- I had my dream job in the music industry, but the long hours and stress led to severe burnout.
- When my sanity plummeted I knew I had to quit my job but had no money.
- I reduced my expenses and saved $ 20,000 (six months of expenses) to be able to quit.
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My first goal was a career in music. Six months after moving to Nashville, I landed a job as a temporary receptionist for $ 10 an hour for a concert organizer. Eager to be hired full time, I got there early, worked late, and looked for ways to prove I was essential, and it worked. Within four months, I was a full-time assistant, performing concerts across the United States and Canada at age 23.
For a while, it was my dream career: working with famous artists, traveling for free, and seeing the country’s most iconic theaters. My stressful 80-hour weeks were a badge of honor for the privilege of working in the performing arts.
I spent all my extra money on networking
Back in Nashville, I felt the constant pressure to “be seen”, to party several nights a week, to spend all my extra money on cocktails, dinner parties, and expensive clothes. After late nights at the office, I would often go to shows or meet someone for a drink, not worrying about my wallet. The endless amount of networking was draining my bank account, but I always justified it, putting my finances aside.
After a few years, lack of sleep and chronic stress had eroded my mental health. Two years later, I was struggling with anxiety, burnout and
. Worse, I had little savings to show for my years of relentless hustling, and with limited insurance, it was difficult to afford mental health care.
Mental illness has changed my spending
My failing sanity made the demands of my job almost impossible to manage. I struggled to focus on essential tasks, often breaking down in tears from the stress and retreating to my bed whenever possible. I needed to make a change, but I didn’t have the savings to make it happen, and I was too ashamed to burden someone else with my problems.
One desperate night behind the scenes of a cold production office, I signed up for a free personal finance class via Coursera. Along with over 80,000 other students, the forums were lots of free resources, including personal finance blogs. Upon discovering these blogs, I have descended into a rabbit hole to find common people writing about frugal living, debt refund, invest, early retirement, and more. For the first time, I felt I could take care of my finances and make changes in my life.
How I reduced my expenses
Inspired by what I read, I started to look for ways to spend less money. The first expenses to be incurred were eating out, drinking, and shopping. Then I checked each of my monthly bills – cell phone, internet, utilities, subscriptions, insurance, etc. – for other means of reducing.
I reduced my cell phone plan, switched to cheaper Internet service, saved energy and water, and increased my insurance deductibles to reduce premiums. For the first time, I also started to track every dollar spent and cut back on any other unnecessary expenses.
It was a restrictive lifestyle with sacrifices that maybe didn’t work for everyone, but after making those changes I could afford to see a therapist. Without mental health coverage it was still expensive, and I felt deeply grateful for the power and privilege to pay for sessions on my own.
Make the plan to quit my career
After several months of therapy and medication, the cloud of anxiety and depression has lifted. I could go through the day without emotional breakdown or fall asleep right after work. Although I was still suffering from burnout, it was a relief to start to feel better.
Once I cut back on therapy, I was able to save myself, and that motivated me to cut back even more. I started to funnel every dollar available into my savings account. There was only one goal in mind: to save enough to quit my job, with or without another gig in sight.
After years of relentless travel, my body needed a break to prepare for any opportunity to come. I set myself a goal of saving $ 20,000, six months of basic living expenses, and hit that several months later before giving notice.
I had a lot of privileges that helped me change my situation
One of the biggest criticisms of the personal finance blogging community is the widespread “bootstraps” narrative. This myth says that anyone can improve their social or economic situation by working hard while ignoring systemic issues that can make upward mobility nearly impossible.
While I have been successful in recovering from mental illness and improving my finances, it is essential to address the privilege that made it possible: being white, earning more than minimum wage, living disease free. chronic costly, with no student loan debt and no children or other family members to support. If any of these scenarios were different, it would have been much harder to cut my monthly expenses, save money, be healthy, and eventually quit my job.