Permanent full-time work might sound great to many who are unemployed or working part-time and/or temporary jobs. But for some of us, the last thing we want is a job, especially if it drags on for years and takes five days out of every week.
Maybe that describes you as well as it does me, but you still have to pay the bills, right? So what can you do? You might avoid jobs altogether by getting rich in business, but that can be tough way to go.
For example, in a report in CNBC, Grant Cardone, an entrepreneur whose companies do close to $100 million in annual sales, says, “Most people work 9 to 5. I work 95 hours (per week). If you ever want to be a millionaire, you need to stop doing the 9 to 5 and start doing 95.”
Yeah… right. Trade 40 hours for 95? Even a full-time job would take too much time away from the many activities I enjoy, so becoming a workaholic is not going to happen.
Other options? Joining a monastery or convent comes to mind. Becoming a hobo is another possibility, and you may have other ideas. But I have my own recipe for job-avoidance.
In the 36 years since my first real job (I’m 53) I’ve worked full-time for only a few months, and my average time at a job is probably around three months. Here’s what has worked for me, and what might, with some personal modifications, work for you.
The Job Avoidance Plan
Above all you’ll need to be non-conventional in your approach to lifestyle and financial matters.
For example, you might join the Peace Corps to avoid a regular job. In that case you’ll travel, have living expenses covered, get full health insurance, and be handed a check for over $8,000 when you’re done in two years.
My own unconventional approach (in my 20s) was to buy a mobile home on land and rent out the extra bedrooms. I paid off the mortgage in a few years by working part-time at a casino.
At that point the rental income covered all expenses and more, so I worked various jobs a day or two each week, and I was still able to save enough money to travel (including overseas).
Jobs have come and gone since then (none in the last five years). In addition to a bit of “out of the box” thinking, here’s what I suggest for keeping employment temporary and part-time:
- Carefully Consider Life-Altering Decisions
- Control Your Core Expenses
- Diversify Your Sources of Income
- Keep Finding Ways to Make and Save Money
- Always Have Money in the Bank
- Use Jobs as Temporary Tools
- Borrow Money the Right Way
- Take Turns Working
- Get Ready to Quit Your Job
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Carefully Consider Life-Altering Decisions
Want more economic freedom, including the freedom to quit jobs when you feel like it? There’s one big thing you can do to make it more possible…
Yes, people will pressure you to have children, and perhaps even judge you harshly when you choose not to have them. But you can take solace in the science that shows having children doesn’t make you happier.
I’m not saying children will make it impossible to live without full-time jobs, but they will make it more difficult. Marriage might too, unless you find the right partner (fortunately, my wife Ana is very open-minded and adaptable).
Other life-altering decisions that have to be carefully considered include going into debt for a degree (which could make things better or worse), and buying large homes with decades-long expensive mortgage loans. That brings us to my next important suggestion…
Control Your Core Expenses
When our income was higher we had a house cleaner and we took a lot of trips. When our income fell we dropped the house cleaner and reduced the number of vacation.
But meanwhile, our house was paid in full ($143,000), it was in a area with low property taxes, and it was cheap to heat and cool.
The point is that your core expenses are the important ones to control. Those are the bills you can’t easily avoid, like mortgage payments, car payments, credit card debt payments, utilities, property taxes, and so on. If you have to pay it next month, it’s probably a core expense.
You see, if you want to work fewer full-time gigs, you have to be able to slash your expenditures whenever you choose. If you quit that job to take six months off you can easily go out less often, or stop taking expensive vacations, but you can’t easily stop the fixed expenses, so control those.
Diversify Your Sources of Income
Having two part-time jobs might be more interesting than one full-time job, but that’s not enough diversification.
As explained in my post on developing multiple streams of income, you should aim to have income of at least one other type (freelance income, business profits, investment returns, project income).
You could start a weekend handyman business, or invest in a rental house or two. You could do some freelance work or sell your photos online. Better yet, choose one (or more) of the many ways to create passive income, so the money will keep coming in when you’re not working.
