Feeling Down And Out In This Perfect World

Frowning French Bulldog On A LeashYou can’t deny how someone feels. They just do and you’ve got to accept it. Maybe the color blue looks different between two people. We’ll never know because we can only know ourselves.

I started this site as a way to deal with the agony of the financial meltdown in 2008-2009. I needed to find a way to let the pain escape in a healthy way. Drugs and booze were not an option although tempting they were.

This site has always been about introspection. To understand why we think the way we think. To understand our inconsistencies. To talk about issues that are on so many people’s minds but cannot be publicly discussed due to fear of persecution.

Since my very first post over four years ago I’ve been able to reconcile the stupidity of my multitude of financial mistakes. I’ve met many friends online who are also on uncertain paths to financial independence. We’ve shared victories and defeats, but I thought there would be more people like me who fear being alone, going broke, or being a failure to our family. Lately, I feel like I’m the only loser around.

THE PERFECT WORLD FULL OF PERFECT PEOPLE

It’s never easy to open up about mistakes and insecurities. Yet, that’s exactly what I’ve done in posts such as, “Real Estate Mistakes To Avoid,” “Dealing With The Fear Of Being Alone Forever,” and “How Amazing Is Your Fabulous Life?“. I thought I’d feel a little better about exposing some failures full on and I slightly do. But as I read and responded to the comments, I realized I was basically the only one who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate, who fears dying alone, and who has a case of FOMO.

Nobody commented in a particularly negative manner. Instead, it was more, “Thank goodness I didn’t buy a second property!” or “I’m so happy to come home to a loving wife,” or “FOMO? Really? That’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me.” Each comment reaffirmed that I was the only sucker to experience such things.

One of my goals for writing about my mistakes and worries is to let readers know there’s a real person behind the writing, not some financial wizard who never steps into a hole and twists his ankle. Personal finance is such an unpredictable journey that if you travel long enough, bad things will happen. I thought if I could share my bends and turns, you’d not only feel better about yourself but also become more encouraged with never giving up. Maybe it’s not working or maybe it’s working a little too well.

Failure to properly convey a message online is frustrating. I enjoy crafting stories around a topic so that maybe readers can better imagine a scenario that will promote dynamic discussion. My goal is to always try and put myself in someone else’s shoes so we can better understand their situation. To be told my ideals are “different,” with the insinuation they are inferior is disappointing. I need to constantly remind myself not everybody is as open minded or has seen the world or speaks another language.

I FEEL STUPID FOR CARING SO MUCH

Those who care the most are probably the weakest link. If I didn’t care so much about my company, I wouldn’t have stayed for 11 consecutive years. I would have hit one of many multiple bids from competing firms looking to hire me for more money instead. I also felt it a duty to train up my junior hire so that he could be self-sufficient in running the business before I left. The decision cost me around $300,000-$500,000 in lost income over two years. Lesson learned: Loyalty is overrated. Do what’s best for you.

In the blogging world, I’m probably the only blogger my size who actively comments on other sites because I remember the loneliness of first starting out and the joy of having someone leave a note. The positive comments are what kept me going in the very beginning. Now I’m thinking it’s probably best to conserve my energy to prevent burnout as things are getting unwieldy. I still have a habit of responding to the vast majority of comments on Financial Samurai, but I should probably learn to be more indifferent. Lesson learned: Write more boring, neutral posts which produce less commentary.

What a fool I am for spending hours writing posts on touchy topics that are specifically requested by readers who are too shy to ask friends or family for help. I do all the work and get all the flack while the inquirer gets to sit back and take in all the helpful information. No more. If you’ve got a particular problem that’s not mainstream, I want you to sit down in front of a computer, spend at least three hours crafting a structurally sound 1,500 word article and send me a copy. I’ll give you some editorial pointers and will publish your post. But you’ve got to do most of the work so you know how it feels. Lesson learned: Encourage readers to do the work if they want to hear answers to their concerns. This way, more readers will realize how difficult it is to write a post and receive criticism from people who don’t share their own story.

I write about relationships all the time because I want to be a better boyfriend, husband, son and father. By trying to write from different viewpoints I hope to better understand when conflict inevitably arises. I’m well aware about how hard it is to maintain a long-term harmonious relationship given the difficulties I see with close family and friends. Everybody knows someone who seemed to have the perfect marriage but decided to split. I’m optimistic that relationships can be improved through hard work, no matter how much flack I get from my writing. Lesson learned: Putting yourself out there hurts. I’ve got to better weigh the rewards of understanding others with the pain of getting stomped on.

