How My Side Hustle Helped Me Retire Early

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A few years ago, I was able to retire early from my Corporate job at the age of just 58.  That’s at least 7 years earlier than I would have normally retired at the age of 65.  That was a sweet feeling, I’ll tell you.  The reason I was able to retire so early was because I had started my own business on the side.  Out of my whole circle of work friends, I was the youngest person I knew to be able to retire.

How my Side Hustle Helped Me Retire 7 Years Early

In a way, I didn’t actually retire.  I basically QUIT to run my own business.  But we are calling it a “retirement” since I had retirement benefits available.  But the nice thing is that after 40 years of punching a time clock and reporting to a boss, I am free every day to do exactly what I want.  What an awesome feeling!

I’ve been running my side hustle since about 2013. (I actually don’t care for the name side hustle – it always sounds like I’m running a con game or something).  I’m running this blog plus two others – and my lifestyle site I’m also a Coach and Social Media Consultant for a variety of other bloggers and businesses. 

It Wasn’t What I Planned

I hadn’t actually planned to retire as early as I did, but the one thing I always promised myself was that if I ever got to the point where I was truly unhappy at work, I’d find a way out.  I’ve seen too many people just marking time and going through the motions in their last years before retirement.  Maybe you are to that point in your life too, or getting there?

It was actually pretty sad.  I really loved my job.  I had a great group, a great boss, enjoyed my work, and I was a top performer in my division.  They even treated me to a special trip to New Orleans to celebrate being named as one of the top 1% of the company.  But things always change.  The great boss left, to be replaced with a horrible boss.  The great group started to fall apart – other people were reassigned, retired, were laid off, or just quit.

The weird thing is that the whole company seemed to shift about that time.  All my friends were in similar situations and seemed to be feeling exactly the same way.  But the difference was that most of them were just stuck there.  I wasn’t, because I had an additional source of income and job skills that were completely separate from my Corporate job.

20 Years of Double Duty

That doesn’t imply that it was all totally easy.  I worked a string of small businesses over the years, some more successful than others  I was an Ebay seller for several years.  I sold rubber stamps and scrapbooking supplies.  Then I sold Pampered Chef products and did lots of work on Fiverr before I started my blogs and my consulting business.  Finally, some success!  At last, I’d gotten to the point where I was making enough money to consider it a successful business.

Obviously, to manage two nearly full-time jobs meant a lot of long days.  Really long days.  12 hour days were the norm, but 14-16 hour days were not unusual at all.  I would usually start working right after dinner and work through the whole evening until bedtime, which was usually pretty late.  Lather, rinse, repeat for 20 years.  Am I crazy?  Probably.  Yep, I’ve definitely stepped over the line into being a workaholic.

I definitely do have some strong anxiety around money, but one of the things I hated most was that completely broke “day before payday” feeling.  You know, where you are trying to stretch out your gas or scavenge through the pantry for meals because you are waiting for your paycheck to show up. HATED THAT!

I haven’t felt like that for years because with a business like mine, I have money showing up every few days.  I’ll wake up sometimes to find out I’ve earned $50 or $100 overnight (that’s the BEST feeling!).  Or a new client signing up with me can create an instant raise in the hundreds of dollars.  That certainly wasn’t happening in the Corporate world.

Why You Need a Side Business Even if you Aren’t Ready to Retire

I wrote a post about this years ago – Why you NEED a Side Hustle.  As in my case, having my own side business gave me some options.  It gave us extra money for paying off bills, for taking vacations, for paying for my son’s college – all debt free.  (Sidebar:  Check out my post about paying CASH for college.  We’ve had no student loans or scholarships for my son’s college – not a dime).

My side hustle allowed me to leave my job when I was burnt out, discouraged, and just DONE with Corporate life.  It gave us extra tax write-offs, especially for my failed business attempts.  If nothing else, it just opened up my mind that sitting at a desk working a boring job until I was 65 was not my only option.

Yes, it was a lot of extra work.  But it’s time after the kids were in bed, when I would’ve just been watching TV anyway.  So I watched TV AND worked on my laptop.  Other than the scrapbooking and Pampered Chef gigs, most of my work was all done online, from the comfort of my own home.  Even when my sons were younger, I still managed to work around their schedules.  I even did some homeschooling with my youngest son.  Anything is possible if you want to make it work badly enough.

And think about it.  What would an extra $500 a month do for you?  An extra $1,000?  How much money would you have to make before you could give up YOUR boring job?  I know MANY people who are making $5,000 – $10,000 a month – all sorts of crazy money.  Of course, I also know plenty of folks who work their hind ends off, and don’t make a dang dime!  You definitely have to be smart, hard-working, talented, and have a certain amount of LUCK.

How Can You Start Your Own Side Business?

These days, side business options are as numerous as grains of sand on a beach.  People have found ways to turn just about any skill or hobby into a successful business.  There are hundreds of blog posts or magazine articles on side businesses and how to start a business of your own.  Here are some books I’ve found helpful:

Playing with Fire – Financial Independence Retire Early

Dave Ramsey – Total Money Makeover

I not only bought this Dave Ramsey book and read it several times.  I also bought copies for all my kids and taped a $20 bill to the back.  They weren’t allowed to have the $20 until they had finished the book.  I think it made a huge difference in all our lives because none of my kids have any serious money struggles or significant debt.

The Rest of the Story

I originally wrote this post several years ago when I first retired in mid-2019. As we all know now, there were some big changes coming down the pike in 2020 and beyond.

However, I had some personal drama going on prior to that. I retired at the end of June and in October, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. It was completely unexpected and out of the blue, especially with starting to grow a brand new business. We lost our insurance in the midst of my chemo treatments, and it was just a crazy time, to say the least.

However, it actually turned out to be a surprisingly happy ending. We found new insurance, I got through my treatments much better than expected, and due to an amazing business woman who partnered with my and sent me a large amount of referral business, I was actually able to double my business in my first year, and replace my Corporate income even with cancer and a worldwide pandemic.

I think the moral of the story here is to be open to the possibilities. Just when you think your world and your business is caving in on you, it might completely turn around. You have to be open to even the most unexpected possibilities. And don’t give up because you never know what good or bad surprises might be right around the bend.

Here are some other posts you may enjoy:

Dave Ramsay Book – Best Money I Ever Spent

How to Help your Future College Student

Switch to Cash to Control your Overspending

Other Resources for You to Look Into

Check out my freebie page. I have a video that will show you exactly how to pay off $500 worth of debt within 30 days with some easy tweaks. I also have a handy guide to help you control your impulse spending on Amazon, Target, and other places where you frequently overspend.

Check out my debt-free coaching page. I've helped hundreds of people save thousands of dollars in excess interest charges using simple Dave Ramsey-like strategies. It's simple, affordable and personalized to your unique financial situation.

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