Getting your first car is a big step. You don’t want to screw it up. Figure out whether it makes sense to buy or lease.

It’s time to get your first car.

This is an exciting time, a time that heralds adulthood.

With all their bright and shiny and “new-car-smell,” even those adulting hard can make a child’s mistake.

Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment.

I’m not a car person – most cars look like Jettas to me. But even I get a euphoric high when I sit in a new car with its new leather, unblemished windshield, latest technology, and spotless dashboard.

The problem is that those dastardly auto dealers are marketing and money masterminds. They’ve figured out how they can oversell and overfinance even people like me who don’t really care about cars.

When getting your first car, you want to leave emotion at the door and realize that you’re probably not going to be driving your dream car.

You may have the budget for a Ford Pinto, but they’ll get you into a Mercedes Maybach if they have their way. It’ll just take 15 years to pay off and cost you more than most people’s mortgage and your first-born child.

But, hey, that new car smell.

Therein lies the birth of car leasing. Why buy a practical car you can afford and own outright when you can buy an impractical car you can’t afford and will never own but will look good on you?

Some things to consider when considering leasing a car.

Lessees don’t own.

The first thing to realize if you decide to lease those hot wheels is that you never own your car unless you choose to buy out your lease at the end of your term.

Most people don’t buy out their leases at the end of their term, no matter how committed they are.

Your ideals are usually high when you sign the lease. However, just like you say you’ll only have one mimosa at brunch, you almost never buy out your lease. At the end of your three to

At the end of your three- to five-year term, unless you have a large sum of money and want to do so, you’re without a car. This is why people become habitual lessees.

You’re always a guest.

All the while, as you lease a car, you’re borrowing it. You must treat the car like you’re borrowing it. This may sound like the above concern, but that’s about managing your money.

This is about living life.

For starters, leased cars come with mileage limits. The mileage limit is usually capped at 12,000 a year or 36,000 miles over three years, the most common term for leases.

Even if you’re an average driver, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says you’ll probably average 13,476 miles a year.

So, unless you’re below average, toward the end of each year or your lease term, you’ll probably have to be conscious of your mileage limit. You could find yourself paying a penalty if you go above that limit.

The other way you’re always a guest in your leased car is that if your vehicle experiences wear and tear beyond the norm, you must get it fixed.

Of course, the definition of “normal” is subjective. And, of course, most responsible car owners repair and maintain their cars to keep them in good condition. As a lessee, though, you don’t have the option. Your leased car must be repaired and maintained to keep it looking as good as possible.

Lessees need better credit.

Most people who lease cars do so because they can’t afford to purchase them outright or finance them.

Likewise, those who lease cars tend to have less money to use as a down payment on their car. Therefore, the manufacturer or lender assumes more risk. To mitigate financial risk, manufacturers and lenders require higher credit scores to lease cars.

If you’re getting your first car, there’s a good chance you have a short or non-existent credit history and, likewise, a lower credit score. This will make finding favorable leasing terms harder.

Some things to consider about buying a car.

By now, you’re saying, “Okay, leasing a car sucks, but buying one is hard.”

That’s not necessarily so. By being strategic about buying your first car, you can save yourself money with little complication.

The best way to get a car is to pay 100% cash for it up front. Because most people can’t do that, the second-best way to get a car is the most practical. That’s by putting as much down as possible, ideally no less than 20%, on a certified pre-owned car with low-interest rate financing.

Occasionally, dealerships offer 0% financing. If there isn’t an ideal promotion when you’re in the market to buy a car, credit unions offer great financing terms.

By getting approved through a credit union before shopping for your first car, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration by not negotiating these terms with a car dealership.

When to lease your first car.

I can only think of one situation when leasing a car makes sense. That’s when someone or something else leases it for you.

For example, my father sold steel to manufacturers. For several years, he was in charge of the Tri-State region and did a lot of driving to sales calls. One perk of his job, because of his required travel, was his company gave him a car.

Even though this was his work car, he used it for work and personal driving. His employer wasn’t in the business of owning cars, so they leased him a car, and he got a new car every three years. Other than the gas he used for his personal travel, all the expenses of his leased cars were his employer’s.

