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Vanishing Paycheck

This is a guest post from Lauren at L Bee and the Money Tree. I’m on a plane headed back from Denver this morning, so I’ll be back with a post on Wednesday!

Hi everyone- L Bee here. I’m guesting for Andrea while she is at #FinCon. I managed to tweak out this guest post in between my tears of jealousy and pity-naps. (I kid, next year, next year). In the meantime I’d like to take a moment to vent about something I am really frustrated about lately.

Some of you may read the title and get confused. How can working more make your paycheck less? It’s really quite simple! If you are a salaried employee you make a pre-determined salary based on 40 hours of work per week, work anything over that and you just decreased the amount you make hourly. So if you make 25000.00 per year after taxes that means you make roughly 12.00 an hour. The longer you stay at work…even an extra five hours a week diminishes your hourly rate to 10.65 per hour. It’s horrifying, yet I see people doing this alllll the damn time. I know that most companies are supposed to pay you overtime over the amount of hours you work but I have rarely seen this happen. Rarely.

And I get it. It’s a tough economy and you looked long and hard for that job that gives you a steady income and awesome bennies. You still have the taste of the ramen noodle/powdered donut diet on your palate and you want to make a good impression. Sometimes working overtime on a project is warranted and you need to stay. Also-everyone knows one of the best things about being on salary is not having to punch a clock and being able to leave early if you need to and not be penalized in pay.I’m not talking about every once in awhile. I’m talking about the people who consistently stay late, the ones who never take a lunch hour and the ones who give me a dirty look when I’m always the first one marching towards the door to beat rush hour traffic. Sorry, but an hour long commute wasn’t roped into my weekly hours.

I’m soooo over people making me feel guilty because I don’t stay late at work. Since when did it become a competition? They only paid me a certain amount for the week and I worked that amount and did a damn good job while I was there. I didn’t play on facebook or procrastinate. I accomplished all of my tasks. Why do I have to stay and play facebook games until the boss leaves just so he can think I work harder than him? I think that is silly.  There are also the sneaky jobs, ones where they tell you what the duties are up front and then sneak in the “little things” that make you check your phone and waste time answering emails when you’re not supposed to be on the clock.

Perhaps it is a little controversial of me to feel this way, but anytime I end up working more hours I get upset because I literally feel as if I’m handing over a 1.60 of my paycheck. Oh here, you paid me too much. Or better yet, let me pay you for the privilege of working for this company. The Great Recession has changed a lot of things for the better but the one thing it has made worse is worker’s willingness to trample their own health and well-being in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Ironically, when they do this they are creating what I like to call “the vanishing paycheck”. We all want to work, but I’m tired of looking at companies like that football player I wanted to date in middle school – like I’d be so lucky to have them. They should be lucky to have me! I’m honest,smart, hard-working and fun to be around.  I’m also not going to lay down for the job or morph into a workaholic overnight just because you want me to.

Don’t get confused, I LOVE my jobs and I have the pleasure of working for some great companies. Yet, they’re still just jobs, and any unpaid minute I spend there is a minute I’m away from my lover, my puppy, my blog writing, my friends, my family..I mean the list could go on and on and on. I like to look at it as I’m the CEO of my personage (I like to imagine myself as a scrappy-yet-sexy start-up) and free time is ultimately how I pay myself and keep myself going. Work is Work. Play is Play. They can mix and mingle, but don’t forget to get off that clock. Unless you want to end up working for two dollars an hour.

Andrea’s note: In my last salaried position, I worked about 60 hours a week on average. This amounted to roughly $9 an hour by the time I accounted for the extra hours and the time I spent commuting. For a supervisory position that required a master’s degree and five years of experience, that was NOT enough money! And heaven forbid I get sick and only work 39 hours one week – the company would dock my pay even though I was supposedly salaried.

Author Bio:

Guest post by Lauren (known to her friends as L Bee) – Authoress of the personal finance site “L Bee and the Money Tree“. On her blog she details daily struggles with the ever elusive “tree of wealth”, snarky thoughts on fashion and pop- culture, and gross/funny stories about her dog, Murray. A freelance writer based out of the Atlanta area, L Bee spends her free time enjoying theater, drinking wine, and annoying her boyfriend.


