Income Profiles Of Financially Free People: FIRE Movement Followers

Peace For PAris

There's nothing better than being financially free. Let's look at some income profiles of FIRE movement followers. I've been writing about FIRE since 2009 and it's always fascinating to see how other people are living.

In “Are You Too Proud To Be Rich?” my goal was to challenge people's beliefs that going to college, and getting a job as a cubicle dweller is the only way to make a good living. It's not by any means.

My intent was to provide motivation. Perhaps I could also provide hope to those without rich parents, fancy private school degrees, lucrative jobs, or connections that you can also do financially well through other avenues thanks to the internet's democratization of all things.

I saw with my own eyes how first generation immigrants used their ingenuity to make a lot more money than the median household income while at Uber. Now I'm seeing how immigrants are leveraging the internet to work from home and make money by running their own websites.

Now imagine if English was your first language. You went to private school. You have rich parents and are currently working at a well-paying job. You've got all the advantages in the world to break free if you don't like what you are doing. But you can't, or you won't, because you've been conditioned into thinking that a salary job is the only way to go.

Understandably, if you see someone with less of a pedigree than you making more and going after their dreams, you get pissed off. How can this be?! Instead of nitpicking at every single detail to prove there's no way others can live a better life when they are, why not open your mind and learn from them?

Income Profiles Of Financially Free People

Let me explain to you through the use of several charts my point that there are many other ways to make a good amount of money. Going the traditional route is not the only way to become financially free.

Hopefully people can see the concept of slicing up your desired work hours a week and figuring out ways to maximize each hour for income or more interesting activities as a smart way to go.

Typical American Salaries and Hourly Wages to be financially free

99% of working Americans make between $15,080 (minimum wage) and $1,000,000 a year. Most Americans simply work salary jobs they don't love doing, and that's it. Use the Wage / Hour column as benchmarks for your side hustle activities.

For the large middle class of Americans who make between $27,000 – $150,000 a year, know there are a lot more ways to make more money if you are willing to work longer hours (more than 40 hours a week), or if you're willing to experiment with different income opportunities.

Below are four such examples from real people with their names changed.

Freedom level 1 – 10: 2

Financially Free Individual #1: Jane

Income Profile #1 Of Financially Free People Financial Samurai

Jane makes the median household income of $52,000. She decides she wants to make more money to shore up her freedom fund and work less hours in the future. As a result, she not only spends 10 hours extra a week driving and referring for her favorite rideshare company, she also spends three hours a week consulting with a corporate client, and two hours a week teaching piano.

Because she's focused, she sticks with the program and ends up making $103,920 a year. She worked 37% more hours a week (55 from 40), but she made 100% more in income (from $52,000).

Freedom level 1 – 10: 3

Financially Free Individual #2: David

Income Profile #2 Of Financially Free People Financial Samurai

David decided to cut back his graphic design job from 40 hours to 30 hours a week so he could reallocate his time doing other more fun things. He's a lifestyle blog junkie and decided to start his own blog one day. 

After spending about 10 hours a week writing and connecting for six months, David's site began to make on average $24 a day. The great thing about his blog is that it's always on. He created an asset that can work for him while he's sleeping!

In addition to blogging, he decides to do some rideshare driving and referring for 12 hours a week for an additional $550. David also discovered a client at a conference that wanted to hire him full-time. He didn't want a FT gig, so he agreed to do some design work for them for 13 hours a week at $75/hour.

Finally, David loves to stay in shape as an ex-high school competitive swimmer. For five hours on the weekend, he teaches swimming at the local public pool to people he found on Craigslist for $300. He gets to meet new people and exercise while making cash.

Instead of making $45,600 a year as a 40 hours a week employee at his full-time job, David is making $103,556 a year through his various side hustles. He's putting in 61 hours a week, but he's loving every minute of it as an energetic 26 year old because 31 hours of the 61 hours is determined by him. Having the freedom to choose your hours is what people value highly!

Freedom level 1- 10: 6

If you want to see a detailed income report from a good friend who is doing a combination of part-time work plus side hustle, take a look of this income report. Sydney is making $18,000+ a month doing a smorgasboard of things!

Financially Free Individual #3: Lyndon

Income Profile #3 Of Financially Free People Financial Samurai

Lyndon used to make $200,000 a year as a management consultant. However, he negotiated a severance package because his tech review website started taking off after three years.

At $25 an hour, his website makes him $600 a day, $4,200 a week, and $219,000 a year due to business partnerships and advertising. Instead of working 50 hours a week at his management consulting job, he now spends no more than 20 hours a week running his website from anywhere in the world.

Instead of just depending on his website's $200,000+ a year operating profits, Lyndon decides to follow my ride hack and give rides whenever he is going somewhere anyway. Through his experiences ridesharing, he's evolved his website to be a tech review + gig economy website where he earns an extra $4,000+ a month from gig companies.

Because he's been able to build a solid website, other companies who also want to build brand, community, and traffic to their sites hire him for $125/hour.

But Lyndon limits his corporate consulting hours to 15 hours a week. He does not want to spend more than a total of 25 hours a week outside of the time he spends on his site. Lyndon is maximizing for freedom, not money because he makes beyond what he needs.

Freedom level 1 – 10: 9

Financially Free Individual #4: Maria

Income Profile Of Financially Free People Financial Samurai

Maria is 40 years old and a rock star. She started her mommy coupon blog seven years ago while she was working in the retail industry. She leveraged her expertise in consumer behavior to create a site that targets women who want to save money.

