My Funemployment Bucket List

I am very bad at being unemployed. And by that I don’t mean I am not enjoying my newfound freedom from my recent job, not at all! Rather, I am too employed, even while I am not working for a pay check.

Salary research and negotiation for new job offer? Check. Extensive market research to prepare for new role and field? Check. Batch meal prepping? Check. Put together an Etsy dropshipping store? In progress.

There are so many things to do in this world and always so little time. And yet at some point, I hope I will be able to slow down and just smell the roses, so to speak. When that time comes and the delicious boredom starts to set in, I’ve put together a list of activities that might be nice to do given that I have a little bit of time. This is not a bucket list in a traditional sense– I won’t be sad if these things don’t get done. Rather, I consider it like a menu. Fun side quests for me to pursue while I wait for new content to be released on my main campaign.

  • Eat banana sorbet with chocolate olive oil sauce at my favorite gelato shop
  • Shop at the Japanese grocery store in nearby town and try natto
  • Go to one of the verdant green spaces nearby and read all the books in my queue (at the top of my list are Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Representation by Hilary Putnam)
  • Travel locally: Providence, Acadia, Portland, New York City, or the Berkshires
  • Travel domestically, but not so locally: visit my friends in Seattle or Augusta, or visit Detroit and get a sense of the housing investment opportunities there
  • Rock climb at the local gym in the middle of the day while it’s empty or do a lunch time yoga or hip hop dance class
  • Keep running along the nearby (very long) bike path until I’ve reached a town I’ve never been to before
  • Watch a film at the independent movie theater (here’s looking at you Tully)
  • Write or outline some new fiction
  • Go to a random Meetup and make new friends
  • Work on one of my data science or web app project ideas to build my portfolio
  • Brush up on my Spanish by watching some telenovelas and reading simple novels

If you had a month of funemployment, what would you do?

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My Staged Plan For Unemployment

Six weeks and counting until I leave my job. Time flies by quick.

I’m waist-deep prepping for work deadlines that wrap up right before I leave so I’m in adrenaline rushed, get ‘er done mode. Even though the burnout part of my brain is ready to check out, I’m doing pretty well at making sure all the big things go smoothly. I want to make sure my teams are in a good place by the time I depart. I haven’t told most of my colleagues I’m leaving yet. We’re all in a crunch so I’m waiting to announce until things slow down around mid-May.

There was a period that I considered contracting for my company part-time. With Fiancé’s new job, I’d be able to make enough for us to live on pretty readily. I’d still be open to the possibility if it works out, and management seems to be on board, but the bureaucracy doesn’t seem to be able to get it together in time for us to have a contract in place by the time I leave. And I refuse to stick around in limbo all summer hoping that changes.

So I’m now outlining the plan assuming I won’t be contracting and I won’t find a new job before I leave. Originally I drew it up still relying on a separate finances model. (Honestly, I’ve been putting off combining my finances with fiancé because of my upcoming unemployment. I really hate the idea that right when we merge our financial lives, I’m no longer contributing to the family pot. He’s been very supportive about everything– pointing out that I’ve contributed the lion’s share while he’s been unemployed before and that I’ll probably be back to work again soon. Still, it feels weird and vulnerable and while I like that we can rely on each other, it’s very scary to loosen my grip and feel less in control.) But I’m coming around to basing things off our proposed joint budget.

Introducing a staged approach

Because this period of unemployment is going to include my first real summer in the six years since I graduated college, I really want to make the most of the time to decompress. But in order to make that happen, I want to set boundaries so that I feel free to really enjoy this time and not rush myself into hasty decisions going into my next job.

According to my monthly net worth projections (based on my monthly tracking), I’ve done pretty well enough adding to our cash position that even if I stuff most of my upcoming paychecks into my Mega Backdoor Roth 401k, we’ll be sitting on more cash than we would typically want or need in our emergency fund. How freaked out I plan to be will be based off of where we are in terms of that cash position: well above normal emergency fund, getting close, at or below, or in the red.

Here’s my unemployment in four potential stages:

Stage 1 – Guilt-free decompression

  • Primary goal: relax.
  • Spend money as I would normally.
  • Put together revised resume and LinkedIn. Otherwise, no obligation to search for jobs.
  • Only accept job offers from companies that align with my values as well as my professional and personal goals. No accepting low-balls or any position I don’t feel 95%+ about.
  • Duration: until 1/3 of “excess” cash position is spent, approximately two months (June 2018 – July 2018)

Stage 2 – Strategic workforce re-entry

  • Primary goal: get a good job.
  • Spend money according to joint budget.
  • Apply for jobs in product management. Use variety of avenues — recruiters, LinkedIn/Glassdoor/Indeed/AngelCo, Meetups, alumni networks, personal network
  • Accept job offers that align with professional and personal goals.
  • Duration: until remaining “excess” cash position is spent, approximately four months (August 2018 – November 2018)

Stage 3 – Aggressive workforce re-entry

  • Primary goal: get a job.
  • Spend money according to joint budget but cut personal allowances.
  • Apply for multiple types of tech or tech-adjacent roles- product management, software engineer, data analyst, QA, technical writing. Continue using variety of avenues. Use side hustles to supplement income while waiting for full-time work.
  • Accept job offers which meet minimum salary requirements, that I could deal working at for 1-2 years.
  • Duration: until half of emergency fund is spent, approximately nine months (December 2018 – August 2019)

Stage 4 – Drastic times call for drastic measures

  • Primary goal: stay afloat.
  • Revise joint budget and cut personal allowances.
  • Apply for work within and outside tech. Continue using a variety of avenues. Get in touch with temp agencies. Beg for my old job back? Use side hustles to supplement income while waiting for full-time work. Consider renting out second bedroom to roommate or on AirBnB. Investigate strategies for tax-effectively liquidating assets as needed (brokerage > half retirement > home > rest retirement).
  • Accept any non-illegal job that’ll keep household afloat.
  • Duration: ???

I refuse to write out a stage 5 plan. I’ll worry about it if we get there. Here’s hoping I stay in stages 1 and 2!

What would you do if you left your job? Would you start finding a new job immediately? At what point and by how much would you lower your standards during unemployment? What would you cut first?