Should I Take a Sabbatical or Retire Early With FIRE?

sabbatical vs. fire

Since I had a quiet May writing for Women’s Money, you might be wondering where I’ve been.

The truth is that I’ve been doing less writing, more thinking, and more doing.

First, the doing.

I’ve been spending more time doing the things I want to do on a sabbatical. I’ve been spending more time with my kids, exercising more, cooking more, and working on a side business.

Next, the thinking.

Sometimes it’s hard to write about something when you begin to question it. (Though, when you are questioning something, this is often the time you should be doing the most writing and journaling about it.)

For me, it’s been challenging to write about my sabbatical planning because I’ve been wondering more and more if I want to take a sabbatical.

Do I Really Want to Take a Sabbatical?

I’ve been wondering if I actually want to take a sabbatical. But what would my alternative to taking a sabbatical be?

The answer is FIRE, also known as financial independence, retire early.

I’ve read quite a few books about FIRE finance and taken stock of my finances.  

I’ve asked myself what would happen if I put off my sabbatical and just focused on FIRE instead. We have been pretty healthy savers, and I think if I kept up my current job, we might be able to achieve financial independence (aka retirement) in five to seven years.

On the one hand, five to seven years seems like a long time. But, on the other hand, it’s relatively short in the scheme of a career.

After spending time considering FIRE, I explored some of the pros and cons.

Pros of Focusing on FIRE

There are some benefits of focusing on FIRE instead of taking a sabbatical. These include:

  • I won’t have to worry about finding a job when I “get back” from my sabbatical. 
  • I will be completely financially secure.
  • I won’t have to figure out what I want to do with my career. Instead, I would be able to retire because I’d be financially independent. So, theoretically, I could find my life’s purpose during retirement.
  • On my good days at work, I think I would enjoy doing my job for another seven years. 

Cons of Prioritizing FIRE

However, if I choose to wait to take my sabbatical, there are some downsides that include:

  • My kids are a great age right now. They still want to hang out with me and want my attention. In five to seven years, they will be teenagers and much more inclined to hang out with their friends.
  • Five to seven years is a long time when I could just take time off now. 
  • I’m hoping to use some of my sabbatical to figure out what I want to do in the future. This means that I’m not really sure I want to “retire,” I just want to consider whether I’m ready for a different career path. 
  • On my bad days at work, I wonder how I can make it to the date I’ve set for my sabbatical as I’m ready to quit right then. So waiting up to seven years seems impossible.

What does my brain say? It says I should just suck it up and wait five to seven years.

What does my gut say? When I listen to myself, I know that I am ready for a sabbatical. I shouldn’t wait. 

Where I’m At Today

Today I’m back on track mentally and financially to take a sabbatical. I’m close to meeting my saving $100,000 goal

I know that even when I reach financial independence and retirement, I will want to keep working in some capacity. So, I want to spend more time sooner rather than later finding purpose and thinking about happiness

This is why I need a sabbatical instead of waiting to reach financial independence.