Why I Failed At Early Retirement: A Love Story

In 2020, I failed at early retirement and I want to share why.

One of the things I enjoy about the Financial Samurai community is that you guys keep it real. After announcing that I plan to be more entrepreneurial and less focused on retirement a couple years ago, you guys gave an outpouring of support and encouragement. This means a lot.

When I was trying to survive the investment banking meat grinder in my 20s, I always saved in a special folder personal thank you e-mails I got from colleagues or clients. Their words of encouragement were more valuable than money.

On the flip side, one of the realities of keeping things real is that I've also got to face hard truths. And one of the hard truths given to me by some regular readers and many casual observers is that I'm an early retirement failure.

Facing The Truth: Why I Failed At Early Retirement

As an example, here is a comment from Dan on my post, Less Retirement, More Entrepreneurship:

Thinking about it some more, isn’t your situation a case of early retirement failure? You thought you had enough money for early retirement. After having a child, you reassessed your situation and decided you needed more money. One of the criticisms of FIRE is “It all changes when you have kids” which seems to describe your situation.

Your whole brand is “be amazed by the guy who retired early to live in SF, have a family & coach high school tennis.” Now, you are going to monetize your blog.

You're going to be more entrepreneurial which sounds a lot like going back to work. Not necessarily the corporate grind but your focus on hard dollar goals sounds like you don’t think you have enough money, which de facto means your initial early retirement planning was insufficient to cover the range of outcomes.

Facing The Truth I'm An Early Retirement Failure

Dan is absolutely right. After eight years of early retirement (2012-2019), I admit I couldn't hack it anymore. I'm constantly looking 3-5 years ahead in the future. If our current financial situation stays static, I foresee problems ahead, especially if there is an economic downturn.

I am now forcing myself to alter how I spend my roughly 20 hours a week on Financial Samurai from 90% fun to 50% fun, 50% business. For the next six months of my new beginning, I'm also going to increase the time spent on Financial Samurai by ~10 hours a week to focus on business. Depending on how I do, I'll then look for a job by mid-2020.

Why I Failed At Early Retirement

1) I underestimated my desire for social interaction.

Why I Failed At Early Retirement: A Love Story

I am an extrovert and early retirement is harder for extroverts because we gain energy from other people. Further, I had one of the most stimulating jobs on the market.

Every day I got to utilize my finance and economics background to analyze global stock markets. I'd meet amazing entrepreneurs from Asia to help them raise capital in America. About once a quarter, I would travel to Asia for a conference or take clients on trips to see investable companies. There was always something new happening every day. My job was exciting!

When you go from working ~60 hours a week for 13 consecutive years to having all the free time in the world, it is very jolting. It took me a couple years to get used to my newfound freedom because I had doubts about whether I had made the right decision.

In 2014, I found a partial solution to my missing social interaction by consulting for 10 – 20 hours a week at a couple financial technology startups. Living in San Francisco, I had always wanted to experience startup and tech life. But after a couple years of off and on again consulting, my interest waned, so I stopped.

Through tennis and softball, I was able to fulfill consistently my need for social interaction. However, the more I played, the more injured I became. Therefore, playing sports every other day was not the solution. For me to be happy, my body needs to be healthy.

Related: It's Impossible To Stay Retired Once You Retire Early

2) I underestimated how low interest rates would go.

Although I've been a firm believer of “low interest rates for life” ever since I started Financial Samurai in 2009, I did not expect the 10-year bond yield to drop to 1.5% in the Fall of 2019. I thought we'd stay around 2.5%.

The lower interest rates go, the harder it is for retirees to generate low-risk retirement income. Everything from municipal bond yields to stock dividend yields have come under pressure because, in finance, everything is intertwined.

For example, instead of only needing $1,000,000 in additional capital to generate $50,000 at 5%, one now has to accumulate $2,500,000 in capital at 2% to generate $50,000. Seeing such a massive shift in the goalpost when you don't want to take more investment risk is disconcerting.

How declining interest rates hurt retirees

The more interest rates fall, the more retirees fall behind. By nature, retirees are more risk-averse. Therefore, retirees may be forced to alter their asset allocation to ensure they are not left too far behind due to inflation.

The only way retirees can really benefit from lower interest rates is if they have debt. My refinance is saving me roughly $13,000 a year in cash flow, but it doesn't come close to offsetting the decline in investment income thanks to lower interest rates.

I used to think $250,000 a year was enough to live a middle-class lifestyle with a family in San Francisco. Instead, the data now says $309,400 is the minimum household income a year. The scary thing is, the income requirement figure was $343,000 in Q22019. The rising cost of living is a big reason why I failed at early retirement.

3) I underestimated how much I could love a child.

Before becoming a parent, I only had a two-dimensional idea of what love was. I loved my parents and sister in one way and I loved my wife in another way. Then when my son was born, a new type of unconditional love was created. He made me want to do everything to take care of him.

I understand now why couples who are financially struggling decide to have multiple children. It's clear now why parents pay an exorbitant amount of money for private school when everything can be learned for free online or at public school. I also understand why already wealthy parents feel the need to bribe their kid's way into university.

It is in our DNA to provide for our children. Otherwise, our species would not survive. Once you have kids, you will want to work a little bit harder and try to live a healthier lifestyle.

Due to these reasons, I've decided to hold onto Financial Samurai for at least another decade. Online business valuations should skyrocket given they cannot be shut down!

4) Taxes went down and the estate exemption amounts went up.

When I left the workforce in 2012, it felt great because a $250,000 base salary faced a demoralizing 33% federal marginal income tax rate and the estate tax exemption was $5,120,000 per person. I was tired and no longer wanted to give a third of my salary to the federal government and another 8% to the state of California.

In 2020, a $250,000 base salary now only faces a 24% federal marginal income tax rate. Meanwhile the estate tax exemption amount has doubled to $11,580,000 per person.

It feels like we have a limited window to earn as much as possible before tax rates go up and estate tax exemption amounts go down.

Historical Estate Tax Exemption Amounts 2020

5) Being an early retiree doesn’t feel right.

After the first year of early retirement, I no longer told anybody I was an early retiree because I felt stupid saying so. It was embarrassing to be only 34 years old and not have a full-time job in one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

If I had moved to a small beach town in Kauai, I think I'd have been more comfortable telling anybody who asked that I was retired. But not here in San Francisco. San Francisco is a place where the most motivated, type-A people from the most overpriced private universities come to make their fortunes. The city has become very much like New York City, full of hustle and bustle.

When all your friends are killing themselves at work trying to make more money to afford a bigger house, tuition for multiple kids in private school, and the next promotion to proudly update on their LinkedIn profile, it feels extremely out of place to say you don’t have a job.

Therefore, I started telling folks who asked that I was a writer, a high school tennis coach, a consultant, or an entrepreneur. And you know what? It felt great having an occupational identity again. I failed at early retirement, but I found more purpose.

6) I overestimated my ability to move to a lower-cost area.

For someone who lived in six countries by the time he was 14 and has traveled to over 60 countries so far, I've been terrible at relocating. My wife enjoys stability too.

I've been seriously thinking about moving since 2012 when I first left my job. That year, I even tried to sell my primary residence. Thank goodness nobody wanted to buy it then.

In 2014, I thought I was ready to move to Hawaii with my wife. We created a detailed retirement income/budget spreadsheet where we'd live a comfortable life off of roughly $100,000 gross a year. Instead of making the move since we both didn't have jobs, we decided to make Hawaii come to us.

I found a fixer-upper with panoramic ocean views in an unknown neighborhood. The house was such a no brainer deal that I had to buy it. All other properties in major cities with ocean views trade at hefty premiums, not at a discount like they were and still are in San Francisco.

It took about two years to completely remodel the house to our liking. There was no way we were going to then leave after all that effort spent. We needed to enjoy the fruits of our labor gosh darn it!

Then in 2017, our son was born. It was as if he waited until the house was ready before coming into the world. We did not feel comfortable relocating to a new ecosystem as new first-time parents since we had grown accustomed to our doctors.

Dreams Of Retiring Hawaii – Why I Failed At early Retirement

What I did shoot for was relocating to Hawaii by 2020 if we got rejected to preschool. As we only applied to three for the 2019 year, I was secretly hoping we'd get rejected by all. This way I would have no more excuses left to stay. Alas, we got accepted to our neighborhood preschool five minutes away.

Why I Failed Early Retirement

Staying in expensive San Francisco was the path of least resistance. We had our friends, our routines, and our network. Pulling my son from preschool after just getting acclimated and then going through the entire application process again in a new city with no guarantees didn't feel like a wise use of time. Instead, figuring out a way to make more money does.

I failed at early retirement because I was too lazy to move.

Related: The Proper Geoarbitrage Strategy: First Your City, Then Your Country, Then The World

7) I have plenty more time.

I like to be productive. If I’m not doing something productive after a day I get antsy. For 32 months, I was a stay-at-home dad and writer. The days often went from 5 am – 11 pm. It was a tough slog, but I now feel like I can tackle anything in the world.

Now that my boy is in preschool, I suddenly have ~8 hours a day of free time. He takes a nap at school from 1 pm – 3 pm as well. The first month of preschool felt like I was on vacation again. But after a couple months of living the early retirement lifestyle again, I decided I had better start utilizing my time more productively.

With preschool costing $1,950 a month plus donations and our family healthcare premiums going up to $1,940 a month in 2020, the logical thing to do with my free time is to earn more money to cover these expenses.

Finding a job that provides subsidized healthcare and a healthy paycheck is the simplest solution. Figuring out a way to generate an additional revenue on Financial Samurai is another solution. Why not do both.

The funny thing is, as of August 2021, so much of my time went away due to the coronavirus pandemic. My boy hasn't been in preschool for 16 months now. But he's finally going back August 25, 2021.

Fingers crossed all is safe given the rise of the delta variant.

8) I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Even before coming to San Francisco in 2001, I've wanted to be an entrepreneur. The dream started in middle school in Kuala Lumpur where I was in awe of businessmen who lived in mansions. They all had chauffeurs drive their Mercedes 280 SELs.

I didn't pursue my entrepreneurial dream because I landed a good job out of college. It was hard to say no to a healthy salary. When I finally did in 2012, I didn't optimize Financial Samurai for revenue because I thought I had enough passive income and a severance package to live a comfortable life. All I really wanted to do was have fun and write freely.

The problem with being too comfortable is that it demotivates you to hustle. When your investments are going up every year, why bother trying so hard?

I was just handed an easy life living in America. I also got completely lucky by retiring at the bottom of the market in 2009. I'm the 42-year-old loser, metaphorically still living in his mom's basement, not paying rent and eating free meatloaf all day.

By not facing much hardship after early retirement, I squandered away my potential to become a successful entrepreneur. I don't plan to let opportunity pass me by anymore in 2020+.

Related: Spoiled And Clueless? Try Working A Minimum Wage Job As An Adult

9) Don't like to complain.

I believe everything is rational. If we want something we're going to do things to make that something happen. Even though I failed at early retirement, I kept on going.

Instead of complaining about my career stalling out in 2011, I immediately devised a way to escape in 2012. The best way to see if you deserve what you think you deserve is to go out on your own. This way, you've got nobody to blame or credit but yourself.

Instead of complaining why I still haven’t gotten bumped down from 5.0 to 4.5 in my early 40s, I've continued to suck it up and battle against 25-year-old ex-Division I tennis players. As a result, over the past four years, I've compiled a terrible losing record that would make anybody want to quit tennis. But I fight on because half the battle is just showing up.

Instead of complaining that the retirement income goalpost has moved $60,000 – $100,000 farther away to live a middle-class life in San Francisco, I've decided to face the reality that my retirement income simply won't be enough in the near future. I will now work hard and find new ways to reach this new retirement income goal instead of making excuses.

10) I want to be able to continue giving my time and money.

If I was struggling for money, I probably would have quit Financial Samurai long ago because writing can take forever and everything I write is free. During this time, I've had the privilege and satisfaction of seeing so many readers fortify their finances and live better lives.

I've heard from college students who have bought homes and are now starting families because they have their finances in order.

I've heard from folks in their 50s who got the courage to negotiate an exit package and live life on their own terms.

Having financial independence also makes it much easier to give money. You're not always conflicted about whether to give or save for retirement. You're also able to more easily give your time. The reason is because you're not always wondering whether you should use the time to hustle.

Finally, I want to have the financial means to take care of my parents and my in-laws. They are all in their 70s. I've seen them clearly slow down over the past 10 years. Long-term care can easily cost $250,000 per parent over two or three years.

11) I feel bad taking advantage of subsidized healthcare.

One of the strategies some early retirees exercise is receiving healthcare subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. Despite having a million or more dollars in assets, these early retirees feel no shame in receiving subsidized healthcare.

Call me stubborn, but I just can't get myself to rejigger my retirement portfolio to lower our income and game the system. I don't think the ACA was set up to subsidize early retirees with a healthy amount of assets. The ACA was set up to help those deep in the grind, struggling to one day be free.

