Suck It Up Already! Suffering Is A Right Of Passage

Homeless Philippino boy studying under a McDonald's light

Homeless boy studying under a McDonald’s light

One of the side effects of reading a personal finance site is that you might end up getting a lot of anxiety, or FOMO, as the younger generation likes to call it. You read how much some folks are saving, how much they are making, and how early they’ve retired and fear you’re not doing enough!

It’s kind of like the advice from the sunscreen song, “Don’t read beauty magazines, they’ll only make you feel ugly.

Well, I’d love for you to keep reading Financial Samurai, and I’d hate for you to feel bad for not doing enough with your finances. It’s part of the reason why I’ve got a specific category on Motivation to help encourage people to keep going. Just spending time reading a personal finance site is more than 98.5% of the population out there!

I was going to write a more empathetic article about how I understand it’s tough to get ahead. To not worry if you can’t max out your 401k because you’re unwilling to live more frugally. Or to just relax if you’re unwilling to work more than 40 hours a week to supercharge your wealth because life is meant to be enjoyed. Working on side hustles is hard!

But after going through a first draft of this article, I’ve changed my mind. Because we live in a first world country, I don’t understand why we complain so much.

How To Become A Rockstar Independent Contractor

rockstar contractorThe government estimates that roughly 31% of the American workforce are independent contractors. Meanwhile, Intuit did a study saying that 40% of the American workforce, or ~60 million people will be freelancers, contractors and temp works by 2020. Finally, six million Americans are choosing to work part time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this year.

It’s clear the trend towards freelancing is on the rise thanks to technology, the Internet, declining company benefits like pensions and 401k matches, Universal Healthcare and the general desire for all mankind to be more free. 79% of independent workers say they are happier working on their own, according to the 2015 edition of the State of Independence report from MBO Partners, a business services company focussing on the self-employed.

As someone who unexpectedly decided to consult for the financial technology industry over the past two years, I strongly believe independent contractors will overtake full-time employment in the near future. Furthermore, you can actually make a lot more money as a freelancer than a full-time employee if you pack your schedule.

Let me share with you some of the benefits of being an independent contractor as well as some tips for how to thrive in this growing work style. With the latest market meltdown, you may very well find yourself side-hustling to make up for any lost ground!

A List Of Accelerators, Incubators, And Fellowships For Startup Entrepreneurs

Accelerators For StartupsMaybe it’s destiny, but I just read an insightful article in The New York Times about entrepreneurship everyone who feels they are too old to start something should read.

Most tech start-up founders who have successfully raised venture capital have much less unusual résumés, according to data analysis by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business. The average founder is 38, with a master’s degree and 16 years of work experience.

Yet if someone like that came to a top venture capitalist’s office, he or she could very well be turned away. Start-up investors often accept pitches only from people they know, and rely heavily on gut feelings, intuition and what’s worked before. “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg,” Paul Graham, co-founder of the seed investor Y Combinator, once said.

Well shit be damned! I’m 38, have a Master’s degree from Haas School of Business, and have 16 years of work experience. I’ve also built a sustainable lifestyle business for the past six years that continues to grow. Maybe, there’s some credibility in these old bones to start a new VC-backed business after all.

Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working Minimum Wage Jobs

My high school home

My mansion during high school

The main reason why I quit working at McDonald’s wasn’t the $3.65 an hour pay, or the abusive, ego-tripping manager. After all, the endless supply of broken apple pies went a long way to make up for the unpleasantry at work.

I’m ashamed to say it, but the main reason why I quit was because I was embarrassed.

I lived in McLean, Virginia, a now upper middle class neighborhood where kids would drive to school in new SUVs their parents bought them. One of my friend’s even had a separate house just for his indoor pool! It was a strange mix of wealth and normality.

As the son of State Department workers, life was very low key. We had a seven year old Toyota Camry and lived in a cozy 3/2 townhouse (picture). I rode my bike or walked to school. My parents provided my sister and I all the opportunities we could ever ask for. I just knew we weren’t rich based on what I saw in comparison.

It’s Virtually Impossible To Escape The Allure Of Money

Impossible To Escape The Allure Of MoneyWhen we’re young, we have this idealist image of the way the world should be. Then we enter the work force, get beaten down by the system, and fork over a good amount of our earnings to the government. Suddenly, we’re no longer as much about helping other people or higher taxes anymore. Instead, we’re trying to figure out things for ourselves.

During the summer of 2014, I got to know several MBA interns. One of them went to Harvard for undergrad and was attending Stanford for her MBA. Before Stanford, she worked at a private equity firm, one of the highest paying industries today.

She was now interning at a startup that paid much less than what she earned before business school. She was a dreamer who longed to do more.

Use The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA) To Negotiate A Severance Package

Most common FMLA requests

FMLA’s Most Common Reasons

It’s been three years since I first released How To Engineer Your Layoff to the world. It’s become a niche product specific to helping people break free from a job they no longer care about by negotiating a severance. Growing old and being filled with regret is a terrible way to live.

Negotiating a severance is not easy, and this bull market has made jobs more bearable as people more often get the raises and promotions they hoped for. Ironically, it’s during a bear market where book sales will probably skyrocket as employees nervously try to figure out what’s in their future. I just realized that my book is actually an income hedge. Sweet!

What’s It Like Driving For Uber? Mixed Emotions Of Hope And Sadness

Joining Uber As A Driver With $50 Gas Promo

Rhino getting lured in to join Uber

I never planned to drive for Uber. It just happened. When I pulled up to a gas station to fill up Rhino, my 2015 Honda Fit, there was a fella setting up a tent that promoted a free $50 gas card if I signed up to become a driver.

No obligation to drive!” he tempted me, so I figured why not. With gas prices rebounding from their lows, what used to cost me only about $26 to fill up now cost $35. Moose, my old 2000 Land Rover Discover II sucked down $80 – $100 a tank, so in comparison $35 isn’t so bad.

After uploading my driver’s license, registration, and inspection form, I waited to get a confirmation via text or e-mail. Twenty-four hours later and nothing. I went back to the nearby gas station the next day and asked what was up? He said he didn’t know, and that I should e-mail support. So I did. He gave me another $50 gas card for my troubles. And then another $50 gas card for referring my friend in my passenger seat. YES! Who doesn’t love free money baby?!

Several days later, I finally heard back from Uber via e-mail, and they said they had wrongly entered my information. But if I simply logged in and re-uploaded everything again, all would be fine. When I logged into my account via my laptop it said, “Get a $100 bonus if you go down to the driver center at 130 Vermont Street to get everything set up.” So instead of re-uploading everything myself with no guarantees, I just went down to the driving center given I planned to be close by anyway.

After about 10 minutes of paperwork, the inspector said I was good to go. “All you’ve got to do is download the Uber partner app, take a selfie, and Go Online! After your 10th ride, you’ll get a $100 bonus for coming down to the driving center, and another $300 bonus after your 20th ride for signing up via our gas station promotion.

Wow! $400 worth of bonuses plus another $150 in gas cards. So that’s where Uber is spending all their billions raised. The offer was too tempting to not try things out. Now let me share with you my first Uber passenger experience, some earnings figures, and the emotions I experienced over the next couple of weeks driving. 

Scraping By On $500,000 A Year: Why It’s So Hard For High Income Earners To Escape The Rat Race

Living Paycheck To Paycheck On $500,000 A Year

Help! I’m drowning from all my money!

I’ve highlighted in a previous article how living off $200,000 a year in an expensive city is really just an average lifestyle. In this article, I’ll discuss how one couple is living paycheck to paycheck while making a combined $500,000 a year.

$500,000 a year is a level which I think is considered rich. Anybody who thinks otherwise has no concept of financial reality. Even the government almost agrees after compromising by raising the income level for when the highest marginal tax bracket kicks in to ~$400,000 from $200,000.

Although making $500,000 a year may sound like a Herculean task, you’ll be surprised to know there are plenty of regular folks who hit the half million mark every year. This article will discuss how many folks who earn a large income won’t be retiring any time soon. 

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle Is Worth Living

Digital Nomad Lifestyle, Pulau Redang, Malaysia

Taaras Resort, Pulau Redang, Malaysia

When the world seemed to be ending between 2008-2010, the digital nomad movement took off. Without strong job prospects, people took to the internet to earn a living half way around the world in cheaper locations like Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. For $1,500 a month, you can live like a King or Queen!

So what can digital nomads do to make money online? They can work as a freelance writer, designer, or techie. They can run a drop shipping business that doesn’t hold inventory. They can run an online course or come up with a product to sell. Or they can run an online media company that generates advertising revenue. In short, there are endless ways to make money online. And if your target revenue is only $1,500 a month to live a great lifestyle, then the possibility to live such a life style is higher than you think!

For almost four weeks, I pretended to live the digital nomad lifestyle while traveling to South Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Taiwan. All I needed was internet, and thank goodness internet was everywhere to be found. Over some scrumptious mangoes, I hosted our semi-annual board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, and got to discussing all the takeaways about running a business abroad.

Can Financial Samurai Be The Next Billion Dollar Financial Technology Company?

Financial Samurai LogoDo you know what’s fun and free? Dreaming BIG! As kids, we use to daydream all the time. I fantasized about being a professional tennis player who’d compete in tournaments around the world via a private jet until I realized I couldn’t even make it to All-State, just All-District. It was only until the age of 32 did I start dreaming again.

When Ariana Huffington sold The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million in 2013, The Smoking Gun, and several other sites reported that Ariana only received $21 million, or ~6.6% from the sale. $21 million isn’t chump change, but that’s a far cry from the original sale price.

Meanwhile, Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch sold his site to AOL in 2010 for only $40 million (includes incentives). 2010 was a bad time to sell anything – stocks, real estate, businesses, you name it. But because he owned an estimated ~80% of the site, Mike walked away with around $32 million, or 50% more than Ariana even though TechCrunch sold for 85% less than HuffPo!

It’s amazing how two vastly different sales prices can result in two surprisingly different windfalls due to company ownership structures. It often takes an army of employees and capital to build something massive. I’m not looking for fame, but I’m starting to wonder whether it’s time to once again rekindle the dreams of great fortune.

Whether you know it or not, you the FS community, is instrumental in the continued content production here. I struggled for years not wanting to do anything but travel and play because years ago I finally found “enough.” But thanks to your continued support and encouragement, I’ve kept on going. People keep asking whether I will ever run out of material to write. The answer is always “never,” because there’s an endless amount of things to talk about. If you can speak forever, you can write forever.

A new adventure on Financial Samurai may begin by the end of 2015, and I’d love to get your input once more. I’ve been seriously thinking about this topic since the beginning of the year. In fact, I’ve been sitting on this post since January, going through things in my head.