It has been over 8 years since I retired from my engineering career to become a stay at home dad/blogger. I LOVE being self-employed part-time. If I knew what a great fit it was, I would have tried to get here much sooner. Every day is like Christmas combined with Thanksgiving!
For this article, I’m scratching my head to come up with a list of entertaining reasons why I like being self-employed. Of course, wearing gym clothes all day long and not having to go to the office is great, but I’ll try to list more personal reasons as well. (In 2020, a lot of people experienced how great working from home can be. It’ll be hard to go back to the office next year. Hopefully, the employers will be okay with gym shorts. Right?)
*Originally posted in 2013. Updated with current info in 2020. Life is still great, but every day isn’t Christmas+Thanksgiving anymore. I guess you can get used to anything. 🙂
1. Keep more money
The first thing that popped into my head is I get to keep more of the money I generate. I always felt like I wasn’t compensated fairly at my old job. In 2012, Intel paid Paul Otellini (CEO) $19 million. Sure, he deserves more compensation than a regular employee, but I don’t think he should get paid that much more. Intel stock went from around $25 to $21 in 2012 and they didn’t make any progress in the mobile market. As an employee and shareholder, I find it offensive that executives were getting paid so much. I was paid a little over $100,000 and I knew I generated plenty of revenue for the company since I worked in the core CPU group.
Of course, I have no idea how much I really contributed to the bottom line at Intel. It would be nice if they can compute it somehow and pay people accordingly. Now that I run my own business, I know where every dollar goes. These days, I get to keep 80-90% of the revenue depending on the year. I LOVE knowing where the money goes.
While I am making less money overall, I feel better because I’m keeping a bigger piece of the (smaller) pie. I guess that’s just psychology, but I don’t really care. It is very gratifying to know that I am being fairly compensated for my time and effort. A self-employed business can also grow and hopefully, I will make about the same pay rate as my old job. I’d be deliriously happy if I ever hit $50,000/year. That would be great for the half time I put in.
*2020 update – Online income has been inconsistent over the years. My best year was in 2018. The blog generated over $80,000 in revenue that year and my income was around $75,000 after taxes and expenses. That pay rate is higher than when I was an engineer. Most years aren’t as good, though.
2. Residual value
I’m building a business and it should have some residual value when I’m ready to walk away. I’m still having fun and I think I keep this up for a few more years. However, if I can’t blog anymore, I should be able to sell my online property. Who knows where Retire By 40 will be in 5 or 10 years?
I’m also building a personal brand. That’s a great way to promote yourself and then branch out to do other stuff. Many PF bloggers became an author, freelancer, TV personality, consultant, and more. A blog is a great launching platform. If you’re interested see my guide – How to start a blog and why you should.
*2020 update – At this point, it doesn’t make sense to sell. The going rate for a blog is 2-3x annual income. That’s not enough of an incentive. I’d rather keep running the blog until my son can take over. In 10 years, we’ll have Retire by 40 v2.0!
I don’t like being told what to do. I hated going to those mind-numbing meetings where everyone bangs away on their laptops. I hated deadlines and all the extra unpaid hours I had to put in. I hated being nice to people I didn’t care for. I guess I wasn’t really cut out for the corporate culture.
Now, I am free to set my own agenda and do whatever I want. I can write about anything I want and promote it how I see fit. Every article doesn’t have to be a home run. I can make a mistake and nobody will yell at me. I will just learn from those mistakes and take my own sweet time dealing with them. It’s great to be accountable only to myself and not my employer and coworkers. I guess I like being a lone wolf. Life is much simpler now and it’s amazing.
It really depends on your personality. If you thrive in an organization then working in a corporation or the government might be a great fit. Mrs. RB40 enjoys being a part of something bigger. That’s the main reason why she is still working. Although, the annoyance of work is slowly overtaking the joyous part. She won’t have to wait long. She plans to retire early in 2022.
4. Set my own pace
You know what? Whenever I did an annual review, one of my “strengths” was being a team player. I’m always nice to everyone and can get along with my coworkers. Now, I know that’s not really being a team player. It’s just being polite.
This one is actually a bit complicated. I never really liked team sports or rallies. Our family has mild mitochondrial disease and I can’t exert myself for long. I can do anaerobic exercise (weights), but I can’t do aerobic activities long. I’d faint if I overexert myself. So team sports that require a lot of running are out for me. I can do some aerobic exercise, but I need to closely monitor my heart rate to make sure it’s not too high.
So physically, I need to set my own pace and it’s slower than most other people. This carried over psychologically. I like going at my slow and steady turtle pace and I dislike being pushed. Self-employment enables me to do set my pace for work. I’m slow, but it doesn’t hurt the team because I’m the only one on the team. It’s great.
5. Flexible schedule
Working part-time is very important to me. I don’t have to put in a full day as a blogger. My schedule is very flexible. I’m writing this post at midnight while RB40Jr and I are visiting my brothers in CA. I can be a stay at home dad and spend time with my son most of the day and snatch a few hours here and there to work. Being a stay at home parent is not for everyone, but I love it. I always wanted a son and I can’t believe I’m able to spend so much time with him.
When I was working full-time, our son was at the daycare for 55 hours/week. That’s way too much time with strangers.
*2020 update – Life became much easier once RB40Jr started school fulltime. I had a lot more time to work on my blog, run errands, and relax. However, 2020 is a crazy year. In spring, the school shut down and we all scrambled to figure out remote learning. Virtual schooling improved a lot by September, though. Now, RB40Jr only needs help occasionally. The teachers are doing a great job. It’ll be nice to go back to normal at some point, but we adapted very well to this new paradigm. Also, I no longer blog at midnight because I can’t stay up that late anymore.
Self-employment is a great fit for me
I can’t tell you how much I love self-employment. My days pass by quickly and work doesn’t drag on. It’s much more rewarding to work for myself. Also, it’s gratifying to know where every dollar goes. I can work at my own pace and slowly build up my online empire without having to compete with a coworker. The added bonus is being able to spend an amazing amount of time as a dad. That alone is worth the decision to be self-employed. Of course, I’m making less money, but we planned for that that so it isn’t a big deal. Self-employment might not be a good fit for everyone, but it’s perfect for me.
Are you self employed? What are some unusual reasons why you like it?
Follow up: 5 Things I Miss About Work
Image credit: Nghia Le
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.