Would You Be Miserable for $120,000?

I was watching a news story not too long again in Taipei and they were reporting on one of the most famous restaurants in all of Taipei, Ding Tai Fung. The food is truly amazing and it’s always one of the first things I want to eat when I arrive. There’s always a wait no matter what day of the week. Besides Taipei, there are locations all over the world.

Back to my story. They were reporting on the salary of the employees there. The dishwashers made about $1,000 US per month (I know it’s not much but stay with me). In the video it was mostly older ladies doing the washing. Seriously. My fiancé’s mom was watching and said she would totally do that. She would go wash dishes there cause the money was good plus they got six days off a month.

It got me thinking. If she’s saying this then there has to be many more people out there thinking the same thing. The money is good so I’ll wash dishes. Forget the duty that is involved. It’s easy and pay is good.

<Sidenote: Now the cost of living in Taipei is much cheaper. Minimum wage starts at about $3 an hour. So you can see that $1,000 US can be considered a lot. However don’t think Taipei is a poor city. It’s a bustling metropolitan city.>

Let’s make the salary something relatable. If someone paid you to wash dishes and paid you $50,000 a year, hypothetically of course, before taxes would you take it?

You’d have to work 6 days a week. It can’t be the weekends cause that’s when it’s the busiest. When friends are out playing, you’re working. The days you work would be from 10am till 10pm. After work, you’re exhausted. You don’t get holidays off because holidays are when the restaurant is most busy. Christmas dinner with the family? Sorry. You’re not doing this just for a month, or a year. You do this for five years or ten years with no promotion. But hey the money is unbelievable!

I’m not talking about getting your foot into a 5 star restaurant and you have to wash dishes to move your way up, if that’s what you want. I’m talking about that’s your job. You wash. They pay. Thank you very much.

Don’t forget what washing dishes is like. If you’re never done it before, it’s a great way to go on a diet. After seeing all the food that is wasted, scraping it off, and unclogging sinks and drains full of food, you won’t feel like eating. Not to mention you’re standing near a hot dishwasher all day.

Sound appealing? According to my fiance’s mom she would. Maybe she didn’t think about it that way.

Photo by Striatic

As for me, I wouldn’t do it for $120,000 a year. Screw that. I’ve washed dishes a few times before and it’s miserable. I don’t even like washing dishes at home. Sure that’s a lot of money. I could pay my bills and have money to spend but where is the time when I get to spend that money? When do I get to take a vacation? How can I be proud to be a dishwasher?

I understand there’s no dishwashing job that’s going to be pay anywhere near $10,000 a month. The point is the dishwashing job could be any job you despise. It could be a past job. It could be your current job. Long hours. Meaningless. Boring. Unfulfilling. Fill in the blank. “I would not (horrible job) for $120,000.”

Money isn’t worth the agony and depression. If you’ve never been in that situation then it’s hard to describe how it feels at the thought of just going to work. Sadly it can get to the point where the thought of death sounds much better.

Some people have to take the dishwashing job for minimum wage. It’s all they got. The world needs dishwashers. The world needs garbage collectors. The world needs people stand on the side of the road dancing and holding an advertisement.

However if you’re reading this, then I know that does not have to be you. You’re here because you know you’re capable of much more than that. You have the opportunity to do more. Don’t be the one that does something for money.

Your well being and happiness is worth much more than a paycheck. Don’t be the one that takes the money while feeling like you’re stuck in prison.

Were you in a situation where you walked away from a higher salary cause you hated your job?

Are you in a job now that you wouldn’t stay on even if you were paid more?

Or is sacrificing your well being worth it for a bigger paycheck in certain situations?

If you found this thought provoking or interesting, share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Main photo by _J_D_R

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33 responses to Would You Be Miserable for $120,000?

  1. Benny,

    Interesting story and one that I wish bschool students would read. When graduated from bschool I had been searching for a job for about 6 months and I finally got an offer. By the end of the first week they told me “yeah, you’re going to need to start making cold calls next week.” Needless to say the whole reason I went to bschool was to get out of sales. I walked away from that job after 2 weeks. The result is everything you read about and see today. I took a pay cut, and I worked less hours than was ideal. But I don’t regret leaving it for a moment.

