4 min read
I currently have three income streams:
Day job income.
The dividend income is a real beauty. Each month I receive dividends in my brokerage account without doing anything to earn them. Even better, the companies that pay me these dividends often increase the payments each year. This income requires no time commitment on my part.
The blogging income is a complete joy. If I made zero dollars per month from this site I would still sit down and publish an article each day. I look forward to waking up early and writing something to share with the world. The fact that I make any money from blogging is almost too good to be true. This income requires time commitment, but I love doing it.
The day job income is the most bland of these three. It’s not a real beauty. It’s not a complete joy. This income requires a time commitment and it’s not something I love.
One of the greatest feats a human can pull off is earning income solely from doing stuff they enjoy. I haven’t quite reached that point. Two of my income streams are wonderful. One of them is not.
Thus, I’m on a mission to replace my day job income.
The Nature of Corporate America
When I started my first job out of college I genuinely had a blast. I learned an incredible amount about Excel, programming languages, and analytical tools. My skill set grew by leaps and bounds each day. I was a learning machine. I felt like I was growing.
Unfortunately that growth didn’t last. After the first six months, I slowly stopped learning new skills and I had mastered all the analytical techniques that my job required. I stopped looking forward to going into the office. My projects stopped feeling like exciting adventures and started feeling like chores. I began to dread team meetings. I spent more time staring at the clock than I care to admit.
I needed a change. I needed to start learning and growing again.
Fast forward several months. I landed a new job with my current corporation. This same cycle began to repeat itself. The first few months I was a learning machine, picking up new coding skills left and right. Each day flew by. It was actually enjoyable.
But in the past two months I have learned very little. I haven’t picked up new coding skills or pushed the boundaries of my knowledge in analytics. In fact, there have been fewer projects to work on and I haven’t felt needed. I have started to lose the feeling that I’m contributing to a bigger mission. This position is starting to feel like a job again.
I need a change.
My Love of Growth
I have come to realize that I love growth. When I’m growing – learning new skills, gaining knowledge, increasing my productivity – I’m happiest. Conversely, when I’m in a place where I have hit the upper limit of what I can learn, I become dissatisfied.
This is why blogging is so appealing to me. Blogging has no upper limit of growth. On any given day I can decide to create a financial app from scratch like this one. Or I can learn a new programming language and create an interactive visual like this. Or I can write an entire post in response to a comment left by a reader.
I can pick and choose exactly what skills I want to focus on – writing, coding, SEO, design – and spend time creating something meaningful to share with the world.
I love having the autonomy and freedom to work on whatever I want. I haven’t experienced that feeling in Corporate America.
Mixing Ambition with Reality
This all leads to my current struggle: how to replace my day job in a smart manner. I can’t see myself working in a traditional 9-5 role at a corporation long-term. Instead, I want to be my own boss. The tricky part is figuring out when to leave my current job.
On one hand, I have the ambition to pursue a different lifestyle and branch away from a traditional job. On the other hand, I am trying to be realistic.
In an earlier post this week, I explained that my apartment lease is up in nine months. This will be a pivotal moment when I will have to decide to keep my job or move on. If I do move on, I have to decide if I want to pick up another 9-5 job or become my own boss.
If I was 100% ambitious, I would become my own boss and live off a combination of dividends, blogging, and freelance writing. That’s the unicorn scenario. I would be able to earn money doing what I love while being my own boss.
If I was 100% realistic, I might instead stick it out at a corporation for another 8-10 years and become a millionaire. That would eliminate all my financial concerns, but only through sacrificing a decade of my life sitting at a cubicle.
I’d like to think there’s a way to blend being ambitious with being realistic. Thus, I have a plan.
My Tentative Plan
My end goal is to quit my day job in nine months and cover my expenses solely through income streams that bring me joy. It’s an ambitious goal, but a realistic one if I can do the following:
Increase my net worth to $100k or higher.
Increase my monthly dividend income to $250 or higher.
Consistently earn monthly blog income of $500 or higher.
Pick up freelance writing gigs to earn $500 or more each month.
My future net worth and dividend income are actually fairly easy to predict. I should hit those goals over the next nine months. The blogging and freelance income goals are much harder to predict. If I can manage to hit all of these goals, there’s a good chance that I’ll quit my day job and work for myself.
It’s hard to predict how this will all work out. Perhaps another work option will reveal itself. Time will tell.
I’ll let you know in nine months how this story plays out. 🙂
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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