Financial Samurai Mid-Year 2018 Personal Goals Checkup

Since it's a quiet week with nobody around, I thought I'd do some more mid-year reflecting. This is the Financial Samurai mid-year 2018 personal goals checkup.

To hold my feet to the fire, I've been setting public goals for a while now. But I've mostly just checked in at year-end, leaving me no opportunity to course correct during the year in case I was lagging. Oftentimes, I wouldn't even remember what my goals were. Not this year baby!

My theme for 2018 is: Back To Early Retirement Life.

I spent years building a lifestyle business in order to one day be a good stay at home father. But I kinda screwed things up in 2017 when my son was born by maintaining my writing schedule, my tennis schedule, and even taking on a part-time high school tennis coaching job. As a result, I was more stressed than I wanted to be and suffered numerous injuries.

Surely, things had to change. Below are my goals made at the beginning of this year and my self-assessment in italics. Everybody reading should go through this exact same exercise because I bet you'll be surprised by your results as well. 

Mid-Year 2018 Personal Goals Checkup

1) Return to early retirement life. As this site has grown more people are reaching out for help or contacting me with business opportunities. It's become overwhelming. I will publish only 100 articles for the year (down from 175 a year) and start having more fun with the topics. While the business component of this site is exciting, it has become too much. Just like with day job income, after you make a certain amount of business income, there is no more additional happiness.

Went the complete opposite way: I've more than doubled production by writing 100+ posts and pages in the first half alone. I've also recorded over 50 podcasts on my iTunes channel compared to a target of 30 for the year. What the heck? I've been obsessed with not giving up because of my son. Kids provide a ton of motivation to stay fit, eat better, and work harder than ever before. 

I also have this fear that because he is a minority, my son will face bullying in school and discrimination as an adult just like his old man did. I got into so many fistfights in grade school, it was nuts because I NEVER backed down from bullies. I always had this mentality that if you were going to beat me up, no matter how big you were, I would at least get in a good smack before I went down. Anybody who disrespected me, my family, or my friends would pay. I fear my son will be equally combative when it comes time to standing up for himself, partly because I will teach him to be a strong boy. 

Because we have a lottery system to get into public school here in San Francisco, no matter how much in property tax you pay, there's only a small chance your child will get into their local public school. That leaves costly private school at $30,000 – $50,000 a year.

But because private grade school in SF is predominantly white, and not at all a reflection of the SF population, I have my doubts he'll get into a good private school either. It's clear private schools can do more to accept students that better reflect their environment, but they don't, which means there's something artificial going on. Then there's university, which hopefully won't matter 17 years from now. 

Besides being a supportive parent, the one sure thing I can think of to help my son is to build a strong business where I can teach him the ropes so he can create his own business one day or take over ours. I don't want to rely on the existing system because the system feels stacked against folks who are different. 

The other alternative to leveling the playing field would be to move to Asia or Hawaii where he is a majority. I forgot about all the slights and fights I went through attending high school and college as a minority until I started thinking about my son's future. It's like my son unearthed all these repressed memories that I had buried deep within my psyche. We've come a long way since the 1990s, so perhaps I'm just stuck in the past. But I'd rather try and earn and save as much as possible to rely on nobody. 

2) For six days a week, provide an average six hours of JOYFUL assistance to my wife or be the primary care to my son. For the seventh day, provide four hours of joyful assistance for a total of 40 hours a week.  In the first year of life, the baby is very attached to the mother due to breast-feeding, which is why I use the word “assistance.”

Work in progress: I think I've provided on average 4-5 hours of joyful assistance or primary care for my son a day. But I still get grumpy about little things because I continue to work too much and sleep too little. Things are getting better, however, because we're now more confident parents with a routine. Further, our son is finally sleeping better through the night. 

But maybe I'm underestimating my patenting. I'm here for my family when my son is awake between 7:00am – 11:30am and 1:30pm – 8pm, four days a week. The other three days a week, I'm either exercising or meeting a business partner for three hours at most out of his ~12 waking hours.

I might not always be directly helping out when he is awake, but I do clean the house, wash dishes, make sure we have food, drive us everywhere, look after him while my wife uses the bathroom, assist with bath time, help change his clothes and so forth. Such assistance should count, right? In my mind, I was thinking six hours of non-stop primary care, which is more difficult if we're both at home due to the desire for breastfeeding.

I’m trying to do the best I can while also being the sole income provider.

Related: A Day In The Life Of Two Work From Home Parents With A Baby

3) Increase business productivity. In other words, find a way to do less and maximize my existing content to boost traffic and revenue. I will not spend more than four hours a day on the business in 2018. Further, I will cease responding to comments and e-mail questions whose answers are obviously discernible in the post and encourage readers to use the search box on my website for answers.

Work in progress: I'm not proactive in putting myself out there. I have this passive attitude where if folks want to read my stuff, they know where to find me. But in order to truly grow, you've got to proactively pimp yourself. Thankfully, there has been outreach from larger online publications who've wanted to feature my work, like when Yahoo Finance syndicated, Why Households Must Earn $300,000 A Year to Live A Middle Class Lifestyle Today

Further, I have been doing some occassional Quora writing to build a new audience when I have nothing else to do. Looks like I've got about 3,400 followers and 2.6 million views from my answers. If 2.5% of the views translate into visitors coming to FS from Quora, then so far I've got about 65,000 new visitors. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit counts. 

I came up with four hours a day of work because I figured I could work from 6am – 8am and then 9pm – 11pm on average. But there would be a lot of days where I would just keep on working until 1am to try and get ahead of schedule, which resulted in grouchier support during the mornings. This needs to stop. 

4) Spend more time doing work in the hot tubThrough voice dictation, I’m actually writing this post in my hot tub right now. Yeah baby yeah! Not only am I utilizing my hot tub investment more, but I'm getting some stress relief while also producing work.

Success! I go to the hot tub roughly 3X a week for 1 hour each session. While in the hot tub I'm reading research, interacting with folks on social media, and responding to comments. The hot tub is the best $15,000 expense ever.

