Financial Samurai 2016 Year In Review: Better Lucky Than Good

Financial Samurai 2016 Year In Review
Art by

It's always fun to do a year in review post because it's interesting to review all the failures! I'm always so enthusiastic about my goals during the beginning of the year and I inevitably lose steam towards the end. Does this happen to any of you? Let's dive into my 2016 year in review.

For 2016, I had 15 goals divided into business goals, personal goals, and personal financial goals. If we can do just one important thing a month, we'll all become superstars over time.

I didn't believe this year would be any good due to my less than enthusiastic outlook for the stock market, real estate market, startup ecosystem, and my own personal business. After all, 2015 eked out just a ~1% total return if you include dividends. But of course as we all now know, everything turned out lollipops and cotton candy!

Let's go through why it's always better to be lucky than good as I reflect on my 2016 year in review.

Business Goals – 2016 Year In Review

1) Test out a new layout for FS so that more articles can be seen above the fold.

Pass. I went from a two column layout to a three column layout with just titles and no snippets to get more articles on the homepage. Having three columns and multiple different category blocks has also given me more flexibility to play around with what gets shown on the homepage. Thanks Eric from Personal Profitability for helping me with the redesign and Colleen from Kong Savage Art House for a cool new mask and banner design.

2) Produce another FS product e.g. book, course, subscription product. 

Fail. I'm not sure why I didn't get this done. Laziness is the most obvious reason. I do have a new FS Forum with a subscription section for accredited investors ready to go. But I'm hesitant to launch the paid option because managing a forum takes a lot of work. Forums also open up my site to vulnerabilities and attract thousands of spammers.

Producing online products is a more efficient way to generate passive income than amassing capital to invest for an equal amount of passive income once you've developed a platform. For example, it will take $250,000 in capital to generate ~$10,000 a year in gross passive income through a California muni bond portfolio. Or I could very easily generate $20,000 a year in gross passive income by spending three months writing another book, with no downside except for my time. Now that I've finished writing my 2016 year in review it's time to get to work!

Best Passive Income Rankings
Best Passive Income Rankings

Related: Ranking The Best Passive Income Streams – Five Factor Model

3) Inject more humor.

Probably a fail. I used to be funny once, I swear! Now, it seems like I'm getting a little saltier with age because I see so many more head scratching situations that make me go hmmm. The funny posts such as, Stay At Home Men Of The World, UNITE!, have all but gone away for more serious subjects. I like to poke fun at serious trends while offering some solutions as well. Feel free to let me know what other topics you'd like me to write more about for 2017.

Here are some posts with humor:

Predicting The Future To Get Rich – Who doesn't love a good Back To The Future reference?

Things I'll Teach My Daughter: Ignore His Car, Find His House – Instead of the classic overprotective dad with a shotgun image, I decided to go a more intellectual route to save all females from heartbreak and financial disaster.

How To Get A Job You Do Not Deserve – Everybody knows these three archetypes at work. But now I've got names for them!

4) Open up a digital wealth management (robo-advisor) account and publish its performance. 

Fail. I was told I was not allowed to open up an account and write about the performance. Given I already researched and wrote about them, it would have been a shame to take down my work. But if I did invest capital with either firm, I would have been up a decent amount because of the ramp in the stock market.

I hope you guys who are using digital wealth advisors are enjoying the low fees and the simplicity of building an after-tax investment account through regular automatic contributions. If I was in my 20s and early 30s, using a roboadvisor to invest 20%+ of my after tax, after 401k maximum contribution is exactly what I would be doing. I wasted too much time trying to pick individual positions that either didn't make money, distracted me from my job, and/or gave me a lot of stress when I was younger.

Building wealth is all about having a regular contribution system over a long period of time. Allocate no more than 10% of your investable assets to trying to pick individual stocks if you must. The biggest problem retail investors have is not knowing how to manage risk. When you aret doing your own 2016 year in review, assess how you're doing with risk management and adjust accordingly.

Related: The Proper Asset Allocation Of Stocks And Bonds By Age

5) Focus on profitability, rather than growth. 

Pass. Because private startups were getting crushed in 4Q2015, I took a very cautious approach to running my online business for 2016. Instead of spending aggressively, which I hardly do, I decided to optimize what I had instead. Think about an online business like a train with 10 empty carts. You can load as much or as little as you want. Either way you're burning the same amount of fuel and you'll get to the same destination at roughly the same time. You might as well optimize by loading up them carts!

My quarterly business off sites in places like Oahu, Hungary, Budapest, Austria, France, and Palm Springs this year really paid off. On every offsite, my team and I focused on what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we need to improve upon. The decisions have led to roughly a 35% increase in revenue based on existing traffic compared to expectations for flat to negative 10% growth.

I'm always surprised by the revenue upside from many bloggers of different genres. Here's a real example of a food blogging couple who are absolutely crushing it.

How much can a food blogger make
Example of a real food blogger's monthly income statement


How To Start Your Own Website

Why Start A Business? For A Better Life Of Course


6) Live in Asia for one month. Target locations: Chiang Mai, Beijing, Taipei, Saigon.

Fail. My team and I had a great time visiting Malaysia, S. Korea, Cambodia, and Taiwan in 2015, but we didn't return to Asia this year. Instead, we went on the Hapsburg Trail (Prague, Vienna, Budapest) and ended up in Paris for the French Open thanks to a friend's generosity.

I wanted to check out Chiang Mai because that's the most cited place to be amongst digital nomads. Beijing or Taipei would have been nice because I could practice my Mandarin. Saigon would have been cool because I've never been. Oh well. It didn't make it into my 2016 year in review, but maybe sometime in the future.

Prague was a wonderful little town where I met up with a reader over some cold brew. Vienna was a pleasant place that felt extremely wealthy and a little artificial. Budapest was much more gritty, but had some amazing outdoor baths. Out of the three cities, I would choose Budapest as a place to live for several months a year.

Financial Samurai visiting Budapest 2016
Visting Budapest and almost jumping into the Danube river at sunset 2016
Financial Samurai in Vienna
Vienna At Night! First place winner of the FS photo contest run by me :P
Turkish Bath Financial Samurai
Turkish Bath at Gellert Hotel, Budpest – My favorite!

Related: The Best Way To Travel For Free And Lower Your Taxable Income

7) Finish the deck off the master bedroom and do some landscaping to improve curb appeal.

Pass. Ever since I was a kid, I've weirdly dreamed of having a deck facing the ocean off my bedroom. There's something about being able to wake up, walk outside, and stretch to the heavens while breathing the crisp morning air that I just love. And of course, there's nothing more pleasant than watching the sunset with a glass of wine. In 2016, I finally was able to fulfill this little dream. The deck turned out much better than expected.

I decided to delay professional landscaping for a year given the deck, retaining wall, new header, and sliding doors took six months to complete because my contractor is an organizational mess. I'm still waiting for final inspection from the city if you can believe it. For landscaping, we did plant some nice succulents in the front and back of the house, decorated the deck, and removed some old shrubs on the side of the house.

Financial Samurai Deck 1
On a foggy morning before opening up the wall of my master bedroom.
Financial Samurai Deck
Bam! Let the sun come in!
Financial Samurai Deck Remodeling
I'm so pumped about the results. In fact, I just spent a couple hours on the deck yesterday sunbathing in the middle of winter!


