Melanie, you are crazy.

What have you done?

You are in so much debt.

You don’t have a fully funded emergency fund.

You are the breadwinner in the relationship.

You have no idea what you are doing.

Do you remember how long it took you to find a job?

Are you not grateful for what you have?

What if you are making, yet another, BIG mistake?

Thoughts like this have been swimming in my head for the past few weeks, as I’ve adjusted to my new freelance lifestyle. I quit my job and left quietly and without a peep, sharing details with only a handful of people. Truth be told, I was a little ashamed. I was scared of being judged. I didn’t want to share my thoughts or experiences with you and have the anticipation of leaving colored with positive and negative feedback.

I wanted to make this (very difficult) decision on my own.

Since February, I have been working the equivalent of two full-time jobs or more. I’ve been running myself ragged and I wasn’t giving 100% to anything. Not my job, not my blog, not myself. I felt like I was barely getting by. But deep down I was having fits of depression, anxious meltdowns, and a face full of tears that wouldn’t wash away. I was doing too much, trying to be too much.

I know, I know. It’s all my fault. I let that happen. I bit off more than I could chew. That’s not a reason to quit a job. Not a reason to quit a job you searched two years for. Not a reason to quit a job that you got after beating out 200 other people, after not having any of the technical requirements for the position.

No, that wasn’t it. There was definitely more to it. I started to realize that after a year with the organization, I wasn’t going to grow in a direction I wanted. I wasn’t going to grow much at all, actually. And what’s the opposite of growth?

I also started to compare my freelance income to my low nonprofit salary. The gap was very small. I thought to myself, what if I could free up eight hours a day and work on my own stuff? I was convinced that I could make more money, doing things I love, in the comfort of my own home. Now, I know freelancing is not a stroll in the park. I still have deadlines and still have to hustle for work.

But I’m confident, for one of the first times in my life, that I will be okay. Why? Because I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. My income is diversified and comes from many different places. As soon as I let a few key people know I was leaving, I got more writing work and more brand ambassador work.

For the past few months, I’ve finally ramped up my EF, so I have at least three months of expenses saved up. My current income will pay my bills, but my student loan payments may be fluctuating. I want to continue to increase my savings rate, while paying off debt.

Don’t you worry, my priority is still becoming debt free, as soon as possible.

But I still have so much to learn and prepare for, as I figure all this stuff out. I am astonished with how much things have changed in a year and a half. I started this blog when I felt like I was at the end of my rope, making $12/hr at a seasonal job, eating from food stamp money, and feeling like I had no future to speak of. I was stuck, ruminating on past failures, possibilities of things that never happened, and replaying times in my life I was more successful.

My therapist asked me, “Do you want to live on the shelf of regret? Look how many things you have there.”

Up to that point, I felt like everything I had done was a mistake. Leaving my job was a mistake, going to grad school was a mistake, moving to Portland was a mistake. WTF was I doing? Everything felt meaningless.

This blog very well saved my life. It sure as hell saved my relationship, too. And now it’s turned my life into something else completely. Something unexpected and new. An adventure.

And that’s how my blog changed my life.

 

Melanie

Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

71 responses to “Unthinkable: I Quit My Job”

  1. Emma says:

    It’s so awesome to hear about someone taking the leap without careful planning and having everything tied up in a pretty little bow.

    Good for those people for having their ducks in a row, but it takes true courage to take the leap when your ducks are not quite lined up and all you can do is cross your fingers and believe in yourself. Congratulations!!
    Emma recently posted…saturday splurge: emma lincoln goes to town!My Profile

  2. LOVE THIS! I am just beginning to see how my blog has the potential to change my life and I can’t wait to see what happens next πŸ™‚ Good for you for making the decision on your own and then telling us about it, that was probably a smart move so the deicision wasn’t tainted by the feelings and opinions of hundreds (thousands?) of other people. Sometimes you just have to do what’s right for you!
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…How Much Does Your Stuff Cost?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      It’s crazy! I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision for me — I know a lot of people probably think I’m stupid (or maybe I’m just worried about that), but I wasn’t making that much at the nonprofit job and am doing pretty well now (for me). And, I don’t have thousands of readers, haha I wish!

