The First Million Might Be The Easiest: How To Become A Millionaire By Age 30

Want to learn how to become a millionaire by 30? Here’s my story on how I reached a million dollar net worth in my late-20s. It involved a lot of luck, a lot of effort, and a lot of risk.

I believe all Financial Samurai readers will eventually become millionaires due to disciplined saving and savvy investing over time. If you keep reading and listening about personal finance, it's hard not to keep moving in the right financial direction over time. In fact, the average America household is a millionaire based on the Federal Reserve's latest data for 2022.

Now that I'm 46, in retrospect, I should have taken even more risk. Taking more calculated risk is a key theme if you want to become a millionaire at a relatively young age.

The second key theme to become a millionaire by age 30 is to own appreciating assets that work hard for you. Eventually, you will tire of the grind. When that time comes, you will hopefully have at least one million dollars in assets generating passive income.

Finally, if you really want to be a millionaire, you need to come up with a plan and follow it. When it comes to your finances, you can't just wing it. You must be intentional!

How To Become A Millionaire By Age 30: Financial Upbringing

Growing up in a middle class household made me strong. My parents always drove beaters and frowned upon ordering anything other than water when we went out to eat.

I knew my parents were not rich because their incomes were in the public domain as foreign service officers. As a result, I made a conscious choice in high school not to attend one of the two private colleges that had accepted me. Instead, I went to William & Mary, which cost $2,890 – $3,200 a year in tuition from 1995-1999. I needed to save money.

We were by no means poor. We just pulled up to parties in a paint-less 1976 Nissan Datsun alongside Audis, Mercedes, and BMWs for the four years we lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between 1986-1990. It was very mortifying as a kid.

I knew nothing of expensive shoes because I had none. My wealthier friend gave me his old Air Jordans 4s that were two sizes too large. I couldn't even afford a camera or a Nintendo game system. We led comfortable lives, but didn't have more than we needed.

I was always curious about my wealthier friends. Many of their parents were business owners. So one day I told my father I too wanted to be a businessman.

By the time I was 13 I was hooked on every single episode of “The Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous,” narrated by Robin Leech. A million dollar house and a $40,000 sports car. What a life! I thought to myself in the 8th grade. Might as well give it a go. That's when I started really hitting the books.

Millionaire By 30 Money Mindset

If you want to become a millionaire by 30, you must adopt a strong money mindset. Know that there is money everywhere for the taking. You've got to believe you deserve to be rich.

Further, becoming a millionaire by 30 is becoming more common rather than the exception thanks to inflation. After all, $3 million is the new $1 million today.

There are so many standard ways to become a millionaire. If you don't become a millionaire by 30, you will eventually get there with enough time.

If you work for 40 years and save and invest just 20% of your after-tax paycheck a year, there is no doubt in my mind you will amass at least one million dollars. Compounding is a powerful force.

Maxing out your 401K for 30+ years will also most likely lead to over $1 million dollars as well. Historical stock and bond market returns plus company match are on your side.

We've got financial planners, personal finance blogs, television, best selling books, and even free financial tools to help you build and track your wealth.

So many resources make building wealth much easier now than in the past. Let's look at three reasons why becoming a millionaire by 30 is easier than ever before.

Three Reasons Why The First Million Could Be The Easiest

1) Tremendous energy.

When we first graduate from high school or college, we have a tremendous amount of energy to show what we can do after all our education. We're hungry, motivated, and need to prove to others and to ourselves our worth. 60-90 hour work-weeks for at least a decade are no problem!

Unfortunately, so many of us piss away our youth. We buy new cars without following my 1/10th rule for car buying. Some of us get into expensive credit card debt. And a lot of us don't to our elders and think the world owes us something. Forget it folks.

Nobody owes us anything. But we owe it to ourselves and to our parents who sacrificed all that time and money raising us to give life everything we've got.

2) Fewer or no dependents. 

Most of us won't have children by the time we graduate from college. As a result, we can focus 100% of our efforts on generating wealth by developing our careers or our businesses.

Compare ourselves to middle aged adults with two children, a mortgage, and aging parents to take care of. We are like finicky Ferraris on a starting line ready to blow away our older model competitors.

I'm now a dad to two young children. As a result, I've got to wake up by 5 am every morning to write before my children get up. Otherwise, nothing would get done on Financial Samurai. By the time 1 pm roles around, I'm exhausted playing with my kids. Take advantage of your youth!

Children cost money and drain your energy. Grind as hard as you can before having them.

3) Nothing to lose.

When we graduate with nothing, we have nothing to lose. Compare that with people with property, stocks, and other investments during economic downturns, and they have everything to lose.

With very little assets, we should be taking more risks. Now is the time to start a company, invest in that growth stock, take a new job opportunity, or move half way across the world on a hunch that good things might happen. If we don't take risks while we are young, we certainly aren't going to take them when we are old.

How To Become A Millionaire By 30

I had no idea I became a millionaire at age 28 until two years later when I did my first detailed net worth spreadsheet in 2007. It's easier to achieve something when we don't even realize what we're doing.

I was too busy saving, investing, working, and trying not to blow my money on things that I didn't need. I was one of those “Super Motivated Boyfriends” (SMBs) who were impossible to lock down.

Like most people believe, 30 is a big milestone. Ever since college I told myself I was either going to make it, know that I was going to make it, or be an absolute failure by 30. 

The fear of being a failure at 30 with no job, no woman, no savings, no investments, and no world experiences made me so motivated to not mess things up. I felt I needed to become a millionaire by 30 in big cities like New York and San Francisco.

A painful two years of working 70+ hour weeks right out of college with difficult bosses also got me into overdrive to figure out a way not to work forever!

There was no fanfare when I discovered the seven figure milestone had been achieved. Just the realization that time passes more quickly as we age. I had to make the most of my opportunities since nothing lasts forever.

Keep Aggressively Saving And Investing

Years later, I’ve continued to grow my net worth with a variety of passive and alternative active incomes. My family is a great motivator to keep on going. The last thing my wife and I want to do is go back to work while our children are still young.

If you've been reading my posts from how to save for retirement and how to properly invest for your future, there's no magic behind wealth accumulation.

Amassing wealth is about savings, discipline, perseverance, luck, an X Factor, and the belief that you too deserve to be wealthy. Eventually you will have more than enough so that you'll either retire or keep on playing for fun.

After leaving the work force for good at the age of 34 in 2012, I decided to keep on playing by building Financial Samurai into the best possible personal finance blog I could. When people tell me I’m lucky, I agree! As a result, I’ve tried to re-create my luck by writing 3-4X a week every year since 2009.

After 14+ years of writing on Financial Samurai, I believe one important secret to wealth and success is grit. If you can demonstrate unwavering commitment with one thing for at least 10 years, I strongly believe you will succeed. Too many people quit way too soon or right before the going gets good. Stay committed!

If I started this site in my early 20s, I would have become a millionaire by 30. If you are young, please take advantage of your youth.

The Road To One Million Dollars By Age 30

To the best of my memory here's how I was able to amass a million dollars by age 28. Today, my net worth is much larger thanks to continual investing, asset diversification, and building multiple passive income streams.

Age 22. Year 1999. Place Your Neck On The Chopping Block.

When I graduated from The College of William & Mary, the total amount of cash I had was roughly $4,000. I had saved some money from summer jobs temping and flipping burgers at McDonald's for $4 an hour. I had just started a dream job in New York City at Goldman Sachs. It was go time!

My base salary was $40,000, which at the time didn't feel too great. I lived in a studio with my buddy from high school for two years because we couldn't afford something nicer.

See: Achieving Financial Independence On A Modest Income

As a result, I invested $3,000 in a dotcom stock called Vertical Integration Systems (VCSY). It turned into $200,000 within several months. Yes it was incredibly lucky, but it also took some analysis and guts. I just wish I had more money to invest!

The stock pulled back by around 25%, at which time I sold everything for around $155,000 and stayed out of the bubbliscious stock market for the next year and a half due to a job change in 2001. VCSY ended up being worthless a couple years later. $155,000 equals about $120,000 in after tax proceeds. The trade is detailed in the post, Don't Stop Fortune Hunting.

Net worth: ~$160,000.

Age 24. Year 2001. Taking An Employment Chance. 

After two years in NYC, I was recruited to join another firm in San Francisco. I only knew a couple people in San Francisco, but felt the promotion to Associate without having to go to business school and 100%+ guaranteed raise to an $80,000 base salary + bonus was attractive enough to take a chance.

I was coming from a top firm and had established some solid client relationships over the past two years. The economy was still dicey due to the dotcom implosion and there was a big chance I would not make Associate after my third year at GS.

It turns out my firm in NYC did indeed let go of many colleagues, and only about 25% of the people I knew from my entering class were still there two years after I left. It was a little scary moving all the way cross country, but it wasn't like I was moving to the middle of nowhere. This was San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Besides,

San Francisco is six hours closer to Hawaii, one of my favorite places on Earth, so I figured what the hell. I saved 100% of each bonus, maxed out my 401(k), and saved a little more for my after-tax brokerage account.

Net worth: ~$260,000.

Age 25. Year 2002. Continued To Live Like A Student. 

The first two years in NYC, I lived in a studio with another guy. We put up one of those Chinese Paper Walls to add more privacy. I didn't care. I was living in New York City, the most alive city in America. I'd rather spend money going out and partying rather than on an extra bedroom.

When I moved to San Francisco, I spent even less on housing since NYC is about 30% more expensive. I found a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment at the edge of downtown for only $850 a person. I finally had my own room, yeah baby!

When you now make double what you were making a year ago, yet pay 25% less in rent, saving becomes very easy. I increased my after tax, after 401K maximum contribution savings rate from 50% to 65%.

Here's a post I wrote later called, Home Expense Guideline For Financial Independence. It highlights how I lived in NYC and SF to maximize disposable income. The post also gives recommendations on how much money you should spend on rent/buying in your journey as well.

Net worth: ~$400,000.

Age 26. Year 2003. Conservative Investments Before & During The Recession.

60% of every paycheck and 100% of every year end bonus after 401(k) contributions went into long-term CDs that yielded 5-6% at the time. The reason why I invested in CDs was due to a job change and not having time to manage my portfolio in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Furthermore, I was scared of another market implosion that would not only take down my investments, but also my bonus, and potentially my job.

My 401(k) was already 100% exposed to the stock market already. Today, my net worth is highlight diversified across real estate crowdfunding, real estate, bonds, stocks, private equity, and business equity.

A day after my 26th birthday, I decided that it was time to grow up and buy my own place. I was renting a $1,600/month one bedroom apartment in San Francisco and wanted a nicer apartment.

At the same time, I didn’t want to spend more than $2,000 a month on rent because the return on rent is always zero. I became very disillusioned with having a large chunk of money in the bank and started wondering what is the point of working more since I had more than I could ever have imagined.

At age 26, I was already thinking of “retiring” in Hawaii. Given my waning motivation to work as hard anymore, I decided to buy a two bedroom, two bathroom condo in a nice area of SF and live it up a little! 

The combination of 5-6% compounded returns in savings over four years, a growing 401(k), growing after tax investment account, and another year of saving a larger bonus really helped.

You don't have to be a great investor to become a millionaire. You just have to be a good-enough investor with the proper discipline and risk exposure.

Net worth: ~$550,000.

Age 26-27. Year 2004. Renewed Motivation To Work.

After putting down a 25% downpayment (~$140,000) for a $580,500 condo, my motivation to work skyrocketed because of a drained cash account. I prayed the housing market wouldn't implode like the stock market did years earlier.

A year before my condo purchase I did a silly thing and bought a $78,000 Mercedes G Wagon (G500). The truck was sweet and I thought it was a great deal since it was selling for $150,000+ the year before since this small dealership in Sante Fe, New Mexico curiously owned the US import rights.

I drove the truck for a year and had to sell it for a $20,000 loss because it wouldn't fit in my condo garage due to the height! What an idiot, but I felt buying the condo was the responsible thing to do. I traded way down to a seven year hold Honda Civic worth $8,000 instead. I was growing up but still had the thirst for nice cars.

Having A Mortgage Was A Big Motivator

The $435,000 mortgage put a fire under my ass to work harder and be the best performer I could be. At the age of 27 I was promoted to “Vice President,” a title that is normally bestowed on business school graduates three to four years out of school at the age of 32-33.

From there, my income took another large jump up to $120,000 + a larger potential bonus. I became one of the youngest VP promotes in my office.

Debt provided an unexpected side benefit for my career. From 2003 to 2005 my condo also appreciated to around $815,000, a 40% jump. Unfortunately, this increase was unsustainable as we all know. In fact, one of the biggest downsides to paying off your mortgage is the loss of motivation.

I felt this way in 2015 once this condo's mortgage was paid off. However, once my son was born in 2017, the motivation to make money increased again.

Net worth: ~$800,000.

Age 28. Year 2005. A New Landlord And Millionaire By 30

At 28, I decided to finally buy a single family house in San Francisco for $1,520,000. Believe it or not, $720/sqft for a house on the north end of San Francisco was pretty good because many homes were selling for $900/sqft at the time.

I was sick of having neighbors above and below me. I wanted a yard, a deck, reprieve from the HOA meetings, and to be king of my own castle. The bad thing about my house was that it was on a busy street next to the busiest street in the entire city.

After I moved into my single family house, I turned my condo into a rental, but finally sold it in 2017 for 30X annual gross rent because I no longer had time to be a landlord after my boy was born.

My rental property equity was around ~$350,000 plus around $750,000 worth of CDs and stock investments for a total net worth of around $1.1 million. I knew I was doing OK, but I had no idea I was worth over $1 million at the time. I was too busy building a business at work, managing a rental, remodeling a new home, and figuring out how to keep things going.

Note On 401k Investments:

I put away the max 401K pre-tax contribution since my first full year of employment. At the time, the maximum contribution amount was $10,000 a year. The maximum amount is now $22,500 a year for 2023 and will likely go up by $500 every 2-3 years.

If I take six years times the average $15,000 = $90,000. The average company match was around $15,000 a year since we had match + profit sharing, so add on another $80,000 = $170,000 in my 401K by the age of 28. But actually, I had over $200,000 given it did return more than 5% on average for six years.

One of my 401K options was a hedge fund, where I put a 60% of my allocation during the downturn between 2000-2002. The fund actually did well given they had a net short position, so my overall 401(k) was able to take the hits. In fact, if you max out your 401(k) consistently, you will likely become a 401(k) millionaire after 20 years of contributions.

Financial Samurai's journey to $1 million net worth chart and beyond - How to become a millionaire by 30

More Thoughts On How To Become A Millionaire By 30

I strongly believe most people reading this article can accumulate a million dollars if they have the motivation, a good amount of planning, the right amount of guidance, and some luck.

I'm sure some of you will have your own doubts, while others will scoff at how little $1 million is. But here are my suggestions for those who want to become a millionaire by 30 or at a relatively young age.

1) Don’t mess around in high school and college or else you will have a hard time landing a good job that pays well.

Give yourself optionality please. There are thousands of straight-A, top 25 university graduates every single year. I was one of the thousands, and it's hard to compete if you are not one of them because employers can’t respond or meet with everyone. Grades matter.

Many firms such as Goldman, Mckinsey, Bain etc have GPA cutoffs of 3.5 out of 4.0, with some at 3.7. If you don't have connections then you just aren't going to make the cut when there are thousands of applicants for only 60 spots. You can rage against the machine and believe grades don't matter, but you are going to be wrong like donkey kong and most likely regret your immaturity.

Getting a job on Wall Street was like winning the lottery for a kid coming out of a non-target public school. I went through seven rounds and 55 interviews over a course of six months before getting the offer. I would not have been able to even get an interview if I didn't get good grades or show initiative.

Your job income is the #1 main source of wealth for most people. Might as well focus on the highest paying industries that you think you'll enjoy if money is what you want to make. It's important to note that no way is a large income a guarantee for lasting wealth as many millionaire bankruptcies have proven.

2) Save until it hurts each month.

Remember this Financial Samurai saying forever. If the amount of money you're saving each month does't hurt, you're not saving enough.

When you’re a college student, you’re poor. Hence, even if you graduate and only make $30,000 a year, I’m willing to bet that’s more than you've ever made in your life! Try to continue living like a student for years after you've found your first full-time job and save!

Stop making excuses why you need to buy a nice car and nice clothes. You’re a 22 year old recent college graduate for crying out loud. Build your foundation in your 20s and stop thinking you have a decade to explore, because you don't. 10 years maxing out your 401(k) will likely result in a $200,000 portfolio in your early 30s.

The base you build in your 20s will provide tremendous returns for later on in life. If you stay consistent over the years, you will get there. Aim to save at least 20% of your after tax income every year, no matter what. Becoming a millionaire comes from good personal finance habits that compound over time.

How Much Savings You Should Have - How to become a millionaire by 30

3) Work hard and know your place. 

If you want to be a millionaire by age 30, you must work hard. Working hard takes NO skill. If you’re not coming in first and leaving last, you aren’t putting in your time. Be irreplaceable. Be remarkable.

I promise you if you wake up by 5am every morning, work one to two hours before the rest of your peers and work another one hour after your peers have left, you will get ahead! Avoid career limiting moves that will severely curtail your future.

The reason why I was promoted to Vice President at 27, when the average VP promote is 33 is because I put in extra dues. I generated millions of dollars in revenue, built a solid network of internal supporters, and was a workhorse by coming in by 5:30am everyday for my first two years and leaving at 7:30 pm-8 pm on average.

Sometimes I even left work at 10 pm. Did I sacrifice some of my social life? Of course I did. But, I also partied hard many weekends! Working hard doesn't mean you can't also play hard and travel. You're young remember? Your energy is limitless!

4) Stop making excuses.

You can spend time crying why the world isn’t fair, or you can do something about your life. If you are reading this post, chances are you have clean water to drink, shelter, internet and a legal system that protects your rights.

There are millions of people in the world who are starving every single day. An equal amount who live in fear of dictators confiscating everything they own. Some immigrate to America for a better life, don't even speak the language and crush it. What is your excuse? Abolish welfare mentality.

Spend 30 minutes every day by yourself in meditation coming up with a better business model for your company or for own business. Spend four hours every weekend in the office studying up on new things that will help improve your standings with your clients.

You can even start a blog and work an extra 30 hours a week online before you have a family and generate some healthy revenue if you wish. Let's take advantage of the freedom our respective countries provide.

5) Consider both aggressive and conservative investment strategies.

When I was 22, I only had about $4,000 to my name. Regardless, I invested 80% of my money and it turned into a 50 bagger. Was I lucky? Hell yes! But, I did my research and was I willing to put my balls on the line to try and make some money.

I think it is very important to take more risks when you are young which is why I'm biased towards growth stocks over dividend stocks. With the proceeds from my VCSY China internet trade, I transferred my wins into long-term CDs and then ultimately into property.

In addition, I actively invest in private funds to try and find the next Google, Apple, Meta, and more. Companies are staying private for longer, which is why I've been allocating more money towards venture capital funds over the past 10 years.

When you are ahead, it's very hard to walk away. As a poker player I know this feeling all too well. But it's tantamount to invest a portion of your winnings in a safe haven. Lock it up. Protect yourself from yourself!

I didn’t take on the reckless mentality of betting the farm with my windfall since I was now playing with the “house’s money.” This was my money now dammit, and I wasn’t about to piss it away on some B2B stocks. Continuously diversify your income streams and build passive income.

Today, I like the combination of growth stocks and less volatile real estate investments. You must take the appropriate amount of risk exposure. Otherwise, you could end up losing a lot of money, which ultimately means lost time.

6) Property is one of your best friends over the long term.

If you put 20% down on a property and it goes up 3% a year, that’s a 15% return on your cash thanks to leverage. Sure, you can get your face ripped off if you bite off more than you can chew. But trust me when I tell you that thanks to inflation, your debt payments will seem insignificant five years afterward.

Five years later, you will be happy every month when you get to charge a rent that is much higher than the interest portion of your mortgage. Property is my favorite asset class for young people to build wealth.

I sometimes feel guilty raising the rent, but remind myself, I was the one who took the risk, put down the downpayment, and nobody forces anybody to rent my place. Real estate is my favorite investment asset class to build wealth.

The condo I bought on my 26th birthday for $580,000 was fully paid off in 2015 at the age of 38. A neighboring unit with the same layout sold in 2017 for $1.36 million. Today it's worth even more.

I'm now investing in real estate crowdfunding to take advantage of lower valuation properties with higher cap rates in the heartland of America. I want to invest in the next San Francisco Bay Area over the next 20 years, and lower cost of area cities like Memphis, Austin, and Salt Lake City look attractive to me.