Federal Poverty Levels - And why I failed at early retirement
You can get healthcare subsidies if you make up to 400% of FPL

12) I lack sufficient intellect and pedigree.

Another reason why I failed at early retirement is due to a lack of pedigree. The fact that after trying so hard for so many years that I can't stay retired shows that I'm not smart enough or wise enough to account for all the important variables.

But I've known about my intellectual deficiency since I was a boy.

No matter how hard I tried, I could never get straight As, not even for just one quarter. I also got a very mediocre SAT score despite spending hours pouring through SAT study guides. I remember always being one of the last students to finish an exam.

After graduating from State U and getting a job, I was condemned to the chopping block after just two years mainly due to poor performance. In contrast, my Canadian classmate ended up becoming an MD at 32. It was only through luck that I was able to escape New York City and come to San Francisco with a new job.

In 2007, I foolishly bought a vacation property in Lake Tahoe. I thought I was getting a good deal at 12% off the seller's purchase price a year prior. The real estate market proceeded to implode and I lost another ~40%. At least I never shirked on my debt.

Startup Rejection Letters – Why I Failed At Early Retirement

In 2012, before and after I left my day job, I applied to over 100 startup and tech jobs online in order to make sure there were no undiscovered opportunities. I was either rejected or didn't hear back from all of them.

Tech job rejection letters
One of three Airbnb rejection e-mails in 2012. I've kept them as a reminder to never surrender

Since 2009, I've written three articles a week without fail. You'd think with so much practice, my grammar would improve. Yet, my writing Mastery score is a dismal 26% according to my Ukranian friends at Grammarly.

In 2013, I applied to the Knight Fellowship program because I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to learn, network, and contribute to online media. Having a non-traditional background working in finance while owning a growing personal finance site would have added unique perspective to the classroom. Nope, I got rejected.

In 2015, I applied to a couple incubator programs. I wanted to see if I could leverage Financial Samurai to create a fintech company. After all, the platform was built, growing, and profitable. Both programs were within driving distance from my home as well. I got rejected by both as well.

Today, I fail to realize how angry I've made some people during the chronicling of my financial independence journey. Although I believe my reality is just as real as someone else's reality, because the cost of living is so high in the two cities I've spent my entire post-college life, it turns off a lot of people.

Thankfully, I have the wisdom to recognize my intellectual deficiency. As a result, I'm going to make changes going forward. I must keep going because I have no safety net.

Related: Perpetual Failure: The Reason Why I Continue To Save So Much

13) I love a challenge.

Progress is my one-word definition of happiness. As soon as I stop making progress in any type of activity, my enthusiasm wanes.

Since 2012, I've had the most fun trying to grow my then ~$80,000 in gross passive income. My initial goal was to grow the figure to $100,000 within a couple years. Once that goal was achieved, I started raising my gross passive income goal by $50,000 every two years. The goal was to keep challenging myself.

Therefore, going from $250,000 to $300,000+ is just a natural progression I've been giving myself for years. It's just like inflation, the stock market, the real estate market, or anything else that tends to go up over time. But I can understand how first-time FS readers would see this financial goal as a shock.

I know we can comfortably live off $250,000 a year in gross passive income. My family of three had been comfortably living off less than $180,000 a year in gross passive income for the past three years.

Why I failed at early retirement - inflation

But only a fool would expect expenses to stay the same given life is so unpredictable. Although I'm intellectually deficient, I ain't no fool! To be happy, you must constantly forecast your misery. Therefore, I carry on. Inflation is now at 7% in 2022, which means I need more passive income.

This leads me to my final point on why I can no longer stay retired.

14) We had baby!

The biggest reason why I failed at early retirement is because we had another baby. It was the biggest unexpected benefits!

One fine morning in December at 7:40 am, my wife and I were blessed with a healthy baby girl. We checked into the hospital at 11:30 pm the night before and we couldn't have had a smoother delivery. My wife's OBGYN started her shift at 11 pm and finished her shift with us.

With new life comes new responsibility. As the sole income provider, the pressure in on. I need to make sure we have a comfortable enough home. I'd like for us to drive a safe enough car. We'd also like childcare and household help to maintain our sanity. Finally, it's important to have enough funds to pay for her education.

Further, I'm probably a mediocre stay at home dad. Goodness knows I've tried my best since April 2017 to be a full-time caretaker. I’ve read all the books and have spent endless hours trying to nurture my son. But sometimes, it's important to recognize when your best is simply not good enough.

Quality Time Now

So many working fathers have told me that it is the quality of time, not the amount of time that makes them great fathers. If what they say is true, I shouldn't feel bad spending 20 – 50 hours less a week with my children, or 1,000 – 2,600 less hours a year. But I do.

I've also spoken to over a hundred full-time mothers since early 2017. I don't recall a single one wishing their husbands or partners stayed at home more to help out with the kids. I saw mothers juggling two and sometimes three kids with relative ease. It was more like they were happy their partners were out there making some money! Maybe they're just not being completely forthright.

As a result of my conversations, I'm likely overestimating my value as a stay at home dad. When your beliefs are incongruent with reality, things must change.

All the same, I feel blessed. If you would have asked me five years ago whether we'd have a boy and a girl before the year 2020, I would have said no way. For our first, we tried for years before finally conceiving.

My family is why this article is a love story. Even though I failed at early retirement, I will not fail my family.

Baby girl in crib

Related: The Cost Of Fourth Trimester Childcare: $40,000 And Up

Failed At Early Retirement, Life Is Unpredictable

So there you have it folks. Early retirement was a nice 8-year run, but all good things must come to an end. There's simply too much to do and too much at stake not to go out there and make a living again.

The fact that I failed at early retirement isn't so bad. After all, life is one big adventure.

As I update this post in 2023, the other reason why I failed at early retirement is due to the global damn pandemic! With many fun things shut down, I was left with more time for my family and for Financial Samurai. As a result, I decided I would use the sheltering-in-place time to try and make more money online.

I now have a new goal that once once federal income tax rates go up under Joe Biden, I'm going re-retire again. I'm sick of the grind. Yes, it's good that I've accumulated a lot more capital during the pandemic. However, I'd rather live a better lifestyle.

Related post about why I failed at early retirement:

FIRE Confessionals: How A Bear Market Has Impacted The Financial Independence Early Retirement Community

If I Could Retire All Over Again, These Are The Things I'd Do Differently

Preparing To Take A Sabbatical (Starting July 1, 2021, I've decided to take a sabbatical until August 25, 2021)

The Best Time To Retire May Be Under Joe Biden (In 2022, I plan on re-retiring)

Early Retirement Update 2023

Although I failed at early retirement, I feel content. So much has transpired since my daughter was born in December 2019. I didn't expect a pandemic, nor did I expect stocks and real estate to do this well. As a result, a lot of the gains feels like gravy. Therefore, I plan to do my best to protect the capital as much as possible.

I even came up with a early retirement master plan to re-retire by 45. I'm pleased to say, the plan has come true! I'll be publishing a new post in the future.

We bought a larger forever home in 2020. It inexplicably came to market a month after lockdowns. I wrote 350+ more posts on Financial Samurai. My son started language immersion preschool and may daughter is an absolute joy! She is climbing, communicating, and having lots of fun.

Professionally, I finally finished my book with Portfolio Penguin Random House! It is entitled, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. The book took two years to write while my kiddos were sleeping. It became an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller!

Although I'm tired, I feel very fulfilled and satisfied. I will look back on this pandemic period with positivity. Doing creative work and providing for my family is what it's all about. Failing at early retirement was a good thing. But now, I'm more than ready to take things easier and enjoy life more!

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216 thoughts on “Why I Failed At Early Retirement: A Love Story”

  1. Late to this post, but hoping you’ll still see this. For #2, why does it matter that interest rates are low (besides the obvious)? Rates are low when inflation is low, and rates are high when inflation is high, so its not obvious that you actually would want high interest rates if your nest egg is rapidly losing purchasing power. I feel like the last 15 or so years have been great economically as interest rates were at historical lows as has inflation. I’ll take that over 1970’s oil crisis with high interest rates and associated inflation. Thoughts?

  2. congratulations on the new baby girl! No wonder you need more money!! As Mom of 2, they seriously only get more expensive as they get older. Braces, Tutoring, traveling, food, etc! Good luck and best wishes!

  3. Just a question — I realize your net worth of 3 million when you retired probably wasn’t all liquid… but I think S&P 500 has roughly tripled since then… if you had half of the three million invested in market, that would be worth 4.5 now… and that invested would net you roughly 400,000 a year in appreciation today if invested in S&P… I imagine it didn’t work this way, but if it didn’t, is it because you invested your liquid assets too conservatively in 2012?

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question? Is your question why I didn’t make $400,000 a year since 2012?

      I was definitely more conservative in my asset allocation than the average person my age given I didn’t plan to go back to work. At the end of the day, I have only been able to generate about $260,000 a year in investment income, which I thought was enough.

      Folks are now are saying that I need $310,000 a year to live a little class lifestyle. So I accept the challenge!

      To give an example of my conservativeness, my net worth only increased about 18% in 2019 well the S&P 500 grew 31%.

      How have you done since 2012?

  4. Hi, really like your blog but I think you are really underestimating your financial needs. As your children gets older they will get a lot more expensive, bare minimum in SF and NYC is $1M per child. That’s for 1) space (increase mortgage), 2) private schooling, 3) university and 4) other expenses (my niece and nephew get about $5k worth of presents each for x-mas full of products “everyone else has” and that’s sometimes in a way to avoid bullying at school).

    What you have left over will not be enough for one person let alone 2 (you and your wife). With expected returns to trend down and inflation (especially for education/healthcare), you’ll need at least $10M in the bank in order to even consider retirement unless your wife works.

    Yes you can move to Hawaii but will that be best for you children’s future? Will they have the opportunities they would’ve had in a dynamic place like SF? Not sure.

    1. I agree. However, do you not believe that $310,000 or so in passive income a year is enough for a family of four to retire? If I can somehow accumulate another $1.5M or so in the next 3 years, I should be able to generate another $60k/year to get to $310K or so.

      What is your current household situation? Thx

      1. Salingernyc

        I’m a single person with no desire to have a family. I’m around the same age as you and have been working in finance my entire career. I’m considering early retirement myself and stumbled upon your blog.

        I’m very concerned about 1) market valuations and 2) global growth right now. I believe we are moving towards a bear market, timing unknown. Interest rates are low and I believe they will stay that way longer. I don’t know your assumptions to get to your passive income $ amount but I wouldn’t assume historical market performance is indicative of future.

        You are still young and intelligent – while you have the energy, I would earn as much money as possible to give your family the best future. Don’t let your pride get in the way (I read one of your other articles addressing this): working for a previous colleague as your boss or any feeling of possible failure. It’s normal/human but put it aside, your children are more important now.

        I don’t think anyone who may consider having children should ever retire early unless they have enough money in the bank to raise them. Having kids are extremely expensive period especially in areas like SF. Cost of raising them also grows every year materially above inflation and they still come home unemployed after college to live with you…

        Btw as a side note: If any of your kids ever develop any talents or hobbies, they are also a huge cost most don’t account for. My nephew plays ice hockey and it costs a fortune…

        But in the end you have to decide what is best for you and most importantly your family.

        1. Got it. I hope you find someone who cares for you. Life is much better when you have someone to share it with. There really is no point working so hard at making money and all that if it’s just for yourself.

          1. I think it’s sad when people rely on others to make them happy. You’ll find yourself very disappointed in life. You’re pouring all the effort into your children and one day if you’ve succeeded they will go far, and visits will be far and few. You seem very one sided about your options is my issue. I have no desire or plan on having children either. I’m on my way to retiring at 40. However, I do have a wonderful spouse that loves me. That’s enough. You seem like the type that forces his brain to believe in something because that’s the cards you’ve been dealt. You don’t need to have children or a significant other to drive you to make money. Some people are happy with the company of a partner, roommate or friends. I think you’ll be very disappointed in life if you don’t change your point of view. Make yourself happy first, and the rest will follow. Open your mind and you’ll be able to teach your children better values. What’s good for you may not be for someone else. If you don’t get out of that mind frame you have you’ll be continually let down. Good luck

            1. For sure. Although I can’t imagine my life without my children and they bring about the greatest happiness everyday, I think it’s great that you don’t want children. You’ve got to do you.

              But I will say that retiring at 34 has been wonderful, and it provided a permanent tick up in happiness. I think you’ll find the same when you retire by 40. Just make sure you retire to something.

              One of the things I want to be careful of is demonstrating too much happiness in my posts b/c I know a lot of my wealth and happiness is largely due to luck. This is not fair to others who have not been as lucky.

      2. Salingernyc

        When I say make as much money, I also believe life balance while achieving that is also key.

        Btw doing the math, you are using a 4% rate of return – is this what you are using for your total assets or just the incremental $1.5M? Also is this before tax or after tax $s?

        Hard to know your total financial situation, you are the best to judge what to do.

