How My Husband Became Rich Young (Hint: Luck)

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My husband is a special guy. He is currently 29 years old and has $950,000 in total net worth. Hmm, OK, we’re not that deluded. $50K shy of a $1,000,000 doesn’t make us Rockefellers but I still think it’s a fascinating journey. We started discussing how we got to this position over lunch today and it seems things tend to work out for him more than you would think. He was able to get rich despite the fact that either of us knew what we were doing half the time. Thank youuuuu Universe.

Related: When We Finally Hit $1,000,000 For Reals

He’s a semi-functioning person. Hubby’s not very good at conversations or eye contact. He’s very bashful. He is terrible under pressure and he cries easily. He cried during Lion King, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and once a Disney movie with Zac Efron in it! In addition to that and some other things, he also walks funny. It’s a leg length discrepancy. He is 6 foot tall on one side of his body and 5 foot 11 ¾ on his other side.

God made my Hippo1 a little lopsided. 🙂

I told my mom in Chinese that he walks slightly lopsided so she wouldn’t be surprised when she sees him. Months later, when my mom finally met him in person, the first thing she said to him [in Chinese] was:

Where is your wheelchair? My daughter said your legs didn’t work.

Apparently, my Chinese translation isn’t very good…bawawahahahaha.2

I love my guy. He is very boyish. He likes to sings and he likes to dance, randomly. Just like me. He has heaps of other good qualities but for the narration of this post, I won’t mention it just yet because the list would be far, far too long.

Once upon a time…

baby-with-blonde-hair-baptism
His baptism — and yes HE WAS BORN WITH A LOTTT OF HAIR.

When Baby Jared was in his mom’s tummy, he had too much fun doing back flips in there. He tied a knot in his own umbilical cord which cut off his nutritional supply. He was a small, underdeveloped baby. It happens in 1 out of 2,000 deliveries. The doctors approximated damage to be more observant later on. They said he would only grow to be 5’4 in adulthood whereas the rest of his siblings ranged from 5 foot 11 and to 6 foot 3.

That’s not all for the little angel. When Hubby was an infant, he contracted bacteria meningitis, a bad case of it. Had they delayed discovery or hospitalization any later, it would have done further damage to his spinal cord and brain region.

Baby Jared, all hooked up to the IV.

He was hospitalized for a very long time. Hubby taught himself how to walk and run using the IV monitor. He spent his first and second years inside San Francisco’s Children Hospital. The doctors gave a very depressing prognosis on his survival rate initially. Thank goodness he DID survive!!! Although not without scaring his mother off having children forever.

Had he been the first born, I would have stopped having children. – Mom

My husband was the last of the 4 children. From there, you have the typical childhood bumps and scrapes like rocks up the nose, flips off the bike, catapulted from a skateboard, getting kicked in the face by a big brother, fractured leg…arm…ribs.

Typical rough and tumble boy things. 

Dumb Luck = Survival + Family 

As Hubby entered university, he got a full ride with the Bank of Dad. He had a breezy time at UC Berkeley as an engineering major. He only drove home on the weekends so mom could do his laundry. Typical boy!

He was immediately picked up as an intern at Amazon in his junior year. Back then, Amazon’s stock price was hitting around $98 a piece.

He went to work for Amazon because when he went to interview at another tech company, he got lost in the building and was too shy to ask for help.

He decided he didn’t want to “shop around” anymore and just went with what he knew: Amazon. He was promptly hired at Amazon full-time with barely a put together resume.

For any new graduate, 2010 would have been a very tough year to start adulthood. Everything was in the toilet at the time. Jared was given a fat sign-up bonus, a great compensation package and a lot of stock at Amazon (vested if he stayed for 2 years). Most graduates don’t stay at Amazon for more than a year because Amazon’s not considered the best place to work.

He didn’t like working at Amazon either but he stuck around with what was familiar. For the next 6 years, he allowed his Amazon stock to rise, fall and stall. Not because he was an investment genius or he had faith that Amazon would become our overlords today but because he forgot/didn’t care that he had them.

He forgot he had half a million dollars.

Hubby didn’t know a lick about investing and he didn’t care to find out.

jared-the-frugal-gene
College years (:

He went to work, went for a beer at the pub with his friends and went home. His rent was dirt cheap because he was too lazy to move. He didn’t know how to cook so he mainly ate pasta, eggs and zucchini for all of his meals at home. This made his grocery bills very inexpensive and shockingly simple. He’s just a simple happy-go-lucky guy. Netflix is cheap, video games are fun, he didn’t drive/travel/do anything that would involve leaving the house. His work lunch and beer with the guys were the only expenses beyond the essentials like zucchini and shampoo.

