Are There Really People Who Only Work 40 Hours A Week Or Less And Complain Why They Can’t Get Ahead?

Sleepy CatThere have been a number of data points recently that have caught me off guard. Apparently, there are people in this world who actually work 40 hours a week or less and complain why they can’t get ahead! I understand if you are retired, a student, handicapped, or under-employed how you might not work 40 hours a week. But, I’ve only heard about places like France where people work less than 40 hours a week and start going on strike if they have to work more!

Working 40 hours a week or less is fantastic if you are happy with your income and career, not bored out of your mind, and can get away with it. Unfortunately, I am neither skilled enough to do what I want with that little amount of time, nor do I have the courage to work so little for what I am being compensated for. I think I would probably get fired if I worked that little. Besides, I have about 80 hours of work energy in me a week now. Might as well utilize it before it fades.  How about you?

Data point #1: Two women on the bus were chatting next to me and explaining what a long day at work they had. It was 6:30pm and one woman said, “Thank goodness the day is over! I got in an hour early at 8:30am and am absolutely exhausted!” She’s exhausted for being in the office for 10 hours with an hour long lunch break? Sign me up!

Data point #2: For some reason, my article “How Much Do The Top Income Earners Make By Percentage?” continues to get random commenters (1,000+ now) who turn the simple question into a political and social debate about why the rich should be paying more taxes, and the lower 50% should be paying even less taxes. One commenter says I’m out of touch with reality when I explain that anybody who really wants to be in the Top 50% of income earners ($33,000) can do so if they wanted to. All you have to do is work 63 hours a week at $10 to make $33,000 a year! He says that’s ridiculous as he can’t make that working 40 hours a week (no kidding).

Data point #3: My friend in HR said her firm is implementing overtime compensation for certain level of workers who work more than 40 hours a week. I asked her why her firm was rewarding their workers for working hours they’re supposed to anyway? That’s like rewarding the cable guy who comes within the allotted window! She giggled and shrugged. If I am the CEO, and you command overtime compensation for working more than 40 hours a week, I will do my best to refer you to my competitor to blow them up.

Data point #4: A blogger who moved to a foreign country to experience location independence, swims for hours a day, “works” about 30 hours a week and says he’s burned out. He’s upset that he’s not making more than $1,000-$2,000 a month with his infoproducts and online job opportunities. He’s so burned out that he took a week off to re-charge his batteries. In other words, he took a vacation from his vacation.  You’d think as a full-time blogger working 3-5 hours a day that you’d probably post every day and never burn out. But, he only posts 2 to 3X a week and writes that he’s frustrated nobody has given him a book deal. Come on now. $1,000-$2,000 ain’t too shabby for kicking back!

Data point #5: I was meeting a potential business partner for coffee downstairs at the consulting gig I’m working at. There were four 20-something year olds just lounging in these recliners, surfing the web, and doing absolutely nothing but goof off for the entire 1.25 hours I was there. One guy starts saying how his firm hired someone senior than him to do his job, and how angry he was for not being recognized more. Then this other guy who was listening to music off his laptop chimes in that he’s been looking for a programming job for months. This is San Francisco, where if you have programming skills, you are hired for $100,000 at 25 years old. Watching YouTube videos, surfing the web, and playing games on your laptop at a coffee shop during the middle of the day does not get you anywhere. Taking 1.25 hour coffee breaks in the afternoon if you are working doesn’t not help you get promoted either.

DO PEOPLE REALLY ONLY WORK 40 HOURS A WEEK OR LESS?

Are there really people out there who only work 40 hours or less a week and complain about why they can’t get ahead or make enough money? That’s like slacking off in school and expecting Google to hire you for big bucks. Ain’t gonna happen. I don’t think I’ve ever worked less than 40 hours a week when healthy. Day job work is around 55-60 hours a week and online work is another 20 hours of fun work a week for a total of 75-80 hours. Add on 35-42 hours a week for sleep, that still leaves 50 hours a week to spend with family, friends, and extracurricular activities. It’s not like the 75-80 hours a week spent on work is all just work either. It’s fun to interact online, go play golf with clients, get some lunch and earn some income in the process.

Perhaps society has manipulated people into believing that 40 hours a week is a normal time to spend on the job or on an endeavor.  There are two ways to get ahead: 1) Work harder and smarter than everybody else and 2) Make everybody else work less and dumber. If you ask any super successful person how many hours a week they work I can guarantee you that it’s way more than 40 hours a week.

Do you think President Obama works only 40 hours a week? Hell no! He regularly works 60-70 hours a week and is on call 24-7. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg works 40 hours a week?  He worked around the clock to build Facebook to what it is today. Do you think doctors don’t study night and day for their MCATs to then go on single digit work hour rounds? The answer is “no”, and you know that.

40 HOURS A WEEK IS A WALK IN THE PARK, SO JUST BE HAPPY

If you can work 40 hours a week and be satisfied with what you have, more power to you. I definitely plan to work less than 40 hours a week during retirement. However, if you are complaining about life and why you don’t have enough money and only work 40 hours a week, you need to get your head checked. We live in a very competitive society and anybody who wants to be better than average can’t work 40 hours and expect to be more than they’re not.

Update 10/16/2013: I retired because I no longer want to work more than 40 hours a week! Instead, I’m working 15-20 hours a week on building passive income so I don’t have to work anymore.

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Updated: 5/28/2014

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. LovingLife007 says

    life isn’t ALL about working…atleast people in other countries know how to have social time with family and friends. LIVE a little. Who wants to be a corporate slave?? so what if you work less than 40 hours a week….are you competing against your neighbor because he/she has a bigger house or a nicer car? As long as you can afford basic necessities, no debt and have a roof over your head…..i would much rather spend my precious time with my family and friends.

