Working For Money vs. Passion

I sometimes go back and forth between what to do in life: work for the money, or work cuz I’m passionate about it. When times are good, I choose “the passion.” Like, this blog for example :) When times are bad – like, the past few months here, financially-speaking – I ask myself if it’s worth continuing full force on passion projects, or if it’s better/smarter/more “adult-like” to chase the money? After all, I now have a family with baby to take care of.

I had a dream last night that I bit the bullet and took a job working for a friend’s dad’s company in Pittsburgh. I was pretty resigned to the fact I had to take it, especially when I found out midway through that it was just “a favor” ‘cuz I knew the guy’s son, but I was also relieved to have steady income and insurance so I said yes.

I show up on my first day 2 hours late (because in dreams your cell phones and cars never seem to work right, why is that??) and they give me my first assignment: design and print off a brochure for their company, and then promote it on social media. As if anyone wanted to see that online, haha…

So I get to working on it, and a little while later I hand it over to my boss and I’m pretty damn pleased with myself for turning it around so quickly, and so beautifully (I went to college for graphic design in the real world). He takes one look at it, and then sighs…

“Okay, you really have no idea what you’re doing, do you? Is this for kids? Do you even know how to tweet? I’m sorry, but this is clearly not working out. I think it’s best if you take the day off”

What??? Am I getting fired on my FIRST day at the job?? This can’t be happening… I must be dreaming! (I literally thought that IN my dream, haha…). I go in the basement to pick up my belongings since I guess they didn’t want anyone seeing I worked there, and then start wondering what the hell I’m going to tell my wife now. I’ve never been fired before for being *sucky*?? What the frick is going on here???

And then a funny thing happens in my head. I get happy!! I’m like – waaaaaait a second? I have an AWESOME community online!! Full of much more appreciative people who believe in me, and we’re doing big things there! Why the hell did I even take this job?? I’m gonna get back out there and keep hustling. I can do this! I don’t want your crap ass brochure job…. Who freakin’ designs for print, only to turn around and then use it for the WEB??? ;)

I then shot up from bed – as always happens with nightmares – and think to myself: YES! DO IT!! No more job searching/thinking – this is just a phase. Rockstar Finance is going to hit a million views soon so keep going strong! (Rockstar Finance is NOT going to hit a million views soon, fyi, but I guess I was still halfway dreaming ;))

I then think about all the other jobs I’ve taken “just for the money:”

  • Selling ringtones when that was all the rage. To kids who probably shouldn’t even have them
  • Selling timeshares of camp sites. To people who probably shouldn’t be buying those either
  • Cleaning up smashed cars that will only be sold in auction soon and then tore up into more parts (that was actually a fun job though – blaring music and getting wet under the hot summer sun!)
  • Washing dishes at a restaurant – another fun job for the same reasons as above, but obviously still for the money.

All jobs I was more than happy to have at the time – and none ever beneath me (taking a note from Ashton Kutcher there) – but still all very much just for the money. I could care less outside of that.

I think the reality of our world is that sometimes we have to do $hit we don’t want to do, and other times we’re fortunate to land something we DO. And in between we have to work as hard as we can regardless of the jobs we hold so we can use all that money to better propel our goals and our lives in the future. Sometimes it’ll be more, and other times less, but as long as we’re constantly *bringing it in* life will generally be okay. Many others have it way worse than us in actuality, and sometimes it’s good to take a step back and understand that.

Blonde and Balanced had a great post about this a while back on how a job is just a job to her. Nothing more, nothing less. She gets her money, and then goes about enjoying her life outside of those 9-5 hours. And I’m beginning to understand that more as time goes by as well. Sure, right now I’m thrilled about doing my thing online, but there’s nothing saying I won’t be doing something purely sucky down the road for whatever reason. And blogging for a living ain’t all peaches and cream either, btw – there’s a lot more to it than people usually think ;)

So I guess that’s the point of all this today. If you’re lucky enough to be working on something you’re passionate about – Congrats! That’s awesome! And if you’re on the other end shoveling $hit to bring home that bacon, that’s *fine* too. You’ll probably move to greener grasses in the future if you keep hustling hard, but either way you’re BRINGING HOME MONEY which you need to survive and accomplish your goals. At the end of the day that’s a pretty important fact.

We’ll see how much longer my streak of not working a “real” job continues on for (it’ll be three years come December!), but regardless I’m incredibly thankful for what I have going on *right here and now.* If I have to take another crap job in Pittsburgh one day, so be it ;)

How many of you are doing our dream job right now? And how many of you care?

PS: I have nothing against Pittsburgh btw, except for maybe the Steelers ;) The one and only time I’ve driven through it I was amazed at how cool it all looked! Bridges and waters and hills – reminded me kinda of Seattle. There’s also some pretty cool people there too, so I definitely have to visit one day.

[Photo cred: Hannaford]

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  1. Brian @ Free Money Minute October 9, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    This post nailed the difference between working for yourself and for someone else. You think you did well and someone’s opinion made your day terrible because they didn’t appreciate your work. Anyway, I would much rather make less and do something I love and work for myself that to make more and hate what I do.

    By the way, did you ever release a post that outlined how well you are doing blogging? You have talked about maybe going back into the “regular” workforce, but I am not clear why. I am assuming you are not making as much as you would like in your online ventures?

    For what it is worth, I have been to Pittsburgh and love it. It is a big city with a smallish city atmosphere. Catch a Pirates game… is beautiful to watch a game right on the river.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      Yup, you guessed it – just lower than normal revenue stream across the board of my online projects, as well as me being about to offload some of them to re-focus again (a post that I’ll be writing up in the near future, actually). Normally I have down months and then a ton of up months, but lately it seems to be more of a permanent sea change, so I’ve been really concentrating on some changes and tweaks to stay in the game… And it seems it’s now filtering into my dreams too :)

  2. Lance @ Money Life and More October 9, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    I have an awesome job right now, but I don’t know that I’d call it my “dream job”. There are a lot of different things to consider with jobs and, all things considered, I’m very happy to be where I’m at right now.

    As far as your hustling, if something isn’t working, try something new! FinCon should inspire you plenty I’d imagine :)

  3. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel October 9, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Being a bank teller definitely isn’t my passion, but it’s better than being unemployed. It’s been good for my blog though :) All that extra time just sitting around waiting for a customer to come in…

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      Ooooooh I didn’t know tellers had access to the internet while at work?? That totally bumps up that position from my list of jobs to try one day! Beautiful!

      1. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel October 10, 2013 at 12:05 AM

        Haha VERY limited internet access. Your site is actually one of the few I can visit, somehow. They blocked my blog after a few weeks because I was probably on it too much…haha

        1. J. Money October 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM

          Wow, well that’s something! Usually I’m blocked at fine establishments like that ;)

  4. Holly@ClubThrifty October 9, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    I am working on a post on a similar topic, namely that I don’t have a passion.

    I work for money so that I can fund my passions.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:14 PM


  5. The Warrior October 9, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    My “job” is a job right now and simply the source of income that pays the bills while I’m HUSTLIN’.

    The hustling is tough, but it’s going in the right direction. I have a long, long consistent way to go. So whether I’m typing a blog post at midnight or I’m up 4 hours later editing that blog post, I have aligned my focus on the job being the source fund to my passion until my passion can pay for itself.

    The Warrior

  6. Paula / Afford Anything October 9, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    I have an interesting theory about this … I think that if you show up everyday and do the work, passion will develop. Passion is the result of work, not the precursor to it. (Caveat: I believe that’s true for knowledge work. It’s not necessarily true for physical or mindless work). I wrote a post about this a few months ago (but I won’t link to it here, because that’s spammy).

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Awww, you should have! Because I’m not sure I follow/believe you yet, haha… I can’t say I’ve developed a passion for work that I don’t enjoy doing from the onset.

  7. Brian October 9, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I don’t consider my current day job my dream job, but it pays the bills, and provides security for my family. I continue to give me best effort. Any job can be used as a vehicle to something new or better, weather you are making money, contacts, experience etc.

  8. Dollar Flipper @ Flipping A Dollar October 9, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Great stuff as usual.

    I try to use people like you as a beacon in this terrible office world I dwell in. If I can keep growing my eBay flipping business, it will take less stress off of my work life.

    Who knows, maybe my blog can go somewhere too or lead to some new/better opportunity that doesn’t keep me stuck in a cubicle?

