How I Became a Millionaire by Age 30

Becoming a millionaire is a dream many people have when they are young. Just imagine what this life would be like. I do this on a daily basis. What car would I buy, what country will I visit next?

Luckily, I am blessed to know a millionaire. In fact, he is a good blogging friend that shares his own journey every Monday and Thursday over at The Green Swan. GS is a banker and took the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions that can help us all understand the journey it took to become a millionaire. Remember, this does not happen overnight.

I encourage you to read this post with an open mind. Rather than thinking, “I can’t do that, or gee that must be nice,” think about the journey and what he sacrificed to get to this stage. I firmly believe everybody can become a millionaire with proper savings habits so I hope you enjoy his advice as much as I did!

Let’s answer the question everybody wonders, what does it feel like to be a millionaire?

It feels good, no doubt about it. It is a milestone I’ve been looking at for quite a while and it is nice to finally have hit it. But it isn’t the end goal, so I realize there is still some wood to chop before Lucy (my wife) and I are FI. I still recall the day I realized we eclipsed a million, so that says how meaningful it was… Although my wife and I work within walking distance, our jobs prohibit us from getting together for lunch often. But we happened to have a lunch planned that day and when I told my wife we both smiled, cheers each other, and then the conversation meandered on. It was memorable for that reason…it’s important but not the end-all be-all.

How do you typically spend your Time?

Unfortunately I spend a lot of my time at work. A usual week can be about 55-60 hours working. When I get home shortly after though, it’s family time. My wife and I then prepare or reheat a quick dinner with our two year old. After dinner we usually have about 30 minutes of play time which will rotate among building blocks, toy cars and airplanes, and throwing around baseballs or footballs. If it is bath night (for junior…) we’ll squeeze that in there along with reading a pile of books and then he’s down.

After that is our time together where we’ll work out, watch a show, or sometimes, unfortunately, we have a bit more work to complete so we log back on from our home office.

Our workdays are pretty compact, but the weekends revolve primarily around junior. We’ll try to get outside, have some playdates / dinners with neighbors, and also get done with our usually household chores. Life is busy, but just like most everyone, we work for the weekends!

Many people only attribute your success with a number, what struggles did you have to get to this point?

Oh tough question! Looking back now, there have been a number of struggles.  The biggest of which is constantly trying to prove my worth to my employer. Whether that is justifying a larger bonus, or working toward the next promotion, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy of improving my worth to my employer, learning new things, and positioning myself for future growth and experiences. That has been a constant struggle for me, but it has also clearly been my biggest driver of success.

Do you feel different having the status of millionaire? Why?

Not really. I’d go back to the day I realized I was a millionaire, my wife and I acknowledged it, but not much else has changed. And that is simply because we haven’t reached our mountain top yet. We still work hard to earn our salaries, we still look for ways to save and control expenses, and we still invest for further growth.

Also, since no other close family or friends know that we’ve reached this milestone, it is almost like the old saying of if a tree falls in the forest when no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I think I’ll have a different, and great feeling, when we hit FI. At that point, the monkey will be off our back and we can focus on living life to the fullest! <– This is what achieving Financial Independence is all about!

How has life changed for you after realizing you have all this money?

We do have a decent amount of money now, but it isn’t really burning a hole in my pocket. It still feels remote and tucked away for a future day. So life has been status quo since we’ve reached that milestone. That may be surprising to hear, but I think it is because I still feel the pressure. The pressure comes from all over and at any moment could change our fortunes. For instance, the economy and stock market could hurt if we fall into a recession and also Lucy and I have a growing family and part of that means putting extra money aside for college education and ensuring a supportive upbringing for the kiddos.

Since we know we haven’t reached FI yet, we’ll continue to keep our heads down and plug away.

What is the best financial advice you ever had?

