Leaving Work Behind

Exploring the Less Glamorous Side of Leaving Work Behind

Written by Tom Ewer on August 20, 2013. 70 Comments

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013

When it comes to leaving work behind, most people have an overriding focus on making more money.

However, there’s so much more to the concept of leaving work behind than that. While it is about creating the financial freedom that enables you to do what you want, making more money doesn’t have to be the key factor in that equation.

In this post I want to cover a topic that is far less glamorous than making money, but can get you  closer to leaving work behind far more quickly than you might have previously imagined.

What Does “Leaving Work Behind” Mean?

In my experience, most people liken the concept of leaving work behind to making loads of money without spending a great deal of time working. Another definition is to make as much money as you earned in your job while having the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself.

While they are both valid descriptions of leaving work behind, they’re certainly not the only valid descriptions.

Consider this one for example: leaving work behind is earning far less than you do now, reducing your material expenditure dramatically, but being free of your job.

While it may instinctively feel “wrong” to earn less, often it can be totally worth it for the freedom that it affords you. Furthermore, you may find that once you have the extra freedom afforded by quitting your job, you can work on increasing your income over time.

My point is this: if you want to quit your job and build a better life for yourself, don’t limit yourself to one-dimensional thinking. Don’t focus on making more money alone. Broaden your horizons and consider all of the potential things you can do in the context of reaching your goal of leaving work behind.

A Penny Saved…

Making money can be really difficult — especially when you’re just getting started. But saving money is easy by comparison and can be done at any time. Most people are so focused on making money when saving money, in the short term, can have just as great an impact (often greater).

Let’s face it: the overwhelming majority of us spend inordinate amounts of money on unnecessary material goods (I know I do). Even the most frugal of us can still make big savings in their expenditure, regardless of how tight they think they have trimmed their budget.

The curious phenomenon is that despite the above, most people will tell you that there’s not much room for manoeuvre in their budgets. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are some of my favorite examples of how “essential” expenditure can be cut down to size:

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either. For example, if you didn’t have a job would you still need a car?

If you feel like you simply cannot live without your creature comforts then perhaps a little perspective would help adjust your outlook. What would you rather do: work 9-to-5 then go home to watch TV, or work just two or three hours per day, as you please, then read a book in your spare time?

In reality, if you are prepared to downsize your life, you’ll find that you can live off dramatically less. If you can do so, you may be able to afford to quit your job right now.

Add Muscle and Lose Fat

To use a diet and exercise analogy (something I’m very much focused on at the moment), putting on muscle is making money and losing fat is saving money.

If you just put on muscle the end result might be quite impressive (and you’ll certainly be stronger), but you will look bulky and bloated because you’ve still got a layer of fat over that muscle. Alternatively, if you just lose fat and you already have some muscle tone, you’ll look a whole lot better without putting any muscle on.

But ideally, you should go for the best of both worlds: lose fat and gain muscle. That’ll afford you the most impressive results.

Although losing fat is by far the less glamorous side of the equation, it can often have the greatest effect and is the easiest part of the puzzle to complete.

Is It Worth It?

A lot of people simply aren’t prepared to give up their creature comforts to leave work behind. And that’s fine, as long as they are willing to admit to themselves that they don’t want to leave work behind badly enough to make the necessary sacrifices. Denial doesn’t help anyone.

However, a whole other bunch of people simply haven’t thought about the equation hard enough. While instinctively you can feel like you’re going backwards if you cut down on your outgoings to quit your job, in reality the opposite is occurring. Once you stop looking at money as the be all and end all of your life, your whole perspective can shift dramatically.

Consider this: if I had the opportunity to earn less money but be even happier, I’d take the opportunity without a second’s thought. Wouldn’t you? That’s the equation you can be dealing with here: spend less, quit your job, be happier.

And of course, once you have the level of freedom that is afforded by quitting your job, there is no reason why you can’t work towards earning more money anyway.

That is exactly what I did: the first month after I quit my job I earned a grand total of $937 when my typical outgoings were more like $3,000. However, I cut down my expenditure and worked on earning more, with the backing of a financial safety net to keep me from financial harm’s way. It all came good for me, but even if I hadn’t been able to earn as much as I did, there was still scope for me reducing my outgoings massively.

