Don’t Let Money Control Your Life

Get yourself out of debt

Since becoming a freelancer I have sometimes felt like I’ve scrambled to make ends meet. Truthfully, however I’ve always had money that I could pull from in these moments. I just don’t want to become comfortable with that idea and pull from all of my backup money. At the end of the day, however, to me money is a renewable source. I always have the ability to make more. If I need to get a job tomorrow, I know I could. I just prefer this life that I’ve created for myself and my family.

Money and Security

Where does our fear of money and security come from?

For the past year I have been trying to let go and let life lead me with regard to money. I know that the Universe will always provide for me monetarily. Despite knowing this, however, I could not let myself completely trust and let go.

This weekend I realized that the reason I could not let go was because to me money represents security. Therefore, I didn’t want to trust anyone but myself for providing me with this security.

Five Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Job

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When I initially decided to leave my job I actually changed my mind a week later and then re-changed my mind a week after that. Because I had a family that depended on the income my job provided I couldn’t just get up and quit.

The process for deciding to quit was as complicated as I was willing to make it. When I played around with the idea I thought about every single detail I had to consider if I quit. Eventually all of the details became overwhelming and I basically ended up talking myself out of it. This is why I changed my mind about leaving.

There are so many things to consider when you decide to quit your job. Narrowing these things down will help make the decision easier. For me, the following are the top five things I took into account before I made the leap and quit.

1. You’re not going to have it all figured out

I am a planner. I plan everything. My phone and notebooks are filled with to-do lists that I continually check off as things get done. Before I take on a big project I sit down and write out all of the steps required in order to complete the project. When I don’t have a blueprint, a checklist or a guide I feel lost. I like when things are straightforward and make sense.

However, life is not straightforward and it doesn’t always make sense. So, if you’re like me and feel the need to have things all figured out before you leave your job, let me be the first to tell you that you won’t. Even if you think you have it all figured out, things are likely to change somewhere along the way – let them.  Having a predictable life may seem safe, but it isn’t always enjoyable. Don’t let predictability be the reason you don’t follow your intuition.

2. Financial Matters

One of the reasons I was able to leave my job at this point in my life is because I had been paying a lot of attention to my finances far before I decided to quit. In my 20s I began to save aggressively and I currently have a pretty diverse financial portfolio. I also have little debt.  When making a decision like leaving your job, you are always going to wish you had more saved and had spent less in the past. Instead of wishing you had more, ask yourself if you have enough.

Enough will look different for everyone, but enough is what will make you feel comfortable to leave. Find out how much you need to survive on a monthly basis and then figure out how much enough is for you – three months of savings, six months, one year or more? Make this a goal worth saving towards, or if you have already saved your “enough” amount, check the financial piece off of your list.

3. Determine what will make you happy in the long run

Many people know that they are unhappy in their current jobs and they may even know the reasons why they are unhappy. However, few people actually know what will make them happy or bring them long-term joy with regard to work. This is why people continually jump from one job to another.

This is similar to that friend you know that is always in a new relationship as soon as he or she gets out of the last one. Before the friend can figure out what he or she requires in a long-term relationship, they are too afraid to be alone and grab the first guy or girl they see that look like they have potential. This new guy or girl looks different on the outside, however internally he or she is very similar to the last partner and you already know that they will eventually break up.

Don’t be afraid to be alone. That’s what your savings is for. To give you that comfort to be able to figure out what it is that brings you joy. Don’t go jumping into the next job, because you are scared you’ll run out of money. You’ll likely become unhappy at some point and never break this cycle.

Find out what makes you happy with work, with life, and write down your goals. From there,  figure out what you can do to make money that includes these things that bring you joy, and what you can do that will push you towards achieving your goals.

4. Talk to others

When the thought of leaving my job entered my mind I really thought I was going crazy. I am so thankful for Nic because he usually always supports whatever insane ideas I bring up, and this case was no different. However, this decision felt so big to me that I needed some validation and input from others.

As I continually told people I was thinking about leaving my job, surprisingly no one flat out told me I was crazy. Most asked what I was planning to do. When I told them I was planning on working for myself, freelancing or contracting, I got funny looks sometime, but for the most part the response was that they understood why I had decided to leave and that it wasn’t as crazy as I felt it was.

When I asked my sister what she thought about me quitting, she reminded me that I had always achieved the things I set out to do, so this should be no different. I had a light bulb moment at this point. I have always been a dreamer and for the most part I have always been able to achieve those dreams, but somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming. When we are young we believe we can do and be anything or anyone we want to be, but as we get older we or society or both make us believe that this is no longer possible. I will never stop dreaming again.

Talk to people, even if you are only playing around with the idea of leaving your job. Especially talk to people who you know will be brutally honest with you. Share your dreams with others. The more you do this the less crazy it will feel. Eventually it will turn into a goal you can soon make a reality.

5. What’s the worst that can happen?

When planning to leave your job you should not only think about the good things that will come out of it, but also consider the worst things that can happen. Most of the time, the worst thing is not as bad as you think. For me, the worst thing that could happen is that I start draining my savings and eventually will have to go back to work a 9 to 5.

Maybe it’s because I survived the Great Recession without being laid off, or that I’ve never felt like a job was beneath me, or maybe it’s because I’m young, but job security has never been an issue for me. Should I have to go back to work, I told myself, it shouldn’t be a problem and I will consider this self-employed time an extended maternity leave.

Set yourself up to succeed, however if it doesn’t work out don’t despair. I know I won’t. At least you can say you tried it, which is more than what most people can say. Life is too short to not follow your dreams, however it is usually long enough where if your dreams don’t work out or if they change, you will usually have another opportunity to create a different path for yourself.

Why I Quit My Successful Silicon Valley Career

why I left my career

Friday was my last day of work. When I put in my notice before our big move I let my company know that I would be happy to work for them remotely. They took me up on the offer, but only temporarily as they looked for a replacement.

I’m thankful to have had the continuous income during this transition. I can’t deny that I am nervous to no longer have that sense of financial security. However, I am also excited to create the life that works best for my family.

Making Sense of Nonsense

As I went deeper into my career the disconnect between what I was giving up for a paycheck became more apparent. As a recent college graduate, I was stunned when I realized that I only had two weeks of vacation a year. This calculates out to about 10 days that I could claim for myself. 10 days out of an average of 250 something work days. Suddenly college life didn’t seem so bad. There were long breaks that allowed for rest, rejuvenation and adventure. College also consisted of more freedom – no one told me where I needed to study or write to my papers. They only told me when those things needed to be done. I didn’t have to report to anyone if I didn’t feel like going to class. I also had the ability to choose my schedule.  

It didn’t make sense to me that the professional world didn’t follow similar guidelines. However, like most people, I just accepted that this was just the way that life was. That there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Maybe one day I’d make it to the top of the corporate ladder, I thought. Then I’d be able to dictate my life and schedule.

Well, I never made it to the top of that ladder. I’m afraid of heights anyway, so it was probably best that I never did. If you read my first post, you know that I had tried to get my work schedule to align with my personal goals, however with Sissy Boo only a few months old and having not received any confirmation, I decided that I simply did not have the time to spare and needed to take matters into my own hands. I was ready to reclaim control of my time because no one else was going to do it for me.

Leaving the Box

I was listening to a podcast before I decided to leave my job. The episode was about placing a mouse in a box from birth. The mouse believed that there was nothing outside of what was in the box because that was all it knew. However, once it got older, the mouse was released from the box. It then discovered that there was this whole other world outside of the box.

I also hope to discover this other world. A world where you can provide for your family but don’t need to give up 40 or more physical hours a week. The world has changed so drastically in the last few decades. Technology has made things so much more efficient, yet people are working more now than ever before.

Who am I?

As a society we are so attached to our work and careers. Many of us, myself included, have forgotten or have never even discovered the things we love to do. The things we are passionate about outside of work.

I worked for one of the biggest tech companies in the world. I took pride and felt accomplished when I landed the job, but at the end of the day a job is just that – a job. It doesn’t define who you are, what you care about, and it shouldn’t be the main or whole source of one’s identity. What would you do with all of your time if you never had to work again? I am just beginning to try and answer this. There are plenty of people who are not completely happy with work, but have made enough money or have enough passive income to retire, yet they choose not to. I believe part of the reasoning is because their careers have become their identities.

Success is highly tied to money and a career, but these things don’t tell you much about a person at all. They don’t tell you what brings that person joy, what fears they wish they could overcome and the values they hold close to their hearts. While I was trying to do what was best for my career I forgot about the things that were best for me as a human being.

Learning more about myself and rediscovering my passions is what I’m most excited about for this next phase of my life. This post isn’t a bash on the corporate world and it isn’t a call for everyone to leave the workforce. What it is is a plea for you to be honest with yourself. If that little voice in your head is telling you something isn’t right in your life because of your job or career, don’t ignore it. Listen to it and let it lead you to the life you were destined for.

Four Ways I am Embracing Minimalism

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In the last few months I have really started to embrace minimalism. What I have learned about minimalism is that everyone’s idea of it is different. For some it means living with only the bare necessities and for others it means a nice big farmhouse on a couple of acres. Whatever your definition of minimalism is, at the end of the day it should give you peace and joy in your life.

Minimalism has allowed me to get rid of the things in my life that don’t really matter and that don’t bring me joy. It has given me more time, more money and more peace of mind. The following are four ways I have incorporated minimalism into my life.

How Warren Buffet Taught me to Save for my Kids

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Lack of Money Lessons

When we were younger and received money for birthdays or holidays my father would keep this money in a safe. I don’t think he had any intention to do anything else with the money but to just keep it there. There were no lessons on what we should do or what we could do with the money, so most of the time we just left the money there. There were occasions where my siblings and I would ask for our money to buy a toy or something similar. Depending on the amount requested my father would either give us the money or tell us that the requested amount was too much.

I’m not sure what happened to all of my money, but I’m sure somehow or someway I used it on things like toys and candy.

Now that I have children of my own, I have had to think about how I am going to teach them about money. I don’t blame my parents for not teaching me the things I am learning now, how could they when they didn’t even know themselves? All I know is that I have to do more to instill responsible healthy feelings towards money in my children.

Monetary Gifts Roll In

Most people figure that they will start teaching their kids about money when the children are old enough to ask for stuff like toys, treats or cars. However, I believe it should start well before then. We had a blessing ceremony for Kuya when he was 8 months old and that is where he received his first monetary gifts. Some parents see their child’s gift money as theirs and spend it as is, some parents may “borrow” the money with the intention to pay it back, some stick it in a bank account and some hold onto it and let the child decide what to do with it once they are older like my parents did.

I stuck Kuya’s money in a bank account. Personally, I don’t believe in using money given to my child even if that money is being spent on items for the child, like diapers. Kuya’s birthday rolled around shortly after his blessing ceremony and he received more monetary gifts. I soon started to realize that he had more in savings than many adults did and even though the money was sitting in a high interest savings account I felt that there were probably better options out there.

I discussed options with Nic and we decided to keep the money in the savings account until Kuya started kindergarten. Once that time came, we would transfer whatever he had received up to that point into a 5-year or more CD. That had continued to be the plan until one day when I learned more about Warren Buffet.

My Wikipedia Obsession Pays Off

One thing I like to do in my spare time is read up about people that I find fascinating and discover how they got to where they are today – thank you Wikipedia! Most people know that Warren Buffet is one of the wealthiest men on earth, but I don’t believe a lot of people know his very early childhood story – at least I didn’t. It turns out that Buffet’s attitude towards money began when he was a child. At 11 Mr. Buffet purchased stock for the first time – three shares for himself and three for his sister. He continued investing in businesses through high school and purchasing real estate with savings. By the time Buffet finished college he had more than $90,000 in savings (measured in 2009 dollars). To me this was fascinating. Most adults can’t even fathom the idea of having $90,000 in savings, let alone someone who had just finished college.

I knew after reading this that a CD wasn’t going to give my kids the options they would have with other investments. I will save my overview on the stock market for another post, but at the end of the day we decided to invest Kuya and Sissy Boo’s monetary gifts in index funds. These funds can gain anywhere between 6-9% interest which beats a CD’s 1.25% average.

The following table shows the contrast between a CD and an index fund over 18 years. The calculations were made using the compound interest calculator found here.

CD Index Fund
Interest Rate 1.25% 6-9% (on average)
Initial investment $1,000 $1,000
Monthly Contribution 0* $10
TOTAL after 18 years $1250.58 $6,583

*CDs don’t allow you to add money. The deposit amount is fixed. Another reason why I’m choosing to go with index funds.

The index fund rate used in the table calculations is 6% to be conservative. Had it been 9%, which is usually the case when working with a long time horizon, the total would actually be around $9,673.

Saving for the Future

Both Nic and I have big families so our kids get so many gifts from family. I realized that if Nic and I never bought Kuya and Sissy Boo any physical gifts again they probably wouldn’t even notice. So now instead of buying toys or clothes for birthdays or holidays like we normally would, we will simply add money into their investment accounts.

I will continue to teach Kuya and Sissy Boo everything I have learned about money so that by the time they are adults they can make responsible decisions when it comes to money. My hope is that our decision to invest their money will allow them to have more options and opportunities later in life. This should allow them to live their lives intentionally from an early start and not feel the need to go through the motions with careers that they may not love in order to just get a paycheck.

How I Stopped Being a Shopaholic

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Prior Shopping Habits

I used to pride myself on scoring great deals. From clothes to makeup to crafts nothing was off limits in my book. The ability to find items at 25-50% or more off of retail prices made me feel like a winner in the money and savings game.

Since committing to living a life of intention I began to reflect on my old ways. I have come to realize that in the past I loved the high I got from scoring a deal more than the actual items themselves. The proof was all around me – the dozens of makeup items I scored that just sat around collecting dust. The clothes I bought at 60% off that still had tags on them. Not to mention the canvases in the basement that I was going to use for a DIY project. Because of our move I was forced to face all of these items and it was painful.

I may have gotten these items at great prices, but how great is a deal if I don’t even end up using the items? I’ve created waste and clutter rather than saved myself money.

My Shopping Revelation

When it comes to makeup I can now admit that I am a makeup hoarder. I follow dozens of makeup artists on Instagram and I envy the skills they use to perfect their eyebrows. I admire the way they are able to contour and transform their faces. One day, I would always think to myself, I will learn how to do that. With that mindset, every time Sephora had a giveaway where I could get products for free if I purchased X amount I went for it. Score! I could buy the things I “need” and get things I want to try for free. But I never used a lot of these free products. Why would I, when I don’t even use some of the things I “needed”.

Along with makeup I am so good at scoring deals with clothes. So good that I have a bunch of unworn items with tags on them that I even forgot I had! I’m 4’11”, maybe 4’10” and ¾, but who’s counting? So unless I am able to find pants that can either be rolled up and still look cute or are in petite size I have to get them hemmed. I’ve gotten pants in the past that I knew would be too long for me for $10 or $20. I justified their purchases with the fact that hemming would only cost another $10 or so. Therefore, I was still getting a great deal. However, it really isn’t a great deal if it’s still sitting in the bag it came in.

The Damage

After all of this reflection I began to wonder how much I could have really saved if I had not spent this money. I began to look at the cold hard numbers. I purchase almost everything I buy with my credit or debit card so it was easy for me to search my prior spending. Stores where I typically get the greatest “deals” are Sephora, LOFT, Ann Taylor and Michael’s.

From January 31, 2015 to July 1, 2016 I spent a total of $678.68 at all of the above shops. $678.68!! To me this was just crazy. I could have used this money to pay off my debt more quickly, open an investment account, or take a mini vacation. In the past I would continually wonder what happened to all of my money and strategize ways to earn more money. However, the answer was right in front of me all along – stop spending on excess.

Hope for the Future

I can’t change the past but what I can do is change the way I purchase things in the future. Before buying something I now ask myself whether I truly need it. I determine this by evaluating whether the item brings real value into my life.

We live in a world of consumerism. We spend money on entertainment, clothes, and cars and then wonder where all of our money has gone and why we can’t pay our bills, save more, or pay off our debt. More is always better in today’s society, except when it’s not.

I am on a mission to get rid of the excess in my life, so that I can enjoy the things that really matter. Sure, I still buy makeup but only those that I actually use and I truly find valuable.  Will I buy clothes again in the future? Of course, but each piece purchased must have a purpose and bring some value into my life.

With this newfound mentality I suspect that I will be able to pay off my debt faster, which should provide more savings. I’m not sure how fast this will be, but I promise to continue to share this journey with you.