Updated on 03.13.08

How Quitting My Job Saves Me $8,000 a Year

Trent Hamm

As my final day at my “real” job grows ever closer, I’ve started reflecting in detail on the numerous changes that are going to happen in my life. In essence, most of the routines of my normal day are going out the window and I’ll be forced to find new grooves. This led me to consider the many ways that these routine changes will save our family money.

Reduced breakfast costs I eat breakfast at work about three days a week, simply because I run out of time to take care of it at home. A work breakfast, usually consisting of something from the coffee shop near the office, usually runs $6 or so. These three breakfasts will be replaced by oatmeal or fruit – a cost of $0.50 or so. Thus, each week, I’ll save about $16. Annual savings: $832

Reduced gasoline usage My daily commute ate about a gallon and a quarter of gas and put about thirty miles on my vehicle. If you just figure in the cost of gas and oil changes, this commute costs about $4 a day, day in and day out. I might make such a similar trip once a week now in an effort to do research, so my weekly cost will go down about … $16 again. Annual savings: $832

Reduced lunch costs I eat out for lunch with coworkers on average three days a week, with the other two weeks being leftovers. The average lunch costs about $10 with drinks and such included. Since I’ll be at home, I’ll instead eat simple meals at home or leftovers, probably costing about $1 a pop. That adds up to $27 in savings a week. Annual savings: $1,404

Reduced daycare costs While I haven’t figured out my final schedule yet, I’m quite sure the costs of daycare will go down significantly. Even if it drops just $50 a week for my two children, that still adds up. We normally take them to daycare about 45 weeks out of the year, so that really adds up. Annual savings: $2,250

Reduced incidental spending Perhaps once a week, I’ll wind up spending money on something incidental that I don’t need, simply because I wind up there. I’ll buy a schedule book at Office Depot, a used DS game, or something like that. These often happen as I’m out to lunch with a coworker who needs to stop for something on the way back. Let’s figure that I would spend $10 three times a week. That goes away, saving $30 a week. Annual savings: $1,560

Drastically reduced clothes expenses I don’t need to dress nearly as well on a daily basis, as I can just wear old t-shirts around the house. This means less annual clothes expenses – a reduction I would estimate at $300. Annual savings: $300

Reduced eating expenses When both my wife and I were working out of the home five days a week, we would often eat out or eat take-out once a week or so, and we’d often have an overpriced prepackaged meal once a week or so, too. Compared to the cost of preparing the food myself, each meal cost us $5 overall in extra costs on average, totaling up to $10 a week. Annual savings: $520

Eliminated extra travel expenses I had to travel about once every three months for my job. The reimbursement policy was rather stingy, plus I would often pick up a souvenir (like a local food or something like that) for my wife and my kids. Each trip easily cost me an extra $100 beyond what I would normally spend. Annual savings: $400

Reduced entertainment expenses Perhaps once every month, I would be involved in some sort of office-related social event, usually costing $15-20 total (or so). Annual savings: $240

The best part is that these are after-tax savings. Each month, the expenses of my job (and there’s nothing really extraordinary here) were eating just about $700 out of my post-tax income – my real paycheck. Those expenses simply disappear – and knowing that eases at least some of the fear of making that leap.

If you’re considering making such a leap, run through this exercise. Knowing that just the normal changes in my routine will save that much money on my living expenses (about six months’ worth of mortgage payments, for example) just reinforces the other positive qualities of this transition.

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  1. Jane says:

    I’d be really interested to see how your overall expenses have changed a few months after you’ve quit your job. For example, how much have your grocery expenses increased? What other unanticipated expenses do you encounter not working? What did your employer provide (e.g., 401k matching, heath insurance) that you are now having to foot the bill for yourself?

  2. This is a great example of how a details are important in finance.
    Some of these items, people would fail to calculate unless they went through this exercise .
    Far too often people underestimate the “costs” of having a job.
    A lot of people use their job “benefits” as an excuse to keep from getting off their A$$ and become entrepreneurs. Many mpeople are more afraid of success than they are of failure.
    Think about it!

  3. I found that I didn’t save quite that much for numerous reasons – mostly because I already saved money in the places that you will save money. For instance, work paid for my lunches, so that became an increased cost. Most of my savings are with my car and gas.

    However, when you think about it, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to stay home and write. You might need more heat in the wintertime. You might use more electricity.

  4. Kacie says:

    And that’s just financially.

    You’re also saving time (not having to commute/get ready for work) and you’re doing things that make you happy.

    Woo hoo!

  5. Ali says:

    I’m cheering you on, Trent! My husband and I went through a very similar estimated-cost exercise before I decided to quit my accounting job nearly six years ago (at the time I was earning more than he was). Family life didn’t get much easier, but we were able to simplify greatly, and our financial situation became much better than it had been before because we spent so much LESS. We eat healthier, travel more, and have more time for each other. We also feel like our children (and ourselves) have more opportunities to follow their passions. And the flexibility to accomodate many activities has been invaluable as the kids started school sports and such. We are so glad we made the leap. Good luck to you!

  6. Sam says:

    I think you’ll find that working from home, you’ll actually want to get out a little more often than you did at work for lunch. Staying at home 24 hours a day is nice at first, but after a while it becomes a little routine, and drives you mad.

