My Net Worth Grew by 23% – Here’s How..

Introduction: My Net Worth

“I did nothing this week besides make money.” – diary entry from December 19, 2005

I have tracked my net worth since 2010, with a website called Mint (I mentioned it in this 2019 article about investing for beginners). Back then, I was 22 years old with a net worth of around $50k.

I’ve always felt “rich” because I’m good with money. For me, good with money has translated to being Jewish amongst friends.

Even in college when the decision was whether to buy a Subway or split a 30-pack of beer, the $10 was not a quantity of money that was significant to me back then. Back then woulda been something like 2008 when my net worth was probably something like $20,000. That $10 represented 0.05% of my net worth so you can see why it wasn’t an important decision, but it might have been if I had $300 to my name.

Nowadays, my insignificant amount is over $1,000.

Today, after three years of neglect, I’ve remeasured my net worth and am pleased to learn, though initially skeptical, that it grew by 22.7% in that time. Skeptical because I wasn’t actively paying attention to it. The money grew by my default behaviors. And, that’s what I’m going to discuss in this blog.

What behaviors do I believe have allowed me to grow my net worth to more than most of my peers?

I manage 95% of my own money. Some money is tied up in company stock plans. I invest in everything from options and traditional stock buy and hold strategies to cypto to international real estate to fine art and a whole bunch in between.

By the way, if you want to learn my investment strategies, you can read the blog I linked to in the first paragraph or watch a video on my passive investing strategy.

What do I think about car ownership?

Against. When you have a car, you have to maintain that car, which requires a significant amount of time whether that’s pulling into the gas station every other week or going to the mechanic when there’s a funny sound or vibration.

You have more bills (insurance and car payments). You will likely get a ticket occasionally that will need your time. If you get in an accident, regardless of who’s fault, more of your precious time down the drain.

If you drive yourself to wherever you’re going, you then have to find a parking spot which takes time. You also are limited to driving during this time period. You can listen to an audiobook which would be my preference, but if you’re not driving you can read, you can nap, you can do something productive on your cell phone like read this blog.

This summer I’ll go on a family vacation and as I’ll be traveling from Latin America, I’m on my own to get from the airport to the lake house two hours away. What do you think I’ll do? I will try to avoid renting a car with all my might.

Why am I talking about time and not how a car is a depreciating asset like you’d normally hear on this topic? Because money can be created, but time cannot. I have plenty of money to buy ten cars. Sounds like a headache.

One of the reasons I believe I can grow my net worth is because of my ability to keep my time commitments to a bare minimum. I’ve lost a lot of dates this way because I don’t text enough. Time > dates.

How do I survive without a vehicle?

I live in walkable neighborhoods. This is huge! On top of that, if at all possible, I live next to one highly frequented place I visit: grocery store, gym, or cafe.

In fact, when I visit my family in California, I alway leaving thinking that I got nothing done. How’s that possible? Mostly because everything I have to do requires getting in a car, driving at least 30 minutes and sometimes over an hour, both ways, and looking for parking. I spend three hours per day in car. That’s a big, damn waste of my life.

Here’s how a day typically looks in my preferred walkable neighborhood: I will walk to the gym in the morning, then walk to grocery store on my way home to cook lunch. In the afternoon, I may decide to walk to a coffee shop after dropping off my laundry on the way. I could walk to a park to a seamstress, dozens of restaurants, or a friends house.

Car ownership makes this more difficult.

But, if I need a car, I’ll use Uber. In Medellin, I have an eclectic scooter giving me about 2 miles of reachable land in the same time it would take me to walk somewhere closer.

I’m currently in Florianopolis, Brazil and have rented a scooter. My friend wanted to rent a car. Hell no I said. At least with a scooter there is no such thing as traffic and parking becomes much less a headache. But, renting is the way to go. No insurance, no taxes, no registrations, no nothing besides one payment.

Speaking of renting..

What do I think about property ownership?

A giant pain in the ass. But, don’t listen to me. Here’s what Warren Buffet recently made news for..

I purchased The Belmonte Penthouse in 2021 as a short-term rental. It’s probably the #1 most profitable property on the planet with a profit margin of 78%, a yearly ROI of 33% (industry average is 12%), and a team which requires only about an hour of my time weekly to run the operation. And I’d sell it.

