Impulse Buy = Shopaholic?

Am I a shopaholic?

According to some online tests, I may be.

I had an uncomfortable argument with the TubHubs this morning about discretionary spending and how I am prone to impulse buy.

Impulse Buying is a habit I admit to. It was always easy to cop to because I can just say, “at least I’m not in debt”.

Not being in debt is not the same as having substantial savings, though. 

When I was still in school, it was easy to blame the lack of savings on tuition and student loans. I was one of the biggest whiners about how expensive tuition was and how my education was the ONLY REASON I didn’t have any money left over.

After student loans were paid off a couple years ago, I told myself that I’ll need to start seriously saving. I was able to keep the ‘rainy-day fund’ going, but beyond that I didn’t make much head way. The excuse I made then was that I couldn’t possibly save large sums of money because of the wage cuts I took. In reality, it was because I was spending frivolously.

While I did realise the problem a while ago, I never really seriously looked at how to curb my impulse buy habit. Now that I have no distractions, I forced myself to spend some time researching theories and ideas behind shopping addiction.

impulse-buy-cartoon

Shopping Addiction Symptoms, Causes, and Effects – Seriously, this article actually exists. There are actually drugs that you can take in order to curb your impulses (it’s the same drug they prescribe for Alzheimers).

Though, based on the list provided there of “Are you a shopaholic?”, I don’t really compare. I don’t have financial hardship, and I don’t feel a ‘euphoric rushes or anxiety’ when I’m shopping.

That article annoyed me more than I thought it would. It felt like another way for drug companies to tell you that you need drugs to curb your behavior. I need behavior tools, not mental state altering chemicals.

After some more research, I found this blog: The Simple DollarThere is an article there listing 10 tools to help you prevent impulse buying. It seems like something that was more doable.

Tool number 6 really caught my eye.

6. Calculate the value in life energy

If you’ve been a reader of The Simple Dollar for long, you know about how to calculate your true hourly wage. Keep that number handy, and the next time you want to buy something, divide the price of the item by your true hourly wage … this will tell you how many hours of your life you had to give up to buy that item. Sometimes the number of hours can be eye-opening, especially for more expensive items. Consider whether you really want to give up that much of your life for that item.

Then I went on to read about the “true hourly wage” he mentioned. I went through and made a spreadsheet to calculate my actually hourly wage.

To get your actual hourly wage, you take your annual salary, deduct tax, then deduct any expenses related to work such as childcare, lunch, commute, etc. Then you take that annual number and divide it by the actual hours you are working through the year. 

Here is the assumption I had (and probably most people had) based on googling annual salary to hourly:

The average, full-time, salaried employee works 40 hours a week. Based on this, the average salaried person works 2,080 (40 x 52) hours a year. To determine your hourly wage, divide your annual salary by 2,080. If you make$75,000 a year, your hourly wage is$75,000/2080, or $36.06.

So making 75 grand is pretty great, right? …. NOT.

When I plug in 75,000 as the annual salary into the spreadsheet I made, here is what I got:

True_Income.png

Notice that my Work deductions are LOW. I don’t have childcare, and I have a cheap commute (transit). I included clothing/vanity for office appropriate clothing (that I otherwise would never buy) and make up (that I otherwise would not need to wear). My tax deductions are based on the Australian income tax rate.

Still, my actual hourly income on $75,000/year is really only $22-23/hour.

So I sat here and let that sink in for a bit. When I consider that I’m only making around $20 an hour, that really puts a damper on impulse shopping. Now instead of just thinking about what I can afford, I should be thinking about what I can afford after savings.

There are other great tips in this article, but number 6 caught my eye as it speaks directly to how I think.

Thanks, The Simple Dollar. I’m now a little bit more money-savvy. I hope.

My Job Is Driving Me Crazy

For the past week, I’ve been checking my work emails at 6 am in the morning–and getting angry.

Monday:

One part of my job is to schedule projects for various members of our development team to work on. I had a project due to release for Thursday last week. I was meant to configure the complete system and show the client their product on Monday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, I remind my team of the due date. I do this because they’ve been missing a lot of deadlines lately, and I am sick of rescheduling meetings with clients. It makes us look sloppy and stupid.