    We’re all different, so the standard YMMV disclaimer applies. But I consider myself somewhat of a home-body, and you just have to get out to escape the tedium.

  7. jtimberman says:

    I don’t know how much money I saved per year when I started changing my habits to get out of debt. When we sat down and did a budget, and started using cash for purchases instead of credit / debit cards, I found that I was easily able to give up the following money pits.

    I stopped buying breakfast at work.

    I stopped going out to lunch every day with coworkers.

    I stopped buying snacks out of the vending machine (work didn’t have free snacks).

    I stopped going to stores without a clear purchase purpose in mind that I already budgeted.

    I don’t even know how many thousands of dollars I’ve saved in the last three years. I’m sure it would buy a car and a college education, because thats what I paid off in debt in that time because of choices like these.

  8. Mike says:

    In defense of us who are still “stuck” at a regular job, it seems you could have been a bit more frugal while you worked at your job. $8,000 per year is a lot of money. Day care, gas and clothing are all you realistically needed to spend money on. If you couldn’t expense it, I guess you could add in necessary travel expenses. You also added the eating expense when you and your wife both worked out of the home. So I assume that wasn’t related to your regular job(?) That being said, I appreciate your calculations to your own situation and how others in a similar situation may benefit – especially if they’re considering starting their own business. Thanks Trent.

  9. Heidi says:

    Congrats on the savings! I am sure that you’ll find your new groove in no time.

    I am surprised to see that you were eating out so often (especially breakfast), for someone who likes to cook as much as you do. And the $30 misc. spending per week seems a bit high for someone who practices the 10 second rule.

  10. Grant says:

    I think your numbers might be off.

    You are multiplying the weekly savings by 52 but you didn’t work 52 weeks a year, did you? You probably had at least 2 weeks of vacation, and another 8-10 holiday days per year.

    For the gas/car expenses, you are probably on the low side in estimating. There’s a 5-year cost of ownership tab on cars.com that shows the breakdown for Depreciation, Fuel, Fees & Taxes, Maintenance, Financing, Opportunity Cost, Insurance and Repairs for most cars (it’s under “Research”). A typical car (2007 Toyota Camry) comes out to something like 50 or 60 cents per mile.

    Also, if you had to dry clean work clothes on a regular basis, you can subtract that expense.

  11. Phil A says:

    The only major expense I would save money on is gasoline and oil changes in the neighborhood of $1500. I alsways eat cereal at home for breakfast and I always pack a lunch that costs under $2 a day. That gas cost though is a killer.

  12. Mike says:

    I realize there are good reasons for quitting your job, but I’m not buying this one.

    I can understand how quitting can reduce gas, daycare, etc. But most of that $8000 isn’t really work-related–it’s either eating out or those “incidentals.” ($30 a week at Office Depot? Really?) If you had wanted to, you could have cut out most of them even if you had kept your job.

    If those kinds of things are part of your lifestyle while you’re working outside the home, I’d bet they remain a part of your lifestyle working at home. Maybe even more so, because of the temptation to “get out” and do something.

  13. guinness416 says:

    My husband has been home a lot of the last nine months or so, and I’ll echo Sam above – he found himself going out to buy groceries more often than necessary, dropping by local coffee shops, driving out of his way to see someone, coming up with more elaborate recipes, etc just out of sheer cabin fever and the need for human contact. In a few months you may have another list of “additional expenses due to working at home”.

  14. Kim Siever says:

    Are you serious?

    Half of these things I already and I am employed full-time.

    I eat breakfast at home. Of course, I get up 1.5 hours before I need to leave.

    I eat at home for lunch.

    I take the bus to work. Because I take the bus four times each day (to work, home for lunch, back to work, home at the end of day), the cost of the bus pass is used up in a week 9compared to if I paid single fares). The rest of the month, I technically ride for free.

    I use a crockpot often for evening meals. The meal is hot and ready when I walk in the door.

    I’m lucky if I spend $50 on clothing in a year (work and non-work clothing).

  15. Toby says:

    Great points but I will second Jane’s suggestion to revisit this article in 6 months and see where you stand on spending. As Sam points out, spending 24/7 inside your house (I’m exaggerating, of course) is not going to be easy and you will need to break the tedium somehow.

    Heck, I get free lunch at work and our team still ends up going out to (a cheap) lunch every week or two. We just need the change-of-pace.

    I have no doubt you will save money without the 9-to-5 job, but I see several categories up there that you could continue to spend in whether you are at the office or not (incidental spending, eating out, etc.).

    Best of Luck!

  16. Jaime says:

    Hi Trent,

    Been following your blog for quite a while, and typically find your advice and guidance very consistent and helpful. But every once in a while one of your posts, like this one, make me scratch my head and wonder…

    I’m a bit shocked to hear you admit you’re eating out so much (both breakfast & lunch) at work as well as often buying things needlessly on your lunch break. I’m not insisting you be perfect (who is?) but sometimes you throw out these zingers that imply you don’t practice what you have preached at great lengths about in your blog.

