Quit Your Job And Die Alone


Before you take advice from someone to not get a job after college or quit your current job to “live your dreams,” breathe for a moment and punch yourself in the face. After you’re done with your deep breathing beat down, ask yourself what are the credentials of someone encouraging you to quit your job and self destruct?

More often than not, the person encouraging you to forsake the working world has failed in their own ability to find a worthwhile job, and/or is in the business of selling you a product to quit your job and lead a location independent lifestyle. I absolutely LOVE the idea of living a location independent lifestyle  and have done so in Hawaii, Mexico, and on a cruise ship in 2011. But, I’m telling you, making good money on your own is way harder than you think as you will read from four examples below.

There are millions of jobs in dozens of different sectors around the world.  Are you saying that you can’t find one that you enjoy? If so, you aren’t looking hard enough. Nobody quits a job they love to do, period!

The past several years have been tough for people to find jobs, and lifestyle blogs everywhere have popped up to encourage readers to live on their own terms. These are the very same people great companies have rejected. They can’t get into the Googles, Facebooks, Twitters, Wachtels, Morgans, and NBC’s of the world. As a result, they have no choice but to bash the job market and tell everyone to quit and follow their dreams.

If you can’t rise up to the challenge, an often used tactic is to try and bring everybody down with you. Don’t let others bring you down!

BEING A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR IS BRUTALLY DIFFICULT

It’s irresponsible for people to encourage others not to get a job after four expensive years in college or quit their existing job altogether without a financial safety net. It is even more irresponsible if your parents paid for your college tuition. You owe them something, and living in their basement, taking out the trash twice a week doesn’t count! That’s a given, along with paying their utility bills, cleaning the entire house, doing your own laundry, and giving your mom a nightly back massage.

Someone can sell you a product to give you that motivation, but guess what happens after you’ve failed at going at it alone for 2 years? You have one big gaping hole in your resume and a lot less money. Meanwhile, the person who sold you the dream of quitting your job has your money and is relaxing on the beach, thank you very much!

Example One: A Millionaire

Erica from Erica.biz sold her web hosting business in 2007 for $1.1 million at the age of 26. Erica’s timing couldn’t be better as financial markets started crumbling in 2008. Selling for $1.1 million is her marketing tag-line, which is absolutely brilliant because $1.1 million sounds like a lot of money. Or is it?

Erica is an entertaining writer. My favorite post is “Dear California, I’m leaving you” discussing how horrible our state’s tax system is for entrepreneurs. Assuming Erica owned 100% of her company, and has no debt, her net proceeds after taxes is around $750,000-$850,000. Still sounds like a lot of money right? If so, why did she decide to get a job in order to qualify for a $300,000 mortgage in Texas? She explains it’s because of a lack of a W2 and the fact that perhaps there really isn’t $750,000-$850,000 left from 4 years ago. Living in California is expensive!

You would think that with $1.1 million dollars, Erica would be rolling in dough, or at least have a bathtub full of one-dollar bills to soak in. However, after selling your business, there’s no longer that hefty income stream. You’ve got your lump sum, and now you’ve got to figure out what to do with it. If you invested it all in the markets in 2007, you could have lost 30-50% of it in one year if you sold! I’m hoping that’s not what happened.

If Erica needs to get a job after netting $850,000 and founding her second business that does SEO and has a rank tracker program for websites, what chance do you have of surviving online or doing whatever you want without a job and saving for your retirement? Your chances are slim to none. I hope you are enjoying your new job Erica, and not having to pay taxes in Texas!

Example Two: A Nomad Who Hates Debt

One of the reasons why I like Adam Baker is because he’s one of the most transparent lifestyle bloggers around when it comes to his income. Adam sells info-products teaching you how to get rid of your stuff and reduce debt. He’s also started a video course/seminar on debt reduction as well.

Adam writes how he made $104,550 in revenue in 2011, which is a handsome sum of money. But, Adam also highlights all his costs. At the end of the income statement, Adam’s profits before tax is just $20,000. Pay a 15% effective tax rate and Adam and his entire family are left with $17,000, just enough to max out a company 401K if he worked for a company and have nothing left.

Do you know what the poverty level for a family of four is in America? The level is around $20,000. Practically every job in America pays at least $20,000 a year! However, not every job is as fun as Adam’s.

I’m not worried about Adam and his family because Adam has invested for his future. You’ve got to investment money to make money. Given no other asset is more important than ourselves, I’ll argue that Adam is making the best investment of all. Forget the stock market, bond market, real estate, gold, and beanie babies.  Spend the money on yourself and your business!

Example Three: The Empire Builder

Mike from The Financial Blogger is one of my favorite bloggers because he’s been buying up a lot of sites over the years and showing his readers how to build a blogging empire. I’ve followed Mike for the past three years and he is also a Yakezie Member  His blog has semi-frequent income reports which break down exactly where he is making money.

One of the most eye-popping things I’ve learned about Mike’s reports is that he spends $35,000+ a year on virtual assistants!  That’s an amazing amount of money, letting Mike work just several hours a week on his sites. In 2010, Mike wrote that he generated $125,000 in revenue. However, he also had $66,700 is expenses, leaving him with a profit before tax of $58,300.  I’m not sure how much Mike has to pay in Canadian taxes, but let’s just assume 25%, leaving him with $43,725.  Still not bad, but not as eye-popping as the original $125,000 headline. It looks like Mike’s business has continued to grow in 2011 with pre-tax profits reaching around $85,000 or so, a 40% jump.

Here’s the kick in the nuts or a punch in the boobies if you prefer. Mike shares with us that he has to split his profits 50/50 with his partner!  So take $43,725 and divide it by 2 to equal $21,862 per person for 2010.  Not bad, but again, not the initial big bucks we originally thought. The irony is that Mike wrote a book called “Escaping The Rat Race”, and yet announced recently that he was excited to get a new job closer to home.

Given Mike has been so transparent with his income and reasoning for getting another job, I don’t think it’s hypocritical that he’s working. It’s just the way it is, and the way it should be. Work at a job you enjoy doing, and build the business on the side until it gets so huge you can’t help but quit. Good luck Mike!

Example Four: The Network Creator

I’ve personally spent 20-30 hours a week without fail for the past 2.5 years building up Financial Samurai. With ~150,000 page views a month, the traffic is better than a sharp stick in the eye, but it’s not nearly enough to live like Snoop Dogg. I need 10X that traffic to live like Snoop, and then maybe I could really live it up like a corrupt politician on the Hill.

I don’t reveal my income, because I’m not in the business of teaching people how to make money online and I therefore would find it distasteful to do so.  My focus is on my writing, but let’s do the math. If I make $3 per thousand impressions and I have 150,000 impressions a month, I’ll make $450/month for each ad. Whoo hoo I’m making it rain up in here!

Sell 5 spots and I’m “raking” in $2,200 a month, enough for me to live in a crappy one bedroom apartment in San Francisco and eat burritos every day. Of course if I raise my RPM from $3 to $6, well then, maybe I can eat the occasional burrito grande with extra guacamole. I’d rather just shoot to raise readership to 1 million page views a month and then dictate my terms.

OK, so maybe I can do some affiliate marketing, write a book, and create my own product like Adam, Erica, and Mike to increase my revenues. But shoot, who has the time working 50 hours a week at my day job and making sure the Yakezie Network continues to grow?  I’d rather focus on the writing because that’s the most fun, and seriously the main reason why I blog.  I know that if viewership jumps to 500,000/month+, there’s no doubt I can generate several hundred thousand in revenue a year.  Notice how I write revenue, and not operating profit. My costs might balloon from $1,000 a month to $5,000 a month, who knows!

I’m not the brightest, nor the fastest person, and I’m sure I could utilize my time more efficiently. However, I do have a dedication that will never die until someone chops off my hands, and even then, I will find a way to continue. Average 70-80 hours a week working for 2.5 years and I promise your income will go up and you will create something of some significance!

A BETTER WAY OF LAUNCHING

Don’t be a donkey. Go through Sydney’s checklist of things to ask BEFORE you quit your job so you don’t self destruct. The better way to living life on your terms is by finding a job you like and creating something new on the side.  24 hours a day is enough time to work a day job and a side job as you build your savings, experience, and skills. That said, don’t underestimate how many hours a day you will have to work on your side business. Things add up quickly.

Calculate your expenses and aim to save at least 24 months worth of monthly living expenses before you go on your own.  Two years is enough time for you to realize you are a failure, or that your venture will be a success.  If you are not making money after two years, you need to pull the plug unless you have an unlimited amount of money. Remember, real entrepreneurs are successful. Otherwise, you are just a hobbyist.

Two years is also about the maximum amount of time you can be out of the work force before recruiters start writing you off. Anybody can understand a one year break. Anybody can understand going out on your own and giving it a go for 2 years.  However, beyond that, companies will start feeling you’re just delusional and too stubborn to hire. Your skills will be out of date and there are tons more qualified candidates to choose from.

While working on your side business, set revenue and net profit targets. With financial targets, you’ll be focused on maximizing revenue, thinking more strategically on costs, and keep delusions at bay. You should probably also set net profit targets as a percentage of your day job revenue so you have an idea of how much it takes before you are willing to quit your job and work on your endeavor full-time.

