Warren Buffett Says You Should Love Your Job. But What if That Means Taking a Pay Cut?

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Sometimes, you have to sacrifice higher pay for personal satisfaction.

Key points

  • Warren Buffett says personal fulfillment at work is important.
  • In some cases, though, that could mean having to make big financial sacrifices.
  • It’s a big decision to make, but ultimately you deserve to be happy.

Billionaire Warren Buffett is known for his investing prowess. But he’s also loaded with life lessons he’s happy to share with the public. And recently, he issued a key piece of advice for recent college graduates — love what you do.

Ideally, Buffett says, workers should pursue the sort of job they’d want to do even if they didn’t have a need for money. That way, it may not even feel like work.

Of course, that’s good advice in theory. But in practice, it’s not always so easy to pull off.

Most of us don’t have anywhere close to Buffett’s estimated $126.3 billion net worth. And with cash reserves like that, Buffett can afford to do whatever sort of job he wants, or not work at all.

The rest of us, however, have bills to cover, like our mortgage payments and grocery tabs. And so there comes a point where money has to play into our job-related decisions.

If you’re unhappy with the work you’re doing, you may be thinking of making a career change. But what if that requires taking a pay cut? Should you go that route in pursuit of more meaningful work — or stay where you are for the higher pay?

A really tough choice

Enjoying what you do on the job could truly enhance your quality of life. But so could having enough money to pay your bills and enjoy some leisure spending on the side.

That’s why leaving a job you don’t enjoy for one offering more enjoyment (but with lower pay) is truly a difficult call. What you gain in one regard, you give up in another.

Still, it may be possible to get the best of both worlds, so you’ll need to consider your financial circumstances. Maybe switching careers will mean taking a pay cut for only a few years. If you have a decent chunk of money in your savings account, and you’re able to cut back on some of your expenses, you might manage to absorb that pay cut without harming your finances or subjecting yourself to a cash-strapped existence.

Similarly, you might have to take a pay cut at a new job, but if you’re not particularly attached to your neighborhood and there’s a less expensive one you can relocate to, you may find that you’re able to make ends meet at a lower rate of pay. (This sort of thing is easier to pull off as a renter than a homeowner, but it’s possible even in the latter situation.)

You deserve happiness

Being stuck at a job you can’t stand — or one you find boring or meaningless — can really mess with your outlook. And you deserve better.

Now the reality is that if you don’t have much in savings and you’re used to living on $75,000 a year, you can’t just up and swap that income for a $30,000 salary and think things will magically work out financially. But what you can do in that scenario is save, save, and save some more so you’re able to eventually switch fields and move over to a job you love.

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