After Maria's website started taking off, she decided to work from home. She wanted to spend more time with her two children. When her youngest child turned six, Maria decided to get back into the mix of working for a company because she missed the action.

As a good compromise, she agreed to consult for one company for 25 hours a week. As a result, she could still find time to consult with others looking to build a site. She could also continue to do yoga on the weekends as well.

Maria drivers on average 5 hours a week for fun. It gives her an excuse to drive to work or to the gym instead of take public transportation. Because Maria's online platform is so big, it's easier for her to earn extra referral income on the side.

What surprised Maria about her online business is that she started getting invitations to speak at conferences around the country. Not only would the conference organizer pay for her trip and accommodations, they'd also give her anywhere between $2,000 – $8,000 to give a key note address. At the various conferences, Maria can highlight her platform even more.

Maria works because she wants to, not because she has to. She's not to proud to get her hands dirty!

Freedom level 1 – 10: 10

What Does It Take To Be Financially Free?

Here's what it takes to do whatever you want one day:

  • Work ethic. 40 hours a week is an arbitrary amount of time to work. There are 168 hours in a week. If you worked just five hours more a week, think about how much more you could make or do with an extra 260 hours a year? I challenge everybody to get up one hour early to work on something that has meaning to them every day for one year.
  • Desire. You've got to really desire to be free. If you've got a cushy job that pays you just enough not to leave, then you're probably just going to stay and surf the internet most of your hours. You'll never take any steps to do anything else. Jane, David, Lyndon, myself all have the desire to do other things because our day jobs weren't our main interests after a while.
  • Putting yourself out there. Rejection is just the name of the game when you are constantly taking risks. But if you're never failing, then you aren't trying hard enough. It takes effort to find optimal levels of happiness. Don't just get punished every day when your hands are unbound. I go through constant rejection just to be free.
  • An open mind. Think about the many different ways there are to cook fish across all cultures around the world? There are even more ways to make money and live a lifestyle you want. There're a lot of closed minded people because they've never traveled, never lived a broad, or don't speak a second language. Read, watch, learn, and participate to open your mind.
  • Humility. Don't be so arrogant and presume that your way is the only way. Be humble enough to realize when you're wrong. And when things start to click, be humble enough to remember when things went wrong. Never stop hustling because good things don't last forever.
  • Leverage. You can only do so much. The richest people have built an online platform where they can reach an unlimited amount of people to sell a product or service due to leverage. They've also built a recognizable brand due to longevity and trust. A website can make money for you 24/7. An individual can only put in about 60 hours a week before they start breaking down. Build assets that produce a constant return.
  • Organizational discipline. Once you start making a good amount of money, you've got to track your money so you don't lose your money. Think about all those people who've made a ton and wonder where it all went? Once you've got a solid handle on your money, you can invest your money in the most optimal way possible.
  • Grit. You must last long enough to see your efforts reward. Financial Samurai made no money for the first year, but I kept on going because I enjoyed writing. 12 years later, Financial Samurai is large enough to support a family of four in expensive San Francisco.

If your job or life is miserable, there's no need to stay miserable. Instead of getting upset at people getting ahead who have none of your advantages, see what you can learn from them. Perhaps an adaption of their strategies to your situation can help your progress.

Discrediting other people's efforts may make you feel better. But at the end of the day, you're the one living your life. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true.”

Start Your Own Website, Be Your Own Boss.

There's nothing better than starting your own website to own your brand online and earn extra income on the side. Why should LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter pop up when someone Google's your name?

With your own website you can connect with potentially millions of people online. You can sell a product and sell some else's product to earn passive income. Further, you can find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities. You can start one today for less than $3/month with Bluehost.

Every year since 2012, I've found a new six figure consulting opportunity thanks to employers finding Financial Samurai online. Further, I've been able to make a healthy living online and never have to go back to work again. It is incredible to run a site from home. To be able to make some money with your own two hands is wonderful. It also feels great knowing that it can never be shut down.

Follow my step-by-step-guide to starting your own website today. What used to cost tens of thousands to start a business now only costs less than $50 a year. Leverage the internet to grow your wealth and find new opportunities. Companies and many wealthy entrepreneurs are, so should you.

The things you do today may change your life for the better!

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Related posts:

FIRE Confessionals I: Surviving A Bear Market

FIRE Confessionals II: A Bull Market Phenomenon

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 100,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience. 

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78 thoughts on “Income Profiles Of Financially Free People: FIRE Movement Followers”

  1. Sam,

    I know you’re more into the entrepreneurship thing but what do you think of my idea of just getting another job? I have an opportunity in my same industry (govt contracting) where I can work for another employer PT, 5 min away from my FT job (same govt agency). If I do about 60 hours/week, I’d make about $200k/year. I understand I could potentially make more with the above examples in maybe less time, I just see doing what I’m thinking as an easier and more sure way of making more money. I plan on asking around and finding out if I can at least be a 1099 independent contractor for the PT job, instead of W2 so that I can save more of the extra income in a retirement plan like a SEP-IRA. Thanks!

  2. Apathy Ends

    I definitely fit the “my job pays me just enough not to leave” bill. It’s like they have a chart that hits $1000 over the rage quit bar every year.

    Conditioning of the work force to take on salary positions is in full force, whenever I talk about not working for someone or in a corporate environment else I get a lot of weird looks From friends and co-workers.

    I started blogging to try something new and see if I could stick it out. These posts keep motivating!

  3. I want to get to the point of financial independence and have a passive income stream but I have no clue how to get there. My background is in engineering, and I been doing that for close to 10 years; it just seem I have lost my passion for it and making money is not motivating enough for me. I want to find something I feel passionate about and capitalize that into having an income stream. Any suggestion FS? My hobby is investing, but sometime that is like watching paint dry, a long and painful process; I dont quite have the technical skill or knowledge to do more complicating trading. Thanks.

  4. These examples are exciting and inspiring. Thanks for sharing how its possible to tremendously increase your pay with side hustles. I’ve used business writing as a way to bump up my pay – and after realizing that I was doubling my pay with 10-20 extra hours a week, I decided it was time to quit my job and go at it full time. I’m nervous, but it’s exciting to make your living on your own terms. Again, thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Even Steven

    I love the article Sam because it makes me think what should I be doing to get to an income of XYZ. I think my current mindset is I have a 9-5 that makes X and anything else that comes in from the blog or eBay is nice to have but has no real goals or hourly rates are attached to it. I think I’m going to to change the mindset in the upcoming year and track it, could be fun:)

  6. Michael @ NTPNW

    For most- without a goal, without a dream and without belief they shall continue the same rut day in and day out.

  7. The ability to make money is incredibly important for financial freedom, but I would say that being enterprising isn’t enough. You need to be willing to quit too.

    It took me at least a dozen attempts to finally find a way to make money on the side that I didn’t make me want to punch a hole through the screen of my computer. Now that I’m earning extra money, it seems so easy, but at the time it was annoying as crap to see these people posting $20-$30K a month side income reports.

  8. As with so many things in our lives (including financial issues) it all comes down to being intentional. So many people expect to fall into wealth, or just become wealthy because they work. Then they spend like it’s going out of style…..and wonder why they don’t become wealthy!

    Figure out a plan…..modify it when you need to……but then live it out! Don’t leave it to chance and don’t assume someone will do it for you. Trust me, they won’t. They’re too busy living out their plan to worry about yours…..

    Great post!


    1. Apathy Ends

      “It all comes down to being intentional”

      I don’t know why but I like that phrase – I agree, everyone just expects things to happen if they do what they are “supposed” to do.

  9. Great post Sam! I couldn’t agree more that hard work + smart work is the way to success for all of us. So many people refuse to work longer hours to achieve their goals. In high school I really wanted a car, so I worked 75 hours a until I had the money for a used one. Today my goals are different, but I think and hope the work ethic remains the same.

  10. I myself completly agree with this view, but it’s not nearly as easy outside of US :-). I for one live in Czech Republic and median yearly salary before taxes is 10.5k$ per year, yet still we have lots of expenses comperable with countries like UK or Germany. But I guess that’s what you get for living in 2nd world country.
    I was lucky enough to get a insanely good job with which I will hit little over 33k$ of income this year. My parents make around the same money with their salary combined and I’m “only” 26. But the fact is, I have to do at least 50hours every week, on top of it I have call out emergencies almost all the time etc. so there’s not much room for additional work, but I’m hoping to get online store going during 2016/2017. I’m currently able to live from as little as 30% of my salary, usually I exceed that by a little. When I was in my early 20s, I managed to get myself in very large debt of 50k (for my country that’s insane), mostly by attempting to creating something like a Forex Mutual fund, but leverage did it’s magic and all I was left with, were crazy debts. So now I’m slowly fighting my way back to zero. Just to give you a small review of this year… out of 33k$ brutto I’ve made this year I got 24k netto, out of which I paid 4k just as interest on my debts and I lowered my debt by additional 10k, so I used 58% of my income to fight debts and even managed to save 1.5k as emergency pocket money, so in total I’ve spent only 35.5% of my earned money.
    The point is, if I went outside and tried to do majority of suggested things, in the report, I’d be able to make like up to a 8$ per hour at best, therefore my work, is currently the best place to be, because that’s where the money is for me and that’s only because I have US employer. Most of the guys in my age are not even hitting that 1k$ per month and when trying to do some extra work, they usually have to do something for as little as 3-4$ per hour, which I imagine is just nonsense in your country.
    Btw this is my first post ever, but I’ve been reading your blog for about 6months by now and I really love it, I’m actually considering creating something similar if I’ll get to the point where I’ll pay off majority of my debts and will have more successful experiences to back it up.

    Thank you for all the posts and keep it up!

    Best regards


    1. Nice work getting that much higher paying job and slaying that debt with 50%+ of your income Vlad!

      Another way to look at side hustles is this, since the income in your country is so low, making side hustle money on an international stage is actually much more lucrative for you. I would deathly figure out a way to leverage the Internet .

      1. You’re absolutely right, I’ve spent way too much time (since I was 17 till 24) trying to conquer financial markets, in the past I thought it was realistic to keep making profits exceeding even 20% per month, just because I was always smart and great at math and believed I can be next Buffet… oh boy I couldn’t be more wrong :D

        But aiming for something, with which I can do a business in 1st world countries, that seems to be the right way to go. So I should prolly add this as one of the things to wrap my head around, because it would have to be something virtual/online, since import/export with US is soooo problematic in my country. Sad thing is, I somehow dislike affiliate concepts, which is I guess my biggest downfall… lol

        Thanks for the tip though! :-)

        Btw, I’d love to use something like a MOTIF, but as non US citizen I am not eligible to create an account there, do you have any idea if there’s something similar where I could get my account setup ? I’ve tried to google search some, but they weren’t even close to MOTIF.

