Sweet (Or Sweat) Dreams Of Becoming A Millionaire Again

Daydreaming by Brynja Eldon Flickr CC

Many of us have dreams of becoming a millionaire or making a million dollars a year. Well, I'd love to become a millionaire again after so many people showed so much doubt about my path to this financial milestone by 30.

In 2013, my overall income took a big hit. The glow of a six-figure severance paid out in 2012 was no more. Further, I didn't have a job to pay my bills. All I had was my passive income and a relatively small amount of income that was coming from Financial Samurai.

I've always thought I was way too lucky to deserve the income I earned during my career in finance. All I did was study hard, get on a 6am bus to a career fair in Washington DC, and interview well enough to land a job that paid well.

Nobody from The College of William & Mary, a non-target state school, gets a front office job at Goldman Sachs in their world headquarters. I've been very lucky.

No matter how many times you hear of high income earners going bankrupt, if you are making at least $100,000 a year, it's relatively easy to become a millionaire. At least that's what everybody thinks.

Working in finance almost felt like cheating. You not only gain extensive knowledge to make better financial decisions for yourself, you are also paid handsomely.

When I began looking for other employment opportunities outside of finance, I realized just how good the finance industry pays. It's very hard to find jobs in tech/internet that pay over $250,000 a year.

But in investment banking, practically every 29 year old Associate makes such an amount. Many CEOs in other industries doesn't even get paid that much.

Proving It Wasn't All Luck By Becoming A Millionaire Again

Many people didn't give me any credit for eventually becoming a millionaire while working in finance. “Of course Sam was able to retire by 34 since he made a lot of money in finance,” was a common retort.

My situation is much more impressive and real since I've never made a six figure income,” is another frequent feedback. It's always been strange to hear people say their situation is more real than mine, like my experiences don't count.

It's true. I didn't come from a broken family, nor did I have to walk five miles to school each way in hand-me-down shoes, two sizes too big. I grew up middle class and was fortunate to have a solid foundation for growth. I'm glad my parents stuck together during through my high school years.

I'm also glad I went to public school for high school and college. As a father now, it baffles me that I could literally give my son a $1,000,000 check after college if he decided to go public grade school and college.

It's hard for me to shy away from a challenge. One of the reasons why I wanted to leave finance was to see what I could do with my own two hands. I've always had the entrepreneurial bug. There would be no cushy salary and no big brand name to lean on to generate business.

The only thing I could count on was my own creativity and work ethic.

Building A Multi-Million Dollar Business

I've been making money online since 2009. The combined operating income of these websites has surpassed my highest gross income year during my 13 years in finance as an Executive Director. All it took was writing 2,500+ posts and working 12,000+ hours. I have not failed at publishing 3X a week for over 520 weeks in a row.

I know I'm lucky to be able to have the endurance and ability to write consistently for so long. But I do encourage everyone who wants to build an online business or build any entrepreneurial endeavor to join me in being consistent for 10 years in a row.

It's very hard to fail if you don't give up. 

I'm now at a crossroads because I don't feel like I've got anything left to prove after leaving my job and building Financial Samurai.

Taking Things Easier

I'm also a bit weary of continuing at an ever increasing pace since I'm now a dad to a lovely boy who needs me. Sure, there was still plenty of luck growing Financial Samurai into what it is today. But now that a good amount of time has passed, I think luck is playing a lower and lower percentage.

I've slowly been able to vanquish the guilt about making money in finance. Entrepreneurship is way more difficult than having a day job. The amount of effort to produce products, market, write, execute, sell, and maintain operations is brutal compared to just coming in, doing your job, listening to a micromanager, and then going home. 

Add on the extra taxes you have to pay the government as a small business, and it's no surprise that many businesses fail.

A Tempting Exit

In mid-2018, I was approached by a publicly listed company to buy Financial Samurai for over $6 million dollars. I politely said no because you NEVER sell your baby, especially if it's a high margin cash cow.

But the offer was a wonderful validation that I could recreate millions of dollars in wealth through something other than my finance job.

Instead of buying Financial Samurai, XLMedia ended up buying three of my peers instead for $5.8 – $7 million. Not bad!

As I sit here more than four years later, I'm glad to have not sold Financial Samurai back in 2018. Interest rates have since plummeted, making cash cow businesses and assets extremely valuable. It takes a lot more capital to produce the same amount of risk-adjusted income today.

Proper safe withdrawal rate - sweet dreams of becoming a millionaire again

Let's forget about the revenue Financial Samurai has continued to generate since the tempting offer in 2018. Financial Samurai has provided me joy by giving me a creative outlet every day.

During the 2020 pandemic, Financial Samurai was like a trusty friend who was always there for me. Financial Samurai gives me purpose every day, which is a must for those who retire early.

