Updated on 09.17.14

The Simple Dollar Convinces Someone To Quit Their Job

Trent Hamm

This is a really interesting story that I thought I would share with all of you. I do have a few comments below, but I thought I would let Kelly tell her story (I edited this email a bit to eliminate some privacy concerns and polish a few tiny grammar issues):

I wanted to write to you and tell you that your site convinced me to quit my job and make some other big changes in my life. I have been trying to get ahead for a while now but I didn’t know what to do. Your site helped me a lot and thank you.

I am twenty years old. I did not go to college after high school mostly because none of my friends did. I stayed in my home town and got a job about thirty miles away making $12 an hour as a factory worker. It didn’t have any health insurance or anything so there were no real benefits other than $12 an hour for someone out of high school. I thought about taking some classes at a college but every night I came home really tired and so I never did anything.

It took me about forty five minutes to drive there every day and I used a gallon of gas each way plus I paid about a dollar in toll each way. That means $8 each day plus my car insurance and all the extra miles on my car.

When I read your site about figuring what your time is worth (note: I’m guessing this article) I spent some time thinking about it and with the cost of my car and the insurance and the gas and the time to go to work I realized I was wasting a lot of time and money. In fact I figured out that my real hourly wage at work was about $7 an hour for a job I hated.

So I started looking around town and I found a job as a waitress at a restaurant that paid $4 an hour plus all tips. I trained there on Saturdays and Sundays and found I could make $10 an hour easy working there and way more on busy shifts. Plus I could walk there since it was only four blocks away and get there in ten minutes.

I quit my job at the factory and now I’m working four weeknights and a weekend night at the restaurant. Even though it pays less on paper than my old job I have more money in my pocket because I don’t spend money on the car and I don’t buy my lunch in the cafeteria because it’s free at work. I sold my car too and I signed up to take some classes at the college during the week days using the car money. I can take the city bus to classes and back home, then walk to work.

Before I read your site I thought I was doing the right thing working at the factory but I felt like I could not do anything to help myself. You got me to think about what else I could be doing and that the best paying job isn’t always the one that will give you the most money. I am taking English classes now and I can already write better than before. I want to try to become a technical writer.

This email was one of the best things I’ve read since starting this site – I feel like something I’ve written went out there into the darkness, touched someone, and profoundly changed them. Some thoughts:

She traded her car for an education. To me, this spoke highly of the maturity of this twenty year old. When I was twenty, I can’t say that I would have made such a choice – it takes some serious bravery to go without a car in those heady youthful times. The truth is, though, that it was the right choice – with her job and her classes available by foot and by public transport, she doesn’t have a major day-to-day need for a car right now, and the ongoing cost of the car (insurance and any payments she might be making) would just drag her down. Plus, that car money opened the door to education.

She likely also came up with health coverage. Depending on the college (I got the impression that it was a smaller liberal arts college, not a community college, but I may be wrong), she might have access to health coverage via her student fees at the school – at the very least, access to a student health center. If that’s the case, then she is in substantially better shape than before having no health coverage at all.

She’s investing her energy in herself instead of giving it away to a factory. During the daytime hours during the week when her energy and focus are peaking, she’s attending classes to better herself. Her job, in terms of when her concentration is peaking, is secondary, as it should be when you have a job to afford to live, not trying to build a career.

She quit her job to take a lower paying one – and it was probably the best personal finance move of her life.

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  1. Andamom says:

    That’s wonderful. I hope you have her email address so that you can correspond with her periodically to see what additional progress she has made. And, Trent, I am sure it is just the start of tons of fan-mail!

  2. orta says:

    I started reading a few days back, so there’s a lot of backstory still to read, but that’s amazing, congrats to the lady who emailed in!

  3. Its very nice to know how she used the information on your blog and took a dicisions after working out the numbers. Your point on conserving energy for something productive which we enjoy is very important.

  4. FFB says:

    That’s a great result. My wife and I have looked at our income this way. A year back I took a new job with a great pay raise, but when I analyzed my time, and expenses, and all the other things about the job, it ended up being even. And now I commute 30 miles instead of 4.

    Great job keeping people informed about their options in life!

  5. Tyler says:

    I’m impressed with Kelly’s story as well. There are certainly so many people out there who could benefit the same way that she has from your tips. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Beau says:

    Just don’t forget to give Uncle Sam his cut — he figures you make 7.5% of your total sales in tips. Depending on how your employer works things, this could end up biting you later when it comes time to pay taxes.

  7. NickC says:

    Way to go Kelly!!!!

    Trent, you have a gift … keep on keeping on!

  8. AnitoKid says:

    Go Kelly! This is one of the best posts I had come across all these years! Good luck Kelly! We are all rooting for you!
    @simpledollar – Bravo! Keep those great posts coming! My hat’s off to you!

