How To Become Financially Stable and Keep The Job You Love

One phrase I often hear is “Michelle, you’re just lucky. Your story doesn’t really apply to anyone else.” Someone even tweeted me yesterday and told me that while they liked my story, that it’s just not realistic. I even had a friend tell me the other day that she hated her job and she felt like…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 5, 2023

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Find out how to become financially stable and keep the job you love.One phrase I often hear is “Michelle, you’re just lucky. Your story doesn’t really apply to anyone else.”

Someone even tweeted me yesterday and told me that while they liked my story, that it’s just not realistic.

I even had a friend tell me the other day that she hated her job and she felt like she was having a quarter life crisis. She didn’t know what to do next – leave her stable, but stressful job, or finally pursue something she wanted to do?

One of my top tips for anyone who wants to pursue a job they want is to work towards being more financially stable.

It makes the whole process easier because you won’t have to stress about money (as much) and you can focus on other things in life. Being financially stable can make getting or keeping your dream job more possible for many people.

First, lets not confuse what I’m talking about.

The job you want to pursue doesn’t necessarily have to be your “passion” or dream job. The job you are wanting can just be something that allows you to lead a less stressful life and do what YOU want to do outside of work. That could be spending more time with family, traveling, and so on.

Not everyone wants to combine their passion and their careers, and that is completely fine.

However, I don’t think anyone should ever completely hate their lives and their jobs. There are ways around that, and if you are spending a fourth of your life at your job then I think you should at least somewhat enjoy it.


It won’t always be easy.

I say this all the time, but great things in life don’t come easy.

A goal wouldn’t be much of a goal if you could reach it with no real effort.

Before I was able to leave my day job, I was working like crazy. I worked full-time jobs while also having a full course load in high school, undergraduate school, and graduate school. It was tough, but well worth it in the end.

You might have to work long hours in the beginning, take on side jobs (more on that below), sacrifice your social life, and more. However, it’s all about that end goal!

Related article: How I’m a Work-Life Balancing Master.


Cut your budget.

If you don’t have a budget, then you need to start one now.

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the job you hate to pursue one you want, then you might want to see if there is anything in your budget you can cut. You can even go a little crazy and create a “bare-bones” budget where you cut everything you can so that you can reach your dream life a little more quickly.

Related article: 6 Ways To Be More Frugal and Save Thousands.


Pay off your debt.

Many people say that they don’t feel comfortable leaving their “stable” job because they have debt. Well, pay it off then!

I know that’s easier said then done, but you can always start paying it off now. Create an action plan, pay off that debt, and live a debt free life sooner rather than later.


You need an emergency fund.

I am a big believer in a well-funded emergency fund. We have a large emergency fund and we always have. The peace of mind it gives is well worth it.

An emergency fund helps me feel more confident in my business because I know that if one large expense pops up, or if I have a bad business month, then I can fall back on my emergency fund without feeling like I need to give up on my dream life.

If an expense pops up, you don’t want to stress about how you are going to pay for it. You also don’t want to put a large unexpected expense on your credit card that you can’t pay for because that will just lead to debt and interest charges you can’t afford either.


Pursue income on the side.

In some cases, you may need to pursue additional income in order to live the life you want to live. This might mean starting a part-time job, creating a side hustle, or adding passive income to your income stream.

I pursued side income for many years, and it helped me pay off my debt quickly so that I could leave the job I did not like and pursue my business full-time. It was hard in the beginning, but it all paid off and I would say that it’s one of the best things I have ever done.

Related page: Extra Income.


Have insurance.

Okay, this might sound like an advertisement, but I promise it is not. Having insurance (such as for your car or home), can help you lead a more stable life.

Too many people enter rougher times and eliminate their insurance policies. This can be a disaster because when you finally need to use that insurance, you may no longer have it.

I remember hearing about families who skipped out on paying their annual fire department bill (in some cities you have to pay this separately), and when their homes caught on fire, the fire department saved the people in their homes, but let the animals and the home burn down. Whether or not you agree with that, it has happened in the past, and it can happen again. It’s best to be insured.


