Taking the Plunge: Everything Happens for a Reason

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Taking the Plunge

I shared a few weeks back that our business more than doubled in size and income during 2013. In fact, when I started working on taxes for the year I noticed something beyond awesome – the amount we made during the final quarter or so (typically a slower time for us) was only a few thousand dollars shy of what we made during ALL of 2012!

To say that I was pleased is putting it lightly. I’m excited because I know the growth is not a fluke. When I examined our growth more closely, I saw that it rose with each quarter. With everything looking up at the start of this new year, I’m excited to see what the future has in store for this little business of ours.

For those of you newer to Frugal Rules who may no have not read much from my Taking the Plunge series, you can check out some of the posts below:


Running Your Own Business is Not All Puppies and Lollipops


I had envisioned for years running my own business and being my own boss. I don’t know if it was because I despised being in a cube farm for eight hours a day or if I had the entrepreneurial itch, but I knew there just HAD to be something else out there that was a better fit for me. I saw running my own business as a way to make something of myself and believed I could do it but had no idea if I would be successful or not.

Sure, I knew on some level that it would be difficult, but had no idea what I was in for. Take getting clients for example; I knew that would entail some work for both my wife and I, but I greatly underestimated just how much.

The same could be said for the hours we would need to put in in order to get the business to the point where it could be successful. Let me tell you, when you’ve been working until 11:00 pm or later every night for a month or two you really start questioning your decision in taking the plunge.

What I See Now


Mrs. Frugal Rules and I were discussing the other night after dinner the crappy jobs I’ve had in the past. Some were better than others and some gave me some wonderful opportunities to learn in fields I had never thought possible. Some even pushed me in to some questionable moral situations that I struggled with at the time. But, as we were discussing the different roles I was in I was suddenly thankful for each and every one.

Why you ask? It’s pretty simple really, they all shaped me in a way that prepared me to run a business with my wife. It is for that reason that I’m thankful for having gone through all of those situations. As difficult as they were at the time, they taught us to endure the various challenges we experience today running our own business. I don’t know if we wouldn’t be successful without those experiences, but I do know that those experiences have been incredibly helpful as we run our business now.

How Does This Apply to Life and Money?


One thing I’ve learned through my years is that time is THE most precious commodity there is. I can almost always find ways to make more money, but more time is a different answer altogether. With that in mind, I’ve come to see risk in a much different light.

There is stupid risk and there’s smart risk. Stupid risk is liquidating your bank account, going to Vegas and putting it all on red. Smart risk is seeing an opportunity, weighing the potential on both sides and acting with a certain level of confidence.

Will that smart risk always turn out for your good? Not at all! But, I can pretty much guarantee you that it has a much greater chance of success than taking on stupid risk and you’ll almost always learn something from it that’ll mold you as you go on to the next opportunity in life.

This take on risk, and not running from it either, can be applied to many areas of life. Take investing for retirement as an example. You can wait around and lose precious time in whatever market you’re in or you can start off small (even with little knowledge), educate yourself along the way, and grow yourself into a savvy investor who makes wiser investing decisions that strengthen your portfolio and set you up for greater success in the long term. That is only one example, but the point is that you never know what will happen from taking the plunge into something new and seeing where it takes you.

Looking at the success of our business last year, it’s easy for me to wonder why I didn’t take the plunge earlier in life. But as I look back at all the situations I’ve been able to be in, I see it was all for a reason – it helped put me where we’re at today and has me fairly hopeful of the prospects for our future. Point in fact, I had always envisioned hiring others to bring on to our business but thought it was a pipe dream. However, those conversations between my wife and I of the need to do so is increasing in nature to the point where we’re seeing a new risk we haven’t dealt with before. As I look back though, I have confidence that we’ll be able to handle it thanks to the wisdom prior situations have provided us with.

The moral behind my stream of consciousness today? Everything does happen for a reason in my opinion and you never know how what you’re going through today will help you tomorrow or five years down the road. My encouragement is to learn from it and take it for what it’s worth as you never know how it will help you in the future.


What is something you experienced years ago that is helping you today? What risks are you considering, but find yourself hesitant to plunge into?


Photo courtesy of: KathySmithFL

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • That’s amazing that 4Q13 was almost the same as all of 2012. Huge accomplishment. I try to deal with situations in a way where I learn something. Sometimes the lesson doesn’t come for a few months/years but I’ve found myself in similar situations and then thinking back to how it relates to something from a few years ago. The biggest risk that I see myself taking rather soon is real estate investing. I really want to get a rental property or two this year to expand income sources but I’m stuck in the analysis by paralysis mode. Plus it’s a huge, illiquid investment but the returns can be awesome.

    • John says:

      Thanks JC! I knew things were going well, but seeing it in black and white was really astounding to see. I like to take the same approach myself and can often get caught up by that analysis by paralysis mode, which I hate. Best of luck with the real estate decision!

  • I like your explanation of smart vs. stupid risk. I have some friends who are so conservative that they could never imagine starting and running their own business. “Too much risk!” they would say. Yes, there’s no guarantees of success and many businesses will end in failure, but even if you fail you’ll learn something in the process. I also have an entrepreneurial itch and I’m not sure how many years I will last in the cube farm 😉

  • Congratulations on all your success, definitely well deserved. I’m stuck in a cubicle farm at the moment and also dream of running my own business. Glad to see it’s worked out well for you and your wife!

  • John, what an awesome post. You guys are the picture of the success that can happen when we take smart risk. I can’t wait for the 2015 business report – I’m sure it’ll be even greater. 🙂

  • Love this post! I have always felt that “everything happens for a reason,” and the older I get, the more I believe it. I recently started my own company last September and I laugh every time I think about a job, or person or situation from the past that has influenced the way I help my clients now. It is truly important to live everyday of your life as a learning experience because you never know where you will apply that lesson. 🙂

    • John says:

      Thanks Shannon! I’m the same way, the older I get the more I think it’s true in many cases. I could not agree more, you never know what you’ll be able to draw from that’ll be of great help in the future.

  • Michelle says:

    Great job on your growth in 2013! I think 2014 will be even better.

    I think my past jobs and roles definitely helped shape who I am, and that’s why I don’t regret a single thing 🙂

    • John says:

      Thanks Michelle!

      I feel the same way. It’s easy to regret something in the present, but many times those regrets can be huge lessons for the future.

  • We learn from our mistakes and failures. Each shapes and molds us into the people we are today. You weren’t ready to take the plunge years ago because your character/mind wasn’t ready for it yet. When the time was right and the personal growth had occurred you went for it. Your stream of consciousness is right on…all things happen for a reason and in time, we find out what that reason is.

  • Taking calculated risk is essential to being successful. There are definitely more highs and lows to owning your own business. I’m glad to hear that you’re turning that corner.

  • I love how you have said that all of the jobs you had in the past prepared you for where you are today. I agree 100%. There is something for us to take away and learn from every situation. I’ve had my share of horrible jobs. In one in particular, I wanted out so bad. But it took me close to 6 months and lots of failed attempts before I landed an amazing job. I fully believe I was in that job because I had to learn something. The lessons I learned from that horrible situation have allowed me to better handle the same situation and similar ones in my life now.

    • John says:

      “I fully believe I was in that job because I had to learn something. The lessons I learned from that horrible situation have allowed me to better handle the same situation and similar ones in my life now.” I could not have said it better myself sir. 🙂

  • Liz says:

    Considering but afraid to plunge into? I am nervous to start a side business! I would love to, and I too have an entrepreneurial itch. I remember several years ago when the internet was fairly new, my mom started an online store to sell fabric. Her business didn’t last long because it was super expensive to run (had to hire a designer and website developer etc). She wasn’t afraid though and just went for it. Had she stuck it out she probably would be largely successful as she was one of their first fabric e-retailers. I just need to find my niche and go for it.

    • John says:

      I can definitely relate to that nervousness Liz. Finding that niche will be a great help to get you started. You never know where a side business will go, plus it’s a great learning experience.

  • Everything does happen for a reason, even if we don’t understand the reason until much later. I think not getting a job I thought I really wanted was one of the best things that ever happened to me. although it sucked at the time.

    • John says:

      It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? I had a similar situation to that right before I quit my job and it was THE job I wanted and I was well qualified for it. But, it just wasn’t meant to be and am so thankful it worked out that way looking back now.

  • Congrats on the growth of your business. Crappy jobs are need so that you can work hard and appreciate the great ones. I wouldn’t mind writing more but the time constraints from my job is making that difficult.

  • Matt Becker says:

    I love the point you make about just getting started. It’s almost always that first step that’s the hardest to take, but if you can just make that first one all the rest get a little easier. I can think of plenty of events that felt negative at the time but helped me later on, whether it was a rough breakup, a crappy job, or what have you. As long as you can learn from them and use them to make the next step better, they will have been worthwhile.

    • John says:

      I completely agree Matt. I think for me I get caught in the analysis by paralysis predicament and just make it more difficult on myself. But, if I didn’t analyze it that way I wouldn’t be myself I guess. 😉

  • I completely believe in this phrase “everything happens for a reason”. There is always a lesson to be learned from our experiences in life. Sometimes we see it right away and sometimes it takes a while to learn why something happened the way it did. Congrats on your success!

    • John says:

      I completely agree Raquel, I think there is always something (even if small) that you can learn from an experience you have. Now if I could only recognize some of them sooner. 😉

  • What a fantastic post! You have wonderful perspective, and obviously, success. Just remember, the bad times make you appreciate the good ones!

  • Damn, I was hoping running a business was just puppies and lollipops. I guess I won’t run another one, because it was just too easy ;). Businesses only grow with dedication and hard work, plus actually having something to sell or provide.

    • John says:

      Lol, maybe I should look in to seeing if that domain name is available. 😉 Completely agreed, those are vital or otherwise you won’t be in business for long.

