Should I Work for More Money and Added Stress?

Exhausted young man with laptop in office
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It can be difficult to choose the type of work that you do, and it can be difficult to balance the stress you feel at work with a healthy personal life. In fact, according to a LinkedIn survey, higher earners do experience higher job-related stress. You may be so focused on earning enough money that you may not be enjoying the other parts of your life.

But less stressful careers often mean lower pay. How to decide?

Key Takeaways

  • The decision to pursue a job with more stress and higher income is not an easy one.
  • Consider how the the position will affect future career goals, how your lifestyle may be affected if you forgo the income, and if you have alternatives.
  • If you're married or have a family, they should be involved in your deliberations.

If you are offered a new position with more responsibilities at your job, or if you are seeking one elsewhere, you will need to weigh whether the stress and additional responsibilities make taking the position worth it. While it is always nice to make more money, you may find that you are willing to work at a job with less stress so that you can enjoy your life more.

As you consider changing your current career you should ask yourself some basic questions.

Is This a Position I Want?

It is important to consider whether or not you will enjoy the work that you will be doing in the new position. Often a promotion means you will be doing a different type of work. You may be moving into management, which means that you will not be "getting your hands dirty" with the day-to-day work of the firm.

  • If this position will move you toward your long-term career goals, then taking the new position makes sense.
  • If you love what you do, and you do not want to move into management, it may make more sense to stay where you are.

As you look for new positions, you should learn as much as you can before you apply. It is okay to interview for a position and turn it down if it does not feel like a good fit for your goals or personality.


If you are married, you should discuss the opportunity with your spouse. Whether you take the position or not, either course will affect your family and your marriage.

Do I Need the Extra Money?

Before you take a new, more stressful job, evaluate how the extra money will affect your current lifestyle. If you have a family, you really may need to make more money to cover your basic expenses.

A simple household budget should give you an idea of the minimum amount you need to earn to maintain the lifestyle that your family is comfortable with.


If you consider the hourly cost of some of your wants and needs, you may be able to cut back on your spending to go with a less stressful job. For example, if you take home $25 per hour, and your car payment is $400 per month, you'll need 16 hours of labor to meet that payment. But if a monthly bus pass is just $100 per month, you'll need just four hours of labor to meet that need.

If you are married, you and your spouse need to determine, together, the financial goals for your family and how your career change will impact them. You both may be willing to make sacrifices for your long-term financial goals or to provide a less stressful lifestyle that is more family oriented.

The key is to make the decision while being fully aware of your current financial needs and wants.

What Are My Alternatives?

If you know that the new job will bring additional stress, but you still need the extra money, come up with a list of alternative solutions to the problem.

  • Can you reduce your expenses enough to live comfortably staying in a low-stress job?
  • Can you mitigate the stress of the higher-paying job (in a healthy way)?
  • Can you find a less stressful job in a lower cost of living area?

Moving to a smaller town will provide a different atmosphere. You may sacrifice some of the benefits of a larger city, but you can have additional family time and lower housing costs to compensate.

Another alternative is to change careers. If you are stressed by your job, you may need to find another field that you will enjoy more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What occupation has the highest stress?

According to the job search website CareerCast, the most stressful jobs in 2019 were enlisted military personnel, firefighters, and airline pilots, in that order.

Should I take a pay cut for less stress?

There's no clear-cut answer for this question; only you can decide if your income is worth the stress that comes with your current position. One thing you can do to help decide is to look carefully at your budget and determine if you can maintain the lifestyle you (and your family) desire on the income afforded by the less-stressful job.

Updated by Lars Peterson
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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. LinkedIn Learning. "Stress at Work – See Who’s Feeling it the Most And How To Overcome It."

  2. CareerCast. "Most Stressful Jobs."

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