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 a student, have a disability, doing heavy manual labor, or are under-employed. 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. Don’t let anybody else tell you to work harder. Practice quiet quitting if you want to.
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. Besides, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I had at least 50-60 hours a week of energy to work. Trust me, your energy will fade eventually and you will have wished you did more while you were younger.
One of the core principles of Financial Samurai is this: Never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill.
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week
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 and had produced an award-winning podcast on living unconventional lives. He also got a book deal with the same publisher for my bestselling personal finance book. I’m actually blown away by his success and consistency for the past 10+ years!
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week
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.
Below is the average number of hours worked per week in the U.S. Talk about living the dream!
Data point #6 On Working 40 Hours A Week Or Less
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week Or Less
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 On Working 40 Hours A Week Or Less
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. Even the elites are on strike, despite having prestige, status, and power.
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?
Data point #8 On Working 40 Hours A Week Or Less
Finally, let me update this post and share my own example. When the pandemic started, I told myself that I might as well try and make more money online given we were locked down. As a result, I spent many more hours a week writing and doing business development on Financial Samurai.
However, I no longer want to work 40 hours a week trying to make money online. This pandemic has truly beaten me up mentally and physically as a father of two young children.
I would love to earn more money and work less than 40 hours a week so I can spend more time with my children. I’m considering going back to work since people are making more money and more people get to work from home.
However, since I’ve been used to total freedom since I left finance in 2012, I don’t want to work for someone anymore. Instead, I’ll just focus on building up more passive retirement income. Therefore, I’ve got to learn to be satisfied with what we’ve got.
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 the POTUS 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.
Working 40 Hours A Week Is 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.
Many Countries Have Employees Working Much Longer Hours
Just look at this chart of the percent of workers working 60 or more hours per week at their main job in various countries. Notice how U.S. workers are in the bottom half of countries with workers working 60 or more hours per week in their main job.
I had originally wrote this post before I had retired. Now that I’m 10+ years into retirement, I finally see the joys of slacking off.
I’ve only been “working” ~20 hours a week on average since I left work in 2012. But I jacked up my work hours to 35-40 hours a week during the lockdowns because I figured I might as well make money.
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, 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 after an exhausting couple years during the pandemic.
Maybe, soon, we really do deserve to get ahead while working 40 hours a week or less!
Negotiate A Severance And Leave If You’re Miserable
In 2012, I negotiated a six-figure severance package worth six years of living expenses. It was my catalyst to break free from Corporate America for good. I didn’t want to deal with a micromanager anymore. As an employee, you have more power than you think.
If you quit your job, you forfeit your right to a severance, to unemployment benefits, and to COBRA healthcare. Check out my book, How To Engineer Your Layoff. It will teach you how to leave your job with potentially money in your pocket.
It’s the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies. The book has been extensively revised multiple times to incorporate more case studies and feedback.
Use the code “savefive” to save $5. Or, pre-order/purchase four copies of my new book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom, e-mail me proof of purchase at sales AT financialsamurai DOT com, and I’ll send you How To Engineer Your Layoff For Free.
Invest In Real Estate For Passive Income If You Want To Work Less
If you’re sick of working so many hours, then you should invest in real estate for passive income. Let real estate do the heavy lifting for you so you don’t have to work as hard. Real estate is my favorite way to achieving financial freedom because it is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income.
By the time I was 30, I had bought two properties in San Francisco and one property in Lake Tahoe. These properties generated enough income to help me escape work in 2012.
Then in 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up.
Take a look at my two favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms. Both are free to sign up and explore.
Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private eFunds. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and has consistently generated steady returns, no matter what the stock market is doing. For most people, investing in a diversified eREIT is the way to go.
CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. If you have more capital, you can build you own diversified real estate portfolio.
Start Your Own Business / Website
If you feel you’re not getting paid what you’re worth and want to boost your income, start your own business online on the side! It used to cost a fortune and a lot of employees to start your business. Now you can start it for next to nothing.
Brand yourself online, connect with like-minded people, find new consulting gigs, and potentially make a good amount of income online one day by selling your product or recommending other great products.
Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009. Here’s my step-by-step guide to for how to start your own website like mine in under 30 minutes.
Just know that at least in the beginning, running your own business will require way more than 40 hours a week to get ahead. The good thing is, you’ll enjoy the work more because it’s yours!
Manage Your Finances In One Place
Finally, get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. It is a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place. The more you can track your finances, the better you can optimize.
Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing. I can also check how my net worth is progressing.
The best feature is their free 401K Fee Analyzer. It is now saving me over $1,700 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying! They also launched their amazing Retirement Planning Calculator. It uses your real data to give you great insights into your financial future.
Personal Capital takes less than one minute to sign up and it’s free.
Read The Best Book On Becoming Rich, Happy, And Free
If you want to read the best book on achieving financial freedom sooner, check out Buy This, Not That: How to Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. BTNT is jam-packed with all my insights after spending 30 years working in, studying, and writing about personal finance.
Building wealth is only a part of the equation. Consistently making optimal decisions on some of life’s biggest dilemmas is the other. My book helps you minimize regret and live a more purposeful life as you build more passive income.
BTNT will be the best personal finance book you will ever read. You can buy a copy on Amazon today. The richest people in the world are always reading and always learning new things. Learn from those who are already where you want to go.
The funny thing about the pandemic is that some who’ve been able to work from home are able to work less and still get paid the same. Now that’s working smarter! Just make sure your company doesn’t catch you slacking off too much! Related post: In Search For The 2-Hour Work Day While Getting Paid Full Time
Financial Samurai says
For those reading; here’s a good counterpoint about NOT making $400,000 a year if you want to be happy.
Ian Newsome says
For an attempt at satire, this is amusing. Your inability to empathize with the individuals you target and attempt to shame is underwhelming. You undercut yourself by making it very clear that you are thoroughly out of touch with the modern working world.
I am glad your very unique and luck-driven situation worked out for you! You know, though, I’d love to hear more about the folks who are already working 80+ hours a week, branding themselves online, and for some silly reason still aren’t wealthy despite doing everything you mention and more. What gives, huh? I guess they’re all just lazy.
You really should proofread your writing, by the way. Thanks for the chuckle!
Financial Samurai says
I appreciate the comment. Given English is my second language and I don’t have the luxury of an editor, I will endeavor to continue doing my best. I also welcome readers who can point out grammatical errors so I can easily fix them.
Probably one of the reasons why I’m out of touch with the modern working world is because I haven’t had a day job since 2012. I left after negotiating a severance and deciding I no longer wanted to pursue the money. But my friends who do work seem to be having a lot more flexibility post pandemic.
I don’t think people are lazy. I think some people are incongruent in desire and action. Nobody is going to save us. We must save ourselves. Feel free to share something about yourself.
Related: Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working A Minimum Wage Service Job As An Adult
I’m a pro-capitalism, fiscally conservative, libertarian minded individual who firmly believes in hard work…. and this article made me cringe so hard. This sounds like bad advice aimed at people who think they can grind their youth away for an employer and become the next wolf of Wallstreet.
First rule of working for a big employer: they absolutely do NOT care about you or what you do for them. If you want to grind your life away 70 hours a week for them they’ll let you and “reward” you with small raises until you get an offer elsewhere and force them to give you a real raise. If you want to work a reasonable 40-45 hours they probably won’t even notice, but will hold it against you for those tiny raises, which you can mitigate by leaving for a big ass raise from a different employer.
Lastly, you mock the guy who’s swimming in France and then later mention that some of your “work” is golfing and lunching with clients like that’s real work. If my job (engineering) allowed me to play games and eat in restaurants on the clock I’d probably enjoy 60 hour weeks too.
Financial Samurai says
The point of this article is encourage congruency with desire and effort.
If you want to make more money, you likely need to work harder and smarter.
If you don’t want to make more money, then be happy with what you got and don’t complain.
Personally, I quit the desire to earn maximum money in 2012. I gave up the money at age 34 for more freedom. Therefore, I’m not going to whine about not making more if I don’t put in the effort.