Finally, just a couple weeks ago a buddy of mine was turning the big 3-0. I promised him a week before his birthday that I’d take him out for drinks to celebrate. He enthusiastically said yes. About three days before his birthday he started getting wishy washy about celebrating. I could sense he was going to flake so I made other plans. It turns out he made plans with some other friends and didn’t even mention it until the next day. Thanks a lot for agreeing to hang when you had no plans but pushing me aside once new plans were made. Lesson learned: Be more selfish with my time. Focus on friendships where there is reciprocity and dump the rest.

TIME FOR A CHANGE AND A BREAK

In a 50 minute podcast interview I did the other week about the reasons for starting this site and the trends of online publishing, I told Spencer the host I wanted to do more of the things that made me happy (write), and less of the things that no longer made me proud (working in finance) when I was deciding on engineering my layoff. I’ve decided to do the same thing with my writing by gradually taking away some personality and candor. Being open hurts. You just get constantly hammered by an unrelenting crowd who takes pleasure in mishap.

But I must say that often times I’m overfilled with joy by the internet world. The wonderful feedback from readers on my post, “My Fear Of Being A Father” makes everything worthwhile again. I also received several private e-mails from fathers who feel the same way and we were able to talk things out. Finally, there are people out there who have admitted to suffering financial hardship like reader JayCeezy who wrote, “How To Lose A Million Dollars And Live To See Another Day.” If only I could figure out a way to consistently write more such posts to engender such terrific responses and find more readers to open up about their imperfect lives.

The biggest personal finance blogs in the world  – some of which have sold for millions of dollars – are expertly neutral in their writing. They don’t delve into taboo or more controversial topics out of fear of offending anybody. The big guys deftly hire multiple writers who report the news, write plenty of products reviews and talk about subjects that belies their experience. And guess what? Readers love it otherwise how could they grow so large? Building a content business is all about plain vanilla.

All the biggest sites also focus on frugality instead of ways to make more money through investments and alternative means. The reason is because writing about making money is much harder than writing about saving. From a reader’s perspective, it’s also much easier to follow money saving instructions instead of doing research on real estate or stocks. It’s a match made in heaven which I’m being encouraged to pursue. One fellow blogger writes about a minimalist lifestyle living off less than $40,000 a year with a family while earning multiple six figures a year. The business model is brilliant.

It’s a little sad for me to change the style of my posts because it’s been so fun to read all the various responses. But I’m not stubborn. I’m a realist who is acting rationally. Vanilla is what is demanded of readers who feel slapped in the face by what I write. I also don’t want to feel bad about my writing any more so I plan to slowly remove myself out of the equation. For all of you who’ve been privately asking me difficult questions, I’m sorry but the public has spoken. We cannot talk about things such as finding a rich husband. As one commenter said, I lose credibility when I write about anything other than personal finance because I should have no other interests or concerns in life.

I’ve decided to take another 10 days off and won’t be back until the end of the month. I will think short and soft about the new direction I want to take with Financial Samurai. Maybe I’ll even cure some FOMO given there will be no wi-fi out at sea thank goodness. I will meditate on whether the vocal minority is striking and should be ignored or whether I need to drastically change directions to ensure the growth and survival of this site.

I’m looking forward to this potential new phase of Financial Samurai. Don’t worry, I’ve got at least 15 previously written posts and guest posts to go through before any significant changes take affect. Maybe by that time I’ll have regenerated my thick skin to take on the body blows once again. Or maybe new readers might change my mind. Here’s to feeling up and in again!

Related Posts:

There’s No Need To Worry About Other People’s Finances

How To Stop Haters From Hating You So Much

Photo: Sad Frenchie, FS, 2014.

Best,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Joshua says

    Sam,

    I never post comments, but I thought for once I would voice myself in the online community.

    The “plain vanilla” found in most blogs is the reason why I do not read them. I follow your blogs, MMM, YCL, and jlcollinsnh in my RSS reader because of the personality and originality behind them.

    Last fall when I first began my endeavor towards financial independence, I started with the recommendation on getrichslowly. The articles/ blogs began to lose the ability to capture my attention and cover original topics. This geared me towards searching for new websites, which I found yours and the others previously mentioned.

    Frugality/savings only goes so far and your take on finances and life covers a small yet vital part to financial independence.

    Whatever the decision, enjoy the time off in sea.

    • says

      Hi Joshua, but GRS sold for megamillions. I could be rich writing about just frugality and inviting a ton of staff writers :) they’ve got a great community still and I plan to contribute to them once a month or so.

      Here’s to saving $10 off our next cable bill!

  2. says

    Hi Sam
    I like your stuff (and don’t read ‘generic’ finance sites).
    You do post a lot though.
    I’d be happy with just one or two posts a week, especially if they remain the same quality…
    Hope you carry on :)

  3. Michelle says

    Hi Sam. I recently found your blog online and could not be more inspired to maximize my money for financial freedom and happiness. Thinking smart and being resourceful is fun! I appreciate your point of view and writing for these attributes among many others. I relate to your values and your posts inform and entertain me. In your writing, it’s the sharing of your mistakes, opinions, resilience, experiences paired with a very practical mindset that motivate me to risk failure for big success.

  4. Chris says

    Sam-

    I feel terrible. I made a couple of pointed comments on your previous postings (“lowers your credibility”) and I didn’t fully consider it might dig deep. It’s incredibly easy to make hasty comments on others’ work and I regret that. You’re a talented guy that puts tremendous effort and work into your postings. Really sorry life is a downer right now, I go through the same feelings from time to time. Hang in there and tomorrow is always a new day.

    Best Wishes, Chris

  5. Bill S. says

    Sam,

    I don’t comment a lot, but I read just about every thing you have written here. I’ll keep this short. I am 65 years old, seen a lot, read a lot, I can tell the difference between a first class blog that keeps people coming back and wanting more like yours and the run of the mill dribble many others put out. Even though most articles are written for people much younger than myself, I still enjoy them and appreciate the hard work you put into this. Don’t mess with success! Take some time off, recharge your batteries, we will all be here waiting for the SAM we know when he gets back.

    • says

      Bill,

      Thanks for your perspective. The perspective I crave most for are those in their 60s and over who have so much wisdom to share to us kiddos who think we know it all or who are trying to just understand. The acceleration of time as we age is something I’ve been well aware of since college. I know I’ll be 50 within a blink of an eye and I hope to reread my writing throughout different times of my life.

      S

  6. pasta sauce says

    relax a little, ok? too much over-thinking and over-analyzing.
    are you measuring your effectiveness by gauging the quality of the comments? if so, you are making a big mistake.
    you need to measure your effectiveness by your own comfort level, how you feel about you. the hell with how others feel. how others feel is their business, not yours.
    if you are happy with who you are and how you are, then that is all you ever need.
    if you feel stressed out, then find ways to de-stress.

  7. says

    Sam,
    The non vanilla approach to your blog is a big reason why this one of my favorites. I’ve also had three other friends that have started reading you after my recommendation. Those plain vanilla blogs often regurgitate the same things. Your blog is a great kick in the ass for people to build their net worth.

  8. Anne says

    Hi Sam, I have been following your site for at least 6 months now without ever putting any comment. However i thoroughly enjoyed reading them and readers’ comments. I like it the fact that every night after work, i get to check out your sites and few others that i am interested in and there is no time left for watching TV. The reason why i comment today because i can feel that you are feeling down. Pls keep up the good work and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Love your articles and how you can almost produce one good post per day! Have a good break and come back feeling refreshed and happy !

  9. alana says

    man, the site is great the way it is. A lot of the sites I started reading when I first got into reading personal finance blog about 5 years ago are now very blah, too generic . Yours is one of the few sites I read today and thats is becasue it’s still interesting, edgy and personal. As a single, professional, soon to be 30 year old female, what you write about is very relevant to me and even though I dont always agree with you, man it sure is refreshing to read a post like “finding a rich husband” every once in a while.

  10. says

    I’m disappointed. I like the personal flavor. Though I understand that vanilla is the best selling ice cream (true for personal finance blogs and actual ice cream), I like to read something different.

    If you’re goal is to sell the site in 2 years or something, going vanilla is the way to go. If your goal is to have a Baskin Robbins community (31 flavors better than just one) than stick with what has worked to this day.

    I hope you have a change of heart, but I understand the rationale behind the approach.

    Well wishes on your time away for the next 10 days.

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com

  11. says

    Sam, it would be really sad if you stop writing like “you.” I love reading your opinionated posts. Boring, dry, cut to the chase posts can be found all over the place and they just aren’t nearly as interesting as taking a personal spin. I hope after your short break you scrap the idea of “vanilla” posts.

  12. Favour says

    Sam,

    Shake it off man!!!!! Your thought provoking topics are exceptional. I love starting my day off reading your blog. This sight is not for everyone. If you are not trying to think and grow you should not be here. As a entreprenuer, I have learned the true meaning of “misery love company”. Miserable people with try to discredit others people achievements and you can not let them have that kind of power over you. Vaca, shake it off, and keep it movin!!!

    Enough Said!!!!

  13. shercolano says

    okay…this post finally inspired me to comment. NOT typical for me, as one who prefers to sit on the sidelines and observe. I am not typically a ‘blog-follower,’ and even less so a ‘blog-commenter.’ But I do need to let you know that I truly respect your posts. About a year ago, I added your little icon onto my iPad home screen, and every morning – along with a few select news sites and fave comics – I check your site for something new. Sometimes I even re-read previous posts. It is quite enjoyable to contemplate things like whether or not you are being sarcastic, and how old you are and what you look like. I have even learned a few honorable things about personal finance!

