Fight For Financial Independence Every Day

Fight for financial independence every day

Fight for financial independence every day. There's something really confusing that maybe you can help explain. I don't understand why some people criticize others for doing the following:

  • Saving and investing more than 20% of their income
  • Taking stock of all their cash during times of volatility
  • Working more than 50 hours a week
  • Developing side hustles to earn more money
  • Working gig economy jobs
  • Going to graduate school part-time
  • Sleeping less than eight hours a day
  • Waking up at 5:30am to work on a passion project before work
  • Getting good grades or at least trying to
  • Eating a $3 cheeseburger instead of a $60 steak
  • Learning a second language to broaden their reach
  • Creating a platform online to leverage the internet
  • Driving an economy car
  • Investing money during violent downturns
  • Living in a humble place

All these actions can help you reach financial independence faster. And who doesn't want to be financially independent as soon as possible? Once you're rich, you've got options. And once you've got options, you become the architect of your life. 

Stop Wasting So Much Time

When I was 26, the admissions officer at UC Berkeley's Evening & Weekend MBA program asked why I wanted to attend. After all, the median age of attendees was 32. I told her because I thought it would be better to leverage the degree for a longer period of time. Why wait until my 30s if I knew I wanted to get my MBA now? An extra six years of having the MBA on my resume could make a big financial difference.

The same logic goes for saving money. Everybody knows that saving more is better than saving less. If we know that boosting our savings rate from 10% to 20% allows us to get to our savings goal 100% faster, why not make it happen since we have a finite time to live?

The same logic applies to work. Given hard work requires no skill, if you can work 60 hours a week, you will mathematically do 50% more than the person who works 40 hours a week all else being equal. After 10 years of working 60 hour weeks, you'll have done five more years worth of things! With five more years of productivity under your belt, you will inevitably get paid and promoted quicker.

The same logic goes towards building extra income rocket boosters. We know that life is uncertain. People lose their jobs, get sick, and get into accidents all the time. The more income rocket boosters we can produce, the higher the chances our plane won't fall from the sky due to main engine failure. With the extra time we dedicate outside of our day jobs, we can create products, build a website, or master a valuable consulting skill. All activities will ultimate lead to more options.

There Is No Big Sacrifice: Fight For Financial Independence

One of the biggest push-backs to working and saving more is that it's too much of a sacrifice. Why not live a more enjoyable life now? What I guess is hard to understand is the “sacrifice” you make in your 20s and 30s is no sacrifice at all because you're setting yourself up for a life of freedom in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. It's actually exhilarating to put the energy you have as a younger person to maximum use that will set you up forever.

Why is it that people think those who save and work a lot have no lives? It's not like we live in a concentration camp where after a 12 hour work day is over we go back to our damp jail cell and eat bread in the dark until 6am the next morning. Instead, we live in a free country with an abundance of everything. We can go outside and walk freely without fear of persecution.

Have we gotten soft? A bunch of interns recently signed a petition to change the dress code at their company. Interns! You know, the ones who are supposedly there to learn and be helpful in hopes of getting a job one day. Only wealthy, clueless, and disrespectful people would actually go into an establishment as a guest and demand change with a petition. The interns were summarily fired.

You Won't Regret Your Effort

I don't regret working 70 hours a week in my 20s and early 30s. There was so much to learn. Or maybe that's it. Because I was so dumb, I had to work so much more than the average person just to stay even. Whatever the case may be, I was hungry for financial freedom. I don't think missing out on mid-week parties because I had to start work before 7am every day was that much of a sacrifice.

Tacking on another 20 hours a week going to business school part-time was sometimes a bear. But the work is done, and nobody will ever take away my graduate school degree. The degree may be just a piece of paper, but it gave me the confidence to do better work in my late 20s. I've kept in touch with some great classmates, and I've applied many concepts from school to my business today.

Creating optionality for yourself is NOT a sacrifice at all. Having to work your entire life at a job you don't like is the real sacrifice. Not spending as much time as you want with your friends and family because of money is a shame. Developing chronic physical pain due to an incessant amount of stress can shorten your life. Constantly having to worry about money will destroy relationships. The worst is looking back and wishing you had done XYZ when you had the chance and the energy.

Now that I'm middle-aged, I no longer have that fire I once did. Many older people will tell you the same thing. But the reality is, I don't think we're ever too old to go after financial freedom.

Fight For Financial Independence Every Day

Either decide to live well within your means or make a lot more money than you currently do by working more and investing smarter. Money buys more freedom, and more freedom brings more happiness. Finally, if you don't have to worry about yourself, you can use your time and money to more freely help other people. What's more rewarding than that?

Let's not forget those before us who sacrificed to keep us free. It would be disrespectful to fritter our opportunity away by taking life for granted. Are you ready to fight for financial independence?

