Social media is a great way to land a job. But you’ll be empty-handed if you don’t know what you’re doing. Learn to how to make social media work for you.

During one of my previous job hunts, I found a gig that seemed pretty much perfect. They were located in a great area, offered a competitive salary and benefits package, and seemed like a fun place to work. The only problem was their complete and utter lack of interest in me.

The only problem was their complete and utter lack of interest in me.

I tailored my resume for days, poured my heart into a cover letter, and had a nice phone conversation with the hiring manager, but after a few weeks I realized they weren’t biting. I needed to try something else before the opening was filled.

So rather than pining away for a callback, I got proactive. I did some deep diving on LinkedIn and Facebook, found an alumnus from my alma mater who had worked at the company several years before and asked them out for coffee. We talked about college, our careers and eventually, the position I was seeking. They promised to call the CEO that afternoon and put in a good word for me.

The next day, they called me in for an interview. The day after that, I received a job offer.

The job market in 2017 rewards those who can navigate their way around a news feed. Social media has complicated job hunting, but it’s also opened up a wide world of possibilities for those bold enough to embrace its utility. Here are some ways you can harness that potential.

Reach out to people.

Before social media, you could only contact someone if you had their phone number or email address. Now with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can find almost anyone you’re looking for.

Instead of issuing a blanket statement on Facebook that you’re looking for a new gig (where your current boss might see), reach out to people individually. If possible, ask them for a specific favor, such as introducing you to their friend who works for your dream company. Think of it like planning a party – inviting people to a Facebook event won’t get people to come out, but sending individual texts will.

Create job alerts.

LinkedIn is the premier social media network for landing a job, but only if you’re strategic about it. When I was job hunting, I would create a LinkedIn search alert for journalism, marketing or PR jobs in Indianapolis. Every morning, LinkedIn would send me an email notification with any new jobs that matched my search terms.

Usually, I’d get results for jobs I wasn’t qualified for or interested in, but every week or so I’d find something perfect. Job hunting is a game of numbers, so be prepared to scour through hundreds of jobs to find one you actually like.

Become a subject matter expert.

A few months after graduating from college, I attended an alumni mixer at my journalism school. I was still unemployed and desperate to get job advice from the newspaper and broadcast veterans. When I asked one lady for her best job-hunting tips, she told me to start blogging about my passion. She said I could use that as a way to set myself apart from the other applicants.

I dismissed her advice. “Who has time to start a blog,” I thought to myself. I was certain it would be a self-indulgent waste of time.

But she was right. Starting and maintaining a blog proves that you have commitment and dedication to your work. It was because of my blog that I launched my career as a freelance writer.

If you don’t have the inclination to start your own blog, at least use social media platforms to prove your subject matter expertise.

Post articles on Twitter and LinkedIn that are relevant to your industry and comment on them. Showing that you care about your trade will make you more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers when they inevitably look you up on social media.

Nowadays, I use Twitter to post about personal finance and freelance writing. I don’t know if my editors and clients look at it before they hire me, but I hope they do. I’m proud of my social media game.

How social media can hurt your prospects.

During my last 9-5 job, my boss asked me to help him find my replacement. After I scanned over their resumes, I would look up candidates on social media to gauge what kind of people they were.

Most of the time I’d find nothing out of the ordinary – brunching with friends, traveling to Europe, spending time with family, etc. – but sometimes I’d find a profile gushing over their love of smoking weed or recent photos of binge drinking.

It’s not that I judge people for drinking or using drugs, but I do judge their decision-making skills when I see them publicly posting about private affairs. If I see that you liked a post about hot college girls on Spring Break, I’m probably going to judge you.

Ask your most old-fashioned friend to look through your accounts. If they find something that makes them uncomfortable, you should either take it down or make it private. It may hurt to censor yourself, but there’s a time and a place to exercise your free speech – job hunting isn’t it.

Has social media ever helped you land a job? Do you have any social media tips that could be helpful. Share with us in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Friendships are work. Just because you’re adulting hard doesn’t mean you have to let them slip away.

When you’re going through high school and college, the idea of drifting apart from your closest friends seems impossible. When you share a bond so strong, how could living in different cities or working opposite schedules get in the way?

Flash forward to your mid-20s, and you haven’t talked to any of them in months. Maybe you don’t even have their numbers.

After I graduated college, I learned the hard way that friendship is like a garden – if you don’t water it consistently, the vines will wither and die. Busy with work and high on my new career, I gradually started losing contact with the people who once meant the most to me. I assumed it would be easy to make new friendships, just like it was in college – how wrong I was.

Thankfully, I was able to turn things around before I lost my friends completely, but others aren’t so lucky. There are twenty-somethings all over the country pining for their old buddies, wondering where it all went wrong. If you don’t want to become one of them, read ahead to find out how.

