An Overlooked Benefit to Making a Low Salary

September 6, 2011

It’s no secret (most) journalists don’t make a ton of money. While that’s been difficult to swallow as I’ve gotten older and friends in other professions have moved up the income ladder, I recently recognized a benefit to what I’d previously seen solely as a disadvantage.

The less you make at your day job, the easier that income is to replace.

Which means that in some ways, the less you make at your day job, the easier it is to leave that day job behind in pursuit of a more fulfilling career.

Because I wasn’t making all that much money at my day job, it wasn’t so far-fetched for me to come up with a plan to replace that income by working for myself. If I’d been making, say, $150,000 a year like 30-year-olds in other industries, it would’ve been far more difficult to walk away from that day job to do my own thing.

We often blame finances for holding us back. Because it’s true: money can be a huge obstacle to following our dreams.

But sometimes, if you look at your financial situation in the right light, it might also have the potential to set you free.

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    14 Replies to “An Overlooked Benefit to Making a Low Salary”

    • Very good point, Alexis. I went part time in accounting after I started having children, and the more I cut back, the more I realized that if I kept that up, it might not be that long before I could switch to something else all together, with even more flexibility.

    • Ian Grindey says:

      Hi Alexis, I gave up work two years ago (decision made slightly easier as my wife was still in work), I’d had enough. You earn all this money, lose most of it in taxes & spend the rest on things you don’t really need.

      So I decided to change things. I now grow most of our veg in our back garden, bake fresh bread everyday, make jams & pickles (from locally sourced ‘free’ berries) & we have a freezer full of home-made soups.

      I don’t need, or want, the latest iPhone, iPad or 3D tv and if I’ve got £100 in my pocket I really wouldn’t know what to do with it, whereas two years ago it would’ve gone in a flash. Are we happier? – I’ll let you know this time next week when we’re relaxing on holiday by the pool!

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Love this line: “You earn all this money, lose most of it in taxes & spend the rest on things you don’t really need.”

        Thanks, Ian! So great to hear from other folks who are figuring out how to make it work for them!

    • I totally agree with you. One of the main reasons I could move from China to Chile on short notice was that I hadn’t accumulated any of the things you tend to buy when you have a steady income in one city (furniture, car, etc.) I am grateful that I have been able to support myself from my somewhat random and adventurous jobs, and it’s good to know that this income is relatively easy to replace with income from other sources.

      Thanks for this optimistic reminder!

    • Lee Cart says:

      Hi Alexis, Thanks for this posting–it has arrived on a particularly frustrating morning at my day job, so I have left for the morning to go do some writing and will go back to my “money-earning” job this afternoon. Since I earn so little at this day job, reducing my stress level and enjoying the rest of the morning is far more beneficial than any actual money I might be losing by continuing to work. Thanks for the help!

    • Diane Cowen says:

      Your blog is so inspiring. I’ve been wanting to put together Plan B for a while and now I’m getting motivated. I have too much “stuff” (mortgage etc.) to just walk away, but I’m feeling the energy to get started laying the foundation for what(ever) comes next.

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Thanks, Diane! (Great to hear from you, btw.) I really think setting the foundation in baby steps is such a great way to get started, because then things FEEL more feasible, which is often what really matters. Keep me posted on Plan B…

    • Shawndra Russell says:

      I totally agree. I have friends with huge student loan debts in the medical field and many have dreams of doing entrepreneurial endeavors but simply can’t figure out how they would pay off their student loans if they went for their dreams. I felt confident I could make freelancing as much as I was making teaching high school and so far, I have been reaching that goal. Now to surpass it…

    • Gloria Chang says:

      That’s a great way to see things! Great perspective.

    • DD Myles says:

      Hi Alexis,
      I thought I was share something…are you happy making money? or are you making money to be happy? If you chose the latter, then your life will be filled with stress, unrealistics goals and frankly missing out on all the simple things that bring joy to your life. The secret is to be happy making money. I rather work a less paying job that I’m am passionate about, than work a job that pays well but comes with a lot of stress and drama (hypertension anyone).

    • Lori Parr says:

      I have lived below what most call the poverty line for thelast 3 years. We’ll just call the chain of events my mid-life crisis. It is causing me to recollect my early 20’s and how I chose to live back then; working just enough to get enough gas money for my next adventure. Currently I call an off-grid cabin on land I bought years ago home. But I don’t think of myself as poor. I am rich in time, and have been coalescing my forces and my skill set in the reinvention of me. I’m calling myself a writer, and whatever amount of money I make on my first gig will be more than I’ve had in some time.

    • So true… Thanks for helping with this very valid but overlooked argument !

    • claudiacv says:

      I love concept. I have inadvertently been living by this concept for several years now, without stopping to reflect on the whys. And you are absolutely right. 10 Years ago I lost a high paying, high profile job and though it´s been an uphill climb and money has been tight for a long time, the freedom is something I would not change. I´ve already walked away from 2 jobs knowing that it would be easy to bring in that money a better way. Lesser paying jobs also tend to mean less stress, more free time, more creative brain time that allows me to focus on things such as writing.

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