How I Got to a 5 Figure Net Worth in College


NetWorthToday I’m going to share how I got to have 5 figures in the bank while still being a full-time student in college with two majors and three minors. I did not have a trust set in place nor did I win the lottery. I did it through an insane work ethic that got me to that bank account when I graduated. I did have stressful nights and days where I wanted to quit but I powered through and was able to achieve what I wanted.

Insane Work Ethic and Insane Savings

When I say insane work ethic, this is what I mean. My freshmen Spring semester and all of my sophomore year, I had 2 jobs working 20+ hours a week while being a full time student taking 5, sometimes 6 classes (with upper division classes sprinkled in between while being an underclassman).

I saved every single penny that I could get my hands on, tracking everything that’s in my budget. Every day when I woke up, I knew exactly how much I could spend on that day. Saving money was on my mind every breathing moment that I had.

Saving was one area in which I felt that could be a significant differentiator. There were tons of my classmates getting A’s and tons of my classmates joining organizations and leadership positions, but not a lot of my friends had a lot of money.

Significant Differentiator

I can bet there weren’t a ton of students who had 5 figures in their bank account (I did know a couple whose parents owned oil rigs in the Middle East so they had more than an ample money supply but that’s not who I wanted to compare myself to).

It was fascinating to me how saving brought real-time rewards. A dollar that I save today will be in my bank account tomorrow when I come back to it. I couldn’t believe that. It was something real, tangible, and quantifiable that could separate myself from others. I had this extreme motivating desire to save absolutely anything that I possibly could save on, especially my food budget.

I used to live on a $2 food budget, which I did for a semester. I realized quickly that the lifestyle wasn’t healthy but since Mark Cuban did it to make sure he was successful, I wanted to do it also. It’s the Elon Musk challenge and I can proudly say that I completed it. I won’t be doing that again unless it’s come to the point where I can’t afford to live the next day.

My Journey 

First, I want to say that I am telling you my journey not to brag but to be transparent and to inspire you that if I could do it with little earnings that I had in college, you can do it too while working full time.


Year 1. Freshmen year. Before starting college, I had ~$6,000 in the bank through working minimum wage jobs in high school summers, not buying anything, and saving every birthday money for the past 17 years.

By working two jobs in college, saving everything that I could through any means, scholarships paying for my tuition with a little leftover that was paid out to me, and parents paying for my living situation, I had about $17,500 in the bank at the end of the school year. I also worked during the summer break after visiting my parents in South Korea for a month. Net worth: $17,500

Year 2. Sophomore year. I didn’t manage my expenses as well because I stopped doing the $2 a day challenge and started eating out more. I did get promoted in one of my jobs that lasted in the school year to a supervisor position which came with a nice ~38% pay increase (from $9 an hour to $12.50 an hour!).

I also got a big fat hourly rate ($18 an hour!) at my internship my Sophomore Summer working in corporate finance and when you’re not paying rent, bringing your lunch every day, and increasing earnings, it’s easy to save. Sophomore year net worth, $31,000.

Year 3. Junior year. Junior year is when I vamped my expenses up dramatically. I was stressed out from working so hard the past two years so I figured it was time to treat myself. I ate out twice every day, didn’t buy groceries as much, and spent a marginal amount going out.

I didn’t have the supervisor position anymore. Instead, I got an internship working in corporate finance in my fall and spring semester which paid $15 an hour (which was great for a part-time internship) and my Junior Summer year internship didn’t pay nearly as much as my Sophomore year’s ($16 an hour) but I took it because it’s just an internship and it was in financial services, which was somewhere I wanted to go to. Year 3 net worth, $38,500.

Year 4. Senior Year. I wanted to relax this year, it’s my senior year! I still had a job to make sure that I was self sustaining and able to save a little bit each week. By this time, I knew the ins and outs of how I wanted to spend my budget so budgeting became very simple and easy to adhere to. I saved about $1,500 in the year to bump up my net worth to $40,000.

This has been my savings amount each year in college. A disclaimer is that I don’t remember with 100% accuracy that these were the exact amounts that I had by the end of the year but it’s a great rough estimate.

Also, my college expenses were limited because my scholarships paid for my tuition with a little leftover every year and my housing costs were paid for by my loving parents. If my parents hadn’t paid for my living situation, I would have about $20,000 in the bank (had a one bedroom apartment with a roommate so my share would be $5,000 a year). I at least wanted to come up with the money that it WOULD have taken to pay for my college if I didn’t have those advantages.

