58 comments

The Joy of Part-Time Work

I’ve got a little secret for you.

Between the frosty North Pole of Unemployment, where your bank account dwindles and your debts multiply while you sit at home and fidget nervously, and the Sweltering Jungle of Full Time Employment, where you wield a Firehose of cash but have absolutely no free time to do anything besides work and eat, there exists a temperate la-la land where the climate of life is balanced and happy. It’s called Working Part Time!

“Meh”, you might say, “I already know about part-time work. That’s what burger flippers and Wal-Mart greeters do. But I’m a professional – my choices are only 50 hour workweeks plus commuting, or a slow death of whining at home on my couch while bankruptcy swallows me”.

But it may not be true! The world of Professional Employment is actually much more open and flexible than we’ve all been trained to assume. And the reason is that behind the granite-carved corporate logos and expensive office furniture and the uncomfortable formal clothing, companies are secretly run by other humans, just like you and me. On the lower rungs of the corporate ladder, these humans tend to cling to the rules and policies and try to limit your individual choice. But you don’t have listen to them. With some gentle pressure and plenty of underlying job competence, most of us have more negotiating power than we realize.

When Mrs. Money Mustache first came to the United States in 2000, and got her first job offer for $40,000, she was pretty excited. But when I suggested she enthusiastically thank the company for the offer and accept it – while requesting that the pay rate start at $44,000 – she was quite nervous and skeptical. But with the confidence of knowing she was valuable, and the backing of a low-cost lifestyle that would allow her to continue searching for a job if this one didn’t work out, she made her counter offer.

A week later, she walked into her new office and started raking in the shiny new $44,000 salary, which became the basis for future raises for the rest of her corporate life.

When Mr. Money Mustache was ready to tip work-life balance a bit more to the Life side in 2004, he suggested the benefits of the arrangement to his manager at the big high-tech company. The manager happened to be a career corporatist who didn’t see the point of anyone ever working LESS. But after a few conversations and a shared meeting with a very high level director, a deal was made and MMM started taking every Friday off, in an exchange for a 20% pay cut.

You, the MMM readers, are some of the world’s most innovative and competent professionals. Your company needs the skills you provide, and they don’t want to lose you. And you have an electric personality and are quite good looking as well. Because of this, it is quite possible that you too can write your own ticket and start working less whenever you feel ready.

The benefits are mutual. Your company will see an increase in productivity from you on a per-hour basis, because you will be operating in a more efficient creative range, much further from burnout. You might even get MORE done in three or four great days of work, than in five ho-hum days. You will gain the mental space to innovate.

But your personal life will take an even bigger leap upwards. Imagine: EVERY weekend is a long weekend. An extra fifty-two days, or Ten Weeks, of vacation per year. Your free time jumps by 50%. You can use the extra day for self-development: sleep in a bit, do a huge workout and/or bike ride, get the groceries, read a book, practice a new skill, then cook a fancy dinner for yourself or your family. Isn’t that better than the fifth day of work?

The ideas above are written from the perspective of a person who already holds a corporate job. And not all corporate jobs have that flexibility: a high school teacher or a police officer may not have the option to redefine their job, no matter how good they are. Then again, I do happen to know both a teacher and a police officer who did just that. There are always surprises waiting for people with the cojones to actually ask for something.

And luckily, there is still hope for everyone in the long run: Self-Employment. Whether you ease into retirement by slowly scaling back your corporate job, or jump into retirement by ending a less flexible job completely, the idea of doing something productive in retirement that may eventually earn you some cash is a great idea.

When you’ve led a life of single-payer employment, the idea of earning money for random things seems quite strange. “I don’t have any skills, other than middle manager at Megacorp! Who would pay me to do anything?”.

But the real world is simply more fun than that. As long as you remain curious and energetic, and don’t work in a monotonous job so long that it crushes your spirit completely, you will find that things just magically start to happen once you have time to actually think instead of just working. This is why I feel that the earlier a person can retire from a less-than-fulfilling career, the better.

One early retiree I know found herself writing articles and magazine stories occasionally after leaving her full-time job as a writer. Another fiddles around with academic research projects and gets paid to review papers before publication. My brother will always be a touring musician even when he is done with his job of being an elementary school teacher by day.  Others might be interested in real estate, photography, starting a climbing or kayaking school, bed-and-breakfast hosting, Android or Iphone app development, running an online store, becoming a fitness instructor, or self-publishing a book. Even after finding my own retirement nirvana with carpentry projects, I now find that even writing the Mr. Money Mustache blog could become a paying job if I wanted to put effort into making it earn real money.

