Quitting the guaranteed paycheck and great health insurance

September 14, 2012 by Sarah Legg

Four months ago I quit a great-paying, fabulous-benefitted full-time job to start a magazine. Working from home has been an interesting journey and I have learned a lot about staying motivated, managing finances and feeling healthy.

Since I was 14 I have worked. I slung meat into burritos. I edited my college newspaper. I worked in a laid-back office job. Then I worked in a great-paying office job – I burned myself out early.

So you might ask, ‘why the heck would you quit a great-paying job in this economy?!’

For the sake of my health and sanity, that’s why.

At 27, I had high blood pressure, but only when it was measured after a day at work. I had tinnitus in my ears that wouldn’t go away. I went to an audiologist who told me my hearing was fine and the ringing in my ears was most likely caused by stress. I coughed up blood from working in a stale basement environment. I cried for the first time ever about a job (I’m not the most emotional person so it takes a lot.) My stomach twisted into knots as I drove into the parking garage each morning. My mental and physical health was taking a toll.

For the first time in my life, I took a financial risk and didn’t take the ‘responsible’ path that ensured a paycheck and health insurance without a $10,000 deductible. I decided to start a local health and wellness magazine doing what I loved (journalism) about what I loved (health and wellness.)

While working from home on my own business, I have created different ways to stay motivated and managing finances without guaranteed income. These won’t work for everyone, but for me, they have helped me in my journey.

It’s not every day that I see tangible progress in my new position. I sometimes feel like I am lazy or I haven’t done anything and feel guilty about not working hard enough. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love working from home and the thought of going back to an office makes me want to vomit, so it’s important for me to follow my own advice to avoid ever having to do so.

1.    Motivation

I have found motivation for me comes from seeing projects accomplished. Due to the nature of my profession, results aren’t always immediate which can make me feel like I’ve done nothing. To keep myself motivated and reassure myself I am not being lazy and actually getting stuff done, I write everything down that I’ve done for the day. This list creates an immediate feeling of accomplishment. It’s amazing what I can accomplish in one day without even realizing it.

2.    Finances

I live off the savings I accrued over the last six or so months of my office job until things start to pick up. Knowing a paycheck isn’t guaranteed every week is motivation enough for me to start to track expenses and slow the bleeding of my bank account. I have never been a receipt person, but now that I can claim expenses on my taxes, receipts have taken over my wallet. Keeping receipts also provides the opportunity to track all money going out which can be very eye-opening. As I add up my expenses at the end of each week (I do this weekly to make changes to my spending habits more quickly) I can see where I need to cut spending and can keep everything organized for my taxes at the end of the year.

3.    Budgeting

With finances comes the dreaded b-word…budget. I have to admit, I am not the best when it comes to sticking to my own budget, but once I started tracking it more closely, I’ve gotten better. Email me if you would like a sample of the budget sheet I use. This gives me an idea of what I need to earn each month and what I can spend. It also helps me see where I can cut expenses as needed. It also keeps me aware of the amount of debt I have, savings I put away and how much I spend on fun. Be realistic when creating a budget. It sounds obvious, but don’t estimate too low for the month and don’t strain yourself on fun money, or you’ll find yourself spending more than you’ve allotted before you have even begun.

As I continue to work on my own business from home, I am sure I will learn more about what I need to do to be successful. I may not have the amazing insurance or the large paycheck anymore, but I feel healthier and calmer and couldn’t be happier doing it all myself.

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