Yesterday I released a “Quit Your Day Job” calculator. Here’s a guide on how to use the calculator and why I think it’s useful.
An Alternative to Complete Financial Independence
Financial independence is typically defined as having 25 times your annual expenses. So if you spend $40,000 per year then you need $1 million to be financially independent. Once you reach this point, there’s a high probability that your money will last you indefinitely and you’ll never have to work again if you don’t feel like it.
The only problem with financial independence is that it can take 15-20+ years to achieve for many people. That’s a much shorter working life than average, but it’s still a considerable amount of time.
Many people aren’t looking for complete financial independence. Instead, they’re looking to have enough savings to transition to a new job, start their own business, live off side-hustle income, or just work less hours.
But how can you know when you have enough savings to make this transition? This is where the “Quit Your Day Job” calculator can be helpful. It shows you exactly when you can leave your current day job and still maintain your net worth.
Let’s take a look at an example.
A Real Example
My current net worth is about $50,000. I earn around $65,000 each year after taxes. My annual expenses are around $20,000. I want to know when I can achieve complete financial independence and never have to work again. This means I plan on earning $0 yearly once I quit my day job. Plugging my numbers into the calculate I get:
Here’s what that path to financial independence would look like:
Based on annual expenses of $20,000, I would need (25 x $20,000) $500,000 to be financially independent. I could reach this point in 7.9 years.
But what if I plan on earning $10,000 per year from blogging and freelance work once I actually quit my day job? If I change the yellow slider to $10,000 I see that I can instead quit my job in just under 4 years:
Here’s what that financial path looks like:
Because I plan on earning $10,000 per year once I quit my job, I only need to work for another 3.9 years in order to save up a total of $264,000. At that point I’ll have enough savings and I’ll be earning enough income that I can cover my yearly expenses without my net worth decreasing at all.
But there’s one last point to be made: what if I want to achieve complete financial independence some day? I might enjoy part-time work, side-hustling, blogging, and freelancing now but maybe at some point in the future I’ll want to have the option to stop working entirely.
The last part of the calculator takes care of this calculation.
I know that if I quit my day job in 3.9 years and earn $10,000 per year that I can maintain my net worth, but if I earn anything more than that I’ll actually be increasing my net worth slowly over time. For example, if I instead earn $15,000 per year then I can achieve complete F.I. in 20.1 years after quitting my day job:
Here’s what that financial path would look like:
The Great Trade-Off
To put these numbers in context:
I’m 23 right now. With my current annual income and expenses I could achieve complete financial independence in 7.9 years around age 31.
Or I could quit my day job in 3.9 years around age 27 and maintain a net worth of $264,000 indefinitely by earning $10,000 yearly.
Or I could quit my day job at age 27, instead earn $15,000 each year and slowly increase my net worth until I achieve financial independence in 20.1 years at age 43.
There is a simple trade-off that everyone must make: you can choose to work for a longer stretch of time now and achieve complete F.I. The benefit here is that once you quit working you essentially never have to worry about money again. The drawback is that it could mean remaining in a job you hate for longer than necessary.
Or you could instead quit your job much sooner and take a “slow” approach to F.I. over the course of many years. The benefit here is that you can potentially start doing work you enjoy on your own terms much sooner than if you stick it out your current job. The drawback is that you won’t have enough money to be financially independent, which may or may not be stressful depending on how much money you have saved up.
Choose Your Own Route
I built this calculator to show that you might be able to live a life of freedom far sooner than you think. You might not need complete financial independence to be free.
There is no universal “correct” approach to financial independence.
For people who are in a high-income field and genuinely enjoy their job it makes sense to keep working and achieve complete F.I. in 10 years or less.
For people who can’t stand their day job and want freedom as soon as possible, it makes sense to leave your job sooner and start earning money in a different way to maintain or slowly increase your net-worth over time.
It’s not a game to see who can achieve financial independence sooner. It’s about using money to live the best possible version of your life. Whether this means achieving F.I. in 8 years or 38 years, you should decide based on your unique values and goals in life.
A lot of numbers were thrown around in this post. If any of it is confusing feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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