Categories
Life

Why I Leave the Office at 5

If you have young kids, you need to enjoy them while they’re young. 

Sure your kid might be 5 years old with decades of life ahead of him, but by the time he’s 10 over half the time you will get to spent with him will have passed. By the time he finishes college more than 95% of the time you will get to spend with him will have passed.

This is because when kids are young, they’re at home and almost all their free time with their parents. However, as kids age they are at home less frequently. Eventually, they move out.

The chart below illustrates this. 

Your experience may vary, but will follow a similar path. You are everything to your kids until they start school. Then you’re a little less-than-everything as they get older, meet friends and get bogged down with schoolwork. Finally, by the time they start working and move out you’re the person they hopefully visit once a week for a couple hours. 

Invest time in your kids while they’re young for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of raising your offspring. Invest time in your kids while they’re young to set the foundation for a good adult relationship. 

This is why I leave the office at 5pm. This is why I avoid working in the evenings or weekends. This is why I prioritize going home to my kids over drinking with my work buddies. 

Categories
Work

There Is No Such Thing as a “Self-Made” Man

If you trace the careers and business ventures of successful men and women, many have one thing in common: they had support.

Very few people become successful entirely on their own. We all need help. Arnold Schwarzenegger emigrated to the US with $20 in his pocket. As a young, broke bodybuilder it was his friends that helped him get on his feet.

Arnold was lucky. Many people in his situation – regardless of talent – would not have experienced his success. He could have easily ended up as a personal trainer or supplements salesperson. He could have had a pretty average job and pretty average life, like most of us.

Perhaps the support from his friends made all the difference in his life. Support can help open doors for people, but the true benefit isn’t the opportunity that is created, it’s the safety net that’s provided.

    Imagine for a second that you won the lottery but decided to keep working. Assuming you retained a sense of professionalism, how would your behaviour at work change? You’d probably be a lot more bold and take more calculated risks. Money is a safety-net that enables one to push beyond the safety zone. Of course, this is exactly what’s needed to become highly successful.

    Most people I know who have led successful careers or built great businesses were not self-made. In fact, they had a lot more support than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Most of them came from middle-class families, at a minimum. Many had their educations fully-funded – thus, didn’t graduate immediately into indentured servitude. Most had early career breaks or internships opened up by family members. Alternatively, if they created a business their first clients were family and family friends.

    Starting early in life, their parents taught them how to succeed, gave their first breaks and, most importantly, if all else failed provided a financial back-stop. These people could take calculated career or entrepreneurial risks and know they would always have a bed to sleep in and table to eat at.

    Unfortunately, few of these people recognize their privilege. I have friends who think they were self-made, yet lived in apartments paid for by their parents, had access to whatever they needed (e.g. computers, working space, cars) and could ask for money whenever needed. Almost everyone I know who had that level of support is now highly successful, either at a big corporation or as a business owner.

    In contrast, I know plenty of people who were literally on their own from high school. They had minimal parental guidance, zero financial support and no fall-back. In other words, past a certain age, if they screwed up they would be homeless.

    Everyone I know who had this kind of foundation is middle-class at best. Most lack confidence and have had to struggle to overcome hurdles just to keep their heads above water. Few were brave enough (or stupid enough?) to take career or business risks, instead sticking to a working class lifestyle to quickly become self-sufficient. Some were lucky enough to become middle class professionals by following well-worn paths such as accountancy, law or medicine.

    In this sense, I agree with Arnold’s premise that there’s no such thing as a self-made man. So next time you compare yourself with someone more successful, bolder or more confident remember they probably got there because they had a lot of help dating back to a well-supported childhood.

    Categories
    Work

    49% Seriously Considering Quitting Job

    With the benefits of working from home now crushed for most workers, many people are working longer hours and unable to compartmentalize their work and home lives.

    Consequently, many people are on-call and on-line 24/7. As I’ve written previously, companies have learned that work-from-home staff suddenly have an extra 1-2hrs a day to work (because they no longer have to commute). Furthermore, many employers believe staff will do anything to keep their jobs in an uncertain economy, and are therefore piling on the work. Many of these same companies have reduced headcount and are unwilling to pay for the resources necessary to take on the extra workload.

    Every single private sector office worker I know is putting in much longer hours than before the pandemic started. Moreover, with the comingling of home and the office, many are unable to separate themselves from their work. This is consequently creating tons of stress for the average worker.

