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How to Be Lucky in Life


How to Be Lucky in LifeThis is a follow up to last week’s – You Don’t Have to Be the Best to Win Big in Life. In that post, I suggested that anyone can be successful by following a few guiding principles. One of these principles is to be lucky. Hmmm… You might be skeptical, but being lucky will really help you out in life. But, isn’t luck just random chance? How can you be lucky in life? I’m sure you know people who have a charmed life. Whatever they do seems to turn out right. On the other hand, there are unlucky people who keep running into random obstacles and constantly screw up their lives. Well, being lucky isn’t just random chance. Those lucky people are doing something right and today, we’ll see if we can do the same. Please take my poll at the end of this post!

I’m one lucky guy

I don’t want to brag, but I’m one of those lucky people. It’s been 5 years since I retired early from my engineering career and I love my life. My early retirement lifestyle is almost ideal. Our net worth doubled since I retired early. I’m a good husband to my lovely wife and a good dad to our crazy kid. We live in a great neighborhood with good schools, quiet streets, and have an awesome view of the Willamette River and Mt. Hood. It’s almost unbelievable to think about the string of lucky incidents that led me here.

I had a pretty humble beginning, though. I was born in Bangkok and grew up in Chiang Mai, a city in the northern part of Thailand. My first huge lucky break was that my parents were college graduates. That’s pretty amazing considering how few universities were in Thailand 50 years ago. My dad was one of the few kids from Chiang Mai to attend a university in Bangkok. My mom was one of the few women who got a Master’s degree in those days. They weren’t elite members of society either. My dad was penniless and he hustled his way through college. My mom’s family was better off, but she studied hard and was a good student. Having college educated parents meant I had more opportunities than the average Thai child. That’s a huge advantage in a poor country like Thailand of 43 years ago.

Strings of lucky breaks

I’ll summarize my lucky breaks in life and go through a few of them in detail a bit later.

  • My parent immigrated to the United States, a country with a lot more opportunities than Thailand.
  • This concept is getting more foreign today. I graduated from college with a Masters degree with no debt. That MS was earned in one year instead of the usual two.
  • I got a well paying job right out of college and had steady income for 16 years.
  • I married Mrs. RB40. She is frugal, smarter, more ambitious, more organized, calmer, and looks way better than I do. We make a great team, but I won the jackpot with this one.
  • I retired early and I’m living a fantastic life as a blogger/SAHD.
  • We had a kid at the perfect time. If our kid had been born earlier, I would have been stuck in a routine that couldn’t change until he graduated from high school. He was born just at the right time for me to transition out of my full time job.
  • I’m relatively healthy for a 43 year old American guy. I have a minor genetic disorder, a mild form of mitochondrial disease. My triglycerides are also a bit high, but it’s under control with medication. I think I’m pretty healthy compared to many Americans my age. I did 19 pull ups earlier this year and that was my best yet.
  • Our 6 day trip to Hawaii cost just $600 and we had a great time. Our flights and hotel were almost free and we got upgraded to a penthouse room for no extra charge. We ate many delicious meals that didn’t cost too much at all. It was a fantastic trip for very little money.

Are all these lucky breaks random chances? Some of them may feel like random chances, but many of them are the result of small choices made over many years.

Luck isn’t random chance

Tell me if this is random. RB40Jr used to find coins almost every time we went outside. He refused to ride in a stroller when he was 18 months old and he walked everywhere with me and Mrs. RB40. On most of these walks, he’d find coins on the ground, in the parking meter machines, MAX ticket machines, and in various fountains around town. It was a game for him and he loved finding coins. Was it lucky that he found money everywhere he went? He must have found more than $60 over the years.

Unfortunately, he rarely finds coins now that he’s 6 years old. Maybe it’s because he’s further away from the ground, his attention is elsewhere, and he is less lucky. No, finding those coins weren’t really luck. He found those coins because he was looking for them. Now he is preoccupied with other stuff and he’s focused on reaching his destination. He doesn’t look around for the coins as much and he rarely find them anymore. Being lucky is really keeping your eyes open for opportunities.

