Does Income Really Matter?
As children, we dream of a myriad of careers. We leap from astronaut to actress on a whim and go with whatever makes us happiest. As adults, careers are traversed with greater trepidation. We must consider our finances, various responsibilities, and where we are headed. The income attached to a job, which never came to mind as a child, now often stands at the forefront. We turn away from otherwise enjoyable work due to the low pay, and accept ones that are far from satisfying because of the ideal income. Does it really matter how much you make? This question requires honest contemplation and introspection.
A Wells Fargo study looked at millennials, those aged 20 to 36, and what exactly makes them happy. The results showed that 46% dealt with significant debt, and health care expenses were a worry for 43% of respondents. Yet money is far from the definitive factor for their happiness. A staggering 88% answered that love and family are more important than making money. Yet that does not overcome the need to reduce debt and stay healthy. Nevertheless, the majority felt happier and more secure by being pro-active and hands-on when it came to their financial well-being. Saving for retirement, seeking out investments, and budgeting brings about greater confidence and comfort, and can be done with many different levels of income.
Researchers in Princeton looked at families in the United States, and found that money definitely impacted happiness – but only to a certain extent. Households showed greater moods as income increased. Yet after $75,000, more money did not equate to more joy. Making money is important, and it is delusional to think that love and family alone are all you need. However, it may not take as much money as you think to cover necessities. Once you are able to live comfortably, eat well, and have a place to call home, supplemental income is no longer a major factor on your happiness.
The question of how much a job pays is secondary. The critical question is how much you spend. Take the time to prepare a budget on a spreadsheet, and do the necessary research for estimated costs of planned expenses. What do you really need? Are you willing to rent an apartment instead of owning a home? Do you need a car, or can public transit get you where you need to go? Are these sacrifices worth it if they allow you to pursue the career you most desire? These are the questions you need to answer.
So instead of devoting too much energy towards the incomes of potential careers, focus instead on your own budget. Take the time to truly determine how much you need to make and what you are willing to live without. In addition, be willing to take initiative when it comes to your financial situation. Keep an eye on your expenses, thoroughly research investment options, and maintain regular goals.
So, does income matter when it comes to your career path? This is a very personal matter that requires an honest look at what you want and how you plan to live. Do not let the fear of judgement from others sway you either way. We no longer have the wild dreams and easy happiness of childhood. Yet through hard work and living a life true to yourself, you can build a happy reality.
Glatter, Robert. “How Much Money Do You Really Need To Be Happy?” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2012/07/27/how-much-money-do-you-need-to-be-happy-2/#ed510bf2043f
Landrum, Sarah. “Millennials Link Money With Happiness, But Now How You Expect.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahlandrum/2017/10/06/millennials-link-money-with-happiness-but-not-how-you-expect/#32563823dd62
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