I’m a minimalist. This includes my time. I am strict about who gets it. Unfortunately, big daddy government demands and gets a large part of my time, but that’s a topic for another article. Besides, I keep that to a minimum by paying for experts to do as many big daddy government meaningless tasks, one of the real differences between poor versus wealthy people.

Home ownership is a time suck.

My disdain for real estate ownership comes from my time living in Airbnbs since 2017. I’ve spent nearly 3,000 nights in an Airbnb, and now that I’m a property owner, I realized some amazing things.

When you’re renting an Airbnb, it’s more expensive in terms of money, but cheaper in terms of time. Remember from the last section, money can be created, time cannot. I prefer to spend more money if that means saving time.

When renting an Airbnb, I do not have an internet bill, a trash bill, electricity bill, etc. etc. bills, property taxes to pay (another bill), more complicated personal income taxes, constant and costly repairs to do, dealing with the politics of the HOA, and shitty neighbors.

As an Airbnb guest, with one monthly payment (I rent by the month which makes this strategy work), I get to avoid all of the above.

No repairs. No maintenance. No extra bills. No building politics.

Even traditional renting doesn’t make sense for me. I’d still have a bunch of extra bills to pay AND upon moving out, I have to clean up the place as if I’m going to sell it.

I had a friend recently move out of a poorly built apartment last week. Poorly built meaning door handles falling off, etc. Upon moving out, she had to spend days coordinating, and paying for all of these things to be fixed, and then guess what? The property manager kept the majority of her security deposit anyway.

This happened to me in college. The owners, Dan and Gita, tried to keep our security deposit. I sued them and got it back. They tried to charge us for a shoe on the roof and for both cleaning and replacing the carpet. I’m glad I got it back, and they even offered me a job to manage their apartment, but I sure did spend a lot of fucking time doing that, including tracking Dan down in the Santa Barbara mountains to serve him court papers which had to be done in person.

This stuff doesn’t happen on Airbnb. I’m using a little more dough, to be in a nicer apartment, in a nicer (and walkable) neighborhood without any of the problems of renting or owning. I’m saving double or triple that extra value in time.

But, aren’t most millionaires created from real estate? Isn’t it a great investment? With tax benefits?

I believe real estate may no longer be the generically great investment it used to be. A lot of the positive investment value derived from real estate is based on an ever-growing population. Search ‘population pyramid USA’ and you’ll see the population is no longer growing at the rate it was in the past. That will show up via slowed real estate growth within the decade and become more noticeable with each passing year.

population pyramid real estate my net worth tracker advice tools

Now search what the above graphic looked like in the 1950s.

It would have been really hard to not make money from real estate, anywhere in the USA, since the 1950’s.

But that’s really a decade away. My real gripe with owning real estate is the time suck. I have more time than home owners.

And that time allows me to dedicate most of my day to doing things I want to do. What would you do if you had 12 hours daily of your own time?

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What do I do in my free time?

I have a friend who is retired. He’s about my age. I don’t know how he’s retired so young, but I know he doesn’t have a job. He’s been living the past many years in an apartment, doing similar activities, dating a bit, not traveling much. Most of his time is his time. He’s working on some projects, but to me, it seems like he’s living aimlessly. Some hobbies, yes. Some projects, yes. But nothing that he really cares about. Nothing is getting him excited. There are no passions. He recently started traveling a bit, and very recently told me that he’s going to start working again.

Why am I telling you this?

I find that what people do in their free time separates them. What do most people do in their free time? Nothing. Or, Netflix. Or, social media. Or, watching the baseball game. Something that numbs their mind. Consumers. Not producers.

Over the past year, I’ve come to a realization about myself. By default, I’m productive—I think super productive. I’m unsure if I got this genetically from my parents. I got my weightlifting habit genetically from my father, who did it his entire life. He’s the fittest 70+ man I know, and all four of his children lifted weights for a large portion of their lives, including one as a professional bodybuilder.

An example..

In high school, I wasn’t popular besides with my Palm Pilot (an early version of a Blackberry or iPhone). I used it to read books. I remember being on my twin mattress in the bottom bunk on weekend nights reading. Also, I also started buying and reselling them on eBay, an early source of income. On the weekends, I would drive around on the weekends to garage sales, buying used CDs and reselling them to music shops like Tower Records. Once, I made $300 in a single sale. I learned how to play online poker, playing in hundreds of tournaments, another early source of revenue for me.

