We’re Officially Self-Employed


We promised we’d share more on what prompted our move back west (other than being closer to family), and the time has finally come for us to spill the beans. As of June of this year, we dove headfirst into the wide, wild, and unchartered world of self-employment. To be clear, this wasn’t a quick, rash, sudden, or spontaneous decision. We’ve been talking about this almost daily for years, ever since Sally was just a few months old, actually. But we hit a crossroads while living in New York that helped us make the leap. Johnny chose to stop the work he was doing out there, which gave us two decisions: find a new, full-time gig with a new company or finally give full-time self-employment a go. It really wasn’t much of a decision since we’d been waiting for this opportunity for so long, so self-employment it was.

We took a look at the money we’d saved up for a someday downpayment on a home and turned it into our “self-employment runway” fund. We budgeted out two scenarios: one where we broke our contract in NYC and moved back west and another where we stayed in NYC until November and then moved west. Luckily, the first scenario worked out, which saved us several thousand dollars.

I’m not gonna lie, we had some stressful weeks after making our big decision to call it quits on working for the man. Johnny immediately ramped up his freelance work and left our tiny apartment each day to go work at a nearby Whole Foods, which had free wi-fi and a makeshift workspace in its dining area. It wasn’t ideal, but he did it, day in and day out. Meanwhile, I took care of our newborn and two-year-old and hounded the realtor in charge of selling our contract. This meant showing the apartment to interested renters when she was unavailable, keeping our space clean every.single.day., and leaving with the girls and walking around our neighborhood anytime someone came to look at our place.

It was a hassle, but a very necessary one in order to maximize the chances of selling our contract. When we found out someone had started the process of signing a lease on our place, we were overjoyed. But that meant planning our own move west — finding a house to rent in Utah, packing up all of our belongings, and moving ourselves over 2,000 miles. In short, it was a super stressful couple of months. And none of that takes into account the stress of becoming self-employed, which invokes a whole other roller coaster of emotions. So let’s dive into some of the dirty details of that…

“Self-employment” is such a vague term that can mean any number of things. And for us, it means a few different things. To keep it simple, I’ve told family and friends that Johnny’s taking a year off to try his own thing. And that’s true. We’ve given ourselves a year to make this work (and in just a moment I’ll define what “making it work” means to us). But first, here’s what “trying our own thing” actually looks like on paper.


Currently, the bulk of our self-employment income is coming in the form of Johnny consulting with both old and new clients. He’s able to do it on a part-time basis and still have time for our other side gigs.


We make a steady side-income from OFB in the form of freelance writing and money generated from our site. We have plans to do more to expand the business aspect of OFB, but most of those ideas are still waiting in the wings until we have a bit more capacity than we have now.

Side Business

We also have a side business that’s been in the works for the past few months and that we’ll be starting in the coming weeks. It’s completely unrelated to anything we’ve tried in the past, but we’re excited to give it a go and share more soon.

Moving forward these next few months, we hope to find what works and what doesn’t and focus all our energy on what does. As I mentioned, we’ve given ourselves a year to figure it out. By that point, we’d like to have a reliable revenue stream that we can depend on to cover all of our expenses. So far, we’ve been able to do that already, but not in a way that’s as stable as we’d like.

We’re under no impression that this will be an easy or quick process. We’ve both had stress-filled moments when we’ve wanted to throw in the towel and go back to a more traditional way of making money. And a year from now, we may decide a traditional job is what we’d prefer Johnny to go back to doing. But self-employment is something we’ve wanted to try for a while, and we’d be kicking ourselves if we didn’t give it all we’ve got at least once.

So if you’re ever wondering what we’re up to when we’re not writing new posts, this is it. The next year is going to be filled with long hours and other sacrifices of our time (and sanity), but we hope it will all be worth it. It’s already proving to be challenging with two kids in tow, so we’re weighing our options on getting some help with them during the day, at least for the next few months. We’ll keep you updated on how it’s going as soon as we know how it’s going :). Wish us luck. If you have any thoughts, questions, or high fives, send ’em our way via the comments below!

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  • Reply Elle September 22, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Congrats on making the leap! (Hope Johnny got Tess’ book at FINCON 😉 )

    Being self-employed definitely has its ups and downs, but for us it was the best choice. Besides the personal appeal, we ran the numbers a few times to make sure running my business and watching the girls was doable.

    I get to do work I love and have more time with our girls. That said – getting sitters for those crunch times is a necessity.

