By Giovanna Gonzalez
According to the U.S. Labor Department, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November--setting a new record high. This wave of mass resignations has been coined “The Great Resignation”. Workers from a variety of industries--including restaurant, retail, manufacturing and hospitality--are saying “I quit!”. Some are in search of remote work, others have health concerns from COVID-19, and many are looking for a job with better wages. In this post-pandemic world, employees find themselves with a change of perspective, as world events have given us all some time to reflect on what is truly important to us and our families.
I’m a proud Great Resignation-er. In June of 2021, I quit a fulfilling career in investment management to pursue my true passion- teaching financial literacy to young adults. I started my own business where I teach financial education at colleges and universities and on TikTok as a “fin-fluencer”. I love what I do. Had it not been for The Great Resignation, I would have never considered quitting the stability of a job I liked, for the possibility of a job I love.
One of the most common responses I hear when people learn about my career pivot is “I want to quit my job too!” or “How did you do it?” With social media sharing quit-stories left and right, it’s easy to get FOMO (fear of missing out) and to start daydreaming about your exit. But before making a big career change, it’s important to take a pause and get your financial ducks in a row.
Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about leaving your job:
Most people are surprised to learn I had 14 months of my living expenses saved when I quit my corporate job. Full transparency, I’ve been planning to quit for years. No, I did not predict The Great Resignation. I was planning to leave corporate America because I had a big dream of traveling the world. This dream fueled me to squirrel away money into a sabbatical fund for the last 2 years. With the pandemic bringing most international travel to a halt, I had my sabbatical fund available for me to use when I resigned from my job this past June to pursue personal interests.
Does this mean you need 14 months of your living expenses saved before you quit? Not necessarily. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Some people may have the opportunity to move in with family to significantly reduce their living expenses and may need much less. Others may have more financial responsibilities that would require much more than 14 months. Whatever your situation may be, make sure you have enough of a cash cushion to get you through the time you plan to be off, and an additional 2-3 months to allow time for a job search if you plan to return.
When I quit my job, I was fortunate to be 100% debt free. If you do have a small amount of debt, consider paying it off to start your journey debt free-you’ll thank yourself later! If you have larger sums of debt, like student loans, credit card debt, car payments etc, try to focus on paying off high interest debt first to make your debt liabilities more manageable. Make sure to factor in minimum debt payments into your budget. If you’re struggling with managing your debt, it may not be the best time to quit a stable job for the unknown. If you’re unhappy with your work situation, try applying to other jobs instead- there are plenty available. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers posted 11 million job openings in October 2021.
The worst scenario could be you drain your savings and don’t have any cash to meet your financial obligations. As a last resort, make sure you have an available credit line to use if absolutely needed. Credit cards can help cover a lot of expenses while you’re focusing on a job search. I made sure to apply to new credit lines while I still had my verifiable income, and kept my credit lines fully available as a safety net.
If you plan to quit to start your own business, you have to plan for the worst outcome. If your business isn’t successful, you may need to return to your former job or industry, so don’t burn any bridges! Leave on a positive note and stay in touch with your network. When I quit, I wasn’t sure if I was going to return, so I gave my employer a four week notice instead of the traditional two week notice. I came up with a transition plan and helped offload my work with my team. It’s the right thing to do and it’s a good way to keep the door open in case you need to go back.
Only you can decide when it's the best time to leave your job. If you’re still working on getting your finances together that’s okay- use this momentum to help you make positive changes with your money. If you have the financial means to take the leap and try something new, right now may be a good time to bet on yourself and explore other possibilities.
Giovanna is a first generation American, first generation college graduate and first generation wealth builder. She recently joined The Great Resignation and quit her corporate job in investment management to pursue her true passion- teaching financial education to young adults.
She teaches financial literacy and career readiness to college students at universities and on her TikTok account @thefirstgenmentor where she's built a community of over 180,000+. In October 2021, she was selected to be a part of TikTok's inaugural TikTok Latinx Creatives. Most recently, she was selected to be a part of the first ever LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program.
Giovanna's work has been featured on The New York Times, Yahoo News and the Chicago Tribune.