      3. I hear the conversation between you guys and similar to you and Salingernyc I worked in financial industry my whole life and want to share my thoughts. I used to live in San Francisco, a couple of blocks from where you are, Sam. In 2018, I struggled for 9 months before I decided to take a job offer to move to Texas. Although I am glad now that I made the decision (especially that I met my mentor here who knows you in person as well), it was a very hard decision back then. I couldnt make up my mind mainly because I am such an international person speaking 4.5 languages, and having lived in many cities Asia, Europe and US. I am an extravert like you and I enjoy interacting people who are driven, smart and well travelled, and I love outdoors like hiking and Skiing. I didn’t want to leave the Bay area mainly due the fear not being able to meet the type of people and not having the variety of things you can do. I finally made the step because I thought that would get me one step closer to earlier retirement, especially because I am like Salingernyc, I don’t have a kid yet. I had the idea and that idea led me to your blog which I appreciate a lot.
        My idea of retiring early was not retiring in the US though due to the unpredictable healthcare cost. Going back to Italy where I lived for many years is what I am thinking and honestly I can live anywhere in South America and maybe limited areas in Asia.. Can’t living in Europe or some other continents be a good solution for you and your family too? Most countries in Southern Europe are developed countries yet with low cost of living.You can have great food, culture, low-cost healthcare and university system that will save you a lot, all you need is to send kids back when it is time for Grad school. I grew up in Asian, and doing university and living in Europe before coming to the US is one of the best things ever. I had culture immersion in one of the most beautiful and culturely rich countries, and learned to look at things from different perspective, not to mention the life-time friendship cultivated

      4. I’m a little confused on what you consider as passive income. Until now I thought you were referring to the 260k you were making to be from your blog, rentals and such excluding investment returns. Is your passing income a combination of blog + rentals AND investment returns?

        fyi I’m 45 with 3mm and an aggressive portfolio and looking in the ballpark of 500k in annual investment returns. I have not other sources other than investment returns and my full time job.

        1. No. Passive income excludes investment returns and blog income.

          But I will have a post that discusses whether one should include investment returns, stock sales, and financial windfalls.

          You can see my latest passive income numbers in my about page. https://www.financialsamurai.com/about/

          My stock investor returns are also a similar level this year thank goodness. But they aren’t count as passive income.

  5. Anthony Tolbert

    Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl Sam!

    We are expecting our third child, first girl, any day now!

    One comment I may add, I spend 2 weeks out of town at work and 2 weeks home not working for my job, if you talked to my wife she would of went against the grain of women who don’t mention wanting their spouses home to help with the children. It is a topic that comes up quite often between my wife and I. I am very blessed to be able to spend half the year at home with my family giving them my undivided attention, but my wife would most definitely prefer it to be year around!

  6. Tom Birsinger

    Hi Sam,

    Wondering if you have considered moving back to Asia/ SE Asia. Probably less expensive, great quality of life, diverse, travel opportunities,great international schools, etc.

    I am an expat and lived in Asia for 20 years. Now with young children ( 7 and 5) my wife and I considered moving back to the US but in the end we felt like Asia was actually a better place to raise our children for the next few years.

    I guess this would surprise your readers.


  7. I am sorry you have to face such negative comments. Definitely having children changes things. I was very frugal before my children, didn’t fully merge accounts with my husband until they came along. Slowly he has changed from his spending attitudes and I have loosened the money bags, but only when it comes to my two kids. I did find that having them pushed me to ask for more money in my jobs where in the past I would’ve been more patient. Love your site, have been reading it since before my children were born. My oldest is now 7.

    1. Oh wow! Seven years is quite a long time. I am honored that you have been such a long time reader. Thank you.

      Getting negative comments and criticism comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. I’m really used to it, so no worries. I find a lot of criticism helpful and motivating to get better and be a better provider.

  8. Congratulations to you and your family! I just had a baby girl myself (our 4th child) and I’m so happy for you all. Kids really do change everything and while I am no longer “cool” like my childless peers who fly all over the world and post it on Facebook, I have more all-consuming love and purpose than I could have ever imagined.

    I love reading your blog even though we are not in the same financial big leagues despite living in the same general area. The fact that you earn way more than we probably ever will does not bother me and your blog feels so much more authentic and personable than some other famous FIRE brands. Please keep writing.

  9. Not a useful comment, but I want to say thank you for sharing as much as you have about your successes and failures. I believe you have shared most of this over the years, but it still takes courage to summarize it and throw it out there again. It reminds people that rejections are ok and that perserverence is the best tool for a successful life, however you define that.

    1. Very useful comment Viet! I always appreciate your type of support because it gives me a POWER UP to keep on going and try harder!

      Like right now, I’m delirious from doing the night shift taking care of my baby girl since 8 pm. It’s been 12 hours of diaper-changing, feeding, holding, swaddling every 1-2.5 hours. So your comment is very appreciative.

      Fight on!

  10. Congrats on your new daughter. I enjoy your blog and it’s content but I think you’re pretty clueless when it comes to risk management and real analysis. Blogging is about one thing and that thing is creating a narrative. Narratives are at best fanciful incomplete attempts at projecting reality, at worst they are incompetent and delusional. If you create a narrative and then bet your life on that narrative, good luck with that.

    You live in a State that is delusional and you live in a city that is an order of magnitude greater in it’s delusion. You live in a region, silicon valley where the second derivative of the growth curve has turned negative, in a country where 10,000 boomers are retiring everyday. Boomers and their entrepreneurialism were largely responsible for the economic expansion and increased productivity of the past 50 years. The thing about retirement is you consume less, and in consuming less the economy falters. In a faltering economy, portfolio’s falter. Millennial’s want a sure bet, hence the increased interest in socialism. Socialism has no increase in productivity, instead it’s based on parasitic destruction. In a society full of “free stuff” what makes you think SF housing prices will be maintained? What makes you think there will be anybody there to buy your property at a price you can afford to sell? The very first thing you do when you make a deal is to understand how you’re going to exit the deal on the profitable side and on the unprofitable side.

    Cali and SF in particular is the land of narrative. Everybody is quacking an angle intended to screw the next guy. It’s only natural since you breath that air, you would quack narrative too. Narratives don’t consider downside, they consider rosy scenario, denial and delusion. In that case there is no discovery of true risk. Ignoring risk is what will kill you. It’s like buying Time Share, sure sounded good at the time.

    The other thing I notice is you tend toward virtue signalling and comparing yourself to others. Apparently what others think of you is something you use to gauge your success. This too is self destructive. If you spend your time living someone else’s life you wont spend a minute living your own. The more you care what others think the less freedom you possess and the worse the choices you make. Mandlebrott in his Misbehavior of Markets found markets react locally not generally or on the average. So the plan need’s be specific and risk accounted before reward. A proper understanding of risk is the only way to understand how much leverage you can apply and the likelihood of success. In a book called Essentialism McKeowan describes how to focus on only what is essential. FOMO becomes JIMO: joy in missing out. It’s only by understanding the joy in missing out that you can maximize happiness. Max Happiness is characterized by the concept of parsimony which means getting the greatest value for the least cost. It doesn’t mean you buy the cheapest. It means you buy precisely what is needed and your purchase is risk adjusted. Owning parsimony is what makes you truly wealthy. Finally a book on Bayesian Statistics by Hartshorn. Bayesian statistics are conditional statistics. If you look at a Galton Board you see a Gaussian distribution determined by a series of decision points. Imagine you are a single ball in the hopper how do you get yourself in the half of the distribution above the mean? You do that by sequencing the probabilities such that its more probable you will end up in the top half. You can live a random life or you can live a Bayesian life. If you failed at FIRE it’s because you lived a random life and chose a plan which had little to do with where your ball would end up. If you base your decisions on random criteria you will be assured a random outcome.

    This sounds critical of you but it is not. I don’t have a dog in your hunt. I have a wife and 2 kids (now adults) and understand your predicament. I’ve started over a couple times sometimes based on my bad decisions sometimes based on shifting background criteria. This is merely an exposition of a different point of view on your dilemma. The past is not a prologue to the future. A future based on the past is but one of a myriad of a distribution of outcomes, and the future is quite unlikely to be an image of the past. The past is based on a single path, a single sequence through the decision tree. If you think the past somehow predicts the future you are living a narrative. One thing for certain if you follow the same decision criteria as you followed last time you will likely fail again.

    I don’t think your dilemma is any different than the dilemma facing most FIRE adherents. Your experience of failure however is invaluable. NOBODY IN FIRELAND EVER ADMITS FAILURE!. It’s only through the study of failure that success can be assured. This piece you wrote is a brave attempt to begin to understand failure and fortunately you are young enough and smart enough to regroup and adjust to succeed.

    By the way I worked to 65 and then retired. I could have quit any time after 50. I used the extra 15 years to adjust my retirement, it’s risk, and it’s tax burden to be minimal, and to do that you have to let compounding do it’s magic. My retirement consists of multiple epochs. An accumulation epoch, a pre-retirement epoch where the funding of Roth conversion was optimized, a Roth conversion epoch which set up to minimize my future tax burden. A retired filing jointly epoch, a widow or widower epoch and a wealth transfer plan. My plan also includes full self insurance for bad SOR and catastrophic medical and end of life planning for 2 spouses. If you think you can plan all of that and still retire at 35 you’re an idiot, or living in a bogglehead narrative.

    1. I think you’re right that I am often clueless. But I am trying to get better by learning more from others.

      Given you’ve lived more than 20 years longer than me, what specific type of advice would you give me so I can become less clueless and more financially sound?


      1. I was laughing as I read Gasem’s comment – but then I started realizing he might actually believe his diatribe – Having spent so much time writing it –

        I heard of you Fin Sam, and wondered what you were up to –
        I think you are just being risk adverse.

        I left the rat race 4 years ago, and cant imagine going back –
        Its going to be at least a decade till I can collect SS, so my “job” is managing my portfolio and rental props –
        Its a full time job – LoL

      2. There is a video subscription service I belong to called Real Vision that explores macro economics. I don’t believe everything they say but listening to those opinions changes the narrative and puts risk into better perspective. Life is not about accumulation especially retired life. When working, you have the luxury of the job covering your risk. When retired you are completely at the mercy of sequence of return risk. That includes inflation, economic risk, demographic risk, tax confiscation risk, medical risk etc. You further have to plan for end of life risk for 2 people and possibly now some method of transferring wealth.

        The situation is therefore much more complex than the BS FIRE bloggers publish. Success lives in the details NOT in the averages. My solution was to break down my retirement into epochs. I had an accumulation epoch where I funded pre-tax funds, but I did not over fund pretax because pretax is rigged to bite you in the ass when you are retired. If you study the tax code what you find is it is written to the median tax payer. Fidelity says the median fund holder has about 500-600K in retirement funds. If you RMD 500K at 6% you get about 25K/yr. If you and the wife generate 50K in SS that’s 75K. Guess what the top of the 12% bracket is? The median holds a shit load of voters, so the tax code is written to satisfy and protect the median number of voters. Anybody above 75K MFJ is considered “rich” by the government and the government has one mantra “soak the rich”. Above 12% 0% cap gains goes to 15% cap gains, and 12% marginal ordinary income goes to 22%. In addition RMD is graduated which means every year you take more and then pay more in taxes. Effectively your retirement accounts are the government’s pension funding mechanism. They love it when you max out your pretax, It means more taxes for them to use to annuitize their debt. Now they even take the bread from your kids with the new “SECURE act” which assures your kids will get charged maximum taxes over a 10 year distribution period post your mortem

        Bet you never heard that narrative before, but it’s in fact the reality. So step 1 is to choose the correct narrative upon which to base your analysis. For me, I quit funding pretax at age 50 and started funding post tax aggressively including tax loss harvesting a few recessions. That’s epoch 2 post tax funding. Post tax plus tax loss harvest turns the post tax account effectively into a Roth. You can pull out money for free up to the amount you harvested. In the mean time the post tax continues to grow.

        The ideal is to get your pretax account down to the level of the median. Dare to be average. Median tax payers live protected lives. High end tax payers get soaked. What I did in epoch 3 was to Roth convert my pretax down to 500K before RMD. I used money from the post tax, mixed with tax loss harvest to live on. This means I converted 1M from stocks to cash tax free for living expense and taxes during the course of conversion. Since living off cash generates no ordinary income all of my tax burden was related to conversion. This meant my conversion was accomplished at minimum taxes. Epoch 4 is to simply RMD and take SS and supplement my income first from the brokerage. If you stay under 104K/yr MAGI the cap gains stay at 0% on the brokerage. I turned the remaining TIRA effectively into an annuity by storing my bonds in there. That TIRA account is in a 15/85 tagent portfolio. This is a very low risk portfolio meaning it will essentially payout 100% of it’s expected every year with slow growth. RMD is progressive so slow growth means you stay in the 12% bracket for a long time and RMD doesn’t force you to 22% till your very old. Also the TIRA money can be used tax free in the case of a medical disaster so it provides a zero tax insurance account in case of a cancer diagnosis or something like that.

