Planning When to Quit the Day Job

9-5 Ball and Chain
Many webmasters dream of the day when they will be earning enough money from their sites to be able quit the 9 to 5 rat race. I took the plunge at the beginning of the year but it was after a fair amount of work and planning.

Leaving a guaranteed wage can be a scary time and does have an element of risk and if you have commitments like children and mortgages you do need to ensure that you have a plan in place to cover as many situations as possible.

When I first started the journey to quit the rat race I had two distinct goals. The first was the obvious one of building up a web portfolio in order to generate me an income. The next goal was probably more difficult and that was to have enough money in the bank to be able to survive off for two years if my websites went pear shaped.

I do have family commitments and am also the main wage earner in my family and I can’t stress enough the importance of having that financial safety net for me. I’d handed in my notice at the 9-5 job and was due to quit Jan 5th this year and then on New Years eve I lost all Google rankings and my earnings nose dived, if it wasn’t for my contingency fund I’d of had a bit of a disaster on my hands but as I had 2 years to sort it out it took a lot of the stress away. I’m please to say rankings did return but I’ll save that for a later post.

As well as saving for the big day I also reduced my monthly expenses, I did take things to extremes somewhat (I do that sometimes 🙂 ) but reductions included:

  • Selling expensive house down South and moving up North to much cheaper but only slightly smaller house (Goodbye big mortgage)
  • Moving closer to my daughters family (Goodbye childminder and babysitter fees, hello mother-in-law (not so good))
  • Cancelled my Sky subscription (at least this meant I didn’t have to watch Newcastle’s worst season in ages)
  • Bought a cheap car, the good old Ford Mondeo (Question: “If you’ve got 500K in the bank why do you drive a Mondeo”, Answer “That’s why I’ve got 500K in the bank”).


Nowadays the first thing I do when I pay myself is pay myself again and save 25% of what I earn. I’m still very frugal when it comes committing to regular monthly expenditure but not so much when it comes to splashing out and I have got Sky HD again now (shame Newcastle are still playing like circus tent full of clowns).

So if you’re aiming at quitting the day job don’t just think about what you are earning, think about what your spending and reduce it. Then again if you don’t have any dependants and commitments, just go for it (another nice boon of not having a day job is I’m currently sat in the park writing this on my phone 🙂 ).

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. I will be leaving mine on 1st May. 🙂 You are right about the fact its scary.

  2. Nice one Mad, so you’ll be Mad4May then, I kind of missed that thrill as I have been self employed for ages and building income online was more a slow burn for me, it would be scary and a bit of a buzz having a set date, yeehaa!

  3. Planning for the worse to happen is always the best. A friend of mine has a 2 - 3 year savings account in case of the worse or hard times. Nothing more sucks then spending every penny and then problems arising. I have seen other friends have this happen. They max out credit cards thinking all is good and then get made redundant :S

    Well done for forward thinking!!!

  4. A dot-com mogul without a sports car…awesome!

    I left 9 to 5 work as a 22 year old with minimal responsibilities/debt. I figured it was wise to take a risk while young. I have no desire for a high powered career and great riches anyway…

  5. I never thought of that.Great tips as always,thanks!

  6. I was much like Andy, i quit the day job at 23 to start my own business, little responsibilities and no dependants.

    Its been a learning curve but fun none the less.

  7. Al,
    I think you’re right on with this post! I’m working to build my online income to a level that matches my monthly salary. And I’m also counting on my car loan to be gone soon enough…

  8. Well, I guess everyone didn’t aware of the day you’re in hospital and without medicare insurance.

  9. Luckily for us UK folks we have the ‘free’ NHS…. Of course we don’t have earnings protection.

  10. Well Al does Ash ,he put past enough to survive for 2 years! crikey, my wife took me on a trip to Aberdeen yesterday and we managed to NOT buy the £500 sofa on special as intended and buy one for £1800, I’d hate to think how much I would have to save to survive for 2 years.

  11. Congrats Mad4 I’m really pleased for you, maybe now you’ll have time for that Notts meet up 🙂

    Thanks Matthew, I’m an optimistic kind of guy but I do always like to have a backup plan or three as well.

    Andy, I’m no mogul (don’t know what it means to be honest) but my Mondeo is a little bit faster than my old Rover :). Congrats for your smart choice at the younger age, it took me miles longer to make that step.

    Thanks Richie, after I wrote this post I was thinking I’m not really sharing a lot useful here so I love seeing comments like that.

    Congrats Ash for having the smarts 10 or so years before me 🙂

    Very Valid point Justin but like says in the UK we don’t have the problem as it’s already covered by the crazy amount of tax we pay.

  12. I went contracting (IT) just after the 2000 bug episode. I had a good two years and then the market just bombed. I didn’t have a great deal of capital behind me so went back to permie employment. I’ve got commitments so I had no option.

    If you can build up that 2 years cash while working / living at home then you’ll be off to a flyer.

    BTW… If you ever setup a meet give me a shout. I live in sunny Yorkshire so I’m pretty much right in the middle.

  13. Having the 2 year buffer is the best way to go if you have commitments IMO, it’s one thing making yourself eat beans on toast every night but quite another when you have a child to support.

    I’ve been meaning to do a Midlands/North meet-up, I organised a couple on London when I lived down South so doing a similar thing up here would be cool. I’ll add you to the list spondishy (nice site by the way).

  14. I move to Harrogate on Friday but will certainly be up for a Midlands meet up sometime.

  15. I am from the North and might be able to make the meet up. Just drop an email or a post about it and I will try re arrange the calendar to make it 🙂

  16. Great post/story Al - especially the down-to-earth aspect of it given how many outlandish claims there are out there. Love the mother-in-law humor! 😉

    BTW, you mentioned your web site got clobbered by Google on January 1st - how did it get sorted out?

  17. I was wondering the same Alek. I got hit by Google (or not hit) mid Jan although a 2 week business trip made it hard to post anything so I put it down to that. I am still recovering from it.

  18. I’ll start organising a meetup via the Digital Point forums, I’m also friendly with a few gadget store retaillers so I’ll see if any of them fancy it too.

    You’ve given me the theme for tomorrows post, thanks Alek.

  19. I handed in my notice in Sept 2005 and went freelance so I’m one step closer to that internet generated income I’m aiming for at some stage. Unfortunately I didn’t have any buffer money in the bank which is why I still do web development work and site maintenance to pay the bills. So far so good though, I just need to start generating that extra income so I can do more than just pay the bills and have a few beers at the weekend.

    I’m in Oldham, so if there is a meet up somewhere oop north then count me in.

  20. A very good post! I plan to quit my day job too, once I hit a 4 digit dollar income in Adsense.

  21. Congrats Garry, going freelance is a big step and definitely in the right direction.

    Good luck marhgil, hitting 4 digits in a month is a very nice feeling 🙂

  22. Great advice (pay yourself first).

    LOL I hope your mother-in-law doesn’t read this post. 🙂

  23. Old post I know but I’d be really interested to know your working lifestyle now. Do you work less / more. I’ve read that Lee at Earnersforum does a straight 9-5 day five days a week.

    • Old post, late reply 🙂 For me I probably do more hours now but on a very ad-hoc basis, I certainly don’t do a straight 9-5. I’ll be doing a post early on next year writing about my experiences in my first year without a job.

  24. Good post. I’ve started out on a road of trying to build and monitize websites that will hopefully provide me with a foundation to quit my day job. How long had you been building up your online portfolio before you were about to quit the day job? I’m finding it hard work juggling the day job, maintaining my sites, spending time with family, having sleep etc.

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