Weekday Misery, Weekend Pleasure

Since starting The Simple Dollar, friends and family and neighbors have started coming to me regularly to chat about money issues. Most of the time, the questions are pretty simple and the answers come quickly. What intrigues me about these conversations, though, are the little things that people say that reveal bigger truths about their experiences with money.

One refrain that always seems to come up is what I like to call “weekday misery, weekend pleasure.” To put it simply, quite a few people who speak to me hate their job. They absolutely loathe it. Yet, because the job pays substantially better than anything else available to them, they stick with it.

This creates a lot of misery in their lives, and they find various ways to placate that misery. Quite often, this involves “playing hard” on the weekends – going on entertaining day trips, engaging in expensive hobbies, and ending both days with a significant party. It also often means “softening the blow” of the day by doing things like going out for breakfast before work.

I’ll take one person in particular – I’ll call him Ralph. Ralph’s education ended with a high school diploma, so to a degree, Ralph’s opportunities were limited. Ralph had a slightly-more-than-minimum-wage job that he really enjoyed. The work was enjoyable and fulfilling, the workers were friends both on the job and off, there were plenty of overtime opportunities, and the employer was very flexible with time off when it was needed.

Yet Ralph eventually applied for a much higher paying job. He went from earning about $9 an hour to earning about $22 an hour. At the same time, though, Ralph gave up work that he loved and a lot of time spent with friends. He gave up a lot of schedule flexibility. He gave up overtime opportunities, too. Even worse, the new work was terrible – it basically left him feeling depressed and empty most of the time.

The only benefit? More income. Yet it wasn’t as much of a boost as he expected. During a normal week, his paycheck roughly doubled, but at his previous job, he would often spend his evenings working overtime with his friends, meaning his old paychecks were often not that much lower than his new paychecks.

Another problem came up: his new work environment was filled with people who were talking all the time about the stuff they were buying. At his old job, most of the people there were happy just to make the bills and have a $20 in their pocket. At the new job, everyone had expensive cell phones. Many of the workers had ATVs that they rode around on during the weekends. They all had shiny new cars, where at his old job, most of the people had rusty old trucks.

So he felt the need to upgrade so that he could “relate” better. Of course, this added greatly to the monthly bills.

At the same time, the new work made Ralph largely miserable, so he started doing expensive things on the weekends. He took up a handful of expensive hobbies – that’s what his new coworkers were doing – and went out on the town regularly on weekend nights.

In the end, Ralph wound up with a job he was less happy with and less money in his pocket than before.

Where can Ralph go from here? Here are five suggestions for you if you’re in a “weekday misery, weekend pleasure” situation like Ralph.

Get in touch with the work you would really enjoy. Ralph is lucky in that he already knows what he enjoys doing. Many people do not – they just know that their current job makes them unhappy. Invest the time to figure out what you’re passionate about. What do you really enjoy? Seek it out. You might also need to work on how to turn that passion into income.

Communicate with those around you. Tell your spouse about your burgeoning change of heart about your work. If you’re unmarried, talk to your closest friends or your parents. Talk through both sides of the equation with them – making a change or staying where you’re at. Quit often, the people you care the most about – and who care the most about you – will have powerful insights that you didn’t consider.

Identify the places where you could cut spending in your life. One big challenge with making a move like this is figuring out where you could actually reduce your spending. Look for the big things you can cut. Also, look for the spending you’re doing that’s directly tied to your job (like clothes, stopping for food each day, doing things with coworkers, or “keeping up with the Joneses”). Another good place to cut is the “one time” things – things you can do once that cut your required spending over the long haul.

Build up an emergency fund. As the possibility of moving to a more fulfilling career position becomes more real to you, you need to build up an emergency fund to help you through the rough transition. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account every week, as much as you can muster. Doing this serves a secondary purpose, too: it convinces you to start making gentle cuts to your spending now.

