Stop Working So Hard to Make Money

My girlfriend Cassie comes home every night frustrated by the amount of effort she puts into her job. As an Arts and Crafts Counselor at a nearby Boys and Girls Club, she invests considerable time outside of the workplace into preparing for each workday — shopping for new craft materials, preparing the materials the night before, and creating a sample “finished project” to present to her students before each activity.

She admits that the amount of time required for her to do her job is unreasonable — and knows that she is being taken advantage of.

Does your job take advantage of you in this way? Are you working unpaid hours once you’re no longer at work? In this article, I’ll be discussing the reasons why you should stop working so hard to make money.

To better illustrate my point, let’s consider Cassie’s summer job:

She runs an Arts and Crafts room for 7 hours a day.
Let’s say that she earns $10 an hour while on the job.

If we stop right here, then Cassie earns $70 for a 7 hour workday. ($10/hour)

The problem is, it doesn’t stop right here. This is because after she leaves work, her unpaid workday begins:

She spends nearly 1.5 hours shopping for new craft materials.
Estimate another 0.5 hours traveling to and from the craft store.
Additional Time Spent Working Without Pay: 2 Hours

If we stop right here, then Cassie earns $70 for a 9 hour workday. ($7.76/hour)

Unfortunately, she still has work to do:

She spends 3 evening hours preparing the materials for tomorrow’s activity. What’s interesting about these 3 hours is that I’m working alongside her. In other words, our combined efforts total 6 man hours of preparation.
Total Time Spent Working Without Pay: 8 Hours

If we stop right here, then Cassie earns $70 for a 15 hour workday. ($4.65/hour)

By now I’m sure you get the idea: Some jobs require so much effort outside of the workplace that your hourly rate is reduced below minimum wage. This isn’t smart, is it?

Would you work 7 paid hours if you knew it required 8 additional hours of your time without pay?

The obvious answer is “No,” but have you ever even calculated your own True Hourly Rate? In order to do so, you first need to add the number of hours you spend recuperating from your workday. Remember that this is specific to your own situation, but would include things such as:

  1. Work you take home with you.
  2. After work naps.
  3. Unwinding at the TV, Computer, or Video Game Station.
  4. Anything done resulting from a stressful or exhausting workday.

Add the number of hours you spend recuperating to the number of hours you actually spend at work each day. This total is your True Working Hours.

Hours at Work + Hours Recuperating = True Working Hours

If you don’t already know it, calculate your Daily Earnings by multiplying your hourly rate by the number of hours spent at work each day.

Hourly Rate * Hours at Work = Daily Earnings

Finally, calculate your True Hourly Rate by dividing your Daily Earnings by your True Working Hours.

Daily Earnings / True Working Hours = True Hourly Rate

The result can be enlightening. If you discover that you’re being taken advantage of at your job, don’t fret — you’re certainly not alone.

It took me nearly seven years of working jobs I didn’t enjoy before I realized it was inefficient to trade time for money. Thankfully, I’ve found something I enjoy doing that earns money whether I decide to work or not.

If you’re interested in learning how I do it, then I encourage you to read my series: How To Automate Your Income Online.

Chances are, once you understand how earning passive income using the Internet works, you’ll be anxious to stop working so hard to make money.

If you've found this website helpful, please click the PayPal button. You will be helping me pursue my dream career as a writer. Thanks for your support!

16 Responses to “Stop Working So Hard to Make Money”

#1 OMouse on 28, Jun, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Sometimes the unpaid work is a future benefit because it sharpens your skills and thus it isn’t really unpaid. It may help you get a better job. But that would only apply for certain fields like programming (I read programming stuff most of the day just to exercise the mind) not arts & crafts.

#2 LJ on 28, Jun, 2007 at 4:45 pm

OMouse has a point… I guess the real question every needs to ask, is what you’re doing really worth the stress you experience? Regardless if it exercises the mind, exercises have been known to injure.

