By Victor Ochieng
There are these high school sweethearts who are doing something that many people find difficult to accomplish. The two are saving close to $100,000 a year so they can retire early. They’re targeting $1 million in savings over a period of eight years.
According to a 2016 Bankrate research, millennials (those aged between 18 and 29) save more than 5% of their income, with the money going towards emergency funds and retirement accounts.
That’s quite encouraging. However, Alicia and Nelson White, both 27, are still ahead of many of their peers. They’re saving $93,901 annually and are doing so seven years after Alicia’s December 2009 college graduation. White on the other hand is yet to earn his college degree.
The two were born and raised in Arlington, Texas. They met at the age of 15.
Alicia graduated from University of North Texas, earning her degree within a span of three and a half years, owing to her AP credits and full summer course loads. White is set to graduate this fall, coming within three years of joining college. He joined the U.S. Navy in May 2009 and the two lovebirds got married in June 2010.
Alicia said she got interested in aggressive saving after taking a look at her student loans.
“With a 25-year repayment plan on my student loans, I knew that being attached to a $400+ monthly payment on top of a mortgage would only add to and prolong my daily stress,” she says.
She strengthened her money management skills by following finance blogs. She embarked on repaying her largest loan first in order to avoid the huge interest it was accruing. Alicia also had to find a way to raise her income. This forced her to leave the company she’d been working for since her college years.
“Fueled by the desire to pay off my debt, I left my company after six years for a 15% increase in salary, worked my butt off for the next two years to gain an additional 29% increase through above average merit increases and promotions for that company,” says Alicia.
Alicia graduated with a degree in criminal justice and later followed business courses. She also completed CPCU, a pursuit whose full costs were covered by her employer.
“I learned I had a natural affinity for analysis, critical thinking, and problem resolution. I also began to ask managers for greater responsibility outside of my comfort zone, such as building dashboards, spreadsheets, learning as I went sometimes. This work ethic began to lead to recognition from senior leadership and promotion opportunities offered,” says Alicia.
To ensure that she gets that extra cash, Alicia has always worked overtime. As from February, she’s been pursuing a master’s degree and working full time.
On White’s end, he’s lucky not to be incurring any student debts since he’s serving in the military. He opened a used car lot, White’s Auto Sales, LLC, in 2015 as a way to put his hustle in order. Besides his military and car lot income, he also undertook a barber school course, which also complements his income.
Their monthly budget reads: $1,102.29 on mortgage, $634 on car, $525.60 on utilities, $400 on allowance, $300 on unforeseen expenses, $235 on groceries, $235 on entertainment and $5,649.05 on student loan payments.