Do you want to learn how to save $100k in three years? Some people may find it a daunting goal. But with the right mindset and strategies, you could be on your way to having six digits in your bank account.
This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for more information.
Saving money is important if you want to build wealth and reach financial independence. But are you saving enough money to be on track with your financial goals?
For many people, being able to save $100k is one of the most significant financial milestones one could achieve before turning thirty. But with the recession, you might be wondering whether this financial goal is still possible.
I am here to say, YES, it is possible. I’m not claiming to be a personal finance expert here, but I know we can all learn how to save $100k by doing things the right way. I did it in three years without a 6-figure income. If I can do it, so can you.
Table of Contents
We all have different financial goals in life. Many financial-savvy people aspire to save $100k before they turn thirty.
For me, though, saving $100k was not in my wildest dreams even in my 30’s. In fact, My goal was only to make $1500 per month to help my husband pay the bills.
My priorities and financial goals changed when my husband quit his job due to health issues. He decided he needed to retire.
We agreed to retire in the Philippines but to do so, we needed money.
First, we figured we needed at least $100k to buy a house in the Philippines or make for the downpayment.
Second, we needed a stable income or a retirement. Third, we needed to save $100,000 in less than 4 years so we could move before our son started school.
Fortunately, we were able to reach those goals. I was able to save $100k in a little over three years entirely on my own.
So, if you think that saving $100k is impossible, I am here to say that it can be done. And you can do it even without a 6-figure income.
But first, to give you a point of reference, I’d like to share how my finances looked like at the start of my journey. Your financial situation may be different from mine, so we may not have the same jump-off point. But here’s what mine looked like:
- I had no savings.
- I was only earning $500 per month from a small freelance project.
- I had just become a mom.
- I had other financial obligations. I had a mom to help financially.
- Thankfully, my husband and I had no loans, credit cards, mortgage, and other debts.
- My husband had just quit his job. For a few months, we were relying mainly on his unemployment benefit.
- There was no inheritance whatsoever.
I’d like to note that:
- Luckily, a year after my husband left his job or one year into my money-saving challenge, he started receiving a pension from Social Security and Veteran Affairs for his service-related conditions.
- My husband took care of our bills, so all my income went into my savings.
- I was able to increase my income from $500 to $1000-$2000 per month within the first year.
- The second year, I was able to increase my income to over $50,000 per year.
So, let’s get into how to save $100,000!
How to Save $100k: 11 Strategies That Work
Are you ready to make more money and reach six figures in savings? Here are some of my tips on how to save 100k in the next three years or so.
First, I knew that to be able to save $100,000 and make my financial goal a reality, I needed to create a good income stream.
If your goal is to save $100,000 in 4 years, then you would need to save at least $25,000 per year. You should be making two to three times that amount, depending on your current financial obligations, to be able to save $25,000.
Saving $100,000 is a lot easier if you and your spouse are on the same page. If both of you are earning, obviously you can save faster with your combined income.
I’d suggest knowing first how much your expenses are. And know how much you need to make PER MONTH to save $25,000 per year.
I did a lot of things to make money. I transcribed audio files, worked part-time as a Pinterest virtual assistant, sold stuff on Amazon, and more. Luckily, I was able to monetize this blog which generated a good chunk of the money I needed to save $100,000 in a little over three years.
There are many ways to generate additional income so you could be on track to save $100,000 within your timeline. However, I do recommend doing something that is scalable and that will allow you to work less later.
Check out the following posts for more extra income ideas:
- 22 Real Stay-at-Home Mom Jobs that Pay Well in 2022 (I love #1)
- 22 Side Hustles For Single Moms Who Need Extra Money
- How to Start a Blog and Make Money in 2022
2. I Built an Emergency Fund
I built an emergency fund and thankfully, I never had to use it for a real emergency (yet).
Before you set your savings goals too high, remember to start with the basics: your emergency fund.
Having an emergency fund is an essential part of reaching your financial goals. It helps you deal with an unexpected expense without touching the money in your savings account.
Let’s face it: some things in life catch us by surprise. It could be your car’s bald tires, bills you’ve overlooked, or a medical emergency that you have to pay for out of pocket.
Having an established emergency fund allows you access to money at times like these. You won’t have to go into debt, which could throw you off your money goals.
