Our BREAK FREE Story

February 4, 2013 — 20 Comments
Seychelles Beach (La Digue)

One of the beautiful beaches on La Digue, Seychelles where we visited on our honeymoon in 2009.

Let me start by saying I was incredibly impressed with the insight left in the comments sections of the last post, “What’s your BREAK FREE story“.  I’m honored to have such brilliant people reading my blog and continue to learn a ton from everybody.  It’s amazing to see what some have already accomplished and what others are on their way to accomplishing.

In fact, we may not be embarking on our BREAK FREE adventure in a little over a month if not from the encouragement of everyone who contributes to this site.  So, thank you!

Last month I announced we’re taking a Round the World (RTW) trip.  We’re incredibly excited and consider it to be part of our BREAK FREE plan.  To summarize, my wife’s contract was up at her job, and I asked for an unpaid leave from my corporate job – which was granted.  We’re selling our house in New Orleans along with about half of our furniture inside.  Starting in March, we’re taking off to explore the world for 9 months.

It was such an easy decision and we’ve had no issues with doing it.  Money really is no object when you find what you love… Just Kidding!  If you threw the BS flag here, you’re correct… it wasn’t easy at all.  I’m going to summarize in timeframes… otherwise, I’ll be all over the place.

9 years ago (2004)

I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Finance and headed to Dallas to start my career as a Consultant working for Accenture.  Within a year, I bought a new car and managed to bring my total consumer debt up over $50,000!  I was awesome.  Actually I sucked so far at post-college life, but one thing I did have going for me was the girl who I had been dating for a few months.

7 years ago (2006)

I had my breaking point and wondered why the hell I felt like I was working just to pay off my debt.  I had a great job but the only thing to show for it was a huge pile of debt!  Something snapped in me, and I started my journey of paying off debt.  In two years, I managed to pay off my entire $50,000 of debt.  Luckily, the girl decided to stay with me through it.

4 years ago (2009)

The amazing girl said “Yes” when I asked her to marry me.  I learned to use my job as a tool and was making good money.  However, I felt something was missing.  I wasn’t helping other people like I wanted, and I wasn’t fulfilled by work.   Over the previous two years since I paid off my debt, I began reading many books and starting to discover what I wanted to do in life.

Luckily, we entered our marriage debt free and were both adept at saving money when we combined our finances.  We moved to New Orleans for my wife’s job and bought a fixer-upper house.

1 year ago (2012)

We finished our full remodel of our house and were both gainfully employed.  We fell in love with New Orleans, our neighborhood, and our friendsOn the Street in Rome here.  However, we knew we had a tough decision to make as we would have to decide what to do when my wife’s contract was up in October of 2012.

Her employer asked her to stay, but we have both always had this crazy idea of traveling the world.  We knew kids would come into the picture soon, and we sure wouldn’t get to do our crazy traveling when that happened.  Would we really want to give up everything we’ve worked so hard for just to go travel?  Would we fall behind financially and how the heck would we pay for it?  We had doubts, lots of doubts.

6 months ago (end of 2012)

We were still struggling big time with making our decision.  We were incredibly satisfied with our lives and felt dumb for even thinking about leaving it.  But something still pushed us on.  We had experienced some tough life events that planted things in our head; we only live once.

We talked.  A lot.  We made spreadsheets to objectively weigh the benefits of staying vs. leaving.  The spreadsheets didn’t make it any easier!  We received a ton of encouragement from friends and family as well as people on this blog.  We believed the regret of not doing it would be worse than any financial outcome of doing it.  We decided to do it.

Now

We still question why we’d leave our house, our neighborhood, our town, and our friends but we know we can always come back.  This is our time and things have worked out really well that have encouraged us this is the right decision.  It’s never easy and we’ll never be 100% certain, but at least we’re comfortable with it now.  We prepared ourselves financially over the last five years so that’s made it easier.

My BREAK FREE story

My wife has her own BREAK FREE story, as do I.  However, both our stories involve each other so that’s encouraging for me!  I’ll only speak to my BREAK FREE story which relates to my career.

