10 Questions with the Financial Samurai

Lifestyle Design

I love studying how people design their lives:

  • Some folks make all kinds of financial mistakes and never recover. A lot of these people never realize that they were doing anything wrong either:

Why am I 78 and working at Walmart???

  • Others eventually figure out that it’s a bad idea to spend an amount equivalent to their annual salary on a sport utility vehicle. With any luck, they come to this realization early in their career so they don’t have to spend their senior years at a big-box store.
  • Finally, there is a rare group of people who seem to have figured out the whole game in the womb. These people are killing it in life.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.30.38 PMSam from Financial Samurai is in the last group and I’ve been fascinated with his story since the day I discovered his blog. He worked his ass off and secured one of the most sought after jobs in the world. Despite working at Goldman Sachs, he continued to live like a college student; sharing a studio apartment with a roommate.

When Sam came back to San Francisco, he continued his frugal ways, sharing a small apartment with a guy who worked at a hamburger restaurant.

Perhaps the best part though, is that Sam is a nice guy who isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes. I’ve met plenty of people who haven’t accomplished anywhere near what Sam has and still believe that they can be arrogant, egotistical jerks. Mrs. 1500 and I met Sam a couple years ago and he was grounded and pleasant. If he has a super-sized ego and is secretly plotting a volcano-based weapon to take over the world, he is doing a very good job of hiding that side of his personality.

All of that was my long-winded introduction to Sam’s 10 Questions.

Today is the 36th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Hit it Sam!

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Tell us about your Blog

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
Financial Samurai is a personal finance site with a lot of heart and soul. I love to write with emotion, which helps make the content more interesting. As the saying goes: No tears in the writer. No tears in the reader. I hope my readers can tell how much I put into my articles. They take anywhere from 3 – 10 hours to write!

I spent 13 years of my career working in the finance industry, got my MBA from Cal (Go Bears!), and have worked for almost 17 years building multiple income streams in order to have the option to never have to work again. For 2016, my passive income generates roughly $175,000 a year through real estate, P2P lending, dividend income, CD interest income, and alternatives. My goal is to get to $200,000 a year in passive to semi-passive income. It costs a lot to live in SF or NYC. For example, the median home price in these two places is 5X greater than my passive income goal!

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
One reader at a time! I enjoy making people think and writing articles that I want to read. I’m a strong proponent of Stealth Wealth. I’m looking for people who have their heads on straight, and are figuring out a way to optimize their lifestyles now. I strongly believe the large majority of people who work hard, show kindness to others, and are self-aware will end up with more money than they need when they retire.

What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
To last for as long as possible! If we can speak forever, we can write forever. I started Financial Samurai to help make sense of the chaos and destruction in 2009 and also help better connect with my family. It is so fun and rewarding to re-read old articles during different times to bring back memories.

I’ve witnessed many sites over the past seven years sell due to the temptation of money. My goal is to last for at least 10 years until I ever consider selling Financial Samurai. I think 10 years is a respectably long enough time before deciding to move on. But if I ever do sell, I want to always be involved in contributing to the FS community.

I highly recommend everybody start their own website today. Own your brand online and build a platform. You never know what could happen once you plant your own flag online.

What post are you most proud of and why? Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Have you kept your Resolutions?

This week, I’m asking you about your resolutions. I hate resolutions, but kind of made one anyway to get in better shape. So far, I haven’t fallen off the cart. Well, sort of. This made it into the cart for our Superbowl party and is not consistent with my goals:

You ever do something that you know is a bad idea, but you do it anyway? This is one of those times. I'll pay dearly for this decision in about 8-12 hours.

You ever do something that you know is a bad idea, but you do it anyway? This is one of those times. I’ll pay dearly for this decision in about 8-12 hours.

First, last talk about last week when I asked where you people buy all of your clothes. Most of the stuff I buy seems to last no longer than a year or two. However, some of you have clothes that have lasted decades. I need to know where to get decent quality clothes.

I concur with Reader Frankie’s Girl. I love thrift stores too, but not for certain items:

Shoes, socks and underwear are bought new from regular stores (like Target, but usually hit their clearance or wait for the big clothing sales); bras are from an online shop since I have a hard to find size.

I completely agree with Christina. I love pockets and I don’t care how nerdy I look. Give me pockets or give me disorganization!:

Also: I demand more pockets in my clothes. Fake out pants pockets are the bane of my existence.

Reader Beth explained what happened to all of my underwear:

Clothes that have stretch in them will eventually stretch out, especially if washed and dried with heat.