Should I Buy A Fixer Upper?

Practice Taking Profits To Pay For Life

8) Get rid of all the old clothes I haven't worn in over a year.

Pass. I continued to give plenty of clothes and other things away after downsizing to my current house in 2014. I recently sold three Persian rugs over Craigslist because we're trying to have a beach theme since we have ocean views. They were just sitting there collecting dust in my garage. I was able to get this beautiful blue tonal rug from Pottery Barn that actually matches the color of the ocean. This was a big 2016 year in review win. Score!

Even though I'm dreaming of a sweet house in Honolulu one day, I'm all about enjoying the simple life now. Downsizing to my current smaller house in 2014 was the right move. It's a joy to travel for weeks on end with just my backpack. It feels wonderful to have less stuff. Giving away things I don't often use to people who would use them more often is a better allocation of resources.

Related: Always Dream Of Living The Dream

9) Attend at least four world class tennis tournaments.

Semi-pass. I went to two world class tennis tournaments. The first was attending the BNP Paribas Indian Wells tournament with two other couples. We rented a house with a sweet pool and hot tub and went out every evening for some good eats. I hope we get to do more couple retreats in the future.

The second world class tournament was the French Open, even though the tickets cost $550 each for the second round! We got there right before the floods. Finally, I attended three other tennis tournament events around the SF Bay Area as well. I decided to skip the US Open in NYC this year because I was tired of traveling.

Financial Samurai at French Open 2016
Watching John Isner beat Kyle Edmund in the 2nd round at the 2016 French Open up close

10) End the year at under 163 lbs and win at least two 5.0 level tennis matches. 

FAIL. I went from around 167 lbs at the beginning of the year up to 173 lbs. Now I'm back to where I started at about 167-168 lbs.  My doctor says I should be closer to 150 – 155 lbs at 5'10”. I think I've got to get over my desire to be as thin and ripped as I was in high school and college. We ~40 year old men aren't supposed to be ripped, unless we're unemployed and have nothing better to do than to workout for three hours a day. Wait a minute….  that could be me! So long as I'm feeling healthy and can play 2+ hours of tennis at a time, I'm happy.

In the greatest losing streak of my tennis career, I ended up not winning a single match at 5.0 this year after seven tries. It was pretty disheartening because I was always partnered with a 4.5 player or a weak 5.0 player against two solid 5.0s. But I came close to winning with a couple tie-breakers and three set matches. I could have given up after my first two matches when I realized the team I joined wasn't going to be filled with 5.0 players as the captain promised. But I kept on battling anyway because I just love to play.

The crazy thing is, even after all my losses, the computer system still didn't bump me down to 4.5! They argued that because I had very close matches with a 4.5 against two 5.0s, I am indeed a 5.0. If you guys say so. Now I've got to do some selling this year to try and get on a legitimate 5.0 team to get better partners. Post coming as this failure truly got me down. I was quite bummed about this when reflecting on my 2016 year in review.

See: Track Everything! We're Eating And Spending Way Too Much


11) Don't go back to work full-time unless the work AND pay are amazing. 

Pass. Due to perpetual worry the good times can't last forever, I got in the habit of looking for new jobs in the 4th quarter for the past four years. The idea was to find suitable work at a reasonable salary in case my finances fall apart. But this year, I only interviewed at one company for a full-time position after a headhunter pinged me out of the blue. I wasn't looking for a job at the time. I obliged to meet up so I could network, learn more about the life insurance startup space, and find a new story to write on FS. Too bad a couple of the founders turned out to be pricks. I've got a great post coming about my terrible experience you won't want to miss!

I'm happy to say my desire for going back to work has continued to fade even more. At the end of 2015, I had roughly a 20% desire to go back to work to do something fun and new. Now, this desire has declined to about 5%. I always keep the window slightly open just in case a great opportunity comes my way. But this life insurance startup I met with really turned me off to full time employment.

Perhaps now that I'm done with my 2016 year in review I'm complacent about the new year, doom will follow! Sorry folks if the world falls apart in 2017.

12) Increase net worth by $500,000.

Pass. I thought 2016 was going to be a slightly negative year for the stock market, and it was for several months when the S&P 500 was down 10% in February and sold off again post Brexit. I was anticipating a ~$300,000 decline in the value of my existing assets, which required an $800,000+ increase in new income and business growth to get to my net worth growth target of $500,000. But 2016 turned out to be another bull market! Therefore, about 25% of my net worth went up about 10% thanks to the stock market.

For real estate, Zillow revalued a rental property up by $350,000 alone. The weird thing is, you can't see the $350,000 jump in the chart below. It's as if the entire algorithm changed without telling anyone. I didn't edit any of the details all year either. Sadly, Zillow is wrong about this property's valuation. Instead of $3.3M, I'm thinking the realistic selling price is only about $2.5M. So perhaps the property appreciated from $2.35M to $2.5M in 2016 for a 6.3% gain. But it definitely didn't appreciate from $2.98M to $3.33M this year. If it has, I need to raise the rent from $9,000 to $10,000 a month when the lease is up!

Zillow property zestimate jump financial samurai
Home bought for $1.52M at the end of 2004, closed in early 2005.

Zillow then downgraded another property I own by about $130,000 without showing the drastic fall because a neighbor with a similar layout recently sold for my new Zillow estimate price of ~$1.57M. It had been showing ~$1.7M until October. The thing is, the neighbor needs about $400,000 of work to get to my house's condition because it is a total dump. I checked it out twice because I was considering buying it to remodel, but there was just too much demand so I didn't bother. You can't trust Zillow and its estimates because they don't know the condition of your house.

Overall, my real estate portfolio increased about 5% as the SF property market slowed down given a dearth of liquidity events. I'm anticipating continued softness until Uber, Airbnb, or Pinterest goes public. Then it's off to the races again because San Francisco is one of the cheapest international cities in the world. Based on my debt level, 5% return is more like a 9% return on cash. In other words, it would have been better if I levered up more.

If I was a corrupt foreign government official trying to extract money out of my homeland, I'd be buying San Francisco real estate all day long. Starting pay packages for 22-23 year old college graduates are now ~$100,000 a year. The incomes here support our real estate prices, unlike in places like Vancouver.

Zillow zestimate decline Financial Samurai
A $130,000 downward revision due to a fixer that sold nearby. The fixer needs about $350K – $400K to match my house condition.

13) Finally achieve my $200,000 a year passive income goal.

Pass. I estimate about $211,000 in passive income for 2017 after consistently earning about $17,600 a month in passive income in the second half of 2016. It was looking shaky in May because I had to find new tenants for my 2/2 condo rental property. My existing tenants of three years decided to give me their 30 days notice two weeks before I was going to Europe for three weeks. Bad timing!

I was strongly considering selling the condo to simplify life back then. Now that I have tenants, I'm less restless about selling, but still undecided on whether I would have been happier if I had sold. I'm weird because I actually like visiting the condo every time there's an issue because it gives me an excuse to physically enjoy my asset instead of just collect a rent check.

