Reader Case: Take a Stressful Job to get to FI Faster?

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One of our favourite things about writing a book and blog is getting reader e-mail. And one of our favourite type of reader mail is the reader cases. Sometimes I wish we could clone ourselves so we can answer each and every one of the reader cases, but between the book promotion, blog, and hanging out with our Chautauquan friends all over the world, we no longer have the time time to answer every single e-mail. We have to choose wisely. This latest one stood out to me because of a question that’s plagued many readers and Chautauquans, and after our latest Chautauqua, it’s made me wonder whether optimizing for money rather than optimizing for happiness just to get to FI is worth it. I’m also interested to hear all of your perspectives on this, so let’s get started:

Dear Kristy & Bryce,

I was recommended your book by my friend. Your book is amazing and inspirational.

We both live in Calgary, Alberta. My girlfriend and I were both born in Canada and both of Asian descent. My gf shared a video of you both being interviewed by CBC and we were very inspired.

My current job is not too hard and really flexible, yet I earn much less than my last job. I kept this job as on the side I’m running my online business as it is easier and the flexibility, I can spend my lunch hour working on my business. Do you suggest I get back to a 6-figure job or keep my $60,480/yr CAD (gross) job and building my online business or go back to applying for a higher paying job to save more?

Here’s our financial situation:

  • Your gross/net annual family income:
    • Gross: $132,480 =$60,480 (me) + $72,000 (her)
    • Net: $98,688.64= $47,126.64 (me) + $51,562 (her, after pension deduction every pay cheque)
  • Your monthly family spending:
    • $3,000
  • For any debts you have, please include: Only debt is the mortgage
    • Car paid off and no Student loans/credit card/consume debt
    • Mortgage:
      • The interest rate 2.95% variable (40 year terms started 2008)
      • Your minimum monthly payment $1,106.61
      • The outstanding balance $259,074.95
  • Any fixed assets you have (house, car, etc.)
    • House Market Value: $310,000 (Purchased place in Calgary 2008 for $345,000 at the high)
  • Any investments or savings you have (cash, bonds, stocks, etc.)
    • Cash (me): $2800, Stocks: $630, Mutual Funds: $9,000
    • Cash (her): $100,000: 90 % in mutual funds/RRPS/TFSA, 10% stocks.



IncomeCombined gross: $132,480; Combined Net: $98,688.64
Expenses$3000 / month x 12 = 36,000 / year
Debt-$259,074.95 (Mortgage)
Equity$310,000 x 0.95 (after real-estate fees) – $259,074.95 (mortgage) = $35,425.05
Liquid Assets$2800 + $100,000 + $630 + $9,000 = $112,430

Now, on first glance, the two things that jumped out at me were

  1. Their expenses are incredibly low and…
  2. They lost money on their home purchase

I was a bit skeptical about their monthly expense but seeing that their mortgage interest is less than 3% and they pay only $1,106.61 per month for housing, it’s conceivable that their expenses could really be this low. But that being said, in the absence of any other information, I’m going to take their claim of an overall $3000 a month spending at face value as their total spend, including their mortgage and other home ownership costs. If this isn’t true, they will need to redo my analysis with updated numbers themselves.

Assuming these numbers are correct, based on their current family spending, then by the 4% rule they will need $36,000 / year x 25 = $900,000 to become financially independent.

They have a savings rate of ($98,688.64 – $36,000)/$98,688.64 = 63.5%. That’s pretty close to our savings rate of 50-70% while we were working!

At a conservative 6% long term return, this will take:

YearStarting BalanceAnnual ContributionReturn (6%)Total

Note that for simplicity, we will assume that inflation will be offset by a 2% raise a year in their jobs.

So InspiredAlbertan can retire in…9 years!

Not too shabby! One of them also has a pension which, if she chooses to leave her job and taken as a cumulative lump sum, will add to their net worth. Here’s a post they can use to figure how to factor the pension into their FI number.

