Expert Interview with Tyrone Solee on Becoming a Millionaire for Mint

Most of us at some point in our working life will encounter a bad boss - the kind that micromanage or undermanage or intimidate, making the hours you spend on the job miserable and infuriating.

In one of his first professional gigs, Tyrone Charles Solee faced bosses who teased him, leaving him to feel like the office punching bag and desperate for something better. He channeled this frustration into a lofty goal: to become a millionaire so that in the future he wouldn't be stuck in another awful job.

Tyrone reached his goal when he was just 26, and he is now one of the top personal finance bloggers in the Philippines with his site, Millionaire Acts.

Here, he talks more in-depth about his journey and offers advice to others who want to escape the rat race and achieve financial freedom. Read on:

Tell us about Millionaire Acts...when and why did you start your blog?

I started Millionaire Acts on Nov. 24, 2008. Before starting it, I was already blogging at a Blogspot blog. For my blog to look more professional, I decided to migrate to WordPress platform.

I was looking for a good, short and easy-to-remember domain name when I decided to get "Millionaire Acts" because back then, I wanted to become a millionaire, and I wanted to know how a millionaire acts.

Why did you want to become a millionaire?

My dream of becoming a millionaire started during my first employment. Back then, I was employed in an asset management company of a former global investment bank. Since I was the youngest among the employees and it was my first job, I used to be the "punching bag" of my bully bosses. They used to bully me and made me their laughingstock, most especially when they were stressed at work.

Back then, my office colleagues advised me to leave the company, but I hesitated because I was receiving an above-average salary and a huge performance bonus on top of that. With their unfair treatment as bully bosses, I came to a conclusion that most poor people are prone to abuse. They don't have an option but to stick to their jobs just to earn a good amount of money.

Since then, I promised myself that someday, that person who they used to bully would become rich. "I will prove myself to them," I said to myself. I would become a millionaire so that in case the same scenario happens again in the future, I would have my own freedom to leave the company whenever I wanted to without worrying about finances.

In essence, that bad treatment became my inspiration. It has become a source of my burning desire to become a millionaire. It was a blessing in disguise, so to speak.

Did becoming a millionaire live up to your expectations? How? How has being a millionaire enabled you to live a more fulfilling life?

Yes, becoming a millionaire has lived up to my expectations. I am now enjoying a more fulfilling life. I have secured my future already and the future of my future family. Occasionally, I travel to places locally and abroad.

Together with my blog as a medium for financial literacy education, I've been able to inspire a lot of people to take their own financial journey to escape the rat race. That is, for me, a more fulfilling life because I was able to help them. The emails and text messages conveying gratitude that I receive from the people who were inspired by my videos and blog are more than enough to fulfill me.

How did you earn your first million?

I earned my first million at the age of 26 through continuous saving, living a very frugal life, investing and having some sideline business. Admittedly, the bulk of it came from my savings from the salaries and performance bonus that I got from that three-year stint in my first company with the bully bosses. I made sure that my stay there produced good results financially, despite their treatment of me.

The sideline business that I had was during my college years. I did a buy-and-sell of mobile phones. During my free time I used to go to the library to use the internet and search for mobile phones that were considered good buys, as they're relatively cheap. I would then meet the seller. After using the phone for a few days or some even weeks, I would then post it back to the site to sell it at a higher price.

At the young age of 21, I also started educating myself about investing. At the age of 22, I had already started my first investment. It was a bond fund in a mutual fund. Months later, I invested in equity funds, which gave me good returns.

How were you able to achieve your financial goals while also leaving the rat race? Why was it important to you to escape the rat race?

Aside from frugal living and continuous saving, I also had an opportunity to meet with fellow bloggers who were successful at making money online. I studied various opportunities for making money online with their guidance, and I made a good sum implementing what I learned from them.

It is important for me to escape the rat race so that I can have my own freedom to leave the corporate life whenever I want to without worrying too much about finances. In addition, I want to financially secure the future of my future family.

What are some smart money management habits you think everyone should learn early on in order to reach their financial goals?

Since most of us are employees of a company, one of the best ways to save is to pay yourself first. Using Pareto's principle of 80/20, set aside at least 20 percent of your net income from your salary into savings. Use the equation INCOME less SAVINGS equals EXPENSES. That is to save first before you spend. Think of savings as the most important expense that you have in your life because it will buy your future. Always live below your means. Learn to budget. Prioritize first the needs versus the wants.

What are some bad habits we should try to kick?

We should kick our "one-day-millionaire mindset." That is, whenever we get a huge sum of money such as from a bonus or profit share, we spend it right away like there's no tomorrow. Most of us instantly gratify ourselves, but the sure way to wealth is always delayed gratification.

What are the most common mistakes you think people make when it comes to managing money?

The most common mistake that people make is that when their income increases, their lifestyle increases also. Most people have the idea of instant gratification. They feel they are always entitled to luxury because they worked hard for it. They are trapped in the so-called INCOME TRAP.

Imagine a pail of water being filled up. If it has a hole in it, no matter how much water you put in, the hole will just drain the water inside. The larger the hole, the faster the drainage will be.

Now, compare this scenario to your wallet and bank account. A lot of people do not know that what they are buying - those expensive gadgets, cars, etc. - are liabilities that serve as a hole in their wallets. Most of them will be employees for the rest of their life in order to pay their credit card bills and mortgages as a result.

Why is having multiple sources of income important to achieving financial goals? What advice can you offer on diversifying your income stream?

Having a multiple sources of income is comparable to a car running on a road with a spare tire. If the car's tire gets flat, it can continue its journey on the road because of the spare tire. The same principle can be applied to our lives. If we lose our job, which is mostly our main source of income, we could have other means of income.

Diversifying an income stream means investing your money to generate more income. This can be achieved by acquiring assets that can generate passive income so that even if you don't work, your asset is generating income for you. Examples of passive income opportunities are rental properties, investments in the stock market, virtual assets like websites and blogs, books, business franchises, etc.

What are some of your favorite types of investments?

Mutual funds or Unit Investment Trust Funds that are invested on stocks (equity funds) are my favorite type of investments. Both are open-ended funds managed by an expert fund manager who will do the investing for you, depending on your risk appetite.

With its current set up here in the Philippines, an average employee can start investing in a basket of stocks for a small amount - roughly $100 up to $200, depending on the fund manager.

What kinds of investments do you steer clear of?

Steer clear of investments that promise a guaranteed high return but low risk because they are a clear indicator of a scam. We all know that investments provide return, but a higher return comes with a higher risk. That is the clearly the risk-return trade-off in investments.

What are your favorite resources for learning about investing?

Initially, I was fond of Robert Kiyosaki books, particularly Rich Dad Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant. Later on, I read books such as The Millionaire Next DoorLaw of Leverage and others. With the rise of blogs nowadays, there are a lot of resources to be found on the internet. There has also been a rise of personal finance bloggers like me, and I am happy to read some of their blogs.

Connect with Tyrone on LinkedIn.