The Financial Samurai Value Proposition

Early Retirement Financial SamuraiEvery now and again, it’s good to reflect on things in order to improve.  You’ve likely read my updated About page already and have a decent sense of what this site is about after going through some of the posts.

There are thousands of personal finance blogs on the web and certainly millions more blogs across all categories you can potentially visit. It’s just impossible to do and you’ve got to pick and choose. I’d like to formalize Financial Samurai’s value proposition to help you understand why you want to keep coming back for more.

We are going to build more wealth, slice through more money bullshit, and be happier because of it!

THE FINANCIAL SAMURAI VALUE PROPOSITION

* The Joy of Communication: Interaction with all of you is what makes Financial Samurai so much fun. I tend to respond to the large majority of comments where there are questions. Even if you don’t have questions, I like to drop an occasional note of observation and thanks. I’m not going to sit in a high chair far above and not interact with you readers. Hence, if you have questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll get to them as efficiently as possible.

* Just Me And The Community: 95%+ of the posts are written by me and I do not employ staff writers or ghost writers. I’ve got a large backlog of posts that are ready to be published, including several good ones from Financial Samurai readers which I’m sure you’ll find interesting. The whole point of having a blog is to share your own views and opinions, otherwise, you might as well just read a newspaper don’t you think? I also welcome all well-written guest posts from the community. I’ve found that nobody cares more about your writing than yourself, which is why I tend to lose interest in sites that employ too many voices.  You’ll be amazed at how many sites employ ghost writers by the way. I was shocked to find out myself.

* Quality Of Writing: I spend a lot of time editing my posts and guest posts so that they come out as clear and entertaining as possible.  Of course there will be typos and grammatical errors here and there, but for the most part, the content is well put together.  Remember, this is not the New York Times or The Washington Post!  Articles are generally opinionated and I try and make readers think about issues at hand, even if they object.  Despite having some controversial posts, you will hardly ever find nasty comments because I think the argument structures are sound.  The average post length is around 900-1,500 words, and the posts have consistently come out 3-4X a week for years.

* Entertainment: I get easily bored, which is why I will only publish something that I find relatively entertaining. It’s impossible to always have the most riveting content on the web. That said, even the most mundane things like raising your credit score can be told through an experience that will incite emotion.  Furthermore, I will keep the topics forever changing. My focus is on real estate, health, insurance, taxes, retirement, government and relationships. There will seldom be a dull moment on Financial Samurai if I can help it.  Thank goodness there are so many crooked politicians and companies out there!

* Integrity: Because I don’t depend on online income to survive, or need to work anymore for that matter, I care less about what corporations, potential advertisers, and other bloggers think of me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I just care less. To go to war over something I believe in is a true honor.  I find it fun and invigorating to battle an opponent to the end! If you wrong me, like PG&E wronged me, I have no qualms about pointing out the injustices even if that means a lack of sponsorship in the future. If you treat me well, like USAA has treated me well for the past 20 years, then I have no problems highlighting your good work and advertising your product. Even then, if you are going to try to make me all of a sudden pay 50% higher home insurance premiums, I will write about the insurance and appraisal scam as well. Everybody has the right to make money online and do what they want with their websites. There are certain things I need to be vague about in order to protect individual identities.  However, it’s the takeaways which are the most important thing.  It’s what you say and do on the web, your social capital if you will, which matters most.

* First-Hand Experience: I’m not pontificating on what things would be like, or how things could be. I’m sharing with you my experiences and telling you what I’ve learned. If I don’t know about something, and find the subject interesting, I’ll ask someone who does know to share their thoughts. Because I own a home, have rental properties, invest in stocks, invest in bonds, and invest in private companies, there is always going to be a ton of investment content that we will discuss. Maybe we’ll all be able to make some good returns as a result. Because I pay a crap load of taxes, hate taxes, and think the government is made up of crooks, we will constantly have philosophical debates on how to improve our country. Because I worked at McDonald’s making $3.25 an hour and worked a lot of other low paying jobs since high school, I empathize with those who are financially struggling. As a manager in the workplace, you will gain career perspective on how to get ahead and blow yourself up  Finally, as a person who has lived in 7 different countries, and visited 50 more, you will find a diversity of cultural viewpoints to help expand the mind.  I hate racism, bigotry, and ignorance.

