This is Why I Work For Myself

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. Read our disclosure to see how we make money.

work for myself

There are many things I love about being self-employed. There are also things I don’t enjoy, like waiting on clients who take for flipping ever to pay and the up and down income. All told though the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses when it comes to working for myself. I know that’s not the case for all, so I’m thankful for my experience.

I Want to Control my Time


As I’ve shared previously, one of our main goals this year is to go to San Diego this summer to see my in-laws. My lovely wife is a San Diego native and it has been three long years since we’ve been back. She has taken the time away in stride and is something I’ve not given her enough credit for.

Anyway, we’re departing this Friday for a three week trip and the entire family is stoked. I went against my normal frugal tendencies and agreed to rent a minivan for our drive out there. While we could fly, have you ever flown with three little ones? Yea, not fun.

We’d need a car out there anyway, so it made sense to drive. Seeing as I like my sanity, I decided to pony up for the expense to rent the minivan as opposed to our “comfy” Altima. The drive itself, which is just shy of 1,600 miles, will take us (knock on wood) three days and we’ll be spending 12 days in sunny San Diego.

Going back to the point of the post, this is something we never could’ve done when I was in the corporate world. The most vacation I ever had was two weeks along with one week of sick time. Anything over a week had to be approved by multiple layers above me and that’s also not to mention the number of blacked out days I had to work around.

Simply put, my vacation was at the whims of people entirely removed from my situation. That is pure lunacy – plain and simple!

I’ll avoid going on a tangent now about how we work ourselves to death here in the States, and will leave that for another day. The point is, while I was given two weeks the reality was that I was not in control of it. I had to fit my square request into the round hole provided by the powers that be.

The one good thing about vacation in my corporate days was that when I left the building, I left all my work in it. I never had a working vacation. Self-employment isn’t like that. I’ll likely need to work a little while on vacation, but aside from a major emergency from a client, it’ll be in the early morning before the kids get up. However, we can only take a trip like this because we work for ourselves.

It makes all the craziness worth it. It makes it sweeter really, knowing that we can take a vacation like this because we’ve busted our tails to make it possible on a variety of fronts. If I were still in my corporate job, I’d be wondering in the back of my mind if I’d get in trouble, or if taking the vacation would be held against me by superiors.

Sad as it sounds, I dealt with that each time I took a vacation and, you know what, that’s not right. It’s not healthy. Because I work for myself I don’t have to deal with that and can take a vacation, for however long I want, whenever I darn well please.

If I ever was tempted to go back to the corporate world, this alone would cure me real quickly of it. Life is just too short to not have control over your time. Of course, you can be a slave to your business, and in that event you have yourself to blame. But life is just too short not to have a say over your time.

Sometimes You Just Have to Spend More


Ok, completely unrelated to working for myself is what we’re spending on this vacation. Our lodging for the trip fell through a couple of weeks ago and we were left scrambling for a new place to stay. I had located a Marriot in San Diego that had a kitchenette and two rooms. Plus, I could’ve gotten the Marriot card and earned a massive amount of points. However, Mrs. Frugal Rules was NOT feeling it.

She had some great points and so I went to VRBO to find something a little more suitable for us. We struck oil! I found us a house in La Jolla that is only two blocks from the beach and is rented by a lady who has young kids herself and so it’s all set up for kiddos.

The catch is that it was slightly more than the hotel and without the points. Knowing how important this trip was to my wife and how the Pacific is so near and dear to her heart and soul I would’ve had to kick my own butt if I didn’t pony up to spend the extra money. The moral of the story…money (or rewards points) is not everything!

Anyway, I apologize for a somewhat directionless post today. I guess I’ve just been too scatter brained these past few weeks getting ready for our trip. 🙂 While I’m gone, I have some awesome contributors lined up, not to mention Cat, Grayson and Laurie to fill out the schedule. If you live anywhere between Omaha and San Diego and hear kids screaming, or Holiday Road playing, over the next few weeks you know where it’s coming from. 😉


How much vacation time do you get? Does your vacation time have to be approved by multiple layers? Have you ever used VRBO and, if so, what was your experience with it? Do you have any suggestions for things to do with three kids six and under on a cross country car trip – if so, I’m all ears. 🙂



Photo courtesy of: Tim Wilson

The following two tabs change content below.

