I make $10.50 an hour

 Your income, what do you make?  Wait; before you answer you may want to consider how you answer.  This is one of those questions in which the framing of your answer reveals as much about you as the content of your answer.

I had a friend in college who used to say “it’s a stereotype for a reason”, and he was largely right.  Assumptions about people are never always true but the generalizations exist for a reason.  They are not birthed of thin air.

Typically speaking there are two ways in which people answer the income question.  They will answer by sharing either their hourly wage or annual income.  And while the difference between these response types is only a simple math equation, it can also represent a tremendous gulf in mindset.

I will elaborate in 3 Acts:

Ignorance is bliss

By answering with my hourly rate I am tacitly admitting that I do not know my true income.  And frankly, I probably do not really want to know my actual income.  I just know that I work hard and I am rewarded, every hour on the hour.

In some ways $10.50 is a big number.  In all my working days I have never made that much per hour – the closest I have come was when I did landscaping in college for $7.50 an hour.  But in saying that, I must also admit that for many years now I have made considerably more than $21,000 per annum. 

I only trade this for that

I work, I get paid.  I work extra, I get paid extra. I work less, I get paid less.  I work, I get paid.

When I discuss my income in terms of a lowest common dominator, I reveal my views on money.  To me money is only an exchange of time and effort.  In this way, I am creating significant limitations for myself.  If I view $10.50 as an acceptable hourly wage how then can I ever envision a day when I make $20, $30, or even $50 per hour.  The answer, often times, is that I cannot.  The gap is simply too large.

Given this mindset of hourly exchange the perceived gap between $10 and $25 per hour may be larger than the actual gap between $50,000 and $100,000 salaries.

On the other hand, when I view my income is an annualized total – not necessarily a salary as such – I am viewing my relationship with money on a grander scale.  No longer is money limited to an expression of what I do, but it begins to speak to what I am.

I cannot see for all the trees

To be blunt, answering the income question with an hourly rate is using little boy logic to address a big boy issue – the health of your family’s financial future being the issue.  My basis is thus – if the mindset for an activity that consumes well over a third of one’s life’s energy is wrapped around an hourly exchange rate, then how is buying a car anything but a discussion of monthly payments or worse a mortgage anything other than a life time sentence? 

When your income is purposely measured on the smallest of scales, some purchases can only appear impossibly large.

This is not to say anything negative about how your pay is calculated.  A salaried worker can earn a low hourly equivalent while an hourly pay/bill rate can generate great wealth.  However, the challenge is to address your point of view if you ever aspire to change your vantage point. 

Dan Miller, career coach and author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and No More Mondays, talks about the difference between someone looking towards only the end of the week or month vs. someone who looks years into the future.  Clearly one is a poor-spirited approach while the other is grounded in a spirit of growth, wealth, and abundance.  Dan argues that if a broke person aspires to be rich then he or she first needs to adjust their mindset to one appreciative of a longer time horizon.  This shift will empower opportunistic thinking by exposing a vast horizon – take a class, read a book, invest in self today with the vision of a brighter future. 

This is a change so subtle, so easy, so simply math yet so significant and empowering.  Do not financially walk through life with your head drooped down starring at your toes.  Instead look up and you decide which where you want to be and then go… and enjoy.

Your Turn – If you enjoyed this article, I would personally appreciate it if you would consider commenting below and/or subscribing to our Free Updates via email or RSS updates.  Thanks!

Category: Career

14 thoughts on “I make $10.50 an hour

  1. Grayquill on said:

    Some interesting points – how we view our income and how we think. I have thought about money in both ways at different times. I remember placing want ads – depending on the position, I found almost always a better response came from using an annual income figure instead of an hourly rate.
    Thanks for making me think today! – Grayquill

    Grayquill’s last blog post..Animal Death Policy

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      @ Gary – interesting case study you were able to share – thanks! Glad you enjoyed the read, hope to have you contribute to the discussion again!


