As most of my readers are aware, I’m in my early thirties. What you might not be aware of is that I’ve been working full time since I was 16 years old, never having attended (or even desired to attend) formal college. My income level has increased almost every year. I currently work as an IT Manager for an insurance company, and for the most part I enjoy what I do.
Over the years I’ve moved from hands-on IT guy into a more hands-off management role. That transition has had its pros and cons; the pros are that I am more involved with the inner workings of the company and bring home a larger paycheck, and the cons are that I deal more with people than technology, and I’m always on call if something goes awry (or if the company president has an epiphany at 8:30pm that he wants to vet).
To be honest it’s been a very good ride over the last 10+ years. I enjoy new challenges and have been presented with many. I like having the opportunity to grow, learn, develop, and participate when it comes to my job. My job has also provided for my needs, and the needs of my family. Plus, the people I work with are top-notch.
Then, about 4 years ago, I had a daughter. Anyone else out there had their world changed by becoming a parent? Thought so!
When my daughter was born my priorities for my time flipped upside down. Instead of grabbing some coffee at Starbucks and arriving to work early some days to “get some quality time in before the bell rings” I started pushing my departure to the last minute. Instead of casually leaving the office a few minutes after 5, or allowing myself to get caught in some water-cooler talk at 4:58, I started watching the clock much more closely and jetting home as quickly as possible. I loved hanging out with my little girl!
Not Enough Hours In The Day
Whenever I hear someone who doesn’t have kids yet say “my week has just been so busy” I can’t help but roll my eyes (inwardly, of course) and think “they will understand one day”. Kids have a way of dominating your time whether you want them to or not! My wife and I had a son 2 years after my daughter, and we would love to have another one.
But boy, kids take time. Not only do they take time, they crave time. They love to talk with me, hang out with me, play games and go outside with me. They want to learn everything I can teach them and be like me. Which makes it hard to leave early and arrive home late and have any quality time with them, because they don’t grab coffee at 6am like I do! And their bedtime is around 8pm, so my time with them is extremely limited.
The Eight To Five Grind
As the years go by I am more and more aware of just how much time I spend away from the house, working. I leave the house around 7:15 and return home around 5:45. I get paid for 8 hours of work, but am gone from home 10.5 hours each day, at a minimum. That doesn’t take into account the hours I’m working on extra server issues, or answering random emails from our sales representatives.
I’ve recently begun to consider what kind of side jobs (or “hustles” as I see them called now) I could turn into small income streams for myself, and hopefully ditch working full time at the office in a few years. I have a few ideas about what I could do, based on my current talent set. Then again, if we are able to pay off our mortgage in 2015, as we are on track to do, then I would likely have a ton of freedom to experiment with other lines of work. Our annual budget outside of our mortgage is around $25k/year, so it wouldn’t take that much to sustain that income level.
My Income Ideas
I have some experience in setting up WordPress sites for folks, and have built some websites from scratch (hand-coded) which I enjoy. I also enjoy stock trading (not investing, but technical trend-trading), but that takes having some serious money saved up first, like $50k+. I’ve also been blogging for a bit now, and who knows? Maybe that could help out in a few years too!
The beauty of the whole concept is that my “base” would be working from home, and I could work as much or as little as needed in order to provide for my family. If I wanted to teach a couple of my kids’ home-school classes, I could do that. If an attractive opportunity came along that I wanted to investigate, I’d have the freedom to pursue it.
I was talking to my dad about this plan last night. He’s been laid off from his job for almost a year now, and he’s been living this way already, though his situation is less pleasant than what I’m envisioning for myself. He wishes that he’d been trying to grow his income streams over the last few years, before his layoff, because he would much rather live without a full-time job. But he wasn’t ready for it, and, as he said to me, “you gotta pay the bills.” He’s once again actively seeking full time employment and looking at possibly going back to work for the company that laid him off last year.
I just can’t help thinking though, that if I could turn 10.5 hours of my time every day into productive work for myself, I could make something good come of it. And in a perfect world I’d be able to provide for my family (and then some) with only 8 hours of work each day, giving me 2.5 hours every day with my family that I’ve not had before. It would take time, and probably some tough sledding over the next few years in order to prepare for it, but the long-term benefits are extremely attractive to me.
What do you think about my desire to have multiple small income streams instead of a full-time job? Have you lived (or do you live) this way? I would love to get some advice and/or criticism on what I’ve laid out here from those with more experience.