Money or Happiness?

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

I thought twice about buying a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks this afternoon. Correction: a decaf, tall, non-fat, no whip Pumpkin Spice Latte. 😉

For the past 9 months, however, I never had to worry about money. I basically had 2 full-time jobs, so I spent my hard earned money how I wished.


My new financial situation got me thinking…

Money or happiness? Is it possible to have both?

I may not make as much money as used to, but I hope that I will love my work. I want to wake up every morning excited about the day and ready to get down to business. However, no longer having that financial freedom will definitely affect my daily life. I used to be able to buy whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without a second thought. This way of living is no longer going to work for me. There will obviously need to be some changes!

On the other hand, when I was living the high life, I had zero time and never stopped working. Even when I was sleeping, my brain was still thinking about work! I also dreaded Monday mornings. On Sunday nights, I was practically sick with anxiety about the upcoming work week. And, all week long, I couldn’t wait for it to be Friday. Sitting at a desk for that many hours totally drained me.

My new situation seems pretty ideal, so I think I will probably fall somewhere in the middle of these two options. Of course, these two scenarios are the extremes, but simply answering this question might help you decide whether to stay in your current situation or pursue your dream job.

Which do you prefer: The low-paying dream job or the passionless high-paying job?


Today’s lunch was de-lic-ious! I made an extra Pesto-Pinto Grilled Cheese last night to take with me for lunch today. I didn’t bother heating up the sandwich and just ate it cold. It was AWESOME! I also had a Larabar and apple with lunch.


I’m going to write the final part of my announcement this afternoon, so keep a look out for it. I promise it’s coming soon!



  1. Dream job fo’ sho’. Within the past year I left a high paying job to take one that paid significantly less b/c I was so flippin’ stressed out all the time. It wasn’t worth it. All I thought about was work and I, like you, would become depressed on Sundays just thinking about the week ahead. I think making less money but enjoying what you do is so much more rewarding. Good luck!!!

  2. A low-paying dream job for sure! I have to live on a pretty tight budget as is, so I’m used to it. I am the kind of person who is 100% okay with never eating out so that I can budget in more high quality food at the grocery store. I also use tons of coupons. I frequently walk out of the store with stuff (some food, tons of health and beauty items) for free or almost free… as crazy as it sounds, it provides a “high” because it’s kind of like legal theft! 😉 Living on a budget can be fun — it’s kind of like a game in a way.

  3. Happiness, always. I’m enjoying a few years of traveling before getting a “real” job and even though it requires budgeting, I try to give myself some wiggle room to splurge sometimes. And that means the occasional pumpkin spice latte. 😉

  4. Hands down, the lower paying dream job. Those of us who work full time spend most of our waking hours at work, so who wants to be miserable the majority of the time just to have more money? Not me!

    Can’t WAIT to hear the rest of your announcement!

  5. MAN, that is a hard decision there!!! I do not make a ton of $$$ at my current job, however there is room for advancement that will get me there and luckily I like my job a lot so I am sticking with it!

    However, if I had to make that decision I am not sure what I would do as the need for money is great for me as my husband has been unemployeed for 14 months now and the bills are still due, however I am a firm believer that in life you should do what you LIKE or LOVE if you are lucky so I would want to choose that route myself………….hmmmmmmmmm!?!?!?!

    =) Laura @ Finding A Healthy Balance (after a “100 Pound” weight loss)

  6. How about a high paying dream job? I am 37 and just went back to school to pursue a degree in criminal justice. After that, I plan to switch to law school… I will probably graduate at retirement time…

  7. It is such an honest struggle that I think all of us have to think about being ‘grown ups’. There are definitely pros and cons to both sides. While I would love to admit that I 100% believe in happiness, money is an evil thing and always sneaks in there. But I think happiness means more to me, so in the end, I’d have to go that route 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear about your final piece of info you have for us!

  8. I think you have to do what make you happy..that being said I would go for the low-paying dream job! I would much rather cut a few corners and do what I love as apposed to be stressed out and hate my job.

  9. Low paying dream job or passionless high paying job? I would definitely choose the lower paying job. I went from a state job with good pay & mucho benefits to a private sector job with good caring people to work with(less money though and zilch benefits).I have never regretted it but as I get closer to retirement age, I wish I had put more money into savings for retirement. BTW, I have never had a “dream job” though, still waiting for that one!!!

  10. Definitely low paying dream job!

    I have a job now that I really, really don’t like. But, it pays well. After a lot of thinking, I’m going back to school for nursing. I’ll have to quit my job and go back to school full-time – eek! But in the long run? SO WORTH IT!

  11. Gotta be the right balance of both for the person in question. For some people having a financial cushion makes them happy. Either because they’re not stressing over paying normal bills, or because it allows them to pay for things that make them happy. (Maybe world travel is your passion…) For others they may not need a nice house, or the little extras that money pays for and for them being happy in their job is more important.

    I chose a job that I like but don’t necessarily love (I’d love to be a painter, but that would never pay the bills.) The job pays well and it allows me to do things that make me happy outside of work. Works for me. 🙂

    You gotta find what balance works best for you.

