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What to Do if You Overspent During the Holidays

Thanks to credit cards and one-click shopping, it’s almost inconceivable to get from Black Friday (which is now more of a mind-set than a specific day) to the new year without dipping your card or entering its numbers at a digital checkout. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers expected to spend a little more than $1,000 this holiday season, while some are probably still dealing with debt from last year.

That can make facing the aftermath of your holiday festivities feel as daunting as actually honoring your New Year’s resolutions. You might prefer to pretend all that spending didn’t occur rather than confront the engorged receipts, but you don’t want to start 2020 in the hole. Here’s how to get back on track.

You know that feeling when you’re racing 80 miles per hour on a highway, then you take an exit and suddenly find yourself blazing through city streets without realizing it? That’s called “velocitization.” Something similar happens after the holidays. You’re so used to buying constantly that your internal controls go berserk and your credit card balance balloons.

It’s a new year, and you need to ease back into a normal, healthy routine so you have the runway to reestablish your emergency fund or chip away at any debt.

“Hopefully you feel good about the special gifts you bought,” said Misty Lynch, head of financial planning at John Hancock, a Boston-based life insurance company. “But now it’s time for a bit of detox.”

Ms. Lynch suggested a few simple steps to help slow down the buying impulse in your brain. Unsubscribe from retailer email lists so you don’t see that post-holiday deal and unsave your credit card information from store websites. Avoid social media and all of those targeted ads — “anything you can do to make spending less convenient,” Ms. Lynch said.

In fact, try to avoid stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, altogether. Once you enter the retail world, every bit of stimulus is just another incentive to spend.

Most people don’t like to look at their finances when stuff goes south; they check their investments less when the market is down and they avoid their bank accounts when they have a negative balance. We hate to lose more than we love to win.

The same thing happens when we spend too much. A recent paper observed this so-called ostrich effect when it found that people who received a higher-than-usual spending alert via their bank app were less likely to log in to their account in the following days compared with someone who didn’t get an alert at all. People felt “psychological discomfort” from the negative implications of the message, said Sung Lee, a Ph.D. candidate in finance at New York University and the paper’s author.

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Accepting that you have a problem, though, is a crucial step in right sizing your finances. When you feel a flutter of anxiety as you log in to your account, know that you’re doing the right thing.

Begin with simple tasks to give yourself the mettle to go forward. Download your year-end credit card statements and separate your November and December spending from the rest of the year. (Or do the same thing digitally with You Need A Budget, our preferred budgeting app.)

Then assess what just happened. Did you spend more than you intended to, or more than you could afford? Do some cards have a balance that’s too big to completely pay off? Perhaps you could redeem the cash back rewards you amassed to reduce what you owe.

Awareness is paramount because ignored debt doesn’t go away — it metastasizes. Even if you pay the minimum amount due on your bill, the rest will be assessed interest, the average rate for which is currently around 17 percent.

Plus, it will help you raze the debt for good.

If your audit reveals a healthy portion of red tape, don’t beat yourself up. You’re not alone. Those who fall into debt over the holidays typically end up owing about $1,000 on their credit cards, according to annual surveys from Magnify Money, and about half of all borrowers revolve a payment at least once a year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Categorize your debt into one of two categories: quick payoff or longer payoff.

Quick payoff: If you can pay off your balance within a few months, set up automatic payments so you can wind it down while accruing as little interest as possible. This is a pretty straightforward proposition if you’re carrying a balance on just one card. Life gets more complicated if multiple I.O.U.s bedraggle your bottom line.

In that case (and in keeping with the frosty theme), we recommend snowballing your debt payments. Rather than paying down the balance with the highest interest rate, attack your lowest balance first. The good cheer that comes from that accomplishment will give you the necessary positive momentum to go after your next-largest debt.

You should also call your issuers and request a lower interest rate. This tactic may seem a bit on the nose, but it can be surprisingly successful — a 2018 survey by found that 56 percent of people who asked for a lower interest rate got one. However, only one in four cardholders even asked in the first place.

Long payoff: Big debts will require a bit more work. One clean solution, especially if you have multiple cards in the red, is to take out a personal loan. You’ll be able to consolidate your debt into one monthly payment, and you may be able to get an interest rate lower than what you’re currently paying on your credit cards (although personal loan interest rates can exceed 20 percent, depending on things like your credit history). Personal loans have become more popular, so shop around for rates before you commit.

