Rethink the break: How to financially account for it

Today, I had to write something technical. Writing an opinion piece is my comfort zone, writing outside of it, technical specially, is a stretch.

And stretch causes stress. And stress I hate.

So the break.

Isn’t that how it works in life too?

The monotony of usual

Let’s be honest and face the truth. Neither is working everyday of your life a usual. Nor is staying with someone forever. We were not born with an understanding of these things.

As kids, the usual is to make everyday unusual. Isn’t it? What I ate yesterday, I don’t want to eat today. What I played yesterday, I don’t want to play today. I want to make new friends everyday. Trouble my parents with something new everyday. It was just a way of life. Everyday unusual.

And then as we grow up, the monotony of life sets in. 9 hours work, 8 hours sleep, 3 hours commute, 4 hours for ourselves which we while away on social media or Netflix.

Meanwhile, there is another person in the same house living the same life. And so monotony is doubled and looks uglier than it is.

You live this day in and day out and one day you realise how life is just passing by you. That’s when you decide you need a break. You need time for yourself.

Taking break is a new age phenomenon

Elders sometimes wonder why our generation is in such a dire need of breaks whereas they never really thought that was an option! All I can say is that your question has your answer too. You never really had as many options as we do.

Sometimes our parents can’t understand how gravely the technology and internet has affected our generation.

How we don’t have a security of job anymore because technology renders us redundant every few months! It is a struggle to stay relevant and to feel useful when half of your tasks today are automated tomorrow and you sit and look for new work everyday!

How we have to socialize via social media because blue ticks are the new and upgraded batch of honor. Because there is so much information and knowledge sharing happening there, in between all the noise, that staying away is to keep yourself from growing.

How entertainment for us has shifted from television to internet, which is not censored. So yes, a lot of what entertains us is something that we can’t watch with you sitting besides us. So family time has reduced.

How we are now able to see people who have the same interest as us and building their careers in those fields. How we now know that it is possible to not do the regular and still have a financially secure life. And how that makes us question ourselves, our dedication to our passion and our ability to pursue it.

How the job insecurity, financial instability, possibility of doing so much with life, follow our passion etc translates to fear of starting a family. Of letting go of all that is good and possibly multiply all that is a struggle.

And therefore, all we are left with are two people handling all this day in and day out, trying to make their place in this jungle.

I am not saying we are right and elders are wrong. It is just what it is.

Off course, it is not generalised across this generation also. There are people who stick with a company,have soft skills that can’t be automated or are smart enough to work their way around it, moderate their social media use, watch news and tele serials with their parents, have a family and live a settled life.

In all probability, these are not the people who take break.

Rest of us do. And we can be categorised easily.

The Chill Zoners

This lot of us take a break to chill. We are not troubled by anything or anyone. We are just fed up of monotony. We take a break and can give our pets a tough competition on killing time. Just like them, we sit on one sofa, then another, then lie down on bed, first on our stomach, then on our back. And we do this till we are bored of all that we do.

I tried this once. Had no sofas at home since we had recently shifted. Used floor seating. Finally moved on when the back started hurting bad!

The Frustrated rebels

This lot of us have bosses who love sipping on our blood with straw, little by little. This can cause mental torture, financial torture, physical torture etc. How? Mental torture is by belittling you everyday. Financial torture is by either not paying as much or by not refunding what you spend for company’s work. I once had to leave the company because not only were they not refunding my Rs 50,000 + of travel allowance, they expected me to spend further everyday on travel. I cut my losses and left.

Physical torture is what MeToo movement was all about. Only the legit part.

The Passion Pipers

This lot of us want to pursue our passion and feel the job is coming in the way of us being superawesome at what we think we do best. The passion creates a drive that is unexplainable. I can only tell you this. Once you get to pursue your passion, it gets very difficult to do anything else.

The Skill Honers

This lot of us feel redundant in the job, or want to change streams or stay updated with what is new. Also, a promotion in the job may be dependent on certain degree, as stupid as that sounds. And so we take a break to do some course, to learn a new skill, get certified etc.

The Soul Searchers

This lot of us somehow feel that we need a break to search ourselves. To find meaning of our existence. We feel lost in the sea of awesome lives being lived on social media and we realise we need to look inwards to filter all the noise. And we go on a mountain, we do meditation, social service etc to try and connect with the human that we are.

Parent’s favourite

Finally, a lot of us take a break for parental duties. This, by the way, is the only break that our parents support and understand. This can be from 3 months to an year to forever, depends on the new parents and how they manage the new addition to the family and added responsibilities and tasks that come with it.

Whichever category you see yourself in, you need to plan for the break. An unplanned, unsupported and timeless break has a potential to screw up a lot of things — your career, your relationships, your financial health and your mental health.

Managing your break

The urge or need to take a break builds overtime. Still we tend to make it a last moment decision. We behave as if we just had a thought and the thought is so strong that I have to do it now. It does not work like that.

In all probability, you know today when you need a break or that you will need a break soon. Even if you don’t, provision for a two year break in your financial planning say 3 years from now.

You can predict one year or two years to feel good. But third year may be a surprise.

The idea is this, when you plan like this, you know the duration of your break- 2 years. You know the time you have in hand to plan for it — 3 years. Now you have to ensure three things :

  • You have what your break costs
  • Your savings stay unaffected
  • You have what your dependents need

Now, say you want a break writing a book! You want to go, take a room in mountains and write. Account for it. Stay and food. Say 5 lakh (20000 per month for 24 months).

Next you make sure your savings are not affected for those 2 years. So, 8.4 lakh (for 35000 per month).

Then, if you have dependents you have to ensure your break does not affect them. So 6 lakh (for 25000 per month).

You need to build close to what will be 23 lakh after 3 years. For that you need to save Rs 54000 per month for next three years.

That’s too much!

Yes it is. Good you realise. So when you take a break at a spur of a moment without planning, you become dependent too. Then someone needs to support you, either your parents or your spouse or your friends. Additionally they have to run the house — rent, bills, grocery, travels etc.

You really think it is fair to subject them to all this just because you felt the urge?

If you know today about an upcoming break in two to three years, you better plan to cover for all that is mentioned above — cost of the break, dependents and savings.

If time is less, try and cover for cost of break and dependents at least.

If the passion is above everything, the driving force, the only thing that matters etc, cover for your cost at least.

There is no going further below. If you can’t support your needs, why expect it from someone else? If you do have someone supporting you selflessly, please put a timeline to your break.

“My passion has no timeline, it may take me 5 years or 50. I can’t put a timeline to it.”

Your passion has a cost too. Cost for 5 years or 50. What about that?

If that person is your last hope, you want them healthy and able for long. That kind of stress will not help.

Do it for your own sake, if not theirs.

Idea is simple, when you take a break you have other things to figure out. If you don’t figure out the money beforehand, most of your break time will be wasted in fire fighting.

That causes more stress.

And stress you hate.

So, rethink your break. It helps.

Originally published at She Talk Cents.

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