Find Your Dream Job: Love A Job That Makes Less Income

by The Smarter Wallet on May 10, 2010

I was perusing the Internet today when I saw an interesting clip on Yahoo about a guy that had managed to ditch his $500,000 per year job. Of course I clicked on it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know about the guy who traded in his half million dollar annual paycheck and what he traded it for? Here’s what I found out.

dream job

Pursuing One’s Passion

Gary Buslik graduated college with a degree in English…a subject he loved dearly, but unless he was going to be the next Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, it was a degree with few opportunities outside teaching. Apparently, his parents were concerned about the same thing. Not to worry, though. Gary was smart enough to apply himself in another direction and was able to create an extremely successful alarm company that averaged $6 million in annual sales and netted him a very nice salary. But, he simply wasn’t satisfied.

It wasn’t about the money, as he proved in 1997, when he sold his business for the measly sum of several million dollars 😉 . It was the job itself. This guy just really loved English and literature. You could say he had a thing for it. Eventually, he got a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois and landed a part time teaching gig there, which he supplements by writing a few books on the side.

But what about his salary, you ask? He took a $486,000 a year pay cut to do what he loves and has never looked back. Wonder how he did it? Let’s take a peek.

  • He sold his company. In hindsight, it would seem that he was pretty smart to sell his company quickly. If he had held out, he might have missed the boat due to the tanking economic climate. He took the first offer that appealed to him. When it comes to timing sales like this, luck has got a lot to do with this, in my opinion.
  • He invested the proceeds from the sale. Instead of doing what most of us would do (read: *spend it*), Gary took the money he made from the sale of his business, paid off all his debt and invested the rest in low risk I bonds. These bonds are all but guaranteed to earn money as they are indexed for inflation.
  • He didn’t touch the money. While it might be tempting for Gary to take his money out of his investments to use for a big purchase — say to buy a new car — he instead leaves it alone. (By the way, Gary is still driving a 1986 Mercedes Benz). By only withdrawing the amount of money he needs to use in order to supplement his meager income, he has assured himself a secure financial future and the ability to continue doing what he loves.

Find Your Dream Job: Love A Job That Makes Less Income

Of course, most of us don’t have a multimillion dollar company at our disposal to sacrifice in order to pursue our dreams, but there are many other lessons we can take from Gary’s story, which we can put to good use in our own lives.

  • Always spend less than you earn. It is extremely important to understand the difference between needs and wants and to put money away for a rainy day. It’s important to stash funds somewhere reputable, say in top-notch high yield savings accounts. Of course, this will mean that you have to forgo a few luxuries, but when you know you could survive for an indefinite period of time on much less than you are making now, then it certainly provides peace of mind. Make a family budget and stick to it (check out our YNAB review for a great home budgeting tool that can help)!
  • Don’t be afraid of investing. The truth is, the stock market scares the crud out of many people, but this is usually the case when you don’t understand how it works. And to be honest, investing goes beyond just rolling the dice at the NYSE. Open an account with an online broker and talk to a financial advisor who can help you invest your savings in a way that will make your money work for you.
  • Stay out of debt. If there is any one vital step you can take when it comes to securing your financial future, it’s to get out of debt and to stay out of debt.

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