Are You Paying Too Much for Your Job?

This is a post from Neal over at After reading the article, be sure to sign up for free at Wealth Pilgrim to receive more from Neal.

You might be paying a very high price for the work you do. In fact, it might make a lot of sense for you to take a lower paying job or stop working all together.

This thought occurred to me recently while I visited my daughter in Israel.

She’s a student and she’s also working part-time. I’m a huge fan of working through college but the next 6 months are really critical for her future.

You see, she’s studying for an exam that will determine what she’ll be able to major in. That in turn will have a huge impact on what career she’s able to pursue later on. You can see that it’s very important that she do as well as possible on that test.

I suggested that she quit her job and let me kick in a few shekels each month. She in turn would be able to devote all her attention to the exam in March. She’s a proud kid and very independent. She told me she’d consider my offer and get back to me.

If she does accept the help, it could be a huge win for all of us and I personally think it’s a no-brainer. The amount of money she needs to support herself is very modest. She doesn’t need the support for very long and the payoff could be huge.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Think about how you spend your day. Is it the highest and best use of your time? Is it consistent with your long-term dream? Do your daily activities get you closer or further away from your ultimate goals?

Let me give you another example.

Let’s say your dream is to become an attorney (if so, may the Lord have mercy on your soul). In order to that, you have to go to law school of course.

But let’s say you don’t have any outside support possibilities.

Assume you have to continue working as a receptionist in order to keep a roof over your head. Are you doomed to spend the rest of your life with a headset strapped to your scalp?

No way.

You can still apply these principles.

You may not able to quit work and devote all your energy to law school, but if you want to be an attorney badly enough, you could look for higher paying work that will allow you to pursue your dream.

You might become a food server in a classy restaurant for example. That might give you the money and time you need. Of course, you might have to start out as a lowly dish washer and work your way up. That might bruise your ego. But in this case, it could make more sense to be a dishwasher (at lower wages) than to continue your work as a receptionist. Make sense?

Have you ever voluntarily gone a down a notch economically in order to pursue a better future for yourself? Are you willing to do it now?


  1. I understand your point, get a job with more potential, like tip income or commission. otherwise you’re stuck in a slot where you can’t accomplish your goals.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  2. One other point, for coulpes, if one is in a lower paying job, and they have young kids, it may be less expensive for that one not to work then pay for day care when all work expenses are figured in,

  3. Along the same lines as Dave’s comment, I work at a lower paying job in order to be a few blocks from home, just around the corner from my kids’ school. My husband’s commute isn’t too long (about 30 minutes, but on mass transit, which is unpredictable, of course.)

    To accept this position, I turned down a job that would’ve paid nearly $20K more. But I calculated that, after taxes, adding in commuting costs, extra childcare costs, etc. – it just wasn’t worth it.

    Best of luck to your daughter!

  4. Great post. I’m actually in somewhat of a different position — I’m an attorney practicing with a big firm and am contemplating getting out of the firm life or possibly out of the law altogether. In this case, I could be looking at a dramatic step back compensation-wise, at least at first, but I’m hopeful that any step back would eventually enable me to take leaps forward. And regardless of comp, the lifestyle doesn’t seem sustainable to me, especially as I approach engagement, marriage, and raising a family. While I will have to support them financially, there has got to be a better way that will enable me to spend more time with them and that will not require me to sacrifice pieces of my soul and pride.

  5. I took a day off per week – voluntarily – while my house was under construction. I could do more work on the house myself because of it. This saved me paying someone else to do it – and when I figured out the savings – I made MORE (by not paying someone else) per day than I had been making at work. ie, I didn’t have to work all day to pay someone else to do the work at more cost than I was making for the day.

    It resulted in an increased net cash flow by taking the day off 🙂

    And now that I am older, the time off to spend with family/grandkids is more important to me than the money from working. My needs are very simple. And I’m debt free – so it gives me that option to work less.

  6. Hey Neal, you’re a busy man for being on vacation!! 🙂

    It’s great your daughter works PT. Just make sure her PT job doesn’t negatively affect her studies. As soon as there’s a hint of pressure, perhaps it’s best for her to just focus on her studies the last 6 months?

  7. Abbey #3 – Great job on doing the math and coming to the decision you did. I imagine that very few of us would be so detailed. Nice!

    ThirtySomething #4 I really salute your willingness to re-examine your career and take bold action. One of my friends started as a mortgage broker, became an attorney and is now in the process of becoming a therapist! We only go around once…why settle?

    Marci – also, nice job on thinking it through!

    Sam #7 – Hey buddy…..I’m on my way home sitting in Ben Gurion airport – they have free internet!!!

    And I agree…..I’m hoping she’ll accept my offer. I’ll keep you posted….she’s really hard headed. (Wonder where that came from?)

  8. Timely post.
    I am leaving my current high stress job for a job with less pay but better work/life balance, less on call time, and more opportunity in the future.

  9. I took the lower paying job because- even with all of the heart and headaches- it is the thing that I most love to do. I will never regret going back to the classroom.
    I hope your daughter takes you up on your offer.She should do what she dreams of doing.

  10. 12 years ago our dream was to have one of us at home with the kids. However, I was the breadwinner with no benefits while my wife’s company provided benefits but little income.

    Cumulatively, we took a 50% pay cut when she quit working and I took a corporate job for the benefits.

    Turned out to be the best thing ever; she is home with the kid’s everyday, we have benefits, and I love the job.

    The best part of the whole deal was that we couldn’t adjust quickly to a new standard of living and got into debt. This forced us not only to reign in spending but also learn more about our finances and establish budgets and a long-term plan to achieve a comfortable retirement. Except the mortgage, we are now debt free and couldn’t be happier.

    Sometimes the most difficult choices are the best ones you can make!

    Great Post! Good luck to your daughter!

  11. I wish my parents made me an offer like that when I was in school and struggling to make ends meet. I didn’t have that support, so my life took many different turns, but who knows what coulda been had I had a dad like you…

  12. I really enjoyed this post, Neal!

    Being a recent college grad myself, I know first hand the stresses of finishing school strong and having the money to keep oneself afloat during and immediately after school.

    I was able to find a part time job that could have become full time in the non-profit field (my preferred place). Unfortunately with the economy tanking as it has, they had to cut my position. So, I took a lower paying job with the bonuses of it being within my field, a benefited position and a two mile commute. Although I wish I made more, I can see that the position will put me on track to learn about non-profit management and will help me transition to a better and bigger job down the road or perhaps an advanced degree when I have the financial flexibility to make that investment.

  13. Mommy Reporter – #12,

    I also had little support and as a result had to work really hard and had many twists in my life as well.

    Just the same, I’m kinda glad for those hills I had to climb. I learned a lot that way too.

  14. I agree with you sometimes it seems like you are better off not going to work, benefits are often higher than wages