We need to more so than ever with this coronavirus pandemic restricting our freedom!

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90 thoughts on “Fight For Financial Independence Every Day”

  1. Excellent article.
    I totally agree with you. I have been working, for the past 8 years more than 60 hours per week. Trying also to launch my website on dividend and financial independance. I am still very far from your value and independence but I have the mindset and dedication to one day the kind of life that you have been living for the past few years.

    You’re a great example of hard work, knowledge and dedication.

    Congrats and keep on kicking our ass !

  2. Great post,I was writing about this in a non-finance related way on my blog and when I turned to the aspect of finances,instead of re-hashing what you write here I just directed my readers to this post,excellent!

  3. Hey Sam-

    Although I am generally shocked at how so many people in their 20’s don’t seem to care about saving money, I think there are two sides to everything. My brother is 34 and spent the last 11 years after college becoming a Doctor. He looks back on his 70 hour work weeks as a resident (including 30 hour shifts 1x a week) and often regrets it. He feels like his most youthful and energetic decade was spent with his head in a textbook or at a hospital and is jealous of people who worked way less and enjoyed life by traveling and relaxing. Now he is finally starting off as an Attending, and feels burnt out.

    I personally get a tremendous amount of pleasure from seeing my net worth grow. I don’t understand how my friends go years without saving any money. They think there is a lot of time left in their careers, but I certainly don’t want to be 35 with no savings.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Tell your brother than in 10 years, he won’t regret all the hard work he has put in so far! He is a Doctor now, a prestigious occupation that nobody can ever take away. He has lifelong employment! Compared to me. What am I but a personal finance blogger who is a Google algorithm change away from ruin :)

      But I can say I’m so happy I put in the time early and saved.



  4. Great article as always Sam. Gotta fight for that FREEEEEEDOMMMMMMMM! And yea, I never understood why people don’t like getting up early. Rising before anyone else is refreshing, you feel like you are the only person up and the only person working hard to get ahead (even though it isn’t true:)…I love that quiet time though. Welp, see you around!

  5. Well put! Sacrifice is the only way I can see myself reaching financial independence. Im about to sacrifice and completely change my life to help me reach financial freedom and its exciting and scary at the same time. My wife and I are packing up our bags and moving to a lower cost of living city to help reach financial freedom.

    Hope it works out!

  6. Great post! I get very confused too about those who criticize others for working hard. I’m happy to say that I can put a check mark next to many items from your list. I’ve developed a side hustle through Sleepy Capital and am investing wisely.

    You must have had a very busy time while getting your MBA. I am personally still weighing the cost/benefits of an MBA, but that’s something I’ll be deciding on doing in the next year or two. Thanks for the advice!

  7. I am attending Berkeley for my part time MBA this fall! Were you able to work, go to school, and have a side hustle?

  8. BeSmartRich

    We just achieved $200K milestone of our financial independence journey. Started less than 2 years ago and I can already see growth is getting faster and faster. Why wait? right?



  9. A different way to interpret time wasting is all the hours wasted on netflix and tv programs. If you entertained yourself with freelancing or Fiverr tasks you would be richer and have fun random stories to tell your friends

  10. Hi Sam,

    To all the people who thought I was cheap, to the people who told me to live life now because you never know what will happen, to the people who couldn’t understand why I choose to work instead of play. I will be contemplating what you told me from a beach in Hawaii this entire week!

    Hard work and sacrifice does pay off. It just takes time.

    Thanks, Bill

      1. I’m going to Maui. First trip ever to Hawaii so I’m very excited. My first Mai Tai on the beach I will hold up my glass and toast you for the excellent content you provide! Not sure if you’ll be able to see my glass from Oahu, but I’ll do it anyways!

        1. First time? I am definitely excited for you! Hawaii is like a metaphor for financial independence. Once you discover Hawaii for the first time, you will wonder why the heck you never bothered trying to get there before. I’d like a full report when you get back on whether you believe my statement to be true. Enjoy!

  11. Apathy Ends

    I got an MBA right after my undergrad, mostly because I graduated at a terrible time and people in my field were getting laid off instead of hired – just getting enough experience so it will actually pay off soon.

    that intern story is really interesting, nothing like showing up and demanding change before paying any dues.

  12. Krishna Kambhampati

    Hi Sam,

    Do you still drive Uber? I believe I remember you saying you don’t but just want to make sure. Happy 4th!

    1. Not regularly, but I do when I’m driving more than 10 minutes somewhere like today to tennis practice. I put on my Uber app, enter my destination, and the Uber app will find someone to pick up and drop off along the way. Why not make extra money right?

      For example, I have a consulting client in San Mateo. It is 30 miles away. I can make about $33 after fees if I take someone there, and another $33 back. It’ll take me at most a 10 minute detour each time.

