Can I Quit My Job?!? How to Hang On & Find Your Bottom Line

I had a moment earlier in the summer, and I literally searched, “When can I quit my job?” While this question came in a moment of pure frustration, it led me to number crunching, research, and introspection.

You can quit your job when you have enough savings and income from other sources, or when you have another job that adequately covers your expenses.

That’s the simple, obvious answer, but let’s dig into what that means to get you where you want to be.

1. Determine Your Expenses

To start out, just list all of your expenses. Don’t overthink it but do it. Depending on how you handle your household finances, this could be easy or tedious.

Now the fun part. Order the list you came up with based on their priority level.

Roof over head = NEED. Netflix = Want

Have a wants versus needs conversation with yourself, but make sure you engage with your spouse or partner if you do not budget solo for big decisions.

I did this in YNAB (referral link) by creating a separate budget together. Here’s a snapshot of our modified budget to figure out what I need to quit.

Needs vs Long Term Needs vs Wants in YNAB

YNAB is a web-based budgeting software with an app that reframed how we budget. Read more: Is YNAB worth it?

I took my existing budget line items and broke them into 3 categories to fit our needs. This started because of the COVID-19 pandemic initial lockdowns.

  • Needs = What we have to pay to avoid no home, food, or legal problems
  • Long-Term Needs = Items we could push pause on but eventually, we would need to cover things like home maintenance. I put my student loan here because I could defer it. If we don’t plan for these, then we run the risk of going into debt. These things still happen with very little choice. Hello doctor visits.
  • Wants = the rest. Think of the things that you can layer in after the basics are covered.

This gave us the number that we knew we needed if we lost our job, and it helped us determine our basic levels of expenses.

If all hell breaks loose, we need the Needs number. If I decided to start a business and quit my job, we’ve decided the Needs + Long Term Needs is our target. Everything else we could give up if we wanted.

2. Where is the Income Coming From?

You’ve got your expenses, so now let’s layer in income. Did you get an inheritance? Living off of your investment interest? Started a business & raking in that dough? Is your partner going to cover the expenses while you figure out your next steps?

What does this look like? Ask yourself a bajillion questions to really dig deep for some creativity. Can you work part-time?

Walk away from this step with a list of income options and realistic estimates from those options on a monthly basis.

3. Layer in the Reasons You Want to Quit

At this point, you’re in a position to decide if you can afford to quit based on the different hierarchy levels of your expenses you laid out against the income you can conceivably live on once you factor in the reason for today’s search that landed you here.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that no one likes their job every day. We all have minor irritations that build up into something bigger than they are or a boss that came in with a bad attitude that you just got whapped with.

Is this why you want to quit? Or is it sexual harassment or something big? If you’re here, you’re thinking through your next steps, so this is the point where you decide if you have the ability to live on the income you have (without this job) against your expenses.

You’re layering in the mental aspect of why you want to quit because only you can determine if the reason(s) is big enough to make drastic sacrifices is worth it.

You’re an adult with adult responsibilities, so it is up to you to decide what is big enough for you to leave with everything on theoretical fire or not.

This blog was born from a crappy boss experience. I had an executive who every time I’d talk through some code from a software called SAS, he’d have some stupid, inappropriate comment.

Freq is a reference to frequency. Every time I’d have to call out the proc freq, this one executive would say ‘Freak’ & then laugh like Beavis and Butthead (hello 90s throwback). I will spare you the more absurd function name today.

I was in so much debt that I could not walk away. I love how companies like to pretend you won’t be retaliated against, and I like to eat. So I chip away at my debt pondering life’s big questions like, “When can I quit?”. Good news – he hasn’t brought out a joke like that in quite some time, thankfully, after I spoke up. He’s still absolutely awful for a lot of other reasons but not for being inappropriate at the moment.

4. Keep Your Sanity in the Middle

Even if this exercise has shown you that you can’t quit just yet, you are not completely stuck. You have options.

Here is a list of options to browse through when you need some motivation:

  • Discuss what is wrong with your supervisor. Come at this the right way but you might be surprised at what can be done if they have a growth mindset.
  • Network and build relationships with others in the company you’re with. I’m not recommending that you vent about the nonsense, but you’d be amazed at the opportunities for a fulfilling project or another position internally that could present itself through your connections.
  • Find a new job. This takes time, but it could be a game-changer.
  • Get a 2nd job if you think you accelerate any savings or debt payoff plans to get on with your life sooner without sacrificing your sanity.
  • Build on your existing skillset. This is particularly helpful if you’re bored in your current role. What could you layer in to help you level up to move internally or externally?
  • Find non-work joy. By joining a work running club, it gave me the confidence to join a non-work running club. I had some of the coolest experiences and deep friendships through that experience.
  • If you discovered that you’d like your own business as part of your income deep dive, start taking ACTION towards that income now. There is no better than today if you didn’t start yesterday!
  • Write out a list of sanity savers that you can do on the fly. I’ll wrap this up with my list. They may not make sense since they are just quick reminders of options, but they are quite literally hanging above my laptop screen for when I’m having a moment.
List to keep my sanity when I get stressed or angry. Simple & right over my work laptop.