“I’m an outlier,” Sabatier told FOX Business. “I am the exception to the rule.”
Sabatier is a follower of the F.I.R.E. Movement -- which stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. However, he still works and makes money by writing financial advice for his blog, Millennial Money and through speaking engagements and sales of his book, Financial Freedom.
“I think the traditional concept [of retirement] is really outdated and I think within the next 10 years we won’t even talk about it the same way that we talk about it now,” Sabatier said. “All it means for me is, once I became financially independent at 30, I started paring off all those things in my life that I didn’t enjoy doing and started focusing my life around the things that I really wanted to do.”
“I still work really hard, [but] it’s mission-driven work as opposed to making money work,” he added.
Most importantly, Sabatier gets to do the things that make his life richer -- but not in the financial sense.
“Ultimately, money only matters if it helps you live a life you love,” Sabatier said. “Are you designing your life in a way that your work and your money is supporting that? And are you enjoying your life? That’s the most important thing. It’s not about the million dollars, or when can you traditionally retire.”
However, this mindset around money wasn’t how Sabatier viewed financial independence when he got started in 2010.
That year, he had moved back in with his parents after he’d been fired from his job. He said he “was really ashamed” because his parents had invested so much in him and he felt like he had let them -- and himself -- down.
So he decided to set the “extremely arbitrary” goal of saving $1 million as quickly as he could, which he realized about two and a half years in, would be about enough to live on for the rest of his life.
At that point, he decided he wanted to save the $1 million within five years -- but that turned into the only thing he did for the next two and a half years.
“I just stopped doing everything,” he said. “All I was doing was making money and saving money … I was just singularly focused on that goal.”
However, that came at its own cost. During those few years, he said he almost broke up with his girlfriend, who is now his wife, he didn’t take good care of his health - gaining 50 pounds -and he lost several friendships along the way, too.
Even though he was excited about hitting his goal, he admitted he “had made a lot more sacrifices than in hindsight I probably would have made.” However, the experience was a "net positive" overall because now he can do whatever he wants.
"But certainly I should have just chilled out a bit," he said.
“I realized somewhat later on that it wasn’t about the million dollars or about becoming financially independent. What I was really seeking was just more peace in my life and more space and time and the ability to take a deep breath,” Sabatier explained. “I also didn’t realize that so much of that freedom that I was craving, I already had access to so much earlier on.”
“Most of the things that make me happiest in life are pretty inexpensive or even free,” he added. “And so, once I started designing my life around how to have more time to do those, I realized that I needed a lot less money than I ever thought I would.”
Now, Sabatier’s goal is passing that message on to other people throughout the F.I.R.E. Movement, including alongside one of the founders, Vicki Robin, who co-wrote the book “Your Money or Your Life.”
“If something’s not making your life better or richer, you should discard it,” Sabatier said. “And pursuing F.I.R.E. can just become money addiction in another form. People are so religious about their spreadsheets and their savings rates that it just ends up becoming just like any form of money addiction.”
“A lot of the work that I do or try to do in the movement is to humanize it a little bit more,” he added. “Let’s make sure it’s always life before money. It’s always life before money. That’s all building on Vicki’s work.”