The cost to own and maintain a hot tub

5) Aggressively spend more money on help. Until recently, we’ve always done all the lawn work, housecleaning, and childcare. There's something therapeutic about gardening and cleaning. But now that we are tired parents, we need to prioritize. I really need help at this stage because my lower back is still tender. It's kind of torturous to crawl around and chase a baby for a couple hours with a bad back.

Making progress. We finally hired cleaners for $200 a session once every two months. Not cheap, but feels darn good to come home to a clean house while we go outside and play with our boy. We're also spending $20/hour for nine hours a week of babysitting help on average. This allows us to go on date nights and unwind. So important for our sanity. But to be successful in “aggressively” spending money to hire help, we need to spend 3X more. We just haven't found reliable help because they're either sick, traveling, or have other commitments. Oh, and thank goodness, my lower back pain is no more!

Related: The 10X Investment Consumption Rule To Fix Bad Spending Habits

6) Continue to help people of all types in different ways. This means publish two times a week, produce at least 30 podcasts, see my foster child mentee at least 24 times, coach high school tennis, and participate in more fundraising events.

Success! The best benefit of staying consistent with Financial Samurai is the nice e-mails saying how Financial Samurai has helped a reader's life in one way or another. I've also been pretty regular with my private newsletter as well, sending out one out at least twice a month. 

The foster care system is a difficult place. I'm not sure how I can make a bigger impact besides donating more time and money. Being a mentor makes a huge positive difference to young kids who have very little. I guess I can just continue to be an advocate and encourage others to get involved in their communities. 

7) Stop feeling guilty for not doing more. Since I was 13, I’ve always had the belief that if I can, I must because a friend of mine died in a car accident and was never given the chance. Every time I catch myself slacking off for more than an hour, a little voice inside my head tells me to do something productive instead.

Work in progress. The more my son sleeps, the less guilty I feel about working because that means my wife needs less relief during the day. But why should I feel guilty working to support my family so my wife and I don't have to go back to a day job? If I was working 70+ hours a week and never home, that's one thing. But I'm home all day most of the time and get most of the work done while he is asleep.

For those of you who've been able to get rid of the paradoxical guilt of working to take care of your family, let me know some of your strategies. I'm thinking that all I've got to do is not work so much for the first five or six years until he goes to kindergarten, and then turn on the after burners.  

8) Get regular physical checkups. One in three people will get cancer. And one in four people will die from cancer. The closest thing to curing cancer is early detection. However, most cancer is detected only after a patient feels symptoms. By stage three, only 8% of cancer patients live past five years.

Fail. Haven't gotten a full physical yet. Time to schedule one! Ugh. But I am regularly exercising 3X a week and have also joined a softball league. So fun. I need to get in ideal shape.

9) Find a way to grow net worth by $2 million. With the estate tax threshold doubling to $22 million for couples, why not shoot for more wealth while trying to take things down a notch.

Failing. Based on my +6.7% net worth growth for 1H2018, I'm not going to make it. Getting to $2 million is extremely difficult with only my public investments and savings because my public investments account for less than 40% my net worth and I don't earn enough. But if a private investment hits big or if I sell off a piece of Financial Samurai for a good price, there's a small chance. Unfortunately, I think there's also a 40% chance the stock market and real estate market stays flat or goes down, hence my relatively defensive portfolio. We live off about 2% of our net worth a year.

With the good times fading, we've got to either work harder or finally start enjoying our returns. I'm choosing the latter! Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how we can all benefit from our wise investment decisions. 

Learning To Let Go Of Opportunity

Thanks for humoring me with this personal goals review because I really did forget some of my goals. Discovering all those repressed memories from childhood was also a surprise. Despite working more this year, I’m less stressed because I’m more comfortable with my new role as a dad.

For the remainder of the year my priorities are:

  • Be a better caregiver by consciously providing one more hour a day of care
  • Produce three items of work a week (post, page, podcast, or newsletter), not three posts plus a podcast and newsletter
  • Work on outreach for one hour a week (PR, social media, interviews, commenting on other sites)
  • Stick to two hours of work in the morning and two hours of work in the evening before midnight
  • Protect our wealth from declining
  • Provide updates to all the pre-schools we've applied to for 2019 about our son's progress
  • Start potty training our son in 4Q
  • Spend a week in Napa before September (our first trip away from the house)
  • Spend a week in Tahoe this winter to show our son snow for the first time
  • Make all grandparents come to visit before year-end (will pay for flights)
  • Practice daily gratitude during dinner

It's been very difficult to take things down a notch. The correlation between effort and reward is so great when running an online business that it would be a shame not to take full advantage while my mind still works. At the same time, for the sake of my family and my health I must come to grips with letting go of opportunity.

Related posts:

2011 Mid-Year Review

2013 Predictions And Goals

2013 Year In Review

Best Financial Samurai Articles Of 2019

September 2020 Recap

How are you guys doing with your personal goals so far? What do you need to work on for the rest of the year? How do you learn to be OK letting opportunity pass you by? If you've been able to create work/life balance, please share your secrets! Check out my Top Financial Products page for more.

71 thoughts on “Financial Samurai Mid-Year 2018 Personal Goals Checkup”

  1. It’s going to sound a bit out there, but your blog has helped me so much I will post this anyway!

    For 7) Stop feeling guilty for not doing more.

    The one major thing that has helped me more than anything else for not feeling guilty, or beholden, or responsible when I am not – is having cords of attachment cut by Rose Rosetree. In particular, I would suggest having the cord of attachment to your late friend cut.

  2. Fantastic post Sam covering the most important balancing act in life. For analytical people, it is the ultimate challenge to feel like we are optimising our decision making with respect to our competing life objectives … some of which are not easily measured i.e. responding to our strong emotions from our own childhoods, having high quality relationships, helping to build up wonderful small people.

    You are always inspirational and I am loving the complex new layers you are bringing to your usual intelligence and wit. Very thought-provoking.

  3. Hi Financial Samurai,

    I just came across your site, my wife and I are close to paying off our college loans and are going to start investing thereafter, thanks for sharing your experience and tips! You’ve given us a lot of ideas and motivation to reach our goals as well, thanks!

  4. Rocky Mountain Ironman

    Hi Sam-
    Ive read your blog for a while, and only now got around to commenting. This one caught my attention because it is something Ive been grappling with a bit too.

