The older you get the harder it becomes to quit your career and start something new. The more you earn, the harder it is to replace your income. The more you spend, the harder it is to survive on a low income. And the more responsibilities you have the Now is the best time ever for you to start.
In this episode we discuss the above, but also the flip side. The more you earn, the more money you have to cushion your new project. The more you spend, the more room you have to cut expenses. And the more responsibilities you have, the greater the benefit from having control of your own time.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:
01:05 – Emma’s friend’s criticism of Sam
02:07 – Why Sam got a master’s
03:20 – Benefits of reducing living expenses
04:50 – Three areas that make starting a business difficult: Income, expenses and responsibility
05:50 – Emma on the importance of mindset
07:30 – Quitting a high paying brokerage job to start an online bookshop
10:00 – Discussing the social pressure of quitting your job
11:57 – Big lifestyle changes
14:55 – Example of friend’s downgrading their lifestyle in favor of pursuing personal interests
18:20 – Difficulties with the hedonistic treadmill
SAM: Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Lazy Entrepreneur, we’re your hosts Sam and Emma Priestley.
SAM: Today we’re talking to you from, well actually we’re still in Bangkok as we have been for the last couple of episodes. But we’re off today and tomorrow we’ll be in Singapore which should be fun, so you have any suggestions of what to do there please email us at hello at sam priestley dot com and then we’re going to Bali, so if you happen to be in Bali if you’re digital nomads then we look us up. So Emma it was not long ago that you met up with a friend who happened to also listen to the podcast. Bit randomly, which I was very chuffed about my. Quite nice isn’t it when someone out of the blue said, oh I listened to that podcast. But what I was a little less chuffed about was her criticism, her feedback for the podcast. She basically said something on the lines of, well it’s all well and good for him, he’s never had to work. I couldn’t do that, I have a job, I have a mortgage, etc etc.
EMMA: Yeah she was talking about the financial burden of the life that she lives, or we all live and she can’t afford to quit your job and then start a business you actually want to do.
SAM: Yeah and why is that? So it kind of got me thinking, what is it about my story, because she said it was easier for me then it would be for her.
SAM: And why is that, why? So for those of you that don’t know, I started doing business through my own business when I was at university, and then when I graduated I went off and did a masters, so I would be able to work while doing a masters and not actually spend too much time on it but also I’ll have something to put on my CV because I had this like fear there that no job would respect the idea of starting your own business and that I’d have like a weird year or two gap in my CV if it all failed that I wouldn’t be able to explain. Makes no sense at all because
EMMA: I’ve never actually heard you say that.
SAM: Have you not?
SAM: Well that’s why I did it yeah. I needed a CV filler in case all this fails and if you have to go and get into the real world.
EMMA: Get a job.
SAM: Yeah because you’re taught to get a job you need to have a degree and that’s the most important thing and that this traditional route is what will make you most employable. What they don’t tell you is that everybody else is taking that traditional route, and the way to make yourself employable is if you have done something similar but then you also want to have done some interesting stuff as well.
SAM: So I think my CV probably would have looked better if I hadn’t done the Masters and had just done the business instead. Both sounds a bit ridiculous.
EMMA: But you didn’t have the confidence to do that because that’s not how you were told to live your life.
SAM: No no that’s not the common wisdom, that’s not the advice you get from the careers adviser. So I was a student at the time which meant I had no money.
EMMA: But you also had low living costs.
SAM: I was living as a student, all my peers were students, so for me to start a business, it’s not like I was giving up an income. I was just able to kind of carry on living the same lifestyle I was. And the amount of money I had to earn to equal the life that I had before was really, really low.
SAM: And anything was better than nothing.
EMMA: Yes, there’s a really low entry but also like massive opportunity that you could actually earn quite a lot of money relative to what you were used to earning.
SAM: Yeah I could escape that horror of having to get a job at the end. Well it kind of got me thinking, I think there’s sort of three areas where it was easier for me back then than it would be for your friend or someone else who wants to start us at like the older age and I think each of these is just gonna get harder and harder the older you get, the longer you wait.
