My Worst Decision Ever

by Ron Haynes

If you’ve read my post 12 Things I Learned By 42 That I Wish I Knew At 22, you know that I say in number 11, Never accept a job just because the pay is higher. Life is more than money.

I haven’t always believed that, nor have I always lived according to that principle. I wish I had. I could have avoided a lot of grief and heartache.

About 14 years ago, I was working for a large national chain as a “manager trainee.” I was very interested in moving up the ladder and completed my 10 week training course in only 3 weeks. I was always on time, dressed properly, had a great attitude and was eager to learn the business. I asked all the right questions and made sure the District Manager saw me in a positive light by always hitting my company set goals.

Fast forward 7 months. My wife had gone grocery shopping on a Sunday evening and left our two little ones with me. My oldest had just fell on the driveway and hurt her knee when the phone rang (we didn’t have caller ID). Surprise! It was my District Manager. He asked if I had ever heard of Anderson, South Carolina. I said no. Despite hearing my little daughter’s crying, he continued on by telling me to drive to Anderson that night, get a hotel room, and report to the store manager there at 6:45 am Monday morning for an interview to be the assistant manager. I was to drive back and pack my home on Tuesday, move on Wednesday, and be ready to start work on Thursday morning. We had less than 6 hours to find a home in a city we had never before visited.

My trooper of a wife never complained a bit. She supported me far more than I’ve ever given her credit. We moved our 3 bedroom home into some, well, lets just say “less than desirable” apartments and I started work that Thursday. The entire move was out of my own pocket, with reimbursement coming 6 weeks later. It was very hard on my young family, but the sacrifice would be worth it, I kept telling myself. I DID make much more money, and I was able to begin to get caught up on some past due bills, but living 300 miles away from any family is a tax unto itself.

After 13 months, I heard there was a management opening on the East Coast at a very good store. I made the phone call to my District Manager and told him I was very interested. He talked to the VP who was at a store 400 miles south of mine. I was told that if I was truly interested, that I would have to drive there and interview with the regional VP. I put my wife and kids into our minivan and drove the 800 mile round trip for a 7 minute interview. Seven minutes. 7.

I was given the nod and told to find housing and get moved as soon as possible. This new location was 300 additional miles from my hometown and was in an area with a much higher cost of living. To say that money was tight would be a severe understatement. I had to borrow money from my father just to pay for the move, the lost deposits on my apartment in Anderson, the new deposits on my new apartment, and all the expenses that go along with moving. I was flat broke. I did get my family moved and then had to turn around and go back to my hometown to attend a training session. After the training, I had only enough gasoline to get back halfway. I called my wife and told her to sell something to get some cash into our account so I could get a tank or two of gas and get back to my new home.

She frantically went through her jewelry and sold some pieces that were sentimental to her, sold my guitar, and sold several other items to a pawn shop. She deposited the money and I was able to buy enough gasoline to drive back to her and my kids. One of the pieces of jewelry she sold was a heart shaped pendant I had bought her for our first anniversary. I just found out yesterday, all these years later. The unfortunate thing is that we never went back and got those items back. She told me last night that she has always regretted selling her first anniversary present from her husband. Who can blame her? I regret putting her into that situation.

About five months after I took the store manager position, after the company had refused to reimburse me for most of my moving expenses like I was promised, shorted my bonus by over $10,000, and reset my store goals 48 percent higher than the previous year, I received a job offer back in my old hometown and moved back. Things went up from there and our lives, financially and otherwise, began to make drastic improvements.

Where did I go wrong? I had put myself into a horrible financial situation that forced me to only view a job as a means of making money to get creditors off my back. I was a “slave to the lender.” I needed cash and I needed to advance as quickly as possible. When you’re desperate for anything, you’re vulnerable. I have no one to blame but myself and my own selfishness.

For the 4 years leading up to my taking this crazy job, I had relied on credit cards to buy consumable items. I had financed cars for as long and as much as the bank would allow. I had made only the minimum payments. I had not saved anything at all, but had squandered thousands and thousands of dollars on stupid pyramid multi level marketing schemes, businesses I had no “business” investing in, vacations, nights out on the town, and just tons of useless stuff. What did I have to show for it? A wife that had to pawn her jewelry just to buy enough gasoline so her husband could get home, children who thought their father lived at the store because of my 114 hour workweeks, and a wife in a new city with no money, no family, and no friends. We were as close to miserable as you can possibly get.

What can YOU learn from my stupid mistakes?

1. Marry a good person. This one facet of your life can single handedly determine your happiness more than just about any other. Many other wives would have left. Mine stayed the course, supporting me and loving me far more than I deserve. I really don’t know how to ever repay her.
2. Please don’t take a job for the money, but don’t get yourself into a financial position where you HAVE to take a job for the money. That is the single most important lesson you can take from this article.

So what exactly was my worst decision ever? The decision to go into consumer debt. Yes, I decided to go into debt. I decided that “stuff” was more important than financial prosperity. I decided that symphony tickets and vacations and expensive dinners out were highly important. I decided that new cars and appearing successful to my high school friends was important.

What I’ve found is that life’s most important things can’t be bought with a credit card, or even with all the cash you can round up. Life’s most important things involve the people you love and that love you. Whether you’re eating beans and rice at home or chargrilled Chilean sea bass with a lobster thermidor sauce and steamed baby vegetables, having someone to share it with is what’s important.

I’ve learned my lesson. Have you?

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 989 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.



I have to agree that it is people who are the most important parts of our lives.

Several years ago I stuck with a job I hated for just over two years for the sole reason that I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do instead. It was two relatively miserable years but it ended up being a good decision rather than a stupid one – my boss (who I liked a lot in spite of the other negatives associated with the job) moved to another firm and I had an opportunity to move with him. It was a case of sticking with someone I both liked and respected. It ended up being not only a dream job which I have held ever since (13 years now) but it also lead to me meeting my future wife.


