Except for the first two years of my career, I’ve been self employed. First as a small business owner, then as a contract optometrist. Being my own boss has been a great experience, but very soon I’ll be quitting self employment for a traditional job. Although this flies in the face of those longing to leave the 9-5 lifestyle, it’s the right decision for this stage of my life and career.
Self Employment is Great Until it Isn’t
I don’t regret being my own boss for all these years. Being in charge allowed me to take off when I wanted, leave work to pick up my kid, and control how much or how little I worked.
However, years of managing employees, dealing with self employment taxes and paperwork, and having to work like a fiend before, after, and occasionally even during time off does wear you down.
I am a huge believer in hustling. both in your day job and beyond. I don’t think I’ve ever had a traditional 40 hour work week. Even after cutting back on being an optometrist, I made up for the downtime with blogging and freelance writing. That was a game changer as we’ve paid off debt and been able to save and invest.
We now have more than enough income to fund our lifestyle and meet savings goals. Since we are in a low cost of living area, it’s much easier than in more expensive parts of the country. I also know Jim and I will be working for at least 10 more years. He is just getting started on the administrative part of his career, and I probably will work at least as long as he does.
Plus, I’m tired and want to try spending evenings and weekends doing something besides work or thinking about work. We’ve decided it’s OK for me to slow down and have one job.
Won’t You Be Bored?
With most day jobs, I probably would be bored, but the position I’m taking is with the Indian Health Service. The job might be lots of things, but boring is not one of them. I’m very excited to join the clinic staff and build the optometry clinic to what I know it can be. Up until now, it’s been limping along with a few contractor hours per week. The majority of the adult patient base has severe health problems, and there is an extreme need for eye care.
And as hard as I know I’ll work for the hours I’m in clinic, I will be able to leave at the end of the day and not have to worry about after hours calls, insurance billing, or the latest employee drama. Finally, a job I can actually leave at the office!
I know tons of people who take steady jobs for the health insurance or retirement benefits. I’m not one of those. As frustrating as self employment health insurance is, it’s doable. You also have many retirement plan options outside of work 401(k)s. So while it’s nice to have an employer 401(k) and HSA match with really good health insurance, that’s very low on my list of reasons for taking this job.
My other huge concern about going back to work full time was vacations. Yes, I am already planning vacation time before even starting my first official day at work. In fact, I turned down the job once out of concern that I wouldn’t have enough time off.
However, the clinic was willing to negotiate and work with me to get the time off I required. Not only will we still be able to take vacations for all the school breaks like we do now, but I will also be able to take off all the teacher work days when school is out to hang with my kiddo.
When you include all the government holidays, I’ll actually have more time off than I take now, and I won’t have to worry about not getting paid while on vacation.
Are You Quitting Side Hustles Altogether?
Yes and no. I am going to step away from blogging and won’t be posting regularly, but you’ll still hear from me every now and then. Our other big side hustle is real estate, and that’s one we hope to keep forever. In fact, I toured a potential new rental just a couple of weeks ago. We aren’t looking to rush into anything but do hope to add a few more properties when the right ones come along.
While you won’t see me as often out in the blogosphere, I’ll still be reading, learning, and being inspired by all the PF people out there who are doing amazing things. Even though it isn’t in the cards for me to make millions online, I am extremely grateful for all the support you guys have given me over the past three plus years.
Personal finance is very personal, and we all should remember that when a path is right for someone else, it might not be right for you. Always keep your Eyes on the Dollar but also do what brings you joy. If you can accomplish those two things, it’s hard to go wrong.