Before you walk out on a job or get into a risky financial relationship, consider the long-term consequences.
Question: My friends and I talk about how much we'd love to leave our unfulfilling jobs. It would be great to tell our bosses, "Get lost!" and walk out. Right now, not one of us has the money to make that a possibility, but I've decided to start saving so that if I ever want to quit my job on the spur of the moment, I can. How much do I need for my escape fund? And how should I keep this money safe?
Suze: I find it fascinating—and revealing—that you and your friends all feel that your jobs are unfulfilling. To me, this signals that your wish to leave your job may come not from dissatisfaction with what you do, but rather from how you feel about who you are. Like attracts like, my dear, and you and your friends are probably reinforcing a sense of unhappiness in one another. Friends do that, you know—support each other in ways that are both good and not so good.
Even if your job is unfulfilling, I want you to stop and ask yourself what good it does to tell your boss to get lost. My guess is, not much. Even if you amass a large fallback fund, that money will last only so long before you'll have to find another job. When that happens, the same boss you left high and dry will be the one telling your prospective new boss about your positive and negative qualities. The lesson: Don't burn your bridges, especially in this economy. I have to say, it saddens me to learn that the only reason you want to start saving is to collect a "get lost" fund directed at your boss. Instead, I urge you to consider creating a nest egg targeted to your own hopes, needs and dreams. I would much rather see you save money to buy a home, go back to school, fund your retirement, or even take a vacation than to spite your boss. I would recommend you put eight months' worth of expenses into an emergency fund in case you lose your job before you're ready to—that is, in case your boss leaves you before you're financially prepared to leave him. Please remember, getting a new job—let alone a more fulfilling one—can take longer that you might expect. So plan for the worst—and if the best happens, you'll have a good reason to celebrate with your friends.
From the October 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!