I’ve always loved helping people, but I lost my way in the corporate world after college and I was focused more on money than helping.  However, in the last few years I’ve rediscovered my way through the blog and have started to map out my future.  After we get back from our trip in January 2014, I’ll continue working full time at my corporate job (which I appreciate very much) while I continue to build out BREAK FREE.

In a couple of years, this will be my full time thing.  I want to continue helping people pursue their passion while dominating money and work.  It’s only through being smart with both of these that we can set ourselves up to succeed doing what we love.  In addition to making money off the blog, I want to start a physical presence by building a challenge course to teach leadership and help others BREAK FREE.  I hope to continue to build the curriculum and help individuals as well as companies get to their end goals through activities and speaking engagements.

Our travels are a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I also want to use the time wisely to continue to build all of this out.  Now that I’ve told you the plan, I have to stick to it!  Thanks again for participating in this journey, and I look forward to hearing more about your journey.  As I mentioned last week, I want to hear your BREAK FREE story and will start highlighting other’s stories on this blog.  So let me know if you’re interested!

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20 responses to Our BREAK FREE Story

  1. I am SOOO impressed with your story and your passion to truly break free. You inspire me to press on the find what make me happy and to stay the course. I am so excited for you and for the adventures that await you.

    • Thanks so much Susan! You’ve shown us it’s possible to pursue what you love after leaving your corporate job, so that’s helped me rationalize what we’re doing :).

  2. Dan, you are a great example for others to follow and how exciting your year ahead will be. I am sure you will lots of fun and adventures.

  3. Keep fighting the good fight. (I hate feeling like a cheerleader but it seems appropriate here). Never give up, never surrender (bonus points if you can name the movie).

  4. Very impressive story. Your debt was only $50,000. After we bought our little condominium. our debt was above $200,000. With our strategic planning and not carrying credit card debts, the current debt is just a little higher than $100,000. Thanks for the great financial planner, we happened to meet with. He really inspired us to pay off with good strategies. He also showed that, in Canadian situation, there are certain things that can be done without starving yourself.
    Right now, we are at the downside financially, because of my husband’s work place is cutting the salary. That means, I am really feeling the pain of not having enough. But, I am so stubborn that I will cut the spending and will not welcome debt.
    Your blog posts are really encouraging me to stick with the plan

    • You guys have done great to get half of it paid off already, and I’m sure your management of the budget will continue to pay off (even in these down times). I know you’ll keep working on the income side too and soon something great will come up…

  5. Enjoy your trip Dan. You both deserve it. I’ll look forward to reading some interesting blog posts from you. 🙂

  6. Travel certainly is addictive. It will be interesting to see how a long trip compares to the shorter trips that most of us are accustomed. The happiest days of my life were when I split my year between working in Yellowstone and Everglades National Park. In between each tourist season, I had a month off on either end, to simply wander and get lost. There’s nothing better than that feeling if you ask me… breaking free 🙂

    • Jeri – that had to be such an incredible experience working between Yellowstone and the Everglades… I’d definitely like to do that if we can finagle it when we get back!

  7. Dan – I wish I knew years ago what you already know. I am one of your biggest fans. You have helped me see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to keep walking toward it. Have a wonderful time on your trip. Savor every moment and then share it with us – love living vicariously through other people’s travels. 🙂 You are going to do great things with this blog and I am glad to be along for the journey.

  8. Dan — Bon voyage! A young woman who worked me and her husband made the same decision as you and your wife. They decided to travel the world for a year. They saved their money and decided to defer children. They came back and put down roots in San Francisco, but decided they had one more long trip in them. They alternated traveling overseas and traveling the U.S. They’ve subsequently had two children but what adventures they had! Look forward to hearing about yours in your blog posts.

  9. If it means anything, I think you are doing the right thing. There is sooo much to learn by getting out in the world, it is the best thing you can do for broadening your horizons. Who knows where this road will lead, but how exciting is it???

  10. Truly inspiring story from one who have proved how to break free with the available resources. With, right planning, one can Break Free for the rest of the years.

  11. That’s so awesome! And I’m so excited for you. Even a little jealous. Definitely soak in every second of it, even the challenging ones, because you are really living a dream come true.

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