This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting, challenging, amazing things. This is the story of ‘Grant’ and how he has saved one million dollars before he reached his 30th birthday.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am 28 years old, currently living in Chicago. In the summer, my weekends are spent cycling along Lake Michigan, exploring cool neighborhoods, and having good brunches. In the winter I end up hibernating or escaping to the mountains to go skiiing as often as I can.I work as a management consultant, which basically means that I work on a bunch of short-term (anywhere from 6 week to 3-4 month) projects for big corporate clients. I travel all the time for work – I’m usually on a 6am flight on Monday morning and don’t get back until either Thursday or Friday evening. I also work a lot…I’m usually up at 5am and I check my email in bed before hitting the gym, and I usually fall asleep around midnight with my laptop open in bed, mid-email.
What was your family’s financial situation when you were growing up? How did you feel about money?
We’re first generation immigrants, and when we came over, we had very little money and didn’t know anyone in the US. My parents did an amazing job and we never went hungry, but looking back, my dad had multiple jobs and my mom worked 1 full time, 1 part time to make ends meet. I wonder where I got my workaholism from…
How did you make your million?
Through my job. I fortunately work at a great company where annual raises are in the 15-25% range, sometimes more if you get a promotion. Between making a great annual salary in the 250-300K range and no personal expenses while traveling during the week, it’s easy to save a lot of money while still treating myself to a very comfortable lifestyle on the weekends.
When you were choosing a career, was salary part of the decision process?
Nope, I always knew I wanted to be a consultant for two reasons. One, I love making things more efficient (it’s hard for me to observe someone doing a job without thinking (to myself) about ways they could lean things out). Second, I knew I’d get bored if I had to do the same thing day after day – in this job, no two days are the same, and I work on 3-6 projects each year that are completely different from each other.
What are some of the things that this money has allowed you to do?
I definitely don’t live extravagantly or even feel ‘rich’ – no private island or sports car here. Money mostly gives me a bunch of little conveniences: I can take the cab instead of waiting for the bus, I can shop at Whole Foods and not look at prices, etc. It also lets me be spontaneous. If a friend proposes going on a long weekend trip to Chile next week, I can say ‘absolutely’ and book it without thinking twice.
Are the people in your life aware that you have this much money?
When it comes to dating, I’m open about what I do for a living, and I’m guessing if the woman really cared, she could figure it out. But I definitely don’t bring it up…maybe I should, but I’d likely be super awkward about it, and I’m awkward enough as is!
What are the benefits of having this much money? The drawbacks?
Biggest drawback is by far the fear that if I were to quit, I’d never be able to make this kind of money again. Sure, I could quit today and go live in Asia for years, but if I come back and can only get a job making a fraction of my current salary, would I regret not sticking it out another year or two? I know I can’t live this lifestyle forever, but the golden handcuffs are compelling.
What advice would you give to others who are interested in making a million?
Especially if you’re sub-30, never take a job where the only chance to advance is to take your Boss’ job. If you do that, you’re relying on your boss either getting promoted, quitting, or getting fired in order for you to move up the ladder and get the big pay bump. Try to find companies and situations where there’s a clear advancement path and multiple spots at the next level up, not just one spot that you and all your peers have to compete for.
Oh, and live below your means. You can make all the money in the world, but trust me, I know several people who have the same job and salary as I do but are dead broke because of spending habits.Thanks so much for sharing, Grant! Are any of your actively working towards your first million? Do you have any questions for Grant?