Escape Diary #1: Crunching the numbers behind my escape strategy

I’m Esc’s co-founder and living proof that escaping the city is no easy task! I wanted to write this to show that we – the founders of Escape the City – haven’t got our heads in the clouds when it comes to peoples’ fears about escaping their jobs. We are fully aware of the difficulties fellow aspiring escapees face. So, over the coming months I’m going to log my personal escape journey highlighting the highs and lows, the worries and fears, euphoria and tears.  I’ll start at the beginning and address what was my biggest fear… money!

“What am I going to do with my life and HOW am I going to escape?”

“What am I going to do with my life and HOW am I going to escape?”

1) Make a plan – How much do you need to escape?

Behind every plan is a starting point. A point where you sit down and have a good, hard think.

“What am I going to do with my life and HOW am I going to escape?”

I was working in a great job, earning (relatively) good money with people telling me I was doing a good job. However I wasn’t content. I longed for a job that had worth, one that I believed wholeheartedly in. I wanted to make a difference and work for a cause I was passionate about – It took me 4 years to wake up! I needed a change of direction and a plan to help me change. I had a feeling that what I wanted to do (escthecity) wasn’t going to be hugely financially lucrative, so attention then turned to my finances as I asked myself the question “how much do I need to escape”?

2) Figure out how much money you have (or don’t have)

Do the maths

Do the maths

I’m ashamed to say that for 4 years I had no idea how much money I had! I guess I avoided it because I didn’t want to know.  “Surely I was being compensated for the endless hours of reformatting slides so that I could do what I wished at the weekends!” For 4 years I avoided the question and facing up to the truth was a tough moment. Even tougher when I found out that I clearly hadn’t been compensated enough and the pain was very real!  I realised that if I was going to do something about it there was only one solution and it wasn’t a terribly exciting one – I needed to save.

3) Make a Budget – be a geek, make a spreadsheet

Saving: Avoid the brands, it's not going to change your life like changing your job could

Saving: Avoid the brands, it's not going to change your life like changing your job could

Strip back on everything. Live life as simply as possible – Try to live off £10 a day (blog post coming soon). The dreaded spreadsheet was fired up to hatch an exit strategy. How many more paychecks do I need to enable my escape? My answer was seven! So I made a budget, started buying Tesco’s value food and signed up to the weekly moneysavingexpert.com emails!

4) Stick to your budget

Make a budget and stick to it

Make a budget and stick to it

Previous attempts to save never seemed to work out as I could never figure out an easy way to track how much money I had at any given point in the month (given direct debits). However, I knew I needed to make this happen. The answer, I found, was to have 3 accounts instead of just 1 – see Esc’s Three Account System (coming soon).

I’m four months in, cycling to work and making my sandwiches. It feels like I’m back at school only no dinner to return to. It’s strangely satisfying and hopefully I only have 3 months to go!

I know there are thousands out there like me. START TODAY. You’re only 4 points away from your own ‘esc’ strategy.

  • Rob Symington

    Hope you’re not spending your £8 a day on Tesco Value Gin mate – we’ll never get any work done!

  • Escwannabe

    Unlike many city dwellers, my job, although thrilling in its own way with its demand for proof-reading documents by the gazillion at 2am, doesn’t involve spreadsheets – may i request that your blog on making a budget includes a quick noddy guide..?

  • http://enterpriseinformationmanagement.wordpress.com/ Andy Painter

    Love the idea/site and totally buy into wanting to join you in “my escape”, my question is what happens to society if everybody does this … do we become a much better society with time for each other and respect or does the very fabric of our economic existence break – either way it has to be exciting to think of the possibilities as masses of people have a more rewarding existence.

    Above all i’m going to make sure that my kids try and appreciate that working is about doing something you enjoy, it’s not about money, unless of course that’s what you enjoy.

    Good Luck with this venture

    Andy Painter
    My Escape : http://www.ResidentsHQ.com

  • Rob Symington

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks very much for the comment and glad you like Esc.

    ‘Escape the City’ works best as a metaphor for people breaking free of the shackles of jobs that don’t make them happy (in order to find an occupation that does).

    You ask an interesting question about what happens if everyone were to ‘escape’ and no one worked (or if no one worked in jobs which support our current economic system – flawed as it is!). James Martin asks a similar question in his book – The Meaning of the 21st Century – http://www.jamesmartin.com/book/ – and he anticipates a future when all jobs have real meaning.

    Although we (Esc) are admittedly idealistic, we aren’t nearly as utopian as that! We merely want to show people that jobs needn’t be dull, dreary or just about putting bread on the table. Although everyone has to earn money to survive – it isn’t unrealistic to expect to find one’s job challenging, stimulating and fulfilling as well.

    That’s what we want to encourage people to find!


    “The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasure.”
    Francoise de Motteville