In 2009, the world was falling apart, and my net worth was taking a beating. I thought it would be a good idea to start a personal finance site to help myself and others make sense of chaos.
After all, I had spent 10 years working at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, studied economics at William & Mary, got my MBA from UC Berkeley, saved aggressively, diversified my investments, and still got financially rocked!
Since the global financial crisis, more than 90 million visitors have stopped by Financial Samurai to learn, share, and grow.
After writing over 2,500 personal finance articles, I’ve used my knowledge and the perspectives of so many to write an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller entitled, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. The book is your secret weapon to getting ahead in this hyper-competitive world.
You can buy a hardcopy on Amazon or everywhere that sells books. By the time you finish BTNT you will gain at least 100X more value than its cost. After spending 30 years working in finance, writing about finance, and studying finance, I’m certain Buy This, Not That will help you build way more wealth than the average person.
Today, Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites in the world with roughly one million organic visitors a month. And it’s all free! Every time I think about throwing up a pay wall, I think about the kid in the library surfing the web because they don’t have Internet access at home.
Why Read Financial Samurai?
Financial Samurai delves deeper into investing, real estate, retirement planning, career strategies, and more, so we can all achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later. As one of the modern-day pioneers of the FIRE movement since 2009, I want to help you achieve your financial goals so you can do more of what you want.
Every article is written based off firsthand experience to provide the most helpful insights possible. I believe money matters are too important to be left up to pontification. If you want to read finance articles written by a 23-year finance veteran who practices what he writes you’ve come to the right place.
Financial Samurai has been highlighted in major publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal Online, The Consumerist, The Sydney Herald, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times. I have also done interviews with AARP, Newstalk Radio 910AM (KKSF San Francisco) and Bloomberg.
You can get my content via e-mail three times a week. You can also sign up for my free private weekly newsletter with more nuanced content to help you achieve financial freedom sooner rather than later.
If you are looking to get an honest and in-depth review of the best financial products to help you achieve financial independence, take a look at my Top Financial Products page. I’ve literally spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing, and using these products to make sure I only highlight the best products for my users. I’ve cut through the clutter so you don’t have to.
About Sam, A Financial Samurai
After thirteen years of working in Corporate America, money ceased to be a major driving factor. Instead, living absolutely free became my biggest motivation. I fantasized about what it would be like to just write, spend time with family, and travel, with little financial worries. Three years after starting this site in 2009 I took the leap of faith.
Leaving a healthy paycheck was not easy, but I knew if I didn’t take the risk then, I would probably never leave. I actually planted the seeds for my early exit at the very beginning of my career. Starting with my first job at a investment bank out of college in NYC, I saved over 50% of my after tax income every year because I knew I wouldn’t be able to last a lifetime working 70+ hours a week.
I used my savings to buy rental properties, stocks, bonds, and CDs in order to build passive income streams so I might one day be more free. Here are my current estimated passive income streams.
Things were going well until the 2008 financial crisis hit, wiping away ~35% of my net worth in just 12 months. Financial Samurai began as a cathartic way to make sense of all the carnage and ease the pain.
By the time I decided to leave Corporate America in 2012, I was generating about $80,000 in passive income, while Financial Samurai had grown to provide an additional source of income as well. Starting a blog changed my life for the better and I recommend everybody do the same to at least build your brand online.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine not having to work a day job after age 34 due to this site and my investing efforts.
Life speed accelerates because the older we get, the less time we have left to live. Getting our financial lives in order early allows us time to fully live our dreams.
This site shares my strategies for achieving financial freedom as soon as possible. I also share my ideas for building wealth through real estate, stocks and bonds, private equity, and online entrepreneurship.
I truly believe there is unlimited upside to building wealth. The key is to adopt an abundance mentality!
“You will regret more of the things you don’t do, than the things you try,‘ said my friend just days before he got laid off at the age of 56. He was the mailman at my old place of employment who lamented about not taking enough risks in his life.
Any time you can combine generating real value with having fun, you’ve hit a grand slam. I write because I enjoy the experience. Readers and your comments are what make running this site a blast. Dialog matters; the more we communicate with others, the more complete we become ourselves.
It’s important to never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill. I can fail because my competition is too good or there was some unforeseen event that knocked me off my feet. But if I fail due to a lack of effort, I will be filled with regret as an old man.
Sushi (surprise, surprise) is one of my favorite foods, and I can watch college football and basketball all day long. I was once an avid USTA 5.0-ranked tennis player who would play five days a week if my knees didn’t break down. Finally, in 2022, I successfully self-rated down to a 4.5.
To try and make a difference in some kids lives and help out the community, I began coaching high school tennis and being a foster kid mentee in 2017. After three years, my high school ended up winning back-to-back Northern California Section championships, a first in the schools history.
I’ve made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate and the stock market. As a result, I’ve learned the hard way that rebalancing and having a proper asset allocation of stocks and bonds is important to make sure that my risk exposure is not too great.
Keep Track Of Your Finances
I now keep track of all my finances using the free online wealth manager from Personal Capital. Personal Capital has been fantastic for helping me monitor my net worth, manage my expenses, and cut down on exorbitant mutual fund fees in my 401K. I’ve been using them since 2012.
Personal Capital also has the best Retirement Planning Calculator because they use your real data to calculate what your retirement cash flow will be like.
Better To Be Rich Than Poor
If all I could ever earn was $80,000 (gross) a year, I’d be content; I really don’t need a whole lot to be happy. Without debt it doesn’t take much to live a comfortable life. After all, there are only so many things one can buy and experience.