Was it Easy?

No. It certainly wasn’t easy and I would say that I got a lot of luck on my side, especially my sophomore summer internship. Classes were over and the recruiter contacted me a week after finals ended to give me the offer. It was my last shot at getting an internship that summer. However, I’m a firm believer that I only need one win for everyone to tell me I got lucky and doing well.

For my junior summer internship, I’ve gotten rejected by anyone that could have rejected me before being scooped me up by the financial services company (I believe I interviewed with 20+ firms). I got a full-time offer from them of $65,000 plus a discretionary performance bonus plus a 2.5k signing bonus which I turned down.

I accepted a lesser-paying job but at a bigger company that I feel has more potential and opportunities than the job I turned down. I won’t know if I made the right decision but I believe I did.

Readers, how is your net worth doing? Is it ticking in the right direction? Let me know in the comments below!

Finance Solver

I grew my net worth to $40,000 as a college student through hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. I graduated college in 2016 and will be starting to plan for my retirement once I start working.I am planning on reaching financial independence by my early 30's and I will document my moments of inspiration all the way to desperation here.

My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!

Read more about me here.

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28 thoughts on “How I Got to a 5 Figure Net Worth in College

  1. Damn that is a very impressive story. You seriously worked your ass off in college for 4 years. Well done! While you may see it as having some luck on your side, you likely wouldn’t have had that luck without putting in the hard work you did. Hopefully you will be able to grow at your current job now not just career wise but personally as well.

    My net worth has been ticking up pretty steadily since starting work, and actually getting ready to post my second update on my blog sometime this week!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks, DE! I’ve had a lot of friends call me cheap for not going out with them but if they wanted to offend me for wanting to realizing my dream, I knew those weren’t the kind of friends I wanted to have.

      I’ve been beginning to realize more that a little bit of luck is essential. The ones who work harder are the ones who get luckier but I know some of my friends who are very lucky and got there without a lot of work but would want to feel like I’m in control of my destiny!

      That’s fantastic, can’t wait to read it!

  2. Hard work pays off, nice work! I’m sure that was a tough choice with your full time job but sounds like you weighed your options closely. It may take a couple years but keep up the hard work and it’ll keep paying off.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks! It really was a tough choice, it was a lot of money that was offered but the company was a little bit smaller than I wanted it to be. Maybe that would have let me be more nimble but who knows? Will do, I gain a lot of utility from working (I guess I’m weird) so hopefully that continues!

  3. Awesome job, sounds like you’ve already gotten the right work ethic to smash all your goals in your life 🙂 And you have that frugal mindset too, you’re going to be pretty unstoppable financially.


    • Finance Solver says:

      I can attribute everything to my parents who’ve pushed me so hard 🙂 I’m trying to position myself to never have to worry about money again because my grandparents lived in absolute poverty and also my parents have sacrificed and not just sacrificed, risked EVERYTHING so that I could have a great future. I can only hope to do my best and forget the rest 🙂

  4. I can’t believe that you were able to add over $10k to your net worth during your freshmen year. That’s awesome! Most kids drop out or freak out from the stress of just school work at that time. I also worked my tail off from age 16-20 to be able to pay for college myself, and made it to almost $30k. It’s amazing what a little bit of saving will do!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you! I remember that I wanted to separate myself from everybody and had absolute laser-like focus to get to where I want to be. In that time, it wasn’t who’s going to let me but who’s going to stop me to get to my goals. I was definitely stressed but I was so busy that I didn’t have time to realize I was stressed, which was kinda funny.
      Man that’s fantastic! Would like to follow your blog to see how you got there, if there’s a post on it 🙂 I’ll try to find it!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story as I was quite curious how you got it done. I wish I would’ve started that early.

    While the 40k is awesome, perhaps the more valuable outcome from all this is building up your discipline. You may not have to live off a $2 food budget anymore, but it’s nice to know you have what it takes to do so if necessary. The values you learned will likely translate into good financial decisions throughout your life!

    What were you 3 minors by the way? I feel lazy for only doing 1 major.

    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem! It definitely took a lot of sacrifice but I am happy with where it got me.

      I agree, a key trait missing in financial independence is the discipline. There’s a lot of social effects that could hold me back at work but I resist the temptation to eat out every day with coworkers. I do it occasionally but I can’t do it every day. Hopefully I never forget the lessons!

