How I made my first $100k

- 7 mins cosmin

That’s so clickbaity! I hope it will generate lots of traffic. I promise this is not the how to get rich kind of blog post, although I’ll definitely write one about that after I become a millionaire and will sell you that for $99.99.

My exams are over, I officially ended my first year as a Master’s student at EPFL and, of course, I’ll follow-up with an article on how that went, but today I got pretty excited since I realized how much I achieved so far in 2019 and I want to share that here.

I’m a Morning Brew active reader. For those who don’t know, they are a daily newsletter with news mostly from Wall Street. They also have different games (such as guessing the price of a real estate or guessing the headline of a fake article) and they are really really fun to read, I RECOMMEND THEM TO ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN BUSINESS AND INVESTING $$$.

Now, from time to time they do special stuff. For example, at the end of 2018, they asked the readers what are their new year’s resolution. At that time, I had four goals in mind for 2019:

  1. Continue to go to the gym regularly and build that Greek God physique
  2. Pass most of my exams with good grades
  3. Earn my first $100k
  4. Invest in US stocks and bonds

Today, midway through 2019, they sent me a reminder about these goals that I set at the beginning of the year. I was really shocked (and happy) that I achieved 3 of them (so 75% performance so far), and the last one left is pretty easy given the fact that I have 6 more months to go.

Morning Brew resolutions

So, let me go through each of them and show how I achieved them.

Going to the gym

Last summer, when I started my internship at Google, I committed to a 5 days workout program and started hitting the gym regularly. When I moved to Switzerland I continued this habit, but I changed my routine to a 7 days program. Yes! I went to the gym every day, with only a few exceptions (such as when I was travelling, had exams or felt really sick). I’m really proud that it’s been one year since I’m consistently hitting the gym, and the results are obvious. If you don’t believe me, check out my Instagram: I have half-naked pictures (give me the validation and attention I need please please - just kidding).

This is me at the beginning of July 2018:

Body in July 2018

This is me at the end of June 2019:

Body in June 2019

Different body, same trust issues.

Pass most of my exams

Now, let me explain to you how hardcore life at EPFL is. I can’t! My friends can only confirm how much I told them I’m stressed, how many homework I had to do and how much time and energy you have to put in JUST TO PASS a course with the lowest possible grade (4 out of 6). I actually have all my homework here if you are curious.

All the results for the second semester are not out yet, but I feel quite confident they won’t be that bad. In the first semester, I only failed one exam, which I obviously knew I was going to fail because I didn’t have time to fully prepare. The course was Statistics for Data Science, which was a really hard course given the fact that I haven’t solved an integral since my first year of Bachelor’s, so I was out of shape at math. Nevertheless, I got approximately ~25 credits out of the ~30 that I aimed for at the beginning of the first semester, so I guess this goal can also be checked since I clearly used the word most.

Earn my first 100k

Okay, I gotta admit that when I wrote this down, I was a little bit skeptical about it, given the fact that I was already so busy studying, and the living cost in Switzerland is very high. However, I did it, and I actually just increased the goal to $200k (✅) by the end of this year (which I believe it’s doable given the projects I have right now).

Disclaimer: The reason I’m sharing this (besides flexing, obviously!) is that I started from nothing - no external investments, no money from parents, with a $400 old laptop, no specific skills, and no relevant experience, and I wanna prove that it’s doable and everyone can achieve it. Now, you might also be skeptical that I actually did it, and I won’t try very hard to prove it, but if you don’t trust me, you can see the revenue and profit of my company here in 2018. For 2019, you’ll have to wait until next year. Btw, that’s a cool tool to stalk other companies based in Romania as well.

For some of you, this amount might not mean very much (there’s not much you can do with $100k, really), but for me, it was a real challenge, and my goal to become a self-made millionaire is now 10% achieved lol.

How I did it?

Well, 35k I got from doing internships at big companies like Amazon and Google (although I gotta admit most of that I got from Google). I don’t think I can tell you the exact salary I have had since that’s confidential, but you can check out Glassdoor. I can tell you the salaries are close to reality.

I earned the rest as an independent contractor (freelancer) for different companies from the US. I worked for Loomni, One Step Software, NLV Productions, NXT Sports, SH Technologies, Abundance Digital, Healing Medical, Mochila Fulfillment, and Med Prep.

There’s nothing really special about how I found those clients. Some of them came organically from the website of my agency, Duty Labs. I got some of them from referrals (friends refer me when they hear somebody in need of software development services), and the others came from Toptal, which is a community of freelancers that help you easily find projects. They screen all their clients and freelancers and, as a result, they are very professional.

Invest in US stocks and bonds

Now, I gotta admin. I failed this one. But, I still have 6 months to go and I already have a plan of action. I did, however, invest in Romanian companies: I bought stocks at Banca Transilvania and the only existent Romanian ETF, TVBETETF. Those investments are doing pretty well, with BT up ~35% and the index fund ~15%, although they were down more than 20% at some point - I’m more like the long term investor tho.

The main reason I failed this is simple: I didn’t have an international broker until May. I just opened an account at Corner Trader, and so now I’m ready to invest internationally as well ❤. However, I feel like everything is very pricey right now, and there is a lot of uncertainty given the trade war, so I’m waiting for a market correction or recession before buying a considerable amount of stocks.

What’s next

Oh well, clearly I gotta raise the bar for the last part of 2019. I plan to scale the business to more clients and work with other like-minded persons to build even more products and help more clients with their ideas. I still have to continue going to the gym. And I want to read more about management and product development.

Closing thoughts

First, If you’ve read so far, you’re awesome! I hope you’ve learned from my achievements and failures. I hope your goals are also doing well and you are on track to achieve all of them.

Second, if it happens that you’re a programmer and want to try a freelancing career, I want to tell you that I’m preparing a guide on how to become a successful software engineer freelancer. If you’re interested, subscribe to my mailing list and you’ll be the first one to get notified when I launch that!

Make sure you come back in about one month to check out the next scheduled post about my experience in Switzerland, as a student!


Cosmin-Ionuț Rusu

Cosmin-Ionuț Rusu

A simple action-taker who likes to just do stuff

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