Leaving My Job: Q & A

Posted by Madison on November 1, 2008

All my life I’ve been a saver. Always with the intent to save enough so that I have the freedom in my life to do what I want. And for the last year, I’ve had an incredible time sharing all the tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.


Long time readers will remember back in February when I asked Should I Stay Home or Go Back to Work? I was at the end of my maternity leave and just couldn’t imagine going back to work.

My husband and I discussed it at length, and decided that we weren’t ready to be a one-income family, especially since I made more money than my husband. In Stay Home or Go Back to Work: The Results I talked about some of my thoughts on making it work financially.

Planning to Leave My Job

Once I was back at my job, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I sat down in front of my spreadsheets each night and tried to figure out if I could make it work. In addition, my company severly cut the future of our pension plan. I was short of my original goal that I picked to leave my job.

Although, once I took a closer look, I realized that I would be saving much more in taxes than I had originally considered if I made withdrawals from my Roth IRA first, which would not have the tax burden that withdrawing from after-tax investments would.

Leaving My Job

I Quit! and discussed how I was going to replace my cash flow.

The article that summed up all my ideas and thoughts was 29 Steps I Took to Leave the Workforce at Age 29, my all-time favorite article!

Follow Your Dreams

During that time, I spent a lot of time reevaluating what is important to me. My kids are the love of my life and I desperately wanted to spend more time with them. In addition, I have my own hobbies and passions, one of them being personal finance, as you have no doubt seen here, that I wanted to spend more time on.

With a corporate job, my goals in life weren’t aligned with where my time was spent. I decided to follow my heart and focus on the things that I love doing. Stepping out of the rat race to pursue my own interests and spend more time with my children was the best decision that I ever made.

Yahoo Interview

I got a call from Laura Rowley who writes a column at Yahoo Finance. She wanted to interview me for her Money and Happiness column. I was flattered and I thought it would be the perfect fit since me quitting my job was all about following my dreams and finding happiness. We spent an hour and a half on the phone and I really enjoyed the conversation.

Q & A

However, as with any interview, there are some things I’d like to clarify. Many of them have been mentioned here before in various places, but based on the questions, I thought having them all in one place would be helpful.

Am I a stay at home mom? Absolutely! I just happen to be a stay-at-home mom who replaces her lost income with portfolio withdrawals instead of having my husband’s salary pay for everything.

Do I live off my husband? I still contribute to our family cash flow in the same amount that I did before I quit my job; in fact I still continue to bring in more money than my husband does. We share all our money, but we are not fully supported by my husband’s income.

Do I earn income from this website? Yes. I’ve always been upfront that there is advertising here. I’m incredibly fortunate that my hobby also brings in money.

Am I working part-time? Absolutely. I love this website and sharing the financial things that I have learned along the way, but it does take time and effort. After all, I’m 29 and not doing anything productive with my new free time would be pathetic. Although, as soon as it stops being fun, I won’t do it.

Do I tell people that I’m retired? No. And here at My Dollar Plan, I commonly use the terms left the rat race/left the corporate world/quit my job/semi-retired/problogger/stay-at-home-mom/took a leave of absence to reflect the whole picture of what I’m doing.

Although this does raise the question of what retirement really means at any age — can one spouse retire before the other? Can you have a part-time job in retirement?

What is my opinion on the title of the Yahoo article? To be perfectly honest, I was probably just as shocked as you were with the title. I probably would have selected something more like ‘quiting your job to follow your dreams’ or ‘leaving the rat race at 29’ which I think is a better reflection of what my goals were and consistent with what was discussed in the interview.

What message should people take away from the interview? It’s about following your dreams and finding happiness and balance in your life. What enabled me to do that was aggressive savings from an early age. Just keep your head down and keep saving!

Did we receive an inheritance? No.

How much did we make off the sale of the condo? About $110,000.

How much did we save? We saved very aggressively and routinely saved between 50% and 75% of our combined income. If you save a lot, then you also learn to live on less, having the need to replace less down the road.

