Money.  It is by far the thing that is on most minds these days — especially if you are facing a career transition.  How should you finance your career transition whether it’s being forced due to a layoff or if you’re planning ahead in advance of a possible layoff?  Good question.

Here are my thoughts on how to finance your career transition in difficult times….but I look forward to hearing your suggestions as well….please feel free to comment:

1. In transition, do some part-time work.  Anything that drives your passion.  It doesn’t matter that it may not pay big bucks, it’s going to serve two purposes:  helping you reduce “your burn” and it’s going to get you OUT of the house, more motivated and will force you to manage your time better.  Love dogs?  Go work part-time at a dog daycare facility.  Love kids?  Go work part-time as a teacher’s aid.  Love chocolate?  Get a part-time job working at your favorite chocolate shop.  Even if it’s just 5-10 hours a week.  It’ll help you think more clearly about what you really want to do — while earning a few bucks exploring.

2.  If you think that some course work or a more advanced degree is needed, then look into a variety of ways to finance it:  loans, grants, etc.  If you’ve made too much money and you can’t get student loans or grants (yes, even if you’re 50+ you might be eligible for loans and grants!), then still consider taking the coursework needed to change careers but first chat with your accountant.  It depends state by state, but there may be some tax write-off opportunities in April 2010 for you, based on what you do now in 2009.

3.  One quick “don’t”.  Don’t touch your 401K.  Don’t!  It’s tempting.  But don’t!  If you touch your 401K, you’ll realize up to a 40% tax/fee liability.  First there’s a 10% penalty fee for early withdrawal PLUS you have to then pay taxes on what you’ve withdrawn.  Don’t do it.  Go get a part-time job before you touch your 401K.

4.  Get paid to make the switch!  There ARE job training programs out there.  They are offered at a federal, state, county and even city level.  Check out organizations such as VISTA, the Peace Corps, Americorps, Transition to Teaching and the list goes on and on.  Explore your options!

Those are just a few of my quick thoughts….what are yours?