  17. some of these things you are eliminating are things that you will need to reinstate in order to keep yourself sane while working from home. :)

    re/ clothes I started out working from home in track pants and T-shirts. I ended up back in almost-work-like clothes because they drew a stronger line for me between work and non-work time.

    You may find other things like you will need to keep spending money on in order to maintain the work-from-home lifestyle.

  18. NP says:

    I agree that you would have to exercise extraordinary discipline to live as spartan as you have described. I personally think fruit costs more than 50 cents per day for one thing. I’m sure you will come out ahead, but not by as wide a margin as you have forecast.

  19. (No not that Trent) Trent says:


    So, I am just in the process of leaving my day job, too.

    And going back to full-time writing.

    I lead a fairly simple life when I am at work and don’t spend a lot of money.

    However, because I live in a small town, and my job is in the big city, I’ve taken to renting an apartment instead of commuting (as it is actually cheaper).

    So, while I’m not seeing a drop in many incidentals, there is $300/month that is being saved by quitting.

    I fortunately have walked right into a contract that will basically earn me almost the same as working full time; basically I am making about $400 less a month contracting than being employed. If I am spending $300 month less, I only have to figure out how to raise my income or reduce my expenses by $100 and I’ve got it made.

    But from a life investment, it will be so much better; I spend four days away from home each week. That’s basically half my life spent away from my wife, away from my daughters. If I have to make a few sacrifices in order to spend more time with them, it’ll be worth it.

    (Of course, right now I’ve taken the contract and haven’t finished work yet, so I wind up working 7 days a week, ten hours a day. That’s a bit painful, but I’m looking at the long term benefits, and accepting the short term pain.

  20. Brian says:

    I’m a bit shocked at the breakfast eating out considering how early you get up. There is a reason that cereal is a popular kid’s breakfast – it’s cheap, it’s a split-second to make, and a decent cereal can give you what you need to start a day.

    Considering how much time you have in the mornings based on when you get up, you could eat a bowl of cereal during your morning quiz/puzzle, or during your writing. I’m sure your kids eat breakfast, perfect time for you as well. I’m not trying to judge, I promise, it was just shocking to read (as was the $30/week incidental spending).

    My vice is lunch – work is hard enough, and I’m doing good if it’s an 8-6 day, sometimes it’s later. Eating lunch at work is like giving away my time, I need the air and the scenery change to give me a recharge for the afternoon. I try to limit it to lower cost ($10 is not acceptable save every once a while), but it’s still the one area where I haven’t found a happy medium to clamp down on the spending.

    I’m sure your stoked about the change, I know I would be! Congrats!

  21. SJean says:

    I agree with some of the commenters who mentioned that many of these “work” expenses were choices. They are work “related”, but they are distant relatives. :) And you won’t be able to forgo oil changes!

    I bring lunch, and if I run out of time, I bring yogurt + granola for breakfast. That alone saves a person over $2000 (your calculations) without forgoing benefits/salary.

    Also, the “incidentals” seems especially weird coming from you–you give the impression of being a savvy shopper who won’t buy stuff they don’t really need.

    All that nitpicking aside, I am excited for you and your new phase of life! I’m sure the overall benefits will be huge!

  22. GalinAZ says:

    I left corporate 6 years ago and have worked from home since. I have found my utility bills have increased being home during the day. I’ve also spent more money on home improvements/repairs because I see the need/want more.

  23. KG says:

    So your saving $8,000 and losing ~$50,000 in salary.

    Looks like your in the red. :/

  24. paidtwice says:

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way… but you seem in this post a lot less frugal than I have always pictured. That’s a lot of eating out and random spending to me.

    Good luck with the new home gig!

  25. Sarah says:

    I don’t find these numbers all that shocking. Trent’s being realistic (and honest). There are times when you must cut spending to the absolute bone, but it doesn’t sound like he’s been in that position for a while. (Which is good–most people can’t live under those kinds of conditions without feeling pretty stressed out.)

    However, I think Trent’s underestimating the “new” costs that will roll in. There’s no real provision here for expenses related to the business of writing, for instance. If he reevaluates in a year, I suspect he’ll find he’s saved maybe half of what he thinks he might.

  26. brent says:

    “incidental spending” to go down???

    I doubt it.

    It’s not like you’ll have LESS time wondering around shops wondering if you want to buy stuff – you’ll start doing the grocery shopping and wonder about for a while afterwards. You’ll start browsing ebay a LOT more. You’ll start buying you stuff to ‘keep you company’ at home.

    Also, if you bring the kids back from daycare, you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to have ‘spare’ time or that you’ll be any less likely to get exhausted and want to order take out rather than cook a big fancy meal when you’ve gto 2 screaming kids.

    I applaud your choice – it’s just that you’re not home and free yet.

  27. Ben says:

    I have to agree with others here as well, for all your financial advice you seem to spend worse than anyone I know! :) Three trips to Office Depot, 3 lunches a week, $6 breakfasts??

    It doesn’t really matter, you claim to be in great financial shape, so more power to you, I guess I just had images of you being more frugal in your daily life.

  28. Chad says:

    I’d be interested in a “How quitting my job will costs me an additional $XXXX per year” post. There are bound to be some cases where the expenses go up (groceries, cooling/heating, home improvements (bound to find things with all the extra time)) …

    Great site, by the way …

  29. Steve says:

    Wow. Imagine how much you dying could save you.

  30. I hate to pick nits, but you said that you make impulse purchases once/week and then factored it in as $10 x 3 times/week.

  31. That Guy says:

    Jobs suck, but if you are looking for a Canadian government job, check out http://www.bureaucrat.ca

    I see the irony of promo’ing my jobsite on a post about getting out of a job…I’m at one with my hypocrisy

  32. I did a similar calculation when my wife and I were deciding if it was worth it (for us) for her to continue in the work force after our daughter was born.

    We were surprised to find that if she were to get a $40000 job her net take home would only be $12000 before retirement.

    I used the calculation as a basis for one of my recent articles.

    Ben @ Trees Full of Money

  33. Sandy says:

    If anyone is looking for a healthy and hearty (best of all quick and inexpensive) breakfast, try these muffins from Cooking Light. They freeze great and are thawed by the time I get to work.


  34. Carrie says:

    A couple years ago, I figured how much it cost me to take a trip to go grocery/discount store shopping – the closest place being about 15 miles away. When I realized that every time I drove into town, I was spending at least 3 dollars in fuel costs alone, (now it would be somewhat more) I became much more conscious of my driving habits. By cutting the number of extra trips I used to make (at least 1 per week) I now save somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 a year.

    It’s definitely worthwhile to carefully consider how our daily habits contribute to our financial situation!

  35. ericabiz says:

    I would strongly urge you to reconsider the “old t-shirts” thing. I am now working from home after having sold my business, but I still dress like I am going to work every day. Old t-shirts would not motivate me to work and would make me feel sloppy (I don’t wear jeans on working days for the same reason.)

    I also think you will find that you will need time outside your house. I try to schedule a lot of working lunches with other people to break the “work from home blues.” I spend about as much as I did when I owned a business, which is fine with me since I can take the tax writeoff at lunch and meet tons of interesting people. Don’t discount the fact that you will need even more of a social life and social support system now.

  36. This is Your Money or Your Life in action! Yes, a lot of these expenses were choices and could have been cut a long time ago, but once things like eating out and shopping during your lunch break are no longer habits the expenses will definitely go down.

  37. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Most of these expenses are related to the social needs at work, something I’ve addressed at length. When a coworker comes into your office and says, “Let’s go out to lunch and discuss the project,” you’re not going to say no. The same goes for breakfast. Similarly, a lot of minor work expenses and other incidentals for me were out of pocket – that’s most of the “incidentals” I mentioned above.

    It has little to do with personal frugality, it has to do with the nature of spending and the workplace.

  38. Sandy E. says:

    A dollar saved is a dollar earned.

  39. MG says:

    Perhaps you’ve covered this in a previous article, but don’t forget that if you’re self-employed, you have to pay the social security/Medicare tax which is normally covered in part by an employer. This can be a huge expense at tax time (tax rate of 15%), and if you don’t plan ahead for it, you may end up with penalties for not paying estimated quarterly payments. So, it’s great that you can find these other savings, but the tax consequences are also important to consider for anyone thinking about this kind of transition.

  40. Think about it, you are able to save time and put it to some use that you would have spent in driving to work and getting ready for work and commimg back routine. You are not really bound by the timings of job and wage, you have more time and flexibility to follow your passion and grow.

    May be you can now have wider social network not restricted to place of work which can take you into local politics. !

  41. Carlos says:

    I think you’ll find that your expenses won’t go down nearly as much as you think. It’s human nature to spend money; staying home (for me, anyway) didn’t change my net-spending that much.

    I don’t buy prepared lunches anymore – I cook at lunchtime, which has led to an increase in the number of times I run the dishwasher, an increase in the cost of groceries et. al. I’ve also bought new cookware – which has suddenly become more important – since I’m at home.

    I’ve also started working on my house a lot more (since I have the time). Paint, drywall, sandpaper, more power tools, et. al.

    I hope the change works out well for you.

  42. Andrew says:

    Yes, your calculations are rough and they leave out a lot of factors and variables. However, I think people are reading into this too much and missing the big picture. You are going to save money, no matter what. I just know it. And I know YOU know it or you wouldn’t have taken this step! I offer you my 100% unpessimistic well wishes, Trent.

  43. 2million says:

    It really is amazing how little we sometimes work for when you factor in income taxes and expenses like these that we incur to work.

  44. RangzY says:

    How about the income dude?!! You simply lose all of your income. By saving $8000, you put a plug on the $80k income, right/!!

    Well, I could stop *all* of my expenses if I stop living. Simply. [How Kicking the bucket saves ‘me’ INR200,000 a Year]

  45. Dee says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for adding numbers to the comments :)

  46. Sorry but I don’t get this post. If you look at a big company like Exxon, their annual expenses are $300 billion per year. Would it make sense to say, ‘Exxon can save $300 billion a year by going out of business’. Of course not. When you are working of course their are expenses, but the proper accounting would be to figure out how much you are making beyond the expenses, because at the end of the day your career is a business. If your pay from the job does not significantly exceed the expenses, then there is some humongous problem.

