The First Million Might Be The Easiest: How To Become A Millionaire By Age 30

Balandra Bay, Mexico VacationGrowing up in a middle class household made me strong. My parents always drove beaters and frowned upon ordering anything other than water when we went out to eat. I knew my parents were not rich because their incomes were in the public domain as foreign service officers. As a result, I made a conscience choice in high school not to attend one of the two private colleges that had accepted me in order to save us money.

We were by no means poor. We just pulled up to parties in a paintless 1976 Nissan Datsun alongside Audis, Mercedes, and BMWs for the four years we lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between 1986-1990. I was quite mortified as a kid I’ve got to admit. I knew nothing of expensive shoes because I had none except for my wealthier friend’s hand-me-down Jordans that were two sizes too large. I couldn’t even afford a camera or a Nintendo game system. We led comfortable lives, but didn’t have more than we needed.

I was always curious about my wealthier friends. Many of their parents were business owners so one day I told my father, I too wanted to be a businessman. By the time I was 13 I was hooked on every single episode of “The Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous,” narrated by Robin Leech. A million dollar house and a $40,000 sports car. What a life! I thought to myself in the 8th grade. Might as well give it a go. That’s when I started really hitting the books.


Becoming a millionaire is becoming more common rather than the exception thanks to inflation. If you work for 40 years and save and invest just 20% of your after-tax paycheck a year, there is no doubt in my mind you will amass at least one million dollars in net worth thanks to historical compounding returns. Maxing out your 401K for 30+ years will also most likely lead to over $1 million dollars as well due to market returns and company matching as well. We’ve got financial planners, personal finance blogs, television, books and even free online wealth management companies like Personal Capital to help you build wealth. Much of the tools and information are free thanks to the internet. So many resources make building wealth much easier now than in the past.

Three Reasons Why The First Million Could Be The Easiest

1) Tremendous energy. When we first graduate from high school or college, we have a tremendous amount of energy to show what we can do after all our education. We’re hungry, motivated, and need to prove to others and to ourselves our worth. Unfortunately, so many of us piss away our youth by buying new cars, getting into credit card debt, not listening to our elders, and thinking the world owes us something. Forget it folks. Nobody owes us anything. But we owe it to ourselves and to our parents who sacrificed all that time and money raising us to give life everything we’ve got.

2) Less dependents. Most of us won’t have children by the time we graduate from college. As a result, we can focus 100% of our efforts on generating wealth by developing our careers or our businesses. Compare ourselves to middle aged adults with two children, a mortgage, and aging parents to take care of. We are like finicky Ferraris on a starting line ready to blow away our older model competitors.

3) Nothing to lose. When we graduate with nothing, we have nothing to lose. Compare that with people with property, stocks, and other investments during economic downturns, and they have everything to lose. With very little assets, we should be taking more risks. Now is the time to start a company, invest in that growth stock, take a new job opportunity, or move half way across the world on a hunch that good things might happen. If we don’t take risks while we are young, we certainly aren’t going to take them when we are old.


I had no idea I became a millionaire at age 28 until two years later at the age of 30 when I did my first detailed net worth spreadsheet in 2007. It’s easier to achieve something when we don’t even realize what we’re doing. I was too busy saving, investing, working, and trying not to blow my money on things that I didn’t need. I was one of those “Super Motivated Boyfriends” (SMBs) who were impossible to lock down.

Like most people believe, 30 is a big milestone. Ever since college I told myself I was either going to make it, know that I was going to make it, or be an absolute failure by 30. The fear of being a failure at 30 with no job, no woman, no savings, no investments, and no world experiences made me so motivated to not mess things up. A painful two years of working 70+ hour weeks right out of college with difficult bosses also got me into overdrive to figure out a way not to work forever!

There was no fanfare when I discovered the seven figure milestone had been achieved, just the realization that time passes more quickly as we age. I had to make the most of my opportunities since nothing lasts forever. Years later, I’ve continued to grow my net worth with a variety of passive and alternative active incomes to keep me motivated to grow them into self-sustaining income sources on their own.

If you’ve been reading my posts from how to save for retirement if you don’t make much to people make much more than you think, there’s no magic behind wealth accumulation. Amassing wealth is about savings, discipline, perseverance, luck, the occasional X Factor, and the belief that you too deserve to be wealthy. Eventually you have more than enough so that you’ll either retire or keep on playing for fun.


To the best of my memory here’s how I was able to amass a million dollars by age 28.

Age 22. Year 1999. Place Your Balls On The Chopping Block. When I graduated college the total amount of cash I had was roughly $4,000. I had saved some money from summer jobs temping and flipping burgers at McDonald’s for $3.25-$4 an hour. I just started a dream job in New York City at Goldman Sachs and was feeling confident I wasn’t going to get fired the very next month. As a result, I invested $3,000 in a dotcom stock called Vertical Integration Systems (VCSY) that turned into $200,000 within several months. Yes it was incredibly lucky, but it also took some analysis and guts. I just wish I had more money to invest! The stock pulled back by around 25%, at which time I sold everything for around $155,000 and stayed out of the bubbliscious stock market for the next year and a half due to a job change in 2001. The stock ended up being worthless a couple years later. $155,000 equals about $120,000 in after tax proceeds. The trade is detailed in the post, Don’t Stop Fortune HuntingNet worth: ~$160,000.

Age 24. Year 2001. Taking An Employment Chance. After two years in NYC, I was recruited to join another firm in San Francisco. I only knew a couple people in San Francisco, but felt the promotion and 100%+ guaranteed raise was attractive enough to take a chance. I was coming from a top firm and had established some solid client relationships over the past two years. The economy was still dicey due to the dotcom implosion and there was a big chance I would not make Associate after my third year at GS.

It turns out my firm in NYC did indeed let go of many colleagues, and only about 25% of the people I knew from my entering class were still there two years after I left. It was a little scary moving all the way cross country, but it wasn’t like I was moving to the middle of nowhere. This was San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Besides, San Francisco is six hours closer to Hawaii, one of my favorite places on Earth, so I figured what the hell. I saved 100% of each bonus, maxed out my 401(k), and saved a little more for my E*TRADE accountNet worth: ~$260,000.

Age 25. Year 2002. Continued To Live Like A Student. The first two years in NYC, I lived in a studio with another guy. We put up one of those Chinese Paper Walls to add more privacy. I didn’t care. I was living in New York City, the most alive city in America. I’d rather spend money going out and partying rather than on an extra bedroom. When I moved to San Francisco, I spent even less on housing since NYC is about 30% more expensive. I found a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment at the edge of downtown for only $850 a person. I finally had my own room, yeah baby! When you now make double what you were making a year ago, yet pay 25% less in rent, saving becomes very easy. I increased my after tax, after 401K maximum contribution savings rate from 50% to 65%. Net worth: ~$400,000.

Age 26. Year 2003. Conservative Investments Before & During The Recession. 60% of every paycheck and 100% of every year end bonus after 401(k) contributions went into long-term CDs that yielded 5-6% at the time. The reason why I invested in CDs was due to a job change and not having time to manage my portfolio in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Furthermore, I was scared of another market implosion that would not only take down my investments, but also my bonus, and potentially my job. My 401(k) was already 100% exposed to the stock market already.

A day after my 26th birthday, I decided that it was time to grow up and buy my own place. I was renting a $1,600/month one bedroom apartment in San Francisco and wanted a nicer apartment. At the same time, I didn’t want to spend more than $2,000 a month on rent because the return on rent is always zero. I became very disillusioned with having a large chunk of money in the bank and started wondering what is the point of working more since I had more than I could ever have imagined. At age 26, I was already thinking of “retiring” in Hawaii. In retrospect, if I had started this site then, Financial Samurai would have been a beast in the blogosphere. Given my waning motivation to work as hard anymore, I decided to buy a two bedroom, two bathroom condo in a nice area of SF and live it up a little! The combination of 5-6% compounded returns in savings over four years, a growing 401(k), and another year of saving a growing bonus resulted in a net worth of roughly $550,000.

