The Road to Wealth: Becoming a Millionaire Educator!

Happy New Year! (Have you heard the audio version of this article yet? Here it is for you below!)

Do you want to become a millionaire?

I’m hoping the interview I did with Gerry Born, aka Ed Mills on Twitter... aka Millionaire Educator if you follow his blog, will shed some light on how to get there.

He started out as a D1 Basketball player at Davidson College. Gerry then became a high school Spanish teacher (and has been occasionally since 1992). He has taught ESL in Saudi Arabia and coaches basketball.

However, he had a big financial goal in mind for his future, and I wanted all the details!

How did he start his career?

It started with his education!

He explained that he graduated from Davidson College with a degree in history in 1986. He went on to play basketball in Argentina and El Salvador.

He just happened to learn Spanish along the way.

Which is lucky since he’s frequently in situations where he needs to speak it!

Here and there, he would go back to North Georgia (his home town) to substitute teach. He would be asked if he was interested in becoming a Spanish teacher because back then speaking Spanish in Georgia was a rare commodity.

Eventually, he did become a Spanish teacher!

What sparked his interest in financial independence?

Gerry made $18,500 during his first year with a provisional certificate.

He knew the long term prospects for teaching weren't good in Georgia. He decided to go to grad school. He received his MBA and another graduate degree for Spanish.

Then Gerry decided to go overseas and teach in Saudi Arabia. He and his wife wanted to pay off the $45,000 in student loan debt from their MBAs.

His goal was to get his net worth to zero.

This was where his interest in becoming a millionaire educator was sparked.

Gerry started thinking more about money and wealth building. Then he started reading about finances and wealth. It left an impression.

He set a goal to save $100,000 and be debt-free--and he did it! When he left Saudi Arabia he had approximately $110,000.

How did they do it?

His wife got a part-time job at a local international school. She earned approximately $400 per month.

They set a goal to spend the money she made on groceries and meals out. They would spend his paycheck or a percentage of it investing.

That’s how they did it!

Then 9/11 happened.

He and his wife took jobs in Georgia, where they could be close to family. They stayed for seven years. During that time they bought a house and had their son.

However, they always planned to go overseas again!

Just not yet.

Gerry and 403(b)

During his time in Georgia, he still kept his goal of building wealth in mind.

He found out about the 403(b). He also learned that it can be very expensive. He actually lobbied for his district to offer educators Vanguard and TIAA CREF.

He and his wife fully funded their 403(b) and Vanguard IRAs. At the end of their seven years in Georgia, they had $450,000.

That’s a good start to becoming a millionaire educator!

Moving On

That’s when Gerry and his wife decided to shake things up.

They quit their jobs in LaGrange, Georgia and moved to an even smaller town, Statenville, Georgia. In this new town, the cost of living was a little lower than the town they moved away.

They did what is known as geographic arbitrage.

What exact steps did he take in the quest to become a millionaire educator?

Let’s take a close look!

He said they rented housing for $750. Then they turned around and rented out the house they moved away from in LaGrange, Georgia.

This allowed him to use his 457 money for living expenses, and he could max out all his other accounts.

In LaGrange, they had social security, but his new job didn’t. Which meant they were also getting approximately $7,000 a year in employer contributions, which also saved them money.

Imagine this: In a four-year time frame, they went from $450,000 to $785,000.

They were able to take time off and start the Millionaire Educator blog.

Jump to 2019

Gerry and his wife created another goal.

They wanted to max out their tax advantage buckets to the tune of $130,000. Since they are both over 50, they took advantage of their 457 accounts.

They both put in:

  • $25,000 each to 457

  • $25,000 each to 403 (b)

  • $7,000 each to IRAs

  • $8,000 each to HSA

In addition they each had $7,000 for employer 403(b) contributions (In lieu of Social Security) in their district. And they put $1,000 into our BTSAX mutual fund this year, in order to round it up to an even 130.

They hit their target!

They also set an example of how you can save money and become a millionaire educator.

Gerry and his wife are “deep in the pay scale”, as he commented. He also pointed out that they live a modest lifestyle in a low-cost area in South Georgia. He indicates they took advantage of opportunities that don't come around very often.

They made sure their working years counted.

Gerry became a millionaire educator!

OK, quick check-in!

How did you like this blog? If you've found it helpful and enlightening, please share your thoughts in the One Million Apples Facebook Community!

Or... if you find yourself in need of someone who can help you navigate your way through your financial plan, check me out at Wealth of Confidence!

I'd love to help you.

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