Updated on 08.28.14

Early Reflections on a Career Change

Trent Hamm

Friday, March 14 was my final day at my old job. I packed up my desk, said my goodbyes, and walked out the door into a brave new world.

As most of you know, I quit that job, not because I disliked it (in fact, I liked it quite a bit), but because I made a very difficult decision. I basically chose to pursue my dream of being a writer, largely because it offered me enough flexibilty to fold around the time I wanted to dedicate to my family, particularly my children. Over the last two years, I’ve felt as though my time was being stretched far too thin and the part that was losing out was my family, so they provided the impetus I needed to make this change. This choice meant walking away from a steady job and a steady salary. That’s scary, particularly when you have two small children at home.

Since then, I’ve had two weeks to reflect on this change, get adjusted to my new life as a more dedicated parent and a writer, settle into writing in my office, and get used to new routines.

Lessons I’ve Learned

Do it

If you’re tossing the idea around in your head of abandoning safety and following your dreams, do it. Start planning right now for that change. The amount of fulfillment and peace that I feel already after making this change was worth every minute of worry and consternation about what I was giving up. Start planning right now for making that leap – you won’t regret it.

Right now, as I sit here writing this, I feel absolutely no regret whatsoever about my choice, and I feel nothing but ecstatic about where the future is headed. I get to spend tons of time with my kids, have more time than I ever had for writing, and feel less stress than I have since I was in college. These factors add up to a net benefit that far exceeds the income that I’m losing.

Plan for it first

Still, it’s hard to deny the loss of income and other benefits due to the job change. The only way that this is survivable is due to some advance planning. I left my job with more than a year’s worth of living expenses in a savings account. Even if all of my writing activities were to dry up immediately (and from what I can tell, they’re just getting warmed up), we’d be fine for at least a year, if not more.

Without that kind of cushion, making this leap would have been incredibly scary and I wouldn’t have been able to do it with the level of security that I feel right now. In effect, biding my time and waiting to do it right made the transition much, much easier.

Family matters

The biggest memory I’ll have of this first little taste of my new life isn’t about writing or about settling into my new office. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the work itself.

The memory I’ll have is of spending the days before Easter with my kids, particularly the Friday before Easter. I spent that morning coloring Easter eggs with my son, and I taught him how to use a small dipper to dip the eggs into the dye and then pull them out. We made a big mess, but he learned something and had a lot of fun. Afterwards, we had a nice lunch together and I put him down for an afternoon nap. Just before I laid him down, he gave me a spontaneous big hug. He has never done that before his nap, ever.

That’s what I’ll remember, and that’s why I made the change. No dollar amount can really replace that.

Adjust time management

A lot of people have wondered what will change about my time management now that my primary professional goals relate to writing and it is wrapped around my everyday life instead of having my everyday life wrap around my job. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far.

At the end of each day, I’ve basically made a pile of tasks for the next one: stuff that has to be done, like a day’s worth of posts and an email session and doing the dishes; stuff that should get done, like working on other writing projects or writing a guest post for another site or getting ahead on posts or developing my food blog or cleaning the kids’ bathroom; and stuff that I’d like to get done, like researching a truly great article idea I’ve had. I go through the piles in a sensible order during the periods I have to devote to work, which have become much more flexible, and I just keep processing them. These “processing sessions” now fill in the gaps in my day when I’m not spending time with my children or doing things like that.

Ideally, I’ll reach a point where the “has to be done” pile is very tiny – I can see it coming in the future, where I have my short-term writing needs already covered and I have more freedom to follow my muse.

I put everything into these piles: notes, mail, magazines, books with bookmarks in them, etc. Whatever I need to accomplish that task goes into these piles. I also keep them electronically, too, in folders on my desktop – a mix of saved links, text files, and other stuff.

Some of you might recognize this as being quite similar to Getting Things Done, but with the freedom of choice in my current life, I can easily mix things that would be considered work with things that could be considered everyday life – and it all works out quite well in the end.

My income and spending have both changed in a number of interesting ways.

My New Income and Spending Habits

1. My income is now much less regular

I still receive income rather regularly, but the amount varies quite a bit. This is the nature of freelance and independent work, but it’s something I’ve never had to fully rely on before. It means being very careful with my actual spending – no splurging, and if I am thinking of a large purchase, setting the money aside a bit at a time and buying that item whole. In other words, I’m going to have to be much more careful with what I spend.

2. I’m now paying for my own life insurance and figuring out my own retirement plan

Previously, both of these were handled through my job; now, I’m handling both of these on my own. I’ve already filed the paperwork for my life insurance plan, but the retirement savings is trickier as I’m evaluating several plans. I’m looking to set up an SEP-IRA, likely through Vanguard, but I’m mostly making sure I’m not stumbling in any legal or financial potholes along the way. I’ve also had to hire an accountant to help me figure out my exact plans when it comes to taxes – what do I need to do to get things in good shape?

3. My spending is now much more regular

There’s no more going out to eat on a completely irregular basis with coworkers. There’s a steep reduction in gas expenditures. There’s no trips where I have to pay for expenses out of pocket and fight for reimbursements. There’s no daily temptation to stop into a bookstore for a bit of a splurge. Instead, there’s lunch at home and afternoon at the park – these irregular expenses have all vanished. It certainly makes planning quite a bit easier.