  3. The internet is awesome, the blogosphere is awesome, this article is awesome, and you’re awesome.

    You weren’t living the life you wanted so you corrected course. BRILLIANT decision!

    It’s a heck of a lot easier making money when you’re happy!
    Will @firstqfinance recently posted…How I Spend $75 Per Month on (Healthy!) GroceriesMy Profile

  4. When you are doing work you love the results tend to be better! Continued success Melanie!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Are you part of the 20 percent?My Profile

  5. Charlotte says:

    Congrats, Melanie!! Freelancing won’t be a walk in the park but you’re right, you have so much more control on how much you can earn. There’s infinitely more opportunities to scale your money this route and it sounds like you’ll enjoy an improved quality of life too! Wishing you all the best but I have no doubt you’ll do an amazing job πŸ™‚
    Charlotte recently posted…Yes, you CAN work from home!My Profile

  6. kathleen says:

    Well. I just LOVE this, friend! I think you’re an outstanding writer, so use me as a reference should anyone ask for one!

    CONGRATULATIONS!
    kathleen recently posted…Never Underestimate the Power of NetworkingMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks so much!! I might take you up on that or just copy and paste your comment into a testimonial, lol. Wahoo. This also means I can come to happy hour at 5pm, or anytime, now!

  7. No way! That is freaking awesome! Good for you for not being afraid of taking a chance! You are in control of your own life and you are your own boss! Congratulations πŸ™‚
    Brandy @ Busted Budget recently posted…We found $5 and spent it on beerMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Gosh, I’m still getting used to that. My mentor keeps telling me I need to get out of the “employee mindset” and embrace the “boss mindset”. It’s hard and something I’m working on!

  8. Brit says:

    I love hearing about someone taking a chance of doing something they love. I’m sure you will do fine. You have thought about this for quite sometime and I’m sure you will do great. Best of luck!

  9. Michelle says:

    #GirlBoss-that’s you. I have no doubt that you’re going to own this. Looking forward to talking about this at FINCON!
    Michelle recently posted…3 Tips For Renting With Big DogsMy Profile

  10. Wow, how exciting! I’m glad to hear that you are happier and not living in the land of would have, could have!
    Congratulations on the switch and best of luck picking up the clients you need to make this a successful enterprise that keeps you in the money and happy!
    Anne @ Money Propeller recently posted…Things to ask a Potential TenantMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Anne! Yeah, I’m hustling. A lot of my income is coming from Brand Ambassador gigs right now, as I have 10 gigs lined up this month. Summer is a great time for promo work! Time to work all I can now, as it can dry up in the fall and new year. But I do want to add more writing clients and do a bunch of other stuff, too. I have big plans!

  11. Kraig says:

    I just found your site through Carrie from Careful Cents. Just wanted to say you did the right thing. You WILL NOT regret this. Will it be hard? Likely one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Will it be painful? Yes, at times. But will it be worth it? Yes.

    This stuff is really hard. I did the same thing and quit my job last summer. I had a big more savings than it sounds like you do, but no sweat. It sounds like you’re doing some great things with freelancing and now that you can focus on it, I’m sure it will take off.

    Just want to let you know that there are others out there in the same boat. If you need some support and want to talk sometime, just let me know.

    Remember, you did the right thing.

    Talk to you soon!
    Kraig
    Kraig recently posted…Juicy Details: Income, Expenses and Am I Going to Sink or Swim? Pt6My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Wow, thanks for the generous and helpful comment, Kraig. I know it’s not going to be easy. One myth I’ve already dealt with is the myth of having “more time.” I thought I’d have tons more time after leaving my 40-hour/wk job and magically I really don’t! Yes, I take more breaks and have more “me” time, but I’m still working on/off all day long, every day. It’s been interesting! I would love your support and help! I’m going to check out your blog — I dig the name!

  12. E.M. says:

    Can I just say how happy I am for you?! This is so exciting! I have no doubt you’ll make this work. I can completely relate to how you’re feeling, since I kind of just jumped into freelancing myself, and I still have my student loans to worry about. Like you, my pay at my old job wasn’t amazing, and neither are most of the salaries I see in my new place. I’m very grateful that my boyfriend earns a steady income, otherwise I wouldn’t have made the attempt. I’m wishing you lots of success!

