Why high total compensation doesn’t make anyone happy?

Amazon / Eng gahjsndh
Aug 24 621 Comments

i have realized that TC (total comp) doesnt matter after a certain point. i am in early 30s, married, and i stopped asking and caring about what my peers are earning. When i look back at my life, i would have never imagined to earn as much as i am doing right now in this age. But i still see alot of greediness around me. I am really happy about my TC even though i know i can earn 1.5x more by switching jobs etc.

I have barely seen a post on Blind where people say that i am happy with my TC and life. Once i stopped optimizing for TC, my perspective on life changed. I would suggest everyone, dont just try to earn money but also figure it out how to spend it - not on expensive cars and houses - but something more meaningful like donating 10% of your TC to the charity you believe in or travel across the world or may be just spend it on your new hobby. TC doesnt make any difference in your life unless you know how to use it.

I would actually love to take a job that has lower TC but gives me more timeoff (~2-3 months in an year) and enables me to create a wider and direct impact in the community.

I would love to hear more from both sides:
1. if you are earning over 200k+ - why do you need more TC? dont mention house, kids college tuition.
2. If you are really content with your life, what is it that makes you content and happy? I can be anything like good kids, happy relationship, loving spouse/partner, career opportunities. If it is higher TC, then answer #1.

YoE: 9
TC: 274
SDE3

UPDATE: i shared my further thoughts as a comment answering some of FAQs people were asking me based on original post and DMs i received.

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TOP 621 Comments
  • Microsoft / IT ThreeDots
    All this philosophical things will.come when you have a better TC
    Aug 24 3
    • Amazon / Eng gahjsndh
      OP
      Yes I agree. It took me time to realize the metric that makes me happy. And it’s not TC once I achieved the minimal.
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft / IT ThreeDots
      I agree ... I never felt poor untill I decided to buy a house. It's us and our expectations that made things look good or bad. .. but always good to have a better TC as no one else will take care of your retirement ... If u think u have surplus always u can give back to society but everything based off of your TC
      Aug 24
    • Amazon hde2
      What does better TC mean to you? What happens when you hit that ceiling?
      Aug 25
  • priceline.com / IT top_phodu
    OP is SDE3 with TC 274, new SDE3 hires easily get 340+ .. OP is pissed he is unable to get back in the game after reaching 30+ .... Hence seeking an easier way out to comfort himself...

    Answering OP's original question, I would always drive for higher TC because of Darwin's theory of natural selection...
    Aug 24 11
    • InVision oFpE07
      Hahahahahahahaha hahaha. I'm not laughing at your words. I'm laughing at how sad your life must be to have this view on life
      Aug 24
    • New SpRJ26
      That’s why this dunghead works at Priceline in IT.
      Aug 24
    • Glassdoor 72cents
      Because priceline pays so much more...
      Aug 24
    • New SpRJ26
      Some strippers also earn so much more...
      Aug 24
    • Facebook / Eng
      IdzR47

      Facebook Eng

      PRE
      Amazon, Facebook
      IdzR47more
      LMAO Priceline. lemme get whatever you're smoking.

      everyone's happiness is separate. buffett lives in the same house that he bought 50 years ago because that's what matters to him. robin williams committed suicide even though he was wealthy. op you gotta stick with what makes you happy
      Aug 26
  • Google / Other
    snidely

    Google Other

    BIO
    Flagged by the community
    snidelymore
    Go back to a low TC and see how unhappy you become.
    Aug 24 5
    • Amazon / Eng gahjsndh
      OP
      I think you didn’t read my complete post. I mentioned that I can get paid more and I have put minimum bar of 200k to be considered as a good TC to stay happy in life even with small family.
      Aug 24
    • LinkedIn
      lqp hxe wr

      LinkedIn

      PRE
      Google, Amazon, 500 Startups, Microsoft
      lqp hxe wrmore
      Tried buying a house at the "wrong" time? Note that what you consider "enough" for a house may not be same for everybody else. And it won't even be an image thing.
      Aug 24
    • Amazon / Eng gldnhndcfs
      "money isn't everything but not having it is"
      Aug 24
    • Expedia Group / Eng Anony🐭
      Some would argue that's already a low tc
      Aug 24
    • Splunk / Eng ImaRainbow
      Housing, medical and education inflation are fucking everything up in American cities. It’s 10x as costly as a generation ago.
      Aug 25
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Google alJM60
      Not sure, but I currently live in a two bedroom apartment with my wife and two kids. The rent on our apartment is $700 a month more than the mortgage, rent and taxes on the three houses we owned before moving here.

