What Do You Have Left To Prove?

Are you wondering what do you have left to prove? I've been wondering this a lot lately after 12 years of writing on Financial Samurai. I'm tired, and I don't think I have anything left to prove. However, I also like to keep busy.

I like conflict because it gives me motivation to try harder.

During high school I had the talent to play at an elite level of tennis if I trained more. Unfortunately, I didn't want to work on my backhand and nobody was really badgering me. As a result, I only received “First Team All District” honors instead of achieving “All Sectionals” honors at the end of senior year.

Because I wanted to spend more time with my girlfriend and I didn't want to spend time traveling on weekends to play tennis tournaments, I never received any recognition from college coaches except for a small Division III school. I sometimes wonder what could have been if I went all out.

Nobody made me feel like a loser about tennis because I was already the team captain for two years and had a girlfriend. Girlfriend + Captain in high school is a respectable combo. I didn't have anything to prove, so I didn't do anything more.

What Is Left To Prove But Everything

But now as a 37 year old, I love playing tennis. I've worked on my topspin backhand religiously for three years and I'm entering tournaments now. The problem is my body isn't as fast or as strong as it was 20 years ago. I've got a torn meniscus that is slowing me down. Damn. I wish I had the same enthusiasm back then. It's because I know my time left playing competitive singles is limited, that I'm trying to do as much as I can now. When you're young, you think everything will last forever.

There are other events that have left an indelible mark on my psyche. When I was 20 years old, four offensive linemen from the university football team came into Denny's and attacked me and my girlfriend with racial slurs. We were used to racial conflict living in the South, but I was still pissed because they attacked my girl's honor.

Attack me all you want, but don't attack the people I care about. The incident motivated both of us to do well for the remaining two years of school and try to become financially independent as soon as possible. I wanted to prove to them that I could rise above their bullshit perceptions.

When I was 32 years old, a junior colleague started making fun of me when I told him I was starting a personal finance site. He started making a weird face and typing on an air keyboard, mocking my idea. I guess I smiled, but inside I was thinking, you little prick.

Whenever the going gets tough online, I remember back to this incident and push on through. Word has it he's miserable at his job because he's stuck. Welcome to the real world, buddy. Guess you should have joined me in air keyboard class.

So Many Fun Things Left To Prove

One of the things that some readers have pointed out over the past 5 years is that it must have been “so easy” for me to save 50%-75% of my income every year given I had a high income working in finance. I won't deny that my income was higher than the median household income.

But do people really think it's “easy” to save the majority of income every year when peer pressure and temptation is everywhere? You try never eating a warm chocolate chip cookie if it's sitting right in front of you all day. Sure, saving 20-35% is not a problem compared to the average US savings rate of 4-5%. But saving 50%-75% takes discipline.

I would argue that it might be harder to save a majority of your income at higher income levels under $1 million because you don't really need to. Surely everyone has heard multiple stories of truly high income earning people going bankrupt. When you don't need to do something, you tend not to do it. I remember saving 100% of my $4.25/hour job for months because I needed money to fix my crappy car!

But all's good, because I enjoy detractors thanks to the motivation it provides. Given some of the pushback completely disregards my efforts to land such a job and ignores thousands of people who make even more and still do not save as much and are still working, I decided to start all over in 2012 by leaving my job.

I wanted to leave because I was getting bored and the severance package was very attractive. I also thought how awesome it would be to prove to myself and to others that I could make something from nothing.

Creating Something From Nothing

I thought for a moment what else could my detractors say about making something from nothing, and I couldn't think of anything so I got to work. Since 2012, I wrote a severance negotiation book. I published 300+ more articles on Financial Samurai.

In addition, I started a small personal finance consulting effort. The idea was to find partnerships with companies I use and believe in such as Credible for my portfolio of real estate articles and Personal Capital for my portfolio of wealth management articles.

As I tally up the business numbers in 2014, I realized that operating profits have surpassed my day job's last year income (excluding the severance). And the year isn't over yet. I'm proud of the results. But I never doubted this would not eventually happen if I just stuck with writing useful articles. “If the direction is correct, sooner or later you will get there,” says an old Chinese proverb.

I'm bullish on the personal online media industry. No longer do people want to simply read the news from reporters who have no skin in the game. Instead, people want to digest articles from people who have authority. Useful advice is a must! Those who can incorporate story-telling into their articles will rule the domain because all of us enjoy finding a connection with others.

Related: Sweet Dreams Of Becoming A Millionaire Again

What Else Is There Left To Prove?

There hasn't been any naysaying for the past six months that I recall, and I'm getting a little worried. What happened to the men who hate me for arguing why women should get paid equally as men? I don't understand why anybody would not want their mother, daughter, or sister to have equality. Nobody is forcing young women to go out with gross old men.

What happened to the pessimistic folks who are annoyed that everything will not be OK due to a massive generational wealth transfer? Our parents just went through the biggest bull market of all time. I'm sorry if they spent it all on themselves. But know that many more are passing on their wealth to many undeserving children.

What happened to the folks who say making six figures is impossible, even though electricians are making $150,000 and get to retire with $5,000 a month pensions?

Off line, I'm working on my personal relationships with friends and loved ones. I'm also trying to figure out a synergistic way to incorporate more charitable monetary efforts to help specific causes. I've found it takes a lot of effort to coordinate with others to give back e.g. Yakezie Scholarship for education. It's no wonder why many people just write checks. I'd like to continue keeping most of the topics on Financial Samurai personal finance related, so I apologize if there are folks out there who want to read more soap opera articles.

If you're a naysayer and have been holding your thoughts in for a while, please let me know what you disapprove of. I need to hear your doubts now so I can try and prove you wrong. It'll be fun and you'll help me a great deal. I'm also curious to know from readers what are some of the things that are left for you to prove. Who are the people filling your mind with doubt, but also filling your heart with motivation?

Related: Be Unapologetically FIERCE About Pursuing Your Dreams

Build Your Own Platform

I strongly believe everybody should start their own blog and establish a platform online. You will attract like-minded people, and potentially make a good livable income stream online. Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009. If I didn't, I wouldn't be free and updating this post from Budapest, Hungary!

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89 thoughts on “What Do You Have Left To Prove?”

  1. Pingback: When Should You Quit Your Day Job To Become A Full-Time Blogger? | Yakezie.com

  2. Dividend Harvester

    I’m a few years older and never that good at tennis, but if you feel like kicking someones ass let me know; have to be a weekend since I stil lhave a dayjob in to pay for things in the Bay Area. I did photograph a few National Championship teams in college, does that count? :D

  3. Never been a naysayer–it’s hard to learn with an open mind that way.

    I do like to go off you sometimes for your rants about how people should strive to be the absolute best at something instead of just having fun. The point of playing tennis should be that’s it’s a joyful distraction–not setting a goal of kicking everyone else’s ass or always playing faster, better, stronger than before. Hell, let others win sometimes.

    So, I’ll naysay your ulcer-causing perfectionism, but also praise your financial advice if that’s okay? :)

    1. Sounds good Edward. When I was young, tennis was more about winning all the time, but I didn’t take it far enough as I write in my post. Now, tennis is about just having fun first and trying to win second and have a good time.

      I’m really not a perfectionist. Good enough, is good enough in many things. I’m scared of perfectionists and don’t want an ulcer! :)

  4. What”s wrong with coasting? Why the need to improve? I’m 43, financially independent and completely coasting. I don’t want to improve myself anymore. I’m tired of it. For 24 years I saved, invested, and worked long hours to get to a point where I can coast. I work the bare minimum to keep my company operating for the benefit of some good long term employees who made coasting a reality for me. Coasting is fun. In the last 4 days I’ve golfed twice, went fishing, drafted a fantasy football team, ate out 3 times, and lied in bed with the wife and kid and binge watched Netflix for 8 hours.

    Why not lay back and enjoy the fruits of your labor? Why the need to keep improving? If coasting is going backwards I don’t ever want to go forward!

    1. Nothing wrong if you’re satisfied with what you’ve achieved. I think I’ll feel more your way in five years when I’m 43 as well.

      Currently, I’m itching to do a little more. I’ve got one bigger thing left to do, which should start next summer.

      1. **Currently, I’m itching to do a little more. I’ve got one bigger thing left to do, which should start next summer.**

        Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how to execute a ‘tease’.

      2. Hey! Wait a minute! A ‘forever house perfect for a family of three’. A new vehicle purchase next year. One bigger thing left to do…next summer…like about 9 months from now….hmmm.

  5. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income

    The biggest challenge I see is being able to sustain personal motivation and drive over a lifetime. I see so many friends crashing and burning around 40-45 because they have achieved what they want in life and now they are bored. Some get in to drugs and some have changed their finances and gone in to debt for a new boat or sports car and they are trying to change who they are (mid-life crisis) instead of trying something else to challenge them. They worry as I do that over time my skills will become less marketable and someone younger could come in and take my spot. We can always live our lives with “what if” or we can move forward creating new goals. Then I have other friends who are trying to challenge their body and stay active in cycling, cross-fit, golf or beach body stuff.

    1. I think I’m one of your friends then. I thought I would work until 40, but I “crashed and burned” from boredom, disillusionment, and the desire to do something new with this online thing. Now I wonder how long I can keep it up. I’ve done 5 years, and know I can do 5 more years, but then I’m 42, right in your 40-45 window. Things get kinda boring after 10 consecutive years.

      How old are you?

  6. Hey Sam-

    Interesting post. Personally, I played my absolute best golf when I was a freshman in college because I had so much motivation to prove myself. I made it to the #1 player freshman year and had the lowest average on the team. Sophomore year, although I still cared, I didn’t have the same motivation and I played significantly worse.

    I often think about motivation and the impact it has on achieving one’s potential…in sport, career growth, financial independence…everything.

    What I know fore (see what I did there?) sure is a 5 dollar bet with some friends can significantly increase my focus on the course!

    1. Good stuff! I was super into golf when I was working (client entertainment). I got to a 9.8 after being a 15-16 handi for years due to one year of effort. Then I just totally burnt out! Hard to get tee times, expensive and takes a long time.

      But if I was a member of a private club that has 3 hour rounds, count me in!

      What’s your handi now and how often do you play?

      1. I played to a scratch from 16-22 (played over 100x a year). I now live in NYC and play about 15 times a year to about a 7 handicap.

        Although it is very expensive, I def want to join a club when I am older.

        1. Wow… 100X a year is A LOT! I remember taking Golf III in college as a Junior. I’d play 5X a week, and was sore all over.

          Going from scratch to playing at about a 7 handicap must make you A LOT of money on the course! Because it’s not like you lose that much from your game right? It’s just the short game, and perhaps sticking it during the approach.

          1. I get sore when I play for the first time after taking weeks and weeks off but if I am playing every day, I don’t get sore.

            I make money as long as I play match play (-:

            My issue is I am wild off the tee – so I am hitting 2-4 drives OB per round, and hence the 7 handicap. If I play match play, I can just move on the the next hole!

            1. 3 wood, 250 is all you need then!

              I’m favorite is playing Wolf Vegas for $1 a point with birdies double, eagles tripling, and reverse greenies. So say there’s a par 4 course and you and your partner both get 4s. One opponent gets a 5 and another blows up and gets a 7. 57 – 44 = $13 per person. Sweet. But let’s say your team gets a 3 and a 4 vs. a 4 and a 7. Because your team got a birdie, you FLIP the opponent’s score to 74 – 34 = $40 a person. Magic!

              Betting on the golf course is so nerve wracking and fun. Aloha presses, sandies, etc. So fun!

            2. I am getting fitted this weekend for a new 3-wood!

              I usually just play stroke or match play when betting – but your game sounds interesting! I for sure need to look up new and interesting games to spice things up a little on the course.

  7. It’s a very good post, Sam. You are indeed authentic — and that’s what I think people really connect to when it comes to your writing.

    I guess I just wish you paid more Federal and California income taxes. Hmmmm….do I have Barack on my speed dial? Hmmmmmm…..

    1. After over paying for those 13 years, I would like to sit back, pay less, and get some return out of my contributions!

      So I thank you Steve for helping your fellow Californian out!

  8. Nothing to prove at all. What others think and feel is dependent within the scope of their maturity, understanding and perception of life. We should refuse to get caught up with that. If you are having your zen moment – that is all that matters! :-)

  9. get back to your roots… https://www.financialsamurai.com/whats-your-number/ (and give even more to charity [or employ some burgeoning software engineers for your business to help it grow])

    don’t get any of the new cars you’ve been eying… https://www.financialsamurai.com/my-suv-will-beat-up-your-hybrid-save-the-world/

    and see if you can — no… wait, you’ve pretty much rocked everything else in life out of the park unless you can dig even deeper and bring your COL down to Jacob’s $7k/year

  10. You have one of the best financial blogs on the internet. Beside your financial advice, you told us so many stories about yourself and your general philosophies about life.
    So because of all these things, you are the number 1 financial blog in my opinion. There is nothing more to improve here, A+ in my opinion!