Next time someone tells you to quit your job, tries to make you feel bad for having a job, and attempts to sell you a product on why you should quit your job, ask them these questions:

* How much money do you make from your online endeavors?  Do not confuse revenue with net profit.  As you can see from my four examples above, making money by yourself is not easy.

* Do you live at home with mom and dad?  Seriously, if they’re not living independently, it’s hard to take them seriously.

* What is your educational background?  Not of supreme importance, but it’s nice to know whether they went to Columbia University or Chico State to get a hint of their intelligence and work ethic.

* What is your work experience?  If they have minimal work experience, then it’s hard for them to gain perspective.  Three years out of college and then teaching you how to be “epic” does not jive.

* Do you make money by telling people to quit their jobs with an info-product?  If nobody bought their info-product or affiliate products, would they still be able to make money?  This line of work is fine, but they just need to have the credibility.

* How many page views do you have a month?  Important to get a sense of blog authority.

* Have you paid your taxes yet?  Again, do not confuse revenue with net profit.  Taxes are a huge expense!

* How much money are you saving?  Nobody can work forever, no matter what the “do something you love, and it’ll seem as you will never have worked a day in your life” crowd says.  People who don’t save for a rainy day will get dumped on.

If the person admits he only makes $20,000 a year in operating income before taxes, has a site that gets only several thousand page views a month, has never held a job for more than 2 years consecutive years, and lives at home with her parents, forget about it. There’s no credibility and you need to move on.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE IS WORTH SOMETHING

It’s entertaining to watch others bash people like myself with day jobs. I just feel bad for them because they just haven’t found a job they enjoy doing. Society rejects them, so they reject society. People are fooling themselves if they think any job or entrepreneurial activity is 100% fun, or even 80% fun. There is always crap to deal with, no matter what you do.

More power to people for trying to make something happen when they can’t find their dream job. It’s a competitive world out there, which is why staying in school to develop your skills is not such a bad thing. I just hate reading when they say we should all be like them and quit our jobs…. and buy their product in the meantime. It’s bullshit and you need to know this before spending a penny.

Don’t be irresponsible with your life just because someone tells you to. If things aren’t going swell with your job, suck it up and figure out how to manage up and pursue new avenues. Consult with your friends and family thoroughly and do a cost benefit analysis. Calculate how long your savings will last if you go out on your own and make nothing. Are you willing to go back to the well and ask your parents for money and shelter?

CONSEQUENCES

A massive hole in your resume to pursue your “dream life” can turn into a nightmare. You could become one of the long-term unemployed and lose your life savings. Because you are no longer employable, no man or woman will ever want to be with you if they didn’t know you in the first place. Because nobody wants to be with you, you could lose your self-esteem and spiral down a dark hole of depression. Because you’re depressed, your body fades away.  You’ll never have an option to start your own family, unless you adopt which would be so wonderful! And when you’re “old and filled with regrets, waiting to die alone,” you’ll at least tell yourself that you gave it a go and decided to live life on your own terms.

Just make sure that having no regrets is worth everything and more.

Personal Story: I was able to negotiate a severance package equal to six years of living expenses. Learn how to negotiate a great severance for yourself in my new book How to Engineer Your Layoff. Never quit, always get laid off so you can collect a severance, health care insurance, deferred compensation, unused vacation days, and be eligible for unemployment.

Update 5/1/2014 – Two Years Later

A lot has happened in the last two years, both in my own life and the other entrepreneurs above. Get all the details in my extensive update here: Two Years After Quitting Your Job And Dying Alone.

Recommendations For Increasing Your Financial Freedom

* Manage Your Finances In One Place: Get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ difference accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing and when my CDs are expiring. I can also see how much I’m spending every month. Let Personal Capital track your finances so you can gain more freedom to do your own thing. Personal Capital takes less than one minute to sign up!

* Never Quit, Get Laid Off Instead. Learn how to negotiate a great severance for yourself in How to Engineer Your Layoff! By getting laid off from a job you wanted to leave anyway, you can collect a severance, health care insurance, deferred compensation, unused vacation days, and be eligible for unemployment. The book provides helpful case studies and a framework for you to have a strategic conversation with your manager on how to profitably quit your job.

Earn A $300 Bonus By Driving With Uber! Driving for Uber is a great way to make extra money on your own time whenever you want. My friends and I average $30/hour driving 20 hours a week. An extra $2,000+ each month is fantastic spending money while having zero boss. Uber is giving away $300 bonuses to new drivers who sign up and complete 20 rides (amounts can vary by location and availability). Sign up to be a driver today and start earning some extra cash! It’s quite a thrill to be able to earn money so easily using technology. Code: qgn5gue

Updated on 6/20/2015 – Online entrepreneurship is thriving, but you’ve got to do it in the right way and avoid shady practices.

Photo: “Broke and Hilarious”, Occupy San Francisco, 2011.  SD.

Regards,

Sam

 

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Sam is the founder of Financial Samurai, America's fastest growing personal finance site. We believe in reaching financial independence sooner, rather than later. Slice through money's mysteries!

Comments

  1. says

    Hey Sam,

    AWESOME article! but I have to bring a few more thoughts on the part your write on me ;-).

    For the record, we pay 19% in taxes for small corporation in Canada. Therefore, what I have left (once it is split with my partner) is $23,611 (roughly). Consider that I work about 6 hours a week (my full day working on my online business is part of the 66K expenses). Therefore, net of taxes, I’m making over $75.68 per hours.

    The cost structure is huge but is has been crafted so I can expand my business while not working on it. I’ll be growing again in 2012 without increasing my cost structure because I wanted to first build something that can follow our growth without having us working more.

    My ultimate goal is still to quit the rat race and I did accept a promotion recently. I really like what I do at my day job and I’m also making a good living out of it. It’s definitely a weird situation. If my day job was not that interesting (and paying a healthy salary), I would quit it in a heartbeat. I think that most people are in other situation (doing a job they don’t like or that is just “okay” and not getting paid much for it). Look at Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff for example; she quit an “okay” job making 35K to make a killing online.

    I think it’s a matter of what you like most: money, your quality of life and your independence. If you can find a balance between the 3, you will live a happy life ;-).

    again, great article!

    Mike

      • says

        The small rate is for business generating under 400K of gross income. then it goes to 28.60% (that’s in Quebec, in other provinces it’s lower than that. The 40% tax rate is the marginal tax rate applicable on employees in province such as Quebec (my marginal tax rate is now at 45%). So it makes total sense to have an incorporation. However, if I was to withdraw money from the corpo to pay myself, I would be taxed at the 45% marginal tax rate…

          • says

            it’s a little bit more complicated than that :-(
            The problem is when you have a day job and a corporation. Then, your dividend or salary derived from your company are taxed at your marginal tax rate (between 30% to 48% depending how much you make). Dividends are taxed at about 30%. However, there are ways to pay less in taxes through income splitting, insurance products and company expenses.

            then again, not a simple task but it’s feasible :-)

  2. says

    I often hear how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and became a billionaire. What one does not focus on is the fact getting into Harvard is not an easy endeavor in the first place!

    Gates did what everyone did, tried to get a decent education, but at the same time, focussed on his side hustle, Microsoft. When he quit Harvard, Gates knew fully well what it would require to run Microsoft fulltime.

    I like Gates’ cautious approach. More pragmatic.

    There is a lot of sweat behind the glamor. Your post highlights this very nicely.

      • says

        There’s also the fact that a Harvard education isn’t really about the degree. It’s about the connections made while there. Bill Gates was there long enough to make the networking connections. Regardless of whether or not he has a degree, he’s a Harvard man. And that’s pretty huge in and of itself.

        • maria@moneyprinciple says

          I thought it was Gates’ mum who had inheritance – they were not poor before but this allowed her to take Bill out of the school where he was underperforming and send him to a school where mums got together and bought a computer terminal connected to the local universities mainframe. That was it – love at first sight. Apparently Gates got up at 3 am to go to the university mainframe and programme (when he was still in his teens). He had a vision (a computer in every house), obsession and intelligence. It was not a side hustle but a mission. This is why giving him as an example that going to university and education don’t matter is not good – he did his 10,000 hours. As did Jobs, btw.

      • says

        Not only that, a survivorship bias is clearly at work here, as all of those who dropped out of Harvard and failed miserably are not considered or even known, and that will be the majority of people.

    • Kint Verbal says

      “I often hear how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and became a billionaire. What one does not focus on is the fact getting into Harvard is not an easy endeavor in the first place!

      Gates did what everyone did, tried to get a decent education, but at the same time, focussed on his side hustle, Microsoft. When he quit Harvard, Gates knew fully well what it would require to run Microsoft fulltime.

      I like Gates’ cautious approach. More pragmatic.”

      You often DO NOT HEAR apparently that Gates was a millionaire way before he quit Harvard, from a very rich and well established family… he had a huge safety net.

  3. says

    Enlightening numbers, to be sure. Thanks for sharing!

    I’m one of those who hate my job (actually, it wouldn’t be so bad if the position didn’t have so many artificial limitations in place and I made enough to live off of). So my dream is to start a business on the side and then have it quickly take off. Of course, while that is the dream, I’ve made it a goal by actively working toward it… on the side. Until it can match my current income it will stay there.

  4. says

    There is no way that blogging could ever replace my regular income so I guess I have to admit I am a hobbyist. I can make a little money off the hobby which is nice, but I am realistic. Besides, I really enjoy what I do anyway so won’t give it up until I am really ready to travel.

