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.

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Small-town life may seem boring, but the reality is that you might be able to live larger. Lower living costs = more money to spend on life.

Like Dorothy and that rainbow, younger people often chase their dreams in the big cities. There’s much to see, do, and gain in major cities, but there can be downsides. Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Ditching small-town life.

That was the case for me. Having spent the first half of my childhood near a big city and the latter half in a small town in a land far, far away, I couldn’t wait to get far, far away myself!

As a young gay man, I thought I’d wind up in San Francisco –  with the Rice-A-Roni and all. But a friend of mine and I moved to Denver, Colorado in the late 90s instead. It wasn’t Philadelphia, PA, but it wasn’t Lebanon, PA, either. I was supposed to live here for two years, soak up the snowboarding, and then move onto “bigger and better” things.

But, I met a boy, and that’s a whole other story.

With about 549,000 people in Denver proper in 1999, Denver was big enough, but not too big. There was lots to do. Nightlife and dining scenes and all the great outdoors. It wasn’t yet expensive. Our first apartment cost less than $800 a month for about 1,000 square feet.

Denver has seen a population boom in the last decade, with a relatively consistent growth rate over 2%. That same 1,0000 square foot apartment now goes for about $1,800 a month. We’re no New York City, but the consequences of growth are evident.

A big city can mean empty pockets.

It is desirable to live in a city with half-a-dozen things to do all seven nights of the week with millions of people looking for the same; you may be surprised at how expensive it can be living in such cities. Here are the costs of living in premier locations, based on PayScale data:

  • New York – cost of living is 118% above average; housing is 341% above average
  • Los Angeles – cost of living is 32% above average; housing is 102% above average
  • San Francisco – cost of living is 63% above average; housing is 198% above average
  • Chicago – cost of living is 17% above average; housing is 38% above average
  • Seattle – cost of living is 24% above average; housing is 57% above average

All of those cities have a lot to offer, but at what cost?

More jobs are going to smaller cities.

With the combination with the dotcom bust, the 2008 housing crisis, and ever-increasing taxes in the above cities, more businesses are transferring some or all of their operations out of the bigger cities. This migration is called ex-urbanization.

Housing tends to be more affordable in second- and third-tier cities, like Denver, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte. Such cities offer a diverse pool of talent that isn’t isolated to bigger cities.

In many cases, the quality of life outside of work is appealing to many industries’ best and brightest. Denver and Salt Lake City offer skiing and snowboarding to give you your weekend adrenaline rush. Portland has amazing microbreweries to wind down your work week. Charlotte has a unique and vibrant foodie scene for those of us that love to love food. Richmond is a perfect place for runners and kayakers.

Businesses know that happy employees make for happy businesses. If employees have a high quality of life outside of work (and not just the Colorado kind), they’ll give their all at work.

Smaller cities allow for geographic arbitrage.

With the growing gig economy and online entrepreneurs, more people can now live and work from anywhere. One can charge big city prices and live on a little city budget. A virtual assistant who resides in Kansas City can charge a client who lives in Chicago Chicago-based fees. Or, they can offer competitive fees that a virtual assistant who resides in Chicago can’t.

Geographic arbitrage isn’t just a benefit for virtual assistants, virtually any online freelancing or IT job, and many contractors and consultants, can thrive off of charging big city prices with little city expenses.

If climbing the corporate ladder is more your style, get a job in a big city and then transfer within that company to a smaller city. Most companies will keep you at the same salary even though your cost of living will likely drop. I’ve seen many Denver friends leave for a few years and return, taking advantage of just this strategy.

Smaller cities can mean bigger pockets.

By and large, smaller cities come with lower living expenses. This is a big deal for things like saving money for retirement, owning your own home, and putting children through college. These financial goals are all easier to achieve with a lifetime of lower costs.

A personal, favorite perk of living in a smaller city, especially one centrally located in the country, is that we can quickly hop on a plane and get to any coast within less than five hours and many within three hours. So while I never moved to San Francisco, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there because it’s cheap and easy to head that way.

Before you hop a jet plane over the rainbow to some major city far, far away, open your mind to second or third-tier cities elsewhere in the country. The costs may be more agreeable and open you up to a lifetime of bigger living. With transportation getting better and the internet making the world smaller, your opportunities may be greater.

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Yeah, it’s crazy to get up at 4:35 am. But it can work. You might be surprised at how much you can get down with just a couple extra hours in the morning.

Dear ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm,’
The early worm gets eaten.
Sincerely, Sleeping In

My husband posted on Facebook the other day about some successes we’ve had recently. In posting his gratitude, he acknowledged that our rewards justified waking up at 4:35 a.m. most days of the week.

The point on which most people fixated was not the successes but his admission that we wake up so damn early.

You don’t need to wake up early to be successful. Legendary night owls include Leonardo Da Vinci and Bob Dylan.

For us, though, it works to wake up early. Someone asked why, on earth, we do this. So, here you go.

We’re in control of how our days start.

We began this hairy scary schedule when we were both employed by a W-2 and decided we wanted to start a business. Between the commute and the workday, we were always preoccupied from what we really wanted to do. The only way to squeeze more time into the day was to wake up early.

To be sure, we could’ve stayed up later, but by the time we were done with the bullshit of a day’s worth of work for someone else, we simply wanted a bottle of wine, dark chocolate, and Netflix. We don’t crave mimosas until 10 am, so even on weekends waking up at 4:35 gave us five and a half hours’ worth of work.

We’re in sync with New York City.

Both of our careers have been in financial service. We were both traders once and our personal business is personal finance. It’s not a big deal, but for us, we feel like we miss the day if we wake up two or three hours after the stock market does.

Plus, more than half the country is in the eastern time zone and it feels easier to sync up with them.

Idle hands and all.

Waking early means we have more work hours available to us because we have fewer play hours. Knowing that the alarm will go off early tomorrow ensures better decisions early tonight.

We typically eat less junk food and dessert at night. That way, we fall asleep more quickly and we won’t have a glass or two of wine.

On the flip side, we’re not above partying until the wee hours of the morning. When we did, though, we were less productive. Sticking with an early wake-up call helps us avoid the late-night bender.

We have time to take care of ourselves.

Now that our side gig became my main gig and my main man still works for The Man, we don’t wake up at 4:35 am anymore to work. We wake up at 4:30 am to workout.

Working out and staying in shape is important to us. Even just working one full-time job makes working out hard. Add to that more work and our brains can easily talk us out of hitting the gym.

Plus, see above our evening craving for wine, chocolate, and Netflix. Working out towards the end of the day would require a violation of physical law.

We have time to take care of our spirits.

We didn’t fully integrate this practice, too, until I quit my W-2 and we had more bandwidth. Until then, this was a weekend luxury. Now, this is a daily practice before the sun rises in most parts of the United States.

While we’re the most refreshed and rejuvenated, we do our morning ritual of meditation, journaling, and affirmations. Busting these out first thing in the morning ensures that we do them and we feel all the better for it. If we waited until later in the day, we’d skip them.

Now, when we wake up, they’re the very first things we do. So, even while we’re waking, we’re getting ready for our daily practice that keeps us centered and grounded throughout the day.

We avoid the crowds.

Especially when we were both working a W-2, being efficient with our time was a necessity. Only a few crazies are at the gym before 5:30 am. We happily admit we’re two of them.

We’re at the gym when fewer people are, and we bust out a duo superset of weights and cardio all within an hour. We leave before most people arrive. And, my husband still has time to get to work, which is the other benefit.

Rush hour traffic where we live anyway starts about 7 am. If the husband can get on the road by 6:45, he misses most or all the traffic to start his workday early and end his work day earlier.

Our best sleep is the sleep we get before midnight.

Studies show the sleep we get before midnight is more valuable than the sleep we get after midnight.

As we get older, this seems truer. Therefore, we strive to have “heads on pillows” by 9 pm. It doesn’t always happen and whether it does or it doesn’t we can tell the next day.

Everyone else is doing it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

However, many successful people do it. An amazing boss of mine said to me once, “Find out what successful people do and do that.”

There are many people, such as the Da Vincis and Dylans of the world who rock it late at night. They seem to follow in the sleep cycle of the more creative types.

There’s certainly a strain of creativity in what we do for our side business, but there’s a lot of business, as well as critical and strategic thinking required. For this reason, we’ll follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Obama and Richard Branson.

For us for now, the early schedule works. Very soon the S.O. will quit his J.O.B. (just over broke). After that, we may wake up later, like 5:30 am.

Or, maybe not.

If it’s ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

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Looking for more quality time with your S.O.? Start a business together. Just make sure you’re really cut out for a shared business.

Many moons ago, actually 495 moons ago, my husband and I decided that we were done with our W-2s.

We were tired of working for someone else, seeking other people’s seemingly impossible approval, and letting someone else dictate our income and quality of life. So, we started our own business and haven’t looked back.

If you’re thinking of working with your life partner or spouse, you may want to know that it’s pretty awesome. It’s not just me who thinks that, as you’ll see. Others think it, as well. Here are some of the myriad of reasons to work with your partner.

You can spend more time together.

I’ll start with the most nauseous reason first. The first and primary reason we started a business together is because we want to spend more time together. We happen to like each other, so, why not spend more time together?

With traveling to and from work, preparing for work, working and sleeping, we were only seeing each other a few hours a day. We were living for the weekends, but the weekends were too infrequent and too short. So, we made an employment change.

Plus, rather than text each other all day from separate locations, we can now just look up across the table.

Masterminding.

There’s something special about growing something special with your best friend. This is usually why couples make babies. Growing a business isn’t too unlike raising children. They both take patience, perseverance, creativity, money, and love.

Holly Porter Johnson of the ClubThrifty.com says, “Working with your partner is awesome because you get to dream together! I love coming up with new ideas and bringing them to fruition with my husband by my side. There is no greater joy than growing something together and becoming successful as a team.”

We couldn’t agree more. Working with your life partner is a great way to boost all your ideas and make the most of life and business.

Dividing and conquering.

Even though it’s your own business, you still often must meet the expectations of others. Sometimes those expectations come with deadlines and sometimes they come with demands. In these circumstances, we divide and conquer.

Mrs. Frugalwoods of Frugalwoods.com says, “By dividing and conquering—and focusing on our individual strengths—as partners (in love and money), we excel at creating genuine, relatable content that not only expands our brands, but also deepens our relationship.”

We both understand our business and both have a vested interest in its success. Either of us can take the helm when necessary and we work well together the rest of the time. This makes for happier clients, better service, and a stronger bond.

Motivate each other.

Building a business is hard, but it’s easier when you build one with someone else. Getting out of bed is hard, but it’s easier to get out of bed when the person next to you is getting out of bed, too.

There are times when you just don’t wanna. Usually, we don’t have that feeling at the same time. So, when one needs a pick-me-up, the other’s there and vice versa. When it’s hard to see the bright side, the other is there to shine the light.

Working with your life partner is great when you have built-in support.

Complement each other.

There are some things he’s good at doing and there are other things I’m good at doing. This, like dividing and conquering, let’s us take advantage of each of our strengths.

Personally, my husband is great with coming up with a million good ideas. He fails on the execution of those ideas. I struggle with ideas and am good with execution.

Likewise, he’s good with technology and I’m good with words. So, with the foundation of our business being an online blog, he keeps the lights on and I keep them coming back for more.

Save cost-of-working costs.

The reason many families have multiple cars is because each family member has a different job. That’s more cars, more gas and more car insurance. When you’re a home-based business of two that shares a bed, you really only need one car.

Working with your life partner cuts down on other costs, too.

Aside from our public speaking, most of our business is behind a laptop. Therefore, we don’t need as many “work clothes,” packed lunches, and Tupperware or contracted services such as a cleaning person or personal chef. We had a personal chef for a year while we were building out business and both working a W-2.

Now we have the time to take care of these things.

Lunch dates.

Even though fewer people do work lunches anymore, some business partners have the occasional lunch date. When you work with your partner, every lunch (and breakfast and dinner) is a true-blue lunch date.

Usually, we eat lunch while we watch an inspirational talk or video on YouTube, but it’s more special watching these with your someone special than watching them alone. Likewise, when we’re inspired we have someone with whom to be inspired.

Not only are these lunch dates good quality time, but they’re also a relaxing time to brainstorm solutions to struggles we’re having. As Mrs. 1500 of 1500Days.com says, “The Mister and I have a pretty solid relationship. He’s my best friend, and I know that he has my back with anything. That part’s really important.”

If you’re considering working with your life partner, know that it’s a work relationship that can work.

It may not be for everyone, but the from the other co-working couples we know and our own personal experience, it’s pretty lit.

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Oops. There goes another failed relationship. It doesn’t have to be this way. Get out of your rut and take your next relationship to the next level.

Are you thirty-something and single, wondering when you’ll be married with children?

Is your life a broken record, repeating the same cracked relationship over and over and over and over?

Some people get stuck in a vortex of relationship sabotage. If this is you, how can you identify the problem and correct it? Here’s what may be keeping you from that happily ever after.

Here’s what may be keeping you from that happily ever after — and what you can do to fix it.

You make it all about you.

As a gay man, the idea of being treated like a queen sounds fantastic in theory. Our

Our kings need attention, too, though. We love it when he brings home flowers and when he opens the door to lets us in first. But, without reciprocation, after a while, he’ll feel like a chauffeur and not a partner.

On the flipside, gentlemen, your lady friend may relish taking care of you, but if you act like you’re the only one at home, soon you’ll be home alone.

If you make it all about you being treated like royalty, you’re sabotaging your relationship.

A healthy relationship is a relationship of equals. At any one time, it’s never 50/50, but we should seek an average of making it as much about them as it is about us. Once you focus on your partner as much as you focus on you, things will improve.

Your ego is more important than peace to you.

If you’re more concerned about having your way than having peace, you’ll eventually have neither.

Our egos seek to be right. The desire to be right is at the heart of most wars, big and small. Our higher selves want peace. A priority of peace is the core of everlasting love. Thus, the age-old adage of never going to bed angry with your lover.

Practice leaving your ego at the door. Seek peace in your relationship and focus on the good in your partner.

You’re guarded.

Relationships require intimacy. Otherwise, they’re friendships. If you’re don’t let your partner connect with the deeper you, the relationship will stay superficial and then become unofficial.

If you want someone to be with you through the thick and thin, you must be brave enough to let them see the good and bad. If opening up your deeper self seems too scary, let sharing that be your first step in opening up.

You don’t value yourself.

It’s impossible for us to let others love us when we don’t love ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves, we’ll never trust the love we receive from others. We’ll either be cynical or skeptical of the love we’re receiving.

It seems strange to think that lack of self-love is sabotaging your relationship, but it could be.

If you don’t love yourself, any relationship you pursue will be an exercise in futility. Take time to work on you rather than becoming part of two. When you find the love inside that you seek from the outside, you’ll find better love than you ever imagined.

You become your partner.

Assuming your current S.O.’s likes and dislikes, interests and disinterests, is a byproduct of not valuing yourself.

As outsiders, we’ve all seen the person who changes as often as they change relationships. It can be hard to see this in ourselves because we so desperately want our current relationship to work. But, if we can’t be ourselves or don’t know who we are, we’ll eventually hit a point of unhappiness.

Plus, in healthy relationships, you don’t want a clone. It gets boring. You’re sabotaging your relationship if you try to be just like your partner. You love each other for the spice and the differences. Figure out you, and don’t be afraid to do things without each other sometimes.

Your actions don’t match your words.

Sometimes we think we want a relationship because that’s what we believe we should want. Our culture is obsessed with love and marriage. This obsession is why nearly every song is about one love, and every television show eventually has a wedding.

If you’re a single woman in your thirties, people wonder what’s wrong with you. If you’re a single man in your forties, people assume you’re gay. There’s nothing wrong with being single and thirty or forty or fifty and many people live lives of happiness as a solo.

If you’re in a relationship because you feel compelled to be, your words may say something, and your actions will say another. Eventually, your partner will catch on, and one or both of you will let go.

Figure out what it is you want and then live your life accordingly. Both you and your current partner will be happier.

You keep your partner guessing.

Being coy or playing cat and mouse may add to the excitement at the beginning of a relationship, but eventually, even cats get tired. If your partner isn’t sure where they stand from day to day or sleep from night to night, they’ll eventually seek more certainty even if it means being certainly alone.

Either know when to move your relationship from the romance phase towards the stability phase or figure out what it is you truly want and then live your life accordingly (see above).

You have unrealistic expectations.

If your expectations of your partner set them up for failure, your partner will fail. All successful relationships must enter the “get real” phase, and we should want this.

Getting to get real is the phase when we can each be our authentic selves. When we’re our authentic selves, we can gain the validation we all seek. Because, whether we admit it or not, we all want someone to say, “You’re perfect just the way you are.”

Whether you’ve sabotaged one or multiple relationships, the cycle will likely continue until to you do some introspection and change your thinking and behaviors. Until you change internally, nothing will change externally.

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