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Navy dentist, 32, saves $750,000, aims to retire by age 42

Posted at 8:32 AM, Jun 09, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- At 32 years old, Navy dentist Lu Wang has over $750,000 saved and is planning to retire in 10 years.

"We don't tend to discuss finances, it's a little on the taboo side; I don't know why," said Wang.

Her path to savings started as a child watching her parents.

"I saw them struggle quite a bit growing up and knew I didn't want to live that way. It was so much stress at the end of the month to see if we could put food on the table or pay the rent," Wang described.

She said her dad always stressed the importance of saving and investing.

By the time college came around, scholarships were a must because Wang didn't want to carry debt.

"My family wasn't well off at the time, so I didn't want to put additional pressure on them worrying about how to pay for college," Wang said.

She applied and received a few scholarships, including a full ride thanks to her academic achievements.

Wang was studying to be a dentist when a military representative spoke to her class urging students to take advantage of dental graduate school in the Navy. Wang signed up shortly after.

"I utilized the GI Bill to pay for school, and then I invested the salary,” said Wang.

That's when the savings piled up and she began researching stocks and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). She's now a Naval dentist sitting close to $1 million, with her sights set to retire by 42.

Budgeting, she described, has also been a key player.

Wang spends about $250 a month on food, and she explained, "What's the dollar average per meal for me … so if I have a nice steak dinner, then I know for the next couple meals I need to eat cheaply to balance it out.”

About 90 percent of her clothing is second-hand, and as far as subscriptions like Hulu or Netflix go, you can count those out.

"I always thought I don't spend much on entertainment, but the numbers don't lie,” Wang said.

A recent survey by Lending Club Corporation stated close to one-third of Americans earning six figures live paycheck to paycheck.

Wang can proudly say that with hard work, budgeting, and sacrificing the small things, she and others don't have to be part of that statistic.

"Saving is a great habit but it won't take you far in the long haul if you're trying to reach a hard number to retire on," Wang concluded.