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  • Writer's pictureMalissa Marshall, CFP®, MS Tax, EA

Don't Change Jobs Until You Make These Smart Money Moves

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Are you thinking about changing jobs? You’re not alone.

If you count yourself among the millions of Americans thinking about changing jobs, you have many decisions to make, including several that could significantly impact your personal finances.

Working with a financial advisor during major life events, such as a career transition, can go a long way toward ensuring you remain on solid financial footing. Whether you choose to work with a financial advisor or navigate the process on your own, this article will help you learn the smart money moves to make before you turn in your notice of resignation and as you get started working for your new employer.

Steps to Take Before Leaving Your Job

The landscape for working Americans has undoubtedly shifted. These major changes in the way we do business and manage work-life balance can be nerve-wracking. You must be thoughtful when going about a potential job change to ensure you’re not inadvertently leaving money on the table. Here are several items to consider before you leave your current job:

  1. Talk to a financial planner who can help you. There are many moving financial pieces involved with a mid-career job switch. There might be items you will not see coming. That’s why working with an experienced advisor is so critical. One mistake could cost you thousands of dollars.

  2. Know your employer’s benefit vesting schedules. Timing is everything when leaving an employer, particularly during your peak earning years. You want to be sure your exit is not immediately before a vesting cliff date. Perhaps sticking around just a month or two longer will result in clocking out for the last time with a whole lot more cash.

  3. Think about rolling over your 401(k) plan. Americans accumulated more than $1 trillion in “forgotten” 401(k) plan assets, according to Capitalize. Don’t become part of the statistic! By rolling over your old 401(k) into an IRA or rolling it into your new employer’s plan, you can keep your financial house in order when you start at a new company.

  4. Consider ramifications to your stock options. Tally up what stock options you have earned and have a plan with respect to exercising them. Stock options strategy is one area where working with an advisor well-versed in this type of employee benefit common among highly compensated workers can really pay off.

  5. Time your bonus right. Be sure to work with your current employer to receive any variable compensation you deserve. Know the qualification periods and payout dates. It would be unfortunate to overlook a key date and wind-up missing bonus money by just a few days.

  6. What about healthcare? The elephant in the room when making a career move is what will happen with your healthcare coverage. It can be a major risk if you have a growing family. It’s vital that you work with your current and new employers so that you are not left without insurance for any period.

What to Do Upon Starting a New Job

Fast-forward, and you’ve hopped jobs while ensuring all your financial ducks were in a row. Now you must get your house in order at the new company. There are several boxes to check before you can settle in a financially secure position.

First, sit down with a financial advisor to prioritize your situation. They can help you assess your goals, risk tolerance, time horizon, tax situation, and any unique considerations for you and your family.

Next, get your payroll deductions right – the last thing you want is to find out the following tax-filing season that you owe a big amount to the IRS (with possible penalties).

It’s also a prudent move to ensure you have a portion of your new salary going toward long-term savings. You can use your new employer retirement plan to invest for the future and capture any matching contributions.

While most people know they should contribute to a 401(k), the investment benefits of a Health Savings Account (HSA) are somewhat less understood since it is a relatively new account type. Check with your Human Resources department to learn about how the company’s HSA works – there might be an employer match with this account, too. HSAs feature the “triple-tax advantage” not seen in any other savings vehicle.


Your head might be spinning. There are many considerations before, during, and after you change jobs. The good news? You are not alone.

More Americans than ever are taking the bold (and often lucrative) move to a new job or even career. Whether you are simply transitioning from one employer to a similar role at another company or are starting your own business, working with a financial advisor ensures that you do not miss a step.

Managing risk, making the most of your old and new benefits packages, and keeping an eye on your long-term financial plan are critical areas sometimes overlooked by today’s job switchers.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. Before making major financial decisions, please speak with us or another qualified professional for guidance. The original version of this article first appeared on Wealthtender written by Mike Zaccardi.

Image by bady abbas

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