The best financial advice I was ever given was to invest early. I had a role model to look up to, and that was my older brother. I basically followed his lead in everything in life which helped me get a jumpstart on a number of things. But investing early was the best advice I got from him. And as such, much of my summer job earnings in high school went into a Roth IRA and the stock market. That not only helped build strong habits, but also allowed my early investments to start their compounding journey, helping to lead me where I am today.

What are your thoughts on investing and what age did you begin?

This question is right on queue after the last one! I began investing in high school after my first summer job. I’ve taken a passive role in my investments. I actively monitor them and ensure appropriate diversification, but otherwise every dollar I invest is a pretty easy decision by throwing it into one of my stock mutual funds, most of which are index funds. And I’m an equity guy, I believe in equities more than any other type of security given their long track-record of unmatched success. It gives me the best bet to grow my retirement accounts…and since I’m still working (not retired yet) growth is my primary goal. Yes, there is volatility, but that is irrelevant for me since I’m investing for the long-term. <– Invest for the future, not for tomorrow.

What are your financial aspirations?

Ultimately, I want to grow my investments to the point where I don’t have to worry or think about my financial condition anymore.  I don’t have a firm number or anything at this point, partly because Lucy and I have not decided on all our life goals yet. For example, we know we want more than one kid, but not sure if we’ll go for three or more. That’ll certainly change the picture and what our target number is.

But generally, I aspire to reach Financial Independence (FI) ASAP! I want to spend as much time as I can with my kids, with my parents and siblings, and traveling the world with Lucy. Life has a lot to offer and I can’t start enjoying it to the fullest until I’m FI.

What books or influencers changed your life from a financial or personal standpoint?

I really like this question because while it is nice for Lucy and I to say we are millionaires, we totally recognize the fact that we couldn’t have reached this point without the help and facilitation of many others. For me, from both a financial and personal perspective, my biggest influencers have been my Dad and my older brother. They both served as great role models and mentors for me. No doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without them.

Some of the most influential books I read in my formative years were many, if not all, of Ken Blanchard’s books. A lot of his books were career oriented which ultimately led to my financial success. The other author I read a lot of was Robert Kiyosaki who wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad. This was perhaps the first personal finance oriented book I read which had a very positive influence on me and my finance goals. The last one I would throw out there that I really enjoyed reading was The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham. While I don’t pick my own stocks or practice what Mr. Graham preaches, it was a very educational book and I value the lessons he provides.

If you had to give one piece of advice to aspiring millionaires who read this blog, what would it be?

I’ll go with a baseball analogy here…aspiring millionaires should focus on hitting singles and doubles. Being able to hit singles and doubles and getting folks on base is what wins baseball games. It’s a long game, there are nine innings, to be able to last to the end and win the game you have to hit singles and doubles well.

I think the same approach translates nicely for reaching millionaire status. Consistently doing all the little things right, working hard for the extra dollar (side hustles included), cutting back and controlling expenses, and saving everything you can is what will allow you to win the millionaire game.

Babe Ruth, known as the most prolific home run hitter, hit 714 home runs in his career…but struck out 1,330! Alternatively, Ted Williams, known as the greatest hitter to ever live, had 2,654 hits and only 709 strike outs in his career. Focus on getting hits, the singles and doubles, not home runs. Don’t go swinging for the fences expecting to hit the jackpot because more often than not you will strike out.

The other advice I would give your readers, is to keep reading your blog, The Millennial Budget! I’ve thoroughly enjoy doing so and your readers will continue to benefit from the great advice you share. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to share my story!

Final Thoughts

First off I want to thank GS for going into such depth with each answer. We both have similar philosophies on many topics which made this a great read. I tried to highlight some of the many important thoughts he shared throughout the post to make it easier on the reader. One thing I want to point out is that he works for a company. Often times many people say you need to own your own company and not work for somebody else’s benefit. While this can be a great accelerator of wealth, it is not the only way to accrue money.

If you want to improve your financial situation, I highly recommend you check out the books he mentioned. Like Green Swan said, always strive to improve yourself. Never settle for where you are or how wealthy you may be. I look forward to my continual reading of his blog and soaking in every piece of advice he gives on a weekly basis.