  5. says

    Now I see what your warning comment on my recent post meant. This is very valuable advice. I lean towards a lifestyle where one can work for 6 months, save up enough to live the next 6 months how they wish, then repeat the next year.

      • says

        That is a really ideal lifestyle for many I am sure. you just need to find a job with that kind of flexibility.

        I believe the Blogger from Fabulously Broke in the City has this sort of lifestyle where she works for half the year then travels the other half. My only concern would be how stressful that six months might be in order to pull off living without income the second half of the year.

  6. Sydney says

    I like to take risks but I do so cautiously and think things through before making huge decisions. I am in a good place with my main job and have fun with it so even if someone told me to quit and just write full time I wouldn’t do it, at least not right now. A lot of people don’t realize how ridiculously hard it is to be an enteepreneur like you said. Being a successful entrepreneur can be done but it takes time and a lot of sweat and tears, literally.

    I can tell you put a lot of time and energy into writing this post and it rocks Sam. So many truths and good tips! It’s always easy for someone else to tell you to quit your job because they don’t have to deal with any of the consequences or sacrifices it’ll take to become an entrepreneur.

    • says

      I have to admit, this post took forever to write, and has taken a lot out of me. That said, I felt this post was needed to be written.

      Success is subjective, hence at least show the income numbers to let readers, or consumers decide what success is.

      • Mark says

        Really provided some perspective for me. Thank you I no longer feel guilty about a pay cheque and can measure my success in a different currency.

  7. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t tell you how much people have their heads in the clouds when it comes to working for themselves. They have NO CLUE how much it really costs when you’re running a business and have to make enough to live on as well.
    My brick-and mortar business was pulling in $25K per month and still went belly up in 3 years because the cost of doing business is MUCH, MUCH higher than you ever think that it is.

    So when someone is trying to sell you the dream of how “easy” it is to work for yourself, make them put the numbers up and then do some calculations for yourself. It’s not that easy.

    • says

      No problem Sandy, and thanks for writing the post on Yakezie.com that engendered a good amount of discussion.

      $25k/month is great revenue, and that’s tough to hear about your business going BK. Expenses folks! Focus on the expenses! And after you’re done, bend over for the government to take their cut!

  8. says

    I enjoyed the article, but I don’t know why you went off so far to one side of the spectrum at the end. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t make it right away. At least I don’t think so.

    At times I felt like this article was talking right to me. I am one of those people trying to start a widely successful online business. Here’s the thing though: I totally agree with you when it comes to holding a job and building on the side.

    I’ve held full-time (sometimes just a bit less) hours since I started college. That buffer (income and savings) will allow you to build a business on the side because you have money. The problem is that many college grads want to go all in without doing the research.

    For example, my friend quit his job in the summer to start his own business. I told him it was a horrible idea. He didn’t listen. Well two months later he made ZERO progress and was back at another job he hates.

    The message in your article is valid. Find a job you love and build on the side.

    • says

      Hi Martin, one of my goals as a writer is to make the readers feel that I am speaking to them, so thanks for that feedback.

      In order to see things more clearly, I think it’s good to look at extremes. The three examples above are from those who are relatively popular in their space, and yet still find things difficult.

      There has to be a point where you’ve got to pull the rip chord and say enough is enough. Otherwise, there could be no turning back.

  9. Fleet Feet says

    Very eye-opening post Sam! It’s funny how so many folks idolize the lifestyle blogger, yet when you peel away the onion layers, you realize there’s nothing lucrative or glamorous about it!

    Making $20,000 in after tax profits is a great side hobby. However, making $20,000 as a full time income, no matter how fun it is, is not sustainable in a developed country.

    I think you’re right that many of these lifestylers either got let go during the downturn, or just couldn’t get a good job. That said, not many can, and it’s good they are doing something about their situation.

    I have a job, and don’t like it when people are in my face trying to make me feel bad. Great post!

    • says

      I just advise people to do the math and ask the tough questions.

      $20,000 is not very sustainable since there’s not much in retirement savings. Hence, many of these folks just move to a 3rd world country where living off $1,000 a month is good enough.

  10. says

    Wow, some Tough Love from Sam. My day job is becoming insufferable and I don’t think I’m going to last much longer. I do have 24 months of living expense saved up and will make a go at it for a couple of years. If I can’t support myself after two years, who knows. Maybe I’ll have to go back to working for the man.

  11. Thomas - Ways to Invest Money says

    Another great post Sam! But I thought you mentioned something about never going over a certain word count which I am sure you murdered in this case. I think that many people think they can just jump in and make money to quit the day job. Not really realistic and even those who make good money have a lot of projects and still work 40-50 hours per week.

    • says

      I am a word count murdered so far this year and proud of it! I stopped caring. Actually, a couple friends in the SEO business said the “longer the better, and minimum 600 words”. So, let’s see how it goes.

      That said, I wrote the post so I could be as thorough as possible. I’ll still add to it, if feedback says I should

  12. says

    Thank you. Sometimes it’s hard seeing so many people being able to quit their day jobs and kind of asking “when are you going to do it too” when you know the answer is “never”. I love blogging, and I would love it if my site made a profit. At the same time, the likelihood that it would ever be able to replace my job income is so close to nil as to not being worth considering.
    I like the work I do. And I plan to stay in my field for many years. Maybe C will make enough some day to support us and for me to take a year long sabbatical to pursue my “dreams”, but for now I’m happy where I am.

  13. says

    I wonder what would happen if everyone took that same route. Where would you find those JOBS that you love so much? All those “great companies” you mention that are awesome to work for, all those great positions that people would enjoy if they look hard enough, well guess what? All those possibilities exist because of (thanks to?) someone who decided to do their own thing!
    “Job security” is the biggest scam running.
    There are so many things wrong with hyping up “being an employee”, I don’t even know where to start. I guess it’s just easy to pander to everyone’s love of security…

    • says

      Will, nobody is hyping up being an employee. The hype is the other way around online.

      Are you hiring someone like Mike is in the example above? What business are you in? I’m not quite sure and would like to learn more. All I know is from your URL that you are a former banker. What type of banker?

      Love to learn more. thx

  14. Jennifer Miller says

    And then… there are those of us with four year degrees who quit six figure jobs with Apple (and who’s bosses ask how much $$ it will take to convince us to stay) to take an open-ended world tour with our kids (while we still have them.) And who, four years into the project, made more, on paper, accounting for expenses and overhead and blah-blah-blah) than we did the best year we had working with Apple. Note: We are NOT making it by blogging, we’re freelancing. You know, with real clients and everything.

    I agree wholeheartedly that it is silly for people not to count the cost. Irresponsible even. But the reality is that if the dream is big enough there IS a way to make it happen and I know (personally) more than dozens of families doing it. Do they all make big money? No. But some do. And it can be done. Maybe not by blogging… but by using those four year degrees with a modicum of creativity, certainly.

    As to what we “owe” our parents… what I hope my kids will feel they “owe” me as adults is nothing but grateful hearts for doing the best I could with what I had at the time. Given the choice of a solid career that made good money that they hated or boots and a backpack with just enough to “get by” made by out of the box, creative means… I’d push them hard toward the latter… all four of them… and yes, we are paying for their college educations. It’s a gift we want to give them, a debt free start in life.

    The bottom line, is not the only bottom line. :)

    My two cents…

      • Jennifer Miller says

        Freelancing is a moment by moment thing, there is no security (there is the illusion of security when you have a “job”) However, yes, that’s what I’m saying. This year my husband (the ex-apple dude) made more freelancing than he did his best year at apple. And half of the year he worked from the shores of Lago de Atitlan in Guatemala, then we did a few months of camping in New England, spent some time in Canada on both coasts and at the moment we’re renting a quaint cottage on Cape Cod staging for a move to Thailand in a couple of months. He does database development and design for big companies you’ve heard of, and he does iOS & android programming for lots of companies you haven’t. He works an average of thirty hours a week, from home (wherever that is) and we generally eat three meals a day together. It’s for real.

        • says

          Sounds good. So you were at Apple as well? Or, are we just talking about your husband at Apple who is now doing better freelancing than while at Apple?

          If so, what is your line of business?

          Thx

          • Jennifer Miller says

            No, I was not at Apple. I was having babies and changing diapers for that decade. I’m a freelance writer in the home education and travel markets.

          • says

            So weird, the rest of the comments are in order…

            I think that we make out the decisions to be that much harder than they actually have to be. Was it really that bad to ask out the first girl? Was it really that bad to go on the first interview? The first day of college? Everything seems difficult and unattainable, and fine, sometimes it’s normal; not everyone’s gonna be a NFL superstar. But working for yourself? Why not? It’s all about your personality, and what you can take and not take, and I personally think it should be approached just like a job. Should you apply for a new job someday, would you be proud of this time of your life? I plan to be!

          • says

            Invest It Wisely, What I’ve discovered is that people who quit their jobs immediately find every reason to justify why, and people who can’t quit their jobs, or having a difficult time, do the opposite to justify why they can’t.

            Wherever we go, THERE WE ARE!

          • MPL says

            yeah, Bill Gates had to make it as far as Harvard before he could drop out of there, the connections made there would be enough to set him head and shoulders above the rest. On the flipside, someone like me, never even made it to uni, my only work experience is telephone answering, how am I supposed to start a business and get taken seriously, or even compete for a decent job? Bill Gates hasn’t worked up from a position like this, he was given a chance and he took it and ran with it, granted, but the chance he was given was a very good one. He isn’t exactly a “poor kid gone good” kind of story at all!

        • says

          @Jennifer Miller,

          Got it. Thanks for clearing things up on the hubby working at Apple. I thought you were talking about yourself. If your husband didn’t work, could you support your family with your freelance income? How does that income compare to your day job?

          I think you’ll enjoy this post. The Secret To Early Retirement

  15. says

    Excellent examples. Last year, I made the same amount of money in my business than I do at my day job. So, the natural reaction to this was “Why don’t you quit your day job?”. Why should I? I get insurance, 401K and other benefits from my day job. Plus, if I am making double the money I made last year, why should I cut it in half? If you crunch the numbers, you realize that just online business money is not enough for a family of 4.

  16. says

    Hey Sam,

    I have given some thoughts on your article since this morning and I’m a bit confused: I’m pretty sure that you make some healthy profit with your network. And I’m pretty sure you make over 10K/ month with it. So if you are able to keep your day job (which is definitely a good one) and grow another 10K/month on the side, I guess that if you would quit your day job, you would still be able to live from that online income, wouldn’t you?

    I’m happy to see posts like this one and see how many people are happy in their day job ’cause it leaves more money to make online for me (and probably you too, lol!).

    • says

      Mike, I could live off my online income now after 2.5 years, but like I said in my example, it’s quite a humble life that’s much lower than what I’m used to. The gap between my offline and online job income has to narrow further.

      It’s either I’ll make more online, or make much less offline. Either way, the gap has to narrow!

      • says

        I understand that there is a gap between your day job and your online income. But you can’t say that you would have a humble life with 10K/month! The problem is that you are an exception making maybe 500K+ at your day job. But the rationale wouldn’t apply if you would be making 100K/year instead of 500K+.

        Depending on your strengths (if you are good with kids (as a teacher or educator), tough luck to make 500K+ per year!), it can be almost impossible as an employee to reach the 6 figure mark (and I’m not even talking about reaching your level of income).

        Then again, if you are working 20-25hr/week and making 10K/month, I guess it’s a pretty good deal if you have a regular job and not yours (whatever you may do).

        • says

          True, although to generate $10,000 a month in operating profit or net profit after taxes requires a higher revenue figure like you know.

          I think I would happily work just 20-25 hours a week for 10K a month in operating profits before tax. Nobody really needs that much more imo.

  17. says

    I love it!

    I have actually started freelancing/consulting. There’s a trend right now in the blogging world to just say that some things are stupid/irresponsible/impossible just because they’re HARD.

    Everyone should be careful before ever quitting a job to pursue whatever dream. I’m absolutely not saying that people should just act impulsively when they have responsibilities. But this risk-adverse mentality is not exactly the kind of thing economic progress is made of.

    And as you said, it’s not all about the bottom line. My freedom is PRICELESS!

    • Jennifer Miller says

      Don’t worry Will, I found it! And good for you!! It can be done, it’s hard as hell sometimes, but it IS worth it. For us, time is the commodity that matters most… and we’ve figured out how to not have to sacrifice the “other” commodities either. Swing by our website and say Hi… edventureproject.com or find us on Facebook: facebook/edventureproject I’m gonna go check out your site now. Nice to meet a fellow out of the box warrior! :)

  18. Charlie Galvin says

    Great article. This is like adding giant red arrows highlighting the fine print, “Results not typical. Individual results may vary.”

    More emphasis needs to be put on uncovering what it is that will make you happy. Quitting my job seems glamorous, and I like to play out in my mind all the great things I could do with a location independent blog feeding me money. At the end of the day it could be another thing that doesn’t make me happy and leave me feeling worse that my personal work can’t even make me happy.

    As much as our economy is stated to be in a downward spiral with elevated unemployment it does not mean there are no jobs to be had. But there are plenty out there, people need to be willing to search in new markets and ones they didn’t previously think they could find work. I never considered checking the NPO market, but a friend sent me a hiring link for one that meets my criteria for what I am looking for in a job. I still have to work to get the job, but knowing it is out there opens my eyes to other jobs that might fill my desires as well.

    • says

      No doubt results may vary, they always do. I just encourage everyone to DO THE MATH and think things out a little more before jumping off the deep end.

      But, if you have nothing really to lose, then go for it!

  19. Marko Saric says

    Very good article and solid advice. It is refreshing to hear this unique perspective as the blogosphere is overcrowded with the “quit your job”, “travel around the world”, “work couple of hours a week”, “be epic” advice. Thanks!

  20. says

    When I read Baker’s post a week or so ago my jaw almost hit the ground. I do know one thing at 20K profit per year he is 100% absolutely doing something *wrong*. My guess is that he is focusing on too many things that bring in zero income and ignoring the tree that bears the fruit.

    • says

      He probably is focusing on one or five two many things, but he’s experimenting to see what works. I hope his investments in 2011 will pay off.

      He can, and probably will do more of those only 72 product things and make him another $30,000 a pop.

  21. says

    Excellent post, and personally very timely. There are quite a few who are in the empire building mode and while it is a fantastic side endeavour, most people forget the perks of being employed. I can walk away from my day job at 5pm and not have to worry about whether I made enough to eat that day, or pay the rent. I have health insurance, amazing company perks and the opportunity to grow. While not every position is the better than being employed, I think that there are quite a few different variations of running a side hustle and having a consistant pay-check coming in.

    • says

      I should write about the benefits of a sabbatical. Let’s take away what we forget, so we can appreciate what we have.

      One of the good thing about being self employed are all the business expenses.

  22. says

    The get rich quick scheme is a live and well online too. It appeals to the person who is frustrated, impulsive and lazy! I owned a lot of rental property and when I see the nothing down infomercials, I just can’t believe it. People line up to buy a $400 kit and they even have success testamonials. It has skam written all over it. I see through it because my experience. Does it take experience to realize that there are a lot of these out there? It should be common sense!

    • Sydney says

      I know! My mom almost fell for one of those make thousands of dollars stuffing envelopes from home scams. Thank goodness she asked me about it first before signing up for it!

  23. Kevin Mzansi says

    Oh well! There goes my grand plan for world domination :-)
    Very informative article, Sam. I always wondered what the numbers behind the stories are. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

  24. says

    I agree with Marko. This advice is good to hear, although I am not even thinking of quitting my day job. I want my day job to grow into a business, yes, but I love what I do. I wasn’t there before, I quit a job I hated and don’t regret it. But I don’t think that escaping, which many online bloggers seem to advocate, is the answer for all or even most people. I think I just got inspired for my next post!

  25. says

    Saving up 24mo of expenses when you’re young seems hard… but maybe that’s because I never got a job so I didn’t have much of an income at first. Building a real business (one that doesn’t take the best month ever and extrapolate it to look good) is at least as hard if not harder. There is a whole other world of business stories/advice where you might have to fail continuously for 15+ years just to know what you’re doing. But that’s the world where people do big things and become an “overnight success”.

    I highly recommend starting a business because you never know who will like doing it. You can’t rush it so it’s good to start while you’re still employed and then in a few years you’ll have options. If you’re just starting out I don’t know if jobs are that great but they can pay a bit more at first. Even the easiest and most reliable businesses take time to grow. But anyone who works like Sam can succeed with a business or a job!

    • says

      Thanks mate. Appreciate the vote of confidence! While young, expenses should be limited too, so hopefully it’s relatively easier to save 2 years worth of expenses.

      Remind me what you do again? I’d love to learn more from you and your experiences. How long have you been going at it?

      • says

        Could be easier.. then again I’m not thinking of people who have big debts. I guess everyone is screwed :)

        What’s the real difference between a business and a job? Both are a way for you to provide value to others. With a business you figure out what and how and pay is tied to skill, performance, and convincing people. With a job you follow instructions that someone else figured out. You get more at first but you add less value over time and pay is tied to how well you listen and get along with co-workers. I think I would struggle with the second option but that doesn’t apply to everyone.

        I’m in the technology industry with over 5 years in my main business. I’m now starting some additional ones but following my own advice they will have to prove themselves without putting in a lot of time. It might take a while but I can wait.

  26. says

    Can anyone say “whale post”?? Amazing article – one that I particularly find interesting as I am hoping to quit my day job in the next year or so. I will do so cautiously and only if my business plans are indeed taking off at as steady (or exponential) pace. As I realize the costs of some of the expenses and taxes, I am slowly increasing my target income before I cut myself off from the safety net. The closer I get to the day that I want to quit, the more income that I want. It’s a bad cycle, but I have to remember that I’m not out to make a ton. Just earn enough. The difficult thing is that as you pointed out, there is no security in working for yourself online. In some ways, I feel like if I’m not making A LOT of money online, I will fail.

    • says

      Do you have an income goal to reach online, or a savings goal to reach before you quit? I think you’re still in your 20s right? Help me/us understand why the desire to pull the rip chord so soon? Thx!

      • says

        Yep, still in my 20’s. 24 to be precise. I want to pull the plug because it seems like the best option for me now. If I were to follow my old track, it would take 5 more years of schooling (in addition to the one I have left for my masters) and then there would be no guaranteed job unless I moved to the middle of nowhere. I have also started to enjoy blogging so much and I am doing okay for myself so far… that I would like to give it a shot. When I have a safety net (my wife and emergency fund), why not give it a shot?