      Google is pretty much the only company that could have gotten me out here and once Google Austin has expanded a bit more I am out of here.
      Aug 24
    • Amazon SDE3Hire
      Here's your 420k 2br condo in Hayward:

      What do you think of this 2 bds • 2 ba • 855 sqft home I found on Zillow? https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/25019-Copa-Del-Oro-Dr-UNIT-101-Hayward-CA-94545/24978626_zpid/
      Aug 24
    • Google alJM60
      Yes, with a 3-4 hour roundtrip commute it might be possible, but with my work schedule that would mean I would never see my kids, which I don't really consider an option.
      Aug 24
    • Facebook sum41pwd
      BS, leave your home at 5am, work on the shuttle, shit, even get a $800k home then. Or rent. Can’t convince me that $500k in the Bay justifies “feeling poor”.
      Aug 24
    • PayPal Isjnd
      $1.4M bottom of the barrel? Bull. That's $600k, and has been for a long time. 700-900sqft 1 or 2bd shoeboxes. $1M can get you a nice 3bd 1400-1800sqft in SJ and surrounding areas. Heck, you can find those for $800k, and they go for asking or a little over (unlike last year).

      Only talking single family homes here. Condos/townhomes excluded.
      Aug 24
  • Microsoft seagull
    You are not wrong but I’d like to share a different perspective on why some people care about making high TC as soon as possible. Regardless of your education, skills and experience, high TC is not a right and your position at work is not a tenure.

    The job market will not stay hot forever and you have to be prepared for a day when you are not one of the most valued engineers in your team, especially when it’s due to circumstances that are beyond your control. If you invest your high TC well and don’t splurge on unnecessary desires, you will start building your wealth and eventually have enough of a safety net mid-career to walk into work each day knowing that you can focus on doing the kind of work you love without worrying if your boss likes you or if you are working only on politically sanctioned projects to keep your job vs doing the right thing for the product.

    Think about it, if you had no debt, with a 500K TC and get to keep every penny of your paycheck(s) every month, what kind of engineer/colleague/boss/spouse/parent/son/daughter/friend will you be?
    Aug 24 4
    • Google blindv
      Well said! And my thoughts exactly. High TC for me is all about building that safety net now so that I can be prepared for downturns or unforseen problems in the future. The higher the TC, the quicker I can get my safety net in place and spend the rest of my life after that not having to worry about it.
      Aug 24
    • GoDaddy kBAA63
      101% agree with you, my thoughts exactly.
      Aug 24
    • Yelp bbtea
      This.
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft boogr
      Agree 100%. Many folks in tech now did not experience the last 2 recessions. Jobs (lots of them) disappeared overnight. Calculate when you plan to retire and how much time between now and then and you'll likely appreciate what high TC can do to your retirement plans. And keep in mind, it's a physical impossibility that you and those close to you will always be young and healthy - shit happens. Nothing wrong to get while the get'in is good.
      Aug 24
  • Google / Eng yogi bear
    “why do you need more TC? dont mention house, kids college tuition.” lol what is that shit?
    Aug 24 6
    • Fred Hutch straight🔥
      I know right. The *only* reason I chase higher TC is to afford a comfortable house for my wife and two kids, pay off my own student loans, and save for the kids college
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft Satya007
      ^ This
      Aug 24
    • New / Eng
      bleatcode

      New Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      bleatcodemore
      Why even work at all, why not just retire forever?

      P.S. don’t mention food, clothing, medicine, insurance, rent, recreation, travel, emergency funds, outstanding loans, anything that costs money.
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft Satya007
      ^ Word hahaha.. CC OP @gahjsndh
      Aug 24
    • Amazon / Eng gahjsndh
      OP
      I am answering it as a separate reply.
      Aug 25
  • New / Product Udacity PM
    TC is for suckers. I have many growing assets the provide income, over time, throughout the year, allowing me not to rely on TC.

    Buy houses, rent them out. Write books, screenplays, and paid articles.

    Buy soda machines. That’s what I do. Now my job is about me loving it, or leaving.

    Save, create a trust and estate.