Some of my lucky breaks were purely random. Being born to college educated parents in a country full of uneducated farmers was pure lucky chance. You couldn’t do much to influence your luck when you’re a kid. Okay, that’s not quite true. My dad became an orphan when he was 5 years old and went to live with his uncle. At the time, the education requirement in Thailand was for kids to finish 4th grade. When my dad finished 4th grade, his uncle wanted him to quit school and work at his business. The uncle told him he wouldn’t get lunch if he insisted on going to school. It’s simple – no work, no lunch money. My dad loved going to school so he decided to continue even without lunch. He doesn’t talk about his youth much so I don’t know all the details, but somehow he graduated with very good grades and got into a university in Bangkok. That’s pretty crazy, right? See, you can influence your luck even when you’re young.

Anyway, our family immigrated to the U.S. when I was 12 years old. That was another big lucky break for me. There are so many more opportunities here for people who work hard. However, there was some behind the scene machinations there too. My dad came to the US first to see how he’d do here. He was thinking about going back to Thailand until his kids (me and my brothers) wrote him a letter asking him to bring us all to the US. If we hadn’t offered our full support and encouragement, I’d have grow up in Thailand and you’d probably wouldn’t ever hear of me.

Lucky with money

I’ve been very lucky with money too. I got a well paying job right out of college and had stable income for 16 years. There is no doubt luck was an element, but there has got to be more to it than that. I got an MS in electrical and computer engineering in 1996. That’s right before the dot com boom. It was the perfect time to be in computer engineering. My alma mater had a 5 year BS/MS program and I was lucky enough to get into the program. The MS gave me a little edge and helped me get early promotions. I was in the right field at the right time.

I saved and invested diligently for 16 years and left my engineering career behind in 2012. Against all expectations, our net worth kept increasing and it has doubled since I retired from the rat race. I’m very lucky that Mrs. RB40 continues to work and aikido-barnaul is making some income so we can continue to save and look for new investing opportunities.

Again, it wasn’t all luck. I was reading a lot of personal finance blogs in 2010 and the site name, aikido-barnaul, popped into my head one day. I didn’t hesitate and started blogging right away. 2010 was a good time to start blogging because there were only a few early retirement sites on the internet. I got in relatively early and had a head start. I think it is a lot harder to stand out now because there are so many excellent personal finance blogs. Was it luck that I started blogging in 2010 or did my gut recognize an opportunity and seized it?

Lucky with love

Oh, this one is really tricky. I married way above myself. Mrs. RB40 is smart, frugal, ambitious, beautiful, and she is the perfect partner for me. We love each other very much and we have a great son. That’s a lot of luck because half of all marriages end in divorce. The odds are even longer considering we met each other in college and she went off to Peace Corps for 3 years after she graduated. Everyone we knew didn’t think it was going to work out. People grow and change a ton at that age and 3 years is a very long time when you’re 22.

But finding the love of my life wasn’t complete random chance either. Let me tell you how we met. I was a junior in college and I started a Thai student club. I wanted to meet some students from similar backgrounds and the college had a little money in the budget for that kind of thing. Hey, why not get a few dollars back from all that tuition I was paying? Our inaugural meeting was at Girvetz Hall and the power went out before anyone showed up. I figured that no one would be there, so I didn’t show up either, but Mrs. RB40 got a hold of my phone number somehow and called me back to hold the meeting. Oh boy, was she mad that I wasn’t there. Anyway, she took over as president the next year and made it a much better club than I ever could. We started dating each other soon after.

The Peace Corps years were tough. I don’t even want to talk about it. We both wanted to explore our options. It was a miracle we got back together and made it work. Our relationship hasn’t always been smooth, but we understand and support each other completely now. We’re both very lucky to have each other.

How to be lucky in life

Sorry, this one got a little personal and a little long, but I hope you enjoy it. My point is that being lucky isn’t just random chance. A lot of it depends on your actions too. Here are some ways to become luckier in life.

