For some of us, work is a means of earning money and paying the bills. For others, it's a fulfilling way to spend our days and take pride in our accomplishments.
If you happen to love your job, you can consider yourself lucky. But what happens when your job is great but your paycheck leaves much to be desired? On one hand, it would be a shame to quit over money alone. On the other hand, staying at a job that pays a low salary could affect your happiness in other ways (think never taking vacations and constantly having to stress over money).
Here's what you might do if you happen to love everything about your job except for the paycheck that comes with it.
1. Figure out whether you can make more at a different company
Chances are, the work you enjoy doing so much at your company can also be done elsewhere. So, before you resign yourself to that measly salary, do some research to see what the going rate is for your job based on where you live and work. Job site Glassdoor has a helpful "Know Your Worth" tool that allows you to access this data, so if you plug in the right details and see that you're making much less than the average person in your position, you might consider applying to another company that will let you do the same work, but at a higher earning level.
2. Ask for a raise
Perhaps the reason you aren't making more money at the job you love is that you never came out and asked for it. Though it does take guts to sit your boss down and negotiate a raise, it's worth putting yourself in that temporarily uncomfortable situation if it results in a boost in earnings, thereby allowing you to stay at the job you love. According to Jobvite, 84% of workers who ask for raises wind up getting more money. And, in about one out of every five cases, those who negotiate wind up with a sizable increase -- somewhere in the ballpark of an 11% to 20% raise.
If you're worried that asking for more money will strain your relationship with your manager or damage your reputation at work, take a step back and remind yourself that wanting a fair salary doesn't make you greedy or disloyal. And if you have the data to prove that you're underpaid, your boss will be all the more likely to understand where you're coming from.
3. Negotiate better benefits
Salary negotiations don't always go as well as we'd like. If your request for a raise is denied but you're still eager to stay at your job, you might consider going after better benefits instead -- particularly those that can save you money in other ways. For example, if you're able to fight for a better health insurance plan, you might save money on medical costs throughout the year, thereby helping to compensate for your lower earnings. The same holds true if your company agrees to let you work from home several times a week, thereby saving you money on commuting costs.
4. Consider a side hustle
Maybe your company is operating on a limited budget and has no wiggle room to do better on salary or benefits. If you still want to stay put, there's always the option to take on a side hustle to supplement your income. Working a second gig might seem unappealing if you hate your job and tend to come home drained. But if you love what you do and don't find it particularly stressful, then working a few extra hours a week in a different capacity might be more than manageable. And this way, you get the best of both worlds -- the opportunity to stay put and enjoy your work, and the income you need to live a more comfortable lifestyle.
Reconciling your feelings about a great job with a bad salary can be tricky. Before you decide whether to stay or go, explore your options for boosting your earnings, or for making your current salary work. With any luck, you'll end up doing the right thing for your career as well as your finances.