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RBC and CIBC Commit to No 2020 Layoffs: 5 Reasons Why This is a Smart Business Decision


  • RBC and CIBC CEOs recently publicly stated they do not intend to make any Covid-19 related layoffs in 2020.
  • Many are interpreting these statements in different ways. But I think most are missing the point.
  • The decisions by the RBC and CIBC CEOs actually make smart financial business sense.

The CEOs of Royal Bank of Canada and CIBC recently made public statements both suggesting their companies will not make Covid-19 related layoffs in 2020.

The statements can be seen here for RBC and here for CIBC.

I’ve read the public reactions (e.g. comments on various news sites) to these statements and they vary quite widely. Many suggest RBC and CIBC doing the ‘right thing’ by being good corporate citizens. Others argue these companies are not charities and should do what’s right for the bottom line, and instead allow shareholders to decide how they direct charitable efforts.

While I’m sure the impact to society and individuals was considered, the decision to retain employees is ultimately probably a good financial decision that benefits RBC and CIBC shareholders.

1. These are quasi-government entities.

Let’s make no mistake. As systemically important institutions tied to the lifeblood of the Canadian economy, both RBC and CIBC are highly controlled (via regulation), monitored and supported by the Canadian Government. There are so few large banks in Canada that it has to be this way. It is for the benefit of the country to have solid, stable banking institutions. 

Given that, Canadian banks are not typical cut-throat enterprises that can simply eliminate thousands of jobs without political (and public relations) repercussions.

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While I have no evidence of this, I suspect the tacit need for a government backstop factored into the consideration for avoiding layoffs. I would argue it is part of an implicit (or possibly explicit) agreement that Canadian banks can’t receive taxpayer money with one hand and push taxpayers en masse to the unemployment lines with the other.

In fact, with the extreme volatility, I wouldn’t be surprised if over the past few weeks the big Canadian banks actually received some kind of direct or indirect support from the Federal Government and Bank of Canada. Assuming government or central bank support was delivered over the past couple weeks, I also wouldn’t be surprised if it came with clear direction from the Feds that banks cannot lay anyone off this year.

If you were running the government, wouldn’t you include this clause as part of the deal?

2. Layoffs kill morale.

Even if an employee survives a round of layoffs, they’re left forever wondering if they’re next. More personally, they miss their colleagues and the new void becomes quite apparent in the office. 

Compound that with the fact that remaining staff must pick up the work of those let go. The work doesn’t stop just because there are fewer staff. Often, those remaining envy the departed. 

By the time the dust settles after a round of layoffs, many remaining staff have one foot out the door. Many will also perform worse – either by choice (due to eroded morale) or by force (because so much additional work has landed on their desk). The remaining top performers will quit, leaving only those who couldn’t find anything better.

If you were running RBC or CIBC, is this the type of organization you’d want?

3. Laid off employees take value with them.

During a period of massive layoffs, the baby is often thrown out with the bathwater. Good employees are forced out with the bad.

As employees leave, they take massive amounts of intellectual capital, forever lost by the company. Worse, these employees are often eventually re-hired by competitor firms that benefit from the intellectual capital at the expense of the firm that originally conducted the layoffs.

Intellectual capital not only refers to knowledge of history, processes or functions. It includes client relationships and other forms of intangible goodwill.

When people leave a company things break, clients are lost and elements of value are forever destroyed. This greatly reduces a firm’s capacity to actually perform, delight clients and compete.

4. There will be a time to re-hire.

Layoffs tend fluctuate with the business cycle. When times are bad companies require fewer staff. However, when business improves more staff is needed. 

Therefore, looking past the current economic recession it is inevitable that RBC and CIBC would have to re-hire staff sometime in the future, if they decided to let people go in the first place. At that time, these companies would be competing with every other employer for good talent. This would prove difficult and costly, likely impacting the ability to serve clients.

Ultimately, the solution (layoffs) to a temporary issue (recession) could result in long-term staffing and business performance problems. Given the choice, many companies therefore are better off retaining their talent throughout the cycle.

5. Layoffs are expensive.

This might seem counter-intuitive to many, but it costs money to conduct layoffs.  

For example, the cost to layoff (and eventually replace) a full time employee earning $30/hour is about $20,000 (source: calculator). This estimate isn’t all-inclusive, however. The big missing variable is severance, which can be a hefty sum depending on tenure, age, common law precedent (these companies mainly operate in Canada), etc. Severance pay can add up to 1x, 2x+ annual salaries in some cases. This is why many big companies create a large reserve to pay for planned layoffs.

In addition, there are other potential costs related to lawsuits, administration, and so on.

Clearly, it is not cheap to let staff go. When all factors are considered, layoffs are a very expensive (financially and strategically) proposition and any benefit is quickly eroded.

Final thoughts.

So when do layoffs make sense? I would argue that the organizational structure of a large company should be relatively indifferent to the business cycle. Of course there are some variable elements, but I think, whenever possible, staffing should align to long-term strategy. If a certain level of staffing isn’t required to achieve long-term goals, it might make sense at that point to cut staff.

Given these 5 points, I think the decisions made by RBC and CIBC go beyond virtue signalling and social responsibility. They make smart financial business sense. 

Get Your Free Copy of CoronaCrisis:

The Covid-19 economic crisis is gripping the world. After 20 years in the asset management business, it looks like we are fighting through unprecedented territory.

This is war. I created a 17 step, 47 page guide to help DumbWealth subscribers get through this.

I originally planned on printing the guide and selling copies for $20+. Instead I’m giving this away free because I think we all need to help each other during these difficult times.


How Will Working Life Change Post Covid-19?

Millions of people around the world are working from home. Many for the first time ever.

As it turns out, working from home is both pleasant and productive for most people. No more monster commutes, no more unnecessary meetings, no more inane water-cooler chit chat.

Even better, many people are discovering they can do their jobs in about half the time.

Also, many companies are realizing they can operate perfectly well with a smaller office footprint. The opportunity to save a ton of overhead just got real! Rent, office equipment, electricity, etc. Companies have discovered they can ‘outsource’ those costs to their employees and still run the business.

Moreover, many employers and employees are discovering they are willing to accept less pay for the work-from-home lifestyle.

It has been more than a month for many people and companies, and attitudes are shifting. Mine certainly has. But don’t take my word for it.

Here are some thoughts from fellow salary-monkeys from across Reddit:


I had three days working at home by myself before they cancelled school and it was GLORIOUS. I worked out, watched Netflix, did random tasks around the house that needed to be done and still managed the same workload as I did while I was in the office. I never want to go back.


I told my boss she’s never going to see me again.

Five days from home is absolute bliss for me. Sure, I’ll come in if there’s a pressing need for an in-person meeting, but otherwise there’s no way I’m getting dragged back into that office.


I’m going to make sure that I never put as much of myself and my life into my job again. This experience has been a massive eye opener to me.

After a couple of days working from home, I realized that my whole life revolves around my job. Obviously I need a paycheque but what I don’t need is an unnecessary, stressful commute. I don’t need to bust my ass to make up for incompetent/unwilling coworkers…not my problem, my manager’s problem. Also it’s times like this where you start to assess why your uneducated, gossipy manager who has zero work ethic or brain capacity is sitting in the salary they are. Another thing I will not be partaking in is hanging out with my colleagues after work . I’ve only done it in the past to ‘stay in the loop’ and to keep in with the ‘cool gang.’ The cool gang can now kiss my ass because they’re full of verbal diarrhea and, like my manager, only got to their position through politics and certainly not based on merit. I have to admit that I’m actually enjoying watching them struggle with this crisis. I can only hope the stress they’re under is at least a fraction of the stress that I’ve been under for the last few years from working for clowns playing at being professionals. From now on, I do what is commensurate with my paycheque and not one thing more. My employer wants me to do additional work per uze? Sure, how much will I get paid? Not in the budget? Then no can do. I’m no longer taking on additional work to keep bad employees in their overpaid positions. I’m actually hoping for a lay-off to force me into finding another job. I realize now how little I need to keep happy and am willing to take a pay cut for a new position. I could give zero hoots about what my job title is going forward because it’s all meaningless bs.


in my experience I just noticed how everyone pretended to work most of the time in the office and things can be done way quicker. However, you have to kill time in the office so you stretch things, so it looks like you are “working”.

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I am doing the exact same amount of work, the only difference is that nobody is bugging me with useless questions, asking me for help to install something in their computer (I am not IT, I am just computer savy and my coworkers know it. They ask me all the time to help them in nonsense that can be easily get resolved with a google search).

I think all that plus casual chatter will take around 2 hours of my day. Add to that pointless meetings that could have been emails and those are 3 or 4 hours of my work day gone. Now I just work for 5 hours, do the same work and so far nobody is complaining.

I do have to say that when there are deadlines and important work I sometimes work past 10pm, but that might happen twice in a month so I don’t really care.

I think work should be paid by project and not by hours. Like let say you have to work a maximum of 8h a day unless is urgent and you have to do overtime. But if you finish something in 5h you are allowed to go home with no consequences as your job for today is done.

Long story short, I used to feel bad that I didn’t work my ass off in the office sometimes, or even when the quarantine started, then I noticed nobody gives a crap and everything is still done on time even if it took me 3h to do instead of 8h.


Surprisingly, going to stay in more. I am very introverted yet I never sat still. I was always out hanging out with friends and family, buying lunches, dinners, going to bars, going for walks. I’ve realized that relaxing and watching tv and cooking and staying very on top of cleaning helps me recharge better than being out all the time. I was so drained.

Hoping to work from home more too, my commute was 2-2.5 hours of my day and the extra time will help me do things like shop and cook instead of always buying food.

I was never a big spender but I also plan to spend less money. Maybe have friends over for food and drinks instead of spending a lot of money on meh service.

Get your copy of CoronaCrisis: The 47pg guide to surviving the coronavirus economic catastrophe

The Covid-19 economic crisis is gripping the world. After 20 years in the asset management business, it looks like we are fighting through unprecedented territory.

This is war. I created a 17 step, 47 page guide to help DumbWealth subscribers get through this.

I originally planned on printing the guide and selling copies for $20+. Instead I’m giving this away free because I think we all need to help each other during these difficult times.


True Stories from the Frontlines of the Covid-19 Economic Collapse

Earlier today, billionaire entrepreneur Marc Cuban offered his services to small businesses under pressure by the coronavirus. He received hundreds of responses.

These are cries for help from small business owners as they sink below the black. These are family people supporting family people. They know every one of their employees and are forced to make heartbreaking decisions about their fate.

Below is a selection of true stories from the frontlines of the Covid-19 economic collapse:

I run a cell phone store and we are seeing lower and lower traffic counts. Our people are paid based on sales and with the low amount of traffic the idea of cutting hours and headcount is becoming more and more likely. I’m working the trenches with my people to keep morale high but at the end of the day morale won’t pay our bills. Thoughts?

