4 tactics a software engineer used to go from $200,000 in student loan debt to a millionaire by 29

4 tactics a software engineer used to go from $200,000 in student loan debt to a millionaire by 29

Cadarrius “CJ” McGlown, a software engineer and self-made millionaire. Cadarrius McGlown CJ McGlown finished school with $80,000 in debt. After marriage, the debt became $200,000.

Now, McGlown has his own business, a stock portfolio, and a net worth of $1 million.

He credits job-hopping, being frugal, investing in stocks, and making passive income to his success.

Read more from Personal Finance Insider.

For Cadarrius “CJ” McGlown, reaching a certain level of financial security is like having a really good pair of headphones. It blocks out the noise of everyday distractions — bills, debt, work — and lets him focus on the ideas that he wants to bring to life.

“I felt like financial freedom was the only way that I could ever be myself,” the software engineer told Insider. “If I can achieve financial freedom, I know that I can be un-distracted when trying to contribute my best skills to the world.”

He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, in a military family and became a millionaire last year. He is now financially independent at the age of 29 and can focus his attention on his true passion: technology and innovation — particularly in the decentralized finance space . Popular Articles

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“The goal is to get myself to a point where I can build my business and innovate and create things; I’ve got inventions in my attic right now,” he said.

But McGlown’s wealth-building path wasn’t linear. Upon graduating, he had about $80,000 in student loan debt, and after he married his wife, their combined student loan debt became $200,000.

However, because of a few key strategic choices, McGlown was able to go from a negative net worth to a $1 million net worth in just five years.

“​​I delayed almost all gratification during my early 20s,” he said. “This was not magic by any means, and it does take sacrifice to achieve many of these things.” 1. He job-hopped to increase his income

McGlown’s first job out of college came with a salary and sign-on bonus equaling $75,000 a year. With some consulting work he was doing on the side, he made an additional $30,000 that first year.

But nine months into that job, he realized he needed to leave and make more somewhere else because he didn’t negotiate well enough , and he wanted to tackle his debt more.

While still working his side gig, he procured an Army Corps of Engineers contract and quickly realized government contracts were a great way to stay at the top of his earning potential. On that first contract, he earned $85,000. A year or so later, he moved to a Department of Defense contract and made just under $100,000.”I just kept jumping so I could stay at the max earning for my skill set,” he explained.To increase his income even more, he’d work other side jobs. “I started just saying, ‘I want to take as many opportunities as I can, and learn as much as I can,'” he said.During this time he also honed his skill set and grew his professional network at an accelerated pace by working so much, which helped him eventually start his own business, HeySoftware! . 2. He lived below his means while paying down debt In these first few years, McGlown made every effort to save as much money as he could. As his income increased, he put all of that extra money towards savings and lived as frugally as possible.”We minimized expenses and lived under our means extremely,” he said. “We literally only ate peanut butter sandwiches the whole time.”To some, this could feel extreme. But to McGlown, there was an end goal that felt worth it: “I grasped onto that thought [of financial freedom]. That’s what really kept me in it.”His wife’s salary covered most day-to-day expenses — bills, food, and other basic necessities — which allowed McGlown to allocate “100%” of his income to growing their wealth.For occasional entertainment, he took advantage of “free days” at local museums and attractions, like a free zoo day in the city.After a year and a half of living that way, McGlown realized he had saved about $200,000.”It was a terrible moment where I was like, ‘Wow, I have $200,000 [saved] and I have $200,000 of debt,'” he said. “I made the crazy decision to go to $0 [in total savings] and pay it all off.” 3. […]

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