It makes me happy to see an asset I bought around my 26th birthday. The period between 1999 – 2003 was very stressful due to the long work hours in NYC, the trauma of 911, the move to SF where I didn't know anyone, the move to a new firm, and the constant layoffs in the financial services industry after the dotcom bust. This rental condo represents perseverance. Every time I visit, it always reminds me that good things generally come out of hard work.

From now on, I've decided to do a mid-year passive income update because it motivates me to do more things. Doing a 1x review like this 2016 year in review is really helpful, but I think passive income deserves a more frequent look. I've already got two things I plan to accomplish in 1H2017 that may boost passive income by $2,000 a month.

Financial Samurai Passive Income 2017
Financial Samurai Passive Income Streams 2017

See: A Long Road Home: Finally Achieving My Three Year Passive Income Goal In Five Years

14) Start hacking away at my vacation property mortgage.

Pass. I paid down an extra $21,000 of my 4.25%, 30-year fixed, Lake Tahoe vacation property mortgage. The amortization table says there's 20 years, 4 months left to go (sigh), but I plan to pay it off in 10 years or less. I've stopped aggressively paying down my two other mortgages because the rates are at 2.5% and 2.375%. With the 10-year bond yield at ~2.5%, it doesn't make sense to pay down mortgage rates that are lower than the risk-free rate.

Lake Tahoe mortgage must die in 10 years!

Related: Mortgage Pay Down Strategies In A Rising Interest Rate Environment

15) Set up a new car fund.

Pass. I created a mid-life crisis fund at the beginning of the year so that I can buy my mid-life crisis car in 2017. The fund is almost fully loaded and I'm just waiting to find that perfect vehicle for a great price. I'm pretty sure I'll have a mid-life crisis for at least one month before I turn 40 where I'll go vegan, start working out 5X a week, and look for validation that I'm still a desirable man. Then I'll turn 40 and realize life is the same as it ever was.

For those of you who went through a mid-life crisis, let me know how it went and what you did to deal with such a funny scenario. With Carrie Fisher dying at 60, George Michael dying at 53, and Prince dying at 57, it's worth living it up if you have the means.


Out of 15 goals, I failed at four, and was unsure about two. That means I got a grade of 60% – 73%, or a F to C-. Whoo hoo! Now you know why I couldn't get into a prestigious private school. I'm so happy with mediocrity!

The main financial takeaway from this report is that it's better to be lucky than good. I thought the stock market would be down marginally and robotic Hillary would win the election due to demographic trends and freebies for the middle class. Instead, Trump won, the stock market is up more than 10% and there's potentially a huge corporate tax cut down to 15% in 2017, just in time for my business to take advantage. Further, interest rates finally spiked after I locked in my refinance, so I can finally build a municipal bond portfolio to live for free. What luck!

When you invest for the long term, you start getting luckier with your investments. When you keep on grinding with your business, you'll inevitably stumble across business opportunities you could not have possibly foreseen. Out of my existing 2016 business revenue, roughly 25% of it was created without any anticipation.

What I'm most happy about for 2016 is that I didn't quit writing. It's so easy to slack off when you're already content. Conversely, it's so much easier to work hard when your back is against the wall and you've got no safety net. I've got to figure out how to create that consistent sense of urgency as I grow older.

Finally, things are going well on the family front. My parents are alive and healthy, home life is good, and I've strengthened existing friendships. Good relationships are priceless. I'm not sure why my restlessness and boredom have faded away, but it no longer gets old having lots of freedom like it did when I was 35.

Almost every other day, my wife and I go through this silly little skit. We know what we are going to say, but we say it anyway.

Me: Hey guess what?

Her: What?!

Me: There's no work tomooooorrow. There's no work tomooooorrow.

Her: Yay! 

In unison we start singing and dancing: There's no work tomooooorrow.

Then we hug and figure out our day. I know it's silly, but laughing every day while doing silly stuff is what happiness means to us.

If you're curious, here are my goals and outlook for 2017, my actual 2017 results, 2018 year in review, and 2019 look back, and my 2020 recap.

114 thoughts on “Financial Samurai 2016 Year In Review: Better Lucky Than Good”

  1. Great post. As we look at our goals for 2017, we are looking for the best way to grow our investments, tax free. My spouse is self-employed and we are interested in an SEP because we can contribute more annually than a traditional IRA. As a highly compensated employee myself, I am limited in how much I can contribute to my company 401k each year, therefore limiting how much in total I can save in tax sheltered accounts such as an IRA. Since our adjusted gross income prevents us from even getting normal tax right off advantages for an IRA, we are trying to research best approach to SEP’s or any other products that may help shelter investment dividends or cap gains from taxes each year

  2. My biggest goal in 2017 is to pay myself a small amount from my business every month. December 2016 was the first time my business paid me. The other goal is to finally perfect the skill I’ve been building for the past year and use that skill to double my pay at my full-time job.

  3. Fiscally Free

    I have a similar little skit I’ve been doing the past week. I sarcastically say something like, “It sure is miserable being home and getting to eat breakfast with my family.” Then we laugh and laugh.

    This year has been pretty good for us, but it has also been very busy and a little stressful. Once we sell our house and move, 2017 should be a breeze.

  4. I’d say that 2016 has been quite the successful year for FS, whether you attribute it to the hustle or the luck. Great content with nice detailed analyses each time.

    It’s impressive how you’ve been able to keep a good amount of your funds in fixed growth like CDs. Nice way to diversify.

  5. Sam, you probably get a lot of this, but I haven’t seen any comments like it so I don’t know for sure. DO you ever partner with other Blogs in a similar niche? For instance, another blog which you trust asks to pay for an ad on your website? Thanks! Also, as a long time reader, I am consistently surprised at the level of detail and the amount of content you post. This post is no exception!

  6. Sam, congrats on a stellar year of lucky windfalls. ;) Isn’t it amazing how your hard work keeps paying you over and over?

    I can’t complain much either about this year, but now I’m not sure where to allocate the lucky money I pulled out of the market. You like muni-bonds, right?

    BTW, your deck is incredible! What an awesome place to get over your tennis losses this year…heh.

    Wishing you and your wife a wonderful new year in 2017. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Michael! Yes, I’ve been allocating the large majority of my money to municipal bonds in December once the 10-year bond yield got to 2.5%. I’ll take a 4.4% gross yield. That’s much better than my mortgage!

      Related: The Case For Bonds and The Allure Of Zero Coupon Municipal Bonds

      I can’t see interest rates going over 3% for the 10-year. Otherwise, the consumer is going to get squeeeezed, and the economy will start slowing again. Yin yang!

      Have a great NY!

  7. You really hit a home run on your $5K a month real estate property….Insane.

    Seems like you don’t need so much money in CD’s any more, you can afford the risk.

    Great job!

    1. That property really is lucky, and I wish Zillow was right! Too bad it is way overestimating its value. Feels good on paper, but I know it’s not real. All I know that’s real is the $9,000 gross rent it generates a month and that the building is still standing (just drove by last week)!

      A big CD slug expires Feb 2017 and I’m going to be reinvesting a lot of it in real estate crowdsourcing through RealtyShares. I’ve done a ton of due diligence, and feel comfortable. Posts about the sector will be plenty in 2017!


