To Get Better, Be Brutally Honest With Yourself

To get better, you must be brutally honest with yourself

To get better, you must be brutally honest with yourself. Open yourself up to stinging criticism and judgement so that you may improve upon your deficiencies.

One of the downsides of putting yourself out there is that you open yourself up to misinterpretation or criticism. Fear of ridicule is one of the biggest reasons why 97% of people don't do anything to change their life.

Fear is also one of the most important ingredients for achieve financial independence.

Be Honest With Yourself To Progress

Why do we conform?

It all starts with getting bullied at school or admonished by our teachers or parents for doing something different. Is it no wonder why we all get in line once we graduate?

For some reason, I was always the kid who fought back against bullies, no matter how big or how menacing they were. I figured, even if I got pounded to a pulp, before I did, I'd be able to at least get in one blow and it'd be worth defending my honor.

Because of my defiant behavior, I went to the principal's office plenty of times. I was suspended from school twice for fighting and my parents were none too pleased. It didn't matter who started the fight, if you fought back, you were equally punished. I thought this was a terrible system, which gave me my first clues into a rigged society.

Despite the discomfort of doing something new, I'll continue to experiment in order to grow. After all, “progress” is my one word definition of happiness.

But sometimes, I've got to recognize failure by being honest. Here are a couple examples. I'd love for you to share some of your examples as well. 

Honesty Is The Only Way To Get Better

Progress is my one-word definition of progress. Let's be brutally honest with ourselves if we want to get better.

1) Developing an audio version of each post.

When I'm too tired to sleep, I like to work to give insomnia the middle finger. One of the ideas that popped up was to make an audio version of each post. 

Not only would the audio version include some ad lib to give each post more color, it was also a good opportunity to practice my oral communication skills. Further, an audio version would make FS accessible to those who enjoy listening to podcasts during their commute.

After completing three audio versions, I asked for feedback in my free private newsletter whether folks found it useful or useless. To my disappointment, I only got ten responses out of 20,000+ subscribers. Nine said audio versions were useful, one said it was useless.

In my mind, I was thinking I'd get at least 50 responses, just like how I did when I asked for parenting tips. But I think people were too afraid to speak the truth.

Brutal Honesty

So if I'm brutally honest, what does this mean? It means: 1) nobody cares about audio versions, 2) I haven't made a strong enough connection with my newsletter readers, 3) I haven't added enough value to my subscribers, 4) my voice hurts people's ears, and 5) my newsletters are too long.

It's hard to realize the truth, but the truth is the only way I can optimize my time and improve my verbal delivery. What's the solution? Only do audio versions if I have the energy. If I do an audio version, try to speak more clearly and introduce new stories.

But also realize that since nobody cares about the audio version, I should feel free to let loose and just have fun with the delivery.

Here in 2023, I decided to spit in fear's face and record the Financial Samurai podcast anyway. I've consistently recorded every week for over three years. Check my podcast out on Apple and leave a great review.

2) Making people think in different ways.

I enjoy reading material that leaves me thinking about a situation long after I'm done. It's the same thing with movies like Inception or the season finale of The Sopranos. Whatever happens next is based on your interpretation.

Despite everybody saying they want the freedom to choose, I've found that most people simply like to be told what to do. Due to my personal preference for deeper thinking, I've ended up confusing many of my readers with unclear prose.

Here's an example of one reader's feedback from my post, How To Stop Worrying About Your Child's Future In A Brutally Competitive World. The entire point of my post was to help parents stop worrying about their kids not getting straight A's, not getting into a prestigious university, and not working at a coveted job that pays well.

He was set off by these two sentence in the post: Imagine spending almost $500,000 in private K-12 tuition only to see your child go to an average university anybody could have gotten into. Because the school is average, he will likely land an average job or no job.

Critical Feedback From A Reader

I find it interesting that you state as fact the equivalency of a top-rated university with a top rated job. Perhaps Silicon Valley is more merit based than your previous field, but after your first 3 year gig after graduating from any school your peers rate you on merit and the sky is the limit. 

I worked with very good people who trained a couple years in a local college and really bad people with PhDs from top rated schools.

I also believe it's somewhat telling of American ignorance to make a statement like that. Sort of like why Americans can't get universal health care in place. The powers that be are working hard influencing the population that “socialist” health care is bad. 

It's becoming ingrained into American Life practices that prevent upward mobility of the masses. I don't have the legacy statistics handy but many college acceptances are handed to those who have not earned them.

I mean – Didn't George W. go to Harvard? Doesn't that provide an interesting data point on the quality of graduates from Top Rated schools?

My opinion is that your child needs a higher education as an pass to get into the workforce. If the industry is merit based, he needs work ethic, communication skills and a bunch of other attributes that are not taught in schools for success.

Embrace The Feedback

It sure sounds like he agrees with me, yet he doesn't realize it. Getting a college education today doesn't guarantee you squat anymore, and it certainly won't guarantee you anything 18 years from now. I even link to the post: What If You Go To Harvard And End Up A Nobody, yet the reader still thinks I only believe people who go to top rated universities get top rated jobs.

If I'm brutally honest with myself, what does this conflict mean? It means: 1) I write too much fluff, 2) confuse people, 3) don't understand the trend of shorter attention spans, and 4) stubbornly think people like multiple layers in a post just because I do.

So what's the solution? Write shorter, simpler posts that tell it like it is. Just like USA Today, dumb down posts to make them easier to understand.

For example, instead of sharing stories explaining why so many people have miserably low 401k balances, just write something simple like, “People don't save because life happens.” Bam! Time saved. Message conveyed. If I can't get my point across, I'm failing.

Seek Judgement To Get Better

Look, I know it's easier to do nothing. But if you want to get better, I challenge you to open up yourself to judgement and ridicule. Some people will be nicer than others when it comes time to evaluating what you've put out in the world. Others will project their insecurities onto you. Embrace the feedback and be brutally honest with yourself! It's the best way to get better.

Feedback from readers has given me the green light to introduce posts that are short and simple. Being honest made me realize I've been spending too much time doing things that don't matter. I've got to focus if I want to get better at writing good posts. As someone who needs more time, these discoveries are a blessing.

After publishing my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That, I sought feedback. I read the critical reviews of my book on Amazon. Now, with my second book deal, I plan to utilize the feedback to write the next best personal finance book possible.

Other benefits of being honest with yourself:

  • You'll stop blaming others for your problems and focus on improving yourself. As soon as you wipe away your delusion, you will become happier.
  • You can scale your business faster because you're addressing the lowest common denominator. Personal finance sites that focus on saving and frugality are often much larger than sites that focus on different ways to earn more money.
  • You will get paid and promoted faster at work because you'll more clearly recognize your blind spots. It's hard for your colleagues and friends to be brutally honest with your deficiencies because they don't want to hurt your feelings, get sued, or get murdered when you decide to go postal.
  • To get better, demonstrate unwavering commitment to your craft. After I reached my 10-year mark on Financial Samurai, I finally felt like I could write with authority and ease.

Relate posts:

Be Unapologetically Fierce About Pursuing Your Dreams

How To Motivate Yourself When The Desire To Be Rich Is Gone

The Best Career Advice From A Mentor

Overcoming The Trough Of Sorrow

Update: Thanks to reader feedback, I've created a Financial Samurai iTunes channel to subscribe to. This way, if you prefer listening, you can always get the latest audio version delivered directly to your iPhone. Further, I've created a Financial Samurai Podcast Page that has every single podcast I've published, including the links to the respective posts. Bookmark it or search for it in my search box.

Readers, what are some of the ways you're putting yourself out there? What kinds of critical feedback have you received that helped make yourself a better person? Any more feedback for me to make FS better without spending more time? Thanks!

124 thoughts on “To Get Better, Be Brutally Honest With Yourself”

  1. PS I’m here with teenagers, and, unfortunately, they report that no amount of teaching teenagers now will help you to relate to your own when they are sixteen. They do still like spending time with us, though not as much as when they were two. I do not have lessons to impart — teen would say some of the part is merely personalities, but I think accepting your children for who they are and joining each other for common interests is also part of it.

  2. I haven’t read the other comments and can’t speak to the financial role of your blog (I’m unlikely — but not impossibly– to pay for this content. But I read because the posts are multilayered. I’m not a regular reader; but I’m vacationing in Hawaii and started thinking about buying a vacation home and knew that you’d post was the one I wanted to re-read, precisely because it is multilayered. Unlike the short to the point averaged articles at CNN and Forbes and WSJ, you describe the motivation, the fantasy, and the finances.

    So I hope your brutal honesty doesn’t mean you embrace writing about your average self to the average population.

  3. Todd Guthrie

    There’s a huge audience for YouTube videos. Try making a few of those. Maybe audio-only or slideshow-style. You might be able to break into a new market for audio/video personal finance content.

  4. Thanks for making these audio versions available. They’re great to have for treadmill days, or for a long walk with the dog. I am more of a reader than a listener, but I definitely appreciate having the option, and I know there are folks that won’t even bother if it’s not a podcast, so you did the right thing, for sure!

  5. Hi Sam,

    I like your posts and I love the podcast even more because it allows me to multi-task when I’m on my PC. I love playing podcasts or music on the background while I’m surfing the net, doing something on my computer, driving, eating or doing a chore. As for people misinterpreting your proses, I can’t say that I’ve encountered that issue because I can tell that you use very careful language when you state a personal opinion. I guess I was wrong but I do know that you can’t please everyone and an opinion is just an opinion, everyone is entitle to one. Discussions are a good way for people with different ideas to exchange points of views, but retaliating to a misunderstood statement or opinion only reflects poorly on yourself.

    Overall, I consider myself a good person so for my actions to be questioned as in bad taste I have an imperfect system I abide by in order to determine if I should correct my behavior. I measure what I say or do as right or wrong based on a consensus; if the majority of people I know don’t disapprove then I don’t correct myself, if the majority do disagree with my actions then I try to correct it. It’s not a perfect system but I don’t think there exists one that can please everyone from expressing their own opinions.

  6. It’s not your deeper thinking, it is your unclear prose that is the cause of confusion. People come here for your unique perspective, so keep it up! Even if traffic here isn’t as big as other basic financial advice sites, the content here is better. Nothing to learn from the other sites.

    Focus on a clear, organized, logical, edited posts (with humor and personal stories thrown in), but don’t dumb down your messages.

    1. Sounds good. I know I’m not very good writer, but I’ll keep on trying to improve. Do you have some writing tips for me or some examples of posts you’ve written that I can try and emulate? Thanks!

  7. Hey Sam,

    I noticed the audio version of your posts a few weeks and gave it a listen instead of reading your posts exclusively. I found it helpful that you are reading the stuff you wrote but more comfortable listening to it on my desktop/laptop than on mobile because I like reading the posts as I am listening to the audio version at the same time. Obviously you can’t do that when your driving since you have the audio only.
    I also like the ab-lib stuff you put on the audio. It puts more clarity to further describe what you were writing in your post.
    And about your newsletter, I admit that I do not thoroughly read the whole thing. I skim through it and reminds me what you have going on in the blog. It’s probably why I didn’t notice the audio version until recently.

  8. Tech Worker

    Sam, good post, what you and me and the 3% who care know that most people wont be honest with you so you need to always be honest, and no matter how much praise you get, you can always improve!

    And likewise you need to pick your spots in giving feedback, both in a group setting and 1-1. Always give one positive before the negative….

    Dont get bummed on low feedback, we post what they think is great content that supposedly got to 80,000 people and we get a hundred clicks. But other content to a different honest gets 50% click through. People click when they think what you deliver adds value for them

    Last – podcasts 7 min maximum and 3 min for video. that’s it….

  9. FWIW – I’m a reader/visual person, I will always pick the written word over audio/video. I do listen to a few podcasts, and they are generally based around conversations/interviews – it’s never just one solo host.

  10. Some of us really just prefer reading to listening – I read a lot of personal finance/entrepreneurship books (I have like 3 on my desk I just checked out from the library…), so I don’t want to listen to PF/entrepreneurship podcasts. I do listen to political podcasts though – because reading about politics makes me want to throw the book across the room, and I know I won’t throw my smartphone across the room ;)

    Nothing against your voice at all! I just feel I personally absorb more by reading – that’s just my learning style and what I prefer. For some reason, I tend to tune in and out while listening to podcasts/radio, which means politics podcasts are perfect (you can tune out here and there and still get the gist/be informed about the crazy stuff going on) – but I would hate to miss out on anything from the great PF/entrepreneur writers out there.

    I understand being brutally honest… I’ve been kicking it around for my own blog. About a year ago I had phenomenal readership, then I took a break from blogging (work ramped up), that was a huge mistake, and over the last year of steady blogging, my numbers haven’t rebounded. Are those readers gone for good? Maybe. Maybe it’s time to move on.

    So for now I’m diversifying with some other blogs to see if it’s a) my topic (maybe my current, “old” blog isn’t in style anymore or b) my writing (maybe I overall suck at connecting to readers, and any blog/endeavor I take on will fail).

    I’m giving it 6 months and going hard for those 6 months. I intend to evaluate in 6 months and make the hard decisions about what moving forward looks like. I have two good degrees that are looking for people like me, so I know I have a fall-back plan. :)

  11. Dear Sam. I have teachers, students and two sisters which means I get plenty of feedback.
    The problem is converting it in a useful way. It’s so easy to be defensive: what does X really know about Y. Would love to find more ways to actually use the feedback.

    Regarding your newsletter. It’s simply awesome. Sure improve, but please don’t cutback.
    Regarding the audioversions. They weren’t my cup of tea. Reading (perhaps especially as non-native speaker) forces me to concentrate. Simply listening ends up into nodding along without actually retaining much. I hope you understand

    One possible improvement could be: a dedicated team of contributors who under your supervision could write perhaps 1/2 articles a year specifically about their expertise/experience.
    Not guestbloggerss with 20 links to their own website with basically the same info as you give us, but assistant-samurais writing about complex subjects. If this sounds as too much of a management/hassle you could also put out contests (dear readers write 1000 words about Z), but that might result in lesser quality work than it would under your ‘strict’ supervision.

    1. I was gonna get my wife to start writing, but she ended up having a baby instead. I’ll take it! Our son is the best thing ever. So much work, but so much joy.

      I want to get more long time readers to share their path to financial independence. Case studies and such. Should be good! Just need to find the time to edit… which actually could take a long while.

      1. I can imagine. Although I’d currently pick two extra hands to help me write papers.

        That sounds like fun provided it adds to your blog instead of being just the same content in different words. You teach us so much it would be difficult (at least for me) to make a worthwhile contribution.

        Was more thinking like: how has Brexit affected reader X’s plans; how to use globalization instead of being a (financial) victim; a life/finance guide for recent graduates; etc.

        Regarding your editing fears. Based on the data from ‘who is the typical fin. sam. reader’ and the many quality comments you have little to worry about. A rough draft, a quick phone call and a final touchup by you would go a long way.

        1. Got it. In the spirit of taking action, I love for you to submit I guess post that as well written that I don’t have to edit too much! Shoot me an email. And let’s make this happen.

  12. Hi Sam,

    Been reading your site since late 2013, thanks for the great reads all these years! I also, spend 2 hours a day in the car, so listen to a lot of podcasts…. When your audio links first appeared, I assumed they were video ads that weren’t properly loading. They still kind of look like this. Perhaps adding some basic text around the link will help readers to better identify what they are looking at.

    I eventually clicked one and was pleasantly surprised to find it was an audio version of the post! I’ve listened to a handful since and have enjoyed what I’ve heard. As another commenter pointed out I think you would really benefit by placing the audio within it’s own tab/page. That way listeners know where to go to quickly press play. Of course being on itunes or soundcloud is helpful. That being said I listen to plenty of podcasts direct from owners sites.

    Currently, I prefer reading your content vs listening. From what I’ve listened to so far, admittedly only a handful, I find the audio to be ~95% the text from your site. Nothing wrong with that, I just feel I can gain more insight from the additional content in the comments section, so that’s the route I’ve been sticking with. For your audio, I’d love to hear you go off the rails more. Though that means spending more time not less.

    Based on your current format have you considered buying time by paying some-one to do the voice overs?

    In my personal life I’m trying to be brutally honest with myself in two main areas. First is with trying to understand what is behind feelings of discontent & unhappiness that I’ve had with my work. This continues to be especially tricky to grasp as I run my own small business. With so many emotions it is hard for me to objectively determine the truth here. I feel I’ve started making small progress by changing my mindset to believe it is possible to be successful not to the detriment of the things I love outside of work. But I still struggle with this daily and haven’t really turned the corner…..

    Second area is in my personal health and fitness. I’ve gone from being in great shape to poor shape in a 5 year period. I have slowly blamed this on my work, my wife, my life. The truth however is that I have completely de-prioritized my health, made no effort to grow or sustain my fitness and have been too lazy to break the forming habits that make it harder and harder to get back to a semblance of the fitness I previously enjoyed.

    Geez… seems I need to get back to work on myself here :)

    May your posts remain meaty!

      1. It works. I’m subscribed and downloaded the latest episode.

        Did you just add it? I searched this morning, and it wasn’t there.

        That was quick.

        1. I just submitted it late morning. My concern is that it only shows the last 4 episodes due to my Feedburner, and if I publish a new post/podcast, it will drop the oldest one and only keep 4. So I gotta figure out how to get it to keep all the podcasts.

          1. Just listened to all the podcast episodes. Great work.

            I would not have listened to the audio if it wasn’t on the iOS podcasts app. So, I think that’s a good way to get more listeners.

            So, far everyone has rated you five stars.

  13. Handy Millennial

    Yes! You are totally right Sam. The only way to get ahead is to be honest with yourself – and we are oh so good at lying to ourselves. The timing of your article is uncanny. I just wrote an article on being honest with yourself this weekend – check it out tomorrow!

  14. Damn Millennial

    Being judged is uncomfortable for anyone. I agree with you though that if you are willing and embrace judgement it can help you in the future. No one grows by staying in their comfort zone. When you venture outside of that comfort zone you give yourself the chance to grow.

  15. I’ve never commented before, but after reading that I felt like I should.

    Honestly I’d prefer if you have a big topic, that is 1500 words and makes three points about a topic, to break it into three posts, each slightly more than 500 words. This would help with the communication by priming people to see your overarching point in the last post while still gleaning some value from each post.

    It would also mean you wouldn’t have to force yourself to sit down quite as long to make a post.

    OR you could just keep doing what you’re doing. Since it has kept me coming back each week.

    1. Oh, also – I always listen to audio books between 1.25x speed and 2x speed. The inability to speed it up is frustrating when that has become my habit.

      I always remember there is an audio version at the end, after already reading the article since it is at the bottom. And thus it becomes useless to me.

  16. An audio version would be good for traffic, but without interaction with a interviewee it would not be added benefit for me.

    I read FS because Sam tells a story often about investments that I would have never considered. I’m interested in the thought process throughout the investment, which I learn from regardless. I consider what mistakes were made and what I would have done differently along with new ideas. I’m interested in the story, which is what I think is unique and interesting. For example I read the Berkshire annual letter every year because Buffett tells a story about the economy which is well worth its price. However not once will I ever learn anything about one of his more recent successes or failures. What went wrong with his valuation of IBM or TSCDY. He’ll never tell.

    When I went to college career fairs I never learned anything from it. Not one recruiter told me anything about their career path. When I recruited, my booth was often the only booth 20 or 30 students deep because I told a story about the career path I was on. It wasn’t applicable to everyone, but I’m sure the students at least walked away with a new idea or something to consider. So I hope Sam continues to tell his stories.

  17. I like your style, Sam. Dare to be different. But don’t shrink from the flak that comes your way. Take it all in without rancor and see if any of it is warranted.

  18. I would love a Financial Samurai podcast, and yet I never listen to the audio version. I guess I am never sure what the audio files are supposed to “be” ?

    It goes like this:
    1) I start reading a post
    2) I come across some audio link that seems randomly distributed… Sometimes at the beginning, sometimes kind of under picture captions, sometimes the end… depends how my phone shows the page, too
    3) I think wait, what is this? Extra content or he’ll just read this to me?
    4) I figure, screw it. I came here ready to read, so I will keep on reading for now and get the good article I am used to

    If I were you, I’d create a separate podcast/audio page on the site so visitors are prepared for the format in which content is about to start coming at them. Even if it is just a reading of a written article, people can more clearly seek out the version they want.

    Keep the interesting stuff coming!

    1. Good feedback. In this article, I put the audio version at the end b/c nobody cares. But I think I’ll create a PAGE where it has all my audio versions. I see Financial Samurai in my Podcast app on my iphone, but I don’t know what the link is. Sigh. But a page is a good idea.

      I know if I keep this up for a year, I’ll have over 100 audio podcasts. That’s some meaty content that can be packaged into something good. It just takes time and consistency.

      You will always know where the podcasts will be now:

      Here’s the Financial Samurai Podcast Page with all my audio versions so far.

      I also created a Financial Samurai iTunes channel that currently highlights the latest four podcasts, and will automatically notify you of latest podcasts.

  19. Hi Sam,

    Your writing style is excellent. I love your numerical & statistical examples. The level of depth and balanced arguments in your articles is perfect.

    I’m generally not a big fan of audio podcasts. I prefer reading your articles as well as drilling into your hyperlinks.

  20. Hi Sam,

    Financial Samurai is by far my favorite blog on the Internet! For me it’s like reading a John Grisham book. I can’t wait to see what happens in the end. Sometimes I will save the articles for a week just so I can binge read them like a Netflix show. I don’t go the audio route, but than again I still have 2 newspapers delivered in the morning, so I’m probably to much of a dinosaur to change. I also love the comment section. I especially like the comments that challenge you just so I can see how you respond.

    The one thing I don’t understand is why would you change anything in your blog in an attempt to please anyone but yourself. I thought the whole point of being FI is to be able to do what you want when you want.

    I thank you for all the free content you provide and wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

    Thanks, Bill

    1. Howdy Bill,

      That’s some pretty cool feedback! Thanks. I try to write what I want to read. And if what I’m writing sounds boring or ads no value, then I can it. Gotta at least TRY to keep things interesting right? Hence the storytelling.