My two favorite real estate marketplaces are Fundrise for their eREITs and CrowdStreet for their individual commercial real estate investments in 18-hour cities.

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.

Fundrise offers a simple way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 400,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 


I've invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding so far. My goal is to diversify my expensive SF real estate holdings and earn more 100% passive income. I plan to continue dollar-cost investing into private real estate for the next decade.

After explosive stock market gains during a pandemic, money is likely going to flow into real estate. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows, corporate earnings are rebounding, and all of us are spending more time at home. As a result, the intrinsic value of real estate is going way up.

The value of rental income has gone way up as well. The reason being is that it takes a lot more capital to produce the same amount of risk-adjusted income. Real estate and technology sectors tend to do best in a rising interest rate environment.

7) Pretend you are poorer than you are and show few signs of wealth.

Stay humble despite amassing a fortune. Don’t show off or waste money on things you don’t need. Make people believe you are younger and poorer than you really are. I drive a 13 year old car and wear t-shirts, jeans, and a baseball cap most of the time. Once you've accumulated your war chest, practice Stealth Wealth.

I would say at least 80% of the millionaires I know are very low key. You can't tell they have a lot of money except for when you get to their house. The only people who want attention are those who are insecure, not not really rich.

By tricking your mind into being poorer than you really are, you keep the hunger and gratefulness alive to earn more. Most of the millionaires I know continue to work hard because they see upside opportunity.

8) There are more ways than one to rub a furry koala. 

You can make big bucks through a day job or by starting your own online business. Better yet, you can do both. While I was working in finance, I launched Financial Samurai. I worked on it before I went to work and after I came home.

Since starting this site in 2009, Financial Samurai now generates enough revenue to provide comfortably for a family of four in San Francisco. In fact, FS started generated enough for us to live well starting at around 2013. You just never know until you start something new.

To become a millionaire by 30, you must work on your X-Factor. Your X-Factor is what will bring you more wealth, happiness and joy. But the key is to work on your X factor long before you need it!

When you build a business, you build wealth by not only earning income from your business, but by creating equity value in your business. The value of your business is based off a multiple of revenue, operating profit, or net profit.

9) Office politics counts.

In order to get ahead, you've got to play the game by building as many company allies as possible. I don't know many people who like to sell themselves internally to their colleagues and bosses. People think that all it takes is good work to get recognized, paid, and promoted. This is absolutely false!

You must sell yourself internally as much as you sell yourself externally. I believe you need to sell yourself 50% internally and 50% externally.

Don't think just because you're bringing in business that you will automatically get paid and promoted. You must build a support network of powerful people at your firm. Once you have someone with significant power on your side, your entire career gets that much easier.

10) Regularly invest in yourself.

If you want to be a millionaire by 30, then invest in yourself. Your greatest money making asset is you. Don't cheap out on education or consulting. Education is worth more than any material thing you can buy. My studies in college and grad school taught me how to market, negotiate, communicate, analyze investments, and influence.

Thankfully, you can now learn most everything for free thanks to the internet. It's hard to recognize value when you can't touch it. However, I promise you that knowledge and education is worth more than everything else.

The more you learn the more you can earn! Read my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That to gain deep wisdom and take action.

If you haven't already, join 60,000+ others and sign up for my free weekly newsletter. Subscribe to my podcast and my posts via e-mail. Everything is free where I share my experience of making millions.

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11) Diligently keep track of your progress.

How much you keep is even more important than how much you make. There are people who make millions of dollars and end up broke years later. The simple reason is because they had no idea where their money went. Perhaps they made some ill-timed investments.

Maybe their risk exposure didn't align well with their risk tolerance. Or maybe they simply just spend too much. Everybody should leverage Empower, the best free financial tool online. With Empower, you can track your cash flow, analyze their investment portfolios, and calculate their financial needs in retirement.

Retirement Planning Calculator
Empower's Retirement Planning Calculator. Click to sign up and see how you're doing.

12) Regularly turn funny money into real assets.

We will regularly go through boom bust cycles. The key is to consistently turn that funny money you made in the stock market into something real. Do not stay all-in all the time when you have a nice windfall.

So many people have ended up losing all their money in the 2000 crash. Then came the 2008-2009 crash. Most recently was the March 2020 crash. Boost your wealth by using your windfall gains to buy a more stable asset like real estate or fine art. If you do, your chances of becoming a millionaire by 30 will increase.

With stocks near all-time highs again, I'm taking about 10% of my winnings and spending it on a better life. I'm also investing more in private real estate online that's 100% passive. As I get older, I really don't like dealing with rental property maintenance issues and tenants any more.

13) Consistently recognize your luck

To become millionaire by 30 requires a ton of luck. If you start believing all great wealth is mostly due to hard work and skill, you decrease your chances of becoming a millionaire. The reason is because you may start taking your opportunities for granted. You also start getting arrogant.

Not everybody has equal opportunity. For example, people's chances of becoming a millionaire are different by race. Stay humble and hungry.

The more you can recognize your luck and opportunities, the more you will save and the harder you will work. Being grateful is a huge part about becoming a millionaire.

14) Invest for the long run

Your first million really isn't the easiest now that I'm much older. Once you accumulate several million dollars, you will find it much easier to make another million dollars in net worth.

Therefore, your key is to grow your capital to a sizable amount and make continued risk-appropriate investments. For example, if you have five million dollars in invested capital in the S&P 500, and it goes up 20%, you've just made one million dollars without doing much work.

Let long-term investing be your friend. The longer you are invested, the more you let compound returns build.

15) Build a business and invest in moonshots

Millionaires have a larger percentage of their net worth in private business and investments in private businesses. When you own your private business you make money from your salary and the growth of your company equity.

If you don't want to build a business, check out the Innovation Fund, a venture capital fund which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence private businesses, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI!

The investment minimum is also only $10. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. In addition, you can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. Traditional venture capital funds require capital commitment first and then hope the general partners will find great investments.

See the growing navy blue bar below that represents business interests. The richer you are, the more business interests (private equity) you own!

Net worth composition by levels of wealth

Align Your Beliefs With Reality If You Want To Be A Millionaire

One cannot downplay the importance of luck in becoming a millionaire by 30. I have been fortunate to have two loving parents, an incredible spouse, and a brain that works most of the time.

If you're born in America, please take full advantage of all your opportunities. Despite having a deficiency in higher level math, uninspiring SAT scores, and a run in with the law as a teenager, I made up for my weaknesses with plain old work ethic and relationship building. It also helps to be an undying optimist as well.

You can't complain about not having wealth if you decide not to pursue wealth. That's a mental misalignment. The desire for wealth shouldn't be viewed as evil. It should be viewed as natural for anybody who wants to live a better life. Who doesn't want to b a millionaire to take care of his or her family and parents? Further, by being a millionaire, it's easier to give back to the community.

As soon as we align our realities with our beliefs, we become congruent and happier with ourselves and our outlook.

Good luck on your journey to your first million! Becoming a millionaire by 30 is a great accomplishment. Once you get there, your next goal should be to try and invest $1 million. That's when the real fun and big financial upside begins.

Become A Millionaire Through Real Estate

Real estate is my favorite way for the average person to become a millionaire. Using other people people's money (a mortgage), you can buy a real estate that tends to appreciate in value over time. Meanwhile, inflation whittles down the cost of debt. This one-two combination helps create a significant amount of wealth over time. Let inflation be your friend, not your enemy!

Roughly 50% of my net worth is in real estate. Further, real estate accounts for roughly half of my estimated $380,000 a year in annual investment income. One irony of real estate is that because it is less risky than stocks, investors can actually end up making much more from real estate.

I think the best strategy is to ow your primary residence to at least get neutral real estate. Then diversify by buying rental properties in your city, public REITs, and commercial real estate.

Take a look at my two favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms:

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and has over $3.3 billion in assets under management and 400,000+ investors. The platform has multiple diversified funds that primarily focuses on residential real estate in the Sunbelt, where valuations are lower and yields are higher. For the average investor, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go.

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations, higher rental yields, and potentially higher growth due to job growth and demographic trends. If you have a lot more capital, you can build your own commercial real estate portfolio.

Both platforms are fee to sign up and explore. I've personally invested $954,000 in 18 real estate crowdfunding projects since the end of 2016. My goal is to diversify, take advantage of real estate arbitrage, and earn income 100% passively as a busy father of two young children.

Subscribe To Financial Samurai

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How To Become A Millionaire By 30 is a Financial Samurai original post. The reality is, once you become get your first million, it's much easier to make millions more. You just have to stay disciplined and keep on investing for the long run.

343 thoughts on “The First Million Might Be The Easiest: How To Become A Millionaire By Age 30”

  1. I’ll continue here. We both work at corporate jobs in finance in consumers product and IT companies and both have changed a couple times, i actually moved from consulting which i initially did to industry which served me well. Having born and raised outside of US, our jobs have taken us to 5 different countries for the first 20 years across Europe and Asia and we settled in US approx. 10 years ago to give kids some stability. It is great to see your perspective as we are very happy to have had the opportunities that we had which would have been impossible for us otherwise.

  2. I agree that generally speaking one has far more energy and may not yet be married / have children yet in their 20’s. Problem is that many smart people at that age in last 20 years may have debt load from their education / maybe a home (if they live in a cheaper city) mortgage. The last thing they might think of in 20’s, are financial vehicles and good equities.
    All I did was save money until I bought my lst home to live in @32 yrs. I don’t think I barely invested in any equities. Saving part was part of my upbringing by low-income parents

  3. Ahhhh! Didn’t make it at thirty! Took me a little longer! Awesome article. One of my big mistakes was I worked so hard I forgot to invest in myself. Always had an excuse to work more and relax less….

    Never had a big win. Always a lot of small ones.

  4. James C Hendrickson


    Good stuff – I found myself wondering if you tried doing any more trading in the stock market after your one big win in 2000. Given how we’ll you’ve done with the rest of the your wealth building, you might have been able to score another win.

  5. Love this, Sam!

    I’m sitting here proud of hitting $1M at 35, then see you did it 5 years faster and in 2003 $. Ha! Everyone has a different personal journey though, and that’s what I love reading about.

    I know I’ve read your posts a number of times over the years, but have been reading other blogs more and more as I start my own. I’m inspired by your level of detail, frequency of posting, and engagement with commentators!

    This is the first time I read this page though, so it’s the first time I realized you are a W&M alum. Same here (’08)! Go tribe!

  6. I started my career late (first full time job at 24) due to choosing to do my Master’s first and moving from a 3rd world country to Australia. Sometimes wish that I was just born here – I could’ve started my career at 21 and now would be worth a few hundred k’s with property.

    I guess this means i’ll just have to work doubly hard! I’ve started a blog as well with yours as an inspirations (but for an audience based in Australia), and hopefully soon I will have an ebook and do Ted talks :)

  7. Being a millionaire by the age of 30 is quite an achievement. I think whoever sets this goal really has to give everything. Thank’s for the Tipps :)

    1. I was worth $100,000 by age 30.
      I shall be a MILLIONAIRE by age 65 DESPITE:
      ONLY a $420,000 lifetime GROSS INCOME!
      Only about 60% of that is EARNED GROSS INCOME!!
      LESSON: Get an EXCELLENT financial planner EARLY!!

  8. I believe that before going into any job, you should ask yourself if you want to do it. If you look at dentistry, nursing, or physician occupations solely from a financial aspect, none of these may provide the best return on investment.

    Obviously, not everyone is suitable to work in any of those occupations. Most dentists are motivated by a desire to help others and did not enter the field only for financial gain. Dentistry, on the other hand, is a rather steady career. No matter how much debt you accumulate, if you can keep the work for a specific period of time, you will most likely be able to pay it off. When do you think you’ll be done?

  9. Congrats! Your story sounds amazing and for sure this is a good example for many, but to be honest it is extremely difficult to replicate your story. Everyone has a different situation.

    When I was younger I had similar idea to start saving&investing as soon and as much as possible. There were periods when I saved over 50% of my salary.

    Things changed after I started a family. Our small rented apartment wasn’t enough for 4 people, a car as well etc. So the initial plan to save 50% of salary has become impossible.

    After some time I decided to change my approach to become financially independent and I think this might help everyone who is overwhelmed by the success stories of others.

    Right now I am a big believer in the Coast FIRE idea. Before I started a family I was able to save $230k in ETFs, after kids showed up me and my wife were able to save $1.5k on average. It is not a lot but thanks to that the seed amount of 230k is significant, annual portfolio growth was higher than our contributions of 18k per year.

    Our goal is to reach $1,3M and retire early at the age of 44. According to our calculation $6k will last for nearly 50 years

    I know this is not as fast a route to success as your story, but still we will be able to retire over 20 years before schedule.

  10. Damn, I’m 2 years too late reading this article.

    I think while luck play *a* role in wealth, it certainly doesn’t play 100% of the role. I think the luckiest thing for most of us are the basic: we’re in a nice, first-world country where opportunities are abound.

    I read a book recently “Great By Choice” by Jim Collins where he studied luck across companies and it turns out better companies don’t on average have better luck than their much worse competitors.

    Most companies, and people, are hit with bad luck and good luck. What separates the people that have great results over time is a financially conservative mindset, consistency, and resiliency.

    So sure, there’s some a lot of luck with a 50-bagger, but at $200K, that’s only a +/- a few years of savings. The greatest achievement of hitting a million I feel is the consistency and the emotional discipline over time to get there.

    1. Hi, talking about land of oportunity, does anybody know what would be the equivalent amount you would need in Mexico to be in the same situation as having 1million USD living in the US? My guess is someone living in Mexico having 1Million dollars is much richer that someone having a million living in the US (asuming they live in a relatively nice city).

  11. I think the core knowledge here is:

    It is not true that at your 20s your energy is infinite. Millions of people have medical issues before that age. Others are graduating with scary student’s loans, other has family members with health issues, or siblings to support, others are jobless. Also let’s see the dates in this article: from 1999 to 2000s, before the housing bubble burst and the Great Recession.
    In 1999 I could buy a decent flat with my actual savings, now I have nowhere to go (despite having those savings and no debt, and no kids to support). Sadly, I was born too late, in 1999 I was right out of high school, so housing bubble hit right when I was starting my career (the worst time to start a career, salaries were low and have no recovered).
    Also it is not true that 3 millions is 1 million now, it is the other way around because of inflation, and this is happening worldwide. Just look for the increased prices of plastics, that increases the price of everything (from food to medicines).
    And your investments can make you lose money. This happens, bussiness go wrong, investments go wrong too.
    Simply, I’m unlucky as hell.

    1. I totally agree that extraordinary wealth is mostly due to luck. Click the link of you want to read more.

      As a result, it is up to the lucky ones to give back and help other people get lucky too. This has been one of my missions since I started Financial Samurai in 2009. To share as much knowledge as possible to help others build more wealth and achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later.

      Best of luck to you! For more nuanced personal finance content, join 100,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter.

      1. Hi, it is me again, after a year. Yeah, I read some of your articles about saving, the article about Stealth Wealth is really useful.
        I found a place to live.
        You forgot the biggest lesson I have learned this year:
        ASK FOR HELP
        I talked to some people about my problems, I asked for a raise at my job at the worst of 2021… I got it. Just after that I said out loud my income still was too low, a friend heard me, offered me a place to buy at a decent price given the actual housing market (now I have a mortage for the next 10 years, but I can control it).

        And once you’re wealthy, tell nobody. Keep a low profile.

        The lesson here is that if you are poor, say it. if you are short of money, say it. Ask for a raise or look for a better paying job. Ask your friends for help. Not everything is about luck, it is about building communities of people mutually helping each other. I’m slowly learning this, I was raised by truly selfish people. We humans need each other. I asked for help and I got it. I want to do the same when I will be able to do it.

        To all the people reading this: work hard and help others. Not only with money, I’m still poor so I share the compost I make at home.

  12. Shaun Roberts

    I am an attorney who doesn’t make more than 55k a year. Yes, we’re out there. No, if you google it, most attorneys do NOT make 100k or more a year. Also, a number of attorneys aren’t actually practicing attorneys. Yet, my net worth is over 600k. How did I do that? I sold one of the 4 life insurance policies I control and after begrudgingly paying my sister her half, I got 250k. Still even without that nice cash infusion, my net worth (not including a home since I don’t own one) would be 350k with that paltry salary I mentioned above.

    How? 1) I chose to move in with my mom and step dad for almost 4 years after law school. 2) According to Fidelity, I have averaged a 25 percent return in my “investing account” and 50 percent in my Roth IRA. I only opened up my ROTH 401k two years ago since my cheap company finally started to match it two years ago (but suspended the match for last year). Even with my very paltry salary, my ROTH 401k is worth 90k. I contribute 50 percent of my pay to my 401k. I’ll be hitting the 19,500 maximum in the not distant future.

    It really boils down to what one wants: If one desires to have kids and be married, then that’ll obviously cost you more money than if you’re single. Do you want to retire early, travel and live in style? Ditto. As for me, I am not interested in having a family of my own or living the life of the rich and famous now or in retirement. I’m a minimalist with basic needs. If things work out well, I’ll be retired (I mean fully retired, not writing on the side for income, doing any sort of side hustle, working part time, etc) by 43 (I am 37 now) and do what I want.

    1. I know roughly 30 or so attorneys, and not a single one is less that $100k. I did know one that started around $75k but after a couple years is now in the $300k range. Most that I know started in the mid six figures though on day one. What type of work are you doing as an attorney for $55k? Did you not have law school loans to payback? I’m assuming since you are calling yourself an attorney you passed the bar and don’t just have a law degree.

      I think that retiring at 43 on a $55k salary is amazing, and hopefully you get to spend your free time doing all that you want. Seems like a tall order to me though unless you never get health issues, and live somewhere very remote. eitherway, best of luck to you. In the end it’s really all about making a plan and executing that plan. There are truly no “right” ways to live your life.

    2. My net worth will be $600,000 by age 60 BUT i only averaged $10,750 (GROSS) a year for 35 years!! Read down WAY below!!
      My accomplishment is BETTER than yours!!!

      1. LESSON: Get a GOOD financial planner early and invest PRIMARILY EQUITIES (especially AMERICAN)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Another key: Don’t get married young and divorced in your thirties. Especially to someone who earns 25% of less of what you earn. If you contribute the majority, you lose the majority in the divorce and the other party gets a huge bonus in the end while you are stuck paying for a life style they could never afford if it was only on them to earn the funds for it.

    1. obligation should be the mark of your life. work to be the best in the world at what you do and the rest will follow. obligate yourself, in as many ways as you can so that people look to you. and they will help. -jav

    2. I have to disagree. I think it’s ok to get married (and divorced) in your 30s, but I think it would be better if everyone thought about the ‘what ifs’ and prepared for them prior–especially when things are all still rosy and you never think the relationship will end.

      Anyone can get a prenup and you don’t have to have any wealth to have one.

      I was close to getting married in my very early 20s, didn’t have a penny to my name, but knew I was going to make it one day. I asked for a prenup (and he agreed).

      Marriage didn’t happen, but we were together for nearly a decade. By the time the relationship ended I had made it, I was a millionaire.

      My partner at the time of our break up? Worth less than when I met him in our 20s. The difference in our personal drive & passion obviously wasn’t a good match–but hey, who thinks about that in your 20s?

      I was fortunate enough to have the foresight to think about the ‘what ifs’ though.

      I also started investing in real estate. By the time the relationship ended I had two houses (now I own 5) but I owned everything (I never had my partner put his name on anything nor helped with any of the finances). So it all worked out fine when we split.

      A prenup would have done the same thing should the state have demanded I split it all.

      I absolutely shared everything with my partner at the time and provided him an incredible life he couldn’t afford, I just didn’t put his name on anything I earned.

      My fear of not being able to take care of myself is what kept me keeping everything in my name, something I talk about on my new blog.

      But Sam is right that it takes a TON of luck and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Definitely have to work hard and longer than everyone else, absolutely– but luck is huge too.

      I am not aware of the stock that Sam invested in with his 3k, that was a bit before my time. I started out of grad school around the recession and had only 2k that I saved from my first paying ‘real’ job–a whopping 16k a year.
      All I did was Google back then about everything and anything I can learn to get a better life. Because I was struggling. bad.

      So when I had my 2k saved up, what did I invest in? Google.

      Dumb luck? You bet.

      But I wouldn’t have had that 2k if I didn’t bust my butt, live near the poverty line and save like a madwoman lol.

      You can turn any situation around–even the divorce. Use one of your income streams to pay for the ex and gain others to pay for the life you want.

      Best of luck to you!

