I think most people would call me crazy. Like many of you, I was taught from a young age to follow the herd.
“Do well in school, get a good job, buy shiny things…”
And at 28, I was on the fast track. I was making ~$150,000 a year in a mid-sized city where the cost of living was low. On top of that, I wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids or financial dependents. All my money was my own. The general consensus is: if you find yourself lucky enough to be in that situation, you hold onto that job for dear life.
You’re supposed to grind that job until your bones are brittle, max out your 401k, take a few vacations here and there, and then one magical day when you’re 65 and eating your dinners at 4 pm – you can retire and finally live the life you’ve always wanted.
That was NOT going to be me.
Call me brash, or call me foolish, but I wanted some of my cake now. Not when I had dentures. I had dreams of driving a convertible while I still had hair. And somewhere along the line, I had an epiphany. An awakening. And six figures wasn’t enough, not by a long shot. I truly believed I still had untapped potential.
My dreams were 10x my current salary. Dreams of me being my own boss, making my own hours, and above all – working on something I was passionate about.
So I did what any “smart” 28-year-old would do in my situation. I quit.
What was I thinking? Here were the 7 reasons why I quit my six-figure job at just 28.
1.) Six Figures Is Not All That
I want to set the record straight – I grew up poor. I remember using food stamps as a kid. So believe me when I say I’m not trying to bash anyone who is currently making or aspiring to make 100k. But what I am saying, is that once you get there – you’ll quickly realize that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Six figures is not FU money. Six figures is Toyota Avalon money – it’s “give me extra guac” at Chipotle money.
It was just enough to make me comfortable. Just enough to make me lazy – but not enough to give me true financial freedom. It’s a dangerous place to be, and I realized I could get stuck there for decades if I wasn’t careful.
We had over 2,000 employees in my company with my job title (Account Executive). When I quit, I was the #2 sales rep in the nation. I saw the glass ceiling of what I could possibly make if I stayed, and I felt like I was worth way more. I don’t like everything that Grant Cardone says, but one concept that I resonate with is his philosophy of 10x. We only have one life to live, why not shoot for 10x? Why stop at six-figures? Why not go for seven-figures if you believe you can get there?
2.) Six Figures Is Not Really Six Figures
Taxes suck. There’s no way around it. But until we find a better form of funding our government, it looks like taxes are here to stay. 🙁
In 2017 the federal tax bracket for single household six-figure earners is at least 28% and can get as high as 39.6%. Add that to the fact that all but 6 states have an additional income tax of their own, and you can quickly see how things get dicey.
For example: Let’s say that you are a single W-2 female making a $100,000 salary in California. Pretty sweet right? Well, your yearly take home numbers could possibly breakdown like this:
This doesn’t take into account things like health insurance, debt obligations, 401k/IRA contributions, etc. Add to that some necessary expenses like a monthly rent/mortgage, transportation costs, food and that comfy six-figure salary suddenly seems like barely scraping by.
While the wealthy own businesses and assets that get taxed at significantly lower rates, it’s the high earning W-2 employees that truly get screwed in America. I realized this after my first 5-figure bonus check. After Uncle Sam and everyone got their piece, I barely had half of it left over to myself.
So when I quit, I knew the ultimate way to take advantage of our tax system was to own a business or assets like the wealthy did.
3.) Nothing is Guaranteed
An asteroid crashes into our planet and sends us into a new ice age? Nuclear war with North Korea? Sentient A.I. robots enslave the human race? Ok, probably not happening.
But getting sick or into a serious car crash – yeah, much higher chance. Life is unpredictable. I’ve seen too many people get de-railed, too many stories cut short. I didn’t want to live as the guy that always had the ideas, only to see someone else live them out.
Maybe it was alarmist, but I decided to live my life with a bit of urgency. I had the mentality that even if I took a shot on my dreams and failed, at least I took a shot.
4.) Pure, HATE.
Believe it or not, some people love going into the office. I have a friend on Facebook who always posts about his 9 to 5 job and how awesome it is… how much he loves it.
Well, guess what guy? I hate it. Not just dislike, but quite literally abhor going into the office.
I hate office culture. I hate office jokes. The politics, the brown nosing, and bad coffee. The useless meetings and the morning and evening commute. It’s just not for me. I put a price on my mental agony and asked myself the question many entrepreneurs ask themselves.
Would I be okay working more hours for less pay, if that meant I got to work on something I wanted? Would I be okay literally doubling my hours and cutting my pay in half – if that meant I could be my own boss? I quickly realized that working for someone else, building their empire and not mine, was not something sustainable for me.
5.) Betting On Myself
How many W-2 millionaires are there?
Unless you’re a pro athlete or the CEO of a Fortune 100… there are very, very few. I knew that if I truly wanted to get to where I wanted to go, I had to start my own business. If I stayed at my six-figure job, I probably would never go broke. But at the same time, I couldn’t see how it would ever get me to a 7 figure salary, let alone a 7 figure net worth in any reasonable amount of time.
Like many of you, I’ve read all the Dave Ramsey-esque blogs and books. Max out your 401k every year, and after 3 or 4 decades you could *possibly* become a millionaire! Oh yeah, that’s assuming that the market will increase on average 8-10% per year, and also assuming there won’t be any major recessions or pullbacks when it comes time to eat your cake!
It didn’t matter how many times I said it to myself. How many times I read or heard it… it still sounded terrible.
Instead of betting on the market, I wanted to bet on myself. I asked myself: Would the entrepreneur version of me outperform the W2 version of me 40 years into the future? My answer was yes. I realized I could always invest in an index fund regardless of either scenario. I truly believed that I could radically increase my earning potential out on my own.
6.) I Don’t Care How I Live
Save for the occasional high-end sushi meal, I don’t really care how I live. I don’t care about nice clothes. I wear the same shoes almost every day. My preference is for cheap, hole-in-the-walls over fine dining, and unlike many people my age, I don’t like the nightlife. Those huge weekend bar tabs, trying to impress people who you might never see again, and all that wasted time. The opportunity costs of it all… I’m not about that.
I knew the cardinal rule of being defensive with my money: I praised frugality.
What this all amounts to is a pretty low-key lifestyle. To be honest, even when I was making all my money, I was still living like a broke college student. I was inspired by the story of Elon Musk living off a dollar a day, sustaining himself on hot dogs and oranges, and I knew if it came down to it – I could do the same.
It helped give me the courage necessary to quit my six-figure job.
7.) Low Risk of Ruin
Probably the biggest reason more people don’t “go out on their own” is because of this one 4-letter word: RISK.
Some people are so risk-averse, they can’t imagine a reality where a bi-weekly check isn’t guaranteed. Even a slight possibility of their quality of life going down frightens them to death. My mom falls into this boat. I don’t blame the risk-averse, it’s a real concern and something every person needs to soberly assess.
In no way am I advocating for everybody reading this post to go out and quit their jobs tomorrow! This is just my own story. When I chose to leave my job, I assessed my own risk of ruin and decided it was okay to go.
Nobody would go hungry if my monthly income dropped to zero. And if I completely failed at this thing, I was confident I could find another comparable job. It couldn’t hurt anyone but me. I had enough money to pay for over 1 year’s worth of expenses, so the cushion was just big enough to give my dreams a shot at becoming reality.
This blog is part of that entrepreneurial dream. It will chronicle all my thoughts and my doubts. Both my wins and my failures. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle I am trying to solve… and I’m inviting you to join with me!
Here’s to the crazy ones. 🙂
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