It’s great that you were able to stick with someone whom you respected and liked. Several years ago, I worked with someone I liked and respected, but he didn’t think I needed a raise…ever. My respect diminished somewhat. You can probably imagine.


Ron, you have an awesome wife. I think you have some strong lessons learned, and hopefully a few people will realize there really is more to life than money. Great article.


Thanks Patrick. She IS awesome.

You know, when you’re young and in the “accumulation mode” of life, it is very easy to lose sight of all this. Hopefully though, Gen Y and Millenials will get the lesson learned earlier.


What a moving post, Ron. Full of great insight. Thanks for sharing your story. I even shed a tear.


Thanks Emily. I shed one or two while I was writing it.


An excellent post!!


Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it.


This was a very interesting post and it hit home for me. I too once took a job over another position for money (and one other thing) and it was one of the worst decisions of my life. I hated the job and the people and just about everything in life at that point. It led me to build up more debt and I was miserable and then just started going into a downward spiral.

I left the job but two years later it is really hard trying to begin to rebuild my life. Thanks for sharing as it makes me feel better knowing it can be done.


Take heart and be encouraged. It CAN be done…and YOU can do it. Many times it’s just a matter of priorities but you probably already knew that! :grin:

Aaron Stroud

Ron, would it be safe to say you care more about where you live than how much you make? I know my wife and I care more about our location than the chance to earn more.

The way I see it, a bigger salary only speeds up the day when you can retire and move to where you really want to live.


Yes, “where” is very important. We’ve since moved and are in a different situation now but I would move back in a heartbeat! :smile:


Excellent post! It was very moving, and I hope that reading this will prevent someone from making a stupid mistake (or many of them). As the old saying goes, you can’t buy happiness. It is SO true!


Thank you Becky! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. And we have the same hopes!


Wow, sounds like some of the stupid stuff we’ve done too.

Took that job that paid so much, had them lie about moving expenses and stiff us with thousands in reimbursements and wages that never came.

Went into debt with useless stuff.

It was only after we finally got out of debt that we realized that working a J.O.B. was not what we wanted. So we set about trying to change our lives, something we wouldnt have been able to do were we still in debt.

Good for you for figuring it all out too.


Thanks Rayven. The J.O.B. isn’t what I want right now either, so I’m interested in using my blog as a springboard to some other ventures.

Who knows what’s in store??? :wink:

Leslie Raymond

Wow, you’re right – you have a great family that believes in you, and you’re back where you belong now so you definitely didn’t go too far astray. I’m working toward paying back debt and hope to be debt free someday!

Great post, and holy cow 400 miles and all they needed was 7 minutes? Doesn’t anyone believe in Skype? :)



Back in 1995, I don’t think anyone had thought of Skype! They still make people jump through hoops like that. It’s a very “macho” organization that believes upper management is just shy of deity.


I agree completely with your 1st lesson. To marry a good wife.

Still this is not too easy a thing to do. Despite knowing the significant other for some time, it is still a game of chance.

I keep crediting the All Mighty for my choice of wife and my children’s mother. I am grateful that despite the huge list of mistakes I have made, on this one big thing of marriage, I was guided into the making the right decision.


I’m with you on THAT! God has blessed me beyond measure and far, far more than I deserve.

Vir Taaj

:neutral: :smile:

A very well written post, Mr. Ron. You have put some interesting points forward. In fact, i used to think about “Never accept a job just because the pay is higher” and felt that working class people sometimes had to accept jobs that gave them higher pay but less respect and less family life.


However, you have fortified the belief, Never accept a job just because the pay is higher… Things are always hard for people from the middle working class. But we have to thing long term.


Yes, we do have to think long term. Not only that, we have to discipline ourselves to be satisfied and content with our situation. That’s not to say we don’t strive to achieve more, but it is more a state of mind.

Thanks for your well thought out comment! :D


Sounds like you have a great wife and family who are really supportive of you! I’m glad to hear you finally made it back to your hometown!


The Digerati Life

That was real tough. Wow, I’m really glad you’re over those humps! Incredible story and I am sure this will help others be inspired as well, to stay away from debt and multi-level marketing schemes!

Mrs. Micah

To someone who doesn’t read it, “The Wisdom Journal” might sound pretentious. But the name is spot-on!

Thanks for sharing this. It’s scary, sad and inspiring at the same time.


Thanks! I chose the name because I wanted to keep a journal of what I’ve learned from my experiences as well as what I can learn from the experiences of others.

What do you think of the name “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” ??? :D

Mrs. Micah

Lol. Not bad but I think I missed its heyday.


Thanks! I sure hope it inspires someone!


Ron – I completely agree with your two pieces of wisdom. A spouse has such a huge influence on your overall happiness in life – I count myself lucky with the one I found. And I made the same stupid mistake chasing a job for money, I am working my way out of that mistake, but it has been a hard learned lesson!!


Thanks, Christianpf
You’re absolutely right.
Most of the really good lessons ARE hard learned…

Linda - Nickers and Ink

Intriguing comments here.

Certainly, I think the people make the program worthwhile, particularly when it comes to daily work.

Nickers and Ink – on blogspot

GLOSSY THE BOSS, by Linda Ann Nickerson


Wow, thank you so much for that post.

I am a lawyer and have chosen to work for myself, and only part time, doing something I actually enjoy. I could easily earn 3x what I do, and sometimes I envy the “stuff” I see my old colleagues enjoying (prestigious titles, fancy vacations & homes). But I’m able to pick my 7 year old up from school a few days a week, volunteer and actually relax on the weekends. Thanks for reminding me that I should be grateful for my lifestyle and that it’s worth the material sacrifices!

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