As WFH spreads across the land, a new hack emerges that can let you achieve FI in half the time.
The financial independence community seems to be obsessed with hustles, i.e. income streams that exist outside of the traditional 9-5 office job. They use these hustles, which can range from blogging to dog walking, to either accelerate their path to FI, or supplant the 9-5 income in its entirety.
But one thing I never see discussed as a side hustle to your 9-5: another 9-5.
When I brought this up in my favorite personal finance lab, Twitter, it attracted a lot of comments. Several people claimed that they were already doing this with thriving side hustle businesses such as writing, web design, or what can only be vaguely (as somewhat shadily) described as “internet marketing”.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Here’s How It Works
Picture this: you strive to get a job as a full time employee for a Company A, an organization with flexible remote work policies. You interview several rounds, then get the job – complete with health benefits, a fancy title and a small team to support you. Then you go and do the exact same thing with Company B. Both jobs are done from the comfort of your own home, ideally in the same 9-5 block. The glorious advent of WFH means you don’t have to physically be at either company. As long as you get the work done, no one’s the wiser.
Think about the financial benefits of this strategy: you can live off one salary and completely bank 100% of the other. In effect, you are cutting your path to FI in half. As an example, let’s start with a job paying $80k. By banking $60k of it annually (tax strategy is key here), you could save $300k in five years – even at 0% interest. Let’s face it, I don’t care how many eBooks you sell, no side hustle is going to produce that kind of income.
Some have asked whether it would be far easier to simply get one $160k job vs. two concurrent $80k jobs. Well, I’ve had $80k jobs and $160k jobs (and $240k jobs) – and in my experience, the $160k job is way more than twice as difficult as the $80k gig. In fact, I believe level of difficulty rises not linearly, put logarithmically as salary increases. So much so that the only people that can handle top jobs like CEO are card carrying psychopaths.
Besides, the $160k job would probably entail long hours – and I want you to collect two salaries by literally working 9-5, i.e., no more than 8 hours per day. Two consecutive 8- hour shifts don’t count.
So How Can I Get Me a Double 9-5?
Well, first of all, I know this strategy isn’t for everyone – starting with the people that can’t or won’t even hold down a single 9-5 job. And not all (in fact, not most) jobs qualify. You can’t be a double neurosurgeon or a double law firm partner – although Jack Dorsey proves that you can theoretically hold two pretty demanding positions simultaneously.
Here are some basic guidelines on how to identify and capture your two perfectly complementary 9-5s:
WFH friendly – first off, WFH is the very foundation from which this strategy springs forth, like Athena from the brain of Zeus. Both jobs must be almost religiously dedicated to the concept of WFH. You physically can’t need to be in an office for either job, like, ever. It also helps if the job isn’t too over reliant on Zoom calls, as it’s tricky to be on two of those at once. And when there are Zoom calls, let’s just say that a culture that allows you to stay on mute and turn the camera off is ideal.
Beneath your skill set: You don’t have the time or the bandwidth to be challenged when you’re juggling the logistics of two concurrent full-time jobs. So target jobs that you may have been doing , say, a year or more ago. If interviewers are suspicious about you being overqualified, just mutter something about wanting to be home with a new baby and they’ll probably be thrilled to get someone that can ace the job day one.
Delegatable – this may cut into your margins slightly, but let’s face it, in many jobs a significant portion of the work can be accomplished by those wih a fraction of your skill level. One solution is to pass the easier stuff off to someone in a lower wage market who can handle it remotely; your nanny; or your own children. In the latter case, the kids can brag on their college application that they reported to the Director of User Experience at the age of 9 years old. And none of these folks will charge very much, letting you hold onto at least 80-90% of your salary.
Chill culture – the double 9-5 isn’t going to fly at a company like Netflix, which brags about how delightedly they fire people after three months. It also can’t be at a start-up struggling for its life, or famously hardcore cultures like Wall St or Silicon Valley. You’re looking for a legacy, entrenched industry that likely has gotten to where it is through some sort of monopolistic market stranglehold. Think cable companies, or large public entities like utilities or universities. And a government job, with its high benefits and low expectations, may just be ideal.
Side hustles are nice but not very useful in accelerating your path to FI. To really build wealth quickly, you need an extreme strategy. If you can find jobs with all of the above qualities, you just may be entering the final frontier of FI – the double 9-5. And if you’re really skilled at this game, you may even qualify for the final final frontier -the triple 9-5.
Caveat: you may want to check your employment contract before committing to any specific 9-5. It’s no guarantee you won’t be fired if caught, but you don’t want to blatantly violate your terms of employment. Good luck!
Have you ever had a 9-5 as a side hustle to your 9-5? Tell us about it in the comments below!