Posts Tagged ‘work’
Ever known anyone who, upon getting a new job, freaked out after finding out the company works on a monthly pay cycle?
I get that budgeting is a deeply personal thing and managing your finances when money is coming in on a relatively infrequent basis can be tough. It seems that as a rule, most of us would prefer to be paid more frequently (in smaller amounts, obviously) whenever possible.
At a previous job, one colleague learned that most of us were getting paid on a fortnightly basis, and after finding out, tried to negotiate with HR to get on the same cycle. Given that this was months and months after said colleague had joined the company, the answer was unsurprisingly no (if you’ve coped that long, you can keep coping!). I’m not sure how this works as a general rule – most companies, especially smaller ones, operate on one single pay frequency, but this particular organisation had a lot of unionised employees and as a result, pay cycles for different staff ranged from weekly to fortnightly to monthly.
I’ve been paid on pretty much every kind of cycle there is over the years (including monthly in arrears for mystery shopping assignments – always fun) and I’m pretty confident I could cope with any pay frequency today.
Here’s a little rundown of my pay vs rent (my biggest expense) history
- Weekly pay / weekly rent
- Fortnightly pay / weekly rent
- Fortnightly pay / fortnightly rent (on opposite weeks!)
- Monthly pay / fortnightly rent
- Monthly pay/ weekly rent
Every new adjustment took a little bit of work. But eventually, I got used to it and made it work, largely because I like to operate on a weekly cycle. Even when rent wasn’t weekly, groceries, petrol, etc still were. Every pay day I transfer my money into my savings account, then transfer out money in weekly increments to cover that week’s outgoings. (And because rent is pretty much never paid monthly by anyone in New Zealand, I don’t get these ‘bonus’ paycheques in the two five-week months of the year that you Americans always go on about. Sadface.)
If I had the choice, I honestly don’t know what my preference would be today. Ideally, I guess it would be one that matched up with my rent payments – aligning your income with your biggest expense is always handy.
How often do you get paid?
Tags: money, personal finance, work
As some of you might recall, I worked shifts up until the middle of 2011. It’s funny how quickly you forget about that kind of thing, though, once you’re immersed into the dominant 9-5, Monday to Friday mindset.
My journo friends who don’t work in magazines/community papers/business news all work constantly changing hours. There are a couple of cops from our high school group who also work long and varying shifts, with long stretches of days on followed by long stretches of days off. And of course, there’s my other friend, who’s a newly minted doctor and gets slammed with shifts that would probably find me passed out from exhaustion by the end of my first week. Plus security, hospitality and all kinds of other industries also operate round the clock, year-round.
An ex-colleague has decided that as much as shift work stinks, it’s more about the people and environment than anything else: i.e., it’s better to work shifts with an amazing boss overseeing you rather than work regular hours but chafe under management by a total prick. Intellectually, I agree – but having experienced the pros and cons of shift work, I still hope to manage to stay firmly on this side of the fence.
Working shifts enables you to:
- Beat traffic
- Get stuff done during off-peak times (banking, grocery shopping, exercise)
- Can work well with your body clock
On the other hand, it often means:
- You aren’t able to use public transport, depending on your exact shifts and where you live.
- Wreaking havoc on your social and personal life
- Messing with your body clock – you might feel that you have fewer hours to operate in when your routine is constantly changing and you’re always struggling to keep up
- You can’t commit to certain extra-curriculars with fixed schedules
When I worked Wednesday-Sunday, I pretty much never saw T, and the time we did have together was NOT quality time. I was getting paid well and racking up great work experience, but didn’t have much of a personal life. Monday and Tuesdays were my chance to breathe and catch up on things, usually consisting of: a cathartic run, some guitar practice, some reading, cleaning our little house, baking, making lunches for the week, and leisurely walks to the fruit and veg shop to pick up fresh produce. (Those days always went far too quickly.) And when we lost a few staff and I started having to rotate across various shifts pretty regularly, I felt like I had even less time, with the constant disruptions to my schedule. Life in the 9-5, however, means I sometimes actually almost have time to be bored! (I never am; there’s always something to do, but I technically *could* be legitimately doing nothing.)
There’s another benefit to industries that operate round-the-clock, year-round, though. When your company doesn’t shut down over Christmas, thus forcing you to take 2-3 weeks off when EVERYONE ELSE in the country is on break, you have more flexibility to take your holidays when you actually want to go away (particularly useful during winter). I used to volunteer to work public holidays quite frequently, or at least not whinge about being rostered on, because I’d rack up extra pay simply for being there – time and a half, legally, and I think those of us who were union members received double) as well as an extra day of leave to bank.
What kinds of hours do you work/would you prefer to work?
Tags: career, life, work
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2013.
To kick off Women’s Money Week 2013, we’re talking about increasing income. I’ve had multiple gigs going on for most of my working life, and done a lot of odd jobs from waitressing at events to tutoring, mystery shopping and taking part in all kinds of market research. Here’s a sample of the highlights…
The weirdest way I’ve made extra money
I’ve done a few strange things in the name of market research. For the sake of cold hard cash, I’ve eaten KFC, sampled a range of margarines, and even had electrodes attached to my head. That took place in a downtown hotel conference room, where we all sat still for a couple of hours and watched a lot of Mr Bean, interspersed with a few ads, while they monitored our brain activity.
The easiest way I’ve made extra money
Running around putting up flyers on university campuses was probably the cruisiest thing I’ve ever done. And it paid pretty well at the time – something like $15 an hour plus mileage.
The most flexible way I’ve made extra money
It’s basically impossible to beat working from home for flexibility. For me, freelancing in spare time has been the most convenient way of increasing income.
The most efficient way I’ve made extra money
I’ve pulled back from mystery shopping as it just isn’t worth the time anymore, but back in the day one of the companies I worked for paid $10 per bus survey, and they were dead easy. I lived near a transport hub and could catch any number of buses between my house and town, and I had an unlimited bus pass. I’d catch different routes every day, earning a few bucks just for commuting, and when I had free time (lunchtime, or at the end of the day, or sometimes even on weekends) I’d just hop and off 3-4 buses an hour, going back and forth along key arterial routes.
The hardest way I’ve made extra money
In my last year of school, I worked for a local family doing babysitting/tutoring and homework help, 2 hours a week, 3-4 times a week. I was paid $15 cash for two hours (basically the equivalent of the minimum youth wage at the time. Thankfully, later on I progressed to proper grownup tutoring at $20-30 an hour). As with most people/service oriented gigs, it was incredibly hard graft, incredibly frustrating at times, but also incredibly gratifying when I actually got through to the kids.
The easiest AND hardest way I’ve made extra money
I can negotiate an ad deal or put together a sponsored post worth hundreds of dollars in under an hour. But it’s taken hundreds (maybe thousands? My sense of time ain’t so good) of hours to get this wee blog to the point where this is possible.
What are some weird, wacky, or otherwise interesting ways you’ve increased your income?
Tags: money, personal finance, women's money week 2013, work
It is a great thing to work in the creative industries. While it has its downsides (see my post on this at Budget and the Beach) for me the positives continue to weigh in its favour. I’ve always worked with amazing, talented and pleasant people. I’ve always had reasonably fulfilling, autonomous work. This is genuinely what I a) love and b) am good at.
But we don’t all have this first world luxury, and quite frankly, I don’t think it’s anywhere near possible. The numbers don’t stack up. The work that makes the world go round isn’t generally bursting with the fun factor – banking, freight, insurance, food production, retail, farming, tech support, cleaning. No doubt there are specific roles within those sectors that lend themselves to passion, but by and large the stuff we need to keep the cogs turning is fairly dull stuff. And passion jobs often require sacrifices in almost every other aspect aside from enjoyment/satisfaction – compensation, hours, work-life balance, etc.