When I came along, Amazon stock was in the 600s I believe. I didn’t think much of it either honestly. We weren’t married, we were just dating. I didn’t push it at the time. I honestly didn’t think much of it because I didn’t know how stocks worked either. He apparently had around 500-600 shares of Amazon.3 He also saved 80% of his net salary by living a simple, quiet life. He wasn’t aiming for FIRE or had even the slightest clue about personal finance.

Anyway, Hubby’s lucky I’m not a carnivorous gold digger.

He was so pure and innocent. Do you know how easily I could have blown all his money on Chanel bags and Cartier watches?

One of our friends wanted to pre-order a Chanel sheepskin flap bag so she took me into a Chanel store with her. She then asked me if I wanted anything reserved since “Jared could just buy it, riiiight Jared?”

*Cue him standing around looking at the shiny bags on display and then gently smiling at me.*

I could have done anything with him at the time and he would have still liked me – that dumb, sweet, sweet man.

Obviously, I said no.

I remember the look on the 2 beautiful store ladies’ face. They looked…so perplexed? It’s like they never heard a woman say no to a Chanel bag.

P.S. I had a hard time telling if the Chanel associates were models or really just counter clerks. They were like paintings! The fact that they’re working at a Chanel counter probably means they have to be doll-like beautiful, huh?! 😍

Dumb Luck = Wealth + Decent Girl 

They Lived Happily Ever…Sorta.

I came into the marriage with about $22,000 in my bank after working two jobs for two years out of college. Not bad for my age and being 100% debt free too! Well, he came into the marriage with about 35 times that and blew me out of the water.

When our finances were combined, I started becoming more focused on the topic of investing/frugality after reading Financial Samurai and Mr. Money Mustache. I came from a Chinese fishing village and raised in a Chinatown-poor family so learning about money was like re-learning the alphabet. I had to start from scratch with the most basic principles.

After I read a few books from Bogle (borrowed from the library like a good frugal person) I asked him,

“Hey honey…how much of your portfolio is in Amazon?”

“I don’t have a portfolio…”

“Oh…the book says you have to invest and diversify…”

“Umm, I don’t invest…and that sounds complicated.”

I fought and tantrum with Jared for two days and then a stalemate of another week because I wanted him to start investing his large 6 figure stash of cash.

He was very adamant.

It was the biggest fight we’ve ever had to date. It was ridiculous!!

He was afraid of everything. I had to fight him to start fully contributing to his 401k too, although that took much less time for me to win. I was sure investing in Vanguard was the right move for his money.

He said no and wanted to keep all of his money in his credit union savings account. We delayed the decision to invest even longer due to our stalemate. The market started to dip and I gave one last speech and he finally folded.

It was because of that delay that we were able to throw our money during the 10% market dip. It looked like things were heading for the toilet before the markets bounced back up again. That dip has probably made us $75K dollars more than if we had invested even a week or two earlier.

We weren’t timing the market. Just dumb luck on Jared’s part to fight tooth and nail with me over investing money in mutual funds…whoo, that was an intense week!

He admits now that it was stupidity and fear that made him fight with me so hard. He has trouble with new things and anything that requires action or risk.

We finally dispersed the near 100% allocation of Amazon out to other means. Our Vanguard looks a bit complicated, at the time I manually searched for small, mid and large caps even though most of the time you really only need 2 or 3 funds.

The next fight was about our house and Airbnbs. We also locked in our low-interest rate for our house during a similar interest rate dip too! Anytime something new happens, Jared likes to be on the defensive with any change and it somehow makes the timing perfect. He has a bias against action and change…or he’s psychic.

I had to throw tantrums of massive proportions for what most people consider two of the biggest wealth building secrets. But the universe still agrees with him more than me.

Dumb Luck = Well Timed Ignorance 

Working at Amazon has always been stressful. Amazon is a very frugal company. There’s no budget for decor, lunch and their benefits used to be on the lower end until they bumped it up recently.

The decor theme for hubby’s building was…Amazon warehouse.

EPIC FACEPALM. It looked like a prison.

How does anyone think making an Amazon office into an Amazon warehouse is a good DECOR idea?

Eventually, he made the jump after years of saying he would. I nudged him on that as well.

He only received such a strong offer from “Ooooogle” because this other tech company wanted Cloud talent badly.

His ex-manager and friend back at Amazon was one of his interviewers. One of the other interviewers had a run-in with hubby too. They were both in the lobby getting coffee on the day of the interview. Something happened to the coffee machine and it made a mess everywhere when the interviewer was using it. He was trying to clean up the mess in a hurry, Jared offered to clean up for him so he could run to his next appointment. The guy finds out later – he was interviewing Jared!

