Make More Money, Save More Cash, Grow Your Net Worth Now!

Big Goals by Sergiy Matusevych

I hope everybody is locked and loaded to get… loaded again! It doesn't matter what new year it is. Every year we should have a goal to make more money, save more cash, and growth our net worth. Only after you've achieve financial independence can you take things down.

Let me first discuss five basic and important financial goals everybody should achieve every year.

The Most Important Financial Goals

1) Max out your 401k.

No more excuses. If you make at least $45,000 individually, you should be able to max out your 401k. The dollars come out pre-tax so it's not as painful as you think. Here's what you could have in 10, 20, 30 years if you max out your 401k like a person who cares about their retirement future.

2) Start investing pre-tax and after-tax dollars already.

The rich have widened the gap because they are massively invested in assets that have been appreciating. Even during a global pandemic, the S&P 500 went up 16% and the NASDAQ went up 42% in 2020!

Once you've accumulated a nice financial nut, the importance of working for a living decreases. The only way the rest of us can catch up is if we see another massive financial crisis. In 2009, we all gained on Warren Buffet by about $9 billion bucks because that's how much he was down!

Related: Should I Invest In My 401k Or Invest Post Tax?

3) Pay off all consumer debt.

You know what's even worse than not investing in a bull market? Being heavily indebted in a bull market. Not only do you miss out on increasing your net worth through asset appreciation, you're helping credit card companies and other creditors get rich due to your debt.

Consumer debt (credit card debt) and any debt which prevents you from investing in an improving economy is a double slap in your face. Not even Warren Buffet can beat the average credit card interest rate over his illustrious career.

Please read FS-DAIR, my guide to helping you decide how much debt to pay down and how much to invest.

4) Refinance your mortgage and other debt.

If you can't pay off all your debt, then refinance your debt. Interest rates are at or near all-time lows. This means everything from mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loan debt, and auto loan debt can be refinanced.

I recently got a 7/1 ARM jumbo mortgage for only 2.125% with no fees. Please refinance your debt and take advantage of record-low rates. Check out Credible to get free, no-obligation quotes to refinance any type of debt.

Refinance mortgage debt

5) Track your finances like you care about your life.

I guarantee you that if you are not tracking your finances, or haven't done at least a month long deep dive audit, you are screwing yourself because you're spending way more than you think, and saving much less than you've planned. Your five year older self will thank you one day.

Once you're able to wrap your arms around all our finances, you can then focus your attention on doing more interesting things with much less worry. It's like writing out a to-do list instead of always being stressed wondering what you're forgetting by keeping everything in your head.

I've personally used Personal Capital since 2012 to track my net worth for free. So far, so great as the bull market continues. Leveraging free technology to manage your money is a no brainer.

6) Invest in yourself.

Your biggest money maker is YOU. I've never met a rich person who doesn't have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. You don't have to leave your job, lose your main source of income for two years, and get your MBA like I did. You can go to school part-time while working.

There's nothing wrong with attending some extension classes in your city at nights. How about subscribing to YouTube lessons that teach everything and anything? Subscribe to blogs that are written by people who know what they are talking about.

The people who are getting promoted and paid have desirable skills. You can only fake it for so long. Eventually you will be found out. Develop a set of marketable skills that can be highly monetized!

Personal Goals

1) Take 100 hours worth of intense Mandarin classes.

There was a time I used to be fluent in Mandarin. I could read 3,000+ characters, write, and speak business Mandarin. After living in the US for 23 years, I've become soft and it's damn frustrating. It will take me 25 days at four hours a day to achieve my goal. I will achieve this goal by taking a two week study abroad class in Beijing or Taipei, listening to hours of online and podcast lessons, and watching at least one full season of a Mandarin drama. Maybe I'll even do a 15 minute podcast on FS in Mandarin.

Why is mastering Mandarin a financial goal? Because when you're able to fluently speak another language, your business world opens up massively with a new demand curve. There are over one billion Mandarin speakers in the world. It's much easier developing relationships with others who take an interest in their language and culture.

2) Grow net worth by $1 million.

I'm focused on increasing income, but I'm more focused on growing net worth. Every $1 million in net worth growth is roughly $30,000 in relatively risk-free interest income. Although I mentioned the first $1 million might be the easiest in a previous post, once you get to a very significant figure like $10 million, it only takes a 10% increase to build another million.

How the hell do I plan to achieve this goal? Mainly through things I think I can control e.g. my business. For example, if I can grow recurring revenue by $333,000 in 2015, I'll achieve the $1 million goal if current valuations call for a 3X revenue multiple on online media companies.

It will be nice if my investments and real estate grow by 10%, but I'm not holding my breath as the effort (asset allocation, investment selection, purchases) have already been made and there's not much more I can do. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about my goal to become a millionaire again.

3) Make more passive income.

I plan to invest $250,000 into venture debt and $250,000 into real estate crowdfunding. By investing $500,000, I hope to generate at least $20,000 more in passive income to achieve my $300,000 goal.

Financial Samurai 2021 Passive Income Streams

4) Build up a steady $100,000 liquid cash pile. 

I thought having just $25,000 in liquidity would feel OK, but with the addition of another mortgage and venture debt investment, my desire for more cash on hand has gone up. During the three month break when I was no longer spending any money on remodeling, it felt absolutely wonderful rebuilding my cash stash.

I often forget that I DON'T have a steady job any more as a business owner and consultant. I've gotten comfortable with my financial achievements, and that is a dangerous mindset to be in.

Who knows if several business verticals go bust. I've got property taxes and freelance income taxes to pay, not to mention expensive health care premiums for the first time ever.

5) Pay down my vacation property mortgage.

I've got $150,000 in vacation property mortgage to pay at 4.25%. The rate is relatively high, but the debt is not high enough to refinance due to the costs.

This vacation property mortgage has got to go!

