How I Became a Millionaire Working For The Government

[Hey guys! Welcome Rob Andersen from Mustard Seed Money to the site today, who shares his journey to his first million without having any fancy jobs or skills. It might surprise you how he and his wife got to this point (no it won’t), but it’s testament again and again just how attainable it all is so long as you put in the time and make it a priority. Hope you enjoy!]


I’m 36. I’m a government employee. And, I’m a self-made millionaire.

There I said it.

I’ve never publicly shared that before, not even on my own blog, but since J. Money provided a mountaintop here I might as well shout something exciting from it!

Here is the obligatory screenshot from Personal Capital to prove it:

personal capital millionaire

[I use Personal Capital to track all my money and highly recommend. And for those wondering, yes, this figure does include my house’s value.]

How Did I Do It?

Well, the answer will blow your mind…

Are you ready? Here they are:

  1. I lived below my means
  2. I was resourceful
  3. I saved and invested
  4. I was patient

Incredibly sexy stuff, huh?

My Background

Let me give a little background on how I reached this point.

When I graduated from college, I was broke. Like, Ramen noodles for dinner on a regular basis, broke.

The summer before my senior year of college, I decided to stay at school and take as many summer courses as I could. Call me lazy, but I just didn’t want to hold a part-time job while also taking so many classes and studying all the time. So I ended up exhausting all my funds.

I was stupid. I should have gotten a job and worked, but I didn’t. It was a self-inflicted wound, and I had nobody to blame but myself. I even remember a time when I was telling my friend about the rough shape my bank account was in, and a Walmart employee decided to eavesdrop. I told my friend I couldn’t even get a credit card, and the Walmart employee interjected telling me that everyone could get a credit card. He proceeded with: “What is wrong with you?”

My Awesome Parents

So where does a guy go with no money to his name when he graduates from college?

He moves back home with his parents, of course! But there was a caveat. They wanted me to create a plan for the future so that I wouldn’t be that guy who lived in his parents’ basement forever. I planned to save as much money as I could while living with them in order to one day buy a home.

My parents were shockingly happy to help out with my plan. It might have had something to do with my younger sister leaving for college – I’m not sure they were ready to be empty nesters.

I was also fortunate that my parents didn’t charge me any rent. The biggest perk was probably my mom’s home-cooked meals though. Let’s just say I was living the life! I was able to save almost every dollar that I made. My future home down payment was growing rapidly.

Helpful Advice From a Colleague

For my first job, I worked as an insurance adjuster, so I was the guy you talked to if you were in a car accident. Admittedly, I was burned out from all the finance courses in college, so I embraced the world of interfacing with a variety of people. I actually think it really improved my communication skills.

Since I was a freshly-minted graduate, I received a ton of advice from some well-meaning people. At 23, I thought I already knew everything. But, some advice really did stick with me.

An older colleague pulled me aside one day and told me the most valuable piece of advice: live below your means and don’t let peer pressure cause you to spend frivolously. He also told me that if I ever received a raise, to save and not spend it. He assured me that I would reach retirement with no problem by following this advice.

At that point, I really didn’t have any expenses. I was fortunate to graduate from college without student loans. I drove a ten year old car that worked fine. Needless to say, I was able to save a boatload of money.

Buying My First Home

Over time, I was able to pinpoint where I wanted to live. I even lined up a few guys who wanted to be housemates. They really just didn’t want to live with their own parents anymore.

So after 18 months of saving and looking for a potential home, in June of 2004, at the ripe age of 23, I took the plunge and bought my first home. It was awesome and scary at the same time. Why a bank would lend me $400,000 when I wasn’t even making 10% of that is beyond me. But I wasn’t about to question them.

I charged my housemates the low-end of market rate, since they were all my buddies and I wanted to lock in rental income. I wasn’t really interested in having a bunch of random guys from Craigslist live with me in my house.

Where My Money Was Going

So at this point in my financial journey, I was contributing up to my 401(k) match at work, which was 6%, I was maxing out my Roth IRA each year in passive index funds (SPY was my fund of choice back in the day), and I was applying my rental income, along with my paycheck, towards the mortgage.

