There 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 the complaining if you are retired, a student, have a disability, doing heavy manual labor, 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. Working 40 hours a week or less is also great if you are 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 at least 50 hours of work energy in me a week at the age of 43. Might as well utilize it before it fades, because I used to have 80 hours of work energy in my 20s!
Folks Who Complain Why They Can’t Get Ahead While Working So Little
Here are a number of data points from people who are complaining about needing to work 40 hours a week.
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 nine hours and taking an hour long lunch break? Sign me up! In equities banking, we lowly analyst had to get in at 5:30 am to run errands and print out research for our traders, and then stay until at least 7:30 pm!
Data point #2
For some reason, my article “How Much Do The Top Income Earners Make By Percentage?” continues to get random commenters (1,200+ 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 info-products 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!
The blogger is in his 40s now, still lives with his parents, but has finally taking hard work to heart and is producing a pretty good podcast on living unconventional lives.
At least he’s done something great by starting something creative. I highly recommend everyone start their own website and brand themselves online. Get rich off yourself. Don’t let Facebook and Twitter get rich off you!
Not a day goes by where I’m not glad I didn’t start Financial Samurai in 2009. Partially due to having something to look forward to, I was able to negotiate a severance in 2012 to build this site. Financial Samurai now makes a healthy amount of supplemental retirement income along with my other passive income streams.
Data point #5
There were four 20-something year olds just lounging in these recliners at Starbucks, surfing the web, and doing absolutely nothing but goof off for the entire 1.5 hours I was meeting up with a client. This was midday on a Wednesday.
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 $120,000 at 22 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.
Data point #6
After publishing the post, Are You Too Proud to Be Rich?, a lot of people complained in the comments section they don’t have the capacity to side hustle to make extra money. It’s as if once the clock strikes 5 pm, no more work can be done.
Meanwhile, I just wrote that all these first generation immigrants side-hustling and making more than these private school graduate Uber employees! Why wouldn’t you want to start your own website to try and leverage the internet to make more money? There are millions of people out there who are making extra money via the gig economy and online.
Data point #7
In an open letter to her CEO, 24 year old Talia wrote, “I was told I’d have to work in support for an entire year before I would be able to move to a different department. A whole year answering calls and talking to customers just for the hope that someday I’d be able to make memes and twitter jokes about food.” WTF. Since when was working an “entire year” so bad before getting a promotion?
Data point #8
Bo, a Creative Writing/English major from University of Colorado said he and other people were crying at their desks constantly while working for Amazon, according to a New York Times article.
Bo lasted for 1 year, 10 months at his book marketing role so he could do something more special, like work at a startup called Yessler. He lasted for 1 year and 6 months before moving to Microsoft, where he’s been there for 8 months. Will he ever be able to last for two years at one place? Or will things just be too hard on him?
Do People Really Work Less Than 40 Hours A Week And Complain?
Are there really people out there who only work 40 hours or less a week and complain why they can’t get ahead or make enough money? That’s like slacking off in school and expecting to go straight to the corner office. Ain’t gonna happen.
I don’t think I’ve ever worked less than 40 hours a week when I was still working a day job and healthy. Day job work is around 55-60 hours a week and online work is another 20 hours of side hustle work 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 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.
Two Ways To Get Ahead
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 or President Trump works only 40 hours a week? Hell no! They regularly work 60-70 hours a week and are on call 24-7. Do you think Fake News King 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 all know that.
Stop being so lazy and abolish welfare mentality! We’ve got an immigrant janitor here in San Francisco who makes $271,000 a year due to working tons of overtime. He’s not alone either! His elevator/escalator technician makes $284,000 a year due to working way more than 40 hours a week as well. He’s not alone either! Managers at In N’ Out Burger earn on average $160,000 a year without a college degree.
The list goes on and on about people who work more than 40 hours a week in regular jobs and make handsome six-figure salaries.
40 Hours A Walk In The Park
If you can work 40 hours a week and be satisfied with what you have, more power to you. 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 2021: Now that I’m 9+ years into retirement, I finally see the joys of slacking off. I’ve only been working ~25 hours a week on this site since I retired in 2012. The pandemic has beaten me up. I’m tired as a stay at home dad with two kids. As a result, I’m returning to early retirement life once I get vaccinated or once taxes are raised.
Trust me, you won’t regret the effort you put in when you were younger. Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful to be able to spend every day taking care of my family, instead of having to commute to an office and work at a job that I don’t love.
With Joe Biden as President in 2021, more of us should be able to relax given taxes will be going up to pay for a bigger safety net. I’m ready to take it down a notch again!
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