There’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.
VALUABLE TIME AND DEMAND SEGMENTATION
$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.
FINDING A WAY TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
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.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO BUILD WEALTH
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.