Rush, rush, rush

After reading about Financial Independence for a while and then pondering it some (whilst meditating on a snow capped mountain) it becomes clear that it is all about time.

Having the choice to use your time as you see fit is part of what FI is about, admittedly this choice is propped up by a substantial wedge of savings.

The traditional path of employment steals a depressingly large amount of time from us 5 days a week.  In reality not many of us only put in the 9-5 hours, with an hour for lunch.  Lunch hours are shortened here and there, you get in early to avoid having to speak to Creepy Dave first thing in the lift and to ‘just get a couple of things done, undistracted’ (how depressing), you work late as the work piles up and perhaps even your sacred weekend is taking up squeezing in a bit more work.

This leaves precious little time in the morning and evenings on a ‘work day’.  A quick shower, shoveling down breakfast like the apocalypse is coming and then trotting off to work is probably how many of us spend the morning on a work day.  How blissful.  Throw in sorting out the kids or sitting in the car for an hours commute for many more of us.

The evenings become a battle of efficiency to cook, get a few chores done, squeeze in a bit a quality time (be that spending time with family, exercising, playing some video games, reading or whatever else you enjoy) before finally crumpling into bed and dreaming about what needs to be done the next day.  Hardly the good life, especially considering most of us work primarily for the wage, not for the love of the job.  No one in finance goes to work because they “just fucking love moving numbers about in a spreadsheet and then writing a report about it”.

Rigidity of the work schedule

Most jobs entail you to be at the place of work during some core hours, even office based ones that are not customer facing.
This rigidity can be counter productive.  Last week I didn’t sleep well one night, I was up from about two.  (Must have been nervous for Chris Froome).  But I was in work at 9 as ‘it is good to be seen at your desk’.  In fact, it is better to be seen at your desk for long hours, rather than getting shit done and leaving early.  You have to ‘raise your profile’.  Thing is, I would have been much better sleeping until mid day, then working from midday.  Better for my productivity, better for my health and better for my colleagues.

Bad enough that we feel the need to spend so much time at the office, but this time is fixed to certain days of the week between certain hours, regardless of anything else.

The same time every day?  Even my phone is, like, WTF?

I can see why it is this way, because most people are arseholes that would take advantage.  And people milling about randomly is not the most efficient way for a business to be run.  It’s probably not the healthiest either.

I’m not saying that I have a solution, or even that business should be run a different way, rather that it’s not for me.  Pretty sure there are multiple ways out of feeling trapped by the rigidity of an office job, start up my own business, change jobs, go part time etc.  Or, a permanent solution, attaining Financial Independence.  I’ve trained long enough in the world of finance that I may as well put a few years benefiting from the training.

Resentment nearing critical
Full time work takes up a lot of time, leaving little free time, that sadly can lead to resentment outside of work.  I find myself resenting spending free time heading to see my parents for a weekend or travelling for a wedding.  If time was ours to use as we saw fit, a day or two catching up with family would be excellent, but when is uses up a whole free weekend it can seem like a chore.  I feel bad writing that, but bet quite a few feel the same.  Which is sad as these should be things that we want to do and enjoy, not that we feel we have to squeeze in.

I’ve spent the last 4 weekends at stag dos or birthdays and have 4 weddings this year.  Perhaps I should learn to say no, but I can’t seem to.

Product of a generation that doesn’t like hard work?

You’d be forgiven if it all came across as the whining of a work shy whelp.  Someone who would rather be sat in his pants playing video games than ‘contributing to society’.  As appealing as that sounds, it would get boring in about 4 to 8 months.

The demographic of those seeking FI looks like intelligent hard workers to me (Engineers, Software Engineers, Finance people from the blogs I read).  I think we’ve just had enough of the bullshit of working in an office, weighed down by an atlas ball of regulation, bureaucracy and self important bellends.  


Outsourcing
With time such a precious resource I have seen many of my friends turn to outsourcing to buy back some of their time, an attempt at Financial Independence that doesn’t work.