5. I feel like the sky is now the limit when it comes to earnings potential

The only cap on earnings potential now is me and my own choices. Do I choose to work hard, write compelling stuff, and pursue challenging and rewarding projects? It’s really up to me and how I proportion my time to write … but the options feel very good.


this is the best move I’ve ever made. If you’re toying around with a dream in your head, get started immediately. Don’t wait another day – give it your all to get that dream started. When you finally get ready to make that leap, the leap is scary as can be … but you’ll never regret it.

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  1. Becky@FamilyandFinances says:

    Very inspiring! I’m so glad it’s working out for you and I’m sure you’ll be very successful :)

  2. No Debt Plan says:

    I saw this article over at Awake the Wheel yesterday, as I went through my RSS Reader: http://jonathanfields.com/blog/is-your-high-powered-job-setting-your-kids-up-to-fail/

    It talks about the impact of parents being, or not being, around their kids. I think it really hits home on your point. Kids with involved parents, statistically at least, do a lot better than those who aren’t.

    Best of luck!

  3. Michael says:

    I like this post. Questions: how well do you document items in your pile, and how do you handle something you’d rather not do? There is always that one task that makes one’s brain try to ruin the whole process before it will submit to doing it.

  4. Susannah says:

    Can you succinctly (maybe you already have) explain HOW you are making money through blogging? I know it’s ads, but do people just have to click on the ads, or do they have to follow through with purchases? How many blogs do you have going? Thanks!

  5. Saving Freak says:

    Great bit of inspiration. I like the balance of planning for the move to self employment with making the plunge. Very savvy and thought out as opposed to the way many self employed people just leap at a chance and are not aware of the risks and dangers that can happen.

  6. KellyB says:

    Great post Trent. Glad to hear it is working out well for you. As you pointed out, planning ahead is the key to having the comfort zone to be able to follow your dream. But the “payday” comes in a different way when you get to spend such quality AND quantity time with your kids! Good for you!

    One point to make – I just recently “subscribed” after coming here twice a day over the last 6 months. I wasn’t sure (and still am not actually) HOW you make money from this site and the readers, maybe you could explain it to us and more of us would be able to help support your dream!

  7. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Susannah and Michael both have good questions that deserve longer answers than a comment, so I’ll hit them both in my next Reader Mailbag.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Amazing. Inspiring post Trent.

  9. tabuxander says:

    Wow!!great post. Someday I wanna be like you too. Working from home; no traffic, no boss. Although I might lose many benefits such as medical benefits, company insurance, and bonuses, it can be overcome by using the new money management that you suggest.

    Thanks anyway.

  10. Krisha says:

    Add this to the Reader Mailbag list, or point me to previous posts – how did you market yourself? I am going to do as you suggested and start saving for a career change, but I want to start marketing myself NOW to prepare.

    Thanks for this post – so helpful.

  11. Susan says:

    The impromptu hug from your son says it all for me, that and the fact that you planned really well. Still, it’s a gutsy call and I applaud your desire to be true to your soul and your family. Congratulations!

  12. aidelmaidel says:

    Just a quick suggestion regarding life insurance. You should check in with your old job to see if the life insurance you had (I’m assuming it was group life insurance) is CONVERTABLE. You can sometimes convert that policy into an individual policy at rates lower than what you would pay if you went out and bought it yourself. This is especially the case if you have a medical condition or family history that would cause your insurance rates to go sky high. When I left my old job, I converted my group term life policy into a whole life policy at rates that were far, far cheaper than if I went out and bought the policy myself (I have both a medical history and family history that would have made it very expensive).

    But HURRY! The time period for converting a policy is usually 30 or 60 days from the date of separation.

  13. Jim says:

    I think it’s great to do something you love to do and not need to go somewhere else to do it. Someday it would be nice to run my side business full time, for now the day job is the primary income. I like how you laid out your planning on how you went about making this move. While I find your blog is great and inspiring, do you plan to try to get a book published? Thanks.

  14. FIRE Finance says:

    Beautiful! Keep up the excellent work. Your son’s spontaneous hug says it all. Kids never lie :).
    FIRE Finance

  15. Muck at F-F says:

    Good luck! Your last point is the one that always gives me hope. When you don’t wake up in the morning knowing exactly what your income will be, why can’t it be something better than yesterday?

  16. Lisa says:

    The positive tone of this post makes me feel positive about future possibilities, as well. I’m glad this new chapter in your life has started off so well. You’re still in the “honeymoon period.” Please post an update six months from now, a year from now, 18 months from now, to share your insights on down the road when the new has worn off. Good luck, Trent.

  17. Beth says:

    Congratulations Trent! There is nothing like the freedom doing it on your own. One question, what are you doing about health insurance? I was a contractor for 10 years and loved it, however once I hit 40 carrying an individual medical plan went through the roof. Now I’m an employee and get a very good health benefit but if I could get a decent plan anywhere I’d chuck the corp gig and go back to contracting in a minute.

  18. Beth says:

    Congratulations Trent! There is nothing like the freedom doing it on your own. One question, what are you doing about health insurance? I was a contractor for 10 years and loved it, however once I hit 40 carrying an individual medical plan went through the roof. Now I’m an employee and get a very good health benefit but if I could get a decent plan anywhere I’d chuck the corp gig and go back to contracting in a minute. Also, I’m single so I don’t have a spouse’s plan I can get on. Are you on your wife’s plan?