Unless someone or something else to leases a car for you, it likely doesn’t make sense to lease a car. Even if you can get someone or something else to lease a car for you, plan for the day you can buy your own car. Save $200 to $400 a month in an account for when you do buy your own car.

You’ll be happier if you do and will be closer to buying the car you want.

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A better job that makes more money won’t solve your problems. Until you change your mindset, you’ll neve actually be happy.

No.

As my editor won’t publish one-word articles, please allow me to elaborate.

In our teens, we’re learning the board game of life. In our twenties, we’re going to rule Boardwalk and Park Place. By our thirties, we’re feverishly jumping over chutes and trying to climb ladders. By our forties, we’re only trying to cling to our last remaining territory wondering if the other players are on a secret mission.

It’s tempting to want to be king of the hill. You make all the decisions. You have no one to be responsible to but you. You make all the money. You come and go as you please.

Is that really what it’s like at the top of that ladder or just how it looks when you’re standing at the bottom?

Being the boss isn’t always the best.

Comparisons of being the boss and not being the boss are not like Sophia Tucker’s quote of comparing being rich and being poor: “I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”

To be sure, shit runs downstream, but it’s also lonely (read stressful) at the top.

Once upon a time, I was a tiny cog in a wheel. I put in my 9-to-5, clocked out, and then my day and thoughts were mine. When I became a slightly bigger cog in that wheel 9-to-5 became 7-to-7. Monday through Friday became “and some weekends.” I had more responsibility, more to lose, and more ways to lose.

In an interview for his book, “The Secrets of CEOs,” Steve Tappin said, “The major emotions a CEO has are frustration, disappointment, irritation and overwhelm. There should be a health warning. If you have those emotions for 80 percent of the day, they lead to stress and cortisol in the body, which leads to accelerated aging, heart attacks, and cancer.”

We all know how I feel about cortisol.

When I was a kid, my father was promoted to vice president of sales for a steel company back when vice president wasn’t just a title and selling steel made a living.

He quickly gained weight, was gone a lot, and wasn’t happy. It wasn’t too many years afterward that he quit his job, moved us out of the big city back to his small hometown, and took a role that had a less glamorous title, much less stress, and much more happiness.

“Rich” people are often broke.

It’s a fallacy that more money will alleviate all your personal and financial concerns. For most people, not having enough money isn’t the problem. It’s not spending wisely the money they have that’s the problem.

“Unless you change how you are, you’ll never have more than you’ve got,” said Jim Rohn. People who don’t change themselves often return to their current state no matter what life gives them. This is why 70% of lottery winners go broke after winning their winnings. They had a losing money mindset, and their winnings didn’t change that.

No raise, promotion, or windfall of money will fix your financial problems until you change your money mindset and keep more money than you spend. Just as more money won’t necessarily fix your financial problems, it won’t help with your other problems in life.

Bob Proctor often says that thinking money will make you happy is as misguided as thinking a refrigerator will drive you around town. To think a refrigerator can assume the characteristics of a car is preposterous and so is thinking money will help you acquire happiness.

Climbing the corporate ladder and making more money won’t solve anything unless you know what to do with it.

Happiness isn’t a goal.

If you live in the United States, you’re wealthy compared to the rest of the world. You’re already winning.

If you aren’t happy with what you have today sitting in a cubicle, don’t expect to be happy with what you have tomorrow sitting in the corner office or even The Oval Office. Climbing the corporate ladder can’t make you happy.

Happiness isn’t a goal. We should strive to make happiness a constant state and not a constant goal. The search for perpetual happiness despite our conditions is why my husband and I have adopted a new exercise.

Every time we have a negative thought about any and everything, we must tell or text the other two things we’re happy about to counterbalance that one negative thought.

This is the “yellow car effect.” The yellow car effect happens when you realize how many yellow cars are out there when you start looking for yellow cars. Until then, they seem nearly non-existent.

When you start looking for more happiness in your life, you notice more happiness. When you see more happiness, you receive more happiness in all its shapes and sizes.

There isn’t a template for happiness.

