The Best Personal Finance Articles Of 2015

The Best Of Financial Samurai 2015Roughly 170 posts were published in 2015 on Financial Samurai. Each post takes anywhere from 3 – 10 hours to produce on average. Even after they are published, they are constantly edited for new insights from the community.

Every single post is written based off first hand experience and extensive research. I'm a big believer in writing from a point of authority. Pontificating at times is fun, but money is a little too important not to be taken seriously. If I don't have enough knowledge on an interesting subject, I'll invite someone who does to guest post. For new readers, you can check out my background here.

The Financial Samurai community is one of the financially savvy communities around. I strongly believe there is a positive network effect that pushes those in the community to do better. 45% of you make over $100,000 a year, 40% of you have saved over $500,000 for retirement, and 23% of you have a net worth over $1 million. You guys constantly provide new insights and take wealth building seriously. Keep up the great work!

Without further delay, here are the most popular posts by category. They are categorized by The Others, A Kick In The Pants, Retirement Dreaming, Invest For Glory, Real Estate Tycoon, Taxes Be Gone, and Personal. 


* Scraping By On $500,000 A Year: Why It’s So Hard To Escape The Rat Race – With over 200 comments, this post struck a nerve with the many families who don't make $500,000 a year and still manage to do just fine.

* The Unfair Competitive Advantage Of The Wealthy: Being Genetically Frugal – Readers weren't too happy to hear that wealthy people might just be better at accumulating money because they don't waste it on things they can do themselves, like cleaning their own house!

* The Top One Percent Income Levels By State – It's interesting to see what income level is required to be in the top 1% by state given the cost of living is so different.

* Who Spends Over $100,000 A Year On Rent? Apparently All Types Of People! – It was fascinating to profile the various people who came by my rental. One was even an MLB player who ended up winning the World Series with Kansas City after being traded from the Athletics mid-season.

* It’s Virtually Impossible To Escape The Allure Of Money – A female intern frowns on me for being so focused on money, saying she wants to change the world. Yet, she joins one of the largest Private Equity firms after business school solely for the money! WTF.

* Billionaires, They’re Just Like Us – This is the perfect juxtaposition post between being rich and not rich. On the one hand, I'm driving for ~$35/hour for Uber. On the other hand, I'm getting invited to a VVIP event with some of the wealthiest people in the Bay Area, including the CEO of Uber.


* Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working Minimum Wage Jobs – I wrote this post especially for those who like to complain about their jobs, their financial situation, their lack of freedom, and other people's good fortune. You have no idea how good you have it.

* Suck It Up Already! Suffering Is A Rite Of Passage – My response to all the crying from ex-Amazon employees who said working there making good money was so difficult on their lives. Wah. Cry me a river. Never talk smack about your ex-employer, at least not publicly.

* Are You Too Proud To Be Rich? When Uber Drivers Make More Than Most Uber Employees – It was awesome to see all these first generation immigrants crush it through hustle. The juxtaposition between the private school attending Uber employees and the public school or no college educated Uber top referrers was a dream come true for this writer to report on.

* Income Profiles Of Financially Free People – This is one of my favorite posts because it shows how everyday people are making more money than many institutionalized people think possible. There is way more money out there than you know folks. Stop being so narrow minded.

* Ranking The Best Passive Income Investments – Everyone needs to be developing various passive income streams for financial freedom. I rank the post popular and tell you why.

* Average Student Loan Debt Is At A Record High – Where’s The Crisis? – It seems like there's more a crisis of desire to pay back loans than actually having too much loans given the corresponding post college employment percentages and income levels. What we find through the comments is that it's those who take on debt and don't finish college who are most in trouble.


* It’s Impossible To Stay Retired Once You Retire Early – If you have the fortitude to retire early, I don't think you'll be able to stay retired for very long. You'll just get way too antsy.

* The Health Benefits Of Early Retirement Are Priceless – It's amazing how much chronic pain goes away once you leave a day job you don't love. Stress kills!