  11. Excellent post! As an emigrant without a collage eduction I am honored to live in a country that provides so much opportunity and where hard work and hustle are rewarded. My initial goal was to earn $60 per hour or a dollar for every minute of work. It took me a long time to get to that point but growing from there seemed a lot easier. I’m now hovering at around $150 per hour.
    I would love to start an internet based company but as I’m not much of a writer it will not be a blog. I haven’t figured it out yet but I will.
    Fear, begrudgery and laziness are what keeps most people in their cubicles.

    1. webbersworld

      BB – great work getting up to $150/hr! Hell of a rate. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do? I’m in the same boat as you. Would really love to start an internet-based business, but also not much of a writer, so don’t think it’ll be a blog of any sort.

  12. AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME POST!!!! I was just explaining the other day how I do so many different things just a little of each and that way none of it feels like work. I Drive for Lyft as a part time job and ended up driving for 9 hours one day, well though I made what I would consider decent money it was not worth it to me at the end because I felt like I was working. My goal is to only drive 4 to 6 hours well doing that at a time and when I do it becomes fun to me and not work at all. Then I have other things that I do in an attempt to make income as well through affiliate marketing and selling on amazon and well the list goes on and on but the point is that I live the life I want to live without having to be forced to work a 40 hour week, because it is not my only income stream. And yea I have almost doubled my income at this point because of all the extra work I’m putting in but I’m only working an additional 50% more.

  13. It’s easy to say there are X hours in a week and you can do all these things. Not so easy for a single mother, or a couple with kids. It can be done, but it takes a lot of energy and frankly some folks just don’t have that much energy to spend on a full time job, on their kids, on their spouse, and on multiple side hustles. Consider, for a number of couples the day is basically get the kids up for breakfast and day care, get to the full time job, pick up the kids, attend to their activities, ensure they are fed, do homework, get them washed and ready for bed, and then, if you are lucky and don’t have a job that requires additional time outside work, have an hour or two with your significant other to decompress, do some family planning, etc. before getting to bed. That’s before we add in dealing with your own family, the spouse’s family, friends, etc. that are all going to take up time. When you have to pick the kids up at 5 pm, or get hit with a $35 fee for getting them late, are you going to pick up a ride that’s “on the way”? Think it’s a great idea to be picking up rides with the little ones in the vehicle?

    Again, it can and obviously has been done, but there are a lot of choices made in there and all of those choices chew up time. Either time making money, time for relationships, etc. There is a reason of the old saw about the secretary marrying the boss or someone having an affair with a coworker, it’s because they spend so much time together and often get to know one another.

    1. All good points and true.

      I’ve actually met a handful of female Uber driving moms who drive after 9pm for several hours after they put their kids to bed. They are inspirational, and I also look to single mom’s as the best multi-taskers around.

      The great thing about the internet is that it has provided many more people a CHOICE. In the past, a lot of people had no way out but to do their job FT.

      1. First time posting here because its the first time I think I can add value. Still a few years away from 30 years old, my wife and I have two kids both under 3 years old. (Love them to death and wouldn’t sacrifice quality time with them.) I’m finishing up a part-time MBA program (~20 hours/week–switch to online format from evening (same school) to cut out commute time) and have a day job that commands ~55 hours/week plus an hour commute each way to work (make all my consulting calls during this time). I consult 15-20 hours/week, which grosses me about 70% of the base salary of my day job/year. In addition to this my wife and I are actively involved in our church and we volunteer and host events regularly–about another 15 hours/week. (Our whole family is involved in these events so its also family time.) I spend about 5 hours per week in random ad hoc side gigs where the dollar amount makes sense for our family. Spend about another 1-2 hours/week finding new opportunities because I feel like I have capacity to pick up more work.

        Yes, there are trade-offs. And circumstances can dictate how robust side hustles are. In our case, we’ve sacrificed sleep and entertainment instead of family and work. Relax and watch TV? We don’t have TV. Once a week I’ll watch a show with my kids or wife on our laptop–all of which is good quality family time. Quality time with our toddler looks like 30 minute nature walks in our forest preserve almost every day between the time I get home and dinner. Get about 5 hours sleep/night with one 2 hour nap on the weekend–our 2 month old keeps me accountable to this sleep schedule! Feel great and healthy, our toddler makes sure I have enough energy to chase her around.

        I’m sure our schedules will change as our kids get older and have activities of their own. But (1) I’ll be done with my MBA program by then and can secure more lucrative consulting arrangements that command more dollars and (2) it might actual be a neutral effect because we already spend a lot of time changing their clothes/diapers, feeding them, etc. and they’ll be more independent as they age.

        Summary: Yes, there are trade-offs. Look at the time you spend on entertainment, ‘relaxing’, and sleep. I would say, in general, folks can probably spend less time on those things and more time on side hustles/other ventures without sacrificing family time. I’m not a great example but feel we have a system that works for our family and we feel it provides our family with financial security as we max out our 401k, save over 60% of our income, and invest.

        1. I can tell you that as a family with 2 kids, ages 6 and 9 that your life will certainly change. I don’t do much in the form of entertainment and I do not watch tv. But the kids and their activities keep me MUCH busier than I would like.

    2. It also gets a little better as the kids get older. I told some of my story above ^^, but my mom started involving us in the side hustle of real estate as we got older. We got the typical education in “here’s your allowance and you should budget it wisely,” but we also got education in building spreadsheets, and understanding amortization schedules, and those sorts of things that gave us a huge leg up later in life.

      When my sisters and I were young, Mom worked hard to save as much money as possible to put it toward real estate investments. She had no time, but a little bit of spare money, if she was smart about it. As we grew older, she started having a little more time, because we were more independent.

