If you came here to read this, you’ve probably pretty much decided that you’re over your current gig and trying to figure out how to quit your job and stay afloat. You may or may not have something lined up (and that’s okay). I wrote a post a while back after I quit my job, why I did it without a backup plan, and everyone was so supportive and understanding. Shit happens.
Check It Out: How I Knew It Was Time To Quit My Job
What I didn’t go into depth about, though, was how I carefully planned before I handed in my resignation letter. Long before I was passed over a promotion, not hired for a new position because I was “too creative” and “overqualified,” I knew my time at the company was coming to an end, so I got my shit together.
Here’s a quick list of things to consider before leaving your job aka how to quit your job the smart way.
1. Ask yourself, Is this your only option, or can you stick it out?
The answer for me was no. I was 23 at the time (young af), and the last thing I needed was a stressful ass job that sent me home crying every day and cause my hair to fall out—and that’s just what it did. Take a look at your situation and figure if this would be the best move. For my mental health, it was.
2. Go on some coffee dates and request letters of recommendation.
Usually, even if you hate your job, there are some great professional contacts that you should take advantage of while you’re still there. Keep a line of communication open with the people you’ve enjoyed working with, even if it’s just taking them on a coffee date to let them know. You never know if they may be able to put you on to your next opportunity!
At the bare minimum, connect with your non-toxic co-workers and superiors on LinkedIn!
3. Cut down your spending and create a REAL budget
Like, the kind that is on paper. Make sure you include ALL expenses, even if it’s something small like Apple Music or your Netflix account payment. It all counts. In my situation, I was still living at home and started saving slowly months before I actually left. Depending on your circumstances, your timeline for exiting may be a bit longer than you’d like, but if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.
As far as spending money goes, start cutting down your frivolous spending as practice for when your disposable income shrinks…because it is. Cut every corner that you possibly can to make temporary unemployment feasible.
Microsoft Word and Google Docs have pretty good templates. I’m working on my template, so stay tuned.
4. Put a pause of that out of country vacation or shopping spree and boost your savings instead.
Months before I even turned in my letter of resignation, I saved like hell. I put 10-15% of my paychecks in my savings for months, which was the best thing I could ever do. Income tax refund? In my savings. Drake canceled his concert? In my savings. My co-worker paid me back the $20 I loaned her four months ago? You guessed it—in my savings. If you’re living below your means, saving money isn’t nearly as impossible as it seems.
If you don’t have a job waiting for you or need a bit of a mental health break, saving money along the way will save you so much stress.
More information about how I built my savings rather quickly here.
5. Know your PTO/Accrued time policy
This varies from job to job. At my company, you pretty much weren’t owed accrued time payouts until you hit the 2-year mark. I was only there for a year, so I didn’t make the cut.
So what did I do with my hard-earned time? I took the days during my last month there. It wasn’t because I didn’t give a f*ck. I earned that time, and if they weren’t going to give it to me, I was going to take it.
6. Take advantage of any reimbursements that your job may offer
Whether it’s for gym or tuition, know what they are and collect them before you go. That’s just a few extra hundred dollars for you to put in the stash while you figure things out. For me, it totaled up to about $500 after handing in gym receipts and other things that my job offered as reimbursements.
7. Remember, you have to return all company equipment
The only things my job gave me were an iPad and iPhone (both of which I already had at home), so this didn’t hurt me much. But if your job gives you something like a computer that you use for work and school and can’t afford to purchase on your own, you may need to revisit my first point and wait it out.
8. Collect work for your portfolio
You should always be keeping a running list of assignments and tasks you’ve completed. This makes updating your resume and Linkedin so much easier. If you’ve done assignments that seem like a good fit for your portfolio, keep a copy so long as it doesn’t break any contracts, non-disclosure agreements, etc.
9. Figure out what you’ll be doing for health insurance.
So if you haven’t realized you sort of NEED to have health insurance. It’s the law apparently, and you will be fined when filing your taxes if you don’t have it even for just a portion of the year. Explore getting insurance on your own or continuing your employer’s coverage through COBRA.
FYI, you need to speak with HR to get the most accurate information on the status of your health insurance once you leave. In my employee handbook, it clearly stated that the company MUST pay my health insurance for that whole month in which I quit. I quit at the beginning of July, so that I had a few weeks to get my health insurance together by August.
For my insurance, I went through the NYS Marketplace to get an affordable plan. Though I didn’t qualify for Medicaid, I was able to get an insurance plan that covers the basics for a low cost. I’d rather not pay for health insurance at all, but it was way better than the $300 a month I was dishing out before.
10. Create a schedule (if you don’t have an immediate job offer lined up)
When you work every day, you get into a habit, a schedule that you’re used to running on. If you don’t keep this same kind of structure, you’ll go crazy. I got into the habit of making a schedule instead of winging it, and it made all the difference.
Every day doesn’t even have to look the same. Some days I’m working from home. Other days the library. When I’m lucky, I have events to attend. As long as I know what I’m doing for the next few days, I don’t feel like my life is in shambles.
I’m not one to sell a dream on quitting your job then waking up living the life of your dreams. No, it doesn’t work like that. I properly prepared for my exit, enjoyed my summer, and was back to work by October. Take your time, sis!