I’ve never been a big fan of working for the man. My entire life I knew I eventually wanted to work for myself, not those jerks who insisted I wear pants to work every day.
But it was always a ‘someday’ goal. Like most people it was easier for me to make a steady paycheck, even if I was operating at unhappy stress levels and answering a hundred pointless emails a day. The idea of giving up my job was daunting, though. How was I going to feed myself? Pay my rent? Be able to afford the best cable?
A year and a half ago my latest job ended and I’m determined to never go back. Full disclosure, for the last eight years I’ve worked on and off, sometimes taking almost a year off at a time to pursue my own dreams. How, you ask, furiously pounding your fists on your office desk. How can I escape this death cubicle that is slowly sucking my soul?
Here’s how I was able to strike out on my own and concentrate on doing what really matters to me.
- I Made Quitting My #1 Goal
Freedom. Sweet ass freedom. That’s always been the most important goal in my life. Being able to quit a job I didn’t like or travel for a few months, to concentrate on doing what makes me happy, is my main goal.
Decide what’s important to you. What does your life revolve around? If you want to live in a beautiful house, afford nice jewelry and expensive trips then you’re going to have to find a way to pay for it. Or marry well.
I decided I wanted the luxury of quitting my job and following my dreams. Which means giving up on other dreams that don’t fit with that goal. So my lifestyle revolves around being free to do what I want. Which can come with that nasty little word -sacrifice. I like to think of it as prioritizing. I decided freedom was my most important goal and all (actually most, or a lot of) my choices revolved around that.
- I Limited My Expenses
Money, it’s pretty important for living. And when you stop making it your expenses don’t go away.
It’s just me. I don’t have a husband to help with expenses, I’m in charge of every health insurance bill and mortgage payment. My phone company doesn’t give a damn if I want to have the freedom to go hiking on a Tuesday morning. They don’t care that I’d like to follow my dreams.
The biggest reason I’ve been able to ride the unemployed, underemployed, sometimes employed train is my ability to save money when I’m making it and keep my expenses down when I don’t.
That’s why I keep it cheap. I’m pretty sure I was born a bony assed tightwad. In high school I borrowed other people’s prom dresses because I didn’t want my mom to spend money on a new one. My car is 14 years old, and she’s not so pretty anymore, but I haven’t had a car payment for the last 6 years. I get my haircut 2, maybe 3 times a year and most of my furniture is from a fancy little place called Craigslist.
Because I want to have the freedom to live my life I can’t be encumbered by material things. Some people want to redo their kitchen, or drive something nice, but I see that money as 4 more months of freedom to do what I want.
That doesn’t mean I don’t indulge. But when I spend money on something I usually choose experiences over material goods. That’s why my passport is full of stamps and my car is crappy.
I was able to quit my 9-5 because saving is my bitch, I saved roughly 1-2 years worth of expenses before I let go of my job for good. I’m not saying you need to have 2 years worth of savings but you do need to be prepared, with at least 4-6 months of expenses. Your money will go faster than you think and the more money you save, the more you’ve hacked down your expenses, the better you’ll be.
- I Was Prepared to Side Hustle
Yes, I put away a ton of money so I wouldn’t have to work a full-time job. But I didn’t want to blow through all my money while I was working on my novel but also watching too many Law and Order: SVU repeats. So to keep my money from dwindling (although dwindle it does) I found several ways to make some side cash.
I freelance write, pet sit and babysit to make extra money. Right now there are literally hundreds of side jobs you can try to keep the electricity on in your house. With some extra hustle you too can make money to keep the lights on. Know how to cook, design, do handy things around the house or put a sentence together? Somewhere out there on the interwebs or in person, someone is looking for your skills. You just have to go to the right places to find them. Let your network know you’re available for odd jobs or find a skill or semi-skill you can take advantage of.
For me it was simple, I want to be able to choose the jobs I want, the direction of my career and I decided that the freelance lifestyle was for me. To make that easier I doubled down on being a tightwad, I put my saving into overdrive and I was willing to do the odd jobs that came my way to keep money in my bank account.
How much do you want it? Do you want to quit your job? What’s standing in your way?