Would You Turn Down More Money For Happiness?

1185031_10100224600880779_692606125_nLast week I was quasi offered a job I had to turn down. The job was at my dream location, more money, great staff and highly recommended by a classmate of mine.

But I still turned it down.

If you’re not familiar I’m a dental hygienist and would love to work at this particular office but not under the proposed conditions. They were looking for someone to work three, twelve-hour shifts, 8am-8pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (actual hours probably 7:45-8:15). If I wasn’t married with a young child I probably wouldn’t think twice but I’m at a point in my life where I have to consider so much more than money and professional satisfaction. Twelve hour shifts means I basically wouldn’t see my daughter three days a week. It also means my husband is solo after work dealing with a busy two-year-old to play, cook dinner, bathe and bed. Impossible? No. Seriously inconvenient? Yes. It’s much easier to have two people than one. These hours would also mean little to no time for me to get stuff done those days and more stress the days leading up to them knowing they’re approaching.

I can already predict the added stress it would put on the relationship with my husband (both as my husband and expectations as a father). Long story short, it’s not conducive for my life.

I potentially walked away from an additional (net increase) of about $650 more per month, working one less day per week than I currently am with two ”open” days to fill-in, potentially increasing my income even further (if I wasn’t already dead tired). Am I nuts?

I know myself enough to know I would resent the job and wouldn’t last a long time. Physically, a twelve-hour shift in dentistry is very difficult, combined with lingering postnatal carpal tunnel pain, I’d be a miserable, sore, cranky mess by Wednesday night. Not the mom or wife my child or husband needs.

I make it seem like an easy decision on ‘paper’ but it wasn’t. I was incredible tempted to suck it up and deal with the difficulties if it meant I would be able to put more money towards our debt. This was a moment I had to realize losing myself in a job just to pay debt off faster wasn’t going to do favors for anyone. I’m bummed  I won’t be working at this particular office but so glad I have a job I love that I can wait on until the perfect opportunity presents itself or it may have caused me to make an irrational decision.

Have you ever turned down more money for your overall happiness?


  1. Sounds like you made the best decision for you and your family. It was probably hard to walk away from that extra money, but in your shoes I think I would’ve done the same thing.
    Shoeaholicnomore recently posted..Thing Thursday 4/24/2014My Profile

  2. I think it’s great that you knew yourself well enough to walk away from the offer. I admit that would have been really tempting for me, too, but it sounds like family is too much of a priority for you to miss out on three days with your daughter. I don’t blame you!
    E.M. recently posted..I Joined the Yakezie Challenge!My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      Honestly even two years ago I would have jumped with both feet in, I’ve really only ”discovered myself/priorities” since having her.

  3. I would have made the same decision. Not exactly the same situation, but I probably could have continued working my day job while pursuing self-employment for a little bit longer. It would have meant much more money, but it just wasn’t worth it to me.
    Michelle recently posted..Should You Spend All Your Money When You’re Young?My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      I totally agree, and in your case with the money you’re making via self employment, really not worth it 😉

  4. Good thing you followed your instincts…they always know best! Time is as valuable as money in many circumstances, especially when kids are involved. I can totally see where you’re coming from.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..How To Tame Your Spending DragonMy Profile

  5. Good for you, Catherine! It’s definitely not easy giving up money, but the schedule sounds terrible and quality of life HAS to be a factor when making decisions like these. If someone offered me a high-paying job that required me to sacrifice time with my husband, family and friends, I wouldn’t take it. Money isn’t everything. Kudos!
    Kendal @HassleFreeSaver recently posted..Save Green by Going GreenMy Profile

  6. Yes, I quit my career altogether in order to be a stay at home mom. We took a huge hit financially as a result, but I knew that I would be happier being able to focus on home rather than trying to balance motherhood, career and homemaking (some people can do that well, I can’t). It was very difficult, even though I made the choice myself. Since then I’ve turned down smaller jobs, like a position as a professor (I did it for a year, but couldn’t continue when I wanted to have another baby), an opportunity to be a nanny, and some others. It is never easy, because there are lots of ways we could use the extra money, but health and happiness is priceless.
    Jen @ Jen Spends recently posted..Boston Market Opens First Food Court Location in SyracuseMy Profile

    • Catherine says:

      Good for you Jenn! I admire stay-at-home moms more than anything in the world. I took a one year mat leave and while it was necessary (with me bfing especially) I discovered how much I love my job too. While I cut back, I have no desire to stay home full-time. I’m the first to admit that being a SAH mom is much more difficult than what I do everyday. My Job is an escape of sorts from motherhood for me.

  7. I probably would have taken the switch ( right now I’d love 4-10s instead of 5-8s). But I definitely see where you’re coming from and I did leave a higher paying job that required too many hours for a lower paying one that actually have me a higher hourly wage.
    Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Trip To Australia: The Money StuffMy Profile

  8. A person I used to know made that same decision… while many years later it apparently didn’t work out well for the marriage (they are no longer together) but both the children seemed to work out fine but there may have been other things involved 🙁

  9. I think you’ve made the right decision. Especially if you can foresee what the job will do to you physically and emotionally. Only you know what you and your family need. Sometimes more money isn’t worth the extra hassle and stress that it comes with.
    Debt Busting Chick recently posted..My Frugal Hair DoMy Profile

  10. I think you definitely made the right decision. It’s interesting how 3 days a week of work with 12 hour shifts sounds very appealing when you are single, but when you have additional considerations it simply doesn’t make sense. I used to like working late nights at my part-time job during college in the library, but now being married (even without a young child) it wouldn’t be attractive at all.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Which Student Loan Repayment Plan Is Right For You?My Profile

  11. Well, considering I work 5 days a week, I would probably have taken it. Yes, it would have been difficult, but I probably would have done it. That being said, I do think you made the right decision for you. You know that you wouldn’t like the job very long and that is important.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..5 Tips for Renting with PetsMy Profile

    • Catherine says:

      I’d rather work 9-5 five days a week than 8-8 three days a week I think. I think it also depends, if it was reversed with my husband and I, I can see him being able to take it at lot easier than me.

