Hmmmm... tough question...

Just though of this. It might be a pretty tough question to some.

For your job, would you rather…

  1. Be paid 1 billion dollars per year, doing something you absolutely HATE.

  2. Get paid minimum wage, doing something you love.

I know what I’d rather do, but as not to bias your opinion I won’t say. I’d like to here what you think, and your reasoning.

Well, obviously the first one would include a “better” lifestyle, but most likely getting paid 1 billion dollars per year would involve working a lot, and therefore you never really have the time to enjoy that “better” lifestyle. If you have a family, (wife, children) you wouldn’t be able to spend time with them, and I wouldn’t call that better. I would say something between the two, for example some people really want to go off and be a full time musician, but it is very hard to make a living off of that most of the time, so for most people they decide they have to do something else for their job, though it may not be what we want.

What I would say, is never do something you hate. Do something you like, do something you love if you want, but be smart financially.


I would work for 1 year at $1 billion, save 99.997% (or whatever is left after the tax dudes are done) and live off the savings, making minimum wage (or nothing) doing what I like/lovefor the rest of my life.

The one exception would be why I “hate” the job. If it’s because it’s boring, tedious, or unpleasant, I’d endure it. But if it’s because it’s against my principles (for example, drug dealing), all bets are off.

Actually, my financial life has “kinda sorta” played out like the above scenario, but to a lesser extreme.

Okay, let’s lay down some constraints.

  1. You work the same amount at each job. 8 Hours a day, no overtime.

  2. No changing your job. Once you start one, you must stick with it for the rest of your life. (I knew someone would find that loop hole!)

  3. All jobs all legal.

The real question is, do you value doing what you love more than the money? It’s really, really hard to get by on minimum wage, but you might feel more satisfied, because you love your work. On the other hand, taking the 1 billion would mean a more comfortable lifestyle. But you suffer 8 hours a day.

And ManicMechanic, would you care to elaborate on your job scenario? If you have the time, of course. I’m just having trouble deciding exactly what I want to be, and I’m jumping back and forth from different kinds of engineering, plus what I’d like to do after I get the degree (type of job). Hearing about what some people are, and what they do, helps give me an idea of what I’d like to do.

I’d survive on minimum wage, just handle my money really well, and start investing… pretty soon, i not only have my minimum wage job (which is actually what i have right now… well, close to it…) but i have some passive income to compliment it…

If you avoid debt, don’t do anything stupid, and just use a little common sense, before you know it, you are the guy with a billion dollars, all from a minimum wage job…

but yeah… DEFINITELY minimum wage… just handle it really well… start getting some investments, that sort of thing… :smiley:

or is that a loophole as well? :stuck_out_tongue:

I remember seeing a show, “30 Days” I think it was, and a couple had to survive on minimum wage jobs. It was nearly impossible. If you were superman and couldn’t get sick, well I guess you could do okay, but if you come down with something, like a broken bone or heart disease, you really don’t have money to treat it well. Even if you get Medicaid here in the US, you still have to work your job with your ailment.

unclejoe, you’re kind of avoiding the question, but I guess I’ll take it. It’s what I’d do…

Wow, how often do I get an invitation to tell my life’s story?? Unfortunately, I have a house full of guests (again), but I’ll get back to this as soon as they’re safely off. Actually, the longer I take, the better for your sake, as the first draft is usually the longest and least coherent.

This is a long story, so you might want to settle down with a nice cup of cocoa in a comfy chair.

I originally wanted to be a dentist – I like people, biology, and working with my hands. The plan was to complete dental school without getting a bachelor’s degree – I had tuition money for either 4 years or a bachelor’s degree, whichever came first. But when I took Intro to Drill and Fill, I failed it miserably (twice). At that point, I had 1 year of tuition money left and no idea of what I wanted to do or what degree I could/should get. Because I hadn’t taken a foreign language, it would take 2 years of foreign language classes to get bachelor’s degree in any area except engineering. My advisor figured that I could piece together a BS in Electrical Engineering in 3 additional semesters, and extra biology classes from dental school fulfilled many requirements for a MS in Bioengineering, so one extra semester earned a degree in that field – total of 2 years more for 2 degrees.

The problem was that I had 2 engineering degrees but no idea of what an engineer did, as well as fairly significant debt from my final year of school. I needed to work but was paranoid about going into industry because I wasn’t confident that I could do anything in the “real world.” In those days, they didn’t have cool robotics systems, and my only experience with computers was via punch cards (yes, I’m THAT old). I found a job at the university in a research lab doing some really fun stuff. We studied how the brain processes auditory information with the goal of recreating brain signals for people with no hearing. I worked on math and computer models of auditory systems, and designed experiments to test how the brain responds to various sounds. Our team worked very closely with a team in the EE department on a project that fabricated electrodes which could collect data in individual brain cells. In 2 years, I learned that I could be an adequate, but not excellent, researcher or engineer, and to be adequate would take all the time and energy I had. I worked at the lab until after 8 pm at least once/week, and until after midnight at least once/month. To continue in the field, I would also need to get a Ph.D., and I didn’t love any aspect of the field enough to devote myself to that.

At that time, I felt a calling to teach English overseas. From the start, I LOVED teaching, even thought the content (English) wasn’t my forte. On the other side of the world, I re-discovered an old friend from my college days who was also teaching English in the same place. As the statistical odds of this happening are highly improbable, I like to think that this relationship was arranged. Fast forward to a marriage, a math degree (so that I could teach in the U.S.), a few more years of teaching, a return to the U.S. to care for aging parents (both his and mine), and kids.

As a parent, I felt that the most important “job” that I could do was to take care of my kids. As the kids got older, “take care of” evolved from changing diapers to coaching robotics. The definition of “my kids” evolved from my progeny to their friends, their schools, and their community. I’ve periodically been able to teach part-time at the local junior college, but only because my husband also teaches part-time at the same college and picks up the slack at home when I’m not available. We have a special-needs daughter at home, so full-time work isn’t practical at this time.

How this played out financially:

  1. After 2 years at the research lab, I earned enough to pay off all debts and put away some savings.
  2. Being debt free, I had the freedom to work overseas at a job I loved for the grand sum of $300/month. I lived on less than that and banked the rest.
  3. Having some savings (that grew), my husband and I had enough to make a substantial down-payment on a house so that we could afford to live on one part-time income, then 2 part-time incomes as the kids got older.

A breakdown of my work week these days:

  1. 20 – 30 hrs./week teaching – LOVE this, and it pays respectably
  2. ~ 40 hrs/week “taking care of kids” – this includes robotics – LOVE this too, and it pays nothing.
  3. 5 – 10 hrs/week housework (e.g., laundry & stuff I’d have to do even if I didn’t have kids) – tolerate this, and I’d love to have the finances to farm it out :o

So should you do what you love or go for the money? I’d add a category and make the priority list: 1) serve WHO you love, 2) do WHAT you love and 3) money should come last.

Your work/financial life will probably look a lot different than this. But if you learn to live on substantially less than you make, you will likely have the freedom at opportune times to take work that you love without having to consider how much it pays.


P.S. While at times my career has seemed chaotic, it has never lacked direction. Around the age of 20, I discovered an important “Who”, and while I often haven’t known WHAT I was doing or WHERE I was going, I always knew WHO I was following.

I don’t know if y’all have heard of Dave Ramsey, but with his way of thinking about money, you can practically have a minimum wage job, and become debt-free, and live independently wealthy…

it’s all in how you manage your money, and what you do…

But if i didn’t have the option of doing anything special like that, i would probably go with the money option, just because i can endure eight hours a day if i get to do whatever i want the other 16… and if i have the money to fuel my crazy ideas… :stuck_out_tongue:

but yeah… it is a tough call, and i would definitely call it all off if i had to start making compromises… but yeah… very tough…

“Do what you love.” Exactly what you should do. But then, the problem arises, “What do I love to do?” It seems to me that all types of engineers are specialized in a way… Electrical… Mechanical… Software… sound… blah blah blah… but do I have to choose just one? Is there a way that I can do them all at the same job? For a few months, I’ve been building with my Vex kit. Thought I’d be a mechanical engineer. Then I started playing with programming things other than vex, and that’s fun too. But, I don’t want to sit at a computer all day. I’ve just been building circuits, and modifying my Rockband kick pedal (I’m adding a one-shot to the pedal, so I can use 2 pedals for double kick) and I thought, “Oh yeah, EE. Sounds good.” So now, I’ve got all these options, and I can’t go to college for them all… can I? Would experience alone in a certain area be enough, and I wouldn’t need to get a college degree for everything on my resume? So many questions!!! And I’ve only got 4 years 'til I’m 18, and I might be going to college by then!

Plus, I’m afraid that if I do something every day, albeit if it’s what I love, I might get tired of it and begin to hate it. I’m trying to figure out what to keep just my hobby, and what to do for a job, but, should I do it for job and hobby? My friend’s dad is an EE and I think he’s not to happy with his job. Maybe it’s because he’s contracting himself for the military, and they like to make last minute tweaks and keep as much as they can a secret from him, or maybe it’s just him. Or stress.

Well now I’ve talked up a storm, and have still gotten nowhere. Wait a minute, maybe I should be a politician… hehehe…

There are integrated fields like mechatronics, but there aren’t too many universities that offer this specifically as a major. Studying something more generic, like Electrical or Mechanical engineering, would be another way to accomplish the same thing.

When you study an engineering discipline like Mechanical, Electrical, Computer, etc., you’re expected to have at least some knowledge of several of the other disciplines. It’s common for engineering majors to take intro courses in the other areas (e.g. Mechanical engineers taking basic circuits or thermodynamics, which are commonly thought of as “EE” or “ChemE” classes). And all engineers are expected to have a working knowledge of computers and basic programming. You pick one place to anchor yourself (hopefully, one area where you’re relatively strong), and you branch out from there. That could mean getting a minor or double major in another area, but it could also mean sticking with one major, but being “generally strong” in several other areas.

These days, it’s very common to start off doing one thing and have a major change of career several years down the road. That doesn’t mean you picked the wrong thing – it just means the world is changing, and so are you. Sometimes it means going back to school to retrain, or sometimes it just means taking a different job at the same or different company. If you love engineering but hate your job, it’s probably not the engineering type that’s to blame. It might be the people, the structure of the company (e.g. not enough freedom, too much secrecy), or a host of other factors.

I wish more politicians were engineers – then maybe more would get done!