The concept of trading time for money was one that was drilled into me for as long as I can remember. I can’t say exactly when the realization dawned on me that one didn’t have to live like that. I can say that my thoughts on the matter of NOT trading time for money weren’t exactly positive. Thoughts ran through my head, like, “I don’t have enough capital to set myself up like that. I need to have a constant income coming in, I can’t just wait around doing work “for free,” waiting for the payment. What if I get paid a big chunk of money but then run out before I get the next chunk? How does someone even live like that? It’s so uncertain.”
I didn’t know what I didn’t know
I think back then I knew that actors lived like that- they would work a movie, and get paid a huge sum, but would have to book another movie for their next check. Or they would get royalties for ads that ran over and over. That sounded nice, but I didn’t want to be an actor. I saw representations of men in suits, living in swank mansions and driving awesome cars- they must have some kind of nice money coming in that they don’t have to work for- I was never exactly sure what it might be that they did, but I was always sure that it could never be me.
I always identified myself as an artist, or a writer. Someone who would always be working for a living. I didn’t know the first thing about saving, budgeting, or investing. My parents didn’t either. They were both white collar workers, trading time for money. My dad was a pharmacist at a hospital, working 9 to 5. My mom was a teacher. She got paid throughout the summer, so she could get paid more by picking up more work teaching summer school, but I would still call it trading time for money. My dad went to art school, but art was always just a hobby for him. I believed his story, that artists could never make “real” money.
What is “Real” money anyway?
In an attempt to try to make some “real” money, I went into $140,000 of student loan debt to get a job as a physical therapist. I idealized the profession, caught up in the hype of the prestige of becoming a “doctor.” I was excited to help people, and I knew that PT’s make a pretty good salary. I was also kind of following in my father’s footsteps, seeking his approval- going into the healthcare profession despite feeling a calling towards the creative arts. His story, that artists could never make money, rang true, deep in my heart.
Is it worth it?
It wasn’t until several years after graduation that I opened my eyes to new possibilities. I found myself depressed over working long hours, many of them unpaid, as I was only paid for hours I spent with patients. There were hours of documentation to do every week, and insurance companies were constantly looking for ways to pay us less. It was overwhelming to think of the amount of student loan debt I still had, years after graduation. How to get out of this mess?
I started looking into other ways to make money. It wasn’t a popular term at the time, but I was looking for side hustles. I started doing home health. This was a way for me to pick up a few extra hours of work. I still traded time for money, but hey, at least it was more money. I tried an MLM, Young Living Essential Oils. MLMs are all about passive income. I thought they would be a good complement to my holistic approach to physical therapy. The oils were great, but I couldn’t bring in enough people in my “down-line” to make it worth it. I tried start a cash pay private practice, so I could get paid more for my hours, and found I hated marketing. I tried and I tried, but I kept getting stuck.
A new path
So now I’m trying something else. I’ve opened my mind to a new way to make money. As a financial coach, I’ll help people learn to organize and manage their debt just like I did. I’ll help them feel the power I felt when I finally saw where all my money goes every month, and when I realized I could actually depend on this money and use it to make plans for a better future. What’s better, is I won’t be trading time for money. I’ll be investing time in the beginning as I learn and grow this business. And I’ll spend time meeting with clients. But I won’t be limited to trading time for money. I plan to start various revenue streams, from one-to-one meetings, to group coaching, courses and books.
It’s all an experiment
What makes this different from all the other experiments I’ve tried? I really feel the passion and power this time, and I can see the future. I’ve enjoyed putting work into this and am looking forward to what’s coming. I’m confident in my abilities to recognize my strengths and weaknesses and pivot when something isn’t working.
The key to finding this new path was in the lessons I learned from looking for something to do where I wouldn’t be trading time for money. I finally figured out that I would never be able to prosper in a system that forced me to be paid by the hour. I had to overcome the mental blocks I had against the concept of not getting paid by the hour. Then I focused on finding something that fit that requirement. I can’t say I’ve accomplished it yet, but I feel confident enough to say that I can do it. Stay tuned for updates all year long!
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What do you think about trading time for money? Is it worth it? Have you come up with a solution that gets you off the rat-race track? Leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear what you think.