What is your lifetime income?

Money Under 30 asked this question a couple of months ago and it is NOT MEANT TO MAKE ANYONE FEEL BAD ABOUT HOW LITTLE THEY MAKE so don’t start with me in the Comments section.

Add up what your lifetime income has been, and does it change your perspective about your finances?

It’s just an interesting exercise because if you have been working for a while you’d be surprised at how large the number is just from the sheer number of years you’ve been working.

ALL NUMBERS ARE IN “GROSS” INCOME FIGURES which means no taxes taken out or accounted for.

I guess I started working around the age of 7 doing a paper route with my brother. I must have made around $300 a year until I was about 9.

Then I got my first ‘real job’ at a fast food restaurant when I turned 16 and worked there until I was 19. I worked mad over time on weekends, 3 nights a week, holidays (double time).. and earned around $12,000 a year.

I also started my own company around that time and did random website designing gigs (about 5 in total) at around $2000 each site.

Then when I turned 20 until about the age of 24, I worked at a series of jobs earning anywhere from $6.85/hour to $10/hour, full-time. For an average wage of $8.43.

*I am not including scholarships or bursaries as “income” because I had to use those towards school, and wasn’t allowed to just keep the cash free and clear.

When I graduated, I started earning $65,000 a year which I had earned for 2.5 solid years until I quit in August of 2008. I then became a freelancer and earned a gross of about $84,000 for the rest of 2008 not including December.

What does this all add up to?

A hell of a lot of money, which is surprising.

I’m really, REALLY surprised that I’ve earned over a quarter of a million by now. I never would have expected these numbers. I actually estimated it to be around $240,000 and I thought that was too high!

The money I earned before getting my ‘real job’ adds up to over $100,000!!!

And I had NOTHING save for a couple of hundred bucks to show for it when I started working at my first real job except my degree and $60,000 in debt.

Damn. Really makes you think that you have to be more on top of where you’re frittering the money away. And ever since I started taking care of my money when I started working around the age of 24, I’ve started saving a lot more of it.

Out of that gross $250,000 that I earned in the past two years, I have saved and used $141,980.07 of that to pay down debt and build my net worth.

That’s on average, 57% of my gross income being saved and/or used towards debt, and a higher percentage of my net income (if you factor in that taxes eat some of that $250,000).

I like those numbers!!!

But can you imagine how far I would’ve come if I had done the same before I started working? This just strengthens my resolve to keep living frugally, intelligently and being careful about my purchases.

I am thankful however, that I learned my lesson early on in life before I started making a good income and I can’t wait to pass on these values to my (future) kids so that they learn from my mistakes.

(Of course, this is all gross. The real disposable amount of money ‘earned’ probably is a lot lower if you factored in taxes, living expenses and so on. You know, expenses and things that you cannot avoid paying. Like food?)

If you did the same exercise as me, what do you think? (No need to post numbers if you don’t want to). Does it change your perspective on your finances and how you manage it?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.