I'm near 30 and feel like a total financial failure. How do I turn my finances around?

I feel like I will never be able to retire, raise a family, etc. Is there any way to get out of the hole I've dug? Ugly details are below:


age: 29

Net worth: around $200K (including equity in my home)

Credit Score: 750-800

Income: ~$150K

My net worth is pathetic. Tons of people my age have net worth above $500K-$1mm. I had a series of bad jobs in my 20s and this has led me to my current problem. I also am extremely bad at negotiating and below are some of the terrible deals I've made (I get nervous and am not aggressive enough):


  1. Car - bought at a little less than invoice
  2. Furniture - 25% off retail price
  3. Home appliances - bought at around 15% off retail price

Is there a way to get my life back on track? My income will likely go up to around $250K in 5 years but with inflation that's still super low for someone that's 35. To give a comparison, I know 20 people around 45 that have net worth's in excess of $30 million (i'll admit in a wealthy area but I still feel like a total loser).

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      • SapphireSweetie
      • Changing my financial future!
      • Sapphiresweetie
      • 8 mths ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I'm wondering the same? either that or OP is dramatic AF. I am 36 with a negative net worth and have been digging myself out of a hole for the past 3 years and don't feel like this. 

      Like 6
  • Sky Blue Pegasus said:

     Tons of people my age have

    Work on not caring about this -  (Some life advice from someone 2 decades older that still hasn't mastered this).

    Sky Blue Pegasus said:

    Sky Blue Pegasus said:
    I feel like I will never be able to retire,

     I find that the FIRE movement has created this anxiety in people your age.  With the power of compounding, as long as you are out of debt and putting money aside for retirement (whatever small amount you can), you will be fine. You have 20 - 35 years to build this up.

    Sky Blue Pegasus said:
    Is there a way to get my life back on track?

     Your life is on perfect track!  You didn't mention if you have debt in that net worth figure so if you do then pay that off ASAP. And you have a home!!! There are millions and millions of people your age that can't ever imagine owning a home.  

    Like 3
  • The math is simple. Spend less than you make. The bigger the difference, the more you can save. Avoid debt. If you start using YNAB now and get serious about it, you won't have any issues.

    Here's a link to nice flowchart of where to prioritize your finances to get ahead:


    Like 2
  • You're doing amazing!! I'm in my 40's and only getting my life on track & paying off debt. Don't compare yourself to others. You have such a high income & just watch the lifestyle creep, especially if you live in an expensive area. Take some deep breaths & express gratitude. You are the exception and not the norm. I don't know who you are comparing yourself to but most people in your age are in low paying jobs, with high student loans, consumer debt, and no house. :)

    Like 2
  • Are you stating these numbers in US dollars? I'll assume you are for purposes of this post, since the credit score reference sounds US-based.

    Let's start with WOW. You are 29 and have a great income and net worth, so you must be doing a lot right. Unless you are Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, or a small number of multi-billionaires, there will always be plenty of people who are richer than you are. Don't allow this to diminish your accomplishments and obscure how well you are doing.

    I'm going to take a wild guess here, recognizing that I could be wrong: Are you working in big tech, and live in an area (such as San Francisco Bay area) where nearly your entire circle is working in big tech? That can be a small, self-segregating bubble where it's easy to lose perspective. Try to snap out of it and think of this: how much are young teachers earning in your area? How about accountants? How about firefighters? Dental hygienists? Let alone people working in the service industry... My point is that most people around your age earn far less than you do. At 29, they are likely to have student loans, credit card debt, and a net worth that is much lower than yours. Even negative net worth at that age is not uncommon! So, give yourself some credit and take a step back: It appears you're doing pretty well, and there's nothing "pathetic" about it.

    But, that doesn't mean you can't continue to improve your financial situation. Are you actively saving money each month? Maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement accounts?  I suggest using a compound interest calculator and seeing, at your rate of savings, how much money you will have in 5, 10, 15, 20+ years. You might be surprised at how much savings add up with the passing of time.

