Making the Money Work – getting the dollars and cents right for my great escape from corporate life

This is the first post in a series I’ll call Making the Money Work which will look at 1. Living costs, 2. Income, and 3. Savings.

Now that I’m embarking on escaping the 9 to 5 office job, one of the first things I need to address is the finances. Before I can “have a little chat” with my boss I need to know:

1. how much money do I need for the next 6-12 months to to keep me out of the gutter (living costs)

2. how much money can I expect to generate in the first 6-12 months of leaving my office job (income)

3. based on the first two assumptions, how much do I need saved before I can finally turn my back on that sweet, sweet weekly pay check AND how long is it going to take to get there (savings)

I am going to go through each of these processes over the next few weeks and keep you posted.


How on earth did I get here?

I was never meant to get trapped in the corporate life. Indeed, by anyone else’s standards I’m not trapped anywhere. I’ve been in a corporate job for six months – hardly a lifetime wasted away in a cubicle.

But boy oh boy, six months is all I need to know that I my ‘bliss’ will not be found in a Chanel suit and the corner office.

When I decided I wanted my current job I talked to my family and friends, lecturers and mentors and while everyone was supportive and excited, I also received a few looks and words that said, “really? You want that job?”

There were a whole lot of reasons why I wanted this job. Number one on the top of the list – it’s a really great job.

But if I’m honest, there were probably a few other pull factors that enticed me to go for it. Are any of these playing a role in your career decisions?

Prestige. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in a fancy suburb, or go to a fancy school, my family isn’t ‘connected’, I don’t have ready access to the upper echelons. There is something so compelling about being able to prove myself in these circles. I can’t tell you where I work, but just to give you an idea, ‘elite’ is a word thrown about the office on a daily basis. (Interesting side note – according to this test, prestige is my primary trigger).

Security. A regular source of income sounds so glorious when you don’t have it. I know I’m not the only person to have said, “I’ll just do this for two years, get myself set up and then do what I really want to do.” But the trade off is not small – 38 hours (at least) of your week working on someone else’s stuff, living and breathing a world that’s not yours. Sometimes I don’t recognise myself while I’m pulling myself into an acceptable shape for the office. All that pretending – I’m sure it’s taking it’s toll. Realistically, if I could find a salaried position that didn’t stifle the hell out of me I’d take it! Are you kidding, I turn up, you put money into my account – it’s so good! But until I find that amazing position, the trade off is too big.

Taking a rest. This one is really weird, but there’s something about getting a regular job that you can explain to your aunts and uncles, where the biggest part of the battle is showing up by 9am each day, that sounds so easy.

If you’ve ever had the freedom to do exactly what you want to do, you might recall that it can be pretty tiring. Your success is in your hands. There is no one to hide behind, and there’s so much that you should be doing but aren’t. “Have you posted on your blog today?” “Have you had a piece published this month?” “Have you launched that product?” “Are you going to that networking event?” With an office job, you can phone it in from time to time and everything is fine – you’re just a regular person living a regular life. It’s also much easier to explain a way a bad week at the office. Having a bad week when you’re supposedly living your dream – bring on the crisis of confidence!

If I know all this how did I get here?
It should be simple to make good decisions for ourselves, but we humans don’t seem to be very good at it. If we were any good at it we wouldn’t need saviours like Martha Beck and Brene Brown to remind us to ‘be our true selves’. Once my mum said to me, “I’m so tired of hearing about ‘be your true self’. Who else am I going to be?!” Oh mother, that’s one huge can of worms you just opened.

All the stuff I mentioned above about prestige and security and money – I know all that already and I’ve been down the path enough to know that none of those things are important enough to make wearing a suit to an office a good idea for me.

I was never meant to get trapped in an office and it’s STILL tricky to release myself from its clutches. What about all those folks whose families want them to be lawyers, or those people who have invested years in being an actuary. What about those people with kids to support and mortgages to pay. Oi vey, for their sakes as well as mine, I have no excuse to stay trapped in an office!

How can you live the life of your dreams without a dream?

I was walking to work this morning and I asked myself the same question I always seem to ask myself when I’m out walking – what do I want to do with my life?

Because I think about this so much I have plenty of ideas – what I like doing, what I don’t like doing. Where I like living, where I don’t like living.

But it dawned on me as I asked myself this question that I never get so far as to actually get a clear vision of how I would like my life to look. I tend to stay in the realm of “what do I want to do”.

So I started conjuring visions of a life that seems pretty cool – it had a house with a vegie garden in it and a few other signs stability. Maybe this is an important step to take – really ask myself to stake a claim on a ‘grown-up’ life. But maybe those visions don’t come easily to me for a reason – maybe I’ve been blessed to be free of a hankering for any particular lifestyle so I can just get on with being engaged and open and alive so I can just see what happens.

I’ll give this some more thought and come back to you. But tell me, do you think having a grand vision for your life is important?

I’m going to start a company

I was just reading this post by Penelope Trunk about starting a company and selling it for a dollar.

I love thinking about business strategy (I’m keen to try out this methodology) so I’ve often thought about starting a business to test some theories – but I fall short when it comes to figuring out what I could sell.

Well, I’ve decided not to worry about that today. I’ll start a company and figure out the rest later! Perfect time to go back to my naming post!

I’ll post each step of the way and keep links here.


Tips for naming my blog

Deciding to blog my departure from corporate life was a really exciting moment. I’ve been a blogger for years and I love the idea of recording every step of this new journey I’m on.

My head exploded with excitement when I realised that starting a new blog shares a lot of parallels with starting a new career.

Names! Here are some great resources I’ve found for coming up with a name – whether for a blog or a business or a project.