      It may feel overwhelming, but pencil out what you have to spare right now, both in money and time. How much $ per month can you put aside if you REALLY stretch for it? A few hundred bucks a month? I don’t know what your life looks like, but here’s how I carved out some spare money in my life: I dye my own hair ($5 a pop instead of $50), tend to my own landscaping ($75 per month), and clean my own house ($200 per month based on twice a month service), and I may not do as good of a job on the housecleaning part, but I save myself a few hundred bucks a month on those items, easily. How much time can you reasonably spend on a side gig and still have family time? A few hours a week? Pushing your boundaries just a little and carving out just a little more time and money for side hustles can make a very big difference as time goes on.

  14. Hey Sam,

    I’m curious to hear what you (and the other folks in this blog post) do for health insurance. Also – if you have done anything to balance the passive vs active income. Active income can have a better tax advantage when there’s a solo 401k available (not possible w/ passive income). and while passive income is great – it can bump overall AGI to a higher bracket (I know, not a terrible problem to have… :) ).


    1. There are a lot of options for health insurance. I have a “Silver Plan” equivalent where I pay about $720/month, which is high for someone in their late 30s who is healthy and fit. But that’s my duty as an American to help subsidize others under the new Universal Health Care System.

      Check out: Subsidies Amount By Income For Obamacare

      I optimize by target income… which is $200K – $250K. You have better control over your income as a small business owner.

      Check out:

      The Ideal Split Between Passive And Active Income For A Better Life

      Active Income Is So Much More Enjoyable Than Passive Income

      How To Save Over $100,000 Tax Free With A Solo 401k or SEP IRA

      I have over 1,100 posts so far. Take some time checking out the top posts on the right of the homepage and all the categories!

      1. Sam, just to clarify, that $720/month Silver Plan you pay is for you alone and would be $1,440/month for a couple, right? I’m assuming at least a $1,000 deductible. That is $17,280/year, a big bite for a couple in their thirties (or any age). The reason I am trying to clarify, is the rate for my wife and I (two healthies in their ’50s with no pre-existing conditions) has jumped from $7,000/year two years ago to $19,320/year with a $3,000 deductible.

        Do you really consider “the new Universal Health Care System” to be a success? It keeps failing, notably Hawaii and Vermont systems went bankrupt, and there is zero evidence of it “reducing costs by $2,500 per family” as it was promised.

        1. Correct. $720 for one. The system is very expensive. At least it is tax deductible.

          It is the price we pay for insuring those with less. We just need as much preventative maintenance and education about health as possible.

  15. There’s definitely something incredibly simple about just going to work, collecting your paycheck, and coming home to do whatever you want. It’s a GREAT benefit of a day job, that is for sure. And if one is happy with that way of life, that is awesome. And if one wants to make more, then know there is more to be made.

    I get a thrill out of doing at least a couple things at once. It feels like I’m maximizing my time and adding more stuff in an empty freight container. Why not put an Elephant in instead of just a mouse?

  16. I like how to you link freedom to the amount of money made and the hours spent making money, in the case of Lyndon. He manages to make good money because his niche is lucrative and that may not necessarily apply to all bloggers. The thing is, the first few steps are extremely difficult to cover in your journey to financial independence, but after you read midway, the rest of the steps pretty much become flat because opportunities come to you themselves, like in the case of Lyndon, being hired as a speaker because his site is super successful. I’m sure during the first three years when he had a job and his site was new, he was working day and night. Was he? It would be interesting to find out.

    1. Once you build something, gain momentum, and hang around long enough, random opportunities start popping up ALL THE TIME.

      Let me give you an example: I was e-mailed out of the blue by a PR agency who asked me to be a co-host for an event for 30 minutes out of the 2 hour time period in downtown SF. I said sure, why not. I hosted for 30 minutes, hung around for the remaining 1.5 hours, and did 30 minutes of prep work for a total of 2.5 hours. That hourly rate was more than what I charge doing 1X1 career and personal finance consulting. Again, totally out of the blue, and who knows, maybe this could be a quarterly thing around the country. You never know!

      You’ve always got to put a ton of work in the beginning. But once you do, it will show and the reward will last for a long time.

  17. Great Post – If you were to advise someone who came to you for advice on starting a blog/website to build a passive income of $50/day, how would you advise on the following:

    -which niche should the person focus on?

    -should they hire a developer/designer up front to assist or should they use a plug and play platform

    -how often should they post (multiple times a day, daily, weekly)

    – should they initially monetize with google adsense or affiliate links or neither?

    -What should their target goal for monthly visitors be in the first 3,6,12 months?

    -What is a key mistake you made that you would advise they avoid?

    -Assuming you get the right niche/topic and produce consistent good content how much time should one plan on committing to building the blog into a $50/day income producer by the end of year one, if this is even possible?

      1. I’d love to hear a response to these questions too! Obviously you can’t be super specific, and might just link to yakezie posts for choosing a niche, etc. But putting everything together into a step by step plan with a timeline and key metrics would be awesome.

    1. Well said. I respect people who are able to have some side gig, some people even have several of them. I just don’t see how and where people pack their family schedule in there.

      I have a side hustle, and at this point if I want it to grow, I’ll either have to sacrifice my day job or my family.

      All of these are choices, but I feel making it sound “doable” based on 3 successful examples is lame. What about the thousands of people who failed miserably with their side hustle?

      Before your side hustle canget enough momentum, you have to have income to support you and your family. People on low wages cannot afford that.

      1. Why follow people who don’t know how to do it or haven’t been able to do it? To learn from their inability?

        Do you want me to put more examples to make my point less “lame”?