* Once You Have F You Money, It’s Hard To Tell Others To F Off! – Plenty of people fantasize about having FU money, and actually going back to people who wronged them to tell them to F off. But, it's much harder than you think.

* Which States Are Best For Retirement? – I do a thorough analysis based on taxes, weather, and the number of mobile millionaires to come up with an objective ranking of which states are best.

* Is A Backdoor Roth IRA A Good Move For Higher Income Earners? – I've been against contributing to a Roth IRA for a while, but am doing my best to see the other side.


* Should I Buy Bonds? Wealthy People Don’t – Here's an interesting case study where I've been able to analyze the portfolios of thousands of higher net worth individuals. The findings are pretty insightful by demographic.

* Accumulate More Wealth With An Investing Game Plan – I provide a step by step investing game plan you can follow to better mobilize your cash. Think about this post as a more robust dollar cost averaging strategy that makes you understand what you're doing.

* How To Invest And Profit In A Rising Interest Rate Environment – This is a good post to revisit now that the Fed is on its rate hike course. I look at various sectors that have tended to perform well in a rising interest rate environment.

* Is Your Risk Tolerance High Enough To Invest? Follow The Slaughter Rule – You don't really know your risk tolerance if you've never lost a lot of money before. Follow my rule to sleep better at night.

* How To Measure Fiscal Responsibility: Calculate Your FS-FR Score – Cars and houses, what more could people want? But if you've got an expensive car and are renting a crappy one bedroom apartment, you're probably fiscally irresponsible.


* Should I Buy A Home In A Rising Interest Rate Environment? Explaining The Fed Funds Rate – This is about as thorough of a primer on the history of interest rates and how you should think about a home purchase in such an environment as it gets online.

* How To Minimize Tenant Vacancy To Zero For Maximum Rental Income – I've been a landlord for over 10 years, and I've never had a vacancy for 120+ months in a row.

* Mortgage Payoff Fees And Procedures To Know – After sending my last check, I realized there are more things people must do to completely be mortgage free. Don't assume anything folks! Read the comments too.

* How To Get The Lowest Mortgage Interest Rate Possible – I've probably refinanced over 10 times across multiple properties since 2003. Each time, I've been able to lock in the lowest rate possible. For example, if my last attempt went through, I would have had a 2.25% 5/1 ARM mortgage.


* Income Limits Before Tax Deductions Start Phasing Out – Know your income limits so you can optimize your time spent working and enjoying life. There's no point killing yourself or getting married if the government is just going to take tens of thousands of dollars away.

* How To Save More Than $100,000 A Year Pre-Tax: Open A SEP-IRA Or Solo 401k – When I first published this article, so many people couldn't believe it to be true. This shows how much we can learn about tax policy. Check out the comments.

* Tax Penalties For High Income Earners: Net Investment Income, AMT, Medicare – More tax penalties if you earn over a certain amount. Yay!


* Perpetual Failure: The Reason Why I Continue To Save So Much – I experienced an avalanche of rejections in the 2H2015, so I thought I'd share them all with you, as well as large failures I experienced since graduating from college in 1999. So fun!

* The True Cost Of Building A Luxury Master Bathroom – Building this 165 square foot bathroom was a real PITA, but I chronicled every moment of it. It's really a dream come true. Just looking at the before and after pics makes me so happy.

* Time To Go Back To Work Full-Time Again? – I've been thinking about going back to work FT for at least six months because I've done everything I've wanted to do since leaving Corporate America in 2012. I feel there's too much slack with my time as a 38 yo. Thanks for all your feedback.

* Sweet Dreams Of Becoming A Millionaire Again – A lot of people don't give me credit for accumulating wealth because I worked in a well-paying finance job. For some reason, it's much more impressive to live off $30,000 a year or pay down massive amounts of debt instead. Instead of feeling bad about studying hard as a student, getting summer internships, and being the only one to get on a 6am bus from Williamsburg to DC for the finance career fair that ultimately landed me the job, I decided to challenge myself to make a new fortune starting from zero!

* Passive Income Update For Financial Freedom 2016 – This is my latest passive income/alternative income snapshot for 2016. I plan to start updating the reports twice a year.


