Taking a leave of absence for one year

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Tuga
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Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Tuga » Wed May 14, 2014 2:51 pm

Hi all,

Has anyone ever taken a leave of absence from work for a year or so (for reasons other than health)? A colleague of mine recently returned from his leave of absence and says it was the best year of his life. Of course, this is a highly personal issue dependent on so many factors. I'm just curious what this insightful community thinks though.

My colleague spent his year in Edinburgh, Scotland, even though he had distant cultural or ethnic connections. He makes between $250k to $300k per year (gross), so he gave that up for a year, but I'm guessing he had about the same in savings/investments when he took off. Also, he is in late 30's, single, with no kids - although I think he might have met someone abroad because he always has a smile now. 8-)

He says he feels better and more comfortable with his life and career choices now. He took a risk at work, however. I'm not sure it will work out for him here in the long run because others have stepped into his shoes a bit, but I also don't think he cares. He is a friend, so I'm thrilled for him, but I sense other colleagues are jealous and may even resent him.

Tuga

Andyrunner
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Andyrunner » Wed May 14, 2014 2:58 pm

When my wife and I were hiking in Rocky Mtn National Park, we met a couple from Switzerland. The husband said his job allowed a 6 month leave of absence after working there for seven years and the wife left her job. They used the 6 months to travel to the US and visit all of the national parks on the western half of the US.

Needless to say my wife and I were jealous as we are lucky to get one week off during the summer.

I think a lot depends on the culture of the company.

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HomerJ
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by HomerJ » Wed May 14, 2014 3:04 pm

What companies even offer this?

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VictoriaF
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by VictoriaF » Wed May 14, 2014 3:06 pm

If you do take a year off, go 1 July to 30 June. That way you would get a half of your gross income in two consecutive years with lower taxes.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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pjstack
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by pjstack » Wed May 14, 2014 3:06 pm

Just be careful!

I had often heard about people "taking a year off", and I said to myself, "Imagine! Being rich enough to take a year off!"

So, when I retired from the Air Force in 1979 I thought,"Now's my chance!" So I took a year off.

When the year was up, I said, "That was fast", so I decided to take another one off. And so it went.

I never did go back to work.

I certainly don't regret it. I was able to do a lot of things that I can no longer do ( because of health problems, etc.)
pjstack

Beth*
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Beth* » Wed May 14, 2014 3:10 pm

The only people i have known who have done this are college professors and teachers. I would love to take six months or a year off from my job to travel and catch up on my personal life, and I could afford to do so, but it is not within the realm of possibility. I have had a few co-workers who requested extended time off and they were told that if a job was available when they came back they would be hired back, but they were not promised a job on their return. I'm enough of a worrier that I wouldn't be comfortable taking off without knowing that I had a job waiting for me when I returned. Instead, I am saving as much money as I can and I will retire around age 60 when I should still (I hope!) have many years for traveling and doing other things.

lowerleisureclass
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by lowerleisureclass » Wed May 14, 2014 3:24 pm

Yes, I took six months off when I was 28, came back and to no one's surprise had been laid off, which was great because I then got a job at a different firm with a *much* better salary. Quit that job at 34 to take a year and a half off, and was hired back by the same boss when I returned. He left the company and hired me again a couple of years ago, by assuring me that I could still take 4 - 6 week vacations/time without pay at the new place. It's certainly affected my total lifetime income, but I consider that I'm much richer than I would be if I'd spent that time in a cubicle instead. I work at an engineering firm (not as an engineer), so it's pretty corporate. It just depends on the company/office culture I think.
"At either end of the economic spectrum there lies a leisure class." -- Eric Beck, rock climber

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Tuga
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Tuga » Wed May 14, 2014 3:42 pm

HomerJ wrote:What companies even offer this?
It's not standard at all. He requested the leave and took the career risk. I heard of one or two others having done it in the past.

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Tuga
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Tuga » Wed May 14, 2014 3:43 pm

pjstack wrote:Just be careful!

I had often heard about people "taking a year off", and I said to myself, "Imagine! Being rich enough to take a year off!"

So, when I retired from the Air Force in 1979 I thought,"Now's my chance!" So I took a year off.

When the year was up, I said, "That was fast", so I decided to take another one off. And so it went.

I never did go back to work.

I certainly don't regret it. I was able to do a lot of things that I can no longer do ( because of health problems, etc.)
Thanks for the comment. That sounds like a good thing though.

travelnut11
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by travelnut11 » Wed May 14, 2014 4:02 pm

I have done this. Seven years ago when I turned 30 I requested and was granted a personal leave-of-absence for 9 months where I spent 3 months traveling in the US/Canada and 6 months in South America. I would've done a year except 9 months was the max the company would grant and allow me to return to work without having to go through the re-hiring process. I actually would've quit and looked for a new job upon my return if they had denied me as I had plenty of money saved up for both the trip and re-entry but my boss was very interested in my return (and extremely relieved once he realized I wasn't quitting to work for the competition).

I definitely think I was the first person in the history of my company to ask for such a thing as most don't have the desire/money saved to forgo 9 months of income. I started planning and saving several years in advance and had a whole spiel ready for my boss but in the end it wasn't necessary. He readily agreed to it and at the end of the conversation thanked me for coming up with an idea for retaining employees when they're feeling burned out! :D

Much depends on the nature of your work and how in demand your position is. I work in a niche programming area and my company was going through some turnover issues so retention was a big deal for my boss. It actually worked out pretty well because our client work was slowing down (2007/2008) and the client was looking to reduce the size of our group so someone else got to stay because I left which was a win/win for everyone. Just as my leave was about to end the lead programmer at the client project I'd been working on contacted me to see if I wanted to come back to their project or get reassigned elsewhere so I stepped right back in where I left off.

I think what worked for me was that I was going on this trip whether they approved it or not so I had nothing to lose in asking for the leave. I framed it to my boss that I really enjoyed working for this company but was feeling some burnout and would like to take some personal time. Did he think they could grant a personal leave of absence? You might be surprised what happens if you simply ask for something.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness ...and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. - Mark Twain | | Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. - Helen Keller

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VictoriaF
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by VictoriaF » Wed May 14, 2014 4:08 pm

Tuga wrote:
pjstack wrote:Just be careful!

I had often heard about people "taking a year off", and I said to myself, "Imagine! Being rich enough to take a year off!"

So, when I retired from the Air Force in 1979 I thought,"Now's my chance!" So I took a year off.

When the year was up, I said, "That was fast", so I decided to take another one off. And so it went.

I never did go back to work.

I certainly don't regret it. I was able to do a lot of things that I can no longer do ( because of health problems, etc.)
Thanks for the comment. That sounds like a good thing though.
Dropping out the employment all together could be a good thing, or it could be a mental trick to rationalize your new preferences. For pjstack, it was the former. You have to decide ahead of time how you will be dealing with this risk.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

Armydoc
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Armydoc » Wed May 14, 2014 4:20 pm

pjstack wrote:Just be careful!

I had often heard about people "taking a year off", and I said to myself, "Imagine! Being rich enough to take a year off!"

So, when I retired from the Air Force in 1979 I thought,"Now's my chance!" So I took a year off.

When the year was up, I said, "That was fast", so I decided to take another one off. And so it went.

I never did go back to work.

I certainly don't regret it. I was able to do a lot of things that I can no longer do ( because of health problems, etc.)
that is a awesome! Long way off for me, but I might have to give that some thought.

sevenseas
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by sevenseas » Wed May 14, 2014 4:42 pm

I did this, under very particular and unusual circumstances. I was working for a company out on the West Coast, but for personal reasons, was very interested in the possibility of returning to the NY area. My company is a global one, but did not then have a position in NY. I applied for and was offered a position in NY at another company, but was hesitant to burn my bridges in quitting my old job (a very good job at which I'd been working for close to 10 years). I basically wanted to have my cake and eat it too, i.e. explore the possibility of moving back East, but with the chance to return to my previous job if I decided it wasn't for me.

I ended up taking a year's leave of absence from my first job, and accepting the second job with the caveat that it was only for a year (after which I would reassess and make my final decision). I only dared to ask for this because I work in a small, highly specialized field, and am considered valuable because I am good at what I do. In hindsight, I am a bit appalled by my effrontery! But, I had a really good relationship with my then-boss, who understood all of the uncertainties I was going through in choosing my next path in life. He knew full well that after a year's time, they could lose me for good (which is what happened; I stayed at the new job and never went back West).

Happy ending for all though: I continued to freelance for my old company, eventually full-time, and have now returned as an off-site, full-time employee.

Bungo
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Bungo » Wed May 14, 2014 4:45 pm

I did something similar except I resigned from my job instead of taking a leave of absence. Spent the next year and a half doing a combination of vacation and consulting (about a 70/30 ratio). I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but I have more obligations now: wife, mortgage, etc. So I'm planning for an early retirement instead.

travelnut11
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by travelnut11 » Wed May 14, 2014 4:47 pm

sevenseas wrote:I did this, under very particular and unusual circumstances. I was working for a company out on the West Coast, but for personal reasons, was very interested in the possibility of returning to the NY area. My company is a global one, but did not then have a position in NY. I applied for and was offered a position in NY at another company, but was hesitant to burn my bridges in quitting my old job (a very good job at which I'd been working for close to 10 years). I basically wanted to have my cake and eat it too, i.e. explore the possibility of moving back East, but with the chance to return to my previous job if I decided it wasn't for me.

I ended up taking a year's leave of absence from my first job, and accepting the second job with the caveat that it was only for a year (after which I would reassess and make my final decision). I only dared to ask for this because I work in a small, highly specialized field, and am considered valuable because I am good at what I do. In hindsight, I am a bit appalled by my effrontery! But, I had a really good relationship with my then-boss, who understood all of the uncertainties I was going through in choosing my next path in life. He knew full well that after a year's time, they could lose me for good (which is what happened; I stayed at the new job and never went back West).

Happy ending for all though: I continued to freelance for my old company, eventually full-time, and have now returned as an off-site, full-time employee.
My boss told me later he thought this was what I was doing as he couldn't fathom anyone going without income for 9 months. I thought "Who would do that?" Now I know! :happy
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness ...and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. - Mark Twain | | Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. - Helen Keller

billern
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by billern » Wed May 14, 2014 5:02 pm

sevenseas wrote:I did this, under very particular and unusual circumstances. I was working for a company out on the West Coast, but for personal reasons, was very interested in the possibility of returning to the NY area. My company is a global one, but did not then have a position in NY. I applied for and was offered a position in NY at another company, but was hesitant to burn my bridges in quitting my old job (a very good job at which I'd been working for close to 10 years). I basically wanted to have my cake and eat it too, i.e. explore the possibility of moving back East, but with the chance to return to my previous job if I decided it wasn't for me.

I ended up taking a year's leave of absence from my first job, and accepting the second job with the caveat that it was only for a year (after which I would reassess and make my final decision). I only dared to ask for this because I work in a small, highly specialized field, and am considered valuable because I am good at what I do. In hindsight, I am a bit appalled by my effrontery! But, I had a really good relationship with my then-boss, who understood all of the uncertainties I was going through in choosing my next path in life. He knew full well that after a year's time, they could lose me for good (which is what happened; I stayed at the new job and never went back West).

Happy ending for all though: I continued to freelance for my old company, eventually full-time, and have now returned as an off-site, full-time employee.
Wow, you got lucky. It seems like you risked really burning your bridges. In this highly connected time, it would be very hard to do this without being discovered.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by nervousnovice » Wed May 14, 2014 5:13 pm

after 20+ years in my field, and at the urging of my husband, i took what was to be a 1 year sabbatical (not sanctioned by the company, left my job) and am now almost 10 years out of the workforce. 1 year into it, i started to reconnect with colleagues to look for a new job but my husband almost seemed insulted. he said if you can stay within your budget, you don't have to go back to work. thus, i began learning to live a boglehead style of life without spending money like a drunken sailor. 4 years into this we paid off our mortgage (after 12 years)!

in these years i have chosen several topics to dive deep and learn as much as i can - managing investments for retirement being one - and have never felt more fulfilled. my days are BUSY. our health has never been better. we eat very well, i cook everything from scratch. both in our 50's and neither one on any medication or need to visit the doctor except for annual physicals.

the bonus is that having me managing the household and our finances, as well as focusing on health, nutrition and how to cook made it possible for my husband to buy his business. i don't think he would have attempted this without my "full time" support. now we have more money coming in and are able to afford nice trips and home improvements.

recently i started doing part time consulting - really part time, like less than 40 hours a month. i enjoy having my "feet" back in the business world, but it has confirmed that i never want to go back to full time work if i can avoid it.

good luck with your decision!

sevenseas
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by sevenseas » Wed May 14, 2014 5:17 pm

travelnut11 wrote:
sevenseas wrote:I did this, under very particular and unusual circumstances. I was working for a company out on the West Coast, but for personal reasons, was very interested in the possibility of returning to the NY area. My company is a global one, but did not then have a position in NY. I applied for and was offered a position in NY at another company, but was hesitant to burn my bridges in quitting my old job (a very good job at which I'd been working for close to 10 years). I basically wanted to have my cake and eat it too, i.e. explore the possibility of moving back East, but with the chance to return to my previous job if I decided it wasn't for me.

I ended up taking a year's leave of absence from my first job, and accepting the second job with the caveat that it was only for a year (after which I would reassess and make my final decision). I only dared to ask for this because I work in a small, highly specialized field, and am considered valuable because I am good at what I do. In hindsight, I am a bit appalled by my effrontery! But, I had a really good relationship with my then-boss, who understood all of the uncertainties I was going through in choosing my next path in life. He knew full well that after a year's time, they could lose me for good (which is what happened; I stayed at the new job and never went back West).

Happy ending for all though: I continued to freelance for my old company, eventually full-time, and have now returned as an off-site, full-time employee.
My boss told me later he thought this was what I was doing as he couldn't fathom anyone going without income for 9 months. I thought "Who would do that?" Now I know! :happy
LOL...thankfully it all worked out well, but I was in a real emotional state at the time. Really unhappy and longing to return East, and yet so scared at the thought of leaving a great job, house, area, and lifestyle. I think my boss perceived this, and because 1) they valued me, 2) the company is naturally somewhat flexible in these matters, and 3) he is a good guy, he went to bat for me. I honestly should email him to thank him again!

sevenseas
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by sevenseas » Wed May 14, 2014 5:21 pm

billern wrote:
sevenseas wrote:I did this, under very particular and unusual circumstances. I was working for a company out on the West Coast, but for personal reasons, was very interested in the possibility of returning to the NY area. My company is a global one, but did not then have a position in NY. I applied for and was offered a position in NY at another company, but was hesitant to burn my bridges in quitting my old job (a very good job at which I'd been working for close to 10 years). I basically wanted to have my cake and eat it too, i.e. explore the possibility of moving back East, but with the chance to return to my previous job if I decided it wasn't for me.

I ended up taking a year's leave of absence from my first job, and accepting the second job with the caveat that it was only for a year (after which I would reassess and make my final decision). I only dared to ask for this because I work in a small, highly specialized field, and am considered valuable because I am good at what I do. In hindsight, I am a bit appalled by my effrontery! But, I had a really good relationship with my then-boss, who understood all of the uncertainties I was going through in choosing my next path in life. He knew full well that after a year's time, they could lose me for good (which is what happened; I stayed at the new job and never went back West).

Happy ending for all though: I continued to freelance for my old company, eventually full-time, and have now returned as an off-site, full-time employee.
Wow, you got lucky. It seems like you risked really burning your bridges. In this highly connected time, it would be very hard to do this without being discovered.
My original post may not have been clear...everything was done completely on the up-and-up. Everyone at my original company knew (the leave had to get approved by upper management), as did everyone at my "second job". My field is way too small; there would have been no way to do this on the down low, which I never would have considered in any case. I did get really lucky though, in having companies on both ends which were totally flexible. Am very grateful that it all worked out so well.

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dumbbunny
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by dumbbunny » Wed May 14, 2014 5:32 pm

HomerJ wrote:What companies even offer this?
My nephew works for Intel and gets a sabbatical every seven years.
“It’s the curse of old men to realize that in the end we control nothing." "Homeland" episode, "Gerontion"

avalpert
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by avalpert » Wed May 14, 2014 7:18 pm

I have twice taken extended time off in my now 15 year career in management consulting/professional service. Once I did so as a sabbatical with the blessing of my company after being there for 4 years (at the age of 27) I took ~8 months to travel with my wife mostly in Southeast Asia. ~5 years after that I negotiated an exit package and took 6 months off to finish my pilot's license, do some writing I had been putting off and move to another organization. I have been at that firm now for close to 4 years and am preparing to structure another sabbatical for next year to take ~4 months with my wife and two kids travelling/camping around Southern Africa.

In all cases I made my own opportunities, it wasn't a common choice as it would be in academia but I always found people who were supportive and open to working things out. I am pretty sure that my career would have been much worse off without the breaks than with it - it not only refreshes me and refocuses me but it has taught me plenty that made me a better professional. It also hasn't yet hampered my trajectory for early retirement when my second child goes off to college (I'll be 51).

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by mainiac » Wed May 14, 2014 7:28 pm

"Drummond Woodsum Attorney David M. Kallin & Family Commence a Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail
Posted on March 27, 2014
Drummond Woodsum, a full-service law firm with offices in Maine and New Hampshire, announced today that attorney David M. Kallin is commencing a planned through-hike of the Appalachian Trail with his family. This family adventure of 2,185 miles from Georgia to Maine starts April 1, 2014 and concludes at Mt. Katahdin in Maine in October, if all goes to plan. The Kallin family includes two children under the age of ten and their dog." from the website of the law firm

I love the idea of taking time off to hike the AT, but I can't imagine doing it with two kids under the age of 10!

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by pjstack » Wed May 14, 2014 7:51 pm

pjstack wrote:Just be careful!

I had often heard about people "taking a year off", and I said to myself, "Imagine! Being rich enough to take a year off!"

So, when I retired from the Air Force in 1979 I thought,"Now's my chance!" So I took a year off.

When the year was up, I said, "That was fast", so I decided to take another one off. And so it went.

I never did go back to work.

I certainly don't regret it. I was able to do a lot of things that I can no longer do ( because of health problems, etc.)
I really should have added a disclaimer: I was single and had an Air Force pension. Since I was single, if it had turned out to be a mistake no one would be hurt but myself. The pension was (is) adequate to live on.

Actually, I stayed single until I finally married at the tender age of 72.
pjstack

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by poker27 » Wed May 14, 2014 11:26 pm

It wouldn't be an option for me, but something I think about daily ;). I've been working full time without any gaps (thank God) for about 10 years and with my current employer for 8. I work a stressful job, that can be rewarding at times. But it's stressful to take time off work, so my time off usually consists of extended weekends. I receive 4 weeks of vacation a year, but it's tough to use. I also have a fear of flying, so getting me on a flight of more then a few hours is tough.

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HomerJ
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by HomerJ » Thu May 15, 2014 9:35 am

avalpert wrote:I have twice taken extended time off in my now 15 year career in management consulting/professional service. Once I did so as a sabbatical with the blessing of my company after being there for 4 years (at the age of 27) I took ~8 months to travel with my wife mostly in Southeast Asia. ~5 years after that I negotiated an exit package and took 6 months off to finish my pilot's license, do some writing I had been putting off and move to another organization. I have been at that firm now for close to 4 years and am preparing to structure another sabbatical for next year to take ~4 months with my wife and two kids travelling/camping around Southern Africa.

In all cases I made my own opportunities, it wasn't a common choice as it would be in academia but I always found people who were supportive and open to working things out. I am pretty sure that my career would have been much worse off without the breaks than with it - it not only refreshes me and refocuses me but it has taught me plenty that made me a better professional. It also hasn't yet hampered my trajectory for early retirement when my second child goes off to college (I'll be 51).
You must make a TON of money (and be very disciplined on the spending front) to be able to take all that time off without pay AND retire at 51 with two kids. Nicely done!

How does one become a management consultant in their early-to-mid 20s? I mean, you don't have much real-world experience yet, but people pay you to give them advice on how to run their business?

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archbish99
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by archbish99 » Thu May 15, 2014 10:02 am

sevenseas wrote:My original post may not have been clear...everything was done completely on the up-and-up. Everyone at my original company knew (the leave had to get approved by upper management), as did everyone at my "second job". My field is way too small; there would have been no way to do this on the down low, which I never would have considered in any case. I did get really lucky though, in having companies on both ends which were totally flexible. Am very grateful that it all worked out so well.
My employer allows us to apply for personal leaves, largely at the manager's discretion, but I'm pretty sure there's a caveat that taking another job during the leave constitutes a resignation. (Not to mention that my non-compete would presumably still apply...!) You were indeed lucky!
I'm not a financial advisor, I just play one on the Internet.

hljockey
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by hljockey » Thu May 15, 2014 10:14 am

I took more than a year off after my first wife died of cancer. Traveled in an RV, pulling it all the way from Florida to Alaska and back.

Probably did serious damage to my retirement date but I don't regret it.

avalpert
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by avalpert » Thu May 15, 2014 10:23 am

HomerJ wrote:
avalpert wrote:I have twice taken extended time off in my now 15 year career in management consulting/professional service. Once I did so as a sabbatical with the blessing of my company after being there for 4 years (at the age of 27) I took ~8 months to travel with my wife mostly in Southeast Asia. ~5 years after that I negotiated an exit package and took 6 months off to finish my pilot's license, do some writing I had been putting off and move to another organization. I have been at that firm now for close to 4 years and am preparing to structure another sabbatical for next year to take ~4 months with my wife and two kids travelling/camping around Southern Africa.

In all cases I made my own opportunities, it wasn't a common choice as it would be in academia but I always found people who were supportive and open to working things out. I am pretty sure that my career would have been much worse off without the breaks than with it - it not only refreshes me and refocuses me but it has taught me plenty that made me a better professional. It also hasn't yet hampered my trajectory for early retirement when my second child goes off to college (I'll be 51).
You must make a TON of money (and be very disciplined on the spending front) to be able to take all that time off without pay AND retire at 51 with two kids. Nicely done!
I can't complain about my income level but it isn't like I'm making I-Banking money. I'm definitely disciplined on the spending front and for all the whining of a lost decade cannot complain about my portfolio's performance.
How does one become a management consultant in their early-to-mid 20s? I mean, you don't have much real-world experience yet, but people pay you to give them advice on how to run their business?
The key to consulting is to have as little real-world experience as possible, it just biases you :)

But seriously, if you are relatively bright and a systematic problem solver it isn't that difficult to find new approaches to business problems (of all sorts though I have focused on operations and strategy) that practitioners are missing because it is hard to get outside of the situation itself. Basically re-framing problems opens up new insightful solutions that people will pay for.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Fallible » Thu May 15, 2014 10:40 am

The organization I worked for most of my career allowed sabbaticals up to two years after 10 years of employment. I took one for a year and it was one of the wisest moves of my life, giving me time to relax, recharge, reflect, and then re-order priorities. I returned to my job, but I knew others who did not or who left shortly after returning. When I did change careers, I credited that sabbatical with preparing me for the transition.
John Bogle on his often bumpy road to low-cost indexing: "When a door closes, if you look long enough and hard enough, if you're strong enough, you'll find a window that opens."

