For some people, it is a slam-dunk decision. They don’t care about job satisfaction as long as the paycheck covers the bills at the end of the month. Instead, they clock in every morning and do just enough to avoid the sack. Plenty of jobs fall into this category, but most of them are low paid casual jobs. For others, a paycheck is an added bonus. The conundrum we are going to attempt to answer in this article is how to decide between job satisfaction and a paycheck.
What is Job Satisfaction?
Job satisfaction is that warm, fluffy feeling you get when you head to work or go home after a long but rewarding day. If your job is satisfying, you probably won’t care all that much about earning a hefty paycheck.
People find their job satisfying for all kinds of reasons. For a psychotherapist working with abused kids, the job will be harrowing and stressful in equal measure, but the sense of satisfaction that comes from guiding a traumatized child towards a better future will give the therapist a huge sense of personal satisfaction. The same applies to a heart surgeon. They are probably under a lot of pressure, but the desire to “make a difference” will more than compensate for the stress of the job. Some people love science, writing and they want to help others, so they choose the profession of dissertation editor, which is quite stressful as well.
Even menial jobs can be enormously satisfying. Perhaps you are a caregiver working with the elderly. You probably don’t earn a huge amount of money. In fact, you may only be earning an hourly rate on a temporary contract. Despite this, making an elderly person’s life more comfortable or chatting to a lonely old woman with no family will make you realize how important your job is, even though the pay is terrible.
How Important Is a Paycheck?
For some people, job satisfaction is irrelevant. They need to earn enough money to pay the bills and as long as their paycheck keeps coming, the rest doesn’t matter. If you have a family to support or a big loan commitment, earning enough money is critical. You can’t afford to take a job that doesn’t pay enough, even if it is your dream job. It’s harsh, but that’s life.
This is why many people end up in menial jobs on a road to nowhere. Even though the job is not a good fit for their qualifications or they are overqualified, they are earning a regular paycheck and the rent is covered. Unfortunately, once you have responsibilities and a family to support, a paycheck is often more important than job satisfaction. After all, even a job that makes you happy won’t continue making you happy if you end up being kicked out for non-payment of the rent.
Finding a Job that Pays Enough
Using a net to gross calculator is one way to determine whether a job pays enough. This will tell you the minimum amount you need to earn to cover your outgoings. Once you know this, you can decide whether the job is right for you. If it does pay enough, job satisfaction is the next consideration.
Job Satisfaction vs. Money
Think carefully about which one of the above is more important to you. For some people, the answer is simple: they have bills to pay or debts to service, so it doesn’t matter whether (or not) they enjoy their job. For others, money is a secondary factor. They might not need a paycheck, but they work to pass the time or gain a measure of satisfaction from being useful to society. If this sounds like you, congratulations, as you are in an enviably strong position.
If you fall into the former category, it is very important that you look for a job that pays enough. Many people live beyond their means. This doesn’t matter if you have a bottomless pit of trust fund money to fall back on, but if your paycheck has to last until the end of the month, it is a good idea to avoid jobs that don’t even pay the rent, even if they sound amazing. So, that voluntary job cuddling kittens in the local animal shelter is a bad choice if you have mortgage payments or a sick partner to support.
Make Money a Priority
You should always make money a priority if you have a family to support and debts to pay. A lack of money is a serious situation and not being able to buy food or electricity will cause you significant problems.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, sit down and look at your income and expenditure. You will probably find that your income does not cover your outgoings, or it if does, there is very little left over at the end of the month.
To address this problem, see where you can make savings. There may be payments you can cancel, such as a gym membership you never use or a cable TV deal you don’t need. Think about smaller expenses, such as a morning latte or a weekly trip to the movies. Cut down on all but the essentials until you are able to get back on your feet.
Build Up Your Savings
Look for a job that pays more than you actually need. That way you can start to build a savings account. Ideally, you should have a minimum of three months’ worth of income in a savings account. You can use this money to cover unexpected bills or keep you afloat if you lose your job. Once you have a pot of money set aside, a well-paid job is less of a priority and you can afford to look for something that offers greater job satisfaction, even if the paycheck is not quite as generous.
When Job Satisfaction Really Counts
The only time when it is worth paying less attention to money and more to job satisfaction is when your health and wellness is at stake. Money can’t help you if your well-paid job is so stressful that it is making you seriously ill. After all, it is better to be poor and broke than rich and miserable, so bear this in mind when you go job hunting.