Guest Post: I Just Quit My Day Job to Write Full-Time

Feb
14
2013

writing-2This is a guest post from Amanda at Frugal Confessions.   If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, please contact me.

My husband and I have played our financial cards right. Upon getting engaged in the summer of 2009, we sat down to discuss our finances. In our meeting of the minds we decided to not only pay cash for our wedding and a down payment on our home, but to also get out of the $25,000 in our combined personal debts within a year. We knew the amount of strain money can place on a marriage so we made it a priority to mitigate this strain as much as possible from the beginning as much as possible. While it took a little bit longer than a year to accomplish all of this (14 months), since September 1, 2010 we have been non-mortgage debt free. On top of this we both have been maxing out our Roth IRA accounts for years, contributing to our employer’s retirement funds, and have saved up eight months in an emergency savings account.

We’ve done all of the “right” things with our money by conscientiously choosing to live a frugal lifestyle, paying off our debts, and prioritizing savings. But so what?

I am not trying to downplay the incredible blessings and obvious benefits we have reaped from living a purposeful, frugal lifestyle. Our future is looking bright, and our life has been incredible so far. We could have easily continued down this cushioned path of two people working 9-5 jobs, saving/investing an entire person’s pay each month, and accumulating our wealth for days to come. Trust me when I say that we would have continued to feel very blessed had we decided to do so. But ever since we paid off our debt and consistently saved 29-40% of our annual take home pay, we have been searching for meaning beyond just numbers. You see, money is wonderful to have and to be in control of, but a big stash of it doesn’t come with happiness. It can bring comforts, security, stability, and the absence of it can bring a lot of misery. But living a life of accumulating savings/investing/retirement—rinse and repeat—is not enough for us.

This is when we began to look at lifestyle design. I have dreamt of being a writer since second grade, a dream I thought I would never have the chance to pursue due to the obstacles involved. Still, dreams are hard to repress. I created my blog during a bout of unemployment in the summer of 2008, and have worked 30+ hours each week on it for the last four years while maintaining a full-time job as an environmental investigator. For the last two and a half years, I have made side income each month ranging from money to cover a date night all the way to enough to pay the mortgage. With our finances in order—debt paid off, locked in to a great interest rate on a 15 year mortgage that is 30% of my husband’s take-home pay, healthy retirement accounts—I knew that it was time to give our lives a redesign so that I could give self-employment a try.

It may sound easy to have pulled the plug with my husband’s steady paycheck still coming into the household. But it wasn’t. My husband and I sat down for several heart-to-heart discussions over the past year where we talked about our future, our present, our dreams, and our finances. Paul was completely supportive and onboard; he truly believed in me, which was just incredible. It was me who floundered a bit. I worried about the transition, about writer’s block and burnout, about no longer being able to save 40% of our net income, about whether or not we wanted children and how that would play into this, about the guilt I felt in leaving a decent job in a field that I liked, etc. But then one day in early January as I got out of my car and started walking into work, it just hit me. All of my fears, guilt, and questioning literally melted away and I just knew that the building I was about to walk into was no longer where I was meant to be. It took an incredible amount of courage to tell my boss, but in the end, the most difficult filter I had to get through was me.

The biggest lesson we have learned from this experience is that money for money’s sake is no good. You can earn and save a million dollars, leverage that into a billion dollars, but at what expense? Instead of accumulating more than any person or couple could need, why not learn how to live on less of it instead and cash out on a better life? The new thinking in our household is to make enough money to sustain our modestly comfortable lifestyle as well as to max out our retirement savings. With the time and energy our new goal of financial moderation has freed up, we will invest in our own happiness instead.

 

Comments

  1. LOVE this post! This is something that we’re debating with since we plan on buying a new house soon. Should we buy something big or something reasonable so that our expenses will remain low and we can have more fun?
    Michelle recently posted…How I eliminated my debt in less than 1 yearMy Profile

  2. Hi Tony!

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted…Blogging and Writing Full-Time: Financial Changes to ComeMy Profile

  3. sylvia edna says:

    Congratulations Amanda, what a wonderful and inspiring story. It sounds a lot like the decision my husband and I made 5 years ago when our daughter was born. Good luck

    • Thank you so much sylvia edna!

      So you have been a stay at home mom for the past five years, or self-employed (or both)? I would be interested in hearing any lessons you have learned.
      Amanda L Grossman recently posted…My Frugal Resume: Contributing to Our Household’s Finances in More Ways than EarningMy Profile

      • sylvia edna says:

        I’ve been mainly a stay at home mom, after quitting my corporate job. I freelance on the web, used to write for two major content sites, but now I run my own Spanish language site at http://www.solocontestas.com concentrating on personal finance for first generation Hispanics.

        Lessons learned:

        It is hard to stay still at home. I have a big need to constantly create something, whatever it is, even a blog entry. I think this is because I’ve been working since 17.

        It is good to slow down in life, sometimes. Like you said on your entry, life is not only about the numbers. I’ve been trained in Accounting and Finance, so I think I know a little bit of this.

        Living modestly and paying all your debts leads to much happiness and freedom to choose your lifestyle.