    Meanwhile, as year-end approaches most workers are being ‘prepped’ for a shitty bonus and meaningless salary increase. After all, the way many employers currently view it these people are lucky to have a job.

    It might come as a shock when workers start to voluntarily quit in this economy. Unfortunately, that’s where we are likely headed.

    New research by Hays finds that 49% of Canadian employees are seriously considering leaving their jobs, a nine percentage point jump from last year. That number for Ontario: 52%!

    According to Travis O’Rourke, president of Hays Canada:

    “Canadian employers are navigating difficult headwinds but the growing number of employees who want to leave their role, even in the face of a tentative job market, is a big problem. COVID-19 has left everyone exhausted and while many businesses are improving, staff are waving a white flag. Employees expect a company to have their best interests at heart and we’re now seeing evidence that unsupported teams look for better opportunities. Once we turn a corner on the pandemic or see more signs of job market strength, those employees are gone.”

    Canadians are overworked, stressed and see little help coming their way from their current employers. Indeed, only 64% of employees are positive about their well-being, down from 81% early in the year. At the same time, 54% of employers admit they have done nothing to support employee wellness or mental health.

    I’m already seeing more people being easily lured away by attractive competitor offers. It appears that people are losing hope that their career will grow at their current place of employment.

    Additional Hays 2021 Salary Guide highlights

    • Where is employment optimism highest? ON (77%), QC (77%), BC (74%). AB trails at 50 per cent
    • How about raises? 46% of AB employers plan no salary increases, followed by QC (33%), ON and BC are tied at 23 per cent
    • Where are employees most ready to leave? QC (54%), ON (52%), AB (48%), BC (41%)
    • What do employees want from a new role? Benefits (53%), career development (44%), work-life balance (40%)
    • What’s affecting people’s well-being? Lack of social interaction (45%), isolation (27%), increased workload (25%)
    • What about hiring plans? Over the past 12 months 35 per cent of employers decreased permanent staff. Looking ahead, 36 per cent plan to add headcount

    Categories
    Wealth Work

    Your Pay Just Got Cut: Now What?

    Your boss just told you and your colleagues that you’re all getting 30% pay cuts.

    What do you do? How do you react?

    First of all, look at it from your company’s perspective. This was probably the better of two shitty choices.

    If the company needs to slash costs in a recessionary environment it has few options and little time to make those choices. Often, an impending debt payment puts a hard deadline on the need for cash. Missing a debt repayment risks the life of the entire company.

    A pay cut doesn’t mean you’re getting screwed.

    Often, one of the easiest ways to free up cash is to cut salary expenses. To do this, a company can either cut headcount or reduce pay per worker.

    While a 30% pay cut feels like you’re getting the shaft, it is actually a sign your boss is trying to save jobs.

    It might work, it might not. But either way, keeping your job during the Covid-19 recession should be top priority. A steady paycheque keeps you solvent and it buys you time to build up emergency savings. It also buys you time to build skills, network and prepare for the possibility of eventual unemployment.

    Longer job tenure means a bigger severance if laid off.

    Another big upside to keeping your job is you retain tenure. A longer tenure means more severance if you are eventually laid off.

    In good times, a 30% pay cut would send you immediately searching for another job. But in bad times, that would be a risky strategy. This is not the time to let pride drive decisions. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you still need an income to pay your bills and feed your family.

    Quitting for a new job is risky because it means your tenure resets to zero. A company can have the best of intentions when hiring, but changing circumstances could force them into cutting staff (or salaries). Who gets cut first? The new guy – because it costs the company nothing in severance. A recession is not the time to walk away from job tenure.

    A 30% paycut is usually temporary.

    As the economy eventually normalizes, salaries should be returned to their previous level. If this doesn’t happen, then consider your options. But it could take 2 or more years until the labour market is strong enough to give labour a fighting chance. Until then, it’s a buyers’ market.

    Job seekers today are competing against millions of other job seekers for jobs that don’t exist. This is not a labour market you voluntarily enter. So accept that 30% paycut, as painful as it is, because the alternative could be a lot worse.

    (Free Guide) Survive the Coronavirus Economic Catastrophe:

    Categories
    Life

    Should You Put Up with Crappy Parents for Your Inheritance?

    I recently had a conversation with a friend who has a real distaste for his parents. When he was a child, they were neglectful, selfish and abusive. As an adult, they’re still quite annoying. They’re much better than before, but still oblivious to their actions. They’re not abusive in any way today, but the scars run deep.

    The funny thing is he’s not sure they even realize how their previous behaviour still impacts him decades later. Indeed, his parents are genuinely surprised he doesn’t gush over them 24/7. They rarely discuss his childhood, so he hasn’t made them aware.

    Sometimes he feels like he wants to distance himself from his parents. Other times he thinks he should try to salvage what they still have.

    He necessarily doesn’t enjoy time spent with them and finds it very stressful, so he wonders why he feels compelled to spend time with them. He questions his motives for maintaining a relationship with them. He knows his parents have money that he would eventually inherit, and wonders if this is the unconscious motive. Does he truly want to salvage the relationship or does he just want the payoff?

    He doesn’t know the answer.

    Is it morally OK to maintain a relationship with your parents for an inheritance? On one hand, I think it’s not fair to be dishonest with someone for personal gain. On the other hand, I think years of neglect and abuse deserve compensation.

    Or maybe we all don’t measure abuse equally. Was what my friend experienced as a child perfectly normal? Maybe all parents are the same behind closed doors. It’s hard to get a baseline on the shitty parent quotient.

    Below I have pasted a bunch of anecdotes from Reddit users who had crappy parents. These are probably the worst of the worst, because they all turned into physical fights.

    I’m including these anecdotes because I think it helps set a level for what’s abnormal. Because it is honestly hard to know sometimes.

    u/kander12

    My father is verbally abusive. Has been my whole life. Earlier this year I was at my lowest, depressed, living unhealthy etc. Sought the help of my father, tried talking to him etc. He went off on me calling me a loser, a pussy etc and challenged me physically (ive always been too skinny or too weak in his eyes etc). This time I had had enough. Little did my father know I have been doing boxing and jiu jitsu for 4 years now. I beat the shit out of him in a very humiliating way, holding him in awkward submission and screaming at him whos the pussy now.

    I have surely been removed from any wills (my dads loaded too lol) but I could not give two fucks. It was liberating. It crushed my depression on the spot and lit a fire lol. Totally worth the million bucks or so I lost down the line lol.

    u/bernacusmax

    I duked it out with pops one time. And it was a long time coming. He reached across the table and grabbed a leftover porkchop my sister cooked for supper the night before. He chucked it in the dogs dish. I had one little bite on the end of my fork…

    He had been drinking since 8 a.m. and his excuse was that he couldn’t pick my mom up from work because of it. I told him I had a major assignment due at school and couldn’t. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

    His face turned red and he grabbed my food. I took the bite remaining and stared at my fork and.. I just boiled over. I launched the fork across the table like a ninja star. End over end. It hit him in the cheek and glanced off his glasses and it was on.

    Up went the table and his chair fell over.

    I felt horrible after all that shit. I didn’t want to fight him at all. But he was always bullying me somehow. I just.. had enough. The porkchop was the last fucking straw. He knocked everything over and cornered me so I couldn’t get out of the dining room.
    He ended up like this guy. But.. fucking sad and drunk and sloppy and pitiful. I was disgusted it happened.

    u/thegrizzlybearzombie

    My mother used to beat the shit outta me my whole life. Would pull down my pants in front of my friends and spank me until I would cry in front of them to humiliate me. I was 17 years old and one day she tried to pin me to the side door by my neck, choking me. Something flipped a switch in my head. It was like when Darth Vader turned on the Emperor. I grabbed her face and pushed her back. Hard. She fell all the way down the stairs. I left and never returned.

    u/zachfoxtail

    I hated my real dad, because when I knew him he was a complete alcoholic asshole who ruined me and my brothers lives by never being there for us, false promises, and endangering both of us several times. I thought it was so objectively clear how fucked up he was because that’s the only side of him I really knew. Yet time and time again he would weasel his way back into our lives even after the divorce because my brother would fall for his charismatic charm and my mom would too. So I would play nice but every time be it a month or 6 months later it would always end in heart break for my brother and old wounds reopened for my mom. One day it occurred to me why it was so easy for them to want to believe he had changed, my brother was younger than me and when my dad lost his job I was already in school while my dad stayed home and bonded with my little brother while my mom went back to her old work from before she had kids. He had almost 2 years being my little brother’s main caretaker and source of fun, going to the zoo, eating dessert for breakfast you name it. Meanwhile i wouldn’t get him to the afternoon by then my brother was asleep taking a nap and he would pick me up from elementary school already a few beers drunk and not really take care of me. My mom on the other hand had years of him before he got like this that she remembers, literally almost a decade of him being a real stand up guy I wish I had gotten to know. So that’s why they would let him back in to break their hearts again and again, they both were hoping to see the guy they knew again.