  19. Pat says:

    Man, I think I quit. Yeah, I think I am done. I guess my main problem with this blog is that it seems like its circular. It’s basically a guy writing a blog about writing a blog. A guy who quits his job so that he can write a blog about writing a blog and how to make money off of writing a blog about writing a blog. And its not like there is a lot of meat to take from it. Compare to the typical model of a financial adviser (such as Dave Ramsey or Jim Cramer). The person works in the financial service industry with a large number of people, analyzes a large number of varied financial situation and makes their recommendation to get the person/couple out of financial trouble. Here, all of the experience is with one person’s hangups/limitations/issues. Its frustrating as a daily reader because of the lack of quality information (how many times can I hear spend less than you earn or invest in an index fund). Bottom line, the site is lacking when compared with other personal finance sites, particularly by individuals who have more real world experience.

  20. SJean says:

    The paragraph about how your spending has dropped seems to be a further defense of critisms you recieved in an earlier post…. But whatever, I’m glad the change has been working out for you.
    I think it would be intersting to talk about paying for your own health insurance (does the wife’s work not cover?) and how you navigated that. It seems tricky to me, and my parents did a bit of contract work and were paying a lot out of pocket for health care. So much so that my dad switched to union jobs instead.

  21. I did a little research (not extensive) and found that Fidelity has good SEP-IRA programs. They also seem to have self-employed 401Ks. I think they have no administration fees and their fund options are generally pretty good.

    I will look into Vanguard as well, I love them as a company. However, give Fidelity it a look – you might find other good options out there.

  22. Rosie says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I am actually getting ready to move and quit my cubicle job to do some soul searching and pursue my dreams. I get so many frowns and looks of concern when I tell my friends and family about my decision. It’s nice to have some encouragement. It 100% feels like the right thing to do, so it probably is!

  23. Drew says:

    Trent, I’ve been reading the site for over a year now, but I’ve never commented before (that I can recall). I just wanted to say that your story is very inspiring, and has encouraged me to begin planning for a self-employed career move. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  24. junkcafe says:

    First, congrats, Trent, on the career change. Next, my defense of TSD…

    Regarding Pat’s statement that he prefers websites by “individuals who have more real world experience,” you can’t get more real than what Trent is writing about. If you want a personal finance guru with credentials, then the libraries are filled with them. I read my share (as Trent has): Suze Orman and David Bach books seem to fit into the more lifestyle approach to personal finance. Yet, I’m sure the core of of Trent’s readers aren’t necessarily looking for nuts and bolts finance from TSD. We’re an intelligent bunch who gather information from various sources (how else would we have found TSD?) and TSD is one of them.

    Kudos to Trent for sharing his life experiences with the world. We have plenty to learn from one another. Keep up the great work!

  25. largemarge says:

    I have to agree with Pat @ 10:50. You want to make writing your full time career. You don’t know exactly what your income will be. It’s scary. You don’t want to think about what might have been when you get old. You want to make writing your full time career…; repeat everything ad nauseum, and that about sums up what this blog is about. We get it, Trent, you don’t have to keep telling us.

    That’s not to say that there has never been anything useful on this site, but as of late it’s become more and more Trent-centric, far too self absorbed for my taste, and to put it plainly, a waste of time. Good luck to you on your future endeavours.

  26. Lars Hoel says:

    I don’t think anyone’s mentioned the tax hit freelancers take in terms of double FICA … having to pay the Social Security tax your employer normally kicks in as well as your own. This can be a rude awakening for those who’ve never been self-employed (as can the onerous business of paying quarterly taxes.) When I was freelance someone once advised me to set aside one-third of every payment I received and save it for taxes. Good advice.

  27. Shalom says:

    I like your writing style and I believe you will do very well for yourself with your career change. You obviously have a popular blog!

    I made a career change a few years ago too, but it involved taking a low-paying part time job so I could focus on my artwork, rather than simply stopping working outside my home. Of course, that is the ultimate goal, but it has definitely been challenging. I look forward to returning to your blog for new inspiration.

  28. Anthoney Grigsby says:


    You have definitely made a bold and courageous step and I salute to you for the change you have made in your life and always wish you the best of luck.

    Myself, I hope to one day achieve that mark, but I don’t expect for it to happen quick. As you said “Plan for it first”, I plan to make that step within the next five years. Your story just added more inspiration to my goals.

    Good luck and god bless.
    Anthoney Grigsby

  29. Pat says:

    I’m not sure if my point was well taken, so let me clarify. Let’s say that you are going to have open heart surgery. Would you want a doctor who has been thoroughly trained, licensed and treated thousands of patients? Or would you prefer a fourth year medical student, who has read a lot about open heart surgery, heard about quite a few cases and maybe even observed someone doing the procedure on a few occasions? Most would prefer the former. I’m not saying that personal finance advice is anywhere near as complex as a medical procedure. My point is that I am not sure about the validity or effectiveness of people starting up a personal finance blog just because they got out of debt. Where is the experience? Where is the credibility? It would seem that Trent’s story does have some value as encouragement. But as far as the blog continually providing a large amount of useful information each day, it doesn’t work. You have a large glut of personal finance blogs primarily authored by people with no more experience than poor personal choices with money in the past and a library full of personal finance books. At some point, after the basics of savings are written about ad nauseum, what is left for the reader to gain from reading the blog? To hear about how, you too can go from “broke to a personal finance blogger” too? I guess I don’t get it. As I said, the writing becomes circular because, as Trent’s experiences diminish as he stays at home to write, I would wager that the quality of the information on the blog will diminish as well. Much of the information is just a re-hash of what Trent read in a book. It just wears thin, man.

