Taking A Leap Of Faith And Retiring On My Own Terms

In the spring of 2012, I took a leap of faith and retired from investment banking for good. Here is my story about retiring early to focus on travel, writing, and eventually becoming a full-time dad. It's fun to look back on this post nine years later and update it with some new thoughts.

There is not a day that goes by where I'm not thankful for taking a leap of faith at 34. In fact, the older I got, the more I wish I had the courage to take more risks while I was young. It's never too late to start!

If there's one thing the global pandemic has taught us, it's that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Appreciate each day as if it were your last. Here are my thoughts right after negotiating a severance to be free on 7/8/2012.

Taking A Leap Of Faith At 34

Tonight I do not have to set the alarm because tomorrow I do not have to go to work. After 13 years of climbing the corporate ladder, I finally reached the roof and discovered everything was as imagined. A lot of sun with the occasional pigeon cooing out yonder. I can now see through the entire valley, down towards the ocean. I am officially retired!

Ever since my first job in 1999 I've been saving like a juggernaut so that one day I might retire early. I've definitely had my ups and downs with the internet bubble, housing bubble, financial sector meltdown, and now the European debt crisis.

There were several times I wanted to quit due to the immense pressure. But despite all of this, I stuck through it and “The Nut” continued to grow to the level of self-sustainability.

A Fork In The Road After College

When I first graduated from college, I was presented with two choices. Choice number one was to go to Shenzhen, China and eventually become the head of operations for a family friend's new eyeglass factory after two years of training.

It wasn't a sexy job, but I would be able to fulfill my goal of working abroad, becoming fluent in a second language, and riding the China boom. The idea was to get some work experience and then do something on my own in the wild, wild East. Just two years prior, I got a chance to experience China for the first time as an exchange student and loved it.

The Choice I Took

The second option was equally exciting, working for a powerhouse investment bank in New York City to get rich the old fashion way. I was told around 8,000 people globally applied for 60 spots and for some reason, I got one of them. Although I had nothing to lose by going to China, I decided to play it safe and stay in the United States.

Taking A Leap Of Faith And Retiring On My Own Terms

Despite appreciating the past 13 years, I've always wondered what it would be like if I took the other route. Perhaps it's the reason why I've traveled internationally every year since graduation. Too bad we can't live two concurrent lives!

I'm an adventure seeker who moved around as a kid every two to four years thanks to my parents' work. Staying in one place longer than five years was absolutely foreign to me.

After playing things conservatively for so long, I finally feel like now is the time to shake things up!

Taking A Leap Of Faith By Having Something To Look Forward To

When you have something to retire to, taking a leap of faith is much easier.

About two years ago (2010), I decided that perhaps maybe, just maybe there might be a sustainable entrepreneurial business for me online. The markets were rebounding from its slaughtering a year prior and traffic on this site continued to grow.

Yakezie.com launched and a group of some of the most talented personal finance bloggers on the web banded together to share ideas, contacts, and leads.

Shortly thereafter, I had friends and other bloggers sending notes of thanks for giving them the motivation to quit their jobs. It was surreal because many of us started with nothing the prior year. Furthermore, I still had a day job!  

There is a curse of making too much money because it prohibits you from pursuing other things. If I was making under $100,000 a year from my day job, I'd probably have quit with no parachute two years ago.

The more money you make, the greater the opportunity cost for doing something else. I was beginning to feel stuck making a decent income at a job that was beginning to dull after so many consecutive years of doing the same thing. I knew I had to create a plan!

My Thing To Do Post Retirement

With Financial Samurai, tracked my spending habits, learned about new investments, tested the housing market, and discovered new avenues after the private sector. My site helps me learn and keeps me accountable, which is why I encourage all of you to start your own.

Given I've been saving about 70% of my after tax income for the past five years, I decided if I could create enough passive income to equal 30% of my after tax income, I would retire. When I did that in 2011, I couldn't pull the trigger because earning 30% of my day job income meant I wouldn't save a single penny.  

For someone who has saved for so long, and so regularly, not saving was out of the question. As a result, I set a target to earn 50% of my average day job income.

In early 2012 I achieved my 50% goal, but again, felt like leaving my job cold turkey was not the right decision. Instead, I needed one last push. A push that would make me shout for joy!

Further, Financial Samurai itself was growing. With traffic growth also came supplemental income growth to help fund my early retirement. My leap of faith was really a leap of excitement.

The Catalyst To Leave For Good: A Severance Package

Over the past two years, I've helped a number of people engineer their layoffs and receive healthy severance packages in the process. With each assist, I felt a greater urge to follow suit.

Each person's reason for leaving their job was different. One was burnt out, another had just given birth and wanted to be a SAHM, while another wanted to follow her dreams as a full-time artist.

It was now my turn to put my advice to good use. I told myself that if I could negotiate a severance package after 11 years of work, I would sign the dotted line and commit to being a full-time entrepreneur.

I was well aware of what a potential severance package could be for someone with my experience, and I was very excited to see if I could make it happen. After about a month of negotiations, I sealed the deal!

During the entire process, I took meticulous notes on the steps it took to get laid off. I wrote down the key players involved and did endless hours of research to understand my rights as an employee.

Created An eBook To Help Others

I interviewed five friends from various industry backgrounds whom I helped layoff to recap their experiences. With all this information in hand, I began to write and write my first book until 42,000 words were formed. My team and I then edited the book down to 37,000 of the most impactful words in 16 chapters.

Writing the book was an incredibly rewarding experience. It has brought me closer with loved ones as we shared more of our life stories. The book also forced me to open up a personal side I've never written before in a couple important chapters.