Create a schedule.

My friend Leslie told me about how she would go weeks without talking to her sister, and how sad it made her. Every time she’d call, her sister would be busy and vice versa. Sick of playing phone tag, they created a schedule where every Sunday at 2 p.m., they call each other and catch up on an episode of their favorite show, usually “Pretty Little Liars” or “Chopped.”

Leslie said that since they created a schedule, they haven’t missed a phone call unless one of them has been on vacation. I love the idea of creating a regular phone date at the same time every month.

For this system to work, each person has to promise to be available during the agreed time and not cancel when life gets busy. You can’t flake out just because you’re tired or your boyfriend really wants to watch a movie – once you miss an appointment for flimsy reasons, it’s going to be easier to skip out from that point on.

Keep it simple.

A couple weeks ago, my college friends and I took a four-day trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed in a rustic cabin outside of town and planned to spend our time kayaking, paddleboarding and hiking – almost none of which we actually did.

Why? We spent most of the time talking to each other, drinking homemade cocktails and staying up late playing Taboo. I had as much fun with them singing along to the Spice Girls in the car as I did exploring downtown Asheville.

If you’re struggling to make time for your friends, you might be overthinking it. Don’t try to plan an amazing Friday night, ask them over to watch “30 Rock” or play a board game instead. You don’t have to plan a dinner party or make reservations at the newest bar to have a good time.

Run errands together.

When I still lived in the same city as one of my best friends, we would often do the most mundane tasks together, like go grocery shopping or return clothes we’d bought online.

It’s not that we didn’t want to do something more exciting, but I was very frugal at the time and didn’t have extra money to spend on movies, concerts or going out. Instead, we’d go to Costco, get a hot dog for $1 and then buy whatever was on our list. Even though we were spending our Saturdays at a warehouse club, we still had fun.

If you’re pressed for time, don’t choose between your friends and your responsibilities. Combine them instead. Who knows, your friend might also need to buy moisturizer at Sephora or a new blazer at the mall.

You can even do this if you’re on a call with someone. For example, I love talking on the phone while I’m out walking the dogs or cleaning up around the house. It doesn’t take any extra mental capacity, and I’m not shirking my responsibilities.

That’s why I would always call my mom when I was driving home from work. I didn’t have anything else I needed to do at the same time, and it always made me feel better.

Take advantage of technology.

My best friends and I are separated by multiple states and we only see each other a couple times a year. To bridge the gap, I try to send them articles I think they’ll like or comment on their Facebook photos. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, especially if you’re far away.

Since I’ve started texting my friends more, I’ve felt more connected to a part of my life that ended when I graduated from college. I feel happier when I get a text from a friend, even if it’s as simple as an inside joke or a recommendation for acne cleanser.

Send snail mail.

You can also send letters and cards for birthdays and random events. It’s cheap, but it’s so fun to get real mail from your friends.

What are some of the ways you make time for friends? Have you adjusted relationships due to distance or schedules? Tell us about it over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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No cash? No problem! Fun and romance can happen without spending your whole paycheck, and may even be better for it.

My husband and I are no strangers to broke dates. We started seeing each other while interning abroad on shoestring budgets and continued to be dirt poor throughout college. Eventually, we graduated and started making decent money, but we still consider ourselves connoisseurs of the reduced-cost rendezvous.

The thing is, there’s no reason why a date needs to be pricey. In fact, those of us looking for a frugal partner may actually want to find someone who can have fun without dropping a week’s salary in the process. There are so many options for a cheap rendezvous, you can even suggest one without mentioning that you’re trying to save some money.

Here are some of the best options for dating on the cheap, pulled from my experience as a dead broke, love-struck twentysomething.

Take advantage of free admission.

Almost every local museum, zoo or other attraction has multiple free days during the year when anyone can visit for no cost. My local botanic gardens offer free admission once a quarter, while the zoo has them once a month.

Free days are usually packed with people, so it won’t be a very intimate experience – but it’s a great compromise for broke couples trying to have a little fun. Heavy crowds can also be a great opportunity for people watching.

You can find when attractions are free by searching “free admission [insert city here]” or subscribing to newsletters related to local events. Newspapers usually have an entertainment section where they list event details, and even your city’s Reddit forum will have information on when attractions are free or heavily discounted.

Get outdoors.

What better way to spend a few hours with someone special than by exploring the great outdoors? Find the best local hikes near you and pack a few snacks, water bottles, and sunscreen. You probably won’t have to pay a dime, except for the cost of gas.

Hiking not your thing? Grab a pair of old roller blades and find some quiet side streets, or take your bikes out for a ride. Being active together is always more fun than a traditional dinner-and-a-movie date, and is usually free or absurdly cheap.