The Plan To Become A Millionaire Again

Now that business is humming along, I'm thinking about lighting it on fire just like how I lit my career on fire after 13 years by giving it up. I started to really tire of the finance industry after 12 years. The year 2021 will be the 12th year of running Financial Samurai.

I have no doubt Google will one day turn its back on Financial Samurai, thereby demolishing all the search engine traffic and the advertising revenue that comes along with it. As a result, I figure why not start on the new millionaire journey now, before doom arrives?

The reason why I continue to encourage everyone to always save money and build passive income streams during good times is because the good times don't last forever. Darkness will come for us all, whether at work, in our health, or through our investments. We must cherish every single moment that we have.

Here are three of my strategies for becoming a millionaire again.

Strategy #1 For Becoming A Millionaire Again – Turn Funny Money Into Real Assets

A business is ephemeral. Because of innovation, competition, or some unforeseen event, few businesses last forever. As a result, it may be wise to aggressively convert online revenue dollars into investments or tangible assets.

I could use 100% of all retained earnings after taxes to buying more property, stocks, bonds, and private investments. By bleeding my company's finances dry, I can create a sense of urgency to not let it fail.

It's a similar concept to always having as little money as possible in your main checking and savings accounts to curb your spending and grow your investments.

By taking the company's income and diversifying it into familiar investments, the investments should grow to over one million dollars over time. Creating a real estate conglomerate is one such idea to make the business last forever.

Building New Assets Update 2022

I've done just this by buying a single family home in San Francisco in early 2019. I paid at last $150,000 below asking because I wrote a convincing real estate love letter, offered cash, and a quick close.

It is a wonderful house with panoramic ocean views on three levels. The property was rented out for $6,550 a month from 2020 to June 2022. Now, it's being rented out for $8,000 a month after I expanding the living area downstairs. Remodeling for more passive income is great! The property is worth about $800,000 more after my remodeling spend.

In 2020, also ended up buying another single family home on the west side of San Francisco with panoramic ocean views after the lockdowns began. I got the home for at least 7% below where it would have sold for before the lockdown started. I don't care too much about whether this home will appreciate because it is doing a fantastic job providing a better quality of life for my family. Having more space during a pandemic rocks!

However, I am bullish on all single family homes with ocean views in San Francisco, I believe they are the most undervalued real estate segment in the city. With more people looking for more interior and exterior space, there's a strong migration to the western part of the city.

Strategy #2 For Becoming A Millionaire Again – Become An Inventor

Being a successful inventor of a physical product that generates enough to live on is such a long shot. But I've always wanted to be an inventor of a product that helps improve lives. With an online platform in place, surely there's some advantage.

The invention I have in mind has the following attributes:

  • Injury prevention
  • Relevant to the entire world's population
  • Low price at under $20
  • Low input costs: 70% gross margins, 30%+ operating margins
  • Can be easily mass produced
  • Easy to use

I've been telling myself that if I can invent a product that has at least five of these attributes, I should be able to hit it out of the park. Not only will I come up with a prototype and raise money through a social funding company like Kickstarter, I'll also market the product here.

Alas, the easiest thing to do is to create online products. I've published, How To Engineer Your Layoff, that now regularly generates about $50,000 a year in revenue. You need $1,000,000 in capital generating 5% to get this type of return.

More recently, I wrote and copyrighted a new baby lullaby called Cutie Baby. Now it's time for me to market the song to music and movie studios, while also creating a story around the song just like the book, Boss Baby. This one has a millionaire dollar potential!

Inventor Update 2022

I have failed to invent anything new. I was on the path to finishing a traditionally published book by the end of 2020, but my co-writer couldn't make things work due to the pandemic. Let's see if I can publish the book in 2021! Oh, and I still need to create a new song for my daughter.

Strategy #3 For Becoming A Millionaire Again – Scale Up The Online Business

Living in San Francisco has made me nuts about entrepreneurship. It seems like everybody I meet works at a startup, has a startup, is a startup flameout, or a startup multi-millionaire. You can go to any coffee shop in town and there will be folks, with headphones on, pounding away on their laptops.

Right now I've got a lifestyle business that gives me maximum freedom. The business is private and answers to no one. But I could leverage the Financial Samurai brand to create new courses, new products, and new consulting opportunities. Think about what Robert Kiyosaki did with Rich Dad, Poor Dad and all his speaking seminars.

To make mega-millions, I've got to scale up the business by spending more and perhaps finding investors. Unfortunately, I have no desire to be famous. In fact, it's much better to just be rich and not famous in order to live your life in peace.

I want to slowly build up Financial Samurai at my own leisurely pace. As soon as Financial Samurai turns into a big business with investors, clients, and so forth, I will no longer have fun.

In 2018, I started the Financial Samurai Podcast and launched the Financial Samurai Forums.

In 2019, I'll probably produce another product and perhaps create an online course. Leveraging the brand after 10 years is a no brainer. 