    • Dan says

      I only work half the year now. I’m Canadian, and I work construction. We’re mainly outside in the winter, and it gets really cold. It gets so cold your eyes literally glaze over with ice when the wind hits them.

      I’ve quit smoking, and quit drinking. I live simply. I find girlfriends who have similar interests, while weeding out the materialists. I cook most of my own food, and coffee or tea is my comfort food.

      I’m actually paid quit low for my position. However, I still earn enough to sustain myself for almost 3 months for each month of work I do. That is to say, that the cost of my rent, food and entertainment is only a third of what I make in a month. The rest can go to savings.

      Because I am earning and being taxed half the year, and then I suddenly cease earning, tax season is always great for me as well. I often get returns in excess of 3K because I didn’t work, in an industry that’s known for tax evasion because of the amount of overtime usually dolled out.

      Some time around October it starts snowing, and I quit my job. I coast for up to 6 months not needing EI or welfare. There’s still almost 25% of my yearly earnings left over.

      I am consuming less as a result, and also producing less, lowering my footprint and impact on the world, and conserving resources for the future. I only wish our society weren’t so stuck on the 40 or 60 hour work week, or was more acceptive of job sharing, so that I could share half my job with someone else and not have to start fresh each year.

      • says

        Thanks for your perspective. Come down to California or Hawaii during your time off. You’ll love it down here.

        If you’re happy with your situation, that is awesome. It is only those who are complaining about their situation, yet working less than 40 hours a week where we should be wondering…. HUH?

  2. Danielle says

    Sorry, but you sound like a guy whose only value in life is $$. How about time with family? Raising children? You’re not for Socialism? Then why are children of 70h-week workers raised by institutions? Why do you always eat, get your necessities, and everything else at an institution? Last time I checked, that was exactly the principles of Communism. :-)

  3. Yitzi says

    Obviously those who work more should be compensated more. But if at all possible, things should be set up so that one can fulfill all their needs (food, clothing, shelter, health care chosen by yourself rather than an insurance you didn’t even choose directly) and obligations (educating one’s children, religious obligations) without working more than 40 hours a week (or perhaps a better benchmark would be 56 hours including housework and commutes.)

  4. idee says

    Money is not the only important thing in life. There are other priorities, like family, spending time with children. Working for someone else is not the top priority in life. Students get a college education so they can work 40 hours a week and make a decent living. People need to spend time on themselves, hobbies, things you are passionate about outside of work. You don’t live to work, you work to live. And you don’t need much in this life to live a happy and healthy life. But if someone wants to go kill themselves working many hours during the week so they can have lots of $ to spend on fancy cars, fancy iphones, etc. then go be it. But before you know it, ten years have gone by and you’re still working many hours and working for someone else. This entire article seems geared towards workaholics. YOu say people in France complain when they need to work 40 hours or more, well europeans value their time with family and themselves as a priority over working for the man. Personally, 40 hours a week of my life are wasted on working so I can make my money to pay off my obligations, but I don’t get those 40 hours a week of life back. They’re gone, sitting at a computer multi tasking, stressing out. We’re not meant for that. We hardly move sitting in an office, no wonder so many of us are unhealthy, send our 3 month olds to daycare, are overweight and stressed out. We should be healthy, we should have time to work out and eat healthy, sit at night and eat with our families at the dinner table, take care of our infants rather than sending them to daycare so they can raise them for us. Working over 40 hours a week is NOT the answer.

    • says

      Some great excuses. Of course money isn’t the most important thing in life!

      This post is for people who want to get ahead, but are wondering why they can’t with their limited work hours.

  5. Sal says

    I manage a gas station and I give my crew 40 hrs each and a Tab account that they could buy stuff and charge it on it. Than to pay it back I tell my crew that I will pay regular pay in cash or give them credit on there Tab Account ,but they don,t have to work after there schedule hr s it is all up to them to decide if they work extra hours is this legal the way im doing this

  6. chris says

    Wow! Oh boy, I worked 80 hours a week on the golf course or taking my clients to Applebees. We all know why the 40 hour work week was in place. Not for rich upper-middle class sales people to get paid overtime networking and synergizing with there pals at a nudey bar, but to stop the miner from mining 12 hours a day weekends included.

    Look back at history at see how the law has shaped this land. The blogs you write are read by people taking a break from their jobs. Fair labor laws etc is what allows this.

    Outsourcing jobs to other countries so corporations can pay jack for 80 hours a week to a single mom living in a dump is a crime, actually a felony here.

    The only reason you people agree with this jerk is that you are trying to validate how hard you work. But seeing that you are on this site, looking for this validation probably shows that you really don’t believe this. Go home and spend some time with your kids. Go fishing, work off that gut.

    When you job gets “Outsourced” to India and no one will hire you since a middle managment position at Best Buy is worth about as much as 3 months on the job at Taco Bell, you’ll agree with me.

      • Jamie says

        Ironic much? Your article tastes of bitterness as well.

        Hard work =/= success. As much as I hate networking, I know it is the people whom I take my lunch breaks with that help me more than the extra hours behind my computer.

        However, I do agree that you often have to put in the extra hours to get noticed. I used to work with a person who did 1/3 of the work that I did on a daily basis but she complained so much the boss recognized her for staying 5 extra hours a week. I never offered to work overtime because it was unecessary, all she had to do is streamline her process and her desk would be clean at the end of the day like mine. I offered to finish tasks for my co-worker and repeatedly asked for more work to which my boss replied that there was no more work. If there is no work, there should be no overtime.

  7. says

    Sam,

    Interesting. Very very interesting! I work on average 60 hours a week, and do quite well thank-you-very-much. My partner gets paid for 40 hours but quite often does 60+ as well.

    We are comfortable. We are going places.

    Like you I hear people whine they worked ‘a hard 32 hours’ last week, and their employer was so ungrateful. And I shake my head in shame. What IS this world coming to?