On Thursday, my boss steps in on the project thread (we have an internal project assignment site), and re-assigns the work to developer Victor because the original developer was too busy.

Friday morning, I check the project thread. No notes, nothing to show that Victor started it.

I remind Daniel (our newest member, who’s not a developer, but hired to share my work load) to make sure Victor completes the work. Daniel and Victor both work in our Vancouver office, and sit in the same room. Daniel assures me that the work will be complete by Monday.

Sunday night–I’m itching to check our internal site to see if work is complete. I decide against it because it’s Sunday. I had a feeling work was not complete, and I had a feeling I was going to mad about it.

Monday morning–The project is not complete. I shoot off an email and a phone call to the client in question and tell him we have to reschedule. He’s understanding, but no doubt as his first interaction with us has been about rescheduling meetings, his impression of us will now forever be, “disorganized”.

Monday afternoon–West Coast team is online. I search for Victor in our work messenger, so I can ask him directly why the project is late. He’s not online.

So I ask Daniel via message: “Is Victor sick today?”

Daniel: “….”

Me: “What’s that mean?”

Daniel: “[Boss] just told us today that Victor is no longer with the company.”

Me: “Uh huh. When did this happen?”

Daniel: “I dunno, I just found out today.”

I feel badly for Victor. He was a funny guy. But in that moment, all I could feel is angry. My boss, the one deciding to let Victor go, or accept Victor leaving (I don’t know whether he was fired or quit), didn’t think it was important to follow up on any of his open projects. He also didn’t think it was important to inform the person (me) who assigns work to our team that one of our main developers is gone.

My company is poorly managed. Our CEO is a creative programmer; he is not organized and lacks the skill to properly assess outcomes of in-the-moment decisions. This is just one of the many examples of how my work and our clients suffer because of our poor management. There’s a reason why creative programmers stick to programming and don’t run a company: they are not good at it.

I have way more to gripe about for the rest of this insane week, but I have to stop myself here. Actually… this one is too priceless not to mention.

My other boss (two of them own the company) sent me some work he had been doing with another client. He was going on vacation (did not tell any of us?) and he had me take over the work. Fine.

Work is importing some data to this client’s system using excel file. Simple enough. Trouble was that the data import wasn’t working.

I spend at least 4 hours the last couple of days just digging through this spreadsheet to find out what might have been wrong (our import tool SHOULD show error messages, but it DOESN’T, so I have to search in the spreadsheet for errors itself).

The spreadsheet is 641 rows long and Y (abcd columns)columns wide.

I finally find the errors last night (I finished work at 8 pm), and I send this to one of our developers to fix. I send off an email to our client letting him know the clerical errors I found on his side–reminding him to check this next time.

This morning, I get an email back from the client… all bitch-toned.

He indignantly informs me that the spreadsheet I was working on is an old one, and “I guess [Your Boss] didn’t give you our updated one before he left on vacation. Our new one should only have 619 rows. Here is the new one, please re-do the upload.”

At this point, I don’t know who to be angry at. The entitled client who insists on having us upload files for him (we built the system, but any upload work is for him and his staff), or the idiot boss who couldn’t be bother to send me the correct file to work with before heading off on vacation.

I CAN’T WAIT TO STOP WORKING FOR THESE PEOPLE. 

Gadgets

I can’t stop looking at all the cool gadgets on sale right now.

Thanks, Cyber Monday.

Dentistry In Stamford

Welcome to Stamford, Connecticut, where people have to sell their liver for perfect looking teeth. It’s “The City That Works”.

Ready to read my long dental history? You’re going to have to, anyway.

I’ve had braces twice in my life time. Once for 2 years when I was a kid. Then another 3 years when I was 19 (braces didn’t come off till I was 22).

When I was 19, my dentist saw that I was genetically missing some teeth. I was missing my top lateral incisors, so my top row of teeth looked like this, and I was missing 2 second premolars on the bottom. My adult 2nd premolars never came in; so I still have 2 baby premolars in my mouth… the x-Ray looked funny (not my X-Ray, obviously, but it was what my teeth looked like at the time).

