Work longer, make more.

April 9, 2012 · 40 comments

Walk in to your bosses office right now (I’m assuming you are reading this while on the clock, am I right?) and demand a raise. See what happens. You’ll either get fired, or at the very least laughed at.

Unless you work on a commissioned base pay system, truth is you probably don’t have much influence over how much you get paid at your 9 to 5. But what if you want, or need, to make some extra money? You really only have one option, work more.

For some this might mean a second job; delivering pizzas, monetizing your blog, or selling things on Craigslist. For non-salary employees, this might mean putting in longer hours and getting paid overtime.

For the first time in my four-year career, I’ve been given the opportunity to work optional overtime. I’ve been authorized up to 15 hours a week for at least the next few weeks.

I’m torn. 

On one hand, it would be nice to add some extra cash to my next few paychecks. On the  other hand, I very much value my free time. I’m going to try to not sound like an ungrateful jerk in the next few sentences so please read them with understanding…

I’m hesitant to work the overtime just for the sake of making an extra $2,000, because truth is, $2,000 doesn’t really change our lives. We live comfortably, spend reasonably, and save aggressively. Simply put, we don’t need the extra money. I’m inclined to turn down the overtime and keep my schedule free. My goal in life is not to work more and make more, but to work less and play more.

That said, It’s pretty freaking hard to turn down time and a half. I mean I’m already working 40 hours a week for regular pay, why wouldn’t I just do what I am already doing for a 50% pay bump? Seems crazy not to take it, right? What’s more, I work better when I have a specific objective or goal. If I don’t view this $2,000 as “just some extra money”, but instead a one week vacation to Hawaii or a year’s worth of free car insurance, then I become more exponentially more motivated.

There are only so many hours in the day. Eight of them dedicated to working. Eight-ish dedicated to sleeping. Not sure I’m ready to forfeit three more to my job. 

How many hours a week do you work (40, 50, 80)? Do you work any type of second job, or work overtime? At what point do you say “Screw the extra money, I want some freedom?” If you were offered 15 hours of overtime at your job would you take it, if so, why (be specific, what would you do with the money)?

1 SAM

I have to say I really relate to this. My husband and I have reached a point in our careers where we’re making decisions about how much is “enough.” For us it’s not about whether or not to work overtime, but how to make strategic career decisions that lead us to the life we want. Ultimately, we could make more money, but is it worth it? We’re in a place right now where we should be able to buy a house, send two kids to college and save for retirement, and still live a comfortable (but not extravagant) lifestyle. To be honest, we’re both young and ambitious and having trouble drawing the line at “enough”, especially in this world where getting a raise (or bonus) is a measure of success. But I really do believe that even by thinking about it at this point in our lives, we’re headed in the right direction.

2 eemusings

At my old job, I worked at least 40 hours, occasionally up to 50. I also did up to 8-10 hours freelancing. It was great for a year, but eventually I decided to step it down and reclaim my time.

Right now I don’t get paid for overtime. If I did, and was offered 15 hours a week, that would be going straight to our wedding and travel funds.

3 StackingCash

You lazy bum! Make hay while there is sun shining young man! J/K on the first comment. The second comment does have some validity to it. I work a 40 hour week and hate to work overtime because I’m getting tired at my old age :/ I used to be able to work like a dog when I was younger but I think I burned myself out by doing so. However, my income is not so hot so I need to work hard still to bring in the money. As for overtime, I rather not work it because time and a half of a low hourly rate sucks. If I had a high hourly rate, like you ;), I probably would. Extra money would probably be spent on toys, vacation, or life in general. I’m looking at an Ipad 3 and maybe a nice Burberry purse for my wife. Then again Diablo 3 is coming out, I might have to upgrade my computer sooner than later :/ Lately the networth has been stagnent because we have been buying lots of stuff. Even though I want to live a more minimalistic lifestyle, the wife does not. Life is pretty expensive. Your car post was just a fraction of how expensive life can be.

4 Miss JJ

I work about 50-55 hrs a week right now, and the work is pretty intense, so I’m pretty much done at the end of the day. So no second job.

I am pretty well compensated for the work I do, and my savings rate are already pretty high, so I guess, the incentive to do overtime, even at time and a half is pretty low. I am happy to let the money go. It would, of course, be a different story if I had diffculty making ends meet.

5 Paige

I take every shift I can get because I don’t have a salary. For a few months a year I work absolutely insane hours and sometimes only go home to sleep, shower and pack my lunch for the next day, but in other months I may only have 2 shifts/week.

Some of my co-workers will work only up to 40 hours/week (or even less) when it gets busy, and then complain endlessly when it’s not because they don’t have enough money. I made a decision long ago that I would take whatever shifts I could get. Plus, I’d rather work as much as possible when I’m young and single with no kids so that I can work less later.

6 Michelle

Hmmm tough question. It’s hard to decide what amount would “change my life.”

However, right now I do work around 50 hours and am in an MBA program full-time, so I think if I didn’t have classes, I would probably have a side job. But I know for a fact that once I’m done with my MBA, that I will most likely never have a side job. I will be craving that freedom when I’m done.

7 Ryo Vie

I struggle with this all the time! Do I take on a econd job so that I can pay the debt down faster? Do I try to monetize a blog? Do I go back to freelance writing and try to make some money that way? Then I look at the time that I am NOT doing the things that I truly love – reading, spending more time with friends and family, etc.

At some point, you have to say that enough is enough. My free time is way too valuable to give away even more of it. I am a year away from being debt free, and yes, an extra job would make that happen in 6 months, which would mean 6 months of saving and investing, but the time with my family is too important.

I work close to 50 hours a week at my job now. I couldn’t give away another 10 – 15 hours…

8 Rafiki

I posted yesterday about this exact same thing. Last month I worked 27 hours in overtime and even though I do have goals that motivated me to work for the extra money, like you, my main goal is to work less; and that is what I am going to do.

I don’t need the extra money. I prefer to spend my free time doing other stuff, spend it with my gf, spend it watching TV. I don’t need the extra money. I can get by just fine without it. A part of me wants it, but the rest of me wants to relax and enjoy time away from work more.

I can understand if people work overtime to avoid debt or to pay it down faster, to each their own. If I don’t work overtime, I won’t be going into debt and I am pretty comfortable with my cash flow at the moment so I am happy not working any more overtime or at least a much smaller amount, like 8 hours a month.

9 momninja

I work about 60-70 hours a week – all salary so no pay bump. I like what I am doing right now and have the opportunity to take part in the managemetn bonus structure next year so I am all in.

But there are days I just want to do nothing so as empty nesters we can and that truly helps keep me going.

10 SWR

If you decide to leave the government and go into the private sector, you’ll most likely be working well over 40 hours at some point.

For that reason (not the extra money), I’d take the extra hours. It is the perfect opportunity to show a potential private sector person that you’re willing to do more than 9-5 when your job needs/asks you to.

11 Larry

You are right that you don’t need the money. Nonetheless, as SWR says, working longer hours is often expected in the private sector, and if (as most likely) you are hired as an exempt employee, you will not necessarily be compensated for the additional time.

I can write only from the perspective of the private sector, but within your present job, I think it would be an unwise career move to completely turn down the overtime. You don’t have to work 15 additional hours each week, but perhaps 5 hours a week would be a suitable compromise. The offer of overtime was intended partly for your benefit, and refusing it altogether might send a signal to management that you are not fully motivated on the job.

12 Kyla

Since you don’t need the funds at the moment, you could take the money, stick it in a 529 plan, and have it compound away for future babies’ college education. $2,000 compounded for 20 years at 7% would net $8077… that’s a semester of college at least. Not that big a deal, but nice to know that you could work an extra week worth of hours now to pay for a whole semester of education in the future. You don’t have a have a child yet to have a 529.

