I am a 33-year-old, IT project manager who hates his job.

jon ng

I don’t know how I got into this field and the rat race, the continuous cycle of the 9 to 5.

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All I knew was, I needed a change and so did my family – my beautiful daughter and my wife who is an iron woman.

Midlife Crisis Great Escape 9 – 5

This is my story of how I managed my midlife crisis, planned my escape through real estate and online business (blogging).

PS: This post was originally intended to be published in HuffingtonPost.com but another post of mine got published and I wanted to share my journey with my readers here.


I bought a car in 2012. Well, that’s not a big deal. I paid cash all up front. No, I am not into any illegal activities but this just shows my mindset and lack of financial intelligence when I traded all our savings into a depreciating asset with 4 wheels. I knew it was time for a change. The change starts with the mindset, then flows on to how we look at and treat money.

Step 1: Clear the Mindset

In early 2013, I realised I had to change my mindset about money in order to escape the 9 to 5. I had some leftover savings (after the car debacle above) but no real investments. I read a few books on real estate and got hooked into it. Real estate is one of the best passive investment vehicles.

But the book that changed my mind was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, investments, real estate or wanting freedom from the 9 to 5.

True financial freedom is the independence from the traditional 9 to 5 job for an income.

For example, a real estate portfolio or an online business that provides a full-time income that goes beyond covering all your basic expenses come to mind.

This first important step is also looking at money and the management of it differently. The more you earn, the more taxes you will have to pay so it’s not about earning more but about investing more and getting tax benefits for your investments.

Better money management involves knowing the answers to the following 3 very important questions:

  1. What are your monthly expenses?
  2. What is your monthly income?
  3. What is your savings ratio?

Note – If your expenses are higher than your income you are most likely doomed unless you make a change today! Write down your income, expenses and see where you can make changes. 

Step 2: The Plan

All escapes need a plan, whether it’s a prison break or escape from the 9 to 5.

This can be as simple as buying one cash flow positive real estate investment per year for 5 years. Over time you can add more details – like the price of the property should be around $100,000 and the net return should be around 8% – 10% as examples. Your plan should also consider how much you are planning to borrow vs how much funds you are going to put down out-of-pocket. Leverage is a very powerful tool real estate investments offer so take advantage of it.

Step 3: Twist in the Plan

While the plan was good it was painfully slow. Somewhere along the line I stumbled across Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog and thought it was a great idea to start an online business.

I started blogging about topics like social media, blogging tips, content creation and content marketing.

Step 4: Blogging Basics

It is important to be different with your blog, after all, there are millions of blogs and not all of them get read. Unique posts, unique point of views, visual content and video content are some quick ways of making your blog different. I use visual content and infographics.

Step 5: The Truth Hurts; you can Build it but they won’t Come

You may think you can start a blog and start earning straight away but the truth is most blogs take time to make money and some don’t even make any. Display ads are the simplest and easiest ways to make money online but they need a huge volume of visitors or traffic to produce a meaningful income.  I got my first online income from Google AdSense for $100 after about 4 months of blogging, great going. Not really, that is not even enough coffee money but at least, the dream was alive.

Step 6: Specialize in Something; don’t be Another Scarecrow

Bloggers are all-rounders; they produce content, market it, promote it, do SEO tasks and act as social media managers. But to monetize your blog without your own product you need to specialize in something. Creating your own product or even a course may take some time, experience and money. For example, one can specialize as a content writer or social media manager.

Step 7: Throw the Welcome Mat for Clients

Ok, you may think once you specialize in something, customise your blog to make your speciality stand out and start an email list, clients and orders will start rolling. You may be in for a shock. You have to go get your first few clients.

Use your relationships, my first client was due to my offline relationship. Look for repeat clients, this may not be an end client depending on your speciality. For example, if you are a content specialist then a digital marketing agency may be an awesome repeat client. The agency might pay lower than the end client but remember they can be repeat clients with bulk orders. They might be easier to work with compared to an end client. The agency can also easily understand your speciality compared to an end client who might not know why he/she needs your service. When you are dealing with prospects who don’t know if they need your service yet then you have already lost most of the battle.