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      Hell yeah! I’ve made new best friends from blogging, new business ventures off it, travels all around the country because of it, and so on and so forth… It’s amazing what opportunities can come from stuff you’re really enjoying and pouring your heart into. Many times more than just the money :)

      Also? BRILLIANT idea for a blog you’ve got going on there – just checked it out! And funny your last post is on coffee mugs as I just read a post on the top 5 things that sell well on eBay and mugs were at #1! Here’s the article if you want to check it out:

  9. John S @ Frugal Rules October 9, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    Good post J$! I’ve never had a job that I was passionate about and mainly just worked for the money. Now that I am working for myself, which has been a passion of mine for years it’s crazy to see how much more I enjoy my work even though the work itself may not be a passion…if that makes any sense. ;) My hope is to work to bring in the money and find a passion along the way.

  10. Romona @Monasez October 9, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    I guess I think differently. I don’t people should just work for money. I think that they should do what makes them happy. Right now I’m at a job that makes me miserable and I can’t imagine me spending the rest of my life doing something I hate. I think ppl should go for what they want , hustle, and don’t take no for an answer. Sometimes when your stuck in a job you hate you become miserable and complacent and then you lose hope n never follow that which you are passionate about.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      Sooo.. you’re saying everyone should go get a job that makes them happy, but YOU’RE not following your own advice? Haha…

  11. Savvy Financial Latina October 9, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I miss working because I’m passionate about the work I do. I had a different attitude to tackling projects. But I’m making the best of it. I have to work to earn money, so hopefully one day I can purse my passions full time. In the meantime, I try to save some energy by the end of the day to focus on some online projects. So far, I have been able to do one, but I have two more I really want to launch. It really is all about energy though. Work seems to suck it out of me by the end of the day!!!

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:27 PM

      Something else I don’t miss that much ;)

  12. Cat @ Budget Blonde October 9, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    I only have a few weeks left of work at my day job. I’ve been building my blog and freelancing writing business for 2 years while living on this island and I’m ready to go full time, full speed ahead. Every day I think, wow, in just a few weeks I might never sit at a desk in an office ever again. I mean, who knows where my path will take me, but I’ve learned I love working by myself and I’m more productive that way. So, hopefully everything continues to rock and roll, since passions are way more fun to pursue than boring 9-5’s ;)

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Awesome!! You’re going to love it and be SO GOOD at it too! These are the best types of changes because you’ve *already* been doing what you’re gonna jump into full-time and proven you can be successful in it, so you already overcome the fear of failing and being good :) And now you’ll just rock it even harder! (Though fair warning – it somehow SEEMS like you have a ton more time to do stuff with, but in reality you don’t… I’m not sure how that happens, but it does :))

  13. Mike Collins October 9, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Not long ago I was going out to lunch with a couple of coworkers and we were complaining about our jobs. Everyone was saying how we wish we were doing something more rewarding and that we were passionate about our work. As we walked to the parking lot we saw a truck and a crew of workers cleaning out the sewer line for the building. Their business is literally dealing with sh*t all day. It kind of put things in perspective…it’s doubtful any of them is truly passionate about the work they’re doing but they suck it up and do it for the money.

    I guess my point is that if you can earn a living doing something you’re passionate about you’re really lucky. If not, there’s no shame in going off to work each day and doing something that you’re not passionate about if it pays the bills. I respect people who make the sacrifice of marching off to a job they don’t like every day because they know they have a family relying on them.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      Wow, it really IS “the same $hit, different day” for them! Haha… Great great story man, always good to keep things in perspective :) And agree with respecting those who can go in and get the job done even though they hate it to provide for their family. I can only hope I’d be the same if ever presented with such a position.

  14. Tiffany October 9, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Great post, J. Call me greedy, but I want it ALL. What’s the point of working at a job you don’t enjoy? But, I also recognize that’s a luxury that I am lucky to have (that thought process). When my mom was working to support 2 kids, she didn’t necessarily think that way – she *had* to work for the money, then. I think the key is figuring out what you enjoy, seeing where that aligns with your business aspirations, and seeing where in your life you can leverage to attain both :-)

  15. EL @ MoneyWatch101 October 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    I think working for passion is great just like puppy love in the beginning. Evenutally if passionate work becomes too busy or overwhelming then it transforms into a regular job. So you have to find the balance where you enjoy what you do and learn to delegate what you dont like to do. Granted I have very little experience with passion work, but that is my feeling behind the topic.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:35 PM

      Seems about spot on :)

  16. Shannon October 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    I think that the longer you “just work” the more difficult it becomes to do it. I advise clients who are “just working for a paycheck” to save as much as they can while they are doing it so that down the road when they are absolutely over it and miserable, they can pursue their passions without it taking too much of a financial toll. When I left a high paying investment banking job to pursue my passion, I never made less money, but I have never been happier. The joys of “working” in your passion truly outweigh a paycheck any day.

  17. Miss Britt October 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    1) Yes you have to come visit.

    2) I can SO relate to this right now. I’m trying to balance saving time for doing what I am passionate about with spending time doing stuff to bring in money!

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      Hi friend!!! I shall meet you for a coffee then and we can go over all of this stuff in person :) Deal?

  18. Scott @ HomeBuyer Nation October 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Didn’t you tell me you are a Jerry Seinfeld fan? He recently did an interview with Howard Stern (it’s on youtube) that was great. In it, he had a profound comment that relates well. He said, “Your blessing in life is when you find the torture you’re comfortable with….that’s marriage, it’s kids, it’s work, it’s exercise…find the torture you’re comfortable with and you’ll do well.”

    Oddly enough, the root word of Passion means “to suffer”. So if you’re conceding that you do actually have to work, then what is the work that you’re willing to suffer on behalf of? And how can you do more of that work. This is what will motivate and encourage us to persevere. And in the end, this work will give us the greatest joy and fulfillment.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      HAH! I like it… excellent comment good sir, thank you :)

  19. a terrible husband... October 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    I’m living a partial dream, applying the skills I want to use, but not the way I want them. And I’m dong full-time what I want to be doing, but not the way I want to be doing it. Makes for an interesting dilemma.

    I want to write and do public speaking. And I also want to advocate. I’m advocating, writing and doing some public speaking. But I don’t control the topics/issues on the list yet.

    But writing the terrible husband blog and book is my way of transitioning at least some of my efforts to topics of my choosing.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      Yeah it is! And you’re doing such a killer job at it too man. I guarantee you’ll start seeing more success over the next short months/years :) Oddly enough my plan is to not do EITHER of those down the road, haha…

  20. Michelle October 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I am about to leave my day job (my last day is Thursday or Friday, depending on when I get things done), and I can’t wait. I do think that your job should be passion-related, or at least allow you to do what you want to do when you are off from work (such as travel and have a health work-life balance).

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:43 PM

      CONGRATS!!! And welcome to the club!

  21. Justin @ RootofGood October 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I have always viewed jobs as instrumentally valuable (and not intrinsically valuable). They provide money. Money lets you do the things you want to do. Some have said “Money is the root of all good” in fact.

    I applaud those that have found something that pays well while being their avocation. I’m more interested in a vacation. I never found an avocation in my working days. Just money. And I finally accumulated “enough”, and decided I was done working for it.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:44 PM

      I feel like that needs to go on a sign somewhere? Excellently put :)

  22. Meg | Foxie&Carrera October 9, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    I work to pay for my passions, nothing more, nothing less. ;) We can happily survive off my husband’s income, as long as the government keeps paying him (heh), and use what I make for extra fun. It makes having dreary jobs a bit more tolerable to me, though I’d love to find a dream job for myself! I’m not even sure what that is, though…. Haha.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:45 PM

      You don’t? I do! Pick any of your choice:

      1) A professional fancy-car test driver
      2) A professional fancy-car contest enterer
      3) Any job that pays you to touch/watch/drive fancy-cars


  23. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions October 9, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    Duuude … I am working for the money right now. *sigh* I just got laid off and am putting in some freelance litigation hours and I’m hating it. But it will help us pay the bills this month, and hopefully not put us too far behind on our debt payoff goals until I find something I’m more passionate about.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      I’m so sorry to hear – that blows :( But good for you for already FINDING something and jumping on it?? With that much hustle in your blood I don’t think you’d be unemployed (full-time) for good.

  24. Kyle | October 9, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    It’s all a journey ain’t it J$? And everyone’s journey is totally different. I had to shovel shit to make enough money for my family and worked on my passion on the side. It all worked out but it was an uphill scratch and claw. The harder I clawed the more good things happened.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Wow. So you were one of those people Mike Collins up above in the comments were talking about! From $hit to Coupons – I love it! :)

  25. Nick (@ayoungpro) October 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    I totally work exclusively for money right now. My job is super boring. To me, work is a means to an end. I want my wife to be able to stay home and raise our kids, so I need the most money possible. If I could find something I am passionate about that pays what I get paid, I would do it. I wouldn’t take less money to “follow my passion”.

  26. Amanda October 9, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Great Post! For a lot of people, they view the job as a job, but they also get stuck in it. It’s great when you see that job as a stepping stone and don’t get mired in the day to day activities. They build on their skills and are able to transfer them. Well, at least that’s how I look at it. Working towards passion!

