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12 Reasons to Consider a Pay Cut

By , March 30th, 2017 | 19 Comments »

Reasons to Consider a Pay Cut

We are almost hardwired to pursue ever increasing pay levels. Each job should, ideally, give us a salary bump. Yearly evaluations should result in increased wages. In pursuit of ever higher pay, we sometimes miss out on opportunities in life that require us to take a pay cut or to forego money entirely for a time. But to pursue anything other than higher pay goes against what we’ve been taught. But is a pay cut always a bad thing? Not necessarily. Even involuntary pay cuts can turn into blessings.

Reasons to Consider a Pay Cut

Taking a pay cut is never easy but if you have sound reasoning behind it, it could change your life for the better. Now, if you need every cent you currently make the thought of any reduction in pay can bring on panic. But for many of us there is some room to do things that pay less than our current jobs, or to forego a raise if we can get something even more valuable. Here are some reasons to consider a pay cut:

  1. To take a job you love: If you have the chance to do work you love, to work with people you love, or in a place you love but you have to take a pay cut, you have to ask yourself which is more important: Overall happiness or money.
  2. To start your own business: If you want to go out on your own, you’ll probably have to work for less than you’re used to, at least in the beginning. The upside is that you may end up making far more later on and you’ll be doing work that means something to you.
  3. To get better hours: If taking a pay cut means that you can stop working nights, weekends, uncompensated overtime, or holidays, it may be worth it if you value free time and normal hours over money.
  4. To trade pay for more vacation time or other benefits: Sometimes a job offer will come with less pay, but better benefits such as more vacation, better insurance, a good employer 401k match, or stock options. In this case you may find that, although your actual pay has gone down, your overall compensation has increased. If these benefits are worth it to you, the pay cut is a good idea.
  5. To take a sabbatical: You may reach a point where you decide to take the family to live in Europe for six months or to pursue some long held dream. You may not have to quit your job, but you will likely have to agree to greatly reduced pay, or no pay at all. If the reason for the sabbatical is important to you, giving up your pay may be the only way to go.
  6. To move to a lower cost of living area: If you want to move to an area with a lower cost of living, you’ll likely have to take a pay cut. The good news is that you won’t need as much money since your living expenses will be reduced in the new area. This can result in a much bigger savings opportunity over the long term.
  7. To take a “learning job”: If you want to change careers, you’ll probably have to take a pay cut to get your foot in the door with an entry level job. However, you’ll be learning the ropes of your new career so it may result in more opportunities later on.
  8. To get a job in lean times: In tough economic times you may have to take a pay cut just to get a job. When jobs are hard to come by, you may have to take what’s offered no matter the pay. Some pay may be better than none.
  9. To keep a job in lean times: In tough economic times, many employers slash or freeze pay. If your only choice is to quit without another job lined up, you may have to just take the cut until things turn around.
  10. To get a shorter commute: A shorter commute can save you a ton of gas money. If you can get a shorter commute your lower pay may be offset by your gas savings. You’ll also have more free time and maybe be able to sleep a little longer in the morning. That’s worth more than money.
  11. To get a better chance to move up: If your current job doesn’t have many opportunities for advancement, you may have to find another employer. This can result in a pay cut, but if there are more opportunities for advancement you may be better off in the long run.
  12. To save your health (physical or mental): If you hate your job or your boss is a toxic SOB, you may be better off taking a pay cut to go somewhere else. Your mental health is worth more than money. Similarly, if your job isn’t safe or you work around toxic materials, you may be better off leaving to do something else. You can’t replace your physical health.

Not everything has to be about money. Yes, it’s nice to get a raise. Extra money can give you more breathing room or a chance to afford some things you’d like to have. However, there are cases, unique to every individual or family, where a pay reduction may not be the disaster that we’ve been taught it is.

Photo: José Carlos Cortizo Pérez

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  • Cathy says:

    These are great reasons to take a pay cut, however, many lower paying or part time jobs (or the ones that offer greater personal fulfillment) do not offer decent benefits or, at times, any benefits at all. At my age, it is imperative that I maintain a job that comes with health care benefits. My husband is self employed which is another reason to maintain employment where the benefits are good. More than two weeks of vacation is also highly desirable for mental and physical health reasons. This country needs to stop chasing the almighty dollar and adopt some European customs for the sake of the family and our overall health. Thanks for letting me rant!!!

