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Sabbatical at work -- paid time off vs. cash
Old 08-18-2019, 10:55 PM   #1
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Sabbatical at work -- paid time off vs. cash

I am eligible to take a sabbatical at my company - yay. Its a pretty big deal and only about 10% of the company qualifies (combination of tenure and how far up the career ladder u happen to have climbed).

I have the option to cash out the sabbatical - I get 8 weeks of pay. OR I can take 8 weeks off (paid).

I am torn! On one hand, I have dreamt of this day and thought I'd be excited to travel, etc. However, now that the day is here I am not so sure. I feel like the money will be handy to pay down some debt and reach FIRE that much sooner. Or perhaps do that backyard patio project DW has been asking for (it should enhance the home value and kids seem to like the idea as well).

With the cash option, I can take the cash and still take a long(er) vacation using my vacation days. Vs. just the paid time off which I will likely squander sitting at home (or spend a bunch of my "own money" to travel - not an appealing option for me at the moment).

Anyone faced such a dilemma? Love to hear from my fellow FIREbrands.
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Old 08-19-2019, 05:43 AM   #2
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In simplest terms, it's 8 weeks off now, or 8 weeks earlier to FIRE. If you feel like 8 weeks off is just time squandered, what is ER going to be like for you? Also, those 8 weeks aren't necessarily relaxing with the prospect of returning to work in 56 days looming.

The idea of the sabbatical is to recharge, so that you don't burn out from your job. In FIRE world, it's to make sure you don't get too sick and tired of work before you are FI. If you feel ok about work and a little vacation is all you need, take the cash. But this can also be a good "practice" ER, and you can get some worthwhile stuff done as well. It probably would've been nicer over the summer with the kids off school, though I don't know how old they are or if they are in a non-traditional school or calendar.

Definitely a personal choice only you can make. I probably would've taken it if I could've spent a summer off with my son, or been a ski bum for a few weeks.
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Old 08-19-2019, 05:56 AM   #3
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How old are you, and how many more years do you want to keep working there? Do you have your eye on any promotions? What's the "culture" around sabbaticals there?

Is it totally cool to leave for 2 months and come back and still get that raise, that promotion, that good project? Does taking it put more work on your peers or is your organization well structured for that?

I ask all this because in a lot of companies, if you could slip away for 2 months and there's no impact, someone will notice that and be LESS likely to promote you or give you the raise or bonus vs. those who were there the whole year. I know the culture is changing in a lot of more forward-thinking companies, which is great, to recognize the value of time away. But if not, proceed with caution.

Maybe take it 50/50?
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:35 AM   #4
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I would take the time, you can never get that back, hang out with the kids, do the project while you are able to. Who knows what tomorrow brings?
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Old 08-19-2019, 07:53 AM   #5
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Do you take every vacation day each year and actually use it? If you don't the PTO wouldn't mean a lot.

Second I notice you talking about paying down debt. Car or CC cards or what kind of debt? This matters because an additional 8 weeks of traveling or a new patio will take the focus off the debt.
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Old 08-19-2019, 07:55 AM   #6
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I think I would take the cash and invest it for E.R. If you have plenty of vacation to keep you sane in the workplace, and really not sure what to do with the time off, it indeed would be wasted.

It may be more of a let down in the weeks following your return if you enjoyed yourself while on sabbatical....kind of "back to the grind" with no relief in sight.
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lionfire View Post
I am eligible to take a sabbatical at my company - yay. Its a pretty big deal and only about 10% of the company qualifies (combination of tenure and how far up the career ladder u happen to have climbed).

I have the option to cash out the sabbatical - I get 8 weeks of pay. OR I can take 8 weeks off (paid).

I am torn! On one hand, I have dreamt of this day and thought I'd be excited to travel, etc. However, now that the day is here I am not so sure. I feel like the money will be handy to pay down some debt and reach FIRE that much sooner. Or perhaps do that backyard patio project DW has been asking for (it should enhance the home value and kids seem to like the idea as well).

With the cash option, I can take the cash and still take a long(er) vacation using my vacation days. Vs. just the paid time off which I will likely squander sitting at home (or spend a bunch of my "own money" to travel - not an appealing option for me at the moment).

Anyone faced such a dilemma? Love to hear from my fellow FIREbrands.
Two months is a long time. Is there a way to split it 50/50? Take 4 weeks off and get paid for 4 weeks?
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Aerides View Post
How old are you, and how many more years do you want to keep working there? Do you have your eye on any promotions? What's the "culture" around sabbaticals there?

Is it totally cool to leave for 2 months and come back and still get that raise, that promotion, that good project? Does taking it put more work on your peers or is your organization well structured for that?

I ask all this because in a lot of companies, if you could slip away for 2 months and there's no impact, someone will notice that and be LESS likely to promote you or give you the raise or bonus vs. those who were there the whole year. I know the culture is changing in a lot of more forward-thinking companies, which is great, to recognize the value of time away. But if not, proceed with caution.

