A Six Hour Work Day

The New York Times published an article by Liz Alderman on how Sweden’s experiment with a six-hour workday showed benefits for both the employee and the employer.

Here is the link to that article,  In Sweden, an Experiment Turns Shorter Workdays Into Bigger Gains.

I think the six hour work day is a capital idea for a number of reasons, some of which are cited in the article.

I work an 8 hour plus day. I have noticed that I am expended emotionally and intellectually after six hours. I can do my job, which requires an uninterrupted and rapid pace, as expected, very well in 6 hours. The time beyond that is exhausting and draining. I agree that a six hour work day would definitely improve my well-being.

A six hour work day could reduce unemployment because, instead of three eight-hour shifts for jobs requiring 24 hour operation, there would be four six-hour shifts. This is proving to be successful at the hospital noted in the article.

Perhaps a six hour work day would encourage less people to opt for early retirement. That might stoke the Social Security coffers. I know it would make it much easier for me to consider working to age 70 if my work week consisted of 5 six hour days.

It certainly could improve the mental and physical health of the country. Employees would have more time to spend with their families, to volunteer, to exercise/be active, and to make and enjoy home-cooked meals.

We could also see an increase in the interaction between neighbors and an increase in participation in community events which could result in an increased sense of belonging.

Currently, companies and corporations in the US are demanding more hours and more productivity in those hours and we, as employees, are exhausted.

I think the six-hour work day, a 30 hour work week, is a great idea.

What say you?

Lowering My Taxable Income

I am definitely naive (read: stupid) financially. I never realized that I could do anything to adjust my taxable income beyond completing a W-4 Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. In researching ways to lower my taxable income and avoid paying additional tax for the 2016, I am learning a lot.

When I complete the W-4, I know that the more exemptions I claim, the bigger my take-home check is. And I cross my fingers hoping that I don’t have to pay more income tax at the end of the year. Oops, that sure didn’t work this year!

On the other hand, the fewer exemptions I claim, my take-home pay is less but my tax refund could be more. But, as we have been warned, it is best NOT to use the federal government as a savings account for your hard-earned money. The IRS pays no interest on your money.

So, Goldilocks, how do we figure out what is ‘just right’?

I am going to start with tweaking the W-4. Currently, I have a total of 7 ‘allowances’. I failed to update this apparently because my allowances actually work out to 5. Costly mistake!

W4 allowances

According to taxact.com, ‘the size of a withholding allowance is based on the annual value of a dependency exemption. For 2016, that amount is $4,050’.

I used the  IRS withholding calculator app at to calculate my anticipated income tax for 2016 . With my daughter heading off to college, I should be able to use the American Opportunity Tax Credit of $2500.

Here are the results of using the IRS app for calculating the exemptions I should claim this year:

2016 anticipated income tax

According to this, if I clam the American Opportunity Tax Credit of $2500, I can actually increase my allowances to 11 and have a refund of $150.

Hmm, now isn’t that interesting?

Off to plan my next step.

If You’re Wondering Why You Can’t Make Ends Meet

living wage calculator
image courtesy of lifehacker.org

You might want to check out the Living Wage Calculator developed at MIT. This calculator gives you an idea of how much it costs to live in your area and, in case you’re planning a move, you can use it to decide where you can afford to live.

Another potential use is to decide just how much you really need to live on and, if you make more than that, sock the rest away for escaping the 9-5 rat race early!

The Living Wage Calculator sure shows that minimum wage is not a living wage.

I am reading Linda Tirado’s book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. It is opening my eyes to what it is like to try and live on minimum wage. It also makes me want to kick myself for accumulating so much debt on my more than ample income that I am forced to try to live on minimum wage.

If I could do it all over again, I would use this calculator to keep my spending to the level of the living wage and save the rest. The future would be much brighter.

 

Deciding Where to Invest My Time and Energy

LaVonne Ellis at The Complete Flake is one of my favorite bloggers. She is so real and I love the way she writes.

She recently wrote a blog post I can relate to. In that post, Lavonne is trying to decide between working to supplement her retirement income or writing books to supplement income.

Most of my adult life, I have worked for others. The steady work, the paycheck and the ability to leave the job at the job are pretty good benefits.

But I sacrifice happiness, freedom, independence, autonomy and creativity. Historically, I am good for about the first two years of the job but then I reach the point where I hate the job and everything and everybody associated with it.

I had a small business in the past that I owned. It was hard work but I loved every minute of it. I had to give it up when my marriage went south and ended in a divorce. Following that, I went back to working at ‘the job’ because I had kids to raise and support.

I am now nearing the time when the last child will be leaving the nest and heading to college. And I am less than a decade away from being able to claim full Social Security benefits. I would love to start a new direction but is now the time?

I plan on helping my daughter with college expenses so I still need enough income to support myself and my daughter. I also have my mother here and I provide a good deal of her support. So, quitting ‘the job’ and venturing into something part-time to free time for other pursuits is not something I am able to do right now.

If I stay at my current job, I am going to need to invest some time, energy and money into continuing education for certification in my professional field. This will help to protect my future employment – I hope- as the company is merging with another company and jobs are bound to be lost.

But what if I still lose my job? I guess my resume would be more attractive to other companies that may be hiring in my field.

On the other hand, I would rather work toward something more fun, like writing or starting my own business (which writing could be). Should I assume that I will retain employment through the merger and invest my time and energy in writing, with the hopes that I will be successful enough to resign from ‘the job’?

My time and my energy are limited. I can’t devote every spare hour to pursuing writing because I have very few spare hours. And success is not a sure thing.

What to do, what to do….

 

 

 

 

Making a Living

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a nurse.

Oh, that is sweet, honey. You will make a good nurse.

And so it began. I did ‘become’ a nurse. And as a nurse fresh out of nursing school, with a starched white cap and a license to practice, I was excited to be a nurse.

As the time passed, I moved from being single to being married to being married with a family to being divorced with a family.

I am a mom and a nurse.

Healthcare changed and the hospital halls were no longer considered the hallowed halls through which the angels of nursing floated as they ministered to the sick, the hurting and the dying.

I am a mom who works as a nurse in order to make enough money to support myself and my children.

When I worked as a nurse for an hourly wage, outside of the stress of the shift, I clocked out. left my nurse hat at work and went home to be a mom.

Then I got a job as a nurse in a salary-exempt field and now I work for a very big insurance company.

This company is pushing me to not just do my job but to become a careerist.

careerist ‎(pluralcareerists)

  1. A person who pursues the advancement of his career at the expense of other values.  [quotations ▼]

I don’t want to do any more than what is required to earn my paycheck.

I don’t need a career. I need a job.

24 Hour Work Week

I am not against working, per se. After all, working, whether for pay or for survival, is a part of life. I currently work 40+ hours a week and, like many others, have stupidly increased my expenses to equal my income.

I have become a wage slave, stuck. At least until I can reduce my expenses to allow me more freedom in job choice.

Right now, I work full-time at a salaried position in order to get the benefits to support myself and my family. In my current position, I don’t have the flexibility to work less than 40 hours a week. That just isn’t an option from my employer.

The job I have is stressful and the 40+ hours are draining not just emotionally but physically, even though it is not a physically demanding job. The physical drain has more to do with the effect on my health- the stress, the time limitation on exercise, etc.

I really wish I had the option to work 6 hour days, perhaps 3-4 days a week.

I think 6 hour shifts for a 24 hour job is a good idea. It would provide employment to more people because instead of three shift workers to cover 24 hours, there would be four.

And a 6 hour day, an 18 to 24 hour work week would allow more time for:

  • Family
  • Exercise
  • Home cooking
  • Community involvement

I have a finite amount of energy and the 40 hour work week pretty much takes it all.

Just when did the 40 hour work week begin?

The 40 hour work week has become the standard and, actually, it is slowly creeping up to more than 40 hours a week.

NewEconomics.Org proposes a 21 hour work week.

A ‘normal’ working week of 21 hours could help to address a range of urgent, interlinked problems: overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.

I would love that.

What do you think about 21 hour work week versus the 40 hour work week?