Freelance to Freedom by Vincent Pugliese

Today I want to share with you the top 5 lessons I’ve learned from reading the book Freelance to Freedom by Vincent Pugliese.

I found a lot of value in this book about how to achieve financial, time and life freedom by creating a side business. Vincent and his wife Elisabeth’s story about how they reached financial freedom after paying off $140,000 of debt is not just compelling but also full of practical advice and life lessons that inspired my husband, Angelo, and I to rethink our lives and to start believing in ourselves and our potential more.  

I hope the lessons I’ve learned from the book will help you as well and if you want to learn more from someone who did what most people don’t even consider possible, then I highly recommend you read the book.

Why should you care?

How do you define an ideal life for yourself? Is that life you just defined the life you’re currently living? If it is similar to mine then freelancing or entrepreneurship might be something for you.

According to Tim Urban, once we graduate from high school and move out of our parent’s house most of us already used up over 90% of the total time we’ll spend with our parents over our lifetime. And now you’re enjoying the less than 10% that is remaining of that time. He calls it the tail end. I might be selfish, but I want to be able to spend more than that with my parents, as we have a great relationship and I highly value my time with them. And what about our friends? Well, if you don’t live in the same place, which is true for most of my closest friends in the world, that leaves us 10x less time to spend together than the ones who also live in Vienna.

I also noticed that when I was working at a corporate job it wasn’t just the hours I was paid for that I spent with my job. I was constantly worried about work even at home, which impacted my sleep and most importantly the way I spent time with the people I love the most.

Everyone’s different but for Angelo and me our ideal life is lived on our own terms, being able to spend more quality time with our friends and families.

According to a Deloitte survey, 80% of employees do not like their jobs. So why don’t they quit then?  According to another study, 50% of Americans have no savings and would have to go into debt to pay for an unexpected $500 expense. If you’re in a situation like that it’s very hard to believe that there’s a way out.

Vincent and Elizabeth were both working as photo journalists in a low-paying job and lived a “normal” life. What’s considered “normal” in their case included a mortgage, car payment, student loan and consumer debt. Their story about how they paid off their accumulated $140,000 of debt within 4 years, quit their low-paying jobs and went out on their own to start their wedding photography business to reach what we consider the ideal life inspired us to follow a similar path and now I want to share my most valuable lessons from the book with you!

Lesson 1: Are you using your talent correctly?

When Vincent was 33 years old, they already started their journey of getting out of debt. However, he was still earning 15$ an hour, had less than zero net worth and their first baby, Andrew, was on the way. Vincent asked his dad for a job to support his growing family. Instead of getting a job he got something much more valuable, a life-lesson that pushed him to start freelancing.

Here’s the advice his dad gave him:

“I think you should do what you know. You have a skill, but you aren’t using that skill in the correct way. You need to start a side business. You’ve never wanted to do this but why not shoot weddings?”

So why did he give this advice? When you take a job for a fixed salary there are many things that you don’t take into account. For example, there is a fixed amount of time that you’re working but how much extra time do you spend on getting ready for work, commuting to work, attending after-work events to connect with your colleagues?  In Vincent’s case, he found out that he brought home less than 100$ every day from his corporate job in exchange for 11 hours of his day invested in his job.

For photo journalists like Vincent and Elisabeth, the idea of shooting wedding photos seemed demeaning at first. Vincent’s dad’s advice set them on a path that took them many years of hard work and trial and error but now they’re living a life on their own terms. This is what we want to achieve as well.

Now…let me ask you something. Are you using your skill correctly? I think many of us grew up with the idea that you have to get a degree, to then get an office job and job security to have a good life. Having a hobby is great but that’s not gonna pay the bills… but what if it could? What if you do turn your passion into a side hustle until it maybe turns into your full-time job? How would that feel?

My younger sister, Dorka, is a beautiful, talented artist and doesn’t give herself enough credit for her work and potential. With these animations, I want to give her the same push that Vincent’s dad gave his son when he was struggling. I’m not suggesting that she should stop learning and that going to college is useless! I just hope that when she finishes high school she can use these lessons from the book to decide for herself what she wants to do and what is important in life.

Lesson 2: Do you really need all that stuff? How to get out of debt or avoid getting into debt!

Take a look at your environment. Before talking about the big things let’s start with the small ones. Is everything you see adding value to your life? If you look at your closet do you wear all your clothes regularly when the season allows it or only the 20% favorites? Do you have some clothes that still have their price tag on them? What about your living room or your kitchen? These are small things, but you probably have everything you need already and the cumulative impact of not buying stuff you don’t need and that doesn’t add any value to your life can be huge.

Vincent and Eliabeth’s first goal was to save 1,000 $ in a baby emergency fund – the idea is to have a buffer in case some unexpected expense occurs. Apart from the things in your environment you also might have many habits that are adding to your expenses whether you want to get out of debt or just save more money for a trip or for your future. Be honest with yourself now. How many times do you eat out? Vincent and Elisabeth started by giving up going out to eat to save the first 1,000 $ and that’s all they needed. After looking at their bank statement Vincent realized that they could actually reach that amount by eating out less and spending less in Target.

And here’s the deal, we did the same with Angelo a couple of years ago and we never looked back. Cooking together brings us closer together, allows us to eat high-quality food for less money, not to mention that our home-made meals are much better than any restaurant food we could order. Being minimalist also means that we don’t buy things that don’t add value to our lives. As a result our apartment as well as our minds are clutter-free and our savings account is growing as we don’t spend nearly as much as we used to. 