    • says

      I’m not sure who you people are. I NEVER hear anyone complain about working 32 hours. (And could we get rid of the word “whine”? It’s what children do and if you apply it to adults, you are putting yoursef way above those you label, and that’s pretty superior and annoying.)

      If you have a huge passion for your work, fine, knock yourself out. But don’t be so hard on people who may only be able to work 40 hours a week for reasons you may not know, and, yes, they are frustrated about not getting ahead. And they may voice that frustration. Why do you care? Because YOUR hard-earned dollars are supporting someone’s “entitlement”? Please. You’d think we were living in Sweden.

      I have lived all over the world for work and I have only seen in the US the bragging that goes on about hours worked–it’s like some of kind of machismo and not at all appealing.

  8. says

    The message behind this post is based on a flawed assumption. The assumption that working more hours will cause you to produce more. It isn’t true. Here, this post says it much better than I could.

    alternet.org/visions/154518/why_we_have_to_go_back_to_a_40-hour_work_week_to_keep_our_sanity/?page=entire

  9. Ian says

    “My friend in HR said her firm is implementing overtime compensation for certain level of workers who work more than 40 hours a week. I asked her why her firm was rewarding their workers for working hours they’re supposed to anyway?”

    This is truly monstrous and stupid. Who determined that? When? Are all you people cheerleading this attitude really serious? Take a five minute break [horrors!] from pulling on those bootstraps and working yourself into an early grave instead of an early retirement to understand why a 40 hour work week is what we should all be working.

    salon.com/2012/03/14/bring_back_the_40_hour_work_week/singleton/

  10. says

    The reality is many, especially in Europe, want lives where they WORK TO LIVE…not LIVE TO WORK.

    I don’t knock anyone who is ambitious and wants to put in 60-80 hours a week to climb the ladder faster, but in today’s modern environment, companies simply think they can work you 60-80 hours a week but still pay you crap like you only did 40 hours.

    Look at our environment now. You have to be willing to give your life to the job, and never complain that you’re tired or want to go home at night and on weekends to see your family. In fact, you’re seen as more valuable if you don’t get married and don’t have kids…so your only thing in life is work. Don’t you dare get older, or else you’re out. Don’t get too ambitious, or your boss will find a way to get rid of you before you replace him/her.

    A high salary is supposed to be paid for one’s utility and scarcity. So a basic accountant will not get much because he/she is easily replaceable…but a financial whiz who brings millions in profits to the company should get paid a lot because he/she is a valuable asset. Whether or not this aset works 2 hours a week or 80 hours a week is meaningless.

    PLUS…many companies often just plainly do it all wrong. They need to let go of the obsolete model of bodies in desks as an illusion of productivity. Do more telecommuting for starters, and allow workers to take their off time for themselves…so you have a two week period where things end up in limbo due to planning or approval from somewhere…let everyone take the time off without losing PTO.

    AND…when workers get pulled into working an insane week or month to make something big happen…reward them. Raises, bonuses, promotions, and even just added PTO days will do wonders. Yet employers fear payroll costs and worry that promotions will lead to people using them to bargain for better jobs with competitors. Um…if they would do that, then it shows you never gave them a reason to be loyal.

    We have a very screwed up way of thinking about work in the US, and it’s why families are such a mess now. We need to let go of the past and think “work smarter”. My goal in life is to make great money with that elusive “work-life balance”…and even if I have to move to France to get it, I will. No career is worth your health or your family.

    • says

      I think all of us would like to make great money while kicking back no? Alas, that ain’t going to happen!

      We need to make some sacrifices to get the rewards we seek. Those who are younger or who work less than 40 hours a week and complain why they aren’t superstars need to get a reality check.

  11. A. says

    There are some of us that simply don’t care about money, though! I always made enough to get by and fund my emergency fund, but never really worked more than that. I didn’t have much, but I also didn’t care, because I was happy.

    Sadly, my mom passed when I was in my mid 20s. She was wealthy, and she left my brother and I quite a bit of money – about 2 million apiece. It was enough to pay for apartments in full (a non-ghetto 2bed/2bath in this city is $500,000 minimum… crazy real estate market), and invest in the rental market and live off the interest without touching the principal+inflation (assuming 3% inflation) – about $40k/yr after taxes.

    My brother is a flashy guy. He likes expensive clothes, cars, and other items of status. He’s not a snob — he doesn’t judge those that don’t have the things he does. He simply has expensive taste, and enjoys spending a lot of money on a regular basis. As such, he chooses to work full-time, bringing in another 40k or so per year. He one day wants to have a big family and to be “rich”. His work drive is currently mitigated by his investment income, or I think he would work a LOT more. He is someone truly driven and motivated by money. I, however, am the exact opposite.

    I am a frugalista at heart. I choose to enjoy my free time and pursue my hobbies and passions – none of which involve much money, except maybe travelling. The only things I spend large amounts of money on are typically ones that will net me a nice return (ex: buying a good quality sofa vs a cheap one, and not having to replace it for ~15-20 years, saving me $ over time). Never once have I dreamed of complaining because my brother makes twice as much as me – I’m lucky enough to not have to work more than a few hours per week (to maintain the investments, post rental ads, etc), and my income is more than enough for me!

    I’m curious, in my situation, would you choose to not work, or choose to continue working?

  12. says

    Haha! Well, I have never worked more than 40 hours a week in my life. Maybe every once in a while I might have put in a 50 hour week if a big project was due. I have to say that I disagree with this to some extent:

    “However, if you are complaining about life and why you don’t have enough money and only work 40 hours a week, you need to get your head checked.”

    I see what you’re getting at, but working MORE is not necessarily the answer. You did mention working smarter, but I think the key lies right there. When I worked in an office, I looked around me and more than half the office was not working very smartly. They waste their time, browse the web, talk to co-workers. I would work hard for 2-3 hours, take a walk, and come back for more hard work. I’d come in at 9am and leave at 5pm most days and I got more accomplished that a lot of folks. And, I hate to say it, but some people are just smarter and get things done much more quickly. They are more efficient. If you can work effectively, you’re probably doing better than 90% of your co-workers. I know that was true for me.

    Of course, I worked in software and every field is different. A nurse who works 10 hours a day would probably be very tired, where as an office worker who sits on a chair all day is probably fine after 10 hours (especially if there are perks like fancy lunches and whatnot). Some jobs are pretty cushy.

    Also, some people have kids and families and working more than 40 hours per week is not necessarily possible (or a good idea cause kids grow up fast, you know). I knew a lot of people that worked long hours just to be away from their families. That’s just sad, I think.

    So yeah, people are complainypants when it comes to finances (I used to know a lot of them), but I think that the majority of them waste their money or just don’t understand their finances. I’m also not a fan of those that complain, but don’t do anything about it.

    Honestly, I am amazed that people work as much as they do. Working too much is apparently the single biggest regret of the dying. Spending time with family and building community, volunteering, and doing good for the world are things I believe we should be doing more — they feed our souls. If we stopped being so wasteful in our spending, we could work less AND be financially healthy.

  13. Bob says

    Yes, single moms CAN earn $33K if they have two jobs and want to pay thousands a year in extra day care. To them it is not worth the extra expense. Why pay a day care and Uncle Sam together 80 cents or more on the dollar from a second job?

    • says

      I wouldn’t either. A single mom’s job is worth around $100,000 in my book. The greatest people I look out to are single moms. They know how to get things done and juggle everything. One of my close friends is a single mom and she makes me catch myself whenever I feel like whining or complaining. Single moms are amazing!

  14. Tom manager says

    If you are experienced in your profession, you should be able to do the job in 40hrs/week, blue collar or white. If you are new to the field, than you may need 50-60hrs per week to get up to speed, “for a while”. On the flip side. If you work a labor intensive position, than yes, 40hrs is plenty. If you are a desk jockey, than 50hrs is plenty. Any more than that and you’d be cheating yourself and family out of a LIFE.

    The biggest problem is with salaried employees and their managers who don’t understand, or at least do not make it clear, as to what normal working hours are. Letting one guy get ahead by working after hours is fine, “if needed”, but don’t expect the rest of the team to follow. These expectation are what drive stress levels high and production low. Find smart workers who can get the job done on time within hours or find a manager who can better organize a tight schedule.

    Bottom line…

    The worst thing you can do is WORK FOR FREE.

  15. chris says

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. That’s you sir. You want to ask questions about people who, but you care nothing about what is said by them. Start a question that is already answered just means that you are doing nothing but ranting. You did it poorly at that, since you trolled others in this post, instead of research. You speak about jobs and hours like they are overflowing where you are. At that go screw yourself. It IS about separation and you are part of it. Go back home to your hating self. Oh wait you probably work from home blogging. I see you joining the future socialist party to void out anyone going against your game. Working $10 an hour. You need a reality check on who will offer someone a 10 an hour job and how many are available. Sure I could work those hours at minimal, Plenty of jobs out there would love to pay me that slave credit…Since I can’t even get a check or a stub anymore, we’ll call it that. Last note: QUIT HATING you are listening too much to people who have no clue. 33,000 and working over 40 work weeks. Do your family a treat, spend some time with them, or is paper currency the only thing you chase. Secondly, they probably already gave you up. To leave u in the snow to freeze.

  16. Mario Antoinette says

    Presumably this website is run by someone who presumes to be some kind of financial guru, but in truth this is shocking advice for what i can only assume are very gullible people. They key is not working stupid hours, but having or gaining a skill where you can work far less than 40 hours and earn far more than you would in some stupid slave labor service position with some crappy Mccorporation. Get a life people! Out of the US , its actually very rare for people to work more than 40 hours. This is shockingly naive. For the record, i work in the US , in IT for an american bank , im contracted to work 40, but i “work” about 4 hours a week and im STILL more productive than most. In my vast spare time i do whatever i please, at home. People, you need to work smart, not hard. This crap written here sums up america in a nutshell. Overworked, overstressed and with a constant need to buy more and more crap.

    • says

      I have never presumed to be a financial guru. I just made my first million by 28, lost a lot in 2009, recovered, learned, wrote about my journey, and retired at 35 in 2012 this year. You can read my About page here.

      I don’t want to hear people complaining about not getting ahead if they are working less than 40 hours a week, when there are plenty of people working 50-70% more.

      I’ve got all the time in the world now and am financially independent, largely because I put in the hard work when I still had the energy. Share more of your story.

  17. Andy says

    Working that much is never a smart thing to do unless you have a short term goal, and you are going to work that much to accomplish it, but not kill yourself everyday of your life sacrificing everything else just to have money sitting in the bank that you don’t even have time to enjoy. The smart thing is to get smarter and use your potential to get better paying job or become your own boss. More output with less input is the key to live a great life. The great Dalai Lama said: Men sacrifices his health to make money.Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present. The result being that he doesn’t live the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

  18. J says

    Interesting – I’ve always need between 9 and 10 hours of sleep a night in order to function properly. I envy that you only need 5 or 6. For some people though working that much in unrealistic and unhealthy. I’m currently debating whether or not to take a job in the city which would require me to commute from the suburbs (2 hours per day). Doing this would me that I would need to be asleep by 8:30pm and wake up by 6:00am in order to get into the city on time (these times also depend on train schedules). At the end of the day I’d be home around 6 eat dinner and basically immediately head to bed. This leaves zero time for anything that I’d like to do. Anyway, some people just need more sleep and employers should be more understanding of this. Yes, I want to get ahead. Yes, I want to make more money. Although, I am in no way willing to jeopardize my health or appear lazy on-the-job due to lack of sleep.