        Yes, originally it was 2500 per month, but I am starting to think something closer to a net profit of $2500 per month, or something more like 4k per month. To do that, I think i would like to have a stable 1k per month (from freelance that I can perform in 10-15 hrs per month) and an additional money from advertisements. I just need to develop some of the projects and I think I should be able to get there by the end of the year.

        • says

          Wouldn’t it be better to find a job you love going to that pays $100,000+, is fun, has healthcare, good benefits, 4 or more weeks of vacation paid, and blog on the side?

          I wouldn’t rely on your wife, just like I would advise every wife not to rely on a husband.

          Is $2,500/month in net profit enough? Where do you live?

  27. kate says

    Interesting post. When I was searching for a job lately and a couple of years ago, alot of positions ask for an “entreprenurial spirit” or will say, if you are just looking for a paycheck then this isn’t the job for you. But that’s the only thing I’d want from a job is a paycheck. They want the creativity of an entreprenuer but they pay you and treat you like an employee.
    I’ve been doing the work at home thing for a while now, it’s been challenging considering my kids are young and I keep having more : ). But I think lots of people might want a job but it’s just not possible whether because you can’t find one you can stand or you have a family to care for. Or a job just doesn’t offer the flexibilty a family needs. I said all that to say, I don’t think people are exactly quitting their jobs to pursue their online dreams.

  28. says

    Awesome post Sam, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. Loved your four real life examples to back up your point. I’m going for the have a day job that I love and build something on the side approach. Moving along so far, but baby around the corner will make things very interesting!

    • says

      Congrats on the baby around the corner! That will make things interesting… donno if I can quit my day job, if that’s the case. I think you’ll enjoy your job more, since you see that it’s going towards providing for the little one.

  29. Dan says

    I agree with this 100%!!!

    24 months of expenses saved up???

    I spent over five years caring for, and supporting, a dying parent. I built up a mountain of debt in that time. I’ve been out of college for 12 years and haven’t been able to pay on my school loans for the last six years because I can’t make enough money to have extra to go to the loans. I now owe more on my loans than when I graduated!

    I admire people who go for their dreams, but some of us just want that plain old job so we can pay the bills. Hopes and dreams sometimes have to be put on the back burner until you can afford to pursue them…

  30. says

    Great job Sam! I was pretty surprised by Baker’s report because I had always imagined him as making a lot of money and traveling the country. I’m glad he was really open about what’s he’s earned, but also what he has spent. Still it seems like he’s investing for the future and next year expenses won’t be as high but earnings should be the same or more. Enjoy his work and have spoken with him before. Great guy!

    Thanks for adding the other examples!

  31. says

    Hi Sam, I love the examples you mention in this post. As a business person, you really have to look at the numbers to make sure you are earning money off of your business ventures. You also have to make sure you understand what the numbers actually mean (revenue vs. profit) to come to a conclusion. Thanks for the advice.

    • says

      Indeed. Folks who want to quit their jobs need to compare their gross income with an entrepreneur’s operating income before taxes. Then they can compare net profits as well, but tax rates are different.

      They shouldn’t compare an entrepreneur’s revenue with their gross income.

  32. says

    Sam, great post. I actually assumed from a lot of these income reports that it was primarily income and low expenses. My expenses annually are probably less than $1000. If I had double the blog income I have now (not a complete stretch) and was laid off or whatever, I might be in a position to give it a go. I guess some cases where people are buying blogs or scaling up at certain expenses will certainly pay off down the road; on the other hand, some commenters shared how they had high income AND high expenses and eventually ran outta cash.

    Anyway, thanks for putting some numbers and details to all these case studies; it was a great read!

      • says

        Hmm, well first year had some startup costs for llc, and theme and whatnot, but looking at TRUE costs to blog (no, not deductions for your home office, an iphone that I’d own regardless of blogging, and all the other crap bloggers try to write off that isn’t really necessary to run a blog), here’s what I come up with:
        – $10/yr for domain
        – $100/yr for hosting (yes, dreamhost sucks sometimes, but that’s what I’ve been paying)
        – misc couple hundred bucks once in a while for a logo/design, some security cleanup or whatever
        – $30 a year in new domain registrations I never end up using :>
        – $100 extra on top of my normal return for taxes

        That’s about it! What am I missing?

        • says

          $100/yr hosting is amazing. I’m literally 25X that a year. Perhaps I am overpaying yeah? I wanted to pay up for the fastest, most reliable dedicated server possible, which hasn’t always worked that’s for sure.

          Cell phone and internet connection?

          Travel expenses?

          Therapeutic massage chair??

  33. says

    Hmm… so, Don’t Quit Your Day Job?

    I actually thought this was going to be a rehash (or a similar article) to the “Why retire?” article you wrote on your site. I thought you would talk about how tough it is to make friends without the structure of a 9-5. Nope!

    You’re absolutely right – too often in our sphere people are concentrating on the revenue side of the game, and not on the expenses. Yeah, you can write off expenses, but just like you would never buy a house just for the write off, why would you increase your expenses for that very same reason? I know some writers are pulling in $20,000 to $30,000 after all is said and done… but they generally are working as many hours as they would in a day job. The dream of making 6 figures while lazily writing 2 articles a week? That won’t come true for many people, if any…

    • says

      Indeed. DQYDJ! But someday, we all should!

      You could make millions by selling like JD at GRS. Anything is possible! I would venture to guess the number was well over $5 million with his readership! Love the dream!

  34. says

    Great post with great reminders. Self-employment taxes suck (let’s say 25% to the Fed, 10% to California, and then your Social Security and Medicare take 13.3%). That is a huge bite of 48.3% of your earnings. Even if you moved to Texas, that is still 38.3% – ugly.

    I’d almost rather keep working so that my employer at least foots half the Social Security bill!

    • says

      Everybody should start a business. Then they will realize how ANTI BUSINESS the government is, and will never vote on a politician to raise anybody’s taxes again, yes even the top 2%.

      People don’t know how onerous taxation by the government is, so they vote for more government. Of course they do, b/c they don’t have to pay for it.

  35. MoneyforCollegePro says

    Awesome article. it certainly pays to think multiple times before actually pulling the plug and hanging out your shingle as a self-employed person. Makes you think many times over and seriously consider the risk you take. Life is not always so rosy when you work for yourself!

    • Sydney says

      Very true and it’s definitely not up everyone’s alley to be their own boss! It takes a lot of discipline and either the ability to wear multiple hats or the skilld to find a solid team of assistants or vendors to outsource tasks to.

  36. says

    Quite depressing but very true. I think there needs to be a balance. If you are going to school and have a day job that you love or like or just deal with then unless something comes along that is HUGELY better and secure I wouldn’t want to listen to those saying to quit. I personally haven’t run into those people and very rarely read those blogs that tell people to quit. Of course if one is totally unhappy or even miserable then quitting might be the difference between life and death.

    • Sydney says

      Hating one’s job should be one of the biggest motivators for people to figure out what they want to do with their life and work towards that goal. But too many people get stuck in a negative spiral complaining about their job all the time and fail to do anything about it. It’s certainly not easy to change careers or become an entrepreneur, but I wish more people would proactively look for ways to turn their careers around and better utilize their time outside the office. There’s tons of time on the weekends and evenings for people to further their education, start a side business, and work on achieving new goals.

  37. says

    Great article Sam! I’ve always been skeptical of some of these guys and what they teach. Self employment is not for everybody. You really should be making substantial money from your side gig and have a plan to grow that before you quit a job and go solo. You should only quit your job because your side gig is kicking so much butt you can’t do both.
    There is a great book out there called “Quitter” by Jon Acuff that really examines how and why you should develop your dream without shooting yourself in the foot and ending up hating your dream. When you read his story you’ll find that he has the authority and experiences to back it up too.

  38. says

    My best friend is a personal trainer and he calls himself Tough Love. And boy is he good at giving this tough love to me. lol I thought about it when I was reading your great article. :)
    Anyhow… a very timely post. I think a lot of people get wrapped up in this idea of becoming on-line millionaires without realizing how much it actually costs to run a successful business. There will be exceptions to the rule but majority of us will never be able to quit our jobs AND forgo health benefits, retirement benefits and paid time off. How many people actually take these costs into account when they are planning their jump into self-employment?

    • Sydney says

      And the amount of time that it takes, especially blogging! I had no idea how quickly the hours add up running a site, and I didn’t have a clue until after I jumped in. Thank goodness I love it, but not everyone who wants to be a blogger will like the reality of it all, so that’s why trying it out on the side is the best way.

  39. says

    I’d love to see an informercial based on this realistic article… sign up today and potentially waste years of your life being broke and unemployable.

    Between resume holes, income insecurity and the sheer difficulty of succeeding, even leaving a day job once a web business picks up is still a monster risk. I guess it takes experience to know that, but there are many millionaires on the web who made their fortunes preaching the exact opposite of the truth you dropped here.

    • Sydney says

      That would be quite a funny infomercial! There definitely are lots of risks dropping a day job and it is a terrible decision for people who have a tendency to get lazy and aren’t good at setting deadlines or meeting them.

