A Letter to Everyone Being Under-Paid at Crappy Jobs


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

November 11, 2018

I once earned a handsome $1 a day at a full-time corporate job.

Each day, I waited patiently for my pay-checks to come in. Each day, my naivety convinced me that they would eventually come. Each day, I worried myself sick about how to cover my expenses. Each day, I took every income-making opportunity that came my way, crappy or not. Each day, I hustled till I was physically and emotionally worn, wondering when I could get out of this rut.

Every single day had a similar routine – wake up, worry, hustle, worry more, and sleep.

For 6 months, this was my entire life. And it certainly wasn’t a good one.

So, to everyone out there who’s under-paid, to everyone out there who’s working crappy jobs – I feel you, I really do.

I know what it’s like to worry about how to cover your expenses the next day, let alone the next month.

I know what it’s like to wait for a pay-check that never comes. I know how much it hurts when you finally acknowledge that it’s never going to.

I know what it’s like to wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life. I know how much it stings when you realise that you’re selling your life away for a mere $1 a day. I know the anguish within you that wonders “is this all I’m worth?”

But perhaps I can help you see that not everything is all doom and gloom. I know you probably don’t believe me right now, but here are a few little reminders that you still have an awesome life. Even when you’re being under-paid in a crappy job.


1. The Night is Darkest Just Before the Dawn

I know you don’t believe me. I know everything seems bleak right now.

But you’ve come so far in life. Perhaps, you’ve survived a not-so-pleasant childhood. Or your days of schooling weren’t so ideal, with back-stabbing or bullying. Or a brutal job hunt, where you had to bear the brunt of hundreds of rejection letters thrown in your face. Or a shitty boss, breathing down your throat, ready to throw you under the bus at any moment. Or a tumultuous relationship, obviously toxic to everyone else but yourself.

Your life would never always be sunshine and rainbows, and there have been tonnes of crappy situations that you’ve survived, whether you gave yourself credit or not.

And you will survive this crappy job, the same way you survived all the other crappy situations in your life. If you’re doing everything you can to dig your way out of the depths of gloom, your time to shine will come. Even if all your effort seems fruitless right now.

Fast forward a few years, or even just a few months, and you will be working a much better job that pays you enough to cover your expenses, and allows you to save for a rainy day. You’d look back on present-day-you, glad that you had it in you to survive.


2. Every Crappy Job Teaches You Something About Yourself

I’m not talking about all the boring work stuff.

I’m talking about learning things about yourself, the stuff in you that you’ve never known before.

During my 6-month stint earning $1 a day, I actually learnt quite a number of things about myself. I learnt that I was pretty good at juggling 3-4 different side hustles, even though I was running myself a little ragged. I learnt how to manage my time better. I learnt that I didn’t need very much money to sustain my lifestyle. I learnt how to entertain myself for free, when I couldn’t afford to pay for even the cheapest entertainment. I learnt the various ways to possibly stretch a dollar.

Most importantly, I learnt the value of just $1. One single dollar. To many people, it’s nothing. But to me, it was one full day’s wage.

Even though I earn more money now, I’m still careful about my spending. Because when all you make in a month is $20, those $20 pair of jeans don’t seem so worth it after all.

Because of my crappy job that paid me $1 a day, I am more determined than ever to ensure that lifestyle inflation doesn’t get the better of me. I will keep hustling, keep saving, until I can be sure that I will forever be free of corporate jobs. Especially the ones that take advantage of your plight.

So, what is it that you learnt? Is it how to stretch your dollars while grocery shopping? Is it how to hustle on the side? Is it how to manage your time between your job and side hustles?

I am certain that there is at least one thing you have learnt. All you have to do is look for it.

Remember that hardship comes into our lives for a reason. Not to torment us, but to teach us lessons that we desperately need to learn. For me, the lesson I needed to learn was the value of a single dollar. And boy, did I have to learn that lesson well.

But to this day, years after quitting that $1-per-day corporate job, I still carry that lesson close to my heart. And it’s changed my life only for the better.


3. Your Life is Still Pretty Awesome

Most people measure success with tangible benchmarks, like a nice pay-check, a fancy car, a huge house, and the ability to spend on stupid shit.

Because of this, perhaps you’re a little embarrassed to disclose to others how little you’re being paid. Perhaps you’re looking at others, wishing you could have their luxurious life. I know I was, and I know I did.

I’ll admit, money is important to give you a life of freedom. But in the grand scheme of things, do you really need large pay-checks, a huge house, or a fancy car? You can’t take these things with you when you die, and you most certainly wouldn’t be wishing for more zeros in your bank account while on your death-bed, right?

Let go of these material trappings and look inward at your own life. What is it that you should be grateful about?

Do you have a family who loves you? A significant other who adores you? Friends that have your back? Other passions in your life? A burning desire to be someone great? Dreams for the future? A little cushion in your bank account? The lack of debt? A roof over your head? Food on the table?

There will always be a little bit of good in this world, if we take the time to look for it.


Crappy Jobs are Just… Crappy Jobs

They’re just that. A crappy job. A job that doesn’t define you, no matter how small your pay-check is. A job that you can choose to leave when you find something that pays better, or when you start your own side hustle.

Hell, maybe this crappy job has even taught you something about yourself. Like how to control your finances better. Or time management. Or that you’re a strong, resilient person who doesn’t let anything get in their way, not even a job like this.

Just remember that you’re still an awesome person, with lots of good in other areas of your life. This crappy job is just one little tiny area of your life. The rest of it, is yours to dictate.

Trust me, a few years or months from now, you’d look back at your misery, a smile will crack on your face and you’d be infinitely grateful for everything that it has taught you.


To a better future with a less crappy job,


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  1. Dragon Gal

    Hey Liz, Very inspiring words–what you said about your job not defining you is really resonating with me today. You are so right–we are all much more than our jobs. We have so many roles in our lives! Honestly, focusing on what you can learn from a terrible experience is great advice. It is really keeping a positive spin on things. Cheers! Dragon Gal

    • Liz @ Splurging on Freedom

      Thanks so much Dragon Gal! 🙂 I’m glad that you found value in this.

      About the positivity – Someone recently commented to me that I made my life sound completely miserable being in my current corporate job. I thought about it and I realised that I had been a little too negative about corporate jobs lately. So I’m trying to keep it positive here, and it means so much to me that you realised! 🙂

  2. Rob

    What you can take from crappy low paying jobs is getting insights into their business model. I’ve found really every business takes a different approach to things. Do what you can to pick up skills, use a bit of fancy language to make your skills sound impressive and try to move on to the next better gig.

    • Liz @ Splurging on Freedom

      You’re definitely right, Rob! I guess I didn’t include this point because I wasn’t interested in what I was doing at all. I just needed to earn some cash. (Definitely not good motivation, I know!) But yeah, definitely, there’s always something to learn work-wise when it comes to crappy low paying jobs! And you’ll get better at your next job 🙂