Is Hating Your Job Costing You Money?

Let’s face it — not all of us are at our dream jobs. If you have landed your ideal gig by now, chances are it took some hustling to get there. Every young, working professional will at some point have a job that flat-out sucks. Though the psychological effects of being unhappy at work go without saying, this career funk could also have a negative impact on your finances.

When you’re passed up for that promotion, jerked around by a client, or thrown under the bus by a coworker, it’s tempting to let those frustrations influence your spending habits. Whether it’s buying a few rounds at happy hour or booking a last-minute getaway — there are ways you could be spending the stress away without ever realizing it. To put it all into perspective, we spoke to a few career and money experts about how working at a job you hate could be costing you big bucks — and how to stop it.
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A study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University found that sadness not only spurs spending; unhappy people are also willing to pay higher prices for everyday items. Unfortunately, those splurges are only a temporary band-aid and won’t get to the root of your misery.

James Dion, industrial psychologist and president/founder of retail consultancy Dionco, says frivolous spending is often used as a way to replenish "happy levels" that get depleted at work. “There’s a sense of entitlement. ‘I’m supposed to feel good. Therefore, I should be able to have this [item] as a pleasure.’ It’s a rationalization that human beings have when they’re in less-than-ideal situations.”

In order to curb the need to spend, Dion suggests more impactful, less expensive ways to boost your mood and blow off steam. “Leaving your desk two to four times every day, for a 10- to 15-minute walk to clear your head, is a great idea.” He also suggests walking to work instead of driving or taking the bus, to give yourself a much-needed dose of endorphins.
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Maybe you try not to let your misery show at the office, but you're a total Negative Nelly nonetheless, and everyone can see it (including your boss). Even if you’re a rock star at what you do, a sour attitude will affect your bonus — if you get one at all.

A toxic work environment can seem impossible to survive in at times, but Dion says the key is to stay in control of your emotions. “No employer can go inside your head and flip a switch that’s going to make you bored, not bored, happy, unhappy, angry, or not angry. You make choices on how you’re going to perceive the day. Given lemons, how do you make lemonade? That is a life skill that everyone needs to have.”
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A glass of wine with friends once a week could quickly turn into three to four times per week if after-work socializing becomes your way of coping with a toxic job. You could find yourself indulging in that $15 cocktail one day — and crying over your bank statement the next.

Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche, financial educator and author of The One Week Budget, says the way to remove the guilt from indulgences at the bar or a boozy brunch is to plan ahead. “Anticipate that you’ll want to spend money and provide a way for yourself to do that. Transfer $100/month into an online-only savings account so that when you go out, the money is there. You don’t have to pull from your budget or use your credit card and get into more debt.”

And, while it’s fine to spend a few coins at your local watering hole, dependency on alcohol to take the edge off could lead to bigger problems.
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Some people try to stick it out with unfulfilling jobs/career paths because they’re not visualizing future earning goals. Sure, your current gig is paying the bills for now, and things might get better once you get that long-overdue promotion you’ve been promised. But, what if you don’t? Instead of hopping from job to job in hopes of better wages, it’s much more lucrative to be honest about what you want from your career — and to take control of your future.

The Budgetnista, who was once a preschool teacher, says she worked on her bestselling book while her students took naps. She says tapping into her true passion opened doors financially: “Figure out whether it’s the job you’re doing or the company you’re doing it for that’s causing the unhappiness,” she advises. “As the Budgetnista, I’m still teaching. But, I’m doing it for my own company, under my own rules.”
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Most companies only allot a certain amount of paid time off that you accrue over time. Once you run out, you’ll be losing money each day you spend out of the office.

If you’re planning an upcoming vacation to escape your boss-from-hell, be sure you scour the web for the best deal. “People make more rushed and hurried choices when they’re unhappy,” says Aliche. “When people are stressed out, they’re not thinking about doing the research; they’re thinking of booking the vacation.”

If you're calling in sick on the regular, or you're quick to max out your vacation just so you don't have to deal with your job, it's time to seriously consider a new gig. We all need a vacation from time to time, but maybe it's better to spend your time updating your LinkedIn profile than buying a plane ticket to paradise.
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