Every single dollar of income was accounted for each month. I was living very lean, to the point of still driving over to my parents house for hot meals at times of desperation. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

Did I mention that my house was sparsely furnished? There were rooms in the house that were completely empty. I simply couldn’t afford much more than the bare necessities. Visitors made fun of me, but I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t trying to impress anybody. I owned a home and was proud of my accomplishment! I also wasn’t interested in accruing debt just to spruce up my place.

Night Classes and Switching Jobs

After a couple of years working in insurance, one of my roommates who worked for the Federal Government, told me they were hiring accountants. I figured it would be a good opportunity to utilize my four-year degree.

The only problem was that I needed more accounting credits in order to qualify for the position. I began taking night classes at the local community college. My already tight budget became even tighter in order to pay for these courses. I started really shopping for deals on groceries and making sure that I was being efficient with every penny.

Even when I would receive a raise, instead of loosening my belt, I took my coworker’s advice to heart. Instead of splurging, I simply increased my monthly payments to pay off my mortgage.

After I completed my night classes, I received an offer from the Federal Government. That’s when I took the plunge and became a government employee. I enjoyed the accounting work and was content with my situation. Once again, I contributed up to the 401(k) match, which was 5%.

Tracking My Money

I began tracking my investments two years after I started working for the government. As you can see below, my liquid assets were $32,500 in January of 2008. I did not include my home’s value as part of my liquid assets at the time.

money tracking 2008

As you can tell, ten years ago, I was nowhere close to being a millionaire.  So what has happened since then? Well, I put any and all excess money in to my mortgage until I finally paid it off in 2012.

Redirecting All of My Mortgage Money

After paying off my mortgage, I redirected all my extra money right into my TSP (the government’s version of a 401(k) plan).

Below is a snapshot of where I was in 2012.  Again, I still did not include my home’s value in these figures at that time.

money tracking 2012

From 2008 to 2012, my investments quadrupled. But, I was still a long way off from being a millionaire.

Then… I Got Married

I had always expected my future wife and I to spend a few years practicing extreme saving. I assumed we would both be working full-time jobs and racking up our moolah, and then maybe when we had kids, she would have the flexibility to stay at home. Well, that was not exactly how it happened.

When I started dating my wife, she had recently graduated from college and was working a 9-5, trying to decide whether or not to enroll in law school. Soon after we got together, however, her mother tragically passed away from breast cancer, at the age of 52.

My wife decided that she needed to care for her special needs sister full-time. Her sister had been extremely dependent on their mother, and my wife knew she had to put her sister’s needs first. My wife put her future plans aside and assumed her mother’s role as best as she could. That meant no longer working a 9-5, and thus no 2nd income.

When we got married, my wife was really disappointed that she couldn’t financially contribute to the monthly expenses. Even though she was at peace with her role caring for her sister, she wanted to help in our goal of super saving and reaching FIRE. That’s when she started to focus on really creative ways to slash our spending.

Getting Our Savings Rate Up to 65%

My wife started with our grocery bill. She quickly discovered Aldi (one of the best low cost grocery chains), and began spending more time searching for deals and coupons at regular grocery stores as well. Our meals became decided on whatever was on sale in the weekly circulars.

Up until that point, I had never really paid attention to cutting costs at the grocery store. However, my wife quickly reduced our monthly food bill from $500/mo to $400/mo, without scrimping on quality .

Amazing how spouses can help spur those types of changes! My wife has been so efficient with cutting costs that we have since saved 65% of our take-home pay every single year since 2013.

Value Spending

We decided to “value” spend very quickly in our marriage. That simply meant that we would spend money in areas that were really important to us, and try to save as much money as possible in all other areas.

Since 2012, my wife and I have cruised to Alaska and Europe. We’ve traveled to warm destinations in the Caribbean. We’ve had the time and discipline to spend money on things we value.

