I’ve had a week now to adjust to the idea that I’m a full-time blogger, that I’m completely in control of my financial success or failure. To be honest, I’m both excited and scared.
I had the same job for sixteen years. I’ve never made a career change. I’m sure that many of you have moved or started a new job and felt similar fears. I need to realize that my fears are normal, and that this change is not irrevocable. I don’t want to make this sound like I’m having second thoughts —I’m not.
I’m excited to be pursuing my dreams, and I’m committed to making Get Rich Slowly a fantastic place to find personal finance information. I just need to make some mental adjustments to my new reality.
No cost savings
Some books argue that you can save significantly by quitting your day job, but I’m not convinced this is true. It might be true for a two-income couple with young children, but it’s not true for me. Not only will I lose the income from my day-job, but Kris and I both suspect household expenses will increase.
After one week, I already know our utility bill will go up. It’s fine for us to leave the thermostat set at 54 degrees when nobody’s home, but when I’m trying to write, that’s too cold. I bundle up to keep warm, but all the same, I need to turn up the heat a little.
I never spent a lot to go out to eat with co-workers, so my food costs were pretty low while on the job. Now that I’m trying to eat healthfully, our grocery bill will probably rise. I don’t have kids, so there are no daycare expenses I can cut. I already shop for clothes at thrift stores, so the savings on my wardrobe will be minimal, as well.
The only real economy will come in automobile expenses. The box factory was exactly 20 miles from my house, so I’ll be saving about $14/day in transportation expenses (fuel and maintenance), or about $3500 per year. (My car costs about 36.1 cents per mile to run.)
As you might expect, I’ve tried to be methodical about this move. Because I’m so eager for this to succeed, I’ve thought a lot about potential trouble spots, and I’ve tried to be sure that I have a plan for addressing them. Future concerns include:
- Health insurance. For now, I’m covered on a plan through Kris’ job. What happens when she retires? What happens if she changes jobs? This isn’t something we have to figure out immediately, but it’s a concern for the future.
- Personal savings. I’ve managed to rebuild my savings since encountering car trouble in early January, but I’m still short of the $10,000 I wanted to have set aside before quitting my job. I’m confident that I’ll have this by the middle of the year, but I’m still taking a risk by not having that money set aside first.
- Income. The income from my web sites fluctuates. Some months it’s much higher than I need; sometimes it’s low enough to worry me. I’ve calculated how much I need to earn per day to replace my $42,000/year salary from the box factory, and so far I’m meeting that goal.
- Expenses. My spending doesn’t worry me too much, but I’m continuing to track it closely. I spent the past two years reducing my lifestyle, cutting unnecessary expenses. This frugality will ease my mind as I begin to work from home.
- Work schedule. For the past year, I’ve basically been working non-stop. Every spare moment has been spent on this site. I’m still working on it all the time. (Have I become a workaholic?) I need to develop a more realistic schedule that allows me to have time for family and friends.
- Social life. Many people who work from home have warned me that it’s important to get out and be social. After just a week, I can see that they’re right. I need contact with people. How can I get this contact without spending money? Maybe I’ll take a class or two. Maybe I’ll do volunteer work.
I feel confident about our plan for each of these points. I’m particularly excited about our aggressive savings. In fact, I don’t have any specific worries about writing full time — only a generalized fear of the future.
Part of the problem may be that I no longer have a long-term goal. For three years, I was working to pay off debt. That goal kept me focused. When I became debt-free, my goal became to quit my day job. I’ve done that now, too. I don’t know what to do next. I have some short-term goals, but no longer have a single over-arching purpose. I need to find that purpose.
Words of wisdom
I spent part of Friday evening talking with Bruce, the father of a friend. We talked about exercise, we talked about investing and retirement, and we discussed my move to full-time writer.
“I’ve been writing on the web for over a decade,” I told him. “I’ve been writing daily about personal finance for nearly two years. You’d think this move would be a no-brainer. But the truth is I’m scared. It was one thing to have Get Rich Slowly as a hobby — it’s completely different to make it my full-time job. Making this leap is tough.”
Bruce nodded. “It’s always scary to try something new,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what. You’re doing the right thing. It’s scary now, but imagine how scared you would be to make this move in five years. Or ten. I think it’s great that you’re giving this a shot. What do you have to lose?”
He’s right. What do I have to lose? Nothing. Even if I fail, I succeed. I will have pursued my dream. If I come up short, I’ll have learned things for the future.
Where I’d really lose is by not pursuing my dream. When I’m on my deathbed, I’m not going to think, “Damn. I wish I hadn’t tried to write full-time — I should have stayed at the box factory.” But I very well might have thought, “Damn. I wonder what would have happened if I had tried to write full-time instead of staying at the box factory.”
To infinity, and beyond!
Ultimately, despite my fears, I’m doing the right thing. It’ll take a couple of weeks to work through my nervousness and trepidation. But I’m living the life I want, and that’s what is important.
Your first months, or even years, of being jobless will require adjustments of all kinds. You’ll be exposed to new people and you’ll be learning new skills. You’ll be drawing a new map, one that will take you places you’ve never been before. If you treat all of this as an adventure — which it certainly is — you…will be able to look back fondly when you tell the story of your early days of making a living without a job. — from Making a Living Without a Job by Barbara J. Winter
In the past month, I’ve done a lot of reading about nontraditional jobs (like writing a blog). Some of the books I’ve found useful include:
- Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement by Bob Clyatt
- Downshifting: How to Work Less and Enjoy Life More by John D. Drake
- Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love by Barbara J. Winter
- What Should I Do With My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question by Po Bronson
- Getting Rich in Your Underwear: How to Start and Run a a Profitable Home-Based Business by Peter Hupalo
Each of these books was recommended by a different Get Rich Slowly reader. Thanks to everyone who has provided advice and suggestions. Your support makes all the difference!