Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to co-host and speak at The Road To Financial Wellness‘ Pit Stop #18 in Nashville. It felt amazing to share my story with a packed room of young professionals and creative entrepreneurs. You can watch the entire program here. I’ve adapted my talk to share with the Cashville Skyline community.
Have you ever felt stuck in a job? Or even worse, trapped in a career?
You’re not alone. A lot of Millennials are in the exact same spot. And four years ago, that’s exactly how I felt, too.
Like many young entertainment industry professionals, I hustled non-stop just to get my foot in the door of an independent concert promoter.
I worked as a temporary receptionist (making $10 an hour) for four months before eventually being hired full-time as an assistant.
Like many of my peers, I was willing to do almost anything to be successful. Even if that meant working excessively long hours for unbelievably low pay.
Traveling all over the United States and Canada to produce concerts was a dream job in my early 20s. I barely minded working 7 days a week, driving overnight in between cities, or being yelled at by agents.
It was part of the gig, and I was really proud to call myself a concert promoter for a long time. It was the coolest job ever … until it wasn’t.
When you finally land a decent job in the music business, you’re expected to be grateful for the opportunity. After all, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of other ambitious young professionals would kill to have your job.
It makes a lot of young professionals feel like they can’t leave.
It’s scary to abandon something that you believe is so closely aligned with your identity. For me, that’s always been music.
I left everyone in my life to move to Nashville to work in the music business.
But the truth is, music is only a small piece of who I am.
Ever notice how your body doesn’t bounce back quite the same way it did when you were younger?
The relentless stress and lack of sleep finally started catching up with me in my late 20s. I constantly battled with anxiety, my weight, and binge drinking.
I knew I needed to change careers, but I had no idea what else I was qualified to do. When you’re stuck in that kind of a toxic mindset, it’s difficult to think rationally or to see the big picture.
To make matters worse, I was spending almost everything I was earning.
Fancy cocktails, dinners out, designer clothing, expensive hotel rooms—that stuff adds up really quickly.
My lack of savings made me feel especially powerless.
I felt like a failure for having so little to show for my years of hard work. I couldn’t afford to take a risk on a lower paying job.
So I made I vow to take back control—slash my expenses as much as possible and start building my emergency fund.
That’s how Cashville Skyline was born.
It was a way to publicly hold myself accountable for my spending decisions. I tracked every dollar I earned and spent for over a year. And it’s amazing how small changes can quickly turn into significant savings.
I increased the deductibles on health, car, and homeowner’s insurance.
I dropped to a cheaper cell phone plan.
I ditched my home warranty.
I stopped buying new clothes.
I cooked all my meals at home.
And it allowed me to save 40-50% of my income.
By the summer of 2014, I had finally saved six months of living expenses.
It was just enough to quit my job without another one lined up.
As a homeowner, the decision made me nervous, but my new leaner budget gave me the confidence I could stretch my savings.
A lot of people thought I was crazy to make such a risky move. After all, six months of expenses isn’t really that much. And finding a new job isn’t always easy.
But I knew there was no way I could change careers and perform at my best.
So I spent a few months recharging, working a part-time job to make a little extra money, and landed my current job within a few months.
Taking a few months to recharge and clear my head was critical.
I embraced the abundance mindset and didn’t accept the first gig I was offered. Now, I’m happily employed as a social media marketer for a tech company.
Cashville Skyline has grown into a side business that includes freelance writing and social media consulting. There’s no way I could have done it on the side of my old job, but it pairs nicely with my new 9-5 career.
Now, I’m constantly looking for ways to further diversify my streams of income, so I never feel trapped in a job again.
Taking control of my money totally changed my life. And it can for you, too.
Readers: How has your emergency fund impacted your career choices?