    My own expenses related to work are pretty much zero; I walk to work (and there is no Starbucks or breakfast place along the way), I bring my own lunch, and all social events are paid for. The wear & tear on my shoes during my daily commute is a drop in the bucket compared to what they pay me, or even compared to all of the free food which they provide.

  47. Rob Madrid says:

    Oh yes, the hypocrisy of it all! Your not the first blogger who’s gotten in trouble for being human. I actually surprised you weren’t eating out more considering you’ve been burning the candles at both ends for a while. Reagardless I’ve really enjoyed the blog and am looking forward to seeing how
    how life changes once you become a full time writer.

  48. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Most of the times I’ve eaten out have been with coworkers, not with my family. In the pure sense of eating, I’d rather eat a home-prepared meal and two days a week or so I brown-bag it, but there are workplace social requirements that need to be fulfilled.

  49. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Also, think of it this way. Let’s say I was walking away from a $50K job. If I’m saving $8K by the choice – and that’s post-tax – that means the job was really only a $38K job or so.

  50. overcoming overspending says:

    Trent, I was really surprised to see that you mentioned spending $ on things like eating lunches and breakfasts out at work as you have posted many times about NOT doing that and preparing those meals at home (your breakfast burritos or sandwiches, as well as several posts on the value of packing leftovers for lunch), now you are saying that you spent hundreds of dollars on those items. Ditto for stopping at a bookstore or office supply store and spending on unneccesary/unplanned items. You have said so many times that you avoid these traps by changing your routine (as to not end up at these places and tempted to spend). These habbits seem to be in direct contradiction of what you’ve been posting for months, what gives?
    I find that when I am at home, I actually spend MORE money (I am a teacher, so I have vacation at Christmas, Easter time and summer) and working keeps me out of the stores, and other entertainment venues (movies, other attractions) that tend to part me with my money. I am on spring break next week and anticipate spending more, not less money than when I am at school all day and too tired to do much at night! At any rate, good luck to you as you make this huge transition.

  51. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Again, I’ll repeat – these are workplace expenses, driven by workplace requirements, not by personal choice. That’s why I’m saving so much by quitting – without the workplace requirements, the expenses won’t be that much.

  52. Louise says:

    Trent, your post shows you’re human and I’m really suprised at all the negative comments it has provoked. I can understand why people have said you have overestimated the savings you may make. Having been self employed for 12 years now, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get cabin fever and want to get out just to grab a cup of coffee. However you can use that to your advantage by turning it into a business meeting in many cases. Yes your utility bills may go up, but there are tax savings to be had that go along with it. Very importantly, most people have underestimated the time savings that go with losing the commute. These will increase your productivity, and the quality of your life and that of your family.

    I would suggest that although your clothes bill will go down, that you change into neat casual clothes to signify the beginning of your work day. This does make a difference to my psychological state, just as making the bed stops me from wanting a nap mid afternoon. Other people have suggested a follow up post in 6 months time regarding the costs and I think that would be a great idea.

  53. Eric says:

    I understand about required workplace expenses. You can bring in all of the sack lunches you want, but when a group of coworkers suggest a working lunch at Chili’s, you’re going to damage your job if you avoid it.

    I do the same thing – I brown bag almost every day, but some days workplace commitments cause me to have to eat out, and I recognize it as a personal expense I have to take on for job success. The same goes with breakfast – I often stroll to a coffee shop with coworkers to talk work even though I could get cheap coffee in the office.

  54. Trent, are you concerned at all with the withdrawal aspects of the move? It seems like you’ll be “eating alone” a lot more often than before and while it may be good for the wallet, won’t you feel lonely and miss the camaraderie?

  55. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Not really. I’m likely going to get involved in a local “stay at home dad” group that has rotating lunches and child get-togethers at each others’ homes, for starters. That basically means once every two or three weeks, I’ll have to prepare lunch for about seven adults and fifteen kids at my house, but three days a week or so the rest of the time, lunch (and camaraderie) is free. I’m also going to get involved in some other community activities.

  56. riley says:


    I think you will save at least as much as you are estimating. I quit work last year and have found that my “misc.” expenses dropped by several 1000.00 per year without any special effort on my part. When a person is out in the workplace I think there is just a constant small spending that occurs for most of us.

    One item you didn’t mention that will probably save you quite a bit is a larger garden if you are planning on that. Great way to relax for a while and a great return for the small investment of money.

  57. Alexanra says:

    I work at home and I do think it’s been a lot less of a cost than I thought. We are basically more frugal than I thought we would be. We take care of our cars better, get the kids, cats, and birds to their doctor appointments (do preventive stuff), I’m home to get repairmen in and things like that. I can pick up kids from school if they’re sick or bring them their lunches. I feel as if somehow, we’re calmer, things seem simpler. I was kind of shocked by the $6 breakfasts. Say what? But I totally get the need for socializing at lunch. As a free-lancer I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, etc., but although I have a nice cup of tea there, I really enjoy going home for lunch and eating leftovers or soup or something like that. And I cook like crazy. I will say that your weekend plans (eating out once a week) is quite modest. There are drawbacks, as well, of course, but it can work under the right circumstances.

