Since companies like Google or the Austin- and Portland-based start-ups of the world have become famous for their fun and liberal company culture, it seems that more and more companies are trying to jump on the fun train. Millennials continue to rank work/life balance and a positive company culture just as or more important than traditional perks like health insurance and PTO. The quality of work life has become a driving factor in choosing to work with a company. According to a new study by Fidelity, "On average, millennials would be willing to give up $7,600 in salary every year to work at a job that provided a better environment for them." All kinds of corporate team building activities have been growing increasingly popular, with some seeming more like a Michael Scott idea than a real one.
Last week, a few members of my team and I decided to try our own hand at team building outside of the office and chose to go to a local New York City Escape Room called Exodus. Here's the premise of an Escape Room. You start with a team of 2-10 players and agree to being locked in a small room where you must work together to find a key that unlocks the door to get out in less than hour. If you don't make it out in 60 minutes, you lose.
Over the past decade, the interest in Escape Rooms has been steadily growing across the country. Not only do you get to test your analytical skills and puzzle solving capabilities, but your sense of patience and level-headedness under pressure are brought to light as well. Escape Rooms are a fun way to challenge yourself with a small group of friends, coworkers, or even strangers if you team up with other patrons. My coworkers and I formed an average sized team of five and had never done much more outside of the office than the occasional work Happy Hour, so we were excited and a bit nervous.
We had three rooms to choose from: Exodus is recommended for first timers, Hound of Baskerville is the next level up and Masquerade Manor is for the most experienced players. We went for Exodus since only one of us had ever tried an Escape Room before. The Exodus room had an Indiana Jones vibe and was set in a museum with Egyptian artifacts. The premise of the story is that we're in the New York History Museum and the ghost of the evil Pharaoh Ramses II has possessed the art curator and is devising the end of the world. We were given a brief introduction to the facility and a short list of rules, then the timer began and we were left alone to "escape the room."
Exodus Escape the Room
The experience that followed wasn't claustrophobic or stressful like I had anticipated, but instead taught me a valuable lesson about teamwork. We were working with each other and found ourselves repeating "leave no stone unturned" (seriously, we were fully embracing it). Every member of the team was contributing in different ways and it was entertaining to see how each of us worked under pressure. Because we were a team of coworkers, the sense of camaraderie was high and the trash talking kept to a minimum.
We made it out in a boastful 37 minutes and were surprised by the sense of accomplishment we all felt afterward. Getting to see where everyone's skills lie was fascinating and revealed that everyone on a team adds value. One person was looking more abstract, another person was looking more at details that most of us didn't notice, while someone else was re-reading all of the clues. The game revealed how different perspectives brought to the table can help solve a problem more efficiently. It was fun to see how we reacted to different puzzles and mind games especially with the pressure of the timer thrown in the mix. We didn't even have to ask for a clue! We felt a sense of accomplishment when we successfully "escaped the room," and we all agreed we'd do it again. The game was more fun and challenging than we had expected, and we were proud of ourselves for working together to make solve the mystery.
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The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) surveyed young adults in 2017 and asked them what high school level course would benefit their lives the most.
The majority responded that money management was the course that would be most beneficial.
With personal debt is at its highest record and COVID-19 threatening to have the hardest economic effects on youth, understanding money and finances is an important life lesson that should be taught to children at a young age.
The following is a list of the best financial literacy lessons and tips to teach children throughout different life stages.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.
There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).
After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.
It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.
That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.
I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.
Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.
Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).
More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.
The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.
I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.
My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.
In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.
We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.
I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.
One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.
Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:
1. Betting has never been easier
Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.
2. The biggest selection of horse races out there
If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.
3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet
Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.
4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button
With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!
5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating
Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.
With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.
TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.
The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.