  • Marvin says:

    I agree, Its all about peace of mine. When you think about the cost associated with certain jobs(drycleaning,gas,food,etc) It may be in your best interest to take a lower paying job that’s more convenient to your well being and mental state.

  • Judy says:

    Great post! I agree there are times when staying with or accepting a lower paying job is the best option! I work at a job with average pay for the job I do! My job includes customer service and I could move on to a job with better pay, but for me, helping people, working with people,etc. is more enjoyable, and means more to me, than having the extra money,at a job, i don’t have as much passion for!!

  • Jean says:

    I took a pay cut 3 years ago when I changed jobs. I drive less miles, spend less time on the road, am out of a high stress situation (eye twitch, anyone?), and am in a job that makes me happy. The pay cut wasn’t that great – basically what I was paying in gas for the longer commute – but I’ve told people that I wouldn’t go back to my old job even if they offered me $20K more than I’m making now – the higher stress & lower quality of life just aren’t worth it.

    • beth says:

      yes…I have had the eye twitching during extreme systems conversions that I have handled solely by myself…unbelievable. After the stress was gone it took a week for it to stop, this has happened twice

  • Blue Sky says:

    Sounds like a lot of grasping for excuses here…

  • miclason says:

    I used to work for a project that had only 18 more months to go. I started looking for a new job and was even willing to take a pay cut. Luckily for me, I found a new job within the same organization, it’s a “permanent” job and since it’s the same level, I didn’t have to take the paycut. (I put permanent between quotation marks because there’s no such thing as a permanent position)

  • Gail says:

    >>Sounds like a lot of grasping for excuses here…<<

    Hardly! I took a large pay cut when I became disabled. It certainly wasn't planned, but after 9 years of being home and doing what I can when I can, my blood pressure is down, I feel greater self satisfaction and every time I get up in the morning and see a blizzard blowing that I DON'T have to drive through, I start saying my Thank you prayer. Even if I got completely well and could work a 60 hour week, I would never go back to the rat race. I have learned enough on line that I know with time and energy I could make a full time living using the internet.

  • Steve says:

    At my job, I’m being “encouraged” to take a new position that will result in my salary being cut in half. Sure, it cuts my commute by sixty miles and eliminates tolls, but making half as much? My wife is disabled, and being closer to home would be great, but being thrust into poverty is another issue. I can’t afford to make the change. Even if I’m closer to home, save in gas and tolls. As for peace of mind, I’d be more stressed out making half as much. A thirty-eight thousand dollar pay cut???? Is peace of mind and a shorter commute worth it? My wife gets less than eight hundred a month for disability. My guess, suck it up and deal with the stress and bs at work.

  • Rhonda says:

    Employers are eating away at our quality of life and family values. No longer are we compensated for the sacrifices we make which include working late hours, missing school/sport events with our children, working holidays and weekend. There used to be a time we were “comp’d” for our services. Working late or giving up weekends and holidays was compensated by comp time or some other incentive. Where is the motivation now?

    I never thought I would say this, but I would gladly give up a high salary for a pay cut in exchange for lower gas costs and less commute time (working closer to home) – which could ultimately translate to a better quality of life with my family. We only life once and these years are meant to be spent enjoying life (not working so much we cannot even enjoy it.) The very fibers that hold together our family values are fraying.. is it worth it.

  • Melissa says:

    I am having to wrestle with this dilemma myself. I work at a hospital as a staff nurse, days and evenings, weekends, holidays, and it is very stressful but pays well. I’ve been offered a very different opportunity: to be a public health nurse working with a population set that I love. The problem is that I’d have to take a $12,000 pay cut. But I’d only have to work weekends about 4x a year and only a few holidays when my rotation comes around. This could be the weekday 9-5 job I’ve been dreaming about. The problem is I am also trying to start a marriage and family right now. Is it fair of me to take the pay cut when I know the extra money would help us?

    • Jeffrey says:

      I think that you need to sit down and talk to your future husband about it. Money is not everything and if you are starting life together, you will want to spend time together. I think by talking it through together, you can come up with a plan that makes sense for the both of you.