Take the Challenge

In some ways, going hardcore frugal is a fun concept to me. It’s something I did at college (like most people) and to a lesser extent afterwards; it was fun in a way to see how little I could spend and still survive.

But there’s a far more compelling reason to cut your expenditure than the simple challenge of it. Think of it this way: if you can trim enough off your outgoings today, you might able to quit your job tomorrow.

How exciting is that as a prospect? While you may feel that there are 101 things holding you back from taking the leap, you can make the decision a whole lot easier just by spending less.

Remember: leaving work behind isn’t about earning piles of cash, it’s about being happy and in control of your life. And you don’t need cash to be happy.

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70 Responses to “Exploring the Less Glamorous Side of Leaving Work Behind”

  1. Deevra Norling
    August 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Ah… this is such a great post. I am currently in that situation. I’ve downsized considerably and at the moment I’m earning peanuts as I’m still just starting out. I must admit, it does cause me a certain amount of worry and stress when expenses outweigh income.

    But people will be surprised at how much less they can live on if they only trimmed the fat, i.e. got rid of the luxuries and focused primarily on the basics and necessities.

    Being in a job with a guaranteed salary every month also means people tend to automatically up their lifestyle and sometimes live above their means, and why – simply because they can. They know next month the next salary hits the bank account and so they feel somewhat safe.

    But in reality most people in 9 to 5 jobs complain that the minute their salary lands in their bank account it disappears almost as quickly – to pay all the bills and expenses, etc. They end up living paycheck to paycheck. And is that really the better way to live?

    Living simpler, cutting the debt, etc. leads to feeling more free and that’s a feeling that’s priceless!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      It certainly is Deevra! Freedom from financial stress is one huge part of the concept of leaving work behind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  2. Jawad Khan | WritingMyDestiny
    August 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Tom,

    A very different, and practical, post from the usual “make more money” posts we see on the internet these days.

    “Creating more income is not entirely in your hands, but cutting your expenditures is” my uncle used to repeat this a lot of times whenever we discussed financial growth with him.

    And as you said at the end, Leaving Work Behind is about being happy and enjoying freedom, and excess money is no guarantee you’ll get either of these.

    Keep writing from your heart, it sounds great 🙂

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      Hey Jawad,

      Wise words from your uncle — couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂

      Thanks for your support!



  3. Diana Markuckyte
    August 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Tom,

    It is true that money don’t make you happy but you have to admit that it is more comfortable to cry in a limousine that on a bicycle 😀

    Apart from that it doesn’t matter how many tools you or other blogs would suggest that should help quitting your job, I think you have to wish it yourself! be really desperate and see as the only possible way out.

    It is my case as well, my working environment is getting worse and worse and even if I was thinking about quitting my job 2 years ago, only now I took actions to make it possible soon. I settled down the deadline.

    I started to safe and use only cash and pay my debts… no more expensive clothes, cooking at home (it is more tasty and healthy 😉 and use my time wisely and effectevely (it is enough to watch less TV or the time when you are standing in a queue or in a traffic jam). Tom, I took your valuable advice 20% of your time to use doing sth else or learning a new skill.

    I have two small kids, 1 and 3 years, very full time job, family to take care of, and no grandparents, ants or uncles to help me. But I strongly believe to leave job behind is really possible and do it soon. I gave me the deadline and everything became more realistic and not only a dream.

    I cann’t wait this moment to come, the moment of freedom. And when I lose my motivation I tell to me that doesn’t matter how much I would earn, the one I work for is always making more. Why not to be in his/her place?

    All the best with new projects!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Hey Diana,

      You’ve nailed the value of money in just one oddball analogy — perfect! 😉

      I’m certainly not trying to convince anyone to quit their jobs — this blog is definitely for people who have already made that decision. Why? Because as you say, you can’t force someone to want to quit their job (although you can enlighten them sometimes…).

      I love your attitude. Just drop me a line if you think there’s anything I can do to help.



  4. gil
    August 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Hey Tom,

    I would be a liar if I said that the idea of making was not a key motivating factor for me. I still work full-time but I have started to lay the foundation for leaving work in the next months: yes, there IS an action plan not just talk at this point 😉 I began the pursuit of job-independence in June and things are slowly taking shape.

    However, I must admit that as time progresses, I realize this is about more than just money. I never imagine myself as the type to live lavishly even if I had the means. To me, it is about focusing on happiness. I am grateful to have a source of income during these times yet incredibly unhappy and unfulfilled in my current role. Sundays have become a day of lament for me…and that is just wrong on so many levels, LOL.

    I never seriously thought about being happy with less and more effective with what I have as a part of my leaving work behind strategy. It is absolutely true. I will begin to incorporate this right away. Thanks, Tom.


    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      My pleasure Gil. Making money is great, I’m not going to argue against that. But in my experience, the more money you make, the more the value of the free things in life (like being free itself) become apparent.

  5. gil
    August 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Sorry, first sentence should read “making money” but I am sure you pieced that one together, LOL.

  6. Laura
    August 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve been following you for only a short time and reading your work is like reading my own. I write, but until recently (after reading your work) hadn’t sent my work anywhere to be read. One of my articles is being used on FreedomFastLane.com this coming weekend after reading one of your articles, following the link and sending them my work; so thank you.

    Regarding this particular article you absolutely hit the nail on the head; it is all about admitting things to yourself. People might say they want a more simple life, more money or even to be slimmer but in reality if you aren’t prepared to put in the work required to get it….you don’t REALLY want it. My Fiancé and I went on a career break and travelled Europe for a year in a camper van, right in the middle of our careers because we wanted to do it. We saved like crazy and still had the odd night out or whatever during the year we were saving. If we had £1 for each person we knew who said ‘I wish I could do that’ we’d have funded another year away! They each had excuses why they couldn’t do it themselves but only one couple admitted ‘We’re too lazy to actually put the work in to be able to go away’ and it is just that really, you have to work to get something you want.

    Whilst away we consciously outlined what we liked/missed about our lifestyle back home. The dream of living in Europe was replaced by the reality that although there is more sunshine, the people and problems are just the same in all countries. What we ultimately want can only be found when we are honest with ourselves.

    I am on the ‘leaving work behind’ trail through various routes right now and it is because I was honest with myself that the career I’d dreamt of and fought so hard to get really isn’t for me anymore. Once I was honest, I felt positive and started putting things into motion to ‘leave work behind’. It isn’t about the money I get at the end of the month, it is about the month I have for the money at the end!

    Oh and I just signed up to healthyenough.net – although I am a woman it is the philosophy behind it that I’m completely in agreement with. My piece for freedomfastlane is about health and fitness coming down to how much you are prepared to put in/change and figuring out what works for you. You have to be honest with yourself! Nobody does anything they don’t enjoy out of choice, so given the choice, do something you enjoy- you will want to do it!

    Anyway….big fan and hopefully I’ll have left work behind fairly soon. In the meantime if you want a woman’s perspective on your healthyenough blog give me a shout! ;0)

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Hey Laura,

      Thanks for becoming one of the first Healthy Enough subscribers! I’m really excited about the blog. While it’s aimed at guys, I’m glad you’ve picked up on the philosophy and recognise that there will be a lot of value in it for women too. I just don’t want to hide the fact that I’m a guy, writing from a guy’s perspective 🙂

      As for leaving work behind, it sounds like you’ve got a great attitude. Please do get in touch if you think there’s anything I can do to help you.



  7. Kirsty Stuart
    August 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I would opt for freedom and enjoying my life over more money any day. In fact, I have!

    I found that when I left work behind, I stopped buying all the things I thought I needed and saved money anyway. For instance, since I quit my job I:

    – Ride a bike everywhere. I love it. It makes me feel like a teenager again 🙂

    – Watch less TV and have forgotten that I really wanted to buy a much larger one this time last year.

    – Save on rent when I travel to all the places I want to go to in the world (while still earning a Western wage).

    – Am more creative about business and making money.