  14. av says

    Sam,
    Don’t change a thing. Yours is the first feed that I read when I pull up my financial threads. I’ve followed you for a few years now and you “keep it real”. You also fill a niche that nobody else seems to fill in the dollar amounts that you deal with. I know someone who makes less than 70-80k wants to hear stuff about what to do/not do with making that level of income but those of us making low and mid 6 figures would rather read your current postings than have you bring it back to the masses. There are plenty of bloggers telling people how to make their own soap and where to find the best coupons. Your site doesn’t do that, that’s why I read every post.
    Keep up the good work.
    av

    • says

      Thanks Av. I’m thinking of writing for the 80k and under segment or hiring someone to address just different mass topics. There’s a huge population out there that is like to also tap, and talking about frugality and living below ones means is a good strategy. That’s what all the biggest blogs have done and they’ve killed it.

      I’ll keep my voice, but perhaps just not as much anymore.

  15. says

    I think it’s crucial for any personal finance blogger, or any blogger, to write about what you enjoy and what brings your happiness. If you’re writing because you HAVE TO write and feel obligated to write with a personality that isn’t you, writing truly becomes WORK and not FUN! So my opinion is to be who you are and write that way.

    I personally look forward to your articles and insight. You inpsire me to write with your heart in my own personal finance blog!

  16. Mysterious Guy says

    Sam,

    I’ll voice in too. Your blog gives a lot of personality that I find interesting. The way you dive into different topics- some of which most people who avoid- makes this an unusual blog, yet very interesting blog.

    I admit I’m under one of those camps where it was weird to see you write about relationships, but I just took it as something you wanted to write. I still come back every time there’s a new post to see what you’ve written, and enjoy reading every article.

    That said, it’s not my place to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I’m only here to add to the multitude that I’ve appreciate the amount of hard work you put into this site (It really shows), and discuss on topics that I rarely hear people discussing among my circle of people.

    Thank you for posting articles. You’ve earned a permanent spot on my browser tab section that I check everyday in the morning.

  17. Jon says

    Hi Sam,
    Never left a message before. Your blog is top spot in my favourites list precisely because you don’t talk just about money but real life which of course affects your financial well being – love, cars, parents, feelings, Childhood, politics, religion, friendships etc etc are all an integral part of the way one view’s finances.

    Please keep writing.

    Reg, Jon, London, uk

    • says

      Jon, good to know and thanks. There’s so much more to life than just money that it behooved us to incorporate so much more. Might go out to London nov 4-11 for the tennis masters. How’s the weather and city then?

  18. says

    I read through all of the comments posted thus far and the consensus is overwhelming, Sam: Do NOT change a thing!

    I’m only around 3 months into my own blogging journey. I aspire to reach the quality you offer more so than any other site and there are some good ones out there, so that’s a major compliment.

    You may not receive as much backlash from “putting yourself out there” if you go more plain jane vanilla. However, I’ll bet you’d get much less satisfaction out of blogging if you took that approach. Just keep on keeping on and realize how many people enjoy the way you already do things here – just look at all the evidence immediately above me in these comments!!

    • says

      Keep up the insightful, out of the box, creative, touching, and informative posts Sam. You have a unique style all your own and we love your articles! As a blogger like Mr U and many others I know how hard it is to put yourself out there. There will always be some readers out there who are just plain rude and say things on the internet they would never have the nerve to say in person. They are usually totally clueless, insecure, or incredibly jealous. Forget about them! Keep on blogging, you inspire all the rest of us, bloggers especially, every day with your spirit, honesty, and style!

  19. Gina says

    Don’t let them get you down! I love your blog the way it is.

    Is this a fishing expedition for compliments?

    Adorable hang dog face by the way!

  20. Bunny says

    This is my first comment on this site and I’ve been reading for 2+ years.

    I don’t always agree with you and sometimes I have some bones to pick with you, what I love about your blog is your honesty and optimism. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

      • Bunny says

        I’m a shy bunny!

        I don’t comment because I’m young (26), under-employed currently, and have 0 desire to be an entrepreneur and my husband is disabled (but works full time) so it’s basically like you and I live in different dimensions. I’m a huge saver/investor (33% of our income) and a good networker your blog keeps me hopeful that the good habits pay off in time!

  21. ben says

    First comment, but frequent reader. Your blog is so successful BECAUSE of the way you write. There’s a reason yours is one of the only finance blogs I still follow…

  22. says

    Take a look at James Althucher’s book How to Choose Yourself. He’s got a great chapter in the book about dealing with haters. He says the best move he made was focusing only on the positive people in his life and getting rid of the negative ones. Easier said than done, but I think you will get something out of the book.