    • Sydney says

      And that’s perfectly ok! If you love blogging you’ll keep it up and more money will come with time. And not everyone needs tons of money to live the lifestyle they want either.

  40. First Million is the Hardest says

    Excellent post. This is definitely a topic that needed more light shone on it. All too often those telling you to “live the dream” are doing so themselves by selling it to you.

    • Sydney says

      Yep! There’s a lot of that online and on TV too. Granted not everyone who is selling something has bad or greedy intentions, but it’s usually a good idea to be a bit skeptical of anyone who says “live the dream with my product!” With so many free online reviews it’s pretty much foolish not to do research before buying something these days.

  41. Khaleef @ KNS Financial says

    Hey Sam, this is such a great post! So many people dream of the “easy life”, where they make a killing online and sit on the beach somewhere. However, they don’t realize all that goes into it (time, costs, legal issues, etc). Most people just focus on the headline number of a full time blogger and go from there.

    This post is definitely a wake-up call for many! I would love to build up my online and offline business to a point where I can quit my job, but with one income and a ton of debt, that probably won’t be anytime soon!

  42. says

    In my view, information is a bad business model. We’re well past the printing presses, and anyone has access to any amount of information. Also, when it comes to the internet, which is full of hobbyists, it is only a matter of time before margins go to zero, or even negative.

    Even management consulting, something FS probably knows really well, is disguised as an information product. But at the end of the day the money isn’t in the consulting, but the connections – a much more valuable product.

    • says

      Sure, I agree with that. When everybody’s got a head for full of information and can readily share it, the race is to the bottom. But what do you mean by ‘connections’? The mechanics of SEO or the physical wires?

      • JT says

        The rubber stamp from an Ivy grad isn’t all that’s for sale with consulting. They’re essentially fraternities, or like conventions with $500k entrance fees. Put a bunch of people in a room who pay $500k entrance fees and you’re only going to have well-connected, powerful, and wealthy people.

        • says

          I actually have a very…. VERY insightful post about how the rich and powerful get more rich and powerful. However, I’m waiting for enough time to pass to publish this piece. It just takes money to begin with.

          • says

            I see your point. As the British used to buy titles, our current day elected nobility gets it through an expensive country club. I remember reading an article that made a good case on how the Ivy League system schools are actually breeding grounds for mediocre students. Not the best and the brightest, just the best-connected.

  43. says

    That is a great write up and I loved the personal view into the subjects and the insight into Yakezie. It is interesting to think about take home income from online projects. It is particularly useful around tax time when I am figuring that out for myself.

    • Sydney says

      Oh man taxes, don’t remind me. Expenses are one thing, but paying taxes on a business are painful. I like your logo redesign you decided on btw! The green looks sweet.

  44. Andrea says

    I both agree and disagree with this post. I agree that most people won’t be able to quit their jobs and live like rock stars, and that successful full-time bloggers are flukes rather than the norm. I think people need to be realistic about their skills and potential instead of thinking they can get rich overnight if they just start enough websites or sell enough products.

    Where I disagree, though, is the assertion that people who quit their jobs will fail and “die alone.” Maybe some, but definitely not all.

    Many people know my situation. 6.5 years in a career where I made $42k at best and less than minimum wage at the worst. The most I could have hoped for – EVER – is maybe $65k a year before taxes. Not exactly the glamorous life. I’m already set to make more as a freelance writer in 2012 than I made from my “real” job in 2011. Maybe that’s a different animal since I’m not depending on Adsense/blogging to make that money for me, but I’m self-employed nonetheless, and blogging is the platform that landed me freelance writing gigs in the first place.

    I can’t predict the future and I won’t jump up and down screaming that there’s no way I’ll fail within 2 years. But my definitions of failure/success seem to be a lot different than yours. I don’t need to be wealthy – I need to pay my bills and raise my son in a low COL area, hopefully while continuing to work from home and spending more time with him. And if I was self-employed using my educational background (psychotherapy) instead of writing, I doubt anyone would tell me I couldn’t do it.

    Quitting a job isn’t for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. But just like you tell us not to listen to those who sell the dream, I am not buying your nightmare either. I will not be unemployable if I choose to return to my career as a therapist, no matter how long the gap may be. I may very well die alone, but that’s due to circumstances other than the fact that I’m self-employed. My life is not over just because I won’t make half a million dollars a year, because I never would have done that anyway. For some people, self-employment is possible, and the extreme view here is disheartening to those who are listening to themselves and not a bunch of so-called gurus.

  45. says

    @Sam:
    You assume Erica’s business had no debt and was completely all cash that was put into her bank account. For all we know her business had $500k of debt but was sold for $1.1 Mil.

    • says

      True. We will never know until Erica says so herself.

      I’ll just assume no debt and 100% ownership to prove my point that even after a $1.1 million sale, it’s not easy street 4-5 years later.

  46. says

    What I think a lot of you are forgetting to mention is relative wealth. Sure, $35,000 a year may not be a lot of money for someone living in California with kids to feed but if one were to make $35,000 annually and live in, let’s say, Colombia that is an entirely different story. I lived a comfortable lifestyle in Colombia with my wife on $500 a month for several years. Sure sometimes we ran into difficulties but it was still very easy to achieve a good standard of living nonetheless. I have friends that make $4-5k a month with their online businesses. Again, this is not a lot of money if one were to live in North America or Europe. However, they spend most of their time in South America and South East Asia and live very comfortable (if not lavish) lives.

    I appreciate this article because I feel that many online entrepreneurs talk so much about their success but don’t reveal how much work they had to put into it to make it a reality. A quote a friend of mine shared with me sums it up: “Success is like being pregnant, everyone congratulates you but know one knows how many times you were f*cked.”

    I feel as if some of these bloggers should just come out a say, “the best way to make money off your online business is to sell books on how to make money off your online business.”

  47. Kris @ Simple Island Living says

    What a freaking awesome post. Btw, the main thing I’m taking away from this is “Don’t be a donkey.” Cause that’s a good motto for everything.

    • says

      Stay away from drugs Paula! I’m actually a super optimist and try and see the good in everything. Chin up!

      Just don’t forget to differentiate to your readers that $50,000 income is actually revenue, and not operating profits before tax.

  48. says

    I am a work-at-homer and I didn’t know people were being told that is what to aim for. Quite honestly, it’s way better than what I was doing before ($35k a year customer service position), but not everyone should or even would want to work from home. The hours suck. Willpower is a must. You deal with stupid, mean, and angry people just as much. I answer more than 200 emails a day and my husband answers another 50-100. For me and hubby, it kicks butt, but what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

    So my advice to anyone – find a job you love that pays the bills and leaves enough to cover your booty in the future. I don’t care if that is in a cubicle, at home, or travelling. Just find that something that makes you happy and gives you enough or more than enough and hold on tight.

    It took me 5-6 years after college to find that. Make sure you are making something while you look too. :-)

    • Sydney says

      I totally agree on looking for a new job before quitting, especially if relocating out of state or to a new city isn’t an issue. People go on interviews all the time while they’re still working without their employers finding out. Some people are a lot better at keeping it on the down low than others though! Finding a job doesn’t happen over night, and having a steady income coming in while applying for jobs is a LOT less stressful.

  49. says

    I agree that many people who quit decent jobs; will and do fail, whats worth noting is that 99% do not “die alone” they get back up and take another job and are probably happier in knowing that going it alone is not for them.

    I quit a decent paying job back in 2010 with my only back up been a solid $600 a month income from my websites, during the last 18 months I have saw that income nearly double , then drop back to $450 a month “over night, Panda Slap”

    During January of this year I decided to document and try Living in Thailand with $400 a month “I consider $600 to be comfortable” the standard of living I have today is only slightly different from what I had in the states, I swapped a SUV for a small motor bike,a large beautiful 1 bed apart with a view, for a small beautiful studio with a view. Little else has changed, sure I had to make new friends, I dont have to work now and I have got to do and see a lot of very cool stuff in the last 18 months.

    The risks involved with quitting a job are minimal at best, the upside if you succeed are beyond most peoples imagination and well wort the risk.

    • says

      What if somebody wants to earn more than $600 and not live in Thailand? I think practically everybody in the Yakezie Network, for example, makes more than $600/month and could live in Thailand. However, the bigger issue is family and friends back home, and saving some money for retirement as well.

      $600 is not a high hurdle, although it’s good to know if shit hits the fan, we can all go move to Thailand. I notice from your picture that it looks like you have a lot of experience. Did you accumulate some savings during your decades working to also live off those proceeds?

      Thx Neale. Will check out your site.

      • says

        Family and friends, is an issue and is tough at first, slowly I am making new ones just like if I moved cities in the states, a trip home once or twice a year would do me just fine, on the plus side they also have a place to go visit / holiday.

        As far as saving retirement, I have to disagree with you, one can save far more here “not on $600 a month :-) ” with say $3,000 a month one could easily save $1,500 have a 3 bed house and drive a new car .

        My goal is not to not work and live with $600 per month it is just to use Thailand as a stepping stone in a 4-5 year plan of getting back to 4-5,000 a month.

        I had quite a lot of savings, a good percentage came from selling everything, I have only ever had a “real job” the last few years in the USA Most of my life working for myself doing a variety of things. So yes I have a lot of experience of been self sufficient in 3 countries now 4 .

        Accumulating savings is in my opinion probably the worst thing you can do when considering going it alone. Simply been on the edge financially is a great motivator to earn more and make the best of what you have.

