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Blueprint for Freedom: Quitting the 9-5 World

Sal Santiago writes about travel, minimalism, art, philosophy, and living an alternative lifestyle.

Today I thought I would share my plans for this year. I'm excited as this is the year I'm taking the ultimate leap, scheduling a huge chunk of time to work on my business. To work on being self-employed. Sharing these thoughts in the hopes that it might inspire someone else as well.

Here is what my year looks like: 6 months of seasonal work, from February to August. I'm currently working a seasonal job for a tour company at a national park. This job will allow me to save about $1500 per month. Employee housing is provided for a cost of $280 each month. Having such cheap rent, all utilities and wi-fi included, will allow me to save most of what I earn.

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Part of my goal is to save by cutting way back on eating out and takeaway food from restaurants. This is made easier by living in such a tiny town that only offers a handful of options. All of these are kind of expensive as well. I'd rather cook and prep several meals for the week, instead of blowing $20 on a single dinner, for example.

From the six-month seasonal job I will save roughly $7500-$8000. Added to the savings I already have, and we should have anywhere from $10-$12K in the bank, when all is said and done. I had twice that amount in 2019 saved from teaching English in China, but as happened to many of us, 2020 completely decimated my savings. I've been working on rebuilding that over the past year or so.

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Now for the real fun part of this plan. The life-changing part. I will be heading down to Mexico for a few months. Living cheaply in an economical Airbnb or monthly rental. After working the busy tourist season, I will definitely be ready for a good vacation. Looking forward to some quality time hanging out on the beaches. Soaking in the sun, swimming, and eating lots of tacos.

Also, planning to take surf lessons and work on improving my Spanish. But for the majority of the time, I will be putting full-time hours and effort into developing my projects and getting my business off the ground. It's a multi-tiered approach of writing, art, Youtube videos, and studying for the American Translators exam to become a certified translator of Spanish to English. I have been working on all of these things for quite some time. A continual process of chipping away, inching along, one small step at a time, and completing things. For the first time I'll be able to completely immerse myself in these projects, to get things done and turn out a lot of content.

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When working full-time, the main hours I have to develop my hobbies and passions, is of course on the weekends. I'm self-motivated and usually pretty disciplined, but it's difficult when during the week I don't always have the energy after a long and often stressful workday. To have several months of mostly free time to completely focus on my goals and develop my projects, will be absolutely amazing. I also plan to work part-time teaching English online to give myself a little more cushion and stability, while I work on the complete transition to self-employment.

One goal I have is to be able to start earning about $1000 per month. I see this as the minimum amount needed to continue this lifestyle. To afford the basics, pay rent, eat well, and a few small luxuries and treats. Once I hit this target, it will be full steam ahead as I continue to grow and build my business. It shouldn't be too difficult, with the online teaching providing most of the monthly income right away.

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Now it's always good to have a Plan B on the back burner, if the original idea doesn't work out quite as planned. Life can be unpredictable, unforeseen things happen, and we are back to the drawing board. Ideally my goal is to have 6 months to work on my projects. After 3 months or so, if I'm not gaining enough ground, I can always find another seasonal job. After you've gotten some experience working in seasonal jobs, in hotels, for tour companies, etc., it is pretty easy to get another short-term job, or return to a previous job. Usually all it takes is a simple phone call, and you are there again. That is great to know in these uncertain times, and to know the jobs are always there to fall back on. The ESL teaching world is similar in this regard, but the world of international work for the most part has not reopened due to Covid, and it's hard to say when it will.

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It has been exciting to envision the year ahead. Months of freedom and to really let loose on spending more time doing the things I enjoy and love. That was one important lesson many of us took from the pandemic and the lock downs. It's wonderful that we live in a time in which more than ever, opportunities to work remotely, and to be paid for creative work, exist and are possible.

For years I wracked my brains trying to think of how I could work for myself, fire my bosses, and quit the 9-5 world. It has been a long road, and many speed bumps and obstacles along the way. I definitely don't have all the answers, but am learning as I go and tweaking my plans as needed. Flexibility is always key. Watching YouTube videos about living the digital nomad life, and quitting the 9-5 job, have provided a lot of great info and inspiration.

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I feel strongly about the need to try living on my own terms. Have a go at it, get my projects off the ground, and see if they will take flight. It's time to take the leap. As the date of my freedom draws closer (mid-August) the excitement mounts, and more and more I feel a sense of relief. Looking forward to having more time each week to take care of myself, as I detox from the stress of a long stretch of customer service work. I will be working harder than ever, but doing the things I love doesn't really feel much like work. Excited about this new chapter, and look forward to documenting my journey here. I hope you will come along for the ride.

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