There’s one thing that’s going to take a while to get out of my head.
Me robotically: “Thank you for calling….”
Multiply that by about 60 additional calls back to back all day, Monday to Friday. That’s enough beeping to give someone a complex. Not to mention having to spell out your complicated last name to each angry client who wants a record of who they spoke to.
In all seriousness, I’m extremely happy to announce that I have left my position in the financial services industry and can now be a present face to our blog! I’m looking forward to working full-time on our business and side hustles, while giving us the flexibility and freedom to live the life we want. John’s job is extremely flexible, so this is going to be an exciting experience for us.
Why I Wanted to Leave
There are many reasons why I wanted to quit my coveted position in the financial services industry. The job itself was stressful, demanding, and mentally exhausting! The kind of job where you come home every day and don’t have the energy to do anything else but sit mindlessly on the couch watching tv. When I went into the role, I was excited to work with clients in an effort to impact their financial future. However, I quickly realized that we were not treated with the respect that our college degrees, and Series 7 and 63 licenses deserved – by the clients or the company. We were encouraged to churn and burn. The amount of calls we took was more important than the quality of them. We studied so hard to talk about finance and investing, but weren’t afforded the time to do so.
Can you imagine having your bathroom breaks tracked? We were only allowed to take these breaks at certain times during the day. Our schedule was extremely micromanaged. Managers would check our adherence metrics to see what we were doing at each second of every day. If they found that we were not on a call for one reason or another, we were taken into a room and berated.
I’m sure you can imagine with this level of micromanagement that scheduling any flex time or time off was impossible. Time off around holidays was on a lottery basis, and if you called out on these days, you’d get two strikes. I wasted time every day commuting as well. We live about 25 minutes from this company, but it routinely took me an hour each way.
Additionally, the corporate life just wasn’t for me. As an introverted person, the focus on networking and appearances made me extremely anxious all the time. I was turned down for multiple promotions even though I had more experience than others, just because I wasn’t outgoing. Not to mention, this was thrown in my face during weekly performance reviews. This was our manager’s designated time to tell us to take more calls, to get more involved, and in my case, to speak up and network more. Now, I was networking much more than I felt like I could handle. So, on many occasions, I had to tell my manager that I’ve always been the way I am and I’m not going to change.
Now some may say that I had to know what I was getting into when I accepted the job. That’s actually not the case. The company is highly praised….except when you work in this department. They need people to answer the phones, so they mislead candidates on what the job is actually like. It isn’t until you start that you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.
During my time at this company, I did my best to adhere to their unrealistic expectations and was asked to coach new hires. It’s the most unsettling thing to have to portray a positive attitude about a position, when all that you want to say is….
The anxiety, stress, and depressing situation overtook my life and I had enough. I was sick of dreading each Monday to Friday.
What I Learned From My Employer
Even though I had a terrible experience overall working for my previous employer, there were a few things that I am grateful I could take away from my time there.
I learned how to invest and manage our money from the perspective of a low cost and long-term philosophy. Because of this, we will never need a financial advisor. I learned more about finance and investing in my year and 7 month tenure there than I did throughout both my undergraduate and MBA degrees.
I also learned that happiness and mental health is more important than money. It’s essential to do everything you can to advance your financial goals. However, when it gets to the point that you hate the majority of your week, it’s time to make a drastic change.
This job allowed me to learn what I don’t want my life to be. I want freedom and flexibility, and it made me appreciate the FIRE movement that much more.
What Went into Preparing for the Decision
To say that this was a loaded decision would be an understatement. I worked there for a year and seven months, and John and I were talking about this for a full year of that. It wasn’t something we could just jump into blindly. To make this a possibility, we looked at the following:
- Setting goals for our emergency fund, debt payoff, sinking funds, and retirement accounts.
- Eliminating unnecessary expenses from our budget, and seeing what we could do to lower the necessary ones. We were able to lower our Verizon FIOS bill by $50 per month and our home security system bill by half!