    Turns out being tied to a full-time day job was costing me way too much money!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Damn right. I love your last point too: being more creative. I found that once I quit my job, it seemed to open the flood gates in terms of my creative capacity. No more restraints — the world truly is your oyster!

      Thanks Kirsty 🙂

  8. Kelly
    August 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Right on, Tom! There is wisdom in that old cliche ‘less is more’. As far as cutting down on expenditure goes, my wardrobe is stocked almost entirely of clothing from charity shops. I find plenty of brand new clothing there with the tags still attached.. so much so that I now resell clothing I buy from charity shops for profit. An exercise in saving has turned into a venture that supplements my income!

    Another benefit of living more frugally is that it is more sustainable and better for our environment. Reduce, reuse and recycle 🙂

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Hey Kelly,

      I must say, I’m pretty terrible at recycling, but kudos to you for being more conscientious than me!



  9. Daryl
    August 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    You’re right Tom: reaching the goal of leaving work behind is HARD WORK. The idea that you will quickly be sipping cocktails on a sandy beach isn’t true – as most of those who work at home often put in even longer hours for less money than if they were working a 9-5 “job”.

    Unless you’re willing to put in the work, then you won’t reach very far.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Hey Daryl,

      You’re right for the most part, although if you play your cards right you can quickly scale a business so that it doesn’t have to be hard work. That’s where I am right now and it rocks 🙂



  10. Kerry Taylor
    August 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I’m in the same boat, funny I’ve been doing these calculations for ever now. i just know working full-time is not working for me. I struggle financially as a result. I need to work in a different country, have expenses such as hotel bills, flights etc.it leaves nothing then I struggle to write. My writing has taken a turn for the worse. I have three children and I need to make that break. Late nights, I can handle, just so things can get better for us.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Hey Kerry,

      You commute to a different country to work and your employer doesn’t cover the cost? Am I understanding you correctly?



      • Kerry Taylor
        August 21, 2013 at 9:20 am

        That is correct. Employer does not cover the cost.

        • Tom Ewer
          August 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

          Hey Kerry,

          I’ve got to say, I’ve never heard of an employee who has to regularly commute abroad at their own cost in order to work. Do you mind telling me what you do?



          • Kerry Taylor
            August 21, 2013 at 11:47 pm

            I work in IT, as a Test Manager. The problem is when I moved to Spain 4 years ago, I had no problems gettting work.Within the last 13 years in my field a lot of organisations, have moved my department out to India etc. to cut costs. It is not the best post to have in IT. I used to have properties which I rented out and when the property market was good, I used to make a good return from this, so you could say I was laughing. I had money from my properties and could work in ITif I wanted to. Unfortunately, with the properties going into negative equity and the decline in my rate and an increase in the number of children, I hit a turmoil. I have been struggling financially for the last 3 years until last year I told the bank that I voluntary surrounder my houses and I struggle for work. In hindsight I could say I should leave Madrid, but with three children it is difficult. At the beginning of the year, I started self publishing – loaded my first book in March and I have been writing ever since. The problem is although I have sold nearly 2k books in 4 months, it is not enough for us to live off and I need to still work to survive. My childrens grades are suffering and I thought that the best route would be to do some freelance writing to enhance the income. So, that there may be a chance for me to work from home. The problem is I pay so much for my flights, someone to look after my children, that it is not worth the travel, but I really need money to come in. Just can’t see a way round it. Apart from lack of sleep and an increasing blood pressure…

  11. Jackson Davies
    August 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve always been super frugal myself so chewing the fat off is harder but having said that there are a number of comforts I could do without. My biggest saving this year was my cinema pass, although initially expensive it has paid for itself at least twice already.

    Next year will be an easy year to save money because I will be neck deep in heavy studies (but that might also be bad for my blogging too).

    Its all swings and roundabouts really but the ultimate answer is that we can all live with less and most of us will be happier for it.

    I agree in part with your car argument. If you can cycle to work, why own a car? Then again someone invented bad weather.