  12. Hi Catherine

    A few years ago my wife and I decided to leave a place where we were earning very decent money. We saved so much money, we had free accommodation and various other benefits. We could buy things that previously we only dreamed of buying and went on very nice holidays around Europe.

    The big drawback was that we worked 60 hours weeks and was really exhausting work. We saw how it affected our relationship later on. We made the choice to move on from there and immediately it felt as if we became alive again. We spent so much more time together and have since had a love little girl.

    Since the birth of my daughter spending family time has become very important. I am convinced that when you are older you are not going to sit and wish you took that job for the whatever reason. You will most probably be happy that you spent as much time with your family as you could.

    In the end all we have are our memories. Will you rather have quality memories of spending time with your child and enjoying her, or memories of being tired, stressed and doing something you do not really enjoy?
    Bobby recently posted..The Perils and Pitfalls of Buying from China:How a Noob Made Money Importing Part 2My Profile

  13. My aunt in Australia offered me a job there with good salary. But I can’t afford to work in there and leave my only daughter, so I didn’t accept her offer even though it would bring me a good money.
    Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way recently posted..When does Buy and Hold not WorkMy Profile

  14. I can understand what you mean. I used to work at a large accounting firm. Had I stayed a few more years, I would have accelerated my career and pay. Instead I chose to quit that job and move into a much less demaning job. My previous job was extremely high pressure and long, long hours. It made me miserable.
    Liz recently posted..Office Politics: Sexism or Coincidence?My Profile

  15. To be honest, I think I’d love to work longer but fewer days. I already work a fairly long day but I don’t get paid for any hours I put in over 7.5. If I could secure a job like the one you’ve described I would be so excited! That being said, I don’t have children yet and I would love to get a few years of really, really hard work in and high earnings before we decide to have them. I would probably be in the same boat as you if we did have kids.
    Daisy @ Add Vodka recently posted..Why I’ve Changed My Mind About Self EmploymentMy Profile

  16. I probably would’ve taken it, but then I’m in a completely different life circumstance than you. If I knew for a fact I’d be unhappier, and it would affect my relationship I’d say no. I’ve turned down work before because of my emotional health and relationship. Congrats on doing what is right for you, even if it’s the harder decision!
    Melanie@Dear Debt recently posted..5 Things That Will Help You Recover From Debt BurnoutMy Profile

  17. I think you made the right decision for yourself after considering the options. Whatever is best for *you* and your family.
    I’m constantly tempted with job offers that would pay a lot more. I work for a start up, and we have lower overall salaries, but the bonuses (when the company does well) make up for it. I could move onto a bigger organization and easily be paid 1.5-2 times what I’m being paid now, but I have enormous flexibility and job satisfaction, and no desire to move to another company.
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..Daughter Person’s Easter MoneyMy Profile

  18. I guess, in a way, we did turn down more money for happiness. We retired at 53 (me) and 55 (hubby). If we’d worked ten more years, yeah, we would have had more money. But we would have lost 10 years of our life to an employer. And we have all the money we need. So getting more would have been nice, but not as nice as those years that belonged to us!

    • Catherine says:

      I think we’ll be like you guys, when we have enough to be comfortable than we’ll retire. We won’t need a super lavish retirement!

  19. You have to trust your instincts. I’m very, very focused on quality of life issues right now. I’ve spent way too much time expending energy on things that I could really care less about. I am now shifting to focusing EXTREMELY on the things that matter to me: my health, relationships (love/family/friends), money and travel. At this point I would turn down more money to have my life set up in the way that I need it to be in order for me to be happy. Good for you for acknowledging what wouldn’t work for you!
    Michelle@ShopMyClosetProject recently posted..The Importance Of Speaking Up For YourselfMy Profile

  20. Yes i did because at that point in my life, more time with family was more important than work. Excellent choice choosing your family over your career/job. Whats the purpose on how to retire a millionaire when you have nobody to share it with. Moderation is always best, dont rush paying off all debt if its going to cost you your happiness and your family’s happiness. Live one day at a time while appreciating everything thats happening in your life.
    Jeff @Project Ikonz recently posted..Ebay side hustle is awesome and crap at the same timeMy Profile

  21. I think you made the perfect choice. Making more money usually leads to spending more money and likely incuring more debt/obligations. Next thing you know you’re backed into a corner where you are working more and not really feeling the benefits.

    Great post and good job!
    Terry recently posted..Six Tips for Making the Most at Your Garage SaleMy Profile


  1. […] money! • The New Rich By Debt Free Martini. Great post about what is considered the new rich. • Would You Turn Down More Money For Happiness? Really great post by Plunged in Debt talking about choosing happiness over a higher paying job. • […]

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