To avoid cooking they will buy a takeaway, to avoid doing the washing and ironing they will use a dry cleaners, ‘professionals’ will be hired in when some simple DIY would suffice or they will employ a cleaner.

On the surface it might even look like they are winning.

“I’m relaxing in the garden while I’ve hired someone in to paint the living room.  Edna’s here as well doing the cleaning”
It does appear as if they have managed to be get some precious free time back.  But you have to pay for all this, Bob the painter might want £500 for painting your room and Edna is probably charging you £10 an hour to dust your DVD collection.  And the takeaway you are munching on might cost another £10. 
The problem is that life can be pretty relentless with a full time job and the rest, so outsourcing becomes the easy win.  Some liquid funds in the bank that could be used, right now, to buy some free time in the evening?  Easy to see how it happens, especially as we shimmy our way up corporate ladder and start to have a bit more disposable income.  If we don’t avoid the pressure to get a bigger house, a newer car, a bigger TV, some sweet shoes or some new work clothes then the outsourcing goblin will get us.

Before you know it, like some creepy perpetual machine, you are spending the first couple of days a month working just to pay for your outsourced activities that save you a couple of days worth of time a month in chores.  If you want to save that time next month you better get your ass to the office for a couple of days to pay for it.  That money could be stashed away if you cooked some food or spend a couple of hours painting the living room.

I’ll admit that it can be tough if nearly everyone around you is doing it, herd mentality kicks in.  I was recently surprised by just how many of my friends have a weekly cleaner.


“Doing the hoovering are you Mr Z, you loser.  We pay someone to do that whist we check Facebook.”

It all seems a bit colonial, if nothing else.  Mrs Z even suggested getting a cleaner once, although on a different premise.  “If we have a cleaner coming each week it will force us to clean before they arrive, so the house isn’t a state”.  I didn’t even try to understand this.

I’m outsourcing very little and saving the difference.  I enjoy cooking and DIY, but perhaps I’m just a spooky guy.

Keep on trucking

Financial Independence still a long way off, but some disciplined saving in the (relatively) short term and I will have my free time back.  Ermine is there and seems pretty happy about the whole thing, Dr Doom is 3 months in and hasn’t crawled back into work begging for his old cubicle back and RIT is 12 to 18 months off pulling the trigger and seems as focused as ever.

Work is bearable for now, so in the mean time I will give general consumerism the old fuck you and keep up my 60% savings rate.

Mr Z

14 thoughts on “Rush, rush, rush

  1. Neverland

    Why don't you just get a job you enjoy doing instead of one you hate that pays only a bit more? Presumably (since you work in finance) a lot of that difference is eaten up in higher rate tax

    Reply
  2. Dividend Drive

    Nice post, Mr Z.

    One of the biggest reasons I think many people from the younger generation find it hard to enjoy their job (and want to escape) is because they tend to have to have many different ones over their lifetime. If you're constantly worrying that your one corporate slump of change of priorities business plan from being turfed out it is merely self-defence to want to keep emotionally unattached to the job.

    Unfortunately, without any attachment to the job or the people it is hard to keep up the sense of wanting to be there.

    I agree that outsourcing for time does not really work. It is a shame so many people turn to it. The problem is–as you note–it is only a superficial time gain over the short term.

    Reply
  3. Cerridwen

    I can honestly say that for most of my working life I have enjoyed my job – mainly because I've been lucky enough to do things that I could see making a difference to people. At one time I worked directly with the public and, although it was difficult and challenging at times, you knew you'd helped them whether they showed appreciation or not 🙂 These days my role is more technical and distanced from the people who use the systems I develop and support, but I still get a big buzz when I walk into one of our buildings and see people using a PC to assess services that I have helped provide. I know that what I do makes a real difference to people who need it.

