The First 100k Is The Hardest. Then It Gets Easier?

December 27, 2021

Charlie Munger said that the first 100k is the hardest. Now that I’ve reached that milestone, it makes sense to me. Here’s 5 reasons why!

top 15 posts
When did ordinary become a bad word
Benefits of pursuing financial independence
Now Trending:
Welcome to money gremlin!

I believe a happier life can be achieved through mindful money habits. It's not just about how much money you make; it's about how you use it!


Featured on:

It’s official: Our investments have crossed into 6 figure territory! Yessss! The say the first 100k is the hardest?!

This article isn’t intended to be bragging in any way. 4 years ago I graduated with no money to my name & $100,000 in debt. I cried about money quite often, then decided to do something about it.

The road here was not easy… or smooth…. it was basically a pothole filled wild ride. But we arrived!

Did I have to say no to myself more often than I wanted? Yes.

Did we make unconventional choices? Yes.

Was it worth it? Yes 🙂

I intend for this article to be motivational. If I can change my financial picture that much in 4 years, imagine what YOU can do. It just takes commitment and a whole lot of saying no.

There’s a famous Charlie Munger (AKA the billionaire investor) quote that goes something like:

The first $100,000 is a bitch, but you gotta do it. I don’t care what you have to do – if it means walking everywhere and not eating anything that wasn’t purchased with a coupon, find a way to get your hands on $100,000. After that, you can ease off the gas a little bit.

-Charlie Munger

I find the quote inspiring, and I’m happy to have joined the 100k club.

Exactly WHY is the first 100k so hard though? Does it genuinely get easier after this?

Those 2 questions have been rattling around in my brain this week, and I think I finally have answers.

I love visuals, so I’ll also show you why it’s true!

1) The first 100k is the hardest because it requires you to do ALL the heavy lifting.

What do I mean by that?

Even if you’re getting decent returns on your investments, the actual dollar value you’re earning isn’t remarkable when there’s not much sitting in your account.

Let’s say you’re earning 7% return on your investments yearly after accounting for inflation. How much do you make when you have $1000 invested??



That doesn’t feel like an incredibly helpful amount of money. Is it even worth the effort of living below your means so that you can invest?!


The first 100k is hard because you’re going to have to personally contribute most of it. Once you’re earning interest on larger sums of money THEN interest will start to help you along. Unfortunately, until then, the effort falls entirely on you.

You have to do the heavy lifting to get the financial ball rolling, but then you just need to get out of it’s way and let it pick up speed.

Compound interest is a great friend to make early on. The longer you’re friends, the better it treats you.

2) It’s hard to start the habit.

I truly believe that living below your means is like a muscle that you need to work; it gets stronger when you use it.

In our culture it’s incredibly normal to spend your entire paycheck (or more!). Is delayed gratification even a thing anymore? If you want something, just swipe the credit card!

Being different requires effort.

The best way to start living differently is…. to just start!

Sorry. I wish there was mind-blowing advice I could give. Honestly? You just need to commit (AND follow through).

Don’t say you’ll invest when you have more money. That’s like saying you’ll run a marathon as soon as you wake up a good runner. It doesn’t work that way!

You don’t invest because you have too much money; you invest because you want more money!

Even if you start by adding $10 a week to investments, just start. Let that muscle grow.

3) Compound growth feels like magic.

I suspect you’ve heard the annoying term “The rich get richer”. While it’s often used as a negative, there’s a lot of truth behind it.

At some point, if you save and invest enough, your money can start to out earn you. Even while you sleep! It’s genuinely incredible.

Earlier I mentioned that $1000 invested earning 7% a year pays you a measly $70. You’d probably barely notice it.

But once that snowball grows and picks up speed it starts moving FAST.

The return on your investments may not change, but the actual dollar value starts to become noticeable.

Now that we have $100,000 invested we’d expect to be earning about $7000 a year in interest!

Maybe that still doesn’t seem like a substantial amount of money to you, but remember: it’ll keep happening with no further effort. We do not have to trade time for that money ever again. Our effort into it is done. That $7000 a year will come to us like magic… all for putting some money into investments and leaving them there. It’s beautiful!

Now: imagine if you had a million invested?! At 7% return you’d be making $70,000 a year WITH NO EFFORT.

That’s more than I earned last year, and I can assure you my paychecks required a lot of effort.

I’ll happily get paid in my sleep, thank you very much.

4) Once you taste what accumulation can do, you want more of it.

I really do believe that investing becomes it’s own positive feedback loop.

When you’re starting out with investing spending $100 on a dinner might not seem like it’s going to change your financial picture too much. What’s $100 going to do?

However, once you have put in the work and have a substantial amount invested you DO start to notice the money that your money is earning. It makes you want to feed that cycle even more.

You now understand that investing that $100 instead of spending it DOES make a difference in the long run.


Because you’re now experiencing that difference from past effort in your accounts. You saved those $100s, put in that effort, and got to 6 figures. Now you notice that the snowball is getting harder to stop.

Instead of backing off, it makes you want to push the snowball even faster.

$100 doesn’t seem like much, but they stack up when you let them.

5) The first $100,000 truly is the hardest

Still not convinced?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s make one.

Let’s assume your goal is to have $1,000,000 invested eventually. You can afford to put aside $10,000 a year but it’s feeling like you’ll never hit your goal. Let me show you why the first 100k is the most difficult.

[For this example we’ll assume you’re investing 10k a year ($833 at the end of each month) and earning 7% return on your money compounded daily. You have nothing invested when you start. All calculations done on]

Your journey is going to look like this:

The first 100k is the hardest. Here's why!
  • Save
The first 100k is the hardest. Here's why!
  • Save

It will take you 30 years of investing $10,000 a year to become a millionaire. It IS possible!

There are some interesting numbers to look at that prove how un-linear financial growth is however.

The first 100k took you 92 months (7 years 8 months) to accumulate. You personally had to contribute about 77% of it.

The last 100k? It only took 19 months (1 year 7 months) to accumulate! You only had to contribute about 16% of it!

How is that possible when your contributions didn’t change?!

Compound growth.

In the final year before you became a millionaire you only added $10,000 to the pile, but your money earned just shy of $69,000!!

In fact, out of the entire million you only personally added ~30% of it.

How incredible is that?

The first $100,000 took 26% of the time required to reach a MILLION.

The last $100,000 only took 5% of the total time.

This is why the first 100k is the hardest.

So how do you get to 6 figures?

You commit. Hard.

Put your head down, stop looking at shiny new things, live simply, follow your budget, pack your lunch & coffee, ditch your ego, become friends with delayed gratification, develop patience, and look for ways to increase your income.

It’s a slog, but it’s worth it.

You might feel like you’re spinning your wheels and making minimal progress when you first start on your financial journey. I promise you that big things are happening. They just happen quietly at first.

Start building that snowball, then get out of the way.

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Feedback means the world to me. Share your thoughts!


Grab the monthly newsletter!

If you enjoyed this post I would really appreciate a comment & share!

Thanks for reading!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap