Let me be the first to come out and say that I never thought I would say that I hated a job that brought home six figures. And let me tell you why:
- I grew up dirt poor and lived on welfare as a kid.
- I slept on the floor of my grandmother’s two bedroom apartment with my other 4 brothers. Which by the way, the house was in a very poor neighborhood and was a part of section 8 housing, which means the rent was subsidized by the government. So normal rent might have been $1,000/month. However my grandmother was only responsible for $125/month, which she struggled to pay.
- My mother has never held down a job in her entire life. She has and continues to live off the government to this day…My taxes along with all the other tax payers in this country are paying for it. The sad part is she is perfectly able to work. However, drugs and alcohol get the best of her.
- My father has spent at least 10 years of his life behind bars for manufacturing meth…yes, at one point in my life I lived the real “Breaking Bad”.
So now you get a decent picture of the hand I was dealt when I entered into this world. Statistically speaking I should be in jail right now, but I’m NOT. I have been fortunate over the years to find positive influences that help guide me away from the only life I knew.
When I was in middle school I met a man by the name of Dan H. To this day he and his family are my family and always will be. Dan owned a pizza place when I was in middle school and would let kids come in and fold pizza boxes for free pizza and soda. Needless to say, I started hanging around the pizza place a lot. We never could afford to go out for pizza at home.
The short story is that Dan became like a father figure and eventually invited me to come and live with his family after speaking with my mom. This was a huge turning point in my life. The deal was that I had to keep up my grades and give him progress reports once a week. I went from having a GPA of 1.33 to being a 4.0 student, just because someone cared enough to hold me accountable.
I lived with H’s for about a year before moving to Southern California to live with my dad and brothers. They were shocked to say the least, but they didn’t think it was their place to tell a 12-year-old kid that he couldn’t go live with his dad and brothers. Before I made the move they chatted with my grandfather to make sure that he would look out for me in the event things did not work out…and he assured them that he would.
My father was arrested yet again for manufacturing meth and was hauled back to prison 3 short months after I moved in with him. I went on to live with my grandparents through the rest of middle school and high school. My grandfather was another hugely influential person in my life. He and my aunt were the only ones to attend college (until I joined the club).
So if we fast forward to present times, we are now in October of 2014 and I have seen tremendous success with my career and the amount of money that I make. Now that you know a little about my background you can see why I never thought I would be unhappy with a job that pays 6 figures, given that I came from nothing. To put things into perspective, I earn more in a month than my mom has ever made in an entire year.
So Why Do I Hate My Job?
First and foremost, the job no longer stimulates me. Many of the things I do are just flat-out boring to me, and I really don’t see the point. More importantly, my work is not making a difference in the world, at least not from my vantage point.
You’re probably wondering what I do for a living???
I currently work in corporate finance in the construction industry…Please don’t fall asleep on me just yet. I only recently made the move to the company a little over 6 months ago. The short story is that my wife and I bought a house that was way too far to my previous place of employment in the action sports industry. So after trying to work out a compromise to work remotely a few days a week (that failed miserably), I decided to take the first job I was offered close to where my wife and I had just bought a home.
There was no way in hell that I was going to start commuting again (I did that right out of college and hated it). I would have been on the road for 3-4 hours a day. Time is a form of currency that I value way too much to make that sacrifice. Time is the only resource that you can never get back, once it’s gone, it is gone for good.
Now don’t take this the wrong way, I was able to move inland and save $300k and get 4 times the house vs. what we could afford in the OC. My cost of living has gone down significantly and I was able to maintain my OC salary, which is not typical. The people I work with are awesome! The company is growing 30% a year with plenty of opportunity. The problem is that my work doesn’t excite or challenge me. I am not impacting anyone’s lives.
I need to build a career that makes a dent in the world.
The good news is that I am only 28 years old (or i will be in a few weeks) and have plenty of runway to pivot. When I graduated college it was all about chasing the dollar and in 6 short years I was able to put in enough hard work to earn a 6-figure salary. But along the way I learned that the money alone is not enough to make me happy.
Oh…and I have the entrepreneurial bug.
What to do when you hate your job?
To some this is a very easy question to answer. Quit.
However, it’s not as easy for me to do now that I own a house and have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. I have what they call “golden handcuffs.” But that doesn’t mean I am not taking steps to get out of this situation. Here is what I didn’t tell you. I have had this urge to go off on my own (whatever that means) for the past couple years. But I have been paralyzed by the fear of failure. Not the fear that I would fail at building a profitable business…but that I would fail my wife and that it would take us off course from the life we have been building together over the past 9 years (yes, 9 years, married 2.5).