Another fallacy in today’s thinking is that one size fits all. Some people want the house with the white picket fence, 2.2 kids, and a dog. To others, that sounds like a fresh hell.

Some people want the security of a 9-to-5 job, two weeks, vacation, and healthcare. To others, that’s a prison.

There’s nothing wrong with any version of happiness.

Joshua Field Millburn of The Minimalist said, “There is no template for happiness.” It may seem like the CEO has the glamorous life, rich people on television may seem more impressive than you, celebrities may look like they have it all, but everyone’s living their lives like they manage their Facebook feeds.

I had a director of a financial services firm, someone I thought “had it all,” once tell me that no promotion or title ever alleviated the constant concern that he was expendable and that there were dozens of people just waiting to fill his roles. He was climbing the corporate ladder and was miserable.

Without an innate ability to be happy, such stress will make an unhappy person even more unhappy.

So, no, climbing the corporate ladder is not the answer to all your financial and life problems. You are.

You are.

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It would be nice if you could have an easy solution to student loans. You will have to work your ass off to get on top of the situation. Make it happen.

You went to college after high school because, well, that’s what you do and everyone else did it.

You took out student loans to pay your way through school because, well, that’s what you do and everyone else did it.

You went to school, got your degree, and just started your adult life. It’s just that now you have $100,000 in student loan debts and a low paying job.

What do you do? Here are five ideas.

Control current living expenses.

The first thing to do is get control of your current living expenses. The only way to make sure your debt doesn’t grow any faster is to immediately stop acquiring debt.

Calculate your net or true take-home pay per month. This is what you receive after you pay your taxes and benefits.

Then, calculate your total monthly living expenses, including minimum student loan payments, car expenses, entertainment, rent, and every other monthly expense you have.

If your monthly living expenses exceed your take-home pay, you must cut your monthly living expenses, increase your monthly income (more below) or a combination of the two.

It may feel like a cold reality, but you’ll do yourself no favors by overspending what you bring home from month-to-month.

If this means you must continue living at home or find more roommates to lower your rent, then do so. If you must switch from a premium phone company to a discount service company, such as Republic Wireless or Cricket Wireless, do it sooner rather than later.

Look for as many ways as possible to lower your living expenses. Just as every little calorie counts, so does every little cent as you work to get your student loans under control.

Pro tip: Apps such as Mint and Personal Capital can help you manage your budget all from your phone that’s now on a discount service plan.

Increase your income.

This is a two-part step.

First, increase your W-2 income. W-2 income is the income you earn from working for someone else and not contract employment. Because you currently have a low paying job, it’s in your best interest to increase this income.

Tell your current boss that you need to increase your income. Work with your boss to come up with mutually agreed-upon performance expectations to increase your pay in a specified period of time. This time is commonly relegated to your annual performance review, but some companies have more flexibility.

Then, work your butt off to exceed your agreed-upon expectations. Document every success. Save every email with even an ounce of praise. When you have your next performance review, sell yourself so hard it’s impossible for your boss to not give you a raise.

In the meantime, look for other, higher-paying jobs both within your current company and outside if only to improve your interview skills. If you find a higher paying job, use your improved performance and skills to sell yourself for a higher income.

Pro Tip: You can respectfully decline to answer questions about your current pay, but to decline to answer questions successfully you must do so impressively.

Something like, “Thank you for that question, however, I’m going to decline to answer that. I’m focused on the value that I can provide you going forward with my current skills and knowledge. This is different from what I was capable of when I was hired for my last job.”

The second part to increase your income is to make money outside of your primary job. Yes, this means getting a second or even a third job. While that’s painful, it’s not unheard of. Many people have several jobs until they get on their feet. I had multiple jobs at once, myself.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to increase your income with more W-2 jobs. You, too, can become your own boss.

Become your own boss.

I’m amazed by the opportunities of today’s gig economy.

Bloggers and YouTube stars you’ve never heard of are making millions of dollars a year. Peripheral workers, such as social media experts and virtual assistance, are springing up to help those bloggers and YouTube stars — and are making sustainable incomes of their own.

Could you be the next million-dollar internet guru or billion-dollar app creator?

Possible, but not probable.