Now on to the house. With so many Home Boners out there flaunting their housing gains and saying shit like “you can’t afford not to buy a house”, this is proof that houses do not, in fact “always go up”.

But does that mean they should immediately dump this money pit?

I dunno! Let’s MATH SHIT UP to find out!

What would happen if they unlock the equity they have in the house? That would add another $35,425.05 to their net worth. According to Numbeo, the average rent for a 1BR apartment in Calgary is around $1248, so we have to take that into account and update our annual savings number.

So how would that affect their time to FI?

YearStarting BalanceAnnual ContributionReturn (6%)Total

We’re still at 9 years, so their time to FI doesn’t change. Why? They wouldn’t be reducing their housing costs all that much since the mortgage and the rental costs are similar, and they wouldn’t unlock that much equity since they actually lost money in the Calgary housing market.

Given the low interest rate of 2.95% and their low monthly payment, I would continue paying down the mortgage and keep their monthly expenses consistent. Plus going through all the trouble of listing their place, finding a new apartment, moving, etc. for no real difference in their FI date just isn’t worth the hassle.

So financially, they’re doing quite well, despite the downturn in the Calgary housing market.

That’s all fine and good but what about their original question?

“Do you suggest I get back to a 6-figure job or keep my $60,480/yr CAD (gross) job and building my online business or go back to applying for a higher paying job to save more?”

I recently spoke to a friend who’s contemplating taking a high stress/high pay job to get to FI faster, despite knowing that they’re going to be stressed out of their mind and their health will likely be compromised.

I get it. Once you discover FIRE, you go down the rabbit hole of FIRE books and blogs, and all you want to do is hold down the gas pedal to get FI faster. After all, if you get that 6-figure job, couldn’t you cut your time FI down by ½? Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to flip your boss off in the next 5 years, instead of waiting for 10 years?

And you know what? Five years ago, I probably would’ve told you to go for it! After all, become FI and quitting job was life changing for me. So why wouldn’t I want you to get there faster?

But now, having been retired for the past 4 years, I’ve realized that money isn’t the most important thing. Hell, time isn’t even the most important thing. After all, if you are sick and bed-ridden, all the extra time in the world wouldn’t help you. As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I’ve realized that the most important thing in life isn’t money, or even time. It’s health.

We only have a limited amount of time on this earth to be healthy. Switching to a job you like to a soul-sucking one just to make more money and destroy your health makes no sense because you might be trading healthy time for sick time, and that’s actually not a great trade. Especially since this couple doesn’t have student or credit card debt (which have the highest interest rates) and they’re already at a 64% savings rate.

Since InspiredAlbertan enjoys their easy-going (albeit lower paying) job and it gives them extra time and space to work on their online business, which could generate income in retirement, I would stay in their current position. Why destroy your health to earn more money when you don’t need to?

A word of caution I’d give to this couple is to also do the finances separately using the analysis I just did. Since they’re not married, it’s a good idea figure out their individual FI numbers as well.

I know that the FIRE community tends to be super optimistic, and that’s one of the reasons why I love being part of this community. That being said, when it comes to relationships, if you’re not married it’s a good idea to do two calculations, one with combined finances, one separately, just so you both know you can stand on your two feet just in case it doesn’t work out.

That’s it.

What do you think? Should InspiredAlbertan stay at their current job? And should they sell or keep their house?

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62 thoughts on “Reader Case: Take a Stressful Job to get to FI Faster?”

  1. Very interesting one.I feel like the high stress job would lead to financial leakage so they wouldn’t likely realise all the gains in the $100k income. In this case, off the top of my head, you could find that reduced flexibility could mean higher costs to the business on the side (he may need to employ someone to attend meetings he cannot because of his less flexible job, he may need to avail of cost-incurring services to receive packages which he currently can receive due to a home working arrangement etc), you could find that he has to spend more on a work-appropriate office wardrobe to reflect his standing in the company, he may have to do more ‘networking’ at a higher cost than his more flexible and modest employment, he will pay a relatively higher amount in taxes etc. Thus, I don’t think you could expect to even be able to save all of the salary increase to get there.

