Analysis: 7 readers who saved over $100,000

Ramit Sethi

Do you ever wonder how people who read I Will Teach You To Be Rich actually implement the strategies for huge savings and earning increases?

Below are 7 stories, straight from readers just like you, who have saved and earned thousands of dollars using I Will Teach You To Be Rich techniques. The stories include details on how they got out of debt, saved more, and earned more so they could travel, buy a house, and live a richer life.

* * *

Jason Demant saved $50,000 in 2 years and is now taking a 1-year vacation

“The reason I’m writing is to thank you for your help in automating my money, getting my 401K properly allocated, and pushing me to sell my crap to make some cash. Using your step-by-step instructions and advice, my girlfriend and I have been able to save over $50,000 the past couple of years and now, in a couple weeks, we will be quitting our Silicon Valley jobs and traveling around Asia on an extremely extended vacation (1-year minimum)! I’ve been reading your site for a few years now and I’ve never properly thanked you for the help, so I decided it was time. Thank you!”

* * *

Terry Martin got off his ass and paid off thousands in debt — and earned more

“I’m writing you to let you know how much your blog has helped my wife and I take charge of our finances. I’m actually embarrassed to say this, but we were some of the people you mentioned in tip #25 of the save $1000 in a month challenge. We would complain about our financial situation, but did nothing to change it.

After I realized this, I got to work. I read all your tips and made a game plan. I saved $100 a month on cable, $20 on our cell phone bill, created several ING savings accounts, my wife got serious about cutting coupons (she has a 3 ring binder!), I sold an old camcorder on craigslist, and cut off my Sirius account (but when I called to cancel it, they gave me 3 more months free with the option to cancel it for good afterwards—who would have thought?). We cut back on eating out except we each get twice a month at lunch time. My wife got overtime at work along with a raise, I started a side job, and I will start teaching night classes soon. Not only did we cut our spending drastically, we also have more money coming in. Our debt will be cut in half by the end of the year and eliminated by the end of the next!

Update: “Right now we are just over 18,500 in debt not counting my wife’s newly added student loan which would add about another $8000 . By the end of the year, we will have paid about $14,000 off while putting at least $500 a month in savings for a down payment on a house and 50 a month into another savings. This is, of course, things keep going as planned.

But not only are we saving money, we are increasing how much we make too! I have started a side business, while its not bringing in a lot of extra money now, things are starting to pick up. I also talked my company into paying for training classes for a certification that will greatly increase my value $15 to $20K a year in the workplace. Especially helpful during these tough times. My wife is also getting her company to pay for most of her classes to get her bachelor’s degree so she can move up to a new, higher paying position. During this whole process, we have been saving for a down payment on a house and I’m happy to say we are closing on our first home July 20th.

I would personally like to thank you for website and your book. The tips were inspiration to get up and do more than just complain about our financial situation. Although we are not rich money wise, we love where we are at and what the future holds. You have truly taught us how to be rich. Thank you.”

* * *

Christopher P. is saving hundreds of dollars and earning more

“I would say i have saved: $320 from cutting my cable bill by 40 dollars last 8 months (they raised it again 2 months ago. I just called right back and got it lowered . I put $30 a week into savings accounts (960 total saved 8/months)

8 months ago i decided that i would earn more money. First I asked for a 5% raise at work and got it. (This was scary because we had just had 3 rounds of firings.) Then i sat down and figured out what interested me and I could make money doing. I was in love with the iPhone but too poor to buy one. But I taught myself to program for the iPhone anyways and just 2 months ago finally purchased one. It was slow going at first and the amount i was putting away seemed pretty insignificant. But 8 months later looking back i am really seeing the transformation that took place.

Two weeks ago I finally finished and started selling my first app. It has been such a great experience and your website gave me the kick in the pants i needed. (Thank You) I haven’t done any advertising and on my first day i sold 17 copies! Not enough to quit my job but extra income. Since then the amount of units I have sold has been slowly but steadily increasing. (It’s been rated 5 stars)

People all over the wold have purchased my app now. (Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Netherlands and United States so far) In the first two weeks after Apple’s cut i made $200. October looks like it will be a much better month!”

