In episode 618, join Rob Walling as he chats with Sam Dogen, the founder of Financial Samurai, which is one of the longest-running and most popular personal finance blogs. Over the last 13 years, Sam has personally written over 2,500 essays along with a Wall Street Journal Bestselling book. We talk about achieving financial freedom, money mindsets, and relentless execution.
Topics we cover:
- 3:12- The 4% Rule
- 4:40- Sam’s alternative approach to the 4% Rule
- 7:25- The FIRE Movement
- 10:16- How to navigate the US health insurance system as an early retiree
- 12:10- Sam’s relentless execution when it comes to running Financial Samurai
- 17:40- How Sam learned about personal finance
- 18:47- How Sam negotiated a severance package despite quitting his investment banking job
- 22:47- Why he runs Financial Samurai as a true lifestyle business
- 26:07- Would Sam sell Financial Samurai for $20 million?
- 27:35- The premise of Sam’s new book
- 28:46- Sam’s mental model for allocating financial assets to generate passive income
Links from the Show:
- Sam Dogen (@financialsamura) I Twitter
- Financial Samurai
- Buy This, Not That
- MicroConf Europe
- Applications for TinySeed’s Fall 2022 SaaS Accelerators Will Open September 12th
- MicroConf Youtube Channel
If you have questions about starting or scaling a software business that you’d like for us to cover, please submit your question for an upcoming episode. We’d love to hear from you.
Rob: We have a time and a place for MicroConf Europe 2022. It’s going to be from November 15th through the 17th at the Intercontinental in Malta. This will be a limited capacity event. It’s going to be smaller than previous MicroConf Europes due to a number of factors. It’s definitely something that if you want to go to Malta, to MicroConf Europe in November, you’re going to want to head to microconf.com/europe for more details and to buy your ticket.
In terms of speakers. I, of course, will be speaking per usual and we have Guillaume Moubeche, he’s the founder and CEO of Lemlist, which is a company that has bootstrapped to eight figures in ARR. Hope to see you in Malta from November 15 through the 17th, that’s micrococonf.com/europe.
Welcome back once again to Startups for the Rest of Us. I’m Rob Walling. This week, I speak with Sam Dogen. He’s the founder of the Financial Samurai, which is one of the longest-running and most popular personal finance blogs or news websites. He writes all the content himself. You’ll actually hear about that in the interview.
He’s written, I believe, 2500 essays/blog posts in the past 13 years. Just an incredible example of relentless execution. He’s also written a book called Buy This, Not That that we dig into. We talked quite a bit about achieving financial freedom personally, about how to think about money, and a lot of really great mindset stuff in this episode from Sam.
Before we dive into that, we get a new review in the Apple podcast from Adarcus. Five stars and they say, “Practical and relatable advice for all entrepreneurs. Startups for the Rest of Us truly educates and inspires with each topic and guest. The show is a must listen for anyone considering stepping into the entrepreneurial space. Please keep up the incredible work.” Thank you so much, Adarcus for that review.
If you haven’t left us a rating, you don’t even need to leave a review. You can go click the five stars and wherever you consume this podcast, we’d really appreciate it, or log in to the Apple podcast. I believe we’re at about 940-something worldwide ratings. You don’t even have to write anything. You can just click the five stars and I would love to get to that 1000-rating mark. With that, let’s dive into my conversation with Sam Dogen.
Sam Dogen, thanks for joining me on the show.
Sam: Hey, Rob, thanks for having me.
Rob: I was mentioned to you offline. I came about your book because of the Tropical NBA podcast. A long-time fan of Dan and Ian. I heard Dan interview you and I was intrigued, so I went and bought the audiobook, as I’m apt to do. People know I’m an audiobook addict. I have almost 900 audiobooks, I think it is in my Audible account.
Buy This, Not That is not one of them. If folks want to jump to the end. Your book is called Buy This, Not That. You’re the Financial Samurai. What I like about your book is that it isn’t a lot of typical advice. I’ve read all the personal finance books, both from the old guard from the 1990s and early 2000s, and then there’s this new wave of bloggers and podcasters talking about it. And you start to hear the same advice over and over, which I think is good, but you have a lot of stuff in your book that I hadn’t heard elsewhere.
