Early Career Benefits of a 9 to 5

The Benefits of a 9 to 5

Escaping the 9 to 5 job is a fantasy for many individuals in pursuit of financial independence. Many do not want to waste away in a cubicle staring at spreadsheets all day. And really, who can blame them? Why would you want to work for someone else’s dream when you can work for your own? If working for yourself is a dream of yours down then road this article will share a few advantages of starting your career at a 9 to 5.

Many organizations are starting to offer flexibility to align the traditional 9 to 5 with the up-and-coming gig economy. Organizations are realizing that millennials, who now make up the majority of the workforce, like to work differently than previous generations. Organizations who adapt to the changing desires of the workforce will be more successful in the long run simply by attracting top talent. Millennials tend to favor flexibility and purpose over job security and even money.

With that being said there are still many organizations where the 9 to 5 hasn’t yet adapted to the new generations. Regardless, there are several benefits that may make that 9 to 5 job worthwhile, especially early in your career.

Growth and Development Opportunities

There is a huge difference in the person I am now compared to 11 years ago when entering the workforce. Much of my growth during the past nearly 11 years can be attributed to on-the-job experience.

I came out of graduate school as a timid and inexperienced person with much to learn. A few of the skills I have developed over the past 10 years include:

  • Public Speaking
  • Relationship Building
  • Negotiation
  • Leading a Team
  • Gaining Followership
  • Written Communication

Regardless of your profession these are important skills to have in your tool belt. I’m not saying that I’ve mastered any of the above. I can say that on-the-job experience has allowed me to grow in these areas exponentially.

You can grow all of these skills working for yourself as well. However, when you have an opportunity to work in an organization with more experienced professionals you may find yourself in a better position to learn these skills from others. You’ll learn so much simply by surrounding yourself with great leaders.

Early Retirement Investing

The earlier in life you can take advantage of compounding interest the better. Many organizations even offer retirement matching options (free money). If you invest a few thousand dollars into a 401(k) for a few years early in your career you’ll set yourself up with a strong foundation. Even if you only invest for the first five or ten years of your early career, you’ll finish a millionaire. Having this strong foundation may allow you to take additional professional risks while your retirement savings are compounding.

See my previous post on the power of compound interest

Establish a Professional Resume and Credibility

One of the best ways to establish a professional resume and credibility is by starting a successful business. However, starting a successful business right out of school can be challenging. Especially with a lack of experience and opportunity to build skills. Another great way to establish credibility is by working for a great organization in a role that builds many of the skills mentioned above. Being able to say you work(ed) for a great organization gives you credibility. For example, if you are reading a blog from a former Google executive there is going to be some credibility established right up front.

Establish Your Side Business

If you already have a job that pays your bills, you’ll have the opportunity to establish your side business with relatively low risk. Set up your business by becoming a nighttime or weekend warrior. You can experiment with a variety of different businesses and if you fail it may not be a big deal. On the flip side, if your business happens to take off then you’ll have a tough decision to make.

Pay Down Debt and Establish an Emergency Fund

Part of setting a strong financial foundation is paying down debt and establishing an emergency fund. Dave’ Ramsey’s baby steps are the roadmap. If you are naturally a risk averse person like me, having little debt and a backstop of savings may allow you to take additional risk if you decide to step away from your 9 to 5 later in life.

When You Should Quit Your 9 to 5

There are a few situations where you should consider quitting your 9 to 5 job, regardless of your situation. You should not quit a job if it could mean losing your home or being unable to afford basic necessities. However, life is way too short to work a job where you are miserable. Here’s a short list of items to look out for:

  • If you are working long hours (60+) in a role where you are not passionate, you will burn out and be miserable. There is nothing wrong with working long hours for a short period of time. It’s just not sustainable long term if it’s not part of your life’s mission.
  • If you are working a job where the stress carries over from your job to home life. Most of us have a decent amount of stress in our jobs. However, if you are unable to manage the stress effectively and it carries over into your non-working hours then you may want to consider stepping away.
  • If there is minimal growth or development potential then you should try to find an opportunity providing better options. This doesn’t necessarily mean promotions or more money. It does mean that you should find opportunities to grow and develop your skillset. In most situations if an individual has some ambition and drive, they will find opportunities for growth and development even in the most mundane situations.
  • This probably goes without saying, but if you are in an abusive or threatening environment get out now. You should probably make a stop by HR on the way out as well to keep the next person from having to go through the same situations.


To be clear this is not an argument to take the path of a 9 to 5 job instead of pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams right away. The point of this article is many early career benefits can also be achieved through a 9 to 5 job. We all hear about the success stories of the big start up, though we have to realize for every one success story there are many other failures. Having a strong foundation financially, the necessary skills, and professional connections later on in life will benefit you regardless of your path.

I’ve mentioned before that I have been extremely fortunate to work for an organization that offers the opportunity to grow and develop, work-life balance, good benefits, and a mission that I support. If it’s up to me I’d work where I’m at for the next 20 years. However, as well all know these decisions are not always in our hands. Pursuing financial independence allows for us to have options if the organization becomes less favorable, we get burned out, or layoffs happen.

