27 years old - 50% Savings Rate in NYC, You Can Do It Too!

6 Replies

Above are actual numbers that I tracked on Personal Capital and graphed using http://sankeymatic.com/build/.

I just hit a 50% savings rate of my after tax income!  A high savings rate is stressed in Scott Trench's book Set for Life, Mr. Money Mustache posts, and the Reddit forum FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) which are all good reads.  Everyone agrees (because it is mathematically correct) that to retire young the most important first step is a high savings rate. 

To me the 50% savings rate seemed impossible at first, but I focused on increasing income and reducing expenses step by step.  On the increasing income side of the equation, I changed jobs when I realized I was underpaid for my field by using salary.com and glassdoor.com to compare my salary to the market.  In my new job I work very hard and got a raise and bonuses.  I am paid right around the what the market dictates for a construction project engineer with 3 years experience in NYC, maybe a little higher given all the perks and bonuses.

On the expense side, I bought a used economy car instead of new.  I live in the smallest studio apartment in my town in New Jersey, which is much cheaper than living in the city.  I also chose to buy the tiny studio because the cost to own was significantly less than renting.  I can rent it out for a decent return in the future which I calculated before I bought the unit.  Another major factor that helps keep expenses low is I avoided student loans by getting a full ride from merit based scholarships by being a nerd in high school.

A lot of my friends (with what I assume are similar paying jobs) are renting nice apartments in trendy areas, buying large houses in the suburbs, getting nice cars and shiny objects, going on what I consider to be lavish vacations, or the biggest financial killer of them all - moving into Manhattan.  This is all well and good if you want to retire by 65.  I must admit I am a little bit jealous of their lifestyles at the moment.  Living on half my income is a sacrifice especially in the NYC metro area.  However, having this savings rate I finally feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I will be able to retire in my early to mid 30's and be able to live life on my terms!  

I hope others can draw on inspiration from this and feel free to ask me any questions!

Account Closed Great job!  You've switched your mindset from budgeting for how much you can spend to how much can you save.  Next step is how hard you can make your savings work for you.

@Mark Robert 

I do have a strategy but it is a little complicated.  My goal over the next few years is to get a $1,200 per month passive income which is enough to live in Thailand, Bali, Medellin, or other similar areas quite comfortably.  This would greatly reduce my stress level at work knowing I have an "out" option that I could use anytime.

To get to that goal, I'm prioritizing maxing out the match in my 401k plan and my Roth IRA first because it is tax efficient. I will be able to access most of this money penalty free with the backdoor Roth method but ideally I won't need to touch this until old age.

Other than that I have $1,600/month to invest in whatever.  This money had been going toward paying off my used car, but now that that's recently done I'm saving up for a 6 month emergency fund.  

I'm due for a raise before the year is over that will bring the $1,600/month savings maybe to $3,000/month and I will use that to save for a downpayment on a multifamily home with a 3.5% down FHA loan, maybe in Jersey City or the Ironbound of Newark. I'm only going to invest in real estate if I think it will make more than the stock market and be worth the hassle. If the returns on real estate look bad then I'm still capable of hitting my goal with stocks and using the 4% rule for a safe withdrawal rate, but even though a lot of the deals I'm analyzing are bad I'm sure I will find a good one eventually. Stocks make a 10% return in general so I would need to see something better than that in a property between the cash flow, mortgage paydown, and appreciation (which doesn't matter much because I plan to hold for life).