The joy of part-time work is that it tends to lead you into unexpected new directions. Another joy is that it makes your retirement planning much easier. With a part-time income doing something you really enjoy, you might already be fully qualified to retire from full-time work with the savings you already have. You can retire MUCH earlier if you have a little spigot of money that you can turn on and off whenever you like.

Imagine that you need $24,000 per year to live on comfortably. You’ve been saving for a while, so you have $300k in retirement assets ‘stashed away. Using the conservative 4% “safe withdrawal rate”, you might only feel you can draw $12,000 per year from this fund to pay for your retired lifestyle. But with part-time work, you might find it extremely easy to earn the extra $1,000 per month. If you’re part of a couple, you only need to earn $500 each, or a little over a hundred bucks a week on average, to make up the difference. That is easy money to earn, in the United States anyway.

But the biggest reason for my love of the idea of part-time work, is that it is simply a more natural and human-oriented way of doing things. When we get up every day and travel to the same place to work for a pre-determined number of hours, we are making ourselves part of a giant machine. It can still be fun at times, depending on who the nearest cogs are that we get to grind against, but it is still a never-ending factory that tends to dull our creativity over the decades. And the Western tradition of 40 (or more) hour workweeks is ridiculous. Paid work becomes the dominating part of your life, which is very efficient for saving up a large sum of money, but very inefficient if you have any other plans like raising children or accomplishing things other than work.

When you work at your own pace, however, everything changes. You get to decide what your goals are each week, and balance your work production against other things that are important to you. Sometimes work may be completely shelved when you take a trip or make a vegetable garden or move across the country to care for an elderly family member. Other times you might laser yourself in and become a Master of Disaster and produce a whole year’s worth of income in just a few weeks or months. It can be difficult, since it all depends on your own motivation. But I think that slowly mastering your own motivation and learning to run yourself as a fully independent person is one of the most worthwhile things you can do with your life.

I sure have plenty of learning in the Self Discipline department to do myself, but man is it ever a great feeling to get a little bit further along in the project each week or each year. So that’s why I feel the need to stand up for the often-disrespected concept of Part Time Work.

 

 

  • Canadian Dream October 25, 2011, 6:49 am

    I recently did 80% time like yourself for over a year…it was wonderful. In my case, I got the 20% reduction in time because I had a second job (which happen to be good leadership training – School Board Trustee, so they agreed to this situation). While I had to give up that 80% time when I switched day jobs, I did manage to hold onto 90%. So ever second Friday off.

    The only warning I will give people is part time work is highly addictive. Life is just easier with more time to get personal stuff done. Even if I leave my second job, I would seriously consider never going back to 100% time if I can manage it. Yes it may take longer to retire early because that choice, but it does make the interim time a lot easier to deal with.

    Reply
  • Saskaussie Fraussie October 25, 2011, 6:50 am

    How true it is! Just negotiated a return to work in the military 2 days/week myself (after 6 years OS) with a former boss who spent an hour trying to convince me to come back full time. It wasn’t that difficult to convince him that part time was better than nothing, particularly when you’re a proven commodity. It really can be done if you’re willing to put yourself out on a limb, even in those professions where excessive hours are the norm.

    Reply
  • EEK! October 25, 2011, 6:57 am

    One of our employees did the same thing and traded fridays for a 20 percent pay cut. Only thing is, her workload increased, not decreased and the result is she just ended up working from home on her days off. I think this is why she is a FORMER employee.

    Reply
  • Grant October 25, 2011, 7:04 am

    My wife and I both started working part time after our first daughter was born… For me it was not planned – we had moved back to our home town for the birth of our daughter, and when I returned to work I was doing a horrific commute (For those playing at home – Newcastle to Sydney, Australia – one of the most travelled roads in Aus). A clear run with no traffic (say, 3am) could take 1.5hrs from door to door. During commuting hours, it usually took closer to 3hrs. By the end of the first week I’d had enough.

    I walked up to my boss and said “I can’t do it. I’m going to have to resign”. He replied “is there anything else we can do? Part-time? Work from home?”. I said “yes, and yes”.

    I think they expected me to return to full time work once we returned to Sydney, but I fell in love with part-time corporate dude, part-time stay-at-home dad. This was almost 4 years ago, and now that we have 1 year old twins as well, I am full time stay-at-home dad – for now. My plan is to do some further study over the next 6-12 months with a view to doing consulting (working hours that suit me).