Why don’t I discuss how much I have? The original readers of My Dollar Plan were my friends and family. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I started the site. Because it’s not completely anonymous, especially after I added my picture, my husband and I agreed that there were certain things that were off-limits to discuss. One of those is our kids, another is our net worth. Let’s not forget that I am human and have a life outside the internet.

When did I leave my job? Mid-September.

Do I depend on credit card arbitrage to fund my lifestyle? No! It’s just a fun game that I play…. again part of my personal finance hobby.

Would I feel comfortable for Scott and I to both quit our jobs right now? No! When I said that him quitting was the original plan, it was for him to quit first, then me. He took 3 months off and decided to go back; he realized that he did not share my goals of leaving the workforce really early.

While we still have the other half of our portfolio available for him (to make 2% withdrawals), we have too much time left to settle on an overall withdrawal rate that I would feel comfortable with. In addition, we’re planning more kids, and the cost of maternity benefits on the health plans that we checked out doesn’t make sense. Sure we might be able to make it happen in the short-term, but there is way more risk than I am comfortable with!


Speaking of risks, there are plenty! I’m fully aware of them, which is one reason that we put some back-up plans in order (like me officially taking of leave of absence from my job to make sure this is the right thing.)

  • Kids. That’s a big one for us, how many and how much we’ll spend on them.
  • The length of time in the market. I’m young and have a long way to go.
  • Changes in our wants and desires.
  • Health care. This is probably everyone’s biggest risk. I have no intention on getting private health insurance at least until we are done having kids.

Action Plan

Whatever it is that I’m doing, however you want to label it, it’s been the best six weeks of my life. I’ve made savings, investing, and personal finance a huge part of my life for a long time and it paid off. My time is spent based on my priorities in life, something that I wish for each and every one of you… whatever path you take to achieve it.

In addition, because of the interview, I’ve received many emails from all of you sharing your stories. It’s amazing to find so many other people who share the same thoughts and goals that I have. I’m glad we found each other and look forward to continuing our personal finance journey together!

Update: Laura posted a follow-up to the interview at her Money & Happiness site where she adds additional information, including that the title was written by the editors, not her.

Update 2: We asked Laura that the interview at Yahoo be removed. Unfortunately, the discussion turned negative and the focus shifted from personal finance to personal attacks and harassment, which isn’t what My Dollar Plan is about. It will not be tolerated here in the comments, either. Now let’s get back to personal finance!

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Comments to Leaving My Job: Q & A

  1. Great Q&A, Madison! Keep up the good work. 🙂


  2. Too bad Laura Rowley’s article about you was such poor journalism. Folks disappointed with her writing incorrectly took it out on you.

    At least it will bring a lot of eyeballs to your site. It did mine.

    Good luck!


  3. It was actual that article which turned me to your blog. He he, either way, great way to spread your success. I enjoy many of your articles.

    I mentioned your I quit article on my recently started blog.


  4. I left my job after my second son was born. At first I felt like I had wasted my education. It was the best decision every made. My youngest son will be 14 next week and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Good for you finding happiness and living your dreams.

    Amber C

  5. I have been following your blog for awhile and find it entertaining, educational and thought provoking. My requirements for a blog I like to keep up with.
    Please keep up the good work.
    Most of the naysayers are probably negative, argumentative people that complain instead of becoming educated or enjoying other peoples point of view.
    Isn’t it great that all these people are free to voice their opinions without repercussions as in some other countries? (I follow a China blog that the blogger has to be very careful what she posts)


  6. Hi Madison
    I’ve always thought of you as a great example of what you can do if you have your head screwed on financially at a very young age.
    Keep up the good work 🙂

    Laura @ no more spending

  7. It was fun to read both articles. I just wanted to say I disagree with her about costs going up when your kids start going to school. First of all, it’s all a choice. You do not have to sign up kids for a dozen different activities, nor ones that cost a lot of money. (In addition, as some have pointed out elsewhere, it’s often the same costs as diapers or day care.) Our intention is to not be chauffeur, and allow our daughter to be in at most 2 activities at a time–one physical (like sports) and one art/cultural/etc (like scouting, piano lessons, or 4H). The only activity I was in as a kid that cost money was piano lessons. Oh, and Odyssey of the Mind, which was one a few months of the year and only had an entrance fee, not regular expenses. So it can be done. And certainly plenty of families making less than $50,000 a year have kids in all sorts of activities!