  11. Oh wow, congratulation! It’s amazing that your current income is higher than your old salary. You’re a rock star man.
    I’m really bad with conflicts. I avoid them and I guess that’s not good for growth. I also like coasting… It’s just so much easier than struggling to prove myself all the time. I guess that’s my personality.
    It would be great to make more than my old salary, but I just feel driven enough right now. Maybe in a few years…

    1. Thanks Joe. It’s taken 5 years to replicate, so I’m not sure how great it is.

      I don’t love constant conflict, but I do like the occasional conflict. You seem to be at a happy place right now, which is good. I’m feeling a little restless, and little unchallenged again. Hence, 2015 or will have new initiatives on things I’ve never done most likely.

  12. Huh, we all have these stories. I was a slightly above average basketball player. I got cut from 8th (and 9th) grade teams. The 8th grade coach gave a long speech to a crowd of kids he just cut on the last day of try-outs, telling us he would retire if one of us actually made the varsity team. That was the motivation I needed to make varsity. It was a difficult trip, but sure enough, the guy retired (around that time, I only knew about it because I took his daughter to the prom).

    For my part, I think you are a decent writer with some ~insight into human psyche, so you should probably publish something outside of PF. Otherwise you are a complete failure.

    1. Thank you for saying that I’m a complete failure if I don’t extend beyond writing about PF! Definitely a great motivator.

      Do you have some articles you’ve written I can read so I can get some ideas and learn about your standards of success? It would be great if you could share a guest post about your background and share how you got to where you are too.


      1. “Dave” can’t be serious, and I’m sorry Sam….but I just laughed out loud upon reading this (his comment and not your post). And I sure hope you did as well when you first read it. Yikes.

      2. I can guest post. Your blog is a fun read most of the time, and your guests are pretty good reads also. I don’t have any articles of the sort I mentioned you should write (you specifically asked for some abrasive motivation – although I think a similar writing style might be Mark Adams or Timothy ferriss). As an engineer, I’ve written technical articles, but nothing with insights into personal belief systems for wealth/living.

        1. Great! Send me a draft of something interesting in a week, and I’ll provide some feedback. I’d just tell your personal story about something and your philosophies on money etc. You can highlight one of my posts and write a rebuttal, share why you wanted to be an engineer, your thoughts on financial independence, what has made you a success, etc.

  13. If getting bullied in high school inspired you to one day be financially independent, you really *are* wired differently!

  14. I think you’ve just helped me learn something very important about myself. I feel like life’s been pretty perfect for a while now, but I’ve been coasting, everything has felt pretty easy, and I haven’t been forced to work too hard. Something has been bothering me in the background though, and I’ve been telling myself it’s that I want to work even less hard, and once I reach FI, everything will be great!

    But I’m pretty sure now it’s the opposite – I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything to prove to anyone. I’m well respected at work, so don’t have to go over and above, I’ve reached a proficient level relative to my friends in various sports and activities, and I’m not struggling to pay the bills. I started a blog over 6 months ago, but haven’t felt a need to work hard to do something great with it. This seems to be a common theme, and I think it’s directly related to what you’ve just explained. Everyone’s just too damn nice to me!

    Perhaps I need to go buy a huge fancy house and take out a massive mortgage so I’m forced to work much harder and achieve something special?

    1. Funny you should mention property. I was feeling pretty uninspired at one point at age 35. I was working hard, saving my money, and all that good stuff but was wondering what else is there.

      Then I decided to buy a property in SF, and I suddenly felt a lot more motivated and purposeful at work to do well. Having this baby to feed really put a fire under me to not screw up or else if be left with a lot of debt and stress.

      One great saying is, “If you’re cruising, you’re going downhill.”

      How old are you?

      1. I’m 33, and have been working with a professional services firm for nearly 10 years (can’t wait for that long-service leave to kick in shortly!).

        There’s a pretty good path in front of me to keep progressing up the chain, and I’m in a great team with great people, but finding it a little hard to get excited and motivated about. Good saying about going downhill – that’s probably right, even if I feel more like I’m just ‘treading water’ at the moment.