SAM: Yeah, it’s never gonna be easier in the future and you do hear people saying I’m gonna wait until I get promotion at work before doing my own thing, I’m just gonna work really hard for this. I’m just gonna wait to the kids go off to university, then I’ll have loads of free time and I’ll be able to work on this. I’m just going to wait until I’ve finished this project I’m working on, whatever is and the idea it’s going to get easier in the future and that the things holding you back now are going to disappear, and actually I think the opposite is true. That earning more, having a better life, it just makes it harder and as you get older you just get more and more responsibilities as you get older. And, more and more problems with yourself as well. Like health-wise, and things like that. So what I want to do is talk about the sort of three areas, so I’ve got you know, income expenses, and responsibilities which I think of those three areas and then talk about how we can flip that around and say that actually, the stuff that which you think is holding you back, how ridiculous is it that earning a high income makes it harder for you to go and do something you want?
SAM: That’s absolutely nonsense.
EMMA: Yes but it’s true!
SAM: But it’s true! So I wanna talk about how we can flip that around a little bit and its what I want to talk to you about because this was a situation you were in where you had a very high income job compared to your peers which you had to give up and you have very high expenses which you then have to give up, and all that kind of thing. So we’ll have a little chat maybe it’ll be helpful for your friend or for anyone else listening who’s thinking well it was so much easy for him or there’s going to be a better time in the future. The best time is now, it’s only gonna get harder but if it feels hard, there’s probably ways you can make it easier, there’s probably advantages to the stuff you have.
EMMA: Yeah I think a lot of it’s about mindset and I think a lot of people will relate to this.
SAM: Yeah cool. Okay so let’s talk about income then to start on. There’s this weird thing that the more you make, the harder it is to go and do your own thing. Which is counterintuitive because you’d think that earning a lot of money meant you could save a lot, which meant you’d have a big cushion.
SAM: For trying something new. But that’s not really how it works because we want to be improving the whole time, so it’s very hard to give up a high income and downgrade to a lower income and to replace the income you have, let’s say you’re a 35 year old working in the city at the peak of your career. To replace that income, starting something from scratch. Yeah of course it’s possible but it’s gonna be a lot of work.
SAM: Whereas to replace your grad salary, your starter job just after you’ve left University or just after you left school is much easier. It’s not just about that, it’s also about the social pressure of of giving up something that’s so good.
EMMA: Yeah both from work and from your friends and family.
SAM: Yeah but nobody is going to say, yeah well done, quitting your really high-paying job and going to become a violin teacher or whatever it is that you really want to do. It doesn’t happen. I’ve told you this story before and I might have said it on the podcast but my old business partner used to work as a broker in the city and when he first started in the first few months, they were sending around for chain emails and stuff they found funny and you know they were all quite laddie.
EMMA: Sounds horrendous.
SAM: Yeah all the sort of stuff you hate and one of the things that they were sending around to laugh at was this guy who worked ahead of them, he’d sent an email to all the brokers he worked with saying, I’m quitting my job I’m going off to do what I’m really interested in, going off to start a bookshop, yeah an online book shop, and then said haha what an idiot why did you do that. Oh yeah I’m sure you know where this is going, that was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, now the richest person in the world. But at the time when he quit all his kind of friends in his work were taking the piss out of him.
EMMA: Yeah, of course. It sounds silly doesn’t it?
SAM: It sounds silly, maybe you’re not gonna make it but maybe you will. Doing something different, he was doing very well, he was for his age he was very highly achieving in the sort of hedge fund world and giving that up was just nonsense.
EMMA: It just goes back to successes, like that successes episode that we did. And people value money as a success more than most other things whereas when you’re quitting your job to start something you actually want to do, your successes are measured in a completely different way.
SAM: Yeah definitely definitely, because for you, success might be being able to go and do practice yoga all day long, or brazilian jiu-jitsu or whatever interests you and one way to get there is to earn loads of money, save most of it, quit, and then you have this big buffer that you can just do a little something that you define as successful, but where’s society or your peers are probably saying oh you’re giving up such a bright career you’re gonna become a loser and failure, which is quite hard to get over.
EMMA: Yeah which is what a lot of people said to me when I left PwC.
SAM: So this is what you did is you quit your salary and went to start something from scratch something, which you knew would be very difficult to replace that salary.
SAM: You became a freelance marketer.
EMMA: With no clients.
SAM: With no clients and yes you were aiming to replace the salary or most of that salary with what you were doing but what you you weren’t gonna replace was probably in the career progression as a freelance marketer, you probably weren’t ever gonna earn that much more whereas if you stuck around at PwC for another twenty years you probably would have gone a few rungs up.
