- Grant Sabatier went from having $2.26 in his bank account to a net worth of over $1 million.
- A key step in his wealth-building process was increasing his revenue streams.
- He believes that anyone can start a side hustle and start earning more today.
Grant Sabatier started with virtually nothing before achieving financial independence.
In August 2010, two months after getting laid off from his first job, his checking account hit an all-time low: $2.26. “I took a screenshot of my account to remember this feeling and serve as motivation for the future,” Sabatier writes in his book “Financial Freedom.” He was 24 at the time and living with his parents.
Five years later, thanks to a seven-step strategy that included getting organized and reining in his spending, Sabatier’s surpassed $1 million and he considered himself financially independent, he writes in his book.
A key step throughout the process was supplementing his salary — he got a job at a digital marketing agency making $50,000 — with other revenue streams.
“If you want to reach financial independence as quickly as possible, you’re going to need to up your side-hustle game,” writes Sabatier, who did everything from pet-sitting to selling concert tickets to flipping vintage mopeds. “No job was too small.”
Two of the most lucrative ways he generated extra income outside of his day job included building websites for companies, which earned him up to $50,000 per project, and flipping domain names. He could typically buy a domain for $50 or less and resell it within a year for more than $2,500, he explained.
Sabatier, now 37, says that the strategies he used a decade ago to reach financial independence still hold up today.
Plus, “It’s never been easier to make money in history,” he told Insider. “The internet has really leveled the playing field — it’s so easy to reach customers through social media and websites and email — so the barrier to entry is extremely low when it comes to launching any type of business.”
That also means there’s more competition than ever, he added: “So it’s very important whenever you’re starting anything to think about what unique advantage you have and lean into that.”
If you’re not sure where to start or what type of side hustle to pursue, Sabatier advises making two lists: one of the things you truly enjoy doing and another of things you’re good at. Then, look for overlap between your lists and think about how you could monetize your interests and skills. Maybe you’ve been playing music for years and can start giving lessons or playing gigs. Maybe you love to travel and can become a consultant and help people plan trips.
If you pursue something you actually enjoy, chances are you’ll stick with it. Plus, it’ll feel less like “work,” said Sabatier.
Once you’ve selected a side hustle that excites you — whether that’s blogging, coding, teaching, or selling your art — focus on becoming the best at that particular skill. That’s what the most successful entrepreneurs do, said Sabatier: “They become the best at that one thing, and people recognize them as one of the best, so they’re able to add more value, charge higher prices, and, naturally, it creates this compounding effect.”
Focus on doing one thing really well, rather than a bunch of things decently well, he advised. For him, that means focusing on writing and creating websites. “I’m terrible at social media. It stresses me out and I was never able to make any money from it, so I don’t put any effort in it,” he said. “But what I am really good at is building websites to rank well on Google and writing content, so I spend my time doing that.”
Once you’ve honed in on a skill that you want to monetize, work on your side hustle consistently. Don’t expect to make money overnight, he added: “A lot of people, whether they’re starting a blog or a YouTube channel or launching a greeting card company or a dog grooming business, they don’t realize that, early on, it’s a grind and it’s not always easy. A vast majority of the business growth is going to happen in year two, year three, and year four.”
If you start earning income from your side hustle, don’t increase your spending, especially if you’re seeking financial independence. Take your extra money and invest it, emphasized Sabatier, who saved and invested nearly all of his side-hustle income. After all, “If you are making money on the side, but not investing it, then you are wasting time by not making nearly as much money as you could,” he writes.
He doesn’t believe in creating a strict budget — he thinks tracking every dollar creates a scarcity mindset and can foster a feeling of guilt around spending. Plus, focusing on small expenses and indulgences probably isn’t necessarily going to increase your savings rate significantly, he adds: “You save the most money by controlling your biggest expenses — namely housing, transportation, and food — and you can do that without the aid of a formal budget.”
Cutting back on these major expenses requires sacrifice, like living with roommates or trading in your car for public transportation or cooking instead of going out to restaurants and bars.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy, and even my girlfriend wouldn’t come over to visit my crappy but inexpensive apartment,” recalls Sabatier. “I definitely made decisions that many people wouldn’t even consider.”
Another trick he used to save more and spend less was thinking critically about each and every purchase. Especially today, with the ability to tap and pay with a credit card or make one-click purchases online, it’s arguably never been easier to spend money.
He learned to become a more mindful consumer. “When you spend money, you are not just paying for something with dollars. You’re also paying with your time and the future potential value of those dollars,” he writes. He used mental tricks before buying anything, like asking himself how happy certain purchases would make him or how much recurring expenses would end up costing him for the rest of his life.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that “saving money is making money. Every purchase you make is a tradeoff — spend money on one thing, that’s less money you can save or spend on something else.”