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Grant Sabatier is a busy guy.
Not only does he have a crazy successful blog, Millennial Money, and an awesome podcast, Financial Freedom, he’s got a brand new book out too! Aptly named Financial Freedom, it’s the Millennial’s blueprint for how to become financially independent as soon as possible.And Grant speaks from experience. This isn’t just book-knowledge.
He grew his net-worth from pennies to over 1 million dollars in 5 years, reaching financial independence by age 30.
As someone in the twilight years of my 30’s and still striving to reach financial independence, that’s CRAZY impressive.
He’s been featured in too many publications to mention, but I’ll name-drop a few biggies like The New York Times, Washington Post, and Time.
But Grant hasn’t let fame and success go to his head. He’s incredibly down to earth and approachable as I’ve found out first hand as I’ve gotten to know him in a couple of blogging groups we’re both a part of.
It’s rare to find someone with the wisdom that comes from such a breadth of experience and the ability to communicate it so clearly to those of us who need it most. And, I have to say, it’s just cool to have a legit author on (come on people, Vicki Robin, David Bach, and Chris Guillebeau wrote recommendations for Financial Freedom!!).
It’s a MASSIVE honor to have him share his wisdom with us on Band of Bloggers this week.
Tim Ferris says that “Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.” What is one vague wish you were punished by or one specific ask you were rewarded for?
I think punish is too harsh of a word – it implies some torture, but I consider everything I experience an opportunity to grow.
I don’t use the word punish – why would I put that upon myself? I’ve also never really wished for anything, beyond maybe a couple of times when I was a kid while blowing out candles on a birthday cake. What I have always done is hoped that I could create a happy and peaceful life.
To hope and wish are different. I think that hope is an energy you can surround yourself with, whereas a wish is more direct.
I think what Tim is inferring here is that it’s important to be specific with your goals and what you want in life. That intention is important.
I was very intentional when I set a goal at 24 to make $1 million and retire as quickly as possible. Those weren’t wishes. They were asks because then I backed them up with action.
I’m grateful that I was able to make it happen after a ton of focus and work.
ME (IN RED) I think that Grant has gotten to the essence of these question from Mr. Ferris. Goals that aren’t specific AND backed up by actionable steps might as well just be a birthday cake wish – they probably aren’t going to happen.
When a person sets a specific goal, however, devises a well thought out plan of attack, and then executes it, the rewards are sure to follow.
This is what Grant did in his own life to become a millionaire by 30 and it’s what we all have the choice to do each and every day as well.
What is the one book (or books) that you have given to your friends? Or What are one to three books that have greatly impacted your life (money related or not)?
The three books I’ve given out the most because they impacted me deeply, are The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh, Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. and Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim.
But there are also many others and I can’t wait to give out copies of my own book, Financial Freedom, ha ha.
Ok, this is awesome. This is probably one of my favorite questions in Band of Bloggers because I get to expand my own reading library and I’ve come across some real beauties.
For anyone in the personal finance world, Your Money or Your Life is a classic that everyone’s heard of, but the other two? They’re brand new to me! I’ll have to check them out! And I have to say I was SUPER impressed with Grant’s book, Financial Freedom. It’s well researched and thought out, and definitely provides a different take on how financial freedom can be reached. It’s not your father’s money book.
Not only is it well written and very readable, the pages just seemed to fly by as I was reading! It’s a must-read for any millennials trying to get a handle on their money, or for anyone wanting to master their money and reach financial freedom before the society-approved age of 65.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last year (or in recent memory)? The more specific details the better!
I bought a really nice leather wallet that has a notebook in it that I carry around with me everywhere.
Over the past few years, I write a lot of phrases, poems, and thoughts that come into my head. I’m able to capture them immediately. It was immensely helpful when working on my book Financial Freedom. It cost me $100, but the quality of it is incredible and I use it every day.
Hmmm, again interesting. This sounds like such an awesome idea. I often times find myself with different ideas and I end up putting them in my phone but sometimes it’s a bit of a pain in the butt to load the app, start a new document, and then type out my inspiration, which may or may not have floated away into the ether.
Having a notebook would make getting things down a lot easier, and I like that it doubles as a wallet. I feel like if it was just a notebook, I’d lose it, but my wallet I keep a close eye on. And having it nearby would be important because you never know when inspiration will hit! Although can I tell you something? It’s strange but some of my best ideas come when I’m in the shower. I guess I need a waterproof whiteboard for in there!
How has a failure or apparent failure, set you up for success later? Do you have a favorite success?
I’m grateful I made so many stupid money decisions in my early 20’s – from going deep into credit card debt, to blowing all of my money, to trying to day trade stocks, because once I decided to take money seriously at the age of 24, I’d gotten most (not all) of the mistakes out of my system.
I needed to fail first before succeeding. Failure is great because you can only get better.
Love this outlook from Grant. It’s called having a Growth Mindset and it’s something that I have to remind myself of all the time.
Failure isn’t final. It’s just one step along the long winding path of learning and growth.
Learning from your own mistakes is what smart people do. Wise people often learn from other people’s.
This is something that I’m still working on and it’s another reason I love Band of Bloggers. I get to pick the brains of some of the brightest people in the blogging world. These are people who have been through the things that many of us are facing right now with our businesses, blogs, and our lives and they graciously share their nuggets of wisdom with us. It really is a pretty sweet deal.
What is a quote(s) that you live your life by or that you find yourself repeating to yourself?
“You are enough” – Thich Nhat Hanh and “Take what you need and leave the rest.” – The Band
In this age of hyperconsumption, the words penned by The Band in 1969 were WAY ahead of their time.
We don’t need so much stuff.
I’m never reminded of this more than after Christmas, especially with kids. With gifts strewn around the house and old toys collecting dust, the amount of stuff can be overwhelming.
And it’s not just the kids.
I’m a pack-rat by nature so I hold onto things for no sane reason (a rare moment of admission!).
Thankfully my wife is in the process of reforming me and I’m improving (slightly) when it comes to getting rid of things, but I’ve got a long way to go.
What’s one of the best or more worthwhile investments you’ve made (money, time, energy, etc.)
Amazon stock in 2010 and starting Millennial Money in 2015. I spent over 1,000 hours on Millennial Money before I had any regular readers or made a dime, but that blog has made my life so much richer.
Amazon stock price in January of 2010: $125.41. The price in January of 2019? $1629.51.
Enough said about that.
The blog example is very encouraging to me. I too have spent hundreds, creeping up on a thousand, hours on my blog. I haven’t made a lot of money (yet) and I don’t have thousands of readers (yet).
But as you’ve heard me say many times before, I’m not giving up on finding success.
I am continuing to work hard and put in the time to build my blog into a successful business. In fact, over Christmas, I was putting my nose to the grindstone prepping for a new course that I’m working on to help parents teach their kids about money! (Stay tuned for details…)
Even though I haven’t found the financial success some bloggers do in their first year, I’m holding on to my growth mindset. I’ve learned TONS, grown so much as a writer and person, and even had to face elements of myself and my personality I may not have had it not been for the blog.
It’s been a really positive experience and one I wouldn’t trade for anything (except maybe 100,000 monthly readers and 5 figure monthly income?).
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?
Learning to let go of perfect.
I used to try to quantify and measure everything, create perfect habits, and now I just let myself exist – bad habits and all. I don’t view life as a project to be improved, I view it as a gift to be lived. Last year I gave myself permission just to exist.
That’s a very interesting perspective and one that you don’t often hear in the blogging/podcast/entrepreneur world.
So often we hear about how to develop high-performance habits, or that forming good habits are the key to being successful. Self-improvement gurus tell us that we need to be striving and constantly improving, that if we’re not moving forward we’re moving back.
Grant takes a very contrarian view.
Strive less. Exist more.
Life is a gift to be lived, not a project to be improved.
It seems strange to say because so much of my DNA seems to be wired for improvement. I’m not even sure how I would go about doing this. And I’d be interested to talk more about how to find the sweet-spot between true contentment and starting to atrophy because you’re not actually growing as a person. How do you avoid becoming content with parts of yourself that you really do need to change?
Man, I really wish this was a podcast so I could dive in deep here! Maybe Grant will write a piece on it and expand further.
What advice would you give to a smart, industrious, newbie blogger as they start out?
Don’t do it unless you love it and have something to say.
Life is too short. There are many easier ways to make money than blogging.
Also, go hard or go home. I see too many bloggers who just copy other bloggers. Be yourself. I want to know who you are. What do you struggle with? What makes you human?
Once again, life is too short to write a blog that you don’t love. 99.99% of bloggers stop writing within 1 year (or at least it seems that way). That’s time you’ll never get back. Be realistic about why you’re doing it and what you want to get out of it.
This is great wisdom from Grant. So often I find myself pulled towards trying to copy what other bloggers have done to find success. And to a certain extent, I think you want to emulate what successful people have done.
But too often that can morph into trying to be like other bloggers and writing about things I’m not really passionate about. At some points, you can even feel like you’re not yourself anymore.
I definitely don’t want this.
Yes, I certainly want to take into consideration what my readers are interested in reading about. But I don’t want to go so far that it feels like it’s not even me writing anymore. I want to be real.
As a blogger still establishing my audience, this can feel a bit scary. What if who I am doesn’t interest people? What if my writing isn’t what people want? And maybe the biggest fear of all, what if I fail?
