How a Bad Day at Work Inspired Our Family’s Financial Independence Plan

Andy Hill and son laughing

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In mid-2016, I had a pretty rough day at work.

My new manager called me into his office to inform me that there would be some changes with my position. A position that I had grown to enjoy. I was proud to have built a team of 3 based on some solid sales wins that I had lead during the previous three years.

It was an honor to see the growth there really. I would win a piece of business and someone would get a full-time job. And then another and then another … It was really cool. I liked the fact that when I worked hard and earned the company money, someone got a job. That made me feel good.

So when my manager told me that I would no longer be managing those three people anymore, I was pretty devastated. Furthermore, my role of leadership on those accounts was no longer required either. I wasn’t being fired or demoted. I was being shifted.

Looking back, I understand why management made these decisions. Overall, the move has been good for the company and I’ve been able to help with growth in other areas.

But that day when I got home from work, I was pretty bummed.

In fact, I was more than bummed. I was scared.

With Nicole stopping her job a couple years earlier to raise our kids at home, I was the only income source we had as a family. That freaked me out.

I thought, “If my job could be so easily adjusted, they could just as easily let me go. And then where would our family be?”

After a couple days of thinking over my situation, I decided two things:

  1. I’m going to work hard to make the best of my new position.
  2. I need to investigate ways for me never to feel so vulnerable again.

As much as I liked Nicole staying at home with the kids, I did feel very nervous about our single income household. That was a lot of pressure. Perform or else …. Right?

Our Family’s 5-Legged Income Stool

As part of my investigation to build my confidence and decrease my family’s vulnerability to job loss, I decided it was time to diversify my income. Put some more legs on my one-legged income stool in a sense …

After listening to podcasts and reading personal finance books, I decided we would construct a 5-legged income stool over the next 5 years that would help us have some independence. Not necessary financial independence, but enough independence where I wouldn’t feel so freaked out the next time my manager decides to make a change.

Here are those 5 legs at a high level …

1. Andy’s Side Hustle

Although I don’t make the big bucks with this podcast, I do feel more comfortable that I have some money coming in. And if I really needed to make more, I would amp up my typical 10-20 hours per week and increase my income.

Andy Interviewing Rachel Cruze
Andy interviewing Author Rachel Cruze about gratitude

Last year, I made $13,000 working very part-time so if I had 3-4 times the amount of hours (in the case of complete job loss), I would be able to take that to $40,000-$50,000. That’s not enough to take care of my family’s annual expenses at around $60,000 (not including health insurance), but it’s a good start.

2. Nicole’s Side Hustle

Last year, my talented wife took her skills for home organization and got a part-time gig out of it. She’s now working for an awesome company called All Sorted Out here in Metro Detroit. They go into people’s homes and create order. If you’ve seen that show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, it’s kind of like that but they don’t leave the house like Marie does. They stay and actually do the tidying up!

She does this gig on select few weekdays and weekends per month so the money isn’t huge, but it definitely adds more to our overall family income. More importantly though, it’s an outlet for an awesome skill that Nicole has.

It could grow into a full-time gig when Calvin goes to Kindergarten, but for now, we’re enjoying the flexibility it allows for our young family.

3. Rental Property

This year, we have a goal of buying our first rental property. We’ve been saving up a lot of our extra money since we paid off our mortgage in the fall of 2017. As of last week, we have $80,000 saved!

With a rental property in metro Detroit, we project we’ll make a profit of around $6,000 per year. We plan to continue the same process for the upcoming years as well … then we’ll have 2, then 3, and so on …

Outside of the income diversification side of things, I’m just excited to have a family business we can do together. One for my kids to work on with us! And if they are contributing to the business, we can pay them and we can invest for their future as well.

Related Article: Why I’m Buying My First Rental Property in Cash

4. Taxable Brokerage Account

I’ve been contributing to my retirement accounts for over a decade now and I’ll continue to do so, but I also want to invest for some pre-retirement money. That way, if I want to access it before retirement age, I’m not hit with penalties and taxes.

For that reason, I started investing in a taxable brokerage account with Vanguard last year. I don’t have much in there right now (around $3,000). I’m hopeful that this will grow over the coming decade so I have a lot more to utilize if need be.

It’d be great to grow this to around $250,000 and be able to use the dividend to fund our lifestyle. It’s doable. I just need to keep contributing and have the patience to let compounding do its work!

5. Andy’s Career

I’m proud of my career track record and excited to see where I’ll go with it in the future. My single best source of income now (and probably over the next 5-10 years) will be my career. For that reason, I’m going to continue to work hard, go above and beyond to meet my objectives and take advantage of all the great benefits offered to me (401k match, High Deductible Health Plan with an HSA and the ESOP).

Father and son on the beach walking

BUT … while I’m kicking butt at work, I’m going to be slowly but surely growing other legs to my income stool.

We’re about 3 years into that 5-year plan. Conservatively, I project that we’ll be able to make around $70,000-$80,000 per year without my full-time job by year 5. A bulk of that coming from this side hustle, then Nicole’s, then real estate, then brokerage. That kind of result and income outside of my full-time employment will make me feel pretty confident, secure and less stressed. Good for me, my family and my employer.


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Author: Andy Hill

Andy Hill, a mid-30’s father of two living in the metro Detroit area, pens the MarriageKidsandMoney.com (MKM) blog taking you through the trials and tribulations of being a young parent and husband who is planning for his family’s future and winning with money.

One thought on “How a Bad Day at Work Inspired Our Family’s Financial Independence Plan”

  1. It’s always best to plan ahead instead of being surprised. In this ever changing world you can lose your job through no fault of your own. Technology is making so many jobs obsolete!

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