    I’m not entirely convinced that a suggestion to buy a cheaper car is a sound one. Cheaper older cars have a higher likelihood of breaking down and costing a fortune. My uncle (who is a tightwad) has had umpteen very cheap cars (this same man owns three properties and a successful decorating company in York). He never pays more than £1000 for a car (apprx $1500 US) and has had to pay a fortune to the AA because he’s exceeded the quota of call outs. Some of the problems he’s had have not been cheap to fix either; head gaskets, alternator, full engine blowout and more. Many times he has opted to scrap his cars rather than fix them at an overall loss. If he’d been a bit less frugal and bought a 3 year old car, it would have last him a lot longer and overall saved him more money. I fully expect my Uncle to be driving crummy vehicles for years to come because he doesn’t place a high value in his autos and expects to hammer them.

    I fully agree with you on eating out. It is far much more fun to cook a nice meal at home. I find nothing more satisfying than baking a cake and enjoying the fruit of my labor. That said, I’ve been on a diet for 16 weeks so not so much cake for me.

    Another good article Tom!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      Hey Jackson,

      On a diet eh? Sounds like you should subscribe to Healthy Enough 😉

      I’m not saying you should buy a car that will cost you more to maintain — that wouldn’t be very wise! But a lot of people can probably buy a less expensive car that is equally or more reliable.



  12. Bob B.
    August 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Loved this post – I’d just like to reiterate the importance of thinking outside the box.

    For instance – Most people pay over $100/month for cable TV because they want to watch 2-3 shows each week! They don’t even think twice, because in their mind cable is a ‘necessary expense’ that they ‘can’t get rid of’. Once they get over that initial reaction they start to realize how much they’ll save and change their habits.


  13. Francesca Nicasio
    August 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    “A lot of people simply aren’t prepared to give up their creature comforts to leave work behind. And that’s fine, as long as they are willing to admit to themselves that they don’t want to leave work behind badly enough to make the necessary sacrifices. Denial doesn’t help anyone.” –Damn right.

    Love the solid and down-to-earth advice, Tom. This is such a great reality check for people dreaming about quitting their job to go freelance.

  14. Jackson Anderson
    August 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Great post and something myself took underway this year as soon as I got back from the US late last year.

    After being self employed, running out of money, having to go back to part time work and being 15k in debt it was time to make changes!!

    In the end I managed spending 80% of my income on removing debt, the rest on living expenses and servicing a mortgage for a house and land package with my girlfriend.

    I must admit by January I needed to go to full time so I’ll need to “leave work behind” again in the future but the lessons over the last 12 months have been invaluable and as of last month I no longer owe the bank the 15k debt so next time I’ll have SO MUCH stress removed from me.

    To paint a picuture for anyone I’m only 22, and live with my girlfriend at her parents house so it’s obviously a bit easier for me given no rent/power bills and most of our food bought for us but it’s all quite relevant as I definitely don’t have a massive wage either.

    My advice to anyone is just find what you love and make time for that instead of blowing it all on alcohol, food during the day, and material items, YOU DON’T NEED THEM, honestly invest in a side hustle if you truly need to spend money, make it worth it!

    As long as my bmx bike work is functional, and I have petrol in my car I can have a perfect week/weekend, and best of all remember it all cause I didn’t blow $200 on a night out!

    Everyone will be different but try it, and if your motivation is high enough (No more 9-5? Need I say more) you’ll be able to make it work for your situation!

    Thanks again Tom,

    You’ve been a big inspiration to myself, I finally bought the $40 freelance guide of yours and read it on the weekend and definitely will be reading it again!

    When I get my first client expect a thank you email !

    Best of luck with HealthyEnough and CBS!



  15. Annie
    August 21, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Love the fa/muscle analogy. What a great perspective – thanks!

  16. Riza
    August 21, 2013 at 6:39 am

    It can feel like less glamorous if you believe that money equates happiness.

    The truth is, and statistics can back it up, that the more you have financially, the less secure you get. As our number of possessions increase, our quality of life can actually decrease.

    Why? You tend to worry more over losing money and maintaining the kind of lifestyle you have. Additional time and money are needed to care for more material things. Stress levels rise because of pressure from debt, and there’s less time for the more important aspects of your life, like family and friends.