        Funny, I actually remember now being at a meeting with a partner of my firm and a client, and they got to talking about focus. My partner mentioned the typical comment you get from your peers when you finally achieve partnership – “Welcome to partnership – we recommend you go and take out the biggest mortgage you can handle. Nothing like that pressure to really focus the mind.”

        At the time it made me cringe that people would choose to live this way, but I can kind of see the point now – especially if it’s something you’re prepared to dedicate yourself to.

  15. There will always be haters and I think it’s awesome you’ve risen above and proven them all wrong. We certainly have doubters/haters of our FIRE plans, which I’ve come to terms with. I understand that this path is, well, weird. It also seems to engender jealously and even anger, which I still don’t totally comprehend. It’s like, all those years that you (hater) have been eating out, traveling, buying new stuff, and paying people to do everything for you? Yeah, we’ve been eating at home and mending our thrift store clothes :).

  16. I think proving people wrong is one of the biggest motivations, showing people that you can make it and overcome doubters is one of the greatest feelings in the world. A lot of doubt depends on if you believe you need to accomplish more, if it’s becoming a millionaire or retiring early it depends on you.

    1. I STRONGLY believe that self-confidence plays a massive role in achieving whatever it is you want to do. Eventually, we’ll get there, and we might become complacent. That’s a dangerous spot to be in, imo. But, happiness is s/he who is content!

  17. Sam, you have been on a tear recently! Loving your work, and I really like this article and I’m sure others will too. Everyone has experienced some type of naysayer in their life, and it is always comes down to what you think and know you can do!

    As for finding motivation, remember that there will always be haters and someone has to prove them wrong. We can’t let the haters take over the world so we have to fight every day to reach the summit!

    1. Thanks. I’m just wondering where they all went. If one has been reading this site this year, all the comments seem to be so mature, calm, thoughtful, and respectful

      I’m wondering if this is it….. or there’s some different level to attain to bring them back. One thing I WILL do is try my hand at an occasional podcast to bring in a new crowd.

  18. Congratulations on all your successes and wish for continued success. One question though. If you like conflict, why just walk away from the offensive linemen incident so easily? Why not report them to the restaurant manager and call the police at least?

    1. I was 20 years old then, and my girlfriend at the time just encouraged us to leave. We had finished eating our waffles. I certainly wanted to retaliate to defend our honor, but I was also thinking about the potential negative repercussions wrt finding a job, expulsion, etc if things got too far.

      But 17 years later, it would be nice to know what these guys are up to and ask if they still have a lot of hate. Let me look them up now: 1997 W&M football offensive linemen.

        1. Very interesting feedback Rob! Folks definitely have some predetermined imagery of what people look like. It’s how we process info more quickly. I think you’ll be surprised again if you dig deeper or wait a year.


  19. “saving 50%-75% takes discipline”

    Yup, no matter what you earn. People near you will be earning somewhere in the neighborhood of what you earn, and not spending as much as your friends and work friends is hard. Peer pressure is incredible.

  20. When one puts themselves out there, there are always bound to be haters. One can either fold under the pressure of the hate or push through and prove them wrong. Some people see it as motivation while others can’t take the heat. I always remind myself to take any negativity as a sign I’m heading in the right direction.

  21. Wow air keyboard guy sounds like a real clown. For whatever reason it’s almost human nature to enjoy seeing others crash and burn rather than raising yourself up. I haven’t had too many naysayers at the level of air keyboard guy, but when I tell people that I have a PF blog and they just reply “that’s nice”, I want to slap them upside the head and tell them “it’s not nice it’s awesome! Maybe if you read it you would stop buying margaritas after work every day and start contributing to your 401k!”

  22. There are naysayers all around us, but you have to ignore them. As soon as you realize, it is your success that they fear. Everyone fears change! I concentrate on the future vs. dwelling on mistakes.

  23. First, unless you think you were top 10 material, you should thank your girlfriend for helping you not try harder. I knew a top 100 guy from grad school – he was there because the only way to make money as a top 100 man was to be paid by top 10 women as a playing partner. Another friend of mine who played at college said it was fun, but he had no chance to play pro and his knees at 50 are both blown and he needs multiple surgeries, has permanent pain, etc. Not worth it.

    Second. It is a lot easier to save when you make more-obviously. It’s still an accomplishment but more important. Who cares? It’s also harder to lose weight just dieting than diet and exercise. So what?

    1. True. One of my acquaintances got to around 100 in the world, and he made around $140,000 that year. But his expenses were $85,000, and he couldn’t maintain the level so he retired from tennis at 26 to get a day job.

