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Monday, May 2, 2011

So Now You Are a Family Jet

Congratulations to those who have been accepted!  

The excitement of this moment will last for a few days enjoy it but I hate to break it to you, it will soon give way to a lot of other thoughts, worries and concerns.
You now have have under 3 months to get everything in your life packed, put away, stored, and secured for at least a year and probably more. 

I know that as a Family JET you have thought long and hard about the process and have already made of list of “To Do’s” but I will try to give some general advice about things I did or wish I had done in my time pre-take-off.

That List….  MAKE ONE!
  • But don’t just write out a list a "To Do's"  it can just add to your stress levels to see this long list of things you NEED or want to get done.  I would suggest making it a much more practical type of list. I have been reading this great Book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and I wish I had read it before I got accepted  (You can find a torrent for it if you want to read it or listen to the audio book. I have both).  Basically it says When you make that "To Do" list make sure you know and write down what the next actionable step for each thing on that list is.  If it will take less than 2 minutes do it right away. If it can be put into a calendar (i.e. A doctors appointment on a specific day) then schedule it on your calendar.  If it isn’t one of those two keep it in a list of things you will check daily. 
  • It will help a lot to have a list of things, with practical actions to take, that you will check regularly.  Then when you have a moment of spare time (they will be few are far between) you will be able to better evaluate the next thing you can check off that list because you will know what the next step you need to take is.  (If I just confused the hell out of you... I suggest you download the book or message me and I will figure a way to get it to you)
Get Work Clothes (and do it as cheaply as possible)
  • You may be a someone who enjoys wearing shirts and ties,  I am not.  I had maybe 3 shirts and ties before being accepted.  The idea of wearing a shirt and tie everyday really sucked! But I figured I’d better get as many comfortable outfits as I could so life would be as easy as possible (washing and drying clothes takes a lot longer in Japan).  Ladies I’m sorry this advice is for men’s clothes but I am sure it will apply a little for you as well.
  • First, I hit up the 2nd hand stores. In Toronto Value Village was awesome for men’s shirts and ties.  But be careful, you will be analyzed for what you wear and anything too old will get people talking.
  • Second, it was the discount stores.  Winners was great for ties.  I got about 4 ties there for under $10 each.  I didn’t find much for my size but if you have a 34” waist or below pants will be a good deal there as well.
  • Next were the big sale days.  At the Department stores in TO there are some good deals to be had on the weekends.  We even had some weekends where the deals were hourly.  Keep your eyes on the flyers for times and prices.  I got all of my pants this way and paid less than half price for almost all of them.
  • Lastly I found some great deals in a place I never expected.  I have to wear Tall shirts (I have a longer than average upper body) so I went to see what the “Big and Tall” store had and to my shock they had a constantly refreshed rack of Shirts and Pants for 50% off, all the time. And if you sign up for their newsletter you get an additional 10% every purchase. I bought most of my shirts there, they fit me perfectly, and I got at least 60% off everyone. 
  • I now have 10 shirts and a rack of ties.  I still feel like I could use a few more but it was awesome to save a lot of $$$ on the things I had to get.
  • **** If you can find some funky ties that suit your personality or show off where your from get them!!!  I have a tie with NHL teams on it that cost me 99¢ at Value Village that is by far the favourite of my students and co-workers.****

Make Doctors Appointments for Everyone
  • Get everyone to the doctor for a check up.  Make sure to make the appointments early so that any tests and results can be finished before you have to leave. 
  • Depending on your children's ages make sure you find out their vaccination schedule.  If possible get as many done before you leave (the schedule in Japan is very different). Make sure you know the vaccinations you what your child to have for sure, which ones can be put off until your return, and which ones you will need to get in Japan.

Bank Accounts and Credit Cards
  • I would suggest that you set up a bank account that you can control online.  You will have things you need take care of from time to time that will require an active bank account you can control.  I would also check to see if your bank allows for “Email money transfers”.  They are great during the holidays for receiving and giving gifts.
  • If you will be trying to send money back home (which is hard to do as a Family JET) the bigger your bank the easier it will be.  The GoLlyods International remittance service (http://www.golloyds.com/index/en) is used by many people (we haven't used it) and is supposed to work with most (or any) bank account.
  • I would suggest you keep at least one credit card from home.  It comes in very handy when you need to get things over the internet.  We use ours to buy things back in Canada all the time.

Life insurance, wills, etc.

  • No matter what stage of Life you are these things are a good idea.  And, with recent events in Japan it seems all the more prudent to get these done before you leave.  Make sure your family or someone at least knows what to do in case something happens.  Make sure you have those tough conversations about "what should happen if…."  We made sure that we talked with and put down in writing who we wanted to take care of the kids, what we wanted done with our finances and things, and funeral arrangements. Its not the funnest conversation or the happiest one but it is very important when it involves your kids.  You don't want someone else making those choices for you.
  • We got an affordable amount of life insurance, set up education savings accounts, and wrote out a will.  You can hire someone or do it yourself but make sure you put things in place so that if something happens things are taken care of the way you want them to be.