  • Keep an eyes open for chance opportunities. Lucky people excel in creating, recognizing, and taking advantage of chance opportunities. The world is full of opportunities. Lucky people seize them and unlucky people let opportunities pass on by.
  • Hard work = more opportunities. Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a great believer in luck. I’ve found that the harder I work, the more I have of it.” I agree 100%. Hard work creates more opportunities. My dad could have given up on school, become a laborer, and have hot lunches every day, but he persisted. That’s a hard choice for a kid to make. Hard work might not pay off right away, but it builds up like karma.
  • Don’t get stuck in a routine. This is an interesting one I found in my research for this article. If you get stuck in a routine, you’ll exhaust the possible opportunities because you’re doing the same thing every day. Try something new and you might find new possibilities. Maybe this is why I’m planning to join Toastmasters this year. It will be a huge break from my normal routine and who knows, there might be some opportunities there.
  • Learn new things every day. I love reading and learning new things. Getting exposed to new ideas will help you dream up more opportunities. If I hadn’t been reading personal finance blogs in 2008 and 2009, I wouldn’t have started blogging in 2010. Learning new things is a great way to keep life interesting.
  • Trust your instincts. This is another tip that I found in my research. Your intuition excels at pattern recognition and it is designed to help you. My gut told me I need to quit engineering and get out of the rat race. Logically, it didn’t make sense. I was making good money and I could have gotten another job elsewhere. It was right and I am much happier today than when I was an engineer. Your gut is right 95% of the time and everyone should pay attention to it. I don’t want to trivialize the Las Vegas shooting, but there is an example there too. One guy’s gut said he heard gunfire, but his brain said it was fireworks. I’d trust my gut and run as fast as I can. Sometime you don’t want to over analyze it. Your gut works best when you need to make a snap decision.
  • Believe you’re lucky. Being lucky is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you’re lucky, you will be lucky. It works, trust me.
  • Don’t sweat the bad stuff. Of course, I’m not lucky all the time. I’ve had plenty of bad luck too, like the time I was on my way to visit not-yet-Mrs. RB40 and totaled my car. She had to come and pick me up. However, I usually forget about the bad luck very quickly. You have got to look at the upside in life. I walked away with no injury from that car crash and it could have been a lot worse. Thank your lucky stars even if you had an unlucky incident because it could always be worse.

Choose to be lucky

Before we end today, I encourage you to choose to be lucky. Here is an example. Warren Buffett believes he is very lucky because he was born a Caucasian male in the United States. White nationalists believe they are being discriminated against and they are mad that they didn’t get the job they applied for. Who do you think is luckier in life? Yes, Warren Buffett had some advantages, but the country hasn’t changed that much. The alt-right people are picking the wrong narrative and success won’t be easy for them.

Okay, what about you? Are you lucky in life?

Are you lucky in life?

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Don’t believe that being lucky is just random chance. A lot of it is influenced by you. If you’re unlucky, you can turn it around. Just do more research on the subject because there is a ton of stuff on the internet. There is even a class that will teach you to be lucky. (Maybe I should make a course about this. Do I hear opportunity calling?)

Alright, let me know what you think. Are you lucky in life? Most of you are probably just as lucky or luckier than I am.

PS. On Wednesday, I went to the city hall to buy some guest parking permits and they gave me an unexpected one month free parking sticker. Score! That’s not all, I also got $100 public transit fast pass and a year of bike sharing. All for free, woohoo! My luck came through once again. 😉

Related article

Richard Wiseman did a research on lucky people. This is a short paper to read and it’s pretty interesting. The Luck Factor.

Image credit: VIKTOR HANACEK

{ 63 comments… add one }
  • Harald @NonlinearThings October 5, 2017, 12:33 am

    Hey RB40,
    that was a great article. Especially the list “How to be lucky in life”. I sometimes give myself a hard time and tell me that others just got lucky. Nevertheless I am also a firm believer in this Jefferson quote saying that hard work equals more opportunities (= more luck). In Germany we even have a proverb for that (“das Glück ist mit den Tüchtigen”…if there are any Germans here. Fun fact, I just found out that it is actually a Latin proverb “fortes fortuna diuvat”).

    Kind regards

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 6:04 am

      Yes, fortune favors the bold. You have to take chances sometime. Hard work definitely helps a lot. You can always rely on hard word. “Luck has a way of evaporating when you lean on it.” – Brandon Mull.

