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How Sam Retired by 40

Financial Samurai started because of Sam Dogen’s bad luck.

In 2009, the financial world was falling apart… and Sam lost 50% of his net worth overnight.

Sam wasn’t an idiot either. He:

  • Spent 10 years working in the finance industry
  • Got an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley
  • Invested and saved aggressively

He still got hit hard by the financial crisis.

When the market crashed, it changed Sam’s perspective. Money stopped controlling Sam’s life. Instead, Sam became motivated by living freely.

To help make sense of the financial craziness in 2009, Sam shared his learnings and lessons on Financial Samurai.

Years later, more than 25 million people have visited Financial Samurai — and he’s built a full-time business.

I’m a huge fan of Financial Samurai, and I recently had the chance to sit down with Sam to pick his brain. You’ll learn never-before-heard stories and tips, like…

  1. How to retire in the next 10 years
  2. The myth of overnight success — and how long it REALLY takes
  3. Stop making excuses: Here’s the answer
  4. The BEST investment you can make
  5. How to optimize your own financial assets for massive gains
  6. How to avoid jealousy

6 Lessons from Financial Samurai Founder Sam Dogen

BONUS: The exact financial strategy of an 8-figure CEO

1. How to retire in the next 10 years

“9 to 5 is the way to survive.”

If you’re looking to survive, go get a normal desk job at a big corporation.

But if you want to be really successful in life, you need to think differently.

Most people dream of financial freedom:

The harsh truth: Most people will NEVER achieve any of those dreams.

Not because they’re not capable. They are. The problem is, the majority follows a broken blueprint…

Go to school → Graduate → Find a 9-5 → Work there for 50 years → Retire.

Zzzzzzz boring. That’s why I hated working my first desk job at Intel so much.

If you want financial freedom, here’s Sam’s advice:

  1. Work harder: Why do you accept only working 40 hours per week? Put in more hours
  2. Double your productivity: The “I’m so busy” excuse is B.S. If Elon Musk never complains about being busy, you shouldn’t either. Learn to work smarter
  3. Create multiple revenue streams: Working a day job is the PERFECT time to start something on the side too. Create multiple streams of income through side hustling

With these 3 tips, you’ll be ahead of most people.

You can ride off into the sunset and do whatever you want with your life. Maybe start eating tacos with me? 😊 🌮

And if you have excuses, I have two suggestions for you:

  1. Stop wasting your time watching 10 hours of Netflix every week
  2. If you really want to achieve financial freedom, you’ll find time

Here’s why I love the side hustle game:

  1. Let’s say you get back from your full-time job at 7 pm. You have dinner, check yourself out in the mirror, etc. Even if you just have TWO HOURS from 7 pm to 9 pm before you go to bed, that adds up to 40 hours per month to make 💰💰💰
  2. Experiment with a side hustle for 1 year (it won’t happen instantly…) and see how far you’ve gotten
  3. Reinvest any income in your business, assets (like real estate), or stocks and your money will be working for you

Keep up this routine, get lucky, and you could bring in as much from your side hustle as your 9-5.

Then you have FREEDOM to do whatever you want.

To stay focused and push through the ups-and-downs, the key is to focus 10 years in the future.

Where do you want to be in 10 years? And what can you do TODAY to help you get there?

If you want more tips from Sam, check out the video below.

2. The myth of overnight success — how long it REALLY takes

The “overnight success” is one of the biggest pieces of 💩 you’ll ever hear in business.

In all my years, I’ve never seen an overnight success. Not one.

You might look at Sumo + AppSumo making 8 figures and think, “Shit, Noah, you blew up real quick.”

Here’s what you don’t know:

People are too impatient. Business success takes time.

Sam had another great example of how long it takes to build an actual business.

He started Financial Samurai in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2011 — aka two years later — Sam made a livable income from the site.

This is after Sam started writing about everything he could, hoping it would take off:

  • Passive income
  • Scraping by on $500k per year
  • 401(k) retirement plan

Sam wrote and wrote and wrote, until eventually his material started getting hits… but it took time.

If you stay persistent and work on a side hustle 2-4x per week for three years, I’m willing to bet you’ll at least make some money.

You need to put in the time. It won’t happen right away.

Want more? Check out the full podcast below with Sam.

3. The one ability you’re forgetting you have

Excuses are easy to come by. I hear them all the time:

I call bullshit.

Very few people are born extraordinarily gifted in a specific area.

Most people fail due to lack of effort. It’s plain and simple.

A lot of people feel their excuses are valid, so they just don’t bother trying.

Are you willing to let your excuses run your life?

  • There’s no rewind button in life. You can try hard, take your best shot, and look back and say, “yes that was awesome.” Or…
  • You can look back with regret, knowing your excuses were made out of fear.

Hard work is the one ability you’re forgetting you have. Make the most of it.

