A mini-retirement can be a wonderful experience if you have the right plan for it. If you’re worried about how to negotiate a mini-retirement, don’t. We will talk about that a lot in this article.
Mini-retirements are becoming more and more common in the modern world. Many people in the workforce are tired, stressed, and want a break.
For many trips, a 2-week vacation is not enough. Do you want to go backpacking, do volunteer work overseas, learn a new language abroad? Those are all things that take more time than the two or three weeks your employer gives you.
For me, taking my first mini-retirement was a natural move. I had just finished university, was in desperate need of a holiday after writing my thesis, and I definitely did not feel ready for working a full-time job.
However, after a year of returning, I had felt the need to go away for a longer period of time. I was now working 40 hours per week at my employer. I still managed to get a mini-retirement by taking up unpaid leave. Wondering how to negotiate a mini-retirement with your employer? Let me share my experience.
Go For A Mini-Retirement
A mini-retirement is the perfect solution for pursuing your dreams. You take time off from work for an extended period of time, it’s intentional, and it takes some planning in advance. You do it to follow your passions – like traveling the world, volunteering at that orphanage overseas, or launching your own non-profit.
If you wait to follow your dreams until you’re old enough to retire, a lot of hopes and dreams might already have been faded. That’s part of the reading why I’m pursuing Financial Independence and Retire Early. I want to enjoy early retirement. Contrary to what many are doing, which is working in one stretch until early retirement, I believe in enjoying life now. Why postpone your hopes and dreams until you’re retired?
A mini-retirement is the perfect solution when you’re not financially independent yet, but you want to take a few months to pursue your dreams. Mini-retirements can be built into your life, without significantly delaying you on your way to financial independence.
Even if you’re following the fast track to retirement, it will most likely be another few years until that’s the reality. Until then, you still want to enjoy your 20s and 30s.
How To Negotiate A Mini-Retirement In 5 Steps
Step 1: What Do You Want?
Start thinking about what do you want? What is there on your bucket list that you really want to get done in this season of life? Start with writing these down, and selecting a reason that you want to take your mini-retirement for.
I recommend you give yourself some time to think about this. You want your mini-retirement to be purposeful and really doing that bucket list thing you long dreamed about. You want to take a few months off because you want to travel the world, learn Spanish on the beach of Colombia, or more.
For example, my reason to take my three-month mini-retirement from September to December 2019 is that I want to travel the world. At the same time, I want to work on the blog and take on some Spanish lessons. These are all things that are close to my heart and bring me joy!
Step 2: Make A Budget
Although I’m an advocate of paying yourself first, I still believe that budgeting can still help you in many ways. For your mini-retirement, it’s kind of important to know if you can afford it and how it will influence your financial goals.
In your mini-retirement, you will mostly use unpaid leave. You can save some holidays, but that won’t make up for all of it in most cases. That doesn’t mean that taking a mini-retirement means you have to be rich. All it takes is making it a priority and planning for it.
Let’s start by making up your ideal budget! For this we need to:
1. Know how long your mini-retirement will be
2. Estimate your total expenses – ho(s)tels, flights, transport, food, and more. Despite if you want to write a book or go travel abroad, think about the costs that could be involved
3. Add up 15% – that’s the money you need for a buffer. You don’t want to be in South America and don’t have money to pay for an early flight back because something happened at home
Now you have your total spending!
This will get you motivated. Every time that you’re packing your lunch to work or cooking instead of going out to eat, you know exactly what you’re saving that money for. Track your progress monthly and know where you are financially.
If you know what you need before you go travel, you might even plan to save some costs before you’re going. When you need a new backpack, you might ask for a gift card for Christmas. If you want to write a book, you can start practicing your writing skills now already.
Step 3: Ask Your Employer
Now the crucial step in how to negotiate a mini-retirement: asking your employer! In the months upcoming to you asking your employer, you can already start to work on it. Just like you’re doing when negotiating your salary, prepare and be awesome. Make sure you’re taking your responsibilities at work and show them you’re an awesome employee which they don’t want to lose.
It’s important that when you’re scheduling the meeting with your employer, this is not the first time they hear about this. It’s hard to convince someone this is your dream and you really want to pursue this when they never heard you talking about this.
For example, if your boss knows it’s your dream to write a book, they might encourage you to pursue your dream and provide for it.
Depending on what you want, you can either ask or inform your employer. Here’s my recommendation: go into the meeting with a compelling plan. Tell your employer exactly what you want and what you expect from them. That way it’s harder for them to say no, plus they know exactly what you need.
Here’s How I Did It
When I started working in April, I already talked with my boss about how much I love traveling. He was very jealous of my traveling escapades in South America earlier that year. Later that year I told him that my partner was graduating in September 2019 and that we were thinking about going away together for a few months. I asked him about the procedures within the company. He told me that there we no procedures, but that it isn’t allowed to take more than 3 weeks of holidays outside of July and August.
April 2019 I was having a meeting with him, where I formally asked him for his approval. I told him something along the lines of:
“Boss, you know I have always dreamed of making another trip abroad with my partner. When he’s graduating in September, we would love to go to Central America for four months. This is really a dream come true to be able to travel together. I already talked with my current client and they agreed to extend me until September 10, so I will be working on a chargeable project until I go. I would love to come back end of December, you know how much I love Christmas. Over the last year, I’ve saved my vacation days. So I will take all my outstanding holidays and the rest will be unpaid leave. I enjoy working here, and I would love it if I could do this and return afterward. What do you think?”
His response? “Sounds good, you have my approval, you want to start again January 1st? I will need to inform HR, but I assume that won’t be an issue”
BOOM, I was instantly happy about the way I went about things. This is for me the best way how to negotiate a mini-retirement: show that you want it and that you have thought about it.
Here’s How I Wouldn’t Do It
Imagine if I would have been like “Boss, you know how much I love traveling. Do you think I can take time off for a while and travel again? I am not sure how we will work out my current assignment, but we can talk about that later”
That will be most likely a very big discussion. Not the way how to negotiate a mini-retirement that I would recommend.
Step 4: Take The Mini-Retirement And Enjoy
Once you have the green light, go for it! This is your dream, follow your dreams unapologetically and go for what you want! You figured out why you want to take your mini-retirement, you’ve planned for it, and you’ve asked your employer.
Step 5: Plan Your Next Mini-Retirement
After I’ve tasted the sweet mini-retirement I have to assure you one thing – you want more! Now you know how to negotiate for a mini-retirement and how easy it can be, you want to do it more often.
If you know what you want, it’s easy to budget and to save money to set aside. You can go after whatever you want.
To be fair, a lot of people will have a mini-retirement at one point in their life. It doesn’t need to be this big planned trip around the world where you quit your job. Of course, it can be, just know that it can be whatever you want it to be.
It can be a few months in between jobs, it can be an extended holiday, a few weeks off to remodel your house, whatever you want. It’s about spending your time intentionally, doing what brings you joy and fills your soul.
I’m going on my second mini-retirement now, but I’m sure that there will be many more to come. I want to travel the world, see all different cultures, different countries, and I would love to work full-time at my own business one day. It’s something that I’m willing to work for because it’ll be my dream life.
Why I Want Multiple Mini-Retirements
How I’m doing that? I’m living on half my income, working on creating passive investments (with tools like Mintos and Grupeer), investing in index funds, and I’m working towards financial independence.
Mini-retirements help me bridge the gap between my life now and hitting financial independence. Don’t wait for the most important things in your life until later. If they’re important to you and you plan for them, you can make them happen now!
Start with a mini-retirement of a month, or perhaps two months. It’s the perfect way to get started. I promise you, once you taste the sweetness of mini-retirements you never want to go back!
Are you aspiring to take a mini-retirement? Have you ever taken one?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
- Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
- Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
- Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.