“I’m good at making money. That’s why I had the courage to quit my job”

Published on: 7 September 2021

How do you deal with work and money for now and for the future? Do you live one day at a time, or are you consciously planning your financial future? And are you making arrangements for the future yourself, or are you part of a pension fund? Ilse quit her well-paying job: ”I want to contribute to a better world in a different, sustainable way.”


Ilse Ligthart (40)

Profession: was lead business developer, is now “in between jobs”.

Works how many hours a week: currently not working.

Income: previously 4700 euros net (36 hours), currently none.

Savings: 50,000 euros, plus 60,000 euros invested, with her husband.

Pension set up? Accrued pension for fifteen years through job, but currently not accruing any.


What kind of work do you do?

“I’m currently figuring out how best to spend my paid time. I’m really doing a kind of sabbatical right now. I worked at Bol.com until April of this year. I was part of the management team of a department that was responsible for developing new propositions and earning models. I earned a ton and a half a year there, including a bonus, but after about five years, I started to feel uncomfortable. I felt like there was something missing in my world. We never did great things to make the company grow and to make shareholders and consumers happy. It was mostly all about selling new things as much as possible. But I personally no longer believe that all those things make anyone happy. I want to contribute to a better way in a different, sustainable way. That’s why I quit my job.”


That’s a big step. I imagine you spent some time thinking about it before taking it.

“Yes, I thought about it for a long time and had extensive discussions with my husband about it. I was the breadwinner at home – my husband doesn’t work – so that cancelled the entire family income. I thought I should have another job before I could quit working at Bol.com, but my husband convinced me that we had a good buffer for emergencies. He said, ‘Maybe the real emergency is that you are no longer happy doing the work you are doing.’ That gave me the courage to take the plunge.”


How big was that buffer?

“About 60,000 euros.”


Do you regret your decision?

“No, not for one minute. And I’m really happy I didn’t wait any longer. That financial security gives us peace of mind. We are using our savings, but I’m not worried at all. In the beginning I was still thinking in terms of obstacles instead of opportunities. Now I’m enjoying the freedom I get to experience. For example, we went on an extra-long vacation, just because we could.”


In the beginning I was still thinking in terms of obstacles instead of opportunities

What else have you done since you quit your job?

“I have been enjoying spending a lot of time on personal development through coaching and courses. I also immediately registered with the Chamber of Commerce as a self-employed person, initially in the field of advice and consultancy. I have a background in consultancy, so I could start with that tomorrow if I wanted to. And I’ve tried a few things, like, for example, helping entrepreneurs with a concrete problem within 90 minutes. You can learn from that. In this case, that 90 minutes is not enough and that this is not necessarily my style. I’m still trying to figure out what is.”


What would you like to do, in an ideal world?

“My dream is to have a company that contributes to a more sustainable, happier world, that I can make good money with. That’s as concretely as I can express it at this time. My focus for the next few years will be on entrepreneurship. That is new to me. It may be a little ambitious to have solved a world problem in less than six months. It is more realistic to take a look at what crosses my path.”


How much of your buffer do you still have?

“I still have about 50,000 euros. It helped that I still received a bonus after I quit my job and that we got a refund on our mortgage interest. One of the things I have found out lately is that I’m pretty good at making money. I always find ways to quickly get work, so I would never need to worry about that. Previously, I worked as a consultant, went traveling for a year and before I even returned to the Netherlands, I got a call about a new job. And when I wanted to quit that job, I had job interviews booked in to time. So, there is absolutely no reason for me to worry now.”


What are your fixed expenses?

“The mortgage is 1370 euros a month and we spend about 600 euros a month on taxes, energy, insurances, internet, etc. One of our kids goes to childcare one and a half days a week and that costs us 350 euros a month. Even though we are not working, I really want to use this time for myself.”


What else do you spend money on?

“Mostly groceries; about 650 euros a month. We buy a little bit of meat from an organic farm nearby and that is a little more expensive. We opt for relatively expensive products overall. We also don’t skimp on weekends away and vacations, especially now that we have time for that.”


Are you living more frugally than before?

“No, not at all. On the contrary: I try to spend a little more now. In the past, I always spent my money very consciously: it had to be a good deal. But then you often choose not to spend your money even though it could be more valuable if you do spend it. What you get from it does not necessarily have to be expressed in money. It can also be an investment in your personal development. For example, I took some courses that cost me a few thousand euros, but I’m seeing that as an investment in myself. Besides that, I enjoy doing that, and that is also valuable. Incidentally, before I quit my job, we had already reduced our spending a lot. We have strict budgets. At the end of the month, we transfer money from the savings account to two accounts: the fixed expense account and the grocery account. And we basically have to make do with that. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Unless we have a bigger expense, such as a vacation or something in the house. We do use money from our savings account for that.”


Have you given yourself a certain amount of time for when you “have to” have an income again?

“Initially, I had thought six months. Now I have the confidence in myself that it is coming and that it’s okay if it takes a little longer. If I feel pressed at some point, I can always take some assignments as a freelance consultant. If I actively search for that within my network, I can easily get some of those.”


Are you actively working on your retirement?

“When I look at my financial situation, retirement is a something that could use more attention, to be honest. I did work with an employment contract for fifteen years and always accrued a pension there. But if I stay away from paid employment, I’m going to have to make other arrangements. I think I will want to invest a portion of that myself, and also have a portion invested through a pension fund.”


How much will your pension be per month, the way things are now?

“I looked that up once, but I couldn’t tell you. I don’t think it’s very much. On the one hand, I know that time is an important factor in pension accrual, but on the other hand, it feels like something I don’t really need to worry about yet. I’m convinced that by that time I will be in a much better financial position than I am now. I will probably have a lot more income and won’t even need a supplementary pension.”


How much per month would you like to get once you’re retired?

“As little as possible. What I mean by that is that I will have arranged everything in a wonderful, sustainable way. I don’t necessarily want to live like a minimalist in a cabin in the woods with one chicken and eat lettuce every day. But it would be nice to be satisfied with that. With a house that’s paid off and nice vegetable garden, you can go far.”


How do you envision your life at that time?

“I would like to spend more time in nature, live with the seasons much more. I also think I will keep working part-time, because I’ve always seen work as something I enjoy, rather than a necessary evil. Maybe by that time, I could use what I earn to help other people. I’m convinced that you don’t need more things and experiences to be happy – you have to get it from within. I would like to make people more conscious of that.”