    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments expressed in this article. Very well-put! This has been shared on the IM social networking site, Kingged.com because of its helpful content. 🙂


    • Tom Ewer
      August 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Riza,

      The key is to increase your income while not making increasing your income the point of everything that you do. As always, balance is key!



  17. Sheila
    August 21, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Another great post, Tom! Another realistic perspective on what it means to leave work behind. It’s refreshing!

    I started working part time behind this year and have been loving it. I have plenty to work on when it comes to frugality – I love eating out, the food and social aspect of it. I’ve cut it down a lot, but could still cut it down more.

    Couldn’t agree more on TV – don’t need it! (Need internet though! Lol)
    Don’t need a car! Though it’s very challenging in a city like Sydney, but it’s still worth it.

    Oh and I love the op shops (that’s what we call charity shops here). You find the most interesting clothes in op shops! Maybe it’s more of a girl thing to go op shopping, cause my friends and I got no problem with it. It’s as great as regular retail therapy (also had to be heavily cut down. Very hard when it comes to shoes, though).

    I find that leaving full time work has opened up other opportunities for me (my artwork) and even though I’m not making a ton of money from it right now, my work is getting a bit of attention and validation. This is due to the extra time I have to focus on it, as a result of working part time.

    For mem the trade off of LWB is totally worth it. The joy I’ve gained far surpasses the ‘benefits’ of a full time income.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      “The joy I’ve gained far surpasses the ‘benefits’ of a full time income.” — bingo. That’s what you’re looking for. Congrats 🙂

  18. Nick
    August 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I have just been made redundant after only eight months in the job! Fortunately for me, I have learned to live humbly over the last ten years and therefore don’t have any pressing money issues.

    I completely put into practice and experience the benefits of the advice in this post.

    “Friends, the things you desire give no more satisfaction than drinking sea water, therefore practice contentment.” (Atisha)

    The task for me now is to collate my talents and experience and manifest an enlightened business idea.

    I have a small blog (http://stick2thefacts.blogspot.co.uk/) as I really enjoy writing, however, it receives next to zero visits. I will certainly take on board the advice in this blog.

    Thanks, Tom!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Interesting quote…a quick suggestion regarding your blog — writing on such a broad range of topics makes it very difficult to build an audience. But if you like writing about all those things, then you should of course do so 🙂

  19. Chris Hufnagel
    August 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Great post! Just recently (about 6 months ago) my wife and I both left our jobs. We started building websites for people and it just really took off. Two years before this we bought a house and thought that was what we wanted. We quickly realized that it was not at all what we wanted and we would be much happier having no house, working for ourselves, and traveling.

    We lived in Florida before we sold our house, now we are hanging out in Bangor Maine for a few months, and then traveling to Vermont for a few months.

    Yes we do make less than when we had full time jobs, however we don’t have a mortgage, only one car payment, and we have cut a lot of other things out. It was a huge change, but we are loving it! Sometimes you just have to make that leap!


    • Tom Ewer
      August 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Hey Chris,

      That’s an awesome story. That you’ve managed to find a partner who you can share an independent location lifestyle with is awesome too!



      • Chris Hufnagel
        August 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        It truly has been amazing! The first step was scary, but boy was it worth it! I think I told you this before, but it was actually your guide that got me started I could really do this myself full time. I am not a writer like you, but was able to put a lot of the practices in place for what I do!

        Thanks again,


        • Tom Ewer
          August 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

          I do remember that Chris — really glad I could help. There’s plenty more coming for LWB readers that’s not just about freelance writing, so stay tuned!

  20. Sunday
    August 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Leaving work behind is much more about making sacrifices. A person who is not greatly MOTIVATED will not realize the need to make these sacrifices. Going away from comfort zone is never easy for most people but never really get to find the right rhythm.

    Having said that, making money is a motivator for leaving work behind, but those who are successful in this are those who see more reason than reality.

    The above comment was left in the IM social site – kingged.com where this post shared and ‘kingged’.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor


    • Tom Ewer
      August 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      Sacrifice is usually key, although the point of Leaving Work Behind should be to get into a position where you don’t have to sacrifice what you love doing as soon as possible.

