10 Habits That Made Me a Millionaire at 27

by J. Money - Last updated November 21, 2014

one million dollars

[Happy Monday guys :) Thought we’d start it off right this week with a pretty kick-ass article from my old friend Anton. Last time he shared with us his money lessons from growing up in the former USSR, and now – a year later – he’s officially a millionaire and shares how he achieved this. How many of these habits are you currently doing?]

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UPDATE: According to Yahoo! Finance, it looks like Anton lied about a few things here… Very sad thing to learn (and he has not responded to my personal email out to him). Here’s the story, along with my thoughts: The Millionaire [Liar] Next Door

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Earlier this year, shortly before my 27th birthday, I became a millionaire. It wasn’t a sudden thing and I pretty much expected it, but it felt absolutely awesome nevertheless. Checking your Mint account and seeing a cool $1 million net worth is a great way to start a morning!

What still bugs me a little, however, is the way people perceive millionaires and especially what they think about how people like me became financially successful. They always seem to be looking for some secret formula or hot stock tip that will make them rich overnight. When I tell them that I made my money through a lot of hard work, self-discipline and sacrifices they usually seem disappointed.

I can’t really think of a single thing I did that was the magic key to my success. Instead, it was a combination of daily tasks, habits and principles that helped me grow my net worth year after year.

I wanted to share 10 of these habits that I think were especially important:

1. Setting Detailed and Actionable Goals

I realize that talking about goals is really cliché. Pretty much every single “how to be successful” book I’ve ever read talked about goals at one point or another.

Well you know what? I am a testament that goals really do work! I would consider myself a goalaholic because at any given time I have over 180 or so that I’m actively working on. I started setting them just for my finances, but now do it for all areas in life.

My goals give me motivation, keep me on track and help me track my progress. I look at them every day and they help me make decisions both big and small. And most importantly – they give me a vision for the future.

2. Religiously Tracking My Net Worth

I consider net worth to be the ultimate metric of financial success. I’m really not that impressed by how much people make, but I will listen to somebody who has a high net worth.

I’ve been tracking mine since I was a teenager. I did everything I could to increase it by double digit percentages every single year and for the most part, I’ve been successful in doing so.

If you’ve never calculated you net worth, it may be a huge reality check. I’ve met tons of people who have 6-figure salaries and a net worth of less than $100,000.

3. Having the Discipline to Save 60% of My Income

You don’t necessarily need a high paying job to grow your wealth (although it sure helps!). What you do need, however, is the discipline to not spend all of the money you make. The greater your savings rate, the faster you will grow your wealth and the sooner you will be able to retire.

My actual goal is to save at least 50% of my income each month. I tend to exceed this and come closer to 60% most of the time. It’s not easy if you are used to spending a lot of money, but if you work up to it over time, it’s doable for just about anyone.

Other than just pure discipline, there are two things that especially help me save this much:

4. Avoiding Expensive Things

There is nothing wrong with shopping for the best wireless service company or trying to save money on your grocery bill. But you know what I’ve noticed? It’s the big things that tend to kill most people.

I have a friend at work who is an expert at our local gas prices. I don’t know where he gets his info, but he always seems to know where the cheapest gas is. Sounds like he is a frugal type, right? Well, he then turns around and spends thousands of dollars on new gold clubs and memberships! What sense does that make?

I’ve always tried to avoid expensive things. I don’t play golf, I don’t go to fancy restaurants, I don’t buy expensive clothes and I don’t stay at 5-star resorts twice a year. I live a simple life and devote more time to people instead of things. Try it, you might just like it :)

5. Always Paying Myself First

Believe it or not, I’m not a fan of monthly budgets at all. I haven’t followed a strict budget for years.

It’s not that I don’t think they are sexy, but I’ve found them to be too inflexible. It’s all good when your expenses stay exactly the same month after month, but that rarely happens. So you end up reworking your budget from month to month, going over your limits and feeling like you failed.

Instead, I pay myself first. Paying yourself first basically sets the priority of what you do with your money each month:

  1. You get paid
  2. You transfer money to your savings or investment accounts
  3. You pay your bills
  4. You only spend what is left

This system has helped me follow through with my savings goals because I take care of them first. My spending, on the other had, comes last and by that time there isn’t much money left to spend anyway. Plus I have full flexibility as far as what to spend it on, which works for me.

6. Completely Avoiding Consumer Debt

I can honestly say that I’ve never got charged credit card interest, I’ve never had an auto loan, a furniture loan, an electronics loan, a payday loan or any other type of consumer debt. I just don’t buy anything on credit. I either have the money in my bank account to pay cash, or I don’t buy it.

It’s that simple.

I do in fact use my credit cards to take advantage of their reward programs and to build my credit, but I pay off my balance in full at the end of each week so I never get charged interest.

This takes a good amount of discipline (it’s always easier to spend money you don’t actually have!), but avoiding consumer debt has saved me a ton of money on interest and has helped me live below my means.

I should make a quick note here about mortgages. I do in fact have two of them on my two rental properties. I’m a firm believer that you can get a much higher return on your investments in real estate if you are diligent in doing your research. And that’s a big if, mind you. It’s very easy to get yourself in trouble with this much debt, so don’t take a mortgage lightly by any means.

