Getting life insurance sounds like a real adult thing to do. Unless you don’t need it. Then you’re just wasting money. Don’t waste money.

It doesn’t get much more adult than buying life insurance. Coming to terms with your own death is a rite of passage as we grow older, and purchasing a life insurance policy is a sign that you care about what happens to your family after you’re gone.

But sometimes, it’s also a waste of money.

Accepting the reality of your own mortality and looking to protect your loved ones after you die is noble, but the funds you would spend paying for a policy can often be put to better use.

Life insurance has a very specific function, financially, and it often just doesn’t make sense to pay for it if you’re not at a certain stage in life. Imagine paying for car insurance when you haven’t even gotten your license – that’s the kind of situation many people put themselves into.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s financially sound for you to purchase a life insurance policy, read ahead for more information.

When you don’t have kids or a mortgage.

I called my insurance agent the week after my husband and I got married and asked him if we needed to buy life insurance. He only asked me two questions: did we own any property together and did we have any kids? The answer to both questions was no, so he suggested we hold off.

Yes, if either one of us dies, the surviving party would have to change his or her lifestyle to compensate living on one income. Rent would be a bigger struggle, but neither of us would have to think about how to support a child or how to carry a mortgage by ourselves. Some days it seems odd that I don’t have life insurance even though I’m married, but I know it makes more sense to keep it this way.

However, we’re preparing to purchase life insurance next year once we buy a house. Getting out of a mortgage can take a while depending on the housing market, so it’s more necessary for a childless couple with a mortgage to buy life insurance than a couple that’s renting. If your partner dies while renting, it’s pretty easy to get out of the lease and move to a more affordable spot.

When you buy it for your kids.

During a staff meeting at my last job, someone brought up the idea of buying life insurance for your kids. I was confused. “Isn’t the whole point of life insurance to replace someone’s income?” I asked. But they disagreed.

Most of the parents in the room said they had bought life insurance for their children, in case something happened. But buying life insurance for your children, who don’t provide any financial value, is a waste of money.

Think about it: life insurance should prevent a family from having money problems if one of the earners dies. Since children don’t bring in any money (unless your kid is a famous child actor), your income would stay the same in the event of their passing – and your expenses would decrease. It’s also incredibly rare for a child to die before the parent, especially in their youth, so the odds of actually benefiting from a policy are extremely low.

Instead, you’re better off saving any money you’d pay for life insurance in an emergency fund, which will cover any potential funeral expenses. You can also put that money towards a college fund.

When you’re buying whole life insurance.

Most financial experts, including the legendary Dave Ramsey, tell people to buy term life insurance instead of whole. Whole insurance bills itself as a life insurance policy combined with a savings account. They claim that a user can build up cash value in his or her policy that the family can redeem once they pass away.

Because a whole life policy is designed to cover the customer for their entire life, it’s much more expensive than a term life policy. For example, when I input my information into a life insurance form, it tells me I qualify for a $25/month term life policy with a $500,000 payout. A whole life policy with the same benefit would cost $408.45 /month.

If you invest the $383 difference every month in an index fund earning 7% annually, you’ll have $1,011,550.80 in 40 years, or more than double the cash value of the whole life policy. Plus, you’ll have access to those funds any time – no waiting for an insurance company to pay out.

When you’re retired.

A few years ago, a friend of mine lost her father. As we were commiserating about the situation, she mentioned that his insurance policy had lapsed only within the last year. She remarked on what a shame it was that her mother wouldn’t be able to get any life insurance money.

Most retirees don’t need life insurance, especially if they don’t have a mortgage. Remember, the point of insurance is to substitute lost wages or pay for current bills. Since a retiree usually has few expenses, it’s not necessary for them to have a life insurance policy.

Have you purchased life insurance yet? What factors did you consider before taking that step? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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An office fling can be fun, but what if you want it to last? In order for things to work out, here are some things you’ll need to consider.

Common sense says that office romances are a bad idea. Most of the time they fail, leading to an awkward dynamic and uncomfortable interactions. When they do succeed, there’s still a danger that the situation could put your career in jeopardy.

So why are they so common?

The fact is, people are willing to set aside common sense when they feel a genuine spark with a coworker. And even though it’s a risky affair, office romances can work – if approached in the right way. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gamble, and it’s up to you to decide if the payoff is worth it.

