Quality of Life is More Important Than Money

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quality of life can be more important than money
My wife and I recently took a voluntary $20,000 per year reduction in income – after taxes. And, I promise, we’re not crazy. Can Quality of Life Matter THAT Much More Than Money? Before you question why we voluntarily chose to do this, you have to understand the full situation. My wife was in the…

My wife and I recently took a voluntary $20,000 per year reduction in income – after taxes.

And, I promise, we’re not crazy.

Can Quality of Life Matter THAT Much More Than Money?

quality of life can be more important than moneyBefore you question why we voluntarily chose to do this, you have to understand the full situation.

My wife was in the US military and her job required her to work very long hours and irregular schedules. Weekends and holidays did not exist in her line of work. Planning for events, holidays, vacations, and a social life was difficult because her work schedule would usually only be released 4-6 weeks in advance.

Add to that the possibility of deploying for 6 months at a stretch and it quickly became evident that at this stage in our lives, our quality of life was more important to us than earning more money.

I know a lot of people can’t afford to take a $20,000 a year pay cut, and it’s not easy. Fortunately, we started planning for this drop in income well over a year ago and we were prepared for it.

To prepare ourselves for this drastic change in income, my wife and I paid down all of our consumer debt, trimmed unnecessary expenses from our budget, and began living well below our income level. After doing this we added more money to our emergency fund, and began investing a little extra in our retirement accounts while we had the available funds to do so.

My wife recently began her new job, and is very happy with her decision to try something new professionally – and so am I.

Even though my wife and I earn about $20,000 less per year now, we are still financially stable and we now have a better quality of life than when she was earning more money, but working irregular schedules.

I am glad my wife and I have a very open line of communication and planned for this a year ago – when we still had the time to prepare for it.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a chance to prepare for a drastic decrease in income. If you have to deal with a similar situation, I hope your story ends as well as ours did. If you are not able to prepare in advance for a drastic drop in income, I hope you will be able to find a way to handle your new situation. Later this week I will write about how to deal with a sudden and drastic drop in income.

For some people, they have no choice but to work a job that they don’t like and that put a lot of stress on them. Taking that drastic of a pay cut isn’t a feasible option for most people, but it’s important that you focus on your quality of life as much as possible.

If you have a job that’s putting a lot of stress on you and requires that you work terrible hours, it could be putting your physical health at risk. If you continue to have a high level of stress for a long time, it can drastically increase your chances of having a heart attack or being diagnosed with severe health problems, like diabetes. Stress is more than likely going to cause you to put your job before your health and extended working hours tends to lead to poor eating habits.

Not only will you be eating poorly, but if you have a high-stress job, you’ll find that you have a lot less mental energy when you get home or on the weekends. Workers that report high levels of stress tend to burn out more often, which can lead to depression.

I’m not saying that you should quit your high-stress job, but I do think that you should do whatever you can to put your quality of life before your job or money.

Note: This is not intended to say anything bad about the military. My wife and I both served and are proud to have done so. For both of us though, we reached a stage in our lives where we wanted something else.

Related Post: How We Manage Our Money on a Daily Basis



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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. Mrs. Micah says

    I agree with you 100%. You’re both quite brave to do this. I’ve seen a lot of families where the couple barely gets to spend time together because of their salaries. Or people work insane hours and never live.

    Good luck with this move!

  2. David says

    I’m with you on this choice, nice going. Quality of life is way more important than having a few extra bucks to play with!

  3. Ryan says

    Mrs. Micah and David, Thanks for the comments. The higher pay checks were nice, but in the end, our time together was just worth more to us than the extra money. We’ve already been able to spend much more time together and we are having a lot of fun. It really is wonderful. 🙂

  4. kitty says

    Another way to look at it is that taking a job with less hours even if it pays less is going to save money in the long run – on health bills. Working long hours and weekends cannot be good for one’s health. Health bills are expensive.

    I would’ve done the same thing. I stayed with the same company for over 20 years even though at some point around internet bubble I could’ve gotten a better paying job. I choose to stay because other jobs were likely to be less interesting, would’ve required me to commute to NYC, wouldn’t have the same schedule flexibility. Quality of life is more important than money.

  5. Ryan says

    Hello Kitty,

    We actually had free health care through the military but now we have to pay for it! But, I get your point, and ultimately it was all of the factors put together that led us to this decision. We don’t regret it at all.

  6. dimes says

    If my husband worked a regular full-time job, I’d work one too so that we’d have the same income and predictable hours. However, our current situation seems to be working well enough, and he doesn’t have the option of getting out of the military at this point. Congratulations for the wife though.

  7. mapgirl says

    Hi Ryan,

    I just wanted to thank you and your wife for your service. I live in DC and sometimes you see kids who barely shave in uniform. You just want to give them a hug.

    That is awesome that you guys prepared for the income change and that’s allowing your wife the freedom to try something new. I think the main thing about money is that it can offer freedom. It’s nice to have a number as a goal, but really what we’re doing with the money is buying options and freedom for ourselves.

  8. Ryan says

    Hi Mapgirl,

    Thanks. We both enjoyed our time in the service. We both had the opportunity to serve our country, see the world, and somewhere in between, meet each other. 🙂

    I agree with your assessment on money and freedom. This is how we look at it, and we are very happy with the freedom we gave ourselves by planning and being fortunate with our money. 🙂

  9. shadox says

    Money has a diminishing marginal utility. You need a certain amount of it to enjoy your life, and a little more to save so that you can enjoy your life later down the road, but when getting money starts to interfere with you quality of life, that’s when you know it’s time to scale back.

    Good decision.

  10. Sarah says

    Hi Ryan!

    We are kind of in the opposite situation. We recently moved across the country and rented an apartment online without seeing it first. We don’t love it here, but it’s livable for sure. We just found a rental home in an incredible neighborhood that’s to die for. I know it would improve my “quality of life” (we have a toddler, a baby and two dogs so apartment life is very crowded!!) but in order for us to do it, we would have to break our lease which would cost a pretty penny. We’re seeing the inside of the house tomorrow, so I’m hoping that will bring some clarification.

    But I do agree that sometimes you need to give up a little money in order to have a better life!!

    Thanks for the post!

    • Ryan Guina says

      I can easily justify spending money to avoid being miserable (or even constantly less-than-happy) for the better part of a year. I’d say go for it if it doesn’t put you into debt or cause financial hardship!

  11. sako says

    Well, I am far away from you and relatively closer in term of context, we are living in Iraq, I have a good paid job with international company, and based on my qualification here, I assume that similar jobs would not be very difficult for me to find if I loss my current. but the issue is that, we are here in ”Iraq” which is #1 in all negative aspects of life.. now we can pay all what we have an get citizenship of a developed country and start from scratch there, or we can stay here, collect more money, maybe later send our two kids outside when they grow up to study and find some way for them to stay out of the mess here.. backing to your topic, in my situation, I am not sure which one is more important, our money , or quality of life in another country but without money and starting from scratch . (I am now 33 years old).

    • Ryan Guina says

      Sako, without question, safety and quality of life are more important than money. If you feel as though your family is in danger and you would be better off living in another country, then don’t be afraid to make the move. It is difficult to start from scratch. I won’t deny that. But you can replace lost income. You can’t replace a life. If starting over from the beginning with limited means is too difficult right away, then perhaps you can start saving as much money as possible to plan your move. It may also be a good idea to start converting some of your savings to the currency of your planned destination, such as Riyals, Dinars, Pounds, Euros, Dollars, or another currency, depending on where you are planning to move. Also look into visas, immigration requirements, and other aspects of making the move.

      Depending on your profession, that could include professional certifications or qualifications you can transfer with you to help find employment in your new country. Of course, it may also be possible to transfer positions within your current international company to a new location. You can inquire with them to see if it is a possibility, and if they would be willing to sponsor such a move.

      I don’t have much experience with this, so there are likely better forums for finding the information you need to plan your move. But I wish you and your family the best.

  12. John says

    So why didn’t you take a higher paying job to offset your wife’s sacrifice? You can have quality of life and make good income. It isn’t either/or.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi John, I actually did take on a higher paying job about six months after my wife resigned from her job. This article was originally written over 10 years ago, and a lot has happened since then.

      The new job came with a 45% pay raise, which more than covered the $20,000 loss of income when my wife left the military. I also had this website, which was bringing in a very small amount of income at the time. Within about two years of originally publishing this article, my wife and I had our first child, at which point my wife decided to become a stay at home mom. I didn’t change jobs when she resigned from that job. However, my online business (this site and others) was doing much better, so we could more easily afford for her to become a stay at home mom. We were very blessed in that regard.

      About 8 months after my daughter was born, I resigned from my day job to run my online business full time. That was over 9 years ago, and I never looked back.

      Why quite my day job? Quality of life… My daughter had colic, and none of us were getting much sleep. I was having a difficult time managing my day job, business, and parental duties, so after much thought, prayer, and discussion, my wife and I decided that me pursuing an entrepreneurial path was worth it. And things turned out great.

      In fact, you could say that quality of life was the driving factor in all of these decisions. And you are correct, it isn’t an either/or decision.

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