The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Investor Alley => Topic started by: joe189man on July 02, 2021, 08:38:22 AM

Title: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: joe189man on July 02, 2021, 08:38:22 AM
i was checking out the 2-4 million and beyond race the other day and began to wonder, how did these folks build their wealth? My biggest question was if they follow the sage MMM advice of all index investing, high savings rates, and conscious spending or if there are outliers here that we can learn from? Did you make some wise (lucky) single stock picks? Go full steam ahead in real estate? Start up /IPO or equity compensation? Over night Cyrptocurrency millionaire? Inheritance?  Small cap value over Total Market or S&P 500? Private Equity? Business Owner? Or something else?

Our stash (as seen in the races threads) was created almost entirely by 401k index investing thus far, with some total NW gains from buying a primary home about 7 years ago. nothing fancy so far.

So how did or are you building your stash? Share the "wealth" of knowledge!

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Glenstache on July 02, 2021, 09:17:56 AM
Slowly. Over time. Consistently. Index funds and low fees. I'm about a decade in and FIRE is starting to be close enough to seem real. It is really hard to get around the spending to savings ratio and for most of us, we simply don't have the resources (time, info) to really beat index funds for individual stock picks. Others may beg to differ based on their personal experience (and some may actually be sage enough to do so), but the research says that most of us are fooling ourselves if we are day trading.

ETA: many on this forum have also used real estate investments to great effect. This is a more pro-active approach that can work well, and has a different set of tradeoffs and decisions. This was not my path, so others can speak to that (or peruse the real estate sub).
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: wenchsenior on July 02, 2021, 09:44:46 AM
We aren't yet in the 2 million club (probably ~3 more years), but we did/are doing it just like Glenstache.  Consistent biweekly investing in low-fee index funds, across a mix of retirement (tax sheltered) accounts and taxable brokerage accounts. 

We started with a huge hole (very negative net worth b/c of student loans, new mortgage, new auto loans, etc.) and household income of about 70K a little over 20 years ago, and didn't really get serious about wealth building until about 12 years ago...which is the point where our income went over 100K/year, but also the point at which we laid out a massive boatload of cash to support poverty-stricken parents...the sudden scary NEW load of debt (when we were only a few years out from getting out from under the majority of the our own initial round of debt) forced us to really change our psychological approach to spending.  We got really aggressive about paying down the new debt AND simultaneously about tracking spending to the penny, and prioritizing investing.

Once we laser-focused on it, we made progress really fast.  But we didn't do anything special at all, just took the predictable route to wealth.

ETA: Very little of our net worth is house equity; it's nearly all cash assets, mostly b/c we live in one of the cheapest housing markets of any American city of >100K.  Downside is, we are going to have sticker shock in terms of housing costs when we retire and (presumably) move, so housing in retirement is likely to be a very large cost, comparatively speaking.

Also, I considered trying to build some wealth via becoming a landlord (esp b/c of the aforementioned cheap housing in our city), but I decided against it b/c I'm introverted and don't want the headaches of dealing with tenants or keeping up the properties.  We have some friends who use property managers, which helps somewhat but cuts into their profits, and even they find the headaches too annoying and are looking to sell the properties.  But I still I think if you are a 'people' person with a good pool of potential stable renters to choose from, and you are comfortable with leveraging your money in the early days of building rental business, it can be a good way to build wealth. Not for me, though. 
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Omy on July 02, 2021, 10:50:07 AM
Ours is a combination of things. We both have always made way more than we spend and are naturally frugal. Exhubby was a big spender, so progress was much faster after that relationship ended. DH and I made sure to take advantage of employer stock options and employer matching for 401ks.

I got a small inheritance ($50k) when my grandparents died. We bought a starter home, paid it off, and turned it into a rental when we bought the dream house. Paid the dream house off and still live there. The dream house was a foreclosure purchased at the bottom of the market and was in amazing shape, so we've done quite well on that purchase. We purchased another rental right before we FIREd in 2019. The rentals cover our basic expenses so we haven't had to touch investments yet. Real estate equity is approximately 30% of our net worth.

I had a nice $150k windfall early on when a company I worked for went public. And DH made lots in bonuses and stock options during his career. We have too much of 2 of these stocks and should sell some, but they keep climbing. The rest is in mutual funds, bonds, too much cash, and an annuity (to replace our rental income when we get tired of being landlords). We are in the process of simplifying since we have A LOT of different funds that overlap. And we are slowly converting 401ks to Roths since our taxes are so low now and will be much higher when RMDs begin in 13 years.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: norajean on July 02, 2021, 11:00:05 AM
Max your backdoor Roth and at 7% CAGR you will have $3 million in 25 years. Add in a company 401K and a bit of real estate and $4 million is easy.
Title: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Eco_eco on July 02, 2021, 01:04:58 PM
Mainly it was a factor of time. Iím mid-40s now. My wife and I spent a large part of our early 20s buying as many rental properties as we could. Then we held onto the good ones, sold the bad ones, and waited.

Owning rentals was not easy at first, but you can learn the systems and then it gets lots easier. It also involves a lot of risk around debt and cashflow. For us it did pay off fast though and were we able to take our first three year career break at age 27 (me) and 29 (DW).

We had a $100,000 inheritance when starting out, which was about 40% of the value of our first house and helped a lot. Back in 1999 when we started this we didnít really have access to stocks and couldnít start a business and so rentals was our only real option. In order to make it work we have lived a MMM lifestyle where we have always saved 50% of our income, but often the 50% we were saving went into rental costs, rather than being saved as cash in the bank.

If we were magically 20 and doing it again I would still have rentals as I see debt as a tool to grow wealth and financial security. But I would not have so many, and I would have more of a proportion of our money in stocks.