When we take a step back to reflect, everything becomes clearer. We remind ourselves that time is fleeting and we learn about who we really are and what we truly want to do. I'm very excited to interact with all of you after you've read the book and follow your journey as well!

If you want to negotiate a severance, pick up a copy of How To Engineer Your Layoff!

Never Quit, Get Laid Off Instead

Although I am happy for every person who tells me they quit their jobs, a part of me also cringes inside. My friends were leaving real money on the table to their employer's delight.

One buddy told me that the very next week after he quit his job of 10 years, his entire department got laid off with two weeks severance per year worked plus free health insurance for a year! What a painful mistake.

I am also afraid of what happens to my friends after they quit their jobs. Will they run out of money in six months? What if they can't find another job in the industry they want?

There's a chance nobody believes in their entrepreneurial idea? What if they turn around and start blaming me for quitting their jobs and failing!  I had to write something that could provide concrete advice to reduce these probabilities.

Other people told me they didn't want to get laid off because it might burn bridges and look bad if they apply for another job. That might be true if you do it wrong, but it is certainly NOT the case if you do it right!

I was a manager and I cannot tell you how many times I wished an underperforming subordinate would come to me and ask to get laid off. I would even take a high performing subordinate if they approached me the right way because letting people go is difficult.

Get Ahead Of The Layoff Curve

Cyclical industries are notorious for going through boom and bust cycles. There are also surveys after surveys that show how unsatisfied workers are in their jobs.

If you spend your time off building a business, writing a book, or doing anything productive, nobody is going to look down on you if you decide to re-enter the work force.  

Instead, they will be inspired and wish they could do the same! The problem is, I don't hear many stories of people taking matters into their own hands and doing something about their situation! As a result, I know there are thousands of people out there who will find the book beneficial.

There are so many books about how to get a killer job, but there are no books about how to graciously leave your job and make a tidy sum in the process. People don't realize their employees rights are incredibly powerful! For anybody who has ever felt trapped in their jobs, know that there is now a resource for you!

My ebook, How To Engineer Your Layoff was recently updated with new strategies, more case studies, and wonderful feedback from readers. For those who want to take a leap of faith too, this book is a must read.

So What's Next Post Work?

Develop Products:

I will launch my book in the next week and share with you more details for those interested in doing something else with their lives. The book has been a two year process and has gone through over 30 revisions to make it as high quality as possible.

I strongly believe the book will help everybody who is disgruntled with their jobs or simply looking to do something else. Unless you plan to work till death, there will be a backstop! I plan to write a series of books in different styles that promise to be edgy, helpful, and entertaining.

Update: With tens of millions of people unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, I've updated my severance negotiation book for a fifth time to help people get a good severance and collect enhanced unemployment benefits.

I've also signed on with Portfolio, a Penguin Random House imprint to traditionally publish a book. It should be out in 2H2022. Publishing this book will be a nice bucket list item to cross off.

Financial Samurai:

Due to my increased time I will increase the posting frequency by 30%-50%.  I plan to simply write more and explore new topics. Perhaps I'll finally redesign the site after so many years.

I will look into some commercial aspects of blogging as well given this will be my main source of income.  I'm looking forward to steering this ship in a slightly new direction by providing insights into entrepreneurship, financial self-sustainability, early retirement, and travel.

Update 2017: Site was redesigned in January 2016. The site has grown to about one million pageviews a month, and content product has increased by 30-50% a week as of 1Q2018. The leap of faith is quite focused now.

Update 2020: I probably need to redesign my site further, but don't have time now that I'm a father of two young children. At the end of the day, content is the most important part of a website. The site is doing great after more than 11 years of regularly publishing 3X a week. I've plowed 70% of this site's income into building more passive income so we can stay away from corporate America.

Update 2021: I was able to publish 3X a week and write a free newsletter once a week during the entire lockdown period. The site continues to do well, generating a good amount of online income. But most importantly, Financial Samurai has been a great creative outlet.

Update 2023: I've decided to take things easier after a long pandemic. But, my wife and I are regularly publishing new podcast episodes once a week. Come listen!

Extended Travel:

Two weeks off at a time is the longest duration I've ever spent since 1999. I'm looking forward to taking three to four weeks off at a time in Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and abroad with San Francisco as my home base.

After taking six weeks off total a year for my last two years, I've discovered that my ideal amount of time off is somewhere around eight to ten weeks. It's going to be a challenge hitting that mark! I say “challenge” because I really enjoy working and probably won't be able to stay away too long.

Update 2017: I took 10 weeks off in 2012 and another 10 weeks off in 2013 to see roughly 14 new countries in Europe. My favorite is Santorini, Greece and all over Mallorca. 10 weeks feels just right. In 2015 I went to S. Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Cambodia. In 2016 I went to Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Paris. In 2017 we had our first baby boy!

Update 2H2020: With the global pandemic raging on, we won't be traveling until there is a vaccine. But all the same, since we had a baby girl in December 2019! We didn't plan to get on an airplane until our son was 5 anyways. This way, he can remember his travels.

Update 2021: I finally plan to see my parents in Honolulu after 1 year and 4 months. We are all now fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, with the Delta variant, it's looking more dicey.

Discover New Occupations:

I'm going to look at retirement as an extended sabbatical. I'll use the time to see if there are any good fits in other industries. Anything internet related seems like a natural extension.

The problem I foresee is that although I've got my graduate degree and experience, I will probably have to start at a lower relative level if I want to get in. This is something I accept as part of my desire to do something new.

There are so many opportunities out there for all of us! We just have to look. My main issue is that after working for myself, I will never want to go back to working for someone else again!

Update 2021: I pivoted into consulting at several marketing departments of different financial technology companies since 11/2013. I ended up consulting for Personal Capital (11/2013 – 6/2015, and was a content consultant for Motif Investing (12/2014 – 12/2016). It's been awesome learning all about fintech and the startup industry in Silicon Valley. In 2017, I've been focusing most of my time being a stay at home dad. I stopped consulting altogether.

Go At My Own Pace:

Part of being retired is finding a pace that feels most comfortable. It's kind of like finding your steady body weight. You feel good, look good, but still get to stuff your face with hot fudge sundaes on occasion.

I think my ideal routine is four hours of work. Then exercise for one and a half hours. For the remaining time, I'll spend with family and friends. If not, I'll adjust accordingly.

Update 2021: I've found myself ranging between 3 hours to 6 hours of working on Financial Samurai every day. I enjoy writing. However, I need to try and average hours back down to 2-4 hours a day to be happiest. As a father of two young children now, I'm just more motivated than ever to provide.

Reset To Zero:

I'd like to completely rely on my entrepreneurial income to survive. In the process, I will ignore all the capital that has been accumulated since college. If ramen is all I can afford, ramen is all I will eat!  

I don't want to get comfortable living off my passive income streams (~$80,000 passive income in 2012). I fear laziness will eventually take hold. Instead, it's more fun to be a bootstrapping entrepreneur who doesn't know whether he'll be able to pay all his monthly bills.  That way, I hope to keep the hunger going for as long as possible!

Update 2021: My passive income has grown thanks to reinvesting 80%+ of my online income into various passive income investments.

Update 2023: My passive income is now about $380,000. I feel very little financial stress now taking care of two kids in San Francisco. Here are my goals for 2023.

Take A Leap Of Faith And Define Your Own Retirement

Retirement has always been about doing whatever I want, whenever I want without having much financial worry. I imagine retirement means the same for many of you as well. Don't let the Internet Retirement Police try and dictate how to live your early retirement lifestyle.

I was so tempted to pull the trigger these past several years (2009 – 2011). I'm glad I waited until now (2012).

Please believe me when I say the sacrifice is worth it. Things like studying like crazy, or getting into work before the sun rises is no big deal. Leaving work after the sun sets and starting a venture in your spare time are great! So is going to school part-time and always trying again after failure is well worth it!  

Do it while you still have the energy! Once the foundation is set, you will have the optionality to do whatever you please.

Always remember that hard work requires no skill. Thanks for all your support so far!

Related: What Does It Feel Like To Retire Early? The Pros And Cons

X FACTOR: Starting Your Own Site

I never thought I'd be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 19 years to build.

If you enjoy writing, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog like mine in under 30 minutes. It's cheap and easy to start today compared to when I started in 2009. You never know where the adventure will take you!

How much you can make blogging - 1 million pageviews a month

Update 2019: It's been seven years since I took a leap of faith and I can't believe how wonderful it's been. My wife left her day job in 2015 as well, and we've traveled to 20+ new countries. We also had a baby boy in 2017 whom we get to take care of full-time until he goes to kindergarten. We feel tremendously blessed and are doing more to donate our money and time to others.

Update 2021: We feel very blessed. Cultivating an X-Factor turned out to be the best thing ever. Thanks to Financial Samurai, we've been able to remain stay at home parents to our two children. We've also been able to continue generating online income.

Update 2023: With Joe Biden as President, my plan is to retire again by 2023. I retired in 2012 under President Obama and I will retire again 10 years later under a democratic President. I spent between 15-20 hours more a week working online during the lockdowns. As a result, I'm tired as hell.

Originally published on 7/8/2012, I'd love to know if you took a leap of faith, and how your leap of faith has turned out in the comments section.

167 thoughts on “Taking A Leap Of Faith And Retiring On My Own Terms”

  1. Arthur DeMarco

    I like that you mentioned time and time again the one thing that will help you retire. Savings! Everyone I’ve seen successfully retire has been saving for a long time. I’ve been talking to my wife about saving lately and I don’t think there’s a better idea than that.

  2. Pingback: How To Retire Early And Never Have To Work Again | Financial Samurai

  3. Pingback: Can Financial Samurai Be The Next Billion Dollar Financial Technology Company? | Financial Samurai

  4. Pingback: Is It Better To Be A Full-time Employee Or Contractor (Freelancer)? | Financial Samurai

  5. Pingback: The Startup Journey: Alternative Investing With Sliced Investing Founders | Financial Samurai

  6. Pingback: Who Is The Middle Class? We Are All Middle Class Citizens! | Financial Samurai

  7. I retired from the workforce when I realized I had enough money coming in to not have to work again. So after some yrs out of the work force, I went back to work, doing something I love, because I wanted to and not because I had to. I get paid to play with toys all day :) I cannot complain. I choose to work there because it is fun, and they offer a pension, paid sick leave, vacations etc. So it is a nice perk to have, working on what I love, having time to travel, work on my crafts, learn new things etc. I love being retired but not sleeping on a couch :) unless I am so exhausted from a night out that I don’t make it up to my room, all the way on the third floor. Being retired is a beautiful thing.

  8. Sam! I don’t know how I missed this post but found it after reading your post on GRS. What an adventure of retiring at 35 years old!

    You know you have nothing to worry about. You are very talented and have a massive following.. write a book and you’ll be taken care of. People follow you for your knowledge and wisdom. Ive been reading your blog for over a year.

    I’m trying to get to a place where I can ‘engineer my layoff’. Its just taking more time than I’d like :)

    1. Hi Derek, glad you found the post! I don’t know if writing a book (I did) and kicking back is all it takes, but it’s a good idea! :)

      Engineering your layoff is one of the most beautiful things ever. You leave on your own terms and feel empowered w/ money in your pocket! Good luck!

