As we come to the end of the year, I want to highlight the top posts published in 2018. This year I spent more time than normal writing cautionary articles partly because I felt the good times were going away. It was important to share my growing concerns about the economy in order to better prepare the FS community.
My first hint of financial worry started in May 2017 when the asking rental price for my SF rental house dropped from $9,000/month to $7,500/month, a 16.7% decline after 45 days of diligent searching. May/June are generally great months to find tenants due to the end of the school season. After searching far and wide, there was only one party willing to pay $7,500, a family of six.
At the time, the drop in rents had not yet shown up in real estate prices, so I decided to give up my plan to own the property forever and sell. As a new dad, I didn't want to deal with tenant hassles, maintenance issues, and pay $23,000 a year in property taxes anymore. I really struggled with this decision at the time, but in retrospect, I'm glad I simplified.
On November 14, 2017, I decided to publish: It Feels A Lot Like 2007 Again: Reflecting On The Previous Peak. My hope was to give people who had never experienced a downturn a glimpse at history in order to prepare for a potential downturn.
Given the rocky times we experienced in 2018, it's no wonder why some of the most popular posts on Financial Samurai are also some of the most cautious. I know I won't win many friends by talking about negative things. But showing the dark side in order to provide a more balanced view is better than always being a cheerleader.
Not everybody can buy and hold forever because not everybody can live forever or want to hoard their wealth forever.
The Most Popular Posts Of 2018
Here are the most popular posts by traffic, comments, and social media shares.
It's Time To Start Worrying About The Housing Market Again – Published on Feb 2, 2018, I wanted to share the warning signs of rising inventory, rising interest rates, lower turnover, and weakening prices. I was on the ground looking at property every weekend because it's a hobby. Given I had recently sold my SF rental house in June 2017, I felt a little conflicted writing this post because it might seem like I was not being objective. But I still own two properties in SF and one in Lake Tahoe.
Financial Samurai 2018 Passive Income Update – This post was picked up by Business Insider and CNBC, hence its popularity. I believe financial independence means having 100% of your expenses covered by passive income. Once this is achieved, any extra income earned is gravy.
Why Households Need To Earn $300K To Live A Middle Class Lifestyle Today – This post got picked up by Yahoo and seemed to enrage a lot of folks, despite a detailed expense chart showing how quickly $300K disappears. I'm aiming for $300K in passive income before our son is eligible to attend kindergarten, hence why I did a deep dive into this budget.
What If You Buy A House At The Top Of The Market – Buying property at the top of the market could be devastating, because most people buy property with debt. This post was published on April 7 because it was starting to become very clear to me coastal city real estate was slowing. I shared my story of what happened when I bought near the top in 2007.
How To Make Lots Of Money During The Next Economic Downturn – The more the stock market went down, the more people found this post useful. The post was published on June 11, again to prepare the community for potentially tough times ahead.
The Negatives Of Early Retirement Nobody Likes Talking About – This post was picked up by Business Insider, Marketwatch, MSN and Yahoo. It's an honest reflection of early retirement life that few people are willing to share.
Who Makes A Million Dollars A Year Or More: Exploring The Top 0.1% – If you want to be rich, you might as well work in one of these industries. The other key is to last for at least 10+ years in these industries.
The Best Financial Move I Ever Made Requires No Skill – A story about the importance of doing what few others are willing to do. This is one of my favorite posts.
Why $5 Million Is Barely Enough To Retire Early With A Family – To retire early, you need lots of capital to produce enough passive income in this environment. If you want to retire in a high cost area of the country and raise a family, needing $5 million is not unreasonable. The funny thing is, after the 4Q2018 stock market correction, someone with $5 million might only have $4 million now!
Be Rich Not Famous: The Joy Of Being A Nobody – There seems to be an obsession with fame and popularity nowadays. I understand the temptation, but fame is an empty feeling that is overvalued. Otherwise, why do you think so many famous people still have problems despite millions of adoring fans?
How The Rich Get Richer: Strategies For Competing In A Rigged Game – Like it or not, the rich have more advantages than the rest of us. This article helps even the playing field just a little bit.
Achieving Financial Independence On A Modest Income: $40K In Manhattan – I have noticed a wave of growing anger towards folks with higher paying jobs. In this post, I reflect on my time living in a studio with my friend because that's all I could afford. It's important to adopt a strong money mindset, no matter what your income.
How Much Investment Risk Should You Take In Retirement – A deep dive into various returns by portfolio composition. The point of this post was to point out that even with a heavy bond allocation, you still did quite well over time. 2018 proved to be a good time to own bonds once again.
Posts That Deserve More Love
Here are some other noteworthy posts that were published later in the year and either didn't have enough time to mature or were overlooked.
* After-Tax Portfolio Amounts By Age If You Want To Comfortably Retire Early – The post highlights the importance of developing a large after-tax portfolio beyond your pre-tax retirement accounts for early retirement. I think some folks pursuing early retirement don't realize it's their after-tax investment accounts that count the most.
* Wedding Spending Rules To Follow If You Don't Want To End Up Broke And Alone – Given my age, I'm observing a lot more of my contemporaries getting a divorce. These fun wedding rules may help couples get a better start.
* Way Of The Financial Samurai: Core Principles For Achieving Financial Independence – Here are my five core principles I believe any financial independence seeker should follow. They will also help you lead a better life.
* Personal Lessons Learned Since The 2008 Financial Crisis – This post was published in September 17 and was my final attempt to warn the FS community about taking too much investment risk.
* Are You Willing To Accept $1,000,000 To Go To Public School? – As a new father, I find it amazing that if my son went to public school rather than private school, I would have saved enough in education fees to give him a $1,000,000 check upon college graduation.
* The Ideal Retirement Age To Minimize Regret And Maximize Happiness – Time is more precious than money. But you don't want to exit the workforce too early and regret your decision. Here's a logical framework.
* When Earning $1 Million A Year Still Isn't Enough To Retire Early – Although $1 million is a lot of money, it still can go quite quickly if you live in an expensive city with a family to raise. Nobody making $1 million is hurting, but you'll be surprised by how unhappy many people with such income levels are.
* Move Over FIRE, Welcome To DIRE: Delay, Inherit, Retire, Expire – I'm guessing the DIRE movement won't gain mass popularity because it's not full of rah-rah positivity. But I do hope this poignant, and perhaps humorous post can help save people who are drunkenly delirious about early retirement.
Just Gotta Keep On Going
2018 was a solid year for production. I published 144 posts and 160+ pages. A page is like a post that doesn't show up on the homepage or in my public subscription feeds because I don't want to inundate readers with random thoughts or business related type posts. Here's an example of a page: Cutie Baby: A New Lullaby.
I also began to regularly publish a private newsletter once a week from about once a month or two in 2017. It ended up saving me tens of thousands of dollars in investment losses as I worked out my investment framework. My goal since I started Financial Samurai in 2009 was to publish 3X a week on average for 10 years. I'm excited to have almost reached the finish line!
From a work standpoint, you will experience no greater pride than creating something from nothing. This joy is perhaps the greatest reason why I continue to write so much.
I'm lucky that writing doesn't feel like a chore. Instead, writing is a way to express my creativity, which is freeing. I enjoy challenging myself to think differently, no matter how much flak I get. Having the freedom to be unique is one of the greatest gifts America has to offer. Don't take it for granted.
Thanks everybody for reading and sharing my work all year. It's been an honor. If you have any favorite posts I didn't mention, I'd love to hear them. Next up will be my year in review.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!