Tuesday, July 20, 2021

My Exciting Announcement and 3 Takeaways

Over the past few weeks, and most recently in my July 2021 Dividend Stock Watch List piece, astute readers may have noticed references to The Motley Fool. That's because just over a month ago, my first piece was published by TMF on whether UnitedHealth Group's (UNH) dividend was as safe following its dividend increase as it was leading up to that dividend increase.

It wasn't long after my first article was published with TMF that I had an epiphany, which was that I could make as much money from TMF as an equity analyst/writer, if not more than I was making at my day job while also finding more meaning and fulfillment in my work.

It was with this in mind that I spent the next few weeks after my day job each day working toward brainstorming the types of content that I could pump out at TMF to blossom into an essentially full-time endeavor when combined with my Seeking Alpha content as well.

The end result was that I ended up putting in my 2 week notice at my employer on June 28th and recently completed my last day in the corporate world as an employee in the traditional sense on Friday, July 9th (I can't rule out an eventual return to the corporate world, so I'll qualify that with "at least for the foreseeable future").

Based on the fact that freelancing contributed $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2020 and that it is estimated that the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027, my decision was inevitable in my opinion, especially after having enjoy working remotely most of 2020 and part of this year.

Image Source: Pexels

The First Takeaway: Life Is Too Short Not to Live on Your Terms

While there are varying viewpoints on where we go after passing away at the conclusion of our time on Earth, there is a general consensus among those of differing religious beliefs that this is the one and only life we have here on this Earth.

Because none of us know when we will draw our last breath, it can be argued that we should live our lives more in the present and not get caught up in how others perceive us or the way we live our lives.

While I didn't mind the individuals that I worked with/for and most of my job responsibilities, I have known for a while that I didn't want to be an employee forever.

Don't get me wrong; it's great to have a predictable paycheck and solid benefits that often go along with a day job. 

If I could sum up my decision in one word, it would likely be "autonomy." 

While I now have a great deal of responsibility in managing my workload and providing for myself, the upside is that I have the freedom to choose when I work and the nature of my work. In reclaiming a sense of autonomy for the first time arguably since before I attended the public school system, I'm also likely not giving up anything on the financial end with my career decision.

When factoring in my loss of benefits (worth about $160/month between my 3% employer contribution retirement match, dental, and vision insurance), drastically reduced transportation spending to the tune of roughly $100/month, my day job net income of roughly $2,200/month, and the employer portion of the self-employment taxes (net of the SE deduction) that also go along with being a freelancer, I only need to write 23 articles a month or essentially 1 a day, Monday-Friday at TMF to break even financially.

In even just a slightly optimistic scenario, I could end up making more money doing something that I enjoy with a greater degree of freedom than what I had at my day job.

Even in a pessimistic scenario, I end up making what I was making before or slightly less with more autonomy, which is something that is hard to put a price on.

The Second Takeaway: People Respond to Those Chasing Their Dreams

While many that have disclosed the pursuit of their dreams have been greeted with hostility from others in the past, that fortunately wasn't my experience when I handed my resignation letter to my employer.

Although they obviously didn't want to see me leave, they were happy for me and overwhelmingly supportive of my decision.

Perhaps that's because they have known for a couple years of my Seeking Alpha side hustle and my overall ambition to achieve FI.

At any rate, I'm glad to have spent the first 4 years of my career at my prior workplace as it was as supportive and welcoming environment that any young college grad could hope for from an employer.

The Third Takeaway: Dividend Investing and Frugality Allowed My Entrepreneurial Mindset to Take Root

In many ways, it is very difficult for most people to take a so called "leap of faith" and go from a steady paycheck as an employee to a more variable income as a freelancer or their own "boss."

Because I am fortunate enough to live with my parents and I possess frugal tendencies that come to me naturally, I didn't find it that difficult to put in my notice and transition from an employee to a freelancer.

After all, my average monthly expenses are merely $800-$900, which sets a pretty low bar for me to clear while also continuing to build my dividend stock portfolio.

The second piece of the puzzle, however, is just as important.

While I have a long ways to go before my net dividend income is able to fully cover my expenses, I have been blessed to make a tremendous amount of progress in my nearly 4 years of investing.

As of my writing on July 17th, 2021, my average monthly net dividend income of $153 covers 15-20% of my expenses off the bat.

While I don't envision the need to dip into my net dividend income to cover my expenses and I intend to reinvest that capital as well as $1,000-$2,000+/month in dividend stocks, it's reassuring to know that a nice portion of my expenses are already covered, further lowering the bar for me to make this a viable career move.  

Concluding Thoughts:

I'm very grateful to have been blessed with an interest in dividend growth investing (and financial markets in general) and FI. Without my interest in these particular topics, I'm not sure whether I would have had the financial confidence to freelance as a career in order to live life on my terms.

I look forward to producing content here on the blog on a weekly basis, Seeking Alpha on a weekly basis, and TMF on a regular basis!


What are your thoughts on freelancing?

Are you a freelancer?

If so, are you a part-time freelancer with a day job or is freelancing your career as is now the case for myself?


  1. Hi Kody - That is some exciting news. Given that it sounds like you built a great relationship with your employer, did you consider asking to go part-time and/or remote while you ramped up your writing? That would save you time and money as you continue to establish yourself as a freelancer. Just a thought and best of luck with everything!

  2. Thanks for the support and commenting! We never really discussed going part-time for the reason that my employer basically knew that I wanted to do this full-time at some point and had been working toward it for the past few years.

  3. Kody,

    Congrats on making that leap. The best time to do that is when you're young and have little responsibilities and draws on your income. If I could go back in time I'd try to make the jump earlier but the transition now would be quite difficult with my family relying on my income. I'll keep working towards it though and writing on Seeking Alpha as well. Out of curiosity does TMF pay considerably more than SA? And have you thought of the marketplace services on SA as another option? I've considered it but don't know if I have enough available time to commit to it as I would like. All the best in the new endeavor.

  4. PIP,

    Thanks for the kind words! For the typical author on SA that doesn't have a huge following, I think the pay at TMF is much better. The bigger authors at SA seem to skew the average earnings of an article quite a bit as my articles have averaged about $80 year to date compared to the $120 average. Admittedly, I don't always write about stocks that get tons of page views, so that probably plays into it too.

    TMF's pay for a published article (typically 500 to 1,000 words) is $140, which takes me about 4 hours from start to finish. The time commitment overall is about the same as SA per article for quite a bit more pay in my case.

    I have contemplated a MP service on SA in the past, but have never went that far beyond contemplation due to other commitments. Maybe at some point I'd consider a service, but I'd really prefer more of a partnership with someone to split a workload and offer more of a comprehensive service.