How I Earned $13K Without Working in 2022

Early on in my career break, I shared with you that I socked away $30K in cash to fund year one, and I just revealed how I lived on $27K in 2022. So… $30K minus $27K = leaves just $3K left for me to work with in 2023, right? Not exactly.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve… dominos I put in place in years past. Remember how I’ve shared on my blog how I lived beneath my means, aggressively saving and investing for several years, in order to do what I’m doing now… you know, leave the rat race behind to recharge, travel, and explore my own creative endeavors?

Well, here’s some math: the choices I’ve made helped me “earn” ~$13K in 2022 without a job, real estate, or lifting a finger (except for a few clicks of my mouse).

How I earned money during my sabbatical

Here are a couple of my income-producing strategies being out of work:

Passive income

Surprise! I earned $4.9K in dividends, capital gain distributions, and interest in 2022 — by letting my invested money work for me.

Not under the mattress, not in a checking account or high-yield savings account (basically, cash), but INVESTED in my various investment accounts — brokerage, Rollover IRA, and Roth IRA!

So, even though the total market was down approximately ~20% in 2022, my particular investment mix earned me $4.9K in dividends, capital gain distributions, and interest. And since I don’t need to pull it out quite yet, I’ll continue to earn on the money I earned (seriously, compounding is amazing). For what it’s worth, I also had some capital losses in 2022 (but I had more gains).

Tax advantaging

In 2022, I also converted $7.7K in Rollover IRA funds into my Roth IRA, a process which creates “earned income.” So even though this isn’t **net new** money (because I made it during another year of work), according to the IRS, the year it’s converted is the year it’s earned!

What I did was this: Back when I had a job, I had a percentage of my pre-tax salary go right into my 401K, before I got each paycheck. And because these contributions were automatic, I didn’t even really see the money (of which my employer matched 3%). In the year I contributed, my taxable income was lowered, which was great at the time because I was a high-earner. (You don’t pay taxes on 401K funds until they’re withdrawn, OR, converted to a post-tax Roth IRA.) And since I’m in a rock-bottom tax bracket, 2022 was the perfect time to make a conversion! (All of this is a very simplistic summary — google Roth conversion for more!)

Side note: No matter what, you should totally take advantage of your company match and contribute to your 401K every year. Let that compound until retirement age, baby!

Ok, that brings us to about $13K in “earned” income. How else did I make money in 2022?

Mentoring clients

I took on about a dozen paying clients who wanted personalized and dedicated 1:1 time with me to talk through the logistics or emotions of their various escape plans. It was so rewarding to be up-close-and-personal with some of your journeys, and make a little extra $ for sharing my expertise. Thank you for the opportunity to help!


I was gifted or discounted a handful of experiences and hotel stays through partnerships I forged with individual proprietors, or companies such as Mexcovery and the Budapest Tourism Board, which were all things I would’ve otherwise paid for. (Unlike the jewelry people who annoyingly DM me on Instagram once a week.) One of the advantages to my blog and social channels is that it does come with a little clout, allowing me to experience some very cool things at or below cost, WHILE highlighting great businesses and fun excursions at the same time. (If you’re reading this blog and have an opportunity for me in which you see alignment, send me a message!)

My blog was reader-supported

I received donations on Venmo/PayPal from some of my generous readers, anywhere from $5 to $100 — THANK YOU SO MUCH for supporting my lifestyle and keeping me going! Content creation takes a tremendous amount of time, and what I actually earn through affiliate links and ads is nowhere near what it costs to host my website and adjacent tools — I really appreciate your recognition and contributions. You guys are the best.

I donated plasma!

While I was stuck in Kansas waiting for my twice-postponed Mexican residency appointment, I decided to donate plasma. I went twice in 2022 and earned a total of $230. (And if you’re a fainter like me and think you could never — hey, I only fainted the first time, and they let me come back!) Who knew you could make such a sizable amount of money in the hour it takes to donate?

What will 2023 bring in terms of income?

If it’s not yet clear, there’s no going back to the corporate life for me — my time is too valuable, and I want to spend it how I want to. And as long as I have “enough” to get by, I’ll be fine. That being said, I am going to be partnering with a few organizations that I believe in. (More to come!)

BECAUSE: Life is not about having the maximum amount of money. It’s about having the maximum amount of life. 💖

My investing reading recommendations

I don’t pretend to be an expert in finance, and none of this should be construed as financial advice — in fact, I probably made a couple flubs on verbiage in this very blog. The good news is, there are much smarter and much more experienced folks who have written books on investing and financial independence, which I will share with you now. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. Thank you and enjoy!

Feel free to share any advice you might have for my readers and I in a comment!

⭐ Want to join me for an upcoming webinar and Q&A where I dig deep into budgeting, spending, and my best travel tips? Get the info and RSVP here.

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