It’s well known that exercising and being outdoors releases endorphins and promotes a happier mindset – perfect for a date.

If you’re not the adventurous type or don’t live near any decent hiking spots, hit up the best parks nearby or take a walk through an interesting part of town. When I first started dating my husband, we’d spend date nights taking walks around the neighborhood. Granted, we were studying abroad in London at the time so walking aimlessly was still romantic and exciting.

We didn’t have much money, but I cherished our walks, even if we covered the same ground every time.

Go to trivia events.

I’m a huge fan of going to trivia nights at my local bar. It’s one of my favorite things to do with friends, and it’s way cheaper than you might think. Trivia events usually last a couple hours, and you can order as much or as little food and drinks as you want.

Trivia on a date is fun because it’s interactive and doesn’t require you to answer repetitive questions like “where are you from?” and “how many siblings do you have?”. You’ll learn so much about the other person, like why they know Selena Gomez’s birthday or how they can list all the Star Trek captains in alphabetical order.

I always eat dinner at home before going to trivia and only order a small appetizer when I’m there, spending around $5 each time. You can find a trivia event no matter where you live or what your schedule is. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse for your friends to meet the person you’re seeing.

Cook together.

One of the most memorable dates my husband and I ever had was when we decided to make lasagna on Valentine’s Day. Neither of us had ever cooked lasagna before, but we thought it would be fun to save money and do something together.

It was a disaster. Cooking lasagna is an intense process, both in cooking and cleaning up afterward. We made enough lasagna to last the two of us for a week, after which we decided to never make it again.

But we had a blast, and I still recommend cooking together as a fun date for broke couples. Pick a recipe you’ve never tried, preferably something new or challenging like Thai Curry or a chocolate soufflé.

The point is to get you both out of your comfort zones, trying new things and embracing the challenge together. If the dish doesn’t turn out well, you’ll have a fun story to share with friends and family.

Make the shopping more exciting by visiting a local farmer’s market or ethnic grocery store together. It won’t be as easy or convenient as grabbing take-out or ordering a pizza, but you’ll have more fun and learn a new skill at the same time.

If you have any other great date ideas that won’t break the bank, let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community. See you there!

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Suffering from renter’s guilt? People making you feel less adult for not buying a house? Dude… please. See why you’re probably better off.

When it comes to the game of adulting, buying a home is often seen as the final challenge. It’s easy to think that once you own a home, your peers will admire you, your parents will respect you, and the Adult Club certificate will arrive in the mail shortly after.

Maybe buying a home was the final step to becoming a true adult at one time, but things have changed. The barrier to entry is much higher, with rising home costs, stagnating salaries and a general frustration with the intense home buying process.

If you have no interest in owning a home, you’re not alone: according to a recent survey from Experian, consumers who aren’t planning to purchase a home in the next 5-10 years have increased by 8% in the last year.

The truth is, buying a house just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s why.

It’s time-intensive.

Owning a home isn’t just a financial decision. It’s also a question of how you want to spend your time. Do you want to devote your weekends to picking tile patterns, installing a new garbage disposal or fixing the broken toilet?

You might think it’s a joke that all homeowners spend their free time fixing something around the house, but those stereotypes exist for a reason.

When my pipes get clogged or the gutters get full, I don’t have to worry about taking care of them. I call my landlord, who fixes the problem himself or hires someone else to do it. I don’t have to decide if I want to replace the pipes now or wait a few years.

It limits your options.

Most financial experts say you shouldn’t buy a house unless you’re willing to stay there for at least five years, since that’s how long it takes to see a profit on your investment. That’s partly why people equate buying a home with settling down and starting a family. It’s something you only do when you’re prepared to be somewhere for the long haul.

Owning a home and having a mortgage makes it harder to take a job across the country, to start your own business, or to travel the world. Buying a house doesn’t make sense if you’re the type who’s always dreamed of living abroad or being a digital nomad.

My then-boyfriend and I considered buying a home a few years ago, but now I’m glad we didn’t. Instead, we moved to Colorado where we’ve continued to rent. If we had owned a house, it would have been harder to quit our jobs and move across the country.

It can lead to financial ruin.

Most people assume that buying a home is a decision that every real adult makes when they can afford to. If you have a good job and decent salary, you can afford to buy a house. Many people say it’s the best investment you can make, but it can also be the worst.

Becoming a homeowner ties you to a property in a way that a lease doesn’t. If you’re a renter who needs to downsize, you can get out of your lease early, rent out a spare room, or list your place on Airbnb. Most leases are only a year long, and no one can force you to live there after your lease runs out.

A house is different. Until you find a buyer, you’re stuck with the mortgage, property taxes, and insurance payments. It took my parents four years to sell their house after the Great Recession because of declining home values and high unemployment rates. In the end, they sold the house at a $20,000 loss.

