It was a risky move that ultimately paid off.
- In my 20s, I quit a stressful finance job to seek out creative work.
- Through careful planning and saving, I managed that transition without having a replacement job right away.
My first job out of college was stressful. I worked as an associate at a hedge fund, and that often meant dealing with competing demands, working long hours, and managing tricky personalities.
After five years of holding down that gig, I’d decided I’d had enough. And so I put in my resignation at a time when I didn’t have a replacement job lined up.
Now as someone who tends to be financially conservative, that’s a move I normally wouldn’t make. But here’s how I managed to pull it off without taking a financial hit.
It’s all about careful planning
The reason I quit my job without having another one was simple. My hedge fund job was in New York City, and I was moving across the river to live with my now-husband in New Jersey. Until I made that move, job-hunting in another state wasn’t easy. So I quit the hedge fund gig, settled into my new home, and then focused on finding a new role. (To be clear, I could’ve commuted from New Jersey to that hedge fund office. But seeing as how I was miserable there, I wasn’t interested in going that route.)
I didn’t quit that job impulsively, though. Rather, I planned things out ahead of time and took several steps to help ensure that the transition would be smooth.
First, I beefed up my emergency fund. I’d already had a decent chunk of money in my savings account. But when I realized I was serious about moving to New Jersey and quitting my job, I boosted my savings even more.
Next, I ramped up my side hustle work. Even though I started off my career in finance, I was always drawn to writing and work that was more creative. And so I’d gotten into the habit of taking on writing gigs on the side to get that experience, and to boost my income. When I quit my hedge fund job, I wasn’t completely without work — I just didn’t have full-time work.
I also sat down with my husband to discuss finances, knowing that I’d not only be without a full-time income for a bit, but that also, I’d be bearing the cost of having to pay for health insurance — a benefit that was fully subsidized by my employer until I quit. My husband agreed that he’d continue paying the mortgage on the house and the utility bills, since he was used to cover those expenses anyway. That, too, made it easier to quit without a replacement job lined up.
Don’t just rush into things
These days, a lot of people are quitting their jobs in search of better opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with going after a new job, and you may decide that working while job hunting just isn’t feasible. But if you’re going to resign without a new job lined up, make sure you’re in a strong enough financial position to cover your costs while you look for work. And you may want to pick up a side hustle like I did to have some income coming in.
Leaving that hedge fund job was scary because I knew I was throwing away a good paycheck and job security. But the stress of that job made it unsustainable, so I’m glad I made the decision to quit. I also don’t regret leaving without a replacement job, because ultimately, I did what I had to do to protect myself financially during that transition.
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