(Closed) Income Vs. Happiness….need some advice/support

posted 4 years ago in Career
Post # 2
4238 posts
Honey bee


How do you feel about having a SAH?


Post # 3
766 posts
Busy bee

justbeeingme2015:  That is a tough one.  In general, if you can pay the bills and meet your goals, I think it’s better to be happy (or at least not totally unhappy) in your job.  The only thing I’d be more worried about is not getting experience with the degree and then getting into a job of a very physical nature.  What if he can no longer do that job because he gets injured or just can’t meet the physical demands of the job?  He would likely have a much harder time getting back into his degree field, as you noted.  Is there any way he can do part-time work in his field and part-time work at the physical job?

Post # 5
116 posts
Blushing bee

If it helps, my boyfriend graduated a year ago and worked as a delivery driver for about 9 months before we moved together for my job, and he found a job within 3 weeks that he loves. It’s totally outside of his degree and is entry level, but there’s a ton of growth potential and it’s perfect for him. He was really worried about the fact that he didn’t have a “real” job for a year after graduating, but it worked out just fine once he put his mind to it. The interviews he went to accepted the explanation of “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career, so I took some time to figure it out but was also working during that gap”. 

I would encourage him to research other things that he may be able to do with his degree that aren’t just sitting at a desk if that’s a possibility. He does need to be practical income-wise…what WOULD you do as a couple if you were no longer able to work? But right out of school, I’ve found it’s not imperative that he goes straight into his field. A lot of people feel the need to explore during this time because they’re scared of being stuck in a career they may not like. I suggest supporting him in this venture for now but also having open conversations about the financial situation were he to continue in this position long-term.

Post # 7
1320 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

justbeeingme2015:  If I were to put myself and my Darling Husband in your shoes: Darling Husband is the one bringing in all the income and I’m the one searching for a job post-graduation (also in the business-related field and holy jeez I’m dreading having to sit behind a desk all day). DH’s job pays all of our bills and still allows us to put a small bit into savings each month. No, we won’t be able to buy a house on his salary alone, but we have no debt and are not strugglying financially in any way, so we’re extremely fortunate. If a job came up for me that didn’t pay extremely well but I was super happy doing it, Darling Husband would tell me to take that job in a heartbeat and work that job as long as I wanted. Even if your SO wasn’t working this new job, you’d still have to deal with splitting the household chores more evenly, and maybe this is a good transition opportunity!

Post # 8
9544 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

justbeeingme2015:  This is hard. I have no issues with you being hte primary bread-winner and I think that once you react middle class, more money doesn’t really mean more happiness. I listened to a podcast years ago about happiness levels related to income and those in poverty clearly take a happiness hit because they’re constantly worried about making ends meet. But once you can live mostly comfortably, you stop seeing the increase of happiness associated with an increase in income. 

That being said, if he had been working in his field for a couple years and lost his job and found this great new option, I’d say let him try the new job. But I would worry that if he doesn’t get some experience now, it’ll be hard to get back into his degree field if he gets tired of his current job or is no longer able to do it. Both my father and a good friend have had jobs exactly like what you’re describing. They both loved those jobs and being outside everyday. But it’s hard work. Over the years their bodies wore down some and the aches and pains after work became more and more of an issue. Then they both got injured (both knee injuries) that took them out of working for a good chunk of time. In both cases, they got workers comp through the injury but were fired pretty quickly upon returning to work because they couldn’t work as well and were at risk for re-injury. Not saying that would happen with your husband (he sounds much younger than my dad and neighbor when they went through this) but it’s something to think about. What would he do if/when he’s done with this job? 

Ultimately, I’d probably try to help him find a job that uses his degree that he’d actually like. He may need to open him mind a little more to make that happen. And it may take longer for him to find a position, if he’s being more selective, but I’d bet there’s something out there he’d like. He must have picked that major for a reason. Basically, I’d be supportive but try to get him to think about the long-term plan. 

Post # 9
4249 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I currently make more than my fiance, however his earning potential as an accountant is MUCH higher than mine as a teacher.  We both know he will be the one bringing home the bacon so to speak.  He is working temp jobs right now, but that’s because he just graduated in May.  He’s 28, and the reason for graduating so late was that he went to school for 2 years prior to joining the military for 6 years.  THEN he went back to school to earn a different degree.

We are both fine with the fact that he will earn more than me.  I am career-minded however with my career choice I know I won’t ever earn as much as him, which he is fine with.  We are combining finances 100% once married, so it’s not going to be a matter of “my” money or “his” money either.

