A man whose net worth is approaching $1 million credits most of that wealth to a habit he started a decade ago

Building wealth takes time. Johner Images/Getty
  • J. Money is a personal-finance blogger who runs the site Budgets Are Sexy.
  • In his latest post, he details the steps that he and his wife have taken to reach a net worth of about $US924,000 and counting.
  • He credits much of their wealth to maxing out their retirement accounts for nearly a decade, including contributing the maximum to a 401(k) at a previous job that offered 100% matching.
  • But any retirement savings account that’s invested in the stock market is bound to fluctuate. The most important thing is to keep contributing and ride out the downturns, J. Money says.
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Building wealth takes time.

For J. Money, a personal-finance blogger who runs the website Budgets Are Sexy, it has taken years of “hustling, patience, focus,” plus “a dollop of luck and privilege” to reach a $US924,000 net worth, he wrote in a recent blog post.

J. Money says that he and his wife built their net worth in part by living frugally, maintaining multiple income streams, and getting into investing during the financial crisis, which helped them reap the benefits of a rebounding economy.

But there’s one specific habit J. Money considers the “backbone” of his and his wife’s net worth: maxing out their retirement accounts every year for the past decade.

“I knew that so long as I just did this one thing every year, there was no way for our $$$ not to grow over time,” he wrote about starting the habit in his 20s. “So I made it my #1 mission that no matter what’s going on in life, I have to complete this and everything else (if there’s anything else) is extra.”

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Earlier in his career, J. Money worked for a company that offered an “unprecedented” 100% match on his 401(k) contributions, he said. The maximum annual contribution at the time was $US16,500, so he lived on a paltry paycheck in order todefer=”defer”as much of his salary to the tax-advantaged retirement account as he could, he said, which gave him a solid foundation for continuing to grow his retirement savings.

According to J. Money’s monthly net-worth breakdown, the bulk of their net worth – about $US611,000 – is held in a SEP/IRA, a type of employer-funded retirement plan for small businesses. J. Money is self-employed and he can contribute up to $US56,000 a year to his SEP/IRA.

His wife also contributes to a Thrift Savings Plan – a type of defined contribution plan for government workers that’s similar to a 401(k) – and they both have Roth IRAs. Contributions to a Roth IRA are made with post-tax dollars, up to $US6,000 a year, but earnings grow tax-free, and withdrawals are-tax free after age 59 1/2.

J. Money says maxing out their retirement accounts has increased their net worth by at least $US20,000 to $US30,000 a year, plus compounding. However, as J. Money notes, any retirement savings account that’s invested in the stock market is bound to fluctuate. During a market downturn back in November, their overall net worth fell by about $US60,000.

But investing to build wealth isn’t about immediate gains, and patience is the name of the game. Waiting out the lows and continuing to contribute often yields even bigger gains.

As J. Money wrote, “So yes, it stings when you have major drops, but do your best to keep it all in perspective! And remember it’s much better to have wealth to begin with to lose than none at all!”

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