Over the past six months, I've had a lot of questions asked by readers. Everyone wants to know how I make money. Newer bloggers want to know what works best for social media strategy and monetizing a site. Some readers just want student loan tips or to say hi.
I don't get to all of them – but I promise I try as hard as I can (typing this as I shudder thinking about the 15 pages of emails I haven't opened yet). A reader had a question the other day that was very direct, and made me realize that I usually skim over probably the most important part of my “story”.
“How did you prepare to take the leap of faith?”
Well…that isn't verbatim what they asked, but this is basically what they wanted to know. It's so interesting to me, because quitting my teaching job feels like it happened 10 years ago! In reality, I haven't even crossed the 2 year mark of being self-employed.
Before I get to how I handled the process – I do want to make an important note. You can prepare for a leap of faith or big decision like leaving your job all you want, but it's scary as hell. That's just the reality of the situation.
I never felt comfortable as an employee
To be honest, I was a crap employee at almost every job that I've ever had. It wasn't that I didn't do the work well, but I always questioned everything and thought I had a better or smarter way of doing things. I know it annoyed my bosses.
When you have an entrepreneur mindset, you feel suffocated in a day job. I wanted to have more control over my life, and working for myself just seemed like the best way to make that happen.
That's one of the reasons I love blogging so much. There are countless opportunities to make money IF you put the time in and learn the trade. I have more control over what happens on a day to day basis than I ever thought possible.
The first step was to get rid of my debt!
One of the biggest reasons I paid off my student loans so aggressively ($40,000 in a year and a half) was that I didn't want to be trapped in my teaching job. I was surrounded by so many 40-somethings that were clearly burnt out, but their various debts kept them in their career.
Being debt free was the biggest key to having the confidence to walk away from my teaching career.
If you are thinking about working for yourself someday or switching careers, I HIGHLY suggest that you pay down as much debt as possible. The less money you need to make to survive…the better.
I started researching businesses I could start
If I had to pick the hardest aspect of preparing for a leap of faith – this is it. A lot of would-be entrepreneurs want to do something cool, but they have no idea what business they want to pursue.
My two biggest ideas were a real estate investing company and a pool business. Weird, right? I was *this* close to attempting my first house flip while I was still teaching. However, I realized that I would be stuck at my job because I needed the W-2 income to get traditional financing.
A good friend of mine owns a pool company and let me try it out during the summer before I quit my teaching job. It only took about three weeks of turning wrenches in the Houston summer heat before I realized I wasn't about that life.
I wanted to make money with my mind (and my money). Not with physical labor.
Blogging was just one of the various things I tried out, and I didn't have a clue it would end up being my full-time gig six months later. If you want to be an entrepreneur – try at a lot of things and don't be afraid to fail or pass on things you don't like. You'll figure out your path.
My wife and I saved a year of my salary in cash
I haven't been shy about telling people that my wife and I rented a room from her parents while I was paying off my student loans. After my loans were gone, we stayed in what was a pretty uncomfortable situation and started hoarding as much money as we could.
Once we had around $50,000 in cash, I put in my notice at the end of the year. After multiple awkward conversations with my co-workers and administration, I was finally free and haven't looked back since. I want to say that my teaching certificate expired, but at this point there's not much reason to even find out. 🙂
Don't. Do. What. I. Did.
If there's anything I can stress, it's this: leaps of faith are dangerous. If you want to leave your job – start planning now. Build your side hustle until it matches your income, get rid of your debt, save cash, and THEN jump.
Don't be crazy like me and quit when you aren't making any money. Even with our low cost of living and my wife's teaching salary as a safety net, things could have been rough. I had no idea this would turn into a viable business so quickly. It could have taken years or completely failed!
Just…be smart, OK?