* Financially Independent: One of the main underlying goals of reading any personal finance site is to figure out how to achieve financial independence. If someone could teach me how to retire early with real money and never have to work again, I would pay them a lot because time is priceless! Good thing for you, I’ve mathematically figured it out and have shown you how to realistically retire by 40 or 45 if you want to. Whether you take the leap of faith, it’s up to you. When you work due to the joy of your work, and not because you need the paycheck to survive, that is a great feeling.  It’s the same way I felt getting my MBA. Grades didn’t matter, just the learning.  Hopefully by reading Financial Samurai, you will get a glimpse into the way someone who is financially independent thinks about things.

* Quality of Readers: We have the best personal finance readers on the web. It’s a virtuous cycle where good content attracts good readers who attract more good readers. I’ve learned so much from all of you, as I’m sure many of you have learned so much from the community as well. A large majority of us have moved beyond the basics of personal finance and are looking to maximize our lifestyles, super-charge our investments, optimize our taxation structures, see the world, and have a frolicking good time in the process! We will indulge a little more than average in some of the luxuries life has to offer.  There’s no point making money if you don’t spend it.

MAY WE CONTINUE TO SLICE THROUGH MONEY’S MYSTERIES

I am a big fan of the personal finance and lifestyle blog community. So in essence, I am like all of you readers. I like to be entertained while learning something new in the process. Those sites that can offer such a combination are the sites that keep me coming back for more.

A blog is also a great testing ground for new things. I do want to see if I can create a product and service  I know there is demand out there from readers who would like to start their own sites, or who have their own sites and want to get noticed. I also know there are readers who want to get one-on-one financial advice as well.  It will be an adventure to work on pricing, marketing, and product offering.  Even if there is absolute failure with no resulting business, trying something new always brings about new knowledge.

Photo: Girl dancing in a Hawaiian sunset, SD.

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. says

    Great post Sam.

    I’m a pretty new reader here, and find myself addicted to the plethora of lifestyle blogs pretty often. What I like about your writing is the experiential evidence scattered throughout the posts. So many bloggers write on speculation and perceived authority, it’s hard to tell the real thing from the fakers.

    You don’t sugarcoat issues, and it’s pretty clear that you speak from experience. As a newbie to the working world (coming up on three years at my first company) I’ve been grasping at relevant guidance to my situation. Financial Samurai is surely one of the top sites for me. Thanks for writing and I look forward to more.

    • says

      As a new reader, welcome! Lifestyle blogs are very entertaining, and I love them actually. The whole movement of friends in their 20’s quitting their jobs and living nomad lifestyles is fun. If you find them being too authoritative, just ask what their income, savings, and experience is, and whether they live with their parents :) At least they are doing something about their situation, which is more than many.

      Yes, I try not to sugarcoat issues, unless it is really offensive, and then i’ll come up with a way to hopefully make readers see the light.

      thx!

  2. Jerry Curl says

    Thanks for the highlights Sam. I like how you write from the gut. I’ve visited a lot of other PF sites and i’m constantly thinking to myself, “Did they just write that? Is that a sponsored post or a ghost writer? Because the writing sucks.”

    I’d like to read more about how you were able to develop your readership despite the odds.

    • says

      You’ve probably stumbled across a ghost written or sponsored post, hence your thoughts.

      Might touch more about building a highly visited site more in the future. Or, you can hop on over to Yakezie.com, which has more blogging related material.

  3. says

    I don’t employ a writer either, but I will probably need to do that if I ever get another website going. I like your value proposition and that’s why I keep coming back. Reading opinionated posts are much more fun than the usual how to save gas posts. I need to work on Retire By 40’s value proposition too.

  4. says

    Sam, I’ve always enjoyed your blog. When I get a post from you in my Reader, I know it’s from You. You’re a creative person and I love your fresh ideas.

    Here’s something I’ve been thinking about the last few days (and this has been my parents’ experience and so far my wife and I’s experience): We have money saved, but it’s almost as though we look at it as our emergency fund, or security fund–not something to withdraw. My wife is conservative with her finances and is afraid to retire because of a fear that her retirement benefits will not be enough (even though it will be near 6 figures).

    So with all the monies invested, in a way it almost does not good, because all the money just keeps getting reinvested and not ever actually used. Like I say, I’ve seen that with my mom and dad, and now I’m seeing that with my family. I’d love your ideas Sam, thanks.

    • says

      Hi Michael,

      Great to hear from you. It’s been a while!

      On your thoughts, perhaps your wife will feel less conservative if she knew when she retired you’d keep on working to help support both of your lifestyles?

      No point making money if we don’t spend it! Median life expectancy is 79 years old!