Online Business Update 2022

I've continue to record my podcast, which now has about 100 episodes (main milestone). But I've neglected the FS Forum, even though more people have signed up. Hopefully, people are talking amongst themselves. Because I've continued to publish 3X a week, traffic remains strong.

2020 and 2021 were record years for online revenue because I focused more on business development. But the interesting thing is, I'm not happier making more money. In fact, I'm more annoyed because there's more work to do. There's also more self-imposed pressure to perform.

Strategy #4 For Becoming A Millionaire Again – Publishing A New Book

My new book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom is a bestseller. If it becomes a huge bestseller or an international bestseller, there is a chance the book could make me a million dollars through royalties. But in addition to earning royalties, I can raise my brand ambassadorship rates, and earn money through speaking.

Although it's scary and hard to try new things. I'm very excited about my books potential!

Buy This Not That Best Seller v3
Source: Amazon

To Become A Millionaire, Just Keep On Going

So much about creating the life you want is about having the right positive mindset. I continue to come across people who defeat themselves before they even begin because they don't understand their own potential. What a shame.

One of my personal finance consulting clients recently engineered her layoff to pursue her own business after 10 years. At first, she didn't think it was possible to get a severance package as a valuable employee. But she did.

She then started updating her About page for her business and realized she wrote the following line in 2013, “In two years, I plan to leave my job and finally become an entrepreneur.” It is uncanny what can happen if you create goals and believe in yourself.

I firmly believe every single one of you will become a millionaire in your lifetime if you just stay the course. You can go the traditional route or a more unconventional route. There are so many ways to build wealth for you and your family. Don't let your internal naysayer get you down!

Thoughts On Becoming A Multi-Millionaire

1) Believe that you deserve to be rich

2) Think about ways in which you can scale your skills and/or product as much as possible

3) Let your income inflate at an accelerating rate compared to your spending

4) Stick things through long enough to let things gain momentum

5) Identify all the rocket ships around you and do your best to get on one

6) Maximize every opportunity to the fullest when times are good

7) Consistently take calculated risks

8) Make sure you surround yourself with good people who are supportive

9) Take advantage of every single government retirement plan possible for as long as possible

10) Recognize problems and solve them

Becoming a millionaire takes time and patience. As my favorite Chinese proverb says, “If the direction is correct, sooner or later you will get there.” Good luck on your millionaire journey!

Once you become a millionaire, I'm certain you will not be more happy. Therefore, make sure you always have a purpose.

Related: The First Million Might Be The Easiest

Recommendation For Becoming A Millionaire

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, sell a product, sell some else's product, make passive income and find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities. Follow my step-by-step guide to starting your own website like mine in under 30 minutes today. You never know where the journey will take you.

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.

Becoming a millionaire is easier when you can stay on top of your finances and optimize your money over time.

About The Author

78 thoughts on “Sweet (Or Sweat) Dreams Of Becoming A Millionaire Again”

  1. Strategy #2 with the points you mention has to be like a vaccine for some common illness likely in developing countries (lex malaria). Rather than invent, you just need to invest in the next legit Theranos…

  2. Sam, your not lucky with your blog, you are talented and smart and incredibly energetic. You are by far the best personal finance writer going. The only one I read. Your posts are fresh, always contain new topics, always well-written, well-researched, and full of personal detail. You attract great comments (always read those too). I like the updates on old articles too. You can tell you love writing because you keep getting new ideas and producing. Glad you have not sold FS so we can keep reading.

    It is frustrating when people say you had it easy or had good luck. I get the same. I get no credit for being fit, healthy, and looking younger than my years. No credit for financial success. No credit for a great life and happiness. Even when I have suffered and struggled for years, people have said “it’s easy for you.” For everybody else it is impossible, they say.

    1. Thanks Dunny! Appreciate your kind thoughts. Blogging definitely takes a lot of work, but I enjoy it.

      I’m excited to have started the FS Forum, and I think you might enjoy the banter. It’s very lighthearted and full of topics. I plan to hang out there a lot and build up the forum into something really great.

      Stop on by if you get a chance!

  3. Robert,
    I wonder if you ever feel sharing your plans here might create a disadvantage to your ambitions .I mean if people who are jealous or feeling they are competing can use your ideas against you or steal a brilliant idea might that take away from your plans? Maybe I am too mired in dependent employment where this happens often to realize your independence from that plus you are probably smart enough to know what to not share, since your ARE rich!

  4. I just copied the tips and sent them to my daily reading email (stuff I look at everyday to stay on track). I really like #4- it’s something that I am finally seeing the fruits of too, I have an online business (not blogging!) and I’ve been selling products since late 2011. It’s finally grown to the point where it’s no small number each month, and I know that I have a considerable source of income outside of my job. In working, I’ve finally gotten a job (been here almost 2 years) that pays me based on what business I bring in, and issues stock as compensation too, which can signficantly increase total comp. For a long time, I didn’t really dream of being rich, just making enough to provide for my family and afford my lifestyle. Now that I’ve ahieved that, I’ve finally committed internally to being rich and I am focusing on exponential growth that can grow my assets and net worth to that 7 figure range. Before I was scared to say I wanted to be a millionaire because I didn’t know if I could make it. Now I know there is no reason to be scared and it’s an important goal that I can achieve, and soon!