13 Mercedes

If it is only for a few weeks I would totally get as much overtime as I could and bank that money for something else down the road. No one ever complained about having TOO MUCH money saved away in their emergency fund!

I do also understand not having that time cut into your time away from work. But again, if it is only for a few weeks, and you didn’t have any previous commitments scheduled, why not?

14 Modest Money

If your heart’s not into it, screw the overtime. Everyone needs some free time to be happy. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a job that had the option for working overtime. I have run a website business on the side for a long time though. The nice thing about that is that I could put in hours when I felt like it. If I wanted to skip it for a week or two, so be it.

The other thing you have to consider is tax brackets. Sometimes working those extra hours just isn’t worth it because it pushes you into a higher tax bracket eating up a lot of that extra $2000.

15 Mark Lewis

You my friend do not understand tax brackets. If you earn $2000 and that puts in you in the next tax bracket, only the money over that tax bracket is taxed at that amount. All the other income is still taxed at lower brackets.

16 DebtnTaxes

I normally work 96 hours in a pay period, which for me is 2 weeks. The 16 hours in OT normally heads right to debt payments, which is fine with me because thats the goal, to get out of debt. I don’t ever count on overtime or even have it in my budget because its never a guarantee. Like you said though, working a couple extra hours a week to save for a Hawaiian vacation sounds nice and is a pretty good idea. Its all about finding a balance between work and your home life, if the Mrs. wants you home you’re going to have to follow her “orders.”

17 Brian

I also value my free time very highly, which is why I usually opt for “comp time” if available. For me it is usually not available due to the way my contract is written, so i just pocket the extra money and take the old lady out to dinner or something like that.

18 Mo D.

I’m paid to work 37.5 hrs/week, and that’s what I work. As a salaried employee, I’m not able to bank OT hours, or receive financial compensation for them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occassionally work through my breaks or part of my lunch if we’re really busy. My supervisor doesn’t expect us to come in early, or stay late.

For most of my 20’s I worked 2 jobs (office job by day, waitress in evenings/weekends), but now that I’m in my mid-40’s, I don’t have the stamina to work those long hours. I would if we were in a financial bind (ie: Hubby lost his job), but I’ll keep my downtime for as long as I can.

Like MM noted, be careful of the additional money screwing you over at tax time…the last time we both worked 2 jobs (did a short stint a few years ago), we ended up paying about $3000 at tax time… certainly didn’t feel like the extra job was worth it.

Hubby’s paid hourly, so he will work a few hours of OT here and there… the occassional Sat. morning… but that extra money typically goes towards saving for a big-ticket item (ie: new furniture), or our annual anniversary trip in October.

19 CautiousMama

Dude, you’ve been talking new (to you!) car and baby ninjas. You’ve done an awesome job of paying down debt. Now is no time to rest! Keep going and set aside money, because you know once that baby thing gets started you’re going to want a house. The smaller the mortgage, the better! Save your money, not just 20% for a down payment, stretch for much more.

So many things can happen. Secure jobs can go away, you can get sick.

All of that said, you can ‘afford’ to kick back and ignore the overtime if you just look at your budget numbers. But if I were you I’d be there earning time and a half, as an invaluable asset to my employer, take the money, and put it toward some larger goal.

20 Julia

I’m a graduate student supported by a stipend which means I don’t get paid overtime and I’m not supposed to work another job. Overtime purely translates to more work accomplished towards my degree. I think if your job benefits you in a way other than financially overtime can make sense when you are “saving enough” but if the money isn’t meaningful and the job doesn’t fulfill other needs I think it’s reasonable to pass on the overtime so you can do something you enjoy in the 8 hours of non-sleeping non-working time each day!

21 Carl

There’s actually a sign hanging in my department that says, “No one, while on their deathbed, has ever said, ‘Man, I wish I had spent more time in the office.”

Life is more than money and overtime; it’s about balance. You seem to be doing fine financially speaking, so I would say it’s time to focus on other aspects you enjoy.

22 Jennifer

I wouldn’t work overtime. My time is way too valuable to me, and I appreciate the work life balance I have now. I work 40 hours per week. I’ve chosen not to continue to advance in my career anymore because I know that long hours and more stress would accompany it, and it’s not worth it to me. I’m happy with the money I make now and I live very comfortably without making more.

23 Judy

I work 65 hours a week as it is. I am tired and I still do not have enough money. I have 11 cents until I get paid tomorrow. Boo. I need a better day job instead of 2 bad ones.

24 MelissaZ

I’d definitely take the overtime, at least for a short period of time. Just found out I’m preggo, and it wasn’t exactly planned, so a little extra money would be nice!

25 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Since I just bought a house I could use the extra money (something to consider since I know you are also house hunting). That being said I usually work 40 hours a week and then put in an additional 20 hours on my house getting in ready to be liveable.

26 Becca

I’d take it and use it to buy a new bed. It is something I keep thinking about but for which I can’t quite justify pulling money from my regular savings account. It’d be perfect to have an opportunity like this come up that is finite and for which the funds are previously unallocated but would reach the goal.

27 Young Professional Finances

I would work the overtime but only if it had a set date to ending. Since your example is 15 hours of overtime for the next few weeks, I would definitely take that. If the idea was to do overtime until who knows when, I would do it until I felt it was becoming more of a burden than being helpful.

Right now, I would take the money and put it towards my savings goals (wedding, house, etc).

28 kreegs

I would take the over time with no hesitation at all. I currently work full time as a teacher (around 50 hours a week) and then part time (between 10-20 hours a week) for a Parks and Recreation Dept.. I get compensated well for both positions and together very well. I was initially paying off student debt from acquiring my M.Ed and prior to that general student and life debt.
I continue to work the second job as now I am pregnant and I don’t want to work a second job once we have the baby. I have worked the second job for seven years granted it has varied greatly in terms of extra income from $5000 in a year to $30000 in year depending on my level of dedication in taking the extra work and well when I was in my M.Ed program it was pretty low.
Right now the money would go towards saving for the future baby’s RESP or to provide us with additional cushion for when my income drops during my maternity leave. My husband doesn’t work a second job but probably puts in between 60-70 hours each week in his Post-Doc program. He also had zero debt coming into our relationship and some savings which he continues to grow.
Take the money Ninja you can still have lots of fun in your free time, I manage to have a pretty good balance with what I work.

29 myself

How many hours a week do you work (40, 50, 80)?
I work 50 hr/week

Do you work any type of second job, or work overtime?
I had the opportunity to work overtime about 1 year ago. I earned about $1800 extra in 2 weeks (10 hr/week), but I regretted that choice because I ended up so tired, stressed and overwhelmed that all I did for about 2 days was sleep, and in the end the extra money didn’t make a big difference in my life (I’m 90% sure that it went directly to my student loan, and perhaps I bought some clothes).

At what point do you say “Screw the extra money, I want some freedom?”
I say it all the time :)

If you were offered 15 hours of overtime at your job would you take it, if so, why (be specific, what would you do with the money)?
Not in a million years ever again. Call me stupid, call me innocent, but I’m happy with my current income.

30 MoneySmartGuides

You could look at it as if you work the overtime, the increase in money will get you to your goals faster meaning you can quit the job earlier and have free time all day long. Of course, $2K probably isn’t going to make a big dent in this plan, but over time coupled with other income, it could add up.

I do agree with you however about enjoying your free time. I work 40 hours a week and write for my blog, along with 2 others and I have a few business ideas outside of blogging I am starting to work on. With all of that, I still take time to forget it all and just enjoy my free time.