I want to kick us off by looking a little bit at the 4% rule. The 4% rule for folks who don’t know, do you want to define it really quickly, like where it came about and what it means? Then I want to talk about your sentiments and mine around it.
Sam: The 4% rule was devised in the 1990s by Bill Bengen, a retirement researcher, who said that if you withdraw at a 4% rate, you will unlikely run out of money for the next 30 years in retirement and that has been a great rule.
The inverse of 4% is 25X. If you can accumulate a net worth equal to 25 times your expenses, you’re financially independent. I don’t agree with the 4% rule at all, not at all, but it’s because I left in 2012 from my day job, so I’m a practicing retiree. I’m not a researcher retiree who has a nice paycheck and a pension. I’m actually living through this.
Then two, since the 1990s, the risk-free rate of return, which is the ten-year bond yield, has come down from 5% to 6% to now 2.8%. Back in the 1990s, when he came up with a 4% rule, of course you wouldn’t run out of money if you could invest your money at a risk-free rate of return of 5%–6%. Over the past 30 years, many things have changed, including the Internet or more globalization, and the rates have come down. I disagree with the rule and I can tell you what a better rule is.
Rob: Let’s stick into that.
Sam: If you want to achieve financial independence, you need to have, I believe, enough investment income to cover your basic living expenses. You don’t have to work if you don’t want to, you can do whatever you want. Instead of using the 4% rule or the inverse 25X expenses, use a multiple off of your income. If you use a multiple off of your income, you cannot cheat your way to financial independence, which is what I see a lot of people do.
It’s up to everyone to decide what it is they want to do, but you can’t suddenly say, I’m going to slash all expenses down to $20,000 a year, eat ramen noodles, and just drink water, that’s it. Boom, I’m financially independent. If you use a multiple based on income, it always forces you to continuously save and invest as your income grows, which is hopefully for most of us.
Rob: I have similar sentiments around the 4% rule, but I think for different reasons. It’s based on the Trinity study. What they did is they looked back at returns, I think from the 1920s to the 1930s until essentially present day. It was like 80–90 years of returns. They did a Monte Carlo simulation and they said—we’re getting deep in the weeds here. I like this, though—it was like 80% or 90% of the years between those two if you retired that year, then you would last 30 years.
There was a good chunk of years where the sequence of returns would have screwed you. Meaning, if you retired right before 2008–2009, your investments get cut in half or more, you don’t have enough for 30 years. Even then, the percentage they were using was pretty high. It was like 8% or 9%. That’s the average over that long term which sounds great until you look at what expected returns were like.
In 2016, I sold a company. I had a ton of cash come into my personal bank account. Expected returns for stock at that point, the expected ten year returns were 4% because valuations were higher. When I looked at 4% returns of equities, that’s not risk-free, that’s equities. That’s if I was 100% of equities. I was like, there’s no chance the 4% rule makes sense I would say in this day and age, but in this economic climate, that was 2016 or that was 15 or 20 years ago.
When I started looking at what it would take for me to have enough money in the bank to never have to work again? I was like what about the 2.5% rule or the 3% rule? I just started jacking that number down, meaning I needed more cash in the bank. It’s just a mental cushion that I had.
Sam: Instead of 25X expenses, my recommended target is 20 times your average annual gross income. So $100,000 gross income, $2 million and so forth.
Rob: You touched on this earlier, but you said, that way you can’t cheat your way to it. Let’s talk about FIRE real quick and define it. Financial independence, retire early. What is the FIRE movement?
Sam: It’s a movement that I think I helped Kickstart in 2009 during the bottom of the financial crisis. I literally started financialsamurai.com in July 2009 because I thought I was going to get blown out. I lost 35% of my net worth in 6 months that took 10 years to build.
FIRE is basically an idea where you save and invest aggressively so you have enough passive income to cover your basic living expenses. The more your living expenses can be covered, in other words, the better your lifestyle that it can provide. Then there’s just different degrees of FIRE when you go up to a fat FIRE.