7. Actually Having an Emergency Fund

This is another topic that you always hear about, but I wonder how many people actually have an emergency fund?!

Putting mine together was one of my first financial goals. And I’ve actually had to use it twice. I won’t go into the details of what happened, but let’s just say I was very happy that I had the money I needed right there and then and didn’t have to use my credit card.

I keep my emergency fund in a high yield savings account. I hear about people using CD ladders or even investing theirs, but I think that completely defeats its purpose. It should be there 24/7, just a click away and you definitely don’t want it declining in value.

8. Saving Ahead for Large Expenses

So you know how I said that I’ve never had any consumer debt? Well what helped me avoid it is saving ahead for large expenses and purchases.

I keep a list of everything I plan to buy in the next few years that will be more than what my monthly cash flow can handle. This includes plane tickets, presents, maintenance on my car, moving expenses and so forth.

Depending on how long I have until I need the money, I either save for these in a savings account, CD or short-term investments like low-risk bond ETFs.

9. Investing Money No Matter What Happens

I’ve found that when building your wealth, consistency is key. I’ve been contributing to my retirement and brokerage accounts and my real estate fund (which I use for future property purchases) without fail for nearly 10 years.

I’ve invested money no matter what was going on in my life. It didn’t matter if I was strapped for cash – I put my investment contributions above everything else. When I had some extra money, it all went toward my investments.

I’ve also invested no matter what happens with the economy, the stock or the real estate market. Whether it was up or down, I was investing. Which takes me to my last point:

10. Investing When Others Panic

One of my idols, Warren Buffett once said:

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

I’ll admit that I had to overcome some fears, but I’ve piled money into the stock market and real estate when everybody else was proclaiming it was the end of the world around 2008-2009.

I was fairly new to investing back then, but I’m super glad I made that choice. I’ve seen tremendous gains both in my stock and real estate portfolio in the years to come after that. I hope that the next time we have a major downturn I can do the same!

As you can see, there is nothing complicated or new about my habits. They are very simple to understand, but some do require a good amount of self-discipline to follow through with.

I think that if you set your mind to it, you can definitely accomplish the same, or even more, than me. It probably won’t be easy and it may take some time, but you too can become a millionaire.

How many of these habits are you currently doing?

– Anton

P.S. If you want to check out what my net worth looks like right now, here is my latest update.

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Anton Ivanov is a self-made millionaire, money coach and founder of Financessful.com. His mission is to help people grow their wealth, reach financial freedom and live a better life. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. [sites/accounts now shut down]

EDITOR’S NOTE: To answer Anton’s question, I’m personally only doing 5 of these 10 habits: religiously tracking my net worth, avoiding expensive things, completely avoiding consumer debt, actually having an emergency fund, and investing money no matter what’s happening. There’s been times I’ve hit close to 9 of these 10 goals before (like when I was killing it in the income area) but currently we’re in a different phase… Which I think is the case with many of us depending on when we go down this list, eh? Then again, perhaps that’s why we’re not all millionaires yet! :)

[Photo cred: JBlaze B]

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Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MMD October 27, 2014 at 6:13 am

… “They always seem to be looking for some secret formula or hot stock tip that will make them rich overnight.”

So true. Everyone always thinks there’s some quick advice or something I can tell them in the next 10 minutes that is going to completely turn their finances upside down. Similar to diet and exercise, no one wants to hear its going to take a lot of discipline.

That’s amazing you were able to save above half of your income. Having a savings rate that high is something we’re still stretching to reach.

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2 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 11:49 am

I love your analogy to fitness – I think it’s a very similar process! Pretty much anyone you ask will tell you they want to be fit (or wealthy), but how many are actually willing to put in the work? I’d say not that many…

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3 Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com October 27, 2014 at 8:37 pm

It’s sad but you’re right. But by drinking light beer, I’ll get fit… right? Ha!

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4 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Only if you’re doing bicep curls at the same time.

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5 Dividend Growth Investor July 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm

It is a little sad that someone would go to great lengths, simply to make up stories of how they became a self-made millionaire. What is the point of it?

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6 J. Money July 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

I’d love to personally know myself! Just the other month I got a LinkedIn request from Anton but you can guess as to whether I accepted it or not…

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7 Chris @ Flipping a Dollar October 27, 2014 at 6:46 am

Impressive. I’m a few years older but definitely behind the eightball. I’m going to blame it on having a kid, but the truth is that I went through a terribly spendy phase until about 2011. I did pay of my student loans right around then though. Now we are piling money into our mortgage. Of course theirs my 401k too, but every spare $100 goes towards principal! I think I’m doing 8/10 on here – need better goals and not saving 60% at the moment. Awesome work!

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8 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 11:52 am

The 60% savings rate is a tough one for a lot of people, especially those that have a family. I’ve been single until fairly recently, so that definitely helped.

But I’d say that you don’t have to shoot for that high right off the bat. Just start where you can and slowly increase it. As long as there is progress, you’re doing good!

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9 Chris @ Flipping a Dollar October 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Yeah, we are generally around 35%. I understand its low now because we bought a house and are doing repairs. Once we are in steady state and my wife finishes her PhD, we will be in a much better state assuming that we don’t increase are spending. One of my best ways to do this is to include any small raises as an increase in my 401k contribution until I hit the 2015 max of 18k.

