The Path to A Million: Finding the Elevator
Hello $wanigans! Thanks for stopping by The Green Swan. Today I will be sharing my path to a million. This post comes as a result of reader feedback asking me to share my story. As always, I love the feedback from readers and am delighted to respond to requests such as this. If other readers have a topic they wish to have discussed or more general feedback they’d like to share, don’t hesitate to leave comments or reach out directly via the Contact Page. I love the engagement from readers, so keep it up, and thanks again for motivating me to write this article.
Alright, so without further ado, let’s get on with how my wife and I were able to reach the double comma club. To begin, I would like to reference a previous article titled Net Worth Explosion. If you haven’t already, you may want to give this a read for a starting point.
In looking back on our path to a million, I view the path as having two distinct phases. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the first phase which I’ve titled Finding the Elevator.
By way of background, my wife Lucy and I both grew up in a small city in the Midwest. While having known each other throughout high school, we didn’t start dating until after we went off to college. And we both went to different colleges, so it was a bit of a long distance relationship in the beginning. We graduated, got engaged, and married 8 months later.
Having both earned solid degrees from reputable public universities, we were ready to enter the workforce. Our combined starting salaries in 2008 were around $75K. Fortunately, we graduated and were able to get our entry level jobs prior to the Great Recession. We were also fortunate to have our respective parents pay for a good portion of our schooling. We both worked throughout high school and college, saved everything we could, and began investing early in our retirement accounts.
We entered the workforce on the ground floor, myself with an entry level analyst position at a bank and Lucy began in the sales department of a large hotel company. I had the opportunity to begin my job full time at the end of 2006, about six months before graduating (it was a busy last semester!). And Lucy began her career at the end of 2007. Our first couple years were all about working hard, gaining experience, and receiving our nominal, low single-digit pay increases.
So let’s begin the timeline there.
The First Move
After almost two years in my first job (in the Fall of 2008), I took a modest promotion with my same bank, but in a city two hours away. The timing couldn’t be more precarious, and looking back I am a little surprised we took such a risk. The Great Recession had just begun. As part of the move, Lucy had to quit her job and try to find a new one in a new city.
We took a leap of faith and fortunately it paid off. Just a month or two after the move, Lucy found a job with the same hotel company in a similar role she had previously. We missed her income for that short time period, but focused on managing expenses to get by.
It was never a sure thing she was going to find a job immediately which made the situation a little precarious. As a matter of fact, it took applying and interviewing for a number of positions before she secured employment.
Like I said, it was a leap of faith that paid off. We knew my new job would offer continued career advancement, so we took the risk.
The Great Recession was in pretty full on disaster-mode at that time. Even after we had both found new jobs, we were still very uncertain about our job security. Our companies both implemented hiring freezes shortly after our move, folks were getting laid off around us, our businesses were definitely no longer as stable as they once were, and on top of that we saw many friends go through trouble finding and retaining jobs.
Finding the Elevator
This taught us both very valuable lessons and we never took our jobs for granted thereafter. As such, we both began thinking hard about what we could do to secure our jobs, provide value for our companies, and advance our careers. That’s when I began my nights and weekend MBA program at a top public university.
As I look back, I realize that earning my MBA was my elevator to career advancement. It was by no means a guarantee to career advancement at the beginning. It could have just as easily taken me to the garage instead of going up, especially given all the cash we were sinking into it. But I aspired for greener pastures so I rolled up my sleeves and embraced the grind. Long and busy weeks and not much of a life outside work and school for a couple years, but it was going to serve as my elevator.
Meanwhile, Lucy continued to take on more and more responsibility at her job. And given the reluctance of her employer to necessarily hire on new folks at the time, there was plenty of opportunity for her to showcase herself, go above and beyond and be recognized for that.
The Ground Work is Set
With the US economy improving, having completed my MBA program and Lucy ready for her next step; we began searching for our next opportunities. And to find those opportunities, we were more than willing to move across the country. While it was not an easy decision at the time, we ended taking another leap of faith. Chasing the next opportunity for advancement, we were willing to make a big change in scenery!
We’ll save that for Part 2… The Path to A Million: Moving to Move Up. Be sure to check it out next Monday.
When looking back on this phase which eclipsed approximately 4 to 5 years, our net worth didn’t necessarily expand by leaps and bounds. But this first phase wasn’t solely about growing net worth, it was about setting the table for bigger things to come. After all, you can’t launch a rocket without a launch pad.
Some of the things that helped us set the ground work and find the elevator were accepting challenges, getting outside of our comfort zone, a willingness to embrace change, making ourselves more valuable, and taking calculated leaps of faith for the potential to advance our careers.
It wasn’t easy or risk free, not by any means of the imagination. Neither is riding a bike for the first time either, but once you’ve learned how to ride you’ll be riding for the rest of your life.
For part two of my path to a million, check out how I moved to move up.
Ready to find your path to a million? Check out the millennial’s guide to a million.
Let me know your story in the comments below. How did your career get off the ground? Did you have a similar path or totally different? What did it take to find your elevator and what was it?
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan
Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach
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