I’ve noticed that since 2009, the definition has changed a lot, where there are all these different types of subfires because everybody’s on a different path to financial independence and it’s actually really hard and takes a long time to save and invest your way to generate enough passive income.
You have these new terms that come up to fit someone’s stage which is totally fine because you need the motivation. At the end of the day, you can’t lie to yourself about your own financial situation. I hope people just focus on the basics of enough passive investment income to cover your living expenses.
Rob: That’s an issue I’ve had with FIRE. I don’t know if listeners of the show know this, but if I was not like a startup bootstrapper blogger type podcaster, I would be personal finance. That is my second love—personal finance or investing. I sneak a personal finance or investing episode under the show about every six months. That’s about what the audience will allow.
I’ve struggled with FIRE and you know what? To each their own. If it works for people, that’s great. I struggled with it a lot because when I started hearing about it, I was 35. I had two kids, a mortgage, and frankly, the people who I heard talking about FIRE are like a 24-year-old with really low expenses. This comes back to cheating. It’s like I can live on $15,000 a year because I have two roommates and I don’t run my air conditioner and I only eat Top Ramen.
I’m always like, yeah, I guess that’s not a life I want to live. I’d rather work at that point and not live like that. I kept hearing those stories and I was like this isn’t appealing at all. The idea of retiring early was appealing, but the idea of doing it almost like I’m in prison, I’m living on bread and water. This is dumb. That was always my issue with it.
Now I’m hearing, like you said, there’s regular FIRE which is where people “cheat” their expenses down to $20,000 a year or $30,000 a year, which, look, of course that’s possible, but it’s not a life I think a lot of us want to live. Then there’s fat FIRE, which is where it’s like $100,000 or $150,000 a year. Whatever I need to live. I just need a lot more money saved. Then Barista FIRE, I saw in your book, I’d never heard that term, but it’s basically where you keep some type of side hustle. Is that the idea? Or do you still have income coming in from a day job type thing?
Sam: Well, the idea is that you work, let’s say at Starbucks, you’ll get healthcare insurance. Right now, my family pays $2200 a month in unsubsidized health care insurance because we don’t have a job. That’s the idea, to get some income going, and to have that healthcare benefit.
Rob: That is a crying shame and it’s something that, if you’re not in the US, you don’t realize how catastrophic our health insurance system is for entrepreneurs. I run TinySeed. We funded 80 entrepreneurs, 80 companies, I’ve invested in 20 others. I’ve over 100 companies invested and one of the biggest issues with these early stage bootstrap founders is I don’t want to lose my health insurance because it’s $2000 a month to get it. How are we going to fix that? That’s not the topic for today, but do you have any thoughts on that? You’ve obviously been impacted by our health system.
Sam: Strategically, understand that if you have an income that is 400% or less of the federal poverty level limit, you can get subsidized healthcare insurance. What actually happens is a lot of the FIRE folks will actually not have a lot of income. That’s only four times at most from the federal poverty limit. The federal poverty limit per person is something like $13,000–$14,000 per person. Again, that’s the lean lifestyle you would be living if you wanted subsidized health care.
The other solution is, as an entrepreneur, you start your business, you get a group health care plan, and then you deduct that as an expense. If your effective tax rate is 25%, then it’s 25% off let’s say $2000 a month for a family. That’s the way you can use it. It’s an expense, but it’s still a lot of money.
Rob: That’s interesting. I didn’t know any of that. You’re bringing that in. You are obviously someone who’s been doing it. With Financial Samurai, because it started as a blog, are you still actively blogging or do you now have staff that blog on the site?
Sam: No, starting 2009, I’ve written 99% of the content, published three times a week, every single week, without fail, since July 2009. My wife edits my content as well as my father, and she does the backend, the taxes and all that. We try to keep as lean as possible, which is just my wife and me. In that way we don’t have staff, we don’t have to manage anybody. There’s no turnover.
We decided a long time ago to go the lifestyle route versus the big payout route because at the end of the day, why are we doing a business? I wanted to do a business because I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted. I didn’t want to have schedules. I didn’t want to manage people, or get told what to do at all, or count out any shareholders who wanted a meeting or an update. That was our plan.
