Taking Leave

November 2nd, 2019 by Potato

This is a surprisingly hard post to write (I’m also clearly out of practice on the blogging front), so let’s resort to the Q&A format:

Hey Potato, what’s up?

In The Big C 2: Revenge of the C I let you know that my dad’s cancer is back. Now I’m going to take some time off work (planning for 1 year) to spend time with him while I can, and also to take care of Blueberry and give her other grandparents a bit of a break. Today was my last day at work!

This is mostly a personal finance blog — how did you swing a year off work?

I have money saved, so I’m not worried about feeding myself or paying the rent during the year itself. It will mean pushing off retirement by a few years for one year being out of the workforce (lost compounding, spending more than saving, etc., will mean roughly pushing things back by ~3-4 years for taking a year now) but I actually haven’t done a huge, detailed projection. Indeed, I made the decision without really doing much of anything in the way of formal planning — it just felt right (after several weeks of hemming and hawing and sleeping on it), and I knew I could swing it, which I suppose is the point of all the previous planning and saving and investing. In the end, I wrote up a little one-page summary of the plan and implications, and that was that. My emergency fund will cover a year off, especially if I can pick up a few freelance gigs along the way.

So are you available for projects? Can I hire you?

Possibly! I know it’s not going to take 24-7 to take care of my family, so I will be looking to do some work, but only part-time (not being able to swing full-time with a commute is the reason I had to step back from the day job in the first place). However, I don’t know how cool the ol’ HR department will be cutting a cheque to an independent contractor who’s on leave, which means no grant-writing or other consulting for co-workers. Personal finance projects/writing/doing DIY investment workshops/lunch’n’learns, editing (it’s been a while since I’ve had a novel to edit, NaNoWriMo authors…), or science writing for others should be fine. Hit me up here if you’re interested.

What else will you do with your time?

Some have suggested using that time to learn something new or get a certification — pick up my CFP (which has a practical requirement, so it would require some commitment to switching jobs or picking up a more robust side gig), or get a MD or RN ’cause I spend so much of my time taking care of sick people anyway. I am getting dangerously close to having spent more time in the real world than grad school, so maybe it’s time to go back to learning and test-writing just to make sure I’ll never have a normal work-study balance in my lifetime.

I might also use my non-caregiving time to write another PF book — I’ve had an idea poking around for over a year now, but I’m getting more negative on the idea as I go along, and may have to just let it die. But hey, it is NaNoWriMo, so maybe some fiction…

However, other than a few random thoughts I absolutely have no plan. I figured all that could wait until I was actually off work to figure it out.

Isn’t it scary just leaving the workforce for a while with no plan of what you’ll do and no income stream coming in?

Well it is now. But that’s also why I managed to actually make a decision with no real analysis/spreadsheets/pro-con lists/waffling blog posts — I was just too burned out to go through my usual over-thinking routine. So at the moment I’m too tired to be scared.

6 Responses to “Taking Leave”

  1. Russell J. Sawatsky Says:

    I’m sorry that it has come to this, but I am glad that your employer is flexible enough to allow the leave, not to mention that you have set aside the funds to make this do-able. Wishing you and your family the best during this tough time. Russ

  2. Potato Says:

    Thanks Russ!

  3. Kassul42 Says:

    Best of luck to you and him John! Went through something similar with my brother over the summer.

    Good to hear you’re in a position where you can take the time off to spend more time with family.

    Best of luck also with any other projects you pick up. While I’m sure you wont lack for things to do, having a distraction that’s completely different can be good at times.

  4. Gerry Says:

    God bless, Potato. Sometimes one does what one has to do, retirement fortfolio be damned. I hope the upcoming year has more ups than downs. All the best.

  5. Stacey Says:

    So sorry to hear that you are dealing with such difficult circumstances. I’m totally new here. Just came by because I had taken a screenshot of your shirt during the Canadian Financial Summit (I’m pretty sure it was you anyway!) and wanted to ask you where you got it. It describes my husband perfectly. The one about books and leaving behind a labyrinth of them…

  6. Potato Says:

    Thanks everyone for the thoughts!

    Stacey, I happen to be wearing that shirt right now :)
    “Read Fast
    Die Old
    Leave a Maddening Labyrinth of Books”

    It’s from Peter Chiykowski: https://store.rockpapercynic.com/product-category/apparel/ (also check out his Shortest Story postcards)