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  • I grew up in a penny-pinching household and kept it up when I moved out on my own.
  • Living frugally helped me save $5,000 in a year when I was earning just $30,000. As my income rose, I didn’t let my expenses rise with it.
  • That’s when I had a lightbulb moment: The key to building wealth and savings isn’t frugality or increasing your earning potential, it’s a smart balance of both.
  • Find out what a financial planner can do for you with Personal Finance Insider’s free e-book »

Growing up in a single-parent household, where the state of our finances waxed and waned, my mom was incredibly frugal. We’d go to Big Lots to buy sundry food items and school supplies, and I wore hand-me-downs from an older cousin. 

From an early age, I made the connection between frugality and abundance. I also made the connection of not having enough money to stress and anxiety. In turn, I turned out to be quite the penny-pincher. And being that way helped me save aggressively.

When I was in my early 20s, I lived well within my means and managed to save $5,000 within the first year of living on my own in Los Angeles. At the time, I was earning a salary of $30,000. For the first decade or so of being gainfully employed, I practiced an extreme form of frugality.

Because of my extremely frugal ways, I was able to keep around $10,000 in my emergency fund and set 12% of each paycheck toward retirement. But it wasn’t until