  • FIrst, congratulations to you and Nicole for having such a banner year! That has to feel awesome and I know how hard you both worked to make it happen. And I agree 100% – I’ve always been of the mindset that everything happens for a reason, even those things that hurt. Every job and role I’ve had has helped shaped me for the better and I am grateful for the experiences. I don’t like making mistakes (who does?) but as I try view them not as failures as opportunities to learn. There definitely is smart and stupid risk. The trick is knowing which is which … some people just fear risk period and that falls into the stupid category for me.

    • John says:

      Thanks Shannon! It has taken a lot of hard work and know that is likely to stay that way for some time. I like to view it as the same way – not really as a failure, unless I just fell flat on my face, but as a learning opportunity that’ll help me improve in future endeavors. Completely agreed on the fear of risk, leading to inaction, being in the stupid category as far as I’m concerned as you’ll grow much less without it.

  • MMD says:

    About 3 years ago I took the risk of starting a blog. It could have been the biggest waste of time ever. But instead I’ve grown it into a five-figure side income. I’m glad I made the plunge!

    In about 10 years I’ll probably leave corporate America and go into business for myself once our retirement accounts are as big as I want them to be. It’s kind of scary to think about, but exciting for me as well!

    • John says:

      I’m glad you did as well MMD! I can relate to feeling that way when I started about 18 months ago. I thought, what on earth am I doing, but let’s give it a whirl.

      I think with the trajectory you’re putting yourself on that I can totally see you being successful in that. It is scary at times, but the excitement and potential payoff are worth it in my opinion.

  • I often think about the fact that had I never been through the periods of unemployment in my theatre career and had I never broken up with my ex- I wouldn’t be where I am today, seeing my own business start to take off (which is still in the baby phases, but nevertheless, incredibly exciting).

  • One of the things that I was afraid of for years was being a leader. For years I just wanted to be the guy sitting in his cubicle writing code. I didn’t want to be the one leading, the one that would take the brunt of failures. The truth was, I was afraid of failing. About 7 or 8 years ago my management starting moving me into a technical lead role…I was uncomfortable at first, but I grew into it. Now, I love being the leader, guiding and advising my team to victory after victory. 🙂

    • John says:

      That’s interesting Travis because I totally see you as a leader. 🙂 That said, I can understand that feeling, especially when you’re put in to a situation that causes you to be uncomfortable.

  • I agree that risks have to be taken to grown, but like you said calculated risks with much thought into what the outcome may be and if it will be worth it and positive. I think people sometimes jump in without thinking (I actually have a post on this coming up about when I did it) and failed. Not that failure is all bad, but you can minimize the amount you actually fall by thinking things through.

    • John says:

      I’ve been guilty of jumping in without giving much thought way too many times. It’s funny how I tend to be on one end of the extreme – either no thought or paralysis by analysis.

  • Marvin says:

    Glad to hear your business is doing well. Reading about your accomplishments really makes me want to get mine up off the ground and running! Looks like 2014 will be a very exciting year for you and your family, I look forward to watching your success.

  • Michelle says:

    I’m totally learning this now as I embark on starting a business. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and hope you’ve got a good enough back up plan!

  • anna says:

    Congratulations on a successful year, John, it is well-deserved!! I agree that everything happens for a reason (mine was not getting into my ‘dream’ college, but I honestly couldn’t imagine life not going to the college I went to with all the amazing friends, life experiences, and career networking it gave me), as well as timing is everything. Here’s to another successful year, and many years, ahead!

    • John says:

      Thanks Anna! My wife went through the same thing as well and she ended up at UCSD and living at home with her parents. She ended up loving it though and was a great experience – great how that seems to work out that way. 🙂

  • Michael@Save-Invest-Grow says:

    Congrats on the growth in your business, John! It must be a great feeling because I’m sure a lot of hard work went into it. Personally, I’m more risk-averse than I would like, but gradually I’m improving. As time passes, and the more experience (with both successes & failures) I get, I know I’ll take more risk in my business. I think 2014 is going to be a great year! Thanks for sharing!

    • John says:

      Thanks Michael! It has been a lot of hard work, but it’s all worth it once you begin to see the pay off. Time does have a way of helping you become a little more comfortable with taking risks, at least in my case. The lessons learned don’t hurt either. 🙂

  • I’m so happy for yall. You and Nicole are such good examples of what happens when you work really, really hard. You deserve every bit of business success that comes your way!

    • John says:

      Thanks so much Cat! It has taken a lot of hard work, especially on Nicole’s part, but we also have had some things go our way…which always helps. 🙂

  • Dear Debt says:

    Congratulations, John! That is SO awesome that you made as much in the last quarter as you did last year. Holy wow. I wrote a post on this a while back — it feels like when things go right, we want to applaud ourselves, but when bad things happen we say, “oh well everything happens for a reason”. You are obviously making the opposite point, but I’m still on the fence. Sometimes it does feel like everything happens for a reason, then other times things feel so trivial and random. I’m hoping my debt, my blog, etc can expand my opportunities and have 1/10 of the outcome you had 🙂 Keep up the good work.

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