  8. My goal for 2017 is to save more.

    “Feel free to let me know what other topics you’d like me to write more about for 2017.”

    I have an idea. How does a typical family of four save 50-75% of their after tax income? I have seen you throw these number out repeatedly; however, it just doesn’t seem possible. Mortgage, food, clothes, youth sports, and insurance alone with two teenagers is a huge figure. Of course, total income is an obvious factor. For example, I’m sure it’s a lot easier to save 50% of 300K then it is 50% of 100K, etc. Do you count mortgage principal as savings? If not, it seems even more impossible. 200K generates about $10,500-$11,000 after tax income per month (after pension contributions/403b/health insurance, etc.). Can’t seem to get anywhere close to saving $5,250-$5,500 of the after tax income with a 10yr mortgage and two teenage children living in California.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. It’s very hard to save more than 50% of one’s after tax income with a family of four. I’d start with maxing out both 401ks if both of you work, and then try and save an additional 20% after that. If you want to count your principal paydown as savings, that’s up to you.

      Just make sure the amount of money you are saving each month HURTS. Otherwise, I don’t think you are saving enough.

      If money is tight, then the key is to build more income streams. The amount of income growth is endless. It really was after I started aggressively investing in income generating assets AND working on my online business did my savings rate started hitting 75%.

      See: How To Make Six Figures And Still Not Feel Rich – $200,000 A Year Income Edition

      1. sam,

        how much did you make with your side hustle driving for Uber. Would you recommend it?

        1. I recommend it for the sign up bonus. The bonuses vary. For example, in SF they are offering $750 for new drivers who complete 30-50 rides within one month. So you make the $750 and you earn ~$15-20/hour net for 10-20 hours of work (3.5 rides per hour). So in other words, you can make $1,000+ in 2 days. That’s pretty good for most people. Sometimes, the signup bonuses go as high as $1,200 (last year).

          Driving regular is NOT a great use of time or money IMO. I only switch on my Uber driver app when I’m going somewhere and have time. I enter my destination so the app can try and find someone along the way to pick up. For example, I always turn on the app when going to the airport or south bay. I’ll usually make $10 – 30 on the way, spending 5-10 extra minutes doing so. If I can make another $10 – $30 on the way back, I’ve paid for a month of gas.

          The other thing is, you can only make driver referral money if you are a driver. That’s the passive income portion of driving, which I was hoping would do well. But I just lost interest after a while. Here’s mine if you plan to sign up for the bonus.


          How To Make $100 An Hour Driving For Uber

          Why I No Longer Drive For Uber
          Spoiled And Clueless? Try Working A Minimum Wage Job As An Adult

          Good luck! It’s fun in the beginning and gets old, like most things. I signed up my wife and drove for her to collect a $1,000 bonus last year. That was fun. Only needed to give 20 rides :)

  9. The Wealthy Accountant

    I have been reading your blog for a while now, Sam, and felt it was time to comment on your year-end review. I love honest year-end reviews of successes, but you also show where you missed or had a near miss. Your goals are also interesting. (Wanting to be funnier is an interesting goal.)

    Money goals always pique my curiosity. As an accountant I see people from all walks of life and income levels. Net worth and income goals are great. Not many have a passive income goal (including yours truly). Providing personal financial details as you do is more than I would be comfortable with, but enjoy reviewing your numbers as a way to gauge my own newish blog and personal financial situation.

    Keep sharing your insights; they are fun/informative/educational reading. You have a stalker from this neck of the woods you can count on for some traffic.

    Happy New Year! Be safe.

    1. Didn’t know you read my site. Cool.

      I’ve been working on my passive income goal since 2012 when it was about $70,000 – $80,000. Hence, I feel comfortable sharing since it’s been almost five years and it’s only been once a year. It’s not that special of an amount as a 40 year old man living in expensive SF I don’t think. if I was 35 or younger with $200,000, that may be a different story. It’s been a long road that I’ve consistently worked on.

      If it ever gets much greater than $250,000… then I’ll probably just wind down the series. Because after $250,000, who cares. It’s enough to be happy, even in expensive SF!

      Happy holidays!


  10. I am a novice and have a quick question about assessing one’s wealth.

    My property value according to Zillow increased to 1,100,000 this year. However, I plan to live in the home for the next 15 years.

    If I don’t plan to withdraw equity from the home or sell it, did I really increase my wealth this year. I don’t consider my house a liquid asset…

  11. Sam,

    I noticed that you have dividend income from a “Pre-Tax” account in your list of passive income streams. Is this money actually usable? Or are you just counting it because you could access it if you needed to? Just curious thanks!

    1. Good question. The money is NOT usable until after age 59.5. But, I reduce the money by 25% to account for taxes. It’s just accounting. But, it is real money all the same.

      Given I don’t have to live off my passive income anymore due to my business income, and given if I had to live off my passive income I live on less than the amount, I include the income.

      1. I was thinking you might say X% is taken out for taxes. It wouldn’t be accurate otherwise. Thanks!

  12. Thanks for the detailed update Sam. This was a great post. Like you, I’ve tried to set goals in all different areas of my life. I find it helps keep the happiness consistent when you’re advancing you agenda on a variety of fronts. For the most part, I achieved what I sought out to by keeping careful records and planning weekly and monthly activities that laddered up to my bigger picture goals. Cheers!!

  13. Brian Robben

    Adding the deck was a brilliant move. I love the view and what you did with it—big win.

    And I’m pumped to see your 2017 goals! They always motivate me as a blogger and personal finance nerd.

  14. Hi Sam

    If you need any advice or help on increasing your affiliate marketing income, I can always give you a 2nd opinion as I’ve worked in the affiliate industry for 15+ years. It’s the least I can do for all the information that I have learned from your blog.

  15. CARS, CARS, CARS…..The midlife car need not be a budget buster. Check out, really cool used cars with a lot of backstory and interesting discussion. Bought a miata for my wife’s 45th here.

  16. Sam, when you mention Rental Property 1 income as $66,708 for 2017 is that after repairs or is this just the rent you receive after PITI?

    1. Yes, the figure is a roughly net estimate after all expenses. It will go down as repairs go up. I’m holding a $17,000 rental deposit from them that I will use to make repairs if anything is damaged. The tenants aren’t that responsible, unfortunately. But I’m going in for a quarterly check on Jan 2 b/c a new tenant roommate is moving in.

  17. I like your new layout. Looks like a magazine.

    You mentioned the goal to spend a month in Asia. Any reason Hong Kong isn’t on your list of potential places? Maybe you’ve already been there before?

    I spent two weeks there this year and a week and a half there last year, and I love it! Depending on where you stay, you can literally walk out of a hotel, hop on a train, get off the train, hike up a mountain for hours, hike back down, get on the train, and go back to your hotel room, all without a car. The combo of hiking opportunities and an awesome metropolis is awesome.

    1. Hong Kong is fun, but I went there for 10 years in a row because of the Hong Kong rugby sevens boondoggle tournament. I wanted to go to a new place a place where I could practice my Mandarin.

      At least I checked out new places in Europe so that was really fun.

  18. about to turn 42. 3 months ago i bot a certified pre owned tesla for 59k. zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds. sold my 2003 acura mdx for 3.5k. i am cheap, but surprisingly don’t regret this. do it.