Talk about good first impressions. Talk about dumb luck!

Oooogle gave a horribly low-ball offer in the beginning4 but once they saw that the other company was not low-balling him – they immediately bumped and matched hubby’s plan. From that it was deciding the future prospect of the company and of upper management. He is now working for Oooooogle.

Dumb Luck = Work 

Oh, oh it was by dumb luck that hubby and I met too but I’ll leave that story for another time.

Related: The Influential People of My Life (Past & Present)

If anyone (besides myself) accuses me of being mean to my husband, you should see what I’m willing to do to protect him! 😛

 

How Dumb Luck Made My Husband a Rich Man

 

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  1. *That’s my nickname for him in real life. Mr. Hippo was the name he used when I met him. This personal finance blog was very, very close to being called HippoFinance.com at one time.
  2. We started working on his walking and he’s walking like normal now! It was just training the right muscles.
  3. *We sold a majority of the shares in 2015-16.
  4. From what I’ve seen: Ooooogle always low-balls. Get a competing offer on your table and they’ll totally play ball.


89 thoughts on “How My Husband Became Rich Young (Hint: Luck)”

  • Oh my gosh what a great story. Sounds like you and Jared were made for each other. Shows what a good guy Jared was that he offered to clean up the coffee. Congrats on your almost $1M in net worth. Very cool, and it sounds like it definitely took some hard work on Jared’s part (staying with Amazon for six years, living on zucchini) even if he didn’t mean for it to! 🙂
    [email protected] recently posted…September Net Worth Update

  • Hey Lily,

    You really know how to tell a story.

    Your husband sounds really lucky and nice too, somehow just like my husband.

    He could have decided to use his time to prep for the interview, but instead chose help that person! Not too many people can do that.

  • What an awesome story! You and Jared sound like a great couple with more than just dumb luck (haha- I think there is a bit of brains at play here… 😉 )

    I like hearing these stories. I have been intrigued by the high net worth and this puts a lot of the pieces in place. Jared’s hard work and savings plus your hard work, ambition and nudging towards investing/AirBNB income is a great combo!
    Mrs. Adventure Rich recently posted…Buzzing In Our Earbuds: Our Favorite Podcasts- Part 4

    • I didn’t think our story was anything unique, probably since we went through it. It really was just well timed ignorance. For those who are crossing the two comma club by working hard, they deserve the congratuations more than we do. I wanted to get this out before we hit that million officially to explain it…was…all….an accident (:

  • This was such a sweet story! “That dumb, sweet, sweet man” lolol, sometimes I feel like this is Mr. NA. He always has good intentions but sometimes I scratch my head, roll my eyes, exhale dramatically and say, “Seriously?” I’m a hardcore “nudger” too- Mr. NA has relented and and says that I’m a “catalyst of positive change in his life.” What he means is that I will relentlessly nudge him in the right direction even if said plan is scary because it’s unfamiliar.

    I don’t blame Jared for leaving- his work environment at Amazon sounds rather depressing. Who wants to work in such a place? Kind of impressed he stuck it out all those years.

  • It sounds like all the stars aligned for your story, and I’m glad that they did 🙂

    It’s so easy for one small detail to change, and your entire life follows suit. For example, I had a job offer at Amazon, and I was really considering taking it. Depending on where I worked, we might know each other IRL instead of being across the country.

  • Wow, it sounds like Jared has had an interesting life! And is such a good guy. You say a lot of dumb luck was involved, but in a way, I think you guys finding each other and your financial success are your just deserts for being awesome people.

  • I LOVED this post! This IS a story! A very interesting one indeed.

    I’m not a big fan of Chanel bags either. Although we could afford to buy Chanel stuff now, I just don’t see the point. It’s a BAG to carry stuff. I got a bag from Amazon for $50 and have been using it for almost a year. It’s durable, big, and light. Some of my colleagues even asked me where I got it from and said it looked nice. I rather put that money towards our mortgage or retirement accounts instead. If someone likes me more because I have a Chanel bag, then maybe we shouldn’t be friends in the first place.

    Jared is indeed a lucky guy you agreed to marry him! 😉 I think his luck comes from the fact that he works hard and is a very good person to begin with. I think you guys made a perfect couple! <3
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…The Pros & Cons Of Living With In-laws

  • This is so freakin sweet!! I can tell how much you love your husband! Many of the best and most successful are people that live like that, frugally, without caring about the money. And boy is he blessed that you were the woman that came along, and not the aforementioned gold digging type! 🙂

  • This is such an awesome story. LOL at having half a mill and not even realizing it…that’s amazing. I didn’t realize Amazon was so frugal (cheap) as you said. Interesting.