Buying a home isn’t always cheaper, even when the mortgage payment is less than what you’re currently paying for rent. For example, renters insurance is about $10-$15 a month, but homeowners insurance is closer to $60-$100 a month.

Utilities can also be more expensive, especially if your landlord pays for your heating, electric and water bills. If you dive in unprepared, those extra costs could leave you struggling to make mortgage payments and headed down the road to disaster.

What to do instead.

If you don’t want to buy a house now, but anticipate being a homeowner at some point, it’s still a good idea to start saving for a down payment. A basic mortgage requires a down payment between 3.5% and 5% of the asking price, and many experts recommend putting at least 20% down to avoid extra insurance fees.

Start by making automatic transfers to a separate savings account, as much or as little as you want. I wish I had done this years before I was ready to own a house so I’d already have a nice nest egg. Instead I’m saving aggressively, forced to cut expenses, and live on a shoestring budget.

If you decide to never buy a home, you can use that money for a vacation, another deposit into your retirement account, or a new car. You can even use the money to fund your rent indefinitely. If you do want to become a homeowner, you’ll already have a down payment, so it’s a win-win.

Have you decided to opt-out of the home buying experience? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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One person wants kids, the other doesn’t. It isn’t hopeless but it will take some work to get through it. Here are your options.

In relationships, it’s often our differences that bring us together. A creative type might be drawn to someone with a blue collar background and a handyman skill set. A hardcore fantasy fan might be intrigued by a nonfiction lover. Even Yankees and Red Sox fans have been known to get along.

But there’s one difference that hardly ever jives with a healthy relationship: whether or not you want kids.

The need to have children is so hardwired in some people, it can be hard for them to grasp why anyone would forego the chance to pass on their genes. People on the other side of the spectrum might have trouble understanding the allure of changing diapers or going days without sleep.

It’s a contentious issue – so why do people wait so long to bring it up?

If you’re currently in this situation, it’s time to take action. Here’s what you need to do.

Discuss the issue.

It’s easy to bury your head in the sand about this topic. After all, who wants to talk about something as complicated as having children when you could debate what you think will happen on the next “Game of Thrones” episode?

Unfortunately, this is the kind of potential problem that needs to be discussed as soon as possible. If you’re a woman who wants kids and are married to or in a relationship with someone who doesn’t, you can’t wait forever. Female fertility goes down significantly after 35 and the chance of genetic disorders and other problems also increases. If you’re approaching 30, you can’t just ignore the problem for a few years.

Try talking about the question of children together and see where you both stand. If your partner mentioned a few years ago that he wants kids, it’s entirely possible he’s changed his mind since then. If you talk about your priorities early and often, there’s little chance you’ll be blindsided by a change of heart.

Couples who have been together a long time should consider seeing a therapist. They can help flesh out the issue, offer some perspective and lay out the best options for moving forward. For example, are you really averse to having a child because you’re scared that your partner won’t help shoulder the burden? Even if you’re sure you know the reasons why you don’t want kids, it might be easier to discuss the issue with a professional

For example, are you really averse to having a child because you’re scared that your partner won’t help shoulder the burden? Even if you’re sure you know the reasons why you don’t want kids, it might be easier to discuss the issue with a professional present.

Talk about other options.

If breaking up is not something you want to do, there might be a few ways to compromise. For example, you could look into temporarily fostering a child to see if it fulfills your partner’s parental instinct. Fostering is an intense process and a new home can have a permanent affect on a child, but placements are temporary and can let you both see what it’s like to be parents without making a permanent decision.

Fostering is an intense process and a new home can have a permanent affect on a child, but placements are temporary and can let you both see what it’s like to be parents without making a permanent decision.

You could also consider adopting an older child, if you’d rather skip the diapers-and-midnight-feedings stage of parenting.  If you want to start really slowly, try babysitting for a friend or relative to see how it feels before you decide to foster or adopt a child.

You can also talk to people you know who have children and aren’t afraid to share how it really feels to be a parent. These options should not be taken lightly, especially not as a direct replacement for having your own child.

Too much of what we see on TV and in film romanticizes the act of parenting and doesn’t prepare people for what being a mother or father actually means. Plenty of people want kids right up until the point where they actually have them, so make sure you’ve put real thought into the decision. Becoming a parent should be a conscious act, not a product of biological urges.

Take action.

The easiest decision to make is to maintain the status quo. Our comfort zone is soft and cozy, and disrupting it comes with challenges. Unfortunately, if you’ve discussed having a child and haven’t agreed on a decision you and your partner will be happy with, it might be time to say goodbye.

Everyone deserves to try for the life they want, whether it’s filled with babies and diapers or exotic vacations and late nights out. That’s not to say you can’t go along with your partner’s wishes for the good of the relationship, but make sure it’s a decision you buy into.

Don’t lie to yourself or your spouse if you truly can’t see yourself having kids and being happy, or vice versa. The longer you wait to reveal the truth, the worse the break-up will be.

How to prevent this.

It’s always hard to find someone you like, only to break things off because of a difference in priorities. Still, it’s a lot easier to break up with someone three months into the relationship than three years. Even if you’re worried the question will scare away potential mates, consider how much easier it will be to break up before you’ve moved in, met his parents and adopted a pet together.

Bring up your child-free status whenever you feel comfortable, but do it sooner rather than later. It never feels like the perfect time to discuss a sticky subject, so be prepared to feel awkward no matter how you approach the conversation.

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Are you trying to improve and need answers? I mean real answers. Sometimes a wiki just won’t do. Here’s a list of the best books to help you out.

These days, most people look to the internet for all things explanatory, interesting, or otherwise worth knowing. If you want to learn something, there’s usually a resource just a click away.

But when you’re looking to improve as a person, oftentimes the answers provided by a Google search can seem too shallow. You need thorough examination, thoughtful analysis, and a guiding hand that doesn’t skimp on words. You need a real, honest-to-goodness book. Remember those?

Unfortunately, wading through the countless self-help books on the market is a lot harder than scrolling through a list of search results. Here are some of the best titles I’ve read, by some of the most respected names in personal improvement.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Rubin’s self-help book is so much more than any click-bait list you could find online. Of course, she includes the basics like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well – but she also offers some unique insights, such as seeking out the hobbies you enjoyed as a child.

In the book, Rubin realizes that she once loved children’s literature and Young Adult novels, but gave them up when she became a professional writer. In going back to what she loved in her youth, she reclaims a piece of her happiness she didn’t know was missing.

Rubin’s tips are less woo and more hard work. Waking up earlier to make her daughters a special Valentine’s Day breakfast is hard, but creating memories and traditions is a big part of her happiness. She gives you the tools to follow your own path to happiness, not anyone else’s.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

As a freelance writer, I’m always looking for the latest productivity hack. In The Power of Habit, I found a book that explains how to form the habits that I want and make them a part of my everyday life.

A New York Times reporter, Duhigg delves into how habits are created and how people can change the most dangerous and stubborn habits. He studies addicts who quit after decades of drinking or doing drugs to find the most effective methods and insights.

Duhigg explains that our entire life is based on habits. A series of habits turn into behavior, which becomes the foundation of our personal and professional relationships. Duhigg breaks down habits into their most basic forms and explains how successful people use habits to increase their efficiency and reach their goals.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I first heard about Glennon Doyle Melton a year ago, and I was intrigued by her brutal honesty. She doesn’t hesitate to write about her struggles with bulimia, alcohol and drugs. Even as a non-addict, I find myself relating to her desire to slip away from the world and everything that’s hurting her.

Love Warrior is the story of Melton’s life, starting with her struggles with bulimia in middle school and ending with the revelation that her husband had been cheating on her consistently throughout their marriage.

In the book, she describes how she learned to speak her truth and resolve her lingering body issues. Though I have nothing in common with the Florida-based mother of three, I find myself relating to her truth and wanting to live a more open life after finishing the book.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Liz Gilbert is most famous for Eat, Pray, Love, the 2006 smash hit where she chronicled her divorce and subsequent worldwide soul-searching journey.

But Gilbert’s best work might be her latest – Big Magic, a how-to guide for creative people struggling to fulfill their artistic endeavors. If you’re feeling uncertain about your painting or writing, Gilbert’s book can help you push through your mental blocks.

Some of the book is a little out there, but overall her message is solid. She believes in working on your art as a side project, so you aren’t relying on it for money, and finding what you’re passionate about – not necessarily what you’re good at it.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

I can distinctly remember the first time I read The Total Money Makeover. I was in high school and had already spent years listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio, driving in my mom’s car. I was familiar with Dave and his style, but “The Total Money Makeover” changed something deep inside me.

Dave uses real-life examples of struggling families to show how they can get out of debt, save for retirement, and stop worrying about money. His trademarked “Baby Steps” formula lays out easy steps that everyone can take.

There’s no wondering about which debt you should pay off first or if you should save for retirement before your child’s college education. This book is a foolproof system and anyone who follows it is guaranteed financial success.

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Are your retirement dreams bigger than your 401(k)? If you’re ready to retire, but your wallet isn’t, here are some ideas to get you on your way.

If you’re thinking about retirement, you’re probably ahead of the curve. Most Americans don’t have enough saved for their golden years, and a substantial amount have nothing saved at all. If a retirement fund is your nest egg, most people haven’t even started looking for a chicken!