My wife and I own a boutique fitness studio in NYC which was ranked as one of the best fitness studios in NYC by Financial Times and other media outlets. We tried to speak to the landlords – both are billion dollar companies about rent and they refuse to work with us. Our staff relies on us for that extra income and we are giving issues because people simply are told not to go to gyms. “At this moment we are not extending any rent relief. Unless you hear otherwise, please make sure to continue paying on account as per your lease.” We have 13 instructors and staff, which we would essentially cover for as long as we can; however we cannot offer it since the landlords won’t. Our rents are roughly $20K a month. Our entire philosophy is sweat and be push beyond your limit. We are in a growth period with no investors or debt, yet these landlords do not care. We believe it is our civic duty to cut classes and capacity even more than required. We need advice on these landlords both are billion dollar companies. They have insurance for this aspect and our insurance company has a clause that actually voids are contract for something of this sort. Thoughts?

We survived last major down turn with reducing salaries until things turned around but this is worse

We manufacture upstream parts for oil rigs in China. 23 employees Texas company. Majorly affected our business as we can not receive parts even if we sell them. Along with Coronavirus the drop in oil prices has greatly affected us as parts we DO have in stock won’t be as needed as rigs stop drilling in the U.S. We do NOT want to lay off or even reduce hours if we don’t need to but have to make some decisions here soon. We survived last major down turn with reducing salaries until things turned around but this is worse 🙁 My husband has given his life to his company and we’re sick over having to make decisions that will affect families.Any guidance is appreciated. I suggested possibly a fractional CFO to help? 

Mark my business designs and manufactures custom awards for the NCAA College Conferences; MLB teams; ESPN; Colleges and Universities and major corporations. With the cancellation of all sporting events and major conventions and conferences my business which is usually at the peak season right now has come to a screeching halt with people trying to cancel orders and no new orders. I do not see this turning around until at least the new academic year starts in the fall of 2020. In the meantime I will need to lay-off the majority of my 31 employees. Given the skill set needed it will be difficult to recover from losing my skilled labor. What would you recommend I do?

Here’s my question: if I have sent my employees home to work from home, and encouraged them to practice social responsibility and social distancing to do their part in reducing the spread of the virus. But instead you see on social media that they’re out partying with their friends in large groups. Being part of the problem, not the solution. How we can as employers enforce the right behavior? Can I as an employer take disciplinary actions? Or set some ground rules for our newly distant working relationship? Pretty soon the cities/states will shutdown and make this a legal enforcement, but I have educated my employees to do their part NOW! I wonder if Apple (who closed all stores) sent everyone home with “care for the world” packet with instructions. If they did, I’d love to read it! By the way, I run a social media agency so my employees and I are connected thru various social platforms.

I buy and sell Mobile Homes, I’m doing really good, but I have to purchase agreements for the end of this month. I guess I’m having to buy and hold since in 2 weeks the economy may be in worse shape than now and not many buyers will be willing to drop $20k-$30k for each. Or should I cancel and hold my capital. (Best case scenario, I sell them both within days/weeks and continue to build up in capital during this “recession”)

Mark, my Dad owns a small salad shop in downtown Denver and he has already laid off 3 people. Do you know how he can apply for governmental funds to help recoup his losses?

9 yrs ago I started an education resource company. We work with Schools, Libraries, and Afterschool Programs all over the World to make STEM/STEAM accessible to students from all walks of life. As you know, many schools are shutting down and could potentially cause some big challenges for our small business. We currently are running business as usual but expect the school shutdowns to slow business drastically. Any suggestions on how to “flatten the curve” for small businesses? Thanks in advance!

Mark if my company shuts down and there is a way for me to work from home, are they obligated to let me do my job at home so I can get paid and not laid off ??? I am receptionist for a law firm in NY and can have the calls forwarded to my home landline. Thank you anyway if my question does not get answered but I’m sure your helping so many !!!!

We have an award-winning Italian olive oil company. For the most part we sell only online. Our product arrived before the Coronavirus outbreak. We were planning on doing wholesale and events with local businesses in addition to e-commerce but doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. We are concerned about our e-commerce shop and launching our new products because people might be biased against italian products at the moment. Any thoughts?

Hi Mark, I own a wholesale optical frame business that will be 50 years old next year. It is a family business, and I have been in it almost 40 of those years. I have about 80 people that are on my payroll, and I consider every decision I make as affecting 80 families. While these times are very challenging, I am most concerned about the slow down of the economy and the effects on my employees. I am hoping this is a very short term situation with this virus, and I will work through this one way or another. I do not want any layoffs, if possible. I wish you and the Mavs organization a healthy future. I am a MFFL and am struggling not being able to watch my sports. Let’s all pray for the safety and health of all American citizens and those across the world that are infected by this virus.

I consider every decision I make as affecting 80 families

Dear Mark Cuban, I own an event/experiential marketing company. We design and build consumer experiences for agencies, brands, pro athletes, major sports leagues and high traffic events across America. Our business model and solutions are 100% relied on sold-out stadiums and events to drive sales, loyalty and advocacy for our clients. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on how we can save our business from going under now that all leagues and events have been cancelled.

I’m in the juice & smoothie industry. Do you think it’s smarter for me to go ahead and close or seek to strategize around it? I’m thinking of delivery and pickup only. Also thinking of discounting and shifting towards immune boosting juices & food. I’m also considering a transparent cleaning process and preparation process via video to ease concerns. I’ve had people text and say they aren’t consuming anything they don’t prepare. Also organizing my financial docs for SBA support as it becomes available.

So I am an independent tennis coach in Los Angeles, people everywhere are freaking out.. kids going online school- I can’t offer that since it’s an athletic game with repetitive motions. I am going to try to offer online knowledge, but my hunch says parents and players will say wait til this passes.

I own a small vape company with 2 locations in San Antonio. The issue with the Coronavirus has been affecting me for 2 months already now. Nearly all our products (except e-liquid) comes from China and we have been unable to get inventory since the outbreak in China came on the heels of the Chinese New Year, so it was a double whammy. Sales have been severely impacted due to the inability to acquire inventory. Unfortunately, now that inventory is finally starting to slowly flow in, customers aren’t really coming in because they either think there’s no inventory to buy, or they are social distancing themselves. Worst case scenario for us. The one thing that is NOT going away are our COSTS. Rent, lights and payroll are still there, but sales regrettably are not. Thoughts?

Dear Mr. Cuban, I own a food startup and have paid to attend the Sweets and Snacks Tradeshow in Chicago in May. We are very small and family owned. Would you recommend we still attend the show, if they hold it? Or fight to get our money back, save the expense of travel and prevent the risk of getting sick?

I am in the process of buying a duplex. Some friends told me I should proceed while interest is low, and others suggest to not; because who would live in other half at this time? Well- curious to see what you all think about investing in real estate. Would be my first time buying a home… been planning this for a year- but now I’m confused.

…my whole family depends on this company. Very scary times.

I’m a consultant, contractor, and some might say idea leader in the mass participant events industry (especially racing, especially running).  We’re dead in the water, many of us may fully go bankrupt or get out.  A community that relies on people being excited to get together in a crowd and encourage each other to be healthy and happy has had its, pun horribly intended, legs cut out from under it.    Obviously you know a thing or two about getting people to get together and have a good time at a big event – what do you see as an opportunity to leverage the reasons people go to events into something that the community can use to keep the fire alive, and support us until the (???) time that events can go on?

I’m a commercial kitchen designer that specializes in workplace dining. With everyone working from home, I am worried that companies will realize it is cheaper for them to continue this and begin closing and consolidating offices and shutting down these food programs. We were already seeing some movement toward this but thought we would have the better part of a decade before this actually happened. COVID-19 May accelerate this. How does not only my business but this industry survive especially if this becomes accelerated?

Own a sampling company in CA, all demos cancelled until further notice. Now my 300+ employees all out of work. Going to try and take loans to keep things going as long as possible. My one year old is now out of daycare and my whole family depends on this company. Very scary times.

I must say, these anecdotes are quite distressing to read. It really does seem like we’re hitting another ‘Great Recession’.

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Corporate Scapegoat: The Mid Level Executive

This is a warning to those looking to climb the corporate ladder: I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the corporate world.

Talented people start at the bottom and build their corporate careers from there. Some rise to management or mid level executive levels and take responsibility for elements of a business. If the corporation is large enough, many of these managers or mid level executives will always remain below several more layers of hierarchy. Those above them, obviously, have ultimately increasing levels of responsibility and oversight.

Many of these leaders at the top got there because they have charisma and know to keep their bosses happy. They’re also skilled at staying close to successes and distancing themselves from failures. Essentially, they’re masterful bullshitters.

As hard knowledge and intelligence are sometimes lacking, these senior executives surround themselves with smart people who help elevate them to the top. These senior executives ultimately make the big decisions and build the framework within which everyone else works.

However, charisma alone cannot run a business. Because these senior executives are frequently inept, they often create an organizational structure that makes it near-impossible to get anything of significant value done. The thick layers of bureaucracy create a stifling environment in which it’s difficult (and usually unnecessary if the ultimate goal is career preservation) to take calculated risks because every action is diluted by group think. For fear of taking accountability, bold corporate decisions are watered down and approved by committee and made comfortable by precedent.

Ultimately, because of the grinding gears of corporate bureaucracy most employees within the organization fail to get anything of real value done. The business ends up falling behind competitors.

While the leaders at the top ultimately should take the blame for material failures within their organization – after all, they built the framework, hired the personnel and set the strategy – they usually have the political clout to shift blame to a corporate scapegoat.

Enter the mid level executive.

The career mid level executive is senior enough to have significant responsibility, but not senior enough to actually drive the future of the organization. The career mid level executive never gained entry to the senior executive club. More-or-less, the mid level executive follows orders and makes the most of a shitty hand. The mid level executive sounds like he’s in charge, but he’s really a helpful pawn trying to do the right thing for the business and its customers.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again. It’s an unfortunate reality they don’t teach you about in business school.

Don’t get me wrong, these can be fantastic, hard working, smart people. They just haven’t cracked the ceiling to reach the top 1% of an org chart, in which the real decisions – and real money – are made. As a consequence, they are disposable. In contrast, senior executives are a protected class, insulated from their own inadequacy because they are expensive to fire (in terms of money and reputation) and especially skilled at shifting blame.

So when things go tits up in an organization, what happens? Mid level executives who have worked their asses off – sacrificing family and social life for their company – get fired. They become corporate scapegoats. I’ve seen this happen over and over again. It’s an unfortunate reality they don’t teach you about in business school.

Unlike other lifetime careers – like teachers, doctors or electricians – the corporate career can hit a brick wall at any time. And often, those mid-level executives who hit a brick wall in their 50s never find another job. Forcibly retired 10+ years ahead of schedule. In fact, over my career I’ve seen more older mid level executives get fired than I’ve seen voluntarily retire.

People starting a career in a corporation need to understand that these organizations are politically motivated and that career lifespans are often only 20-30 years long. If this is the track you are on, plan your life as if your career won’t last forever. Use your earnings to build net wealth and avoid lifestyle creep as you rise through the ranks. When your time comes, the right preparation will prevent you from falling into a financial black hole.