  58. Jim says:

    Hope your current employer isn’t reading your blog too closely. He or she may say, “If you’re so anxious to leave, see ya and good luck; don’t let the door hit you…on the way out.”

  59. Sam says:


    Congratulations on making it this far. Since I’m still in school I only work during the summer, but during that time people often come by the office and ask me to join them for a bit to eat. So I understand exactly were you’re coming from in spending money at the workplace.

    What I’m curious about is how you do your taxes in a situation like yours? Do you do a sole proprietorship? How do you pay taxes, medicare, ss, etc.when you freelance or rely on a blog for income? I’m thinking about starting up some freelance projects during my breaks from school. Thanks!

  60. austere says:

    You could add in long term health advantages, because you’re eating much smarter.

  61. SarahMich says:

    These are all true, but you also have some expenses going up when you work from home. I work from home 2 days a week, and using the computer and having lights on adds to the electricity bill, albeit just a few cents a day, likely. We also have a programmable thermostat that leaves the house cold all day in winter and warm all day in summer. When I work from home, I’m tempted to turn on the AC or the heat just a little to be more comfortable (though I usually manage to resist unless it gets really bad).

    I think you’ll come out ahead, sure, but maybe not as much as you’d like to think.

    Also, just a editor’s nitpick on this item:
    “Reduced lunch costs I eat out for lunch with coworkers on average three days a week, with the other two weeks being leftovers.”

    I think you mean “the other two days being leftovers” rather than “otehr two weeks”.

  62. guinness416 says:

    Sounds like your workplace sucked, and you’re better off out. Like FrugalBachelor above, any “let’s discuss the project” lunches or team-building beers at my office are expensable, as they should be.

  63. acwang says:

    Trent, it is great that you were able to save around 8K a year from becoming self-employed, but are there other cost that increased?

    I can think of a couple.
    – Health and dental Insurance (without employer contribution, I think this would increase)

    – Short-term and long-term disability insurance (in my work, i automatically get this coverage. Would you to pay for this yourself?)

    – Social Security and Medicare (Are you still required to contribute to these?)

    – Electricity and Gas (Now that you work mostly at home, you are using more of your computer, use your heater or A/C and cook more often.)

    – Office supplies, furniture, etc.. (Did you purchase any stuff which you need to be able to work from home?)

    – Grocery (Now that you cook more often at home, this would probably increase as well.)

    – Gasoline (You mentioned how much money you saved by not commuting to work, but you did not mention how much more often you go out with your family for their extra curricular activities.)

  64. Jonathan says:

    Going out to eat sometimes with co-workers I can see as almost a requirement sometimes as a way of furthering your career, but surely 3 days a weeks is a little overkill. There is no way I would work at a place that basically required I eat out 3 days a week just to keep up to speed on a project.
    Several days ago you posted your “normal” daily schedule. It included eating breakfast at home when you got up and eating at your desk as you return emails and such. I think the people (maybe myself included) with negative comments are feeling confused and maybe offended that some of your previous posts may have been written purely as “good” content for the sake of traffic.
    On the other hand, I applaud you for leaving your job. A place that “requires” 3 eat out lunches a day to stay competent, crappy travel reimbursement, and “required” office social events is crazy.

  65. One of the biggest benefits of starting your own business is definitely that you, at least in the beginning, can enjoy low costs of living and also overhead costs because of working from home that make the process of starting up a lot easier than if you still had other costs to consider. Of course, some other costs may off-set the savings, and it’s important to make these costs a priority to help further your business (and you can really look at it as things that you can better afford BECAUSE you are saving money on other aspects of your budget). For example, if you’re starting a small business in particular, joining networking organizations – like the Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club, etc. – to get out and about in your community and engage in important networking activities is going to cost some money. However, it’s definitely true, again that because you are saving money on so many other things that used to cost significant money when you were employed by a second party these necessary and important expenses become a possibility, even with a more constrained budget.

    Thanks for the very helpful look at this important topic!

  66. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I’m not anxious to leave. I enjoy my job. However, it ~is~ expensive, as most jobs are, in subtle ways.

    The “three times a week” is average. Sometimes we’ll have people visiting our office and we’ll go out every day during a week. Other weeks, I might not go out at all. Three days a week is an attempt at an ~average~ over a long period of time. A “normal” workday sees me eating leftovers at my desk, but there are a lot of days where I’m called out of the office with coworkers, guests, interviewees, etc.

  67. mb says:

    Trent … I’m very curious to see how this all works ou, but there’s one issue I haven’t seen you mention. I’m curious about your wife’s perspective. My husband has the more flexible schedule and works 4 days of the week from home, so he has the flexibility to spend more time with our kids. In spite of my best intentions (and of being happy that at least one parent has the flexibility to do kid things) , I’m jealous. I HATE being the first one to leave in the morning and the last one home. I HATE not being the parent who picks the kids up at aftercare and chatting with other parents and seeing the new “artwork” on the wall. I HATE not being the parent who stays home with a sick kid. And I like my job … it’s not that. It would be interesting to have your wife write a “guest post” in a few months.

  68. Eric says:

    Since it isn’t mentioned I assume your wife has the insurance for the family?

  69. stackingpennies says:

    “Three days a week is an attempt at an ~average~ over a long period of time. A “normal” workday sees me eating leftovers at my desk”

    Sorry to be a stickler about this point. But if 3x a week is average, it is more normal than not for you to go out. I guess I agree with the commenter who said it was disappointing to see a conflict between the spartan image you present in some posts (ie your “normal” schedule, and posts about how you don’t buy impulsively anymore) and this post.

    But, as other commenter said, you have the right to be human! Also, details like that stay at home dad group, etc. may have been nice to include in the main post to explain why your calculations are more realistic.

  70. J. says:

    wow, trent, these folks have very high expectations for you. kudos on confronting the real costs of commuting to an office job. you’ll definitely want to look back in 6 months and see what kind of unanticipated expenses come with NOT working.

  71. Mo-Town says:


    I think it’s great that you’re going to pursue your dreams, but from the tone of your article and posts it sounds to me like you’re trying to justify your decision and make it sound financially savvy. It really isn’t accurate to say you’ll save $8,000 by quitting your job. You may indeed eliminate $8,000 in expenses, but you’ve also eliminated $50,000 in income (or $38,000 if we go by your post no. 49). That’s a net loss, not a net savings.

    Like I said, I think it’s great that you’re in a position where you can leave your job to pursue your dreams. I also think it’s great that you’re willing to share your financial calculation with us all. But I think there would have been a lot fewer critical posts if the gist of your article had been “quitting my job won’t be as big a financial hit as I thought because …” instead of “look how much money I’m going to save by quitting my job.”

  72. Jayne says:


    Of course he’s losing income by quitting. He has clearly stated that he is quitting to focus his life on other priorities and that financial discipline has enabled him to get to this point. A simple post about the money he will save by not working his traditional job is well in line. It goes without saying (although it’s been covered in other posts)he is leaving his salary behind. Good luck in your new ventures Trent!

  73. PT says:

    You will be lonely.

  74. Adrian says:

    I think this was a very good article, regardless of the exact calculations, motives, etc. The point is that just WORKING at corporations is expensive! It’s the slavery you pay for. Most people don’t see any other options. I think Trent has found another option, and Trent, I wish you all the best.

  75. Michelle says:

    Posts like this remind me that my job is great as far as incidental spending. I eat packed breakfasts and lunches at my desk with nobody bothering me, I can wear ratty jeans and sneakers, and my commute is short with no retail stores anywhere on it.

  76. elaine says:

    Hmm…that’s interesting. I thought with all the batch cooking you do, you’d be bringing your own lunches/breakfasts to work??

  77. Sherry says:

    Hi Trent Congratulations! The situation you will find yourself in shortly, I have been in for two years. I had a great opportunity to work from home so I took it! Of course, it’s not my dream job or even one that requires the degree I spent 4 years to get. I often think about leaving this job, even with the perks of working from home, to work in a true business where I can use my education but I just recently looked at the extra expenses myself, and for our family it would COST us an additional $11,450 just in expenses if I found an equivalent paying job in downtown Atlanta. Your posts are encouraging and have helped keep me focused on what’s truly important, that personal time you get to enjoy with your family!!!

  78. Brian says:

    The reality is Trent is financially smart, that’s understood.

    I think the “negativity” is based on what people perceived of Trent, and reality. That could mean two things – readers are suffering the normal phenomenon of not being able to get a true picture of a person they only know through the internet, or that Trent’s writing has highlighted the best of his financial decisions, but there are still others that haven’t been a part.

    Personally, I do not put as much weight to the “work-driven” expenses as Trent lends. You can’t play $30/week incidentals to a “work-driven” expense just because a coworker needs to stop somewhere on the way back from lunch. Ultimately, the $30/week is still a personal decision. Also, personally, I don’t get 3 times a week for work lunches that aren’t reimbursable. That means your company is taking your time for free, or as is more likely the case, you are volunteering it for free. This is not necessarily bad from a work standpoint, I’m sure it makes you look good, but from a financial standpoint it has a negative effect. If it were me, and it was really leaning to 3 times a week, I would approach my boss about the expense and ask about policy. If they refused reimbursement, then I believe I would have to cut back on the “working” lunches. There has to be SOME weight to the social gain, but it’s not $100+ a month (for me). Again – maybe Trent’s “social” gain was far greater than the “financial” loss – maybe he never calculated it – but either way, the numbers side of it is a negative, period.

    All told, I think there is enough information to know that Trent would not be jumping off the edge of a cliff with a blindfold on with this decision, he’s obviously in tune enough with himself, his family, and his financial situation, to have made an informed decision. We have been privy to some of that process, this is not a “new” announcement. I just think some of the realities that have never been previously disclosed differed with what people had conjured up in their minds.

  79. Kenny says:

    Great ideas…..Good thoughts.

    Saving money has two variables:

    1. How much did you make by doing X Effort
    2. How much did you spend to do the Effort

    Then comes savings. So, if you are going to make the SAME amount of money as you made at your employment place, and now you are working from home, then put all your expenses down in Column 1 and 2 of a spreadsheet. Column 1 is titles and Column 2 is Savings.

    Revist this every 3 months.

    Now, if you NOT going to make enough money (and you are the man of the house), then “Savings” is a false statement. Your net savings will start going down, and even if you save, it is still a ‘negative year to year growth’.

    I know enough about this, and know it well, since I have done something SIMILAR:

    1. I kept the same employer.
    2. Kept the same income.
    3. Started working VO (Virtual Office at Home)
    4. Jotted down everything like you have done here
    5. Noted the savings every 3-4 months
    6. Annualized the numbers each time
    7. Number were staggering in the $7K to $9K range at any given point in time over the last 3 to 12 years.
    8. I included all the +s and -s (like others have suggested above).
    9. Net-net……I came out ahead on what MATTERS MOST > Lower Stress, Y-o-Y Growth in Savings, True Savings as opposed to Working in the Office, More Productive at home vs office
    10. Of course, this is a privilege and I leverage it to the max, and understand that it is not an option for everyone to leverage.



  80. Mo-Town says:


    Just curious… Do you plan on mentioning the “working lunch” costs to your employer during your exit interview? When attorneys left my old law firm, we always appreciated it when they shared things like this. It may be that your employer isn’t aware of how expensive the “working lunches” can be for employees.

  81. Meg says:

    That’s for THIS year, though, right? Don’t forget to calculate all the increased earning potential you’re giving up. With a 4% raise will 2009’s savings be as dramatic? What about 2015’s?

    That’s the mistake many young SAHM’s make. They consider THIS YEAR’S fulltime daycare costs and THIS YEAR’S salary. But in a few years your kid will be in school and daycare expenses will drop. Meanwhile you’ll have missed out on several years of raises, and you probably won’t be able to get back in the workforce even at your previous salary, if you’re lucky enough to get back in at all.

  82. 99wtfu says:

    Maybe now Trent has had his financial meltdown and got his finances under control, he can afford not to be so anal about saving money?

    I hvae just gotten a better paying job and while I am strict about saving and debt elimination, I find it a relief to know I can buy Subway for lunch for $7 and ten minutes, instead of going to the shops to buy ingredients for sandwiches at ~$3 each and forty minutes.

  83. Brenda says:

    I was a buyer making $43,000 in a nearby city. After I did the math, my net after tax contribution was $6,000/yr. We did not have child care costs since we worked opposite shifts. If we had, we could have easily been spending money for me to work. Now I have a part time job less than a mile down down the street that I walk to, does not require special clothes, and leaves me time for myself and my family.

  84. Just Wondering says:

    I remember a few posts back when you mentioned your wife wanted to be a stay at home mom.
    How will your dreams of being on your own effect your relationship with your wife and her dreams of being home with the children?
    I see potential problems with your relationship, will you be doing more of the house work now that you are home all day or will she still have her share, I understand you will be “working”, but she will feel stressed if you don’t take some of the work out of her home time so she can spend time with the kids.

  85. Lisa says:

    YIKES!! Would you stop criticizing Trent!! Just because he might not live up to YOUR expectations of HIS behavior, you have no right to be so judgmental. If he gives advice that you think is valuable and it works for you, great. If you decide that it is not for you, do not take it. If you decide to reject good advice just because the messenger might not be perfect and does not live up to YOUR expectations, then you are damn fool. You need to go live in another universe because the last time I checked there are NO perfect people on this planet.

  86. Jonathan says:


    It is not that we are criticizing Trent, it is that we want know what is actually truth. In many posts he states one set of actions is normal for him and outlines what he does to save money, then in this post most of those things are, on average, thrown out the window when it comes to the daily grind and pressure of life. My question was does he actually do the things he says he does, or are they just “good” content for an article.
    It’s one thing to offer suggestions about how to save money. However its quite another to pass off those tips as something you live out in your life on a daily basis. As someone earlier pointed out, technically eating out 3 out of 5 days of the weekdays on average is not abnormal, but the normal.

  87. AnKa says:

    Maybe there is something wrong with me but while I was on maternity leave I actually had way more incidental spending and transport costs than when I work full time. Because ‘staying home’ with the kids shouldn’t mean you’re actually physically staying home all day. You’d want to get to activities, and see other people/kids. You end up going to the same number of lunches out I bet. You pay admission to museums and stuff.
    This is by no means a judgment of what one should or shouldn’t do (in fact I am undecided on the matter for myself) but your comparison is not right.

  88. Missy says:

    Dont forget to call your auto insurance agent and let them know that you will no longer be commuting to work. Your auto insurance will drop significantly by doing that.

    Enjoy being a SAHD.

  89. Jeanie says:

    Sounds good! I have been a stay-at-home nana for about 7 months now and I love it.

    Make sure you check with your day-care provider because in Illinois you pay no matter how many days you have them. The provider is paid a standard amount, they get even if your child is sick or someone else watches them for you.

    Don’t know what it is in your state, but you might want to check.

  90. In Debt says:

    Wow. That’s quite a bit more than I would have expected, especially in the “incidental purchases” category! I’ve had times when I’d do things like that for a month or two, but it wasn’t ever a long term habit.

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