What was decided at the time; pull out my baby premolars from the bottom, and use braces to close the gaps. This would pull my bottom teeth back under my front teeth (how a normal bite should be).

Result at the time: my teeth were straight. All four of my wisdom teeth had room to stay in my mouth, so they stayed. I now get annual lectures about how I have to clean my wisdom teeth really well because they are hard to clean. Blah blah blah.

On to the Vampire Issue

So because I was missing the two lateral incisors up top, I ended up looking like a vampire whenever I smiled. My dentist at the time said he could flatten out the canine fangs and we can “pretend” that they were lateral incisors. I didn’t want to do it at first; but after a couple of years of whining, I let him do it.

So he put bondings on my canines to make them into lateral incisors. He also put bondings on my central incisors (2 front teeth) so that they would match. Great fix.

4 Years Later

The bonding on my left front tooth starts chipping. I get it fixed at my new dentist in Vancouver. New dentist is the first one to suggest using porcelain veneers instead. I said no, because it’s expensive and unnecessary. She tells me that me that the bonding will continue to chip every few years. Bondings are less expensive and are usually covered by dental insurance, because it’s not a strictly cosmetic procedure; bondings are typically used to protect any “open wounds” on your teeth in order to prevent cavities. I refuse again.

2 Years After 2nd Bonding

Front left tooth starts to chip again. This time I’m in Stamford. This is May of 2015. I go to Dental Care of Stamford for a regular cleaning, and I ask them to fix my front tooth with more bonding. I’m hounded this time to use procelain veneers. I ask for a quote. Too expensive (can’t remember exactly the cost). I turn them down. They charge me $153 for bonding on one tooth, since insurance only covers a part of it. I walk away happy.

Yesterday

My front left tooth has chipped a lot in the past two weeks. I put off going back to the dentist to get it fixed again, and this time I’m thinking maybe I should just do the veneers. Maybe the problem was that regular bonding just wasn’t strong enough.

I go back to Dental Care of Stamford, only to be quoted a whooping $2152 dollars PER TOOTH for procelain veneers (and Carol wants me to do 4 teeth. That’s close to 10,000!). The dentist spent about 2 minutes with me, telling me what she would do, and when I ask her for  a quote, she says, “I’ll let Carol tell you that.”

Carol is the sales woman assigned to make me sell a liver. She’s dressed like a sales person and she has zero dental skills. Why do dental offices even have sales people? Carol fights hard to sell me this incredible expensive procedure that I “absolutely must have” if I “want to look my best.”

I refuse a couple of times. She tries other tactics of convincing me. I get tired of saying “no”, so instead I say:

“I have no money. My husband supports me. I have to ask him.”

You’d think Carol would leave it at that, right? Nope. She then starts showing me this brochure for some kind of medical services credit card, she tells me that my husband can finance it on a monthly basis. I want to stop her there and tell her that I have no credit here (I’m not American, and I don’t have a bank account here), but I figure I’d let her continue wasting her breath for a few minutes before I just say, “great, thanks. I’ll talk it over with my husband.”

Carol’s closing line, that really made me laugh? –> “Just tell him it’s your Christmas Present!”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Dentist in White Plains

I walk out of Dental Care (I doubt they care) of Stamford, laughing internally and feeling like I needed a shower after 30 minutes spent with sleazy sales tactics thrown at me. I complain about the cost and experience to TubHubs for a while, then I ask him for the number for his dentist.

Turns out his dentist is The Lincoln Lawyer of dentists. His practice may not have all the fancy tools and shiny chairs that Dental Care of Stamford does, but there isn’t a single sales person on his staff.

After taking some X-Rays, the dentist came and looked at my teeth. I told him briefly about my dental history (he knew I had braces from looking at the X-Rays) and why my front tooth had been chipping so much. I told him that I was thinking veneers since they were stronger, but that I was worried about the cost.

Here is what he tells me:

There’s no reason for bondings to chip so easily after just months of use. The reason that mine are chipping more frequently is because I no longer had canines.

