Happy new year everyone! For 2024, my theme of the year is, “One last year of intense focus.” This marks my 15th year running Financial Samurai, coinciding with both my children starting full-time school in September.
Fatigue has set in, reminiscent of 2011 when I pondered leaving investment banking for good. That burnout prompted a much-needed change of pace. Ironically, a day job is much easier than being a stay-at-home parent!
Perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis at 46, where I sense my body slowing down, and time is slipping away faster than ever. The urgency to maximize the remaining years of robust health is palpable. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this pace, hence my theme.
In light of this, I’ve organized my goals into five categories: Health, Wealth, Family, Financial Samurai, and the X-Factor. Despite the weariness, I approach these goals with optimism, aiming to achieve 70% of them.
I’m feeling the effects of age more now. As a result, I’ve got to increase my effort in staying in shape.
1) Stay the same weight
I’ve given up on losing weight. At my age, I’d like to end the year the same weight. That weight is 168 – 171 pounds at 5’10”.
I’ve weighed between 162 – 175 pounds since 1996. As a result, this stability has helped me save money on clothes. However, I’ve anchored too many years on the elusive 162 pounds to my frustration. Time to let go.
2) Play tennis and pickleball three times a week without getting injured
I hate working out, but I love playing sports. If I can play tennis and pickleball three times a week combined while maintaining my moderate eating habits, I should be able to stay the same weight. Warming up for a good 10 minutes before playing is a must.
3) Take one mental health break a month.
I took one day off in 2023 from doing anything productive, which includes childcare. That was a beautiful quiet day where I rejuvenated. In 2024, my goal is to take 12 days off, one day a month. During these days I will not open a laptop and will be alone for at least 22 hours.
I dislike volatility. However, I can’t stop investing in risk assets since I’m always optimistic about the future.
1) Increase net worth by 10%.
Given I expect the real estate market to rebound and the stock market to inch higher in 2024, there should be a solid tailwind for my net worth. Since retiring in 2012, my target net worth growth rate has been 5% – 10% a year.
I expect CPI to fall below 3% and mortgage rates to fall below 6% for the national 30-year fixed average. As a result, I’m overweight real estate as it plays catchup to other risk assets. I will continue to dollar cost average into private real estate funds diversified across the Sunbelt.
2) Replenish my stock exposure to 20% of net worth
After paying cash for my house with the sale of stocks and bonds, my public stock exposure is down to only about 15% of my net worth. My ideal stock market weighting as a percentage of net worth is between 25% – 35%.
As a result, 65% of my cash flow will go towards buying the S&P 500 index and other individual stocks. Unfortunately, with such a huge run in the S&P 500 in 2023, the upside for 2024 seems to be limited.
3) Boost passive income by $40,000.
Also due to the purchase of my house, my passive income has taken a big hit. As a result, my other main financial focus is to boost passive income.
A $40,000 boost to passive income requires a $1,000,000 boost in capital or a repositioning of capital. I’m hopeful this can happen through market gains and savings. Or I can just sell or rent out my old house. But I’m liking the idea of keeping it as a wellness center too.
4) Invest another $50,000 in funds that invest in artificial intelligence
AI represents the future and will likely boost economic productivity while displacing millions of jobs. As such, I aim to invest in AI companies to hedge against a difficult labor market for my children.
The OpenAI CEO controversy demonstrated that the firm prioritizes profits over their original non-profit mission to benefit humanity. Same with the New York Times copyright lawsuit against OpenAI. This shows that the only way to safeguard one’s interests is to invest directly.
If you want to invest in private AI companies, check out the Innovation Fund by Fundrise. It is an open-ended venture capital fund with a $10 minimum that has roughly 35% of its fund invested in AI companies.
5) Back to a frugal mindset
After six months of indulgent spending, I’m shifting gears from decumulation to accumulation again. The goal now is to build up funds and regain that feeling of financial abundance. I’m reverting to a frugal mindset reminiscent of the 13 years post-college.
This entails a return to saving 60-70% of my income, steering clear of unnecessary purchases, opting for a do-it-yourself approach over hiring services, cutting back on takeout and dining out, and no extravagant vacations. It’s a conscious shift back to a more disciplined and mindful approach to personal finances.
Family is the most important thing. It’s the one thing I can’t afford to screw up.
1) Cherish the remaining time I have with my daughter
I have until September 2024 before my daughter begins attending school full-time. During the two days she’s not in school, my focus will be on engaging in as many activities as possible with her. At the age of four, she’s entering an important phase where memories start to take hold. It’s a crucial time for me to demonstrate that I am a dedicated to her.
One of my primary goals during this period is to guide my daughter to become a proficient swimmer by her 5th birthday. While she already swims, she faces challenges in coming up for air and timing her breath correctly without swallowing water. Addressing these aspects will be a significant part of our activities.
Additionally, by December 2024, my aim is to teach her the skill of riding a bike. These endeavors represent not just milestones but valuable opportunities to bond and create lasting memories together.
2) See my parents and sister twice.
I’m planning on flying my parents, sister, and boyfriend over in March after my father’s surgery. Then I plan to take my family to Hawaii this summer, their first trip and flight ever. As a result, I will see my parents twice, whether they like it or not.
3) Be a dependable Mandarin, physical education, and personal finance teacher
I love teaching, so I feel blessed to have children to nurture. My son turns seven in April, when I will begin educating him more about personal finance. He will do chores around the house and rentals to earn wages, then learn to save and invest so he doesn’t end up financially dependent as an adult.