* * *

Brian Drolet is saving $2,880/year

“Big wins =

  • Dropping cable $40/month
  • $1 raise at work = $240/month extra
  • Closed checkings account = $13/month extra
  • Automated my cell phone bill = $7/month

I’m saving $720/year just from those 3 things and earning $2880/year extra.”

* * *

Misha has turned her savings around

“I wanted to write to you and say thank you. After reading your book I was able to get a good handle on my finances. I think the most helpful was the chart you use to show the movement of the money and the automation. Check out a snapshot of my my mint NET INCOME.”

* * *

Josh G has saved $14,000 in a few months

“I have saved 14k so far since I started May 2008 and I’m on track for 20k by the end of the year!
Fear kept me from automating my savings previously. I had bills and it seems that was all I thought about every month.

There was a blog post that you did which you mentioned using ING Direct to create sub accounts. It was in that post I decided to try the full automated savings because I could do sub accounts for future purposes.”

* * *

Michael Hagan saved hundreds from March to July of this year

“I’ve saved: $900 in savings since March, $700 towards Roth IRA since March. I started the whole thing around February/March

I would say that the things that held me back the most was a) not knowing what to do in the first place b) getting out of college saddled with massive credit card and student loan debt (working a full-time, unpaid internship in LA was expensive!) c) messing around in high school just enough to where I couldn’t qualify for scholarships and being just too middle class to get gov’t $$ for college, and finally d) trying to keep up with all my friends that had good jobs and nice things. A fool’s game!”

* * *
The difference between these people and others is they took ACTION. It’s easy to read blog post after blog post, but when you decide to take action — and you have a clear plan of which Big Wins to attack — the results can come quickly.

The Boot Camp will include a step-by-step plan to take action on your finances, automate, create a plan to pay off debt, and more. I’m including psychological techniques to use against yourself to lock the behavioral changes in. Plus, live video webcasts from me each week (where I’ll answer your questions), as well as guest speakers to cover entrepreneurship topics like marketing, pricing, and critical business mistakes to avoid.

Check back tomorrow, when I’ll open up Boot Camp registration.

Do you know your actual earning potential?

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  1. Jonathan Vaudreuil

    For anyone who has not automated their finances at all, who has not made simple phone calls for better prices and services, who have not tried to put anything Ramit writes about into practice:

    It is easier than what you are doing now, and it works.

    So far his book is my favorite business book that I read this year. Hands down.

    Do everything you can to put this into practice, any of it, and your life will be far better.

  2. Kimberly


    Stop freakin posting the same damn stuff about automating! You seem to be repeating yourself a lot. Most of the times your articles pretty much suck because only thing you do is add graphs and some calculations. The people who are great at giving financial advice are Suze Orman and Jean Chatzky and you basically read the financial advise of Suze Orman and wrote a book out of that. That was a smart business tactic but doesn’t make you a financial guru. And for your information, that was a pathetic attempt of Suze saga-you just trying to meet Suze so you can eventually be on Oprah and that doesn’t make you a very genuine individual and people shouldn’t be even listening to you!

  3. matt


    he may just be copying peoples ideas, but he’s most likely turned himself into a millionaire. his articles have gone way way downhill lately too, but when you’re already rich, who cares?

    • Ramit Sethi

      Actually, a ton of readers have asked for more case studies and stories from people on HOW (not just what) they did to get Big Wins, so I think these are pretty useful. Of course, if you have specific suggestions for things you’d like to read (or you’d like to write a guest post sharing your techniques), let me know.

  4. Ken Siew

    I think all these case studies and stories from people who actually took ACTIONS are inspirational and serve as a great tool to help people get off their couch and start doing something. It also outlines the specific things that most people could do, as you can see some of his advices got improved/tweaked to suit each individual’s situation.

    And posting similar stories (but not duplicate content) could be useful to those who are new to the blog and for those who needed a reminder. Again, if I’m already familiar with a certain area (such as automation), I’d just move on and do something to improve my finances instead of keep reading Ramit’s blog. His posts are most likely not meant to serve every person every single time.

    Again, wonderful stories man. Keep up the good work!

  5. Ramit Sethi

    Wow. That is amazing.