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.


  • MMD says:

    I couldn’t agree more that the ability to do and go whenever / where ever you want would be totally worth it. Life IS too short. I’m still a working stiff and yes – vacations do seem to get held against you. Plus they seem to come with you even when you leave the office (because you know you’ll hear about it when you get back if you ignore it).

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree MMD, life is too short. Sorry to hear that vacations are the same way with you. I could write volumes about that, it’s just not right.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    After visiting La Jolla and San Diego for the first time in December, I want to live there. Your VRBO sounds perfect, even if it is a bit more expensive.

    I too have found that freelance work follows me everywhere- including my all inclusive Mexico vacation in June and my trip to Europe in the spring. But it’s a small price to pay for being able to still make money while seeing the world.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree, it looks great. We’d love to live in La Jolla as well, but business would have to go pretty crazy for us to be able to afford living there. πŸ™‚

      You’re right, freelance work really acts the same way but I’ll happily take it in order to work where we want and when we want.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    John, I can totally relate! I have four trips planned during the next few months. At my old job, I have 20 PTO days which were also sick days and my kid’s sick days. Now I can pretty much do what I want as long as I get my work done. That occasionally means working on vacation but it is totally worth it.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, it’s the same exact thing for us. We have a trip planned every month, save for November, for the rest of the year. That never would’ve been a reality in my old job. It might mean we have to bust our tails prior or do a little work while on vacation but it’s well worth it.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Smart move on taking the VRBO rental, IMHO. When you’re on vacation with kiddos, comfort and convenience are everything. πŸ™‚ Rick gets three weeks vaca now, and approval is pretty laid back, but it’s still not the same as working for yourself. πŸ™‚

  • Miriam Kearney says:

    When we travel we prefer to rent private homes rather than a hotel and it is usually less money or equivalent to the hotel. We paid $325 for a 4 bedroom house in Florida, $157 for a 1 bedroom condo in Toronto. In Florida there were four of us so there was no way even the cheapest hotel would match. In Toronto it was more convenient to be in home. There were only two of us but we needed two beds – this one had a murphy bed in the livingroom. In the Spring 3 of us rented a cottage in Massachusets for $125 a night. Can’t be beat. But no points I agree.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I think we may just see the same thing Miriam. I think it’s one thing if you’re only staying for a couple of nights, but when it’s longer term it seems as if renting a house is the better way to go – generally speaking.

  • Kim says:

    My situation is very different from yours, but vacation time is a huge reason why I wanted to shift the universe and change job directions. This last vacation was the best one ever because no one called me from work and I didn’t have to put out any fires from miles away.

    We did use VRBO last summer on the Oregon coast, and it was amazing. It’s nice to be able to cook and have some space. I love La Jolla, so I bet you are going to be in heaven. Have fun!

    • John Schmoll says:

      I bet that was an awesome feeling Kim!

      Yea, I think it’s going to be difficult to pry my wife away from the house. It could be a shack for all she cares – it’s in La Jolla and 2 blocks from the ocean.

  • Kassandra @ More Than Just Money says:

    The main reason I went the SE route was for more flexibility to be able to take time off like you said, be more present for my elderly mom and spend more time with my DH who is also SE.
    It can be frustrating but for me it’s worth it in spades. Have a great vacation John with your family and spending more money than you anticipate sometimes is the best way to go!

    • John Schmoll says:

      All of those are great reasons to work for yourself Kassandra. The flexibility is well worth any frustrations, in my opinion, not to mention being able to take long vacations. πŸ™‚

  • Michelle says:

    I like to take long vacations and while I do get them approved…it’s such a hassle. I’ve earned the vacation time, I’d like to take it when I want to take it. But, there are certain times of year where we have “blackout dates” or other colleagues are gone. I actually think a lot of people work on vacation. I’ve read some random reports on that and Americans seem to be really bad about leaving work at work. I LOVE San Diego, have a great time!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, I can relate to that Michelle. There was nearly always something, or a few things to try and work around. I’ve read the same things, we certainly like to work ourselves into the ground.

