August and September were incredibly hectic as I prepared to leave Long Beach for a two week vacation in Japan and a six month internship in Costa Rica. I was inspired to write the post below in the middle of my Japan visit because I felt so incredibly lucky to be in an island in Osaka, Japan.
Originally written October 3, 2017
At the end of August I was dreading resigning from my well paying job. The position I took on at the beginning of July was going very well; part of me felt sad to walk away from it. “What do you do?” is usually the question right after, “What’s your name?” Walking away from a job can definitely be a bit of a loss of identity. That in itself can stop many people from leaving an unsatisfying job. But to be frank for me the fear was losing the money. Leaving my job actually moved me closer to my true work identity of holistic financial planning.
I left my employer ten days shy of four years of continuous employment. Many of the managers I had worked with expressed sadness to see me go. I was surprised and moved when our CEO went out of his way to find out why I was leaving. Everyone was dumbfounded with my new direction. I was able to share the details on the nonprofit I will be volunteering for, but I had little to tell them when I was pressed on the details of what I’ll be doing once I arrive at Fundación Mujer.
My primary purpose will be to learn from the foundation and work on my remaining Certified Financial Planning courses. The worst case scenario is that I get to Costa Rica and the nonprofit’s mission does not align with anything I need to do as a financial planner. Best case scenario I get to learn about business plans, learn how to teach consumer empowerment, and spruce up my resume with a very ballsy enterprise. And of course, there are countless other outcomes.
Throughout the summer and up until the last day at work the excitement for the adventure at hand combined with my careful budgeting kept me going whenever the dread of running out money crept into my thoughts. And let me tell, you that dread sometimes felt paralyzing.
Budgeting for Voluntary Unemployment
In the spring of 2017 when I was beginning to plan out this wacky scheme my manager mentioned a possible salary increase once I was settled in a new position. I held my breadth for a couple of months, but I then had to let that hope go in June. At that point I knew I would not be able to meet my original savings target because it had been very optimistic about my potential new salary. I then drafted up a new bare bones budget and was comforted to realize I had enough to carry me through Costa Rica. However, I don’t have enough for the financial conferences I hoped to attend where I could potentially find job leads. I may still be able to attend at least one, maybe more if I can win the scholarships they offer.
September 13, 2017 was my last income producing day, at least for now. That was three weeks ago and it feels so good to be unemployed! I am writing this post in a garden in Osaka, Japan. As I mentioned in 12 Month Sabbatical, one of my best friend’s was one of the catalysts who got me on this sabbatical path. It’s only fitting that I come visit her in her current locale of Kanazawa, Japan.
In order to combat my fear of running out of money I began to track all my expenses as of 9/1/17. September was more expensive that I anticipated because I paid for a lot of Japan’s accommodations ahead of time. Thankfully, my income was also higher than anticipated because I underestimated my vacation payout. Plus a lot of friends gifted me with money as an early 30th birthday gift and for my volunteer trip.
Below is a detailed snapshot of September’s cash flow. For more details on my budgeting categorizations visit my post on it from Feb 2016. I’ve also posted my assets as of the beginning of Sep and of Oct. I will continue to post this throughout the rest of my sabbatical.
The last couple of times I’ve been asked what I do for work I automatically describe my last position. I then go into my upcoming volunteer work, and finish by describing my future dream role in financial planning. Unsurprisingly, this is too much. From now on I’ll only focus on financial planning. I work with people to make sure their cash flow is in line with their goals. I’m their personal resource for all questions related to finances. No one needs to know that currently, I’m my main client.