  5. Pingback: Changing Jobs Or Industries? Take A Pay Cut And Swallow Your Pride | Financial Samurai

  6. CanadianEmpress

    Hey Sam,
    Ever think you would consider chatting/consulting with people who have ideas for inventions? I have an invention but haven’t bounced it off someone and think you could be a good resource. Send me a private email if interested.

  7. BayEngineer

    Hi Sam,
    If you decide to take a physical product to market, I’d be willing to contribute my skill set to your team. My background is in development and release to market of medical devices. I moved to the Bay to gain experience and connections with the intention of one day starting my own business. While I don’t yet feel confident enough to do this on my own, I would love the opportunity to work through the challenges of bringing a new product to market with you!

  8. Sam,

    You retired at 34? I did not know that (I knew you retired young, just didn’t realize THAT young) and can I just say WOW. Was your salary consistently high throughout your pre-retirement career? (adjusted for inflation etc etc)

    1. Hi Tamara,

      Yes, 34 years old and 9 months. My salary was always relatively high given finance paid relatively well. It did get crushed in 2003, and again in 2008 and 2011. Finance is very cyclical (30-50% swings are common), but it was always pretty decent.

      Here was my announcement post: Taking A Leap Of Faith And Retiring On My Own Terms

      And a follow up post three years later: It’s Impossible To Stay Retired Once You Retire Early

      The one consistent takeaway is to enjoy the journey, no matter where it takes you.

      Here’s one more for good measure: How To Retire Early And Never Have To Work Again

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  10. I like all of your ideas. Perhaps you can dabble a bit in all three. Becoming an investor sounds challenging but it could be quite a fun learning experience. The success rate is tough, but you never know unless you try. You’re right about entrepreneurship being super hard but you’re doing great at it so far. Keep up the good work!

  11. Luck lol, just ask someone making minimum wage or close and see how many of them tell you how many times they have work for over 100 hours a week? They literally will ask you why in the world would you work 100 hrs in a week, i have a life …

    1. The good thing about hard work is that it needs no luck or skill. I don’t understand how there can be people who work less than 40 hours a week and complain why they can’t get ahead. It’s irrational, but it’s also very fun to talk about.

      Hard work is an after thought. Everybody works looooong hours to try and make something special. If someone is going to argue about hard work and talk about “living life” and all that stuff, you know there’s a good chance they’re making an excuse.

  12. Sam,
    If you get to know more about inventing a product please do share it. It have been my intentions for the past 2 years. Like you say to patent is like 2k to 5k in lawyer fees, then make the prototype… travel and also how to market it.
    I think buying any business making more than 100k a year on profits for less than 20x what they make a month makes sense. Someone have been trying to buy me out but, thanks that i didn’t accept.

  13. BeSmartRich

    Excellent tips to become a millionaire, Financial Samurai. I have lived my life on some of them and will have to work hard to get the rest to be achieved.



  14. Sam – you say you don’t have anything to prove, what were you trying to prove before by joining GS after college or creating a successful PF website?
    None of those achievements were incremental changes, which options #1 and #3.
    What you regard as your biggest successes are kinds of ‘moon shots’, somewhat unlikely but eventually very rewarding, which makes me believe #2, the inventor, is what you’d enjoy most.

    Assuming you can’t do all 3 options, if you can imagine yourself in 30 years, out of the 3, which one could you see yourself regret NOT having tried?


    1. I loved the stock market, so joining GS in Equities was a no-brainer. At the time, all I wanted to do was prove to myself and to my parents that I could get a job and utilize what I learned in college so not all that time and money spent was for not.

      Regarding starting a PF website, there was no real goal. I just had a lot of fun, and kept on going. But in 2012, my goal was to prove that I could generate a livable income stream.

      #2 definitely sounds like a good challenge.

  15. “I love you people! You pay my rent!” – Eddie Van Halen

    FS, you have accomplished so much, and I have loved reading your journey (and will, as long as you want to share it). But if I may offer a thought, it might be wise to stop before you hit the “tipping point” and despise the “shackles of your own created bondage.” It happens everywhere. Comedians hate the audience. Pro athletes hate the fans. Attorneys hate the clients. Landlords hate the tenants. Politicians hate the constituents and donors. Anyway, nobody likes to be beholden, whether it is to readers, advertisers, Google, or the ever-present grind of generating material. So your restlessness is understandable.

    The question of “what to do next” is separate, and will answer itself in time. One question you may ask yourself is “what do I want to be in 10 years? 20 years?” and maybe that will help. The hours and effort required to move from a 4.5 to 5.0 tennis skill level can be roughly quantified. Fortunately, you have the desire to put in time and effort. But once you achieve a 5.0 rating, what about the hours (including travel time, arranging practice partners, tournament prep, etc.) required to maintain it? Are you willing to invest that time? What will you receive in return? If/when you drop back down to a 4.5, will you be content? Or will you be restless?

    As for ‘haters’, they will always be out there but are less vocal at the moment. You can take satisfaction that you have “showed them” and taken motivation from doubters and those who resent your success (or even attempting success) because it reminds them of what they truly are. For those interested, you can search for a Tim Ferris has a great 30 minute TED Talk on “Haters.” In the end, what matters is what you accomplish; if you give the haters too much power in the equation, you may not enjoy your accomplishment because it will not convert those haters or make them believers. They will slink resentfully into obscurity to find their own “next chapter in their search for objects of hate.”

    Maybe your next chapter will involve some more personal experiences with family and those you will keep close for the rest of your life, and theirs. For myself, I have been committing a lot of time and energy to those things and found it to be very rewarding. There is not a lot of glory or glamour, and the metrics aren’t as clear as dollars, clicks, or W-L records. But it has turned out to be the most enjoyable pursuit for me in many decades; at this time, I am needed and can help. I highly recommend it to anyone, and wish I had pursued it much earlier. In any event, I have no doubt your upcoming decision(s) will absolutely be the best thing for you. Continued success to you, Samurai!

    1. Feeling needed and having the ability to help is a powerful motivator.

      I’m really a 4.5, not a 5.0, so I fully expect to drop back down within two years after compiling a horrible record. But, b/c I know I’m really a 4.5, I’m giddy ecstatic knowing that I made it even for just a short period of time. Congruency with reality and not being delusional is key!

      There’s not a lot of haters anymore, even though the site has grown. I enjoy the motivational aspect of having detractors. They make me a better person.

      Family first!

      1. That is great, FS. Just to clarify, your rating was not my point (my congrats to you on such a high rating, the pyramid tapers off quite a bit at your level!). My incomplete attempt was to say that the sheer hours spent on tennis (and I know it has been 10,000+ to date, and will be hundreds-per-year from here on out) is subtracted from your zero-sum. For myself with tennis specifically, I spent years and thousands of hours and a lot of emotional investment; in the end, I got as good as I was going to get and the incremental investment of even one more hour was not worth the reward. I quit playing; it wasn’t enjoyable because I wasn’t playing at the level I wanted and the people/experiences were unpleasant. In the end, I was left with nothing for my investment of all those hours. And that is the way it turns out for 99.9% of serious players.

        Whatever your W-L record turns out to be, please remember that it doesn’t reflect on your value as a person. I hope you will enjoy it as long as you want!

  16. Sam, I LOVE your site! It has inspired me to reach for more and create passive income. Just reached my mid 30s and just bought my second rental property. I am now trying to educate myself as much as possible on finances and investments so I can retire early as well.

    Thank you for your direct, no BS approach!

  17. If you are good, you will be good everywhere, no matter what you do. You’ll find a way to shine in that department. I’m sure you were great at GS, and now you’re a PF blogger, you outshine many!

    1. Thanks Vivianne, but I think I was bottom tier at GS. If I was top tier, they would have enticed me to stay! Everything is rational, despite the dotcom bust. This is why it always feels so sad to split with an employer or client. If things were amazing then you would never leave.

      It’s like my Dark Side Of Early Retirement post. Nobody retires early from a job that is absolutely amazing.

      But thank you for your vote of confidence!

  18. Gen Y Finance Guy

    You could always list your site on Empire Flippers and get 20X your monthly net profit.

    I think number 11 on my list would be:

    Embrace and lean into the inevitable dip, large rewards await you on the other side. Most people give up way to early.

  19. Whatever you do next, I hope you will still write about it on your blog! You have the best personal finance blog I’ve found.

  20. Kristie Jonsen


    I haven’t commented in quite sometime now, but I think you and I are feeling somewhat the same. I figured out that early retirement, for me personally, is overrated. I’m actually searching for a job right now. I wrote a post today that talks about the importance of believing in yourself. I hope my story, conveyed via a letter to “Millennial Millie,” a young woman on the verge of graduating college, will inspire just one family to start a dialogue about finance. It happens to be my personal finance story–how it all began–told to a fictional character, who in my opinion, represents a large majority of the young people today. Becoming a millionaire is not easy, for anyone, and especially for someone who is faced with the challenge of being a single parent, like I was.

    Maybe we don’t have anything to prove anymore when it comes to having the ability/drive to make money, but certainly there’s a story or two still within us that may just inspire someone else to pay off their debt and start investing.

