Is Forty Hours A Week For The Birds?

Full Employment

Full Employment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My friend and fellow blogger, Donna Freeman, has entered the Personal Finance Olympics with the provocative and twisty tale of her own working life, one that challenges the notion that you have to work a standard forty-hour-a-week job in order to make it, in order to be respected and loved and acknowledged as successful by your peers.

The Way We Work details Donna’s post-divorce life: after years with no full-time job or college degree, she decided to rectify both by living frugally (or “living creatively” as she calls it), doing whatever work she could do and going to classes, while still finding time to do what she loved on a budget: going to concerts, traveling to see family and friends, freelance writing.

She’s managed to get a lot done in the last five years: a college degree, travel from Alaska to Wales, witness her daughter’s marriage and obtain enough steady employment to fund all of what she needs and much of what she wants, including medical insurance and a Roth IRA. Here’s the employment kicker: her work hasn’t been in a cubicle, a corner office or even mostly in the comfort of her own home. The complex she’s lived in has provided her with employment as a jill-of-all-trades, doing repairs and other maintenance services. A journalist at heart and by trade, she’s stayed with the Fourth Estate as a freelancer, developing streams of income with new publishing sites, while staying true to her calling as a frugal lifestyler/financial blogger. (Or, if we could shorten that, a “fruglifefinblog.”)

The column she has written that I’ve mentioned here is a finalist in the Personal Finance Olympics, by the way. Take a look at it, and if you like what you see, you can vote for it by clicking on the “Vote” icon. Her story, if not her argument, is a persuasive one for considering a lifestyle off the forty-hour job leash. It’s nice to have the perks and security, though the current economy guarantees neither of those anymore. But what’s gained from more flexible work time is not just about the freedom. It’s about seeing the small moments we usually miss each day we’re holed up inside four walls for eight hours straight.



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4 responses to “Is Forty Hours A Week For The Birds?

  1. cheesy

    Something I really need to consider. I have Donna’s blog bookmarked, and I really should visit it more often. While technically not “employed”, as a contract worker, I HAVE enjoyed having the ability and flexibility to go to college, and I know full well that if I go back to work full time, I will lose that ability. Thanks for sharing about Donna!

    • nancymn

      In a sense, Donna does the same thing; her work is contracted as well. Same for my part-time writing job. I’ve lost one very good-paying freelance job in the past; it happens, and she has a good point about always looking for alternative income streams. I would not mind doing two part-time jobs myself, even if it meant not having two days off in a row.

  2. Very, very belated thanks for this article, Nancy. Things have been nuttier than usual lately because I’m packing to move to Alaska. If you’ve got a prayer in you, send it my way on Sept. 27, when I load the U-Haul and point north.

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