Frugal Friday: How Much of Your Time Does The Man Get?

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The Man

Happy Friday everyone! How many of you had a short and crazy week this week? I know it was only one extra day off, but man can that day sneak up on you at times. The nice thing is that fall seems to be soon approaching and for that I am very thankful.

My good blogging friend Holly wrote a post last week sharing about how her husband, Greg, was applying for jobs and found some that offered no vacation time at all whatsoever. That’s right – no freaking vacation! That resulted in a spot-on rant by Holly and I could not have agreed more. I don’t know if it was reading Holly’s post or the recent Labor Day holiday but an article I read over the weekend on NBC News really caught my attention. It discussed a survey that found that 91% of American workers do work on their personal time. Of that 91%, 37% of those polled work at least 10 hours off the clock – or during their personal time. The article went on to discuss, that we as Americans are ahead of other industrialized nations when it comes to giving up our free time to The Man. Is it just me, or does this seem to be more than just a bit off? I know that it can be easy to blur that line between personal time and what our employer gets with, especially with the prevalence of smartphones and expectations of the corporate world, but at what point does our free time being eaten up by The Man become too much?

My intention is not to bemoan working or putting in a hard day’s work; quite the contrary! When I was in the corporate world, my employer got my all – 110% of me and I busted my backside for them, but on their time and not my own. Now that I am a business owner, I see how important it is to maintain that delicate balance between work and free time; it’s absolutely vital not only to the success of my business, but also to my enjoyment of life! When that balance gets thrown out of whack, we become zombies with no time at all to ourselves to live life. I think about a former co-worker, “Mike,” who had taken to submitting leads over his breaks and lunch. The hour he was given by the company for himself was quickly eaten up by doing work when he should’ve been caring for himself. After a few short weeks of doing this, he was finding that he had little more than five to ten minutes to himself during the work day. Did our boss encourage him not to do that? No! Instead, Mike was pointed out as an example of model behavior to be emulated by all employees. Now if Mike wants to give his limited personal time back to his employer, fine. But, his decision quickly became the expectation of others; we were all viewed as not being “team players” if we didn’t give up everything for the firm. This is not meant to complain, but rather to state that we’re people…not robots! Work will almost always be there, but when we forfeit time we need for ourselves we do harm to us as well as those around us. That said, if you’ve not taken a vacation in some time – do yourself a favor and take the time due to you!

Enough ranting, it has been another great week in the blogosphere! If you have the time this weekend, check out some of my favorite blog posts from this week. Also, don’t forget to stop by on Monday as I’ve got something very exciting planned!


Blog Post of the Week

Where Should Buying a House Fit in Your Financial Priorities? on Mom And Dad Money

I loved this post by Matt! So often we’re told that buying a house is essential to reaching a certain level of success in our society. While owning your own house can and does have many benefits, are you really reaping all those benefits if you’re neglecting other things that should arguably take a higher priority? Those priorities can vary based on the stage of life that you’re in, but the key is to analyze those priorities and see where they line up in terms of buying a house. If they all line up then you can reap many of those aforementioned benefits, but if not you really could be biting off more than you can chew.

Other Blog Posts That Ruled

Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids about Money (Ages 0-7) on The Heavy Purse

Reducing Risks to Your Family’s Finances on Three Thrifty Guys

How to Find Freelance Jobs (My Best Tips) on Single Moms Income

Knowing Your Limitations Can Be Financially Beneficial on Squirrelers

The Eye of the Storm on Budget Blonde

Credit Unions vs. Banks – Which is Best for You? on One Smart Dollar

Odd Search Terms

Get rich in one night…That’s a lot of banks!

Groceries not to buy at Wal-Mart…How ‘bout all of them?!

How to stick to a food budget when I won’t cook…Good luck on that one!

I never win the lottery…Sucks to be you, I’ve won it three times already!

Why do people scratch their heads…Because they itch!

What can you tell me…What are you wanting to hear?

Frugal I must be…Save money you will!


What are your thoughts? How much is too much when it comes to working during your free time for your company? Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?


Photo courtesy of: Eduardo Simioni


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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.


  • Having worked for three big corporations over the course of 12 years, I can say employers will always give you more work than there is time, reward you for working longer hours than you should and maintain higher expectations than reasonable. It’s up to us to set (and abide by) personal boundaries and to live our lives based on our demands, not our employers. Of course, this is the real world – so we’ve got compromises and its not so picture perfect but for the general population (myself included) its easy to fall prey to corporate demands. Remember what’s important and follow it with your heart.

    • John says:

      Thanks for your comment Taynia. I don’t know that I’d necessarily agree that firms will always reward you for putting in more time than you “should”. I have worked in a number of firms where they expected blood out of a turnip and did not compensate in any form for it. I wouldn’t also put it all on the employee. We as employees certainly have our role in it, though I think the powers that be play a big role in it as well…it’s part of being a good employer in my opinion.

      That said, there are many times where the employee is not maintaining an appropriate balance and when that’s the case they only have themselves to blame in many occasions.

  • Big companies always speak of “work-life balance” and “doing the right thing for employees”, but almost all seem to encourage and, moreover, reward long working hours rather than efficiency and quality.

    Loving the yoda search term. Hilarious.

  • Pauline says:

    My last boss and colleagues were outraged that I took every single vacation day of my allowance. Why give workers (legally mandatory) holidays an pressure them not to take them? A rested worker is much more productive

    • John says:

      I ran into the same issue Pauline. The kicker was that once you reached a certain amount of vacation time you just lost it. If it’s given to me, then I am going to take ever last bit of it.

  • I busted my butt as well and worked a lot of hours outside of the normal 40. For me it was just making sure things were done and staying was the only way not to bring work home. In the end though I got tired of putting in so many long days and realize that if I can work so hard for someone else why not do it for myself. Most people are afraid to use their days and have a pile of emails and work waiting for them when they get back.

    • John says:

      You sound a lot like me Thomas. At the end of the day I just saw no point of working for someone else when I was already putting in such long hours. I’d much rather be compensated for what I was doing and create something on my own.

  • Happy Friday John!
    I can only presume that winning the lottery three times means your family and I think that it’s great that you look at it from that perspective as I would as well. Have a great weekend mate and see ya at What’s For Dinner… the ladies would miss you if you didn’t show you know!!

  • That infograph was pretty sad, wasn’t it? Rick’s gotten a lot better lately about leaving after his 40 hours are in. Like you, he puts in 110% when he’s there, and although he used to put in a ton of OT, he’s gotten much better about finding a balance. Life definitely has to come before work.

  • People need regular breaks and holidays if they are to be happy, creative, and motivated. Not actively encouraging an appropriate amount of ‘personal time’ is counterproductive for any business in the long run.

    • John says:

      I totally agree. I think not encouraging it can eventually just lead to either resentment or burnout which does no one any good in the long run.

  • It’s definitely important to have a work/life balance, especially when you are giving up so much time and energy to an employer. Right now I spend most of my days (and evenings) working either at my full-time job or the blog or developing skills, but I hope to have a much better balance down the road. I do plan on taking all my vacation time, though!

    Have a great weekend!

    • John says:

      I hear ya DC, I am much the same way. I just have to remind myself that I do need to unplug and have time with the family because otherwise it would be all for naught. Have a good one as well!

  • Matt Becker says:

    Thanks for the feature John! Means a lot. I agree with you on the importance of balancing work with the rest of life, but I’m finding myself having a harder and harder time with it. The more I want to do with my blog the more time it takes up, and it’s a real struggle to figure out where I want to draw the line. Part of it I think is being new to the whole “side hustle” thing and therefore not having great habits in place in terms of managing multiple things. I’m hoping I can improve in some of those areas but there’s also a point where I have to simply set limitations and live by them. Not an easy thing to figure out.

    • John says:

      Not a problem Matt. As I told DC, I can totally relate. It can be so hard to balance and you really do need to have some limitations as there is only so long you can burn the candle at both ends.

  • Before I quit my job to write full-time, my whole life revolved around my 9-5 job. I worked every third weekend and at least one night per week on top of my 40 hour work week. I got phone calls at home regarding my job almost every single day. Whenever I did have a day off, I would get texted or called at least once or twice. Even when we would go on vacation, we would get called and texted every single day. It sucked.
    I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore. Now that I blog and write full-time, everything is on my terms.

    • John says:

      That’s what I am talking about Holly…that just sounds so absolutely horrible. I wasn’t quite there, but it was always there and had to be dealt with and they wouldn’t let you have a balance. Having life on your terms is pretty nice, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Thanks so much for the mention! I’m totally in the zombie phase right now but there is an end in sight!!!

  • If you are working on your free time, that’s too much! I agree that we all need to have work, but we also need to have a life. There are studies that show that those who work more hours are less productive on a per hour basis. The general idea of most larger companies is to announce that they expect more than they do to get employees to all strive for better. But, if you’re working on the clock…stop it!