    You’ve been an inspiration to me and so many others. You are the master of the finance universe. I’ve said it before to you . . . we need to start a meet-up group for young retirees (okay, relatively young on my part). Imagine the fun we’d have!

    1. A meetup would be fun! I’m happy to attend if you’d like to organize one :)

      Generally, nothing good comes easy unfortunately. But it makes the achievement all the sweeter!

  21. Sam, are you going to stop posting? I will miss your posts because I learn so much from them! I think you should go for the “invention” option. Why not? At the very least you will get some fun trips to Asia out of it, right?

    1. Hi Mina, I don’t think I’ll ever stop posting. Maybe the frequency will change if I go the inventor option, but I enjoy writing and connecting too much to stop, so don’t worry!

      Yes, I’ll definitely make my trips out to Asia for sourcing a business trip. I need to also learn 100 hours of Mandarin, so that’s another good synergy.

  22. mysticaltyger

    The thing about becoming a millionaire or any other accomplishment is that somebody is always going to tear it down no matter what you say or do. If you make a 5 figure income, someone will say “Oh but you are a loser with no life because you scrimp and save every dime!”. There is no convincing these people because they have already made up their minds before you say a word.

  23. As someone who worked in high tech all his life, but have also become interested in finance, I have wondered why the finance industry paid its employees so generously compared to other industries. Most big finance firms are public companies these days and have shareholders to answer to, but seem to share much greater portion of its profits with their employees. Imagine if Apple decided to dole out much larger portion of that 170 billion cash hoard to its workers.

    1. Interesting, isn’t it? Working in finance is great. Being a SHAREHOLDER of financial services companies is not so great because so much of the revenue is paid out in compensation. There’s always a Yin to the Yang.

      Good example on Apple. But, I’m sure a lot of these successfully tech companies have made many employees rich through their equity RSUs and options.

      The stock of financial companies have sucked wind for 15 years.

  24. Your 10 pieces of advice at the end of your post are pearls of wisdom. Before I put this in my Evernote, I’m adding an 11th: “Maintain a consistently positive mindset and recognize that setbacks are temporary and provide lessons to learn from.”

    1. Yeah I know that point is already in the body of your post. It’s worth repeating it’s worth repeating two time Johnny!

  25. Perhaps you would disagree but to me this is eerie. Not quite the same, but I have stood next to a waterfall since graduating. The probability that I am looking at a severance in the next quarter is greater than 50%. My sub conscience turns back to tech.

    1. Sounds exciting to me! I suggest you talk things through with your loved ones in depth, and or write a post about it here and let the community help you think about things you may have never thought of before!

  26. Debtless in Texas

    I think you can create another awesome online business. You don’t need to focus on organic traffic and have to worry about updates as there are other streams. Online advertising is great, but why not build up another online presence and sell it for 10 or 20x monthly earnings. People buy websites for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Who knows, maybe you could find someone and teach them to do it too (it would create an awesome series) and you can learn even more. If you find a way to scale this process and have 10, 30, 100 of these sites – you will be diving into your massive pool of money like Scrooge McDuck.

    1. Just thinking about building up another site online from scratch makes me tired actually!

      I am a BUYER of websites for only 10-20X monthly earnings all day long. Websites are way undervalued at that price. That’s only 1-1.5X P/E! Businesses sell for 8-20X earnings, depending on growth, and internet based business are now selling for 20X annual REVENUE. It’s nuts.

      If anybody wants to sell me their business for 1-1.5X annual earnings, let me know! A lot of pf bloggers sold back in 2009-2011 at better multiples. But so many have clamored to get back in. Selling then was a mistake, like selling a lot of assets.

  27. Regarding your point about google betraying you – I get to your site every time through google, but I’m always googling “finance samurai” or “fin sam”. google searches are easier than typing a URL because the search bar is always present, and it forgives typos. So… at least one of those google visitors every couple days is looking for this blog specifically :)

    My wife and I are in our late 20’s and storming our way towards financial independence with two primary strategies:

    1. we constrain our available income through direct deposits into “untouchable” accounts. So we essentially live off what we made when we entered the workforce. I think lifestyle inflation is a natural response to making more money – this strategy helps us live below our means without having to think about it.

    2. investing in multi unit rentals. Its not for everyone, but if you are open to learning and willing to put in some time, this is an incredible way to utilize leverage, benefit from inflation, generate cash flow, and build equity.

    1. Good to hear about Google. You can always sign up for my e-mail feed or RSS feed to if you are so inclined.

      Keep those untouchable accounts untouchable. Great work. You’ll wake up in 10 years and will be AMAZED at how much you’ll have accumulated.

      I agree with your approach on investing in multi unit rentals while you’re still young. The interest to do so will likely fade as you age as dealing with tenants becomes tougher. You lose your patience.

      Best to you.

