March 26, 2012

Avoiding the Perils of Quitting Work to Stay at Home

working at homeThe primary reason for an individual to leave the workforce in order to remain at home is to give care to a loved one such as a child or elderly parent. While the transition can quickly lead to serious financial issues, carefully planning for the shift can alleviate some of the emotional and financial burden and help determine whether the option is even workable. It is most important to truly understand what is being left behind when leaving ones career and to make a plan to quit that ensures sustainability into the indefinite futures.

One of the most obvious, yet frequently overlooked, aspects of leaving a job is the long-term financial effects of the move. Since leaving a job can mean losing much more than just a paycheck (think employer-sponsored savings plans, health insurance, and job perks), it is imperative to consider the effects of lost income on daily, monthly, and yearly budgets and savings. Also, a further risk of leaving the workforce for an extended period of time is that, once returning to a career, paychecks may be smaller and offered benefits may change. Knowing that a period of caregiving is approaching should signal the start of an immediate planning period guided by a few important considerations.

One of the first things that can be done before giving a notice of resignation is to bring your employer into the planning process. Most people can’t absorb the loss of an entire salary so discussing options with your employer may open up heretofore unknown choices. These options may include the abilities to work part time or on a flex-time schedule, or even work from home. Not only can accepting an alternate work schedule allow you to continue receiving a regular income, but can also allow you to remain in the workforce, protect your value as an employee, and make it must easier to return to the workforce fulltime once your caregiving duties end. Otherwise, you may find that you must reenter at a lower-level position or require new training to help you catch up to peers in your field.

A crucial step in keeping anxiety low, risks under control, and finances sustainable is to set short and long-term goals so that you know what to expect in the future. A full-budget analysis may be necessary in order identify potential money-saving tradeoffs such as using family for caregiving support instead of hiring an external one or limiting the use of luxury items. Your own financial security must remain a priority.

Personal attitude should also not go overlooked when considering leaving your career. Feeling resentful or overworked with no recognition can alter your general outlook and affect how you prepare and plan for the future. Before leaving the workforce, don’t simply assume that hiring an outside caregiver is too expensive or disrespectful to your loved one. You better you feel about your career and life choices, the better you can care for those that need you to your highest capacity.

Read more in Work Life Balance

Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.