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Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Dibbels81 on July 02, 2021, 01:28:54 PM
Slowly but not that slowly. Duel Educated No Kids (DINKS) can see a rapid explosion of the stash in just 5 years, and now at 39 (wife 31) we're actually looking at a FIRE situation in perhaps just a couple years. For us, it's been dumping money into Vanguard 401ks, IRA and leftovers into brokerage. Household income ~140k for about 5 years. We're actually celebrating joining the 7 figure club tonight with a nice dinner with our parents.

Thanks to the good stock market and recent housing explosion, I bet a lot of Mustachians are finding themselves years ahead of their goals.

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Watchmaker on July 02, 2021, 01:35:47 PM
Maxing retirement accounts and investing in taxable passive index funds, with a bit of company stock on top that has accelerated things a bit.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Dicey on July 02, 2021, 02:01:14 PM
Real Estate, mostly. Posting to find this thread later. I am proof that a late/slow start does not put FIRE out of reach.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Financial.Velociraptor on July 02, 2021, 02:05:45 PM
Bass Ackwards according the prescription here.  Invested in my 401k only up to the amount matched by employer.  Lived frugally, and sent all surplus to home equity until I paid off my house.  Then invested aggressively in taxable.  Especially, was aggressive about exploiting contango in the futures market by repeatedly betting against VXX with 10-20% of my portfolio. 

Went FIRE way too soon in 2012 with high yield closed end funds bought on margin to provide 150% of my projected FIRE budget.  Actual spending came in way below projections and I extinguished the margin loan with surplus dividends and trading profits in two years time.

Continue to trade options, although much less aggressively.  Despite doing a couple of stupid things and getting a kick in the teeth portfolio wise, I have gotten my withdrawal rate down from a little over 10% to 5.37% (as of June month-end accounting).  That's after 8.5 years of FIRE.

Took a 20hr a week part time gig in June (straight commission recruiter).  Should see first commissions this month as I have two candidates scheduled for final interviews.  Continuing to trade but working to build up cash for what has to be an inevitable 50%+ market correction in the next two years.  Will buy up mREITs that are in 100% agency securities while they are in the basement and retire again with a sub 4% withdrawal rate and live a truly passive retirement.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: vand on July 02, 2021, 02:10:52 PM
I spent less than I earned, invested the difference wisely and did it for a long time.
Radical, I know!
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: MDM on July 02, 2021, 02:25:18 PM
...high savings rates....
That one.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: oldladystache on July 02, 2021, 02:26:31 PM
I spent less than I earned, invested the difference wisely and did it for a long time.
Radical, I know!
That's pretty much it, except you don't have to invest all that wisely and you'll still have a lot eventually. As long as you don't invest really stupidly.

Almost any conservative investments will get you there, and before you know it your passive income may outgrow your expenses. Then you have to decide what to do with all that money.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Ozlady on July 02, 2021, 07:12:43 PM
A good read...

Just want to add my 2 cents worth:

1) Debt- a great tool if used wisely

2) Compounding- invested slowly and regularly but boy! does it hit me now in my 50s...

3) A similar minded spouse works wonders!

4) Direct debit auto pilot investing is fantastic ..set and forget.

5) What you cannot measure, you cannot improve...

And you know what is even more amazing?  It ain't rocket science (and i ain't that smart ..just mildly interested in the beginning!)
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Morning Glory on July 02, 2021, 07:41:52 PM
Why do you need 2 million? The biggest power is needing less. You get double benefit. Less spend now and less stash needed to retire.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: mboley on July 03, 2021, 10:25:52 AM
Timely multi-family real estate purchases and leave-it-alone index fund investing for me.

Timely real estate buys in the late 90's, when I was making the most money Ive ever made, and the luck of going it in San Diego made it easy. Coastal real estate in SoCal has increased in value
4or5X since then. I say luck because I was born here, that wouldnt have happened almost anywhere else in the US.

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Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: SpareChange on July 03, 2021, 11:58:07 AM
Sorry, nothing sexy or exotic (for this forum). High savings rate. Low cost, tax efficient index investing. No real estate. W-2 income only. Moderate income in a MCOL area.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Metta on July 03, 2021, 01:22:40 PM
Weíre in the 2-4 club as well, though I donít have much to say generally. We lived on less than we made, moved to a LCOL city and bought an affordable house in a safe neighborhood. We didnít buy a house until we could afford it and instead put money into index investments and started to learn about stock investing with individual stocks using a fundamentalist buy and hold philosophy. That was just hobby money, though. Our main money went into index funds and once it was there we didnít touch it. We didnít lose money by selling when other people were panicking and I think that is a lot of why we have more now.

We chose a 15 year mortgage, which allowed us to pay it off faster and pay less in interest.

One of our early fun hobby investments was Apple, which is now about a fifth of our portfolio. So the main power came from index funds but our Apple stock has twice provided us with down payments for a house and for some reason keeps growing. Other hobby investments werenít as good as Apple. Apple was just luck. But itís also not the mainstay of our portfolio.

We never had high-powered jobs and consistently made just a bit over the average income for a family in the US. We donít have children, which allowed us to save more and live a good life. One thing I will say is that once the portfolio gets large enough it generates money on its own. We had heard that but seeing it for ourselves was a revelation.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Dicey on July 03, 2021, 01:31:18 PM
Weíre in the 2-4 club as well, though I donít have much to say generally. We lived on less than we made, moved to a LCOL city and bought an affordable house in a safe neighborhood. We didnít buy a house until we could afford it and instead put money into index investments and started to learn about stock investing with individual stocks using a fundamentalist buy and hold philosophy. That was just hobby money, though. Our main money went into index funds and once it was there we didnít touch it. We didnít lose money by selling when other people were panicking and I think that is a lot of why we have more now.

