I started Hack Your Wealth on the eve of getting married. I got hitched on September 26, 2015. It was the happiest day of my life.
First, I’m lucky to have met the best gal a boy could hope to meet. I know now what it means to experience devotion and companionship to someone I love deeply.
This is my wife Kelly. Isn’t she a dish? 😀 ❤
Why I started Hack Your Wealth: It started with hacking my career moves
When I was single, I easily switched careers. If an opportunity was interesting, or there was a chance to try something new, I was open to it.
I hacked my way into a lot of interesting gigs, often with no formal training or skills, that I had no business being in. I’m ridiculously lucky to have been able to experience a WIDE range of careers:
- foreign service at the State Department in Washington and the United States Mission to the United Nations in Vienna
- documentary filmmaking as a Fulbright Scholar in China
- law at Davis Polk & Wardwell and Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
- strategy consulting at McKinsey
- corporate finance as a graduate of the rigorous Chartered Financial Analyst exams
- private equity investing at Huntsman Gay Global Capital
- product management at Pinterest, Redfin, and LinkedIn
Throughout all these experiences, I was disciplined about saving and spending. But not about:
- investing with a clear plan or strategy
- systematically tracking my personal income statement / balance sheet
- methodically growing side income
I certainly never worried about coordinating my finances (and taxes) with someone else. Or setting abstract financial goals like “sending the kids to college.”
Catching the entrepreneurial bug
When I moved to the Bay Area, I met a LOT of entrepreneurs. Makers. Creators. Everyone seemed to be starting a startup or working in one.
One day, I read this in the book “The Millionaire Next Door“:
About two-thirds of [millionaires] who are working are self-employed. Interestingly, self-employed people make up less than 20 percent of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires. Also, three out of four [millionaires] who are self-employed consider [themselves] to be entrepreneurs.
And I realized that, while it’s certainly possible to build wealth climbing the ranks working for someone else, chances are better striking out on your own, creating something people want and monetizing it.
That’s ‘cause customers judge you solely on the quality of products you offer. Your success (and earnings) are not dependent on the whims of workplace superiors. Instead, plain old hard work and determination, plus a little talent and smarts, have always been, and probably always will be, the most important ingredients to entrepreneurial success. Luck certainly helps, too. But hard work and determination by far matter the most.
Living in Silicon Valley lit a fire in me to work for myself.
But I also needed to pay the bills. So I started by doing small experiments to earn side income.
Creating early products
I started building websites where I sold e-books and videos teaching people how to win admission to elite law schools, how to break into private equity investing, and how to build financial valuation models and leveraged buyout models in Excel. These were all based on my personal experiences and I earned a surprising amount of revenue from them (still earning).
I then built a careers website called CareerHoot where I interviewed really interesting career switchers. Many career seekers wrote to me and told me they found a lot of value in the stories I shared there.
And then….I met Kelly.
Getting married changes a lot
It wasn’t long before a little voice in my head said, “Yup. She’s the one.”
But I knew getting married would mean I’d have to be a LOT more deliberate about managing my (and our) income and expenses. We’d have to collaborate on solving financial problems together even though we might occasionally have different goals. And we’d have to find that right balance between disciplined spending and living the life we wanted to live.
That was when the seed for HYW was planted.
It was planted from the realization that married life would bring very different challenges than single life.
One of the biggest shifts in my thinking was that I started thinking seriously about early retirement: if Kelly and I started a family, I wanted the freedom to spend as much time with my kids as I wanted.
Attaining that level of financial freedom would require building passive income streams so that I could eventually own my schedule entirely. If I continued working, it would be my own choice, and on my own terms.
It forced me to reflect on hard questions.
How much would I need to retire early?
How would I get there?
And what should I be doing right now, at this stage in life, to achieve that?
I already had the right spending and saving discipline. But I didn’t know how to plan for retirement, let alone early retirement. I didn’t even know how to think about retirement planning.
And it’s ‘cause I didn’t have strategies.
I didn’t have a framework for methodically and strategically building wealth.
I wanted a place where I could learn that framework. Where I could get money management strategies tailored to my situation. Where I could study examples of how others cleverly structured their investments to maximize returns and avoid taxes.
I wanted to be in control and purposeful with my money.
What pissed me off about other personal finance websites
What drove me crazy about many other personal finance websites (like, em, the biggest ones) is how unhelpfully superficial their advice was.
For example, I’d Google a question about retirement strategies and see blog post after blog post of nuggets like:
“Spend less than you earn.”
“Make a budget and stick to it.”
“Pay off credit cards first because they have the highest interest.”
“Save a 3-month rainy day fund, so you don’t have to dip into retirement accounts.”
I’m sure plenty of people find advice like this meaningful — why else would so many blog posts like this exist? — but I was already saving half my income and managing my money competently.
What I was missing was advanced advice on how to massively grow wealth. The big blogs catered to the lowest common denominator, but they didn’t help folks like me who were looking to turbocharge their wealth building to retire early.
I wanted an online cookbook where I could learn the best financial planning “recipes” and then follow step-by-step guides to implement them.
I didn’t find that on the incumbent blogs. So I decided to start my own.
Hack Your Wealth is born
I started blogging on HYW initially charting my financial journey with Kelly.
I wanted to share the strategies and hacks we’re using to build wealth, and the successes and failures we’re learning from along the way.
Now, whenever I learn a useful and powerful strategy, I create a comprehensive step-by-step case study on it.
- How to avoid capital gains taxes when selling your house
- Traditional vs. Roth? How to double-dip the tax benefits of BOTH
- Why a Solo 401k beats all other retirement accounts
- The ultimate tax shelter: How health savings accounts work
This is what makes HYW different from the masses of other personal finance sites out there. It’s a place where you can:
- Learn advanced wealth building strategies, explained in dead simple terms
- Efficiently navigate complicated rules like home sale capital gains exclusions or shielding extra income with a Solo 401k
- Analyze hard data that quantitatively compares financial planning strategies and shows tradeoffs / margins of error through sensitivity analyses you can play with yourself
Additionally, I pull back the curtain on my side business income through my monthly income reports. I share what’s working and what’s not. I reveal the step-by-step techniques I use: whether it’s for paying down student loans, buying a home, analyzing rental property, deciding between retirement / investment accounts, maximizing credit card bonuses — everything.
I also share all the tools I personally use (and recommend) to help me organize my financial life, grow income, optimize expenses, and even build Hack Your Wealth itself. I lay it all out in the open so you can learn and benefit from it, too.
I deeply believe knowledge about wealth building is one of the most empowering things you can develop.
If Hack Your Wealth can provide valuable insights to help you on your path to financial security and inspire you to take action to grow your wealth so you can spend more time with your loved ones, then that’s the most impactful thing I can ever do.
So…I wanna hear your story.
What’s your single biggest challenge when it comes to building wealth?
You can tell me anonymously here:
Or you can email me directly at andrew at hackyourwealth dot com. I read and respond to EVERY thoughtful email.
Plus, if you email me straight up to tell me your feedback / suggestions / input, it directly helps me make HYW more useful for you. Your voice goes straight into shaping this site.
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