  21. Jon Patrick
    August 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    A timely and spot-on post.
    When I began making moves to leave my work behind, the original focus was on the income side of the equation – how could I maximize the inflows. While I lead a pretty modest lifestyle, investments for the future and travel are tops of the list, and more income means… more!
    But as your frustration with your job increases, I encourage people to change the question. Review outflows from your life, and determine what you have to earn to just not have to GO TO A JOB!
    It’s an empowering and liberating question, and often far less than people think. My focus in the near-term isn’t becoming a multi-millionaire – but having the time freedom to explore interests and be with family.
    Change your question, change your life.

  22. Liz McGee
    August 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Hey Tom,

    Great post and it’s so true. Leaving a job behind takes more than simply quitting and jumping into your own business. Unfortunately I’ve seen so many folks do that and they were hugely disappointed,

    You have to be realistic and understand that it’s not going to be easy. I actually went through big cutbacks on TV, phone, clothes, even food. There was also a huge learning curve that went with that. But I’ve gotta say, in the end it was worth it.

    But you also make a great point about money. Don’t make it all about the money. Sure money is important but in the end that’s not what makes you happy. Doing what you love, time with family and just stopping to smell the roses is what will make you happy.

    Thanks Tom.

    Liz 🙂

    • Tom Ewer
      August 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      You’re absolutely right Liz — I value the choice to work as I please far more than the extra money I’ve earned. That is in fact why I am now subcontracting a lot of my writing work. I’m making less money but I have far more time to spend as I see fit!

  23. Jear
    August 22, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Hi There Tom,

    I have to admit, this encouraged me! I’ve never been more poor in my life than now. However, I’m completely compelled to making an online writing career possible! It’s tough as heck though, but I will continue down the path of pursuing my first high-paying gigs. currently i’m only been doing small ones, the most paid me around 4 cents a word, but for the most part i’m working for 1 penny or more per word.

    However, I am building my ammunition! I’m prepared to go arms length to finding my career are a freelance writer.

  24. Robert Marsh
    August 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Hey Tom you make some good points here.

    I agree with you ! I think it is fun to some degree to see how frugal you can be without compromising the basic necessities you have in your life. i.e. food, water, clothes, money for bills, children etc…

    My wife and I do that every week with our family , and it is kind of a challenge we embrace to see how you can live without going to Chilis or buying a new dress every weekend or going to the $2 movies instead of the $10 movies 😉 .

    And also I can definitely identify with you on how having some freedom and independence with a little lesser pay blows away having mucho dinero with absolutely no freedom and a boss hovering over you 😉

    When I hit 31 years old the freedom train rolled in and and hasn’t left since; which is 14 years and counting 🙂

    I appreciate your insight and diligence here in providing new posts that vary and have an interesting take on things.


  25. Jules
    August 23, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Hi, Tom!

    I’ve enjoyed touring your site for the past few days and must say I really love this post! My husband and I have been seriously clearing out the life clutter for about a year now. We’ve never been happier! Our focus is now about having more experiences. I’d much rather go on a hike in a park I’ve never visited before and share seeing something new and interesting with the love of my life. Many of our past experiences have created stimulating and thoughtful discussions years later! I don’t recall many television shows that have accomplished this.

    I am now also leaving work behind, although it was a decision that was made for me rather than by me (thanks to downsizing). Quite frankly, I’m not that upset over it–I’m actually grateful to have been relieved of it. We’ve saved more than enough to get along for quite awhile, so I see this as an opportunity to explore other options. One of those options is writing.

    I’ve been a student of positive and negative energy for a number of years now. So many people have told me I should write a book, that…well, I think I’ll start with a blog first. 😀 I’m planning on having one up and running within the next two weeks. My true joy in this endeavor is the thought that I could make someone’s life better by sharing what I’ve learned and helping them learn how to apply this knowledge to their lives, too.

    Keep up the great work! I’ll look forward to reading more…

    • Tom Ewer
      August 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Hi Jules,

      I find clearing clutter to be extremely rewarding — it’s nice to know that you’ve not got a load of junk clogging up your home/life!

