The Best And Overlooked Financial Samurai Posts Of 2018

Best Financial Samurai Posts Of 2018As 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!

Build A CD Or Bond Step Stool Not A Ladder – A new terminology I came up with to highlight the savviness of investing in short duration CDs or bonds in a flattening yield curve environment.

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!

About The Author

25 thoughts on “The Best And Overlooked Financial Samurai Posts Of 2018”

  1. 144 posts! Your site is one of my favorites but I hope you have a team of ghost writers. If not I’m going to suggest cutting way back on the volume and spending more time with your kid. At least that’s what I would do if I were you and didn’t need the money. Just a little honest feedback for what it’s worth.

  2. Nothing to really say other than Happy New Year, Sam! While I agree with some articles and disagree with some others, I can’t say I don’t find your blog as a whole entertaining and educational.

    And damn, 144 blog posts!? I wish I had those numbers. But, as you said in a reply to someone else, it’s easier to write a lot when you don’t have a full time job.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  3. You are amazing with your stream of fascinating, original, and well researched posts. I have been reading your posts throughout the year, and taking your warnings seriously.

    I am still mostly in stocks but have increased my cash hedge. I have pension and rental income so not dependent on stock portfolio for basic expenses.

  4. After reading FS for about the past 6 months it is time to reflect. It’s the end of the year after all.

    Based on references in FS comments, I have been reading MMM. Never followed it previously. After reading a few hours worth of material I was drained. Face punching, ridicule, and nambypambyisms combined with snappy comments on MMM. And profanity.

    I’m an adult, I use profanity, and I have have been engaged in a quarter century of work involving people doing bad things. I am then expected to stop their behavior. Profanity, bravado and chest pounding are nothing new. But it gets tiresome.

    Upon reflection, reading it in the MMM forum is not my cup of tea. It strikes me as a mixture of Ramsey ( who I enjoy a great deal ) meets doomsday preppers. Some amount of temperance or moderation is best long term.

    FS is a forum that evaluates personal finance in a way that acts as a catalyst for my own thought, as limited as that is. I don’t agree with it all the time, but I certainly enjoy it every time, just like Sex Panther cologne.

    FS is consistently thoughtful. FS doesn’t ridicule or engage in that type of Tom foolery. For that I say thank you.

    Be well and enjoy the New Year. May it be bountiful for you and your family.

      1. Punched, bitten, shot at not so much.

        Making breakfast for the family, Clint Eastwood westerns and Bruce lee, sign me up! Oh and slap happy bird dogs.

  5. Financial Samurai became one of my daily internet stops this year. i like the message board too. I often learn something on a post, and frequently disagree too. That’s how I know it’s good and that I’m learning something.

    1. Be wary that cash is a central bank liability. Reread Bernank’s 2002 speech. If things get bad enough…cash will be devalued.

  6. And they called me a conspiracy theorist all these years. Well, guess what I just heard on ABC news? “The Plunge Protection Team” was uttered. Not the “President’s Working Group for Financial Markets”, the formal name. They used the lingo us slobbering knuckledragging conspiratards have used all these years.

    Ah, it’s going to get bizarre, kiddos. What we will see when the crisis really gets rolling is something akin to a financial version of a Peter F Hamilton space naval battle with all kinds of exotic monetary weapons. They will nuke the currencies to stop asset deflation. You can bet on it.

  7. I think at this point we need to consider time resolution of the market. As you have said, the overall trend is “up and to the right,” and unless you have dire need for cash in the next year or two this won’t change. I find it interesting to look at a chart of the crash of ’87 now as a literal blip, because I lived through it and it didn’t feel that way. Minute-to-minute is far higher time resolution than year to year. I do feel bad for those who recently retired or who were expecting to, but that is why you need to do due diligence before you pull that trigger.

    No doubt the doomsters and commoditists of the apocalypse-industrial complex will come out in force proclaiming The End to all who will listen, but as you’ve also pointed out – commodities are one of the worst things to go long on. Also, if things go as bad as the extremists say, money/gold/bitcoin will be far less important than having food, potable water and a place you can defend. Who wants to live in that world? Who could live in that world?

  8. Neagtives of early retirement, DIRE and Be rich not famous were some of my favorite posts. :) congrats on publishing SO MUCH content. People who don’t write tend not to realize how much TIME and creativity that takes! You’ve had a great year of productivity and that’s worth celebrating!

  9. Thanks Same for Sharing! I found your site within the last few months and it has helped me tremendously. It also motivated me to create my own financial blog. I’m excited to learn more from your wisdom and continue towards our goals.

  10. Your publishing consistency and quantity is amazing are you sure you are human.

    Lots of uncertainty in the economy right now. In a lot of the investing forums and Facebook groups I am in people are flipping out.

    I haven’t even checked my account balances, nothing I am worried about it will sort out and we will have some buying opportunities.

    Have a good holiday.

    1. Hi Derrick, when you’ve got no job, it’s much easier to write a lot :)

      May you continue to not check your account balances. We’re almost -20% now from the peak, but if you’re still in the accumulation phase, things should turn out alright if you stay the course.

  11. Your best post was the recent one in which you inferred that the Fed Chair was misguided – he’s just marching to the same drummer from a different era with a $100 million wall to protect him from the hoi polloi. And What if the Treasury’s Secretary’s calls were not just to calm the markets – what if there is now a real concern as implied in the Treasury’s public release.

    The law says the Fed Chair can be fired for cause, he does not need to be impeached, and we may just be there.

    Merry Christmas and I would pass if anyone suggests Aquaman as a holiday movie, even though the underwater theme seems more than appropriate.

    1. Yeah, it’s too bad JP wasn’t more dovish. He’s helped cause a growing crisis of confidence now that could easily unwind years of gains.

      I suggest folks take how much they’ve lost in their investments and divide it by their monthly after tax savings income and savings amount. Turn your financial losses into LOST TIME.

      Because at the end of the day, time is so much more valuable than money.

      Will skip Aquaman! Can’t afford the $15 movie tickets anyway!


      1. All they had to say was data dependent and leave out the unnecessary two more hikes in 2019. There is a stunning disconnect.

        As my wife likes to say, Intelligent people are often not Smart.

  12. Merry Christmas Sam and thank you all for all that you do! I appreciate your insight, conservative stance, and thinking outside the box! Always look forward to new content and ideas that help shape my views and provide new investing frameworks. Here’s to an amazing 2019!

  13. Living in Laura's Dream

    We are going to lose DB and Commerz. I think this is the problem and why Munchkin called in the PPT today. It’s not the trade war, it’s the banks in Europe that is the crisis.

  14. Merry Christmas Sam and have a happy New Year as well.

    144 posts is quite a feat. I think I am going to hit 100 posts myself right before the new year and realize how much of an effort it is to consistently put out content.

    Looking forward to what you have in store for us in 2019

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