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HomerJ
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by HomerJ » Thu May 15, 2014 10:45 am

avalpert wrote:But seriously, if you are relatively bright and a systematic problem solver it isn't that difficult to find new approaches to business problems (of all sorts though I have focused on operations and strategy) that practitioners are missing because it is hard to get outside of the situation itself. Basically re-framing problems opens up new insightful solutions that people will pay for.
Thanks for the insight! That makes a lot of sense.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by halfnine » Fri May 16, 2014 1:52 pm

I've taken at least a year off on 3 occasions now. Once about every 5 years or so. I've always liked the idea of having mini-retirements and having the time to enjoy each stage of my life along the way. And, now, I can't imagine doing it any other way.

I generally coincide the timing of my departure with the completion of any major projects I am working on. As such, I've always given a few months notice, stayed around long enough to finish whatever project I was working on irregardless, and provided a bit of email/phone support with previous colleagues as questions popped up while I was gone. Resuming work hasn't ever been an issue.

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HomerJ
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by HomerJ » Fri May 16, 2014 2:07 pm

halfnine wrote:I've taken at least a year off on 3 occasions now. Once about every 5 years or so. I've always liked the idea of having mini-retirements and having the time to enjoy each stage of my life along the way. And, now, I can't imagine doing it any other way.

I generally coincide the timing of my departure with the completion of any major projects I am working on. As such, I've always given a few months notice, stayed around long enough to finish whatever project I was working on irregardless, and provided a bit of email/phone support with previous colleagues as questions popped up while I was gone. Resuming work hasn't ever been an issue.
What kind of work do you do? You went back to same company each time?

How do you handle the finances? Do you save 40% or more of your salary? Because I don't think 20% savings rate is going to cut it, if you spend 20% of the time not working. Do you have a spouse that works when you're not? Does the spouse get 1 year off every 5 years too?

I'm dying to understand the details of how people seem to easily take years off here and there, with no apparent financial hardship and no problem returning to work.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by travelnut11 » Fri May 16, 2014 3:01 pm

I think for me the key was that I had very few expenses and those I had were rather low. The only expense I had was a mortgage and associated utilities. I rented out my house while I was gone at a net loss of about $200 a month including the utilities so not a big deal. No car payment, no student loan, no credit card, nothing else. My mortgage is small to start with so I front-loaded that year's 401k so I could still max it out (Jan to July as I left in July) and when I returned the following March I adjusted my 401k again to make sure I maxed out my 401k in the remaining 9 months. The only thing I did miss out on was the company match as we have no "true-up" provision.

As for the trip itself, I had done copious research and had a rough idea of what I was going to spend and had it saved/earmarked. Long-term travel can be really inexpensive if you're traveling to cheaper parts of the planet and don't need to stay in the Hilton every night. I spent about $5K for the 3 months in US/Canada on a road trip (half staying with friends/family, half in hotel/motels) and about $11K for 6 months in South America. I was really not economizing at all...I could have done this trip for far less if I was really penny-pinching but I wasn't. About a quarter of that South America cost was for one week in the Galapagos Islands. Totally worth it though again I could've done the Galapagos cheaper too but had some specific requirements I was willing to pay for.

I don't think the trip set me back at all and/or caused any sort of financial hardship? I still made my full 401k and Roth contributions for the two years the trip spanned. My house was still building equity. The only thing I was out was the $16k for the trip cost itself (and the $1800 net loss on my mortgage) and I can assure you that it was worth every penny. :happy
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness ...and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. - Mark Twain | | Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. - Helen Keller

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by siamond » Fri May 16, 2014 9:45 pm

I took a 3 month sabbatical in 2005 from my high-tech job, and I remember this time as the happiest of my life (so far!). But your question is a bit different, a one year sabbatical is a big break indeed.

One of my colleagues does it every 5 years or so. Although he's a brilliant engineer, his true passion is to travel. So does his wife. So they save a lot of money working for 5 years, then forget everything and go on a big adventure (on the cheap). Then he comes back, finds a new job (same company or not), and does it again. And I know they are also saving a lot for their retirement, and are in decent shape in this respect, using index funds and so on. Now the guy is truly amazingly talented. And they have no kids. So they make it work. But this is a bit of an exceptional case.

