Thursday, August 11, 2005

Rule #8: Work for free...

Free stuff, that is!

  • Work where you get something you love for free.

I do not work in a high-paying industry. 15 years into my career, I probably still make less than most first-year law firm associates, and I think I've had a better than average, if not stellar career path compared to other people in publishing. But I've always had a few perks that made it worthwhile. I don't mean perks like free espresso and ping pong tables in the office. One of mine is books: I've always loved to read, which is why I was drawn to publishing in the first place. If I'd had to buy all my books at full price, I'd be many thousands of dollars poorer. The other big perk I've had has been travel. At one of my jobs, I had to go to Europe 3 or 4 times a year, and was usually able to extend my trips into at least a few days of vacation time. I also racked up a lot of frequent flier miles than I was able to use for personal travel, again saving me thousands of dollars. I also save money in other small ways because of my job. I occasionally get free meals. And when it comes to tax time, I can deduct everything under the sun: internet access, movies, plays, museums, magazines-- all of these things very legitimately contribute to my awareness of the book market!
I'm sure I could also have been happy working in some other career where I made more money (and had the espresso and ping pong), but I'm sure there are many paths I could have taken that would have made me miserable. I kind of stumbled into what I do, but I've always felt that it is a pretty good balance in terms of its challenges, its time demands, and its benefits.


Dawn said...

I work at a telecommunications company- I get free high speed and digital cable tv- very nice bonus in my opinion.

If I didn't get it free, I would only pay for the internet and get rid of the TV.

Frugal for Life

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ms. Sheila Whotiger said...

I work raising my kids and I get all the poo for free! I also get the laughter, the heart wrenching ups and downs, and tiny baby kisses.
Free books and travel sound like amazing perks. I really think that a part of this whole frugal money thing is balancing things so you love what you do that its worth spending your life energy on it. Sounds like we both stumbled into our right livlihood.

Jose Anes said...

Although I would not have made this concept a rule... like you, I love to travel.

That was exactly the reason I got my current position.

However, we have to think that all benefits we get from a company can be converted back to a salary.

For example, the espresso: A few hundred dollars a month in the salary would allow you to pay for your own machine and have it at your desk. The travel? A ten thousand more would pay for air tickets for a private (no work) three week vacation in most parts of the world. Even health insurance: ten thousand more would help you insure yourself.

Benefits are just disguised salary.

I like the spin that Sheila gives to it. If the company provides something you like for free, it helps you balance your life.

For example: if they provide a gym, and you get to use it, then you will gain an hour of your life (by not having to drive to a gym). Same thing if they offer on-site daycare, dry cleanning, etc.

The espresso example can also be seen this way. It is just a way of making your work day go by easier.

Money and Investing

Madame X said...

Yes, balance is key! And as Jose says, I have made choices balancing salary and perks. At my previous job I travelled a lot, to great destinations. I knew my current job wouldn't offer as much of that, but that the much larger salary I'd get would allow me to pay for my own travel. I also negotiated to get more than the standard starting amount of vacation, so I'd have some time to travel too.

yhurg said...

One thing my boss has taught me through the years is the importance of making your resources available to those in need. This is a tremendously effective networkign practice that opens up doorways for you down the road.

We do a lot of websites at no cost for companies and individuals. In return we get things like advertising, business referrals, material goods, etc. It has become a given in our company to help make other peoples' dreams come true.

Font Finder said...

After years of chipping away at my soul as a video editor in advertising, I finally made a transition into writing full time. I make way less than half of what I did before, but I'm much happier. I get free travel perks, hotel rooms, sometimes airfare, press trips, city passes.

I try to help other people and offer free research on travel deals or whatever else they need when I can.