    Like 3
      • SapphireSweetie
      • Changing my financial future!
      • Sapphiresweetie
      • 8 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Pilot This! So much perspective in this post! OP has a lot to be thankful for, especially in this pandemic!

      Like 2
  • I'll bite.

    I'm 32. I found YNAB at 28. My husband and I together earn less than half of what you earn alone. We have two children (both born pre-YNAB). In 2016, at 28, I had about $30k in student loan debt and more than $6k left on a car loan. We had less than $5k in cash. Four years later, our income has gone up, but not nearly doubled as you expect yours to. Despite that, we paid off our non-mortgage debt (moving helped, but still) and now have 6x as much cash on hand as we did four years ago. YNAB is a great method of thinking through your finances no matter where your situation is. And your situation? Pretty dang good.

    What you need to do to stay on track is let go of keeping up with the Joneses, find what makes you happy, set aside money for retirement (are you maxing out a 401k and an IRA every year? You have plenty of funds to do this with), and let go of keeping up with the Joneses (did I say that already?? It's important).

    Like 7
  • First, unless you have seen all of the other people's actual financial statements, you do not know if they actually have that amount of net worth. Many people, including those with high incomes, are leveraged to the hilt and if they lost their jobs, they would be in serious trouble. So, without knowing the actual intimate financial details of others, you are wasting time comparing yourself to others. As you state, you live in a wealthy area so it is easy to get sucked into the incorrect conclusions about your level of success or failure. And everyone has different goals so you could be doing fantastic for yourself.

    Have you done any research on median and top 10 earning categories? I think that you would be surprised to see how you compare. Just a quick search brought me to this excellent wikipedia article that may help give you some perspective. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluence_in_the_United_States#Income_vs._wealth

    Like 1
  • What percentage of your gross income are you currently saving toward retirement? Do you have consumer debt (credit cards, car loans, etc.)? It sounds like you're at a good starting point to get serious about what you want from your 30's and beyond.

    Here's what I would recommend.

    1. Make some new friends. Look for artists, teachers, professors, basically anyone who is living happily on half or a quarter of your income. It will be much easier to keep your spending flat, as your income rises, if you aren't surrounded by people who spend more than you do.
    2. Decide what your priorities are, and work on funding them. It sounds like you want to have kids and not work until you're 80. That's very achievable. Start figuring out what your ideal life with kids and in retirement looks like, what kind of income you'll need to support that standard of living, etc., and build up your savings to match it. Your income is rising, so this should not be very hard, as long as you don't let your lifestyle creep upward.
    3. Stop paying attention to what other people say they have. Most people who actually have a lot of wealth don't go around talking numbers with acquaintances, let alone with their close friends. That's because (1) it's tacky, (2) they don't want to be a target for lawsuits or scammers, and (3) it's personal. You know the old Texas saying, "Big hat, no cattle"? That's probably the case for most of those 20 gazillionaires you think you know. :) 
    Like 2
  • I'm not sure how serious the OP was. They haven't been back since and this was their one and only post on the site. I'm starting to think this was a spectator sport for them to see how people responded. Or, maybe they'll come back and tell everybody their "secret" via a special web link for a limited time only.

    Like 10
      • xgirlmama
      • Purple_Griffin
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone this. I smell a troll. If s/he's 29 and "only makes $150k," I am an utter and total failure. 

  • This post belongs on Blind.  TC or GTFO.

  • Yes I smell a rat...despite all our realistic advice. For the rest of the wise folks on here, my accountant said to me: It's not how much you earn, it's how much you keep!! Definitely live within your means, pay off debt, and invest the rest. Those compounding calculators are very inspiring!! Even investing $100/month can make your money grow!! :)

    Like 2
  • Actually as for me you have pretty good income. In my opinion there are always someone in a better position and someone in a worse. That is why if i were you i would look only on my own goals and not look upon others lives.
    Some people live with less money and are able to save. So it's question of your expenses and ways to make more. Just belive in yourself.

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