The Many Benefits of Hard Physical Labor

Boy, if I didn’t win you with that title, I don’t know what will do it! If you read this far, you’re probably a glutton for punishment. Good for you! You are on the path to growth!

Let’s address the onerous title. Yes, I absolutely recognize that hard physical labor sucks. Believe me, I’ve dug enough holes in the rocky New England soil to understand that the phrase “break ground” can sometimes be completely literal.

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Hulk dig!

If you want to look at tasks like digging holes and stacking wood like a sentence of laborious drudgery to suffer through, then the whole DIY idea might not work our too well for you.

On the other hand, if you can recognize the incredible benefits offered to you by the shovel or the hammer, you are allowing yourself to be indoctrinated by a new superpower, one that will give you an enormous boost on your path to FI (Financial Independence).

How Could Having a Hammer be a Super Power?

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Why are his shoes alive?!

Remember when I told you about my kitchen remodel project? Or the time Guest Expert Dan the Builder and I replaced one window with two? Those are a couple of big, expensive projects that could have really put our budget in a tailspin.

With a little bit of skill, a bit of gusto, and a lot of swearing, I managed, with a little help from my friends, to perform some truly admirable transformations while spending minimally. When I pulled out the fetid mess that was my bathroom and made it somewhere rats don’t go to die, my home was changed from squalor to beauty, and I did that with my own two hands. A couple other hands may have helped as well, but that’s beside the point.

The fact is I saved my family a ton of money by developing the skill set required to do projects like this, and that money is instead sitting in an investment account creating compound interest.

It’s Not Just The Money

There are a couple of fantastic benefits to be had from hard physical labor that aren’t just about the savings. Maybe the idea of sweating through a couple of shirts in a day just to build a compost bin so you don’t have spend the money to buy one doesn’t quite justify it for you.

In that case, let me introduce you to Satisfaction. Satisfaction comes around when you get to the end of a long day of hard work, gaze upon the fruits of your labors, and say in a gruff and manly voice, “I need a beer!” And then, while you’re drinking that well-earned beer, you say, “look at what I made today!” Because you are a creator of things!

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Look for future “How to Build a Pat-Yourself-on-the-Back Machine” post

One of the things i have always enjoyed about my chosen profession is the great joy of beholding the obvious and tangible results of my day’s work. I can look at the many feet of conduit I ran, or the newly-lit barn, or whatever was done that day, and relish the amazing sense of Satisfaction I get from knowing that I built something useful.

And Another Thing

There is even a third category of greatness involved with physical labor! Can you believe it!?Ok, I’ll try to tamper my excitement a little bit, but this one really gets me going.

As you may have inferred from some of my previous articles such as My Little Workout Program or Who Says Cardio Has to be Boring, I have a soft spot in my chesticles for all things fitness-related. And guess what? Doing physical labor is like getting paid to work out! Yes, even if you are just doing a project for yourself! Let me explain:

Let’s say you are looking to install a post light out by your driveway. I’m using this as an example because I was just asked to do this recently, and I think this would be a great example of how to save money for the typical homeowner who may not feel totally comfortable doing the job themselves but they still want to save money.

Now, you may not want to bury an electrical line yourself, and you might not feel ready to start working on the complicated and slightly scary electrical system in your house. No problem! You can still help out, save yourself a bunch of money, have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, and get a great workout in the process!

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I pick things up and put them down…in long-term investment strategies

As an electrical contractor, I am occasionally expected to dig a trench. Usually for something like the above mentioned project. Often, when I tell the customer what my hourly rate is compared to the level of complexity involved in digging said trench (almost none), they will start thinking of ways to get around my hands on the shovel.

Consider this: My hourly rate, which sits around $10 per hour less than most electricians in my area, is $75 per hour. If the trench that needs to be dug will take 4 hours to dig, that’s a $300 hole. You could certainly find someone willing to dig a trench for much less than that, say around $20 per hour. The cost of that hole has dropped to $80, but then there is a good chance that the trench won’t be exactly to specifications, so I’ll have to spend some time fixing it. Add another $50 to be safe.

Now figure you have decided to take on this glorious and honorable task yourself. You just paid yourself a solid $130 bucks! And you will get a fantastic strength and cardio workout in the process! In other words, instead of paying for one month at a fancy gym, you actually get paid to work out! And you will be developing stronger, more forceful hands, leading to a better and more confident handshake, which could be the key to opening more doors professionally. All by digging a hole!

Betcha Didn’t Think of it Like That

Have I got you thinking yet? Are you looking at that impending DIY project with slightly less doom and dread? Are you starting to ponder the idea of buying your kids shovels for Christmas?

With a little mindset shift, laborious work can go from headache and drudgery to a money-making, happiness producing, muscle growing enterprise that bubbles over in your Positivity Life Bucket. Ever wondered why the Seven Dwarves whistled while they worked? If you ever saw their bank accounts and their abs, you would know!

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11 thoughts on “The Many Benefits of Hard Physical Labor

  1. I was already going to comment, but now that I realized you linked to my post, I feel like I need to comment TWICE…okay okay just one.

    I definitely relate to this one. I think as a society we’re obsessed with convenience and spending money to make our lives easier. That leads to the belief that if you can avoid physical labor then you should. I especially see a lot of high income earners talking about how they’d rather spend their time NOT doing physical labor or chores or whatever because their time is so valuable and they can pay someone else less.

    I think that philosophy totally misses the point and there’re so many other benefits, as you’ve laid out. Especially for someone like me that makes my money in front of a computer screen, building something or even doing something as simple as mowing the lawn is a rare chance to put my body to work and to very clearly see the tangible result of my labor. Not something that happens as often with managerial and consulting gigs.


    1. You definitely nailed it Andy, and I’m realizing the pun there only after I wrote that! Good thing I didn’t screw it up! Ok, I’ll stop.
      I appreciate your input, and I’m glad you can identify with the message. If people who spend their days making virtual things could recognize the gift of tangible accomplishment and all of the other associated benefits, this world would be a better place. Or at least a healthier one.


  2. In your experience, have you ever run into someone that attempted the DIY style but ended up costing them MORE by the need to repair their damage and then correct it?

    I love getting my hands dirty and learning skills. However, I’m always petrified of getting myself in over my head, discovering that I did it totally wrong, or causing real damage in the attempt.

    BUT…That’s never happened, I recognize they are my own limiting beliefs, and I have an incredible amount of man-pride each time I successfully DIY something myself.

    Great writing in this post!


    1. Thanks for bringing that up, that’s a great point! As a matter of fact, in one of my first posts ever, called The Great Boiler Snafu, I talk about how I learned the hard way not to mess around with oil burners. Didn’t blow up the house, but maybe almost.
      I do think it’s a good idea to kind of “ramp up” the difficulty level of your DIY projects, and that would probably help avoid the “in over my head” syndrome.
      Also, if you feel like you’r getting in too deep, there’s always YouTube!


  3. My job was all mental, and as a chemical engineer it was more complex than even most other thinking jobs. I had done many physical jobs in the past hauling hay, roofing, assembly line factory work, lawn work and even throwing newspapers from a bike as a kid. I love hard physical recreation, extreme hiking, tennis singles against kids a third my age, distance running and skiing but I don’t enjoy manual home projects much. Fortunately my farm raised wife loves them. She could have written this post. I still prefer to consult a day a week and only occasionally assist her with the heavy lifting. OK, I’m a wimp!


  4. I have been doing garden clean outs and yard work as a side hustle for a few years. It still amazes me that I get paid to essentially work out! Life is good in my little blue kayak! Nice post!


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