IRL: How to Prepare to Leave your Job: Budgeting for Financial Independence

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For the past few months, I’ve expressed disdain about my current occupation to anyone with an ear willing to listen. I definitely sounded like a CD on repeat. It got so bad that I begin blaming everyone (coworkers) for my unhappiness. I became the total victim and many of my friends validated those feelings by allowing me to not take accountability. I honestly believe that they understood my pain and just wanted to share some much-wanted sympathy at my pity party.

True fact—I don’t believe in pity parties but here I was having cake and ice cream.

After a few more unfortunate circumstances which included severing a relationship with a good friend, almost filing for divorce and witnessing my cousin nearly die at the age of 16 due to gun violence, I decided enough was enough. I made the decision to leave my job but in doing so I would have to be financially independent.

It was time for Operation GTFOH!

I knew that my days were numbered at my job, which is on most days is a huge contributory to my anxiety, so I devised a plan. *Rubs hands together like an evil genius. Planning is what Virgos do best.

I started with a plan to financial independence.

Being financially free was a key component that impacted my ability to leave and unbothered. A few years ago, I managed to save $25,000 in one year and decided to channel that energy; only more aggressively.

I started with a budget. Now those who know me well, know that I’m not a person that budgets well because I’m simply not a big spender. Annually, I’ll treat myself to something French but on a day to day basis I’m very frugal.

In the budget, I wrote down all the expenses I incurred on a monthly basis. I then compared this number to my actual bank and credit card statements. My goal was to see how much I could cut and move to savings.

Things were not congruent. I had been spending money from my checking account unknowingly to the point where I was literally wasting about $300 a pay period. In my case, that was about $600 a month. YIKES!

To remedy that foolishness, I put myself on a cash allowance.


Each pay period I would take out a lump sum of money somewhere in the neighborhood of $180-240 (the ATM only gives you 20s). This money was used for lunch, Kingston’s toys, coffee and cupcakes, and other petty purchases. All other costs were put on autopay with my credit card and that balance was paid off at the end of the month. I was astonished at how much money I had left over.

I then started saving more aggressively because I needed to hit my financial goal before September 2019. I was well on my way! I checked my high yield savings account (which is online because it takes more steps for transactions and I’m lazy) and I was within 70% of my goal.

Just when I was about to celebrate, I needed new tires ($600), property taxes were due ($3,500), auto insurance that I forgot about was due ($1,000) and other "life" things. I was a bit defeated but then I realized something vital.

While I was budgeting for about 4-6 months of living expenses, I wasn’t budgeting for emergencies and as we know—they always come at the most inopportune time. I also didn’t spend much time thinking about future expenses like vehicle maintenance or an increased electric bill during the hot Houston summer (the AC stays on until November). Also, a few holidays will fall within the time that I leave my job. I needed to plan for that.

I reworked the budget to be more realistic which would include a separate line for savings and emergency savings. I also found a few more savvy strategies to make Operation GTFOH a success.

  • My Chase Freedom card was running a promotion with grocery retailer that included 5% cash back. I put all of my grocery purchases on that card. I also started purchasing gas from those grocery stores as well. So far, I’ve accumulated $50—free money! I cash out at the end of the year and use the money for Christmas presents.

  • I started being more serious about meal planning (to save money). I’m not at the point where I do meal prep on Sundays but I do have a weeks’ worth of groceries and I forecast what I will eat a day ahead. This has significantly reduced my visits to restaurants.

  • I stopped paying a sitter (when possible) and instead I barter childcare services.

  • I switched to braids. Braids are easy to maintain and can last for a while with proper care. This has saved me money on hair products, hairstyles, and root touch-ups to cover the grays. I have so many grays!

  • I cut out all subscription services. It was so hard to say goodbye to Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix but it was for the best. I now just other people accounts (when they take pity on me).

What cost-saving measures have you put in place for your Operation GTFOH? Are you a serious budget queen? Comment below then download your free printable.

Love + Light

Ar’Sheil Monsanto