Rob: That makes sense. Folks who listen to this podcast know that my definition of success or my definition of personal happiness, is having freedom, purpose, and relationships. At any given time in my career, there was a time when I had freedom and I had sold a company and I was working on an autopilot cash flow business, bringing in $30,000 a month. I was totally free to do whatever I wanted and I was incredibly bored.
I didn’t have a purpose. I lost my professional purpose, which is something that I need. I need to be learning. It’s a personality thing. Then relationships, I think, are self explanatory of healthy friends and family relationships.
It sounds like you have had freedom for quite some time. Has it ever gotten boring for you? The reason I ask this is because this podcast has run for 615 episodes over 12 years. I started a blog in 2005 that I did for about six years and I stopped because I got tired of it. There are certain things over the years, like I get tired of businesses and I sell them and move on, but that’s a personality thing that’s not everyone.
I’m curious if you’ve had moments where you’ve thought, I’d love to work on something new or I want to do something else. Or is it like three posts a week not a grind, and it’s just something you love doing.
Sam: First, I made a promise to publish three times a week for 10 years to see how things would turn out because I generally feel that if you can stick with things long enough, good things will happen. After the 10th year of doing it, I said oh, I can sell the site or just chill out now. And I developed a muscle, just like breathing, where if I can breathe forever, I can write forever.
Three times a week is perfect cadence because it’s about 15 hours a week of writing, so that gives me 2 hours a day of writing purpose. I believe the ultimate amount of time to work a week is about 20 hours.
Once I had my son in 2017, I got more motivated again. I don’t know if it’s like DNA evolution where once you have children, you just get pumped up to want to grind harder and provide more. I decided, you know what? Maybe I’ll make another 15 year commitment to publishing three times a week, because I think that the world is a really competitive and really brutal and beautiful place and I worry about my children.
What if they can’t get into a good school? What if they can’t get a good job? I always thought, well, let me run Financial Samurai until they’re in their teens, teach them everything I know about communication skills—written and oral—marketing, finance, investing, real estate, and give them those tools.
If they are spit out by society, they’re rejected from everywhere, they can’t get a job, at the very least, they can come back to work for dad and maybe take over the business one day. I’m starting to think about the future.
Rob: You don’t just think about the future. You planned a decade ahead and now you’re looking 15 years out. Man, hats off to you because when I plan for the future, I look at next year, maybe two years, definitely, but you committed to three posts a week so let’s just say 150 posts a year for 10 years.
Right from the start, you’re like I’m calling a shot. I’m going to write 1500 posts. I’m committed. That’s crazy. Is that a personality thing? Is that just how you think?
Sam: It’s just commitment. I feel like I’ve seen everybody who has actually succeeded at anything, they just stick with it. I’m not very smart. I didn’t get great SAT scores, they were quite mediocre. I didn’t go to elite private school, but I saw the people who succeeded. I was like wow, you just have to stick with it. You can’t forecast what’s going to happen, but sooner or later, something good will happen if you stick with things.
I plan to live for another 15–20 years. I just want to live until my kids find someone that loves them as much as I love them and then maybe I can die and then be peaceful. During that time, I might as well work on Financial Samurai and teach them what I know because I think that’s our duty as parents.
Robb: That’s crazy. How old are your kids? You have a five year old and a?
Sam: Five-and-a-half and two-and-a-half. That’s why I think 15 or 20 years, hopefully they’ll understand the waste of life by then.
Rob: That’s cool. I have two kids as well, 16 and 12. When they were 5–7, I started showing them—I don’t know if you’ve heard of them—these videos on YouTube are called Cha-Ching. There are a whole series of cartoon videos that animated to music. Check it out.
It’s great. They’re 2–3 minute videos and there are 10 or 15 of them. Each one covers entrepreneurship and one covers just money, earn, save, spend, and donate. There are just all these fun things.