      Sam

  5. says

    I love reading your posts Sam! I’ve learned so much from your site and I like how you think out of the box and keep it real, writing about things you really care about. It’s so obvious to me when bloggers outsource the majority of their writing because the quality of those posts are bad and they are so boring. Your writing style on the other always make me nod, laugh, and keep coming back for more. There are also some great comments on your sites that I enjoy reading too.

    And wow I wish I had your speed at writing posts! Keep up the good work!

  6. says

    Great post sam – think the reason I keep coming back is because you get me to think! Even though I dont always agree with you, I do end up at least seeing where you’re coming from and usually it’s an angle I’ve never thought of.

  7. David M says

    Sam,

    As others have said – its great that you are giving your real opinions. You are writing what you want to write about.

    I often read blogs were there are giving advice but I feel they have not done good research and do not care about what they are writing about. I feel they are just writing with the hope of making money. I never feel that way about your blog posts.

    Keep up the GREAT writing!

    • says

      David, you are one of those awesome readers and commenters I am referring to. Such good perspective you provide. You should consider starting your own blog too! Thanks for mentioning that you never feel like you’re reading a post in hopes to make money from my site. That makes me very happy!

  8. says

    I find it interesting that you included entertainment. It seems as though the focus in mobile phones, tablets etc is on entertainment too. It seems that just interesting or necessary information is not enough. I have to include interesting stories in my lessons to keep the students engaged. When did this become the norm?

    • says

      I think entertainment is so crucial to anything. Part of providing good entertainment is having a good voice where the listener, reader, watcher can vividly hear, read, see the person.

      Without stories, I soon tire. But, I have a low threshold for boredom I must admit.

  9. Darwin's Money says

    The posts are always fun and controversial – right up my alley! It’s what keeps people coming back!

  10. says

    Sam, you speak from your heart. That’s what we need more of than the mainstream media. I agree that since you are financially independent, you have freedom to speak without worrying about creating any controversies or to worry about losing your sponsors. Keep up the great work.

  11. says

    Your posts are opinionated? Alert the press!

    I think it’s your intelligent sense of humor that helps get me through the week. Thanks for some great posts. I wrote recently that the worst part of my “job” blogging was reading other sites. I still regret that comment; it was poorly worded. What I meant was that I don’t like reading sites that don’t have an original voice. I don’t really care about the opinion as much as how it’s presented.

    • says

      Interesting how you don’t care about opinion as much as the structure of presentation. Good to know! Will think about that point more for future posts.

      Why don’t you think more blogs don’t put more opinion into their writing?

  12. says

    Sam, I admire your honesty more than anything. I think your ability to come up with unique ideas and angles to a subject is what gives you an edge over others. It’s what I try to do, and am getting better at with practice, but have a ways to go.

    Keep it up.

    • says

      Thanks Doc. Appreciate it! It’s reall easy to be honest when money doesn’t really come to play. It’s invigorating actually. Looking forward to reading your value proposition.

  13. says

    Keep the great blog posts coming! You’re a terrific writer and I think a lot of finance blogs lack the quality writing the audience deserves; I appreciate you putting the time – especially to make a post interesting!

  14. says

    I think the integrity bit is the most important part of all your bullets. I don’t rely on my blog income either and I think that helps when making decisions about what you will and will not put on your site.

  15. BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog says

    Very inspirational Sam. Financial independence is…above all things…liberating. It’s allows you to do what you do. Congrats!

  16. says

    Love your site Sam! It’s not that I always agree with what you say but rather the fact that you are not trying to Please someone else with what you write that keeps me coming back. I know you are going to be honest in your opinion whether others agree or not and honestly that makes for great comments.

    • says

      Thanks Thomas. I’m glad you appreciate my opinions and frankness about things. I’m definitely willing to see the other side. I just want to read some good arguments arguin the case.

  17. Mike Hunt says

    Sam,

    I enjoy reading your posts and try to comment when I can add something to the discussion.

    Best regards,

    Mike

  18. says

    I am glad I read this post.. it gives me a better understanding of your motivations. Your values match up well with mine, which I believe is the most important consideration when considering something/someone new. I’ll be honest I did not at all like that post on how to retire early and never have to work again..not at all. But I digress–everything I have read today is top notch. I will spend some quality time going through many of your articles.

    • says

      Jason, I forget whether you commented on my post on how to retire early. I got a lot of flack for it, likely from people who have not saved those amounts in my charts.

      Why do you not like that post?

  19. says

    Awesome post Sam. I’ve come across your site before but today was the first time I actually sat down and explored. Loved this post you have a reader for life now. Looking forward to reading more of your material!

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