* How Much Should I Have Saved By Age – With roughly 300,000 visits, my post about savings is the #1 most viewed post on Financial Samurai for 2015. It beat out the second most read post, The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person by about 15,000 visits. It's great to see the topics of Savings and Net Worth as the two most searched topics among English reading visitors!


I'd love to incorporate more guest posts from the community in 2016. I'm particularly interested in understanding the WHY or WHO. For example, why not just wake up an hour earlier to work on your side hustle for 365 days in a row if you want to reach financial independence sooner? Or, who is preventing you from being a better investor when the internet makes things so easy to get things done?

For those who've got incredible writing and grammar skills, yet aren't willing to produce original content, come on board the writing train and showcase your stuff! So many of you have helped make my writing better, now it's my chance to return the favor. You could get famous!

Although it seems a little daunting to replicate the number of posts I've highlighted for 2016, don't worry. I'm still having a lot of fun. The moment writing on FS stops being fun is the moment I'll spend time doing something new.

Thanks for reading and supporting Financial Samurai in 2015. The best gift you can give is to just tell a friend about an article you've enjoyed or share a post you like over social media.

Readers, are there any articles that stand out to you? How about any articles I did not highlight?



29 thoughts on “The Best Personal Finance Articles Of 2015”

  1. airportsyndrome

    Hey, FS.

    I have been reading your articles and have implemented some of your suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

    I am finally maxing out my deferred comp this year (36k for me and my wife). Question? What are your thoughts on HOA fees? My primary residence charges $170 a month. I was thinking of selling my current house and buying a different one with no HOA fees.

  2. I am in the same field as you. (almost 10 years in the financial industry) Just want to tell you I am really enjoy reading your articles. =) If you ever come down to LA, you should have a meet up with all the LA readers. That will fun…

      1. Sorry for the late reply, I do not check the comment that often. We can do a meet up in Ktown or downtown LA. =)

  3. Thanks for listing all the great posts! I’ve read many of them but commonly go back to them because I’m always learning and growing from them.

    Most of my net worth is locked into real estate, but I’ll be diversifying my income to include peer to peer lending (new in canada) and other financial vehicles, all inspired by your posts!

    I really like your style of writing, your adventure for trying out different contracting positions like uber (I can really relate to the multiple hats, I’ve had side hustles since graduating from engineering) and your mentality in keeping it under the radar. It is very inspiring and motivating for me.


  4. Hello Sam,
    I am a avid reader of your site.
    I had $100k and out of which I had invested 50k in buying a investment property for $250k townhome 4 bed 2 bath.
    The total p+I+taxes+insurance+hoa = $1350 for 30 yr loan term after a 20% down.
    The estimated monthly rent is $2300. I am expecting a cashflow of $700 after all home related expenses.
    Do you thinks its a good one?
    The appreciation rate at this area is 4% annually.

    My other question is with the left over 50k, I was planning to invest it in 3 lazy fund.
    But I am also inclined to purchase a similar townhome in the same ares, to get good returns.
    Should I go equity or real estate?
    My networth: $750 ($200 in stocks and rest in primary home and rental equities).

    1. Brian Chong

      GA, what city is your rental in? (I may just want to buy a couple properties there.) $2,300 rent on a $250K property is a pretty good ratio compared to what’s going on in the SF bay area.


  5. Another year of smashing posts, thanks Sam! The first article I read of yours was a networth one (I think How Much Should My Net Worth Or Savings Be By Income) over a year and a half ago. That got me thinking about my finances and I’m now saving 60% of my income. BOOM. Pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened without this site. So thanks for producing such awesome content that’s free for the readers.


  6. OlderAndWiser

    “The Average Net Worth for the Above Average Married Couple” stood out for me. I think that was the article that brought me to this site. Not only was it very well thought out and well-written, it included the photo of those really cute dogs. And besides, who doesn’t like reading that they are above average? ;)

  7. Another lurker here and first time commenting. Taking time to read FS is one of my “hustles”. Why? The knowledge I’m gaining is part of my strategy to financial freedom.

    Just from the past year reading FS, I’ve started investing in P to P loans. I started investing in ETFs. Learned how to “To Save More Than $100,000 A Year Pre-Tax” (I already have a SEP-IRA), and via the comments, learned about Fidelity’s charitable account, allowing me to deal with one donation per year on my tax return. I just set this up 2 days ago after reading someone’s comments 2 weeks ago.

    Additionally, we’re moving to a more tax and business friendly state in 2016, so we’ll rent out our current property. I’ll be reviewing the various real estate articles.

    Thanks for the great writing and polished tips. I used to run my own blog and I know how much time it takes to write excellent and compelling content. To your success in 2016!

    1. Hi Chris,

      That’s cool FS is one of your “hustles.” I’ve constantly been analyzing other states to move to (hence all the articles), but I can’t pull the trigger. It’s going to end up between California and Hawaii for me.

      It sounds like you’ve done a lot this past year! I’m interested/excited/curious to see how P2P lending does in 2016 b/c of the rising interest rate environment. We need to take advantage!

  8. Sam- As the new year is approaching, just wanted to send across a note of thanks to you for all the effort and the time you put in. Your work is much appreciated and wanted to make sure you know that. Namaste _/|\_


  9. 3-10 hours is really long time to sacrifice for us. Thanks so much for that. Just wanted to let you know that I have been inspired by your articles and am quite sure there are thousands of readers who have been as well. Keep up the great work!


  10. Sam, thanks for all the awesome content. This is my favorite personal finance site on the net because you focus on growing wealth rather than cutting costs.

    From my perspective, and this may be because of my own situation, I am most interested in asset allocation ideas. I noticed that there really wasn’t a lot of this that made the list in 2015.

    To that end, a question if you wouldn’t mind… In your own allocation, real estate is dominant due to rental properties. I don’t have rentals, but own my own home outright and have the cash to invest in REITs. I am considering increasing this exposure greatly in 2016 for diversification purposes.

    Would you consider residence + REITs a decent alternative to rentals? Specifically, upping an investment account’s allocation to ~ 25% in VNQ (Vanguard’s REIT ETF)?

    1. Hi Eric,

      Nice to hear from you! My real estate holding is less than 40% of my net worth, so it’s not yet dominant yet. But, I do like the stickiness of real estate, the tax benefits, and the tangibility. If it wasn’t for my online business, real estate would be my favorite asset to building wealth.

      I think real estate is really going to slow in 2016 around the coastal cities. So pick your REIT carefully. It’s up to you to consider a REIT as equity or real estate. I personally look to REITs more as part of my public equity portfolio. I can’t really advise your situation without knowing your full net worth makeup, intentions, goals, etc.

      Good luck!

      Check out:

      Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age And Experience

      The Proper Allocation Of Stocks And Bonds By Age


  11. Florian Munteanu

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for your inspiring posts. I went through your summary and I realized not only I read all posts, but that I was still very aware of their content just by reading the title.

    Happy New Year! In light of your invitation, I plan on actively interacting in 2016.


  12. Sam,
    I’ve been a FS lurker, and I just wanted to say thank you for your many articles! I love your insights and look forward to every post. Keep it up!

  13. Wow so many great posts! It’s amazing how much you wrote this year. Great recap and a lot of favorites of mine are in there in the investments, real estate, and other sections.

  14. Dear Sam!

    Been a subscriber for years and love your newsletter. On a slightly random note, I am launching my new blog this week called Amerikanka in Croatia. I never realized it takes you three to 10 hours to post an entry. My hat’s off to you for your dedication.

    1. Wonderful! Congrats on taking the initiative to start your site! It’s definitely not easy, and it can get very lonely in the beginning. You just have to push on through, no matter what for a couple years, and you’ll find some nice traction!

  15. Sam —

    I’ve been reading The Miracle Morning and really like it. It’s basically what you said above — get up earlier and work on your plans/dreams to make your life better.

    Have a great New year!

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