If you want to retire early, you’re going to need to get creative. Living costs continue to rise, the future of social security is dubious at best, and most experts predict that millennials will struggle to retire on the same timeline as their baby boomer parents. It’s a harsh reality, but it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Here are a few practical ways to retire when you want – and one you probably haven’t thought of.

Keep a budget.

When your heart is set on early retirement, you need to hit those numbers consistently in order to reach your goal. If you stop contributing to your 401(k) for a few months to pay off some debt or go on vacation, you could miss your target retirement date.

Stay on track with a budget and designate how much you can spend per category. Not sure how much you should budget? Track your spending first to see what your current numbers are, then see if you need to make any changes.

“Once you’ve tracked your spending for a few months, you’ll be able to see spending patterns,” said anonymous early retirement blogger Mrs. 1500 of 1500 Days.

Earn more money.

When you decide to retire early, you’ll probably find that you have to save far more than the average person. Your two choices are to live below your means or find an additional source of income. Depending on how much you make and when you want to retire, even living below your means might not be enough.

Go through the math and see how much you need to save to reach your goal. Can you do that on your current income? Or will you need work more?

Mrs. 1500 said people should “get a second job, improve [their] current earnings, get a side hustle or use [their] funds to invest in passive-income producing ventures such as real estate, stocks that pay dividends, or Private Money Loans – essentially being the bank for investors.”

Know your number.

Being aware of how much you need to retire is crucial. Some people assume you need millions, while others think Social Security and Medicare will be enough to string them along. Both answers are probably wrong.

Everyone’s number is different and depends on their lifestyle, location and when they plan to retire. There are many retirement calculators online to help you figure out how much you need, but you should see a financial planner if you want a personalized figure.

Mrs. 1500 said you should save 25 times your annual spending “so that you can safely withdraw 4% every year.”

Downsize your home.

Housing costs make up the largest portion of the average consumer’s budget, and a hefty mortgage can delay retirement.

Instead of holding onto your home, find the least expensive option you’ll still be happy with. You might even have enough equity in your current house to pay off a new mortgage. Many retirees like the convenience of a condo where they’re not responsible for mowing the lawn or general maintenance.

A smaller house will also come with lower utilities, property taxes and more. Use the difference to save for retirement.

Move to a cheaper country.

Your nest egg might be too small for a retirement in America, but it could be just enough to spend your golden years overseas. Many South American and Asian countries offer a low cost of living and welcome American expats.

Joseph Hogue of Peer Finance 101 lives in Medellin, Colombia with his wife and son. Their total living expenses equal $1,400 a month – a sum far smaller than anywhere they could find in the US.

“That includes health insurance for a family of three, internet, cable and all the amenities we had when we lived in the States,” he said. “The city is the second largest in the country and has a metro system as well as everything you’d expect in a large metropolitan area.”

Other popular options include Belize, Thailand, the Philippines, and Nicaragua. In many of these destinations you can live on $1,000-$1,500 a month and get access to the same level of healthcare as you had back in the States. Many of these countries have significant expat communities where you can meet other Americans.

“Sometimes it can feel like you never left at all,” Hogue said.

Before you pack your bags, do some research on your chosen destination. Make an approximate budget and factor in flights back home, which may be pricey and exhausting.

Are you prepared for retirement? Do you have any other tips to get ready? Let us know over at the #Adulting Facebook community!

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Feeling like a stranger in a strange land? It can be hard to start over in a new city. But part of the fun is making new connections and finding a new crew.

When my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Denver a couple years ago, I left behind a solid core of friends that made up the bulk of my social life. I was sad to leave them, but confident I could do the same thing I’d done when changing schools as a child or moving out of state for college – maintain my old friendships and start some new ones.

While I had no problems staying in touch with my friends from Indiana, making new relationships was so much harder than I ever expected. Not only did I lack any kind of social base to start from, but I had just left an office job to start my career as a freelance writer. You don’t realize how important the workplace can be as a social tool until your only office mates are a husband and two dogs.

It took some time, but eventually, I was able to meet some great people and form lasting friendships. Here are some of the methods I tried, and how well they might work for you.

MeetUp.

MeetUp is one of the best tools to find new friends with similar interests, and almost every major city has an active MeetUp community.

MeetUp is a haven for groups based on every kind of interest imaginable. I’ve joined book clubs, art journal groups and card-game nights. Many of these have hundreds of members, so don’t expect to see the same faces every time. But if you attend the same event frequently enough, you’re bound to make some connections that stick.

Go to two or three events before you decide you don’t like a group. It can take time to get out of your comfort zone and feel at ease around total strangers, but since most MeetUp groups are based on a specific activity you’ll always have something in common.

