Hello, I would like some advice. I have been with my present employer for 11 years and have felt for some time that it is time for a change. My conundrum/opportunity is that I'm not certain about my next steps, whether I want to continue doing the same/similar work, or make a major (life) change. Consequently, I am thinking about resigning, taking a month or so to do a cross-country road trip and visit old friends and places I have wanted to for some time, and taking the time and mental freedom to really think of my next job, what I want out of my life, etc. After my road trip, I am thinking of volunteering with a company/NGO doing work which interests me in order to get a better understanding of future possibilities. I am a single 41 year old woman (with no dependents save my dog), have about $85,000 in my 401(k) savings, and an additional $20,000 in savings. Am incredibly fortunate in that I have no debts. Thank you.
Paddy Hirsch May 29, 2013 Senior Editor, Marketplace
Hi! I wonder what other readers think about your situation. A lot of people might say that you're better off staying in a job while you look for a new job, so quitting before you take your month off might be a bit rash. A better option might be to take a month's unpaid leave. That way, if you decide you want to remain in the same business, you have a jumping off point, plus you have an income while you search. And if you do indeed decide to leave that industry, then you can quit once you've lined up your volunteering or internship work.
I would note that $20,000 is not an enormous amount of money for an emergency fund: you'll burn through that cushion pretty quickly if you don't have an income. And the last thing you want to do is raid your 401(k). Avoid that at all costs! So while I applaud your courage, and I'd support your transitioning into a line of work that makes you truly happy, I'd also advise caution. Those are my thoughts. Anyone else have any ideas?