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Markets Hit Highs: So Why Are You Broke?

Mainstream media reports:

The stock markets are breaking through new highs.

The economy is ‘booming’.

Unemployment is at a record low.

Jobs numbers are ‘blockbuster’.

So why does it feel like you’ve fallen behind in life? Because you have.

According to one economist, the United States (and much of the Western world, for that matter) has been going through a ‘silent depression’ since 2007.

The following charts illustrate this perfectly.

1. The chart below compares employment growth across time. Instead of simply looking at the number of new hires, this chart illustrates new hires as a percent of the workforce. (1000 new hires means a lot less when the workforce includes 1,000,000 people than 10,000 people.) According to the chart, workforce growth significantly declined after the early 2000s recession and has remained historically low since.

Chart depicting US Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls

2. The chart below compares per capita GDP growth since 2007 against the last two economic depressions. It turns out that the silent depression has been worse than the previous two depressions. (Source: The Silent Depression, by Emil Kalinowski.)

Chart Depicting US GDP Per Capita

3. The next chart shows real median income (‘real’ accounts for the effects of inflation) in the US. Since January 1, 2007 real median incomes have only grown by 3.6% (total, not annualized!). So where did all the economic ‘gains’ reported by the media go?

4. The chart below tells the same story as the previous chart, except using average hourly wages going back 40 years. Again, real incomes have not budged.

Americans' paychecks are bigger than 40 years ago, but their purchasing power has hardly budged

5. Here’s where the gains have gone! The chart below breaks out real income growth by categories of earners. The top 10% of earners have experienced substantial growth while everyone else has remained flat. The gains have all gone to the rich.

Wage increases in the U.S. rise to the top earners

6. The following chart shows the same information as the previous chart, except in a longer timeline. Again, the top earners (especially those in the top 1%) have hoarded all the gains.

There you have it. The economy has grown. But on an individual level overall growth has not been as strong as the headlines imply. And unless you are in the upper echelon of society, none of those limited gains went to you.

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Worked to Death

I know a man – let’s call him Henry – who was a fresh b-school graduate in the mid 1990s. Henry was young, smart and he wanted to make a lot of money. So he committed his life to a career in finance.

To succeed at a singular pursuit one must be smarter and harder working than the competition. So Henry chose a well worn path that included evenings and weekends at the office. Nobody faulted him for doing so. In fact, his dedication earned him respect from friends, family and colleagues. This is a cultural phenomenon.

His dedication earned him respect from friends, family and colleagues.

What do courtroom, cop, political and hospital TV dramas all have in common? The glamorization of work!

The competence of characters in these shows is frequently hoisted to heights unattainable to the average human. Normal people must split mental and physical capacity between kids, in-laws, leaky roofs and work. Clearly these characters have nothing else happening in their lives to distract from marathon research and preparatory sessions. Unrealistic, but this model is presented as an example to live by.

For the average person, characters in these dramas might be admirable, but not feasibly aspirational. If you’re like me, you show up to work Monday morning and spend 20 minutes trying to remember what it is you do all day. In between meetings and endless impromptu distractions I’m lucky if I can focus for more than 30 minutes in a row. Because of this, if I truly wanted to get ahead in the corporate world I’d need to work outside of regular business hours, when distractions are reduced.

Luckily, I’m over the corporate world. I paid my dues long ago. I don’t aspire to rise in the ranks any further so I get my shit done and leave. This is not to say I don’t create value. I create immense value by working hard and fast within standard business hours.

I worked evenings and weekends in the early years of my career. I studied, got several degrees and accreditations and worked my ass off to grow my career. I was young and new so I had to prove myself. Of course, at that time I had no kids to come home to.

My wake up call.

After my first child was born I was still working crazy hours. One night my wife reminded me that my child was only going to be young once and that I’d regret missing her milestones. That really shook me up. I suddenly realized that I had to purposefully make time for the other parts if my life if I wanted to truly flourish as a human being.

A rich life is made up of several parts that aren’t necessarily always operating at peak levels. I still work hard – I dedicate extra time to – but work is no longer my priority. Balance is my priority.

Balance is my priority.

If I wanted to keep growing my career like my buddy Henry, I’d have to dedicate another 10 or 20 hours a week to my corporate overlords. This would require sacrifice. Henry learned this the hard way.

Throughout his life, Henry’s days and weeks consisted of breakfast meetings, working lunches, golfing, business travel and long days at the office. Even when he made it home to his wife and two children, he was preoccupied and distracted, slipping into his study to get ahead for the next day. Weekends and vacations were spent on the phone or laptop. Over a couple decades his status grew immensely and he earned a lot of money.

Henry was like a character out of a TV drama. The clothes, the cars, the vacations. His family had everything HE thought they could possibly want.

However, over the course of almost 30 years, Henry repeatedly missed birthday parties, recitals, anniversaries. More importantly, he missed the small things that don’t get Hallmark cards – homework, doctors appointments, family dinners.

While he told himself he was working 80 hour weeks for his family, this wasn’t actually true.

I once read that time is the most valuable gift you can give your children. Not iPads, not extravagant vacations, not Nike Air Force One shoes. Kids might not be able to articulate it, but the time you invest in them will build a lasting and caring relationship. As kids they will say they want the Nikes, but as adults they will remember the time spent together.

Henry’s career eventually hit a brick wall, and like many executives he was packaged out of his company. He was financially fine. Emotionally, however, he was broken. His career had steadily progressed for almost 30 years and suddenly fell off a cliff. His entire identity evaporated and Henry desperately searched for meaning.

He met with former work colleagues a couple times, but the distance between them widened as threads of connection frayed. He quickly discovered most work ‘friendships’ are built on nothing more than convenience and quid pro quo.

So he leaned on his adult children instead. However, his kids barely knew the man and dismissed him like he once did to them.

Unfortunately it gets worse.

Neglected for many years – many of which included suspected affairs – Henry’s wife finally ended the marriage. The marriage wasn’t terrible, so she waited until the kids were grown. They had always lived separate lives and didn’t really know each other the way a married couple should. She couldn’t envision Henry as part of her life because he never was.

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

The divorce hit Henry hard.

He felt betrayed, as he was still convinced everything he had sacrificed was for his and their children.

In the end, Henry lost half the assets he had worked so hard for. All those late nights dedicated to a job, only for half of what he earned to be ripped away. Worse, Henry finally realized that his true loss was not financial. It was the friendship with his children, the experiences of family life and the companionship of someone who truly has your back. Hours at the office were no substitute. And most work colleagues were not true friends.

Coworkers aren’t family and they barely qualify as friends. Who will be at Henry’s death bed? Who will still miss him 20 years after he’s dead? Definitely not Brian from accounting.

A life worth living is diverse in experience and filled with connections to people who care about your well being. Work is important. But it can’t be everything.

It’s a tough lesson for someone who made his career his entire identity and reason for living. The truth is, corporate entities don’t care. They can’t care. Public companies exist for a single immutable purpose: the shareholder. They’ll trick you into believing they care about you, but the second you’re not part of the plan you become persona non grata and you might as well have never existed.

If it weren’t for labour laws and the bad publicity, many employers would work their employees to death. Indeed, many already do in a perfectly legal way: stress. Stress has huge consequences on a person’s physical and mental health.

A life worth living is diverse in experience and filled with connections to people who care about your well being. Work is important. But it can’t be everything.

Henry is now unrecognizable, his former self destroyed by his career. He is now working to build a relationship with his children and has developed new healthy relationships. He can’t make up for what was lost, but he is making the most of what remains.

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20 Jobs with Highest Pay for Stress Ratio

A job has both an upside (salary) and downside (stress). It is important to consider both when choosing a career path.

Your aim should be to get the highest pay for a given level of stress. For example, if two jobs have the same stress level you would choose the job that pays more. (Of course, this ignores other attributes you might consider – like personal interests – but stress is a solid long term driver of life satisfaction so it is a critical consideration.)

One might naturally believe that higher stress jobs typically come with higher pay. Unfortunately, the relationship between pay and stress isn’t linear. There are many low paying highly stressful jobs, like childcare.

Are you getting properly paid for the stress you endure in your job? Are you looking to make a career change into a lower stress, but high paid job? Do you know a teenager trying to choose a rewarding career path? Read on…

I recently found two data sets: one that lists jobs by median salary (US data) and another that lists the same jobs by stress level.

The median salary data came from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. These estimates are calculated with data collected from employers in all industry sectors in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas in every state and the District of Columbia.

The stress estimates came from “Work Styles: Stress Tolerance” by the National Center for O*NET Development.

I linked the two data sets and then reconstituted the data to show salary per unit of stress for each job. I did this to provide a fair comparison to see which jobs pay better or worse for a given level of stress. This is similar to comparing the cost of different meats at the deli by calculating the price per gram.

The chart below shows the 20 jobs that compensate well, given the level of stress. Note that many of these jobs are highly skilled. With skill comes power and control, which are determining factors when it comes to job stress.

The next chart shows the 20 worst compensated jobs, given their stress levels. Note that these tend to be low skill jobs. Therefore employers value employees less and are more likely to treat them like garbage…causing stress.

There are plenty more jobs than just the top and bottom 20. For your enjoyment I’ve included the full list below.

