Rocky Lalvani, 50, Harrisburg, Penn.
A first-generation immigrant from India, Rocky Lalvani came to the United States when he was 2 years old. His wife Dolly, also from India, immigrated at 16. Both worked their way through college (as an accounting assistant and a dishwasher and pizza deliveryman, respectively,) to graduate debt-free. Once they secured full-time jobs—Rocky in sales, Dolly as a Certified Public Accountant—they started saving.
“I began putting away a percentage of my paycheck to savings and retirement,” Lalvani says. “I started out at probably around 10 percent, [and] have continued to increase that to over 30 percent. Every time we paid off a debt or received a raise, we added to our savings.”
While Lalvani says both he and Dolly started out with “quite low” salaries, their earnings have steadily risen to the low six figures. “We earn a good income, which definitely helps to increase the amounts we can save,” Lalvani says. But the Lalvanis, who are parents to two teenagers, are also careful to keep their expenses in check.
“We could buy a much larger home, but choose not to,” Lalvani says. “We buy clothes and other products off-season for significant discounts. We negotiate and will wait for the right time to make a large purchase, or do without if we feel it’s not worth the costs.”
Thanks to smart spending and strategic investing in vehicles like their 401(k)s, IRAs, brokerage accounts, and, in the past five years, rental properties and house flips, the Lalvanis reached millionaire status by their early 40s.
While both continue to work, they are planning to retire early, around the time their children graduate from college. As for what they’ll do then? Lalvani says he’ll teach people what he’s learned about money over the years. “My goal in retirement is to help others systematically build wealth regardless of their income through simple, easy-to-follow steps,” says Lalvani, who blogs about this topic at RicherSoul.com.
His advice for others: Step No. 1: “You need a plan for your life,” Lalvani says. “Without a plan, it’s very hard to answer financial questions of what to do with your money, and it’s also hard to create a target for how much you need.” With a plan in place, he recommends living below your means by spending wisely and setting up automatic savings that reinforce the classic advice of paying yourself first.
Finally, he adds, “Invest the amounts you save to create the freedom to do what you want, and have the ability to pay for it.”
*Last name has been changed.
May 11, 2016
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