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Creating the Perfect Exit: Leaving Your Job (If You Must)

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Iguazú Falls, Argentina

In my post Creating the Perfect Exit: Preparing, I talked about the importance of getting ready for making a big move. Once you are prepared, the next step is to either leave your work permanently or propose a way you can have more freedom but still work for the same company. As a nurse, there are several options for working remotely if you work with a travel nurse agency that sends you to locations for only short contracts. When I decided I wanted a change, however, I was a long term employee of the hospital I worked for making it difficult to find remote work options. When I decided to make my big move, I had been working for the same hospital for four years, and I wanted a break or a change, but I wasn’t sure if I officially wanted to leave my job yet. I also wasn’t sure if I still wanted to be a nurse. Here are a few of the options I explored which apply not only to nursing, but other jobs as well. Eventually, I decided to quit my job, but it is always good to explore your options first before severing your main source of income.

Ask for a leave of absence: I had been working as a nurse for about three years when I first asked for a three month leave of absence to travel. My leave of absence was not accepted, but I know several people who have done it successfully. Depending on where you live, people can usually take anywhere from three to six months off but still have a job waiting for them when they return. This is a nice option if you need something a little more stable and enjoy the work you are already doing. If you have vacation pay, you can use this usually during your leave of absence to provide you some income even though you are not working.

Look forward to layoffs and voluntary separations: In the current economy, people cringe when they hear the word layoff, but getting laid off might just be your ticket to freedom. Several countries provide aid to those who have been laid off while they search for a new job. Apply for the appropriate programs if you can apply to receive aid and travel while you search for your new dream job. I took a voluntary separation from my work which means that my job asked people to voluntarily quit in exchange for a chunk of money. The benefit of a voluntary separation for a business is that they can avoid the dirty word “layoff” while still getting rid of people and trimming the budget. For me, the chunk of money I was given was just what I needed to get started on my travels.

Retire early: After four years of working and investing 3% of my pay check into a retirement account, I decided to take all that money out and invest it on living the life I wanted to right now. I used the money to pay off the remainder of my loan debt and to travel the world for a year without working. I have met too many people who waited to explore the world until retirement only to have grandchildren to care for, cancer to treat, and foreclosures on their home. I know few people who by the time they retired had the time, money, or health to go on that after retirement trip around the world. Retirement accounts are good to have while you are working at a place for a long time, and I recommend investing in one, but don’t feel obligated to keep an account until you are too old to enjoy it. You will be penalized for taking the money out early, but there are ways around additional fees for the early withdrawal such as removing the money the next year so it does not count towards your overall income of the previous year when you do taxes. Also, you can often take loans out from your own retirement account up to half the amount of your total investment. Of course these things will vary from one retirement account to another, but just make sure to ask about your options. If you take out a loan from your retirement account, you will have to pay monthly payments and interest. However, these are monthly payments and interest to yourself, not to a bank or the government, and there are no penalties as long as you repay the loan by the designated time. In the end, you won’t loose money, you will gain money, and you can fund a retirement lifestyle right now instead of waiting for a far-off date.

Written by: Beth Ann Nyssen

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Filed under Location Independence, Preparing to Breakaway, Work and Business

Creating the Perfect Exit: Preparing

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Portland, Oregon, United States

Breaking away from the daily grind has been a gradual, lifelong process, but I would say that it took three years to be in a situation where I could consider it and one year to make it happen after deciding to do it. At any time during those four years, I could have broken away. However, I had personal barriers emotionally, mentally, and physically that I needed to work through before feeling good about my final decision to leave my old life behind. Here are some bits of wisdom I learned over the years about preparing for the perfect exit.


Pay off your debt: After nursing school, my focus was to pay off my loan debt. I grew up with a father who ingrained in me that any kind of debt was unacceptable debt. If you owed money, you did not just pay the minimum, you paid the maximum you could. So while several of my friends were thinking about expensive weddings and buying new cars and houses after university, I focused on paying off college loan debt. I rarely paid the minimum and usually payed quadruple my designated monthly payment. Credit cards were not something I would even consider using unless I had an emergency, and then I would pay them off in full each month. I spent the money I had, and that was it. I never had much saved in my bank, but I also had less accrued interest and overall debt than several of my peers. Now, I have zero debt, and nothing will make you feel more free than that.


Donate all your stuff and claim it on your taxes: My friend told me, “You only need to keep one thing to remember each person.” This insight helped me to move past the staring at things phase and into the saying good-by to things phase. Letting go of personal items is like loosing parts of your self. Each item represents a memory in your life. The beautiful thing is that once you get rid of everything you can finally see your true identity, separate from the past, the butterfly you have become. You can sell things to fund your new life or you can donate them and deduct them from your taxes. Storing them is also an option, but I personally am a strong supporter of the clean getaway. I made thousands of dollars in refunds on my taxes by donating everything I owned and then deducting those items. I felt this was a lot easier than taking pictures of all the items and trying to sell them on a site like Craigslist. Give your stuff to someone who needs it more than you and reap the benefits as well. Satisfaction will replace any remorse you have at loosing your material items. You will not only have less stuff dragging you down, but you will receive a nice fat refund check at tax time while seeing that your things are more appreciated by people who really need them.

Save money: Having lots of money saved is not necessary to travel and start a new career working remotely, but it certainly makes everything easier. Tell yourself you will save a certain amount each month and stick to the plan. If you choose to cut out some expensive fun activities, you can always replace them with cheap fun activities. I like spending money on fun experiences and probably could have left earlier if I did not, but I don’t regret my decision. However, if you want to get out fast, change your financial priorities and get creative with your social time. Maybe you will sacrifice some adventures, but you might just surprise yourself with the ones that pop up instead that are totally free. Think outside the box. Instead of going out to a restaurant, have a picnic in the park or instead of going swimming at the pool, spend a day at the river or a nearby lake.

Written by: Beth Ann Nyssen

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Filed under Preparing to Breakaway