    • Oh man. Just the words “cold calls” gives me chills. Reminds me of a marketing job I applied for a long time ago. The first day of training they took me out going door-to-door selling people on phone and cable plans. Worst day ever. It wasn’t for me. I couldn’t wait for that day to end. However I apparently was still liked and was told if I did well I could have my own team of field reps and be in the office instead. The money would be nice. Hmmmm..no. I couldn’t put myself through that just for the money.

      I wonder how many of those who graduated with you at bschool took the money and aren’t happy. How many now are making six figures but wish they could be working remotely in Costa Rica and surfing in their free time like you are now. Thank you for sharing! I always look forward to reading whatever you write on your blog.

  2. Benny, I feel like you just wrote a post about my life. Only it wasn’t my job that was miserable, it was my husband’s. And it wasn’t dishwashing, it was customer service (not sales) at a high-end car dealership.

    Long story short, he was away from home 11 hours per day. When he *was* home, he was either incoherently exhausted or sleeping. At work, he got maybe 2% encouragement from his superiors and 98% criticism. He was promised an assistant and never got one. His customers mostly considered him hired help and treated him as such. At home, we might have meaningful conversation once a month.

    He stuck with the job for almost three years. But last summer, enough was enough. He quit. Without having another job to go to. And I felt only relief.

    He now he a job he enjoys on a daily basis. The result of all this has been that we’ve taken a 40% pay cut compared with what he earned at the car dealership.

    No, that wasn’t a typo. Forty percent pay cut.

    And it has been worth it. A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in over three years, my husband made the statement, “I’m happy.”

    I wouldn’t trade that for anything. : )

    • I don’t know your husband, obviously, but I feel happy for him! I’m glad he didn’t try to stick it out with promises of promotion and more money! Surely he would have been miserable still. That sounds like a horrible place he had to work! Three years must have felt like thirty years with the way he was treated there.

      I’m not surprised he’s happier. Reminds me of a great book I read called “How Starbucks Saved My Life”. He was a successful ad executive. Making money and spending it on material stuff. However not spending time with his children cause of work, even flying for last minute business on Christmas Day. He got laid off later in life and later found a job at Starbucks making much less but found it more enjoyable AND had so much more free time to enjoy life. He loved it more than being a big ad exec.

      Thanks for you sharing! I always love to hear what you have to say. Hope your book is going well! I was reading something recently about self published authors selling a million copies of their book on the Kindle. I hope one day I’ll see your name and I’ll say, “Hey I know her!!” 🙂

  3. I’ve lived all over the world: from the U.S., to Ireland, and even Turkey and Afghanistan. There are few places in this world where opportunity DOESN’T exist…In the US, opportunity expounds just about everywhere…I’ve heard stories of even the most resolute and passionate homeless person making their way to an internet cafe to write articles every day for residual income.

    Some times we make bad choices and end up in bad situations…Success though can be found by those who, no matter what life hands them, are determined and passionate enough to succeed. If you WANT it bad enough, you really will find a way. Also…a bad, detestable, job may be a necessary stepping stone while you work on greater things. (I.e. working at McDonald’s while you work on developing your own blog/website, etc…)

    • I agree. There is always opportunity to be found if you’re working hard to look for it.

      I can understand taking a detestable job if it’s required to get your foot in the door. Like I would totally be a low level production assistant to a producer or director just to get my foot in. Sure I’d have to get their dry cleaning, walk and wash their dog, get their morning coffee or whatever crazy request they have for me.

      Someone may want to open their own upscale restaurant and they want to learn the business. The only way in is to start as a dishwasher. If their dream to be an owner and they believe being a dishwasher will get them in to learn how to run a restaurant, then I have no problem with that.

      Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  4. Hey Benny,

    Well, after you read my guest post last week you KNOW what my answer is. I think we can all take it for just so long and then the majority of us are going to say to heck with that!

    I would never wash dishes standing over a sink for 10 hours straight and I don’t care how much it pays. But at the same time I know we all have to pay our bills. We just need to prepare ourselves that there are other options. The sooner we can figure those out, the better off we will all be.

    Thanks so much for this one, really enjoyed it! And boy can I sympathize.


    • Of course I knew what your answer would be! I bet if your last boss, the “devil” offered you 10x your current pay you still wouldn’t take it. You were wishing they would let you go everyday for two months!

