#Money Motivation

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world today.

Here are some emails I’ve saved over the months which can’t help but get you to smile and be proud of your fellow man :) None of this money stuff happens over night, but it’s amazing what a little patience and just plain CARING will do once you set your mind to things!

Let this inspire you to keep on pushing through yourselves, and if any of you have a good comeback story please do share it below (or shoot me a note privately).


The Hustler

I have always lived from paycheck to paycheck until sometime in 2015 (yes that is how late I was to the ‘savers cult’) I came across an article on Forbes about a blogger who socked away 400k in 7 years.

I brushed it aside at first and told myself, ‘I’m not making much a year so I can’t save. I was born in a poor family so I will never be rich, blah blah, excuse after excuse. Didn’t save the whole of 2015.

In January 2016 I looked at my account and I had -$20 in my checking and $200 in my savings. I then became serious and religiously read your articles. I was making $34k at the time. I signed up for my work 401k and IRA. Started working hard, got a raise and now I’m making $37k/year before taxes (which is not a lot of money in Chicago).

Last year I saved $10k. This year I’m targeting $20k in savings. I started side hustles and right now I also work as a dishwasher on weekends (I use the dishwashing money for utilities, transport and food). For my rent I use money from my 9-5 job. I now have 18k in savings after 15 months.

(Hope I make sense, English is my second language.)



The Multi-Millionaire

I have been a long-time fan of your website and your monthly “Net Worth Tracker” posts inspired me to start calculating my own….

I finished medical school in 2008 and resolved to have a 7-figure net worth by the time I hit 40 (which will be in 2024). This was no small goal, given the debt level I accumulated at that time (~$100,000).

Fast forward to 2009 when I started tracking my net worth at a grand total of $0. I worked diligently during residency (advanced training after medical school) to moonlight and retire all of my student loans. I managed to do that by the time I finished in 2011.

Fast forward again to August of 2014 and I hit my goal of a 7-figure net worth 10 years early. Finally, this brings us to my most recent net worth calculation which doubled from 3 years ago to just over $2 million (woohoo, multimillionaire status!!) at age 33.

All of this to say that I did not accomplish this with a get-rich-quick scheme or investing everything in Google’s IPO. Low expense ratio ETF’s, healthy savings in tax-advantaged 401(k)’s and IRAs and an absolute fear and loathing of debt truly are the paths to wealth.



The Change Saver

I have been reading your fine blog for roughly a year, and first took notice after reading an article on your blog about saving spare change. I had just begun the endeavor and kind of made it an experiment to see how much I could save in a year.

Lo and behold it amounted to over $1,600.00!! I don’t intend to ever stop my coin saving now! Saving has become addictive for me!

Next I read your article on unclaimed property, and BOOM! – I have two claims totaling $3,500.00!!!!!….. man, it gives me pause because its SO GRATIFYING!….

I also have another trick to save money which is also like a little hobby too – I save and collect $2 bills. [Editor’s Note: me too – they make great gifts/tips!]



The Conscious Spender

For years I have been telling myself that since I can’t afford big ticket items right now, I may as well make myself happier in the short term by spending whatever amount of discretionary income I have.

When it dawned on me that I could save most of that money instead – albeit in small amounts at a time – the thought actually terrified me. I felt like I was just pissing in the wind whenever I turned down some kind of instant gratification (eg. picking up lunch, drinks after work, seeing a movie) in favor of the big picture. Tbh I didn’t even know if there was a big picture, putting $5 and $10 dollars into savings at a time.

Funny how the big picture suddenly looked a lot clearer when I saw my savings hit the thousand dollar mark for the first time! I realized I wanted to do a lot of things I had told myself I could never do: own my own home being the biggie. I still have times when I doubt what’s possible, but I’m too scared to give up now as I never want to go back to how I did things before.

Another spinoff? I am now way better at managing my income overall, have trimmed the budget on everything, and find myself being a lot more creative with the small amount of personal expenses I do still allow myself. I actually think I have more fun and get more stuff I want… because I am forced to think consciously about things!

(I’ve also gotten better at saying No to things like social events that I don’t really want to attend. I’m learning how to put my own needs first, and I enjoy it more when I do want to go out now, as I know I’ve chosen to and can afford it (instead of resenting it, which was too often the case: not a great basis for one’s social life!))


The takeaways today?

  • First, you have to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
  • Then you need to just *start*
  • Then hustle
  • And have patience
  • And stay motivated
  • And record your milestones
  • And, ultimately, want it bad enough to keep going

Almost all of these people starting with nothing, and in a matter of time completely changed things around – both in their wallets, and more importantly, in their minds. And without your mind right, there’s no way your money will follow!

So keep on learning, doing, and dreaming y’all. One day after the next. You got this!

More motivational boosts:

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  1. Ms99to1percent October 11, 2017 at 6:17 AM

    All of these stories are so inspiring. Glad to see they were able to turn things around.

    You summarized it very well J. Like you said it’s all about believing in yourself, starting, hustling, recording your milestones, staying patient and motivated, and wanting it bad enough to keep going!

    We followed this exact philosophy and were were to overcome our challenges: We had poor, humble beginnings as broke, new immigrants to US and Canada. We put ourselves through school, worked 2-3 jobs at the same time, barely had food to eat, lived in not so safe neighborhood surrounded by alcoholics, gang members, gamblers, prostitutes, drug dealers/users,…but were able to overcome the challenges, graduate college, and get good jobs and were able to increase our annual Income from $0 to $160K to $400K+.

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:25 PM

      Hot damn!

      I’d like to think I could do the “not so safe” areas myself, but I doubt I’d have the courage :( And most definitely not now that we have small kids… I admire the crap out of you for that alone!

      1. Ms99to1percent October 11, 2017 at 8:47 PM


        We didn’t have a choice. That’s the only place we could afford. Would we go back now and live there? Hell No :-)

  2. Cubert October 11, 2017 at 6:33 AM

    I can feel this. There was a post once by a certain mohawk’d blogger featuring a certain balding blogger’s non-sense: How to Lose a Million Dollars? Yeah, been down this road. We must’ve been in negative six figure net worth when Mrs. Cubert and I got married 11 years back. No regrets though.

    Life happens regardless of net worth. Realize *that* while you’re working towards your goals so you don’t miss out.

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:27 PM

      Oh hell yeah… and it goes in both great and not-so-great ways too! I don’t think any of us could ever foresee what our futures will *really* look like later.

  3. Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle October 11, 2017 at 6:39 AM

    Wow, these will get your tear ducts and motivation going this morning! It’s awesome to see how much simply starting,doing something, changed their lives so dramatically. And to see them start from nothing or even in the negatives with debt, and go so far…. seriously, that is so awesome! Thanks for sharing such encouraging words this morning!!

  4. Harald @NonlinearThings October 11, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    I really like the stories in which people from not so privileged backgrounds made it. I enjoy it even more when they didn’t become “crazy ultra super successful”, but just turned it around really well. I just can relate much better to people that achieved e.g. a net worth of $500k much more than someone who is now worth $5m.
    I think persistence is key unless you have an edge in some field.
    Nevertheless, the “Multimillionaire” story sounds a bit too good to be true. From starting in 2008 with -$100k to 2017 with +$1m !? I don’t want to create bad vibes etc, I just have doubts that a young professional can achieve that solely based on his income from his daily job.

    Kind regards

    1. Debt Ninja October 11, 2017 at 9:35 AM

      This one doesn’t pass the sniff test for me either. He said he graduated medical school in 2008. That means he was 25/26 (17/18 when graduating high school, 21/22 when graduating college, 25/26 when finishing med school). That would have him turning 40 in the year 2021 or 2022 , two or threee years earlier than stated.

      I guess he could have skipped a year or two of high school and finished college in three years, but something smells fishy to me about this story.

    2. Debt Ninja October 11, 2017 at 9:49 AM

      Also graduating med school in 2008, plus adding three years at minimum (probably more like 5 years though) for residency, means he wasn’t making a full doctors salary until somewhere between 2011, but probably more like 2013 if he is in one of the higher paying specialties. Saving a million in four-ish years on a couple hundred thousand dollar salary seems like a stretch.

      Impossible? No. But his age and the math just doesnt seem right to me at all.

    3. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:31 PM

      Remember that the boom happened right after 2008 AND that this dude’s a doctor now – both of which can turbocharge wealth growing pretty well :) I improved my net worth by $600k along the same period doing nothing super special myself!

  5. Mustard Seed Money October 11, 2017 at 6:58 AM

    That is so uplifting to hear all those positive stories. Definitely a nice break from the news cycle today :)

  6. Mrs. Adventure Rich October 11, 2017 at 7:08 AM

    Ah, so cool! I can tell you that you have certainly motivated and impacted Mr. Adventure Rich and I as well :) I was a newly minted college grad when I found your site. I think I steered clear of many financial pitfalls due to your advice and the other blogs I found through Rockstar!

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:32 PM

      Awww love to hear that!! Thank you!

  7. Apathy Ends October 11, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    Love seeing people realize the impact of small incremental changes! Too many people think it requires a Big Bang type event to build wealth

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance October 11, 2017 at 8:24 AM

    Such inspiring stories! I’m sure there are many more people out there those lives have changed thanks to your great tips and guidance. ;)

    It also makes me smile whenever I get an email from a reader saying they can relate to what I write. It’s a great feeling!

