Frugality Turns to Financial Growth: The Carly DeFelice Story

Carly DeFelice was raised with a family budget in place. The product of parents who owned a struggling business, DeFelice saw her parents rely on coupons and a strict monthly budget. Following their lead, she saved nearly every dollar she made from side gigs such as babysitting and refereeing soccer games. However, in 2007, everything changed.

The Mercedes Benz Mishap

Despite her strict savings habits, DeFelice found herself with $63,000 in income in 2007 and a $500-per-month bonus towards a new car from her company. Seemingly on top of the world, DeFelice purchased a white Mercedes-Benz, signing up for 60 monthly payments of $560. However, when her employer went bankrupt, bringing in an unexpected plot twist, DeFelice lost her job, leaving her with about $29,000 in remaining car payments.

Learning from Mistakes

After this financial setback, DeFelice realized that she didn’t want to look wealthy; she wanted to truly build wealth. By living below her means and investing in herself, DeFelice managed to overcome her debt, paying down $35,000 worth of debt and building a $100,000 portfolio by age 26. She of course continued living below her mean though, and in place of a luxury car, DeFelice owns a paid-off SUV and a camper in Austin.

Financial Turning Point

DeFelice was later met with a scarce job market after graduating college in December 2008. With professor aid, DeFelice was able to make the most of her summers, leading her to a breakthrough in 2012 when she started a financial crash course. Furthermore, DeFelice began to understand how to live below her means, discovering “Coast FIRE” at age 26 shortly after funding her portfolio. Despite her switch to entrepreneurship, DeFelice’s trajectory has continued to rise.

A Life Reflecting Values

In 2019, DeFelice experienced burnout and a difficult personal moment. After selling everything she owned for a sabbatical, she and her camper embarked on a journey up and down the West Coast. She chose to move back to Austin after finding a sense of community and belonging. Today, due to her previous financial mistakes and smart investing choices, DeFelice leads a comfortable lifestyle that reflects her own values. Her story proves that it is not about how much you make, but how you save and what you do with it that counts.