        Always pay the last penny of your debts, even if it takes you a long time – it’s really bad karma if you don’t.

  4. This is great! I love hearing about people being able to fulfill their dreams once their financial house is in order. I have a LONG way to go before our (non-mortgage) debt is paid off but I will likely cut back on work drastically to pursue writing full time as well. I also love it but it won’t pay my current bills :) Good luck to you and your family!
    Catherine recently posted…My Biggest Money Mistake, Ever.My Profile

  5. Such a fine post, Amanda! An incredibly fun and enjoyable read. First, those money numbers are beautiful although I know you wanted to pair them with meaning. Sometimes technique and seemingly meaningless boring numbers help create the foundation for great beauty.

    My wife and I went through a similar transformation beginning 2006 or so and are actually still in its throws. And we did it backwards! The finances came last. We still have considerable debt, but we cut our hours in half years ago and began working the money in 2012. Now the loans are beginning to fall one by one while we indulge our passions.

    Thanks for a marvy post!
    cj recently posted…What If?My Profile

  6. Wow. Congrats on such a huge decision! It’s great that you have the support of your husband. I completely, 100% agree that money for money’s sake is no good. Chase those dreams!
    Daisy @ Add Vodka recently posted…You Live in a Whaa? (The Pros and Cons of Being a Van Dweller)My Profile

  7. Congratulations on buying freedom! This is the true purpose of money. I left the corporate world three years ago and have not looked back. Good luck with your writing projects!
    Pauline recently posted…Can you gamble responsibly?My Profile

  8. Great post Amanda! I can relate as I took the leap about nine months to help my wife run our business full time. While scary at first, I love it and we get to see a direct result from our hard work. Money is simply a tool to get us what we want and for us it’s being free to choose what we want to do and build something while helping others.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted…4 Reasons Why Having an Investment Plan Will Save Your ButtMy Profile

  9. I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your dreams Amanda.

    Never was a truer word spoken: – Whilst an critical shortfall in one’s income is a sure route to a life of relentless stress, bountiful reserves are rarely the source of happiness that many imagine. In fact, some of the most anxiety laden periods of my life were when paradoxically I was financially very comfortably off. Only second in fact, to the monumentally stress inducing massive debts I racked up subsequently when things then went belly up.

    But true happiness, like you say, that only comes from the intrinsic motivation of doing what you truly enjoy, having a mission, fulfilling a purpose.

    Good luck with it, I’ll look forward to reading some of your work.

    All the best, Gareth
    Gareth recently posted…It’s personality that counts…right?My Profile

  10. It is incredibly hard to leave a good paying job that you really don’t hate. When I decided to sell my business, I was starting to experience some burnout, but it really wasn’t a terrible job. My main motivation was that I could see myself being OK for the next few years, but if I imagined myself 10 or 20 years down the road doing the same thing, it was almost unbearable. I think knowing when to pull the plug is a hard choice, but you really do seem to sense when it’s time. Good luck with self employment.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted…My Lack of Attention Cost Me Money in Fees!My Profile

  11. The bf and I have talked a lot about this very topic. For right now I’m fine with working my job and saving aggressively, but when we decide to have kids, I definitely want to have a job that allows me to work from home. If I don’t find a great job it may be a pay cut, but that’s the chance we’re willing to take for me to be able to be at home when the kiddos are young. The money is less important then the experience of seeing all those milestones firsthand. Good for you for following the dream!
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted…Big Beer Companies Paid Me $350 Last YearMy Profile

  12. It’s funny I happen to be reading the 4-hour work week right now, and although I do agree he takes the concept of lifestyle design to a whole new level, it did get me thinking about what I really want out of life, and am I working towards doing what I want. I’m a freelancer, but sometimes I don’t like video editing, and I certainly don’t feel good about being a slave to something that sometimes fills me with dread (depending on the circumstances). I have a lot to think about. Congrats on taking such a bold move, and good luck!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted…When Brownies and Ice Cream Start Eating at YouMy Profile

  13. Congratulations!! I actually did the same thing last week…welcome to the club & best of luck to you!
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted…What are the Biggest Financial Mistakes You’ve Made?My Profile

  14. Great Post. I’m told it’s not the things you do but the things you didn’t do that you’ll regret most. Kudos to being brave, and following your dreams.
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted…Value your Spending with a Spending DietMy Profile

  15. Congratulations Amanda, what a wonderful and inspiring story. It sounds a lot like the decision my husband and I made 5 years ago when our daughter was born. Good luck

  16. Great post. To be honest there isn’t much to add but I would like to mention that we must make the most out of our life, at the end of the day we only live once. Money on it’s own doesn’t bring happiness, it’s freedom and doing what we love that makes us really happy and fulfilled.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I Just Quit My Day Job to Write Full Time was a great guest post at You Only Do This Once by Amanda at Frugal Confessions. I love when people can follow their dreams. […]

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  3. […] Only Do This Once-I Just Quit My Day Job to Write Full-time a Guest Post by Amanda at Frugal […]

  4. […] bloggers taking the plunge into self-employment lately! Read about how Amanda at Frugal Confessions just kicked her 9-5 to the curb (a guest post on You Only Do This […]

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