      I’ve asked many friends who can’t afford to buy their own place in SF and haven’t reached financial independence, but own nice cars to join me. They’ll get up to a $1,000 bonus to sign up here in SF. Yet they don’t bother. I don’t know why. Perhaps they think driving is beneath them. Or they don’t care about the money, or love their work. It must be, b/c everything is rational in the end.

      It is very hard for me to comprehend why they are so upset about the cost of living in SF, yet aren’t willing to put in the extra time to make more money.

      Related: Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working A Minimum Wage Job As An Adult

      1. Krishna Kambhampati

        Completely agree with everything you are saying. Has to be the snobbery of feeling that driving is beneath them and/or they are too lazy and don’t want to work. It’s amazing what you can save if you just put in a few hours extra a week.

        Thanks for always inspiring me and educating me on all things! I’m a regular reader.

  13. This title really drew my attention, as its something I am trying to do. I am physically disabled, and dependent on my family and the gov’t, but i shouldn’t have to be. I have tons of talent, and a high IQ. I’ve coasted through schooling, and have never been challenged in my life, or come close to recognizing my limits.

    So I am on a quest for complete financial independence, I want to find out if its still possible that someone with drive, talent, intelligence and great networking ability can go from nothing, absolute poverty to rich, and taking vacations in the Bahamas aka living the American Dream.

    I feel that I can do it, i have zero doubt about my ability to live up to such potenial, but I just can’t find the opportunity to show what I am capable of, or find someone to take me under their wing, and exploit my potential for both our benefits.

    1. Half the battle is believing you can do it. Research other people with your same disability and see how they managed to get ahead. Reach out to other people in your situation and build a support network where you encourage each other to keep going.

      It really starts from within. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment if you have any specific questions or advice.

  14. simple money man

    Hi Sam,

    That company did right by firing those interns that wanted a dress code change….smh. I’d like to add that people don’t realize sacrifice as much until they have been in an under-developed region (whether that’s somewhere in the US or abroad). When we see other less fortunate people working more hours and for less pay, we realize how lucky we are to have so many opportunities to earn more from your primary job and other passive income options that are reasonably attainable!

  15. As a millennial, I have always found that my generation is really not interested in saving. But they are very passionate about other things. For instance, I know like 6-10 “personal trainers” at any given time whose finances probably don’t look half as good as their abs. Is this a bad thing? Not at all because of 2 reasons:
    1. People bettering themselves in any way is always good. The world can always use more 6 packs and sweltering biceps!
    2. The new age cumulative apathy in the workplace makes it very easy to succeed and get ahead. Nowadays putting in 45 hours a week is the new 70hrs/wk. Reliability and stability are worth more than ever thanks to declining expectations. Just show up to get ahead.

  16. You are right on point with your views about time. I think of it as compounding interest. If I do something to help my financial situation out in my 20s, that will only make me that much better for it later on down the line.

    Out of the list at the beginning of the article, do you think any of those opportunities stick out for younger people?

  17. I agree with your idea of “front-loading” effort and hustle. I also busted my ass to get my MBA ( I went when I was 28 because I wanted to save enough $ so I didn’t take any loans – took me a little while to save what was essentially the cost of a small house ;) ) I pursued a career in investment banking because it was both challenging, intellectually stimulating and well-paying. I did this knowing I would never be a career banker. I just wanted to build up my skill set, bank some nice bonuses and paychecks, train my work-like-a-dog muscles and be on my way to mini-freedom (i.e. The ability to explore other careers and opportunities because I knew I had a nice cushion of both money and a resume to lean on). The funny thing is I was frequently miserable ( banking did not bring out the joy in me ;) ) and my family, my husband and others all urged me to quit before I became a depressed monster. After 6 years I crossed my financial goal line, felt that I had sunk enough in the gruel and was ready to do something fun! I’m now in a career in product management at a firm that I truly enjoy, and life is so much more pleasant without those all nighters! But I’m glad in hindsight that I put myself through the grind for a little while. It gave me the confidence to know what pain I am capable of sustaining. Now when we have deadlines, I have the physical and mental resources to draw on to meet those challenges. As I will tell my daughter one day, it’s easier to go from a hard life to an easy one. Almost superhuman effort is needed to go the other way!

    1. Daffy, you are right! Once you push yourself to the edge, you know what you are capable of. EVERYTHING else becomes so much easier after! The perspective is awesome!

      “As I will tell my daughter one day, it’s easier to go from a hard life to an easy one. Almost superhuman effort is needed to go the other way!”

      So wise. Thank you!

  18. Dividend Family Guy

    If I could turn back time…yeah I would have gotten my masters in my twenties and would be well under way to FIRE. Sometimes life throws you a curve-ball and I am wear I am at now. Still your words apply to anyone of any age. It truly is about freedom and the joy financial independence brings a person. Your life is yours again just like when you were a kid.

