When I was in college, I’ll admit that my friends and I would bash the 9 to 5 lifestyle. We’d see people in their suits rushing off the metro near our campus and call them the “hoard” or refer to them as zombies. We, of course, would be novelists who sailed the world or brave souls who worked for nonprofits in exotic and unique locations. We thought that working a corporate, 9 to 5 job meant failure. We thought it meant death of the soul. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to look at what failure, success, and a good or bad career really mean, a bit differently. I wouldn’t say that I’ve stopped being a dreamer or stopped respecting the beauty in a freelance lifestyle. I would just say that I’ve found my identity in places besides my work, so if my work doesn’t totally fuse with my soul/passion, that’s alright. I’ll also say I’ve learned the value in paying bills. Here is why you should stop bashing the 9 to 5 corporate life.
Health insurance for you
Getting health insurance is pretty incredible. You hear about “benefits” in college and don’t really know how, well, beneficial they are. But with personal plans costing somewhere in the $240 to $440 range, but company plans costing you maybe a mere $100…or nothing…you can start to see the benefit.
Health insurance for your partner
Some companies provide health insurance for your partner, too, and your children. So now you’re looking at a savings of possibly a thousand dollars a month. Or $12,000 a year. Within no time, those savings can pay college tuition.
401Ks are sweet
Freelance workers and contractors don’t have a built-in retirement plan the way corporate employees do. Unless you set up a Roth IRA and are militant about putting aside money for it each year, retirement can look bleak. Meanwhile, many big corporations start a 401K for you and match what you put in it.
A regular schedule
A regular schedule becomes increasingly valuable as you get older, and especially as you have a family. When you work freelance, the work isn’t done until it’s done…and that could be at 11pm. So much for family life.
Company loyalty is rewarded
Companies tend to reward loyal employees. They like to promote from within, and create new positions for employees who have proven themselves to have a special set of skills. You don’t really find that in the freelance life.
You don’t get paid holidays as a freelancer. You have projects that need to happen by a set date and if that date is around the corner, and you’re behind on work, then you’re working on the holiday. You’re missing the BBQs and the parties.
Where’s the maternity leave for a contractor or freelancer? There’s no such thing. Your clients do not care that you have a new baby. They expect the same output of work, or you lose them as a client. Corporations often offer great maternity leave. Some even have childcare on site.
Labor laws are respected
Large companies have to respect labor laws. Everyone technically has to but, it is much harder, as a freelance worker, to get your temporary and one-time bosses to respect your time.
No hunting for work
While no job is 100 percent stable, when you work a corporate 9 to 5 one, the expectation is you’ll have that job for a while. When you’re a freelancer, you’re constantly having to drum up work. Half of your work is finding work, and you aren’t making money while you’re doing the search.
No competing for jobs
If you’re a contractor, you don’t get to relax just because you’ve found a potential client. Now you have to compete with other contractors, offering a lower bid. Sure, you compete with those requiring lower salaries for corporate jobs but, there is only so low the company itself can go, while still complying with labor laws. Meanwhile, some freelancers will work for dirt cheap, and nobody holds their clients accountable for paying them that.
Kids need stability
If you have children, they deserve stability. They shouldn’t have to move constantly, to chase your jobs. They shouldn’t fear having to move into a tiny apartment during a tough year.
Families need financial plans
When you have kids, you really can’t wing it on your finances. You need to have a pretty good idea of what your income will look like over the next month…year…five years. You can’t just “make it work” if you take a 70 percent pay cut for six months, due to lack of contract work.
There is payroll
If a corporation struggles to pay you, well, first off, that will rarely happen at big companies. But second, it’s easy to pursue them in court and get that money. Things become tricky when you’re pursuing an individual client for money.
There is camaraderie
You have built-in friends when you work at a company. They organize social events and retreats. The freelance life can be lonely.
Self-employment tax is high
Self-employment tax is very high. You can have some sticker shock when you think you’re making tons of money as a freelancer, and then it’s time to pay taxes. Taxes on wages are slightly more reasonable.