    1. Good to know that all is well going to a 16X more expensive car! I did that as well in 2014 when I went from a 2000 Land Rover Discover II that was worth ~$2,000 to a $20,000 Honda Fit. It felt great and I asked myself how come I didn’t upgrade earlier w/ all the creature comforts like Bluetooth.

      I’ve got my car fund positioned for a $60,000 cash expense in 2017. Let’s do this!

  19. I’m glad you continued you to write in 2016 as well FS! As a 24 yo working in finance in NYC, reading your site is a constant reminder of the importance of hard work, grinding while young, and not settling for complacency. Cheers to 2017.

  20. Hi Sam,

    That sense of urgency!! I remember when I had it. I was up at 04:00 AM worked 12 to 18 hours per day. I went to bed thinking about how to do it better the next day. Little by little I did better and better. With success I lost the urgency. Wish I could get it back!! Any ideas let me know. Thanks, read your posts religiously.

    1. Howdy KLR,

      4am is impressive! I started at about 5am for 10 years, then went to 5:30am, now am grinding starting at 6am on average. Gotta do some work before the stock market opens at 6:30am PST right?

      I know what it is that will bring back the sense of urgency. The answer is providing for a family. I’ve felt this way ever since I was in middle school when I noticed my mother was really stressed at work. All I wanted to do was make enough to be financially independent and let her retire earlier.

  21. That deck just rocks. Mixed emotions about a new year in our family! The youngest finishes high school and then we’ll have the “empty nest”. Lots of exciting decisions ahead though – downsize, keep working, travel, etc… just have to keep focused on our health so we can enjoy whatever lies ahead! Love the end of the post “laughing every day while doing silly stuff is what happiness means to us” – that’s a no cost win for both of you every day of your lives! Great stuff and looking forward to more of what you’ll share with us in 2017!

    1. Congrats on the empty nest! Although, tell me, is it a somewhat melancholic feeling? I ask b/c I feel somewhat sad writing this post b/c it just means that it’s one less year of my life to enjoy.

      Love to laugh :)

  22. Sounds like a great year to me even if it sounds mediocre to you. That French open picture looks amazing. I was able to get to Wimbledon a few years ago; it was an amazing experience. I’m sure Roland Garros is special in it’s own way. Hopefully I make it to France and Australia and complete the grand slam one day.

    I’ve had a long-term goal to make it to 4.5 by the time I turned 30. I started hitting with a few really good players about 4 years ago, and I’ve been steadily climbing the USTA ratings. Finally got the bump to 4.5 at the beginning of the month (I’m 28). Never imagined I would make it this far.

    And congrats on staying a 5.0! We have very few of players at that level in New England, so that must mean you competed quite well!

    1. Whoo hoo! Congrats on getting bumped to 4.5. I think 4.5 is the BEST level to play in. Some good players that will give you a challenge. Everybody has a decent game, and it’s a level where you know you can get comfortable in, even if you didn’t play college.

      In 5.0, it’s kinda brutal b/c 90% of the players played in college. Big serves and consistent all around. Further, many of them are also in their early 20s too, which isn’t a problem for you, but it is more for old folks like me! :)

      Let me know how 4.5 goes! Maybe we can hit some time.

  23. There´s no work tomoooooorrow hahaha! , I can really picture you both saying that so happy!

    Im about to turn 22 for now i am just investing monthly in the stock market (for my retirement haha), and been reading your posts since 2-3 years, and I feel like im about to really start my journey to financial freedom and with all your posts is literally like having you as a teacher and has been great to learn many things from your own experiences!

    CONGRATS for all your achievements this year!!

    continue with the good job FinSam Thanks!

    and HAPPY NEW YEAR! ;)

    1. Wow, to be 22 again. Almost 18 years ago for me. Cherish every moment. It goes by quick. Don’t take anything for granted either. Listen, learn, respect your elders. They know more than they are letting on. So much easier in life when you avoid the pitfalls just by learning from someone who has been there.


  24. Nice tennis goals! As a fellow ~40 year old it’s great to see the passion. If you’re a Federer fan (who can’t be haha) follow FedFan ( and @FedererFan07). The guy puts up great stuff with news and updates, especially at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

    1. Cool, will check it out! I’ve got a one-handed backhand as well, just like Fed. I have dreams of being secretly as good so I can wipe my opponents out. Always good to dream!

  25. You’re still buying the home in Hawaii, right? ;)

    My wife and I have a similar routine — especially on Sunday nights/Monday mornings. I usually point out to her that all our friends are dying now because they have a full week of work ahead of them. Ha!

    BTW, is the sundeck open to visitors?

    1. One day. Just not today.

      Yes, sun deck is open to visitors. I think it can hold a maximum of 30, 200lbs people evenly dispersed. But best not to test it out with more than 10 folks!


  26. Physician on FIRE

    I would say 2016 was good to you, or that you were good to yourself in 2016, or some combination thereof. My goal for 2016 was to start a blog; that was pretty much it. I need to set loftier goals for 2017.

    I should probably start with writing and submitting that guest post! I also would like to keep my weight under 170, and I’ve been bouncing around that same range as you.

    Cheers to a happy and productive 2017, with fewer of the good celebrities dying!

    1. Starting your own site and sticking w/ it is a lofty goal. But it gets easier over time.

      No rush for a guest post. The queue is like 30 posts deep. So feel free to procrastinate even longer!! Actually, I don’t even remember what your proposed topic is about. Let’s decide that before u exert any energy.


      1. Physician On FIRE

        Give me a procrastinator’s inch and I’ll take a mile. You can look forward to reviewing it in 2019! I can always publish on my own site if you don’t love it.


  27. Hey Sam,

    I’ve been reading your blog since 2012 and it’s been fun to see your style and content evolve over time. Looks like 2017 will be a great year, hitting your goal of 200k passive income!

    For me, here are my 2016 goals:

    Read 20 books – Pass
    Code 3 hours per week – Pass, switched jobs to a quant role using SAS
    Work out 12 times per month – Pass
    Meet 12 people for coffee – Not really a pass or fail – informal coffees shouldn’t count in this
    Play basketball twice a month – Pass
    Walk along 15 different lakes – Fail, only 12…
    See Family twice a month – Pass
    Call Grandparents once a month – Fail
    Cook something 4 times a week – Pass
    Save $20,000 cash – Fail due to buying a car with cash, cash-in refinancing, and landscaping (next year I have the potential to save $40k or more)

    In 2017, I want to start up a blog, continue to save money, and keep working on being wealthly, healthly, and full of life.

    Here’s to the new year :)

    1. Call grandma more! You won’t regret it!

      Thanks for reading since 2012. Folks always ask whether I run out of topics. No way. There’s so many things to talk. It’s endless!

      Launching your own website may turn out to be the very best thing you could ever do.

  28. If you’re looking for more income opportunities, perhaps a book on real estate investing? I would be interested to learn more about it from you.

  29. Congratulations on all the goals you knocked out of the park and my sympathies for those that in turn kicked your ass. Clearly, you won far more than you lost though, so yay. And that deck is to die for.

