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This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement After working as a certified medical assistant for decades, Sun Yong Kim-Manzolini thought, "There's no way I'm going to do this for the rest of my life."

By Amanda Breen

Key Takeaways

  • Sun Yong Kim-Manzolini became a certified medical assistant after college but struggled to make ends meet
  • She worked multiple jobs to support her kids as a single mother and wanted something more
  • She changed her life by learning to trade options — and now teaches others how to do it too
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Courtesy of Sun Yong Kim-Manzolini

When 14-year-old Sun Yong Kim-Manzolini was adopted from Korea by an American couple, she didn't know English or much about the U.S. — only that it was supposed to be a place of "freedom."

But she was determined to make her adoptive parents proud. "I had to learn to love somebody — a stranger, basically," Kim-Manzolini says. "But I was willing to do that because they were willing to take me in as part of the family."

Kim-Manzolini did everything her parents told her she should do: studied hard, got good grades, went to college. After graduation, Kim-Manzolini landed her "dream job" as a certified medical assistant, and she fell in love with taking care of patients.

Related: Making the Move from Medicine to Entrepreneurship

"I thought to myself, There's no way I'm going to do this for the rest of my life."

Yet despite following the "right" path and working hard in her career, Kim-Manzolini, like so many Americans, found herself "living paycheck to paycheck" and "struggling to pay the bills."

"I thought, This is crazy," she recalls. "Why am I suffering financially? I'm working 40 hours a week. That should be enough, right?"

Of course, it wasn't — especially since Kim-Manzolini was raising children as a single mother after leaving an abusive marriage. Her then-husband told her she wouldn't be able to provide for her family on her own and would end up on welfare.

"And I thought to myself, He might be right," Kim-Manzolini says. "But I'm not going to let him [box] me into that. Because I could work as many jobs as I needed to."

So Kim-Manzolini did. For years, she spent her evenings and limited days off working different jobs to make ends meet: selling vacuums, running a catering business, cleaning houses. Through it all, she continued working as a medical assistant. But the constant grind wore on her.

"At one point, I thought to myself, There's no way I'm going to do this for the rest of my life," Kim-Manzolini recalls. "I need to change to a different job, do different things that will make me money to the point where I could at least take my kids on a vacation or have a day off and spend my time with my kids on the weekends."

What's more, Kim-Manzolini couldn't fathom working so hard for so long only to be too old to actually enjoy her retirement; she saw the scenario play out time and again in her line of medical work, where patients retired just to "spend all their money on doctor's bills, emergency rooms and assisted living."

Related: How Much Money Do You Really Need in Retirement?

"I went over my goal, and I thought, Oh my gosh. I was shocked."

Kim-Manzolini knew she needed to find more lucrative sources of income — and she started looking into real estate, considering opportunities as an agent and investor in 2014.

It was while Kim-Manzolini and her new husband were attending real estate classes that she first learned of options trading. "What are you going to do with all of the money you make in real estate?" People asked her. "Why don't you look into options trading?"

Although Kim-Manzolini didn't know anything about options trading at the time, she was familiar with buying and selling stocks. She worked for a doctor who talked about his portfolio, but Kim-Manzolini had always felt it was "over her head" and that she couldn't afford to invest on her salary.

"[Options trading] was intriguing because I didn't have a lot of money, and it was really, really cheap," Kim-Manzolini says. She began to research what it would take to get into options trading but was dismayed to discover that it would require a computer. She didn't own or know how to use one at that point.

But when she retired one year later, in December 2015, Kim-Manzolini needed a new way to sustain herself — she had no money in her checking or savings accounts, and it was too soon to touch the pension plan, 401k and other retirement accounts she'd built up over the past 33 years.

I'd decided that I was going to study options trading — not knowing what kind of results I would get.

So, in January 2016, when her husband returned to work and her son to school, Kim-Manzolini announced that she was getting to work as well.

"My husband and my son said, 'Huh, you just retired. What are you going to work for?'," Kim-Manzolini says. "And I said, 'I'm going downstairs to my office.' I'd decided that I was going to study options trading — not knowing what kind of results I would get."

Kim-Manzolini taught herself how to use a computer and treated her options trading research "like it was [her] new job," practicing Monday through Friday when the market was open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

By the end of that year, despite periods of "frustration" and "growing pains," Kim-Manzolini had made roughly $100,000 with her practice account — and she was ready to try the real thing.

"Of course, I still didn't have any money," Kim-Manzolini says. "I couldn't touch any money, so I took out a home equity loan. Because you have to start somewhere. And I put it into my investment account, started investing and ended up making $178,000. I went over my goal, and I thought, Oh my gosh. I was shocked."

Image Credit: Courtesy of Sun Yong Kim-Manzolini

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes to Help You Achieve Your Goals

"If you give up, then you will never find out how successful you could be."

Today, Kim-Manzolini, a grandmother of four, makes seven figures trading options.

And she's paying it forward by teaching other people, particularly single mothers, how to use her "unique miracle system" to trade options so they can spend less time working and more time on what matters most.

"I thought, I'm going to teach this to single mothers so they no longer have to work six, seven days a week like [I did]," Kim-Manzolini says. "They no longer have to sacrifice their time; they get to watch their kids grow."

But anyone who aspires to financial freedom can learn from Kim-Manzolini.

"[There are] people working nine to five for the corporate world who are overworked and underpaid," Kim-Manzolini says. "They want to retire early. They don't want to work forever — just like me."

Related: How to Make More Money in 2023, According to The FI Couple

Kim-Manzolini credits her success to perseverance and the refusal to give in to fear.

"[People] tell us some fearful things," Kim-Manzolini says. "My kids [said], 'Mom, you are good at medical assisting and love your job. Patients love you. Doctors love you. What are you going to do?' And I said, 'I don't know. But I'm going to do something that I want to do that is not a pleasure. It's my own time.' [That requires] self-discipline and overcoming your fears.

"Because a lot of us will stop when we [first] feel the fear," Kim-Manzolini continues. "So one of the big takeaways is don't ever give up — because if you give up, then you will never find out how successful you could be."

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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