Financial Samurai goes back to work

One of the pioneers of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement & author of personal finance blog site “Financial Samurai”, Sam Dogen is planning on returning to work.

I guess, $3M would have been sufficient if it were only him and his wife. But the addition of two kids to the equation makes him change his mind.
He says “college costs”. But I wonder if the “financial samurai” is forgetting a whole lot of other costs before the kids reach college. Thinking of four is a whole lot different than just thinking of two. While some costs e.g. food, might initially not go up at the same rate, other costs may increase abruptly e.g. healthcare.

A FIRE movement pioneer who retired early with $3 million at age 34 says he must return to work to afford his kids’ college education (

Hey, on the bright side, with earned income, he might be able to contribute to a retirement account :grinning:


His current annual income is $200k. Seems like a marketing stunt to me…to sell more books. Color me skeptical.


I have not followed the guy or his blog closely. So I don’t know the breakdown of his passive income i.e. from writing vs from real estate vs other passive income stream.

Since he now has kids, then technically, he already has material for a second book – FIRE with kids, (or some variation)

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Just checked out the Financial Samurai blog.

Apparently his income for 2023 is expected to go up … to $380K
In fact, real estate crowdfunding makes up over $100,000 out of my estimated $380,000 in annual passive income for 2023.

Real Estate Crowdfunding Learning Center - Financial Samurai

I am guessing he has additional passive income from real estate, Plus income from the blog, from the book & e-book, and other sources. So if income jumped from around $200K (as earlier reported) to $380K, why is he suggesting he needs to get a job to cover the kids’ college expenses?

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I would argue that he never really stopped working. He’s continued to run the Financial Samurai business - writing blogs and books, doing research to support that writing, etc. And then there’s the work he does for his ‘passive’ real estate income. (Being a landlord is not passive, nor is running a crowdfunding real estate site.)



Just a guess, so that he can pay the 50-100k+ a year and not reduce his current standard of living

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@AJ - I agree.
As I went looking for an answer to his passive income streams breakdown, it occurred to me, the nature of his employment might have changed, but he hasn’t really retired. Even some of his own blog comments suggest this. One of his blog posts talks about setting aside time to write his blog posts, another on the time to research the Real Estate crowdfunding options (he knew he was going down that route since he wanted to get away from the active mgmt of RE)

The Financial Samurai needs to commit seppuku.


Why??? :flushed:


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For one, this isn’t the first time he’s announced he’s coming out of early retirement.
But mainly, almost all (or maybe all) of his early retirement advice caters to high income, high net worth individuals so not applicable for most people, but even for those people it isn’t useful or actionable. For example, this article on how to decide if you can afford to eat at the French Laundry or why you need to make $350,000/year to have a middle class lifestyle in a high cost of living city. Those just aren’t early retirement questions that most people have. You don’t need Financial Samurai to tell if you if can afford the French Laundry. Your checking account balance does the job just fine.

Financial Samarai identifies as the founder of the modern FIRE movement. There is no evidence this is true. THE central question of retirement planning is “how much money do I need?” That question was largely answered in 1994 when Bill Bengen introduced the 4% Rule.* Unfortunately, that knowledge mostly resided in dusty journals until @intercst updated Bengen’s work with Schiller’s longer dataset and published it in Excel on his website. This attracted the attention journalists like Scott Burns and Johnathan Clements of the Wall Street Journal who publicized it.

Just as importantly in my view, was intercst’s founding of the Retire Early Home Page here at TMF, which is literally where the term FIRE was invented. The old REHP was one of the most popular boards at TMF in its heyday, and a lot of early retirement topics got hashed out in detail.

In 2002-ish TMF went to a pay model for the boards, and many of the REHP posters decamped for other forums, notably a poster named dory36 who founded the Retire Early forums as well as creating firecalc a web-interface retirement calculator based on intercst’s spreadsheet with some help from other former TMF posters, including nords. This made it much easier for a typical person to answer the central question.

Also in 2002, a TMF poster named Hocus had a psychotic break resulting in him believing he was Ahab and the 4% Rule was his white whale. His attempts to destroy the whale lead to him getting booted from TMF and a few other boards, but not the Morningstar forums where many former TMF posters had also landed. He irritated everyone there enough that the top posters left and founded Bogleheads where they could discuss financial topics in a Hocus-free environment, another milestone in the FIRE movement.

I supposed you could argue that was a generation ago, and since then new leaders emerged, introducing FIRE to younger people. I’d agree with that, but Financial Samurai wasn’t one of them. About the same time he started, bloggers like Mr. Money Mustache and Go Curry Cracker also emerged. The difference is they had actionable, useful information on their blogs–like ways to minimize taxes and explaining the 4% Rule-- AND they had actually used that blueprint to retire early unlike Financial Samurai who was still working his $250,000/year financial job when he started his blog. Interesting, another FIRE calculator cFIREsim emerged from Mr. Money Mustache forums, also with some help from nords.

TL;DR Financial Samurai pioneered exactly two things: Jack and squat.

*The Financial Samurai’s advice regarding the 4% Rule is to not have a rule and just trust your gut and take however much you think you should take in that year.



This is ridiculous and is a sure recipe for failure. I’m not sure if it is better, worse, or equal level of insanity when compared to the hoco-style 0% (and later negative in some years) real return fixed income retirement portfolio.


I dismissed samurai as a self promoter/ salesman long ago. Read Bengen/Kitces/Intercst for some basic arithmetic re: safe withdrawal rates - not P.T. Barnum.


I never did like Financial Samurai much. Or Wade Pfau. Mostly just selling something.