Old Money: The Rewards Program – The Sabbatical

One of the benefits of working hard, living within your means, and investing wisely is the options it gives you at certain points in your life. One of these options is to take a sabbatical from your work for a few months, or even a year. While this is shocking (and completely unimaginable) to many Americans, it’s more commonplace that many would think among Old Money Guys and Gals.

A sabbatical provides perspective: you put a little distance between yourself and the routine, the familiar. You put your material possessions, that so often define and encumber, into storage. You pack a suitcase with the bare necessities of life. You board a plane, train or boat, and land in a different place. You rent a small apartment (or room), and live a different, simple and economical life while feasting on the new and the unusual. You get a fresh, working definition of who you are, without your office, your car, your house, your position in your community.

The author at the Cafe Carducci, Verona, Italy, just prior to coffee, croissant, and contemplation.
The author at the Cafe Carducci, Verona, Italy, just prior to coffee, croissant, and contemplation.

Surprisingly, you find that you live on a fraction of what you had lived on during your work-a-day existence (unless your sabbatical finds you holed up in London, Paris, New York City, or Tokyo). You have the time to really interact with people in a meaningful way. You may learn a new language. You will definitely see the world through new eyes.

You have the chance to take a deep breath. Read a big book. Walk without a destination. And return to whatever life you had before refreshed with reflection.

Something to consider.

  • BGT


11 thoughts on “Old Money: The Rewards Program – The Sabbatical

  1. That existence sounds wonderful and something I know my husband certainly dreams of. Though we certainly have a few years to wait until our youngest is able to board (and we are happy for him to do so), we will defer until he is 12 rather than 7. Eight years and counting (the optimist in me says this is enough time to plan and save).

    Until then it’s extended holidays for us (God bless those private school long-summers).

    Byron, do you suggest a completely separate savings account for this adventure? Currently we have two pools held in bonds (one in each of our names).

    1. Hi Alena, how you save for something and make it work is a very individual thing, but yes, I think an “adventure account” might help you set more aside as you go forward. – BGT

  2. We did just this earlier in our lives. Did it twice, as a matter of fact. By the early 90’s, I was burned out on the financial business lifestyle (a career I fell into rather than planned). My wife was more content (but she’s younger and hadn’t worked as long). I wanted out but out to do what, go where?

    After one big meeting where I was going to make a lot of money, I had a revelation. Looked at our savings and said to my wife I just wanted to leave, get out, and drive our RV around the country to find a new plan. For me, it was exploring other places to live and see wild things (like visiting our national parks). My wife looked at it as indulging her husband and an extended vacation. We were gone six months but did not make a new plan other than a desire to get out of California before it was too late. So we went back to our old lives for a little over a year and made our plan. I retired young and my wife was able to persuade her employer to try a new thing – telecommuting. Moved to Idaho and escaped the rat race.

    Fast forward a little over a decade. In our new location in Idaho, we started a family and had two boys. The same dreary routine was getting to me and in 2007, we did it again. Home schooled the boys through a progressive (not politically) online charter school here in Idaho designed to serve rural and distant students. Got a new RV and spent most of 2007 traveling the country (mostly the west and Great Lakes) on a trip of discovery. By then, I’d started an online business that had become successful and could be run from my computer so long as I could get online. My wife continued her telecommuting gig. All of our costs were paid out of pocket and we had people looking after our two homes back home.

    When we got back, the kids enrolled back in their schools and found themselves ahead of their peers based on their adventures and online school work (and have remained so to this day). I came home with a sense of relaxation and purpose going forward. I’d venture to guess my wife would say the same.

    That we were able to do this trip and our previous one as open ended with no fixed return dates, is a benefit of living the old money financial principles. Freedom is more important than money but having both is even better. Living the modest lifestyle to achieve events like these makes more sense to me than any other choices we might have made (fancy home, fancy cars, 1-2 week annual vacations that are rush-rush, etc.).

    We have become, over these past 30 or so years, the millionaires next door. Only our accountant and lawyer know our true net worth. You wouldn’t know it if we meet at the local market. So the lifestyle choices we made early in life, growing up with depression era, frugal parents, have allowed what we did later. Living smart is the best revenge. 😉

    1. Thank you for sharing, Chris. It sounds like you had a great adventure that the entire family benefited from. Congratulations. Well done. – BGT

  3. A good reminder. I’ve taken about 4 sabbaticals in my life and they have all been highlights. I lived in Oxford, England for a year after graduation, spent a summer learning French in Montreal, did a Master’s Degree in the UK to retool for a new field of work and took four months off to learn new technical skills recently. Other than the Oxford, sabbatical, though, I am always too ambitious with my time off and I over program them with learning objectives. I like your idea of reading a long book. How nice would it be to wander around Europe fallowing in the steps of Julius Ceaser’s “Conquest of the Gauls”, or just living in Venice and reading “War and Peace” for 2 months.

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