    Then when you add in higher stress, you have to account for the indirect increases associated with poorer sleep, poorer diet and reduced mood that usually accompanies a high stress lifestyle.

    Given the SR is so high, stick to what you have as you are already making rapid progress to becoming FI. In some ways, our household went in a vaguely opposing direction and although we increased stress, the increased flexibility from working less means we kind of didn’t inhibit out SR much so I imagine the reverse (your plan) wouldn’t massively improve it either. We adopted children recently and we lowered our income substantially, increased our costs significantly (all in all this still just reduced our SR from 73% to 65%) but exponentially ramped up our stress. All worth it, of course, because we place a high value on giving our kids a good start in life. However, others would see that as not worth it at all and they’d arguably be right. In that respect, we can all give our views but this is the kind of decision where one path will be right for you and only you will know it.

    1. Thanks for your 2 cents Cormac! Agree that their SR is high enough that a more stressful job isn’t worth it.

      Good for you for adopting and giving your kids a good start in life. You sound like an awesome person.

      1. Spot on conclusion! End of day health is everything. Even caviar will taste like dirt to a sick mouth😀 most of people often assume they will be earning nothing after reach FIRE number. I guess earning 1500 to 2000 $/month is quite easy these days from part time job or some online business.

  2. Thank you very much guys for this post.
    I am currently going through a similar exercise: my employment contract is coming to an end after 14 years of service (don’t ask…), and I’m a bit freaked out about the future.
    There are reasons to be freaked out (I’m living in a super expensive city and I’m pushing 49).
    But then again, there are also reasons not to be freaked out (the sum of my investments is at +/- 71% of where I want to be to be FIRE very comfortably, unemployment rate where I live is close to zero, I am entitled to 18 months of unemployment allowance (which will be 70% of my last salary), I have no financial dependents, no house in property and zero debt.
    I guess what freaks me out most is that I have indeed a job offer for a very well-paying job (+/- 200K), which will/should bring me to FIRE in around 2 to 3 years.
    But boy o boy, what those 2 to 3 years will be!!
    I don’t really like their business model (it’s one of the Big 4), their ethics, their values, the culture etc.
    I know up front that I won’t fit in, that I’ll constantly worry about not delivering up to their expectations and that I’ll have to work in a field that doesn’t resonate with my core values.
    So what to do? Bite the bullet, go for it and work my ass off for 3 years?
    Or just allow for a few months on unemployment and look for a job that is more up my alley, although it means FIRE may be 3, 4 or even 5 years away?
    Hell, I’ve contributed + 20 years into social security, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about being on the receiving end now, although I do. That’s my Ayn Rand side I guess…
    I really don’t know.
    I have another connect with my potential future employer and will try to get a better feel of the exact job content, but I already know I won’t be super excited about it.
    Anyway, always a pleasure reading your posts guys!!
    Thanks and best regards, Paul

    1. I’d enjoy some of the freedom being 71% FI affords you and find something better (ie. more fulfilling). My bet is if you can command a $200k salary in the big 4, you’ll likely command a big salary in a more fitting company anyway, and the difference between time to FI there and the Big 4 may be a matter of months rather than years if you get anywhere close.

      A crash or downturn in the near future could mean a sale on equities and the subsequent uptick, post-rebalancing of your assumedly sizable portfolio, might be what brings FI closer, rather than a heightened salary. Just my two cents – again, this will be a call only you can make

    2. Nice work on getting to 70% FIRE! That’s not an easy task. I don’t think you need to freak out (though it is perfectly normal when a work contract ends), your finances seem to be in order and that 18 months of severance is pretty sweet. I know the temptation is to take a high paying highly stressful job to speed up your time to FI, but in your case, since you’re highly employable, you can leverage that offer for a more enjoyable job. Retiring in 3-5 years versus 2-3 year isn’t that much of a difference.

