6 ways to minimise your financial risk

Making a big career change can seem like stepping off some kind of financial precipice. You’ve built up knowledge and skills in one area, and making a change could mean reducing your income and losing stability (if temporarily).

There’s no magic, get-rich-quick solution here. The key is less exciting and much more practical: it’s to de-risk.

De-risking every aspect of your life and getting smart about money will give you the freedom to transition away from a safe salary (should you even need to) and explore where your new direction could take you.

Here are 6 ways to minimise your financial risk:

  1. Live with less

An obvious one, but the best place to start. Do you really need those three coffees and deli lunch every day? Take a long and honest look at your last month’s bank statement. What did you really need, and what was ‘nice to have’? There are likely to be some outgoings that fall outside the ‘absolutely necessary’ category.

  1. Create an escape fund

Try the Three-Account Saving System:

Account A: where you keep just enough money for all your fixed costs, usually direct debits (rent, bills, subscriptions).

Account B: a budget for your variable costs (eating out, transport, groceries, shopping), which you take cash out of and keep an eye on throughout the month.

Account C: your escape fund, where all your savings will start piling up.

You’ll know exactly where you stand at any point in the month, and protect your savings from accidentally disappearing on the next shopping trip or night out.

(Bonus tip: join Monzo to easily track your finance).

  1. Don’t quit quickly

It’s tempting to want to make a big leap overnight into something totally new. But there are ways to explore new directions in your spare time (we’ll come on to this in the next section), which means you can move forward while still on your employer’s time. Bide your time in your current job, and see how long you can go – and then look into whether you can go part-time instead of quitting completely.

  1. Negotiate a sabbatical

You’d be surprised how many employers are happy to offer you a fixed amount of time off (preferring this option to losing you altogether and needing to find a replacement). You’ll have the freedom to spend a few weeks or months experimenting with other types of work and projects, with the guarantee of a paid position at the other end – should you still need it.

  1. Mine your skills

Think about the sell-able skills you have to offer. Take advantage of sites like Upwork or Yuno Juno to find opportunities to work flexibly and keep an income while you spend time exploring new career options. If nothing else, it’s good to reassure yourself that you have a viable income

backup plan. ‘Survival work’ like this can fuel your ‘soul work’.

  1. Rethink where you live

It might not be possible, and maybe it’s temporary, but rents or mortgages (especially in most major cities) are a huge monthly outgoing. Think creatively about how you could change where or how you live for a while. It’s worth calculating how much you could get on Airbnb for renting out your place, or just a room. Perhaps you could move somewhere cheaper for a while (check out NomadList for inspiration).

Great in theory, but let’s get practical. Here’s a quick ‘personal audit’ challenge to get your financial de-risking off the ground:

  • Download your last 3 months of bank statements.
  • Work out how much you spend each month on different categories – groceries, shopping, bills, travel, eating out, subscriptions…
  • Look at the categories that are ‘essentials’ (bills, groceries, rent/mortgage, etc). Add them up. This is the minimum you absolutely need each month. (Not so bad, right?).
  • Look at the other categories (eating out, shopping, subscriptions). Which could you cut down on? Could you make one small change each month that would reduce this non-essential spending?

For more tips and tools on career change, and connections with like-minded people, check out The Escape School page.

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