  14. Looking back on my savings strategies, one thing I regret is not taking advantage of the after-tax investment vehicles (e.g., Roth IRA, Roth 401(k) earlier in my career. I saved primarily with pre-tax accounts and I think that was a mistake. In fact, to rectify it, I’ve been slowly converting my pre-tax accounts to my Roth IRA over the last couple of years, making sure not to ‘increase’ my income too much so that I’m subject to the next tax bracket.

    The key to saving is to start with what you can afford when you are early in your career, then ratchet it up as you get pay raises and promotions so you don’t really feel it in your paycheck. That’s worked for me and we are saving around 30% now. I have two defined benefit pensions as well that will pay me ~ $100k when I hit 62 and retire, so my savings rate doesn’t need to be at the level of FIRE followers.

    Just my two cents ;-)

    1. I am 36 and I have a bit of an opposite take on this. My parents (especially my dad) pretty much forced me to put money in Roth instead of traditional when I first started working at 22. The result is that I saved a lot less money in my 20s than I could have because I couldn’t afford to max out my Roth 401k until my late 20s.

      Sure, yea, that money will be available tax-free in 24 years, but not putting away 15-25% more in my early 20s really crippled my portfolio once you consider compounding interest. I could have always converted those traditional 401ks to Roth later when I rolled them over to my IRA. Instead I lost 7 years of non-maxed-out contributions AND 7 years of a lower effective tax rate that I can never get back.

      Each $1,000 I didn’t save in my 20s turns into $20k+ I won’t have in my 60s. So I basically screwed myself out of hundreds of thousands of dollars because I bought into my parents’ tax fears.

      Maybe in 24 years tax rates will be 50% I’ll be grateful for my Roth accounts, but the government could always raise penalty-free withdrawal ages. The tax rates could also be lower. We just have no idea. It’s impossible to predict the future.

      Sam has it right: Max out your traditional 401k/IRA and then decide what you want to do after that. Nothing else matters until you can max out your pre-tax accounts and that should be everyone’s goal.

      1. Evie D,
        You make a great counterargument. The one thing I worry about is that the government will be forced to raise taxes significantly in the future to pay for all the debt they are taking on – but you are right, there is no way to know for sure what will happen.

        Since I’m covered by a traditional state pension plan, I don’t get a match on the pre-tax 401(k), so that is a little less enticing for me and one of the reasons I went with the Roth 401(k). Considering the savings rate in this country is so paltry, the decision to save is the most important thing – where to put it is another story ;-)

  15. In-state tuition and fees for 2020-21 at William & Mary is $23,628. Out of state tuition is $63,370.

    Run through an inflation calculator, your $2,890 tuition in 1995 was $4,805.85 in today’s dollars.

    Did you get some sort of scholarship?

      1. James Johnston

        Financial Samurai – I’m curious your thoughts on my savings/retirement planning as it is a bit unusual:

        I am a 35 and my wife is 30. We plan to have 2 kids (one is young now). Our savings that we have earmarked solely for retirement are $2 million. We also have fully funded 529 plans (~$200k now) and $500k of equity in our house that is worth ~$850k. I plan to payoff the house in the next 2 years with cash flow from work. Also, we live in a low cost of living area. My salary is ~$500k and my wife makes ~$115k. The salaries are nice, but I’m getting tired of the office politics and rat race.

        If I were to take a less stressful position in a couple of years after the house is paid off, what are your thoughts on us living solely on whatever I make (assume I could get a $150k job that is far less stressful) and saving my wife’s salary (~$80k after taxes). With an $80k annual contribution and a modest 3% real rate of return for the next 15 years, we should be over $5 million of real retirement savings by the time I’m 53 (at which point I will play golf and travel).

        Do you see any flaws with this approach? It is front end loaded, but I’m looking to take advantage of compounding and early saving.

        I’d love your thoughts. Thanks!

  16. I’m 30 this year and am still in residency for medicine getting paid like $60k a year. Been questioning my life choices a bit lately haha

    1. Me too. Have been up and down recently with work situation. I am almost 40. My net worth is over 1.4 million, but I don’t feel rich at all living in the Bay Area. I invest in stocks and real estate. I live below my means, and save as much as possible. My hope is to be financial independent and leave my dreadful job in one day, and start living the life I want and help others in need.

        1. I get not feeling wealthy with 1.4 million. When most people finally reach 1 million they don’t even realize it let alone “feel” wealthy like they thought they would.

          What number will make you feel wealthy? Have you thought about that?

          Statistics say the average response from millionaires to “feel” wealthy is around 7-10 million.

          I think it really comes down to how you live your life. You can have less than 1 million dollars and live on less so that you never have to work a day in your life.

          Or you can make a million dollars a year and not be a millionaire because you are constantly throwing your money away on stuff and it will never feel like enough and you’ll never be able to retire.

          The stuff never makes you happy, that’s why you keep having to buy more, right? If the purchase made us happy, completely fulfilled us– then we would have no need to buy more. It’s short fleeting because it’s not real happiness.

          Again, maybe take a look at what makes you ‘feel’ wealthy and what you would have to do to accomplish that.

          It might not be to make more money at all, it may be to change your lifestyle habits–including who you are around and what you find meaningful in life.

          Life is short, and the time we have left to enjoy it is running out every. single. day.
          Why wait for tomorrow? Tomorrow might not come, then what was it all for?

          Hope this helps.

  17. I don’t know why everybody should think about being worth 1 million by age 30.
    I was worth $100,000 by age 30 and believe that that is quite an accomplishment!
    My lifetime gross income from age 25 to age 65 (all jobs, self-employed income, employment insurance and pension) will be $420,000 ($10,500 a year).

  18. I worked my ass off all my life. I was always the first one in and last one out, sometimes working til midnight.
    I was let go under discriminatory circumstances. They refused to give me the formal training credentials that I would have needed to continue working and be hireable anywhere in that sphere, so now I have nothing.

    You’re full of shit. You got lucky, and you made wise choices, but it’s NEVER been about hard work. Now I’m almost 30 and got little to my name, and I’ve tried to read your book but it is just I’m sorry SO WRONG about the reality in the workplace as it has been for me. Maybe it’s because I’m not a white male? Hard to say, but everyone around me workplace included could not believe how I’ve been treated. I was so catastrophically demoralized as a consequence of the blatant unfairness I faced – and it doesn’t help that self-congratulatory successful types like to say it’s about hard work. I was number one in my STEM class and consistently praised by my employers with the exception of this one that happened to be most critical.

    I have nothing but I will never work so hard again. I can’t make money but I’m not going to give them my time too. Just wanted to say your blog is just incredibly demoralizing to people who actually have the battle scars to prove that it doesn’t work that way for everyone, and that in itself is the x factor.

    1. You make excuses or you make changes. Sounds like you are bitter and have adopted the victim mentality. It’s easy to fall into that way of thinking as you can rid yourself of responsibility. You’re young. Use that bitterness as motivation to improve your life.

      If you believe you will never work so hard again then you won’t. If you want to set yourself up for failure, that is your choice an no one else’s.

    2. Even very successful people will have bad experiences with certain jobs/employers. Don’t let this bog you down too much, you’ll bounce back and you’re still quite young.

      1. Just saw this. Thank you for the kind words. I definitely wrote that when the trauma was still fresh.

        One of the bigger issues with that whole experience enough, just for the record, was that even though I objectively could prove that I was the sole person excluded from trainings and networking sessions despite doing the same type that others did (technically more hours, no negative reviews), all the lawyers I’ve contacted told me that even though laws were broken, it’s not worth their time to pursue. The financial reward wouldn’t be worth much. So it was just extremely rattling to hear that in effect I didn’t have protections despite my record keeping.

        I’ve recently stabilized and begun working towards the job I’d like. Thank you, I really appreciate your nice words again.

        1. Let that ‘trauma’ be the fuel to save (as much of your income as possible) like your life depends on it so that you can walk away whenever you want.

          Sometimes those bad experiences are the fuel we need to ignite a passion inside of us that will take us beyond what we ever thought we could achieve.

          You’ve got it in you (we all do)—dig deep, find it, and never let it go.

          Wishing you luck!

          1. Your point about dependents is totally legitimate.

            When my wife were newlyweds and first started building our businesses and wealth (when I was just a few years less than 30) together, we had no kids. We would work our tails off, spending most of our extra time being productive on our business.

            Now we have 8 kids who play baseball, have music lessons, and do lots of other things that require most of our attention. If we were to try to start over now, the outcome (we’ve made about 10 million dollars over the past 20 years) would be much different.

            Getting a head start financially before the kids come along is a great idea.

    3. Small detail, but Sam isn’t a white male, either.

      Glad to hear that it soumds like things are getting better for you.

  19. Just found your blog and I love all your unique insights on finance. We are on track to have our home paid off by the age of 35 and have zero debt. We have been aggressively saving money and living well below our means so I would say we are on the right track. Great article!

  20. Thanks for all your advice! I have been reading your notes for years and went diligently along your advice. I’m a 28 year old female and my net worth is about 300k, not near your 1 million but hoping to be there one day! My question for you is, I recently did back out of a home because I was fearful the home was too high of my take home pay (37%). Do you follow any take home pay strategies when you got these homes? My goal is to save aggressively one more year and live very below my means and put a large sum of case on the home. Would you recommend this? Thanks in advance,

  21. Work from 5 AM to 10 PM!. Yeah but I still have a social life on weekends!

    What about your own health? what is the point of amassing so much money? you don’t have endless energy in your 20s… you are still young and throwing your health out of the window to be a slave of capitalism.

    Work smart, NOT hard. I am 30 and I am worth $1,000,000 already and I don’t work 10 hours days…. I work normal and take plenty of time off. I dedicated most of my 20s to education, while I worked at the same time, got a few patents and now have a very good paying job. I think carefully every decision I make, but my health comes first and I refuse to work like that to simply die with a bunch of work memories and “hard weekend parties”. What a joke.

  22. Nordic Fire

    Just found this blog and I find this so inspirational. Keep up the good work and stay active!

    – Nordic Fire

  23. Your title is a bit misleading for the majority of the population. Reading your backstory (kudos, btw) even you admit that a large portion of your wealth was based on luck (dotcom investment, early VP with no degree in a boom economy, move to sanfran before downsizing, etc.). Imagine if you’d been like the majority of the bachelor’s degree population & stuck at a 40k salary (or less) until your 40’s (or for your entire career).

    I do however think the median wage college-educated individual can hit the first million by early/mid 40’s using similar techniques. My advice would be to eliminate the clickbait “by age 30” in the title & add a caveat that the advice works for most livable income ranges; faster if you have more dispensable income. If you have tens of thousands each year in dispensable income in your 20’s, by all means you can be a millionaire by 30.

    1. michael johnson

      ABSOLUTELY correct. A good portion of these articles involving advice seem a bit unrealistic. Saving 50% of your income,applying to best colleges/co’s in the US (virtually no one gets in), getting straight A’s, going to best MBA programs etc…It’s more of a story about a highly intelligent, gifted person that maximized his potential by working hard & smart and occasionally was lucky.
      A better story would be a B student that worked 2 jobs and bettered himself/herself by attending night school and networking eventually landed a great job with benefits. Hard work, persistence, with a bit of financial acumen is the ticket.

    2. Jim Morrison

      “Stealth wealth.” Exactly. That’s why you made sure to brag about how much money you have in a huge public blog that you literally work on 20-25 hours a week. Maybe you are afraid of getting audited like everyone else with money. Did you ever stop to think that some people without a “regular job” may have unbelievable social anxiety being a part of those types of social situations? You sound as if you you are the type of person who is pissed at people who don’t have a regular job. No offense, your way of earning money doesn’t interest me at all. Like continuing going to school or some insincere ass kissing institution for the rest of one’s life where the only ones who survive are the ones who get off on socially hurting and being a dick to others in the group, ostricizing those different and trying to hurt them or push the innocent “weaker”
      ones out of the team so you can deliberately hurt them for no reason while you kiss ass to be the most popular. You remind me of my older sister, getting off on being out and about out there, socializing and socially deilberately hurting others to survive. I never got along with people like you, never understood you people, never felt comfortable around you people. And you will probably never understand rock stars, real artists and people who followed their passion. You chose money for the sake of money, which is something I will never be a part of. I guess somewhat hurting others a little every day in a daily way is the type of thing you are actually good at. I don’t agree with you at all and felt really bad just having to read your post and probably wouldn’t get along with someone like you in real life and definitely wouldn’t feel very comfortable around you unless I was being a dick just like you to fit in in this inherently somewhat evil world. I just could never get how people like you thrive in those environments, obviously by shifting the blame to others on a regular basis, when people like me only did it out of necessity and real survival here and there and would never get off on it or try to intentionally live like that every day or actually enjoy it in any way. But its people like you who pushed me and pushed me and emotionally beat me down all those years until I had to be the biggest, most evil one of you people out of sheer survival, following the rules perfectly yet thinking horrible things about others in my mind, all while following societal normals as best as possible. The way to achieve things in life, right? You would think people can just get along and be happy, but apparently your kind will never change, and I will never be like someone like you. The thing is I am your same age, and you sound just like some popular kid who made fun of me in high school or forced me into silence in high school and was well aware of my suffering but only tried to make it worse as you realized it was helping empowering you in nature. You are the type of person who in my opinion will not go to the other side after this frivolous life, rather you will probably be reincarnated, unless by some miracle you learn to be more kind to others in your old age. Anyway, just really aggravated me reading your post so I figured I would tell you what I really think about your kind insteda of trying to pretend like any of you are interesting to me in any way, other than you trying to make me feel socially uncomfortable. You are the same type of person who would be a roommate or live in a more crowded space with others as roommates and get off on making them feel awkward and uncomfortable while you saved money for yourself, like a little touch of evil every single day as you learned to be steady in a daily regular early morning waking way. The sad thing is that your kind pushes and pushes and pushes genuinely kind human beings like me, until we have no other choice but to join your club, and if we are good enough at following the rules or lucked out by meeting the right mentors or people in our families, then people like me can be even way more evil than you… Its like your kind pushes evil on the kind people like me to corrupt our morals and prove that your conscience is okay and that those with less money and who are more kind than you who you are afraid are going to heaven or the other side instead of you, so you push them to their lowest point and try to bring them up again by having them embrace evil to prove that they are no better than you morally. …or maybe that’s just unfortunately the mentors or people I have had to be a part of and I am wrongfully projecting that on you. I could be wrong about all of this, you just sound like the type of person I would never ever want to be too close to, just totally right field of everything I enjoy , believe in and that makes me feel okay, comfortable and happy.

      1. Haha why are you haters even on here. You don’t want to chase money and get wealthy the way he did? Then don’t. All the time you wasted writing that novel is the real reason you’re not building wealth. I enjoyed the post. Good to see how someone made it to that point, even if some of it was “luck”. I’m 26, net worth of 300k+ built purely off of hard work and discipline. I have a long way to go, but this stuff works.

      2. Why am I about to reply to this? I’ve never replied to blog post IN MY LIFE. But there is something very disconcerting about your post that struck a chord with me.

        There’s a good chance you won’t even see this… but here goes:

        “…or maybe that’s just unfortunately the mentors or people I have had to be a part of and I am wrongfully projecting that on you” <—BINGO.

        Your entire diatribe is filled with assumptions, projections, and logical fallacies.

        He's not making a blog to "brag about his wealth". The blog exists to detail how he did it, and to help INSPIRE others to do the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong, evil, or immoral about discussing strategies to maximize wealth.

        Discussing wealth means you have to discuss numbers. If his wealth numbers spark jealously and resentment in you, I would suggest trying to shift your mindset to being INSPIRED by his results. BE INSPIRED and LEARN from the success of others. If you aren't on the exact same path as him, that's fine, but you can still learn from his life and apply the knowledge to your own circumstances as you see fit.

        "Your kind pushes genuinely kind human beings like me"… I'm sorry if someone hurt you or the world has you feeling down, but life is NOT fair. I repeat. Life is not fair. But he isn't PUSHING you AT ALL. It's a blog post, not a mandate. Don't like his advice? Don't follow it. But your vitriol and contempt shouldn't be directed towards the author. Don't assume all people that pursue wealth are "evil". They aren't. And don't make yourself out to be some sort of "genuinely kind" hero. I would bet money you aren't. In fact, your post reads rather sad and pathetic.

        In addition to finding a good therapist, I'd suggest reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It's an old standard for personal development and wealth accumulation, but it might help you shift your mindset to a better place.

        Change your way of thinking, or it will be a problem that manifests itself in all areas of your life. You'll be glad you did. Or, continue to be bitter and presumptuous and see where that gets you. I suggest the former.

        I hope you read this reply. Good luck to you.

        'Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.' – Mark Twain

    3. Shaun Roberts

      I don’t care what financial samurai, who reminds me in some bad ways to dividend sensei says: 1 million by age 30 is unlikely for the majority of people. And, that’s okay.

  24. 30x annual rent is insane, where I am at 10x annual rent is probably more in line with the market (which is already high to begin with).

    That is the primary reason for your obsession with RE and anti-rent. Right place, right time.

  25. Hi FS, how do you book the net worth for your properties? Is it mark to the market value minus outstanding mortgage? Thanks

  26. Wow!! very great advice, indeed!! If you’re lucky enough to have an employer that offers a 401k plan, take advantage of it. Four years ago, I started contributing to my employer’s 401k starting at 3%, every year I increase the amount. This year I am maxing it out and will continue to do so. This is one sure way to build wealth.

  27. Great post, thank you. Can you please explain the calculation for this part: ‘If you put 20% down on a property and it goes up 3% a year, that’s a 15% return on your cash thanks to leverage.”

  28. I spent a lot of my income, I pi$$ed it up the wall and lived my life to the full. I still worked my arse off, I still do sometimes 7 days a week in my absolute dream job that is a “paid hobby” and I still have a net worth over a million at age 40. The difference to me of 1 million or 3 is nothing. What I did in my 20-30 years, how I lived, the memories I have, what I gained in every way other than just financial is absolutely priceless and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. There is no bank balance that could ever match a happy existence living life to the full. I did everything and I loved it. Saving everything so you can enjoy yourself at 70 is absolutely ridiculous and in my opinion the worst possible advice someone could give or listen to. You can not do all nighters, several in a row, raving, climbing mountains, travel to dangerous places, super remote places, super exotic places, and do the same sort of things when you are 70. At 70 you are close to death and there’s a reasonably probability you have already died. Money as a singular yard stick and measure is the most soul destroying and sad perspective in my book. What a waste of a life.

    1. Totally agree! There’s definitely a spectrum between spending 100% and saving 100% — and it’s up to everyone to judge what is best for themselves.

      I went nuts in my 20’s and wouldn’t trade it. However, my dad saved ‘until it hurt’ as described, and built a business for himself, and generational wealth.

      Tangentially, we see some people today talking about ‘taxing the rich’ like it’s some easy resource. However, they don’t see the years of scrimping that my Dad endured to get where he is today. Can those people that want to tax him give him back experiences that he declined? Can they give him back his youth? So I don’t see it as super fair to levy taxes on those that planned for their future.

  29. john stafford

    As a 16 year old I am able to save 100% of my income (may it be small), and I am in the midst of building a stock portfolio. When do you think the optimal time to invest into real estate is? ASAP, out of highschool, out of college, during a housing correction, or later?

    1. Shaun Roberts

      Not now since most of the US housing market is inflated. wait for the impending crash.

  30. Needed to comment about the ordering anything other than water line. Up until now, when other people are paying for my meal, I still feel uncomfortable ordering anything other than water. My parents drilled that pretty hard into my brain! Although, unconsciously I’m sure

  31. Financial Samurai – quick question on the math above. When you calculate net worth do you consider total assets less mortgage? Or simply total assets? Was trying to follow along with the net worth math in / around significant home real estate purchases.

  32. So being in my late 40s, and with the same career for 24 years, it is a little disheartening reading how quickly FS attained 1 million in net worth. The younger a person recognizes the importance of budgeting, investing the excess income above needs, and having a game plan cannot be overstated. By disheartening, I mean realizing how many working years were squandered without a plan for financial freedom that stunted my wealth building.

    The good news: FS demonstrates action that can be taken at any age to improve financial health, as well as passing the knowledge to your kids so they jump start the process early.

    Our goal is imparting our current knowledge and habits to our kids as they grow and mature. We are building our financial independence with very deliberate steps: healthy net worth, small mortgage left to pay off, pension eligibility currently for the wife and I, well funded 529s and climbing. No other debt than the mortgage. We are trying to track all the information but occasionally get lost in the chaos of life.