If you think you’ve found love on the clock, here’s how to do it the right way.

Check the Employee Handbook.

Every office has their own rules about employee dating. Some prohibit it entirely, while others simply ask that you to report it to HR. Look carefully through the employee handbook and see what your company’s regulations are.

If the handbook doesn’t explicitly prohibit office relationships, you should be alright to continue dating. However, if you’re dating someone with whom you have a supervisor-subordinate relationship, things could get tricky. A 2013 report from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 99% of organizations said a relationship between a supervisor and direct employee would not be tolerated.

If word spreads about your relationship, another coworker might file a complaint with HR. Even if your partner isn’t treating you differently, there’s almost no way to prove you’re not getting any favoritism.

It is completely legal for a company to fire you or your partner for having an office romance. If your relationship keeps progressing, you might want to consider finding a new job where you won’t have to hide your significant other.

Avoid office PDA.

Even if you’re allowed to date your co-worker, it’s still a good idea to avoid being affectionate at work. No one wants to see a couple making out on the copier, flirting in the break room or calling each other pet names during a staff meeting.

No matter how tempting it might be, try not to show your love either physically and verbally. Not only can doing so get you both fired, but it might make your coworkers uncomfortable. There’s nothing shameful about an office romance, as long as you continue to act like professionals at the office.

Tell no one.

When you’re in love, you just want to shout it from the rooftops. You want to tell everyone you know, from the cashier at the grocery store to your first cousin twice removed.

But the best policy is to not tell anyone associated with your job, unless you’re required to disclose the relationship to HR. It’s okay to share it with a couple close friends, but it’s easy for secrets to spill out and rumors to spread – especially if mutual friends from work are involved.

When I briefly dated a coworker of mine, we kept it private and didn’t tell anyone. Once, a friend who had suspected we were dating watched us leave the office together. When he saw we weren’t holding hands, he concluded he was wrong. I later felt so proud that we kept our relationship a secret.

Avoid talking about work.

When you’re dating a coworker, bitching about the receptionist or management can be an easy topic of conversation to fall back on. But if your relationship is only built on work, it will crumble easily.

I know this from personal experience. When I was 18, I dated one of my managers at Pac-Sun. He was my first boyfriend and I really liked hanging out with him. We decided to keep dating while I went off to college, but I quickly realized we had nothing in common.

While working together it was easy to find stuff talk to about, but the distance made it obvious we weren’t compatible. If you and your partner are always talking about work, you won’t get the chance to find out if you’re truly in sync on a deeper level.

Take the time to explore each other’s hobbies, meet your non-work friends, and enjoy life outside of the office. It will strengthen your bond and prove you have something more in common.

Consider looking for outside jobs.

It’s definitely possible to sustain an office relationship, it’s usually easier if one person ends up finding a new job. While this isn’t necessary per se, it can simplify some of the issues that will inevitably crop up if your relationship becomes more serious – or if you break up.

Discuss it with your partner and make a thoughtful, forward-thinking decision. It might seem extreme to uproot your career for romance, especially if you both love your jobs, but it could save your relationship. For many people, that’s more than enough reason.

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A friendship not fitting quite as snuggly as it used to? You don’t have to give up on it. Here’s how to work through the changes.

Getting older is always tough, but nothing about adult life seems quite as harsh as losing friendships. Even if you were once closer with someone than you’ve ever been with another person, that relationship can dissolve within a matter of years – sometimes even months. Usually, it happens because you end up on different life paths.

As I settle into my late 20s, I’m starting to realize just how difficult it can be to stay connected with a friend whose life is completely divergent from my own. As I’ve learned from talking to older friends and family, those rifts only continue to grow wider if you let them. The key, I’ve found, is to be proactive in preserving the relationship.

If you feel yourself growing apart from a friend whose life has become very different from your own, here are some things you can do to bridge the gap.

Understand their decisions.

Many of my closest friends are on a different path than I am. They dream of kids, a house in the suburbs and a minivan to go with it. Even though I don’t want any of those things, I still need to support their decisions.

I might look at a house in the suburbs with disdain, but I have to consider it from their point of view. Those neighborhoods usually have better school districts, and more space available for less money. If I’ve learned one thing from having older friends with kids, good schools are everything when you have children.

