The title of this post was the basis for an MBA application question I recently answered. It really got my thinking about my career goals and aspirations. Here’s my response to the question, followed by some thoughts. What do you think and how would you spend your life if money was not a factor?
If salary was not a factor and my living expenses were covered I would focus on building and expanding my personal finance and investing blog (this website) – savingtoinvest.com – so that I could take it to a much larger scale with a broader goal to help more people better understand and improve their personal finances.
I started this website/blog shortly after moving to America in early 2006 as a way synthesize my thoughts on the world of personal finance and investing in a new country with different financial systems and tax laws.
Through this online channel/platform I was able to pursue my interests in personal finance and share how everyday people like me could effectively save and invest money effectively.
As my blog grew, I started building a regular following and within a few years had over 250,000 visitors on average to my site every month. Through comments and emails a number of readers have thanked me for the help and information I have provide, which to me is the best endorsement of the blog.
As I got deeper into blogging I also realized that I could make sizable amounts money from the website through display advertising and partner (affiliate) programs. It took me about 3 months to get my first payout of $50, but over the last 8 months, the substantial growth in readership has allowed me to make on average $3,000 a month.
However with a demanding full time job, it is getting harder for me to consistently spend more time on the blog and take it to the next level. So it continues to be a side hustle.
To take the blog to the next level would require a full time focus, which financially is not feasible since my “day” job is more rewarding – especially as I climb the corporate ladder after my MBA.
However, one big positive of managing a full time job, part time side business and family commitments is that my time management skills have become excellent and I know that I will be more than capable of managing the demands of a part time MBA in my schedule.
I really believe that millions of people could benefit from straight forward financial information and advice from some one more like them – as opposed to a Wall Street salesman. To me it’s sad that folks can grow up with all the intelligence and book smarts possible, but still fail so miserably when it comes to managing their money.
Case in point: In America the average credit card debt is $12,000 per person, 15% of households are behind in mortgage payments or in foreclosure and the savings rate in America has been negative for so long.
Further, if all my living expenses were covered, I would be able to use the proceeds from advertising on the blog to create more resources that focus on providing real life personal finance education to school level children from working class families.
I know that my own young son and other children could really benefit from learning good personal finance habits early in life.
Finally, I would also like to travel overseas regularly to get more perspective on how people around the world manage their money. For example how does a family of ten in rural India can live in relative comfort/happiness on a fraction of an average US family salary; yet that same US family cannot escape living paycheck to paycheck.
Eventually I would like to write a book titled something like “The 100 self evident truths of personal finance success”
Reality or Risk Aversion
Unfortunately, this blog – which I would love to do full time, will not cover my living expenses and salary on a regular basis. However it got me to thinking – is this an excuse (I am risk averse by nature) or should I just take the risk and follow my “passion”.
When work is frustrating, the desire to take the risk becomes stronger. But then the variability of blogging coupled with the needs of maintaining a financially secure life make full time blogging a scary thought.
However, with an MBA to pay for, I think a job right now is a necessity – and hopefully in the not too distant future I will be able to follow my true career track?
Postscript – 10 years later
I originally wrote this article around 10 years ago and came across it again recently when doing some blog maintenance and answering reader comments. Here is how things turned out.
I ended up taking the corporate career route, while keep this blog as an ongoing side hustle. While my corporate career has gone well, this blog is something I am still more passionate about after all these years.
But as I predicted, my corporate golden handcuffs have gotten larger/tighter as my compensation package increased along with lifestyle inflation as my family and expenses grew. So ditching that for a full time career as a “blog entrepreneur” is not a choice I made.
While I have become much more proficient with my online endeavors (I even have my own nascent Youtube channel now) and had several months where I have made more than my monthly paycheck from this site, on average I still make much more from my job in the corporate
rat race world.
Plus it’s a steady amount I get every 2 weeks, versus the variability of income from an online business that is subject to the Google search algorithm.
When you factor in health insurance, equity/bonuses and stability, it seems I made the right “financial” choice.
However, I happened to see a couple of videos and an article from another blogger – Jeff Rose – who started around the same time as me. Obviously different backgrounds and journeys, but we both started in the personal finance space back around 2008.
He makes over a million dollars a year now, as a full time blogger and vlogger! Much more than I do as a W2 employee.
Sliding doors? While Jeff has skills and a story I don’t have, his journey has always made me think that if I took the full time blogger plunge back in 2010, could I have gotten near his lofty perch, while doing something I am passionate about?
At this stage in my life, mid-40’s, that ship has likely sailed as my corporate job is the “easier” and “safer” route. With mortgages and kids college to pay for, taking the plunge as a full time online entrepreneur seems even more daunting in many aspects. Or maybe I have just convinced my self that is that case?
I still keep working this blog as a side hustle because I enjoy it for the most part and like helping a few people along the way. The flexibility and extra money is also something I am grateful for.
But in the back of mind, I will always wonder…what if?
8 thoughts on “If Salary and Living Expenses Were Covered, What Would You Do For a Living?”
Wow, you’ve really come on with your stats — both income and visitor wise. Been a while since you candidly revealed the first! :)
Congratulations, and good luck on continuing to make both your career and your blog work in tandem.
Thanks. First four months of 2010 were quite good, but things have slowed down a bit now. As much as I enjoy blogging, I feel investing in my career is still a better longer term investment at this stage. I will do both for as long as possible, but is definitely getting harder to manage both with 100% commitment!
I’m with you on this one, I would love to stop working at a full time 9-5 job, and start working full time on my blogging and other online revenue opportunities. I’m making about the same as you mention, but I know it could be so much more if I only had the time. The things keeping me from doing it? The money of day job + side income is pretty nice. That and my health insurance rates would skyrocket if I had to find coverage on my own – my wife has some serious health issues, and only having group coverage saves our bacon. :)
One day – when I’m making closer to 7-8 grand a month! :)
I think you and I are in the same boat. Health insurance is definetly a factor – more so in your situation. While my wife has insurance through her company her job is not stable so in this economy I am playing safe. The concern is that the older I get the harder it is to take “risk” and go for full time blogging. For example Jan – April (around tax season) are great revenue months and during those months I make more than enough to cover my day job. The summer months are when reality hits and I am thankful for a regular paycheck. Need to figure out a way for more consistent revenue. Ah well, like you said having the day job and side income is nice though.
PS: Checked your site out – looks good and added to my reader.
If money wasn’t such a huge issue to me and I had no concern of it, chances are I’d pursue writing more than anything else.
Once I accomplish something there, chances are I’d pick up education in studying chemistry or electricity.
I would be a concert photographer. Two of my favorite activities rolled in to one.
i would be on a beach somewhere. at home with my daughter, vacation to beautiful destinations, landscaping my yard that needs to be done so badly.
The importance of money in people’s lives often restricts their decisions in pursuing a career of their choice. Fortunate are those who get paid for doing what they love. I am certain that I wish to have a career in finance. If I did not have to worry about expenses I would join a small financial consultancy as I feel the opportunity to learn would be tremendous. I would fortunately not have to concern myself with the small paycheck and thus be open to a career at a small firm. I feel that I could thus have greater exposure to larger responsibilities. The result would be a far more enriched work experience and higher professional satisfaction for me. I would also spend a lot more time in research and reading. I would be free to pursue my interest in studying in more detail various topics of my interest.
An ideal day for me would be filled with several self-development activities. Active workouts for the body, stress and relaxation of the mind, spiritual