Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

If Your Life Revolves Around Work and Not the Other Way Around – Are You Doing It Wrong?

I ask this question because: I was talking to my joe-job manager recently, jokingly, about how we were going to muntiy. I would become the store manager, and she would take on the regional manager’s job, who we would promote up to the next step and so on.

But here’s the thing – if you’re a manager with most corporate retail jobs: their standards are two pay-grades above you.

What does that mean?

I have not encountered a corporate (retail) joe-job where anyone expects your life and mental health to be prioritized above the company.

‘Work doesn’t revolve around your life; you work, so that you can have a life.’

To which I say: UM. NO.

Fuck you. Fuck you, with your minimum wage, low-end of the salary scale. If you want my life to revolve around this company, than PAY me for that dedication. With minimum wage, you’ll get my dedicated work ethic (though some people don’t even offer that) and commitment to showing up when I say I’ll show up. I’ll come in, clock in, do my work, clock out. Above and beyond that? I don’t owe you crap. I’m already giving you more than most of your staff give you (and get annoyed at them when they stand around talking all the time), and you have no claims on my time outside the hours of work. If it takes me 30 minutes to close because your standards are unreasonable, you’re going to pay me for that 30 minutes. Or I’ll be more than happy to clock out on the dot in the middle of whatever I was doing.

And, if those don’t work for you – then fire me.

I realize that at certain times, when we’re down on our luck or schlepping it, we make whatever we have the good grace to have, work. I’ve worked dead-end jobs, with or without the grace of a minimum wage just so that I’m not sitting around all summer. I went back to working concession at a movie theatre (which was my first job at the age of 14) at the age of 17 or 18 – don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m above the less-than-desirable jobs. I’ve happily poured years of experience and expert competency into working for peanuts to foster connections and invest in my future. Do I need joe-jobs? No. I have more than enough saved up to not work for another 2 years without relying on anyone. If my parents continue to let me live with them rent-free (they wouldn’t, they don’t support me out of pity, they support to me to support my future and because I contribute to the household, and if I became a dead-beat a lot of things would change), that would extend to… 4 and half -ish years.

I’m worth infinitely more than your part-time, low hours job. But I stick with it because I’d rather spend 10-20 hours a week working, than not earning any money at all. But please don’t pretend that I owe you more than my presence and work ethic. I’m not going to bend over backwards for you. I’ll do favours for the people I like to work with, but that’s no loyalty to you. You don’t pay me enough, and the benefits are virtually negligible on my end.

teamwork is a TWO WAY STREET

But the other side of the coin is this:

If you need to work to have the style of life you want – then maybe you should be revolving your life around work.

I’m simple, and my material needs are not very demanding. I don’t like spending money, I find restaurants awkward as hell, and if it’s not sushi or pizza, I usually find my own cooking tastier. ( Note: I’ve started experimenting with making my own pizza dough, and so far it’s going GRAND ). My life is not one where I need to slave and toil away at your beck and call.

And then again, if you enjoy your job?

I’m heading off on a contract that will consume my life for 7 months. I’m going to be missing so many occasions and celebrations, but I’m okay with that. So I guess in a sense, my life will be revolving around work for the next 7 months.

But I’m not going to be getting paid minimum wage – though even if I was, I would still be pretty stoked to do it. This is a huge step in reaching 2. and 3. of my current life goals (saving money for a downpayment, and networking). 

guess what I’ll be missing most of 🙁

This contract hasn’t earned my dedication and commitment through monetary means; I’m exceptionally proud to be a part of it, and I will without a doubt give it all my attention and effort. The fact I’m getting paid decently well is just the cherry on top.

So then, what is the answer? If you life revolves around work, are you doing it wrong? When I started writing this, I was fired up and it was a definite NO.

But maybe, it’s a yes. A subjective yes, but a yes nonetheless. My ranking criteria about the ‘work’ in question would look a little something like:

  1. Enjoyment
  2. Intangible Compensation
  3. Tangible Compensation 

But it boils down to knowing who you are, what you want, and why you want it. It’s not about what it looks like, or what culture and society say you should want. It’s about what you truly want, what really makes you happy – what really makes you feel content. As generic as we all are, we’re all unique too. We’ve all got the same problems, but they’re all individual in the way that they present themselves.

I’m pretty staunchly stuck in raggedly rich ways, but what’s hell to me (minimum wage joe-job who wants me to act like I’m working at Sotheby’s) might be exactly what someone else needs and wants (whereas my profession in the arts would seem like tortuous hell to them).

What about you guys? Does your life revolve around work? What do you consider ‘work’? Or do you think your work should revolve around life?

missing them mountains is one of the sad things of working abroad…

( I do realize I’m asking a pretty bias group here – I assume most of my readers like the personal finance world, and ergo are aiming to reach a place where they can have the life they want without worrying about work… but maybe I’m wrong! )


  1. You might be surprised at some of us in your readership. I’m an early retired boomer and I think some of the trouble is that parents told this generation they can follow their dreams and things will work out. The truth is that you need to restrict your dreams to things that have a high percentage chance of making you a living wage. That usually leaves out the arts and really makes any liberal arts degree iffy at best. It also makes technical skills that don’t require college like coding or welding or electrician training worth a fortune. I majored in chemical engineering and for my entire corporate career watched companies throw money at me because only one in a thousand people knew what I knew and could do what I did. And because it paid well and let me be creative and get lots of affirmation I loved it. But my parents had told me from the time I was ten that it was up to me to select a college major that would pay all my bills and that the decision was an important one. Smart parents!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 22, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      You’re right – I think there’s a huge problem with my “generation” where people expect everything for nothing. I’ve had to deal with endless roommates (and one specifically) who just sit around all day and don’t go to work at all and complain they don’t have money.

      I’m getting paid decently with this contract, and also get affirmation hourly while I’m at work – I’m truly appreciated and there were people with 20+ years of seniority who wanted this contract. The fact that everyone thinks I’m the best person for the job, makes me feel great.

      Prioritizing enjoyment, intangible compensation, and tangible compensation doesn’t mean that you can just forget one of those. I have transferable skills and a plan if my arts career doesn’t pan out. So far it’s going amazingly, but hitting the epitome of your career during your first union gig might be the top of a downhill path. And if it is I’ll have no qualms throwing in the towel and pursuing something more lucrative. I think you have to be realistic about what you want and how to get it. I don’t think your life can revolve around something you hate – I was making good money but I was miserable and making everyone around me miserable. There’s gotta be a balance. It sounds like you had it, and I hope that’s what people take away from this post 🙂

    • Amen to that!!! I think DWYL is partly to blame for my husband’s drifting … not everyone has A True Passion much less one they should make their career, and I think only recently has he accepted this is true for him. (I have more thoughts on this here: http://nzmuse.com/2015/06/post-jobs-settling/)

      • Ms. Raggedly Rich

        November 6, 2017 at 10:20 am

        I’ll definitely check it out! I know tons of people who sort of drift aimlessly – AND they’re living paycheque to paycheque, with people depending on them. Everyone’s situation is different though, I try hard not to judge those people. I find it frustrating when people are miserable and complain about their job, but won’t take steps to fix it or find something better.

  2. I’m a true work life balancer even though I’m salaried. Software engineering does have its perks in that you can work at any time and from any where really, the unfortunate flip side is that means you’re kind of constantly on call, and there’s an unspoken rule demanding communication at all hours of the day. My boyfriend is also a software engineer and he gets paged at 3 am on his phone sometimes!

    With these jobs, I sometimes feel like I should be oh so thankful to be making a great salary and really be at a company’s beck and call, but the truth is there are only so many hours in the day you can keep doing such a mentally heavy task while actually producing quality work! While I’m SUPER grateful that I enjoy my work, I don’t find it brings any ultimate meaning or fulfillment to my life and therefore am unwilling to endlessly sacrifice my time for it. I don’t mind working nights/weekends occasionally, but to know I have to do this arbitrarily for the rest of my career is too much!

    It’s so important to set your own boundaries when it comes to work. As my friend said, your manager is never going to ask you to work less! So be your own advocate and know when you need to put your foot down.

    I’ve also worked joe jobs before this, and I agree with what you said! It’s actually illegal to have a worker do work off the clock. But I know many who have clocked out and gone above and beyond and I always wondered what for? We CERTAINLY don’t owe our lives for minimum wage! It’s illegal on the employee’s end too and they can get their employer into a lot of trouble for doing work off the clock. This needs to be emphasized to managers.

    I think no matter what we’re doing, we always have a sense of imposter syndrome, like oh someone else who’s better than me could do this in half the time, so that’s why I have to overcompensate by working overtime off the clock. But no…we don’t, that should be built into the hierarchy of the company (in an ideal world…hardly ever the case in real life!). Someone who can be twice as productive should be at the next pay grade and it’s not our problem if the company has issues promoting them.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 22, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      “your manager is never going to ask you to work less!” – it’s so true. Though my good manager came in on her day off to check in with me after I put in my resignation, and when I started tearing up (I’m a crier), asked if I wanted to go home, or if I would be okay to stay. There are good managers around!

      Imposter syndrome, I love that phrase. It’s so true. I had a huge case of that going into my current contract, but the sense of belief and the amount of appreciation I experienced reassured me that my previous success hadn’t just been a one off. Right now I’m salaried, and I have no problem going the extra mile – not just because I’m getting paid decently, but also because I want my friends to succeed. I’m here to facilitate the process, and do whatever I can. My mantra is ‘I got your back’, and whatever I can do to make that true, I’m happy to do. But for a minimum wage job with unrealistic expectations? I’ll save my energy for other things.

      My current contract is the epitome of what I want my life in this career to be. I could do with being closer to home so I wouldn’t have to miss the celebrations, but that’s the sacrifice I gotta make. Work-life balance is so important! And so tricky for me, still. Glad you’ve found a good balance for yourself 🙂

  3. There have been studies done on managers of “joe-jobs” (although I’d never heard that term before) that have shown that they tend to be the worst managers of any other jobs, because they’re poorly trained and the small amount of power of the job goes to their heads. So people who are paid minimum wage are often treated terribly. It’s really hard not to be sucked into the work culture of those jobs, too. When I waitressed sometimes it felt like my whole world revolved around this silly steakhouse (to your point). I think that can be true for other jobs, too. But currently, I am doing everything possible not to make my job my life. It consumes way more hours than it has before, but I try to limit all my prep to the end of the week and not think about it during the afternoons and evenings. Makes it easier that I have kids that distract me with their activities and homework. I don’t know if there’s ever the perfect balance, especially in North America where we’re so consumed with our jobs. But having the outlet of my blog has helped, because I can do things related to it and feel so satisfied. Good luck with the next seven months!! Sounds like it’s going to be exciting for you!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 22, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Now I’m starting to wonder where the term joe-job came from! I thought everyone knew it 😛 Apparently not so…

      Joe-job managers being the worst managers doesn’t surprise me at all. It seems like a recipe for disaster. I’ve heard working at Costco is pretty good, and they have reasonable hours – wouldn’t it be nice if everywhere was like that?

      If I had a kid (or kids), I wouldn’t be able to do what I currently do. There’s no way this life would be sustainable. It’s too unstable, and it takes too much time. If they were older, maybe, or if I was in my hometown – but part of it for me is being aware of what I need right now, and what I can afford. You sound really realistic of your job and the time you put into it, and that’s one of the keys I think. You can’t even attempt to find a balance without it!

      Good luck! I feel like you’re doing pretty good in it so far 🙂

  4. I was on the screen reader and I heard that you literally told your boss the F word lol!!! I was like “ohhhhh ummmm….?!?”

    Your boss reminds me of my old boss at the bar. No one owes their life to any wage.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Haha – I wish. Though I did tell the assistant manager ‘Fuck this’ the first time I read the email with the list of standards. Seconds before writing my resignation letter. Did not bother hiding my frustration or disappointment in that case 😛

  5. Haha, joe-job is new to me too!

    Lots of feelings about this. I started out in journalism which is very much a passion path and also sucks you dry – most of my grad year have burned out and moved on already, me included. At my first job an older colleague told me any employer will take all you have to give and you need to set your own boundaries. And so I have.

    That said. I do really enjoy my work and it does bleed into my life (tech). Such is the nature of digital. It’s partly the job and partly me. (I think I would be a terrible self employed person … I can sort of manage boundaries when I have a 9-5 but if I didn’t have those constraints to guide me?) I have a bit of an obsessive personality.

    But the older I get the more I realise how much the $ side matters. My most recent move I made was driven by this – I’m at a stage in life where pay and benefits come first and I sought out a company with this in mind, the actual job coming second. I still enjoy the work but it’s not quite as fun as any of my previous ones.

    OTOH dream jobs can change in an instant. I’ve been lucky enough to have great roles and great bosses to date but in one case it all flipped overnight and became a nightmare. And work is work is work, ultimately if you weren’t paying me I wouldn’t be doing it.

    I think I can honestly say all my direct managers have been GREAT about work life balance though and definitely put us people before the company. (Higher up management, maybe not so much).

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      November 6, 2017 at 10:25 am

      I can foresee myself in 3-5 years taking myself out of my current career and shifting into something that’s better paying and more stable, if that’s what I need in my life at that point. As it is now, I’m so fortunate to be in a position financially, mentally, and with family support to do what I’m doing (for a pretty decent wage at the moment, too!).

      But right now I’m young, have no relationships tying me down, and a sizeable chunk of money saved up and invested.

      “OTOH dream jobs can change in an instant.” – this is also so true! It’s insane how much of an effect people and external factors have on a job. The other facet of this is – I’ve attained my dream job. So now my mentality is ‘what’s next’, and what’s next is giving writing a novel a go, and seeing if I can keep doing what I’m doing, while writing on the side 🙂

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