    However, even for me things have changed over the last few years and I have lost some of the commitment I had to do a good job. When the organisation you work for is forced to cut services that have suddenly become low priority in a world with skewed values it's hard to keep positive about your job. I'm glad I almost got to the end of my career before feeling this way though.

    Have you thought about self-employment of some kind, maybe combined with part-time work to keep some money coming in?

    (Never had a cleaner myself but lots of the people I know do – even those without kids which seems crazy to me. )

    Reply
  4. Living cheap in London

    November this year will somewhat unbelievably be 5 years since I stopped being a senior manager & went part time (3 days/week) into a support role instead. Sure, I earn a lot less, but together with Mrs LCIL (who also reduced her hours a couple of years back) we have fine-tuned our lifestyle to adapt to the lower income & we actually save considerably more now than we did then.

    I honestly don't see either of us ever working full time again. It's just great that paid employment is the minority portion of each week: we have more time for our kids, hobbies, friends, family etc – you can't put a price on that.

    Reply
  5. Huw

    Hi Mr Z,

    I'm aligned with LCIL above. As of next week I go to 3 days a week and then 2 days a week in September. I'm really looking forward to it, but I must say, like Cerridwen, I've enjoyed the vast majority of my work. I'll miss many elements to it – Regular earnings, social interaction, and challenges.

    Onwards and upwards though. It's not nice to read that work isn't great for you, but in the most understanding, polite and respectful way (here it comes….) it's down to you to do something about it. You can change your perception or your circumstances to improve your situation. (was that understanding, polite and respectful? The lead up must have helped at least!)

    I don't understand your working situation, but can you go part time? Or can you freelance your acquired skills in some way to earn money without your job?

    The good news is that your heading towards FI either way and as each month passes you're one step closer. If you want to take bigger steps, you'll need to question whether you can reduce your expenses further (probably difficult for your low expenses) or earn more money to invest with.

    Keep on trucking my friend and if the rides shite, then take another route.

    All the best
    Huw

    PS. Your freehand graphs from previous posts demonstrate a great ability which might not have been fully utilised so far. The freelance world awaits!

    Reply
  6. weenie

    There was a period at work some years back when I was consistently working 7am til 7pm. I worked those hours not because I was asked to, but because I was in a new role and felt that I needed to hit the ground running. Those hours made me ill, eg lost weight, suffered from insomnia.

    Nowadays, unless I have something absolutely urgent that needs to be done, I just work to my hours, although I do still tend to eat at my desk at lunchtime.

    Since I've started my FI journey, going into work has actually gotten easier. Every hour that I am working and getting paid is earning me money that I can save/invest towards FI. Yes, the time in the office means I don't get to enjoy my hobbies and interests to the full but I don't really allow the drudgery that is office work get to me.

    I've been working full-time for 23 years now and expect to work at least 10 more years. I've pretty much enjoyed my working life and continue to do so. The way I see it, it could be worse, and it will get a lot worse once the sale of our company gathers momentum.

    I appreciate that not everyone can be on the optimistic side like me but if the work is getting you down, then perhaps it is time to change, be it change of hours or change of job.

    No sense in being miserable, when you can do something about it.

    Reply
  7. M from There's Value

    This is an interesting post that made me think a lot about our own work-life balance. I work 6-19 hours per week – August is dead so it's more like 6, but part-way through September, I'll likely be doing closer to 19 again. However, I'm earning the lowest wage I've earned in over 10 years. That depresses me. The rest of the time, I am a mum and housewife, but with our enormous house and frequent guests, we too have thought of getting a cleaner. Sometimes, it's just not feasible to chase round your two year old all day then cook and then have to clean the house as well. Mr There's Value works full-time and always keeps exactly to his hours. He is uber-efficient and gets all sorts of shit done that you couldn't even imagine. If he works extra hours, he keeps a record and takes the time off in lieu, religiously.