      Great reminder about the point of FI. I’m constantly drawn to the mantra: If I can, I should. Because I know one day I won’t have the energy or creativity anymore. Life is short. I’d like to speak to my son long after I’m gone.



  21. Sam,

    You’re doing just fine. Keep up the good work and “keep on writin”.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  22. I commend you immensely for blogging as long as you have and for publishing your own personal experiences. It is not easy to put yourself out there.

    You’ve taught us all so many things and your writing style is truly unique. You have a special gift!

  23. Ain’t nobody got time for podcasts man! I’d much rather take a few minutes to read an article and scan through the comments than spend 10-15 mins to listen to the same thing via podcast (is that how long they generally run? haven’t listened to one in forever ). I could probably get through 3 good blog posts in the same amount of time it would take me to listen to just one podcast. Please don’t dumb down the posts either. I like mutiple layers, I’m into deep thought.

    Long time reader since 2009 and it’s been amazing to see how this blog has developed into an authority site. You’ve worked hard and I understand you have to look at what works best for business growth. In my opinion though, ain’t noting wrong around here man, keep calm and carry on.

  24. Hi Sam, I like your posts just the way they are:) and obviously lots of other readers do too! We are all different so it doesn’t matter what you do, readers will still not all get the same out of each post. Sometimes I read comments and I am surprised at what has gotten other readers’ attention, totally different from me.
    I am not big on audio but I know lots of people are.

  25. SmileIfYouDare

    Whoa, Sam!
    I think you are being waaaay tooooo hard on yourself. Not everything is a failure if it doesn’t work out.

    I heard a great thought the other day somewhere… if you want to buy a pair of pants, and you try on a pair, and they don’t fit, it just means they don’t fit. Doesn’t mean you (or the pants) are a failure.

    A simple way to handle this is to make everything an experiment. Some experiments prove that the experiment does not yield the expected results. That’s the fact. “Failure” is an opinion, a judgment, not a fact.

    Looking at choices as experiments makes life a lot less stressful. Try it.

    1. Doesn’t it mean one is too fat? :)

      I don’t think I’m being hard. This is just the way I am. To immediately recognize deficiencies and try to improve or provide solutions. Don’t feel bad for me.

      From this post and listening to feedback, I just created a Financial Samurai Podcast Page with all my audio versions so far.

      I also created a Financial Samurai iTunes channel that currently highlights the latest four podcasts, and will automatically notify you of latest podcasts.

  26. Hi Sam,


    I enjoy your audio posts because it helps unpack the layers in your article. The long-form is valuable because the layers help inform my own personal situation which may not be formulaic. For those that like efficiency, suggest a tl;dr section. Sometimes I like to unwind with a drink and listen to your audio, before I get into the article, or to help me think. It’s awesome.

    As you develop a broader audience, the Audio version is more valuable:
    1. Your voice is calming and the pace and tones help emphasize the interpretation of your article.
    2. New Readers – I’ve referred you to TWO new readers, who love podcasts, and are challenged when it comes to reading technical finance topics — so they LOVE your audio notes!

    Audio Tips:
    1. Mobile friendly – most folks are mobile these days (phones, tablets). It should be more mobile friendly, or podcast subscription available.
    2. Discovery – location — Audio link should be found at the “same location” on each article. Nice if expected for each article, but understand the commitment hurdle (maybe keep it fun).
    3. Audio Content – it would help if the audio content complimented your long-form article, either with interesting side notes/stories, goes into your thinking behind concepts, and served both as an intro and a deep dive if you get me..

    Is there a periodic 1-hour podcast with interviews that could be next? I would certainly tune in :)

    Final note — I had no idea there was a newsletter! Maybe this is a mobile friendly issue again. I just subscribed.


    1. Howdy mate,

      Thanks for the tips.

      I just created a Financial Samurai Podcast Page with all my audio versions so far.

      I also created a Financial Samurai iTunes channel that currently highlights the latest four podcasts, and will automatically notify you of latest podcasts.

      Yeah, I’m bad at marketing my newsletter and stuff. There is a box at the end of each post to sign up, and there’s a side bar signup form, but I think most folks just overlook them.

      Thanks for signing up and sharing my work.



  27. I don’t listen to the audio posts. I love to read and I get more out of seeing information than hearing it. Oftentimes it’s not the length of a post that will make me tune out. It is the density and style. I can read 2000 words easily if the information itself is presented simply and I can hear the author’s personal voice coming through.
    When you wrote, “Just like USA Today, dumb down posts to make them easier to understand,” it immediately made me think of Jay-Z’s line from his song Moment of Clarity, “I dumb down for my audience and double my dollars. You criticize me for it but they all yell, “Holla!”

    When I worked in corporate one of the positive pieces of feedback I always received is that I was open to critical feedback and actually sought it out. I’ve gotten feedback on my blog that the posts are long and people would rather listen than read. If I want the type of people who are giving me this feedback to follow me, then I need to adjust my style to suit their needs. If I don’t want to do that then I need to do a better job of reaching the people who do like to receive information by reading it. There are tradeoffs. I have also taken the step to ask people who are more successful than I am at doing what I do for their feedback. Hearing them out without explaining away their feedback makes it easier for them to continue to give it.

    Great post. I keep coming back because I like what I’m reading.

    1. That’s a genius line by Jay-Z. It is very true. For very business oriented sites, dumbing things down makes sense. You can attract way more people. It’s why the largest sites in the world focus on savings and frugality. I’d like to reach out to all audiences. Content isn’t mutually exclusive.

      Good stuff being open to critical feedback. And fascinating your site’s feedback is they’d rather listen. Maybe you have the Smooth Jazz voice and you should follow their advice!

  28. Isn’t this, to some extent, based on fear of failure? If we admit to ourselves that we’re not good at something, is that interpreted as failure? I think having strong self-awareness and a naturally curious mind will get you past this. Those who suffer from Dunning-Kruger Effect (the most incompetent often think they’re the best performers) will never never be brutally honest with themselves, but the rest of us can. Great read.

  29. Sam,

    Great post. Please don’t go the “USA Today” route. Good journalism is hard to find these days. Your posts are thought provoking and clearly require a lot of expertise and experience. When I first started reading your blog years ago, I thought “Meh, I could write this” but as I was honest with myself and read some of your truly analytical posts, I realized “There is no way I have his level of expertise or intelligence in this field. Sam is a subject matter expert.”

    With regard to your points in the post:

    1) nobody cares about audio versions – I admit I’ve not listened to any of them, though I would love a Financial Samurai podcast. Even one more off the cuff, top of your head type stuff. Lifestyle podcasts where you get to know the characters as much as the subject matter are my favorite. In the meantime, I’ll give some of your posts a listen.

    2) I haven’t made a strong enough connection with my newsletter readers – I think when you’ve mentioned the value of your time and the volume of email you receive, I personally thought “don’t ever email Sam – he won’t ever see it”. I look forward to each of your newsletters and read them as soon as I see them.

    3) I haven’t added enough value to my subscribers – Hardly. You have personally netted me and my family hundreds of thousands of dollars (not hyperbole). I have followed your investing, real estate and other guidance for years and have swung my net worth wildly higher as a result. Thank you.

    4) My voice hurts people’s ears – Honestly haven’t listened.

    5) my newsletters are too long – NO! I love your writing and relish a good long post. As Lilly mentioned above, I find myself skimming sometimes and have to go back and read a paragraph or post 2 or 3 times to make sure I’m getting all the value out of it.

    One last note – while this may seem silly, I’ve seen the blog mentioned quite a bit lately on the financial sub reddits. This to me indicates that you are reaching a broader audience and that you are penetrating the markets you want to.