OccupationStress RankingMedian SalarySalary per unit of Stress
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons94$242,370$2,578
Obstetricians and Gynecologists97$238,320$2,457
Family and General Practitioners88$211,780$2,407
Dentists, General79$175,840$2,226
Petroleum Engineers72$156,370$2,172
Chief Executives94$200,140$2,129
Internists, General94$196,490$2,090
Pediatricians, General88$183,240$2,082
Marketing Managers75$147,240$1,963
Computer and Information Systems Managers79$152,860$1,935
Materials Scientists53$102,450$1,933
Political Scientists61$115,300$1,890
Chemical Engineers61$114,470$1,877
Computer and Information Research Scientists66$123,850$1,877
Economics Teachers, Postsecondary63$117,180$1,860
Natural Sciences Managers77$139,680$1,814
Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers95$169,560$1,785
Nurse Anesthetists98$174,790$1,784
Architectural and Engineering Managers84$148,970$1,773
Software Developers, Applications61$108,080$1,772
Compensation and Benefits Managers75$132,860$1,771
Computer Hardware Engineers67$117,840$1,759
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers63$107,800$1,711
Law Teachers, Postsecondary78$130,710$1,676
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers79$131,570$1,665
Purchasing Managers76$125,630$1,653
Sales Managers88$140,320$1,595
Materials Engineers61$96,930$1,589
Advertising and Promotions Managers84$133,090$1,584
Nuclear Engineers70$110,790$1,583
Personal Financial Advisors77$121,770$1,581
Biochemists and Biophysicists67$105,940$1,581
Computer Network Architects71$111,130$1,565
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary80$122,320$1,529
Training and Development Managers80$121,730$1,522
Software Developers, Systems Software75$114,000$1,520
Art Directors69$104,590$1,516
Biomedical Engineers63$95,090$1,509
Aerospace Engineers78$117,100$1,501
General and Operations Managers83$123,880$1,493
Physics Teachers, Postsecondary71$103,830$1,462
Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary78$113,680$1,457
Operations Research Analysts61$88,350$1,448
Human Resources Managers88$126,700$1,440
Electronics Engineers, Except Computer76$107,930$1,420
Information Security Analysts73$102,470$1,404
Sales Engineers78$108,610$1,392
Medical and Health Services Managers82$113,730$1,387
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists79$109,030$1,380
Geography Teachers, Postsecondary65$88,950$1,368
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary75$101,890$1,359
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists71$96,420$1,358
Education Administrators, Postsecondary82$111,210$1,356
Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers73$98,420$1,348
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates90$121,130$1,346
Environmental Engineers69$92,640$1,343
Air Traffic Controllers91$120,830$1,328
Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary70$92,550$1,322
Civil Engineers71$93,720$1,320
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists52$68,340$1,314
Nurse Practitioners84$110,030$1,310
Construction Managers79$103,110$1,305
Electrical Engineers78$101,600$1,303
Food Scientists and Technologists56$72,570$1,296
Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary68$87,140$1,281
Industrial Production Managers89$113,370$1,274
Architecture Teachers, Postsecondary78$99,320$1,273
Mechanical Engineers74$92,800$1,254
Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary77$96,200$1,249
Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary74$92,360$1,248
Business Teachers, Postsecondary83$103,330$1,245
Database Administrators74$92,030$1,244
Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School80$98,750$1,234
Administrative Services Managers86$106,050$1,233
Physician Assistants88$108,430$1,232
Computer Programmers73$89,580$1,227
Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary80$97,340$1,217
Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary68$82,420$1,212
Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary76$91,330$1,202
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers85$101,210$1,191
Agricultural Engineers67$79,090$1,180
Commercial and Industrial Designers61$71,430$1,171
Nurse Midwives93$106,910$1,150
Commercial Pilots84$96,530$1,149
Financial Analysts88$100,990$1,148
Film and Video Editors76$86,830$1,143
Computer Systems Analysts82$93,610$1,142
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products81$91,830$1,134
Political Science Teachers, Postsecondary88$99,480$1,130
Atmospheric and Space Scientists85$95,580$1,124
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health69$77,580$1,124
Nuclear Power Reactor Operators85$95,310$1,121
Industrial Engineers82$91,630$1,117
Education Teachers, Postsecondary66$73,680$1,116
Financial Examiners81$90,310$1,115
Ship Engineers68$75,710$1,113
History Teachers, Postsecondary76$83,990$1,105
Physical Therapists81$88,880$1,097
Architects, Except Landscape and Naval81$88,860$1,097
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Teachers, Postsecondary78$85,450$1,096
Technical Writers69$75,500$1,094
Network and Computer Systems Administrators80$87,070$1,088
Management Analysts87$94,390$1,085
Credit Analysts76$82,300$1,083
Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators49$53,030$1,082
Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary84$90,890$1,082
Occupational Therapists80$85,350$1,067
Genetic Counselors76$80,860$1,064
Dental Hygienists71$75,500$1,063
Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic53$56,300$1,062
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary78$82,560$1,058
Radiation Therapists82$86,730$1,058
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary84$88,490$1,053
Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary90$94,080$1,045
Multimedia Artists and Animators75$78,230$1,043
Fashion Designers84$87,610$1,043
Power Distributors and Dispatchers82$85,340$1,041
Soil and Plant Scientists68$70,630$1,039
Speech-Language Pathologists78$80,700$1,035
Broadcast News Analysts89$91,990$1,034
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers68$70,240$1,033
Elevator Installers and Repairers77$79,370$1,031
Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary81$83,310$1,029
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists66$67,760$1,027
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists73$74,940$1,027
Web Developers74$75,580$1,021
Insurance Underwriters76$76,880$1,012
Funeral Service Managers93$93,820$1,009
First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers84$84,600$1,007
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay80$80,040$1,001
Budget Analysts80$79,830$998
Emergency Management Directors83$82,570$995
Gaming Managers86$85,260$991
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives94$93,100$990
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists72$70,960$986
Library Science Teachers, Postsecondary77$75,450$980
Patternmakers, Wood61$59,650$978
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes93$90,930$978
Communications Teachers, Postsecondary80$78,090$976
Landscape Architects75$73,160$975
Power Plant Operators80$78,030$975
Signal and Track Switch Repairers70$67,800$969
Athletes and Sports Competitors90$87,030$967
Animal Scientists70$67,690$967
English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary81$78,150$965
Home Economics Teachers, Postsecondary80$77,170$965
Nuclear Medicine Technologists82$78,870$962
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary85$81,350$957
Chemical Technicians54$51,670$957
Mine Shuttle Car Operators59$56,150$952
Rail Car Repairers59$56,020$949
Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary82$77,520$945
Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary84$79,160$942
Urban and Regional Planners81$76,240$941
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products74$69,480$939
Control and Valve Installers and Repairers, Except Mechanical Door62$57,890$934
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters71$66,080$931
Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers76$70,630$929
Roof Bolters, Mining64$59,090$923
Orthotists and Prosthetists80$73,860$923
Insurance Appraisers, Auto Damage71$65,510$923
Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators62$57,120$921
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians71$65,230$919
Judicial Law Clerks65$59,540$916
Construction and Building Inspectors69$63,150$915
Structural Iron and Steel Workers64$58,170$909
Postmasters and Mail Superintendents85$77,040$906
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists75$67,910$905
Gas Plant Operators79$71,470$905
Locomotive Engineers74$66,920$904
Loan Officers85$76,270$897
Mechanical Engineering Technicians65$58,240$896
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians77$68,970$896
Avionics Technicians73$65,330$895
Wind Turbine Service Technicians65$58,000$892
Survey Researchers71$63,240$891
Real Estate Brokers89$78,940$887
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary82$72,390$883
Farm Labor Contractors60$52,930$882
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers80$70,540$882
Pile-Driver Operators73$64,360$882
Recreation and Fitness Studies Teachers, Postsecondary82$72,190$880
Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators73$63,690$872
Insurance Sales Agents78$67,890$870
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists83$72,230$870
First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers74$64,340$869
Training and Development Specialists75$65,120$868
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health58$50,350$868
Hoist and Winch Operators65$56,390$868
Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants71$61,550$867
Locomotive Firers80$69,030$863
Cost Estimators81$69,710$861
Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers65$55,530$854
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators58$49,490$853
Fire Inspectors73$62,030$850
Crane and Tower Operators69$58,160$843
Computer Network Support Specialists81$68,050$840
Dietitians and Nutritionists73$61,210$838
Brickmasons and Blockmasons65$54,430$837
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers86$71,730$834
Instructional Coordinators81$67,490$833
Labor Relations Specialists85$70,730$832
Registered Nurses91$75,510$830
Couriers and Messengers37$30,620$828
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers90$73,860$821
Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Motion Picture76$61,750$813
Sheet Metal Workers65$52,710$811
Chemical Plant and System Operators76$61,570$810
Mechanical Drafters73$59,010$808
Floor Layers, Except Carpet, Wood, and Hard Tiles58$46,760$806
Industrial Machinery Mechanics67$54,000$806
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers85$68,350$804
Electro-Mechanical Technicians75$60,240$803
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, Transportation Equipment77$61,460$798
Social and Community Service Managers90$71,670$796
Sailors and Marine Oilers58$46,180$796
Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors73$58,110$796
Public Relations Specialists86$68,440$796
Refractory Materials Repairers, Except Brickmasons66$52,510$796
Health Educators75$59,660$795
Occupational Therapy Assistants76$60,410$795
Loading Machine Operators, Underground Mining65$51,450$792
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators92$72,760$791
Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators75$58,890$785
First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers89$69,320$779
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians71$55,270$778
Airfield Operations Specialists73$56,760$778
Human Resources Specialists86$66,790$777
Transit and Railroad Police96$74,450$776
Door-To-Door Sales Workers, News and Street Vendors, and Related Workers44$34,120$775
Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance93$72,030$775
Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines69$53,370$773
Exercise Physiologists71$54,760$771
Cutters and Trimmers, Hand41$31,600$771
Physical Therapist Assistants75$57,750$770
Model Makers, Metal and Plastic74$56,920$769
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment77$59,210$769
Plasterers and Stucco Masons62$47,610$768
Continuous Mining Machine Operators71$54,470$767
Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators67$51,250$765
Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line Installers75$57,080$761
Graphic Designers72$54,680$759
Paralegals and Legal Assistants72$54,500$757
Animal Breeders57$43,080$756
Advertising Sales Agents84$63,360$754
Solar Photovoltaic Installers61$46,010$754
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School83$62,570$754
Highway Maintenance Workers55$41,440$753
Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders52$39,160$753
Medical Equipment Repairers70$52,710$753
Floor Sanders and Finishers53$39,890$753
Radiologic Technologists82$61,540$750
Travel Agents57$42,720$749
Fabric Menders, Except Garment45$33,550$746
Tool and Die Makers72$53,650$745
Industrial Engineering Technicians79$58,860$745
Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers66$49,170$745
Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary79$58,520$741
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education87$64,340$740
Civil Engineering Technicians74$54,670$739
Sound Engineering Technicians86$63,500$738
Terrazzo Workers and Finishers64$47,230$738
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas77$56,740$737
Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining72$52,780$733
Mine Cutting and Channeling Machine Operators67$49,080$733
Museum Technicians and Conservators64$46,870$732
Model Makers, Wood72$52,590$730
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators80$58,370$730
Layout Workers, Metal and Plastic65$47,380$729
Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers81$59,000$728
Massage Therapists63$45,880$728
Wellhead Pumpers74$53,870$728
Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators67$48,680$727
Statistical Assistants69$50,110$726
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents84$60,500$720
Dredge Operators66$47,500$720
Grinding, Lapping, Polishing, and Buffing Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic51$36,690$719
Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers76$54,670$719
Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers76$54,640$719
Forensic Science Technicians87$62,490$718
Tile and Marble Setters64$45,950$718
Set and Exhibit Designers85$61,020$718
Audio-Visual and Multimedia Collections Specialists73$52,270$716
Subway and Streetcar Operators88$62,970$716
First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers83$59,340$715
Legal Secretaries70$50,040$715
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School88$62,810$714
Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers72$51,380$714
Environmental Engineering Technicians77$54,800$712
Watch Repairers63$44,830$712
Mechanical Door Repairers61$43,350$711
Social Science Research Assistants71$50,420$710
Private Detectives and Investigators80$56,810$710
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School92$65,320$710
Special Education Teachers, Preschool87$61,610$708
Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters53$37,460$707
Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic63$44,490$706
Painters, Transportation Equipment66$46,460$704
Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners59$41,530$704
Farm and Home Management Advisors75$52,700$703
Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders63$44,140$701
Postal Service Mail Carriers74$51,780$700
Gas Compressor and Gas Pumping Station Operators90$62,900$699
Craft Artists58$40,490$698
Engine and Other Machine Assemblers65$45,330$697
Maintenance Workers, Machinery70$48,720$696
Radio, Cellular, and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers81$56,340$696
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School91$63,110$694
Commercial Divers86$59,470$692
Chemical Equipment Operators and Tenders74$51,070$690
Insulation Workers, Floor, Ceiling, and Wall61$42,070$690
Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks67$46,110$688
Proofreaders and Copy Markers61$41,950$688
Rock Splitters, Quarry52$35,760$688
Interior Designers86$59,120$687