    I have read multiple times about personal capital. Inputted our data manually but did not feel comfortable linking any accounts through the site. How safe is the site? Isn’t it a bad idea to have all personal account information linked through one location, making it a high value target for humans with malicious intent. Does anyone have personal experience with the site that can explain the security? Thank you

    1. Marjie Berens

      I understand your angst about the past. Take heart! You know all kinds of things now that will further your financial achievements!
      I’m quite a bit beyond you in age, way behind probably everybody here in my net worth…but I can’t redo anything. I can only try to make wise decisions from here on out.
      On the other hand, we are rich in family, having many children, and now an even greater number of grandchildren. We didn’t invest financially when young–we had babies and spent our money providing for them. We are rich in ways other than a 401k, and I know that if I lost everything I have (in a worldly sense) tomorrow, we would not go hungry nor be homeless, because of our support system.

  33. Great read and i hope that I can have similar luck im think of investing in ripple. i hate i missed out on bitcoin. if anyone is looking for a great read and a teaching source i recommend this
    I have personally learned alot from it and made a nice amount of money from its teachings just thought I would continue helping anyone that wants more and more knowledge

  34. Raghu Narayanan

    I just read a review of RealtyShres @NomadCapitalist. Seems like they bungle up every property he purchased. How has your experience been?
    Thanks and Happy New Year!!

    1. So far so good. That’s why I committed another $300,000 to the real estate equity fund.

      Not sure what nomad capitalist’s picks were, just like if you invest in the stock market, there are winners and there are losers. My thought process is, that I would just invest in a fund that is run by a committee, who controls what deals get on the platform, to choose the investments for me. After a couple years of learning their process, then I can pick specific deals.

      Also, for those people who are picking single-family homes as investments on a real estate crowdfunding platform that is trying to focus on the middle market, I think that’s a sub optimal move.

  35. Mighty Investor

    Hi Sam,

    I really enjoy your blog. You cracked me up a bit with this post, though. You mentioned your family wasn’t rich because your parents were FSOs. Well, I was an FSO for 13 years, then bailed at 42 to become a full-time investor.

    Dude, pretty quickly FSOs are making six figures and then have zero expenses while living overseas. Plus, FSOs earn pensions in 20 years, including health care for the rest of their lives from age 50 onward.

    If you do the math, if they retire at 50, each pension would be valued in the mid-seven figures relative to the amount of money you would need on-hand to purchase a comparable annuity.

    Anyways, no utilities, no rent, no cell phone charges even, making six figures, earning a pension that pays forever from 50 onward (yes, I did abandon that one!), and your kids get to go to private schools that can cost up to $20,000 a year, for free, for as many kids as you have.

    Maybe relative to the financial world you were swimming in they weren’t wealthy, but that’s pretty rich! It’s cash flow upper-middle class (when you are abroad), but when you add in the benefits FSOs are making north of 200K per year. Cheers!


    1. Glad I made you laugh Tom.

      My father is 72 years old. Maybe pay has accelerated since you joined?

      We lived in a modest town home, and drove an eight-year-old Toyota Camry. Here’s a picture of our house actually:

      We definitely were not poor, but I’m pretty certain that we lived a very middle-class lifestyle. Went to public HS and college too in Virginia.

      And if you live in New York City, or San Francisco, the median price home is almost $1.5 million now. Even if you make an adjusted $200K, you can’t afford a home 7.5X your gross income. The D.C. area where we lived. was expensive, but not as much.

      1. I find this a good read. Especially I find it an awesome tool for parents/caregivers to share with their middle school and beyond children. I was not taught nor did I think about time management and personal finances. I’m certain that is because my parents were not taught. Now that I am older I see the very importance of starting young. This is the first writting of yours I’ve read and most certain will not be the last. I am going to share this for I see it’s value. For this I thank you.

  36. I’m 13, live in an upper middle-class family, have good grades in school, and wan’t to start planning out my future now. I wan’t to learn the major mistakes other people have made before I can even grasp the chance to do the same. I run an ebay account where I make ~$400 gross a month buying and reselling high tier shoes and clothing. The money usually ends up in my desk drawer, but I have been dabbling in the investment of crypto currency and I have turned around a $2200 profit so far. I know that money comes with work and gambling for it is the worst thing you could do. I wan’t to be able to live a happy and wealthy life and I know I have all the utilities but I don’t know what to do. This article and many other on this site have been a non-stop read for the past few days. I am willing to work and take risks to sustain financial growth but I don’t know where to start.

    If anyone is willing to give me 3 pieces of advice for my future I will take them with full consideration.

    Thanks, Daniel.

  37. Cameron Ealy

    Hi, guys I just ran across this forum in a 20 year old nursing major. I have little student loan debt as of right now and I was wondering what I could do now to set myself ahead in the financial game.

  38. Pamela Gilbert

    I was being harassed in Anaheim with my child for asking he neighbors kid on some type of drugs to go home-these people have invaded every job i have had- including target -it’s a doctor from allergan pharmacuetical i hadn’t worked there since 1980 when they drugged me and no one called the anyone at all-they put a cot in the bathroom after they did it-terrorists–
    my loan in anaheim was from bank of america-diane alexander was not arrested after i called te anahiem police in 1986-cause of the people nextdoor used to live next to me in garden grove.
    my sears a nd discover credit cards were stolen, when i tried to send in a name change and job change and income report-1997-principal mortgage- inside our store by people from the back of the store-I counted the deposit for the store and the manager gave it to lisa, she must have taken it-
    In 1972 all… insurance agent set p an accident-I came ot a stop twice-fat man black hair-the police did nothing about felons allover the riverview drive-riverside –
    I received 0 un employment checks everyone else from the store did- laid off when the store closed-nothing at all-worked there for years and asked to built a new store-near by-

  39. David Wendelken

    You are absolutely right about what to do when one graduates from college and gets that first big job — preferably without huge student loans.

    If a graduate continues to live very cheaply their first year at their new job, and saves just $15,000 that year, it can transform their retirement.

    Historic rate of return after subtracting inflation for the US stock market is around 7%. $15,000 compounded at 7% for 42 years will yield, on average, over half a million dollars. (That’s in today’s dollars, the actual number would be higher to account for inflation.)
    It would also put the person in the 73rd percentile of net worth among those 65 and older even if they never saved another dime.

    Delaying gratification for a second year and repeating the process would put them at a net worth of just shy of $1,000,000.

    And those are income producing assets that should safely generate an income of $40,000 a year in today’s dollars!

    When I read about middle class families with less than $25,000 in retirement savings at age 65, I just cringe.

    1. David Wendelken

      Darn, I typed in a few numbers wrong. $15,000 at 7% for 42 years will be around a quarter of a million dollars. So two years of that saving would net a half-million dollars, not a million. Safe withdrawal rate would net $20,000 a year of the half million.

      It’s still a huge amount of money for a very small amount of “sacrifice”.

  40. Is it worth it to spend 450K on a dental school degree? I feel like the return on investment is poor. Median salary for a dental associate is around 120K and dentistry is becoming saturated in big cities. What are your thoughts?

    1. I would say that you really have to ask yourself if you would like a particular profession before diving in. If you look at something like dentistry, nursing, or physician careers, none of them may be the ultimate return on investment if you look at it from purely a financial standpoint.

      Obviously, not everyone is suited to even be in any of those professions either. Most people in dentistry have some degree of interest in helping others and probably did not choose it solely for money. That being said, dentistry is a relatively stable profession. No matter how much debt you rack up, you’ll likely get out of it if you are able to hold the job for a certain period of time. How quickly you repay the loans/debt is up to how you choose to spend your earnings early in your career.

    2. Doesn’t sound worth it to me, unless you really, REALLY love to work on people’s teeth. $450,000 earning 5% a year is a nice $22,500 a year in passive income.

      What is it about dentistry that calls to you? If it is about the money, there are plenty of other six figure jobs out there that may be more intriguing. Have a look yourself.

  41. Hi,

    I think our way of thinking quite a like.

    underdog, think before act, company politics etc.

    But still, i just finished my study at 24, 2 years late. :D

    My plan is to work and build a relationship as much as i can until 28 (currently working in logistic line).

    At the end of 28, i should have something i can depend to in order to build my first million. (business).

    From there, i give my self 2 years (until 30) to reach that goal.

  42. Wow I glad I found your site I can’t wait to build my first million. I’m 32 and have a net worth of about 930k so I’m almost there. Not quite under 30 years old but somewhat close. Most of it is into real estate. I also live in Los Angeles.
    Here is my story
    I have always worked and saved money my whole life. First job was at 15 at a local hobby store net worth at 18 years old was about $25000

    I started a successfully eBay business at 18 and put my self through college at the local state university but the eBay business failed and ended when I was 21 years old net worth was $100,000

    I dropped out of college and got into selling life insurance and became a life insurance agent at 22 years old. This was at 2007 and I know because of the housing crash I need to save asap to buy a house. I made 12k my first year as an insurance agent and 73k my second year, 86k my 3rd year about about 80k every year after that. When I was 25 I has a net worth of 150k and I bought my first house for 380,000 with a 150k down payment. My mom gave my $50k so I only had to use my 100k so I still had 50k for emergencies. Bought my second house at 27 years old for $222,000 with 20% down and my 3rd house 29 at $260,000 k at 20% down and I have been aggressively paying them dos. Every since and they are all rented out

    I’m now 32 and the first house is with 650k and I owe 169k second house is with 260k and I owe 95k and 3rd house is with 310k and I owe 185k. I have about 30k in company stock and about 30k in paied of cars and 70k liquid. Last year was my first year I made over 6 figures as an insurance agent at $103,000 last year and this year I’ll probably end up at about 115k

    You don’t need a crazy high income to become a millionaire. You just need to live well below your means and save and invest.

  43. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    Glad to see this post on your front page today!

    I read through the comments and felt a bit surprised by how many people rag on you for the early stock earnings. If anything, I think your path to wealth is much more difficult because you did have an enormous pile of cash at the age of 22/23.

    For most people, that would have led to building a lot of negative spending habits that would have taken many more years to correct. The fact that you were able to wisely invest and keep your earnings – VERY impressive!! :)

    Thanks for putting this post together and I too wish I had read it years ago!

    1. Thanks for reading. The temptation to blow the wad of cash at a young age was there. But because work was so stressful, I knew I had to save it in order to have the option to do some type of less stressful work later.

      I’m VERY glad I converted a lot of the funny money into an SF condo right after my 26th birthday. The ~$460,000 mortgage locked me down!

  44. My path to millions

    20s: living in the Bay area making about 40k/ year (mid 1990); actuary entry level. At age 26, made a big bet that China/ Asia was the place to be and packed it all in to become a poorly paid English/ Math teacher in China (making about USD100/ month…yes USD100!) It was an awesome and incredible experience – did it for one year.

    Mid 20s to Mid 30s: Worked in HK and bounced around jobs here and there (including co-founding a company), making about USD50k/ year. Net worth age 30: USD150k.

    At age 35 got fired from my job and was offered to go to Shanghai China to lead a business unit for well known consultancy. Starting job was USD70k (but was paid in Chinese Currency). Age 35 Net worth about USD300k. I arrived in Shanghai at the right time (when it was affordable and I was paid decently). Key milestones which really accelerated by NW a) married a woman and bought 2 properties in Shanghai b) RMB was appreciating big time. By the time I left China in 2009 at age 42 my networh was USD1 mn.

    In 40s Now living in Singapore (low taxes) and pulling in USD200k year. Bought property in Singapore (not making or losing money).

    At age 50 now (2016) – networth is about USD4 mn. Which approx. 75% is from property holdings. The rest are liquid investments. Although my initial target was USD5 mn…hopefuly I can hit that before 55.

    Need to add that along the way…the family had nice windfall when my uncle sold his bank and my dad shared some of the windfall. My dad gave me about USD500k.

    In hindsight, it was about making the right career bet (betting on Asia) and having a horse shoe up your ass (getting married and lucky time to buy properties in China) and being blessed (uncle selling his bank).

    I’m now thinking about returning to California…and winding down the career. But the taxes in California are so damn scary!!!

    I have two kids 10 and 8. Wife is 35.

    FS – you and I need to hook up man; enjoyed reading your post! Probably have taken some similar paths.

    20s: Figuring out what you want in life
    30s: You’ve figured it out and you are now building your brand name
    40s: Maxing out on pay and titles
    50s: Winding down the career
    60s: Leaving a legacy

    1. Sounds like you took an adventure that I WANTED to take out of college, but didn’t because I got a job I could not refuse (GS in NYC). If I had an offer from any other job, I would have gone to China in 1999. But it is hard to reject a frontline revenue generating job from what was then the toughest bank to get into (maybe still is) and be potentially set for life if I lasted 10 years.

      The China move for you was great. Seems like your wife comes from a wealthy family? If your wife can buy TWO properties at age 20, or in her early 20s (?), that is pretty damn good! Not too sure how many people have Uncle’s who “sold his bank” either!

      What a crazy run Singapore went through from 2000 onward yeah? I remember Singapore being relatively affordable then. We can go eat some curry crab next time I’m visiting!

  45. I view the tremendous energy as a huge advantage. That’s why I spend all of my time right now (early twenties) working my a** off to build something for myself, while the rest of people my age are concerned with partying and other shenanigans.

  46. Hi Sam, I’m 55 years old, I live in the Canary Island, can you give some tips to achieve the finance freedom. I Speak more languages, Spanish is my mother tongue, I speak English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese. I want to start in some new project for my life. Thanks for very useful articles.

  47. Well said. Nicely told with great instruction. Have one for you. Im am 34. I worked my tail off, made some great investments and have a net orb of 6 mil. But I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck and not sure what to do. It’s wierd. I am the underdog, wear exactly what you do, it’s funny actually. I have my toys, a few houses, nice cars, great wife etc, so do I just live. I can retire if I want. Easy. At number was a low ball. What do you think

    1. It’s funny how we get used to our net worth isn’t it?

      Figure out what things you really love to do and do them. You have enough money to do whatever you want now. I left banking in 2012 at 34 to make little money as a blogger. But it’s been a ton of fun, and it surprisingly has turned out to be quite lucrative as well. See: How Much Can You Really Make Blogging?

      Find something that pays you, fulfills you, and is fun. Then you’ll have a lot more inspiration!

  48. Great motivational post. Definitely shows that after 2 years, people are still commenting. It’s refreshing to see what it’s going to take for someone in the medical profession who is over a decade behind to build wealth. It definitely can be done if you stick to the principles that you’ve outlined.

    I’ve considered that if I had taken a tech job instead of going into medicine (I made a last minute decision to change careers) and had been knowledgeable about finance then, it’d still take me into my late 40’s/early 50’s to catch up financially as a doctor compared to the tech/finance equivalent of me. That’s the power of compound interest and time.

    Keep up the good work!

  49. Hi Sam,
    I found your story really inspiring and to me, it seems like you’ve grafted to get where you are. Some are given opportunities and, as you say, waste them due to laziness or entitlement. I also think that writing posts like this is a great way of giving back in a way as others glean their own advice and solutions from your experiences.

    Glad to have found your blog.

  50. Mysticaltyger

    You didn’t make a “conscience” choice to attend a public university, but you did make a conscious one.

  51. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Hey Sam – Saw you link to this post in response to Michael’s post on transparency and tracking his net worth on his way to $10M

    Don’t think I ever read this post, but wish I had about 5 years earlier.

    Until this last year I had not given #9 “Office Politics” the attention that it deserved. Since leaving college I have worked my ass off to impress the top in order to move up quickly. I have worked at 3 different companies over the last 8 years. The good news is that I always got noticed by the top, but I wasn’t good at using that to my advantage (or maybe my timing was just bad).

    I also think I shot myself in the foot a bit when I left the company I started with right out of school. I was there for 5 years, and was in the sweet spot of advancement there. But for some reason I got a hair up my ass to leave the company (an oil company) to go work somewhere fun and younger (in action sports).

    I thought 20% raises were good enough.

    At the Action Sports company I got noticed very quickly by the C-suite, but happen to join the company at a challenging time. I had not done my homework before I accepted the offer to go and work for them. They had been in a multi year restructuring…and things were not improving.

    So, even though I got in with the right people, we had so much turnover that those people were never around long enough to help put my career trajectory on the exponential curve I was working so hard for.

    When I finally left that company before an impending BK filing, I made sure to join a smaller company that had huge growth and robust profitability.

    Third time is a charm right?

    This time I played my cards right. I again impressed the C-Suite (particularly the CEO). The CEO is now my biggest fan and has helped turbo charge my career.

    I now believe that I am with a company that will help me play catch up for the hands I didn’t play perfectly last time.

    Great post!


    1. Good luck on the third time! I don’t think it’s bad to move around every 5 years to get those bump ups. Although, I would leave for greater than 20% b/c taxes take out 30% of that!

      Office politics is huge. You’ve got to sell yourself internally as much as you should sell yourself externally!

  52. Hi!
    I am 17 year old university student living on campus away from home(I turn 18 November 30th) and my goal is to have over a million by 30. At 16 I invested $1000 that i saved into a tax free saving account (I am Canadian) and now i have over $2000 split up into aggressive and long term investments. I am planning on putting as much money as I can into my portfolio. I need to start working however first year university is tough, getting into the swing of things though! I also would like to start a business/website before the end of the year, so i can start having multiple cash flows. Everyday for at least an hour I do research on starting businesses, investments, the ways of the wealthy, and different ways of making money. I am also currently reading a book called “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. Which is teaching me success through relationships and networks of people. That sounds all fine and dandy but here is my dilemma.

    I am in University for Outdoor Adventure Leadership, I graduate with a Bachelors of Physical Education. I chose this program for my love travel and being active (I was raised by a single mother since the age of 4 and she has given me the gift of travel at a very young age. She worked very hard and she is a very successful sales agent and one of my biggest inspirations) However as you can see I also have a strong passion for becoming very successful and making money. I am worried that my program won’t help me get anywhere besides teaching me leadership aspects. Do you think I should change my path in education to something more business related?

    What types of business do you think an 18 year old could start. Success comes to the ones that are not afraid to fail. I want to fail earlier rather than later. I am probably going to start a snow shoveling business in the winter as it snows a lot up here and hire some university students for work. However I am interested in the online business world. I mean its 2015, a lot of money is online these days.

    Is there anything else that you recommend I get a grip on early that may help in the future?

    Just like you one of my biggest motivators is not being a failure in life. I don’t want to waste my life and I know I can achieve great things. I have short term and long term goals written down in my phone that I look at every night before bed.

    This site that you put together is very motivating and I will definitely be exploring it more in the future. If you could respond to this comment it would be much appreciated!

    Andre Ryan

  53. I am 22 since a month now and in six months I will finish my tourism and eventmanagement studies. I am planing on taking a year of to see the globe, but I am still ready to make some money now. The problem is I have no idea how to invest my money (especially since I don’t have any). I am not the best with numbers but I know this won’t stop me from a reaching my goal anyways. Now my question how is the best way to learn about the market since everything I have been reading so far really just didn’t make any sense to me since I don’t know anything about the market or the different ways to invest and different places to invest my little money. I would be so thankful for a respond.

    You are really motivating me to get things done now and I don’t have any more excuses to get started. I really want to make a move now.

  54. English Business Student

    I found it very interesting reading your blog posts and arguably just as interesting to read just some of the comments here.

    As the screen name suggests I am a student studying business (Enterprise Development BA Hons) in England, I am 23 and in my second year out of 3, it is interesting for me to compare your experiences with my own as I am now just beginning on my journey and will be creating my own story as you have described.

    I only hope that one day I will be recalling my tale with such fondness.
    However the opportunities today feel much more bleak than of the times when you and many of your commenters started out after graduating.

    I have a typical student bank account which has a big fat – in front of the £ but a dream that I will also have a net wealth of £1MM by the time I am 30.

    Keep blogging

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  57. Just came across this blog and thought this is a great read. I don’t know anyone personally who’s able to amass such wealth at such a young age. I’m 29 and was working in corporate finance at a top tech company until I decided to take a break from the rat race to do a round the world trip. I’m close to $400k in net worth. My wealth allocation is about 50% rental real estate and 50% stock bond index and p2p lending

    Just wanted to add a little comic that relates to the previous comments and discussions in this thread. It’s a great simple way of summarizing life and opportunity. Most of the population can relate more to the person on the right. The lucky few born into privilege is on the left.

    Although its true we make our own destiny. I definitely think this article is more geared towards the person on the left of the comic :) but of course nothing is impossible even if you didn’t come from a middle class family.

    Just to share my own background I’m more of the person on the right and quite proud of my accomplishments and hope to get to the same level as Sam one day.

  58. Woah!!! SAM…..this is a great stuff and very timely to me. I am now 20 and on my second year in college in kenya. in the last six months i made a resolution to be NW $1.0 M by 25. i first thought it is an impossible affair but after reading your post i can see it working. For the period of six months i have been able to make $3600 from doing online jobs besides balancing with my studies in school. i thank God to be having inspirational and supportive parents just as u said u had in your post.
    JUST as u said it takes a lot of sacrifice to arrive at a million, am sure i will embrace all that u did…i trade shares at the stock and offer financial services such as soft loans at higher interest rates with the bucks i have made so far.The post was an eye opener a real evidence that it will work out.
    thanks for your services
    kindly more advices

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  60. Just stumbled upon the site and was intrigued. I was shocked and intrigued by the No BS facts on savings. I’ve read other financial pieces and the general recommendation is, pay off your college debt, pay off CC debt, max out 401k and if you have money left over contribute to a Roth IRA. Ive done all those things since graduating and not sure what to do next. I always thought I was doing well but this site reminds me that I could be doing better.

    I’m 33 currently make $95k/year and havent calculated my net worth. I have my 401k via my employer maxed out. I started working at Age 26. Late graduate but graduated with no 10k debt which i payed off pretty quickly afterwards. Current 401k value is ~$275k. its done well even with my limited number of contributing years. Ive also maxed for the last 6 years. I was two years late on making contributions once i started working. Its worth ~$50k. I bought my first home in 2010. Its a two family owner occupied unit. I refied into a 15 year loan 3 years ago. I paid $229k for the property, -$10k tax credit = $-219k. Currently house is valued at $239k but would probably sell for $249-$259 fairly easy.I owe ~$168k on it. My monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance is $2100/month. I collect $1k in rent each month.

    I have $45k in a ally bank account earning 0.8%. I have $25k in a checking account not doing much. Over the last 3 years ive invested ~40k in the stock market with about half my holdings in high risk stocks. Im down 50% on the high risk portion and about 5% on the conservative portion. I’ve been net positive in the last year but slipped negative again when my high risk stock tanked. I anticipate a rebound there and riding it for now. I basically said F it with that chunk of cash.

    I could probably save more but dont track it. My checking account moves up each month. ~25k/year. which is about ~35% of post tax income.

    Based on that what would you recommend my next moves be? Ive been considering more rental property that potentially needs work because Ive become pretty handy over the years, Kitchen/Bath renos, hardwood floors etc… I’d like to wait though because im considering switching jobs and moving. I currently live in CT and the tax climate/cost of living is not a bargain. Other ideas were opening fast food healthy eats place next to my local gym. I think it would do well. Must be 500-1000 people at least foot traffic at gym each day.

    Besides that i just continue to save and max out my retirement accounts with conservative smart investment choices. What else should I be doing? What can I do better? I’d like to keep the $45k as my rainy day/down payment on next house. Ill be moving either locally or somewhere else into a single family home within the next year.

  61. Is turning $4000 into $160,000 that regular? This sounds astoundingly far fetched. Obviously there was risk involved but getting back x40 what you put in is just mind blowing.

  62. You’re so right about millionaires being so low profile. I never underestimate the person sitting next to me. Rich people come in all shapes and sizes and hopefully soon enough I’ll be the one flying under the radar.

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  64. Bruizerblue

    While there are a plethura of millionaires these days at age 28, there are a lot of things that don’t make sense in this path. First, what degree or connections did you have to get into a Goldman Sachs job at age 22? Second assuming you actually had 4,000 after college and investing 3,000 and turning it to 120K AFTER taxes in a few months? That’s something like an 8000% return on your money? Third, you saved an additional 40K your first year at a job in NYC as a 22 year old? Fourth, apparently a job that was double the money was offered two years in? What were the annual salaries and in 2001? On your salary in one year you saved an additional 140,000 after taxes in San Fran? Then you did a “silly” thing and bought an $78,000 dollar car at age 26. I remember buying my second car at age 28 for $21,000 and sweating over it. But now you’re the VP of Goldman Sachs so I guess at the end it makes sense. If this story is true, I don’t think it is applicable to 98% of people, because your salary must’ve been in the top 2% nearly off the bat. Again, not hating but I look at things realistically and I’m seeing a lot of top 1% patterns. No matter how much I save, I can’t save more than $35K every year and thats with a 75K job.

    1. It’s definitely OK to hate, so not to worry. Just use hate to motivate you to do something more for yourself. I just shared my story. There are plenty of others.

      I went to public school and my parents worked in the State Department. They were squarely middle class and we lived in a $240,000 town home in Virginia.

      I was totally lucky with my stock pick of VCSY. It was crazy in 2000. And I guess I was lucky to transfer those after taxes earnings into a Downpayment on a 2/2 condo in SF in 2003.

      I don’t think I was lucky in getting in at 5:30am, working hard to produce revenue, and aggressively save 50-75%+ of my after tax income every year for 13 years. That was a conscience choice.

      I think it is a mix of luck and resolution that I’ve been able to grow this sight organically and replicate my income while I was in banking.

      Can you share your story so I can better understand where you are coming from? Thanks

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  66. I’m 22, and I’ve invested 50% of my salary on stocks. After playing the market for 1 month and getting a $4,000+ gain I got hooked. I’ve invested about 25k in the market in some VERY lucrative penny stocks. However, my ownership percentage in the company has increased – and I strongly feel it will be very profitable next year. What I will do when I make my first 100,000-1,000,000? Probably invest portions into gold, dividend stock, and start a business.

    I’ve been scrutinized by colleagues & family for my insane investing habits, not having enough money to go out & party, but again – scared money makes no money & those who dare to fail greatly, dare to achieve greatly.

    My advice to anyone is; work hard, learn a variety of skills that can make you more marketable in your career, act like a professional, study stocks inside & out – don’t follow anyone elses DD do your own research, and most importantly – act like money doesn’t exist and continue to save & invest.

  67. Hi,
    It’s a great read and I learnt quite a few things from here. I’m currently a mechanical engineering senior and have not much knowledge in stock trading and economics except what I read online and a few economic courses I’ve taken in college. I want to learn more about it but is there any other way that I could make my 1st million before my 30s? When I was 17, I was thinking of trying ForEx but the risk was too large and the profit was too little.
    And let’s say I get lucky just like you and raise up about $150,000 but how shall I invest that? I know it varies case by case but there has to be a general idea.
    And for the last question, I’m sure there were many distractions (like social life, family or those moments when you’re just sad and lonely) when you were out of college and trying to make things work. How did you stay focused ?

  68. Love the story, wouldn’t be able to become a millionaire myself by 30 as I’ve already went past that age but hopefully in the near future. Your story is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  69. I just graduated from high school and went right into college. I am pursuing a BSc in Information Technology. I would love to hear your take on this, Did I do the right thing or I should’ave taken A 1 year break.

      1. What are the best careers I can pursue with this degree. I have a dew in mind already but I want to hear your thoughts.

  70. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    I’m always walking around thinking “millionaire by 30”. Of course now that 30 is closer than ever, I’m thinking I might have to bump it up to 32 or 33. I definitely live by the “I have nothing to lose” philosophy. The ability to be selfish with my money and life choices without dependents or anything else to consider helps A LOT.

  71. Hi. Thanks for this article ! It is motivating to know about your success.
    I’m a 24yr old engineer making roughly 100K/yr. I’m striving to be a multi-millionaire by age 30 by working really hard(~70hrs/wk) and looking to make huge investments with my income. I’m single, live a very simple below average lifestyle and have unquenching thirst for success.

    I’d appreciate any suggestions as to how I can properly invest to hit my goal.
    Thank you.

    1. Best thing to be doing at you age/income is to max out your 401k deferrals. That was probably my biggest mistake in my 20s. Your marginal tax rate is about 25%, so sheltering $16,000 per year really adds up.

      Working 70 hours per week makes it hard to pick up side projects. I’m in the same boat right now. You need something passive. Stock market is obviously the easiest, but one alternative I am working on is being a silent partner in a franchise. I reached out to owners who were looking to sell and asked if they would be willing to stay on managing with me as a financial partner. Didn’t take too long to find someone to find someone up for the deal. Best of luck.

  72. Congratulation on your success. Your article is motivating. I would disagree with one point you made about someone with no woman or a man as a sign of failure. People get in and out of relationships, so a lot of whether someone is single or not is just timing.

  73. Better story that is probably more reproducible. My neighbor was born with a 20 million trust fund. How to get to age 0 1 day with 20 million, be born to rich parents.

  74. LonghornsRock512

    Discovered your site about 4 days ago and have been reading every day since– definitely enjoy the material. The thing I can’t understand though, is that the average person doesn’t have a 6-figure job at GS out of college, and wasn’t able to turn $3,000 into $155,000 in 6 months from a lucky stock pick. So its a little disingenuous to claim that anyone can do what you’ve done.

    I have been fortunate in my life to have had my college paid for without any student loans, and help from my father for a down payment for my first home. I am 29 years old, with about a $310,000 net worth – but don’t see how I will get to $1 million anytime soon. My original goal at 18 was millionaire by 30—but obviously, short of winning the lottery, that won’t be happening in the next 5 months. I contribute 6% to my 401k (no company match), 4% to an employee stock purchase plan, and save 20-25% of my net-paycheck each month.

    My annual income in 2014 will be close to $95,000, which is about 2 1/2 times higher than it was from 2006 (graduated college) to 2013 — I am saving as much money as possible and hope to increase my savings rate and purchase another home as an investment property in 2015. I have 2 outside investments, in private partnerships. Both are yielding 16-18% annualized on $100,000 total investment. I plan on rolling the principle and interest from both of these into similar high-risk / private partnership investments when they mature / pay out.

    Do you have any particular advice to accelerate the process for me?

    Thanks, and keep the great content coming.

    1. Welcome to my site!

      Not everybody will become a millionaire by 30, but it is certainly possible and I am nobody special. I had parents who worked middle class jobs for the government, went to a public school, worked hard and got lucky by getting on the 6am bus to DC for a recruiting fair that was empty bc nobody else wanted to wake up that early.

      You have won the lottery with your dad helping out for a downpayment. Check out:

      There’s a good chance you might not have to do anything more than what you are doing right now due to a generational wealth transfer.

      To accelerate, build more income streams.

      Good luck!

  75. Hi Mr. Sam I’m 25 years old no college degree, low income, roughly 20,000 a year and I wanna strive for wealth and success but really dumb to the building a business, investment, or finance part of life but I want to learn and prosper long term but am clueless on how to due so is there any way possible besides slaving a dead end job the rest of my life to obtain these goals I would really appreciate the advice any advice is an asset to me thanks in advance

    1. Hey Jamal, it’s good that you’ve got this mindset already. Your are still young, and there is plenty of time left to build wealth, it all depends on you.

      First thing’s first:
      Save your money, Don’t splurge on clothe’s, car’s, and eating out.
      Live below your means.
      Read, about investing (real estate, stocks, etc) There is ton’s of material online.

      In the end, it all depends on you.

    2. Best advice, take as much advantage of government programs as possible in order to allow for additional savings. Depending on your state as a single male you should still be able to get some extra assistance for food. I took advantage of this while working part time in college. While doing this continue to work at increasing your income. If you aren’t into the academic college route, go into the trades (electrician, plumber, HVAC specialist, etc) with the mindset of being the best and work towards getting a contractors license. As you make more continue to live as you still only make $20k. There is a LOT of drug users and alcoholics in the trades, still good folks, but there is a lacking of motivation to work toward something bigger. Many many millionaire/billionaires started in the trades. There is also currently an under supply of people with skills in the trades.

  76. But if it is a full time MBA then you are in debt of about 150k for 2 yrs and on top you are forgoing your income. Say if you make 100k a year then that leads to a total of 350k opportunity cost. How would that be worth it though? Wouldn’t it be better to do a part time MBA while still having an income?

    1. I did part time and 80% was paid for. I was doing what I wanted to do hence the PT.

      Many graduates to on to make $500,000+ a year from top schools several years out. So the opportunity cost isn’t that bad, especially if you plan to work for at least a decade after.

  77. Hi Sam,

    What are your thoughts on a FT MBA? Is it still worth it to get it from a top 10 MBA school? I am 26 and applying for next year. I plan on paying it off with my own money which is a significant investment and would cut my savings thoroughly.

  78. just get into a once in a lifetime stock market bubble, hopefully you will be 22 when it happens, and throw everything at one trade…..what a joke!

    the fact it took you 5 more years from 160,000 to get to a million is a little embarrassing, especially when one considers an extremely well paying job and a supposed stock market genius.. this is worthless to most everyone who reads it.

    1. I am embarrassed for my failures, but I will continue to try hard and improve every day. Care to share your story? I’m always curious to know and learn from people who’ve done a better job at creating their fortune. Thanks.

      1. I can relate with Sam. I went to a flagship large public university, got the highest paying job I could out of college working for a large IT firm, and worked my butt off while I lived with my parents. I saved everything I could and purchased a 3000$ used car for reliable commute. I paid my parents rent which covered half their mortgage , food and utilities were included. After 4 years of waiting, the real estate market crashed and I purchased my first property in a gentrifying neighborhood in the city. I lived in the basement on a futon and rented out the 3 upstairs bedrooms, it covered my mortgage and some. I renovated the house slowly over 3 years and finally moved out when I purchased a 4 unit apt building in the adjacent neighborhood which was on the cusp of gentrifying. I am in my early 30s and I have 4 properties (8 units). The constant is that I always worked hard, both in my 9-5 and now in Real Estate and that I saved a lot. I am approaching $2M in net wealth and I drive a 1999 Hyundai Accent. It might be time to upgrade that but I don’t see myself spending more then 5k on a car. While I was doing my thing I saw most my friends wasting their money away on cars and unnecessary purchases. Most of them have nothing to show for it other then a liability they consider an asset (primary residence), some not even that. This is a very easy formula but it requires discipline. I think that is what separated me from my friends.

        1. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story! A huge housing crisis may not be in the cards for those of us who are starting in the last few years, but the constants–spending way below your means, and buying assets instead of liabilities–will always produce more wealth than a consumption lifestyle.

    2. Yes, please do share your story Matt. I don’t think I’m alone to think that it’s amazing to save a million dollars in one’s 20’s. By looking at the numbers, FS is fairly aggressive in his savings. I don’t know anyone else who saves over 30% of their income, let alone 60%. I wish I read these kinds of inspiring stories when I was in high school and perhaps I would be closer to being a millionaire by now. I feel behind like some of FS’s readers here, but I’m still working hard to save. Actually, I come to this site reading this story because there’s a blazer on sale that I really want to have but know I don’t need, so this story keeps me running back to the store :-). Thanks Sam for curbing my spending.

      1. I think the “save a million during the ’20s” goal is different for different people. If you go to college, and then law school or pursue some other degree, that goal may get pushed back. Hopefully the graduate degrees actually provide a substantially higher income to make up for “lost time.” If so, someone may be able to snowball their wealth significantly in their late ’20s/early ’30s, and reach financial independence at a similar age to someone who started earning a lower salary in their early ’20s. The bottom line is that it’s never too late to start!

    3. I can relate with Sam. I went to a flagship large public university, got the highest paying job I could out of college working for a large IT firm, and worked my butt off while I lived with my parents. I saved everything I could and purchased a 3000$ used car for reliable commute. I paid my parents rent which covered half their mortgage , food and utilities were included. After 4 years of waiting, the real estate market crashed and I purchased my first property in a gentrifying neighborhood in the city. I lived in the basement on a futon and rented out the 3 upstairs bedrooms, it covered my mortgage and some. I renovated the house slowly over 3 years and finally moved out when I purchased a 4 unit apt building in the adjacent neighborhood which was on the cusp of gentrifying. I am in my early 30s and I have 4 properties (8 units). The constant is that I always worked hard, both in my 9-5 and now in Real Estate and that I saved a lot. I am approaching $2M in net wealth and I drive a 1999 Hyundai Accent. It might be time to upgrade that but I don’t see myself spending more then 5k on a car. While I was doing my thing I saw most my friends wasting their money away on cars and unnecessary purchases. Most of them have nothing to show for it other then a liability they consider an asset (primary residence), some not even that. This is a very easy formula but it requires discipline. I think that is what separated me from my friends.

  79. Hey Sam,

    This is the second time I read this article now. It’s the best one I’ve read on Financial Samurai.

    It’s very inspiring what you’ve done and I love the long-term thinking. Real estate is interesting, you seem to have done a great job there. By the way, did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger made his first million(s) from real estate? This was before he got famous as an actor.

    1. Hi Ludvig,

      I didn’t know that about Arnold. Great stuff! He seems like a very enterprising person. So perhaps one’s own drive and skillset is very important as well.


  80. The best lesson is the same lesson your grandparents would tell you. Start saving early and live below your means. The only difference is that you should put that message on steroids. Do that for as long as possible. I thought I was saving/investing a lot when I was in my early 20’s and living like a spendthrift. Compared to most of my peers, I was. But the peers I’d rather have are FS and others on this site. Unfortunately, I know now I could have done more. Now that I’m in my late 30’s, I feel like I am behind. Of course, to many I am way ahead. But again, comparing myself to F/S and others on this site I have a ways to go.

    1. I agree with your message.

      The thing is, there is always someone even further ahead, so it’s a never ending battle if you let it become a battle.

      We only need so much to be happy. There are just some mind boggling stories out there like the Whatsapp sale for $16 billion!

  81. Hi Sam. You say “Net Worth After Taxes”….whats the easiest way to compute that? I have all my accounts in Personal Capital but that shows before tax (with the exception of my Roth)…am I wrong?

    Are you including all your assets in your calculation (including real estate, jewelry, etc ) or just cash and securities?

    Im 43 and my net worth is a little over a million including my primary residence. I usually feel better than most but not when I read your blog!

  82. Two things you significantly underestimate in your post:
    Structural factors that can make or break you:

    1) Your white and male(I’m guessing ). As a women of color – it would have been so much harder to rise in a company – older mentors who are white and male would never have promoted you to VP. There is plenty of evidence of this statistically – it is much harder as a minority and as a women to rise.

    2) You are also a Gen Xer which has a much better job market when you graduated and is a smaller generation compared to Gen Y so there are more jobs and less competition for those jobs.

    1. Hi Cat – You’re right, I’m just lucky.

      But I’m not a white male. Can’t argue with being born in the late 70s.

      But do you think younger people have more energy than older people? And do you not agree that it’s easier to take more risk when you have more time and less to lose?

      We can focus on race and age to defeat us and discredit people. But how about we focus on my thesis?

  83. whoofff Almost read all the comments.
    I love reading and talking about money!

    I just turned 26 couple months ago. My wife and I started a business ( cellphone stores) 4 going to 5 years ago. Its hard to tell our net worth, 2013 was good but also the worse in comparison. Early 2013 we open one store selling different vendors which we ended up closing since we knew it wasn’t going to cut it. We lost money to the landlord in order to break contract plus also all the money that we put in it. Fast forward to nov, 2013 sign a contract for a new store which was supposed to be open by December. (We ended opening 2 days ago) long store short this store we put laminated floors 3 days after it got water damage and we had to stop and re do everything again.. on Dec 27 my oldest store got robbed and set on fire ( yes everything was lost ) now fighting the insurance. we were planning to open another store by December which will take place actually mid feb or march.
    Anyways, we have over 100k in merchandise. Home is half paid which It has around $150k equity ( we shall pay it off in 2 or 3 years) we have a bit over 100k cash. I am calculating that we are making around 250k a year, if the two new stores produce then it will get us to 350k ( and we probably re open or relocate the store that was burned) that may at least be safe to say we will make $350k.. while this year I want to buy two rental properties and then 2 or 3 extra every year. I think we could manage to reach 1MM by age 30. Ifthings go as planned possibly even more ( because we were suppose to have 6 stores by 2014) I hope by 2018 we have 15 or more stores which in that case 1MM should be a problem and the addition of rental properties and other investments that may arise.
    Btw, four years ago we started with $20K and we open a second store after 8 months but we were in debt from the start until we paid it off completely almost two years after first opening. Pretty much all the money that we have now we made it in the last 2 years.

  84. Frank @ WallStCollege

    Wow. Incredible story, really inspirational to everyone out there. If I may ask, what was the position you worked for at your firm, was it related to investing?

    I think the problem with most people out there is that they live the moment entirely. The key to success is to focus on your long-term goals and do at least a little everyday to get there. One quote that I love to focus on, “If you did what you did today for the next 15 years, where would you be”.

      1. chad_thundercock

        Was it sales or was it trading?

        Do you think these numbers are accurate?:

        I myself have been in software for 2 years since graduating. Trying to now move into presales engineer / technical consultant roles. They pay about 200k, rise to 400k when you are more senior and bring home the bacon. Its similar to the average comp in S&T sales. You don’t need to have landed an internship and jumped through the right hoops in college either.