  27. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen October 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    I luckily am working in an industry where I usually like the work. Generally…of course there are times when I don’t! Still though it was my choice to be in it and when its a good project I really love doing what I do. It’s interesting because my mindset of a job is that I should like it too. For me a job isn’t just a job. For others though they trudge through the day and don’t like their job, but it is what it is and brings in the money. Plus they might be older and can’t take the risks I can since I’m young.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      Well you’re definitely right on the ability to take more risks while you’re young, that’s for sure – I’ve never looked at it that way before. And, in fact, I think I’ll keep that in mind if I continue to stay the course online and not go get a “real” job in the near future! Haha… Better to be riskier now that later! ;)

  28. Belle October 9, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    I’ve read all of the responses with great interest. I began my job 34 yrs ago because my husband lost his & we needed health insurance. Little did I know I’d stay & make a career out of it! I have a passion to care for the sick (I’m a Home Health Nurse) but I certainly wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t justly compensated! So I began working for the money & I’ll leave working for the money, but to stay most of your life in one occupation, there had to be some passion!

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      I bet! I’m glad you’re enjoying the post and all the comments today :) Usually it’s the latter that’s the most interesting, haha… I’m just the conversation starter.

  29. October 9, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Since I’m about to self-publish a book of cliches and adages, I can’t help but relate to your excellent post about passion vs. money by putting a new spin on an old saw about love, i.e. “When you can’t be doing the work that you love . . . love the work you do!” Being the eternal optimist, I believe that when you take pride in your work, no matter how lowly you deem that work to be, you generate a positive attitude that will inspire others and raise both their esteem for you and eventually your income. What America needs is a mega-dosage of pride of workmanship. Develop a passion to be the best that you can be and the money will follow.

    Apropos of your dream about being fired, I was once a VP at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies in NYC, where I resigned a high-paying job over a matter of principle. Opening my own ad agency, I struggled financially for years afterward, to “get back to where I was.” To this day I still have dreams where I am re-hired by some major agency and have to live with that daily fear of being fired. And then I awake to realize that the agency can’t fire me–but clients can fire the agency! Moral: always do your best because, as the old Dylan song says, you “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:54 PM

      Wowww, I had no idea about all that in your past! So interesting!! I used to want to be an art director for a large NYC ad agency actually :) Way before it was super cool like on Mad Men, haha… perhaps when you were doing it it WAS like that? (hah!) One of these days we need to share a coffee or beer and chat… perhaps at one of those restaurants with all the dollar bills stapled across the walls ;)

      1. October 10, 2013 at 2:25 AM

        Yes, I was there in the early ’70’s and it was Mad Men for real. Smokers everywhere; in fact I was in charge of a major tobacco account. Would be nice to meet up at a restaurant with dollar bills on the walls; I keep hearing about more and more of them in FL. Would make an interesting video to hunt ’em down and do a nationwide tour! Maybe in my next incarnation . . . ;)

        1. J. Money October 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM

          Nice! And here all this time I thought you were just a random dollar bill lover ;)

  30. Kim@Eyesonthedollar October 9, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    I used to hate my job until I went to part time. Now it’s not so bad. Anything you do 40+ hours a week that takes you away from your family will get old I do believe. I think once we are financially independent, I’ll like it even more or I may say shove it. As long as you realize a job is just a job and doesn’t define you, I think it’s easier to take whatever gets dished out in the course of the work day.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2013 at 11:57 PM

      All I know is that I am LOVING your blog name, haha… A clever way to merge your two worlds – good job :)

  31. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life October 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    I dream of being on Broadway, but the day to day of auditioning makes me miserable. I’m even considered a successful actress, but the up and down of it all really makes me reconsider.

    I’ve taken to blogging quite a bit these last few months and enjoy it much more than going to auditions. Though I have yet to make it a significant source of income.

    Ps. I LOVE rockstar finance and have no doubt you’ll be reaching the million mark in no time.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      Aww, thx! So glad you’re liking it :) And that you’re enjoying blogging so much too! A great way to meet awesome people and have fun on top of all the writing parts :)

  32. Marissa@Financetriggers October 11, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    I can honestly say I am very happy with what I’m doing right now. I have 5 side hustles that work great for me and I extremely enjoy. But then the idea of a “dream job” that I’ve got to figure out.