Not today. But soon. Yes, I know the title is a little click-bait-y but I'm serious; I am quitting my 9-5 soon.
I have worked in the engineering field for 14 years. I have rose through the ranks and I'm at a point of no return. If I continue in my career path, I can make good money and live a decent life, but I'll be stuck here forever and I will never be content. You see, I don't like working for someone else. In fact, I actually hate it. Hence why I started my own business, CMG Venture Group, in 2016. That's right, I've had a company for 5 years with nothing to show. Ok, not nothing, I've had little projects here and there, but overall, I would categorize it as a fail thus far.
The problem has always been fear and self-doubt. Can I really walk away from this well paying job and do this full time? Am I actually capable of running my own business? What if I fail and have to start all over? All these questions paralyzed me and prevented me from moving forward. Until now.
If you've read my Getting Personal blog, you'll know that I have been investing since 2008. And in 2017, after finding the FIRE subreddit (Financial Independence, Retiring Early), I decided to go full throttle with my investing. Every additional penny went into retirement funds or my self directed investment account. My goal wasn't necessarily retirement at the time. Rather, it was the freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted, like maybe actually commit to that company I started.
Side note - Because I am being open and honest, I also found wallstreetbets around the same time so you know I opened an account just for options. Which, by the way, I still have and use for fun. Hey, I'm not perfect; I'm just an ape in this crazy world.
Back to the story - Last year, after 3 years of FIRE and to help achieve that freedom I desire, I set out a goal to pay off my student loans completely by the end of the year. In total, I had around $33,500 remaining of the $89,000 that I began with. I had been paying a little extra every month, but it wasn't enough. The interests on these loans ranged from 5% to 9% and I no longer wanted the burden of debt over my head. Yes, I still have a mortgage on the condo, but it is cheaper than any rent in NYC, so it's a wash in my opinion. Naturally, I resorted to my budget spreadsheet (get your free copy when you sign up for our newsletter) and came up with a plan to pay off the loans by the end of 2020. This is not our actual budget, just a sample of the sheet:
We were on budget in January and February. Then COVID struck in March. Between cooking at home, not traveling for work and not being able to go out at all, our spending was significantly reduced and we found ourselves with a large surplus every month. This accelerated my repayment plan and all loans were paid off by the end of September. Goal complete!
Setting a goal and accomplishing it is one of the best feelings in the world. And having no student loan debt over my head was a close second. I've spoke my peace about the scam that is the american dream, but student loans really trigger me. You are essentially handicapping someone just starting out in the world by forcing them into debt. And it's expected; it's normalized. It's absurd. But I digress.
Between my investments and the cloud of debt removed from over my head, I suddenly felt a taste of that freedom I desired. And I wanted more. That self doubt was suddenly gone. Perhaps I could actually launch my business without the fear of failure. So, my wife and I discussed the idea and she was on board. We would game plan in October and launch our website in November.
The first question was where to focus the business. My ultimate goal was to help friends and family with their personal finances. I've heard them talk about their finances and struggles, but never really shared our experience for fear of resentment or... I don't know honestly. That damn fear again. But I just wanted to share what I knew, what I had learned, not make money from it. Turns out a business with no revenue is not really a good recipe for success, so we needed an idea for income. I knew I could make money with my engineering experience, especially with the focus on energy conservation in the city. And with my wife in marketing and brand development, we could also incorporate that into the business. So we launched in December with that as our focus. Yes, we missed our November goal, but we still completed the goal and that's all that matters.
With the launch of the website, it also gave me the platform to share my financial knowledge. The first blog started as a place for friends and family to read and learn. We received a ton of feedback and questions on topics. We even had several people have inform us of changes they've made in their spending patterns, others paying off debts and some have even began investing for the first time in their lives. That alone is a huge success in my books, and makes this all worthwhile.
In February, we started an Instagram account to post more frequently about investing and personal finance. We make "Finance 101" posts where we provide visuals and a short explanation on investing or personal finance topics. Below is our latest post from this week:
We also have "Market Watch" posts, where we outline a stock we are watching or currently own and walk you through our research process. Below is a post on Home Depot, which we own:
We share tweets, sometimes motivational:
And we even give you a look into our own personal portfolio:
In two months, our page has grown to nearly 300 followers. That may not seem like a lot of people, but we only started with a small group of friends and family, (see our blog views), so it means the world to know that people find value in what I set out to do.
So, why am I quitting my job soon? There's a few factors. One - If I continue in my career, I may be stuck there forever. And that is not an option. Two - I no longer have debt and fear holding me back from my dream of freedom. Not to mention we always have our nest egg and investments to fall back on thanks to FIRE. Three - What I have yet to mention is that we have landed 3 projects since we launched the website, which bolsters the idea that we can be successful on our own. And four - the most important factor of all - I'm finding value in helping people and sharing my financial knowledge and experiences. As cliché as it sounds, I feel fulfilled and excited everyday. And if you know me, I'm relatively stoic with my emotions, so that is saying quite a lot.
When I really sit back and think about it, the real question is why wouldn't I be quitting my 9-5? I can work for myself and help others at the same time. I can do what I want. That's true freedom and that's my ultimate goal.
Let me know in the comments if you agree or if you think I'm crazy for wanting to leave my job.