I did it! I took a huge leap of faith and quit my full-time job. My last day was September 14, 2018. I will remember this date for a very long time. When I gave my two-week notice, my boss and co-workers were genuinely surprised, nobody expected me to leave. After all, I've been there for almost 13 years.
I quit my job because I wanted more freedom so I could travel more (and I was constantly stressed). I caught the travel bug a few years ago but lately, wanderlust has hit me hard. I want to visit so many places while I am still relatively young and healthy. I also have family abroad that I'd like to see more often.
Not at FI Yet
My husband and I aren't financially independent (FI) yet, he's still working and will continue in his job for a few more years. When I discovered the FI community my whole way of thinking about life, money, and what's really important changed forever.
Before finding this community I thought I'd have to work till I am at least 65. Yet, the thought of working for 20 more years, in a job that was so stressful, was very depressing. After I discovered FI, I realized that we have a good cushion. By being more purposeful with our spending we can cut our income and still be comfortable.
I am very lucky to have such a supportive husband. He saw that I was stressed all the time and very unhappy with my job. And, as the more frugal person between the two of us, he's completely on board with cutting our expenses.
I didn't quit my job to sit on the couch all day or do other things often associated with traditional retirement. I want to feel productive and I want to keep earning money. Before I made the decision to quit my job, I started reaching out to my contacts about freelancing and other opportunities. I enjoy writing, especially about travel and travel rewards. I've done a few freelance assignments before I left my job and I hope to get more work as I further establish myself.
I do want to turn my obsession with travel into a business. What it's going to look like exactly, remains to be seen. But I know that planning trips and finding ways to optimize travel rewards is my favorite thing in the world. If anyone has suggestions for me, please share them in the comments.
I hope in a couple of months' time I can replace 50% of my take-home pay with my freelance work and other side hustles that might come along. I firmly believe that when you open your mind to the world, different opportunities will present themselves.
So now the interesting part–transitioning from being an employee to being self-employed. The first two weeks of my freedom I had some family visitors that kept me busy. It felt like a vacation and it didn't fully sink in that I didn't have to return to the office.
Now, one month after leaving my job I feel like I am getting into the groove.
Here's what I have learned so far:
I sleep better. It might seem so trivial to some people, but I was a restless sleeper for as long as I can remember. I used to wake up in the middle of the night, then would get up for the day before my alarm. Now, I wake up naturally, no alarm needed. I don't get up much later than when I was working, but I wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. Constant stress is really the biggest disrupting factor in getting a good night's sleep. It's not that my life is completely stress-free now (is it even possible?), but there's so much less of it.
I have to keep work and family life separate. I had been working and writing at my kitchen table for a while now. But a few days ago I moved all my stuff into a spare room and created my new office. I even had a nice desk from my graduate school days, so there were no excuses. Keep work separate from family life–I believe this will make me more productive.
People will ask you how you are enjoying your retirement. I have to keep reiterating that I am not retired. I work for myself. I don't have a boss and an office to go to, but that doesn't mean that I am not putting in the hours. It's a lot harder to answer to yourself than someone else, and I am still trying to develop the self-discipline that every freelancer needs to be successful.
Here's what I am still figuring out:
There are big changes in taxes when you are self-employed. Paying estimated quarterly taxes, self-employment tax etc., this is all new to me. I intend to listen to ChooseFI podcast episode 94R a couple more times–it's a great primer on paying taxes as a self-employed person.
What does my ideal schedule look like? I need to work on my schedule and give my work day more structure. Being home with no one keeping me on a set work schedule can be too freeing. Freedom is great, but no structure at all is a recipe for disaster. Floating in and out of work makes it difficult to be productive.
I have to figure out a way to integrate errands, exercise, and housework into my day. Should I do my errands during the day or in the evening, as if I had a regular office job? But then, shouldn't there be some benefits to my new-found freedom, like going to the grocery store in the morning, when it's least crowded? If you are at FI, a freelancer, or you are working from home, how do you do it? When do you run your errands, work out, and take care of the housework? Share your experience with me.
My next steps. I want to grow my business, bring in more income and continue saving for “traditional” retirement. I still need to fully understand how to best apply my skills. I am sure you are familiar with the expression “you don't know what you don't know” – I am figuring out how to fill in gaps in my knowledge and my next steps for self-improvement.
I thought I would have more of an adjustment period but I really enjoy not going to the office every day. I love having complete control of my time and I hope I can make freelancing work for me and still keep saving for retirement. We have already planned four trips for the first half of 2019. And I don't think I am done yet, I love my new-found freedom! The plan is to work while traveling, so this is also new to me. I'll have to figure out a good balance between work and play.
I hesitate to put a label on my current lifestyle, is it a fully funded lifestyle change? Is it a sabbatical from full-time work? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out where this path leads me!