  9. Mr. Freaky Frugal October 11, 2017 at 8:24 AM

    Wow, very inspiring!

    Most of the doom and gloom in the world comes from reading or listening to “news” which is really only “bad news”. I try to read the “bad news” only once a day so that I don’t become infected with doom-and-gloom.

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:34 PM

      Haha yup…. I’ve actually given up news entirely myself! I only accidentally learn about things through Twitter or my wife filling me in when she’s in debate mode :)

  10. Paul October 11, 2017 at 9:18 AM

    I keep chugging along, been socking away money in my 401k to the point it hurts. I know it will pay off with more time in the game I wonder, at what point did everyone start really noticing compounding in action. I’ve got almost 200k in my retirement accounts but it doesn’t seem all that significant yet. I do the standard indexing that is preached on every PF blog. Just wondering at what point people starting looking at their accounts and going WOAH?

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:35 PM

      For me it was $50,000! I’ve never saved that much in my life before, and that was the point it really started clicking with me… Even $500k wasn’t as exciting as that first $50k – pretty crazy, right?

      1. Paul October 12, 2017 at 11:20 AM

        I get it, I think once I get to 250k Ill feel that sense of accomplishment, given my age and the timing to reach 250K, that should put me at a mil by retirement no matter what I do afterwards. Granted my goal is much larger than that but I think psychologically knowing that there is a great chance of a 7 fig retirement would take a weight off.

  11. FullTimeFinance October 11, 2017 at 9:26 AM

    Very inspiring stories and great summary of the basics of getting ahead.

    Speaking of 2 dollar bill gifts, my aunt just dropped off two new crisp ones for the boys. The collecting begins..

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:36 PM

      Your aunt wins my Favorite Person of The Day award :)

  12. Lisa O October 11, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    Well thanks for putting a smile on my face. It is so nice to see things turn around for the better for people :) It just goes to show you that you can accomplish anything just be slow and steady and dreams can be made.

  13. Dave @ Married with Money October 11, 2017 at 10:02 AM

    Awesome stories :) I love reading other people’s journeys and seeing how it compares to mine. We’ve all got such different approaches to money, and yet tend to all have relatively similar goals. It’s truly fascinating.

    For the record, I’m pretty sure 2 dollar bills are prime candidates for strip club tipping hahah

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:36 PM

      I wasn’t going to say it…. :)

  14. Joe October 11, 2017 at 10:06 AM

    Great stories. These will give anyone the motivation to start saving.
    Normal people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps too, not just bloggers. :)

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:37 PM

      Are you saying bloggers aren’t normal? :)

  15. Mr. FWP October 11, 2017 at 10:27 AM

    Thanks for sharing! Great collection of stories. This is exactly the kind of thing I enjoy sharing to spur others on.

  16. Hi-Tech Finance October 11, 2017 at 10:29 AM

    Thanks for sharing these. I love hearing these success stories and it makes me feel like I can do the same with my family!

  17. Mr Defined Sight October 11, 2017 at 10:36 AM

    Thank you for sharing. I am hoping that with all of the financial blogs and information out there these days, more and more people can turn their finances around. You should feel proud for being one of the biggest outlets promoting these positive changes!

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:38 PM

      Appreciate it :)

  18. Wendy October 11, 2017 at 10:44 AM

    Loved reading these! Please continue to share those emails from real people who make real changes. It’s nice to cheer for people who are making success happen at all levels of personal finance.

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:39 PM

      I will try and do it more often! The next roundup post I wanna do is all the tips and tricks I’ve gathered over the past few months too… most of which come from normal real people :)

  19. Miguel @ The Rich Miser October 11, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    Inspiring! I think a common thread is discipline, patience, and having goals. Everything big that I’ve ever tried seems to be toughest at the beginning. Breaking old habits and starting new ones involving sustained effort with delayed rewards is HARD and exhausting. However, you soon start getting used to it, and seeing little rewards. That’s when it begins to get easier and new habits start to take over. And it kind of snowballs from there.

  20. Nick October 11, 2017 at 11:42 AM

    Loved “The Hustler”!

    Always great to see people turn their financial lives around. It’s never too late to start saving.

    And you never earn too little to save either.

  21. Owen @ PlanEasy October 11, 2017 at 11:45 AM

    Great stories, these are the kinds of personal finance stories I love to read. Real people making real changes and feeling better about their personal finances!

  22. Mrs. Picky Pincher October 11, 2017 at 11:58 AM

    Ahhh, isn’t this nice. :) It’s crazy how much positive change the PF blogiverse is able to make in the real world by spreading positive money messages.

  23. Chris @ Mindful Explorer October 11, 2017 at 12:53 PM

    If people just end up glazing over the post today and scroll on down you nailed it with your take aways!

    The takeaways today?

    First, you have to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
    Then you need to just *start*
    Then hustle
    And have patience
    And stay motivated
    And record your milestones
    And, ultimately, want it bad enough to keep going

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:42 PM

      I figured half my readers are A.D.D., so…. :)

  24. Keith "Shin" Schindler October 11, 2017 at 1:01 PM

    Great stories here, J. Money!

    Nice to hear of the positives and how folks have turned themselves around.

    My wife and I were sitting on the porch the other day, discussing where we are in life compared to our early years. Our net worth was one of the topics.

    I asked her if she ever imagined we’d be where we’re at. She replied never.

    I’m still amazed at times.

    We got a late start, but made some right decisions and with some windfalls we’ve done pretty good over the years.

    I wish I’d learned more earlier than I have, but that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing, trying to tear down the Taboo of Money and help folks learn what they can to get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

    Sure appreciate all you’re doing to help others out.

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:42 PM

      Amen, brother. I always love reading about your insight and journey :)

  25. Kendall @ Perfect Cents Living October 11, 2017 at 1:05 PM

    I loved reading these! So motivational and inspiring. What a great feeling to know that because of this amazing blog, many individuals have been able to turn their financial lives around for the better. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Dave October 11, 2017 at 1:14 PM

    I enjoyed reading these emails. It is great to read about people who are improving their financial situation. It must feel good to know that you are such a positive influence. You truly are a rockstar.

  27. Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom October 11, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    These are the best emails to receive as a writer! It makes the hours we spend working oh-so-worth-it. What a testament to what a role model you are to so many others. I love how different these stories are even as they sing the same tune. Just start already! Don’t sell yourself short! Your patience will be rewarded!

    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:43 PM

      Thanks, friend :) I hope I’ll be seeing your smiling face at FinCon later this month? (Please??)

  28. Lance October 11, 2017 at 3:25 PM


    1. J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:44 PM

      Damn. Straight.

  29. Dora October 11, 2017 at 5:11 PM

    It goes to show what happens when you put some energy behind your intentions.

  30. Kris October 11, 2017 at 6:44 PM

    Man, some great motivational stories you have on here. This is one of the reasons why I love having a PF blog, to share my own stories and provide tips so people reading it can inspired by what I’ve gone through financially hopefully some like the readers you have on here can be motivated to have a great financial outlook. Thanks for this!!

  31. Cody @ Dollar Habits October 11, 2017 at 7:27 PM

    Loved each of these stories. You weren’t kidding about the motivation. Thanks for adding some positive and good vibes to counteract some of the negative news.

  32. ZJ Thorne October 11, 2017 at 11:49 PM

    These are lovely pick-me-ups! Thank you for sharing them!

  33. James @ Penny Wise Dollar Wiser October 12, 2017 at 12:48 AM

    Amazing and inspiring stories.

    Proves to show that it is never too early or too late to start getting serious about one’s finances. No matter how bad the situation, one can overcome things if he/she sets their mind on it – it won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but eventually it will happen.

    It is so awesome that you’ve made such a big impact on people’s lives and I am sure this is only a very very very small sample of the other appreciative emails you get! Continue doing what you are doing!

    I hope to be as inspiring to my readers one day.

    1. J. Money October 12, 2017 at 6:07 AM

      You are already! Less than 1% of people ever reach out to tell you how your story is affecting them, but I can assure you that it is. Keep pouring your heart into it!

  34. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green October 12, 2017 at 12:15 PM

    This is great J$!!!!! There’s too much negativity out there and having a shot of motivation from real people is great. Thanks for putting this up! Yours is the first personal finance blog I started reading when I graduated from college, moved to LA and was trying to figure out what to do with money. Fast forward to now and I now have built up my net worth and am aiming to be a millionaire. Just shared your blog with a friend who is trying to figure out their finances too, hope they get as much out of it as I do!

    1. J. Money October 13, 2017 at 6:15 AM

      WOWW!! Best thing I’ve heard all week – thank you!!! You’re so sweet!

  35. Leo T. Ly October 13, 2017 at 8:44 AM

    I think that saving money is not all about income. It has more to do with your discipline and mindset. You have to want to do it and believe that you can. Without these two things, no matter how much money you make, you won’t save a dime. If Michael Jackson can go broke, anyone can. So motivate yourself to build a better financial future for yourself.

    1. J. Money October 13, 2017 at 9:29 AM

      Well said, brother.