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    Categories
    Life

    Covid-19 Quarantine: Don’t Panic Buy, Prepare

    With the relentless flow of Covid-19 coronavirus news, over the past 48 hours I have read a growing number of reports of panic buying across America and Europe. People are understandably scared of a quarantine and inability to buy groceries.

    Some pics I’ve seen:

    Personally, I haven’t witnessed panic buying but I have seen more shoppers buying party-sized packs of toilet paper. Even if it hasn’t hit the public consciousness yet in your area, there is a segment of the population quietly preparing for the worst.

    I don’t want anyone to panic, but I also think it’s irresponsible to not prepare at all. By not preparing as individuals we could place a greater burden on public health and social services if a crisis occurs, diverting resources from more critical needs.

    While I don’t suggest unnecessary hoarding, I do recommend stockpiling some extra non-perishable goods to get through one month of quarantine. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. But as we’ve seen elsewhere, things can go from normal to crisis within days.

    By the time the panic button is pressed you’re shit out of luck. Store shelves will be cleared within hours. We haven’t even reaches crisis levels and Costco crowds are already putting Black Friday mayhem to shame in some parts of America.

    If you’re reading this and you haven’t prepared at all, don’t worry. Take some action instead.

    Here’s a list of items you should get to almost immediately prepare you for the worst:

    • Required medicines
    • Quick oats
    • Rice
    • Crackers
    • Peanut butter
    • Toilet paper
    • Honey
    • Feminine hygiene products

    That’ll probably take care of most of your critical needs if you get stuck at home.

    You won’t be running a 5 star restaurant but you won’t starve either. Treat this as a starting point.

    As you make future trips to the grocery store to buy regular stuff, add a couple extra items for storage. In fact, you can just skip the trips and buy what you need online in the next hour without stopping your Kim’s Convenience binge. Genius.

    In this just-in-time delivery world, society is always just 3 missed meals away from total anarchy. Covid-19 or no Covid-19, you should always have some sort of emergency stash of food in your house.

    While I’m sure I sound like some nut job doomsday prepper, storing a little extra food was the norm throughout human history. It’s all stuff you’re going to use anyway.

    Wealth isn’t just about money. It’s about resources, health, balance. So help protect you and your family by being prepared.

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    Categories
    Work

    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 DumbWealth.com – 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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      Categories
      Work

      When Should a Middle-Aged Family Man Quit His Job?

      The other day I was venting to a colleague about the stagnant swamp I call my career.

      Despite having a decent job with decent pay, I am slowly getting destroyed by inane politics and busy-work that ignores my capacity and capability.

      “So quit”, says my single, childless, mortgage-less, 30 year old friend.

      When I was 30 I would have said the same thing. In fact, I left many jobs early in my career for the sake of advancement.

      Today, however, I am more averse to risk. I am in my mid 40s with a wife, kids and a mortgage. If I screw up I have to answer to a whole lotta people, possibly as we wait in line at the soup kitchen.

      At this point of my life, walking away from job security – and the accompanying severence package if I were laid off – is a big risk. At my level of seniority, pay and experience, my severance would be significant.

      If I quit and moved to a different company, there is a chance that it wouldn’t work out, sending me back into the job market, resume in hand. Except with nearly zero tenure at the new firm I would receive approximately zero severance.

      At my current job level it could take 2 years to find something similar. In comparison, a 30 year old a couple levels down from me could pick up a decent job in 6 months if they tried. It is a simple supply and demand equation. Plus, with fewer responsibilities and a longer career ahead of them, younger job seekers can afford to take a pay cut to start over.

      Essentially, for people in my situation there is a huge potential downside risk to leaving a secure job for uncharted waters.

      So when will it make sense for me to quit? When the risk of starting somewhere new is paired with substantial incremental financial compensation and job satisfaction.