  30. Katie says:

    Congratulations on you success thus far. I’m so happy to hear that things are going well for you as planned. You are truly inspiring and I wish I can do like you in the future. Keep it up!!!

  31. rubialala says:

    So inspiring. The only thing stopping me is the money and I wondered how people who have full time jobs make that jump and now I know (at least I know how one person did it). I hope to have that savings one day.

  32. I think Pat can just stop reading the blog and sleep better at night. The content will change, but the writer’s style and presentation is why he has 30,000 feeds, and 15,000 visits a day.

    Trent, I for one wish you luck. You can be the guinea pig, or beta test for the rest of us interested in doing the same thing.

  33. Oh, Ramsey and Cramer are not FAs. Cramer has a JD and said Bear Stearns was fine 2 weeks ago. He’s already worth $500 million and makes money as a personality. He got loaded by starting a company, not as a broker or FA.

    Ramsey says the same thing over and over and over again. Its what WORKS.

  34. MO says:

    one question though-
    from your previous posts on your financial situation, I’m surprised that you could survive for one year without one dollar coming in.
    are you relying on debt?
    I know that your wife works and you do have a little in savings.
    just curious
    thanks again for all you do

  35. An insightful and inspiring read. Congratulations on your new “career”!

  36. foo says:

    I know exactly what Pat is saying. Personal finance, conceptually, is not that hard. I suspect everything you need to know can be written down on 1 sheet of paper (or less).

    I’m not sure why Trent keeps doing book reviews. How many books do you need to read to get 95% of the basics (re finance)? None actually, all the info you need is on the net.

    The only reason (for me) to read is to see what crazy situations people have put themselves in (or were put in through no fault of their own), and how they got out. But that’s user provided content…maybe THAT’s Trents “genius”. ;)

  37. Tori says:

    @Pat – What separates the heart surgeon and the fourth year medical student is many years of experience. The surgeon performing thousands of surgeries was once an observer too.

    Trent may not be a certified financial planner, but he has experience getting out of debt despite being a regular guy. Therein lies the appeal of The Simple Dollar. Readers don’t want to be preached to about their failings; instead, they want to know that someone else has worn their shoes.

    I’d rather go to people like me for financial advice than someone like Cramer. I can tell you with certainty that Trent has never used the word “BOOYAH!” in my presence.

  38. LC says:

    To use your medical analogy… Say you have cancer, and you go to an oncologist and they give you recommendations and oversee your treatment. There is no replacement for that, just as this blog is not a replacement for solid financial information. But who would you rather sit down with for coffee and talk to when you are making your decision at home? A doctor who knows all the “facts” or a friend who has been where you are, has undergone the treatments you’re considering and beat cancer him/herself? Who do you call in the middle of the night when you are sick from the treatment and wondering whether it is even worth it?

    That’s where this blog comes in. Trent and others are regular people who point to professional advice where it is appropriate, but more importantly, they prove first of all that it can be done, and instead of just saying “live below your means,” they actually tell you how to do that without sacrificing quality of life. I think those blogs have an important role. If you don’t feel that way, go ahead and read Dave Ramsey.

  39. Jonathan says:


    I happen to agree with him. I’m not saying I’m not necessarily going to stop reading Trent’s blog, but I have seen it spiral into a circular pattern as of late. I don’t feel like I’ve read anything new in weeks (or maybe even months). All the information has become repetitive. I’ve started to see this pattern alot in many of the blogs I read. Either they link to other articles with a quick blurb, or they just rehash all the same information in a different way with different examples. I used to spend a good deal of time reading feeds, now I can blast through 50 articles in about 5 minutes because I can infer from the title that the article is just recycled garbage.

  40. Pat says:

    @LC Your point is well taken. If encouragement and anecdotes is what you are after, these blogs are probably for you.

    @Weakonomist. Its interesting that a commenter with a vested interest in personal finance blogs being successful (read: he/she has a blog to pimp so that he/she too can stay at home and write about how they were poor once and pimp other PF blogs) is the first person to defend this blog.

    I guess my main point is this for Trent: Watch out with constantly repaving the same ground. For readers of TSD, and I count myself as one, hit up some more complex personal finance issues. Your latest entry is about beans? As much as I love beans, how about a discussion about options, derivatives, futures something. Come on man! Don’t slip!

  41. chris says:

    The truth is, reading personal finance blogs all day long is never going to make you financially independent. You actually have to go out there and do something.

    Cutting expenses: you’ll reach a point where you cannot cut any corner anymore. Passive investments: is likely to make you financially independent in, say, 30 years.

    The only sure fire way to generate more money is to start your own business which will generate money even when you are sleeping or to work in multiple jobs and thus generating more than one income. Both are active investments.

  42. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “I guess my main point is this for Trent: Watch out with constantly repaving the same ground. For readers of TSD, and I count myself as one, hit up some more complex personal finance issues. Your latest entry is about beans? As much as I love beans, how about a discussion about options, derivatives, futures something. Come on man! Don’t slip!”

    By talking about derivatives, options, and futures, you’re talking about one very tiny piece of personal finance. It’s more narrow even than just individual stock picking, which itself is too narrow to really merit a large number of posts, especially when the audience doesn’t clamor for it.