  8. Hi Madison,

    I would like to email you privately, is there a way that I can?

    Please reply back.



  9. The concept and discipline is admirable. A noble choice versus how most Americans manage their money. I applaud the accomplishment, but you can’t say you have retired at 29 if your spouse still works and you still have income. Could you actually live comfortably for the rest of your life, including health insurance, on your plan without your spouse working? That would be the real test.


  10. Hi!

    Very very interesting!

    I am wondering if it is too late for us. My husband and I are in our mid-fifties with two kids in university but I am hoping it is not too late to learn prudent ways. I must admit I find some of the terminology in the article makes my head swim and need the terms defining. For instance, what on earth is ‘credit card arbitrage’ and do some of the financial pathways for one’s money mentioned translate into the Canadian fiscal systems available. I’d love to know more but could only take ‘baby steps’ as it seems a bit overwhelming and difficult to get a handle on given that I am not naturally ‘savvy’ with money except in managing to get good deals when we do acquire ‘stuff’. We have a good income and my husband says that theoretically we should save much more and I would like to try to do that wondering if your knowledge will help.

    Kind regards,



  11. When I read about the Yahoo article, it inspired to finally put my own retirement plan on digital paper. I had been thinking about it since February when I read a Money Magazine article about a couple in the military both retiring early.

    This Friday, I wrote up a five part series to run this week. One of those parts echos the “Risks” section you have here almost verbatim. I didn’t steal it, I swear :-).

    Lazy Man and Money

  12. I wouldn’t call it “retirement” because my wife stays home with the kids, and she is hardly “retired.” What a bogus article.

    Lost Cause

  13. Why would they title your the yahoo article as “29 year old retiree” I just don’t get it


  14. Hi, I also found your blog after reading the yahoo article. I think it’s great that you can do what you’re doing. Just wanted to respectfully disagree with you about “not doing anything productive with my new free time would be pathetic”. I am a stay-at-home-mom myself and I don’t “earn” an income but I don’t think it’s pathetic that I’m taking care of our kids, our home, our finances, my husband and other things with my “free time”. I’m sure you’d agree just being a mother and wife are full-time jobs. Even if you decided to quit blogging and just focus on those two things, it wouldn’t be pathetic.



  15. I completely agree that the more you save at a young age the better off you are and closer to retirement…for example I decided to live frugally after university once I bought my first home in order to have it paid off as soon as possible so that I can live morgage free for the rest of my life…now I’m only three years away and then everything I used to put in to a morgage will get banked as well as my current savings plan contributions.

    Dave McBride

  16. @ Linda: Oh my goodness! I owe you an apology! I was referring to my free time when my kids are with their nanny or at preschool. I completely agree that being a mom and wife are a full-time job. I should clarify that it would be pathetic if I spent my free-time shopping for hours on end or sitting in front of the tv instead of pursuing a hobby I enjoy or spending time with my kids. You are absolutely right, if I quit writing and got rid of our nanny, it would not be pathetic one bit!


  17. Madison, I can’t believe how rude people can be. There are nearly 1000 comments at the Yahoo article now, I’m not going through to find the one that insinuated you are staying at home and sucking off your husband’s income. That’s just ridiculous and shows how some people regard parenting, the MOST important job in the world. I think one of the biggest reasons our society is so messed up is because we stopped parenting our own children back in the 70s, leaving it up to babysitters and schoolteachers. I was in the first generation of latchkey kids but was able to be raised by my own mother until I was six years old. Anyway, even if you weren’t drawing down from your portfolio, and were bringing in nothing, the “job” of being a mother is very important and worth thousands a year! I think it’s so great you are able to be home with your babies!

    Mrs. Accountability

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