But let’s talk about the big stuff from the book now. Vincent argues that there’s always an excuse for why you can’t do something many people managed to do before you. He calls it the big but.

Here’s the first one: But we need a new car!

“According to Experian, the average monthly car payment for a new vehicle is $503, and that is for more than five years!”

Now…Imagine for a second what you could do with that money instead. Vincent did the math. “If you would put the same amount into a savings account with no interest from the day your child was born until he or she left for college, you could put more than $100,000 toward their college expenses. My favorite scenario is this one though: You could hand out a $15 gift card to someone every day of the year. For most of you, a new car is a want but not a need. Depending on where you live you might not even need a car at all.

An even bigger one is this: But we need a new house.

Do we need a bigger house simply because a banker says we can afford the payment? Or because we feel like society expects us to? Or because our family has grown? Probably not. The key to financial freedom is to lower your fixed expenses as much as you can. Avoid the trap of lifestyle inflation. You have to find your happiness within.

In Vincent’s own words

“Be happy where you are while working for what you desire. It will get you there much quicker than complaining. And if you can’t find a way to enjoy what you do now, you will most likely struggle even when you achieve your greatest dreams and desires.”

Lesson 3: Do a no TV challenge

“What could you do if, starting tonight, you found an extra five hours in your day? If you spend anywhere close to the amount of time watching television or mindlessly surfing the net, you just found the time.”

Vincent tells a story about Jeffrey who was only watching three hours of television a day but he made the decision to dramatically cut down on the amount of TV he watched and put that time into creating a website with his friend. In three years, Jeffrey and his friend created several websites and blogs that allowed them both to quit their jobs and fulfill their dream of self-employment.

In Jeffrey’s words

“It’s amazing the amount you can accomplish when you find an extra 3,285 hours a year to work on something you enjoy doing rather than vegging in front of the TV,”

You can start small and try to stop watching TV for a week and see what you can do instead. If we take the time an average American watches TV/Netflix or mindlessly uses social media a day, even if you do a one week fast you would gain 35 hours that week that you can spend on reading and finishing a book and time with your friends or family. Here’s the time you need to start a business!

One shocking insight from the book was this:

“The average American dad spends eight hours and forty-five minutes at work per day, watches two hours and forty-nine minutes of television, spends two hours and forty-two minutes on his phone, and spends only seven minutes a day talking with his children “

I’m not a parent yet but I’m a daughter, a sister, and a wife and a friend to the people closest to me and the people around us deserve much more quality time with us. And we deserve much more quality time with them! So if this statistic shocks you as much as it shocked me, try to think of it the next time you decide to watch one more episode on Netflix or decide to check your phone at the dinner table or during a social gathering.

Lesson 4: Hour of giving

For us, probably the most valuable lesson from the book was the “hour of giving”.

It’s basically about dedicating an hour of your day to giving back to the people who positively impacted your life. This can be a restaurant where the quality of the service made you enjoy your meal way more, a book like this one that added value to your life or a podcast that you recently listened to. But it can also be a family member, a friend or a client. Ever since implementing this rule it became sort of a meditation for us and even without expecting anything in return there are some pretty amazing things that might happen to you anyways.

Using the hour of giving I shared my previous video with Mel Robbins and even though I just wanted to show her my gratitude for positively impacting my life, her team saw my video and they put it in Mel’s newsletter. That gave me a chance to share the amazing things that I’ve learned with more people than I ever thought I would be able to reach so quickly. And this is partly thanks to Vincent’s rule.

Before reading about this I never left a review and now that we are in Thailand on vacation we started leaving a review in almost every place we visit. It not only helps the restaurants, elephant parks, hotels but it also helps tourists like us to find places where the staff is friendly, where we feel happy with the service and we feel good about giving back to them. One of the restaurant owners in Chiang Mai saw our review and she even thanked us in person for our kind words the next time we had dinner there. She even ended up giving us a portion of delicious mango sticky rice for free. If you give without wanting anything back, people might surprise you!

Lesson 5: ‘be Better than yesterday’

The last lesson from the book is this: be better than yesterday

In Vincent’s own words

“focusing simply on being better than yesterday was the single factor that showed me how to have consistent progress and not get overwhelmed”

Be better than yesterday can be used as a daily mantra. You can try to ‘be better than yesterday’ in your relationships, at school, in keeping your diet or exercising more, in your finances or in your business.

Do you feel like you’re constantly overwhelmed with worrying about the future?

This simple mindset change helps you focus on the now rather than stress out about slow progress, and it helps you enjoy the journey. Whenever you try to learn a new skill you’re gonna be bad at it first, or at least not as professional as you wish to be. You have to give it time and trying to focus on one day at a time gives you the motivation you need to persist.  

Vincent used this mantra to realize that he didn’t need to lose twenty-five pounds right away; he just needed to do better than yesterday in his food choices. He also didn’t need to schedule a long-needed vacation with Elisabeth; he just need to give her more attention that day. Now…What can you do today to be better than yesterday?

Better than yesterday gave him the freedom to push the past aside, to stop worrying about the future, and to concentrate on the present moment.

Final thoughts

Alright, these were the top 5 lessons I’ve learned from Freelance to Freedom by Vincent Pugliese. I picked the lessons that can be applied to every area of your life not just your business. Still, this book is actually part of the reason why I decided to give this channel a real chance and to try and build something else that I enjoy. It was very difficult to pick only 5 lessons from such a great book.

Let me know down in the comments below what you learned from this review and if you have something you enjoy doing that you would like to turn into a business.

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