        The Roth provides extra income but I’m not touching the Roth until the brokerage is spent down except to buy a car or something like that. I don’t use it for living expense, I use the rest for that. It’s available for end of life coverage and as a source to pay for the increased tax burden on the surviving spouse when one spouse dies. What ever is left over will go to my kids to grow for 10 years and then be cleaned out tax free. I guess you could call that the widow epoch and wealth transfer epoch.

        A long winded response but it makes the point. The plan has to be tailored individually and paid for individually. The comparison is not to a plan designed for someone living in Des Moines, but to itself over time, taking into account the specific risks for that situation. Given what you have written I’m not sure how someone at 35 has enough specificity to create an actual plan, so what gets created is some half assed normative plan which gets implemented on a wing and a prayer.

        The problem as I see it most plans are over levered and therefore contain a ton of unaccounted for risk. In my opinion the past is not a prelude to the future. Too much of what exists in the present has never existed before. Robots account for a huge amount of trading and therefore price discovery is very cloudy. It’s not me and you settling on a price it’s me and you filtered through a robot algorithm. We’ve never had this much debt in the world in 5000 years of history and the result is the debt market has become unpredictable because of FED manipulation. Stock prices are all financially engineered. 30 years of buy backs have forced prices way above the mean without a concomitant increase in productivity largely due to the FED manipulation. The huge wad of boomers are retiring meaning boomer contribution to GDP will be receding and therefore GDP will contract and the cost of supporting boomers will explode. Boomers are expecting to unload their mansions to the youngsters and it’s unclear the youngsters are interested in boomer mansions. A glut of mansions means crashing prices and far less wealthy boomers than thy expected.

        This is why I suggest a Real Vision sub because a lot of this insight is covered. You’re a smart guy, given the right data you will have no trouble devising a competent plan. I would say however were it me, I’m not sure I could conclude SF is a sustainable option, but that’s not my call.

        Thanks for writing this and letting me respond. In my retired life I’ve spent a lot of time studying the modes of retirement failure and taking maneuvers to reduce risk and improve longevity. It’s an important topic

        1. I do like how a couple can make around $100,000 a year from long-term capital gains each year tax free. Should be good enough for the majority of couples to live on in retirement in America.

          Do you think there’s a chance you might be worrying too much about too many different angles? At 65+, have your financial worries gone up or have they gone down?

          I’m trying to simplify my retirement goals by just accumulating $1.5 million more or generating $60,000 a year more in consistent retirement income.

          1. At 67 given the size and structure of my portfolio I have zero financial worries. It’s optimized ten ways to Sunday and has extremely low risk. On the consumption side I live in coastal FL in the country on a few acres. My taxes are very low, my utilities are low, my COL is low. I’m 35 miles from world class food and air travel. I still have 2 kids in college but that is all planned out as well so their expenses don’t touch my cash flow. The advantage of making a detailed comprehensive plan is a simple plan does not fit the real complexity of life.

            I like the idea of owning real estate in someplace like Kansas City where the RV is high. I’d sell the Cali property while you can and use the Kansas properties to fund a Cali rental. Interest presently is near zero. The downside is small, the upside big. Cake and eat it too time.

        2. Meh, you can write all this because you ended up making it to 65+ retirement. The last thing I want to do is die at my desk and that came pretty darn close last July. So working till 67 or 70 is for the birds.

          Granted most folks will make it to retirement age but there are guys in my cardiac rehab class younger than me so it’s no sure thing. Dying of something is more likely than your dire pronouncements of impending financial doom for the millennial FIRE folks.

          And finally boomer, you ain’t the greatest generation (that would be your and my parents)…you just think you are…which is sooo typically boomer.

          And if the world is in such dire shape is sure ain’t the millennials fault. Nor is it the fault of anyone who can save $1mm by age 35 and FIRE.

          And at 35 they can afford to be flexible and go back to work after an 8 year hiatus. All they need is the same luck you had…not dying or getting sick before their time and making it to 67+.

          1. The rate of inflation is above the rate of interest on bonds. This means real returns are negative. This means you are paying to save money, you are not being paid. That’s strike 1. The FED is targeting 2% inflation. This means your 1M will erode to 600K in value in 25 years and to 325K in value in 50 years if you never spend a dollar. If inflation is 3% instead of 2% you’re unmolested cool million will be worth 250K in 50 years. That’s strike 2, and it’s baked into government policy. The government intends to pay for its debt by devaluing your fortune. It’s the reason I own gold. At least gold is guaranteed to pay me zero.

            Yes I’m a boomer and I’m almost dead. Being almost dead is my feature. I have way more than enough money to live however I want, but you my dear millennial, you are screwed and I will laugh my ass off at you from my grave as I watch your unrepentant descent into the dirt.

            The #1 law of sky diving is you have to pull the rip cord AND deploy the chute before you bounce. It’s a sequence of return thing. A cocky attitude won’t save you. Neither will MMT

  11. Happy New Year! You wrote a blog a while back about how much bloggers can make. If this is true, shouldn’t your 250K from investments Plus your blogging income (You are in year ten so I would hope you are doing 500k?) be enough to live on in any city?

    Just wanted to know the concreteness of blogging income because I am thinking of maybe getting into blogging myself.

    1. Blogging isn’t passive. I’m looking to generate as much passive income as possible.

      But I fear that if you are considering going into blogging for the income, you will be disappointed. You have to go into blogging for the joy of writing about a topic you care about.

  12. IMHO the point of financial independence is simply to do what you want. That includes working if that is what you want to do. While you may “feel” the need to go back to earning more income, the reality is that your worst case is you guys cutting back on your lifestyle some or not being able to provide premier services for the kids. In my book that still makes you financially independent in that you are working for wants, not needs, and that is perfectly acceptable and I’d hardly call it a failure. Too many people get hung up on the “retire” part of things as if you aren’t allowed to change what you want once you claim you are retired. Even people who retire at later ages face change to their wants and desires, no one calls them a failure for trying new things or starting businesses when they don’t “need” to.

    1. There are plenty of gatekeepers out there who will complain that someone isn’t retired just because they want to do a little work to keep busy.

    2. A reasonable response! Yes, we’re always evolving.

      But because I’ve been called a failure, loser, etc by so many people for wanting to go back to work and wanting to make more money, I want to embrace the criticism.

      It’s fun and try again. Life is boring if there is no progress. With a new daughter, I have so much motivation to ensure my family is well taken care of.

      Related: https://www.financialsamurai.com/sweat-dreams-of-becoming-a-millionaire-again/

  13. Congratulations, Sam!

    This is one of the best financial blog posts I’ve ever read. And then to throw in the baby at the end was fantastic.

    I feel you on just not being good at things. I watch our nanny closely as she effortlessly gets my son to happily go through his routine. I try to replicate but she’s just much better at it. Plus she has a network of other friends to take him on play dates with during the day and she knows all the free spots to get him exercise and education (community play areas and library reading times). I mimic what she does but I never would have found it myself.

    She is better than me at the day to day. But at the beginning and end of the day I’m his father and I’ll always be there for him at each stage of his life and we share special times together (like swim lessons on weekend mornings). Quality over quantity.

    Congratulations again on your growing family. Enjoy the new stage of life.

  14. Congrats on the new baby!

    Are you sure you need to do this? You don’t really account for the value of Financial Samurai in your assets/passive income. What if you would sell the site and invest the proceed? Would you need to go back to work then?

    I have to says that I can’t wait to RE and now you have me worried I’m chasing a dream I will never reach.

    1. Sounds like it’s not about money, it’s more about identity. Blogger is not as impressive as banker, unless blogger is with capital B, because unless he makes $millions, ie a business empire, blogger is a suboptimal income earner.
      100% agree with the analysis btw!

  15. Sam, congrats on your baby girl!! What a wonderful addition to your family! Thank you again for continuing to write inspiring articles!

  16. Thank you for this post!

    Just leaving a comment to say that the only thing I find completely bogus about this post is the assertion that you lack the proper intellect and pedigree. This is patently false. I and my husband who have three graduate degrees (MBA, MS in CS, PhD from the top universities) between us have used your website to educate ourselves on so many different financial topics. Your blog has provided a lot of value to us techies who are financially under educated!

    You are an inspiration. You provide tons of value. And sometimes investments don’t work out– but this isn’t some moral judgement on how smart you are.

  17. TL in Redding

    Hi Sam,

    Congratulations on a new baby girl! I’ve been reading your posts for a long time, and have learned a lot from your site. My wife is a stay at home mom and we have 4 kids – we’re maybe the lowest income readers you have, but I enjoy reading posts and comments from the perspective of high earners. The “water cooler talk” in my industry isn’t inspiring or enthusiastic about early retirement.
    We moved from San Francisco in 2008, to a northern CA town where living is drastically less expensive. My wife & I miss SF but our kids are happy in this small town. I’m working on a few side hustles so that one day we can move somewhere more enjoyable.

    Thanks for the great posts and free knowledge, so happy to hear you have another little one!

    1. I read Financial Samurai with constant fascination as to how freaking expensive things are out there. We live in a unique city in SE MN ( the home of the Mayo Clinic ) where the cost of living is low…but we also have a world class medical institution in town. Jobs are plentiful, public schools are great, minimal traffic, etc… We also get travelers from all over the world ( mostly due to the Mayo Clinic )…so restaurants, etc… are somewhat plentiful.

      Yes, it isn’t the coast. However, we can easily hop on a plane and be there in a few hours. We are also close to Minneapolis if we want to do big city things. Honestly, I don’t quite understand why some people disregard the Midwest as a great place to live. Find the right city and I’d wager it is an overall better experience than many places on the coast. The Midwest is also one of the highest ranked areas to raise a family…MN is ranked highly in that regard.

      At any rate, I wish you well in your un-retirement!

      1. I think the simple answer is: people don’t know better.

        We only have one life and can only live in so many places at a time, usually dictated by our jobs.

        But I think the Midwest and plenty parts of the south are wonderful. I just have no friends and family there. Hard to start over now. Easier to just try and make more money.

        1. I hear you. We ‘ended up’ here. Wife and I both grew up in Minneapolis, and I happened to get a job here after college. Then she ended up at Grad school at the Mayo Clinic, then got a job there. Then kids….and the rest is history.

          Personally, I have worked for the same place for 27 years now. Anything you do for that long tends to get…old. I have some major decisions to make very soon! I like your idea of retiring…with the possibility to un-retire. Maybe I’ll try that!

          Anyway, wishing you guys the best. We also have 2 kids. One is a junior in college and one is a senior in high school. You have a long, but fun, road ahead of you…make *sure* to enjoy your kids along the way. As the cliche goes…they do really grow up too fast.

  18. Congratulations on the arrival of your baby girl….children really are a blessing (even though some days are harder than others)! I love reading your blog and really appreciate your honesty in facing the challenges of living in a HCOL area. We just took our kids to Tahoe for the first time this past weekend and had a blast! Have a great week :)

    1. Thanks! I’m so excited to go back to Lake Tahoe again with my children. My son loves it there. But now I’m kind of concerned because we only have a two bedroom, two bathroom condo. So it’s gonna be a little tight if one isn’t sleeping through the night!

  19. Congrats on your baby girl! Children are the biggest blessing and motivator for living a better life. Thanks for your honesty about the financial strain of children. I feel like the number of personal finance sites are over represented by bloggers who don’t have any children or who homestead in rural, low-cost areas. Thanks for being a voice for the rest of us.

  20. I guess ‘congrats’ is in order on your retirement failure! You had a good run! ;) Seriously though, congrats is due on the birth of your daughter.

    You’re taking the growth of your family seriously, and that’s pretty important. With two kids of my own, I have a hard time using the word ‘retired’.

    Happy New Year!

  21. CONGRATULATIONS FS!! So, so happy for you and your family. Long-time reader, 2x commenter. Your most direct impacts on my family’s life / finances have been from your ARM posts and 10% car buying rule.

    Happy New Year!

  22. Michael s Johnson

    I haven’t read all the comments, but have been reading your articles for a couple years. I’m sure you’ve addressed this, BUT what don’t you move to another part of the US or to a foreign country to lower your cost of living? I’ve lived across Asia and the Middle East, and there are places to live that are safe , have decent medical care, lower expenses and a vibrant culture.

    1. Sure, check out points 6 and 13.

      Could you share with us your experience of moving a family to a new location to save money? What were some of the challenges you and your children faced in a new environment? What were some upside surprises? Thanks

  23. Sam, I loved your sincerity in this post. Working on FI myself, you were always a good mentor I could learn from. Now, your humble post made me reflect on my own goals and to admire you even more for being so critical with yourself. This is a sign of strength. Finally, Mazal Tov for your baby girl! Keep doing what you do, your values are admirable.

  24. Erica McElhaney

    Sam and family! Congratulations and BLESSINGS!! Awesome!! I am the “stay at home” parent for (now) 4 Fabulous adults. Used my MBA for 2 years in the direct paycheck world and for 34 more in this life we built. Keep plugging, keep thinking (and making us think) and show us all how keep looking for the next thing, the next challenge, for the rest of our lives!!
    Thanks for acknowledging that your goals before kids are not the same as your goals now. Best post ever!

