In 2010, Grant Sabatier joined the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement, which embraces the concept of saving the majority of your income in your 20s or 30s so you can retire in your 30s or 40s.
In just five years, he saved over $1 million, enough to consider himself "financially independent," which gave him the freedom to start living a more entrepreneurial life. He founded the site Millennial Money, which helps others fast-track financial independence and reach early retirement, and he wrote the book, "Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need."
While Sabatier, who now lives in New York City with his wife, has a big cash cushion to fall back on, even the self-made millionaire is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put major stress on the U.S. economy.
Here are three changes he's made with his money in response to the pandemic and its crushing economic impact.
Most financial advisors say to leave your investments alone in times of uncertainty and when the market is volatile.
Sabatier is following that advice for the most part: "I did sell some of my Amazon stock and diversified my portfolio a little bit." He wasn't planning on doing any rebalancing, "but I was a little overexposed in individual equities," he notes.
In general, though, he's keeping his hands off of his investments, staying the course and sticking to his long-term plan. Ignoring the urge to panic and pull out of the market is easier said than done, even for Sabatier: "I have to keep reminding myself that you only lose money when you sell, and so the losses themselves haven't been realized."
As a precaution, "I took out 10 grand in actual cash because I think there are certain times where ATMs could get frozen or a bank could stall," says Sabatier. "Having actual cash, and money across a couple of different banks, I think is a wise decision."
It doesn't hurt to have money across different accounts, though. Financial planner Scott Cole recommends having three to six months' worth of living expenses saved across two different accounts. Keep about $1,500 in the savings account tied to your primary bank and put the rest in a high-yield savings account, where it will likely earn you more in interest, he says.
If you need to dip into the $1,500 for an emergency, it will be readily accessible. Then, you can replenish the amount you used with savings from your high-yield account.
Sabatier used to check his net worth every day. It was a way to monitor his financial progress and stay motivated to reach his goals.
While he has a substantial cash cushion and isn't worried about his financial situation right now, "I'm human, so when your net worth drops 30% in a matter of 10 days, it sucks and that hurts and you feel it."
That's why he's putting the habit of looking at his account balances on hold: "I know things are going down." He's accepted that, for the time being, he's in "a preservation phase, and not a growth phase," but trusts that the markets will bounce back. When they do, he'll start checking his net worth again, but in the meantime, he doesn't need the stress and anxiety that comes with seeing your numbers drop.
Another way to stay focused on the long run may be to tune out some of the daily headlines. That's what investing legend Warren Buffett does. It helps him focus on where businesses will be five, 10 and 20 years from now, which is really what matters.
"I don't think I can make money by predicting what's going to go on next week or next month," Buffett told CNBC's Becky Quick. "I do think I can make money by predicting what will go on in the next 10 years."
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