We chose a 15 year mortgage, which allowed us to pay it off faster and pay less in interest.

One of our early fun hobby investments was Apple, which is now about a fifth of our portfolio. So the main power came from index funds but our Apple stock has twice provided us with down payments for a house and for some reason keeps growing. Other hobby investments werenít as good as Apple. Apple was just luck. But itís also not the mainstay of our portfolio.

We never had high-powered jobs and consistently made just a bit over the average income for a family in the US. We donít have children, which allowed us to save more and live a good life. One thing I will say is that once the portfolio gets large enough it generates money on its own. We had heard that but seeing it for ourselves was a revelation.
Erm, do you mean Apple is a fifth of your individual stock portfolio?
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: deborah on July 03, 2021, 02:03:23 PM
Being frugal and enjoying a frugal life, not having a large salary but saving a large percentage of what I earned, investing in shares before I knew about indexing and indexes since. Having a boarder after I bought my house. Buying a cheap rundown house as my home and fixing it up as I had the money (ending up with exactly the home I wanted). Teaching my hobby (and seeing enjoyment in my studentís faces). Standard MMM stuff. It works. Iíve been completely retired for many years now and Iím not running out.

Simple things can be much more enjoyable than more expensive things, you just need to find the ones that you really enjoy.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Metta on July 03, 2021, 04:52:47 PM
Weíre in the 2-4 club as well, though I donít have much to say generally. We lived on less than we made, moved to a LCOL city and bought an affordable house in a safe neighborhood. We didnít buy a house until we could afford it and instead put money into index investments and started to learn about stock investing with individual stocks using a fundamentalist buy and hold philosophy. That was just hobby money, though. Our main money went into index funds and once it was there we didnít touch it. We didnít lose money by selling when other people were panicking and I think that is a lot of why we have more now.

We chose a 15 year mortgage, which allowed us to pay it off faster and pay less in interest.

One of our early fun hobby investments was Apple, which is now about a fifth of our portfolio. So the main power came from index funds but our Apple stock has twice provided us with down payments for a house and for some reason keeps growing. Other hobby investments werenít as good as Apple. Apple was just luck. But itís also not the mainstay of our portfolio.

We never had high-powered jobs and consistently made just a bit over the average income for a family in the US. We donít have children, which allowed us to save more and live a good life. One thing I will say is that once the portfolio gets large enough it generates money on its own. We had heard that but seeing it for ourselves was a revelation.
Erm, do you mean Apple is a fifth of your individual stock portfolio?

Sadly, I do not. We bought it when it was just a little apple seed that no one else took seriously and then held onto it. (Because buying things we like and holding onto them is mostly what we do.) I keep suggesting that we diversify this holding and my husband keeps pointing out that the Apple money doesnít even count because it is just fun money that has somehow grown out of control and that itís only 1/5 of the portfolio anyway. If we lost all of it we would still be wealthy. (Though the Dow would not be in such good shape if Apple died.)

Every time we sell a significant proportion of it, the stock grows again, leaving us where we were before. So I barely ever suggest diversifying it anymore. Itís apparently our pet monster of a stock that my husband has fallen in love with. There are worse pets.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Dicey on July 03, 2021, 06:19:44 PM
They're not called FAANG for nothing. Awareness helps, as does the size of the remaining 4/5  of your portfolio.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: rmorris50 on July 03, 2021, 07:39:43 PM
I thought aggressively saving and investing did make me an outlier!


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Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Metta on July 04, 2021, 07:47:05 AM
They're not called FAANG for nothing. Awareness helps, as does the size of the remaining 4/5  of your portfolio.

LOL! Indeed.

Yes, the majority of our money is in various index stocks. My husband still works at his job and is not yet sure he wants to leave it. So he continues to put money into his 401K and 403B accounts. Otherwise the money just floats in its happy place and grows faster than we can use it. Though that may change. We just bought a house that feels crazy expensive to us and are plan to do some extensive renovations. The Apple Monster is paying for that while the rest of the portfolio just grows.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Enigma on July 04, 2021, 08:08:37 AM
This is a little much and I am totally sorry for thatÖ  How I built my Stache

For starters as a Math/Stats BS degree earner (2004), I had a hard time trying to get a computer job in the USA.  In 2008, I took a job working for a college that caters to the military in Kabul Afghanistan.  I took certifications required with the education center to get my foot in the door with computers/IT.  I networked and started an IT career in 2009 working in Afghanistan.  I was a paid military contractor which does better financially than the military

2008 Ė Military Education Counselor Ė Afghanistan (1yr)
2009 Ė Military Computer IT Helpdesk Support Ė Iraq (6m)
2009-2014 Ė Military Computer Security Ė Afghanistan
2012 Ė Masterís degree in Cyber from WGU
2014 Ė (FI)
14-17 Ė Lvl 4 Cyber Ė DC
17-18 Ė Africa
19 Ė Tennessee USA (RE)

OverallÖ.  6m in Iraq, 6yrs in Afghanistan, 2.5yrs in DC, 1yr in Africa mostly as a cybersecurity expert with one of the most impressive resumes.  A couple of close calls that could have ended my career (unexploded ordnance, etc).  Put my life on the line to follow my career objectives and what is now FIRE.

