Monday, September 1, 2014

Did I really just quit my job?

I’m now two months into my journey and the world hasn't ended.  The initial fear that used to pulse through me every now and then seems to have been more hype than anything else.

That’s how fear works though. It paralyzes the mind and body. 

In this installment I wanted to touch on some things I did prior to turning in my notice and walking away from a steady paycheck and benefits.  Doing these things have helped me overcome the fear and have, without a doubt, helped me focus on the work at hand instead of waiting for the end of the world.

About 2 years prior to turning in my notice I:

1.       Took a long hard look at my current position, the state of the field I worked in (Higher Ed) and what the future was starting to look like.  I saw more downside than upside. I began to think about changing careers.

2.       Tracked my spending for 6 months to get a better sense of where my money was actually going. I kept a daily journal and logged EVERY dollar I spent and what I spent it on. I broke it down into categories each month. This really opened my eyes to some careless spending.

Attributed to Abe Lincoln
(but there is no actual proof he ever said this!)
3.       I began to pay more attention to saving money, in case I decided to leave.

About 18 months prior I:

1.  Started to cut back from the things I identified through my spending exercise

2.   Began paying my credit cards down aggressively.

3.   Adjusted the contribution I was making to my 401k plan by dropping to the minimum percentage that secured my employers contribution and directed the rest into my savings account. I did this to save as much “ready cash” as possible should  I decide to leave.

4.   I took what I learned from the spending exercise and figured out what I actually spent on necessities (home, food, bills etc…) in a year. 

      It’s a very interesting exercise. If you've never done it – do it. I found out that the number is much smaller than I thought. You may be surprised too. It made me feel more confident in taking the risk of working for myself.  It helped me zero in on the exact amount of money I needed to save to give myself a year (if I didn't earn another penny during that year) to go on living close to how I was currently living.

About 6 months prior I:
1.       Decided that unless something drastic changed at my current job, I would leave and start working for myself full-time.

2.       Started planning for my departure and putting things in order (to help my co-workers as well as visualizing what my life would look like how to best approach it).

I am not one to recommend just quitting a job without really thinking things through. I do think anyone can leave a job they are unhappy with though – I just recommend having a plan in place. Most people lock themselves into situations without even trying to take a long hard look at what’s actually possible.

You can read the 3 previous posts in this series here: 
#1              #2             #3

Next month,  I will update you on my progress since starting off on my own and some of the early hiccups, lessons and small victories.


  1. Another great post Al! Thanks for sharing your ideas on how to track spending, expenses and saving. Good advice for all of us!

  2. Replies
    1. Wow, impressive pre-retirement planning! You rock, Al!