  • Natalie @ Financegirl says:

    Props to you for driving with small children on this trip. And good luck! πŸ™‚ I have been a mother’s helper and traveled with a family by flying and it’s easier when the child to adult ratio is 1:1 – that’s for sure. As for vacation time, I have 4 weeks and while I have to get it approved, it usually always is (in fact, I can’t think of one instance where it wasn’t). As an attorney, we’re expected to get our billable hours in regardless of time off. Pros and cons to that – we can take the time off as we please, but you essentially have to make up the hours to hit your billable marks for the year.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Natalie! Hopefully I won’t end up drinking myself silly by the end of the drive, lol. Glad to hear you’re usually able to get your vacation approved, albeit having to work in getting your billable hours in as well.

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    Have fun on your trip! I think driving long distances with little ones…it was a good idea to get the minivan. I work in government and do have a good amount of vacation days…I think about 20 days. But yes, there is the multiple layers of approval and the boss giving you the stink eye for taking off and asking for assurances that you’ll have work done…and of course even if you don’t take work with you it continues to pile up while you’re gone so you’ll just end up working more when you get back.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree, I think it’s going to prove to be the right decision. That’s especially the case with our youngest one liking to give “massages” with his kicking. Yep, it just seems to be a vicious circle for many.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    21 days is going to be awesome, especially in sunny cal by the beach. La Jolla is beautiful! I have to admit though, I must not be doing something right, since as a freelancer I have felt like I have LESS vacations because I don’t have the budget for it. I’ve already cancelled fincon, a trip to a lake this month, and austin earlier this year. πŸ™ So when I was full time I had the money, but now I have the time, but not the money. grrr. Anyway, hope you have an amazing time!

  • John Schmoll says:

    I agree, it’ll hopefully be awesome. I’m not a beach person, per se, but you can’t beat being 2 blocks from the beach. We had to cancel a few of our trips when we were first starting out so I know that can suck.

  • Will - First Quarter Finance says:

    Are you taking I-80 across the state??? If so, definitely bring some audio books! We all know the landscape won’t keep you entertained! πŸ™‚ I love Nebraska but it’s a pretty straight stretch of nothing but grass.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, we’re taking I-80 to Denver. Great tip on the audio books! We have some for all of us to listen to and a few we got just for my wife and I when the kids fall asleep. The state is pretty, but for hundreds of miles it gets a bit on the mind numbing side. I’m just glad we’re not driving across S. Dakota – THAT is a brutal drive!

  • Amy says:

    Have a wonderful trip! I’ve never been to the San Diego area, but my husband spends all winter wondering aloud why we don’t live there.

    Good luck traveling with the kids! I don’t know how parents did it before child-friendly electronics… πŸ™‚

    • John Schmoll says:

      You should definitely go there some time Amy! I always had my misconceptions about California, but after living there for a few years it has a special place in my heart.

      Lol, yep, I don’t know either.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    Flexible vacation time is an absolutely awesome perk with owning your own company. I just experienced it myself and while I didn’t unwind as much as I might if I was collecting a regular paycheck, I did unwind and it was nice. We have even discussed longer trips in the future since hubby is a teacher and he and Will have the summers off. And I agree with you on the vacation home. This is a special trip for your family and there are just some things you can’t skimp on. Safe driving and I can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures on the holiday road. πŸ™‚

    • John Schmoll says:

      That it is Shannon! You and the fam could definitely take advantage of having a longer trip with your husband being a teacher.

      I agree, there are some things you shouldn’t skimp on…especially when life long memories to be created.

  • Michelle says:

    This is why I love being self-employed as well. I love being able to travel when I want to where I want.

    VRBO is great. I have used it several times and I have never had a bad stay.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, exactly!

