If the “Great Resignation” has you job shopping and dreaming about what a new position would be like, you are not alone. An estimated 4.3 million people resign from their jobs in January 2022 alone, after a historic 48 million people quit throughout 2021.1 But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side… Many job-hoppers have since expressed regret over their decision to leave.2 Whether you’ve already secured a new position, or are just taking a look at other opportunities available, be sure to avoid regret by doing these 6 things before you resign.
1.) Max Out Your 401(k)
One of the best things to do before you resign is to front-load your 401(k). You also want to max out your employer matching contributions. In 2022, you can contribute up to $20,500 per year ($27,000 if over the age of 50) and many employers will match a portion of your contributions.3 Take advantage of this by front-loading your 401(k) with contributions before you quit.
If you plan to resign in June, contribute as much as possible before you leave. This has three benefits:
- Front-loading allows you to maximize your employer match even though you won’t be there for the whole year.
- Since your money is invested sooner than in a typical year, you can benefit from additional compound interest.
- Your new job will probably make you wait at least a couple of months before you are eligible to contribute to their retirement plan. By front-loading your previous employer’s plan, you won’t miss out on months of contributions when you have to wait for eligibility at your new job.
Once you leave, you will have 60 days to initiate a rollover to a new account. Make sure you have all the appropriate logins so you can do this in a timely fashion and avoid any unnecessary taxes.
Keep in mind that not all 401(k) plans will match front-loaded contributions. Be sure to check your plan documents before taking this step.
2.) Check Your Vesting Schedule Before You Resign
Understanding your vesting schedule is another key component of a properly planned resignation. Many people don’t realize that the “extra” money they receive from their employers (retirement matching, bonuses, and stock options) may have stipulations tied to them in the form of vesting.
For instance, retirement matching contributions are typically tied to a certain length of service. This means the funds are not yours to keep unless you’ve worked at your company for a specific length of time (anywhere from 2 to 7 years). If you are right on the cusp of attaining 100% vesting, plan to quit after you’ve reached that milestone. There’s no sense giving up potentially thousands of dollars of extra compensation by quitting now as opposed to waiting a couple more months.
Conversely, if your employer match equates to only a couple hundred dollars and you would have to wait several years until it is fully vested, you may be better off leaving now than waiting that long.
3.) Maximize Your Healthcare Coverage Before You Resign
Take a look at the details of your healthcare coverage before you resign. Depending on your plan, you may be able to leverage additional coverage by quitting in the first couple days of a month. This is because many employer-sponsored healthcare plans will remain active through the last month of your employment. So if you quit on June 1st, you will have coverage until June 30th, giving you extra time to find a new plan. On the flip side, if you quit on June 20th, you only have 10 days to find additional coverage.
Since healthcare is another benefit that requires a waiting period before eligibility, maximizing the days of coverage you have left with your previous employer is a smart thing to do to protect yourself. This is especially important if you have any ongoing health issues or plans for medical care in the near future.
Also, be sure to take advantage of your medical benefits before resigning. Have you had your annual physical, 6-month dental check-up, or annual eye exam? Make sure to schedule those before your coverage expires. Don’t put off keeping up with your health because you’re itching to leave your job. Instead, be proactive and leverage as much of your current healthcare plan as you can before leaving.
4.) Get the Most Out of Your Benefits
Nonetheless, you should be sure to fully utilize all of your benefits before you submit your resignation. Don’t just think in terms of healthcare and retirement benefits. Many employers offer a suite of other benefits that you may not realize.
- Bonus: If you receive an annual or quarterly bonus, plan to leave after you’ve received the funds.
- Parental Leave & Fertility Support: If you know you want kids or are in the process of expanding your family, take advantage of these benefits before you transition to a new job. You might not be eligible or might not have access to this support in your new position.
- Tuition Reimbursement: Utilize this perk to further your education and improve your career prospects.
- Other Benefits: You may have access to other benefits including employee discounts, free tickets, or gym memberships. Keep these in mind as you plan your resignation and don’t leave any money or benefits on the table.
You worked hard to earn your employee benefits and you should make the most of every last one before resigning.
5.) Secure Loans for Major Purchases
If you are planning a major purchase like a car or a home, apply for and secure the loan before you resign. This is very important, especially when applying for a mortgage. Many lenders require 2 years of solid employment history to ensure your income and assets are stable enough to support a mortgage. Job changes right before a large purchase can signal riskiness to the lender. This may result in a potentially higher interest rate, higher down payment, or even a flat-out denial.
Given the ultra-competitive nature of the current housing market, it is crucial that you do everything possible to set yourself up for success. This includes delaying your job change until after you’ve obtained your loan.
This is not a one-size-fits-all recommendation. You could receive a significant pay increase at your next position which would help you qualify for better lending terms. Use your best judgment and work with a financial professional to help you plan for large purchases.
6.) Use All of Your Vacation or Sick Time
If your vacation or sick time won’t be paid out, plan to quit after you’ve collected a full year’s worth of paid vacation time or sick days. You can use this time as a buffer between jobs. Enjoy yourself and relax before transitioning to a new position.
Some states consider paid vacations to be waged. In this case, your employer may be required to pay an amount equivalent to your vacation days in your final paycheck. Check out the laws for your particular state to ensure you get all that you are owed. Don’t let your employer skimp on your wages or assume that you don’t know the laws of your state. Prepare to advocate for yourself and ensure your resignation is not one of regret.
Partner With a Professional Before You Resign
Resign from your job without anxiety or fear. It can be an exciting chance to branch out and start a new chapter in your career through proactive planning. At Calamita Wealth Management, we are here to help you through all of life’s transitions, and changing jobs is no exception. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you plan for the future, we’re always here! Schedule an introductory phone call using our online calendar or reach out to us at (704) 276-7325 or email@example.com.
Todd Calamita is the founder and managing principal of Calamita Wealth Management. Calamita Wealth is an independent, fee-only wealth management company located in Charlotte, NC, serving people locally and across the country. It focuses on providing wealth management solutions to affluent individuals over age 50 and their families. He has had more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He is passionate about helping people have a better life. Todd does this by designing and implementing customized financial plans that bring clarity and confidence.
Todd is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CERTIFIED DIVORCE FINANCIAL ANALYST® professional. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio University. Todd also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. He has authored a book, Plan Smart: Conquering 10 Common Money Traps, as well as numerous articles on wide-ranging personal finance topics, from taxes to retirement accounts. He has also been featured in a Financial Boot Camp TV series as a volunteer showing people how to make smart decisions with their money. When he’s not working, you can find Todd spending time with his wife, Teresa, and their two sons, Colin and Cameron. He enjoys rock climbing, swimming, and traveling. Todd even has a black belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. To learn more about Todd, connect with him on LinkedIn.