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers69$47,350$686
Court Reporters91$62,390$686
Food Service Managers86$58,960$686
Special Education Teachers, Middle School94$64,390$685
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians86$58,730$683
Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians62$42,330$683
Insulation Workers, Mechanical78$53,180$682
Computer User Support Specialists81$55,050$680
Hearing Aid Specialists82$55,650$679
Real Estate Sales Agents91$61,720$678
Furniture Finishers50$33,850$677
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education92$62,200$676
First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers76$51,280$675
Metal-Refining Furnace Operators and Tenders62$41,810$674
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education92$62,030$674
Maintenance and Repair Workers, General61$41,020$672
Aircraft Cargo Handling Supervisors82$55,110$672
Respiratory Therapists93$62,500$672
Tool Grinders, Filers, and Sharpeners61$40,890$670
Lodging Managers93$62,270$670
Drilling and Boring Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic62$41,490$669
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors90$60,160$668
Traffic Technicians76$50,700$667
Fish and Game Wardens89$59,260$666
Paving, Surfacing, and Tamping Equipment Operators67$44,360$662
Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas72$47,570$661
Postal Service Clerks77$50,860$661
Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters80$52,780$660
Desktop Publishers71$46,750$658
Carpet Installers68$44,550$655
Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas73$47,630$652
Biological Technicians74$48,060$649
Computer Operators72$46,750$649
Medical Appliance Technicians65$42,180$649
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education90$58,370$649
Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Directors89$57,620$647
Multiple Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic58$37,510$647
Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic56$36,180$646
Reporters and Correspondents86$55,530$646
Marriage and Family Therapists84$54,150$645
Driver/Sales Workers46$29,610$644
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers71$45,570$642
Agricultural Inspectors72$45,970$638
Helpers–Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters57$36,390$638
Roustabouts, Oil and Gas63$40,220$638
Meter Readers, Utilities70$44,640$638
Cutting and Slicing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders56$35,700$638
Motorboat Operators79$50,350$637
Automotive Body and Related Repairers73$46,460$636
Brokerage Clerks85$53,940$635
Crushing, Grinding, and Polishing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders60$38,060$634
Production, Planning, and Expediting Clerks79$50,020$633
Broadcast Technicians74$46,770$632
Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loaders67$42,330$632
Pourers and Casters, Metal63$39,670$630
Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders52$32,740$630
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors71$44,580$628
Helpers–Extraction Workers60$37,660$628
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic67$41,960$626
Grinding and Polishing Workers, Hand51$31,900$625
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists94$58,790$625
Credit Counselors80$49,820$623
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists79$49,150$622
Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners63$39,110$621
Interpreters and Translators89$55,230$621
Farm Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians68$42,190$620
Patternmakers, Metal and Plastic76$47,130$620
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians71$44,010$620
Audio and Video Equipment Technicians79$48,940$619
Computer, Automated Teller, and Office Machine Repairers66$40,880$619
Adhesive Bonding Machine Operators and Tenders58$35,850$618
Tax Preparers76$46,860$617
Camera and Photographic Equipment Repairers69$42,540$617
Outdoor Power Equipment and Other Small Engine Mechanics60$36,940$616
Flight Attendants92$56,630$616
Healthcare Social Workers95$58,470$615
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers80$49,180$615
Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters68$41,640$612
Hazardous Materials Removal Workers77$47,050$611
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers69$42,010$609
Shoe and Leather Workers and Repairers49$29,800$608
Forest and Conservation Technicians66$40,110$608
Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation63$38,210$607
Painting, Coating, and Decorating Workers56$33,960$606
Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, and Kettle Operators and Tenders67$40,610$606
Foundry Mold and Coremakers61$36,820$604
Recreational Therapists84$50,640$603
Construction Laborers67$40,350$602
Heat Treating Equipment Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic65$39,050$601
Radio and Television Announcers86$51,630$600
Child, Family, and School Social Workers83$49,760$600
Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers81$48,540$599
Tire Builders76$45,530$599
Respiratory Therapy Technicians86$51,380$597
Medical Transcriptionists61$36,350$596
Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping70$41,620$595
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks71$42,110$593
Fiberglass Laminators and Fabricators61$36,170$593
Chefs and Head Cooks88$52,160$593
Self-Enrichment Education Teachers76$44,960$592
Costume Attendants78$46,010$590
Painters, Construction and Maintenance73$43,050$590
Logging Equipment Operators71$41,840$589
Bridge and Lock Tenders81$47,660$588
Motorcycle Mechanics67$39,260$586
Paper Goods Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders69$40,320$584
Cargo and Freight Agents79$46,070$583
Forging Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic70$40,770$582
Recreational Vehicle Service Technicians69$40,090$581
Cooks, Private Household71$41,240$581
Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program93$53,990$581
Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity77$44,650$580
Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic71$41,090$579
Opticians, Dispensing69$39,930$579
Home Appliance Repairers71$41,020$578
Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals50$28,840$577
Rolling Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic71$40,790$575
Electric Motor, Power Tool, and Related Repairers80$45,770$572
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists87$49,610$570
Machine Feeders and Offbearers56$31,710$566
Log Graders and Scalers69$39,060$566
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners95$53,730$566
Textile Bleaching and Dyeing Machine Operators and Tenders53$29,930$565
Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks62$34,980$564
Surgical Technologists87$49,040$564
Electronic Home Entertainment Equipment Installers and Repairers71$39,800$561
Office Machine Operators, Except Computer62$34,530$557
Tree Trimmers and Pruners73$40,510$555
Extruding and Drawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic66$36,620$555
Semiconductor Processors72$39,810$553
Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators66$36,480$553
Directors, Religious Activities and Education85$46,980$553
Loan Interviewers and Clerks75$41,310$551
Prepress Technicians and Workers77$42,240$549
Electronic Equipment Installers and Repairers, Motor Vehicles67$36,750$549
Coaches and Scouts80$43,870$548
Athletic Trainers90$49,280$548
Dental Laboratory Technicians79$43,180$547
Procurement Clerks79$43,180$547
First-Line Supervisors of Housekeeping and Janitorial Workers79$43,150$546
Agricultural Equipment Operators60$32,620$544
Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers67$36,370$543
Word Processors and Typists76$41,160$542
Correspondence Clerks72$38,990$542
Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products49$26,510$541
Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs86$46,480$540
Pump Operators, Except Wellhead Pumpers88$47,510$540
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers92$49,630$539
Cooling and Freezing Equipment Operators and Tenders65$34,520$531
Fence Erectors71$37,650$530
Community Health Workers82$43,480$530
Woodworking Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Except Sawing59$31,110$527
Pest Control Workers72$37,950$527
Security Guards61$32,050$525
Correctional Officers and Jailers94$49,300$524
Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers71$36,920$520
Demonstrators and Product Promoters64$33,260$520
Extruding, Forming, Pressing, and Compacting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders71$36,800$518
Etchers and Engravers67$34,550$516
Cabinetmakers and Bench Carpenters71$36,580$515
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians67$34,490$515
Extruding and Forming Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Synthetic and Glass Fibers69$35,500$514
Printing Press Operators75$38,470$513
Helpers–Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Stucco Masons62$31,720$512
Coil Winders, Tapers, and Finishers72$36,610$508
Parking Enforcement Workers83$42,200$508
Radio Operators88$44,710$508
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive75$38,030$507
Print Binding and Finishing Workers69$34,850$505
Plating and Coating Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic69$34,830$505
Food and Tobacco Roasting, Baking, and Drying Machine Operators and Tenders65$32,730$504
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses94$47,050$501
Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators70$34,910$499
Forest and Conservation Workers63$31,320$497
Locksmiths and Safe Repairers88$43,740$497
First-Line Supervisors of Personal Service Workers84$41,710$497
Bill and Account Collectors77$38,220$496
Dispatchers, Except Police, Fire, and Ambulance87$42,940$494
Coating, Painting, and Spraying Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders74$36,510$493
New Accounts Clerks75$37,000$493
Transportation Security Screeners85$41,860$492
Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic69$33,950$492
Dental Assistants81$39,770$491
Helpers–Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Workers64$31,390$490
Weighers, Measurers, Checkers, and Samplers, Recordkeeping70$34,100$487
Graduate Teaching Assistants75$36,390$485
Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors84$40,560$483
File Clerks71$33,810$476
Public Address System and Other Announcers82$39,040$476
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners61$28,950$475
Customer Service Representatives77$36,470$474
Helpers–Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters69$32,570$472
Order Clerks76$35,790$471
Animal Trainers75$35,260$470
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers96$45,080$470
Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks89$41,730$469
Butchers and Meat Cutters71$33,210$468
Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan76$35,520$467
Mixing and Blending Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders85$39,360$463
Library Technicians78$36,080$463
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers67$30,940$462
Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders66$30,470$462
Floral Designers63$28,900$459
Medical Secretaries81$37,090$458
Conveyor Operators and Tenders77$35,110$456
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians84$38,220$455
Parts Salespersons75$34,080$454
Medical Equipment Preparers84$37,990$452
Office Clerks, General78$35,200$451
Rehabilitation Counselors89$39,930$449
Cleaning, Washing, and Metal Pickling Equipment Operators and Tenders74$33,090$447
Gaming Surveillance Officers and Gaming Investigators81$36,200$447
Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers97$43,290$446
Food Batchmakers72$32,090$446
Bus Drivers, School or Special Client75$33,390$445
Motion Picture Projectionists58$25,820$445
Helpers–Production Workers66$29,380$445
Sewers, Hand67$29,510$440
Mail Clerks and Mail Machine Operators, Except Postal Service73$32,040$439
Library Assistants, Clerical66$28,960$439
Dietetic Technicians69$30,130$437
Textile Cutting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders68$29,440$433
Skincare Specialists84$36,350$433
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists70$30,190$431
Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers74$31,850$430
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians83$35,560$428
Manufactured Building and Mobile Home Installers77$32,910$427
Coin, Vending, and Amusement Machine Servicers and Repairers86$36,390$423
Food Cooking Machine Operators and Tenders75$31,690$423
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers86$36,190$421
Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment64$26,900$420
Psychiatric Technicians90$37,760$420
Animal Control Workers92$38,490$418
Crossing Guards77$31,970$415
Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Workers59$24,480$415
Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers83$34,330$414
Textile Winding, Twisting, and Drawing Out Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders72$29,660$412
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand75$30,890$412
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics92$37,760$410
Pharmacy Technicians83$34,020$410
Sewing Machine Operators66$26,990$409
Baggage Porters and Bellhops67$26,990$403
Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and Trimmers69$27,790$403
Social and Human Service Assistants89$35,830$403
Telephone Operators98$39,360$402
Tire Repairers and Changers74$29,530$399
Occupational Therapy Aides82$32,580$397
Medical Assistants87$34,540$397
Shoe Machine Operators and Tenders76$30,110$396
Packers and Packagers, Hand67$26,490$395
Sawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Wood79$31,200$395
Retail Salespersons72$28,310$393
Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials93$36,440$392
Manicurists and Pedicurists66$25,860$392
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education88$34,410$391
Counter and Rental Clerks80$31,200$390
Pharmacy Aides75$29,190$389
Food Preparation Workers64$24,830$388
Locker Room, Coatroom, and Dressing Room Attendants69$26,720$387
Gaming Cage Workers75$28,980$386
Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service81$31,290$386
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians77$29,010$377
Bicycle Repairers81$30,290$374
Data Entry Keyers91$33,740$371
Funeral Attendants77$28,480$370
Slaughterers and Meat Packers77$28,450$369
Cooks, Fast Food62$22,650$365
Gaming and Sports Book Writers and Runners76$27,640$364
Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers65$23,610$363
Receptionists and Information Clerks85$30,350$357
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs80$28,450$356
Parking Lot Attendants71$25,130$354
Physical Therapist Aides81$28,500$352
Teacher Assistants82$28,750$351
Automotive and Watercraft Service Attendants74$25,940$351
Residential Advisors86$29,970$348
Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers69$23,950$347
Food Servers, Nonrestaurant73$24,980$342
Cooks, Restaurant81$27,580$340
Transportation Attendants, Except Flight Attendants90$30,640$340
Lifeguards, Ski Patrol, and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers72$24,420$339
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria84$28,290$337
Psychiatric Aides93$31,090$334
Recreation Workers85$28,310$333
Waiters and Waitresses78$25,830$331
Cooks, Short Order76$25,140$331
Amusement and Recreation Attendants72$23,460$326
Nursing Assistants91$29,580$325
Gaming Change Persons and Booth Cashiers87$27,220$313
Nonfarm Animal Caretakers83$25,890$312
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers92$28,690$312
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners83$25,570$308
Personal Care Aides83$25,090$302
Home Health Aides84$25,330$302
Pressers, Textile, Garment, and Related Materials80$24,060$301
Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop78$23,260$298
Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks87$25,130$289
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food78$22,140$284
Childcare Workers87$24,610$283
Gaming Dealers84$23,070$275
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop85$23,240$273
Wealth Work

