extra job

I’m currently writing this on my lunch break with bags under my eyes, desperately in need of a venti black coffee, while searching for pictures of “comfy beds” on Pinterest. I might be just a little tired.

I’m not looking for sympathy, though, because I brought this on myself.

As anyone who knows me in real life can attest, I am working like a madwoman these days. I put in over 70 hours a week between my multiple jobs, plus I’m enrolled in an online class. Most days I work about twelve to fourteen hours and then study afterwards, except for my one day off which is reserved for chores around the house and having some face time with the hubby.

It has been a rough year and I won’t lie to you — sometimes I want to just quit. But every time I feel like complaining about exhaustion or hibernating under my blankets for weeks, I remind myself that this was my choice and I can stop at any time if I choose to.

So why did I decide to take on extra work that I don’t need but simply want?

The primary reason for the extra jobs is that the extra money will allow us to pay down debts faster, saving precious pennies in the long run. Despite the fact that mine and my husbands’ full time jobs cover all our necessary expenses, we aren’t able to make more than the minimum payments on our student loans or credit cards. Have you ever calculated how much you’ll end up paying in interest if you stick to only minimum payments? Ouch. The more money we can throw at our debts now, the less we’ll be paying in interest and the more money we have left over for all the good stuff that life has to offer.

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Another reason I chose to do this is because I’ll never be younger than I am right now, meaning that I have the freedom and ability to work such long hours. I won’t always have the luxuries of ample time and energy. Someday, I will have kids at home who will depend on me to be there for them. No way am I missing my kid’s tee-ball game to put on another name tag and hoof it to my second job (and actually, hopefully I’ll be done with name tags by then too).

And as much as I want to ignore the reality of aging, someday my body will slow down and my joints will ache too much to endure a 14 hour day on my feet. When that happens, I want to spend my time doing things that I enjoy, not picking up a part time job as a greeter at Wal-Mart.

By working so hard for money that I don’t need right now, I’m also taking advantage of a little something called compound interest. As twenty-somethings, we don’t have a lot of money or other assets, but what we do have is time. The earlier you start to build your nest egg, the more it will have time to grow before you hit retirement age. If you invest our money now, it will grow by leaps and bounds by the time you’re ready to retire. The difference between starting in your 20s and starting in your 30s is astounding, even if you plan to contribute a large amount of your income later on to make up for lost time. Turns out, extra contributions still do not make up for a late start.

The grueling work days also serve to keep my eye on the prize. Like everyone else, I get distracted by new, shiny toys and the temptation to use my available credit to jet set across the world. I want to have the best things and have the most exciting adventures, but I know that having the funds available does not mean that I can actually afford it all. The long hours at work keep me focused on the value of a dollar and encourage me to scrimp and save just like I did during college. I’m less likely to splurge on a fast food meal on my lunch break or an extra pair of shoes I don’t really need because I know how hard I worked for each and every dollar. It’s too precious to be spent frivolously.

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Taking on so much at once is also just part of my personality. As I wrote about for our #30DaysofThanks last month, my parents worked insane hours when they were my age. The same work ethic rubbed off on me, so I instinctively feel like working long hours is the right thing to do in order to find success. Only after years of sacrifices and hard work will I feel I’ve earned the exciting vacations and nice things I’m dreaming of.

Some people might think I’m just wasting my twenties, a period of life that is often romanticized by older generations as a carefree time to “find oneself”. I understand that argument, but I’m such a future-oriented person (I guess the word for that is “dreamer”) that I’m actually happier building a great future for my husband and I (and future kiddos) than I would be if I were to throw caution to the wind. If I tried to take on a relaxed attitude about my future and my finances, it would look about as unnatural as Taylor Swift twerking in “Shake it off”. It’s just not who I am.

As my savings account waxes and my loan balances wane, I feel justified in spending so much time at work when I don’t actually need to. I don’t plan to continue this coffee-addicted, exhaustion-addled marathon for much longer (maybe I’ll last another year or two), but in the end, I know it will pay off handsomely in extra savings down the road.

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Twenty-somethings, are you currently working or considering taking on a second or even third job? Tell us why in the comments below!