      2. I wouldn’t call the examples given lame but time means different things to different people at different stages in life.

        1. The more I think about this article I feel this will resonate more with folks who have absolute control over their time unlike people still in the midst of juggling a regular job with demands that come with raising a family.

    2. I completely agree. I am, according to my husband, a workaholic. We now have two kids who are 6 and 9. I am able to balance career/family time and life balance, but would not be able to do that with any side hustles. Nor am I willing to give up any family time to do so. At this point in my life, family comes first. There will come a time when my kids no longer want to or need to spend as much time with me. When that happens, there will be more time to work. Though I am not sure if I will want to. We have had friends and family die recently and have a friend who was just diagnosed with ALS. Time is short.

    3. “The cost is family”.

      Does not have to be that way.

      My wife and I started several businesses together. Some were side hustles, others were full time businesses. We spent time together either way.

      On our latest side hustle, real estate investing, we even bring our mentally handicapped daughter along with us to look over the houses and work in them with us. She plays her music and dances while we repair things and get a family concert at the same time.

      Get those preconceived notions out of your head!

      Instead, when you find an objection, such as “impact on family time”, ask yourself and those whose opinions you value how you could get the good of the side hustle without the bad of the problem you found. You might surprise yourself! Sometimes what seems like a real weakness turns into a real strength!

      Example: we are doing the real estate rental business to provide for our mentally handicapped daughter once we are unable to. We named it after her.

      She is one heck of an ambassador. Her smile just opens hearts and doors. We’ve gotten free legal work, contractors have worked on saturdays and sundays without charging extra, all to help her out.

  18. Great post, as usual, Sam. Makes you ponder and question lot of one’s built up inertia to change (certainly in my case) but I would love to hear from somebody whose doing all the hustling via 2nd or 3rd jobs while trying to raise a family. How did you achieve it and/or what obstacles did you face and overcome?

    1. I don’t have kids myself, but I was one of my mother’s three children while she worked side jobs managing real estate in addition to her full-time CPA job in the 1980s. She didn’t sacrifice family time for her side jobs. Instead, she included us in them. When we were little, she would take us out to the mobilehome parks every once in a while and show us what they were all about. Every year around tax time, she started me off helping her prepare the tax returns on the family real estate properties, and she paid me a reasonable hourly wage to do it. She taught me how to create Excel spreadsheets, and she taught me about balance sheets and cash flow statements, and about how to manage properties. We got family time and side hustle time, and she instilled a work ethic in me as well as equipping me with a huge amount of business knowledge that I couldn’t have gotten from any other source. I had a HUGE leg up in law school and after graduating, simply because I understand business accounting and property management. The only time I felt like I wasn’t getting “Mom time” was during her regular full time job. Working with her in the off hours still felt like family time, just with the added bonus of accounting/business lessons.

  19. Excellent post Sam!

    I think the primary reason people don’t consider other income possibilities is because most people actually believe they don’t have enough time. Ironically this is usually far from the truth, but that is the story most people tell themselves.

    So, when considering working anything beyond 40 hours, they simply scoff at it and retreat to their comfort zone as dictated by societal standards. Complacency is the death of progress and I see lots of complacent people hanging out with each other.

  20. KevinInColrado

    Turn your hobbies into side hustles. If it’s fun, why not get paid to do it?!

    1. 20 years ago yoga helped me get rid of back pain and I ended up getting a yoga teacher certification. Running my own little biz, renting a neighborhood clubhouse one night a week I was netting about $40/week to teach yoga instead of paying someone else $10/week to participate. Every penny earned went into long term investments.

    2. 5 years ago I dove into my gold prospecting hobby…yes I get gold for free($$) but there’s more: I made friends with a guy who runs a gold prospecting outfitting business for tourists. Now I get paid to teach others to pan for gold :)

    Is it a ton of cash? No, but the last dollar you earn is the one you have the MOST choice about what to do with. Choosing to invest it gives such a sense of a better future..and boy does that feel good :)

    1. Well done! Hobby into an income stream is always fun. The inflection point is if and when a hobby starts feeling like work.

      I’ve tried to never make FS feel like work, hence why I’ve maintained the status quo w/out going into overdrive chasing what seems like an unlimited amount of business development opportunities.

      1. KevinInColorado

        “Seems like an unlimited amount of business development opportunities”…absolutely!

        I’m leaving a regular paycheck behinds ion! Feb 1 will be the day I turn in my employee badge. Being 52 and financially independent is not the sort of early you talk about but it’s still early enough that everyone around me is surprised/worried/judgmental/impressed/jealous or whatever.

        I’m planning to ramp up work on a book about gold and prospecting in Colorado – something for tourists and wannabe prospectors. I’ve already turned down an opportunity to be a gold prospecting equipment manufacturer’s distributor (seemed too much like work as you say!). However, a blog may happen too if my wife has her way with me and it goes from there!

        Bring your passion and the opportunities open up :-D

  21. Nice post, Sam- I like the philosophy behind each income stream.

    My own profile:

    W2 job income- 55 hours a week, $6K a week
    Managing rental property- 1 hour a week, $250 a week
    Managing a dividend portfolio- 1 hour a week, $1500 a week
    Royalty income from music- 1 hour a week, $1 a week

    Total of 58 hours a week and $7751 per week. Freedom level 5/10.

    Need to build up a new side hustle. Thanks for the kick in the bum.


    1. Mike – I’m impressed you are still working 55 hours a week! I burned out years ago. But if I had to do it for at max 3 years, I think I could.

