paying off loans  – a practice that without any market returns, earned me an extra $7,000 in 2015 and another $7,000 in 2016 – all thanks to the beautiful tax code.

Yes, I’m a CPA and, yes, I love taxes.

And, yes, I offer zero apologies for being a tax nerd.

Next, the 2nd principle:

My Guiding Principle #2 to Saving $100,000 in 2017 – Process

This is where the fun begins.

Process is the 2nd principle to how I’m even close to saving $100,000 in 2017.

Without the process – or the rituals, habits and routines – our hard work and frugality will not stick. We would be building a fire without adding wood to our base.

Frugality without Industry would make Ben Franklin roll over in his grave. Industry, to me, means being diligent, having discipline, and sticking with what we say we will do.

Easier said than done, of course.

Concisely stated, “Industry pays debts.” – a quote from Ben (as a new reader, you’ll notice each article from Distilled Dollar contains an average of 3.4 quotes from Mr. Franklin on average).

When industry is combined with frugality, a certain level of magic happens.

Hard work begins to pay off even more as we put our money to work quickly. We know where to invest and we know how to rest. Understanding the balance between active and passive investing, creates a larger swing of the pendulum between sowing and reaping from the soil we work on.

This is a powerful process where what we churn grows even more and we thereby become more inspired to increase our output.

Phrased another way, frugality allows us to untap the true benefits of our work. We gain new levels of appreciation as each dollar earns more dollars. We see new insights as time savings become more and more abundant.

With less work, we accomplish more. That’s the power of creating a process.

Sadly, the creation of a process — the creation of the habit or the routine or the ritual — only comes about after we have developed the 3rd principle, because hard work still requires years of grinding away to develop those habits and processes.

My Guiding Principle #3 to Saving $100,000 in 2017 – Values

IP might be considered valuable in the modern world, VIP is the model I’m striving for; Values, Investment, and Process.

While all three should work in tandem, I would wager Values are the most critical element to success when it comes to saving time and saving money.

Here’s what I’ve learned about values in the past 5 years, and more specifically, here’s how that learning has facilitated me to save nearly $100,000 in 2017.

If we are going nowhere, the scary part is, we end up there.

If we know where we want to go, we might have to take a few detours, ask for directions, and take a few U-turns, but we find a way to arrive at our destination.

Values make up the road I travel,.and — depending on the values — I’ve travelled on different roads at different times in my life.

Early in my career, I went out to many happy hours – often spending $100+ on a single round of drinks with fellow public accountants.

During those early days, I didn’t value financial independence as much as I do today. I valued, “letting go,” and, “relaxing,” in the moment – despite knowing I was going to end up with a nasty Saturday morning hangover.

Fast forward to 2017, and my values are crystal clear.

Sometimes, in great gravitas, I like to quote myself:

Frugality is not a sacrifice. Frugality is a means to gain more freedom.” – Distilled Dollar

“Freedom” is an enormous word with a lot of meanings to many different people. In the Distilled Dollar household, we’ve worked for half a decade to achieve the level of freedom in 2018 that we would never have imagined just a couple of years ago. We are currently planning over 10 trips in 2018, along with the beautiful transition to becoming full-time, online entrepreneurs.

A truly exciting moment in our lives, and I give credit to my 3 Guiding Principles.

My 3 Guiding Principles to Saving $100,000 in 2017 may not be exactly the same that you need, but by all means, I encourage you to use these as a framework for our own saving goals.

Conclusion & Next Post

Thanks to the 45 folks who responded to my last survey on what I should post next. Obviously, the title of this post won out as the most popular pick, so let me know below what post you want to see next from Distilled Dollar:

Which Post Would You Like to See Next on Distilled Dollar?

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Financial Emergence and the New Wave of Money Management

Have these principles worked for you in the past? What did you success look like? Will you adopt my VIP model for 2018?

-matt

P.S. Thanks for being a part of the Distilled Dollar community and thanks again for all the new folks who have signed up in recent weeks!

2 comments… add one
  • The Grounded Engineer Nov 28, 2017, 11:20 am

    Great article, Matt. Thanks for sharing.

    I’d be interested to understand exactly where the $100k went – 401(l), IRA, etc.

    • Distilled Dollar Nov 28, 2017, 2:17 pm

      I had “10 ways I’m saving $10K,” as last week’s poll option but no one seemed to bite.

      That being said, as the article mentions we are not at 100K yet but so far as you probably already surmised:

      1)Maxed out retirement accounts
      2)Eliminated some credit card debt that we had back from 2016 – I discuss this in detail from our last Frugality Challenge
      3) Extra $$ we now send towards the student loans we both carry.

      I consider #3 to be savings and some might disagree – but that is money we could have invested but instead put towards our loans…so I count it as savings.

      4) HSA’s with the intention of using them as IRA’s down the road (thanks to the FIRE community for teaching me about this one)
      5) This one hasn’t hit yet but it will soon…I’m also adding in savings from the additional vested amounts I’ll receive from my employer. I do not count this money in my current savings as it isn’t mine – but once that money becomes vested, I will add it to the savings pool of 100K.

      The above mentioned is the bulk of it — and as the article highlighted we are not at 100K yet – so I’m sure I’ll need to provide a deep dive into the numbers in early 2018.

      Thanks for the comment!

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