    1. I don’t need anything, after I have everything. Which I do now.

    2. Family and happiness are the only things that matter!
    Aug 24 9
    • New / Product Udacity PM
      Yes. I saw an opportunity. I explained to the business the need. Showed them the traffic. Then we came up with a percentage deal that made sense.
      Aug 24
    • New frojo
      Thanks for the inspiration. How'd you do the background research for that sort of thing / get the traffic stats?
      Aug 24
    • New / Product Udacity PM
      I was at the gym and counted the people walking by for one Saturday.
      Aug 24
    • New / Mgmt
      griesrt1

      New Mgmt

      PRE
      Flipboard
      griesrt1more
      You’re the best
      Aug 24
    • Intel YJPz88
      For many people ( myself included) high TC stands in a way of exploring business opportunities. After all why spend energy, time, risk when you have bread and butter and a little caviar on top already. That's all good and bad at the same time, depending on how this turn out in life.
      My respect to people who overcome the laziness and develop business sense.
      Aug 25
  • Snapchat Jer.
    TC too low
    Aug 24 0
  • Disney Nipha
    Kids are expensive. Their educations even more so. I don’t know why that can’t be part of the discussion. They are pretty much THE reason I try to get paid well.
    Aug 24 9
    • Cruise Automation cruizzin
      Fair enough, the TC is a fixed number which doesn't match well to explain expenditures and costs of living. I'm in the Bay Area (not SF) and live a fairly suburban life. We don't go out to eat, and my family spends about 40% to 50% of our total after tax on kids (more than our mortgage of $2.5k/mo) (and my mortgage is obscenely low for my age group, special circumstances and all. So yeah, I'd be curious what % your sister spends on her kids. Do both parents work full time? So they need full daycare? Mind you my 50% cost for kids a month means we are blessed enough to contribute to 529 plans. Ultimately I feel very privileged and blessed, totally in my conscious that a lot of folks in this country are in a lot worse place. But damned if I agree with the OP that more money isn't everything. Back again at the numbers for the Bay Area 200k TC is scraping the barrel.

      And I didn't have a privileged up bringing. My parents worked 2-3 jobs each whilst going to school (yeah I was THAT 10 yr old in my mom's post grad lectures asking the professor questions, no I didn't have a TV until I was 17, no I didn't have a SNES "like the rest of the kids, I got Goodwill clothes and I had leftovers from my mom's cafeteria job for dinner). So I'm well aware of people who can't give their kids much.
      Aug 24
    • LinkedIn / Eng igotb&
      For a great deal of you talking about how you can spend so little on children’s education:

      Are you so sure your kids will repeat your experience?
      Aug 25
    • Cruise Automation cruizzin
      Me or qks? With kids nothing is guaranteed, you load the dice as best you can, and try your best. That translates to different things for diff people. For some that means private education at $20k/year from kindergarten, for others it means buying "name brand" diapers or a $400 stroller instead of a $80 one. Same goes for car seats or enrichment classes or extra curricular coding camps for your 8 year old. Do you go to the big box and buy the cheapest milk possible? Or do you buy some special gourmet brown cows milk at 6x the cost? Small things add up.

      As for my fam, we've all but cut off eating out save for keep-our-sanity and birthdays. We can afford it but we chose to get more premium food stuffs from the grocery store instead of 3-4 times a month at Apple bees or your equivalent resteraunt. And we plough most of whatever we have left into 529/enrichment (piano/ballet/swimming).
      Aug 25
    • Meetup qks
      Certainly not trying to make anyone feel bad about spending money to send their kids to private grade school. I’m just pushing back at the idea that it’s a necessity.
      Aug 25
    • Netflix / Other quipy
      When kids are under 5, you don't have a choice for "public care" unless you qualify for something I don't know about. We have tried to find the cheapest education for our kids, but still had to pay $2k/month when he was under 3 and $1800/month when he was 3 & 4. And we have more than 1. Public school is free, but after-school care isn't. You can't spend zero on kids unless you have someone that's willing to watch them for free. And we don't.

      It should be noted we're in the Bay.
      Aug 25
  • IBM YroV00
    People are always greedy. But I agree with that you says. I’m 3 year SWE earn roughly 110k per year. I couldn’t believe I could earn that before going to college.

