10 Habits That Made Me a Millionaire at 27

one-million-dollars[1][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?]

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 estateif 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.


This article is provided by Melissa

Do nice guys finish last … financially?

This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

While it wasn’t a dark and stormy night yet, an ice storm was coming. The last time we’d had an ice storm, we were kidless, and we lost power for five days. The romance of sleeping in front of the fireplace quickly cooled off along with the temperature in the house. If we lost power again, 39 degrees just wasn’t going to be acceptable with two kids.

That’s why my husband took a trip out to the shed to get our generator ready to combat a potential loss of power.

Except he couldn’t find the generator. After a few minutes of brainstorming (Did I put it somewhere else?), he called someone who frequently borrows our stuff.

“Your generator?” said The Borrower, “Yeah, when you were out of the country last year, I let somebody borrow it. I’ll give him a call.”

And then a few minutes later, The Borrower called back. “There is a small problem. He has the generator, and it works. But … he thinks it’s his. So best of luck to ya. ‘Bye.”

So my husband made a second phone call. Sure enough, the other guy thought the generator was his. But the strange thing was that he thought it had been his for years. This is an old friend of our family, so we decided to preserve the relationship and ignore the problem pf the questionable ownership of the generator. The ice storm didn’t materialize that time or any other time during the long winter. Crisis averted, relationship preserved.

But winter’s coming again. “We really need to have a generator before winter hits,” my husband said recently. He priced a new one. A new generator will set us back $700.

Seven hundred dollars. Seven hundred dollars has a way of making me irritated with the whole situation all over again.

There are so many things wrong with the story I have shared. I feel stupid that we haven’t really addressed the issue, perplexed that this happened with someone we’ve known for years, and just plain annoyed that we don’t have a generator. And let’s not forget that we didn’t even lend it to someone in the first place. In fact, the only good thing about it is that it provides me with some blog article content because it inspired a question: Do “nice” people finish last financially?

I am sure if you look back at your life, you can remember scenarios in which you spent money when you didn’t want to, or you gave money when you didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to, or you bought some Tupperware at a friend’s home party because you wanted to be nice.

My hand is raised.

When you’re too nice

I’m a recovering nice person. I actually try not to use “nice” when addressing any behaviors of my children. I don’t say, “Be nice to others” because it reminds me of a doormat who has issues with boundaries and other things. When you’re too nice, you may spend money you don’t have to help someone who may not even need your help. Instead, my word of choice is “kind” or “kindness.”

Differentiating between the two words has made a huge difference to me.

See, before, I wanted to help people. Maybe I tried to help them by giving them money, or buying something for them, or buying something from one of the home parties I hosted. Many times I spent more than I should have. And when I did that, I sometimes felt stressed. And when I felt stressed, I became resentful of the person I had wanted to help in the beginning. Doesn’t that sound messed up?

Can you be generous without being nice?

I still want to help people. But now I help them without any feelings of resentment (unless someone gives away our generator … sigh).

Here’s how:

1. The first step is the most important. You must realize that you can make a huge difference by staying within your budget so you can give more to the things you really want to support. Does it really help someone if you buy a Pampered Chef gadget that you really didn’t want so they could get $5 more in free products to pick out? But if you don’t buy the $40 gadget, you’ll still have $40 instead of spending $40 on something you didn’t really want or need in the first place.

2. For myself, I keep running lists of things that I want. Maybe it’s a magazine subscription. When a niece or nephew send me information on a school fundraiser that includes magazines, I look at my list. If there is a magazine I want, I will order. If not, the information goes into the trash. Same with invites to home parties like Tupperware or Pampered Chef. If I haven’t been wanting to buy something, I just don’t go at all. I don’t feel a bit guilty or resentful.

3. I have found that consistent support of a handful of charities has been helpful. I know that if I spend budget dollars in other places, I won’t have enough to support the causes that I am really interested to support. That helps keep my focus on what’s really important to me.

4. Just say “no.” As I get older, I appreciate openness and honesty more than ever. My friends and family still love me, even when I say no to certain things that I don’t feel align with my spending values.

Be generous; just don’t be nice

I believe that being generous is important. I have experienced the generosity and kindness of others more times than I can count. So be generous!

But be generous because you want to be, not because you feel you have to be. If you feel resentful of someone else for something you chose to do, you probably are being too nice. And that should inspire you to look at yourself honestly and ask what needs to change.

Maternity Leave for Women Entrepreneurs

maternity-women-entrepreneurs-600x450-ray-dumas[1]In addition to the steady paycheck, another big perk of working in the corporate world is often the benefits package. For some, that includes six to 12 weeks of maternity leave.