More Goals To Have

1) Win at least one official 5.0 USTA match (tournament or league). Chances are slim that I'll be able to win a 5.0 match given the 5.0 level is filled with ex-Division I college players who are still in their 20s and early 30s, but I'm sure as hell going to try. Age is almost always the enemy of an athlete. In order to achieve this goal I will practice for at least 1.5 hours at least twice a week. I'll also do at least one session of stretching/yoga a week to improve my flexibility. I'm also going to upgrade my diet by reducing dairy intake by at least 50% in order to lean down to 157-160 lbs from my current 165-166 lbs. Getting fit is a pretty useless thing to do if there isn't an objective. I have no desire to go through this year with a 0-X record. To put things in perspective, winning a 5.0 match for me would be like hitting a single off SF Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. I could never hit another ball or win another 5.0 match again and I would die happy!

2) Feel hungry after at least one meal every day. Portion sizes are massive in America compared to everywhere else in the world. To save money and help stay in shape, I plan to eat up to 75% full every lunch or dinner every single weekday and save the rest for leftovers. If I eat up to 75% full for lunch, I'm not going to make up for the hunger during dinner by eating 125%. I'll keep dinner at 90%-100% instead. The other reason to feel hungry after at least one meal every day is to be more appreciative of what I have. It's too easy taking life for granted in the United States. When I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a middle school student, many of my Muslim friends would practice Ramadan. They'd fast from dawn until sunset, refraining from consuming food and drinking liquids. Their commitment to being mindful and more spiritual for 29-30 days until the crescent moon appeared always inspired me.

3) Do one live interview or presentation. I don't think I'll have a problem talking in front of a live audience as I've done it before. I just haven't done so in a long while. Maybe I can be a guest lecturer at a school, or maybe I'll give a presentation at a conference or speak to someone on TV. One of my main goals for starting a podcast is to practice my speaking skills. The other goal is to just connect with readers in a different way.

4) Live more vicariously. The one thing that bummed me out in 2014 was that I didn't do anything risky or go on any adventures. I guess after one leaves a job of 13 years and goes traveling around the world for 10 weeks a year, it's hard to one-up such an adventure. A large part of me felt like I was getting sucked back into quicksand, working for money instead of working for the love of learning and networking. As soon as I stop learning new things or taking on new challenges, I have this immense desire to move on, partly because I can. This is one of the reasons why I'm proud of myself for sticking things out in my consulting job for one full year. The adventures I seek almost always have to do with exploring new countries and meeting new people. I will be traveling for at least six weeks once again in 2015.

5) Generate recurring charitable income through a new low-cost book. Two years ago, I wrote a book that helps people learn how to negotiate a severance package in order to provide a long enough financial runway to do something more meaningful with their lives. The book has led to personal finance consulting clients, more FS brand awareness, and the ability to speak with media outlets as an authority on career exit strategies. I've developed an intimate understanding of how to self-publish a piece of work on my own platform. Now I plan to put together a new book that will leverage the Amazon platform and my own platform with a price point under $10. The book's target audience is anybody who wants to achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later. I hope that many existing readers will buy the book and gift it to friends and relatives. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charity that focuses on helping our youth. It takes an elephant-sized effort to put a book together, but I plan to get it done by the first half of the year.

6) Increase output on Financial Samurai by 28.5%. I've been averaging about 3.5 posts a week for the past 5.5 years. I've seen a lot of bloggers decrease their output because their readership has grown. No longer do they need to write as much to reach a certain target figure. Instead of fading, I want to raise output to 4-5 posts a week (4.5) from now on by introducing new writers and new styles of writing. I love reading guest posts from the community and being an interactive commenter on my own platform. Building a large site is about long-term consistency. My most popular posts average 2.3 years in age. Like planting a sapling today, it might one day grow into a great big fruit-bearing tree. I plan to get to 4.5 posts a week on average through hard work, guest posts from readers, and a new staff writer.

7) Stop working for money. Through my year-long consulting experience, I've discovered that I really dislike working for money if I've stopped learning anything new. Learning something new and feeling the excitement of progress is what it's all about. It is unrealistic to always feel excitement at work, but I say that one has to feel it at least 70% of the time or else they need to find a new occupation or gig. When I worked in Equities, I had to cover even different Asian markets with seven different political regimes, economies, languages, and all the various publicly listed companies, of course. There was alway something new going on every day and that was exciting. But even with so much going on, thing start getting boring after a while. I'll always commit to anything for at least a year, but if things start getting dull, I will move on and not worry about the money I'm giving up because money is not the primary objective.

8) Visit my parents four times, and my sister and nephew two times. A couple years ago, I almost sold my house to move back to Oahu and be closer with my parents. I didn't pull the trigger because it felt too early to leave booming San Francisco. Hence, the solution is to just travel to see my parents more often. There were years where I'd only see them once a year. With my added freedom, I expect to see them at least four times a year for a week at a time. I've got my house ready to go for my parents and for my sister and nephew to come visit for as long as they want.

Think Big, It Helps!

The first step to building great wealth over the long term is to keep track of your finances in one place. By knowing where all your money is going, you're better able to optimize your wealth by reducing expenses and making better investments. Once you've got a handle on your money, have stretch goals. Even if you fail, you'll end up going much farther than if you had no goals, or rather common goals.

Finally, make sure you've got a solid fall back strategy. We're now in a rising interest rate environment in 2016 and beyond. It's going to be tougher to make money and get ahead as a result of this self-imposed headwind to keep inflation in check. Focus on increasing your savings rate, adjusting your risk tolerance, and finding new side hustles to keep the income stream flowing!

Recommendation To Build Wealth

Manage Your Money In One Place: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner Tool

Updated for 2021 and beyond.

90 thoughts on “Make More Money, Save More Cash, Grow Your Net Worth Now!”

  1. Pingback: Some Things Money Can't Buy - How About A USTA 5.0 Tennis Rating And Win | Financial Samurai

  2. I have a question that I’d like your thought on..
    Hypothetically speaking….
    I live in CA and say I sold some land to someone… and I carry the note back on the property.. so now he pays me an annual interest payment of $50k at beginning of each year.. (interest only)

    if i had a son living in Florida where there is no state tax and he is in a much lower income tax bracket than I am…

    is it prohibitive from IRS standpoint to have the annual interest payment check made out to my son living in Fl who would then pay the lower taxes on his fed income tax and pay zero on state tax?