Canines are naturally designed to absorb the impact between your top and bottom teeth. He showed me how my bottom teeth have collusion “damage”.

He then gave me 2 options:

  1. Get porcelain veneers, and he could try building me proper canines. This would be expensive and out of pocket, as veneers are always considered cosmetic.
  2. Get bondings on that one tooth again, but this time he’ll give me a night guard to wear, which would prevent my teeth from grinding and chipping the bonding. This option is covered by dental insurance. Good bondings should last 5 to 10 years.

Out of all of the dentists I’ve seen (aside from my first dentist, who did my braces) before him, they’ve all pretty much omitted the “truth” about my ever-chipping tooth–just so that they could sell me a much more expensive procedure.

The Very Short of It

Honest dentists are hard to find. That’s all.

Personal Victory

Every time my boss calls me on Skype (he did this four times yesterday, which is more than usual), I expect him to ask him to work the weekend.

I expect this because he does ask, in his round about way.

He’ll tell me how many of our clients have events this weekend. He said these words, “we gotta whip our team into shape for this.”

Usually when he says things like, I’ll volunteer myself like the eager beaver I am. Perhaps that’s why he thought if he called me to tell me just how swamped and shitty the weekend will be for them, I’ll feel sorry for refusing to work weekends and offer.

I have zero sympathy left for them, really.

Since they’ve “saved” some money from cutting my pay for the entire of 2015, they’ve gone on to hire 3 developers in our Canadian office. Our company had operated on developers working from China for lower pay than Canadian ones simply because developers in Canada would be “out of our budget”.

While it did piss me off initially, I understand they made a sound business decision for their company; they had a eager employee who was bending over backwards to help their company, so why not take advantage of her and redistribute financial assets for more valuable skills.

But I’m a contractor now. Which means I should be operating for my own benefits. That means: whatever additional responsibilities or services their company requires from me; they have to pay more. I’m no longer a salaried chump that has to do whatever they say.

My “boss” (or are they my clients, now?) called me yesterday to tell me about how his partner is going to have to be awake at 4 am in the morning to help our east coast clients. There was a long pause. I said, “wow, that sucks” and nothing more. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I honestly have no need for this information… so the only plausible reason I can think of for him to tell me, is to hope that I’d offer to pitch in.

Anyhow. I’m hoping this is the last time I’ll ever have to write about working with this company. I don’t like to waste more time/energy thinking about all the ways they screwed me over. I do consider it a personal victory though, now that I know I can say, “No, I’m not your under-paid chump anymore.”

Let’s All Just Stick to Our Own Choices; and Stop Telling Others How to Live

Thought Catalog: Children Are The Shackles to a Woman’s Dreams

This woman wrote candidly about her choices in life, and what having children means to her. It’s freedom of expression. She writes about how she was constantly reminded that her “time is running out”.

Why do people make it sound like you’re dying of some disease if you’re not having children? Her “time” is not “running out”. She’s still a person who has a whole life ahead of her without kids.

Then to scroll down and see the first couple of comments tell her that “not all parents have the same experience” and that “being a parent is good for some people”. That’s awesome. But then they go on to tell her that they don’t think she ought to be saying that having kids is a bad thing; because that will scare people off from having children.

Err… isn’t that exactly what so many people have been doing to us young folks the entire time we’ve been alive? Telling us (women at least) that having children is the most wonderful thing you can or will ever do? (Don’t get me started on how damaging this type of conditioning is to a women who literally can’t have children).

There was an article a few months ago about studies done on couples with kids. Their conclusion was that depression is a lot more common among parents versus non-parents.

Thanks to people who keep referring to parenting as some wonderful thing; people who listen to them and end up having kids EXPECT some kind of wondrous experience. Then when the experience doesn’t live up to the hype and postpartum hits, these women are extremely unprepared to deal with their emotions.

I do want to have kids, but I’m tired of people telling me how wonderful it’ll be. I know it won’t be wonderful. I know it’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows. I know I might even end up with some ungrateful assholes for kids. They might be disabled, they might become sociopaths.

