4 Steps That Have Helped Me Build Wealth

This compass points to financial freedom

wallet next to bills and coins

Photo by Katie Harp on Unsplash

Whether intended or unintended, many of our actions impact our wallets. Because of this, I decided to take a moment and reflect upon which elements of my life have effected my net worth for the better.

Below are the four steps that have made or saved me the most money (excluding having steady stream[s] of income):

Living with roommates

The money-saving aspect of this move is fairly self-explanatory — sharing housing costs is cheaper than paying all of it yourself. Not only are you diminishing the often high cost of keeping a roof over your head, you are also reducing the cost of utilities (gas, electricity, internet, and whatever other communal expenses are incurred). Provided you are comfortable living with others, roommates you can trust and who have compatible living styles to yours are worth their weight in gold. They’re the reason my housing costs have been at most half of what they would be if I lived alone.

If you are not looking to share your living space full-time, (which is fair — a bad roommate will turn any living situation into a hellscape), there is the part-time option of becoming an airbnb host. You can also forgo human lodgers and instead list any extra space you might have as storage area for others’ items using the site Neighbor.

Getting rid of my car

While ditching car ownership was not originally part of my transportation plan, it cut a massive portion of my spending and was a change for the better. Cars are expensive. There’s gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs, parking, registration… all of these are on top of the cost of the car itself or the monthly payments and interest if it isn’t paid off in full from the start. Plus, there’s the enemies of time and depreciation to further cut into a vehicle’s value.

Now, rather than own a car, I depend on public transit to get around. I have the backups of Lyft and Uber (and kind friends, let’s be real) when needed, I walk more, it’s better for the environment, and I no longer have to deal with the headache of parking. Also, some employers offer commuter programs and/or stipends for discounted public transit passes or provide the ability to contribute to an existing public transit pass by using pre-tax dollars (as was the case for me). Decreasing the vehicle(s) in your household and/or their expenses is a key to putting money back in your pocket.

If you live somewhere that does not have dependable public transportation, remember that it is a reflection of the government’s support of public spaces, accessibility for all, environmental sustainability, unhoused communities, and lower-income communities, so be sure to vote and tell them to step it up.

Gaining 100% employer-covered healthcare coverage

I realize this “step” is frustrating because it’s not something in your own control. I decided to list it, however, because 100% employer-covered healthcare coverage (i.e. an employer paying 100% of their employees’ health plan premiums) is not something I even knew existed until my current job and there’s no point in you being stuck in the same dark room I was.

Living in a country without universal healthcare is a burden mentally, financially, physically, and emotionally. In addition to forcing recurring monthly insurance premium payments, it’s often the case that those payments don’t actually make healthcare more affordable, easier to access, or better quality.

Obtaining 100% employer-covered health insurance has allowed me to take home hundreds of dollars more of my paycheck every month and the insurance is also the best I’ve ever had (though to be clear, I’m still pushing for universal healthcare). While it might not be in your power to determine if your employer pays 100% of the premiums for the health plans they offer (if any), it is reasonable to inquire what percentage they (or any potential employers) do cover because it is considered part of your total compensation. It is also important to know that the plan you are on is what is best for you and your needs, even if it isn’t the default plan being pushed at you.

Additionally, if you have employer-provided health insurance, make sure you are receiving and utilizing all of the benefits offered, such as FSAs, HSAs, employer contributions to those accounts, reward programs, free fitness classes, reimbursements for fitness/preventative healthcare costs, etc… If your employer does not provide health insurance, visit your state government’s website to see if there are any health coverage programs you might qualify for.


Investing used to scare me. A risk-filled game in which a bunch of my money can be lost instantaneously? No, thank you. It also felt out of reach and meant for yacht owners who didn’t care if the market tanked because they had millions of dollars elsewhere.

Once I spoke with a financial advisor, however, I learned that investing didn’t have to involve jumping into a sea of suits yelling “buy, buy, buy.” I had the ability to build an investment portfolio of different assets (bonds, commodities, cash, and stocks) and I could choose the proportion of money allocated to each of them based on my own goals, preferences, and comfortability with risk. I could set it and forget it.

There was also no need to stress over individual stocks and frantic upkeep of buying or selling. All of the stocks were funds (specifically ETFs [exchange-traded funds]), so were a compilation of multiple companies’ stocks intended to mirror a specific index such as the S&P 500 (I do not recommend or partake in individual stocks unless they’re free — you can read my article about how to get free stocks here and see my full list of apps that offer free stocks here). I did not have to pay advisory fees or commissions to a broker either (another aspect I appreciated because paying someone to magically know the future seemed unrealistic to me).

The more educated I became about investing, the less intimidating and more accessible it became. My money was now able to grow and has grown alongside the indexes and markets always being reported upon, i.e. my money became a part of something that governments and economies greatly care about and do not want to fail.

If you want to find out more about investing, speaking to a financial advisor at your preferred bank or brokerage firm is a great place to start. It is free (if it’s not free at your bank, go elsewhere) and you can also meet with multiple different advisors to ensure you are getting information from the person who best listens to you and cares about your needs. While investing can seem daunting, there is an abundance of information at your fingertips.

Building wealth is a learning process. Even if the four steps that have best impacted my financial journey aren’t quite right for you, taking the time to pinpoint what has and does work for you is a great step to better understanding and growing your wealth.

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