    I think it really comes down to defining what matters to you the most and then intentionally scheduling your time to meet your goals. Simple right?

    I am a single parent of 2, a partner in an AMLAW 200 law firm, and am a triathlete. When my kids are with me, I am fully engaged in what we are doing. And at the same time, for those of us like me, I recognize that I enjoy the challenge of having a goal, either professionally or personally and working towards it. While I work towards goals of independence and financial freedom that you have achieved, I also think I would need to spend those hot tub hours you describe working on some goal. I think we all need a form of defined purpose.

    If you can define your purpose, you can work to architect your life around it and then make choices that consider, will this get me closer to the goal or take me somewhere else? And if it is somewhere else, is that somewhere else a place that might open up something else?

    So back to the point, for me it means maximizing that quality time. Sure, I could do more cleaning myself, but is that how I want to spend all my time when my kids here here? or for that matter, when I am alone? No, so I have a house cleaner come by weekly. It means I am spending money that I could be saving, but by doing it I am investing in quality time with my family, for my health and well being, and just to recharge. I still do my share, but having that bit of help buys me time.

  5. Samurai- Keep up the great work! I love your blog!

    We don’t write goals, as we’re just busy working, paying bills and helping the kids. I guess our goal is the same- pay off the mortgages as fast as we can. Some months are better than others but we keep going…..

    Working and raising a family is tough. How you and your wife work it out is your decision and you bravely put it out there.
    When people are negative about what we do, my DH has the perfect comment. He says,” Just be glad you’re not them.” However critical, angry, whatever they are to us, we are so happy we are not them! You get the idea.

    Keep on being successful and best of luck to you!

  6. Akhil Mishra

    I think Our family is most important. In hope and aspiration of earning more and increasing our fame, we tend to reduce our family time.
    I welcome and respect your decision to prioritize your time.
    And as always, it was a great post.

  7. Sam I envy your structured approach to life. Writing down goals and achieving them must feel awesome.

    We’re all different and we all have different approaches to living our best life. For me, it’s all about awareness, being present and approaching life with truckloads of appreciation. Perhaps easier for me to do as a single 48 year old with no kids and fairly financially independent. My challenge is staying hungry and financially engaged, as I feel like I have way more than enough and spend most of my time in the Caribbean teaching tennis, playing music, connecting with myself and people in beautiful places. The satisfaction I get from these activities, even with fairly low pay, make my life feel like a fairy tale. From my experience, number based goals usually leave something to be desired, especially when you hit them as it can create a drug like addiction. Experience based goals, such as laughter, connection with others, and DEEP inner peace, these are where life really takes off for me. We’re told to keep track how much we spend per day. Have you counted how many times you laughed in one day? Smiled and said hello to a stranger? Can we create daily goals of awesome moments?

    1. Don’t envy me, enjoy your lifestyle to the max as you are. You have the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want, and that is something a parent can no longer do for 18 years at least. But I plan to change that after the age of five when we might go on a worldwide adventure for years.

      A daily goal might be a little too rigid for me. It be nice to look at things holistically overall and answer the question: am I happy? Am I content?

      1. Contentment is underrated by many people. But it is a feeling of deep satisfaction with life. Many people spend so much time, effort, and money trying to buy happiness, they end up never being either happy or content.

  8. Sam,
    Thank you for the post. Just curious as to why you choose to stay in SF ? Unless that place is absolutely Nirvana for you there are some great places in this country to live absent the negative energy SF seems to provide…

  9. Sam, this article is a great example for why your blog is so popular. We love your analytical approach to everything – including your personal goals – and admire how productive you are in all aspects of your life.

    I’m surprised by anyone who can read this article and have a negative impression about the contributions you’re making at home. The time you’re spending with FS Jr is awesome and admirable. It’s amazing that you’re able to keep your work productivity so high while making such a big contribution to raising him.

    My only suggestion (coming from a busy working parent) is to get more help. Even more time from babysitters (maybe even go part time or full time nanny), more hiring of house help — your time is so valuable, we’d miss you too much if you ever lost the energy to keep writing. Seems like your #1 risk factor to guard against is getting burned out from doing too much yourself. I would be worried about a lack of sleep catching up you eventually.

    My personal goals in 2018 were focused on the daily time scale. Make each day as great as possible, and specifically make time each day (1) to exercise, (2) to think, and (3) to have fun. I have a sign in my home office as a consistent reminder.

    Good stuff as always!

  10. Sam, I just came back from a vacation to Vancouver from the Bay Area and while it wasn’t my first there, I brought my toddler son with me this time. He really loves Canada. Vancouver and Richmond areas are full of Asians. It actually feels like I was in Asia. I’m even considering moving to Vancouver down the road. I used to live in San Francisco but moved to Millbrae for the good public school district. After speaking with business partners, family and friends that live in Vancouver, the school systems in Ca sounds good.

    The reason that I mentioned the above is because I wonder if you Have considered moving to Vancouver if you want your son to go to public school with more Asians? Asians do not seem like a minority’s there. :)

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Vancouver is nice for six months of the year. But it’s too cold for the rest of the time there. Also, Vancouver housing prices are even more expensive than San Francisco’s housing prices. And there is no solid in the street they are to warrant such prices. It’s just nuts up there so I would avoid. But I know it’s a nice place :-)

