Financial Planning



The Battle of Salary vs. Sanity

GROWTH Community Contributor

Randi Morritt

While there was an expectation that people would return to the workforce en masse as vaccination rates increased and job boards reopened, new studies suggest those positions may be left unfilled going into 2022. After enduring nearly two years of pandemic workforce changes, a record high of 4.5 million Americans voluntarily resigned from their positions in November 2021. Now coined, “The Great Resignation” resulted largely from workers taking time to rethink their careers, work conditions, and long-term goals. With no signs of this trend slowing down, many are left questioning, “Is this really worth it?”

Calibrating the Scales

In a society where our identity is deeply rooted in our jobs, what we do to make money, and how we spend our hard-earned cash, it’s no wonder many are confused as they navigate pandemic life. The recently updated book, Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin raises the tough questions to transform your relationship with money. This is more than your earning, spending, debt, and savings; it also includes the time and energy these functions take up in your life.

“No matter what you think money is, there’s one truth about money that applies to everyone: Money is something you trade your life energy for. You pay for money with your time. And the exchange is not as good as you think”.  –Author Vicki Robin

While there are plenty of books available today about personal finance, most view the aspects of your financial and personal life separately. This book merges the two worlds and argues your financial life is your real life. I picked up this book last month during my annual money cleanse in search of practical financial advice and best practices but found so much more. This book has allowed me to look at my career and compensation through an entirely different lens.

Uncover your Real Hourly Wage

Let’s start with the number your company is willing to pay your per hour. Now add up all the associated costs related to performing your job: transportation, car insurance, gas, appropriate work attire, makeup and grooming costs, takeout lunches, coffee breaks, business trips, time to decompress after a long commute, delivery costs and hired help to take care of household tasks you no longer have time for, a vacation to get away from your work/ coworkers, even a therapist to deal with pent-up work-related stress. When you divide these by the number of hours you spent doing these activities, you get your Real Hourly Wage. Suddenly the $27 an hour you were offered is now in the ballpark of $12 an hour. This is far less than you thought! Is there a job that would allow you to retain more of your money in less time? Evaluate your current or potential Real Hourly Wage using the author’s Life Energy Calculator. This tool will allow you to objectively evaluate your choices to make a conscious decision on how to spend your valuable time and money.

Examine Your Values

How do you define work? As the late economist Robert Theobald defines it, “Work is something that people do not want to do, and money is what compensates for the unpleasantness of work.” For most, work is defined as what we do to make money. Now reflect on the purpose of your paid employment. Are you getting full value for what you are selling your time for? You may consider a variety of purposes: to earn money, to have a sense of security, tradition, to provide service, to grow, to have power, to socialize, or to structure your time and give a sense of rhythm in your life. Although these other purposes are undoubtedly attractive, there is really only one defining purpose of paid employment, according to the author: getting paid. Even out of those fortunate enough to like our jobs, most would not work without payment. By definition, it would no longer be considered work. The author observes,

“For middle-class workers and up, any stress, confusion, or disappointment we might feel concerning our paid employment is rarely because of the pay itself. We have already seen that beyond a certain level of comfort, more money does not bring more satisfaction. Perhaps the trouble with our paid employment, then, is that our needs for stimulation, recognition, growth, contribution, interaction, and meaning are not being met by our jobs.”

Reclaim balance

Salary or sanity? Why not both. Author Vicki Robin makes the point that we must integrate all aspects of our lives to obtain fulfillment. However, how we earn money does not need to serve all purposes of fulfillment in every stage of life. If you believe that what you do to make money is who you are, you will likely adopt whatever patterns that allow you to survive your current role.

Suppose you are a natural-born teacher but make money as a computer programmer. In that case, you may find incongruity between your inner sense of self and outer presentation in stating, “I am a computer programmer .” Instead, if you think, “I am a teacher, but I’m currently writing computer programs to make money,” you acknowledge your true passion and consciously evaluate how you will structure your career going forward. With your shift in mindset, perhaps you decide to volunteer and teach on the side. Or, you apply for a new job teaching computer programming and write computer programs in your spare time. Only you can find the balance that works for your passions and lifestyle.

In an ideal world, your calling or vocation would be your paid work as well. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee you will find the specific opportunity to pay you for what you feel called to do. Only you can plot your path. It may take years to research, cultivate your craft, and make the right connections. Both work and pursuit of purpose can build skills and provide a sense of achievement. By separating wage and work, you can do both with more integrity. Think of this time as “in the making .” Each experience is a new opportunity to work towards your future goals if you have a solid plan in place.

Quelling the Rising Tide of Resignations

The Great Resignation and war for talent are likely to endure for the foreseeable future as entire industries continue to seek ways to minimize the number of their departing workers. To attract and retain tomorrow’s top talent, employers offering alternative work arrangements, including flexible schedules, remote options, and various cost-saving benefits will prevail with more satisfied, fulfilled workers. From eliminating commutes and reduced dress code requirements to at-home lunches and accommodating childcare arrangements, alternative benefits will trump higher salaries alone. As for the individual—examine your purposes for paid employment and determine how much is “enough.” Empower and educate yourself on how to spend your most precious commodity—your life.


Randi Morritt is the Vice President of Marketing & Administration at Visit Aurora.

No Events