Alex Sanchez is on track to become a millionaire before he turns 30.
The 24-year-old is an overhead lineman in the Chicago area, works two side hustles and saves around $7,000 per month, not to mention the thousands more he invests into his 401(k) and brokerage account.
Growing up in what he describes as a lower-middle class household, Sanchez didn't know much about finances until he was around 20, and discovered personal finance videos and personalities on YouTube. After watching a few of these, he picked up books like "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki and "The Millionaire Real Estate Investor" by Jay Papasan. He's implemented the strategies outlined in these books, and others, in his day-to-day to earn and save as much money as he can.
Sanchez is a big fan of the FIRE movement — Financial Independence, Retire Early — but his goal isn't just to reach financial independence for himself. He also wants to help out his parents with their retirements.
"I have to give back to my parents, because they came here as immigrants to give us, their kids, a better life," Sanchez, a first generation American, tells CNBC Make It. "I know all the sacrifice and pain they went through, and I would stress it's my duty to give back to them."
When CNBC Make It interviewed Sanchez in August, he had a net worth of just over $203,000. Here's how he plans to hit $1 million in the next six years.
Sanchez is an overhead lineman for a utility company in Chicago, where he earns a base salary of $120,656. He didn't go to college — his company paid for his job training — and he pulls in plenty of overtime and an annual bonus.
Sanchez routinely works 60-hour weeks, sometimes only taking Sunday off to spend with his family and girlfriend. It's not a schedule everyone would want, but Sanchez doesn't mind the work.
"I never thought I would be doing this, but I fell in love with it," he says. This six-figure-salary was a big part of the appeal, but he also enjoys the physicality of the job. "I enjoy working outdoors, and there's no better feeling than turning the lights on when everyone's relying on you."
One of the main components of Sanchez's FIRE plan is building up his real estate side hustle. Sanchez owns three rental properties currently, which nets him around $1,600 per month. By 30, he'd like to own at least 20.
"I don't want to have to put in all the overtime, and I don't have to miss my kids' birthday parties or special events" in the future, he says. "I'm doing it all for the passive income so I can slowly buy my freedom back."
He says that this form of "passive" income will give him freedom should he ever want or need to leave his day job. That said, he wouldn't mind making more money for the time being.
"I don't think I'm comfortable, because I don't want to get complacent," he says. "I'm always trying to grow."
Sanchez still lives in the house he grew up in, with his mother and brother. The house is paid off, and Sanchez pays for utilities and upkeep. Though he has a long-term girlfriend he plans to marry, he says he's fine living at home for now: He's able to help out his mom, while padding his savings and investment accounts.
He brings his lunch to work every day, and tries to keep food expenses low: Chicken and rice is a common meal for him, and he limits the amount he goes out to restaurants and bars. In all, he spends around $400 per month on groceries and eating out, well below the $680 average for the Chicago area.
"I'm not really motivated by the material things," he says. "I'm more motivated [by] having the freedom to be able to do what I want, when I want."
Sanchez doesn't plan to live this way forever. It makes sense now, he says, to keep his expenses as low as possible while he puts his head down and saves as much as he can. But he plans to have a family of his own one day, with his own house and, ideally, family vacations.
"I want to be able to help people, and to be able to give back, especially to my parents," he says.