Make sure to look at the age range of the groups you’re interested in. I once joined a movie MeetUp without realizing I was the youngest person there. I went a couple times, but ultimately decided I couldn’t make close friendships with people close to my parent’s age.

Bumble.

This tip is only for the ladies. The dating app, Bumble has a feature where women can look for other women to be friends with. When you download the app, choose the BFF setting when prompted. You’ll only see profiles of other women who want to find a new shopping buddy or movie companion.

Bumble starts by showing you a series of photos. Like many dating apps, you swipe right on the prospects you like and left on the ones you don’t. At first, I swiped right on almost everyone, but I quickly realized I wanted to be more selective.

Almost half of the girls I saw said they loved drinking wine and going to brunch – but doesn’t everyone? I decided to swipe left on anyone who had such a generic profile. I swiped right on girls who said they loved comic books, playing with their dog or reading detective novels. I wasn’t trying to be judgemental, but it’s easier to make a connection when you have something in common.

I met a couple cool girls through the app, but staying in touch on a long-term basis proved harder. That’s not an indictment of the service, but you’ll need to invest some time and energy into the app if you want it to pay off long term.

Volunteer.

When you’re in a new city, it can be hard to get the lay of the land. What events are cool? Which museums are worth going to? Where can you find the best ice cream?

Volunteering for local events is one way to have fun, explore, and make friends in a new city in the process. Most volunteer spots last several hours, so you’ll have time to chat and get to know people. Plus, you often get free swag or privileged access.

If you hear about a local event that sounds interesting, but you don’t want to go alone, contact the organizers to see if they need volunteers.

Sports leagues.

Joining a local bowling league is the best way I’ve made friends in Denver. We played one game a week for six weeks, meeting at the same time and place consistently. Having a regular time to hang out proved to be the key to making a new group of friends. When you sporadically attend functions, you don’t get the consistency that’s required to solidify new friendships. Seeing the same people once a week made it easier to develop actual relationships.

We started planning other activities together pretty quickly, like going to the movies, attending musicals and going on short hikes. Eventually we started watching “Game of Thrones” together every Sunday and later transitioned into a weekly trivia group when our bowling season ended.

Every city has local sports leagues you can join and participate in. Most people won’t care if you’re unathletic, as long as you have a positive attitude and a cursory knowledge of the sport. Often, groups go out afterward for drinks or dinner, giving you another opportunity to establish roots.

Moving to a new city is the perfect chance to find new friends and reinvent your life with people who you can enjoy time with.

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Some struggles make us lose hope. Make us feel lost. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, there is hope. There is a path to wellness.

There’s no denying it – depression and anxiety are on the rise in the United States. Whether you attribute the uptick to societal factors or heightened awareness of mental health issues, it’s clear that many Americans are suffering without a clear path to wellness.

Thankfully, treating these issues is exceedingly more simple than people realize – which isn’t to say it’s easy. There are tried and true methods that, if used appropriately and consistently, have a high chance of improving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It may be an uphill battle, but it’s a hill worth climbing.

Successful treatment looks different for everyone, so keep an open mind. Here are some basic steps to take if you don’t know where to start.

Catalog your feelings.

Writing down your feelings is one of the most basic strategies to cope with feeling anxious or depressed. The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends journaling to combat “stress, depression or anxiety.”

I write in a journal every day, chronicling how I’m feeling and what’s bothering me. When I’m in a funk I can’t explain, I automatically reach for my notebook. On a basic level, documenting your mental condition allows you to separate yourself from negative emotions by playing the part of an objective observer.

I also use thought records to document my anxiety and change my reaction to it. A thought record is a simple worksheet where you catalog what the situation is, what you’re thinking and how you feel. Then you write down how rational your thoughts are, what the more rational response would be and how likely it is that the rational response is correct. Cognitive behavioral therapy practitioners believe when they change their thoughts, they can change their feelings and behavior.

For example, if you think your friend will be mad you forgot her birthday, you could write down a thought record saying why you feel bad, what you’re thinking about yourself and what your friend’s likely response is. Thought records can help you see when you’re blowing things out of proportion and how to manage your problems more effectively.

Stay connected.

Depression often robs victims of the energy and desire to do the hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. It can take away the motivation to work out, eat healthy and stay connected to your social circle. The problem is, staying involved with your friends and pastimes is one of the few ways you can feel better.

Start small. Invite a friend or two over for a movie night where you don’t have to do anything except provide a DVD or turn on Netflix. Meet a former coworker for coffee or a drink. If a pal is having a party, try to go for at least an hour.

“I can usually count on a few things to help or at least distract me from how I’m feeling for a bit,” said Kelly Whalen of Centsible Life. “Those include reading, walking outside, petting my fluffy dog, taking a nap or a little window shopping.”

