Here’s how my book, The Millionaire Teacher, soon to be published by Wiley Publishing, opens with its introduction:
If you were considering a profession, and you wanted to become wealthy, certain lines of traditionally high-paying work might tempt you. Would it be law, medicine, business or dentistry? Few, if any, would choose my profession if they aspired to be rich. I ’m a high school English teacher—a middle class professional if there ever was one. Yet, I became a debt free millionaire in my 30s.
I didn’t take exceptional risks with my money and I didn’t inherit a penny from anyone. When I went to college, I paid the entire bill myself.
I’m planning to use this book as a teaching tool for others.
Hypothetically speaking, a guy named Joe could invest 100% more money over his investment lifetime than a girl named Jane. But if Joe invests with the average financial advisor, Jane will likely end up with a portfolio that’s twice as large as Joe’s–despite investing less. Based on what I’ll show readers in my book, that’s a statistical reality—not some sales bunk.
And it gets better. Jane would be taking lower risks!
Better yet, an entire slew of Nobel Economic Laureates can back my claim. But let’s get back to my book’s introduction.
Would a young person following my evidence- based, efficient model of investing, who becomes a school teacher, amass more than a million dollars before their 40th birthday?
For convenience, we’ll assume that inflation won’t exist, and wages won’t increase, just for this example. Financial writers with a great story and a method of how they grew rich often claim that, “Yes, you too can accomplish the same thing.” But that kind of promise, perhaps, smacks of irresponsibility.
There’s only one certainty for those who follow my book’s investment suggestions: their investing will put them in the top 10-15% of all professional investors, over their investment lifetimes.
Earning investment performance that beats 85%-90% of the pros is actually a piece of cake. But amassing a million dollars on a teacher’s salary before the age of 40 involves elements of luck too.
Here are a few of them that were going my way:
1. When I was in college, I met a mechanic who was a millionaire. I was young, impressionable, and exposed to the right guy at the right time. He showed me what was possible. If I had not met him, there’s little chance I’d be where I am right now. For better or for worse, for a number of years after meeting this guy, I was tighter than bark to a tree. I saved money like a madman.
2. When I first started investing with a financial planner from the Canadian mutual fund company, called Investors Group, a retired academic economist by the name of Philip White (who I landscaped for every Saturday morning while attending university) told me that the investment service industry was rigged against the retail investor. He told me that I was investing inefficiently, and not long after, I started using the strategies I’ve defined in my book: evidence based (not sales based) methods of investing.
3. Somehow, my parents raised 4 kids who are entirely non material. I’m the oldest. And I don’t care about “things”, so I was easily able to save money without battling materialistic urges. I thank my parents for that.
4. In 2002, I was on a bike ride with someone who spotted a piece of oceanfront property on Vancouver Island. Property prices hadn’t moved in years and the price was slashed as a result of an acrimonious divorce the owners were going through. I wasn’t the one who saw the land, so if I was cycling alone, I never would have purchased it. Buying that land for $147,000 was a steal. Selling it a few years later for $484,000 was even better.
5. Dave Norcott, the former high school principal at GP Vanier in Courtenay, B.C., jumped continents and got a job as a deputy principal at Singapore American School. I had no intention of living in Singapore, but he convinced me. I’ve now worked in the Lion City for 7 full years, and I’ve made almost twice the salary (after taxes and including bonuses) that I would have made as a school teacher in Canada. If Dave didn’t get that job in Singapore, I’d probably be hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer.
6. I’ve somehow been genetically wired not to fear stock market drops. As an investor, I’ve always been excited to see falling prices, and I’ve benefited from buying low. I’ve met mutual fund managers who have the highest academic certification there is, for money management. But they’re afraid of falling markets. Perhaps it’s a bit like seasickness. No amount of learning can make you less susceptible to losing your lunch on a boat. There could always be a genetic component to stock market objectiveness.
7. I was a born wimp (or a born opportunist!) who could never have my entire portfolio in the stock market, so I have always had a bond component, as an investor. Then when markets have fallen drastically, I’ve sold portions of bonds to buy greedily into the cheaper stock markets. The lower the stock markets fall, the safer they are for long term investors. I’m curious to know what you think.
Which of these 7 lucky attributes contributed the most towards my “Outlier” status? I don’t know, honestly. Perhaps you can tell me.