  23. Ribby says

    Sam,

    Seeing this made me want to cry. I love reading your blog, I love how in depth you are. You don’t just say things and have nothing to back it up. I love your personalilty and would hate to see it toned down. I’d love to one day sit with you even though I think I’d be a little intimidated. (ok, alot intimidated)

    • says

      Ribby,

      Don’t cry! Would love to grab a drink if you are in SF one day. Once you see me, you won’t be intimidated at all. I’m a West Coast / Hawaii boy after all. It’s all about kicking back and taking it easy.

      Best,

      S

  24. Sara says

    Your posts have inspired me to buy my latest car by the 1/10th rule, significantly increase my savings rate, and improve my work ethic, so thank you!

    I also enjoy the discourse on investment vehicles. I am too chicken shit to invest in individual stocks, have done ok with a rental property, and feel like I have missed the boat on p2p lending (it seems like a bloated market now); so all in all I’m a very mediocre invester. So once you turn your business into a money making empire; you’re gonna write about it, right ;) ?

  25. says

    I beg of you Sam do not become one of those boring neutral PF bloggers. The reason I check out PF blogs this many years after discovering the first one is when I can actually care about their growth. It is the reason I bailed on most huge sites at this point…if I just wanted pure info without any personal feel to it I’ll check out WSJ.

  26. says

    So much love in your comment thread. Simply amazing. As you said, do what’s best for you. I’m not worried that you’ll change. You can’t. Duh. Writing is just thinking through your fingers. If your personality isn’t changing, you’re writing style isn’t going to change.

  27. says

    Sam – don’t change I thing. I love your blog and look actually come back to reading it. Don’t worry, you are providing society a real value with your writing.

  28. Tom says

    Screw that. I read FS because it is different. By all means, Take a break, recharge, but please don’t change too much. Someone has to challenge the conventional wisdom that is holding so many people back.

  29. Bruce (just a Canadian) says

    Sam,

    I am in my 50s and I have to look long and hard to find articles on the Internet that can still catch my interest and have a new slant on things. I really enjoy your site, as it provides that catchy personal view. I appreciate your frustration as you may think that people are not getting what you are trying to say. I am sure there is a silent majority that really appreciate what you have to offer.

    Entertainers/writers/talk show people often have to be very provocative to get people’s attention. Getting negative feedback is a sign that you are being edgy and getting people to think. I urge you to take the negative feedback as a sign that you are stirring people up! A good thing!

    This article you just wrote now for example. your lessons learned are the complete opposite of what you should be striving for. This is a great example of writing something that would be controversial to spur conversation. Another example is your blog on how to get a rich husband. That was a fun article, and, that was guaranteed to get a lot of people riled up (and that’s okay).

    Keep up the great work Sam. We all appreciate your site and how you comment on people’s feedback. I lose interest in bloggers who completely ignore their fans.

    Cheers,

    • says

      Thanks for your support Bruce. Always good to have those with more experience on board sharing their thoughts. It seems like I can’t really get away with posts that people just ignore for some reason. I’m not purposefully trying to incite anything anymore. Just writing how I see things.

  30. says

    Big difference between what you are doing and what the vanilla “Big PF” blogs are doing is that they are building a blog/web site and you’re building a community. Long after the Big Beige Blogs have taken a tailspin into obscurity because of their bland beige-ness Financial Samurai will still be going strong as will many members of this community.

    • says

      Hi Betsy, maybe you are right! Dang I like my beige khakis though. Looks like I’m invisible while laying on the beach.

      If the big boys fade (doubt it due to Google), they may very well vacuum all the pennies and leve nothing left for the rest of us!

      • says

        Khakis…on the beach? Please tell me the collared shirt and tie are at home!

        It stinks to see how crappy some of the big sites are…or have become. One of the reasons I’m here is because of the bad information (or lack of good information) at one of the big sites. I was researching credit cards for one daughter and bank accounts for the other (both college students) and being a former banker was appalled at what I was reading. Most of it was pure and utter crap with a credit card sales pitch attached. Anyway…here I am. I don’t know if I can make a difference, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

        • says

          Khaki shorts that is.

          I think part of the problem with bigger sites is they hire writers not folks with first hand experience in what they are writing about. So if you have a person three years out of school write about improving your credit score, it kinda seems like you’re wasting time as a reader. Oh well. Good luck!

  31. Lam says

    Sam,

    I’ll be so sad if you become a dull, bland vanilla. I’m another one of those first time commentators, after years of regularly following your blog since its inception in 2008. Then I just graduated from Cal with a major in economics, starting my young adulthood in SF. So I have been following you for five years now, and still going strong! I have always taken pleasures in reading about your personal experiences and insights, along with the public thoughts. And yes, I’m a natural saver…only spending big when it comes to investment.

    Cheers,
    L

      • Lam says

        Moved to LA, having started my own fashion e-commerce biz. At the age of 24, bought my first condo in LA. Based on comparable real estate sales, the current market value of my condo has increased by 35% of the purchase price. Not so bad for two years of real estate investment. Though I still left my heart in SF. Go Bears!