      I see you’re over 100 comments on your guest post. Congrats!! It might be a LONG time before he sees 100 comments on his blog. I hope when he publishes my guest post I can get a quarter of that. I’ll be happy!!

      • Keep up the great work and you definitely will beat me by a mile Benny! That I don’t doubt for a second! Will look forward to that guest post for sure.

  5. To be honest I instantly thought that, “Hey! I’d take that job.” I live in the Philippines and the conversion rates are good. 🙂 I could actually live here for $250 and I could be ok already.

    Well, hypothetically I need to wash dishes at Taipei for $1000, so I’m gonna be staying there. Thing is, I’m terribly good with being frugal SO I think I can save.

    Then, here’s the other part…

    Working smart vs. Working Hard.

    I could wash dishes for like 8-10 hours, 6 days a week for $1000, but then I could earn that through selling stuff online. It can be much easier.

    p.s. Maybe I would still do that job (if it was offered.) I’m just a simpleton. I’d do it happily and cheerfully. (but for just 6 months or less, then I’d go clubbing again. lol )

    • Hahaha..I like your thinking Marco. I’m sure anyone could do that job for six months and then take the money and do what they want. But what if you HAD to stay in that job for 5 years? You cannot leave and you do the same thing everyday. Would you still do it?

      I definitely agree with working hard vs working smart. Before I thought I was working hard cause I was doing stuff. But most of that stuff was pointless for me.

  6. I love Din Tai Fung too. There’s one just a few blocks from where I live in Los Angeles.

    And the rest of your post really resonates with me. I recently had the opportunity to shift careers and go into investment banking. This would have been an incredibly lucrative career move for me because the pay is six figures good. But I would have had to pretty much give up my social life for the bigger paycheck. Totally not worth it because I value my happiness way more than that.

    • So you live in Arcadia? I go to the one there whenever I go to Los Angeles. It gets so busy on the weekends. However, I’ll be honest. The one in Taipei tastes SO much better. I can taste a difference. Get to Taipei one day and try it there.

      You definitely sum up what I wrote about. It reminds me of something I read in the 4HWW ( i believe). A guy says he wants to work hard for many years, make lots of money, so he can go to a foreign country and teach surfing for a living. Then someone asks why doesn’t he just do that now instead.

      Yeah six figures is very tempting. I imagine if I made six figures how nice that would be. But not at the cost of sacrificing my happiness and well being. If I took over my family’s restaurant, I could make six figures or more a year. However, it’s a soul sucking job and there’s no way I want to take it over.

      Thanks as always for sharing Paul!

  7. I think it comes down to the person’s situation. To some people making $1,000 a month is pretty good. Heck, I remember a point in my life where I would have taken that job in a heart beat.

    Mariah Carey used to sweep shop for a hair dresser. Rush Limbaugh shined shoes. Walt Disney was a news paper boy. We all got to start somewhere.

    • I agree. Thanks for sharing. However my point was using dishwashing as a metaphor. It could be ANY job you’re in and not doing it out of enjoyment but doing it for the paycheck. Check out a blog called endthegrind.com. You’ll read stories of people who hated their jobs and quit or are in jobs they hate and in the process of finding a way out. I doubt any of those people would stay longer even if they got paid more money. That was my point.

  8. I might do a job I didn’t like for a short time depending on my situation. If I had a lot of debt to pay off and needed all the income, I would take it until it was paid off. However, if I don’t need the money and I can live off less, I would pass. I really don’t need that much money and having to face the misery of going to a job everyday just isn’t worth it.

    It makes me wonder how some people can do this every day. I know some lawyers who make a lot of money. But they work 10+ hours a day and even work a little on the weekends. When is there time to do anything else? It doesn’t seem like they have a life anymore. Not surprisingly, many of them hate it. I just don’t think I could do it.

    • I don’t know how laywers, Wall Street guys, you name it, work so many hours and some weekends and have no time to enjoy the money they make. I don’t want that to be me, especially when I have a family in the future.

      Thanks for commenting Steve. Enjoy your upcoming trip!

  9. I totally see your point I have a lot of friends who make a over 120k per year and they are simply miserable they work after work and on the weekends. And never have time to actually enjoy the money that they are making and still think that they need to make more.