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10 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm

That’s a really smart move. I take all my “extra” money like bonuses, tax returns, gifts, etc. and throw them into my savings/investments without even a second thought.

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11 J. Money October 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm

This reminds me of my old Baby Costs Tracker. Last we left it we were at $28,185.49.

And he’s only two.

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2012/06/ultimate-baby-child-costs-tracker/

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12 Mrs. Frugalwoods October 27, 2014 at 6:52 am

Nice! Way to go! We do all 10 of these things and I love your comment about people being disappointed when you tell them “hard work, self-discipline and sacrifices” are the keys to your success. I get a lot of wrinkled noses at my frugality, but, I’m OK with it. I think saving as much as I do every month (65%-85%) and investing seems insurmountable or not fun to many folks.

For me, it’s all about the end goals. I appreciate that you have goal setting as #1. In the absence of clear goals, there’s no point and no direction to one’s frugality, which I think would be disheartening.

Thank you so much for sharing this!

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13 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

Glad you liked it! And by the way I don’t think it takes a lot of money to have a good time or live a fulfilling life. I realized a while ago that buying expensive things is actually pretty meaningless. Are you going to look back at your 20s when you’re older and pat yourself on the back for blowing all of your money on clothes and fine dining? Probably not…

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14 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life October 27, 2014 at 6:59 am

I think there’s some major mystique and misconceptions surrounding “millionaires”. People too often dismiss “millionairedom” as something completely unattainable, when it’s actually well within reach for so many of us with access to all the right opportunities, information, and resources.

Of course my net worth is still 30k at age 28, but I have every expectation of achieving millionaire status- I’m practicing the habits each and every day.

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15 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 11:59 am

Definitely agree. Plus a million isn’t really what it used to be back in the day. You pretty much need at least a million in the bank to be able to retire, unless you can live on less than $30k a year (which some people may).

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16 How To Save Money October 27, 2014 at 7:30 am

Your story is really inspiring! It take a LOT of disicpline to follow your tips!

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17 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 11:59 am

It sure does, my friend!

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18 Will @ First Quarter Finance October 27, 2014 at 7:51 am

Intriguing post, Anton! I’m 24 and I’m doing 9/10 items. My emergency fund isn’t large but I have so many side hustles, I doubt they would ever all dry up to the point I would have an emergency. And my expenses are <$600 per month so life isn't expensive. Everything else really resonates with me. Also, I wonder if your coworker drives a gas-guzzling car to all these discount fuel stations haha.

Thanks for sharing. Off to go stalk your blog! :)

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19 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Haha, he drives a Jeep so I doubt that’s very fuel efficient. Didn’t even think about that before :))

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20 Kassandra October 27, 2014 at 8:04 am

Congrats to Anton and what he has achieved is possible for many of us if we just invoked similar measures and a lot of self-discipline. I can say that after three decades I finally am doing all ten points consistently and my quality of life has never been better.

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21 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Glad you agree!

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22 John @ Frugal Rules October 27, 2014 at 8:11 am

Very nice Anton! I love your comment about people wanting some sort of trick or magical something or other that will get them to the level they want. I know it comes down to a number of things, but discipline and being willing to put in the hard work is right up there. We’re sitting at 8/10 right now. I need to be a little more specific and actionable with our goals and are not at 60% yet, but not that far off.

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23 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

8/10 isn’t bad at all and I’m sure you’ll get to 10/10 in no time!

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24 J. Money October 27, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Yeah, all y’all are whipping my ass on those %’s :)

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25 Natalie @ Financegirl October 27, 2014 at 8:26 am

This post is a great reference for young people intending to increase their wealth. Congratulations on becoming a millionaire! woop woop! Personally, I’m good at setting clear goals and paying myself first. Because I’m focused on getting out of student loan debt, I haven’t saved ahead for anything really big yet (like a house or car). And as someone who has never had a credit card, it’s easy to stay out of consumer debt. Overall, this list is really helpful. Can you pimp your own post on Rockstar Finance? :) If so, I recommend this one!

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26 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Ya, I think if every guy and gal in their teens or early 20s read something like this, we wouldn’t have as many financial problems in the world. At least I would hope so!

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27 J. Money October 27, 2014 at 2:17 pm

@Natalie – I heard the boss over at Rockstar is pretty picky, but I’ll drop a note in his ear ;)

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28 Dipesh Duwal August 15, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Hey anton! I am 19 years and a medical student. It will take 10 years to complete my studies. I want to become a millionaire and my earning will start only at 29. What do you think should I do?

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29 Gretchen October 27, 2014 at 8:31 am

Super impressive! You are right, there’s no magic wand you can wave and make it happen! I’m finding out it takes a lot of hard work, but it’s going to be so worth it!

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30 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I like this quote a lot. It’s about entrepreneurs, but I think you can apply it to building wealth just as well:

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”

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31 Brian @ Debt Discipline October 27, 2014 at 8:47 am

Nicely done Anton! See hard work and discipline does pay off. Continued success!

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32 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Thanks! It sure does :)

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33 Jon @ Money Smart Guides October 27, 2014 at 8:52 am

We do most of these things as well and are in a goof place financially. Everyone is looking for a secret or magic formula to get rich quick. It’s not out there. It takes time and discipline. If it was so easy, we would all be millionaires.

