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He went from being unemployed to a millionaire in five years.

3 minute read

At 24 years old, Grant from Millennial Money felt like he wasn’t in control of his life. Five years later, he was a “millennial millionaire.”

He had already graduated college with a philosophy major, worked four jobs which didn’t pan out, and was living with his parents. He reached a dead end.

“I realized I didn’t have a ton of skills that would provide me with a decent paying job with potential for growth,” Grant remembers. Then one day in July 2010, while searching for a book on his iPhone, he noticed something called “Google Ads.”

He did some research and found out that you could make “10 to 20 percent” using Google Adwords. Grant took advantage.

Not all education is expensive

He says, “Within 30 to 60 days I went from knowing nothing about Google advertising to becoming certified through Google University in both fundamental and advanced levels.” The University was free and offered on YouTube.

Now armed with relevant skills, Grant earned a job at a digital marketing agency running their Google Adwords campaign.

“Something I learned for free on YouTube gave me a skill, which was in demand and turned my feeling of helplessness around,” Grant says.

Once Grant started making money, something he calls “the second phase of his career,” he began reading more about finances. That’s when he discovered compounding interest, or additional interest made on an investment, reinvested to earn even more.

“I knew that even though my new job wasn’t paying me a lot of money, I did have one thing on my side: time,” Grant says. “Time is the most essential element of investing because it takes time for money to grow and the more time you have the more opportunity your money has to grow due to compounding interest.”

So, Grant began working more and saving more. He not only worked his full-time job, he also worked side hustles. Over a four- to five-year period, he worked at least 80 hours a week.

Grant finally left his full-time job and started a consulting business. At his peak, he had 12 income streams coming in.

“I started to save 15 percent of everything I earned, then 25 percent, then 40 percent and started investing,” he says. But he also sacrificed a lot during that time.

“There were trade offs,” Grant remembers. “I said ‘no’ a lot, and for two years I was invited and didn’t go to Coachella with my best friends.”

But when he looks back at all the sacrifices and lost time, he says “Those sacrifices have given me more opportunities today. I feel like I traded time in my 20s for more time in my 30s.”

A millionaire in only five years

Grant started with a goal: Become financially independent. Despite his initial helplessness, he was successful.

But what he didn’t expect was to reach that goal in so short amount of time.

“In just 5 years I went from $2.26 in the bank to a millennial millionaire. I now own three successful companies, one of which grew 122 percent last year,” Grant says. “Over the past 10 years I have worked on over 300 websites and directly managed over $100 million in digital advertising.”

These days he thinks more about lifestyle goals rather than just financial goals.

“At the end of the day, you have to figure out how much money is enough to live the life you want to live,” he says. “Money doesn’t matter if you’re not happy.”

He gave a good example — and one that I did when my daughter was one year old. “If a person wants to spend more time with their family, and that makes them happy, they may have to only work part-time or work less and make less money.”

If that works for you, then you’ll probably have to reduce your living expenses.

“A vast number of Americans spend their money on three categories: housing, transportation and food,” Grant says.

When Grant was working toward financial independence and making some money, he left his cool $1,500 apartment in Chicago “for a crappier $700 apartment.” He also drove a used $800 car.  “Envision the blueprint for your ideal day and then figure out how much money it requires to live that day.”

It may be less than you think — if you live modestly.

Tips from the man himself

Grant provided three tips that could help you live your ideal day sooner:

  • Shift your mindset from making money to a net worth mentality. Your net worth is the most important number, so track it and be diligent if you want to retire early.
  • Do more than automate your finances. Move beyond automation into a hybrid of manual money management and automation, so you are more aware of how much money you’re saving and investing. For example, saving 5 percent of a $50,000 salary just isn’t enough.
  • Keep pushing yourself. Read about money, focus on money and think about money. The best way to control your money, is to spend time with it. Americans spend more planning their vacations per year than they do on their finances.

In parting, Grant shares a quote from Seth Godin, a best-selling author: “Money is the story you choose to tell with it.”

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About the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Bienkowski is a contributing writer and is the face of's 'By the Numbers' videos.

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