How Can We Help Level The Financial Playing Field?

Level Financial Playing FieldThere's no greater feeling than helping people solve financial problems. I've always been someone to find solutions, rather than complain or pontificate why such and such is the way things are. Perhaps it's the MBA side of me that always encourages problem-solving. Or maybe it's the do-or-die ex-banker side of me who always had to close a deal or else I would never get paid or promoted. Taking action is always better than sitting on your ass, and just hoping things will get better.

But I'm torn by money because I've seen the entire spectrum of wealth; from the slums and favelas of India and Brazil to the mega-mansions in Pacific Heights and The Hamptons. Life is not fair. Some of us are born with a great foundation for achieving wealth. A few of us are born already wealthy thanks to the trust funds set up by thoughtful parents. However, the vast majority of us are born middle class or poor.

I've always thought one of the greatest ways to give back if you don't have much money is to share what you know with others; to be a mentor. I've been fortunate to have two supportive parents who enabled me to study hard, think for myself, and take some risks. I often question “why me?” for achieving financial independence earlier than normal when I worked no harder, and am certainly no smarter than many other people.

To deal with my question, I simply write, and write, and write so that perhaps I may be able to help others seeking answers to a financial problem. The internet is truly the best medium for gaining knowledge today.

On October 20, 2012 I wrote a post entitled, “Financial Samurai Career & Personal Finance Coaching.” The post's purpose was to help those who wanted 1-on-1 personal finance help from me beyond the free content that I write. I never published the post because I was embarrassed to charge any money to help people. It felt off to charge for advice given I've never charged anybody a penny since 2009. I've even welcomed people who don't pay a cent to openly berate me about my ideas and opinions.

After a month of sitting on the post, I decided to finally put it up in my menu tab bar on the homepage without any public announcement. People did take notice to the tune of around five clients a month, but I didn't have time, so I raised the price to $600 an hour in order to work with just two to three clients a month and it worked… for a while. However, I took the page on the menu tab off altogether because demand started growing again unbelievably. 


$600 an hour or $1,600 for a three hour Steel Package session is a lot of money. I get it. I don't know very many people who would pay this type of money for consultation. But I purposefully set my prices high because I value my time. I've taken on a lot of work and I just don't have as much spare time as I used to. Furthermore, when people actually go through with a larger price tag, they tend to be much more serious about taking action.

In effect, I've segmented the demand to the 99% of you who find value in my free writing and the 1% of you who want more and are willing to pay for one-on-one advice. Oh my goodness, I just created a segment for the 1%!

What I've discovered is that the only people who've hired me as a personal finance consultant are those who make at least $200,000 a year and who have at least $1 million in net worth. In other words, they are all accredited investors who are well on their way to building an even larger net worth over time.

The top 1% are not evil. They have the same problems, concerns, and worries like everybody else. It doesn't matter how much money you have, you will have the same worries, same relationship conflicts, and same hopes and dreams as if you had less.

One client is a talent agent who went through a very rough divorce several years ago and had to file for bankruptcy. After a couple years of working together, her business revenue surpassed her previous high by 40% to over seven figures. She's gone from having no money to having almost $1 million dollars in her investment portfolio. She made some poor financial moves in the past, and by setting up the savings framework, and by providing oversight, she is well on her way to financial independence.

We didn't just talk about a savings framework. We discussed optimizing her business, establishing investment goals, setting up a proper asset allocation of stocks and bonds, reviewing her investment performance every six months, discussing taxation strategies, and so forth.

My client told me there was no way she would ever have come close to a seven figure investment portfolio if it wasn't for us working together. She needed someone to tell her the hard truths, and every time she desired to veer off course, she didn't because she knew that she would have to answer to me.

I'm super proud of my client, and it feels very gratifying to help someone out.


By consulting with wealthy clients, I feel like I'm helping the wealthy get wealthier. That statement doesn't feel too great compared to trying to help the poor. The more clients I took on, the more uneasy about this situation I began to feel. But hopefully, by writing for free 3-5 times a week, I've been able to help people with their finances.

One guy I consulted with walked away with a whopping $500,000 severance + deferred stock options package. He absolutely hated his job and was waking up every night at 2am in cold sweats, dreading to go to work. Now he's spending more time with his single mother and getting to watch his kids grow up. I'm super pumped for him!

But what more can I do for others to help level the playing field? I keep on thinking about this. I see wealthy people hire tutors for their children to do well on their SATs. I see wealthy people donate tremendous amounts of money to private schools to get their kids in who certainly would not have gotten in on their own. Wealthy people will always have an advantage over others.

I've found a way to help others who can't afford private consulting. Over the past five and a half years, I've published over 1,000 articles on Financial Samurai. I'm collating my top articles into an ebook that I believe if read thoroughly, will give the reader a strong financial found if the advice is followed. The ebook will be priced under $10 so that it should be affordable for everybody to purchase.

Furthermore, all profits after operating costs will be donated to a charity that focuses on financial education. I believe Amazon will take 30% of each sale, and then there are design, editing, packaging, and Library of Congress registering costs to pay. It's taken months to put together, but I think it's a great way to give back.

If you would like to support financial education and get a 150+ page compendium of some of my top articles to read in one place, I'll highlight the book in my private newsletter so you can get first dibs. Then I'll write another post to let the public know sooner after.


Manage Your Money For Free: You don't have to be rich to manage your money. You can take action by signing up for Personal Capital, the #1 free financial tool to help you track your net worth, manage your expenses, analyze your investments for excessive fees, and plan for your retirement. Ever since signing up in 2012, I've been able to grow my net worth by over 100% because I know exactly where my money is going. Once you have a plan, it's much easier to achieve your goals.

The Best Of Financial Samurai eBook: I'm donating all proceeds from my book to a charity to help inner city kids stay off the streets and stay in the class rooms. The book contains 35 of the best articles I've written over the past seven years on Financial Samurai to help you achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later. It's roughly 180 pages long and only costs $9.88. You can buy The Best Of Financial Samurai here and learn more about the product. Why not learn and give at the same time!

Updated for 2020 and beyond.

34 thoughts on “How Can We Help Level The Financial Playing Field?”

  1. Sam, your blog in itself is a noble cause educating people on personal finance and independence. I will probably pick up your eBook sometime and contribute to the noble gesture. Keep going.

  2. Pingback: Kiva Loans: Alleviating Poverty Using Microfinance | Financial Samurai

  3. Hi, I enjoy your blog and admire the success of your endeavors! Going back to the question about financial education-related charities, what about the National Endowment for Financial Education ( or Junior Achievement (

    I write a small blog about financial independence for fun, and my goal is to create enough passive income to pursue self-employment as a Financial Coach/Advisor. I currently volunteer with JA for resume experience while I study financial advising and decide among the different certifications. But I also recently heard about the NEFE, which seems more focused on financial education, for all ages. I too would be interested in hearing about financial education nonprofits that advance the goals of financial health awareness. I look forward to reading about your progress.

  4. Sam,
    I have been following your blog for many months now and as a previous comment pointed it out, the value you bring to the community, with your posts and financial advice delivered for free to thousands and thousands of readers is certainly quite high. You shouldn’t feel guilt, you deserve the money you are making in the process.
    So no particular idea on what charity to give to (which is an awesome idea), but at least wanted to thank you for taking the time to write posts for us every week, this is definitely helping level the financial playing field.

  5. Mysticaltyger

    There are so many problems with poverty. Poor people don’t read as much in the first places, so most aren’t even going to find your blog. The other curse of poverty is this concept of “mental reserve”. Typically poor people have very little mental reserve…they’re always dealing with one crisis or another…Being in crisis mode typically puts you in Catch-22 type decision making…which wears down your mental reserve….which leads to poor decision making….which reinforces poverty. Very frustrating. I don’t know the answer other than you try to reach young people who know they want to get out of the cycle. But most of them will find a way out, anyway.

  6. It’s great to see you’ve found your calling in life. You’ve absorbed the world of finance, you love it, are challenged by it, and found a way to share it. We all have different strengths that we can use to build stronger communities. The trick is to find out what they are–like you’ve done!

  7. I wonder how much value you’ve delivered out there to those of us reading your free articles. If you put a dollar amount on it, it’s probably a considerable sum. Just something to consider in regards to money guilt, as it were. Of course, if you didn’t have that guilt, you might not be putting in the work to help others like you are with this effort.

  8. Instilling the truisms that positive mindset, positive habits and personal responsibility can go a long way — is a huge opportunity.

  9. Your articles always spoke to me – challenged me. You made me feel like I am not doing enough and I need to tread on. Every inch of my brain cells are used to increase my net worth. Thank you for that.

  10. greenknight008

    While it doesn’t necessarily focus specifically on financial education (although you could likely find financial education loans) my method for this is Kiva loans. My objective isn’t exactly the same as yours, I prefer to fund loans for developing countries in the agricultural sector as inexpensive food satisfies a need in many countries, but there are education loans there too. Could be time consuming to manage if you are putting in a large chunk of cash though.

    1. Have you read “Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid”? Good book that talks about creating win-win business situations in developing countries.

      Let me look into Kiva. I’ve heard a lot of great things. Maybe you can write a post about it here to help spread the word?

      1. greenknight008

        Sure, I could write up a post. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail with any requirements you have. Regarding the book, I can’t say I’ve read that one. I’ll mark it onto my reading list.

  11. It’s great you’re trying to help level the playing field. For me, educating people around me and in the online world about finances is a step in the right direction. I believe that if one person makes a better financial decision based on your advice/post, then it’s worth it. Of course the more people you can help the better!

  12. When I started by job, some of my co-workers were do clueless about 401k, they saw me maxed out on my 401k and they said they can’t afford a paycut. I told them they don’t need to, each time they get a raise, that’s will be the percentage they would add to their 401k, they won’t feel it effect of decrease in pay, they’ve been able to manage to live on their current paycheck, so they should be okay without the raise. Some of them listened to me and actually catching up with me because they are older and have longer tenure than me. It’s a cool thing to see.

  13. What a brilliant idea Sam.

    It’s inspiring to see you striving so hard to do good with these powers you’ve developed for yourself through the years of hard work building your blog and saving and investing your money wisely.

    I also love solving problems in general, but hoping to continue to get paid to do it for a little while longer :) I definitely plan to ‘share the wealth’ once I’ve achieved some of my own financial goals, but that’s always a tricky tradeoff I guess. We really should be focused on giving in other creative ways along the way, which is what I’m hoping to achieve with my own blog in some small way – like many other people who comment here I’m sure.

    1. Thanks Jason. Sooner or later, I know my energy and interest will fade. Therefore, I figure why not go all out while the battery is still full.

      If you stick with your site long enough, better things will happen!

  14. I also want to thank you for your time writing these informative articles every week. I have been coming here for a few months now and I have learned so much from you. Keep up with the good works. :)

  15. Gen Y Finance Guy

    I think donating to worthy cause is awesome. But why do you not keep any for yourself? Do you feel guilty if you actually make any money for the incredible value you have added to the web and the thousands of people that come and read you regularly.

    Just curious.

    1. I feel money guilt all the time, which is why I will never quit writing so long as my fingers still work.

      I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to provide a perpetual income stream to charity based on personal effort. Given my severance negotiation book is still going strong after 2.5 years, I figure why not create a lower price point that can help more people with the product and have all proceeds go to some good cause.

      The goal is to create a passive income stream for charity! Let’s see if I can do it.


  16. Thanks for all the time and effort that you put into your 3-5 posts a week. I’ve been an avid reader for about a year and a half now, and I always look forward to seeing your posts. They’ve made a difference in my life and have helped me establish better financial habits in order to put me on a path to financial independence!

  17. I work in health care and I see a lot of what people eat. If there was a way to teach people how to cook good and nutritious meals without relying on over-processed, over-priced food people would have so much more for saving. They would also be healthier and lower their health care costs.

    My local health unit (I am Canadian) offers free informative supermarket tours demonstrating value and nutrition but they have a hard time getting people to sign up.

    A class in a community kitchen demonstrating how to cook healthy low cost foods with some ingredients to take home might help. Offering it only to low income or social assistant clients could really change the life of one family. If there is free food to take home then it might encourage people to sign up.

    A small bag of beans, a small bag or rice, some simple dried seasonings, perhaps a bag of onions and some frozen veg or canned meat would make a week of meals for me and it could for other people if they learned how to cook. I bet a community kitchen would donate space, perhaps a local cooking school could donate instructors and you could provide the ingredients and a reusable shopping bag.

    This is financial education at the most basic level and perhaps not what you were looking for but if you teach a man to fish….

    1. I agree that education regarding food intake is super important. Not much is more important than our health. Once we lose it, it doesn’t matter how rich we are. Life becomes horrible.

  18. What charity are you planning on donating to? Fund a Finance department scholarship at a State University? Thx!

    1. Don’t think my book will raise enough money for such a thing, but that would be nice.

      Maybe support some local libraries. The library really is a goldmine for anybody who wants to take advantage.

  19. Above Average Black

    Nice article. I often times wonder if successful artists/painters feel guilty for selling their original art work above the price that a normal person is willing to pay. Their work then only ends up in the homes of wealthy people. The artist tries to compensate for it by selling prints but the prints aren’t quite the same as the original.

    1. Interesting analogy AAB. It’s funny, because when I go on cruises, all they do is try and sell the customers art. They’ve got great teach-ins about various types of arts and their editions.

      In the artist’s eyes, the prints convey just as much meaning than the original, if done properly. So the artist is happy that his/her work can get out there for more to see.

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