If what you’re doing isn’t lighting your fire – and you have the option of walking away – at what point do you quit? A friend once told me about a fellow med student who dropped out after five years (one more and he would have qualified). Another person I know pulled out of a Big 4 graduate programme just a few months in after realising it was not the life for her. From the outside, it seems a waste to walk away after putting in years to get to that stage.
What price happiness?
Tags: career, reflections, work
Bad things that happened upon returning to work in the new year: everything tech-related that could go wrong went wrong. BUT OF COURSE. It’s only a matter of time before my computer refuses to turn on at all – my laptop is on its last legs. The fact that this is the third time I’ve started writing this post, and am crossing my fingers that it doesn’t get eaten.
Good things that happened upon returning to work in the new year: Overall, it was pretty darn painless and practically pleasant. Love my coworkers, love the work.
Neutral things that happened upon returning to work in the new year: Having an intern on the first day back.
Yup, it’s time for a post about internships. I’ve given advice about how to rock an internship before over at Twenties Hacker, and now it’s time to tackle it on this blog.
My thoughts on internships from the student side
I can’t speak to internships in other industries – the 400 hours of work experience engineering students do, the formal graduate internship schemes accounting/banking/consulting firms do, or the crazy American style of unpaid internships that last for months. I can only speak for the more casual 1-2 week (usually unpaid) internship that’s basically a prerequisite to getting anywhere in the creative industries, and why it’s invaluable.
Practical experience. Look, the catch 22 for those trying to enter the workforce is the need for experience. Nobody wants to take a gamble on a newbie. The best way is to get real world experience under your belt before you graduate, through volunteering, internships, or any other way you can get it. My university was big on work experience and we did two industry placements in my final year. Those gave us good clips for our portfolio. Getting published makes you that much more legit in others’ eyes, and in today’s age, when the barriers to creative industries are basically non-existent, quality work will help you stand out.
Cold, harsh reality. Internships give you a taste for what you can really expect – and you might not like it. I know of people who never went back to their internships after only a day or two. Doesn’t say much for their commitment … but if you’re going to hate the reality of an industry, it’s better to find out now than later. TV or radio seem glamorous? Wake up to the crazy hours you’ll have to work in order to prove yourself and you’ll soon change your mind.
Making contacts. Who you know matters as much as what you know. Getting inside a workplace enables you to make contacts there that you’d never otherwise have such close access to. Make the most of it (I wish I’d done this myself), swallow those nerves and approach people.
My thoughts on internships from the supervising side
We’re all busy. That means a good intern is a godsend. A bad intern? A bad intern is very bad news.
Help us help you. We will happily answer questions, welcome ideas and suggestions, and your thoughts on the kinds of things you’d like to work on and what you’d like to learn more of. We in the creative fields are always short-staffed, so in my experience, interns generally have the opportunity get to take on as much as they’re capable of.
Help yourself. Internships should be win-win: learning and experience in exchange for some free labour. But you need to help yourself. It’s 2012; you can’t be afraid of technology. Even in a more traditional discipline, you’re going to need to use various software tools to get the job done. There’s no excuse for technological illiteracy. I don’t want to hear “I hate technology” from you. I definitely don’t want to have to explain how Dropbox works or help you figure out why the text on your browser has zoomed way out. This is the workplace, not daycare, and there’s not a lot of time for hand-holding.
There better be an ROI. Nobody wants an intern who’s going to be more trouble than they’re worth. Particularly when an intern is only around for a very short time, it’s not worth investing effort into extensive training on certain proprietary things. Ironically, sometimes I end up giving interns the plum tasks and do the grunt admin stuff myself for this reason. Basically, if having an intern around is going to hurt my productivity, then we have a problem. I don’t expect that having an intern will basically double what I can achieve, but let’s try for an output of, say, 1.5 of me. Fair enough?
What have your experiences of internships been?
Tags: life, reflections, work
I have to admit that I’m a hypocrite in this regard. I’ve recommended friends for jobs – smart, well spoken, well presented and generally awesome friends – and it’s worked out fine. My former boss even made mention of this in his farewell speech on my last day. And I’ve also chipped in my two cents of approval in regard to candidates that I did not recommend, but knew a little about nonetheless.
But it doesn’t always work out. I’ve seen this firsthand. Workplace chemistry is a funny thing. Personality clashes can arise and temperaments ill-fitted to the daily tasks at hand make themselves evident.
Yet it’s so much easier when there’s some kind of established connection, no matter how tenuous. That’s why warm leads > cold calls every time. I’d bet managers put more weight on personal recommendations, seeing as they say the majority of jobs are never advertised publicly. You could call it nepotism, as someone I know does, or you could call it human nature or common sense.
Hiring is a long process, recruiting from outside can be expensive, and so it makes sense to tap your networks first. Any edge you can get as a candidate is a huge bonus, hence the importance of staying on contacts’ radar. I have one – let’s call her M – whom I’ve worked with a little, but to be honest, I tend to forget about her entirely in between the rare Facebook status I see from her (she seems to have given up on Twitter and doesn’t do much on LinkedIn, and we’re not close enough to email). Every so often she checks in with me, however – once, just AFTER a job had been filled at my company, and another time, just as a new opportunity had been sent out (in the vein of an all-staff email mentioning the vacancy and welcoming suggestions). Had she not, I’d never have thought of her.
Back to my point. Suggesting friends for jobs: if it goes well, awesome. If it turns sour, it reflects terribly on you. Not to be taken lightly; always err on the side of caution.
Would you ever recommend a friend for a job, or have you?
Tags: reflections, work
They say that when it comes to getting work done, you can pick two of the following three – fast, cheap and good. Yes, any two – but you won’t get all three in one package.
I feel it’s the same with travel.
The typical New Zealand path is to head off to London after getting in a year of two of work experience. It’s a bit of a gamble at the moment – with the economy the way it is it’s a struggle to find good jobs.
A friend who recently booked her one-way ticket (and has now been over there doing random temping work for a couple of months) told me she wasn’t going over in order to further her career, but for an adventure. Which is totally legit. My own case of wanderlust is intensifying by the week. But I’m having trouble facing the possibility of toiling in a café or a mindless cubicle when I’ve been able to do jobs I love ever since graduation.
It’s a wonder anyone can afford to leave this country. Flights to the European or American continents are a couple of grand alone. And our dollar doesn’t exactly go very far in other currencies. That’s what you get when you live at the bottom of the world. Then again, maybe that’s precisely why we want to get out and stretch our feet.
A while back, I read an article about a young professional who took extended leave to do a big trip around Europe. Work hard during the year, accumulate some cash, then take off to sightsee (and presumably, eat fabulous local food). And that is exactly what I want to do.
I’m not in a ladder-climbing kind of field, but I am at this stage reluctant to risk my financial position (BORING! But true) to pack it all in and go live and work abroad. It’s not like I have wads and wads of cash lying about, but I finally feel like I’m on the way to getting my shiz together money-wise.
Some friends are currently in the UK on the traditional OE: none of them have found it easy. Personally, I want to use my savings for a house rather than scraping by while I scrabble for a data entry job living in a hovel in grey London. (Seeing status updates like “It’s 3.30pm and black outside!” strike pure terror into my heart.) I’m a planner and control freak by nature, and I don’t want to fly thousands of kilometres across the world if I don’t have a damn chance of being happy when I get there.
There are plenty of lifestyle design types bootstrapping it around the world (be they life coaches or business coaches peddling courses and ebooks, writers, web designers, online marketers) in very cheap countries. But what if you actually want to spend time travelling, not just spending your time working in a different place? Or what if you want to come back to a job? To buy a house? What if you want to visit pricey places like western Europe?
I wish I could say I have the answer, but I don’t.
In an ideal world I would be able to work, say, nine months out of the year and spend the rest traveling. Or manage to get some kind of international transfer (but I’m not in a field that’s in demand overseas and it’s certainly not going to score me a lucrative job abroad. The thing about fun jobs is everybody wants to do them; the boring jobs pay well or they wouldn’t attract anyone).
With those options out, how else could one do it?
Work a 9-5 and travel in your alloted holiday time. Work insanely hard, save up, then take six months or a year off and do all your traveling in one hit (one couple managed to do so rather cheaply).
Set it up so that you can work from anywhere, thus earning money to support yourself while you travel. Digital nomadism is a thing now, didn’t you know? Lifestyle designers include coaches, writers, developers, designers, marketers and all other manner of freelancers/solopreneurs.
Bootstrap it through WWOOF-ing, Couchsurfing, house-sitting and similar setups with free accommodation (and in some cases, working for food/housing).
Get on board with a volunteer programme – there are thousands and thousands out there. Note that some of them do charge money to set you up with a placement. Once you’re over there, most of your expenses should be covered. Similarly, look into industry programmes that might be available to you – for example, a local organisation here offers a number of unpaid media internships abroad that run for a few months at a time.
Teach English – there are opportunities all over Asia and Europe. Some teach English overseas programmes will take pretty much anyone with a bachelor’s degree. Or you can get TEFL-certified on your own time and dime. (Personally, I’m not taken by any of the particular countries on offer, but it could definitely be an experience and get me closer to the places I do want to visit.)
Check out grants and scholarships – in Delaying the Real World, author Colleen Kinder details examples of securing funding to go overseas to conduct your own research projects. No joke.
Get a sweet job with a travel/tour company or something else in the industry. A friend of mine who did this has gotten to travel to some seriously amazing countries in the name of work.
How have you managed to fit in your travel?
Tags: life, reflections, travel, work
While I’m usually all for writing about what’s going on in my life, for some reason I didn’t really want to write about what happened last month while it was going on.
A couple of days before we headed off on our two-week campervan trip, T strained his arm at work and got sent home. If you’ve got an elephantine memory, you might recall he sustained some nerve damage in a mosh pit over New Year’s. This was a flareup of the same thing.
He had to have all sorts of scans, which obviously had to wait until our return. (Thanks to public healthcare, we only had to pay $37 for one of the tests.) It took a few weeks to get all those appointments done and dusted, only to return with no conclusive results.
A month of no income
When all was said and done, he’d been off work for a solid month; they wouldn’t take him back till he was cleared as his job involves heavy lifting. I covered all our expenses, meaning no savings for October. (Embarrassingly, even though keeping an eye on our money was more important than ever at the time, I avoided it as much as possible. My slacking off led to a slide into overdraft at one point – and yes, the sting of accompanying fees.)
In the end, the doctors’ findings were inconclusive. And while ACC is meant to cover your lost income, up to 80%, as we found out, ACC won’t fork out without a defined cause.
Back at work, T’s boss was MIA to start with, due to his own health concerns. It took a few weeks, but eventually HR got up to speed with the situation. At this stage, the gist of it is: the company won’t pay him for the time off. (And in terms of both legislated sick leave and annual leave, T is currently running on empty anyway.) They will back him up against ACC, however, and will go in to bat for him. Fighting ACC is not something I could be bothered with, quite honestly (if you’re in New Zealand, you’ve probably lost track of all the awful ACC stories that’ve been in the news this year), but if the company is going to spearhead it, we’ll go along for the ride.
So at this stage, will we see any money for October? Quite possibly not. I’m not counting on anything. Always be prepared for the worst case.
And while we’re on that note, the IRD owes him $500 odd as a tax refund. We got the notice a couple of months ago, but no cash has eventuated (and two online queries have gone unanswered). Anybody else still waiting on their tax refund for the 2011-2012 year?
Protecting your income
That got me thinking: even for the well-insure, severe or chronic health problems can really impede you, especially taking a longer-term view. (Funnily enough, T’s bank called him up, concerned about the distinct lack of money coming into his account. They also tried to pitch him on their income insurance policy, which apparently offered 50%.)