  11. Ms. Conviviality

    In the book “Off Balance, On Purpose” by Dan Thurmon, the author presented the perspective that balance is something we can observe only over a long period of time. He provided the 4 seasons in Chicago as an example of how it represents the full spectrum of weather throughout the year but depending on the season it’s not always going to feel comfortable. It’s freezing in winter (not pleasant) and cool in the spring (pleasant). If we were to look at our lifetime as a calendar year then we shouldn’t expect there to be balance at any specific moment in our life because that isn’t natural.  I recall you mentioning that when you were in banking you used to work 12+ hours a day.  At that time, you were certainly off balance since much of your time was spent elevating your career/stockpiling income. That extra work that you put in over your 13 year career has paid off because you now have more time to spend with family.  I bet that if you were to calculate the hours that you put in beyond 40 it would amount to around 7 years of work so you had already put in the time which allowed you to retire earlier.  Granted you still seem to put in a lot of work on FS but I say continue doing as much or as little of it as you like.  The most important thing is that you find your happy place.  It could be that reflecting on your goals has revealed areas that you would like to spend more time but I don’t think you should feel that the number of primary care hours you spend with your son should be equal to your wife’s as long as she is ok with how things are.  My husband and I have had conversations about how we would handle childcare if we had children.  We agreed that I would continue working and he would be a stay at home dad so his “job” would be to take care of the baby but just because he’s home with the baby all day doesn’t mean that I need to rush home after work so I could take over childcare duties.  I still plan on going to the gym twice a week and attending book club twice a month.  I would still be the one cooking meals since I really enjoy it.  Everyone has drivers that keep them motivated and feeling fulfilled.  If setting goals and seeing them accomplished does it for you then keep doing it. I, on the other hand, haven’t set goals for years because it really got me feeling down when I didn’t accomplish them.  I haven’t found that the lack of goals has stunted my growth.  Rather, I let the joy from taking small steps and achieving sucess to inspire me.  It’s kind of aligned with that Chinese saying you’ve shared where if you’re heading in the right direction you’ll eventually arrive at your destination.

  12. Todd Whitley

    I can write more later, but for now we’re headed to the Olympic mountains to pick up our son from scouts and taking a hike to a waterfall! The nice thing about homeschooling is that this did not have to be on a Saturday!

    Examples of socialization at different ages: when we lived in California, when our boys were under 5, the socialization was typically with fellow home school families, and church. But that’s no different than the typical play-dates everyone does at that age. As they get older, we would enroll them in a variety of local classes, we were active in our faith community, volunteer work, scouts, sports teams, etc. There are endless opportunities for good socialization. We’re social creatures! It’s against our nature not to socialize.

    Traveling with kids and home school is something we do as often as possible, but it often seemed difficult logistically. The kids are either too young, or work (self-employed) interferes, or the kids are too busy with other commitments.

    We’ve traveled to Boston, Florida, Kansas City, Portland, Santa Barbara as a home school family, and we’re finally planning a trip to Costa Rica someday soon, but life is busy, right? When we do travel, we spend time studying the area, before during and after, but anyone with a natural curiosity would do that right?

    Remember – everyone is their child’s first teacher.

  13. Todd Whitley

    A thought provoking post to be certain! A couple of things stood out to me from the comments.

    First, it’s insane to me that despite incredibly high taxes, there’s no guarantee that you son will “accepted” into a public school, so your alternative is to pay for private school. What? That reality doesn’t spark street protests of angry taxpayers? Where’s the accountability for stewardship of tax dollars in San Francisco?

    Second, as someone else pointed out: home school baby! It’s the ultimate freedom and responsibility tact you could take. It’s requires an entrepreneurial mindset, in my opinion, which is perfect for you, I would think.

    It’s not easy, but it’s a choice we made 20 years ago, and we’ve home schooled all of our five children. Our oldest is now in college, and the two younger boys are completing their high school curricula, and also on track to be Eagle Scouts!

    When we travel, everyplace is an opportunity to learn! It’s just the way our family is wired! We love going to museums, and exploring the local area – no theme parks for us, not that there’s anything wrong with that!

    And home school styles vary almost as much as home school families – lots of diversity of thought. We’re a very laid back unstructured home school family (un-schoolers), while some we know essentially “School at Home”, with a classroom structure, and even text-books and a school calendar that follow the local school district.

    In any event, perhaps this is something to explore for your family. And the “socialization” thing is a complete myth. There are ample opportunities to “properly” socialize your son at his own pace and maturity level. And as we always say, “Would you like your son or daughter socialized by the school bully?” We tend to think that the school environment itself is really odd when you think about it. Where else at any other age are you artificially grouped into dozens of people all the same age? Certainly not in the real world.

    1. Yes, the public school system is rigged. I’ll certainly write a post in the future about our son’s journey, but first I’ll write about the preschool system.

      Regarding the myth, can you provide some detailed examples of the opportunities for your children to socialize with other kids at various grade levels?

      I do like the idea of homeschooling while also slow traveling the world. What do you think?

  14. re: “One in three people will get cancer. And one in four people will die from cancer. The closest thing to curing cancer is early detection. However, most cancer is detected only after a patient feels symptoms. By stage three, only 8% of cancer patients live past five years.”

    One in three get cancer? One in four will die from cancer? Only 8% with >= Stage 3 live more than 5 years? Where did you get these statistics? This is very depressing.

    When I was diagnosed with Stage 3+ Triple Negative Breast Cancer back in November 2008 not too long after I turned 50, I thought I would be dead in six months. You definitely look at life a whole lot differently when you think you only have a short time remaining. Since I thought my cancer was primarily due to the amount of stress I was enduring at work, I did everything in my power to lower my stress level. I was out on disability from late January 2009 until early July 2009 for chemo treatments (first one on President Obama’s inauguration day; the last one on Cinco de Mayo), surgery (June 10th), and recovery. My week day radiation treatments started in August shortly after my return to work. I left work an hour early so my husband could drive me to my evening appointments. Once I completed all my active treatments, my goal was to survive the next 5 years to make it to age 55 so I could qualify for my company’s early retirement pension “5 year period certain” payout option. That way if anything happened to me, my beneficiaries would still get the pension I had earned over my nearly 29 year career with the company.

    I still can’t believe (1) I am here almost ten years after feeling my “lump of coal” for the first time (it was 10 centimeters – about the size of a medium apple – which was a fairly large sized tumor), (2) I actually survived the five years needed to make it to early retirement, AND (3) I lived the additional five years needed to collect my entire pension payout!

    Life is a gift; every day is “gravy”. We never know how much of it we will have. Give your family the greatest gift: YOURSELF! If you want to be around to see your son grow up, move that health check up to a higher priority on your goals list! Watch your stress level, and get plenty of rest. I’m sure a majority of your readership appreciates all the hard work you put into FS. But remember: FAMILY FIRST. And just because the government isn’t going to tax the first $22 million of your estate, that doesn’t mean you have to have $22 million in your estate. ;)

    1. I’m glad you are still here! And I am amazed that you went back to work despite doing chemotherapy. Was that out of necessity for healthcare coverage or the desire to focus on something else.

