Is It So Bad to Do Something “Just for the Money”?

Is there something wrong with doing a job “just for the money”? Do you always have to a passion for the work you do?

One of the trends I notice right now, especially among Millennials, is the idea that you shouldn't do something “just for the money.”

I agree that it's always better to make money doing what you love. After all, I enjoy writing, I am happy to work from home, and I make a nice living. I would never poo-poo doing what you love and making money.

But, at the same time, I have a hard time castigating those who choose careers “just for the money.” Because, sometimes, “just for the money” is all you have.

Why are You Working “Just for the Money”?

I'm a big fan of introspection when it comes to money. I have long been an advocate of looking at the?why of things when it comes to using your money. On top of that, I see money more as a resource to be directed. How you direct that resource depends on you overall goals. Once you know your goals, I think it makes sense to figure out an earning plan — on top of your spending plan — that works within your own framework.

And this framework includes working “just for the money.”

One of the things to consider when working “just for the money” is whether or not you are in survival mode. It's nice to think that you can do work you love, and make a good living, but the reality is that the fact that you don't love your job is probably a first world problem. Even in our country, which is considered first world, there are plenty of people in survival mode. Working “just for the money” makes a lot more sense when you are in survival mode, trying to get by, or trying to change your financial situation so that you can move beyond survival mode.

The motivations behind your money mindset are important to acknowledge if you want to figure out what to do next. If you are in desperately trying to change your situation, it makes sense to work “just for the money.” You take any damn job you can get.

What About Money for Status?

I also talk a lot about doing things because you want to do them, and spending money on things that matter most to you. So, what if you are just trying to do something that makes a lot of money so you can reap the rewards of status?

Once again, it depends on what's important to you. If status is really important to you, and you enjoy the rewards of status/fame/whatever more than you hate the thing you are doing “just for them money,” I don't actually see a problem with it.

This is something I'm starting to evolve a little bit more about in my life. There are times that I wish I could be a superstar, and I get a little grumpy about it. Sometimes I'm even negative about when I don't think I'm getting “my due.” However, when I get right down to it, the reality is that I'm not willing to do what it takes. I'm learning to at least be content with the C list.

There are some things I'm willing to do “just for the money,” especially when it comes to my writing. Mainly because, overall, I like my lifestyle and I want to maintain it. If I sometimes need to do something I don't particularly like to maintain where I'm at, I'll go ahead and do it, just so I can get paid.

But, ultimately, I can't really gripe against those who want to do something because more money so often means more status. If that status is important to them, and they are willing to do things they find unpleasant to earn the money that allows them to buy that status, I don't have a problem with it.

No, you may not be the happiest person in the world while you are doing your work, but if your career is “just for the money,” there might be other ways you are enjoying your life. If you can manage to enjoy bright, shining moments in between, that might be worth it to you.

Figure out what drives you, and what's behind your drive to do something “just for the money.” Then decide if it's still worth it.

What do you think? Have you ever done something “just for the money”? Was it worth it? Do you think that you would do it again?

11 thoughts on “Is It So Bad to Do Something “Just for the Money”?”

  1. Interesting thoughts here. I’ve struggled with this a lot over the last couple of years as I’ve tried to find out what I want to do with my life. My mom has worked her job the last 35 years for money only and because of that, she’s hated every moment of it. I’m 100% sure I could never do that.

    But there are certainly some times where you gotta do what you gotta do.

  2. Miranda,

    I agree. I would never criticize those who do something just for the money.

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence. For years I worked as a service advisor at luxury car dealerships. I hated the work, but the money provided the opportunities to invest and do what I’m doing today. I now write for a living and love every minute. But it was working solely for the money that showed me what that’s like, and motivated me to find something I enjoyed much more. You don’t know good until you know bad, I suppose. Furthermore, you have to pay the bills…whether or not you like it.

    Best wishes!

    1. That’s a great point, Jason! In some cases, a few years of working just for the money can lay a foundation for the freedom to do more of what you want, without worrying as much about the money.

  3. Prudence Debtfree

    I definitely agree that it’s more than OK to work “just for the money.” It is a first world “problem” for people who feel they’re missing something because they’re not passionate about their jobs. I think that as long as there is something you are passionate about – your children, your hobby, your church, or even a blossoming romance – you are fortunate. I disagree with your point about it being OK to work for status. There is the old saying that there is no point in climbing the ladder if it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

    1. I guess it depends on what’s important to you. I don’t work for the status, but I know that some people find that very important, so I guess I don’t fault them for that too much. 🙂 At any rate, I love that you point out that most people around the world don’t have the luxury of enjoying their jobs. They have to work for survival, and it’s the other things in life that make it worth living.

  4. This is a good question you raise. I am currently doing a job that pays decent, but I know that I don’t want to do it for ever. However, I work for a company that does provide an incredible service to the community (healthcare), so I believe that my work, even if not thrilling to me, is still making a difference.

    Personally, I believe that whatever you do needs to be helping you learn, live a life that you enjoy, or provide some sort of service to others. Many jobs can fall into this category.

    The moment you start working PURELY for the money, you are putting a price-tag on your time, and your life.

    That’s my two cents. 🙂

    1. Great point about putting a price tag on your life when money becomes your main focus with your job. And I like the idea that you can learn from almost any job, or do some good almost anywhere. Take what you can from what you are doing, moving forward and progressing. Eventually, you might be able to amass the financial freedom necessary to do what you want.

  5. Our company is on a big “engagement” kick at work and I was pretty honest with the HR folks saying that not everyone needs to be engaged all day long everyday. Some days I am burned out and just want to get things done. Other days I am pumped and excited to get things accomplished. I don’t think anyone can be on a 100% “work high” all the time. As long as the task is done well I don’t really care how it gets done.

    1. Great point about not worrying about how it gets done as long as it’s done well. Also, I laughed about the “engagement kick” at work. There are always these fads to try and get everyone to be happy all the time, but you’re right that we’re not always going to be gung-ho.

  6. I’ve been on both sides and I definitely don’t judge anyone for doing something just for the month. Sometimes, you’ve got to do what you need to do get by. Other times you’re lucky to being doing a job you like. Those are the best kind of days.

  7. I think doing something for the money is just fine, admirable even; especially if you work at it with as much energy and engagement as you can. My husband had mediocre jobs for seven years post college before we decided that it was time for him to go back to school in the hopes that he can get onto the R&D track instead of the ME track.

    I do, however, have a problem with people doing the work just for the money and then complaining there is nothing better for them. You can always make something better. That’s the great thing about First World Problems, you can have first world solutions too.

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