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Series: Life After Salary

This article was written by in Career and Work. 12 comments.


In December 2010, I left the day job where I had worked since 2002. My intent was to focus on Consumerism Commentary, the blog I started in 2003, and other related projects, without distraction from a nine-to-five day job. By that time, the revenue generated by my projects significantly exceeded my day job salary — including the value of my corporate benefits — and I had put my other fears to rest. I made the jump from employed individual with a side business to full-time business owner.

I’ve been chronicling my thoughts and experiences with my newfound control over my life and time in the “Life After Salary” series here at Consumerism Commentary. Here are the articles included in the series so far.

Structure and Motivation. “Time management has never been my strength. I like working at my own pace, and the certain working structures, like deadlines, tend to annoy me rather than motivate me. It’s no wonder I’m excited about leaving a job with a typical standardized nine-to-five schedule. I allow myself distractions and breaks and often procrastinate.” Read more.

Individual Health Insurance. “Now that I’ll be leaving my corporate job and leaving behind the benefits a salaried position afforded me, I need to begin looking at alternative options for those benefits. One of the first concerns on my list is health insurance. Inside the company, our annual benefits enrollment period was completed only a few weeks ago, so the cost of insurance is fresh in my mind.” Read more.

Saving for Retirement. “One of the benefits of earning income outside of a day job while not significantly increasing my expenses has been the ability to fully invest in a 401(k) plan. Assuming one can trust the chances of the stock market (and the financial industry) to produce impressive results over the long term, the 401(k) is the vehicle most people will use to provide some stability in retirement. With a 401(k), employees can defer a good portion of their taxes until the future…” Read more.

The Human Connection. “Working in an office on a team with other employees is a social activity. Although there is work to be done and goals to accomplish, and although most of us stare at computer screens all day and spend most of the time in a cubicle or an office, many tasks require communicating with the people around us.” Read more.

COBRA vs. Individual Health Insurance. “Last month, I didn’t know what to expect regarding COBRA coverage. My notice arrived last week, and with the cost in hand, I’m ready to decide whether to continue the same coverage I had from my former employer through COBRA or to seek opening a plan from New Jersey’s list of providers…” Read more.

One Month Without a Paycheck. “I’d love to say that working fully for myself has been perfect, I’m fully acclimated to my new working environment, and I’ve improved my time management skills. Alas, none of that is true…” Read more.

Rolling Over My Pension. “In a country where large employers are offering fewer defined benefit plans, like pensions, and more defined contribution plans, like 401(k)s, it’s surprising I have a pension…” Read more. Added February 10, 2011.

Changes in My Expenses. “Leaving behind a salary and benefits was a tough decision to make, and I wasn’t under the illusion that I’d be able to make up for the lost income solely by saving money. Predicting my future expenses wasn’t difficult. Some expenses would automatically decrease, like travel expenses, while some would likely increase, like heating bills. There was at least one surprise, however.” Read more. Added February 14, 2011.

401(k) Rollover. “It often makes sense to roll over a 401(k) when you leave a job. I’m considering a 401(k) rollover to a discount brokerage to alleviate some of the problems I have with my former employer’s retirement plan. These problems are common among employer plans, even those managed by the same discount brokerages you’d likely consider to receive a rollover.” Read more. Added April 28, 2011.

Structure and Motivation, Five Months Later. “When I embarked on this journey, I assumed my days would feel longer because I’d be working almost completely alone, spending my days and nights in the same location without much variation in scenery. I thought I’d have free time to spend on other projects in addition to increased focus on Consumerism Commentary. I figured I may travel more and work from remote locations when the lack of variation bugged me.” Read more. Added May 27, 2011.

401(k) Rollover Complete. “With one call on June 1 to Vanguard and one conference call with Vanguard to my former employer’s 401(k) department, everything was set into motion.” Read more. Added June 7, 2011.