      I do feel my left knee often now due to the meniscus tear. It certainly would be much stronger if I spent 1,000 less hours on the court.

  24. Congrats on your continued success Sam and a tip of the hat for having the cajones to jump into entrepreneurial land and run with your blog.

    I’m curious, after all the work you’ve put into your blog, has it been worth it? I debate with myself often, about starting a blog as my side hustle into retirement, much like you did. Thoughts?

    1. Thanks Chris.

      The efforts online, in addition to Financial Samurai have been absolutely worth it. I cannot believe how lucky I am not to have to go into an office five days a week. Every day, I find myself giving thanks. I don’t want to ever take the opportunity for granted, so I will do my best to make the most of it. Eventually, things will fade away as they always do.

      I really like to write. Getting thoughts out is almost like a pressure release valve. Writing reduces stress and it’s fun to connect with folks from around the world.

      If I have to think back to doing it all over again, I might have some second thoughts because it takes forever to write, edit, respond to comments, find relevant pictures, network, etc. But, I think I regret actually not starting earlier, when my father encouraged me to write online in 2004.

      1. Thanks for writing your blog. The care that you put into selecting and writing your posts really shows and it is my favorite personal finance blog.

        I think you’ll always have something to prove, if only to yourself. My skating coaching used to tell me that you can either get better or worse, but you can never stay the same. I think in life you just keep having to find new ways to challenge and push yourself. It’s the journey that matters!

        1. Thanks BH. That’s cool you are a skater. Don’t get too many of y’all around. Do you still get to skate around? I remember hotdogging as an elementary school kid on skates, slipping, and spraining my elbow bad!

  25. You said it right, “When you’re young, you think everything will last forever.” I try not to live with regrets but yeah I wish I made more use of my free time in my 20s. I had so much more energy then! Getting older and having more responsibility is constantly pushing me. Time is more and more precious each day we move forward.

  26. “All men are equal when their memories fade” – Lemmy Kilmister

    FS, you have already proved a lot, with much more to come. Your feelings of frustration are very human and natural, and it is great that you used them to focus on a positive outcome. I have a great deal of empathy regarding your experience with tennis. I was captain, and #1 singles and #1 doubles player for a Div I university for four years, and now haven’t played in 25 years. Thousands of hours playing, twice that thinking/traveling/training, and in the end the only thing lasting is a few friendships. And in my experience, personal relationships are even more difficult to master than the topspin backhand.:-) Trying to prove anything to those who doubt or oppose you (4 football players jockeying for alpha status, a former colleague intent on showing his disrespect for you by mocking your extracurricular effort) won’t succeed in converting their opinion. And as years go by, those memories fade a lot faster than the ones you value. Just my two cents…

    1. Wow! Very impressive about your D 1 playing experience! I have much respect for anybody who can get to that level and compete. It is truly a rare accomplishment. I would like to try and beat up on you if we meet, if you don’t mind. Friendly match best out of 5 sets! :)

      I’m actually not frustrated. I’m just wondering what happened to all the naysayers, haters, doubters, complainers, etc. When I first started, perhaps every other comment was negative in some way. Now, it’s like let’s all hold hands and sing cumbaya!

      Maybe I’ll write about some spicier topics over the next several months. I miss dissension.

      1. A thought on those two examples. You have mentioned that racist/bullying incident at Dennys, and it sounds like you know who those players were; if so, it might be a very cathartic experience to contact them (LinkedIn, alumni association, there are many ways to find their e’s) and tell them about the incident at Denny’s. What it did to you, why it was wrong, and if appropriate, what success your girlfriend also had. You can send them the link to this post, if privacy is not an issue with them, or just cut-and-paste the story. As for the passive-aggressive air-keyboard guy, you can passive-passive-aggressively have a friendly former-colleague make a point to pass along the success you are having with your PF blog and how you are enjoying retirement in your 30’s and just bought an ocean-view house. Hahahaahaa!! You know what? Forget that high-minded pap I wrote above, go ahead enjoy dropping this on their heads!:-)

        1. You know, I just Googled the 1996-1997 W&M football team roster, and of course, it only shows up to 2002-2003! So I left someone in the AD department a v-mail, and hopefully she can ring me back with the details. I don’t know who they were exactly given there are more than four linemen. Maybe they were defensive linemen too, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll just e-mail them all.