Age 26-27. Year 2004. Renewed Motivation To Work. After putting down a 25% downpayment (~$140,000) for a $580,000 condo, my motivation to work skyrocketed because of a drained cash account. I prayed the housing market wouldn’t implode like the stock market did years earlier. A year before my condo purchase I did a silly thing and bought a $78,000 Mercedes G Wagon (G500). The truck was sweet and I thought it was a great deal since it was selling for $150,000+ the year before since this small dealership in Sante Fe, New Mexico quizically owned the US import rights. I drove the truck for a year and had to sell it for a $20,000 loss because it wouldn’t fit in my condo garage due to the height! What an idiot, but I felt buying the condo was the responsible thing to do. I traded way down to a seven year hold Honda Civic worth $8,000 instead. I was growing up but still had the thirst for nice cars.

The $435,000 mortgage put a fire under my ass to work harder and be the best performer I could be. At the age of 27 I was promoted to “Vice President,” a title that is normally bestowed on business school graduates three to four years out of school at the age of 32-33. From there, my income took another large jump up due to a higher base and higher bonus range. I became one of the youngest VP promotes in my office. Debt provided an unexpected side benefit for my career. From 2003 to 2005 my condo also appreciated to around $815,000, a 40% jump. Unfortunately, this increase was unsustainable as we all know. Net worth: ~$800,000.

Age 28. Year 2005. A New Landlord. At 28, I decided to finally buy a house in San Francisco. I was sick of having neighbors above and below me. I wanted a yard, a deck, reprieve from the HOA meetings, and to be king of my own castle. I already started looking every Sunday a year earlier because I was fascinated with real estate just like so many others at the time. I turned my condo into a rental, and it has been this way for the past eight years. My rental property equity was around ~$350,000 plus around $750,000 worth of CDs and stock investments for a total net worth of around $1.1 million. I knew I was doing OK, but I had no idea I was worth over $1 million at the time. I was too busy building a business at work, managing a rental, remodeling a new home, and figuring out how to keep things going.

Note On 401k Investments: I put away the max 401K pre-tax contribution since my first full year of employment. At the time, the maximum contribution amount was $10,000 a year. The maximum amount is now $17,500 a year for 2014. If I take six years times the average $15,000 = $90,000. The average company match was around $15,000 a year since we had match + profit sharing, so add on another $80,000 = $170,000 in my 401K by the age of 28. But actually, I had over $200,000 given it did return more than 5% on average for six years. One of my 401K options was a hedge fund, where I put a 60% of my allocation during the downturn between 2000-2002. The fund actually did well given they had a net short position, so my overall 401(k) was able to take the hits. Here’s my recommended 401(k) by age chart

Financial Samurai Net Worth Growth Chart to $1,000,000
AgeNet Worth After TaxesNotes
22$4,000Fresh out of college.
23$160,000Big stock gains by taking risk.
24$260,000Changed firms for promotion & raise.
25$400,000Saving 60%+ of after tax income.
26$550,000Bought first property, entered business school PT, Go Bears!
27$800,000Promotion to VP. Purchased vacation property that turns sour years later.
28~$1,100,000Savings, stocks and rental property appreciation. Bought 3rd property.


What I’ve written is to the best of my recollection. Remember, I didn’t start calculating my net worth until I was 30 and I’ve only just now recounted the wealth building years up to age 28. I strongly believe everybody can accumulate a million dollars if they have the motivation, a good amount of planning, and the right amount of guidance. I’m sure some of you will have your own doubts, while others will scoff at how little $1 million is. You’ve got to figure out for yourself what amount makes you happy.

1) Don’t mess around in high school and college or else you will have a hard time landing a good job that pays well. Give yourself optionality please. There are thousands of straight-A, top 25 university graduates every single year. I was one of the thousands, and it’s hard to compete if you are not one of them because employers can’t respond or meet with everyone. Many firms such as Goldman, Mckinsey, Bain etc have GPA cutoffs of 3.5 out of 4.0, with some at 3.7. If you don’t have connections then you just aren’t going to make the cut when there are thousands of applicants for only 60 spots. You can rage against the machine and believe grades don’t matter, but you are going to be wrong like donkey kong and most likely regret your immaturity.

Getting a job at Goldman Sachs WHQ was like winning the lottery for a kid coming out of a non-target public school. I went through seven rounds and 55 interviews over a course of eight months before getting the offer. I would not have been able to even get an interview if I didn’t get good grades or show initiative. Your job income is the #1 main source of wealth for most people. Might as well focus on the highest paying industries that you think you’ll enjoy if money is what you want to make. It’s important to note that no way is a large income a guarantee for lasting wealth as many millionaire bankruptcies have proven.

Read “How To Make Six Figures At Almost Any Age” or “Examples Of Good Resumes That Get Jobs

2) It’s important to save aggressively. When you’re a college student, you’re poor. Hence, even if you graduate and only make $30,000 a year, I’m willing to bet that’s more than you’ve ever made in your life! Try to continue living like a student for years after you’ve found your first full-time job and save! Stop making excuses why you need to buy a nice car and nice clothes. You’re a 22 year old recent college graduate for crying out loud. Build your foundation in your 20s and stop thinking you have a decade to explore, because you don’t. 10 years maxing out your 401(k) will likely result in a $200,000 portfolio in your early 30s.

The base you build in your 20s will provide tremendous returns for later on in life. If you stay consistent over the years, you will get there. Aim to save at least 20% of your after tax income every year, no matter what.

Please read “How Much Savings Should I Have Accumulated By Age” for some great tables to make sure you’re on track.

3) Work hard and know your place. Working hard takes NO skill. If you’re not coming in first and leaving last, you aren’t putting in your time. I promise you that if you wake up by 5am every morning, work one to two hours before the rest of your peers and work another one hour after your peers have left, you will get ahead! Please read A List Of Career Limiting Moves To Blow Up Your Future.

The reason why I was promoted to Vice President at 27, when the average VP promote is 33 is because I put in my dues. I generated millions of dollars in revenue, built a solid network of internal supporters, and was a workhorse by coming in by 5:30am everyday for my first two years and leaving at 7:30pm-8pm on average. Sometimes I even left work at 10pm. Did I sacrifice some of my social life? Of course I did. But, I also partied hard many weekends goodness knows! Working hard doesn’t mean you can’t play hard and travel. You’re young remember? You’re energy is limitless!

4) Stop making lame excuses. You can spend time crying why the world isn’t fair, or you can do something about your life. If you are reading this post, chances are you have clean water to drink, shelter, internet and a legal system that protects your rights. There are millions of people in the world who are starving every single day. There are those who live in fear of dictators confiscating everything they own. There are people who immigrate to America for a better life, don’t even speak the language and crush it. What is your excuse?

Spend 30 minutes every day by yourself in meditation coming up with a better business model for your company or for own business. Spend four hours every weekend in the office studying up on new things that will help improve your standings with your clients. You can even start a blog and work an extra 30 hours a week online before you have a family and generate some healthy revenue if you wish. Let’s take advantage of the freedom our respective countries provide.