    I had a fantastic 2016. 2016 is the year I discovered FIRE, started my blog, and even had a two week period where our investments made more money than we did at our jobs! I have just upped our savings goals for 2017. Life is good. A very Happy New Year to you and yours.

    1. Haha, yeah. Tough thing to swallow getting your ass kicked 7X in a row! But so close with three of the matches. Frustrating!

      Gotta love it when your investments make more than your day job yeah? That means you guys have a hefty portfolio now!

      It’s easy for me, since I’m unemployed.

  30. Jack Catchem

    Hey Sam!

    I had mixed success on my personal goals this year.

    1) daily reading: Bible/Economist Espresso
    2) daily workout: fail. Only working out approximately every other day. Something to prioritize next year!
    3) daily violin practice: fail. I work 12 hour days 3 days a week on patrol and often have overtime. There’s just no time! On the upside I have been keeping up on all non-work days and can now play “Sur le Fil” by Yann Tiersen. It’s awesome! Maybe next year I’ll make detective or just work harder.
    4) weekly blog post: huge success! I’ve been as regular as a metronome with Tuesday/Thursday publishing. Destroyed that goal.
    5) weekly Economist read: success! It’s all been on audio while I clean the house, chase the kids, and deliver everyone everywhere, but this was accomplished.
    6) weekly church: fail. It largely depends on my work schedule. Since I work weekends, there’s often no service available during my off hours! I was successful for perhaps half the year, but this should be better.

    My basic intent is to do some positive training for my body, mind, and soul each day and each week. I don’t care if it’s religion or philosophy, but I believe everyone should regularly consider the existential.

    Anyway, I’m glad I discovered your blog, Sam. It’s great and I’m excited to see how it and you continue to expand and develop. Especially with all the recent cliffhangers: flirting with employment, considering abandon San Francisco, selling real estate? This is more stressful than watching Downton Abbey. Which I never watched. Especially after Season 2.

    1. Nice job staying consistent on your site! Do not fail due to a lack of effort.

      You’ve given me a great idea about what to write about in the future. Good cliffhangers after the end of each TV show is definitely an art I will try to emulate more often!

      Watch Season 2 – 5. Worth it. Gets better.

  31. Another great year! I will consider this column ‘humor’, because I know you are joking about your ‘mediocrity’, so feel free to change that goal to ‘pass’!

    You are doing what you want, when you want, with whom you want. Sounds like complete freedom, you are still trying and stretching your pursuits, and confirming your decisions for leaving f/t working for others. Awesome. All the best in 2017, us readers are looking forward to your continued journey!

    1. You know, I went back and edited my post and wrote BIG TIME FAILURE for #10 due to the weight creep and 7 consecutive match losses. I didn’t emphasize how much of a disappointment this was to me b/c I take health and tennis so seriously. It’s at least 35% a part of me.

      The losing was a big ego bashing. It was frustrating to battle on an uneven playing field and losing. So that really sucked! But, as always, FIGHT ON UNTIL THE END, no matter what.

      Hope your retirement is going well JayCeezy!

  32. The Green Swan

    You had a great year! The goals are well laid out and (for the most part) easy to evaluate at the end of the year. Well done! The passive income PASS is a great success. Not sure if I’ve missed this in a previous post, but does your wife not work a “normal” job as well? It’s one thing to accomplish leaving the work grind yourself, but when your spouse can do the same it’s so much better!!

    1. I helped her engineer her layoff two years ago whoo hoo! She is one of my favorite students. She didn’t believe she could do so either until she did.

      We both just work on our sites now. The idea was to engineer a lifestyle where we both have freedom by age 35 so we can both be as present as possible for our family.

      Perhaps we’ll write a post!

  33. Congrats on a successful year and for having so many goals. You got quite a lot done. I had a successful year myself thankfully and it’s hard to believe there are only a few days left before the new year. Time really does accelerate as we get older. Best wishes in the New Year and looking forward to what’s to come!

  34. Good job on making some of your goals! I like the idea of having several big goals and even if you don’t make them all, making some of them is still a big win for the year. It surprised us as well that the year ended up being another bull market in stocks. 2017 will be an interesting year for sure! We’re pretty excited not only with the possibility of net worth gains, but personal growth as well.

  35. You had a great year same and congrats on hitting the $200,000 in passive income milestone! For me, it was pretty well:

    Wins in 2016:
    – Grew net worth by over 12%
    – Didn’t get laid off! With layoffs every year now, this is a legitimate win.
    – Launched (the fastest growing personal finance blog by a Philly-based corporate executive in 2016 – really! ;) )
    – Went from white belt to blue belt in Taekwondo

    Misses in 2016:
    – Portfolio returns underperformed the S&P 500 due to Trump rally in selected sectors :(
    – Have not gotten back down to my ideal weight of 172lbs (currently at about 184lbs)
    – Have not identified my next role at the office – it’s time to move on

    Overall, I can’t complain and it was a great year!

  36. Amazing job on your finance goals. Great job. Your passive income is very impressive and the net worth gain is fantastic. We did pretty well this year, but as you said – it was mostly due to luck. Our net worth gain was good, but passive income still didn’t do that well. Next year, I will focus on income and work to improve it. Mrs. RB40 is starting to think about retirement and we need to ramp up my income. I need to revamp my site and a bunch of other things that I’ve been putting off. Happy new year and good luck in 2017!

    1. Gotta keep Mrs. RB40 working for longer Joe so you can live the good life! :)

      One of the keys is to start writing about how miserable your retirement life is and how spouses with jobs should really cherish their work. These type of posts may buy you another year or two!


  37. Christine Minasian

    Great post as usual Sam! You never mention if your wife is working. I’m sure that 2nd income helps a lot. Do you have children? Does she stay home to raise them? What’s her plan in terms of working/staying at home? Just curious as I’ve been home to raise my kids but want to go back soon to help with retirement funds :)
    Happy holidays!

    1. Wife works on keeping me from slacking off. That’s a FT job!

      If you want to go back to work, you should! Just make sure the amount you earn is at least 4X the cost of daycare or grade school.

      Happy Holidays!

  38. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Dude, that deck turned out very nice!

    Any particular tips you care sharing on how you increased your blogs income by 35%?

    I can’t wait for the day to see an increase of $500K+ to my net worth. We didn’t do too bad though with an increase of over $200K to our net worth this year.

    Your passive income is amazing and has inspired me to spend a good amount of time over the next two weeks, while my wife and I are on vacation in St. Thomas to think about how we will really go after boosting our passive income streams.

    I spent some time yesterday gathering all the data for 2016 and we currently have about $26,800 in annual passive income from dividends, rental income, blog income, P2P Lending, CD Income, and REITS.

    I think I need to dig into your archives to get a realistic idea of how fast we can grow this.

    This gets me thinking about a blog I want to write about what I had deemed “Phantom Passive Income”. Because we have taken several steps to reduce our living expenses by a couple strategic refinances (which will ultimately lead to a paid off mortgage in another 5 years or less). But we also moved to a less expensive geography.

    One of the first blog posts I wrote when I started my site 2 years ago, outlined how we had cut $1,750/month from our monthly expenses by moving.

    As always, keep up the great content, I love reading from someone that is already where I want to be.



    p.s BTW, what plugin do you use for comments?

