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? 😀 ❤
Before Hack Your Wealth
Throughout the early part of my career, I hacked my way into a lot of interesting gigs, often with no formal training, that I had no business being in. I am ridiculously lucky to have experienced a WIDE range of careers:
- foreign service internships at the State Department in Washington and Vienna
- documentary filmmaking in Asia
- law at big fancy law firms in New York and Tokyo
- strategy consulting at McKinsey
- corporate finance as a graduate of the rigorous CFA program
- private equity investing at Huntsman Gay Global Capital
- product management at Pinterest, Redfin, and LinkedIn
During these years, I squirreled away a lot of savings while continuing to live like a hobo college student.
I thought this was the path to financial independence (didn’t know about FIRE back then), but the truth is it was REALLY hard to grow wealth this way because:
- I had no clear plan or strategy for making my savings/assets work for me
- I did not track my income or expenses
- I did not know or think about creating multiple income streams, even though my job salary would take me forever to achieve financial independence
And then the financial crisis happened. BOOM.
That delivered me a big cold slap in the face.
In a single 3-month period in 2008, my hard-earned savings got whacked by ONE-THIRD.
I was one of the luckier ones, too. Others took a 40%, even 50% hit.
I was fortunate I still had most of my career to build it back up…but it was a very costly (at the time) lesson.
I grimace when I think about it.
I got whacked because I was invested in stocks and actively managed funds I did not understand well.
And unlike now, I did not have any notion or intuition around target asset allocation, rebalancing, the value of simply holding cash, or even just having an investment policy statement you stick to precisely when the shit hits the fan.
The CFA program (Masters in finance equivalent) taught me a lot of these things, but also just slowly and painstakingly cobbling together knowledge on my own and reading forums and books.
After a couple years, I got a LOT better managing and investing my portfolio and was able to rebuild the wealth I lost.
But it took a ton of work.
I had to stay really disciplined, focused, and consistent.
I also started diversifying my income sources and earning income online.
I built websites selling e-books and videos teaching people how to get into elite law schools, how to break into private equity investing, and how to build financial valuation models and leveraged buyout models in Excel.
Getting married changes the game…I needed to play a bigger game
And then….I met Kelly.
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 intentional about managing income, expenses, and wealth because life was bound to get more expensive.
Having a family would be expensive. (And certainly Kelly wouldn’t want to live like a hobo college student like I was!)
At the same time, I also wanted real financial independence to be able to retire early and spend as much time freely with my family as I wanted.
I knew I needed to play a bigger game.
I needed to turbocharge my wealth hacking and build strong passive income streams if I wanted to own my own time.
But how much would I need to retire early?
How exactly would I get there?
What should I be doing right now to achieve that?
I already had good spending and saving discipline. But I didn’t know how to strategize for retirement…let alone early retirement.
And what drove me crazy about many personal finance websites…
…was how generic their advice often was.
Like, I’d Google a question about retirement strategies and see post after post of essentially 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 useful — why else would so many blog posts like this exist? — but I was already saving half my income and managing my money decently well.
What I wanted was really strategic advice on how to massively grow wealth and protect it to retire early, all while raising a family.
I wanted clear financial “how to” lessons I could follow step by step, implement, and see results.
I wanted to study examples of how other wealth hackers cleverly structured their investments to maximize returns and avoid taxes.
Hack Your Wealth is born
So I started blogging to document, in plain language, the most important financial, tax, retirement, investing, and estate planning concepts I was self-learning anyway.
I didn’t plan it but I soon realized I had developed a solid FRAMEWORK for methodically and strategically building our wealth, managing our portfolio (tax efficiently), and legally protecting our assets.
It helped us to focus massively: now our portfolio of liquid assets and real estate is well over several million.
Today, I share in detail on HYW the strategies and hacks we find most useful for building wealth and the lessons we continue to learn along the way.
I write comprehensive step-by-step “how to” guides, like:
- How to avoid capital gains taxes when selling your house
- Why a Solo 401k beats all other retirement accounts
- Traditional vs. Roth? How to double-dip the tax benefits of BOTH
- Life insurance: How to calculate exactly how much you need in 4 simple steps
- How to set up a living trust…and why doing it now will save LOTS of time and money later
- Tax loss harvesting and tax gain harvesting step by step
- The ultimate tax shelter: How health savings accounts work
What makes HYW different is that you can:
- Learn advanced wealth building strategies, explained in plain terms
- Get complex rules translated simply like home sale capital gains exclusions or Solo 401k rules
- Analyze quantitative data comparing financial strategies to show you clearly which is better for your situation
I also share all the tools I personally use (and recommend) to help me organize my financial life, grow income, and optimize expenses. I share it all openly so you can learn and incorporate what works for you, too.
I deeply believe knowledge about wealth building is the most empowering thing you can learn.
If Hack Your Wealth provides valuable insight to help you toward financial security and inspire you to take action and grow your wealth so you can spend more time with family and loved ones, then that is the most impactful thing I can do.
…Now I want to hear your story:
What is your single biggest challenge when it comes to building wealth?
Tell me anonymously here:
Or just email me: andrew at hackyourwealth dot com.
Even if it’s just to share feedback or a suggestion.
I read and respond to EVERY thoughtful email and your feedback directly shapes what I do on this site.
Lastly, sign up below to get my top 5 free tools to help you build wealth and minimize taxes. I’ll send you wealth building tips and strategies not even found on this blog.
I hope to hear from you!