Pay yourself first… Time & Money

It seems that a number of people in the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) community are aiming for FIRE because they don’t like their jobs.

Maybe “don’t like” is not the right words to use. Maybe the right word to use is hate, as these people hate their jobs. They want to retire early so they can enjoy their lives and spend time on things that they enjoy.

Why do people hate their jobs? According to Forbes, here are top ten reasons people hate their jobs.

  1. They are not respected as people at work. They are viewed as production units, rather than valued collaborators.
  2. They don’t have the right tools, equipment, information and basic operational requirements they need to do their job. When they ask for tools or guidance they get yelled at or ignored. What kind of company would impede its employees’ ability to do their jobs, then get mad at them for asking?
  3. Their employer disregards their personal life and has no compassion for their obligations outside of work.
  4. Their immediate supervisor is a tyrant, unqualified for their job, or both.
  5. They are tired of being lied to.
  6. They have no visibility into the future and no confidence their leaders will do the right thing, either from a business standpoint or a human standpoint.
  7. They are tired of dealing with the politics in their workplace.
  8. They are underpaid and overworked.
  9. They go to work every day and push a rock uphill, trying in vain to get forward motion on their projects. They’re tired of pushing.
  10. They have to watch every word they say and every move they make, because the knives are out and they could get in trouble — or get fired — for almost any reason.

Does this list sound familiar? I am sure we can all relate to this list in some way. Don’t get me wrong, although I love my job and what I do on a daily basis, from time to time I do wonder if there is more out there.


Looking at Financial Independence/Retire Early differently

For those people that absolutely hate their jobs, they eventually start looking at FIRE as a means to an end.

FIRE means that they can leave their jobs, hand the F.U. letter to their employers, and show their bosses the finger on the way out.

FIRE means they can finally enjoy their lives and finally be happy.

Sorry, but I believe this is the wrong way to see and approach FIRE.

Rather than looking at your job as the cause of all misery, look at it from a different perspective.

Look at your job as a vehicle to allow you to get to get ahead financially. Look at your job as a mean to provide money to allow you to reach FIRE one day. Without your job, you won’t receive any income, and that means you can’t save money toward achieving financial independence or retire early. Your job, and side hustle if you have one, is simply a vehicle that you can use to enable you to get to where you want to go/be in the future (i.e. FIRE).

Don’t focus on the end results, focus on what you can do today instead.


Work vs. personal life

One of the reasons why people feel so miserable in life and start hating their jobs is because they intermix their work life and personal life. They bring work back home. When they get frustrated at work, this frustration is carried back home. Many arguments at home are started this way.

Solution? Differentiate work life and personal life. Leave work at work, leave personal stuff at home.

Don’t mix the two and you will find a simpler life.

How do you do that? Here are a few ideas:

  • Leave your work laptop at work
  • Disable wifi & data on your phone after a certain time each day
  • Turn off your phone after a certain time each day
  • If you are working from home, have a dedicated area for work so nobody can interrupt you
  • Wear a “work” cap when you are working from home. Take it off when you are not working. This way your spouse and kids can tell whether you are working or not

Yes, I realize it is easier said than done. I too, struggle with differentiating work life and personal life from time to time. This especially true when I have early morning calls and/or late evening calls, or I need to send out time sensitive emails by certain times.

But the first step is to become aware of the issue. The second step is to get started changing it. If you never realize there’s an issue and get started fixing it, things will never improve. Therefore, start differentiating your work life and personal life today!

Practice makes permanent.


Pay yourself first… Time and money!

Don’t look back in 10 years and regret that you have done absolutely nothing with your life. Time is something you cannot buy no matter how much money you have. It may sound quite depressing, but the truth is, you never know if you will still be alive or not tomorrow.

Remember to cherish your time and use it effectively.

By now you probably have heard about the concept of pay yourself first. The standard is to pay yourself 10% of your income first, every time you receive an income.

Paying yourself first is a great concept and has been mentioned in almost every personal finance book and almost every personal finance blog.

Here is a different thought, and perhaps slightly radical… what about looking at “pay yourself first” from a time point of view?

What if you pay yourself 10% of your time first?

What if you spend 2.4 hours every day on improving and creating a better and a richer life for yourself?

Rather than looking for an escape, aka FIRE, use the pay yourself time first concept to find ways to make yourself happier and ways to enrich your life.

Spend 2.4 hours every day to think about ways on creating joy and happiness in your life. Determine what makes you happy and what makes you content. Maybe even spend some time meditating and learning more about yourself.

Can you spend more time to create a richer life for yourself? What does a richer life mean to you?


What does having a richer life mean to me?

How do I create a richer life? What does having a rich life meant to me? I think the two go hand in hand. For me, it means having the ability to do things that I enjoy. And that, will enrich my life.

Here’s a small list of what I believe will enrich my life.

  • Spending quality time with Mrs. T and my kids
  • Having time to work on my hobbies like photography and cooking
  • Doing outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, climbing, kayaking, and scrambling.
  • Feeling content
  • Laughing hysterically at small silly things
  • Being alone when I need to be
  • Helping others in need
  • Sharing my knowledge with others

As you can see, having a richer life does not have anything to do with having lots of money or being FIRE’d.

FIRE does not mean a more worthwhile, richer life. If you are not happy today, you are not going to magically become happy when you are FIRE’d.


Why I want to achieve financial independence/retire early?