  25. Congrats on the new addition!

    It’s interesting you bring up HI (and I knew you were secretly hoping about the preschool thing from your prior posts) – I just came back from the Big Island absolutely in love with it and the lifestyles/attitudes of the people. My previous experience was a week in Honolulu (with a day in Kauai) with my mom during HS in the ’70s…

    While I face the big 60 this year, I am very fortunate to have worked for the same company for 38 years that affords me two pensions and two retirement accounts. I was eligible to retire several years ago (age + service, etc.) and there have been ups and downs but dang, I feel like my identity is tied to what I do and in a big way. For a while it messed with my head but once I gave myself a time-frame to pull the plug, that mostly went away. From now until then, more research and keep maxing out my 401(k)…

    1. Wow, two pensions for life! Gotta love that. Congrats!

      I think the identity thing for me for the first two years. And then over time it got better things to do. I love being known as a high school tennis coach in my community. If there’s thousand dollars a month, but the pride I feel coaching the school to to sectional championships is immeasurable. It had never been done before and the school’s history!

      1. Yeah, the pension thing…so many options once I get there. :-/ The other things are the retirement accounts…I know I have options when I hit 59.5 and it is all overwhelming. I sort of have my head in the sand about that because of it.

  26. Physician on FIRE

    Another little one! Wonderful!!

    Best wishes with this venture and others in the coming years.


  27. Congratulations on the best Christmas gift of all! We are older parents as well (40 and 42 when our 2nd son was born 2 1/2 years apart) and it took some adjusting. It was overwhelming at first as at the 8 week mark our littlest developed colic and we had to take turns for a several hour period each evening for a few months. As you will find, you gain amazing patience and strength as new challenges become unavoidable and you just barrel through them as best you can. We had always heard people say 1 is 1 and 2 is 20 when it came to the exponential work of more than 1 child. Fast forward and our boys are 12 and 14, friends with quite different personalities and we wouldn’t change anything for the world! So blessed and send the same blessings to you and your family!

    1. Thank you! Colic is tough! I didn’t realize it could appear in the eighth week and not earlier. How long did it last? And is the definition of colic, crying for longer than three hours a day?

      So far, I’ve embraced my daughter is crying big as it makes me know that she is alive! It is when she is absolutely silent when I start getting paranoid.

      1. Colic can start as early as 3 weeks and then last maybe 3 or 4 months. Ours started at around 4ish in the evening for about 4ish hours. It’s tough and you just have to take turns with as much help as possible. It’s funny though as our son is the most mellow-ish of our 2 boys now!

  28. Congratulations on the new addition to your family! What a wonderful surprise for all your readers.

  29. Great post! I am on the precipice of early “retirement” by leaving my public ed career and drawing my pension…more than enough to live on.

    I will not retire but transition into working on something I more enjoy…I have learned from your post and have been thinking an entrepreneurial approach as well.

    Love that you have maintained the cards of thanks–I have 30 years worth of those saved as well!

    1. Congrats on getting a pension that is more than enough! A pension for life is like winning the lottery, especially if you have a long life.

      Enjoy your second career. It absolutely feels great to do something new that you love and NOT have to stress about the money.

      I hope I find a gig like that, but that so happens to pay a tidy sum.

  30. Congratulations on the baby! And you have the best financial website out there. Thanks for all your writings over the years.

  31. FIRE is marketing illusion that is nothing more than a repackaged financial strategy entrepreneurs past and present have been executing to bring progress to the societies.
    Many blogs (not so much yours) used the momentum to cash in for one more dollar and the results are clear.

    Mr. Money Mustache divorced!
    White Coat Investor lost his passion in medicine!
    Millennial Revolution (Firecracker) developed anxiety.

    All happened after self-declared Financial Independence. Is this the price one must pay for Financial Independence?

    Sam – I believe you have the skill and the drive to go all the way. You just don’t have the right framework to support your potential.

    Of all the financial websites, I enjoyed yours the most. So, 2020 I will invest a little more of my time to write articles that are complemented in views of the financial centric of your website.

    I am convinced that you are ambitious to get more traffic to your sites, yet sincere in the seeking of self-gratification for doing something useful – and have the courage to take punch at the chin.

    Hopefully, your readers will get the full landscape of FIRE!

    1. Paper Tiger

      There needs to be a de-coupling of the concepts of Financial Independence and Retiring Early. To your point, early FIRE bloggers created the illusion that both are easily attainable and once FI is reached, one should immediately RE. This is where the premise falls apart for all kinds of reasons. If everyone simply focused on achieving FI, regardless of the age one actually attains it, then many options, of which RE may or may not be one, are open to exploring.

      I really hope we see a stronger emphasis on FI and a de-emphasis on RE from the blogging community in the future.

      1. TheEngineer

        Financial Independence is the detachment from other people money – their money can no longer enslave you.

        Financial Freedom is the freedom from money itself – money have very little or no role in the true meaning of your life.

        Sam has the skill and the drive to BAT hard at “FI” for 90 percents of the population without any “RE” GARBAGE. It would be ashamed if he is falling apart.

        I am 100% with you on ” If everyone simply focused on achieving FI, regardless of the age one actually attains it, then many options, of which RE may or may not be one, are open to exploring”.

        The first underlying problem for many is the FI target changes. It is a challenge for anyone to shoot at a target that is moving.

        For every readers on this site, if I have three metrics, current asset, current liability, and the average income for the last 10 years, I can give you a Financial Independence target to shoot for 10, 15, 20 or 30 years with just simple 6th grade math.

        The second underlying problem for many is the passion for doing anything. FI is not a walk in the park for many. They will feel every mile toward the summit because of the SCARCITY mindset is baked into the 90% of the population.

        The mass will need more than blogs, books, podcasts to assist them in the FI journey.

        It is time for a paradigm shift from FIRE!

        1. Paper Tiger

          The three variables that people need the most are three things they don’t want to focus on, hard choices (guts), discipline and time. They need guts to make hard choices to do what it takes to raise their income levels over time, the discipline to save/invest and make the necessary sacrifices to stay on track with an investment and expense plan, and the patience to allow time to take advantage of compounding and long-term market gyrations. In our society, we want a quick, pain-free fix that requires no tradeoffs in our desired standard of living, or demands time for learning how to invest one’s money and, for most, this simply isn’t a reasonable expectation.

          FI is absolutely within most people’s reach but the willingness to do what it takes to achieve it is the real challenge.

          1. TheEngineer

            FI is absolutely within most people’s reach!
            One mate for life is absolutely within most people’s reach!
            A long and passionate life is absolutely within most people’s reach!

            All can be achieved through the the science of a well designed Life Framework.

            Can you imagine the world where everyone gets up in the morning and have the freedom to bring on his/her best?

            This is the mission for 1DesignerLife.com!

        2. Is it just me, or does anybody have a difficult time understand what you, TheEngineer writes? You don’t have a point. Or if you do, you don’t clearly write it out.

          1. I merely pointed out a contrast view why Sam and any FIRE adopters failed at Financial Independence journey.

            I just provided more details with this post. With that said, if you are used to Sam’s prodigious and graceful writing, then I am sorry – I am hacker in living and writing.


        3. Kinda tired of people bagging on the FIRE folks. Sure there have been a few “failures” if you want to call it that but every one of them is better off today than not embarking on their FIRE adventures…including the RE part of it.

          As far as your claims go, first every target worth shooting at moves. The only stationary targets are paper ones.

          Second, your three metrics (current assets, current liabilities, average 10 year income) can never tell me what my FI target is because you don’t ask for expenditures or financial goals.


          Current Assets $2m
          Current liabilities $200K
          Average 10 year income: $200K

          When do I hit FI?

          You have no clue because you don’t know my spend monthly spend rate or my long term financial needs/goals.

          I reached FI at my minimum burn rate years ago but I’m burning $17K a month I’ll never reach FI.

          You also don’t know my risk tolerance so don’t know what the expected rate of return on my assets will be so again don’t know what net worth is required to be to support that desired lifestyle.

          The fact that expenditures and income varies over retirement…early or late…is what makes retirement savings a moving target.

          Yes it moves more for a 35 yo than a 65 yo but that’s less a function of age than a function of life stage. A 55yo with young kids has the same general variance as a 35yo with young kids because there remains a large cost risk until your kids are independent. It’s certainly different than the financial risk posture for a 55yo empty nester with healthy kids with viable careers and their own families.

          Finally, if everyone had a scarcity mindset more people would be FI and able to retire, much less early. But scarcity mindsets are rare because few folks in the US has experienced true scarcity. Folks with scarcity mindsets (but not poor anymore) are very frugal and far more able to achieve FI than those with abundance mindsets that live paycheck to paycheck assuming the next one is always coming. While there are many folks who don’t make enough to save, most that do make enough don’t even with above average incomes.

          Divorce happens to retirees early or late. A 40 hour workweek can often mask that a couple has drifted apart and it becomes painfully obvious when spending 24/7 together.

          Losing your passion for your first career happens a heck of a lot more after 40 years than 15. Retiring Early means you are less likely to burned out than working until a traditional retirement age.

          Firecracker had a scarcity mindset that allowed her to save a huge fraction of her income to FIRE, and the internal need to maximize income potential rather than satisfaction because being dirt poor sucks more than most Americans can imagine. Any “anxiety” she has traveling the world with $1.3M family net worth is peanuts to what she already experienced as a child in the wrong kind of family in China (aka educated/academic or landowner class or KMT supporter…triple bad trifecta if all three which I think hers was).

          And she’s a software person. There are plenty of jobs for that if after a decade of traveling the world and writings books doesn’t pan out.

          How many traditional retirement advocates will have done that?

          And Sam? He’s being Asian modest. His “failure” is OMG…if I can’t save ANOTHER million in a crazy short amount of time I’ll be forced to MOVE TO HAWAII…OH THE HORROR…


          That’s not even a 1st world problem.

          That’s like a 1%er problem.

          1. TheEngineer

            FACT – Current Assets $2m, Current liabilities $200K, Average 10 year income: $200K

            Assumptions in the future value simulation –
            1. Withdrawal rate at 4% or less (90% probability the money will last for 30 years in most Monte Carlo simulations)
            2. Return on investment 6% – 7%
            3. Average inflation rate 2% – 3%
            4. Expense/Saving rates 90%/10%

            Future value results –
            1. You will cross the FI mile in 15 years. The approximate compounded return of asset in 15 years is $4,514,285.
            2. $4,514,285 if invested in low cost index funds is capable of generating 4% withdrawal of $180,571 – support the lifestyle you have trained yourself to live in the past 15 years of the FI journey.

            (DISCLAIMER – Please verify the math yourself).

            I have no interest in telling you what, where, when and how to spend your own hard earn money. If I blogged the specifics of how I live my life – the details are just parables with the hope of improving the lives of other.

            In fact, if the 3 metrics you have volunteered are legit and if I am you – I would ease up the FIRE, explore and invest the Relationship and the Health areas of my life.

            Good luck!

            1. Nope…we have enough to retire on today, not 15 years from now, because we normally have under a $10K a month spend rate.

              No BMWs or Teslas. No big house. Stealth wealth. The only thing we spend a lot of money on is travel and housing due to a HCOL area with good schools. Travel is discretionary.

              With $2M in the market and a 4% “safe” withdrawal rate we can have $80K a year or a 6600/month gross for retirement. If we use Firecracker’s geoarbitrage strategy of living in SE Asia that gives us a $40K a year spend rate and have around a 2% SWR. That’s probably what we’re going to do for the first few years just for a change of pace after we sell the house.

              The nice thing is if we do something like Taiwan or Penang (George Town) between English and Chinese we’ll get by language wise.

              But we’re not going to retire earlier than 3 years from now because the oldest kids are in high school.

              Whether we pull the tigger will depend on how much a little extra pension is worth. Something else not accounted for in your calculations. It’s worth $1500 a month even today…almost half of a $40K spend rate. And we’ll have access to health insurance. Another factor you don’t consider.

              So you have ZERO idea when we will have reached FI whether it was a couple years ago, a couple years from now or 15 years from now.

              Retire in 15 years? Screw that. Three years for me. If not fully retired then half time at the most.

              $80K a year gross is just fine given that the median family income is $61K.

    2. I think those things that happened to my fellow bloggers are normal, and would happen to anybody.

      My failure is not taking advantage of the FIRE movement, since I’ve been talking about financial independence since 2009. Yet I don’t think FS is associated with or commonly referred to in the FIRE dialogues.

      I just wrote about life after FIRE, because that’s what happens. Life goes on. You don’t just stay stuck writing about FIRE all the time unless there is a strategic marketing plans.

      But I should have been more marketing savvy.

      1. I can’t comment above but I’d appreciate hearing what you think the downsides of geoarbitrage to Penang or SE Asia in general given you grew up there.

        I mean you could live like a princeling over there vs Hawaii or SF and still run Financial Samurai.

        And have great food and night markets :)

        So there must be signify that deal breakers to not go.

        1. It’s really humid there and my family is in Hawaii. It’s really that simple. When you have the sun, hills and the beaches in Hawaii, you don’t need to have a lot of money to be happy

    3. re: Millennial Revolution (Firecracker) developed anxiety.