I’m definitely sick of hearing people tell other women who don’t want kids exactly the same sales speech they give me. And then to go on and paint these women as “not real women” because they lack the urge to procreate.

For all the parents out there who talk about the good and the bad of parenthood: Thank You.

Children ARE a burden. The reason we’re biologically made to think of them as “cute” is so that we won’t want to just leave them on the road side because they are too much work. I want to have kids despite the fact that they’re a burden. They are a burden I’m willing to take on.

The “rewards” that these procreation sales people keep talking about are not always a guarantee, so they should stop peddling their BS. It makes people who do have kids end up expecting way too much; it makes people who don’t want to have kids feel like they’re abnormal.

Do I look forward to the first time my future kids laugh and smile at me? Yes. Do I look forward to the first time they tell me about someone they like? Yes. But I know enough not to expect those things. Too many things could go wrong with having children that for me to expect only happiness and fulfillment from having children is just plain misguided.

Folks who think they have to “tell” other people how to live their lives should kindly shut the hell up.

Windows…. Why You Be Like This?

So I finally have some time to write about the horrid experience I had with Microsoft and Lenovo.

How It Started…

I have Nvidia Geforce graphics card built into my laptop. Whenever Nvidia has a new driver update, it usually messes up my monitor display. I’ve learned to ignore it.

At 10 am on Tuesday morning, my Lenovo Y5010P machine booted up with a black screen. The mouse icon was there, and moves around, but that’s about it. I try all the fixes suggested by Google-sphere, but to no avail.

I go on Microsoft Chat. First guy I talk to goes through a bunch of steps with me, nothing worked. Final suggestion was to re-install Windows. Fine

Reinstalling Windows

What the guy failed to tell me was that because I got a free upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1, I would most likely lose validity of my OS upon reinstall; he had me download the OS from their website.

Essentially, I was reinstalling a new retail version of Windows 10.

The Shit Storm 

Four hours later, my machine is back up and running. I needed to catch up with my work day. I go to reinstall all my work software. Turns out my Windows OS is no longer activated. I couldn’t use certain administrative functions. Um. What?

I call Microsoft, I’m told that I now have a new retail copy of Windows 10 installed on my machine.

….

I explain my situation to the guy, he says no problem; just give him the product key of my original Windows 8.1 and he can generate a Windows 10 product key for me.

I don’t have my original product key.

Guy tells me it’s on a sticker on the bottom of my laptop. Yah. Not there.

I’m told to call Lenovo.

Lenovo customer service can’t help me, passes me to tech support. Tech Support guy told me he’ll send me a recovery disk (who still uses these?) of Windows 8.1 and I can generate a product key from that–for a cost of $70 USD.

Why am I paying any money for something I already owned?

I yelled at the Tech Support guy. I’m extremely pissed at this point. I have never yelled at a random person on the phone before, but now I’m yelling. I told the guy why I would possibly pay money for something I already had.

He just went on to tell me I should choose one of the 4 options of payment.

I told him I’m going to call Microsoft back to get them to do something for me. He actually laughed at me and says they won’t do a thing for me. I hung up on him.

I called Microsoft back, 2 different times.

Long Story Short

I got my Windows activated, but it was 3 calls later. It was the most frustrated I’ve ever been for a while. I go through to reinstall my work software on the newly activated Windows 10; only to find that the first guy who advised me to install had given me a Windows 10 Home version…. meaning I could not use SQL Server (you need Pro).

I had been using SQL Server on my machine before Windows crapped out… and now I’m looking at paying either $100 for Windows Pro or go through another 8 hour phone fiasco with Windows.

I’m ashamed to say that I paid. $100 dollars is worth avoiding 8 hours of tearing out my hair, yelling at people over the phone.

OS Monopoly

Thanks for reading the bitch fest. I hear many people tell me to just switch to Linux or Mac… but the reality is, Microsoft has a monopoly over enterprise software. If this was a computer for personal use, I’d switch in a second (I had Linux for 3 years on my old laptop), but this laptop is for work, where I need to run certain software that’s only available in Windows.

And yah, why not dual boot, why not get a Mac and use bootcamp or parallels; because in the end, doing all that is still a hassle.