  32. swensodts says

    I think you finance / San Fran guys tend to live in some bubble, where everyone you know is making 250K+ – So, right off the bat you’re excluding 95% of the population and to those people the advice (ie Six figure Tax Bills etc . . .) may feel condescending or spark a level of jealousy, so when you open up about your personal life, with things like “not being married” or “having no kids” – Those type of topics immediately present themselves as opportunities for those not fortunate enough to be in the 5%, to justify their own circumstances and discount your achievements. Now, staying fairly neutral up until this point, I originally came to this website by way of a Google search about what is a lot of money to earn, I believe your most commented on post. So I began reading, I’ve read a good amount of your articles, and my takeaways are almost always, this a great “ideal”, I want to do better in my personal finances and I have benefited from your posts but at the same time, at what cost? I’m around your age or at least your buddy’s age – 30 – And I feel more like my life is just getting started. If I have to work a few extra years, that’s fine, because I believe more in balance, where I make good money, I have some savings but I don’t deny myself an occasional splurge, save some / spend some is my motto – I also believe that my legacy will be my family, not the net worth of my portfolio – Sure, I want to be comfortable in retirement, and I have every confidence that I will be, I’ll just have to work longer then 10 years for it and I’m okay with that because honestly, I need something to do all day anyway :-). The point is we all have the same problems, whether you make 50 grand or 500 grand – Don’t make the 50 grand guy feel like his problems are any less significant because he turns a wrench and not a tennis racquet and you’ll reach a broader audience and face less contempt IMHO.

    • says

      I think the folks living in a bubble are those who’ve never lived overseas and witnessed extended periods of poverty and those who can’t speak at least two languages fully. One of my biggest surprises coming to America was how self-centered the US is about how to do things. We even govern world affairs through wars!

      You make a good point about the median income level. And this is the community I plan on addressing more on this blog going forward to appeal to more readers. I need the encouragement to go mass market and I thank you for it.

      Good luck in your journey!

      • swensodts says

        I don’t think you take the opinion out of it, people value it, its apparent from the comments here and you don’t apologize for your success. Its been 8 or 9 months for me, and I’m still reading, so onward and upward . . .

  33. Maverick says

    Nooo…please don’t you dare go plain vanilla on us. I came here because you have a unique perspective that you share. I know you must receive whiney, bitchy, hater responses that don’t make it to the blog, but who wouldn’t when you lay it on the line. Oh, that’s right, the plain vanilla readership wouldn’t! Well, tell the haters to F-off. It’s your blog, now please get back up on that horse and write using YOUR voice. Don’t change who you are Sam.

  34. Pat X says

    Sam,

    Hey, don’t feel alone about the 3 things (real estate failures, alone forever, and FOMO). I admit, I made hundreds of thousands of negative money owning/owing two houses. Then in 2010, I had to short both to cut my losses. It nearly wiped my net worth from 10 years of savings, making Bay Area engineering income. But I eventually found a way to double my income (no, I did not start a business, nor changed company, nor did fancy investing) and half my taxes. This housing disaster came a few years after my divorce (we split, therefore house of cards toppled).

    But you know what, the two biggest failures in my life were the best lessons that happened to me!

    My short sales eventually forced me to calculate my finances. It taught me the habit to always look at the repercussions. I learned to plan. It brought me here.

    The divorce helped me find myself again. And it opened a path to meeting new people and doing things outside of my comfort zone. It allowed me to relocation (that’s how I turbo charged my income).

    Maybe I can share (privately) the things I did after my divorce to be an “honorable single”. Behaving and acting like a Single Samurai, is different than being a Settled Samurai.

    About FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), well I don’t have that ailment to your degree. I also forced myself to close my Facebook account, don’t do twitter, etc. I try to live a clean frugal life (gasp! I follow MMM and ERE blogs too!)

    Maybe you should love thyself; being a blogger, living in S.F., FOMO is part of the job (and I think your personality :-).

    Please do not write too much about frugality, since I get that from other sites.

  35. getagrip says

    Uh, you aren’t a sucker. If it makes you feel better, I blew off the guy who had the regional distribution of Nike footwear for the Northeast back in the eighties (who wants running shoes but jocks?). My buddies screwed a deal in the 11th hour to secure exclusive rights to all Anheiser-Busch products for the country of Taiwan. My friends and I determined that a video store wouldn’t be a viable business and couldn’t make money let alone cover rent (can we say blockbuster?). My list could go on for a while as well.

    You’re doing leaps and bounds better financially and probably have more in assets now than I’ll ever accumulate.

    The small minded or envious refuse to allow others success. It’s always, “sure they did X, BUT what about Y, they didn’t consider Y did they. I considered Y so therefore they aren’t so great, blah blah blah.”

