Saving

Take a Service Sabbatical

Would you trade your job for volunteer work?

Susan Sumner and Paul Reinhart are seriously downsizing their lives -- donating many of their belongings to charity, locking up their Mountain View, Cal., home and putting their finances on autopilot. The husband-and-wife duo will leave in August for a 27-month stay in Kazakhstan, just south of the Russian border, as Peace Corps volunteers.

Public-service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps have seen a huge increase in applicants -- perhaps because the recession has stirred a shift in priorities and inspired a little soul-searching. President Obama's call to service may also be a factor. Around the time of his inauguration, online applications for the Peace Corps surged 175%.

Sumner, 48, and Reinhart, 49, were fortunate to have the means to retire from their Silicon Valley careers at a relatively early age, leaving 60-hour workweeks behind. As frequent travelers who are interested in other cultures, they crave cultural immersion and an opportunity to give back. Sumner will serve as a business-development volunteer and Reinhart as an NGO (nongovernmental organization) development volunteer.

The Peace Corps will pay them just enough for food and lodging at the local standard of living. "We have a skewed view of the world," Reinhart says. "We can get by with a lot less."

To prepare for their sabbatical, they've frozen their credit lines, asked family members to care for their home and pets, and set up automatic bill-payment accounts.

Sumner and Reinhart are 20 years older than the typical Peace Corps volunteer. That's another trend -- over the past year, the organization has seen a 40% rise in applications from Americans age 50 and older.

Simple InvestingMake Money Tasks EasyStreamline RetirementBenefits With Less StressLower MaintenanceHelp With Home TechGoodbye, City LifeSLIDE SHOW: Zap the ClutterSLIDE SHOW: Let the Pros Handle ItQUIZ: Lighten Your Financial Load

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security
social security

How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security

When it comes to maximizing your Social Security benefits, there are many elements to consider. One factor that can be especially enlightening is your…
August 30, 2021
Spend Without Worry in Retirement
Financial Planning

Spend Without Worry in Retirement

Fears of running out of money prevent many retirees from tapping the nest egg they’ve worked a lifetime to save. With these strategies, you can genera…
August 30, 2021

Recommended

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
The Pandemic Pet Problem
Coronavirus and Your Money

The Pandemic Pet Problem

Lisa Gretebeck used telemedicine and other creative ways to handle a surge of new cat and dog patients.
August 29, 2021
New Perks at Work, for a Price
Employee Benefits

New Perks at Work, for a Price

The pandemic and an increasingly diverse workforce have led to more benefits options for workers.
August 26, 2021
Considering Retiring? Try a Sabbatical Instead
careers

Considering Retiring? Try a Sabbatical Instead

With more businesses offering this perk, sabbaticals aren't just for professors. If you can take a sabbatical, that time off can be a way to test what…
August 24, 2021