Selling Company Stock. “Rather than continue waiting for the stock price to rise back to its lifetime maximum, which could take years and is not guaranteed, I put in an order to sell the company stock I purchased between December 2007 and June 2009.” Read more. Added July 1, 2011.

As more articles are added to this series, this page will be updated to include links and excerpts.

Updated July 1, 2011 and originally published January 25, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar LifeAndMyFinances

I can see where motivation might go out the window. You might get that, “I’ve made it” feeling and want to relax a little, but this is the time that you must work the hardest! Good luck to you. You are truly an inspiration to us all! :)

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avatar Will @ HackingTheBank.com ♦258 (Nickel)

Flexo, I absolutely love this series. As someone who has had some limited entrepreneurial success and would really like to leave the 7-10 job I look forward to each new post in the series. Always good to learn from the experiences of others and I appreciate the honesty of your posts.

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avatar Will @ HackingTheBank.com ♦258 (Nickel)

Oops, hit submit before I wanted to.

Have you been tracking changes to your expenses? I’d be most interested in seeing how your expenses have changed since making the move. In Your Money or Your Life, when calculating your real working wage, Joe & Vicki state that we must consider all of the expenses that come with working life (suits, work lunches, “treats” for working hard, etc.) when calculating our real working wage. As someone who wants to someday do what you’ve done, I’d be interested in knowing what expenses you’ve been able to cut out, and which have been added. I know if I was working on my own, I’d probably spend a lot more time at the coffee shop doing work, so my coffee budget would definitely need to go up, haha.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,475 (Platinum)

It’s hard to know for sure due to seasonal changes, but it’s costing my more to keep my apartment at a comfortable temperature. It’s been a cold winter so far, but I used to leave the heat off while out of the office. Now that I work from home, I want towork comfortably. On the other hand, I used to eat lunch out or buy lunch from the office cafeteria every day; that expense is now non-existent. I’ll write up a post about my expenses. Thanks for the great idea!

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

i will be completely honest, i do not know how you do it. i suppose the path you took to get to where you are was the best move. it is hard for me to imagine putting so much work towards “a project” like you did, while holding down another job. one can only respect how hard you worked diuring that time to position yourself to pursue this passion of yours full time. you worked, and worked, and worked some more to get the site going to a point where it was the logical move to make it “your job.”

i am looking forward to how the site grows now that you can focus on it alone, as well updates to how you evolve and change with regards to all the issues you presented above.

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avatar retirebyforty

I’ll be keeping an eye on this series too. :) I’m very interested in quitting the day job.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

I really liked this series! Very informative…thanks Flexo.

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avatar 20andengaged ♦367 (Nickel)

Thanks for bundling it up for us Flexo. I’m definitely recommending it to friends.

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avatar Barb Friedberg

Hi Flexo, I’ve been following your series with enthusiasm and I think you are sometimes too hard on yourself. You don’t have to be “perfect” , just good enough to make it work well. I have a recommendation that helps me when I telecommute; if you get distracted at home, consider taking your laptop to a library or coffee shop to work. I get a lot done out of the house. BTW, I love the updates!

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦75 (Newbie)

I hear you. Haven’t had a square job since Nov. 2002, except for a two-month summer stint at my old newspaper. Time management is my biggest issue; I find myself still working at 9 p.m. WAY too often.
It’s essential to structure your day. Actually doing this is a challenge, though.
On the other hand, I can take off for a walk when the sun comes out instead of waiting until a mythical 5 p.m. quittin’ time when it may be raining.

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avatar MR ♦295 (Nickel)

Most excellent, and thanks for keeping it real! All to often, writers write about how great it is, or that it was easy… But we all know that there is still stress and risk around such decisions!

For me, it’s good to read articles like these because you are answering questions and writing thoughts that I would have and would want answered!

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avatar 4hendricks ♦248 (Cent)

My job allows for the flexibility of working from home. Too many distractions even when the kids and hubby aren’t home. I need the office.

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