      Firecracker did not develop anxiety from becoming FIRE; she had it way before then. She only THOUGHT being FIRE would remove her anxiety; she eventually came to see that being FIRE doesn’t change who you are. I think Tanja Hester at OurNextLife came to learn this also in regards to her extreme productivity / organizational skills.

      Just goes to show that your “personality problems” (eccentricities?) follow you wherever you may go, regardless of your financial independence or how much you geo arbitrage. They will likely follow you into your financial freedom also.

      1. TheEngineer

        I just want to end this thread with the fact that all these bright, educated, type A personality did not realized that Financial Independence is second chance at life to express the full fidelity of yourself without the cost of everyday living gets in the way.

        They overplayed the “RE” theme and I have personally met many young people roamed the street of South East Asia on shoestring budgets – wasting away the most the precious time of their lives because of this FIRE movement.

        Currently, I am mentoring three youngsters ages range from late 20’s to late 30’s. I am glad they don’t know anything about FIRE. I use FI as the starting point of discussion, with the hope of stimulating the entrepreneurship within them.

  32. It’s good you don’t see it as the end of the world.

    I decided some time ago that real peace of mind means never having to wonder if we will outlive our retirement savings, despite huge advances in medical science, inflation, the prospect of taxes going up in 2026 (and brackets getting smaller), Social Security having problems in 2034, automation causing a huge shortage of jobs that pay living wages by 2030, and too many investments chasing too few opportunities once enough people can’t even afford cheap products made almost completely by automated processes.

    The key to making that much more likely seems to be ensuring that wealth and income will continue growing indefinitely, even after retirement.

    In our case that means putting it off until we are both 63. It is what it is. Life is good and we can wait, even if I am quite ready to no longer be shackled to an office for a few hours everyday.

    Plus, with that whole automation thing making capital based earnings grow so much at the cost of wage based earnings (as a percentage of all earnings), I think it is a pretty good idea to leave a leg up for the next generation, just in case.

  33. CONGRATULATIONS! She looks so tiny in that crib! I hope you guys are adjusting smoothly to life as a family of four. I’ve gotten so much from your site over the years that I hope you’ll allow me to share what helped our family dynamics after we had our second. After the novelty period wore off, my toddler tried his best to get rid of the interloper (everything from trying to give the baby away to throwing things at the baby), but the situation improved at about the 3 month mark. We found the following to be pretty helpful: 1) constantly telling the baby how lucky he was to have such a good big brother within earshot of my toddler and 2) praising my toddler for things he “taught” the baby how to do.

    I also found after I had my second, my relationship with my older son changed. He was so big compared to the baby and my instincts were to protect the baby from him, which was pretty horrible. He’d always strongly preferred me to my husband, but during this time, his relationship with his dad improved immensely. For me, seeing him in the company of other children (i.e., at a playground or swimming pool) helped me to see that he was just a little guy and helped me to empathize with him more. Gosh, I feel like a terrible person typing all of this out, but I don’t think people talk about these things as much as they should. The baby is just over a year now and I think we’re all in a better spot. I think I have a good relationship with both boys, my husband has risen through the ranks (long overdue), and I hope my boys will be thick as thieves as they grow up.

    1. Thanks for the tips! How much older is your eldest son?

      We were advised to give max love to our eldest during this time period because he will remember and the baby will not.

      Also, not sure if you read this post. It discusses what you’ve been talking about.


      Our boy is super attached to his mom. I’m positively hoping he shows a more balanced attachment after our baby.

      1. My boys are two years and 8 months apart. I remember that post and am sure you will have a great relationship with both of your kiddos. If your experience is like mine, your time will hit when the baby is about a month old. Furthermore, my second son seems to like both of us equally, which is very nice. If you’re ever looking for more advice, I really like Laura Markham, a child psychologist who has a great website and newsletter. Her “time in’s” were revolutionary in my house and she has lots to say on sibling rivalry.

        1. Ok good to know!

          And wow, 8 months a part! You are a super mama! Great you had such a quick recovery after the first.

          We both are zombies every day, and can’t come close to thinking about trying for another one now.

          In fact, I might have just passed out momentarily writing this comment! :p

          * in fact, my comment proves I’m sleep deprived since I missed the “two years” part of the sentence!

          Our kid’s gap is about the same!

          1. Oh my gosh, I would have died if my kids had been 8 months apart. :) I couldn’t even imagine having a second until my first was at least a year old. Crazily enough, we’re currently trying to decide if we have enough emotional bandwidth to take on a third! Congratulations again and best of luck getting through the sleep deprivation stage! And also, thank you for all of your posts. I don’t comment nearly enough, but your blog is consistently a joy to read and the only finance blog that I’ve found to be directly applicable to my financial situation.

            1. Oh wow, big decision going from 2 to 3! I will say so far, that going to two is less hard than I imagined because I literally have over 1000 hours more of hands-on experience.

              But the logistics of going to number three is tough because of the need for a larger house, a minivan, and not being able to rest. But if the oldest one is five or six years old, maybe he will be more independent and not need as much care. But somehow I doubt it!

              Good luck! Sharing my work to other people is the best gift readers can give me. Thanks

            2. The biggest change from 2 to 3 is the need to shift from man to man coverage to zone defense…and eventually you will discover that you have accidentally arranged things where you need to be in 3 different places at the same time with only 2 or fewer adults available…

              This falls into the “funny in hindsight” category and not “funny right now” category.

  34. Congratulations on the baby! I find categorizing our lives a little silly at times. Being the best you is what matters; regardless of the terminology used.

  35. I think it is pretty cool how you reinvent yourself. Nothing is worse than slipping into a repetitive routine and not being present in your own life. I can’t imagine that ever happening to you. I sometimes wonder if I’m in one of those ruts, I have all the money I need and enjoy the small amount of paid work and the volunteer work I do but maybe I should do more? Maybe I’m not really in my sweet spot? Congrats on child number two!

  36. FIRE is great if you have little-to-no $ ambitions except to relax and maximize enjoyment through other means money can’t buy.

    A lot of people struggle with the idea of excluding themselves in the social hierarchy that values titles and status because even though that social bubble may be “toxic”, when 99% of the people are in that bubble, you end up feeling lonely.

    But I firmly believe that we are a product of the environment. I think the fact that you live in a highly competitive, highly innovative city like San Francisco shapes your perspective in life. However if you lived somewhere in the heartland where things were more low key, more familial, less about $ (whether intentional or not), I think you’ll adapt to that environment.

    Anyway, congrats on the second! It’s truly a game changer :)

    1. Thank you! And you’re absolutely right. Living in San Francisco, like New York City, or Los Angeles, or any big city, makes it much more difficult to relax and unwind.

      I am trying to go back to Hawaii because I think the Hawaiian lifestyle fits my true essence. I’ve always like to get things done quickly, but I truly do appreciate being able to sit by the beach and read a book or just swim with the turtles.

      I will go back to Hawaii. It’s just a matter of when.

  37. Hi Sam,

    When my kids get discouraged I just say to them “WD-40”.

    Water Displacement – 40th Attempt

    The other 39 attempts were not failures but a series of learning processes along the way!

    Kind regards,

    1. Hmm, You’ll have to explain the water displacement concept a little bit more thoroughly force someone like me to understand. In other words, it’s impossible to displace water and that’s why we have to keep on trying?

      1. Hi Sam,

        WD-40 is a popular consumer product that has many uses beyond its original intent. It is great for lubricating squeaky doors and removing rusty bolts. it also has many other uses like getting duct tape glue and another adhesive residue that is left behind after removing them.

        The inventor of the product named it WD-40 because he finally got the formula right on the 40th try! He didn’t quit until he got it right and didn’t view the other 39 attempts as failures!

        You are very young and you will continue to modify your strategy to reach your financial and personal goals as you move through life.

        So while you may view your changes in strategies a failure, they are really just a series of adjustments as you move through life to get it right!


      2. WD-40 is a great product that has sold hundreds of millions of dollars each year of this great product for decades. The first 39 tries to make it, failed, and they they hit it out of the park with their 40th attempt. It’s been on the market since like 1953 or something.


        Aside from that, congrats on the baby.

        My sister in law went from 1 to 3 under 2. The first month they started trying after the first, she got pregnant with twins. Big brother is 7, and the twins, 5, are the same age as my boy. All 4 boys get along great, but she and her hubby were a bit overwhelmed for a while until they found the rhythm.

  38. Steve Adams

    Congratulations on your baby girl!!!

    Thanks for sharing so much on your blog – and congratulations being a great entrepreneur!!

  39. TheEngineer

    Congratulations on your well-deserved success – the baby girl.

    In looking back, I would return 1 million dollars to the monopoly game if I can have few more innocent years with my daughter.

    Enjoy your kids before they grow up and lead their own lives.

    Read this post about “Ambition and Love” – it was written for highly competitive individuals 1designerlife.com/2019/06/02/relationship-101-ambition-love/

    1. You are very lucky that your tasteless self-promotion is tolerated. If it were my site I’d delete all your self-serving comments. Especially on this article, which must have been difficult for FS to write – you’ve left multiple comments, all about you, bordering on gibberish, littered with the word I. Take a look in the mirror.

      1. TheEngineer

        Hooray – you are officially my first online hater.

        For just a moment, give me a chance at pointing out your fallacy.

        If I was self promoting, why I link an article that only apply to a very small percents of the population – less than 5 percents.

        Personally, do you have an ambition that is jeopardizing your marriage?

        YOU are loyal follower of Sam, but you are underestimating his confidence as Financialist.

        You actually believe that with my hacking writing style, I will have a traffic impact on his site?

        Look for an article categorized under Humanity – 90Percenters Vs 10Percenters. It is written for you!

  40. Sam you’ve never been retired my friend. The amount of time you put into Financial Samurai, the success it’s having, and the impact it has on people is tremendous. Give yourself a break. I recommend looking to astrology for some guidance. Hit me up and we can do a reading of your birth chart and it will give you some insights into balancing this work/play dilemma you’re having.

    1. Hi Marco – One of the things I wonder is: does size matter? There are plenty of sites where people spend a lot of time writing and sharing their thoughts which are smaller. Do those sites count or don’t count? Are writers of smaller sites without jobs more considered retired than writers with larger sites? Hmm.

      When you have children, shooting for work/play balance is a hyper privilege. During the first 2-3 years of life, it is about ever present care due to the children’s survival.

      But I did have a nice 1.15 hr tennis match with an old buddy of mine last night and grabbed a beer!

  41. Just move.

    Seriously, you’d think you and your wife would take the idea a little more seriously considering none of your income is dependant on location. You could stay retired or work or do whatever, but at 1/4 the price you’re doing it now. Your children are young enough now where it doesn’t matter. Your wife doesn’t have a job. You don’t have a job. Tennis exists literally everywhere. And there are significantly prettier places in the country than the garbage can that is SF and the bay area.

    This is quite literally the easiest decision you could possibly make. You could live on a beautiful property next to a calm, serene lake in the Midwest and live a better life for less. Also you could give your child a quality education at a fraction of the price.

    So just move. Your house is a thing, and things don’t matter.

    1. Very helpful advice thank you. Where do you live so I can compare San Francisco. I’ve been to many places and I really do believe San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, if not the most beautiful city in America.

      Can you share your thoughts on where are you moved from and to during your transition with family save money? How much did you guys end up saving and what were some of the difficulties of moving. Thank you

      1. Sam, love your writings and am completely supportive of your journey.

        You obviously take exception to the way this advice was presented (along with the unnecessary characterization of SF), but … I was thinking exactly the same thing, perhaps in a more diplomatic way.

        I know it’s not easy to move away from “home”, but there are hundreds of attractive, lower cost cities to live in. Why kick yourself while striving to get to $300k in retirement income? While I have more than enough to call it quits, here in Michigan I plan to live a hugely comfortable life, with a big second house in a beautiful lake and lots of travel, at around $125K. I wish you all the best, and am thrilled for your family addition, but I feel that your work ambitions can take you anywhere and you could seriously take advantage of a lower COL.

        1. It’s probably because one day I went up to Lake Tahoe and snowboarded in 2 1/2 feet of powder, and the next day I came back to San Francisco and I played tennis and 68° sunny weather.

          I just thought right then and there the quality of life was so good as well as the professional opportunities.

          Just this week, I played tennis twice and softball. It just feels good to have the sun and to be able to do physical activities all year around here.

          But clearly, there are great places all around the country. I have just chosen San Francisco as my home since 2001. It’s much easier for me to just try and make more money and stay, instead of uproot my family to try to save money in an unfamiliar place.

          Besides, I love myself a challenge. It’s so fun!

  42. First, congrats on the new daughter! Welcome to a whole new phase of parenthood.

    Second, it doesn’t surprise me that early retirement wasn’t for you. You seem like a driven person who needs to be working at something (e.g. your blog). I’m looking forward to seeing Financial Samurai grow over the next few months. Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you! I look forward to as many tips from the community as possible on raising two kids and raising a daughter. It’s gonna be a fun journey. I love kissing and snuggling her every single day :-)

    1. Thank you! But I got to say, I do love a good debate! It is fun to be judged by others while you’re busy living your own life. Judgment by others provides an endless amount of topics to write about!