Also, you know you won’t sabotage your savings because you have especially allocated funds for emergencies.
So, keeping your emergency fund and savings separate is an essential step to help you save $100,000.
How much money should you keep in your emergency fund?
Personal finance experts say you must save at least three months’ expenses in your emergency fund. This is to help you get on your feet should you need to re-establish your finances. But you should save as much as you are comfortable with, so if you want to save a year’s worth of emergency funds, then that’s also fine.
Once you’ve reached enough savings in your contingency fund, all the other savings and extra money you make should go to your savings account.
Need a saving motivation? Check out my saving trackers at my Etsy store!
3. I Removed Unnecessary Expenses
If you want to learn how to save 100k, you should try to look for more money. And the first place you should be looking at is your discretionary expenses.
You might not realize it, but there’s some extra money in your budget. You just need to get rid of some expenses and put that money into your savings account.
For the past four years, I rarely went shopping for “wants”.If I bought anything, it was something that I truly needed.
We also didn’t go on vacations for a long time. I thought it was terrible but, in the end, I was happy to have saved a good chunk of money to realize our big goals.
Don’t forget to reward yourself, though, for hitting a huge financial milestone. We did treat ourselves to a nice Disney vacation when we finally reached some of our goals!
Need more ideas on how to save money? You can cut back some areas of spending to save extra money:
- Downsize your home or, if possible, move back with your parents for a couple of months while trying to reduce debt. You could also move to a place near your workplace to reduce or eliminate your transportation costs.
- Opt for a more reliable, economical vehicle. Take a walk, opt for public transport, or carpool whenever possible.
- Get rid of the cable and satellite TV costing you at least $50 a month. Switch to on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu that only cost around $8 a month each for basic plans.
- Try to stay cool during the summer and warm in the winter to save money on your utility bills.
- You could also fast-track your savings progress by saving money on food. Bring your lunch to work, brew your own coffee, and plan meals around what’s on sale and in-season.
- Find free entertainment and cancel unnecessary subscriptions.
- Simplify your wardrobe so you don’t always have to buy new shoes, bags, and accessories.
4. I Avoided Lifestyle Creep
Next, even when I started earning more money, I made sure that my expenses were the same.
Lifestyle creep happens when you start to spend more money in response to increased income.
For example, getting promoted at work means getting more take-home pay. Suddenly, you want a premium, expensive brand of coffee instead of the generic one you used to love. But it may not stop with those little things. You might think you should also move to a bigger home, buy a flashier car, or eat at expensive places.
Suddenly you are spending money instead of saving it. Before you know it, you have lost sight of your savings goals.
I don’t only mean you should avoid lifestyle creep. You might also need to downsize your lifestyle to save $100,000.
While it’s true that there’s no harm in rewarding ourselves for all the hard work that we do, we should still draw the line somewhere to avoid lifestyle creep.
Here are more ways to keep your financial relationships with money healthy despite getting an increased income:
- Increase your savings rate. Now that you are making more money, you must be more committed to your financial goals. This is an excellent opportunity to save $100,000 quickly compared to your rate of saving on the previous income. So instead of increasing your spending, focus on saving more money.
- Stick to your budget. You might want to modify your budget now that you make more money, and that’s okay. But make sure that your new budget prioritizes your savings and needs. Check out how to create a realistic budget.
- Be happy with what you have. Does it make sense to move to a bigger house or buy a newer car when you are doing just fine with what you have? You have to know what is enough, so don’t get tempted to spend more.
- Treat yourself but within limits. You may need to satiate something in you now that your income has increased. You don’t have to feel guilty about it because you’ve worked hard for it. But draw the line. A dinner or two at a fancy restaurant might please you but doing it often will only bust your budget.
- Avoid expensive gatherings. Hosting and even attending parties and events can be expensive. You don’t have to attend all gatherings to which you are invited. Skipping some expensive events for cheaper activities can be a healthier choice for you physically and financially.
One of the most important things I did to save $100,000 was to start investing. First, I bought stocks and ETFs, and then I invested in myself by buying resources to learn high-income skills.
You can start investing in the stock market by opening a brokerage account with WeBull. They offer a free stock if you sign up here. I use Webull to buy stocks but there are also other great brokerage platforms you can try such as M1 Finance.
Investing is also a good way to build wealth. Most of the wealthy people we know today are into investing, in one form or another.
