Hey everyone! I have a very special guest post for you today. Ms. Montana from MontanaMoneyAdventures.com has been on the site before, and I LOVE her story so much. She is laying out the steps she has perfected that allow her to take months or even a year off from working! You have to check this out. ~M$M
My family and I just finished up a grown-up gap year. We took a full year off to travel, renovate our home and rentals, explore the Montana wilderness, test new career options, and honestly have a lot of fun.
I turned 34 last month, and this gap year actually makes the 4th time we have stepped away from the 9-5 to pursue other goals.
In my early 20’s, I took a month off to travel coast to coast with my best friend. My husband took 6 months between jobs so we could buy and renovate two houses. We later took a month long leave of absence to buy and renovate yet another rental property. Then he turned in his resignation so we could take a full year.
People thought we were crazy. Why walk away from a stable, good paying job? Especially beings we have 5 little kids! But I think it’s crazy more people don’t do this. 3 out of those 4 times we grew our net worth more than we ever would have while working.
I wrote a free PDF on the 6 steps to be able to take a year off every decade. The same principals apply if you want a month off, 6 months or a full year.
It all starts here: Be Prepared
It’s the boy scout motto for a good reason! And, it will be your ticket to being able to step away from the 9-5 to pursue your biggest goals and dreams.
1. Know your Focus
If you had the time, how would you spend it? What can’t you fit into a long weekend or week’s vacation? What might not be possible if you put it off for 10 or 20 more years? Start with those.
- Take your side hustle to the next level
- Extended travel
- Physical adventures: sail along Central America, bike across Europe
- Start a new business
- Write a book, manuscript, code an app
- Renovate or flip a fixer upper
- Long term volunteering
What opportunities might pass you by if you wait until your traditional retirement? Then start planning. Lay the ground work. While you prepare your finances, here is how I want you to bide your time: read, study, practice, experiment, get started in the small ways you can start.
It might take two or three years to get the money piece squared away, so use that time wisely to prepare in launching this dream.
2. Get your finances in order
I’ve seen a lot of people step away from the 9-5 to persue big dreams. All of them had this one thing in common, M$M included; they had their money ducks in a row. They had planned and prepared to be in a good spot, so when the right opportunity opened up, they could jump.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but a clear vision of this big dream will help give you the motivation to keep going. Here are 3 of the money steps to start today.
Lower expenses/debt repayment: Large debt payments and big monthly bills are dream killers. Don’t trade your biggest dreams away for small lifestyle upgrades. If you dream is to travel around the world for a year, don’t waste your money now on a nicer car or eating out.
Funnel every red cent into paying off that debt. On the flip side: if your dream is to take a year off to restore classic cars, don’t waste money on a vacation.
Create a second stream of income: A little rental income, passive income, side hustle money,or a 4% investment withdrawal goes a LONG way to you being able to custom create your ideal life. We own two rentals that cover 40% of all our expenses. Low expenses plus a little passive income are jet fuel for your dreams.
Set up your “dream/freedom” fund: Depending on your time frame, it can be a cash account or index fund account. Name it. Label it. Then pour all the extra money you can come up with into it. Use birthday gifts, tax refunds, side hustle money, overtime, and all that cash that used to go to your car payment.
Having a nice little pile of cash will pay the bills while you are off chasing your dreams. We saved up $50k in cash before we signed off on the 9-5 for a full year. It allowed us to enjoy the time away without being stressed about paying the bills or making our side hustle profitable on day 1.
A funny thing happens the more prepared you are with your focus and money; more opportunities show up.
All of a sudden that unexpected downsizing and small severance package looks different. The job you are burned out on becomes easier to walk away from as your side hustle is rapidly growing, bank accounts are full and expenses are low.
One of my dreams was always to be able to travel through Europe. We had saved a big chunk of money, and paid off all our debt. All of a sudden, we were offered a job position in Europe. Guess how long we needed to think that over! It was an easy choice because we were ready.
We were able to live in Europe for four years and travel every month. We spent almost every weekend, holiday and our 210 vacation days working our way through 27 countries.
There are things we can’t fit into a long weekend. There are dreams and plans that will expire if we put them off too long. Life is short. If there are things you are passionate about, things you want to try: make a plan and make it happen.
We finished our 4th career break, but we aren’t going back to the 9-5. Between paying cash for our house, and no debt, our monthly expenses are low.
Our rentals produce good passive income. And during this year off we found other work we are excited about. I started blogging, which lead to freelance writing work, which lead to content marketing work. I started doing more speaking, mentoring and consulting.
All of that was possible because we had our money ducks in row. We knew what we wanted to try and had taken the needed money steps.
Ms. Montana is a writer, speaker and that strange friend who loves to talk about money. She has traveled through 27 countries, adopted 4 kids, had 2 bio kids, lived abroad, bought and renovated 3 homes, all while being married to her best friend for almost 15 years. She enjoys books, hot tea, and growing Brandywine tomatoes. You will find her at Montana Money Adventures where she talks about creating financial freedom, adventure, and generous living.