From Welfare to Well-Off: My Journey To Financial Independence

The journey to financial independence - From Welfare to Well-Off

The following is a guest post by Dominic. He shares his story about escaping the life of trouble and poverty towards one day reaching financial independence. He shares his journey from welfare to well-off. Reading different perspectives is what makes the Financial Samurai community so awesome. – Sam

They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. You know when the second best time is? TODAY!

As you are about to discover, it doesn’t matter where you start in life, what matters is how you play the hand you were dealt. You can stand around and complain how the world is unfair, and yes it is very unfair…get over it. Complaining and dwelling on your dire circumstances will do nothing to improve your life, so don’t waste your time. The thing to remember is that successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.

We live in unprecedented times with more opportunity than any other time in history. You just have to decide if you are willing to put in the work to achieve your vision of success.

You could say I am one of those rags to riches stories in the making. I entered this world like most, in a hospital room naked and screaming. However, I entered the world with absolutely no advantage. Some might say I was dealt a crap hand. I grew up in a low income area, where my family and most other families were on welfare or some kind of government support. Growing up I slept on the hard-floor of my grandmother’s 2-bedroom apartment with my 3 brothers, while my grandmother and mom shared a bed, and my uncle had the other room.

Shit, we were so poor that my grandmother would use the oven to heat the apartment (not cooking for, but cracking the oven door while it was on with nothing in it). That could not have been safe. And to this day I don’t really know if it was actually cheaper to heat the apartment using the oven vs. the actual heating unit. Either way my grandmother was determined it was the best and cheapest way to heat the house.

Getting Off Welfare: My Parents Were Not Role Models

My mom never held down a job longer than a few months and is both an alcoholic and drug addict. You can imagine that it would be pretty hard to hold down a job under these circumstances. I still remember days where she would pile my brothers and I into a car to go and buy drugs with her food stamps. Luckily, we lived with our grandmother who always made sure we had something to eat, even if was just a bologna sandwich.

Oh and my dad was a real winner himself. He is a drug addict and meth manufacturer. A real pair if you ask me. I can actually recall memories of being in a trailer out in the middle of nowhere, while my dad was extracting the pseudoephedrine from cold medicine to use in his meth cook. There were times when he would come home from a cook gone wrong and had his hands wrapped in gauze.

You could only guess that the batch must have exploded (later in life he confirmed this by the stories he told). This might all sound like a scene out of Breaking Bad, and after watching the series, that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. My father has been incarcerated more times that I can count and has spent at least 10-years of his life behind bars.

My parents and friends just like them were the kinds of “role models” I had around when I was growing up. If that is what you want to call them. I could probably count on one hand how many of them actually finished high school. I had to reach out to people outside my circle of influence and live vicariously through the people I admired.

From an early age I knew I wanted nothing to do with the type of lifestyle I grew up in. I realized early on that education was important and would be my ticket out of poverty. The recurring theme from successful people I met during my childhood was that they all had a college education.

Getting Off Welfare: I Needed To Get It Together

My ah-ha moment didn’t really come until I had a mentor who entered my life sometime in the 6th grade. At the time I had a 1.33 GPA and my school performance didn’t really get much attention at home. However, the new mentor held me accountable and made me bring him weekly progress reports.

Soon enough I was getting all A’s and my first of many 4.0 report cards. This mentor took me under his wing and spent a lot of time with me. He was an entrepreneur that owned several pizza places where I spent a lot of my time studying, doing homework, and learning about business. By the time I got into high school I knew I would study business in college.

Let’s face it; statistically I should be in prison based on my background. Instead I went to college, graduated with honors, and got a high paying job in finance out of school. I can’t remember exactly when I made the goal to become financially successful and eventually reach financial independence. Now I make more money in a month than my mother has ever made in a year. Ok, my father may have had some good months when he was selling drugs, but in the end he is almost 56 years old and has nothing.

Over the years I have tried to help both my parents get their life together and have even helped out financially. However, I eventually learned that I was only enabling their lifestyle as they were not willing to change. They just saw me as the bank, and I will warn you that this is the risk you run when doing well for yourself. It’s sad that the only time I hear from most of my family is when they need something from me (and its usually money).

Don’t take this the wrong way. I am not opposed to helping people out, I have spent thousands of dollars over the years helping out family and friends. My goal is to use the money I make to make sure my wife and our future family will never have to worry about money.

Breaking Free From Welfare

Over the years, many people have asked how I turned out the way I did, in light of the shitty situation. I almost always start with a famous study I remember hearing in my college psychology class that followed two brothers over a 30 year period in a very similar upbringing and family background to mine.

One brother went on to be very successful by American standards (he was earning a 6-figure income, was college educated, owned a home, drove a nice car, and took nice vacations with his wife and kids) while the other brother ended up in and out of prison. Like his parents he was addicted to drugs and hadn't amounted much. At the end of the study the psychologist ask both the brothers the same question…Why did you turn out the way you did?

And you know what they said?

They both answered the question the same, when they said “how else would I have turned out when you come from a family and upbringing like I did”.

The moral of my story is that you can use circumstance as a crutch or as a motivator. This country has always been filled with endless opportunity for those willing to play the long game and put in the work. And some might even get lucky here and there and end up with some sort of windfall.


1) Work Harder Than Your Peers

If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to put in the hard work. You have to be willing to do what other unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. I was able to double my income and ear over 6-figures because I put in the extra hours when everyone else was running for the door at 5 p.m. And it wasn’t always in the office. A lot of the extra hours I put in was learning new skill sets that would make me better and more efficient at my job.

Related: Don't Make Over $400,000 A Year: You Will Suffer A Lot

2) Get A College Education

The studies continue to show that there is a direct correlation with income and education level. If you want to earn more than you need to learn more. If you want to enter the workforce making $50,000 to $100,000 year, you need to get an education. Yes, there are successful people without college educations and they are the exception to the rule. And you don’t have to go to a Ivy League either. I went to a state school that cost about $10,000 in total for my bachelor’s degree.

3) Pay Yourself First

I learned early on in my career that you need to pay yourself first in the form of savings for retirement and investments. I have maxed out my 401K for years now, My wife and I own an investment condo and are always looking for other places to put our money to work. This also means that I don’t drive a fancy car or live in a house that is as much as I can afford.

Instead we live slightly below our means. This doesn’t mean your standard of living is degraded. The perfect example is the house we just bought. Instead of buying in Orange County where we were approved for a $750K loan, we opted to move inland and buy a huge house for $370,000 (something way less than we could afford). Our standard of living actually increased, based on the increase in disposable income for both investments and the things we enjoy.

Growing up I promised myself that I would never be anything like my parents and that I would not take the opportunities in this country for granted. I found people that were where I wanted to be. I studied them intently and listened to advice that was so generously given.

I have been fortunate to find many mentors help me along the way. I would argue that there is a bit of luck in every success, but luck is really found at the intersection of preparedness and opportunity. If you never prepare yourself by doing the work and making the investment in time and effort, you will never be “lucky.”

Believe In Making My Own Luck

You make your own luck based on the decisions you make on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You are either preparing yourself for success or you’re preparing yourself for failure. I was on welfare as kid, but I haven’t let that hold me back. I graduated college at the top of my class in December of 2009 and got hired as a financial analyst with a starting salary of $58,000/year.

Then in 2012 I joined the trade desk and took my salary to $85,000/year (which was way less than market at the time, but a great experience). Now in 2014, back in corporate finance, I am earning over 6 figures and on a combined basis brought in almost $214K in 2014.

From Welfare To Financial Independence

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why wouldn’t I work my ass off to take advantage of the abundance of opportunity staring me and the rest of the world in the face. My ultimate goal is to produce a monthly income of $50,000/month. That means I need a net worth of around $10M that earns 6% interest annually in order to never touch the principal. 2015 is the year I start tracking net worth and marching toward that goal.

If you are not where you want to be in life then do something about it. Take action. Or as Ghandi has so famously said “be the change you want to see”. Or take a lesson from the late Jim Rohn. He says “If you want to have more, then you must become more.” There is no way around it that it will take time and effort, but if you are willing to pay the price of success you can achieve anything. It’s never too late. Yes the best time to start to achieve financial independence was 20 years ago.

You know when the second best time is?


– Gen Y Finance Guy

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65 thoughts on “From Welfare to Well-Off: My Journey To Financial Independence”

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy


      It is really hard to say what my Net Worth would had been if I stayed with my original job. My guess is that it would be a bit higher. But the tradeoff would not have been worth the incremental dollars.


  1. Your story is the reason behind 30% – 50% of the military enlistments in this country. We do our time, we get the G.I. Bill, we build a life. It works, and has since 1945. My parents ate on the money I sent home from the Navy during Vietnam. I was buying ensure and nutritional supplements for my father when he died two years ago. But I hold multiple degrees including a Masters, paid off my mortgage in 20 years, put the old lady through her Masters, both kids through a very good state university, and today sit on +1M in retirement. All that while the American Dream was ‘failing’.

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Thank you for your service Sargent Oz!

      So happy to see that you were able to do well for you and your family.


  2. Wow Gen Y Finance Guy, inspiring story! Yes, while an impoverished and disadvantaged background probably wouldn’t help a person succeed, it also doesn’t doom a person to failure. Neither genetics nor environmental factors = destiny in most situations. Would it be accurate to say that your mentor helped you realize that you have choices in life? His high expectations for you encouraged you to have high expectations for yourself?

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Hi Tamara,

      I would absolutely agree. Sometimes all it takes is someone that tells you they care. It’s the small things that make all the difference.


  3. Awesome story and congratulations on achieving financial independence. About that 10MM goal, I have a very similar goal to yours where I want to have 10MM NW when I reach 50. I’m sure you can reach it. Our combined income was very similar you yours when I was your age and now I’m 40 and my net worth is a bit over 4MM and I have no doubt that you can reach that goal.

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      That is awesome Jay. Do you happen to blog about your journey anywhere? Maybe I can learn a thing or to from you :)


  4. Gen Y Finance Guy


    Good to see you over here on Financial Samurai. As you mentioned on another post, we have been running into each other all over. The personal finance community is a great one, and although there is something like 800,000+ blogs in the space, its still a relatively small one.

    Thank you very much for the kind words. Grit is a great word to describe resilience. I wish more people in this world had Grit.

    Regarding $10M goal,

    As you can see in the comments…this has generated a lot of questions about how I plan to get there and what I plan to do with that much money. I am working on a post to detail all of this out.

    But specifically to address your question. As I get older I have a few plans with the money. First I would like to set up a family bank. It is my ultimate goal to make sure my family is financially literate and understands the value of money. But at the same time I like the idea of helping out my kids with things like buying a house, their first investment property, starting a business…etc. With a family bank you could get favorable rates, but could only access the money when certain conditions are met.

    I would also like to set up a foundation that could help kids like me, by providing mentor-ship and guidance. And a heavy emphasis on financial literacy, which this country grossly lacks.

    However, my goal will be to have my last check bounce the day I pass away. I want to see all the money spent. And I am not a big believe in inheritance. If I do my job, my kids won’t need the money.


  5. Oh, forgot to ask something. So your goal is to invest the $10 million and live off the passive income. My question is, what would your plan be for the $10 million when you get old? Would you want to cash everything out and spend it before you die, donate it, or leave it to your kid/kids? Just curious, since it’s such a large amount of money.

  6. Great story, Dominic. It’s awesome that you were able to do so great in life. I grew up in a poor country, and it was a struggle to come to America, the richest country in the world :) I felt like I was way behind everybody else, having to start it all from 0, and with no family or friends to help at all, but finally I feel I caught up. It’s such a rich country with so many opportunities, how is it that so many people live paycheck to paycheck?
    The story of the study they did on the two brothers reminds me of a study I translated in college. I was trying to make some extra money and a psychology student ask me to translate it. I can’t remember it well, but the idea, that stuck with me through the years, was the same. How some people who go through hardships in life emerge way better, stronger and more motivated, while others succumb to the circumstances. I think they called this psychological resilience. I call it grit, and you, sir, have plenty of it :)

  7. Sounds great to me. I hope you make it to 10M. I want to be right there with you. Those are the kind of numbers that I dream of myself. My monthly goal for dividend income is about $12000.00 not including rental income. Since most of my money is in IRA accounts, the tax implications as I go are reduced- that might help a bit.

    Anyhow, I enjoyed the post. Now get out there and start making those gains. Good job!

    Keep cranking,

    Robert the DividendDreamer

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Love the name Dividend Dreamer!

      Yes, I agree that you should always dream bigger than what you actually think is possible. It reminds me of a quote I think from Larry Page at Google. I will probably butcher it but it goes something like this:

      “You have to go for those moon shots because even if you miss you can’t really fail completely.”


  8. Wowzers Gen Y Finance Guy… Wonderful post bro, I just bookmarked your website and I will be digesting some of your articles in short time :)

    I grew up in a solid middle class background, however my parents both grew up on food stamps and I have some family members who have been in and out of jail all their lives. Violence, substance abuse etc. When I was younger I was always in trouble and long story short – I was fortunate to attend college for ~5 years rather than having that be a jail stint.

    I matured, changed my ways and harnessed my technology and sales knowledge to better myself after I went to graduate school. I love a good underdog story bro. As I grew older I realized how easy it is for folks to stay in the same income bracket as their parents and the various advantages some people have in regards to their parents education/experience. In essence, it is easy for the rich to stay rich and the poor to stay poor.

    Shout out to yourself and all those who rise above the crap or history around them to do better for themselves.

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Thanks Steve!

      Glad you found your self serving 5-years in college and not hard time in prison.

  9. Your story reminds me how you can achieve anything if you make the effort. I tell my students the same thing all the time. You have to want it very badly to overcome life’s obstacles. Most, if not all of my students are “at risk” students need encouragement and positive role models. Teaching, is my second (actually seventh) career following achieving financial independence. I use my success (experience) to motivate, encourage and cajole my students to do their best. Fortunately, I have had some success over the years. It keeps me motivated in this difficult profession!

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      You are doing great work Krantcents!

      Thanks for doing all that you do for those “at risk” students.

  10. Dom, earning $50,000 is a nice chunk of change. The take home after taxes will be closer to $25,000 fyi. And then you’ll get a little irked the government takes half, and then I bet you’ll want to make less.

    It feels better making $20,000 a month than $50,000 a month! Or at the most, it feels no different!

    But then, if you are making $50,000 a month from investments paying a LT cap gains tax instead, that might feel pretty good.

    At each million milestone you reach, don’t forget to take me out to a steak dinner. Appreciate it!

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Good point Sam!

      Hopefully we will go get that first steak dinner sooner rather than later.


  11. Inspiring. I am confident that some people will stumble upon this post in a random Google search and be inspired. Your point about going above and beyond to learn complimentary skills really is a good one.

  12. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Yep, “Be the change you want to see in the world” – Ghandi

    Wise advice indeed Untemplater.

    Thanks for reading!

  13. Thanks for sharing your story! “Nothing to lose, and everything to gain” – what an inspiration to so many to escape the lifestyle that you had growing up. What an incredible impact a true mentor can make and I’m so glad you have had so many, especially that first small business owner.

    A wise friend told me once, “Why are you telling me about such and such problem? Why don’t you just go and fix it?” It was a bit of a shock to get that reaction, but after I stopped to think about it, quite a sage piece of advice. In other words, if we see something that’s broken, or messed up, or unsatisfying in front of us or in our lives, don’t just tell people about it – go DO something about it! :)

  14. Really enjoyed your story, Dominic. Also, am a new reader of your site. Quoting Jim Rohn and Norman Vincent Peale tells me you are a person who enjoys reading, and reminds me of another great quote, “the man who does not read has not advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain I admire the way you saw how things “are” instead of obsessing on how things “should be.” Your motivated attitude, and embracing of hard work (I’m sure you worked ‘smart’, too!) is something to be respected, and I look forward to reading about your continued journey. Thanks for sharing with this great post!

    1. LIKE

      Jim Rohn is good stuff! A lot of wisdom, particularly in his lengthy seminars. Very old school (not as old school as my perennial favorite Napoleon Hill) and he was the first personal development guy Tony Robbins worked for, by Tony’s own admission.

      1. Gen Y Finance Guy

        Ah, yes, “Think and Grow Rich”. That is a classic. Have you read his book that was only recently released after being held back by the family called “Outwitting the Devil”? It was locked away for 75 years before the family finally allowed it to be published.


        1. I have the iTunes/Audible audio version of “Outwitting…” since it’s not on Kindle. It is largely consistent with TAGR and “The Laws of Success.” While I don’t believe in taking content for free, there is of course an audio version of “Outwitting…” one can listen to on YouTube. I don’t think it’s an essential read, but some people really like it a lot.

    2. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Thank you JayCeezy!

      I am a prolific reader. Its a habit I didn’t pick up until I graduated college. I use to only read what was required for school. Nowadays, for the last few years I have probably averaged about 40-50 books a year.

      My favorite book of all time is the “Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson.

      As a perpetual student, I am always open to recommended reading if you have any books to suggest.

      1. Sounds like you have already read the greats, and interested people always find their way to worthy and well-known sources. I will give ‘Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson a read, thank you for the reco. Here are a few offbeat books that impressed me with hard-learned wisdom and applicable solutions, and links to guest posts I hope will be of interest.

        How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams – setbacks, ceilings, unexpected change, and how to sustain motivation when things don’t look promising
        Me, Inc – Gene $immons – an immigrant who didn’t speak English until his teens, worked his way through college and held straight jobs until age 27.
        Rumsfeld’s Rules – actually a compendium of quotes/lessons from others (i.e. Sun Tzu, John Wooden, etc.) that Rumsfeld was able to utilize in his worklife. There are situations that will never be ‘win-win’, or can be compromised; recognizing and acting on these situations, in spite of all the ‘noise’ and imperfect circumstances, is something only a few of us will ever face successfully, and this book contains words from those who have really done it, and not just talked about it.
        The Secret Power Within – Chuck Norris – poverty, substance abuse, and violence defined his early home life. He failed his first black belt test very publicly, broke his hand during another test, was bankrupted by a business partner who betrayed and stole from him, and has lessons-learned to share on problems everybody faces. Money, Business, Relationships. Mind, Body, Spirit. My favorite book of this genre, I still return to it.

        Continued success to you, Dominic!

  15. Awesome story! Thank you for sharing! I am saving this one to read to my child when she is old enough to digest it.

    It’s amazing what a positive mindset, combined with follow-up actions, can do. This is such a refreshing read – no envy, no pushing someone else down.

    Keep on rocking it!

      1. Your blog is nice too. I look forward to digging into it, even if I’m a …AHEM…baby boomer!

        And you could teach Samuel a thing or two about a nice logo design and color schemes.

        1. Gen Y Finance Guy

          Thanks Steve!

          I hope I can learn a thing or two from you :)

          Sam’s site may be simple, but you can’t deny that he has some epic content. His blog is at the top of my favorites list for sure.

          I am sure I will see you around.


  16. Nice story, but as a finance person (or anyone, really), you should realize 214k is still six figures. Over six figures would be 1M+.

    Just something that annoys me because I get excited to read about individuals who make over six figures…until I realize they think anything over 100k is over six figures.

    1. Makes sense…and you’re right technically, but:

      Most people define six figures as $100,000. Anything over that is therefore “over six figures”. I don’t think it’s very misleading at all. Especially since he’s making DOUBLE what most define as six figures.

      It annoys me more for someone to exaggerate small numbers. It’s like if someone won a competition, a common question for them is, “how many people were you competing with”? That person may say, “over 30”, when the actual number is 32.

      1. I get your point, but 100k is not that much anymore. And it sounds like 214k is the combined annual income with his wife’s. Personally, 214k will be within my reach in a few short years as a single income earner and financial independence (which I define as only working because I don’t want to be bored) will be at 45.

      2. Gen Y Finance Guy

        Hey Ann,

        Didn’t mean to mislead anyone. That’s why I had full transparency by providing real numbers in the post. Didn’t want anyone to draw the wrong conclusions.

        You are right! I still make six figures, but well over the standard “$100,000” benchmark that Ricky pointed out.

        Looking forward to the day I earn 7-figures.

        Thanks for stopping by.

    2. Actually, I thought six figures was $100,000 to $999,999?

      Saying “I make six figures” for someone making in the high six figures is therefore a form of stealth wealth.

      I never thought the default assumption was $100,000.

    3. Come on, Ann, don’t be a pedantic ****. Anyone making $1,000,000 and up (over 7 figures?) does not describe their income as “over six figures.” You must get annoyed quite a bit if you are truly disappointed when you read the phrase “over six figures” and then discover the intended and widely accepted meaning is “over $100,000”.

      Do you really think your comment was helpful, or you educated anyone? If you just read this awesome post about a young person growing up with criminals and junkies, sleeping on a floor and being warehoused in public elementary school, to someone who credits others for his success and has learned the value of education, hard work, competition, and respect for the future he has planned for his family, and all you got out of it worth commenting was a “six figures” nitpick, then it doesn’t surprise me that in “a few short years” you will be 45 and calculating your ‘single-income’ earnings.

      1. Whoa! Calm yourself. Details matter. That’s how I made my first million and am working on the next few.

        And I was born in a third world country and didn’t get a bed to sleep on until I was 12. I grew up surrounded by gangbangers and drug dealers who killed each other next door. Literally. I’ll never forget the smell of a decaying body.

  17. Great post and thanks for sharing. Congratulations and best wishes for the road ahead.

    I would caution, however, to put a little more thought into your “number”. The stuff you describe doing – traveling at will and eating out a bunch – requires a whole lot less than $50K per month. I’d do a bottoms-up calculation to validate your projected spend, because it feels like you’ve arbitrarily picked a nice round number.

    (And whatever you do, don’t open a restaurant because you like food!!!)

    But in any event keep up the good work, and best of luck to you!

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Hey PK,

      I totally get your point of view and also realize that I can live the life I describe on far less than $50K/month. Your also right that I don’t know exactly what I will do with all that money.

      Good advice on not opening a restaurant. My mentor would kill me if I did that, as he once told me that whatever I do, don’t get in the food business. But if I ever had more money than I knew what to do with, it could be a passion project with no expectation of making money.

      The number is nice and round and maybe a bit arbitrary. I can’t explain it at the moment, but I am compelled to at least try.

      “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  18. great story — this is the most important paragraph. without this, we wouldn’t be reading the story:

    “My ah-ha moment didn’t really come until I had a mentor who entered my life sometime in the 6th grade. At the time I had a 1.33 GPA and my school performance didn’t really get much attention at home. However, the new mentor held me accountable and made me bring him weekly progress reports. Soon enough I was getting all A’s and my first of many 4.0 report cards. This mentor took me under his wing and spent a lot of time with me. He was an entrepreneur that owned several pizza places where I spent a lot of my time studying, doing homework, and learning about business. By the time I got into high school I knew I would study business in college.”

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Couldn’t agree more. That mentor offered a fork in the road, the only credit I can take is that I took it. I am forever indebted to him.

      1. you deserve great credit–your mentor showed you a different path, but you took that path. as a society, we should learn from this and similar stories, and do everything we can to create more opportunity for this type of intervention.

  19. Tremendous story GenY… There are so many ways one can make excuses for not achieving or accomplishing goals in life, however there are very few ways to actually make it all happen. I like to think of financial success sort of like a reputation… takes years and a lot of hard work to build and maintain, but can ruined or be poor with very little effort.

    Best of luck, and kudos to you for working to mentor those around you. Giving back is the ultimate gift.

  20. Definitely an inspirational story! Good read.

    I think circumstance has a lot to do with our outcome in life. Circumstance influences everyone, it’s just that everyone is different. In that regard, you were motivated to get out of what you recognized as a bad situation. You had a goal and you were the type of person with willpower to achieve it. There are plenty of people that wouldn’t have done what you did, so it’s awesome you did it.

    But we also have to realize that it’s not just family that affects us. It’s race, sex, religion, location. I’m willing to bet you’re a tall white male that still was within 5 hours of a major city. Excuse me if I’m wrong. I’m just trying to paint a larger picture here.

    Also, why $10m? It’s great you have enough money to do whatever you want to do now, but why would $50k a month make you any happier than you are now? We definitely need goals in life, I’m just curious.

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Your right that there are many variables at play in life, and I count myself to be lucky to have found people to look up to and mentor me. I don’t have any experience having any of the other factors you mention affect my life. You got me nailed by the way :) (tall, white male, with in 5 hours of a major city).

      Your absolutely on to something…I probably need far less than $10M in Net Worth or $50k/month in income to be happy. And I absolutely realize that there is a big difference between need and want.

      $10M is a number that I personally think is both achievable and challenging. At the same time it almost seems out of reach when you put into perspective that if you round off my $200K Net Worth today that I am still $10M away.

      I personally like to set goals that seem a little crazy to others, its just how I am wired. When people doubt or call me crazy…that just fires me up.

      Its also a goal that will keep me engaged and interested for the long game.

      1. Our situations are very similar, and its great to see that someone else has made it out from a bad start. However, I have no idea what the above demo cold read has to do with it. Obviously you’re a male by your name, etc…and being white and within 5 hours of a major city? Thats nearly all of america, with your race just the statistically most likely. 44% of the worlds population lives near the coast, we’re not as scattered as we think, were social and swarmy. While I like almost everyone was within 5 hours of a city, no one would call me tall! Maybe average if I was female, didnt seem to hold me back in anything other than basketball.

        I find it odd that people who essentially “got out” at some young precocious point make a pact with themselves to do better, as your wording was eerily similar to my own. Something in the psychology there. Kudos and good luck. I also think that 10M is a good number, why not? Im a tad behind given my schooling arc/cost (crap p/e ratio on that at the time), but I am going for it.
        The truth is given those circumstances you are much more likely to lead a decidedly less than average life with stints in the clink. You’re probably just wired different, as are all people from different walks of life that look at their situations and ask, why? how come? and does it have to be this way or can I do better? That is not even close to the average person, no matter the socioeconomic status.

        1. Gen Y Finance Guy

          I am not sure where Tyler was going to go with this. I thought maybe if I confirmed his demographic profile that he might expand…maybe he still will.

          I think my wiring if for sure different that many people I come across. And it is heavily influenced by the way I grew up. I could had easily gone to the far end of the spectrum and ended up right where the statistics predict.

          Would love to hear you story. Have you shared it anywhere online? Our stories are what make us interesting, unique, and human.


          1. I havent shared it yet, but have been told I should do so, usually “write a book”. Im not sure that will ever happen, but I can see a blog post being easier to accomplish. Maybe I will make a blog and finally get it out there. You’ve inspired me to think about doing it. Totally agree with the stories idea, a variation of that was my opening line for my med school (and co opted again for residency) personal statement. Too funny.

  21. Samurai Dominic,

    Well played. What about your brothers?

    Too, what a blessing you had a mentor. I wondered if they too had a mentor?

    Do you still have a relationship with your mentor?

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Hi Joy,

      I have 3 younger brothers. I have helped and tried to mentor them over the years.

      One brother (27) is currently going to school up in Northern California using his GI bill after spending 4 years in the Navy. He also works at a winery up there.

      Another brother (24) just had a baby about a year ago. He works for Nissan, he has made some decisions that has made life a bit harder than it has to be. But he is doing what it takes to be a good dad.

      And my third and youngest (23) brother has just woke up and smelled the coffee. He got his act together and is now working full time and just bought his first car.

      I try to be there encourage them and be a role model for them. So I have tried to mentor them, but sometimes I think they find it hard to listen to me because I am their brother. But we have a very good relationship. I am confident they will find their own success, and they know I am here to help them along the way.

      Regarding Mentors. Yes I have had and have many. I still stay in contact with the one I mention above. He stood in as my “father” when I got married and gave a great speech. Mentors come in all kinds of forms.

      Not all my mentors are people I know personally. Some are virtual, the internet is beautiful in that regard.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my story.


      1. Great to hear your story and especially see how your siblings are going well too and breaking that cycle!

  22. Great post Dominic. I think a lot of people have it ingrained in them to do at least a little better than their parents did, it’s just human nature, and others take it a step further.

    I know we discussed how you have quite a large goal in terms of net worth of $10m by the time you turn 48 I believe, but I was wondering if you could just shed some light on why that is your goal. Is it because you think you’ll be happiest earning $50k/month in passive income? Will this money enable you to enjoy an expensive passion you have? Will you use the money to help your family? Start a business?


    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Hey FF,

      Good to see you over here on Financial Samurai.

      Yes you are correct, my goal is $10M by the time I am 48. Its a pretty lofty goal, especially considering I am just barely at $200K as of last month.

      My wife thinks I am a bit crazy. But as Norman Vincent Peal has been so famously be quoted:

      “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

      In all honesty I probably need far less than $10M. When I was younger I use to think I wanted to make a BILLION. I quickly realized that this wasn’t necessary. You can live like a Billionaire for far less money. Or at least my idea of a Billionaire lifestyle.

      There is no expensive hobby to fund, at least not yet. But for some reason I am compelled to chase $10M in Net Worth and $50K in income.

      I certainly want to have plenty of income to continue investing for the rest of my life. I have always wanted to have a restaurant as I absolutely love food. So that may be in the cards. Along those same lines, if money was no object, I would likely eat out and nice restaurants most nights. It is really one of my favorite things to do.

      Also at $50,000 a month I think I could pretty much do as I please around the world. I do plan to travel more than I do now (which is really one big trip a year, followed by a few smaller get away’s more locally).

      I plan to put more thought into this in a future post.


      1. I’ll be looking forward to your post on the topic. For me right now, I don’t have a set number in mind. If I said I wanted to be FI by 40, a million different things could happen between now and then. I could achieve it much younger. I could have a set back. Or I could start my own business or find a job I love and not want to quit at 40. I think concrete goals are great, as they paint a picture of the road you need to take. But my goals seem to morph constantly as my personal and financial life changes. Different things start making you happy, and old hobbies die and new hobbies are born. My only advice is don’t be afraid to change the journey as there are infinite paths to reach your goals! Thanks for sharing.

        1. Gen Y Finance Guy

          I couldn’t agree more. You need to leave room in the plan for serendipity. You never know what life might through at you.

      2. I really enjoyed and applaud your story. Reminds me of my own story. You seem to be on a good track. Trust me when I say the hard part is to stay on “the right track”. From my own experience the next few years will present you with some tuff choices of your own. Be careful to stay focused on the prize and remain Leary of any expensive hobbies or habits! Good luck and continued success!

  23. Steve@ChattingFinance

    Great story Dominic. It’s very humbling to hear your story. I was dealt a great hand. Hard working parents, good neighborhood, good schools, etc.

    It’s interesting that most of my life I was complaining about blessings in my life. I hated my after school asian math program. How many people in America can afford education like that? I would complain as a kid that my computer was too slow, and I needed new parts. I was pretty much spoiled.

    Even sometimes now, I complain about my journey to financial independence. I just started and have a long way to go. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, but that’s why I keep reading blogs like Financial Samurai and stories like these.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Glad you enjoyed it Steve!

      Hopefully stories like these help put things in perspective for you.

      I remember one of my mentors saying “my legs hurt, until I saw a man with no legs”.

      Looking forward to checking out your blog and your progress to financial independence.


    2. I understand about the need for motivation, hence my Motivation category. Life is so much easier in the States vs India, China, and many places I grew up. Without motivation, slacking off becomes easy.

      It’s fun to work and save for something in particular.

  24. BE Pennypacker

    Awesome story! You’ve done a great job getting yourself on the right track.

    It’s also sad when the opposite story happens – riches to rags. I know several people that were brought up in relatively wealthy households that squandered the hand they were dealt and aren’t nearly as successful as they should be. They complain about their low paying jobs, but lack the drive to take action and expect opportunities to be handed to them.

    1. Gen Y Finance Guy

      Thanks BE Pennypacker!

      I agree that the opposite is very sad to see. To have such an advantage and just let it go to waste. Hopefully your friends will find their way back on the right path.


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