EMMA: Yes definitely.
SAM: Yeah, which is there’s a hard choice to make but I think it was a right one.
EMMA: Yes, me too.
SAM: I think you’re ok with the social pressure kind of cuz you knew me, we were dating.
EMMA: Yeah and also you were an example of how it could work.
SAM: Yes yes.
EMMA: I think when you’re doing it on your own and you have no one in your life that’s supporting you and encouraging you and someone to talk to and also to go through the detail of it, like how to do a tax return, and how to structure like the pricing of my service. Like all that kind of stuff. I had you to help me, whereas a lot of people don’t have that.
SAM: Yeah if everybody’s telling you it’s a bad idea, it’s hard to go against that, whereas you had me who was popping around all day having fun, you had my friends who were doing the same thing on one side and then at work you had all these people who’ve been in the career for many many years, and who didn’t really want to emulate that lifestyle, you kind of had two choices and you chose the one which you thought you’d prefer. But one thing you found quite difficult was you couldn’t really afford to give up that income.
SAM: Based on where you were living. When you decided to leave, which was about six months before you actually did, you were living out of your overdraft every month.
SAM: When payday came, you’d overspent and so your expenses, even though you’re earning a decent amount of money, were exactly on what you were doing and so the difficulty then is that for you to downgrade your income, you then end up not being able to support the life that you were coming to live in.
EMMA: Yes so therefore we changed lifestyle.
SAM: Well exactly, that is what we did. Well we did a few things but one thing we did is just quit that life altogether and moved to the other side of the world and completely changed life altogether because it’s, if you think the social pressure of taking a lower income is hard.
SAM: The social pressure of downgrading your lifestyle, downgrading your house, downgrading restaurants is pretty much impossible. Like people do it and when you hear about people making drastic lifestyle changes and budgeting, so much respect to them because it is really difficult. You wouldn’t do something like downgrading your car and knowing that the neighbors are watching.
SAM: It’s so difficult and we did try, we tried to do a budget for you to try and save money.
EMMA: And I did and I got out of my overdraft, but.
SAM: Well yeah you didn’t manage to cut your expenses, what you managed to do was get a pay rise at work.
EMMA: Yes. And not spend any more.
SAM: That’s it, which is hard in itself because you managed to not increase your expenditure and so you had I think maybe four or five months at the higher salary where everything extra you were just able to save.
SAM: Whereas up until then, every time you got the pay rise, you’re just spending at an increased.
EMMA: And it was all about being able to save so that I could have some money when we first went travelling and packed up our life, so that I could invest time in the marketing business and get clients and get money so I could kind of live off the savings, so there was like a clear plan but it was also quite short term. It was about six months.
SAM: Yes you had a short goal you’re working towards and then we’re making this huge life change where your expenses would never be the same again.
SAM: Whereas if you had stayed in London and quit your job and start something new from scratch you probably would have had to make some more drastic changes to your lifestyle, which would have been hard, but this is why a lot of people recommend moving house. It’s very hard to stay with the same peer group or neighbor group who have got used to you in a certain life, whereas moving can work out well and that can be moving from a high cost of living area like London to something much cheaper, Cardiff, Manchester or someone completely different. In Bangkok my cost of living here is dirt cheap and the lifestyle is pretty good. Or it could just mean downgrading to a different neighborhood in the same place. That was one of the arguments we heard in the beginning wasn’t it. Is I have a mortgage to pay, but most people with a mortgage could probably downgrade their house, move somewhere a bit smaller, they lose a lot the burden from the mortgage and probably have a decent amount of money left over, and their net worth is going up, their expenses are going down and then you now have a bunch of cash they can use for other things.
EMMA: Yeah but it’s so much easier said than done.
SAM: So much easier said than done. We’ve actually got a couple of friends who are slowly making this transition, they’re a couple. One of them has recently quit his job and start doing something he’s he’s much more interested in.
EMMA: Which he’s so happy about.