Just remember that any form of investment comes with risks. Perform your due diligence, consider your risk tolerance, and reach out to a financial advisor to minimize losses and increase capital gains.
If you’re hesitant about putting money into the stock market, you could try micro-investing first to get a better idea of how it works. Some apps and platforms do auto-trading, so the same amount of money you invest would grow over the subsequent years
One of the micro-investing platforms I love is Acorns. It’s an app that saves your spare change automatically and invests it.
But remember, investing isn’t just about investing money to make a profit. You could also invest in yourself by learning new things that can make you money.
If you have spare time to invest, invest it to make money instead. In my free time, I invested time in building websites. I also offered my time or service to make money.
For more ideas, I recommend reading this post about how to invest and make money.
Having the right mindset is a crucial factor for you to save $100k successfully. I think this is something that you may need to work hard for.
The first few months might be a little tough for you as you’re still adjusting your financial life to accommodate this new goal. But you learn as you go, and you’ll realize that it isn’t as bad as you think.
As for me, I always reminded myself of the reasons why I want to save $100k. I kept a Success Planner, wrote my goals in it, and broke down my big goals into smaller goals.
The right mindset is also important when encountering challenges during your savings journey. What if you suddenly lose your job? What if you get hit with a calamity? Some things are out of our control, but having a positive perspective will give you a rational mind to deal with the situation.
There are plenty of ways for us to save money, and some of them require little effort. You might not come up with 100k in savings immediately, but hey, every little dollar counts!
For instance, you could stop buying Starbucks and brew coffee at home instead.
You could also use rewards apps to win cashback when you shop. Ibotta is a great example of this. I earned over $1000 with Ibotta simply buying grocery items I needed anyway. You can use Ibotta to browse offers and purchase them in-app.
Ibotta will send you rewards for each qualifying purchase which you can then transfer to your bank account.
Ibotta has partnered with hundreds of grocery stores across the US so there are lots of opportunities for you to earn money with the app.
Drop is a similar app that also gives cashback for eligible purchases, playing games, and more. Once you have collected enough points, you can redeem them in the app to get rewards like gift cards to Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, etc. You can also use Honey, a browser extension that automatically finds the best coupons for your purchases. Since you would spend the money anyway, why not use these apps and tools to save money simultaneously, right?
Pro tip: If you want to increase your savings drastically, you can put any extra cash, even unexpected money, into your account. We’re talking about tax refunds, yearly bonuses, commissions, inheritances, birthday cash gifts, and other unexpected cash. Anything you earn or receive outside your work or business is best saved or invested.
Saving money requires strategy, one of which is to be mindful of how you spend your hard-earned income. You’ll be able to save a good amount of money if you spend your money wisely.
If you are struggling in this area, here are some tips you can follow:
- Stick to your budget to the best of your ability.
- Track and analyze your spending.
- Pay in cash whenever possible.
- Give yourself time to think about a purchase.
- Allocate fun spending in your budget.
One of the best ways to avoid impulse buying is to practice delayed gratification. Say you want to purchase a new smartphone. Think about this purchase for a month. You will have a solid decision if you still want to go for it. You have some extra cash to save if you decide not to buy.
Also, try to buy things with cash. If you don’t have the cash for it, don’t buy it. Using the cash envelope system might help you with this. Set a budget for every expense category.
I made sure to prioritize my savings every month. So, before paying for other obligations, I would first transfer to my savings account the amount I committed to save.
Another great trick to make saving a lot easier is to save on autopilot. This way, you’ll always be saving money without you forgetting to do it. Plus, it forces you to save money first, no matter what.
When you automate your savingst your bank transfers a pre-determined amount from your payroll or checking account to your high-yield savings accounts, where you enjoy a higher savings rate.
You can set the date of the transfer too. For instance, if you have a full-time job where you get paid monthly, you can have the savings transferred on your payday. You won’t have to withdraw the money and save it to another account.
It works like a set-it-and-forget-it, so you’ll essentially save automatically if you do it this way.
I believe that one of the best investments you can make is investing in yourself. By this, I mean investing to upgrade your skills to make more money. You could invest in education to get a better job, get a promotion, or invest in learning new skills to earn an extra income.
