3 Financial New Year’s Resolutions – It’s Not Too Late!
While we rang in the New Year a few weeks ago, it's still January after all, and planning for a fiscally stable and secure 2017 is still in the cards. Your resolutions to call your mom more frequently and give up chocolate may have already been broken, but financial fixes are always something to resolve to commit to.
Start simply with money-related changes that will benefit you and yours with the greatest impact for the long haul. Everyone can do better with financial planning and updates to their current habits and actions, so peruse these three resolutions to see if you can make some wise updates for the year to come.
Let's make 2017 your most financial stable yet and raise a glass to a prosperous year to come!
1. Budget and Track Spending
2017 is the perfect year to better budget and manage your spending habits. Even if you are savvy when it comes to shopping and saving, without a plan to follow and a way to keep tabs on spend, you are always susceptible to mismanage your finances or overspend without realizing it until the bills pile up.
Identify the major areas for which you need to spend money, be it home needs, educational costs for the kids, grocery shopping, etc. Based on your income and how much you need to save, list out how much you can afford to spend in each of these areas per month, with consideration for other costs such as gas, dining out, clothing, medical needs, etc.
As per Wallet Hub, The best way to make a budget is to gather your bills from the past few months and make a list of all your recurring expenses. Keep track of your ensuing monthly spending to make sure you're abiding by your budget."
If you need help with creating a budget that you can follow, consider a budgeting tool to guide you through the process. U.S. News & World Report identified 7 simple and free budgeting tools to lead the path for you financial planning.
With these tools, you will be more inclined to stick to your plans and easily adjust spending as the months change with possible income changes or new spending priorities.
2. Pay Off Credit
In order to dig yourself out of a financial hole bit by bit is to resolve to pay off those lingering credit card bills. Wallet Hub recommends to, "Repay 20% of your credit card debt. That would amount to about $1,680 for the average household, requiring monthly payments of $140 with a card offering 0% on transfers for at least 12 months." If you need assistance to work out the math, consider a credit card calculator to aid you.
Investopediasuggests, "Determine how much you can realistically afford to pay off during the year. For best results, try not to charge additional purchases on those cards while you're trying to pay down what you owe. If you have high interest credit card balances, consider whether it would be more beneficial to pay off those high interest debts or to add to your savings."
That said, before delving into a payment plan, be sure your credit information is accurate. U.S News & World Reportsuggests checking your credit report. "If you've stopped paying attention to your financial health, commit to requesting a free credit report on annualcreditreport.com."
As per Investopedia, "Review your credit report, and take steps to repair any negative aspects. A poor credit report could adversely affect the amount you are able to save, as it could result in you paying higher interest rates on loans, which reduces your disposable income."
Once you've cleared away any disputes or concerns, plan accordingly and see how much you can increase your pay off plan month by month until you're in the clear. Hopefully by 2018 you will enjoy a debt-free lifestyle!
3. Plan for Retirement
It's never too late to start thinking about the future, and saving for retirement can begin now if you haven't given it too much thought in the past. You're not getting any younger after all!
Investopedia recommends, "If you have access to a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan at work, consider instructing your employer to withhold enough through salary deferrals to ensure that you reach the maximum limit each year. If you'll be 50 or older by December 31, bump that amount to account for the additional catch-up contributions you're allowed to make."
U.S. News & World Report adds, "At the least, contribute enough to secure your employer's match, which is typically between 3 and 6 percent."
Review these retirement plan terms you should know so you're up-to-date on the lingo and terminology used when it comes to planning.
With strategic and steady planning and saving, your "golden years" will be free of financial worry and burden and you can retire with money to back you up.
So what are you waiting for? 2017's only just begun and your resolutions can be made right now. Look forward to a year that's sure to be your most financially smart and secure.
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!