This article is about people earning so well and how they spend and save their money. It is like a dream to live in a home close to the beach with your dog and have room to play with your ukulele. A 22-year-old person usually thinks of this kind of life after retirement. However, it is the beginning of a 22-year-old Ethan Nguonly. He is a proud member of the FIRE movement, which means he is focused on earning good money and retiring early. It couldn’t be wrong if we say that he started his journey before he was a teenager. When a young boy was only 11 years old, Nguonly was unaware that he wanted to retire early, but at that time, he started to comprehend and value investing. He attributes learning how to invest in stocks and earning better money by sitting at home.
In a statement, he said, My parents explained it to me well; they said, ‘If you leave your money here in a savings account, over time, it’s going to become worthless,’ and they said that you should learn to invest it into something.” At such a young age, he has made brilliant progress towards earning $5 million. He planned to retire by age 35 by investing early and often, working hard to avoid debt in college, and saving money by living with relatives and fellows.
Currently, he is close to $135,000, and he also owns houses in Florida and California. He soon intends to increase the size of his real estate investments. Living in Orange County, Nguonly aims to spend intentionally to put as much money as he can toward real estate investments. The young boy earns around $194,000 a year working for Google, which includes a base salary of $134,000, a 15% annual bonus, on-call compensation of around $10,000 a year, and $30,000 in restricted stock units. The young age enabled him to live comfortably, but he wanted to spend it intelligently. “I try to live as frugally as possible without compromising the quality of my life.”
Investing From An Early Age
Nguonly’s mother suggested a few companies to pick from when he started investing, and she would buy stocks on his behalf. He kept putting money into his brokerage account as he got older from tutoring younger kids. Ngounly says. “When I was younger, the main thing I was thinking about was, ‘All this money keeps getting bigger, keeps growing, and I’m not doing any work for this.” “This exposed me to the idea that my investments could make me money instead of having to work for it actively.”
“When I was younger, the main thing I was thinking about was, ‘All this money keeps getting bigger, keeps growing, and I’m not doing any work for this.’
If we talk about his studies, he completed his computer science degree at the University of California. The COVID-19 pandemic also disrupted Nguonly’s undergraduate experience when lockdowns made him sit at home. “I wish I could experience this period of my life a little bit more.”
“It was worth it as I was able to put my financial goals [first] and get started on a journey towards financial independence; I would make that sacrifice again.”
‘If I Could Get Into Google, My Life Would Be Complete’
Nguonly’s passion for computer science began well before he went to college ″Computer science] had always been a passion of mine, and I was pretty decent at it, too,” he says. “I felt like I was able to do something I enjoyed for work while also being able to make a living out of it. And I feel like I got lucky in that.”
After completing his technical education, Nguonly was hired by the software business Qualtrics. He also began studying for his master’s in information and data science at UC Berkeley.
He continued his aggressive attitude from his undergraduate studies, finishing fast and with little financial strain. Nguonly earned his master’s degree in August 2022 in just a year while maintaining a full-time job. “It’s been a lifelong dream for me to work for Google; I saw that Google has such a massive impact and the company is always doing frontline innovation … If I could get into Google, my life would be complete.”
He got a job there in December 2021 as a software engineer, and with the income he earned from Google, he planned to pay his master’s fee without taking a student loan.
Journey From A Family-Home To A Personal House
Despite earning a good amount to support himself while working at Qualtrics and earning $118,000 in his initial year at Google, Nguonly lived with his family for the first two years after earning his bachelor’s degree. As a result, he could save and invest most of his income. “There are a lot of restrictions — you can’t do whatever you want, you can’t have guests over whenever you want,” Nguonly says. “It’s not necessarily for everyone, but in my case, I was able to make it work, and I’m glad that I did … I don’t think I would have been able to buy my two properties if I had not.”
At the beginning of 2022, Nguonly purchased his first home, an investment property in Riverview, Florida. “I knew that once I had a big mortgage to pay each month, it’d be challenging for me to save at the same rate; I wanted to build up investments before I bought a home to live in.”
After one year of buying his property, Nguonly purchased his primary residence in La Palma, California. The 3-bedroom townhome cost $647,000, and he currently lives there alone with his Samoyed puppy, Sakura. He was pleased and enjoyed owning a new house with a big backyard for Sakura to run.
“I love living in Orange County, where the sunshine never ends, and the beaches are stunning.”
How He Spends His Money
This is how Nguonly spends his money.
- Housing and utilities: He spends around $6,740 between his two mortgage payments, homeowners association fees, internet, electric, gas and water bills
- Debt repayment: $1,000 toward his only outstanding credit card balance from repairing the air conditioning at his rental property. Nearly $10,600 total left to pay off.
- Transportation: $639 for his Tesla payment
- Savings and investments: $442 toward his brokerage account and health savings account
- Insurance: $328 for dental, vision, life, pet and car insurance
- Food: $363, mostly on takeout, plus some groceries
- Subscriptions: $290 on ping pong lessons and Spotify
- Discretionary: $122 on dog food and grooming every couple of months
Nguonly aims to invest more and more in investments and real estate. But currently focusing on paying off his credits and debits. Additionally, he maxed up his 401(k) at the start of the year, utilizing his first three paychecks and a bonus cheque he received in January rather than making monthly contributions. He does this to receive his firm’s 50% contribution match as soon as possible. He pays high electric bills, nearly $20 a month, as he usually charges his Tesla home. Moreover, he only spends a little on food, as Google provides him with breakfast and lunch almost three days a week.
“I refuse to spend money on brand-name clothes and streetwear as I get the appeal for some people, but it doesn’t appeal to me, and I prefer to live by more simplistic and affordable clothes that also serve their purpose well.”
In addition, Nguonly enjoys traveling and almost enjoys three to four trips in a year. “I only travel when I feel the enjoyment I will get from experience significantly outweighs the costs.”
Nguonly’s main objective is to invest 35% of his annual salary, or a significant portion of his income, in investments for the future. He notified me that since purchasing his residences, achieving that goal has gotten more challenging.
His Biggest Money Mistake
As in 2021, Nguonly made his biggest financial mistake by investing in crypto too heavily on margin. It cost him around $80,000 — $30,000 on his initial investment and an estimated $50,000 in unrealized gains over about seven months.
“I was investing with money that I didn’t necessarily have; once the crypto market reversed, my losses were amplified.” Through this, he learned the biggest lesson of his life; therefore, despite investing more, he plans to play safely to protect his assets and focus on long-term growth. “As my net worth and investment portfolio has grown, my risk tolerance has decreased quite a lot,” Nguonly says. “It is harder to make [back] money that you’ve lost than to keep the money that you already have, so I invest fairly cautiously now.”
He aims to achieve $5 million; he plans to continue investing in his retirement accounts and multiplying his real estate portfolio. Though it is challenging to manage a real estate portfolio and rental properties, he thinks it will bring more passive income to him. “Even though I’m successful now, there’s always more for me to shoot for.”
“It talks about how you should spend more money on experiences and travel while you’re still young and healthy. This is why I set out this goal”.
Alas, “I don’t want to be 67 years old trying to climb up some mountain; I’d rather do it while I’m still able to enjoy these experiences fully.”