Tales of the Working Poor

Perhaps you make $75k. Or perhaps you and your spouse make a combined $100k+. It sounds like a lot when you say it out loud. It’s probably more than you ever imagined you’d be making when you were a kid.

So why are you always broke?

You are not alone. Especially if you live near a big city like Toronto or Vancouver or are a recent college graduate. This is a real problem and it’s going to have lasting impacts on society.

Here are some real tales of the working poor in Canada, as described by a variety of Reddit users:

User: timhortonsbitchass

I left a really long, thought out comment agreeing with you and giving my own experience of how it’s getting impossible to keep up. Then I remembered what sub were on and remembered that I was basically just inviting people to nitpick every decision I’ve ever made, gaslight me about my costs and life circumstances, and tell me I’m a big dumb moron who spends too much on rent when I should just move to ass-nowhere Saskatchewan and somehow keep my high salary, and a lavish spendthrift for having a 2014 used Toyota instead of a 2004.

You’re not crazy. Things are getting more expensive and a middle class lifestyle more unattainable. Read the newspaper, countless articles will explain the evidence. Many people are still thriving despite this, and this sub will act like those thriving people are 100% of non-idiots. But please trust that you’re not alone, and it very likely is not “all your fault”.

What is all about?

User: mhermetz

I posted a topic maybe a month ago wondering how people are not in massive debt just to live. It turned into a mix bag of “Your family is not making enough (140k combined)” to “How do you have a carpayment that’s over $300?!?! Are you insane”. No I’m not. It’s called a family of 4 with a dog. Ooh forgot the other thing. A few actually wanted me to put down my dog for savings.

All the while they all forgot I said I was doing fine. Needed to be careful because wife is on mat leave but we’re fine. The missed completely the point that we are making 140k a year and needed to be careful. How the fuck are people single or making less than that doing it??

I’m strongly starting to believe Canada is in for a major crash in the near future. This is not sustainable.

User: OldnBorin

It’s friggin nuts. My husband and I make a lot of money (currently) and I still can’t believe how much basic things like groceries cost. How can the average Canadian family afford to follow Canada’s food guide?? A half pint of blueberries costs $6! My 4 yr old can pound that back in about 5 minutes.

Seriously, if anyone has any tips of feeding a family healthy foods for cheap, I’m all ears.

User: dexzappa

This sounds strangely familiar. Family of 3 with 2 cats. Income is a little higher, but wife is also on mat leave. If we’re both working full time, it’s probably 185K or so, but with daycare costs. Car payment is thankfully only around for another 14 months at $425 per month. It’s a nice, but not fancy sedan. Bought a house 4 and half years ago, value’s up 200K or so. No other debt. GTA – sort of I guess.

We’re not struggling, but it’s not easy, and have areas we can cut down on, dining out went down, but baby food / diapers etc. costs went up, still can save a little every month for RRSP’s and TFSA’s, but everything I read, I keep seeing us in the 15-20% highest income, 15-20% highest net worth families, and I’m just wondering as to how half the population with much lower incomes, similar / slightly lower housing costs and many of the same costs is getting by. Many friends – they’re living a little more frugal but similar lifestyles, but their income is so much lower – I don’t know how they make it work.

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User: CrankyCanuck92

I’m 27 single, work at auto plant just outside of the GTA, live in the Niagara region. Hour long commute both ways, more if there’s traffic. Make $27/hr now will make 34ish in 5 more years. Make $55k+ depending on how much overtime I work. Shift work 2 weeks alternating 6am-4:30, 5:30pm-4am. I live a one bedroom basement apartment $1100 a month. Drive an 08 Ford Focus I paid cash for. Other necessary expenses are auto insurance, internet, cell phone, gas and groceries. I don’t really buy things I don’t need, have no social life so I don’t go out. Don’t buy expensive brand name clothes or anything like that. Work come home, shower eat , chill for an hour or two then go to sleep and repeat.

I have a good job but I don’t know how people making $15 an hour are affording to live and raise kids etc.

User: MagnaCumLoudly

I thought I was the only one but every time I say something in Canadian boards I get these super anal people dissecting every word.

I left Canada a while ago and basically kept on saying that I couldn’t make ends meet there and I’m an engineer. Well you can imagine the reaction here.

I did everything right. I bought a used car, I bought a fixer upper house, I did the renovations. I did all the maintenance on my own car. I would almost never go out to eat or drink. No cable or phone line. Just home internet, Netflix, and a cell phone. When I looked at my finances I could see I would never reach retirement. At least I had no debt. But the bottom line is the income is subsistence salary and the taxes are heavy. The house would take forever to pay off and retirement was gonna be frugal living for the rest of my days.

I know it’s not an option for everyone but I don’t see much opportunity in Canada if you can find a job elsewhere jump ship. Canadians have a good rep in the world and the passport will give you access to most countries. Doesn’t even have to be the US. Europe or Asia has great opportunities.

User: gypsyblue

I left Canada for Germany more than four years ago, and my single regret is not jumping ship sooner, because I would have saved myself YEARS of financial struggle. I will always be happy to have grown up in Canada, but as a young adult starting out on your own, it’s brutal. I’m sure it’s great if you have a family that can put you through university (or let you live at home through university) and help you with a downpayment, but if you don’t have that, this country just throws you under the bus.

My standard of living in Berlin is so much higher than my standard of living in Vancouver that it’s crazy. As a grad student, I was living comfortably on a (German) government scholarship and part-time research job. In Canada, I had scholarships and a part-time job and still took on close to $30k of student debt. (Which sounds literally unbelievable to my German friends, who have never paid tuition, and benefited from quite generous government support to attend university if their parents were unable to cover the full cost.)

Now as a graduate in Germany I make good money and pay about 1/6 of my net income for rent. I get 30 days of paid vacation per year, plus the statutory holidays, and travel all the time because it’s so cheap. Groceries are cheap, going out is cheap, there’s no need to own a car, and my employer even pays for my transit pass. Taxes, health insurance, and social contributions are much higher but the trade-off is so worth it.

If I could go back in time, I’d tell my 18yo self to get my ass out of BC. I grew up there and love it, but the financial pain of living there as a young person was just not worth it.

User: dowdymeatballs

I’m somewhere in this description; solidly in the middle class and on the verge of “thriving”. But I still budget and I still have to cut costs.

The thing is, I’m actually mid to senior level employee at a Toronto based consultancy and my spouse is an executive level employee for christ sake. We should be rich as fuck, but we’re not. We’re solidly middle class.

Therefore now I think, what the fuck are all the other middle class workers doing who aren’t making 6 figures? Again on paper they should be fine, but there’s no way they can be, because I’m literally clipping coupons and price matching on Flipp App.

We both drive 10 year old cars. We mostly eat at home. We barely drink alcohol. We shop around our insurance every year. We shop around our mortgage. We use free banking. We do most things people think of as frugal. But the one place we spend is on our house. We have a 2 year old and want something nice for our family.

This is not a woe is me post, we’ll be fine. But my post is more of a what the fuck does this mean for everyone else who should be ok, but are falling further and further behind middle class. It’s very unfair, and quite scary as to how this will all end.

The world is fucking nuts and it’s honestly way harder for younger generations who are trying to get a start in life.

User: timhortonsbitchass

I’m a young millennial and I actually earn a pretty good salary for my age (25, $70k), and my husband is almost finished his software engineering degree, which should garner some good job offers. But we still live in a crummy basement studio (300sqft) and drive a used Yaris. Neither of us drink at all (I’m allergic, so it’s less virtuous than it sounds lmao), I’m an avid home cook, and we have only ever been on one vacation, a domestic road trip. If my husband gets a junior developer job he can expect to maybe pull in $60k, $70k at best, and we’ll be able to upgrade to a one bedroom. Which will be great. But we still can’t buy a house. And people on this sub act like every software development grad gets a $100k salary the day they write their last exam.

From what I’ve seen, the way most millennials earning less than us make ends meet is by living with their parents. Every single one of my friends lives with their parents — and that sample includes a geologic engineer, an electrical engineer, and a sous chef at a fancy restaurant. All of my young coworkers (finance) also live with their parents.

