Not that I recommend this, but sometimes it happens. Such is my life at this moment.
Summer always feels like a season for new or majorly changing things in my life. School ends for the summer, moving home or to some new place, and reconnecting with old friends all seem to be some of my most fond summer memories. Summer of 2016 is proving to be a major season change in my life – I actively chose to abandon my full-time job without a solid fall back plan in place. At the beginning of June, I turned in my three weeks notice and I’ve reached the point where I’m choosing to actively be unemployed full-time. I’m still working my bar gigs and random other side gigs, but I’ve dropped my stable income because I value my time, skills, and sanity. I first dropped this bomb in my post titled What Financial Health Means to Me.
WARNING: Long post ahead!
I was working in a full-time hourly job at a large (the largest in its particular field) non-profit organization, but I had been considering an escape for months. I think the first time I mentioned it on here was during the winter – so this has been something that was a long time coming. I’d been applying and interviewing at various places for quite some time, but nothing was really equal enough to take the leap. Finally, I chose to give it up for various reasons: increasing demands (giving us managerial level work) without increasing compensation, not allowing me and my teammates to use the accrued benefits we’d earned, expecting us to “work” in off times, and so on and so on. Needless to say, the time had come to wrap up my time there and take a wild leap into the unknown.
So, here I am, NOT employed full-time anymore. Don’t worry, I don’t look like the guy in the graphic above. However, this is not something I entered into lightly. This reflects something I pondered and planned for almost six months. I know that the specifics of my situation will not work for every one, but here are a few things to consider when leaving the secure 9-5 job and how to fill your time once you’ve broken out of the shackles.
- Save up cash! Don’t just quit your job if you don’t have any other income and no savings. I told myself I needed at least two months or rent and two months of car payments if I was even going to consider taking the leap without another job lined up. I HIT THAT NUMBER plus a little extra, so I was less stressed about taking a hike. I also work in a bar and do freelance work, so I’m able to pay all of my other bills. I also cashed out A LOT (really, A LOT) of unused PTO time, so I had even more buffer to my budget. Be ready to cut discretionary spending because you won’t have income available.
- Health Needs! Prescriptions can cost A LOT of money, but if you’re lucky, some prescriptions can be given out in larger amounts (like 2, 3, or 6 month supplies). That’s what I did; I take one specific medication that I was able to request a 6 month supply of, so hopefully I will have enough insurance in 6 months to renew the prescription without breaking the bank. Do you have FSA funds? I did and had to use them quickly! I was able to buy another year’s worth of contacts and stock up on other items that I might need over the next few months. Look at what Health Care Marketplace options you will be eligible for when you take a dip in income. Fortunately, I’m pretty healthy so I’m not looking for very detailed plans. Luckily, I qualify for a few very cheap (less than $30/month) plans so I’m not worried about covering a few months on my own.
- Student Loans! As soon as I put in my notice, I submitted an Income Based Repayment application that was based on my bar gig. That change in income was enough for me to make my payments $0 for the time being.
- Make plans for your open days! Seriously, don’t just sit around and putter once you leave your job. It’s all too easy to sit on your butt and feel bad about not working. Don’t do it! Remember that this moment will pass and you won’t always be unemployed. Apply to jobs, take a class, declutter, make lunch/coffee dates, update your social media and networking profiles – don’t sit and wait for opportunities. Keep busy and keep improving yourself.
- Spend time with friends and loved ones! When will you have as much time to spend with them again? Take advantage of the free time when you can.
- Read a book! Personal development or for fun, take in some literature. It’s good for you.
- Take time to pause! Really, I mean it – stop to pause. I was in a job that was high energy 24/7 and I loved it. I worked 6-7 days most weeks, but the work was rewarding. I cried and grieved upon leaving, but I knew that I was making the right choice. Take the time to appreciate the hard work that you did and the relationships and friendships that you built. Take the time to refresh and figure out the next step.
- Remember this is only a speed bump! I’ve applied to many jobs and interviewed for a few as well, so I’m confident I will replace my income soon enough. I’ve been hustling at my freelance and bar gigs as well, so even if I don’t head back into full-time employment immediately, I’ll still be ok.
I’m working hard to remember these things as I enjoy this downtime from working every single day. I’ve got a night directing gig that is keeping some structure to my days, but the peace and quiet has been extremely refreshing. I don’t quite know what I’ll be doing with all this downtime, but I’m hoping that I’ll learn something new about myself and what I’m really looking forward to in a new job. Maybe I’ll win the lottery? Maybe I’ll decide to move in with my boyfriend (he’s been trying)? Now that I’m not tied to a full-time job, I’m considering a lot of ‘what if’ situations. I could go many directions and I know that ultimately I will have to make some choices. Today is not that day. Today, I’m enjoying a day off and a free comedy event tonight. I’ll worry when I need to.
That said, you should Hire Me for something! 😉
In the comments, share your best career or job hunting tips!