#3 OMouse on 28, Jun, 2007 at 10:56 pm

LJ: That’s true as well. I feel burnt out sometimes and can’t seem to get any coding done after I’ve read so much.

#4 Shaun Boyd on 29, Jun, 2007 at 10:48 am

@OMouse & LJ:
That’s an interesting counter-point. I learned how to create a blog at my previous job, and it was during that process of learning about it that I remembered how much I enjoyed it. It makes me wonder if the experience of struggling or being taken advantage of is one of the required steps before hopping into the driver’s seat to seize control of your life. Thanks for your comments.

#5 Cassie on 04, Jul, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Funny how this article is about me, Cassie, the girlfriend, and I don’t necessarily agree.

The extra hours that I put in now do not total 8 hours a day. Some nights I spend only 15 minutes preparing for the next day. On the days that I do spend an extra 3+ hours preparing I feel stressed… and underpaid… but it’s not all for nothing.

If I work hard and create awesome projects for the kids and get a great report with the children and the people I work for, I get one more great reference on my resume. My current boss could tell prospective bosses how hard I work and how i am willing to put in extra time –giving me a leg up.

Teaching is one of those thankless tiring jobs. Many people don’t realize that teachers work “24/7”. The only difference is that they are normally on a fixed salary of something much more than $8.75/hr.

I don’t see it as fruitless. I also disagree with OMouse saying that putting in extra time for programming is not comparable to my job in “arts and crafts.” The job will get easier the longer I do it, and I will have the supplies and examples necessary if I do a project a second,third, or how-ever-many times.

In taking this job, I expected to do work at home. I admit that there have been a few nights where I want to rip out my hair… but I am actually really grateful for this job because I believe it will help me get a better, higher-paying job.

Plus, damn — I need the money.

#6 Shaun Boyd on 05, Jul, 2007 at 9:38 am

If you believed the article was about you, then I failed to illustrate my point clearly. I was trying to suggest that trading your time for money was inefficient, especially in situations where “off the clock” work is required. The article was never meant to suggest that what you’re doing for a summer job is fruitless.

#7 story on 20, Jul, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Brava Cassie! Brava for pointing out what I’m sure Shaun knows but didn’t say – that there are other reasons to work than for the money. And when that’s true – when you know you must be a teacher, when you’re networking for a new job, when you’re learning a new skill – then it doesn’t really matter how much you make per hour.

I promise it is true that it will get easier. The first year teaching – as I’m sure is true of the first year in any meaningful career – is the hardest. The more you plan now, the better resource of plans you will have later, and the easier it will be for you to plan on the spot, to recognize what will work and what will not.

#8 Monk on 22, Jul, 2007 at 11:33 pm

While I’ve not read all of the articles on this blog, I’ve read a few of them and the trend I see is to point people towards working for themselves using the internet. While there is certainly lots of potential there, it is also necessary for some people to work for companies as part of something larger. As was pointed out earlier, even a low paying job for some company can be a great resource for experience or even contacts.

While it’s great that you have found that writing for yourself works for you and you don’t need a boss, people with interests in other areas might not have that luxury. Many jobs exist only as part of a larger entity anyway.

This enables people to become highly trained and extremely specialized at what they do. Basically, I see a need for both the standard job with a boss and specific tasks, but I also see a need for independent jobs where appropriate. A healthy mix of the two is the best route in my opinion.

Good articles either way, I find them to be well structured arguments and thought provoking.

#9 Dave on 24, Jul, 2007 at 1:41 am

Ya.. Teaching is one of those jobs where the school boards often don’t supply enough… My wife and I received top ratings in our area- but only because we poured in tons of our own cash. That is SERIOUSLY wrong. We both quit at the end of the school year – how liberating!

