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Sabbatical Planning: top 3 questions answered!

As financial planners specializing in sabbatical planning, we hear and answer a lot of questions. 


Planning a sabbatical isn’t (yet) the most common path. So it’s only normal that people will come to us with questions, fears, and doubts.


Today, we’re sharing the 3 main questions potential clients ask us.


We hope this will provide valuable answers to you, too! 


I’m planning on going on a sabbatical in 5-7 years, when should I start working with a financial planner? 


Let’s say you’re planning on taking a sabbatical in the next 5 to 7 years. What’s next? When is the best time to work with a financial planner on your sabbatical planning? When is too early or too late? 

It’s common to be unsure of when is the best time to start the process, especially when the goals are a bit further in the future. Much like retirement, sabbaticals can feel far away at the beginning planning stages. 

Our biggest piece of advice?

“The sooner you start with the goal in mind, the easier it is to put all of the pieces in place”.

Let time work for you, instead of against you.

If you’re 5-7 years out, while there isn’t a magic timeframe to start the process, 2 years is the minimum we recommend

It’s important to note that even 7 years out if you have a clear goal, is not too far out to begin planning, as there are many strategies and decisions to consider. And sometimes having those 5-7 years to take advantage of a particular strategy is exactly what you might want!

Having professional support right from the beginning can really help you plan your dream sabbatical. There is a lot of noise online, so it’s great to have consistent, personalized guidance to help create your desired experience. 

before your sabbatical


How do I plan for my sabbatical and buy a house, go on vacation, set aside education savings for my kids, and, and…?


You’ve got other goals in life than taking a sabbatical and we 100% support that!


We often get asked if we can help with retirement planning, educational savings, and property savings alongside sabbatical planning. To keep it simple: Yes we can! It’s one of the key tenets of how we help our clients, and in fact, talking about your full list of goals is one of the first things we do with new clients. 


We then put your sabbatical planning into the context of your overall financial plan. We carefully consider all aspects of financial planning through the lens of your intended sabbatical. We consider your long term goals post sabbatical (as well as potential shorter term goals) as part of the entire financial strategy. 


We honor everyone’s unique experiences, situations, and desires. A huge amount of focus is placed on prioritization.What are your non-negotiables? And, what feels right? 


There is no absolute order that all of this needs to go in. What may suit one client may not suit another. This is what sets us apart from traditional financial advisors. We help you create your unique, personal timeline. This can look and feel different from the ‘norm’ and we fully support that. We help you determine how you want your life to flow, both in the short-term and in the long-term. We really take the time to get to know you.


“What needs to happen in what timeframe and what is a reasonable amount of money for each goal?”


We spend time discussing your flexibility and what’s truly important to you. 


  • Is it important for you to fully fund your children’s education, or is contributing to it okay?
  • Is it important for you to own a house over renting? 
  • What style of living is important to you?


You have a unique life. And you should have a unique, personalized financial plan! 


“Every client gets to decide how they prioritize, and how they want to fund different goals.”


We stop at each goal, bring it into our strategy, and see how it all comes together. We consider which elements are flexible, which ones are fixed, and how one decision can impact the next. 


Ultimately, we start with a blank slate and build a plan that’s perfectly tailored to you.


career-break and sabbatical


How much should I save in my 401(k) vs. save for my sabbatical?


The answer to this question very much depends on the individual. There are a number of factors at play, such as levels of income, savings already in place, potential employer stock saving programs, the type of sabbatical that’s being planned, how close it is, what type of travel it will be, and the general budget both at home and while on sabbatical. Not to mention long-term goals, like retirement. 


Many clients also have a desire to retire early, so we want to ensure we are saving for both goals and being mindful of which accounts are being fully funded, or partially funded at different points in time.


“We have some great tools that help us to visualize how it will all play out over the long term.”


Generally, this is one of the key questions that we work through with clients. There is no blanket right or wrong way to save, but being strategic and matching savings goals to spending goals is important. We focus on account-level strategy and map out contributions and withdrawals over time to different types of accounts. This helps to ensure that funds will be available for each goal while also avoiding penalties, unintended tax consequences, or other surprises.


It’s not uncommon for people to solely focus on one savings goal at a time instead of moving multiple goals forward simultaneously. We live in a pretty linear society. The mindset of postponing certain goals (ahem, sabbatical or retirement) in order to prioritize another savings goal is common. But we like to think bigger picture.


“Our philosophy is if you could figure out what it would take to make all of your goals happen, and if you just have to adjust a few things to make it all work – is it not worth seeing what that might look like?”


sabbatical planning

We help remove the “this or that” idea, and fully support a “this and that” abundant mentality. 

Everything boils down to the powerful question, “What do I really want?”. Once this becomes clear, even if you want multiple things, it can be a matter of just clarifying the steps and getting things moving in the right direction. 


We love to support specific goal setting over multiple timeframes, while also being open to what life can bring. The entire planning process can be one of discovery.

Have more burning questions? If you are unsure of what the first step could be, get in touch. With experience in both sabbaticals and financial planning, we’re here to support you in making your sabbatical dream a reality. Ready to get started? Click here to learn more.

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