      10 cm sounds very large. What do you think is the reason why you didn’t notice it earlier? Does cancer grow quickly? I feel if I go get a physical at least once a year, or his case, I’ll have missed something for one year. But I plan to do self check ups.

      As for my stress level, I wonder if everything is relative here. In my world, I have Stress and a low stress environment since I work from home and control my own schedule. Perhaps it’s simply because I share my struggles and my goals that it may seem more stressful than the average person who keeps everything quiet?

      1. Clarification: I was on disability during my chemo treatments, for surgery, and through surgery recovery. For radiation, I was working, but was given paid accommodation to leave early each work day in order to make my appointments.

        At this point, I can’t remember why I didn’t take more time off. Perhaps because I hadn’t signed up for the long term disability benefit offered by my employer, and all my short term disability benefits were ending? Perhaps because the medical personnel all told me I could continue working throughout the course of my radiation treatments? All I know is I should have believed them when they told me I would get very fatigued after three weeks of treatments! Once that happened, it took me a very LONG time to get my stamina back (over a year, maybe?).

        I accidentally discovered a golf ball sized lump sticking out of my breast one morning (November 30, 2008) while I was taking my shower. It was a complete shock to me, since my annual mammogram taken six weeks earlier had come back clear! So yes, I suppose my particular cancer was pretty fast growing.

        One thing I learned during my cancer journey was that many women who think they might have breast cancer are too afraid (or maybe can’t afford?) to go to the doctor to have it checked out. I can’t understand why those who can afford to see a doctor don’t go to see a doctor. If you think you have a life threatening illness, you are not doing yourself any favors by waiting. Cancer is the scourge of mankind. These things need to be diagnosed as soon as possible in order for you to have a fighting chance of successful survivorship. Just make sure to listen to your body. If you happen not to be feeling right between annual physicals, get it checked out. For example, if you have a persistent cough that never seems to go away after a couple months, make an appointment with your doctor to see what’s going on. I could be a simple case of post nasal drip for which you have to use saline nasal spray twice a day every day for the rest of your life … or it could be the first signs of lung cancer, which will likely shorten your life span considerably!

        Regarding my conclusions of your stress level:
        1. One of your mottos is “always keep grinding”. Maybe it should be “Grind when family circumstances permit”?
        2. Sometimes we aren’t aware of just how much stress we are putting on ourselves. My boss once asked me, “Maybe we just get used to it?” When you are under a lot of self-imposed stress, you might build up a tolerance for a certain level of stress, and then not realize your stress level is gradually building up.
        3. But hey, as long as you are not sniping at your wife, or getting upset over stupid little things (i.e., the straw that breaks the camel’s back because he was so overloaded), then your stress level is likely not that bad. ;)

        I appreciate all your hard work on FS, just don’t work TOO hard! :)

        1. “It was a complete shock to me, since my annual mammogram taken six weeks earlier had come back clear!“

          Wow, that really is shocking how quickly it developed! I’ll be sure to tell my wife to do more regular check ups. No messing around now that we have a son to take care of for the next 18 years!

          I’m putting the phrase, “always be grinding“ to bed. It was fine for my 20s and 30s, but I am very focused in my 40s on taking it down to knowledge and living the good life.

          It’s taking time to adjust to chilling out, but I am getting there a little bit each month.

          1. It does take a little while to learn to “chill out”.

            Since I always kept myself so productively occupied while I was working (prior to November 30, 2008 that is), my hubby was worried I would have a hard time adjusting to retirement (it took him six months to adjust to being retired, but then he worked 6 nights per week, with a different day off each week). After being on disability for six months, I told him, “I could get used to this!” and would have no trouble with retirement. (My chemo treatments were every three weeks, so I always had one good week out of three. In retirement, pretty much every week is a good week!) What a difference from when I had to PRACTICE relaxing by sitting at an outdoor table when having lunch at a nearby eatery prior to going on vacation to France in 2003! Now it is great to have the time, option, and ability to just simply “watch the world go by” when I so desire.

  15. I hope you achieve those goals that you set for yourself. It is easy to get caught up for sure blogging and trying to get traffic etc. But in my opinion you won the game and can rest on your laurels a bit. Time with your rapidly growing boy is precious and you are in a position where any financial hit not going full speed is not really going to impact your future or your business. It amazes me that you can pay exorbitant property taxes out there and still not be able to have your kid attend a local school. Well it sucks you wont be writing as much from a readers standpoint but I will get over it.

  16. Sam, good for you. Focus on yourself and your family. Great long term plan.

    We will miss the reduction of highly specialized posts. We will also miss your ability to chase all the new opportunities that you bring from the west coast to the main land. Uber and your experience. RealtyShares…
    our loss but your gain.
    Can’t wait to hear that you moved to HI and that you sold FS the future.
    Plus you still make a killing on your severance book.

  17. Sam. I’ve never met you. But, I’ve been following your blog for several years. You seem to be a great father and husband. Ignore what the “haters” say. If anything, you probably do more than most men do for your wife and son (at his current age and your stage in life). It’s a shame to receive such derogatory comments from other readers, trying to find faults with you. They must have other personal issues.

    You are really passionate and affectionate about your son as written in many of your previous posts and it clearly shows that you are a GREAT dad AND husband. Continue the greatness!

    1. That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you! I’m just trying to stay focused because I only have one chance at fatherhood, so I better do it as best as possible.

      It is a bummer to get criticized for trying to do better. But it’s also a learning moment for when it’s time for me to parent my son and his efforts to not criticize his efforts, but praise his efforts and explain things as much as possible.

      The learning points that I remember most from my parents were when they explained why things are, and not when they disciplined me with harsh words or physical discipline.

  18. Great job in getting some help Sam. Definitely love the smell of lysol when I get home on cleaning days. Ciao!

  19. Okay, I preface this by noting that I don’t live your life so I don’t know what it’s like to be you, but from a clearly objective opinion, you are way too hard on yourself. You clearly work very hard, it’s obvious that you love your family and you have a substantial amount of savings to live a full life. So why push yourself so hard?