    I don’t mind talking about such topics at all, but thus far, you’re pretty much the first person in all of the thousands of idea suggestions and story requests I’ve seen from readers that have any interest in those topics.

  43. Rebecca says:

    I read this blog specifically for Trent’s take on the financial advice he finds out there. A lot of us value – a lot! – having someone else do the research and then just summarize it for us. In addition to that, as has been commented on previously, hearing about the real life experience of someone putting all of this information to use is even more interesting than just hearing the advice itself.

    Most of the successful blogs are those whose readership takes a personal interest in the blogger. I know that I always enjoy hearing about what’s going on in Trent’s life – when they bought the house, had the second baby, moved – and how those events relate to frugal ways of living.

    In short, the book reviews and the personal anecdotes, along with all the frugal tips and good financial recommendations, are what makes this blog stand out for me and keeps me coming back.

    Also, I know for a fact that there are millions of people who dream of working from home and try for years to make it happen. I’m willing to bet that those people are avid readers of this blog, looking how to make it happen and intensely curious about how it works when you actually do make it happen

    Keep it up, Trent, you’re doing great!

  44. Andy says:

    Yay Trent! Hip Hip Hooray!! We are all very proud of you and we all love to hear about your progress. Nobody likes to read about *HOW* to do something as much as they like to read about someone’s personal journey in doing that something. You have so much to be proud of and we are all intrigued when you write personal posts like the one above.! Woo!

    P.S. Since your blog is called “The Simple Dollar” I would prefer you to stray from ideas like dividends and options and blah, blah, blah. I think you should keep with the “simple” ideas on saving money and personal finance. I think the bean post is awesome!!!

  45. SJean says:

    @Pat – many people read/write pf blogs not for strict advice, but for a sense of community in being smart with money in our consumerist society. Of course, most pf bloggers do not try to make this a full time job type thing.

    @Jonathan – I think that trend isn’t just the bloggers fault, but once you have the basics down… you are right, you don’t need to read 50 pf articles a day. I read less blogs that offer “advice” and more that offer stories. If I want knowledge, I usually google it, or serach archives of reputable blots with more meaty information.

    And Trent… I do agree with the comment about the blog being Trent-centric lately. I also applaud your decision, but don’t blow off those comments. I remember in one post you were talking about one reason your blog and another blog were popluar and you said something along the lines of “we don’t write about how our cat got sick” because people don’t care. While you haven’t taken it that far, it has trended slightly in that direction, so just be careful.

    [Sorry if it is creepy that i remember that sentence. I have a really good memory for random things I read/hear]

  46. Paul says:

    Let’s not forget people, it’s called the ‘simple’ dollar. I for one do not want to hear about futures, index funds and etc. I like ‘simple’ ideas that save me money, and I thank you for that Trent.

  47. Rick says:

    Regarding the complaint this blog is very “Trent-centric”, that is, after all, the original purpose of a blog, or web “log”. In some ways, after reading this blog, I not only feel more knowledgable about personal finance, I feel I know Trent more deeply. If I were to have dinner with him, there would be innumerable topics to discuss. In almost seems we’re good friends. And that’s what sets this blog apart from many of the others, and particularly from various books, is the very personal nature of the content. Just look at all the congratulatory comments in posts such as this one. You can be sure it’s not just people congratulating some random stranger on the Internet. It’s because these regular readers can relate to Trent as a friend.

    If you think the blog is repetitive, go elsewhere. There are plenty of blogs out there that go into technical analysis, market analysis, discussions of options and advanced trading techniques. That’s just not the focus of *this blog*. And frankly, I doubt Trent would ever invest in options and derivatives. It’s just not his style. He’s said time and time again how he believes investing in broad index funds is the best way to go, for its simplicity, as well as its return. If you think otherwise, find a blog that meets your tastes.

    I personally welcome the discussion about beans. I’m always looking for new ways to save money, and if there’s a way to eat a meal for a quarter, I say bring it on. I personally can’t wait for the launch of the cooking/food blog.

  48. Travis says:

    I don’t really read this blog for financial advice. I come here for inspiration. I am a full-time employee for an organization, and a successful freelance writer on the side. Like Trent, I want to break away and work for myself, and spend time with my family. I think the people who truly love this blog relate to Trent. I also find the book reviews incredibly worthwhile, mostly from the aspect of simplifying one’s life. Thanks, Trent!

  49. guinness416 says:

    Your views are valid, Pat, but personally I agree with Rick and Travis …. I visit this site exactly for one guy’s personal view of things, and the excellent discussion that jumps off from the posts (in which many people disagree with Trent’s posts, provide further examples, or whatever). I’m not sure that there are too many regular commenters here looking for advice, per se, because a lot of ’em seem to have their financial houses and/or careers well in order (as do I). I think your comments are definitely applicable to some lower-traffic moneyblogs, but the one-ordinary-joe’s story, good writing, discussion and community here are worth coming back to.

    Sounds like you’re happy, Trent, congrats!

  50. Caroline says:

    I agree with Rick.

    I would also like to add that this is Trent’s blog and he will write what he wants!! It is not like we are paying him for advice. I love to read his work, I love his advice and I love the fact that he quit his job to work at home full time.

    I don’t want to read about derivatives. I am interested in how a real life guy organized his life to be able to quit his job and live according to his own values.

    Good for you Trent! You are doing what so many people would love to do. What an inspiration.

    To those that don’t like his blog, go elsewhere.