  • Michael @ Financially Alert October 5, 2017, 1:12 am

    You are definitely lucky, Joe! I am too. I think luck is definitely part perception, part chance, and a lot of focus. Just like your son who used to look for coins on the ground, whatever we focus on we tend to find. A lot of people dismiss successful people as “lucky” because they don’t see all the time they’ve been in the game trying to produce the result that seems “lucky”. You and I both know that early retirement is lucky, but not unintentional. 😉

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:00 am

      Right! Luck isn’t just chance. Many things come together to create good luck. Having a goal and being open for opportunities definitely helps.

      • Pennypincher October 5, 2017, 9:47 am

        Yes, and timing is important too. Being in the right place at the right time.

  • Pennypincher October 5, 2017, 1:24 am

    Certain situations can be lucky and/or unlucky. Take a real estate transaction-it’s like a crap shoot. You can have good luck and bad luck until the final closing. It’s how you respond to the bad luck that matters. Resilience!
    And when things go wrong, I always say that line “Could be worse”. It helps, try it!
    I would say that meeting and marrying Mrs.RB40 was your luckiest move, for sure! : )

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:01 am

      That’s what I do too. Most unlucky situations really could be a lot worse. Yeap! I’m very lucky to have her. 😉

  • Ernie Zelinski October 5, 2017, 1:28 am

    Sure, I have been lucky in life. When I was kid until 14 years of age, my family lived on a farm without any electricity, running water, or a telephone. Nonetheless, I was lucky to have been born in Canada where there is great opportunity (that most people will never ever acknowledge or notice) to escape poverty and live a much better life.

    Now that I earn a better income than 97 percent of people my age, all my critics and some of my acquaintances say that I am lucky (compared to them). These words of wisdom by people much smarter than me apply:

    “All successful men have agreed in one thing, — they were causationists. They believed that things went not by luck, but by law; that there was not a weak or a cracked link in the chain that joins the first and last of things.”
    — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “The worst cynicism: a belief in luck.”
    — Joyce Carol Oates

    “People always call it luck when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have.”
    — Anne Tyler

    “We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?”
    — Jean Cocteau

    “All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck — who keeps right on going — is the man who is there when the good luck comes — and is ready to receive it.”
    — Robert Collier

    “Chance is the one thing you can’t buy. You have to pay for it and you have to pay for it with your life, spending a lot of time, you pay for it with time, not the wasting of time but the spending of time.”
    — Robert Doisneau

    “I think luck is the sense to recognize an opportunity and the ability to take advantage of it. The man who can smile at his breaks and grab his chances gets on.”
    — Samuel Goldwyn

    “The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.”
    — Douglas Macarthur

    “Luck can often mean simple taking advantage of a situation at the right moment, It is possible to ”make” your luck by being always prepared.”
    — Michael Korda

    “Luck is being in the right place at the right time, but location and timing are to some extent under our control.”
    — Natasha Josefowitz

    “Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us. But it has a way of favoring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid.”
    — John Dewey

    “The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck.”
    — Channing Pollock

    “When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize
    that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.”
    — Dalai Lama

    “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.”
    — Rainer Maria Rilke

    “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”
    — Norman Vincent Peale

    “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
    — Thomas Jefferson

    “In the arena of human life the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”
    — Aristotle

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:05 am

      I enjoy the luck quotes. I read a few when I was researching this post and it was fun to see different perspectives.
      We lived in a cabin with no electricity or running water for a few years. I don’t have bad memories about it except when I needed to go to the restroom at night. It was scary.

  • Mr. Tako October 5, 2017, 1:33 am

    I know a lot of successful people like to believe it was all hard work, but I tend to be more realistic than that — really successful people are also quite lucky with tons of advantages to put them in the right spot at the right time.

    Like you Joe, I feel pretty lucky. I didn’t win the lottery, but when it comes to being in the right place at the right time I feel like I did — A couple great jobs, a wonderful wife, a good education, and two awesome kids.

    You could say I did a lot of work to have all those things fall into place, but I don’t like to brag. The hard work are par for the course of capturing great opportunities.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:07 am

      I agree that it’s a mixture of luck and hard work. Having both is the ingredient for success and happiness. I was in the right place at the right time for a lot of stuff too. It’s pretty interesting to look back and realize how lucky I was.