  9. Loved this story and admire people taking a leap to do what they want. Sadly, the income curse is something I deal with. Maybe one day I will have the courage (especially if I can engineer my layoff!)

  10. I’m glad one of your other posts led me to this one Sam. It was good to learn more about you and read about your journey. I think you have retired quite swimmingly and seems like you are really enjoying your time!! Thanks also for the insightful comment on my blog. To answer your question, I’m not sure why so many Gen Yers are perceived as lazy. Like another commenter of mine said, every previous generation seems to think that of the ones after it. I think there’s a mixed batch, but the majority of my friends and colleagues are high achievers. Still, these are well educated folks and might not be representative of the Gen Y group as a whole. I’m interested to read your upcoming post about it and hope that you know not all of us Gen Yers are that bad haha. Talk to you soon! – Cat :)

  11. Congratulations Sam!

    I figured this would be your eventual decision, your passion for Yakezie and this site (and other online things) is so evident. I am truly happy for you!

    I know you are going to do great things, and Ramen is NOT in your future (unless you have a craving of course).

    Looking forward to see how your career unfolds!

  12. Congrats Sam! It’s so exciting to watch you take this next step! You are totally my role model!

  13. I am a little late to this party! CONGRATULATIONS SAM!!!!!

    Love how you don’t just talk about finding a way to pursure your dreams, you’re taking action on it! And though quitting your job has some risks, it really seems like you’ve outweighed them all with your diligent planning and awesome savings strategy. I wish you the best on your next venture, we’re all on the edge of our office chairs :)

    1. Thanks Jacob! Don’t be on your edge too much as my life isn’t that exciting! :)

      It really becomes a no brainer if you can engineer your layoff and get 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or 5+ years of living expenses paid for in the separation package. Wouldn’t you quit if someone gave you a couple years too? You could get a job in a month and not only earn two years of income, but also earn your new income!

      Best, Sam

  14. J. A. Saglimbeni

    Congrats Sam! I have bought the book and hopefully it will be an engaging and informative read. I only recently got to know your quality blogs and I am grateful, maybe one day I will be ready to retire and do what I love….


    1. Joe, great to hear! It all comes down to preparation, relationships and knowledge. When the time comes to make the move, I’m confident you will be much more prepared. It took me a couple years, and after realizing I had so many rights, I got the courage and got it done. If I had the book as reference, I would probably have engineered my layoff within six months. Excited to hear your feedback after!

  15. Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    Congratulations on making the move. I figured that your sabbatical would push you over the edge; but I didn’t realize that you had been battling with the decision for so long.

    I’m sure that you will make full use of all of your new-found free time to travel and to work on various projects. Just try not to spend all of your free time piling on new projects…enjoy yourself a little.

    Oh, and since your schedule has now freed up a bit, are we going to see you in Denver at the conference?

    1. Thanks Khaleef! Two years isn’t that long, is it? :) Yes, it’s quite a long time, but it wasn’t really a battle b/c I was doing what I loved on the side anyway (writing). Wish someone wrote this book for me back in 2010! Better late than never.

      You going to Denver? I’m planning on going!

  16. Whoa!

    I like your style Sam.. you didn’t b.s around you had a plan and you pulled the trigger. Congratulations on the retirement and I’m sure you will be successful at it :-)

    Old habits die hard, have a little fun while you can and don’t spend all your hours working on the new side gigs.

    1. Old habits do die hard Dom! Gonna make sure my handicap stays below 10, for good!

      Just booked a 2.5 week cruise that departs from Amsterdam next month. I will do my best to bring a lot of fudge brownies on board!

  17. Congrats Sam! Looking forward to your book and seeing where this takes you now.

    You keep mentioning getting laid off over quitting a job. Are you saying an employee should work with their employer to see if they can lay them off rather than quitting? Just want to make sure I understand. I think to some it may seem like the same thing but I can see how it can make a big difference especially if you can get severance and healthcare.

    1. Thanks Glen! There is a HUGE difference between getting laid off and quitting. If you quit, say goodbye to $1,800 a month in unemployment benefits here in California. Say goodbye to months or years worth of free health care provided by the employer after you separate. And say goodbye to potentially thousands, and in many cases I know tens of thousands of dollars in severance.

      A surprising amount of employees do not know this difference, nor do they know how to proceed. The book is power to the people!

      Hope you enjoy!

      How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye

  18. Thanks Paula! If there’s one thing people do accuse me of, it’s being very methodical when it comes to making big decisions. Best of luck with your new rental remodel and your freelancing work!

  19. Congratulations Sam, and good luck. I am not far behind myself. To be honest, the main reason I haven’t already is because I am still learning things from “climbing the corporate ladder.” As soon as I feel I no longer am… I should have enough by then to call it a day.

    As somebody who has perviously taken entrepreneurial and investment risks, some of which worked out and some of which did not, I would like to offer you this advice: don’t risk killing the golden goose that you have. You’ll need to take risks, to take bets. But don’t bet the farm. Even if it means you have to pass on the dream opportunity. I was “there” 18 months ago, and in my nirvana I took a risk that risked my financial freedom. It didnt work out, and I had to go back to working. NOT fun.

    1. Thanks for your advice Jason. Do you have a post about the risk I can read and learn more from?

      I don’t bet the farm on anything anymore because I want to preserve my nut I took so long to build. My NW is split 30/35/35 in CDs, stocks, and real estate. Online biz is the X Factor.

      What would be my Golden Goose that I would risk in your mid?

  20. Way to go Sam! I’m always glad to see someone else join the ranks of ‘doing my own thing’ retirement (I’m not there yet, but I’m in a very nice part way there situation). Enjoy the new world and I look forward to hearing how it goes.