  6. Mr. Alarcon

    Your book sound like the real deal on how to put yourself on the road to financial freedom. Reading your post and what your readers have commented has made me wonder about what you have to teach in your book. I might go over to Amazom to get more details on your book.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

  7. Lauren


    It is a shame people feel compelled to put you down not realizing how many people you have helped. I bought your book this summer even though I have already been paying down debt, working a second job, selling things and budgeting. Automation truly has helped me with my Roth IRA at T.Rowe Price ($1000), savings account, and earning more money. I also saved $40 a month on my cable bill along with $25 a month on my cell phone bill. I opened a Charles Schwab Checking account and have saved more than 4.95 a month in fees not to mention the fees saved by the ATM card. I also opened an ING Direct Savings account. I have no credit card debt. My car is almost paid off since August I have paid $8,000 on it and will pay it off by December by $2000 every two weeks. Automation is fabulous and does help the lay person who is not a financial wizard to make the necessary changes for financial growth.

    I love Suze Orman and have been reading her books, looking at her website, watching her shows. However, I found your book to be a plan I could follow without having to do a ton of research! I did go to the internet and compare banks, brokerage firms, etc….It definitely helped me to have some background knowledge using your book. SO THANK YOU!!!!

    • Ramit Sethi

      Haha, thanks Lauren. I really appreciate it. There are always critics, so I guess I’ll just keep trying to help and hope that the message gets through. I know I’m not right for everyone but I am really glad I was able to help you.

  8. MC

    Yeah, what’s with the hate? I don’t agree with all of Ramit’s posts, but seriously.

    If you need help saving / investing / whatever your money, then having someone guiding you through the process is almost a must! (I’d recommend having a “mentor” for other parts of your life as well.) And if these testimonials of what Ramit’s material can do to help don’t interest you, I don’t see a need to get all up in his face about it.

  9. Nikc


    Is there anyway we can have an annotation next to comment-ers who have actually paid for one of your products vs. those who haven’t? I’d like to gloss over the comments by haters (read:freeloaders) who don’t appreciate FREE well-written posts on PF that don’t involve saving pennies by finding the cheapest gas station in town…

  10. Adam Carroll

    Ramit, I love your stuff. These two examples are going to have you pooping your pants you’ll be so excited to tell your readers. I speak to college students on a regular basis about financial management and specifically about how much free money there is in scholarships if only they’d apply.

    Case study #1: A recently graduated dental student applied for a state issued grant specifically for dentists who chose to serve an underserved population in the state. He was one of 3 young dentists who applied. The grant was worth $50,000 in debt forgiveness. He only works two days a week in this small town and he received the grant because his application was better written than the other two while both of them worked 5 days a week in small towns! 50 large, gone in an instant!

    Case study #2: My friend is 1/256th Native American — a card carrying member of a tribe in Oklahoma. (Who knew there were Indians in Oklahoma?). His two children, each 1/512th Native American, received full ride scholarships to a state university — FOR DIVERSITY!! These kids are as white as wonder bread. But they did something few students apparently do — they applied!

    Just goes to show, dude, there is money to be had… it just takes a little elbow grease to find it. Keep teaching people to look! You’re doing a great thing for millions of people.

    –Adam C.

  11. Lindsay

    All of these testimonials speak of making certain specific changes to help save money, make more money, avoid late payments, reduce charges. I’ve read tips on how to do these things all over the internet, on other blogs. I don’t understand why it would be necessary to pay for a book or for a curriculum to learn to save money, how to invest, how to earn more.

  12. Lindsay

    I should remark, I have my own success story. I’ve gotten out of consumer debt, increased my salary, got another degree, bought a home at a super low rate, while putting a lot of savings down. I did these things from reading free advice on the internet.

  13. Sami

    Huh. I’m wondering how much you’ve earned by teaching other people to earn money. 🙂

  14. Kimberly

    Lauren, for your information, Ramit is just little bit smarter than you and that is why he was able to publish a book. And, most of the information he has in his book is basically a common sense. And, Ramit’s goal isn’t to help you-he has already made himself lots of cash because of dumb people like you.