  12. Low paying dream job – as long as I wasn’t feeling money anxiety every day. I think it’s important to follow your dreams and wake up everyday not dreading work. Right now I don’t love my job but I don’t hate it at all – I’m in between so I’m ok. Eventually, if I have a family, my passion will be there and hopefully I can cut back to working part-time for the flexibility. Good for you finding your happiness!

  13. A high-paying job doesn’t have to passionless … I’m a lawyer and really love getting in to work in the mornings. (But if there were only two choices, I would say happiness!)

  14. I am working for a start up I love, but that pays me very very very little. I am dreaming of bigger things for this company so hopefully one day I will have both. But I can say I am far happier doing this than my passionless job I had before!

  15. This might sound crazy, but I’ve found at my poorest times, the best way to not spend money was to not have money on me! I’d bring my ID and bus pass to work with me, but leave the cash and plastic at home! I also plan on a “payday treat” under $5 twice per month, so I don’t feel completely deprived. 🙂

  16. Waiting patiently….right! Not! I choose prosperous happiness…a balance is nice! Good luck Tina and always follow your heart to happiness.


  17. I know what it’s like to have a high-paying job that makes me unhappy. I’m a lawyer and while it may be an ideal job for some people it is SO not me. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and I feel like it’s sucking the life out of me! The hard thing about having a high-paying job is that it’s so easy to convince yourself that sticking with it is a good thing and then you find yourself trapped. I’m trying to find a way out but I feel like it would be irresponsible to leave until I have a clear PLAN. I don’t care if I make a small fraction of what I make now as long as I am doing something that makes me excited every day. Kudos to you for following your heart and your passions!

  18. It’s a good bet that I’m a lot older than your average reader. Speaking from experience (and agreeing with Allison), it is fine and well to say you need to love what you do, but there is a cost. Part of what I love about my life is that I can travel, have a nice home, experience arts and culture, and do all this while still saving for the future. These things are only available to me because I have had to work for them. I do realize that I am lucky to have a relatively well-paying career that I absolutely love. If you think you are short on time now, just wait until children are added to the mix…

  19. As a freelance classical musician, I have obviously chosen the low paying dream job. I don’t regret my decision, but I would say that it is not a “no brainer” as someone commented. Living without much money can be very stressful (perhaps as stressful as a high paying job?) Also, no job is 100% dream job. On those occasions when I’m frustrated with my job, I get even more frustrated that it doesn’t pay as much as I would like.

    Having said all that though, 95% of the time I LOVE being a musician and I wouldn’t trade it for a boring office job for any amount of money.

  20. My high paying job require more time during my week but it enables me to pay others to do what you I don’t want to do (a housekeeper, etc.) and allows me to use your free time for my passions, family, exercise, etc.

  21. I’ve had both, and I know that I’m happier when I’m doing what I love, even if itmeans less money. Plus, I know for me, that money isn’t always a super motivator. I may be making more at my current job, but I could take it or leave it; I have no emotional attachment to what I’m doing. However, that will change when I start teaching again in January. I actually do care about that job. Money can’t buy you happiness…cliche, but true!

  22. The low paying dream job. Without question.

    I am on the journey myself now. I too tried the high paying passionless job. I did it for a year. It was a year of my life that I’ll never get back. But luckily it taught me that happiness is SO much more important than making tons of money. What’s all that money worth if you’re anxiety ridden and suffer through your week? Not much.

    It’s a tough choice and sometimes you can find a balance. As they say, if you love what you do enough, the money will just come. Even if it takes a while.
    At the moment, pursuing my dream job is costing me a lot of money and is leaving me with little to spend. However, I know in the end it will pay off… both financially and in happiness.

  23. My husband and I made a similar choice 14 years ago when we decided I should step out of the work force to be a full time mom. It required that we move half way across the country away from family but it was worth it to us.That was absolutely my dream and and my husband completely supported that choice. Money has never been plentiful but we have always had everything we need. I would never have traded my years with my kids for a paycheck. Yes we have made many sacrifices but I have invested myself completely in my children. That was my choice. It has truly been my dream job. Now I’m back in the work force part-time in a new career that I find deeply rewarding. Follow your dream. You will have challenges but you will also have the incredible satisfaction of facing them and coming out on the other side. The challenges are part of the journey.

  24. I’m in that position now. My job doesn’t pay much and I don’t have the option to get a second job…but I love it. I feel truly called to do this work and I wouldn’t trade it to get more money. I have just learned that I can enjoy the good stuff…just not as often. It actually makes it more special because it’s not all the time. I enjoy a nice dinner out or a trip more because I can’t go all the time. I wouldn’t trade it.

  25. “Which do you prefer: The low-paying dream job or the passionless high-paying job?”