The traditional 9 to 5 job has gotten a bad reputation recently, especially among the younger generation. Some of the bad reputation is appropriate and many organizations are working to change. Regardless, finding yourself in a 9 to 5 early in your career can help you develop key skills, provide investing opportunities, and set a strong foundation for the rest of your life.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you agree or disagree with in the comments below. 


New Feature: Favorite Recent Content

Below are a few blogs, podcasts, or other content that I have recently enjoyed. I’d encourage you to check them out as well.

  • If you happen to be a blogger, you really need to check out Pete McPherson at doyouevenblog.com. I recently subscribed to the podcasts and have learned so much valuable information (now I just need to find the time to implement these ideas). A recent podcast with Grant Sabatier at Millennial Money is a gold mine of information related to search engine optimization (SEO).
  • For a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to be a finance professor, you should check out this blog post at bullincaptivity.com. I had a strong connection with this post as becoming a finance professor was something I strongly considered during college. I decided that getting a Master’s degree was enough schooling for me, but at some point I could see myself teaching at a community college or other institution where a Doctorate is not required.
  • One of my favorite new bloggers is Rocky 30-0 at 30and0.com. I love reading stories from individuals who have been awakened to the power of personal finance and how it carries over to all aspects of you life. His recent post titled “Is Salary Holding you Hostage” has a few similarities (and differences) to this blog post.
  • Finally, if you haven’t heard there is a new online community starting up called Women Who Money. This new site is dedicated to providing trustworthy financial information to women everywhere. Man or woman, I’d encourage you to check the site out!


  1. I support this article 100% btw, and not just because of the mention (thank you btw!).

    If I could get a re-do with my own professional career, I actually would’ve stayed with it longer until I better honed my side gigs 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment. I can tell from your podcast that you have a lot of passion around what you’re doing now. Sometimes we have to take that leap of faith to pursue our dreams. Like everything, situations are different for every person and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

  2. I started in a 9 to 5 and never stopped advancing. The pay always felt way more than I deserved and really skyrocketed near the end. I had a lot of fun the whole time so I never left until I just had so much saved up that it seemed crazy to keep working full time, and because an ownership change took some of the fun out of it. I know it doesn’t happen often but sometimes the job really turns out to be your dream. Now I’m slightly early retired I consult and blog and still am having the time of my life but I don’t regret the decades I spent at my former job. The various paid side gigs I do now and the volunteer work all resulted from the skills and networking my former job gave me. I’m very grateful to my former employer for not only making me FI but also for setting me up in my second life with transferable skills. Great post, while many people do need to get out of insipid 9 to 5 careers that isn’t true for everyone and almost everyone can learn some very valuable things on the job they can take with them when they leave!

    1. Sounds like you had a great career at your 9 to 5! I do think a lot of people love their 9 to 5, including myself (most of the time). There are also a lot of people who really are miserable and should find something that better meets their needs. With that being said, no matter the situation try to find opportunities to build the foundation and grow skills to position yourself for future success.

  3. Leading off with this: “Many do not want to waste away in a cubicle staring at spreadsheets all day.”

    Yo, I’d love to do that all day! Instead it’s headaches of managing other people’s problems because I am knowledgeable resource who get’s shit done. Never enough time to do the interesting projects, which I admit are not profit adders.

    But back on topic, your reasons for leaving the 9to5 are absolutely spot on. I left my last place because of #3 – afraid of stagnating forever. I will likely be leaving my current position because of #2. Long commute plus stressful day-to-day leaves me left for the life I want. I am hoping to find a better balance this next round. Experiencing the goods/bads is powerful though (as is cash in the bank) as I can make sure to get a better fit each time, but also have the power to say no. (Or make extra demands during the negotiation)

    1. Ah, yes, I have those days as well where I would like to only have to worry about me. Most days I enjoy managing people but I definitely have my moments.

      Good luck if you decide to jump ship. When I’ve had rough patches at my job the stress really does bleed over into home life. I find it hard to be present, don’t sleep well, drink more, and don’t eat as well. There’s almost a compounding effect to stress when it can’t just be left at work.

  4. Thirteen years in the 9 to 5 world definitely prepared me professionally and financially to step away and try to create my own thing. As an entrepreneur there is likely a higher chance of success if you’ve built a solid foundation. Ain’t nothing wrong with training wheels.

  5. I left a traditional 9-5 when I was 36, but enjoyed my time while it lasted.

    There are many benefits as you mention to having a 9-5, including having the time to prepare for an exit some day.

    I do find that most 9-5 jobs have some dead time throughout the day. So, it’s really up to us to make the best use of that time for our own benefit. It’s also free money from our employer when you’re not truly productive. 🙂

    1. Congrats on being able to step away from your 9-5. What was the first year or so like after you stepped away?

      I tend to have very little down time these days during the day at my 9-5, which is generally a good thing since I like being busy and feeling productive. Earlier in my career I had more down time. To your point though, I think most people do have some downtime and could turn it into a benefit if they make the most of it.

      Thanks for commenting!

      1. The first year was quite an adjustment. It’s kind of like running a marathon and all of a sudden you stop. But, it was a nice to try a lot of things I’d been putting off. Eventually things stabilized and I wouldn’t have it any other way now. 🙂

      2. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like all the hard work you put in early career is paying off now. Congrats!

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