  • GYM October 5, 2017, 2:50 am

    Awe beautiful story! How timely, too- My husband said to me this evening: we are very lucky to have such a sweet baby and to be with each other! And we are!

    As Warren Buffett says, he “won the ovarian lottery” 🙂 and I agree that if you think you’re lucky good things happen to you. I am a true believer of gratitude and of the power of positive thinking.

    Your dad was amazing for skipping lunch and choosing to learn instead of working for the business.

    Yes, marriages and relationships starting in their 20s often don’t work out, there’s so much change, but how sweet you and MRs RB40 have been together for over 20 years!! Thats very commendable.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:09 am

      Congrats! You’re very lucky.
      I think my dad was pretty amazing too. He did what he had to do to survive and thrive. Not sure if I could have done the same.

  • Budget on a Stick October 5, 2017, 3:35 am

    I am extremely lucky!
    I had friends that played computer games while we were in school which led me to my job as a software developer.
    I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to meet my amazing wife.
    Lucky to have someone tell me to contribute 15% of my income into my 401k right out of college.
    We picked up our perfect house because the realtor messed up where we were wanting to buy and added a neighborhood we didn’t think of.
    All of which brought us our two wonderful boys?

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:11 am

      That’s great! Believing that you’re lucky makes a big difference. Good luck will keep coming. It works.
      Sounds like you’re doing very well. Congratulations.

  • Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle October 5, 2017, 3:43 am

    I don’t believe in luck or chance. I believe that if I listen to God, then His path for me will be the best one. He’s much gut instinct, no doubt. That has helped us in many different situations, when I listened to my gut (aka God). I also believe that those that get further also work harder. They’re willing to put the time and effort in, and willing to sacrifice more to get where they feel they need to be.

    Also, Mrs. RB40 sounds so awesome. 🙂 And it’s super sweet that you recognize her for who she is and what she does in y’alls life! Good husband indeed!

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:14 am

      Believing in God works very well too. Luck is very similar. If you believe you’re lucky, then you’ll be lucky. I think a lot of it is in the brain and how you react to life.

  • Ramona October 5, 2017, 3:59 am

    Super post Joe! Very thought provoking.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:14 am

      Thanks! I really appreciate your compliment.

  • Darren @ Learn to Be Great October 5, 2017, 4:41 am


    We’re all very lucky to be able to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we have, earned or given.

    My folks immigrated to the U.S. when I was very little. When I was a child, they told me repeatedly that I had more opportunities here than I ever would have had in South Korea. I spent quite a few years in South Korea during my military service and I agree with them. Even though South Korea’s economy is one of the world’s richest (top 15 I believe), it’s much harder to get ahead there than it is here in the U.S.

    I’m lucky to live in the U.S., a country that, despite all our imperfections, provides to those who seize the opportunities given to them. I’m very grateful to be an American.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:17 am

      Sometime I wonder what my life would be like if we stayed in Thailand. My cousins are doing pretty well. There are good opportunities there for smart hard working people too. It’s definitely much easier here for our generation. Hopefully, our kid will have similar opportunities.

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance October 5, 2017, 4:44 am

    I LOVE this post! Thank you for sharing your story! It’s really sweet how you and Mrs. RB50 met and started a family. I’m so glad you two overcame all the challenges to finally be together.

    I believe that luck is extremely important although opportunity and preparation is key. Sometimes I feel like there is an external force out there somewhere that is like the finally ingredient in the outcome. It could make or break the result.

    But I also believe in hard work, and I can tell that you have put a lot of hard work in all the lucky events you mentioned above. 🙂

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 9:19 am

      Thank you! Our meeting story is fun, isn’t it? 🙂
      You’re right about luck, opportunity, preparation, and hard work. Sometime everything just come together to make a really good outcome.

  • Turning Point Money October 5, 2017, 4:48 am

    I truly believe you have to set up your life for luck. Usually luck is bestowed to the people who show up to receive it. I received some fortunate breaks over the years that could have went the other way. I have a fantastic wife, two great little kids and a wonderful life. We suffered a few unfortunate breaks, but we never focused on them. We focused on how to remedy the situation and were confident luck would find its way back to us.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:01 pm

      Exactly! You have to make many good decisions on small matters and eventually good things will come out of them.