    Is there any liability for taxes on my part?

    what are your thoughts on this hypothetical scenario?

    1. My thoughts are that CA has a history of going after income, wherever one is.

      But, if your hypothetical son is living in Florida, I would presume he has a right to declare himself a FL citizen and pay taxes based on that state.

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  6. Cynthia Cabaniss

    I am a new reader to Financial Samurai and am very impressed with the no-nonsense and practical advice that you give to your readers.

    It is one of my goals for 2015 and beyond to get my financial house in order and to live the life of my dreams. My finances seem very minuscule compared to your and your readers but I plan on changing that with hard work, lots of research and advice from people like yourself.

    My goals for 2015:
    To reduce my debt – I have more liabilities than assists. I have a car loan, mortgage, personal loan, and student loan debt.
    However, I am a single parent of 2 two teen boys and have an annual income of $50,000 as a teacher. After my bills are paid my discretionary income goes towards groceries and gas and never seem to have enough left over to pay towards debt.
    Increase my income – I am considering leaving teaching and perhaps obtaining a job with the Federal government that has a higher salary and the added benefit of paying off my student loans. Also, I am very interested in becoming an entrepreneur but not sure what exactly what business to start. Health and beauty are big interests of mine.

    I have more goals but any ideas you can give me on how to reduce debt and career fields that you consider lucrative would be most appreciated.

    Thanks for all your advice!

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  8. My goals
    Just turned 27

    Increase my earnings ,and therefore reach 25+ employees
    Work less, take more vacations..
    Save 15k monthly
    Buy first rental property or commercial property.

    Wife and I trying to have kids already, it’s time.

  9. QLTYMgmtMaven

    Wow! I just stumbled on your website (looking for resume samples of all things – lol). You have truly inspired me to make 2015 the turning point for turning my resolutions, dreams, hopes, plans into reality. Less talk, lists, etc. more action!!! I am far from being financially savvy (in fact most of the financial stuff is foreign to me). What does resonate in your post, however, is the financial straight-forward and the plain-talk way you deliver content. I am truly inspired to “Just Do It”:
    – maintain meaningful relationships,
    – start building up my savings (note to self: buy less shoes),
    – visit Iceland this year (make it happen),
    – acquire warehouse space for conversion,
    – incorporate more “creativity” into my existence,
    – drop the 20lbs I’ve gained in the past 2 years and get back on track health-wise,
    – find out more about IRAs, 401ks and all manner of scary financial stuff :)
    Cheers for sharing Sam – all the best in 2015

  10. I love your blog and have read it for quite a while. In fact you and a couple of other blogs provided the motivation to start my own blog at

    I think posting 3.5 posts per week is quite good really, but I guess that’s because I unfortunately still have to work a full time day job! While I’ve recently made partner and am now making more money, I’m now looking at the next goal of getting out of the race within 8 years. With my current workloads I’m not sure I would have time to write more than 3.5 posts per week!

    If you got to 4.5 meaningful posts per week that would be great, and having guest posts would certainly be a more efficient way of doing it on a consistent basis. I would love to provide a guest post but might need to get some more experience in the blogging world first!

  11. Mysterious Guy

    Happy New Year!

    It’s amazing how much you’ve progressed since you originally left your job, and I’ve kept watching you move further.

    My goals are a bit more subdued from yours, but here they are:

    1) Purchase a house, and convert current one to rental. We have enough for that 20% down payment, but prices are really too high in CA. Looking for a house that has what we need and not break the bank.

    2) Max out 401K. Took a break from contributing to max last year to meet down payment.

    3) Lose some weight. Almost made it last year, but last 2 months were really bad. Start afresh this year.

    Here’s to 2015!

  12. Good read on goal setting. I plan on maxing out my 401 and ira the next 2-3 months this year and also using Personal Capital to track all my investments. This is the first year I finally plan take more control of my loose spending habits and try to track every expense to a tee.

    I have a good amount sitting in cash doing nothing and was planning to put it into Vanguard this week to get off on the right 2015 foot. The market is down almost 300 points today however and causing me to be leary. Do you think with heavy volatility and market hits like today it might be better off leaving over 120k in cash?

  13. My dad saves around 250k in cash per year (since 2005). He has 1 million in stocks/real estate but a 2-3 million dollar cash reserve and not much inclination to invest. How could I get him to want to invest more and get out of the habit of just saving cash?

    1. I would save having $3-$4 million in cash, stocks, and real estate is a really hefty amount where you want to protect at all cost. I think your dad is comfortable with his allocation and that’s what’s most important. Imagine getting him into $2 million in stocks, and the market corrects by 20%. The relationship with your dad might get strained!

      I would just focus on your own investments. How are they doing and how is your net worth allocated?

        1. Ah, no wonder why you are focusing on him so much. I assume he will pay for all your medical tuition and living?

          Then you can pay him back once you start making your big bucks.

  14. Now I know how this works.. i have a question and would like to see if you or your readers have any opinions. My wife and I are downsizing and perhaps moving out of CA.. Kids are thru college (mostly), so it’s time I’m thinking about retiring.. we are selling our home and it should close in Feb.. we will continue to live here for a year (negotiated with the buyer rent free) while we figure out where we want to move. We are getting $400k down payment (i’m carrying back the rest of the loan).. I will need that $400k in a year or so for a new place to live outside of CA most likely.. My question is where can I put this $400k so that it’s working for me while preserving it.. CD’s aren’t paying anything.. was considering splitting it between SWCAX and SWNTX for the year..

    any thoughts or opinions?

    thanks in advance.

    1. If you absolutely need that 400K, then I wouldn’t go beyond a 1 year CD or an online savings account like Capital One 360. The goal is to NOT make money from your 400K, but make sure it’s there when you need it.

  15. Hi Sam,

    I came across your blog less than a week ago and I can’t stop reading. I’ve been looking for a resource that is as digestible, yet thought-provoking as your blog, and I’m really excited to be learning so much already!

    I’m a real novice in the field of finance (personal or corporate) but I have a real interest in being financially independent. I went to school for Computer Science but didn’t get much further past my Associates’ before landing a job in Real Estate/Sales, where I found true passion.

    My earnings have increased steadily for the last 3 years and I officially crossed the 6-figure earnings mark this year. It’s nowhere close to where I would like to be or where I see a lot of your readers, but it’s a long way from where I started. Funny thing is, I always believed the day I hit $100k would be the day I would officially become financially secure. Unfortunately that is nowhere close to being true. In fact, the more I earn from working the more I realize how how financially insecure I am.

    For starters, I’m on track to earn +$150k this year but I have less than $10k in savings (after purchasing my first home in July, which tapped out my savings), and no investments. So here is my plan for 2015:

    #1. Invest in myself – it’s time I got back on track to earning my bachelor’s degree (even though I’m half way there in a field I have zero interest in) – so it’s going to be night school for me moving forward. I also plan to get my Real Estate Broker’s license in the 1st quarter of the year which sets me up to own my own firm in the next 2 years. Lastly, I’m going to pad my pursuit of a bachelor’s with as many Finance and investment Courses as I can take and get credit for.

    #2. Save $25k by the end of the year – therefore I’m taking a deep dive into my spending and I’ve already set up my Personal Capital account in order to keep track of all my status. Knowing is half the battle.

    #3. Buy my first rental property – Nothing fancy, just something that has the ability to produce can produce income. I’ve been wanting to do this for years but have never actively pursued it. I’d like to get this done before the end of the 3rd quarter this year.

    #4. Become 10% less dependent on my job – i.e. establish a revenue stream of at least 10% of what my job pays through an investment. So my goal for the rental property is to generate at least $15k annually.

    You hear stories of immigrants that come to America with nothing in their pockets and make it big over here…I want to be one of those guys – I came to America exactly 10 years ago with $93 to my name. I’ve come a long way, but my goal is to establish a 7-figure net worth in the next 5 years, and I believe some of the tools you have to offer will help me realize that goal.


    1. Love the goals! I definitely think it’s a great idea to get your bachelor’s degree and “get it out of the way” so to speak. You don’t want to be left wondering years from now whether it held you back or not in case of a set back.

      Taxes are a killer that many people who complain about higher income earners don’t realize.

      Good luck in your journey!

  16. Ms. Canadian

    Been reading your blog for a year now and love it. Have never commented before. Awesome goals. I love goal setting as I feel it’s the only way to measure success after the year – except I align mine with my birthday in November – as goals that begin in the New Year seem to fizzle for most people.

    I have many goals for 2015 but will share my top 2. Pay off my mortgage on my ridiculously overpriced house and convince my husband to retire the following year (2016). I’ve been working on the latter goal for about 5 years and I am starting to feel progress. Wish me luck.

    Thanks for the articles!

    1. Good luck! That’s funny you are trying to convince your husband to retire. I think a lot of guys feel pressure to keep on working to support the family. When did you retire?

      1. Ms. Canadian

        Hi! I haven’t retired yet. I just turned 33 and have plan to reverse retire from 35-50 to spend time with our children age 1 & 3. The issue is if my husband doesn’t retire the plan turns out to be I become the stay a home mom and that’s not what I had in mind. We will see. Our close friend had a recent health scare and I think that is helping put the real priorities of life front and center. I say to him, if we can retire/be financially independent, why work? I think he feels the need to work because everyone else is doing it.

  17. Some great goals and specific actions to go along with them – awesome to see you sharing these with your community here.

    I usually struggle with goal setting, as I always want to do a million things and end up losing focus. I’ve finally come around this year to narrowing my focus, and it’s all about INCOME in 2015!

    Of course, I always think there’s some fundamental habits that need to be continuously developed behind all other goals – health, fitness, developing resilience, being grateful and just having fun and enjoying life!

  18. Love this blog, I think you do an awesome job dishing out interesting articles every week. Guests post are interesting from time to time but the thought of a staff writer gets me nervous. I know this is an income producing business which ideally you’d like to maximize, so if a staff writer is where you feel you need to go to do that , I totally understand. I just hope the quality suffer.

    Happy New Year!

      1. Sure, will do my best. As they say, you get what you pay for ;)

        I would love to read more reader stories, so if you would like to share some personal finance journies or lessons, I’d love to have it!

  19. As I get closer to retirement, I am looking forward to be back in charge of my life. Financial freedom provides choices! I think it is the best part of financial freedom. My “retirement” plan includes volunteering, but no paid work. I like having choices! I think it is the entrepreneur in me.

    1. Larry, I do wonder if by the time you retire, you might wonder why you waited so long, since you’ve already financially independent. I hope you write a nice long post reflecting about your retirement once you do!

  20. James@StartingNegative

    I like your diet goal. Reminds me of something I read from a bodybuilding trainer:

    “Always go to bed slightly hungry; wake up leaner than you went to bed.”

    Needless to say, the dude and his clients end up pretty shredded. Probably too lean for tennis, but the point stands.

    I’m starting to think I should just pay off my student loans as well for a 2015 goal. Feels like the drumbeat of the finance blog crowd recommends it.

    Awesome that your readers might see more content!

  21. Now these are some high-scale goals and I love them. I agree that the blog also needs constant content, I’ve seen pretty big blogs die over the time, so there’s never a ‘safe place’. Keeping fingers crossed and looking forward to all the new content.

  22. Happy New Year Sam!

    Great post! I have read some heart felt posts in the past where you talk about your family and I am a little surprised that you don’t mention them here. Maybe you did a better job than I did taking care of those relationships in 2014. It is a big goal for me to spend some quality time with the family this year as I can get pretty consumed with my career.

    I divide my goals into four quadrants: family, health, financial and personal development.

    Good luck and keep up the good work,


    1. Hi Caonex,

      I mentioned my family in my personal year in review post, and I plan to have the same goals this year as well. I feel really good about the balance so far and plan to keep family discussions at a minimum.

      What are some of your specific goals?