  43. I didn’t think I would inspire a post with my initial comments. First, congratulations on your new daughter. Second, I frequently disagree with what you write but I give you credit for honesty and willingness to share your self examination.

    I stand by my original comments. You are a failure at early retirement. Many of the comments seem to take that to mean I am calling you a failure at life. I believe I am in the 96th percentile in terms of net worth in the US and I think you have a higher net worth than me so you are in a higher percentile. You are far from a financial failure and if you have a happy family life, you are rich beyond dollars and cents. Your choice to focus on increasing the monetization of this blog is logical and I can’t fault it.

    However, I have to point out a few things because I am nothing if not a “glass half empty” type of guy. First, it seems from you never wanted to retire early. You wanted to negotiate a severance from your Wall St. job and then get a job at a tech startup. Your failure (there’s that word again) to get a startup job led to your early retirement. That’s the way I read this post. I haven’t parsed the previous posts on your blog to know if the following sentiment is true but my impression is that you quit your job for the express purpose of early retirement. Perhaps I made false assumptions not supported by your written words.

    Next, have you ever considered yourself a FIRE apostle or adherent? Given this post, do you still consider yourself a FIRE adherent? I ask because I associate you with the FIRE movement so I wonder if I attributed this association based on my biases or on something you wrote? It is possible I read some other self-professed FIRE blog that lumped you in with the other FIRE blogs.

    Finally, the most pernicious aspect of this post is that if you don’t feel financially independent, who can? Given your financial assets, if you can’t feel comfortable with early retirement, can anyone feel confident with their financial planning if their goal is FIRE?

    1. Good to hear from you. I’ve actually heard your feedback from many people, and just used your comment as a great example of what I’ve been hearing since I published my post, focusing on entrepreneurship.

      Not sure on FIRE adherent etc. I’ve always just done my own thing and tried to do the best I can based on the situation at hand.

      Everybody has different engines, motivations, desires, and living standards. Everybody has to live their life how they see fit. They can’t mold their life after me unless they’re exactly like me. And I do plan to change how I chronicle my journey as it does seem to upset people.

      I do hope that you and others continue to point out my failures so I can have less blind spots and work on things to get better. I really appreciate it!

    2. re: “Given your financial assets, if you can’t feel comfortable with early retirement, can anyone feel confident with their financial planning if their goal is FIRE?”

      Have you ever read ournextlife.com or millennial-revolution.com? Tanja Hester at ONL has a very well thought out post about their “retirement phases”. Wanderer (aka Bryce Leung) at M-R has posts discussing building a “yield shield” and keeping a “cash cushion”. M-R also has a whole investment workshop series of posts. AND … both ONL and M-R have recently published books: “Work Optional” by Tanja and “Quit Like A Millionaire” by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung. While I haven’t personally read either of these books, they have received good reviews.

      I think a person can feel confident with their financial planning IF they have the right mindset, self discipline, and do not succumb to lifestyle inflation despite changing life circumstances. Of course, what good is a plan if you don’t replan a gazillion times??? At least you have a plan. As the old saying goes, no one ever plans to fail, they just fail to plan.

      1. Not sure if you are aware, but Tanya Hester is childless and they never share any of their financials so readers have literally no idea how much they are worth, how much they made, and how much they have in retirement. It’s very smoke and mirrors with her.

        Bryce and Kristy are also childless. They live on around $30,000-$40,000 a year, don’t own property, and live very frugally while back in Toronto.

        Most of us want families or at least a higher standard of living. We already lived their lives growing up and traveling around.

        1. Yeah, we have a very different lifestyle. Are used to be in their lifestyle during my teenage years and 20s.

          But life just moves on. I am really looking forward to raising a family to the best of my ability.

  44. Kevin A Moore

    I have always struggled with the FIRA discussion. Seems like most involved don’t actually retire. I’m a huge fan of yours and it looks like you never actually retired early. Instead you shifted industries and careers. Certainly developing your own site was different from the Wall Street career you left but you never really stopped working. Your site requires time, effort, attention, worry and work and it’s now worth a lot – which if you sold it, could also provide funds for not working.

    A purist view of Retirement is not working at all or engaging in not for profit hobbies or activities.

    Either way you’re a rock star.

    1. That’s the thing, people think I shifted careers. I think I’ve just been writing and having fun since 2009. But since people think I’ve shifted careers, I’m really going to focus now on trying to make money online.

      Let’s do this!

  45. Stacy Mizrahi

    lol, #14 is the monkey wrench in everyone’s best laid plans! Especially that first year, where it seems like even the most hardened miser cracks and buys the baby new clothes. Seriously folks, that baby doesn’t need the $30 Osh Gosh blazer.

    1. Glad I made you laugh! Best of luck to you on your journey. My hope is to get back to retirement before my girl grows up and no longer wants to hang out with me anymore.

  46. Congratulations on the baby girl. I am very happy for you and your wife. As for “failing at early retirement,” you are obviously being hard on yourself. I think what you failed at is lifestyle inflation and as you pointed out the unwillingness to relocate. Financial you are a terrific provider. Congrats again!

    1. Thank you. Yes, lifestyle inflation has definitely been a little bit faster than I had expected since I did not expect to have two children by 2020.

      I thought with a 65% probability we would have no children. So they have two children it is more like a 10 to 15% probability.

      But that’s life! Got to make the most out of it.

  47. I’ve been following you for almost 10 years now, sometimes more diligently than others. Recently found more time in my life to read, so its nice to be back. Your articles are always great and honestly I look up to you in some manner, you look at the numbers much the same way I do.

    I’m about 10 years younger than you are set a goal of early retirement at 35 with 4 million in assets, granted I do not live on the coast but a somewhat expensive Midwest city (Minneapolis). This is the first year I actually see a clear path to get there in the allotted time and I could honestly careless than ever. When I set that goal years ago I was not fulfilled at work, although killing it from outside appearances.

    That being said I am starting my 5th “start-up”. I quit working for someone in September of 2015 and went out on my own, with no idea how I was going to make money. Some of my “start-ups” I never really gave an honest shot because I lost focus. The others haven’t panned out like I have imagined. The one that has been the most successful was supposed to severe as a time filler allowing me to earn a healthy income while I worked on other ideas. This is the one that actually took off and is set up to have 8 figure revenue in 2020.

    Three years ago I meet a woman who makes me a better person and we are probably going to have children sooner than later. My goal of retiring early has honestly passed, I do not believe that is what I want anymore. I look at my father who has slaved away in corporate america and climbed his way to the top, but there is a reason why most of his 9 children do not speak to him, I am one of the few that does. I do not want to be like him, I don’t think he is happy and he just achieved what might be pinnacle of his career. He told me he wants to work until he has to wheeled in a nursing home.

    My wife and I recently reviewed our goals and set some new ones. One of our new goals is to have dinner at the whitehouse with the president before we turn 70, so we have sometime, lol. Right now our life plan is to continue to work until we do not want to anymore, but enjoy more of the fruits of our labor. In 2020, we plan to travel a ton (African safari and Mediterranean cruise), and already purchased a “fun car”, used AMG. I love how you have reached this point around the same time we have altered our goals.

    1. Glad you found a great endeavor!

      I think you’ll find children to be amazing. If you know you want them, don’t wait, especially since your finances are good.

      We waited about 3-5 years too long. But better late than never!

  48. Paper Tiger

    Sam, you never failed, you evolved. We make our plans but life influences our steps. This is something where we all have to learn to adjust, adapt and move forward. Retiring early is not nearly as important as achieving financial independence. This has always been a gripe of mine with the FIRE community. RE should not be the end goal. FI should be the focus that, once achieved, enables many options, of which RE is simply one of many paths that now become available to those who have planned well.

    The influence you have had on others really can’t be measured but it is perhaps your greatest achievement to date, other than the birth of you and your wife’s beautiful children. You have the right priorities and now you are taking the steps needed to assure your success in achieving those objectives. No reason to doubt yourself at all; you are a winner and will continue to be so as you steel your mind and set your course.

    God Bless, HNY and thank you for your commitment to FS and your drive to help others achieve their own FI objectives. All the best!

    1. Thank you! I definitely feel blessed. And perhaps miss placed, I have not thought of myself in a very long time. It is due to the believe in myself that I left a well-paying job in 2012. I was either going to stay behind and complain why my career stalled out, or just get on with it and do my own thing.

      Happy new year to you too! Thanks for all your insights over the years. I really appreciate it.

    1. I pray that I live long enough to be a grandfather! Now that would be a true blessing.

      But I also hope that when I’m at that age, I’ll have the energy to want to be involved and help out. I noticed that some grandparents are not that involved.

  49. MoneyWatcher

    Congratulations! Big changes are ahead but it all looks to be for the good. Don’t worry about what other people think you should or should not be doing with your time. It’s your life and you appear to be someone who has a burning desire to be creative. Go create!

  50. Sam,

    I wouldn’t consider what you wrote here to be a success or failure… it is simply life as you live it. We plan for certain outcomes, in your case, early retirement, and then have to adjust accordingly as goal posts move. Now you are responding appropriately as you should, trying to fortify your financial standing.

    You will no doubt continue to learn and evolve as will we, reading about your journey, best wishes for where it takes you.

  51. Financial Freedom Countdown

    I’m assuming that person who left the comment has not been a long time reader. Your previous posts have indicated how much a successful blogger makes in terms of annual revenue so why is that individual now surprised?

    Btw wrt “Taxes went down and the estate exemption amounts went up” isn’t that only temporarily? The TJCA has an expiry date on most of those provisions I believe. I do see estate exemptions at least reducing considering the political rhetoric.

    1. Given a long enough time, tax changes are always temporary. Therefore, to one of my points, when taxes are low, it may be best to try and make as much money as possible until they inevitably go up.

      That golden window has been from 2016 to now, and probably until 2024.

  52. Congrats! Now I understand why your posts lately have been about making more money! It’s just your papa bear instinct at work haha! Good luck with your entrepreneurial endeavors and wish you lots of success in whatever you do next!

  53. I am so sick of the FIRE police and their comments!!!

    What you perceive as your failure is most peoples dream. Quit the 9-5, start a new side hustle, spend the most formative years with your kid, increase your income and net worth, play sports, stimulate your creative side, have the ability to change your goals, and then have the time to enjoy it all. You should be the Wikipedia definition of FIRE success.

    On a side note, congratulations on your daughter. There is nothing in the world like the love that a daughter shows a loving father. You will be a god to her when she is young. Eventually she’ll realize your not a god than you’ll be just another uncool dad. During the latter teenage years your just an asshole. A couple years out of the house she’ll start to realize and be thankful for all the hard work you did to raise her, (Boy does this stage feel good) Not sure what happens after that, but I can hardly wait.

    Thanks, Bill

    1. Hah! Thanks for your support Bill. I do enjoy the Internet Retirement Police and all the criticism that comes my way for putting myself out there.

      For some reason, criticism is like fuel. The more criticism I get, the stronger and more endurance I get. But I also like criticism because it helps me work on my weaknesses.

      I don’t want to go through life too long with my head in the sand.

      I have a plan for when my daughter no longer loves me. I will show her a video montage of dad changing her diaper, feeding her, burping her, bathing her, swaddling her, hugging her, playing with her, reading to her, and loving her for YEARS.

      Then, maybe during that inevitable rebellious time period, she’ll be nice to me again.

  54. I’m leaving the healthcare field after 35 grueling years. Only 5 months to go, and then no more on call. I only half joke about getting a part time job at Home Depot to keep me out of trouble b

  55. purplesquirrel

    Congratulations to both you and your wife on the new baby girl! I’m a regular reader of Financial Samurai. I would love to read a post or a series of posts from both parents’ perspective on your baby preparation process from choosing healthcare providers, budgeting costs, selecting hospitals, pre and post care and care for the mother before and after pregnancy. My husband and I would love to start our own family someday (next 2 or 3 years) and would value this information. I’d like to suggest some ideas for additional content on Financial Samurai as you look to expand reach and business: articles on family planning, financial planning for women looking to achieve financial independence and also have a family to provide for, how to raise productive children, and reviews on baby products. Thank you so much in advance.

  56. Congrats! Having kids has changed my perspective so much, in a good way.
    I recently got FT work for another reason: feeling better. With my chronic condition I wasn’t feeling well so I worked PT for years and we invested in rentals. Now, I’m feeling better and chose a job w reasonable flexibility. I don’t feel trapped. I’m excited to be healthy enough to work more. Also w kids at 8 and 10 we have more bandwidth than before. Accept the changes and savor the adventure!

    1. Right on! Evolve as you see fit. No need to stay static (main point in this post).

      I’m sure there has to be much more freedom as the kids get older, more independent, and wiser.

      Fingers crossed our kids turn out well!

  57. Congratulations to you on another addition! Time for some new math I’m sure.

    Best of luck on the new strategy. I sometimes have reminded people that,
    “If you were less intelligent, you might be happier. But you’re not, so go work that problem until you’re satisfied.”

    You’re far from failing…just maybe sub-optimal (smile).

  58. Ok Sam I just have to comment on this: My boyfriend HAD to retire early because his company was possibly going to file bankruptcy and he would lose his 30 yr pension. He feels he is also a failure because he is only 54 and him being the man he is thinks all men are supposed to work until they are 65. His house is paid off, he has no debt, he is paying for his daughters’ private college and he still feels like a failure. I have tried my best to help him feel better about being retired. I tell him I would love to be retired and just have my days to discover the world and try everything I ever wanted to do. He lives below his means and has enough money to survive the rest of his life. Sam, you have everything you could ever want or need. Sam, when is enough enough??? You need to go over to Chris Reining’s website and read the story of the Mexican Fisherman about having enough. You are so lucky and blessed to be in the situation you are in. There are probably hundreds of people who would like to be in your shoes. And on the case of the ACA, I figure if I have paid into the system, I am allowed to get money out of the system. Believe me, with the amount of taxes we pay here in California (especially for all the people who don’t WANT to work and like to live off the system) I wouldn’t feel bad at all for getting a subsidy for healthcare, in fact I can’t wait for the day (3 years) that I retire early and get close to free healthcare (for me I only need $25k per year to live on, once my house is paid off). So please don’t feel like a failure. You should be very proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished. And learn to know when enough is enough. Good luck with the new baby girl. Also, my boyfriend says you can call him anytime to talk with him about the “failure feeling” for being retired early. Here’s to your New Year!

    1. Sorry to hear your boyfriend’s situation. Getting pushed out is never the ideal way to leave work. I can see how he’d be upset with such a situation.

      Perhaps his situation and my situation are different? I feel great with the way I left my firm b/c I proactively negotiated a severance package to go do something else. I felt like I had won because I took charge. Being able to take control of a sticky employment situation is absolutely one of the most frequent recurring feedbacks I get from book readers.

      I’m not sure if Chris and my situation are similar b/c I don’t think he has kids? Kids have really motivated me to be a caretaker as I now have three people depending on me. Retiring as a single or childless individual was a walk in the park in comparison!

      I wonder when it will ever be “allowed” for me to want to go back to work. Hmm.


  59. OMG, you have a baby girl, too? Congratulations on the new addition to the family and have an awesome 2020. I’be been semi-retired all these years and running a small home business. There’s nothing better, especially if you like to be by your family. Every solution has its perks (being retired or working a job), so you will need to see what works for you RIGHT now and decide accordingly :)

  60. Great post to get a better insight in your thinking on reaching and staying FIRE.

    This part triggered me: “Living in San Francisco, I had always wanted to see experience startup and tech life. But after a couple years of off and on again consulting, my interest waned, so I stopped.”.

    Because I also work parttime for a startup in The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and man.. There isn’t anything more dynamic, stressful or satisfying than working at a startup! So.. what made your interest go away?

    All the best in reaching your new goals!

    1. People politics. The commute. Learning all that I could have after two years. One startup failed. Another is treading water. Another, Personal Capital, continues to be a long-time partner.

      I think politics may have been the biggest reason.

  61. Congratulations! Wow, you guys did it. Go for 3? :)
    I knew you couldn’t hack it as an early retiree. You have too much drive. Early retirement isn’t a good fit for everyone. I’m surprised you lasted this long. Well, I think you’ll be happier to be more productive and make more money so go for it!
    Good luck in 2020.

  62. Congrats on the baby girl!!! She’ll have you wrapped around her fingers soon, if not already. My son is now 5 and my daughter is almost 2, and for the first year, I wasn’t totally in love with her. She just didn’t sleep much and would wake up every 3-4 hours for food. I like my sleep! :) But now that her little personality has fully come out and entering toddler age, I would not have it any other way! If I could, I’d love to go back to being a stay-at-home dad as I did for my son’s first 1.5 years. It’s not for everyone, but I feel I have an excellent and deep bond with my connection and communication with them in which they like. It’s a blend of sternness, silliness, love, warmth and lots of patience! Cheers and Happy 2020 man! You guys will figure out and just roll with whatever may come!

    1. I hope so Don! The first two years are indeed rough. I just finished a 9 pm – 10 am shift this morning, took a nap, and when I came down at 1 pm, my wife asked me to vacuum! ha. No rest for the weary, especially after writing and publishing this post.

      Patience is everything! HNY!

  63. Definitely not a failure scenario. The goalposts constantly change and you adapt.

    My definition of retirement is going from something you have to do in order to earn money for your living needs to a situation where you do stuff because you love it.

    You should not be penalized because you want to monetize financial samurai. You put a lot of work into it and of course if there is ways to capitalize on it you would be a fool not to.

    1. It definitely is kinda crazy and scary HOW MUCH the goalpost keeps shifting farther and father away. I do wonder whether other people notice / feel this stress as well?

  64. This is a great, introspective post–honest self-evaluation is a rarity, but so important.
    I’ve learned as much from your progression through early retirement as from the personal finance content of your posts.
    Congrats on the baby girl!

  65. I love this post! Why? Because you are so real and open. The only way to really move forward in life is to be in congruent with who we are. That means acknowledging and accepting ourselves at the place we find ourselves on this journey even as we decide to move forward. You have a unique ability to share your thoughts about that journey in a way that is so relatable. The unifying thing about being human is not our particular circumstances because no two of us are exactly alike. So it doesn’t matter if I have $250K in passive income to be able to relate to what you write. What unites us is the feelings we have about who we are and where we are and where we are going. Thank you for sharing that journey!

  66. CONGRATS on the baby, that’s an awesome surprise! Does the Mrs. plan to be home full-time moving forward?

    We just had our third boy on December 20th! Yes, it’s great, but the financial pressure is on too. I have a couple of small plans to increase income for 2020 and beyond. All the best to you and your growing family in 2020!

    1. Congrats to you! Wow, 3! As I’m in the thick of things, I cannot imagine. Right now, we hav 1:1 care, and sometimes 2:1 care with help. The timing works for nap time, diaper changing, etc.

      GL to you in 2020!

  67. Congratulations on the new arrival!! Please don’t feel like a “failure” because you are considering finding another job- that amount for family health care is ridiculous!! We know several people in their late 50s who could retire and live a leaner lifestyle- but are keeping their easy office jobs a few more years because of the health care coverage! One of the has negotiated to work 4 days (every Friday is off ) to have a balance of more time/ keep working!!

    Also, really consider moving to a lower cost area, like Williamsburg Va. The schools are good-people are great and your passive income will stretch much further- and you and your wife both like that area.

    1. Ah, to negotiate a 4-day work week and be able to work from home one or two days would be ideal.

      I love Williamsburg, as I went to William & Mary. But my friends and network are here. To uproot after all we’ve been through (most lately with preschool), would be too much of a PITA.

      Easiest path is to simply make more money.

  68. Congratulations on your new addition! She is beautiful. I am impressed that you were able to keep putting up multiple posts per week in December with a newborn and a toddler! That couldn’t have been easy. Good luck with your life changes in 2020.

    1. Thanks! While in the hospital, I had plenty of time to write given it’s a lot of waiting, cat-napping, assisting, etc.

      I didn’t want to use my kids as an excuse for not writing because I wanted to finish the year strong.

      Nothing good is easy. But good things are rewarding!

      1. I assume Sally to mean that there’s no fluff or lipstick to your posts. It’s truthful and it’s analytical. A good combination imo.

        So although people may disagree with the message or tone, it still evokes a positive emotion when reading your blog posts.

  69. I’m confused to why you believe you need >$300k/year to maintain your lifestyle in SF. Your housing costs are locked down.

    1. There’s more to a budget than just housing. I plan on getting a larger house to accommodate a larger family. Then there are upcoming expenses with two kids.

      I hope one of the takeaways from this post is to NOT think statically.

  70. Hi Sam,

    Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. That is just wonderful.

    I know you know we have a 6 year old girl and we were also blessed with a son who was born in July 2019. Since then I’ve been a stay at home dad and doing some consulting work. The time I’m spending helping with both of the kids is great for my wife as well as wonderful for me. It’s more work but we have the experience from raising the first one under our belt.

    It is great to have both a girl and a boy in the house.

    You don’t have to get back out to work – just keep your business growing. Your time is better spent there.

    Happy New Year and all the best in 2020.



    I do not think you are a failure at all…..I dream to earn $80,000 in passive income. I’ve been diligently reading your posts every morning so I can start investing wisely after pre-tax 401k saving.

    I am very passionate about working moms. Especially moms who have to go back to work after maternity leave. It was the hardest thing for me to do honestly, I did not want to back to work after 3 months. I wanted to go back to work after 1 year. But alas, I could not with both my kids.

    Good luck with your new plan for 2020!!
    I am glad you are not quitting FInancial Samurai. Love your articles.
    Wish you all the best!


    1. Thanks! I think it’s inhumane for mothers to have to go back to work within a couple of months of giving birth.

      I strongly believe in this piece of advice: 9 months to create, 9 months to heal. Ideally, every mother will have at least 9 months to recuperate before having to go back to work. But I understand not everyone can have this option.

  72. Congrats!
    Good luck on your new directions.

    Your blog has been wonderful. I think you underestimate its impact. Don’t abandon it.
    It’s a good idea to try and crest income out of it because it’s doing so much good. It’s a huge achievement.

    I would try leverage your success here and apply for some boards. Boards need people like you that will ask questions and do due diligence. Especially ones who have pension funds that they help to monitor.

  73. Congratulations! Have enjoyed the articles and posts you share (including this one). I don’t think this as being a failure, rather a very valuable insight for us all. Looking forward to reading more. Happy New Year!

  74. Another Reader

    Congratulations on keeping the secret for the last nine months! That’s tough to do in the fishbowl in which you live. All those speculating on your “whining” will now have to shut up! Raising a girl is different than raising a boy and I’m looking forward to reading your take on that.

    1. Wait a minute. I know people have called me a failure, a loser, and out of touch. But a whiner? I’ll have none of that! :)

      I live in an ocean, not to worry!

      All girl-raising tips welcome.

      1. A Different Reader

        I think they meant “winner”. Congrats Sam. Raising both take a lot of work, I think you summed it up with “I will not fail my family.” Never give up. Never, ever, ever give up.

      2. Christine Minasian

        I have 3 teenage daughters. Their moods will make your head spin but they are extremely close to me and my husband. We’ll never be alone in old age (hopefully) as girls do seem to stay close to their parents. Teach her to be smart and not just beautiful, teach her to not put up with sh*t from boys, because boys can be jerks, do not give her a phone until 8th grade (it will be hard since they’re getting them younger and younger), teach her to be educated enough to take care of herself and most of all— try to give her self-confidence. With social media- it is incredibly hard for these girls to not compare themselves to the “filtered” pictures that are posted.

      3. Another Reader

        You are getting a lot of girl-raising advice already!

        In case you don’t frequent a lot of the FI forums and websites, there is a significant amount of discussion out there of the various incarnations of your “$250k/$300k is not enough to live on in an expensive location” article…

  75. Sam,

    I’m a frequent visitor to your site, and casually will comment on posts here and there. Please don’t feel like you failed at early retirement. Hell, look at what you’ve been able to accomplish. Be proud my man! Even if push came to shove and you had go back to the daily grind tomorrow…so what?

    You’ve got your health, your family and you’ve done a great job in your early retirement. Take some solace in that sir. There’s always going to be critics and you know that.


    1. Hi Doug, nice to hear from you. I’m OK being an early retirement failure. I’ve come to terms with it and I’m happy to try again. I think it’s going to be FUN to try and build up enough capital or extra retirement income to hopefully retire again in 2022.

      I also really love my critics and criticism in general. It helps keep me hungry. If everybody just patted me on the back, I’d probably have quit long ago!

      Maybe I’m strange this way, but the more criticism I get, the more alive I feel.


      Related: https://www.financialsamurai.com/youre-rejected-how-i-use-rejection-to-motivate-me-every-single-day/

  76. Congrats on your new baby! How exciting! Kids sure do change everything in so many ways. I wouldn’t call your experiences highlighted in this post as all failures by any means. We all have bumps and twists and turns in our life’s journey. And we learn a lot from them, pivot when needed and grow. I think 2020 is going to be another successful year for you and am looking forward to more great posts on FS! Happy New Year!!

  77. Why retire at all?

    People often hate work when they aren’t good at the “thing” they do. Everyone likes to be the best at something or knowledgeable so they can show up their peers.

    Instead of typical work and jobs, have you thought about expanding or broadening your online empire? A different website under a different topic perhaps?

    Once you leave the regular work/money world it’s hard to go back.

    1. MacArthur Roth IRA Wheeler

      A daughter! That is so awesome. That is truly something to celebrate. I sense custodial ROTH IRAs in the future for both big brother and little sister.

      Congratulations and a Happy New Year to the Financial Samurai quartet!

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