When we think about work, most of us hope to be doing something fulfilling. A job that gives us purpose and makes us want to get up every day. But the reality is sometimes doing a job we love has to take a backseat to doing a job we need.
Maybe the job you want doesn’t pay enough to keep up with your bills and meet your minimum debt obligations? Maybe the job you love is in a different city and it’s unreasonable to move your family? Or maybe the job you love is available, but you have to wait for an opening?
Whatever the reasons, working just for the money is okay.
“I’m surprised how many people are financially struggling and have to focus on the money part of their work. Some can’t afford to go for dental care or to borrow money to buy groceries,” says Mark Franklin, president of CareerCycles, a Toronto-based career management firm. He says salary is one of the major considerations for job seekers. Even a job paying only a few dollars more an hour can make a big difference in quality of life.
By earning a bit extra someone the person may be able to afford to move from a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom or afford extracurricular activities for their kids, or a family vacation. That makes the experience of working just for the money more palatable.
Franklin doesn’t think that taking a job just for the money is beneficial for long-term career growth, but sometimes it is necessary to do so. His advice is to take the available job but plan to move into a job that will give you more career satisfaction when circumstances allow.
There are many scenarios where taking a job just for the money is the prudent strategy. According to Suzy Welch, co-author, along with her late husband Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, of “The Real Life MBA”, says there is nothing wrong with taking a job just for the money— as long as you realize why you’re doing it.
You may have just lost your job and you must do any kind of work just for the money because financial responsibilities can’t wait.
“When you really are in a financial crisis, when you need to have money, and you need to have it right away,” she says. Waiting for the perfect job to come along may mean months of bills and expenses that could put you in financial hardship
Maybe the job you’re doing is enough to meet your basic needs, but it’s not enough to buy that special thing such as a luxury vacation, new car or home renovation—or maybe it’s to fund further training to help you switch careers or to advance in your current one?
“It’s okay to work for money when it’s part of a larger career strategy, for example if you’re saving money to start a business or to go back to school,” says Welch.
If you’re in the privileged position where you have enough to retire and don’t need to work anymore, then working for the money could help fund your charitable and philanthropic activities.
Bottom Line: Most people work for the money and the notion of finding a “dream job”, one that fulfills us on every level, is not terribly realistic. Even when we take a job only for the financial benefits, we are still learning and growing our skills and making connections that could become the stepping stone to the next job or career.