5) Diversify your revenue and consider both aggressive and conservative strategies (dumbbell approach). When I was 22, I only had about $4,000 to my name. Regardless, I invested 80% of my money and it turned into a 50 bagger. Was I lucky? Hell yes! But, I did my research and was I willing to put my balls on the line to try and make some money. I think it is very important to take more risks when you are young which is why I’m biased towards growth stocks over dividend stocks. With the proceeds from my VCSY trade, I transferred my wins into long-term CDs and then ultimately into property.

When you are ahead, it’s very hard to walk away. As a poker player I know this feeling all too well. But it’s tantamount to invest a portion of your winnings in a safe haven. Lock it up. Protect yourself from yourself! I didn’t take on the reckless mentality of betting the farm with my windfall since I was now playing with the “house’s money.” This was my money now damnit, and I wasn’t about to piss it away on some B2B stocks. Continuously diversify your income streams. Create buffer after buffer. Please read, “Achieving Financial Freedom One Income Slice At A Time.

6) Property truly is your best friend over the long term. If you put 20% down on a property and it goes up 3% a year, that’s a 15% return on your cash thanks to leverage. Sure, you can get your face ripped off if you bite off more than you can chew. But trust me when I tell you that thanks to inflation, your debt payments will seem insignificant five years afterward. Five years later, you will be happy every month when you get to charge a rent that is much higher than the interest portion of your mortgage.

I sometimes feel guilty raising the rent, but remind myself, I was the one who took the risk, put down the downpayment, and nobody forces anybody to rent my place. Real estate is my favorite investment asset class to build wealth. You can also learn how to raise the rent without feeling guilty.

7) Pretend you are poor and show few signs of wealth. Stay humble despite amassing a fortune. Don’t show off or waste money on things you don’t need. Make people believe you are younger and poorer than you really are. I drive a 13 year old car and wear t-shirts, jeans, and a baseball cap most of the time. They think I’m 5-7 younger than I am, and give me little respect. That is exactly the way I want to be viewed so the car salesmen don’t bother me. Always be the underdog to get ahead. I would say at least 70% of the millionaires I know are very low key. You can’t tell they have a lot of money except for when you get to their house.

8) Believe there are more ways than one to rub a furry koala. You can make big bucks through a day job or on your own. Better yet, you can do both! There is no right or wrong way to rub the furry koala. Just the fact that you can pet one is what counts. You need to make a choice if you want to increase your wealth or not. If you do, you should logically research the industries that pay well and join one that fits your personality and skill-set. I grew up overseas and loved the stock market so I knew international equities was a perfect fit. I also like to write so blogging became a natural extension. Keep searching for other ways while counting each blessing because luck counts a great deal.

9) Office politics counts. In order to get ahead, you’ve got to play the game by building as many company allies as possible. I don’t know many people who like to sell themselves internally to their colleagues and bosses. People think that all it takes is good work to get recognized, paid, and promoted. This is absolutely false! You must sell yourself internally as much as you sell yourself externally. Once you have someone with significant power on your side, your entire career gets that much easier. Online, you can write great content, but you might very well never get on the map if someone bigger doesn’t recognize your work and give you a nod. After the lift, it’s what you do with it that matters.

10) Invest in yourself. Your greatest money making asset is you. Don’t cheap out on education or consulting. Education is worth more than any material thing you can buy. My studies in college and grad school taught me how to market, negotiate, communicate, analyze investments, and influence. Working with financial advisors who are experts in their fields have allowed me to save a ton on taxes, optimizes my investments, and let me focus on what I really want to do. It’s hard to recognize value when you can’t touch it. However, I promise you that knowledge and education is worth more than everything else.


One cannot downplay the importance of luck in building wealth. I have been fortunate to have two loving parents and a brain that works most of the time. If you’re born in America, please take full advantage of all your opportunities. Despite having a deficiency in higher level math, uninspiring SAT scores, and a run in with the law as a teenager, I made up for my weaknesses with plain old work ethic. It also helps to be an undying optimist as well.

You can’t complain about not having wealth if you decide not to pursue wealth. That’s a mental misalignment. The desire for wealth shouldn’t be viewed as evil. It should be viewed as natural for anybody who wants to live a better life, take care of his or her family and parents, and have the opportunity to give back to the community.

As soon as we align our realities with our beliefs and desires, we become congruent. We are happier with ourselves and our outlook. Once you’ve accumulated your $1 million nest egg, you’ve now got to figure out how to maximize its return as you battle age, other responsibilities, and fatigue. That’s when the real challenge begins!


Track Your Finances In One Place: After manually tracking my net worth via Excel spreadsheet since 2007, I decided in 2012 to track my net worth with a free tool called Personal Capital. Once you link all your financial accounts onto their dashboard, Personal Capital will track your net worth for you and send you weekly updates via e-mail. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ different accounts (brokerages, 401(k), multiple CDs from multiple banks, mortgage accounts etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to get a snapshot of how everything is going. I can also see how much I’m spending every month.

The best free tool they have is their 401k Fee Analyzer which is saving me over $1,700 in annual portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying. You can run any investment portfolio in their tool to see how much in fees you’re paying.

* Manage Your Money In One Place: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely check to see how your finances are shaping up as it’s free. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Retirement Planning Calculator

Updated on 7/15/2015

Photo: Balandra Bay, Mexico

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. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. Awakeinwa says

    I think it’s safe to we all grow up during our formative years in unique times and places.

    It’s apparent that you had the opportunity to work at GS as I did at MSFT. Of course, the latter did not bear such gracious financial fruit. And of course the butterfly effect of apt stock investments during the dot com bubble as well as IB’s annual bonuses that are several multiples of salary aren’t common events in most people’s careers.

    In tech, of course, the lotto effect takes hold as some eye pre-IPO companies. But I think it’s fair to observe that the vast majority of people need to take a different route to financial security and success.

    Because you had several unique circumstances that you maximized, it’s now possible to not invest aggressively, exiting investments when 10-12% gains are garnered.

    Whereas here and now, most people need advice on how to invest in a generalized way that will yield them superior returns with risk well contained that stands the test of time. That is not reliant on finding the next magic stock. Or a big bonus. And can weather through 30% peak to trough dives in the market.

    Otherwise this biography is a backward looking document that suggests hard work is uber important but also plain good luck, the latter of which is usually outside of one’s control

    • says

      Any thoughts during your career of joining a Google, Apple, eBay or other companies? Anybody smart enough to get a job at MSFT is able to get a job at such places no?

      I attribute a lion’s share of any financial success I’ve had to luck b/c I’m certainly not smart, and I have a work ethic that needs improvement.

      “One cannot downplay the importance of luck in building wealth. I have been fortunate to have two loving parents and a brain that works most of the time. If you’re born in America, please take full advantage of all your opportunities.”

      I’d love to hear your story and net worth progress. Thx

      • Awakeinwa says

        A few months ago, I alluded to this when I commented on your post of finance strategies that can bound risk by investing across contrarian large, small, mid-cap asset classes that would yield double digit returns while also tranching 1-2 years worth of emergency funds in bonds, dividend funds, and liquid cash. This is premised on fact that all markets will eventually reflect the real macroeconomy, and all that matters when said and done is focusing on core macroeconomics than watching CNBC gossip.
        Interesting enough, a bunch of finance PhDs got bored with regressing financial datasets and decided to take a stab at macroeconomic finance. And here’s their conclusion, as reported recently by the Financial Times: “Investors can massively outperform big global stock market indices simply by analysing publicly available economic data, according to academics in the UK and US.

        A strategy based on going long on an index when macroeconomic conditions are improving and shorting the market when conditions are deteriorating would have delivered an average annual return of 14 per cent between 1997 and 2011, the academics claim. In contrast, a static position in the same indices would have delivered returns of essentially zero, assuming the same level of risk.”

        Anyway, to answer the question at hand.