Friends only start to drift apart when one or both parties stop trying to understand the other. If my friend can make an effort to understand why I don’t want kids, then I should try to appreciate why she does.

Keep Your opinions to yourself.

I’m a very opinionated and judgmental person. I always think I’m right, but lately I’ve learned that’s not the most endearing quality to my friends.

When you’re on a different life path from your friends, you have to keep some opinions to yourself. I don’t agree with being a stay-at-home mom, but I won’t tell my friends not to do that. I don’t agree with spending lots of money on a new car, but I won’t shame a friend for splurging on a new Lexus.

Even if your friend is doing something objectively bad, like having an affair or running up their credit card bill, you can’t tell them what to do. You’re not responsible for their decisions and you won’t have to personally deal with the aftermath, so let it go.

Create new memories.

I had an intensely close group of girlfriends in college. We lived in the same dorm our freshman and sophomore years and continued to hang out our junior and senior years.

After graduation, we all moved away. We’d see each other at Christmas and text occasionally, but we weren’t as close as when we were 18. I knew we missed each other, and one day I got the idea that we should all go on a trip. Thankfully, they all agreed and we planned a vacation to Asheville, North Carolina.

The trip was amazing. While we spent a large portion of the time reminiscing about our college days, we created new memories in the process. I’ll never forget the hours we spent playing Taboo or watching for license plates from faraway states while driving. Even though we’ve known each other for a decade, my friends and I shared stories we had never heard before.

Now we text each other every few days, updating the others about our job interviews, our house searches and our boy troubles. Even though we’re all on different paths and live hundreds of miles apart, our friendships feel as strong as they were when lived in the same dorm.

Don’t let jealousy get in the way.

Recently, I asked my parents how they’ve managed to stay friends with people who earn more than they do. Don’t they get jealous of what their friends can afford to do? Isn’t it awkward if someone shows up to a party in a new Mercedes while they’re driving a Toyota?

But my parents are wise. They never feel envious of a friend whose life is going really well. “You’re always doing better or worse than someone you know, so just be grateful for what you do have.”

As my friends and I get older, I’m sure salary discrepancies will come up more than once. As I’ve observed from my parent’s example, money only becomes a factor if you let it. Yes, some of my friends will drive nicer cars or have bigger houses – but I can’t let my jealousy divide us. Neither should you.

The same is true if you’re single and all your friends are married, or if you can’t have kids but all your friends are moms. Yes, it’s easy to feel envious looking at Instagram photos, but harboring those feelings will make it harder to remember why you’re friends in the first place.

Do you have tips for maintaining diverging friendships? Let us know over in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Got told your job performance isn’t up to par? The answer isn’t at the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Your response can change everything.

There are certain feelings you start to leave behind after adolescence. The intense anxiety of a first date. The raw shame of being scolded by a parent. The unbridled excitement of Christmas morning.

You might think the churning feeling in the pit of your stomach after failing a test goes away, too. Until you get a bad performance review at work.

There’s nothing worse than being told you’re doing a bad job. It’s a confidence killer and can leave you questioning your entire career. It just sucks.

But a successful career comes from moving past adversity, and a bad review isn’t the end of the world. What really matters is how you move forward from it.

If you got torn apart on your latest review, here’s how you can put yourself back together.

Commiserate and cool off.

I remember my first official performance review. I was so excited. Growing up, I remembered my parents getting performance reviews once a year, usually followed by a hefty annual bonus or raise.

When I sat down, I expected to get a glowing review, full of remarks about my hard work, dedication, and ingenuity – followed by a nice fat check.

Unfortunately, that’s not what I got. While my boss was complimentary, he was also quick to point out my flaws, many of which I hadn’t noticed. I was blindsided and furious, but in the meeting, I remained stoic and professional. I considered that an emotional triumph, even if I wanted to go cry in the bathroom.

I went back to my office, closed the door and took a few moments to breathe. Then, I went to the nearby CVS to pick up some chocolate and call my mom.

I was so disappointed in myself. I remember staring at the official performance review with my total score on it, a 3.5 out of 5. Didn’t my boss like me? Wasn’t I doing well? I felt like a high schooler again, freaking out after a bad test score.

Venting to my mom made me feel better, as did inhaling a bunch of junk food. After I returned to the office, I decided that I liked my job and wanted to get better at it, even if meant facing some things I didn’t know about myself.