      When you are working on your own stuff, things feel incredibly rewarding.

  22. Love the specific examples you’ve included here, definitely brings some of the possibilities to life.

    Sometimes when I weigh up my pretty decent salary with the time and effort of some of these side-hustles, it can seem like the time to get these things up and running, and the implied hourly rate, is just far too low. Of course, that’s probably from being too short-term focused, or an excuse for not wanting to work even harder (I’ll throw in a combination of work time spilling well over the boundaries of 40 hrs a week, and a current lack of sleep from young kids as two more excuses!).

    I’m very happy to have kept the blog going, however, despite making no money from it – it’s nice to keep this ‘optionality’ alive, as you never know where it might take you!

    1. Jason, I think you’ll surprise yourself if you wanted to earn more revenue from your site! Once I decided there was no going back to a day job back in 2012-2013, the revenue began.

  23. I don’t really understand all the hate on the previous post. I think this one will be go down as another classic FS post. Just like you wrote, it’s not an either or type thing and there are many ways to skin the “diversify your income” cat.

    One thing I’m really struggling with currently is I have so many ideas and things I want to experiment with, but limited time. Since I’m currently pursuing my MBA in the evenings, this means I have even less time for now. This MBA time currently has $0 of income attached to it, but the hope would be over the long-term the investment is worth it. Either way, just gotta keep working at multiple things.

    If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it.

    1. Nice job going for your MBA part-time! I did the same thing at Cal over the weekends from 2003 – 2006. I don’t regret it at all, especially since it was employer-sponsored. And if it isn’t, look into writing off the costs to your income.

      Getting your MBA could prove to be very valuable with future income you won’t really know until you get there.

  24. There are people that make excuses and there are people that make it happen.

    Previous Side Hustles/Income Streams
    -Small Business
    -Real Estate Income
    -Merchandise Sales
    -Land Rental
    -Commercial Royalties

    Current Income Streams
    -Real Estate Income

    Possible Future Income Streams/Side Hustles
    -More Real Estate Income
    -More REITs/Dividends
    -P2P Lending
    -Commercial Royalties
    -Small Business

    Would love to hear of other’s previous, current, or future income streams.

    1. Gig economy income streams! Take advantage of VC and financial institution money flooding the gig economy right now. It might stop eventually.

      And of course, creating your own online product where once produced, you can earn income passively. Every time I sell a book, I get a nice alert on my phone. It’s like Christmas day every time I see one.

      1. Now imagine what the numbers would be like if a blog was much bigger or in a more lucrative niche than tech review. Enterprising Individual #3 is just a taste of what could be!

  25. Just to play devil’s advocate for a minute…I’m not sure it’s really true that “everybody” or even a substantial majority of people can achieve additional income – much less “freedom” – from side hustles and gig businesses.

    It depends a lot on where you live and what the opportunities are there, and of course on your skill set. But many low/average income earners are hustling enough just to find/keep/work a day job and juggle family obligations.

    A better-than-minimum wage job? Sure – most people can do that. Overtime and additional hours spent at that job or something similar/low paid that they may or may not enjoy? Fine (this includes your teaching swim/piano examples).

    But corporate consulting? Starting a blog that makes any type of significant money/hour spent? Ride sharing referral income?? These are not realistic examples of ongoing and substantial income opportunities for even well-educated folks who know their way around the marketplace.

    I am totally on board with maximizing happiness and income of course. I spend a lot of time blogging because it’s engaging and satisfying and a creative outlet for me – but not because I make much money doing it. Sometimes keeping your well paid day job with benefits IS a good financial decision!

    1. Check out examples # 1 and #2 in this post of people who’ve doubled their incomes while keeping their day jobs.

      There are literally millions of personal websites out there. Yes, I believe everybody can create one bc millions already have.

      I can teach you how to monetize your site in a sustainable way if you wish. But it will require commitment and an open mind.

      Check out my good friend Sydney’s latest awesome income report. It encapsulates the Enterprising People in my post!

      1. I thought about this some more after reading your last post on the incomes of Uber drivers vs Uber employees (which I hadn’t read before posting my comment above). It inspired me to write a post this morning on the benefits of participating in the gig economy. Here it is if you want to check it out. I linked to your last post.

        I agree with you that many people can substantially increase their incomes by taking a second job and working more hours doing any number of things. And I think side hustles are also great for a variety of non-financial reasons. I just think your personal success with this website (and using it to make money promoting Uber) may be skewing your confidence in blogging and ride sharing as a substantial income source. Sure it CAN be – as can playing professional sports. But the odds aren’t in your favor.

        There are a lot of other ways to make money though after all, and your point is well taken regardless. As I said I blog for fun, although I am interested in trying to monetize my site and would be open to your ideas.

        1. What about the other top referrers making $200,000 who do not have a website like mine?

          I think you are UNDERestimating your abilities and other people’s abilities. Maybe that is key. Having the confidence to believe you can grow and succeed. Those who don’t, won’t. Makes sense.

          FS started from nothing, just like everything else.

      2. Teach me your ways, oh great Samurai (said sarcastically, meant sincerely). I don’t know what all I may have that could work for me, but I know for a fact that I’ve got desire and a lifelong knack for coming up with clever solutions to things. And financial freedom? I want that. I have two young children with me only every other week, no personal debt, and just turned 30. I have time to make an impact. I’m ready.

  26. Its just people expect to make money easily. They also think that the other guy just some how got lucky. No its not that, you put the time in and the hard work in and you know what at least you increase your odds of succeeding. Some of those negative posts on your last article were quite shocking… people always try to look for the flaws and negative in some thing without even having tried or putting any effort into the idea or concept themselves.

