You know the drill, it’s Monday morning and you’ve peeled your eyes open with dread as you contemplate the week ahead. If only you could save enough money to quit your job.
Instead, it’s another day in the soul-sucking trenches, attending meetings to talk about things you no longer care about with people who drive you insane.
It could be that you don’t hate your job, but you hate the office politics.
Perhaps the career you’ve been building for the past 10-15 years just doesn’t align with your values anymore.
Maybe as you’ve climbed higher and higher up the corporate ladder, it’s become less about what you love and more about how many hours of your life you are giving up.
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I know how soul-destroying it is when you have spent years building a career, setting yourself goals and thinking it’s what you want. Only to get to your goal, and realise it isn’t what you want at all. The trade-off of your time is just too high.
In desperation, you try to come up with ideas about what you want to do instead. The books, blogs and magazine articles say ‘just follow your passion, you’ll make millions and be happy forever!‘.
But maybe, like me, you were thinking, I’m so exhausted and strung out, I don’t even know what I like anymore‘.
You know what you used to like doing as a kid, but is that still true now and would you really want to build a business around it?’.
Maybe you already know what business you want to start, you yearn to begin working on it but let’s be honest, in a lot of careers, 9-5 is a joke. Most of the women I know consistently work 10/12/14 hours a day plus some time on the weekends.
Now Gary Vaynerchuk in his book Crush It says that if you want to build a truly successful business, you should be working from 7pm-3am every night after work. I’m sorry Gary, but that is a one-way ticket to causing yourself some serious mental damage. It’s just not going to happen.
I tried to buy a rental property 3 hours away and set up a (different) business while working full-time and nearly had a breakdown (and I don’t mean that flippantly).
So perhaps what you need instead of a business idea, is time. Time to devote 100% to your business and really see if you can get it off the ground.
The only way I eventually started a business (this blog and some other side projects) was to save enough money to leave my job and take a few months first to de-stress. To give myself the headspace to explore ideas and remember what I liked doing for fun.
Now I realise that I was in a very fortunate position, I was earning very good money in my corporate job. It was therefore much easier for me to trim the fat from my spending in order to save some serious cash quickly.
The money saving ideas below still apply no matter what you earn.
How quickly you save and how much you need will largely depend on the gap between what you earn and what you spend. Widen that gap and you will get there quicker.
If you have spent many years building a career in the corporate world then chances are you also have a decent salary. If your salary increased over the years, it’s also likely you have upgraded your lifestyle each time to go with the pay rise.
Nicer shoes, better clothes, more luxurious holidays, bigger house. It is so easy to tell ourselves we deserve these things each time we get a pay rise.
But what if you went through all of your spendings and evaluated whether each of those things was really worth the trade-off of your time?
I truly believe that if you use your money to buy time, instead of things, so many possibilities will open up to you.
This is the ethos that drove me to save £30k so that I could leave my job and support myself for a year while I decided what to do.
I am also a big-scaredy cat, I am a risk taker but I am a very calculated risk taker. There is no way I could have jacked in my job with no money, I would have died of fright.
Go through the steps below and see where you can trim the fat on your spending. These are the exact steps I used.
I am not telling you to hole yourself up in a cardboard box eating only rice crackers. You can still enjoy your life, just make some tweaks to the things that don’t really matter.
Or if you want to go really extreme, have a read about this woman who did a ‘no-spend year’ and paid £22k off her mortgage!
There are 3 major points that are going to help you:
Now, making some life adjustments to save some serious cash is not going to happen if you kind of sort of would like to maybe perhaps leave. No, that will not work.
Then. Then you will commit to making the necessary changes.
Yes, we all know about the ‘latte effect’ and how you should stop buying coffee from overpriced coffee establishments. I’m not going to bother going into that one as we all know what to do. If you are dumping £2.50 to £5 per day on coffees, buy yourself a thermos and get with the program.
But what are the expenses that could make a really big dent in your savings?
This is likely to be the biggest chunk of money that leaves your account each month.
Maybe you own, maybe you rent. Whichever it is, there are definitely ways to save a good chunk of money.
Starting with the most drastic…….
If you live in an expensive area or a house/flat larger than you need then moving could be an option. If you could save £300 a month for instance (this is a made up number), over 12 months that’s £3600 towards your escape fund.
As food for thought, if you using your escape money to set up a business or maybe travel, you might be moving anyway, so you may as well do it a year earlier.
Slightly less drastic and more palatable I imagine……..
If you own your place, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check that you are not on your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). This is very likely to be adding £££ onto your mortgage each month and could easily be reduced by moving to another lender.
Also, the SVR is the interest you are paying. Sorry if I am teaching you to suck eggs here but if reduce your payment by switching to a lower rate, you are not paying any less on the capital, you are just paying less interest.
MoneySavingExpert.com is my all-time, absolute favourite site. Just type ‘remortgage’ in the search bar on the top right of the website to get the information you need.
This really is much easier than it used to be as online mortgage brokers such as Habito have popped up recently.
Seriously. Please see if you can switch, it could make a huge difference to your ability to save.
If you have a spare room you don’t use, could you rent this out to a lodger or put it on Airbnb?
Similarly, if you go on holiday could you rent out your place on Airbnb while you are away to help fund your time away?
Just a caveat on this – if you are renting out a room you need to check with your mortgage lender and the insurance company that you are okay to do this.
Also if you live in a city, there may be restrictions on how long you can rent your place on Airbnb for (some boroughs of London have a 3 month limit per year).
I’ve put fixed costs in quotation marks, as they are expenses that need to be paid each month if you want to keep the lights on and eat, but, that doesn’t mean you can’t still save money on them.
Go through all of your monthly expenses, such as electricity, gas, broadband, mobile phone and see if you can find a cheaper alternative.
Again, MoneySavingExpert.com is compulsory if you live in the UK, there is no way you won’t save money if you use the site. And it really doesn’t take that long. There are alerts you can sign up for too so you don’t necessarily need to diarise it each year.
Just a note on electricity and a shameless plug for Bulb if you live in the UK. I recently switched to Bulb and I think they are amazing.
They provide green energy, their app and site are incredibly user-friendly and they will pay your exit fees from your current provider.
If you use my link IWMLBproject/Bulb you will get £50 off your bill and so will I. You can then use your own referrer link for your friends and family.
If you are concerned about the environment then you can have a read of another of my posts below:
There are many ways to save on a food shop, the number one way is to meal plan. Sit down every Sunday (or whichever day is best for you) and work out exactly what you are going to eat for every meal and what you need to buy.
I recommend looking in your food cupboards and fridge while meal planning so you incorporate things you already have. You are less likely to waste food that way.
The second way to save money on your food shop is to batch cook. Buying the ingredients for a casserole for 6 meals is infinitely cheaper than buying for 6 different recipes.
Although this sounds counter-intuitive to pay someone to do your meal planning for you, all the meal plans they send you are very low cost so you should still end up saving money.
The third way to save money is to sign up for the supermarket’s reward scheme. Most supermarkets offer points or vouchers if you sign up with them. Sainsbury’s for example regularly sends me £15 off £60 vouchers.
The fourth way is through a cashback site such as TopCashBack. I use this site a lot when buying things I was going to purchase anyway.
I check their site to see whether the retailer I am buying from is on their site. Then I go through their link to the retailer’s site and purchase as normal. This earns me a bit of money back with no extra effort.
These are expenses that are not essential for you to live. These are things like gym memberships, meals out, entertainment (cinema, gig tickets etc), clothes, beauty products, holidays.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you need to cut out all of these things. You and only you know what is really important to you and what you are happy to cut out.
It all boils down to what makes you happier than quitting your job. For me, I still spent on holidays while I was saving as they are too important to me.
I was extremely frugal with beauty products though. I also didn’t have a gym membership and I reduced my spending on clothes and shoes. These things just weren’t worth the tradeoff of having to stay in an office.
Once you have been through all of your expenditures and worked out how much you can save each month, it’s sensible to open a savings account. You can set up a direct debit to transfer the money each month when you get paid.
That way you won’t be tempted to bargain with yourself if there is a nice sum of money sat in your current account.
I am willing to bet good money to have stuff lying about in your home that you don’t use.
The less crap you have, the less you have to maintain. Have a read here about Minimalism which explains the concept in more detail.
You would be amazed at what people will pay for on eBay. I have sold old Sega Mega Drive games (for about a tenner each), my Dad’s old tech gadgets, worn shoes.
If you aren’t sure how to go about doing this, have a look at this post here from EmmaDrew.Info. Emma makes money buying at jumble sales and selling on eBay so she knows her shizzle.
Not only will this make you some money, it will also start to clear some headspace. The less stuff you have, the less you have to think about.
I’m not going to lie, I am useless at this and have never done it. Instead, I never stayed in a job for more than 3 years and I didn’t move unless I was getting a significant pay rise.
If you are confident and have a good case for a pay rise then go for it. If you could move companies and spend a year or two earning a lot more, then do that.
Another good way that worked for me was to take secondments abroad. This may not suit your personal circumstance but if it does it can seriously accelerate your savings.
Secondments often pay living expenses while you are away. I was seconded to New Zealand for a year and had my rent, phone, car, and petrol paid for……
As I said before, I tried to do this while working full-time and nearly lost my sh*t. It didn’t work for me.
If you have a way of making money that you can do around your day job, then absolutely do it.
You know yourself and what you have the time and mental capacity for. Make the decision based on your personal circumstance.
If you want to start a business you can have a read of some of my other blog posts on this topic:
Once you have worked out how much you can save each month by reducing your spending and increasing your income. Work out how long you want your escape fund to last for.
If you want to take a year off and spend £2k per month (again, made up number), you will need £24k.
By saving £50o a month, it will take you 4 years to leave. If you can save £1k per month, you’ll do it in 2 years, if you can save £2k a month, you’ll do it in a year.
If you really, really want to save money and quit your job, you will find a way. All of the above tips will help you get their faster. And I promise you, it is so worth it.
Or you might get to the end of the 6 months or the year and decide that actually you just needed a break. You are now ready to go back to the corporate world with a fresh perspective.
That is completely fine. Now you know that if you keep saving each month, the next time you need a break, it won’t be such a big deal.
If you have an escape fund covering your expenses, you really have nothing to lose.
Do you dream of quitting your job?
Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)