What is possible is that you could create a nice income for yourself to supplement the income from your W-2 and better tackle your student loans. It’s even possible that you could create enough income from being your own boss that you don’t need a W-2.

Pro Tip: This strategy is playing the long game. An overnight success actually takes years to accomplish. While there are lots of winners in the gig economy, most of them won because they persisted.

Avoid more debt.

Not unlike controlling your living expenses, avoid adding more debt to your portfolio of debt.

Avoid taking on a mortgage, a car loan, if possible, more student loans, loans for a cell phone or furniture, payday loans, or any other opportunity to finance an improved lifestyle. Debt is debt.

The less you take on until your student loan balance is paid off, the better.

Pro Tip: The possibility of increasing your income by earning another undergraduate or graduate degree is enticing. Many employers will pay for some or all an employee’s additional education. Before going back to school, see if your employer will help pay your way. If not, consider bouncing to another employer who will.

Refinance your student loans.

Under certain conditions, you can refinance both federal and private student loans and there are several banks and other businesses to help you.

If approved, you could lower your interest rate, lower your monthly payments, or lower both your interest rate and monthly payments.

Each year, you can apply for an income-based repayment plan. There’s no fee to apply and if you qualify for one of four different kinds of repayment plans, it may help you meet month-to-month expenses until the following year.

Understand the fine print of your income-based repayment plan. For example, if you’re married, you may have to file taxes separately from your spouse. There’s also the possibility that your remaining balance will be forgiven in 20 to 25 years.

This hasn’t happened for anyone yet and there’s the possibility that you’ll receive a tax bill for any amount forgiven, which could be expensive. (Public Service Loan Forgiveness happens sooner, and doesn’t come with a tax bill.)

Pro Tip: Simply lowering your monthly payment will likely mean that you’ll pay more money over the life of your loan. Put as much money that you free up from lowering your monthly payment towards your highest interest debt to pay your debt off more quickly.

Bottom line.

The best way to improve a bad situation is to have an improvement plan.

This five-point plan should get you headed in the right direction. As you proceed, tweak as necessary to continue heading in the direction of paying your student loans off and increasing your income fast.

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Tired of the soul-sucking 9-to-5 job? You can prepare to ditch it for good. Here’s how to plan your escape.

Less than a year ago, I quit my job.

I didn’t quit working. I just quit working for someone else. I feel as good today about that decision as the day I left.

The best part about quitting my traditional job was watching the cycle of emotions my friends and family went through after I told them I quit.

Their eyes opened wide when they heard the news. This was followed restrained winces, as they considered the loss of steady income, health, and insurance, security, two weeks of vacation a year. All those things we expect from a job.

Then, as if on cue, they’d drift into a daydream and pondered quitting their own jobs.

If you dream of a life of employer independence, you too can leave the 9-to-5. Here are five keys that helped me take that major step:

Sticking to what I know.

One of the main reasons people say they can’t quit their day job and start their own business is that they don’t know what to do. Don’t think too hard about it and get stuck in analysis paralysis. Stick with what you enjoy, are already doing, or are good at doing.

Listen. If the universe is pulling you in a certain direction, go.

My and my husband’s careers have been in finance. Despite this, when got together we had a combined total of $51,000 in credit card debt. We applied our theoretical and practical knowledge to pay off our debt and turn our net worth around.

We enjoy finance, investing, and financial planning. Because of our experiences and our desire to help others with their money, we’re using our personal and professional experiences as the foundation of our business.

We put ourselves out as writers, speakers, podcasters, and experts on personal finance and we’re now helping others and, in turn, growing a business that let me leave the 9-to-5 grind. David’s not far behind me.

We saved money.

Before I quit my W-2 job, we added an additional $10,000 to our existing emergency savings account.

We did this by cutting back on non-essential spending and putting it into our emergency savings account with no bells or whistles. We don’t have debit cards or checking writing on this account. We don’t connect it to other accounts for outgoing electronic funds transfers (EFT). This money is hard, though not impossible, to access. This reduces urges to spend this money on whims.

