How to stay financially stable during a sabbatical is one of the biggest challenge most people face. When you’ve spent many years used to money coming into your bank account, it can be a hard adjustment to live a period of your life without it.
While career breaks are for shorter durations, sabbaticals are generally taken for a longer period, which means you might go months, or even years without a stable income.
Planning for this time through good budgeting and a solid savings plan is the start.
Living as frugally as you can whilst on sabbatical will then allow you to live within your means whilst on the road.
Here are some tips that will help you to achieve you sabbatical dreams, and not damage your long-term financial future.
Tips to Finance a Sabbatical
1) Create a baseline budget
It’s important to understand the impact a sabbatical will have on your finances. Determining how much you’ll need to cover your basic expenses while on sabbatical might be scary, but once you know the reality you can start to save.
While creating your budget, you should not only include your daily expenses, such as food, rent and travel but also consider additional costs like life and health insurance, the mortgage you still need to pay at home and any bills that still need paying.
2) Start saving early
How much you need to save will depend on how long you’ll be on sabbatical (my free downloadable spreadsheet will help you to work this out).
Having built your budget, your goal is to save this amount so you can take your sabbatical without worrying when your money will run out. Review your current finances, and figure out where you can cut back. Then set up a direct debit to come out of your account every month, which will form the basis for the money you need whilst away.
By working out a budget in step one, then a savings place in step to, you should be able to see how many months it will take before you can afford your sabbatical.
3) Work on building an emergency fund
This is a tip for life as much as a sabbatical. Having in place en emergency fund of between three and six months of your salary, means you don’t need to turn to credit when things get tough. This money needs to be in an easy to access account, not in bonds or shares that might take a while to sell.
This is something that would be ideal to have in place before you sabbatical, so you have your budgeted money, but also an emergency pot if the worst happens.
It might take you a number of years to get to your ideal amount, but when you do the money will sit there ready to be used if something does go wrong.
For more advice on emergency funds, read this article on the fantastic Monevator website. Whilst you’re there, sign up for the newsletter. I take so much of my financial advice from this blog.
4) Make a plan for your property
While you are away, if would be ideal if you could get a renter into your home. It will help shrink your costs in a big way by covering your house payments and utilities. If you have a pet, they may also take it on so that you don’t have to pay out huge bills for boarding.
Start looking for a renter well in advance, so that you have enough time to get the contracts done.
5) Live simple
Living simply doesn’t mean living frugally to the extent that you actually no longer enjoy your break. Finding the right balance is important here. Spend on things that make you happy, but don’t go overboard with your outgoings.
It’s amazing when you’ve given yourself the time to travel how you don’t need to spend so big anymore. Buses are cheaper than planes, making meals yourself cheaper than eating out and finding local guides cheaper than booking with big tour groups. A sabbatical offers you an opportunity that a vacation doesn’t, that is to take your time. This also means you can travel on a lot less money.
6) Don’t change your existing investment strategy
Do not make any changes to your long-term financial plans or portfolio diversification strategies while you are on a break.
A common mistake most people make is transfer their money into investments that can finance your travel. Extracting short-term rewards from your portfolio may make you lose bigger opportunities for a brighter future. The best advice is to save up cash before you travel or apply for a product like MoneyTap’s travel loan. Don’t hurt your long term future by making short term decisions on your finances.
7) Pay off your debts
When you are on a career break or sabbatical, you have likely to have no income coming in every month.
Debt presents an a stress that you don’t want to be taking with you into your sabbatical. Your aim should be to pay any big debts off before you leave.
8) Buy health, travel and life insurance
You may think that having a health or life insurance is an unnecessary expenditure, but it’s always better to be prepared for unexpected situations in life. A health and life insurance can come to your rescue in case of medical emergencies while you are on a sabbatical.
Taking a sabbatical is not an easy decision. It may seem impossible at times, but if the sabbatical is what you need, it’s best to plan for it in advance. Planning ahead and planning realistically can help you keep your finances in control.
Shiv Nanda is a financial analyst who currently lives in Bangalore (refusing to acknowledge the name change) and works with MoneyTap, India’s first app-based credit-line. Shiv is a true finance geek, and his friends love that. They always rely on him for advice on their investment choices, budgeting skills, personal financial matters and when they want to get a loan. He has made it his life’s mission to help and educate people on various financial topics, so email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.