Yes, there is a financially responsible way to make a midlife career change. Walking into work one morning and resigning is not it. Here are some financial tactics to keep in mind before making a move.
Get rid of your credit card debt. If the change entails going back to school, you can't afford to be paying high interest rates. The right time to make a switch is when your credit card debt is paid off, and not a minute before.
Make sure you'll have health insurance. If your spouse has a plan through work, that solves your problem. Or you can look into COBRA—you are entitled to continue receiving health benefits from your old employer for 18 months, but you'll be required to pay the entire premium. You can also shop for your own policy at www.ehealthinsurance.com.
Boost your cash savings. It's imperative to have the equivalent of at least eight months' living expenses in reserves. Put the money into a high-yield, risk-free savings account like the one offered by www.emigrantdirect.com.
See what training you can get right now. Many employers will help pay for their employees to continue their educations. Granted, classes typically need to be in a field related to your job. Call human resources and see whether they can finance some of your course work.
Fund a 529 college savings plan for yourself. You may have heard about these for your kids, but they can work for you, too. If you're making long-range plans to go back to school, any money you withdraw from a 529 plan will be free of federal taxes if you use it for eligible school expenses. Learn more at www.savingforcollege.com.
From the February 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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