Readers:

What advice surprised you?

How do you plan to implement his advice?

22 comments… add one
  • Dividends Down Under Oct 6, 2016, 6:20 am

    Really nice interview guys.

    It was very pleasing to read the credit that The Green Swan gave others and his circumstances for how well he’s done – though of course it’s taken a huge amount of work and financial attitude to get there too.

    There’s a lot of great advice in some of these answers. He’s right, we’re not taking one GIANT step to financial independence, or $1M, it’s lots of little steps. $1,000 steps or even $100 steps at a time.

    I love the sound of your time with your family. You sound like a really nice unit.

    Good luck with the rest of your financial goals and having 10 children (or maybe a few less 🙂 ).

    Tristan
    Dividends Down Under recently posted…Saving for the future: September 2016My Profile

  • The Green Swan Oct 6, 2016, 6:24 am

    It was my pleasure to share a few thoughts, I hope your readers find it insightful. Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Stefan!
    The Green Swan recently posted…The Swan Life: September 2016My Profile

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 6, 2016, 9:15 am

      Thanks for sharing your insights! I am sure they were extremely helpful to many readers.

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich Oct 6, 2016, 8:29 am

    Great interview! Thanks so much for sharing your insights and experience, GS!

    “We do have a decent amount of money now, but it isn’t really burning a hole in my pocket. It still feels remote and tucked away for a future day. ” This is a crucial point. Investing early is huge, but not thinking about it as money that’s available on a whim is so important too.

    As a fellow blogger reading about your schedule, I am left wondering when you possibly find time to blog!? 🙂
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Debt Free Story: How one family became debt free living in the most expensive city in the U.S.My Profile

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 6, 2016, 9:15 am

      Same thing I was wondering! Lot of determination for sure.

    • The Green Swan Oct 6, 2016, 9:59 am

      Really, I find time randomly. If I can fit in a lunch break I’ll try to blog some then, but otherwise a little in the evenings (after the little one goes to bed) and on the weekends (during naps, etc.). I have to admit, blog has been much more time-intensive than I was initially expecting. It’s definitely a challenge to keep all the balls in the air sometimes.

      Thanks Amanda!
      The Green Swan recently posted…The Swan Life: September 2016My Profile

  • Financial Panther Oct 6, 2016, 10:08 am

    Boy, wish I had known you back in the day. Since I knew nothing about investing, I wasted everything I earned from 16 years old until around 26 years old. Didn’t save a single penny. Didn’t invest a single penny. Always wish I could’ve gone to my self back then and set up a Roth IRA, like you did.
    Financial Panther recently posted…Net Worth Report – Q3 (2016)My Profile

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 6, 2016, 2:32 pm

      If there was any advice I could give to somebody who worked a summer job or had the ability to save during college it would be investing into a Roth IRA as soon as possible!

  • Jon @ Be Net Worthy Oct 6, 2016, 11:41 am

    That was a really nice interview and like many of the others, I’m wondering where you find the time to blog! I particularly like the baseball analogy and agree wholeheartedly. It’s all about consistently hitting those singles and doubles and avoiding too many strikeouts.

    You have a higher probably of winning the “game” if you take it slow and steady.
    Jon @ Be Net Worthy recently posted…How to Pay (or Not Pay) Taxes Like TrumpMy Profile

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 6, 2016, 2:33 pm

      That was a great analogy GS used. Taking things in small steps rather than looking at the final goal is what will ultimately determine success. It is too easy to lose your way trying to achieve something 10,15,20 years out.

  • Jack @ Enwealthen Oct 6, 2016, 2:00 pm

    Given my wife and I have a prenup, and have some joint finances, and some separate, I hadn’t considered us as a financial unit until just now. Together, we’re well north of $1MM, but until we relocate and merge our finances more completely via primary and rental real estate purchases, it’s not been on my mind.