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks E.M.! That means a lot to me. I’m excited to hear about your journey too. Already dealing with a low salary seems to make the jump easier. I wasn’t making close to 50k, so I felt like the risks weren’t as large for me. I’m already used to living on less. πŸ™‚

  13. Ebony says:

    I have been want to quit my job for at least 2 years. I am scared and I want to find another job before I quit. I have not been happy or felt like myself since I have been working there. I do so much and get so little in return. The pay is not worth staying to be honest but I have rent to pay. I am just commenting to vent and say that your post has hit home for me. I have a blog that I started then I erased the post because they were basically review on products which I like doing. However, I want my blog to be inspiring and to help someone. I want to also capture my growth because I know that the job I currently have will not be the end of me.

    • Melanie says:

      Start taking the steps to leave. Don’t leave until you’re ready and have some sort of income. But you can do it! A job doesn’t define you and you are so much better than just working your butt off, for little rewards. If you want to chat, feel free to email me!

  14. Yay yay yay yay yay YOU! I am so thrilled, happy, and excited for you. I have no doubt you’ll find success on this new adventure — and that’s a perfect way to think of it, as a new adventure. This is an awesome, fresh chapter and you’re in control of it. Isn’t that an incredibly fantastic and empowering feeling?!

    I wish you nothing but the absolute best. You’re wonderful and deserve it. Big hugs coming you way from me to welcome you to the world of self-employement!
    Kali @ Common Sense Millennial recently posted…Millennials, Stop Putting Your Money in the MattressMy Profile

  15. Athena says:

    Congratulations! I don’t think you’re stupid or crazy, I think you are doing what’s best for you and your situation. Everyone is different and what is good for me, is not good for you and vice versa.

    Last year I really wanted to move out of Vegas so I moved in with a boyfriend very fast and everyone yelled at me and told me I was crazy. Well, maybe for moving in with him so fast, and we did eventually break up, but I’m still glad I moved. I have a job I am so in love with and I am able to do so much with my non profit that I am grateful. I’m finally going back to school. And if I wasn’t single, I wouldn’t have found my current beau who I’m obsessed with.

    Everything works out for a reason so you do you.
    Athena recently posted…Tunes Tuesday- Damian Rice knows my life & an homage to Robert PalmerMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks for this, Athena! It’s hard to make difficult decisions that can alter your life forever. But I’m feeling good about this one. So glad you are doing well now, too! πŸ™‚

  16. Michelle says:

    WOOHOOO! I don’t know why, but I sort of felt like this was coming. Welcome to the club πŸ™‚
    Michelle recently posted…$14,937 in July – My Highest Income MonthMy Profile

  17. Hey congrats! I remember having a similar feeling when I left my first “real job” out of college to freelance — it took me three months to find, it was a good job in many respects, and yet I was pretty unhappy and didn’t see myself growing there. I felt like, on the one hand, I was CRAZY, and on the other, I wanted to make a change and not spend more time on something that wasn’t going anywhere. I’ve regretted a lot of stuff in the intervening decade but I do still feel like making that move was the right one, and it was pretty brave. May it work out well for you!
    Cecilia@thesingledollar recently posted…End of July updateMy Profile

  18. Alicia says:

    Holy Cow! Everyone is making the jump! That’s totally understandable honestly. I’m glad you have 3 months of expenses tucked away, and I can’t wait to see how you do with your day time freed up to take on more work or gigs. πŸ™‚
    Alicia recently posted…Sometimes Things Line Up…My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I know, I kind of wanted to be like, “ok, I’m another pf cliche!” or “I’ve succumb to peer pressure!” or something silly, haha. I plan on increasing savings and hustling my butt off. Luckily my grad loans aren’t due until 2015 — but I’ll still put money towards them each month.