        I highly recommend people in tech look at sales engineering and technical sales. It pays much better and you stop being a commodity. Relationships you build can transfer over to other jobs too; whereas tech is often just a job – as the tech you learn is evolving your knowledge becomes outdated.

        1. Yes, those numbers are pretty in line.
          Any occupation where you are responsible for bringing in the revenue allows you to potentially make more if you generate more. That’s all one can ever ask for… having a correlation with performance and compensation.

          Towards the end of my career in 2011 and 2012, that correlation broke, so I figured, why bother. Instead, I went out on my own!

  85. Outstanding article! Hard work and perseverance pay off in the long run. I especially like your advice to remain humble and be seen as the underdog, while also building alliances and seeking out a mentor at work. I’m an active duty Army officer with 17 years of service and keep telling my Soldiers (from private on up) that they can retire as millionaires if they make their savings automatic and live below their means. I made a lot of financial mistakes-buying a brand new Corvette in 2000 and short selling a house in California being the biggest-but consistently saved and invested and got ride of debt. I’m well on my way to the million dollar mark and will hit it by 45 with the plan I have in place. My personal financial education was through experience, but I wish I had had resources like this blog when I was in my teens. All our kids should learn from sites like yours. Keep up the good work!

  86. I have read this with interest as someone who took some of the steps you mentioned at 33. Got an MBA, moved to another country (“halfway across the world”) and am now working on establishing our fourth business at age 64, and loving it.

    With real estate we are at just under 2M and are feeling quite confident about the next few years. The type of business we have is almost 100% Internet-based with low overhead. Will be fun to see how far we can go with it.

    The wife and I have done this together, and I cannot over-emphasize the importance of that. It’s definitely not always been easy but without a life partner it would seem rather pointless.

    Oh, and our car was 16 years old when we got clobbered from the rear last year. Now have a still frugal car, but can appreciate the difference with a slight move up.

    Main point is that you SHOULD take risks early and give it your best. Get well set, then take more risks later while leaving yourself some breathing room.

    I also plot everything on an Excel sheet and feel that this is the only informative way to understand what is happening to you, as you describe in your own shorthand what is going on… I am guessing running commentaries that make you pause and think are not possible with some of these other financial life-planning programs.

    Above all … Think, then do! You have but one life.

  87. Hello,

    I have a question. I am a young person and I am inspired by your path to becoming a millionaire. My question is, when choosing an education, would you say that business school is the clear cut/obvious choice for someone who wants to amass wealth? What if I liked science? Or tech? Or engineering? Is the smartest play to study finance, economics, etc instead?


    1. Hi Charles,

      Good on you for researching your options early on. The median starting total salary for the top 10 business school 29 years old graduates is around $120,000-$140,000 as of 2013. So yes, an MbA from a too school significantly increases your chances.

      I would major/minor in computer science, Econ, finance, and take communications classes. Wonderful communicators in speech and writing go much farther IMO. Do well in school to at least give yourself a chance at more opportunities!

      Good luck!


  88. Sam,

    Very impressive. I actually didn’t start my wealth building until I was in my early 30s. If you have a chance in future posts it would be great to get a sense of what your thoughts might be on what strategies are most effective for building wealth.



    1. Hi James,

      I really think real estate is the best way for most people to build wealth over the long run. It’s less volatile, provides utility, more controllable, and puts management in your own hands.

      Here is my latest passive income streams post:



  89. I absolutely love this article! I am 27 and is constantly talking to my wife about a break through. Yep, did the whole college thing…. Graduated, and started working…. I’ve two 401k’s and the one from my previous job is in a Roth 401k aggressive portfolio. Still trying to figure out if I want to move it…… I don’t know much about the stock market, as IT is my get up. I do have a little PC business working out of home and it does bring in some income, just getting the business is the biggest thing.

    Reading your articles just motivates me even more! Work hard now, play hard later.

    My 2 cents.

  90. I’m catching up on reading comments again and wanted to note something that may be obvious, but your humble style de-emphasized it. Your building a 7 figure net worth in your 20’s, with just about 6 years working is astounding. My guess is that only 1 in a 1000 do this. Good work, and I do mean WORK.

  91. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    At age 27 my net worth is around 30k. I decided to pursue acting as a career so my income is extremely variable and limited. The fact that I’m not in debt and have as much to my name as I do makes me proud. But reading stories like yours motivates me to work harder and find new and innovative ways to save, invest, and grow.

    1. Hi Stefanie, nice job not being in debt and best of luck with the acting career. If you make it big, please invite me to be your date to the next grand soiree OK? Cheers

  92. This site is great. I really want your input on my situation. I am 26 right now and have $33K in my 401k in a basic mutual fund and the other half I am attempting swing trading. My personal savings account is at $46,300. I am looking for another used car since my jeep died and probably going to spend $7000, exactly the rule for my income $75K with my bonus. I had diverted more of money to my savings account so I can buy a small business in the future (age 30 is the target date). I just paid off all of my undergraduate debt.

    I am currently going for my MBA part time paid for by my employer. I refuse to pay any expenses out of pocket for tuition even if it means taking 4 years to complete. Question is, how do you think I am positioned right now? I did graduate in 09 when the economy bombed completely. I am trying to look at additional ways to grow my savings. I as considering leaving the bulk of my savings, the core $40,000 in low interest secure investments like CDs. I was then going to place any additional dollars saved in Jan into aggressive investments like stocks. think that makes sense?

    I really want to take advantage of the next 3 – 4 before I am in my early 30s so I can grow a nice capital cushion. I am not as far ahead as you are when you were my age.

    1. Hi Jon,

      I think you are on a fantastic track to financial freedom.

      If I was in your shoes I would do all the research I could on investments other than savings and CDs at this point in time. $40,000 in absolute savings is a lot, and it is also a large part of your net worth. If the stock market pulls back do to an exogenous variable like a Syrian raid by the US, is start mobilizing those funds.

      Good luck!

  93. Sam,

    I’ve read your blogs for some time, in particular the one which you try and give some guidance to where the “above average” worker should be re NW by certain ages (

    I couldn’t identify more with you. I too came into the workforce with no money, but came from a loving family, and using my brain, and discipline, and hard work reached roughly $1.3MM by age 36. I too had a run in with the law in my 20’s, and it made me even more thankful to be focused on building NW vs Building a playboy reputation.

    I enjoyed watching my friends go out all the time and complain about not having any money and getting into trouble, while I spent my free time at the office, or bettering myself with Language, MBA, and additional work training all paid for by my employer.

    Now i’m married, and have 2 young children and i’m 38, and wondering if i’m too old to finally quit being a W2 worker, and go out on my own. I fear the energy i once had has been magically transferred from me to my kids and i’m more conservative and tired now than i ever was.

    Knowing what you know now about yourself, would you say you’d be equally proud of yourself if you were still gainfully employed and never went out on your own? I’m afraid i’m going to end up not realizing that dream and will be relegated to realizing a good NW, but not a potentially great NW. Any thoughts?

    Keep up the great Blog! I think you’re changing lives.


    1. Hi Bud, great job getting to $1.3m!

      I’m not sure if you are ever too old to go out on your own if you’ve got a great idea. I would incubate and launch the idea for at least a year while you’ve got your W2 income. I did it for three years (the last year was where I really focused) b/c I was too afraid. But, I’m glad I did in the end.

      My energy is absolutely fading, and I felt if I don’t do it now before kids and before 40, I don’t think I’d ever do it.

      I think if I was still working, I would ALWAYS be wondering what if. Now that I know, I have no regrets… but if I had failed at achieving my income goals… maybe it would be another story. But at least I would also put to rest my desire to be an entrepreneur.

      Best to you!


  94. @Real Person

    I’m 27 and have a net worth of about 5k, in a low paying job where I struggle to save more than 10% after tax as much as I try. But I don’t see why 90% of the population are not catered for. There are lessons here for everyone. You may disagree with a lot of it, but if there are even one or two things you can pick out that may help you, isn’t that better than nothing?

    1. mysticaltyger

      I agree with you, Brendan. People love to pick apart these kinds of posts because they don’t apply 100% to their own lives. That’s what cop outs do. They look for excuses or reasons why they can’t do the same thing. I mean, OF COURSE someone else’s life experience isn’t going to apply 100% to your own. Duh. Take the parts that work for you and discard that parts that don’t. The common threads seem to be the same: 1. Prioritize saving. 2. Work both hard AND smart. 3. Earn at least an average income, and preferably better than average.

      Heck, I probably won’t hit $1M until I’m 55, but so what? I like reading posts like this and hearing other people’s experiences.

      1. Thanks MysticalTyger. Stories are personal and will never be one size fits all. In a large way I’m relieved to write this post so I never have to write it again.

        And it’s really the journey that’s most rewarding, not the end result. The feeling of accomplishment is fleeting.

    2. Brendan, just your attitude alone is going to take you far. I’ve seen people over the years shift their attitudes and proceed to accomplish more than they ever thought possible. Good luck!

  95. Damn this post is motivation. I’m 29 with a 516k net worth. Granted we have a few differences.. I have a wife, kid, didn’t focus until 2 years ago. However, that’s no excuse.. I should have focused a bit more to push for the higher net worth by 30. Hmm.. what was your net worth at 40 sam? Maybe I can catch you by then.

  96. By and large I agree with what you are saying. But Sam also patiently kept his lifestyle in check while he made big gains which is neither hard work nor plain luck.

    1. I’m going to write a follow up post on whether people find it easier to keep a lower key lifestyle when making a lot of money or an average amount of money. I’ll talk about temptation.

  97. I think it’s safe to we all grow up during our formative years in unique times and places.

    It’s apparent that you had the opportunity to work at GS as I did at MSFT. Of course, the latter did not bear such gracious financial fruit. And of course the butterfly effect of apt stock investments during the dot com bubble as well as IB’s annual bonuses that are several multiples of salary aren’t common events in most people’s careers.

    In tech, of course, the lotto effect takes hold as some eye pre-IPO companies. But I think it’s fair to observe that the vast majority of people need to take a different route to financial security and success.

    Because you had several unique circumstances that you maximized, it’s now possible to not invest aggressively, exiting investments when 10-12% gains are garnered.

    Whereas here and now, most people need advice on how to invest in a generalized way that will yield them superior returns with risk well contained that stands the test of time. That is not reliant on finding the next magic stock. Or a big bonus. And can weather through 30% peak to trough dives in the market.

    Otherwise this biography is a backward looking document that suggests hard work is uber important but also plain good luck, the latter of which is usually outside of one’s control

    1. Any thoughts during your career of joining a Google, Apple, eBay or other companies? Anybody smart enough to get a job at MSFT is able to get a job at such places no?

      I attribute a lion’s share of any financial success I’ve had to luck b/c I’m certainly not smart, and I have a work ethic that needs improvement.

      “One cannot downplay the importance of luck in building wealth. I have been fortunate to have two loving parents and a brain that works most of the time. If you’re born in America, please take full advantage of all your opportunities.”

      I’d love to hear your story and net worth progress. Thx

      1. A few months ago, I alluded to this when I commented on your post of finance strategies that can bound risk by investing across contrarian large, small, mid-cap asset classes that would yield double digit returns while also tranching 1-2 years worth of emergency funds in bonds, dividend funds, and liquid cash. This is premised on fact that all markets will eventually reflect the real macroeconomy, and all that matters when said and done is focusing on core macroeconomics than watching CNBC gossip.
        Interesting enough, a bunch of finance PhDs got bored with regressing financial datasets and decided to take a stab at macroeconomic finance. And here’s their conclusion, as reported recently by the Financial Times: “Investors can massively outperform big global stock market indices simply by analysing publicly available economic data, according to academics in the UK and US.

        A strategy based on going long on an index when macroeconomic conditions are improving and shorting the market when conditions are deteriorating would have delivered an average annual return of 14 per cent between 1997 and 2011, the academics claim. In contrast, a static position in the same indices would have delivered returns of essentially zero, assuming the same level of risk.”

        Anyway, to answer the question at hand.

        I alluded to this in my posts a few months back, but early on in life, my goal was to have 40 million by 40. I figured riding the dot-com wave would accelerate that feat. What happened instead is my dad and grandmother got stricken with heart disease and surgery around the same time. My grandmother did not survive a 2nd angioplasty. And my dad had an extended bout with heart surgery and heart disease. My god grandmother died too, and within two years my god grandfather died of stomach cancer, a 6 foot man once now down to the bone suffering and seeking to be with his loved one that he took for granted in life.

        Thus my priorities changed. I would give up all the money at my disposal if I could have saved them one or all.

        So rather than going to another tech co., I stayed at Microsoft and spent much of my 20s learning many life lessons that all people learn sooner or later in life, dealing with mortality, death, and suffering. I’m 38 now. It’s circumspect for me to observe that many of my childhood friends now are just beginning to grapple with such issues. I did do the dot-come thing before Microsoft, made it during the 2nd half of eToys for example, but frankly one realizes fate dictates what first things is first.

        Fortunately we live in the USA and not Uganda, and the choices afforded to us are truly bountiful, at least for those of us whose parents sacrificed providing us a leg up at least with educational opportunities so we had at our disposal choices, ideas, and critical thinking and decision-making that would serve us well throughout our lives.

        My wife and I now have a 2.5 year old who at 10 days old had heart surgery and thus developmentally delayed. Because of our station in life, which I sacrificed given my experience during my 20s to give our son the best care possible, he was flown down to Stanford to have the world’s best pediatric heart surgeon repair his congential heart defect. Because we had prolonged stress for 2 years, I also developed liver problems that led to a botched biopsy resulting in 6 pints blood internally bled out which I almost died. That was 7 mos. after my son’s surgery 2.5 years ago. And just a month ago, I had a bad case of sepsis where I almost died again arising from a bad liver and immune system that simply could not handle the boatload of gram positive bacteria that encultured over the summer infecting both my calves.

        Now my biography has a lot less smoother arc then yours. Shit happens in real people’s lives. While the 20s took a lot out of me, I also had a Chinese grandmother who married to a army general called the shots instilling in me values and mettle that has served me well. We are worth 1MM today, and frankly without the opportunity cost of life, I would no doubt have landed 10MM by now. But I would not change a thing, to be there for my loved ones at their last moments on earth, to let them know they are loved and cared for. I would never exchange that for magnetic blips in the cloud that supposedly designate my net worth.

        Thus I would differ my thesis asserting it is your life experiences and knowledge that afford you the most choices, of which money is but one leverage point. My knowledge garnered in my twenties allowed me to negotiate with the insurance company and wrangle the birth hospital to shape superior care for my baby son fighting private healthcare’s byzantine bureaucracies stacked up against the patient. There are so many more cases where all the money at my disposal didn’t matter. It’s how you critically think, decide, and leverage power that matters.

        So when I read blogs such as these, it has a sense of surreal half-truths, a life fortunately lived, but also disconnected from the rest of humanity, those who were apparently too dumb to figure out how easy savings and accumulating wealth is. But having lived on the both sides of the Rubicon, I can safely say that unless you can cite other much harder life choices and difficulties you had to contend with, it’s quite easy for old timers like me to dismiss perhaps unfairly financial advice that applies to those whose parents and lives were teed up for success, and with an rather unobstructed life mixed hard work and stamina afforded to the young, and so was indeed able to reach a wider degree of financial freedom than most.

        But then there is also love found and lost, children and families, to plain old shitty initial conditions that get in the way for mere mortals that did not live in such a rarefied environment where frugal stout parents provided for and duly instilled the ingredients and laid the groundwork for your station in life today.

        Consider this – The Long-Term Effects Of Poverty Linger Even After People Become Wealthy

        In large part that is why I don’t read this blog regularly. It is monotone and insults those who had a different sort of life than you, and does not account for the real world. It’s like a radio station that never evolved from the 90s set to heavy metal or gangster rap telling the world how ____ they are for not having the dope bling by now.

        What goes around comes around.

        A mortal life with truly humbled perspective, that is well lived and learned is far more important.

        1. Good perspective. Sorry you aren’t going to hit your 40 million by 40, but $1 million at 38 ain’t bad. You should feel proud, not bitter.

          Your type of response is what I was expecting when writing this type of post, which is why I don’t write these type of revelation posts much at all compared to other sites. It makes me sad that you are insulted by me just telling you my story. I don’t feel insulted by your story, so perhaps there is something deeper in your life you need to attend to?

          Your life is reality and my life is not real, to you at least. But I can assure you that my life is real to me. If my blog makes you sad, definitely don’t read it. Perhaps read other blogs that are full of suffering and sadness. Perhaps you’ll feel happier reading a story about someone who is your age with a negative net worth. The great thing about this country is freedom. Cherish it forever!

          1. I love how you deal with negativity haha

            some people in this world are complainers and blame their circumstances. Other people take action and grab life by the horns.

            I enjoyed the article very much I myself am recently 22 and work from 8 am to 10 pm every day operating my own online business.

            Some days are better then others and some days I get so frustrated I want to quit but I always remind my self of people such as your self and that anything is possible in life if you have the right mindset.

            im currently doing about 5k a week in sales with the aspiration to get it to 25.

            Loved the article hopefully I can hit a bit of luck/educated guessing in the stock market or investments and get a jump start like you (haha)!

            Anyways, thought I would send you a positive message to let you know you are sending a good message and it’s worth doing.

            1. Thanks Brandon for the message! Just gotta roll with the punches.

              I hear you on feeling the month to month movement in the revenue figures. Hopefully things will be up and to the right for you!

        2. mysticaltyger

          I think your diminishing of financialsamurai’s post and accomplishments sounds awfully snarky. There are lots of other people in the world who had the same or even better advantages than he who did not make use of them.

        3. If I’m snarky, it’s only because I find some of his posts equally annoying.

          Having overcome so much, I am quite a happy satisfied guy who now is enjoying life doing what he wants. But compared to real world life experiences, it’s apparent to me that this blog and its contents apply to a thin slice of people who lived in rarefied atmosphere making opportunistic plays that play out now maximizing for passive income and retirement.

          What snarked me was the disdain that it often shows for people not like him. How utterly incomprehensible that people even those who earn 45k a year can’t save to be millionaires. How Roth is an evil govt plan that should be avoided when it plainly defies finance basics – arithmetically and compoundingly so. With nary a counter response that, hey, you were lucky but most of life isn’t like you. That life doesn’t line up to spreadsheet columns and rows.

          In my case economically, through Fed and market’s thick and thin, our portfolio has yielded us 28%. I now have time to attend to a pretty important function of my family’s well-being, and with no regrets. That’s life for you. What I don’t have is an attendant disrespect for people less fortunate than me and in fact believe there are ways to save successfully despite poverty.

          So while FS does indeed treat his readers with respect and positive feedback focused on a segment that wants to “make it”, it is also quite evident he treats many others not like him, through the substance and content of his posts without much respect much less comprehension why they are not like him, and thus makes his advice limited to a slivered shrinking few who are not getting squeezed by globalization, shrinking wage raises, and able to a hold of paper profits without worry about life’s difficulties getting in the way.

          You’ve had good luck FS, and I don’t begrudge you for that. Call that karma. I do take issue to how you put down others as a means to deliver your message. You can do better in the future by simply recognizing your particular use case and the scenarios and variables involved sans value judgements and put downs on huge swaths of society you seem so disconnected from.

          Like I said, money is but a tool. Knowledge and wisdom are far more important. Snarky and snoody as that may sound.

          1. Just wanted to leave a note for FS. While I like the overall message, I too find the tone to be off-putting. While you acknowledge luck several times throughout, reading between the lines it’s hard to believe that you actually attribute that first windfall to luck. You lost me at “Was I lucky? Hell yes! But, I did my research and was I willing to put my balls on the line to try and make some money.”

            You’ve made some good choices, and I’m happy to see any message advocating saving over spending, but it just doesn’t connect with me.

        4. As an objective observer, it looks like jealousy has taken hold of you. Just have a read of your two comments. First you try to discredit someone’s else’s story, then you say how wonderful your life is and how great your portfolio performance. This is clearly a reflection of your unhappiness, since happy, content people don’t lash out the way you do. Until you can come to grips with your own issues, you will always consider yourself an underachieve and angry.

          I don’t see Sam trying to put anybody else down with this post. His posts are very insightful and make people think.

          Read this post. So relevant to the situation now:

        5. I’m confused, Awakeinwa. First, let me say that I’m sorry to hear about all of the death and health issues you experienced. You’ve been through a lot. And it’s amazing that you have persevered and saved any money at all. But I don’t see why you find Sam’s posts/story “insulting” because he writes about HIS experience and HIS perspective (not the rest of the world’s) and you feel that he didn’t face as much adversity as you (or the rest of the world)????