Back to your question, think about it this way. You have only one life. It's worth taking a few risks, and do something special from time to time.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by halfnine » Sat May 17, 2014 2:49 pm

HomerJ wrote:
halfnine wrote:I've taken at least a year off on 3 occasions now. Once about every 5 years or so. I've always liked the idea of having mini-retirements and having the time to enjoy each stage of my life along the way. And, now, I can't imagine doing it any other way.

I generally coincide the timing of my departure with the completion of any major projects I am working on. As such, I've always given a few months notice, stayed around long enough to finish whatever project I was working on irregardless, and provided a bit of email/phone support with previous colleagues as questions popped up while I was gone. Resuming work hasn't ever been an issue.
HomerJ wrote: What kind of work do you do?
Between us engineering and accounting.
HomerJ wrote: You went back to same company each time?
A few variations. Back to the same company. Back to the same clients when self-employed/contractor. Off to a new country to start anew
HomerJ wrote: Do you have a spouse that works when you're not?
Generally speaking no. I've stayed at home with the kids while she worked but I wouldn't consider that as part of this context.
HomerJ wrote: Does the spouse get 1 year off every 5 years too?
We both took at least a year off before we met. A year off together after we met. And a year off after our first child was born.
HomerJ wrote: How do you handle the finances? Do you save 40% or more of your salary? Because I don't think 20% savings rate is going to cut it, if you spend 20% of the time not working.
Everyone certainly would have to do their own calcs based on their own circumstances. Certainly if one is not on track for early retirement one probably wouldn't be on track to do something like this either. But some of it is going to depend on what one does with ones time off and how one arranges ones finances. For instance, if you spend half a year hiking the AT that timeframe might only run you 10 USD/day. Furthermore, if a years worth of income is split across a two year period it can save a bundle on not only income taxes but possibly capital gain taxes as well.

For us, our saving rates have been variable. A lot less when younger but then our careers took off a lot faster than our lifestyle inflation. We've also done various across country or expat type gigs where you are looking at nearly 100% savings since our costs were covered by an employer. Being able to relocate anywhere at a moments notice certainly isn't necessary to do a one year off every five but it certainly bodes well towards the road to early retirement as well.
HomerJ wrote: I'm dying to understand the details of how people seem to easily take years off here and there, with no apparent financial hardship and no problem returning to work.
Well, there are definitely people doing it that will have financial hardship down the road. But returning to work isn't as big of a deal as people think.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by Wolkenspiel » Sat May 17, 2014 3:07 pm

Beth* wrote:The only people i have known who have done this are college professors and teachers.
For most faculty I know, "sabbaticals" are used to focus one's particular field of research or prepare a transition in one's research, rather than to travel, kick back and relax. It's nice to see how much more one can get done without teaching and committee work. For my next one (in four years), I'll probably pay a bit more attention to the travel&relax aspects, but I can't imagine taking a year off from research entirely. Still, six month or a year away from my office, at full or 1/2 pay, is a nice perk.

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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by ieee488 » Sat May 17, 2014 3:52 pm

halfnine wrote:But returning to work isn't as big of a deal as people think.
I think people who don't encounter any difficulties tend to pooh-pooh the real potential for problems.
Just because you didn't encounter issues does not mean there won't be for others.

Perhaps you were just lucky.
Trying taking leaves when you are older and in the expendable employee category and with this economy may have different results.

One never knows.
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Re: Taking a leave of absence for one year

Post by avalpert » Sat May 17, 2014 9:40 pm

ieee488 wrote:
halfnine wrote:But returning to work isn't as big of a deal as people think.
I think people who don't encounter any difficulties tend to pooh-pooh the real potential for problems.
And I think people who don't try tend to overestimate the potential problems (which should come as no surprise to anyone here as overestimating risk of the unknown is a common behavioral bias). Sure, some people may have issues just as some people will get bit by sharks - but it is less likely than the common person assumes.
Trying taking leaves when you are older and in the expendable employee category and with this economy may have different results.
How did you get yourself in the expendable employee category to begin with? I can't imagine that is good for your financial well being either.
One never knows.
One never does - but that doesn't mean one should be afraid to find out.

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