    1. Oh man, you are right about life being just like it was when I was a kid. Being a kid was so much fun. No care, little responsibilities, just joy. To be free to ride my bike around with my buddies, go to 7-Eleven and get a slurpee with the coins we saved up and just hang out until my parents got home.

      The feeling is so similar. But as an adult, your mind is richer b/c you can draw from so many different experiences. How was your childhood like?

  19. Ten Bucks a Week

    What a fantastic list! I think I hit everything aside from waking up super early and sleeping less than 8 hours. Right now I’m studying Chinese in Taiwan for the summer!

    If I may ask, at what age did you find your spouse? I would not want to work so much because I am married. It may be an excuse, but I’m very content with the way life is coming.

  20. oops, forgot to mention one more thing, another reason I couldn’t invest early on because I had to pay my folks back as the money for my education came out of my dad’s meagre pension.

  21. Up until I stumbled across this blog, I didn’t even know financial independence from a job was a thing. So thank you FS for corrupting me! :D “architect of your life” – I love that! That’s exactly what I want to be. I only wished I’d worked harder when I was younger.

    I was raised in the belief that as long as you had a job everything would be ok. Then 2008 happened and I was lucky (and grateful), I was young and not on the chopping block. I avoided overtime because I wanted to decrease my cost to company (and tax) and keep me under the firing radar. However I’ve always wanted to study further but with my tertiary grades I doubted I would get into any school and I didn’t want to financially burden the company that was ailing. I survived 2008 and 2013. And admittedly the bosses and the company were very good to me until they started changing them out in 2011.

    I was so blindly loyal, I didn’t see that I was barely tolerated and not respected (yes I drank the Kool-Aid at orientation).

    A close friend of mine was always trying to get me to invest (and open my eyes to the situation at work) but I was so scared of the taxman and additional tax. But thank goodness after much researching, I found information, some on the tax website, as to how tax is calculated. I (unhappily) keep the taxman’s share aside because I don’t believe people when they say he won’t catch up to me (I don’t want the sheriff of the court rocking up to the house and attaching things), and invest the rest.

    Now there’s no overtime, our currency is depreciating faster than we can think and the job market is strangled.

    The only thing I did right (and continue to do right) was to save and budget well.

    “Do folks know why not many people from poorer countries choose to study more practical degrees and go into fields in higher demand? Because they are poorer, and don’t have the luxury to study art, writing, history, their own language, etc like we do in the US.”

    This is very true. I couldn’t follow what I really wanted to do but thanks to this blog I have quit the excuses and working on my passion after hours. So taking stock of the above list:

    1. Saving and investing more than 20% of their income (yes)
    2. Taking stock of all their cash during times of volatility (yes)
    3. Working more than 50 hours a week (yes in a way, working on my passion which could potentially create a side stream income)
    4. Developing side hustles to earn more money (see above)
    5. Working gig economy jobs (looking for one)
    6. Going to graduate school part-time (doubt I’d get in)
    7. Sleeping less than eight hours a day (no, I’d be a zombie and danger on the roads)
    8. Waking up at 5:30am to work on a passion project before work (I wake up at 4:45am and work on my passion in the evenings when I’m more awake)
    9. Getting good grades or at least trying to (pay attention here kids, this really matters!)
    10. Eating a $3 cheeseburger instead of a $60 steak (yes)
    11. Learning a second language to broaden their reach (brushing up on my second, actively working on my third, and picking a few words on my fourth and fifth language)
    12. Creating a platform online to leverage the internet (no – I cannot see what value I could bring to an online platform)
    13. Driving an economy car (yes and I drive economically, plan my driving and avoid driving around for nothing, etc. to save petrol and wear and tear)
    14. Investing money during violent downturns (yes)
    15. Living in a humble place (yes)

    9/15 not great but not bad either. This really is another great article that’s keeping the FIRE under me.

    1. Financial Samurai

      Not bad at all! Nice jog going through the list. I didn’t mean for everyone to do everything. I was just highlighting some various things many different people do to try and get ahead, and how they’ve been criticized for it.

      Really good stuff keeping the focus!

    2. Great job! You are the type of person who is going places getting motivated and actually doing something.

  22. “Now that I’m middle-aged, I no longer have that fire I once did. Many older people will tell you the same thing. But the reality is, I don’t think we’re ever too old to go after financial freedom.”

    I notice that you didn’t link to any past writing in this statement. I think it would be great if you could write more about this – the issue of age and “fire”.


    I guess you are using an old stock pre September 11 2001 photo. Maybe a bit more attention to detail on that would have been good.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m curious to know if you really don’t believe I’m aware that I purposefully chose a picture of the Statue of Liberty before 911? To remind us of the importance of fighting for freedom and what may happen in this seemingly dangerous world if we do not?