    There’s a value to letting go of being so goal driven. You get to live your life in the moment, rather than looking at it in retrospect as a metric of how well you’re doing.

    Also, as a white immigrant, I can’t speak to your fears about your son growing up as a minority, but I can say, if there’s one place in the US that embraces diversity, it’s here. Plus there’s a strong Asian population in the bay area. I hope your son will not feel as isolated as you did growing up.

    Take some time to appreciate that you’re already 50,000 miles ahead of most Americans. Feel free to take your foot off the pedal for a second and enjoy the journey! :)

    1. Thanks Caren! It’s hard to take my foot off the pedal when folks like Another Sam in the comments section says I’m not doing enough. There is truth to all criticism, even if she has daycare/full time nanny, it means I need to do more.

      But I will do my best to ignore and do what’s best for my family. I think growing up in San Francisco will be great for my son. But I’ll doubt he’ll get into our target public school, and the private school system is so homogenous.

      Here’s to always improving! Or sending my son to daycare more so we can relax more :)


      1. You are certainly doing way more than enough and I can’t see how you do it. I always do too much, but I get further if I cut back and focus. I certainly need to take my foot off the gas sometimes, which quickly cures burn out. For example, when I was working, starting June 1st to September 1st, I left the office at 4 pm. Also, took off an extra long weekend in January.

        Criticism is hard but I am always my own worst critic. Much better to be your own biggest fan. My motto is not to take any criticism, assume nothing is my fault. Suggestions and comments from an outside point of view are okay, best if people say how they handled the issue.

      2. I find it useful to have a goal of finding excellent “useful people”, e.g. ideal hairdresser, brilliant lawyer, best plumber, fantastic house cleaner. I used to complain about everybody and just assumed everyone provided poor service. Then I changed to the goal of magnificent outcomes. It works! And relieves stress enormously to have great people in your life. I will risk giving advice on child raising by advising getting more people involved in your child’s upbringing, like a nanny 1 or 2 days a week. Definitely, you need a housekeeper to clean the house weekly or every two weeks. Even I have that with one person and 1000 sq ft. Cook the meals, but let somebody else vacuum. It will change your life. I love the idea of one reader of each of you taking the baby out for a walk or visit on your own.

  20. You said you live off 2% of your income. Is that a typo? Do you mean 2% of your net worth? What do you define as a living expense?

    That number seems insanely low to me.

  21. Love the idea of hiring help. I think having a housecleaner is essential to a happy marriage :) And forget private school. You live in SF. Hire tutors if you must but homeschool dude. You have arts and culture everywhere. And no where will your child find more diversity of thought, age and culture than with other homeschoolers. Our kids made friends with all ages of children based on common interests, not on sitting next to someone in class. We lived in this amazing world and explored. Then they went to a hybrid high school with some work being done online and some in the classroom. This is showing your kids real life. This is real socialization. I realize everyone can’t do this but you can.

    1. Do you have some homeschooling website resources you can send me? How did your kids meet other kids? How did you get them into extracurricular activities and such?

      We’re thinking about actually homeschooling while traveling the world, or sending him to international school while we live abroad.

      1. Homeschool in Ca is very simple – you send in your private school affidavit every year, and you educate your child. There are also virtual charter schools if you prefer being monitored (but they do give you a stipend to spend on educational materials). To meet other kids, you can sign up for homeschooling associations/groups and meet at museums, parks, etc or just go to the local playground and see who is there. A homeschool co-op will offer some classes, though your best bet is just to sign your kid up for lessons such as piano, guitar, karate, etc which you would do anyways and you would meet kids there, too. I’m on the wrong side of the bay so I can’t help you much with the dynamics of homeschooling in SF, but this site has some Bay Area groups listed (there are many more than are listed) –

        My kids are little still, but I plan on homeschooling my kindergartener because our local schools are terrible.

  22. Hi Sam, I grew up in SF as a new immigrant. Know just where you are coming from regarding bullying etc. I used to get into fights every day in grade school also, and I went to a private school (didn’t have the same cachet back in the day as now).

    How come no one else was curious about the numbers you threw out there? Did you set a goal of making $2 M more because you are only $2 M from the $22 M estate limit? Holy smokes! Great job, especially considering most of it you built from man-hours!

    If you spend only 2% of net income in expensive SF, that kind of implies you are netting at least $5 M a year? Double holy smokes!

    1. I actually went to high school and college in Virginia, where Asian people were definitely the minority unlike in San Francisco, where minorities are the majority. So the adjustment was tougher because I was living in Asia for the first 13 years of my life. But it built character, So there is a lot of positive for going through conflict.

      Your numbers are off. But that’s the fun of it isn’t it? Hope all is well!

      1. Asian people were in the minority in SF when I was in grade school. There were 3 Asians in about 60 students in my grade. Completely different story now!

        One of them is a police chief now and the other is CEO of a mid-sized company.

        1. Cool.

          Asian people are definitely the majority at public schools now, but have you seen the racial make up at private grade schools in San Francisco? The majority is def white.

          Which grade school did you attend? I work as a high school coach and a private high school and the racial make up deafly does not reflect the city’s current demographic.

          1. Check out Vancouver. Majority Asians. Public and private schools, Asians do excel. I don’t know about bullying personally.

            1. I don’t need to be in a city that is majority Asian. But I do like to be in the city that is diverse like San Francisco or New York city. Vancouver is lovely for six months of the year. But the other six months is not so good in the housing costs are even higher than San Francisco.

              It’s Hawaii or nothing.

  23. Aw, this is a well thought out list. I’m glad you’re taking a step back for family and enjoyment. A lot of sage bloggers have built it up to the point that they can which is great.

    #2 is the sweetest thing, 40 hours! I don’t think I see my husband during the week for 40 hours combined!

    #8 is quite scary since I don’t do full check ups and have never had a full physical.

    I don’t think your son will be bullied. I grew up in SF and as much of a mess as I was (illiterate and poor) most of the children were still very nice & sweet to me. I did stand up for myself once or twice in my entire school career but whenever I did, I won them. There’s important life lessons in school yard hardship.

    1. Ha! I think a lot of stayed home spouses are happy not to see their husbands or wives for most of the week :-)

      Your feedback is so different from Commenter “Another SAM.” It’s interesting how everybody leads different lives and that the best like we should leave it is the one that best suits our desires.