Amidst all of our saving, we eventually decided we were ready to grow our family. Admittedly, I was a bit worried. Adding members to a family isn’t very conducive to saving money.  I wasn’t sure how we would reach all of our financial goals while also raising children?

I figured that we would have to sacrifice our 65% savings rate. Little did I know how wrong I was.

My wife is a hustler

She started to kick it up a notch. She became more intense about couponing. Not only did she use the weekly circular, but she also started seeking out online printable coupons. That reduced our food bills even further. Then, we started seriously using Craigslist. We set alerts for specific baby items and picked up quite a bit at very low prices. Some stuff was even free.

I had no idea that there were so many people willing to get rid of their baby stuff free of charge? We picked up free kids clothes from yard sale leftovers and various curb alerts. Another nice thing is that it spurred our generosity too. We have given away quite a few of these items over the years, and so the cycle continues.

On top of that, we didn’t let our pride get in the way of accepting hand-me-downs. My wife and I love to go on walks, and one night we noticed that a neighbor was throwing out some awesome baby stuff. That included TWO double strollers and kids toys (with the toy box!). We couldn’t believe our eyes. We asked if they were really tossing the stuff, and they confirmed. It was like we hit the jackpot!

Salary Increases and Government Benefits

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the salary increases that I received along the way as well. When I first started with the government, I ranked at the lowest grade level among my peers. I was barely scraping by, especially living in an expensive area like DC.

Thankfully over the years, I was recognized for my hard work and have experienced recurring pay bumps. While my salary does not exceed the median income for my county, or even compared to the private industry, I’m living much more comfortably these days.

I have also earned 12 years worth of a federal pension since I first started working in the government, however, similar to J. Money, I exclude it because it feels almost like adding Social Security benefits to my net worth. Sure, I should receive benefits from my pension later in life, but there is no guarantee. Things are always subject to change, and I have no idea whether these benefits could be reduced down the road. I’ll just consider anything I receive later as gravy if it ends up coming through.

Stock Market Returns

And of course, I need to address the immense growth we’ve had with the bull market lately as well. Since March of 2009 when the S&P 500 bottomed out at 676.53, we have had an incredible run. I continued to be diligent in maxing out both my TSP and Roth IRA contributions the entire time.

I remember being discouraged every time I put money into the market during those first days, just to watch it go down. But then, I had a friend pull me aside and say, “Just think, you’re getting to buy all these great companies at discount prices. They’ll go back up, and you’ll be happy that you bought when you did!”

While I was tempted at times to jump out of the market, I stayed put and watched as my net worth eventually grew and grew. At the end of September 2017, my wife and I officially became paper millionaires, as our net worth exceeded $1,000,000.

Final Thoughts

I have to say that I thought the two comma mark would bring some relief, but honestly, not much changed. We still seek out great deals and save as much as possible so that we can enjoy retirement that much sooner.

I wish there was a more magical formula that I could share with you today. However, as boring as it sounds, all we did was live below our means and were consistent in investing our money.

I am living proof that hard work, patience, and resourcefulness will get you where you want to go.

Rob Andersen is an accountant for the federal government with a passion for all things personal finance. He created the website Mustard Seed Money, as well as the course Reaching FIRE. Both of which emphasize sound financial education and advice.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you liked this post, you might also like one we shared last year on Becoming a 401(k) Millionaire that implements similar strategies. It’s all about starting young and staying consistent!

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  1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:01 AM

    Thanks for the opportunity to share my story J$!!!

    1. J. Money February 16, 2018 at 7:45 AM

      Yeah dude – was a great one! Love ordinary people doing extraordinary things :)

  2. Mrs. Adventure Rich February 16, 2018 at 6:04 AM

    I love hearing about how a) nailing the fundamentals of finance and b) the joint-goals you and your wife strive for and share have paid off like this! Thank you for sharing, J & Rob!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 7:25 AM

      Glad you enjoyed it Mrs. Adventure Rich!!! It has been quite the financial journey but has definitely been worth it :)

  3. Lily | The Frugal Gene February 16, 2018 at 6:06 AM

    Always impressed by your story and journey Mr. MSM! You guarded that millionaire secret well, and I didn’t know you were only 36 either! Color me impressed! On a single income no less. The timing of the markets couldn’t have work out better either. We’ve had a great run.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 7:26 AM

      Thank you for the kind words Lily!!! It was definitely a secret but admittedly one that didn’t occur until the last six months…thank you stock market :)

  4. Chris @ Duke of Dollars February 16, 2018 at 6:25 AM

    Awesome story Rob !!

    It is always enjoyable to see another person who created their own wealth through hard work, investing, and saving!

    Your wife is a trooper !

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:44 PM

      Thanks for the kind words Chris!!! It’s definitely been a ton of hard work along the way but totally worth it :)

  5. Accidental FIRE February 16, 2018 at 6:43 AM

    Congrats to you. I’m another govvie here and also financially independent. While the government doesn’t pay top-notch for white collar skills, it pays decent. And the best things is that if you work really hard it’s easier in my opinion to really stand out. That was my strategy.

    Great post!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 7:27 AM

      I love seeing other govvie’s that are financial independent and I tend to agree that those with a great work ethic definitely standout :)

  6. Kathryn @ Making Your Money Matter February 16, 2018 at 6:46 AM

    I love how you’ve proved that the main factor in building wealth doesn’t have to include a high income (or some sort of windfall!). And best of all was that you also prioritized spending on things that improved your life. Congrats on reaching the double comma club!!!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 7:28 AM

      Thank you for the kind words Kathryn!!! It has definitely taken me awhile to get there in terms of prioritizing our spending but I think we have a good balance now :)

  7. Leo T. Ly February 16, 2018 at 6:51 AM

    Welcome to the double comma club, Rob. It totally blew me out of the water that you are able to reach this status with only one income and not including your paid off primary residence. I started out at a similar time, but I had two income and I also have to include the equity in my home to reach the double comma club.

    You are definitely a role model and living proof that saving diligently and investing wisely can make you a millionaire. I can’t wait to read your future multi millionaire post. I think you will get there pretty soon.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:44 PM

      Thanks for the kind words Leo!!! I have to admit at times that I am somewhat floored that things have gone the way they have.

      There is a song by the Talking Heads called “Once in a Lifetime” with the following lyrics that perfectly summarize my life.

      And you may find yourself
      Behind the wheel of a large automobile
      And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
      With a beautiful wife
      And you may ask yourself, well
      How did I get here?

  8. Tom @ Dividends Diversify February 16, 2018 at 7:24 AM

    Congrats Rob, You will find you won’t change much as the mountain builds, aside from a growing sense of confidence and security. The traits you have that build it become ingrained. You won’t wake up some morning and say I’m rich and it’s time to spend. That won’t be part of your DNA. Tom

    1. J. Money February 16, 2018 at 7:50 AM

      Haha yeah – that’s why I never get why people who are retired early get so much flack from haters saying the money will never last?? If you were smart enough to build up all of that, then you’re smart enough to make it last or figure it out if things change! It’s not like a switch goes off and you become stupid all of a sudden, haha…

    2. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:48 PM

      Thanks Tom!!! I have to admit I don’t feel like there is much difference between 100k and $1m for me. I feel like I’m hustling just as hard and enjoying the financial journey so far :)

  9. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 7:31 AM

    Thanks for the kind words Leo!!! I have to admit at times that I am somewhat floored that things have gone the way they have.

    There is a song by the Talking Heads called “Once in a Lifetime” with the following lyrics that perfectly summarize my life.

    And you may find yourself
    Behind the wheel of a large automobile
    And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
    With a beautiful wife
    And you may ask yourself, well
    How did I get here?

  10. Shaun - Simple Wealth Playbook February 16, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    Congrats Rob! And I appreciate your transparency for sharing your story. A lot of great stuff here. No doubt it’ll be a great inspiration for a lot of people!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:49 PM

      Thanks Shaun!!! I figured it was about time to be a bit more transparent :)

  11. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance February 16, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    Wow congrats on reaching the millionaire status! You truly had never shared this anywhere else. I knew you were financially secure but didn’t know you became a millionaire at such a young age.

    Lots of great lessons and advice here. Thanks for sharing!

    1. J. Money February 16, 2018 at 10:04 AM

      We like getting sneaky up in here ;)

    2. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:52 PM

      Thanks for the kind words. I only recently became a millionaire and when I had the opportunity to guest post on Budgets are Sexy I thought this might be the right time :)

  12. fin$avvy panda @ February 16, 2018 at 8:10 AM

    I always enjoy your stories at msm! It’s no surprise that you’re a millionaire :)

    You did an incredible job! Keep it up. I’m pretty sure your lifestyle isn’t and won’t really change. Keep growing that snowball!:)

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:12 PM

      Thank you for the kind words!!! I’m hoping the financial nut continues to grow over time :) Hopefully we get another 9 years of a bull market!!!

  13. Mr. Freaky Frugal February 16, 2018 at 8:17 AM

    Great story!

    And you and I share something in common – we both found great wives! That turned out to be the most important decision I ever made.

    1. J. Money February 16, 2018 at 10:10 AM

      For a second there I thought you said you both found the *same* wife! Was gonna say – that would call for a whole other post we need to do here! ;)

      1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:53 PM

        Hahaha…no wife sharing here :)

        But like you said…Mr. Freaky Friday…my wife is by far the most important decision I’ve ever made :)

  14. Dave February 16, 2018 at 8:24 AM

    Great post Rob. You are doing exceptionally well. You have built a high net worth at a young age. If I were you, I would stick with the Federal Government. There might be more money in the private sector, but having the pension will provide you with a few million dollars over the course of retirement.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:54 PM

      During the bear markets…the Federal Government is definitely more enticing :) In the bull markets it makes it a bit tougher, especially with this one lasting nine years. But it’s looking more and more likely that I’ll make a career in the government :)

  15. Joe February 16, 2018 at 8:25 AM

    Congrats! You guys did a great job and stuck with the fundamentals. Having great wives seems to be the theme here. What did you invest in with TSP? A target date fund?

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 4:56 PM

      My breakdown in the TSP was 60/30/10 in the C/S/I funds. It’s worked pretty well over the years and given me some exposure to some other things to balance out my portfolio :)

  16. Dave @ Married with Money February 16, 2018 at 8:36 AM

    Great story, Rob. You had a great opportunity to live cheap early on in your adult life which no doubt kickstarted everything. That’s awesome :)

    I hope to make it to the double comma club one day too haha!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 5:01 PM

      It’s amazing how the little things in the beginning add up in the end. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t been able to crash at my parents and save up money. I am truly thankful :)

  17. Ms ZiYou February 16, 2018 at 8:43 AM

    A cool story, but I’m reading a lot of fear and worry about money, rather than embracing it as a useful medium of exchange. The comment below really saddened me :(

    ” I have to say that I thought the two comma mark would bring some relief, but honestly, not much changed. We still seek out great deals and save as much as possible so that we can enjoy retirement that much sooner.”

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:14 PM

      I’m sorry that it came across that way. I wanted to convey that it was just a number and my financial journey isn’t quite done so there is still work to be done and I can’t get fat and lazy :)

  18. Sean @ Frugal Money Man February 16, 2018 at 8:48 AM

    Awesome story!

    I have recently become familiar with your blog, and I know I will be following it often!

    Living in the D.C. area myself, your story hits home in a BIG way. The cost of living, combined with lifestyle inflation in this area can be difficult to deal with. You really have to live below your means and not care about The Joneses if you want to make it out ahead.

    Congrats on the MILLION mark!

    1. J. Money February 16, 2018 at 10:12 AM

      y’all should meet up!! We had lunch the other week and I can confirm he’s just as solid in person as he is online :)

      1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:15 PM

        I had a great time grabbing lunch with you as well J$. I’d love to meet up with you as well Sean!!!

  19. Adam February 16, 2018 at 8:50 AM

    Well done! My dad was a fed, and my brother’s one now over at Census; I have some idea of the unique issues that come with working for The Man. I bet it’s nice when all this recent budget uncertainty doesn’t really hit you that hard.

    It’s doubly impressive that you’ve managed it all while living in one of the higher COL areas of the country. My wife and I own a house inside the Beltway, but luckily we bought in 2010 rather than 2007 (…or now).

    Thanks for sharing your path to this point. Good luck with the rest of your plan!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:17 PM

      My grandfather retired from the Census :) Picking up a house in 2010 is awesome…especially after 2007 inside the beltway. You should be loving that appreciation :)

  20. Rocky February 16, 2018 at 8:51 AM

    I mentioned in my writing that government work is the secret way to get rich! The pay is often lower than private sector but it is steady, has great benefits, and great job security. Congrats on reaching the 7 figure club so early! When do you plan to retire?

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:19 PM

      Working for the government is a great way of making a living, especially if you find it rewarding. My plans for retirement are somewhat up in the air at the moment. Theoretically I could hit FIRE in the next three years but I’m not sure what I would do next. I’d like to retire to something. So I might hold off until I have that squared up :)

  21. brian @ singledadmoney February 16, 2018 at 9:43 AM

    Impressive work MSM, especially on a single income. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:33 PM

      Glad you enjoyed it :)

  22. Leanne February 16, 2018 at 9:44 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing! Can’t access Personal Capital in UK, so I have joined up and synced everything to Money Dashboard, today , which has definitely put the spotlight on my finances and leaves no stone unturned! Talk about getting a girl FIREd UP!

    1. J. Money February 16, 2018 at 10:14 AM

      Way to go!!! Just the mere fact of seeing everything in one spot will do wonders for your $$$ over time…. Tracking it is one of the best things you can do :)

        1. Leanne February 19, 2018 at 8:37 AM

          Fab! Just checked it out – super-useful!
          Thanks, J$

    2. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:35 PM

      That’s a bummer that Personal Capital didn’t work out but that’s awesome that you found an alternative!!! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you :)

      1. Leanne February 19, 2018 at 8:39 AM

        That’s what I thought! But… so far, so awesome! Thanks, again, for the inspiration.

  23. SMM February 16, 2018 at 9:45 AM

    Congrats on becoming a millionaire! That is quite an achievement and you should be proud of yourself and definitely your wife! The best part is there are so many practical things that anyone can do to achieve this milestone as you mentioned from roommates to coupons, to free stuff and compound interest. In the DMV area, there seems to be more pressure to spend and keep up with the inflated lifestyle, but I’m glad you remained focused on your family’s future.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:36 PM

      Thanks for the kind words SMM!!! As you can attest, the DMV is not a cheap area to live and when you see people driving Teslas and other amazing cars…it’s hard not to admire and want :)

  24. Amy @ LifeZemplified February 16, 2018 at 10:03 AM

    Congrats, Rob & Mrs. MSM! You both are so inspirational. What a great team!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:37 PM

      Thanks Amy!!! Mrs. MSM is truly amazing :)

  25. Dash2Retire February 16, 2018 at 10:20 AM

    I usually say that working for the government means that “you’ll never own a beach house, but you’ll never be in the poor house!” You have proven me wrong. You can work for the government and own a beach house! Congrats!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:39 PM

      Hahahaha…I’ve never heard that saying before :) Owning a beach house could be fun…I’ll have to see what Mrs. MSM thinks about that goal!!!

  26. Bernz JP February 16, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    Great achievement Rob. Surely, this is the reward for all your hard work, self-discipline, and knowledge. Also, want to give credit to your supportive wife – it takes two to tango. You’re only 36, may I ask where do you see yourself financially at age 50?

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:43 PM

      You know honestly I haven’t given it much thought about where I will be at financially at 50. So much is dependent on what the market does which I don’t have a ton of control over. I’d love to have enough dividend income at 50 to cover all my expenses (hopefully enough to cover traveling around the world) but we shall see :)

  27. Gary @ Super Saving Tips February 16, 2018 at 1:23 PM

    Congrats on hitting the million mark! It’s always nice to see someone using hard work and sound financial practices on the road to success. You and your wife have done an amazing job, especially on a single income, and at a young age, no less!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:45 PM

      Thanks for the kind words Gary!!! There’s no way I would be in the position I am without my wife. She has been the MVP of our finances :)

  28. Dan February 16, 2018 at 2:35 PM

    Congratulations. I have two questions.

    Are you including your primary residence in the net worth calculation? It’s valid to include or not include but including it is something to cavil about. Unlike most assets, your house value has a lot of assumptions built in. A house is also not very liquid. Finally, your primary residence requires a cost substitute. If you sell your house, you should account for the fact that you will need to live somewhere after the sale and you will incur some costs after the sale (i.e. rent, new house purchase, etc.).

    “Thankfully over the years, I was recognized for my hard work…”

    I’ll start by saying I’ve never heard anyone with 10+ years in the federal GS system make this claim. In fact, every person I have spoken to who has worked or currently work in the GS system has complained about not being adequately compensated for hard work. The knock on the GS system (combined with unions) is that if you are drawing breath and not convicted of a crime during your employment, you will receive step increases at regular intervals. The other complaint I hear is that the process of getting promoted is largely an exercise in “check the boxes” as opposed to seeking the most qualified candidate. Check the boxes means there are certain non-subjective criteria that need to be met which effectively narrows the pool of candidates to one: Degree? Minority? Female? X years time in grade? Some jobs are posted with the next promotion or two specified in the posting; i.e. 5/7/9. I’ve never seen that in private sector jobs. Sometimes, during the interview you are told that if all goes well, you will be promoted within a certain time but it’s not put in writing. In some jobs, it is the opposite. If you don’t receive a promotion within X months, you know your career is over at that company. They’ll let you wither on the vine hoping you will quit before they fire you.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 6:51 PM

      Hi Dan…great questions.

      I do include my house in my net worth (I tried to highlight that above to be transparent). On top of that I’m really lucky that I’ve been promoted like I have over the years. I know it’s not normal for everyone and especially not across all government organizations but for the most part, the people I see get promoted within my organization have been deserving :)

  29. Kris February 16, 2018 at 6:59 PM

    Excellent post Rob!! Congrats on reaching millionaire status, it’s no real shock that you reached that status just based on the content you have on your blog…and with the help of the stock market as well.
    Keep it up and continue to build that net worth!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 16, 2018 at 9:18 PM

      Thanks Kris!!! This bull market has been a great wind in my sail to this wealth :)

  30. Menard Solve February 17, 2018 at 2:32 AM

    Congratulations on reaching the milestone, Rob! You are such a young guy, I predict you’ll be worth 8 digits before you turn 50. Keep up the good work.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 17, 2018 at 8:12 AM

      Oh wow…8 digits would be quite the feat. I don’t know that I’ll make that much…but I wouldn’t be opposed :)

  31. Syed February 17, 2018 at 10:14 AM

    What a great story. I live in the DMV as well and there seems to be a lot of keeping up with the joneses going on. That can make becoming a millionaire that much harder, so great job by you and your family. It sounds so boring, but slow and steady really does win the race!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 17, 2018 at 4:56 PM

      Thanks Syed!!! The DMV is definitely an expensive area to live and keeping up with the joneses is real :) It has been a slow, boring success story but one that I wouldn’t change :)

  32. Lily from The Rich Miser February 17, 2018 at 12:38 PM

    Congratulations Rob! I am also a federal employee, so your advice is very useful and inspiring. Maxing out my TSP is a goal I have. :-) Thanks for sharing your amazing journey!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 18, 2018 at 2:43 PM

