I’m Escaping my Desk Job and Never Looking Back
by Joe Feldman
I have never been so galvanized to share anything about myself, let alone my finances. I tend to keep such nitty-gritty details tightly under wraps. But then I found The Billfold, and instantly, like a slap in the face, all that changed. I saw kindred spirits in what both Logan and Mike have been dealing with, and wanted to start sharing my own experiences with money.
So here I am: I was once Joe the Debt-Ridden, turned into Joe the Somewhat-Stable, and am now months away from pursuing my dream of becoming Joe the Actor. I knew this was my path all along, but never knew how I would get here, or if it was possible. How did it all change?
Good question. I found my calling, and it helped push me out of debt. As of a month ago, my net worth was in the tens of thousands and I’m only 25 years old.
But that’s the result, not the journey.
Three years ago, I was worth negative four thousand dollars, had no job, lived at my parents’ house, and wanted a dream I couldn’t afford to follow. Acting, whatever you may think of it, is not a lucrative business for 99 percent of us starving dreamers. I didn’t (and still don’t) care — for better or worse, the terms “logic” and “financial stability” had been drowned out by desire, but with no money, I had to have a plan.
I set goals I could work towards. I took the first job I could get as a client services rep, and gave myself three years to become a full-time actor. In May of 2009, I decided to be out of debt in 10 months and resolved to move out of my parents’ home as soon as I was in the black. I split my paychecks so that some of it went to my debt, some of it went to living expenses, and the rest to fund acting classes and working on any project I could get cast in. Life — that fickle thing — set traps for me. Three months in, I had to replace my 15-year-old car, taking out a $6,000 loan in the process. It took me 18 months to pay everything back.
I set habits I still follow today. I wire the same amount of money into my savings account, sometimes more, every month. I have a purpose for my two credit cards, one for “needs” and one for “shoulds”. I pay them off once every two weeks no matter the balance, even if I have to dip into my savings. I hold as true as I can to the “don’t buy what you don’t need” mantra, but when I fail at that, I use cash or debit to cover it. Sometimes, a man has to have his dark beers.
I still have fun. Since I’ve embarked on this journey, I’ve been to two weddings, a bachelor party, more weekend trips than I can count, and visited every major city on the East Coast.
I’m finally saying goodbye to corporate America, and I want to continue to share all the trials and tribulations of a person who is deciding to quit a steady desk job to chase a dream. Maybe some of the things I’ll go through will help one of you out there pursue your dreams, and if I need advice, I hope this community will come to my aid.
Let’s get this show on the road.
Joe Feldman juggles 3–10 jobs at any given time. He is an actor, writer, and business analyst. He finds life a constant source of entertainment, and shares his ensuing thoughts far more often than is good for him. Photo: Flickr/Rochelle