I Quit

I quit my job.

It is scary as can be to write that sentence. Unbelievably scary. I’m walking away from a good paying and very stable job. I announced my resignation this week, and my final day will happen before the end of March.


So, why did I make this decision? There were a lot of reasons, all balled together, so I thought I’d walk through them one at a time.

I want to devote more time to my family. As my writing has taken off – both on The Simple Dollar and in other forms – I’ve been more and more compressed for time. This has meant that I’ve spent weekends in the basement trying to write while my children play above me, their pitter-pattering feet on the floor making me wish I was with them. It’s meant that they spend more time in daycare instead of with me. It’s meant that when we go on vacations, I take my laptop along and write instead of enjoying special times with them. My son is a little over two years old and my daughter is almost six months old. If I keep doing this, I’m going to miss their childhood – and I don’t want to do that, not for all of the financial rewards in the world. In all honesty, this is the biggest factor that pushed me over the edge.

I want to devote more time to my writing. I love writing. There’s simply no other way to put it. The art of putting written words down on the page fills me with an elemental joy that I can’t describe. Some windows have opened for me where people are paying me to do this, and I can’t possibly turn away from it.

We’re in very good financial shape. If it wasn’t for this reason, I couldn’t possibly think of making a move like this. We have only a tiny amount of student loan debt and our mortgage and that’s it – no credit cards, no car loans, no anything. We have quite a bit of money in the bank as well and other sources of income, too.

We know how to live frugally. We’ve learned how to live way below our means over the last few years. We simply don’t spend much money at all, especially compared to our income. We spent substantially less than 40% of our income in 2007 – the difference was folded into paying off debts rapidly, with all of our car loans, our credit card debts, and much of our student loan debts just vanishing very rapidly.

Working in my home office and eating leftovers out of the fridge is far, far cheaper than commuting, buying gas, and succumbing to temptations along the way. I’ve calculated that my monthly savings just from not commuting is about twenty hours and $250 – and that’s assuming that I never stop for anything other than an occasional coffee or something. Plus, my lunches will be much cheaper – there will never be a temptation to eat out.

My wife is also considering a move to a job very close to home. Currently, my wife commutes about forty five minutes just to get to work. She’s considering a move that would reduce her commute to about three minutes.

I’m in the perfect position to leave my current job. I love my current job, so I’ve been waiting for the right time to make this move. I wanted a point where I could really walk away with minimal regrets, and now is just that time.

What Will I Do Now?

So, what’s my plan for after this switch? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and here’s what I have in mind.

At first, I’m going to get substantially ahead in my writing for The Simple Dollar. One consistent worry I always have about The Simple Dollar is that I never feel far enough ahead with the writing – it’s almost impossible to walk away from it for a vacation or an illness or an emergency because I don’t have adequate time to get ahead on the writing. So, my first project is to “bank” a lot of articles and have them ready to go so that if I need to, The Simple Dollar can keep running just fine while I step away for a bit.

This also means I’m going to have the opportunity to do some deep research and write some things that time simply hasn’t afforded to me.

Second, I’m going to shop my book hard to get it published. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a book that’s largely finished in first draft form. I’m going to polish it up and start shopping it hard, something that’s a time sink that I haven’t had time to do.

At the same time, I’m looking strongly at some freelance writing opportunities that will pay pretty well. I’m in discussions related to a newspaper column and perhaps a regular slot on a local radio show.

I’m going to start the long-discussed cooking/food blog. The focus is on preparing tasty and healthy meals at home for a family – while I won’t necessarily lean towards discussions of frugality there (I’m more concerned about tasty, then healthy), the very nature of cooking at home is a frugal behavior. When it launches, I’ll let you all know.

I’m going to dabble in local politics. This is something else that time compression hasn’t given me the freedom to do. Church council, city council, school board – these are all things I want to do.

I’m also going to spend some time on other side businesses and opportunities. Small-scale computer repair, things like that. I’m also going to look at helping my wife get her soap making side business up to speed, and I may raise a bumper crop of tomatoes, can some tomato-based foods, and sell them locally. I also have a few other strings that I may tug on, too.

I’m going to still send my children to daycare some for the socialization aspects, but we’re considering a reduced schedule that gives some stay-at-home-parent time. We’re going to ease into this over the next several months to see what works best for all of us and what matches our financial state.

Most importantly, I’m going to detach a bit from the heavily-compressed nature of the last two years of my life. In the summer, we’re going to spend some significant time visiting friends and family, people who I haven’t really been able to connect with in a while. I’m going to spend a ton of time with my kids outdoors, too – working in the garden, playing at the park, and so on. I’m going to breathe, something I haven’t done in a while.

All in all, it’s the single scariest thing I’ve done in my life, but I think it’s the right thing to do.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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