Recently a group of my friends had a discussion on Facebook on personal finance and investing. A friend of mine was very enthusiastic and provided tons of great advice.

As he put it…

I want my outdoor sporty friends to be financially independent, so we can spend more time playing outside.

When I read it, my eyes got a bit moist and I had a smile on my face. I love that the FI concept is well understood among some of my friends.

I don’t want to retire early. My desire and focus is on becoming financially independent.


I want to be financially independent so I can work because I choose to, not because I have to.

I want to teach others about the idea of financial independence so they can achieve this major financial milestone too. More importantly, I want to share the idea that financial independence is a journey, rather than a destination. You must enjoy the journey try to improve yourself as a human being along the way.

I want my outdoor sporty friends to be financially independent… so we can spend more time playing outside. Because it is way more fun to have friends that are financially independent too than just being financially independent by myself.


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15 thoughts on “Pay yourself first… Time & Money”

  1. Good post Bob, really good. So what does FIRE mean to you, just give us a one liner? For my wife & I we were FIRE at age 27 after starting from zero married at age 20. I worked till I was 63 enjoying every minute of it. When I was in my early 40’s, like many male counterparts I thought ‘mid life crisis’ (male menopause) it was a time to do something else, something about it’. It took a while & some planning of the ‘why not give up that paycheqe job’ So I did, took a few years off, used life savings & RRSP’s – got over the ‘mid life crisis’ refreshed, started anew, changed my total outlook on life (did I want to do what my parents & the rest of the working people were doing), I went back to a paycheque for different reasons in a completely different profession. Spent more (yes more) quality time with my family than previous even though I travelled lots for work. On FIRE, once folks get there mentally, sorting & fixing all that needs fixing, having the family know that you & they have their own lives, spending time travelling socially with them around the world twice, seeing what is was that was on the bucket list – work suddenly became part of my life to enjoy (I am now in control). Today we are healthy seniors turned 70 with absolutely zero regrets, a life fulfilled, our children are 31 & 39, have their own lives, they are in constant contact. We have three items left on the bucket list from a starting list of 20 when we were 40 years old. Money is not important, what is though is getting rid of it, by giving every penny that we don’t need to the children, who are stubborn steadfast not to take a single penny. When reaching ‘Fire’, money & time (having too much of both) can be an issue. Fire is definitely not about the money.

    • To me, FIRE means I choose to work because I choose to, not because I have to. 🙂

      That’s amazing you reached FIRE at age 27! Living a life without any regrets sound wonderful.

  2. Thanks for the great post Tawcan I agree with Mr. TAko, you definitely sound like someone that does not hate their job. I can relate to many of the 10 reasons in this listing. But I really like a fresh perspective on the debate and how you frame your current job and how it is a necessary step towards FIRE.

    That being said, I also think you hit on an important item. Regardless of whether you love or hate your job, it is important to try and find a way to separate work from life. I’m very bad at it, as I often let work trickle home with me emotionally because I am pissed off about a bad day. The separation of work and life is not easy, but it is something I am trying hard at achieving.

    Thanks again for the great read!


    • Hey Bert,

      I’m probably one of the few oddballs in the FIRE community that actually likes my job lol. Finding the right work life balance is something that I need to continue to work on. It’s definitely a challenge from time to time.

  3. I have had bad jobs “unloading 53′ trailers”. Today, I have a good HR job at a not-for-profit. I don’t hate my job, I hate having to have a job. Reaching FI is a long term goal. For me, since I had to work, I had to find something that was tolerable. I could not work at a job for 20 years with The goal of reaching FIRE as my only hope.

    • “I hate having to have a job”

      That’s another way to say work because you choose to, not because you have to. For the most of us we work because we have to right now. When you can shift from have to to chose to, your employer no longer holds the power, you do. That’s why FIRE is so powerful. 🙂

  4. You sound like someone who doesn’t really hate his job Bob. Clearly you seem to work in a place you mostly enjoy, not hell on earth. Count yourself quite lucky. Not everyone has such a good experience.

    While I haven’t had a traditional job in awhile, I can definitely relate to those top ten reasons why someone hates their job. All of them, and more.

    For me, reaching Financial Independence was like a breath of fresh air in a house that’s burning down around you. *Of course* you want more than just one breath…you want huge lungfuls of the stuff and safety from that fire burning around you. That’s FIRE to me.

    • I do like my job and enjoy what I do. That’s why I’m not aiming for early retirement. 🙂

      I’m sure reaching FI is like a breath of fresh air in a house that’s burning down around you. I’m looking forward to get to that place soon.

  5. Good post Bob. I especially like the concept of paying yourself first in time. That cold be the subject of a book. A great idea. I agree that most people don’t really want “retirement”, rather they want financial independence. They want the ability to spend their time working on projects that mean something to them. Most don’t have that feeling where they work now, so they think “retirement” is the answer. Nope. Just spending more time doing what they care about. Paying themselves first in time.

  6. Gteat post Tawcan! FIRE to me is about the journey. Not a mean to an end like you said. Not everyone has the privilege of paying the self sadly. My dad was supermarket meat packer. He would come home reeking of dead meat and more often than not in a foul mood. Years later, after he moved to Bakery, he still came home smelling like meat and blood. It was like no amount of soap could remove that stench. His face towels still smell like it. I think that’s what a bad job does. Of course my parents didn’t know of FIRE. They’re the bottom rung. They’re the work until you die type unfortunately.


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