    3. I’m in a similar situation, but not nearly as close to F/I. I was super lucky to get in on a start up early that grew a lot in the last three years. My income last year grew to 400k from profit sharing, but the work is MISERABLE. Constant pressure to perform, traveling all of the time, clients are abusive, the CEO is absentee (other than surprise check ins to demand we earn more), 60-70 hour weeks, etc. I have an offer from a former colleague that would pay 90k, but I the culture at the other company is soooooo much better. Not sure how to put a price tag on mental health…

  3. if you enjoy living in your house and in calgary i would just stay the course. never underestimate what is making you happy and content today. a low stress 60k job is pure gold if you’re not digging out of a hole. i have a similar gig now and it’s great.

    1. I agree, freddy. They seem happy staying the course so it makes sense to do so. Happy for you that you have a good gig.

  4. This one hit home! We are similar distance to this couple from FI. 9 months ago I took a higher paying job to get us to FI faster and it didn’t work out. If i am honest with myself I 100% went for the money knowing it wasn’t the right fit. I do regret it. One thing I noticed (and this may be applicable to me only) is that with an unhappy job comes emotional spending to plug the holes of unhappiness left by my new employer. I would get the better wine, the nicer meals in order to boost my sense of happiness. However, after attending Chautauqua in the UK this year, I have since left that job I hated and those expenditures have since melted away. I am much happier pursuing my own side business even thought it will extend our journey to FI by unknown. To each their own but the ripple effect of being pissed off and tense for 40-50 hours a week had a massive effect on everything in my life, not just my wallet. Best of luck!!!

    1. So good to hear from you, Patrick! Are you in Poland yet? Hope to meet your gf some day so we can geek out about Waterloo :P.

      What you said about “an unhappy job comes emotional spending to plug the holes of unhappiness” matches exactly what Cormac said above. Definitely something to think about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

      I’m so happy that you are enjoying your side business! Is it the one we talked about at Chautauqua?

  5. I’m glad you factored in the health component. It’s so important and not discussed that much with FI. Everyone is different with what they need to feel their best. Some people can plug away long days getting by on very little sleep for big paychecks. I like my 8+ hours a night of sleep and do better with a more flexible job. You have to know yourself. With their financial situation being so good, if it was me I would absolutely keep the lower paying, flexible job.

    1. After having seen my coworker almost collapse and die at his desk, I realized health is the most important thing. And you’re right that some people are better at powering through it than others. But generally, it’s easier to sustain the path FI if you actually enjoy the journey rather than hate your life. So true.

      1. re: “it’s easier to sustain the path FI if you actually enjoy the journey rather than hate your life.”

        Exactly. Plus, we never know how much healthy time we have remaining.

        Health > Time > Money

        If you do not have a debt emergency, having a flexible job is golden. If it were me, I’d stay the course – assuming your individual FI isn’t completely off the rails. Regarding the house, since mortgage ~= rent, might as well stay where you are. Who wants to do all that packing, moving, and unpacking anyway? Not to mention all the transaction costs associated with selling real estate.

  6. Don’t do it! Don’t do ittttt!!!

    I’m currently working the high stress/ high pay job, and it’s not worth it. I’m burned out and can barely keep myself healthy. If I die tomorrow… well, at least my husband would be FI.

    I got this same advice and didn’t follow it. Of course I thought I was better than the average worker, and I wouldn’t be as stressed… you know, ego. Shocker: I was wrong! But sometimes advice isn’t enough to dissuade your heart/curiosity.

    Best of luck in your journey!

    1. ” If I die tomorrow… well, at least my husband would be FI.”

      Yikes! Time to switch to a less stressful job?

