apple watch photo

50 Hour Work Weeks? Not Even Close to Worth it.

How many of you work in a corporate office that has a culture where getting ahead requires “playing the game” You know what I’m talking about right? Keeping up appearances. Showing up early. Working late. Regardless of the actual amount of work done, you need to put in the time, be there, and appear busy.

There are probably some corporate soldiers out there that are happy to burn the midnight oil out of pure altruism motivated by nothing other than the success of the company. But I suspect most are putting in the hours only to boost appearances and their chances at a better merit increase, bonus, or hopes or promotion. But here’s my question: “Is it worth it?” Let’s analyze the return on this time investment.

Imagine you’re working a corporate job with a respectable middle of the road salary. In this case, let’s say you’re a bit above the median income and that you make $65,000. Employers typically have an annual performance review process, and in the end, you’re rewarded with a merit increase for your diligent efforts. A true meritocracy. Or is it?

If you’re a fairly low-effort mediocre employee, as long as you don’t attract too much negative attention to yourself, you’re still likely to earn around a 2.5% merit increase every year

I’ve worked in HR and seen some of the politics behind performance review scores and how they align to merit increases. As an HR professional, I’ll let you in on a little secret.

If you’re a fairly low-effort mediocre employee, as long as you don’t attract too much negative attention to yourself, you’re still likely to earn around a 2.5% merit increase every year. Now, this isn’t a fantastic merit increase, and with increasing benefit costs and inflation, you might not even be breaking even. So it makes sense to put in more effort in hopes of getting a better merit increase right?

Well, how much better? Based on this graph from, you would have to be in the top 4 percentile to exceed a 5% increase. For your extra hours and effort, you’re going to have a chance at a 5% merit increase. Of course, there are exceptions out there, but this is what the data is showing on average.

If we figure that Joe slacker can achieve a 2.5% annual merit increase, then our dedicated corporate worker bee that grinds away tirelessly all year long and squeezes out a 5% merit increase achieves a marginal increase ?2.5% over Joe Slacker.

So while it’s not guaranteed, our dedicated worker has a decent chance at a 5% merit increase which has is a 2.5% marginal improvement over our hypothetical slacker.

Let’s do some granular analysis over what our dedicated worker is contributing and what he’s getting in return.

The Effort

So let’s do a bit of speculation on what is likely required to achieve this marginal 2.5%. You’re going to need to be a dedicated hard working employee that not only does his job very well but also presents as a hard-working dedicated employee. It’s not enough to be a great worker and do your job well.? ?Many of us could wrap up our duties and do a bit extra and from time to time be able to take off at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. But how does this present to the boss and your coworkers?

Even if you’ve completed all your work, you need to stay and appear busy. No one wants to be the first to call it a day.? In short, you’re going to need to put in more hours and face time.

The joys of the busy commute.
Over the course of a year, that’s about 318 extra hours of work or time that isn’t your own personal free time.? At least you can listen to a podcast during your commute.

But how much?? Well assuming that our diligent worker bee takes a one week vacation once a year, he’ll be working 255 days a year.? Joe Slacker is putting in his 8 hours, and then he’s out the door. But our over-achiever is more likely to come in 30 minutes earlier than Joe Slacker. And he’s likely to stay another 45 minutes later at the end of the day grinding out spreadsheets or sifting through email or just looking busy. He’s donating an extra 1.25 hours of his day towards the cause of excellence and a better merit increase. That’s about 318 additional hours of “work”.

The Payoff

This extra effort and time aren’t for naught (hopefully) and our faithful, dedicated employee is likely to earn a higher merit increase.? So back to our corporate employee. He started at $65,000 for an annual salary. Joe slacker did also and got bumped up an additional 2.5% and now is at $66,625. But our high effort employee got a 5% increase and is now sitting at $68,250.

For the extra efforts of 318 hours of above and beyond office work, our dedicated employee yields an extra $1,625 per year before taxes.? ?This amounts to working these hours for $5.11/hour before tax.

For the extra efforts of 318 hours of above and beyond office work, our dedicated employee yields an extra $1,625 per year before taxes. This amounts to working these hours for $5.11/hour before tax. After-tax, it’s likely a bit under $4/hour. But is it worth it to hand over your personal time for under minimum wage? If you stay with a company for many years eventually these merit increases start to compound but it’s something worth considering.