I invested in a few resources to learn how to make money with a blog. Fortunately, those investments paid off after a while. Then, I also invested in courses to learn how to sell on Amazon and how to become a virtual assistant.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to invest in yourself. In fact, you can find free resources online and on YouTube. For affordable courses, Udemy is my favorite place online to find all sorts of courses to learn a new skill.
11. I had a Budget
I always make a budget for everything. It helps me keep track of my spending and manage my money better.
A budget is a tool that tells you where your money goes. You create your budget around your financial circumstances and your money goals.
Most personal finance experts suggest sticking to a budget, so you have control over your money, not the other way around.
I know some people are afraid to budget, feeling that it restricts them from enjoying their hard-earned money. But for me, it’s all about the mindset. It doesn’t matter if you earn minimum wage or make a six-figure salary. You’ll most likely fail at saving if you don’t know how to budget.
You can grow your cash savings if you make room for it. Prioritize your savings first before your expenses and make it non-negotiable.
It takes a good amount of self-control and discipline to stick to your budget. But over time, you get better at it, and saving will eventually come naturally to you.
Saving money isn’t always fun. There’ll be times when you feel restricted that you’re no longer spending money on certain things that you enjoy.
I know that saving $100k was a huge goal for me and that I would eventually lose motivation before hitting that goal. So, I broke my big goal into smaller goals of $35,000 a year. I also broke that into quarterly goals of $8,750.
You can use money-saving trackers to help you track your goals and stay motivated throughout this money-saving challenge. I have all sorts of money-saving trackers at my Etsy shop here.
Other Ways to Save $100k
Another step you should definitely take if you want to save $100k is to contribute to your retirement savings. This is important regardless of whether you want an early retirement or not. You need to start saving for retirement as early as possible to build a solid nest egg for your golden years.
If your employer offers to contribute to your 401K retirement savings, take advantage of it. I wish I had that benefit because it’s free money that you can save towards your retirement. You can save more money if you max out or contribute as much money as possible.
You can do the DIY route of contributing to retirement if you are not employed. Your two best options are the Traditional IRA and Roth IRA.
The traditional IRA allows you to invest money into retirement. These are tax deductible, but you aren’t taxed until you withdraw the funds at age 59.5 or later.
You can also invest your taxable income into a Roth IRA. You pay taxes when you contribute, but withdrawals are tax-free when you hit the age of 59.5
As I said, I was lucky that we didn’t have to deal with debt, hence saving was quicker for us.
If you have debt, try to reduce or eliminate it to increase your savings rate and net worth.
I suggest prioritizing your needs and debts first and letting go of your “wants” for now. Making this sacrifice allows you to relieve some of your financial burdens. As you tackle most of your debts, you also make room for more money in your budget.
But which debt should you try to pay off first?
If you graduated with student loan debt, you certainly need to consider that. Student loan debt accrues interest, so you should always try to pay it in full.
You can decide the order in which to pay off debts according to these factors:
- Pay off high-interest debt first so you can save more on the interest you pay.
- Tackle the smaller debt first to build up momentum and stay motivated.
- Pay off debt that most affects your credit score first.
- Consolidate your debt as a last resort. This allows you to simplify your debts and deal with single interest.
When you start paying off your debt, you should stop making new ones. For example, staying away from credit card debt as much as possible allows you to focus on other high-interest debt. This entails sacrifices, such as paying for stuff with cash and paying your bills in full and on time, but these also allow you to save even more money once you are debt-free.
While you can save $100k in your bank account, it’s also a good idea to put it in high-yield savings accounts where your money grows at a higher interest rate.
It depends on your income level, how well you budget, and your overall attitude towards money. Some people create additional income by starting a side business or working a side hustle to save $100k more quickly.
It would be nice to have a goal before you start saving so you know what to do with the money once it has reached that amount. But if you aren’t sure what to do with your $100k savings, you could explore investing a portion of it, putting another portion into retirement accounts, and investing some in a business. This way, the money you invest will keep making even more money.
You might think that saving $100k is a tough feat, but I hope that the above tips will help you get started with your own savings journey. Indeed, to be able to save $100k is an accomplishment, and you will be proud of yourself for achieving it.
But you should still be proud of yourself, whether you’ve saved $1000 or $10,000 at the moment. It means that you are taking control of your financial life. And soon enough, you could save more than $100k and be on your way to financial freedom.