Take 40 hours per week over a 45 year career, throw in one hour of commuting each working day and you come up with 105,300 hours of your life that you give to your employer.
That’s 13,163 work days where you’re slaving away 9 to 5, taking orders, giving orders, punching clocks, playing office politics, and slowly being worked to death.
Unless you can do something to break the cycle, you’re part of the working dead.
Worked to Death
Beginning in your early twenties and lasting through your mid-to-late sixties the overwhelming majority of your time belongs to your employer.
It gets worse when you take a closer look and realize that not only is your employer getting the very best days of your life, but he’s also getting the very best hours of the very best days of your life.
Sweet deal for the boss! Sour deal for you.
At the end of the work day what’s left for you? A few hours to rush home to be with your family and friends, eat, sleep, shower, then return to the office to do it all over again the next day.
Wash, rinse, and repeat this cycle for 45 years. At that point at least you’re finally able to retire and enjoy your golden years.
For many people, however, it turns out that their golden years are filled with a whole lot of lead as they start to slow down physically and mentally.
We’re being worked to death and that’s a pretty shitty deal.
But it’s not like I’m making some startling revelation to you. There’s no new information here – this is the game we all signed up to play, right?
The House Always Wins
We didn’t exactly sign up to play this game as much as we were all encouraged to play it by well-meaning parents and teachers. But here’s the thing, the game is stacked against us and we can’t really win.
Here’s an oversimplification of how I see it working:
For forty five years we go to a job where we trade the very best years of our lives in return for a paycheck. Then we proceed to trade those paychecks for things like homes, cars, food and clothing. Most us even trade away our future paychecks to get bigger homes, fancier cars, and better food (i.e. we incur debt). In turn, all of these things that we trade our money away for end up making us more dependent upon our jobs, because without the paycheck, there is no more stuff – and we all love our stuff!
In this life all we have is time, yet the majority of us seem to be more than willing to trade that time for a little bit of cash.
It’s because we are all wage slaves! Completely dependent upon our paychecks for survival, our employers know this and they use that information to their advantage. That’s why we all get asked to:
- Work on the weekends
- Stay connected to your phone and email 24/7
- Take that ’emergency’ call while we’re on vacation
Employers keep squeezing for more, more, more, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to quit. You can’t – you need the money!
At this point a wise person might decide to strive for financial independence and early retirement, or at the very least build up a nice #*@& you stash so that they’d have the freedom to walk away when the work demands begin to get out of control.
Instead, most of us just keep on taking the punishment. In fact, we end up making things worse for ourselves when we begin to spend more money than we make. And of course, going into debt for possessions does nothing more than cause you to be more dependent than ever on your job.
Why Do We Do It?
We do it for the money of course. Money makes our world go round and most of us don’t know of any other way to get money than to trade our time for it. So that’s what we do.
We trade our time for money, and we trade our money for stuff, and then our stuff becomes garbage and we buy more stuff rather than saving and investing our money.
If you’re bad with money, you’re not alone. Most people are terrible with the stuff. Just look at these recent headlines for proof:
- Fox Business News: Americans are dying with an average of $62k of debt
- Yahoo Finance: 1/3 of American’s can’t cover a $100 medical bill without going into debt
- NY Post: Half of US working families are living paycheck to paycheck
If these articles are to be believed, then they are as ridiculous as they are heartbreaking. If this is normal financial behavior, then we should all be striving to be first class weirdos!
Break the Cycle
If you’re sick of being worked to death and giving away the best days of your life to your employer, then break the cycle today! Here are some ideas for you:
- Track your expenses like a hawk and look for areas opportunities to cut back
- Keep the money you make by eliminating needless expenses
- Pay fewer taxes by taking advantage of tax advantaged investment accounts like a 401k
- Put your extra money to work by investing it in stocks, or real estate
- Deflate your lifestyle and avoid debt as if your life depended on it (because it kinda does)
Don’t be part of the working dead that’s being worked to death. Don’t play by society’s rules, play by a different set of rules:
- Spend less money than you make
- Take that difference and invest it
- Eliminate, then avoid debt
Before I wrap this up, I’ve got to leave you with this Jack Reacher speech on freedom. No post on the working dead would be complete without it.
Are you being worked to death? Do you love your job and can’t imagine ever retiring from it? What else can be done to break ‘the working dead’ cycle so that we can ‘enjoy the journey’?