    1. Thanks Tim. I have to say that it’s really the journey that is the MOST fun! Now that I’m here, I will enjoy it probably for several months, but will likely have other goals and work towards them just as diligently. Hope you get there when you do!

  21. This is awesome, Sam! Congrats to you for finally making it happen! I’m excited to see where you take things from here.

  22. I branched out on my own a few years ago after being laid off by Bank of America. I love it. While there is a lot of stress it still allows me freedom and that can’t be beat. I am looking forward to reading your book when it comes out.

  23. In the past few months, it seemed you were itching to reach this point in time. Contrary to many others who quit to persue enterpreunerial life, I think you have almost 0 downside…ie I don’t see you desperately running back into the market if all else fails.

    It’s well deserved and earned, enjoy your new retirement!

    1. Thanks Mich. Definitely been itching, just like I’ve been itching to release my book. However, I am very methodical and would like to get things right the first time around.

      I don’t know about 0 downside, b/c if I die tomorrow, I will kick myself for not retiring earlier and really experiencing the max freedom retirement allows!

  24. Hi Sam,

    I don’t consider myself retired, but I am still on my own, and I’m still loving it. :)

    I’m not shocked about your decision at all, because I could feel that you were building to this point over time. I’m really happy for you, and I believe that you deserve and have earned your way to where you are. Thanks for being such a great inspiration to the rest of us, and for me, personally.

    Good luck in the adventure, and keep us posted! :)

    1. Will definitely keep you posted Kevin! It’s a surreal feeling to not HAVE to work on anything anymore to survive and be happy. Being able to engineer my layoff was a massive cherry on the cake for me. I didn’t calculate this financial windfall AT ALL when I was thinking of calling it quits. I don’t think many people realize this either and that’s why I’ve writing my book.

      Your question on “being a good performer, so how can I?” is addressed!


  25. How long more you got? We’re on the same track it looks like! I wanted to put in 18 years and be REALLY set when I was 40… but it just so happened that blogging came along and accelerated my plans. Thx!

  26. I’m DYING. This is amazing. I am so excited to hear about your new business ventures, and also see your book.

    Wow, I am kind of in shock. What a great story….. I am so so excited for your new adventure.

    1. Thanks Kathryn! From your previous comments, it sounds like you might be taking a leap of faith too?! Folks in your industry will love the book. One of the most cyclical industries on earth! Boom shakalaka!

    1. Thanks Steve! Maybe it’s b/c I respond to your e-mails quickly, making it seem like I have nothing else to do with my life?

      I’m sure you can take 10 weeks off a year, or at once. You got your online store!

  27. Money Reasons

    Congratulation friend :)

    Based on your energy and knack for entrepreneurship, I wouldn’t be surprised if you surpass your old “employed” income in 5 years!

    It will be exciting to see how your develop, and where and what you do from this point out.

    As I remember Evan once saying, it’s all about choices…

    Have fun in your new adventure in life!

    1. Appreciate it Don. It’s been a fun journey since we started hasn’t it? It would be fantastic if I could pull off the feat of matching my day job income in 5 years, but I won’t hold my breath. It’s not my goal as I’m happy with the 50%, but if it happens, fantastic!

      Hope all is well and you are still enjoying your mortgage free living!

      1. Yes, it has been fun :)

        The problem with being debt free is that I now need to put that saved money from no payment to work… So maybe I will use some leveraged debt to buy assets…

        Good luck with your new book, sounds exciting!

  28. Hi Sam,

    Yes- it is Bangkok. I have also changed jobs internally where I am now the Head of Sales for our larger business unit across Asia- about $150M USD of business per year. I travel to Singapore somewhat often.

    I have been playing music as a hobby lately (the New Years resolutions finally got to me)

    Here is a tune that I recently did, including playing all the instruments and vocals. Maybe we can have a jam session when you are in town?




  29. Hi Sam,

    Big congrats to you on achieving this plan that was long in the making…!

    You are correct, engineering a severance is definitely the way to go. May I also say that having a big severance liability can cause a company to keep you on rather then let you go so if you can downshift into a job with less responsibility but the same salary this is another good option as well.

    Will your travels bring you Thailand / SE Asia? If so I’d like to buy you dinner and a few drinks!


    1. Howdy Mike,

      I would LOVE to take you up on the offer to catch up for a meel and Singha beer! Bangkok right? I seriously need to start taking some long vacations now that I’m untethered and can work from anywhere. How long do you plan to be out there?

  30. Sunil l Expedited Wealth Building through Entrepreneurship

    very refreshing. congratulations to you Sam. well worth it give all the hard work you’ve put in. I don’t think I can ever post at 25% of the rate you do. all the best, and looking forward to more

    1. Thanks Sunil. I’ve got to learn from you and Mike from TFB on creating more online passive/sustainable income!

      I only post about 3-4 times a week, but my queue is so damn long now, some posts are getting stale! I should just publish them!

  31. Congrats Sam! I just only recently found your site, but it has been a tremendous inspiration for me. Your article on “30 year vs ARM mortgages” even convinced my friend to refinance his home mortgage to a 5-1 ARM (in spite of me actually disagreeing with you!).

    My goal once (yes, once, not if) I retire early, is to pursue a Phd or at least a masters in a field that interests me (not for career growth). Do you know of anyone with a blog who has followed that path in early retirement? Would love to get some inspiration and guidance from them as well.

    The fact that your # of entries will only go up as a result of your ER, is truly the best part.

    1. Hi Mate, your friend is a smart, smart person! :) I am an absolute fanatic when it comes to studying the bond market, US Treasury yields, and refinancing mortgages. He will be so happy to have saved tons of money.