    Keep up the good work.

  30. TheCollegeInvestor


    First of all I really enjoyed scrolling through the comments and seeing how many people you had responded to. I know that as your site gets more and more followers it must be increasingly challenging to reply to so many posts. I personally enjoy reading content far more than listening to it because I can more easily focus my attention on the material, for that reason I have not yet listened to any of your audio recordings.

    On another note, I really enjoy reading about your internal struggles of whether you should continue to push yourself harder, or to be content and relax a little bit. When I read your explanations of why you feel the need to work so hard all the time I find that I can relate very strongly.

    As always, thank you for your effort and willingness to share about the deepest thoughts in your mind.


    1. Thanks for sharing Ethan. Yes, it’s an internal struggle because EVERYDAY I’m reminded about lives cut short or wasted b/c of a lack of effort. For example, what a shame SF Mayor Ed Lee died at 65! 65 is so young.

      It’s this internal drive I have that keeps me going: If I can, I should.

      I’ve never regretted trying. I’ve only regretted not trying.

  31. It’s tough to be brutally honest with yourself. That’s why the annual review isn’t self graded. Unless you’re working for yourself, of course..
    I’m a long time reader and I always enjoy your work. It’s pretty amazing you can keep writing quality content week after week. Keep it up.

    Didn’t George W. go to Harvard? – Yes, and he became the president of the US. It’s all about connections.

    1. I definitely see the power of connections the older I get. You will naturally take care of your friends and your friend’s children and people you know, like, and trust.

      The annual review…. looking forward to reading yours and doing some more reflecting!

  32. Hi Sam, I’m a long-term reader and have wanted to ask you this question for a long time, the topic of brutal honesty seems a good place to address this. I know you and many others are fans of Personal Capital. I got started opening an account there, then pulled up short. I understand why it’s necessary, but I’m very hesitant to give anyone or anything my passwords to my investment accounts. What would happen if their computer system were hacked? The money in these accounts is not insured, and by willingly giving Personal Capital access to my accounts, I’m assuming the risk of loss if Personal Capital is the victim of a data breach from within or outside the company.

    I read their website speaking of all the firewalls, encriptions, etc. to safeguard this information, but determined hackers and fraudsters are always one step ahead, ask Equifax. Maybe the risk to me personally is miniscule, but I have been successfully visualizing and managing my portfolio the old fashioned way for years, and I’m reluctant to take that chance now that I’m 63 and retired. Possibly others share my concern. Your thoughts?

    1. If you’re not comfortable with it, then don’t share your account information. Personal Capital is useful, but you can get by without them.

    2. Carole, some banks and websites are catching on to the fact that people want to track their finances through a third party site. These sites offer a “read only” password or code that only allows a site like Personal Capital to see your balances and transactions but in no way access them. Capital One is one such bank I know of from personal experience.

      I suggest reaching out to whoever you invest with and asking if they offer something along these lines.

    3. Hi Carole, not sure. For some reason, I’ve never really feared getting my money hacked and stolen online because of the $250,000 FDIC guarantee partly, And partly because I believe if something bad does happen, the company responsible will make it right. Making it right is actually why I like to use credit cards and not cash.

      Even if you put all your information on your laptop computer, it could also get hacked. It’s everybody’s personal decision on whether the benefits of technology outweigh the risks. So far I believe the benefits do.

    4. Hi Carole,

      I feel the same way you do. Won’t give my account number or password to anybody.
      You might want to try what I do. I enter all the information manually and update it once
      a month.

      Alot more work, but worth it. I just go to Personal Capital and I see everything instead of
      having to log onto each and every account.

      Hope this helps.

  33. Please don’t dummy down your blog!! I love reading about personal finance, but most of the posts out there are useless. Your articles make me think, and you see the world from a different perspective. I don’t always agree with what you write, but it always makes me think!

    On the audio version I wouldn’t use it. I like the written word. Also many times I have re-read certain paragraphs if it really interests me. I always think listening is a passive exercise.

  34. Great advice! Being honest is the first step to the path of self-improvement. It’s good to write things down about yourself. How you are VS how you can get better. I usually do this at the end of the year (new year’s resolution thing). But refer to it throughout the year. I have many things to work on to get better. At the same time, we should understand our strengths as well and see how those can help us achieve success!

  35. I listen to most audio files you make. I can now listen to it while I get in the shower and get dressed. It makes my morning more efficient vs having to read the articles. Please keep them up!

    PS: Your first audio files had them listed at the top of the articles now I feel I have to search through the article for it (and every article doesn’t even have them). I believe it’s better to list them at the start to avoid this… plus if I read your entire article I’m not going to want to waste time listening to an audio file of the information I just read… that’s just not an efficient use of my time.

    Outside of where you place them keep them up!

    1. Hmm, hope you aren’t getting too excited in the shower Jon listen to the audio posts! I may have to tone things down. Ha.

      I listed the audio at the bottom for this post b/c of my previous feedback that not many people cared. So i figured, at least it goes out into my Podcast feed app on my iPhone and maybe others will have subscribed too.

      Will continue to play around. B/c I don’t want the audio version to trump the written version either.

      Just created a Financial Samurai Podcast Page with all my audio versions so far.

      I also created a Financial Samurai iTunes channel that currently highlights the latest four podcasts, and will automatically notify you of latest podcasts.

  36. Plato said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” No matter how you do it; through a journal, in your mind or within a blog post, to me it’s absolutely necessary in order to live a rich and fulfilling life.

    Today, people feel too inclined to put on a face, or hype up their instagram feed or let everyone know that their weekend was the absolute best when really they sat on their ass and binge watched Stranger Things 2 (actually, that might have been a great weekend). Our society is going to remain full of fakers, backstabbers and gossips unless honesty prevails. Like Sam in school, we gotta knock out the bullies.

    Sam – keep fighting the fight for honesty. The posts I enjoy the most are those were I can tell you care passionately about the content, whether that’s long or short in nature AND whether or not I agree with your position.

    Don’t pander, preach or promote is a stance I try to take every day. When I’m honest with myself and examine things, I find many times I miss the mark. Such is life. Gotta recognize the faults and get back to it.

    1. Good words of wisdom. Writing is easiest when I feel most strongly about something that’s for sure.

      Stranger Things 2 was great! But it felt like it was one or two episodes too short. It really was short compared to other series. Just got done w/ Westworld finally, and looking for more.

      Phew. Don’t have Instagram. I don’t know how people keep up with all the social media.

  37. Mary Keenan-Sadlon

    Sam, Introspection and analysis is great but I think you’re reading too much into the lack of response by your readership. It’s Christmas-time and I think many people are just too busy to respond to all the feedback requests solicited.

    You are simply The BEST! We’ve read your posts at home aloud many an evening. When I homeschooled, your blog was part of the curriculum. After you married and had your son my husband and I have re-lived all the feelings of being an “older” parent. We talk about you. . .and say a prayer for you and yours too.

    You are one of our go-to people for financial literacy.

    I Like hearing your voice—–and having the choice to either read or listen.

    Keep up the Good Work! Enjoy your work, your wife, and your precious son! Sending Best Wishes your way!

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Wow Mary, I’m very honored! Seriously one of the nicest things anybody has ever said to me. Thank you very much. You and your family give me the motivation to keep on going.

      I pray for my son every evening before I go to bed that he will always be loved and grow up to be happy. I can’t wait to see him in the morning :)

      Merry Christmas!

