As you may have noticed, I haven’t been updating this site as regularly as I had in the past. I was previously blogging about paying off debt, putting every extra dollar you could towards getting out of debt, and making smart money decisions along the way. It was what I was doing, so chronicling the challenges I faced and things I learned while paying off debt came pretty naturally to me.
But last year, I started embarking on a different journey. One that was very important to me but also something I couldn’t share publicly just yet.
And because my goals had shifted and changed so much from the original reason for publishing on this site, I felt like I couldn’t write about it. In addition to that, I couldn’t share this secret with some of the people in my life, because…well you’ll find out in a minute.
Because I wasn’t actively paying off my loans and writing debt reports, it felt inauthentic to pretend like I was, or to publish articles about how important paying off student loans is while I’m saving money – so I didn’t end up publishing much of anything. It killed me to just leave you guys wondering for that long but I really couldn’t publish a post about this.
But the time has come where I can share that journey with you all.
So what have I been up to for the last several months?
I’ve been preparing to quit my full-time job and take my “side business” full-time. So I stopped paying off debt and started saving money instead. I was saving up enough money to quit my job and go full-time with my side business and I needed to have some cash on the side in case I don’t make any money the first year.
Now of course, I already have clients and money coming in from this business so I really doubt that will happen, but there are also emergencies I can’t predict and who knows what can happen in a year.
Why couldn’t I post here about this journey?
Well my boss and other coworkers had been amazingly supportive in my journey to pay off debt and many of them were also reading the blog. Since I wasn’t sure exactly when I’d have the money saved, it wasn’t like I could give a date of when I was planning to leave. So I couldn’t just tell them I’d be done in 6 months and that was that, it was a little more difficult.
I’ve Saved Enough Money to Quit My Job
It took me this long, but I’ve saved up a good chunk of money that will last me for 8-12 months as long as something grave doesn’t happen.
So, in late April, I handed in my resignation letter. Even after saving money for so long, it was still an extremely hard decision to make. I had been with the company for over 7 years – it was my first “real job” out of college.
The company taught me a lot about relationships, business, and marketing, and I’m forever grateful for the people I’ve worked with along this journey.
But I have the itch to try and make this work on my own, and I’ll never know if I’ll be successful at it until I try. In my eyes, I can always go get another job if I fail – marketing isn’t going away. And if I can’t find a job in my field, I’m more than willing to try other industries and do what I need to get by.
This is a big risk in many people’s eyes, but at the same time I’ve tried to mitigate the known risks as much as I could before leaving.
In addition, no job is “stable.” And if it seems that way today, tomorrow could absolutely change that. I want to do what I can to get closer to the lifestyle I want to live and take control of my “stability.”
With all of that said, moving forward this blog is going to cover what it’s like to prepare to leave your day job, the challenges I faced and will face along the way, and other entrepreneurship/side hustle related topics. Of course, having written and learned a lot about personal finance in my life, that will likely come out in the future of this site.
Thanks for being so patient and understanding this huge shift in my life.
If you have any ideas for articles, have experience with this and want to share it here, or any words of encouragement, please comment below or submit them here.
My friend Joseph Hogue of MyStockMarketBasics.com wrote this great guide to help you save for goals after paying off your debt. This post does contain affiliate links. Thanks for putting this together, Joseph!
Use this guide to make investing easy and reach your financial goals after achieving your freedom from debt. I read an excellent guest post on BrightCents last year about what to do after paying off your debt.
It’s a topic too often neglected on a lot of personal finance blogs. We spend so much time talking about budgeting and achieving that freedom from debt that little room is left for what to do afterwards.
Stephanie Halligan is the author for the new book. Art to Self: Cartoon Notes to Remind You of Your Awesomeness. Take it away Stephanie!
“Follow your passion!”
That advice is a tough pill to swallow.
Follow your passion is missing one key ingredient: money. Follow your passion doesn’t come with instructions on how to make a living doing what you love.
Follow your passion actually never worked for me.
My motto? “Test out your passion to see where it sticks.”
That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. And that’s how I finally found a way to make money doing what I was born to do.
My Journey From Childhood Dream to Actually Making Money
As a kid, I wanted to grow up and be a cartoonist. I knew I would be a cartoonist because I was a cartoonist – it’s what I did everyday. I spent my childhood watching Looney Tunes, reading Calvin and Hobbes and dreaming of becoming a Disney animator. Fueled by the support of my family and teachers, I cartooned my way through elementary, middle and high school (and even won the award for “Best Artist” my senior year).
But fast forward to high school graduation, and I did not want to be a cartoonist… because that’s when I realized that cartoonists do not make money.
That’s where the “follow your passion” equation fell apart for me. So I pushed my art to the side to pursue more practical and lucrative things. I went off to college and earned a degree in international relations from Boston University.
After graduation, I landed an “adult” job in Washington, D.C. where I began my career in financial education. I even started a personal finance blog.
I was earning a decent living. Even though the money was there, something was missing.
After four years in the workforce, I quit my full-time job, started my own consulting practice and began the deliberate effort to find out what that missing piece was.
And that’s when—after an eight-year-long hiatus—I remembered that I loved to draw. I didn’t know how I was going to start putting my art into the world. But I knew that I needed to. I must.
That’s when I started to test out my passion.
The Great Passion Experiment
I started by adding cartoons to my personal finance website. It was the only place I could think of at the time, and the perfect place to try my hand at online cartoons. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so I started drawing more and more and my cartoons began taking on motivational quality to them.
For a year and a half, I kept drawing online. I would pitch myself to other blogs and companies, offering custom cartoons to anyone who would bite. I even experimented with “buy this print” buttons on my blog to see what would sell (I sold two).
All the while, I had no idea what I was doing. But I kept sharing my cartoons with the world. I knew it would take tons of experimenting to find “my thing.”
It took three years of experimenting to come up with the idea that finally started to make money: ArtToSelf.com
I started Art to Self as a place to share my cartoons with the world every single day without any expectations for making money. But I had hopes.
So every day, I would send out a motivational cartoon note. As my fan base grew, I started experimenting with asking for donations. And as my collection of cartoon notes piled up, I realized I had something special on my hands. So I took my best cartoons and put them together into a book.
Finally, I had found the thing that would make me money and make me happy.
This is where I am today: a professional motivational cartoonist that makes money doing what I love. I’ve cobbled together my own career and found weird and creative ways to make money.
As a kid, I knew I would be a cartoonist. But I would have never guessed that it would look like this.
I’m glad I tested it out.
Steph Halligan is the motivational cartoonist behind Art To Self, a daily inspirational cartoon newsletter. Her book, Art to Self, was published this month, and is available at ArtToSelf.com/Book.
I’ve known since the day I bought my car that it probably wasn’t the best of ideas. It was an older Honda Civic, I had no one with me when I bought it, and even though I had so many questions about it, I asked barely any.
I tried my hardest to do the right thing and shop around, etc. but after all was said and done, I got impatient and bought the damn thing.
That was in 2013, and ever since that day, I’ve been too stubborn to admit that I had made a mistake when I signed the papers.