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Nicole Victoria is many things: a mother, wife, money coach, realtor, TikTok creator, and financial literacy advocate, among other titles. She’s also a 30-year-old millionaire. Though Victoria lives and works in Canada, her current net worth equates to about $1,001,148 in US dollars.
This hasn’t always been her reality. “I did what I thought you were supposed to do: I went to university, I graduated with a huge student loan, then I got the corporate job,” she says. “I really thought I was going to have all the success, all the happiness, all of the wealth.”
However, she soon realized that simply earning money wasn’t providing her any of the triumphs she thought she’d have. After Victoria graduated from university, she was making CAD$50,000 a year, owed CAD$40,000 in student loans, and struggled to manage her money. She wasn’t investing, and her savings strategy didn’t amount to much more than seeing what was leftover at the end of the month.
She wound up spending more money on things that made her look successful, like designer items, without working towards any of the long-term goals she’d set for herself, like paying for her wedding, buying a house, or feeling financially secure enough to have kids.
“At that time I really was sad about not being able to reach those goals, but when I look back on it, I wasn’t even actually working towards them,” she says. “I was just kind of taking more of a ‘hope-wish-pray’ approach.”
“I thought, ‘Maybe the problem is I just need a promotion,'” she explains, thinking her financial struggles would disappear if she just made more money. But the people who made more than her didn’t seem happier, and they had all of the same problems: they struggled to get into the housing market; they struggled to manage their money.
“I realized that more money wasn’t going to solve my problems if I didn’t know how to use it, and that’s when I created this new model for myself, thinking, ‘You can be rich making $40,000 a year and broke making $100,000,’ and really it’s all about what you do with it.”
So Victoria began learning everything she could about personal finance. She repaid her debt, started investing, grew her net worth to over $1 million, and built the life she wanted.
She repaid her student loans using the debt avalanche method
When Victoria began paying down her debt, she used a method she created called the “ICE” method, which stands for illuminating, cutting costs, and education. The first step in the process is to illuminate your debt. “It’s about understanding how much you owe, what the interest rates are, and what the minimum payments are,” she explains.
Next, she cut costs. However, she didn’t minimize the things that brought her joy. Instead, she downsized payments all the payments she could. “One of my favorite ways to cut costs without changing your lifestyle is to negotiate,” she says. “I negotiate all of my bills twice a year, life insurance, internet, phone, all of that stuff.”
Finally, she educated herself. After learning about debt repayment strategies, Victoria paid down her debt using the avalanche method, which involves paying off debt with the highest interest rate first. “From a numbers perspective, it always makes more sense.”
She invested in the housing market and ETFs
“I didn’t wait until my loan was 100% paid off to start investing,” she says. “I believe the way you need to think about it is putting your money where it’s going to work hardest for you.”
Victoria began first by investing in the housing market. She bought her first home while still paying down her debt with the idea of wealth-building in mind. “I purchased in an area and in a building that I thought was undervalued that I knew would have higher levels of appreciation,” she says.
Instead of renting out the home, Victoria lived in it and waited while the value increased. “It wasn’t my main choice; it wasn’t the home of my dreams. It was the home I knew would help me achieve my dreams,” she says.
She ended up selling the home two years later and making roughly CAD$150,000 from the sale. In Canada, where Victoria lives, there is a primary residence tax exemption, so she didn’t pay taxes on the gains. She’s currently using this strategy again with the property she lives in now. “Most people don’t think of their own property as a way to make money.”
Victoria also invests in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). “I don’t look at buying individual stocks, I believe that’s gambling,” she says. “I just look at buying ETFs so that my money can make money for me.”
She lives below her means
Despite achieving millionaire status, Victoria still has goals she hopes to meet with her money. She wants to be work-optional so she can spend time with her family, and she never wants to have to do anything just for money.
“I think it’s really important when people are coming up with their financial goal is not to just have the number as a goal,” she says. Her financial goals have more to do with lifestyle, freedom, and convenience.
To reach these goals, she lives below her means and only spends money on the things that bring her true joy. “I spare no expense on my son,” she says, but she drives a Kia, shops at Walmart, and bought a house with a significantly lower mortgage than she was pre-approved for. She makes sure to enjoy life and spend on the things that bring her joy, but never go into excess.
Says Victoria, “I think the biggest thing people need to understand is finding what enough means to them.”