Why You Should Carefully Plan Your Paid Time Off

PTOdaysMany companies offer their employees PTO (Paid Time Off) instead of a set number of vacation days and sick days. It simplifies things for employers because when you lump sick days, vacation days and personal days all into one bank, it makes it less likely that staff members will take a day off for a case of the sniffles.

It also makes it easier for employees because putting all of your time off into one category keeps you from wondering how to count time off for religious holidays, your kid’s out-of-town hockey tournament or your annual family vacation to the beach. Also, if the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday, it makes taking off on the 5th suddenly much simpler!

Let’s face it, your employer WANTS you to take your PTO. Smart companies know that if you are really sick, you need to stay home instead of coming in to the office and spreading your germs. They also know that the occasional day off and that yearly beach vacation are much-needed refreshers if they want a staff of happy and relaxed individuals.

With a little planning, rationing out your bank of PTO days should leave plenty of time to take care of your needs. But we ALL know That Guy who just can’t resist the temptation to stay home and get paid for it. He burns all of his PTO in January and February then suffers through the rest of the year with no time off. Or worse, he is forced to take unpaid days when actual emergencies arise.

Burning through your PTO? It’s time to reconsider.

We turned to our Facebook friends for some real life scenarios that might help you avoid being That Guy this year.

Michelle: “My dad used up all of his PTO last February. Then he had to unexpectedly move which required him to pack up all of his belongings, house hunt, and move in to his new home, all without any time off. He also ended up in the hospital and had to go without pay during that time.”

Nicole: “My crazy grandmother decided to book a family vacation on her dime at the last minute and I couldn’t go because I had used up all of my time off. Everyone else was lounging in the Caribbean in an all-inclusive and I was stuck at home.”

Allison: “My healthy coworker, who just graduated college, had a collapsed lung last year and ended up in the hospital not once, but twice.”

Cara: “I save my days in case my kids have unexpected illnesses, doctor appointments and random viruses that pop up. We take a yearly family vacation, but I always make sure to save a few days in case I just need a break, like if I’m feeling burned out and need a long weekend to disconnect.”

Mike: “Think about it from the company’s point of view. Spreading out your time off helps them out, too, so they don’t have to function without you while you’re burning up your PTO January and February. Plus, it will lower the morale of your coworkers who have to pick up the slack while you’re gone.”

Anna: “You know, if you take all of your time off at once, it could reflect poorly on you when review time rolls around. Taking it all at once makes it difficult on your coworkers and can affect project deadlines. Plus, if you end up leaving your job halfway through the year, you could end up having to pay back those days that you used but haven’t accrued yet.”

Chelsea: “My husband is using all of his PTO in April when I have the baby and I’m worried he’s going to regret that later on in case he needs it for something else.”

Brianne: “Burning through it would be a lot like not having health insurance or a rainy day emergency fund!”

Just some food for thought if you’ve been a little free with your PTO spending in the last couple of months. Don’t forget that nice weather is coming and you might want to take a day here or there to enjoy it!

If you have a story about time off that you’d like to share, please leave a comment!

Dealing with a Long Morning Commute

Imagine the worst morning you’ve ever experienced. You wake up late, rush to get dressed, can’t find clean underwear, spill coffee all over your un-ironed shirt, and to top it all off, you hit bumper-to-bumper traffic on your half-hour morning commute.

morning commute

Long commutes and ungodly traffic are enough to test the temper in even Ghandi himself. If you’ve ever had to experience the morning traffic before the Fort Pitt tunnel in Pittsburgh, I’m sure you can agree that it would be no exaggeration that it’s enough for the Muhatma to climb down the back of his elephant and kick in the side door of a texting teenager during a fit of blind rage. Why an elephant? What else would Ghandi be driving to work? Maybe a Prius… You get the point.

Bad commutes are frustrating, fist clenching, vein popping, obscenity shrieking experiences from which we could all use relief. In an attempt to calm ourselves and bring us back to a Nirvanic state, let’s go over some ways to deal with long morning commutes.

Listen to Your Favorite Music

car radio

Music is a way to express your feelings through melodies and lyrics. In halted traffic, those feelings can probably be represented through the most Swedish of heavy metal as you imagine the horrific acts you would do to the mini-van with the marathon and vegan bumper stickers in front of you.

Let’s try to stay away from that type of music and lower those stress levels (unless you’re into that sort of thing) with your favorite songs. Create a playlist that can relax you and keep your mind off of the unbearable traffic.

Crank up that song knob to eleven, sing away, and dance, dance, dance in your seat! You might even come up with a fun dance to do with your steering wheel. Just don’t be too careless or you could be doing the tango with a Toyota in a head-on collision.

Find Time to Pump It Out


Once you finally make it to work, you might still be feeling a bit tense. Make (or sneak if you’re running late) your way to the office kitchen and brew up some of your favorite coffee. When you make it back to your desk, sip and be comfy while continuing to listen to your commute playlist. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself calm and at peace.

But what if the caffeine gets you amped? What if you forgot to remove DMX from the last track of your playlist. Now you’re pumped and feeling as anxious as ever. Release the inner beast that has been fueled by terrible drivers and caffeine with a quick workout during lunch.

Pump iron, run a mile, spin kick a coat rack, and bring those stress levels back down again. Whatever you decide to do for your workout, add in this little exercise known as “car drivers”. To perform this exercise, hold a heavy object (normally a weighted plate) and twist it as you would with a steering wheel. Imagining yourself running the old geezers off the road who refuse to seize the gap can be just what you need to give yourself peace of mind.

Meditate on It


The work day is over, you got a nice workout in at lunch, and now it’s time to get home and relax. The only thing in your way: more traffic.

After inching your way down the interstate, exchanging glares with mutually miserable drivers, and cutting off a school bus in a desperate attempt to make it home before the end of Maury, you’re going to need another stress reliever.

Give yourself the time to unwind through meditation. It’s a well known fact that meditation can reduce anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion. Just take 20 minutes out of your day to meditate and feel your troubles melting away. Be sure to pour yourself a glass of the most premium of boxed wine as well. Now you should be experiencing a feeling of bliss, so get some sleep and get ready for the next day.

These tips might not do the trick right away, but keep at it and you could find yourself a little bit happier. If all else fails, find a closer place to work. We hope this helps your traffic-laden pilgrimage to work! Be safe out there, and we hope you find relief from your long commute struggles.

ABG Capital Strikes Up Another Company Outing

As you might have gathered by now, we love ourselves a company outing here at ABG Capital! Our first quarter tradition for the past several years has been to reserve a few lanes at Latitude 360 Pittsburgh and have a bowling party.

Before I tell you all about how much fun we had, check out our new company shirts that the fine folks at Commonwealth Press made for us!

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5 Tips to Keep Your Resolution on Track

My friends, January 1st has come and gone. Some of us sat down, took a good, hard look at our lives and decided that the New Year was a great time for a new start. So, we made ourselves a New Year’s Resolution and we said that this year was the year we would actually see it through. We would not fail. We would reach our goals!

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Keep Your New Year’s Resolution, Think SMART!

People! 2015 is almost a wrap. The New Year is in sight and brings with it a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to start a new adventure, and plenty of opportunities to set some goals. Typically, people say that they are going to get healthy, get organized, save money, read more books, etc. Some of these might even be things that you want to accomplish in 2016. Resolutions, we call them! You’ve probably made them in years past and kept them with varying degrees of success. Continue reading

Best Places to Work in PA and Celebrations


Before we talk about the festivities we enjoyed last weekend, we have a some very exciting news! We are proud to announce that ABG Capital ranked on the Best Companies Group’s 2015 Best Places to Work in PA list for the fifth year in a row! We are so excited and proud to be number 16 on the list of small to medium sized Pennsylvania companies! The Best Companies Group compiles the rankings by sending out a survey to employers and employees in hundreds of companies in the commonwealth. Using a formula, they score the surveys based on the answers to the questions. Employers fill out their survey listing the perks, benefits and offerings that they feel showcase the best parts about their company and employees fill out a separate survey with satisfaction-based questions. We are honored to be ranked so high on this list of innovative workplaces. Now that we got to toot our own horn for a second, let’s get into what really matters: helping during the holidays and, of course, partying.

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Spreading Holiday Cheer for Play it Forward


No child should feel left out during the holiday season. Thanks to the collective efforts of Play it Forward Pittsburgh and various businesses in the local area, toys are being donated by the truckload and distributed to families who might be needing a little extra help this year. Continue reading

Celebrate the Holidays in an Office Setting

holiday decor

How can you bring in the festivities that surround the winter holidays into the office without excluding anyone or making anyone feel uncomfortable or worse, offended or discriminated against? After all, the holidays are about all things good! Giving, gathering, fun, food, family and friends aren’t usually topics that spur feelings of discrimination or offense. So, how can you keep things light and celebratory while still acknowledging the meaning behind this season?

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Ready, set, HUT! Annual ABG Capital Turkey Bowl Recap

Happy Thanksgiving week! If you haven’t left your office yet, many of you will soon be venturing through the woods to grandmother’s house or relaxing away from it all with a quiet staycation at home. And whether you watch it or play it, most likely your thankful Thursday will involve some sort of football. Around here, Thanksgiving football kicked off already with our Annual ABG Capital Turkey Bowl last Friday!

ABG Capital Turkey Bowl Football Game

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6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress

Raise your hand if you’re excited about the holidays approaching. The family, the food, the friends, the good will towards men… I’d also ask you to raise the other hand if you’re stressed about it, but then most likely you’d have both hands in the air and not be able to scroll to read this post. The packing and traveling to get to the family, your tendency to always end up in the wrong grocery store line, the picking and choosing which friends you have time to see and someone inevitably feeling left out, and the Black Friday near tramplings at 3 am… So put your hands down and let’s talk about how to avoid holiday stress.

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