  • I work hard to make sure that I don’t work when I am not at work. There are times when something urgent comes up and I need to jump on the computer and get something done, but that is something that I don’t mind doing.

  • I think it’s human nature for many people to put in extra time with your job. If you work for yourself, it’s a no brainer. It doesn’t shut off at 5 o’clock. Jim put in lots of time and training this summer for his new job, when the contract didn’t actually start until this month. While he could have said no, he would have been very behind and frustrated right now. I think as long as the extra time is helpful and you don’t resent every minute of it, it could be a boost to your job or income. When you do get to the point of hating every minute, it’s time to find something else. I would never expect not to take time off, though. That’s a recipe for burnout for sure.

    • John says:

      That’s a great point Kim, if you can benefit from it then there are times where it can be beneficial. I also agree that not allowing time off is simply a recipe for burnout in the long run.

  • Theres always that one dude who has to ruin it for the rest of us. It’s hard when that happens, but I guess you gotta stick with your boundaries if you want to have a good work/life balance.

  • anna says:

    I’m pretty guilty of checking work email while on vacation (I think it’s deeply-embedded-Catholic-guilt that I don’t want to be a burden on someone, despite my colleagues never minding to pick up the slack, nor do I when others are on vacation), but it’s something I’m working on. I’ve heard some horror stories about bosses not allowing their employees to take vacation even though they have enough hours racked up – that’s completely unfair and would ruin anyone’s morale.

    • John says:

      It can be hard not to do that Anna. We face that a lot with us running our own business. I have seen some of those horror stories and it’s crazy ridiculous.

  • I work for a big corporation but i never have to work more than 40 hrs per week. The biggest issue I have is commuting 10+ hours every week. 🙁

    • John says:

      That’s awesome you’re able to have a nice balance in terms of work – though sorry for your commute. Is that all time sitting in traffic, or do you live an hour away from work?

  • Yeah, I was a bit floored when I read Holly’s post too. I can’t imagine not having any vacation nor what that does to employees morale. We all need to step away from work and are better employees for doing so. I love technology and have no plans to give up my iPhone but accessible 24/7 is sometimes a huge pain! Thanks for the mention; I truly appreciate it! Have a great weekend. 🙂

    • John says:

      I agree Shannon, it is terrible for employee morale. We’re accessible a lot with our business, but we just have to have boundaries or we’d go nutty. No problem on the mention, really enjoyed the post!

  • This stuff really gets me upset too. Companies should give employees generous leave time to enjoy themselves and be more productive. Don’t get me started on the crazy work hours of folks during Black Friday… I could rant til the cows come home about how ridiculous that is!

    • John says:

      I know Tara…I had to hold myself back from a full on rant. 🙂 I just may have to move to Europe where they really know how to give people time off.

  • Interesting thoughts here John. Some professions may demand this more than others. I know educators always seem to get stuck doing things away from work…grading papers, preparing lesson plans, emailing parents, etc. I’ve worked very hard over the years as a teacher to manage my day so that I can get at least 90% of my work done before I come home. I want my home time to be about family not my career.

    • John says:

      I totally agree Brian. I couldn’t be a teacher, I just don’t have the patience and really admire what teachers do. My youngest brother just started his first year teaching and really is an eye opener to him in terms of all that’s expected of him.

  • Alexa says:

    My job is opposite – it’s super, super boring. I don’t do any work in my personal time and most of the time I am sitting at work staring at a computer screen reading blogs. It makes for incredibly long days and I am bored to tears the majority of the time.

    • John says:

      Sorry to hear that Alexa. I was in that very same situation two jobs ago. There was a block of time every day for about four hours where there was absolutely nothing to do. I did all I could to try and learn new things and grow myself, but that is a lot of time to have on your hands every single day.

  • Hey John and thanks for an informative post 🙂

    I was “lucky” that all the jobs I had before I “retired” twenty years ago were “joe jobs” that did not require me to take my work home with me. However, there were a few jobs that I did work my behind off, going above and beyond my job description. Sadly, I never had the guts to say “NO!”.

    I recently wrote a post on a similar topic and it reminded me about how much we do for our jobs and that at the end of the day, really goes unnoticed and is probably rather expected if we want to keep out jobs.

    Thanks again and take care.


    • John says:

      Thanks Lyle!

      I think a lot of us face that situation in most jobs we have. We want to look good and many employers expect it of us. At the end of the day, it’s much of why I left the corporate world to run our own business – so I could be compensated fairly for what I produce. Thanks for stopping by!

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