  2. Lindsay on said:

    I think a lot of people who state their hourly rate work part time or do contract work and don’t necessarily have a set annual income.

    That point aside, I think the real mindset shift comes when you realize you’ll never achieve true wealth if your only income is derived from a job.

    Lindsay’s last blog post..What Is a Blog Carnival?

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      @ Lindsay – good points all around… bill rates are different from income, and wealth does come from more than just our income. Thanks for sharing!


      • pfincome on said:

        I agree with Lindsay’s points about realizing not to rely on a job as the only form of income. I think that is so very important!

        • Dave Ozment on said:

          I mostly agree… we should not enter into an employment situation with our eyes closed thinking that our employer will take care of us. We are in control of our destinies be that through a series of conventional employments or something on our own.

          There’s an author today – I think either Dan Miller or Rabbi Daniel Lappin that says we should treat our employers as our customers… in that way we remain in control and we can follow this model with one or many employers or customers at any given moment.

          Clearly not everyone is made to start and run their own business, but everyone should enter the job market with appropriate expectations and accountabilities.

          I personally love the idea of passive income and one day creating enough passive income to enable greater personal freedom (I plan to follow bloggers such as you guys to learn more), but in the meantime, the idea of a more conventional employment model resonates with me – partly because it is what I know and partly because I like being a part of something much larger than just me. But I must enter these arrangements with the proper mindset.

          Thanks for sharing and advancing the conversation, I hope for more!

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      @ OD – didn’t mean to mislead but glad you read through and added a comment…. I’ll have to check out your work as I’d love to set up passive income streams.

  3. Brandon on said:

    Thanks for reaching out! You have a great blog here and I’m excited about digging deeper. I also am a big fan of Dave Ramsey and appreciate the foundation of the financial principles that he teaches.

    Brandon’s last blog post..What is a meme?

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Thanks TAM and right back at you, I look forward to reading your work as well. Thanks to Dusty for ‘linking’ us!

  4. HS on said:

    I would say we make $50 an hour but after taxes and expenses that probably comes out to $23 per hour. To me its all about the passive income, on a good day if I trade stocks I can make 3,000 in 4 hours.


    HS’s last blog post..Citi Forward Card

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      I love the idea of passive income streams so I’ll have to check our your site… I still think there’s a mentality at work when we lift our view from short to long term horizons. There may be income structures that pay out by the hour – even doctors and high profile attorney’s have hourly bill rates but they view their income on an annual scale.

      To be fair, my inspiration was a caller on a radio program several weeks ago. The man was a truck driver and when asked how much he made he responded proudly that he made $10.50 per hour. When the host responded, “ok, so about $21,000 per year”, you could hear the realization and disappointment in the caller’s voice as he agreed. It lasted half a second but it was chilling. It was the back scene in a movie you miss the first 2 times watching it… and clearly it resonated with me.

      That is some wicked budget calcs if you have all your expeneses aggregated and allocated to the hour. That’s pretty neat.
      I have to say it, day trading scares the crap out of me… but kudos to you if you can make it go!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m forever interested in the reactions and discussions. I hope you’ll stop by again… now to find that link back to your site!

  5. Debbie on said:

    How much I make depends on what I am focused on. For my financial security I focus on my salary for the year and the real possibility of even small yearly raises making my salary grow beautifully.

    For wanting to purchase an item like say my new laptop, I focus on my hourly NET pay. Then I think about how many hours I must work in order to fully purchase said item with cash. Much easier to decide if what I get out of an item is worth working that many hours. My new laptop took 58 net hourly pay and for me it is worth it but I thought about it for quite a while.

    Debbie’s last blog post..The Latest

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      I think that’s a great approach…. I was leaning straight towards the income side of the equation and I think we need to learn to open the door or take the lid off our potential on that end. At the same time, and at the other end of the spectum, we need to tightly manage and oversee our outflow.

      Thanks for adding that nugget to the discussion!

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