“Okay: so if we don’t have to pay for daycare, if I go down to a part-time position, if I can pick up some personal training clients or start teaching fitness classes again, if we stop going out to eat so much, then I think we can actually make this work until I start making money in my business”
Excerpt from a text message conversation between my husband Trey and me, circa January 2018.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many conversations we had like this.
Or how many times I obsessively did the math to see if we could survive on his North Carolina teacher’s salary + whatever I could make working part-time for a while.
Or how I dreaded telling my boss I was going to quit.
Or how scary it was to leave a job with security, a consistent paycheck, benefits, vacation days and great co-workers while attempting to build an online health and fitness coaching business.
My last day of full-time employment was April 30, 2018. Coincidentally – or not so much – that was also my son’s first birthday.
Most people assume I left my full-time job to be a stay-at-home-parent. And while having a kid was definitely a huge factor in making this decision, it was only part of the bigger pursuit to build a lifestyle of freedom, flexibility, and simplicity for my family and a business where I could serve others in a way that truly aligned with my strengths and values.
A year into this new gig, I’m finally getting into a groove, but this journey hasn’t been nearly as glamorous as social media likes us to think the laptop lifestyle looks like: sipping lattes while working at a cute, quiet coffee shop or having conference calls from a beach-front balcony.
It’s more of a: squeeze in as much work as I can while drinking coffee brewed at home while my 2-year old takes a nap. Or letting him sit in front of the TV and watch a few episodes of Sesame Street and hope that he’s kinda quiet-ish while I have calls with clients.
When I left my job to build this business, one of my top priorities was to do it without it causing a major financial strain to my family. This meant we’d have to make some changes to our lifestyle and truly pay attention to where our money was going.
This was my process:
Data Collection – First, we needed to get an understanding of our family’s finances through carefully examining our income and expenses. When I first started seriously thinking about leaving my job, I began tracking every dollar to get a clearer picture of where our money was going and what changes we’d need to make.
Planning – Then we started planning. We built a family budget based on the data collected. We found small areas of opportunity where we could save money. We began meal planning and eating more at home vs. going out. We called all of our service providers (cell phone, insurance, etc.) to negotiate lower rates. We sold A LOT of stuff on Facebook Marketplace; things things that we no longer used or no longer provided us with any value and used that extra cash to fund extra “fun expenses” such as vacations and family activities.
Maintaining – Like any type of change, maintaining new spending and saving habits requires a maintenance strategy. Our strategy? Well, we have two, actually.
1) Spending less than we make
2) Save for the future
That’s it. Two pretty simple strategies that have already proven to be very effective in keeping our financial fitness in check.
Make no mistake, though. Although we’ve truly come to love the low-stress simplicity of living a more minimal lifestyle, we still have big goals. And while lattes, fancy vacations, and regular childcare are all expenses that don’t fit in our budget right now, it doesn’t mean they’re out of our lives forever.
As this business continues to grow, you better believe that each of these things will be added back into the mix.