We’ve resumed some of the habits we used to pay off our $51,000 in credit card debt. This includes only buying groceries that are either on sale or for which we have coupons. We cook at home rather than dine out. Cardboardeaux has replaced Bordeaux because it’s cheaper per bottle and stores longer.

All of this is temporary and we know this is temporary. We can live frugally today to grow our business because we lived frugally yesterday to pay off our debt.

Hustling harder than ever.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

I used to think I worked hard at my W-2, but I worked just hard enough to keep my boss happy.

I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I am now on our business.

With each day, the 9-to-5 is getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, but to say it’s been easy would be disingenuous.

There’s a meme of an iceberg I frequently share on Facebook. Ten percent of the iceberg is above water and represents the “overnight success” that people see. Ninety percent of the iceberg is below water and represents the work no one sees: waking up at 4:30 am, working until midnight, on weekends, and holidays.

There are times that I’ve questioned if this is worth it. When I hear about rush-hour traffic jams, friends stressed about their bosses and disappointment with nominal raises, I’m reminded that it is.

I prepped.

There were steps I took before I decided to actually leave the 9-to-5.

I researched and updated my health insurance, acquired life insurance, and created a plan to consolidate my employer-sponsored 401(k) with my personal broker.

We talked with our accountant about what my W-2 and 1099 employment status changes would mean for our personal income taxes. We created a week-to-week budget that accommodates our drop in regular income.

Being thorough and meticulous before I quit has made temporarily cutting our income in half a little easier.

I took the leap.

Finally, I took the leap. Many people struggle to make big and seemingly scary life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. As Voltaire said, “better is the enemy of the good.”

Many people struggle to make big and seemingly scary life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. As Voltaire said, “better is the enemy of the good.”

To be fair, I delayed my original termination date by 90 days because my employer asked me to complete a project on which my team was working. I considered delaying my termination again because the economy showed signs of weakness. The problem is we can always come up with reasons to stick with the safe and familiar.

Some people might say we should’ve saved more than that extra $10,000. Others might say I should’ve waited until after the last presidential election ended. Still more might say leaving, at all, was foolish.

Despite all the reasons I could’ve manufactured, I leaped and I don’t regret it.

If your dream is to leave the 9-to-5 behind, too, these five steps may help you. I challenge you to be thorough and meticulous before you take such a leap, but I also challenge you to not get paralyzed by fear or analysis.

As Zig Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

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Everyone is outraged over everything all the time. It’s so negative. Break the cycle in your life by ditching the 24-hour outrage news cycle.

Once upon a time, there was one hour of local news and one hour of national and international news and it was good.

Americans went about their lives with a focus on their family and local community. Twenty-four-hour news didn’t exist; 24-hour television barely existed, and it was good.

It wasn’t perfect. But it was good. You could reasonably expect to avoid negativity in the news.

Americans didn’t know everything that was going on in the world. They didn’t know everything that was going on in their country. Americans didn’t much mind, and the country and the world still worked.

Rise of the 24-hour news cycle.

Then. came cable television. Americans had more stations than three from which to choose. In 1980, a billionaire buffalo farmer launched a 24-hour news station. He reasoned that if people wanted to watch 24-hours of music television, they’d surely want 24-hours news. American’s could get national and international news from around the world almost in real-time.

Americans had more stations than three from which to choose. In 1980, a billionaire buffalo farmer launched a 24-hour news station. He reasoned that if people wanted to watch 24-hours of music television, they’d surely want 24 hours of news. Americans could get national and international news from around the world almost in real-time.

Americans could get national and international news from around the world almost in real-time.

It was innocent enough until everyone realized that finding 24 hours’ worth of news that people would actually watch was a lot of hours a day, every day, to fill.

In theory, Americans wanted to know about important current events on the other side of the globe. In reality, they don’t.

Then came competition. Now there were three 24-hour news stations. Then there were stations that covered individual segments of the news for 24 hours.

It wasn’t long before sensationalism was the 24-hour news channels’ business model.

If you couldn’t rely on politicians or celebrities to provide something sensational every day, create your own pseudo-celebrities to argue with guests, make outrageous comments, and call that news.

Trying to avoid negativity in the news became much harder.

