Working as an Employee…and Making the Best of It

Working as an Employee - picture of woman employee in business suit

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Have you ever thought about going into business for yourself?  Have you found the one special product or service that would enable you to be your own boss?  Have you ever wondered how you could turn the dream of working for yourself into a reality?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, were you able to succeed?

Well…….I haven’t.  I work for someone else.  I have a 9-5 job that I physically go to each week day.  I earn a steady paycheck and have great benefits, but there are times when I would rather walk over hot coals and poke needles in my eyes.  There are days when I literally count down the seconds until I can exit the building.  Sometimes, my job makes me want to freak out.

(UPDATE: Not any more! I have worked for myself for almost 3 years!)

However, I would say that – overall – I like my job.  At times, I would even agree that I “love” it.  My point is this: working for someone else doesn’t have to be all bad.  Even though I’m still chasing the dream of being self-employed, there are definitely some big advantages to working for someone else that I’m going to enjoy while I can.

When Something Goes Wrong, It Isn’t Your Problem

There are days when my boss leaves early, and it is slightly irritating.  It is especially annoying when it’s a beautiful day outside, and I know he is just going home to screw around.  However, when something goes terribly wrong, I am able to get the hell out of there when 5 o’clock rolls around.  This is especially true if the disaster is something that doesn’t relate to my job in any way.

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For instance, once while we were having a public function in our building, an entire hallway flooded because of a plumbing issue.  Guess what? Not my problem.  At various times, people have called to complain about the service that they received.  Since these complaints weren’t about me, they were definitely not my problem.  Periodically, different staff members have had complaints about hours, scheduling, or each other.  Again, it is not my problem.

Another downfall to being the boss – especially in a small business – is that you are constantly “on-call.”  This is true even when you are not in town.  I can not tell you how many times my boss has been called while he is on vacation.  It can’t possibly be relaxing to be on vacation knowing that a business you own is experiencing problems.  In contrast, when I go on vacation, no one calls me.  Even if they did, I would completely ignore it.  I can do that because it’s not my problem.

Health Insurance

I like having it – and I’m talking about a real group policy, not the crap that you buy for yourself on the open market.  There was a time when we didn’t have access to a group policy and had to buy our own coverage.  At the time, we wanted to have children, so we also had to purchase a “maternity rider.”  It was ridiculously expensive.   By the time we moved to our new group plan, we were paying almost $1000 per month for almost useless coverage.  Now that we have a group plan, it is paid for with pre-tax dollars via payroll deduction. Yes, this does sound confusing, but using tax preparation software such as H&R Block Online really helps make sense of it. As if that wasn’t enough, my current policy is much less expensive than the policy we had before and covers a much wider range of medical issues.  Yay for working in a business that can qualify for group coverage!

Retirement Plans

If you work for someone else, chances are that they offer a pension, 401K, or some form of retirement plan.  Chances are also good that they contribute to that plan in some way.  My employer matches the first 5% that I contribute to my work sponsored 401K.  They also participate in profit-sharing, which can be quite substantial depending on the year.  Of course, if you work for yourself, you can still have a retirement plan; that’s not the point.  As an employee partaking in my company’s retirement plan, I am receiving “free” money toward my own retirement.  If you are self-employed, nobody is going to help subsidize your retirement savings. It is entirely your responsibility.

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Some jobs have almost no perks.  My best friend got a coffee cup from her long-term employer for her Christmas bonus last year.  Other years, they gave her similar knickknacks and kitsch items.  She doesn’t appreciate them, and I don’t blame her.

On the other hand, some jobs have real perks that come with them.  Government jobs may offer a “take home” vehicle.  Other jobs may offer the option to work at home.  At my place of employment, full-time employees have fully paid smartphone service.  We also get a decent Christmas bonus and an annual clothing allowance.  No matter what perks your employer chooses to offer, take the time to appreciate them.  You may find that you are better off than you think.

Choose to be a Happy Employee

I didn’t write this article to try to discourage people from finding a way to be self-employed.  There are definitely benefits to being your own boss.  Setting your own hours and being in charge are very attractive to some, while not as attractive to others.  There are those people who just don’t want the headache and responsibility that comes along with owning your own business.  Others crave that same responsibility.

Whether you are working for someone else because you have to or because you want to, remember that being an employee doesn’t make you a failure.  It also doesn’t mean that you must have a boss forever.  To me, working for someone else is a learning experience.  Do I wish I was my own boss?  Sure.  But for now, I choose to be happy just where I am.

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  1. I also like my job, love the benefits and also knowing that my income is guaranteed each month. I think you can take advantage of starting your own side-hustle online if you want to test the water with self-employment! It is nice to see somebody talking about the benefits of working for somebody else! I also love the fact you can go away on holiday and it is easier to forget about work than if you ran your own business!

    1. I love all of those things! I am very happy at this point working for someone else!

  2. Nice post. My wife and I actually run our own business, so I have a bit of a different perspective. Many of your points are very true. I miss getting the “free money” of a 401k match and things like cheap group life insurance.

    You’re also very right in stating that being your own boss would be a headache for some. I would be the first to say that if you’re in this camp then it probably is not the right path to take.

    For my wife and I it was the realisation that we could make significantly more running our own business and would enjoy it much more than what we had been doing. Our success and our failures are largely up to us and not dependent on some company. Plus, in today’s economy, a “guaranteed paycheck” can be somewhat of an anomaly as so many firms are looking to cut costs.

    While we do give up many of the benefits of being an employee, we also get many by running our own business. The two biggest financial ones were the amount we can put away in IRA’s can significantly increase and the tax benefits of running our own business.

    In the end, you have to do what’s right for you as a person and as a family. Like you say, you have to be happy where you are. If you’re not, then it can make life pretty miserable no matter who’s your boss.

    1. I think we get the best of both worlds actually. We own rental properties and run them like a small business, get tax advantages, etc. At the same time, since we work 9-5’s we have good health insurance, 4 weeks paid vacation, paid smartphones, company perks, fairly big bonuses, etc. I guess that I am more focused on reaching my retirement number than I am on working for myself.

  3. This is exactly what I like about my job. The pay is steady and I can just go home after work and stop worrying.

    1. Yes! And it’s easy to budget and create a financial plan when you know what you are going to make!

  4. We ended our careers owning our own company. If we knew then what we know now, we would never have done it. Not all jobs are “nice” but on balance, the positives outweigh the negatives IMHO.

  5. I think this is a GREAT post and very true. So many pf bloggers talk about being self-employed and taking that plunge. But honestly, not everyone can do that for various reasons. Someitmes people are great with pf and responsible and a “go-getter” but are employed in a big company, no less. *shrug* It’s okay to be an employee! My favoriate on this list is the “not my problem” part. VERY TRUE! I love being able to walk away and not worry about the screaming clients, building problems, rent issues, and whatever else the frick happens. I get to just go home and be with my wife and girls. 🙂

    1. Yes. This is true. I still get called after hours occasionally but a lot lesss frequently than my boss!

  6. I get to do both right now with my contract job and owning my own business. I am the one that leaves early and comes in late, but I always get called on vacation for some crisis, and have had to deal with good and terrible employees, so I see your point. After the first of the year, I will be merely and employee again. I’m sure I’ll get tired of it after a while, but while my daughter is little, I just don’t want a 24/7 job.

    1. That is totally understandable. Same here- we have little kids too!

  7. Ahhh the benefits of working for someone else. Security and letting someone else worry about the bigger picture. No wonder why many management jobs are not worth it, long hours, worry and home work do not justify the difference in pay.

    1. Exactly. We make plenty of money and we strerch it even further by making good decisions with it. Why take on all of the stress and headache?

  8. You are right that working for someone else has its perks, and coming back home worry-free is one of the best. Since I have been working for myself I find it very hard to just unplug sometimes.

    1. Yeah, that is totally understandable. There are definitely pros and cons to both!

    1. Us too, really. Since we own rental properties we can kind’ve do our own thing to a certain extent. At the same time, we have all of the benefits of a full time job!

  9. Nice review of benefits and drawbacks of being self-employed. I think it comes down to the person’s nature. Some people crave the freedom that self-employment provides and don’t care if they have to work long hours and come in during vacation. Some people have no interest at all, and some are interested but are not sure if they want the headaches. I crave freedom and responsibility, so even though I am not self-employed – I think I would enjoy it.

    On a side note… your comment on a friend getting a cup of coffee as a gift from work is hilarious.

    1. One year she got a coffee cup…and another year she got $10 off of a company T-shirt. Can that really be considered a gift?!?!?!?!?

  10. I also wrote a similar post called 5 False Assumptions about Self-Employment where I talk about what people typically imagine self employment as vs what it really is. You mentioned that your boss gets phone calls on vacation – this is a tough reality of running things as the head honcho. Health insurance – forget about it, it costs a fortune, especially if you plan on having kids. Some people can’t stand 9-5 routine, but I love it! After several years of non-existent routine where weekends are weekdays and weekdays are weekends I was super happy to finally have someone else tell me what to do, when to come in and when to leave. Sounds absurd doesn’t it?

    1. Nope! I like it too. I also enjoy having a routine.

  11. Thanks Holly for reposting this article. There are many benefits being an employee of a company. You don’t have to think about vacation time, medical benefits, investments, or structure. These things are pretty well laid out in most companies. I used to work in the corporate field a long time ago but due to not having promotions and generally they worked to death I chose to go out and work for myself. I really enjoy the ability to set my own hours and choose the projects I want to work on. I think the quality of life is much better working for yourself because you have more opportunities. I will never go back to the corporate world again.

    1. I hear ya. I don’t think I would like the corporate world either….but I do love working for a small business!

  12. I do enjoy working my technical job, and not taking work home with me at all. My second job is a 1099 job, and though I work for someone, my clients are my clients and that is pretty stressful for sure. I get more stress out of that then any day at the regular office.

    Sure, small businesses have more potential, but being happy and content at your regular job is a possibility as well. My goal is to have a side hustle that matches my regular job income and see where it goes from there.

  13. there are so many benefits by being you own job. You don’t hate anymore you job and do whatever you want. It’s a great sensation but not everyone can find a dream job or can become a self-employed. Surely there are some drawbacks being a self employed as you said.

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  15. I’ve got great perks at my job, company vehicle, paid for cell and internet. An actuary came in and explained to us that all of our benefits equal to another 40% of my salary. The only thing is with great pay comes great stress

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