User: AL_12345

You’ve got to love how they say that Millenials can “catch up” by getting inheritances from their parents and saving… 🤔🙄

I know my parents are planning to reverse mortgage and use it all up before they die. I have friends whose parents plan to do the same. Thanks boomers! (My parents received a large inheritance, so they were happy to receive it, but they’re selfish and don’t plan to pass any on) 🤷

One of my biggest goals is to plan better for my own kids. RESP’s and try to set them up so they’re able to get a good start. I expect that they’ll be forced to continue to live at home until late 20s or 30s and I want them to feel as comfortable living at home as young adults and build some autonomy even while living at home.

My parents made my life hell while I lived at home until my mid-twenties. They treated me like a child and didn’t give me any space. I think we’ll be moving towards multigenerational households if housing prices continue to rise.

User: crfulton2019

We’re in our late 30s. Between wasting our 20s on college/university and wracking up student debts, only to get minimum wage jobs for years. We finally got to a decent wage/career….but we still make less than $100k between us. Add in childcare for 2 and we’re barely breathing. It’s just ridiculous, and I can’t even imagine how anyone with children can survive on the minimum wage. With rising prices on everything from food, to housing to childcare. It’s only getting worse. Keep hearing about how “amazing” the economy is doing…I don’t see the struggle getting any better! Thank you for your post and letting me vent!!

User: MissJayMo

I am half of a dual income no kids family in a generally LCOL area. We are both professional engineers, and are 5-6yr out of school. We are saving for a house and every year prices go up, and up and up. It sometimes confuses me how we (generally bringing in over $150k) are getting priced out of the market. Sometimes I think, if we are getting priced out, how the hell is ANYONE buying a house these days.

User: PUnitThugLife

My wife and I are around the same income level and upgraded from a condo to a starter house 3 years ago. The condo mortgage is too far underwater to sell it ( bought in 2007 Edmonton) so we are reluctant landlords. We are paying out of pocket $80/ month as long as we have a renter, which is workable, but not really what we expected when we bought a condo. Months we don’t have a renter its zero extracurricular activities and KD and /or hot dogs several times a week.

We don’t live an overly extravagant lifestyle but man the costs of homeownership really wear on you after a while. Hot water tank springs a leak, that’s $750 if I install it myself. Washer solenoid valve goes, thats $200. Front door lock stops working that’s $100. I don’t have a pension but my wife does so I try to save 25% of my take home but unexpected shit keeps eating into that.

I guess what I’m saying is that shit can feel worse after you buy a house. Who knows what shape Alberta will be in 10ish years when we would like to sell this place.

All our friends and family think we are rich because we have good jobs and live a modest lifestyle. It really makes me wonder what all these other people are saving for retirement.

User: splendidgoon

I wouldn’t be where I am now without my grandad. He let me live with him til I was 25 (about 6 years ago). I tried to pay him rent but he always found a way to give it back to me lol. He was such a great man.

I got married and was able to buy a house immediately because of him. Sadly my house has probably dropped 50k or so in value… But still paying less than rent. If that was a good choice or not is the subject of another discussion….

In Alberta, single income able to have 2 cars and my wife can stay home with our two kids. Overall I feel pretty good about my situation right now. Not saving as much as I’d like, but still enough that I’m not worried about the future.

User: tundra_punk

Sending lots of empathy your way. In my case I’m part of that elder millennial cohort that graduated into the 2008 recession. “There was lots of work, just no jobs”, I hustled my butt off, leaned on my network, lived well (aka enjoyed my 20s!) and never really thought about money, but also had zero job security or benefits.

I eventually went back to school only initially earn $12/hr in Toronto after a 6-mo job search. We had a shoebox 1br apartment walking distance to the TTC that was a rare unicorn: above ground for less than $1000/mo. Our HR manager actually recommended moving back in with parents when we discussed how impossible the wage was. I was so insulted and told her as much. Now, I’m pretty ace at stretching a dollar (DIY Punk ethic, bike mechanic, and at times dumpster diver), but I seriously considered visiting the food bank on several occasions during that time as I was earning just enough to have to start paying back my student loans.

The next year I more than doubled my income but still felt like wages weren’t keeping up with cost of living inflation. We moved to Ottawa but the higher cost of living meant we were STILL in a shitty 1-br but this time with abysmal public transit access and atrocious grocery costs.

Two years later I doubled my salary again, moved to somewhere that still has a high COL but more family supports and a better lifestyle. I pay about the same for my 3-br house than I did for that moldy Ottawa Mechanicsville unit. finally started feeling like an ‘adult’ and get ahead. It’s hard to resist lifestyle inflation when you’ve gone so long without many luxuries – your wardrobe needs an overhaul, your computer is 10 years old, you’re still using a flip phone… and you’re trying to make up for lost time and start saving for retirement and paying off student loans. It’s extremely hard to explain to boomer parents why you still feel hand-to-mouth on such a good wage. Retirement still feels way out of reach.

As for kids, I’m One And Done. We budget based on my income alone so I know I could support the family if shit goes sideways. But a second kid would make everything way too stressful.

Grateful for subs and other sites that have helped demystify budgeting and investing. But eff it’s a beast out there!

User: lostinpickering

It truly is a sad reality. My husband (31) and I (29) only have a house thanks to my parents who lent us the down payment (they offered, we were going to rent forever). We have to pay it back once we are able to pull it out from the equity of our home, which will be in about 10 years or so. If I die unexpectedly, I’ll make sure my parents get that money back from life insurance.

With our current income (about $110K), we would only be able to BARELY afford 1 child, but we would like to try before it’s too late to have kids. Our future kids education would be funded by the government child tax benefit that we would put aside. Our retirement fund is currently my husbands employer match where he can contribute upto 10% of his income, we currently do 8%.

Mortgage and property tax is about 41% of our household income after tax. We drive to work together, pick up food from our parents on the weekends. Downgraded to 1 car and live about 1 hour 20 minutes from work. We buy no-name brand food most of the time and frozen veggies for cooking. We are skipping christmas this year because there were too many weddings this year that we cannot afford it.

I know that this isn’t really comparable to what you are going through but, you read a lot on here about high income earners, but the majority of us are in a position where we can only afford a home with help.

You are doing an incredible job with what you have and always be proud of that.


I’m Shocked This Money Myth Still Exists

I’m shocked at how frequently people make this money mistake.

I’m referring to a common misunderstanding of how income tax rates work.

Many people say some variation of the following: “You don’t want a higher income because you’ll jump up into a higher tax rate and end up actually taking home less money after tax.” People have even refused career advancements based on this misconception.

This line of thinking is pure poppycock. Hogwash. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how marginal tax rates work.

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I can understand why people make this mistake. After all, marginal tax rates do increase as you earn more income. What people don’t understand is that the higher marginal tax rate ONLY applies to the income earned above certain thresholds.

To help illustrate, here’s a simple example: Let’s say the marginal tax rate on the first $50,000 earned is 20%, and above $50,000 the marginal tax rate jumps to 25%. Based on this tax structure, if you earn $70,000 you pay 20% tax on the first $50,000 and 25% tax on the next $20,000.

What people mistakenly assume is that once (using the above example) they earn above $50,000 they’ll pay 25% tax on everything.

Simply put, regardless of higher marginal tax rates the more income you earn the more you take home after tax.

A Real-Life Example

The four tables at the bottom of this post provide real-life examples of this for residents of each of the ten provinces in Canada. The detailed tables show after tax income, average tax rate, marginal tax rate, etc. on income levels of $50,000, $75,000, $100,000 and $125,000. For the purposes of this exercise, the only column you need to pay attention to is the ‘After-Tax Income’ column.

In case you don’t want to go through each detailed table, I’ve summarized the results for an Ontario resident below. Here are the after tax incomes for all four income levels:

Income: Before and After Tax for Ontario Resident

Income Before TaxIncome After TaxMarginal Tax Rate

As you can see, as you earn more income you take home more after-tax money, despite a higher marginal tax rate.


8 Essentials for More Productive Meetings

Meetings suck. Even though they may not show it, your colleagues (and even your boss) also think meetings suck. Few will admit it because most of your colleagues are playing the BS corporate game.

But you’re not alone.

You know who else thought meetings were great time wasters? Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush. Love him or hate him, you don’t get to Rumsfeld’s level without knowing how to get things done.

Peter Drucker – management consultant, educator, and author – also thought meetings were time vortexes. In the ‘Effective Executive’ he suggests “Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.”

But if you want to rise the corporate ladder or build your business empire, meetings are a fact of life. So here are 8 tips for making them as effective and efficient as possible. Stay strong.

1. Determine if the meeting is really required

If you’re simply sharing information, an opinion or a proposal that does not require debate, would an email be more appropriate? Would a leadership decision substitute for a meeting?

2. Minimize time

When booking a meeting, opt for less time than you think is required. Time-pressure helps ensure meeting time is used efficiently. Moreover, don’t stretch out meetings to fill the allotted time. Consider it a success if the meeting objective is satisfied using less than the allotted time.

3. Minimize attendees

Invite only those who need to be part of the discussion. A smaller group facilitates discussion. Moreover, consider the implied cost (hourly wages x time) of the meeting.

4. Determine and communicate the objective

When booking the meeting, summarize the expected content and outcome. Meetings with purpose help accomplish business objectives. Meetings without purpose simply fill time.

5. Start on time; end on time

Respect attendees’ time by starting on time. Those who are late can catch up later.

6. Ensure the meeting is productive

Stick to the agenda, come prepared, don’t regurgitate known information. If a discussion meanders into the irrelevant, add the item to a follow-up list and return to the agenda. If attendees are not prepared end and rebook the meeting.

7. Encourage people to share their views

Many feel uncomfortable talking in large group settings. Encourage participating by asking for opinions, contrary and similar. Reward participation with interest and appreciation.

8. Summarize and follow up

Meetings are fast forgotten. Ensure meetings drive business by summarizing the decisions made and actions required. Follow up with action-items to ensure accountability.


Stephen A. Schwarzman: 25 Rules for Work and Life

Earlier today I was listening to an episode of the James Altucher podcast, during which James interviewed Blackstone Group CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman.

The Blackstone Group is a global private equity firm with almost half a trillion dollars in assets. Along with Peter Peterson, Schwarzman founded the company in 1985. Since then, Schwarzman has amassed a personal fortune of over $12 billion!

While I believe it is a fallacy to automatically equate wealth with wisdom, in this case I think it is warranted. I think it is wise to pay attention to the lessons about ambition, risk and success Schwarzman shares in his latest book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence.

