Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

Your Financial Story Arc: Building Net-Worth

Okay, so you’ve figured out the first part of your financial story arc – earning money. Now what?

Step 2 is, you gotta build some net-worth. How do you do that? There’s five things I always consider when I’m thinking about building net-worth:

  1. Income
  2. Investments
  3. Inheritance
  4. Avoiding Debt
  5. Patience

If you can balance these five things out, you’ll be well on your way to building your net-worth. First things first though:

Income

People who have a low income are going to struggle to put away enough money to really grow net-worth. It’s shitty, but that’s the way it is. People who have a high income and save a high percentage of it, are going to be able to grow their net-worth quickly. Income is the best way of building your net-worth, because you can use that income and the amazing mathematics of compounding interest to build your nest egg for retirement.

There’s hundreds of posts explaining the magical power of compounding interest, so I’ll link two of my favourites:

Frugalwoods (of course): Unicorns, Soviets, and Compound Interest: Demystifying Personal Finance Part 1

Mr. Money Mustache: The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

But it all boils down to: higher income + high savings percentage = quicker net-worth growth.

And this is where your career comes into play. Because the money you make and save is directly related to how early you can retire. I, for one, know I’m not going to retire early because of the limited amount of income available in my industry. There’s just not a lot of money in the profession, but I’m okay with that because I would like to do what I do, as long as I can do it.

But to supplement my here-and-there contracts, and my limited income, I’ve turned an eye to side hustles and alternative income streams. For one, I’m writing a novel, the first (good) draft of which I’m hoping to be done by September 1. I’m hoping it’ll bring in some money, but if it doesn’t, at least I can add it to my writing portfolio – which is the same case with this blog. I’ve been writing for 15+ years, but you can’t exactly put your old fanfiction on a resume!

There are lots of different side-hustles, and a few of mine are:

hoping to add coding to my side-gigs in a year or two

  • House / pet sitting
  • Retail joe-job
  • Hired help (sometimes)

Work with what you love, and what you know. And don’t give up on something just because it doesn’t gain any traction right away – at a certain point you have to let things go (goodbye, photography career), but at the same time, most things take time to cultivate and grow. Have some patience, and make sure you try to innovate before you write anything off. There might not be a need for pet sitters in your neighbourhood, but maybe that just means people need dog walkers instead!

Investments

Once you have income, you can use that income to invest. A few different investments (which some may contest):

  • Home / Rental Unit
  • Stocks, bonds, GICs
  • Education

There are good investments and bad investments. Good investments serve you and your future goals – bad investments sound like a really good deal, but don’t have high returns in reality. I find that these are pretty subjective as well. For some people, buying a home and renting it out can be a deep dark vortex of expenses. But if you’re a handy-person who can lay tiles, put up drywall, patch and paint, fix plumbing, electrical, and siding – then a house might be the right investment for you.

The stock market is a great way to invest your money as well, and after you’ve maxed out employer-matching savings accounts (if they’re available), then the next step is the stock market. Buying stocks doesn’t have to be crazy, and it might seem intimidating. My toe-dipping method of buying stocks in the stock market may interest you: it’s what got me over my fear of putting my money there.

The third aspect of investing is investing in you. Investing in your future, and getting you to the place where you can make that higher income, or do what it is you need to do to be happy. There are many jobs out there you need an education for – but I, for one, wish I went with a diploma program instead of a four-year BFA undergrad for my profession. I don’t regret going to University, or what I learned there, but the quicker route would have been a diploma program. I suffered from not knowing what I wanted to do, and was influenced by the ‘gotta go to Uni’ culture. Be honest with what you want, how you can get there – and then take the steps to do it!

I’m gonna jump right over inheritance, and say: if you get it, save it! Otherwise, I don’t think it’s something you should be counting on, which brings me to:

Avoiding Debt

I talk about financial realities in my post featuring the North American House Hippos. Consumer debt is on the rise in Canada, and while those people paying it off keep paying it off, and those who don’t have it keep it that way – those people still spending money they don’t have are spending more of it.

Please, please, please don’t spend money you don’t have. Treat your credit card like a debit card. Money can’t make you happy, but it can make you miserable. The best way to avoid (bad) debt is to not go down that path at all.

Patience

It’s not gonna happen overnight. It might take 5, 10, 15, 20, or 50 years. But you know what? It is going to happen. If you stay dedicated, if you stay smart, then you’ll watch your net-worth grow year after year. It doesn’t happen in a heartbeat, and it takes a lot of hard work. I’m no where near where I need to be to retire. But that’s okay, because I’m okay with where I am right now.

And remember: you’re not alone.

There’s a slew of blogs out there dedicated to chronicling their journey of Financial Independence, Retiring Early (FIRE). Now, I’m not saying I’ll ever live the life of FIRE, but I do read those that are on their journeys, and try to pick up tips. Seeing what other people are doing is a great way to see what options there are out there. It might or might not work for your particular lifestyle, but I think it’s beneficial to be exposed to as much as you can be. Who knows, put a spin on something that seems a little out of the box, and it might be just what you need! These are some of the blogs that I follow, and I’d recommend them to everyone:

Frugalwoods
The Lady in the Black
Adventure Rich
The Frugal Gene
The Frugal Farmer
My Sons Father
We’re All Poor Here
Mr. Money Mustache
The Three Year Experiment
Mustard Seed Money
Navigating Adulthood
Millennial Money Diaries

What are your favourite personal finance blogs? And how do you build your net-worth?

11 Comments

  1. Woohoo- Net Worth is one of my favorites! Right now, we are building that were through our primary income, heavily investing in our tax advantaged retirement accounts & HSA, and paying our mortgage. Hopefully we will add additional income streams as well.

    And thanks for the mention! 🙂 I’m honored to be part of such a great list! There are so many good ones… one of my favorites is Our Next Life!

    • Ugh- phone typing.

      Read: “we are building Net Worth…”

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 25, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Argh, phone typing – sometimes autocorrect gets it, but sometimes…

      Sounds diverse and well thought out! Tax advantaged accounts sound like the equivalent of Tax Free Savings Accounts up here – I’m working on maxing mine out at the moment too, and then I’ll take a look at other options ( a registered retirement account, for one ).

      And of course! I love reading your blog : ) I’ll check out Our Next Life too, always on the hunt for new blogs!

  2. Hey, Girl. The whole net worth thing. The key word there; net. You need to clear out the negative before you truly get to the “worth” part. That’s where I’m at. I’m just trying to do it as quickly as possible so I can throw myself into the investment portion of your plan. My income will unlikely go higher than it is now unless I supplement with, oh I don’t know, a million dollar-making blog. (wink, wink) Regardless, you’ve got a succinct little matrix of logic here. Nice post and thanks for the shoutout.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 25, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      That’s true – and I have no idea how hard it is to dig oneself out of the negative. It’s taken me so long to get to where I am financially, and that’s without having to battle any debt, and with (mostly) good money habits from a young age.

      You’re already acting on the investing part! Your investment experiment, for one, and the blog too! I’m sure both are gonna be generating a nice little stream of income for you in a while ( and I’m hoping the blog does reach the million dollar mark! ) Maybe on paper you’re still in the red, but you’re habits are leaning towards the black and I know that’s gonna pay off eventually : )

  3. Wow! Thanks so much for the mention!! I sure appreciate it!! 🙂

    Patience! That’s the hardest one for me and I think the most important!! And not just in waiting for investments to earn interest, but also if I want to buy something and I have to wait. It’s my Achilles heel, my Kryptonite, my Voldemort. If it were sold in a store, and all that… great article! You’re right on the money with the top five net worth considerations! (Money–ha!).

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 25, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      Of course! Yours was one of the first blogs I started reading when I took this path on, and I’ve really enjoyed it : )

      Patience is so so hard. Especially when you feel like you’re falling behind / when forget where you are in your life. We’re all in different stages, so of course it looks different – I do find that patience eventually leads me around to perspective, in that way. And yes! Waiting before you buy can be so difficult; but if you’re still thinking about it after a week, you know you probably really do want / need it.

      Hehhh, you’re pun-ny 😛 Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great post! The Retirement Manifesto and Freedom is Groovy are two of mine favorites. You are so right about just sticking with the plan and having patience. Slow and steady wins the race. It may not happen over night, but if you keep at it you WILL cross the finish line.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 26, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Oooh, I’ll have to check them out!

      There is light at the end of the tunnel! It might be pinprick small, but it’s there, and it’ll get bigger the closer you get to it : ) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Wow, thanks so much for including me in the list! I build my net worth through lots of patience [like you mentioned] and investments! Investing is something that’s new to me because I used to be a cash hoarder. As Mr. NavigatingAdulthood likes to put it, I was a great saver, but I wasn’t good at making that money work for me. Thankfully, reading personal finance blogs helps with that!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 27, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      Of course! I’ve been enjoying your blog : )

      I know exactly what that’s like – I spent just under ten years basically stuffing my money under the bed because I was terrified it would just disappear if I tried this ‘stock market’ thing. I even gave GIS’s the side eye!

      Reading personal finance blogs and immersing oneself into the world is a great way to start dispelling the fear of the unknown. I finally forced myself to just do it… and I’m already seeing the returns. Good luck in your investing!!

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