I will also provide daily Mandarin lessons for at least 15 minutes to both kids. My goal is speaking Mandarin 70% of the time with them, up from 20% last year. We’ll enjoy great Mandarin videos and books together. Giving them fluency in a second language will be a gift they appreciate later in life.
Additionally, I aim to be a motivational P.E. teacher. Once swimming and biking mastery is achieved, we’ll move on to pickleball and soccer. Selfishly, my dream is getting them hooked on pickleball or tennis so we can play for hours as they mature.
My ultimate goal is to keep Financial Samurai running for the next 20 years, until 2043. In 20 years, my children should be old enough to know what they want to do for a living. If not, they’ve got career insurance.
1) Publish between two-to-three times a week
Most weeks will consist of either three posts and no newsletter or two posts and a newsletter. But some weeks will only consist of a couple of posts or one post and one newsletter.
No longer will I be writing newsletters on weekends so I can rest and spend more time with my family. Writing a newsletter on a Saturday night for Sunday morning publication is no fun! It hurts my relationship with my wife as well.
If I’m inspired to write more than three times a week, I will. But I’m not going to force myself after 15 years and 2,300+ articles any more. I also plan to shorten my average article length to 1,200 words.
The new posts will talk about current events, fascinating debates, ways to build wealth, and so much more.
2) Produce 36 podcasts
I ended up producing 65 podcasts in 2023, partly because I was excited about being able to interview people. But each podcast takes 3-4 hours to record, edit, and produce. With little-to-no financial reward, I had best spend my time elsewhere.
36 podcasts for the year is still three podcasts a month on average. A good cadence that gives me a week off. I’m also going to go back to doing more solo podcasts because they are quicker to produce. You can subscribe on Apple or Spotify.
3) Guest post six times
I am not proactive in guest posting on large media outlets, even though I have connections. But I’ve found that guest posting on CNBC or sharing stories with the WSJ is the quickest way to boost new readership. Therefore, I will reach out to my connections once a month and see what happens.
I also enjoy giving podcast interviews. As a result, my attempt is to go on twelve podcasts this year. It’s nice to let them do the editing and deal with the technical issues. Technical problems is one of the biggest reasons for reducing my joy in interviewing others.
I believe everybody should have or work on an x-factor to keep them engaged and motivated. You never know what they might turn into.
1) Publish my second book with Portfolio Penguin
I will finish my first draft of my completed manuscript by March 30, 2024. I’ll then spend the next three month polishing it. Then my publisher should be able to release the book sometime in 2H 2024.
My goal is to write a shorter, punchier personal finance book that appeals to even more people. Buy This Not That is extremely comprehensive, actionable, and useful book. However, at ~110,000 words long, it may be too intimidating for most people to read or want to read.
I will enjoy the writing and marketing process of the second book more and not worry about it making any national bestseller list. This is the power of already being a bestselling author and having a guaranteed two-book deal. I will create a new book because I enjoy the creating, not for the extrinsic rewards.
My biggest motivator is going to a local bookstore when my book comes out and playing treasure hunt with my kids!
2) Help my wife get a job
I care too deeply for my wife to let her remain a stay-at-home mom after our daughter begins school full-time in September. As a result, I will help her in finding a fulfilling job or consulting role to give greater depth to her career.
I’ve spoken to several stay-at-home mothers who faced divorce or the tragic loss of a spouse, suddenly bearing sole responsibility for providing. Such financial dependence places loved ones in a precarious position.
I will rest easier once my wife can reliably generate income to support our family, independent of FS, in case anything were to happen to me. A job will also give her increased structure during a major life transition that brings extra free time. Employment will also set a good example for our daughter, who can see how juggling motherhood and a career is possible now that her memories are forming.
Having engineered my own layoff and severance three years earlier than her, I understand firsthand the challenges of suddenly having 40 open hours a day to fill. Although, my wife insists she has plenty of things to occupy the time. She is after all a highly valuable asset to FS, juggling everything from copyediting, research, customer service and updates of the ebook, writing, backend and operations management, and podcast editing.
She may initially resist at finding new employment after being away since 2015, but I’m confident she’ll come around especially if she can find something part-time to go alongside her work on FS.
3) Write a lullaby for my daughter
While listening to “Long December” by the Counting Crows recently, I wondered why Adam Duritz and other artists seem to stop writing songs at a certain point. Then I remembered that back in 2017, I wrote a lullaby called “Cutie Baby” for my son, and have wanted to compose one for my daughter too but just haven’t gotten around to it.
I am committed to writing a new lullaby for my daughter. The plan is to use one of my 12 wellness days to sit quietly, away from everyday distractions, and create something new.
2024 Will Be The Last Tough Year
Juggling writing a new book, maintaining Financial Samurai, being a stay-at-home dad, and potentially returning to work in the third quarter will be draining. However, conquering this year’s obstacles could make subsequent years much more manageable.
2024 will mark my final year of above-average self-discipline, as I hit a 15-year online writing milestone and a 7.5-year stay-at-home dad milestone. Once I have replenished enough liquidity reserves to feel financially secure again, my family should be set. At that point, it will be time to return to more normal living.
I wish everyone a delightful and prosperous 2024!
Reader Questions And Suggestions
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