  51. Brian says:

    @ Pat
    I sort of see your point, but your comment that he has no experience and no validity is completely unfounded. I’d rather hear advice from a guy who’s turned his life around.

  52. Let the record be set straight I don’t have a site to pimp. Read my blog if you want, don’t read it if you want. If/when I go on my own, its not to write. I’m not a writer nor do I dream of writing. Blogging is a hobby. I’m a member of NAPFA and hope to one day serve clients as a Fee-only financial planner.

  53. Frugal Dad says:

    I was curious where we could find your blog. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the world of finance.

    Trent, you have certainly built a wonderful product here in The Simple Dollar. The only thing I do agree with Pat on is that your content will most certainly change over the next few months and years – and change for the better. For the last couple years we have known you as “Trent, the aspiring writer stuck in corporate America to pay for past money sins and support his family.” That represents many of us out here in the real world.

    Now you have broken free, and we hope to learn even more about the new challenges you face, and the precious moments shared with your kids (such as the impromptu hug you wrote about today). I would give anything to be with my kids more, and am working to make that happen, just as you have. Thanks for your what you do.

  54. Ann M. says:

    I’m also wondering what Trent is doing for health insurance. Both myself and my sister have had to purchase individual plans and they are horrible for just one person, never mind a family.

  55. Antishay says:

    Hi Trent –
    Oooh, this is a great post – thank you so much for writing it. I’m 22 and work from home running many of my own small businesses and your advice is truly golden – I hope some of your talented readers follow it and can live in happiness and fulfillment as we do.

    Anyone reading the comments – yes! Listen to Trent! If you have a skill that you can capitalize on (or even better, many skills), get started on the side making money using that skill in any way you can think of! And once you are going strong, save up many months of living expenses and then make the leap. It will probably be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life.

    Thanks, Trent :D

  56. Beth says:

    I look forward to reading your blog, and tell everybody I ever talk to about money about your “Simple Dollar” blog.
    Just a little fyi and for anyone that has ever been told that cash value life insurance is such a great product, please check it out VERY close! The agents make a lot more money off of it because the insurance company keeps “YOUR” cash in the whole life cash value if you die. Your family on gets the face value!
    BUY TERM and invest the difference is the smart way to go.
    Also, freedom is owning a business, not being an employee. I applaud you Trent for your leap and plan to be your own boss.

  57. Michael says:

    Hi Trent,

    I’m a french guy following the same path you did. I think being a “do-er” is difficult because it requires to take action and to get out of the comfort zone.

    As i’m planning more precisly my way out, i feel more and more excited by the new things comming !

    Thanks for the post, it’s inspiring.

    Hello from Paris !

  58. tightwadfan says:

    Maybe I misunderstood Trent’s purpose with this blog, but as I understood it, Trent is not a professional financial advisor and the purpose of this blog is not to give investment advice.

    I prefer blogs like this to Jim Cramer, Dave Ramsey, and Suze Orman. Out of the 3, I think Dave Ramsey was the only one who was ever broke. And he did not get out of debt by saving money at a regular job, he overcame bankruptcy when he got his radio show and became a personality. Same with Cramer and Orman, they make their money off being tv personalities and selling merchandise.

    I read Trent and other personal finance blogs because they are regular people like me and it helps me to read about their journeys to financial success. What happens when ordinary people try to follow the advice in personal finance books? What works and what doesn’t? Tips for parents? Those of us trying to live within our means can all learn from each other.

    If you are looking for advice on derivatives I think you are in the wrong place.

    Anyway Trent, congratulations on the new career path! I quit my job a year ago and it has been the fastest, most stress-free year of my life. Before I quit I was a little burned out and questioning if I had chosen the right career. By freelancing I found that I do love the work I do, I just didn’t like working in an office. I too had saved up a large emergency fund. It is worth all the delayed gratification I went through to get to this point. Good luck!

  59. Stenya says:

    Trent, I admire your enthusiasm, but it’s only been a month since you left your job, and it’s really, really premature to be saying “This is the best move I ever made” and “…you’ll never regret it.” I made a similar leap twelve years ago – quit my corporate job to start my own business – and I told EVERYONE how it was so great to be out from under the thumb of The Man, and all the freedom, and all the ya ya ya ya. Yes, it felt terrific to strike out on my own, and I felt I was “making a difference” with the new business, but it’s really hard to keep that momentum over the years, and keep things fresh.
    I wish you well in your new chosen career, Trent, and I hope that if “living the dream” doesn’t turn out to be as great and financially rewarding as you planned, you won’t be too proud to leap back into a “real” job.

  60. Ro says:

    It does seem a bit early to be making those proclaimations. I’m glad you’re so pleased with your decision and how it’s going but you’re still in the honeymoom phase.

    I can also see valid points in Pat’s post. I’m definitely not going to stop reading TSD but I’m definitely not going to be stopping by every day anymore, either.

    I do wish you the very best of luck!

  61. Paulette Stalling says:

    I am new to this site and after reading the previous comments of those displeased with what they read, the repetitiveness, lack of complex advice, etc, why not just stop reading the blog. It’s a free country and there are thousands of other sites to meet your needs. I love that a regular guy with no 6 months of emergency funds, a 401 worth millions, etc, has a place to come to share in the experiences and ideas of others who travel the same path. If you want more indebt info, go find it somewhere else. Let Trent do what Trent apparently does well–writes in a style that others can hear. There are many voices out there. Trent is just one. If you don’t like his, go find yours elsewhere and stop whining and complaining.Live and let live.