31 Trina

I’d say do it. I am totally going to play the ‘you don’t have kids yet’ card right now and you said it was ‘up to’ 15 hours for a couple weeks. Just 1 extra hour a day over 3 weeks would be 15 hours of 1.5 pay. I’m sure GN could find something to do for 15 hours (hello hot yoga…) while you hoard some cheddar to pay for a vacay, CA burritos or unicorn embroidered throw pillows. Ya, free time is great and all, but so is a (paid in full) week in Hawaii;)

32 SimpleIslandLiving

My sister and her husband work in government work too, and she and I constantly got into arguments over the amount of hours to work in a week that is “acceptable”. Because government work is strictly 40 hours per week, she thought that being expected to work anything over that was a boss taking advantage. I worked in restaurants, where a 10-12 hour shift was normal, and an 18 hour shift as a manager was expected if need be. No overtime.

Regardless of what I think though is an acceptable amount to work for an employer, I do think that if you don’t need the money and enjoy your free time more, than don’t do it. Plus, you can spend that extra time on Manteresting and make buckets more than $2k a month in the future. BTW I told my husband about it, and he told a friend of his about it. Spreading the love!

33 Mary M

If I were you, I’d let Girl Ninja decide. It hasn’t been too long since you got back from Korea and I gather that with your job, you could be sent on assignment at the spur of the moment anytime. What does GN say?
If I had some extra cash from OT I’d pay down a credit card or throw it toward my car payment. If I didn’t have debts, then I doubt I would put in the extra time.

34 Paulette

By working all the OT available for the past several years, I just paid cash for my son’s Associate’s Degree, used car plus new engine, and a major home remodel (kitchen and bath gut jobs) as well as a two week vacation for hubs and I to India. Just because I could. Still have E Fund, Car Fund and already restarted House and Vaca Fund.
I liked my job and worked up to 18 hours a day. I don’t recommend that kind of craziness for everyone, but you never know what opportunities might pop up for you to use that extra few bucks.

35 dreemsie

My employer doesn’t offer optional overtime, but when people take off and depending what shift it is (yes, I work shift work) the shift gets filled based on how many hours each person has been offered that year. You have the option to say no and not get paid, but you can work it too and get 1.5 times your pay.

This can add up to upwards of 50k a year depending on your hourly rate and hours you work. That 50k mark is about 500 hours. That is an extra 62 days a year at work.

36 dreemsie

I should add that for me personally, I work about 200 hours/year OT. That is my goal and I probably turn down 40-50 hours, but for justifiable reasons on my end.

That 2k you are turning down is car money, baby ninja money, down payment money, etc.

37 This Aggie Saves

I’m a salaried employee so I couldn’t ever get overtime, but if I could… I’d totally do it. Extra money in equals extra money saved! The sooner I pay off my car the sooner I’ll be able to breathe easiers.

38 Evan

I didn’t read all the comments, but you may not need the $2K right now but Future you may. If Girl Ninja hits baby number 4 (I think that desire is likely to change after she pushes out number 1 or at least that is what I have seen with friends)….the $2k you made today may really help out your family in the future.

Does that mean you need to go nutty and pick up every single hour, no, but you should at least give thought to that. Maybe do half the time and use that $1k for something VERY specific that helps out future Ninja’s family. Make $1k into a 529 or that $1k into a passive income account so you can work less when the kids finally do arrive, etc.

39 debtpuncher

I work based on a tiered system of QOL. That stands for quality of life. I dont put my trust out in the world, work the hours, then “hope” the goods come back to me. When I say goods its not just the money , its friends, girlfriends, life expierences, ect. As a single male (not by choice) I refuse to work any more than 12 hours a week. If QOL cannot meet the requirements I do not work the extra hours as they just earn me “fast food money”. I let the gov’t foot the bill if im put under such social constraints. They WILL pay for my apartment and FOOD. Give me the goods first , then ill work to sustain. Its like working on a cash only system rather than extending the “world” credit. You pay me first , then ill increase work ethic. Studies have shown that depressed men who work 40 hours a week not only dont find love in thier life, they blow all that money and “self absorb” themselves to a consumeritist turd they always were brought up to be. And to anyone with ignorance, ive done all the 40 hours a week “prison sentence” you all have done. That yielded the worst date to day ratio. Now at 12 hours a week im meeting tons of women but if things get serious ill have to buck up!

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