Millionaire Interview 4. I have started a series called Millionaire Interviews. There is no better way to learn how to build wealth than from those who have already done so. Along those lines, I ask millionaire bloggers or even millionaires who are not bloggers a series of 11 questions that they answer. The questions are highlighted in bold and the answers are below each question. Hopefully, the answers are enlightening and will help you on your journey to build wealth and attain the $1,000,000 mark and beyond.
The millionaires in the Millionaire Interview series became millionaires at a younger age than the Secret Dividend Millionaires. This comes down to mostly having higher incomes. Second, they are not very frugal to the point of austerity as some of the Secret Dividend Millionaires but certainly save more than they earn and save more than the average person. Lastly, most have multiple sources of income.
Before we start with Millionaire Interview 4, if you are a millionaire blogger or even a millionaire who doesn’t blog and want to be a part of this series, just send me an e-mail or message me on Twitter.
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Millionaire Interview 4 – Gen X Investor
Millionaire interview 4 is with an anonymous blogger from Canada who blogs as Gen X Investor. His blog, My Road to Wealth and Freedom, focuses on building wealth by saving and investing. He and his wife reached the $1 million mark around age 37 about 10 years after starting their careers. They achieved this by savings at a high rate, paying down debt and investing with low cost index funds, rental properties, and dividend growth stocks.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Canada’s East Coast and I currently live near Toronto with my wife and 2 kids. I studied history, political science and a little business in university. I currently work in the transportation industry.
- What is your net worth? At what age did you become a millionaire? How many years did it take to become a millionaire? Do you have any debt?
The net worth number posted on my blog is close to $1.5 million, but I drastically understate the market value of my home. If I didn’t the number would be close to $2 million.
The breakdown is as follows:
- Real estate: 46%
- Retirement: 34%
- Kids Education: 3.9%
- Financial Assets: 12%
- Alt Assets (Precious Metals): 3.9%
We became millionaires (on paper i.e. net worth) at around age 37. It took us about 10 years after we started our careers to reach that goal. We had help along the way in the form of an 11-year bull market in stocks and real estate.
In terms of debt, I have a mortgage and a HELOC balance that I used to buy stocks. At our current rate of debt pay down, we’re looking to be completely debt free next year.
As a general rule, we try to stay away from debt and limit our exposure as much as possible. Nowadays people forget that debt is risky! The moment something unforeseen happens and you can’t make payments bad things happen. So our approach has always been to pay extra on our mortgage – even at record low interest rates – and to avoid taking on debt for things like vehicles and vacations.
My family’s approach to building long-term stable wealth is to live well below our means and to save, invest and pay down debt.
I think there’s a qualitative aspect to our net worth that’s important for financial stability. We have a strong balance sheet with very little debt relative to our liquid assets. Anyone can have a high net worth, but if it’s built on debt and risky investments, then that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- How did you become a millionaire?
We first began with our home and then started to invest in low-cost index funds. From there we branched out into dividend growth stocks and rental properties (Sold in 2017). We picked those assets because they are the only game in town, unless you start your own business.
We started with a family income of about $100k a year and we hit the million-dollar mark at around $250k. This may seem like a lot of annual income, but we live in Canada where this is taxed at about 55%.
Besides our jobs, we had dividend income, online income, and rental income for a time.
- What is your investing philosophy, and do you use a particular strategy?
My personal finance strategy is simple: live below our means, save, invest and pay off debt. A big part of the investment strategy is to build sources of passive income like a website, cash flowing real estate and dividend stocks.
If I were to start out today with $0, I would focus on learning and building skills – we are our own best sources of generating income. Then I would start a podcast, blog or website, you tube channel etc. I speak a lot on my website about the best investments and I feel online businesses have the lowest barrier of entry for people just starting out. I would build cash reserves and wait until we get another stock market and real estate crash – which is probably not too far off. Then I’d buy real estate and start investing in index funds and automate my investing from that point on. I would also diversify a bit into hard assets like some physical gold – say around 5% as insurance against global financial stupidity.
- What was your best investment? What was your worst investment?
I don’t really have 1 best investment per se, but I would say the best results are achieved over the long term by buying quality stocks and properties and holding them for the long term.
My worst investment was a speculative investment in a small cap crypto mining stock a few years back. It went to zero! And I lost my thousand bucks!
- How much time per day or week do you spend reading financial news and going over your investments?
I read financial news daily, but I like to read more in depth studies of financial crises etc. Each month we go through our passive income and net worth. I publish these reports on my website: My Road To Wealth and Freedom. We don’t have an accountant or tax professional. I do these things myself.
