The Journeyman’s Goal To Financial Independence By 45

After 10 years in corporate America, I thought I had it made. A six figure job, a real estate portfolio, company stock, and a savings/emergency fund that would last me 3 years if I ever became unemployed.

I did everything the personal finance books taught us to do and I still lost 35% of my net worth in 2008-2009 due to the economic meltdown.  The financial downturn has motivated me to share my experiences to not only help others, but to keep myself honest in my spending habits.


My first job ever was at McDonald’s for $3.12/cents an hour. I was responsible for opening up the store at 6am every weekend for several months. The job was horrible, and we had a power hungry manager who scolded us for speaking Spanish and not English in front of customers.

At least I got a “B” in Spanish. I remember trying to make 9 Egg McMuffins at a time for 3 straight hours, adeptly cracking eggs left and right with both hands. It was hot, and oh the pressure was immense. Things weren’t all bad though. After-all, we could eat as many hot apple pies we wanted.

My parents never bought me anything too expensive growing up. They were frugal and made an average middle income salary working for the government. I never had a camera or a Nintendo console, but I did enjoy playing tennis with my father and listening to my mother talk about religion.

The most expensive gift I ever got was a 1987 Honda Civic with 140,000 miles for $1,800 bucks after doing well in HS. I’m truly thankful for this gift as I drove it until I graduated college.

Related: The Three Jobs That Made Me Rich

COLLEGE – Public All The Way

I had a choice between private school or public school for college, and I chose public school. There was no way I could feel comfortable allowing my parents to pay $25,000 a year in tuition alone, when there were plenty of top quality public schools for only $5,000 a year.

Besides, I planned to payback my parents and couldn’t stomach that type of debt. The $30 a day I made at McDonald’s had a more profound impact on me than I realized!

Related: Should I Go To Public or Private School? Depends On Your Guilt


My father introduced me to the stock market in college. Through stocks, suddenly I could make much more money than through working at the library at now $4.5 an hour. Little did I know, that I could lose an infinite amount more money though! The taste of success came when I bought 500 shares of Books A Million (BAM, a now defunct Book Seller). The stock went up 25%, and I made $550 in 1 hour. From that trade on, I knew I wanted to do something in finance, where anybody with enough guts could make as much money as they wanted.

Related: Why Real Estate Will Always Be More Attractive Than Stocks


When I first entered the work force out of college, things were explosively recovering from the 1997 Asian & Russian financial crisis. I got lucky and purchased a particular internet stock (VCSY) for $3,000. It shot up to $150,000 in three months and I sold, not at the peak of $180,000, but close enough.

Flush with cash in my early 20’s, I went kind of nuts, buying a motorcycle and a very fancy car. I’d eat at the fanciest restaurants in NYC and went on lavish vacations. When I changed jobs for a better opportunity, I finally woke up to the realization that I was just flushing my good fortune down the drain. I started to get serious about my finances. In early 2003, I sold my $80,000 car and used the proceeds along with the rest of the money left to buy my first 2/2 condo in a prime location in a big city. It is now renting out for positive net income, and I plan to pay it off within 8 years.

Despite this initial taste of success, I’ve made so many personal finance blunders in my 20’s, it wouldn’t be right not to share with you the errors in hopes you don’t do the same. Hopefully, through Financial Samurai, we will never have to say “if I knew then what I know now” as it relates to personal finance again.

Related: Your Wealth Is Mostly Luck! Stop Being So Pompous


Retiring at 45 is a “see if I can do it goal.” I actually really enjoy my job, but I think I’ll enjoy it more if I didn’t need to work! What’s the fun and challenge of choosing to retire at 80?  I might be dead by then!  Like studying for an exam, people tend to cram the week before. I want to cram now.  Essentially, I believe that if you can work for 20 years in your profession, you will have the power to retire if you want to.

One of my main motivations for writing is to interact with readers, so please feel free to comment!  I hope we can all grow rich together over these next 10 years!  Welcome to the journey!

Update 2020: I started Financial Samurai in 2009 and ended up retiring in 2012 at age 34, whoo hoo! I stayed retired and traveled around the world with my wife, played tennis, and wrote on Financial Samurai until 2017. Then, we had our first son! And in 2019, we had our first daughter.

We are now stay at home parents. However, kids are expensive and I'm thinking about going back to work to bolster our finances. We shall see! It's been a great 10+ year run on Financial Samurai. I'm so thankful to have started when I did.

Related: My Financial Independence Masterplan: FIRE By 45

Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”



I’m in my mid-40’s and have reached financial independence through a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck.  My net worth is in the multiple seven figures, and my primary residence is paid off.  With no debt, I still don’t live extravagantly, but I am living carefree.  All expenses are paid for entirely by my interest income from my cash savings.

Unlike many personal finance sites who have young writers with little financial experience, I’ve already made my money, and am happy to share my knowledge and opinions with you.  My belief is that you would rather take personal finance advice from someone who’s been there and amassed a good nut, than from a 25 year old kid in debt, making less than you!

Ideally, you already know the basics of personal finance, such as: 1) spend less than you make, and 2) pay yourself first.  I seek to discuss other topics, such whole life insurance, derivatives, and seeking tax efficient strategies.

Financial Samurai is a site where I will freely write about money’s great mysteries.  My posts will be straight from the gut and unbiased.  My passions lie in real estate, the stock market, and private equity investments.  I believe you must think big, to win big.  Risk taking is necessary, and is the only way to really achieve financial success early or ever!

Why “Financial Samurai?”

A Samurai is a noble, disciplined warrior who serves their citizens and fights with honor.  The world of finance is full of traps, taking tremendous skill and discipline to artfully navigate through the dangers.  Temptations are everywhere, and we will seek to slay them one by one.  Every now and again, we will be tempted to cheat the system like so many white collar criminals have done in the past.  Bernie Madoff and Ted Kozlowski have no sympathy from me.  They, along with all their co-conspirators should rot in jail, and then proceed to rot in hell.  As a financial samurai, you will never dishonor the system, and will righteously fight towards financial freedom!

I’ve known FS for several years, and we have decided to combine resources and share various opinions.  We are a lot alike, I’m just older.  As a team, we can reach out to a wider audience, especially those who have gravitated beyond the personal finance basics.  I hope you will find Financial Samurai to be fun, informative, and real.  We aren’t rich because of this blog and pretend to be less financially secure so we can better relate to readers.  We’re rich because we’re disciplined and understand basic necessities for financial freedom.

The secrets to wealth are quite simple:

* Spend Less Than You Earn

* Don’t be a weak spending fool on things you don’t need

* Come in first, leave last and work your hardest.

* Take calculated risks and press when the opportunity is right.

* Never invest in anything you don’t understand.

* Give freely, and give often.

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Sensei @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

3 thoughts on “About”

  1. Lets bring this comment section into 2016! Thanks for the great blog Sam, I think with some of my free time this summer I’m going to try and read every single post on this site!

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Thnx for your message. I agree with what you are saying. There's the monetary aspect of rich, as well as the spiritual aspect. I'm happiest when I'm doing something when I don't need to do it i.e. going to grad school was great part-time b/c I had a job and didn't have to worry about grades.

    On these lines, I'd like to be able to work while not feeling the need to work, if that makes sense.

    I'll check out your blog too. Thnx!



  3. Sarah Rainsberger

    Rich doesn't have to come before retired. It doesn't even have to come after retired. We're taking a different approach to things, and we both last year, before age 35.

    Just another way to look at things! Good luck in your quest!

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