The 9 to 5 job has become a typical way of earning money in the western world.

People like these jobs because they get to sit at a computer for eight hours in an air-conditioned office in a comfortable ergonomic chair without having to do any manual labour.

Sounds like an easy way to make money, right?

WRONG.

The 9 to 5 job actually requires people to invest a lot of time, money and energy into maintaining this job.

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The typical work commute in peak hour is often a boring yet tiring routine.

Let me explain by using a hypothetical person: Mr Smith.

Mr Smith works in office, spending around forty hours a week at his job.

To work his ‘dream’ job, Mr Smith has to life in a big city, which has higher living costs than smaller towns.

Everything from groceries to housing to dining out is more expensive.

He needs to own ‘business’ clothes and shoes.

But this means he also must own an iron, an ironing board, a shoehorn, coat hangers and a suit bag, and pay for occasional dry cleaning.

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Many women face the daily bore of drying and styling their hair, which requires owning a hairdryer.

He needs to own a car to get to and from work.

But owning a car means he has to pay for car registration, insurance, ongoing maintenance and parking, and buy a licence and fuel on a regular basis.

And he has to have car-washing implements, which he has to buy a shelf to keep it on.

Because he sits in an office all day, he needs a gym membership so he can do the accepted 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

But to fit in with all the gym-goers, he has to own ‘exercise’ clothes and buy protein shakes.

By spending all his time indoors, which means he has limited exposure to the sun, he has to take vitamin D supplements.

Because he only has four weeks of annual leave a year, he has limited time to pursue leisure activities.

He can only travel during his allocated leave time, which is at the behest of his boss, meaning he spends more on ‘convenient’ flights and hotels to suit these dates.

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Unfortunately, most people’s leave requests are at the whim of their bosses.

And if Mr Smith has children, he has to pay someone else to look after them while he’s at work or pay for school fees.

Can you see where I’m going?

The 9 to 5 job actually eats into people’s leisure time and pay packets, leaving them with less energy to do the things they actually want to do.

This is exactly how we used to live.

Previously, I worked five days a week in a communications role in a government department in Sydney, Australia.

My work hours were 7.30 am to 4 pm.

But because we lived where we wanted (near the beach), which was 35 km from the office, I was spending nearly 2.5 hours each day driving to and from work.

After work I would head to the gym for a 45-plus minute workout, meaning I didn’t get home until after 6pm (after leaving the house at 6.20 am).

It was exhausting.

All I wanted to do at night was flop down on the couch and watch television.

This daily grind left us with little time to spend with each other, or little motivation to cook dinner.

I was in bed by 10 pm most nights, with my bags packed and a lunch prepared for the next day.

We were too tired and time-poor to think about the best way to manage our money and investments, so we instead paid for costly services such as managed funds.

We had to own and store an excessive amount of work-related items that were mostly single use.

Slowly over time, we needed more cupboards to put all this needless stuff, which we then had to pay a removalist to move when we shifted houses.

Because a good chunk of our salary was wasted on work-related incidentals (including $300 hair styling!), we were going to have to work until our 60s to have enough retirement savings to live on.

But by this age, with less energy and weary bodies, it was going to be too late to do all the crazy fun things we once wanted to do like visit Machu Pichu or start a business.

So after four years in the job, I quit.

Despite the great six-figure salary, I hated the travel and didn’t enjoy the bureaucracy and red tape.

It was costing us too much, both financially and personally, to maintain this job.

We decided to take a year off and go a live overseas for a year.

It was the best decision we ever made.

It set us on a path to discovering that we actually need much less money and stuff to have a vibrant and healthy life.

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Quitting our jobs and living overseas for a year was one of the best decisions we’ve made.

So I suggest you ask yourself: how much is your 9 to 5 job really costing you?

And if you’re not working your job to earn and save as much money as you can, to retire early or invest, then maybe it’s time to reconsider the real benefits of your job.

Kate

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