Alexander from Cash Flow Diaries lives dangerously:

I haven’t bought clothes in forever but my fiance buys me my clothes now. Ill just wear whatever she buys for me it doesnt really matter to me. If it makes her happy, it makes me happy!

Reader Barb has a suggestion that I’m going to take:

Duluth Trading Company for jeans, especially if you liked the old heavy-duty Levi’s that they just don’t make anymore. What’s up with tissue-paper thin jeans anyway?

Hannah has a question for me and then makes a good point:

The first question I have for you is: do you own any clothes that your wife really likes to see you wear? If not, maybe you’re asking the wrong questions. If so, buy clothes from that place again.

I’m fairly confident that Mrs. 1500 likes none of my clothes. Can’t really blame her either. Crappy t-shirts and stained pants send a statement.

Also, I know you’re setting out to get buff, but I think you are not naturally a big guy, so you really need to think about creating an appropriately intimidating wardrobe for 6-7 years from now when you have teenage daughters. You need something that signals to potential suitors, “I’m a pretty cool guy, but if you ever hurt my daughter, I have the means to buy many threatening weapons.” Maybe buy a motorcycle jacket.

You are correct in that I have the build of a skeleton wrapped in some skin. I do need to intimidate future boyfriends though. Since I’m not confident in my muscle building potential, do you think some strategic piercings, vulgar tattoos and firearms would do the trick?

Revanche said this:

I think the trick is a combination of getting the best fabrics and treating them as well as you can: wash in cold water, air-dry if possible.

…And it’s true, things from REI do tend to hold up well, so that’s a good place to look. I also buy from Nordstrom (mainly on sale) because they, like REI, stand by their products so I can take anything back if it falls apart. I wouldn’t do that if I’d worn it hard for ten years but I do expect things to last more than a year and a half!

Air dry and REI it is from here on out!!

The Roamer is right. I have few clothes which causes me wear the crap out of the ones that I have:

You know I was thinking about this and realized maybe you own a small quantity of clothes so it gets a lot more wear and tear.

Elizabeth had a suggestion that is probably correct, but I dread a bit:

I still wear Northface and Columbia brand clothes I bought at various places more than a decade ago.

For most of my life, I’ve avoided certain fancy brands, no matter what I thought of the quality. Here is why: Continue reading

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10 Questions with Reaching Our Balance

Today is the 35th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

This week’s answers come from Jason from Reaching Our Balance. I love Jason’s openness and transparency. He’s been through some rough times which you can read about in:

Jason, I’m not sure which is worse; a failed cross-country relationship or that horrible Ford LTD!

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Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.

My blog is my personal journey about attempting to find “balance” in my financial life. Balance has always been hard for me. Either I totally focus on work (which is a lot of the time) or I gravitate toward leisure and laziness. I am trying to manage paying off debt, saving for retirement, and having a good life with my family. My blog isn’t all that great, but I found when I read a lot of personal finance blogs that they were great, but didn’t talk about things from someone in my perspective: a teacher with a lot of debt. So my blog really became a beginning of trying to find a little niche in the personal finance world.

Since then it has grown into a larger crusade to help students, friends, and family navigate larger financial issues. If anyone can learn from my story I hope the blog helps.

What Goals Do You Have For Your Blog, Short and Long Term? Continue reading

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The 5 Stocks You Must Buy NOW!

A couple people have asked me what happened to the Thursday Rant. It isn’t gone! Tune in next week. Or maybe not; this is sort of a rant…

How did you like that title? Pathetic, swarmy clickbait, right? Absolutely. I threw up in my mouth a little just typing it. This is the nonsense that the mainstream media publishes every day to trick your lizard brain. And some very smart people fall for it.

Don't let the media trick your lizard brain...

Don’t let the media trick your lizard brain…

About a decade ago*, I was talking to a friend about investments. Let’s call him “David.” David is no dummy. He works as a consultant in the computer field and makes huge amounts of money. Really huge; like someone has to come to his home with a dump truck full of greenbacks in the back every week to pay him.

Anyway, he started talking about investments when this gem exited his mouth:

I like the screaming bald investment guy! I watch him on TV every night and I’m going to base my investment decisions on his advice.

Back then, I didn’t have the knowledge that I do now, but deep down I knew that this was a bad idea. I have no idea if he ever followed through with this plan. I’m too afraid to ask.

The 5 Stocks You Must Buy NOW!