    Of course, for both my wife and I, part-time was really only an option as we had been with our respective firms for near on 10 years each, and had a lot of valuable knowledge in our work environments. This is not to say many other people could not do this too – it all comes down to a cost/benefit for the firm. So long as you are making a valuable contribution, there should not be a reason to deny this flexible work strategy.

    Reply
  • JP October 25, 2011, 7:25 am

    I’m pretty excited that my partner and I are both entering careers in areas of medicine where part-time work is very much the norm. I’m hoping that if we play our cards right, one or both of us will be able to work part-time from pretty early on. Did I mention that we left academia to get low-cost associates degrees to get these jobs? :D

    Reply
    • kasia October 25, 2011, 7:47 am

      What were the degrees, and what are the jobs?

      Reply
      • JP October 25, 2011, 1:09 pm

        He’s about to finish an associate’s in nursing to become a registered nurse, and I’m working on my associate’s in physical therapist assisting (which will make me a PTA, or physical therapist assistant).

        Reply
  • Mortgage Free Mike October 25, 2011, 7:46 am

    First, thanks for noticing my great personality and looks. My strategy is to make myself indispensable at my job, so in three years when I’m ready to work part-time, they will be my first choice of employment. I agree that working part-time opens your eyes to new opportunities. There is life outside the cube!

    Reply
    • Grant October 25, 2011, 4:59 pm

      It is an interesting concept to be “indispensable”… On one hand, it could mean you can never progress in the company, on the other hand, they will try harder to keep you.

      As I mentioned above, I went part time when we had our first kid, and that is really when my attitude to a career changed – I simply wasn’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder anymore (especially with the ridiculous hours required to do that).

      Reply
  • tim rapp October 25, 2011, 9:27 am

    I did the 20% pay cut to get Fridays off, for a year (then my company forced me to work full-time again, so I got a new job). It was one of the best years of my life, lots of camping trips. But I also “wasted” a lot of Fridays (sleeping late, slacking, etc). In hindsight I think every other Friday off would have worked better for me, and for most people, and I’d have more dough in the bank. I’ll have to work another 1-2 years before retirement because of it. Currently I love my job, so it’s not a big deal, but who knows what the future holds.

    Reply
  • Chris October 25, 2011, 10:42 am

    I like the idea of part time work. It keeps you engaged, gives you a cash buffer, is low stress and gives you more free time. This is my tentative plan after I retire from the military.

    “But I think that slowly mastering your own motivation and learning to run yourself as a fully independent person is one of the most worthwhile things you can do with your life.”
    -Word!

    “And you have an electric personality and are quite good looking as well.”
    – How did you know!!? :)

    Reply
  • No Name Guy October 25, 2011, 11:25 am

    I’ve been here and done this. Both an 80% schedule (every Friday off) and a 70% schedule (every Friday plus alternating Monday’s off). It was a win-win. At the time, there was a slow down at my company and my position only had about 70-80% of budget coverage. I saved the boss from having to figure out how to find work statement and I got the time off I wanted anyways.

    The 70% schedule was SWEET. Alternating 4 day weekends and 3 day weekends. I don’t think I used a day of vacation while I was doing it since every other weekend had the ability to do a nice outing – back packing, visiting friends out of state, etc. There was also LOTS of time to do volunteer work – I could do volunteer work Friday and Saturday and still have 1-2 days for “me” time.

    I’m thinking about going back to the part time schedule, but at this point, I’m leaning toward staying full time to help build the stash faster. Cutting 20-30% of the pay would significantly slow down the rate of savings.

    Reply
  • Bakari Kafele October 25, 2011, 11:51 am

    What a timely article!
    Just yesterday I started a federal petition for a 35 hour work week.

    In the text I talk about unemployment and productivity, but the real reasons I am advocating it are all of the reasons listed in this blog plus the environmental effects of our massive production (which is the necessary corollary to our massive consumption)

    In order to get the attention of the White House it needs a threshold of signatures: http://wh.gov/TWN

    Reply
    • Bakari Kafele October 25, 2011, 3:25 pm

      I’ve complied all of the excellent counter points I have received so far, and compiled them all into my first blog post in almost a year: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/dramatically-reduce-unemployment-with.html

      Reply
    • MMM October 25, 2011, 3:48 pm

      Yup, I actually published this article today in honor of your 35-hour workweek petition, Bakari!

      Reply
    • Kira August 20, 2014, 12:37 pm

      Have you considered reviving your petition? Even though so much time has passed I tried to sign it, but couldn’t.

      Reply
  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple October 25, 2011, 12:08 pm

    Oh, when my son was 1.5 to 3 years old, I worked part time. And I loved it.

