Money vs. happiness: How to choose?
One of my friends recently said the following to me:
"You're going to grow to hate the things you love, so do what you hate and make more money."
Gosh, that sounds terrible, doesn't it?
This goes back to the old adage that "money can't buy happiness." Personally, I disagree to an extent. Of course there are people who can live off of next to nothing and be happy, but I don't think that that's realistic for most of us.
Yeah, I COULD ride my bike to work through the snow to save on car expenses, but I'm pretty sure I'd be miserable. You COULD decide that ramen noodles are decent enough to keep you alive, but do you really want that?
On the flipside, are you going to be significantly happier buying a Bugatti than buying a Ferrari? What about buying a Ferrari over a five year old Mercedes? Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the benefits seem marginal at best.
Although a newish Mercedes sounds much better than a bike.
But, at the end of the day, it boils down to goals and personal preferences.
The Benefits of the Well-Paying Job You Hate
What are your goals? If I haven't got annoying with that idea yet, I'm sure I will soon. It's one of the most important things you can ask yourself.
Do you want to obtain financial independence early? Are you dreaming of starting your own business, but you're worried that you can't afford the risk? Would you like the freedom to work a job that you love, even if it doesn't pay much?
Assuming you don't want to work forever, you'll probably need to grow your income and spending gap. Here's an explanation of the idea from Paula Pant at AffordAnything. Chances are, you'll need to make more and/or spend less.
Most of us don't want to cut our spending too much (although it's not a bad idea), so what's your remaining option? Yep, earn more.
I guess that awful, high-paying job is your best option. Either that, or you develop what a lot of the internet refers to as a "side-hustle." Basically, this is a way to make money on the side. MoneyPeach has a long list of options in this article, but the choices are endless.
Either way, the higher your income, the easier it is to plow money away for later. If you want to accomplish your goals badly enough, it may not be a bad idea to suffer for a few years.
Is three years of hating your job worth twenty years of loving life? Up to you.
The Benefits of Enjoying a Low-Paying Job
I think this is a bit more self-explanatory, so I'll keep it short.
If your goals don't include needing massive amounts of free time to pursue your interests, then having a fun, lower-paying job might not be such a bad idea. Many people would be completely happy knowing that they get wake up to do something they love every morning, even if it doesn't bring in a fat paycheck.
"Find a job that you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."
For a lot of people, this is totally cool. If you're having fun and making money doing it, why would you switch to a job you hate? Achieving financial independence earlier than your 60s may not be as important to you.
We're all different and we all want different things out of life. Killing yourself for a few years at a job that makes your stomach churn might not be worth it.
However, referring back to the original quote, it might be possible that you get tired of your current job, even if you once loved it. We millennials are known to hop around in our interests and our professions.
While, usually, there's nothing wrong with this, it may reflect poorly on you if you were to switch employers every few months. So try to avoid it, if possible.
A low income may make it difficult to create a huge income-to-spending gap, but it probably won't make it impossible. Pairing your happiness with a bit of frugality can still put you in a pretty strong financial position.
At the end of the day, if you're happy and conscious of your spending, taking the lower-paying job might be the right choice.
Can money buy happiness? I really don't know. Is it worth being miserable at work so you can make more money? Again, I don't know. Both of these are totally up to you.
Personally, I don't think I'd be happy riding my bike everywhere, whereas people like Mr. Money Mustache swear by it. I also know that my goals do not include working a 40 year career at a major corporation.
For me, a couple years of somewhat crappy work would probably be worth an extra decade of doing something I really enjoy. The idea boils down to what your time is worth. If a few years of misery is worth a few more years of happiness and fulfillment, you should probably do it.
Or, be happy every day of your life and work a job you enjoy. Your goal may not be to escape your current working life. Money isn't everything.
Whatever YOU personally choose, make sure what you're doing makes sense. Don't just do something because it's presented to you. Do something that will put you closer to your goals and will allow you to do something that you love.
You can't afford to spend your entire life unhappy.
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