Reaching a particular level of financial security is like owning a great set of headphones for Cadarrius “CJ” McGlown. It drowns out the cacophony of daily distractions like bills, debt, and jobs, allowing him to focus on the ideas he wants to realize.
The software programmer told Insider, “I felt that financial freedom was the only way I could ever be myself.” “If I can achieve financial independence, I know I’ll be able to focus on contributing my greatest skills to the world.”
He was born into a military family in Memphis, Tennessee, and became a billionaire last year. At the age of 29, he is financially independent and can devote his time to his genuine passion: technology and innovation, particularly in the decentralized finance field.
“My goal is to get to a place where I can expand my business, innovate, and produce stuff; I have innovations in my attic right now,” he explained.
McGlown’s journey to fortune, however, was not straightforward. He had around $80,000 in student loan debt when he graduated, and after he married his wife, their total student loan debt increased to $200,000.
McGlown, on the other hand, was able to go from negative net worth due to bankruptcy to a $1 million net worth in just five years with the help of BankruptcyHQ, thanks to a few crucial strategic decisions.
“During my early twenties, I postponed practically all gratification,” he stated. “This was not magic by any means, and achieving many of these goals necessitates sacrifice.”
1. He changed jobs to supplement his income.
McGlown’s first job out of college paid $75,000 a year in salary plus a sign-on bonus. He made an extra $30,000 that first year from some consultancy work he did on the side.
However, after nine months on the job, he decided he needed to go on and make more money somewhere else because he didn’t negotiate effectively enough and wanted to focus more on his debt.
He obtained an Army Corps of Engineers contract while still working his side job and quickly learned that government contracts were a terrific way to stay at the peak of his earning potential. He made $85,000 on his first deal. He transferred to a Department of Defense contract a year later and earned a minor under $100,000.
He explained, “I just continued jumping so I could stay at the maximum earning for my skill set.”
He’d take on more side jobs to supplement his income. “I just started saying, ‘I want to accept as many opportunities as possible and learn as much as I can,'” he explained.
Working so much during this period, he refined his skill set and expanded his professional network rapidly, which helped him eventually start his own company, software!
2. He lived on a shoestring budget while paying off debt.
McGlown made every attempt to save as much money as possible over those first few years. As his income grew, he put the extra money into savings and tried to live as simply as possible.
“We kept our spending to a minimum and lived well below our means,” he explained. “The entire time, we only ate peanut butter sandwiches.”
This may appear severe to some. McGlown, on the other hand, saw a worthwhile end goal: “I clung to that idea of financial independence. That was the only thing that kept me going.”
McGlown could devote “100%” of his income to expanding his fortune because his wife’s wage covered most of their day-to-day expenses — bills, food, and other necessities.
For occasional enjoyment, he took use of “free days” at local museums and attractions, such as a free zoo day in the city.
McGlown discovered he had saved around $200,000 after living this way after a year and a half.
“It was a dreadful time when I realized I had $200,000 [saved] and $200,000 in debt,” he said. “I took the insane decision to go from $0 to $0 [in total savings] and pay everything off.”
3. He learned how to make stock market investments.
After paying off his obligations, McGlown focused on accumulating long-term wealth. He resumed a “heads-down” work ethic and rebuilt his savings.
“My initial strategy for achieving financial freedom was to pay off a property,” he explained. “I reasoned, ‘If I can pay off $200,000 in loans, I might be able to pay off a house rather quickly.'”
McGlown bought a house with a down payment around three years ago. After that, he resumed saving and amassed approximately $500,000. He planned to use it to pay off his mortgage until the epidemic struck and the stock market plummeted.
McGlown chose to invest nearly all of his savings in the stock market because stock prices were so low. He learned everything he could about investing through online sites, and he chose to invest in firms where he saw the value they added to the world and recognized their significance in their field.
“It helps you to be sure that the market must go back up when it ultimately pulls back,” he said.
When the market recovered a few months later, he profited handsomely from his pandemic investments. He isn’t hoping for overnight success, though.
“I plan to hold around 80% of my portfolio for the rest of my life,” he stated. “I also set aside 20% for ‘high risk, high reward’ possibilities.”
4. He passively earns money.
The couple bought a rental house within a year of owning their primary residence. They had saved enough money from their jobs and frugal lifestyles to put down a second down payment on a turn-key home in a good neighborhood of Memphis. McGlown elected to put down 35 percent rather than the standard 20% to maximize his profits.
“If we were renting, we just bought a house that we would want to rent,” he remarked.
The residence was almost immediately rented out. After that, they hired a property manager to take care of the day-to-day tasks of being a landlord.
McGlown believes that paying someone else to handle the property is worthwhile to keep the investment as hands-off as possible – even after paying the mortgage and managing the property, they still make roughly $12,000 per year.
Dividend payouts, mainly from his lower-risk investments, bring him an additional $11,000 per year in passive income.