  28. “Is it better to be lucky or to be good?” Given your love of tennis and apparently this debate, I highly recommend watching Match Point if you haven’t already.

    You worked hard and earned what you have. Did you have certain advantages in life? Yes. But that doesn’t discredit what you’ve done. Is it easier to make big bucks in banking? Yes. But it’s also easier to succumb to massive lifestyle inflation, so I still find it impressive you walked away when and how you did.

    I look forward to seeing what’s next for you.

  29. Great post! Isn’t it funny how people always credit success to luck? I guess it’s human psychology, when you fail is on you but when you succeed it’s because you got lucky. I encounter that a lot as well. I’m not financially better off during the past years because I have a good salary job alone, it’s the behaviorial changes and steps that I took that are getting me there.
    Even though you find yourself at a crossroad, it looks like you have other challenges you want to meet along the way. Good luck with your future plans.

    1. Thanks mate. Maybe we tend to credit success to luck and not effort or risk is because we forget about all those grueling nights and scary moments? We subconsciously block them out b/c relieving them is not a good feeling!

      Behavioral changes are huge. Good luck to you too!

  30. Wall Street Playboys

    Sam you’re not in anything for the money and never have been or ever will be.

    If you wanted another million you would do it the easy way. Sell get rich quick schemes, go turn your blog into a nonsense POS about frugality and take in the $$ off of ridiculous penny pinching ideas.

    Your real affliction is learning.

    This is why you’re now “bored” with online writing. You set a goal, achieved it, look around and say “now what”.

    This is really the defining characteristic of anyone who succeeds. Retirement is bullshit, working for money is bullshit, working for freedom even becomes bullshit because once you’re free you realize you want to do even *more* work. The type of work just changes.

    Gonna places bet and say you go with strategy #2.

    Strategy #2 is much more difficult in your situation and the pains of “spending to grow” will be a new one to experience. That is what you’re all about and know it!

    It’s about learning something new, laughing at the haters who say you didn’t earn it and achieving something you *think* you couldn’t do but know you *could* do deep down.

    The good news is you’re not alone! All successful people have this same mindset.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts! Money is definitely nice, but it doesn’t matter so much after a certain point. That point I’ve found is ~$200,000 a year based on careful observations as a writer recording and observing how life is from $4/hour to way beyond that figure.

      Interesting you choose going for Strategy #2! Only 5% of the votes say go with Strategy #2, and I do think inventing something that can sell in mass is the hardest thing possible. We shall see!

      There were a ton of haters the first 3 years. They were VERY motivating. I thank them whenever I get reminded about them for giving so much fuel to keep on going! I think I’ve got one last endeavor in me before I burn out completely.

      1. Wall Street Playboys


        Typical, we have a full post explaining why you should always “observe the masses and do the opposite”


        People still tip after service and grease bouncers to get into clubs. That’s when you know doing the opposite always works!

  31. So i am confused, are you saying your current assets and income took such a hit that your Net Worth is not over seven figures? I read into it that you are still a millionaire, but you are trying to replicate the same success again?

    I agree with you that it is definitely possible and very hard. I was sort of the inventor route, but on products that werenot scalable. There are two ways to look at the small business model…low volume/high margin with less risk and headaches, or high volume/low margin that usually comes with heavy capital investment and risk. The first option served me well, but you’ll never be buying a G5…I’m fortunate though to be more than satisfied with what I’ve got.

    1. It feels like everything is on autopilot: investments, savings, passive income streams, business. I’m anticipating one or two disasters to strike, no matter how much I try to hedge against a downturn. Hence, I’m trying to think of a way to reinvent myself now, when times are good. I’d like to convey this message to everyone who feels they can’t lose in this bull market.

      This bull run is incredible. You can particularly feel it in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Maybe the run lasts another 3-5 years. Or maybe the bubble bursts on Oct 3, 2015.

      1. Okay, gotcha…i am sort of in the same process. The phase I’m currently in though is where I’m not really motivated by more money, i am sure my sentiments will shift eventually. The house down the street which is not nearly as nice as mine nor does it have the spectacular views, was just listed for 1.4M more than what I paid for mine in the end of 2010…the bulls run rampant here as well and although i love my place, i am in a quandary of how i do not take the profit. Sell when people are buying, wait again for the next opportunity…move opposite the heard.

        1. That is quite a gain! Nice.

          I’m not very motivated by money either. I’m motivated about going on a new journey and then writing about.

          It always goes back to writing for the community and connecting funny enough. I have more motivation and courage taking on new things because I know I’ve got at least 10 of you rooting me on!

          If I were you, I’d spend some time writing out some new journies you could take.

  32. Good luck. Based on the numbers you listed about the proposed invention, I think you’ve probably watched some Shark Tank and would be a great fit should your idea translate to the numbers presented.