      My 3 minors were computer science, accounting, and math! I don’t think you should feel lazy, if I had to do it all over again, I would just double major in finance and computer science. Still grateful for everything that I learned in my diverse classes though!

  6. That doesn’t sound like luck, that sounds like straight up hard work and you should be proud of what you have accomplished! You are setting yourself up for some serious success in life with that work ethic in discipline, there’s no telling what you could achieve!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you, I am very proud of how I got to where I am today! While I do attribute a lot of it to my work ethic, I can’t deny the fact that I got a lot of breaks throughout my college years to get to where I am. A lot of people helped me out along the way and I can’t take all the credit for it.
      Hopefully that I continue acting the lessons I learned in my earlier life!

  7. This is incredible. 🙂 I knew people in college that borrowed an insane amount from financial aid – used a portion for tuition and a portion for “living” expenses. Some didn’t even walk away with a single degree, but still had a mound of debt.

    Luckily I also worked through college and walked away with a very reasonable amount in student loan debt after grad school. But if I would have tracked my income/spending and net worth at the time it would have been a huge motivator to save.

    • Finance Solver says:

      I can’t work with the pressure of having so much debt while going through classes which is why I’ve been blessed to have scholarships paying for my tuition with a little leftover for spending plus my parents paying for my rent. I figured I should at least come up with the money to pay for my tuition if I hadn’t had all the help that I received.
      That is great! I think college is an investment that provides a significant amount of guaranteed ROI if done correctly and one works hard in it. I am sure that you don’t regret going to college! 🙂

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you! Some hard work is hard because you can never be sure whether it will pay off but I liked that saving money shows real-time results so I can always be sure that I got the results that I wanted.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you! One quote that I really like is “the harder I work, the luckier I get” and hopefully that I continue to work hard like I did. I want to make my parents proud so I have a great reason for having the work ethic that I had. Hoping to be more successful today than yesterday!

  8. That’s so nice that you had enough scholarships to cover your entire tuition. I have to believe the number of people who accumulate a 5 figure net worth in college would be a LOT higher if more people didn’t have to go into debt. Unfortunately that seems to be happening less often.

    • Finance Solver says:

      It really was. I worked a lot during my high school years too so I was able to snag a couple of local scholarships as well as university scholarships. I also went to a state school so my tuition wasn’t that high as out of state or other universities that I was eyeing. That is the dream – to not have any debt to pay for a college tuition but it’s unbelievable how fast and high the cost of college has risen. I don’t think the college debt bubble is going to ever pop (at least, not anytime soon) but we shall see. Bachelor degrees are worth so much less these days than before, too!

  9. Wow! Impressive!

    My net worth was MAYBE $3,000 in college after doing summer jobs and stuff. But I was trying to really mess around and have as much fun as possible while keeping Magna Cum Laude b/c I knew the real world would bash me with a hammer!

    And I was right. The real world is tough. College was so much fun!

    Did you enjoy college?

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you! I’ve read your story to your first million, it was inspiring. I’m in the real world right now and haven’t felt the pain but I think I will feel the pain sooner or later!
      Man, I loved college and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. I know a lot of my friends graduated early but I’m glad that I took the entire 4 years to go through it. Learned so much, met so much awesome people, and had a blast while doing it!

  10. Thank you for sharing. Accomplishing what you did during school not only benefits your bank account, I think it really teaches you self-reliance. And this might be even more important. You gain confidence and know that you can handle anything thrown at you.


    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem, wanted to get my story out there in case if anybody would want to know / be at least motivated a little bit. It taught me what my limits were and it taught me that if I ever need to put in the work in order to get to where I want to be, I’ll do it, no matter what. Now the task is me maintaining my net worth and growing it slowly and steadily. I know that I’m up to the task!

    • Thank you! I followed a lot of business leaders to guide me through it. If you have a chance, I recommend Mark Cuban’s book on how to be successful in the sport of business because that book motivated me to get off my butt and make things happen. Watching him on TV and reading about his biography had had a huge impact on me to get to where I am today!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Nice! I couldn’t believe my friends were spending money that they didn’t have.. Well it was mostly their parents money and I was really surprised that they didn’t feel bad or think twice about spending that money. I wanted my parents to keep as much money as they can to themselves cause they’ve already done so much for me.

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