Every dime that was not used for living was put towards rental properties & buying multi-units.  I was late at really pushing my 401k or retirement.  Always had money that I owed the bank and when a loan was almost paid off I was sure to buy more.  Still have half my rental empire and current FIRE!
Yet living overseas on bases everything was also paid for (food, shelter, utilities), also with the Foreign Earned Income (roughly $90+k tax-free)
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: amberfocus on July 04, 2021, 06:20:32 PM
i was checking out the 2-4 million and beyond race the other day and began to wonder, how did these folks build their wealth? My biggest question was if they follow the sage MMM advice of all index investing, high savings rates, and conscious spending or if there are outliers here that we can learn from? Did you make some wise (lucky) single stock picks? Go full steam ahead in real estate? Start up /IPO or equity compensation? Over night Cyrptocurrency millionaire? Inheritance?  Small cap value over Total Market or S&P 500? Private Equity? Business Owner? Or something else?

We got to the $2-4MM club via the boring vanilla strategy. DINKs ploughing 80+% of (respectable white-collar) income into total market index funds over the past ~15 years. No crypto, no single stocks, no inheritance, no business, no real estate (modest primary residence purchased 13 years ago has, somewhat to my dismay, barely budged in value). I had some employer stock options that blew up, but I didn't cash out until after we'd already hit $2MM, so we got there without it.

What can I say -- boring vanilla works.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Telecaster on July 04, 2021, 11:53:36 PM
Time is your friend (and your enemy). 

The market did basically nothing from say, 2001 to 2016.  But if you had been following the basic investing advice; maxing out your 401(k) investing in index funds, doing your best with your IRA, and saving whatever else,  today you are a rich MOFO.   

Today, is not 2001.  But I predict if you follow the basic investing advice; maxing out your 401(k) investing in index funds, doing your best with your IRA, and saving whatever else,  in 20 years you will be a rich MOFO.   
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: 4tify on July 05, 2021, 09:32:48 AM
i was checking out the 2-4 million and beyond race the other day and began to wonder, how did these folks build their wealth? My biggest question was if they follow the sage MMM advice of all index investing, high savings rates, and conscious spending or if there are outliers here that we can learn from? Did you make some wise (lucky) single stock picks? Go full steam ahead in real estate? Start up /IPO or equity compensation? Over night Cyrptocurrency millionaire? Inheritance?  Small cap value over Total Market or S&P 500? Private Equity? Business Owner? Or something else?

We got to the $2-4MM club via the boring vanilla strategy. DINKs ploughing 80+% of (respectable white-collar) income into total market index funds over the past ~15 years. No crypto, no single stocks, no inheritance, no business, no real estate (modest primary residence purchased 13 years ago has, somewhat to my dismay, barely budged in value). I had some employer stock options that blew up, but I didn't cash out until after we'd already hit $2MM, so we got there without it.

What can I say -- boring vanilla works.

Ditto. I did it the lazy and boring way as well. 80% savings rate is impressive! I only got to 60% but crossed the $1M mark in less than a decade by resisting lifestyle creep. The second million came even sooner, at which point I started to allow for some minor lifestyle inflation. The math works.

Hereís to vanilla!
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: joe189man on July 06, 2021, 10:38:07 AM
Why do you need 2 million? The biggest power is needing less. You get double benefit. Less spend now and less stash needed to retire.

The $2 mil number is arbitrary, i was more curious how larger stashes were created compared with the actual size. I agree with what you are saying though

i was checking out the 2-4 million and beyond race the other day and began to wonder, how did these folks build their wealth? My biggest question was if they follow the sage MMM advice of all index investing, high savings rates, and conscious spending or if there are outliers here that we can learn from? Did you make some wise (lucky) single stock picks? Go full steam ahead in real estate? Start up /IPO or equity compensation? Over night Cyrptocurrency millionaire? Inheritance?  Small cap value over Total Market or S&P 500? Private Equity? Business Owner? Or something else?

We got to the $2-4MM club via the boring vanilla strategy. DINKs ploughing 80+% of (respectable white-collar) income into total market index funds over the past ~15 years. No crypto, no single stocks, no inheritance, no business, no real estate (modest primary residence purchased 13 years ago has, somewhat to my dismay, barely budged in value). I had some employer stock options that blew up, but I didn't cash out until after we'd already hit $2MM, so we got there without it.

What can I say -- boring vanilla works.

Ditto. I did it the lazy and boring way as well. 80% savings rate is impressive! I only got to 60% but crossed the $1M mark in less than a decade by resisting lifestyle creep. The second million came even sooner, at which point I started to allow for some minor lifestyle inflation. The math works.

Hereís to vanilla!

I think Vanilla (index investing, high savings rates and time) wins so far, a few did real estate, some lucky single stock picks,

FWIW we are on the Vanilla train as well

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: RainyDay on July 06, 2021, 11:58:44 AM
Mostly luck, despite some bad luck.  Started maxing out retirement contributions (all index funds) in 1998.  Didn't start saving aggressively until 2018 or so, but still crossed the $2M mark last week, despite losing $40k on a townhouse back in 2016 (bought in 2005 at the height of the market).  No inheritance, no stock picking, no rental income.  I read "Mutual Funds for Dummies" back in the early 2000s, which basically recommend VTSAX and dollar-cost averaging for the long haul.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: ColoradoTribe on July 06, 2021, 01:06:43 PM
I won the lottery!

I was born a white male in America in a time of relative peace and prosperity. If Iím honest, this is the greatest determining factor in any success Iíve achieved. A small miracle right out of the gate. I was born to hard-working and frugal parents. My father is a college-educated farmer and naturalist, who taught me the value of both physical labor and formal education. He taught me to buy only what you need, and that which provides value. Buy quality and take care of it. Avoid bad debt. Live below your means, etc.

