From Living With 5 People In A 2-bedroom To $100,000 Net Worth

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Today we have a guest post from Liz. Liz is a 20-something year old, independent lady trying to be a responsible adult.

Liz blogs at Ambitious Adulting.

When she is not learning about personal finance, traveling or fixing up her house, she’s running Shoutouts Hamilton and working as a researcher.


I was born in Mexico City and moved to Canada when I was 5.

My family of 6 lived in a 2-bedroom apartment, and my dad was the sole “breadwinner“.

With his broken English, he got a job in the manufacturing industry.

My family didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents had integrity, honesty and a hard-work ethic that rubbed off on me.

I knew that if I worked hard, my life could change.

Fast-forward to 2013. When I was 21, I graduated debt-free from a Canadian university.

I then bought my house when I was 24 and now, I am 26 and my net worth is $100K.

My passion for personal finance and success is the topic of my blog Ambitious Adulting because I know that ideas, action, hard work, persistence, and dedication can change the outcome of my life.

Related: When You Are Ashamed Of Being Poor

The early years

I always knew I was poor but it didn’t really bother me when I was young.

I had a roof over my head and food on the table every day.

I didn’t compare myself to others until later in elementary school.

It was in grade 5, 6, 7, and 8 when I started to realize that I was embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up with the trends.

I remember getting anxiety when I was invited to a birthday party because I wouldn’t be able to bring a nice gift.

I remember never inviting friends to play because I didn’t want them to find out I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with my family of 6.

There were a lot of things I didn’t do growing up because we didn’t have disposable income and I grew up as a jealous but relatively happy kid.

What growing up poor taught me

1. If you want something, go get it

In my early teens, when Facebook first came out, I wasted so much time comparing myself to others. I was jealous of the vacations people were going on, and I was jealous of people’s new Juicy Couture and Holister outfits that were all the rage.

I spent so much time comparing myself to others and wishing I had what they had. In retrospect, this was not a productive use of time but it did plant a seed in my head. If I wanted what they had, I knew I had to get it myself.

Related5 Things I Wished I Had, But Now I Don’t

2. Save for a rainy day

There were a few times in my childhood that my dad was out of work. He would take us to the library with him so he could use the computers with internet to job hunt and work on his resume.

I spent a lot of time in the library, and it taught me to enjoy free things in life. It also taught me to save up for a rainy day. Life can change in the blink of an eye so I learned to have an emergency fund and to be prepared.

This came in handy when I went through a horrible break-up and had to move out of the house I shared with my partner. For a month, I was in a rough place emotionally and mentally but after I assessed and reflected on my situation and dried my tears, I set out to buy a house.

I had enough money for a 20% down payment, and I was ready to move forward and move on pretty quickly from the breakup. Having this emergency find helped me with my self-esteem after the break up, and it showed me that patience and perseverance really pay off.

Related10 Simple Things We Do To Save Money

3. Be content with what you have

The 3rd lesson growing up poor taught me was to be happy with what I had. Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, I had a great family, supportive parents, nice friends and people who supported my dreams.

I don’t take this for granted. It also taught me to enjoy free things in life including nature, libraries, family time, movie nights, board game nights and getting by with what you have.

These are principles and hobbies I apply to this day.

How I grew my wealth

1. Save

Since I didn’t have a lot of money, I saved as much as I could. I didn’t know how much the cost of living was when I was young so I just saved and saved because I was scared of not being able to pay my bills and tuition. I was like a squirrel in winter, collecting my food because of scarcity.

Related: 3 Weird Things We Do To Save Money

2. Grow

Coupled with an aggressive savings strategy, I realized that I wanted to make more money. At 26, most of my jobs have been entry-level and on contract work, but that hasn’t stopped me or discouraged me from saving.

Here’s a list of all of the jobs and things I’ve done to make money in the last 10 years

2008: babysat & waited tables

2009: applied for grants and scholarships and secured enough funds to pay for 1.5 years of university

2010-2012: worked full-time on the weekends to pay for school, applied for more scholarships, worked at the library part-time

2012-2014: worked at a co-op for school, starting investing, and got volunteer work experience

2015-present: work a 9-5 job, invest, freelance as a social media manager, work odd jobs here and there

3. Enjoy

Working non-stop comes with lots of perks including guilt-free spending. I make it a priority to travel at least 3 times a year. I eat out as much as I want without feeling bad. And I’m known to enjoy a facial every now and then.

Even though I like to spend my time working and growing my wealth, I make time in my calendar for travel and spending time with my loved ones, my partner, and my friends.

I believe in balance, and I work very hard to achieve everything I want

Results (wealth and travel goals)

Net Worth:

$52,000 in equity on my house
$35,000 invested
$10,000 emergency fund
$3,000 fun fund
No debt other than my mortgage

Countries I’ve visited:

Across Canada
Road tripped across California
Hong Kong
Costa Rica

Next steps

My mind is always churning. I am constantly on the look-out for my next project and adventure, and that’s why my blog is called Ambitious Adulting.

I strive for success and have an ambition that fuels so many of my ideas. I recognize that many of my accomplishments are because of the sacrifices my parents made to help the children get ahead in life.

Success is a combination of hard work and luck and I’m lucky to have a supportive, family, a strong body, time, a job, support for my mental health, access to resources, and a great circle of friends. Here’s to the next $100K and more adventures.

Follow Liz’s adventures on:
Instagram and Twitter (@ambitiousadults)


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14 thoughts on “From Living With 5 People In A 2-bedroom To $100,000 Net Worth”

  • So inspiring Liz! The fantastic news is that it gets easier and easier after the first $100k, you’ll see the second 100 is just around the corner and the money just rolls because you got the principles down.

    • Thanks Lily! I am finding it a lot easier to save now. I have cemented my savings habits and know a few ways to grow my wealth now. It’s very exciting!

  • You’re doing very well. Congratulations. Keep saving and investing and you’ll be wealthy in no time.
    Life’s not easy for immigrants. Our family of 5 lived in 2 bedroom apartments for many years too. It wasn’t a big deal because most of my friends were poor too. Life is much easier now that we are financial independent.

    • Thanks for the comment Joe 🙂 My friends and school were all middle income so I often felt out of place. But yes, life is much easier now.

  • Great story! Sounds like you really hustled. One thing that always surprises me is the cost of tuition in the US versus Canada. A state university in the US costs more than double the tuition of a public university in Canada. So growing up in Canada definitely has its benefits (although definitely not easy!)

    • I don’t know how American students do it! I felt it was important to clarify it was a Canadian university because I am aware of the cost difference. My life would be SO different if my parents chose USA over Canada. I do consider myself very lucky.

  • It’s so hard not to compare ourselves to others, right? But in a way, your upbringing gave you a gift those friends going on fab vacations and wearing fab outfits never got–an understanding that you need to save and invest early to get ahead. A lot of those kids probably have 6 figures in debt right now. The fact that you have a 6-figure net worth at so young an age is going to set you up for a lifetime of financial security and choices. 🙂

  • That’s awesome, Liz. I do like a good news story. I was a bit concerned at the start with the mention of being a responsible adult, so good to see there is a heap of fun and adventure in your life too.

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