Money·5 min read

I Quit My Office Job and Nearly Doubled My Income

January 15, 2020

The Story

You have options when you aren’t happy at work. Getting a new job with better pay and more PTO is a good one.

Winning the lottery is even better.

Just think how bored you'd get. Pursuing a career you love can keep you fulfilled while the money rolls in. Take it from Emma Major. She didn’t expect to make millions straight outta college. But the $35k salary that came with her entry level marketing job didn’t come with much else. As in, 10 vacation days and a 401(k) plan with no match.

Related: Money Moves to Make at Work

Once she figured out she could turn her passion for travel planning into a freelance career and socked away $17,000 in savings, she went for it. 

Whoa. Where'd that $17k come from?

Living with Mom and Dad limited Emma's rent and utility costs. She set a strict budget, too. Think: less dinners out, no new clothes, and reasonable grocery lists. She also got creative about cutting back. Staying on her family's phone plan meant paying less than she would have on her own.

You could save more by building your own streaming bundle, adjusting the thermostat whenever you leave home or swiping a credit card that puts a lil something back in your pocket. So long as you pay your balance on time every month, the perks and rewards are like free money. And if your family prefers to keep finances separate, see if some (reliable) friends want to join forces on a phone plan instead.

Back to Emma. Did she just luck into a real money-maker?

Not exactly. Building up a client base takes time. In year one as a freelancer, Emma brought in $12,000 in commissions. And payday wasn't until 30 days after her clients got back from the trips she planned for them. 

Related: How to Budget with Inconsistent Income

Yikes. How'd she pay for stuff?

By finding marketing gigs on Upwork. And picking up transcriptions and babysitting hours wherever she could. All her other energy went into outreach. She asked friends if she could plan their honeymoons and family trips. Then friends of friends. And parents of friends.

All that hustle paid off. In her second year, Emma made almost $60,000 in commissions. Nearly double what she made at her first job. Oh, and she got to go on free and discounted trips all around the world.

Brb. Looking into freelancing.

Feel that. Just remember: if you go your own way, you'll have to handle some of the big stuff on your own. Health insurance can be tricky without HR. And paying taxes is all on you. Experts suggest freelancers put aside 25-30% of their earnings for Uncle Sam.

On the bright side, you can write off anything that’s necessary and ordinary to get sh*t done. Reducing your taxable income and shrinking your tax bill. For Emma, that’s client gifts, web hosting, creative tools, and printer ink. For you, it could be career-climbing classes or a seat at that swanky co-working space around the corner.

What about retirement?

Good Q. Emma has three different bank accounts: one for income, another for her business, and a third for savings. She tries to put at least $500 into savings every month. Some things on her goals list: grow her biz, get hitched, and retire with enough money to keep traveling. She's also working on rolling over her old 401(k) to an account she can open herself. Like an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), Solo 401(k), or SEP IRA. It's all about crunching the numbers and seeing which one's rules and benefits make the most sense.


Freelancing isn’t for everyone. But leaving corporate life gives you the flexibility to earn on your own terms. Pro tip: do your research and build a savings safety net first. And learn from other people who’ve made the jump. Watch Emma’s story and see if her tips could help you follow suit. 

Asking for a Friend videos highlight one woman's story. They do not necessarily reflect theSkimm's point of view.

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