Anyway, I’m saying it for you, but you already know all this stuff. For folks who are listening who have kids, it was a fun thing at once or twice a day, and I love the idea. I didn’t have money education as a kid. Certainly, they didn’t teach anything in school, and my parents were busy working and just trying to pay the bills. All the money education I got was on my own. I sought out some magazines. This is before the Internet existed, but realistically, it was like Money Magazine and whatever personal finance books I could scrape from the library.
What was your path? Did you have a mentor, someone like a parent who taught you or did you go out and just self educate?
Sam: My father was my mentor. I remember I think it was my sophomore year in high school, he sat me down at the breakfast table, showed me the back of a newspaper, and educated me on what these tickers were and what the movements were. That was really the start of it.
I always wanted to be wealthy because I had friends—poor friends and rich friends—but the rich friends always were the entrepreneurs with the mansion in the hills, with the nice cars, and the chauffeur. I was like, wow. Then my poor friends were just minimum wage laborers, so the dichotomy was really eye-opening when I was growing up in Malaysia as a middle school student.
I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t have the courage, I guess, and then the lack of options because once I graduated from college, I was able to get the job at Goldman Sachs in New York City, which was a top investment bank at the time, and it still is. It was too risky for me to say no, especially after 55 interviews.
I was like, okay, I’m going to go the tried and true route. Try to go for it for 10, or 15, or maybe 18 years. My original plan was to grind it out until age 40 and then have enough capital and have enough courage to try to be an entrepreneur and do something on my own.
In the end, I ended up leaving several months before my 35th birthday because I was able to negotiate a severance that paid for 5–6 years of living expenses, which was something like in other words, being able to work until age 40.
Rob: Tell me more about that because you mentioned that a few times, I think, in the interview and maybe in your book. When you quit, you don’t get a severance. How did this happen? What was the story?
Sam: Fundamentally, please understand that if you quit, yeah, you don’t get a severance and you’re probably not eligible for unemployment benefits for 26 weeks. What I saw during the global financial crisis was rounds after rounds of layoffs and then some of my friends were laid off and I said, how are you? Is everything okay? Can I try to get you a job where I work? They said, I’m okay and they talked to me about their severances.
I was like, oh, you got two to three weeks a year in severance. Two to three weeks per year you worked as severance. I was like oh, that’s pretty good, that’s not bad. You can actually take it easy for six months or eight months, you’re good.
I finally developed an idea in my head in October 2011 because I was sick of work by that time. I said, if I could negotiate a severance, in other words, just get laid off and get that severance check and all my deferred compensation of stock and cash and this private investment we were forced to make at the bottom of the market, I’m out of here.
That severance was a lot of money and it could pay for at least five years of normal living expenses, so I negotiated with my manager. I said look, I’ve been here for eleven years. I found my replacement. I’m going to provide a seamless transition for me to leave and to train my employee over the next three months so the clients are good, you won’t see a drop off in revenue. I was selling myself on the way out.
Most people sell themselves to try to get the job. I was trying to sell myself on the way out and I said, look, you can save on my base salary, compensation, and my bonus because you’re going to pay the junior guy and the business will rebound and do well.
At the end of the day, they said, okay, let’s do it. If you don’t want to be here, we understand, thank you for your service. Let’s do it.
Rob: Wow, that’s crazy. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.
Sam: Here’s the thing. If you plan to quit your job or retire early or start a business, there’s no downside in trying to negotiate a severance and try to raise your hand for the next layoff. I think most people don’t do that because most people don’t actually think about the company. If you leave your company with a two weeks notice, you’re leaving your colleagues and your boss in a lurch. It takes a while to find someone, to train someone. It’s actually not being thoughtful by just quitting.
Then two, I think people are afraid of confrontation and maybe it’s why people break up over text messages or they ghost people. They ignore it because they feel bad trying to come up with a win-win scenario. Please always think there’s a better solution to any problem that you have.
Rob: On the entrepreneur side, because obviously you run Financial Samurai, you’re a solopreneur, it sounds like with your wife and she’s helping out and you don’t have employees, you said that you made the choice deliberately to be a lifestyle entrepreneur versus on this show, I often talk about ambitious bootstrappers and lifestyle bootstrappers. Both are great paths depending on what you want to do.
