Pay yourself first.. and not just financially

The general school of thought to becoming wealthy is to take 10%-15% out of your pay and set it aside for yourself. Then, figure out how to live on the rest of your income. But the main idea is to pay yourself first.

Why don’t we do this with our time? Time is just as valuable a commodity, because as we all know, time = money.

We should stop working so many late hours just for the sake of face-time in the office, so that people see us there early morning and see us leave late at night. Don’t get me wrong.. we’re still working in those 10-12 hours, but instead of saying “No, I’m sorry, I don’t have the time” to other project requests and obligations from our colleagues and especially our manager/boss, we bite our tongue, smile and say “Yes, I’d love to be part of that project, sign me up!“, when we’re secretly moaning inside about how we’d love to be home just an hour earlier to unwind and catch that latest episode on Prime Time, or just to be able to prepare dinner in a slow, unhurried way, or take our time shopping for groceries instead of rushing as we always do, to get dinner on the table.

I think the problem is that we set such high standards for ourselves to always be working those 10-12 hours, that when we’re left with free time, and able to leave early, at a reasonable time like 8, we start looking for more projects and more work to take upon ourselves, to show how responsible, capable, fast and energetic we are in helping the company (or client).

We basically devote our lives to these companies, who on a whim, could fire you in 2 weeks, and unapologetically say: “It’s been great, but headquarters wants to see more profit.. so we have to let you go.”

At this point (I hope it never happens to any of us, but it’s almost certain it will), you should be wondering: “Well.. what about all of those.. 10-12 hours I worked every day, for no extra overtime or extra pay, what about all that dedication and devotion to the company? Don’t you owe me at least a little something for all of that? Some consideration of sorts? I mean, I must’ve billed and made you a good extra $300 a day! And I didn’t even see a penny of that extra profit I made for you.”

Well, no. These companies don’t owe you a damn thing. And that’s why YOU don’t owe them any consideration of sorts. Stop thinking of the company as a person with compassion and empathy for your plight, and start thinking of them as a corporation, a machine to churn out profits. (This is what *I* use to visualize things when I feel like something is not right or if I’m being treated unfairly).

Not everything has to be finished that very day, that very week, that very month. Unless there’s a very real, looming deadline and other people’s jobs and whatnot depend on your skills in doing what you do best based on that deadline, then take a break, breathe, and enjoy your reclaimed hours. There’s no need to work yourself into the ground for a company who isn’t sympathetic to the bills you have to pay, or the problems you have in your daily lives.

I am not saying that the people at this company (save for the head honcho who makes the decision :P) are not individually nice, sincere, sympathetic people. I am referring to the main company as a whole, that is a machine, built to churn out profits, irrespective of its employees hopes and dreams.

In the end, your working 10-12 hours it really only benefits the select few, to have you work so hard, and so late. And if you aren’t in that exclusive select few, then reclaim back an hour of your workday, shut off your computer and leave it for tomorrow.

I am not advocating that you start being lazy, work only 5 hours a day, and slack off. I don’t condone shirking your workload, or even worse, shoving YOUR extra workloads onto others to finish for you just because they’re too meek to say No, or they don’t know any better.

All I’m saying is to stop. Take stock of what you’re doing. Ask yourself if you feel any more fulfilled, staying longer than necessary and/or taking on projects you know you cannot handle without putting in more hours. If the answer is no, then it should be clear what you should do – make a list at the end of the day of what you need to get done the next day, and come in tomorrow to finish it off.

You only have so many days on this Earth (it’s a fact of life), and did you want to look back in your retirement age and say: “Gee, I wish I worked more than 12 hours a day. I wish I spent my entire weekends at the company too.” No? Then think about what you WOULD like to say in your retirement age, and get crackin’ on it.

Time is a hard taskmaster, constantly marching ahead, whether you want it or not. You only have a limited resource of time (think of it as dollars, and you get 24 units of time a day). Decide how you’d like to best use them, and if you DO get fulfillment from staying longer and finishing a project, then by all means, don’t let me stop you. But if you’re feeling burned out, and stressed, take a look at what you’re doing and ask yourself if you’re putting that unnecessary pressure on yourself, or if it really is that important.

In personal finance terms: think about your return on investment of your time spent at your company. Is it worth it?

Time = Money

Pay yourself in a different way.

With that being said, adios. I’m switching off early.

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About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.