These are scary questions that I think every writer, artist, musician, or creator has faced. And that’s what makes the process more beautiful than the product. Putting yourself out there is a courageous act. So my utmost respect to all of you who write, post, create and put yourself out there for the world to see.
What common advice should they ignore?
That you need to write on a set schedule. Writing schedules stress me out. Just do it or don’t do it.
Again, Grant’s advice flies in the face of the conventional blogging wisdom that says you need to set up your monthly editorial calendar and stick to it in order to be productive and successful.
I know for myself, my weekly schedule is often changing. There are different things going on throughout the week that make long-term scheduling tough.
One of the things that I’ve started doing is getting up earlier in the morning. It’s been good because I can pretty much always control my schedule between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am. By going to bed earlier and getting up before the crack of dawn, I’ve had a bit of time each day set aside to be able to write and work on my blog.
I’m still in the initial phase of this new life experiment so I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ve heard great things about getting up earlier from Band of Bloggers contributors J$ and Scott from Making Momentum so I wanted to follow suit!
What are 1-3 apps/programs/plugins that have allowed you to maximize your time/energy?
I’m a big fan of Slack and old school note taking with a pen. I also like the Oak Meditation app. I’ve never needed a time tracker or productivity app and most apps just take my energy instead of giving me more. Trust your intuition.
What one thing has been most effective for increasing traffic on your blog?
Being vulnerable. Never holding back. Being myself. Taking risks.
Focus on your writing first, tactics second. Write, write, write. Try to get better. Fall in love with writing as a way to explore yourself and the reality you construct in front of your eyes. Deconstruct why you have certain feelings – lean into what scares you.
Oh yeah, and make sure you write long enough posts so they might rank on Google – too many great writers don’t optimize so it’s harder to discover them.
Writing great content is one thing. Writing great content that other people can find in a sea of mediocrity is quite another.
Optimizing my posts for SEO is one thing that I’ve really been trying to focus on lately. I’ve written some absolutely EPIC posts on Living Life to the Fullest, The Marshmallow Experiment and Delayed Gratification, and How Your Car Loan is Making You Poor. Not only were these topics that I was really interested about so it was easy for my voice and passion to shine through in my writing, but they were also pieces I optimized so that they’d rank on Google.
SEO is a long game and I’m still waiting to see the fruits of my labors, but I’m in this for the long haul and am willing to wait to see the benefits.
What does resilience mean to you? When have you had to be resilient?
You are both what you do and what you want to be. The way you see the world is just your view, it’s not the way the world is. Resilience is trusting yourself and not worrying about what’s going on “out there”.
Every day I try to be me and then also acknowledge the limits of me. This moment is all there is.
I love what Grant say here about trusting yourself and not worrying about what’s going on around you. Far too often we’re consumed with worry about things we can’t control. In the end, we can only control a very limited number of factors, namely our attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors (to a certain extent).
As I wrote about in my post about Living Life to the Fullest, when we realize this fact and focus simply on what we can control and trust ourselves with that, we’re able to live a life of fulfillment and no regrets.
What’s the most important thing about money kids should know and how would you teach it to them?
This is why I wrote my book Financial Freedom. While I love personal finance books, I never felt like one was complete. Most are all tactics with little soul. I tried to write a human money book so I would have something to give people when they ask me – so what should I teach my kids about money or what should I know about money? The most important lesson in Financial Freedom is that money is infinite, but time is not.
Time really is the limiting factor that we all face. Money can be had in different amounts but we’re all only given 24 hours each day. And it’s how we spend this time that’s far more important than how much money we’re able to accumulate.
Because of this, time is way more valuable than money. As Grant asks in Financial Freedom, if a 90 year-old gave you $100 million to trade places with him, would you? Of course not! Because we all inherently understand that time is worth way more than money. Which is why we should stop trading our time for money.
In the end, it’s a raw deal.
Which is better? A goal that is smaller and you achieve it, or one that is too big and you don’t? Why?
I rarely set goals. I think they are overused. They often paradoxically make us complacent because we feel like they are too easy or too hard.
Do what works for you.
I personally feel like goals hold me back most of the time so I set very few of them. I focus more on trying to move in the right direction.
Grant is about as counter a person to the hyper-success culture as I’ve come across. When’s the last time you heard someone successful say that they DON’T set goals? Me? I can’t think of a time.
All we ever hear is that we should set goals, reach them, set new ones, and continue to grow. Grant doesn’t buy into this.
As for me, I like goals. I need them. Without intentionally setting a specific course, I find that I drift. And then I wake up and wonder how I got where I’m at. It’s not pretty, so for me, goals are a definite must-have.
Tell us about a time when you were REALLY scared to do something. How did you handle it?
On the other side of fear is often something really special.
I’ve learned to dissect fear. I often ask myself, “Okay, what is it specifically about this that you fear?”
For me it’s often the fear of failing, then I remember that I’m lucky to be alive and today is a precious day. When you step back and put fear into the perspective of “Oh, we only live once”, I personally find it makes it easier to manage. Instead of asking “What’s the worst that can happen?”…. ask “What’s the best that can?”.
I love this outlook on fear that Grant brings to the table. And he’s right, there IS something really special on the other side of fear. When you look fear in the eyes and punch it in the face the elation you feel and the supercharging of your confidence is unmatched.
I view facing my fears as trench warfare. Every time I tell fear to “shove it” and overcome my anxiety, I take a little territory. Each foot of ground on its own isn’t a big deal. But stacked up over months, years and a lifetime, it’s HUGE.
How has generosity been a part of your life (someone generous to you or vice versa)? What impact did it make?
Good question. I’m extremely grateful for all of my life.
My parents were especially generous in being so kind and loving and giving me opportunities. I’ve always believed that anything is possible simply because I was given space to expand and grow as a child. My parents weren’t helicopter parents and they let me be weird and curious. They simply made sure I brushed my teeth, showed up at school, and didn’t bike off a ledge.
We are all on this same journey around the sun – we are all human. We are all in this together.
Grant’s parents played a big role in raising such a self-sufficient kid in a self-indulgent world. As a teacher and school administrator, when it comes to raising kids, one of the best things parents can do is to let their kids experience the consequences of their decisions.
Does your teenager leave their winter coat at home when it’s freezing outside? Don’t nag them to put it on. Let them experience the consequences of their behavior.
Does your 4 year-old not want to eat the dinner you’ve served them? Let them go to bed hungry.
This isn’t cruelty. It’s kindness in its deepest form.
Because when you force your kid to bundle up, or you make your child something else to eat, you’re robbing them of the ability to develop their independence and to learn from difficult situations.
Grant’s parents didn’t do that. Like he said, they provided for his needs, made sure he was safe and educated, and let reality be the teacher.
They sound like A+ parents to me!
What are the top 3 most common money problems you’ve seen people consistently fighting to overcome?
1- Using debt as an excuse to not save. 2- Focusing too much on cutting back and not enough time on building skills to make more money 3- Not believing they can actually make more money – we are very often our own worst enemy.
These are all great, but I want to focus on points 2 and 3.
Paula Pant has a great piece about “minding the gap”. There is a gap between what you make and what you spend. Let’s call this “the gap”.
Winning with money is all about increasing the gap. There are only two ways to do this, either by reducing your expenses or increasing your earnings.
A lot of people focus on reducing expenses, which I don’t think is a bad thing. But you can only cut so much. There is a limit.
Increasing your earnings, on the other hand, can have a much greater impact on the gap.
But I agree with Grant that far more people focus on cutting costs rather than increasing their income. Increasing income is seen as pie in the sky, whereas cutting your cable bill or using coupons for your groceries is seen as more doable.
Like Grant said, most people don’t believe they actually can make more money.
Why is this? Why can’t you make more money? Go to your boss and make the case for a raise. Look for a better job somewhere else. Go back to school and upgrade your skills to make yourself more marketable. Take some online courses to broaden your earning capacity.
A good friend of mine runs a business where he teaches people who are sick and tired of the constraints that come from working the 9-5 grind and have struck out on a new path. He’s taught thousands of people that you CAN earn more and have more freedom in how you do it!
It’s one of the most important money lessons that people can learn and one that Grant makes a compelling case for in Financial Freedom where he lays out the specific steps you can take to make all the money you’ll ever need.
What is one thing you have an abundance of and one thing you’re working on building an abundance of?
I have an abundance of opportunities, and I’m working to help others have an abundance in theirs. I’m not very focused on myself right now, I’m trying to give back to others as much as I can.
I love that Grant’s mindset is one of having an abundance of opportunities. And I can vouch for his helping people on their journey to get there in their own lives.
Grant has been incredibly generous with his time and energy. Whether it’s interacting with me on Twitter or agreeing to be a part of Band of Bloggers, Grant is the epitome of a big-time blogger who hasn’t gotten too big for his britches.
His britches fit just fine.
Bringing It All Together
I’d like to thank Grant one more time for joining our Band of Bloggers today. Don’t look now but we’re forming quite a group of accomplished bloggers and more than that, fine people.
Grant fits this mold beautifully. His counter-cultural insights, backed up by his experience and the unparalleled success he’s had, provided some epic wisdom bombs that he dropped on us. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Grant Sabatier, is the Author of Financial Freedom and the Creator of Millennial Money, which has reached over 10 million readers. He writes about personal finance, investing, entrepreneurship, and mindfulness and hosts the Financial Freedom podcast. Sabatier graduated from the University of Chicago and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Money Magazine, and many others. When not traveling in his VW Camper, he lives in New York City.