Set a “target date.” This is the big one – it made my choice to “downshift” to a more personally meaningful job much easier. Select a date that you’re going to walk away from your painful job and make the big switch. Put that date front and center in your life – put up reminders all over the place. That date becomes a psychological lift – it makes you want to make the big push. Cutting back on things seems much easier than before. Building an emergency fund becomes fun rather than drudgery. Instead of burning your free time, you feel pushed towards using that time to pave the way for the transition, meaning you’re finding ways to save money instead of spending it. A target date can really ignite the kind of change you want to make in your life.

Remember, a little more money isn’t worth a lot more misery.

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49 thoughts on “Weekday Misery, Weekend Pleasure

  1. Baker @ Man Vs. Debt says:

    This is so true. My parents are a perfect example of this theory. They both make pretty decent money, but work high stressed jobs. They eat out 6 out of 7 days of the week, and are constantly taking trips to the casino and to shopping malls to help “release” from their work weeks.

    They aren’t ever going to miss the mortgage payment, but they are struggling with debt even with income into the 6 figures!

  2. sohotosoho says:

    I agree that “a little more money isn’t worth a lot of misery” but know many people who are in the LOT more money and lot more misery boat, which I think is harder to extricate yourself from. (And most of these “your high-paying job isn’t actually paying you that much” posts don’t bear out personal experience, to be honest). In my case I make a healthy six figures + bonus and have a lot of the benefits of such a job – much flexibility, respect, a good crew of staff, paid education, great healthcare, a very high savings & investment rate, etc – and despite often loathing the job am finding it almost impossible to walk away from.

  3. kainr2 says:

    Good advice. I do feel like it sometimes, where the work demand weeknight and weekend.

  4. Rob says:

    I love my job. Absolutly love it. My workers like me, my boss loves me. I spend 8 hours a day here. I strongly believe half of lifes battle is waking up, and wanting to go to work. If you dont like your job, whats the point? Dont get me wrong, if I was layed off, I would take anything. But I would always be looking.

  5. Johanna says:

    I’m lucky, I guess. When I went from a job I hated to a job I enjoy, I got a 50% pay *increase*. Unfortunately, I also had to move from a place I really enjoyed living to a place I don’t like nearly as much – but you can’t have everything, I guess. From my experience, I’d add the following to Trent’s advice:

    – Make sure you don’t have unrealistic expectations. Do you really, really hate your job, or does it just get you down sometimes? For some people, there might not be *any* career path that would fill you with such passion that you look forward to getting up in the morning to go to work, you don’t ever feel unhappy or disappointed about a situation at work, and you don’t ever feel the need to “decompress” on the weekends. And that’s OK. But only you can decide whether you can learn to be content with where you are, or whether you need to totally change direction.

    – It’s possible that the people you talk to won’t understand where you’re coming from. One of my friends that I talked to about my situation just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that my job wasn’t making me happy. She had a similar job, after all, and she was happy with it, so she couldn’t grasp that the same wasn’t true for me. So while it’s true that your friends and family may be able to help, but they may also tell you things that are not in your best interest, so be prepared for that.

    – In this economy, I would not advise anyone to quit their job without having another one – or a real, solid plan for getting another one – lined up already. So in that respect, the “target date” idea might not be the best one right now.

  6. Karen M says:

    Johanna (comment 4) is so right. Some people hate to work. They would not be fulfilled no matter what they did.

    I would not set a target date right now, either, unless you have something concrete lined up to take over your income. We moved due to DH’s job and I have not been able to find a job in our current town. I’d be very happy just to work, at this point.

    This is advice for a better economy.

  7. Trent says:

    A “target date” is simply for motivation – it creates a deadline of sorts to actually make it happen. Without that kind of deadline, it’s easy to procrastinate about making real change.

  8. Johanna says:

    Actually, Karen, that’s not quite what I meant. It may be true that some people hate to work regardless of what they’re doing, but I was referring more to the situation where you’re fulfilled overall, but you have to do stupid stuff that you hate sometimes, so you have unfulfilling days and unfulfilling weeks. Or where you like what you do, but there are still things you’d rather be doing. Trent’s repeated use of the word “passion” makes it sound like everybody should be searching for a job that makes them wildly ecstatic at all times. And I’m just not sure that that’s realistic for everyone.

  9. One of the things that is predicted to happen if and when we get universal health care in the U.S. is that a great deal of people will be able to afford to leave jobs they hate in favor of jobs where they perhaps make less money or don’t get benefits because the cost of getting basic health care coverage will be covered. In other words, there are too many people working at jobs they hate purely for the benefits, a large part of which is health care coverage. It will be nice when all that can change and people can pursue their dreams!

  10. Rachel says:

    I totally agree with this! It is sad how many people really are stuck in jobs they hate in order to have more money, but in reality- they have less!

  11. The Personal Finance Playbook says:

    I like my job – but it generates a lot of stress. I do lots of running around, managing a large caseload and dealing with the pressure of numerous deadlines. I like the job itself. I get a little rush out of trying cases, but I could do without the stress.

  12. michael says:

    Hey Trent. Your post came at a timely moment. I was just laid off. I have giant debt, bills, and no safety net. However, for at least a year, I’ve toyed with returning to school to change my life direction; perhaps teach. This is a blessing in disguise, I believe. I’m unmarried, and in a big city location where I think I have an advantage of at least gettings ^something^. I guess I should’ve sent this in an email, so feel free to follow up if you want more info.

    But, my question is,.. laid off, debt to the high heavens, and no safety net, and an idea to return to school. What would you do?

  13. Shakeahand says:

    My father, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, once said about work:

    “You’re either a mercenary, or you’re a whore.”

    The experience of Ralph at the higher pay scale brought my father’s quote to mind. My thinking is that you make a decision to raise your standard living and you make sacrafices, but there is nothing worth making yourself a whore — a slave to your job because you have no options.

    One way your friend may have looked at this is just a step toward a more relaxed life…giving himself 2 years at the job he hated to pay bills, get a savings buffer, and give him the opportunity to perhaps go back to job he loved, or a new job that he also loved. In any case, he’d be out of a job that he hated, he’d have some savings, and he’d be happy.

    In all circumstances, it is required of him to become a “monk” as my friends call me, and be frugal, and save like a squirrel in October.

    In short, sometimes in your career, you sell your talents for more than they’re worth, and sometimes your employer takes more of you than you can stand. Either way, be prepared to do what you need to.

  14. Saver Queen says:

    it’s a very interesting dilemma. What I find most interesting is that Ralph not only ended up working a job that he hated, he ultimately had LESS money.

    A recent episode of Till Debt Do Us Part showed a couple who made over $160,000 a year but yet found themselves $50,000 in debt (not including mortgage) and always behind on the bills. Making more money isn’t always the answer if you don’t know how to spend & save responsibly.

    I do think that people should seek out what brings them joy as there are often hidden opportunities for change, although I’d have to agree that today’s economic climate isn’t the best position to be making the change. (I can attest as I am job hunting right now.)

    Did anyone see this TED lecture – Mike Rowe questions the theory of “follow your passion” http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/mike_rowe_celebrates_dirty_jobs.html
    This is a very interesting commentary on how we think about work.

  15. Karen M says:

    “Select a date that you’re going to walk away from your painful job and make the big switch.”

    This sounds like more than motivation to me. It sounds like a plan. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying be realistic.

    And Johanna, I apologize for taking your comments in the wrong light. I do understand that some people have to do things they “hate” or feel are not part of their job, but do not “hate” the job overall. Sometimes we all have to do our job, regardless of whether it is our “passion.”

  16. Inne says:

    Dear Trent,

    I’m a first time visitor and like your blog. I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so forgive me when I’m repeating someone.

    Your story reminds me of the book called “Hacker Ethic” by Pekka Himanen

    “Later in 2001, Finnish philosopher Pekka Himanen promoted the hacker ethic in opposition to the Protestant work ethic. In Himanen’s opinion the hacker ethic is more closely related to the virtue ethics found in the writings of Plato and of Aristotle. For Himanen (who wrote The Hacker Ethic), Torvalds (prologue), and Castells (epilogue), the hacker ethic centers around passion, hard work, creativity and joy in creating software.”