I was also very fortunate to have some innate size and athletic ability that I was able to parlay into a full athletic scholarship. A lot of effort and dedication yes, but parents and coaches that supported my athletic endeavors and ensured I focused on the grades too. Getting a top-notch education and entering the ďrealĒ world with no debt upon graduating in 1999 was bigger deal than I even appreciated at the time.

I moved west after graduation. No job and all my worldly possession crammed into the 1993 Ford Taurus that nearly stranded me at a Nebraska rest stop. After a few months of fruitless job searching, in debt to my roommate for two monthís rent, and a net worth hovering around zero, I got another big break in the form of my first professional job offer. I got a job working outside for long stretches in my desired field. Salary my first year was $28,000.

In 2004 I won the lottery again when I met my wife of nearly 15 years now. A chance encounter based on mutual acquaintances. We donít agree on everything and sheís not as frugal, but we agree on the big things like saving and finding value. Together we have three children. It is my wife who four years ago not only allowed, but encouraged me to quit my career of 17 years, just before my 40th birthday.

Another piece of good fortune was discovering FIRE in 2013, right around the time I was diagnosed with cancer. I was fortunate my cancer was caught in time and readily treatable with surgery and chemo. I say good fortune because it convinced me to get serious about early retirement and to not spend any more time than needed in a job that I no longer enjoyed.

I FIREíd in 2017 to focus on raising our three boys. Our NW upon retiring was around 1.5 million. Itís now over 4 million. My wife continues to work, but she knows she can retire if she wishes. We own a few rental properties and a primary residence that have appreciated greatly over the years.

In 2013, I also bought a Nissan LEAF that I still own today. Two things became apparent to me at that time; 1) electricifciation of transport and battery storage combined with renewable energy were the future and 2) if human society is going to persist into the future in anything resembling its current state the transition to these technologies needed to accelerate rapidly. This led to my first purchase of Tesla shares. I originally limited our investment to 5% of our NW, but as the value of the stock increased I did not sell off to keep to the 5%. We had never owned more than a few thousand dollars of any single stock prior to this. The majority of our stock market exposure was through VTI and 401k directed target funds (wifeís plan, Iím not a fan). Our current Tesla holding is currently valued just under 2 million with no intention of selling anytime soon.

America is a great land of opportunity, but too often we embrace the mythical ďself-madeĒ man or woman to explain our successes or worse, others inability to prosper. The system inherently creates ďwinnersĒ and ďlosersĒ.  We should not lose sight of the vagaries of fate that have led each of us to where we sit now. Give back and be sure not to pull the ladders up behind us as we advance. I attended public schools all my life. Never played anything but rec sports or for the school team. Now, a single season of my sonís club soccer could have paid for my entire athletic career, including equipment. Sorry for the tangent, but the avenues of opportunity for all in society need to be kept open. A rising tide raises all boats. This will be my focus going forward, creating societal good, as the pursuit of additional wealth is not the driving need. Money, beyond providing for basic human needs (schooling, food, shelter, healthcare, safety) really does not lead to greater happiness. My focus is increasingly on relationships and finding ways to positively impact the world.

Thanks to all who have shared a little of their story above. A lot of common themes throughout and always good to to see good people do well.

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: zinnie on July 06, 2021, 03:35:55 PM
My husband and I are DINKs who had decent salaries and saved 60-70% of our income each year and invested in index funds in basically a three-fund portfolio. We also made 225K on a house we owned for ten years.

In 2009 we had ~$50K and in 2021 $2.2M. In the more recent years the investment gains have been well beyond anything we could have ever contributed from our jobs. It really does snowball once you get into the higher numbers, and of course, the market has been insane recently. We're done now, but if we kept working I bet the next million would hit even faster than the last.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: time is money on July 07, 2021, 03:50:22 AM
Weíre in the 2-4 club as well, though I donít have much to say generally. We lived on less than we made, moved to a LCOL city and bought an affordable house in a safe neighborhood. We didnít buy a house until we could afford it and instead put money into index investments and started to learn about stock investing with individual stocks using a fundamentalist buy and hold philosophy. That was just hobby money, though. Our main money went into index funds and once it was there we didnít touch it. We didnít lose money by selling when other people were panicking and I think that is a lot of why we have more now.

We chose a 15 year mortgage, which allowed us to pay it off faster and pay less in interest.

One of our early fun hobby investments was Apple, which is now about a fifth of our portfolio. So the main power came from index funds but our Apple stock has twice provided us with down payments for a house and for some reason keeps growing. Other hobby investments werenít as good as Apple. Apple was just luck. But itís also not the mainstay of our portfolio.

We never had high-powered jobs and consistently made just a bit over the average income for a family in the US. We donít have children, which allowed us to save more and live a good life. One thing I will say is that once the portfolio gets large enough it generates money on its own. We had heard that but seeing it for ourselves was a revelation.
Erm, do you mean Apple is a fifth of your individual stock portfolio?

Sadly, I do not. We bought it when it was just a little apple seed that no one else took seriously and then held onto it. (Because buying things we like and holding onto them is mostly what we do.) I keep suggesting that we diversify this holding and my husband keeps pointing out that the Apple money doesnít even count because it is just fun money that has somehow grown out of control and that itís only 1/5 of the portfolio anyway. If we lost all of it we would still be wealthy. (Though the Dow would not be in such good shape if Apple died.)

Every time we sell a significant proportion of it, the stock grows again, leaving us where we were before. So I barely ever suggest diversifying it anymore. Itís apparently our pet monster of a stock that my husband has fallen in love with. There are worse pets.

Forest Gump, is that you?
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: FLBiker on July 07, 2021, 06:07:36 AM
Another vote for slow and steady here.  We did it in ~12 years (70K to 1.3M) on pretty ordinary salaries (total of ~$100K) with one kid.  90/10 stocks to bonds in low cost index funds.  That's it.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Car Jack on July 07, 2021, 11:31:32 AM
Living below your means as a core way of living was my key.