      With your follow up feedback, I’ll determine whether to add captions in the pictures to help readers who do no understand the occasional symbolism the pictures represent. What were you doing when 911 happened? It’s a day I will never forget b/c I used to live several blocks away at 45 Wall Street and was at a conference at Windows of the World, at the top.

      Please tell me more about yourself so I can better address your demographic. Thanks!

      1. I am a school teacher. And one of my tips is to dumb down the course so I can educate the slowest student and leave nobody behind. From there, I can challenge my brighter students individually so they can also learn better as well.

        You might have to sacrifice the sophistication of your writing or the way you construct your articles, but it may help more people like this commenter who might need the most help.

        1. I feel weird dumbing down my content, but I understand how clarity is important for maximum efficacy. I’ll keep it in mind.

          The problem with having an open online platform is that everybody can consume it. So you have people from all different backgrounds, education, intelligence etc. It’s hard to be all things to all people, so I don’t bother trying as much anymore. Just got to be true to who you are.

  24. The Green Swan

    This sounds so familiar. I too got my MBA as soon as I could after my undergrad. Why wait and waste time leveraging the degree and why take a long break from school? Honestly part of my desire to go back so quickly was to continue my college studying habits too. Working a 50+ hour work week has been my norm and my alarm goes off at 5am every morning. I know all of these habits are temporary but I can handle it now and then enjoy retirement!

  25. “Once you’re rich, you’ve got options. And once you’ve got options, you become the architect of your life.” Great message, Sam! I hear people making excuses all the time. I think a lot of people just aren’t willing to hustle. Or make sacrifices. For those of us what are willing to do whatever it takes, it’s easiest to just block out that negativity. Awesome post!

  26. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes

    Well said Sam. I suffered plenty of criticism to reach my financial independence. Unfortunately I worked harder than most, and I was never promoted or rewarded for it. Such is life. I just sucked it up and kept going.

    That was one of the major reasons I wanted financial independence. The system does not always reward the hard workers. Those who play at corporate politics and seek visibility often get most of the rewards.

    So I decided to just escape all that bullsh*t. Financial dependence is for the weak. The strong seek independence, and will find a way to rise above.

  27. Most people are just lazy and like to live a comfortable life, myself included. Some people has more drives than others. You’re 100% correct when you say people need to make a choice. They have to live within their means or put a lot of effort into making more money. You can’t live extravagantly and not work for it. Well, I guess you can if you’re lucky enough to have a trust fund.
    It’s good to work hard in your 20s and 30s. Now that I’m in my 40s, I don’t want to work hard anymore. I’m getting more lazy…

    1. I can safely say we ALL get lazier over time. The key is to do the work BEFORE the lazy bug sets in. It is just too easy to get fat and lazy in the US b/c everything is so readily available.

      Good job busting your hump while younger!

  28. Happy 4th of July! I think I work more hours than a decent number of people and it actually makes me happy versus frustrated. I do like to take a breather every now and then, but I like how being busy and active in multiple projects keeps my brain working and constantly learning new things.

    I do several of the things on your financial independence list and couldn’t agree more: saving and investing >20% of income, holding cash during volatile markets, working >50 hours a week, side hustles, learning a second language, have an online platform to leverage the internet, live frugally.

    We have control over whatever lifestyle/careers we take and our personal motivations and priorities make a big difference on our financial health. I love to work hard while I still can, save save save, invest and live frugally.

  29. This is a powerful message. moving to a place where you spend less and have more potential opportunities can also help one to become financially independent if done right. Trying it out here in China where the “American Dream” seems to be more attainable, at least to me.

    Cheers, and thanks for the article.

    1. I’ll have to check out your adventures in China! Last time I was there was in Chongching in 2011. I’ve always wanted to go back there and really live and work for more than just 1-2 weeks. Enjoy your time there!

  30. FIRECracker

    “What I guess is hard to understand is the “sacrifice” you make in your 20s and 30s is no sacrifice at all because you’re setting yourself up for a life of freedom in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.”

    Well said! So many people forget that you are just toughing it out for 10 years, in order to trade it up for a LIFE TIME of freedom! SO worth it.

    I really admire your hustle! I thought computer engineering was bad, but your stress level was so much worse. And you still made it through because that’s what GRIT is.

    People need to understand, it’s not really “sacrifice” to just watch your money and not blow it on stupid things. And most of these things aren’t even things, but random fees that don’t add to our happiness anyways. It’s not about depravation, it about not shooting yourself in the foot with bad financial decisions.

    Thank you for this post and happy INDEPENDENCE Day! We’re excited to see your fireworks from this side of the border :)

    1. Thanks! Finance was pretty brutal hours in the late 90s until the financial crisis. Nowadays, it seems like banks are doing everything they reasonable can to make life better for their employees, or risk losing them to tech companies and startups or to freelance and solopreneur work.