SAM: He said he like wakes up excited every day, he’s loving it, he has so much opportunity, he’s saying before he used to lay up at night not wanting to go to sleep because then you have to wake up and go to work in the morning which then made him extra tired and miserable and everything and she is a hugely successful in what she does, a high paying job and she’s kind of like, looking at you know the next potential steps there and something that’s probably not for her yeah and they’re talking about downgrading their house. They’re only 30 but already talking about moving from a three-bedroom house to a one or two-bedroom house because they’ve worked out how many rooms in a house they actually use and how much they can save by going somewhere else and how much extra free time that would free up. And if they ever have kids, how much more time they can spend with their kids if they have that free time. Which honestly brings us on to the next point I was going to talk about, which is responsibility. And it’s funny because all these things that people say use as an excuse that they’ve got to keep in the rat race. There is this absolute flipside so that a lot of people say, we’ve got kids, I can’t quit everything. It wouldn’t be fair on them if I downgrade my income, I want them to live the best life possible. I’m willing to make sacrifices for what I want for them. Whereas they’re thinking the exact same thing but come to the opposite conclusion, which is I want to see my kids. I don’t want to pay a huge cost of childcare.
SAM: I want to actually have time to raise them myself and that’s one of the things we think about isn’t it. I would love to be a stay-at-home dad, and one of the ways I can be a stay-at-home dad is internet business, working for yourself, doing other kinds of stuff.
EMMA: ANd working at strange times of the day and not really being a routine you can work as as and when. It’s very flexible.
SAM: Yeah exactly, it’s the freedom of your time to work when you want. It’s the same that our other responsibilities are is eldercare with ill family or relatives. Again, eldercare is really expensive.
SAM: If you have control of your time, if you have your free time, if you’re doing your thing. You could cut all that expense and you can look after them spend more time with them. So responsibility is this double-edged sword I think and your responsibilities are only gonna get more and more as you get older and that’s not gonna change really. It’s gonna get harder, you’re going to have more responsibilities and yes you probably will need a higher income in order to sustain that. Having a household with kids in it is more expensive than having a household with no kids in it. Which is why I say it’s never gonna be a better time than now, so it’s not now but if you haven’t started and you have kids, look at the other side of the coin. Yeah you’ll be saving on childcare, you’ll have more time to spend with your kids, you have more flexible hours, so none of these things I think you should really put you off starting. If you feel like you can’t give up your income, maybe you ease a social pressure in which case maybe get out that social group. Maybe it is the issue of the expenses, which case maybe downgrade your your lifestyle. If you can’t do that, move to somewhere where you can have the same or better lifestyle but at a much cheaper cost. I mean we didn’t even get into this like hedonistic treadmill that you don’t actually get any happier the more you have.
EMMA: Yeah. That’s what I mean about the mindset you’ve got to spend more to be more happy.
SAM: Yeah. But having a bigger house doesn’t make you happier, it just gives you more responsibilities, so we have kind of done this ourselves just in the last few weeks where we have a four-bedroom house with a nice car or convertable, loads of furniture and we went, got rid of it all and went down to just a carry-on suitcase. And the weight of responsibility lifted from owning all this junk to owning hardly anything.
EMMA: Well also the upkeep of the house. It was just so much.
SAM: How much time we spent cleaning that place, the bills, the worry of the car getting damaged or scratched.
EMMA: So that’s you more than me.
SAM:You don’t worry about scratching it anymore. And as we recorded this, we’re on the 25th floor with an amazing view out over the cityscape, pretty awesome. And if something gets damaged it doesn’t really matter.
SAM: Anyway that’s kind of off the point, what we’re saying is yeah if your expenses are too much, consider cutting them and that could either be done by budgeting better and downgrading your lifestyle or by moving and just changing your lifestyle to something more affordable. And responsibilities, yes responsibilities are going to get worse and worse as time goes on, but there’s always a flipside. There’s always by giving up your income, you’re actually freeing up time and freeing up time and allows you to be better at your responsibilities. Anything else to add?
EMMA: I don’t think so. Sounds good. Take the jump.
SAM: Yeah it is never going to get any easier. It’s just going to get harder but actually the flipside of having a huge income that you can’t give up is that you have a huge income.
SAM: So take that, save a bit of money that will then give you all that freedom of time to do all that stuff which you want to do. All right, adios. Thanks for listening. And if you have any feedback, email us at hello @ sam priestley dot com. We always appreciate a good review so if you have a 5 star review on Apple podcasts or whatever you’re listening at that’d be great. Goodbye.