I paid my own way through college, getting to zero dollars more than once along the way.  Part time jobs, work study, a co-op all got me through.  And this was an expensive private New England college, not State U.  But it was also before Reagan told the colleges to set their tuition rates to the moon.

Anyways, 60 days after graduating college, my fiance and I bought a house.  We married 6 months later and had student loans, car loan, personal loans and the mortgage.  Before avalanche was a word to use in paying off debt, being an engineer, I figured that out pretty easily and we paid the highest rate debt until it was gone, then on to the next one.  We upgraded to a better house and continued paying off debt.  I was quite risk averse and only put a small amount into my 401k and the wife's 401k.  I bought some savings bonds with extra money.

At this point, I'll re-iterate that I'm frankly cheap.  I would bring a pack of hot dogs and a pack of rolls into work every week and lunch was from the microwave.  Paying even an extra $10 a month on the mortgage made us happy.  We eventually did pay off the mortgage.  We had investments but no taxable account and no Roth.  I read on another forum (a car forum) that everyone should know what their investments are, and what they cost.  That lit the light bulb over my head.  It took me literally a year to gather all the account information as I had no idea where old 401k's were for me and DW.  That year point arrived and I found Bogleheads.  I remember that I put everything in a spread sheet and was astounded that our total invested was $1.56 MM.  I learned a lot from Bogleheads and cashed a Universal Life policy, converted funds like Magellan and Contrafund to index funds and moved a bunch of accounts from places like Transamerica and New York Life to Fidelity.  We also started contributing to Roth accounts.  Only recently (in the last 5 years), I started investing in taxable accounts.

Now I'll mention that I'm ultra conservative in life stuff.  I always have a safety net.  For grad school, I did both thesis work and took the graduate exam.  So I was absolutely going to fulfill graduation requirements, no matter what.  On the investment side, I know the Trinity Study.  I add in my own fudge factor, which is 2.  So I didn't feel financially independent until I hit 50 times spending in investable assets.

MMM came very late in my investing life, but has added value in selling tradelines and taking advantage of low balance forgiveness.  I certainly do periodic new credit cards to get the bonuses.

I am also pretty amused by some of the people I watch here and on BH.  I note that there are 2 acceptable cars on BH and one here.  The one here and BH that gets approval is a beige, 10 year old, 100k mile Camry.  The second on BH is a $100k Tesla.

There's my story.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: brandon1827 on July 07, 2021, 01:55:30 PM
Posting to follow mostly

Net worth number is north of 1M, but I'm still churning away as I was late to the movement and have some issues to clean up. Very interesting reading everyone's stories though
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Pigeon on July 07, 2021, 03:25:59 PM
Payroll deductions to IRA/401k/403b/457b accounts investing a in low cost index funds. We started earlyish, never had huge salaries, but we're careful with money.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: MaybeBabyMustache on July 07, 2021, 03:52:52 PM
We're in the $2-4M+ club, with a lot invested in home equity (bay area, so VHCOL). We also have $2M in our retirement accounts, and are close to having our 7 figure house paid off in ~5 years. (Not for everyone, but required for our personal security).

What did we do? A bunch of stuff, but here's a few off the top of my head:
-We were lucky, and both went into industries that pay super well
-We made one major job transition/family move from Seattle to the bay area that more than tripled our family income. We receive stock grants that have gone up tremendously in value.
-We have no debt, minus the mortgage
-I've been saving in my 401k since I was 21. At first, I did the company max, but as soon as I could, I bumped it up to the full IRS max. My husband got off to a bit of a slower start, but our 401Ks are now approximately the same value (just over $1M each). He's a more aggressive investor. ;-)
-I cash flowed an MBA while working, with a company that gave me a small reimbursement
-I got a large college scholarship, and paid off my loans in my first few years of working
-We've always lived below our means
-We evaluate all of our expenses. I'm by no means the most frugal person on this board (by like, a long, long, long shot), but we've prioritized the things we care about. For us, that was housing. And, not a fancy house (I long for a bath tub, but can't swing a remodel right now), but a house that had a tolerable commute, as we had kids in elementary school at the time. The expensive house came with expensive property taxes, and plenty of maintenance & upkeep. We made that our top priority, and deprioritized a lot of things our peer group spends on.
-We've tried really hard to keep our spending consistent (or, lower when we can), even with our income skyrocketing.

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Radagast on July 07, 2021, 08:12:08 PM
The one here and BH that gets approval is a beige, 10 year old, 100k mile Camry.
Ok I need a citation, otherwise you need to stop saying this ;). The most mustachian options are walking running biking and public transport. For people who must, I do not believe a camry would ever make the cut of the top fifty. There is literally a better car (and probably more than 10) for every possible purpose. Show a place where MMM or a forumer has recommended a Camry!
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: diggo on July 07, 2021, 09:56:27 PM
Pretty simple formula that works over and over again:

- Aggressive savings rate (80% of net income) - I used to be a big spender and this was a skill I had to learn
- Shoveling those savings into real estate & low cost index funds.
- Buying a family home with a granny flat produces a nice bonus income
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: srad on July 08, 2021, 07:45:01 AM
This was easy it just took 20 years.

Never really got into consumer debt, I had a generous athletic scholarship for college so I had very little in student loans.  Out of college I started investing right away into my 401k and a brokerage account.  And most importantly, traded thousands of hours of my nights and weekends to work on real estate.  I now have a multi million dollar rental portfolio that if I was frugal enough, could live off of. Oh and I'm still trading my nights and weekends on this.  I picked up two more properties recently that need a ton of work.

Biggest problem I have is once I hit my original FIRE number, I realized I needed to double it.  Frugal living is not for me, Travel, Mt Bikes, ski vacations, maintenance on a Range Rover is costly :) 

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Metta on July 08, 2021, 08:01:30 AM
Weíre in the 2-4 club as well, though I donít have much to say generally. We lived on less than we made, moved to a LCOL city and bought an affordable house in a safe neighborhood. We didnít buy a house until we could afford it and instead put money into index investments and started to learn about stock investing with individual stocks using a fundamentalist buy and hold philosophy. That was just hobby money, though. Our main money went into index funds and once it was there we didnít touch it. We didnít lose money by selling when other people were panicking and I think that is a lot of why we have more now.

We chose a 15 year mortgage, which allowed us to pay it off faster and pay less in interest.

One of our early fun hobby investments was Apple, which is now about a fifth of our portfolio. So the main power came from index funds but our Apple stock has twice provided us with down payments for a house and for some reason keeps growing. Other hobby investments werenít as good as Apple. Apple was just luck. But itís also not the mainstay of our portfolio.

We never had high-powered jobs and consistently made just a bit over the average income for a family in the US. We donít have children, which allowed us to save more and live a good life. One thing I will say is that once the portfolio gets large enough it generates money on its own. We had heard that but seeing it for ourselves was a revelation.
Erm, do you mean Apple is a fifth of your individual stock portfolio?

Sadly, I do not. We bought it when it was just a little apple seed that no one else took seriously and then held onto it. (Because buying things we like and holding onto them is mostly what we do.) I keep suggesting that we diversify this holding and my husband keeps pointing out that the Apple money doesnít even count because it is just fun money that has somehow grown out of control and that itís only 1/5 of the portfolio anyway. If we lost all of it we would still be wealthy. (Though the Dow would not be in such good shape if Apple died.)

Every time we sell a significant proportion of it, the stock grows again, leaving us where we were before. So I barely ever suggest diversifying it anymore. Itís apparently our pet monster of a stock that my husband has fallen in love with. There are worse pets.

Forest Gump, is that you?

Iím not sure how to take that. So to explain.

When we got into buying individual stocks we were head over heels for Peter Lynchís method and especially his description of how he bought Líeggs. So, we looked around and bought stocks that were basically our favorite things. We ended up with Apple  because we were serious Apple hobbyists back when no one else we knew took Apple seriously. We believed in Apple the way that religious converts believe in their new religion and we were dedicated to fighting the Evil Empire (Microsoft) in defense of Apple. So of course we bought Apple as soon as we were buying stock. No brainer, right? Apple would triumph because Apple Is Good! Good must triumph over evil (Microsoft). We were so naive in our nerdish beliefs.

We bought Tofutti because it was a vegan ice cream we could actually buy stock in. We were vegans ready to convert the world and what better way than with delicious ice cream?

There were a number of other stocks we bought with this crazy method, always investing very small amounts of money in this hobby. One of which we watched go down into bankruptcy. It was a good lesson for us. Buying stocks because we loved the companies wasnít enough. And our love couldnít make companies succeed. We needed to learn how to research more thoroughly to avoid another Weider disaster.

We still use our own affinities along with our own knowledge areas (we added that to Lynchís method) and lots and lots of research when we buy stocks. But since the day we put down our money for Apple and Tofutti, stock buying hasnít been entirely about money. Itís been about holding a part of companies we love. Itís also been a sort of game. Research, predict, buy, assess.

Apple has not only been a company we love, itís also produced a lot of money for us. And even though Iíve moved on from my early religious zealotry for Apple, my husband has not. He still regards Microsoft as the Evil Empire. He still watches every single Apple address that is streamed and arranges his schedule so that he can watch it live. Selling pieces of Apple hurts him and it isnít entirely about selling a stock that will make more money for us.

But you canít rely on love. You need hard-headed wisdom as well. In the realm of saving and investing, hard-headed wisdom is investing in indexed mutual funds with low fees. Thatís what weíve done to save money. Apple was crazy, crazy luck, a hobby that started to make money in ways we never expected. Index funds coupled with a 30% - 60% savings rate over time  allowed us to grow our stash into millions of dollars.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: shuffler on July 08, 2021, 09:51:02 AM
Forest Gump, is that you?
Iím not sure how to take that.
Forrest Gump also made a lot of money investing in a "fruit company".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZK5VRuUfEY
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Telecaster on July 08, 2021, 10:15:12 AM
i was checking out the 2-4 million and beyond race the other day and began to wonder, how did these folks build their wealth? My biggest question was if they follow the sage MMM advice of all index investing, high savings rates, and conscious spending or if there are outliers here that we can learn from? Did you make some wise (lucky) single stock picks? Go full steam ahead in real estate? Start up /IPO or equity compensation? Over night Cyrptocurrency millionaire? Inheritance?  Small cap value over Total Market or S&P 500? Private Equity? Business Owner? Or something else?

Our stash (as seen in the races threads) was created almost entirely by 401k index investing thus far, with some total NW gains from buying a primary home about 7 years ago. nothing fancy so far.

So how did or are you building your stash? Share the "wealth" of knowledge!

Going from 2-4 million isn't actually very much tougher than going from $500K to $1MM.   The reason is compounding.  Once you get to say, $2MM the power of compounding is so large that it pretty much swamps out the effect of your contributions  at least for people with normal incomes. 

Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: dabighen on July 23, 2021, 04:47:45 PM
I went to Vegas and kept doubling up putting my life savings gs on black. 

