Pero I can do it too

How Long Does It Take To Build Wealth?: My Timeline And Lessons


Table of Contents

My wealth-building journey began because I wanted to get out of survival mode. I grew up moving a lot and seeing my parents stressed over money. I wanted to explore building a life where I could experience joy, rest, and freedom of choice.


It is expected to feel overwhelmed with all the money tips and rush to meet the goals. Reality quickly set in, and I realized building wealth takes time.


Here is the twelve-year timeline of my wealth-building journey:




Accrued debt: I applied for many credit cards to build my credit. I had 16 maxed-out credit cards and $30,000 in consumer debt in two years.


Emotional spending: I made a lot of purchases I could not afford. A few purchases were shopping at Forever 21, electronics, eating with friends, and a vacation. These were all things I did not need, and within two years, I started to feel the stress kick in for the first time. During this time, my relationship with my dad began to decline, and many of these purchases brought me temporary joy.


Takeaways: You can only start building your credit if you know the basics of managing your money.




Stressed AF over debt: I applied for credit cards because I wanted to do something positive: build my credit. I quickly learned that there was more to credit cards than I knew. I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck, so I committed to getting out of debt.


Personal finance education: I began to read blogs, attend money workshops at my local library, and research strategies to get out of debt. I quickly realized that I was learning from people who did not look like me or have a similar background, and the information I was learning did not work for me. I believed that it was not possible for me. After some time, I realized that giving up was not an option, and I kept going.


Increased income: I thought I would get out of debt if I increased my income. Well, I increased my income three times, and I was not successful in paying off debt. I needed to learn how to manage my money.


Takeaways: Increasing your income means you will get out of debt if you know how to manage your money. Learning to manage your current earnings is key to being ready once you increase your salary.




I saved money for a destination wedding: In December 2017, my boyfriend proposed! It was the first time I had thought about a wedding, and I wanted it to be memorable. We decided to have a two-year proposal and pay out of pocket for our destination wedding in Costa Rica and honeymoon in Japan and Bali. My debt repayment plan paused while I focused on the wedding.


Increased income: For the fourth time, I increased my income, and this time, I took time to ensure the salary increase was significant. In 13 months, I landed my job as an Executive Assistant and raised my income by $35,000. We had nine months until the wedding, and I was able to save $20,000 for the wedding.


Fun Why: I allowed myself to have fun during the two-year engagement because being restrictive never worked for me. My fun why to save $20,000 in 9 months was my destination wedding. Therefore, I was determined to cross the finish line! I had never been so motivated to reach a money goal before. The wedding took place in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, in December 2019.


Investing: This was my first job with a 401K! I did not know anything about investing, but I remember learning always to invest at least your employer’s match. Otherwise, you are leaving money on the table, and you best believe there was no way I would leave money on the table! I started investing 3% of my salary for the first time to earn my employer’s match, and that money was automatically invested in a target date fund.


Takeaways: You need a fun why to help you build the self-trust that you can reach your money goals despite your past experiences! What is your fun why, and what opportunities can you create for yourself?




Debt payoff: I came from the honeymoon to my debt, which was the reality check I needed. This time, I decided to tackle my debt by using the same strategies I used to save for my wedding. This time, I trusted that I knew what I was doing. If I could pay for my wedding, I could tackle my debt. My confidence was unshakable! By July 2021, I paid off $30,000 of debt. That was a year and a half, and I was over the moon!


Created a saving: I did not inflate my lifestyle, which made the most significant difference in my money journey, and I finally got ahead! I built a four-month emergency fund and saved money to move out of state. I have always wanted to leave San Francisco, slow down my life, and have many adventures. I did not have a date in mind for when I would move, but I wanted to be ready.


Invest: After paying off the debt, I had more disposable cash, so I increased my investment percentage from 3% to 10%. I trusted the process. I also changed my investments from a traditional 401K to a Roth 401 K.


Takeaways: The fastest way to build wealth is by increasing your income, spending in alignment, and knowing your worth. So, charge your worth! You do not need another degree to earn more; you must target higher-paying jobs.




Changed my lifestyle: Manifesting your dream life helps you get there faster! In December of 2021, I had a dream that I bought a house in Texas and was traveling back and forth from San Francisco to visit family and friends. I took it as a sign, started researching what state I wanted to move to, and my husband and I decided on Washington State. We flew in January 2022 to tour homes and fell in love with a house that weekend! We gave a down payment and signed the majority of the documents.


Healing inner child: I finally found myself more relaxed and at peace when I slowed down my life, and my environment was calmer. I took the time to amp up my therapy sessions and continue my inner child healing. I began to understand how important play is as an adult. Exploring new hobbies is my favorite thing! I enjoy coloring, gaming, gardening, paddle boarding, more sunsets, and walks with my pups.


Takeaways: Even if you do not have a date for one of your goals, it’s essential to start preparing in advance. Many financial goals require planning and preparation before action. You need to play and have fun, no matter how old you are! Your life should revolve around something other than paying off debt or saving.


2023 to now


Experienced a layoff: I am forever grateful for my past self, who decided to build an emergency fund that allowed me to not freak out due to my layoff. I decided to go full-time in my money coaching business and help women of color become confident with money and build a life they have never seen their families experience.


Investing: My investment portfolio grew to around $72,000. I cannot wait to reach $100,000 in investment finally! For now, if I do not invest another dollar, my $72,000 invested will grow to around $845,000 by the time I am 65 years old.


My future goals:


I allow myself to dream!


If money were not a factor, I would want to live for six months to a year in Italy and rent a farmhouse near a vineyard with my pups. I would fly with my dogs private to ensure they have an excellent flying experience. I also see myself spending a few months out of the year in Guatemala. My mom recently bought a home and plans to spend some of her time during her retirement in Guatemala.


I do not have to know all the answers right now about how I will achieve my goals. I can ensure that I maintain solid financial health and continue to make money moves.


My beliefs:

  • I trust that I am great at making money
  • I am great at negotiating salaries
  • I have a rich network, and I can always reach out
  • I find joy in the simple things in life
  • I trust myself that I have all the answers
  • I am a pro at asking for help and guidance
  • I have many skills I can monetize
  • My past does not define my present
  • I have a strong belief that I bring tremendous value to any company I work for


Notice how I did not do everything at once.


Doing one task was overwhelming enough, but I ensured to build the habit and get comfortable before adding a new task. It took me twelve years to be here, with many tears and failures. What is important is that you do not give up.


The wealth-building journey is for you, too, as a woman of color!


Remember, you’ve done more complicated things! You got this!


When we work together:

  • I help you build unshakable trust that you can achieve any money goal despite your background
  • I help you to finally achieve your money goals by choosing what works for you
  • I help you change your life trajectory, family, and future generations. You are capable of building generational wealth!


If this resonates with you, I invite you to work with me! You can change the trajectory of your life and build a life you have never seen your family experience. Book a sales call.


I cannot wait to be part of your journey!

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Orlenda Cortez

Welcome to my corner on the internet! I’m obsessed with using money as a tool because it led me to pay off $30K in consumer debt in a year and a half, helped me save $20K in nine months to have my dream wedding in Costa Rica and is helping me build the life I never saw my family experience. Now I want to help others do the same!

Orlenda Cortez
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