    1. $200K+ is great! Congrats. Let’s hope the party continues in 2017. I have my doubts, as always, but maybe “this time it’s different.”

      I could write a post or a book about maximizing online revenue, so a comment won’t do it justice.

      Not sure about the comments plugin. I think it’s built into the Genesis framwork I’m using.

  39. Sweet deck, nice job.

    The problem with the 15% corp tax cut is that you’ll probably just end up saving it in some form. It would be a nice article to hear what you might do with it.

    1. Thanks. What are your thoughts on why saving the money to hire more freelance workers to grow my business is a bad thing? Should help boost the economy and give more people freedom. Freelancing is an unstoppable trend IMO!

      1. But how much of that 15% corporate tax cut goes to hiring more freelancers? If trickle-down economics works, then how is it that the richest 1% of the American population have as much money as 99% of the rest of the entire population combined? The corporate bloat in government seems to be headed for a shameful all-time high.

        Regardless, YOU’VE done great. With your knowledge, work ethic, and finances, you’re “mediocrity” is quite pretty (so’s that deck). Part of luck is being ready to take advantage when it strikes, which you’ve done. And your sense of humor seems alive and well with this post. Cheers!

        1. Probably at least 20% will go towards hiring freelancers to help improve the business. I’d like hire someone on retainer who has really great webmaster skills. I’d also like to hire someone who also has great developer skills to work on some projects. I don’t know the exact calculation, but I’ll definitely be investing more in my business as a result if taxes go down.

          Instead of thinking what a freelancer can get from a business tax cut, I hope more freelancers focus on growing their own freelance businesses.

          I know of many kids who have multi-million dollar trust funds. They are good kids, and can’t help that their parents created these funds for them. We can either get upset and jealous of their good fortune, or we can make our own fortune!

          Now that’s abundance mentality!

          Related: A Massive Generational Wealth Transfer Is Why Everything Will Be OK

          1. Why would you hire more people when tax rates drop? I am planning to do the opposite! I try to maximize net income when taxes are low and minimize income when taxes are high (ie, hire and spend more).

            1. As a business owner, if you can spend $1 to make $1.01, you should spend until marginal cost equals marginal return.

              In a low or high tax environment, I’m always trying to maximize net income.

            2. Sorry, maybe I misunderstood.

              I was referencing this comment:

              “I don’t know the exact calculation, but I’ll definitely be investing more in my business as a result if taxes go down”

              I usually don’t change my business plans much regardless of the tax climate; however, if I were forced to change my expenditure, all other things being equal, I would rather ramp up expenses, capital expenditure, payroll during high tax climates, and cut back on capital expenditure/expenses when taxes are low.

              Thanks for the response and congrats on your 2016, a C is still ok, especially when you set a high bar!

              1. No worries. Yeah, I’m definitely cautious in terms of my spending normally. But if there is like a 20% plus tax cut, I’m going to see that as free money. And with free money, I will probably save most of it, but I will also deploy about 20% of it to try to grow my business further.

                Everything feels like gravy right now, which is why I haven’t been motivated to really aggressively grow my business, just optimize. But with free money, I’ll definitely be willing to take more risks and see what comes of it.

                How’s your business going and what do you plan to do for 2017?

            3. My business is thankfully growing (this year I am up about 35% on the bottom line). I’ve already planned several capital expenditure purchases for early 2017 and will be expanding offices as well.

              I intend to focus on maintaining 20% top line growth, which usually leads to 30% bottom line growth.

              I should have a lot of capital to redeploy this coming year. In addition to tax decreases, there is also accelerated depreciation on capital purchases which I will be financing, plus one of the businesses I own should be sold in the 1st quarter, another building will be sold, and another refi’d later in the year.

              I have slowly moved towards the following asset allocation model:

              2 yrs “cash” – split 50/50 btwn savings and NY muni fund.

              Downpayment for new apt in Manhattan currently sitting in cash, ready for 2017/18 purchase. Hopefully Wall Street bonuses don’t destroy the demand side, because currently conditions are favorable for me. If Wall Street comp significantly up + tax breaks next year, apt prices may start moving up again (hope not). Going for 2 bdrm + office + 2 bath downtown Manhattan.

              The rest of the money I place in two buckets: stocks and RE with a 50/50 mix approximately.

              For stocks, I put ~80% into Vanguard funds, usually a mix of small cap value, international, emerging markets, and US (entire market) – some of this may go into VWELX, which is 60/40 stock/bond, if I feel overexposed to equity. I’ll invest ~5% in private equity deals, typically where I have some control (if I don’t find enough I may buy a microcap stock that I have been watching for a year). ~15% will go into a momentum trading hedge fund as I tend to allocate capital to value investing and ignore momentum, so this should help me in that area.

              The RE portfolio will likely be deployed as 10% private funding to developers/flippers I know, 5-10% to legal funding (I lump this with RE because it is similarly illiquid and functions like a bond), and then ~80% scattered across several RE crowdfunding platforms and/or other syndicates recommended to me by other professional investors (no more than 1% NW or 3% RE in any one deal). It will likely be a mix of 70% equity deals and 30% debt deals, primarily residential, mobile homes, warehouses, and office, with little to no retail. I’m focusing on 1-3 yr deals.

              My goal is to net $150k passive annually next year, solely from the RE and stock/bond portfolio. Ideally, I’d like to break $2m next year also in NOI across all owned businesses (unlikely to happen but maybe I can get close).

            4. Not sure if my original message went through but summary:

              2016 business NOI grew by about 30+%.

              Aiming for same in 2017. Buying new offices and capital equipment.

              Plan to sell 1 business in Q1, 1 building in Q1 and refinance 1 building in Q4. That + savings + accelerated depreciation should make 2017 fun. I am going to start allocating new funds as follows (in addition to 401k and a 2 yr fund of cash/munis I created a while ago):

              50% stocks –

              ~80% vanguard funds
              5-10% private equity
              10-15% momentum hedge fund

              I typically put more money into the vanguard funds struggling the most, currently emerging/international are “cheap” relative to US/small cap, so that is where I will tilt. I added the hedge fund to give me some momentum, because I am more of a “value” guy.

              50% RE

              80% syndicates – private or crowdfunded (usually no more than 3% RE exposure in any 1 deal)
              10% private real estate debt deals
              10% legal funding

              Also, I have a fund sitting with a downpayment for my apt in downtown Manhattan which I plan to purchase in 2017 or early 2018 at latest. Hoping that Wall Street bonuses are not back to 2006 levels before I get a chance to pull the trigger because btwn that and tax breaks, there will be some serious “luxury” inflation in the next 4 years.

    2. If you use it to hire someone then that would be good but if you use it for some other purpose then not so much.

      Not necessarily in your case but my concern will be companies that use it for mergers and acquisitions, stock buy backs, etc


    Congrats on meeting many of your goals! I was not very good at setting official goals for 2016. They were mostly spur of the moment goals I decided I would do. However, I did meet all those goals. I purchased a property, increased my net worth by $15K more than I planned, got my real estate license, and started a blog. I’m happy with what I did, but think I could have done more if I had been more focused on setting goals at the start of the year.