  23. Sam,

    Do drop by when your come out to Thailand. I will give you more tips on how to get your weight down further and keep it there, if you wish.


    1. Sounds good. I think you have though from your previous comment. I think 5-7lbs is doable with my new regime especially now that I have a specific goal of winning a 5.0 match. Played two sets yesterday and felt very sluggish!

  24. Sam,

    I love your work and actionable advice where you use your own life to make your examples. It’s much more relatable than reading financial nonsense that the author of the piece clearly does not practice him/herself.

    This website makes me cringe because I can be doing better than I am when compared to my peers, but at the same time relaxes me because I know I’m doing it right and I will not have to worry about money if I follow the course.

    Here is a bit of my background:

    -29 years old, and it’s my first year living in an Asian country where the cost of living is extremely low
    -I work with an American school, teaching American/diplomatic students. I don’t view work as work. I love my job, the people I work with, and the fact that I work 180 days/year.
    -I’m making 50k, but since I’m international I don’t pay income tax. Work covers the nation I’m living in’s income tax at no cost to my salary. What I make, I take.
    -Work pays my rent.
    -I have no debt, and a credit score of 780.
    -Net worth of 65k.
    -Of that 65k, 33k of that is locked into a fixed income fund that pays a risk free 7.1%/year. I can keep that money there for the next 7 years, before having to roll it over elsewhere.
    -8k is liquid.
    -The last 25k is split between an IRA and a brokerage account, consisting of an S&P Index Fund, and a Dividend Yield Index Fund.

    My thoughts for ’15 include:

    -Building a bit more liquid cash, but I just hate the idea of any money stagnating in a checking or savings account.
    -With the knowledge that a good chunk of retirement cash is locked in at 7% for now, I want to get a little more aggressive in my investments focusing on Growth Funds, or P2P lending.
    -Pushing my yearly savings up from 22k in ’14 closer to 28-30k in ’15.
    -Investing my time in a second master’s degree, which would be required for promotion at this point in my career, OR, holding off on that and building a blog where I establish myself as an authority in a specific area of my field. I don’t think I could work, go to school and establish a blog all at once. But who knows.

    Anything I’m missing? Anything I need to reallocate immediately? I think I’m doing well, but there’s always room for improvement.

    1. This is great you’re going to be an American school teacher in Asia. You know that I grew up for 13 years living overseas in many Asian countries and attending American/International schools yeah? It was the most amazing experience ever and I enjoyed my teachers.

      So good you don’t have to pay federal taxes. Do you have to pay state taxes from where you register?

      Which country are you going to? Maybe I’ve lived there before and can provide you some tips.

      I’d consider figuring out any business partnerships with local business people you meet. A lot of the students who have parents locally are probably doing very well for themselves.

      1. It sounded like you spend some time abroad, but I didn’t realize it was 13 years. As I’m sure you know, international schooling is a totally different vibe. The educators I’ve come across are cut from a different cloth. A bit adventurous, and teach from life experience rather than a textbook.

        The students I teach are interesting. Many have been on the international circuit their whole lives and speak multiple languages. One girl I teach is conversational in five languages and can write in three. Their real-world understanding at such a young age will easily transcend any grades they’ll ever receive in their life, and I’d bet on these types of kids to be successful over any study-hard American educated student. Sam, I’m sure a lot of the way you view life is because of your different schooling experience.

        I do pay state tax, but I’m trying to get my residency shifted to Florida, as my parents live there at the moment. We’ll see how that plays out.

        I’ve lived in Vietnam now the past six months. I’m still very much in the information gathering phase. Looking at successful business started by expats, and you notice that:

        1. They’ve been on the ground at least 2 years, most >5 years.
        2. They have Vietnamese people handle most of the day to day. Few expats are the ‘face’ of their business. Expats will provide the finances and get out of the way. There is too much going on that no expat can ever understand to successfully do something extensive without the help of locals.

        For that, I’m hesitant to invest significant amounts of my capital into a risky on the ground business in a foreign country.

  25. Mr. Captain Cash

    My audacious financial goal for 2015 is to maintain a savings rate of 80% my take home pay which should hopefully increase my net worth by 30-40% this year. It is a far cry from increasing my net worth by a million dollars like yourself but we all have to start somewhere. Good luck on your 2015 goals!I’ll be following along to see how you make out.

    Mr. Captain Cash

    1. Now that is impressive! I’m not sure I ever saved that high of a percentage before. I know I’ve gotten up to 75%, but I dialed it down b/c I started wondering why I was working so hard for my money and never spending it. Then I would get pissed and start going on some vacation or something.

      I haven’t been calculating my savings rate recently, but you’ve inspired me. Assuming an effective tax rate of 30%, I saved 57.5% of my net income in 2014 on average. But it’s funny, b/c I determine how much to pay myself.

      Maybe I’ll follow your lead and try to get it up to 70%!

  26. Gen Y Finance Guy

    I have always loved goals posts. I typically try to start thinking about my goals around thanksgiving time and then start working on them ahead of the new year. Their is something cliche about waiting until the 1st of the year for an “artificial” new beginning. Every new day is a new beginning. But like you I put the same type of post out on my blog.

    I am looking forward to following your progress by increasing your net worth by $1M.

    I always remember the quote from Jim Rohn “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

    That’s why I have always been a huge advocate of goal setting. With that said here are my goals for 2015:

    My 2015 Goals: Themed around Connection, Contribution, Vitality, & Serendipity.

