No one likes working for the man but even the most frugal smart renter needs a source of cash. Here we’ll explore some ways to make working for money a more fulfilling experience.

Barriers to fulfilling work

  • Events from the industrial revolution to mass production have done a great job to take the joy out of most paid work.
  • There are up to 12,000 possible careers to choose from, how is it possible to find your perfect career out of so much choice?
  • Choosing to get the highest paid job possible or following your “calling” are some options but few opportunities exist to achieve these ends (and may not be what you want anyway).
  • Job seekers are told to specialise even if this doesn’t suit everyone’s temperament or can possibly be risky if your profession becomes redundant.

Don’t read this the wrong way, if you love your work and wouldn’t want to do anything other than your highly specialised job, we’re genuinely happy for you (if your job doesn’t harm others, that is).

Not everyone finds their job appealing though and some jobs are simply not appealing even if they serve an important purpose for society at large. Some people also never find a paid “calling”, no matter how hard they try.


“Get to WORK” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0 1.0


We have found ourselves at this junction a few times and discovered some helpful tools to find fulfilling work. We’ll call this concept:

Tailor made work

Tailor made work means crafting a living to suit you and your family, the community and the biosphere. It is not always 100% achievable in the short term and can be a work in progress.

The suggestions below are like puzzle pieces that can be arranged in ways to tailor your paid work to suit you. How you use them or how many pieces of the puzzle you need is up to you:

What do you want?

  • Think of what you want on a personal level, for example, a job with meaning, a certain amount of freedom and that feeling you get when you are immersed in something interesting.
  • Figuring out what interests you can be as easy as reflecting on activities that you have done in your life (doesn’t have to be work related) that were really enjoyable and looking at what you did during those activities.
  • What do you need in terms of money to fund your lifestyle and what kinds of long term financial aspirations do you have?

Don’t ask for permission

  • Some jobs have exciting titles, yet can be very repetitive and boring whilst some jobs are not going to impress people at a party, yet can be really fulfilling.
  • Full time, part time, several interesting jobs tied together, work half the year and take half the year off, specialise in an area for five years and then re-specialise for the next five, start your own business, or minimise paid work through frugal living; there are so many options.
  • Find what works for you instead of trying to impress others. If it pays the bills, fits with who you are and doesn’t hurt anyone (or even improves the lives of others) then it doesn’t matter what others think.


“Panettone” by A. Galassi is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Act now, think later

  • Use your interests to find potential jobs that could interest you. From here, the only way you’ll truly know if a certain job interests you is to try it out.
  • Jobs can be tried out through interning, shadowing someone in the field, volunteering or interviewing people who work in the job you’re considering.
  • This may feel strange as an adult, but it can save you lots of time and money retraining only to find you don’t like your chosen job.
  • Conversely, you could also discover that a job you never thought would interest you is actually a perfect fit.

Branching out

  • If you are thinking of starting a business, you could start by working a day or two a week looking to gain customers whilst using your frugal lifestyle with part time work to support yourself.
  • This can also work if you are thinking of a job change and want to dip your toes in the water.

Being pragmatic

  • If money is your sole motivator for work, think about the cost and length of training verses what you’ll get at the other end.
  • For example, some jobs have high training costs (e.g. a university degree) with low employment prospects or average pay whilst some un-glamourous jobs can actually have decent pay and conditions without expensive training.
  • Trying out a job via interning, shadowing or volunteering really makes sense if you are thinking about investing a lot of time and money into job related training and education.
  • If your life circumstances don’t allow a short or mid-term change in work, your current work can become more fulfilling if you rethink the role work has in supporting your life.
  • Perhaps work enables you to support people you care about, your studies or can be a pathway to building some savings to become more financially independent.


“College of DuPage Commencement 2018 133” by COD Newsroom is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Invent your own job

  • Paid work doesn’t have to be the centre of your existence, it’s just a part of it. You can have lots of other hours in the day to make an impact.
  • The difference between paid and unpaid work is simply that one form of work is paid meaning that you can find lots of other ways to use your talents to produce something worthwhile.
  • Some things are extremely important, yet don’t earn money.
  • If you find yourself gravitating towards important unpaid work, there are ways to structure your paid work around it.

Recommended reading

  • The above ideas are some of our own and others have come from the works of authors that we have read.
  • To expand your ideas on finding meaningful work, we recommend How To Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric as he has an excellent knack for expanding the ideas of what work could be. You can see a video presentation of his ideas here.
  • For the nuts and bolts of finding a job, an up to date version of What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles is handy.
  • Along with the many ideas on the Smart Renting site, check out the Health and wealth section to see how to get your finances in order and reduce your dependence on paid work.

After years of tearing our hair out trying to find the “perfect” career, we arranged the above puzzle pieces to live more on less to free up time for important and fulfilling things, even if they don’t pay in dollars (like building this site).

It’s worth taking the time and using the above resources to find out what fulfilling work could be for you; life is too short to do unfulfilling work.