Family VS Funds – My Story

Family VS Funds – My Story

As I mentioned in my blog post “Family VS Funds – An Observation”.  I currently work in the IT business. Specifically working with people to transform data into information.

Previously I worked in a client facing role which saw me and my colleagues travelling the length and breadth of the UK, with the occasional jaunt to Europe and the Americas. The work for which, we were fairly remunerated.

However after moving house, our head office was a good 40 minute drive each way, and most of our clients were a 1-2 hour journey away.

After a year of living out of my suitcase 5 days a week, including times where I would get home after 7pm, and be back out on the road before 6am. I decided despite working with some of the best and smartest people/co-workers/friends I could imagine, the lifestyle just wasn’t for me!

I decided to shift gears, and found a similar role, working for a company in the same town as my residence, a family run company where all of my “clients” would be internal/co-workers with the only travel being the very rare site visit to another of facilities.

Whilst my salary did not increase/decrease by more than 2% in an industry where 6-8% pay increases are not uncommon, I went from a situation where I was working and commuting on average 11-12 hours a day on a 40 hour working week, to working and commuting on average 9-10 hours a day on a 36.5 hour week.  Including 50 minutes of exercise, as I was now able to ride my bicycle to work.

I also benefited from an early finish on a Friday which meant I was able to beat my other half home from work by a couple of hours, do a lot of our weekend chores before they arrived home, and also increase my personal research and development time, giving us more of our free time as a couple back. As opposed to my previous routine which could see me fall through the front door at 7pm, having a quick drink and dinner, before hitting the hay and counting down the minutes until that dreaded Monday morning.

The change of jobs hasn’t been all roses of course, as the career progression isn’t as unlimited in my new role meaning my projected future earnings have taken a big hit, and I have lost touch with some of the newer technologies my former co-workers are playing with. But at the end of the day I believe those of us who haven’t found that fabled job they love, should take actions to ensure that our jobs are part of our lives but not our entire lives!

No one dies wishing they had spent more time in a suit in an open plan office, looking at a computer screen, and less time with their loved ones…

Family VS Funds – What is your time worth?

Family VS Funds – What is your time worth?

Continuing my mini-series on family vs funds, I now want to look at choosing the right job vs the highest paying job.

I must start by saying, that I understand some people are not fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose their job, but usually (not always) those sorts of jobs are 40 hour week jobs, with very little travel/commuting involved, so aren’t considered in my primary motivation for this post.

Lets focus on a loose example of an IT support worker, living in Woking, Surrey.  They have been offered a job in Woking, and another in London.  We’re going to try and keep things simple, so lets say they can walk to the train station within 5 minutes and the office is right outside London Waterloo, mean while the job in Woking is on the other side of town, but within walking distance.

IT Support (London) IT Support (Woking)
Location Waterloo Woking
Salary (annually) £36,000 £26,000
Commute time (one way) 45 minutes 20 minutes
Commute cost (annually) £3,248 £300

On the face of it, the London job is going to leave us £7,752 after tax better off every year. But lets dive deeper and look at the take home pay of each job.  To keep things simply we’ll assume we’re repaying a student loan, but have no pension provisions, or children to worry about and will only consider the cost of commuting as a difference between the two.

IT Support (London) IT Support (Woking)
Commute cost £270.66 £20.00
Take Home £2,200 £1,709
Remaining £1,930 £1,689

After factoring in the cost of an annual season ticket to Waterloo, against the cost of walking, but with some money set aside for taking the bus/ taxi or servicing a bike. we can see our post tax earnings are £241 higher for the London role.

Now I think I have been quite generous in the pay gap between the two roles, and have been very kind in favour of London on the journey times, as most people would expect to add a 10 minute journey time to each end, and perhaps a 10-40 minute tube trip once they reach Waterloo.

But consider this, would you take that extra £60 a week, at the expense of a shorter journey to work with some gentle exercise thrown in, verses being crammed onto a pack train?

Not counting the inevitable train delays, or that timev you got held up at the office by 5 minutes, leaving you waiting another 15 minutes for the next train.  Would you give up the opportunity to spend an extra hour a day with your family?

I appreciate that when making a decision you have to consider a number of other factors such as career progression, additional benefits and alignment with values/principles. But the next time you apply for a job, perhaps you would consider the pros and cons of an extend commute, not just for you but for your family and the wider community.

In the next installment I will dive deeper into my story, and why I have made the decisions I made regarding my employment to put me in a position to be more than just an IT guy.

Family VS Funds – An Observation

Family VS Funds – An Observation

This is quite a personal topic for me, as I see the issue of people choosing to spend endless hours commuting and working over time with their family, becoming an ever increasing issue.

Living in the South East of England, a significant number of people commute over an hour to work each way, it’s not uncommon for some people to commute 2 hours each way door to do on a daily basis, especially for people working in London.