    In terms of ideas-why don’t you infrom these losers about going green. If you didn’t know-plastic is so harmful for the environment-it takes 1000 years for it to decompose. Just because these dumb people/firms want to make cash doesn’t mean they got to destroy the environment.

  15. Rachel

    I personally enjoy the way you have presented your information. There will always be detractors. As for the suggestion that you imitate other “financial gurus” – nothing comes from nothing. Everyone is “inspired” or yes, simply takes ideas from other people. Most ideas are not original. However, I think it’s what you do with the idea that leads to creative solutions. Chatzky and Orman learned their suggestions from somewhere as well.
    I don’t like the wishy-washy styles of Chatzky and Orman. Sometimes they are so non-specific I can’t stand to read more.
    I don’t think you have all the answers – then I would have blind faith and not be truly interested in formulating my own solutions. I do think that you make succinct suggestions in a no-nonsense manner. I appreciate your salt-of-the earth style. I have read your book and do agree with nearly everything you have to say. I have recommended you to my friends.

  16. Cj

    Wow, Ramit. You should be super proud for helping all those people change their lives.

    How about a Canadian edition of your book? While some of the things mentioned in your book can work for anyone, most of the specific things to implement don’t work for us up north. And those are some of the things that I would consider the biggest value in your book, things you’ve researched for me so I don’t have to.

    There are definately some great info in a few Canadian personal finance blogs, but nothing close to as comprehensive as what you have in your book. Plus there’s a lot of people up here who need your help as well. (Seriously, I know so many people who are the EXACT type of people your advice could help!)

  17. Chris

    Ramit, I thought you might like the opportunity to try to convince an open-minded skeptic. I think the advice you give on your blog is really great – in the past, your posts have inspired me to try calling my cable company and insurance to negotiate my rate and save money each month. I never knew about the credit card consumer protections, and though I’ve luckily never had to use it, that’s a great tip that might come in handy one day.

    However, a lot (most?) of the tips I see here don’t apply to me, because – and I hope you’ll appreciate my insolent tone, copied from your blog – I’m not an idiot. I _already_ don’t pay late fees because it is incredibly easy to pay bills on time. I don’t charge more than I earn so I don’t have credit card debt, and I laugh out loud every time I see a tip about eliminating an annual fee on a credit card – who on earth would pay an annual fee?? Ditto with checking account fees. It is SO easy to not pay these ridiculous fees, so most of the “common sense” tips on this blog, while excellent, do not apply to me.

    I don’t care about the obvious stuff. I’m doing it already. No late fees, extraneous annual fees, or exorbitant subscription services. I know you usually respond to comments like this with something like “Well if you’re so perfect already then feel free to write a guest post”. But I’m not perfect. I just see a lot of this as common sense, which you seem to agree with. What I’m really interested in is earning more money. I do pretty well with savings and salary, but unfortunately my lifestyle has kept pace with that income. I have a good job that takes up a lot of my time, so I’m really not sure how to go about earning more. I have skills and ideas for businesses, but they would require taking on tremendous risk by quitting my very secure job. We have a very formal review process so asking for a raise is not possible. I’m interested in how I can satisfy some of my entrepreneurial urges while continuing to support my family.

    So is the boot camp for me? Or will it be the same old (excellent, useful, productive) advice on automation, reducing insurance bills, and avoiding late fees? Your emails say it will “cost a lot”, which I’m willing to pay, but only if it’s meant for someone like me. Thanks!

  18. Danneleigh

    I have been reading your advise these past few days. I live in South Africa, how can I automate my accounts on ING? Will I be able to do that? thanks for your answer…:)

  19. Erin

    A very simple change I made after reading the beginning of your book was to find a credit card with better rewards, because we weren’t using our current rewards for anything worthwhile.

    I found a card from the bank that holds our mortgage that puts 1% of what you spend back into the principle of the mortgage. Even spending pretty modestly, that alone will save us around $6,000 over the life of our mortgage. Not a huge amount, but no work required after applying for the card! And way better than the worthless crap we could get with “points” from our old credit card.