 ;)
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: jinga nation on July 23, 2021, 05:32:19 PM
learning from my grandpa and dad about CDs and Treasuries investing (in the old country).
then learning from my college buddy about CD laddering when they were 6.5-7% (anyone remember ING Bank?)
learning to churn credit cards, bank accounts, travel points, etc, in the app-o-rama days, from the FatWallet finance forum (FWF).
then discovering Bogleheads and lazy portfolios from FWF.
then discovering MMM from BogleHeads.
and implementing what I learnt along the way by taking a small portion of my/our money and risking on the new venture.

In addition, putting our cash hoard into 2 condos when the housing market collapsed, with a friend who mentored me (he invested in the same community). Then gaining confidence and buying a few more when every time we had enough cash (was able to buy direct from banks with cash, closing in 7-10 days). For a while, we had a few thousand only in an emergency fund, the rest was in rental properties, no other liquid money.

Real Estate (not including our home) is about 35% of net worth; the rest is in retirement and brokerage accounts in Vanguard, with about 80/20 stock/bond split.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: whywork on July 24, 2021, 08:10:01 PM
My story is radically different I think

I made my gains mostly through QQQ and a small percent in few individual FAANG stocks. More shockingly I was sitting on cash and didn't start investing it till late 2017 (except for company 401k which I started in 2015). My job saves me about 150k / year and that helped a lot. No real estate, renting now.

Here's my networth growth:   

Jan 2016: 300k
Jan 2017: 445k
Oct 2017: 500k
Sep 2018: 670k
Oct 2019: 885k
Jan 2020: 1.1m
Jul 2021: 1.8m
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Dicey on July 25, 2021, 12:15:11 PM
learning from my grandpa and dad about CDs and Treasuries investing (in the old country).
then learning from my college buddy about CD laddering when they were 6.5-7% (anyone remember ING Bank?)
learning to churn credit cards, bank accounts, travel points, etc, in the app-o-rama days, from the FatWallet finance forum (FWF).
then discovering Bogleheads and lazy portfolios from FWF.
then discovering MMM from BogleHeads.
and implementing what I learnt along the way by taking a small portion of my/our money and risking on the new venture.

In addition, putting our cash hoard into 2 condos when the housing market collapsed, with a friend who mentored me (he invested in the same community). Then gaining confidence and buying a few more when every time we had enough cash (was able to buy direct from banks with cash, closing in 7-10 days). For a while, we had a few thousand only in an emergency fund, the rest was in rental properties, no other liquid money.

Real Estate (not including our home) is about 35% of net worth; the rest is in retirement and brokerage accounts in Vanguard, with about 80/20 stock/bond split.
How many units did you end up with and how are they doing now?
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: blue_green_sparks on July 25, 2021, 02:46:36 PM
I had just landed my first job out of engineering school. Mid 80's. The company assigned an older gentleman to mentor me. Third day he says "so did you sign up for the 401k?". I was like "what is a 401K?". "Follow me down to personnel."
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Mr. Green on July 25, 2021, 04:27:18 PM
Almost textbook index investing method. Saved a bunch of money in index funds. The only deviation from that was a house we had to buy for my dad because he couldn't support himself, which we eventually sold at break even after he died, and some land we thought we were going to build a house on after FIRE and didn't, so we sold that too. We've been 80/20 stocks/bonds since I FIREd in 2016 and our stash has doubled in those 5 years.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Much Fishing to Do on July 25, 2021, 04:59:38 PM
I started real work in 2000 making about 80k and saving and investing around 40%.  10 years later I was making about $160k and saving about half of take home and had paid off my modestly priced (compared to my peers) house.  I felt pretty wealthy at that point with a paid off house and 10x my annual spend in investments, so finally had the guts to start a business i thought would do well and ensure I could work from home.  Because I kept expenses low (never rented space, all my employees always worked from home) I did ok the first few years, then things took off.  I basically had 4 extremely profitable years then pulled the plug and switched to consulting to reduce risk and hours.  Over the course of those rocketing years I blew thru any earlier planned FIRE numbers (which was around $2M, but today I'm at $5M NW, $4M LNW), so we increased our spending & gifting and filled 529s for the kids.  Looking back on it, if I had just kept the job and not started the business, I'd probably be FIREing around the same time with half the stache I have now (which would have been just fine too).

My investments have always been aggressive but boring (was basicall 100% s&p500 for those first 10 years, then what probably equated to a normal 90/10 portfolio, and then recently more like 70/15/15 (The last 15 being cash which I plan to mostly spend down for the first few years of FIRE).
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: jinga nation on July 25, 2021, 08:21:02 PM
something something rental real estate...
How many units did you end up with and how are they doing now?
5 at the moment. have sold some due to various factors.
2 have doubled from purchase price, 1 has 2.5x'd, and 2 have tripled.
I don't self-manage anymore, young family means no time for that. Have found a very good reliable management company that charges a fixed nominal amount and has good handyman/contractor/plumber/HVAC rolodex if anything needs to be done, at a lower price than competition.
Profits cover my primary home mortgage, property tax, insurance, and utilities.
Title: Re: Question - How did you build your Stache?
Post by: Dicey on July 25, 2021, 10:40:52 PM
something something rental real estate...
How many units did you end up with and how are they doing now?
5 at the moment. have sold some due to various factors.
2 have doubled from purchase price, 1 has 2.5x'd, and 2 have tripled.
I don't self-manage anymore, young family means no time for that. Have found a very good reliable management company that charges a fixed nominal amount and has good handyman/contractor/plumber/HVAC rolodex if anything needs to be done, at a lower price than competition.
Profits cover my primary home mortgage, property tax, insurance, and utilities.
Sweet!