At 34, I decided to retire from Corporate America with a net worth of about $5 million. $5 million is not considered extremely wealthy, especially in San Francisco, but it was better than a poke in the eye for someone my age and I knew then that I had enough.
I had several major catalysts:
1) Negotiated a severance. The severance let me keep 100% of my deferred cash and equity over five years equal to multiple six figures, plus I got a six figure severance payment + three months of WARN Act pay. This was enough to pay for all living expenses for me and my wife for six years. I knew then it was now or never. To be able to retire while young would be much more exciting than retiring at a more traditional age. See:
2) Found something better to do. Three years before retiring, I started this personal finance blog at home, during off peak hours. It was my way of dealing with the financial crisis, where friends got blown out left and right with the housing and stock market crash. I had so much fun writing and getting to know new people online that I knew this was what I could spend the next decade doing. I’m nine years in and have no plans to stop.
3) Had enough passive income to survive. On top of my severance package, I also built up around $80,000 of passive income from rental properties, dividend stock income, CD income, fixed income and P2P income at the time that has since grown to about $200,000. I knew from the first day I started working in finance in 1999 that I wouldn’t be able to last working for three decades like my parents did at their respective jobs. So I saved and invested like crazy to one day be free by 40. Little did I know that I found a new hobby, blogging, at age 31 and left work shortly after.
Early Retirement Life Is Amazing!
It’s been six years since I left my day job and there is not a day that goes by where I’m not thankful for leaving. Yes, I could have made $300,000 – $800,000 a year for the past six years in banking, but I would have been miserable. It is very hard to walk away from a high paying job at a young age, but I didn’t care about the money anymore. I wanted freedom!
During these past six years my wife – who also negotiated a severance at 34 – and I traveled to a couple dozen new countries, built Financial Samurai into a fun and, and had a son. We’re now dedicated full-time stay at home parents until he goes to kindergarten. Our creative outlet of writing online keeps us intellectually stimulated.
Oh yeah, and our net worth has more than doubled since 2012 thanks to this incredible bull market, and perhaps has more than tripled depending on the value of our online business. I encourage everybody to start a side hustle and try to build new income streams in addition to your main day job income if you want to achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later.
Question the purpose of trying to make more money if your money is already working hard for you. Once you’ve built a large enough financial nut, the returns will begin to dwarf your income. There really is not much of a lifestyle difference between having $1 million, $5 million, $10 million, and even $20 million. The only difference is affording a bigger house to clean and feeling more comfortable flying first class or private.
Life goes by so quick. Being extremely wealthy and still being a slave to money is stupid. Being extremely rich like my friend who is worth several hundred million dollars but still has to report to shareholders, a board, and manage employees is a waste of time. He can never play tennis with me at 10am because he has to go to work!
Nobody really retires. They simply shift their focus to something more interesting. Find your enough money and move on!
About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened an online brokerage account in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at two of the leading financial service firms in the world. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $200,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
FinancialSamurai.com was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1.5 million organic pageviews a month. Financial Samurai has been featured in top publications such as the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.