Unpaid Vacation: It’s Worth It!


Anyone who’s worked in Corporate America is all too familiar with the 9 to 5, 5 days a week grind. Unlike students, you no longer get Summer breaks off (so lame!), so the best you can reasonably hope to achieve is 2-3 weeks paid vacation off each year from your employer. If you’ve been in the game long enough, I’m guessing you also feel like 2-3 measly weeks off each year really doesn’t amount to much… That is, if you’re already feeling burned out, you need much, much more downtime than that!!

Work, Work, Work

That’s the problem I’m currently facing right now — I’m burned out. I’m tired of work, I’m exhausted, and I’m really just running on fumes and coffee these days. During the first few years of my career, I was always too stubborn to do anything about it. I would just reason, “it is what it is.” The previous mentality was built upon the flawed logic, “if everyone else is governed by these rules, who am I to complain?” Now that I’m getting older (and hopefully wiser), I no longer accept this line of thinking. No, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is willing to put up with… I won’t put up with it anymore.

This is Year 2 on the journey to early financial independence. I’ve routinely referenced Year 2 as the Year of the Grind, which I thought was fitting because I originally anticipated this year being a struggle. Turns out, I was mostly right. This year has gone by fast, and I’ve put in lots and lots of work… at work. I’ve also made a good bit of progress in building up my passive income stream, so there is some justification for all the hard work suffering. However, I’ve now reached a point (maybe in large part due to the passive income progress) where I no longer want to subject my mind/body/soul/spirit to this type of abuse. I’m calling for an end to these shenanigans and I don’t care if it means I have to take a paycut!

Life Balance

Maybe you’re smarter than me and already know better than to put up with this type of abuse. Most Europeans are SMART and take more vacation in one month than many Americans do in an entire year! It just seems like the sensible thing to do. So, I’m giving up the fight (sayonara company man!)… This winter break, I want my vacation back! No, not just 1 week off, or 2 weeks off… I want as many days off as I feel like I need. For now, I’m going to say 18 days. Since I don’t have 18 days of vacation on my balance, I’m going to go unpaid for a duration of this time off. That’s just fine with me…

There’s more to life than work. When the body complains, that’s a strong indicator that you are pushing yourself too hard. It’s time to ease up and let the body return to steady state. RELAX. Slow down. Take it easy. Yes, let’s strive for balance for a change. Let’s not sacrifice our health any longer… The 9 to 5 routine for perpetuity is a most stupid thing. Let’s put an end to the madness!

By the end of December, I’m putting my foot down. I’m checking out of the cubicle, leaving the labs behind, and getting on a flight to Maui. I won’t be back until mid-January. Forget the laptop, e-mails, conference calls, meetings. I’m going to enjoy the beaches, hiking, scenery and food instead. All that other stuff will be waiting for me when I return… While I’m away, I’m going to focus on something so much more important — my LIFE!

Have a wonderful winter break everyone… Just like when I was a student (and for once as an adult), I fully intend to! 🙂

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Fast Weekly
6 years ago

Right on FI Fighter! It’s all about balance. My wife and I feel the same way….that’s why my wife and I are taking 2015 off from regular work. For details, see my “Dream Map” post from last week. When I took my first engineering job after college I was very disappointed they wouldn’t give me more than the standard 3 weeks (sick and vacation leave) per year. I even tried to negotiate a lower salary in exchange. Finally, after 3 years I put in for an unpaid vacation…..and was denied. The business was too busy supposedly. The thing was, my… Read more »

FI Pilgrim
6 years ago

Good for you! My employer forces me to take 4 weeks of vacation each year, which is nice in hindsight but stressful to plan for.

Next year I have a sabbatical available though, 4 weeks of paid vacation with a $1k travel reimbursement, too. It will be a nice break after 16 years of work with no “summer breaks”. 🙂

Enjoy your time away!

Kurt @ Money Counselor

Agree 100%! I never look at LWOP (leave without pay) as costing me money. On the contrary, I look at time spent in the office as time away from life!

6 years ago

A vacation is always worth it IMO! Gives you an opportunity to re-energize and be more productive.

Laura @ RichmondSavers.com

Balance is key! The only thing we can’t make more of is time, so you’re being smart to use yours wisely. There’s always money to be made – later, when you’re back from your trip 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!


Take the time off for well deserved rest. Great job on the net worth increase, when you get to a million in debt will you say “one million dollars”

Janine @ MoneySmartGuides

It is so well worth it if you will gain some mental strength or just need a temporary change up to your routine! I’d much rather skimp for a few weeks and be able to do that.

Dividend Mantra
6 years ago

FI Fighter, I share your pain. I get two weeks of paid vacation per year, and I’m taking all of mine in one lot starting the day my anniversary rolls over in mid-February. That date is Feb 17th, and boom…vacation starts – two weeks off, baby! That time off will be a great chance to reflect and figure out what’s next for me. I’m contemplating a few ideas, but taking a six-month or so sabbatical from work is in the cards. That probably won’t be possible at my current job, so it may just result in me moving on and… Read more »


[…] Fighter @ FI Fighter writes Unpaid Vacation: It’s Worth It! – It’s all about finding the right balance between work and life. Know when to take […]


[…] We are now approaching the final days of 2013. Oh boy, what a year! A lot has happened, and I’m finishing out this year more optimistic than ever before. To celebrate, I’m planning an end of the year trip to Maui. […]