      Have you read this post on the PhD yet? If not, have a read.

      I don’t know of anybody who has retired early and then got a PhD in the PF sphere yet. It’s what I’m thinking, but it is a looong slog.

  32. BE @ BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog

    Sam….well done indeed. Have you considered lecturing at the college level? The advice you have for that age group is beyond valuable.

  33. Congratulations!! I can’t wait for the increased number of articles we will be getting. I wish you the best! I am sure you will do great, you seem to have everything under control. :D

  34. Huge congrats on this major milestone! You are a living example of what many of us are trying to work toward. I am excited to see all that FS and the Yakezie will become with your full time attention, or two full times considering what you were doing before was already full time.

    Excited to see you in September for an in-person progress report.

    1. Thanks Eric! I need to hire someone to revamp Yakezie.com and squash all the bugs. I was hoping one person would, but she’s having some personal issues and has been gone for months. Hopefully she will return!

      I don’t think MUCH is going to change on FS. Just more content and better ways to be more commercial without being too commercial.

      1. I know that situation with the Yakezie.com stuff. Anyone else in the Yakezie that has that skill set in mind? If not, could always look to the FinCon community or chat with the developers behind Wise Bread.

  35. RichUncle EL

    Congrats Sam, What a great accomplishment. I couldn’t agree more that working for yourself is the way to go. The efforts we make are multiplied 10 times over when we are working for ourselves.

    1. It’s true. I can work 5 hours straight on my own stuff without getting up to drink, pee, or eat. At work, I can go for probably 1.5 hours before I need to walk around. It’s interesting to notice the difference!

  36. Sam congrats! I know you’ll excel in this new phase of your life. You’ve busted your butt so you could retire and do things on your own terms. Look forward to following along!

  37. Thanks Thomas. If you were beaten up as much as I was at age 22-23 in my first job (Chapter 13), you would have saved liked crazy as well!

    I really enjoy executing. Succeed or fail, I will execute the plan and reassess.

  38. Congratulation! I knew this day was coming soon for you. I was telling a few people at WDS yesterday that I’m pretty sure Sam will pull the chord soon. :) I couldn’t attend so I just dropped by to say hi. I wish you the best for the book. It sounds like it could be a great success because that’s a specialized niche. Have you approach any publisher?
    This mean you can make it to FinCon in Denver right?

  39. Congratulations, Sam! I know you’ve had a plan to retire early for quite some time and it’s terrific that you’ve done it – it’s very inspirational!

    I’m looking forward to your book and can’t wait to see what projects are on the horizon for you. I might be in need of your “new” services soon. ;)

    1. Thanks Jennifer! Oh the temptation to go sit on a beach and drink mai tais all day! ha. I wrote the book so that it can really be a resource that one can keep going back to in order to profitably quit their jobs. Let me know after you’re done!

  40. Congratulations! And here I thought you were unconvinced of MMM’s story! I’m curious to hear about your extended travels and what you end up doing in retirement. Maybe this will be my story in another 10 years of saving 60+% of my net income.

    I hear you on the curse of making too much money in your day job. That makes me reluctant to try anything outside of my day job. Getting a raise or larger bonuses is almost worth more than what I could earn outside of my day job.

    I’m curious about the part where you talk about engineering your layoff, particularly: “I would even take a high performing subordinate if they approached me the right way because letting people go is difficult.” Why exactly would you prefer to layoff a high performing employee than to let them quit on their own accord? In case they go rogue before they quit?

    1. Thanks Leigh. Whenever I do something, I really do my best to see the other side of the equation. The Dark Side To Early Retirement is my attempt to do that. I received a wonderful amount of backlash which I took into consideration. Namely:

      * A lot of insecurity
      * A lot of second guessing
      * A need to justify why they retired
      * A lot of hiding e.g. “I quit” where in reality, it was a layoff or firing
      * etc

      I’m not a proponent of retiring before one maximizes their potential. I think you’ll love the bok because I go into your question in a good amount of detail.

  41. Financial Independence

    WoW. You achieved your financial independence! Congratulations!!

    I have been working since I am 13 and not nearly ready to retire ; -)

    Beautifully written post : -) What is your current net worth?

  42. Congratulations. How exciting!! Wow you really are amazing. I don’t know if I have ever met anyone else who can be as inspiring and motivating as you. You really can prevail and you have up to now so just keep going. Time flies especially when you are distracted with new things. You are an amazing writer and really know how to reach people. I wish you all the best!!

    1. Thanks Miss T, you are too kind. I’m sure you have met many other people more motivating and inspiring than me!

      And thank you for your generous $100 contribution to the Yakezie Writing Contest! I’m announcing the winners tomorrow.

      Thanks again!

  43. Sam, does your book disclose how you were able to save that much every year out of curiosity?
    You know, did you eradicate cable, lower heat and/or A/C, or just go without them? Did you just eat Raaman noodles for the last 13 years?

    In any case, you deserve a big high-5 for accomplishing your goal and retiring or semi-retiring as it were. :-)

    1. Hi Chris, I provide a detailed savings chart and how much I was going to make this year before deciding to engineer my layoff. You can find the whole story in Chapter 13, but read the chapters in order first OK? :)

      I have cable, AC, and love crab garlic infused ramen noodles! I also have a couple tennis rackets, shoes, and a really sweet car named Moose which is now 12 years old!

      1. I have to LOL Sam, because some of the people I talk to say “Didn’t you just get electricity in your area last week”, because of how rural the area is that I live in.

        As for the older vehicles, we “enjoy” them as well. Our van is now on her 8th year, and my car is on it’s 6th year. That’s after getting rid of our previous vehicles that were 13 & 15 years respectively.

