May 8, 2009
Are you thinking, “I can’t afford to take a career break?” One of the biggest challenges people face in taking time off is how to finance it. There are many ways to fund your freedom.
Maybe you fear that tapping your savings will leave you vulnerable. Maybe you need to continue your health insurance from your employer. Maybe you are fearful that you won’t find another job. Or maybe you fear criticism from your family and friends. And in this economic environment, you are afraid to “rock the boat.”
We are hoping you’ll share ways you funded your time off with us in this Blog. Here are a few ways we personally funded our times off as well as ways we heard from others. Think of it as three categories of financial support: saving for your break; making money during the break; and cutting expenses while on your break.
Saving for Your Break:
Some people fund their time off using some of their vacation, education, or travel savings funds. Or they tap their severance packages, if they are lucky enough to get them. Or they use some “windfall” such as bonuses, inheritances, family gifts, or tax refunds. Some create a “sabbatical fund” and ask family and friends to contribute in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts.
Financing a Sabbatical While On One:
Earning money while on sabbatical is another way to fund your freedom. Start with discussions with your current employer to see if they will fund all or part of your time off, or at least allow you to continue your health insurance and retirement contributions. Other examples are writing for a magazine, getting someone to sponsor your travel blog, working as a travel companion, teaching or doing lectures, or getting a grant for research while you are off. The trick is to not substitute one type of work for another that leaves you with no downtime or room for reflection and renewal.
Costs during a sabbatical should be considered differently than in your ongoing life. The goals is to minimize your costs at home so you can maximize enjoyment from the money you do have and not dig into savings too far. A few examples include:
*Rent or trade your home or apartment
*Prepay big one-time bills such as insurance, taxes, retirement contributions before you take time off
*Sell your car or park it and cancel the insurance temporarily
*Cook in more and choose ethnic restaurants for eating out to explore the experience as well as save money
*Stop your cable service and cancel club fees temporarily and explore other ways to entertain yourself that are free…make it a challenge to see what you can do
*Do budget travel rather than business-type travel and really get to know the country and culture
What stories do you have on how you funded your time off? Please share them with us as well as specific resource ideas.