Haley Sacks isn’t worried about a recession.
Plunging returns means stocks are basically “on sale” right now, she says. So instead of making the sign of the cross at every headline sounding the alarm on further market dips — or, gasp, an economic recession — she’s using the downturn to her advantage.
Sacks borrows an oft-repeated sentiment from Warren Buffett to punctuate the point: Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.
“He’s literally my boyfriend,” Sacks jokes, referencing the 92-year-old (married) business magnate.
Sacks, 31, is a self-taught investor and shining star of personal finance social media. Under the Instagram moniker @mrsdowjones, she uses Sex and the City clips and Zendaya memes to break down often-complex money topics like assets vs. liabilities, custodial brokerage accounts and the benefits of Roth IRAs. Her website has a similar vibe. (As of this writing, an emergency fund calculator shares space with a quiz on “How F----d Are You For a Recession?”)
If Sacks and Buffett were actually an item, @mrsdowjones is a solid portrayal of what their love child would look like. In its simplest form, her message repackages time-tested money advice with a much-needed dose of brevity, distilled through the perspective of someone who isn’t, say, the untouchable CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Money management has always been in Sacks’ periphery. Her dad is a private wealth manager for Goldman Sachs, but Sacks says he never really talked about his job when she was growing up. Admittedly, she was too intimidated to ask. For most of her life, she had tunnel vision when it came to money.
“I was just genuinely confused by personal finance and investing,” she says. “It seemed so far off and intimidating.”
That changed in 2017, when Sacks got her first full-time job — as a creative social producer — and health care and retirement became hard to ignore. So she started doing research.
By the time Sacks got laid off six months later, she’d already traversed the depths of every article and best-selling personal finance book she could find, so she decided to use her social media skills to share the best bits (with research-backed proof) online.
Today she has over 300,000 followers on Instagram alone. She’s also got a newsletter, two online courses and a merch line that includes coffee mugs, dad hats and “I love Janet Yellen” crop tops. She’s like Dave Ramsey with an Upper East Side accent (and better hair).
For Sacks’ followers — many of whom are mid-career 20- and 30-somethings themselves — her money advice is digestible and light-hearted. But it’s also good advice: She urges people to invest in S&P 500 index funds instead of trying to beat the market by picking individual stocks. And she tells them, in no uncertain terms, to get their financial ducks in a row — putting aside a healthy emergency fund, maxing out their retirement contributions and paying off high-interest debt — before wading into the investing pool.
Which, she might add, isn’t all that complicated once you’ve got your priorities straight.
Outsiders tend to view stock market success as a sort of castle in the sky — and those who’ve reached it as super smart, lucky or a serendipitous combination of the two. In reality, Sacks says, the surest route to lasting wealth is through the same tried and true advice Buffett and his ilk have been espousing for generations.
Without fail, time in the market always beats timing the market.
“I don’t preach ‘get rich quick,’” she says. “[But] once you start playing the game of money, the opportunities are endless.”