Written in Fall 2015.
What’s more raw then talking about money? This post is a really vulnerable one. I’ll be sharing a little snippet as to how we’ve been making this work out financially. Also, there’s a huge psychological component of being a Work At Home Dad: The terrifying experience of being in business for myself, an entrepreneur in a startup no less — and — the feeling that, I should be more by now! That the world has seen me as something respectable… that I might be my own best impostor.
Are We Ever Going To Make It?
My wife and I have always lived within our means. Financially, things were tough at first since I was getting a new grad salary as a Physical Therapist (which was quite severely low balled, as many new grad PTs are — also another post for another time). We were trying to start saving right away and were very careful about where we spent our money. Our working financial philosophy was basically this: If we don’t need it, we don’t buy it. Once it becomes a need, then we buy without reservation. We’re always looking for a good deal, buying generics, always calculating out price per unit, always figuring out the opportunity cost to make sure we’re not losing out or losing period… at least as best as we could figure at the time.
When I got my promotion as a Rehab Director, I got a raise just shy of 15% of my salary at the time. It was a BIG bump. We were really thankful and truly blessed. Funny enough, we didn’t actually spend more money on ourselves. While we did save more since we didn’t up our expenditures, what we ended up doing was giving more to charity and blessing others who weren’t as fortunate financially. We weren’t necessarily lavish or even liberal with our spending on others — we were just happy to do so and to be able to. We were given much, so we wanted to give to others.
Still, our discipline in spending on ourselves as well as saving regularly was ironclad. We were able to save a lot.
As time went by, finances got tougher and tougher, particularly when I finished the MBA program and all bets were off. I was back into this situation where I had to find work and find work fast; I couldn’t hide behind studies anymore and also didn’t have the savings to hang out. It was getting scary.
We thought about cashing out retirement funds (to which I’m still holding on the back burner), selling our home and living off of whatever is left.
Just as times got really tough, I would get just a little boost in private clientele or find per diem work, just enough to keep us on the path. I didn’t want to run back to full time physical therapy work since I felt called to pursue the startup business and continue on my journey of working at home. I also wanted to be sure that whatever I was doing was worthy of the sacrifice (not to mention price) of getting an MBA. Not that I felt the need to ditch PT per se; it was that I felt called to be a PT in a very different and pioneering dimension.
It was a deeply emotional and philosophical struggle to make ends meet while keeping to the purpose of doing what I was doing. I didn’t want to make running back with my tail between my legs as the ultimate defeat of all this sacrifice — quitting high paying jobs, pursuing the entrepreneurial spirit, and most importantly, being available for my family at home.
Well, we’re still here. And, we’re still kicking.
Month by month, it seemed we were just making enough to get by. Many times, it was by a razor thin margin. This month, I finished a 15 day super sprint to get enough income to sustain us… hopefully even into the New Year! Compared to the stability we had before, knowing with some confidence that the next month’s bills are likely to be covered is a strange revisitation of the old days of being a new grad, newly married, and all that jazz.
It’s made me more thankful; with certain humility, that what we have is never to be taken for granted.
I do want to take this time to thank some very special people. My family, for the unwavering support & for believing in me. My friends, for having more confidence in me than I sometimes have in myself. My martial arts family at The Rebellion Academy, where through training, they kept my morale up and my mind focused. I also have to give a major shout out to my partner at UpDoc Media, Dr. Gene Shirokobrod, for keeping me motivated in our work. He has always been the what and I have always been how. The more ideas, challenges, and initiatives he presents to me, the more I get to apply myself — with purpose. Hehe, aaaand this is quickly becoming a different post… so, I’ll wrap everything up by saying:
Are We Ever Going To Make It? Yes. Yes we are! Making Ends Meet, with all its glorious financial concerns, business failures, and freak out moments… “making it” is a question of perseverance. You may lose heart. You may even quit, especially quit on the ideas that seemed so awesome at the time and turned out to be totally moronic. However, you didn’t do one thing — you never gave up. You always kept going. And that, is why you’re going to make it. Whatever you do, don’t stop. You can change lanes, just don’t turn off your engine. Keep driving… keep driving.