- Analyzing how our benefits would change when switching from mine to John’s. We wanted to make sure we knew what the options were for health insurance and HSAs, life insurance, etc. beforehand.
- Traveling is something that is important to us, so we researched additional ways that we could continue to travel hack with points and miles with little cash involved.
- Something inevitable for every couple who lives together to manage is responsibilities around the house. It was difficult for both of us to have time before, especially with me being gone most of the time, so we set up clear tasks between the two of us now that we both have flexible schedules.
- Finally, we made a strategic plan for our blog, so that I could jump in right away!
How I Could Afford to Make the Jump
I attribute the blessing of being able to make this jump on two things, the first being John’s job. He works in a stable job as a Software Engineer with a great salary and benefits that we are extremely grateful for. Not to mention, the flexibility his company allows is paramount. Read more about John’s journey to increasing his salary here.
The second factor that allowed me to quit my job is the good habits we instilled in our lives early on.
We have built up a solid emergency fund, worked on paying down our debt, began investing early on and lived well below our means while rejecting lifestyle creep. Instead of focusing on material things, we saved as much as we could.
At this point, we have saved enough to be at CoastFI. We could never have done that by 25 years old without the FIRE community, hard work, and dedication to give ourselves the life we want.
What This Means for Our Financial Goals
As stated above, our good financial habits are the only reason we have been able to make this jump. There will always be the feeling of “do I have enough?” or “should I wait a little longer?” At the end of the day, we put our happiness above all else. Even though we made the right decision, it doesn’t mean that it won’t affect our financial goals.
In a perfect world, saving less right now will only be a temporary situation and we will be able to build back up to where we were previously. We are aiming for our side hustle and blog to bring in more money, with the goal of it eventually replacing my old income.
We used to live off of approximately 60% of John’s salary and save the rest (including side hustles). Obviously, with me leaving my job, this savings rate takes a major hit. However, we are still going to save every penny possible. This lifestyle change does not make us forget our FIRE goals.
We looked at how quitting my job would affect our savings with our FIRE Calculator.
What I’m Going to Do With My Time
I plan on keeping myself busy with my newfound freedom. I will be making a daily to do list so that I can prioritize my tasks throughout the week.
- Most importantly, I will be focusing on improving my health – sitting at a desk all day and being too tired at night to exercise and eat well was not a good lifestyle to lead. I will enjoy the decrease in stress and anxiety levels!
- I will be working hard on expanding the blog. We have so many ideas and so much content that we want to implement, and now I have the time to do so. I will be able to attend many informative webinars and study the valuable blogging courses we have purchased.
- I will work on growing our side hustle of business consulting.
- We will continue travel hacking, but now we have more flexibility. It will be interesting to see what additional deals we can grab now that we can leave whatever day of the week we want. We don’t have to worry about getting time off approved or maximizing it over weekends and holidays.
- Finally, our yellow lab, Simba, will be getting much more attention 🙂
No Back-Up Plan
You may wonder what our back-up plan is. We don’t like to think that working on our blog and side hustles won’t work out. We are prepared to do everything in our power to make this a permanent change. For the time being, we are perfectly ok with not knowing if or when I will go back to corporate life.
Sitting here in our home office on a Monday morning, it doesn’t feel real! Yesterday I kept getting those Sunday blues I am so accustomed to, and I had to keep reminding myself that I could push them away.
As I make this transition, you’re going to be seeing a lot more happening at How To FIRE. I’m looking forward to interacting with everyone more on the blog, and attending ChooseFI Philadelphia meet-ups now that I don’t have to deal with the chains of holding a position at a financial firm. You’ll also be seeing John and I at FinCon 2019 in Washington D.C.!
Have you or a loved one ever been in a similar situation? Let us know in the comments
Samantha uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others get control of their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur and blogger. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her dog “Simba” and traveling with her husband, John.