One thing I’ve realized is that most investment advice is bad. Really bad. Think about it. The goal of the money media isn’t to make you rich, but to sell ads or products. Here are some statements that get viewers:

  • “Your portfolio will double next year!”
  • “By the end of the decade, you’ll be living in a refrigerator box!!”
  • “The 5 stocks you must buy RIGHT NOW!”
  • “Why your portfolio will make your wife sleep with your boss and give you a rash on your posterior!”

Here is something you will NEVER see:


All hope is not lost. Some people do offer great advice. My friend Jim Collins is one. Another is billionaire Warren Buffett. Buffett’s advice is timeless and applicable to everyone from basketball stars to the Average Joe. Please click over to InvestmentZen to read some of my favorite Buffett quotes and how they apply to You!


*I’m fascinated with the way people use/abuse money and my brain has a special storage area for all of this information. It provides a never ending source of material for this blog.

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Performance Update 37/50: Why I have pictures of Men on my Boxer Shorts (Caution: pics included!)

My main goal is to build a portfolio of $1,120,000 in 1500 days*, starting from 1/1/2013. Every month, I provide an update on my status. Let’s take a look at January.

Before we get to the financial stuff, I have some other things to update you on first.

Let’s start with Bathrooms

I’m very immature and this blog frequently veers into junior-high level humor. I will be talking about bathrooms, but no poop jokes today.

The other good news is that Mrs. 1500 and I have been putting the pedal to the metal with our home remodel. In January, we finished work on all three bathrooms. We built two from scratch and remodeled a 3rd:


And look, the kitchen is almost finished too:


I still owe you more updates on these projects. They are coming.


Adventures in P90x

I’ve been trying to get my ass in better shape. This time, after hearing numerous friends raving about it, I decided to give P90x a try. How’s it going? I knew you’d ask.

It’s one thing to tell you, but that’s stupid. I’m working out, so I need to show you the results (or lack of them). Before/after pictures are the only way to do this honestly and transparently. Also, there is no better motivation than knowing the extreme humiliation that comes with showing you my naked torso. I’m warning you, last chance to cover your eyes.

Here we go: Continue reading

Posted in Performance | Tagged | 62 Comments

Ask the Readers: Where do all you Crazy People buy your Clothes???

This snow sculpture didn't last long either. So much for German engineering.

This snow sculpture didn’t last long either. So much for German engineering.

Mr. 1500 hijacking the series from Mrs. 1500 to ask a question. Your responses from last week told me that I’m doing something wrong in life and I need your help. More on that in a moment.

First, I need to get to some of your responses from last week;s question, What is the oldest garment you own?:

Reader Bobby stated this:

The oldest garments I still own are t-shirts and a pair of Doc Martens. Ramones 1979 or 1980, Rolling Stones Sun Devil Stadium 1981 tour…

Wow, your Ramones and Rolling Stones shirts are going to outlive those bands!

Sabbaticalia’s clothes must be made from titanium:

Oldest? Let’s see, I’ve got three that have been with me for over thirty of my almost-fifty years on this planet. They all have great memories attached.

Reader Louise has a 30 year old sweater:

I have a sweater I bought in 1985 from Carroll Reed. I love it and it still looks good!

Lots of you had sentimental attachments to clothes. Lady FruFru:

A neon green sweatshirt from the 80s that my mom gave me for Xmas when I was 19…she died just a few months later. It still fits, it is not outrageously out of style, and I think fondly of my mom whenever I see it.


I got a leather jacket from my dad a few years ago. The jacket was given to him by my grandpa when parents got married. That was like 35 or so years ago.

Finally, Reader Ann has clothes that are almost 50 (!) years old:

I have many garments that are older than many of the commenters. My oldest is from when I was a junior in high school in 1969.

So, today I want to know where you buy your clothes. Before you answer, I’ll tell you why I ask. Continue reading

Posted in Ask the readers | Tagged , | 35 Comments

10 Questions with Maggie Banks from Northern Expenditure

Today is the 34th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

This week’s answers come from Maggie at Northern Expenditure. Maggie’s full-time gig is stay-at-home momming her three children, Penny (I see what you did there), Florin (I get that one, too), and Lui (I had to look that one up). Unsurprisingly, she also part-times as a behavioral economics researcher.

