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Who Is Financial Samurai? In 2009, the world was falling apart, and my net worth was taking a beating. I thought it would be a good idea to start a personal finance site to help myself and others make sense of chaos. After all, I had spent 10 years working in the finance industry, got my MBA from Cal, invested and saved aggressively, and still got financially rocked!

Since the financial crisis, more than 25 million visitors have stopped by Financial Samurai to learn, share, and grow. Financial Samurai delves deeper into investing, real estate, retirement planning, career strategies, money philosophy, and more, so we can all achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later. Every article is written based off first hand experience to provide the most helpful insights possible. Money matters are too important to be left up to pontification.

Financial Samurai has been highlighted in major publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal Online, Business Insider, The Consumerist, The Sydney Herald, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times. I’ve also done interviews with AARP, Newstalk Radio 910AM (KKSF San Francisco) andBloomberg.

If you are looking to get an honest and in-depth review of the best financial products to help you achieve financial independence, take a look at my Top Financial Products page. I’ve literally spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing, and using these products to make sure I only highlight the best products for my users. I’ve cut through the clutter so you don’t have to.

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About The Writer – The Long Version

After thirteen years of working in Corporate America, money ceased to be a major driving factor. Instead, living absolutely free became my biggest motivation. I fantasized about what it would be like to just write, spend time with family, and travel, with little financial worries. Three years after starting this site in 2009 I took the leap of faith.

Leaving a healthy paycheck was not easy, but I knew if I didn’t take the risk then, I would probably never leave. I actually planted the seeds for my early exit at the very beginning of my career. Starting with my first job at a investment bank out of college in NYC, I saved over 50% of my after tax income every year because I knew I wouldn’t be able to last a lifetime working 70+ hours a week. I used my savings to buy rental properties, stocks, bonds, and CDs in order to build passive income streamsso I might one day be more free.

Things were going well until the 2008 financial crisis hit, wiping away 35% of my net worth in just 12 months. Financial Samurai began as a cathartic way to make sense of all the carnage and ease the pain. By the time I decided to leave Corporate America in 2012, I was generating about $80,000 in passive income, while Financial Samurai had grown to provide an additional source of income as well.Starting a blog changed my life for the better and I recommend everybody do the same to at least build your brand online. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine not having to work a day job after age 34 due to this site and my investing efforts.

Life speed accelerates because the older we get, the less time we have left to live. Getting our financial lives in order early allows us time to fully live our dreams. This site shares my strategies for achieving financial freedom as soon as possible. I also share my ideas for building wealth through real estate,stocks and bonds, private equity, and online entrepreneurship.

I truly believe there is unlimited upside to building wealth. The key is to adopt an abundance mentality!

Philosophy

“You will regret more of the things you don’t do, than the things you try,’ said my friend just days before he got laid off at the age of 56. He was the mailman at my old place of employment who lamented about not taking enough risks in his life.

Any time you can combine generating real value with having fun, you’ve hit a grand slam. I write because I enjoy the experience. Readers and your comments are what make running this site a blast. Dialog matters; the more we communicate with others, the more complete we become ourselves.

Sushi (surprise, surprise) is one of my favorite foods, and I can watch college football and basketball all day long. I’m an avid USTA 5.0-ranked tennis player who would play five days a week if my knees didn’t break down. To try and make a difference in some kids lives and help out the community, I began coaching high school tennis in 2017. There is a mental-to-physical connection in everything we do, so I try to balance all the blog work with keeping active and fit.

I used to own a luxury automobile; now I own a 2015 Honda Fit named Rhino for less than $20,000. It’s funny how I no longer care about flashy things the older I get. It’s all about Stealth Wealthnowadays.

I’ve made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate and the stock market. As a result, I’ve learned the hard way that rebalancing and having a proper asset allocation of stocks and bonds is important to make sure that my risk exposure is not too great.

I now keep track of all my finances using the free online wealth manager from Personal Capital. Personal Capital has been fantastic for helping me monitor my net worth, manage my expenses, and cut down on exorbitant mutual fund fees in my 401K. They’ve got the best Retirement Planning Calculator because they use your real data to calculate what your retirement cash flow will be like.

Everybody should link up their accounts and see their results. Here’s my snapshot.

Planning for retirement when paying for private grade school

Personal Capital sample retirement planner calculator. Are you on track? Click to find out.

If all I could ever earn was $80,000 (gross) a year, I’d be content; I really don’t need a whole lot to be happy. Without debt it doesn’t take much to live a comfortable life. After all, there are only so many things one can buy and experience. While all this may be true, however, I still make the argument that $200,000 – $250,000 a year per individual and $250,000 – $300,000 per household is the ideal income for maximum happiness. Studies show that the poor and rich are equally happy, so why not strive to be rich?

Education is absolutely the key to freedom. When I graduated from The College of William & Mary in 1999, I swore I’d never go back to school again. Two years after working in finance, the dotcom meltdown happened and things weren’t so fun any more.

