From The Straits Times    |

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Considering a career switch? Think beyond whether there’s enough money in the bank to tide you over for a short break before you start your next assignment. Every company offers different benefits, and so switching jobs can have far-reaching effects on your personal finances. Beyond just salary, here are the money questions you should ask before signing the dotted line.

Is your emergency fund large enough?

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You’re probably familiar with the concept of an emergency fund, which is a pool of money you only dip into during an emergency or when unexpected circumstances arise. But what does this have to do with you changing jobs?

It sucks (and one may argue that it’s not even lawful), but companies do rescind their job offers from time to time. Worse, some corporations may find that your position is better served when it’s outsourced — after they’ve actually hired you, thus leaving you in a bind. 

Your pot of funds should be big enough to encompass this unpleasant circumstance, as well as potential health crises and other emergencies that can arise with you or your loved ones. After all, when you make a career change, you’re risking a break in your cashflow. Should you be unlucky enough to lose your new job before you even start, you’ll be faced with the prospect of going the next few months without an income.

To make sure you’ll be okay, check that you have enough set aside to last you until you get back on your feet. A safe amount is around 6 months’ worth of your current expenses.

2) Are there regular salary reviews?

The dizzying prospect of working for the hottest start-up in your field may have you willing to forego this, but not having set salary reviews can hurt you more than you think.  Even if the package being dangled in front of you is juicy enough, you’ll only be putting yourself at a disadvantage in future.

First, inflation is a fact of life, and salary increments are supposed to help address this. It’s not about wanting more money for doing the same work, it’s about getting equitable value because the value of money shrinks over time.

Second, even if you ignore inflation, you’ll be setting yourself back if you continue to accept the same pay, year after year. This is because employers here still base your package on your last drawn salary (why is this still a thing?). So let’s say you have been drawing the same salary for the past 5 years. When you switch jobs, you’ll be getting lower offers than your peers who have had yearly salary increments — even if you’re just as qualified as they are.

3) How Reliant are You on Your Company’s Group Insurance?

Be sure to check what medical benefits are included as part of your compensation, especially if you are reliant on your current employer’s group insurance (say, for example, to pay for your parents’ medications).

If your new employer doesn’t have similar benefits, you need to calculate how much it will cost you to pay for the healthcare in question. This added cost could very well mean you’ll be worse off financially if you switch jobs.

4) What Hidden Costs are There to Your New Job?

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Switching jobs can sometimes come with hidden costs, such as having to travel longer and further (which may result in more Grab rides), or the change in schedule means you’ll need to hire a part-time maid or sitter. These costs should be carefully factored into your final decision.

If it’s a career change you’re after, you may likely have to accept lower pay in the beginning, especially if you’re going in untrained. There are also other more subtle costs such as buying an entire new wardrobe if your new career demands it. Just be sure you’re fully prepared for this, and are willing to shoulder the costs.