Would You Stay In a Job You Hate If It Paid a Lot of Money?

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job you hate

My husband recently reminded me that I haven’t worked in that many places. I was employed by my university while in graduate school then I worked for the park service for a year then taught college for two years, and now I’m running Budget Blonde and my freelance writing business. I was never in a job long enough to reap the benefits, climb up the promotional ladder, or even start to hate it.

I often wonder where my life will take me, but I’m pretty sure self-employment suits me. Still, if another job came knocking with a nice salary and benefits, it might be hard to turn it down especially if the schedule was flexible.

There are positives and negatives to working for a company and working for yourself, and we write about them here on Frugal Rules all the time. Here are some reasons I might stay in a job if it paid a nice salary:

1. Student Loans

It’s no secret that my husband is in med school, and now that he’s in his third year, his student loan debt will soon cross over the $300,000 mark. That’s not something I can ignore, even with a physician’s salary. I want that debt gone more than anything so we can enjoy our lives and his hard work without having to send massive chunks of our income to the man. If I had a high paying job, I’d probably stay in it just to help knock out those loans faster, even if I hated going to it.

2. My Kids’ Education

Since I’ve worked in academia, I know that if I want to go back to it, my kids could benefit from reduced tuition, tuition exchanges, and other perks. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, but there are some political aspects of academia that can be hard to navigate. Still, my love of teaching would likely outweigh those, and if I ever started to hate it, I’d probably stick with it for my kids and for the nice, steady income and good schedule.

Ultimately I think there are a lot of people who stay in jobs they hate because they don’t think they have any other options or don’t know of another way out. They think they’ll never find another job or that if they quit and change industries, they’ll be starting from scratch.

I think as long as you have enough motivation, you don’t have to work in a job you hate. There are lots of jobs and lots of careers that pay high salaries, and as long as you are a smart, hardworking person, you can find a way to better your situation.

The whole point of life is to do your best, work hard, and spend as much time as possible doing the things you enjoy. If 40 hours of your week is consumed by a job you absolutely hate, that’s going to affect you and everyone around you. However, I can’t argue with the fact that some people might need to stick with their high salary regardless of whether they love or hate it because they are trying to knock out debt, stay in a certain location, or have security for their families.


What about you? Would you stay in a job you hate if it paid a lot of money? What would be your motivation for staying? What would push you to leave?



Photo courtesy of: Paul Stevenson

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families. Check out her award winning blog,


  • Liz says:

    You know, I can’t say I hate my job, but I would be probably more interested in different types of jobs if I didn’t have our massive student loan debt hanging over our head. For example, I would consider working part time and/or working at a nonprofit if I had the means. Unfortunately we are really focused on that debt so that rather stressful corporate job will have to do for now, as it pays more.

  • Amy says:

    That’s a tough call, and really depends on personal factors. I have a great p/t job now (on a college campus), but I’m off for the summer and the six-week winter break. We’re focused on paying down credit card debt now, and a more steady stream of income would help with that. But I’ve also had jobs that I really disliked, either because of the work itself, my bosses/coworkers, or the organization, and that can really wear one down. If I was the primary earner in our family, I obviously wouldn’t have this flexibility, though.

  • Dave Lalonde says:

    Truthfully, I don’t think I could ever leave my job for another opportunity that I would hate but pays well. I have a responsibility for my current job and that’s to ensure the development and growth of the company. My heart is poured to this company. I’m very thankful to say that I love my job right now and I am 1) Content financially 2) Have security for my family and 3) I’m in the area I want to be. One thing I do notice however is that some people stay at their current job for experience purposes. This is just an example, but for people who study Social Work, you would need experience and a lot of hands on opportunities. Of course, social work will not always be pretty, but people do it for their future or to put it on their resume, if you will. Now, do you think you would ever stick around at a job just for that reason?

  • I think that depending on the circumstances I would probably do it for a while. I don’t think I could work a job I hated forever, but for a short period of time I could do it maybe for the purpose of paying off student loans or something.

  • I don’t have student loans but I have a significant amount of debt. We started out with almost 4x 6 figures. Now we are less than 2.5x 6 figures. That keeps me in my job. It’s a good thing I don’t hate it, but I could do with less stress.

  • Interesting question, Cat! Like Dee, I would probably do it short-term (a year or less) but never long-term. Life is too important!

  • I know a lot of people who stay in jobs they hate. I would probably do the same depending on my situation. If I was the main earner and had to support the kids, there is no doubt I would continue working in a job I didn’t like.

  • I’m lucky that I do enjoy my job most of the time but if I needed the money then I would definitely stay in a job that I hated especially if it was well paid. It would be a lot easier to drag yourself there 5 days a week knowing that there was a big fay pay check waiting for you every month. To keep me sane, I would just try and be pro-active and find a better job.

  • Will @ FQF says:

    I would never stay in a job for the money alone. Life’s way too short for that nonsense.

    I won’t put myself in a position where I have to stay at any job. I don’t have kids, debt, spendy habits, so I have put myself in a position where I could quit and not worry.

