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Thinking of a sabbatical? Here’s a checklist to plan for it.

Thinking of a sabbatical? Here’s a checklist to plan for it.

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If 2021 was the year of The Great Resignation, 2022 is the year of Quiet Quitting. Something about the nine-to-five isn’t sitting well with the Millennial and GenZ workforce of today. Maybe it’s the overworking, the workplace toxicity, or simply a rejection of the corporate way of life. The monthly paycheck, the annual bonus, workplace perks (or if you’re in a remote-work role, the WFH budget) - we seem to want none of it.

There’s a study or two evidencing the fact that Millennials won’t be able to retire before the age of 70. With a life expectancy of 85, that’s just 15 years of retirement. Contrast that against close to 50 years of working, retired life isn’t looking particularly appealing at this point. 

Sabbaticals: It’s like retiring in installments

New York-based designer Stefan Sagmeister argued in his TED Talk from 2009 that it was better to split up your retirement years and spread them across your career. Too much? Too privileged? Perhaps not.

While Sagmeister used his sabbatical years to upskill, you could do just about anything that you’d do if you actually retired. But while you do that, who’s going to keep the lights on? Who’s going to put food on the table? Well, you.

The sabbatical planner checklist

You can conquer the world with a spreadsheet. Punch in the numbers, write out a couple of simple formulae, are you’re good to waltz off into the sabbatical sunset. Use this checklist to get yourself sabbatical-ready:

  1. Sum up your current monthly expenses
  2. Trim the excesses
  3. Work out your saving plan
  4. Pay off or avoid any unbudgeted debt
  5. Plan for a lean sabbatical
  6. Do some housekeeping

Sum up your current monthly expenses

This may seem like a mammoth task, but one place to start would be your bank statements. Download your statements (from all your bank accounts) and paste them into your spreadsheet. Make sure all the expenses from the start to the end of the month are on it.

Next, in a new column, type out the particulars to each transaction - Shopping, rent, tickets, etc. This should give you an overview of how much you’re spending each month. Broadly, the one thing this should leave you with is an idea of how much you’re spending where. Like say, 30% or more on shopping, or 50% in just living costs like rent. 

If you’re on Fi Money, you should be able to see your expenses auto-categorised on the app.

Trim the excesses

The hard part is done. Now you should be able to see the truth clear as day. Spending too much eating out? Maybe think about hiring a cook, if the math works out. Or simply learn to cook. 

This might be where you take a few hard calls and cut out a few expenses altogether, especially ones you’re not using at all. Like a premium subscription service that you barely use anymore.

Work out a saving plan

By the end of the previous step, you should be able to arrive at a more realistic monthly budget. What was ₹60k a month may now be ₹53k. Doable. 

Now, let’s work backwards from the number of years or months you’d like a sabbatical for. 12 months? You’ll need 12 x ₹53K = ₹6.36 lakh

A 6-month break will do? That’s ₹3.18 lakh

Life isn’t that straightforward, though. Bake in a 20% probability of going over budget on living costs for reasons beyond your control. Like say, petrol prices go up, or you’re forced to move to a locality where rent is lower, but help is expensive. Your ₹3.18L could now be a ₹3.81L

Speaking of saving, parking these hard-earned savings in a bank account FD is so 1985. You could use this Mutual Funds Goals calculator to help you with the math, and invest in a mutual fund on Fi Money. There are over 800 funds to choose from, with smart, intuitive filters that help you pick the right fund for your needs.

Pay off (or avoid) any unbudgeted debt

Let’s say there’s a long-term loan whose EMIs are part of your monthly expenses; that’s cool. It’s all part of the plan. What we’re talking about here is debt you haven’t accounted for.

Like say EMIs that you may sign up for between now and your sabbatical. You either budget those in, or cancel them out. 

This step ensures you’re headed towards your break with minimal uncertainties.

Plan for a lean sabbatical

‘Lean’ here isn’t the same as low budget. By all means, have your indulgences. A holiday, a change in lifestyle - all good, as long as it’s the budget you’ve just worked out.

This step is about preparing some breathing room. If you’re living in an expensive flat because it’s close to your workplace, you might want to consider moving some place cheaper and farther out. You could go even more frugal on this and maybe re-negotiate your cook’s work load so they come only 3 times a week instead of all day. Or even better, do the cooking yourself if you’re up for it. The idea with this step is to ensure you let go of things you may not really need or use during a sabbatical.

Do some housekeeping

This is housekeeping of the figurative sort we’re referring to. Which means, ensure all the essentials are in place so that you’re ready to hit the job market once you’re finished with your sabbatical.

This would include but is not limited to:

  1. Updating your resume
  2. Preparing to upskill during your sabbatical (if that’s something you’re okay with)
  3. Making a note of jobs you might be interested in (this may largely be an ongoing process)
  4. Writing cover letters and versions of your resume ready for these different jobs

Summing up

A sabbatical isn’t easy. But god knows we need one every now and then. Don’t wait until you burn out, or just cannot drag yourself out of bed to go to work. Also, taking a break to recharge isn’t the only reason to head out on a sabbatical; it’s a great time for some personal pursuits too - like studying further, or just raising a child. Whatever the case, doing a little math before shooting off that resignation letter will have you covered, and you’ll thank yourself for it in more ways than you could imagine.

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