    1) Get back into the best shape of my life at 187lbs with 8% bodyfat (my 2012 personal best). [Vitality]
    -Complete 1 round of P90X
    -Complete 1 round of P90X-2
    -Complete 1 round of P90X-3
    -Complete 1 round of a hybrid combo of Insanity/Asylum V1/Asylum V2

    2) Start my MBA in the Fall of 2015 at my Alma Mater CSUF. [Contribution]
    -Submit my application by 1/15/14
    -Register to take the GMAT before 4/1/14
    -Submit Application packet by 4/1/14
    -Start classes in the Fully Employed MBA program in August-2015

    3) Take 3 weeks worth of vacation with my wife & friends. [Connection]
    -Vegas Trip at the Wynn in January
    -Road Trip to Texas in the Spring
    -Summer trip to New Hampshire with friends at the lake house

    4) Make room for serendipity to do its thing. [Serendipity]

    5) Add an additional investment property to our portfolio towards the middle of the year. [Contribution]

    6) Pay additional principal payments towards our primary mortgage to stay on track for our 7-year pay off plan. That means increasing our payment by an additional $800/month in 2015. [Contribution]

    7) Max out 401K with $18,000 (new limit in 2015). [Contribution]

    8) Add $6,000 in 12-month CD’s to our portfolio through Navy Federal at a 3% interest rate. [Contribution]

    Happy New Year!

    1. Great list of goals!

      187 lbs at a 8% body fat percentage must mean you’re a pretty tall and athletic guy yeah? Those are stats for like a 6′ 2″ NBA basketball player!

      I CSUF, Cal State Fullerton? Any consideration on getting your MBA part-time while continuing to work? Might save you time and money if you can do both.

      1. Gen Y Finance Guy

        I am actually a little over 6 ft. The exact body fat % could be slightly off as I use a withings scale. But I had very visible abs and over all ripped muscle definition.

        Yes I will be working and attending night classes at Cal-State Fullerton in their fully employed MBA program. It’s a 3-year program. My company will actually be paying for it as well.

        It’s part of the succession planning and professional development plan for the CFO role. As my boss has a 3-5 year exit plan based on the next liquidity event we have.

  27. Great list of goals Sam. I feel 2015 will be a stellar year for the people who are focused, dedicated, and determined. I will continue my journey to become financially free through investing, and maintaining a keen eye on increasing streams of passive income. Looking forward to more content from your site.

  28. Hey Sam,

    You are the man…Been telling all of my buds about your website. Especially love the articles on Net Worth and 401k balance by age.

    The wife and I have had a great run the last four years, increasing Net Worth an average of $210k/year, largely due to stock returns, real estate valuations, rental income and solid compensation between the two of us. We finished the year @ $1.5M Net Worth (I am 44 and she is 39).

    Goals for 2015:

    1) Pay down $50k in mortgage debt on primary residence (Paid down total debt of $52k in 2014, of which $30k was remaining balance on rental property)
    2) Fully Fund 401k’s for both of us, as usual, $36k
    3) Save $60k – $75k liquid, to bring balance to approx. $150k, with ultimate goal to have at least 10% of assets as liquid, or $185k as of 12/31/14.

    These goals are a little ambitious, since comparable figures were about $100k total in 2014. But I keep telling the wife, we may not always have this income level to be working from.

    Non-Financial Goal: Hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim…

    Your eating plan is right on track…Portion sizes at restaurants are ridiculous these days. No wonder this country has an obesity problem. I usually order a to-go box when the meals arrives, split in half, and only eat half. If I ever come away from a meal feeling stuffed, or even close, than I know I have failed at that meal.


    1. Hi SMcQ,

      Thanks for helping spread the word! That’s the biggest gift I can have from readers.

      A $210,000 annual increase in NW a year is excellent! Gets kinda addicting saving and investing yeah? Now that you guys have done this for so long, I don’t see you guys quitting your financial habits.

      What are your plans for your $185,000 liquid? That’s a lot of money sloshing around!


      1. Hey Sam, thanks for the response…

        Saving does get addictive…Makes things like luxury cars/houses seem of very little importance. When friends ask why I drive a 2000 CR-V, I just tell them I could buy two BNW’s outright for cash right now, but a car is really just a way to get safely from A to B. It does make me laugh to see all of the Mercedes/BMW’s in the parking lot at work, lots of insecurity rolling around. Your 1/10th rule for buying a car really sank in for me. I thought it was crazy at first, but now realize the genius behind it. Cars are made so much better these days, a 10-year old car will do just fine.

        But I digress…The wife and I will definitely keep up the savings plan. We use a system with Fidelity, called “Full View”, which I belive is similar to “Personal Capital,” to get a complete picture of our net worth. This helps to keep the wife and me motivated to reach our savings goals.

        For the $185k in liquid, I will start dollar cost averaging back into mutual funds when we get our online savings account back to $100k – $110k. We recently moved, drawing down the savings by $100k for down payment/home improvements, etc. At our income level, jobs are not easily replaced so I want to make sure we have plenty of emergency funds to get us through any period of unemployment. Otherwise, we will just continue with the debt reduction plan. Plan to have the primary residence paid off by the time I am 50 years old.


  29. Congrats on a great 2014 and Happy New Year! Looking forward to hearing about your 2015 over the coming year. If I recall correctly, your equity from your previous employer has completely vested now? If so, would you be able to do a post about your final years as a director and also be able to name the company that you spent the bulk of your financial career? I also started out my career at GS, but we were already in the new 200W building.

    2014 was a great year for me as I moved from Manhattan back home to Boston, bought a condo in the city, went to numerous weddings for family and my closest friends, and also got engaged! I also agree that you should come make an east coast trip in 2015. Maybe a DC, NYC, and Boston trip in September for the US Open??

    Few of my goals for the year both financial and non:
    1) Pass Level 2 of the CFA. Hoping this will help me get into a portfolio associate job working directly under the PMs.
    2) Continue building my taxable investment portfolio. With our 2014 bonuses being paid out shortly, I’ll have enough cash for all our wedding expenses and other large purchases for the year. Since my fiancee will be helping out with the mortgage payments, I should be able to focus on building my taxable portfolio (401k is maxed already).
    3) Sign up for a tennis league in Boston. I’ve played tennis all my life, but found it very difficult to play consistently in Manhattan so I’m really looking forward to playing in a league. Trying to get back to my previous level (currently a 4.0 but have played at a 4.5 level in the past).
    4) Finish planning our Amalfi Coast honeymoon and fly first class round-trip using points from credit card offers. As I’m not as focused on my credit score now that I have a mortgage, I’ve been using numerous credit cards in order to fly first class with my fiancee to Italy for our honeymoon. I need to get the points on one last card, then we’re all set to book the flights!
    5) Create a nice outdoor patio. Once the snow melts in the spring, I’d like to finish off my small outdoor space by getting it leveled and putting in some nice grey patio stone, re-mulching the garden area, and adding some patio furniture.