      1. Yes, definitely if our timeline was longer. I just became FI this month and we’re quitting in January to travel around the world for a year! *party bells and pom poms* So I figure I can suck it up for a few more months. I did sound a bit bleak in my comment :).

        The OP’s current job situation sounds sustainable and fulfilling – so just wanted to add my 2 cents since I’ve been on both sides.

        1. Wow, congrats on becoming FI! Where’s the first country you’re going to go to on your trip around the world?

          And yes, I can see why you’re okay with sucking it up for a few months 🙂 I was literally checking off the days on my calendar once we were close enough.

          1. Eee! (just fan girling for a second). We’re in Oregon now, so we’ll start in Mexico and make our way down to central and South America. What’s your favorite place in South America?

            Also have you read 10 Years a Nomad, by Nomadic Matt? It’s a less money oriented book, but it’s hitting all the feels about being different than what your family expects.
            Of course I loved your book too!

  7. I took a higher paying job to get to FIRE faster and I REGRET IT!

    I had a good job previously before, the wage was pretty decent, it was good and steady, the hours was beautiful, had a good work life balance where I could go do things.

    My current job, annually my gross salary is higher like at least 20k from my last job, but I’ve working after hours on the weekdays and working on the weekend right now without pay and its so not worth it… I don’t think the math works out in my favor at the end. All the extra time was suppose to go into Flex time…. which is non existent.. absolute lie!

    I hear this alot from my boss, I need you to make the deadlines, so if you got to work on the weekend, I expect you to work on the weekend *without extra pay, cause it goes into flex time that does absolutely nothing, can’t use it to take days off or for anything*.

    You would think working 65 hours a week, mean the boss would let me use all that flex time to take the days off I need for my honeymoon…. but noooo I haven’t earn enough vacation days so those days needed to be unpaid. FUCK!
    I Think I did a couple of 75 hours week before too.. FUCK!

    1. Hm…I guess from all the readers sharing their stories, one thing is clear: the extra money doesn’t come for free. Moe $$ Moe problems.

      That’s really shitty that your boss wouldn’t give you time off or your honeymoon. Time to look for a less stressful job?

  8. Not sure your age, I am middle age genX, and spending quite a bit fixing my health, with my well paying but brain melting job. If you have the option, please be in an emotionally healthy environment! Pray for me please! Everything including the rumoured early retirement packages are on hold until after federal election ?

      1. Right! Some high level announcements about transforming government with promises of more to come, looking forward to being transformed out!

  9. I speak from experience – DON’T TAKE THE HIGHER STRESS/PAY JOB! I have so much regret.

    My situation was outline in one of the Reader Case studies in Aug 2018 (Locked-In Pension Holding Me Back). I stayed in my higher paying toxic job for 2.5 years longer than I should have and I completely regret it. I’m still trying to dig my way out of all the health problems it caused me (and I’ve been out of that workplace for a year now!).

    My new work environment is so much healthier and I haven’t regretted for one second the change – even though it pays $45K per year LESS than my last job. Yes, we’re putting away smaller amounts for our FI goal but I’m finally seeing some progress in my health and that’s benefitting myself, my kids and my husband. AND I’ve spent lots of money trying to get to the root and resolve these health issues (despite living in Canada with our ‘free’ medical system).

    I’d still like to find a way to get my ‘locked-in’ pension money out before age 55 to provide us with more FI options. But I guess I can’t have it all!

    1. Yikes, sorry to hear about the health problems. Glad your new environment is healthier though. I know the extra money acts like golden handcuffs but as you said, it’s not worth it to lose your health and peace of mind. Thanks for sharing your update!

      Oh and as for the LIRA, you can get it out with what we call a “cash asset swap” in our book. That’s what we used for my LIRA.

  10. Excellent response !
    I would actually consider the high pay/stress job in order to FIRE sooner. It might be worth the gamble that the job isn’t as stressful as you might think. Also, it might be possible to develop some hacks that further reduce the stress.
    Maybe put a timeframe (such as one year) to test the stressful job. If it turns out not so stressful then stick with it. If it sucks, you can always go back.

