Just when you thought you've seen enough of your co-workers after a long and hard workweek, Derek from marketing invites you to join him and a group of office mates for a few post-work drinks at the sports bar down the street. Sure, a well-deserved glass of chardonnay or a pint of lager sounds like just what the doctor ordered (if your doctor moonlights as a bartender), but is going out socially, especially when alcohol is involved, a good idea?

Before you turn down Derek's invitation and you go home to binge watch something mindless while munching on leftover, hopefully still safe to eat Chinese food, consider going out for happy hour a good thing.

As Cheat Sheet recommends, "Go! Don't limit your social options at the office just because you're not sure what the best protocol is. Even if you'd prefer to not drink (whether for personal, religious, or other reasons), there's nothing stopping you from getting a lime and tonic and fitting right in, alcohol or not."

As long as you don't get sloshed and do something regrettable, here's why happy hour with the work crew gets two thumbs up.

Get to Know One Another

Your office environment probably doesn't leave much room or time to get to know your co-workers on a personal level. Yes, you may pick up on others' unique personality traits and learn a smidge here and there about who likes which baseball team and the latest juice cleanse everyone's trying, but most talk revolves around work (or at least it ought to).

Happy hour gives you and your co-workers a chance to connect on a different level. As per Fast Company, "Part of the social glue that binds your work community together happens at these after-hours events. The shared experience creates inside jokes and group memories."

It's Good for Your Career

According to Forbes, "The casual atmosphere (of happy hour) will likely lead all attendees to get to know each other better, on a more personal level, which could actually help advance careers. Those who aren't in attendance could miss a discussion that leads to a big project involving those who were there."

Even if you only join the gang every once in a while, it's better than never going at all. You may be viewed as "not being a team player," as per Forbes. Although the setting is outside the office, all the same players are present with work still on their minds. Business talk is sure to come up and it's nice to be part of the conversation.

Fast Company suggests that developing relationships with colleagues can help you feel closer to the group leasing to improved overall job satisfaction.

Just remember, if you plan to knock back a drink or two, take public transportation or designate a driver. And if you go out during the workweek, limit your consumption, because that 5:30 AM alarm clock will be torture on your hangover.

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

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.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

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.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

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 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.

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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.

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