        Where’s a link for the book at anyway?

        1. Two vehicles? You are a baller! I wish I could have two, but alas, my garage in SF is not big enough.

          On the book? Soon! Check back manana. I passed out last night watching Game of Thrones on DVD.

  44. Sam, you seem like such a high flyer and I’m not in your league but it’s on my “to-do” list to hit my goals too…sometime before I die – LOL!
    Wish you all the best and time does fly….only yesterday I wa sin my 30’s!! Perseverance is my problem as I’m a changer. I love change and the uncertainity it brings. It’s hard for me to stay stuck in perserverance mode alone….feels like monotony!

    1. Lower flyer I am, Lucille! I love flying under the radar. I really don’t need much to be happy. I want to do my own stuff before I die, and I KNOW time accelerates the older we get. Thanks for your well wishes!

  45. Congratulations on your new phase in life. I’ve gotten some good food for thought from your blog and it’s been interesting to see the evolution of this site over the past couple years. Looks like you have a full plate of activities and I’m looking forward to reading more.

    1. Great to hear Lisa. Always nice to read a comment from a long time reader. Perhaps you will share your retirement story here one day, unless, you already are retired as well!

  46. Bret @ Hope to Prosper

    Huge Congrats Sam.

    I am mega jealous, because I am still quite a ways away from my early retirement. I am hoping to free myself within the next 5-10 years.

  47. Congrats Sam! It is always exciting for me to see someone who I have followed for so long doing exactly what he or she wants.

    Did you get any push back from people in your real life?

    1. Thanks Evan. It’s been a fun journey. Lot’s of late nights, but worth it!

      Family and friends have been very supportive. We’ve been talking about it for a couple years so we were all prepared. My parents have always encouraged me to do whatever I felt was best. They know my income buffers, which gives them comfort I won’t be starving.

  48. Darwin's Money

    Congrats on the big move! Can’t wait to hear all the details and what the future holds!

  49. Wow – that is awesome. Like Andrea, I thought it was going to be a few more months from some of your earlier indications. Either way – congrats! I can’t wait to see what “self-employed sam” can do with more free time and even more determination. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  50. Will do! And thanks for really criticizing my article on “How To Retire Early And Never Have To Work Again!” It gave me some good motivation to prove that it can be done.

    I always enjoying reading your business update posts.

  51. Congratulations Sam! I wouldn’t normally advice anyone to just follow their dreams and quit their day job …because only the person knows what he or she is capable of! But from reading your posts you do seem like a cautious, level headed person and I’m sure you’ve considered all possibilities.

    All the very best! Hope your post-retirement story will be an inspiration to all! (I’m sure it will be!)

  52. Great article. Thanks. I loved that you really busted it to reach the point you are at now.
    Can I get updates on future posts?

    1. Scandinavia – boy do I have great memories of my time there. I lived off bread and cheese or bread and nutella for 2 weeks – what great memories!!!!!!

      Scandinavia is expensive but well worth every, Krona, etc.

  53. It’s kinda crazy how quickly time flies huh Jeremy? I remember that phone call as well and appreciate your help in a technical issue that I’ve now forgotten!

    It’s tough in the beginning but it gets better over time. Just needs pushing through the dip as they say!

  54. First off, HUGE CONGRATS…good for you!

    But second, I have to disagree with a little bit of this. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t consider retirement owning and operating multiple businesses. Sure, you have cut your ties to the corporate 9-5 (yay!) but I don’t think this can be considered retirement. You’re obviously a hard worker and will continue to work, hard. That’s an occupation change, not retirement.

    1. No argument here Barry. The biggest joy for me is doing what I want, when I want. Money is just a by product. I’ve always endeavored to just do what I enjoy, and the financial aspect has turned out well.

      If I didn’t have an online business, and told you that I was just going to travel and play golf all day and live off my passive income, what that be better for your retirement definition?

  55. You are going to rock, Sam! I’ve taken sabbatical before for about three years. I built a business and sold it in late 2008 within few years. It was not difficult for me to get work even at the height of the financial crisis. As you’ve said, employers are willing to give you work if they see that you took risk to go on your own. You’ve inspired me again to take sabbatical probably in next few years.

      1. I was fortunate to profit from two major deals. 1) I purchased 1 100 rooms Comfort Inn from the bank, remodeled and sold it for a 500K profit. I can’t believe that I sold it while Lehman was collapsing. In fact, buyer wanted to walk away from the deal, so to entice him I gave him 30K at the closing. 2) I built a hotel consortium for mid scale hotels for hotel supplies and services. I made hefty profit by selling that business as well. Overall, 2008 was the best year for me. I was lucky..

        1. Nice! $500,000 is a good profit. Is that short term or longer term capital gains tax? How often does this type of profit occur? Would be awesome if it was every year or so!

        2. I didn’t pay a dime in taxes. I used 1031 exchange to invest capital into other commercial real estate and deferred taxes. 1031 exchange is an optional way to defer capital gains tax on an investment property that is considered “like kind” and the definition of like kind is rather broad.
          Of course, this doesn’t happen every year. :)

  56. Hi Sam,
    I am a new reader. I happened to see your comments on my brother’s site, lifeandmyfinances.com. Congratulations on your success. I am new to the blogging world – about a year into it. My day job is gratifying, but time consuming, so I haven’t been able to really get a good grasp on all the possibilities of blogging.
    You are an inspiration!
    Blessings on your continued adventures.