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34 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Yep, that’s exactly what I say!

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35 weenie October 27, 2014 at 9:04 am

Great inspiring story Anton and congratulations on becoming a millionaire! If only I had your insight when I was younger! Still, I’m practising most of the things you list and whilst I’m unlikely to get to that millionaire status, I should be able to retire earlier than many of my peers/friends if I maintain my discipline.

Like you, I’m no fan of budgets, pay myself first and then live on the rest. Seems to work for me too.

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36 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Cool, sometimes it seems like I’m the only one that doesn’t follow a strict budget. I know they work for a lot of people, but I’ve tried them and just got frustrated. My current system works great :)

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37 Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 27, 2014 at 9:15 am

Congrats Anton!!! It’s important to note that all of these habits contributed to your success. It’s hard to just do one of these things and expect results. It really does take hard work, focus and discipline to get to where you are, but the great news is that it is achievable and you are living proof of it.

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38 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

You definitely need all of them, or at least most of them. By themselves they’re alright, but when put together they create a stellar wealth-building system.

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39 zolar October 27, 2014 at 9:28 am

Wow.. really amazing that read this.. as you are 10 years younger than me but you become millionaire.. it is such a good motivation to me .
Maybe it is a hard work to do but I think it is not impossible as long as we learn the trick to improve day by day.

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40 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Yes! Always try to get better at what you’re doing. As long as there is progress, it really doesn’t matter where you are right now.

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41 Michelle October 27, 2014 at 9:31 am

Wow this is awesome! These are all great habits/tips as well. I’m all for an emergency fund. Too many people go without one and that just stresses me out!

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42 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I know right! I always tell people that putting an emergency fund together is a must.

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43 [email protected] and the Beach October 27, 2014 at 10:17 am

Congratulations and thanks so much for the inspiration! You worked hard for this and obviously all your dedication paid off!

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44 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Thank you and keep up the great work yourself!

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45 Carlton October 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

Great habits to have. I was wondering how do you track your goals? Having so many of them seems like it would be a challenge just to keep them all updated! Do you use an app or a particular program to do this?

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46 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I use an Excel spreadsheet. It’s old school, but I’ve tried a few apps and didn’t really like them. I just have one tab where my goals are broken down my major categories and levels (like smaller goals inside bigger goals). I also color-code them based on when they’re due so I can just scan the list to quickly see what I need to be working on.

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47 BooDaa October 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Having that many goals sounds fascinating and I would love to have a look at this spreadsheet and see what some of these goals are and how you have them broken down. Might make a good article for your blog.

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48 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Sounds like a cool idea, I’ll definitely put it on my to-write list. It’s actually a pretty simple system, but it helps me stay organized :)

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49 J. Money October 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Interestingly enough I just read (and shared) a post on how having 3 main goals is the most efficient way to go. At least for the majority of people it seems – maybe that doesn’t include millionaires ;)

Here’s the article if you want to check out: http://thecollegeinvestor.com/4114/building-momentum-personal-finance/

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50 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I can definitely see how many people will get overwhelmed by the amount of goals I have :)

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51 Lauren October 27, 2014 at 11:05 am

Nice work, Anton. They should be teaching these habits to high school students! I wish I had thought long term, with regards to my money, when I was younger. I need to start paying myself first.

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52 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

It’s never too late to change your ways :)

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53 Crystal October 27, 2014 at 11:25 am

Great tips to live by! We were getting close to hitting all of those a few years ago, but we bought our large house and our self-employment income took a hit in early 2012. Anyway, looks like we are doing 6 of these things consistently.

We are not doing these 4…we are only saving 20-30% of our income on average, we didn’t avoid expensive things (hence the $260,000 home), we do have that $200k mortgage at 4% still and a $15,500 car loan at 0.9%, and we have found that with self-employment at least, we stick to a budget and save absolutely everything else.

Now, that $7000 budget does include a built in $4250 for savings for future expenses like quarterly income taxes, annual property taxes, annual home owner’s insurance for both homes (we also have a paid off rental property – our first house), annual HOA dues, and a vehicle maintenance fund that we’re growing to $25,000 in case interest rates jump up when my husband needs a new car.

But the pure cash savings is whatever is left after we pay our $2500-$3000 in bills like our mortgage, personal insurances, food, and entertainment, and the $4250 is transferred into the appropriate savings accounts. That means that we usually save $1000-$2000 extra depending on the month. 80% of that extra savings is put aside for investments like our Roth IRA’s, stocks, future rental properties, etc. 15% is put aside for large joint vacations. 2.5% is placed in two different fun money accounts for each of us.

Our net worth is around $430,000 and we’re older than you (both are 31 right now) with no kids yet.

Way to go! Good luck with the next 10 years too!!!

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54 J. Money October 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Woah, I’ve never seen your net worth posted before! Are you slowly letting it slip out? I want to read the post if you ever put it up on your blog :) I’ll add you to the Blogger Net Worth Tracker!

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55 Crystal October 28, 2014 at 2:00 am

I posted it for a couple of years and then stopped because of trolls. But I’ll break it down in a post tomorrow and email you the URL. :-D

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56 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Well it sounds like you have a good system going :) I don’t really try to push people into setting everything up a certain way – it’s more about what works for you. As long as you are meeting your goals, I think you’re fine.

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57 Crystal October 28, 2014 at 2:02 am

I’m of the same mind. Whatever works for you. :-) Congrats for reals!!! It is a great achievement for any age, so uber-congrats for doing it before 30. ;-)

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58 EL October 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

All great tips to becoming wealthy. If you cant save / invest you will never grow in wealth. Excuses can only get people so far, so if you can’t find any extra money to invest, then expect to work till 90.

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59 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

And you don’t want to be part of that bunch, that’s for sure!

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60 Even Steven October 27, 2014 at 3:40 pm

So I’m going to go ahead and say #2 will not make or break you as you become a millionaire. I’m sure it helped you as a motivator as becoming a millionaire, It sounds like it helps J Money stay organized and see everything in one place.

The reason I go away from Net Worth is for those who are in debt, like I am it can have the opposite affect. Say you get out of school with 40K in student loans, it’s pretty depressing to stare at that number and see the bright side or sunny future in a (red negative number). I am still in debt, my net worth number is no longer negative, but I don’t see that number motivating as you both did.

And another reason I don’t look it at the net worth as my ultimate metric of success is my goals are different than yours. My goal is to have enough money coming in to cover my expenses. That could be coming from dividend investments, real estate, the 4% rule, etc., but the millionaire number doesn’t factor into my goal. A good parallel would be a FICO score, I have almost zero interest in what my FICO score is because I don’t want to borrow any money, it’s not part of my goals.

I’m also hesitant to include a primarily residence or real estate that is not paid off entirely into this calculation, but I’ve already ranted enough on net worth. I think the other 9 are right in line and don’t mean to rant on 1 item that doesn’t fall into my white snowflake of a world, I live in. I think of net worth more as the evil witch who is secretly against me than a number to show me how close I am to never-never land.

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61 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm

No, I think you definitely make some valid points. Like you pretty much said, I track my net worth as a motivational tool and also to see the progress I’ve made. This is the metric I’ve picked to see how I’m doing financially, but if you use something else, I think more power to you.

We all have different goals and there are different ways to track your goals. If you know what you want and can tell if you’re getting closer, I think you’re doing it right.

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62 J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I’ll second those valid points. Especially with the credit score. Good to have a nice high one but only really factors in when it’s time to borrow large gobs of money. (Or perhaps when landing a new job? I’ve heard some employers will check those…)

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63 Dividend Mantra October 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Anton,

Great tips. Couldn’t agree more with the list.

Funny how people always want a “hot tip” or some kind of shortcut. Hard work is just so…hard. They don’t realize, however, that working hard for your wealth is what makes you appreciate it even more.

I’ve done pretty well with the savings. I’ve saved over 50% of my net worth for four years now, and publicly tracked it for most of that time. Might come up a tad short this year, as I quit my full-time automotive job to focus on writing/blogging/investing. But it’s short-term pain for long-term gain, in my view, as more time is what I’m saving and investing for anyway.

Keep up the great work!

Best regards.

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64 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Sounds like you’re doing great :) I really like “Hard work is just so…hard” :))

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65 Tiffany A. October 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Hey Anton. That # is super impressive, especially considering your age! My goal is a similar # but I have a ways to go and I’m hoping to reach it by 30. To be there by 27 is amazing!

I popped over to your site and you posted that you have $122K in a Roth IRA. How did you get so much $$ in there? I’m finding the $5.5K limit to be rather, well, limiting for lack of a better word. Is it a self-directed IRA? Or something else? I’m curious because I’d really like to grow my tax advantaged space but it is actually quite difficult (and I’ve maxed my Roth every year since I found out about it in 2011).

Thanks, and great post! I’ll continue to follow your blog :-)

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66 Tiffany A. October 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Woops, I *just* read that part about your Roth being at Vanguard and in index funds. OK… so my question now burns with more curiousity than before… ;-)

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67 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Two things helped me. First, I had a 401k when I was in the Navy (it’s actually called the Thrift Savings Plan, but it’s pretty much the same thing) that I rolled over into my IRA when I finished my service. Since 401k’s have a much higher yearly contribution limit, I was able to put more money into that over the years.

Second, since 2009 the stock market did really and my investments did really well as well. That definitely helped.

If I were you, I wouldn’t stress about it too much. What I typically recommend to people is put their money into their investment accounts like this:

401k (up to match, if any) > IRA (to the limit) > 401k (to the limit) > Taxable Brokerage

So if you’re maxing out your IRA, then put money into a 401k plan (hopefully your employer offers one). If both of those are maxed out, put money into a taxable brokerage account. Don’t feel like when you max out your retirement account contributions you are done because that’s definitely not the case!

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68 J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I second that order of investing.

Here’s a post I expanded on it if interested:
http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2014/03/what-to-do-extra-money/

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69 Old School October 27, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Great article as usual J$, keep up the good work.

I think what I can take away from this is that I need to automate my savings account. I already have my investments and bills automated, so why not do the same for my savings? That way what is left, as you pointed out, will be there just for spending.

Thanks for the Tips!

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70 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Yep, that’s definitely the way to do it. I automate all my bills, savings and investment contributions. It saves time and doesn’t give you the opportunity to spend that money on something you’ll later regret.

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71 Green Girl October 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Great list! I would say I follow many of the same strategies. I particularly agree with not having expensive hobbies and travel habits. I prefer hobbies and travel that are minimalist in nature and focus more on the health aspect or experience rather than the ‘status’. Like you said, living simple and focusing on people over ‘stuff’ is a much more rewarding way to live!

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72 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Totally agree with you! I actually want to travel more and I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that write about “travel hacks” and how to travel on way less than most people ever dream about. I definitely want to get on that program!

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73 Heather October 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Congratulations! And great advice. I think 5 out of 10 is pretty good!

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74 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm

It’s definitely a great start, and I’m sure you can get 10/10!

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75 Sarah October 27, 2014 at 8:40 pm

This is extremely motivating!! I’m pretty new to investing, but I plan on contributing monthly to all my accounts no matter what. Long term, I know that this will pay off. I read a quote too from Warren Buffett on how diversification is only for those who don’t know what they are doing. While I certainly don’t (yet), I plan on getting very familiar with the stock market and learning as much as I can as I go. Most of my money for now is in mutual funds, but I’m looking forward to branching out to individual stocks.

Other than that, we try to save about 30 percent of our income, we definitely avoid expensive things and consumer debt, we have an emergency fund, we set goals and we track our net worth. While we’re not millionaires yet – I KNOW we will be one day. Hopefully sooner than later!

Thanks for the awesome post! I’ll definitely be following your blog :)

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76 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Thanks Sarah! When it comes to investing in stocks, I always tell people to start with a simple long-term portfolio of index funds. You can set one up really quickly and it will serve you very well.

This will help you establish a good foundation and give you something to fall back on. Then if you have the time and the energy, you can try other investing strategies. But because it can get complicated very quickly, I’d definitely say to start simple and slow.

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77 Christine @ The Pursuit of Green October 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm

7/10 of those things. Wish I could save up a ton more but it’s hard when I have a mortgage and I live in an expensive city. Cost of living is pretty high. On my way slowly!

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78 Anton Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm

You know I feel exactly the same way about San Diego. I’m still living here because my fiancée is finishing her tour in the Navy, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to move somewhere cheaper after that.

It’s probably not what you want to think about, but moving away from an expensive area can be a very smart financial move. You’ll have to find a new job and home of course, but it’s something to consider.

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79 Kate @ Money Propeller October 28, 2014 at 1:18 am

Great list Anton! I know, the one reason that’s why I’m still in debt and don’t have enough savings because I don’t pay myself first. When I got my salary, I immediately bought something that I don’t necessarily need.

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80 Anton Ivanov October 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Ya, that can absolutely kill your savings plans! What I do to make it easier it make all of my savings contributions automatic. They coincide with the days I get paid, so I don’t even see the money. Give it a try!

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81 Dee @ Color Me Frugal October 28, 2014 at 9:13 am

I think we are sitting at 8-9 out of 10 right now. We don’t save 60%, but that’s because we have student loan debt that we are uber focused on paying off right now. If you include all the extra money we are throwing at our debt, we beat the 60% point. The other thing is goals. We have specific goals but they are not all that detailed I guess, and we do not have dates attached to them. For instance, our goal is to be debt free as soon as possible- and to that end we are throwing all the money we can at it- but we don’t have a specific date. This is an area we probably need to work on!

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82 Anton Ivanov October 28, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I would count the money you’re using to pay off your debt as part of the 60% chunk because it’s helping you increase your net worth. I think the key for your guys will be to start putting this money into your savings/investments as soon as your debt is paid off.

All too often I see people focus on paying off their debt, then once it’s gone they start spending more, which isn’t a very smart idea.

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83 Ben Luthi October 28, 2014 at 10:17 am

What a great story, Anton. It’s nice to see true stories of success on the back of hard work and consistency.

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84 Anton Ivanov October 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Thanks Ben, I appreciate the kind words :)

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85 Eva October 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm

For me these things were always so difficult because I never knew what to invest in. Also, some people have to reallize that other factor are included in saving money like having an actual income or not having a family (parents) who needs financial help. Large purchases will definitely ruin everything and now I see this and have made some changes. Another thing that plays a factor is how you think of yourself, because if you see yourself as unworthy you will unconsciously self sabotage.

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86 Anton Ivanov October 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

You made some awesome points, Eva! It’s been much easier to achieve my high savings rate because I was single with no dependents and really nobody to worry about except myself.

And you’re absolutely right about large expenses – they can creep up on you and really set you back financially. I save for all mine ahead of time and have an emergency fund to help me pay for the unforeseen stuff.

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87 J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Eva – I always struggled with *what* to invest in too until I learned/read up on indexing – now it’s amazingly easy :) It’s not for everyone, but here’s where all my investing dollars go if you’d like a real-life example:

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2014/06/lazy-one-fund-investing-strategy/

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88 Kayla @ Red Debted Stepchild October 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I live in a very ag-driven part of the country, therefore there are TONS of millionaires and multi-milionaires everywhere here. Lots of them are millionaires due to their land values mostly though. This can be somewhat deceiving as some of them are cash poor and land rich, but land is hard to translate into cash in a hurry.

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89 Anton Ivanov October 28, 2014 at 7:46 pm

I know what you mean. A good portion of my wealth is in real estate and I know that if I try to sell, I may not get as much as I think. But at least at this point in my life, there is no reason to sell any of my properties, as I’m getting a great return on my investment.

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90 Melanie @ My Alternate Life October 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Wow, that is super impressive! I am doing about 6/10 of these things. I am putting about 50% of my income to debt, but haven’t really started investing ;( I cannot wait to start putting 1k or more to retirement, savings and investing!

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91 Anton Ivanov October 28, 2014 at 11:34 pm

You’re doing the right thing (at least in my opinion :). If you have debt, and especially high-interest consumer debt, you should get rid of that as fast as possible. Once you have it under control, take all that money and start putting it into your investment portfolio and you’ll be just fine.

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92 Jenna October 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

Great job Anton! Congratulations on the first million.

I read on your blog you are hoping to get to 10 million. What are you hoping to do with that money once you accumulated it?

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93 Anton Ivanov October 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

That’s currently my retirement goal. Once I reach that amount, I’d like to quit working and just live off the passive income it would generate.

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94 The LazyPanda October 29, 2014 at 11:48 am

Hi,
I really liked the post, and I find myself follow many of the habits listed there.
One point though about using the net worth as the most important measure. I find it that in some cases, net worth can be misleading (meaning, you can increase your net worth but decrease your freedom). I wrote a post specifically about this in my blog (http://bit.ly/1tiuvPU) and would love to hear what you think.

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95 Anton Ivanov October 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I just left a comment on your site too, but I’ll answer here as well. I think your methods make complete sense as far as calculating how close you are to reaching financial freedom. The reason I use net worth is because it gives me a very specific goal to work toward.

I start by figuring out how much yearly retirement income I want. Then I work backwards to calculate how much total principle I will need to generate this income. That number become my goal that I need to work toward.

Also something to note is that I plan to only live off the interest/yield of the principle and not actually touch the principle itself. This way my retirement can be indefinite.

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96 Rob @ MoneyNomad October 31, 2014 at 12:20 am

A great article! Thanks for the inspiration Anton. And, as always P Money, thanks for finding and sharing great content. This is definitely an inspiration for myself. Although I doubt I can hit the million mark in the next 6 months, I can certainly aim for a million dollar net worth in a few more years. And I’m more inspired then ever now!

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97 Anton Ivanov October 31, 2014 at 11:35 am

I wouldn’t stress too much about “when” you’re going to reach this goal. I didn’t really decide in my early 20’s that I’m going to be a millionaire by 27 because I knew there were a lot of external factors (like market performance) that could affect this one way or the other.

What I did was follow these habits to set myself up for success and just keep trucking along.

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98 Myles Money November 2, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Success stories are always motivating and yours is all the more powerful because it’s just hard work, dedication and common sense: no special magic formula or investing genius required.

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99 Anton Ivanov November 3, 2014 at 1:23 am

Ya, I definitely wouldn’t call myself gifted in any particular area. Just kept doing what works and learned from my mistakes :)

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100 The Lion's Shares November 4, 2014 at 7:58 pm

WOW! This is so motivating. I’m 24 and most likely won’t be a millionaire for some time, but its encouraging to see that it isn’t impossible, and fairly simple. Maybe in 10 years I’ll be able to post something like this.

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101 Gauge November 4, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Great read!

I love the comment about your friends who are the cheapest with their regular purchases like groceries and gas, but insane with big ticket items!
I can’t believe some people’s priorities. It’s like nobody sees value, just price.

The thing is, if other young people like us would just budget and spend a little smarter they could enjoy the value of a quality lifestyle without going broke! In fact they’d be much better off, and be able to enjoy the big ticket fun stuff without going into debt.

Reminds me of the phrase, to “have your cake and eat it too”
To me, it wouldn’t make sense to have cake and not eat it. So I save, budget and enjoy a sweet life.

It’s sad to me how simple these concepts are, they just require some self control!

For those of you who want an easy system to accomplish all of these things for yourself, check out http://www.recklessanddriven.com

It’s blogs like these that are going to inspire millenials to be the most successful and greatest generation yet!

Until later,

a happily subscribed fellow blogger.
-Gauge

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102 Josh November 4, 2014 at 11:06 pm
103 J. Money November 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

That’s so cool!! Way to go Anton!

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104 Jay November 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm

It’s amazing reading all the comments on the yahoo article. So many people just don’t get it.

Some say you are lucky that you caught once in the lifetime opportunity in 2007 crash. And his comment got 40 likes vs 5 dislike. Means that few people know about cycle, and has short term memory, the previous crash was 2000 tech bubble, and if people invest then they will have similar results as Anton. Another downturn was mid 90s. There will be another downturn soon in the future. It’s a very simple concept of buy low sell high.

Overall, there are so much negativity in the masses nowadays.

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105 J. Money November 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Yup, lots of haters and people trying to shoot down things that work so it keeps them feeling good about being so lazy themselves… And the bigger the media channel, the more of them that come out – I don’t even read comments on outlets like that anymore – they’re toxic.

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106 Jay November 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Congrats Anton for staying discipline at such a young age, I wanted to be a millionaire when I was a teenager, however I was not as discipline as you in the early twenties.Your journey is very inspirational for everyone. So many people can learn from your story. There are so many different ways to become millionaire, but every one of them require discipline and stay true to your course.