If you get a bad review, take time to cool off before you respond to your supervisor. Responding well to criticism is a key component of being a good employee. Pouting or whining about your review will only make you look worse, feel worse, and fail to improve.

Instead, look closely at what your boss said. Realize that more than likely, they’re just trying to help you become better at your job. The more you improve, the better off you’ll be, so try to see a bad review as an opportunity.

Talk to other people at work.

If you’re still not convinced that your boss is on point with her criticism, talk to other people at work to see if they agree. Remember that they may hesitate to be honest with you, hoping to avoid hurting your feelings. Make it crystal clear that you really want the honest-to-goodness truth.

Even if your coworkers do agree with your supervisor’s assessment, they should be able to remind you of your strengths and valuable contributions as well. Maybe they’ll be able to share their own stories of bad reviews. Getting an outside perspective can help you see that this isn’t the worst news you could possibly get.

Ask your boss questions.

When you get a bad review, it can leave you spinning. You might be too focused on getting out of the room ASAP instead of trying to understand what you did wrong. However, it’s important to leave an evaluation with a clear idea of what you’re doing badly and how to correct it.

For example, if your boss says your presentations aren’t persuasive, you need to figure out why. Are they too boring? Are you not identifying your client’s pain points? Where exactly are your weak spots?

It might seem embarrassing to ask for a breakdown of your flaws when you’d rather highlight your strengths, but it’s important to dig deep into the criticism. Your boss needs to know you understand how you can improve or they won’t feel confident in your abilities. They’ll be impressed if you clearly want to get better, and disappointed if you try to walk past any criticism.

Follow up later.

Once you’ve had a chance to look over the review and implement the necessary changes, find your boss a month or so later and ask them if they’ve noticed any differences. You want to make sure what you’re doing is working, and make your desire to improve clear to your boss.

You can schedule a formal meeting to determine if the changes are working. Even if you’re still falling short, your boss should appreciate your resolve to find a solution. Remember, employers like problem solvers, so always come prepared with other ideas that might work.

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It’s tough to deal with failure. But there is something even more difficult to go through that’s absolutely worth it: the comeback.

A few years after graduating college, I started writing a blog about trying to pay off my student loans in three years. It was pretty small and relatively unknown at first, but eventually it garnered some attention with a local financial writer and radio personality. He had me on his show several times and became a bit of a mentor.

Eventually, he talked to me about the possibility of working for him in the future. The conversation progressed, and eventually, he promised me a concrete position as soon as his budget freed up. That would take a few months, he said, but no longer.

I waited, and waited, and waited. Then I started asking about the position more firmly during our conversations. Finally, I flat out asked him if he had any intention of following through on his promise. That’s when I stopped hearing from him.

I was crushed and put the blame entirely on myself. I was certain I had said something, or done something, or not done something to make him retract the offer. It took me years to fully recover from my perceived failure, and I learned a lot about moving on and letting go.

If you’ve fallen down, here are some ways you can pick yourself back up.

Be kind to yourself.

For years, I thought if I punished myself every time I failed, I’d learn not to do it again. Instead, the shame and guilt only pushed me away from figuring out what went wrong. Any time you fail, you have to forgive yourself for what happened.

I like to close my eyes and visualize myself as a friendly kindergarten teacher, talking to a younger version of myself. I speak in a sweet, soft tone and say things like, “Hey, it’s ok little pupper. Think of this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or a bad person. It just means you’re human.”

It may sound contradictory to some, but being nice to myself has yielded more change than being mean and condescending. Think of it as talking to yourself the way you’d talk to a good friend going through a rough patch. You wouldn’t criticize their mistakes – you’d try to build them back up with positivity and support.

Have no zero days.

When I experience failure, my instinct is to run away and hide under the covers, both literally and figuratively. I don’t feel like doing anything productive, like going to the gym, eating healthy or working on my hobbies. But feeling sorry for myself only makes the feeling of failure linger.

When you fail, you have to try even harder to get back up again. Start by doing something simple like taking a walk outside or reading a self-help book. Doing small things like that will make you rebound faster than laying on the couch binging on Netflix.

Every day, aim to do one productive thing, like meditate, apply for new jobs or work out. Mark an X on the calendar every time you’ve completed that thing. Your goal is to do something every day, no matter how inconsequential it seems.