    However, I sometimes resent him being at work all week, and wish he could go down to 4 days… I'd love to have him home one day and the kid(s) would love it too I'm sure. But the loss of income would be irreplaceable unfortunately, so unless I suddenly started to get paid a good salary again, then this just isn't going to happen. Like D2 said above, young people tend to have had a lot of jobs, which I can verily attest to, but at least I have enjoyed pretty much all of them.

    Oh well, no solution, but life is good overall. Can't complain when we're all focussed on savings and investing and know that our future will be different.

    Cheers

    Reply
  8. Mr Zombie

    Hi Neverland,

    A fair point and one I have been thinking about recently. I don't really hate it, I could do without the bureaucracy though. Part of it is I am nearing the end of some training, which involves rotations into certain parts of the business. This rotation isn't something I am particularly interested in.

    It should open up the door for more interesting work though, and contracting roles. Which would speed up the FI process and allow me to choose more interesting projects.

    If I had the investments to support me would I be doing this? Probably not!

    Mr Z

    Reply
  9. Mr Zombie

    DD,

    True, it probably is self preservation. I feel a little bad complaining because I am lucky enough to have a well paid career. It doesn't take away from the fact that a lot of what people seem to do in the modern office is just red tape (and deal with arseholes!).

    Mr Z

    Reply
  10. Mr Zombie

    HI Cerridwen,

    The detachment from the customer is probably part of it (although I imagine that in itself can be a pain some times!)

    I will go self-employed at some point, but only when I am closer to having enough savings to feel comfortable. Although there are plenty of contracts around for what I do it would almost certainly involve living in different cities during the week (at least some of the contracts). The ideal situation would be to have enough savings to pick and choose contracts (with time in between each and all within a short commute 🙂 )

    Mr Z

    Reply
  11. Mr Zombie

    Hi LCIL,

    This is something Mrs Z and I were talking about. After kids how to split up the hours worked and both of us going part time was one of the options. Again I'd need to build up some more savings to be comfortable, but paid employment becoming the minority of a week sounds ace.

    Less money and less responsibility… a fair trade off for more free time!

    Did it take much time to adapt to?

    Mr Z

    Reply
  12. Mr Zombie

    Thanks Huw!

    In the main, it's not that bad. I just can't stand days when it feels just like pure admin. I've actually been working until about 9pm every night since the post, with the team to get a project completed and it's been fine. I don't mind the work or working hard, just the times when it feels like the work is for works sake! And part of it is the rotation I am in now, it's a bit too much dry regulation and not enough technicality. And that will change 🙂

    My plan is to go self-employed as a contractor at some point, but it's risky (the work dries up in an instant in a recession as it's not cheap). So I want some more savings first.

    And then when I have the savings I will quit completely and retrain as a carpenter 🙂

    Mr Z

    [I always knew my art work was good]

    Reply
  13. Mr Zombie

    Hi Weenie,

    That's some long hours to keep up for any length of time!

    I don't mind work in the main, just good to vent everynow and then 🙂 And I know that I don't want to spend my whole working life in an office, so while I am still enjoying it (to some extent) I am now saving hard so that I can stop when the time comes, rather than working on because I have to.

    Hopefully the sale of the company won't work out too bad for you. A huuuuuge redundancy payment if it does all happen would be nice.

    Ahhhh – I'm not miserable (that's just the lack of cycling this year!). I have my escape plan. Besides I have no problems with moving job or retraining, I like the learning when something is new 🙂

    Mr Z

    Reply
  14. Mr Zombie

    Hi M,

    I never realised how crazy two year olds can be until I spent a day with Mrs Z's nephew, that guy is non-stop! We are unsure what we will do when we have kids. We were thinking both part time, although that would mean whilst one is at home the other is at work so we still wouldn't see much of each other…

    Good on Mr TV on being efficient and getting out on time! Although I do sometimes think that if you get all your shit done early….then you should be able to leave early.

    Exactly, saving and investing gives us options that we wouldn't otherwise have! It's nice to know that you could take some time off if it came to it.

    thanks for the comment

    Mr Z

    Reply

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