So last October when my father in-law had a heart attack we both sat down and reevaluated what was important in life. We were living this extravagant lifestyle in the OC because it felt like the right thing to do…everyone else was doing it (so we bought into the rat race of keeping up with the Jones’s). At the time we were bringing in a combined $170K/year, but that doesn’t go as far as you think when you are living the “good life.” Shortly after my wife’s dad got out of the hospital we started looking for houses in Wildomar (family was way more important than status), which for those not familiar is about 60 miles from Newport Beach/Costa Mesa where we were living.
Cutting Expenses while upgrading our lifestyle
Back in 2013 before my father in-law’s heart attack, we had been looking at houses we could afford in the OC. Everything we were looking at cost $550-$650K for a tiny 1,200 sqft house with absolutely no backyard. By moving inland we spent almost half the money ($370K) and bought a huge 3,300 sqft house on 0.25 acres. By making family a priority, the added benefit was that we were actually able to take huge steps in reducing our expenses and upgrading our lifestyle. To give you an idea of the savings:
1) We were spending $3,000/month on rent. Our mortgage with taxes and our HOA is $2,215/month. However we also get the tax savings which brings our effective cost to $1,900/month. Estimated $1,100/month savings.
2) My wife was driving 120 miles a day for work and I was driving about 30. We now drive a combined 25 miles a day, saving money on both gas and tolls. Estimated $500/month savings.
3) By moving and buying something much cheaper, we were able to pay off my student loan debt. Estimated $150/month savings.
Total Estimated monthly savings of $1,750/month.
Started a business to diversify our income (and slowly loosen the golden handcuffs)
In January of 2013 I decided to start a consulting business targeted at online based businesses, providing digital marketing and analytics. I went out and hustled and got a few clients, which to date I have billed out about $15K in services, grossing about $1,650/month. After expenses I net about $1,000/month due to some outsourcing for work that is not in my wheelhouse.
Unlocked the rental income sitting in 1 of 5 bedrooms in my house
More recently, my wife and I decided that our house was set up perfectly to rent out a room. We have a two-story house with 4 bedrooms upstairs (our master included) and 1 bedroom downstairs. Once the decision was made I did a little research on Craigslist to see what rooms were going for and then priced ours accordingly. Most of the rooms I saw were for an average of $400/month, however our house was in a better location, had more upgrades, better amenities…and we have a house cleaning service that comes once a month. All said and done, we landed at $600 a month. Our new roommate Troy moved in on Sunday.
Total Estimated monthly income increase of $1,600/month.
Over the last 9 months we have been able to put an extra $3,350/month in our pocket either through expense savings or additional income. That is a huge step in the direction of being in a position to step away from the job I hate and do the work that I am passionate about full-time that will make a difference in the world and empower my generation.
Start, grow, and monetize a blog
This leads us perfectly to present day. It was only 7 days ago today that I got the push from Scott of “Live Your Legend” to finally get this blog started. I have no idea how I am going to monetize it, but I am confident that it will naturally happen in the process of delivering some incredible content and value to my audience. It may even take me years like it did Scott. I don’t care how long it takes because this is the work that makes me happy. I would love nothing more than to help people get what they want every day for the rest of my life…EVEN IF I DIDN’T GET PAID FOR IT!
This is how I know this is what I am supposed to be doing.
– Gen Y Finance Guy
Great article – so honest and vulnerable. I admire your ability to turn your life into a positive but even more that you won’t stop until you’re making the difference you know you want to. I can relate! I, too, was making multiple 6 figures as VP of a 6B$ company and left it to start my own business. Now I help ambitious women (and men!) find out how to create careers that have them using their true potential to make an impact. I wish you luck on your journey. Thanks again for sharing your story!
Hi Anne, thanks for stopping by. I am looking forward to checking out your site for some solid advice as I embark on my own journey. I will have to pass it along to my wife as well :)
This post resonated so much with me. I currently earn a 6 figure salary and this week have spent most of my hours somewhere between misery and anger. I am indeed suffering from golden handcuffs as you put it, I feel so trapped. I have joined Scott’s challenge and my blog is brand new… I look forward to seeing what unfolds and hopefully moving much closer to my dream life. But thank you for sharing so openly. It gives me a light :)
Hey Sonya, sorry to here the misery. The good news is that you are moving in a direction to create change. Wish I was closer to try some of you delicious looking treats. You will have to let me know when you start shipping internationally. Thanks for the comment.