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic)
    (http://www.amazon.com/Hacker-Ethic-Pekka-Himanen/dp/037575878X)

    The book writes about the idea we used to have (or still have) that living today is split in the working week when ‘we obey a boss and live in a world we don’t believe in’ and weekends (or better: sundays) when ‘we are free and can taste life in heaven for a moment’. Computer hackers are able to build the world they want to live in with their work and so for them work is ‘making heaven on earth now’. Guess why they are so hard to manage ;-)

    I think nowadays we are more able to do the same. Just let go of the strings that keep you bound to thingd you don’t believe in and make new ones to the things you love. I certainly can’t do it alone and it will take me quite some time. But together and thanks to blogs like these it will be easier and much more fun to do!

    Best wishes, Inne

  17. SP says:

    It is really a balance, I think. Your end goal should be to create the life that makes you most fulfilled.

    To do that, you can’t work a job you hate, but I agree with Johanna that it doesn’t mean you have to quit a job you don’t leap out of bed for in order to pursue your “passion”.

    Also… Like most people… I love doing fun stuff on the weekends! Trying new things, going new places, and even an occasional party. I don’t see this as a result of my work week, nor as some sort of flaw that needs to be cured (unless the spending was out of line), but just a part of creating overall fulfillment in my life.

    (or maybe I’m just supposed to have kids and marvel at them all day?)

  18. dream says:

    There is a case to be made for staying with a job you hate until you are in a position to transfer into another. I am someone who has started over with literally just my clothes on several occasions, but to be honest I was actually happier homeless and working full time for Greenpeace than I was working many other jobs. I’ve always felt you spend too much of your life at work to be miserable there and was almost 40 before I found a job I could stand and make enough to survive. Keep looking, it’s SO worth it!

  19. Michelle says:

    Ah, the trap of fitting in…Poor Ralph! Spending money to be like the coworkers is worse than trying to keep up with the neighbor Joneses, in my opinion. my dad said to me (literally on his deathbed) that he regretted not spending more time with my sister and I as children since he’d been so career-focused – he said, “don’t live to work, work to live.” The apology was heartbreaking, but the advice has been invaluable!

  20. BobV says:

    In the military, my job got increasingly stressful as I rose in rank. That said, the retirement was worth the stress and aggrevation. I now have a job I love, is fun to go to work and the money is the least important of the benefits. It makes up enough for me to enjoy my life with.

  21. You never get something for nothing– when you get a big paycheck, “they” take their pound of flesh from you . . .

    Your advice is solid– find something you like . . .

  22. Kari says:

    I did a job I hated for 6 years, but I used it as an opportunity to pay off my credit cards and get some money saved.

    Since I felt so out of place all the time (I’m a pretty shy person and somehow landed in a well-paying job in sales) I knew it wasn’t going to be forever that I would do the job so I just determined that I was going to live within my means.

    I would say if you hate your job, but are making a good salary, save, save, save and do the job as long as you can stand it. Then when the day inevitably comes that you decide to leave or a layoff comes or something happens, you can look back and have no regrets.

  23. Shelly says:

    I think the general concept here is great — it’s so important that you find something that makes you happy — but at the same time, it’s also important that people are realistic. Until the economy recovers, there just aren’t enough jobs to go around.

    I guess what I’m saying is sure, set a date to motivate you to be ready, but if there aren’t any good jobs out there at that point, don’t become discouraged.

    My husband and I ran into one of his former co-workers last night (my husband was laid off in October). The co-worker told him that the job has become downright miserable in the past few months and he’d love to leave, but he’s been searching around for jobs for the past few months and has found nothing, let alone something he might love. He’s taken steps to prepare himself for a transition yet can’t because the opportunity just isn’t there.

    At this point, some of us just have to be happy we have paychecks.

  24. guinness416 says:

    I’m uncomfortable with the notion that anyone working a job they don’t like is funding casino trips and expensive hobbies.