    I plan to sit down in the next couple days and come up with some goals for 2017 instead of blindly flailing through the year hoping for the best.

    I’m very glad I found this blog earlier this year. It’s really provided me the motivation I need to work on becoming financially free!

    1. Impressed you got your RE license and started a blog. Most people don’t even do one. Your blog will definitely help you build your RE career. It’s a no brainer b/c buyers want to know as much about the realtor they are dealing w/. The more they like someone or feel they know someone, the more they will want to work with them. No brainer!

  41. Great year and thanks for all of your insightful articles. My wife and I went Buda, Vienna, Prague, Munich this year and agree that Budapest was our favorite. I feel like there are so many other pieces and small nooks that I could explore in that city. Maybe we’ll see you in SE Asia next year.. we’ll be there in Aug.-Sept.

      1. Antonios Kypreos

        Sam- love your blog I read it all the time! I also run a small family office/RIA and share your posts to my clients from time to time.

        Half of my family is originally from Greece and I would highly recommend it! If you need any advice, please let me know.

        Also I am a tennis player and am a 4.0 player- trying to be a 4.5!

        Take care and happy new year,

        Tony Kypreos

        1. Hi Tony!

          Good luck on getting to 4.5. It’ll be a great accomplishment you’ll be incredibly proud of, especially as we age!

          Where are you based?

          Santorini, Greece has a special, SPECIAL place in my heart. After 3 hours of wandering the stores and hills, I took a pitstop at a bar on top of the crater. It was a perfect 78 degrees and sunny as I drank my Mythos beer. Then in came a message on my iPhone from a client who wanted to pay me $1,200 to place an ad on FS for one year. I was surprised, but obliged. In 30 minutes, I got the code up, received a $1,200 Paypal payment, and immediately ordered another 8 Euro Mythos beer!

          On that October 2011 day, I began to devise my severance negotiation plan. And in March 2012, I made it happen.

          Thanks for sharing my work and HNY!


  42. Congratulations for the “mediocre” result :) Keep up the good work! It’s not just you; there are a lot of people out there who are very happy about that you didn’t give up writing!

    For me 2016 was a great year on every level and a beginning of a lot of good things in my life. 2017 will have a high standard to beat :)

    I wish you and your readers very happy holidays and a successful new year!

  43. Sam,
    You seem to be in a much better place than you were a year ago. My wife and I retired to Kiawah Island, SC in August and I’m making the big plunge to stop working this summer (55 yr old). I know you are not a fan of the East Coast but it is truly beautiful here (great tennis also from what I hear). We have no children but I still worry about money (net worth $3.5M) but I do think we can spend $15k a month and make it thru retirement. Life is good!

    1. Hi David, interesting you say that! Why do you think that is? Is my writing a little lighter and happier in attitude?

      Don’t get me wrong about the East Coast. I like the East Coast, but just for 6 months a year!

      No need to worry about money w/ a $3.5M net worth. It is scary to not have a paycheck, but the fear of running out of money is truly overblown, especially w/ $3.5M.

      Enjoy it! And after 6-12 months of retirement life, let me know why you didn’t retire earlier!

      1. Hey Sam,
        I think the happier writing and lighter mood comes with experience and age. At 54, I don’t feel any of the pressure that I used to and because I was a saver and not a spender, I feel like I have built up a good nest egg to make it. You are getting to a better spot also.

        Although my net worth $3.5M) is high enough I still struggle with cash flow, 60% of it is in real estate I live in, which I know is a big no no. Have you thought of doing an article about reverse mortgages and using them as a tool in retirement? I have heard it’s a good way to live well off the equity, just don’t know much about them.

        Going forward it’s important for all your readers to learn how to spend the money once they make it all, keeping uncle sam from getting it etc..I’ve seen some creative ideas but was wondering about what you thought.

          1. Fair enough, It’s just my wife and I, no family, trying to die with zero left in the account or what’s left to charity. It may not be for everyone. A pretty good read and easy from Wade Pfau on reverse mortgages changed my mind.

  44. We hit nearly every goal this year, though like you luck was a big driver. Between the market and some income we didn’t count on (my wife transitioned to a stay at home mom, however her employer needed her to hang around longer then expected. This resulted in significant unplanned income) we exceeded our financial goals. For non financial we had a mixed bag. I gained a little weight but we did travel as expected. Our oldest child learned to swim as planned.

  45. Nice work Sam. While you share several “failures” above – it seems to me like you had a pretty great year. I know I’ve benefited greatly from the wealth of knowledge shared here on this site and I guess #13 shows in part that lots of others are finding it great too. keep up the great work. Oh – and splurge on that mid-life crisis car! You know you want to! As the kids say, YOLO right?

    1. Achieving my passive income goal was definitely frustratingly slow. But better two years past my goal date than never right?

      I am DETERMINED to YOLO with the best of my Millennial friends in 2017. YOLO baby YOLO!

  46. My wife and I enjoy your blog immensely. I dealt w/my 40 crisis by changing jobs and career ( i now do cyber security work vs operational it). I kept my wife and started yacht racing (n other peoples boats)

    1. Thanks for reading. Hopefully your career change was a nice adventure. I’ve never thought about yacht racing, but there sure is a good contingent of racers here in SF due to the bay.

  47. Go Finance Yourself!

    Nice work Sam! I came across your site back in the spring of this year. I can’t count the number of insightful posts I’ve read here in that short amount of time. You even inspired me to start my own blog this year. Keep up the good work!

      1. Congratulations. I’m in the same boat. I found your blog about 3 months ago and decided to start my own blog to share my personal journey and hopefully help others along the way. You’re the first person I have found to preach the same spending theories that I have been telling my friends for years.

        I found my biggest failure for 2016 was a 200% increase in my food budget due to the comfort of a 140% salary increase and the use of a subscription food service. I plan to right that ship in 2017 by paying close attention to our weekly food expenses.

        1. Good job starting your site. Hope you continue for a very long time!

          A 200% increase is not bad if it didn’t lead to an increase in weight? Perhaps you are now eating healthier meals w/ Blue Apron and the likes.

  48. I started all of this saving stuff too late so here I am, early 50s, up way too early in the morning to go to work while it is still dark. I have to clean all of the snow off my car first and I am going out extra early because I am worried there is a coating of ice under all of the snow.

    I keep sending links to your articles to my children in hopes they can avoid the same fate.

    1. Good list. Glad you made so many of your goals
      Here’s how my 2016 shook out:

      1) Got promoted to twice, increasing my annual comp by ~$120k/year
      2) Doubled my savings rate from 2015 as % of salary
      3) Got my wife working again part time in the middle of the year

      1) Losing weight – personal (all inclusive carib vacations) and work travel + long hours killed me here – after losing about 20 pounds in the summer on a low carb diet, gained it all back.
      2) Didn’t buy another rental property (loaded up on NQ Def comp plan to save on taxes instead)
      3) Wife only worked for 2 months before quitting

    2. Hi Beth, hopefully social security will help take care of you in retirement since you’re not too far away. For those 40 and under, I would definitely give a 30% haircut on the payout amounts.

      Thanks for sharing some of the posts to your kids. If they need help, at least they’ve got one place where they can come look.

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