Communication. It's such a vast term that has undergone so many changes in the past few decades. Before the era of the Internet, communication involved playing phone tag all day, sending (gasp!) mail, and hosting clients (double gasp!) in person. Now, with the convenience of email, we can organize our daily communications through our inboxes. But think about how we communicate outside of work. We're talking texting. According to TextRequest, in June of 2014, there were over 561 billion text messages sent around the world. And we guarantee a good percentage of those were sent out during business hours. So how about combining the communication pastime we all love within the office environment? Enter, Slack.
What is it?
Slack is a messaging app that boasts "team communication for the 21st century." With the ability to organize team conversations in labeled "channels," you can speak freely to your teammates without bothering those that prefer the quiet. Public channels are ways for all of your team to chime in, and private channels can be created between smaller groups to brainstorm individual projects. You can also send direct messages to people, just like texting, so you can ask anything to anyone you need.
But Slack is much more than just a way for you to annoy your coworkers all day with requests work-related and not. It's also a way to share files including images, PDFs, documents and spreadsheets, which you can then star or comment on. It's also compatible with Box, Google Drive, and Dropbox, so you can search directly for the documents you seek.
Why use it?
If you're one of the people that likes seeing their inbox full of thousands of messages a day, Slack may not be for you. But for the rest of us, Slack is a great way to get important messages out promptly (with desktop notifications) that free up our inboxes from unnecessary fluff. It also builds camaraderie! The #random channel allows you to get your fill of after-hours banter when you need a pick-me-up or a funny meme to get you motivated. Off your desktop, the Slack app keeps you updated on the run!
The best part
Slack is totally free for teams of all sizes for as long as you want! That makes it a risk-free system to integrate into your workplace. If you're interested in more cool features and controls, of course there is a paid standard and plus plan, which can give you group voice and video calls, more storage, and user provisioning and deprovisioning.
Slack has been known to increase productivity by providing workers with the chance to communicate faster and more efficiently.
Want to learn more about Slack? Click here!
Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.
Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.
But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.
Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.
Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.
More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.
Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.
Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.
Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.