- What habits helped you become a millionaire?
Developing good habits are the most important thing for anyone aspiring to become a millionaire or just to better their financial situation. Making a point of saving a little bit each and every pay to invest is critical for success. I started by automating my investments. Then I started to invest extra money from side gigs, work bonuses etc.
In the early years it seems like it’s taking forever to get anywhere but after a few years you’ll really notice the difference. I laugh when I look at my old net worth and passive income reports. At the time it seemed like we weren’t making any real progress, but on average we grew our net worth by about $100k a year and our passive income grew from a few hundred bucks to over $25k.
Each year we make financial goals. These include making X dollars in dividends. Grow our net worth by X. Pay X off of our mortgage. It’s important to keep motivating yourself by setting goals and busting your butt to get there and make it happen. We save about 50% of our after tax income. We don’t have a strict monthly budget because frankly almost all of our disposable money goes into investments or paying down debt. In general we spend about $2k on living costs like food, monthly bills etc. And about $3k goes to our mortgage (including extra amount). Another $2k goes into retirement and the rest into investments or mortgage lump sum payments.
- What are your three favorite books related to investing, personal finance, retirement, and financial freedom?
The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
People should read them to find out why!
- Why do you blog about your investing and journey to millionaire status and financial freedom?
I blog at My Road To Wealth and Freedom. I just wanted to share our financial journey and some of the successes and mistakes that we had on the way. I did more or less to see if we could actually achieve financial independence.
My blog isn’t about getting rich quick because that rarely happens. What’s more often the case, and what the growing body of studies out there is telling us, is that the “average” millionaire is just that: someone who lives an unassuming life.
For example, we live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood but I don’t think anyone who meets my wife or I would think we have a high net worth. We drive average vehicles that are 5 to 8 yrs old (and paid for). We don’t wear expensive clothes or have expensive jewelry. We take modest vacations and rarely ever splurge. In fact we rarely even go out to eat unless it’s on our birthdays! (going forward we probably will be doing more of that).
I guess it’s important to keep some perspective in life and ask ourselves what’s really important. For me, it’s spending quality time with my family. I had the best time with my kids out catching turtles and fishing and hiking (all free activities by the way).
- Besides investing what else do you like to do?
This might sound cliché but I love spending time in nature. I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, visiting nature preserves and parks, scuba diving, etc. I love a good adventure. Beyond that I collect coins and I’m interested in finance, politics and history.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, I know there are people out there who believe that becoming a millionaire or achieving a certain level of financial independence is impossible and they have a million reasons why that’s the case. But it can be done. And more and more people are doing it. Having the right mindset is key. The best line in Rich Dad Poor Dad is when Kiyosaki says to stop saying “I Can’t” and starting asking “How Can I!”
Final Thoughts on Millionaire Interview 4
I hope you enjoyed reading about Gen X Investor in Millionaire Interview 4. Check out his blog at the links above. His story shows that with a high savings rate and investing in index funds, dividend growth stocks, and rental real estate that reaching $1 million before turning 50 years old and even 40 years old is definitely possible.
In an earlier article I identified the three principles of dividend millionaires: spend less than you earn, invest your savings, and reinvest the dividend. Your odds of becoming a millionaire are about 3.6% in the U.S. But I would argue that through careful planning, high saving rates, and investing you can improve your odds. Gen X Investor has showed us it is possible at a fairly young age of about 37 in Millionaire Interview 4. Recall, in the U.S., the average net worth is about $289k in 2016 dollars for those between 35 and 44 years old. I have written previously on net worth targets by age.
As a final note, I have another series called Secret Dividend Millionaires. This one is about ordinary people who became millionaires by investing in dividend paying stocks for the most part. Most of these people were only discovered after they died and left their money to charities and other non-profit organizations. Often, they became millionaires through very frugal if not austere living, investing their savings in stocks that paid dividends, and reinvesting the dividends.
You can read Millionaire Interview 3 – Dividend Earner as well.
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Prakash Kolli is the founder of the Dividend Power site. He is a self-taught investor, analyst, and writer on dividend growth stocks and financial independence. His writings can be found on Seeking Alpha, InvestorPlace, Business Insider, Nasdaq, TalkMarkets, ValueWalk, The Money Show, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, and leading financial sites. In addition, he is part of the Portfolio Insight and Sure Dividend teams. He was recently in the top 1.0% and 100 (73 out of over 13,450) financial bloggers, as tracked by TipRanks (an independent analyst tracking site) for his articles on Seeking Alpha.