    1. Hi Kevin, welcome to my site! Pretty cool both of you guys are blogging. Are you as tall as Derek? Can’t believe he is 6’8″! Will have to check out your site too. Thx

  57. Congrats, Sam! I’m excited to read the book and also to follow along on your new adventure. Like Andrea said, I’m surprised by how fast this seems but I guess when you look at it, you have actually be planning for a very long time. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Hank! That is the one thing I’ve noticed… how quickly everything moves, and how much we can do in a relatively short period of time!

      I remember the day I started grad school and the day of graduation. I couldn’t believe it. The three year grad school part-time duration feels pretty similar to the FS three year history.

  58. Andrea @SoOverDebt

    Congratulations, Sam! I feel like I missed something – I had no idea you were making this move so soon. I can’t wait to read your book and see where the journey takes you! Welcome to the glorious world of self-employment. :)

    1. Thanks Andrea. Perhaps I could have taken one more year to execute my plan, but I felt after two years of planning, saving, and formulating, now is as good a time as ever to execute!

      I was pleasantly surprised on the upside regarding leaving my job and its financial benefits so I was determined to write a book to help expound its benefits, especially for those who were already planning on making a change!

      Thx for the support!

  59. Congrats! I am one of those who started from a scratch once, leaving behind a great career, my home country, and coming to the US with $200 in my pocket. I know the journey was not easy but so worth it. In your case, you are starting on a different path, but at least this path is well paved. :) I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to read your book. I am excited for you, Sam!

    1. Starting with little to nothing makes the triumph that much sweeter doesn’t it? Bring on the water and ramen noodles I say! At least it will help me keep the weight off! :)

      Thx for your support!

  60. Congrats! That’s amazing, and I am proud of you for taking the leap. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures (which I think will be multiplied..) in retirement!

  61. Congrats Sam!
    Your story is not only amazing, but is inspirational to all of us. I’m glad you decided to pursue your dream of becoming an entrepreneur. A goal that many strive, yet don’t reach. Being in the workforce FT for the past 8 years, I’m nowhere near your goal, but I’m happy where I’m in life right now. Both my online/offline businesses have seen continued growth, and my FT job keeps me busy, including a successful recent salary/bonus negotiation, plus I’m finally going to get the corner office with a window (move should happen within the next 1-2 weeks). I’m stoked!!

    Your sacrifice has definitely paid off. All the early times at work, studying, starting a side-business w/FT job, and the ability to get up after getting knocked down has finally paid off. I’m so happy for you, and definitely deserve it.

    Next time I purchase the 2013 Edition of Webster’s Dictionary, next to the word ‘Determination’, there will be a logo of FS with the initials S.D. – San Francisco.

    Congrats Sam, and wish you nothing but the very best in your new journey.

    1. Congrats on getting the corner office! Progress in one’s career is definitely a very rewarding and exciting experience. I basically topped out after 10 years and did the same work for the next three years until I decided to do something new.

      Thanks for your support and it’s going to be fun to see where things go. I will definitely write about my fears, elations, and other things I learn in this journey like how I wrote about my sabbatical.


  62. I’ve been living off of passive income for a few years now and have been doing my own entrepreneurial ventures. I think you said it right when you said it will be tough to actually vacation as much as you’d like because you enjoy work so much! I love working on my projects and finding new ventures, and it makes it hard to stop. It’s truly an addiction. Thanks for the read. It’s always nice to be reinvigorated with stories like this.

  63. Congratulations! I’ll continue to follow you on your “quest” for independent fulfillment. Please do tell, though, do you have a great health insurance plan? I wouldn’t want a health incident to drive you back into the commercial work force.

  64. Congratulations Sam. Now the adventure begins! Retirement means the luxury of time which is the most important you will ever have. You will have the time to think about things you read, see or experience. Use it well because before you know it it is gone.

    1. Time is something I think about all the time. Just yesterday I was in my 20’s, and now I’m in my mid 30’s. Before I know it, I’ll be in my mid 40’s, and it just keeps going faster and faster and faster.

      I want to use time as wisely as possible!

  65. Congrats on getting out of the rat race early. I really enjoy reading your site and I’m looking forward to reading more about where your new path in life takes you.

  66. Congratulations Sam!

    Seems like you might be working harder in “retirement” than most “working people” work!

    Enjoy your new freedom!!!

      1. Even 50% is a generous percentage.

        Congrats Sam!! I thought my goal of retiring after working 15 years was aggressive but you just proved me wrong. I’ve only worked for 6 years..still a long way to go.

        1. Hiro: I’ll complete my plan, with some extra padding for comfort, after 11 years. Had I gone spartan, I would have been finished after 8. It’s possible.

    1. David M: The difference between “working harder” after retirement than in the job is as Sam said: most people don’t spend most of their time at jobs actually working. It’s all about keeping up appearances and “looking busy.”

      But when you’re doing something you’re truly passionate about…… :)

  67. Congrats Sam!!! Way to go on starting such an exciting and adventurous new chapter in your life. You inspire so many of us and I’m glad to hear you are taking a leap of faith and following your dreams to be a full time entrepreneur. :)

    I plan to continue as a part time entrepreneur for a few more years as I keep building up my savings and my skill sets. Fortunately I am in a good spot with my day job right now so I’m happy to keep working lots of hours for now. It’ll be nice when I can travel more often though as there are still so many places I want to see. That’ll be sweet if you travel 8-10 weeks a year now that you’re retired!
    You’ll have to give me tips on the best places to go see.

    And I am so excited about your book launch too. What an incredible accomplishment! As a blogger, I give you mad props for writing a book of that length. Phew I can’t imagine how much work it takes to create a book. I’m glad you decided to go the self publishing route! Congrats again!

    1. Thanks Sydney! You are the best and most dedicated editor I know. Couldn’t have finished the book without you. When you retire from your corporate job, you should seriously set up an editorial service!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *