I spent 99% of my working career as an employee. I’ve worked summers at restaurants and summer camps, I was a bookseller at Barnes & Noble in college and then an administrative assistant, and I worked in operations for a small company after graduation.
Only in May of this year did I finally achieve a dream: I quit my job and started working for myself.
I had a few expectations of what self-employment would look like before I took the leap. I figured I’d be happier with more freedom and flexibility. I was excited to be the boss of my own time and work. And I was really looking forward to that whole work-from-wherever-you-want thing (which is still my favorite part of self-employment).
What I didn’t expect was to experience such a big shift in how I thought about money.
My Previous Perspective on Money
Before I started working for myself, I was highly frugal and willing to put a lot of time and effort into saving money any way I could. I didn’t believe anyone who told me that I’d “eventually start earning more” the longer I worked. Why on earth should I just assume I’d always get a raise or always move into a job that paid more than the last one?
In fact, what I did assume was that I’d never have money; that I’d never be able to afford the ability to both save for the future and enjoy experiences like travel today. Looking back, I was flat-out negative about finances and I felt like changing my financial situation was something out of my control.
The experience of building up my own business and becoming a solopreneur, however, made a significant impact on how I thought about money. Self-employment changed my perspective in 4 unexpected — but great — ways:
1. You Can Earn More
I realized that while you might not necessarily want to just assume an increase of income is always guaranteed, you do have the ability to earn more money in a variety of ways:
- Earn a raise at your current job.
- Work your way into a new position at your company.
- Switch jobs and take a higher-paying one.
- Start a side hustle on the side of your full-time job.
- Freelance or do consulting work.
- Start your own side business.
Obviously, I pursued the latter half of that list. But in doing so and really paying attention to how I could earn more money, I realized that there are several avenues to boosting income. No single option is the best for everyone, but we can all choose one or more of these paths to earn more.
The great thing about doing some amount of work for yourself, whether it’s part-time or full-time, is that you create the potential for unlimited earning. The harder you work and the more you put in, the more you’ll likely get out of it — and that means more money, too.
2. Frugality Is Only One Side of the Financial Success Equation
Before I was self-employed, I didn’t make much money working for other people. I saw frugality — and an emphasis on savings — as the only way to achieve financial success. I just wasn’t going to have enough money otherwise.
My perception has since changed. Yes, living frugally and saving money is critical. But it’s only one half of the equation. The other: earning more money.
Working for myself has allowed me to double the income I was making when I was working in someone else’s business. That really underlined that fact that earning more and saving more are powerful actions on the road to financial success when combined together.
3. Sometimes, Clipping Coupons Is a Waste of Time
Similarly, when I realized that frugality wasn’t the full solution, I also realized that spending a ton of time and effort on being frugal wasn’t always the best use of those resources. When I started thinking that I could always earn more money, it was clear that I could never earn more time.
I started trying to evaluate my actions to determine what cost-cutting methods were worth the time they required — and which were not. The hour it would take me to gather up coupons each week to save $5 was clearly not worth it, as I value my time at a far higher rate than five bucks.
My perception changed and lead me to put more value on my time than on my nickels and dimes. I’m now willing to spend a little extra cash if it means freeing up a little extra of my even more precious time.
4. Spending Money Isn’t (Always) a Bad Thing
When I started my business, I was all about bootstrapping it. The thought of spending hundreds of dollars on anything scared me to death, and I doggedly spent months doing everything myself.
I still tend to want to do everything myself, but being full-time self-employed quickly taught me that it’s just not possible if you want to scale and grow a business. I slowly learned to ask — and pay for — help and actually invest money into quality products and services that would better serve me as a solopreneur.
I also started thinking of things in terms of value instead of just cost. I was willing to spend a little more on something, or an experience, if I felt the value I would receive was greater than the money invested.
Self-employment really changed my perspective on money by helping me evolve from a negative money mindset to a positive one. I now feel confident in my ability to earn and make more money, and I better understand how to use my finances as a tool to increase both my happiness and overall wealth.
Track All Your Accounts With Personal CapitalPersonal Capital lets you see all of your accounts in one convenient place. Sign up now for free.
What kind of perspective do you have on money? Have you ever gone through an experience that unexpectedly changed how you think about finances?