  11. I took on one of these low stress jobs 9 years ago with the idea of using my newfound free time to prepare myself for a more lucrative job. I did a management degree on the side and applied to dozens of positions. I found out two things:
    1) It’s not easy getting interviews for even middle management positions.
    2) All things considered, these positions require far more time, effort, and stress per dollar earned.

    In the meantime I’ve embraced that I commute to work on average 5 times per month, which meant that my girlfriend and I were able to buy an affordable, spacious property outside of the city in addition to saving money, time, and stress commuting. I have a minimum of 13 days off a month, but usually more, so I can pursue things outside of work. Currently that’s puttering around our house and property, and working on my pilot’s license. I have health, dental, a good pension, and cheap travel – benefits that I’d be unlikely to get elsewhere. And I don’t dislike the work I do.

    Striving for FI is great, but a low-impact, rewarding work life while living well within your means is nice, too. What’s important to me is to always be working on an exit strategy, so that I don’t feel handcuffed to a single company.

    In the meantime, I got to do things in my twenties that the hard-working FIRE folks maybe didn’t get to enjoy: spending half a year living and working in Europe (bike tour guide in France and Switzerland, for one), vacationing in far-off places – Peru, Thailand, Australia, mountain biking in Whistler – and riding fast motorcycles and running a sports car on the racetrack.

    It isn’t my goal to keep doing what I’ve been doing forever, but if that’s how it worked out, life would still be quite nice.

    1. “I have a minimum of 13 days off a month”

      Wow, that’s incredible. And I thought European companies gave generous time off. What do you do?

      1. Flight attendant (specifically I’m a service director if we’re going to get precise), so the 13 days off do come with trade offs: weird hours, being gone days on end, being expected to be available on holidays, and you’re just a tiny number in a giant company. On the other hand, the holidays get added to my vacation – I’m currently off for a month, and that’s not my only vacation for the year. Then there’s also the fact that life improves with seniority; the seniors (and that word is apt – they’re usually around 60+ years-old) doing the ultra long haul flights can work about 9 days a month and still make their full salary.

        It’s a nice gig if you’re flexible, like dealing with people, and have something else on the side that you want to devote time and energy to.

  12. Hey InspiredAlbertan – I too live in Calgary (well Cochrane) and am always trying to meet up with like minded individuals. We are a family of 3 who reached FI last year at 32, 30, and 1. My wife has already retired early and is a stay at home mom and I just transitioned to a part time job as we glide into early retirement next year. Please reach out – we’d love to get in touch and we are having a Calgary FIRE/DFC meetup in December 🙂 I can be reached on Instagram at FIRE2Moms1Babe or on our blog Cheers!

    1. Congrats on reaching FI! Super cool that you’re having a Calgary meet up. I’ve followed you back on instagram.

    2. Hello, Modern family.

      My GF and I are also in the LGBTQ community and this was our case study. Thanks much much for everyone’s feed back and Millennial Revolution especially Kristy 🙂

  13. of course if the market has a couple of back to back -ve return yrs then those assumptions are out the window and its plan B

    the Central Bankers are starting QE4 (they use a different name..:)..). so lets all hope they conitnue to expand their balance sheets, buy assets . The Fed isnow buying 60 billion bonds per month, please dont stop Fed!!


      1. Yep. I have learned to always have multiple plans. They say not to have a Plan B, but for me all my plans lead to the same destination: FI.

        Basically, instead of all roads leading to Rome, they lead to financial freedom. You may have to change your actions, but keep the goal.

        My best advice is no credit card debt and keep cash in the bank. I started with $25 and worked my way to $5000 and beyond in a rainy day fund.

        I loved Scrooge McDuck so much that I decided to follow his advice and live frugally and invest. I even wrote a blog post on him. From Scrooge I learned to always have cash reserves for when you need to rebuild so you have startup capital separate from all your other money.