      I am pretty sure there will be bullying, because kids are very mean. And then these bullies become workplace bullies and Internet bullies. It’s just the way things are because there aren’t enough parents to spend time explaining things to their children.

      But I really pity the person who messes with my son or messes with me.

  24. I commend you Sam for taking the time to reflect on youe goals mid year and to put yourself out there. It is not an easy thing to do and so many people don’t realize that. I think you are doing an incredible job and should feel proud for all the work you’ve done so far this year. The fact that you are self reflecting and want to continually improve yourself and the life of your family shows how caring, thoughtful, and forward thinking you are. Most people have long forgotten about all of their goals by this time of year and don’t even bother to think about what they’ve done and what they want to do for the second half of the year. You do a lot! So much more than people realize. I know how hard it is to run a blog and mine isn’t even anywhere close to yours. You’re doing an awesome job juggling SO many things!

  25. You’re doing very well. Nice job so far. Childcare will get a ton easier as your kid gets a bit older. That’s a few years off, though. For me, it got more difficult when he turned 2. We had a lot more conflicts. Once he goes off to school, life became pretty easy.

    I think it’s just your personality to work more. I’m a lot more laid back and I can relax more. Maybe you’ll become less A type as you get older? You’re already set financially.
    Good luck with preschool and potty training.

    1. Honestly, I think I’m a pretty laid-back person. But I think there is a level of consistent stress as a sole income provider. There is also a difference between being laid-back and work ethic. You can be laid-back but also have a very strong work ethic.

      You have the luxury of being retired while your wife works. But I am so thankful that my wife is a full-time mom during this most precious time. She is awesome awesome awesome. Perhaps when he goes to kindergarten I can get her to go to work full time and join you :-)

  26. Another SAM

    Sam, I can’t believe I didn’t catch this before. “Assistance to [your] wife”!?!?!

    Parenting, cooking, cleaning, etc. are part of being an adult and a parent, and equally your responsibility as hers. This isn’t the 1950s. You’re not “assisting your wife,” you’re being a responsible adult in a relationship who shares childcare and housekeeping duties. I can’t believe this is even a “goal” of yours; it’s certainly not something you should celebrate if you achieve it, as it’s really the bare minimum standard of being a parent and spouse.

    1. You’re absolutely right. But how do I become a better father and partner if I don’t have a goal of doing even more of the housework and childcare duties?

      I’m currently providing 4-5 hours of primary care, where I take the lead. And I want to do one more hour a day of primary care out of his 12 hours that he’s awake. When I’m not primary, I am doing the household chores etc.

      But that’s really the most I can do on a regular basis, because I also have to work on the business and manage our investments to provide income for the family.

      I appreciate your criticism, but if you could help provide some suggestions on how you are able to do it all, and how your schedule is broken down as the primary breadwinner and primary caretaker, I would greatly appreciate it. We do not use daycare, but are trying to get more babysitting help as well.

      Related: A Day In The Life Of Two Work From Home Parents


      1. Perhaps a more constructive approach or goal is to totally own the care giving. Just the same as you are giving yourself credit for shared parenting time, so too is your wife sharing time if you and Baby Samurai are at home while you are the “primary caretaker”. Make the goal to take your son out of the house to a park, for a walk, grocery shopping, to a kid activity, etc entirely for at least an hour, 1 or 2 times a week or whatever duration and frequency works for your family. From a mom’s view, at this age you are always “on duty” unless your child is not with you but also with someone you implicitly trust. You are that guy and the time you will spend one on one with your son will be awesome for all.

        1. I think that’s a great idea. An easy thing to do is take him more on strolls around the neighborhood by myself.

          Providing relief from always being on is good.

          Does your partner work from home as well? How do/did you guys manage the first few years?

          1. We took a different path and used day care in the early days. Even though I work from home, I travel to clients and job sites quite a bit (2-3 times a month for 2-3 days each) and my husband travels about once a month but for the entire work week when he does. Because of this we couldn’t keep up without day care or a nanny. The forced single parent time was super tough but amazing for all. The traveler returned refreshed and ready to take over as lead parent and the parent that stayed at home, while tired and ready for a break, built up confidence in their own skills. We were at the extreme end of my suggestion of relief, but small doses are just as helpful!

            1. Financial Samurai

              That makes sense. And I would never criticize your use of daycare or a nanny or anyone using a daycare or nanny during the working hours. Which is why I’m perplexed at what I am being criticized for trying to do MORE primary care parenting and assisting.

              I used the word assist, because that’s what a lot of dad can only do during the first 6 months of life due to the constant breastfeeding. If I could breastfeed as well, I would, but I can’t.

              What I am always fascinated with are critical response from readers and where they are coming from.

              I firmly stand behind the belief that raising a baby/toddler is easier if you don’t have to raise them yourself. This is only logical. So it makes me wonder whether writing about being a stay at home parent produces some sort of rage or guilt from parents who work to pay someone to take care of their kids. If so, something I should be aware of.

      2. I think I owe you an apology. I didn’t mean for my comment to be rude; I’ve been reading your blog for so long it feels like I’m ribbing an old friend rather than anonymously attacking a stranger. I’m sorry.

        With that said, it’s about mindset. Every family will arrange their household chores and parenting differently. What matters is that a) your arrangement works for your family, and b) you recognize that even if you’re the primary breadwinner, chores and childcare are still shared responsibilities. Too often men talk about “helping their wife” with cleaning or even worse, “babysitting.” (What’s interesting is that even when women are the primary breadwinner, you never hear them say they’re “helping their husband” when they do chores or childcare) I don’t think you actually think of it that way, but be aware that your language matters. If you talk about helping your wife out at home, she may interprets that to mean that she has full responsibility for handling those tasks, and should be grateful when you contribute rather than expecting you to. That’s quite a mental burden.

        I did the stay at home parent thing for a brief 3 months of maternity leave, and I can tell you (though I think you know from your own experience), it’s significantly more difficult than working an office job.