While all this may be true, however, I still make the argument that $200,000 a year per individual and $350,000 per household is the ideal income for maximum happiness. Studies show that the poor and rich are equally happy, so why not strive to be rich?
Education is absolutely the key to freedom. When I graduated from The College of William & Mary in 1999, I swore I’d never go back to school again. Two years after working in finance, the dotcom meltdown happened and things weren’t so fun any more.
Under those sobering circumstances I changed my mind about school and proceeded to earn my MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 2006. And I discovered something funny: school actually becomes enjoyable when you focus on the learning and stop worrying about grades. Work is also more fun if you don’t need the money!
Big Fan Of Real Estate
Since 2016, I’ve been deploying capital more surgically in lower valuation, higher yielding real estate in the heartland of America. The global pandemic and lockdowns have accelerated the work from home and remote work trend I’ve been talking about since 2016.
Coastal city real estate has become too expensive, so I decided to sell a San Francisco rental house in June 2017 for 30X its annual gross rent. The property taxes for the rental house alone were $23,000 a year. With the birth of my son in 2017, I no longer wanted to waste time dealing with PITA tenants.
The most attractive investment opportunities are in the Sunbelt through real estate investing platforms like Fundrise. Fundrise was founded in 2012 and is my favorite real estate investing platform today. Fundrise created diversified private eREITs to enable all investors to gain commercial real estate exposure. It currently manages over $3 billion in assets from over 350,000 investors.
With work from home booming due to the coronavirus, a massive demographic trend is in the works for decades. Both are my favorite platforms to explore commercial real estate deals around the country.
The great thing about real estate crowdsourcing is that you can invest in projects with potentially 8 – 12% annual returns with as little as $1,000. If I wanted to buy another SF property, I need to come up with a $320,000 downpayment since the median home price here is ~$1.6 million and borrow $1,280,000.
I’ve invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding since late 2016. It feels good to earn money passively compared to actively managing a rental and dealing with maintenance issues and tenants.
With two kids under three years old, I’ve got my hands full being a full-time dad. Of course, there are no guarantees with any investment, so only invest in what you are comfortable with.
About Financial Samurai – The Short Version
* Worked 13-years at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. “Retired” in 2012 at age 34 with roughly $80,000 a year in passive income. Came out of retirement a year later because early retirement life was too boring.
* Have written over 2,500 personal finance articles since Financial Samurai began in 2009.
* Got my undergrad degree at The College of William & Mary studying Economics and Mandarin in 1999. Got my MBA from UC Berkeley in 2006.
* On July 19, 2022, published a Wall Street Journal best-selling book with Penguin Random House called, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom (#1 on Amazon).
* I will never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill.
* If asked to define “happiness” in one word, I would choose the word “progress.” Progress in our relationships with loved ones, progress in our occupations, and progress in our spirituality all create happiness.
* Loved writing in high school and was the teacher’s pet in AP English. Sadly, I never took another writing course again.
* Have lived in seven different countries and been to roughly 60 countries as of 2022. 2020 and 2021 put a damper on our travels! But I’d rather stay home and raise our two young children anyway.
* Used to speak three languages pretty well. Now I only speak Mandarin and English. My Spanish is horrible, despite eight years of learning.
* Overcame severe asthma as a kid and can now play three hours of tennis at a time. Yet, I still can’t run five miles straight without hacking up a lung.
* Was a 16 handicapper in golf for years until I made it a goal to break 10 one year. I’m currently sitting at 9.8.
* Was a USTA 5.0 ranked player since 2016 years (top 1%) and finally got self-rated down to 4.5 in 2022. Won the SF city championship at the 4.5 level in 2022.
* Entrepreneurship fascinates me. But I turned down a golden opportunity in China upon graduation to work for a golden opportunity in NYC. Sixteen years after graduation, I’ve now come full circle and have built a lifestyle business with Financial Samurai. Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009.
* Happily functions on about 6 hours of sleep per day because I’m so excited to wake up and see what happened in the world while I dreamt. Love to take 30 – 60 minute naps after lunch.
* Achieved my goal of making $200,000 a year from various passive income investments in 2017. Passive income is currently closer to $350,000 in 2022.
* Fiercely loyal and will always take care of the people who helped out.
* First time dad in 2017 to a son. Second time dad to a daughter in 2019. My family is the absolute greatest blessing in my life. Nothing comes close. My main purpose for having and making money is to spend as much time with my kids as possible before they leave the house.
* Wrote and composed a new lullaby for all parents out there called Cutie Baby.
* Wrote a 200-page book in its 5th edition for 2022 entitled, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. The book empowers employees with their legal rights and provides a framework for how to negotiate a healthy severance package. Never quit, get laid off instead.
* Launched the Financial Samurai Forum in 2019. We talk about early retirement, real estate investing, stocks, bonds, career strategies, negotiating a severance, entrepreneurship and more.
Financial Samurai Site Statistics
* ~40,000 pageviews a day on average.
* ~1,200,000 organic pageviews a month.
* Reader demographics: Majority are ages 25-45, college educated, top 20% income earners, 30% with net worth of over $500,000. Roughly 30% are accredited investors. Here’s a comprehensive post highlighting the Financial Samurai Reader Demographic based off over 80 surveys conducted since 2012.
* Started in July, 2009.
Contact Info And Address
* Feel free to contact me for radio, podcast or written interviews. I’m always happy to help a reporter or broadcaster out.
* Use of my copyrighted lullaby: Cutie Baby
E-mail: financialsamurai AT gmail DOT com (please DO NOT add me to your blast lists)
Mailing address: Financial Samurai, 2309 Noriega Street #82, San Francisco, CA 94122
Sam Dogen – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”
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