    I first broached the subject with my boss before I went back to work after maternity, and he said “sure, but we’ll of course have to demote you if you cut your hours”. Which is complete BS, so I went back full time and burned myself out. I was so sick that winter. It was awful.

    But then my boss quit to start a new company. And my new boss, said “sure!” So I cut back to 30 hours, kept my supervisory position, and learned how to delegate even more. And I got to spend more time taking my kid to the park, cooking dinner, playing, and relaxing.

    Then I got a new boss. And they said “no more part time”. Why. “It doesn’t work”. It’s been working fine for 1.5 years. “But what if every parent wanted to work part time.” Well, do they? True, the 2 mothers with small children work part time. But there are only two of us. And Monica still works part time. “She’s not a technical employee.” She has a PhD in materials science. “She’s not in the critical path.”

    You can see I was getting nowhere with that conversation. So I quit. To go work for my old boss at the new company. Part time (but not in the critical path). And stupid me let myself get talked into full time again. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about going back to 30 hours, and now with extra 6 years of seniority, I’m pretty sure I could do it without a “demotion”. Sometimes young, engineering, type-A males are so stupid. Their management skills suck anyway. You can’t POSSIBLY do the same job you do now, but only 30 hours per week!!

    The FUNNIEST and saddest part about it all was the 2 or 3 women I worked with whose kids were older and who never worked part time. They didn’t understand why I was leaving. “It’s only 10 hours a week.”

    It’s TWO HOURS PER DAY. What would YOU do with two hours per day? Sleep, play, cook, exercise, relax, clean…

    Reply
    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple October 25, 2011, 12:10 pm

      And of course, the NEXT woman to have a baby wanted to go part time…and they let her. And they admitted that they “handled Marcia’s situation poorly.” Well, duh.

      Reply
      • Kira August 20, 2014, 12:44 pm

        When I had my daughter, I asked to work part-time after my 12-week maternity leave. The company agreed, but said I would have to return to full-time after a specified period of time (If I recall correctly, I would have had to return to full-time when my daughter was only 6 months). Needless to say, I didn’t go back :-) I don’t regret spending almost the entire first year of my daughter’s life at home with her, but I do wish I had been more mustachian starting in high school so I could have continued to stay home with her even when I became a single parent.

        Reply
  • DP October 25, 2011, 12:47 pm

    So I’m curious if anyone has ever tried this at the beginning of their career. I just graduated from law school, and the typical business model for law firms is to hire entry-level associates, pay them a nice salary, and expect lots and lots of billable hours in return.

    On the other hand, I’ve started seeing job postings for smaller firms that are looking for part-time clerks or associates. The part-time life appeals to me, but my sense is that I would probably never “stash” away enough to retire if I worked part-time from the beginning.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be much obliged.

    Reply
    • MMM October 25, 2011, 3:58 pm

      I’m inspired by your ambition to re-invent the traditional legal career, DP!. I have a lawyer friend who did NOT do that, and now he’s my age, working way too much, and missing out on everything except the wood-paneled walls of his office. If he could cut his work and pay in half, he’d still make $75k, which is plenty to get to an early retirement in ten years or so, as long as you are either single or have a spouse that works to save as well (see the earlier “the race to retirement – revisited” for an example).

      Reply
    • Grant October 25, 2011, 5:15 pm

      When my wife started her graduate lawyer position, she worked really hard to meet the billing requirements… And set an early expectation that she didn’t work weekends or till the wee small hours every night.

      Many of her colleagues were (and still are) working ridiculous hours. The key, of course, is that she continuously exceeded the billing target, so they had no recourse to complain.

      Reply
    • Lee Lau October 25, 2011, 6:33 pm

      No. I think you should work your ass off when you start. Learn as much as you can. To be blunt, first year associates know squat and you need to work a bunch, immerse yourself in it and get really really good really really quickly. Once you get good, then you can work fast. When you work fast (and accurately because you know your stuff right?), then things come easier, you are happier, you get paid more and then, well…. you start targeting retirement.

      I worked 60 – 80 hr weeks when I started out; cut back to 50 or so after 4 years or so and retired after 9 years. But then i was in technology and it was tremendously exciting, invigorating and a blast- everything was so new.

      I think this pretty much applies to any professional situation (doctor, dentist, engineer, IT, etc etc). If you aren’t stoked about this new phase in your life now, when will you ever be?

      Reply
    • DP October 28, 2011, 9:28 pm

      Just wanted to say thanks for all the responses to my original comment. Just read the post on ESP, and I’m even more convinced that I’d like to get to part-time working as soon as possible—I have two daughters ages 0 and 2, and I’d like to be a part of their lives all the way along.

      @Lee Lau – What you said about cutting back to 50 hours really hit me. I am hoping that when I cut back it will be *from* 50 hours. But we shall see… I’m just a lowly law clerk at the moment. I can work as few or as many hours as I want, but the pay is pretty low!

      Thanks again — good luck to all.

      Reply
  • Chicago Rose October 25, 2011, 3:28 pm

    This is in reply to DP. I have practiced law with a small firm for 25 years, over 20 of those years have been part time. The pay is definitely less, by far, but it’s been enough so that between my husband and me, we have stashed enough so that he is fully retired and I work 20 hours a week. We are in our early fifties and have been in this semi retired state for over three years, and before that he had a sweet arrangement where he worked less hours and from home for about 10 years.

    Be careful about part time, if you can even get it, at a larger firm. I recently read about a “flexible firm” with only “1750” hours as a billing requirement, yet the compensation was a full 50% less for such so called “part time” work. Ughh

    Finally, at a smaller firm you can get good work, but you do have to settle, not just for pay, but for the quality of work and the networking opportunities. My biggest regret in my career is that I didn’t network enough and just stayed in my small office. However, considering both my husband and I were able to go to almost all games and performances, class parties, field trips and I was even room mom for a while, looking back, I would say the trade off has been worth it.

    Reply
  • herbert salisbury October 25, 2011, 6:22 pm

    I love rainbow meow.

    Reply
  • Naomi October 25, 2011, 9:37 pm

    My goal is to take 5 months off every year so I can hike. I would happily, joyfully, work full-time the other 7 months of the year. My plan is slowly coming together.

    I think job-sharing is the future. I don’t want more money, I want more time. I have to believe there are other people who feel the same.

    Reply
  • DD October 25, 2011, 9:58 pm

    When our son was born last year, my wife cut her hours from 35 office hours to 10-15 per week working from home – she could have retired fully, but she wanted to continue challenging herself by working a bit with adults. Because she was able to stay home, our son is already recognizing some letters at 1.5 years and he is extremely healthy thanks to my wife preparing all his food fresh from scratch.

    I also realized that I needed to stop working 80 hours per week (this is not an overestimate – I did work that much for 20+ years now). So, I cut my own pay by a few percent (to make me feel better about it), and I now work about 40-50 hours per week and even those largely from home when my son is sleeping. My business calendar has recurring weekly entries like “swimming with my son” – and my company knows that I am not missing those for anything, so they adjusted to my schedule. It is awesome.

    What is interesting, however, is that I offered to people that I manage to decide if they all want to cut their work weeks from 5 to 4 days per week. SHOCKINGLY – every single employee decided that they would rather work 40 hours per week over 5 days, instead of cutting their hours by 5-8 hours per week, but gaining 52 additional days per week off. I tried to explain that half of the money they make by working extra 5-8 hours goes to taxes, gas, lunches… Let’s just say that I was 100% sure that people would jump on that deal, but I was 100% wrong. Not a single person took the offer!!!

    Reply
  • Rebecca October 26, 2011, 9:14 am

    This is a GREAT article, and very timely. I’m a few months out from ending my current full-time job with a terrible commute (it’s non-profit and a great cause, so I’ve stuck with it for 3 years but I am so DONE now), and I would love to move into part time, telecommuting would be even better. The 40-hour work week is just idiotic, and long commutes are evil. I also hate working in offices, so I’ll do anything to free myself from that.

    My problem is that I’m totally the “I don’t have any skills” person from the example above. Or rather, I do have skills, but I’m having trouble imagining them into something marketable. Yes, I’m also in the “work in a monotonous job so long that it crushes your spirit completely” camp, which is a bit pathetic since it’s only been 3 years, but DAMN has my creativity taken a beating.

    My goal is to find a good telecommuting job so that I can work my dream of being an opera singer. It’s a dream that I can’t really push back until (early) retirement since I become less marketable as a singer the older I get. But singing is really, really expensive (lots of lessons, coaching, traveling for auditions, etc, etc), so I need money to support it.

    I’ve got a lot of creative and artsy skills (I’m a singer, I’m a good writer, I have a talent for making spreadsheets look pretty and more readable, I sew and make things, love working with my hands, etc, etc) and I’m also really smart, a fast learner, and generally bosses love me. But I have no idea how to make any of that pay. Oh how I wish I’d majored in computer science or graphic design… but I’d rather be a mustachian than a complainypants, so anyone out there have any tips for making creativity pay when I have no experience in things that traditionally show up on job boards? Would a graphic or web design class be a good investment, or a waste of time/money? Should I sign up for Ramit Sethi’s Earn1K, or can I figure this out on my own without so much upfront investment?