  62. John says:

    What about health insurance? On your own that is very expensive.

    john b.

  63. junkcafe says:

    Trent clearly states the mission of TSD in the About page:

    “What is The Simple Dollar?
    The Simple Dollar is an exploration of personal finance from the perspective of a late-twentysomething who just realized that he needs to get a grip on his money. I used to be a spending maniac. I’m doing better. Sometimes.”

    With that said, I respect Pat’s forthright critique of this blog’s content which started this healthy discussion. Over the years, I’ve been a consumer of personal finance advice — both free and paid — to help guide my decisions. In the pre-blog era, we had a choices of the following: (1) print media (books, mags, newspaper), (2) tv/radio, (3) your friendly neighborhood fee-for-service CPA, CFP, attorney, and (4) friends/family. Today, we add PF blogs to the mix. The quality of advice ranges from the lousy to life-changing. As for me, TSD is a unique source of information: an extraordinarily personal and honest account of an individual’s experience with PF issues. Like Trent, TSD readers (29000+) are exploring and it’s good to share it with a community. I think we enjoy reading that the road less traveled is just that.

    Trent – I’m sure you are open to critiques of your blog. However, the last thing you need is to be like everyone else. The charm of TSD is that it is not generic. Like I stated in my earlier posting, this site does not offer nuts and bolts advice. So, don’t run out and get certified :)

  64. Red says:

    Congrats on making the leap, I’ll be interested to read the follow up to this post on March 14th, 2009, when you’ve been w/out consistent income for a year.

  65. Rob Madrid says:

    I’ve read every single post Trent has written (got in about the halfway point)and inspite some 4000 posts so far and two postings a day I haven’t really got bored of what he’s had to say. Now days I tend to skim the artcle and if it’s of interest I read it if not I pass it over, but I still read 80% of his posts. Personally what makes a blog great/interesting are the comments, even negative ones. Sometimes I skim the post and read just the comments. I do that alot at GRS skip the post and read the comments.

    There are other blogs I follow that have very few readers yet I enjoy them just as much for different reasons, mostly I’m following there life’s story.

    If your serious about investing there are some top notch blogs out there, skip the investing books and stick with blogs.

  66. Diane says:

    I’ve seen a couple of mentions of my primary question here – how are you dealing with Health Insurance? I assume you have a wife with a job to provide health insurance for you and the kids – that’s something you definitely should have mentioned as part of the equation.

    Not many people can afford to quit a primary job and go out without health insurance unless there’s another member of the family working to provide it!

  67. Jeff R. says:

    Yes – a very good and interesting post. For me, the timing of this post is perfect. I just gave my two weeks notice at my stable job with a very good salary. I have not felt any passion there, and there was too much stress that didn’t fit to where I want my life to be headed.

    I don’t have another job lined up, and I have a wife and two small children to provide for.

    Nevertheless, I feel that this is the right thing to do in my heart. I plan to take 2-3 months to soul search as to what my life’s calling really is.

  68. Lisa says:

    It’s great that you are home coloring easter eggs with your son, but what about your wife? She’s hard at work while you do this. Don’t think she would like the opprotunity to be a home with her kids coloring easter eggs instead of at work?

  69. flybabymom says:

    Congrats on the new “job,” Trent! All the best for the future.

  70. Still wondering says:

    As far as I can tell you still haven’t mentioned how your wife feels about your decision to be on your own.
    I would like to know maybe what to expect if I were to go out on my own, what would my other half feel, happy, stressed (being the only one with a job), wondering what happened to his/her dreams, I don’t want this to sound like a negative post but there is a lot more to consider then a hug from your son.
    Don’t feel you have to post this comment( I would just get my butt jumped anyway), just write a little article about your home life and how it’s changed.

  71. Jon says:

    @Paulette Stalling

    I think that there will be some people who stop reading this blog. My take is that I was hoping this blog would not turn out to be like all the others I have found. They start out strong enough but then end up just going around in circles without really saying anything new. I’ve been an avid reader since almost the beginning of TSF, but without new content its harder and harder to get up the energy to come back. There is a difference between complaining and offering a valid critique of the content.

  72. DNA says:

    I was also kind of shocked to read the enthusiastic recommendation for readers to strike out on their own if inclined when you’re only 2 weeks into the experience. Your “natural confidence” is wearing really thin.

  73. ML says:

    Pat and largemarge,

    You miss the whole point of a blog. A blog is from one’s own perspective. It’s almost like an online diary most often related to a specific topic (in this case, personal finance). Travis, I agree with you. I do not come here for personal finance advice. The fact that most of us come here, is proof that we are already financially responsible or somewhere on the path to restructuring our financial house. I keep coming back because Trent truly inspires and motivates. In so many aspects of my life, I have been afraid to take a chance or make a change, especially on the professional front. I feel that coming here has kind of been the kick in the butt that I need to once again become an active participant in my own life. Trent, has shown how with careful planning and research, we do not need to be a slave to our 9 to 5 job. We can dream. However, The Simple Dollar, is about translating our realistic dreams, hopes, wishes and desires into pure action. Trent, keep up the good work!

  74. LLC says:

    i’m brand new to this blog, so you may have explained this elsewhere. i would really like to hear more about what you are doing for health insurance. i also agree with other commenters that hearing about your wife’s situation would be helpful. thanks.

