How I Saved My First $50,000 at 20

There’s a lot of financial advice floating around on how to save money.

Most of it includes things like cutting out your daily coffee, packing lunch to work or only buying items on sale.

While these tips may help you temporarily save an extra $50 or $100, they are not going to help you save $50,000 or even $100,000.

Plus, I find these tips don’t apply to everyone – especially if you’ve always been frugal. Who really buys a coffee every single day?

The tips I am going to share with you will fundamentally shift your money habits to help you save significant amounts of money and can be applied specifically to your situation.

There’s a lot to get through so grab some snacks or a drink and settle in!

$50,000 at 20 – A bit about my background

At 20, I hadn’t earned a lot of money in my life or been given any kind of financial handout – I’ve always been a regular girl from a hard-working migrant family.

However, what set me apart is starting early.

I started making money early which allowed me to get ahead financially. My first part-time job was at 15 and my first full-time salaried job was at 19.

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I started working at 15 for $7 AUD/hour and never stopped working since. Even with that measly income, I still saved a large percentage of my pay to buy big ticket items like my first smartphone.

At 19, instead of studying full-time like my peers, I had a full-time corporate job where I made a “proper” salary. Okay, fine the proper salary was essentially minimum wage but it was a lot of money at 19. I still studied full-time at university, taking advantage of night classes.

While it was stressful to study and work full-time, it allowed me to start earning a salary early on without neglecting my education. This led to me to buy my first stock at 19 and those returns have compounded every since.

No one had ever told me this was even an option. I was under the impression that I’d be working part-time in retail/hospitality at university and would only make an actual salary when I graduated in my early 20s.

However, I am here telling you it is possible and an excellent strategy if you want to get ahead financially.
Just make sure it works with your field of study, some degrees with high contact hours would make it impossible to do this.

Working and studying full-time was just one of the many strategies I used to save $50,000 at 20 – here’s what else I did.


Budgeting is one of the most powerful personal finance tools. It is essentially an analysis of how you spend and earn money.

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Budgeting helps you set goals, targets and also identifies problems in your spending habits.

The realisations you will make could be anywhere from that you need to increase your income or perhaps need to cut down on delivery food.

You need to budget to find out where you are and what steps need to be taken.

See if you are spending a large amount on one category but don’t feel like you’re getting it’s “worth”, or if there is anywhere that you could cut down. You are essentially deciding where you should spend your money, what you value and what is important to you.

How Do I Budget?

There are many ways to budget such as using software like YNAB or Pocketbook. I personally prefer an excel spreadsheet, you might find that good old pen and paper works even better.

You can read more about budgeting by clicking here.

Plugging the leaks

Once you have identified what changes should be made, it’s time to manage the issues that are causing you to waste money, a.k.a “plugging the leaks”.

It’s hard for me to predict exactly what your leak is, but I’ve created a list below to help you get some ideas:

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  • Spending too much on eating out, delivery – Cook at home and meal prep
  • Spending too much on rent – Get a roommate or move to a less premium area
  • Spending too much on gyms and trainers – Cancel them and work out at home
  • Spending too much on drinks/going out – Invite friends over instead of visiting a restaurant, have pre-drinks at home before visiting a bar
  • Spending too much on fashion, shoes and bags – Buy second hand, unsubscribe from email newsletters, don’t visit shopping centres or online shopping
  • Income not enough to get by – Up-skill to work towards either a higher-paid promotion or a career change, get a side hustle or second job

Self control & discipline

Once you’ve figured out where you can cut down or what changes need to be made, it’s time to implement it.

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This is one of the hardest parts and it requires a lot of self control and discipline. You need to think twice about the financial decisions you make and stop chasing instant gratification. It can be really hard to stick to your budget and you may mess up sometimes, but that’s okay! Just keep trying your best. Some strategies I personally use to stop over-spending and stick to my budget are:

  • Before you buy anything that isn’t necessary – give it some time and don’t buy it right away. Even if it’s just one day, get out of the habit of buying things without a second thought
  • Start using “fun” purchases to reward yourself for reaching goals and not something you buy on a whim. Delivery food, clothes, drinks – start using them as a treat that you need to earn
  • Regularly remind yourself of your financial goals. You’ll realise your goals are more important than that instant gratification purchase!
  • Distract yourself when you feel like spending. I love shopping and can get in a “mood” to go out and spend money. In this scenario, I try to distract myself. I’ll either bake something or maybe start on a painting. It works!

Changing your mindset

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve”

Debbie Millman

If you want to save $50,000 – you need to believe that you can do it.

You’re probably thinking “that sounds too simple” or “this doesn’t really sound like financial advice” – but, here’s the thing. If you truly believe you can achieve, your brain will actually act differently. There is real science behind this – it’s know as the growth mindset. Click here to read more about the research.

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No matter how many coffees you cut out or how much you cook at home – nothing will change until you change the way you think. Believe that you can save $50,000 – visualise it in your bank account or investment portfolio.

Once you trust that this is something that you can accomplish, you will work even harder to achieve it and be more motivated.

And, that’s it! These are the strategies I used to save $50,000. If you apply all of these steps to your life, you will surprise yourself at how quickly you can achieve your financial goals. Are you ready to save? Here are some of my previous blog articles:

Published by Ruba Khan

Hi, I'm Ruba! The Money Marketer is a financial discussion space to discuss all things money and investment, with a touch of food and lifestyle.

10 thoughts on “How I Saved My First $50,000 at 20

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article Jordan! I came up with the idea when I realised my university offered night classes for most of my subjects – decided to take advantage of that 🙂

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