        I alluded to this in my posts a few months back, but early on in life, my goal was to have 40 million by 40. I figured riding the dot-com wave would accelerate that feat. What happened instead is my dad and grandmother got stricken with heart disease and surgery around the same time. My grandmother did not survive a 2nd angioplasty. And my dad had an extended bout with heart surgery and heart disease. My god grandmother died too, and within two years my god grandfather died of stomach cancer, a 6 foot man once now down to the bone suffering and seeking to be with his loved one that he took for granted in life.

        Thus my priorities changed. I would give up all the money at my disposal if I could have saved them one or all.

        So rather than going to another tech co., I stayed at Microsoft and spent much of my 20s learning many life lessons that all people learn sooner or later in life, dealing with mortality, death, and suffering. I’m 38 now. It’s circumspect for me to observe that many of my childhood friends now are just beginning to grapple with such issues. I did do the dot-come thing before Microsoft, made it during the 2nd half of eToys for example, but frankly one realizes fate dictates what first things is first.

        Fortunately we live in the USA and not Uganda, and the choices afforded to us are truly bountiful, at least for those of us whose parents sacrificed providing us a leg up at least with educational opportunities so we had at our disposal choices, ideas, and critical thinking and decision-making that would serve us well throughout our lives.

        My wife and I now have a 2.5 year old who at 10 days old had heart surgery and thus developmentally delayed. Because of our station in life, which I sacrificed given my experience during my 20s to give our son the best care possible, he was flown down to Stanford to have the world’s best pediatric heart surgeon repair his congential heart defect. Because we had prolonged stress for 2 years, I also developed liver problems that led to a botched biopsy resulting in 6 pints blood internally bled out which I almost died. That was 7 mos. after my son’s surgery 2.5 years ago. And just a month ago, I had a bad case of sepsis where I almost died again arising from a bad liver and immune system that simply could not handle the boatload of gram positive bacteria that encultured over the summer infecting both my calves.

        Now my biography has a lot less smoother arc then yours. Shit happens in real people’s lives. While the 20s took a lot out of me, I also had a Chinese grandmother who married to a army general called the shots instilling in me values and mettle that has served me well. We are worth 1MM today, and frankly without the opportunity cost of life, I would no doubt have landed 10MM by now. But I would not change a thing, to be there for my loved ones at their last moments on earth, to let them know they are loved and cared for. I would never exchange that for magnetic blips in the cloud that supposedly designate my net worth.

        Thus I would differ my thesis asserting it is your life experiences and knowledge that afford you the most choices, of which money is but one leverage point. My knowledge garnered in my twenties allowed me to negotiate with the insurance company and wrangle the birth hospital to shape superior care for my baby son fighting private healthcare’s byzantine bureaucracies stacked up against the patient. There are so many more cases where all the money at my disposal didn’t matter. It’s how you critically think, decide, and leverage power that matters.

        So when I read blogs such as these, it has a sense of surreal half-truths, a life fortunately lived, but also disconnected from the rest of humanity, those who were apparently too dumb to figure out how easy savings and accumulating wealth is. But having lived on the both sides of the Rubicon, I can safely say that unless you can cite other much harder life choices and difficulties you had to contend with, it’s quite easy for old timers like me to dismiss perhaps unfairly financial advice that applies to those whose parents and lives were teed up for success, and with an rather unobstructed life mixed hard work and stamina afforded to the young, and so was indeed able to reach a wider degree of financial freedom than most.

        But then there is also love found and lost, children and families, to plain old shitty initial conditions that get in the way for mere mortals that did not live in such a rarefied environment where frugal stout parents provided for and duly instilled the ingredients and laid the groundwork for your station in life today.

        Consider this – The Long-Term Effects Of Poverty Linger Even After People Become Wealthy

        In large part that is why I don’t read this blog regularly. It is monotone and insults those who had a different sort of life than you, and does not account for the real world. It’s like a radio station that never evolved from the 90s set to heavy metal or gangster rap telling the world how ____ they are for not having the dope bling by now.

        What goes around comes around.

        A mortal life with truly humbled perspective, that is well lived and learned is far more important.

        • says

          Good perspective. Sorry you aren’t going to hit your 40 million by 40, but $1 million at 38 ain’t bad. You should feel proud, not bitter.

          Your type of response is what I was expecting when writing this type of post, which is why I don’t write these type of revelation posts much at all compared to other sites. It makes me sad that you are insulted by me just telling you my story. I don’t feel insulted by your story, so perhaps there is something deeper in your life you need to attend to?

          Your life is reality and my life is not real, to you at least. But I can assure you that my life is real to me. If my blog makes you sad, definitely don’t read it. Perhaps read other blogs that are full of suffering and sadness. Perhaps you’ll feel happier reading a story about someone who is your age with a negative net worth. The great thing about this country is freedom. Cherish it forever!

        • mysticaltyger says

          I think your diminishing of financialsamurai’s post and accomplishments sounds awfully snarky. There are lots of other people in the world who had the same or even better advantages than he who did not make use of them.

        • Awakeinwa says

          If I’m snarky, it’s only because I find some of his posts equally annoying.

          Having overcome so much, I am quite a happy satisfied guy who now is enjoying life doing what he wants. But compared to real world life experiences, it’s apparent to me that this blog and its contents apply to a thin slice of people who lived in rarefied atmosphere making opportunistic plays that play out now maximizing for passive income and retirement.

          What snarked me was the disdain that it often shows for people not like him. How utterly incomprehensible that people even those who earn 45k a year can’t save to be millionaires. How Roth is an evil govt plan that should be avoided when it plainly defies finance basics – arithmetically and compoundingly so. With nary a counter response that, hey, you were lucky but most of life isn’t like you. That life doesn’t line up to spreadsheet columns and rows.

          In my case economically, through Fed and market’s thick and thin, our portfolio has yielded us 28%. I now have time to attend to a pretty important function of my family’s well-being, and with no regrets. That’s life for you. What I don’t have is an attendant disrespect for people less fortunate than me and in fact believe there are ways to save successfully despite poverty.

          So while FS does indeed treat his readers with respect and positive feedback focused on a segment that wants to “make it”, it is also quite evident he treats many others not like him, through the substance and content of his posts without much respect much less comprehension why they are not like him, and thus makes his advice limited to a slivered shrinking few who are not getting squeezed by globalization, shrinking wage raises, and able to a hold of paper profits without worry about life’s difficulties getting in the way.

          You’ve had good luck FS, and I don’t begrudge you for that. Call that karma. I do take issue to how you put down others as a means to deliver your message. You can do better in the future by simply recognizing your particular use case and the scenarios and variables involved sans value judgements and put downs on huge swaths of society you seem so disconnected from.

          Like I said, money is but a tool. Knowledge and wisdom are far more important. Snarky and snoody as that may sound.

          • Jules says

            Just wanted to leave a note for FS. While I like the overall message, I too find the tone to be off-putting. While you acknowledge luck several times throughout, reading between the lines it’s hard to believe that you actually attribute that first windfall to luck. You lost me at “Was I lucky? Hell yes! But, I did my research and was I willing to put my balls on the line to try and make some money.”

            You’ve made some good choices, and I’m happy to see any message advocating saving over spending, but it just doesn’t connect with me.

        • Shack says

          As an objective observer, it looks like jealousy has taken hold of you. Just have a read of your two comments. First you try to discredit someone’s else’s story, then you say how wonderful your life is and how great your portfolio performance. This is clearly a reflection of your unhappiness, since happy, content people don’t lash out the way you do. Until you can come to grips with your own issues, you will always consider yourself an underachieve and angry.

          I don’t see Sam trying to put anybody else down with this post. His posts are very insightful and make people think.