    UGH sorry for the long comment, I’ve been reading MMM for a long time, but I worry that as an opera singer and an English major I’ve already screwed up enough that I have no chance to grow a nice fluffy mustache of my own… but clearly I keep reading the blog, so something here is resonating, and I want to TRY at least… eep, I’m always so nervous posting comments, but here it goes…

    Reply
    • DD October 26, 2011, 8:06 pm

      Did you try Etsy.com? Come up with a product or two that is slightly different from the rest and grow it from there. Maybe cool dog sweaters, or artsy handmade iPad covers…

      Reply
    • DD October 26, 2011, 8:25 pm

      Sorry, should have added that another home-based job for someone with English major is doing home-based proof-reading and text corrections (God knows I could use one of those) :)

      Also, I know that another big business is medical transcriptions – you get the voice file from the medical office and you basically type it into the web page or document and send it back. If you do not mind the low pay, it is an easy job you can do at your leisure from home.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • Rebecca October 27, 2011, 7:45 am

        Thanks for the ideas, DD! I do love etsy, I’ve always lacked the confidence to put myself out there selling my crafts, but I think I might try it out, better to try it out and fail than to be so worried that I don’t even try.

        And I’ll look into those writing-at-home things too, thanks again for responding!

        Reply
  • JRA October 26, 2011, 11:21 am

    Another pleasant side-effect of going part time is that you pay less tax, so effectively you get a pay rise for the hours that you DO work – cashback!!

    Reply
  • eva October 26, 2011, 12:39 pm

    Government job! Because of union agreements, our full-time work week is 37.5 hours, but there are full benefits above 18 hours.

    Except–the pay scale is fixed and there is no room for negotiation (because of the union agreement). I have yet to see a 40K salary, perhaps I should go back to school for Engineering.

    Reply
  • eabbey October 26, 2011, 8:40 pm

    This is a solid post on a theme that should get more attention. Professionals can go freelance as consultants and work the hours they choose and for whom they choose. I have been working this way for almost ten years and it is a great way to go. If you set yourself up as an incorporated business (say, an S-corp) and then provide consulting services to clients, you have remarkable flexibility. I have a close friend who is a Stanford Law graduate. She made partner in a big firm in a big city. Shortly thereafter, she left to be a full-time mom. In recent years, she has started consulting on a very limited basis and she loves it.

    Reply
  • Dee October 26, 2011, 8:47 pm

    Great food for thought, as always MMM!

    And to those who talk about talking an extra day off weekly, I would highly recommend taking Mondays off instead of Fridays. Think about it — when is it more fun to be at work — on Fridays when people are in a good mood looking forward to the weekend or on Mondays when people are at their lowest mood of the week? And which part of the weekend is the least fun — Sunday evenings, right? It’s like your fun weekend time morphs into a blah weeknight, but the worst of the blah weeknights because there are all the work days up ahead. But if you are off on Mondays, Sunday evening are just super and Monday evenings don’t become any worse than they would have been otherwise. Then you walk into work on Tuesday, one day closer to the weekend. So much better than taking Fridays off, as far as I’m concerned. I speak from the experience of having worked compressed work weeks, where I took every second Monday off by putting in an extra bit of time on the other workdays. I loved the Mondays off, but putting in the extra time took its toll — it was still full-time, only spread out differently. Taking every 2nd Monday off (without making up the time) would be ideal. I don’t know if it’s something that could be arranged in my workplace (governed by collective agreement) but I may make inquiries and see if this dreamy scenario could be a real option.

    Reply
    • DD October 26, 2011, 8:51 pm

      Sorry, but I have to disagree with Dee. Most holidays fall on Mondays (ie, Labour Day). Some of them are set-up to be on Mondays, or, when holiday falls on the weekend, usually Monday becomes a day-off. At least in Canada, people get paid for holidays, so you may be losing 5-8 days off by going with Mondays. ;)

      Reply
      • Dee October 27, 2011, 5:20 am

        Good point — if you actually lose the day off due to a holiday, then I’m with you, but if your day off just gets shift to the first workday of the week (Tuesday, in those cases of Monday holidays), then I stand by my recommendation. In fact, thinking about Monday holidays is a good way for people to assess whether they love to have Mondays off even more so than having Fridays off. Isn’t it fun the whole week before to anticipate the 3-day weekend, and isn’t it fun to come back to the shorter week? Another plus of Mondays off: if your office has casual Fridays, taking Mondays off instead of Fridays means you have to dress up one day less. This might actually result in a bit of a savings in the clothing budget.