        Good luck to you on your FI journey.


  14. I’m currently in one of those high paid/high stress jobs. And despite Chautauqua, the blogs, the books, the advice… I still ‘self medicate’ with too many meals out and frosty beverages… and despite the (paid) gym, my health is getting worse.
    Golden handcuffs are NOT fun (the $$ kind, not the fun kinky kind).
    It’s very very hard to step away from the nasty high paying job, because you keep feeling that just a few more turns on the wheel, you’ll grab the gold ring. Chances are, you’ll not like who you are when you get there.

    I highly recommend NOT taking the high stress job that may affect your health, your family/friends/sigo relationships, etc. It’s a nasty hamster wheel to get on and very hard to get off.

    I’m currently trying to step off by getting a new job that comes with a 25% paycut…but with a 50% improvement in life balance…. and a better chance of not dropping dead before FI.

    Oh, and Kristy/Bryce – I just handed out a third copy of your book to a young coworker

    1. Self-medication was a huge problem in my last job too. Definitely would not recommend going down that route, no matter how much money they offer you. Hope you get the better job with less stress!

      And thanks so much for passing our book to your coworkers! Really appreciate it!

  15. From my own experience, I think it could be worth considering a short time, perhaps just 12 to 18 months in a high paying, high stress and/or long hours job to get you to FI two to three years sooner. Its like that last sprint at the end of the race, or switching the afterburners on to really boost that cash cushion.

    Being in the high stress situation for too long will most likely take its toll on your health and relationships. The real risk would be not being able to get back to where you are today.

    1. The only thing is you’d have to okay with burning bridges, because chances are if they bring you on to do a stressful, high-paying job, they’d expect you to stay there for a few years. Though, if you can just say “fuck it” and not care about the work relationships, then you’re all good.

  16. If you were jumping from a low paying job like fry cook to this high paying, high stress job, and the move was going to shorten your time to FIRE by a decade or more, I’d say go for it.

    In this situation, however, it’s not worth it.

    Even if you’d be there for only a year or two, your time to FI is so close regardless that it’s just not worth the move. Five years until FIRE while working a job you like? That’s an amazing situation to be in.

    People underestimate how stressful a high stress job can be. I don’t want to be the guy who comes here and tells everybody to check out his blog, but check out my blog. My years at banking were stained with a flood of stressful situations. Not just big events like being falsely accused of opening dummy accounts and getting in trouble in two branches for referring an employee to the anonymous tip line (and about a half dozen stories I haven’t written about yet), but also the perpetual stress of falling behind on sales and worrying about not setting off an already-volatile customer. This was impacting my physical, mental, and emotional health something fierce. With my current, stress-free job, however, I have none of that at all. For the most part, I feel great. I honest to God wouldn’t go back to my old job unless I was offered a minimum of six figures, way more than branch banking would ever pay.

    Trust me, unless the jump in pay was THAT great and your time to retirement would shorten by DECADES, it’s not worth it to take a high stress job. Not that you shouldn’t ever consider a job with a higher workload and more responsibilities, but not a “high stress” job. Trust me on this.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, ARB. Seems like most people think it’s not worth it to take the high stress job, so hopefully IA will take that to heart.

  17. While I completely agree with your recommendation, I was surprised you didn’t math that sh!t up to see how many years they could reduce their time to FI by taking a $100k job over a $60k job. If it reduces the time from 9 years to 5 years they may consider it worth it despite the extra stress.

    1. What ARB said below. Getting to FI faster doesn’t matter if they’re going to be stressed and miserable. Their health isn’t worth messing up for the extra money.

  18. The math was–believe it or not for this blog–irrelevant. The difference was going from 9 years at a job he liked to 5 years at a job he hates. People underestimate their ability to work for prolonged periods at a high stress job, but it takes its toll. See my earlier comment.