  20. Ajay


    With reference to the post from Chris(above), I am in the exact same situation. Other than the automation part I had done pretty much everything…saving, investing (lifecycle funds, 401K and other investing), had BOA give me pretty much the highest interest rate at 1.75%, that I have heard of in the recent past….before reading your blog (started a month ago). I also went ahead and bought your book to figure out some missing links like….adding a Roth IRA and adding automation and a few others….I just finished the “saving while sleeping” chapter.

    So is this bootcamp for me?

  21. Chris


    Unless Ramit comes and tells us otherwise, from looking at the bootcamp page, it certainly doesn’t appear to be for us. Half of the entire time is spent “optimizing credit cards” , “negotiating fees”, and “opening a 401k”. Everyone who reads this blog should really have already done that stuff, but obviously the bootcamp is targeting lazy people who need an extra kick. On the other hand, there is a 30-day money back guarantee, but during those 30 days you’ll just hear all the same (good) advice about not paying fees and getting your credit cards set up right.

    Come on Ramit, prove us wrong! Or is it really just for lazy people?

    • Ramit Sethi

      Chris and Ajay, good question about whether this is for you. Let me give you my thoughts — I’m not going to give you a hard sell.

      If you’ve actually built a bulletproof system and everything is fully automated, you’ve cut costs down dramatically, you’re already using psychological techniques (or whatever) to control things like impulse purchases, and you’ve started to think about earning more and taken steps to do it, you may not need this. Basically, if you’re satisfied that your system is 85% of the way there, I’ve previously said you should get on with life and focus on other things, and I mean it.

      On the other hand, the Boot Camp might be helpful for you for these reasons:
      1. Even though I optimize nearly every aspect of my finances, I continue to find areas where I can improve (for example, I saved something like $300/year recently on contact lenses). I’ll take my learnings and distill them down in the Boot Camp.
      2. There will be other people who’ll share their insights, not just me, and I’ve learned some amazing techniques from iwillteach readers
      3. Entrepreneurship — I’ll be talking tactics and so will the guest speakers, each week, so if this interests you, check it out
      4. If you can’t find one or two things that make it worth it, just email me within 30 days and you can cancel and get your money back

      So there are my thoughts. And remember, we are cognitive misers, so whether it’s this or something else you spend your time on, you should pick the area that’s going to maximize your returns!

  22. Chris

    Ramit, thanks for the straightforward answer. My problem is that a lot of times I feel like I am maybe 60-75% of the way there, and then the boot camp emails and ad copy go talking about avoiding late fees opening 401ks, which seems like the first 25%. I suppose I’ll just have to decide whether the individual nuggets of wisdom that we haven’t seen before will be worth the cost.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Exactly. You, more than others, will have to be willing to wade through certain things you already know in order to find nuggets that are applicable to your life. If you decide to do this, the good news is that it sounds like my stuff has been useful to you in the past, which is a good sign of things to come. But again, it’s up to you what your tolerance is in search of new insights.

  23. Oleg Mokhov

    Hey Ramit,

    Maximize savings by doing life maximization. Analyze what is important to you, then focus on those activities while ruthlessly ignoring and cutting out the rest. That means eliminating any subscriptions and other stuff associated with them. You don’t need the activity in your life, so you certainly don’t need that magazine or gadget or whatever.

    Then, with more time and energy freed up to devote to doing the things that are important to you, you optimize them.

    Which tools and things you have help you to do what you enjoy? Which is the most effective plan/gadget/whatever that gives you most results? 80-20 those things, then optimize. Downgrade to a cheaper plan if you don’t need the Platinum Deluxe. If you don’t need BOTH gadget A and gadget B, see which one gives you most results and ditch the other one.

    By eliminating what you don’t need in life (and the associated paid items), and optimizing what is important to you, you not only maximize savings but your life too. You have more time and energy to enjoy what’s important, and you’re increasing your personal finance while you’re at it.

    Thanks for sharing these great stories,

  24. Jnny |

    Ok, I’ll admit it, I was a sceptic. My first thoughts on reading your book title was ” Great another self help book from an egotistically young wirter who got a lucky break”

    My apologies I was wrong.

    I watched you interview over at my good friend Cody’s website and I loved it. As I mentioned on his site,

    “Ramit comes across as an incredibly interesting and engaging, confident character that really knows his stuff. More importantly, in my opinion, he really lives and believes it and it’s ability to help others. He is the kind of guy I would enjoy spending time with and would trust, and all this from just a 20 minute video.

    Mate, would love to touch base with you at some point and will be following your blog. Might even get the book, 🙂

  25. Paul

    I’ve been a reader since the day when every post was on the landing page and there wasn’t any “Read more posts…” link at the bottom. Since then, I’ve automated my money and accumulated net $30k. This figure includes negatives for automated bill pay, etc.

    I live in a rural town in Hawaii, work from home, and am paid $70k/yr. I was able to cut my rent costs from 1200/mo down to 700, but assumed $200/mo extra in luxuries (cable tv, increase in elec. bill) to “compensate” emotionally. I negotiated down my car insurance, and stopped buying the new hotness. My 800 pound gorilla is the mainland-Hawaii round trip flight (avg ~ 1700 every time for 2 people) 2-3 times a year (~5k/yr in airfare).

    Ramit has always encouraged saving money on cheap, needless, or easily replicable stuff, and spending money on what counts TO YOU. I get to live out a dream for the price of an airline ticket because Ramit gave me the courage to pursue the impossible.

    If you’re a staffer, but the best in your team, your employer might allow you to work remotely if you insist. Try it if you dare.

  26. Christopher P


    I want to thank Ramit again. He offers good effective advice that does speak to some people and help them. I am familiar with Susan Orman (i’m sure there are many other names out there giving advice). Lot’s of the advice is common sense and i was doing it.

    But bottom line was that until i started visiting this site and eventually purchased his book i was not implementing change in the most effective way. I find Ramit to be a very genuine person and i like his style. It worked for me.

    I’m the Christopher P mentioned in this story. Ramit, his website and his book where the catalyst that helped me change my life. Will it do it for everyone. No. But if you are willing to try i think utilizing Ramit’s advice and guidance can help you change things for the positive.

    As an update. I now have my own business and work only for myself. My finances are in order, I hardly have to think about them, and i make my own hours.

    Keep up the good work.

  27. Deepak Gera

    hi ramit

    i’m from india and am an entrepreneur engaged with printing & advertising. I make around 25-30% net profit… is investment (for a return of 8-10%) makes sense for me ? instead i can invest money in my own business’s expansion and can fetch a return of minimum 20%… do you have any suggestions/programs for people doing own business ?

  28. Kevin@OutOfYourRut

    Ramit, this is really great! Not just that people are doing it, but how they’re doing it in detail.

    The cool thing is that each is doing it in a different way, so we can imagine working something out for ourselves that will fit with our own circumstances and preferences.

    You’re presentation leaves little room for excuses!

  29. Amy

    I have read about the thousands saved by the people using the tactics on the site; what I haven’t read is how much these people earn annually in order to save so much in the first place. Also, what is the cost of living in the area these people are from?

    I am disheartened because my take home pay will not allow me to save $14000 a year.

  30. Christopher P

    Hi Amy,

    Sometimes you can hit a wall when it comes to how much you can save. When that happens it turns into making more money. Ramit has some post on this site on ways people can do that.

    Without looking them up, some suggestions i remember reading involved selling things you may have around the house that you no longer use or need. Using your skills or learning new ones to make side money.

  31. Vas

    Congratulations to all those savers. Good job!

  32. Bobby

    Inspiring stories. I can do this.

  33. Rosa

    I love stories! Oh but could you include income in future case studies? It’d be helpful–saving $50K is great (and great job to everyone mentioned!) except it’s a much more attainable goal if you make more than $50k+/year range (vs the under $30k range) so it would be more helpful to see a bigger picture.

  34. Bobby

    Yes, that’s a good point. Can we see this for those of us who earn a more modest income?

  35. Cheryl Ann

    It’s interesting that so many think his advice is common sense. If it was, most Americans wouldn’t be drowning in debt.

    Not knowing these things doesn’t make people idiots. It makes them people too involved in their own lives; jobs, kids, marriages, school, etc, to spend hours searching on the internet for financial advice. He provides the information in a fast,easy to understand format. And I commend him for that.