Former Courtenay teacher saves, invests, becomes millionaire

How does a high school English teacher become a millionaire before he’s 40?

ANDREW HALLAM describes how you can be a millionaire in his  new book. He will sign copies of the book Saturday at the Laughing Oyster.

ANDREW HALLAM describes how you can be a millionaire in his new book. He will sign copies of the book Saturday at the Laughing Oyster.

How does a high school English teacher become a millionaire before he’s 40?

No, former Vanier teacher Andrew Hallam, didn’t inherit or win the lottery. He did it by being frugal and investing wisely.

And he learned a few tricks along the way, which he’s now sharing in Millionaire Teacher, The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in High School.

“The information in my book has been said and written about a million times,” Hallam says. “But I worked very hard — and had a great opportunity — to make sure what I say can be understood by anybody.”

Hallam, now living in Singapore, will be signing books at Laughing Oyster Bookshop this Saturday at 10 a.m. During his visit to the Valley, he’ll also be giving talks at various schools, including Mark R. Isfeld, Valley View, Lake Trail and Vanier.

The book, which was released in early November, has been getting rave reviews in MoneySense magazine and the Globe and Mail and was recently given a glowing write up by syndicated finance columnist by Scott Burns, which appeared in 83 American newspapers. The day we spoke, Millionaire Teacher was rated No. 1 on Amazon in the stock market investing category.

The book explains saving and investing in a straightforward, easy to read — and more importantly, understand — manner. Jargon is kept to a minimum and explained fully, as are step-by-step examples of how a person’s investment dollars might not be earning their full potential.

Millionaire Teacher is being promoted and sold internationally, but many of the stories — funny ones at that — take place in the Comox Valley.

In the past, Hallam took frugal to the extreme. As a young teacher determined to pay off his student loans, he lived on the beach at Kye Bay and survived by eating clams he dug close to home. Another time, while living on the far side of Campbell River, he commuted the 55 kilometres each way to École Robb Road, where he worked by bike. And one winter, he house sat in Miracle Beach but refused to turn on the heat.

“I don’t recommend anyone do what I did,” says Hallam, who is now 41. “But people could be a lot smarter about their money.”

He says the biggest mistake people make is paying interest on their credit cards.

“Everyone is in a different situation and sometimes times are tough, but too many people fail to differentiate between their needs and their wants.”

He also reveals that Canadians pay the highest financial fees in the world. In Millionaire Teacher, he shows how this places a massive drain on a person’s investments and recommends ways to avoid it.

Hallam has been interested in money and investing ever since he was a kid. He opened an investment account when he was 19 and prudently built his portfolio.

When he left Vanier to teach English in Singapore, he noticed that most teachers there had no pension plan and failed to invest much money. So he began trying to teach them what to do.

Hallam also began writing articles for MoneySense magazine, and when the editor suggested he write a book, he gave sample chapters to his colleagues.

“I thought I had explained everything in a very simple way,” he says, “but when college-educated people couldn’t understand it, I knew I had to start over again.”

Hallam tinkered with the book “forever.” Then, at age 38, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. While he was recovering from treatment, he got serious about the book and completed the first three chapters.

“I e-mailed them to my dream publisher at midnight, and by 10 a.m., Wiley & Sons said they were interested — I was amazed!”

When asked why he’s still working even though he’s a millionaire, Hallam replies, “I love my job — what else would I do?”

But while he thinks managing your money is pretty important, he’s also learned something else over the last few years.

“Every day is a gift,” he says. “What’s really important is your health and your relationships. Everything else is just noise.”

For more information about Hallam, check out www.facebook.com/millionaireteacher or www.andrewhallam.com.