    Thanks for the reminder!
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted…Why Do Banks Charge What They Charge, Pay What They Pay, And Generally Act Like Banks?My Profile

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 6, 2016, 2:34 pm

      Perhaps you could be my second millionaire interview 🙂

  • Matt @ Optimize Your Life Oct 6, 2016, 2:25 pm

    Nice interview, fellows. I always enjoy when bloggers interact like this because you get parts of the story that may not naturally come out on their own site.

    Putting summer job money in a Roth IRA in high school is really impressive. I think all of my summer job money went to gas for my car or CDs for my walkman.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Spending for Maximum HappinessMy Profile

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 6, 2016, 2:35 pm

      Imagine what that money could have been used for. I was in the same position except we do not even have these funds in Trinidad so this is not on my mind until I came to America and took a course senior year. All those PS4 games I bought and barely played could have amounted to a couple thousand now!

    • The Green Swan Oct 7, 2016, 9:39 am

      Haha yes, the old Walkman! I certainly had a few discretionary purchases as well, but tried to save the vast majority. Thanks for the comment, Matt!
      The Green Swan recently posted…The Swan Life: September 2016My Profile

  • Mustard Seed Money Oct 6, 2016, 8:41 pm

    I love the analogy of trying to hit singles and doubles especially with investments. Too often I have friends try to find home run stocks to invest in. However, these are almost always risky and have the boom or bust factor. Too often they have struck out and truthfully I don’t have a single friend that has hit a home run that has allowed them to retire. In the meantime I’ve been hitting singles and doubles my whole investment career (with a couple of strike outs, nobody is perfect) but I am closer to my FIRE goal!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…How Finances and Health are RelatedMy Profile

    • The Green Swan Oct 7, 2016, 9:40 am

      Absolutely! I have a few friends that have tried to hit home runs and I just never thought it was worth the effort. You may get some winners, but you’ll get some losers too and in the meantime I’ll just keep plugging away with my singles and doubles!
      The Green Swan recently posted…The Swan Life: September 2016My Profile

  • Shaina McGregor Oct 8, 2016, 11:29 pm

    Congrats! I too look up to my older sister who prompted me to invest early. Would you say it is better to invest in individual stocks or in mutual funds like Vanguard’s VTSMX or VTSAX?

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 9, 2016, 9:22 am

      Hey Shaina,

      I think the average person is better off investing in VTSAX than individual stocks. Many people think they can beat the market and many fail.

  • Your First Million Oct 10, 2016, 10:21 am

    Awesome post! Achieving $1 million net worth by age 30 is certainly possible and people do it all the time! I think the key is getting started very early! Just as the writer stated “I began investing in high school after my first summer job.” I would venture to say that most people are not thinking about investing at this age, so becoming a millionaire by 30 would seem way too hard for them, but in reality it is possible. I agree with everything in this post. The only difference with me is that I like to take an active role in my investments, rather than a passive role. I would rather continue to acquire small multifamily properties that provide solid cash flow every month and capital appreciation over time than invest in anything like a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA or any other type of retirement savings account. I come from the mindset of Robert Kiyosaki that “savers are losers.” Now I do save money, but I save money to be invested into real estate. Once I have enough money for the down payment on a property then I make my move and start all over once I buy it. I don’t like leaving money invested in stocks, bonds, index funds, mutual funds, ETFs or whatever. If you can’t control it, you don’t own it is what I always said. I want complete control of my money and my assets at all times, and real estate gives me this freedom.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 10, 2016, 10:35 am

      That is a very interesting perspective and something I can get behind. The stock market certainly has a lot of uncertainty, especially in the short term. While I certainly will be investing in a 401(k) to get the free employer match, real estate is something I am actively pursuing. My goal is to get my first property before the age of 30. Use all of its profit to go towards another property and so on. Real estate is tried and tested and you know exactly how much to expect every month which is a great benefit. If you have any tips I would love to know!

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