Financial Samurai 2019 Year In Review: One Of The Best

Financial Samurai 2019 Year In Review: One Of The Best

My theme for 2019 was: live the good life. This is my Financial Samurai 2019 review.

After a raging bull market since 2009, I've started to get more comfortable spending more on a better life rather than always trying to save and invest as much as possible.

2018 was a bad year for the stock market. At one point in 4Q2018, I was probably down ~$500,000, even with my relatively conservative public investment portfolio. However, we recovered tremendously in 2019. With the rebound, I figured, better to start spending our money than lose it all in the market again!

Here's a review of my goals for 2019. It's a really long post because I can't help but reflect during the holidays. The beginning portion is what I wrote at the start of 2019. The italics portion is my review.

Financial Samurai 2019 Goals

1) No gray hair, no chronic pain. I've learned over the years that our bodies reveal our true stress levels no matter what we do or what we say. My goal is to keep things like sciatica, lower back pain, TMJ, grey hairs, wrinkles, hair loss, migraines, and excessive weight gain at bay in order to live longer and feel healthier. Stress is the silent killer of our generation.

Specific activities for the year include: exercising and stretching 3X a week, taking walks with my son 5X a week, incorporating 15 minutes of meditation 3X a week, and eliminating sugary drinks. I will continue to maintain a bodyweight of between 165 – 170 lbs at 5′ 10″.

Grade: B. I was sick the entire month of January and didn't fully recover my normal breathing until the middle of the year. I suffered from more allergies than normal and probably some asthma for the first time in decades. I saw a pulmonologist who told me kids who had asthma tend to relapse after age 40.

I also got sick for a couple weeks at the end of November and into mid-December. Now that our boy is in preschool, he catches and transfers more colds to us. Bummer.

For about one month, I also had some lower back pain for some reason. Perhaps it was due to too much softball and tennis. But my back held up well for most of the year.

On the brighter side, I've maintained my weight and still don't have any grey hairs at 42. Overall, health-wise, 2019 turned out good, but not great.

Related: The Surprising Benefits Of Early Retirement I Did Not Anticipate

2) Remain unemployed until September 2019. My son turns two in April 2019, and I plan to remain a stay at home dad at least until then. Although, I've given myself a green light to find full-time work after two years, my ultimate goal is to remain a stay at home dad until he is eligible for preschool in September 2019 if he is mature enough to attend. If he is not, then my goal is to remain a SAHD until September 2020 for 3 years, 9 months total.

In order to stay unemployed, I need to make sure my risk exposure is appropriate so I don't stress out about losing too much money again. I've also got to get out of the house more often and play some sports. One of my big goals is to finally take a family trip to our vacation property in Lake Tahoe.

Result: A+. I continued to remain unemployed in 2019, although things will probably change in 2020. It's been a great 7.8 year run so far. One of the absolute highlights of the year was finally going up to our property in Lake Tahoe for a week. It's been a dream of mine since I bought the property 12 years ago.

There is no price I can put on the picture below. I'm so excited to go on future family adventures together!

Lake Tahoe Vacation Property With Financial Samurai And Son
Teaching my boy how to skip stones in Lake Tahoe

3) Hire help for Financial Samurai. After almost 10 years of running Financial Samurai with only my wife, it's time to get some help with writing and site maintenance. I'll be slowly looking for someone who is WordPress savvy, trustworthy, intelligent, reliable, dedicated, believes in my five core principles, enjoys writing and wants to earn some steady side hustle income. The fit has to be fantastic, otherwise, I'll just continue to operate the site as usual.

I realize many sites my size have 4-10 people working to write content and handle some of the business elements. Now that I've discovered how great it is to hire help around the house, it's only logical to hire help for our business.

Result: C-. I hired one person to do some freelance work for me for a month and another person to help me update some old content for a week. I tried to hire a virtual assistant out of the Philippines, but that didn't work out. As a result, I've been mostly solo with my wife all year. Luckily, I have yet to burn out.

4) Focus on revenue. Since I'm going to hire help for the business, I want to get a return on my investment. To not get an ROI on my capital expenditure would make me a foolish businessman.

I or my new hire will write more review posts, develop more affiliate partnerships, build my blog marketing business, update my severance negotiation book, and maybe create a new Financial Samurai product. I'll still publish my usual style posts 2-3X a week. There will just be more content all around as there is no limit to how many posts and pages a website can publish.

It's going to feel great to finally start seriously focusing on monetizing Financial Samurai after 10 years. I already get the occasional flak from readers who criticize my work and don't pay me a cent. So I now plan to unabashedly take full advantage of my platform to take care of my family, especially if the economy softens.

Grade: B-. My wife and I updated our severance negotiation book and released a new edition. I really didn't focus on monetization more than normal until I wrote the post, The Secret To Your Success: 10 Years Of Focused Work in 2H2019. When I didn't get much positive feedback from the post, I finally got motivated to focus more on monetization.

I did work with some big name financial firms to create blog marketing campaigns and I have developed new relationships with a couple great companies I'm excited to work with in 2020. But I could have easily quadrupled my efforts this year. Despite the lack of focus, because traffic on Financial Samurai grew, revenue has naturally followed suite.

5) Grow the Financial Samurai Forum. For four years, I was a forum junkie in college. It was one of the best ways I learned about investing and finance. But in order for a forum to grow, it needs to be nurtured. Therefore, I plan to continue posting and corresponding at least 5X a week on the forum to build the FS community.

I have a 5-year plan to grow the Financial Samurai Forum into one of the best financial forums on the web. Specifically, I want to double its traffic in 2019. The forum is geared towards people who fundamentally believe that making more money is a better way to grow wealth than mainly through saving. I want to build a community that is open-minded and always curious about new ways to get better. I’m aiming for thought diversity, not groupthink.

Grade: B-. I realized I kind of don't want to grow the Financial Samurai Forum because it's so easy to manage right now. For this reason, I don't advertise the FS Forum on the home page or in my author box after each post.

If it grows big, I'll need to spend more time moderating the boards, deleting spammers, and playing peacekeeper. That said, the FS Forum has slowly grown to over 2,000 registered users.

6) Help my boy reach the following milestones by year-end. Being a full-time parent is an incredibly rewarding job because you get to teach and witness progress on a daily basis. I've discovered that through Financial Samurai, foster youth mentoring, and coaching high school tennis that I enjoy being an educator. Below are some specific goals we are looking to help him develop by 2 years 9 months.

Play and Social Skills

  • Sit comfortably in circle time for more than 10 minutes – check
  • Enjoy playing with the piano, guitar, and drums – check
  • Play with toys without mouthing them – check
  • Screw and unscrew jar lids and turn door handles – check
  • Build towers of more than 6 blocks – check
  • Copy a circle with pencil or crayon – check
  • Show affection for friends without prompting – check
  • Be away from parents with supportive and familiar people for 4 hours or more to prepare for pre-school – check


  • Walk down stairs unassisted – check
  • Maintain balance while catching a ball or when gently bumped by peers – seems OK
  • Throw and attempt to catch ball without losing balance – throwing OK, but doesn't catch
  • Walk and maintain balance over uneven surfaces – check
  • Use both hands equally to play and explore toys – check
  • Learn to pedal a tricycle – haven't been practicing

Daily Activities

  • Able to self-calm in car rides when not tired or hungry – check
  • Tolerate diaper changes without crying or whining – most of the time
  • Has an established sleep schedule of 10 hours or more a night and 1-2 hours of nap time after lunch at least 5X a week – naps regularly, but only sleeps through the night 2-3X a week
  • Able to self-calm to fall asleep – check
  • Able to tolerate and stay calm during dental visits – yes, after we changed dentists
  • Able to brush his teeth without whining or crying 3X a day – brush teeth twice a day, and we mostly brush his teeth for him
  • Is potty trained before preschool starts in September – half potty trained before September
  • Dresses and undresses self by figuring out buttons, zippers, and straps – 70% of the way there


  • Is able to consistently use 3-4 word phrases e.g. “I am hungry,” “The garage door is white,” “Walk with daddy,” “Financial Samurai is the best!” – speaks in 7-9 word sentences no problem
  • Uses “in” and “on” – check
  • At least 75% of speech is understood by any caregiver – check
  • Follows 2-step unrelated directions, e.g. “give me the ball and go get your coat” – check
  • Understands “mine” and “yours” – I think so
  • Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats) – Confuses “you” and “me” a lot and still refers to himself in 3rd person most of the time
  • Understands half of what we communicate to him in English, in Mandarin – Check. Has also learned Spanish.