Step 8: The Defect in the Welcome Mat

Hopefully, by now you have identified a speciality and some target group of customers who will provide repeat orders. How do you get orders? The internet is the biggest marketplace that never sleeps and has no boundaries. Do a search, send 100 emails to prospects to start with to test your email template. Your email should be short, punchy and to the point. Ideally, you should include no more than 1 link in your email so the prospects know what to click if they want more details.

If your template works it proves 2 things: 

(1) Your service has demand and

(2) Your email template is good

Repeat and rinse. If you have some extra cash you can even hire someone to do the boring task of sending emails.

The Future

My road to financial freedom has been bumpy and challenging, to say the least, but it has also been a fun and adventurous entrepreneurship journey.

I plan to settle with my family in India for the following reasons:

  • Closer to family and friends
  • Cost of living is much more affordable, you can even hire a helper
  • Lower income taxes which should mean more investments
  • Great currency benefits, remember you can earn in dollars if you are setup appropriately with your online business
  • Lower business costs and room for expansion

The purpose of writing this post is to give you inspiration. Don’t let the 9 to 5 hold you back. Go get the freedom you deserve and remember there are many ways you can go about this; you just have to be flexible and think outside the box. The journey may take time but the destination can be unbelievably beautiful. Now it’s your turn and good luck with your story.

How can I achieve Financial Freedom?

Financial Freedom can be achieved in two ways:

  • Reduce expenses and
  • Increase passive income

Before you start down the journey of Financial Independence make sure you are flexible in your thoughts on how you approach money. If you have an open mind you can learn more.

Keys to Financial Freedom are:

  1. Dedication
  2. Patience
  3. Taking action. If you don’t take action nothing in life is going to change.

Recommended Passive Income Streams

You either need cash or time to create passive income. There are many ways to achieve Financial Freedom but the ones I am following and recommending are:

  • Cash flow positive real estate investments (requires cash)
  • Starting your own online business via blogging (requires time)

Is Starting an Online Business Passive Income?

The initial setting up stage of your blog requires plenty of work and time but overtime the income can be passive. A blog can also offer a platform for other passive income opportunities.

Do You Need Cash for Real Estate Investments? (Experts say you don’t need cash)

Experts can do real estate deals without cash but new investors need cash to get started.

“You don’t have to be rich to be happy. You just need to love what you do.” – Neil Patel – Online Entrepreneur.

Good luck to you on your journey to Financial Freedom. If you are new to the site or new to the topic of Financial Freedom then read What is Passive Income here.

Passive Income is regular income where an individual is not actively involved in deriving the income or spends very little time to maintain the income. Wages and salary are not passive income; they stop when you stop going to work unlike passive income.

Good examples of Passive Income are:

  • Income from rental property
  • Income from a business (without active involvement)
  • Interest from a bank account
  • Royalties from book publishing
  • Earnings from website advertisements and online affiliate marketing
  • Retirement income like pension.

Income as defined by the IRS in the US:

  1. Earned Income – This is your wages and salaries. Taxed at the highest level
  2. Passive Income – Good tax benefits. See benefits below.
  3. Portfolio Income – Limited tax benefits. Portfolio income is derived from paper assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and currencies.

Keys to Passive Income are:

  1. Dedication – You have to put in the hard yards to create passive income. This starts with education and research.
  2. Patience – Creating passive income is not quick nor does it happen overnight.
  3. Taking action – If you don’t take action nothing in life is going to change. Put in the hard yards today and enjoy passive income for your future years. This will help you escape the rat race and your 9 to 5 life.

Benefits of Passive Income:

  • Greater tax benefits compared to other types of income. Think about the tax benefits of real estate investment or an online business.
  • You can use borrowed funds. You can typically borrow up to 80% of a residential property and then rent it out for passive income. You get 100% of the benefits not just the 20% you put in.
  • You can start an online business for under $100 and create passive income. This does take a lot of time and effort though.
  • You have more control over your investments compared to portfolio income. When you invest in stock, you as an individual investor have no say in the day-to-day activities of the company you invested in. When you buy a rental property you can decide whom to rent the property to, who should manage the property and who will be doing the maintenance to the property.
  • Passive Income is usually recurring income on a monthly basis.
  • Passive Income ultimately leads to Financial Freedom. 

Good luck to you on your search for Passive Income.

If you are new to the site or new to the topic of Financial Freedom then visit Escape your 9 to 5 Life blog post to get started.