Great words of wisdom and transparency. Outside of a few grammar and spelling errors the message was great. The website I linked is the website I’m using for Scott’s blogging challenge. My business blog is: http://anewlifeoasis.com/category/blog
Once I get this blogging think figured out for business I’ll use my business blog instead. But, then again, I might just combine them into one. I’ll figure that out later.
Thanks for the comment Kimberly. Sorry about the grammar and spelling errors, will hopefully get better over time. I will be the first to admit that I have not done much writing since college. This will be good practice.
There are so many people in your shoes, but unwilling to do anything about it. You are a perfect example of someone who is taking a very strategic approach to freedom and that is message that I want to take to the masses. You can plan your escape, it does not have to be some hasty decision. You are definitely someone that I would love to interview on my upcoming podcast. People need to know that freedom is within their grasp if they just reach for it. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Shimeka, thanks for the kind words. I agree that there are some many others out there that are unhappy, but they are scared to take the leap. They think it has to be a all or nothing leap of faith. But like you said and I shared in this post. It can be a strategic and gradual transition. You can remove a lot of the risk while keeping your income from the “Golden Hancuff’s” in tact.
I would be honored to be interviewed on your upcoming podcast. Just let me know when and where and I will make it happen.
Thank you for sharing your story Gen Y Finance Guy. You have done a wonderful job to come so far from your childhood. You are still young and I am sure you will go great places and make a huge impact on the world. I believe in you.
Pam, thank you for the kind words.
Your post title sure caught my attention! I like how organized the breakdown of your story and your current financial situation. I have been told by many people that for my industry, I must go to corporate in order to make money and succeed. I have been working in small firms and still considering whether to “slave away” as everyone puts it for a couple of years to make my resume look better and secure my place. I also grew up poor and love hearing about the steps that people took to success. I was an accounting and finance major I know I can definitely learn from reading your story. Thank you for sharing honestly and authentically.
Hey Victoria, I have certainly been there done that. To me in comes down to a simple question of whether you really enjoy the work or not? Where do you want to ultimately end up? Let the questions to those questions lead the decision to go the corporate route or not. This path use to excite me, but sometimes we change with life experiences. We truly are the sum product of all of our experiences. It’s exciting because you never know exactly where a decision will lead you later in life. Thanks for stopping by.
Hi Gen Y Finance Guy
I love your idea of sharing comments on blogs. This is great. I’m impressed with your conscious choice to move so you can not only save money (and earn more too), but to put the truly important things in life in proper perspective. I would not be surprised if you were able to build a business helping other people who are locked in ‘the golden handcuffs’ find the key that will set them free. I know what the meme of California life can be like, and unlocked my SF golden handcuffs many years ago.
I invite you to check out my blog, and leave me a comment. You can find it on my website (www.carolynandersondesign.com), or go straight to it at inspiredlivingbydesign.net.
I’m starting up a new aspect of my interior design practice by launching e-courses that help people create the home of their dreams through learning how professional designers get the results they see in magazines, on HGTV, on Pinterest ind Houzz. You can also go to my Facebook page, Inspired Living by Design (the one with a woman’s face – there are two different pages with that name). I invite you to like and share it.
Thanks for posting your wonderful story, and for sharing the gift of communication and support!
Hi Carolyn. Glad to hear that you were able to remove your golden handcuffs and move on to doing work you love. Looking forward to check out your site and sharing it with my wife…she loves DIY projects around the house.
Nice work, it’s refreshing to hear the honesty and writing so openly about your life, challenges and aspirations. I am doing Scotts challenge too, I’m on day 3, it’s not easy, but is definitely invigorating. I just wanted to say ‘go you’!
Appreciate the comment Jo. The challenge for sure a great tool for self discovery.
Thank you for being open and transparent. Thank you for sharing your story. It takes much courage to change your path . Continued success on your journey.
You are very welcome Altamese. I hope my story helps motivate others that are in unhappy situations to make a change starting today. Those incremental steps will eventually add up to something big.
Hey Gen Y Finance Guy, I can definitely sympathize with you. I didn’t have nearly as tough of a childhood as you, but I am feeling very unsatisfied with my career right now even though the money is great. Looking forward to reading more of your posts and hearing about your plans as I try to figure out what to do myself!
Hey Kevin, the best thing in the world is that we all have a unique story to tell. I hope this blog will serve you in your own quest to doing the work you love. Thanks for stopping by.
Hi! I really empathize with your situation, and admire not only your resolve but the concrete actions you’ve taken to change your situation. So many people hate their jobs but feel as though they simply can’t do anything different. Your transparency and explanation of your real world plan is very helpful. Best of luck to you!
Thanks Audra! It’s easy to be unhappy, its only slightly harder to do something about it. I appreciate the comment.
I can relate to hating your job. The downside for me is my hubby and I are barely making ends meet because of my student loan debt. I’m working to remedy that so that I eventually can get out of the rat race.
Hey Brenda, hang in there. You joined this challenge because you want a change. May I ask what kind of steps you are taking to resolve your student debt? Maybe we can brainstorm together on this post. The best thing about the times we live in is that there are so many ways of “alternative” earning. Looking forward to hearing back from you.
Looks like you’re making all the right decisions. We rent out one of our bedrooms in our house and it’s a huge win for our cost of living.
Glad you made your way over to the blog. We have certainly made some good decisions this past year, and renting out a room has been great. Because not only do we have the extra income, we also made a great friend in the process. He is essentially family now.
Looking forward to seeing you around.
I love how honest your article is and I am again inspired as I was with so many great personal finance bloggers.
I am very glad you stopped by my blog and left a comment because I will be coming here often to see how you are doing and I will be marching the million dollar journey with you.
Cheers and many more!
Looking forward to comparing notes on our march to financial independence.
Great post GenY. A couple years ago I invented an indestructible water pipe that was featured in High Times 2013, I setup a dealer network and sold it around the country. Nowadays I work from home selling premium websites to eminent clients. Starting my own biz taught me the woes of physical goods and logistics. I have always been good with tech and people so I’m glad I’ve found a fit for me. Like you I was born in ’87 went to grad school and recently paid off my loans in full.
I’m happy to add value to others lives and help people make more money and become healthier. I enjoy my day job but I also always enjoy a small side hustle, currently it is my blog and an eBook I’m working on. I wish you success in your endeavor and hope that soon your side venture gives you the autonomy you crave.
Congrats again for rising above the odds, it ain’t easy bro.
Its funny because this post came at a time that I was seriously low in my job. I still plan to stay here for a while because of the career path that has been laid out in front of me. And I have a way different perspective with respect to how I think about my day job. Maybe a future post on that at some point.
That sounds solid GenY, sometimes we all need a perspective change at times :) I’ll look forward to reading about it in the future.
Really? you hate your job because it does not make a “contribution to the world?” Fun Fact! Only about 0.001% of people make a serious contribution to the world. Your contribution has meaning, it has meaning to your company. You’re in Finance, you can literally go work for anyone! Your also young (from what I gather), 2 pluses on your side. But the way you whine I guess you will not be happy unless your Secretary of State or UN Ambassador (or maybe President?)
Try being someone like me, in IT for 30 years are now realizing that it is not what it was. You no longer work with and for technology driven people but business school grads who’s only skill is playing corporate politics. Being managed by Affirmative Action female managers (because there are not enough women in STEM positions) who are totally clueless. Corporate managers who’s only care is the bottom line and when cost cutting impacts the technology poorly well that is just ITs fault not managers imposing an austerity budget.
Do us all a favor and grow up!
Lucky for me I wrote this post three years ago. That post was a motivator for me to make a change and now I absolutely love what I do.
Oh, and I made the C-Suite by my 30th Birthday.
My situation is for the most part exactly the same as yours was. I have been tossing around the idea of quitting and going to grad school for business analytics. I’m curious what happened and what you did to make things work. Let me know because apart working and living in OC my situation is the exact same. I’m automating our finance departments processes for an additional 2-3% per year and I’m miserable. My ex-colleagues are making about a third more than what they made at my company. What happened and what steps did you take to get out of your situation?
You dug deep into the archives as this post is from way back in September of 2014 when I first started this blog. As I wrote in the post, the first steps I took was cutting our monthly expenses in order to position myself to take more risk. I also started this blog and a small consulting company on the side. As the savings and additional income racked up I began taking more risk in the day job. I asked for more money and demanded more autonomy. I created my own projects and pitched their value to the organization.
I didn’t know how things would turn out but five years later I’m still with the same company in a C-Suite position that I designed and created for myself. I took my income as a Senior Financial Analyst at the time at $97,000/year to $350,000/year (plus stock and option compensation). I wrote a post about this journey here.