      I always love hearing from fellow govvies :) Maxing out my TSP is one of the best decisions I made, plus TSP’s are so wonderful with their low fees :)

  33. Frankie February 17, 2018 at 2:01 PM

    Awesome story Rob, congratulations on your achievement – even though as you say, it probably doesn’t change much about the way you live your life! (which is a fantastic sign of living a great life already)

    I can totally relate to you with the power of an amazing wife who has the time, skill and interest in reigning in the household finances! It never ceases to amaze me at the bargains she finds and how she keeps finding ways to save money – it’s such an underrated and underappreciated role in society…

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 17, 2018 at 4:57 PM

      Sounds like you picked a wonderful spouse as well!!! I can’t emphasize how integral she has been to the journey :)

  34. Fred Butz IV February 17, 2018 at 2:04 PM

    I like Personal Capital, if only they would fix a few of their syncing issues especially vanguard. :D

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 18, 2018 at 2:44 PM

      I’ve been fairly lucky without too many issues with Vanguard :)

  35. FIRECracker February 17, 2018 at 3:17 PM

    Way to go, Mustard Seed Money! Thanks for sharing your story and proving that you can make it to the Million with patience, hard work and a kickass spouse :)

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 17, 2018 at 4:58 PM

      Thanks FIREcracker!!! Having a great spouse is definitely the key for me :)

  36. Mrs. Farmhouse Finance February 18, 2018 at 1:29 PM

    Great story, Rob! Congratulations on reaching your first million! My husband and I are public school teachers and will also receive a pension in retirement, but I don’t count that in our net worth, either. I’d have to teach until I’m 58, and my husband would have to teach until he’s 62 to get the full benefit (we’re 33 and 32, respectively). I’d much rather pursue financial independence, than count those chickens before they’ve hatched.

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 18, 2018 at 2:45 PM

      I’m right there with you Mrs. Farmhouse Finance!!! I’d rather decide when I retire than be beholden to an artificial date in the future :)

  37. Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom February 19, 2018 at 10:28 AM

    What an inspirational read! I love when ordinary people do the extraordinary with a little bit of hard work and diligence. My husband and I are in our early thirties and have are finally investing more strategically (more than matching our 401K) for retirement. We have recently started tracking our net worth, and I’m encouraged to see where we end up in ten years. I’m curious….Are you planning on retiring when you reach a certain number? Or do you plan on working for the long haul because you enjoy your job?

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 19, 2018 at 2:13 PM

      Sounds like you are on an awesome path Krystal!!! I could theoretically retire in the next three years, as long as the stock market doesn’t implode, however, I have a wait and see approach. I guess it depends on how I like my job in the next couple of years and what I could retire to :)

  38. Cody @ Dollar Habits February 20, 2018 at 4:31 PM

    Great stuff, guys! I enjoyed learning more about your story, Rob. Congrats on the milestone!

    1. Mustard Seed Money February 20, 2018 at 8:01 PM

      Thanks Cody!!! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  39. ZJ Thorne February 24, 2018 at 2:18 PM

    Great post! It’s amazing how fast things can grow in a bull market when you are diligent.

    Do you still live in the first home you bought or rent that out?

  40. Jerry Brown March 4, 2018 at 6:40 PM

    Amazing story, Rob! It is a perfect example of how a couple can work together to achieve FI!

  41. Ken@thehumblepenny March 5, 2018 at 9:09 AM

    Hi Rob

    Fascinating Story and journey to 7 figures! Just goes to show that with a clearly defined plan whilst keeping things simple, it can be achieved!

    I also love that you gave alot of credit to your wife. I have written about this and personally believe that choosing the right life partner is the secret sauce to a guaranteed rich life.

    Thanks for sharing!

  42. Chris@TTL July 16, 2020 at 11:14 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story, Rob!

    I think that offering up your personal finance story, as a writer, gives the reader context. It lets them understand you better. Sometimes that may mean they have trouble relating, but it’s more honest.

    Isn’t that a good thing?

    Thanks for sharing your story so we can all better understand your path to becoming a millionaire!