    Everything I’m trying to do is to learn more, not because I could earn more but those knowledge will be being with me with my whole life. And TC will grow accordingly.
    Aug 24 2
    • Amazon / Eng gahjsndh
      OP
      +1 on your approach.
      Aug 24
    • Nordstrom P-A-R-U-S
      All you are learning now may no value in 5 years..
      Aug 24
  • Amazon gejebje
    Yes I make 800k ( salary and investments ). But I am less happy now . I feel that days when I was making much lesser money were much better . I was younger , had fewer things to worry about , could just do unplanned trips with wife , both of us were healthier , my parents were healthier, life was full of optimism . So chase for higher TC but don’t make it as the only goal . Build more memories.
    Aug 24 4
    • Amazon / Product g s h hv e
      Even you don’t make more, you will get older. You and your parent will be less healthy. It is called aging. TC helps you to pay hospital bill when you get older
      Aug 24
    • Uber / Eng theRealBag
      I call BS. TC helps you enjoy your life after you stop working. I am not planning on giving all my 401k to a hospital. Instead, I want to travel and spend time with my kids without having to worry about where my next meal is coming from.
      Aug 24
    • Bloomberg DPfT22
      Speaking from experience, if you wait until then to spend time with your kids you might be surprised to find out they don't have time for you. Hopefully you're just as inspired to spend time with your parents now.
      Aug 24
    • Snapchat tresleche
      How did u get to 800k TC?
      Aug 24
  • Intuit RammyG
    I had a friend who died at 32 after getting. Masters degree and before he married his wife. Stomach cancer that just came and killed him within a few months.

    All the money in the world won't buy you more time.
    Aug 24 3
    • SAP
      Man

      SAP

      BIO
      F
      Manmore
      Yeah, but it can buy you cancer treatment.
      Aug 24
    • Intuit RammyG
      He was a nurse, great insurance. It didn't help.
      Aug 24
    • UPS Vvzz25
      Agree. My mom passed away cuz of stomach caner. Stage 4 when she found out. I asked doctor for the best/most expensive cancer treatment. "Money is not the problem" I remember I said that. She passed away after almost a year.
      Aug 26
  • Cruise Automation cruizzin
    Lol such an entitled privileged post. I barely make TC 200k. Could totally use another 20k more in my pocket a year. I'm not chasing $ I'm living in fear that this is my prime earning years in life and it won't be enough for my fam and retirement. Maybe you're all set. Good for you. My back account has only had between $1k to $5k in the last ten years. No I don't have CC debt, yes I have a house with a $300k mortgage, yes my 401k has $500k, but I consider myself scraping along like the rest of the rats. You have to recognize how privileged you are to make those statements OP. God damn.
    Aug 24 4
    • Meetup qks
      Honestly, I think OP is just stating what is already known. While money is great, beyond a certain point, additional money doesn’t make you any happier. You shouldn’t be surprised when you find that there are many difficult things about being a human being that have nothing to do with money at All.
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft /More/$$$$
      @qks: agree with you but I want to be the person with the money saying it doesn’t matter 🤣🤣🤣 definitely not the other way around lol
      Aug 24
    • Meetup qks
      Very good point
      Aug 24
    • EATON
      Mi8c2

      EATON

      PRE
      Hubbell
      Mi8c2more
      This whole post/thread is different people at different levels of privilege complaining lol. I make $65k and have a negative net worth with student loans. But I have a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in and food on the table. Even by US standards, I am doing very well. I just hate how these conversations devolve
      Aug 24
  • Facebook whodattt
    Being rich wont make you happy, but hell i would rather be rich and unhappy than poor and unhappy.
    Aug 24 1
    • Oracle seg fault
      Hot wife and unhappy is better then ugly wife and unhappy too.
      Aug 24
  • Oracle djjdhbw
    My TC is 430K and I was happier when my TC was 100K
    Aug 24 6
    • Oracle djjdhbw
      Not really, it’s probably I lost interest to many things since I can easily afford most of them
      Aug 24
    • EATON
      Mi8c2

      EATON

      PRE
      Hubbell
      Mi8c2more
      This is refreshingly honest. Have you heard of the book Your Money or Your Life? It talks about this very idea that once we reach our point of “enough” we don’t get joy out of money the way we used to
      Aug 24
    • Intel leet
      Fast cars always give me joy though
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft Satya007
      My TC was 18k ($1400/month) as a grad student, and now $390k. I'm much happier now. Money gave me financial freedom which made me way happier.
      Aug 24
    • Facebook leekode
      I don't think that's Oracle's point. Financial freedom contributes a lot to happiness.

      You'd still be happy with 300k or even 250k TC. Or that's me, I guess.
      Aug 24
  • Boeing mTBy85
    FLIP SIDE: i have never been concerned with TC or aggressively negotiating for it. i am intrinsically motivated. i just want to do a great job because doing a great job is the right way to be. i do my best and always go above & beyond. i help others. i am hard working, honest, and kind. i always do and advocate for what is right- by ethical and moral standards, by company policy, by our customers, and our suppliers. i try to enjoy my life outside work. i was taught/raised that this kind of attitude and behavior will always get recognized. maybe you wont be first or second or even tenth to get promotion or raise amongst your cohort, but eventually, everything will work out as it should. BUT THE WORLD HAS CHANGED SINCE THE BABY BOOMERS AND THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE.
    many corporations will suck as much blood sweat tears and soul out of this kind of worker for as long as they can. this is particularly the case in patriarchal, militaristic, hierarchical organizations where men feel threatened by competent women and will do anything to sabotage the advancement of tenacious women. the result is that i am in my late 30's, gave EVERYTHING i had to my job/company, and am stuck making 60% of my market value and 50% of median income in my area. i am stuck in a cycle of ever-increasing rent (which rises faster than annual cost of living wage increases) and unable to save for a house. now, for the first time in my life, i am learning how to "get in the game" and assert my worth. i am applying to jobs outside my company. i am incredibly validated by the responses i've received and could not be more stoked about the opportunities.
    the lesson is: it's a balance. yes, there is a "right" way to be - to be an awesome contributing employee and to have a healthy outlook not focused on compensation which also leads to being happier in life overall. but this DOES NOT mean you can avoid the tough realities and unsavory aspects of professional life. you MUST stay abreast of economic trends in your given geographical area and in your industry. you MUST do the politicking, the networking, internal and external jockeying, self-promotion, personal brand and image management. otherwise, you will be exploited for your talents and work ethic. plain and simple.
    Aug 24 3
    • Credit Karma positive+
      Yes exactly, plz don't give up on being helpful and responsible, find a job/team where they value that and you instead! :)
      Aug 24
    • Marqeta / Eng MQ_Stasi
      WAGIE WAGIE BACK IN CAGIE
      BE A GOOD CUCK FOR YOUR CORPORATE OVERLORDS
      Aug 24
    • GOAT / Eng
      gitpusher

      GOAT Eng

      PRE
      Apple
      gitpushermore
      You're very right about the cynicism inherent to today's job market. My grandfather taught me many things about jobs/career, but it was all based on his experience in Detroit from 1950's-1980's (when loyalty was rewarded). Needless to say, that knowledge did not serve me well in my 20's. I would've been better served by making shrewder, more selfish decisions during that time – instead of thinking that "hard work" and traditional values would result in reward.
      Sep 26
  • Cisco / R&D
    ohno!

    Cisco R&D

    PRE
    Intel Corporation
    ohno!more
    Total TC?
    Aug 24 0
  • Credit Karma ckgogo
    In my experience, whether you earn 60k or 300k, it’s still roughly the same amount of effort if you’re an individual contributor.

    Getting higher TC is basically a free lunch in this world. :)
    Aug 24 2
    • Snapchat 2 , club
      This
      Aug 24
    • Google amdg
      And the work becomes better as you climb the ic ladder. That's something which was not possible some time back, when you had to shift being people manager after some time.
      Aug 24
  • Neurocrine hoola.xyz
    I earn low but I am happy. The following things make me happy:

    1. I work 7 hours a day and have time to concentrate on things I like to do after work
    2. I never have to reschedule a doctor appointment or hang up an important call during work hours.
    3. There hasn't been an instance when I needed help and didn't receive it from my manager/peers
    4. I never have to worry about politics. I work 6 hours at work, deliver my shit, and as long as am doing it right, nothing else matters
    5. My manager tries to sets soft deadlines so he can move them around as per the progress
    6. I have an amazing family and friends to depend on. How much we earn hasn't changed our friendships over time.
    7. I have learnt new things and adopted new hobbies
    Aug 24 6
    • Bloomberg / Eng F.U. money
      Ok nice list but can you make up your mind whether it’s 6 or 7 hours a day that you work?
      Aug 24
    • Intel holiday
      How about all that along with a 500k+ TC. Probably will make you happier 😁
      Aug 24
    • Benefitfocus / Data
      dMOf15

      Benefitfocus Data

      PRE
      Teradata, Walmart, Apple, Overstock.com
      dMOf15more
      I believe they meant 6 hours in the office and an additional hour WFH
      Aug 24
    • Microsoft Lpsolo
      I mean I am not nitpicking or anything but Microsoft offers all of the above about work perks... heck I only work 5 hours a day and I believe I earn more than you. So upgrades do exist :)
      Aug 24
    • Neurocrine hoola.xyz
      @bloomberg l am at work for 7 hours and work 6 hours
      Aug 24
  • Facebook ExPo20
    It’s because it is as close it gets to a dick measuring contest.
    Aug 24 1
    • Appfolio Kidq41
      genius! LOL
      Aug 29