          I’m writing this on my dining table now, looking at the ocean. I can’t believe it.

  27. “Guess you should have joined me in air keyboard class.” Too funny, Sam.

    I guess I’m set to prove I can turn my ship around. My motivation is to help others and get to financial independence ASAP, then I can give back even more. I’ve learned how valuable time is and that’s my prime motivation for wanting to live in the moment.

    1. Air keyboard artists of the world, UNITE!

      You’ve got a good story deb, and a lot of motivation to change and help others in similar problems.

      And yes, the more we are able to right ourselves, the better we’re able to help others!

  28. I think you one of the financial personalities I’m most in line with, except I don’t feel happiness dwindles after you make a certain amount of money.

    I challenge you to make one million a year and see if our happiness decreases with your current work and living situation. :)

      1. Will do, I don’t know if you will get happier, because you seem to be in a pretty good place right now. I mean in reference to some studies and ideas that more money makes people less happy. I think that comes from more stress from the job and not from the money. If you can make money doing what you love without answering to anyone else that is a great thing.

    1. Mark, I cannot say that happiness dwindles when you make over $1M, life gets a little easier, but happiness really has to come from within I believe. Having made north of 7 figures for many years in a row now I can speak with some level of knowledge on this subject. Most of the people who read this blog are pretty conservative such as myself & don’t inflate their lifestyle along with their income. So yes your bank account gets bigger each year, and you don’t sweat the small stuff when you need new tires or the A/C unit needs fixed, and that does make life less stressful which equates to happiness I suppose, but stuff does not make me happy (& I have a lot of stuff). My belief is that successful people like yourself get more happiness out of closing a big deal as a way to keep score…the money is the by-product and will always be there for people who know how to hustle. My maximum happiness as I look back came when I was building my business and was trying to prove I could do it, not when you get there…once you are there then there is the pressure to keep it going.

      1. I completely agree! Although once you build a business I don’t know if there is pressure to keep going bigger or better or if that is part of the game. Like you said it is ourselves who put the pressure on. I want to keep building and growing, but I also make sure I am not stressing myself out in the process or sacrificing time with my family. Part of the game is keeping myself focused on whats really important, not just the stuff or the money although that is nice as well. One of the most fun games now is writing a blog and seeing what I can do to improve on the traffic and monetizing. It is not easy that is for sure.

  29. I do hope you are planning to share how you give back. For one, I’m curious. I’ve been looking at ways to use my blog for good. If I’m profiting off it (barely), I’d like others to, as well. Second, I think you are a trendsetter (hello, Yakezie) and will inspire others to do the same.

    1. I think spending our time writing posts to entertain, educate, and help others is a good form of giving back. Then of course there’s donation of money, and highlighting important issues that folks should be aware of.

      The Yakezie Scholarship took an enormous effort to help students pay for college education.

      Check out a couple posts by the contestants:



      The problem is that I couldn’t get everybody to consistently donate their time and money every contest, even though 100% of the proceeds were given to the top 3 selection. I also ran into technical difficulties.

      I’ll keep trying. I need to simplify the process.

  30. Maybe you should be worrying about what will happen in a few years and use this motivation you have now.

    They say that at 20, you worry about what everybody thinks of you, at 40 you stop caring, and at 60 you realize that people have stopped noticing you at all. Having turned 40 last year, I can agree with 2/3 of this.

    -Mike H

    1. Very interesting saying Mike! Isn’t life over after 40 anyway? Just kidding.

      I’ll think about what you’ve said. Is it an ego think? Like our need to leave a legacy? If so, I hear whatever is written on the internet stays forever, until Arcnet takes over the world.

  31. Mr. FS – I’m new to the whole “extreme saving” world, so when you talk about saving 50-75%, do you mean after taxes? Like you, my wife and I are in the highest tax bracket, so the income tax cut is roughly one-third. We live on another one-third and save the remaining third. After taxes, though, we are saving half of what we take home. I think that qualifies as “extreme” (my wife seems to think so, judging by comments tat we could probably afford to spend a little more of our money).

    1. Most saving %s usually refer to after-tax savings as these are the figures required for calculating sustainable withdrawl through the 4% rule.

      Surely you are saving in pre-tax retirement accounts as well?

      1. Yes, my wife maxes out her pre-tax 401K. I contribute to a Roth and get profit sharing contribution to pre-tax account from my firm. We also contribute to 529s for our kids.

        Over the past few years, our combined saving rate in all accounts (pre- and post-tax) has grown from 25% to 50% of our total after tax income. It took us a while to get there. My income grew slowly over the past few years and we bought a (too) big house a few years ago. On the other hand, the house has held its value, we have plenty of equity and are building equity fast because of accelerated payoff of our loans. We’ll downsize in a few years when the kids go to college. The savings from that move alone would fund a big chunk of their college.

        I’ve learned a lot from your site, Mr. Money Mustache and Your Money or Your Life. My perspective on money, work, career, life has totally changed. Before I worried about “getting ahead,” but couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t want a fancier car, a bigger house or any of those things. But that’s way the lemmings run when you’re a two professional couple. More! More! More!

        Now I’m content with what we have, give a lot more to charity, spend more time teaching my kids about living frugally than pressuring them to choose a high paying career and worry a lot less.

        All of my partners have big houses, leased European sedans and country club membership – and they all plan on working until they die. My wife and I will be completely and totally financially independent in 2024 (knock on wood…) and are already looking forward to a life of leisure.

        Thanks for the good info on your site.

          1. I think both the Roth and the regular 401k/IRA have their issues. For me, the Roth was a way to provide flexibility. We are likely to be in a high tax bracket when we retire due to our savings and my wife’s pension. I also tend to think that US income tax rates will only go up, so even though we are in the highest bracket now, I see nothing but increasing rates applying to us throughout our lives. The government’s relentless hunger for my money will only get worse. The Roth will allow us to make withdrawals without bumping over another marginal bracket.

            They could change the rules for the Roth, just like they could change the rules for regular 401k or social security. Or the liberals could nationalize all 401ks/IRAs like they want to do. Short of burying my money in the basement, I can’t plan for societal upheaval like that.

            The more I have learned about it, the more I probably agree with your position. Luckily, we are in a position to max out our regular 401k, including catch-up contributions.

      1. When calculating % savings How do people account for items like:

        -company match on 401k (include in savings and/or gross income?)
        -vesting options (include in savings and gross income @ time of vesting?)
        -ESPP when purchased in a block with discount but pay in monthly and some vests the next year?
        -gifts/inheritance (e.g. financial help from parents)?
        -income from dividends/capital gains?

        1. I total all of our savings, including employer contributions, and figure it as a total of all income (including employer contributions) and all income after taxes. By the first measure we save 33% of our pre-tax income and about 50% of our after-tax income.

          Live on a third, pay a third in taxes and save the other third. As soon as we got this worked out, we realized that the talk about having to replace 80% of our pre-retirement income was BS. Once the kids are out of the house and we downsize, we can get by on 25% of our current income, or less.

  32. As dumb as this sounds, I call these sorts of challenges by other people my “Legally Blonde” moments and have used them to fuel me for years.

    I also just sign up for things that are hard, knowing that doing so will greatly increase the chances that I’ll see them through.

    I’m more suspicious of the moments in life that I’m not challenged, when things are going too well, because then I start to get complacent.

    1. When things are going too well, it gets a little nerve wracking indeed. “When are the good times going to end,” is something I think about often when things are good.

      And then something bad happens, and it’s like, “Yep, there it is.”

  33. I receive doubt everyday; from friends, family, colleagues and my partner. One mention of wanting to stop working before I hit state retirement age seems to kick them all off with their views and calculations about the impossibility. Turning down an expensive dinner trip or lunchtime beers has them mocking my ‘cheapness’.

    Like you: I use these for mini motivational gains. Everyone who says it is another I can happily prove wrong.

    However on the other hand.. I would gain far more enjoyment if at least a couple of them could understand my journey and perhaps decide to follow the same path themselves. Maybe thats why you have so few doubters now? You’re just too damn convincing! ;)

    1. Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com

      That’s a big difference between people like us who want to improve and those who give up when kicked. Take every set back as motivation.


    2. One of your biggest joys will be when you finally pull the rip chord and retire early to do whatever you want due to your detractors. It’s joyous enough never having to work at a job you don’t want to anymore. But proving your doubters wrong is an incredible high, at least for me!

      Perhaps you don’t need your friends and family’s support as much because there’s a whole financial freedom community online.

      BTW, I’ve got one or two more rabbits in the hat that I’ll save for next year. Should be fun to share.

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