I had such a great response to my Ask me Anything post that I figured I needed to start answering!
I will keep the post open indefinitely so that people can continue asking questions via comments.
How do you explain length of time off between contracts or is this even necessary?
Not necessary. Everyone knows that with project work, there are times where you work like crazy and others where you don’t. As long as you can interview well, it’s not an issue.
How do you maintain references for future contracts when key people have moved on from previous placements or do they ask for references.
They don’t really ask for references to be honest because they have found that people lie when asked; that said, with any references they ask for, will be informal ones from their own network.
I have, on a number of occasions received good word of mouth from others whom I have worked with, and that has resulted in my getting the job.
My reputation is very, VERY important in this industry and I strive to keep it that way.
How have your views on motherhood changed since having baby bun?
I think that motherhood is extremely difficult to explain to anyone who has never gone through such sleep deprivation (this is not the same as partying all night; think of it more like a torture tactic used on POWs to break them down to be pliable and easy to control), as well as its highs and lows of seeing this little human being grow from the size of a little teddy bear to one who is almost as high as your hip, walking, crawling and squealing.
The highs are the highest I have ever experienced in my life. An example is when he fell asleep on my chest. I was stroking his head and his furry little newborn back with this total rush and high of wonderment and awe. I’m sure every parent feels that way, though, but it feels like it is so different when it’s your own.
It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination being a first-time Mommy (or Daddy) and even harder to comprehend just how much you can unconditionally love this little being after only having known them for basically a day.
I now truly understand what it means to love selflessly and unconditionally, although at my lowest points I wanted to break down, scream, and sob in the corner from frustration and stress (which is when I needed to take a break and hand him off).
That said…..I have said it before and I stick to my original statement that although motherhood is hard, it is STILL not comparable to say that the job of mothering is like the professional and formal training of being a doctor/chef/personal trainer and all that jazz rolled into one. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s wrong and it cheapens the work and effort it takes for those folks to achieve and succeed in such careers; biologically-and-environmentally-willing, everyone and anyone can have a child at any time, but not everyone can be a doctor.
What did you think you would never do, which you now find perfectly normal and acceptable?
I thought I’d be grossed out by all this poo and pee nonsense but when it is YOUR baby, it is not gross at all. Trust me.
I GOOGLED for this stuff when he was a newborn — I was so worried he was sick…
Conversely, what did you think you were going to do, which you’ve now decided isn’t the best for your family?
I thought I would travel, stay late at work (by late I mean past 6 p.m.) and otherwise be the way I was before as a rather free individually. I also thought I’d be able to continue having my own life but all of that changes with having a baby, particularly since he has bonded very strongly with me, and far more than with Daddy.
I also thought I’d take a vacation to Europe with him but he has turned out to not be a very trustworthy and stable mini passenger.
I am not sure he is not going to freak out on a plane. I’m waiting for him to speak and at least understand some basic concepts before attempting an overseas trip.
My priority is him; being home for the Bun, making sure I leave early or no later than a certain time and making sure he eats well, and so on. It’s really.. Bun bun bun, 24/7. Even after he goes to sleep and as I am about to fall asleep, my mind and my heart has images of him replaying through my head. I long for a quick kiss on his soft little cheeks or hugging his warm little body, or hearing his giggle.
It’s never ending. I miss him pretty much all the time, but sometimes when I am with him all the time, I feel like I need a break.
Retirement check: We are a married US couple (ages 47 & 45) with $910k in retirement accounts plus some military pension. At a high level are we on track?
Yes. Considering many retire with only $100K, you’re doing fine.
I’d just make sure that when you plan on retiring (65?), assume 30 years for living and check what you think you might withdraw each year as an income (don’t forget about taxes).
Even with all that money saved, if you plan on withdrawing $100K a year, you will burn through that money in less than 9 years, know what I mean?
Has anyone recognized you (based on your clothes, etc) from the blog?
Not that I know of. If they have, they’re keeping pretty mum about it (thanks!).
Do you still have a Made In China ban, or have you allowed exceptions since then?
Still on like Donkey Kong!
Have you considered writing a book (ebook, finance, fashion, memoir, fiction, etc)?
Yes. I’m currently pondering doing this but can’t focus on a single subject, or decide whether I should do multiple subjects and brain dump something. I don’t want it to be boring but … I have so much to say, I am paralyzed with the idea of how to edit myself.