  1. plantingourpennies says

    We tend to do a lot of "off-hours" work. For the hubs, who is in comission sales, this usually translates directly to his paycheck. He puts in hours on the weekend to close a deal, we see the extra money in his paycheck – so yay!
    For me, though… I put in hours sometimes in the evening and weekends because it gives me more flexibility during the week. Sometimes I just have to wait for the computer to spit out results of my programming – something that can take hours. Since I'd rather get stuff done than sit uselessly at my desk during that time, I can go to the gym or run errands during the day. But the expectation is that I'll put in those hours later at night. For me it's more of a lifestyle benefit than monetary.
    I get where you're coming from, but for us, it's not the end of the world to put in hours outside of the standard 9-5.

  2. Thankfully my work doesn't have us ever bring work home or stay late. If I stay late just because I want to, then my boss looks at me weird!

  3. In some jobs, some firms, corporate culture is simply that you'll put in extra hours, and it IS rather competitive. In my profession and the firms where I've worked, hours are a direct factor when it comes to bonus pools, annual salary negotiations, and career track, because a key measure of performance is client billability and how much profit you have made the firm. I understand it's not for everyone, but I also knew that long hours were to be expected when I chose this field.

  4. I used to have jobs like this but hated them for the same reasons you mentioned. I found a new job that is much better with this. While I might have to work a couple extra hours at month end it is much better than my previous jobs and mostly works itself out.Sorry you work in an environment where that is expected. I know the feeling all too well.

  5. MB @ 12 Year Career says

    Haha, pity-naps! Love that!

    Luckily I work in an environment where if I feel compelled to stay late one day, I can take off early the next. But I hadn't thought about the literal decrease in hourly wage associated with the overtime not charged or otherwise made up for. Good for you for defending your hourly wage and personal time!

  6. kimateyesonthedollar says

    Are you able to speak with your boss about this and see what is expected? In my office, I want the employees to go home at their scheduled time. I don't pay overtime and there is no reason to. I have had people try to hang around. I'm not sure why unless they think it impresses me. I'd rather they get their work done, avoid time wasting, and go home. I agree with you 100%. It doesn't benefit you in any way to stay longer unless it is necessary for raises or promotions.

  7. Veronica Hill says

    Lauren, believe me – you're not the only one who feels that working overtime is a waste of time. Our society in general is awesome at wasting time, even during work hours. I don't remember where I read it but there was a huge study on how much time people waste at work and something like 4 hours out of your work day EVERY DAY is wasted. Now… if I were an employer I would be really concerned. People don't really think about taxes and higher tax brackets when they work extra hours as an hourly employee either. Sometimes making more is actually making less after tax lol.. but it's so easy to overlook. I personally leave right on the dot for 2 reasons: 1. I have another life outside of work and 2. it's your business, not mine, even though I love what I do let's face it, you're the one benefiting from it in the long run – not me. Don't get me wrong every ant hill needs its worker ants but I'd like to become a queen ant just one of those days.

  8. Newlyweds ona Budget says

    I guess I feel lucky that my company is excellent with overtime–and i do looove the extra money on my paycheck (I am salaried as well). I also hate all the games of staying late just so the boss knows you're working hard, but unfortunately it IS a game and I have to play it in order to win or at least until I advance to where I want to be.

  9. I couldn't agree more — I work by the hour so I don't quite deal with what you're talking about, but when I hear people talk about it, it drives me nuts. If you're paid to work 40 hr work weeks, then walk out the door at 5 every day. Why would you stay around? To prove you're a hard worker when you're futzing around on your computer? Don't you have a family to see? Your kids don't care if you're the best worker in the office, they care that you're home!!

  10. I so agree! I run into that problem occasionally at my current work place. My manager seems to think that an employee voluntarily staying late when there are no deadlines is an indication of being a good employee. I'm fine with staying late if there's a deadline, but just staying late for the sake of it? And not being paid any more? No thanks. It would be crazy to think of a company paying an employee more than the hours worked, so why is it not crazy for an employee to basically do unpaid labour?

  11. Haha you guys will hate working in Korea. It's corporate etiquette to wait for the boss/manager/supervisor/superior to leave before you leave. So if you're working under a career-aholic single woman who has nothing better to do at night – good luck!

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