Changing Jobs? Keep Your Finances in Check with This Checklist

Career moves have been plentiful the past year. If a change could be in the cards for you, you need to be ready with the answers to several questions. Scan our checklist to see how prepared you may be.

A female financial planner.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Have the challenging past two years inspired you to think differently about your life, your work and your finances? You are not alone:

  • 50.3% of U.S. adults age 55+ now consider themselves retired (opens in new tab). Before the pandemic, up from 48.1% of those adults before the pandemic.
  • More than 24 million U.S. workers quit their jobs (opens in new tab) between April and September 2021.
  • For the 11 million open jobs listed in October 2021, only 7.4 million unemployed people (opens in new tab) were available to fill them.

Whether you have been thinking about a job change for decades or have been motivated by recent events to make a career move, it is imperative that you manage your transition with careful, calculated financial planning.

To start the process, here are five financial pointers (my five “Bs”) for changing jobs:

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1. Budget

Before you make a career move, you need to be able to answer these questions: How will your career change impact your income, expenses, savings and current investing? How much of your current income are you saving and investing today across taxable (e.g., brokerage), tax-deferred (e.g., traditional IRA) and tax-free (e.g., Roth IRA) accounts? And how is your income projected to change in the immediate term (the first 12 months) and intermediate (12 to 24 months) period of your professional transition?

If a decrease in savings and investing is anticipated, when will you resume saving and investing, and how will you hold yourself accountable to this deadline?

2. Business impact

Will your professional change have tax and/or financial planning implications? Will you move from being an employee of an organization to owning a business? Are you becoming a partner in a firm? Will non-cash equity be part of your compensation?

As you understand the business impact of your career change, chat with your existing financial adviser to ensure you are accounting for the change in your tax and financial plan.

3. Benefits

What perks do you receive today from your current employment, like insurance, deferred compensation and/or equity-based compensation? How will these benefits change with your new opportunity? Are there tax considerations associated with your current benefits that might influence the timing of your professional move?

If benefits you rely on today will not be readily available through your next opportunity, how will you meet the needs that no longer will be covered, such as disability insurance?

4. Buddies

Who are the people — whether they be relatives or friends — that will be affected by your professional decisions? How will a career change impact the time that you have available to spend with these people, as well as the lifestyle you can afford for yourself and them with your total compensation?

As you transition to your new role, will additional time and money be required to facilitate the move, prompting a change in daily life for you and your buddies?

5. Buffer

Typically it’s good to have three to six months of expenses in your emergency savings. If you are moving from a salary-based position to a more commission-based or entrepreneurial role, it may be important to build up a larger cash reserve prior to making the transition.

To complement your emergency savings, what additional sources of cash and liquidity are available to you? Before you make the move, ensure that you have a clear picture of the financial buffers available to you to provide cushion throughout your transition.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, CDFA®, AWMA®
Vice President, Private Wealth Adviser, Procyon Partners

Caroline Wetzel  CFP®, CDFA®, AWMA®, is a vice president and private wealth adviser at Procyon Private Wealth Partners (opens in new tab).  She has worked in financial services since 2001 and began specializing in wealth management for affluent multi-generational families in 2015.  Caroline earned a B.S. degree in policy analysis and management at Cornell University and an MBA in finance and advanced certification in marketing from the University of Connecticut School of Business.