    That’s how I was with my employee stock purchase plan at one of my last companies. It wasn’t that significant of an amount, but I’d been slowly socking away a percentage of my income toward company stock for 6 years, and the stock price had gone up. That stock paid for our entire wedding, paid for our down payment on our new house, and is paying for more things still. I just sold some today, in fact! That’ll be used for furniture, etc.

    I have more stock that was granted to me that I can’t sell yet – that’ll come in March and at that point we’ll fully fund both Roth IRA’s.

    Using most of the money to ‘spend’ on stuff isn’t necessarily what I wanted, but it was a great way to avoid debt in a very expensive time in our lives. 🙂 I’ll take it.
    Dave @ Married with Money recently posted…Credit Score Primer

    • Yup. That was me being a bimbo. I accidentally paused the MailChimp campaign….for 1.5 months. I’m so sorry!! Thank you for telling me, Luxe told me too but…my ears are busted. Sorry sorry 😖

  • What a great story! Certainly hit the jackpot working at Amazon and then getting bid way by Google who has endless amounts of money to pay!

    And of course, it is great luck that you met him. Do you have a link to your story similar to his?

    Sam

  • Hehh, Jared reminds me a lot about myself, other than the great job in tech. I’ve got a great job in the arts and while it pays well for now, we’ll see where that goes 😛 He seems really sweet though! I just wanna give him a squishy hug.

    • Yes and by my math, he would be even better off because Amazon’s been beating all other investment and asset classes…whoppsie daisies 😭😭 I’m a terrible gold digger!!!

  • Lily, thanks for having the courage and willingness to share this story. The storytelling was just phenomenal! Anywho, not sure if you agree or not but for some reason I tend not to believe in luck (maybe a little bit on poker 😀), instead I think deep down individuals develop skill sets driven by experiences in life. I obviously don’t know Jared but it seems he’s actually made sound decisions every step of the way. The Google gig happened to him not because he was lucky but because I think core values were there and once those are set they tend to pay off. Anyways, very much enjoyed the story and look forward to reading others you may share in the future.
    A Journey to FI recently posted…My Financial Money Map

    • Thank you (: I’ve thought about it that way too! Jared is a good person in the purest form. He’s still human but deep down, he’s golden. I feel soooo protective of him because of that.

  • Aww…such a sweet story. It’s wonderful to hear that things have turned out so well for Jared given his tough early years. Obviously he’s lucky in many more ways than just money.

    • Hahaha, I must be Pam then! Thank you, I just wrote it out last minute since me and Jared were chatting over lunch. It’s not as crazy to us and I was surprised at the response. It’s just a series of things that happened to us x)

  • Hi Lily, what price did you sell Amazon at? I hope you didn’t sell it all in one shot and managed your tax situation. Selling half a million dollars worth of stock in one year on top of your salaries would generate a huge tax bill. In CA, would have lost 37% of it to taxes.

    Honestly I think diversification is over-rated. It’s what all people in finance would recommend, but at a young age you are trying to create wealth, not protect it. No one ever got rich from diversification.

    I am a perfect example. I realized over 10 million dollars of gains from diversifying out of company stock. Paid 37% or more to taxes. That stock would be worth $250 million today (after 15 years have passed).

    Of course , Amazon is a different story. Their valuation is maxed out… or is it?

    • Hi Joe, no we didn’t sell all at once. We live in Washington which is more tax friendly than California. We sell once it cross the threshold to keep our portfolio balanced. We’re not that young 🙂 Jared is almost 30 (that’s old right?!) we want to FIRE more than anything else.

  • I love this story! Very honest. As a couple, we’re just crossing over the $1M mark in our early 50’s. Think about what you can do and achieve in the next 20 years and how I’m sure you will make that grow. Good for you for pressing for diversification. You really need to have “breaker switches” because it can work in reverse too. I always think of the people that were burned by Bernie Madoff or how there were multiple “Buy” recommendations on Enron’s stock only weeks before their collapse. It’s fun to watch your investments grow. Looking forward to following along!

    • Thank you Jim! Really appreciate the kind words. My husband is starting to play defense on the investment fronts – we’re trying to add on more “breaker switches” right now.

  • Oh Lily, I was laughing so hard as I read this post! I don’t feel you’re making fun of your husband at all (who is a gem btw) but what I got was how much you adore him, quirks and all. You were probably part of that dumb luck btw since he got the girl who was responsible with his money and even got him to make more positive changes. Just goes to show things we can’t control like timing often are a huge factor in these things.

