How I Make a Living Without a 9-to-5 Job

What does it mean to be financially independent? To me, it’s having the resources to deal with life’s ups and downs, to have passive income to sustain our current lifestyle and to have enough to pay for our expenses without working a full-time job.

Our personal financial journey

It’s common advice to save a percentage of our income and to invest for our future to reach financial independence. I felt like I was blindly following this advice without having a goal in mind or the path I wanted to take to get there.

For me, I had to paint a picture of what financial independence looked like for me and my husband. 

Making a living as a minimalist

I’m 30 years old, married, we don’t have kids yet, and we live in a very expensive state in the United States. We just paid off our student loans and have no other consumer debt except for our two mortgages.

We both decided we’d take care of our parents as soon as they retire. I made a decision two years ago that changed my life and put me closer to the financial path I wanted to take. Here is my story.

One of the questions I get asked the most is "what do you do for a living?" I thought it might be helpful to share my journey towards financial independence and how I'm able to live in Maui and afford this house and lifestyle without working a traditional 9 to 5 job.

If you’re on a similar path, hopefully, my story can be helpful to you.

Teaching online in Hawaii

My first job in Hawaii

I moved to Hawaii from California about six years ago with just a couple thousand dollars from my previous teaching job. I had never visited Hawaii before and had no idea what to expect. I never researched the job market.

But it was my new home with my husband. I looked for any kind of job that was right for me. I finally landed a dream job at a non-profit agency, I met many important connections, and my job was to develop a curriculum to teach personal finance and real estate to low-income families. I fell in love with the job.

Fast forward to today, and I’m still with the company, but I decided to reduce my hours to part-time as a contractor and work remotely. This happened before 2020, but it allowed me to teach virtually. 

Buying a condo

How we bought our first condo

We bought a condo in 2018. We saved about 15 percent as a downpayment. We took some from 401K retirement savings and from our monthly savings.

At the same time, we were getting married. We asked friends and family to contribute money instead of gifts if they could. My husband works full time and with our long employment history, we were able to get mortgages.

Having the rental as a supplementary income helped me feel it was okay to step down to part-time. 

How we paid down the condo

I loved this condo from the first time I saw it, but it was still a fixer-upper. During this time, my husband and I educated ourselves about real estate investing. We learned how to house hack, or how to generate income from your home.

We decided to build equity in the condo so we could use it to buy another property. We reduced our expenses, and stopped eating out and traveling. We saved the money so we could pay down the principal balance on the condo.

Within a year of owning the condo, we built up equity by paying down the principal. We pulled equity from this condo as a downpayment for the house we currently live in. 

Choosing a rental property

Choosing our current property

We wanted a property with a cottage on it so we could house hack and have some rental income coming in. We talked to every agent, went to open houses, and found a fixer-upper that had the perfect layout for what we wanted.

What’s house hacking?

What’s house hacking?

House hacking is when you live in one of the multiple units of your investment and have renters in the other units to help you pay for the housing expenses.

We live upstairs in our three-bedroom house. We rent out the downstairs and we rent out the cottage we have out back. We also rent out our first condo.

Saving money with DIY renovations

Saving money with DIY renovations

We saved money by doing most of the renovations ourselves. I manage the properties.

If there are any problems with plumbing, electrical, neighbors, or anything, I am the point of contact. I clean the vacancies, I list and stage them, and sign the leases. We love our tenants and hope for low turnover.  

How I make a living as a minimalist

Making a living without a 9-to-5 job

Income from YouTube

My third source of income is YouTube. There are multiple streams of income from YouTube, such as AdSense, sponsorships, affiliate links, and other programs.

There’s a lot of uncertainty going down this path, but it is working out as one of my primary sources of income.

I love YouTube because it takes me about 40 hours to make a video, but I love having the flexibility of doing it when I can. I’m a night owl and it’s a luxury to be able to work in the evenings.

Making a living without a 9-to-5 job

It took a lot more work than just living as a minimalist or having the right mindset to get us to this point. Minimalism and mindset help, but a combination of the right timing, the right opportunities, working hard, support, and pure luck all help me to live this amazing lifestyle that I’m so grateful for.

I hope I was able to give you insight into how to make things happen in your life, too. Let me know in the comments what it means to you to be financially independent and what your goals and path look like for you.

Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • Sally Sally on Jun 26, 2023

    What she has going for her is drive, intelligence, talent, and the willingness to work and sacrifice.

  • Kathy Kathy on Jun 27, 2023

    I bought 2 family house for my son to live in as NY rents r terrible. He was there 3 years and i decided to use as an income property. Owned it for 13 years and it was a money pit and the tenants were like children. It was always something. No matter who rented they were a problem. Just one thing on top of another. In 2022 I sold that albatross and was best thing ever. Most rental stories are like mine, rarely do i hear ones like this. Never ever again!!!!