These are all active, production-based activities. I was not watching TV all day long and sleeping in until 1pm.

I do watch TV, though. More likely, YouTube or Netflix and I prefer documentaries, even on a date.

Similar to the concept of compounding interest, I believe there is a compounding effect over time of gaining extra bits of knowledge. One piece of knowledge or skill plus a second might equal two. But hundreds start to compound via the bonus connections formed in revealing how it all relates to each other allowing you to better understand the world and more accurately predict the future.

The most successful people on the planet are the best predictors. Whether that’s buying real estate in a current, but future hot market, investing in a stock with an upwards trajectory that few see, or selling an product with infinite demand. Those who predict right, more often, are more successful.

The most successful people on the planet are the best predictors. Share on X

My greatest prediction to date was also the one that netted me the biggest gain to my net worth and that was going to work at Airbnb.

I heard about Airbnb in 2012 when people thought it was a terrible, even dangerous idea to have people sleep in your home. I saw a much different future.

Ok, so you’re being wise with your time, but what about being wise with your money? Do you know what to do with your cash? How would you feel, assuming you are financially reasonable, if you were given $1 million.

More than anything I consider myself an investor – an opportunistic investor. Warren Buffets main investing rule is to not lose money. A great rule, indeed, but easier said than done especially when you have extra cash that you feel you need to invest.

So what do I do with that extra cash to limit my risk while waiting for opportune times to make a high ROI investment?

Minimalism – My Hidden Net Worth Hack

Pre-2017, I was normal. I had various pairs of shoes, most of which I didn’t wear. Numerous pairs of jeans and other clothes I’d mostly forgotten about. I had things stuffed below my bed and in every drawer. You know, just in case I need it at some point in the future.

That same year, I took a 3-month solo trip to Australia to test out the digital nomad lifestyle. Long story short, I sold all my shit, left the USA, and haven’t looked back. (If you want to read more of that story, click here).

I’m not sure if I realized it at the time. Or, maybe I did. Maybe I watched that popular Minimalist movie during my time in Australia. I can’t remember. Anyway, I became a minimalist and still am today. I will admit that I have three boxes of stuff at my parents’ house – one is Airbnb memorabilia, one is my physical books, and one is cold-weather gear -, but my belongings fit into a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

How’s this relate to increasing my net worth?

Because I can’t buy shit that I don’t need. It goes against my identity.

I used to have a dozen glasses and sunglasses. Now, I have one of each.

I used to have 7 watches. Now, I have one.

And, so on.

I was thinking of buying a motorcycle in Colombia last year. It would have cost something like $30-$50k. I have the money to, but ultimately, decided not to.

I don’t really need a motorcycle.

I also think buying a drone would be super cool and could help me with my YouTube. Again, I decided not to.

When I worked at Airbnb, I was buying stuff online all the time. Stuff that I really didn’t need, but wanted. I don’t do that anymore.

Sometimes, I see Twitter advice on saving money: Buy less Starbucks! That’s dumb advice. While I prefer to focus on earning more rather than spending less for financial freedom, being a minimalist has led me to significant savings over the past years.

In summary: Become a minimalist.

What do I do with my idle cash?

Very few invest. I’m not talking about your friend on social media who pretends to be a successful day trader when the markets are up. They’re not investors. They are opportunistic affiliate marketers.

Over the years I’ve asked people in the USA and abroad, what kind of investments they have. The conversation doesn’t move forward. They might have bitcoin or dogecoin. They might invest in their employer’s 401(k), but that’s it.

Since 2004, when I opened three bank accounts, I have been investing consistently. I started putting a few hundred dollars into Certificates of Deposit. I knew that idle cash could make more cash, and passively.

In 2009, I made my first stock investment.

I’ve also invested with higher-risk, higher-return strategies and if you’d like me to address this topic via video or blog, please tell me in the comment. Right now, I only want to talk about idle cash, which should always go into near risk-free investments.

Recently I sold half of my Netflix stock. In 2022, I invested $35,000 when their stock price plummeted to $180 from $600+. That half is $50,000. I have no immediate use for that money, but I also know that I cannot have it sit in my bank account.

I knew I could get something like 5% in a nearly risk-free investing strategy, but I didn’t want to commit my money to anything fixed-term like a CD so I started looking into options.