  • It’s crazy how life works out sometimes. Bless Jared for sticking with Amazon all those years. I know two peers who turned down full-time roles after internships because it was too much. Also, you’re a better person than I. There’s no way I would’ve turned down a Chanel bag. The resale value is way too high.
    Aitza B recently posted…Travel – What to Wear Weekend Mountain Trip

    • Haha, Aitza, you sound like a business woman. At that time, I didn’t know anything about purse investing (my friend who was with me has lots of LVs for “investments”). Maybe my answer might change if he asked me now…;)

  • Much smaller scale, but when we went looking for engagement rings together (at the ripe old age of 21), they kept trying to show us the bigger, shinier, more expensive rings. I adamantly did NOT want a big flashy ring, and the salespeople were so confused when I ended up with what they called a “promise ring” because it was too small to be an official engagement ring. Almost 9 years later, and I’m even happier with it now than when we picked it out.

    • AHH I love this comment!!! GOOD FOR YOU. I wanna see the ring!!! Tweet meeee!

      I almost got kicked out of Tiffany’s one time (in the mall near Uni of Wash.) because they totally thought I was some street kid lookie-loo. I was a lookie-loo though.

  • Wow, what a fun, cute story. That is an amazing streak of luck that started with a well planned college choice. Sounds like he was smart enough to be nabbed by just the right companies when finances were rough for most grads. I hope I can sock away some big figures soon.

    • It was a combination of everything – but especially luck. He even admits it 🙂 but I don’t know….he’s special to me 🙂 I’m sure you can Deanna. How’s it going?!

      • Good! Thank you for asking. I am transitioning my blog into a high end coaching/mentoring program. I am keeping the blogging going in another tab but will focus more on the program as my main point. I really enjoy helping people conquer self-limiting beliefs and Lord knows I have more than enough education to back it all so I’m diving in!

  • I had similar dumb luck working at broadcast.com/Yahoo! in the late ’90’s. Sadly, I squandered all my riches as a dumb 20-something. Oh, if I could turn back time.

  • It seems like you and your husband were meant to be frugal/get rich together. I’m not sure why but I always thought Amazon would be a great place to work. But it actually makes sense now haha. Anyway, this was so interesting to read and your story is really inspiring! It also makes me feel like I haven’t optimized my 26 years of life nearly as much as you have. But seriously, I’ll be binge reading your posts for more wisdom 😉

    • It’s not a great work environment. Most people leave as soon as they can. Hubby gritted through because he’s stubbornly loyal (like how his dad and his grandpa taught him.) Are you 26 too? I spied a bit when you guest posted on Luxe’s blog but I’m not a fashionable at all. You can work for Chanel, your so pretty 🙂

  • Hi, Lily. I really enjoyed your story about your husband here. My husband also has a leg length discrepancy. In the beginning, I have wondered why he walks the way he does, but later found out that his legs aren’t the same length. I thought he was making it up! Anyway, I just read your story on time.com and it’s truly inspirational. You guys are hardcore and I love it!

  • Great article…dumb luck indeed, getting and then holding Amazon that cheap and for that long certainly paid off! On the other hand, I’d actually make the assertion your husband is a smart man because he knew what he didn’t know. He knew that he wasn’t super financially savvy and that it would probably be best for him to keep it simple and stick to what he knew – which at the time was Amazon stock. Fast forward – I’m glad you guys have diversified since then 🙂
    Ben recently posted…First quarter review

    • Thanks Ben, he was naturally frugal, just like I was. I think we both would have been fine even without the Amazon stock taking off 🙂 Thanks universe!! Haha.

  • Hey Lily, I kept seeing your name pop up in a few different PF blogs and I finally had to come here and check it out. As it turns out I’m now living in Seattle (since August of last year) and working at Amazon… talk about dumb luck!! It was a weird few seconds reading through here and your about page, small world.

    I’ll have to spend some time getting caught up with you guys (90% savings rate?! I thought I was awesome at 80%), I’m sure there’s lots to learn, so I’ll probably be leaving some comments/questions on some other posts 🙂

  • This is the most adorable story I have ever read! Your husband is lucky to have a girl like you…well, he just seems pretty lucky in general. He must have been born under a lucky star! I know what you mean about being a girlfriend/wife who doesn’t want very much…although we save a decent amount (50% of our income), I still shop for many of my clothes at Goodwill! I met my (Chinese) husband at a Chinese New Year party…he always says he was looking for a nice Chinese girlfriend, but got me instead 😉 Lucky him!

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