          Read this post. So relevant to the situation now:

        • K says

          I’m confused, Awakeinwa. First, let me say that I’m sorry to hear about all of the death and health issues you experienced. You’ve been through a lot. And it’s amazing that you have persevered and saved any money at all. But I don’t see why you find Sam’s posts/story “insulting” because he writes about HIS experience and HIS perspective (not the rest of the world’s) and you feel that he didn’t face as much adversity as you (or the rest of the world)????

          He’s a writer. He’s SUPPOSED to write about his own experiences and his own perspectives. If not, he wouldn’t be unique, or truly engaging for that matter. If he didn’t, he would just be the 5:00 news.

          I can’t speak for everyone else, but the reason why I come here is because I find Sam’s posts inspiring and, sometimes, the kick in my arse that I NEED.

          Yes, he’s has some advantages that I didn’t have, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from him. He had great parents that instilled good values in him and he attributes a good chunk of his success to that. Did you have a parents who loved you and didn’t abuse or neglect you or teach you self-destructive things? Again, sorry to hear about the death’s in your family in your 20’s, no one would argue that that was tough. I hope you learned ways to cope and have moved past it. But I also hope you at least had a good childhood pre-20’s… because I didn’t. It’s not a competition about who had a harder life, but I can tell you that I had an abusive, crazy, drug addicted mother. Crazy literally, like…brain damaged. I don’t need to tell you how bad it was, but just imagine you and would probably be right. I was also in a lower-middle class household and they were hoarders! My father was a wonderful man but too passive and too in love with her to do something about her for his kids. He thought she was “sick” and needed our help. I was a child. I didn’t learn what other people learned from their parents. You know, like how to have healthy relationships, have a sense of humor, how to deal with emotions, how to react normally to situations, how to handle money, how to study, how to apply to college, or how to be… successful. I survived. I learned from friends. You know to this day, at damn near 30, I have a hard time understanding or sensing sarcasm? Or not dealing with all emotions with survivalist anger? Or to cry? I had to fight to learn how to be “normal” from other people, mostly in my teenage years, and how to be successful in adulthood by seeking mentors . Everyday I have to override what I learned in my critical years of 4-13 years old. I don’t find people who had advantages that I didn’t have, or people who couldn’t even imagine what I went through, insulting. I find them inspiring. I see them as mentors. I see their behaviors and thoughts as the good kind that can help me unlearn the bad ones and learn the ones that can help me lead a happy, healthy, successful life, for me and my family. I also love to come across people like that because I want my children to be that way too, never having to experience what I did, and to have the happy, healthy, strong, productive thoughts that would allow them to be successful in life as if that is always the way it should have been. Some people would call people who haven’t suffered “naive”, some people would call them lucky. Hey, whatever it is, that’s what I want for my kids. And when I meet people like that, like Sam for example, it reminds me that it’s possible, that there ARE people out there that didn’t suffer like I did, and I can help my kids be like them and have a life like that too, if I stick to being a good parent.

          And as I’ve said elsewhere (despite my hardships), I did go to some good colleges and I’m at pretty good income level at 28 (though could be better)!

          I don’t know Sam, I’m just some random commenter and casual reader, and just from the few minutes I spend on this every few days in the past few months, I’ve already changed my career trajectory (Sam, the promotion is finally coming!!!! My boss flew out the main office and it’s all he talked about out there and then there was this company-wide meeting conference in which all of my accomplishments/contributions were noted and now they are in talks about creating my position!).

          So Sam, please keep doing what you are doing. You’re obviously on the right path and your readers appreciate what you’ve been doing. I know I do.

        • says

          Your post reminds me that the human condition frequently makes us all mysteries to one another. I’ve never responded to anything on this site in the way that you have in your comments. I think the advice on FS is timeless and wise, no matter what life throws your way: be frugal and save, make wise choices, work hard, invest, take risks when you can, etc. I could go on and on. Some stuff here fits my circumstances better than other stuff, but it all is earnest and interesting.

          And I’ve had plenty of life experiences. None of us have a corner on wisdom and Sam is sharing plenty here on an ongoing basis.

        • Fugee says

          “Fortunately we live in the USA and not Uganda, and the choices afforded to us are truly bountiful, at least for those of us whose parents sacrificed providing us a leg up at least with educational opportunities so we had at our disposal choices, ideas, and critical thinking and decision-making that would serve us well throughout our lives.”

          As a Ugandan living in Uganda, I’m thinking…what now? Migrate to the states? Make the most of what I have? I have no clear answer. But one day, when I turn 40, I will have a story on how I made my first million (USD that is, I’ve made my first million shillings already and it’s nothing to write home about!)

  2. whoanelly says

    By and large I agree with what you are saying. But Sam also patiently kept his lifestyle in check while he made big gains which is neither hard work nor plain luck.

    • says

      I’m going to write a follow up post on whether people find it easier to keep a lower key lifestyle when making a lot of money or an average amount of money. I’ll talk about temptation.

  3. says

    Damn this post is motivation. I’m 29 with a 516k net worth. Granted we have a few differences.. I have a wife, kid, didn’t focus until 2 years ago. However, that’s no excuse.. I should have focused a bit more to push for the higher net worth by 30. Hmm.. what was your net worth at 40 sam? Maybe I can catch you by then.

  4. Brendan says

    @Real Person

    I’m 27 and have a net worth of about 5k, in a low paying job where I struggle to save more than 10% after tax as much as I try. But I don’t see why 90% of the population are not catered for. There are lessons here for everyone. You may disagree with a lot of it, but if there are even one or two things you can pick out that may help you, isn’t that better than nothing?

    • mysticaltyger says

      I agree with you, Brendan. People love to pick apart these kinds of posts because they don’t apply 100% to their own lives. That’s what cop outs do. They look for excuses or reasons why they can’t do the same thing. I mean, OF COURSE someone else’s life experience isn’t going to apply 100% to your own. Duh. Take the parts that work for you and discard that parts that don’t. The common threads seem to be the same: 1. Prioritize saving. 2. Work both hard AND smart. 3. Earn at least an average income, and preferably better than average.

      Heck, I probably won’t hit $1M until I’m 55, but so what? I like reading posts like this and hearing other people’s experiences.

      • says

        Thanks MysticalTyger. Stories are personal and will never be one size fits all. In a large way I’m relieved to write this post so I never have to write it again.

        And it’s really the journey that’s most rewarding, not the end result. The feeling of accomplishment is fleeting.

  5. bud fox says


    I’ve read your blogs for some time, in particular the one which you try and give some guidance to where the “above average” worker should be re NW by certain ages (

    I couldn’t identify more with you. I too came into the workforce with no money, but came from a loving family, and using my brain, and discipline, and hard work reached roughly $1.3MM by age 36. I too had a run in with the law in my 20’s, and it made me even more thankful to be focused on building NW vs Building a playboy reputation.

    I enjoyed watching my friends go out all the time and complain about not having any money and getting into trouble, while I spent my free time at the office, or bettering myself with Language, MBA, and additional work training all paid for by my employer.

    Now i’m married, and have 2 young children and i’m 38, and wondering if i’m too old to finally quit being a W2 worker, and go out on my own. I fear the energy i once had has been magically transferred from me to my kids and i’m more conservative and tired now than i ever was.

    Knowing what you know now about yourself, would you say you’d be equally proud of yourself if you were still gainfully employed and never went out on your own? I’m afraid i’m going to end up not realizing that dream and will be relegated to realizing a good NW, but not a potentially great NW. Any thoughts?

    Keep up the great Blog! I think you’re changing lives.


    • says

      Hi Bud, great job getting to $1.3m!

