Have you ever asked yourself why you work full-time? Have you even thought about it?
Most people don’t. Working full-time is the norm in almost every country in the world. It is our “default”.
Maybe you are one of the few people who genuinely enjoy your work, or at least learned to enjoy it. Perhaps you have a large family to care for, or elderly parents who need to be looked after. Or, like myself, you found yourself in supremely unfortunate circumstances outside your control, catapulting you into a mountain of debt.
Perhaps you simply enjoy the “finer” things in life, and have to work more to pay for them.
No one is denying the need for work, of course. We need to work to earn money to pay for the things we need (and want).
And as unemployment continues to rise around the world, the cost of living increases, and machines take more and more of our jobs away from us, it only becomes more difficult just to get by.
But, there is growing evidence that suggests that we simply work too much to enjoy life fully, and those who work less, live happier and more meaningful lives.
Take The Netherlands, for example. The Netherlands is known as one of the happiest countries on the planet.
They are also the sole owners of another interesting statistic: They have the most part-time workers in the world, by far. Over half of all workers in the Netherlands work part-time. (part-time is defined as less than 36 hours a week) In comparison, the rest of the EU has an average of just 20% of workers working part-time.
I used to work full time managing the family business. I loved the work we did and I enjoyed being able to work with my family (for the most part). Even while having a greater level of control over my schedule, I was working 40-45 hours a week.
After a great deal of thought, I decided I had enough, and reduced my work schedule down to 24-30 hours a week.
It wasn’t easy, and many did not understand my decision, but I don’t regret it for a second. Having more free time to do things I enjoy is far more valuable than the extra money I could be earning.
So, how do you go about making the move to part-time work?
Ask yourself why
- Why are you moving to part-time work?
- Why do you want to work less?
- What will you do with all that extra time?
It’s important to have the answers to these questions before you embark on this new way of life. There will be many difficult obstacles to overcome, and you will need this motivation to persevere and not give up.
Separate your needs from your wants
The next thing you need to do is determine what you can and can’t live without. Your necessities versus your desires. This will shape every decision you make going forward. Analyze your budget, and figure out what constitutes an acceptable sacrifice.
Determine how you will earn an income
If you are working full-time for someone else, will your employer allow you to switch to part-time? If they won’t, you will need to find another job, or other source of income.
If you own your own business (nice!), will it not just survive, but continue to thrive when you are working less?
These things need to be considered before you take the plunge.
Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to start taking action. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different, so not all of this can be applied to your lifestyle.
As a young, single man with no one but myself to care for financially, it is much easier for me to do. That said, the principles I learned can still be applied to most living arrangements.
Here is what I did:
1. Simplify Financial Commitments
Sell your car
Car’s are expensive, and not just to purchase. The ongoing costs of maintaining your car adds a significant chunk to your monthly budget. Living in a large city makes selling it easier, as public transit will be better served and make for an adequate replacement to your vehicle.
Also, ride your bike. It’s good for your health, the environment, and your wallet. You’d be amazed how much you discover about your city while riding your bike around.
Cut back on “wants”
Traveling is one of my biggest passions, and having more time to do it was a huge motivation for me making the move to part-time.
Regularly reminding myself of this made it easier to cut back on things that I enjoy but don’t need, like eating out at restaurants, drinking nice scotch, wearing premium clothing, playing video games, etc.
Simplify your housing needs
Nothing takes a bigger chunk out of your monthly budget more than your housing, and for good reason. As a single guy, I share a house with roommates, drastically reducing my monthly housing costs.
Even if you are not single, you could downsize your apartment or home to something simpler and more affordable.
My favorite resource to find apartments:
2. Find new sources of income
Sell stuff you own
Go even further than just selling your car. The easiest way to get a quick flow of cash is to sell a bunch of crap you own.
You’d be amazed how many things of value you have tucked away in your closet, drawers, attic, or garage. Take a Sunday afternoon and go through all of it, and reap the rewards of selling old items you don’t need.
Sell it here:
Harness the power of the internet
The internet hasn’t just given us an endless stream of cat videos, Buzzfeed gifs, and corny memes, it has provided an opportunity to sell yourself and your skills to the entire world.
Even if you don’t have any skills you can sell online, you can teach yourself pretty much anything for free with the endless amount of tools and resources available on the world-wide web. I put together an extensive list of 88 Resources to Create a Work From Home Job, to help you get started.
Find your tools and resources here:
Find a part-time job
Perhaps your best option to work part-time is to simply find a new job.
Before going into interviews, make it abundantly clear that you’re only interested in part-time work. There’s no sense in wasting everyone’s time by giving false impressions.
My favorite resource to find high quality part-time jobs:
3. Manage your finances
Keep that budget tight
Now that you’ve taken the plunge, simplified your lifestyle, and locked down some income sources, you will need to keep a tight watch on your monthly budget.
Ensure you are not over-spending on anything, and you still have enough extra income each month to put aside for savings.
My favorite tool to manage this is Mint.com. Mint lets you connect all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial obligations to their app, which will help you analyze and maintain it all. Create and manage a monthly budget, set financial goals, track your progress, and receive notifications when you are nearly over budget, or your bank is ripping you off with fees.
Get your budget in line:
Stay out of debt
Due to a string of unforeseen circumstances, I found myself in a large pile of debt. It was the worst kind of debt too, credit card debt.
It was large enough that I had to temporarily pause my part-time work lifestyle to pay it off. I tackled it aggressively, paying off $14,000 in just 7 months.
I’ll be writing a post on how I did it soon, but do whatever you can to stay debt-free. Debt is a killer, and one of the biggest financial problems in our society today.
4. Find fantastic deals
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s your advice? Win free stuff??” Before you write me off, if you live in a good size city, and love getting free nights out on the town, Twitter is an awesome way to win free swag. I wrote a post on how you can do just that.
Start winning stuff on Twitter today:
Become a “secret shopper”
Large businesses like to occasionally analyze and review their customer service experience. To do that, they enlist the help of secret shoppers.
Secret shoppers walk into a store, restaurant, or even airline, and engage in a standard customer experience by buying the companies products. Afterwords, you simply have to write a brief review of your experience.
In exchange, you will receive a steep discount on the purchases you made. The secret shoppers network I’m enlisted in even offers a minimum 50% discount on flights all over the world. It’s a great way to get deals on things you would have purchased anyway.
Sorry, I can’t tell you which network I’m a part of because IT’S A SECRET.
Get sweet travel deals
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest motivations for me to move to part-time work was so I would have more time to enjoy the thing I love most, traveling. Here are some of the tools I use to find great deals.
In almost every major city in the world, you can find a better deal (on a much nicer place than a hotel room) with Airbnb.
That being said, Airbnb is more popular than ever and, if you need to find last minute deals on a hotel room, I have had the best experience using Hotels.com.
Have some dream destinations in mind? Pick your routes, than wait for AirfareWatchdog to email you as soon as they find an awesome deal for you.
On the surface, Hipmunk might seem like just another travel search site, but they actually have an awesome graph feature, where you can see flight prices for your favorite destination for the next 90 days. Great for those with a flexible schedule, like someone who works part-time!
It’s unfortunate we currently live in a world enslaved by money and material possessions. None of that brings lasting joy.
Your most valuable resource is your time. Find ways to make the most of it, spend time doing what you love, and create lasting memories with unique experiences.
Most people have to work for a living. Just make sure that you are working to live, and not living to work.
Have you made the move to part-time? What money-saving methods have you found to be effective?