  10. I DID do that. I will NEVER go back. Not for $120,000, not for $1,200,000. (Okay, well maybe for $1.2M, but then only so that I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of my life!)

    But in general, it is just not worth it. What will that salary do for you? So you can buy a nice car and a bigger house? What for? To fill it with crap that you don’t need? Never mind that you wouldn’t even get to enjoy it, for all the hours that are expected to be put in to earn it.

    Anyways…I could write novels about this…but I think you get my point… 🙂

    • After reading your guest post, I definitely believe you wouldn’t go back and do that. I did think lots of money would make me happy. For awhile I was okay with my job and having the money. Then the feeling started to go the other way. I wouldn’t mind lots of money coming from doing something I love but not from being in a miserable job.

      I do get your point but please feel free to make your comment longer than my actual post in the future. 🙂

  11. Benny,

    This is a classic illustration of the Money vs Passion debate – doing the thing you love or money without passion.

    You can work for bug bucks doing the things that you do NOT love, but it will only make you “empty” – stuck in the rut.

    I think most people make the mistake of getting a job because “it offers a good pay”. But 3 years down the road, they begin to feel the emptiness. Is this what I love doing? Given the chance where I don’t have to worry about the money, would I still do this job? The sad thing is, the answer is oftentime “no”.


    • You are correct. Big bucks doesn’t equal being happy when you’re in a soul sucking job and there’s no time to enjoy life.

  12. Benny,

    Ding Tai Fung is THE SHIZNITS! It’s my favorite restaurant in Taiwan hands down.

    I would do the $120,000 crap job for the first 5 years out of college, save everything and do something else. It’s worth it in the beginning to lay one’s foundation. I see too much laziness everywhere and people not willing to put in the time and then start WHINING. Forget that.

    It’s so easy to become wealth in the US. You just have to put in the effort.


    • Hahaha..we’ve got something in common then! It’s my favorite restaurant. My fiance thinks I’m crazy cause I want to eat there first thing when I go and often while I’m there. The food is amazing and the service is so good!

      Are you Taiwanese? Asian? Or just been to Taipei before?

  13. $50.000 a year washing dishes is good deal. I can hire people to do my internet business (they work with computer) while the boss which is my self work with dishes. LOL

  14. Hey Benny!I love how this post points to something really important – money isn’t everything. Of course we know it is essential, but I left a $60,000 salary to make $700 a month here in Costa Rica(keep in mind that I thought it was cheap to live here, but totally not. A problem for locals who live in a tourist town) Anyway, it was such a relief to be able to come here and try something new and exciting. I am glad we were introduced and look forward to reading more!

    • Hi Julia! Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Yes I’m looking forward to getting to know you more. Would love to hear your back story about what you did before CR and why you left a $60K salary. It sounds like you’re enjoying your time in CR very much! Look forward to reading more on your blog. Of course let me know if you have any questions about blogging and I’d be more than happy to help. 🙂

      • Thanks so much! Costa Rica has it’s ups and downs, but then again, so does everywhere right? My back story is really simple, I was given an opportunity to come here and couldn’t say no. I posted something about the whole story if you’d like to take a look http://juliatarquinio.com/its-ok-brag-when-someone-tells-that-suck/

        • I went to your post and read it. Great story Julia! It does sound like it’s a lot of work but you’re doing work that will mean something to these kids! Great to connect with you and look forward to talk with you more.

  15. i guess it’s coincidence that my salary is exactly $120,000 doing a job that’s not stressful and actually pretty fun but I’ve felt miserable for the past few months to the point of depression for the first time in my life. reading your blogs have given me a wake up call in life even in the way that my therapist (yeaah I’ve resorted to seeking professional help) is not able to turn around for me. keep posting, you’re changing and saving lives!

    • What is it that you do? Money doesn’t buy happiness for sure. No amount of money can make life feel more exciting. I’m betting that your job doesn’t excite you. You’re not passionate about it. You have enough money, but you’d rather take less pay, but do a job that you’re happy about.

  16. If you just think about the money of course anyone would quit just to get free time and do the stuff they really want to do, but lets not forget about the bills… Most of the people work long hours shifts and are in miserable jobs just because the need the money to pay rent, feed their kids or even worse, just to eat. So, it is not all about quitting a job just because you don’t have time to spend the money or to have more time/fun with your friends/family. Just my opinion.