Don’t worry about whether or not your heart is in it – this is about going through the motions. By stringing together a series of Xs, you’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll be more motivated to do other, bigger things, like taking online classes or cold calling a potential mentor.

List your accomplishments.

After we fail at something, our minds get clouded by self-doubt and insecurity. When I’m feeling down, I think about the amazing things I’ve accomplished and reminded myself that I’m capable of success as well as failure.

Sit and write down a few things you’ve accomplished recently, like running a marathon or being a great mom. The goal is not to forget or ignore your failure, but rather to remind yourself that failure does not define you.

For example, when I’m having a bad day and feeling lame, I think about how I paid off my student loans in three years, how I’m successfully self-employed and how I moved across the country without a support network. Taking a second to appreciate my victories makes me more confident in my ability to overcome my failures.

Be grateful.

When you’re feeling like a failure, it’s easy to see your life as a series of bad turns. That kind of thinking can make you feel unlucky, cursed or doomed to remain a failure.

To combat this mindset, try writing down at least three things you’re grateful for. Finding time for gratitude will help you see the positivity in your life. Even on the worst day, you can find something to be thankful for – like nice weather, a burger from your favorite fast food place or a kiss from your dog. Focusing on failure will only exacerbate your feelings while being grateful will shift your focus.

One way to feel grateful is to volunteer with people who truly are less fortunate than you and who need your help. By getting out of your own skin, you’ll start to realize that this failure is only a blip and doesn’t have to define the rest of your life.

Do you recall a time when you dealt with failure? How did you overcome it? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Entrepreneurs play by their own rules and are living the dream – and then reality sets in.

I love my job. As a freelance writer, I have the time and freedom to travel, exercise and pursue hobbies whenever and wherever I want. If I have to finish an assignment, I can do it just as easily from a hotel lobby in Bermuda as I can from my home office. It’s a gig that I wake up every morning grateful for.

But sometimes, it can be a real bitch.

Freelancing, for all its allure, is a risky and stress-inducing career path. It forces you to manage every aspect of your business – and face all the consequences for your mistakes. Working for yourself will make you appreciate aspects of an office job you never even thought of.

Basically, I’m trying to tell you that freelancing has a dark side.

It’s isolating.

As an extrovert, it’s not surprising that one of my favorite parts of my old job was chatting with coworkers. I loved gossiping about other people in the office, discussing the latest “Game of Thrones” episode, and fighting over the leftover bagels.

Now I work at home. The only other living creatures are my husband and two dogs – who are great company – but don’t offer the same opportunities for varied opinions and perspectives. I miss the camaraderie of the office and being part of a team. When I have a problem with an editor or want to complain about something I saw on Twitter, I don’t have other people to do it with.

My situation is even more frustrating because I moved to a new city at the same time I quit my job. I have friends here, but it’s not the same as seeing a consistent group every day. Making new friends is always hard, and even more challenging when you work at home all day.

In some ways, freelancing is the job that’s least compatible with my personality. I love being around people and still dream about the good ol’ days when I could vent to a coworker in person. Even though I love making my own decisions, I miss holiday office parties and big staff meetings.

It’s all on you.

When I had just graduated from college and was looking for a job, a friend asked me if I had considered becoming a freelance writer. I was trying to find a job in the magazine industry, which is as competitive and difficult as “The Devil Wears Prada” makes it out to be. Months after graduation, I was still unemployed.

I told her I didn’t want to freelance full-time. It’s too unstable, I said. I knew a few freelancers, and most of them were seasoned journalists who had written for Esquire or The New Yorker. I couldn’t even land a gig at my hometown newspaper.

It’s ironic that I became a freelancer when I spent so many years vehemently opposed to the idea. While I’ve gotten used to paying quarterly taxes, buying my own health insurance and working on vacation, I still don’t enjoy the instability.

Unless you have regular retainer clients, you have to drum up business every month. Most of the time, I land more than enough work to cover my bills, entertainment budget, and savings goals. I’ve also had several slow months, where I’ve had to dip into our emergency fund to cover the bills. Some days I feel rich – other days I feel jealous of my friends who still have regular 9-5 jobs.

It’s all-encompassing.

