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Do you enjoy your job more if you earn a lot more money?

Everyone always assumes that people who make a lot of money* are stressed. I am not so sure.

By a lot, let’s just say over $100,000 as a salary, but upwards to $500,000 a year.

I was talking to a VP the other day, and he said in response to something: Stressed? I’m not stressed…

I’m pretty sure he makes around $250,000 a year, or at least around that benchmark.

I also see Directors, who are pretty calm, not at all stressed, making about $150,000 a year…

…and it made me wonder:

Do people who make a lot of money, enjoy the job more and therefore are happier?

It is not related to ONLY how much money they make, but to the fact that they worked like crazy to get to that level of experience and salary, and as a result, are more relaxed at the top, at higher salaries because it isn’t related to being in the grind.

By the grind, I mean in lower level jobs, you tend to have to deal with a lot of problems that happen. Issues arise, emergencies happen, people panic, people have to stay late or work on weekends to make numbers crunch and so on.

As a VP or a Director, you don’t really have to do any of that grunt work.

You just give directions and get an update.

You may on occasion have to make a decision, take heat from your boss or shareholders, and hold meetings and so on, but the daily minutiae of stress doesn’t really exist.

You don’t need to grind out 50 spreadsheets to finish the books for the year (everyone I know in the Finance department always complains about month-end and year-end closings because of the STRESS that goes around there)…

All of this musing is coming from thinking about retirement and retiring early.

My partner is really keen on retiring early. Like… seriously unable to consider working past a certain age, and he is doing everything in his power to continue working towards NOT working any more.

He would be more than happy if he could stay at home with Little Bun all day and have me pay for everything.

For me however, I don’t really see myself retiring early.

As I said many times before, I just don’t hate my job. I like what I do, it isn’t stressful (95% of the time anyway), it is interesting, challenging and I do make money.

If I were working in customer service however, I’d definitely be dreaming of NEVER WORKING AGAIN because angry people are not fun people, and the stress of that daily grunt and grind doesn’t sound like something I am interested in.

Of course, the actual salary you make also makes a huge difference, but I will say that all the Directors and VPs get in super early in the morning and leave about 10 – 12 hours later.

I don’t really see that as being interesting either (more hours for more money? sounds like I’m working TWO jobs not one), but they seem to enjoy their jobs so much that they don’t mind getting in early and leaving late.

Or maybe, the real key is just to find passion and be interested in your job.

At the higher levels, I suspect it is far more interesting dealing with high-level problems than it is to have to take another call from an irate customer, or to stare at spreadsheets with little tiny numbers well into the night.

I can’t imagine being yelled at on the phone being an interesting job or doing grunt work being interesting either. Using your brain is very interesting, exciting and challenging, and if you aren’t in that mindset, your job can feel like a ball and chain.

What about you?


  • Jeannie

    I have taken a course on Stress, what really stuck with me was that the professor said higher management actually have less stress than lower/mid level management because they have more control. The more control you have in your job, the less stressful it’ll tend to be.

  • Alexis

    I’ve worked at the top and let’s me just say that if the organization does not have an Hr department, you could spend a lot of time (and stress) dealing with personnel issues. Terrible. Couldn’t pay me enough to do it again!

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I’m weird. I have the high up position and the low end of the big money but the work is a mix – I still field even basic customer service emails as needed and I’m the one who puts out fires but I also have unbelievable flexibility and don’t work 12 hours a day. I have a moderate level of stress, I would guess, but very little is directly related to the work these days.

  • Financial Orchid

    The higher up the more public the downfall. Lack of privacy depending on company eg uber ex ceo. Depending on personal debt leverage ratio may or may not be a financial stress. Definitely better to be the silent investor millionaire next door. So much more freedom. At the end of the day it’s the institutional investors and policy makers who have the final say. Stealth wealth and investor ftw.

  • liteadventurer

    Hell yes I do! I enjoy many parts of my job, but the parts I don’t enjoy are made tolerable knowing that I get compensated well for doing it.

  • raluca

    I believe it’s a combination of things:
    1. You get to define your job. The more upper level you are, the more power you have over what you do in your day to day job. I don’t mean you can slack off, but when I was working as a manager, if I thought that my most important task for the day was X, then X got done. Even if that X was to take a team member out to an extended lunch, because I thought he needed the break. Everything other priority could and was shifted. I wasn’t abusing that power, but I had it and used it to make sure that what I thought was right and correct was done.

    2. Your work is fun: You do not have as many deadlines, or even none at all. Other people are doing the grunt work, you just direct them as you would pawns in a chess game. It’s like playing Civilization but with real people. I don’t mean that in a bad way, either. This is the nature of the job. You have a big picture that nobody else can see and you need to allocate people accordingly. It’s like exactly like a strategy game, so it’s fun.

    3. You get paid a big chunk of money. That makes their lives a lot less complicated outside of work. People who say money doesn’t bring happiness have never been poor. Money gives you the power to construct your life the way you want to. If you really dislike washing dishes, money can make sure you will never have to wash a single dish in your life (i.e. hire a cleaner, eat out, etc.). A single mom without money has a really bad life. A single mom with money has a hard life, that’s true, but at least she can afford a live in nanny, a cook and many other types of help.

    I don’t like the job of manager, but that’s because I find working for so many hours absolutely stupid. And lower level managers do not have the same perks as higher managers. They still have a lot of deadlines and they have little to no power over their workload.
    There are better ways of making money, at least for me. I see no reason of working for 20-25 years to get to upper level management and then starting to enjoy life. I’d rather work 10 years and retire early and then decide what to do with the rest of my life. But if I planned to work until traditional retirement age or even for 30 years, then I would have kept my job as a manager, no question. The job is a lot more fun than just grunt work.

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