        Reply
        • DD October 27, 2011, 6:57 am

          You are right. I guess I was using my own company as an example – in our case, we could not have shifted day off like that. Had my employees took my offer of 4 day work week, it would have meant that some people get Mondays and some people get Fridays off. My plan was to give those with more seniority first dibs.

          Alas, they chose to keep working 40 hours and 5 days per week instead.

          Reply
          • Bakari Kafele October 27, 2011, 8:12 am

            “Your boss called. He said if you don’t come in on Friday, don’t bother coming in on Monday”

            “Woo-hoo! 4-day-weekend!”

            Reply
      • Alan November 12, 2013, 9:57 pm

        I entirely agree with Dee after having had he option to take one day ( any day off) per week. Fridays were only taken if I had a darn good reason to do something that was only avail on Friday. Taking Mondays off for all the reasons Dee mentioned was a no brainer. And if a holiday fell on a Monday? I got to take Tuesday off also ( duh) !

        Reply
  • Berta October 26, 2011, 11:44 pm

    Agree 100%! I am a veterinarian & have worked part-time at several hospitals/shelters at the same time giving me 3-4 days/week. The one time I worked full-time at 1 hospital only, I could only take it for a little over a year. I just got too burned out & was grumpy most of the time. Having the flexibility to dictate my schedule makes life on & off the job much better. It also gives me time for my home-based business.

    Everyone should start a home-based business to reduce their taxes which can compensate for reduced hours on a job. As your business grows, you can cut out even more hours

    Thanks MMM. I am a new reader but like what I see so far

    Reply
  • Bakari October 27, 2011, 8:14 am

    It seems like most of the commenters are in general agreement, and yet it appears precious few of you have signed my petition!

    A short work week not only benefits everyone’s personal life, it would benefit society as a whole as well!

    Please read http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/dramatically-reduce-unemployment-with.html

    To be convinced, then sign here: http://wh.gov/TWN

    Reply
  • poorplayer October 27, 2011, 9:23 am

    I have been a college professor for 30 years. It’s the greatest “looks like a full time gig that is actually a part time gig” on the planet. I teach 30 weeks a year, with the other 22 off. Every seven years I get a sabbatical, with the choice of taking a full year off (actually 15 month if you include the summer before) at half pay or almost 9 months off (one semester plus the summer) with full pay. My academic field is theatre, specifically acting, and so I have managed (and actually have been required) to build my professional acting and directing career with the time I have off from teaching (summer theatre work). It’s been an absolute blast! I avoided the corporate world assiduously, knowing from the start I could never sit in a cubicle and wear a tie all day. So when I hear all these horror stories and fears about the corporate world, I am elated to say I have no idea what anyone’s talking about.

    Lest any get the idea that I’m merely sucking on the taxpayer’s tit, I want to state that I did not create the system. It is what it is, and it works well for me. And theatre is quite a labor-intensive and time-intensive art form, so I put in the hours. The combination becomes full-time and then some, but for me it works because all the time – work and play – I am doing what I love, I am out of the corporate world, and I am earning a living for myself and my family. Retire? O but pray tell, why, sir? :-)

    Reply
  • Matt Faus October 27, 2011, 11:01 am

    Who’s that in the picture?

    Reply
    • MMM October 27, 2011, 4:20 pm

      It’s a secret band called Rainbow Meow that occasionally interrupts Wax Mannequin shows. But despite years of worldwide appearances, nobody knows who is inside those damned crazy cat suits!

      Reply
  • Megan October 27, 2011, 11:25 am

    As soon as I paid off my credit card this summer, I requested to go to 4-days a week at work – under the pretense of going to grad schoo part-time l (which I am doing) but really because I wanted to find ways to increase the amount of time I have for living (gardening, sewing, cooking, family, writing, art – all the things that make my life joyful!) I am in the process of adjusting to a smaller income while still putting some money in savings and keeping my debt at zero (other than the mortgage) – and I don’t miss the extra money one bit! Okay, that’s not exactly true, I do notice that I have to be more careful with money – but the payoff of 4 extra days a month more than makes up for it.

    I admit, I am in the enviable financial position of having a super-annuated pension plan, a decent paying job, and (finally) zero personal debt which allows me to do this – but it was only in making the zero debt a goal that I was able to allow myself to move off the treadmill one day a week. I am still trying to salt away as much money as possible for extra house payments (we live in an expensive city, so my current goal is to bring down the principle at every opportunity) – so as to reduce the amount of time needed to work in order to service the mortgage. Your monthly/weekly payment calculation is great motivation that even $100 a month is meaninful over ten years. Thanks for this site – you have exactly the approach to money management that I tend towards.

