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I recently quit my job. I didn’t quit working. I just quit working for someone else. It’s been more than a month now and my husband and business partner, David, and I feel as good about our decision today as the day I left. One of the best parts about quitting my traditional job is watching the cycle of emotions our friends and family go through when we tell them that I quit my job to focus on our own business, Debt Free Guys.

It starts when their eyes open wide after they hear the not-too-surprising news that I quit the cubicle. This is quickly followed by an attempt to contain a wince, as they consider the loss of steady income, health and life insurance. Then, almost as if on cue, they drift into a daydream as they ponder, “Could I quit my job?”

The fact is they can and so can you. Here are five keys that helped us take another step closer to our dream of geographic and financial independence.

1. We’re Using What We Know

The No. 1 reason why people say they can’t start their own business, whether as a side-hustle or a full-time job, is that they don’t know what to do. They’re thinking too hard.

What do you do now that you enjoy or even love? This could be something you do at your current job or as a hobby. Do you feel the universe pulling you in a certain direction?

We were both in finance for a total of 15 years when we first met. Despite this, we had a combined total of $51,000 in credit card debt. We then applied our theoretical knowledge and gained practical experience by paying off our debt and turning our net worth into a net positive nearing $500,000.

We enjoy personal finance, investing and financial planning. Because of our experiences and our love of helping others with their money, we turned our passion into our business.

We’ve put ourselves out as writers, speakers, podcasters and experts on personal finance and we’re now helping others achieve their financial dreams. Me quitting the cubicle puts us one step closer to achieving our dreams. When our business becomes our primary source of income and David quits the cubicle, too, our dreams will come true.

2. We Saved Money

While our passion is our guide, it won’t be our demise. When we decided to turn our side-hustle into our hustle, we added an additional $10,000 to our emergency savings. We did this by cutting back on non-essential spending and putting it in our emergency savings account with no bells or whistles.

We keep our emergency savings in an account with no check writing or debit card features, which makes accessing these funds inconvenient. This minimizes urges to spend this money on whims.

We, also, benefit from being partners in both life and business. David is now the primary breadwinner and we can live comfortably, though not extravagantly, on his salary.

This means we’re implementing what we did to pay off our debt, such as only buying groceries that are either on sale or for which we have coupons. We cook at home rather than dine out. Boxed wine has replaced bottled wine because it’s cheaper per bottle and stores longer.

All of this is temporary and we know we can live frugally today to grow our business because we lived frugally yesterday to pay off our debt.

3. We’re Working Hard

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

We embraced hard work and we knew it wouldn’t be easy. We wake at 4:30 in the morning and are frequently up until midnight balancing a combination of David’s job and our business. Weekends aren’t to kick back and relax but to roll up our sleeves and put in back-to-back 12-hour days.

In the past, we wondered if it was worth it. As we took this big step toward our dream, we realized it is.

4. We Prepared

There were steps we took to prepare for me quitting. One such step included transferring my health insurance coverage to David’s health insurance plan through his current employer. Another was me acquiring life insurance, as I’m no longer covered under an employer.

I’ve initiated a rollover from my former employer’s 401K plan into my existing IRA Rollover account. I’ve elected for a direct rollover because this is the best way to ensure that I won’t pay taxes or penalty for my rollover. An indirect rollover risks me paying taxes at our current income rate and a 10% penalty if I don’t complete the indirect rollover within 60 days.

Talk with your accountant to determine the best option for you.

5. We Leapt

Finally, we leapt. Many struggle to make big life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There’s never a perfect time.

In fact, I delayed my original termination date by 90 days because my employer asked me to complete a project on which my team was working. We considered delaying my termination again because the economy showed signs of weakness.

Some people might say we should’ve saved more than our $10,000 cushion. Others might say we should’ve waited until after the upcoming presidential election ended. Still more might say leaving any job is foolish.

Despite all the reasons we could’ve mustered, we decided now was the time to take one more step toward our dream. If you dream to quit the cubicle, too, our five-step plan may help you.

[Editor’s note: If you dream of being your own boss it’s not only a good idea to make sure you have adequate emergency savings and minimal debt, but also that your credit is in good standing as poor credit can end up costing you more in higher interest rates. You can start shoring up your credit using Credit.com’s free credit report card, which gives you two free credit scores, updated monthly, plus an action plan to help you manage your credit.]

Image: Geber86

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