Anton Ivanov is not your typical millionaire. He didn’t inherit his fortune from wealthy parents, doesn’t drive fancy fast cars and he doesn’t live in a huge estate overlooking the ocean. He is not a movie star or a professional athlete or even a celebrity of any kind, really.
He was just your typical kid growing up, with ordinary hopes and fears, but he had one thing that most kids lack: a goal that he had set at age 16 to become a millionaire. A goal that he accomplished in less than 10 years.
Just a few short months ago at the age of 26, Anton Ivanov crossed the threshold of that million dollar mark, accomplishing the goal he set 10 years earlier. But unlike most of the millionaires his age, he didn’t become so wealthy by being a teen music sensation or the most liked kid on the popular Teen Nick show.
Ivan says that his net worth by October 2014 is $1,070,969. He became a millionaire by following a few simple rules:
1. Start Young
Ivanov grew up in a moderate, middle class family where both of his parents worked. They migrated to Southern California from Russia in 2002, after living through one of the worst economical depressions in Russian history. During his younger years, Ivanov remembers thinking that people were foolish with how they spent their money.
He also realized at a young age the lack of financial education available to people his age, both from his parents and from his high school. He enjoyed reading books about building fortunes and becoming rich and wealthy. In fact, he couldn’t get enough of them.
These literary “teachers” helped Ivanov set his first major goal at age 16: to one day be a millionaire.
2. Work Hard and Save More
Anton was your typical teenager in the sense that he had a regular high-school job working at a local Subway restaurant making minimum wage. But while most teenagers would quickly spend their small paychecks that they earned every couple of weeks, Anton opened a savings account and deposited 100% of every one of those paychecks for three years.
In his spare time, he didn’t play sports or instruments like other kids his age. Instead, he took on extra work as a freelance computer programmer and web designer, earning him extra money to stash away into his savings accounts.
3. Make Wise Career Decisions
When Anton Ivanov graduated high school, he had already saved up over $10,000. But while most of his classmates chose to go to college, Ivanov decided that a traditional college education was simply not worth the money it would cost to attend.
Instead, he kept working a couple more years until opting to join the United States Navy at age 20. This decision was one of the smartest ones he had made up to that point. Not only did he earn around $55,000 a year from the Navy in the form of an annual salary, along with having most of his basic needs provided to him (rent, utilities, food, etc.), but he was also able to earn that college degree while enlisted in the service, letting Uncle Sam pick up the tab for his tuition and fees.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in information technology and programming, all while serving his time in the military. During his years as a naval electronics technician, he continued to take on extra work on the side as a freelancer, allowing him to save over 60% of his naval income each year, which worked itself out to about $45,000/year into his savings.
4. Always Maximize Savings Contributions
On his 18th birthday, Ivanov opened his first Roth IRA account, and quickly proceeded to max it out to it’s annual contribution limit of $5,500. He then opened up a modest brokerage account where he carefully invested in low-cost stock mutual funds covering a wide variety of asset classes.
He knew that hand picking stocks wasn’t ideal for him, and preferred a much lazier approach to watching his money grow: by putting it in the right long-term investments and letting the market do the rest.
And then the financial crisis of 2008 hit….
5. Make Smart Investments
While the stock market crash hit his bottom line pretty hard, he never lost sight of his overall goal to become a millionaire. He knew the only way to weather the storm was to hold tight and ride through the turbulent times. When the market finally hit bottom, he saved and invested even more.
Fortunately for this bright young man, the 2008 stock market crash also resulted in the housing market suffering some of its lowest numbers in years. Ivanov had insight into these trends and saw real estate as a perfect investment, buying his first piece of property in 2009. It was a nice condo in San Diego that had a bargain price tag of $400,000. He now rents this property out year round, making about $12,000 in rental income after paying his mortgage payments, and the property is now worth about $600,000 after only 5 years.
This prompted Ivanov to purchase his second property, a duplex for $430,000. He lives in one half of the property while renting out the other half for a resulting additional $12,000 in rental income after his mortgage is paid. He is not only essentially living for free, but actually earning $24,000 a year on the income from his property investments each year.
6. Keep it Simple and Plan Ahead
One thing that has always remained true for this young financial genius is that the smartest financial decisions are often the simplest. While most Americans only manage to save a mere 5% of their income each year, Ivanov has committed to putting aside 60% of his earnings. How does he do it? Simple. Don’t think about it.
He has his paychecks direct deposited into savings accounts so that he never has to see the money in the first place. He also has multiple accounts set up for various financial needs and goals set far into the future. Everything from his gym membership to his wedding in 2 years has been planned out financially and his earnings are allocated accordingly.
While becoming a millionaire had been this young man’s goal since an early age, it wasn’t an easy goal to attain. But rather than earning a quick fortune by being famous, he earned his wealth the good old fashioned way: by making smart financial decisions and sticking by them. Something so simple that anyone could do it.
Jennifer Leonhardi was born and raised on Catalina Island, giving her a unique small town perspective and focus on community. With a degree in Sociology, she now primarily enjoys writing, largely based on her own experiences, on topics such as financial assistance programs, issues concerning the home and family, and socioeconomic trends.