        • says

          Neale, thanks for responding. Reading between the lines, it sounds like you haven’t saved much since first graduating from HS or College, as you say you are “living on the edge” and believing it’s a bad thing to do?

          As a personal finance blogger, not saving goes contra to one of my key tenets as I believe one should save and spend freely.

          Is the plan to get to $4-$5,000/month online? How do you plan to get there from $1,000/month currently?

          • says

            Financial Samurai I agree wholeheartedly that having savings behind you offers a sense of security that is priceless, you are right in deducing I have never been much for saving, until a few years back “which was more to do with been paid a lot and just not needing to spend it”

            I dont believe living on the edge is good, or something that one should do for prolonged periods. I do believe it is quite ok to go it alone knowing you will be on the edge for a year or so, as this as a great motivator.

            My Income is all residual and generated online from websites, how do I plan on getting to 4-5000 a month the short version would be “rinse and repeat” That could and will change overtime as things evolve.

  50. says

    What a great read! And that includes both the post and the feedback comments. I can totally understand how this post ‘took a lot out of’ you. I’ve had a similar ‘you’re not that guy’ idea running through my head, but the subject is pretty big to wrap the ol’ brain around.

    Having done quite a bit of traveling myself, I can say that living that awesome location-independent lifestyle is not all bunnies and kittens. Power outages, poor security, bad medicine, the list goes on…. I’d venture that more than a few free-lancers and bloggers that head overseas come back eventually to the cushy North American standard of living.

    I quite like my day job. It’s challenging, the people are great, and the pay/benefits not so half bad. The fact that some money is starting to roll in from the blog is just a bonus. I figure it’ll pay for a couple vacations here and there.

  51. Super Frugalette says

    I would also add the thought “don’t quit your job to search for the perfect job”. I have seen this strategy fail too. This isn’t a great economy and no one is going to believe that you weren’t fired and just decided to spend months looking for your perfect job. It is rare to have a “perfect” job. I agree with Sam…be happy with the 60-70%

    • says

      It’s kinda funny though… the stock market is rumbling back and things seem to be super strong now.

      If anybody can find a job they like 70% of the time, hold onto it for dear life and never let go!

  52. youngandthrifty says

    Oh Sam, You’ve done it again :)

    You don’t earn the title of Mr. Controversial for nothing from me!

    I loved this post. Thanks for the examples.

    I could never do this thing full time. I love blogging on the side because that’s what makes it a hobby. If I had to do this full time, I don’t think it would be as fun anymore and it would be stressful. It’s certainly a competitive arena out there :)

    • says

      LOL he is mr controversial I nearly left comments along the line of “how can you post if you die alone, obviously your not dead so it’s not true”

      Many things need to be taken into consideration when quitting a decent paying job, the least of these is “will I die alone” great title though and got me posting.

      Rather than look at what blogging full time would give, consider how can I leverage what I do part time 10 fold or more financially, then you are in a situation working part time and maybe making a full time living.

      • says

        Neale, you are lucky in a way b/c it sounds like you never had a decent paying job, therefore you didn’t feel shackled to it i.e. golden hand cuffs. You’re free!

        If all you are shooting for is $5,000/month online in 5 years, I know you can succeed.

    • says

      Ahhh, nothing good is uncompetitive! It’s a battle out there baby, for sure!

      With the examples above, I wanted to take the controversy out of my thesis. With these examples, there’s nothing controversial about this post.

      All three examples excluding me have responded, corroborated, and agreed.

      Who wants to die alone?

  53. says

    That’s pretty harsh. There are other opportunities for fulfillment. While I agree it is probably unwise to chuck it all in and live in the mountains, it is possible to stay connected with your old profession, and colleagues while exploring something new. Consider joining an Expert Network like Gerson Lehrman Group, CognoLink or Askvisory. You can keep up to date with your industry, continue networking, and make some consulting money.

    • Sydney says

      Networking is more powerful than a lot of people realize and too often folks forget to keep in touch with their prior managers, colleagues, and mentors.

  54. says

    Your sequence of consequences sounds like those new Directtv television commercials where people end up beaten up in ditches by thugs because he is having trouble with his other provider. Haha!

    I mainly agree with what you say. However, I also think that everyone should take Atleast one risk in their lives for something they are passionate about or for someone they love. You always need a monetary safety net when doing so. But at the end of life, its not nice to have ‘what if’s’ looming.

  55. says

    @ 20’s Finance,

    Don’t fool yourself about your wife loving working for long, after you kick back and retire at 25 years old. She will start getting envious that you don’t have to work, and will start not wanting to work either. Mark my words! HAve a back up!

  56. says

    thought provoking post Sam and one that is needed periodically to put things in perspective. however to be fair I feel the data shouldn’t overly weigh on just one end of the spectrum either.

    I am with you in that the 4 examples above are not at all ideal by my own standards, but I can instantly think of another 4 examples that can tilt the underlying message of the post in another direction all together instantly, demonstrating the perfect blend that a personal finance conscious individual, a thriving netpreneur and a freedom lover would want in their lives (something many/most would envy).

    there are examples of all kinds of scenarios if we actively seek for them. just as not everyone is striking gold online, many are struggling to crack a certain income ceiling in their day jobs as well. many of those are struggling to find balance in life (health, relationships, etc). many (most if you read/listen to certain mediums) are not happy doing what they are doing in their “real” jobs. the point is that the sh*t and sugar comes with every blend of nescafe out there, whether you sip it online or offline.

    Personally, I don’t read/hear many successful internetpreneurs tell readers to quit their jobs blindly (at least not the ones I read), or bash those who have “real” jobs either, but I far more often hear those with 9-5 jobs analyze and rationalize everything wrong with not having a regular 9-5 job and working online full time instead. Maybe you can share some resources?

    Personally I am an advocate of both, or any one of the two if it satisfies one’s end goals and objectives. I may not want that situation for me, but good for he/she who indulges in it. However one must be clear what those goals are and the type of lifestyle the bring with them.

    Whether readers are manipulated is of course a result of a mix between the message conveyed, the type of reader and the current psychological state of the reader or their position in life. Every message can be interpreted in more than one way, depending on how it resonates with the receiver.

    I appreciate the intent of the post, but in all fairness I feel the other end of the spectrum also has to be presented so that people potentially just don’t throw their hands up in the air and give up after reading a post like this. But then again, maybe this was not the intent of your post. Maybe it is a strong wake up call for those who are delusional? But do you really think the readers of this blog and/or yours fit that category?

    Adding my thoughts on the topic…

    • Sydney says

      From what I’ve seen around the web I think there are more lifestyle nomads who bash the 9-5 life versus the other way around. There certainly are people who work office jobs who hit an income ceiling and work around the clock, but from what I’ve observed in my recruiting experience, the folks who work hard, perform well, take their evaluations seriously, know when to say no and excel at time management don’t have that problem as often. Sure not everyone can be a rock star at their job and make a six figure income, but I think if more people were receptive to constructive criticism, identifying and improving their weaknesses, and being proactive with their careers, they’d be able to push through more financial roadblocks.

      We’re all different and some of us aren’t cut out for 9-5’s just like others would be horrible entrepreneurs. The main thing is more people should realize that starting a business isn’t going to make them rich overnight and it may never make them rich period.

    • says

      We must be reading different blogs then! :)

      We see what we want to see. It’s our bias.

      There are definitely successes… I would rather highlight the successes that show how hard it is, so that readers and myself enter things with EYES WIDE OPEN!

      If we never know what their NET profits are, then we never know what we’re shooting for. This is a key point.

      So Sunil, will you be revealing your operating profits and net profits for us? Would be great!

      Sam

      • says

        I’m glad I haven’t come across those blogs, because any such blog would certainly leave a bad taste. The blogs I read are very much transparent in what it takes to get to working only 4 hours per week, 2 hours per day, blah . . .

        As an ex CPA, when I do reveal my numbers, I will make certain they are net profits. It irks me when I see only gross numbers because you’re right they don’t tell everything, but then again I am sure if a W2 employed individual was asked the same, they certainly wouldn’t mention a number net of their expenses (fuel, lunches, car depreciation, etc) and taxes would they?

        One can argue that an individual’s cost structure also varies. Some drive 10 miles to work, others drive 100. Some use their own cell phones, others use a compan paid and provided…

  57. says

    Sam, I see where you’re coming from on this post, but I feel like you’re more or less saying to base your decision entirely on money and consider the financial repercussions if you fail. But what about lifestyle and doing what you’re interested in? Those are even more important factors to me than just trying to earn a lot.

    While I haven’t attempted quitting my job and giving the entrepreneurship a go, I don’t feel like it’s as prolific of an issue as you’re making it seem in this post. I actually think there are too many people out there with wonderful minds that live their whole lives as employees doing mundane and meaningless work.

    For me, quitting and going the entrepreneurial route is about finding out if it’s right for me and if I can be successful while I’m at a point in my life where it makes sense. I’m sure I’ll get a good sense of this in less than two years and be able to make the decision of whether or not to go back to a job. For me, going full steam ahead with a career I don’t enjoy just to earn the most money possible isn’t the goal in life, and I’m not worried about losing opportunity if I do fail as an entrepreneur.

