Multiple Part-time Jobs - The Challenges

Working multiple salaried part-time jobs has countless benefits as I mentioned in my previous blog post. But, there are also challenges with this style of work and, if we're not purposeful and strategic, working this way could do us more harm than good.

One challenge is organizing our schedule. Juggling more than one part-time job is sometimes like putting puzzles pieces together. Keeping our schedule straight can be a challenge, but that isn't anything that a good calendar on our phone can't solve. I use a regular, hard copy calendar that was custom created for me by a former client rather than an App on my phone. For me, nothing seems to work like old fashioned calendar. 

Another challenge with having multiple incomes from salaried, part-time jobs is dealing with taxes on part-time wages. If enough tax isn't taken off monthly with each pay cheque, we can end up paying taxes at the end of the year on our combined income. In the past, I have had a chat with payroll in each organization to let them know I am working a few part-time jobs, so they can adjust taxes. I always suggest to talk to a payroll expert and tax specialist to help you with this. They are the professionals.

Another potential and serious issue is monetary increase in salary. If we are working part-time, we are more than likely not gaining height in terms of climbing the ladder of promotion and monetary value within an organization's salary structure. In a former blog post titled Climbing Trees Instead of Ladders, I highlighted that the ladder concept is not foolproof when it comes to stability. However, we can't ignore the fact that climbing the ladder is how many companies continue to structure their salary grid.

As a result, full-time positions will have a pay scale that will reflect an employee's education and experience, will be aligned with inflation and the cost of living and the employee can climb the pay scale ladder yearly until they hit the top. With working part-time, the salary structure may be based on an hourly wage or, in my case when I was teaching part-time, both full and part-time employees had the same pay scale but it took me two years to get to the next rung, double the time of a full-time worker. Whew...calculating like this, it would have taken me 20 years to hit the top and by that time, the climb would have made me ready for retirement but not eligible!

Lack of negotiation power can also be an issue with part-time work. In an organization that negotiates salaries, full-time employees will be able to negotiate based on increased responsibilities and/or performance. Depending on the job, part-timers may not have the negotiation power due to reduced responsibilities within a part-time job or because they are paid under a different structure. Long term, the inability to negotiate plus the slow climb up the ladder could produce what I like to call the "working poor syndrome" with workers working multiple jobs but not able to keep up with the rising cost of living because they can't climb the monetary ladder or negotiate for higher wages. There are several articles written on this concern regarding the gig economy and it's challenges. 

Retirement and benefits also have to be factored into the equation. Depending on the organization, part-time workers may not be entitled to benefits and retirement packages. We then have to save for retirement on our own and pay for the dentist out of our pocket. Based on the book The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton, Canadians tend to spend more than we take in. Consequently, saving for retirement and benefits on part-time jobs will likely be a stretch for many Canadians. That doesn't mean it isn't possible. With extremely disciplined spending and saving, I have known workers like Dr. Barb, in a previous blog post, who have worked multiple part-time jobs strategically as a retirement strategy. However, it concerns me that working multiple part-time jobs long-term without a strong plan in place may cause more harm than good.

The final issue is related to burnout. The potential for burnout exists in any job, full-time or otherwise. However, with more than one part-time job, we are learning more than one company culture, we are interacting with more bosses and co-workers, we are forced to learn more than one system of operation, and likely will have to learn more than one software system or master various technical skills related to each job. It can be a lot to adjust to and we may feel overwhelmed. It can be challenging, but a word of encouragement would be that I believe the skills I built adjusting and responding to different work cultures and people are part of the strengths I now have, honed from years of experience working multiple jobs.

Finally, when we hash out all of the challenges associated with working multiple salaried part-time jobs, we have to strategize carefully. I have met people that have successfully worked longer term in this way, but they are good with money. In other cases, this strategy may be a temporary solution that can potentially have excellent value for the reasons I covered in my first blog. As a longer term strategy, a wise idea is always to seek potential help from money experts like Money Mentors, a not-for-profit organization in Calgary, or a financial planner who can also help adjust budgets to match income, so we work and spend wisely. Having a financial plan in place over a longer stretch of time will help to make this a purposeful way to work.

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Money Mentors, Calgary +1 888-294-0076

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton