Who Is Financial Samurai? Dear Readers,

Welcome to Financial Samurai, a place where you can share your thoughts freely on all things personal finance. While we may not always be aware of it, personal finance is a part of everything we do, coloring nearly every aspect of our lives. Your financial well-being directly impacts your outlook on relationships, recreation, work, politics – everything. That’s why no topic is off limits here, and all opinions are welcome.

So often we get set in our ways of thinking, and that’s not always healthy. Failing to see points of view different from our own robs us of great opportunities to learn and gain new understanding. Let’s have a healthy dialog in the comments section and learn from each other; everyone has something special to offer, so don’t be shy.

Financial Samurai has been highlighted in major publications such as Forbes.com, The Wall Street Journal Online, Business Insider, The Consumerist, The Sydney Herald, and The Los Angeles Times. I’ve also done interviews with AARP, Newstalk Radio 910AM (KKSF San Francisco) and Bloomberg on the subjects of early retirement, mortgage refinancing and structured notes.

I’ve put together The Best Of Financial Samurai ebook in 2015 that contains 35 articles and 180 pages of the most valuable content if you’re looking for a one-stop shop to get caught up. 100% of each sale will be donated to a charity that supports educating our youth. Education is the most important key towards success!


After thirteen years of working in Corporate America, money ceased to be a driving factor for me. Instead, living absolutely free became my biggest motivation. I fantasized about what it would be like to just write, spend time with family, and travel, with little financial worries. Three years after starting this site in 2009 I took the leap of faith.

Retiring early from a healthy paycheck was not easy, but I knew I couldn’t last many more years in the hard-driving world of finance, hitting the office every day before 6:30am and leaving after 7:30pm. I actually planted the seeds for my early exit at the very beginning of my career. Starting with my first job at Goldman Sachs out of college in NYC, I saved over 50% of my after tax income every year. I used my savings to buy rental properties, stocks, bonds, and CDs in order to build passive income streams so I might one day be more free.

Things were going well until the 2008 financial crisis hit, knocking me back down to earth. Financial Samurai began as a cathartic way to make sense of all the carnage and ease the pain. By the time I decided to leave Corporate America in 2012, Financial Samurai had grown to provide a livable income stream here in pricey San Francisco. It was scary to leave a healthy paycheck, but it was now or never to pursue my dreams of entrepreneurship!

Financial Samurai’s theme is “achieving financial independence sooner, rather than later.” I believe life speed accelerates simply because the older we get, the less time we have left to live. Getting our financial lives in order early allows us time to fully live our dreams. This site shares my strategies for achieving financial freedom at any age. I also share my ideas for building wealth through real estate, stocks, peer-to-peer lending, structured notes, bonds, private equity, and CDs, along with a fair sprinkling of my adventures in entrepreneurship.


Any time you can combine generating real value with having fun, you’ve hit a grand slam. I write because I enjoy the experience. Readers and your comments are what make running this site a blast. Dialog matters; the more we communicate with others, the more complete we become ourselves.

Sushi (surprise, surprise) is one of my favorite foods, and I can watch college football and basketball all day long. I’m an avid USTA 5.0-ranked tennis player who would play five days a week if my knees didn’t break down. I believe there is a mental-to-physical connection in everything we do, so I try to balance all the blog work with keeping active and fit. I used to own an $80,000 car; now I own a 2015 Honda Fit named Rhino for less than $20,000. It’s funny how I no longer care about flashy things the older I get. It’s all about Stealth Wealth nowadays.

I’ve made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate and the stock market. As a result, I’ve learned the hard way that rebalancing and having a proper asset allocation of stocks and bonds is important to make sure that my risk exposure is not too great. I now keep track of all my finances using the free online wealth manager from Personal Capital. Personal Capital has been fantastic for helping me monitor my net worth, manage my expenses, and cut down on exorbitant mutual fund fees in my 401K. I highly recommend their 401K Fee Analyzer; it saved me $1,700+ a year in management fees that I had no idea I was paying!

If all I could ever earn was $80,000 (gross) a year, I’d be content; I really don’t need a whole lot to be happy. Without debt it doesn’t take much to live a comfortable life; after all, there are only so many things one can buy, and so many fancy foods one can taste until our taste buds adapt. While all this may be true, however, I still make the argument that $200,000 a year per individual is the ideal income for maximum happiness. Studies show that the poor and rich are equally happy, so why not strive to be rich?

Education is absolutely the key to freedom. When I graduated from The College of William & Mary in 1999, I swore I’d never go back to school again. Two years after working in finance, the dotcom meltdown happened and things weren’t so fun any more. Under those sobering circumstances I changed my mind about school and proceeded to earn my MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 2006. And I discovered something funny: School actually becomes enjoyable when you focus on the learning and stop worrying about grades.


Despite thoroughly enjoying my time off between March 2012 – November 2013, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be doing more besides just writing on Financial Samurai for several hours a day and traveling. After working 50-70 hours a week for 13 years in a super competitive industry, I got restless having all the time in the world. In November 2013, I jumped back into the fire with a new thesis I wanted to prove: Will work be more fun if I didn’t have to work? 

By November 2013, I had been a user of Personal Capital’s free financial tools for over a year. My friend at Personal Capital said they were looking for a social media and content strategist. I was hesitant to give up my freedom, but after a couple weeks of discussion, we decided to go with 25 hours a week to see how it goes. I’ve loved the experience working with smart people in a new industry and department I never thought I’d get to try.

After a year of working at Personal Capital, I concluded that work really is more fun if you don’t have to work! You’re better able to choose companies to spend your time on rather than stay beholden to a company you dislike due to the need for a paycheck and benefits. Office politics don’t get to you either because you’re not jockeying to climb the corporate ladder. With 20 hours of extra capacity, and the desire to continue networking in Silicon Valley, I decided to consult for Motif Investing in December, 2014!

Motif Investing is like E*TRADE, but so much better due to their platform, social community, and low fees. You’re able to build a portfolio of up to 30 stocks for just $9.95, instead of paying $7.95 to buy each stock. In essence, you can be your own fund manager instead of paying expensive and ongoing active management fees. You can read more about how to cheaply build your portfolio here.

I feel incredibly blessed to be living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. There is so much innovation out here and I’m having a ton of fun fulfilling one of my bucket lists of pivoting into a new industry. I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be able to create a personal finance site that generates a livable income stream, nor did I ever think I’d be able to synergistically work for the very two companies whose products I use and become an authority affiliate.


One of my biggest wonders is how my life would be different if I took the left fork after college to work on a business venture in China, rather than work the more secure route in finance. After spending 13 years in finance, six years building Financial Samurai, and two years consulting for startups, I plan on finally, FINALLY building a product on my own in 2H2015/2016.

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area has given me the entrepreneurial fever like never before. There are amazing resources such as Y Combinator that can help seed your dreams and provide advice on how to make progress because they’ve been there. Surely, after so much experience, I might finally succeed?


* Will never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill. What a shame to never succeed because I didn’t see things through to the very end.

* If asked to define “happiness” in one word, I would choose the word “progress.” Progress in our relationships with loved ones, progress in our occupations, and progress in our spirituality all create happiness.

* Loved writing in high school and was the teacher’s pet in AP English. Sadly, I never took another writing course again.

* Made mediocre scores on my SATs, but received an international scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude from The College Of William & Mary in 1999.

* Have lived in seven different countries and been to roughly 40 countries as of March, 2015.

* Used to speak three languages pretty well. Now I only speak Mandarin and English. My Spanish is horrible.

* Overcame severe asthma as a kid and can now play three hours of tennis at a time. Yet, I still can’t run five miles straight without hacking up a lung.

* Was a 16 handicapper in golf for years until I made it a goal to break 10 one year. I’m currently sitting at 9.8.

* US Tennis Association 5.0 ranked player.

* Entrepreneurship fascinates me, but I turned down a golden opportunity in China upon graduation to work for a golden opportunity in NYC. Sixteen years after graduation, I’ve now come full circle and have built a lifestyle business with Financial Samurai. But now, I’m wondering what else?

* Series 7 and Series 63 registered from 1999-2014. Finally expired after not working full-time for a registered broker-deal since 2012.

* Concentration on finance and entrepreneurship in business school at UC Berkeley.

* Can happily function on just six hours of sleep (or less) per day because I’m so excited to wake up and see what happened in the world while I dreamt.

* Have a goal of sustainably making $200,000 a year from passive income investments.

* Butter cookies and lemon meringue pie are my greatest weakness.

* Firmly believe we should take care of our parents in their old age, no matter what.

* Fiercely loyal and will always take care of the people who helped out.

* The regrets I will have will be the things I don’t do.

* Wrote a 100-page book entitled, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. The book empowers employees with their legal rights and provides a framework for how to negotiate a healthy severance package. Never quit – get laid off instead.


Financial Samurai Blog Traffic Figures

FS Jan 1 – Feb 1, 2015 site traffic


* 28,000 – 35,000 pageviews a day.

* ~1,000,000 pageviews a month.

* 650,000 – 700,000 unique visitors a month.

* mozRank: 6.04

* Reader demographics: Majority are ages 25-45, college educated, top 20% income earners, 30% with net worth of over $500,000.

* Site Age: Started in July, 2009.

* The Financial Samurai Value Proposition describes why subscribing to and visiting this site is a must for all those who seek financial independence. In a nutshell, I’m a finance veteran who reached financial independence at age 34 with a multiple seven figure net worth that wants to help you build wealth. You can only cut costs so much. It’s much better to earn more!


* TV, radio, or written interviews. I’m always happy to help a reporter or broadcaster out.

* Advertising opportunities.

* Resume and interview review advice.

* Product reviews

* Original guest posts

Email: financialsamurai at gmail dot com (Publicists, please DO NOT add me to your blast lists)

Glad to have you on our journey!


Sam Dogen – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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