You should also consider finding a group of peers who are dealing with depression as well. Talking about your problems with people who understand can make you feel less alone in your struggles. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has an online support group you can join, as well as a private forum where you can write out your feelings.

Find a therapist.

A licensed therapist or counselor can be an incredible tool in fighting depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, many people assume that the only therapists available are ones who charge $200 an hour.

Not so. Almost everyone can find a low-cost therapist if they look hard enough. Your doctor might have some recommendations on where to look, so start there. A local university with a psychology department will also have an in-house clinic where you can meet with current students or graduates. Low-cost or free clinics often have a therapist on staff.

On average, these clinics charge anywhere from $5 to $40, and many have a sliding scale system based on income. I’ve had good experiences with inexpensive therapists and consider them a necessary tool in fighting anxiety and depression.

Talk to a doctor.

You should talk to a doctor about medication if therapy, journaling and working out don’t alleviate your anxiety or depression. Only a medical doctor can prescribe pills, so make an appointment with your primary care physician and not your counselor or therapist.

Don’t worry if it takes some time for the medication to kick in or if you don’t like how it feels at first. Many patients need a few weeks to adjust, so be aware of that. Your doctor can alter the prescription as need be if you’re not feeling better after a month or so. If you decide you don’t like it, ask your doctor how to taper off. Withdrawal symptoms are common and can be debilitating if you don’t scale back appropriately.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, it can take time to work through it. Try to find what works best for you.

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Want to keep it tight with your crew? It takes effort. But it’s totally worth it.

Developing good relationships is the primary reason we’re on earth.

Human contact is essential for both your mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that those with strong emotional ties are healthier and live longer than those without.

But building those bonds takes time and effort. Even if you consider yourself a good person, it can be hard to maintain relationships, especially as work and other commitments take more of your time.

As you build your squad, here’s how you can develop relationships meant to last:

Learn to listen.

You probably already think of yourself as a decent listener.

But consider this: Do you actually listen when your friend is or partner is talking? Or do you think of what you’re going to say in response? Do you really hear them? Or are you judging what they’re saying?

Hearing is easy, but listening is hard.

It’s hard to listen mindfully, without wondering how long it’ll be before you can say something. But listening is vital to developing a good relationship, no matter if it’s with a boss or the cashier at your favorite donut shop.

“I don’t necessarily have to agree with what’s being said, but acknowledgment goes a long way towards building those important relationships,” said Elle Martinez, author of Jumpstart Your Marriage & Your Money.

Listening is like meditation. It requires focusing on one singular object and bringing your mind back to that focus when it starts to drift. It’s one of the hardest skills to master, especially if you’ve spent most of your life half-heartedly paying attention to your friends.

Stay in touch.

How many relationships lose traction because one of you fails to keep in touch? Keeping track of people is hard, but it’s made so much easier now with the advent of Facebook and other forms of social media.

Try to stay in touch, even if it’s as simple as sending a text or message saying you’re thinking of them and hope they’re doing well. I even created a recurring calendar reminder to call my grandmother. I always forget to call her, so I set it for a time when I know I’ll be free. I also keep a stack of blank greeting cards handy so I can send close friends and family personal cards when it’s their birthday.

It takes little time to send them out, but means the world to get a hand-written note in the mail. Relationships are like cars. They need regular tuneups to function or they’ll die.

Bring up problems early.

I have a theory: the best friends I have are the ones I’ve had some sort of disagreement with. If I’m willing to bring up a difficult subject with you, it means we’re good friends.

But it’s never easy to bring up something with a close friend. I hate confrontation, and most people agree with me. Fortunately, every time I’ve brought something up, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the other person. It’s always led to a closer relationship, and I’ve never regretted it.

I usually feel uncomfortable doing this in person or over the phone, so I try to write it out. I can take my time writing out my grievances and I know that I won’t say something hastily I’ll regret later. Plus, then the other person has the option to respond in print or in person.

When you have a problem you want to discuss, try bringing it up with a neutral party first. A third-person can provide a different perspective and tell you if you’re actually in the wrong. I usually discuss friend issues with my husband first, since he can tell me if I’m being unreasonable.

Give feedback.

What most people are looking for is acknowledgment in this world. That’s why many of us seek validation through likes and hearts on social media.

Give that to your loved ones by commenting on their recent career news or by supporting their side business. Odd as it sounds, developing good relationships in today’s world includes participating on social media with them.

If your friend just started dating someone new, text her a few weeks in to ask her how it’s going. She’ll love to hear that you care about her relationship. Bring it up if you see her in person. One of the characteristics that differentiates a strong relationship from a weak one is if you bring up things that are important to your friend before they have to. That shows real commitment and dedication.

Every interaction you have, try to mention or ask something that the other person cares about. They’ll be delighted that you remember and care so much.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make your people feel good and they’ll never forget it.

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