Every little bit helps. For example, I made $1,030 from bank bonuses last year, and $3,210 from credit card bonuses, points, and cash-back awards.
That extra $4,240 was significant since our core expenses are very low (we currently live in a one-bedroom condo with no mortgage and no other debt).
Keep Finding Ways to Make and Save Money
For years I’ve considered getting a job (part-time, temporary, or both, of course), but I keep putting it off as I find more ways to make money. It helps that my wife and I also found a great low-cost place to live and learned how to find inexpensive vegetarian food.
One thing about working less in conventional ways is that it leaves you more free time, which you can use how you like. Invest some of that time into looking for ways to make and save money and you’ll be better at avoiding jobs.
Always Have Money in the Bank
My experience is that financial decisions are more rational when not made in desperation. Money in the bank helps with that, and makes it possible to quit a job when you like. So when times are good, don’t spend it all: Save some money!
How much? You have to decide what makes you comfortable, but if our savings ever were low enough that they couldn’t cover the bills for a year, I would (gulp) get a job tomorrow. Of course, it would be for a limited time, which brings us to the next suggestion…
Use Jobs as Temporary Tools
Jobs are great as a source of fast, consistent income. I mean, our internet business income was great too, but it took a while to develop, and then dropped by 95%.
That never happens with a job (okay, a 100% drop happens when you’re fired, but you can get a new job more easily than you can develop a new business).
So jobs are great, as long as you think of them as a tool, and so avoid getting stuck in them. For example, I used a casino job (part-time, fortunately) as a way to pay off my first mortgage.
A three-month-long painting and handyman job taught me how to fix and flip houses for a profit (and how to lend money to a former boss for great interest income).
For more ideas, see this article: 15 Ways to Use a Job to Make Money.
Borrow Money the Right Way
Don’t get into credit card debt — and if you do, get it paid off as fast as possible. Don’t borrow to buy a car — drive what you can afford to pay cash for. Just avoid most debt.
When is debt good? When it will make or save you money. In other words, only borrow when it improves your financial situation.
For example, borrowing to buy the necessary equipment for your new carpet cleaning company makes sense (assuming you have a good business plan). Borrowing to buy income-producing real estate can make sense too.
What about a mortgage loan? That depends on whether it actually saves you money. If rent is inexpensive you might be better off renting than buying.
If it costs about the same to buy a home as to rent, buy the house, pay it off as fast as possible, and celebrate by quitting your job for a while.
Take Turns Working
If you’re married or otherwise sharing a life with a partner, and neither of you likes jobs very much, consider taking turns providing the income you need.
For example, when Ana and I married, I got a job. Then, when I wanted to write, Ana worked part-time as a Spanish teacher at a language school.
A year later, when both of our writing skills started to pay off (in the form of profits from our websites), she quit. Since then we’ve each had a few jobs at various times.
Get Ready to Quit Your Job
Having money in the bank is a great start if you want to take time off from the working world. It also helps to have what I call “low life overhead,” meaning you keep those core expenses at a minimum.
But before you quit any particular job, you should also make specific preparations in advance. Here are some to consider:
Reduce Discretionary Expenditures – Start cutting back on things like eating out, shopping, and drinking expensive wine a month or two before you quit. You want to develop the necessary new habits before the last paycheck comes. This also helps you add to your savings.
Increase Income From Other Sources – Move your money to a higher-interest bank account, for example, or start making more crafts to sell, if that’s your hobby-business.
Arrange for Health Insurance – You may have to buy your own health insurance if it’s being paid for by your employer. Even if you can keep your employer’s policy for a while, be sure to investigate what you’ll have to pay when the time comes.
Have a Plan B and C – You never know what life might throw at you, so have a plan for when your money runs low. And then another plan. Maybe ask former employers if they will be hiring in the future. Ideally you want a way (or two) to quickly start making money again when and if you need to.
If you get by without a full-time job, please share your experience below… and keep on frugaling!