To Work Or Not To Work?

by mfd on May 7, 2009

Monday night was the beginning of a 20 hour shift for me. I started at 10PM Monday and finished at 6PM Tuesday.  This isn’t the first time I’ve worked these sort of hours  and probably won’t be the last. The hours are somewhat excessive so I’m never surprised when I get asked “Why do you do it?”.

Why I do it..

I do it because I am capable and while I am capable I will work as hard as I can to meet my goals. It’s really that simple. From my perspective I have very little holding me back. There are people who travel the world because they don’t have responsibilities preventing them from doing so. This sort of logic applies to working as well. By working and earning as much as you can before things like marriage and more specifically kids come into the picture you can establish yourself on sturdier financial footing. Going forward in life I will be comfortable knowing the following:

  • That I have a fully funded emergency fund
  • That I have a substantial RRSP which will have 25 years to compound annually
  • That I have a healthy investment portfolio that can grow for 25 years
  • That I will have plenty of equity built up in our home by pre-paying our mortgage and lowering the length of the mortgage

These are the reasons I do this. For me it is worth the short term strain for the long term peace of mind.

A little parable

Going along these same lines I want to tell you about someone I use to work with. This person had an uncle who owned 2 hotels. He also mentioned that his uncle was just at the beginning of a 6 month vacation around the world. Upon hearing this I made a comment about how his uncle was living the dream. He decided to fill me in on his uncle’s secret to success. It came down to choice. At a point in his life he had to decide “Do I want to work 80 hours a week for 10 years or do I want to work 20 hours a week for 40 years”. With life you get out what you put in. In this case he sacrificed for the short term to live well in the long term. This was his decision and it may not be the same for everyone. I’d like to pose the question to you:

Would you work 80 hrs/week for 10 years or 20 hrs/week for 40 years? In either case you end with enough money to retire comfortably be financially independent for the rest of your life.



Alan Schram May 9, 2009 at 12:16 am

While I understand the desire to work hard now and reap the benefit later, I think I would rather take the 20hrs/week.

I would do it because I am picturing (and hoping) that the work would be something that I enjoy. And personally, if I don’t have focus, or a goal or a project, I’d go nuts. I wouldn’t want to just travel around all the time, it’d get boring and I’d want to come home, where I’d sit around and do nothing.

I’d rather work my whole life and enjoy the whole thing rather than go through hell and hope that I reap the benefit later.

mfd May 9, 2009 at 10:37 am

Hey Alan,

Ya I do it now because I don’t have kids. I’m pretty certain though if I was 20 and knew I wouldn’t have kids until I was 30 then I would be working my butt off. I once proposed that when they were hiring my counter part for the other shift that I would do it if they paid me double and I would only require 2 days off every 2 weeks. They didn’t go for it but I would have done it.

It’s all in what you want I suppose. I’ve said it before, now that I’m 30 and I know kids be will right around the corner the clock is ticking because I know I can’t work these kind of hours nor do I want too.

Four Pillars May 9, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I don’t think there is anything wrong with working but I think you might have some regrets in the future. If you have have kids someday then you might think that maybe doing more vacations/adult stuff when you could – might have been a good idea.

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