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Why don't more (white collar) Americans take breaks in-between jobs? Like a month or two summer break. Is this mindset that you need to work all the time a vestige from back when people would work at the same company for 40 years until they die?

likeupliftinghelpfulfunny
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I think you’ve mostly got your answer, OP but Id just add lots of people would agree with you and would like to do that: I definitely have wanted to. But I think you’re really not grappling with how big the proportion of white collar folks who just don’t have the ability to do that is. From medical bills/debt to student debt or from crazy rent increases in markets where you used to have to live close enough to commute to companies wanting immediate starts, and more. Like it’s not a mindset problem…but I think you’re getting that in your replies.

Respectfully, OP, when you or immediate family don’t have these experiences (not presuming absolute comfort in your life just saying, based on your question and some replies, I think you may simply not have lived some of these contexts so not knowing is understandable). I think it may be helpful to consider it more like this, even when you’re looking at white collar populations you really have 2 cohorts: those whose parents/grandparents also went to college or worked in white collar, corporate America and those whose parents/grandparents didn’t and they themselves are navigating some of this on their own. That latter group has a higher likelihood of never getting parental support to pay for college, rent, vehicle accidents, unplanned medical expense, etc. as well as just may not have people they can ask to explain how those systems work so they don’t get professionally swindled the first few times. They also are more likely to need to spend money upward on parents (e.g., folks who go from raising their kids through high school and have just a few years until they’re effectively parenting their parents who never had savings). By the time many would have their financial house in order and could travel, they’re not as young or maybe are already young parents and their priorities shift such that travel will just now need to happen later in life.

In sum, it’s genuinely hard to establish yourself into the upper middle class, even if you make 6 figures. In another life I worked in education policy and there’s even really interesting research correlating things like wealth/savings, home ownership, etc. not just on whether your parents were educated/worked in white collar jobs and able to save money (I know college and white collar aren’t perfect matches but I’d argue can be decent proxies) but whether your grandparents were because it takes so long for savings to compound but when it does it’s powerful.

I’d suggest you re-consider the approach to your question. Instead of presuming there’s choice involved, maybe think of the question like this: “what makes it such that I can do this but others can’t when this seems like such a good choice?” I tend to believe that people are more alike than we like to admit and would love to do similar things but just can’t. I do want to emphasize though that by looking critically at the ways you are able to do that isn’t about feeling bad—heck enjoy it and celebrate/thank how hard your parents/grandparents or further may have had to work to first establish/hold onto your family’s security! But also remember when only 1/3 of Americans have any college degree (and this is a high water mark meaning more in this cohort whose parents didn’t), even folks making the same income as you make not have the same familial wealth/security.

likesmarthelpful

Oof, this read like a novel from a parent

funny

Sometimes, reading these forums, I feel tempted to emigrate to the US (my SO is american), but every time I read stuff like this I feel super privileged to be living in Europe. Aa a Consulting manager, I'm making more around $85k a year, which is quite more than the median income in my country (and the top of my category bracket) and out of that, almost half dissapears as taxes even before I even have the chance of touching it.
But that said, 1. I take almost a full month off in Summer, a week in Easter and a couple of months in Christmas almost every single year, plus random bank holidays and shorter 2-3 day periods along the year. 2. With only my current salary, I'm buying a new, nice flat in front of the beach with awesome views, and I still have money left for living a comfortable life having not to worry much about money when I go out with my friends or my family, or when I'm picking stuff in the supermarket. 3. Free, public healthcare has dropped in quality during the last 20-30 years to make room for the private sector (institutional corruption is not a minor problem of my country), but even then I'd go 10 times out of 10 to be treated for a serious condition to a public hospital, just considering quality. 3. Public education is free (and quite ok, although it is a mixed lot depending on the centre) until secondary phase. Public universities are relatively affordable, although not world-top (with some very particular, niche exceptions), but even then, private sector is worse and much more expensive (and you can always move to Sweden to study for free in some great institutions).
Thank you guys for reminding me of the bright sides of living in this shore of the Atlantic :)

like

He or she spent 3 of the 6 months on an account in a destination country. An “indirect flex”.

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“Oh how sad! People have bills?? And medication?? And families to support??”

Are you 18 or just extremely privileged?

likefunnysmart

This is a really interesting conversation! We own a 300 acre farm, we had bought it for 1.5M, I make 150k, husband is a SAHD and crop farms. No fancy equipment or anything and we are in northern IA. I do independent consulting and take 2-3 months between contracts sometimes more or sometimes part time. It really depends on the standard of living in your area and how you budget and healthcare needs. We’ve been blessed that us and our children are healthy.

like

You’d be shocked at how many white collar people are paycheck to paycheck too.

likesmart

“Oh….that’s sad?”

Holy privilege.

like

Time off is expensive in terms of opportunity cost. If you make 200k base per year, 2 months off is 33k gross salary you won't get. Maybe that's justified if you're going on an adventure or need time for medical reasons, but 500/day to relax and watch netflix is a high opportunity cost.

like

@Illinois - almost no employer in the US would let you take 2 months of consecutive paid vacation, meaning these people are having an employment gap or at least a pay gap

like

I did 6 months this time :) 4 months last time. I guess I'm pretty confident I can get a job and so far has worked well as I have going to easily prep for interviews, etc. I also value ability to take time off way more than material crap

likeuplifting

Lol no d7nothing offensive.
36yo, male, middle eastern. No kids. Divorced. Aging parents I guess but they are good :)

And yes I used cobra. Im 36 with no kids so although I live in nyc yea I have money saved ofcourse by this age. And not just for 4-6 months. I live in an apt that's about 2500 month, I'm sure I technically could go up to 4k.

likesmart

This is America, most people are flexin way beyond they’re means to keep up with not only they’re friends but what they perceive to be a normal lifestyle … they can’t afford to take off!

likeupliftingsmart

Debt is a helluva drug.

Cuz bills don’t take breaks

like

I feel like it's something you can plan for though, especially if you're voluntarily choosing to leave your current job

like

The main reason hasn’t been hit yet: most people leave jobs for other jobs. Those jobs want you to start soon, not a month or two after giving 2-4 weeks notice. Not many successful people quit a job without another one waiting.
I accidentally did this; quit a job and then the offer I left for was pulled due to a big set back at the new company. I wound up having the whole summer off, took a big vacation to Australia that I initially planned as my break between jobs but then I had 6-8 more weeks before I found anything.
It was ideal in hindsight. I still thought the job I left for would work out, and it did a couple months later. Only way it could’ve been better is if I knew I’d be getting hired at the end of the summer instead of that not being sure.
Still a fun summer with the kids. We’re strong savers, so weren’t worried about money in the short term.

like

I’m surprised so many people are citing expenses. Mine would definitely be this - your new company almost always pressures you to start at most 2 weeks after you quit

like

I’d rather die a slow painful death than spend a week at my house doing nothing and wasting my savings. By day three I would be back on antidepressants.

like

I feel ya. Wife and kids are harder than a job, if they see that I have a day off they'll bug me all day for things. So I work instead and then I only have to spend a few hours on weekdays doing parent duties lol. On weekends I definitely enjoy my time with them but by Monday I'm pretty tired of being a good patient parent.

funny

I suspect either people don’t have a lot of free cash due to debts (e.g., student loans) or people are very focused on not tapping into savings because they are trying to retire early. Personally I have been in both of these camps.

like

It would ideally make more sense to "retire" for a year here and there when you're young than to retire early but have all the years stuck together when you're old. I did this for two years at age 37, picked up hobbies that I can keep doing until I actually retire, made sure I know that I do want to retire and wouldn't want to get back to work.

like

I generally have one or two weeks between jobs when I switch.

Two months of income lost not working is income I could have invested or saved.

That and I'm generally not burned out or anything. I use all my pto every year, so I feel like there is a decent balance in work and life at the moment.

I think the other thing is when switching jobs, it's generally harder to say hey, I want my start date to be two months out during the offer negotiations. Not impossible, but a lot of companies are hiring for immediate need.

like

I'm grateful that I started interviewing in February for a job with a target start date of July/August. They seem to be dragging on the process the last couple of weeks, and I asked earlier this month that we try to get the candidate process resolved soon. I said, "I need six weeks between offer and start date so I can make a graceful exit and bake in some relaxation time to start fresh. Recruiter thought it was a great idea. It's the wierdest interview process ever. If I wasn't a referral I would have thought it was absolutely bizarre and walked away by now.

like

I live to travel and not live to work. I ensure that I take at least five weeks of PTO and do what I love: travel the world!

like

100%. This is the way to live honestly

like

Because jobs won’t get held for you. You’d essentially need to quit your job and have full faith you could get a new good one whenever you’re ready. It’s a big risk that you’d end up off longer than planned

like

Being laid off and choosing to take a gap are two entirely different sets of risks and circumstances

I took a month off last time I switched jobs. It made relocation a bit easier and I couldn't wait to get out of my last job!

like

American culture normalizes workaholism. The same reason you see Americans working on holidays and even days they are out sick. Society pushes folks to normalize excess work

like

For most - Health insurance, savings, and the increased difficulty of finding another decent job while out of work

It’s a terrible system that needs to change. Would love to be able to take a few months off every now and then. No way I make it to 50 working continuously long hours

like

I took 45 days off between jobs but luckily didn't have a ton of expenses at the time. Just opened a 0% apr card and paid that off over the next 18 months. Best decision I ever made for my own mental health.

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I think most people don't see the point. I'd take a couple of weeks, but after that? My wife works, my child goes to school, and I take jobs that are sustainable wlb-wise, so don't see why missing out on months of lost income.

If you have no dependants and want to do stuffs such as traveling why not, bit that is not most people.

like

My blue collar friends (old friends from high school) take breaks between jobs every time they get a DUI or go to jail. The exit opportunities aren’t great though.

funny

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