      10-20 years of gutting it out for maybe 50 years of freedom sounds like a good trade!

  31. Finance Solver

    I love the pun. “Tacking on another 20 hours a week going to business school part-time was sometimes a BEAR,” representing Berkeley well, Sam!

    Also, I can’t believe the interns filed an entire petition to have their dress code changed. I guess they were trying to show initiative? Not the kind of initiative I would want to see but hopefully they learned.

    1. Go Bears! I think the representation was subconscious because you are the first to point the connection out to me :)

      The good thing about the intern story is that they’ll learn and gain better perspective. Or maybe they’re all well off and have nothing to worry about. Can you imagine a poor student demand dress code change? Hell no! That’d keep their head down, be happy and help out where they can to make the business better.

  32. People can be crazy, they look down on the things they should be looking up to. The idea of living in a apartment that I am basically stealing from my landlord (I don’t think she knows the market and is charging me WAY less) for years so that I can get out of debt and save money seems crazy to others. Many of my friends want me to move just so I can get a dog, which to me is about the craziest reason to move I’ve ever heard.
    The important thing is that we do what WE want and make the decisions WE are comfortable with.

    1. Exactly. Don’t let your friends convince you to do something you don’t want to do with your money or your life. Live your life for YOU first, and then for your loved ones second.

  33. For me it is amazing to learn more of who is doing well. I was sitting at a meeting after the attack at Pulse and an unassuming middle-aged man I had interacted with before announced that he would donate 6 figures to the victim’s fund. I had no idea he was financially able to do such a thing. His independence allowed him to help people in their need and it was inspiring. My goals for financial freedom include having more space in my life for empathy and curiosity; it won’t necessarily mean donating money, but having the freedom of time will also pay off in these endeavors.

    1. Unassuming. I like that. If you can afford to donate 6 figures and nobody would every expect you could do so, that’s pretty impressive.

      Enjoy the curiosity! So many different perspectives out there to learn from, even the hateful ones.

  34. Stefan - The Millennial Budget

    Great inspiration for the start of the week Sam.

    The hardest part of sacrifice these days is the fear of being judged. I have no idea why people judge people for working hard, wanting good grades, wanting to retire before the retirement age etc etc. In high school there was a group of people who constantly judged the smart people and those that tried for better grades. They are all living at home now and doing nothing with their lives as they were perceived as “cool” back then. They also aren’t money driven which can be a counter argument though.

    Got a question about your MBA, I am about to finish mine in exactly one month from now, August 4th. How many doors did it open for you and did you ever calculate the payoff benefit of getting the MBA? PS. I am going to be 23 when I get mine so guess I got 3 years on ya ;)

    1. Wow, 23 is young! How many years did you work after undergrad if any?

      I started my MBA at 26, and was promoted to VP at 27. A year after I graduated, I was promoted to Executive Director. More than anything, the MBA gave me the confidence to do my job better b/c I not only understood more, but believed in myself more. A lot of my peers did not have an MBA, and I had this stable of professors to consult w/ during my finance job.

      So perhaps my MBA gave me a ~$500,000 income boost at work for the 5 years after I graduated. I also realized there was SO MUCH ELSE I could do besides finance that are fun and lucrative. But, the MBA is what you do make of it. It’s just a piece of paper at the end of the day.

      It’s been a joy to implement pricing, communications, finance, accounting, real estate, and entrepreneurship classes and case studies to real life.

      1. Stefan - The Millennial Budget

        I went straight into my MBA for two reasons:

        1) I need 150 credits to take the CPA exam so instead of doing bogus classes I decided to do an MBA as my university offers a one year program.

        2) I used to swim for my university so I knew that getting a GA scholarship would significantly reduce my cost. I actually just put a post up on this for my blog, in total I paid $2,605 for my MBA… Paid more for rent which I found rather funny.

        Glad to see that your MBA really paid off, I know I need to get a lot of experience before it pays off (not to mention it is irrelevant in public accounting) but in the long run it should be a factor. I also enjoyed learning about a wealth of other topics other than just accounting and finance, even though those were maybe 2/3 of my course.

    2. Can’t answer for Sam, but I went from making around $65k/yr total comp package to a bit under $300k now ~4 years post E-MBA @ UNC and still going up quickly. I was ~28 at the start of the program and the median age of joining the program was ~37. My response to admissions was the same as Sam’s; it helped I had our CEO, COO and 2 other execs write LOR for me (1 of whom was a graduate of the program). I think a lot of how many doors it opens depends on the quality of the program/network, the quality of your cohort itself, and how much you got out of the experience. JMHO.