  9. shaz says:

    inspirational just what i like to see great blog.
    also noticed you have a whole lot of categorys and still seem to be doing great. just goes to show you can be general and still win

  10. Benji Gonzalez says:

    Congratulations Kelly!

    Trent, you’ve had a posting one day on this particular subject and if I remember correctly you were discouraged by the idea that a factory job wasn’t available as a alternative.

    My other question is how does someone with no skills go out and earn $12/hr an entry-level position? This anecdotal story contradicts everything we read or see in day-to-day news media, along with the common theme that factory jobs are desirable.

    Good luck with your education Kelly, use financial aid wisely and don’t borrow any more in student loans then you need and play close attention to what you may earn in your chosen area of study as compared to your repayment cost.

  11. Mahesh Kamat says:


    The original post about calculating net pay is a personalized version of an income statement. After reading it, I myself realized how our daily expenses un-seemingly affect in-hand pay…and though it seems so simple, I am sure it had a profound effect on all your readers.

    Thanks so much for all the precious advice.

  12. Mardee says:

    Good for her – and good for you for inspiring her! I wish I would have had that much financial and “soul” sense when I was her age.

  13. It takes information and knowing how and what to analyse to make up such a decision, reading posts by Trent defenitely helps. Her situation was similar to many covered in recent business week story ‘the poverty business’. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_21/b4035001.htm

  14. melissa h. says:

    Go Kelly!!! That rocks.

  15. Rita says:

    Kudos to you, Kelly! I wish you continued success! Your story is an inspiration to me and I hope many, many others. I am going to send this to a very important young person in my life in hopes that she too will become inspired and make some changes.

  16. Crys says:

    What a ridiculously inspiring story! Thanks for sharing :) I think I’d like to see what my time is worth now.

  17. Tracy says:

    Geez louise, this brought tears to my eyes. Kelly’s maturity and courage are truly inspiring. I can’t wait to see what she makes from her life. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  18. ablemabel says:

    brought tears to my eyes too! congratulations Kelly! you are on your way to being one of those “millionaires next door”.

    Trent – congratulations to you too. I only recently found your site and have spent hours reading back articles. I’m happy for you to be experiencing such a glorious reward for all of your hard work.

  19. Some Woman says:

    What a great feel-good story! It made my day! My sister quit an office job to become a librarian’s assistant…she’s dirt poor now but her health has improved drastically now that she isn’t in a high stress job, and her self-esteem is better because she loves her job.

  20. fubek says:

    Way to go, girl! All the power to you.

  21. This is one of the goals of my blog. To some how be able to help people. That’s priceless.

  22. Andre says:

    Trent you are the man and I’ve sent MORE than a little bit of your wisdom and advice with friends and family. Links to your blog are always in my emails to folks I know. Keep it going man

  23. 60 in 3 says:

    What a great post! Just a note though, she didn’t take a lower paying job. She took a job that seemed to pay less but really ended up with a higher positive impact on her cashflow and networth because there were less negatives associated with it. That’s really smart and shows someone who understands what personal finance is all about.


  24. I think it really only works out because she decided to get the education. Otherwise, the lower paying factory might have had more room for growth than the waitressing job. You might want to consider this in the calculation.

    For instance a lot of medical students don’t make much money for the hours they work – especially after their education. They shouldn’t just quit and do something else, because they are building towards a higher paying job.

  25. TJ says:

    This reminds me of a similar comment made on Metafilter sometime recently, by someone who’s working 20-hour weeks and very happy about their life. They just eliminated the things they didn’t really need.

    If we make the right moves, we can rub off the stick with the carrot on it. We don’t have to settle for half a life. We don’t have to give our life energies to making others lives rich.

  26. KMull says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome.

  27. Steve says:

    Good for her!

    If the young lady who sent the email is reading this …keep up the good work and don’t let any naysayer steal your thunder.

    “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

  28. Maki says:

    Great move and I’m glad you were able to help her.

    For the next step, she should set up one or two blogs and do some paid posting or reviews.. that’ll probably make her an equal or larger amount of money from her waitressing job and she won’t even have to leave the house and can concentrate on her studies.

    Imagine getting paid $8 for writing a simple blog post that takes only 15 minutes.

    I do think there’s a lot of easy money to be made through the web and unfortunately she’s missing out on quite a bit by being technologically uninformed.

  29. Amazing says:

    Great Story, this should be a serious life lesson to anyone who is not in a ‘career’

    Put all your investments in you and your time…

    great job Kelly!

  30. Will says:

    its a nice feeling when your blog actually makes a difference to someones real life.

  31. Tess says:

    Way to go Kelly. I am in a slightly similar situation, and also have to sincerely thank you for this blog. I am 21 and working full time to put myself through school at night and on the weekend. I live in a major city where cost of living is very expensive, and between rent and tuition about 75% of my take home pay is gone right off the bat. Before I used this as an excuse that I didn’t have enough money to save anything. Between this blog and getrichslowly I’ve realized that even I can cut back some expenses and invest in my future. I’m glad that other people my age are thinking the same way. Thank you for giving inspiration to all of us who are trying to improve our lives one step at a time!!

  32. Fred says:

    Great site. I once downsized a car to save money, I have no one to impress but myself. After downsizing from a sport untility to a saturn i save tons of simple dollars. Plus I enjoyed driving the saturn. BTW it was used and I only did it to save more.

  33. Jennifer says:

    I have done the same thing. Before starting my family, I worked as a catering manager for a major hotel in Houston. Once the babies started coming, child care was KILLING us. (not to mention I LOATHED giving my babies to somebody else to “raise”!) My husband and I had a heart to heart. We needed a second income to live, but nothing said I had to work “regular hours”. A friend of mine owned a bakery and needed a delivery person. Hubby workes Monday through Friday and I deliver wedding cakes on weekends. (usually just Saturdays but, sometimes on Sunday too!) On paper, the hotel job paid WAY more, but what I save in child care, clothing, dry cleaning, lunches, gas, etc., I actually make nearly TWICE what I made working full time! Our children are nearly ALWAYS with a parent instead of a care giver and that bonus is priceless!

  34. laurel says:

    Excellent example of what can happen to a person’s finances when they actually calculate their true hourly rate. I too took a pay cut going into my current job (a 20% cut), but the lower stress and better management more than compensates. Plus the dress code is different, allowing me to wear the clothing I already have, and the work atmosphere is positive. Money is NOT all there is in a job.

    Also, bravo for her in giving up her car! She used the car (“auto equity”) to begin funding her career! Smart smart gal! The Simple Dollar is obviously making a big difference in people’s lives.

  35. James B says:

    In February 2006 I quit my job as a server in downtown Toronto to focus full time on my freelance videography career. I vowed to never work in the restaurant industry again.

    Just a few months later, in May, my father passed away and left behind the restaurant he had ran for the past 39 years. I made the decision to leave friends, family, a budding independent career and the big city behind. I moved back to my hometown of 11,000 people to start a new life as a resaturanteur.

    There are tons of benefits to being my own boss and running a business, but after a couple years of doing so I started to realize that I had basically inherited a job. I traded my days away for a place to live and food to eat. I wanted my time back and began to search online (again) for a way to create an income.

    In February of 2008 I joined a business that has been propelling me down my success path and giving me the tools to be not only financially free, but allowing me to buy my time freedom. I have leveraged my time at the restaurant by working online from my office.

    Although mentally I had committed to stay here until 2011 I am thinking that sometime next year (’09) I will be putting the business on the market so I can concentrate fully on working online.

    I have done so much personal development, mindset and success training and gotten in touch with my spirituality over the past 6 months. I know a lot of people think all that stuff is fluff but I am walking, talking, living proof that what you think about comes about.

    I live in an abundance mindset now in all areas of my life. When you can express gratitude for the things you have in your life and not focus on what you think you’re lacking your life will begin to change.

    However, I don’t think this is the only key. Kelly’s story is an example of someone taking Massive Action. That is one of the greatest keys to success. She made some drastic changes to her life and is coming out ahead. The fear of change, loss, or suffering does NOT occupy her anymore – look at all the positives she’s listed about her current life. ACTION. MASSIVE ACTION will breed amazing results.

    Anyway…I just love reading stories about people who take a stand for their own well being and actually DO SOMETHING about it.

    I wish everyone well and make it a great day!

  36. Sonja says:

    I am so happy for Kelly!! I know this was posted a while back but I just came across the site. I think her story shows the incredible maturity and life skills she has to become successful! Thanks to you for inspiring her!

  37. jana says:

    what a story. i wonder what she is doing now – have you heard from her since?

  38. Jesse says:

    I’m really interested to see what Kelly is up to now. It’s been two years since this was posted, quite enough time to hit (and hopefully overcome) a major stumbling block or two.

  39. Jaree says:

    Today I quit my job and I was with them for six months. Its an Auto Recovery Company so basically the devils company. I am twenty-two and I basically started working at eighteen. Its scary out there in the world and especially when you have no parental support. My father has died and my mother well she has more mood swings than Edgar Allan Poe. To be honest prior to this job I worked for a company shipping Falcon parts all around the world which I thought was awesome but the manager is what killed it. Same with this job. I honestly do not know what else to say other than the best thing is to move on when you sense that “hostile” behavior. It is not worth it to work somewhere you hate just for the money. Sometimes in life we have to stand up for ourselves and its probably one of the hardest things to do. Never think of the negative when you want to make a choice. Think of the positive. What will come and what will make a difference. This story is awesome and you sound very mature. My story is much longer but I will spare you. I hope you are doing great!

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