Grade: A. At 33 months old, his communication skills are A+, but I have yet to teach him how to catch a ball or pedal a tri-scooter yet. We're still working on potty training and he only sleeps through the night 50% of the time. I believe everything will come in time, so I'm not stressing.

7) Spend $1,500 more a month on life. We have frugality disease. We are spending less today than we were in our late 20s, despite having a much higher income and net worth. Our estate planning lawyer sessions really made us realize we will likely die with too much.

We will allocate the extra $1,500 in spending towards more babysitting help, more massages, bi-monthly house cleaning, and quarterly gardening. We will purchase at least economy plus tickets for all our parents to come visit. Further, if we take our first flight as a family, we will purchase economy plus tickets as well.

We are also going to regularly give to two charities all year. One will be to a center for foster kids and abused youth. Another will be for children with nystagmus, a visual condition. I also like supporting public park tennis initiatives.

Result: A. We definitely spent at least $1,500 more a month to pay for a better life. We focused our spending on childcare help before our son went to preschool, house cleaning, and in-home massages. We also upgraded some furniture and consistently donated to a foster youth center, a rehabilitation center for children, and the American Nystagmus Network.

See: Great Things To Buy With Your Massive Investment Gains

8) Pay off $200,000 of mortgage debt. Paying off my SF rental condo in 2015 felt wonderful. I don't care whether it goes up or down in value because I truly plan to own it forever. Selling my SF rental house and paying off an $815,000 mortgage in the process also felt terrific. No matter how much more I could have made investing in risk assets, I've never regretted paying off debt.

Our ultimate goal is to be debt-free by 2022 when our boy is ready for kindergarten. Paying down $200,000 a year in extra mortgage debt will help accomplish this goal.

Result: C-. We decided not to aggressively pay off mortgage debt because the yield curve inverted and mortgage rates went way down. We refinanced our primary mortgage to a 7/1 ARM at 2.625%. Therefore, it was really hard to aggressively pay down the mortgage when, for most of the year, we were earning an online savings interest rate of over 2%. Further, the stock market kept on going up.

Overall, we paid off about $60,000 in mortgage debt through regular monthly payments and sending an extra $20,000 towards principal pay down. If the economy had been tanking, we would have probably paid down our principal more aggressively.

To get real mortgage refinance quotes, check out Credible. They are one of my new financial partners. Although refinancing can be a PITA, once it's done, you will really feel great saving so much money each month. I'm thankful to be paying less a month to live than I was in 2014 when I bought the house.

9) Aggressively search for a larger house. I dodged a missile in 2018 by not buying a larger house for more money. I wrote two offers for San Francisco homes that both were rejected. I was seriously trying to buy this one expensive SF house in a great neighborhood, but by the time I was going to put in an offer, they had already accepted another offer on November 1 2018, for asking. If I had bought the house I'd be feeling nervous today since the stock market corrected by 20% soon after. It's not unreasonable to assume the house is now worth $200,000 (4.5%) less today.

At the same time, I want a bigger house in SF so my parents, in-laws and sister can come visit for a longer period of time. A bigger house is also important if we are to have another child. One more bathroom and 500 sqft more of space would be ideal.

Result: A. The San Francisco property market was strong in 1H2019, but has since faded. I'm still very glad I didn't spend a fortune on that house in November 2018 because I would have felt silly living in such a big house with only the three of us.

That said, I feel the time to buy a new property is upon us. I plan to use my investment profits to snag a deal on a larger house. I've found a house just a block away with panoramic ocean views at a great price. It's 600 sqft larger than my old house with two extra rooms and one extra bathroom. I'll write more about the house in future posts.

10) Be a voice for ~50% of the population. Due to the high cost of living, there are very few personal finance bloggers who live in an expensive coastal city. This makes rational sense, especially if you are a FIRE blogger. But roughly 50% of the national population lives in expensive coastal cities and other big cities around the country that face slightly different challenges. Therefore, I have an opportunity to establish Financial Samurai as a go-to resource for big-city audiences.