It might be time to instead consider freelancing or starting up a business? In my opinion, you’d be better off just picking up a side hustle or doing some freelance for just a few hours a week. This also puts you in a better situation should you ever get downsized. I’m just saying.

7 Signs You Don’t Belong in an Office

Now you might argue that maybe no humans truly belong in an office. I’m not sure our bodies were designed to sit and stare at screens for eight hours a day. Nevertheless, some people do seem to thrive in the cubicle culture. But for some of us, it seems to go against every fiber of our being, that we simply don’t belong in the 9 to 5. Here are seven signs that you don’t belong in the traditional 9 to 5 office.

1. You are Nocturnal

You seem to come alive in the late evening, brimming with ideas and creativity. Going to bed at anything earlier than 11:00 PM seems absurd to you and as such, waking up early is a grueling task. You can’t seem to understand the morning people that get up at 4 am and have already gone for a run, washed their car, and done a load of laundry before they get out the door at 6:30 am.

2. You Hate Office Politics

You’ve concluded that office politics just isn’t a game you want to play and realize this decision is limiting your career potential. Maybe it’s that you need to spend more time outside the office going to after work social hour. Perhaps it’s feigning an interest in corporate town hall meetings where the speaker drone on about corporate culture and synergy and leveraging but you know they aren’t really saying anything of meaning.

3. You Feel Like You Have No Time

It’s not an uncommon feeling. Most people might figure the work week consists of about 40 hours a week but it’s often more. If your lunch doesn’t count towards your hours, it could be closer to 45 hours. If you’re putting in extra hours, maybe it’s 50 to 60 hours of work.

But it doesn’t end there. Is your commute time really yours? Maybe let’s throw another 5 hours of your time out the window. Although is your morning prep time for work really your time? If you find yourself rushing to get showered, dressed, eat a quick breakfast and have coffee, gather your things and then head out, it doesn’t really seem like your time does it?

4. Having to Socialize with People You Didn’t Choose as Friends Doesn’t Appeal to You.

The workplace consists of people for better or for worse. And sometimes you have characters you work with that aren’t someone you would choose to spend time with if given a choice. But having a choice isn’t a luxury for office workers have.

If the idea of having to hear Bobby from accounting’s story about how they won a ping-pong tournament in 1992 for the 10th time makes you feel like leaving, it’s possible you’re not built to be an office socializer.

5. You Get a Strong Sense Your Work is Meaningless

You’ve dissected the way the team works and you have come to the conclusion that your job just exists to justify another head for your manager to manager. You’re running reports that no one is actually looking at. You find yourself filling out TPS reports that on the surface might seem to measure activity but you understand that the effort and time measuring the activity is just as big a waste of time as any potential efficiency that this could possibly provide.  In short, it’s a  house of cards that somehow seems to make enough money to keep people paid and stay in business.

6. You Feel Like Your Life is Just Running A Script Over and Over

Get up at the same time every day. Shower, get ready, and head out the door.  You head out for the same commute. Then you drive by the same places. You start to recognize some of the cars your sitting in traffic since it’s the same crowd patiently queing up to head to their offices.

Once you get to work the script continues to execute. Then you check your email. Run through the same tasks you did the day or week before. Say hi to the same people. You get the point. Essentially you are longing for a more dynamic life experience where each day doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of the day before it.

7.  You Are Noticing Your Health is Starting to Suffer

You sit in a car on the way to work.  You mostly sit all day in the office for 8 to 10 hours.  You sit on your commute home. You arrive at home tired without much energy and end up sitting on the couch to watch Netflix before retiring to bed. You’re certain that with more time you could make it to the gym, go for walks, and live a healthy lifestyle, but office work just doesn’t seem to be conducive to you being your best self.  The office is making you a bit sick.

What Can You Do?

It’s time to start making a plan to break free from office life. How can this be done? The Financial Independence movement has some great ideas. Here are a few ways to earn money outside the office that are worth checking out.

Leave the Country and Teach English

Start a Blog

Start Earning Money Writing

Teach English Online

More Strategies to Earn

Old man

3 Reasons Your Office Job is Killing You.

Have you ever taken a look at some of the folks that have hung around an office a bit too long and made it all the way to traditional retirement age?   It’s not always a pretty sight.  Maybe getting fired from your job is a blessing in disguise.   Work takes its toll.  Decades of sitting at a desk for 8 to 9 hours a day does things to your posture.  The endless motivational office sweets result in extra pounds.

Not good for the physique.  Let’s look at ways office life is slowly killing you.

Sitting all Day

You typical office job will have you at a desk for about 8 to 9 hours a day with maybe a few brief moments of activity for bathroom breaks or to go to a meeting.   Taking lunch is an option typically available, but these days a lot of office workers are too focused on “Being a Brand Ambassador” for the company and maintaining that image of not lifting your nose from the grindstone.   Setting aside the fact that this often isn’t worth it from a pay perspective, we also ought to consider the additional cost to our health.

Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” -Ghandi

Mayo Clinic reports risks from sitting include:

  • cardiovascular problems
  • obesity
  • posture problems

If you must continue to grind it out at the office, do everything you can to get up and walk around as much as possible.  Frequent breaks and trips to the restroom are a strategy.   Get out and walk during lunch.   Some coworkers and your boss could judge you but it’s your body and it’s your right and responsibility to move around and stay healthy.   What’s the worst that can happen?  They might fire you.  Well, you could file for unemployment.


Lack of exercise

It’s true that work doesn’t take up all your waking hours.  So we can all exercise after work right?   Well, work can take up more then you think.   While we might be at work for 8 to 9 hours, other work-related things are grabbing a bit more of our time.

  • From the time you wake up until you arrive at work, you’re typically spending your time in preparation of work.  Showering, shaving, making yourself pretty.   Getting in a quick breakfast if there’s time and then hitting the road to do battle with traffic in order to arrive at your palace of productivity.    The time required for this typically ranges from around 30 minutes to two hours for most of us.   It’s not so easy to squeeze in exercise during this time, but if you can you’ll be better off
  • After work ends, we’ve got the dreaded 5 o’clock traffic commute home which can range from 20 minutes to an hour for most.   After this, there’s some time for exercise but most will be ready to make or buy dinner.

Exercise isn’t impossible here but the point, I’m getting at is that we often dedicate around 10 to 11 hours a day towards doing our office job and then the few hours left before bed have left us needing some time to unwind, relax, or enjoy ourselves which makes exercise fall off the list of priorities.

The Office Diet

Looking around many offices, you’ll see….well…not the same levels of health you’ll find from swimsuits.   Different shapes and sizes and lumps right?    It’s mostly attributed to the office diet.   Quick lunches from fast food drive-throughs.   Bringing processed crappy food.   Snacking from vending machines.   And of course, the infamous office snacks that are typically brought:  Cake, muffins, chocolate, candies, etc etc.


So What to do?

How can we maintain good health while working in an office?   Well if you’ve recently been fired, this is at least something you can be happy about.  You’ll no longer be sitting down for eight hours a day letting the body fall apart.    Get out and exercise and move around.   Spend your days cooking healthy food and enjoying your day.   But for the rest of us.. here are just a few ideas.

Compression Socks

It could be time to consider some countermeasures.   Have you ever heard of compression socks?   Images of old men with socks pulled up to their knees come to mind.   Well, these socks are designed to basically be very tight and the pressure they exert on the lower legs improves blood pressure and prevents clouting while improving circulation around the body.  This is especially helpful if you’re having to sit for 8 hours a day.  They’re also great for if you’re traveling long distances by planes.   They actually don’t have to be styled like old man socks and professional runners wear them as well.  (This made me feel a bit less old about getting a pair..ohh shoot did I just tell people I own a pair..err).  Here’s what they look like and where to get a good priced pair at Amazon.

Take Walks

It kind of goes without saying, but put yourself first.   Without regard to what your company cultures likes, get up as often as feasible to walk around.  Walk on your lunch.   Hit the bathroom or go to meetings as much as your freedom allows.


Consider a standing desk.