    You provide a unique point of view. Occasional guest posts, if you chose to put them in, could be fine. But I will give you Get Rich Slowly as an example. Since JD no longer has a heavy hand in the site, I’ve found the articles less and less valuable and interesting. They have sensed this themselves and are bringing JD back to some extent, but it seems stressed and artificial now versus when he ran the ship. However, I can appreciate burn out and JD’s need to move on and that they may have attracted new readers who like what they are doing and I could be the minority.

    The risk of any form of communication is that it can be taken in a manner not intended. Or that you don’t get the expected response. It also opens you up to those who full out just hate anyone doing better than they are.

    In any case, best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

    • says

      Ah, but someone mentioned JD cashed out for 8 figures, which ain’t so bad!

      Thanks for sharing your examples. It’d always interesting to look back on things when we are in a different state of mind. I’d like more guest posts because frankly, I’m getting sick of hearing myself speak!

  36. Ahp999 says

    I enjoy reading your material, because I feel it pertains to my goals and what I want to strive to be. From time to time I visit other top blogs high in ranking, but I do not find what I am looking for. Its always the usual crap about skip drinking your starbucks, save 5 dollars here and there. How to make cheap food at home. How to cut back on this and that just to save a few pennies and dollars. To me that is not what life is about. Your overall thought about freedom, doing what you want and when you want by attaining financial freedom. Is exactly the stuff I am looking for… But I do understand, you still have to do what is right for you in the long term. I will respect whatever you decide to do with your site. For now thank you for all you have provided to this community.

  37. says

    Hi Sam, just catching up here, and this post made me sad. Don’t go changing.

    Comments can be the worst. My email is full of people who say “love your blog, it’s helped me do this or that”, all the snipers are in the comments. I think I’ve got a pretty decent community with some excellent contributors, but there’s 2-3 ice cold souls who seem to wait to pounce with an early putdown almost as soon as I publish them. Sometimes I just delete them.

    I’d turn off comments before I changed my style. But I’m stubborn! :)

    Good luck whatever you decide.

    • says

      Always good to hear from you mate. Can’t believe you’re still blogging after all these years as well! I’m going to bring on new writers to get their point of view on more mass appeal subjects. I’m getting sick of hearing myself speak and want to be a fan again and read other people’s stuff more often. Thanks for the encouragement!

      • says

        Yep, I’m still plugging away. ;)

        Not that you need anyone’s approval, but I think you’ve earned the right to try something different with your blog. You’ve done a lot to try to grow the personal finance blogging community. Who says you can’t grow in new directions yourself?

        I just hope you keep some up your uniqueness, too. :) You’ve got a personality here — rare on money sites nowadays! Obviously that will be diluted by some of these new “how to” type articles, but you can still keep your voice in the mix.

        Good luck with it!

  38. AO says

    A little late to the party, but I want to join the chorus of voices encouraging you to continue doing what you are doing. The fact that you have managed to stand out in the ocean of online financial advice is in itself a feat. There is so much out there that is basic and dull. I don’t need that. I came to your site because finally I found information that was relevant to me. My household has a relatively high income and not many people write on topics that are directed at my circumstances. At the same time, I don’t come from a wealthy background, so sometimes I feel like I’m making this up as I go along. Your site gives me food for thought and new methods of evaluation to keep personal finance rewarding. There may be some posts that don’t speak to me or with which I disagree, but that will always be the case for anyone I read. More important to me are the posts that hit it out of the ballpark: in depth, thoughtful, visually represented, and personally relevant. And that’s the reason I have and will come back. I’m also impressed with your reader interaction. Beyond the posts themselves, you’ve got some of the most interesting comments sections out there precisely because you respond to almost everything. I think it makes sense to bring on guest bloggers, as you’ve indicated, because the pace at which you produce must be exhausting creatively. But selfishly, I hope you don’t use guest bloggers to go for mass market appeal. Instead, hopefully, you will maintain and expand the brand you’ve created with diversified viewpoints. I would love writing for a site like this, exploring the fun and complexities of personal finance. Put another way: when I was applying for college years ago, I had to write a personal essay as part of my application. One of my teachers said to me, “It’s a personal essay. Make it personal.” It was the best writing advice I could have received. The same applies here. It’s personal finance. Make it personal.

    • says

      Hi AO, I feel you regarding making it up as we go along. It’s why I wait for years to often write about something because when I get somewhere, I sometimes pinch myself wondering how did I get there? I then have to make sure it’s not a fluke and do some analysis before feeling comfortable producing a post.

      I’d love to have a creative post from you! Please shoot me an email!