  38. I personally like the audio versions. But I have everything sent to an app (Pocket) that reads the blog text to me. So, the audio version didn’t provide value only because of the tool I’m specifically using. Also, since I’m a Frugal nerd I have a very low data plan on my cell phone and the text based posts use much less data on my plan compared to downloading audio.

    I am probably the 00.1% of readers that use sophisticated technology to read blog posts but I just thought I’d say the audio version was a “culture change” to me and that’s why I didn’t gravitate towards it. Applying a change in the way we do things normally takes time. I actually would prefer the audio version of a human vs the robotic voice my app uses. But I’d have to re prioritize my workflow so I can download the audio posts when I was connected to WiFi etc. So it just takes time for me and maybe others accommodate the enhancement you’ve added.

    But I do think the audio version does add a lot of value and would also allow you to post your blogs on itunes & YouTube with a backdrop. Goes without saying, those platforms are huge so probability dictates you’ll get fantastic exposure by throwing anything on there.

    Hope you find my reply helpful please keep up the great work! :-)

    1. I’ve got to check out the app! I didn’t realize it can read the post for you. That’s pretty cool. Maybe I can just record the app reading my post and then publish the audio version from the app. Ah hah! Seriously, that might be possible.

      1. Yeah it’s a great app! I would test out the TTS (Test To Speech) feature prior to publishing anything though because it’s robotic. Not as nice as a human in my opinion.

        If you publish your audio to itunes, that would at least help me auto download the audio when I am on wifi. Perhaps add some metrics to the audio downloads. That way you can find out if it’s worth the effort. :)

          1. Got it! How cool. Thank you for adding this feature. I have your audio posts on my podcast app! Hopefully access to the itunes market will get you more exposure to pay off the effort. Fingers crossed!

  39. Hey Sam-
    We love you!! The podcasts are great!! You will reach a whole new audience with them!! I live in the Wash, DC area-and the pod casts are great for commuters, just give it time, and you can read the content that you use in your newsletter. Many of your teachings are not mainstream, and it will take a little bit to find the audience (I’m thinking of stealth-wealth, giving up on the rental income game, to just name a few.) What you teach is so valuable – dont be discouraged! Remember when you said you were giving up the blog?? Your readers were so sad!

    1. Hi Anne, I appreciate the nice words. Don’t worry! I’m not discouraged. I’m actually encouraged that I’m finding ways to optimize my time in 2018 and beyond.

      What happens in my world is that there’s always something more I can be doing. So I get caught up trying everything and doing everything. But now I know that audio versions arent the best use of my time, so I will do them whatever I do have time and not feel bad if I don’t do them.

      Also, I’ve always held the belief that longer posts are better for business. But they take a long time to write. So if I can get my message across better with shorter posts, and save time, that’s a homerun.

      This exercise being honest with my lack of abilities will help. And I hope readers can do the same exercises as well.

  40. Brian McMan

    Charlie Munger says to invert and the bible says not to lie or something like that so I suppose inverting a really old concept makes sense to arrive at being honest.

    If I’m honest I don’t like the girl I’m dating, I may love her but achieving financial independence and greater health comes before family. This honesty helps me to schedule my time better by allowing me to see that putting in more hours at near minimum wage is preferred to dating.

    1. Now that’s an honest statement! Did you know what you know. Relationships can be very tricky. Choosing the right partner is huge towards the path to financial independence.

      Not many commentators have shared some of their issues there honestly working on. So thanks for that.

  41. Hi Sam! Been reading (not literally every single issue only because of the volume of email I receive sometimes I miss emails, but a lot of them) for less than a year now. Sometimes I literally laugh out loud and always feel smarter afterwards. Along the lines of changing titles from stuff like “why so many people have miserably low 401k balances,” to “People don’t save because life happens.” Both are fine, but Amen to your edge ha! I’ll stay tuned no matter what length you send. You’re a smart, funny dude with on-point, hilarious analysis of money/life matters! Thank you for writing a blog that I look forward to reading and when it hits my inbox, I have zero doubt that it might be a waste of time. It never is. And knowing that it’s never a waste of time is so valuable in these days of online content. Thank you for contributing value to the online space overall and for the work and energy you put into the articles!!

    1. Ooooh, you got that line! Nice. A+ for extracting it out of the post. Sometimes I include zingers that may seem out of place just to see if anybody is paying attention. The site can be like one big sociology experiment.

      Thanks for reading and sharing.

  42. Well Sam. You accomplished at least one goal with this post. I will be thinking of this one for a while. I’m sure there are many ways I can be more honest with myself. I’m going to document them over the next week or so and see what changes I can make.

  43. Steven Rosenthal

    In an age of declining introspection, brutal tribalism, and increasing narcissism, this is a great post. Thank you.

  44. Charleston.C


    I can think of a 6th reason as to why the audio version isn’t a hit. For me personally I have a routine where I come into work around 6am, make my coffee and settle down at my desk by reading the day’s news and your writing a couple of times a week. Your website is engaging to me on a visual/reading level, to incorporate the audio aspect will require adjustment to what I have been doing for the last few years. It doesn’t necessarily reflect well or poorly on your new offering, it just takes time for people like me to fully take advantage of what is being offered.

    As for dumb down posts, my plea is for anything but. The thoughtful multi-layered posts sets this site apart from generic financial or life advice from other established big names. Perhaps your writing isn’t for everyone, but what is wrong with that? You have an established base, and you have a niche in what you write about. Trying to satisfy everyone dilute the value you are offering to your core readers.

    If you are looking for feedback, I am willing to wager the overwhelming majority will say the information you have shared is useful if you simply have a vote at the end of each entry for whether the post was “informative” or “not informative”.

    Keep up the good work!

  45. Sam,
    I guess I’m not on the “private newsletter” list – I just signed up.

    My opinion may not mean as much because I don’t regularly listen to podcasts… I do my best learning through reading… but I gave your reading of the article a listen and I think you do a great job. You are definitely not monotonous, yet your voice has a sort of calming quality to it. You sound very wise :) I would listen!

    Obviously your time is precious but I think the podcast idea is not a bad one.

    1. Hah, thanks. I’m trying to only have to read. The other half I’d like to basically freestyle. I have to imagine after doing 100 of these, I will get better at the delivery.

  46. I felt really vulnerable when I started my site. I was putting myself out there not knowing what would happen (the internet can be a very…unfriendly place at times). People’s warm responses have driven me to keep going and share more (although I keep having dreams my co-workers figure out it is me).

    I love your site and enjoy your longer posts. I’ve noticed not many writers can pull that off (as you point out longer posts are increasingly rare). I naturally don’t write much because I have a habit of writing pointless filler it I try to push length.

    You just need to do what comes out natural. If people point something out they don’t like but it is something you enjoy (that isn’t harming others) then keep doing it.

    1. Yeah, the internet can be a scary place. But I won’t tolerate hate here.

      However, I will write Comment Commentary posts when there is a particularly outlandish comment that warrants examining. A lot of comments give me inspiration to write new posts, like this one.

      Keep on chugging away!

  47. Thanks for the post, Sam.

    I also prefer your style, but do find myself skimming a few posts. Not because of their length, but often just because of the mindset I might find myself in during a given day. Other days, I’ve spent hours reading your site’s posts as well as other blogs out there.

    On your questions:

    – (1) Starting a blog 4 months ago had been a major way of putting myself out there. A number of friends and family thought it was stupid or a waste of time; oddly, since beginning, some of those same individuals have become my largest supporters.

    – (2) On critical feedback received – both at work and outside work:
    (a) get to the point
    (b) think “elevator pitches”
    (c) consider perception vs. reality – note: the former is the latter
    (d) take the time to make the time to have the time to save time
    (e) don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve (I’m awful at this)

    – (3) My site is terrible looking still and my sister, who is a professional editor and content manager, says the same thing (not surprisingly). To get an idea of what other sites are doing, she has reviewed a number of personal finance blogs and made a few comments on your’s. These might not take additional time:

    (a) Post Length – Seek Variety: you already commented that you’ve received feedback that your posts are too long. She doesn’t think so as long as there is variety in length of posts. If all your posts were +3000 words, then yes, too much at times.

    (b) Use of bullets or * in this instance – consider brevity with bullets; if longer, don’t use bullets, but number points out as you did in this post.

    (c) Home Page – consider moving categories further to the top. Also consider reducing the number of featured posts on the left-hand side column to shorten the vertical depth of the page. Regardless of the theme in terms of font size/color, etc., she suggested to focus more on the organization of data and content first. For layout purposes with lots of content, such as your site, she suggested the use of tiles to simply group data elements together (she liked the Making Sense of Cents home page use of tiles as an example).

    (D) Summary and/or Key Takeaways – consider beginning, as well as ending, a post with a brief synopsis

    I’m still figuring this stuff out each day – it’s a brand new world for me. Hope this helps. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and ideas each week.

    1. Good tips! I will incorporate some of them, especially variety and having the occassional summary paragraph for longer articles. I’ve got to cut my main column down… it’s getting out of control b/c I like all those articles, so I just leave them stickied. But that is what the second column is for!

      Question for your sister: has she started her own site given her skills? If not, why not?

      1. Hi, Sam –

        Mike’s sister here. He directed me to your question.

        I have not started a site of my own — it never occurred to me this would be a skillset other people would seek out for personal blogs, etc. I work in content marketing and most of my clients are in financial services, retail or non-profit. We design, build and manage content hubs to help educate and engage consumers.

        I suppose the same best practices could easily be applied on a smaller scale. Definitely some food for thought.

        1. Cool. Maybe you can help your brother as a the guinea pig! You’ll be surprised that a small scale operation could be much, much more lucrative and rewarding than working for corporate if you have the skill set. There’s something amazing about creating something from nothing that is all yours.

          I would like to think that if I had the skill set, I’d be a better communicator and businessman.

  48. Thanks for being so honest in this post, Sam! I like being honest because it’s simple. I don’t know how some people can live a double life or two lies all the time. It sounds exhausting trying to keep track of everything they make up to make the story flow.

    I’m not a saint and do tell lies sometimes. But I try to keep it to the minimum, and those are usually white lies like not telling my family that I’m sick so that they won’t worry.

  49. Douglas Litke

    You will never please all of your readers, so you have to pick your niche. Like Claire, I appreciate your multiple layers, as the real issues have nuances. If I want simple, I can go read Suzi Orman. I prefer something that makes me think.
    As to the point of this article, it is important to be honest with ourselves. Too many times I don’t want to ask the hard question, as I am not sure I want to hear the answer. But to improve, I must.

  50. Hey Sam,

    I enjoy your posts, especially the ones about net worth and car buying because I am nowhere near your recommended networth and spent more than 10% of my annual salary on my last car purchase. When I first read you NW article, I had a hard time not to dismiss it. But, being honest with myself about my situation and the amount of money that’s in this world made me make adjustments to my life. I appreciate that.

    You do write some fluff but that’s rare (compared to others) and I would put you over 90 percentile on that. So, I would not worry about it. In fact, it also helps in reader engagement as trying to cut down on that stuff might make your posts less frequent which might negatively affect your numbers.

  51. Love this post!!

    Not only do you give reasons why it is important to be self aware and honest, you give examples of how.

    Great job Sam !!

    Being honest with yourself can really help with relationships in your life and really improve who you are as a person, because letting people tell you how they feel, truly digesting it, and recognizing real changes you could make to become better (if you agree with them), will lead to you being better and happier !

  52. I was bullied to death in school. I rarely fought back because the odds and numbers were against me, and my parents not only ignored the bullying but blamed me for it. I was also never trained to be a fighter. It got worse as I grew older and had full time jobs, with “professional” bullies above me and their leverage to use against me.
    Fear had changed my life Not to change but, rather, to embrace being “different” in outlook and goals. Consequently I never “got in line” but accepted myself as being a unique, free-thinker, non-conformist individual who would never yield to the masses. There’s a price to pay for that.
    I never got any decent jobs. Certainly never any high-paying jobs. Or even jobs with decent people. I adapted an isolationist stand and locked-down on my expenditures, eventually becoming financially independent. By not being like Them.
    Open yourself to judgement and ridicule? I’ve practiced Self-judgement, always questioning myself and my actions. Assaulting my own conscience. But to allow the ignorant masses at me? I’ve been through Online lynch-mob bullying and character assassination. When so much Hate is channeled your way, in your name, you don’t bother hanging around where you’re not wanted. Once your Branded that brand never goes away. As in decades ago when I first accepted this medium. That After bathing in the real-world physically-reducing version.
    If you want real freedom you accept Isolation as your best friend. That will of course reinforce the Mob’s initial condemnation of you for being a weirdo. But so what! The majority of people aren’t sane and submit to not only having their buttons pushed but into pushing others buttons in the name of Capitalism and satisfying their own petty inner emotions.

    1. Can I repeat how much I HATE bullies? The whole Keaton Jones thing is so heartbreaking, especially now that I’m a father. Be kind folks. Parents, please talk to your kids about respect and empathy. Hopefully your kids aren’t the bully, but either way, a discussion on empathy is a must for all.

  53. I just completed my annual self-review and included “peer reviewers” who will provide a review and feedback to my manager for me. It was a bit scary typing in the names and knowing these people would give me (hopefully) honest feedback, but I do look forward to identifying areas of improvement.

  54. Hey Sam,

    Just want to say, keep up with the invaluable posts!

    I’m not really sure about your voice-over feedback. Honestly I have a tendency to skim the newsletter, and go to the site links.

    However I’ll give you my thoughts now.


    1. Allows an alternative form of consumption for those that prefer listening. I normally listen and read at the same time

    2. Ad-lib provides some nice variation, where you may have included some valuable perspective that may not have been included in writing

    3. Voice (to me) is clear, relaxed, and calming. Your speech is well paced, however, there are some times where there is a break in your flow. (Mainly because you’re having some difficulty articulating specific thoughts. May be a few notes to aide you in articulating some of your more convoluted topics)

    It depends, if this is providing you an opportunity to improve then go for it. However, producing a voice-over is surprisingly time consuming. In my personal opinion, if you enjoy doing it, (even as an ad-lib) it will definitely help improve your rhetoric.


    1. I’m not sure if it’s just me, we seem to have the same predisposition and experiences, such as bullies etc. Your pieces seems to “get me”, and what you write is very similar to what I think about.

    2. If you are just optimising your target audience, I would agree, having shorter, simpler, and less convoluted articles would most likely benefit the metrics. However, I enjoy your current articles, and it would be sad to see it go. Your vast experiences, and ability to produce a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand is what I come here for. It’s very refreshing to see someone that is similar, but has more experience to help me prepare down the line.

    3. Over time, there may have to be some compromise. However, your perspective, and (sometimes out there) thoughts is why I subscribed and keep reading in the first place.

    To be honest, if you began making simpler articles, not including a lot of your own thoughts, I would be pretty disappointed.

    May be you can include your thoughts in an author’s note? Makes the overall articles cleaner, less convoluted, and simpler; then include your thoughts for people like me that love reading them?


    1. Thanks for the feedback. Perhaps a TLDR blurb at the beginning, or an audio version that summarizes the article and highlights interesting perspectives from commenters could be a good compromise!

  55. Interesting post, Sam! I think there is a balance between being brutally honest with yourself and allowing yourself to recognize your own strengths. I have long struggled with imposter syndrome, being the first to pick apart every weakness I perceived in myself. Moving forward, especially in investing where feedback can already be harsh, meant working on my weaknesses while still giving myself credit for the things I was doing well.

    Also, blogging is a fascinating feedback loop. I’ve been intrigued to see what posts get read, shared, and pinned in the month or two after I publish them. I’ve found it is rarely the ones I found most important and is more often the fluffier ones.

    1. Indeed. The feedback loop is immediate and strong with blogging, and with entrepreneurship in general. You either grow or you don’t. It’s why going out on your own can be scary.

      My problem is I do not have impostor syndrome. I’m often overly confident in my ability to get things done. Too much blind optimism and faith, which has lead me to be very methodical before doing anything b/c I don’t want to lose my shirt again like I did in 2007 when I bought my Lake Tahoe property!

  56. I definitely agree that you have to be brutally honest with yourself if you want to get better in life. I think that’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with people that will speak the truth to you. Otherwise, if you get a bunch of yes men then you’ll never feel uncomfortable and won’t grow :)

  57. I was hit with some honestly lately that took me a while to embrace as constructive feedback.

    Wrote an article on spec for a potential client recently. Nearly 2000 words. Feedback was that it was “too analytical,” which stung to hear but taught me how to approach future articles.

    Also stung to hear at work that one of my favorite things to do was being reassigned to the people who’s job it was to do those things. Took me a minute to realize that this was the owner’s way of taking away a time-waster and asking me to focus on the things I do best.

    Prospecting for freelance clients is one way that I’ve been putting myself out there recently. Getting no response has forced me to be brutally honest with myself about my approach, which in essence helps me to refine it. Just hard to see it that way at first but it eventually happens.

    Feedback to make FS even better? Perhaps more “how-to”/guest posts and/or case studies on reaching financial independence. How others are using FS principles to break free from the rat race would be fun to read.

    1. Yeah, a lot of times we are proud of our analytical way of thinking, but we may not deliver the message in an easily digestible manner. Hence, the effectiveness is lost. Simple works!

      Thanks for the suggestions. I plan to do more case studies.

  58. Hey Sam,

    Happy Monday!
    First, I like your multiple layers posts, they make me think, and that’s becoming more rare on the Internet. Second, I don’t think you write too much fluff, you make me laugh and I really like the tone of voice you use.

    Thanks for your great work!

    1. Glad to make you laugh Claire! That’s a hard thing to do. And I think I didn’t do well when giving a friend a roast on his 40th birthday. I’d like to learn with my son the intricacies of humor as he grows older. I’m discovering there is a huge social benefit to learning humor. If you can make someone laugh, surely he’ll never starve!

  59. Hi Sam!

    I only listened to the audios once after I figured out that they were indeed audio recordings. I’m on mobile so I thought it was just a loaded bar from an unloaded video (since I’m on mobile).

    It was useful when I was reading your post to my husband over lunch and I realized he could just listen to you say it. I think that one was about retirement (a lotta numbers) so we ended up pulling it up on our phone to look at the numbers visually. I think some topics are way too complex too. I sometimes have to read a paragraph 2-3x before I go “ohhhh I understand that now.”

    Also, for some, we read your posts early because they go out in the morning. My husband is still fast asleep and I don’t want to play the audio in bed when I can read at my slow pace.

    I think audio versions are appreciated (they definitely don’t hurt!!!!) but the demographic is off. High income is your readership yeah? I used to work with visually impaired people and they can’t source as much information as us. But a lot of them are also low income/on assistance because of their situation so they’re not traditional FS readers in the first place.

    1. Hi Lily – One of my goals with the audio version is to provide intonation to better get my point across. So I’m glad at least one of the audio versions helped do so for you guys.

      The audio versions can’t really hurt, unless I let them. I found I have this relentless desire to do more, more, more, when I should be doing less, less, less. If I don’t do more, I feel guilty, b/c I know I have the ability to do so.

      1. Kathy Abell

        Your intonation in the audio does indeed help to get your points across. And don’t feel guilty about doing less! You’ve paid your career and blogging dues. Focus on your little guy while he’s still young. See your post about that 5 – 7 year break to raise children!

        1. I’ve got three things I want to practice: 1) The newsy type of professional voice, 2) The hang loose beach bum type of voice, 3) The wacky and highly spirited type of voice. Since I’ve many people listen to the audio, I’d like to really experiment.

      2. I agree with Kathy and the first commenter Mike H. You’ve been doing this for almost a decade man!!! It’s amazing that you’ve kept up with 1) steam 2) content 3) engagement 4) relevance 5) new perspectives

        A lot of big time bloggers don’t post frequently anymore. I mean you’re publishing 2-3x a week? Some bloggers (not even as well known as FS) are doing bimonthly posts, at best.

        I think you might be a workaholic Sam!!! :)

        1. Maybe! My biggest fear is regret not having given my best. I know that things go wrong and fail all the time. But if I know I did my best, then I will rest easy knowing there was nothing more I could do.

          With a son to take care of now, I will not fail him. This site gives me the time to spend with him. I just have to be careful not to spend time on the side while he is awake.

          And surprise, I have another post about this topic coming up :-)

  60. On the subject of your audio versions – if I’m at my PC I’ll read the post, I’ll never listen to the post. The only time audio would be useful to me would be if it was in the form of a podcast feed (which I consume away from my PC while exercising or traveling).

  61. Hi Sam,

    I think you are doing an outstanding job. To be able to continue posting new content after nearly 9 years is pretty darned impressive. It’s really inspirational.

    As for the audio posts, I don’t personally listen to them. Do you have stats on the number of people who actually listened all the way through, and can you see where people are dropping off like you can with YouTube analytics? In that case spice it up and feel free to go off the ranch as you wish.

    Take care and happy parenting!


      1. Kathy Abell

        I eventually discovered I liked listening to your voice on the podcast, your ad libs, and any additional tangential information provided. I originally assumed the podcast would simply be a verbal regurgitation of the written post, so I didn’t even bother listening to them at first. When I finally did listen to one I was pleasantly surprised with its engaging and entertaining content. Please keep up the good work. HOWEVER, you should spend MORE time enjoying your young son! Cut back on your number of weekly posts until he starts school. Put the short version in the written posts (to keep up with the clicks) and the more thoughtful deeper level thinking in the podcasts, or just send these podcasts to your newsletter subscribers. I would hate to see Financial Samurai be reduced to the lowest common denominator. Although I’m in my 5th year of retirement (“early” retirement at age 55), I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and your unique point of view.

        1. Nice to hear the audio version helps Kathy. I’ll try to interject more stories in the audio version to give the message more life. It’s a work in progress because speaking naturally based on a subject takes a lot of practice. The transitions may be tricky and I might screw things up. But that’s the point of trying.

          Just created a Financial Samurai Podcast Page with all my audio versions so far.

          I also created a Financial Samurai iTunes channel that currently highlights the latest four podcasts, and will automatically notify you of latest podcasts.

          Ah, love taking action and getting things done! I knew there would be actionable steps to take after publishing this post. Enjoy!

          1. Sam, I stopped listening to the audio after you stated it WASN’T YOU speaking. I prefer taking in content from the source. Are you now saying IT IS YOU speaking? It makes a difference to me.

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