In fact, I was a lifestyle entrepreneur for several years and then I got a little bored and I decided to get ambitious and then that was really stressful, actually. I’ll tell you, a lot of people who I see make the lifestyle choice, they get bored with it and they switch later after three, four or five years, but you haven’t done that.
I’m curious what made you decide to go this route? I think you touched on some of it earlier, but why do you think that you’ve been able to stick with it all these years and been happy with that path?
Sam: Well, I think the first reason was when I joined Goldman Sachs in 1999 at the age of 22, Goldman went public that year, so the partners ended up making tens of millions of dollars and the VPs were making maybe $5 million or $10 million of windfall, and they didn’t seem happier to me.
I knew that if I worked for 10, 15, or 20 years, I might have a chance to get to that level of wealth one day. I saw right away that, okay, maybe a lot of money doesn’t buy a lot more happiness. I saw divorces, I saw stress, I saw people working until 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM and I was getting in at 5:30 AM and leaving after 7:00 PM already, and I was feeling crushed. It gave me that perspective right after college that okay, maybe money, greater money doesn’t buy me more happiness.
When I left in 2012 at age 34½ I achieved my enough number, which was $3 million and I was able to generate about $80,000 a year in passive income, which provides for a normal lifestyle for one person, maybe two people in San Francisco, which is a very expensive city. The drop in active income by about 80% was tough for the first couple of months, but the freedom that I was able to achieve afterwards, to be able to go for a walk in the park, no more stress, no more commuting.
I started getting gray hairs at 33 and all those gray hairs went away by age 35 because my stress went away and my chronic pain went away, my lower back pain, my sciatica, all this stuff. I was like, wow, the health benefits alone of living a more peaceful and less stressful life was worth it.
I really enjoy writing and connecting with people. If you think about it, Financial Samurai since it’s been around since 2009. A lot of people have grown up with Financial Samurai now. The readers that started in 2009 or 2010 have told me about the families they started, the wealth they have built, and the things they’ve been able to do. It’s been such a great and rewarding journey that I just don’t want to quit.
Rob: It’s really impressive. The term that I use on this podcast is relentless execution. It’s someone who shows up and ships every day, every week, for years and years, and you have obviously done that. The fact that you are still coming up with topics, you literally must have written thousands of blog posts.
Sam: Yeah, 2500, probably over.
Rob: Yeah, it’s really impressive.
Sam: Life is life every day, if you think about it. If you just look at your, let’s say, Twitter feed or your newsfeed, there’s something crazy going on every single day. I don’t know. I think there’s always something interesting to write about and to analyze and it’s just a fun journey.
I have friends who are worth a lot, hundreds of millions of dollars. I know a couple of billionaires and I don’t see their lifestyle being that much better, except for private jets and mansions. If you’re friends with them, you just say, okay invite me on the jet next time you go to Hawaii. Why not? I’ll mansion sit for you.
Rob: Realistically, then someone comes to you and says, I want to give you $20 million or $30 million for Financial Samurai. Would you do it?
Sam: I wouldn’t do it because let’s say it’s 20 million so after taxes, that’s like $12 million, maybe it’s $10 million. That sucks. I mean, having to sell something you love and then create economic waste through taxes is the worst. I studied economics and taxes are the worst. It’s such a drag.
I’ve done it for so long that I just feel like, man, I sold it just for money? It’s part of who I am. If you love your baby, you never sell your baby. If you do sell your baby, maybe it’s because you really didn’t love your baby or you stopped loving it.
Let’s be brutally honest. I’ve had many people in the personal finance space sell their sites and why did they do that? Because they wanted the money more than they wanted to do what they wanted to do. That’s just the way it is. That’s capitalism.
I feel like Financial Samurai is like my second or third child. My first child, actually. I just want to see it grow up. If it can help people. I’m not writing stuff to SEO optimized to make affiliate rep, that is soul sucking to me which is why you don’t see that.