      I’m not sure if you are ever too old to go out on your own if you’ve got a great idea. I would incubate and launch the idea for at least a year while you’ve got your W2 income. I did it for three years (the last year was where I really focused) b/c I was too afraid. But, I’m glad I did in the end.

      My energy is absolutely fading, and I felt if I don’t do it now before kids and before 40, I don’t think I’d ever do it.

      I think if I was still working, I would ALWAYS be wondering what if. Now that I know, I have no regrets… but if I had failed at achieving my income goals… maybe it would be another story. But at least I would also put to rest my desire to be an entrepreneur.

      Best to you!


  6. Jon says

    This site is great. I really want your input on my situation. I am 26 right now and have $33K in my 401k in a basic mutual fund and the other half I am attempting swing trading. My personal savings account is at $46,300. I am looking for another used car since my jeep died and probably going to spend $7000, exactly the rule for my income $75K with my bonus. I had diverted more of money to my savings account so I can buy a small business in the future (age 30 is the target date). I just paid off all of my undergraduate debt.

    I am currently going for my MBA part time paid for by my employer. I refuse to pay any expenses out of pocket for tuition even if it means taking 4 years to complete. Question is, how do you think I am positioned right now? I did graduate in 09 when the economy bombed completely. I am trying to look at additional ways to grow my savings. I as considering leaving the bulk of my savings, the core $40,000 in low interest secure investments like CDs. I was then going to place any additional dollars saved in Jan into aggressive investments like stocks. think that makes sense?

    I really want to take advantage of the next 3 – 4 before I am in my early 30s so I can grow a nice capital cushion. I am not as far ahead as you are when you were my age.

    • says

      Hi Jon,

      I think you are on a fantastic track to financial freedom.

      If I was in your shoes I would do all the research I could on investments other than savings and CDs at this point in time. $40,000 in absolute savings is a lot, and it is also a large part of your net worth. If the stock market pulls back do to an exogenous variable like a Syrian raid by the US, is start mobilizing those funds.

      Good luck!

  7. says

    At age 27 my net worth is around 30k. I decided to pursue acting as a career so my income is extremely variable and limited. The fact that I’m not in debt and have as much to my name as I do makes me proud. But reading stories like yours motivates me to work harder and find new and innovative ways to save, invest, and grow.

  8. Jon says

    I’m catching up on reading comments again and wanted to note something that may be obvious, but your humble style de-emphasized it. Your building a 7 figure net worth in your 20’s, with just about 6 years working is astounding. My guess is that only 1 in a 1000 do this. Good work, and I do mean WORK.

  9. Robert says

    I absolutely love this article! I am 27 and is constantly talking to my wife about a break through. Yep, did the whole college thing…. Graduated, and started working…. I’ve two 401k’s and the one from my previous job is in a Roth 401k aggressive portfolio. Still trying to figure out if I want to move it…… I don’t know much about the stock market, as IT is my get up. I do have a little PC business working out of home and it does bring in some income, just getting the business is the biggest thing.

    Reading your articles just motivates me even more! Work hard now, play hard later.

    My 2 cents.

  10. says


    Very impressive. I actually didn’t start my wealth building until I was in my early 30s. If you have a chance in future posts it would be great to get a sense of what your thoughts might be on what strategies are most effective for building wealth.



  11. Charles says


    I have a question. I am a young person and I am inspired by your path to becoming a millionaire. My question is, when choosing an education, would you say that business school is the clear cut/obvious choice for someone who wants to amass wealth? What if I liked science? Or tech? Or engineering? Is the smartest play to study finance, economics, etc instead?


    • says

      Hi Charles,

      Good on you for researching your options early on. The median starting total salary for the top 10 business school 29 years old graduates is around $120,000-$140,000 as of 2013. So yes, an MbA from a too school significantly increases your chances.

      I would major/minor in computer science, Econ, finance, and take communications classes. Wonderful communicators in speech and writing go much farther IMO. Do well in school to at least give yourself a chance at more opportunities!

      Good luck!


  12. Now64 says

    I have read this with interest as someone who took some of the steps you mentioned at 33. Got an MBA, moved to another country (“halfway across the world”) and am now working on establishing our fourth business at age 64, and loving it.

    With real estate we are at just under 2M and are feeling quite confident about the next few years. The type of business we have is almost 100% Internet-based with low overhead. Will be fun to see how far we can go with it.

    The wife and I have done this together, and I cannot over-emphasize the importance of that. It’s definitely not always been easy but without a life partner it would seem rather pointless.

    Oh, and our car was 16 years old when we got clobbered from the rear last year. Now have a still frugal car, but can appreciate the difference with a slight move up.

    Main point is that you SHOULD take risks early and give it your best. Get well set, then take more risks later while leaving yourself some breathing room.

    I also plot everything on an Excel sheet and feel that this is the only informative way to understand what is happening to you, as you describe in your own shorthand what is going on… I am guessing running commentaries that make you pause and think are not possible with some of these other financial life-planning programs.

    Above all … Think, then do! You have but one life.

  13. Jeremy says

    Outstanding article! Hard work and perseverance pay off in the long run. I especially like your advice to remain humble and be seen as the underdog, while also building alliances and seeking out a mentor at work. I’m an active duty Army officer with 17 years of service and keep telling my Soldiers (from private on up) that they can retire as millionaires if they make their savings automatic and live below their means. I made a lot of financial mistakes-buying a brand new Corvette in 2000 and short selling a house in California being the biggest-but consistently saved and invested and got ride of debt. I’m well on my way to the million dollar mark and will hit it by 45 with the plan I have in place. My personal financial education was through experience, but I wish I had had resources like this blog when I was in my teens. All our kids should learn from sites like yours. Keep up the good work!

  14. Frank @ WallStCollege says

    Wow. Incredible story, really inspirational to everyone out there. If I may ask, what was the position you worked for at your firm, was it related to investing?

    I think the problem with most people out there is that they live the moment entirely. The key to success is to focus on your long-term goals and do at least a little everyday to get there. One quote that I love to focus on, “If you did what you did today for the next 15 years, where would you be”.

  15. Andy says

    whoofff Almost read all the comments.
    I love reading and talking about money!

    I just turned 26 couple months ago. My wife and I started a business ( cellphone stores) 4 going to 5 years ago. Its hard to tell our net worth, 2013 was good but also the worse in comparison. Early 2013 we open one store selling different vendors which we ended up closing since we knew it wasn’t going to cut it. We lost money to the landlord in order to break contract plus also all the money that we put in it. Fast forward to nov, 2013 sign a contract for a new store which was supposed to be open by December. (We ended opening 2 days ago) long store short this store we put laminated floors 3 days after it got water damage and we had to stop and re do everything again.. on Dec 27 my oldest store got robbed and set on fire ( yes everything was lost ) now fighting the insurance. we were planning to open another store by December which will take place actually mid feb or march.
    Anyways, we have over 100k in merchandise. Home is half paid which It has around $150k equity ( we shall pay it off in 2 or 3 years) we have a bit over 100k cash. I am calculating that we are making around 250k a year, if the two new stores produce then it will get us to 350k ( and we probably re open or relocate the store that was burned) that may at least be safe to say we will make $350k.. while this year I want to buy two rental properties and then 2 or 3 extra every year. I think we could manage to reach 1MM by age 30. Ifthings go as planned possibly even more ( because we were suppose to have 6 stores by 2014) I hope by 2018 we have 15 or more stores which in that case 1MM should be a problem and the addition of rental properties and other investments that may arise.
    Btw, four years ago we started with $20K and we open a second store after 8 months but we were in debt from the start until we paid it off completely almost two years after first opening. Pretty much all the money that we have now we made it in the last 2 years.