Fast forward to a world in which Americans learn about policy decisions in 140 characters and it’s all be a bit much.

Everything is outrageous whether it’s outrageous or not. Everything is in real-time whether it deserves to be or not. Clicks are more important than truth and being first is more important accuracy.

How can you avoid negativity in the news? Here are five ideas:

Turn off the 24-hour news.

Go back to where it all began and end it. With Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Sling, no one needs to pay for cable anyway. It’s too expensive. There’s too much of nothing to watch. And, it would be good if we all got off the couch more, The Walking Dead notwithstanding.

MTV doesn’t play videos and most 24-hour news channels don’t report the news.

If you want to avoid negativity in the news, stop getting caught up in the cycle.

Delete social media apps.

Social media was fun when it more about what people were eating, where they were partying, and where they vacationed.

Yes, it’s a free country and it’s our right to say what we think, but it’s also our right to not listen or read every opinion of every non-expert on everything that doesn’t really matter.

Until this last election cycle, I didn’t know how many of my 500 friends were political experts, legal experts, espionage experts, military experts, civil rights experts, and international relations experts.

We’re talking about people I watched do keg stands at frat parties, wear sexy nurse costumes at Halloween, and jump from job to job until they found one that didn’t require a drug test.

Some of my friends are pretty brilliant, but they don’t seem to be the ones filling my Facebook feed with every article or meme that “shuts down,” “slays,” and “buries” their opposition.

Seeing all their crappy news sources makes me want to avoid negativity in the news that much more.

Cancel your subscriptions.

In this age of technology, it doesn’t make sense to have traditional newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

As another way to keep negative news at bay, stop letting the negative news invade your home in video, audio, and print. With their shiny covers and eye-popping headlines, it’s hard to not want to open every issue and become equally outraged, but most of it doesn’t serve us.

Clean your favorites.

Admittedly, there was a time when the first thing I’d do in the morning was to click on each of my five “favorite” news sites. I use quotes because there were a couple of sites I completely disagreed with, but I felt it was important to have a holistic view of the news. I’ve since concluded that even this is not the best use of time.

I now give myself an hour to two a week to read The Week. The Week seems to try its best to report the news in, what one 24-hour news channel calls, a “fair and balanced” way. It’s not perfect, but most things aren’t.

But, for me, it’s one way to avoid negativity in the news while still being informed.

Get social.

Of course, you want to stay engaged and hold a conversation. So, disengage from the one-sided conversations, step outside the echo chamber and get social. Talk, debate, disagree, and change your opinion with face to face conversation.

We’re social creatures. We teach each other. We learn from each other. We tell great stories. Your friends whose opinions and experiences you respect likely have better opinions and more information about most news than a political pundit on television whose first responsibility is to sell advertisements. Their responsibility to the news is a distant second, at best.

Doing all of these at once may be hard or impossible. But it’s a good way to avoid negativity in the news and keep it from dragging you down.

If you disconnect even a little, though, you’ll be more connected to what matters.

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Traveling with your S.O. probably seems like a dream, but it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. Do this so you don’t regret your shared vacation.

Successful relationships require compromise. And nothing shows your ability to compromise like traveling with your S.O.

If you plan on marrying your S.O. someday — or even if you’re just planning on moving in together — you should first travel to a strange land, even if it’s Poughkeepsie NY.

Traveling with your S.O. is a good insight into what life together forever will be like.

You’ll be out of your comfort zones. You’ll spend more uninterrupted time together than you do at home. You’ll get insight into each other’s idiosyncrasies. You’ll have to manage a micro-budget. You’ll interact with strangers. You’ll disagree on directions. You’ll likely fight.

So, go away with your S.O.

But watch out. You might discover that you like different things when you travel. How do you prepare for this life-lesson when you want to holiday differently together? Here are 11 points to keep in mind:

Talk before you walk.

If you’re certain you want to travel together and certain you’ll want different things from traveling, have a talk before you head off on your big adventure.

Be open and honest about what you both want. Talk through your differences. You may relish lying on the beach with a good book. Your S.O. may want to hike every trail available.

It’s possible to do both and both be happy. It’s just easier if you talk first.

Talk money.