It’s amazing that in this day and age (is this a common phrase for old 30 year old ladies to use now??), we’re still putting up with so much shitty user experience with technology.

Or maybe, our expectations were too high in the first place.

 

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People Value Us Only As Much As We Value Ourselves

I learned a difficult lesson today. Some of you will think I should have learned this lesson long before I turn 30, but unfortunately I didn’t.

The Job

I took a job in September of 2012, right after I went home from Stamford. It started as a part time customer service job at a small IT Firm, but with room to advance. Even though the pay was shit, the hours suited me because my main purpose going back  home was to continue my studies.

When I started there, I really enjoyed the work environment. The firm was run by a couple of easy going guys who treated their employees like family (they just didn’t pay them like family). My given tasks at work were not stringent; I didn’t feel like I was locked in a box. At my initial interview with them, I felt comfortable enough with them to candidly say, “I am trying to be a writer.”

I had never said that before, at any interview. At all the job interviews I had previously, I always felt the need to say, “I want this job because this is what I see myself doing in 5 years.” I always felt the need to appear loyal and without personal goals; I felt the need to play the corporate suck up game. At this job, with these people, I felt I would have the freedom for personal growth. There was no clock to punch, no set breaks, no strict lunch hour rules.

Once I started working there, I found that I had even more freedom. They didn’t have a new employee training program; they just sat me down at a desk, gave me my general responsibilities, and told me to go at it. I was allowed to handle my work in whatever way I thought best. As long as our customers were happy in the end my superiors didn’t need to know the details.

In other words, there would be no micro-management.

Going Full Time

Needless to say, I really enjoyed my work environment. Soon I was learning a whole lot more from this job than I ever did from any other job. I would take one way of doing something and then have the opportunity to improve upon it in a way that I saw fit. I learned how to support our products and our sales force relatively fast.

So at the end of my three month probation, they offered me a full time position. They were very happy with my progress, they felt I was learning well, and that I fit into their company environment. I would be a salaried employee, benefits and all.

Here is where I made my first mistake. I still remember sitting across from these 2 guys who owned the company while we chatted over pho. They gave me their first offer, I took it right away. I was even happy to.

Little did I know; this was a salary negotiation, and I just took the first low-ball offer that was meant to set a baseline.

I realised my mistake much later, by then I felt it was too late and “not worth” arguing over. I rationalized with myself that I wouldn’t be working here long term, so it didn’t matter in the long run that I didn’t get paid as much as I could have been.

Not to mention: even though I was full time, they were keeping my hours flexible for me to fit around my school schedule. So that was another reason not to complain.

Taking Over 

A couple of months after I took their offer, our project manager left on paternity break. There was suddenly an empty role that our office was scrambling to fill. This is when I realised exactly how unorganized this small company was. They had known about our PM’s departure months ahead, but they had never planned for how to fill this role? How is that possible? (Later I would realise that they most likely hired me to fill his role… but they listed the position as customer service in order to keep the pay low).

So, because I admired these guys for the work place they provided, I took on more and more responsibilities without asking for any additional pay (another mistake). I took over our project manager’s regular duties, while still answering daily customer questions and complaints. Then I took it one step further; I started working on building a proper SOP for our company (we’d never had one) as I saw these were things that were drastically improve productivity.

I created our company’s training program, so that if and when we received new employees, there would now be an introductory packaged that explained our products. In the package, there were detailed manuals that I built from scratch about every one of our products so that any new employees would have easy access to this information.

I should make this clear: my company never asked me to take any of these extra responsibilities; however, improving the inner workings of our company was a way for me to make my daily work easier to handle.

By April 2013, eight months after I first began working there as a part time customer service monkey, I became valuable enough to the company for me to leverage for some real benefits.

Appreciation Time

In May 2013, I made the decision to finally move to Stamford to be with my then boyfriend. We had been in a long distance relationship since the end of 2011, and both of us had had enough. I also made the difficult decision at this time to give up on my studies as my chosen degree would prove to be useless on the job market. At the time I struggled with the decision of switching over to a degree in IT (I found, through this job, that I enjoyed working with computers, networks, and databases), but doing so would mean at least another 2 years of studying, which translated to more time away from boyfriend.