  • Mr. Freaky Frugal October 5, 2017, 5:04 am

    Warren Buffett also describes his luck as winning the Ovarian Lottery. I won the Ovarian Lottery too:

    – Parents were frugal and taught me to be frugal
    – Dad taught me it’s normal to save and invest money in the stock market
    – Parents were DIY so taught me lots of useful skills
    – Parents paid for undergraduate and graduate school
    – Not PC, but I’m white and male

    I did get completely lucky finding my wife. I’m thankful for that everyday because I’m not always the best husband.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:03 pm

      That’s amazing. My parents did somethings right and somethings wrong, but overall they were great. It’s very lucky to have good parents.

  • FI3000 October 5, 2017, 5:15 am

    We really do make most of our own luck. One of my old mentors used to tell me: “Remember it takes at least 10 years of hard work to become an overnight success.”

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:05 pm

      Right. I started blogging about early retirement in 2010 and retired in 2012. Did it took just 2 years to retire early? No, I’ve been saving and investing for 16 years. Hard work will pay off most of the time.

  • Sarah De Diego October 5, 2017, 5:26 am

    Dear RB40,

    I think that luck (I also refer to it as life) is a lot about perspective.

    I believe that there is a silver lining in everything (and I mean everything) and it’s up to you to find your “luck”.

    Almost eight years ago, I held my son while he took his last breath. For me, I believe that I am a better parent because of his birth and passing as I have a (better) understanding of how precious life is. I wish that I didn’t need to lose my son to teach me that (and maybe I wouldn’t have) but this is my life and I want to make the most of it. I only have one shot.

    I commend all that you and your family have accomplished throughout your lives. Whatever you call it and whoever you give credit to, I’m happy to hear that you are happy.

    Besos Sarah.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:06 pm

      A lot of it is about perspective. It’s how your treat events that happens in life. If you look out for lucky breaks, you’ll find them.
      I’m sorry to hear about your son. That’s heartbreaking.

  • [email protected] October 5, 2017, 5:48 am

    Fantastic Joe! It’s better to be lucky than good! I’m lucky as well. I grew up in a wonderful middle class family which has given me every opportunity to chase my dreams. I also married way above my head with a woman smarter and better looking than me. I do agree that we make our own luck a bit. I’ve been lucky to earn some great gains in the stock market this year. However, I would have missed out on them if I did not invest every excess dollar diligently.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:08 pm

      It’s best to be lucky and good. 😉
      Great job and keep it up.

  • Steveark October 5, 2017, 5:52 am

    I agree with your sentiment but not too much with your odds. The main reasons you are where you are the same ones as mine. Like you I had college educated parents from a place few people had college degrees. Like you I was crazy smart. Like you I majored in a field that less than 5% of humanity could master if you put a gun to their head. Like you I have a great wife and kids (in our 40th year of marriage). But the fact is most smart engineers can retire early, almost never get divorced (divorce rate is less than 13% for all engineers and practically zero for successful ones) and generally lead happy lives. You and I are on the good end of the bell curve but we aren’t that unusual.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:11 pm

      I’m not that smart.
      That’s an interesting point, though. I’d love to see more data about engineers.
      I still think I’m very lucky, regardless of the odd.

  • Dividend Growth Investor October 5, 2017, 5:57 am


    I believe that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. While you had some lucky breaks, you also worked very hard to get to where you are. So while hard work doesn’t always guarantee success, you took chances to improve your life and be happier.

    Congrats on the 5 year retirement anniversary!


  • Mr. FWP October 5, 2017, 5:58 am

    Great points, Joe. God has blessed some of us a lot.

    Also great to remember that hard work + luck goes a lot farther. I believe in one of Gladwell’s books he points out that the tech giants (Gates, etc.) we’re all working very hard and seizing opportunities when luck struck them. But even if it hadn’t, they would have done well, we just might not know their names.

    You can make a lot of “luck” for yourself by doing those things. Diligence and attitude are key.

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify October 5, 2017, 6:05 am

    Like most things in life, it’s not an either/or proposition. I think much of one’s luck is self made. Like RB40 Jrs. finding of coins. He put himself in position to be lucky finding coins. On the other hand, sometimes good (or not so good) fortune finds us with little intention or intervention on our part. Which one of these would you choose….

    I’d rather be lucky than good, OR
    I’d rather be good at being lucky

    RB40 Jr. was good at being lucky finding those coins. I’ll trust my instinct and stick with him.
    Great post.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2017, 12:13 pm

      I’d rather be lucky and good. That’s somewhat up to you as well. If you pursue the things you’re good at, then you’re more likely to be lucky. Thanks!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher October 5, 2017, 6:06 am

    I love this! I’ve been lucky with my life circumstances, for sure. I do believe in creating luck for myself, though. In my head I think of it as planting seeds. If I reach out to 10 freelance clients today, maybe in a few weeks I’ll actually land a client and it’ll be amazing. That’s not luck; it’s just creating opportunities for my future self.

    I think that’s what the pursuit of FIRE is all about–making opportunities for yourself when we’re told there aren’t any.

  • Veneta @ Becoming Life Smart October 5, 2017, 6:42 am

    I agree with you, I think luck is as much hard work as it’s opportunity. I’ve been very lucky in many ways as well but know other people who have also been presented with similar opportunities and not taken them.

    Just like you, my parents emigrated to the US when I was 13. They worked two jobs each below their education level because they wanted to give us the opportunity of a better life. They hustled and worked hard, bought a house and put both me and my sister through college. They were “lucky” according to many but I think a lot of their luck was due to hard work.

    I had never left the country before I came to the US and did not speak much English but I loved the opportunity to learn and grow. The times when I have not worked hard and just coasted by, I have noticed my luck evaporates.

    For me, luck is the combination of hard work and a positive outlook. When those two things are combined, you see opportunities everywhere.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2017, 8:55 am

      I like the way you look at it. Hard work and a positive outlook will get you most of the way toward being lucky.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks October 5, 2017, 7:01 am

    When I was a kid, the best spot to find some change was underneath soda machines 😉

    I’m with you, we are all born with different advantages or disadvantages, but it’s the people who make the best of the opportunities they do get who will find success.

  • Money Beagle October 5, 2017, 7:07 am

    In many cases, you make your own luck. Obviously many of the things you mentioned were outside of your control, but many of them may have been influenced by a positive attitude and ambition. Those things don’t guarantee you’ll be more lucky than anyone else, but they can definitely improve your odds tremendously.

  • Okiepennypincher October 5, 2017, 7:28 am

    You have a blessed life. I thank God everyday that my life has turned out well. I think your post makes all of us reflect on the things that make our lives so good. Great post!

  • [email protected] October 5, 2017, 8:49 am

    I believe you create your own luck. If you set your goals, it will help you recognize the opportunities along the way and create what everybody else will refer to as “luck”. Two individuals can be presented with the same opportunity and only one may be lucky! Living in developed countries like ours makes everything possible and for that we are lucky.

  • FullTimeFinance October 5, 2017, 9:40 am

    Luck favors the prepared. I’ve been neither lucky or unlucky consistently, but when I have been lucky I’ve made a point of taking advantage of the opportunity.

  • Lily @ The Frugal Gene October 5, 2017, 11:47 am

    I’ve had a very similar post to this in my mind where I analyze my luck. It was hard to categorize immigrating to America as anything BUT luck since I had no involvement in that. My parents had an opportunity to come and thankfully they took it. Coming to the US, I’m about 90%+ lucky.

    I won the lottery with my husband. Not just the lottery, the Powerball with a 1,000 million jackpot – that’s how lucky I feel. But then again, is attraction lucky? Marriage/relationships are not lucky! They are work. They are a reflection of that person (as a provider, as a man/woman, as a human being.) So for your second bullet point I have to go with “it’s all you Joe.”

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2017, 8:58 am

      Congrats with winning the marriage lottery. 🙂 That seems to be more difficult these days. You’re right about having to work at the relationship. You have to be lucky to find the right person and also keep working at it. 🙂

  • Kris October 5, 2017, 3:01 pm

    If you make the best of what’s in front of you by taking advantage of opportunities and being prepared then you have a greater chance to gaining that luck. And thus you create that luck!!
    I was born here in the US but my parents immigrated from the Philippines and sometimes I would imagine how my life would have been if I was born over there.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2017, 8:59 am

      Sometime I wonder how I’d do if we stayed in Thailand. It probably would have been fine because there were good opportunities for educated people. I probably would have lived a much more conventional lifestyle, though.

  • Dads Dollars Debts October 5, 2017, 8:46 pm

    Well said sir. Luck = opportunity + preparedness. Can’t take advantage of the opportunity unless you are prepared. This was a fantastic read and I appreciate you sharing it with us.

  • Ritesh Bhagwati October 5, 2017, 10:57 pm

    You are accurate about being lucky is more about self-prophecy than a random chance. I am also believer about the fact that what you thinketh is what you are. What you are is what you become eventually. I know at times this becomes annoying when the results don’t add up to your expectations but like they say, faith can move mountains; so I always keep the desire to achieve a certain expectations in my mind constantly and I believe sooner or later I will definitely achieve what I wish to achieve.

  • Brad - MaximizeYourMoney.com October 6, 2017, 3:54 am

    I agree that luck isn’t as random as many people think. We have a lot more impact on it then usually acknowledged.

  • D Lindsey October 6, 2017, 7:17 am

    Hi RB40,

    Love the blog – read it every weekend.

    If you ever wanted to read an interesting book about logic and intuition read “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a great read and cites research about when using logic and data to make decisions is appropriate versus intuition. It’s pretty eye opening.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2017, 9:01 am

      Thank you for the recommendation. It’s on my reading list now. It sounds like a good book. Sometime you have to use logic and sometime intuition. I guess snap decisions are better with intuition. If you have time, then probably logic.

  • Michael October 8, 2017, 12:46 am

    Hi RB40, I finally took the plunge and started a blog … I am still figuring out the buttons to push and wrote a few blurbs … the blogs so far are just for testing the waters and finding out how to put Categories and Tags in and a few photos … You must have spent hours, weeks, years figuring out this bloggy stuff …. and yet it is fun … I am still getting my feet wet and have only been on the net a few days … We have had the national holidays these past days and so I have had time … it has some elements of a financial blog … but the focus is broader … on international professionals overseas …. even tested a blurb on cruising … God Bless, Michael … CPO

  • David October 8, 2017, 8:42 am

    Wow haven’t heard girvetz hall in 20 years. Glad to see a gaucho making their own luck in life.

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2017, 8:52 am

      Go Goucho! 😀

  • HP @ Full-Time Dollars October 8, 2017, 11:11 am

    Hi there,

    I can relate to a few of the “lucky breaks” that you mention. My parents immigrated here from Vietnam. I am a 1st generation citizen. I believe that dictated many of the decisions I made throughout my life. Living in the US has provided me great opportunities that I would not be able to pursue in Vietnam. For that, I am blessed. On your second point, I too graduated with a MBA, with no debt using a fast track program. Lastly, I married my partner-in-crime who shares the same views and allows me to dream big. Cheers to you.

  • Mr. Money Voyage October 9, 2017, 9:05 am

    Great stuff. My wife and I would often talk about how “lucky” we’ve gotten but through the conversation (which went almost exactly like your post), we’d break it down to the hard work and preparation that enables you to take advantage of those opportunities that many call luck.

    It is easy to get stuck in the blaming luck pattern when things aren’t going well – gotta remember that there is so much in your own control.

  • Jason Butler October 9, 2017, 5:12 pm

    I definitely believe that I’m lucky. Over the years I’ve won multiple contests and even won some prizes on a game show. I expect to win. A persons mindset can make or break them. I choose to believe that I am lucky and I know that good things will continue to happen in all aspects of my life.

  • Manjari October 25, 2017, 7:53 am

    Hello RB40,

    A very nice article. As they say, if you truly believe in something, the whole universe conspires to make it come true. So the positive attitude to believe that you are lucky makes you lucky I guess 🙂

    Btw, I’m curious to know more about the $600 Hawaii trip :D.


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