Stop Whining About Your Lousy Job and Leverage It 

My fellow Millennials love to whine about employment.  They whine about not having a job and then they whine about their job and its low pay.  We’re just a bunch of entitled little brats.  We just expect a job out of college.  But what about the Boomers?  They ruined a great economy with their overzealous spending!  They killed the American Dream!

Who cares.  Seriously.  What does being right about this argument get you?  Nowhere. Regardless of whose fault it is, there is one thing for certain: whiners don’t win.  Sean Connery had a fantastic line about winners in The Rock.  I suggest you YouTube it.  The people that win are those with initiative, drive, and a little luck.  It’s not just hard work.  Working hard is noble and all, but if you want a better job then you’ve got to work smart.

Back to that job problem we’ve got.  Maybe you’ve got a low-paying, low-skill job with a huge Dead End sign on it.  This is a major problemo because the whole retirement equation depends not only on saving–which is heavily stressed in this blog–but also income.  We’d be doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring this part of the equation.

So what are some of the ways that we can leverage that crappy, low-paying job?  I see two ways.  Work while you work or use it as experience to start your own business.

Work while you work

Working while you work doesn’t work in all situations.  It’s hard to do this if you’re a cashier at the store or if you’ve got some sort of entry-level position that requires consistent interaction.  But not all jobs are like this.  We’ve all seen jobs where the employee just sits around and does nothing for a big chunk of time.

One job that comes to mind is the mail-room guy at work.  This dude sorts the mail and delivers it about four times per day.  Each delivery takes about 45 minutes.  Add in another hour or two for sorting and you’ve got a total of five hours of work.  That leaves an entire 3 hours that this person could be doing something else!  An even better example would be the security guard or hotel concierge  These late-night jobs have some serious free time!

While this guy isn't sorting keys at one in the morning, he's kicking some serious income butt by freelancing.

While this guy isn’t sorting keys at one in the morning, he’s kicking some serious income butt by freelancing.

The idea is to maximize your dollars per hour across all income streams.  In other words, increase your total hourly-wage.  A minimum-wage job sucks.  But if you’re working a minimum wage job while writing an article for somebody, your total hourly-wage looks much better.

If you’re lucky (unlucky?) enough to have a job where you could work on something else on the side, there are plenty of things you could do to make some money.  Freelancing is the key word here.  Writing and graphical design are some of the easiest routes, especially if you already have some relevant skills.  Check out Freelancer or Fiverr.  To give you an idea of what you’d make, I think $0.5-$0.10 per word is a realistic figure to shoot for if you’re a writer.  For a 500 word article, that means you could net between $25-$50.  Not bad if it takes you three hours to crank it out.  Factor in that you’re already sitting at the security desk at 2:00am and earning $9.00/hr your total hourly-wage just jumped to $19.00/hr!

You could also start a blog.  Blogging definitely takes a lot more work to do, but there are better rewards if you are successful.  Find a niche and stick to it.  I can tell you firsthand that you need to blog about something you’re passionate about.  I love personal finance, but holy moly, there are some weeks where I really don’t feel like writing 1,000 words about money.  You’ve got to grind through it though.  Start with buying a domain/hosting package and begin creating content.  I use Bluehost for hosting and I have been happy with them so far.  They are one of the lower-cost hosting platforms I have found.

The sky is the limit when it comes to stacking your work income.  You obviously can’t be at two places at once, but the internet provides bountiful opportunity to make some money if you’re stuck doing nothing for a few hours.  This type of approach is best for the “we just need somebody to be there” type of job.

Use it as experience to start your own job

Using your experience doing whatever job it is that you hate is a great springboard to starting your own business from the knowledge you’ve gained.  Every single company I know of has some form of inefficiency.  Being directly involved in a specific sector can give you a pretty clear picture of what those inefficiencies are.  Consultants help companies improve issues like inefficiency.  They can also help create systems for tracking training or even conduct the training themselves.  Many companies outsource their training.  Know Microsoft Office really well?  Boom.  You’re a MS Office trainer.  This path is definitely more involved from a labor and risk standpoint, but what’s the alternative?  Work a dead-end job for the rest of your life?

From a startup capital perspective (i.e. the amount of money you need to start), starting a consulting business is very feasible.  It’s taken me until my late-twenties to fully understand something: if you want to be a consultant, you need to do only one thing.  Call yourself a consultant.  Seriously.  That’s it.  Just because we’re adults, doesn’t mean we possess some mysterious professional power.  We just make some nice business cards, throw together a nice little website, and voila!  You are what you say you are.  The more difficult side of the equation is attracting customers, but with a little social media work, it’s totally doable.  Ok, maybe I lied, it takes a lot of social media work.  Just remember… you are sitting around doing nothing, so find the energy to make it happen.

Get going

The point of this post is to convince you that there are opportunities out there to make money.  You’ve got to be smart enough to open your eyes to them and dedicated enough to push yourself to do some work.  Opportunity and execution.  A website and a stack of business cards should run you no more than $120.  Nobody ever made a living by complaining about the Baby Boomers and your job on internet forums.

Action Items

  • Pick your route.  Are you going to freelance or start your own consulting business?
  • For freelancing:
    • Check out Freelancer and Fiverr
    • Creating your own network of clients also works well, but is a little more difficult
  • For starting your own business:
    • Set up a website using Bluehost
    • Use Fiverr to create a logo and/or business card design
    • Start networking.  You know the industry, so you should know who to talk to.  You’ve got to be a salesman before you can be a consultant.



13 thoughts on “Stop Whining About Your Lousy Job and Leverage It 

  1. Curtis

    I remember in college we had jobs around campus called work study. These jobs mainly entailed overseeing a computer lab and had a huge amount of downtime. The goal was to take care of the lab, and then spend the rest of the time finishing assignments or doing research. Essentially, you were being paid to study. I saw very few students actually take advantage of this. Most students would cruise on Facebook or watch Netflix during this time.

    While today my day job doesn’t offer the same amount of downtime as the work study from college times, it still has some time that I can take advantage. For example, my lunch is 1 hour and I can sit in the cafeteria and type out some emails to prospective clients, maintain a blog, and do some research.

    1. Will Post author

      This is exactly what I’m talking about! People love to screw around with free time then complain that they don’t make any money.

  2. Austin

    I love the last sentence, “You’ve got to be a salesman before you can be a consultant.” This is one of the top knowledge gaps that hold people back, both in consulting ventures and traditional jobs. If you learn to sell yourself effectively, your ideas tend to turn into reality much more often.

    1. Will Post author

      Heck yea! It’s all about the pitch. Doesn’t matter if your selling a car or a service. A lot of really good ideas will never gain traction if you can’t garner interest.

  3. Lindsay @ the Notorious D.E.B.T.

    I love this article. I am in the same boat – underemployed both mentally and financially, with no hope for advancement. At first, I spent a few months feeling sorry for myself, but I realized that couldn’t go on. The one good thing about my job is that while I’m active all day, I am working alone so I can listen to podcasts. I had no money management skills, so to cope with the low pay situation, I started listening to money podcasts 8 hours/day. Within a few months I felt like I’d been caught up to speed on all the major things, and I started doing freelance writing for clients, and started my own personal finance blog. It’s only been a couple months since I started doing that but it’s been working out great so far! In just a couple hours of work a day, I can bring home about half of what I make at my day job. Now, I’m still working on finding a career that I went to school for, and/or transitioning into freelance writing as a full-time job.

    1. Will Post author

      All fantastic points. Like you said, you can either feel sorry for yourself or take some action. You took action!

  4. Tommy @ LeisureFreak

    I had a lower paying semi-skilled tech job that I could finish my 8 hour load in 5 hours. I used the down time to continue my education. I could do my night school’s homework and read ahead in my text books. Grew up low income with no way to attend university so had to do it after work and pay as I went using company tuition aid as an assist. Took me a little over a decade to make engineer. Still I was utilizing my time to advance in both my career and pay in a boring low paying position. I am a tale end boomer. Not sure how I ruined the great economy except for striving to live debt free, marrying, raising 3 children, and refusing the consumerist culture for frugal living so we could retire early. i guess we didn’t contribute to the economy with our mindless spending like most other people of ALL generations. Just messing with you about the boomer crack. BTW the generational wars are all part of the 1% distraction tactics so don;t fall for it. People are people and do what they can. Bad apples in every gen. Great list of positive things someone can do to improve financially instead of just griping about the job.

    1. Will Post author

      That’s some serious dedication on the school front. Perhaps in 30 years, the young generation will be blaming the millennials!

  5. Mr. Purpose

    I’m salaried myself, but still manage to write some blogs during work hours. It’s more of a mid-day destresser. Though I can’t say I’m the serious blogger like yourself. I’m more of a when an idea hits me sort of guy, but when it hits, I can’t think of anything else until I get it on paper (ok the computer, but I still like the phrase).

    So I don’t make any money during my current job, but I am able to market myself on Wyzant earning about $30-40/hr. It’s setting me up for a nice side-job after I hit FI!

    1. Will Post author

      I’ve never heard of Wyzant. I’m guessing it’s a freelancing platform? You brought up a good point regarding a portfolio of work. People love to see examples of your previous work. Very important step in running your own gig.

      1. Mr. Purpose

        Wyzant is a tutoring platform so if you have a high demand subject you can make pretty good money. (I’m in programming) It’s nice only having to compete locally instead of with someone overseas.

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