In 2015, Alicia Kennedy, then 29, quit her steady job as a copy editor at New York Magazine, cashed out her 401(k) and became a freelance writer and editor, specializing in cocktails, vegan food and the intersection of food and politics.
It was a risky move financially but Kennedy, now 32, says it was right for her. "I've definitely learned that I care more about my quality of life than the quality of my bank account," she tells CNBC Make It.
Three years later, Kennedy still makes her living as a freelancer, earning around $50,000 a year. Additionally, she's working on a book proposal on the history of veganism, which she hopes to sell. In June, she started "Meatless: A Podcast About Eating," in which she interviews chefs and writers about their relationships to animal products. It only costs $12 to produce and distribute, and it brings in $80 a month via the project's Patreon page.
There have been some setbacks: One of Kennedy's biggest shocks came after her first year as a freelancer, when she saw the amount she owed in taxes. Despite budgeting $3,000 for the expense, she owed more than $5,000. Her dad ended up paying that bill for her.
Still, despite those challenges and despite New York's notoriously high cost of living, Kennedy says she's able to live comfortably in Brooklyn on her salary. Ideally, she'd like to earn more, develop a financial cushion, feel more stable and spend more time traveling.