    BTW we’re in the middle of selling our place so I understand the hassle of getting a place ready EVERYDAY when you have two kids!

    Best wishes on this new chapter 😀

  • Reply Sarah September 22, 2015 at 8:34 am

    WOO-HOO!!! Congratulations!!!! I am so happy to read this post. I went to FinCon and was 100% bit by the freelancing/blogging bug, again. Only this time I have MUCH bigger goals. I also have two little girls (ages 3 and 2) and was working from home freelancing until two months ago. Now, I work FT but get to work from home two days a week, and I’ve been freelancing on the side still. My goal is pretty big – but it’s to earn enough money so my husband can quit his job (I’m not sure if he will, but the option would be incredible). He was also self-employed until two months ago. It totally has it’s pros and cons, but us being employed FT allowed us to buy a house a few weeks ago. Now, it’s all about the hustle and creating the life that we want!!

    Best wishes to you both!! I’m so happy to be following along and can’t wait to see what this new business of yours is 🙂

    Also – daycare was a LIFESAVER for us!! I’m able to get a lot more done and my girls just thrive in that environment. I highly recommend giving it a go 🙂 We started with three mornings a week before I got a regular job and even that was a lifesaver!!

  • Reply Ali @ Anything You Want September 22, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Congrats! Looking forward to reading about how you plan to grow you blog and also your new endeavor.

  • Reply Money Beagle September 22, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Good luck to you. Sounds like you have a lot of motivation and have gone through and worked things out before making the jump. I look forward to hearing how things go and the lessons you’ll surely learn along the way.

  • Reply Megan September 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Huge props and good luck to you guys! Can’t wait to see how it all goes down. As a family who have dreams of reaching a similar goal, it’s inspiring (if not scary) to see the honest side of things. Thank you for sharing, it’s truly appreciated!

  • Reply Jen C. September 22, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Suddenly, this post (http://www.ourfreakingbudget.com/is-working-full-time-a-terrible-investment/) has a whole new meaning! Congratulations to you both! It takes a huge amount of courage and planning to get where you are today. I pray for TONS of success for you!

  • Reply Suzanne September 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Congratulations!! Very happy for you both, the very best of wishes to you in this new endeavour. No doubt its a scary but exciting time…nothing ventured, nothing gained! Go for it!! Keep us posted!! 🙂

  • Reply Emily @ evolvingPF September 22, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Congratulations! It sounds like you are really diversifying your income through these different endeavors. You are so smart to give your self a year of runway. I jumped into self-employment in April, saying that I would decide in 3 months if it was viable and I would continue, but I realize now that was not nearly enough time. I think I’ll end up with a year as well before deciding to continue or find a job.

  • Reply Mark@BareBudgetGuy September 23, 2015 at 6:55 am

    It was so awesome to meet Johnny in the flesh! Very cool that he made the leap and you moved back out west. You guys are my heroes.

  • Reply Stacie September 23, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Can you share what type of freelance work you guys do (besides the blog)??

    • Reply Johnny December 27, 2015 at 2:27 am

      So outside of the blog, I do freelance writing. Some of it is longer-form (articles and blog posts for other sites/publications) and some of it shorter-form copywriting (headlines, taglines, brand names, etc.). I also do some creative consulting (advertising, marketing, product help) with former employers and clients. Joanna does a little bit of freelance copyediting here and there. And that makes up the bulk of our extra freelance work.

  • Reply Love September 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Hooray! Congratulations to you both! I’m self-employed (LOVING it, though my income is really only supplemental to our family — we have a soon to be 2 year old son, and another little boy on the way) and my hubby is still working for “the man,” but he dreams of having his own office in our home. This gives us hope for the future! Life isn’t easy, but the rewards of working for yourself are, in my humble opinion, quite extremely worth it. Big Hugs and CHEERS!

  • Reply Becca September 24, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Congrats! My self-employed thoughts are still in baby form, but hoping to gain some maturity over the next year! Enjoy the adventure!

  • Reply Candice Marie October 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Congrats! Glad I had the chance to run into Johnny on the bus on the way to the airport. I really love your site and how open and honest you two are. It will be a new journey with ups and downs, but nothing you can’t over come. I’m still in the 9-5 world, but maybe one day I will join you. Love the idea of giving yourself a year to work on your own.

  • Reply Melanie December 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    This is exciting! I’m catching up on posts and hope it’s going well so far! Excited to see where it takes you.

    • Reply Joanna December 27, 2015 at 1:49 am

      Thank you, Melanie!

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