Via a smart friend, I found ULST. They pay out around 5.5% monthly dividends. But the stock price doesn’t move much. Year-to-date, it’s down a single penny. Yes, $0.01. That means I can take my monthly dividend, around $500, and sell whenever I find a better opportunity and not have to worry about short-term capital gains (selling a stock less than one year after buying it).

I do have some idle cash in my accounts, but the vast majority of idle cash (80%+) must always be earning passive income.

You are reading about my net worth and the behaviors that allow me to passively grow it.

What do I do at night?

Nothing. My day is typically over around 6pm. I don’t party unless there’s a really good reason. And there are really good reasons. But I keep partying to a minimum because it’s not enjoyable.

Over the years, I’ve tried to force myself to party a bit even if that means going to a club in a new city by myself. But I always come away disappointed. Staying up until late at night, drinking, talking solely about totally useless things to uninteresting people who don’t invest, who don’t exercise, who have a boring job, who have no hobbies or passions, who aren’t expert at anything, this is not a good use of time.

I never meet anyone awesome, whether that be a girl I want to date or a dude I see myself being friends with.

But if I go out and party, even if I don’t drink, then I don’t get good sleep, which cuts my next day’s productivity in half. I wake up later, less well-rested, and my diet is thrown off. If I go to the gym, I don’t have a solid workout. Imagine doing that two times or more every single week.

Recently, I dated a girl who was more of a partier than me. She is really, really attractive with abs and a nice smile, smooth skin and hair. Physically A+. But…she does like to stay up late. I can do that for a night or two. I can keep up with the partiers, I don’t want to.

Ok, so we stayed up past midnight. The next day was mostly normal and I started having thoughts like how’s this girl doing this? She’s not only enjoying herself in the evening, but also making good use of her day. Maybe it’s because she’s young, I thought..

Then we stayed up past midnight the next night. What happens next? Well, she slept in really late. I still got up roughly the regular time, just less well rested. She also used the entire day to recuperate. She lounged around in pajamas and watched music videos, played on her cell phone, and was ready to leave the house at 4:30pm.

I didn’t go to the gym, but I did read, I learned some Spanish, I made some investments, and I worked on the business. It was an interesting perspective into the life of a partier because I guess my assumption was that these parties are kind of superhuman, especially when they’re young. They can party all night and then enjoy the day, too. And they do that sometimes. But there always comes the crash where they waste an entire day or more just so they can stay up late to party.

So don’t tell me to just live a little. I’m living plenty. More than most. I live during the day and sleep at night. Partying is not conducive to a successful life.

We’re all aware of the compounding effect (over time, small changes add up to a big difference). This applies not only to money but also to your skills, knowledge, and abilities, which have economic value.

Over the past two decades, I have been productive. I have been learning a little here and there, but always consistently. And I’ve had more productive time to do this.

I mentioned I wasn’t popular in high school which, looking back on it now, gave me a ton of extra time because in high school, you have few time demands imposed by big daddy government. But even after college, while I’m not partying and not going on dates, I use most of this time wisely by default.

This website was birthed in 2019, three years after I started my online business which was earning money with only a few hours work daily.

This habit of not going out at night, I believe, has contributed to a significant difference in my net worth between myself and my peers.

My Net Worth Concluding Thoughts

I’m not sure if I was born with these behaviors or if my environment (e.g., not being popular in higher school forced me to read in the pre-internet age) slowly melded me this way, and neither does it matter to you. The goal of this blog is to acquire a behavior that will set you up for success.

It’s much better to make corrective action to the root cause (ie behaviors) rather than addressing the symptom.

Don’t focus on the “symptom”. In this case, a high net worth.

my net worth compounding principle
The blue are green curves are the difference between saving and investing.

What is more likely,

  1. playing the lottery every day for twenty years and winning $150k+
  2. investing (not simply saving) $250 monthly for twenty years and having over $150,000

Scenario two is virtually guaranteed by the laws of compounding interest while scenario one, whether you play once or every day for twenty years in a row, has the exact same probability, which is nearly zero.

I hope this blog have given you a new perspective on how behaviors directly tie to money. I’ll leave you with some tools you can use to track your net worth since the tool I used above, Mint, no longer operates.

I know of two net worth tracking tools:

  1. Credit Karma
  2. Empower Personal Wealth (formerly, Personal Capital)

Thanks for tuning in to my net worth insights and advice. I hope you’re able to increase yours! See you in the comments..

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