      Definitely start with a blog — that can turn into a book in time and it’s far less intimidating!



  26. Roy Liu
    August 24, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Hi Tom,

    Great post, and something that a lot of people do not realize – that life is not entirely about money, and a lot of people do not need that new handbag, or watch, or whatever to feel better about themselves. Material goods tend to feel good for about 2 weeks before the feeling wears off.

    Our society has become one in which the companies depend on rampant consumerism to fuel it’s profits. So when the company is downsizing and someone is made redundant, probably a good way to “get back” at the companies is to spend less! Lol

  27. Tom Southern
    August 27, 2013 at 8:07 am

    A man after my own heart! 🙂 Well, almost! I gave up telly about 10 years ago as I didn’t think it was worth the licence fee (yes, we have to have a licence to watch telly in the UK!?). I’m a member of 2 libraries and, give or take the odd hiccup-ping CD or DVD am satisfied with the alternative. Also, charity shops have been my secret coup de gras since my punk days. Oh, and I gave up my car round about the same time I gave my telly to charity too. What else …? Uhm … eating on a £/$1.00 a day? Hmm … even eating salads and soups, not sure how that works.

    One thing, I do need (and my nod to the modern world) is my laptop. Oh, and internet connection (2 things!).

    Anyway, I suppose it all comes down to keeping healthy, and not leaving behind one job you hate for another, no matter who your boss is. In the end, it’s creating enough finance to live the life that makes us most comfortable and in tune with ourselves that really drives what we decide to do.

    And the confidence to know where this finance is going to keep coming from. A lot of people struggle to believe that they’ll be able to live a life of their own without a day job to support them.

    That’s why it’s important to test the water while still in your day job. Progress at your own pace. You don’t have to leave your day job fully if you don’t want to. Nothing inspires confidence to do what you really want to do like seeing and experiencing the success of getting paid for doing something you really want to do.

    I think the whole essence of LeavingWorkBehind.com is that when you’re doing what you love, even hard work doesn’t feel like work because the mere fact you’re loving doing it means you’ve left Work behind.

  28. Ragnar
    August 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Definitely familiar with the concept, it’s how I managed to stay job-free on a tiny scholarship. Looking back though I wish I had gotten a job or two just for the experience. I’m considering saving up some money through a job, then moving somewhere with insanely low living costs,.Then proceed to live off pennies from freelancing work until I get my own business going.

  29. Al Bryant
    September 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Great post Tom. It’s made me think about my journey in a slightly different way. It’s difficult as I have a wife and two children so there is a bit of a challenge in cutting back expenditure but I’m definitely going to look to see what I can achieve.

    Happy Thursday.

  30. mark
    October 15, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Tom, I am with you on having more free time. I worked a busy high tech job that required traveling and working weekends. I was pulling in the equivalent of $200k per year as a single guy. Now, I work 4 days a week, I make only $60k, no weekends, and I leave work behind once I close my door.

    With that said, I would gladly leave that job behind, make half as much, and work the same amount from my virtual office.

    My family of 5 live in the condo I bought in 1989 when I was single. It’s big enough for us. The mortgage is less than renting a 1 bedroom apartment.

    We drive old cars. The newest car that I drive has over 180,000 miles on it. No car payments for over 20 years. I can afford a $1000 repair bill and not even flinch. Our cars rarely break because I do preventative maintenance myself.

    We buy all of our clothes from thrift stores. My wife makes all our food from scratch. We are in several food buying coops. I roast my own coffee at home. No starbucks or buying expensive lattes and what not.

    We bought a 1/2 cow and keep it in a 1/2 size deep freezer.

    My stays home with our two boys.

    No cable tv, no land line phone. My wife uses the magic jack app on her iPhone. I bought a sim card for her iPhone and did away with monthly fees. We now pay about a dollar a day for her phone. She gets unlimited data for free as long as she is near free wifi which is almost every where.

    • Tom Ewer
      October 18, 2013 at 7:54 am

      Now that’s serious frugality Mark! But the message is clear: you don’t need money to make you happy. By keeping an eye on the pennies you can work a far less stressful job and ultimately be far happier. Bravo!

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