    1. Yes, I agree, and I was surprised by the amount of pushback.

      But without pushback, I wouldn’t have had the vision to put together these charts and publish this new post! Always a silver lining and endless material. I always appreciate other perspectives.

  27. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Great post!

    Making money is easy, it just takes work.

    Don’t know if you ever saw the YouTube video of Ashton Kutcher…but this reminds me of a quote from that clip “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.”

  28. I totally agree, there’s no need to stay miserable or to accept the limitations of a 9-to-5 job. If you’re not happy with where you are financially, and you’re working only 40 hours per week, then you are your own limitation. I love reading and hearing stories from regular Joes (and especially immigrants) who bust their ass and build up a financial empire.

    For example, my immediate family owns a 22-unit apartment building in La Habra. The guy who owns an identical 22-unit building next door is a taxi cab driver. He worked hard, saved his money, and bought a four-plex. He kept working hard, saving his money, and trading up, until he ended up owning a 22-unit building all by himself. That building is worth over $5 million now in today’s rental market, and I would imagine he’s clearing some great monthly cash flow. No way he could have gotten there working just 40 hours a week as a cab driver. He must have worked long days, and then supplemented those long working hours with some additional work as a landlord once he got his first four-plex.

    I have a good day job, which requires about 50 hours a week of work, but I’m still working on building up rental real estate on the side, in addition to my side hustle of blogging and seasonal bookkeeping/tax prep. I hope to work hard enough on those side hustles to be able to retire 5-10 years early and have a very comfortable living.

    1. The older we get, the more we will appreciate the VALUE of being able to retire 5-10 years early. Having the optionality to do whatever you want is priceless.

      It’s just hard for people to envision value so far in the future. But I’m telling folks who are too lazy or too scared to try, TO TRY. You won’t regret it 10 years from now.

      Every day I wake up, I give myself a mental or physical high five for starting FS in 2009. Every single day. I can’t believe it. It is so much fun. So rewarding, and it pays all the bills and then some.

      Stick w/ things long enough and be amazed at what could be folks!

  29. I agree 100%, I have followed this pattern for my own life. This past year I’ve negotiated 2 raises and 6500 stock options at my full-time day job, bought an existing online business at 0.4x it’s net income, and provide consulting for $75/hr at no more than 13 hours a week while I turned away 3 potential clients this month (means I need to raise my rates next year). The online business I bought has also several other similar sites in storage that I am working on with my wife to get started back up. The owner of them turned 65 this year and wants to free up time instead of managing websites.

  30. Great post Sam! I’ve been using your advice and trying to build several income streams myself. So far I have the 401(K) from the JOB and a ROTH outside of it. Add to that a growing stock portfolio with mostly dividend paying stocks and REITs. Recently I’ve added peer to peer lending – trying to regularly fund that. I really like the compounding aspect of that. And as a side hustle I started a blog of my own, about six months ago. It’s been slow building but I do enjoy it and I find the topic really interesting. As a software developer by trade, I also do some projects on the side when I have the time. Thinking about trying the rideshare thing, but I’m still in the investigating process. Will let you know my progress. Keep up the great work!

    1. Great job expanding your potential income streams and assets! You’ve now grown a little army of soldiers who will help you fight off some of your battles when they arise.

      The gig economy (Postmates, DoorDash, etc too) have given normal people MUCH more flexibility to do things they want to do. In essence, gigs FILL THE INCOME GAP.

  31. Great post Samurai. I love the spreadsheet breakdowns. I think you hit it on the head, when it comes to people who are making “just enough,” they struggle to find the motivation or desire to increase their hours doing something on the side, even if it means a dramatic increase in their income.

    1. Yes sir! I was fortunate to be pounded by my first job ,which made me want to save and invest like crazy. And when the economic crisis hit in 2009, it made me want to find another avenue (this site) to be free. Embrace the pain!

  32. I love this post! I firmly believe that people can achieve a lot of money in addition to working a “normal” 9-5 job. I think too many folks have the mindset that working 40 hours a week is a lot and that anything more is unreasonable. Ha! Even I used to think that way when I was young but thank goodness I realized how ridiculous that closed mindset is. Sure it’s harder to work a lot of hours if you have young kids at home (which I don’t) but there are still parents who find ways to get in extra work. It may take sacrificing sleep – some of the most successful people and top execs sleep 6 hours or less – but it can be done. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

    I work seven days a week and love it. And I still feel I live a well-balanced lifestyle. I’m involved with fun activities, take breaks, eat well and I fortunately have very little stress (it took time to get rid of stress, but I did it).

    I started by diversifying my skillsets outside of my day job and making money in various ways. I teach music, freelance various projects and work part-time for a former employer now. Now I’m working on trying to branch out into pet-sitting, which I’ve done here and there in the past but want to try and do more regularly. There are so many different ways to make extra income outside of a 9-5 job!

    1. The greatest thing about hard work is that it’s over. You get to reap all the benefits! Great job on getting a part-time gig at your old shop for more money!

      It’s funny you mention working 7 days a week. I do the same, and it is so much more relaxing. I wrote and published this post on a weekend, for example. And now on Monday, I’m just relaxing.

      Great job on your latest income report!

    2. Personally, I really enjoyed that other post. My parents worked their butts off, saved, and did not have an education (both fled due to the states due to political situations). They aren’t rolling in cash but they have done ok. Work ethic and not being jealous is so critical – unfortunately, as you mentioned, I frequently see entitlement get in the way.

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