Money, Money, Money: 5 Steps to your Dream Sabbatical

Written By

Bindu Bhat

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I got curious about the origin of the word ‘Sabbatical’ and discovered that it derives from ‘Sabbath’ that means “Rest or abstinence from work”. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Have you been telling yourself far too often nowadays, “A few years more and I’m off this tread mill!” or, “I’ll retire when I’m 45.”? But do you really want to? Or would you actually prefer to have an option to take a break – longer than the 2 week holiday but shorter than essentially doing nothing.  Now, if that’s where you are, this is just the article for you.

Interestingly, rest as an activity too needs to be planned for and then pursued. So, let’s make this dream of taking a sabbatical into a doable project. And as always, all good projects can be accomplished one step at a time!

Step 1: Ask yourself WHY you want to take a break.

Is it because you feel a little burnt out or do you actually want to take a step back to think about what you are doing? Do you feel like Alice in Wonderland sometimes or like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these or similar questions, it’s good to consider taking a breather and stepping outside for fresh air — literally. You could use the time to help you decide on your career path — a radical path change or taking up greater challenges in the same area.

Step 2: Choose your start date and the duration of your break.

It can be a year, 2 or even 5 years from now. Setting a date lends it the seriousness it merits. You start thinking about it, and discuss it with your family and/or friends you trust.

And like it’s said, discuss it often enough and the very forces of nature will help you achieve it!

Research your options – if your organisation allows you to take a sabbatical, what benefits would you need to give up? Organisations today are beginning to slowly acknowledge and maybe even encourage the fact that some personnel may want to take time off and come back happier and ready to contribute better.  If it does not allow such sabbatical breaks, your option may only be to quit the job.

Step 3: The most critical piece of the story here – Plan your finances.

Your checklist here is:

  • Are you EMI mukt? That is, no loan payments left over when you want to start your sabbatical.
    • If YES, great! Make sure you do not take up ANY loans going forward. If NO, make that your goal immediately.
  • Put an emergency fund in place, and make sure it’s equal to at least 8 -12 months of all expenses including the EMIs/insurances, school fees, vacation costs, etc.
  • Get yourself medical insurance since, if you quit, the company medical insurance will not be available and most medical insurances have a minimum 3 year waiting period for existing medical conditions.
  • Identify the kitty fund you need to create to manage your daily expenses, either
    • You save smartly and build it up
    • Your family is supportive and can adjust to the lesser income
    • Your investments work for you and generate income like dividend income, mutual fund or equity investments, rental income etc.

Step 4: Plan what you would like to do during your sabbatical break.

It of course feels great to do nothing for a short while, but that condition is unlikely to last forever!

  • Identify what you would love to do. It could be volunteering with the Blue Cross or at the local swimming pool as a life guard. Or mentoring intermediate (class XII) students trying to make the decision of their life or writing articles in your line of expertise.
  • If you have developed expertise in your hobbies, now is the time to give it your full attention; be it music, storytelling or paper quilling.
  • If you definitely need to have an income; check if you can take up a part time job. A friend employed as a music teacher in a school discovered that he could teach music on a weekly basis in a multinational company. And draw exactly the same package that he drew while working full time in a school. Trust me, he was as surprised as you are!

Step 5: Plan your exit strategy.

The world is small and you may discover during your sabbatical that you actually did love what you were doing back in the office. It’s nice to keep relationships healthy and not burn bridges.

Take your senior(s) into confidence, and make sure your transition is smooth. Your team will appreciate you greatly for it.

Last but not the least, if you want it GO FOR IT! There will never be a perfect time, but now can be a good time to start working your plan.

If you’d like a sounding board  for your options and for an unbiased opinion, feel free to reach me on bhat.bindu@gmail.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A happy mother-cum-financial-planner-cum educator; community volunteer, avid traveller and history buff; Bindu loves it all. Along with being a mom to her 12 year old, Bindu is also discovering more sides to herself after crossing the '40' milestone and is enjoying the journey thoroughly. Bindu believes that working as a Financial planner gives her the fabulous opportunity of seeing people make positive changes in their money habits. And to catch them young, she conducts financial literacy programs at schools and communities. She's a Mathematics grad and Finance post-grad from Amchi Mumbai, worked with a banking group and a Hyderabad based start up, before finding her niche as a Financial Planner, based in Hyderabad.

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