    Neither….I don’t believe you should live your happiness “dreams” thru your job… Beat the system…Get a career that allows you to live your dreams monatarily, but outside of the office…. Bring your job into your life so it works for you but don’t look to your job to provide your happiness….. It should provide fullfillment and a sense of worth, and dignity…but, it will always be a job… nature of the beast…….. I have written you about my situation and how we set our company, and my roll in it, up over the last many years…Always a pain in some ways, but a huge high five to both of us as it lets us have a way to accomplish our dreams together…while making a happy living and staying very healthy…

    Find your passion outside work… so it does not become work instead of a passion…

    Or, you may think i am nuts 😉

  26. What’s life without passion!? Work should be something you love…on that same note – there’s a reason they call it work and you get paid for it! I think there is a balance to find. Yes, work is work, but you shouldn’t have to spend your days counting down the hours. I’d say a little less money is worth a lot more happiness =) Life is what you make it!

  27. Courtney: I am with you on that one! You cannot buy real happiness with money.. hehe! But why do some people say, more money mean more happiness?

  28. At this point: the passionless high paying job. My job right now pays so little that I would love to know what financial freedom feels like. Also, I could quit after I build a nest egg and travel through Europe, right?

  29. I would say the low paying dream job, but the mortgage just doesn’t agree ;)I would like a happy medium as I feel like I have become accustomed to certain things that I would not want to give up like a few trips out of the country/year and eating out at new places a few times a week. Of course, if someone would just pay me to do those things. .

  30. Great post. I think about this issue quite often. I am 1.5 years into law school and really wonder if it will make me happy. Most of my friends are in the same position. We all graduate college, get a job, work, get on a path, but sometimes never take the time to figure out what we want to do.

  31. I am in a high paying job that sucks the life out of me every. single. day. I know all to well the sick feeling on Sunday nights. I liken the experience to a similar one I had every day of the 2nd grade when I dreaded going to school. That nun was MEAN! Bloggers like yourself, Jenna and Caitlin have totally inspired me to persue my dream job (problem is, I am having a little troubling nailing it down). Happiness beats money any day in my book. What’s all the money worth if you’re not emotionally or physically able to spend it?! Cheers!!

  32. Not having the $ to get whatever you want whenever you want really does make you appreciate the things that really matter vs. material things. It’s very refreshing actually. 🙂

  33. That is the question! I really think that there can be seasons of life where having the high-paying/stressful job is right (like when you’re paying off student loans, saving up for a down payment on a house, etc.) – but, overall, I think that if it’s possible to have a job that is life-giving and enjoyable, it so makes up for the luxuries that you have to give up! A little over a year ago I switched jobs to do something I enjoy more… my husband and I had to come up with a more structure budget and decided to use the “envelope method”. Every month I get cash for lunch money, groceries, and a little bit for anything that I personally want that isn’t in the budget otherwise. Having the cash helps me know when I can splurge on that latte or when I need to conserve and make coffee at home. It keeps me from feeling deprived, but I also stay within my budget. Good luck with your new position! Happiness in a job is worth so much!

  34. Well thats a hard one. Because though I’d easily say “happiness”, it can be extremely stressful to not have any money. Can you not be stressed when u have a hard time paying bills? I think the goal is to put so much heart and drive into what u love, and somehow the money should come.

  35. i’ve always been about doing what you love… although now i hate my job so i feel a bit hipocritical. at least i know it’s only temporary!

  36. I originally wanted to get into the concert business for all of the free shows I’d see 🙂 Now, I can’t possibly make time to attend all of our concerts at work… how’s that for a problem to have! I think that money is not all its cracked up to be… what’s that saying, mo’ money, mo’ problems?
    I would choose happiness over money, hands down. In fact… I kind of am living that right now. Non-profit = teeny salary, but I love what I do so much that I’ve made it work.

  37. If you are truly happy then everything else will fall into place (money, life, shopping, etc). You will find happiness in different things than you did before with your high paying job. One of my friends said that “the bigger the risk, the greater the reward.” I kept telling myself that and in August I left my high paying job in California to move to New York to for school, which meant incurring a lot of student loans to pursue my dreams. Reading your blog post just made me realize I did the right thing and I know you will with your recent career change. Go Tina!

  38. Ohhh it’s such a head one. My friend and I were discussing it this afternoon! I work for a non profit aka do not earn much moolah! BUT I love the organization I work for and I could not see myself working in a corporate environment. I feel like it would suck my soul. I cannot buy pumpkin spice lattes either…haha…but I can be content with my job. It’s a fine balance. If I could earn buttloads and not work for the man…well, sign me up!

  39. Low paying dream job hands down! The field I’m going into isn’t known for bringing in the money but when you have a passion for it, it doesn’t even feel like work. No amount of money can buy happiness.

  40. My pick would be the high-paying dream job! 🙂 Kidding aside, I’m currently working at a low-paying dream job. I knew when I went into the writing/editing field that it would be low paying compared to some other career paths I could have chosen, but honestly, I wouldn’t trade my job for a higher paying job that I don’t love. And, yeah, it irks me that my partner (who is working toward a college degree but doesn’t yet officially have one) makes twice as much as I do even though I have a degree. However, whenever I see him stressed out, which is often, I realize the extra pay is just not worth it in the long run. His stress level alone is probably going to shorten his life, and he simply does not love what he does. It’s sad.

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