Subscribe to Money & Life


Is working more the answer to your financial problems?

07 December 2017

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

When working more means earning more, it makes sense to take that promotion or extra shift to get ahead financially. But when expenses go up and quality of life goes down, is the price you’re paying for longer hours too high?

So you’ve been offered a pay rise at work that comes with more responsibilities. If that’s going to mean staying late at the office or taking work home with you, is the extra income really going to make it worth your while? Here are 3 important things to ask yourself before changing your lifestyle and habits to make more time for earning money.

1. Where will you be spending more?

Working more hours gives you less time to spend on looking after your other needs. By being tied up at work for longer, things like a clean and tidy home, shopping for meals and other essentials could end up costing you much more. Some examples of where your expenditure might go up when working hours increase are:

  • Less time to plan, shop and cook your own meals means spending more on take-away and restaurant food.
  • Extra hours and stress at work can make that mid-afternoon coffee or chocolate fix more tempting, and those extra dollars spent add up over time.
  • When you’re tired at the end of a long day, taking taxis and Ubers to get you home faster will bump up your transport budget.
  • When leisure time is rare and precious, you’re more likely to spend extra money on household maintenance, cleaning and laundry services.

If you do end up working longer hours for more money, beware of letting these expenses eat into that extra income. Otherwise you could be putting in all that effort and see very little difference in the budget you have available to save or spend on things you really value.

2. What will you be missing out on?

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the idea that earning more is the path to greater security. And if you feel more secure, then you’re going feel less anxious and more positive – right? Well it depends a lot on your personal definition of what security and happiness means for you. Perhaps it’s a priority for you to have comfortable home you can enjoy. If extra work commitments take you away from home more, then you’re paying for something you actually enjoy less and less. And when you value things like your health and time with family and friends, there’s a very good chance that working more will mean investing less time in these things too. If you’re only getting to the gym every other week and skipping family dinners because of work, it’s worth asking yourself if the extra dollars are really making up for these missed opportunities.

3. Could you be better off without earning more?

Although getting ahead financially may be important to you, earning more isn’t the only way to go about it. Taking a good look at where your money is going is a positive step towards making better spending choices for you and your family. If you’re really clear about what matters to you, and your day-to-day budget matches those priorities, you could be better off in a financial sense and have a stronger commitment to your goals and values. A financial planner can act as a sounding board to help you reflect on what’s most important to you. They can also guide you through the process of setting goals and managing your budget to make the most of the income you have now.

Looking for ways to save on your day-to-day budget? Get tips on cutting back on the three biggest household expenses. Or follow our savings and budget checklist for more ways to start saving.