Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Ditching a $500,000 salary to teach lit

gary_buslik.top.jpgThen: Entrepreneur; Now: College lecturer By Josh Hyatt, contributor


(Money Magazine) -- When Gary Buslik graduated from college with a degree in English, his parents were concerned about how he'd earn a decent living. "It worried them to hear me quoting Shakespeare," he jokes.

Their fears were misplaced: Buslik went on to start an alarm company in Chicago that would eventually grow to $6 million in annual sales and earn him $500,000 a year. But he wasn't happy. "My passion was literature, not alarm systems," he says.

So when Buslik turned 50, in 1997, he sold his business (for several million bucks) in order to pursue that passion. With a recommendation from a pal who was an assistant dean, he got into the English Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In return for his work as a TA, the school waived his tuition.

Buslik graduated in 2007 and now teaches there part-time while writing books on the side. He makes just $13,500 a year, but "I've never regretted my decision," he says. "I'm content to be sending Shakespeare lovers into the world."

How he did it

1. By taking the first good offer.

In putting his company up for sale, he didn't wait around for the best price. "I could've held out for more money," Buslik says, "but I wanted to get on with my plans."

2. By investing conservatively.

Expecting slim future wages, Buslik paid off his mortgage and put much of his savings in ultra-safe I bonds, which are indexed to inflation.

3. By drawing down cautiously.

A divorce cut into his nest egg, but Buslik figures his savings will last him if he's careful. "I'm not a flashy guy," he says, noting that he still drives a 1986 Mercedes.  To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.63%3.68%
15 yr fixed2.76%2.79%
5/1 ARM2.97%2.94%
30 yr refi3.66%3.72%
15 yr refi2.79%2.82%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,891.16 117.52 0.66%
Nasdaq 4,817.59 42.24 0.88%
S&P 500 2,081.43 16.13 0.78%
Treasuries 1.86 0.05 2.53%
Data as of 7:13am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 14.77 0.21 1.44%
Ford Motor Co 13.62 0.06 0.44%
Apple Inc 93.64 -0.10 -0.11%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 13.55 -0.45 -3.21%
Frontier Communicati... 5.44 -0.12 -2.16%
Data as of May 2

Sections

Johnson & Johnson has suffered a second costly court defeat over claims its talcum powder caused cancer, and that may be only the beginning. More

It's getting worse for Puerto Rico. The island defaulted on $422 million in bonds related to its Government Development Bank on Monday. Congress is currently debating an aid package for the island. More

Tech leaders Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft all disappointed Wall Street with their latest earnings reports. And that's dragged the Nasdaq back near correction territory. Is this the beginning of another huge pullback or an overreaction? More

Visa says new software will allow consumers to check out with chip cards as fast as swiping a card with magnetic strip. More