For example, another friend (our heinous ex flatmate) recently had knee surgery and basically can’t work for a year. It’s not just you who’s affected. Your family, spouse, kids are all impacted if you’re off work for some time, both financially and in terms of other kinds of support that you might need. Your skills can stagnate and time out means missing out on retirement savings and puts you on the back foot for future pay rises.
T’s job is somewhat physical, but by the same stroke, he’d hate to have a desk job. He’s a big guy but his body is way older than it should be. A 24-year-old should not have so many aches and pains, but I suppose years of sports take their toll.
As much as the trades are necessary and even lucrative industries, there’s so much risk involved. You’d really need good income protection insurance to feel secure.
If I sprained my ankle or broke my leg, I could still work. Maybe not so much if broke my arm (I’d be very much slowed down, if not more or less out of action) but as a desk jockey/knowledge worker I am not automatically excluded from work until I fully recover.
The thing about trading time for money, as most of us do, is that if you can’t work, you can’t earn money.
For UK residents, here is a good company to get your life insurance policy from.
Tags: insurance, money, personal finance, work
I finished university back at the end of 2009, but I have a lot of friends who are graduating right about now. Conjoint degrees, law degrees, medical and similarly scientific degrees have added on more than the minimum three years for them.
While most have scored jobs relatively easily, some are struggling to get in anywhere. It’s hammered home the fact that qualifying in traditionally safe fields like teaching or law or engineering are no guarantees now. I’ve been blessed, and in fact, it was a good year to graduate, as almost all my classmates found work fairly quickly. Journalism may not exactly be a growing field but there are still plenty of opportunities for new grads, as turnover increases and more leave the profession after just a few years. Newsrooms, I’ve noticed, seem divided quite sharply between legacy staff (the hardboiled types who’ve done it for decades and are practically part of the furniture) and the young, cheap, fresh faces. And as print, TV, and radio expand online, there are fresh jobs for the digitally-savvy.
We suffered back in 2009/2010 with T out of work, and it put a huge strain on our relationship, but it’s funny how quickly you forget those things. It’s easy to point the finger, but the job market is still tough.
I’ll put it out there. Overall, I’ve been lucky and I don’t think I appreciate that enough. Yes, I worked hard to get where I am, and yes, I seized opportunities along the way, but in fact my career history reads like a pretty charmed life.
2007: First year of university. Landed a two-week internship. That led to a part-time job for the rest of my years of study.
Late 2009: With graduation approaching, I applied for another internship, and ended up with a regular part-time/freelance gig. At about the same time, I was offered temporary full-time hours at work.
Early 2010: Offered permanent full-time hours at work, and later a bump in position title/pay to match. Carried on with side gig in my own time.
2011: Side gig turned into an offer for a full-time role, which I accepted.
Tell me about the path to your first job. I want to hear!
Tags: career, work
It’s pretty rad.
I remember many years ago (possibly the 2008 Oscars?) explaining to my boss at the time what a URL shortener was and how we could use one in our Twitter coverage of the ceremony.
Today, my current bosses are on Twitter and, I believe, actually have more followers than I do.
But for all the awesomeness that is spending part of the workday on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and G+, it also has downsides.
Social media is an insatiable beast
Unlike my personal accounts, I can’t simply take a break if I’m overwhelmed with other tasks or just don’t feel like being social. You still need to be putting content out there and responding to feedback.
All about the numbers
(Photo credit: The Next Web)
Social media is hard to quantify. So follower numbers are easy to latch on to as something concrete, and the higherups tend to look at those numbers as a measure of success. It’s certainly something that should be factored in, and we shouldn’t be living or dying by that alone, but the more old-school types may take some convincing.
Being social opens you up to, well, everyone. And they can say anything they want. Learning to deal with criticism in such an open forum is something all brands have to struggle with at some point.
No feedback at all
Posting something that garners no reaction or interaction at all sucks. Doing that multiple times in a row is an even bigger bummer. But this is reality for many of us at some point; we’re not all huge media organisations or consumer brands that can push out anything and instantly see clicks, comments and shares (been there; it’s quite gratifying).
Tags: social media, technology, work