The Path to A Million: Moving to Move Up

Path to a Million

The Path to A Million: Moving to Move Up

Hello $wanigans! Welcome back to The Green Swan. Today is part 2 to the path to a million. In part 1, Finding the Elevator, I went through some of the keys to my wife and my success in laying the foundation of our careers which has since fueled our Net Worth Explosion. And as I mentioned in the prior post, this two part series came as a recommendation from Finance Solver. As always, I appreciate the comments and recommendations, keep ’em coming!

Our Path

In retrospect, my wife and I would categorize our path to a million as two distinct phases. After I completed my night and weekend MBA program and my wife Lucy put in her dues at work, we were both ready and looking for the next opportunity to advance our career.

In the first 4 to 5 years of our journey beginning after college, we didn’t necessarily expand our net worth all that much. We were still less than 20% of the way on our path to a million. But we laid the ground work, found the elevator and we were ready to ascend! That leads us to part 2, Moving to Move Up!

Path to a Million

California Dreaming

Finishing my MBA in December 2010 was perfect timing. It had been about two years in my current position and with my tenure at the Company being about 4 years, I was eligible to apply for a temporary position which I would then rotate out of into a more senior role wherever I was needed by my employer across the country.

My end location wasn’t completely up in the air; I would have the opportunity to apply for various openings in many different business units. While I would still have to compete with others for those positions, I did have flexibility in where I would apply.

What made this such a tough decision was how it would affect Lucy’s career. The easy choice would have been stay put where we were, but we knew that would limit my overall career advancement. So we took a leap of faith.

In 2011 I accepted a temporary position out in San Francisco, still with my same employer. And after the position in San Fran I could then be heading anywhere in the country.

Lucy and I didn’t want to live separately until we knew my final landing spot, so Lucy began searching for a job in SF and moved with me. Given Lucy’s great work ethic and reputation with her employer, she was able to find another job in its SF regional sales office shortly after the move. While it was a major leap of faith, it worked out very well for her. As part of the move, she too received the promotion she deserved.

Path to a Million

Queen City

As I completed my stint in SF in late 2011, it was yet again another trying time for us. I was in search for my next resting spot, interviewing across the country. And when we settled on a position in Charlotte, Lucy was once again searching for her next job.

Fortunately Lucy was able to work from home in Charlotte for the SF sales office temporarily, and after just a few months of searching in Charlotte she found her next job. As fate would have it, she received yet another promotion as part of this move, all while staying with her same employer. This was no doubt much deserved given her work ethic and the skills she had developed in previous capacities. Just like me, she was being rewarded for her hard work and willingness to move to create advancement opportunities.

At this point we were both valuing the fact our employers were national companies, which did allow us to advance and make geographical moves together.

Gold Rush

As fate would have it, our search for career advancement (and our personal “gold rush”) aligned perfectly with the two American cities that had experienced gold rushes. San Fran’s famous gold rush began in 1848 and Charlotte was the original gold rush in America when a 17 pound nugget was found in 1799. Crazy huh?

Coincidentally, these the two cities resembled our personal gold rush. And in Charlotte we finally found our gold mine. The rest of our path wasn’t all that exciting, but it is where the magic happened. Our salaries have continued to expand nicely. We are very valuable employees for our respective institutions and we are now cashing in.

From a personal standpoint, we’ve put down some roots in Charlotte. We finally bought a house and had our first kid, but we haven’t let lifestyle inflation creep in too much. We’ve continued to manage our expenses tightly and push all our incremental earnings into our retirement accounts. And if you’ve followed The Green Swan for a while, you know we Invest to Win.

Path to a Million


Reflecting on this phase on our path to a million, while lasting just over 5 years we saw our net worth expand approximately $800K. While the length of this phase wasn’t much longer than the first phase, we expanded our net worth 4 times as much. However, it wouldn’t have been possible without the groundwork that was laid in the first phase.

The key was that we didn’t let the groundwork built in phase one to go to waste. We didn’t need to take the risk moving to San Francisco and Charlotte, going out on our own and moving away from family, friends and support structures we had in place. We took additional leaps of faith, and moved geographically to facilitate our career growth.

Many of the things that helped us “find the elevator” in phase one were instrumental in “finding our gold mine” in phase two. We accepted challenges, got outside our comfort zone, embraced change, made ourselves valuable and took leaps of faith.

Ready to find your path to a million? Check out the millennial’s guide to a million.

Are you on or have you completed a similar path to a million? What were some of the keys that helped facilitate your growth? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan

Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach


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  1. Thanks again for sharing Mr Swan

    You took advantage of opportunities in your field and compounded them drastically with hard work – it’s great to hear that your companies rewarded the hustle as well – Nice work!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! Really amazing to see you get to a million in 10 years! I’m a late starter that had to pay back loans first (currently 29) and fiance won’t start working until she’s 32, but hoping we can get to a million in the next 10 years or so too! We’ve got some catching up to do!

