“I want to ______ but I don’t have money.”

I’m not exaggerating, but when I sent out an e-mail to my readers asking about their biggest struggle in going after their Big Goals — MORE THAN FIFTY of you ladies e-mailed me that statement above, in some form or the other:

“I don’t have money, so I can’t travel.”
“I don’t have money, so I can’t pursue my dream business.”
“I don’t have money, so I can’t leave this soul-sucking job.”

I don’t know about you, but all those statements sound like you’re letting yourself be ruled by money.

You’re letting the lack of money — dictate what you can and can’t do. That’s money slavery right there. And the bad thing about this is: The more often you say it, the more you believe it. It becomes your Life Mantra. Do any of the statements above sound like a good Life Mantra?

… I didn’t think so.

Here’s the thing: I used to SUCK at earning money.

All my older mentors & business friends would tell me that this was my biggest weakness, and I have to step up.

See, I came from an NGO & social development background. I wanted to do good in the world. Unfortunately, the prevailing mindset is: If you want to do good in the world, you CAN’T earn a lot from it.

So I really really really sucked at earning money in the first 4 years of working. I pursued (and completed!) a lot of very successful passion projects, spoke in huge conferences, got featured in major publications, but — behind the scenes, I wasn’t earning from them. (In fact, I was losing money from doing most of these projects).

I did a lot of that stuff for free, or almost free, largely because I felt guilty about charging. I gave extremely valuable help, my skills, and my time to a person or group, but wouldn’t charge them because I felt awkward and guilty. Whatever skills I had, I felt insecure about monetizing them.

My story: Quitting my job + getting better at budgeting, saving, and earning (aka #adulting)

After 4 years (it took a long time), and a lot of bad experiences, I slowly became better at earning. I forced myself to learn how to become better at earning money, because I realized:

I wanted to (1) do work I was very passionate about, (2) work that had a bigger purpose, AND, (3) I wanted to earn a living from it.

And I decided – those 3 things shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

So, around July of this year, when I had that lightning bolt moment when I realized that I wanted to become a full-time entrepreneur doing passionate, purposeful, and profitable work, and decided to:

  • quit my job,
  • make the jump to becoming a full-time entrepreneur on my own, and
  • do a 3-month Sabbatical trip to the US

When that came around — I was ready. (Well, kiiiiiiiiinda ready. I mean, I don’t think anybody can truly be FULLY ready for that scary jump. I was as ready as I could be at that moment. Unless you’re Beyonce.)



… Just kidding.


  1. I laid out a rough itemized list of what I wanted to do, and what I would need: roundtrip ticket, daily allowance, capital for business tools, etc. Nothing very specific, just made sure to cover all the necessities.
  2. And then, I researched/estimated how much each item or activity would cost. I then pegged my TARGET AMOUNT: PHP 155,000 (or $3260), and my DEADLINE: early October.
  3. I then drilled that target into my heart and mind, I prepped myself for battle, and then went straight to work. No overthinking.


  1. FIRST, I took stock of my existing savings. At that time, I only had around P 20,000 ($435) in my savings account*, because I had just shelled out money for an emergency expense, and the rest were in my untouchable life insurance plan.
  2. Then, I computed the maximum of how much I needed to save per month (in terms of % of salary) in my last 3 months at my day job — and adjusted my spending budget accordingly. Meaning: More breakfasts & dinners at home, less Uber, less bookstore shopping.
  3. I pared my life down to my true essentials – and was able to save about P 28,000  from my salary in the span of 3 months.
  4. However! I decided to split this P 24,000 into 2 parts:
    • P 14,000 – Passion Project Fund
    • P 14,000 – Emergency Fund*

*IMPORTANT! I decided to leave this 20,000 untouched as my emergency fund, THEN added the 14,000 from my salary savings, so in total, I had P 34,000 in my untouchable emergency fund. I made a commitment to myself to not spend any of this money so I would have something to come back to at the end of my 3-month Sabbatical.


  1. I cleaned out my closet: I set aside everything I wasn’t using, but were still in great condition, so I can sell them.
  2. I organized a garage sale (with some friends) to sell old clothes, shoes, and books. I was able to earn about P 6,000 ($120) from this. Two birds with one stone: You’ve decluttered your house, and you’ve earned money!
  3. Then, about a week before I left, I managed to sell my old DSLR lens on OLX — which actually made me go way past my monetary goal. I sold it for only P 36,500 ($775), and while it was sad to part with my favorite lens, but it propelled me forward towards my goals. Bittersweet.(I also posted it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, but it sold on OLX.) Here’s what my ad looked like:


  1. I set out on a plan to make extra income, using only three things: my time, my skills, and my knowledge. My skill: teaching/public speaking. My knowledge: personal systems (goal-setting), and marketing/branding. The earning plan: Teach workshops.
  2. I put out a small announcement that I was going to teach a goal-setting workshop & pre-sold seats: This means I already started collecting payments without spending anything on venue + materials. Once I had enough enrollments to cover venue, that was the only time I decided to green-light the project and make a bigger announcement to get more students.
  3. I ended up holding 4 workshops, where I earned about P 117,000 ($2480) in total.

Important Note: This step helped me reach 65% of my money goal. Can you imagine how FAR away from my goal I would have been…

if I only relied on my SAVINGS?


So the formula I used was:

(14,000) + (42,500) + (117,000)

With this simple equation (and a lot of hustling & sleepless nights), I was able to raise a Passion Project Fund of PHP 173,500 ($3760) in 3 months.

My Passion Project being:
To work on launching my own business, while learning how to live independently in another country.

All in all, it wasn’t an easy journey. I barely had any free time at all, and I really dialed down my lifestyle and stopped buying any new material things for months and months on end. No shopping. Period. I also started preparing more meals at home, and eating out way less. It was definitely a long period of major frugality.

But I’ll end with this: It’s a cliche for a reason, but every single time I hear or read this — I’m reminded of just how true it is:

If you want it bad enough — you’ll find a way.

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