When I finally decided, I thought… a degree in IT will always be there. I can get it when boyfriend and I settle down somewhere. And valuable time with my boyfriend? That won’t always be there.

So at this time, I was able to leverage my value to this company and convince them to let me work from Stamford. I would be able to do most of what I currently take care of via email, phone, and online meetings. (We never had a meeting with clients face to face back in Vancouver… as most of our clients were in America).

To my surprise, they accepted my proposal. At the time, I was thanking my lucky stars… I didn’t realise exactly how valuable my work was to them at the time, and I also believed it was uncommon for employers to agree to such an arrangement. Ecstatic that I’d negotiated myself such a great deal, I packed my bags, hugged my friends and family, and flew over to Stamford with the thought that long distance was over for good.

Two Years Later

In the last 2 years since I first “moved” to Stamford, I’ve been back and forth to Vancouver for long stretches of time due to the Visa situation between USA & Canada. I spent some time working in the office back home, and I’ve spent time away.

My work since then has only improved. In the rough 2 years I had to spend time working from here, I was able to focus the neurotic energy from having no one to talk to all day into fine-tuning the systems I had in place that ensured timely delivery of our products and proper operations within our company. In mid-2014, I took these results to my bosses and requested from them a raise; they were reluctant, but they granted it as they could not ignore the results I presented.

How I Really Screwed Up

At the end of 2014, my boss sent an email addressed to the “whole team”. There was no one person called out directly. The gist of the email was that he felt that allowing employees to work remotely was reducing our company’s overall productivity and efficiency. His solution was to have these “remote” employees return to work in the office, or have them look for a different job.

Interestingly, this email was sent at the tail end of my vacation in November, 2014. It was evident that my boss was having a difficult time managing (for 3 weeks) the responsibilities that he was used to having me take care of.

Either way, I went to visit my home town for Christmas, 2014. It was there that I–fearful of losing my job–agreed to switch from employee to contractor status. My boss assured me that I would not lose any pay; if anything, they were going to round UP my monthly pay so I received a bit more. He explained that this was a win-win situation as they would be saving costs on paying my medical insurance (which I no longer needed as I was living in the USA, and on my husband’s insurance) and vacation pay.

Impulsively I agreed. It’s my fault for believing that I shouldn’t look a “gift horse” in the mouth. In the end, the horse wasn’t a gift at all.

The Realization

A January (or February?) evening in 2015: My husband and I were chatting randomly about the switch over of my employment status. When my husband heard “contractor”, he asked me if the income I agreed to was pre-tax or post-tax.

I didn’t know.

A quick email to our company’s accountant revealed that my monthly income (which I now send them an invoice for) was pre-tax, meaning that I must pay taxes from it.

A quick calculation revealed that, indeed, my pay had been cut drastically because of this switch over.

At the time, I was angry. I felt lied to and cheated. I also understood that there was no one to blame but myself, for trusting my boss and not doing the research I should have done. There’s nothing worse than knowing that you have only yourself to blame for the pickle you’re in.

My husband encouraged me to talk to my bosses. After some thought, I refused. I was scared. I believed that if I said anything at all about how unhappy I was, my company would easily tell me, “goodbye”. In my mind, I needed this job, I could not be unemployed.

So I let them devalue my work, I let them devalue my contributions. I was convinced that they wouldn’t care about keeping me on if I demanded more wage.

The Straw that Broke

Recently, in a company meeting, my boss suggested that I work weekends as well. It would be “on call”, he said.

I asked him if there would be additional pay. He said no.

Cue long argument of me explaining to him that being “on call” is considered work time, and therefore should be compensated. He disagreed.

I refused the suggestion. He said we would talk about it later.

It was after this discussion that I realised… my boss took advantages of me that I allowed him to take. When I asked myself, where did he get the AUDACITY to ask me to work for FREE? My only answer was, he got the permission from me.

I gave him permission to do this when I didn’t ask for a higher salary at our very first salary negotiation.

