AnnaMarie Houlis
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Sometimes, taking a demotion in pay is worth it. After all, sacrificing some of your salary for better benefits, a healthier work-life balance, a more impressive title, a shorter commute, a more comfortable company culture and other reasons can make a massive difference in your happiness and ensuing performance at work.

Although making more money is, of course, enticing, It's not uncommon to take a pay cut for a job that simply suits you better. We spoke with women who've shared why they left their last jobs for new opportunities that didn't pay quite as well. Here's what they had to say.

1. The new job can be a valuable learning opportunity.

"I'm the digital marketing manager at ShopPad, and my job right before this one was a nonprofit that I took a pay cut to work for," says Cara Wood. "The benefits and commute were also both worse. The reason I took the pay cut was because I had known the man who would be my boss there for a couple of years at that point, and I knew he was giving me the opportunity to implement and create my own marketing automation program for his small section of the nonprofit. It was a huge learning opportunity that I had been dying to try, and it would be very valuable on my resume. A year later I landed a job in the Bay Area for double was my salary had been, so it ended up being worth it."

Other women agreed.

"I worked in the financial industry, doing data analysis for five years," says Michelle of WithMichelle.com. "The benefits and pay were great. However, I felt stagnant, and my learning had plateaued as a millennial; feeling that I may no longer be relevant in a couple of years is frightening! With that, I found a role that matched my skillset for a larger organization, and although I took a pay cut, I had calculated how much I handle while making minor adjustments to my lifestyle. I viewed the pay cut has a small offset to the growth of skills and knowledge I would gain that would make me incredibly valuable in the future.

2. Moving to a new job may be a necessity.

"In 2015, I took a $20,000 pay cut making $65,000 to making $45,000," says Jaquetta Ragland, owner of www.youngandfinance.com and a licensed real estate agent. "I was working for a large corporation that decided to close the office where I was working and move to another city. I was unable to relocate due to being a single mother at the time, so I had to find a job locally."

3. The new job could lead to better benefits.

"I took a new job that paid less because of better benefits and respect," says Rachel O'Brien. "The previous job I was in was run by someone who didn't listen to his employees or value them, and it was very disheartening and hard to find the motivation to work there every day. The job I ended up taking ultimately paved the way for more opportunities in my career path despite paying less, and it has overall been much more enjoyable than the last."

4. The new job could lead to a healthier work-life balance.

"Previously I was the director of all sales operations for an eight-billion-dollar public company, and I was struggling even though I was being paid very well," says Abbie Mirata, a VP of people and culture for a boutique software implementation company. "I felt like I had reached a peak and there weren't further opportunities for me to grow and learn what I wanted to. I took this new job and a 35% pay cut to be able to have not just better balance (more time with family and a shorter commute) but to move into a true leadership role learning full operations of a business rather than staying pigeon-holed in a departmental corporate role."

Other women have done the same.

"I recently left a great job and great salary at a large corporation to go into consulting for myself," says Phyllis Welsh. "I chose to leave my job because I wanted more flexibility and greater control over my work-life balance. After recently having a baby, I realized that I wanted to be able to spend time at home and ultimately decided that taking a significant pay cut was worth having that flexibility."

Moving to self-employment seemed like a way to achieve a better work-life balance for some women, as well.

"I left my full-time job as a copywriter a couple of years ago to pursue self-employment," says Yaz Purnell, founder of The Wallet Moth. "Although I made sure I had a few freelance contracts lined up before leaving my job, it did mean taking a significant pay-cut at first — it wasn’t for several months that I eventually managed to build up my own business to a point where it matched (and then overtook) my original salary. My biggest reason for taking the pay cut in the first place was to find a better work-life balance. The idea of committing eight hours a day that didn’t spark real excitement in me just  didn’t sit right; I wanted to pursue a career that left me fulfilled, passionate and in control of my life. Taking that pay cut was difficult, but it was 100% the right decision."

5. The new job may better align with your values.

"I was 23, and I was working for a non-profit that served people with disabilities but, after I was there for two years, the mission and vision of the organization had changed, and it no longer aligned with my values of full inclusion for people with disabilities in the workplace," says Colleen DelVecchio. "So I left for a job that was a small pay cut (7%), but it was much more in line with my values."

It's not uncommon for women to have left their jobs for one that shares their values.

"I left a job only a few months in for a new opportunity and did take a pay cut to do so — the reason being a negative work environment and culture," says Susan Stalte, a healthcare professional and founder of a nutrition staffing agency. "This was a remote position, and it opened my eyes to the fact that there can still be these flaws to a job without the in-person aspect. It doesn't make a difference where or when a job it, a positive and collaborative work environment that encourages growth is a personal non-negotiable regardless of pay. As you grow personally and professionally and take on new opportunities, you learn that sometimes a certain salary isn't worth the stress and anxiety."

6. The new job could promise more money down the line.

"I have left a $6,000-$8,000/a month job for a business making me $1,200-$1,500 a month," says Angela Bradford, senior marketing director of World Financial Group. "Why?  I knew the business paid more in the long run so I took the leap gladly."

7. The new job may be a dream.

"Almost two years ago, I left a CEO position in a tech company for a less paying opportunity to be a co-founder and CMO of a new startup," says Annika Helendi, CMO and co-founder of ContentFly. "The reason for making that decision was connected to my desire to be an entrepreneur, and I was afraid that, if I didn't make the leap at that point in my life, I would never do it because of the 'golden handcuffs' that would always hold me back from taking bigger risks with my career path. While my entrepreneurial journey has been very rocky, I have learned so many new skills and met tons of brilliant people, so I'm glad that I made that decision. It had definitely put me on a different life path and allows me to live without any regrets."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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