    • Mary says:

      Fair is a four letter word and is loaded…don’t know if you’ve made a decision yet but if you feel you’d be happier as a public health nurse, you are probably right. I work in a leadership position at a hospital (am also a nurse) but the stress is still everpresent. You can always return to hospital nursing if the PHN role doesn’t pan out but it gets harder to take that cut the longer you’ve been working, etc., etc. Good luck.

      • Gina says:

        I have the same problem… I am a floor nurse being offered a Infection control nurse position. As a floor nurse I can make more money working long hours,some holidays and some weekends, but I have a lot of flexibility with scheduling, 3, 12 hour shifts versus 5, 8 hours shifts M-F. Floor nursing has more stress and for me is a 45 minute commute. Have not been able to decide but whatever makes more sense for you. Easier said then done right? LOL 🙂

    • Lee says:

      2/3 I know it’s probably too late for a reply to matter, but take the cut. Life is here and now. AND you’re talking about marriage… wow.. that’s all about quality of sharing moments…
      Take the cut..or hope u did. You will manage or can learn to manage a 12k cut (which might not be 12k if you meant gross).
      LIVE LIFE….do it…

  • vikram says:

    I am taking a salary cut for an immigration related reason. The process is such that I will get my Green Card earlier ( at least an year earlier) if I move to my previous job where the salary is 15% less. I am moving from a big corporate to a smaller firm. Overall its for a better peace of mind for me and my family as with Green Card my wife can start her career now.

    I am undergoing the anxiety now but only time will tell if it was the wise choice.

  • beth says:

    This is exactly what I am looking at – currently. I never really liked the place I am working at and have been here for 10 years – due to a continuance of a retirement program. It made sense to stay and I had made my place here and it was tolerable and sometimes pretty darn easy and I make a lot of money – BUT the problem is they do not understand what I do or how much I do because as they say “everything is running fine” yes it is because I take care of everything and like the proverbial science fiction story where there is s substantial disconnect between the machines and how to fix them and the people who use them and say everything is fine…AND they care NOT how these machines run fine – but only that they do – herein lies the problem. Recently I was laid into by management for something that was not my fault – I defended myself but they are scared and want to take it out on someone and so they focus their behavior on me. This has led me to re-evaluate why I would stay. Ironically the SAME DAY this happened a colleague at another agency that I see about once a month in passing, emailed me a job description and said that I was the first person they thought of – at first I believed someone put them up to this…but after discussion I could tell this was not the case at all and the job merely opened on the same day my bad experiences with this company happened! OMG – can you believe the dumb luck of this? This position has never been open before because the benefits are so good that nobody leaves – BUT I will have to take a big pay cut and step down BUT I get to specialize instead of being a jack of all trades and can get rid of the burden of doing 3 positions at my current job. The benefits I believe severely outweigh my unhappiness and because my husband and I are older the extremely good medical/dental plans (everything completely paid for both myself and spouse plus a giant 401k matching of $550 dollars extra per month, plus an additional $500 extra per month for any out of pocket medical expenses for my spouse and myself AND closer to home…I think I am going to apply and get out from under my current employer if possible. I look forward to dumping all of the additional job tasks and focusing on what I am gifted with :Fixing stuff: – my current employer has no idea of the wealth of information in my head about everything I have created and built here and if I am lucky enough to step down and get this position I look forward to two weeks’ notice and walking away and taking all of this experience in my head along with me – I will not be back to help them. And finally they may or may not get to see what I truly have been doing for them as things slowly unwind and break as they always do. But by then it will be too late. I feel blessed ~

  • Jessika says:

    I am about to face the same thing. I work in radiology and hate second of it with the crappy hours, getting my schedule changed whenever the department feels it is necessary, working weekends and holidays and taking a crap load of call. My stress is through the roof! I have cried at work teice already where I just broke down because i hate hate hate it. I have been looking for a new job for about 6 months now but all I can find are part time jobs or flexi (no benefits). I have an interview for a job but it pays half of what I am currently getting. If the interview goes well I will be stuck with the problem of do I take the new job with awesom hours, and excellent benefits (it has excellent benefits, pension plan and excellent medical insurance and will pay 100 percent to go back to school, but real low crappy pay, or keep my misery of the really good pay I have but the crappy hours and call and no breaks….I just dont want my stress to be turned to “how am I going to pay for my car repair, or my cat getting sick”?


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