What you see on Financial Samurai are real stories that pertain to real people in every aspect of their life over the course of their lives. That’s a key point of Buy This, Not That as well, is to tackle some of life’s biggest dilemmas so you can move forward with confidence and less regret.
Rob: Yeah, the book title, Buy This, Not That, what is that referencing?
Sam: It’s referencing that we can’t make every single choice possible. Every choice we make is an opportunity cost of not making the other choice. The longer you live, the more joy you will have, but the more regret you will have for making suboptimal decisions.
As I’ve grown older—I’m 45 now—I’ve seen a lot of these things where, man, I wish someone could have told me why you should make this decision over that. I provide a lot of examples, such as whether you should join a startup or an established firm in your 20s or 30s, whether you should live in an expensive city or a lower cost city to save money, or whether you should marry for love or marry for money, or have children sooner rather than later. These are big life events that I wanted to address because money is just a means to an end.
Once you have enough money to cover your basics, life is about living those decisions. I want to help people stop saying, if I knew then what I know now, my life would be better. The simple solution to do that is to read and learn and listen from someone who’s been there before.
Rob: I want to circle back to something you said earlier. You said you had assets of I think it was $3.5 million, and you were making $80,000 a year in passive income off those. Do you want to walk us briefly through? If there’s a listener out there who has a few million saved, like your mental model of how you allocated assets and how you were able to pull passive income to that extent?
Sam: It was $3 million and about $80,000. I worked in equities and investment banking. What I did was I tried to save 50% of my after tax income every single year and diversify into real estate because I was already tied to the equities market with my stock and career.
I try to invest as much as possible into real estate, because real estate is a real asset that just doesn’t go poof in valuation overnight, loses 30% of its value because it missed some earnings estimate by 5%, whatever. I wanted a real asset that generated a higher yield, that was less volatile.
About 50% of my current passive income, which is greater than $80,000 now, comes from physical real estate, over four rental properties, and online real estate in terms of real estate crowdfunding private real estate deals. About 25% comes from dividend stocks, and then about 7% comes from bonds like tax-free municipal bonds. The rest comes from savings, CDs, and private equity distributions.
You’ve got to understand where you are in your business and how you want to diversify. The key is, once you achieve a wealth that you’re comfortable with, that you’re happy with, where you can just kick back or leave completely, you don’t want to lose it. You want to invest in a risk-adjusted manner and a risk-appropriate manner based on your goals and your lifestyle.
I’m relatively risk-averse because I have two kids. My wife doesn’t work, I don’t have a job, but of course, I have Financial Samurai and my investments. Unlike perhaps most entrepreneurs who plow back their retained earnings into their company, I plowed back my retained earnings into investments so I can have more money soldiers, so that one day, if Google says Financial Samurai, you stink. I’m okay. I’ll be okay.
Rob: Very cool. Sir, congrats on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller. I know that this happened. That’s awesome.
Sam: Thank you so much.
Rob: Again for folks listening, the book is Buy This, Not That. It’s available in Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s, all the bookstores you would go to. Obviously it’s financialsamurai.com and then on Twitter, a lot of our folks are there, it’s @financialsamura.
Sam: You can go to financialsamurai.com and then if you want to get the book, it’s financialsamurai/btnt and you can get all the details. On Twitter, it’s @financialsamura without the I, because I started it in 2009 and it didn’t have enough space for the I, so I just was like, all right, whatever. I just stuck with it. I guess I could change it, but whatever.
Rob: That’s so funny. I’ve had a few friends who changed their Twitter handles over the years. Well, sir, thanks so much for joining me on the show.
Sam: Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.
Rob: Thanks again to Sam and for you for coming back every week for another dose of tasty goodness from Startup for the Rest of Us. If you have not checked out our YouTube channel, I’m releasing a weekly video at this point, it’s microconf.com/youtube.
In the past few weeks, I’ve covered topics like SaaS sales funnels, micro-SaaS products, are they actually profitable? Winning go-to market strategy, two things investors look for in a SaaS business, and many other topics that are related to building, launching, and growing SaaS companies. Check it out, microconf/youtube if you haven’t already. This is Rob Walling signing off from episode 618. See you next week.