10 Important Financial Decisions to Make before a Career Change

The days when you were expected to take a job with a company and stay with that company for life, or at least for several years, are long gone. The term “job hopper” carries little stigma in the 21st Century labor force. Nonetheless, making a job change or a career move remains one of the more serious decisions that you make during your career.

The decision to accept or decline a job offer, to make a career change or to become self employed requires careful consideration. Can you afford it? Are you making the right choice? Consider these ten decisions before you take the leap

1. With a New Job, Determine How Much Money You’d Really Be Making

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As a seasoned professional, you probably know more about what really goes into – and comes out of – a paycheck. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be sidetracked by failing to check out the details of a position. A job that pays less in actual salary may include more generous health insurance benefits which could translate into less money out of pocket. While it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to make a dollar-for-dollar comparison, you should determine whether you’re comparing apples with apples or with oranges.

2. Compare Living Expenses if the New Job Requires a Move

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Jobs in larger cities frequently carry heftier salaries to attract talent to areas where living expenses are high. Moving expenses should also be considered if you are moving a long way from your present location, unless your new employer plans to cover the move.

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3. Consider Whether You Are Willing to Trade Time for Money

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A new job may carry a lower salary but include desirable perks such as generous paid time off or the flexibility to work from home. Depending on your circumstances and personal preferences, trading time for money may be a viable, even desirable option. As long as both jobs pay enough to meet your financial obligations, the emphasis of your decision can shift from money concerns to quality-of-life issues.

4. How Will You Finance Additional Education or Training?


If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor but you are already 35 years old with a mortgage, spouse and children, you are facing a more complicated proposition than a fresh-faced 25-year-old. This is not to say that you should automatically forego your dream. But you should take a realistic assessment of your financial circumstances. Can you afford to take on the student loan debt and not be able to work full time as the course load progresses? Is your family prepared for your career change? Do they support your goals?

5. Will the Change Require Severe Financial Sacrifices by Your Family?


Many career experts advise you to pursue your dreams without regard for the financial consequences. But it is unrealistic not to consider the financial implications for your family of your transitioning from a well paid job to a position that pays little or nothing. Is it really fair to suddenly ask your spouse to shoulder the finances? Will your career change impact your children in any way, say, if your current employer is providing them a college scholarship? Making big moves like this, with a family that depends on your income, isn’t always wise.

6. Can a Lateral Move or Slight Demotion Lead to Future Career Gains?

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Back in the day, the only acceptable career progression was upward. A job would grow to pay more and allow greater responsibility, and employers took a dim view of any other trajectory. But especially if you are contemplating a career change, you may need to take a job with less pay or a lower seniority level to get your foot in the door. Would the lapse in pay be worth it? How long will it take to recoup your previous salary?

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Nowadays, it’s also worth noting that a flashy sounding job may not have much upward mobility, particularly if you’re trying to work at a startup. While that may be hard to process as a good thing if you’re old fashioned, it could translate to future dividends as the company grows.

7. Do You Have Enough Capital to Launch Your Own Business?

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Being your own boss. Calling the shots. It all sounds appealing. Launching your own business can be one of the most exciting and rewarding ventures you can take during your career. But the sad truth is that a large number of new businesses fail within a few years of launch, and one the most prevalent factors for failure is insufficient working capital. Although many businesses start off with determination and little money, others are capital intensive. It is imperative to make an objective determination of how, or if, you will be able to finance your venture.

8. What Are the Tax Implications?


Two words: tax bracket. In some unfortunate circumstances, a slight boost in salary may be enough to project you into a different tax bracket. You should not forego a job simply because you will pay more in federal or state income taxes. But you should look at any implications the extra financial burden may have for your budget. You should also see if there are tax credits or deductions you may take to offset any new tax obligations.

9. Can You Get Student Loan Deferments?

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You may feel stymied from pursuing your career goals by hefty student loan obligations. But you may be able to get a deduction, suspension or even cancellation of some or all your student loans. For instance, Peace Corps volunteers can get student loan deferments while they are stationed in their assignments. And under certain circumstances, you may be able to cancel a significant proportion of your loans if you become a teacher. (Nolo)

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10. Is Your Decision Driven Solely By Dollar Signs?

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Be honest with yourself. If the main or only appeal a new job holds for you can be measured in dollars and cents, think long and hard before taking a job offer. Of course, if you are facing eviction or another type of financial emergency, you may not have the option of weighing whether a job is the right one. But even if you are under the gun, you should not resign yourself to a lifetime of working in a job you hate. Corner offices and company cars can only go so far in counterbalancing a toxic work atmosphere.