Northern Expenditure

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
Hello! I’m Maggie Banks and I run Northern Expenditure. This blog is great because it tells the suspenseful story of a family of five living in the crazy state of Alaska (North to the Future!) navigating their way to early retirement on 1.25 smallish incomes. Alaska is amazing and wonderful with the Northern Lights, the belugas migrating through, the moose crossing the highway, and the glaciers, mountains, snow, and wetlands. But it’s also expensive (and the earthquakes!). There are financial perks to living here though. We catch our own salmon and the state pays us to live here. Because of where we live, our story is unique. A visitor told us once that everyone in Alaska is always 30% camping… which I think is a great description.  Continue reading

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The Day I got a 401(k) Tattoo on my…

As if you couldn’t tell from the title, I’m a big fan of 401(k)s. Contributing to a 401(k) should come before all other investments for most. A 401(k) cuts the tax bill and allows for money to grow tax free. Many employers also match a percentage of your contributions.

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Who doesn’t want free money???

Here are some fun facts about Mrs. 1500’s and my 401(k)s:

  • We have about $600,000 in our 401(k) accounts, despite a short time period and making some setbacks and a big mistake:
    • We both have been working for less than 20 years
    • We haven’t always had 401(k)s at our jobs
    • When we did have access to a 401(k), we didn’t always max it out (shame on us!!)
  • I have “401(k)” tattooed on my body. I’d show you a picture, but it’s in an area that is inappropriate for younger readers. I also don’t want to distract the female readers.
  • Last year, we socked away $53,750 into our Solo 401(k). You read that right! A Solo 401(k) is an incredible deal for the freelancer.
  • I may use my 401(k) before I’m old and crusty. There are penalty free ways to access the money before the age of 59.5.
  • I was drowning once and my 401(k) saved my life.

Sure, I made some of that up, but believe me, 401(k)s are completely awesome.


A 401(k) will:

  • help you retire without having to depend on that rich uncle who may or may not blow it all on 27 year old girlfriends before he croaks
  • stop that damn cat from peeing on the carpet
  • increase your IQ

OK, I made most of that up too. I swear, I’m not on any drugs. Well, the 401(k) is a drug for me, but I’m not normal.

Never forget that 401(k)s are one of the greatest gifts that Uncle Sam gave to us savers.

Please read the rest of the story over at InvestmentZen.

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Ask the Readers: What is the Oldest Garment you Own?

Mrs. 1500 back again today. Last week I asked you what the difference between frugal and cheap. Before I get to your answers, Mr. 1500 wants to get a word in:

The Battle of the Crocs is ongoing. So is the battle of the toilet paper. Allow me to explain.

If I have to blow my nose, I’m not above ripping off a couple squares from the TP roll to do the job. If I have a cold or allergies, I just grab a roll for my desk.

On my desk right now

On my desk right now

This drives Mrs. 1500 crazy. She is a modern day Howard Hughes:

Kleenex everywhere!

I just don’t care. It’s all the same to me.

What I really wanted to say though is this: crusty Crocs and wayward toilet paper are what we fight about. We don’t fight about our finances or money ever. If these are the worst of our issues, I’m happy.

(Mrs. 1500’s rebuttal, to Mr. 1500’s absolutely ridiculous argument: Toilet paper is thin, and designed to fall apart when it comes in contact with liquid. Tissues are made to stand up to liquid. What are you blowing out of your nose?

I will concede that this is all we fight about, and it is pretty silly in the face of all the problems in the world…)

So last week, I asked you the difference between frugal and cheap. I got a lot of really great answers. Continue reading

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10 Questions with Freedom With Bruno

Today is the 33rd edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

This week we hear from Amanda and Travis, a Canadian husband and wife team that moved to the U.S. 7 years ago. They achieved financial independence at ages 30 and 32, respectively, then immediately set out to travel with an epic road trip through Mexico and Central America. They are currently happily homeless. I am currently jealous…


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
Our blog is a bit different as it combines two communities that shape our lives at the moment: Financial Independence/Early Retirement (FIRE) and Overlanding.
The idea for our blog started out as a way to let family and friends know we hadn’t died during our travels. There was a general consensus that our driving through Mexico and Central America was only something crazy people do. The more research we did, the more we realized that there’s a whole community of people traveling the world “overland” (driving). What sets us apart from many of them is that we’ve worked our asses off for many years saving money up front to ensure we never have to go back to work! Bruno is our Toyota 4Runner whose thoughts permeate the blog posts, as he takes us to new places on a daily basis! We’ve been “retired” for over 6 months now. Here’s our update on living in Costa Rica and how the finances are looking: Six Months of Early Retirement. Continue reading

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