No matter your age, there might come a point in your career when you feel the need to take a gap year. You want to spend some time traveling, to learn a new skill, to spend time with your family, or just to relax and reap some of the rewards of the work you’ve done so far. But how can you prepare for this time, both financially and emotionally? Here are some tips to focus on.
Fill your time
First of all, make sure that you have a purpose or a schedule for your gap year. You don’t necessarily want to work every single day – after all, that’s what you do when you aren’t taking a year off – but at the same time, you don’t want to waste this opportunity. Decide on a few key goals that you want to achieve, and set yourself deadlines of when you reasonably think you’ll be able to achieve them. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of your sabbatical, which might be the only one you take before you retire, and realising you haven’t achieved anything that you wanted to.
Prepare your budget
As you won’t be working during this year off, you will need to find a way to keep your finances in check. Some people choose to take part-time work in a lower-income setting, or do freelance projects here and there, while others want to just rely on their bank balance to get them through. Either way, it’s important to know how much you are going to be able to spend, and when. Normally, overspending is only a problem until next month, when you get paid again – but now, overspending could bring all your plans to an early end. Restrict your spending to stop that from happening.
Rent out your space
Make your assets work for you, both in preparation for and during your gap year. You could rent out your driveway or a parking space in the city to someone else who needs it, and get some income while you aren’t parked there. This is a great example of taking something you already own, but aren’t using all the time, and monetising it by sharing it with someone who needs it. This will bring in extra income that could allow you to push your budget further and even make a few luxury purchases.
Keep a schedule
One of the hardest things to do is to make the transition from working to having time off – and it can be even harder to go back the other way. Keeping to an organised schedule, in which you get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time, with a general idea of what to do in-between, will help. That kind of discipline can evaporate quickly when you take time off, leaving you without any structure to your days. Quickly you’ll realise that you aren’t getting anything done. It’s equally dangerous to let yourself live however you like before you return to work, because you won’t at all be prepared for the culture shock of being back in the workplace, which could leave you tired and irritable.
There’s a lot to think about when preparing for a gap year from work, but generally speaking, it’s almost always something that you will enjoy and value. Do it the right way, so that you don’t have any regrets when you find yourself back in the workplace on the other side – and you could even give your career a boost on the way.
Alex Lawson is a Financial Team Leader and a writer, working with other experts at Brighter Finance. Whenever not overseeing another project or helping customers with their finances, Alex may usually be found online, reading money-related blogs and sharing his tips with other experts.