I don’t think he will have any issue finding a job in his field.  Even if he doesn’t, if he loves doing manual labor and wants to do this for a while that isn’t such a big deal.  Would you be ok with that?  It sounds like there is possibility for upward mobility in the company in terms of pay.  Plus it’s not like he’s sitting at home not doing anything…  I know you were looking forward to two salaries, but if he’s really happy doing what he’s doing now, I would say he should work there for a bit.  I’ve worked summer jobs behind a desk and I have to say, it IS exhausting.  That’s a big reason why I chose teaching — I knew I wanted a job where I wasn’t behind a desk all day.

There is a lot to say for happiness in a job as long as all the bills are getting paid and you don’t *need* the extra salary.

Post # 10
1527 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2016

My Fiance made the same mistake. He got a degree in computer science but realized he would hate working behind a desk. He is a very active person and likes working with his hands. He got the degree when he was young and was planning on waiting a few years before finding a “career” job but in the meantime he figured out that he’d rather do anything, even hard labor (he’s nuts). A few years ago he got a job in the plumbing industry and he LOVES it. He makes very good money and his income alone puts us in the middle class. For me it is more important to have him not be miserable than to have the extra income. He is doing well now but there were years of low pay hourly jobs before this one. 

I’d just support his decision and help him find something that pays a little better or wait for raises at his current job.

Post # 11
4238 posts
Honey bee


Interesting. And trust me, we’ve been there. We’ve both done the work/school/church/home, both FT or PT, where we shared the chores, or rotated chore lists, or picked up the slack, or ate PBJs for days on end, and so on and so forth.

But we’ve never divvied up the chores based on income earned.

Our chore lists were always divided by available time/energy/ability. And no fair mucking up the dishes or the whites just so that the other thinks you suck at doing that particular chore. No backsies. If it’s your week, it’s your week.

So, yeah, it’s an interesting discussion to explore your philosophies on having a SAH, or how to contribute to the household, or what constitutes as fair/equal contributions, or what to think about the inevitable seasons of life when there’s nothing fair about anything.


Post # 13
1338 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

justbeeingme2015:  There is a huge difference between what Darling Husband and I make and it does not cause problems.  However, this is partly because the hours worked is in line with this.

My husband works A LOT, 70-80 hours a week.  And he brings home the bacon.  I work 30 hours a week, and I bring home…let’s say the bologna.  DH has nothing left in him for really any housework at all.  I understand and acceot that.  I do literally everything.  But that works fine because in the end the division of labor and household contribution is pretty equal.  I do all the housework because I have the time to do it and it raises my contribution to our household/life.  

In your situation it would be different with your husbands manual job.  He will be very tired and might struggle to contribute to household duties while also not contributing as much financially. At the same time you are working full time, bringing home most of the bacon AND potentially the lions share of household work.  THAT is where I see there possibly being a problem in day to day life.

Problems may also arise out of fear, uncertainty and disappointment about his manual labor job.  As PP already noted, this type of work breaks a body down prematurely.  An injury could devastate his ability to earn.  And like you already fear, how is this going to affect his prospects if & when he does decide to enter the field he planned on and paid for.  Is this going to tarnish his profile?  

I don’t know how long he’s been doing the landscaping but it’s possible the romance won’t last long anyway and by the end of summer he will have gotten it out of his system.  I think for now I would ask him if he can just enjoy this for the summer and let’s readdress things in the fall.  And at that time I would encourage him to seek work in his degree field.  He can always change paths in the future if he’s miserable.  Better to give it a go now first, use the degree he has worked for and paid for and enter the job market when he’s hot so to speak.   


Post # 14
553 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

Landscaping jobs are a dime a dozen. Gently encourage him to pursue a job in his field of study and at least get some sort of work experience under his belt. Make a compromise that after a year, he’s free to pursue landscaping again if the business thing isn’t really for him. Maybe landscaping is his true passion and he’ll want to start his own company, there’s definitely room for financial success with that. 

Post # 15
179 posts
Blushing bee

justbeeingme2015:  Not to brush off the worries you’re feeling right now, but IMO this is a non-issue.

If he enjoys being a jack of all trades, why couldn’t he use his business degree skill set to start his own business eventually?

I used to have a handyman who was rather well off. I’m serious. He was really good at what he did, and built a good client base in an upper middle class area of town. Eventually he couldn’t handle all the workload himself, so he built up a pool of handymen who he contracted out. He was rolling in dough. 

Your hubby could totally do that and then the income would be a non-issue.

One of my ex-boyfriends had a landscaper who had two guys helping him, and he pulled in $100k per year. He had a truck with all of his equipment on it and he was his own boss.

Think outside of the box and encourage your hubby to do what he loves. 


Hope my advice helps in some small way, good luck!

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