  19. Congrats Melanie! I’m sure it will at times be stressful, but definitely worth it. You’re just another inspiration to us 9-5ers hoping to one day make the transition. Great work πŸ™‚
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…truly passive incomeMy Profile

  20. Morgaine says:

    Good for you Melanie! I’ve read some of your freelance pieces, they’re really good! And you’re already such a hustler, you’ll do great! πŸ™‚
    Morgaine recently posted…Weekly Spending: July 28 – Aug 3My Profile

  21. Congratulations, Melanie! I absolutely understand your hesitancy, but doesn’t quitting your job feel amazing? I’ve learned that health and happiness is way more important than any amount of money. Plus, you actually have a plan and additional revenue coming in. You’ll look back a couple of months from now and be so glad that you finally took the plunge!
    Addison @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…Is Monetizing a Blog Selling Out?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, it kind of does! I saw your update too, so congrats! I’m excited to follow your journey as well. Once I get settled, I really want to start doing some of the things that I’ve neglected for so long, like exercise and language learning, etc.

  22. Good for you! My goal is to one day follow your footsteps and be able to quit my 9-5 to concentrate on my own stuff. I’m far from that now, but I’m working hard everyday to accomplish that.
    Aldo @ MillionDollarNinja recently posted…Is It Better to Buy or Rent?My Profile

  23. Melanie you’ve always been one of my biggest supporters and have offered me words of encouragement in the past, so I wish nothing but the best for your new venture, and hope it brings you happiness!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Can You Spare 15 Minutes?My Profile

  24. You reap what you sow…And it looks like you’re heading for a bumper crop.

    Keep on growing. It suits you.

    May the sun shine bright on your hopes and dreams in the weeks and months to come.

  25. Congrats to you and good luck on your new journey! I always admire bloggers who take a leap of faith (not that it was a complete leap of faith since you’ve been freelancing and compared the 2 incomes). Good luck with everything…looking forward to hear about this new chapter of your life.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Our β€œThrow it Away” SocietyMy Profile

  26. anna says:

    OH MY GOSH – how incredibly exciting!! A huge congrats fully delving into the freelancing world, Melanie! You’ve always been such a great writer with amazing tips and interesting topics, I know you’ll be successful! Best wishes and congrats, my friend!! πŸ™‚
    anna recently posted…Pregnancy Notes: The Good, The Bad, and The FunnyMy Profile

  27. Joe says:

    Wow, that’s a big step. Congratulation! I think you’ll do great with self employment. You are talented and work hard so you’re already half way there. πŸ™‚
    Good luck!
    Joe recently posted…Am I Addicted to Investing?My Profile

  28. Wendy says:

    WOW. Melanie, I am so freaking excited for you! You know I’ve always been your biggest fan and I know you will succeed at this. Freelance world, watch out for Melanie! πŸ™‚

  29. Lindsay says:

    Wow! A big decision but an awesome one, too! Good luck with it…I think following our hearts is one of the best things we can do. After all, we only have one life! Plus writing is the best! Lindsay x
    Lindsay recently posted…To Anyone Who’s Ever Had To CompromiseMy Profile

  30. Taylor says:

    OMG CONGRATS!! Now I’m even sadder I can’t make it to FinCon! That’s really amazing news. I know you’re going to kick serious butt as a freelancer.
    Taylor recently posted…Do You Take Your Own Advice?My Profile

  31. CMS says:

    Awesome! I heard about your new direction yesterday. It’s still”work”, but it’s your work. Another benefit of it is mobility in your residence. Wherever you want to go, it can go with you.

  32. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! As you know, Melanie, I am a big fan of chicks with the balls to take risks. Yes, this is scary and yes you will question yourself all the time, but what is the point of living your life if you are not really going to live it. I am proud of you and let me know how I can support you in any way!!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Least ComplicatedMy Profile

  33. Melanie – I’m so inspired by your guts and bravery! It sounds like you’re doing great! Yes, I’m sure it’s a tough road, but I think you’ll sleep better knowing that you made this decision on your own.
    Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans recently posted…July 2014 Net Worth UpdateMy Profile

  34. I want to get idea for freelancing for those who have quit their job.
    I quit my job now what recently posted…Become An Uber Driver– One of the Best Career Change IdeasMy Profile

  35. martine says:

    I know this is an old post but boy am I grateful I found it. I don;t even know what I googled to come across this. It spoke to my heart because I am in a similar situation and I literally just drafted my resignation letter. You’ve inspired me more than you know!

  36. Tia says:

    Extremely inspiring!

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