At my last “regular” job, I never had any problems leaving work at the office. I didn’t check my email on the weekends or during vacations, and I didn’t feel guilty for it. My job was not my life.

Now, my job makes up a bigger part of who I am and how I define myself. Since my personal email and my work email is the same, I often check it when I go to bed and when I wake up.

I’ve heard the same from others who have started their own business. I once read that being an entrepreneur means working 80 hours a week for yourself instead of working 40 hours for someone else. I’ve gotten used to this new mindset, but it’s not for everyone.

It’s unpredictable.

Even when I was working in the unstable field of journalism, I never worried about losing my job. If I got laid off, I could collect unemployment and move back home until I found something else.

Now I’m always in fear that my freelancing clients will dry up, that my luck will run out or that robots will learn to write articles better than me.

To combat my fear and anxiety, I save a lot for retirement, have a substantial emergency fund and remind myself to enjoy being self-employed. I can travel when I want to, take on work that I enjoy and get to see my friends and family more than I ever did before.

Are you an entrepreneur who has experienced the dark side? What are some other tough things that people overlook? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Thinking about a road trip is fun! The memories of road trips past – awesome! What’s not so great? All the boring, crappy stuff that can actually happen while on the journey. You’ve gotta be prepared.

The road trip is a tradition as American as baseball. With miles and miles of highway stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction, we grow up dreaming about the day we can hop in a car and explore it all.

But the reality of a road trip can be much less glamorous. If you’ve ever been crammed in the backseat of an old sedan with no air conditioning for hours at a time, you know what I mean. To actually enjoy the trip, you need to plan ahead.

Here’s a checklist to ensure your next road trip goes off without a hitch – from the necessities to the fun stuff.

Essentials.

Jumper Cables

Having your battery die in the middle of a road trip is no fun, especially if you don’t have any jumper cables with you. I’ve been stranded on the side of the road with no cables before, and eventually gave up and called AAA when none of the good Samaritans who stopped to give me a jump had cables either.

A new set of jumper cables only costs around $20 for a decent set – trust me, it’s worth it.

External Phone Battery Charger

Anytime I start out a road trip with a fully charged cell phone, I’m almost guaranteed to drain it before I’ve arrived at my destination. If you have multiple people in the car all trying to charge their phones, you’re going to have times where your phone is dead and you can’t charge it.

That’s why I always bring my external battery charger with me. You can find a decent portable charger for $30-$40, and they typically carry enough energy to charge your phone five times over. That’s a lot of extra time to play late 90s R&B and settle petty arguments with Google.

Pillows

I can’t be in a car for an extended period of time without falling asleep, but I hate contorting myself into a semi-comfortable position just to wake up with a neck cramp.

Now, I try to bring a pillow from home or a travel pillow on every road trip. It makes my car naps much more enjoyable, so I can actually rest before it’s my turn to take the wheel.

Bottled Water and Snacks

During my last significant road trip, my friends and I loaded up our car with all kinds of snacks: veggie chips, bananas, PB&J sandwiches, candy and string cheese. We had a whole cooler in the backseat with food and bottled water, which saved us so much money and kept us from stopping for fast food. Every time I was tempted to buy a candy bar at a convenience store, I remembered that I had plenty of food in the car.

Not only is bringing your own snacks less expensive, but you can also bring goodies that are healthier and tastier than what you’d find at a gas station.

Entertainment.

Podcasts

If you’re traveling by yourself, I highly recommend finding some podcast episodes to download before you head out. Listening to music or calling old friends is fun, but a podcast is the best way to pass the time on a long drive.

Most episodes are between 40 and 90 minutes, so listening to a couple episodes can make several hours fly by. I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving I spent driving to my grandma’s house and listening to “Serial” along the way. I was so engrossed in the story, I sat in my car after arriving to finish the last episode.

I used to drive six hours every weekend to see my boyfriend, and I would always load up my iPod with that week’s episodes of “Fresh Air.” Nowadays, I also enjoy comedy podcasts like “Comedy Bang Bang” and “Doughboys” to keep my spirits up when traffic is a slog.

If you’re going to be driving through an area with low cell reception, I recommend downloading the episodes before you head out so you’re not relying on your data plan.

Apps and Games

Last month, I went on an eight-hour road trip with my old college friends to Asheville, North Carolina. We wanted to play some road games on the way down, but couldn’t think of anything we could all participate in.