What are the best places for a smart, focused but friendly thirty something individual like myself, to meet like minded people in Toronto?
Age old question eh? School or work is the best place to meet a lifelong partner. I’m going to sound snobbish but it generally means you will travel in the same social circles and not feel like a fish out of water when with them.
If no one at work is available or strikes your fancy, I’ve always wondered if maybe you should do something like take a night class in something fun like cooking because at least you will share the same interests and maybe meet someone in the process.
I have friends who have joined gyms and special workout programs and met their spouses there, or in cooking classes, even yoga classes (although it’s guys picking up girls, not really the other way around.. although in Toronto there were a lot of guys in my yoga classes).
My best advice if I were in your position as a single thirty-something, is to join a group or take a night class in an interesting activity or .. just to improve your skills, you may find someone who is single and there doing a post-MBA degree too.
As for work itself, I’d say that the IT department tends to be overlooked. I find that when I work with IT folks, there are at least 5 single guys (fairly young, mid-3os) at any given time that are looking for love. They’re not all geeks but they ARE somewhat shy, but at the very least, they are on the whole quite smart and financially-savvy, if not financially-solvent.
Find a way to get on an IT project at work or to deal with IT and you are sure to meet someone.
Or if not someone, someone’s good-looking single son!!!!
where do you thrift/bargain shop for clothing and accessories, shoes in Montreal? Favorite places, suggestions…
I’ve been so lazy on the Montreal front, you don’t even know.
I tend to prefer consignment shops, which are definitely pricier than your average Salvation Army or Goodwill, so you’ll have to take my suggestions with a grain of salt.
If I have lots of room in both RRSP and TFSA, average household income, in my early 30’s….where should I dump money first?
How much do you actually make?
If it’s more than $50,000 I say RRSP. Less than $50,000, TFSA.
See, if you want to lower your taxable income, put it in your RRSP.
If you are taxed at a very low rate ANYWAY, you’re probably better off putting it into a TFSA, although you can carry forward your RRSP tax credits, so.. it’s kind of up to you whether you want to be taxed now or later….. which is exactly why I am saying as a general benchmark, if you make $50,000 or more, put it in your RRSP so that you get the tax credit, and less than $50,000, put it in your TFSA where it will get more traction.
Or if you want to take out the money in the short-term, then TFSA. If it’s OK to be locked-in forever, then RRSP.
Read my guide here for some general rules of a RRSP versus a TFSA.
Either way, you can’t go wrong. Saving is saving.
Where/how did you learn to negotiate rates while consulting (book/classes)?
I did not take any specific courses but I went to business school, although no one taught me now to negotiate there in a specific class. I just learned to NEVER say what I wanted as an income and wait for them to throw out a number, and go prepared with a pre-determined salary range and benchmark.
For rates specifically, I just asked around for what other people were getting and demand the same amounts or roughly the same, taking into account my years of experience.
Then.. from there I am just naturally pretty straightforward when I talk to recruiters and willing to walk away if I am not getting what I want and what I think is fair. I hold firm and apparently have a “good poker face”.
Some might even say I’m aggressive but that’s a good thing in my books. Better than being a doormat.
How do you manage to find the coolest clothes/beauty products, etc.?
Pure chance and years of mall shopping have honed me into someone who likes to wander into shops, quickly get the vibe of the shop and decide to browse or leave.
Style blogs give me a lot of help too, they suggest great clothes and products and then I jump on board.
Mostly though, it’s just a lot of window shopping and actually being in the stores, touching things, etc. It’s my natural shopaholic tendencies coming into play.
Have you ever felt “burned out” from traveling a lot?
Yes. Every time. It’s fun for the first month, eating out, staying in a hotel.. and then you’re over it, particularly the leaving late on Thursday and coming in early Monday having woken up at 4 a.m. and trudged through security.
When you retire, which country would you like to live in?
We have actually done research by going to cities we thought we would like to retire in where we had some ties to family and assessed what it would be like living as a local.
Our conclusion is that Canada is the best country to retire in, particularly for healthcare.
What we may do, is the snowbird thing and travel to California during winter months. We haven’t decided on this strategy yet, but without a doubt, we are set on Canada.
I really really loved answering these questions. You have made me think long and hard in some cases.
Part Two coming up. Need to actually sit down and type out thoughtful answers…