When you become an entrepreneur, the safety net quickly vanishes, and you’re left all alone to find your way. For this reason, many female business owners barely take a break after giving birth — because they simply can’t afford to be away from their company for an extended period of time.

Fortunately, there are ways to prepare beforehand so you can spend quality time with your new bundle of joy without putting your business at risk. Here are a few factors to consider before taking maternity leave, and how to transition back into the office without feeling overwhelmed.

1. Create an Action Plan

So, you’re going to be a new mom? Congratulations! Now, it’s off to the drawing board you should go, almost as soon as you learn of the exciting news.

While I’m not suggesting you hold a conference call, send out a mass email, or gather all your employees to fill them in right away, it’s definitely a smart idea to start making mental preparations until you can no longer hide that you’re expecting.

When the word finally gets out, don’t be surprised if your employees are taken aback or worried about what the future holds for them. There’s always the chance that you’ll fall so in love with your new bundle of joy that you’ll abandon the business to become a stay-at-home mom.

To put their mind at ease, communicate that you’ve been working on a plan of action behind the scenes, and that business will continue as usual while you’re away.

Wondering what this plan should entail? A few suggestions to help you get started:

  • What is the primary function of the business? Who will ensure the company stays true to its mission during your brief departure?
  • Is there someone working by your side that can oversee operations while you’re away?
  • What are your day-to-day tasks? Start identifying individuals who can fall fill the voids.
  • Are staff members cross-trained?
  • In the event that your leave lasts longer than expected, are your backups equipped with the tools needed to handle the increased workload for an extended period of time?

And most importantly, don’t forget to keep your clients in the loop once the news is public.

2. Build Up Your Cushion

Do you have several employees, or are you a one-man show? The answer to this question will dictate how aggressive your savings goals need to be to cover your absence.

If you’re fully staffed, your employees will probably be prepared to steer the ship while you’re away. But if you’re a solo-preneur, chances are you’ll be delegating a bulk of your workload to a trusted confidant and professional during your maternity leave. Both scenarios come with their own set of unique challenges.

Fully-Staffed Business

As I mentioned in 15 Money Principles for the Newly Self-Employed, no one will be as passionate about your business as you are. Next to your biological children, including the bun in the oven, your business is your baby.

So you know exactly what it takes to keep things running smoothly and foster expansion. Unfortunately, those who will assume back-up roles in your absence may not be equipped with the same vision required to properly identify opportunities for growth or potential risk factors, so you need to build a financial cushion to hedge against risk and declining revenues in your absence.


It’s my hope that things go as planned and you have a healthy baby. But what if things take a turn for the worse?

You could deliver far earlier than expected, or be forced to remain in the hospital as a patient or at your newborn’s side due to complications during the birthing process. Your health and that of your baby will take priority, which means your business could suffer a major financial hit and even be forced to close its doors. So be sure to set aside enough funds to keep things operational if complications arise.

3. Slowly Transition Away From Office Duties

The toughest part about trying to make arrangements for maternity leave is the small thought that lingers in the back of your mind: What if things don’t go as planned and I’m forced to stay away from my other baby (your business) much longer than I expected?

As much as I try to prepare moms for the uncertainty of childbirth, many fail to heed my warning and are left picking up the pieces when everything comes crashing down. That’s why it’s important to develop a Plan B. Once you’ve identified who will cover for you in your absence, slowly begin to delegate functions so they can get acclimated with their soon-to-be roles and ask any questions or tie up loose ends before your depart.

If you’re a control freak like me, this may be more difficult than you imagined. But it could also be a blessing in disguise. You may learn that someone else is better at a function than you are, and relinquish the task permanently so you can shift your focus to core business activities.

Every woman desires a pleasant birthing experience that aligns perfectly with her personal plans, but I know firsthand that babies have a mind of their own. The first time around, I didn’t know what to expect — nor did I grasp that what awaited was far more nerve-wracking than anything I’d ever imagined. My first son was born only two weeks early, but with digestive issues that resulted in endless wailing and fits at feeding time. And of course, we were walking zombies for several weeks until our bodies finally adjusted. The second time around, I thought I had prepared adequately. That’s until he also decided to make his grand entrance ahead of schedule — three weeks early.

4. Disconnect for a Few Weeks (or Months)

Before I gave birth to my first son, I was reminded on several occasions to cherish the younger years — because once they’re gone, you never get them back. And I have to agree that this statement is spot on.

As a fellow mommy-preneur, I understand how passionate you are about the business you started from scratch and how you fought to keep hope alive even when the road was rocky. But I can assure you that missing those precious moments for the almighty dollar bill isn’t worth it. Money is tangible and more can always be made; time isn’t.

My suggestion: Plan to completely disconnect from your entity for a least a few weeks after giving birth so you don’t miss out on all the joy your new arrival will bring to your life. It may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but I can assure you it’s a decision you won’t regret, especially if it’s the first time around.

Although my first son was rather fussy due to stomach discomfort, he was so precious during his first few months of life, and I can’t imagine how I would’ve felt had I not spent as much time as I did with him. My heart melted each time he gripped my finger, rested his little noggin on my chest to hear my heartbeat, or gazed into my eyes and smirked at me. Nothing in the world meant more to me during those moments, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

5. Schedule Follow-Ups

After several months of waiting patiently (or impatiently) to meet him, your new baby is finally here. A few weeks pass and your body is beginning to adjust to your new life as a mom. You’re more than eager to get back into the swing of things, but let me be the first to warn you that diving back in head-first may not be such a good idea.

Instead, follow the reverse pattern you used to delegate tasks before departing, and ease your way back in. You may not be fully prepared for what awaits you on the other side.

If you’re accustomed to working non-stop, boredom may have taken its toll while sitting at home. But returning to major administrative or operational issues is sure to evoke unnecessary emotions, especially if your hormones are still imbalanced, that could send you flying off the handle.

A better alternative: Schedule meetings or working lunches with each of your department leaders, or those who were left in charge during your absence, to discuss current operations and any major milestones achieved or concerns you need to be made aware of. This is the perfect way for you to get up to speed and process the information so you can develop an action plan prior to your return. And it’s proactive on your behalf — extinguishing a fire burning all around you is the exact opposite.

6. Balance It Out

I used to cringe each time I heard the phrase “work-life balance,” but now I understand the significance. Although my children aren’t at all babies anymore, I sometimes find it extremely difficult to balance it all.

Being a wife to a very business-minded entrepreneur, a mother of two active young boys, and a business owner — all at the same time — is extremely hard work. But over the years, I’ve found ways to make time for both the people I love the most and my third baby, the business. Here are a few tips if you struggle to find your balance:

Make the Most of Nap Time

Your new baby’s needs will most likely require you to completely adjust your schedule. And at the top of the list is sleeping patterns. Unfortunately, most newborns have their days and nights mixed up, so you may find yourself worn out after many restless nights and unable to do anything during nap time but nap yourself.

But as your baby grows older, her sleep patterns will (hopefully) change and you’ll be able to find more rest. When this happens, take advantage of any nap times throughout the day. It may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised by how much you can accomplish in that brief window.

Become an Early Riser or Night Owl

If you’re finding it difficult to spend time with your new arrival and manage all the work-related items on your plate, try getting caught up during hours when you know your little one will be asleep.

This is definitely a major sacrifice, but you’ll feel accomplished and maybe even rest easier once you’ve caught up on your long to-do list. And if you’re able to check off a few additional items, you may even get to squeeze in a nap yourself during the day.

Take Advantage of Favors

Was a friend or family member gracious enough to lend a helping hand so you can unwind? You may have reservations about letting your little one out of your sight, but that doesn’t mean you have to reject their offer. Instead, invite them over to keep the baby entertained and tend to their basic needs while you get caught up on a few projects in the other room.

Prioritize Tasks

Lunch date over forthcoming deadlines? I think not; well, at least not in my world. In fact, I can count on one hand the times I’ve headed out with a pal to grab a bite to eat when there was a pile of work on my desk that I desperately needed to complete. While it’s true you need to take a break on occasion and clear your mind so you don’t burn out, doing so with a bunch of projects lingering in the back of your mind sort of defeats the purpose.

Begin With the End in Mind

To be honest, I don’t look forward to completing or even starting every item on my to-do list. But if it’s there, that means I don’t have a choice; it’s essential for my business to function properly. Most importantly, I understand the repercussions if I choose to go against the grain. Anyway, I’d rather suck it up so I can make a decent living and spend more time with my children, because otherwise it’s back to the cubicle.

So, when the going gets tough, I’d strongly suggest you take a step back, reassess the situation at hand and remember why you started. That should motivate you to get back on track.

Bottom line: The precious moments you’ll share with your children are priceless. Money is temporary, but memories last a lifetime! So take as much time as you can with your new arrival — because once it’s gone, you can’t ever get it back.