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Why I Turned Down $90,000


I graduated from college in 2008 with a BBA degree in Finance and a minor in Engineering. I walked the stage with honors and expected to land a job in my field with ease. Little did I know that The Great Recession was eliminating finance positions left and right. Banks were filing bankruptcy, investment companies were going belly up, and people were taking their money out of the market in fear. The fact was that there was little hope for me to find a job in finance in 2008.

For four years I found work within large companies, but I could never seem to land a job in finance! Finally, it happened. In July of 2012 I was hired as a new Financial Analyst for a large company in West Michigan. I am very happy with this current job, and actually, since I have such a passion for it, I am picking up on everything quite rapidly and am selected for many special projects. I am beginning to get noticed for my analytical skills, both within our company walls and outside of them as well.

The Offer

I recently received a curious email, one that I was not prepared for. It was from a recruiter in the Chicago area. They had heard about my abilities in Finance and wanted me to consider working for them as their Head Financial Analyst. I would report directly to the Chief Financial Officer and earn an immediate salary of $90,000 per year (which is a considerable amount more than I am earning today). I considered this offer for a brief moment, but ultimately turned it down.

The Reasons

“Why would you turn down such an amazing opportunity?” you might ask. Let me explain my reasons.

1) Family

In order to find my first job, I traveled 1,400 miles away from my family and friends, and only recently was I able to return and work locally in West Michigan. Since my wife just left me (and divorced me), I’m beginning to realize just how important my family is to my everyday life! If I moved to Chicago, I would be limited to seeing them on the weekends, which would leave me lonely and miserable for the other 5 days of the week.

2) Benefits

While I don’t earn $90,000 per year at my current job, the benefits are excellent. 401(k) matches, stock options, bonuses, and a very reasonable insurance plan blows pretty much every other company out of the water in this category.

3) Education Assistance

My current company is assisting me financially to further my education in business. By the end of 2013, I’ll have my MBA and will be ready to advance within the company. There are fewer and fewer companies out there that are willing to support their employees in this way anymore.

4) Opportunities for Advancement

If I started somewhere new, I would have no idea where I stood within the company. Would they want to mold me and grow my skills to move up in the company, or would they rather I just master the position they give me and work it for the rest of my life? I know for a fact that I’m being molded for advancement within my current company. My mentor is the VP of Finance and there are many opportunities opening up in the future (especially with my MBA).

5) Honesty and Integrity

The company I work for is honest and open when it comes to doing business. They produce a quality product, but have aspirations that extend far beyond the production floor. They help communities all over the world and do it with class, not asking for public recognition or affirmation. In short, I’d say that my values align very well with my company, which would make it exceptionally difficult to leave.

How About You?

What if you got a job offer from another company that would give you a much larger salary and a more prestigious title.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. The MBA is important for sure. If they are paying for it, you owe it to your company to stick around.

    Didn’t realize you were so young Derek. In my 20s I was willing to move anywhere there was a better opportunity. I only had one opportunity, but it was the one I took at the age of 24 to come out to San Fran.

    I say stay flexible! Family is only a plane and a phone call away.


    • Yep. They are paying for it, so I would love to hang around and give them their money’s worth. Yes, I am young, and I can’t say that I’m completely against moving, but having my family nearby is worth quite a lot of money to me.

      • I’m bullish for you man. You’ve got your whole world ahead! So much opportunity!

        • I appreciate it Sam! I’ve got plenty of life ahead of me and I’m ready to conquer it! 🙂

  2. I know someone who got a job away from friends and family just for the money. They said that they ended up spending more money going out, eating out, and trying to get out of the house than they would have if they weren’t feeling as lonely.

    I think you’re smart in realizing that there’s much more to look at than just salary numbers.

    • Yeah, I could see that. I’m sure I would end up doing the same thing just to keep away from that quiet, lonely apartment in the evenings. Thanks for the comment!

  3. It sounds like you are making a pretty good decision. Also it really doesn’t sound like turning down $90,000 but only the difference between current income and benefits and the new salary plus benefits. Not to mention, the cost of living in Chicago is much higher. I am guessing you will have a better lifestyle in Michigan.

    • You’re right JT, I missed that point! Chicago is much more expensive than West Michigan, so that $90,000/yr job would probably feel like $60,000 if you factor in the cost of living. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Nice post, Derek.

