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Money vs. Job Satisfaction: How Much is Enough?

Posted by Sherry H. Rodriguez | Oct 09, 2023 | 0 Comments

Is money or job satisfaction the most important when making a career decision is a common and frequent question many of us ask ourselves.

While a big paycheck and growth potential can be enticing, especially if you are young and starting your career, there is more than just money to factor when taking a new job (or starting a new business). Think about your larger career goals and your personal and professional needs, responsibilities, and relationships. 

Further, earning a good salary has many advantages, but the same can be true from having a job that excites and fulfills you. And, you will likely stick with a job or position for longer if you are experiencing high levels of job satisfaction. 

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of both money and job satisfaction to help you think through which factor matters most to you right now. It's also important to recognize that the answers may change throughout your life and that's ok.

Salary Pros and Cons

It's no surprise that the more money you have, the more you can afford to have and do, such as buying a bigger house, going on a longer and more luxurious vacation, or even retiring early (whatever that means). 

High Salary Pros:

  • Financial security: With a high salary, you will be able to pay your bills and ensure you and your family's needs are covered, especially in emergency situations. This financial security also benefits one's mental health as you are not stressed about your finances or living paycheck to paycheck. Financial security often keeps individuals in their jobs, regardless if they enjoy it or not.
  • Afford a better lifestyle: If you choose to work until your sixty and have a high salary, you will be able to afford a better lifestyle into retirement because you have accumulated more wealth than someone who works for less money and time. Additionally, many better-paying jobs come with better benefits, like healthcare insurance, retirement plans, and social security benefits.
  • Work motivation: Employees who work for businesses that compensate and further incentivize for specific tasks, targets, or benchmarks often work harder in order to meet those targets. The prospect of earning more money on top of your offered salary will likely inspire you to stay in a job that may have lower levels of job satisfaction.

High Salary Cons:

  • Work stress: Money is power and with great power comes great responsibility. Employees with high salaries often have numerous responsibilities that can cause them to struggle with motivation to complete even the smallest tasks. Plus, any extra information or assignments can cause employees to derail completely which severely impacts their physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Loss of ambition: If the only reason you are in your job is because of the money, you will likely not be able to sustain your ambition and passion for the job itself. Further, a decrease in ambition will lead to lower levels of motivation and productivity at work and in your other interests.
  • Less time with loved ones: Higher salaries often demand longer work hours. There are only so many hours in the day, meaning if you have a job that requires long hours, you will have less time to be with your loved ones or attend milestone events like birthdays, weddings, and family reunions. Additionally, even if you have the time, you may be so run down by your job that the time spent does not feel meaningful. 

Job Satisfaction Pros and Cons

Having a job you love and are satisfied with can often mean you never feel like you are truly working, but it is often harder to obtain the high salary you desire. Yet, the benefits far outweigh the cons and is the reason so many new business owners start their own companies.

Job Satisfaction Pros:

  • Better well-being and fulfillment: Doing what you love ensures you are living a happier and more fulfilled life because you find meaning and purpose in what you do. This fulfillment also leads to having a more positive outlook, better relationships, and better physical, mental, and emotional health overall.
  • Opportunities to make an impact: High levels of job satisfaction are found in jobs and with employees making a meaningful impact on society. Whether it's a non-profit, government, or charity organization, employees know they are working to make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of others.
  • Learning and growth opportunities: Employees with high levels of job satisfaction are excited to go to work every day and are committed to learning new skills. They are also passionate about new innovations and strategies that will make them do their job more effectively and efficiently. 

Job Satisfaction Cons:

  • Financial Stress: Even if they love your job, individuals in low or lower-paying jobs will likely experience financial stress to pay bills. Further, unlike individuals with high salaries, they may not be able to pay for leisure activities and vacations.
  • Success takes time: Obtaining financial independence or ensuring you are financially secure upon retirement is harder with a lower-paying job. Individuals in these positions have to work longer in order to meet their financial goals and be more intentional about their saving and spending habits.
  • Lack of feedback: Lack of feedback is a common experience for those in lower-paying jobs, especially if you are starting your own business. They find themselves putting so much time, energy, and effort into their business but receive little to no feedback. Similarly, other employees try to offer input and feedback only to find that their company does not value or recognize their contributions. Both experiences cause employees to lose interest and progress in their careers.

Money vs. Job Satisfaction: Which One Should I Care About More?

As you may have guessed, there is no “right” answer to this question. Ultimately, it comes down to your unique and personal short-term and long-term needs and goals and your current circumstances. 

Obviously there are more factors to consider than just money or job satisfaction when choosing a job or career path.  And there are ways to lessen the cons and maximize the pros for each if you take the time to go deeper. But you have to start somewhere. Bottomline, be honest with yourself and keep asking yourself the tough questions. Does it make sense to stay in a job you are not passionate about for the higher paycheck - at least for now? Or, can you support yourself while taking a lower-paying job that you love and are fulfilled by? Is there a way to find a balance and have a little bit of both?

At R&R Legal, we strive to help businesses and business owners find high levels of satisfaction and success in all that they do by sharing our own personal and legal advice and experience.

Together, we'll keep you protected legally so you can focus on what matters most, your business.

Schedule your consultation with us today! 

About the Author

Sherry H. Rodriguez

Ms. Rodriguez is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of R&R Legal.  She leads the firm's mission to empower business owners to take control of their life and legacy with clarity and intention.  Her practice includes strategic business counsel and estate planning in New Jersey and New York. Gr...


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