10 Things to Do Before You Quit Your JobCareer Success
We may receive a commission if you sign up or purchase through links on this page. Here's more information.
A few years ago, after lots of careful consideration, I quit my job as a certified public accountant (CPA) at one of the largest accounting firms in the world to manage my own business of content creation and CPA work full-time. I was very nervous about making this decision and spent a long time thinking about it, but ultimately, I decided to pull the trigger.
I’ll share more about my entrepreneurial journey in the future, but today, I’m discussing things you should do or consider before quitting your job so that you don’t end up regretting your choice.
1. Determine the amount of your last paycheck
You should independently calculate how much you expect your final check to be and discuss any discrepancies between your calculation and the amount paid with your employer. Bear in mind that this final paycheck may include both your final wages and items like reimbursements or accrued vacation hours payout.
No company’s payroll department is infallible, so it’s best to double-check your final paycheck to avoid missing out on any money that should belong to you. Even though I worked at a Big Four accounting firm, my company still neglected to pay me my last paycheck.
I eventually got my money more than a year later along with a considerable amount in penalties, but this example demonstrates the importance of independently calculating how much you should receive and then making sure you receive it.
2. Submit any outstanding reimbursements
Most states allow you to obtain reimbursements for legitimate business expenses even after you quit, but you’ll be able to get your money more quickly and easily if you submit your reimbursements before quitting.
3. Consider health insurance
If your employer provides your health insurance, determine when that insurance expires and, if necessary, consider Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) insurance.
Depending on your state and/or company policy, your health insurance coverage might end on your last day of employment or might continue through the end of the month. Either way, your employer-sponsored coverage will end at some point, and you need to have a plan for what to do next.
Even if you’re starting a new job with a company that offers health insurance, you may still need to come up with an alternative solution, since many companies have a probationary period in which new employees are not eligible for benefits.
You could choose to purchase health insurance through your state’s exchange or select COBRA continuation coverage, where you remain on your employer’s group insurance plan for up to 18 months or more (depending on your state) but pay for all fees out of pocket.
Whatever you ultimately decide to do, it’s important to make sure you know when your coverage ends, how much COBRA would cost, how much insurance through your state would cost, and when any insurance offered by your new employer would become available.
4. Review your retirement plan and rollover options
If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan or plans, make sure you understand your options with respect to these account(s).
For example, if you have a defined benefit pension plan in addition to a 401(k), you could choose to either wait and collect monthly payments from your plan at retirement age or take a cash lump sum and roll it into an IRA. Similarly, if you have a 401(k), you should take a look at your plan’s fees and potentially consider rolling it into an IRA.
These retirement plan decisions require careful consideration, so if this is something you’re not sure about, you may want to speak to a qualified financial advisor to figure out which course of action is right for you.
5. Get your file from HR
Before quitting, make sure you get your complete file from your company’s HR, including performance reviews, offer letter, employment contract, and salary and wage information. You never know when you’ll need these documents in the future, and they’re often much easier to obtain before you quit rather than after.
6. Delete all personal files
Before turning your work computer into your company’s IT department, make sure you remove any personal files such as documents, photos, and emails. If you haven’t been storing all your personal files in a single location on your computer, this process can take a while, so make sure you allow plenty of time to clear out any and all personal information.
7. Double-check the vesting period for any stock options
Stock options can be extremely valuable, but some require you to remain at your company for a certain period of time, so if your compensation package includes stock options, make sure you understand the terms of these options before quitting.
8. Deal with accrued vacation time
Before quitting, make sure you understand what will happen to your unused vacation time and act accordingly.
In some states, for example, your accrued vacation time will simply disappear if you quit, in which case it probably makes sense to use your vacation time before leaving your company. On the other hand, some other states require employers to pay you for any unused vacation time when your employment is terminated, in which case it may make more sense to quit without using your vacation.
Note that even if your state requires your employer to pay you for unused vacation time, there may be valid reasons to use your vacation hours, such as if lengthening the time of your employment will result in increased economic benefit through vesting of stock options, increased pension payout, etc. Determining which option is best for you requires doing the research for yourself.
9. Drain your FSA
After leaving a company, you’ll typically lose any unused money in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), meaning you’re best served by spending any money in this account before quitting your job. Amazon actually has an FSA store that you can use for this purpose, since it allows you to purchase FSA-eligible items from the comfort of your own home.
Note that if you opt for COBRA coverage, you may still be eligible for FSA reimbursements over the duration of this coverage.
10. Don’t forget your bonus
Unlike your salary and wages, bonuses are often discretionary, meaning you aren’t entitled to one but may receive one when the employer deems fit. However, employers often have policies that require you to be in their employment on the date of a bonus, so if you’re expecting to receive a bonus, make sure you get that bonus before you quit.
Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.