          He’s a writer. He’s SUPPOSED to write about his own experiences and his own perspectives. If not, he wouldn’t be unique, or truly engaging for that matter. If he didn’t, he would just be the 5:00 news.

          I can’t speak for everyone else, but the reason why I come here is because I find Sam’s posts inspiring and, sometimes, the kick in my arse that I NEED.

          Yes, he’s has some advantages that I didn’t have, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from him. He had great parents that instilled good values in him and he attributes a good chunk of his success to that. Did you have a parents who loved you and didn’t abuse or neglect you or teach you self-destructive things? Again, sorry to hear about the death’s in your family in your 20’s, no one would argue that that was tough. I hope you learned ways to cope and have moved past it. But I also hope you at least had a good childhood pre-20’s… because I didn’t. It’s not a competition about who had a harder life, but I can tell you that I had an abusive, crazy, drug addicted mother. Crazy literally, like…brain damaged. I don’t need to tell you how bad it was, but just imagine you and would probably be right. I was also in a lower-middle class household and they were hoarders! My father was a wonderful man but too passive and too in love with her to do something about her for his kids. He thought she was “sick” and needed our help. I was a child. I didn’t learn what other people learned from their parents. You know, like how to have healthy relationships, have a sense of humor, how to deal with emotions, how to react normally to situations, how to handle money, how to study, how to apply to college, or how to be… successful. I survived. I learned from friends. You know to this day, at damn near 30, I have a hard time understanding or sensing sarcasm? Or not dealing with all emotions with survivalist anger? Or to cry? I had to fight to learn how to be “normal” from other people, mostly in my teenage years, and how to be successful in adulthood by seeking mentors . Everyday I have to override what I learned in my critical years of 4-13 years old. I don’t find people who had advantages that I didn’t have, or people who couldn’t even imagine what I went through, insulting. I find them inspiring. I see them as mentors. I see their behaviors and thoughts as the good kind that can help me unlearn the bad ones and learn the ones that can help me lead a happy, healthy, successful life, for me and my family. I also love to come across people like that because I want my children to be that way too, never having to experience what I did, and to have the happy, healthy, strong, productive thoughts that would allow them to be successful in life as if that is always the way it should have been. Some people would call people who haven’t suffered “naive”, some people would call them lucky. Hey, whatever it is, that’s what I want for my kids. And when I meet people like that, like Sam for example, it reminds me that it’s possible, that there ARE people out there that didn’t suffer like I did, and I can help my kids be like them and have a life like that too, if I stick to being a good parent.

          And as I’ve said elsewhere (despite my hardships), I did go to some good colleges and I’m at pretty good income level at 28 (though could be better)!

          I don’t know Sam, I’m just some random commenter and casual reader, and just from the few minutes I spend on this every few days in the past few months, I’ve already changed my career trajectory (Sam, the promotion is finally coming!!!! My boss flew out the main office and it’s all he talked about out there and then there was this company-wide meeting conference in which all of my accomplishments/contributions were noted and now they are in talks about creating my position!).

          So Sam, please keep doing what you are doing. You’re obviously on the right path and your readers appreciate what you’ve been doing. I know I do.

        6. Your post reminds me that the human condition frequently makes us all mysteries to one another. I’ve never responded to anything on this site in the way that you have in your comments. I think the advice on FS is timeless and wise, no matter what life throws your way: be frugal and save, make wise choices, work hard, invest, take risks when you can, etc. I could go on and on. Some stuff here fits my circumstances better than other stuff, but it all is earnest and interesting.

          And I’ve had plenty of life experiences. None of us have a corner on wisdom and Sam is sharing plenty here on an ongoing basis.

        7. “Fortunately we live in the USA and not Uganda, and the choices afforded to us are truly bountiful, at least for those of us whose parents sacrificed providing us a leg up at least with educational opportunities so we had at our disposal choices, ideas, and critical thinking and decision-making that would serve us well throughout our lives.”

          As a Ugandan living in Uganda, I’m thinking…what now? Migrate to the states? Make the most of what I have? I have no clear answer. But one day, when I turn 40, I will have a story on how I made my first million (USD that is, I’ve made my first million shillings already and it’s nothing to write home about!)

  98. Buy & Hold Blog

    Really inspiring post Sam. I loved how you put your story out there. I agree totally on the work ethic part and building wealth in your 20’s. I did try as much as I could, but my first job out of college paid just bare minimum. I’m in my mid-30’s and I hope to hit that 1M mark by 40.

  99. Very interesting post Sam. I started my career out in banking as well. The most surprising thing about this post was that you were able to leave work around 6:30-7:00 at GS. I think they must have sweated us much longer! Certainly M&A was pretty grueling.

    We expect to cross the $1M mark in net worth next year. I’m expecting to keep chugging away till long after that, but its nice to have a little parked away. Not quite 30, but I’ll still take mid 30’s anyway :) I’m hoping the second $M can happen by the time I hit 40.

    My observations- Starting a career at GS , or any other place in IB definitely helps, thats a luxury that most don’t have. Its bloody hard work when you are in though. The big income helps trigger large savings, which if managed well can get you a good head start. I think you are right about real estate. I should have levered far more into property than I did. I went with stocks as my chosen pathway, but a property allocation would have been a better play. Some smaller cap dividend stocks have helped along the way, combined with solid double digit returns from some larger stocks. I’ll be looking to beef up property holdings pretty soon. We own a condo, but I’m underweight property relative to where I should be.

    Congrats on the progress. Sweat equity eventually pays.

    1. Thanks mate. Good thing I wasn’t in M&A/corporate finance, but Equities! Hence all the investment related posts on the site. I didn’t understand what the M&A folks did all day long but I did understand stocks given i started trading in college online.

      Equities is so much more fun, less hours, but you get in earlier eg 5:30am-6am at the time.

      $1 mil my 35 ain’t bad at all! Having the nut definitely gives you more confidence to pursue more things you really want to do. And of course once you gain a large enough passive cash flow stream,
      then it is total freedom. Good luck!

  100. Thanks for laying it out, Sam. I rode a dotcom up, and then all the way down. CMGi. A good lesson on taking profits.

    The first took me longer than I thought it should have. Early 40’s. I had my own small business that was modestly successful off and on. I was a fairly disciined saver/investor. The second took only about 4 years as the business started making money more consistently. The third took about 2.5 years as I bought distressed real estate 3-5 years ago.

    The first was the hardest, the second was much easier, and the third was easier/faster than I thought it could be.

    1. Nice work Jon! Do you think the 4th will be simply on autopilot ten as your business, RE and stocks hopefully inflate on their own now that you’ve got a large nut?

      Any plans on hanging up the boots if not yet already?

      1. It does appear that the trajectory will continue. The business is throwing off good cash flow with little of my attention because we are blessed with good managers. Rents keep increasing in my rentals, which are at 100% occupancy at the moment. I’ve just backed a guy in a little start up which is exceeding our expectations in the first month. I don’t want to presume on the future, but the next MM looks like it could be the fastest yet. Even if it doesn’t come at all, that’s OK.

        My current decision is where to spend my time since I have more options than ever before. I don’t want to retire, but I am trying to cut back on hours. The start up added a bunch of time, but that’s already requiring less. I manage my own rentals which isn’t a joy, but I do it pretty well.

  101. Excellent post, one of your best to date in my opinion. Good stuff for everyone, but in particular for people recently out of college – they should read this post and bookmark it.

    1. Thanks Ray. Figure I’d put it out there once and for all as reference for those who keep inquiring. My memory is slowly fading as well so it’s good to have to revisit when really old.

      Hope all is well!

    1. Very interesting study, and by UC Berkeley no less, so it must be true :)

      At the end of the day, it’s about taking risks… and hopefully calculated risks. You just need one of many to pay off often times before you start the rocket ride journey.

      If you are timid, don’t feel like you deserve, then you will not get what you could. Dare to dream.

  102. It does take time. What I find is going to help me in my situation is to continue to work on the things that are producing income and then work on trying to expand those incomes into P2P lending, stocks, rental properties and other investments so that I can continue to have decent incomes even if a few income streams fall off the face of the earth over the next few years. I think that is the best insurance that one can take for themselves in this economy.

  103. So would you not recommend P2P at this point? Do you use any automated tools? I’m open for suggestions re alternatives to P2P; I definitely want alternatives to market investments for some variety. I hate watching my entire portfolio go down on days like today….

    1. I would actually because returns should be going up with higher rates. My expertise has been in picking stocks, so that is what I’ve continued to do although setting up an auto debit and investment schedule with prosper is easy and a good idea.

  104. I have an aggressive goal for myself. I am trying to have a million in bank accounts by 40. I’m not talking net worth; Im talking accounts valued at $1M. Im 35 now and close to the 500k mark. I have equity in my house (~300k) and my wife has savings too, but I don’t consider our combined assets in the calculation.

    I am going to need a bit of help (i.e. I’m not sure I can make it purely on my salary without stock market help) , but I figure its better to set an aggressive goal and miss than to not set an aggressive goal and not try.

    I wish I had been serious about saving, and had the income I do, in my 20s; I wonder what the extra decade of growth would have done for me.

      1. I have financial advisors who manage most of it, so most of it is in the market. I have about 6k in P2P, which I can increase. I’m thinking of moving some IRAs over to P2P so they can grow tax free, but I’m concerned that institutional and automated systems are snapping up all the good loans, making this a less attractive option.

        1. Good stuff. I’m having a problem with shifting a decent amount of assets into P2P as well for similar reasons and because I see opportunity in the liquid stock market,

  105. Hey, thanks for sharing, especially the details of your efforts. I learn a lot from you. I hope you continue to have good luck and that you enjoy your well-earned break.

  106. Levi Blackman

    Great insight in the process of building a nest egg. I got started late in the game but stories like this really motive me to keep on working the plan. I’m 28 and have negative net worth due to student loans (like so many these days) and I am almost through with school. Living the bare minimum lifestyle is something I am very used to so hopefully I can just keep it up once I finish school and land a job.

    1. Levi, congrats on being almost through school. It’s easy to continue to live like a college student once work starts for a couple years. But it’s also easy to just blow your money on a lot of stuff and going out once you first get those first paychecks. Pretend you’re getting a PhD while working!

  107. Sounds good Jeremy. Way to go raising that savings rate. That is a fundamental key. And Utah is much cheaper than CA SF, so all is good. Just gotta keep compounding and investing those savings.

  108. Do you get much traffic on your site? I would be surprised if you did considering the content is only relevant to 10% of the population.

    1. My site is small peanuts mate. But the one thing you might want to consider is that there are lots of different types of real people out there. If you have a site, id love to read it. Congrats on your nice credit score.

    2. For those in the top 10%, this site in invaluable. There’s plenty of other sites out there covering the other 90% of the population.

  109. Real Person

    I’m 36 and my net worth is negative $9,976. On the bright side my credit score is a 792.

    1. Something I’ve learned is that having a high credit score should only be used to buy assets (i.e. real estate), as opposed to buying items and just putting them on credit to build the credit up.

      Good luck in getting your networth over the $0 hump, that’s often difficult but every step in the right direction will make you feel better.

      People like Sam, JT, JayCeezy, KrantCents, and a host of others that you’ll see listed on this site have tons of information to help you in your journey.

  110. My husband and I are just over $1M at 38/39. We sort of shrugged our shoulders when we found out — we don’t feel like we’re financially free at all! When we got married 5 years ago, my net worth was around $280K and his was -$90K (mostly medical school debt). From the time we got married till now, it was a combination of making good salaries, living modestly, and saving aggressively that got us here.

    I think that working hard will get you to a certain point, but working smart is the path to financial freedom. I worked my tail off in the first 4 years of my career (65-85 hour weeks), but that was the modus operandi for everyone in my engineering group so I certainly didn’t stick out from the crowd. This is where I goofed up because I was too risk-averse and didn’t have enough self-confidence to really challenge myself to explore outside my comfort zone. My husband messed up too because he should’ve been saving in a 401K when he started residency but chose to buy a brand new car instead which tied up all his excess cash (not much after living expenses) in car payments for 5 years.

    We currently do not have investments beyond our retirement accounts and home, but are planning to dive into that now that we’re in a good place financially. The question is what sort of after-tax investments should we look into? Real estate is number one in our minds but we’d rather do commercial than residential. We’d love to get into private equity but don’t think we have enough capital yet.

    1. Sounds like you two are really kicking butt! My advice on investments is first pay off every last piece of debt, cars, student loans, mortgage, etc…once you have zero debt, then invest in things that you very clearly understand and are able explain the investment to an 8th grader. Keeping it simple may not be “sexy” but it works! Don’t get worked up trying to chase percentage points on investment income, it won’t impact your lifestyle like knowing you don’t owe a anybody anything will.

    2. I think it’s great u guys went from $250k to $1 mil in 5 years.

      I hear you on not feeling wealthy. It all depends on where you live.

      Private equity doesn’t need much. $10,000 here and there is fine too. Just need to be an accredited investor.

      Do you own your own home?

      1. Yes we own our home.

        I thought to be an accredited investor your net worth had to be at least $1mil not including your primary home, among other things. In that case we wouldn’t qualify since about 25% of our net worth is in home equity.

  111. Financial Independence

    Congratulations, it’s quite an achievement to go from $0 net worth to over $1m in 7 years – your story shows that with commitment and consistence we can make major progress in our situations in quite a short timeframe.

    The only thing I wouldn’t agree with is the title – surely the second million will be much easier given that you already have significant investment income coming through the door and a much larger salary than when you started. I look forward to your update on the next million!

    1. Thanks. Maybe. I’ll have to think about the journey from $1 to $2. From $0 to $1 was easy in my mind because I wasn’t focused on it. It just happened one day two years before I realized it because I was too busy working.

      Going to $2 mil is hard bc you don’t want to lose the $1 mil due to risk.

      How’s your NW progress going?

      1. Financial Independence

        My net worth at the moment

        I purchased a house is August 2012 and took on a total debt of $385,000 ($360k from the bank and $15k loan from parents) to do so. Unfortunately real estate here is quite expensive. Of that $385k I’m now down to $340k after one year and my house price has gone up so technically my net worth sits around 90k at age 25.

        I say technically, because really I don’t think my net worth should include the home I live in – I can’t exactly sell this property without a) incurring large (20k) selling costs and b) either renting or buying a new home. While it contributes towards my financial independence, it’s not an investment asset as opposed to holding something such as an index fund (which I can’t live in!)

        Goal is to be debt free in 5 1/2 years so there is lots of hard work ahead before I can start investing and truly growing my net worth.

        1. FI, congrats on your home purchase. pmfji, but I wanted to make the case for including your primary residence in your NW calc. The reasons you listed for not including it can be flipped; first of all, the imputed rent you would be paying (instead of a mortgage) has a real value. In addition, your mortgage interest expense and property tax both have a dollar-for-dollar value in reducing your taxable income. A tertiary benefit is that inflation won’t impact your mortgage payment (and you will be paying in cheaper dollars in out-years), while inflation will benefit the nominal value of your home.

          One thing I do for that calculation is to take the conservative sales value of the home, multiply by .9, and then subtract the outstanding mortgage value owed. This gives you something closer to what you would truly walk away with if you sold the property (the 10% includes the 5% sales commission, 2% processing, repairs and improvements requested by the sellers, etc.). Another way to do it, is to calculate the nut needed to throw off a conservative equivalent rent (i.e. $2,000/month would need about $400,000) and subtract what you would pay to eliminate the mortgage and sell the home. Don’t sell yourself short, man, you are a homeowner and rocking that payoff schedule! Continued success to you.

        2. Financial Independence

          I agree with you JayCeezy that the the decision to purchase a home does definitely add economic value in the form of saved rent. I’m not a big fan of ‘walk away’ value, however I have actually considered your second option previously – good to see that someone else had the same train of thought. How much would I need to conservatively invest to return the same costs as I save by owing my home?

          A 10 year term deposit here in Australia returns 4.3%, or 2.66% after factoring in the tax which would be payable. My home used to rent for $350/w before I moved in, which would mean an equivalent secure long term investment would be worth a whopping $684,000! If I was to have invested instead of purchasing I wouldn’t be 100% in term deposits, but this provides the closest comparison of ‘(virtually) zero risk’ return.

          When you consider it that way, my effective net worth would be over $344k. This probably highlights one of the problems with NPV – it can be calculated in different ways to give vastly different results!

  112. 30 has come and gone (well only by 18 months or so) and I haven’t that 7 figure mark yet. Like you, I believe it is inevitable with hard work and determination. Love the timeline!

    1. So long as the direction is correct, sooner or later we’ll get there no doubt. Any thoughts on updating your net worth series with real numbers and not just percentages now?

  113. Awesome post Sam! :-)

    I just sent a text to my nephew so that he’ll understand the reasons WHY he should save as much as he can while living at home until he gets a place of his own in 5+ years hopefully.

    Curious why you chose the Excel spreadsheet to track net worth over something like Quicken (or other products now) that can download all that information to put it in a single place for you?

  114. The mass media and the government are powerful. It’s all about pitting Wall St. against Main St. Like anything, it’s important to differentiate between individual people and corporations.

  115. Hi JT, when I first started funding the 401(k) I had a more conventional notion of retiring at 59.5. However, after my first stub bonus for half the year and seeing how much was taken in taxes (NYC City, STate, Federal) and the amount of work required, I knew I couldn’t last for 47.5 years. I thought if I could last 5 years I’d be lucky.

    I didn’t care about not being able to touch my 401(k) until 59.5 b/c it made me feel good not to pay taxes on my contribution amount. I used my 401(k) as the ultimate tax shelter based on my income at the time and BONUS money if I got to live until 60. Besides, thank goodness for RULE 72t which allows for early withdrawal!

    I wish I bought the 2/2 condo I was eyeing in NYC in 2000 on 22nd between Park and Madison for $700,000. It would be worth $1.5 mil + now. I also wish I kept fortune hunting in the stock market.


    This is the post that needed to be written so that your readers can benchmark themselves. I was lucky with a few investments prior to the 2008 crash despite not fully committing to investing and growing my wealth. The most lucrative investments I made lost money early, especially in 2008-2010. The market crash has helped me make up tremendous ground to the point where financial independence is less than 10 years away, maybe even 5 if my investments pay off. Is your third property the house in Kaimuki? Is it vacant or rented out?

    My wife and I are ahead of your above average new worth calendar with decent incomes, we’ve been very lucky Hawaii like SF didn’t suffer in the real estate downturn. My problem now is most of my wealth is tied up in real estate and retirement accounts, not very liquid. I don’t plan to liquidate any real estate holdings as I plan to leave them to my children when I have some. Now we are focusing on building up our taxable accounts while still maximizing all retirement accounts.

    Sam you definitely should have more posts like this, especially for naysayers. I can only handle so many blogs that write about the chocolate bar they bought which caused them to go over budget.

    1. Charles, My third prop is in California. I don’t count Kaimuki b/c I did nothing to deserve it and it’s not solely in my name either.

      For liquidity, I’d work on your X Factor b/c as you know, cash flow is king.

      It’s interesting, but the only naysayers I’ve had recently are the religious dividend investors who swear by dividend investing for early retirement and are against growth stocks and everything else. It’s weird how unflexible their thinking is, even after highlighting the Chinese Internet Stocks example in May and them playing out by 50%+ three months later. They want to retire early in 10 years with their $100,000 dividend portfolio that they think will grow 10X in 10 years. It’s interesting!

      1. Sam, you know as well as a lot of other folks that being too heavy in any given thing is probably not a good thing. That goes for Dividend/Growth/RE investing. :-P

  117. Hi Sam,

    Great post. You have an impressive track record, that’s for sure!

    I hit $1M at age 34, the year I got married to my wife and 1 year after moving overseas…

    It could have been sooner if I took money off the table with the company options and share purchase plan in 2000 but instead I ended up riding it down and changed jobs to a start up that crashed and burned 10 months later in early 2002. Then I spent a year trying to get into a new job and started over again- so it was worth all the lessons learned in hindsight, plus I have to say that my life was all the richer for it.


    1. Hey Mike, nothing like the 2000 dotcom roller coaster to keep things real!

      How do you plan to spend your millions in Thailand? Because that’s like tens of millions there!

      1. Hey Sam,

        I’m not sure if I’d agree with that statement. Thailand is the 2nd largest market for luxury German cars, a lot of people are making some serious coin out here and they are locals.

