Why I Used My 401(k) to Follow My Dream

Amy Schultz, Money Coach (Photo by Sarah Beirne)

When I left my corporate job, I took every dime out of my 401(k).

Let me first caveat this entire piece with I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS. But this is my story, and it needs to be told.

Here’s Why I Did It:

I spent the last six years building a six-figure career as an actuary, and now I just want to be at home with my new baby, every day. What kind of world do I live in where no one told me that would happen, and no one prepared me financially to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it?

I was more than angry. I felt betrayed — like because no one had prepared me to want to do something other than WORK, I was forced to miss out on the best years of my son’s life.

I was knee-deep in the finance industry and I made the choice that every financial expert in the world will tell you not to do. And I don’t regret a damn thing.

I wasn’t scared to use that money.

I didn’t feel like I was going to be unable to eat in retirement because I was choosing to use that money to be with my baby now. Yes, the taxes sucked and hiding it from everyone because I knew they wouldn’t understand made me feel like I was hiding an affair, but naps with my son every day and not rushing ANYWHERE for anything was worth every damn penny.

There are a million “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” when it comes to money, but the only thing you absolutely should do with your money is the thing you cannot stand to spend one more day NOT doing.

Here’s What You Need to Make the Right Money Decisions for You:

  1. The firm belief in yourself and your ability to earn more money; as much as you need, when you need it. In the money emotions world, this is commonly referred to as an abundance mindset.
  2. No shame. Shame breeds bad money decisions. When we feel ashamed of our past choices, we lose belief in ourselves (number 1) and start to make decisions that move us away from our end goal.

If I wouldn’t have had those beliefs, I would have taken out my 401(k) to stay home with my baby, and then stayed home. I wouldn’t have felt confident investing some of that money in starting my coaching business.

In full transparency, I did feel some shame around my decision. The world we live in values people based on their income, and going from a high-paying job to the lowest-paying job in existence (motherhood) did leave me with some guilt and shame. But as I worked through it, I realized the power that lies in making a decision that you know is right for you and disregarding any critics who just don’t value those choices in the same way.

Money Coaching Is the Help I Wish I Had

That’s what I help my clients do: turn leaps of faith into leaps of financial confidence.

I can now look back on my decision to empty my 401(k) as an investment in myself, my family, and my business. When you make a money decision that is right for you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, and you have the belief in yourself to back it up, there is no limit to the success that follows.

No one should get to the desperate place I found myself in. We should encourage people to use their money to prepare for big life changes, whatever they might be, instead of solely focusing on the traditional savings goals.

I can help you create your own model of financial success, so you don’t have to take out your 401(k) to follow your dreams.




Helping you believe in and build the life you love.

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Amy Schultz

Amy Schultz

Helping you believe in and build the life you love.

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