Back when I was a Business Intelligence Consultant it would not be unexpected for me to drive from my home in North East Hampshire (5 minutes from our head office at the time) to a client in Milton Keynes; a good two hour drive of monotonous motorway, usually in the rain and dark. Even with London based clients it’d take 20 minutes to walk to the train station 50-60 minutes stood on an overcrowded train to get to London Waterloo, another 30 minutes stood on two different underground trains, and then another 10 minute walk at the other end.

Perhaps the most depressing part for me, wasn’t related to my own circumstances but was when I got on my first train at 6am, still an hour away from London, and it was rammed with people commuting from even further away, most on a daily basis. Or perhaps it was because despite being surrounded by 80-100 people in a single carriage earning millions between them each year, I never saw one of them smile.

Obviously I cannot comment on exactly why people decide to choose this particular lifestyle, but from interactions, it usually comes down to the person not being in a position to give up that fabled big city salary. But with that you usually find they are living a lifestyle based on their (usually higher tax bracketed) big city salary as opposed to finding a salary for the lifestyle they and their family need! In the end they find themselves spending sums of money like £5,000 on an annual train ticket, and £2,000 on after school childcare, because they are unwilling to take a £10,000 pay cut (equating to £5-6,000 after tax) to find a job closer to home.

This is leaving society with a generation of children who are being raised by social media and their social groups, while their parents spend 5 days a week working and commuting from alarm clock to bed time. Leading to young adults who are eating Tide pods for the attention of their social media followers, in an effort to replace the attention they miss from their ever working, ever commuting parents.

New direction

In the last few months my passion for and research against SQL Server has lessened slightly to make way for further studies in the field of ethnography.

In 2018 the blog will change direction, as I look to focus my posts around self improvement and identifying opportunities for others to help themselves.

SQL–Excluding zero value records

A challenge I was tasked with recently was providing an SSRS report, where by a user could choose to exclude rows from a table if a particular quantity column contained a zero value.

Originally this coloured me perplexed, until I got my head around the logic required in my where clause which feeds into the data source of my SSRS report.

So for my own future reference and on the off chance any one else faces a similar problem, here is a snippet of the code I used:

SELECT          ItemNumber
FROM          Orders
WHERE        ((@ExcludePur = 1 AND PurchasedYTD <> 0) OR (@ExcludePur = 0) )
                      AND ((@ExcludeSold = 1 AND SoldYTD <> 0) OR (@ExcludeSold = 0) )
                      AND ((@ExcludeUsed = 1 AND UsedYTD <> 0) OR (@ExcludeUsed = 0) )
ORDER BY   ItemNumber

All three parameters have to passed a value, and are not optional, so in this case we can use an “AND” clause to compare all three filters, and then use an “OR sub clause to exclude zero value records if the relevant parameter =1. Otherwise if the parameter = 0 we’ll not limit the result set.

(Apologies for the dodgy formatting, I am still finding my feet with my new blog writing tool)

SQL–Function To Remove Non-numeric Characters

Such a simple task in hindsight, but if you’re scratching your head about how to remove non-numeric characters from a string, this function should help you.

The function uses the in built STUFF and PATINDEX functions to identify a characters which aren’t numeric (0-9) and replace each non-numeric character with an empty string (‘’).


   1: CREATE Function [xFnRemoveNonNumericCharacters](@strText VARCHAR(1000))


   3: AS

   4: BEGIN

   5:     WHILE PATINDEX('%[^0-9]%', @strText) > 0

   6:     BEGIN

   7:         SET @strText = STUFF(@strText, PATINDEX('%[^0-9]%', @strText), 1, '')

   8:     END

   9:     RETURN @strText

  10: END

SQL and the ALT+Shift shortcut

Something i’ve come across recently is the number of developers out there who don’t know about one of my favourite SQL Server management studio(SSMS) shortcuts. The ALT+Shift command to select an area of onscreen real estate.

This shortcut allows you to select a cross section of lines and rows in in SSMS and add/remove text. This is very good when you want to add something simple like a comma, or a table alias to the beginning of a number of columns.  In the example below, we’ll simply add the typename function to a couple of ID’s, in reality this isn’t going to save much time but just imagine the scenarios were you’ve repetitively copied and pasted the same 2-3 letters, line after line.

My starting point:

From here I want to position my cursor between the comma and the ‘S’ on line three.  Next I simply hold ALT+Shift and then press down.

After doing this I can simply start typing, and should see my typed letters appearing on both lines:

Once that is done, I simply need to go to the end of each line and add my closing bracket.

Finally, in the last screenshot I am simply showing how I can select a range of characters over multiple lines and either delete that which is constraint to my select box or replace it with a set of alternative values.