Before You Say ‘I Quit,’ Know These 4 Hidden Costs of Job Hopping

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I quit
Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

Job hopping has been one of the few surefire ways for many workers to land a bigger paycheck in America’s post-recession job market. Decent raises appear largely limited to workers in select fields, such as technology and health care.

Still, you might want to think twice before quitting your job for a better-paying gig. There are hidden costs to job hopping, according to CNBC, which recently reported on seven such costs.

Four of the most common financial setbacks you can face by leaving one employer for another include:

Losing out on employer contributions to your retirement plan: Taking full advantage of an employer’s retirement plan contribution matches is among the best ways to financially prepare for your golden years. But you can jeopardize that free money by quitting.

According to CNBC, “about one-third of companies award their match on a different schedule than ‘per pay period.'” Quit too early in the year, and you can miss out on future contributions. In addition, you can lose out on contributions already made to your account if they aren’t fully vested.

Citing data from Fidelity Investments, CNBC reports that workers who transition to a new job end up forfeiting an average of $1,520, or 18 percent of their account balance. So research the policies that govern your employer’s retirement plans, including how long it takes before contributions are officially “vested.”

Forfeiting unused vacation: Don’t assume you will be paid in full — or at all — for unused vacation time if you quit. That’s determined by state law, with only about half of states requiring employers to pay departing employees for their unused vacation days.

However, an employer can opt to provide this parting payment anyway and many do. So check your company’s policy before handing in your resignation letter.

Missing out on educational reimbursements: The vast majority of employers offer a college tuition reimbursement program worth up to a median maximum of $7,500 per year, CNBC reports. But they commonly require workers to stay with the company for a certain period — usually one year — after being reimbursed. Leave before then and you’d have to give back that reimbursement.

Additionally, your new employer could require you to work for that company for a certain period before you are eligible for tuition reimbursements.

Starting the clock over on health care expenses: Let’s imagine a scenario where you have employer-sponsored health insurance and have met all or most of the deductibles for this year. If you quit your job today, you will start over as far as your deductibles are concerned — and that’s assuming your new job comes with health insurance benefits.

According to the CNBC report, starting over with new deductibles mid-year can cost some workers several thousand dollars.

If you’re looking to leave your employer for better benefits rather than better pay, you’ll want to check out a different article — “7 Ways to Get the Job With the Best Benefits.”

Have you encountered any unexpected costs after leaving a job? Tell us about your experience below or over on our Facebook page.

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