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.