I did say talk before you walk, but money requires its own talk.

Traveling with your S.O. can bring your different money beliefs into sharper focus. Before leaving with your bae, be clear on your vacation budgets. Know how you’ll divide and conquer expenses.

Be okay if you’re not splitting it 50/50, but know that you’re not splitting it 50/50 before you go. Be clear with how you’ll spend your money and how long it must last. If you each have your own budgets, be okay with the idea that you won’t spend the same amount.

Go slow.

Traveling long distance for a long time may be the ideal vacation, but it’s only ideal if your S.O. is your ideal travel buddy.

Take it slow at first. Go away for the weekend, maybe just a short road trip. After you survive 24 hours, maybe shoot for 48 hours, and then 168 hours, and so on.

With each successful trip, move onto longer and farther trips. It sucks when your first trip is two weeks together on the other side of the world and you have no place to go to escape from what turned out to be a Bad Idea.

Spend time alone.

You’re an extrovert and your S.O.’s an introvert. You’re the drummer and your S.O.’s the lead singer. This is okay. It’s not often that couples are the exact same and that’s okay. It’d be kind of boring otherwise. Be okay with time alone. Get away from each other. Distance yourselves from yourselves and make your hearts grow fonder of each other.

Use each other’s strengths.

The Wonder Twins are wonderful because they’re not alike. They have different strengths and personalities. Leverage what you’ve got and let your boo leverage what they’ve got.

One of you may be directionally challenged while the other can’t itemize a dinner bill. One of you may be better at driving on the opposite side of the road while the other is better at speaking the local language.

Let go of what you’re not good at and relish the ways your other half makes life easier on the road.

Compromise.

Whether you have a short-term S.O. or a long-term S.O., the success of your relationship hinges on compromise.

Don’t lose yourself completely in the life of your other half, but also remember that you’re not the only one in the relationship. Give a little while you get a little. That leads to a lot. The reward is you both get a little of what you want and a lot of time and experiences together.

Set a low bar.

When you first travel together, set low expectations. Don’t wish for or expect the worst; just don’t expect a honeymoon. Sometimes it best to hope for the best and plan for not the best.

Practice patience.

Practice does make perfect. Patience isn’t just a Guns & Roses’ song.

You’ll both be out of your elements when traveling with your S.O. You won’t have the comforts of home. You won’t have your reliable resources. The environment may be unfamiliar. All of these variables, when different, add up and add pressure on both of you. Give each other the benefit of the doubt and forgive easily.

Chill.

Practicing patience is about your reaction to your S.O. Being chill is about being patient with the unfamiliar.

Everything may be new and different to your bae and one (or both) of you might go off the rails. You need to stifle the urge to freak out and try to be calm.

Realize that things rarely go exactly according to plan. You need to be chill when traveling with your S.O. Be okay with how everything flows — or doesn’t flow.

Live in the moment.

Lao Tzu said, “If you’re stressed about something you’re worried about the future. If you’re depressed, you’re worried about the past.” Neither the future nor the past is

Neither the future nor the past represent true reality. Only the here and now exists. Live in the moment. You both will have a much better experience.

Remember the point.

Don’t forget that the point of traveling with your S.O. is to spend time and create experiences.

Remember that you had enough interest in this person to make them your boo. You enough interest to go away together. Value the time you spend together because before you know it you’ll be back to your old routine.

A vacation should be fun, exciting, and relaxing. Focus on the fun and whether you and your S.O. want the same thing, you’ll have a good time.

Safe travels!

Do you have a story of traveling with your S.O.? Was it a nightmare or bliss? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Just like any good relationship, you need to nurture your money relationship. Here’s how to prepare for a good date with your money.

When you a that big date, you want everything to go right.

If everything goes just right, you’ll get lucky. Maybe enjoy more than dinner and drinks.

To have the kind of fun you really want to have, you must first prepare. You need everything in its place, everything looking good. And feeling good.

To get the results you want, you must plan, plan, plan.

This is the same when making a date with your money.

If you want your money date to be bigger, better, and more exciting, this six-step plan will satisfy you.

Prepare.

Sure, you could dive right into it and hope for the best. With a little pre-date prep, though, you can make your money date pleasurable and certain.

Get online access to all your accounts and account statements. Include investment and savings accounts with bank and investment firms, retirement (company sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts, such as your Traditional or Roth IRA), and credit card accounts.

Don’t forget about your Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Get access to your mortgage account and any personal and home equity lines of credit (HELOC).

Get access to any account you have anywhere. Have all this information accessible so you can peek at it as needed.

Gain an understanding of what kind of accounts you have and how they work. If you have a company-sponsored retirement plan, what kind of plan do you have and how does your employer manage it? If you have a HELOC, know your terms, such as withdrawal limit, interest rate, and payoff requirements.

Lay the groundwork for a successful date with your money so you aren’t stuck.

Get intimate.

It’s hard to get what you want when you don’t know what you want. You can’t be fulfilled if you don’t know what you crave.

To get the most from the date with your money, know your goals and dreams. If you don’t know your goals and dreams, do some self-reflection, meditate, journal, read, and talk with friends and family.

Find out what it is you most want in life and then structure your financial plan to achieve those goals.

While you’re self-reflecting, figure out what scares and concerns you. If you’re afraid to lose money, for example, you want more conservative investments.

If you’re concerned by what would happen if you lose your job, you want to devise a plan to save six-months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency savings account.

Be honest about your limitations and weaknesses. If you’re prone to misuse credit cards, then all those credit card hacking articles you’ve read don’t apply.

If your dream is to be a social worker, then a top-tier college that costs six figures doesn’t make sense.

Understanding what you desire and what you can handle will take you a long way in creating a financial plan that works for you. Most people create a financial plan to simply look like they’re doing better than their neighbor.

That’s a plan for failure.

Shoot to score.

If a date with your money includes someone else, good on you. The more the merrier.

If your money date includes someone else because that someone else is included in your family plan, know all the above about them as well as you do about yourself. When you have that level of understanding, you can seek mutually happy endings.

Money is one of the top three leading causes of stress in relationships. Understanding your partner’s financial personality and having them understand your financial personality will help you both feel satisfied.

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to have the exact same financial goals as your partner. You can support your partner in reaching for their individual financial goals.

Protect yourself.

Because you’re getting so intimate, it’s wise to use protection.

Get life insurance, even if you don’t have a spouse or children. Today’s life insurance isn’t our parent’s life insurance.

Policies today often allow you to leave an inheritance to heirs that include partners, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or anyone unrelated to you by blood but related to you by love.

Many policies permit leaving charitable donations. You may leave a donation to one or more organizations in your name. If you choose the latter, it’s wise to assign a trustee to your estate to oversee that the donations are distributed appropriately and not a la Eva Peron.

Get life insurance as soon as possible because the earlier you do the cheaper it is.

Whether you have health insurance through an employer or through the Affordable Care Act, make sure you have enough coverage to meet your needs. Risking that you won’t get sick or hurt is taking the risk of losing your health and your wealth.

Bank or credit union savings accounts or money market accounts with no bells or whistles are ideal to use as emergency savings accounts. You don’t want this money too easily accessible, so decline debit cards and check writing.

In a real emergency, you won’t mind driving to the bank or requesting a wire for this money. If you have an urge to buy a new television, the effort it takes to access your emergency savings funds may motivate you to find the money elsewhere.

Clip, pare, prune, and trim.

Less is more. As designers, writers, and editors often say, “Edit. Edit. Edit.”

That’s often the case that our lifestyles grow proportional to our incomes. We spend all we earn – and sometimes more.

In any case, cut excess spending and waste. When you trim, your prize becomes clearer and appears bigger. You will achieve any and all financial goals sooner rather than later.

Concentrate.

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that balancing your accounts and paying bills is low on your list of enjoyable activities.

To make this date with your money a quickie, take a deep breath, relax, and release. The more you focus on the task at hand and the goal in mind, the sooner you’ll be finished. We don’t always want dates to end quickly, but sometimes it’s all we can do.

With these steps, you can have the money date you need and achieve the money goals you want. It’s only as hard as you make it or want it to be.

Now make that date!

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