Someone commented on my most recent Net Worth that really got me thinking about how I have continued to increase my net worth this year.  First a disclaimers: I am no where near a high net worth individual.  Despite being the same percentage (50%) it should be pretty obvious that getting from $1,000 to $1,500 is a lot easier than going from $500,000 to $750,000.

The specific comment that inspired this post was written by a non-blogger named Mike,

How are you able to realize almost 50% growth? Is most of this coming from income, dividends, etc? I’m sure not having car or credit card payments help.

As far as the basic question my assets have increased at a 2 to 1 ratio to my debt.  However (and it is a big however) if the market continues as it is for the rest of August it is going to be a really ugly September update!  Regardless of the numbers I think Mike deserves a more complete answer and I will handle the comment in reverse being as open as possible.

My Debt and Expenses

Debt

Mike, you are 100% correct not having a credit card or car payment helps.  It didn’t take me very long to amass debt (I am only 29).  I started this blog 3 years ago with about $18,000 in consumer debt and about a $14,000 car note.  It took 1 year of intense focus to pay off the credit card debt, and almost another year and a half to kill off the auto note.  I am still working on a mid-double digit law school loan debts.

I believe that one of the best things about paying off your debt is the decrease in your “monthly nut.” Increasing your net worth is easier when you free up cash flow because I can then use those minimum payments to pay off additional liabilities, save towards cash or invest.  For example when I paid off the auto loan 2 months ago, my “budget” just decreased $221/month.  I essentially gave myself a raise of $2,652.  If my family family made $100,000 I just got a 2.6% raise not too bad.

Expenses

I am 100% positive my friends call me frugal, but compared to online people I am a spendthrift!  I don’t really budget, but have a general idea of how much my monthly costs are, and everything above that is used to pay the revolving AmericanExpress card or saved.

I think there are two important cost cutting measures everyone can look into:

  1. Be efficient – What are you doing paying $210 for cable when there is a $120 option? What are you doing paying $172 a month for a cell phone plan when you can do a family plan for $120?
  2. Don’t be Stupid – What are you doing driving around in a brand New BMW if you make $42,000 a year?  I don’t care what amazing lease deal you got.  What are you doing going out for $250 dinners when you have $4,200 in credit card debt?  I get it, a nice car is necessary sometimes and it is nice to go get dinner, so go lease a VW or Nissan and don’t order the 2nd bottle of wine.

My Income

I will frank, my dividend investment portfolio is only a couple grand so even at a very generous dividend yield we are talking about a couple hundred bucks a year.  The reason I discuss it often is that I just have so much fun trying to find undervalued stocks and dream of one day being able to turn it on!

Simply put I work my ass off!  I am not sure I am allowed to quote myself, but I am going to anyway, in my post “What Do You Do At Night? I Try to Make Money” I said,

I get home around 6pm (granted that is early for most), kid is asleep by 7pm, The Wife by 10pm and I go to sleep around 1amish (granted late for most).  During that time The Wife watches a lot of TV…some of it good…some of it bad…but 92% of it I don’t care about. This is the time that I start to work on side projects, because what else am I going to do? Can’t play PS3 since it is on that TV and I try to avoid addicting computer games (anyone heard of Civilization, it is probably the closest thing to crack in my life).

I will be honest building this blog’s reputation, and working towards making money in my other ventures brings me a lot of happiness…it is my hobby (that and using way too many ‘…’).  I feel a sense of accomplishment when I make my family an extra $1,000, $2,500 or even $3,500 per month outside of my regular income…

Even today (Aug 10, 2011), I went to work at 8:30am got home around 5:15pm, then met a new client at 6:30pm, got home at 8:00pm and am now writing this post at 11:45pm.  Could I run this schedule everyday? No way, not enough quality time with The Wife and The Baby, but for the income that the new client can bring in is absolutely worth it every once in a while.

Does everyone have this ability? No, some people leave for work at 6:30am some have family time till 10:00pm when they pass out, however, there is downtime for most people – find yours! Optimize it!

Maybe you have 2 hours a day, maybe you have 5 extra hours a week…regardless of what you have turn off the television and make more money!

Do I have All the Answers?

Do I have all the answers? No chance.  Do I do everything right? No way. I never claimed to be an expert in anything and definitely not frugality, efficiency and making money.  I just know what has worked so far with my family.