I do agree with all your points, except I’m a sucker for fast and fancy cars :). Because of that, I know I’ll never hit millionaire status by conventional save and invest. Which is why I started side business at the age of 28 and 10 years later (after a few fail business ventures as well), I hit millionaire status at age 32 and never look back.

I can’t agree more with you about budget (sorry J. Money). I never have a budget set in my life, however I do track all income vs expense. I always have this debate with someone in my family who is a big Dave Ramsey supporter about budget. I think budget limits your thought process from thinking outside the box. I calculate my cash flow every month and to increase my cash flow, I focus on increase the income side of equation not reducing the expense side.

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107 J. Money November 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm

It’s a good way to be :) And awesome that you still hit millionaire status even with a love for fancy cars! I wish more millionaires would be open with that type of stuff – it’s totally cool to want something sexy and expensive, even if it’s not a “need,” it just means you have to adjust your goals/income streams. So good for you for hitting it AND enjoying the fine things in life!

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108 SavvyMama November 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Anton –
Wow – what a great list. Thanks for sharing. I too aim to pay little or no interest. We own our home, have paid off the credit cards. The one thing I am tackling right now is my college loans – were you able to pay these in cash?
Also – what are your thoughts on buying vs. leasing a car. I would love to buy a car now – but honestly, I can only afford a high mileage one right now – and I am worried it will spend more time at the mechanic than in my garage. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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109 Charles November 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm

anton just got exposed from the corrected yahoo article that over 80 percent of his wealth was inherited from the death of his successful parents. The blog and other social accounts have since been shut down.

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110 DebunkingAntonsFraud November 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Anton.. Too bad you really *didn’t* become a millionaire by yourself, considering you now admit you INHERITED 60-80% of your net worth from your parents (rest in peace)….

…making you a total FRAUD….lol…..

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/27-year-old-millionaire-anton-ivanov-financessful-184823184.html

America… Where sheepish sheep worship liars and fraudsters…

Sincerely,
A real millionaire that is laughing at you posers…

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111 Stephen November 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm
112 Stephen November 17, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I mean to add, it might be wise to place an edit to this article.

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113 J. Money November 18, 2014 at 12:47 am

Thanks for the info everyone – sad sad stuff to hear…. I’ve updated this article, and will be writing something about it shortly. Never know what people are up to sometimes, eh?

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114 Financial Samurai November 18, 2014 at 1:51 pm

This really is sad to hear. But you know what the fully reality is? Anton is still a millionaire, whether he earned it or inherited it!

I strongly believe that there is this massive generational wealth transfer that is going to take care of a lot of people. After all, any parent over 50 has lived through the biggest bull market of all time!

Everything will be AOK folks. Bank of M&D gonna hook us up!

Sam

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115 [email protected] November 19, 2014 at 9:48 am

The Bank of M&D are only gonna hook up a select few…I just don’t think the majority of Americans have that much to pass on since they can’t even save for their own retirement. As for Anton…I always had a sense that something was shady with him. Can’t wait to read J’s post about it. Anyways, I guess the part about his parents spending too much is not really true either since they left him such a big nest egg.

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116 J. Money November 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm

PS: Here’s the whole story on Anton now, just released by Yahoo! Finance:

The truth about the 27-year-old “self-made millionaire”

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117 Steve November 18, 2014 at 10:57 pm

This is a bit shocking but I guess there are snake oil salesmen everywhere. Thanks for keeping this post up with the retracted statement.

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118 DebunkingAntonsFraud November 19, 2014 at 12:14 am

What brought me to this blog was the Google indexing between this website and the the Yahoo article….

As much as a liar anton was about being a self-made millionaire he was, I really hope that the rest of you reading this blog keeps something in mind. The 1-10 advice listed above are actually really good suggestions.

The biggest problems that I have seen with people in this country is they spend way too much and try to live way above their means. A lot of problems I have observed with people in our country isn’t how much they make, it’s what they do with what they make.

I think folks are really focusing on the wrong thing often times. People are focusing on being a “millionaire” as a end-all be all.. It isn’t. There’s nothing sexy or special about obtaining millionaire status..It’s not about the money it’s about the journey and financial discipline getting there. You take an average joe that manages his/her money well, he/she will be fine. You take a spoiled me-me-me person that squanders away whatever he/she makes and lives paycheck to paycheck because he/she rather pay $100/month for a smartphone data plan instead of tucking $100/month into a passive index fund…it won’t matter how much he/she makes in the long run.

Look no further than recent times, with the housing implosion. Lots of people that took out stated income/ALT-A cash out refinanced loans to “buy” a “fake rich lifestyle” only to seriously commit financial suicide when the party stopped and they realized they could never afford the loan they took out with the income they really didn’t have.

There’s something to be said about being financially responsible. Something that is so lacking these days..

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119 J. Money November 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

You got that straight, my friend.

Here’s the follow up article I wrote expressing a lot of the same things you mention here in it (how the advice was solid regardless of the source):

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2014/11/the-millionaire-liar-next-door/

Thanks for stopping by to share.

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120 red August 7, 2015 at 8:44 pm

It is important to save but is more important to use our saving to increase our asset. We can use our saving to build business and investing. just saving our money does not increase our money because the interest is only 1%. In some case, our money decrease in saving because the bank cut the interest with administration fee and tax.

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