For a while there, the thing I wanted more than anything else in this world was to retire early. Sippin’ pina coladas on the beach sounded pretty good compared to working 8 hours a day in a tiny cubical. But during the past few months, I’ve had a slight revelation. What fun is early retirement if you have no one to enjoy it with? If all your friends are still working then what the hell are you going to do every day for the 8-10 hours you’re alone? There are only so many activities you can do by yourself before you long for some type of companionship.
Having experienced both sides of the equation, I’m now trying to figure out how to get the best of both worlds. How do I find a job where I can work for myself, make my own money but still get to interact with other hard working and like minded individuals on a daily basis? The nice thing about my corporate gig is that I get to be around a lot of people from different backgrounds and make new friends every day. There are hundreds of people to talk to about life, work, investing and even sports. You’d be surprised how many engineers love sports!
We all hear stories about people pursuing their passions and becoming a huge success. But let’s be realistic: most of those people are the exception and not the rule. It’s very unlikely that you’ll ever find a job you truly love or get to follow your passion and make a decent living. And if you are one of the lucky few who becomes a professional athlete, or makes millions off your finance blog I applaud you but I also know that that probably won’t ever be me.
Instead, I think it makes more sense to make the best of your situation. One of the ways I’m trying to do that is by eliminating the dependence on my day job income. Most people work overtime and bust their asses at their job because they don’t want to get fired. But if you’re not afraid of getting fired, what’s the worst that can happen? That doesn’t mean you go into work and slack off every day but instead you just play the game by your own rules.
Best of Both Worlds
The facts are that the best chance for financial success for most people will come from working a corporate type gig. If you live below your means, invest wisely and make smart decisions though, you don’t need to make that much to live a great life. There are plenty of people that I know(including myself) who make less than $100,000 and are extremely comfortable financially and very happy with their lives. It’s all a matter of perspective.
The important part is that what you do early on in your career will dictate a majority of your future. If you’re able to save up $200,000 by the time you’re 30($25k a year for 8 years) and have a few streams of income you’ll have the freedom to pursue that dream of becoming an artist or a writer. On the other hand, if you delay saving for retirement and never work on building alternative sources of income you’re going to be stuck working your corporate gig indefinitely. The longer you wait, the tougher it’s going to be.
The Monday Test
“Can’t believe it’s Monday again”
Since I’m writing this article on a Monday, those are two direct quotes that I heard from two co-workers(both over the age of 55) today at work. I can understand their frustration though: imagine coming into the same job week after week for 40 years and just going through the motions. That sounds like a lifetime of torture to me but it doesn’t have to be.
A lot of us dread going into work on Mondays because we have to. If you knew that you could quit at any time because you have other sources of income you’re bound to find a job that you love. I know there are lots of opportunities out there that people would rather do but the thing that keeps them from taking that leap is always the money. If you love to teach but the salary is less than half your engineering salary, most of us are going to opt for the latter. At the end of the day, money is generally the one thing precluding us from following our passion so why not eliminate that barrier?
Less Dependence is a Good Thing
There are lots of ways to lessen your dependence on day job income and some are definitely easier than others. Some will take a lot longer than others. But at the end of the day it’s all about finding balance. Here are all the ways I’m trying to depend less on my day job income.
1. Make Money Elsewhere:
There’s no rule that says you can only have one source of income. My preferred methods of alternative income are real estate and working online. Obviously real estate requires a lot of active income first but once you’ve satisfied that requirement it can develop into a completely passive source of income.
As for working online, there’s no excuse not to at least give it a try since the internet has lowered the entry barrier for starting your own business. You can start a blog or any type of website for next to nothing these days and while you might not make Snapchat-money, you could very easily replace a portion of your day job income.
2. Live Below Your Means:
It’s ok to like the finer things in life but know that those finer things are what keep you chained to your desk. I find it very ironic to hear people complaining about how little they make when they drive a car that’s half of their annual income or they pay 50% more in rent since they ‘wanna be close to the beach’. If you want less, your expenses will be less and it’s a lot easier to find jobs paying 50k than it is to find ones paying 150k.
3. Find Work You Love:
I think it makes the most sense to start off with a more practical career since a lot of us won’t discover our passion until later on in life. At the age of 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do/be when I grew up. But along the way, I’ve discovered all sorts of different passions. None of them have paid as much as my engineering job but I was still able to dabble in hobbies and interests here and there. I really enjoy coaching and teaching kids so that may be the perfect ‘job’ for me once I don’t need my day job income anymore.
Readers, what do you think about eliminating the need for your day job income? If you didn’t need the money do you think your current job would become a lot more fun or would you find something else?