work-life balance | Work less, live more

With the pandemic, many people have questioned themselves and now want to work less to enjoy life more. How to know if they have the means for their ambitions?

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Martine Letarte

Martine Letarte
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Nancy, a dentist, has been working four days a week for 10 years because she wanted three-day weekends. But initially, she worked 12-hour days to maintain her high salary. “I got to work at 7:30 a.m. and left at 8:00 p.m. When I got home, I ate and went to bed,” she says. When could I take care of myself? During the week I didn’t have time to train and on the weekends I multiplied the activities with my friends. »

A few years ago she got fed up and started working eight hours a day. Then the pandemic came and she had to stop working for three months. “It was a shock to have so much time for things other than work! »

Then, shortly after, she was two months in recovery. She loved having time to herself.

So much so that she’s taking five weeks’ vacation this summer instead of three. Did she calculate whether she could afford to reduce her working hours so much? no

“I trust life,” she says. I have a good salary and I negotiated a better percentage with the owner of the clinic. I’ve still gone through a divorce that cost me a lot, but I’ll adjust. I will engage in less extravagance where necessary, such as in restaurants and clothing. »

Set your priorities

The first question to ask yourself before deciding to reduce your working hours is, “What is really important to me? says André Lacasse, Financial Planner and Financial Security Advisor at Services Financiers Lacasse.

“When it comes to having more time for yourself, to travel, to discover other cultures, it will be easier to reduce other expenses, for example expensive restaurants and wine, clothes or cars,” he says.

Prepare your budget and your annual accounts

Then it’s important to review the different spending areas to see if they align with the priorities. Do you know what you spend per year on subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix and Disney+? How much do your meals ordered on delivery platforms cost you per month? Have you compared your annual car costs to what a mix of carsharing, public transport and active transport would cost you?


Andre Lacasse

Often people don’t really know where their money is going. You have to look at what your habits cost and whether they really fulfill important needs for you.

André Lacasse, financial planner

“If you provide numbers for each expense center, it’s more noticeable and it’s easier for you to eliminate the superfluous. »

It is also important to prepare your annual financial statements to assess your assets and debts. “Not all debts are the same,” says the financial planner. For example, there is usually no rush to pay off a low-interest mortgage, which is ultimately an investment. On the other hand, we benefit a lot from quickly repaying the balance of a credit card with 19.9% ​​interest. »

The Office de la Protection du Consommateur’s calculator shows that paying out a $10,000 credit card at 19.9% ​​interest through minimum monthly payments without adding any purchases would take 19 years and 3 months. Total loan fees would be $8851.81.

To prepare your budget and your annual accounts, you can download the Excel files from the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) website.

Assess your retirement needs

According to André Lacasse, you need to carefully examine the amount of savings included in your budget and the assets invested in different accounts on your balance sheet.

“Many find themselves at one of two extremes: those not saving enough and those saving a lot compared to their needs,” he explains. How much do you need to save monthly to reach your goals? To find out, ask your financial planner for a retirement forecast. »

We will then adjust our savings budget item accordingly.

Evaluate your new income

Then comes the time to look at his income. We can try to negotiate a raise like Nancy did. Or accept an offer from a more generous employer.

But it can still be concerning when you look at the number of dollars you’re making per hour if you’re considering cutting several per year.

But once you’ve paid the tax, especially if you have a high tax rate, the real difference isn’t that big.

Andre Lacasse

The financial planner recommends using the Ministère des Finances du Québec’s disposable income calculation tool. Example: For a single person earning $110,000, their disposable income in 2022 would be $72,462. If she reduced her income to $100,000, her disposable income would drop to $67,493, a difference of $4,969.

“Not everyone can afford to work less, especially those on low wages, but many can,” says André Lacasse. And it’s not just the size of the salary that makes the difference, but also the ability to control spending. »

Four possible solutions to explore with your employer

Amidst the labor shortage, employers have a keen interest in being flexible when trying to retain their employees. And this can go through different solutions to give them a better quality of life while minimizing the financial impact. Caroline Maranda, Certified Human Resources Consultant (CRHA), lists four potential solutions to consider.

1. Flexible schedule

“I put several formulas in this category,” says Caroline Maranda. There are companies that allow employees to use their working hours when it suits them, others that require them to be at work for a block of hours a day, but they can start and end as they please. Others opt for a compressed schedule: for example, they complete all hours in four days. The solution strongly depends on the type of company and its culture, but one thing is for sure, companies are increasingly moving towards more flexible working hours. »


Caroline Maranda, Certified Human Resources Consultant (CRHA), Partner and Practice Director at human resource and global compensation consulting firm Viaconseil

2. hour bank

“Establishing an hourly bank can be a successful solution for both the employee and the employer,” says the CRHA. There are often busy times in the business and employees are welcome to work a little extra and have bank hours. For example, these individuals can choose to take vacations or work part-time during certain weeks and be compensated for their accumulated hours as if they were working full-time. »

3. Less hours, same pay

“The 40-hour work week that has been the norm for several decades is becoming a bit outdated, notes Caroline Maranda. The trend is to reduce it to 37.5 hours, even 35. Workers, especially the younger generations, want to work less. They have other important things in their life like sports, personal projects, etc.

“While everything costs more, employers are also under a lot of pressure to offer an overall compensation package that remains competitive. Continuing to offer the same wages but reducing the number of hours in the work week can be a win-win solution. »

4. Flexibility when vacationing

“Employers can also choose between, for example, a 2% salary increase and an extra week of vacation per year,” according to the CRHA. Or between a bonus and buying more days off. These solutions are relatively easy to manage for employers and can make a world of difference for people who want to work a little less.

“There may also be the possibility of deferred compensation: the employer pays 80% of the employee’s salary for four years and the fifth year, he is on sabbatical, but he is also paid 80% of his salary. . However, in the context of a staff shortage, it may be difficult for the employer to replace this person for just one year.

“Employers can also accept certain hours worked from abroad. For example, someone traveling for three weeks and working remotely for the first week of three. »

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