I saved $20,000 in 5 months through sheer luck, not because I had a great strategy

At the beginning of the year, I had over $35,000 of debt and $749.99 in my savings account. Six months later, I have $20,000 in savings — and not because I was frugal or found a great savings strategy.
The reason I have that money is luck: I got a new job with a higher salary and then the coronavirus pandemic provided an opportunity to save thousands by moving back in with my family.
Hard work should be enough to yield rewards, but it’s not — building wealth in this country requires luck, privilege, and generational wealth, and it’s time for that to change.
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On January 1, 2020, I had $749.99 in my savings account while carrying over $11,000 in credit card debt and nearly $25,000 in student loan debt. Five months later, I’ve saved $20,000 on a $55,000 salary.

I would like to say I have some money-saving secret to share, or that there’s some universal insight I discovered about how to generate wealth. But the truth is, I don’t. The reason why I have $20,000 today is because the system is rigged.

I was in debt before I got lucky

My savings story is really more of a debt story and a luck story. It began a couple years ago, when I finished my bachelor’s degree and went straight to graduate school for a PhD.

Doctoral students have their tuition paid for and receive a graduate stipend, which seems like a good deal until you realize that graduate student labor is exploited so that large universities can function.

At many big, state schools, the actual work of educating undergraduate students is farmed out to graduate students, not full-time professors. I received an annual stipend of $17,000 for my labor, and I hovered just above the poverty line. Whenever I had to move for a new job, requiring first and last months’ rent and a security deposit, I accrued more and more credit card debt.

In 2016, I started working at a job that paid $34,000. This was a massive improvement since I was making twice as much as I did before, and I was comfortable, but I still lived paycheck to paycheck. That job required all employees to have a retirement account, so by the time I left my position, I had $8,000 that I didn’t pay attention to. I stopped contributing to the retirement account when it was no longer mandatory and let it collect dust.

I accepted my current position as a visiting professor in 2018 for my highest salary yet of $55,000. But my credit card debt was at its highest levels as well, reaching over $11,000. I felt under water. I was embarrassed and tried to triage, but it felt like no matter how much I paid each month, I still …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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