Result: A. I've been very consistent writing about financial issues that are relevant to at least half the population living in more expensive cities around the country.

It's easy to write about such issues because I'm going through them in real-time myself. Due to my focus, I've received plenty of coverage from organizations such as The Atlantic, CNBC, Drudge Report, MarketWatch, and more.

Here are some relevant posts:

11) Be more forgiving of myself. No matter what project I undertake, I always try and run through the finish line. Financial Samurai's finish line is July 1, 2019, after I made a promise in 2009 to publish 3X a week for 10 years. After that, who knows the future.

The funny thing about this finish line is that it is completely arbitrary. There is absolutely no need to put pressure on myself to produce so much content, especially if I'm having a rough week or sick. Financial Samurai surpassed my expectations by 10X long ago. Therefore, I'm going to give myself four weeks where I'll just publish one post plus I'll take it easy the entire month of June when traffic is slowest.

With more sleep and less stress, I hope to improve my overall mental health and happiness. My desire to constantly grind stems from mistakes made in high school, plenty more rejections as an adult, and an indoctrination since I was a kid that I need to try harder as a minority to get ahead in America.

Result: B. I never ended up taking one week off, let alone four weeks off to just publish one post a week. At the most, there were several weeks where I only wrote two posts because I was feeling a little burnt out. But I also published a newsletter during those weeks as well. For those of you who have subscribed, you know most of my newsletters are pretty chunky as well.

After reaching my 10-year publishing goal in July, I just kept on going as usual because there was always something interesting to write about each week. My sleep, unfortunately, continued to be short. No matter how hard I try, I can't sleep for longer than 5-6 hours straight.

Finally, I decided not to entertain an enticing offer to sell Financial Samurai after I reached my 10-year writing goal. Now I've got to make sure my decision was the right one.

12) Celebrate big and small wins. To make the hustle more worthwhile, we will celebrate all our achievements as parents, writers, and entrepreneurs. A celebration can be as small as opening a nice bottle of wine. These celebrations will also help us fulfill our goal of spending more.

Regularly highlight something specific I appreciate about my wife so she always feels recognized and loved. She is an incredible full-time mom who also launched the FS Forum, finalized our revocable living trust, registered the third edition of How To Engineer Your Layoff and the lullaby Cutie Baby with the Library Of Congress, and is responsible for all ongoing business accounting. I haven't done a good enough job appreciating her efforts over the years, which is why I'm committed to doing more for her in 2019 and beyond.

Result: A. We celebrated a lot this year by going out to eat, getting lots of in-home massages, and taking a couple great family vacations. Being able to defend our Northern California Section high school tennis title was also an extremely satisfying personal victory. It showed our first victory ever in the school's 43-year history wasn't a fluke.

Overall, I think I've done a good job appreciating my wife by verbalizing my appreciation, writing out my appreciation publicy, being a stay at home dad for 33 months, and maintaining a high-quality lifestyle for both of us.

My main priorities are to ensure my wife never has to go back to work if she doesn't want to and to give our son a wonderful childhood. I often feel a tremendous pressure to provide, but I've continued to grind it out because I know I've had way more luck than most. I refuse to take my luck for granted because I know it will eventually run out.

One Of The Best Years Ever

2019 will go down as one of the best years ever for my family. Financially, I was hoping to increase our net worth by 5% after a shaky 2018. Instead, our net worth has grown by ~18% according to what I track on Personal Capital.

Depending on how my private equity, venture debt, and real estate crowdfunding investments play out, our net worth might be up closer to 25% in 2019. As of now, all our private investments are valued at cost in my net worth dashboard, which I'm assuming is conservative.

I absolutely did not expect the S&P 500 to do as well as it did this year. As a result, I was too conservative with my public investment allocation with a 40% equity / 60% bond ratio. But thankfully, bonds did quite well as well.

As two unemployed parents, this bull market is a blessing. I don't think I could have remained comfortably unemployed since 2012 if it wasn't for such healthy investment returns. I probably would have aggressively tried to monetize Financial Samurai and find part-time consulting if the markets were flat or down.

The fact that Financial Samurai's visitors grew by double digits YoY according to Google Analytics makes me even happier given Financial Samurai is my passion. It feels much more rewarding to see progress from something you actively work on versus investments you passively invest in.