  • We’re in the “pay off debts” mode right now, so as long as I could leave my work behind at night when I went home, I would absolutely stick it out! It would be completely worth it to get debt paid off sooner. But, if it required me to take work home at night, there’s no way. Even though I love my current job, I will NOT take work home with me at night. I just need a break when I’m home 🙂

  • I actually worked in a job that I hated for probably longer than I should, but it was definitely to pay the family’s bills. It was one of my catalysts for getting financially fit. I was so miserable in the job and working for the people that I did, that it literally felt like I was killing my spirit everyday I went into the office. It is an awful state of existence.

  • LOL I answered that question in the title! I do that now, unfortunately, but that’s not to say I’m not trying to change my situation. It’s not my job so much as it is my career. I don’t like video editing anymore, but it does pay well when I do have work. Problem is I really have no clue what else to do, but I won’t give up until I find something better.

  • I think we see more and more people stay in jobs they don’t like because of student loans. It really hinders your ability to choose where you want to work. I don’t love my job, but can’t say I hate it that much. I feel comfortable and the benefits are great…sometimes I want more though…just have to figure out what that is.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    This is a popular question. If I made a lot of money and was able to work toward my financial goals, then I would stay. Yes, you might hate it, but there are other things in life more important than work. Reaching your financial goals can be very pleasing.

  • Cat, I absolutely love this post…not because it’s well-written…all of your posts are, but because I can really relate. I stayed at a job I hated for 3 years before I could branch out and do my own thing…I actually wrote about it here…

    See ya around!

  • For a short period of time I could do it. But I would be planning my exit strategy once my goals had been met.

  • Phroogal Jason says:

    When I left my corporate job I didn’t hate it. I actually enjoyed what I did and the people I worked with but I needed a new challenge that was more personally rewarding not just financial. I do think people believe they can’t make the changes they need to make. One doesn’t need to quit blindly but can actually plan the move from their hated jobs. I don’t think it benefits you or the employer when you’re at that hate point. No money is worth the stress you feel but having no money can create a different level of stress. My advice? Create a gameplan.

  • E.M. says:

    I worked in a job I didn’t like for about a year. It didn’t pay amazingly well, but it was the most I had ever made before. I decided to leave because it wasn’t worth the stress. I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to work a job I hate because of the paycheck. Like others, I might be able to do it for a year or so, but I’d have to keep the end goal (being debt free) in mind everyday!

  • I think this is kind of hard to apply to my life right now, since I’m applying for jobs. I guess I could end up hating the job I get, but I think the chances are low. Because I’m qualified for a lot of finance and accounting jobs, I’d find it hard to imagine staying in a job I hate. I would just apply to jobs within my company or at external companies in finance roles. I’d plan on making more at the next job, too.

  • I feel very blessed in the fact that I have never really been in a job that I hated. Have I loved what I do every second of the day, of course not. But overall I love what I do. There are lots of people who do feel stuck in a job they hate because of the pay and that’s always a tough situation, especially when you have a family and need to think of their needs. It honestly would depend on why I hate my job. Some things are more easily changed than others and some things are far less forgivable.

  • Great post! If I had to support others or was up to my eyeballs in debt, I would likely stay in a well-paying job I hated. Otherwise, I think it’s really important to like your job. You’re there for the majority of your week (and life), and hating it will only make you unhappy, demotivated and even depressed. No good!

  • I stayed in a job I hated for many years because of our debt situation. However, I’m actually paying off more debt now with my hubby and I earning less than half of our previous salaries! On this basis, I can’t justify being in a job I hate ever again!

  • Kim says:

    I would stay, but with an end game in mind. I’d make it my purpose to use the salary to pay off all debt and save up as much as I could. I think I could do a few years of a high paying job I hated unless it involved serious physical labor that broke me down and would hurt me down the road.

  • Right now I’m actually working in a job I hate – purely for the money. It’s terrible.

    However it’s not my long term plan. Instead I’m just here for a limited period of time to save up some money before trying to launch my own business – something I’ve dreamed about for many years.

    With a “normal” job I simply wouldn’t be able to put enough money away to turn my dream into a reality so right now I’m just buckling down and trying to stay focused – as well as keeping my budget in check so all that extra cash goes into my savings rather than on “treating myself” 🙂

  • I think that it all depends on what your pressing financial obligations are. If someone is a parent, or has debt, then you have to bring in the money. Especially the former, which means people are counting on you.

    However, without kids, or simply if a person has a massive amount of savings and has done quite well in that regard, then it becomes a different situation. In that case, it would seem to be a bad idea to stick with a job that’s hated. After al, a person’s most productive hours of the day are spent at a job, so why waste life on something that you don’t enjoy? Unless, of course, you truly need the cash flow.

    This is why saving as much as possible early in life, and investing wisely, is so important. If gives people a little bit more freedom to truly choose being happy over dealing with a lot of nonsense just for a certain level of income.

  • Derek at MoneyAhoy says:

    I probably would for the short term, but long term I would be looking for something else. I would rather adjust my expenses down to have a more fulfilling job that to ratchet expenses up and be stuck in something that I hate…

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