Under those sobering circumstances I changed my mind about school and proceeded to earn my MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 2006. And I discovered something funny: school actually becomes enjoyable when you focus on the learning and stop worrying about grades. Work is also more fun if you don’t need the money!

LATEST INVESTMENT FOCUS

For 2017 and beyond, I’m looking to deploy capital more surgically in higher returning real estate investments in the heartland of America. The coastal cities have become too expensive, and I no longer want to own more physical property given I have three properties in San Francisco, one property in Lake Tahoe, and one property in Honolulu. The property taxes alone are a killer. Instead, I want to simplify life and not have to deal with tenants.

The most attractive investment opportunities are in the South and the Midwest through real estate crowdsourcing platform RealtyShares. They are the largest, and most trustworthy platforms having done over 400 deals valued at more than $250M across their platform so far. The CEO is a fellow Berkeley MBA alumni, and I’ve met with him and a bunch of their staff given they’re also based in San Francisco.

The great thing about real estate crowdsourcing is that you can invest in projects with potentially 8 – 15% annual returns with as little as $5,000. If I wanted to buy another SF property, I need to come up with a $220,000 downpayment since the median home price here is ~$1.1 million and borrow $880,000! That’s too risky of an investment to make after this long bull run where prices have finally started softening on the coasts.

RealtyShares debt investment opportunities

Example of closed Realtyshares debt deals. You can see the open deals on their platform.

I’m excited about the transition to a higher interest rate environment in 2017 due to higher rates of return for income paying asset classes like bonds, REITs, and real estate. Real estate sponsors are forced to offer higher returns for its investors to stay competitive since interest rates have risen post Trump’s election. Real estate crowdsourcing, REITs, and bonds are all on my focus list.

You can check out the RealtyShares platform for free and see what type of offerings they currently have. I’ve currently invested $250,000 in their real estate crowdsourcing fund to diversify into much more attractive Red states with higher cap rates. My goal is to build a $500,000 non-coastal city property portfolio by end of 2019.

ABOUT THE WRITER – THE BULLET-POINT VERSION

* A 13 year finance veteran with an MBA from Cal Berkeley who’s been writing about personal finance for over seven years. Got my undergrad degree at William & Mary studying Economics and Mandarin.

* Will never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill. What a shame to never succeed because I didn’t see things through to the very end.

* If asked to define “happiness” in one word, I would choose the word “progress.” Progress in our relationships with loved ones, progress in our occupations, and progress in our spirituality all create happiness.

* Loved writing in high school and was the teacher’s pet in AP English. Sadly, I never took another writing course again.

* Have lived in seven different countries and been to roughly 60 countries as of January 20, 2017.

* Used to speak three languages pretty well. Now I only speak Mandarin and English. My Spanish is horrible, despite 8 years of learning.

* Overcame severe asthma as a kid and can now play three hours of tennis at a time. Yet, I still can’t run five miles straight without hacking up a lung.

* Was a 16 handicapper in golf for years until I made it a goal to break 10 one year. I’m currently sitting at 9.8.

* US Tennis Association 5.0 ranked player for the past three years(top 1.2%)

* Entrepreneurship fascinates me, but I turned down a golden opportunity in China upon graduation to work for a golden opportunity in NYC. Sixteen years after graduation, I’ve now come full circle and have built a lifestyle business with Financial Samurai.

* Series 7 and Series 63 registered from 1999-2014. Finally expired after not working full-time for a registered broker-deal since 2012.

* Can happily function on just six hours of sleep (or less) per day because I’m so excited to wake up and see what happened in the world while I dreamt.

* Achieved my goal of making ~$211,000 a year from various passive income investments.

* Fiercely loyal and will always take care of the people who helped out.

* The regrets I will have will be the things I don’t do.

* Wrote a 150-page book in its second edition for 2017 entitled, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. The book empowers employees with their legal rights and provides a framework for how to negotiate a healthy severance package. Never quit, get laid off instead.

FINANCIAL SAMURAI SITE STATISTICS

Financial Samurai Traffic Statistics

Over 1 million organic pageviews a month

* 30,000 – 40,000 pageviews a day on average.

* Over 1,000,000 organic (no advertisement) pageviews a month.

* Reader demographics: Majority are ages 25-45, college educated, top 20% income earners, 30% with net worth of over $500,000. Roughly 30% are accredited investors. Here’s a comprehensive post highlighting the Financial Samurai Reader Demographic based off over 80 surveys conducted since 2012.

* Started in July, 2009.

CONTACT ME FOR

* TV, radio, or written interviews. I’m always happy to help a reporter or broadcaster out.

* Advertising opportunities. See the FS Reader Demographics post above.

Email: financialsamurai at gmail dot com (Publicists, please DO NOT add me to your blast lists)

Regards,

Sam Dogen – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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