    1. I actually haven’t watched more than one show of Shark Tank, but glad to hear that the attributes are aligned with what they are looking for! How funny would it be to present my prototype on TV and then write about it on Financial Samurai? Fun journey.

  33. Do what you want to do. That’s the beauty of having the financial cushion to fall back upon – failure doesn’t hurt so much, since it’s not as far to fall.

    Comfortable with the status quo? Keep going with the consulting and web business.

    Want to take a flyer? Go for the consumer product.

    Selling out is always an option. But I think it would be the death of Financial Samurai. You’re the voice of this site, and I think you’ll find if you’re not here, your audience will fade dramatically. GigaOm took one year to die after Om left. As you say, Google is fickle, so converting to a solid asset is tempting, but it’s like picking the market peak – by the time you know, it’s too late to sell.

    Whatever your choice, I’m sure you’ll succeed in learning and growing and most likely in wealth as well.

    Good luck!

    1. A good challenge would be to scale up so the site is not just my voice. I’ll have my own column and a concurrent guest contributors column to provide new perspectives. Easy solution!

  34. Good article, Sam. Perhaps a 4th option. Create another business outside of your core business using the skills and contacts you already have to add another income stream. The 2nd business is slightly easier than the first one. Perhaps the biggest barrier to ‘going again’ is knowing the journey ahead is a hard one. Setting up your 1st business is incredibly hard, but naivety is a blessing. It’s best you don’t know just how hard it will be!

    In my business life, I struggle with the idea that I may actually be rich one day – as if somehow that life is for someone else – after all, my family struggled, so it’s only fair I do as well! Having said this, unless you win the lottery, your wealth will grow gradually, and you may wake up one morning unaware you are now a millionaire, such that your lifestyle has grown in line with your earnings. I have a feeling that is my journey. I don’t have a all or nothing mentality in business, so I expect the journey to be a gradual one!

    1. Hi Oliver, you’re right. There is a 4th option, which I alluded to in this post: Online Media Consulting practice. Once I was given the blessing to be able to consult for other firms, opportunities flourished by just looking. This business alone can be more lucrative than my time in finance if properly structured. But this business takes presence and a lot of work as well. It’s not too scaleable. For example, I can’t take on more than four clients max at once.

    2. Hi Oliver,

      “… such that your lifestyle has grown in line with your earnings.”

      One of the keys to becoming a millionaire is to live BELOW your means.

      Financial Samurai has some great advice. Some of it may sound strange because we’ve been “programmed” to spend, Spend, SPEND!

      1. Hi Jim, I understand the concept of living below your means in order to achieve maximum wealth, and I do just that – pity my wife doesn’t!

        I’d say I’m a business introvert and a cautious investor. In everything I invest in, it has to be for maximum, short term returns in whatever asset class I’m looking at – this may change as my wealth grows. It also usually means higher risk investments – For example, I was heavily involved in Detroit RE a few years back, Buffalo before that. I made a lot of money in these markets by lining up the flip before my acquisition – didn’t work all the time of course, but more often than not I was out before I was in. I believe if you make a habit of working on the back end first, then targeting the higher risk or alternative investments are mitigated somewhat….

      2. Ironically many people who aren’t on a track for financial independence seem to believe that living below your financial means is called hoarding. Beats me why fiduciary responsibility is considered a bad trait but that’s the viewpoint of many.

        This thought seems to come up quite often in some circles of my friends who have been unfortunate in life and it always grates on me.

        1. It’s because being frugal is difficult for people who can’t control themselves. Your actions remind people who aren’t frugal or financially responsibility about their failures. The natural inclination is to attack.

        2. “living below your financial means is called hoarding” <– Ironically, the people who own the least stuff and recycle what they can are called "hoarders"? Bet if you visit one of these friends' places they have a heckuva lot more stuff than you do. (As well as full crawlspaces, attics, and garages.)

  35. One of the things that I have learned to do is to keep some sort of a part-time job while things are getting up to speed. I feel that this ensures a little bit of stability while allowing me to use the profits I get from the online ventures towards things like savings and investments (hence using those to help get me to self-employment quicker).

    1. Good point Mike. A friend and I are in the early stages of starting our own business that will require frequent travel out of the country. One thing I am concerned about is how to maintain my day job while traveling that much. We don’t anticipate paying ourselves in the first year or two to build our capital base for further expansion so we both need to maintain our salaries or pay the bills somehow. Switching jobs to part-time work may suffice, but then again… Anyway, I’ll deal with that once we get there. If I come up with a good approach, maybe Sam will let me write a guest post about it.

      1. I welcome a guest post about your predicament. Be careful not to jeopardize your day job while you’re building your side business. The temptation to work on your business at work is tough to resist.

        Since there are two of you, why not take turns w/ the business trips?

        1. Ya, that’s definitely possible to split up the trips.

          I know what you mean about working on my business at work. Thanks for the warning. I’ve caught myself doing it and try to cut myself off.

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