    I know in our little corner of the blogosphere there are a lot of people saying “Just quit your job! You’ll love it!” I get that the hype is there, and I’m glad this post points out that it’s not really as easy as some people make it sound.

  58. Anna @ Good Cents Savings says

    Exactly! I think that part of being a grown up (that a lot of people seem to not want to accept) is that in order to be successful you have to work hard most of the day, most days of the week. Even a “dream job” will have crappy parts to it that you don’t like to do (even baseball players and rock stars complain about their jobs sometimes.) And you have to do to them anyway. Preferably without making a stink about it. Whether you work for yourself or someone else commit to a lot of hard work and you’ve got a much better shot at success.

    • says

      Maybe some people never grow up? Or never want to grow up? Maybe its not that bad of a thing says Peter Pan…

      Imagine not being grown up, and going on your own, and trying to succeed. No wonder why so many fail.

  59. Sjur Reinsnos says

    Quit your job and die alone? Whats that? You will die alone anyway and I worked a real job for 30 years and it got me where? Did I get rich? No. Did I survive? Yes
    Could I afford to go on vacations every year with what they paid me? No.
    So after working all that time without getting anywhere I saw that working where a failing proposition.

    And now there are hardly any work to get and the few jobs there are is taken by low paid immigrants. Where I live there are no jobs, so the least I have to worry about is the gaping 4 year hole in my resume.

    I think that you are to negative, you should never stay in a job that will slowly kill you and wear you down. Life is far to short for that kind of thing. The most important thing is to learn more, this is why you are equipped with as large a brain that you have. Use that brain to learn more and use your thinking to something else than depressive negative thoughts.

    You should control your thoughts and not the other way around. By the way I have two sons but I expect to die alone anyway, and that though do not bother me at all. Why is that? Because I control my mind. If you do not decide to control your own thinking then someone else will control it for you. Like the mass media. Or television or even blogs…

  60. says

    Awesome post, Sam! I’ll let you know if I self-destruct, lol. You might put me in the “Read all the downsides already, knows about the risks, but said F-it and decided to do it anyways” camp.

  61. says

    Blogging is mostly a hobby at this point for me. It is inspiring though to see how others are making money from it. A few hundred bucks a month would be a nice bonus for doing something that I enjoy. If it exceeds a few hundred bucks per month, my wife will be thrilled that she won’t have to work anymore. Quitting my day job to blog full time is not even on the radar and probably will never be a goal for me.

    Thanks for another epic post Sam!

    • says

      No problem Matt. Glad you enjoyed it. If you ever get that hockey stick in traffic, you’ll actually be surprised to find how easy it is to make over a thousand bucks online. But once you get there, you start longing for more until you have a serious consideration, “Can I do this full-time?”

  62. says

    I always take a big interest in the “What it takes to be full time” articles through the financial blogger world.

    My goal isn’t to make my blog a full time job, but I would love it if it generated about $300 a month.

    I wish you the best — Your writing style is very solid and you entertain, that’s like 1/10th of the battle right?

  63. says

    I am one of the people that often encourages people to change a situation they are in if they are not happy. I don’t think it is right or wrong to have a 9-5 day job or be location independent. We need people doing all kinds of things for our little planet to function so it is all about finding the balance between happiness and personal success. Sadly for some it is harder than others and that is based on a million factors.

    I made some silly decisions and am not the most stable financially but I am not completely broke either, somewhere happily in the middle but getting more secure as they years go on!

    The idea of a day job actually gives me a near panic attack but that is just me! However if things went down the pan and I really needed to get back in the rat race I would do it without hesitation and throw my all into it until I was stable enough to get out again!

    • says

      Sounds good to me Forest. It looks to me that you seem to be able to travel a lot, make money, pay off your debts, and be happy in general! Imagine never going into consumer debt too… how even easier it would be!

      I think I can understand you regarding returning to a day job giving you a panic attack! Maybe I’ll get there one day too!

  64. says

    It’s hard for a lot of people who work online to make money via a single website. Sometimes it’s better to run several sites and have a few money streams on the go. Takes a bit of effort to keep all the plates up in the air, but it works for some.

  65. says

    For some the economy has forced them to do something different in life. Some, for example, have lost their jobs and rather than looking for other employment have become self-employed, many quite successfully.. At times of recession the number of people going it alone often goes up. Circumstances can have a big part to play in where life leads you.

  66. Roy Marvelous says

    Re: Adam Baker – now is that $20,000 operating profit after personal expenses like food, gas, etc? He doesn’t pay rent, right? That’s a big difference to earning an salary of $20,000 – it’s not like all that will go to savings.

    However, I agree with the gist of what you’re saying. Lots of people seem to be interested in quitting their job to be location independent but have no sustainable or logical business model behind it. Personally I like the stability of a steady paycheck but really respect entrepreneurs.

    • says

      Indeed. The $20,000 in operating income is comparable to a $20,000-$30,000 gross salary at a day job. He probably put a lot of his day to day expenses in his business, which is the beauty of having your own business.

  67. i Love Hunger Games says

    Even people with 4 year University Degrees and MBAs can’t find jobs nowadays! And don’t even start with company Layoffs! People in their 40’s and 50’s getting laid off and companies giving smaller severance packages. The most tragic thing one can do nowadays in put 10-% trust in a JOB!

    Most employees don’t choose their destiny its decided for them by the employer/corporation once they decide the bottom line is more important and salaries are usually the first to go!

    As much as I agree with you and also have a mutual dislike for so called ”gurus” and other scam artists, don’t stray from the fact that NOT all people out there are happy and want to hold onto a ”job” as some people weren’t made to work for others but rather create opportunities for more jobs =)

    Who’s going to offer the college graduates jobs if we all seek to be and stay employees!!!

    • says

      No doubt a job is not the end all be all.

      Just don’t take it for granted and feel it’s easy to make a comparable living on one’s own, offline or online. It’s very hard and not all is what it seems. People tout the great and fail to reveal the not so great.

  68. says

    See, I was laid off and was forced into running my own business and because I spent 24 hours a day building it and I had time to without a job, I make enough to support myself. I’m still building it, but I would work from the comfort of my own small office on my own time than answer to a boss any day. Don’t get me wrong, I would NEVER quit my job unless I had the financial means to do so. I would build a business while working if I wanted to go that route. Quitting your job before you are financially ready to is just plain stupid, but don’t tell people to not start a business at all. If they like the ride then it’s all for them and perhaps not for you. I love the ride and I know when the economy picks up again I’ll do 3 times better than how I’m doing now. I just won’t spend it all in once place.

  69. Kevin says

    Good article, because it brings in to reality the fact that most people when they start their own Business have Just Bought themselves a JOB. ie: self employed – they will still be trading time for money (selling hours of their time – doing some service – for money). This is ultimately the same as being an employee and is doomed to fail in 80 to 90% of the time.. as shown in Insurance stats… that most business start-ups fail in the 1st 5 to 10 years.
    The key is and always will be ‘Leverage’. Unless you are working toward a situation where, eventually, your income does not depend on you… then you can never have “wealth”- Both Money AND Time to enjoy it.
    My advice to everyone.. is get a good education and then get into a business that from day 1 is designed to create leverage. A JOB is a waste of time and a dead end – go broke situation. (J.O.B. – Journey Of the Broke) Trading time for money will never allow anyone to be set free. By all means use a job or become self employed as a buffer while you are creating leverage, but please don’t think that a job (or a self employment business ) will ever pay you enough to set you free.
    In a JOB or self employment Business you are selling your life minute by minute, hour by hour day in day out.. and you’ll never be able to recover that time back and you can never stop. There are only 24 hours in a day. You MUST create Leverage…
    Hope this helps,

    Kevin

  70. says

    Great post, as young person you feel that you can do anything you want, but in reality most of us not the materials for business, so before you quit your job and open a business think twice, I did it I opened my own business ,money is not bad but hard and stressful to make, often I think that I would love to work for someone else and not have to deal with the stress of managing a business.

  71. says

    Hey Sam,

    great idea to follow-up on this (already) amazing post. I’ve a made a huge mistake of not leaving a business model that was set to fail (selling text links). The money was easy and I kept going this way instead of building something more sustainable. Now I’m back to do that with my membership website, but there is a long way before I hit 10K again. Income has become less stable (I made 3K in March but 8K in February, go figure!).

    In the end, what you need to get from this post IMO is that running a business is everything but easy!

  72. says

    Very timely article to come across as I have had the opportunity recently to jump ship and start my own practice. The problem is, and it’s a good problem I admit, I enjoy my current job and an happy with the salary and benefits. I guess I will have to run the numbers and decide if it’s worth the extra work and time away from family.

    • says

      It’s hard to walk away from a steady paycheck and benefits, especially when you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s also quite exciting to think about starting your own practice where you don’t have to answer to anyone anymore. I think you’re smart to be methodical and thorough before making a decision by weighing the pros and cons and also looking at the numbers too. Best of luck with your decision and let us know what you decide to do!

  73. Nic says

    Unless it’s a crappy and low-paying job, don’t quit. A lot of people would love to be in your shoes.

  74. Jun says

    Nice post. Thinking of quitting my day job too. But I realize the importance of having multiple streams of income from different sources, both online and offline. Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks Jun! Yes, it does make a difference to have multiple income streams to fall back on. We just never know what kind of wrench could be thrown in our path. And having backups to rely on in dry spells can make a huge difference.

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