Here are Schwarzman’s 25 lessons:

  1. It’s as easy to do something big as it is to do something small, so reach for a fantasy worthy of your pursuit, with rewards commensurate to your effort.
  2. The best executives are made, not born. They never stop learning. Study the people and organizations in your life that have had enormous success. They offer a free course from the real world to help you improve.
  3. Write or call the people you admire, and ask for advice or a meeting. You never know who will be willing to meet with you. You may end up learning something important or form a connection you can leverage for the rest of your life. Meeting people early in life creates an unusual bond.
  4. There is nothing more interesting to people than their own problems. Think about what others are dealing with, and try to come up with ideas to help them. Almost anyone, however senior or important, is receptive to good ideas provided you are thoughtful.
  5. Every business is a closed, integrated system with a set of distinct but interrelated parts. Great managers understand how each part works on its own and in relation to all the others.
  6. Information is the most important asset in business. The more you know, the more perspectives you have, and the more likely you are to spot patterns and anomalies before your competition. So always be open to new inputs, whether they are people, experiences, or knowledge.
  7. When you’re young, only take a job that provides you with a steep learning curve and strong training. First jobs are foundational. Don’t take a job just because it seems prestigious.
  8. When presenting yourself, remember that impressions matter. The whole picture has to be right. Others will be watching for all sorts of clues and cues that tell who you are. Be on time. Be authentic. Be prepared.
  9. No one person, however smart, can solve every problem. But an army of smart people talking openly with one another will.
  10. People in a tough spot often focus on their own problems, when the answer usually lies in fixing someone else’s.

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  11. Believe in something greater than yourself and your personal needs. It can be your company, your country, or a duty for service. Any challenge you tackle that is inspired by your beliefs and core values will be worth it, regardless of whether you succeed or fail.
  12. Never deviate from your sense of right and wrong. Your integrity must be unquestionable. It is easy to do what’s right when you don’t have to write a check or suffer any consequences. It’s harder when you have to give something up. Always do what you say you will, and never mislead anyone for your own advantage.
  13. Be bold. Successful entrepreneurs, managers, and individuals have the confidence and courage to act when the moment seems right. They accept risk when others are cautious and take action when everyone else is frozen, but they do so smartly. This trait is the mark of a leader.
  14. Never get complacent. Nothing is forever. Whether it is an individual or a business, your competition will defeat you if you are not constantly seeking ways to reinvent and improve yourself. Organizations, especially, are more fragile than you think.
  15. Sales rarely get made on the first pitch. Just because you believe in something doesn’t mean everyone else will. You need to be able to sell your vision with conviction over and over again. Most people don’t like change, so you need to be able to convince them why they should accept it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
  16. If you see a huge, transformative opportunity, don’t worry that no one else is pursuing it. You might be seeing something others don’t. The harder the problem is, the more limited the competition, and the greater the reward for whomever can solve it.
  17. Success comes down to rare moments of opportunity. Be open, alert, and ready to seize them. Gather the right people and resources; then commit. If you’re not prepared to apply that kind of effort, either the opportunity isn’t as compelling as you think or you are not the right person to pursue it.
  18. Time wounds all deals, sometimes even fatally. Often the longer you wait, the more surprises await you. In tough negotiations especially, keep everyone at the table long enough to reach an agreement.
  19. Don’t lose money!!! Objectively assess the risks of every opportunity.
  20. Make decisions when you are ready, not under pressure. Others will always push you to make a decision for their own purposes, internal politics, or some other external need. But you can almost always say, “I think I need a little more time to think about this. I’ll get back to you.” This tactic is very effective at defusing even the most difficult and uncomfortable situations.
  21. Worrying is an active, liberating activity. If channeled appropriately, it allows you to articulate the downside in any situation and drives you to take action to avoid it.
  22. Failure is the best teacher in an organization. Talk about failures openly and objectively. Analyze what went wrong. You will learn new rules for decision making and organizational behavior. If evaluated well, failures have the potential to change the course of any organization and make it more successful in the future.
  23. Hire 10s whenever you can. They are proactive about sensing problems, designing solutions, and taking a business in new directions. They also attract and hire other 10s. You can always build something around a 10.
  24. Be there for the people you know to be good, even when everyone else is walking away. Anyone can end up in a tough situation. A random act of kindness in someone’s time of need can change the course of a life and create an unexpected friendship or loyalty.
  25. Everyone has dreams. Do what you can to help others achieve theirs.

If you have a chance, pick up a copy of his book and let me know what you think.

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Don’t Wait for the Perfect Plan to Start

There are a fortunate few who decided what they wanted to be sometime during their youth, worked hard and made that dream a reality. I know a couple doctors who fit that description. They knew they wanted to become doctors and the path to make that happen (study hard, get into medical school, intern, etc.) was clear.

Most lives, however, don’t follow such a linear and well-worn path. In fact, most people – whether in business for themselves or building a career – follow paths that they didn’t even know existed. For example, did you know that started because its founders couldn’t afford rent? To earn extra money, they rented out an air mattress on the floor of their apartment in San Francisco. To generate additional revenue, they sold custom ‘Obama O’s’ and ‘Cap’n McCains’ cereal (during the 2008 election).

Personally, my life was going nowhere after high school (I barely got out of high school in one piece). I was throwing special events and DJing, but had no ambitions beyond having fun and living in the moment. Knowing my lifestyle was unsustainable, I decided to keep going to school until I figured something out. The problem was I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I had no idea what I should take in school. I applied to a random assortment of programs – from film production to advertising. I was accepted to a couple programs. My criteria for deciding which offer to accept? Proximity to my house!

The offer that was closest to my house was a college program in marketing. To be honest, I didn’t even know what marketing was at the time.

I started attending the college marketing program and actually liked what I was doing. I started working hard and thrived. One of the courses during my program introduced some basic financial ratios (e.g. current ratio, quick ratio) and I was hooked. What I found especially intriguing was that while most of my class was struggling to grasp these basic financial concepts, I absorbed the topic easily. This motivated me to learn more about finance.

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I continued with my combination of marketing and finance education, pumping out a diploma, undergraduate degree, CFA designation and finally an MBA. Because I was interested in the subject matter I tried to learn as much as possible, often spending free time learning about financial history. While I was learning, I was also working.

I started my career in a boutique (aka crappy) consulting firm, barely knowing what I was doing. I eventually moved into a client services role at a mutual fund company and worked my way up from there. 15+ years later, I’m now a senior executive at a large asset management firm.

As you can see, I had no idea where I was going at the beginning. I didn’t have a master plan. Instead, my strategy was to make the most of what I was doing at the moment and build on that.

I think many people get caught up in the search for a perfect step-by-step plan to reach a predetermined end state. Because such a plan is so difficult to create (most people don’t even know what the end state is supposed to look like) people get bogged down by planning and fail to take action.

My recommendation is to get your plan to 50% and launch. You are but a tiny boat in a vast ocean and sometimes it’s best to simply paddle with the current. Be flexible and make the most of every wave.

If you know your destination, great. If you don’t, just be the best paddler in the boat.

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Is It Worth Getting an MBA?

I finished my MBA in 2008. I learned a few things but nothing I couldn’t have learned by hitting the library. Ultimately, I don’t think it was worth getting my MBA. 

Over the years many people have asked me if they should do it. For those in the finance industry, I generally advise a lower cost, but highly rewarding, alternative – the CFA designation. The CFA designation requires more discipline to complete and is highly specialized, so it has a greater impact on one’s career, assuming you work in finance. If finance isn’t your thing, then consider similar pragmatic alternatives like Google Analytics Certification, new experiences or a library card.

I only recommend an MBA if someone lacks the business background to switch to the management side of their industry. For example, engineers, scientists and IT folks can fast track to management with the technical and management combo. 

For those with a business undergrad and relevant business experience, I think the MBA is a huge waste of time and money, for a couple reasons:

Calibre of Students

There are hundreds of universities offering MBA programs. Students have a lot of choice, so many admissions departments are willing to accept less desirable candidates. After all, universities are a business an tuition is their source of revenue.

When I did my MBA over a decade ago about half my colleagues were of questionable intelligence and character. Many were also lazy. This detracted from my experience because half the reason to do an MBA is to immerse yourself in an intellectually inspiring environment.

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How did these people survive? It was basically an unspoken rule that nobody would receive less than a ‘B’ for anything handed in. So these lackluster candidates were allowed to remain in the program. You have to fuck up pretty badly to fail out of an MBA program. 

Nowadays, I see ‘prestigious’ MBA programs dropping the standardized GMAT test as part of the evaluation process. In the past, the the GMAT served as an objective way to assess and rank candidates. In contrast, the admissions process at many schools today is much more subjective and prone to bias. Essentially, if you have the money and a half decent background many programs will accept you. 

Return on Investment 

Perhaps most importantly, many MBA programs have a poor return on investment. This is not to say MBA programs won’t help your career, but – unless you’re going to a school like Harvard – the boost is generally not worth the cost.

A full time MBA program can cost about $100,000. That figure doesn’t include the lost income and lost experience from being out of the workforce for one or two years. It also doesn’t include the risk that you graduate into an economic recession, making it potentially even harder to generate a proper return on the MBA. For these reasons, I only suggest people do the MBA while working full time. This is what I did and it almost killed me. But I didn’t go into debt and my career didn’t fall behind.

Many people dream of a sudden career boost once their MBA is completed. Schools point to dubious ROI and payback period claims. However, the reality for most is more benign. Often, the ‘returns’ are no different than what you would have earned with simple work experience, without the hassle of going to school. Even if there were positive returns, you need to have a long-enough career runway to ensure you actually have enough time to earn your payback.

The actual boost from doing an MBA can vary. An engineer trying to transition into finance might experience a meaningful boost. However, a marketer trying to stretch his career will get a minimal return.

I think people need to ask themselves what else could they do with $100,000 to build wealth. That money could be invested or seed a business. It could be used to pay down a mortgage or to accelerate FIRE. Compare the returns for each to determine the best course of action.

My Recommendation

Whether or not you do your MBA is not a black and white question. You truly have to evaluate whether the outcome – career boost, salary increase, education – will be what you expect. You also need to carefully consider the cost to achieve that outcome – financial, time, foregone opportunities.

When I did my MBA over a decade ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Luckily, the cost wasn’t outrageous (I receieved many transfer credits from my undergrad) and I did gain some knowledge. However, much of what I learned could have been obtained via books. Indeed, I have learned much more since completing my MBA, underscoring that school isn’t a requirement for learning.

Personally, I did not experience a career boost from doing my MBA. In contrast, once I passed my CFA exams there was a noticeable uptick in calls from recruiters. Asset managers definitely took notice of the accomplishment and I was able to quickly advance in the industry. Moreover, I have regularly used the knowledge obtained from the CFA program during my career. All at about 1/3rd of the cost of an MBA.

If you are thinking about getting your MBA, I suggest the following considerations:

  1. Can your career advance without an MBA? If not, are the advancements worth the cost?
  2. If you’re doing it for the knowledge, can you gain the education of an MBA without actually forking out $100,000?
  3. Would an MBA complement your current experience and education, or simply extend it? I.e. are you learning anything new?
  4. What did the successful people in your desired industry do to achieve their success?
  5. Are you young enough to accumulate the benefits of an MBA over a long career?