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Escape the 9 to 5 With Your Own Smalltopia: An Interview with Tammy Strobel

October 17, 2010

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Tammy Strobel runs the highly successful simple-living blog Rowdy Kittens – Social Change through Simple Living.

Her work has recently been featured in both the New York Times and the Today Show on

Five years ago, Tammy lived what she called the ‘normal middle class’ suburban lifestyle.

She and her husband were living in a two-bedroom apartment, driving two cars, commuting long distances to work and living well beyond their means.

Realising that there was ‘too much stuff and too much stress’ in her life she decided to reassess her values and priorities.  As a result, she decided to quit her job, rid her life of debt and clutter and strike out on a new minimalist path, becoming both happier and, in her own words ‘psychologically lighter’ in the process.

Tammy has just published an inspirational new e-book called Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself.

Last week, I was lucky enough to interview Tammy about her new book and how her philosophy could inspire Rainy Day Wonder readers to realise their dream of escaping the rat race.

So, without further ado, here it is!


Andrew: Can you briefly describe what a Smalltopia is to the Rainy Day Wonder Readers?

Tammy: Smalltopia is a practical guide to working for yourself. The guide reviews tips, tools, and strategies that will help folks leave a traditional 9-5 job and create personal freedom through a very small business. The guide is broken up into three sections: Smalltopia Philosophy, Smalltopia Essentials, and Smalltopia Case Studies.

The part I’m most excited about is the case study section. It features stories from more than a dozen folks that run the gamut of experience. From those who are just getting ready to break up with their day job, to crazy successful small business owners. The list of rockstar contributors include: Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Jessica Reeder, Chris O’Byrne, Russ Roca, Laura Crawford, Karol Gajda, Chloe Adeline, Victoria Vargas, Karen Yaeger, Jules Clancy, Heather Levin, Matt Cheuvront, Tyler Tervooren and Everett Bogue.

Andrew: Imagine I’m a typical reader of Rainy Day Wonder, why would I want to create a Smalltopia?

Tammy: Creating a Smalltopia will give you the freedom to pursue your dreams and the ability to live life on your own terms.

Andrew: You recently quit your job in order to strike out on your own.  Why did you decide that working for other people wasn’t your thing?

Tammy: I’ve been really lucky to work for a number of amazing organizations over the last 10 years. When I left college I started working in the investment management industry and decided to leave that field and start working with victims of crime. Helping people is my passion and that passion wasn’t being fulfilled in the investment world. So, I’ve spent the last 10 years doing everything from counselling victims of crime to public policy advocacy.

However, I was starting to feel burnt out and decided that it was time to make a big career change. Starting my own small business allowed me create a work environment where I had the freedom to set my own schedule and work when I feel creative. And that is very empowering.

Andrew: In Smalltopia you talk about the importance of diversifying your income sources – something that’s also very important to us here at Rainy Day Wonder.  How important is it to have multiple streams of income?

Tammy: I believe having multiple streams of income is essential to financial security. For example, my income streams currently come from freelance writing projects, books sales, consulting, and affiliate sales. For instance, if my freelance writing projects decrease one month, I can easily take on more consulting work.

Like life, the economy is always changing and it’s essential to be able to adapt.

Andrew: How has living a simpler life contributed towards building your successful Smalltopia?

Tammy: Living a simpler lifestyle caused me to rethink ‘normal.’  And that meant rethinking my relationship with work, stuff, and money.  As a result, I’ve been able to take on risks that wouldn’t have been possible in my past life (a life that was filled with too much stuff and debt).

Andrew: What is one action that our readers can take to move towards escaping the rat race and building a Smalltopia of their own?

Tammy: Get out of debt! This is the number 1 key to creating a freedom business. If you have a lot of debt, it’s going to be extremely hard to escape the rat race.

If you have debt here are a few money saving ideas to consider:

1. Sell your car.

2. Stop trying to impress other people.

3. Live within your means.

4. Read Your Money or Your Life.

5. And if you’re struggling ask for help!


You can check out Tammy’s inspiring new e-book Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself here.


If you liked this interview, you might like to know that over the next week or so I’ll also be publishing an exclusive interview with Leo Babauta, creator of the Top 25 blog Zen Habits and author of the seminal book The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life.

Don’t miss out! Remember to subscribe to free RSS or email updates (by clicking on the button at the top of the page) or please send this post on to your friends – especially if they moan about their job a lot …  If you use Twitter or Facebook, ‘retweeting’ or ‘liking’ this would also be a great help – sharing is the only way for me to reach new readers – thanks!


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