Finally, I'm just so happy to have my family. My family has given me so much motivation to write, stay healthy, and appreciate every day. There were certainly some really rough times with hours that regularly spanned from 5 am – 11 pm. But I'm appreciative to have the energy to survive. I just want my boy to stay 2.5 years old forever because time is flying by.

Overall, I give 2019 an A. I'm sad it's over. But I'm looking forward to a prosperous 2020.

Thank you everyone for coming along for the ride, sharing my posts, and inputting your thoughts on various issues!

Readers, how was your 2019? What were some of your wins and losses? Thanks for reading and sharing all throughout the year! Check out my 2020 review as well.

To subscribe to my newsletter, you can click here. I try to send one out once a week. Check out my Top Financial Products page for the best products to help you achieve financial freedom sooner.

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34 thoughts on “Financial Samurai 2019 Year In Review: One Of The Best”

  1. Holy crap man. I can’t imagine losing 500k in the market. What an accomplishment! Holding on to your investment guns that is, after loosing so much in 2018 to achieve such greatness in 2019. Nice job indeed.
    I think 2019 was a great year mainly bc of the the horrible 4th quarter of 2018. Had that slump happened in the 2nd quarter of 2018 it would have been a very difficult 2019. Nonetheless, a fabulous year regardless.
    I’m proud to say that I made 54k in investment returns in 2019. That’s a huge record for me. I’m particularly pleased with the fact that the majority of my investments were self-managed meaning little to no fees incurred.
    I’m 53 and currently struggling over a solid job opportunity that will pay out about 1mil more over the next 12 years, at which time I will be 65. The prob with the new opportunity is that I would be away from home a lot more and it’s slightly riskier in regards to stability. I’m a single man but still love my home time and the steadiness it allows me with my girlfriend. Jobs in my field are very difficult to land and I’m super comfortable with the one I currently have 15min from home.
    Sam, I would appreciate you take on this if you’re reading?
    Age 53
    Current income 110k yearly.
    Cash = 60k
    401k = 90k (maxing yearly + Co match)
    401k Catch-up (also maxing)
    IRA’s = 270k (self-managed rollovers)
    Roth = 30k (maxing yearly limits)
    Pension = 30k (small but better than zip)
    House = 280k (paid in full)
    Total assets including items above= 800kh
    Zero debt.

  2. Our year had our return close to, but a bit below the market rate of about 29%. We are also in the 50% of expensive area folks. You can make a lot of money in NYC, but you will need to accept a big commute, or living on a postage stamp in a crowded area. We chose the big commute. It wont last forever, but it can be a great way to pack it on, and then retire to one of the cheaper areas. The real trick to FIRE living here is to just live under your means. A lot of folks in NY do not do that. I didn’t for a while either, but it’s possible.

  3. Sam,

    As always, phenomenal job. Congratulations on a great 2019. I really enjoyed reading about your physical/well-being goals, goals with your son, and your financial goals.

    Thank you so much for donating to a center helping foster kids/abused youth. It’s unfortunate that there are so many in our nation. I was intrigued by your other choice of donating to the ANN for nystagmus. I was wondering if you had any special tie or connection to someone with nystagmus. I was born with it, and had really bad vision issues growing up as a kid. In order for me to get my driver’s license, I had to go to Duke University to have an invasive surgery to help stabilize the movements a little more so I can drive without the highway moving. Also, try hitting a 70 mph curve ball with your eyes moving (not fun).

    If this is a personal matter, please feel free to email me privately. I don’t mean to pry. I’m just curious. I’ve also suffered from years of sciatica due to a disc bulge. I just ordered Dr. Sarno’s book solely on your recommendation in a previous post. But, I’ve never met anyone else with congenital nystagmus. So, just curious :-)

    Once again, congratulations on an awesome and successful 2019. I hope 2020 is even better for you and your family.

  4. Marvin McConoughey

    Sam: Dying with surplus money is a good thing. At 82 I anticipate having a sizable surplus when I die. It is very pleasant to be able to leave positive surprises to individuals I care about. Until then, the excess money serves as an insurance for when hard times reappear.