Any of Wirecutter Money’s recommended balance transfer cards will give you a long period of zero percent A.P.R., during which time you can retire your debt interest-free — but in many cases, you’ll be charged a percentage of what you transfer as a one-time fee.

With that time comes freedom that may get you into trouble, though. A personal loan is repaid in fixed monthly payments over a set number of months, while a balance transfer leaves the business of repayment entirely up to you. Go the balance transfer route only if you’ve got the gumption to pay off your debt before interest kicks in.

Auditing your credit cards and consolidating your debt aren’t exactly “fun.” But that’s the price of going out over your skis. Use the time between now and next year’s holiday season to get ready.

You can look for a bank or credit union that offers a Christmas club account, something we’re particularly fond of, or you can get really creative: In 2018, NBC told the story of one woman who saved $40,000 over 13 years by stockpiling every $5 bill she received, while Wirecutter has previously reported on how starting a saving circle with a group of friends can be an easy way to accumulate cash.

At the very least, go back to your spending audit to get a sense of how much you’ll likely dish out during the upcoming holiday season. Working backward from that number, set up autosave to put a small portion of each paycheck you receive in a bank account (most banks will let you give it a funny name, like “stocking stuffer”). This should cover next year’s spree in full and help you avoid overspending again.

The assessment of financial products in this article are independently determined by Wirecutter and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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The Recruit Report 2019

Before 2019 draws to a close and we’re all back at the drawing boards to plan for 2020, we thought we’d share some of the updates, celebrations, and progress that we experienced together throughout this amazing year.

2019 couldn’t have ended better for us.

Right when we thought it was time to wrap up our annual reports, G2 Crowd hit us with another big one.

Zoho Recruit was named as the best ATS across the globe in the “Winter Leaders 2020” list with a User Satisfaction Score of 94.

Guided by your feedback

It has been a long journey since Zoho Recruit’s launch in 2009. The reviews and feedback we get keep us on the right track, and we couldn’t be more grateful for them. This year, we’re proud to say that Zoho Recruit was named among Category Leaders by almost every highly acclaimed review site.

We couldn’t have achieved all of this without you, our customers. ?

At Zoho, we value your voice, and we strive to put your satisfaction first. Reviews are nice, but it’s more amazing to hear directly from you about how Zoho Recruit has changed your business for the better. You make us immensely proud of what we do, and we promise to keep doing our best to make your recruitment process more efficient long into the future.


This year also marked our 10th year on the market and a million hires made with Zoho Recruit. We started out in 2009 by building a solution that helps recruiters and HR departments streamline hiring. In the last decade, we’ve become part of a dynamic industry that demands technological advancements to be competitive with changing market trends.

As a celebration, we organized a tweet chat about “The future of recruitment in the age of automation and AI” featuring an extraordinary roster of spearheads from the recruitment industry. See More

Our best just got better

“The bridges we built”

We gained plenty of integrations in the past year. These integrations helped us better bridge the gap between different recruitment stages.

The Slack integration helped users connect and collaborate more in their hiring efforts while the MailChimp integration made sending out mass emails a walk in the park. Integrations with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Resume Library took candidate sourcing to the next level. We also significantly increased the number of Phonebridge integrations with 28 new additions to our Marketplace, including British Telecom and AT&T, two telecom giants.

“Have you met Zia?”

Zia, Zoho’s AI assistant, made her debut appearance in Zoho Recruit with the Data Enrichment and Candidate Matching features. Zia’s ability to enrich candidate information and intelligently match job openings with the best fitting candidates made her an instant hit with our users.

We guarantee that you’ll see more of Zia in the coming year. ?

“Track every aspect of your hiring”

What good does measuring and tracking data do if you don’t get insights from it?

With the Zoho Recruit – Zoho Analytics integration, recruiters are able to track and analyze their performance in real time. Advanced Recruitment Analytics provide them with the most accurate data using predictive analysis.

“A Portal to better results”

Last year also marked the release of Zoho Recruit’s portal features, namely, Client Portal, Vendor Portal, and Candidate Portal. All three are unique in their own way but what unites them is how they operate.

All three features provide users (clients, candidates & vendors) with a secure portal that helps you do business with them better and lets them track and manage their work with you effectively.

“Find. Engage. Hire. Retain”

Zoho Recruit’s Reporting Hierarchy and Approval Process were released this year, too.

Imagine a hypothetical organization named Zylker with, say 5000 employees. Manually sorting out job requisitions and approval requests with respect to their organizational hierarchy would be a nightmare.

However, Zoho Recruit’s Reporting Hierarchy and Approval Process lets users model their organizational structure within Zoho Recruit and automate the processes that come with it.

“Recruitment: Impartial and un-prejudiced”

At Zoho Recruit we believe recruitment should be unbiased and inclusive for all. This led us to thinking what we could do with the power we hold.

In 2019 we introduced voice overs for Webform Captchas making Zoho Recruit the first major ATS to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Furthermore, in November 2019 we announced Zoho Recruit’s compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEO). This helped recruiters increase applicant diversity, improve worker productivity and promote a healthy and happy workplace culture.

Enough looking back. Let’s see what’s ahead!

The advance of technology in the last decade has changed the way recruitment is perceived around the world. A lot of technology that would have been considered cutting edge a couple years ago has become a part of our daily lives now.

Many companies have already adopted Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) for training and simulations. Human work is being focused and strategized using AI, and the ‘Gig Economy’ is booming. Things can only get better for the HR world from here on.

As for Zoho Recruit, 2020 will be a pivotal year. We have greater heights to reach and a lot of expectations to live up to.

Regarding feature releases, 2020 will be the year of AI and Automation for Zoho Recruit. Minimizing manual intervention and providing easier access for users will be one of our primary goals next year.

We look forward to another awe-inspiring year with you and wish you a very happy new year.


Source: Zoho Blog

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A 7-Eleven in Japan Might Close for a Day. Yes, That’s a Big Deal.

HIGASHI-OSAKA, Japan — Mitoshi Matsumoto, the most famous 7-Eleven convenience store owner in Japan, wants to do something unthinkable in his 24-hour, 7-day-a-week industry: Take a day off.

That’s why, he says, 7-Eleven is trying to put him out of business.

Mr. Matsumoto announced in November his plans to close up shop so he and his two full-time employees could take off New Year’s Day, Japan’s most important holiday, after years of working 14-hour days with few breaks. But on Dec. 20, 7-Eleven’s parent company told him that his store had received more customer complaints than any other in Japan. He had 10 days to address the issues, it said, or the location would be closed.

“They don’t want to let me take New Year’s off. That’s all there is to it,” said Mr. Matsumoto, 57, who has made a name for himself in Japan by publicly defying the company’s demands that franchisees stay open 24 hours. “If they allow me to do this, others will start rising up here and there.”

His decision in February to shorten store hours inspired other franchisees to demand that 7-Eleven allow them to do the same. But the company has been slow to change, he said, so he decided to take New Year’s off in protest.

The standoff has supercharged a national debate over the business practices of the country’s 24-hour convenience store industry. Japan’s declining population has made workers harder to find. Tales of punishing work schedules have struck a chord in a country that holds a sometimes lethal corporate devotion to working long hours.

Last year, the labor ministry approved 246 claims related to hospitalization or death from overwork, according to government statistics, which show the retail industry as one of the biggest sources of complaints. Another 568 workers took their own lives over job-related exhaustion.

But even as convenience store owners are suffering under increasingly long hours, the country’s three biggest convenience store chains — 7-Eleven, Lawson and FamilyMart — have been reluctant to change the 24-hour schedule that Japanese shoppers have come to expect.

In a letter to Mr. Matsumoto, 7-Eleven said it received 78 complaints about his store this year. In a statement, it said that the threat to sever the contract was based on the complaints and on the “destruction of the relationship of trust” caused by his criticisms on social media of 7-Eleven’s management.

Mr. Matsumoto and his supporters say 7-Eleven is trying to make an example of the man who has become the face of the resistance against a company that they say exploits their labor.

“Owners can’t organize, because the second you try, they home in on you and apply pressure,” said Reiji Kamakura, the leader of the Convenience Store Union, a small group that has struggled to gain members and change industry practices in the face of corporate opposition.

Though it got its start in Texas in the 1920s, 7-Eleven has been controlled by a Japanese company since 1991. Today, it operates nearly 40 percent of Japan’s more than 55,000 convenience stores.

That makes 7-Eleven an integral part of Japanese life. The government considers convenience stores part of the country’s infrastructure, like highways and sewers. They are expected to help promote regional tourism and to help with local policing by offering a safe place for people to flee to. Its stores can be called on to help distribute aid and supplies during a natural disaster.

The vast majority of Japanese 7-Elevens are owned by individuals like Mr. Matsumoto. The company provides them with a storefront and access to a logistics network that keeps its shelves full of rice balls, cigarettes and boxed lunches. It sets operating procedures with an eye toward protecting the brand and providing a uniform customer experience.

Among those demands, it tells franchisees to keep their stores open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The model, pioneered by 7-Eleven, worked well enough for years. But about a decade ago, it began to break down.

Hungry for growth, 7-Eleven and its competitors began a war of attrition, flooding the country with more locations in an attempt to steal market share. Each new shop cut into its neighbors’ profits.

At the same time, Japan’s labor pool was shrinking, driving up hourly wages and making it difficult to find reliable workers. Many franchisees — who are responsible for paying their staff’s wages — were forced to work more of their own shifts.

For 7-Eleven, the cost of opening new stores was minimal. But for many franchisees, the numbers no longer added up.

Mr. Matsumoto, a former carpenter, opened his store in 2012, hoping to earn a more stable income. From the beginning, he said, he locked horns with the corporate management, refusing to follow suggestions from his regional manager about how much food to order or what items to stock.

In May 2018, his wife, who had also worked at the store, died. He began having trouble finding reliable staff. In desperation, he asked his son to come home from college to help.

Even so, Mr. Matsumoto was working 12-hour shifts. And sometimes much more.

Then, one day in February, he told 7-Eleven he was going to shorten his store’s hours from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The company said that would violate his contract. He would lose his store and the tens of thousands of dollars he had invested in it. On top of that, he was told, he would have to pay the company a penalty of about $155,000 for breach of contract.

Mr. Matsumoto did it anyway. When the company threatened to close his store, he went to the news media.

Activists had tried to draw national attention to the plight of convenience store owners for years. But something about Mr. Matsumoto’s story touched a nerve. Japanese reporters descended on the store. Letters of support and phone calls poured in from convenience store owners around the country, he said.

Mr. Matsumoto admits he has received his fair share of customer complaints. He has sparred with people who he says left their cars for too long in the store’s small parking lot. He closed the bathroom to the public — a move virtually unheard-of in service-friendly Japan — because customers were not keeping it clean and sometimes locked themselves inside for hours. But in the past, he said, 7-Eleven’s regional staff worked with him to resolve the issues.

That wasn’t the case this time, he said. When he asked to see the complaints against him, he said, the company showed him only a few, saying there were too many to give him a complete accounting.

In its statement, 7-Eleven said that it had “repeatedly explained to the owner the actions that were in violation of his contract,” adding that he had yet to take action to correct them.

He suspects his activism played a part in the complaints. After his story went viral, people began to attack him on Twitter, accusing him of smearing the company’s image. His store has 270 reviews on Google Maps, many attacking his character. Virtually all of them were written after he appeared in the news.

Speaking privately, some 7-Eleven owners and employees say they admire Mr. Matsumoto, but few are willing to put their own shops on the line.

Nevertheless, the public outcry has given them some hope that the industry will change. Major chains have pledged to introduce some reforms. 7-Eleven has said it will experiment with allowing a few shops to reduce their hours. It pledged to give this New Year’s Day off to employees at 50 locations it operates directly.

Mr. Matsumoto hopes that franchised stores will close, too, in an expression of solidarity.

He met with representatives from the company on Sunday, but the two sides were not able to come to a satisfactory agreement, he said. Mr. Matsumoto said that if 7-Eleven went through with its threat, he planned to go to court.

The current system cannot survive much longer, he said, but 7-Eleven will not change unless the owners force it to. So far, no one has come forward.

“If we don’t take a stand now,” he said, “there’s no future.”


NYT > Business