      From the looks of it I don’t think we’re going to be disappointed with our first stay at all.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Yeah I’ll leave you to figure out how best to handle three kids on a road trip…write a post about it for me to reference someday πŸ˜‰ The benefits of working for yourself – mainly control of your time – is a big reason I would love that freedom. Simply put, though, it makes sense for me to continue my career. If one of my side ideas “takes off” I may be able to join you, but I don’t want to think about working for myself too much because I know it won’t happen anytime soon.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Ha ha, I’m sure I’ll end up having a post or two about that.

      That makes total sense. Many aren’t in jobs they enjoy and see themselves staying in.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I agree – it’s worth paying extra to stay at place you’ll love. Being a few blocks away from the beach in La Jolla – priceless. La Jolla is so beautiful and late August and September is a great time to be in California. People come early, like June, and are disappointed by how gloomy it is. πŸ™‚ But, of course, Nicole would know that! I have flown with 2 young children and it is adventure. I basically think any travel, while worth it, is always an adventure with young kids no matter how you get there! I had my time off in my Corporate days and a decent boss who didn’t guilt me for using my time off. That being said, you still did have to plan it around their calendar, so to speak. My husband still works in Corporate and fortunately it hasn’t been a hassle taking time off when it worked best for us. But yes, having a flexible schedule when you work for yourself is probably the best perk. Have a great trip. It’s nice and toasty warm here. Perfect beach weather!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yes, I know all about June Gloom in SoCal. πŸ™‚ It was always interesting to see people come visit and wonder why it wasn’t sunny. I agree, no matter how you get to your destination with little ones usually provides for an interesting adventure. Glad your husband doesn’t have too much of a hassle when it comes to scheduling his time off, that’s rarer as the years go on. We’re looking forward to it, especially Nicole. I think she has had a countdown going since early February. πŸ™‚

  • Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja says:

    The reason why we’re trying to start our own business is to be able to go and live where ever we want for as long as we would like. Our dream is to earn enough passive income to be able to work from home… by home meaning, the beach, or the mountain, or anywhere we want.

    We’re still working for the “man” at the moment but we’re making a few moves that will hopefully pay out in a few years.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s definitely a bonus of being independent or working for yourself. We can’t pick up as much as we’d like with little ones, but it beats the corporate world by a mile.

  • Jason B says:

    I currently work 2 pt jobs and can take off whenever I want, but I will be heading back in the corporate world for a couple of years. Once I do that I know I will only have a certain amount. That’s why I’m working hard to eventually be 100% self employed.

  • Jason @ Phroogal says:

    You are right that when we decide to work for ourselves we say we want to control our time but we can easily loose sight of that and work endless hours.

    It’s one thing I continue to work on is to focus on the high priority important stuff and the things that are fun. I’m asked why I comment at a number of blogs. It’s because I actually enjoy reading and engaging. So my time doing so is valuable to me.

    • John Schmoll says:

      You’re exactly right Jason, it can be very easy to allow time get out of hand and work endless hours.

      It’s invaluable to prioritize your items/tasks. I do the same thing as a means to help focus on things I enjoy as well as those that’ll bring a higher return.

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    I get quite a bit of vacation time (5-7 weeks depending on the year and how much “overtime” I bank), but sometimes I do wish my career was a bit more location independent. I would love to work where I want, even if that is often out of the office.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That not half bad in terms of time off Daisy! It is pretty nice to work where/when you want though. πŸ™‚

  • Brad @ How to Save Money says:

    It has been decades since I’ve been there, but I loved San Diego back in the day. Have a great trip and a great vacation (I applaud your decision to drive rathr than fly b the way).

    • John Schmoll says:

      I would highly recommend going back. It is one of my favorite cities in the States – for pretty good reason as my wife is from there. πŸ™‚

  • Grayson Bell says:

    The freedom is a nice perk isn’t it! I hope you really enjoy your vacation. I am lucky where I get a good amount of vacation days, but I have the ability to work from home and they are very flexible. I enjoy that part.

    I have’t tried VRBO, but I am thinking about doing it.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That it is! You can’t beat having that flexibility. Many employers don’t offer that and it’s a nice perk to have.

      We haven’t either, but everything so far has gone great.

  • Cat says:

    There’s no one more deserving than you two. Enjoy your time away!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *