Make Money In The Stock Market: Military Vet Tony Elion Jr. Shares How He Did It

Make money in the stock market.

It sounds so simple. Yet, realizing this wealth-creation goal intimidates many people, in part due to the perception that you need to be a Warren-Buffet-level financial genius and/or already wealthy to make this particular American dream come true. And, too often, books aimed at teaching ordinary people about investing in the stock market are similarly intimidating, especially for beginners who are quickly overwhelmed by investing jargon. Even books for investing novices seem to assume a basic level of knowledge that fails to meet enough people where they are—namely, still living from paycheck to paycheck. As a result, making money in the stock market is easy to say, but seems, to many, nearly impossible to actually do.

Therein lies the value of Sailor to Student: How I Made A Quarter of A Million Dollars In The Stock Market, And You Can Too by Tony Elion Jr. This book, in simple, everyday language, meets people where they are—not in the penthouses of sophisticated, high-income investors showcased in bank and investment company commercials, but in the basement apartments of regular people struggling with credit card debt, rising costs of living and stagnant wages. Elion shares, step by step (and in less than 100 pages), how he earned more than $300,000 in the stock market in 13 months, not as some kind of investing savant, but a military veteran and graduate student with no background, formal training, or licensure in finance.

The best part about Sailor to Student is that Elion focuses most of the book on the single most important key to successful investing—establishing a healthy financial lifestyle before you actually buy your first stock. This is the perfect first book on investing in the stock market for the person who has never purchased stocks before but is willing to make short-term sacrifices to build long-term wealth.

If that’s you, here are some of the tips and “mindset hacks” to get started with investing in the stock market shared by Elion in Sailor to Student:


To make money in the stock market you must already have money to invest. Most people believe they don’t. However, Elion says that money you could be investing in the stock market is likely being spent on something else.

“The first thing you have to do is track your money,” Elion says. “Do a quick look at your bank statements and your pay stubs. Find out what is the biggest bill you have and where you can eliminate expenses. Figure out where your income tax refund was spent. Figure out if you have disposable income (money to use on whatever you like), and what you have been buying with it. The quicker you track your money, the quicker you will know what is either draining or increasing your finances.

“More than likely, this means you will have to create a budget (if you don’t already have one), and you’ll need to actually start watching the budget to see where your money is going,” Elion continues. “If you can tell where your money is going, then you can see what needs to continue to be spent and what can be saved or invested.”


“I never tell people to invest money when they have car notes, credit card bills, furniture bills, etc. Your priority should be to get free of that debt, and only then should you look toward investing,” says Elion. “Getting out of debt is not impossible. It’s hard as hell, but it’s not impossible.”

Elion also includes paying for insurance (including health, life, home, and auto), and earmarking monthly contributions to retirement, a savings account (“at least a couple grand”) and an emergency fund equal to about six months salary. “You don’t have to have the savings and emergency fund fully stocked overnight,” he explains. “Save a bit here and there, grow them over time.”

The goal is to prepare yourself to invest in the stock market without putting yourself at unnecessary financial risk. “Using the strategy that I laid out,” says Elion, “if your investment goes bad, you will not suffer as much. Yes, money might be lost from the investment, but you will still be covered in your daily life and your retirement until the stocks regain value, or in a worst-case scenario, you have to write them off as a loss.”


To make money in the stock market requires rejecting the “get rich quick” mentality and embracing two critically important fundamentals of wealth creation: delayed gratification and discipline.

“The reason why the foundations of delayed gratification and discipline are so important is that you have to have your personal finances in proper order, so that you have money to invest,” Elion insists. “If you are sinking in debt, then you won’t have money to invest. If you are living check-to-check, then you won’t have money to invest. You have to sacrifice in the beginning, so that you can have disposable income to invest in the end. If you already have disposable income, but you are using it to get your hair and nails done, go to the club, take vacations, etc., then you have to be willing to stop that, to delay the gratification of those personal luxuries, and use that money for investing.”

“You have to be willing to be uncomfortable a little so that you have extra money for climbing out of debt and eventually for investing,” says Elion. “Once you have invested that money and start to watch it grow, then you can take the money from the investments and buy that new phone or new car or go on that vacation. You have to delay that happiness until you can enjoy it debt-free and worry-free.”


It is not possible to make money in the stock market without losing money in the stock market; it’s how the stock market works. The consistently positive returns historically delivered by the stock markets happen over time, as in years, not weeks or months—or before your next mortgage payment is due.

Related: 10 Top Personal Finance Books by Black Authors 

“I always tell people: Do not buy stocks with money you need!” Elion stresses. “You should be investing in stocks after you have your finances in order and not as a way to make a quick buck. If you want to try your luck at making a quick buck with your paycheck, then you should try the Powerball or a casino. Stocks should be approached as long-term investments, especially when you are first starting out and learning about the market.”