What are you doing to become financially stable?

Do you have the job you want? Why or why not?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I resigned my previous job without thinking twice. I thought I ‘d made the wrong move, but it turned out to be the best move I ever did bec. when I was at home jobless, that’s the time when I realized my potentials and my dream. Right now, even thought I am not financially stable, I know for a fact that I am on the path towards my dream where both financial stability and contentment are.

  2. This is really sound advice! It makes me sad when I see friends caught in the cycle of disliking their jobs and so spending tons of money on things to make themselves feel better (clothes, cars, restaurants) and then realizing they need to keep working so they can keep buying, ad infinitum. For me, the biggest thing we’re doing to reach financial independence (in addition to saving a lot) is investing. Hooray for compounding interest!

    1. Yay compounding interest!

  3. I definitely have the job I want but it’s only because I put my mind to it and made it happen. If I hadn’t, I would likely still be in the stressful job that consumed most of my life for 6 years.

    1. Same here. I don’t see how this could be “luck” haha!

  4. Christa@ObjectWealth

    I feel really lucky to absolutely love my job. I am a pharmacist and even though it was a lot of work to get there, I am loving what I do. My only regret is that it cost more than $200,000 in student loans to get there. I am working on getting my finances in order though. Eventually, I will get those student loans paid off. That will be a really good day.

    And, like you said, I am creating my side hustle with my blog. I just made my first (little) bit of money through Amazon affiliate! I am going to keep hustling and hopefully really grow the blog.

    1. Good job on making your first bit through your blog. I’m sure it will grow quickly from there!

  5. Thank you so much for not just rolling over and saying, “I really am lucky and I realize not many other people can get to my same situation.” It seems like a lot of people back down when facing twitter comments that challenge their way of life.

    1. Thanks William ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Virginia

    My issue is that I have a great job that I LOVE and but is pretty high demand (mental health counselor: I have a full time job and a small side hustle in the field), and makes a pretty small amount. I don’t want to leave it, but I also don’t want to live on just-above-poverty income my whole life. It takes a lot of time and so side hustle options are somewhat limited–I can’t be a good counselor and be totally frazzed. I’m thinking of moving towards having my own business unrelated to counseling while still practicing one or two days a week, as a hobby that makes a bit of money. But step one on that path is to pay down debt! Good tips!

    1. Thanks Virginia! I hope you find a healthy balance ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually have a few friends who are mental health counselors so I know where you are coming from.

  7. I’m sure you will do great Glen ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Excellent post, Michelle. I think the point is that having your dream life is attainable, but it may not be attainable today. This list you gave is a great plan to get started in creating your dream life. I’m sure you didn’t wake up one day and have everything you wanted; it took time and planning. Right now, I’m focused on paying off my student loan debt so I can pursue a financial planning career, which will give me more time for family and travel and also fill my days with helping people understand and plan their financial futures.

    1. Thanks! Sounds like you have a great plan as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Alicia

    I HATE my job. Like full on hate. Makes me absolutely unhappy every Sunday when I know I have to go to work on Monday. It’s messing with my stress levels and I am trying to fix it. But I’m in debt and I don’t have the luxury to just up and quit. So I’m paying down my debt and getting my finances in order so I can jump when I have an opportunity.

    1. It all starts with a plan. I hope you reach it sooner rather than later ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Thank you Kassandra!

  11. Yes, it is very sad!

  12. I like my job and can’t see myself doing any other job. However, it is still a JOB. It’s something I HAVE to do to make a living and that is why I’m working on finding different ways to earn money so I DON’T HAVE to work for money anymore. Like I said, I like my job but I don’t like having to wake up every single morning to make it here on time.

    1. Good luck with your plan! What are you currently doing to make extra money?

      1. Thank you. Well, I started a blog (not making that much money now, but hopefully it will pick up), started a couple of websites (also not making much money… yet) and I’m working on an eBook. We’ll see how that goes.

