This article was originally published on June 2, 2016.
Money is a very personal subject. People are rarely honest about their financial situation with others, and some are even in denial with themselves about their financial standing. So what happens when you find yourself making less than half of your previous income?
Well, for starters, making such a drastic financial change sparked a reality check for me. When I was in my previous job making my comfortable salary, there was very little that I ever denied myself of in terms or wants or needs. There were a lot of impulsive purchases and spontaneous trips. And the more I made, the more I spent. But all that changed as soon as I quit my job.
When I quit, I was simultaneously terrified and relieved. It was terrifying not to know how I was going to make ends meet and a relief that I was completely free to do anything and everything. So I prioritized what was important to me in terms of finances. I figured out what I needed to earn a month to cover my essentials, rent, bills, and extras. Once I knew what that amount was, I was able to figure out how much income I needed. So I started with what I know best, me. I mean, who knows you better than yourself and what your strengths and talents are. So I put all my eggs in different baskets and waited and hoped to see which ones hatched. And slowly they did.
The key was becoming resourceful–knowing what you’re good at, believing that you could do it, following through with what you set out to do, and not giving up. If one thing doesn’t work, then you try another and another until eventually something pans out. Because of where things were in my personal life, I knew I not only needed but wanted the freedom to be able to work on my own schedule, and I applied to numerous companies offering remote positions. Eventually, I signed with one, and I was able to relax a little. However, I still knew I needed another additional position to make up the rest of my budget. So I continued to apply, and in the meantime, I became an entrepreneur, a freelancer, and an independent contractor.
I turned to my closet first, all the rewards that I reaped from my previous position were now about to benefit me in a different way. I cleaned house literally and figuratively and put everything up on Ebay and a few other resale sites. Clothes with price tags still on them, numerous red-soled wonder shoes and vintage collectibles, things that I’d once been able to buy with the swipe of a card and without a second thought. I wasn’t sure if anything would come of it but to my surprise, one thing after another began to sell.
I’ve always been a creative. I can and do it all from repurposing vintage items, refinishing furniture, making jewelry, pouring candles, and knitting and sewing. So I revisited my passions, along with my Etsy account that I had abandoned a year or two earlier and brought them back to life.
I also started baking. Something I’ve always loved and always been good at. Cupcakes, cookies, breads, and pies. Friends and family have been super supportive and encouraging. Because of the home kitchen codes in my county, it hasn’t been the most lucrative of the endeavors but every order helps. An extra $30 or $40 here and there isn’t too shabby, and it provides firsthand “taste” of mouth for friends of friends, which opens the door to new contacts.
So I got my hustle on as I like to call it. I had to let nature take its course. There were ebbs and flows in demand for everything and in the moments of anxiety thinking I wasn’t going to pull it off, something would suddenly pick back up. In the famous word of Michael Corleone, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Eventually, I picked up another remote position which allowed me to meet my financial goal. So between my two contracts and my side gigs, I’ve become the master of my fate. I can work from home, any time of day, and enjoy the flexibility that it provides. I don’t have a 9 to 5 with salary, benefits, and a comfortable income, but I also don’t have a boss breathing down my neck, a commute, or the stress that came with that position.
What I’ve learned through all of this is that I don’t need half of what I use to want. Cutting my income has made me reevaluate my finances and look at my lifestyle in an honest way. When your relationship with money changes, and you don’t have as much money as you used to, the less you rely on it for anything other than your personal necessities. I’ve stopped using my credit cards, so I only pay for things with cash or debit now, and if I don’t need it I don’t buy it. I practice the three R’s, reducing my spending, recycling everything from cans to clothing, and reusing or repurposing any item that can have a second–or third!–life.
You can have a full life without a full bank account. It took some adjusting to get used to this new income bracket, but it has been worth the shift. Initially, you panic a little bit, but then eventually you catch your breath and let out a little sigh of relief. You realize that with that 50% financial loss, you’ve doubled your personal freedom gain. And how rich is that?
Have you found yourself living on less money and turning to creative ways to make ends meet?
Also by Danielle: How I Knew I Had to Quit My Day Job
Related: Inspired Living: On Not Letting Fear Get in The Way
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