Reader QUIT: Letting Money Overshadow My Life (by Jessica Velasco)

Money is essential for survival. I get that. I mean, try to put clothes on your body or dinner on the table without it.

That being said, there is no reason for us to place such a high importance on money. There are ways to get what we need without spending a fortune. Money might be essential, but excessive money is not.

 

The Mess I Got Myself Into

I was working 80+ hours a week. I routinely ate two of my three meals in the car. The other was consumed at my desk.

I kept a notepad by my bed. Because sleep would often elude me, I would jot down the next day’s to-do list while tossing and turning.

I felt naked without my cell phone. All my employees and customers knew I was always only an email or text message away—no matter the hour.

I no longer owned a single pair of jeans or flats. There was no need. My life revolved around the office.

This frantic, sleepless, stress-filled—yet highly lucrative—lifestyle dominated my life for five long years.

 

My Day of Epiphany

My brother called. He was a month into his freshman year of college and hated everything about it. He was homesick. He hated his classes. His roommate sucked.

Would I please come to visit him tomorrow night? There was a home football game. He wanted to go, but had no one to go with him.

“Sorry, bud,” I heard myself saying. “I can’t. I have a big project I need to finish. I’ll be working super late.”

As I was inhaling my Big Mac on the way home that night, I replayed the conversation in my head. Did I really tell my baby brother no? Did I really brush off the fact that he was hating my beloved alma mater? Did I really turn down a chance to go tailgating, raise a ruckus, and support my all-time favorite college football team?

Yes, I did.

How did I let this happen? Where did I go wrong? How did I let my job take over my life?

It was simple: I had become infatuated with the money I was earning. I loved the luxurious lifestyle I had created.

But did I really?

Did I love pedicures, fine dining, and tropical vacations more than my family? (I won’t say “friends,” because I didn’t have any left at that point.)

On the surface, it appeared so. But deep down, I knew things needed to change.

 

I Quit!

I did. I quit my job. I knew I lacked self-control. There was no way I could simply scale back. I needed to walk away. So I did.

But now what?

I needed money. While I had already decided a major lifestyle change was in order, I couldn’t simply ignore the fact that my basic needs require some sort of income. Even Goodwill expects you to pay for the things you buy.

I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I could “grow” and “advance” and “excel”—at least not right then. Eventually, I would maybe, possibly consider returning to my corporate roots. But for now, I needed something that provided zero professional advancement.

I decided my best bet was to experiment. See where my interests lie. Find the balance between earning enough to survive and still having a life outside of work.

 

A Jack of No Trades

Since quitting my full-time job, I have tried my hand at just about everything. I have yet to find something that will keep me entertained for a long period of time. However, I have certainly enjoyed the journey so far! While trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, I have learned what I don’t want to do (which is just as valuable).

I don’t have a future…

  • Painting cornhole boards. My cousin has mad woodworking skills. He had started a business building and selling cornhole boards. Would I like to custom-paint the boards for him? Sure! It took me 18 hours to paint my first set. He fired me.
  • Being a substitute preschool teacher. I have a pair of pants with two perfect, tiny red handprints on the bum to prove it. (Washable paint—yeah right.) That gig lasted pretty long (six months).
  • Eventually, I realized the cost of my Tylenol demand nearly outweighed my income.
  • Working as a waitress. That was another experiment that didn’t last too long. Those trays are heavier than they look, and quite unstable. I had five giant glasses of ice water on a single tray. As I reached around a lady to place the first beverage on the table, the other four came crashing down…on her head. You can guess the outcome.

That is just a sampling of the crazy things I’ve done. I could go on and on. However, what I’ve learned can be summarized in just a few short paragraphs.

 

Does Money Control Your Life?

Are you feeling the same way I did? Have you let money—and your pursuit of glory and riches—impact your life in a negative way?

Let me tell you a few things I’ve learned:

  • Follow your heart. If you truly love your job, that’s great. If not, get out now. There is no reason to tie yourself to an occupation that doesn’t bring you joy. Do something that is more than just a job.
  • You can survive on a lot less money than you think you can. Take a good look at your budget. Where are you spending your money? No matter how much you earn and how many bills you have, you can always get by with less.
  • Material possessions aren’t that great. Seriously, they aren’t. Do those extremely uncomfortable high heels really make you happy?
  • Family and friends should always be a top priority. Period. Yes, you need money to provide for your family. But the way you go about earning that money shouldn’t cause you to miss Suzie’s dance recital.

Do you have any insight into this situation? Does money have a tight hold on your life? Are you looking for ways to let go? Let’s chat it up in the comment section!

 

Jessica_VelascoJessica Velasco has finally settled into a money-making venture with this company. Ironically, cornhole boards are back in her life again (those who can’t do, teach…right?). She is helping the company with their efforts to market cornhole supplies. This gig might stick; the job description perfectly coincides with what Jessica does best—sharing her witty commentary on life with other people around the Internet.

 

Interested in submitting a Reader Quit of your own? Check out how here.

 

Image: Christopher Nalefskiu / Flickr

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    I love this post. It took me many, many years to realize I didn’t need to work 3 jobs, and I surely didn’t need to run up all those credit cards. I’m much happier now – I still need to meet the mortgage, car and utility payments, of course, but otherwise I’m happy with just enough extra to keep myself in paperback books and videogames, and occasionally help out my kids. Sounds like you’ve taken control of your own future – way to go!

  • I so agree with the “you don’t need as much as you think” mentality. When my husband stopped working because of his disability, there was a moment of total and utter panic when we faced our budget and thought “How on earth are we supposed to slash this IN HALF?”

    But you know what? We did it, and I don’t feel any more deprived on a daily basis than I did with our previous (what I already thought was) strict budget. It really is amazing the amount of expenses you can slash when you have to–and what that says about how many you really “needed” in the first place.

    • Definitely a good point! I also live in the frugal and homesteading blog worlds, and LOVE knowing that there are ways to work it on *so* little income. Those experiences ARE difficult, but teach crazy important skills.

  • I’m definitely looking for ways to let go. For so long, money controlled my life. Now that my student loans are gone, I feel more in control.

  • Wow, I LOVE this post! Jessica, thank you so much for sharing this story.

    Although I am on the opposite side of the spectrum, I can see in myself that same tendency to go big or go home. And what that might mean. Maybe for a while it’s worth it, maybe for a while it’ll help get my debt in gear (ugh, college).

    Long-term however, I know that my real loves are: cheese and writing. Not some big, mega job with tons of advancement and too much stress for my sensitive little self. A way to make ends meet (with maybe a little extra sometimes) that makes life feel good.

    Good on you, and I’m so excited about your cornhole life!

  • I’m setting in motion the goal of quitting my job. But, I think I keep telling myself excuses why I shouldn’t at this point. But, I’d definitely like to at least be making a small sum of money.

    I know I don’t need a lot. I used to make significantly less as a teacher than I am now. And, on that salary I was able to go out and travel the world. Even so, I’d like to have at least a budget of what I need to cover the basics plus some.

    Thanks for the inspiration and reminder!

  • Debbie M

    I can’t help wondering … how’s your brother doing these days?

    As for me, I’m erring in the opposite direction. I’m between jobs and could really use one more to get me to my pension, but I’m highly tempted to just spend down my IRA instead.

  • Jessica

    Oh how embarrassing! I’ve let my life get too busy again! I don’t even have time to strike up a conversation with you all! Thank you for all your comments. I’m glad to hear there are other people in the same boat. Day after day, I thank my lucky stars for being in the position I am. I couldn’t be happier. And sadly, I didn’t know how bad things were until I quit. But things are good now. My brother is good too (married!!) – thanks for asking! 🙂

  • Pingback: QUIT: Letting Money Overshadow My Life | Rockstar Finance()

  • benn

    how i want to exchange my life working 80 hours and earning a fat paycheck which will make my life cosier and help people who no so furtunate

  • Yep. No time like the present to quit your job because you let money rule your life. The real key is to control expenses so that whatever you earn, is more than enough.

  • Kenneth Merritt

    Pretty much all spending is optional. You can cut out or greatly reduce:
    Cable or satellite TV (drop it)
    Cell phone charges ($10 airvoice or $25 Republic wireless plans)
    Auto expenses (get by on one, very used car)
    Housing expenses (downsize, get a roommate)
    Food expenses (eat cheaper)
    Gym expenses (work out at home or outside)
    Insurance expenses (less house and car to insure, raise deductibles)

    I’m not surprised that Cordelia cut her expenses in half (but proud of her nonetheless). And if push came to shove, I’m sure she could cut them in half yet again.

    Reducing your monthly living expenses to as low as possible has so many benefits. Maybe the biggest is to get to the point where you can spend less than you earn, month after month, and pay off debt or invest the difference. The biggest side benefit is NOT STRESSING over finances.

  • I think it takes a lot of courage to make that kind of drastic life change, and only time can tell how positive the outcome ends up being. I hope it turned out great and that you found the thing/s that you want to do with your time and energy.
    Living around work is only like living a quarter or half life.

  • Jessica – Hurray! for really seeing what you were doing to yourself (and your family)!