How much do you make? 📈 – Justin Barnett

Google Engineer making 300k/yr. Investing for Fat Fire across stocks, crypto, startups, & real estate. Last side hustle did $100k+ via Amazon FBA.

  • This week we spoke with Justin, a 27-year-old Software Engineer working at Google

  • He makes $300K/yr, invests across stocks, startups, crypto, and soon real estate

  • Made over $100K importing vacuum batteries and selling them through Amazon FBA

What’s your name and what do you do professionally?

My name is Justin and I’m a software engineer at Google. I make roughly $300K per year. I used to have a more substantial side hustle but currently, I rake in about $2K per year from side income.

Walk us through your background. school, career, etc.

I went to the University of Illinois. Before I graduated, I took a three-year hiatus to work with startups. I moved out to LA and worked for a few companies as a consultant and then I tried to launch my own software businesses. I launched one but ultimately it didn't get very far.

So I started looking for other sources of income that I could work on without going back to school or getting a full-time job.

I started experimenting with online distribution and got into Amazon FBA when it was still relatively early and I found a few products that worked. One of the ones that worked really well was this generic vacuum battery that I began importing. I worked with a factory and put my own blueprints together for the product.

I imported the batteries from China and built a working supply chain and managed to sell 5,000 units per year which translated to about $100K in sales.

It ultimately came to an end during covid because of supply-chain issues. I then decided to take the opportunity to finish my degree, started interviewing again, and landed a SWE job at Amazon. This was my first major software job and I worked there for about a year and a half before joining Google.

Switching topics now, can you walk us through your monthly spending living in NYC?

Together with RollFi

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What is your current asset allocation, and why?

I currently have most of my savings in public stocks across my brokerage account and retirement savings.

  • 38% of my net worth is in retirement accounts (i.e 401k, IRA, etc.)

  • 31% in my brokerage which consists of individual stocks and ETFs

  • 22% in cash

  • 4% in crypto

  • 5% in private investments (i.e. angel investments in early-stage tech startups)

Of the 31% in my brokerage account:

  • 75% is in a few large-cap stocks and ETFs

  • 20% in growth stocks (i.e. companies with market caps between $20 and $60 billion)

  • 5% is where I do riskier investments such as options trading and small-cap stocks 

How do you find and evaluate small-cap stocks?

I go for companies that I like and for good businesses that are trading at what I consider to be a discount. I also find the small caps by just looking around and seeing companies that make me go “hey, this company is really cool, I want to buy this company.”

Also worth noting is that I try to take a quantitative approach to my investing. Whenever I make a trade, I try to gauge the risk against my entire portfolio and I try to not take more than a potential 2% hit to my portfolio. So, anytime I make a trade, at most, the downside would not affect my portfolio value by more than 2%.

What's your strategy or philosophy for saving and investing your money?

I want to be as risky as I can while still being able to sleep at night. I also don't want to obsess about money to the point where I'm stressed if a huge market downturn happens.

My long term goals are to diversify and move some of my assets into real estate. So, I’m trying to construct my portfolio such that it will likely hold value reasonably well in a market downturn and also grow as markets recover.

Regarding real estate, as I said, I want to get more exposure to that asset class, so I’m building a pretty large cash position that will go towards a down payment.

I’m also planning on utilizing a 401K loan to help finance my initial down payment.

Tell us more about your real estate ambitions.

I'm in the process of looking for an investment property in the south. I want something that can reliably cash flow and is in a region that is growing that I can eventually leverage into buying more.

It’s first and foremost an investment, but I like the idea of being able to live on the property if I wanted. I also like the freedom of owning property and the control that comes with that.

Currently, I'm looking at single-family housing, either a townhouse or just a single-family residence. I’m looking for a good multifamily in [redacted city in the South]. So if one comes up I may spring for it.

What’s your investing and financial tech stack?

  • Interactive Brokers – primary brokerage account. I also have been considering moving some money to Charles Schwab.

  • Vanguard – for retirement.

  • Coinbase – crypto

  • Discover – for their high-yield savings account (3.3%)

  • Mint and Tiller HQ – spend and budget tracking. Tiller HQ allows you to download everything in spreadsheets in easy-to-use formats.

  • First Republic and Chase – bank accounts. With First Republic you get a personal banker that works with you who you can call/text/email. And, I believe that if you have a relationship with them you can get pretty decent mortgage discounts.

  • Google Finance and Yahoo Finance – public market news and research

  • H&R Block – tax prep.

Books or podcasts?



You’ve also been creating content on personal finance, investing, & careers. Where should people follow you?

Yes. I’ve been making more content on my youtube channel Tech Pastry. I mostly talk about careers in SWE, personal finance, and investing.

What do you know now that you wish you had known 3 years ago when it comes to personal finance & investing? (any mistakes made?)

Cash is king. It’s very good to have cash on hand. I actually can’t stress enough how nice it is to have a cash position. It gives you more confidence to make risky decisions.

At what age did you first start learning about money and investing?

I started dabbling in high school – Had side hustle money and then had a friend that traded during class who got me into it. He’s actually a full-time trader now.

I’m also studying for the Series 65 to get a broader perspective on investing.

Financial Goals – In 10, 20, or 30 years, how will you know you made it financially? Do you have a number you’re trying to hit? How do you plan to achieve that?

In 3 years I want 3 or 4 rental properties, grow my net worth to at least $1M, and work on new income streams.

My long-term goal is to Fat FIRE (financially independent, retire early).

You hit Fat FIRE, how do you spend your time?

I would get my pilot's license, travel, and continue to create content.

Disclosure: the content contained herein is not financial or investment advice.