These days companies are a bit more concerned about their employee’s health. (Or concerned about potential future backlash and lawsuits by neglecting health.) .  There is at least some chance your employer may provide you with a standing desk.   If they don’t there’s still the option of purchasing one for your home so at least you can do some computer work while standing.   Reasonable options exist.

Say “NO” to the Office Sweets

It takes willpower but the sugary snacks most offices promote to pick you up in the afternoon cost you in terms of weight gain and health decline.    Bring some healthy food to snack on instead.  It will improve your health and probably be better for your pocketbook as well.

Consider Freelancing

Consider freelancing as you move towards achieving FI.   There’s still money to be made from blogging also.  I’m three months into it and have generated a few hundred dollars so far.

60 Hour Weeks? Not Even CLOSE to Worth It.

How many of you work in a corporate office that has a culture where getting ahead requires “playing the game”? You know what I’m talking about right? Keeping up appearances. Showing up early; working late.

While there are probably some out there that are happy to burn the midnight oil out of pure altruistic goodwill towards the company cause, I suspect most are doing it simply to improve their chances at a higher merit increase or bonus. But here’s my question: “Is it worth it?”  Let’s do the math.

Imagine you’re working a corporate job with a respectable middle of the road salary.  Let’s say you make $65,000. Now once a year, employers typically have a performance review and at the end, you’re rewarded with a merit increase for your efforts that usually aligns somewhat with your performance review.

Whatever the final merit increase percentage you’re gifted, keep in mind that at least around one to two percent of the increase is being eaten up by inflation. Health insurance seems to increase at an exponential rate so perhaps at least another one percent of your increase might go twoards medical and insurance increases alone. But that’s a chat for another time.

Back to our $65,000 middle of the road employee.   

I come from the world of HR. I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you’re fairly low to moderate effort mediocre employee, as long as you don’t attract too much negative attention to yourself and keep your nose down, you’re still likely to earn around a 2.5% merit increase.

In reality, this so-called “merit increase” is more like an inflation cost of living adjustment, but the company calls it a merit increase because it sounds nicer. If most people realized the treadmill they were on it would probably not inspire much effort to continue.

Average merit increases

2018 Merit Increase distribution
2018 Merit Increase distributions

Now every company is not the same but based on this graph from, you would have to be in the top 4 percentile to exceed a 5% increase. That is to say, statistically speaking, if you really grind out the hours and put in the extra effort you’re going to have a somewhat reasonable shot at 5 %. You’ve got to be around the top 2% to have a shot at an increase of more than 5%.

You did it! Five percent is YOURS!

 If you’re fairly low to moderate effort mediocre employee, as long as you don’t attract too much attention to yourself, you’re still likely to earn around a 2.5% merit increase.

If we figure that Joe slacker can pull in 2.5% then our passionate dedicated corporate drone that’s being proactve and synergizing everything and is rewarded with a glorious fiver percent squeezed out an additional 2.5 %.

Was it worth it?

$65,000 multiplied by 2.5% for your extra efforts = $1625

This is before tax. 

After tax, let’s do some back of the napkin math and say you’ll have an extra $1,200 to $2000 a year over Joe Slacker. 

You’ll have an extra $1,200 a year over Joe Slacker for your extra efforts.

But what did you have to sacrifice to get this? Well for starters time.

Let’s say that our dedicated corporate soldier came in 30 minutes earlier than he needs to and stays an extra 45 minutes a day to grind out another report, spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation (I refused to say “deck”). This is an extra 1.25 hours of time in the office a day. If our dutiful worker was able to take a one week vacation a year, then he will have worked around 255 days a year.

255 days of working an extra 1.25 hours a day = 318.75 extra hours of work a year

Divide the extra $1,200 in annual take-home pay by the 318.75 hours of extra work to arrive at determine the hourly rate our dedicated worker gave his time away for. $1200/318.75 = $3.76

Around $3.76 an hour.

Three dollars and seventy-six cents per hour. Your reward for spending those extra hours of your life grinding it out is under minimum wage. What else might you have done with those hours?

In my opinion, you’d be better off just picking up a side hustle or doing some freelance work for just a few hours a week. This also puts you in a better situation should you ever get canned.  I’m just sayin.