I gave him permission to do this when I picked up additional responsibilities without requesting for more pay.

I gave him permission to do this when I kept my mouth shut about the income decrease I took from agreeing to contractor status.

It was all on me. He continued to try to take advantage of my situation because I let him.

The Lesson 

So here it is. And it’s something my husband tried to tell me time and again: people value us only as much as we value ourselves.

This was a hard lesson to learn, and I wish it didn’t get to this point before I realised that I can’t just take the first thing someone offers to me because that’s what I thought I deserved; I have to know what I’m worth and not be afraid to argue my worth with someone who devalues me.

Poor Milton…

I can’t just keep my head down and grumble my silly resentments (hello Milton!) and do nothing about it; because how will my situation ever improve if I rely on others to be “good people who would realise how they’ve wronged me and just pay me what I’m worth”?

The reality is, people are not honorable, not when it comes to making money. Your employers aren’t there to “look out for your best interests”. They operate a business to make money, not to make friends. So it’s up to ourselves to improve our worth, know our worth, and learn how to get the best deal we can get with what we have.

I wonder if they teach you this at business school.

Windows 10: Day 3

Day 3 on Windows 10: Some Issues

As expected, I did come across some issues after I started using Windows 10.

TubHub SaysI told you so. You should have waited the 2 weeks.

ISSUE 1 (UNSOLVED):

I could no longer launch NVIDIA control panel:

NVIDIA

As far as I could tell, the programs (games) that are set to launch with GeForce graphfics driver still seems to be set that way, however, I can no longer use NVIDIA’s control panel to toggle which programs are to switch over to GeForce.

I spent about 4 hours online trying to find a fix for this issue. I tried all the known fixes (uninstall both Intel & GeForce drivers, reinstall them) I even chatted with NVIDIA Online Support. They took a look at my system and noted that the GeForce driver was reinstalled properly, and that my only option is to reinstall the Intel graphics driver. (Which I tried… but every time I uninstalled it from device manager and did a reboot, it would automatically appear in device manager again).

I gave up on trying to find a fix for now and I’m hoping if I wait a while for other laptop users to have the same problem, there will be more answers online.

ISSUE 2 (SOLVED):

When I first updated, the start menu was opening properly when I hit the windows key on my keyboard, or when I clicked the windows icon from my task bar.

Sometime on July 31st, the start menu and the search menu stopped displaying. I would click the windows key (from keyboard or from task bar), and it would seem to process (round blue circle going), but then nothing would happen.

I thought it was just a glitch that would go away after a reboot, so I ignored it for a couple of days until this morning.

This fix was easier to find, but I actually had to try a few before it actually worked.

This is the first fix I tried.

Method 1 didn’t work for me because right clicking on the PowerShell icon (to use the run as administrator option) from taskbar did nothing. So I used Method 2:

  1. Method 2:
    1. Right click Start button
    2. Choose Command prompt (Admin)
    3. Key in Powershell in the black window and hit Enter.
  2. Paste the following command in the Administrator: Windows PowerShell window and press Enter key:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  3. Wait for PowerShell to execute and complete the command. Ignore the few errors (in red color) that may pop up.
  4. When it finishes, try hitting Start and hopefully it’ll start working. If not, this solution won’t apply to you, unfortunately.

The command did run and it seemed to be processing. Unfortunately after I rebooted my system, it did not solve the problem.

The 2nd fix I tried also had 2 options.

I tried the 1st option, but the command (ren %windir%\System32\AppLocker\Plugin*.* *.bak)  it told me to run in command prompt returned a directory did not exist message.

So on to option 2:

Another fix for the The Start Menu Does Not Work problem is:

  1. Right-click at Start and click RUN
  2. type SERVICES.MSC and press the enter key
  3. right click on APPLICATION IDENTITY and select START
  4. Be happy… a reboot is not required

This fix actually worked for me. Note how it says a reboot is not required? Nah, I had to reboot to get my windows key functional again.

To celebrate, here’s a screenshot of my functional start menu:

startmenu working

(Yes, that is a photo of my niece in between Microsoft Edge and Cortana)