  19. Patty says

    Theres more to life than work. Who the hell wants to spend all day, everyday, at the same place doing the same thing??? 40 hours is more than enough. Live life, enjoy family, day trips, vacations. Whats your tombstone gonna say? “Here lies a man that worked” ?

  20. Adama says

    You’re totally missing the meaning of life here- when you are on your deathbed, which you absolutely CAN end up in early when you’re getting 5hours of sleep a night, do you think you’re going to be happy you spent the mass majority of your time working?? No. You would be kicking yourself for not spending mire time with your lived ones. The only people that only care about making more money are those who are saving for something in particular, have no close lived ones that they see daily or people who are just plain greedy. Do you think your family will be happy you worked constantly and where never home so you could bring home another 15,000 dollars, give or take, a year? Life isn’t about money. I’m astounded so many people just label those who don’t want to waste their life working as “lazy”. Maybe they just get that money is nothing at the end if the day.

    • says

      Adama, I think you are missing the point. I’m all for people relaxing and living the good life. I do that now as an early retiree! Read the post to learn more.

      What I find peculiar are people who only work 40 hours a week a COMPLAIN why they can’t get ahead when those who are getting ahead are working much longer hours!

  21. Adama says

    Sorry for the typos- typing on an iPod here. I also want to add that working more can easily be replaced by learning a valuable skill while working 30-40 hours per week. I think only people who have actually done something TO get ahead, such as learned a trade or gotten an education of some kind can complain when they have to work over 40 hours a week to make it. It irritates me when my husband’s friend, who’s 34, complains that he “has to” work more than 40 hours for ten bucks an hour when he didn’t bother graduating from high school and has done absolutely NOTHING to get a better job- including apply for another one! He sits around whining about a job that he has made no effort to get out of like he’s a victim when in fact he just wants sympathy and a free ride. Now THAT is laziness. I do agree though, that you can’t complain when you have all the power in changing it.

  22. Geddy says

    Wow, money is all that matters to you eh? What a pathetic person you must be. Go ahead and write your epitaph now “I wish I spent more time at work”

    • says

      To not care about money, you first need to care a great deal about money. At 35, I’m retired due to savings, investing, and hard work. Now I live completely free on my passive income and work on what I want to do.

      You’ve come to a personal finance blog btw. Do you expect the topic not to be about money?

  23. late says

    Stumbled across this. I don’t work 40 or less but first impressions: 2 women on bus…married? going home to kids?10 hours of work plus 5 of kids is tiring I would think. I have no kids work ~12-14 hours a day at desk job with 1.5 hours break but go home to do whatever I want..aka meals can be a bag of chips, beer in front of t.v.

    The other point that struck me: are you sure those people up for overtime compensation were getting paid in first place. I’m salaried and don’t get paid for overtime, but am expected to work by project meaning I am here from 7am-7pm due to time zones and such. Non-salaried workers are forbidden to work overtime and it is deemed my mismanagement if they can’t get their work done on time (meaning I have to pick up where they left off). I did get a 30,000 per year increase though to become salaried so can’t complain. Just thoughts.

  24. says

    I don’t get why working “only” 40 hours a week is so criticized. You can be super productive in those 40 hours, especially with technological advantages we have over previous generations. You have to consider that those 40 hour work weeks were established when people didn’t have smartphones or even fax machines. I understand that working more hours on special projects or during busier times is good office politics but consistently working over 40 hours all year round is asking for burn-out. I also think people should think about their salary as per hour. If you make more $, but always work 50-60 hours, you may actually make less per hour than someone who works 40 hours. just food for thought.

  25. says

    You can put max effort with 40 hour work weeks and more hours when needed for special projects or deadlines. There are many people who put in more hours just for face time and inefficiencies, and are being taken advantage of in many ways. Your salary is based on the assumption of 40 hours. If you are always working more, then your company is understaffed and/or you’re not that efficient.

    I had a coworker who came from the 60 hour work culture and thought that was the ONLY way to get ahead ( and it may be true for some companies and industries unfortunately due to people who subscribe to the belief that ONLY working 60+ hours = formula for success). Anyway, she had trouble adapting to a company with more work/life balance and where people actually stepped away from the desk for lunch. I noticed that she would make silly mistakes and then have to spend time fixing them. As just one example, she created a new spreadsheet to track projects. It was beautiful and more detailed than our existing one, but required 3x as much time to update. Needless to say, no one wanted to take that extra time just to update her spreadsheet. Sometimes people create more work and then need those extra 60 hours to do their work. just more food for thought!

    • says

      No doubt there is a lot of face time involved at work, which is a waste for work’s sake.. but it might not be a waste from an image and career standpoint. If you are the boss who is always staying later than your subordinate, you are going to be hardpressed to provide accolade even if the employee is doing all of his/her work. Unless you work for a monopoly, there is ALWAYS something more someone can do.

  26. John C says

    people that work 40 hours or less, most likely hate their jobs. I mean could you work flipping burgers for more than 40 hours per week? I couldn’t.

    But what if you were a football sports fanatic and you were offered a job to report on football. would you kind working 80-100 hours per week? Nope, you probably love every minute of it.

  27. Tim WC says

    I’m really surprised how many conformist, brain washed people are here. I know everyone is scared about having to provide for their family and the last five years have sent everyone into painful of anxiety, but working 40 to 60 hours is insane. It’s just insane.

    Somewhere, you started buying into the whole kids / mortgage / new car nightmare and somehow decided that being succesful at those antiquated paradigms equaled “getting ahead”. As a result of your myopathy, now EVERYONE has to succumb to rediculous standards while less and less people get the opportunity to chase their true passions. Meanwhile pharmaceutical companies and lawyers are cleaning up on your psychological idiosyncrasies and divorces. You don’t have time to balance it all, let alone enjoy it. I doubt most of you have hobbies that you’re actually GOOD at.

    I work full time and then spend my evening working another 4 to 6 hours cultivating my dream job. It’s brought me to this. Taking the minutes before bedtime wondering if anyone else feels like me. I guess not. I see a lot more people turning the corner on suicide. A lot more people telling others that it’s ok. I’m starting to believe it. I’m starting to think it might be, in some way, the best option for many.

    Have you ever noticed that people that can create interesting and engaging conversation are becoming famous? Physicists, comedians, scientists, globe hopping journalists… You know why? They’re interesting to us because they’re passionate about topics that resonate with the human condition. Not some soul grinding toil dealing in construction or warehousing. Now ask yourself, when was the last time someone in construction or logistics held your interest with a mind blowing epiphany? It doesn’t happen. Not here.

    We trade one cubicle for another. 1 hour commutes each way to a place that you have to stay for 10 hours and only get paid for eight. But your so conditioned, it makes you feel above it all to just submit and tell others to suck it up. It’s maddening.

  28. mel higginson says

    this post makes no sense at all, first of all I can’t work more than 40 hours a week, they don’t allow us in our office (insurance), they won’t pay 1 minute extra of salary. second I make o.k money, I’m happy with my life, I don’t want to sacrifice my life and family just for work. 40 hours is a full time job and is the normal. I want to spend time with my daughter on weekends and evenings and not be seating at work after my normal 8 hours. well aside that I won’t allow us to work more than 1 minute. there as so many things you can do in your free time, spend time with your family, go to the gym, take day trips on weekends, go to church, the movies, relax at home. you don’t have to be a slave.

  29. Monica says

    @ Fin-Edu

    I believe we are living in a time where the employer is empowered to treat employees almost like slaves to get the work done no matter what b/c they have a line of people waiting to be employed.

    I agree that quality of life is so important so we can raise good hearted children who see that work is important but not more so than health, family, dreams, etc.
    40 hours a week is plenty and these days there are several like me who work 11 to 13 hour days some weekends too.

    I have thought that if we considered 30 to 35 hours a week full-time that some people would not abuse that but work more efficiently or productively b/c they are able to enjoy other areas of their life.

    I hear people say that their work is like their home. We have gifts to share so if we are run-down how ca we truly feel at our best? If we love what we do then we have tons of energy but
    our bodies still need rest and time for play. Naps in offices could do wonders. Genuine regard for employees could reap more for employers and those the employer serves than anything else.

    We are human beings not machines.

    Hope our values and visions of what is possible shift.

  30. loveslibraries says

    If she worked 10 hours, commutes an hour both ways, makes meals, does her own cleaning, eats breakfast and dinner, that equals 15 hours. That gives her only one discretionary hour, in order to get a full night’s sleep. One discretionary hour per day is not enough. Maybe you believe life is all work, but other people like to have time to square dance, have a hobby, run the City Council, volunteer, do their own errands, taxes, car repairs, laundry, home improvements, finances, pay bills, make investments, attend civic ceremonies, play with their children, exercise their pets, groom well, shop, arrange and complete medical and automotive appointments, take care of grandma and the widow down the block, go to church twice a week, clean the roof, maintain the landscaping, and so on. And exercise. You should, too.

  31. Folwart says

    I like how you include your lunches, golf games and blogging in your “work” week, OP. I should pad my weekly work hours with similar bs, it would make me sound far more hardcore.

  32. Luis says

    More American brainwashing. Freak that i work 40 hour or less money means nothing. I just need enough to pay the bills and keep a roof over me. I constantly turn down overtime. Ive only worked passed 40 maybe 3 times in the past 5 years.

  33. Grace says

    For some people, work is fun though and exhilarating. Perhaps the people who don’t like working 40 hours a week need knew occupations because they don’t like their jobs?

    Personally, I am with you in that I LIKE working longer hours and doing more. I like to work as much as I feel is necessary to get the job done and deliver a quality product. Unfortunately though, I think the majority of workers are working for a salary.

  34. RKWyant says

    working over 20 hours a week is overkill. If you need to work 40 hours your inefficient. “Success” isn’t how much money you make, its how many people you love. Sounds like you want to spend your time “working” as you call it. Chill out… you bought into the hype that you need all kinds of stuff. Keep it simple and work 15 to 20 hours and enjoy life…

  35. Abe says

    Congratulations, you have become a well trained, good sheeple! Go ahead and work exorbitant hours, earn next to nothing, while your employer makes gazillions off of your broken back. Your relationships suck and your family life, if you have one, is horrible because the government raises your kids, and your spouse turns to food, drugs and alcohol, or someone else to ease the lonliness. You keep slaving for the man. We choose to live off grid, growing our own food, and providing love, life, and happiness for our families!

  36. iwantmoney says

    Hi FS,

    I ran into your blog 2 months ago! I enjoy reading your older blogs, and the newer ones!
    I’m on my way to start things out (albeit a bit late) – maxing out the 401k, generate rental income, and have an X-factor! I need to focus more on my dividend income and CD interest income. I started late, and am 32 now. But this blog inspires me.

    I made the mistake to not read your 10% car purchase, so I’m paying for that mistake.
    Do you have any suggestions on other passive income besides rental, dividend, and CD interest income?

    I would love to hear more ideas — right now i’m paying off debt that I acquired in my late 20s and early 30s, but I would love to hear what small changes I could make while paying off that debt. (Active income is $115k)
    Car debt is $1300/mo
    House financed @220k and is $1800/mo (including prop tax)

    It seems like you outline a lot of the financial problems I have made in my 20s and early 30s!
    Anyways, keep blogging and I hope to change things around.

    • Ace says

      $1300/month for a car payment? I hope you have a cool ride for that kind of money. Any possibility of trading it in for a lower cost vehicle?

  37. ahp999 says

    FS: I have generally been working 72 hours or more a week at times. While I was in the military and depending on the training/deployment situation working 12 plus hours a day was normal, so I got used to it. When I worked 8 hours or less, wow it felt like I had soooo much free time. Now that I am in the private sector I have still been working a lot of 12 hour days, but I am used to it and its not as bad any more. It could be worst I could be up in the mountains of afghanistan for months on end carrying over 80 pounds of gear in area over 10k feet above sea level. So yes now life seems great to me! I just recently setup my personal cap account and I just reached a net worth of 300k and just turned 29 recently, lifes good for me. I plan to take a month off in November/December, probably do a two diving trip at a island south of Thailand, can’t wait!

    My next step in life is to put that money to work and come up with ways to make passive income. So I too can retire early if I want too :) Hope your doing well!

  38. I Buhalo says

    I work 40 hours a week, a regular 9am – 5pm job, plus commute 2 hours a day. So from 8 am to 6 pm, I am not at home with my family. And yeah, I am exhausted sometimes, because I also have my UNPAID work of taking care of my 2 children and home on evenings and weekends. Fortunately, I make enough money and get benefits at one full time job. However, I can understand very well how 2 women would complain about being tired and not getting ahead — you seem to forget that they probably took 2 hours before their regular work day getting their family up, fed, and ready for school, and then have to go home to a few more hours of work. You should be able to support a family on 40 hours a week, but, at minimum wage, many people cannot.

  39. Mary says

    I would love to have one 40 hour or more job. I am 59 years old, stayed at home raising a family, doing lots of volunteer work, and fundraisers or organizations (even raising $10,000 in one day). But after 30 years of marriage my husband divorced me for another woman, forcing me into the work force. I don’t mind working but corporations control the job market and they aren’t giving 40 hr jobs to people my age. For several years I worked 3 part time jobs and still did not get 40 hrs a week. I have a college degree but that doesn’t matter. 20 year olds are getting promoted to management positions without a degree or management experience over older more mature people. I have yet to find a 20 year old who works as hard as older people. They spend so much time on their cell phones or talking about any drama going on in their lives instead of working. Be glad if you do get 40 hrs a week.

    • says

      Mary – Thanks for your perspective. You make a very good point about the difficulty of even landing 40 hrs. With this new economy of part-time labor and “gigs,” it’s definitely getting harder!

  40. erica says

    What is getting ahead? What is this big race you are doing lol. Before you know it you’ll be 60 and spent all your time working while I have spent more life having fun. Who is the winner then? I work 32 hours a week and I do all the hobbies I want and buy all the things I want while you’re stuck at work so I can enjoy your hard labor.

  41. don says

    I work 58-60 .I’m a teamster and work freight .Our contract requires the company to pay overtime after 8 hours not 40 time and half on 6th day double time on 7th day triple on holidays .so stop watching fox news tell you being in a union is bad for you .I know we all can’t be organized..but unions are needed now than ever before… when so many here are thankful just to be treated like dirt .

  42. don says

    A few last things to consider ..if you are a wage earner your ceo bosses salary has increased 400% in the last 10 years ..you mr.or Mrs working persons salary is stagnant for the last 10 .virtually every single labor benefit you may have was brought to you courtesy of organized labor .The very fact that you are talking about a 40 hour work week labor gave that to you …along with what is called the weekend .labor forced labor laws into mainstream work force .unions enforce corporate to abide .it wasn’t until Reagan and trickle down anti labor agenda ..now currently the tea party.were these laws seen as unecessary and unproductive .During a time of war against the American worker and groups such as the tea party putting in place anti workers politicians it’s is vital every worker stand up for labor because are the barometer to your work environment and anything good in it .facts are history not on fixed news .

  43. Z says

    The author of this article is just a little too proud of what worked for “him”, and believes that anyone not as lucky or fortunate as him is complacent or unwilling. Let him live the of a family man or a college student forced out of the house to make their own way, and he will gain some perspective. Life is an emotional experience, not a logical one – what has worked for one will not work for anyone.

    I will leave this article with something new learned, albeit the opposite of what the article intended. Treasure is in your family and relationships, not in how young you’re able to retire, for this author’s goals are incredibly socially constructed and temporary. Your investment will not be their by your side in old-age.

    Please remember to enjoy life before retirement folks.

    • says

      Don’t get me wrong Z, I’m all for YOLOing, which is why I decided to pull the rip chord and enjoy life more rather than work until 50-60-65 because I have to.

      My way of working hard is only one way. Today is Tuesday and I was ripping down verticals after 2 feet of powder dumped here in Lake Tahoe (up here this week). I struck up a conversation with a young guy who works at a hardware store and he said, “Yo bro, the conditions are sick out here yo! Give me powder over money any day yo.” He and are went two different paths, yet we landed in the exact same plane. Enjoying epic powder up at Squaw Valley.

      To each their own!

  44. Ernie says

    As a manager I used to work 60hrs regularly ,but was only paid for 40, that was my choice ;I didn’t have to .I got a car ,fuel allowance but never got much more recognition or thanks and no more money ;I think the word is Mug.

    If your’e so driven why have you retired at 35 ? Sounds as if you’re really Lazy deep down.You don’t really like or want to work ,well only the minimum you need to do,so a contradiction there . Look at the real hard workers , Richard Branson, Bill Gates ,Lord Allan Suggar; those guys Work hard and are really driven .

    Do you think a Doctor retires at 35 ; hell no their career is just really starting they will go on another 20 years or more.
    Most People are not work shy ,sure a lot of people moan ,but a lot of people have hard proffesional vocational careers , Nurses ,Police,Fire Fighters etc, working nights,split shifts ,weekends .Do you want these to take another job ? I’m sure you would have advocated the good old days of the Satanic Mills we had in Britain a hundred years ago 16 hr days ,poor pay ,conditions and high mortality.

  45. bam says

    Man, I worked two gigs for 2 years and I say F**K that. Man, I am happy working working one job Monday through Friday and I don’t have to take any work home. There is nothing like getting off work, parking my bike in right in front of Peete’s Coffee’s eating my Skittles and watching the ladies walk by while everyone else is busy working on their laptops. Pm weekends I go to the Vietnamese cafe and drink smoothies all day while I talk to the girls in thongs while other people are working weekends to ‘get a head’? To get out of the ‘comfort zone’? I’m glad I’m not them. I work so I can be comfortable. All I need is my $500 a week so I can park my bike at the end of the week at the Farmer’s Market and lay down with my feet up on the bench. Whew, I’m glad I don’t stress about the bullshit.

  46. Mike says

    You might want to throw in a personal disclaimer from your “About Financial Samurai” section:

    *Can happily function on just six hours of sleep (or less) per day

    I need a solid 9 hours of sleep to function at maximum efficiency. My average day looks something like this:
    6:30-8 Wake up, prepare for work, commute to work
    8-5 Work
    5-7 Commute to gym, exercise
    7-8 Return home, cook dinner
    8-9:30 Personal time

    So, you see, if I was fortunate enough to be able to function on 6 hours of sleep, I could devote another 3 hours of daily time (or 1095 hours per year) to work/personal endeavors.

    Point being, you are the exception, not the norm.

    • says

      Perhaps Mike. But trust me, I am nobody special; average intelligence, average height, average looks. The only thing I might be above average in is fear. I fear failure, and therefore I try to no end to succeed.

      But your math is correct. One can do A LOT with 1,000 more hours a year of work!

  47. Danny says

    You have 80 hours of energy a week and your answer is to use as much of it as you can to benefit a corporation that will make profits from you accepting slave wages for backbreaking work? What a good little conformist you are!

    I’m seeing a lot of that here on this blog, too…conformists. Once upon a time, work hours used to be 15-25 per week and that was universally accepted to take into account people’s social obligations. Now, work hours have increased and retirement age is also increasing, all because wages stay stagnated. They have cleverly implemented a way to enslave all of us to maximize their profits. And your answer is to conform to this?

    I dislike people such as yourself who claim that those of us who have less energy and lower attention spans are somehow “underneath” you if we can’t work 40 or more hours per week. Newsflash: our bodies aren’t meant for that. You’re just regurgitating what your elders and/or people in “authority” are dictating to you to be the mandatory standard of working. Here’s a tip: why don’t you use all this free time during your “early retirement” to actually start learning to think for yourself. You’re EXACTLY the type of person who would tattle on me in the workplace for slacking in productivity in my seventh hour, just to move your own greedy self up the corporate ladder.

    Take up a hobby. Love your friends and family. Laugh. Basically…get a life! Optimize these experiences by utilizing your energy on these endeavours. THAT…is “getting ahead”

  48. Theresa says

    I realize this is a USA post and I’m a Canadian so this is probably irrelevant but..
    I’m 22 years old and living in Halifax ns. The biggest city on the east coast. I have a job. They told me I was being hired full time for the summer then hours would go down a bit for the winter. I never got over 30 hours at this job and have been here over a year. Why don’t I quit? Because I’ve also been trying to find a new job/additional part time job for the past year with no success. It’s easy to say yeah I can work 60 hours this week but try to find someone that wants to pay you that many hours is another story. They won’t hire you for management without a car to your name which is rediculous because only managers get 40 hours a week in this city (we are talking retail and small businesses) and you know as well as I do if you go looking for a car loan with less than 30 hours you will get laughed at. Yes it’s indeed possible to get under 40 hours a week and complain that you can’t get ahead. There are few job opportunities in the maritimes and I know a lot of people who can’t get ahead. This is not the ‘my house/car is bigger than the neighbors’ type of ahead but what I’m talking about is being able to pay rent without pawning away valuables or being able to eat without the help of a food bank. 70% of the people I know in this city work and are looking for better work while going to a food bank. How can one get ahead when there is no opportunity to get ahead?

  49. Ryan says

    I’m really amazed at how many people don’t see the point of this post. I highly recommend a book by MJ DeMarco called Fastlane Millionaire where he talks exactly about these points. I think you’ll enjoy it, the author is about the same age as you Sam (34-35).

    Too put things into perspective I’m 26, the youngest worker at my company. We work 40hr/wk 8:30-5:30 @ $70k. But here is the real kicker. Our “work” consists of getting into the office on time, hang around the coffee machine, chat, check emails, surf the web, facebook, reddit, news, whatever fancy us. We do this everyday until noon, then it’s lunch for 1-1.5 hrs, which entails more web surfing and sometimes a movie. Then when lunch is over, we need a warm up period before starting work to find “inspiration” on the web. Then, we start actual work around 2 or 3pm!

    This is a start-up company BTW and would it be a shocker if I predict the company is heading towards a shit hole? Somehow management doesn’t see this because they are the ones setting examples for us.

    What I find really interesting are the diverse views of my colleagues regarding work/life. About half of them with families and young kids complain how they don’t have much time at home to spend with their family. The other half who are fairly young without family enjoys life and party it up after work and on the weekends.

    And then there’s me sitting there at the office reading financial blogs, watching all the episodes of shark tank, learning how to build a business, reading financial books, and they find me to be the boring one, haha. My goal is to use my energy and the fortunate position that I have at work to build up passive income so that I can retire before 35. Then I can spend the rest of my life with my family or partying or whatever I want.

    Great posts Sam, people like you are what I aspire to be, keep up the great work.

    -Ryan

    • says

      Good insights man. I’m surprised folks are so lax at a startup.

      But actually, I observed one guy at this startup company I am working for watch youtube videos for 5 hours. He purposefully sits outside alone away from the marketing team to do so.

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