Certain things go as you get older. Is your cognitive ability a casualty? Learn what you can do to keep your skills sharp.

Why is the scenario below a common occurrence in my everyday life?

Me: Hi, I’m John.
Maximus Lazarus Falcon: Hi, John. I’m Maximus Lazarus Falcon.
Me: It’s nice to meet you.
Maximus Lazarus Falcon: It’s nice to meet you, too.
Me: Um, what’s your name again?

Now that I’m in my 40s, one might claim that I’m starting to suffer from a decline in cognitive skills. Au contraire! I’ve always lacked such cognitive skills. I’ve been struggling to remember people’s names for as long as I can remember anything.

What are cognitive skills?

As LearningRx.com says, “Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. Working together, they take incoming information and move it into the bank of knowledge you use every day at school, at work, and in life.”

A common belief is that we lose our cognitive skills as we age. The truth is that we gain our cognitive skills between birth until about 18 to 20 years old. At that point, some cognitive skills decline, and some continue to improve. Even in our older age, as some cognitive skills decline, other stay stable.

The reason why I couldn’t remember people’s names in my 20s is likely because I lacked cognitive attention skills. I’m not ADD or ADHD. I just lacked and maybe continued to lack solid cognitive attention skills. As I age, my inability to recall people’s names whom I’ve met less than six times (apparently) could be attributed to a decline in my cognitive memory skills.

What cognitive skills tend to improve with age?

Cognitive intelligence skills tend to improve and outperform younger people only because older people have acquired more knowledge and experience over time. Likewise, reason and problem-solving skills tend to develop because every year a person doesn’t die they’ve rationalized and solved more problems. Coming up with a solution for an older person may take longer than for a younger person, but they can find a solution, and often a better one, because of their history. Consequently, wise people in movies, think Yoda, tend to be or look much older.

Another cognitive skill that may improve or, at least, stay consistent until much later in life is cognitive attention skills . Therefore, a three-year-old can’t sit still for three minutes, and a 40-year-old can listen to a two-hour lecture on cognitive skills.

Another cognitive skill that typically improves or maintains homeostasis is language proficiency. Older people have lived longer and, therefore, have heard, read and used more words. An expected improvement is vocabulary is why we expect our wise, old sages to use more than one and two-syllable words or to use more than 140 characters to make important policy decisions.

What cognitive skills tend to decline with age?

Aging isn’t all roses and sunshine. Some cognitive skills do decline. That’s why you get upset when driving behind an older person.

Memory is often the first cognitive skill to be recognized as declining. By now, it’s almost expected and, at first, it’s humorous. I have three nieces and no matter whose name I’m trying to recall, I always recall the other two first. This why we chuckle when we walk into another room to get something only to forget the very thing we went into that room to get.

Of course, the humor may someday end. For this reason, it’s scary when an older adult goes missing. We’ve all heard the stories of older people who went for a drive and ended up hundreds of miles away in another state.

How can you maintain or slow the decline of cognitive skills?

As with our physical and mental health, best maintaining cognitive skills comes down to “use it or lose it.” That is, of course, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as an illness, accident or disease.

Exercise more

Also along the lines of physical and mental health, physical exercise is one of the best ways to fight the decline of cognitive skills. Studies show that just 60-minutes of exercise three times a week has a positive effect on cognition. So, get moving, no matter how old you are. I recently read that 40 is the new 20. Join me in getting fit!

Stimulate your brain

Learn something new. Try a new hobby. Watch documentaries and foreign language movies. Read more, especially on topics that make you think. Play games such as crossword puzzles, chess, Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, Poker, Rummy and even Memory.

All these will make your brain work and keep it working longer. So, start playing, just avoid betting when playing. For more brain stimulation, add more culture to your life.

Stay positive and reduce stress

Depression and isolation have been shown to have an adverse effect on the elderly in numerous ways, including causing a decline in cognitive skills. Research indicates that “not only do we know of the cognitive deficits present during acute depression episodes but we also know that some cognitive deficits do not completely go away even when depression is in remission.”

Look for ways to stay social and engaged with friends and family. As we age, we tend to want to stay home. This is the exact opposite of what we should do.

It’s, also, beneficial for us to engage in creative ways to stay positive. It’s impossible to stay depressed when you’re dancing naked in your living room or surrounded by amazing people – but maybe don’t do both at the same time – well, why not? Go ahead and dance naked in your living room surrounded by awesome people.

The takeaway is that some decline in cognitive skills is inevitable, however, in many cases, we can at least slow that decline. Likewise, some things get better with age, so it’s not all negative. The more aware we are of the signs of declining cognitive skills and the more steps we take to slow that decline, the better.

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Living healthier takes time, commitment, and information. If you have a phone, you have the information, the rest is up to you.

The gig-economy isn’t great only because it makes working excellent and entrepreneurship more accessible. I love the gig-economy because it is also creating mic-dropping technology.

The gig-economy created Uber and Lyft that has elevated the taxiing experience. It has brought us robotic crop pickers. The gig-economy has made waiting 36 hours for my Amazon package a long time!

There are other ways life is getting better. Picture it! Ten years ago, a little company called Apple invented something smaller called the iPhone and this made phones “smart.” Finally, there was a device small enough to fit in a pocket that played music and people could talk to and text with each other on it.

The world was amazed.

That little Apple, though, knew the greatest part of its invention was its “app technology.” Now anyone could create technology to add to these phones that improve life in the 21st Century. One such way apps are helping humans is with healthier living. Below are some of my and my friend’s favorite healthy-living apps. Try some and live healthier, too.

Exercise.

Zombies, Run!

As a fan of running and a bigger fan of The Walking Dead – so much so I’m even still watching Fear the Walking Dead – I’ll start with my personal favorite. Zombies, Run! combines a little virtual reality, gaming, music and fartlek.

That’s right. I said fartlek. Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play” and is an efficient way to lose weight and get in shape because it fluctuates the heart rate.

Zombies, Run! plays music while you run and notifies you when a zombie starts chasing you. If you don’t speed up, you’ll die. Not really, but it’s fun to pretend. There are 200 missions, and you’ll collect supplies and points as you go.

7 Minute Workout

Have 60, even 30 minutes to exercise? Me, either. The amazing gig-economy isn’t putting more hours in the day. That’s why I love the 7 Minute Workout app because I can usually find 7 minutes to workout, sometimes 14, sometimes 21 and . . . you get the picture.

The 7 Minute Workout app has 72 exercises, 22 workouts that can create up to 1,000 variations and the app progresses with your fitness level to make sure you don’t plateau or regress. I especially love that the 7 Minute Workout includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, as most training apps focused only on aerobic exercises.

iScubaToo

Jerry Garcia, the lead singer and a founder of The Grateful Dead, once famously said that he never would’ve tried drugs if he had tried scuba diving first. Aside from being Nancy Reagan’s most ardent ally, scuba diving is great for the mind, body and spirit.

CEO and Founder of iScubaToo, Chad Nash says of scuba diving, “It’s great for both the mind and body by keeping you present at all times. It’s a kind of meditative state. You don’t have to be the most physically fit to dive to start, so it fits everyone. From there, you can move onto other active, healthy opportunities.”

iScubaToo helps you easily find, rate, review and connect with dive shops around the world. Not all dive shops have quality safety or equipment ratings. This app works like Airbnb and Uber but for divers to find quality dive shops anywhere in the world.

Yoga

I love yoga! The human body is the best weight-machine, and we take ours everywhere. Unfortunately, many think they can only get a good weight workout at the gym, but that’s not so. So, let’s combine tranquility with technology.

Down Dog

Who doesn’t like to do it doggy style? Not only is Down Dog a great whole-body stretch and mild inversion yoga pose, but it’s also a great app. If you’re intimidated about doing to a yoga studio and falling all over yourself in front of strangers, or you simply don’t have the $1,000,000 to buy a yoga studio membership, check out Down Dog.

Down Dog claims it has so many sequences that you could never run out of content. That’s great because that keeps you challenged. Along with sequence and instruction, Down Dog plays appropriate music for a “studio-like yoga experience from the comfort of your home.”

Yoga Wake Up

If you like to do your yoga early in the morning like me to do yoga, it’s hard to go from an earth shattering alarm to a gentle yoga experience. That’s why I love Yoga Wake Up.

Yoga Wake Up wakes you with peaceful, meditative sounds rather than a noise that lets miners and steel workers know their shifts ended. It also lets you start your yoga practice with “slow, delicious morning stretches from the warmth of your covers.” That makes me want to wake up several times a day.

Meditation.

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

Have trouble falling asleep at night? You’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 45% of Americans report having trouble falling asleep at least once a week.

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson, brought to you by Michael Schneider, is the answer. I don’t know a single thing about either of those men, but they’re the only strange men I allow in my bed because their app and Johnson’s calming Scottish voice helps me fall asleep when the sheep refuse to jump the fence.

Omvana

For pure, lotus-sitting meditation, I love listening to Vishen Lakhiani’s 6 Phase Meditation on the Omvana app. In 21 minutes, Lakhiani walks listeners through a comprehensive meditation routine that includes connection, gratitude, forgiveness, visualization, daily intention and blessing.

As an overly-scheduled person with a perpetually wondering mind, Omvana helps me exercise uninterrupted meditation and feel the full effects of that kind of meditative focus.

Healthy eating.

Lose It!

Studies consistently show that one of the best ways to lose weight is to track your eating. But, keeping a ledger of the food you eat all day, every day and having to track the portion-size and calorie count of everything you eat sucks more than sucking lemons. That’s why Lose It! is great.

Lose It! lets you track the food you eat three different and easy ways. The first is by searching its database rather than going to some random site referred to you by Google. The second is scanning a bar code, if one’s available. Now, you can take a picture of your food and the resident experts at Lose It! will let you know how many calories you’re eating.

Lose It! connects with other apps, like other fitness trackers, and lets you set goals and track your progress.

Fit Men Cook

How can you find meals that won’t make the eyes of the resident experts at Lose It! pop? Get the Fit Men Cook app. Fit Men Cook gives easy and affordable meals that can be prepared in advance. It helps you to choose healthy meals and not succumb to a fast food meal because of time.

Fit Men Cook even makes grocery shopping easier. Based on the meals you choose to eat that week; Fit Men Cook will create a grocery list that can be checked off as you toss items into your grocery cart.

Plus, even if you can’t find a single recipe that you like, Kevin Curry, who invented Fit Men Cook, is delicious in and of himself.

Embrace the gig-economy. Embrace apps. They’ll help make you happier, healthier, and because most apps are free, they may make you wealthier.

Do you use apps to help you have a healthier lifestyle? What are some of your favorites? We’d love to hear about it over at the #Adulting Facebook community

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Amassing debt is easy. It’s a lot harder to answer the “how” and “why”. These answers can help you avoid mistakes and they can help you remedy them.

When the topic of credit card debt came up on the Adulting editorial calendar, it only made sense to assign it to one-half of the Debt Free Guys.

In case you’re not familiar, my husband and I acquired $51,000 in credit card debt despite having years of experience in financial services. The reason we amassed that impressive total was that we were living and spending unconsciously and trying to make up for years of insecurity and self-doubt.

Our story is just one example of how people find themselves in more debt than they can handle. There are numerous reasons why people get into debt.  Below is a list of what to look out for so you can avoid getting into debt yourself. And if any of these describes your story, know that there is a way out.

Don’t know their financial goals.

It’s my belief (and my husband’s) that more people are in debt than there needs to be because they aren’t clear on what their financial goals are.

It’s like knowing your destination when you’re in the car. The very first and most important thing you need to know is where you want to go. You can have the nicest car, years of experience driving, and it may be a beautiful, bright, and sunny day. But if you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there.

This issue was my challenge. I didn’t know what my financial goals were and so I spent my money on any and everything. I sought short-term, easy satisfaction rather than long-term, secure satisfaction.

Don’t know their life goals.

The sister reason why people get into too much debt is that they aren’t aware of their life goals. Financial goals and life goals are not synonymous.

For example, our stepson just graduated high school. He recently asked for help to create a plan to ensure he’ll be financially secure, not necessarily wealthy, but stable. Financial security is his financial goal. After doing some exercises with him, we’ve since attached a dollar sign to what financially secure means to him and how to get there.

His life goal is to be an artist. He’s currently interested in videography and photography and is going to college for photography. He knows there’s a chance he won’t make a fortune in photography, but in that instance, his financial goals will support his life goals.

Without knowing what you actually want and developing a strategy to get it, you’ll go in any direction the wind takes you. Have you met people like that? Every time you meet them, they have a new goal, they’re moving elsewhere, they’re focused on something new.

Try to keep up with the Joneses.

It is challenging to live in such a consumption society. Everywhere you turn, someone has something newer and nicer than you. Whether it’s your neighbor or the guy on television who you want to be like or be with, it’s easy to get sucked into competitive consumption.

My sister and brother-in-law experienced this in their neighborhood. Theirs is an interesting case study. They lived in a quiet area full of homeowners about their age and children all about their children’s ages. They were all middle-income earners, all within the same income bracket.

Sure enough, when a neighbor did an upgrade to their home, suddenly several other neighbors did upgrades. When someone bought a new car, suddenly there were new cars all over the neighborhood. It all ended finally when one couple said they had to move away because the competition was hurting them financially.

Trying to keep up with The Joneses is like trying to live someone else’s dream. In either case, you’ll never achieve true happiness if you’re living someone else’s life.

They don’t know how to manage money.

Most of us never learn how to handle money. It’s a major disservice of our school system. We motivate and encourage our students, regardless of student loan debt, to get the best and highest job possible, and yet they don’t know how to manage their money.

Being financially secure is not contingent on how much money you earn, but how you handle the money you do earn. With the accessibility of the internet, there is a host of financial information at anyone’s fingertips.

They live and spend unconsciously.

This issue is synonymous with sticking your proverbial head in the sand. Often people live and spend unconsciously because taking the time to learn about their financial situation would mean they’d have to live and spend better. Whether they earn too little income to support their lifestyle or are trapped in an increasing cycle of amassing debt, they continue not to pay attention because it’s easier than addressing the truth.

Unfortunately for many, they learn Stein’s Law the hard way. That law says that if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Stein’s Law is why most of the emails my husband and I receive are from people who are about to file bankruptcy or have reached retirement age and can’t retire.

They just divorced.

Divorce can be paralyzing to one’s life and finances. No part of divorce is fun, and it can leave both parties bruised emotionally and financially.

Not only is divorce itself expensive due to legal and court fees, but the division of assets rarely seems fair to both sides. The compound effect is that contractual obligations, such as requirements to repay debts, don’t disappear when you divorce.

Over 75% of Americans are in debt. It’s logical to conclude that 75% of couples in America who get divorced also have debt. Those debts must still be repaid despite the status of your marriage.

They have unexpected or large medical bills.

Healthcare in the United States is not getting cheaper, and a health scare or issue can easily wipe out one’s life savings. Even with an increased usage of HSA accounts and access to retirement funds to cover medical expenses, the wrong ailment can ruin one’s financial life.

For this reason alone, more Americans need to have an emergency savings account. But, with the estimation that 47% of Americans would go into debt if they had a $500 emergency, we have a long way to go.

They have an addiction.

People don’t make logical decisions when they have an addiction. You might automatically assume that this point is about gambling. To be sure, gambling does ruin a lot of people’s financial lives. They lose life savings and acquire numerous, even sketchy forms of debt.

This point also applies to people with drug and alcohol addiction who may make poor financial decisions that can cause them to acquire debt. It’s easy to get wrapped up in letting debt subsidize your addiction.

They don’t understand how credit cards work.

In part, because many people don’t understand money, most people don’t know how debt works. We receive too many emails from people saying that they weren’t aware that their interest rate could increase. They assume that the only reason their credit limit increased was that they’re doing well financially. They assume that the only reason they were offered a credit card was due to their creditworthiness – because they’re doing well with their existing credit cards.

That’s simply not true.

Just as with purchasing investments, it’s important for people to understand the nuts and bolts of how credit works. This is where reading the fine print helps and reading personal finance blogs that you can trust helps even more.

They’re unemployed or underemployed.

Even though the economy has been recovering since 2008, and wages are increasing, too many people are unemployed or underemployed. The economy is changing, and more jobs are being automated.

It’s incumbent upon American workers to increase their skill-sets and diversify income streams. This is one of the reasons why I recommend to everyone –everyone – to start a blog. Regardless of your career or skill set and regardless of what direction you want to take your career, a blog is a critical component of future career and financial success. Some people, in fact, think having a blog is more important than having a resume.

These are the top 10 reasons why many people find themselves in more debt than they can manage. Once you know what to look out for, it’s easier to avoid the mistakes. If you see yourself in one or more of the reasons above, now that you know your problem, you’ll more quickly remedy it.

Have you experienced one or more of the reasons above? Were you able to climb out of debt? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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We’re used to our mundane schedules. Take a break and experience the world around you. Give your life some oomph.

I find that when my life starts feeling ho hum or repetitive, it’s because I’ve gravitated towards a routine of cheap and easy. I, personally, get easily sucked in a cycle of wake, work, sleep, repeat because I’m often focused on a goal.

These feelings tell me that I need to add a dash of excitement to my life and experience a little culture outside my office.  It’s important to get outside of my own head and into someone else’s.

I live in a great city within a great state that has a lot to offer. Despite this, I need to take the initiative to make the most of it. These are some of the ways I get my culture-fix.

Virtual music.

My number one, all-time favorite way to gain culture is from music – virtual music that is. It’s not that I don’t like concerts. It’s just that with YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, you can listen to almost any song ever made from any time in history, anywhere in the world, for a nominal fee (if there’s a fee at all).

How amazing is that!

I frequently and consciously make myself look for and listen to music I don’t necessarily gravitate towards, nor love. Occasionally, I learn to love a sound or a song and often I’m surprised that I loved one my whole life and never knew it.

I often listen to Radio Roulette. Radio Roulette allows you to choose the station, album, or song your music platform recommends for you. Usually they fit in with your genre of choice, but now and then they throw something crazy in there, and it can be exciting.

Unvirtual music, big and small.

Now, if I didn’t have to live within space, time and a budget, I’d listen to live music on site every day of the week and twice on Tuesday (I don’t even know what that means, but I hear it a lot). Live music is far and away my favorite way to hear new music.

Nothing can beat the energy of artists entertaining their fans. This is why bigger bands and singers say they prefer smaller venues. Smaller venues are more intimate, and the performer connects better with their audience.

Of course, if you can sell out The O2 Arena, who wouldn’t?

Choose friends who like live music to do a musical round-robin. Each of you takes a turn finding live shows to watch, ideally the person who chooses the show already likes the music and the others don’t know about it.

Talk talk.

I’m the same as most of you and spend the bulk of my day online. My job requires it. Then, as the human species evolves, we seem to spend more of our personal time online. I like to face-this and snap-that like anyone else. However, I do fear losing the art of conversation.

Studies continue to show that people are spending more time online than with actual people. When many of us do go out to walk amongst other humans, we find it hard to engage and empathize with each other. Some of us even acquire agoraphobic traits.

Therefore, I force myself to get out and talk verbal-to-audible with other humans. I like to hear what’s going on in their lives. I like to revel in their triumphs and support them in their tribulations. I like to understand their points of view, especially if they don’t align with mine.

You’ll think I’m a fuddy duddy (especially after that), but I believe it’s nearly impossible to hold an honest, tempered, political debate online. Virtual discussions lose tone and inflection. They don’t have eye-contact or show emotions. They’re very one-sided, too. When we’re responding online, we’re trapped in our thoughts rather than engaged in conversation.

Consequently, we don’t learn anything from virtual debates. Our opinions aren’t necessarily challenged. Virtual discussions are the virtual opposite of the Socratic Method. If Socrates had to live in a world of virtual debate, it might’ve killed him.

Café o-lay.

Speaking of music, conversations, and debates, find them in a café. In many European countries, the cafes are where it all happens. They listen to live music, hear book or poem readings, engage in enjoyable conversations and interesting debates all while enjoying a well-crafted latte.

Modern, American-style coffee shops that have made their way around the globe have become more transactional and less experiential. But, the true cafes exist, and they’re not traded on the U.S. stock. Look for those small mom-and-pop shops.

A night (or a day, or a minute) at the museums.

This may seem like an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many times I visit a city and someone who lives there tells me they’ve never been to this museum or that museum. Or, they’ve only gone to a certain museum because I was in town.

There are so many museums, big and small, everywhere in the world. They’re fascinating and historical. They tell us stories and share experiences.

Most museums offer free or discount days, if money is your concern. Many have delicious cafes and restaurants inside or outside that can enhance your experience.

Fully take advantage of these. I was recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for the first time and had the opportunity to see Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night in real life. I had seen it countless times in posters, books and TV before, but I never experienced it in person. I’m positive that most people have seen and will see Starry night countless times in their lives on posters, in

I’m positive that most people have seen and will see Starry night countless times in their lives on posters, in books, and on TV too. The amazing difference between those images of Starry Night and not the real painting is that the actual painting seems alive.

What makes it so magical and historically significant is how Van Gogh made a painting come to life. As you look at it, it moves. It has depth. It’s as close to living as a painting will ever get.

That’s why I was astounded by the crowd of people around the original painting all taking pictures of it with their phones. I looked directly at it the entire time I was in front of it because I figured I can look at a replica any time.

Document it.

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are bringing documentaries into our living rooms. In the days of yore, wherever that is, you had to go to a movie theater, usually an art-house theatre, to see documentaries. Unfortunately, this gave limited audiences to some amazing pieces of work and cultural experiences.

Now, thousands of great documentaries are available at our fingertips. I know it’s easier to watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead (guilty!), but many documentaries offer excitement and education all in one. They introduce us to people who are so much like us, but other than via the documentary, we’d never know of them.

Roam.

This is just my fancy way of saying travel. In fact, I should say, “TRAVEL!” I have never gained more culture than when I’ve gone abroad and to new places within my own country, which in some parts can feel like a whole different world.

It’s easy to believe that what we see in the news is reality, but it’s barely as real as reality television. Are all places like your backyard? No, and that’s the point. But, is everyone else living everywhere else experiencing the beginning of the apocalypse? No, and you can’t really learn that without going there.

With as vast and diverse as our country is, you don’t even have to leave our borders to experience different cultures. So, this doesn’t have to be an overly expensive cultural experience.

As Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.”

Read.

Speaking of reading, one of the cheapest ways to travel through space and time is reading a book – a good, old-fashioned, paper book.

Yes, I loved my Kindle, and I downloaded a library of books because of it. But, nothing beats holding an organically made book in your hand. It seems like others agree, too. Print sales rose 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Consequently, e-book sales have been dropping around the globe.

There’s just something about reading a traditional book in an authentic café drinking a crafted latte. That may sound snobbish, but you can have that whole experience for $20. So, I think of it as economical and grounded.

You can’t travel in time . . . yet . . . and, if you can’t go to a place now, the next best thing is reading a book in which you create your own visuals. Not only are books relaxing, they’re also inspiring. They make the mind think and exercise the brain.

Get lectured.

I learned that listening to lectures doesn’t have to stop in college. I also learned that, contrary to college, I now enjoy listening to lectures. For many, this has been inspired by TED Talks. However, college campuses, convention centers, churches and community centers around the world offer all different varieties of lectures, many of which are free.

Challenge yourself by going to a lecture you’re inherently opposed to hearing. Reinforce your beliefs by going to lectures by people you know. The most valuable part of a conversation is the listening part. Lectures without hecklers offer only the listening part, which can be good for the mind.

Of course, you don’t have to do these to gain culture, and this isn’t an exhaustive list. But, do something that takes you off your couch and out of your comfort zone. It can only lead to more fulfillment or knowledge.

What are some ways you experience culture? What effect do these experiences have on you? Tell us about it in #Adulting Facebook community.

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Your blog is great but no one knows it. People need to know about your work. Get your social media game up.

This blogger makes $111,000 a month. This guy makes $17 million a year. She makes a good six-figures a month.

Blogging is fun and a great way to make money if you do it right, but the path from $0, or from being in the red because of start-up costs, to three figures per month can be elusive.

What should a new blogger consider to go from red, or flat, to black? A critical component of a blogging strategy is social media strategy.

The blogosphere is part of the virtual world. Therefore, it’s important to use virtual marketing in a way that lets the virtual world know you exist and how you help your readers.

As personal finance bloggers who talk to the LGBT community, what’s worked for us and the bloggers above have been different. Based on your blog’s focus, personality, and audience, you will also need to develop a unique social media plan.

You may need to nuance what I write below to better target your demographic. But, this will give you some direction from my personal experience.

Social media is plain marketing.

At its simplest, a social media strategy is just marketing. It’s different (but not much different) than when businesses pay for advertisements on the radio or television.

But, this is why I love the new gig-economy so much – the barrier to start a business today is so much lower than in the past. Unlike the old economy when you needed a lot of money to advertise on the radio and television, which could take all your revenue or savings, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars into advertising today. You can start with a few advertising dollars and then scale up as your business grows.

Besides cost, compared to traditional advertising, another difference lies is in the name. Social media lets you be social with your readers, listeners, followers, or whatever you call the people you connect with and serve. The ability to engage with your audience is HUGE. You can talk one-on-one with them. You can follow them on social media, as they follow you, and it’s not creepy.

Engaging on social media is great because it lets you learn about your audience, how they talk and what they need. Learning about your audience helps you create the content, products, and services they need.

Rather than investing thousands of dollars in market research about a product or service you want to provide, a simple poll on Facebook or Twitter with an $100 Amazon gift card is all you need.

So, what social media strategies do you need? That depends on who you are, what you blog about, and where your audience is.

No matter what, you probably need to be on Facebook.

There are two gigantic players in the virtual world and no matter your feelings towards them, you need to learn to live and work with them. They are Google and Facebook.

To work with Google, you’ll need to learn or hire someone who is good with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For this article, we’ll focus on Facebook.

Yes, there are reports that Facebook usage is down and even lower for younger people, but to some extent, everyone is on Facebook. My 77-year-old mother and father just joined Facebook this summer. While they still don’t get it, they’re on Facebook, and they’re at least stalking people.

To promote your blog on Facebook, you’ll want to create a business page. For many reasons, I’d advise against mixing your blogger profile on your personal profile. However, the first people who will follow your business page will be your friends, family and colleagues. So, don’t be afraid to invite them from your business page to like your business page.

It is, however, okay to share some of your personal life on your business page. Personal updates as they relate to your blog topic are significant. The occasional quirky or non-blog topic related updates are engaging. Being too off topic too often, though, will confuse your audience.

For your lead image, so the virtual world knows you’re a human, it’s ideal to use your image. You can superimpose your blog or brand logo over your image, so the other humans learn your brand.

From your business page, hook and link to your latest blog article. Provide enough information on your Facebook post about your latest blog article that’ll capture your followers’ interest, then provide the link to your article followed by a period (.) so Facebook doesn’t make your link disappear.

Likewise, you’ll want to include an image on your Facebook post that ties with your latest blog article. The image size should be 940px x 492px and include zero to minimal verbiage. Facebook now owns Instagram and images with too many characters aren’t permitted on Instagram. Consequently, Facebook’s algorithms also won’t promote posts with images that have too much verbiage. This throttle will slow traffic to your blog.

Add Facebook Pixel to your blog. Just like social media allows you to engage with and learn more about your audience, Facebook Pixel lets you learn even more by capturing demographic information about who visits your blog. This additional information will help when you create ads with Facebook Audience to target your blog articles, products and services to specific audiences.

Every Facebook post on a business page can be boosted to reach a bigger audience. There’s a blue button at the bottom right of each post that says, creatively, “Boost.” This feature lets bloggers choose high-level demographic information (location, interests, age, etc.) to promote their post to particular audiences. This is ideal for getting started and requires a minimal investment of money.

That said, it seems that once Facebook learns a business page owner will pay to promote posts, it does whatever it can to incentivize more paid post promotions by that business owner. Keep that in mind before you start paying and make sure you’re prepared to pay more money more often.

Facebook Audience complements Facebook Pixel in that it lets bloggers drill deeper into the demographic information (income, the number of lines of credit, zip codes) of a blog’s audience captured by Facebook Pixel.

This level of information is helpful for all businesses, including bloggers, because you can target the right content, products, and services to the right audience, even more so than television advertising, and convert more traffic to your blog or sales of your goods and services.

Since you’re on Facebook, you may as well be on Instagram.

As I said, Facebook owns Instagram, and that’s why your images must be conducive to both social media platforms. Therefore, it makes sense to be on both. Consequently, there’s renewed interest in Instagram.

Instagram is where you share pictures and videos. This is especially ideal for food bloggers because who doesn’t love to look at or watch food? Instagram’s also good for fashion, photograph, and lifestyle bloggers. Essentially, any topic or niche with a good visual component is good for Instagram.

I’ll be honest, as a personal finance blogger, I’m still figuring out Instagram. Capturing the lifestyle component of being and living debt free seems to work. Also, appropriately using hashtags is important. For example, “#LGBT, #GayPride, #Homosexual” targets my images to people who use similar hashtags.

Twitter Is great for B2B.

Twitter is struggling to monetize itself, and it can feel like drinking from a fire hose, but Twitter is still relevant. A nightly news segment doesn’t go by that doesn’t include a tweet from some politician or celebrity, our current president notwithstanding.

For my business, Twitter has been great for connecting with other personal finance bloggers, investment firms, banks and financial publications, and influencers and celebrities. The relationships that I’ve built with investment companies and banks have been valuable to my business because they let me create brand ambassadorships that have made me good money.

Connecting with my fellow personal finance bloggers and celebrities has been icing on the dough. The connections I’ve made with financial publications have built my most consistent stream of income as a personal finance freelance writer.

Create a Twitter profile for your blog. Provide a brief profile description of who you are and what you do and, again, use a personal picture as the profile picture, so the Twitter-sphere knows you’re a human. Then, follow other bloggers in your niche, businesses you have an interest in and might be able to partner with, and other humans who you think may be interested in your blog.

For us, we frequently search “#LGBTQ or #gay” to find other LGBTQ people who may be interested in living successful financial lives.

After you follow people and businesses, engage with them. Like, comment on, and share their content. When you’ve engaged enough, occasionally tag them on a tweet that promotes a blog article of yours. Whether you tag anyone on a tweet or not, if you link to a blog article, write an enticing hook to your article in 140 characters or fewer.

Images, again, are necessary. Horizontal and clean are best.

Pinterest wants to be Google, so you may want to be on Pinterest.

Pinterest is investing a ton of money to be the alternative resource to Google and to appeal to men. Currently, most people on Pinterest are women. If you’re a women blogger blogging about any topic traditionally appealing to women: cooking, fashion, beauty products, home organization, etc., then you must be on Pinterest.

You may wonder why a gay personal finance blogger, who blogs for the LGBT community, has a social media presence on Pinterest. In 2015, Pinterest invested $15 million to connect specifically with men. Surely to holy Mother Nature, two to four percent of those men Pinterest reaches are gay.

Pinterest is uniquely more helpful to bloggers than any other social media platform because every other platform tries to keep its users on its platform. While the other social media platforms are essential in building an audience and traffic, the hoarding of traffic is a constant challenge for bloggers.

Pinterest, on the other hand, wants to lead its users to the content that’s most useful to its users with the long-game plan of being the alternative to, or replacing Google to its users.

Create a business account on Pinterest. Create up to ten boards that cover different topics related to your blog. This way people who visit your profile can see what you’re all about and then look and share your pins. For example, I have “Best of Debt Free Guys,” “Gay Travel,” “Money Podcasts” and more.

Describe who you are and what you do. Again, use a personal image on your profile. If you’re a straight man, it’s ideal if you include a picture with your wife or girlfriend and kids, if you have kids. The reason is that most Pinterest users are women and they typically think a Pinterest page by a man may not appeal to them. It’s branding, not sexism.

Post pins on your various boards as appropriate. Your pins should be “rich pins” – high-resolution images that relate and link to your blog article and are 1,000px x 2,000px.

This article includes enough information to start your social media strategy. One of the six-figure-a-month bloggers above has nailed the Pinterest strategy. So, click here, here, here and here to see what the pro is doing. That’s what I do.

Honorable mentions: LinkedIn and YouTube.

That’s my primary social media strategy. If your blog is more corporate-like or career-focused, you might try LinkedIn.

I dabble in YouTube videos but haven’t had the time to perfect them. I do okay in part because reading about money can be dry sometimes and videos let me inject even more personality than my writing. If you’re a beauty blogger/vlogger (video blogger), for example, YouTube may be the platform for you. Follow and learn from other vloggers.

Starting a social media strategy can feel daunting. I tried to start everything at once and failed several times. I’d recommend choosing one platform to start and then adding another platform once you get better with the previous platform. You may eventually learn that a platform you tried doesn’t work for you and that’s fine.

I’m glad I didn’t waste too much time on Periscope, even though when I saw U2 use it on their Denver visit, I was very tempted.

The important thing is that you start a blog because a blog is an excellent way to diversify your income stream or even replace the income stream you already have.

If you have a blog, how has social media – or the lack of a social media presence – affected your blog’s success? What is your favorite social media platform! Please share with us over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Want to move up on the job? Do you seem promotion-ready? Here are some things you can do to be sure.

Work’s going well. The economy is good. You’re killing it, and you want to move onward and upward. How do you get that next promotion? Here’s how you can bet you’ll get one more step up the ladder to your dream job.

Set yourself up for success.

Understand the value you bring to your team or organization and where you struggle. Self-improvement is noble, but there are some theories, such as Gallup’s Strength Finders, that say focusing on getting better at what you’re best at may be a better use of your time and energy.

Understanding your limitations and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Richard Branson said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” It’s, also, important to understand that consistently good, small steps may sometimes be better than risky leaps. Stretch yourself, but don’t tear yourself apart.

Don’t be entitled.

By all accounts, you may deserve the next raise or promotion. You may be the ideal candidate for a new job. You may, in fact, be the smartest person on your team or in your company. That said, there are multiple variables to running a business and sometimes the reasons for some decisions aren’t always visible to everyone.

That said, there are multiple variables to running a business and sometimes the reasons for some decisions aren’t always visible to everyone.

Coming across as entitled will make you a turn-off.

See the forest and the trees.

It’s great that you know what your long-term career goals are. It’s great to work with mentors who are doing what you want to do. Remember, though, that it’s often not a direct path from where you are to where you want to be. It may sometimes help to make lateral, and even backward career moves get to that long-term goal.

Remember, though, that it’s often not a direct path from where you are to where you want to be. It may sometimes help to make lateral, and even backward career moves get to that long-term goal.

Don’t suck up.

No one respects a suck-up and a suck-up is obvious to everyone. Especially if your goal is to be the leader of your current team someday, you’ll want the people who will eventually report to you to respect you.

Don’t be an asshole.

If you’re unapproachable and hard to work with, it’ll be more difficult to move up the corporate ladder. Of course, there are assholes everywhere, but business leaders need to lead, and it’s hard to lead if everyone hates you.

Don’t get too comfortable.

Live in the here and now, but don’t get stuck in it. In today’s economy, it’s helpful to get a broad range of experiences and knowledge. Learn what you can learn in a particular role and then move onto the next position, which may or may not be a step up.

If you stay in a job for too long, you may be “typecast” in that role and it’ll be hard to grow.

Be self-aware.

Life and business aren’t little league soccer. If you didn’t have a good year, don’t ask for a raise or promotion. If you come across as aloof and unaware of yourself, the value you add to your team and your performance, those who decide who moves up and on may decide you’re too out of touch.

Keep it business.

Keep your work life separate from your home life. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. No matter how friendly you get with colleagues and peers, keep it professional.

If you become too casual about work, you may come across as not suitable for moving up.

Show up.

It never ceases to amaze me the value of simply showing up. Show up to work regularly and when you’re supposed to show up.

Do your job. Network with colleagues and superiors. Have mentors. Always keep learning. Then, apply for jobs as often as you need to get the job you want.

Be persistent.

If you do everything else, then be persistent. Continue to show up and continue to apply for the jobs you want until you get the job you want.

Don’t expect others to have your dream.

You may be crystal clear on your career path and the job you want, but no one else will know unless you share your vision with them. Find confidants and mentors to share your dreams with and ask for help and guidance. If you don’t express what you want and work to get what you want, you won’t get it.

If you don’t express what you want and work to get what you want, you won’t get it.

Be courageous, not obnoxious.

Those who are brave enough to share their ideas and correct their superiors stand out as leaders. However, don’t come across as offensive or as a know-it-all. No one likes either trait, and neither will get you far.

When you’re right, be quiet. When you’re wrong, apologize.

No one cares about your drama.

Keep the drama at home. No one cares that your cat is sick or that your ex is a jerk. Personal days are just that – days to deal with your personal drama at home. Keep the drama in your personal life and not your work life.

Learn from yours and other’s mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. Not only is it wise to learn from your mistakes, but it’s also efficient to learn from others’ mistakes. Why repeat the same mistake someone else made when you can learn from it?

Some people make the same mistakes repeatedly. If you watch what’s going on around you, ask questions and learn from others, you’ll become better that much quicker and with fewer of your own mistakes.

Everything you do isn’t special.

Let me repeat, life and business aren’t little league soccer. Some people want to praise for everything they do. Refilling the coffee machine, as hard as it apparently is, isn’t cause for celebration. Organizing the team lunch, though helpful, doesn’t qualify you to be the boss.

Likewise, simply doing what you’re expected to won’t be enough to get you that next promotion. If you consistently achieve your job descriptions, that’s great. Congratulations! However, those who decide on who gets the next promotion may decide you’re perfect in your current role.

Be a solution.

Business is about seeing opportunities and overcoming challenges. Look for the possibilities and then propose ways to take advantage of them. Spotting problems is easy. Creating solutions is how you can turn a problem into an opportunity.

Ask for help.

You don’t have to go it alone in business. In fact, it shows great character when you can ask for help and then use the help that you’re given. No one knows all the answers, including the boss. The best leaders are those who can process the guidance they get from their teams and make the best decisions.

Ultimately, be the employee you want to have when you’re the boss. No one is perfect and no one expects you to never make a mistake. But, if you can learn from your mistakes, add value and be easy to work with, you’re likely to land that dream job sooner than you think.

Do you have any great tips to add? Have any of these tips helped you on the job? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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A resume is stale. Show who you really are. Learn how a blog can really make you shine.

So, is it time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile? You can do that, but it’s not enough.

No, really. Resumes are so 2009. LinkedIn profiles may be a little better.

What you need is a blog. Why? For starters, a blog is a more robust example of who you are and what you can do.

Improve and demonstrate your writing skills.

Good writing skills are essential for most jobs. Whether you’re a customer service representative, a journalist, or a team manager, your writing needs to be clear, accurate, and compelling – unless you’re a doctor.

Admittedly, far too much business today is done by email. That said, if your emails to clients are confusing or droll, you won’t be effective.

Rather than learn good writing skills on the job, learn at home. Your blog readers, who will likely be your friends and family at first, will let you know if your writing isn’t making sense. I won’t hear from friends or family for years, but I’ll get an email or direct message when they notice a mistake in my writing.

You don’t have to go solo, though, there are numerous online courses that you can take to help with your writing. Some are free. Some are cheap. A good writing course is worth it.

Improve and demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

Businesses are desperate for critical thinkers. Those who excel do more than regurgitate information. Hiring managers and business leaders want to know that their teams can manipulate and apply information and data in a way that’s useful and beneficial to the organization.

What better way to make sure you’re interpreting information accurately and coming to unique, valuable conclusions than to share your interpretations with the world on your blog and social media?

In 2011, when I posted my first blog post with my name on it, I had to work up the courage. I was concerned about what people would think. They might’ve thought my ideas were stupid, so I was prepared to rebut their rebuttals. They might’ve called out my writing, spelling and grammar skills, so I proofed, proofed and reproofed before I hit publish.

Hitting the publish button for the first time took me way too long. I’ve gotten much better in the last six years, and that’s a skill I can take to any job, whether I work for myself or someone else.

Show your personal brand.

Personal brands are gold these days. It’s harder for businesses today than generations past to market to and attract an audience. Unless it’s aired during the Super Bowl, a television commercial, like a resume, doesn’t carry the same weight as it once did. Therefore, businesses are looking for creative solutions to be recognized and to grow their buyers.

This is why a person with a solid personal brand is valuable to a business.

The best way to show potential business partners or employers your true self is with your blog. If an employer can scroll through even a few months of your blog, they’ll get a somewhat accurate understanding of who you are. Therefore, they’ll have a good idea if you can work together and, if so, of how you can work together.

Take, for example, a hair stylist. If a hair stylist, going through school, posts their work online and their work is consistently good or shows improvement, they can share their blog or portfolio with prospective employers and the hiring employer will have a good understanding of the candidate.

Build a following.

A personal brand backed by a substantial social media following is platinum. You don’t have to be an A-List YouTube star (if that’s such a thing). But, if you have an audience who likes and listens to you, you have leverage when business opportunities arise.

If that same hair stylist also posts their work on Instagram in addition to their blog, and they grow their Instagram following to one thousand, ten thousand, or more, they’re even more valuable to a prospective employer.

Also, the risk of failure for the stylist with the big Instagram following opening their own salon is less because they can guarantee a percentage of their followers will follow them to whatever salon they go.

Build a platform for your other skills.

In today’s economy, it’s good to have multiple streams of income. Employees no longer spend a lifetime working for the same employer. Even staying with the same job, within the same company for more than a few years is considered antiquated. The best way for employees to feel financially secure is to not rely on one source of income.

A blog is a great part-time job. Your blog can focus on your hobby, something entirely different from your day job. Or, it can complement what you do during the day.

Take, for example, someone who wants to be a nanny abroad. Thousands of people want to be nannies in different parts of the world. Being a nanny will be the prospective employee’s primary job. However, they could start a blog about how they went from the idea of becoming a nanny abroad to actually becoming a nanny abroad.

Blog readers can use the nanny’s blog as the template for how to become nannies themselves. Everyone can learn from the mistakes and successes of the nanny. The nanny can continue blogging about their experiences, what they like and don’t like, what they learn, and about other nanny jobs.

They could eventually monetize their nanny blog with ads and sponsored posts. They can become a resource for the nanny industry and write books, make videos, and become a speaker all because of a blog.

Have an accountability journal.

Another value of having a blog is that it can act as your accountability. If you’re striving to achieve a goal, such as paying off debt or losing weight, sharing your goals with the world makes it harder to quit when you don’t succeed as fast or as quickly as you’d like.

Likewise, people with the same or similar goals can act as your support, share their stories to help, and inspire you and others. Plus, everyone can learn from your trials and tribulations.

You can, essentially, create a community of people to help and uplift each other. Connecting with people because of your blog is even better than monetizing it.

Resumes are outdated.

Finally, resumes are static and stale. It’s easy to pad a resume and use the right words to make even the most mundane success seem incredible. Resumes won’t go away anytime soon because they’re an executive summary of your accomplishments.

A blog, though, has life and personality. It can demonstrate everything about you. To be sure, no recruiter or hiring manager will sift through every page of your blog and every video you create, but they don’t have to do all that.

Anyone considering hiring or working with you will easily and quickly get a sense of who you are from your blog. That’s why a blog is a nice complement to your resume.

So, don’t skip updating your resume or LinkedIn profile. But, complement them with a blog and stand out from others. Starting a blog isn’t as hard as you think and the value is more than worth it.

Have you seen success with a blog or have any questions about starting one? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Want a job? Tone down the online fame. Your next keystroke could have real-world consequences.

Newsflash: Nothing you do on social media is private!

We’ve known this since the early days when the careers of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber launched and we were privy to way too much, way too often.

We pretend it’s not true, but we can’t pretend any longer because for us common-folk, the stakes can be really high. Your social media presence could get you fired or keep you from getting the job you want.

It may be that in the 1980s Steve Jobs gave the singer, Rockwell, a sneak peek into the iPhone and it inspired his ode “Somebody’s Watching Me”. Because today, yes, everyone and everything is watching you.

Whether you’re doing anything worth watching is in the eye of the beholder, and today there are people paid to behold you.

If you’re not online, you don’t exist. But don’t be too out there.

Between February 16 and March 9, 2017, Harris Poll conducted an online survey on behalf of CareerBuilder. The results surprised even me, someone who lives online and who used to do background checks on people.

According to the survey:

  • 57% of employers are less likely to hire a job candidate they can’t find online.
  • 54% have chosen not to hire a job candidate because of their online presence.
  • 70% of employers use an online screening process to vet job candidates.

The takeaway is that it’s becoming more important to have an online presence and it’s even more important to manage that online presence well.

Be Social, behave yourself, and be smart.

You may not be as bad as The Tinkler or Mr. Chocolate, but these funny yet unfortunate social media blunders aren’t the only examples of why you might not land that next job.

Posts and pictures with drugs and sexual references certainly won’t help you become gainfully employed. What you may not know is that two-thirds of employers polled by Jobvite in 2014 said that job candidates with posts that include profanity, guns and alcohol might make them consider someone else.

Even more surprising is that while 44% of employers said posts about alcohol were concerning, 66% were concerned about poor spelling and poor grammar in social media posts.

What can you do?

Be secure, not sneaky.

The answer to the social media screening process is not to have no social media presence (double-negative intended, future boss) and it’s not to lock down your social media presence like Ft. Knox.

The best way to manage your online life is to set up all your social media accounts, except LinkedIn, as private as possible. Then, create a professional, well-managed, and public LinkedIn profile and make it so amazing they can’t ignore you. This way, prospective employers can find you, and they find what you want them to find.

Vegas rules don’t apply.

The internet isn’t like Vegas. Hell, even Vegas isn’t like Vegas.

Anything you do online can easily go public no matter how private your settings. People like to share on social media. They like to do screen shots to make edits or to share on different platforms. So, if you told the boss that you’re home with the flu, avoid having pictures taken of you lying by the pool.

Remember, too, as many a newbie celebrity farther back than Madonna and Playboy has learned, that if ever someone can make money off of you, they’ll probably try! So, in the way, distant future when you may be a big name for yourself, that thing you thought no one would know – won’t be found out because you didn’t do it.

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

…then, don’t say it at all. This rule is like The Golden Rules’ slightly silver sister. In an age when even the slightest off-color remark can get someone fired from a job or treated like a pariah, don’t say anything negative about anyone, ever.

You may feel justified bashing this politician or that public figure and they probably deserve it. However, the person who may be able to get you the job you want may like that politician or that public figure and you may have just strained your relationship with them, if it ever existed. There are people paid to criticize people. If you’re not one, let them fight the good fight on your behalf.

Remember your grandmother.

Or, your mom. Or, Jesus. Or, whoever’s opinion you most cherish. Before doing, sharing, or saying something on social media, first consider what this most important person might think before going through with your plan.

If you’d feel embarrassed if they saw or read your brazen post or share, then a prospective employer might see it as a reason to not hire you or worse, “like” you.

For some reason, it’s easy to forget that on social media the whole world may be watching. What we think is private, funny, cool or justified may not be in that beholder’s eye. Until that day when you no longer need or want a job, keep that in mind.

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Life’s too short to always feel shafted. If you’re not getting what you want out of your life, it’s time to change things! Let’s put your effort where it matters.

Is your life a profitable business or a non-profit? In business, everything requires a return on investment (ROI). Unless they’re required otherwise by law, companies don’t do anything without the intention of making money. Companies hire a person in so much as that person can complete a task that pays for their salary and makes the company a profit.

I know! Some jobs subsidize others, but this isn’t ECON101. We’re in Adulting701, and we’re talking about life.

Why is it that we don’t apply a similar philosophy of an ROI on our personal lives? We keep people around who suck our souls. We repeat bad habits that harm our health. We avoid opportunities to challenge ourselves and grow. We stay with the same, old tried and true to the detriment of our dreams.

That is not a business or personal model for success.

Spend time with other awesome people.

As we age, we collect people in our lives and keep them at all cost. We’re loyal and faithful and sometimes caring to a fault. Everyone has their down days and who doesn’t want to live up to Bill Withers’ standard when he sang, “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on.” Aside from ending in a preposition, those are noble words by which to live.

See what I did there?

In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talked about emotional bank accounts. Everyone has an emotional bank account, and the people in our lives are either making a deposit or making a withdrawal from our emotional bank account.

The more people withdraw from our emotional bank account, the lower our ROI. If they deduct or even deplete our emotional bank account, our ROI can be negative. That’s not okay. We want people who add more than they take so that we can be all or more than we can be. It’s fair to remember, that we’re either adding to or taking from others’ emotional bank accounts, too.

Keep people around you who make you better and whom you can help be better.

Risk living for your dream or stay stuck in a nightmare.

Les Brown said, “The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled.” Will you take your biggest and best asset to the grave with you?

Are you staying with a job because you have family responsibilities? Are you not stretching towards your dream because you think you’re too old, too young, not the right gender, don’t have enough experience, blah, blah, blah?

You know what they say about excuses, right?

For the longest time, I wanted to be financially and geographically independent by helping people with their money. That’s making a long story short. However, one of my mental hurdles was thinking that I was too young. Who would listen to me in my 20s? Who would listen to me in my 30s? Even when I started this venture, I wondered who would listen to me in my 40s?

When I started doing what I wanted, I began networking with others who were doing the same. Many of them were younger than me. Because I’m a master of self-doubt, I started to think I’m too old. If I listened to my internal dialogue, I had one year in which I was the optimal age to do what I wanted to do.

Mel Robbins says we’d be committed to an institution if other people could hear our internal dialogue. So, I stopped listening to my fears and insecurities and started listening to my faith and possibilities. While nothing is inevitable, I’m happier than ever and can’t wait to wake up every day to continue working on my dream.

If you aren’t excited to wake up more days than not, is it because you’re living a nightmare? If you’re living a nightmare or even a drama, what value are you getting from it?

Don’t love the one you’re with, rather be with the one you love.

“Love the One You’re With” is a badass tune, but it’s bad advice. There’s a good chance we get one life and, as we’ve learned over the last couple of decades, we can have full and happy lives alone. We don’t need someone else to make us happy and, if we think we do, there’s a problem.

If we “need” someone in our lives to make us happy, then we have more needs than love. Plus, it’s not fair to put that kind of responsibility on someone.

Only when we can love ourselves fully, completely alone, and for who we are can we receive true love. It feels unfair, but it’s true, and any relationship we stay in because we need to will be mediocre at best and, in economic terms, that’s stagnation.

Our resources are limited. We only have so much time. We only have so much energy. We can only give so much without getting something in return. What is your ROI in every area of your life and how can you get a better return?

When you figure out that formula, you’ll have more abundance than you thought possible.

We would love to hear your thoughts about your personal ROI in the #Adulting Facebook community! Hope to see you there!

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A promotion. More money. All your problems are over, right? Actually … No. Depending on how you treat money, your next promotion could actually make you poor.

It’s tough for many of us to accept, but for most of us, our financial security is not contingent on how much money we earn.

It’s not about how much money comes in but how much money goes out. For most of us, our lifestyle increases with increases in our income – and even increases in our available credit.

When you tie those increases in income to increases in spending, pretty soon you have this problem: Could a promotion make you poor?

Learn from others’ wins and losses.

How many celebrities and athletes who earn millions of dollars a year have we heard have gotten into financial trouble?

From MC Hammer to Johnny Depp to Lenny Dykstra to Marion Jones, the world is full of millionaire income earners with no money in their bank accounts. A couple of years ago, it was reported that about 80% of retired NFL players go broke.

On the other end of the spectrum, Oseola McCarty, a former washerwoman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi bequeathed her $150,000 fortune to the University of Southern Mississippi. At the time, she was its most famous benefactor. That $150,000 in 1999 would equal $220,957 today.

To be sure, $150,000 or even $220,957 isn’t millions of dollars. But considering McCarty’s low-wage paying job and the fact that 47% of Americans today can’t come up with $400 cash, that’s a solid amount of savings.

Likewise, consider Ronald Read, a former gas station employee and janitor. When Read died at 92 in 2014, he was worth an estimated $8 million. Read was an avid and consistent investor and lived frugally, way more frugally than I ever would. But he’s another example that it’s not about how much money you earn. It’s what you do with the money you make.

With your next raise or promotion, will you do better than McCarty or Read?

Know if you’re on a cycle of rinse, recycle, repeat.

Most of us go about making a living instead of making a life.

We go to school to get the best job we can to make the most money we can and then, for any number of reasons, spend all the money we can and then spend more money than we have. Despite each promotion and each raise, we eventually find ourselves living beyond our means.

Today we finance our phones, our music, our education, our homes, our vacations, our everything. The problem is that a growing number or economists are becoming convinced that prosperity is contingent on our property rights.

Property rights usually relate to law. However, it’s logical to conclude that if we give up our property rights by financing from the cradle to the grave everything we would otherwise own, our affluence will suffer the same negative consequence as if we had no legal rights to ownership.

If everything from music to television to mortgages to education is on a small, affordable monthly payment, when do we stop making payments and start amassing wealth? What do we pass to our heirs for our family’s long-term financial security?

Jim Rohn said, “Once in a while, somebody says to me, ‘Boy, if I had a million dollars, I’d never work another day in my life.’” He goes on to say, “That’s probably why the good lord sees to it they don’t get their millions.”

With your next raise or promotion, how long will it be until you’re back in the same financial position?

Know why you should do well.

I read and listen to a bunch of personal finance information, and it astounds me how I keep returning to the same conclusion. Financial success, even life, personal, career – any success – is contingent on your purpose or your ‘why.’

As I’ve shared here, my husband and I amassed $51,000 worth of credit card debt – despite knowing better and notwithstanding the fact that we could do better.

At the time (and like many people today), we were unsatisfied with many aspects of our lives. It’s important to acknowledge that our economy is designed to keep us feeling unsatisfied.

Television, the internet, Facebook, movies, magazines and everything else tells us that we need more of this, that, and the other thing to feel happy, feel good, be liked, or be like someone else. When everyone in the neighborhood is drinking this Kool-Aid, it’s hard not to take a sip.

For this reason, the best thing we did to turn our financial situation around was to decide what we most want and not what we think we should want or what others want for us.

When we realized our most important goals, everything came into perspective, and we could manage our financial lives accordingly. It’s because we know our purpose that we’ve turned our $51,000 deficit into a $700,000 surplus and now work for ourselves.

Learn how you can do better, even without a raise or promotion.

How do you figure out your most important goals? For us, we did a lot of personal reflection and had lengthy discussions about what we most want in life. Everything we said was put on the witness stand and cross-examined until our purpose came down to three things. For you, it may be more or less, but if it’s too much, it’s too broad.

Next, we assessed what it was that was blocking us from our primary goals. Everything from not paying attention to our cash flow to being insecure came up.

Finally, we decided what it was we were willing to do to overcome those blockers. This step helped us determine how committed we were to change our situation and lay the foundation for a strategy.

Just as climbing the corporate ladder won’t solve all your problems, your next promotion or raise won’t make you rich. In fact, your next promotion might make you poor. What happens when you get a raise or promotion and you spend right up to it? What happens when you have a vision of the things you “should” have with your fancy new job title?

It’s easy to get caught up and overspend because we have the idea that’s what you do when you get a promotion. But that thinking just puts you back where you were – or even makes things worse financially.

When we realize that it’s not external factors or our circumstances that dictate our success, but our choices and behaviors, that can be better than any promotion.

Like what you’ve read?

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