Financial Samurai's Bio
Over 10 years of work experience in the finance sector with an MBA focusing on real estate and entrepreneurship. Received an "A" in Mrs. Arnold's high school AP English class.
After 10 years in finance, I thought I had it made. A six figure job, a real estate portfolio, company stock, and a savings/emergency fund that would last me 3 years if I ever became unemployed. I did everything the personal finance books taught us to do and I still ended up losing 35% of my net worth in 2008-2009 due to the economic meltdown. The financial downturn has motivated me to share my experiences to not only help others, but to keep myself honest in my spending habits.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
My first job ever was at McDonald’s for $3.12/cents an hour. I was responsible for opening up the store at 6am every weekend for several months. The job was horrible, and we had a power hungry manager who scolded us for speaking Spanish and not English in front of customers. At least I got a “B” in Spanish. I remember trying to make 9 Egg McMuffins at a time for 3 straight hours, adeptly cracking eggs left and right with one hand. It was hot, and oh the pressure was immense. Things weren’t all bad though. Afterall, we could eat as many hot apple pies we wanted.
My parents never bought me anything too expensive growing up. They were frugal and made an average middle income salary working for the government. I never had a camera or a Nintendo console, but I did enjoy playing tennis with my father and listening to my mother talk about religion. The most expensive gift I ever got was a 1987 Honda Civic with 140,000 miles for $1,800 bucks after doing well in HS. I’m truly thankful for this gift and drove it until I graduated college.
I had a choice between private school or public school for college, and I chose public school. There was no way I could feel comfortable allowing my parents to pay $25,000 a year in tuition alone, when there were plenty of top quality public schools for only $5,000 a year. Besides, I planned to pay back my parents and couldn't stomach that type of debt. The $30 a day I made at McDonald's had a more profound impact on me than I realized!
My father introduced me to the stock market in college. Through stocks, suddenly I could make much more money than through working at the library at now $4.5 an hour. Little did I know, that I could lose an infinite amount more money though! The taste of success came when I bought 500 shares of Books A Million (BAM, a now defunct Book Seller). The stock went up 25%, and I made $550 in 1 hour. From that trade on, I knew I wanted to do something in finance, where anybody with enough guts could make as much money as they wanted.
When I first entered the work force, things were explosively recovering from the 1997 Asian & Russian financial crisis. I got lucky and purchased a particular internet stock (VCSY) for $3,000. It shot up to $150,000 in three months and I sold, not at the peak of $180,000, but close enough.
Flush with cash in my early 20’s, I went kind of nuts, buying a motorcycle and a very fancy car. I’d eat at the fanciest restaurants in NYC and went on lavish vacations. When I changed jobs for a better opportunity, I finally woke up to the realization that I was just flushing my good fortune down the drain. I started to get serious about my finances. In early 2003, I sold my $80,000 car and used the proceeds along with the rest of the money left to buy my first 2/2 condo in a prime location in a big city. It is now renting out for positive net income, and I plan to pay it off within 8 years.
Despite this initial taste of success, I’ve made so many personal finance blunders in my 20’s, it wouldn’t be right not to share with you the errors in hopes you don’t do the same. Hopefully, through Financial Samurai, we will never have to say “if I knew then what I know now” as it relates to personal finance again.
FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE SOONER, RATHER THAN LATER
Retiring by 45 is a “see if I can do it goal.” I actually really enjoy my job, but I think I’ll enjoy it more if I didn’t need to work! What’s the fun and challenge of choosing to retire at 65? Like studying for an exam, people tend to cram the week before. I want to cram now. Essentially, I believe that if you can work for 20 years in your profession, you will have the power to retire if you want to.
One of my main motivations for writing is to hear from all of you. I hope we can all grow rich together over these next 10 years! Welcome to the journey!