    1. That would be a great achievement. It can be very impactful having you both working hard toward the same goal! Best of luck and thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice work, GS. Harnessing the power of geographic arbitrage. If you can make similar money (or more like you can in medicine) while living in a lower cost of living city, you can speed up your savings drastically. A six-figure salary doesn’t necessarily go that far in NYC or SF.


  4. You’re on a great track, GS! We’re in a similar situation, except you’re about 10 years younger than I am so you’re actually well ahead of us! I wish I was as smart as you when I was younger! 🙂

    For us, we’re going to focus on picking up a few more rental properties (we have 2 right now) over the next handful of years. At that point, we should be in good shape with our stock investments and real estate investments. I’m no fan of the stock market, so having a little asset allocation with the rentals help ease my anxiety a little.


    — Jim

    1. Ha thanks Jim! That definitely makes sense using RE to get ahead and to diversify away from stocks. Best of luck and thanks for sharing!

  5. “We accepted challenges, got outside our comfort zone, embraced change, made ourselves valuable and took leaps of faith.” I love this statement! Stepping outside of your comfort zone is so important for achieving goals and living a great life. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Looking back it’s amazing how much getting outside of our comfort zones has paid off. Stressful times but it worked out. Thanks for stopping by Amanda!

    2. I caught the same line and love it too! I think that is one of those huge life lessons to try to share with people when they say, “how did you do it” or “what advice do you have”. I’ve started sharing your blog with my son and he said he can relate to everything you did here. I’d love if he followed your lead!

      1. Yeah you bet. It’s sort of non-specific and intangible but it’s the truth and in retrospect it worked for us. Thanks for sharing the blog and glad he enjoys! 🙂

  6. Wow, that’s nuts man. Your net worth increased 5x in 5 years. You’d be set if you can repeat that. 🙂
    It’s great that you embraced opportunities and come out very well. Keep at it!

  7. Flexibility to make the moves to further your careers has served you both very well. I am sure it was uneasy at the time and had its moments of stress. As we have written on our blog, “getting comfortable being a little uncomfortable” can do great things for you in terms of personal growth and also wealth building.

    1. There were definitely some stressful moments, but it was all worth it.

      Yes, good point. I know you folks have certainly lived that philosophy as well.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mr Pie!

  8. Nice read. In our case, it was moving to the US for a much higher paying job (within the same company) + my side hustle that helped us tremendously over the past 2 to 3 years.

    1. I’d say moving countries would definitely qualify on getting outside your comfort zone. Kudos to you guys for taking that risk and glad it’s paid off. Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. That’s a great Part 2, and I suspect you’re well on your way to a Part 3 that entails even more success!

    I didn’t know that about the Charlotte gold rush in 1799… very cool trivia nugget. (Apologies for the pun.)

    Thanks as always for a great read.

  10. Thanks for sharing your story JW! It’s amazing when everything just starts to click and you see your net worth go up, and up, and up! That happened for me a few years after b-school. Hard work and a few promotions later plus a kick-in-the-pants from a near layoff and the net worth has been shooting up for the past 8 years like never before!

  11. Thanks for sharing! That’s one impressive investment performance, obviously a function of the good investment returns over the last few years. But it still requires very aggressive savings rates, and since I haven’t noticed a spike in bank robberies in the area you must have great savings discipline. Clearly, the geographic arbitrage pointed out above (PoF) helps. It’s very easy to spend a lot of cash in NYC or SF.
    So, congrats, the first million is the hardest and if you keep this up for another few years you’re in really good shape!

    1. I agree! For most folks there shouldn’t be much room for lifestyle inflation in your 20s, it’s too important to get the ball rolling early on the investment accounts. Thanks, Emily.

  12. Wow! Your story is so impressive and motivating. My wife and I are still in the “building the groundwork” years and I hope our story will be similar to yours in 5 years! Ironically we are both 27 and have a very similar story so far to yours (my advanced degree and my wife’s career in sales). Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to read your post 5 years from now! 😉

    1. What that sounds like a very similar path and circumstances as my wife and I. Keep up the hard work and it’ll pay off. Thanks Preston!

  13. Reading this, I take away that you knew what you wanted out of work. Yes, certain doors needed to open, but you were on a mission and have followed through.

    Congrats on getting your MBA while working as well. And, I’m sure you guys are happy you were able to pay some of those dues before having the first child. Our first baby changed everything for us.

    1. Thanks Josh. I would say the recession changed things for us and provided focus for us. And at that point I began to realize what I wanted out of work.

      Having kids earlier would have definitely complicated things and maybe changed some of our priorities at the time. They’re definitely a game changer 🙂

  14. I love this. “We accepted challenges, got outside our comfort zone, embraced change, made ourselves valuable and took leaps of faith.” We have also taken calculated risks that have worked out for the best. Thanks for sharing your journey. 🙂

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