        Foreigners can’t own land, only via condominiums and the land prices in downtown Bangkok are truly mind boggling. Example: a detached house on a 1/3 – 1/2 of an acre in downtown Bangkok is about $20 – 30M USD- and is very rarely on the market as it is usually snatched up by a developer who then aggregates the land with another plot and builds a condo there and makes a tidy profit.

        However we have a baby so need more space- the 2 BR / 2BA condo that we’ve lived in the past 7 years is just getting too small… so I went out and purchased a nice second hand condo- it’s a duplex penthouse on the 29th and 30th floor of a condo with very nice views of the city, and a small view of one bend in the river- it has been wonderfully decorated and I bought it fully furnished and decorated for $600K USD- and this is for a 2500 square foot place (4 bedrooms / 4 Bathrooms)- it feels like a house because it’s on two levels and the location is great. It was a good cash outlay but one that I think is worth the money.

        That’s how I’m spending my money – that and baby related stuff!


  118. Hey Sam,

    Just curious but what was your net worth outside of real estate when you “retired”?


      1. Sam,

        My NW is entirely tied up in stocks. I believe I’m a year younger than you. I’m trying to determine what amount I should draw the line at where I could potentially no longer work and generate passive / business income.

  119. I love how on one hand you were willing to put just about every dime you had into a risky investment, but on the other you are a millionaire driving a 13 year old car. It is a rare combination of being frugal but willing to take risks. It clearly worked out well.

    1. I love cars, but I love Moose more. The more we go on roadtrips, the more I can’t sell him despite all his issues. It really is all about spending money on experiences.

    2. Have you ever read the book from Thomas Stanley called “The Millionaire Next Door” or “The Millionaire Mind”?
      The funny thing is that even the Decamillionaires won’t spend more than $30k on a car, until they’ve achieved multi-millions in assets.

  120. Excellent post! I know you’re really putting yourself out there, but showing all the juicy details is the best example you can give and very helpful for those trying to follow the path. Plus, I’m sure you will see a nice uptick in traffic.

    I’m on my way to $1M and should cross the line in a few years at about age 30. Similar to you, this is from a combination of hard work, a good degree, a lucrative engineering job, and working hard on weekends and when the workday is over! Now that my family is growing and consuming more of my time, I can look back and appreciate the hard work setting up multiple income streams when I was younger.

    Thanks again for sharing and educating!

    1. You’re going to love all the fruits of all your hard work once you hit 30. The best thing about hard work is that it is OVER, and yet it keeps on giving often times.


  121. Great advice! My journey was different, but similar in some respects. Taking risks is key to success. Investing in income property is very rewarding and taxed at capital gains rates. I love the idea of my tenants paying for my mortgage and costs of ownership! I reached the magic number in my early thirties, but i included my personal residence in those days. I no longer do that for conservative reasons since you have to live somewhere and it skews your net worth.

    The theme of your advice is to do well in your career and invest wisely. The road to wealth has a lot of paths, but your advice works no matter what path you take.

    1. Taking calculated risk really is so important. For those who want to achieve FI early, but are unwilling to take more risk than CDs or dividend stocks, it’s going to be tough b/c often times saving a lot to live like a pauper isn’t enough.

  122. Love this article. It’s incredibly inspirational and at the same time makes me feel poor in comparison. Had this blog started in 2004 (when I graduated and got my 1st real salary job) and that I had known about it, I could be at least one-half millionaire by now. I don’t make as much money as you did, but I also live in a low cost area so having $500K after 9 years of work would still be pretty fantastic.

    Keep up the great blog. I love shopping and your articles help me liking it less.

    1. Sorry for making you feel poor in comparison. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t like to publish these articles b/c I have so many readers from all sorts of backgrounds. It’s why I constantly emphasize the high cost of living in SF, Manhattan, etc and how everybody’s financial requirements are different.

      $500K after 9 years of work is very fantastic, especially if you are living in a low cost area.

      I LOVE window shopping. It keeps me satisfaction when I walk away from the car dealer with money intact!

  123. Great post. Just remember that $17.5k is NOT maxing out your 401k. That is the max employee contribution. Your employer can contribute another $33.5k for a total of $51k/year in 2013. If you are below that, well… find a way to become the employer if you can. I’m not saying everyone can do it, but anyone can do it.

    1. Great point Jamin. Thanks for sharing. $51K a year is such a powerful total contribution that will certainly create millionaires over time if people can afford to figure out a way to contribute that much!

  124. FS, am loving the licentiously expressive idiomatic discourse! Especially appreciate “(t)here is no right or wrong way to rub the furry koala.” If rubbing the furry koala is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!:-)

    Seriously, your story and achievements are always compelling, and your parents can take great pride in your accomplishment, too. Thanks for sharing this part of your story.

  125. Great post Sam. Can you write detailed posts about your experiences wrt buying the rental and also the house in SF. As you know market is crazy in SF so any insight you share would be helpful

  126. I don’t even know what to say…seriously amazing. Inspiring. A million in 6 years, in your 20’s!!!! Most 22-28 year olds are partying and rounding the corner towards their first BK.

    By comparison I’m just getting STARTED at age 28. Thank you so very much for sharing your story and I hope that you share more.

    It’s also so very nice to hear how much you thank your parents and your upbringing for your core value system. I am sure your parents are beyond proud of you!

    1. Are most 22-28 year olds rounding the corner towards their first BK? Things cant’ be that bad, we got Bernanke and Obama! :) I think most of my classmates at GS have gone on to do pretty well in different capacities.

      I’m really so grateful for my parents and the experiences and teachings they gave me. I was a naughty kid growing up through high school and had to be set straight. Best of luck to you!

      1. Most 22-28 year olds, most of which did not go to GS, or college at all for that matter. Yes, most twenty somethings are THAT irresponsible with money. If they can even get their credit to BE good enough to get that far in to debt in the first place. Most twenty somethings are just broke and spend whatever money or credit they have on “living in the moment”. Amazing that you had the self control and foresight to not. No need to be modest here, I mean really, you were just so far ahead of the pack. It’s truly inspiring.

        You were naughty but still got good grades! I sort of have to admit I was the same way in the first half of high school.

        1. Gotcha. Well, I really messed up when I was younger, so I felt I HAD to do really well in college to make up for all my deficiencies.

          And b/c I was pounded to a pulp my first 1-2 years in NYC, I knew I should save as much as possible since I knew I couldn’t last. Moving to San francisco saved me. It bought me 11 more years since life out here is more balanced. I lost all the weight I had gained while in NYC and saw daylight again.

          But yeah, I hear you on “living in the moment,” running up credit card debt, living the fabulous lifestyle young and so forth b/c I just met someone who is 26-27 going through that now. Delaying gratification is hard when you have rich friends living it up who don’t have to do anything. I might have to write a post about this. It jolts me to experience a friend go through this.

        2. Omg I can only IMAGINE how NY gave you thick skin, Goldman at that time too, sheesh wow!!! Glad SF saved you, what a breath of fresh air it must have been. And then you were at a company where you talents were really able to shine.

          Please do write about it! Hopefully more twenty somethings will stumble upon your blog and be inspired by the article and change their ways earlier.

          I didn’t go into debt or live a fab lifestyle during said time period, I had kids and got married early–I guess I can say that sort of saved me. But 20-23 were some crazy times and I did see a lot of “living in the moment” in the LA/OC socialite scene. I wanted to do get it all out of my system early and not have a mid life crisis and become some crazy coug at 40 because I “never got to experience it when I was young” kind of thing LOL. It is nice knowing and not wondering that being a model partying with celebs and financiers it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Very relaxing living an inconspicuous, anonymous life now, focused on family, saving, and investing. No one would EVER guess that I was who I used to be. I am sure no one would ever guess at your naughty past now as well =)

          1. Ahhh, the “model partying w/ celebs and financiers” life. Love it and loved it! Bottle service, car service to Atlantic City, last minute trips to Vegas…… it would be a fun, fun book to write. I’d much rather now be seen as a boring old fart now though. More fun to surprise on the upside.

            Yes, I do think it’s great you got it out of your system. And to be able to find someone, have a family, and make $250K by 30 is an enormous accomplishment. Think about how life would be if you never found someone? That happens A LOT in the competitive world of finance b/c we’re so busy working on our careers.

      2. Shaun Roberts

        Just looking at your overpaid GS buddies is absurd. Most people don’t work at GS or another brokerage house. My dad was a partner at Goldman Sachs who made more money than you ever will in your whole life. But, his life is not representative of the average person’s.

        1. Congrats for growing up rich! Could you share what it was like and whether he was happy?

          I decided to leave finance at 34 because I no longer enjoyed it.

          Did your father support you a lot as an adult eg buy you a house etc?


          My other question is how you feel about your career and own wealth since your dad was so successful? Does his success out extra pressure on you?


  127. This is my favorite post so far. Thank you for sharing your journey – it is really cool to see the progression.

    What was your networth when you left your last employer? Do you have any regrets – like, do you wish you had stuck it out for another 5 years and compounded your networth more aggressively, or are you confident you exited at the right time?

    Regarding 401ks, the numbers you’ve previously posted are painful to read for young professionals since we lose so much investing time in our 20s in school. On top of that, my employer “lured” me in with the highest salary offer at a time when I wasn’t financially literate enough to consider the entire package, including benefits. My employer has never contributed to my 401k through a match or a profit share. All things considered, I would have been financially better off going for lower salary/better benefits. Not a big deal, but it still hurts a little.

    I got to my first million at 30 through real estate – more specifically, buying dirt cheap single family homes in Arizona throughout the recession.

      1. I read that post – I have in my mind that it will take $5m in non-personal residence networth to feel safe enough to break free from the golden handcuffs. There has to be some kind of psychological study about what keeps people going back to the same job everyday rather than taking a risk like you did (which, based on reading your blog, seems to have paid off ten-fold in terms of quality of life).

        1. I think $5 million is an excellent figure to shoot for. That would provide guaranteed $140,000 a year in passive income if you dumped it all in 10-year treasuries.

          The psychological shift is the realization that life is short, your friends and people you know start getting sick and dying, and a deep introspection about how much money you need to be happy.

          We writers are constantly delving into issues b/c we need to figure out how to convey our thoughts properly. I think if more people sat down to meditate, write, review, and look within, it’ll easier to find individual answers.

  128. Kristin Wong

    Sam, this list/timeline is amazing. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sending this to my bro, who should be graduating from college soon.

  129. The First Million is the Hardest

    Nice post, Sam. I always like hearing about how people got to the point they’re at today.

    I wish I knew how important office politics was at the start of my career. Having connections and people in a position of power that will vouch for you goes further for your career advancement than just about anything else. Recently I’ve been going through a series of interviews for a job that I probably wouldn’t have gotten looked at twice for if it wasn’t for some of the connections I made that stepped up to the plate for me.

    1. Selling yourself internally really is important. The star only shines so bright until you run out of energy, performance, or colleagues who move on.

      Good luck with the interviews!

  130. “If the feedback is good, perhaps I’ll share more details in the future.”

    I encourage you to do so – I thoroughly appreciated this post. Getting insight from someone who has actually achieved such accomplishments is much more valuable than reading it from someone who is just theorizing. In any case, I think your story very much proves the notion that if you work smart and hard, then you create your own good luck.

    1. Ahhh, the act of pontificating what we don’t really understand is a right of passage in the content/media world! :)

      Will try my best. It is fun to theorize though. Some get very wealthy theorizing, like teaching someone how to get a job even though they’ve never had a job!

  131. Wow thanks for all the insights and advice! That’s pretty crazy you didn’t eveb realize you hit 1 million until afteer the fact. I guess it’s fairly easy to do that when you’re hustling every day. I think there are tools nowadays that help make it easier but the momentum, drive, discipline, and energy it takes are still just as hard. Nothing comes easy and I think a lot of younger Millenials have a hard time with that. I’m on a tight budget for the next few months since I splurged on scuba diving school. But saving is fun for me because it makes the occassional treats that much more special and rewarding. I’m not at a million yet but one day I think I’ll get there.

  132. This is an awesome insight Sam, thanks for sharing. I think I need to learn a few lessons from you about internal politics. I need to better position myself for the next promotion. That’s the easiest way to increase your income!

    1. I would reallly like to second this request. That you became a VP so young means you really did something special there and I need to take notes. Detailed notes.

      The advice you have been giving me in these comments sections has really been helping. I don’t know if I’m getting closer to a promotion or need one at this point until the pay is right like you said, but I did give myself and attitude adjustment and have been making an effort to make more personal connections and internal supporters. I’ve already noticed a big difference. Big. Like, I’m amazed.

        1. Omg, right!!!! I actually emailed upper management the equivalent of that statement two weeks ago. Long story short I got an email lashing me because my numbers were down in one area. The old me would have defended myself by pointing out the fact that in the same time period I broke several company records overall. I wanted to say that. But instead I thought of you, and I THANKED them for only expecting excellence of me (knowing that the email would be forwarded to their bosses as well since I knew they were the real ones asking). I actually swallowed my pride and thanked him for the lashing!!! and then I started staying even later to improve my numbers in that area every day since. And because I had been staying later, I was available for a call that a few days ago that lasted to 8:30 PM EST (I come in at 5 AM PST) from the President on deal that honestly probably wouldn’t have gone through if we didn’t have that phone call and I didn’t get his support. Funny enough that call wasn’t totally about that deal, we were like, chatting. Remember that company outing my boss got mad at me for not being at? He brought that up…he really did want to meet me…etc. And in the AM the deal was approved. Domino effect from that one day when I decided to say “thank you” for the lashing, lash me again instead of getting scrappy. I’m truly amazed. But I still want your article on office politics!!! I know this is just scratching the surface.

  133. Epic post, Sam. I really appreciate the This Is Your Life perspective from the Samurai.

    I can relate to your GS Lotto Ticket as I think I hit the Big Four Lotto Ticket around the same time.

    But I didn’t pull in the cash you did, that’s for sure.

    No million for me yet, but dammit man, where’s your Roth IRA? I kid, I kid…

    1. No problem mate. The Big Four Lotto Ticket is sweet. I got rejected from them left and right in college because I didn’t know a thing about accounting.

      Enjoy your ROTH! Ha!

  134. I can’t pinpoint the day I actually became a millionaire, but I do remember the day my liquid assets ebbed over $1M at 32, it was a pretty proud moment (one that took years for me to tell even my parents)…I could not agree more with Sam that you have to work your ass off and take chances swinging for the fences when you are young with nothing to lose. Insourcelife mentioned in his post that a large portion of Sam’s worth came from certain bubbles or unique events…I’d argue that there are those opportunities in every type of economy and in any industry you can think of. I’ve built my wealth in Automotive during the darkest days of the industry by working harder than everybody else, coming up with a better mouse-trap, being humble, and remembering how critical customer service is. Yep, I saved and reinvested about 70% of my income as well along the way. You have to trust in yourself, I can still hear the disappointment in my parents voices when I told them I was going to leave a cushy 6 figure job with a big company at 27…the risk was unimaginable to them & for the first few years I “feared” they were correct because it was hard as hell, I was too stubborn to fail and they are now extremely proud when they see what was created with hard work and ingenuity. Honestly though, if I had 2 kids and a wife to feed like I thought I would have in my late 20’s , I might not have made the same decision…funny how life works out sometimes.

    1. Great point on taking advantage during the darkest times. Heaven knows the auto industry went through a ringer. I’d love to read your story in more detail through a guest post one day.

      I’m always intrigued by folks who leave 6-figure jobs at a young age to go out on their own. I didn’t have the guts until 34.

      1. I’d be happy to share my journey one of these days…it seems like there are a lot of ways to get to Financial Independence, but the one common theme 99% of the time is a lot of hard work, delayed gratification, and taking a risk or two.

        1. Well, that and another drain is children upon one’s ability to build such a networth.

          Kudos to you for making the choices you did to get to where you are today!

  135. Insourcelife

    Good post and I generally agree with your suggestions. However, a large portion of the skyrocketing net worth in your 20s was due to real estate and the dotcom stock. Both might be tough to replicate going forward. The idea behind it – taking risk when you are young – is solid of course, but luck/bubbles/timing all played a huge role and it’s not something that can be copied. Saving and investing is still a foolproof plan to get to that 1 million net worth, but it might not happen before you hit 30.

    1. Indeed. I was lucky, especially making real estate and stock investments during two major crashes.

      Sooner or later someone will get to their milestone if they stay the course.

      Look at turmoil as opportunity.

  136. Many young millionaires face problems of keeping up with the tempo and speed, but it seems to me that you have laid a very strong foundation, so wishing you good luck building on it!

  137. We should hit the 1Mill point about the time I retire from the military (5.5 yrs at age 42). Stories like this make me wonder where I would be now if I had gotten serious about saving early in my twenties. Interesting article Sam, thanks for exposing yourself in your financial underwear! I’m sure your number is a few notches higher by now.

    I’m curious, did self doubt ever become a major player in your saving years? Also, where does it end Sam? Is there a ceiling to your goal of growing your wealth?

    Thanks, Chris

    1. Good stuff Chris! $1 million by 42 working in the military is awesome. I’d love to read a more in-depth post of how you got there too. The pension is going to be sweet and allow you do do whatever else you want.

      I had lots of doubt in 2001 after the dotcom bubble and two years in NYC b/c the economy was so bad. Luckily I was able to secure a position at another firm before my 2 year analyst program was done.

      I don’t think personal finance ever ends. It just evolves to what you think is the ideal balance. I don’t have as much interest in making money anymore. If I did, I would have kept working!

      1. I believe, especially early on in a career, that the ability to job hop to go after opportunities is a serious asset and can allow huge increases in income levels. Post college the region of the country I was in was depressed and jobs of any kind were scarce, I only got ahead by moving out of state, and out of the region in general. Many of my classmates didn’t fare as well by insisting on staying local.

    2. Chris, good for you. I am 43 yrs old and an Air Force officer myself. Our net was $1.5m as of last November–discluding our primary residence and cars (which we own, too). Everything the financial samurai said is so true. I especially liked his comments/reflections about our own lifespan limitations and how we can excel with boundless energy in our 20s and 30s but our bodies do slow down after that. Over a million in net in the military is very do-able, you just cant go out and buy a $50,000 corvette as an E4 like I see happen across all branches and bases. How did we get to over a million? Stocks (and taking profits when they happen!), rental real estate (we have 5 rentals), max 401k’s with employer match (my wife), peer to peer lending, municipal bonds, and for goodness sakes, contribute at least half of all raises and bonuses to your own retirement. We like to use the phrase “bring your own raise” meaning create a monthly raise by investing in dividend stocks that pay reliable, steady dividends every month. Every time I put $1000 into an investment vehicle at 5% yield, I know it will give me a $4.16 raise per month. I have repeated that formula 100’s of times over, probably 1000’s. When I leave the military in 23 months, we will have enough passive income to not have to ever go to work again. Good luck!

  138. Great post and thanks for taking the time to outline your own path.

    I have a few counterpoints:

    1. Yes, return on rent itself is technically zero, unless you can sub rent or something, but if you’re moving and have to rent for a job, then renting suddenly has a part in your income, generating a return.

    2. Being 20-30 is arguably the greatest time to be alive. I agree from a financial point of view, it doesn’t make sense to splurge on things when the money could be working for you instead. However, it doesn’t make sense to live life in this age group and not have some luxuries since you are going to enjoy them more now than when you hit 40 and 50. It’s about balance.

    3. Working more and harder doesn’t always equate to higher pay. Being smarter and doing things more efficiently have more of a bearing to advancing one’s paycheck in my opinion. Just an opinion though.

    1. The $78,000 G500 was my splurge at 25. Had fun for a year, and came to my senses thanks to it not fitting in my condo.

      Everybody is welcome to go nuts in their 20s. Just be cognizant it might be at the expense of more work or a smaller nest egg later on.

    2. I have met many people who work hard and have never gotten “rich”.

      However I have never met anyone I would consider rich or successful who didn’t work hard.

  139. The College Investor

    Great post! It’s very important to start young if we really want to hit our first million before or during our 30s.

    1. It’s really the only way Robert. But on the flip side, if we don’t start the savings, investing, and risk taking process young, all those things we do end up spending money on should bring us some joy and good memories. Just have to work longer.

      The great unknown will be when we die. Hence, getting our financials in order sooner is a good hedge against an early demise!

      1. Thank you so much.After reading your post,to be honest, I was shocked by how amazing you are. And I am a freshman, I do think I learn a lot from your post. I think my life will change because of you.

        1. I too am a freshman. I have a desire to do well in life. The rest of my family is very well off, and so I have a lot of additional pressure to do well in life. Although, despite carrying this weight on my shoulders I am going to work my ass off in life and put my heart and sole in my future. After reading this article, I can say that I have adopted an increasingly progressive mentality. Good luck to all.

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