#10 Kit on 08, Apr, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Brava, Cassie !
You’ve said exactly what I had planned to say before I read your response.
I’ve been doing ‘arts and crafts’ for 20 years.
No degree.
I work with Camp Fire, and with homeschoolers, and I work at a summer camp too.
I love what I do, and the prep time for my activities is nowhere near what it was way back when I started.
The paycheck I get is small, and in some cases I’m a volunteer – but what I get out of my investment, you could never buy with money.

#11 Jim Nasium on 09, Apr, 2008 at 7:46 pm

The man is holding you down, then do something else or start your own business.

#12 Suzann on 10, Apr, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Hi Shaun,

I just “StumbledUpon” your site, and just love it. I’m going to put some of your excellent ideas to use. Thank you!

#13 Will on 07, Jul, 2008 at 9:52 pm

There is a point in time during a career where working extra without getting paid might make sense if you are gaining experience (I’ve rarely done it though). However, the point of the article to me is not to undervalue your time and to realize the real amount of time you spend not only at work, but commuting and other tasks related to work.
For teachers who love teaching, a better way to go would be to teach online and/or privately, instead of teaching for low pay and with no materials.

#14 Keene on 24, Nov, 2008 at 1:28 pm

I work at a Boys and Girls Club and have for over 7 years. I know, what a sucker I am. I can’t tell you how much I relate to your girlfriend right now. We work our butts off, and we love helping kids, but in the end we suffer the most. I admire anyone who works for the organization, because they need good people, but at the same time we both need to be slapped for letting them take advantage of us. This is my biggest problem with the organization. To make matters worse, they gave me insurance and put me on salary, one month later they took it all away. Their reason…not enough funding. Gee thanks. Great article. Thanks for posting.

#15 Derek on 27, Nov, 2008 at 1:42 am

As a Unit Director for the Boys and Girls Club organization, I can relate to extra hours, being underpaid, and exhausted on a regular basis. Even when I am not AT work, I am at work. I no longer have anonymity and spend much of my time outside of work attending public events, shopping, soliciting for funds, etc. all for the benefit of “my job”. As I have figured out in the past, my hourly rate, which is more than Cassie’s, still ends up being about minimum wage. There are days when I throw my hands up in the air and think to myself, “Why the heck do I work so hard for this minimal amount of money that I receive (work between 55-70 hours a week)?” Well, my answer is always the same, and I am sure that it will eventually be the same for Cassie. Because the cause is bigger than I. Because the rewards are larger than any amount of money anyone can throw at me. Because I make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children in my community every single day. Thousands in my 8 year career thus far. I have seen the the benefits of a great arts and crafts director, and the outlets they provide for children who might be dealing with home situations that would be enough to make you cry, are priceless. In my city, my colleagues and my employees understand when I speak of someone “Who Gets It”. It sounds like Cassie is on her way to “getting it”. To getting what the B & G Club movement can mean, and I have no doubt in my mind, even though it may not be tomorrow or next week, she will be amazed when a former member of hers comes up to her and thanks her, or invites her to their wedding, and lets her know she had made a difference in their life. Put a dollar amount on that for me, because i can’t.

No one goes to work for a non-profit and thinks that they are going to become rich. You openly accept the fact that funding is not guranteed and that fundraisers, grants, endowments, etc. are required to keep your doors open, and keep you employed. “Lifers” who work for our organization do it because there is an innate quality that festers in them, a fire to help others. We do it without thanks, with low pay, and we do it for your children. If you are concerned for Cassie and her pay, I urge you to make a monetray donation to your nearest Boys and Girls Club. There are thousands of Cassie’s around this country, and thank God for them. If you don’t have the cash, everyone has time. I know I would love to have more volunteers in my facility on a daily basis. Complaining gets you no where, doing something to make a differnce helps get you closer to a solution.

#16 Unemployed on 01, Aug, 2009 at 8:20 pm

I’ve been out of work for over six months, at this point I would be happy to be abused and used just for a pay check, consider this when you are at your lowest point at work and want to quit.

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