The Negative Effects of a High Salary


We all know the benefits of having a high salary: the ability to buy things that you want, not worrying about nights spent at the bar or on nice meals, the opportunity to take nice vacations. But what about the negative effects of being paid well?

Risk Taking

One negative effect is that generally speaking, it may impede your desire to take risks.

The natural progression is that you’re happy about your new high salary, so you go out and spend money to treat yourself. Maybe you upgrade your car or buy a nice house or apartment. The money continues to come in and you continue to upgrade your lifestyle.

But if you ever wanted to make a career change and move into a position with a lower salary, it will be more and more difficult since you’ll have to “downgrade” your standard of living. This becomes even more relevant if you get married and have children. Your spouse and children are likely relying on your high salary, so you’ll feel even more pressure to maintain your salary, even if you had dreams of doing something else.

According to some studies, humans tend to treat losses twice as powerfully as gains. You’ll have to overcome this feeling if you want to make a move. Whether it’s known as the golden handcuffs syndrome, loss aversion, or something else, this effect can lock you into a career that you may not necessarily enjoy.

Demands on Time

Beyond this, high salaries also demand much of your time. Don’t expect to work 9–5 or have protected weekends. This is even more true with technology today, as you’ll essentially be “on call” 24/7. You’ll have less personal time and may have to miss social events due to pending deadlines. It’s just the nature of the beast.

High salaries are great things—they signal that you are a talented individual and that the market is demanding your talent. But just be wary that a high salary comes with costs, and it may stop you from living the life that you envisioned.