The Importance of Having In-Demand Skills AND “F-You” Money

Last weekend, I was picking up a cake for my son’s third birthday party at a very busy bakery. I was standing near the back of the bakery while one of the employees was boxing up the cake and I overheard a conversation between another employee and the manager. As the employee was cleaning some trays, she timidly asked the manager who was standing nearby if she could come in a little bit late on one of the following weekdays because she had to drop her daughter off to school. The manager responded by saying, “Absolutely NOT!” The manager said that there would be no flexibility and that the employee can be easily replaced if she didn’t want that job, and that she shouldn’t bother showing up if she couldn’t make it in on time that day. Obviously, I only heard a few minutes of a conversation between two people I know nothing about, but having a young child myself and having to deal with pick up and drop off, I did empathize with the employee.

Whether or not the employee’s request was feasible, I would hate to be treated that way. It reminded me of another instance where I observed an employee being berated. I was working a summer temp job at a small manufacturing company during the summer of my junior year of college, filing some papers in a cabinet right outside of the VP’s office. He was going on a tirade, screaming and yelling at a shipping clerk for something insignificant. The VP was yelling at the shipping manager, a middle-aged man, as if the man was his misbehaving toddler in need of a good scolding. The door was open and it was audible to almost everyone working in that small office. This VP isn’t shy about scolding employees like little children and once yelled at the entire office about messing with the thermostat. Yes, that really happened! His father was the president of the company, so obviously he did not get his position based on merit or his superior skills in managing people. As I was listening to the tirade, I thought to myself that I could never stand to be treated like that and would stand up for myself if I was treated that way. Of course, I was just a college student and didn’t have a family to support like that shipping clerk, who just nodded and apologized during the VP’s tirade.

The shipping clerk and the employee at the bakery appeared to be hard-working individuals, but that isn’t enough. If these employees had skillsets that were in more demand and sought after in the workplace, it would be less likely the manager would treat them as they did. If they weren’t as easily replaced, the manager would think twice before acting like such a jerk.

However, just having skills and a resume which is more competitive in the job market does not automatically guarantee that you will be able to avoid such harsh treatment from your employer. This is why everyone needs to make sure they live below their means and are saving up “F-You” Money. Employees who live paycheck to paycheck and have tons of debt will put up with working in a hostile environment because they know that losing or leaving their job would result in a financial disaster. Having some money saved up will give you the power and courage to stand up for yourself and to tell your employer that they have to treat you respectfully. Knowing that you have financial flexibility and that you’d be okay without a steady paycheck for a little while will give you the freedom and strength to withstand the possible repercussions of being let go from your job. While it may still not be easy, not having the money will make it nearly impossible.

34 thoughts on “The Importance of Having In-Demand Skills AND “F-You” Money

  1. Brian @ Debt Discipline

    I seen these examples too, so unfortunately that the employee has put themselves in this position and that the manager is unprofessional. If you lack updated skills and are in debt you have little choice but to take these types of lumps. The good news that if you are will you can change your situation with a little work and sacrifice.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Building a Better NetworkMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Yes, we have the ability to change our situation with some hard-work and sacrifice. Not being stuck in a hostile environment is very good motivation.

  2. Aaron @IncomeHoncho

    I believe everyone should be able to have some kind of emergency fund in case of emergencies such as losing your job. I was once in a workplace just like this and it was not fun, I will no longer work for any small companies no matter how good the pay is.
    Aaron @IncomeHoncho recently posted…Getting Rich is Really BoringMy Profile

    1. Post author

      I’m not sure if this is limited to small companies, I would imagine this can occur in big companies as well.

  3. Elsie @ Gundomoney

    I love the idea of F-you money. It’s a cool way of saying save up so you aren’t bound to a terrible job or even just a job that doesn’t give you happiness. I notice most people live so over-leveraged day to day that they never have any walk away money. If there’s any single thing that made me want to save young it was that. I won’t ever be beholden to a bad boss or a bad situation. I’ll eat all the ramen it takes to stay financially free.

    1. Post author

      Exactly. I also notice many people living over-leveraged lives and without that financial security, they are always highly dependent on that next paycheck.

  4. Kristin

    Never really thought about it like this, but yeah–financial security is power, and an emergency fund is a form of financial security. I’ve been lucky that most of my employers have always been really understanding and supportive, but I’ve experienced a situation similar to the one you mention above, and it was the crappiest feeling ever. I felt really powerless and insignificant. When you have security, though, you have options, and you’re less at the mercy of an employer like that. It’s hard to get to the point where you feel in control, but small actions help. Even if it’s just socking away a hundred bucks in your fund, you’re doing something to empower yourself. Nice food for thought!

    1. Post author

      Money definitely gives you options and having more financial security is very empowering.

    1. Post author

      Sorry to hear that you aren’t happy with your job. From what I reading on your blog, you may be changing or moving to a different job/position, no? Hopefully things improve…or perhaps you’ll just reach FI and be done.

  5. DC @ Young Adult Money

    That’s so terrible to hear. It’s so sad when employers treat their employees like commodities instead of human beings. Even if you do have very specific skills, if you don’t have the financial independence to be able to walk away from a job you really have very little power and are at the whim of your employer.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…40+ Ways to Improve Your Finances This MonthMy Profile

    1. Post author

      It’s unfortunate that employers treat employees this way. Even if you don’t have financial independence, I think have a decent emergency fund/FU fund or whatever you want to call it, it at least gives you the ability to leave if you don’t think you can put up with it anymore. And if you have in-demand skills, chances are you can find a job quickly.

    1. Post author

      Right, you never know when you’ll need it and when you do need it, you will be glad you have it.

  6. ZJ Thorne

    FU money definitely changed my attitude toward my temp employer. I put up with less of their nonsense because I have the money to walk and I also have developed my skills to be even more valuable to the marketplace. They need me. So they have to treat me better. I was not in this position two years ago so I had to put up with unreasonable requests.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 13My Profile

    1. Post author

      Good that you’ve developed skills where employers will be less likely to take advantage of you.

    1. Post author

      Yes, I’ve heard him mention the video but haven’t had the chance to check it out. Thanks for the link.

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  8. Daniel

    I live from pay check to pay check and I don’t understand what happen. I make 135K -yr and I can’t make ends meet. Reading your stories make me rethink my spending habits. Thank you

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  12. NZ Muse

    Seriously, being professional valuable and honing those employable skills is so important. Your ability to earn an income is one of the most important things you can have.

    1. Post author

      Exactly, it’s something no one can take away from you.

  13. Done by Forty

    You nailed it here, Andrew. Having the ability to move on to other options (via your skills and strong financial footing) is what prevents you from ever being disrespected or taken advantage of in the workplace.

    One thing to consider is that skills may only have relative worth, rather than absolute worth. For example, coding skills are in demand mostly because they are rare, not only because they have intrinsic value. If too many people are adept at coding, it becomes fairly worthless: something we’d be able to purchase on Fiverr.

    While it’s great for us all do develop better skills, and certainly good for us to all save up some F you money, we’re living in an interesting time from an employment standpoint. People abroad probably have the skills to do your job. Technology has the skills to do our jobs in a lot of cases. We should certainly differentiate to compensate for this, but there’s a distinct possibility that there is not enough good-paying, unique work to go around.
    Done by Forty recently posted…Our Trip to AfricaMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Great points. That is definitely a complicated issue and I’m not sure how that will be resolved. Many jobs have become obsolete with technology and other jobs can be easily outsourced. I guess it’s important to have a skill that can’t be easily outsourced or taken over by technology.

  14. Financial Samurai

    Reminds me of the time working at McDonald’s for $3.65/hour. The manger was a tyrant and would yell at us for speaking Spanish while making burgers or apple pies.

    It was then, at age 16 when I knew I wanted to have enough money to never have to take this type of crap again… well at least until after I saved enough money after 13 years post college!

    Financial Samurai recently posted…How To Develop Emotional Intelligence: The Key To An Easier LifeMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Wow, $3.65 minimum wage! Yea, when I encountered those situations I wanted to never to have to deal with that. Though I never thought that financial independence was a viable option.

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