Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Don't ask Don't tell...this time current salary?

Recently visited NYC for a mini-reunion with school friends. One of them is a MD, one Research Professor, while the other two are bankers at Citi. Happy to know that banks are investing heavily in ML in both adoption and adeption. Though they don't see ML or valley as an existential threat, yet. I also see a lot buzz at the Canadian banks, hiring data scientists in masses. Many data scientists are PhDs with an interest or heavy weight academics. The unicorn in this case is someone who understands and marries business with machine learning.

One thing my friends were all excited about is that it is now illegal in NYC to ask about the salary history during the hiring process since October 31, 2017. I'm surprised that Ontario labour laws lag behind on this question. Not only employers and especially recruiters ask this question but the latter seem insistent on it. They also seem curious on the demographics of the applicant's residency. While the previous salary may definitely play a role in low balling, demographics seem more subtle in lowering salary expectations. My comment on this is top talent merits top dollars, or employers risk flight of talent.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

How much does an IT contractor cost compare to an employee?

About the same!!!

I hear from my large clients claiming how much money a contractor makes compared to a full-time employee (FT). I have always wondered the real cost of a contractor to a client. So, I did the maths, and surprisingly the results show that the dollar cost is about the SAME!

How? Assume contractor cost of $100 per hour, and pay of the similar FT is at $130,000 with a modest annual combined contribution of CPP, EI, TFSA, RRSP and severance insurance of $15,000. I subtracted 1_month_risk_premiums from contractor invoice since a contractor is always on the hook! 

Both worker types cost about the same. Am I missing something? 

Whether contractor can get more take home income is another story. Possibly, at the cost of risk of express redundancy, no severance, no EI, filing additional taxes, self-training etc. For a FT, an employer has to provide most of them.

Then, why does the employer prefer FT?

Likely, the government incents for keeping FTs. An FT has to be loyal for, at least, three years and grows with the employer. The truth is my fellow contractors and I are delivery-ready, love our work, want to deliver, avoid bureaucratic meetings and be responsible for our own learning.

With automation on AI steroids, we are going to see the job market becoming exponentially fluid and temporary e.g. Experfy, Upwork etc. My plea to the clients is embrace us, not hate us -- we don’t cost you extra!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

When is it a good time to educate youth about money?

The short answer is as early as possible. Moneysense puts ages for financial learning in bins, and the youngest bin is 0-6 years old. Ontario is rolling out pilot projects to teach high school kids financial skills. It is very much needed. The consumer debt is rising year-over-year states Equifax, and full-term jobs are eroding away with AI. 
Teaching money does not have to be boring!!! It can be fun. I have put up posters to teach my kids count and summation. Game of monopoly, though invented by an anti-capitalist woman (controversial), is fun over holidays. I am thinking of turning my budgeting system, budgetnow.ca, into a game. How would you make teaching money fun for your children?

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Emergence of non-linear and unconventional careers?

With automation on AI steroids, we are going to see the job market becoming exponentially fluid and temporary e.g. Fiverr, Upwork etc. Non-linear career paths are on the rise and alternate ways of making money is becoming a common place. Companies are turning to social media, and the "influencers" promoting products with their honest views to their fans (CBC 27m) -- win-win. This is sometimes even true for simple things such as You tube videos for "Unboxing videos: How 5-year-old kids earn $1 million a month" (CBC 4m). 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Is social media damaging your career and life?

Prof. Newport at Georgetown University says, "the harms of social media to your career are being underemphasized." [1]. Social media can be hugely distracting, killing creativity -- but *worse* is addictive along with other technology [2]. Some of the smartest brains in the world design these app to keep us engaged. While my Egyptian friends credit Facebook for their Arabian Spring, it harms children's language and communication development. For Adults, it is a time sink of around 4 hours a day on average. The irony is that the more time you spend, the worse you might feel [3].

Alter's advice -- author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked -- to technology addiction by picking up a screen-free time for some part of the day [2].  I only do Facebook for promoting my pet project budgetnow [4], but suffering the ills of a mechanical life, and actively looking for ways out. Radio is one escape, audio books while commuting is another.

[1] Social media is damaging your career, CBC 10m
[2] Why technology is addictive and what to do about it, CBC 27m
[3] The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel, Harvard Business Review 
[4] budgetnow.ca: A fast, free and anonymous budgeting system.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

No taxes in the Middle east -- myth or reality?

Let's talk about Dubai for foreigners -- probably the most hip city in the middle east, and compare it to GTA. Yes, there is no income tax. But...there are taxes that you may not see...sales tax, property tax, highway tolls...

And there is no public health, no public education, no child benefits, no employment insurance, no pension.

Housing for an average family is more expensive, clothing is more expensive. Can't lease/finance a vehicle for 0% finance. I crunched the numbers and no income tax does NOT offset other expenses and benefits that I get at home in Canada.

Budgeting was hard problem for me as a married PhD student at Queen's University. Empathizing with students and other salaried workers, I developed a *free*, anonymous and fast budgeting system [1]. My interactive application allows users to try "what-if" scenarios to save more, and provides "Jump Start" for investing the surplus cash.

[1] http://budgetnow.ca/

Credits: Sanaa Wasi, Jawad Arshad

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Time is Money!

Time is limited (only 24 hours in a day) but money is NOT?! Trading money for time is not a bad idea if invested in something more meaningful, such as automating the damn chore that eats your time in the first place.

One example of this is using Walmart Grocery Pickup. Select and pay for the items from home, and pick up at the scheduled time. Walmart remembers your past purchases, so future purchases can bank on past further relieving you from making a laundry list. Better than home delivery as you are NOT home bound at the time of delivery.

Another example is buying lottery online instead of buying it at a store possibly waiting in line...and then later checking if won anything. Why not buy online using PlayOLG, and it emails you if you win anything.

Credits: Imran Bashir