        My spouse and I have a very different arrangement because we both work full time in relatively demanding and well compensated careers. We have a little one not much older than yours and we’re expecting a second later this year. We are fortunate to be in a situation where we have wonderful childcare while we’re at work, and we’re able to outsource a lot of our housework so that our time at home is quality time with our kid… but I know that’s certainly not an option for everyone.

        I salute your effort to take on more ownership at home. Just be aware of how you talk about those shared responsibilities.

        1. Thanks Sara. I spoke to my wife, and she doesn’t understand the uproar regarding semantics. Neither does she understand why you were so critical when you send your kids to day care and we are at home taking care of her kids during the day.

          Do you think it’s easier to take care of babies and toddlers if you don’t have to take care of them by both working full-time Jobs and letting someone else take care of them? If so, why be so critical of my efforts to try and spend more time taking care of my son? I’m already the sole income provider. I would think also being the primary caretaker for 4 to 6 hours a day would be a good thing, not something to trash.

          I found that full-time work is a walk in the park compared to full-time childcare. It’s part of the reason why I wrote the post about taking a vacation from parenting after two years by going back to work and finding a vacation job.

          If you were the sole income provider, how much childcare do you think you can provide a day on a regular basis? How much would you expect your husband, who is a stay at home spouse to provide? I know we are in a sensitive time where everybody gets easily offended, but come on now. I have bolded the words “primary caretaker” in my post to make it more clear.

          I don’t mind criticism, but I definitely would love to get some practical tips on how to do better. Your comment allowed me to write a new post about surviving the gauntlet as a sole income provider. So for that, I thank you.

          And of course, apology accepted.

        2. Paper Tiger

          “Just be aware of how you talk about those shared responsibilities.”

          You clearly missed the entire point of Sam’s post. If you are such an avid reader of Sam then you would know that he is very goal-oriented and writes out his goals to hold himself accountable. I doubt he is posting his family duty-sharing goals on the kitchen refrigerator to impress his wife on how much he is doing for her.

          What he is doing is organizing his goals and his time to remind himself of everything he needs to get done and to keep himself accountable and on track. In other words, he is using good technique to manage himself, and not looking for attaboys for being a good partner.

          You were right to apologize because you totally missed the mark on this one! Clearly, your own bias based on past experiences got in the way of objectively reading what Sam actually said and how it was intended. And no, he really doesn’t need to be aware of how he talks about those shared responsibilities.

          1. Well said! @AnotherSam clearly didn’t thoroughly think things through before she typed that comment. Sam is organizing and analyzing his time management in his goals review. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sam you’re doing great man!

        3. This is so weird. If you know how much effort it takes to be a stay at home mom for the three months you were a stay home mom, why did you rag on Sam for being a sole income provider AND a stay at home dad for over a year now? Not very encouraging to the dads out there who want to be stay at home dads! Your societal attitude against dad’s is exactly what is inhibiting equality in the household.

          I for one would be thrilled if my husband could provide some relief throughout the day. But he’s at work all day and we’ve decided it’s best if I stay at home. He does what he can in the evenings and weekdays.

          How many hours does your husband take care of your baby a day??

        4. “you recognize that even if you’re the primary breadwinner,”

          He’s the sole breadwinner. Talk about being the “primary breadwinner” is irrelevant to Sam’s situation.

          “chores and childcare are still shared responsibilities.”

          Why is it OK for breadwinning to be a given spouse’s sole responsibility but not chores and childcare?

          “What’s interesting is that even when women are the primary breadwinner, you never hear them say they’re ‘helping their husband’ when they do chores or childcare.”

          Personally, I’ve rarely heard anyone say they’re “helping” their spouse with chores and childcare when their spouse also works outside the home.

          However, when there is a sole breadwinner, I’ve certainly heard the word “help” used with respect to both genders, but obviously more so “helping my wife with chores” since there are more married households in which the husband is the sole breadwinner than in which the wife is the sole breadwinner.

        5. Wow! It takes courage to apologize! People on the internet never omit to being wrong or improper with their follow ups :)

          Language is a funny thing…and probably not an accurate way to argue on the internet without tones and context.

          I read Sam’s “40 hour goal” differently. I literally muttered “awww” when I read it in my head. My second thought was how fortunate Sam’s wife was. There’s family guys running around with their mistresses…blog language is small fish.

          The language he used to me was just making sure he had something solid to write down and report. Sam always had super goal oriented points, he has an expected outcome and he meets it.

    2. First of all your comment is really rude. Second, criticizing someone else’s goals is really insensitive. Third, Sam is most certainly not stuck in a 1950s mindset. You seem to be hung up on verbage, are lashing out your own personal issues and anger on someone else, don’t realize how much Sam does, and are overlooking the fact that every family is structured differently. He is a very caring parent, a very supportive husband, super hard working, and very self aware especially for putting himself out there and sharing bits of his personal life. Try putting your personal goals online and see how you feel when a stranger attacks you. If you are caught up in a 1950s mindset yourself somehow I think you should do some modern day reading on social etiquette and respect.

      1. Maybe I didn’t make it clear in my post that I work from home. I don’t know how many couples who were both stay at home parents in the 1950s? Although I did say I have worked more in the hot tub this year, which is at home.

        I need to find a way to simplify my writing and gold key phrases and do key summaries in the beginning or the end.

        It is kind of sad in my opinion that “modern day society “requires both parents to work all day now. But of course, if I write about that in a post, I’m sure it will create a lot of outrage as well.

    3. Wow, I feel sorry for your husband and your children. You are like the tiger dragon mom that everybody fears. Why don’t you tell us about how you raised your children full time and worked full time as well.

      Didn’t you say to both you and your husband worked in the foreign service and had a housekeeper do all your household chores? If so, what is the matter with you?

    4. How did you get your husband to work a full day and then provide another six hours taking care of the house and baby?

      Did you make your baby stay up for longer periods of time or was your baby a very poor sleeper? My baby is only up about 11 to 13 hours a day as well.

      You should probably be more gentle in your criticism if you aren’t willing to tell your story. Encourage your kids, not criticize.

  27. You mentioned spending more money on getting help but only in the context of house stuff & childcare etc. Have you considered hiring help for the blog? I realize you want to write your own posts etc but there are lots of extra duties that perhaps a virtual assistant could take off your hands.

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