‘I Took a Pay Cut for a Better Job. Was That a Mistake?’

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After three years of managing a toxic work environment, I finally found a new job. My new business seems like a great place, and the people there seem to be a lot happier than my old colleagues. I also love my new boss. The only downside is that I had to take a pay cut of around $ 10,000 (I now earn around $ 55,000 which doesn’t go very far when you have student loans and rent in a big city) . I was so miserable in my old business that it didn’t seem like a big deal, but now I’m afraid I got caught in the back. I also don’t know how to adapt my lifestyle to my new salary. I know it sounds silly, but when you’re used to spending money a certain way it’s hard to go back. I’m not saving that much, and the other day I realized I would barely earn rent this month. How to do it exactly? Sometimes I fear I made a mistake and had to resist for a new, better paying job. All tips are welcome.

Congratulations on your new job. I agree that you shouldn’t have to endure a miserable job just to pay the bills no matter what your random uncle / grandma / friend says about sucking it up. Slightly lower pay is a valid compromise for a company culture that supports you instead of making you cry in the shower every night (not that I project my own personal experiences or anything).

However, these situations are not binary, and making less money can cause stress of its own. And $ 10,000 isn’t just a few dollars. You’ll have to adjust your spending to bring it in line with your new income – which isn’t a bad thing, but it will require some practical changes. More on this topic in a minute.

But first, you can stop doubting your decision to change jobs. As you probably know, you are in great company, and there is a reason for that. “The pandemic has made us slow down and think about what works and what doesn’t and how that aligns with what we ultimately want for ourselves,” says coach Dr. Shonna Waters. in Certified Leadership and Vice President of the Career Coaching Firm. BetterUp. “This has resulted in a record number of people changing jobs, especially for a better lifestyle. “

Not only are people taking pay cuts for their mental health and quality of life – which in themselves are great causes – but they’re also thinking about what’s best for their long-term careers. “The people I trained have had big pay cuts to change professions,” says Waters. The same goes for people who change industries or who simply go down a different path. “Sometimes you have to take a new job at a lower level, but you progress quickly and end up exceeding what you would have been if you had stayed on your previous path for the same amount of time,” she says.

Of course, that might not be the case for you, and it’s still good. The point is, salary is only part of what a job can do for you. Either way, you will need to reduce your expenses. It won’t be easy, but it doesn’t have to be terrible either.

I don’t recommend the approach of just trying to spend less across the board – it will lead to a lot more stress and sharp turns like the one you find yourself in right now. Instead, start with a comprehensive inventory of your cash flow. Personally, I would do this by taking a thorough look at what I’m already spending – say, reviewing everything I’ve spent over the past month – and finding out what I can change. (It’s a good thing to do at least once a year anyway if you don’t already. I’m late for that myself.)

Obviously, the easiest way to get your new paycheck going further is to cut down on a big fixed expense like rent. However, moving is also expensive and may not be an option. If none of your most important articles can move, take a look at the categories that offer leeway. Does your new job give you more time in the evening to cook cheaper meals? Can You Lower Your Student Loan Monthly Payments? Are there any memberships or subscriptions that you can opt out of?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that saving thousands of dollars a year is just about canceling Netflix and avoiding Starbucks. You’ll need to be disciplined, intentional, and creative to set a new budget for yourself that doesn’t sacrifice important priorities like saving for retirement. But for what it’s worth, being happy at work can make it a lot easier to spend less on “fun” things in general. “When I got a job that I really loved I stopped spending so much money on take out and alcoholic drinks and all the other things I needed to distract myself from how much my day was. zero, “a friend of mine told me. “My old job paid me a lot more, but it made me so miserable that I was spending a lot just to cheer myself up.”

As I zoom out, I understand your concerns about “stepping back” in terms of salary. But be aware that it may not affect you as much as you fear. “In the old days, all salary negotiations started with your current salary. But that landscape has changed, ”says Waters. “Now in some states it’s not even legal for a potential employer to ask you what you are currently earning. So you don’t have to worry about this being the starting point for your future paychecks.

Instead, focus on the roles this job prepares you for, the skills it will provide you with, and most importantly, what you actually value about it. “Remember, we work best when we do something that we are passionate about and that we are passionate about,” says Waters. “So in the long run, you’re much more likely to be the top performer at something you’re passionate about than something you do just for a salary, even though that salary is higher right now.”

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