    For me to give up my job, which I occasionally loathe and am certainly not “passionate” about, for something less lucrative would not mean giving up boozy friday nights; it would mean giving up a 30% savings/investment rate, the financial support we give my mother-in-law, multiple trips a year home to see my family, and the great benefits I have. Those are not trivial things so it’s way too easy to do the “if I stay 3/4/5 more years I’ll have X!” calculations and stay where you are. It’s tricky.

    And at the salary level I and my friends are at the idea that your better-paying job is costing you more isn’t true.

  25. adrian says:

    >>I’m uncomfortable with the notion that anyone >>working a job they don’t like is funding casino >>trips and expensive hobbies.

    Exactly. Another example of a post where once we get past all the “great article, Trent!” posts (with links to the posters’ own personal finance blogs, of course), we get some serious reflections on the practicalities of Trent’s advice.

    When you have a family with only one person able to work, and 3 kids, the one person who’s able to work doesn’t always have the luxury of “making life changes to go with their passion”. I’ve heard all this before, sorry.

  26. Jill says:

    The sad truth is that there are plenty of LOW-PAYING jobs out there as well that are no fun at all, stressful and demanding of one’s time! If one doesn’t have much of a financial cushion or another income in the house, one just has to try to be as grateful as possible for at least HAVING a paycheck, and at the same time continue to look for something better.

  27. Debbie M says:

    I’m with #16 & #17. There are lots of things to like about my job, but I’m getting dangerously impatient about certain issues because I am just so sick to death of dealing with them. The amount of extra money I spend to deal with my stress is very, very little–I spend $2 – $10 extra each week on fast food and junk food. I do make sure to have fun every weekday and every weekend, but it’s mostly free fun (library books, board games, blogging, going to parties, trying new recipes).

    My job pays okay but has an awesome pension for which I will be qualified in 5 years, 9 months, and 1 week (yes, of course I’m counting). I am also maxing out my Roth IRA and adding more to my Roth 403b, but there is no way I could retire in less than 12 years using only my own money.

    There aren’t many other jobs I’d like, either, and those pay half as much, plus they’d probably be afraid to hire me because I look overqualified. Fun side businesses I could create for myself would pay almost nothing at first and maybe forever, though I do like the idea and am looking into ways to diversify my income stream, as you would also recommend. But I suspect it would be wiser to find ways to regain my perspective and rebuild my patience patience levels and not let this job drive me so nutso.

  28. kz says:

    @Johanna – I wholeheartedly agree, and am one of those people. I do not shun working (i.e. it’s not a laziness thing), but I love being with my husband, puttering in the garden, running, biking, reading, etc. No job will fulfill me in that way. I’m okay with that. And I know some people would say, “Oh, just figure out a way to make money doing what you love,” but (a) that’s not that easy, and (b) I would probably not ‘love’ it as much if I were financially tied to it.

    While I’m not miserable at my job, I’d give it up in a heartbeat if I were able. My husband feels the same way. And we work toward the goal of financial freedom every day.

  29. PJA says:

    One evening, as Diogenes sat in the doorway of his simple house, washing lentils he was going to eat for dinner when Aristippus — happened by. Aristippus made a very comfortable living hanging around the court and flattering the king. Kings like that, so he was always invited to dinner and given lavish presents. Seeing what Diogenes was doing, Aristippus said rather disdainfully “You know, if you could just learn to flatter the king, you wouldn’t have to eat lentils.”

    Diogenes looked up and smiled. “You know”, he said, “if you could just learn to eat lentils, you wouldn’t have to flatter the king.”

  30. Battra92 says:

    I like my job. I don’t love it and I’m not married to it, but I like it. I don’t like going and I enjoy leaving but the time in-between is just fine.

    Part of me is a bit lazy, that I openly confess. The other part of me is an artist who would much rather spend his time taking photographs, drawing or sketching.

    So how do I balance it? Well since I’m not leaving the high paying job anytime soon I just enjoy my time off with vacations and such and I get out doing as much photography and artwork as possible. My one hour lunch break is time spent reading books on photography or drawing or thinking of new ideas. After work I sometimes will go out with my camera taking various shots.

    Film is cheap so if I don’t get into vintage Camera collector mode (which happens from time to time) I’m not so bad off.

  31. Oskar says:

    I am thinking about this right now, I am in a well payed job that is not really a passion but also not a pain to go to, most days are fun but some are less so. However I have been thinking of going into another line of work that I am sure would bring me more joy but also its own set of problems (grass isn’t always greener). Also this other line of work would most likely mean a pay cut of 20-40%. I have not decided what to do yet but until I do I have decided to save the ‘extra money’ that I make from my current job so that when I make the decision money doesn’t have to be the deciding factor.

  32. Jo says:

    This is my first time commenting, but I find myself in exactly this situation. I have a plan to go back to school in a year and am biding my time at my current job. But even with that end date in mind, it is still hard to come in to work and deal with hating the majority of my job. It is an awful time to look for new work, but it is the perfect time to consider going to school or explore career options–by the time you’re ready to make a move the economy will have recovered somewhat.

  33. getagrip says:

    I’m wondering if “Ralph” really hates his new job so much as he both misses the people he hung out with at his old job and doesn’t really like the people he’s hanging out with at his new job. It seems to me that based on his trying to fit in, it may all be less about the actual work than it is about the social interactions.

    As people we nearly always tend to look back at things with rose colored glasses. The good ol’ days often weren’t so good as people like to reminisce about (hence why he may have jumped at the chance to make more money) but that doesn’t stop us from thinking they were (his focus on the people and activities).

    My point is that the people you work with can really influence your perception of the job for good or ill, and if you go forward you need to be careful of glorifying positions you left behind because of social considerations if what you have isn’t as fullfilling. Ralph may quickly find if he goes back to lower paying line of work that it isn’t as much fun as it used to be if the same work buddies aren’t still there.

  34. Beth says:

    to Michael comment #10, I’ve heard the government gives everyone who is unemployeed 5000 a year to go back to schoool for 2 years. So if you were thinking about going back, the extra money could soften the blow. And if you start networking at the school you may find on campus jobs or extra work from teachers and your new classmates to help with your debt load. It never hurts to investigate possibilities!

  35. Sean C says:

    I’m sure you mean “Quite Often” not “Quit Often” :)

  36. Greg Smith says:

    I’ve done everything else here on the list, execpt figure out how to turn a passion into a income. That seems to be a lot easier say than to do.

  37. Connie says:

    I agree with GetAGrip on Ralph going back to his old job and things don’t seem the way they used to be. I’ve been in a work situation where folks around me would spend excess and thought I was cheap but they are the same folks that are so stressed right now with loads of debt, foreclosed homes, etc. These folks are amazed that I am so calm despite the economy and I explain to them that I save money all the time and only buy what I need with one income and spend/save the rest with spouse’s income.

  38. John Frainee says:

    So right. People get stuck in a rut. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there that think that more money is better. What they don’t realize is that it is not about money, it’s about lifestyle. A person’s lifestyle needs to be considered above level of income. Thank you for providing an excellent blog on financial concepts. I think your readers also might be interested in my blog at http://www.plaincents.com. Take care.

  39. Carrie says:

    Not everyone uses spending as stress relief. Whenever I got stressed out at my last job from hell, I’d find a way to send another $100 to Vanguard. Those $100 bits added up quickly.

  40. Carrie says:

    Also, I find talking to other people to be a bit overrated. From my experience, the people closest to me were the ones who gave me the worst advice. My parents were the ones who said to always take the career that paid the most and that choosing a career based on passions or interests is irresponsible. They also told me to spend all my money and forget about investing. Good thing I didn’t listen to them. My best decisions come when I trust my own counsel and shut out the voices of people who project their own beliefs, fears, and agendas on the advice they give.

  41. Nicola says:

    I do think this word ‘passion’ has become a bit of a cliche. Why not just say we enjoy
    gardening/painting/yoga why do we have to be ‘passionate’ about it? Turning a ‘passion’ into a career is also (I think) a way of guaranteeing that you will start to hate the thing you once loved because once you are doing it for money a whole load of other factors come into play. Sorry to sound so negative but I’m really not sure about this advice.

  42. Nancy says:

    Sad to say, but I am staying at my job where I make more money than my parents ever dreamed of (and without a college education), living for the weekends. BUT, I am doing this because I can afford to max out my 401(k) (with a generous company match) and my Roth IRA every year and retire earlier. Not retire and not work, but retire from this field and do something I love.

  43. cookie says:

    As a Canadian, I am curious as to how Americans’ employer-paid health benefits fit into your decision to take or leave a particular job. I have heard stories about people needing to stay in jobs they hate because they or their family members need the coverage. Is this true?

  44. Georgia says:

    Perhaps I look at this from a different point of view. I will be 72 tomorrow and I have worked at many, many jobs over the years. I have always loved the vast majority of them – waitress, shoe factory, 3 ins. companies, federal and state jobs, worked in and ran a Savings and Loan, home health aide, and worked for 18 years in a maximum security mental health facility for the criminally insane.

    You see, I am very lazy and I do not like to feel bad. So, no matter the job, when I start it I begin looking for things to love about my job – the people, the detail work, whatever. If I do not like my job, who suffers? ME!! And I do not intend to suffer. This has been a successful ploy for me. I started working at age 14 and retired at almost 69. Went back to work for 7 months after my husband died. Am now going to school to try to finish my degree in Accounting.
    Positive thinking, if it is proactive, is a very powerful weapon. Try it sometime.

  45. Strick says:

    Nancy – unless “retire early” means at 35 and not 58 like most folks mean, I don’t get the point of what you’re doing. Because your view of retirement is to continue working, just do it.

    Lack of food, clothes, medicine, or a safe place to live is more miserable than a bad job, but thats about it, and I’d bet you can cover those things with the work you love.

  46. Four Pillars says:

    I think this is a load of crap – just because someone doesn’t like their job (it’s called work for a reason) isn’t an excuse for self-destructive financial behaviour. Most of us have had low paying jobs at some point that we enjoyed probably because we were young and didn’t have many financial responsibilities and worked with other young people we could be friends with.

    “Ralph” needs to stop defining his life by his work and get on with living.

  47. RB says:

    Setting the target date. That’s the one thing I haven’t done. I must get out….

  48. ad says:

    I don’t understand why Ralph needed to “upgrade.”

    I work in an office of mostly middle class folks, most of who drive new cars, have cable TV, new cell phones, etc. I don’t have any of that, even though my husband and I could easily afford it.

    Can’t Ralph choose for himself, instead of keeping up appearances and buying things he didn’t want before everyone else had them?

  49. Kodiak says:

    This is an interesting article and I have enjoyed all of the comments. It is important to note that this is general advice and is presented as such. Many people have questioned Trent’s advice and validly so. But in this article Trent has given you the respect of believing you can think for yourself and apply the “general” advice as you find it applicable to your life. So picking his comments apart is not entirely productive as there are so many individual situations this can be applied to that any comment could be proven invalid. (By the way this is my first time here and I am in no way a Trent or Simpledollar Fanboy.)

    With all of that said I have flip flopped between the idea that work does not have to be fulfilling and is called work for a reason. And the idea that work shouldn’t be a daily burden and you should follow your passion/dreams/heart. To date I have chased the dollar and been relatively succesfull to that end. I made a six figure income in less than four years after college in an area where the median household income is $38k. So far it has brought me little fullfillment and happiness. It has given me some comfort since the company I worked for went out of business and I have the financial stability to not lose everything while I figure out what to do next. Although I have never lived paycheck to paycheck even living on $600/month in college, live within your means and spend/save wisely! I am currently struggling with the idea of a career change or going back to the drudgery that has provided my current financial security. Since I do not know yet what I want to be when I grow up (or what my “passion” is) I am working to change my perspective and modify some of the small things that I think will make my current career more bearable.

    I think this is all about finding a balance for your particular situation. The percentage of people that do what they love and make big dollars at it is small. I also still think those people have bad days/weeks/months at work. So keep that in mind and remember your decision needs to be a balance of what is important to you and your life. Not what everyone tells you it should be. Best of luck to you all!

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