How Much Should Money Matter When Choosing a Job?

03 Jun 2016 by

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Clearly, you need to make enough money to cover your mortgage, utilities, transportation, some food, and some toothpaste. But once you’re past the point of worrying about basic expenses, how much should money be a factor when choosing which job to take? What will be most important to you when you’re spending 40+ hours a week at your job? What will make you prefer one job over another in the long run?

First, let’s talk about money.

Does money really make you happy?

It’s true that money can’t buy you happiness, but it’s also true that it’s hard to be happy without “enough” money. The much referred to study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School showed that the lower a person’s annual income falls below $75,000, the unhappier he or she feels. However, once a person reaches $75,000, an increase in money is no longer correlated with an increase in happiness in the day-to-day.

The study also showed that low incomes do not cause sadness per say, but rather they make people more down about the problems they already have. However, this effect disappears at $75,000. While the study doesn’t declare an exact reason why the benchmark is $75,000, Angus Deaton (the economist that did this study) said, it does seem to me a plausible number at which people would think money is not an issue.”

Money matters. However. if you’re not worrying about paying the bills anymore and more money isn’t going to make you happier, maybe salary shouldn’t be the primary determining factor when deciding which is the best job for you. What would better predict your job satisfaction?

What really makes a person like his job?

There are multiple factors to take into consideration when picking a place to work beyond just salary that will make a huge difference in your job satisfaction. Make sure you know these ins and outs of each position before making a decision so you don’t have regrets after committing.

  • Career advancement opportunities: A big part of job satisfaction is feeling like you are progressing by being in this position. In other words, consider what continuing education opportunities are offered, how much responsibility you will be given, what skills you will learn, how quickly you could advance, and what direction each position will take you in. Not only do opportunities like these make your job more interesting in the moment, but they make you more valuable to companies in the future.
  • Manager and coworker relationships: Considering how much time you’ll be spending with your coworkers and manager, it would be wise to pick a job where you think you connect with the people. It can be challenging to decipher who you would get along with during an interview, but observe as much as possible and follow your gut. The people you work with can make all the difference when it comes to loving or hating your job.
  • Feeling that you’re doing something important: Spending 8+ hours every day doing something you don’t value, appreciate, or think highly of will wear on you. Pick a company with a product or service that you admire, support, believe in, and think of as important. Having pride in your work will make you a happier employee.
  • Job responsibilities: Find out as much as you can about what the jobs you’re considering would be like in the day to day. Do the responsibilities sound interesting, inspiring, and exciting to you, or do you see yourself getting bored and constantly checking the clock? Would you be challenged in these positions or are the job duties below your level of capability? Do you think you would enjoy doing these things all day every day?
  • Schedule/Work-life balance: Find out what what your typical schedule will look like in the jobs at hand. Consider flexibility, commute time, expected overtime, and travel. Look into the maternity leave policy if you’re thinking about getting pregnant in the next few years.
  • Culture: Do all you can to understand companies’ cultures before accepting a job offer. Why? Because if you’re not compatible with the culture at the company you work for, you won’t be happy there and it will be harder to be successful in that position. Look into the dress code, company values, autonomy and flexibility given to employees, what the leadership is like, what perks are offered, what the physical environment is like, etc. Read more about uncovering a company’s culture here.


Get a well-rounded picture of each job you are considering and determine where would be the best fit for you. Remember—money is important, but it alone won’t make you happy.

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