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 in the finance industry, studied economics at William & Mary, got my MBA from UC Berkeley, saved aggressively, diversified my investments, and still got financially rocked!
Since the financial crisis, more than 75 million visitors have stopped by Financial Samurai to learn, share, and grow. I’m also pleased to say that Financial Samurai is in its 13th year of operation in 2021. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites in the world. And it’s all free.
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.
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 20+-year finance veteran, 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.
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.
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.
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 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’m an avid USTA 5.0-ranked tennis player who would play five days a week if my knees didn’t break down.
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!
Latest Investment Focus: Geoarbitrage
For 2021 and beyond, I’m 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 South and the Midwest 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 both accredited and unaccredited investors to gain commercial real estate exposure.
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. Check out Fundrise for free and see what they have to offer.
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. Current passive income is roughly $325,000.
* Have written over 2,100 personal finance articles since Financial Samurai began in 2009.
* Got my undergrad degree at The College of William & Mary studying Economics and Mandarin. Got my MBA from UC Berkeley.
* 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 2021. 2020 put a damper on our travels!
* 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.
* US Tennis Association 5.0 ranked player since 2016 years (top 1%).
* 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.
* 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.
* Financial Samurai is proud to be one of the pioneers of the modern day FIRE movement.
* Wrote and composed a new lullaby for all parents out there called Cutie Baby.
* Wrote a 150-page book in its third edition for 2020 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.
* Have a bi-wkly Financial Samurai Podcast where I provide more nuance to my articles. The FS podcast is on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.
* Currently working on a traditional book with Portfolio, a Penguin Random House imprint, to be released in Fall 2022.
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”
Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.
- Before or at the time of collecting personal information, we will identify the purposes for which information is being collected.
- We will collect and use of personal information solely with the objective of fulfilling those purposes specified by us and for other compatible purposes, unless we obtain the consent of the individual concerned or as required by law.
- We will only retain personal information as long as necessary for the fulfillment of those purposes.
- We will collect personal information by lawful and fair means and, where appropriate, with the knowledge or consent of the individual concerned.
- Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which it is to be used, and, to the extent necessary for those purposes, should be accurate, complete, and up-to-date.
- We will protect personal information by reasonable security safeguards against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification.
- We will make readily available to customers information about our policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.
We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.
Web Site Terms and Conditions of Use
By accessing this web site, you are agreeing to be bound by these web site Terms and Conditions of Use, all applicable laws and regulations, and agree that you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws. If you do not agree with any of these terms, you are prohibited from using or accessing this site. The materials contained in this web site are protected by applicable copyright and trademark law.
2. Use License
a. Permission is granted to temporarily download one copy of the materials
(information or software) on Financialsamurai.com’s web site for personal,
non-commercial transitory viewing only. This is the grant of a license,
not a transfer of title, and under this license you may not:
i. modify or copy the materials;
ii. use the materials for any commercial purpose, or for any public display (commercial or non-commercial);
iii. attempt to decompile or reverse engineer any software contained on Financialsamurai.com’s web site;
iv. remove any copyright or other proprietary notations from the materials; or
v. transfer the materials to another person or “mirror” the materials on any other server.
b. This license shall automatically terminate if you violate any of these restrictions and may be terminated by Financialsamurai.com at any time. Upon terminating your viewing of these materials or upon the termination of this license, you must destroy any downloaded materials in your possession whether in electronic or printed format.
a. The materials on Financialsamurai.com’s web site are provided “as is”. Financialsamurai.com makes no warranties, expressed or implied, and hereby disclaims and negates all other warranties, including without limitation, implied warranties or conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement of intellectual property or other violation of rights. Further, Financialsamurai.com does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the use of the materials on its Internet web site or otherwise relating to such materials or on any sites linked to this site.
In no event shall Financialsamurai.com or its suppliers be liable for any damages (including, without limitation, damages for loss of data or profit, or due to business interruption,) arising out of the use or inability to use the materials on Financialsamurai.com’s Internet site, even if Financialsamurai.com or a Financialsamurai.com authorized representative has been notified orally or in writing of the possibility of such damage. Because some jurisdictions do not allow limitations on implied warranties, or limitations of liability for consequential or incidental damages, these limitations may not apply to you.
5. Revisions and Errata
The materials appearing on Financialsamurai.com’s web site could include technical, typographical, or photographic errors. Financialsamurai.com does not warrant that any of the materials on its web site are accurate, complete, or current. Financialsamurai.com may make changes to the materials contained on its web site at any time without notice. Financialsamurai.com does not, however, make any commitment to update the materials.
Financialsamurai.com has not reviewed all of the sites linked to its Internet web site and is not responsible for the contents of any such linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Financialsamurai.com of the site. Use of any such linked web site is at the user’s own risk.
8. Governing Law
Any claim relating to Financialsamurai.com’s web site shall be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to its conflict of law provisions.
9. Use Of Pictures
You may use the pictures taken by Sam of Financial Samurai if you provide a credit link back to financialsamurai.com and an e-mail notification or comment on a post that you have done so.
10. Legal Age
You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if 1) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Financial Samurai, or 2) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services.
General Terms and Conditions applicable to Use of a Web Site
Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers. Compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appears.
Financial Samurai endeavors to find products that can help readers save money or make money. Financial Samurai also aims to help readers gain a greater control of their finances. Financial Samurai does its best to review and screen each product before mentioning.
This Site is affiliated with CMI Marketing, Inc., d/b/a CafeMedia (“CafeMedia”) for the purposes of placing advertising on the Site, and CafeMedia will collect and use certain data for advertising purposes. To learn more about CafeMedia’s data usage, see here: https://www.cafemedia.com/publisher-advertising-privacy-policy
Financial Samurai is an affiliate of Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS #1681276, not available in all states. See https://www.credible.com/a/state-licenses for important information about Credible’s licenses.