  75. Lisa says:

    Basically, you are now a houshusband, or a “stay at home” dad. You have never said anything about medical insurance. I assume you have coverage through your wife’S outside employment. So basically, your wife’s labor in the world of work is enabeling you to stay at home and color easter eggs. Don’t we all get tired of working at some point? Wouldn’t we all love to chuck it all to “fullfill my lifelong dream”. Could you do this if your wife were a housewife? NO. You are able to do this because she goes out to work everyday, while you decide wheather or not to join a “stay at home dads” club. Give me a break! Why not let your wife stay home, take care of the house and kids, and you “fullfill” your dream on the week-ends and in the evenings? Your job is to support your kids. Why are you making your wife do everything? How much have you earned from your writing this year? This blog is all about you, you, you. Your wife deserves kudos for putting up with you!

  76. Ro says:

    We have no idea whether or not Trent’s wife has any desire to be at home with her children, so the last few posts seem a bit harsh. It’s possible that she wouldn’t stay homw with her kids even if she could. She is obviously in agreement enough with him for him to do this. Trent has often spoken of the fact that he believes his children need to be in daycare at least part of everyday anyway. Whether we agree with this or nor (and I don’t, not at all), we can’t assume that if offered the choice, his wife would chose to stay at home with her babies full time.

  77. Tracy says:

    My hubby and I are both self employed. Have been for years. We buy our medical & life insurance. Call an independent agent and shop around. Because more people are self employed, there are many more plans available now than ever before. We pay $300/ month for medical for 3 people. That’s less than some people pay for the coverage they get from their employer. Don’t stay in a job you hate just to save about $300/ month. And, yes, you have to pay both sides of FICA but you get to deduct your business expenses which helps.

  78. Questions unanswered says:

    You purchased a new home, but in another post one where you were talking about having a third child you said you could save 29,000 which is a little less than your wife makes if she were to stay at home, in Iowa that may be fine but you also mention living in an expensive part of Iowa (is that even possible). How are you putting $500 a month in your investments? Because now is the time to get started, compounding interest, I think that a quote from some post a while back. You also mention a $4000 computer, now you are showing your inexperience and immaturity in life and apparently have not learned from your meltdown, do with as little as possible to be comfortable, then you talk about eating beans. Spend less then you make, maybe you are doing great with your blog, but I doubt if it’s that great. I also think your task list should be rethought, must do, dishes, like to get done, research? Are you a writer trying to succeed or a guy who read a book and wanted a reason to spend more time at home with his kids? Please don’t get me wrong, I loved your blog in the beginning, read it every day wishing I knew then what you appeared to know now, up until this life changing book. Now I wonder what you have really learned, you have saved $8000 by leaving your job when you could have saved $29,000 if your wife left hers, why the difference in amounts. You wanted a third child, now that will be virtually impossible. You debt to income ratio is probably now through the roof depending only on your wife’s salary and I think you will go through that one year nest egg faster than you thought, even without eating out, driving to work, those little expenses associated with work and putting your kids into daycare part time. I wish you the best I honestly do, but how well thought out was your decision? When I was your age I thought I could live on love, our only difference is you think you can live on beans. I want to see you get published, I want you to succeed, but I agree with another poster you should have continued doing this part time and not quitting your day job because you have a good following in your blog. I hope this all works out, but maybe you should consider a part time job to help out the wife who seems to love you even at the possible expense of your home and family life. There is no real success without risk, but calculated risk and I think your calculations maybe off some. Please answer the questions the posters have, insurance, income, what your wife thinks, life is short, I agree, but too short to go through another meltdown when you had it all together.

  79. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Health insurance: we use my wife’s health insurance. I’ve been on my wife’s health insurance for a long time because it was far better than the insurance I had at my “real” job.

    My wife’s choices: my wife is doing the job she’s wanted to do since she was a little girl. She loves it and it fulfills her in a deep way, much like writing does mine. She does not want to stay at home, even though we had the perfect opportunity for her to make that choice if she wanted.

    Household chores: The household chores are split basically 50-50 – if anything, I carry a bit more of them. Over the last week, for example, she’s fed our baby more than I have, but I’ve cooked dinner all but once.

    The $4,000 computer: My entire professional career is tied up in the computer, and because of that, it’s more important to get a system that maximizes what I actually need. I think you guys got hung up on the dollar amount – the $4,000 amount was the result of spec-ing out the highest-end system I could find in an effort to maximize efficiency. That’s part of the purchasing process – determining what you actually need. I ended up purchasing a unit for barely over $1,000 after discussing my needs carefully with a person at Apple.

    Income: As I’ve said many times, even with the loss in salary, we’re still earning far more than we’re spending each month. I wouldn’t have made the decision to make this leap otherwise.

  80. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “I agree with another poster you should have continued doing this part time”

    That’s the problem – I wasn’t doing this part time. Here’s what a normal weekday looked like for me: https://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/03/06/how-do-i-spend-my-time/

    That’s not sustainable over the long haul. It’s essentially working two full time jobs, and with the personal commitment I have to my kids and the basic life management that people need to do, something had to give eventually.

    I chose The Simple Dollar and writing. Maybe it’s not the choice you would make, but it’s the choice I made.

  81. clevelis says:

    Congratulations! I’m excited for you and your family. You will be an even better father and husband b/c you are following your dreams. I can only hope that more people will do the same. And yes, I’m speaking as one who has and is doing the same. All the best to you!

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