I haven’t been shy about stating one of the main drivers for our pursuit of Financial Independence is my attitude towards the corporate grind. My issues aren’t personal, I just don’t like when other people have control over my time and decisions. No biggie. I get a little control-freaky over those two things. While I have spent the last few years carving out the most ideal situation possible while still working in the office, I am not calling my current role “my passion” or a “dream job.” Admitting that, in any public or social media forum, automatically leads to this advice:
Why don’t you start a business and become an entrepreneur?
Why don’t you do something that you love?
Do what you love and never work another day in your life (blah)
Logical questions and I don’t disagree with the thought or theory behind them (except for the cliche phrase that is burned into stained wood at every craft fair). But for a slew of reasons I am going to talk through below, it is not the right time to make a life destabilizing choice. A choice that has massive implications for my family, time, and income.
More importantly, no one has offered to pay me a butt load of cash to taste test craft beers while sitting in my ice house or on the beach.
Why we are doubling down on the 9 to 5
I have noticed an interesting theme in how I look at risk over the last few months. As the market corrected and thousands of dollars flew out of our investment accounts, it was a little unnerving (this was the biggest fall I have seen to date), but I still slept like a baby when a baby wasn’t waking me up.
What I spent a lot more time thinking about was:
- Do we have enough in our emergency fund
- How secure are our jobs
- What is our cash flow situation (both in and out)
I am going to dig into those further in my next post, but they align really well with the idea of making a significant career change or going the entrepreneur route. When it comes to money in the market, I am comfortable with significant ebbs and flows. When it comes to our day to day life, I am not.
When Mrs. AE and I sat down and went through an exercise about our priorities around money, the consistent trend was family and security. Even though our family is complete, and we have decent security buffers in place (without tapping into our retirement accounts) making a career change or sliding into uncertainty still makes me shudder.
It is the same feeling I get when I look into living on one income even though we could afford it. Going from two incomes to one (or one that is far less than what we each earn now) puts a lot more pressure on the spouse that stays in the workforce. It makes you even MORE reliant on that person keeping their job and their check coming in.
Speaking of security – let’s talk about healthcare!
That is how much money my employer paid for our health coverage on TOP of the $5,000 in premiums we paid in 2018. Even with above-average coverage that was heavily subsidized by my employer, we still paid almost $4,000 out of pocket in medical expenses in 2018.
I could look at 2017 and 2018 as outliers since the bulk of the medical costs are related to having babies, but one look at what the bill was before our health insurance kicked in is enough to make you sick. That could just as easily be a broken bone or a mini hospital stay for a mildly serious illness (once you hear about a couple co-workers kids heading to the hospital for pneumonia/influenza for multiple days it sticks with you).
Since both of us work, it is feasible to transfer the work to the other spouse but that does some nasty stuff to the math. As in our healthcare costs eat up a larger chunk of our overall income (the income we are 100% dependent on now). Also, when you have two options you get to pick the best one…we could be stuck with higher premiums and higher deductibles.
I love not having to worry if our checks are going to hit our bank accounts on paydays.
After seeing what freelancers deal with to get paid (invoicing, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, maybe today!) I no longer take our regular payday schedule for granted.
This situation brings up another interesting “Money is Power” thread. Employers definitely have power, but so does the person you need to collect from (a lot of the time after the work is already done!). I get pissed badgering friends and family members to pay me for the annual fishing trip, doing that for money to pay the bills sounds awful right now.
When all you see and hear from are successful people that made their business or blog work full time, you start to get the sense that anyone can do this. The people who quit, fail or realize this path isn’t for them don’t have their voices amplified.
After seeing hundreds of blogs start, burn out and crash since I started this site I know it’s not an easy space to win in. google new business failure rates and you will see some pretty startling statistics (20-50%+ disappear in the first few years).
A Cash Buffer Isn’t Always Enough
One thing that intrigues me about the “build a cash buffer” approach is you are assuming two things:
- Your new business idea will work before the cash buffer runs out
- If your idea doesn’t work you can pick up work without any issues
We would need something that has a proven track record, over a decent time span (minimum of one year) before being confident enough in our plan.
For the crowd that has insanely low expenses, covering the cost of living might not be that big of a deal. Mix in a couple kids and a mortgage (not to mention debt if you still have it) and it becomes a lot more difficult.
The Corporate World is Easy…
On top of the consistent paychecks, healthcare and other benefits I won’t get into right now (*cough* 401k benefits *cough*) the corporate world, once you are established is pretty easy. Half the battle is showing up and doing exactly what is expected of you, which is laid out by the company or your manager. If you can go a few steps beyond that, in the right company, you can make serious jumps in income.
Contrast that with having to figure out:
- Web Design
- How much you are willing to invest
- 1.5 million other things I have little experience with
Summed up, there is a long list of things to learn before I would feel prepared. Jumping in with knowledge/expectation gaps would be way too overwhelming and would set the table for a disaster.
Where to go from here
This doesn’t mean I am abandoning passion projects that can turn into something bigger than a side hustle or extra income opportunity. In fact, I have been putting some hours in behind the scenes to launch something that I am excited about, it just isn’t getting my full attention (or even 1/10th of it) right now.
To start I am going to focus on proving out some concepts before investing too much time (and money).
If it makes a spark, it will get more time.
If it makes a flame, even more time.
To get my full income generating attention, it needs to be a raging bonfire that can compete with my full-time income at my (fairly) secure, consistent, easy, healthcare providing day job.
I imagine after one day I will look back and drop the classic line “I wish I would have started sooner” but for now, we are doubling down on the 9 to 5 to fuel our accounts.