10 Steps to Financially Prepare for a 6-12 Month Career Break

Updated: Sep 15, 2019

10 Steps to Financially Prepare for a 6-12 Month Career Break

Burned out from you job? I hear ya. Been there a few too many times. It’s no wonder millennials are known as the burnout generation.

Most times, when people want to leave a job, they don’t consider taking a break in-between careers. This then leads to more burn out and the cycle perpetuates.

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Taking a career break is not career suicide.

I quit my job without another lined up several times. Though it was scary to be “unemployed by choice”, I needed the career break for my overall sanity.

At first, I was afraid of quitting my job without another one lined up. But I was so burned out from my corporate job.

It was to the point that it was hard to bring myself to make time to job search, update LinkedIn, edit resumes, schedule interviews, and so forth. It’s no joke when they say job searching is a full-time job.

So I quit first.

I used the time off to get my health, sanity and life back in alignment. And it sparked my interest in getting my finances in order too. I realized that I did not want to rely solely on an employer for a paycheck and health insurance.

Eventually, I kept working on my personal finances and I was able to reach retirement at 35! Yep, I got FIRE’d….financial independence retire early (FIRE) that is.

So there was that unexpected benefit from taking time off to heal. What came out of that Eat, Pray, Love soul searching journey was the start of my path to FIRE.

Career breaks can propel you forward even further than if you were to go directly into another job.

If I hadn’t had a break, I would not have lasted very long in my next career. I need the time off to gain clarity on what I wanted the next chapter of my professional life to look like.

Most importantly, I needed the space to get clear on what career fulfillment meant for me. I wouldn’t have been able to find stillness and tap into my intuition if I had gone directly into another job.

Before you resign, apply a holistic approach to develop your career roadmap.

The key is to mentally, emotionally, physically and energetically prepare as much as possible in advance. Even without a Plan B lined up, you can still do a lot of heavy lifting.

So do yourself a favor and give yourself options. Start with getting your finances in order ASAP so that you have more options!

Financial Checklist for Your Career Break:

10 Steps to Financially Prepare for a 6-12 Month Career Break

1. Determine your current financial position.

Get clear on your numbers. Understand your financial position in order to prepare yourself for the months following your resignation. This includes having a plan for debt management to planning ways to create positive cash flow.

2. Set up a protection plan.

What’s the worst case scenario? How are you going to protect yourself with your current resources, cash flow and insurance? For health care coverage, look into Healthcare.gov and PolicyGenius.com.

3. Get clear on your short-term financial goals.

What are your short-term goals (5-10 years)? Specifically, what’s your planned timeline to re-enter the workforce? Do you plan to buy a home in which you would need more liquidity in assets for that down payment?

4. Have a rough idea of your long-term financial goals.

It’s hard to plan so far out in advance. Anything can happen in the next few months. But it’s still important to have a rough idea of your long-term financial goals in order to have a foundation for your future.

What are your long-term goals (10 plus years)? Do you see yourself staying in the same industry? Same city? Starting a family?

5. Build beyond an emergency fund.

Remember, it’s not just about having all kinds of (sometimes unnecessary) insurance in case the worse case scenario happens.

At the very least, have a 6-9 month emergency fund to cover basic living expenses. Here’s how I built my emergency fund in under 6 months.

Next, see if you can take it a step further. Can you establish an emergency fund in addition to your money saved for an extended time off? This brings us to the next item on the checklist...

6. Get creative with ideas in this gig economy.

The gig economy centers around the concept of creating an income from short-term tasks. This encompasses those who are full-time independent contractors to those who moonlight by driving for Uber or Lyft several hours a week.

Are there any part-time opportunities that you may consider taking on in order to explore a different industry? Any fun side hustles you’ve been thinking about trying? What are ways you can create passive income with your current resources and skill sets?

7. Track your expenses closely.

To provide a longer runway for your career break, take a closer look at your numbers to pinpoint any unnecessary expenses. What can be cut starting now?

8. Cash is king.

Do you have money in a brokerage account? Money in brokerage can be converted into cash before your quit to minimize risk of market volatility.

9. Plan meaningful activities in advance.

Too much of a good thing isn’t always good. For instance, free time.

It may seem that not having to wake up to an alarm to fight rush hour traffic is living the dream. But over time, unstructured days and no meaningful activities can lead to anxiety, loneliness and guilt.

To prepare for “too much of a good thing”, have a plan for your time off. Allot a set amount of time to job search, explore different career tracks, experiment with different side hustles, spend time with family and friends, attend networking events, travel, and so forth.

10. Diversify your identity.

When it comes to job changes, there is usually an existential crisis that follows too. Many of us derive a sense of identity from our careers. The solution?

Diversify your identity. For instance, outside of my 9-5 job, I’m a blogger, yoga teacher, Reiki Master, friend, mentor, entrepreneur, etc.

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10 Steps to Financially Prepare for a 6-12 Month Career Break