The other day Sporty calculated that she’d been working in the animation and post-production industry for the past 31 years. Holy guacamole, that’s a long time! What even were they animating back then?
Sayonara Full-time Job
At the end of September, after years and years of wishing and dreaming and hoping, she finally took the plunge and quit her job.
It was a little nerve wracking knowing that we were giving up her Big Bucks salary, but the alternative was even worse. Because while she enjoyed the creative and people side of her job, as a whole the advertising industry was getting her down.
On a daily basis she had to deal with demanding clients and ridiculous deadlines. There was also the matter of our minimalist lifestyle to consider, one that’s very much at odds with the consumer-driven industry she was working in.
Preparing to Take a Leap of Faith
Ultimately, if you’re not happy and your heart’s not in it then you need to move on. But how?
It’s all good and well to say you should take a leap of faith, but you still have to be practical else how will you pay the bills, keep a roof over your head and feed yourself? Not to mention fund your all-important coffee habit.
Without realising it, we’d actually set the wheel in motion way back in 2008 when we first downsized so dramatically. Because it was on the back of that that we made the decision to fix our very broken finances and demolish our debt.
Fast-forward to 2016 and we’re in a pretty decent place financially. The debt is long gone and our investments and nest egg are all growing nicely.
Create a Test Budget
A year ago we decided to create a test budget to figure out the least we needed to earn that would allow us to work less hours, but still maintain a moderately decent lifestyle. Downsizing your lifestyle is key if you’re to have any hope of escaping the cubicle, as we discovered the hard way in 2015 (click through to the above link to find out what I mean by ‘hard way’).
We started by researching apartments to get an idea of the lowest monthly rent we could get away with. This was also when we decided to embark on our latest lifestyle experiment and rent unfurnished.
Next we looked at our other expenses to see where we could reduce them. Savings was a no-go zone, so we found other areas to cut back. For example, we used to buy a lot of superfoods to supplement our plant-based diet, however they’re by no means essential to our health so we ditched most of them.
We also halved our monthly pocket money allowance, because truth be told we spend the majority of that money on sweets and snacks anyway, so rather add it to our savings account. We figured our waistlines would thank us.
Assessing our monthly grocery bill, we identified a number of things we could do without and still not be at the ‘bread and water’ stage. Our thinking is that we need to find a balance between being frugal and still enjoying our lives.
With that in mind we made sure to keep our monthly ‘eating out’ allowance, although we did reduce it a little. After all, a girl’s gotta have the occasional indulgence at The Hungry Herbivore.
When our lease ran out in September it was with our new test budget in mind that we started looking for a new apartment. Our new place —which, was also the only apartment we looked at—is R300 less than what we allowed for. Winning.
Take the Damn Plunge Already
Sporty and I discussed the possibility of her resigning until the cows came home (and left again, and came back) and in the end decided that it was time to jump. Past experience has taught us that when you commit, Providence steps up.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. – William H. Murray
Start Where You Are
If you’re keen to untether yourself from your full-time job the first step is to assess where you are. If you have debt then paying it off must be your first priority. Having a kick-ass debt-demolishing budget is a non-negotiable when you’re on a mission to regain control of your finances. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you the exact same Excel spreadsheet Sporty created for us (hint: it’s wicked good).
Is downsizing an option? Maybe you live in a big money-sucker of a house like Mr 1500 or Claudia and Garrett from Two Cup House used to. Consider getting rid of it and buying or renting something much smaller. Yes, it’s less space, but it’s also less maintenance, less upkeep and less money on your monthly mortgage.
Start focusing on saving like your life depends on it, because it does. Like we did, look at your monthly expenses and figure out where you can cut back. Commit to your new budget and stick to it no matter what. Yes, it’ll mean forgoing the occasional pizza and beer night out with friends. Set your sights on the second marshmallow and don’t let anything distract you from that goal.
Start a Side-Hustle
Consider starting a side-hustle to supplement your income. Even better, make it something you really enjoy so that it can become your full-time hustle when you finally untether yourself from your cubicle.
Read, Read and Read Some More
The best way to figure things out is by learning from others who are either still on the path or have already reached their goal of financial independence*. We found these books to be really helpful.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century by Vicki Robin
- Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilguna
- Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker
There are also a bunch of great FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) blogs out there. Some are people who are just documenting their journey to (and post) freedom online, while others are more robust and offer a ton of information on the subject.
Helpfully, Rockstar Finance put together a list of the best early retirement blogs out there.
*Financial independence can mean different things for different people. For Sporty and I it simply means we no longer rely on a job with a set monthly salary for our income. Instead we earn our money through various online efforts as well as from our investments.
So Sporty went ahead and traded in her fancy full-time gig with its big fat pay cheque (and bucket loads of stress) for a mentoring/operations gig with less hours, less money and no stress. Pretty much a no brainer when you think about it.
I can honestly say, right now is the happiest we’ve ever been. We live in a small one room apartment, we own almost nothing, we commute on foot or by bus and aside from our respective three-day week jobs, our time is our own. Now the next step is to un-cubicle ourselves completely.
Onwards to Operation Freedomize.