5 Ways to Take Time Off (And Still Be Able to Pay Your Bills)

Whether you are a W-9, 1099, or some other kind of worker, taking time off requires quite a bit of planning in advance.  Therefore, it’s important to have a game-plan when you’re faced with a temporary work-respite.  Even if you’ll be spending the break on holiday, or doing something else leisurely.  Or just burning vacation days to get shit done at home.

Whatever the situation, taking time off from work doesn’t equate to a free-pass on paying bills.  So here’s five ways to confront a divergence from the workplace, without burning your savings account up.

1.  Have A Profitable Hobby

Sounds pretty ideal, right?  I mean, if you’re hobby is able to support you financially then you’re set!  The only problem is, that’s typically not the case for most people; however, a hobby doesn’t have to be responsible for the lion’s share of income.  If you’re able to find an enjoyable activity that can convert your effort into some dollars, that’s helpful.  For example, I play guitar and plan on joining a group to play gigs at some bars/other venues.  Playing guitar has been a hobby of mine for years… and now will (fingers crossed) convert it into a profitable hobby.  Other examples:

  • teachers who tutor after school
  • artists who sell their crafts online
  • hoarders who sell stuff through internet stores
  • designers who do freelance
  • posting your stuff on facebook marketplace

2.  Start Saving 3 Months Ahead

Pretty self-explanatory here, except there’s one small problem.  Actually doing it!  Now you are already saving a good chunk of your income I’m sure (personally ~33%).  But an absence from work could result in a prolonged stretch where you’re relying on banked money to pay bills.  I guess the point is to have that emergency fund developed.  And in no way should you be taking a vacation while you still have credit card debt.  Use that money to pay-off debt!

Of course, who the hell am I to tell you how to manage your money?  But I’ve been there before, and I’m not just talking hearsay.  I’m speaking from first-hand experience.  Last week I had to cancel on a friend’s bachelor party, for example.  Had bought my plane tickets and everything, except I mis-planned a surgery that was necessary.  And the time recovering in the hospital ended up overlapping with the trip, which meant cancelled flights, Airbnbs, etc..  And although it turned out that “saying no” to fun stuff led to an extra-bolstered financial cushion; I’m still pretty bummed out about missing all the fun.  🙁

So, now I’m using that extra cash for living expenses until I’m back on the road driving again.  Boring? Yes.  Have I had to dip into my savings yet? No.

3.  Always Be Cutting (your expenses)

The biggest recurring-monthly-bill that I had last year (or last summer even) was my credit card(s) statement.  That’s because I was paying 500% the minimum payment, to drive down my debt-principal.  And now that I’ve reached ground-zero, THAT monthly expense has disappeared.  Even little crap like having Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime can add-up in a big way.  So always be on the lookout for ways to trim down the outflow.

always be cutting expenses

It’s worth reiterating too that your stuff is another major source of expenses.  Don’t let the things you own, own you.  And if you have any kind of down-time, try cutting out some of the clutter while you’re cutting the (cable TV) cord.  Not only does donating/selling/disposing of hardly used personal items give you a psychological boost; you’ll effectively be training your brain to recognize how useless most of crap that you bought in the past really are.

4.  Don’t Have Revolving Credit Debt

This might be easier said than done for most people; however, if you happen to be forced into a period of unemployment/sabbatical/transition, etc., it’s again super helpful not to have a monthly credit card bill.  That’s why it’s of the utmost of financial importance to reduce, reduce, reduce your credit-debt pile.  And ideally you should only be paying-off new purchases that are made each month (i.e., after you’ve already eliminated any/all old debt that was laying around).  Similar to #3 above, paying off debt can be a great way to eliminate expenses.  Because you’re probably getting hit with interest charges on credit cards; take back control of your money now!!

No matter what stage or phase of life you’re in, everyone’s susceptible to the dreaded layoff.  Especially rideshare-app drivers.  So it’s important to follow each of the steps outlined above, and if you still have credit-card debt make reducing your balance(s) to zero a priority.  For me, reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” was helpful in aligning a lot of thoughts that I previously had on this topic.  Dave’s famous snowball method is highly touted as an effective way of dealing with multiple credit-card balances.

But don’t take my word for it.  Look at some real-life examples of people who have reached the primary goal of anyone remotely interested in better-managing their personal finances:  becoming debt-free.

5. Embrace The Change

Finally, whether having time away from employment was intentional or not, embracing your new-found situation will only prove to bolster spirits.  When we get down-on-our-luck, that’s when you’ll be more likely to waste your stockpiled resources on dumb stuff like gambling.  For me, when things are good and money’s coming in, I’m more likely to be MORE frugal; because splurging feels like I’m working against myself.

Along these lines, having a positive attitude towards the future will ensure that your savings stay staved.  And otherwise are only spent on the essentials, or items necessary to get back on your feet.  It’s okay to “go out” every once in awhile too, but keep the end-game in mind when you do.  Heck, even some social networking may be in order during your temporary release into the wild.  Again, don’t go drinking your sorrows away.   But if you’re hitting some kind of milestone that requires a minimal investment to partake in (e.g., reunions, weddings, anniversaries, etc.) it’s probably okay to indulge somewhat.  Just make sure you don’t have a hospital trip on the horizon too.

Have you ever had to take time-off from work, either intentionally or not?  How were you able to cope financially?  Did all your bills get paid on-time?