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Today, I’ve got a great Q&A session with Lily over at The Frugal Gene (aka the SUPER SAVERS). Lily is an immigrant who has taken The (new) American Dream by the horns. Her story is incredible and I hope it inspires you as much as it’s inspired me. Enjoy!
Hi, I’m Lily. I am a millennial money blogger. Lance has graciously invited me to guest post here 🙂 Me & my husband are the ultimate super savers. We save over $100,000/year in the grandest pursuit of financial freedom. Hubby & I live our lives car-free and debt free. I moonlight as a host on AirBnB and my favorite past time include making budgets and making out in the rain. It’s a total dance party → thefrugalgene.com
Hiya! My name is Lily, I was born on the coast of Southern China. I’m 25 years old and I work as a full-time AirBnB hostess, entrepreneur and blogger. My family and I immigrated to San Francisco, California in 2000 when I was 10. I grew up in San Francisco with my parents.
Coming to America – The Beginning Of The Super Savers
San Francisco’s often been associated as the playground for the wealthy. When I was in college people asked me where I was from and when I said “I’m from San Francisco” they immediately assumed my parents owned a million dollar house. My family actually rented the inside an old single car garage in the outskirts of the city.
My personal experience growing up in San Francisco has always been more about the hidden struggles between the rich and poor. No one hears the ignoble details because everything is swept under the rug. San Francisco has this interesting detachment where one city block can be filled with high end French boutiques and the next block, there would be an overwhelming presence of poverty, homelessness and gang violence. The city has absurdly clear yet invisible dividing lines between the rich and poor. It makes the entire scene comical from a sane outsider’s perspective.
When did you start learning about money?
My parents did not drop an ounce of knowledge on me in terms of money. They encouraged me to study hard and, yeah, that’s pretty much it. I was not fully conscious of money but by the time I turned 13, I had promised myself that I would never encapsulate MY own children into another cycle of poverty. There were plenty of kids at my school who got knocked up and there were the kids who flunked out too.
I was bright enough to ignore the gangs, drugs and peer pressure. When I was in high school I had about $5,000 saved up from various summer internships. I understand to most people that’s probably not a lot of money but for a destitute 16-year-old, that wasn’t bad. I hoarded it all. No prom, no high school yearbook, no dances, no dating, no lunches, nothing. I have zero regrets.
I had one objective for high school: get out of the inner city ghetto and go to college.
How much debt did you have?
My university career was not particularly cheap but not outrageously expensive. The whole experience landed me -$20,000 in student debt after I graduated but that just lit a bigger fire under me. I dug down hard and ended up in the positive of $22,000 within 2 years.
Student loan debt was the only debt I had. I can’t even remember what the minimum payment was on my student loans. I just logged in every month and threw everything I had into it until it was killed off. It was the only debt I had. I was able to live car-free which was a huge money saver. I worked 2-3 jobs and had no expenses outside of housing.
Some people think it’s discipline to be so robotic about debt but it’s not discipline. Look at where I’m from and that’s going to be the best lesson in debt on this whole planet.If you grew up with nothing then it’s hard for you to miss it or feel like you even deserve it.Click To Tweet
What stepping stones did you take to become financially fit?
I was a fond follower of Financial Samurai. I think he was really my final stepping stone to becoming financially fit. My husband and I always had a good amount of money (in 2015 our net worth was 400K and now it’s almost $800K) but we were not utilizing it as we should have. Most of it just sat in the credit union and less than half of the $400K was actually invested in anything! Nothing! Thank goodness for the personal finance community…now we believe we’re on the right track!
How did you start on AirBnB?
After I relocated to Seattle, I told my husband-to-be, “you want me to be the wifey? Buy me a housey.” Haha my goodness, I’m just kidding. But I did do some half decent math and explained, “we can leverage and break even with AirBnB which means we basically get to to live rent free.” My husband is not the type to say no to me…🙃 Thankfully, AirBnB was a success both in location and timing. I have managed a 98% occupancy rate since inception 2 years ago. We even expanded to a second rental.
What are some of your future money goals?
I’m 25. My friends are still in shock at how much my life has changed in 2 years. Me too…I was the last person to believe I would be married by 23. A few of them told me “you’re set for life, just have a baby already.” Haha nope, and that’s very awkward! I want to keep building my business until I feel like I’ve proved my purpose…even if I fail over and over. Ehh, realistically, in 10 years I’ll probably be an average stir crazy mommy blogger.
We want to keep maxing out our retirement accounts which takes a pretty big chunk of the monthly net income. Hopefully if we invest it right, it’ll be bigger the next time we peek in. We pour in close to $60K a year. It will be locked in there for about 30 years.
By 2035, there should be at least 3 million in the bank. If there isn’t and we somehow fail that goal, meh, water off a duck’s back. It’s the basic discipline that we should learn, not the numerical value of the exact dollar. Plus, I just want my hubby and my puppy with me for life 🙂
What obstacles have you ran into?
I don’t believe in treating myself. On most days I just suffer in hunger. I still don’t eat lunches. I eat just 1 meal a day (not healthy I know) just like in high school when I couldn’t afford to eat. There is such a thing as too frugal and to a point you question why if you have the money, can’t you treat yourself. The answer goes back to my rearing, I am forever stuck, suffering from a shortage of money even though it is far from so.
Another problem, I really like clothes. I don’t like wearing clothes…but I like to hoard clothes. It’s fantastically dumb. I have maybe 5 outfits that I wear but I have 30 dresses that I never wear. It’s very strange but that’s kind of what I am. I give myself a pitiful $275 a year (during X-mas) to buy clothes. It’s fun to argue with yourself about it when I technically can afford it but it’s completely out of line with my principles.
The financial obstacle for my husband is quite simple. He’s very risk averse and he finds personal finance incredibly boring. So I end up making the financial decisions for us (which brings me some anxiety too!)
What advice do you want to give other people?
I have been very fortunate in marrying a wonderful man and I have to thank my rough upbringing for it. It taught me how to be fiscally responsible by force and it taught me everything I shouldn’t do. Don’t ever let poverty be your excuse! Do not ever let your income (at whatever number) hold you down. Don’t ever play the victim because you are not! You’re a hero who is in the middle of your story that hasn’t finished yet.
Make sure to check out other guest posts here.
-Lily @ The Frugal Gene