    And he also mentioned he has a side hustle that the new job would impact his ability to grow. Having a side hustle can theoretically shorten your time to FIRE and increase your spending power during FIRE way more than taking on a higher paying job (depending on certain factors, at least).

    Though the math would have been interesting to see (if always is), the health effects are at least just as important.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  19. Exceptional advice FIRECracker!

    With the current saving rate of 63%, the FI journey will be approximately 10 years (in lined with my own financial simulation).

    The most hideous fact about FI for the majority of the FI enthusiasts is that –

    The BUDGETING lifestyle will stress them at least the first 5 years into the journey.

    It is like the initial excitement of going to the gym the first time and day dreaming of being fit for the first few days – the ENTHUSIASM will taper down.

    Financial Independence is the detachment from other people money – their money can no longer enslave you.

    Financial Freedom is the freedom from money itself – money have very little or no role in the true meaning of your life.

    Your final goal is Financial Freedom and you will not find it in less than 10 years!

    1. Great analogy, TE. Yup, it is like going to the gym. It has to be sustainable and enjoyable. Very cool that you’re also at such high savings rate. Way to go!

  20. I made the decision to take that high stress corporate job about 11 months ago. Do I regret it…not really. Do I love it……not really. Has my health been impacted……most definitely. Has it brought me closer to FI……100%.

    I don’t regret taking the job for a second…but I did underestimate the health impacts. Right now I feel it has been balanced by the financial gain….but not sure for how long that will continue.

    The initial plan has changed from 5-7 years at the job to 2 years, as I know I can’t manage this level of stress for much longer. It still seems worth it, considering the financial benefits, that simply would not have been achieved in my old job. Giving up 2 years of my life to achieve FI vs 7 years, is worth it to me.

    Long and the short of it…………it’s a sacrifice (unless maybe you thrive off of stress:)). Make sure it’s worth it to you.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, JJ! Looks like there are readers arguing both sides–$$ versus health. Guess it comes down to the individual and what they are willing to sacrifice.

      1. So curious to know what this person decided. I have an update on my situation. At just over a year and a half in, I resigned as of this Monday. It was the sprint to the finish line, but we have officially FIRED and so happy to be done. So happy to be done, but also grateful that I had the opportunity to add a few more pennies to the piggy bank. Now onto bigger and better!

  21. Hi,

    I used to favor the approach of taking the stressful job. However, I am not longer advocate such approach based on my personal experience.I left the full-time employment due to the long hours of work in my last job. I feel that health is the most important element in life. No health and no talk. There is no point on the investment portfolio accumulated from the full-time employment if one loses the health due to the full-time employment.

    In totality, it depends on one’s approach and existing health condition. If one is healthy, it does not harm taking the stressful job with the aim of reaching FI in the shorter time. At the end of the days, it’s up to each individual to decipher and decide the best approach for him/her.

    My two cents worth of views.


  22. Their current situation sounds pretty ideal. If it were me, I would not take a higher paying job. In fact, I’ve already downshifted while on my path the FI so that I can focus on things that are important to me and health! Keep up the good work!

  23. I echo everyone else’s comments – don’t take the higher paying and more stressful job! You are lucky to have a job that pays decently, is pretty relaxing, that you can do indefinitely without hurting your health or other parts of your life, and that you can do while you also grow your online business.

    As Firecracker said – mo’ $$$, mo’ problems. I find that most jobs that are similar to your job, but that offer more money make you EARN it! It’s definitely not free money. Usually the price is one of the following: crappy boss/co-workers/work environment, not much upward mobility, quicker salary cap, longer hours, higher and more unrealistic demands, etc.

    Time and health are priceless. I don’t think you should sacrifice either of those for a better paying job, especially if you don’t need to.

  24. Millennial-Revolution is literally the BEST work from home community anywhere, I read it everyday, and I’m also so greatful I found, it helped me not only start my business but gave me the push and the motivation to just get started, hope it helps some others!

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