Today, I have a guest post to from the excellent Cody Berman who writes at Fly To FI. Before I turn it over to Cody, I have to tell you something about myself.
I started at my first job when I turned 14. It was at McDonald’s for the princely sum of $3.35/hour, minimum wage at the time. From then until the time I turned 43, I never took more than a week off. During high school and college, it was part-time while school was in session and then full-time during spring and summer breaks. I took weeks off here and there, but never more than 5 days at a time. I was hell-bent on earning money and not much else mattered. This wasn’t healthy.
If I could do it over again, I would have slowed it all down. I would have taken longer breaks, perhaps even a sabbatical. And maybe I would have quit completely and worked on other things. And this is why I like Cody’s story so much. At the age of 23, Cody isn’t anything close to financially independent, but he figured out he didn’t like being a rat in the race and bowed out. I’m pretty sure he isn’t making the money now that he did at his corporate banking job, but there’s a lot more to life than a paycheck.
213 Days To Freedom
After my 7-month stint in corporate America, I realized that it just wasn’t for me. For 8+ hours per day, I would mindlessly fill spreadsheets and run analyses in Excel. I was bored out of my mind and felt like my soul was slowly being drained from my body. On nice days, I would stare out the window and wish more than anything that I was enjoying the outdoors.
Not only did I dislike my job, but I had a hellish two-hour commute each way. I was working a corporate banking job in Boston at the time and commuting from central Massachusetts. Don’t get me wrong, the pay was great, but the lifestyle was completely unsustainable. My time was so much more valuable than money.
I worked in corporate America for exactly 213 days and never plan to return. Here’s my journey.
The First 30 Days
The first 30 days in corporate banking weren’t so bad. I was in training for the first two weeks and had the chance to meet and learn from a lot of my co-workers across all different departments. It was cool to finally have my first “real” job!
I was learning new skills every day and felt like I was being challenged regularly. Don’t get me wrong, I was still sitting behind a computer for 8+ hours per day with a brutal commute, but it wasn’t so bad.
The best part about this “real job” were the steady paychecks… I could get used to that! Although I’d earned a decent income in college through my various side hustles, I never knew exactly what was coming every other week (and definitely not nearly as much).
90 Days In
By month 3, I started to assume some real responsibility. I was spearheading small projects, analyzing real deals, and trusted to complete certain tasks. I was definitely still learning a ton, but many of my daily activities were monotonous and repetitive.
In addition to the interesting projects above, I was also in charge of the not-so-fun tasks that “needed to be done”. As the newest member of the office, I should have expected as much. Nevertheless, it wasn’t too too bad.
The commute was starting to wear on me, but I still loved those fat bi-weekly paychecks and felt reasonably motivated.
150 Days In
After 5 months of working (and don’t forget my 2 hours of commuting… EACH WAY) in corporate banking, the long days were really starting to take a toll. Typically, on the train ride to and from work, I was energized and excited to work on my side hustles. At that time, I was running a disc golf company, blogging, podcasting, and freelancing (Doomsday Preppers… side hustle edition?).
Anyway, each day that passed, I felt my energy and motivation slipping away. I would force myself to continue to work on my side hustles, as they would eventually serve as my scapegoat. My performance at the gym was also noticeably declining. My workout sessions became shorter and my energy was a fraction of what it had previously been.
In the office, most of the excitement and “newness” had worn off. Day in and day out, my tasks were nearly identical. I started spending far too much time working on my own side hustle projects at work out of boredom and lack of fulfillment. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up.
Three Weeks Before The Day
Three weeks prior to day #213, I scheduled a meeting with my boss with a pit in my stomach. I told him that I would be leaving the company to pursue my entrepreneurial ventures. More specifically, that I’d be traveling on the road for the next three months on a book tour (shoutout to Grant Sabatier, author of Financial Freedom).
He was reasonably understanding and knew that there was no counter-offer he could make to convince me to stay. I sent an email out to the rest of my team explaining my decision and my plans moving forward. Most of them gave me the ole pat on the back and a sarcastic “good luck”, but seemed to respect my decision.
Some members of upper management were not pleased with my decision and had some not-so-nice things to say to me. I’ll leave those out 🙂
On that final day, day #213, I walked into the office filled with nervousness and excitement. I packed up all of my cubicle swag, returned all my company gear, and made my final walk around the office.
I said my goodbyes to all of my co-workers and walked out the front door with a feeling of bittersweet freedom. The date was January 31st, 2019. On February 1st, I started my new life as a full-blown entrepreneur, and haven’t looked back since.
Why did I even bother writing this article? I know there will be people who leave hateful comments and say things like “Wait ‘til he has to go back” or “He has no idea what he’s doing.” That’s fine. But the real reason I wrote this article was to inspire.
I see so many friends, family members, and other people who enter the workforce and literally watch their dreams, goals, and ambitions slowly disappear. They get so trapped in the day to day, that they forgot about all the things that they wanted to do, all the places they wanted to go, and all the things they wanted to become.
Life doesn’t have to be this way! If you’re reading a post on this site, you probably understand the power of compound interest, saving, and intentional spending. That stuff isn’t just for the spreadsheet nerds to gawk over, it can literally change your life!
If you don’t like your job, are unhappy with your current financial situation, or aren’t feeling fulfilled, there is nothing better you can do than to create the widest gap possible between your income and spending. The wider the gap, the more freedom you’ll have!
Although I didn’t focus on the numbers too much in this article, the entire time I was working in my corporate banking job I was saving 85+% of my income. In addition to my day job, I was literally spending every free minute building up my side hustles. Every additional dollar I earned outside of my day job pulled me one inch closer to freedom!
I know I am in a fortunate position. I know that I’ve never faced racism, sexism, or any kind of real oppression. I know that my story might not be replicable. But, if you take anything away from this article, just know that no matter what your situation is, there is a way out. I urge you to revitalize those dreams, goals, and ambitions from years past. Maximize your savings rate, increase your income, and start designing your dream life.
Thank you Cody for that healthy dose of inspiration!
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