Graham Stephan, YouTube sensation and real-estate investor, makes more in a month than most people earn in a year. As recently as 2019, the 29-year-old reportedly earned as much as $221,300 in a single month.
“I had terrible grades; I didn’t go to college,” he said during an interview on “The Financial Confessions” podcast. “Statistically I should not have been successful whatsoever, but I had an interest in working hard, and making money, and saving as much as I can, and really taking an interest to investing.”
Stephan says his journey to wealth began in 2008, when he obtained his real-estate license and started working as an agent.
“The commissions that I was earning were so sporadic, I didn’t know when the next deal was coming, so I just saved everything,” he said. “Saved up enough money in 2011 where it made sense to start buying real estate, so I started investing in real estate.”
He’d buy cheap foreclosures, fix them up, and rent them out for income. 
Stephan scored his first property for $59,500, and spent $12,000 on renovations. That same house is worth anywhere between $250,000 to $300,000 today — and it’s been absorbing $1,200 in monthly rent payments for the past 7 years.
As the real-estate market improved, so did Stephan’s commission checks. He’d reinvest his commissions with the income he was earning from his rentals to form a virtuous cycle. 
In total, he’s sold over $125 million worth of real estate.
Then came YouTube. 
“I’ve always wanted to make Youtube videos, so that was always a dream of mine,” he said. “I could make YouTube videos and talk about credit cards, and personal finance, and investing, and saving money. Basically all the things that my friends weren’t interested in — and I could talk to a camera and then have internet friends that would like to listen to me.”
He continued: “That alone earns over a million dollars a year, from just the YouTube channel.”
It’s a figure that was reconciled by CNBC’s “Millennial Money” series from late 2019, which featured Stephan as one of its success stories. CNBC found that Stephan earns an average of $90,684 a month through YouTube, setting him on a pace of $1.09 million annually.
Today, Stephan’s YouTube channel has over 1.5 million subscribers.
But just because Stephan is raking in exorbitant amounts of cash doesn’t mean he’s a big spender.
“I’ll save all of my money, as much as I can, like 99%,” he said. “And then when I get that 99%, I’ll save it up and try to buy another property with it. So I wait for a good deal to come up that makes sense to buy, and then I’ll spend it all on a property.”
“It’s almost like a challenge to save money,” he said. “I get so much enjoyment over just not spending it. I don’t know why, it’s like my brain is wired kinda weird.”
Stephan provided an example from earlier that morning. Instead of buying “designer coffee” at a cafe, he made it himself.
“I revel in the fact that if I can save $3 on that, and invest it over the next 50 years at a 7% return, it’s going to be worth like $200,” he said. “That’s just fun for me.”
Although that coffee may seem like a trivial purchase given his 7-figure income, Stephan said that his whole philosophy really comes down to optionality. 
“To me, the more money I save, the more options it gives me — and if I can cut back on the things that don’t matter — like coffee — and spend it more on the things that do, I just get enjoyment from that,” he said. 
He suggests trying to cut on down on impulse purchases, “or things that really don’t make that big of a difference” — and recommends sleeping on potential purchases before pulling the trigger. He says that chances are you’ll change your mind. 
In addition, Stephan wants you to think about what your purchase today will cost you in the long term. He provided an example involving the purchase of a pair of shoes.
If the shoes cost $100, Stephan will think about what that same $100 could grow to had he invested it for 20 years with a market return of 8%. 
“Would I rather have ‘X’ amount of money in 20 years than the shoes right now?” he asked. “And sometimes every now and then, I’d rather have the shoes. But a lot of times, I’d rather have the potential money you have in the future. That would, again, give you more options.” 
It’s that long-term mindset that keeps Stephan socking away swaths of cash to pump into the real estate market. He’s fully aware of power of compounding. 
“Not a lot has changed,” he concluded. “For me, I’ve really just been doing the same thing repeatedly.”