Share this on:
About this iReport
  • Not verified by CNN

  • Click to view Chefgal's profile
    Posted September 29, 2008 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Are you a Millionaire in the Making?

    Balance life, balance money


    The best gift I could have received when I graduated from college was from my parents. They presented me a check for $1000 to open my first Roth IRA and told me that they would match me dollar for dollar the first year. You bet I maxed it out and every year thereafter.


    It taught me a valuable lesson that I might not have gotten at such an early age. Save often when you're young and let compound interest do your work. Now I save 17% into my 401k and stock away any annual increases.


    I've since then worked hard at the pricipals of valuing money. I'm frugal to a line but pick a select few things to invest in the best.


    I got my 1999 Honda Civic serviced recently when I hit 100k in miles. It didn't bother me when my trusted mechanic told me that I needed new spark plugs and a few other things for $550 (I had a 20% off coupon). I'm reminded of my fathers words, "You take care of your car and your car will take care of you."


    I pay off my credit card every month and don't spend money I don't have.


    Coupons are my friend and I often ask for discounts. Everything is negotiable, even my internet pricing I talked down when my rates were raised by a major company. I once found a pair of work shoes I needed. I noticed in the heel it had the tiniest of nickx. Instead of putting this pair back and finding a perfect one I asked for a discount on the other pair and got it. One year I kept a spreadsheet based on money spent and money saved by discounts and coupons and on average I saved 35% and nearly $800. I was glad to have $800 more in my account than most others. A little bit of time and a simple task of asking for discounts serves me well.


    I found a way to earn extra income and combine a hobby by working part time in the evenings for fun at a culinary school. Those nights I get to eat whatever they cook, bring home leftovers and I get paid to be there. All of this extra money is set aside strictly for really nice pots and pans and other culinary delights. Oh, and I get to take classes for free too.


    I'm a big reader but no longer have room in my home for books that I only read once. I go to the library and get DVDs there for free.


    I bought my first home, a condo at the age of 26 without any financial help. I had made the decision after trying to live on my own to go back home. I'm fortunate my parents let me come back home, pay off my new car that I still drive today in 11 months, save a lot for my retirement and downpayment on my home. It was tough the first few years having not made much, but my credit was extremely good and I knew I had the discipline to live below my means.


    Now today I buy memories, not things. I've paid for a trip with my father for a semi-luxury East African safari and have done some remote backpacking through Alaska's wilderness. I walk when I can and drive where I must. I turn on a fan instead of my air conditioner. I stretch out my hair appointments to every three months instead of every other month, saving me $120 a year.


    All of this allowed me to hit 100k saved in my retirement before I turned 31 through responsible investing and habitual savings. You can have it all in life if you value the right things. I'm living proof.


    *After note- As one commenter made a point of felt my report above was condescending to those who are hurting by the economy. I am fortunate and grateful that I am in the position to practice fiscal responsibility and that I do have a fairly secured job. As I told one commenter, I make far from six figures but I am in the position to save enough that my retirement portfolio tells a different story.*



    What do you think of this story?

    Select one of the options below. Your feedback will help tell CNN producers what to do with this iReport. If you'd like, you can explain your choice in the comments below.
    Be and editor! Choose an option below:
      Awesome! Put this on TV! Almost! Needs work. This submission violates iReport's community guidelines.


    Log in to comment

    iReport welcomes a lively discussion, so comments on iReports are not pre-screened before they post. See the iReport community guidelines for details about content that is not welcome on iReport.

    Add your Story Add your Story