  39. Virginia says

    Oh dear. Sam, you sound depressed. I hope you know that you are not the only one who has a fear of being alone. I went back and read your post. In my opinion, I don’t think you revealed a lot of you personal feelings. You DID say you were afraid of being alone, but there weren’t a lot of details about your fears. Does it keep you up at night? Have you had trouble dating? Is it awkward going to movies alone? I think you would have gotten more of a sympathetic response if you had revealed a little more about yourself.

    I’m not trying to insult the post because it was a fine post. I just don’t think it was as revealing as you think it was.

    Please don’t purposely let the quality of your posts decline. That’s silly. You have had an amazing career and accomplished many things. Putting out bland posts would be a waste. For what it’s worth, I used to read dozens of PF blogs and I’m down to about 5. This is one of the few remaining sites that consistently offers good material.

    • says

      You’re right in that I didn’t reveal thoroughly how I’ve been feeling with those posts. Lots went on during this summer. An emotional roller coaster one can say. I’m off the ride now and feel much better. It was fun while it lasted, but I rediscovered again who I am.

  40. D says

    Just my opinion but STOP caring what others’ think of your work and just do the work that inspires YOU. Personally, I’ve found your stuff to be original and interesting.

    Plenty of us have big incomes, lost a shit-ton of $, made huge painful gaffes but lack the courage to put it out there in an open forum; KUDOS to you for being so brave and honest and thank you.

  41. says

    I’ve been reading your site for about a month now and have learned a lot from it. I like the personal stories and opinions (even if I don’t agree with all of them). I think it’s what makes your site unique and keeps me coming back. I’ve found that other PF blogs I’ve read run out of steam when life events take over (getting married, having kids). I hope that doesn’t happen to you. I find your direct honesty about how you view things appealing. And if I don’t agree with what you say then we just disagree. That’s all.

  42. Dan says

    The thing that keeps me reading your blog and others is the personal side to your articles. Otherwise all blogs would be repeating the same financial formulas that are already out there. A lot of blogs do this..

  43. Dane says

    This year, after saving and contributing, I took it upon myself to manage my own retirement savings. Your site has been, by far, the most interesting and informative. I rarely, almost never, reply to posts as I like to read and peruse what others are willing to put out there. In most cases, I lose interest. So far, I like what I see. I hope the new year bought a new layer of skin.
    Do what you do for yourself, not for the validation that is unlikely to come from an internet of voyeurs. Looking forward to keeping on reading what you got.

    • says

      Thanks. I really enjoy extreme comments. How else could I have produced this post?

      I agree that it’s great to kick back and read other people’s stuff if it is entertaining. The only problem is, someone has actually got to spend the time to write it. We can’t all kick back!

      But, it would be great to kick back and get showered with accolades and hundred dollar bills from the sky too. Go USA!

  44. Dana says

    Hi Sam,

    I lost finances, house etc…in the 2008/2009 financial meltdown. I have learned a lot since then and I am striving to make better decisions and avoid potential pitfalls as I never want to relive those years again. It’s good to know that I am not alone in my struggle for obtaining financial freedom. As far as the question posed about whether you should continue blogging, do what you do knowing that everyone may not be receptive of your message but there are some (like myself) who are open minded to learning new things. Please continue your blogging and thank you for sharing what you’ve learned along the way.

  45. says

    I know it’s an old post but seeing you link back to it today reminded me.

    ‘In the blogging world, I’m probably the only blogger my size who actively comments on other sites because I remember the loneliness of first starting out and the joy of having someone leave a note.’

    ^^ I couldn’t agree more with this. Having just started a couple of months ago, it really inspires me to continue when far more experienced writers take the time to read and comment on some of the random thoughts going around my head. I hope you don’t burn out and do continue to interact with the smaller bloggers just starting out there.

  46. Denise says

    One perspective no one has mentioned yet is also the value of your minority voice. As an Asian female about your age who’s been raised by immigrants, I’ve been looking for a voice like yours in the PF space. So far they’re mostly white males, and while finance is finance so who cares who writes it, sometimes you need a voice you can relate to. Frugality looks different across different cultures. Sacrifice too. Your filial piety, conservative financial views, and aggressive anti-racism personally resonate with me.

    My income has ranged from $22-60k/yr, so I would argue that your blog appeals to a wider range of incomes by speaking to a value system rarely heard of outside of minority groups. Putting your vulnerabilities out there is definitely risky, because when people see a big soft underbelly, it’s tempting to punch it. It is a courageous thing to do and it helps me understand my brother better. I do understand how exhausting it can be to go on emotional roller coasters that inconsiderate people put you on, so I hope you do lots of self-care!

    • says

      Hi Denise,

      Great to hear from you. It’s interesting because to gain the biggest audience, one should write for the biggest demographic. So if I was narrowed down to the Asian American group, I’d only capture 5% of the US population, even though there are well over a billion Asian people in the world.

      I enjoy reading different perspectives from all people. This is what makes the internet fun.

      Thanks for reading!

      Sam

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