  35. Sam your post does not take into account a number of contextual factors. A few examples:

    1) If one lives in a more socialistic society (i.e., Western Europe)… the concept of “freedom” differs greatly from the one you describe above. Government will take care of you (and take most of your earnings anyhow).

    2) No one knows how long they will live. What’s the value of financial freedom in your 40s/beyond if you’re dead? I’ve discovered many people with this belief.

    3) Nearly all evidence supports that more sleep = higher productivity, greater happiness and longer lifespans. Of course there are always outliers. But bell curves are bell curves.

    4) This last one has taken me a long time to accept… but a lot of people (in the 1st world) really just have no interest in money. If you are healthy, single and ESPECIALLY if you live in a 2nd tier (i.e. inexpensive) city… it’s really just not that hard to “pay the bills.” And that’s enough for a lot of people.

    While I largely agree with your post… context matters and I felt compelled to weigh in.


    1. I agree wholeheartedly with point (4). I observe people around me here in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, and I don’t see a passion for financial freedom. Why bust your ass if you can live in a beautiful, inexpensive area of the country without that much effort. Most people around here are content with just doing the bare minimum to pay the bill, and spend the rest of their time relaxing by the beach, drinking…etc. Life’s good.

      1. Exactly right? All about living the good life! If you can live the good life paycheck to paycheck, then that’s all the really matters. We got our parents to help support us as adults. We’ve got Social Security and big government support. We’ve got subsidized Universal Healthcare.

        All these reasons are why I decided to leave Corporate America in 2012. I no longer had as much fear that I would starve because I saw so many people do fine with so much less. It’s wonderful to pay less taxes too.

        What’s your situation?

    2. I agree. Life is so comfortable for many people in the US that there’s really no need to struggle so much for financial independence. Compared to so many other countries I’ve lived in and visited, America is like Disney Land.

      I’m bullish about America’s future because not only have Gen X accumulated a record amount of wealth, Gen Y will be able to inherit that record amount of wealth. Therefore, there’s really no reason to work so hard any more if you don’t want to.

      There’s only the occasional odd ball out there who wants to go straight to the corner office without putting in his or her dues. Very few people are that illogical.

      Here are some posts that support your thesis that life is good and there’s really no need to go above and beyond:

      What’s your current situation about life and finances?


      1. Single, 31, own a $165k 2 bdr condo in uptown with 5/1 arm at 3% in Atlanta and live alone. Income variable due to bonus but averages $185k+ benefits. For last few years I save 50-60% of my income and I don’t really budget. I’m sure I could save 65-70% if I has more hardcore about saving. I define financial freedom as either $5m in today’s dollars ($200k income at average 4% post-inflation market return) or $200k in STABLE passive income from whatever source(s). That said… I would prefer $400-$500k+ household annual income so I either have to keep moving up the ladder, marry well or start a profitable business. I don’t intend to retire but I suppose circumstances/perspectives could change.


  36. I agree that spending less money and being happy with less are all things we should strive for. But not everyone can work excessively, especially if they have family obligations such as children at home or a sick relative they take care of. I wish I could work a second job,but with a 4 month at home, it’s not currently an option for me. Some people can, but you learn the limits of your body when you become a parent .

  37. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    Excellent post!

    I agree with the misunderstanding of “sacrifice”. I would feel worse if I spent my hard earned cash by buying things I didn’t need.

    This feeling of “missing out,” is also what holds most people back. Not only are people comfortable with their level of consumption, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty with cutting back. Similar to starting a new diet, much of the “pain” is in that initial month. Once we get through that initial trial period, we see all the benefits and rewards related to eating healthy.

    Also, hilarious article on that group proposal from the interns. I’m surprised only one of them did not sign it.

    1. The intern situation was shocking. I wonder why they could think the way the did instead of just have a normal conversation with HR or something. Who would dare have the audacity to complain about semi-formal dress code? Why is this a hardship? And why would you have the audacity to complain? It can only be these reasons: you are rich enough to not need a job or have many other job opportunities.

      It can’t be because they are poor and clueless b/c that would be irrational. Only those who don’t have financial comforts would refuse to sign the petition. As a result, this is a VERY bullish indicator that everything will be OK due to a massive generational wealth transfer. Don’t you think?

      1. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

        I agree – I’ll add that I wouldn’t be surprised if the effort was led by a few rich kids and there were a few non-rich kids who were swept up in the group mentality before being burned.

  38. One of the things I have notice about my friends, is that that feel it is IMPOSSIBLE to save because life is expensive. They really can not consider the possibility of reducing their expenses, where I see lots of room for improvement in their budgets. It is really hard (apparently) to take that first step. I think the idea of sacrifice as a bad thing, paralyzes most of them.

    1. Maybe you can challenge them to a savings contest? Makes things fun! Let’s see who can save the most for one month. Once you know how much you can save, you know your boundaries.

  39. Mystery---Man

    The answer is quite simply that people (particularly Americans–and that new entitled breed called Millennials–considering my own unique perspective on them) are lazy idiots. The I.Q.’s are Dropping, probably thanks to endless advertisements and other Capitalistic woos Everywhere–that they Need Instant Gratification and therefore don’t think ahead; don’t think about Saving for the future or investing or setting anything aside. All they want to do is Spend Now.
    Their motivation is usually not practical either. It’s all about Status and trying to impress people. So instead of spending a moderate amount of money on a simple appliance they blow extra big bucks on a status-minded counterpart which they don’t need. There goes more of their money. With movies and TV flaunting the latest and greatest “toys” more and more morons are programmed to go out and get ’em. Even if they can’t afford ’em.
    It again all boils down to this simplistic, child-like “I need it Now!” and no one is willing to sacrifice, save, or even bother looking into low-price alternatives or discounts. Those who don’t save in a Capitalist society don’t prosper and Screw themselves. There’s no cure for Stupid.

    On the contrary, those who do save, penny-pinch, and utilize more barebones or practical items…are criticized as being cheapskates, poor, bums, etc.
    Just like yours truly here. Despite being financially independent (something which, had I told Them, they would think I was lying about anyway!).

    1. I wonder if really have grown soft since our country has grown rich. Is our country’s wealth the reason why most of us are obese? Does being wealthy mean being able to go to private school and study pottery instead of engineering? Perhaps it’s hard to blame millennials if they are expecting large financial windfalls for inheritance.

      Either way, I have hope that everything is rational. You either want it, and will do things to get it, or you don’t and are happy just the way things are.

  40. Spot on Sam! – I have an Electrical Engineering degree and have used it my whole career, but after two years in the workplace I decided to obtain a State Electricians license. Having this created the perfect side hustle where I could leverage my education to dip my toe into having my own business. I love being active in my own business and the vigor I get working on the job sites. Besides doing residential and commercial new construction, I do small jobs (add a ceiling fan here, add a receptacle there, etc) and in this I see a lot of softness out there to leverage. While I am humping it on an installation, there is usually a lot of internet surfing and TV watching going on by my customers. Although inherently not good for most, I will trade this desire for relaxation and sloth and make it good for my family and I through invoices and cash receipts. Thanks for your blog – I look forward to every post.

      1. Sam I missed that one – thank you for sharing. It is spot on some of the trades are easily making that income, union or non-union. I have encouraged my kids to follow a similar route (doubt they will) — weird thing is pretty soon, unless a keyboard and mouse is attached to it, very few will be able to do or try anything. Several things are for sure – water doesn’t make it in/poo does not make it out of our businesses or domiciles on its own. I believe electrical transmission of meaningful usefulness is a long way off – 3D printing of a livable home same timing…so the wires and pipes and the boards to hold it all up will have to be done by a person. The person willing to get his hands dirty and sweat a little to make the “ideas” come to fruition is really the winner – especially if they have the gumption to do it for a career and a side hustle – and just humbly keep on.

  41. Thanks for sharing this informative piece of content. Planning Finances is an inevitable task in today’s life. Starting it as early as possible is important too. Getting a Financial Diagnosis done, is definitely gonna help individuals in understanding where they stand in their Financial Life. The status of the Life goals and cash flows will give an idea on budgeting.

  42. Very inspirational post Sam! I think that too many people are afraid to pursue FI because it never occurred to them as being realistic or they are too afraid to fail. It’s scary to try and fail at something and much easier to just do what everyone else is doing and not worry about it!

    1. Why do you think people are so afraid to try, especially if they live in a cozy developed world like USA? The worst that happens is usually nothing. You don’t starve. You don’t stop gaining access to free information. You mostly just learn from your mistakes and try again.

      Do folks know why not many people from poorer countries choose to study more practical degrees and go into fields in higher demand? Because they are poorer, and don’t have the luxury to study art, writing, history, their own language, etc like we do in the US.

      1. Well, I spent many years in consumer marketing and I can tell you that 95% of Americans are hard-wired to live in the moment and not plan for the future. Not financial, not healthcare, not raising kids. That’s what the market research shows… Once you understand that, a lot of other things make sense. The big question is why?

  43. Believe Fire

    “What I guess is hard to understand is the “sacrifice” you make in your 20s and 30s is no sacrifice at all because you’re setting yourself up for a life of freedom in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.”

    Love this and wish the masses could understand it. I think the attitude that it’s a sacrifice to take care of your own future is the biggest problem preventing people from achieving financial freedom.

    We’re blogging and trying to learn how to leverage the internet. We’re also traveling and learning about other cultures.

    I think just about everyone takes some things for granted. I know we’re guilty of this. We should all be more thankful and appreciate for what we have.

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