Maybe take it 50/50?
I was going to say take time off. 8 weeks pay, less taxes, will likely not make a big difference in the scheme of things.

Then I read the above post, and it got me wondering about the company "culture" and expectations. I think I would explore what others have done. If most everyone takes the time off, with no ill effects, then I would take the sabbatical.

If most people take the pay, or if there is a history of repercussions, then I would think twice.

It's too bad that you need to think twice about taking a company perk, but better safe than sorry.
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:18 AM   #9
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I created my own sabbatical to test drive my potential move to a different area. I used my year's vacation at the end of a year and the next year's vacation to string together a 7 week vacation in my new area. True, the company didn't give it to me - I earned the vacation.

IF you want to do something totally different for 8 weeks - try something new - test drive your ER, then take the time off. Otherwise, I'd suggest taking the cash and put it toward financial independence. As always, YMMV.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:20 PM   #10
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take the vacation - it's there for a reason
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:53 PM   #11
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I'm in my 2nd career now teaching (ex-mega corp). As a result, I have my summers off. All I can chime in is to say the eight weeks will go FAST.

Well, there's more: I start teaching in a couple weeks. It is just about now I have thoughts of "why am I doing this, why not just retire (especially since I am financially able to). Once I am back teaching (a couple/few days in), those thoughts go away and I get into the swing of things (and I really enjoy it).
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:21 PM   #12
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At 43, with 11 years to go, if the OP isn't using 100% of their vacation time, then take the pay and pay off debt. From your introductory post, it sounds like you are well on your way. The hazard of taking 2 months off seems very real to me, and at the very least, you're delaying retirement by 2 months. Best wishes! After 2 months off, it would be hard to come back to w@rk!
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Old 08-20-2019, 06:44 AM   #13
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I can always earn more money. I can't earn more time.
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Old 08-20-2019, 07:23 AM   #14
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I'd go nuts if I took 2 months off of work.

Take the money!

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Old 08-20-2019, 09:15 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by lionfire View Post
I am eligible to take a sabbatical at my company - yay. Its a pretty big deal and only about 10% of the company qualifies (combination of tenure and how far up the career ladder u happen to have climbed).

I have the option to cash out the sabbatical - I get 8 weeks of pay. OR I can take 8 weeks off (paid).

I am torn! On one hand, I have dreamt of this day and thought I'd be excited to travel, etc. However, now that the day is here I am not so sure. I feel like the money will be handy to pay down some debt and reach FIRE that much sooner. Or perhaps do that backyard patio project DW has been asking for (it should enhance the home value and kids seem to like the idea as well).

With the cash option, I can take the cash and still take a long(er) vacation using my vacation days. Vs. just the paid time off which I will likely squander sitting at home (or spend a bunch of my "own money" to travel - not an appealing option for me at the moment).

Anyone faced such a dilemma? Love to hear from my fellow FIREbrands.
Take the time.... as you get fringe (healthcare, pension, etc) that would probably not be included in the cash offer....
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Old 08-20-2019, 02:37 PM   #16
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I can always earn more money. I can't earn more time.
Right...so do you want to delay FIRE by two months (probably by four or five months if you cashed out the $, and invested them over an 11-year period), or do you want to take the time off now? That is the question!
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Old 08-20-2019, 04:14 PM   #17
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If you are seeking FIRE, any debt beyond a mortgage is your enemy. Kill what is there. Avoid future debt like the plague. Think of it this way. If you take the sabbatical while carrying debt, you're financing your sabbatical. Would you take out a loan to pay for a sabbatical?
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Old 08-20-2019, 04:15 PM   #18
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....The idea of the sabbatical is to recharge, so that you don't burn out from your job. ....

Definitely a personal choice only you can make. I probably would've taken it if I could've spent a summer off with my son, or been a ski bum for a few weeks.
+1 I would tend towards taking the time off and recharging my batteries and try to structure the time off as something special to do... a special vacation or cross country train or car trip or a long hike on the Appalachian Trail or the Long Trail or crew with someone moving their boat on the intercoastal.... something different, unusual and ultimately memorable.
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:18 PM   #19
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If you are seeking FIRE, any debt beyond a mortgage is your enemy. Kill what is there. Avoid future debt like the plague. Think of it this way. If you take the sabbatical while carrying debt, you're financing your sabbatical. Would you take out a loan to pay for a sabbatical?
+100.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:00 PM   #20
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Sorry for the delay getting back to this thread. Lots of great responses!

I have decided (99% ) to take the cash and then use my vacation days (say 4-5 weeks) to enjoy my sabbatical. Not sure what I would do with the cash - at the moment, I would use it for 1) a mini-travel vacation, 2) some home addition (patio) and 3) pay the rest into the mortgage.

I did the mortgage amortization math and if I use the entire amount I would get towards paying the principal, it would shave exactly 12 months from my mortgage. Would be done paying the mortgage in 10 yrs instead of 11. Something to think about for sure... although my secret plan is to pay off the loan in bulk once it gets down to <50K.
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