Preparing Your Finances When Changing Careers

man counting his money

• Assessing your current financial situation and creating a budget is essential when transitioning to a new career.

• Reassess your retirement plan, investigate any benefits the new employer offers, and consider efficiently rolling over 401(k) assets. 

• Create an emergency fund to cover at least six months’ worth of living expenses in case of unexpected events.

• Consider alternative income streams like investing, side hustling, renting out your property, or selling items online. 

Making a career change is daunting, and it’s crucial to ensure that your finances are in order before making the leap. After all, changing careers can often mean less steady income, especially during transition. To ensure that you have enough money to sustain yourself until you get your footing, here are several steps you can take to prepare for the financial changes that come with a career shift.

Assess Your Current Financial Situation

The first step is to assess your current financial situation. Take stock of all of your assets and liabilities—your property, car loans, credit card debt, student loans, etc.—and create a budget that outlines your monthly expenses and expected income.

This will give you an idea of how much money you’ll need to cover your bills while making the transition into a new job or career path. For example, if your current monthly expense is $2000 and you’re only bringing in $1500 from your current job, you’ll need to figure out a way to make up that extra $500.

This will also help you identify any areas where you need to cut back on spending so that you don’t find yourself in a precarious financial situation while making the switch. This can include discretionary expenditures, such as eating out or buying luxury items.

man smiling while going through finances in front of calculator and laptop

Reassess Your Retirement Plan

When you change careers, it’s essential to reassess your retirement plan. Depending on the situation, you may consider efficiently rolling over 401(k) assets without paying the penalty.

If not, consider opening an IRA and contributing what you can each month so that your retirement savings don’t suffer. This will help ensure that you still have a solid retirement plan despite all the financial changes.

It’s also a good idea to investigate any retirement benefits your new employer offers, such as 401(k) matching. These can add significantly to your retirement savings over time, so it pays to explore these options thoroughly before deciding on a new job.

Create an Emergency Fund

Once you know what kind of resources you have at your disposal, it’s crucial to create an emergency fund. This fund should be large enough to cover at least six months’ worth of living expenses so that if something unexpected arises (such as a medical emergency or loss of income), then you won’t be left without any resources.

You may also want to consider setting up additional savings accounts for specific goals like retirement or buying a house. This will help you stay on track with your financial goals and ensure you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Start setting aside money each month to build your emergency fund and other savings accounts if possible. Even small contributions can add up over time and give you peace of mind should you need to access those resources in the future.

2 jars full of money and coins labeled emergency

Consider Alternative Income Streams

In addition to establishing an emergency fund, it could be beneficial for those who are switching careers to consider alternative income streams. These extra streams can help provide some much-needed cash flow while transitioning into a new field and can even become long-term sources of wealth over time. Here are some examples:

Investing in Stocks, Bonds, And/or Real Estate

Investing in stocks, bonds, and/or real estate can provide a steady passive income over time. By investing your money into these markets, you’ll be able to build wealth while also diversifying your portfolio.

Taking on a Side Hustle or Freelance Gig

Side hustles or freelance gigs can also be a great way to supplement your income when transitioning into a new career. You can look for opportunities that are related to your desired field or explore something completely different.

Renting Out Your Property

If you own your own property, you could look into renting it out as a source of additional income. This can be done through short-term rental services like Airbnb or more traditional long-term rentals. You can even consider subletting an extra room in your own home to bring in additional income.

Selling Items Online

If you have items that are no longer being used, consider selling them online as a source of extra income. This is especially true if you’re able to sell higher-end items like jewelry or electronics. This way, you can make some cash while also decluttering your home.

Making the switch from one job or career path to another can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially when factoring in potential financial ramifications like reduced wages or increased expenses associated with relocating for work reasons. That said, understanding and preparing for these potential economic challenges ahead of time can go a long way toward helping smooth out this process and ensuring that everything goes off without a hitch when changing careers. Ultimately, everyone is different, so make sure that whatever steps you take toward better managing your finances are tailored specifically toward meeting your own unique needs.

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