4. The best investment you can make

One of my first jobs was making $5.50 an hour working at The Popcorn Stand when I was 13-years-old.

Barely making anything + being raised Jewish, I’ve always thought very carefully about where and how I spend my money.

Chief Sumo here. From my friends at @booklikeaboss

A post shared by Noah Kagan (@noahkagan) on

I’ve invested in startups, long-term stocks, and more. I’ve had some success, and plenty of failures.

If you want to be successful financially, Sam recommends real estate.

Look at the property in terms of expandability. It’s all about expansion. You can build a really high-quality extension for $500 per square foot. But if you can re-sell your property for $1,000 per square foot you’ve instantly doubled up your money.

“Expandability” is important to more areas of life than just real estate:

  • I recently purchased, a Chrome plugin with 40k+ users. The #1 reason I bought it was the chance to grow a new user base long-term
  • When I decided to learn Hebrew, it was to expand my horizons and feel a deeper connection with my family #jewlife
  • Spending $1.5m on a domain name was one of the craziest decisions I’ve ever made in business. But, when I looked at the bigger picture, owning will help us 10x our business long-term

5. How to setup your finances for success

Spend your time where you make your money.

It’s easy to neglect your most important assets and focus on “busy” work. Sam knows this first-hand.

Real estate makes up around 40% of his net worth. But for years, he didn’t really do anything with these assets aside from letting them sit there and taking in the rental revenue.

Now he’s created a framework to help him understand where to spend his time:

  1. Quantify how much revenue (% of your total income) comes from each asset
  2. Split out how much time you’re spending on each asset
  3. Focus your time on the things which bring you the MOST money

For example, if you’re only spending 10% of your time on an asset that’s worth 40% of your wealth, you should probably adjust higher.

BONUS: How I manage my own money

In business, I call this “doing more of what’s working”.

At Sumo, content marketing works for us.

But, we made the mistake of not trusting results last year. We wasted a bunch of effort, time, and money on tasks that weren’t nearly as rewarding as content marketing.

When we went back to content marketing, we saw growth. Lesson learned.

When something works, do more of it.

6. How to avoid jealousy in your life

Sam lives in San Francisco where bazillionaires hang out.

If you see young 20-somethings driving Maseratis and renting $10,000 per month apartments, it’s easy to feel jealous.

Sam makes a conscious effort to avoids jealousy by focusing on his goals and his gifts.

It’s not always easy, but it’s made a difference in his life.

I know that there’s always going to be more money out there. So I’m just happy with what I have. I have my personal goals, I try to achieve them, and then that’s it.

In your own life, I challenge you to avoid comparisons.

If you have a 100 foot yacht, someone will have a 110 foot yacht. If you make $1 billion, Bill Gates is still richer.

Do you best to AVOID comparing yourself with others.

Sam sees freedom, not money, as his #1 measure of success:

I’m not competing with anyone for my freedom. So if you are a billionaire, but you have annoying shareholders, you’re stressed out, you hate life… screw that!

This was just the tip of the iceberg.

Learn more lessons from Financial Samurai Sam Dogen, whose site has helped 25 million people over the years.

Bonus: I’d love to finish this post up with one final tidbit from my conversation with Mister Financial Samurai Sam Dogen:

If the amount of money you’re saving each month doesn’t hurt, you’re not saving enough.

Cheers to financial freedom. 🌮

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6 responses to “How Sam Retired by 40”

Gabriel Limma
August 17, 2021 at 8:10 am

There was so much more to explore with Sam.
I feel this in 90% of your interviews.
What prevents you from going deeper, good boy Noah?
Above all, thank you for sharing with us, Noah

November 5, 2017 at 6:56 pm

I enjoyed reading this and learning more about Sam and I love Financial Samurai.

Brian Rollo
September 16, 2017 at 4:20 pm

I was motivated by Sam’s comments about blogging – “If you post 2-4 times a week eventually you will make money”. Blogging is never going to be my main business, but as someone who’s been on and off again (mostly off) this statement really hit home. Thanks for the interview.

August 5, 2017 at 12:55 am

Enjoyed the podcast, thank you Noah. A comment from a 55+ person, I don’t agree with the 80 hour a week idea. Life is unpredictable and you need a life, so find balance which doesn’t come by not getting enough sleep or personal face to face interaction with your friends. Stuff happens: road accidents/sickness etc. so life should be experienced and enjoyed as we go along…not much is going to enjoyed working an 80 hour week. Work smart and productively with discipline, structure, daily objectives and targets. Make time for life and love as this is what matters when you look back, not just your bank balance. You can never recover your youth and it’s beyond priceless!

July 27, 2017 at 3:59 am

Of course the post gets finished with a quote on saving…

Love you Noah

Ian Tang
July 25, 2017 at 9:57 pm

Thank you again Noah.

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