Eventually we found a knock-off version of “Beat Shazam.” The app would play 10 seconds of a song, and we’d have to guess what it was. It was a blast trying to test each other and see who was better at picking out old Britney Spears’ hits.

Before you head out on your road trip, find some fun apps and games you can play. You can even go old-school and play classic road games like “I Spy” and “20 Questions.” Nothing spices up a long drive like a little competition.

Are there any other essentials you take on a road trip? What can’t you do without? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Running into an ex sucks, but often it can’t be avoided. Even though everything isn’t in your control, there’s some prep work you can do to handle it well.

Breaking up sucks – especially when you get an unexpected reminder of the trauma. There’s nothing like running into a former flame to rip open wounds you thought were healed.

But an unanticipated rendezvous with your ex doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, it doesn’t have to be anything more than a casual conversation with an old acquaintance.

The difference is in how you approach the situation, and how prepared you are for the buried emotions that might come rushing to the surface.If you’re worried about the potential of running into your ex, here are some ways to prepare.

Practice beforehand.

Facing an awkward situation is always scary, whether it’s a presentation at work or a run-in with your former partner. If you’re anxious about the idea of seeing your ex again, try practicing what you’d say if you ran into them. Ask a friend to role-play as your ex and run through a few possible scenarios.

Practicing beforehand can help you see the truth – there’s nothing to worry about. The real thing will feel different, but facing your fear and acknowledging it will make you less anxious. Think of the situation like a job interview.

Doing a run-through won’t take away all the nervousness, but it will make you feel more prepared.

Keep it real.

Running into a recent ex is especially difficult if they were the one to end things. You want to pretend that you’re doing great, that your life hasn’t been affected at all by them leaving. You don’t want to admit how much you think about them.

But acting fake and pretending everything is good won’t convince your ex, unless you’re a fantastic liar. In fact, making it seem like you’re on top of the world will only make you look more desperate and pathetic. If you have to insist on how well you’re doing, they’re probably not going to buy it.

Instead, try keeping it real. Don’t pretend to be aloof or uncaring. Be polite, respectful, and a little friendly. You’re not going to escape any difficult feelings the interaction brings up, so you might as well leave with your dignity intact.

Take the high road.

If the relationship ended badly, you might be tempted to say something biting and sarcastic upon seeing your ex again. How often have you fantasized about the shade you’d throw in that situation? Have you memorized the comebacks you’d throw out if they tried to apologize?

But being petty won’t make you feel better, even if it does make your ex feel worse. Even if you get a brief high from speaking your mind, being spiteful will only leave you feeling worse once the adrenaline has faded.

As hard as it might seem, taking the high road is better for both of you. There’s a famous saying that goes, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for for the other person to die.” Of course it’s easy to stay mad at an ex, especially if they cheated on you, but taking the low road won’t make you happier.

Keep it brief.

Unless you’re on great terms with your ex, you don’t have to discuss everything that’s gone on since you two broke up. Keep the conversation light and simple, make a joke or two and then find a reason to leave.

If you have an extended conversation, it could make them think you’re still interested. That can lead to even more awkwardness, with them preemptively rejecting you or trying to win you back. A five-minute chat leaves no room for interpretation.

Ignore them.

If you feel like you’re still too emotional and won’t be able to hold it together, it’s ok to ignore them. You might feel a little awkward just turning and walking away, but it’s better than bursting into tears as soon as they say, “Hi.”

You don’t owe anyone your attention. After a tough breakup, all you need to worry about is taking care of you.

Don’t obsess over it.

If you’re in college or live near your ex, the possibility of running into them is very likely. When I was dumped in college, I still had to see my ex every day. I dreaded walking into the journalism building and seeing his face.

Over time, I realized that my dread wasn’t making me feel more prepared. It was just extending the pain. Plus, spending all my of my free time obsessing about the next time I’d see him was pretty annoying for my friends. They made that very, very clear.

Yes, you might run into someone who hurt you – but you don’t have to let them continue to make you feel bad. Focus on your work, your hobbies, and whatever else you have going for you. Eventually, the thought of running into your ex won’t even cross your mind.

Have you ran into an ex and not handled it well? If you rocked it like a pro, what tips can you give. Tell us all about it in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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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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