    The bottom line is: money ain’t everything! Paying off the debt and keeping your overhead low enables you to think clearly about these decisions! I worked up the ladder for quite a bit of time (albeit in a field I love), and I am on the verge of dropping about 90k from my salary for the same reasons you mentioned and then some.

    You missed an important point:

    The job may not have been aligned to your passions. That is the #1 criteria for me these days.

    Good luck!


    • Hi Tony. Thanks so much for the comment. You are 100% right about the passions piece. If your work does not align with what you love, then two things could happen. You earn quite a lot of money and hate what you do everyday, or you earn very little because you hate what you do every day. Either way isn’t pleasent. If you enjoy what you do for work, life just becomes easier!

  5. While money is nice, I like the set up I have now. I don’t know if I’d trade more money for another location, more stressful work and more hours. I guess it would depend on the opportunity though…

    • Moving to another location is huge. I did it when I was younger, and I’m glad I did actually – it allowed me to gain that ever important 3 years of experience after college that so many employers want to see. I was then able to move back home because I found a better job locally. To do the same thing again though would be tough. I’d much rather stick around at home.

  6. I understand what you mean about not wanting to move away from family. I moved 1800 miles 3 1/2 years ago to get married. Now, pretty much the only family I have within 2 timezones are my in-laws. Some days I get incredibly homesick for my family and friends. I’ve gone from seeing them as many as several times per month to only twice in nearly 4 years. I have some friends that I haven’t been in contact now since I moved!

    • Hi Edward. Yeah, that situation sounds tough. I was at least able to see my family 2 or 3 times a year. I can’t imagine only seeing them twice in 4 years!

  7. When I was in my twenties, I had an opportunity to move within the company to a suburb of Chicago from Los Angeles. After the interview, I realized I did not want to move. Money is not the panacea for everything. I never regretted it. I think you give it careful consideration and made the right choice too.

    • It sounds like you’ve had a clear head all your life krantcents! 🙂 I think that when someone has strong relationships, they are far more happy than if they had loads of money and no one to enjoy it with.

  8. It’s rare to find a job in Michigan and even more rare to find one by family! We thought we’d have to move out of state but are very thankful my husband found a job only 40 min from my parents and 2.5 hours from his.

    • Very true! I’m with a great company too. Most of the people that work for this company never leave, and I’m really beginning to understand why.

  9. I can totally relate. My current employer doesn’t pay as much as other companies but their values are very closely aligned with mine. No money in the world can buy the peace of mind brought by working for an organization that’s a perfect fit for the way you tick.

    • Very true Matt. My employer is often on the list of “Most Trusted Company in America”, which means a lot to me. It’s fantastic to work for a company that really cares about me.

  10. Sounds like you really thought this through and have your own priorities in order, which is great. I’ve moved several times (not for opportunities that were offered to me, but to pursue opportunities in other places) and now have a job I love. It’s really saying something to know that your company is open and honest and to believe in what they’re doing and I’d say that alone is worth quite a lot. I too really believe in the company I work for and take great satisfaction in knowing that we’re helping people and that I’m learning so much. Can’t put a dollar sign on that!

    • It’s really something you don’t think about when you’re coming out of college, but having a belief in your company is pretty huge. Not only will they have longevity in the work world, but you will most likely advance faster within the company because you’re both motivated to do so (since you believe what your company stands for), and the executive team will want to promote someone that has the same values of the company as a whole.

  11. I once gave up an opportunity to increase my income from $28k/yr to $50k/yr with another company.
    I turned that down, not because I’d be further away from family/friends, but because the company I was aligned with at the time had very similar values and goals.
    Doing that in retrospect was able to land me several additional gigs and trust within not only that company, but eventually the company that I work for today and at a much larger salary than I would have gotten from the other employer (not to mention they also went out of business about 3 years after my work was being requested there).

    • That’s an awesome example Chris! I know a ton of people that have made their job decision purely on the money, and they’re miserable today. Great job considering the other factors.

  12. When recruiters have called me, I factor the cost of missing my family into my salary. Maybe $90K wouldn’t have done it for you, but would $120K or $150K? If so maybe use that as a starting salary.

    Sorry to hear about the divorce, if there is anything I can ever do feel free to shoot me an email.

    • I think a number in the six-figures would have peaked my interest a little more. Maybe I would have at least gone into the interview to get some more info.

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