        1. Wow sounds like you have a lot going on. Good job! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Thanks Thomas! I’m sure your money making efforts will be well worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Erin @ Journey to Saving

    Having enough in savings was what did it for me. I would have never been able to decide to give freelancing a go if I hadn’t had my emergency fund in place. Money gives you choices, you just have to take advantage of it by doing what you outlined in the post! Get a handle on your debt and budget, and you’ll be in a better place.

    1. Yes, an emergency fund is what really helped me feel more comfortable making the leap. I don’t know what I would have done without it.

  15. I totally agree on this- not everyone has to leave one job for a “dream” job, but you still need to not do something you HATE. If someone is at a job that sucks because they’re in debt, you need to light a fire under your butt, pay it down and then leave. You’re not serving anyone by staying in debt, hating your job, and probably using your debt to fund things you don’t need to cope with it.

    When I was at a job I hated, I started to lose my spark. I’d watch more tv (meaning less side hustle energy to earn more money), eat poorly, drink more and spend more…. I just wanted to cope. When I left, it was like I got my life back and it positively impacted all areas of my life, I wasn’t coping, I was living!

    Great article… it IS realistic. You don’t have to do start your own business but you owe it to yourself to at least leave a job you hate…every person is responsible for their own happiness!

    1. Thank you so much Shannyn! Having a job you absolutely hate can lead to other areas of your life going downhill. It’s always best to find an exit plan and change your life around.

  16. Great point about your passion and your career. They can be seperate but your career should be enjoyable.

  17. I don’t think your story applies to other people because other people don’t have your work ethic! You’ve outlined how eliminating debt, becoming your own boss and amassing a hefty e-fund can all be done at a young age, but the bigger message is that you worked your tush off. So many folks (and at times myself included) want to just come out and watch TV and do nothing. I can’t image you really let a single moment go to waste while you were paying down debt and hustling to build your own business. Plus, not everyone wants to be their own boss, so it’s about finding your own priorities. All I know is that I have tons of admiration for you and what you’ve built!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I’m the type of person who likes to rush through things, but thankfully I’m taking life somewhat slower now ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Great post this is essentially a nice manifesto on becoming completely financially stable. I’m all for people finding a job that makes them happy but it needs to be realistic in a way. Because I love basketball and love making money, I think I would be very happy if I was a player in the NB., But that will most likely not happen. But if I can find a job that keeps me happy with a good standard of living while allowing me to play basketball for fun, that’s something I would look for.

    1. Thanks Syed! Haha playing basketball for a living would be fun ๐Ÿ™‚ What do you do for a living currently?

      1. I’m an optometrist. Which is great, but not as fun as playing basketball ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Haha yeah not the same ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Yes, getting started is a great motivator!

  20. Hi Michelle, actually, I didn’t expect that working online would be the best job for me. I was working as a personal secretary and I think that was the best, until I found out that I wasn’t happy after all.

    1. Are you happy now? ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I think my job is right for me right now. Does that make sense? I’m only a few months in and still on a huge learning curve going from one part of our business to another, as well as from finance to accounting, but I think it’s hard to know whether a job is right for at least 6-12 months. But I think you give some great practical advice here. I think forcing yourself to pursue something on the side first is a good way to judge whether you ever really want to pursue that thing full-time. There are plenty of careers that pay well – trust me, I work with people who are making much more at a career job than most small business owners I know. But anyway it’s an individual choice everyone has to make.

    1. Sounds like you are doing well DC! Good job!

  22. You know, I hear similar comments. Choosing to live on less than we make and save to create an emergency fund allowed my husband and I to make a number of career decisions that have paid off nicely. But looking at us people don’t see the choices (that we still make today) to work extra and live smaller — they just see the end result.

    Congratulations on your choices to prepare for the long term!