  5. Josh Lipsker


    Congrats on another great year. I’m interested in #3 if you’re still looking. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss.


  6. Hi Sam,

    In February of 2019, I was offered a voluntary early retirement package by my employer that provided me 21 months of pay and 18 months of COBRA.

    About to turn 62, both my children fully supporting themselves with postgraduate degrees, hitting my target retirement number (four years early), and with the support and encouragement from my wife, I took the leap of faith and accepted the early retirement package.

    I had three main goals for the remainder of 2019. Take the rest of 2019 off, explore X-Factor opportunities, and test drive life in retirement.

    After 40 years in the workforce, the first several months were rough. Although I didn’t need to negotiate a severance package your posts about the adjustments after accepting such a package were beneficial to me. I bookmarked your post “Ikigai Is Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of Retirement” as it was the advice I needed at the time.

    I also bookmarked your posts “Why You Need To Start Your Own Website Today” and “How To Start A Blog: Insights Into Building Your Own Website”. Based on these posts, my 35 years as a CPA, and raising two financially independent millennials, I decided to start a blog to help other millennials successfully manage their finances.

    I signed up for a BlueHost account and taught myself how to use WordPress with the Genesis theme. I went live with my blog on December 1st with 14 foundational posts.

    As for my 2020 goals, I plan to do some consulting, find affordable medical coverage after COBRA runs out, add posts weekly to my blog, and explore opportunities to monetize my blog.

    I am looking forward to reading and leveraging your posts in 2020.

  7. Money Ronin

    Happy new year to the hardest working retired guy I know. I haven’t been a reader for the entire decade, but I’ve enjoyed being part of the ride on the way up.

    While I admire your goal to cater to the 50%, it is highly unrealistic. Even though 50% of the population live in large cities, most people are struggling to get by. Risk-free or stress-free retirement is not a realistic goal (e.g., my dad who worked until his late 70s and passed away shortly thereafter). Your advice is sound and everybody can benefit to some extent; it just isn’t mass market advice. Your goals are lofty and this is coming from someone who has a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving many of them. Like you, I’ve been very lucky, too.

    You’re blog is “aspirational”. While it isn’t limited to the top 10% (or whatever number you pick), it is targeted at those who aspire to be in the top 10%. That’s far fewer people than 50%.

  8. On #10 – It’s so true that many FIRE bloggers avoid the expensive coastal cities. Thank you for writing for those of us who do! While I love staying in the ‘burbs for the holidays and family gatherings, there are certain experiences that can only be had in more cosmopolitan cities.

  9. Sam, I enjoyed reading your reflections and assessment. I am active Duty military and living in San Diego. If you decide to hire someone or want to expand content please consider my offer to help. At a minimum I can provide a military perspective. I am on linked in. Happy new year and best of luck. Your candid, personal insights,humor, and perspective are appreciated. R brian

  10. Brenda Pawloski

    Hi Sam, Happy New Year! In response to your email today with the Price Changes chart, I’d love to share a Kaiser Family Foundation chart that shows the growth in health care spending tracks the increase in health care spending to administration cost and not physicians. Physicians are over managed and burdened with too many administrators and as a result we will have less of them in the future. It’s a PDF, don’t know how to share here but we need to recognize and spread awareness that we have too many layers of administration in Health Care.

    To pivot, but on the same theme of over-administration, read the WSJ article about PG&E. Just the opening paragraphs telling how it takes six level of governance to change an email tag line!

    Thanks for your newsletter and blog, I enjoy them!

  11. SpaceAssassin

    Glad to see the 2019 progress and sincere self-assessment. Curious how 2020 may rattle some of the 2019 financial progress made and how that may adjust your direction through 2020.

    I appreciate you representing the high-cost coasts, sharing your family-side and your overall writing style. I seriously hope you don’t consider those lucrative offers so to sell. Selfishly, I have abandoned too many sold sites over the years, and venture from one privately-owned site to the next as they sell off. But non-selfishly, I hope you can take advantage of any offer that makes sense both financially and personally.

    If you ever need an example of someone who never sold, check out I cannot even imagine the high-dollar offers he was receiving years back. At one point, and likely still the case, his blog was/is the most-visited ad free blog in the world. And having seen a local talk of his and literally feeling his personal connection to the site, you understand how sometimes a personal attachment to things can trump any financial gain.

    In short, as much as I love reading about finance, its great to read about your son and personal anecdotes. Having young boys myself and a similar locale experience, its nice to hear finance bloggers talk about real stuff, and not just yield curves, interest rates and reward points.

    Keep up the good work and I hope you have a great 2020.

  12. Congrats on a great year! Looking forward to a great 2020 and onwards!

    My 2019 has been rather busy, working a 40 hour job, side hustling at a startup, serving on some supervisory boards, etc. 2020 will be a focus year. Focusing on things that I really find important!

    All the best, Financial Chipmunk

  13. Congrats on a great year! You write the most interesting, timely, and well thought out personal finance content on the web that matters.

    I also love how you embrace you’re always positive and figure out a way to leverage your critics to write even more interesting stuff.

    2019 was a great year financially and professionally for me as well.

  14. Thanks Sam for a great year of content.

    I am similarly happy with investment returns of 20%+ with only a 50% stock allocation.

    It’s early but angel investing and VC seem to be on track overall as we end the year.

    I am more happy about the progress my kids are making in school and their activities, my wife’s work in the community and my martial arts.

    Next year I hope to spend some more time researching individual stocks to juice returns some more.

  15. Daniel Cohen

    Hey Sam,

    Great Article! Congrats on doing so well this year.

    First, I’d be interested in helping you with Financial Samurai for some side hustle money. Let me know how we can make this happen.
    Second, I have a potential article for you to write. I moved out of a home in Redmond, Wa (1mile from Microsoft) February 2018 that I bought in Nov 2012 for 496k and is now worth 938k on Zillow. I’m getting close to the 2 out of 5 year tax exclusion on Feb 2021. I want to hear your thoughts on what I can do to take advantage of the irs tax system for this 2 out of 5 year exclusion but still hold onto the property for the long term. I have awesome Microsoft tenants that want to stay and I want to keep them. I know I could take advantage of a 1031 exchange if I do decide to keep it. However, I would like to know if there is a way to sell the property to a family member this year to get the tax break and then buy it back from them a year later. Without realtors in the picture, that can save between 4-6% of the costs. Are there any restrictions on doing this? Is this a good idea? Do I need to wait a year? What concerns if any should I consider? Are there any other ideas I should consider? The house was built in 1976 and there is some work that will need to be done soon. E.g. new roof, exterior paint, etc.. Knowing your thoughts would be great.

  16. Sweet level of success Sam.

    Thanks for keeping this blog going for 10 plus years. I’ve been a long time reader and you have even motivated me to create my own blog.

    Hopefully I can keep my blog going for 10 years as well.

    The stock indices reaching all time highs have been incredibly nice.

    Hopefully, 2020 can even be better.

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and your family!

  17. Sarah Widmann

    Our goal for 2020 is to look into buying our first rental property. Would love any resources for educating ourselves on this process!

    1. Most of all – educate yourself. Oregon and California and Washington have daunting legal levels for landlord/tenant law! Yes, be paranoid and careful and go by the book.
      Also join a rental association. The stories about revenge tenants are true, but go by the percentages and most of all be nice and fair. It’s not just about money because the other things can jump up and cancel all your work.

  18. Thank you Sam! I really enjoyed reading your articles this year. Looking forward to all your articles in 2020.

  19. Thanks for a great year of blog posts!!! So many great topics and interesting analysis.

    Love to stop buy and read three days a week.

  20. Congrats on the many wins this year!! I wish you, your family, and FS all the best in 2020!

    It’s true that I haven’t checked out your forum, but glad to know that you’ll be active on it. It sounds interesting!

  21. Financial Freedom Countdown

    Thank you Sam for standing up on behalf of the coastal folks who the rest of the country considers as elite without realizing that we are barely getting by.

    Personally the amazing stock market has been good and I finally started a blog after years of procrastination. I’m glad to be a voice for immigrants who have come here with nothing and yet managed to be financially independent in the expensive SF Bay Area.

  22. Happy New Year Sam! Long time listener, first time caller here. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated your blog for over a year, especially the year ahead and quarterly/yearly review. You’ve introduced me to the idea of crowd-funded real estate and provide the most thoughtful, transparent, and evidenced based ideas on the economy, investing, and professional life. Kudos to you for remaining dedicated to the craft.

    You’ve earned some of your time back and then some, so don’t feel guilty about procuring some help with the blog. And if you’re interested in my advice, I’d steer clear of putting more into the forum. It’ll be a sink with much less return on your most valuable asset– time.

    Cheers to a great 2020!

  23. Kathy Abell

    Being a reader for quite some time, I realize this is WAY overdue. I apologize for the delay.

    Thank you Sam for your decade long dedication to Financial Samurai.
    Thank you Sam for your prodigiously productive posting schedule. (You do have my permission to reduce the amount of posts, but not the regularity of posting. LOL)
    Thank you Sam for using a writing style that remains true to yourself.
    Thank you Sam for not selling Financial Samurai (at this point in time).

    Thank you Sam for bringing all of your readers along with you on your life’s journey.
    Thank you Sydney for all the life energy you contribute to your family’s well being and Financial Samurai’s continued success.

    Thank you Sam’s Dad for your editorial efforts.
    Thank you Sam’s Sister for your graphic designs.

    Thank you Sam’s Mom for your contributions in raising such a caring human being as your son.
    Thank you Sydney’s parents for the doing the same with your daughter.

    Thank you all for making a part of the internet a better place to browse.

    1. Kathy,

      What a nice and thoughtful comment. Thank you!

      Your comment makes me feel great and really motivates me to keep FS going.

      I hope you had a great 2019 and an even better 2020!



  24. Congrats Sam! What a wonderful list of goals you set for 2019 and seriously way to go on your number of successes! I set twelve goals for myself and only give my self a passing score on 3 of them. My health really impeded me this year and also my weakness of distractibility and prioritizing other things. But 3 is still better than 0.

    Good for you on taking care of your health and seeing a pulmonologist. I hear ya on the frustrations of catching colds. It’s hard on the body and brain to feel under the weather for weeks at a time let alone months.

    That vacation pic is so cute. Good for you taking several vacations this year. It’s always nice to get a change of scenery, eat different foods, and get in some r&r. And wow what a detailed list of milestone goals. That’s awesome about your son’s progress.

    We’re all happy you didn’t sell because we’d miss your writing so much. You are truly a talented, entertaining, educational and unique writer! I know of a few sites that sold this year and their transitions were quite bizarre imo. The bloggers voice and personalities were totally mismatched with the replacements.

    It’s also wonderful to hear that 2019 was one of your best years ever. What a blessing that is. Here’s hoping to a wonderful 2020 to you and all of us as well. Happy holidays!

  25. On the forum… I think you should link it on the home page. The problem I have is that if I post something and don’t get an answer for days, I’ll go elsewhere which I did. For the forum to work, I think you need more people there and less categories of topics, until you a big enough user base using it, my 2 cents

    1. True. I struggle with wanting it to grow and keeping it manageable. Perhaps if I hire a forum moderator or create a reward system, then I’ll more aggressively highlight the forum. I’m using the FS forum for three main topics currently. The latest one being The 5 am Club to keep me and others on track in 2020.

      1. Its the chicken and egg thing I guess with getting enough questions/answers. I think hiring someone to manage it would be a good idea and maybe they can even answer some questions if a thread doesn’t get any traction. With financial questions a lot are really long term thinking, but other people are looking for a quick answer to make an immediate decision they are pondering.

        1. True, I just don’t have any more spare time to give than what I’m already giving.

          If you would like to help out, that would be great. But I understand that everybody is busy doing their own thing, and that is great as well.

          My goal for the past 33 months since my son was born has been to help others but also take back my time. Everything here is free. So I have to be careful as most people will just take and demand and not give.

          I hope you can understand.

          Everything is rational in the end!

          1. I’m actually open to help out… let me know how best to get in touch with you to discuss further. thanks

  26. Happy upcoming new year Sam. 2019 exceeded a lot of my expectations as well. I went to a more conservative allocation in my portfolio earlier this year as well so I didn’t fully real the rewards of an amazing stock market return but no major regrets doing so.

    Congrats on hitting good grades on the majority of your goals and of course the success of Financial Samurai.

    Wishing the best for everyone in 2020 and beyond.

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