What is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan, which commonly accrues interest over the years. Taxes are paid only when you take the money out of the account (which kind of explains why everyone is huffing and puffing over tax increases).

Some employers will match whatever you put into your 401(k), so that means….free money. If you leave your employer, you still get to keep the money. But if you take the money out earlier than when you retire, you'll be hit with taxes and a 10% penalty.

Still confused? Watch John Oliver break down the do's and don't's of 401(k) accounts in this hilarious video below:

What Is Social Security?

We hear politicians mention social security over and over again. And a lot of older people worry if social security will be drained by the time they retire. But what exactly does this all mean?

Social Security covers a lot of people in America, actually. It provides funding to retired and disabled workers, as well as to the families of deceased workers. Basically it does what the title implies. Think of it as one big safety net for the some of the nation's most vulnerable citizens.

According to a Time 2016 report, Social Security Trust is on track to run out by 2036, at which point only 75% of what it doles out will be from payroll taxes (you know, the part of the reason why your check is always slightly lower than what you expect it to be).

The projected depletion is why there are numerous calls to raise the retirement age.

How much should I be paying for rent?

The rule of thumb is that you should be spending no more than 30% of your income on rent. Therefore if you make $4,000 a month, your rent should be no more than $1,200.

Did my parents have it easier growing up?

Short answer, yes. If your parents were embarking on their careers before the 80s, inflation was lower, unions were stronger, and the job market was overall stronger. You can read more about the shift towards emphasizing owning bonds, increasing demand in the housing market, and encouraging consumers to take out as much credit as possible, here.

How Many credit cards are too many credit cards?

There is no magic number! What is most important is that you are paying all of your credit card bills regularly and managing your debt. So don't reverse logic yourself into thinking more credit cards is being more of an adult. Not biting off more than you can chew is what adulting is really all about.

What is the cheapest way to go out?

Drink at home beforehand (but no drinking and driving!), but also bring a set amount of hard cash with you out for the night. It's easy to keep swiping that card throughout the night. With a set amount of cash in hand, you're forced to pace yourself and know when it's a sign to call it a night.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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