    1. Thank you Jean! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Melissa @ Sunburnt Saver

    I’m not really trying to pay off debt any faster, but I am trying to shore up my emergency savings and pick up extra income. I would LOVE to have a better work/life balance, but I know I have to be patient! Btw, for what it’s worth, I think your story is realistic and I would LOVE to be your protege if you ever start a mentoring business ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thanks Melissa! I have been thinking about expanding my mentoring business. I haven’t made it public yet (I mainly just mentor St. Louis small business blogs), but I do offer it to anyone who emails me, just so you know ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Melissa @ Sunburnt Saver

        I must work up the courage to come up with thoughtful questions and not waste your time, then! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, Michelle!

        1. Haha welcome Melissa!

  24. i hate cutting my budget but alas its a necessity

    1. You can do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. I’m not gonna say there is NO luck in life, but to attribute ALL success to luck is crazy. Just another way people deflect personal responsibility and allow themselves to feel victim to their circumstances. The only reason I’m becoming a successful writer is because my original career path, acting, was so freaking hard and unlucky. Gotta always be looking for opportunities to create luck.

    1. I love everything you just said Stefanie. Yes, there is luck, but not all success is attributed to it. Sounds like you are doing well even though your original career path was unlucky. Your blog is one of my favorites! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Amy

    I’m working to pay off (a lot of) debt, which will make a huge difference in my family’s financial stability.

    I think we’re so lucky that the definition of work has expanded so much, and we can find creative ways to balance it with our lives more. This is especially important for parents, since working from home, working for yourself, job-sharing, and other tools make it possible for both parents to find a way to work.

    1. Good job on working to pay off that debt! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. This is good advice to prepare for before anyone can make the leap into self-employment. Finding that one thing, which you can do on the side that makes you money, is the enigma that we all need to solve.

  28. I do think you are fortunate, Michelle, but I also know you created your good fortune through your incredible work ethic. I’m of the belief that if you truly want something, you’ll figure out a way to overcome all those obstacles. A lot of people get stuck in rut and someone succeeding where they cannot scares them. Love your steps, especially having an emergency fund and insurance. I have never met anyone who lived an emergency-free life. Things always happen and sometimes all at once. And I love how healthy yours is because it frees you to focus on finding new clients when have a bad month, rather than worrying about paying your mortgage.

    1. Thank you Shannon ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Starting is the hardest part, for a lot of people, I think. I know it is for me. I have a million and one ideas, but actually executing them is the tricky part!
    Your point about insurance is key, and for Americans, having a plan in place for health insurance, too. That is, if your plan is to become self employed, or to resign without a new job on the way.

    1. Yes, insurance is very important! I have been going through all of our insurance policies this week to make sure everything is correct.

  30. I am looking to get a full time job again so that I can eliminate my debt. I’m currently working two jobs and I’m not making enough money to actively attack this debt.

    1. I hope you find the perfect full-time job. Good luck!

  31. Right now we’re saving towards possibly buying a second place (we’d rent our current condo and us it as an investment property). We’re also saving for retirement and thinking about the future (when we’ll get married, have kids etc.). When we do have kids, staying at home is a priority for me. I also want to start my own business and I think that will be a great time to take the plunge and try working for myself. Traditional 9-5 jobs will always be there if I don’t like working for myself or can’t make it work.

    1. Sounds like you have some plans there ๐Ÿ™‚ Good job!

  32. Thanks Dan! It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s all stuff I love to do ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. There are some really great points in here, and my favorite is your mentioning of not being miserable. There is no monetary amount that can buy me a life of misery!

  34. Sing it, Michelle!!! I get so sick and tired of people saying that your situation is “not realistic”. It’s not realistic for those who don’t want to put in the time and the effort, but it absolutely is for those WILLING to work at it like you did to get where you’re at. Having been freelancing officially for a bit over a year now, I can absolutely see how your income is achievable, especially when one works their tail off like you do. GREAT job, my friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you so much Laurie! I’m tired of it too. The things I hear are ridiculous! It is possible, and there are many people out there who are doing great as well in the self-employment world.

      Thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Veronica Lee

    I hated my job as a computer programmer. I became a SAHM and now love earning some pocket money online.

  36. Kathy

    I love this post and the ideas about financial stability. “I quit my job now what” is the website where you can find dream career path you love.