    All the best in 2015 Sam!

    1. Sounds like a fantastic honeymoon and a fancy wedding you got planned!

      I’ve still got another year of deferred compensation to be paid out plus another tranche that will be broken up over two more year. But after this year, I think 85% will be paid.

      It’s crazy, b/c I often forget there is still deferred comp coming through. It’s like Social Security, doesn’t even register now, so when I do get the money I will invest 100% of it like I did my severance in 2012 or use it to pay down my rental property mortgage.

      What do you do nowadays? Seems like you have a bright career ahead of you in finance.

      1. Thanks Sam. Have been planning for awhile how to fly in luxury for nearly free, so hopefully it’ll all pay off! I work in developing performance and attribution analysis tools for a $50B long/short equity hedge fund, but I’m hoping the CFA will get me into a quantitative portfolio management role in the future. That’s great about the deferred comp coming through over the next two years.

        You got me motivated with your tennis goals, and I just signed up for a league in Boston for the spring. Good luck in the 5.0 league, and keep us updated about a future east coast trip!

  30. Loving your goals. The learning Mandarin one is great, that might be something I should look into in the near future, or a different language all together. It might be good for me to learn Danish one of these days so I can speak to my wife’s family easier.

    We feel that we’ve been doing pretty well financially the last few years so we’ll probably go on auto-pilot for this year. We still need to review our budget to see whether we can allocate more money for investment.

  31. I want to max out my traditional 401(k), Roth IRA, after-tax 401(k), and ESPP and pay down the mortgage by about $25k. This is a bit aggressive, but I think I should be able to increase my net worth by about $130k to $650k in 2015. Pretty sweet considering that I’ll only turn 27 this year!

  32. Good post. Interested to see the book and staff writer.

    It might be a fun adventure to go to Taiwan on a tourist Visa for 4-6 weeks and teach English a few hours a day. Plenty of Americans do this. You could even do it pro bono.

    1. The book is just going to be a “best of book,” but I work on a more financial/blogging/entertainment tyoe book I think.

      If I go to Taiwan in just going to eat and be merry. Good there is incredible!

  33. Hi Sam! I love your blog! Lots of great information and food for thought! In your posts you mention the importance of having significant capital for investing. I was wondering what methods do you recommend to increase capital for people with low amount of capital?

    A little background about me:
    26 Years old
    Net worth: 80K
    Liquid Assets: 35K
    No property
    Work full-time in tech industry
    Just started travel blog as side project

    1. Howdy Mate,

      All big thing generally start small. Given you are 26, you should theoretically have much more energy than people 10-20-30 years older. Hence, ask yourself how many hours you are working to generate capital? I think part of the reason why I was able to earn and save more is simply b/c I just worked more. I wasn’t smarter, I just put in an extra 3-4 hours EVERY DAY for 10 years on side hustles, and being a better employee to make more.

      How many hours you slogging away? I would not listen to the YOLO crowd who tries to make fun of folks who devote a lot of time towards financial independence. If you stick with it, YOU will have incredible freedom and the last laugh.

      Starting your travel blog is a great side project! You will learn so much from the doing, that even if it doesn’t work, it will give you valuable skills for the future.


      1. Great point! Currently I do 40-50hrs/week for my main job, I should be able to do more for my side project and/or maybe get a 2nd job for weeknights and weekends!

        Thanks for the advice!

  34. Great Post! I came to this site a few month ago and have read 10+ articles. It is very nice of you to share your experience and your expertise with others. You are my inspiration! My 2015 goals are the following:
    #1. Cut down on expenses
    #2. Max out my 401k
    #3. Increase reserve fund account from 40k to 75k.
    #4. Going to put 10k in P2P lending to test thing out
    #5. Read more of your posts and develop more action plans

  35. You have some pretty hefty goals for the year! I like setting some high to push yourself. Good luck on the tennis match. My athletic goal is to always make sure I can still dunk a basketball before our city league games each week. It makes me feel good that a very small percentage of the population can do that.

    My biggest goal for 2015 is to increase my savings rate from 40% to 50%. I also have to pay off some debt for a solar install (though it acts like a dividend stock that pays my power bill each month).

    1. Dang, at 5’10”, the most I was able to dunk was a volleyball. I haven’t tried in a while b/c I’m afraid me knees will go out. Tomahak jam!

      50% is a great saving rate. That is the savings rate where the seas part, and the hope for early retirement/FIRE/findependence really become real!

  36. Really solid list of goals! I like your 5.0, ebook, PF, and dietary goals. Just yesterday when I was eating lunch I decided to stop before finishing bc I was starting to feel full. I was super tempted to keep eating to finish my bowl but figured I’d enjoy the food more later. And I was right. A couple hours later the leftovers were just the right snack and I didn’t feel overly stuffed.

    Best of luck with all your goals! It’s exciting that it’s 2015. This is going to be a big year of change for me in my career and I’m pumped.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Nice job on moderating your food intake! It does feel good to have the slight hunger and then eat the left overs yeah? I see great things for you in your career. Time to take some risks! Whooo hooo!

      1. Eating less definitely helps with less food comas and just feeling more energetic and active after a meal. I end up eating snacks in between meals, but that still feels better than eating huge meals with no snacks.

        Yes, 2015 is a year of risk taking for me. It’s a little bit scary, but a lot exciting. I need to keep a fire under my a– though so I don’t get too comfortable. I gotta hustle!

  37. I did a similar post for our 2015 goals. My financial ones are similar in nature but not on your dollar level.

    On a personal level we’re trying to get in better shape, expand our garden, travel more, and get to know our neighbors. I’m also trying to read at least 52 books this year.

    Happy New Year!

    1. All good Adam. Finances are personal and all relative. Whatever progress and goals you have are what’s most important.

      52 books a year is alot! But I guess, I might do that if you count all the online reading I do.

      Good luck!

  38. Wall Street Playboys

    Great post Sam! Looking forward to the new post ideas and seeing how the tennis adventures go.

    Blogging certainly is weird since people take about 2-3 years to realize how valuable the information is. Then… suddenly the traffic starts to flow in.

    Good luck sir make it rain!

    1. I’m excited, but nervous too about tennis 5.0 land. If I can get a 5.5 partner, perhaps I’ll have a good chance. But the first year is always rough as we are the bottom of the 5.0 level, and teams are trying to draft the best in the area to go to Sectionals and Nationals. It’s like Fantasy Football and I’m like the DIII, undersized wide receiver trying to get starting time!

      Absolutely on blogging. Keep it up for 2-3 years and good things will happen!

  39. Happy New Year FS! I have 5 goals for 2015:

    1.) Spend less. We moved last year so expenses went up dramatically as a result. We also plan to reduce our need for child-care to part-time when our son goes to full-time pre-school (this will be a $1250/month pay raise by itself!).

    2.) Build our cash reserves for our rainy-day fund from the savings in # 1, bonuses and cashing in stock options. This will take longer than a year but ideally I want 1 years worth of expenses (15k x 12 months = $180k). We currently only have about 4 months.

    3.) Remain debt-free. I paid off my MBA last year after I cashed in a bunch of stock options. Nothing feels better financially then being debt-free.

    4.) Continue building out my passive income streams that Sam has outlined in several posts. I also want to continue thinking about starting a part-time career to develop a 2nd income stream. This is ongoing but I have some ideas. I might explore hiring someone to help with this.

    5.) Look for more opportunities to invest in the market. Still have some cash in my brokerage account that I need to put to work.

    Good luck!

    1. I feel you on paying off student debt! I had MBA loans at around 2.875% which I started getting sick of after the second year so I just paid the darn thing off. Feels good to simplify on the financial accounts side (post coming up).

      Sounds like you’ve got a great job with some pretty good income. What field are you in?

      Passive income generation takes forever, but the best time to start is today.

  40. Hi Sam, Great post and it made me think about a lot! I love goal posts and I just did one on my site as well.

    I never thought about net worth on my bog, but I made over $40,000 on in in 2014 and my goal is 20k a month in 2015.

    I need to make a sports goal. I used to play varisty tennis, but got burned out. I play golf now and shot par once this last year after making that goal. I want to shoot under par this year.

    I also have some big financial goals.

    1. make one million income
    2. buy 7 rentals
    3. flip 10 houses and wholesale 10
    4. have my real estate team sell 200 houses

    Here’s to a great 2015!

  41. Trader Joes

    Love your website. I came across it recently and have already churn through 20+ articles.

    I do OK financially. I have a $250K job that I neither love nor hate. However, at 43 y/o I often wonder if I should go out and try to start some business venture. Fortunately I can probably work 4 days a week and get a 20% paycut. However, if I work full time, in 5-7 years I can be a partner making $500K a year. That’s a nice chunck of change to cruise on until I am 60 y/o.

    This is not a new year goal, but this maybe a make it or break it year. In another year or 2 I may have to much inertia to try something new.

    What do you think Sam? To forgoe a fairly certain $500K salary years down the road vs trying a new venture. Right now I don’t have any business idea that can generate a $250k income to closed that gap.

    1. Howdy TJ,

      Do you work in Big Law? I guess it depends on your expenses. A $500,000 income will make you feel richer than a $250k income, but at $500k, you will start wondering whether it is all worth it due to:

      * Taxes. You will be shocked how much in taxes you’ll have to pay.
      * Stress. I’m assuming more work and responsibility is involved.
      * Your older age. Life gets more pressure each year since we have less each year. If you’re thinking about aide businesses and cruises now, you’re focused on quality of life.

      If it’s a sure thing within 7 years, you might as well go for it for self accomplishment and see what it’s like. I truly believe they ideal income for max happiness is where you are right now though. But it is hard to realize if you haven’t made more.



      1. Thanks for the reply.

        I actually do not have any entreprenural experience so it maybe too risky to jump ship from a potentially lucrative career. I do feel my calling in life is to do something creative.

        I will make one of my goal in 2015 to come up with ideas and see them to completion. If through that process I become inspired to start a venture, I will follow my heart knowing that I still have $200k of income to fall back on.

        On the flip side, grinding out for 7 years to reach the pinnicle of my profession is also something to be proud of.

        Other goals

        – Get a real estate licence. I have 3 properties already. I can potentially save thousands of dollar in commision.

        – Better organize my finance. Looking for a better place to park my cash.

        – Buy another property if the market does not look too over heated.

        None financial goals

        – Find a like minded partner
        – Enjoy life. It’s some what financially related, I actually would like to indulge and treat myself better, but in a more directed matter knowing where my money goes.

  42. We’re in autopilot mode with our finances at this point. We have a solid plan, it’s clearly working, and we aren’t going to mess with it too much :-).

    But our big goal for 2015 is to be more of a tourist in our regional area. We’ve done a pretty good job of exploring the Boston metro over the last 7 years. And we’ve also done a ton of international travel. But somehow we’ve missed out on a ton of neat places within half a days drive of where we live.

    So this year we’re going to devote one weekend a month to visiting somewhere regionally that we’ve never been. The list varies wildly from Providence, RI to Acadia National Park in Maine. Exploring is something we love and we don’t do enough. Time to fix that!

    1. That’s a good goal! So funny how we tend to neglect our immediate area when vacationing or traveling. Just moving out to the western half of San Francisco has allowed me to explore new parks, restaurants, hideways, outlooks, and so forth. I’ve been wanting to explore SF via purchasing property for several years now.

      I haven’t been to Boston in 20 years! Maybe this year I’ll pay y’all a visit.

      1. Definitely shoot us an email if you are in town. We always love getting together with other finance blogging types!

        One of the great things about living in a major city is how often other folks naturally come through town. I assume you get the same thing in SF, but it’s neat to have friends always dropping in for a day or two!

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