  16. Cat says

    Two things you significantly underestimate in your post:
    Structural factors that can make or break you:

    1) Your white and male(I’m guessing ). As a women of color – it would have been so much harder to rise in a company – older mentors who are white and male would never have promoted you to VP. There is plenty of evidence of this statistically – it is much harder as a minority and as a women to rise.

    2) You are also a Gen Xer which has a much better job market when you graduated and is a smaller generation compared to Gen Y so there are more jobs and less competition for those jobs.

    • says

      Hi Cat – You’re right, I’m just lucky.

      But I’m not a white male. Can’t argue with being born in the late 70s.

      But do you think younger people have more energy than older people? And do you not agree that it’s easier to take more risk when you have more time and less to lose?

      We can focus on race and age to defeat us and discredit people. But how about we focus on my thesis?

  17. Erik says

    Hi Sam. You say “Net Worth After Taxes”….whats the easiest way to compute that? I have all my accounts in Personal Capital but that shows before tax (with the exception of my Roth)…am I wrong?

    Are you including all your assets in your calculation (including real estate, jewelry, etc ) or just cash and securities?

    Im 43 and my net worth is a little over a million including my primary residence. I usually feel better than most but not when I read your blog!

  18. S says

    The best lesson is the same lesson your grandparents would tell you. Start saving early and live below your means. The only difference is that you should put that message on steroids. Do that for as long as possible. I thought I was saving/investing a lot when I was in my early 20’s and living like a spendthrift. Compared to most of my peers, I was. But the peers I’d rather have are FS and others on this site. Unfortunately, I know now I could have done more. Now that I’m in my late 30’s, I feel like I am behind. Of course, to many I am way ahead. But again, comparing myself to F/S and others on this site I have a ways to go.

    • says

      I agree with your message.

      The thing is, there is always someone even further ahead, so it’s a never ending battle if you let it become a battle.

      We only need so much to be happy. There are just some mind boggling stories out there like the Whatsapp sale for $16 billion!

  19. says

    Hey Sam,

    This is the second time I read this article now. It’s the best one I’ve read on Financial Samurai.

    It’s very inspiring what you’ve done and I love the long-term thinking. Real estate is interesting, you seem to have done a great job there. By the way, did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger made his first million(s) from real estate? This was before he got famous as an actor.

  20. matt says

    just get into a once in a lifetime stock market bubble, hopefully you will be 22 when it happens, and throw everything at one trade…..what a joke!

    the fact it took you 5 more years from 160,000 to get to a million is a little embarrassing, especially when one considers an extremely well paying job and a supposed stock market genius.. this is worthless to most everyone who reads it.

    • says

      I am embarrassed for my failures, but I will continue to try hard and improve every day. Care to share your story? I’m always curious to know and learn from people who’ve done a better job at creating their fortune. Thanks.

    • Tina says

      Yes, please do share your story Matt. I don’t think I’m alone to think that it’s amazing to save a million dollars in one’s 20’s. By looking at the numbers, FS is fairly aggressive in his savings. I don’t know anyone else who saves over 30% of their income, let alone 60%. I wish I read these kinds of inspiring stories when I was in high school and perhaps I would be closer to being a millionaire by now. I feel behind like some of FS’s readers here, but I’m still working hard to save. Actually, I come to this site reading this story because there’s a blazer on sale that I really want to have but know I don’t need, so this story keeps me running back to the store :-). Thanks Sam for curbing my spending.

  21. Pawan says

    Hi Sam,

    What are your thoughts on a FT MBA? Is it still worth it to get it from a top 10 MBA school? I am 26 and applying for next year. I plan on paying it off with my own money which is a significant investment and would cut my savings thoroughly.

  22. Pawan says

    But if it is a full time MBA then you are in debt of about 150k for 2 yrs and on top you are forgoing your income. Say if you make 100k a year then that leads to a total of 350k opportunity cost. How would that be worth it though? Wouldn’t it be better to do a part time MBA while still having an income?

    • says

      I did part time and 80% was paid for. I was doing what I wanted to do hence the PT.

      Many graduates to on to make $500,000+ a year from top schools several years out. So the opportunity cost isn’t that bad, especially if you plan to work for at least a decade after.

  23. Jamal says

    Hi Mr. Sam I’m 25 years old no college degree, low income, roughly 20,000 a year and I wanna strive for wealth and success but really dumb to the building a business, investment, or finance part of life but I want to learn and prosper long term but am clueless on how to due so is there any way possible besides slaving a dead end job the rest of my life to obtain these goals I would really appreciate the advice any advice is an asset to me thanks in advance

  24. LonghornsRock512 says

    Discovered your site about 4 days ago and have been reading every day since– definitely enjoy the material. The thing I can’t understand though, is that the average person doesn’t have a 6-figure job at GS out of college, and wasn’t able to turn $3,000 into $155,000 in 6 months from a lucky stock pick. So its a little disingenuous to claim that anyone can do what you’ve done.

    I have been fortunate in my life to have had my college paid for without any student loans, and help from my father for a down payment for my first home. I am 29 years old, with about a $310,000 net worth – but don’t see how I will get to $1 million anytime soon. My original goal at 18 was millionaire by 30—but obviously, short of winning the lottery, that won’t be happening in the next 5 months. I contribute 6% to my 401k (no company match), 4% to an employee stock purchase plan, and save 20-25% of my net-paycheck each month.

    My annual income in 2014 will be close to $95,000, which is about 2 1/2 times higher than it was from 2006 (graduated college) to 2013 — I am saving as much money as possible and hope to increase my savings rate and purchase another home as an investment property in 2015. I have 2 outside investments, in private partnerships. Both are yielding 16-18% annualized on $100,000 total investment. I plan on rolling the principle and interest from both of these into similar high-risk / private partnership investments when they mature / pay out.

    Do you have any particular advice to accelerate the process for me?

    Thanks, and keep the great content coming.

    • says

      Welcome to my site!

      Not everybody will become a millionaire by 30, but it is certainly possible and I am nobody special. I had parents who worked middle class jobs for the government, went to a public school, worked hard and got lucky by getting on the 6am bus to DC for a recruiting fair that was empty bc nobody else wanted to wake up that early.

      You have won the lottery with your dad helping out for a downpayment. Check out:

      There’s a good chance you might not have to do anything more than what you are doing right now due to a generational wealth transfer.

      To accelerate, build more income streams.

      Good luck!

  25. Lee Bailey says

    Better story that is probably more reproducible. My neighbor was born with a 20 million trust fund. How to get to age 0 1 day with 20 million, be born to rich parents.

  26. Ted says

    Congratulation on your success. Your article is motivating. I would disagree with one point you made about someone with no woman or a man as a sign of failure. People get in and out of relationships, so a lot of whether someone is single or not is just timing.

  27. Louis says

    Hi. Thanks for this article ! It is motivating to know about your success.
    I’m a 24yr old engineer making roughly 100K/yr. I’m striving to be a multi-millionaire by age 30 by working really hard(~70hrs/wk) and looking to make huge investments with my income. I’m single, live a very simple below average lifestyle and have unquenching thirst for success.

    I’d appreciate any suggestions as to how I can properly invest to hit my goal.
    Thank you.

  28. says

    I’m always walking around thinking “millionaire by 30″. Of course now that 30 is closer than ever, I’m thinking I might have to bump it up to 32 or 33. I definitely live by the “I have nothing to lose” philosophy. The ability to be selfish with my money and life choices without dependents or anything else to consider helps A LOT.

  29. Chevaun says

    I just graduated from high school and went right into college. I am pursuing a BSc in Information Technology. I would love to hear your take on this, Did I do the right thing or I should’ave taken A 1 year break.

  30. says

    Love the story, wouldn’t be able to become a millionaire myself by 30 as I’ve already went past that age but hopefully in the near future. Your story is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Amar says

    It’s a great read and I learnt quite a few things from here. I’m currently a mechanical engineering senior and have not much knowledge in stock trading and economics except what I read online and a few economic courses I’ve taken in college. I want to learn more about it but is there any other way that I could make my 1st million before my 30s? When I was 17, I was thinking of trying ForEx but the risk was too large and the profit was too little.
    And let’s say I get lucky just like you and raise up about $150,000 but how shall I invest that? I know it varies case by case but there has to be a general idea.
    And for the last question, I’m sure there were many distractions (like social life, family or those moments when you’re just sad and lonely) when you were out of college and trying to make things work. How did you stay focused ?

  32. anonymous says

    I’m 22, and I’ve invested 50% of my salary on stocks. After playing the market for 1 month and getting a $4,000+ gain I got hooked. I’ve invested about 25k in the market in some VERY lucrative penny stocks. However, my ownership percentage in the company has increased – and I strongly feel it will be very profitable next year. What I will do when I make my first 100,000-1,000,000? Probably invest portions into gold, dividend stock, and start a business.

    I’ve been scrutinized by colleagues & family for my insane investing habits, not having enough money to go out & party, but again – scared money makes no money & those who dare to fail greatly, dare to achieve greatly.

    My advice to anyone is; work hard, learn a variety of skills that can make you more marketable in your career, act like a professional, study stocks inside & out – don’t follow anyone elses DD do your own research, and most importantly – act like money doesn’t exist and continue to save & invest.

  33. Bruizerblue says

    While there are a plethura of millionaires these days at age 28, there are a lot of things that don’t make sense in this path. First, what degree or connections did you have to get into a Goldman Sachs job at age 22? Second assuming you actually had 4,000 after college and investing 3,000 and turning it to 120K AFTER taxes in a few months? That’s something like an 8000% return on your money? Third, you saved an additional 40K your first year at a job in NYC as a 22 year old? Fourth, apparently a job that was double the money was offered two years in? What were the annual salaries and in 2001? On your salary in one year you saved an additional 140,000 after taxes in San Fran? Then you did a “silly” thing and bought an $78,000 dollar car at age 26. I remember buying my second car at age 28 for $21,000 and sweating over it. But now you’re the VP of Goldman Sachs so I guess at the end it makes sense. If this story is true, I don’t think it is applicable to 98% of people, because your salary must’ve been in the top 2% nearly off the bat. Again, not hating but I look at things realistically and I’m seeing a lot of top 1% patterns. No matter how much I save, I can’t save more than $35K every year and thats with a 75K job.

    • says

      It’s definitely OK to hate, so not to worry. Just use hate to motivate you to do something more for yourself. I just shared my story. There are plenty of others.

      I went to public school and my parents worked in the State Department. They were squarely middle class and we lived in a $240,000 town home in Virginia.

      I was totally lucky with my stock pick of VCSY. It was crazy in 2000. And I guess I was lucky to transfer those after taxes earnings into a Downpayment on a 2/2 condo in SF in 2003.

      I don’t think I was lucky in getting in at 5:30am, working hard to produce revenue, and aggressively save 50-75%+ of my after tax income every year for 13 years. That was a conscience choice.

      I think it is a mix of luck and resolution that I’ve been able to grow this sight organically and replicate my income while I was in banking.

      Can you share your story so I can better understand where you are coming from? Thanks

  34. says

    You’re so right about millionaires being so low profile. I never underestimate the person sitting next to me. Rich people come in all shapes and sizes and hopefully soon enough I’ll be the one flying under the radar.

  35. James says

    Is turning $4000 into $160,000 that regular? This sounds astoundingly far fetched. Obviously there was risk involved but getting back x40 what you put in is just mind blowing.

  36. Paperboy33 says

    Just stumbled upon the site and was intrigued. I was shocked and intrigued by the No BS facts on savings. I’ve read other financial pieces and the general recommendation is, pay off your college debt, pay off CC debt, max out 401k and if you have money left over contribute to a Roth IRA. Ive done all those things since graduating and not sure what to do next. I always thought I was doing well but this site reminds me that I could be doing better.

    I’m 33 currently make $95k/year and havent calculated my net worth. I have my 401k via my employer maxed out. I started working at Age 26. Late graduate but graduated with no 10k debt which i payed off pretty quickly afterwards. Current 401k value is ~$275k. its done well even with my limited number of contributing years. Ive also maxed for the last 6 years. I was two years late on making contributions once i started working. Its worth ~$50k. I bought my first home in 2010. Its a two family owner occupied unit. I refied into a 15 year loan 3 years ago. I paid $229k for the property, -$10k tax credit = $-219k. Currently house is valued at $239k but would probably sell for $249-$259 fairly easy.I owe ~$168k on it. My monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance is $2100/month. I collect $1k in rent each month.

    I have $45k in a ally bank account earning 0.8%. I have $25k in a checking account not doing much. Over the last 3 years ive invested ~40k in the stock market with about half my holdings in high risk stocks. Im down 50% on the high risk portion and about 5% on the conservative portion. I’ve been net positive in the last year but slipped negative again when my high risk stock tanked. I anticipate a rebound there and riding it for now. I basically said F it with that chunk of cash.

    I could probably save more but dont track it. My checking account moves up each month. ~25k/year. which is about ~35% of post tax income.

    Based on that what would you recommend my next moves be? Ive been considering more rental property that potentially needs work because Ive become pretty handy over the years, Kitchen/Bath renos, hardwood floors etc… I’d like to wait though because im considering switching jobs and moving. I currently live in CT and the tax climate/cost of living is not a bargain. Other ideas were opening fast food healthy eats place next to my local gym. I think it would do well. Must be 500-1000 people at least foot traffic at gym each day.

    Besides that i just continue to save and max out my retirement accounts with conservative smart investment choices. What else should I be doing? What can I do better? I’d like to keep the $45k as my rainy day/down payment on next house. Ill be moving either locally or somewhere else into a single family home within the next year.

  37. Kipkemboi says

    Woah!!! SAM…..this is a great stuff and very timely to me. I am now 20 and on my second year in college in kenya. in the last six months i made a resolution to be NW $1.0 M by 25. i first thought it is an impossible affair but after reading your post i can see it working. For the period of six months i have been able to make $3600 from doing online jobs besides balancing with my studies in school. i thank God to be having inspirational and supportive parents just as u said u had in your post.
    JUST as u said it takes a lot of sacrifice to arrive at a million, am sure i will embrace all that u did…i trade shares at the stock and offer financial services such as soft loans at higher interest rates with the bucks i have made so far.The post was an eye opener a real evidence that it will work out.
    thanks for your services
    kindly more advices

  38. Jordan says

    Just came across this blog and thought this is a great read. I don’t know anyone personally who’s able to amass such wealth at such a young age. I’m 29 and was working in corporate finance at a top tech company until I decided to take a break from the rat race to do a round the world trip. I’m close to $400k in net worth. My wealth allocation is about 50% rental real estate and 50% stock bond index and p2p lending

    Just wanted to add a little comic that relates to the previous comments and discussions in this thread. It’s a great simple way of summarizing life and opportunity. Most of the population can relate more to the person on the right. The lucky few born into privilege is on the left.

    Although its true we make our own destiny. I definitely think this article is more geared towards the person on the left of the comic :) but of course nothing is impossible even if you didn’t come from a middle class family.

    Just to share my own background I’m more of the person on the right and quite proud of my accomplishments and hope to get to the same level as Sam one day.


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