    Reply
  • Outliermodel October 27, 2011, 6:32 pm

    I understand the jogging of PT work, I just do it on top of my ‘day job’s. I use the extra cash to save for early retirement and the job is so different (wine store clerk vs corporate office) the change invigorates me despite working 55hrs a week. Because I’m passionate about my part time work, I’m able to make money on something that would otherwise be merely a hobby!

    Reply
  • JNU October 28, 2011, 9:14 am

    I made this exact same discovery in my early twenties and have never looked back. My career has been so unconventional, but I now have a wealth of experience and run my own business. You can also use your Fridays off to plan a career change too: to work that you’re passionate about.

    Reply
  • Bryan Welles October 7, 2013, 3:32 pm

    The self employed lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Personally, I earn around 80-90K a year working about 75 days out of the year in a professional service / independent contractor type scenario. Sounds great, doesn’t it! But, what ARE you supposed to do with all that free time? I guess it all depends on WHO you are and how you manage your time. My discontentment may or may not be related to my work situation. But, self employment isn’t a panacea anyway you slice it, man.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 7, 2013, 6:17 pm

      Wow.. sounds like the problem is not with the part-time work, but your current lack of direction. In contrast, I work about zero paid days per year and I’m so busy that I often wish I could cut out sleep in order to have more fun!

      Reply
      • des February 7, 2014, 8:34 pm

        question, I am still trying to wrap my head around Obamacare, but at this point, I am working hard at saving enough money, and living frugal enough that I can quit mega corp, and go work part time some where. I work in IT, and I’m quite positive I can find a job working 20-30 hours, and make enough to live on. The issue is I will lose the great health insurance that I have with mega corp. Now, normally it wouldn’t matter as my wife and I are healthy, but our son has a pre existing condition, and I worry that if I venture into health insurance on my own, it will end up costing me too much.

        I think the plan eventually will be better for our family, but at this time, I don’t know if it’s quite there yet, it seems to be a big gamble. thoughts?

        Reply
        • bwall February 12, 2014, 11:47 am

          Can’t you just price out a health care policy? Call a health care company and get a price quote. Or, go on a state sponsored exchange and get a quote.

          Pre-existing conditions are no longer a concern.

          Reply
    • Lee Lau October 7, 2013, 6:22 pm

      MMM – Adam S your old roomie says hi. He’s still a fellow bike addict.

      Bryan sounds like a First World Problem. Almost wondering if you made that comment tongue-in-cheek. I bike 150 and ski 100 days a year and take on work just to keep me busy while I’m sitting at a desk trying to recover

      Reply
  • Eat Move Act February 22, 2014, 2:51 pm

    In 2012 after 7 years working for my employer I decided that I wanted to work 4 days a week. I budgeted for the 20% less pay but then thought well the ideal would be to work 4 days @ full pay I.e 4 x 10 hr days (I’m in Australia).

    So that’s what I asked for and I got it. My rationale was that I loved working there but needed a change. I had some stuff I wanted to do outside of work and with no change to my working hours there’d be no impact to the company. My boss said yes straight away. I had originally planned on taking Monday or Friday off but my boss suggested Wednesday. Wednesday is actually an awesome day off since you never work more than 2 days in a row!

    Reply
  • Amazing Alice May 18, 2014, 9:44 pm

    Working from home is just the best! I have been working at home part time for 3 1/2 years now and it’s awesome! Excellent for spending time with my son and husband (who retired at 31). Income is less, but life is much more relaxed. And no staff to deal with!!!! Yes!!!!

    Reply
  • LuckyVik June 28, 2014, 11:46 pm

    I am also contemplating working part-time. My current employer where I’ve been at for 4 years, has a 35hr full-time work week, which is much better than the 37.5-40hr standard work week here in Australia (7hrs a day), and I have also purchased an additional 4 weeks a year of holidays (additional to my 4 weeks annual leave) for 7% of my salary, after tax this is only about 4% of my take home pay so works out well. I’m using it to go overseas and also have 2 weeks off over Christmas. So I’m already working part-time in a way. I am thinking about asking to work from home 1 day/forthnight which won’t reduce my take-home pay, but would be one day where I don’t have to commute (about 50 mins each way by bus) and will reduce wear and tear on my work clothes pluset me do some clothes washing/housework in between work.

    Reply

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