regarding ~ SALARY

Dear Daughter,

One of the many perks of writing this blog is that I get to research a bunch of stuff before sharing it with you to make sure that what I think is correct, in fact, is correct.  I have found that when doing this research, I often end up veering off and searching for other things that I find interesting or relevant to what I’m writing about that day.

Today is just such a day.  I have always found the word Salary to be strange.  Not because of what it means but just because of its name and what it makes me think of.  For some reason, even now, when I hear the word Salary it brings to mind either Salad or Celery.  This led me to look up the actual origins of the word today while writing this Memo in an effort to replace food with facts, in my head!

Let’s back up though and take a look at the actual definition of Salary before we discuss the origins of the word. According to Google Dictionary, Salary is defined as:

A fixed regular payment typically paid on a monthly or biweekly basis but often expressed as an annual amount, made by an employer to an employee.  As an example, a teacher in Washington makes a Salary of around $65,000 annually (per year).

This means that it doesn’t matter if you work 20 hours per week or 60 hours per week, your pay is Fixed at $1,250 per week ($65,000 divided by 52 weeks in a year).  This is great if you work 20 hours a week but not so great if you work 60!  By the way, the average workweek is 40 hours (8 hours per day, times 5 days per week).

The other way of getting paid is per hour or Hourly.  For every hour of work you do, you get a certain amount of pay. When you are old enough to get a part-time job, that amount is likely to be $15.00 or more.  For every hour of work you do for a business, they will pay you at least (minimum) $15.00. Compare that to when I was a teenager…..uh, how does $3.35 per hour sound to ya?!

That per hour pay is also called a Wage.  Almost every state has its own law about the minimum wage per hour every employee must be paid by any employer.  Washington state has decided that our minimum wage will be $15.00.  By the way, there is also a national or “Federal” minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  Luckily for you, the employee is entitled to the higher amount, be it Federal or State minimum wage.

So which is better, Salary or Hourly pay?  Well, I have earned both over my working life so let me give you what I think are the positives and negatives of each.



  • Consistent pay you can rely on week after week.
  • Typically better benefits such as paid vacation time and medical/dental insurance.
  • If the business is slow and you work less than 40 hours in a week the company pays you for 40 hours anyway.
  • Usually a better working environment like an office or at least indoors.


  • Many times in my life I have had to work 60-80 hours a week but made the same as when I worked 40.
  • Might be forced to work weekends and holidays.



  • If you work more than 40 hours in a week, employers usually pay you 1.5X your normal hourly rate.
  • If you work on holidays, employers typically pay 2X your normal hourly rate.


  • No guarantee the employer will work you 40 hours.  Cannot rely on steady weekly pay.
  • Benefits are typically worse such as limited or no paid vacation time and limited medical/dental benefits.
  • Usually more of a manual labor job requiring physical and tiring work.
  • Can often times be outside and exposed to the weather.

In the end, it comes down to what job you prefer, what is available, what has the best benefits, and what pays the most.  After those needs are met, then you can decide if Salary or Hourly is really all that big of a deal to you.

Okay, as promised, here is the origin of the word Salary……I know you’ve been waiting for it.

Apparently, the word Salary comes from ancient Rome.  The Latin words for it were Salarium Argentum which translates in English to “Salt Money”.  Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. Funny right?  Anyway, I guess they took the word Salarium and turned it into Salary as we know it today.  

I am going to go with this explanation even though I got it from a website called “Wiktionary” which is a free online dictionary.  Hey, at least it gets my mind off of vegetables!

Love, Dad

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