O.K. That seems a little crazy. But does it really matter how messed up it is if you make some extra money?

Whether you want to pay off debt, save for a new car or travel around the world, one of the best ways to fulfill your financial goals is to earn more money.

But if you’ve asked for a raise or tried to look for a new job without success, it might be time to start a side hustle.

A side hustle can help you earn money while allowing you to maintain your regular job. Plus, many of these gigs have flexible hours so you can work around the schedule you have at your real job.

If you need more money, you can ramp up the work. If you want to take a break, you can do that too.

And if you’re ready to make bank, you might be surprised at how many strange niches you can fill. Here are some of the weird side gigs you can do and still make decent money:

Give plasma.

I started selling my plasma in college when I was a senior.

Graduation was near, and I needed money so I could afford to stay in town while doing an unpaid internship.

It was easy work. Lay down, get poked with a needle and sit for an hour while the machines collect your plasma. The room was cold, and even though I never did anything productive while I was in the chair, I made decent money.

Most plasma centers offer between $20 and $50 per donation and some even provide bonuses if you come at least a certain amount per month. They usually require that you weigh at least 110 pounds and have no major health issues.

Sell used underwear.

Ever have a pair of used panties that you throw away because they’re too small or because they have holes in them?

Instead of tossing those undies, try selling them online. There’s a huge market for used underwear.

It’s true.

Costs can range from $30 to $75 depending on the type of underwear, how long you’ve worn it and whether you’re willing to include photos of you wearing it. Some girls buy briefs in bulk so they can maximize their profit.

Everyone has their thing. If you aren’t creeped out at the thought of someone drooling over your undies, this can be a legit way to make money.

Yard sales.

When was the last time you went to a yard sale? If you’ve been to one recently, you were probably looking for something you could buy for yourself. But some people go to yard sales to shop for items they can resell elsewhere.

It might seem like a little bit normal in terms of other weird side gigs you could be doing, but going to yard sales as a business can still raise a few eyebrows.

Your possible profit depends on what you find, the condition it’s in, if you can fix it, and what it’s worth now. Finding a Waterford crystal vase is unlikely, but you can score some kid’s football gear that can be resold.

Rent out a room on Airbnb.

Many people have made renting out their house on Airbnb a successful side hustle. But most do it when they’re on vacation or if they move out.

What about renting out a room while you live there?

It seems a little weird to let strangers hang with you while you’re at home, but it’s a way you can make money all the time — not just when you’re out of town.

Having a boarder was common a few decades ago, when being single meant you couldn’t afford a whole apartment or house. Nowadays, you can rent out a spare room, air mattress, or couch on Airbnb and similar sites.

Depending on your location, city, and amenities, you can make more than $100 a night.

Not bad for one of those weird side gigs that requires you to entertain complete strangers.

Thumbtack.

Everyone has a skill. Some people like dog sitting, others are champion green thumbs. No matter what you specialize in, you can find a gig on Thumbtack.

Thumbtack is a hub for anyone peddling a skill. My husband found his piano teacher on Thumbtack by posting what he was looking for. I found suggestions for house cleaners.

To start working, you have to create a profile and respond to jobs when they’re posted.

It can be hard to get started if you have no reviews, so I recommend charging low prices until you get a few solid testimonials. It sucks, but you can start raising your prices as soon as you are recognized as an expert.

Online surveys.

This option is best if you work at a job with computer access and lots of downtime, or if you want something to do at home besides browse Netflix.

I did this while I was paying off my student loans until I found more profitable freelance work.

I used a Reddit forum to find the best surveys, usually $1 for a few minutes. This sounds paltry, and it was. But there are no requirements for startup money, no huge time sink, and no restrictions.

According to Amazon’s reports, I made $242 in 2012. If you work a job where you have lots of downtime and computer access, it’s not a bad way to earn a few bucks.

Plus, there are ways to make even more if you join a site like Inspired Opinions. Sometimes, you can qualify to take part in focus groups for $50 to $75 an hour.

Sell advertising space on your car.

Ever seen those cars with tacky ads plastered all over them?

Well, some of those are business owners trying to drive their brands, but sometimes it’s regular people trying to make a buck. Carvertise is one startup that pairs companies with eligible drivers.

In the realm of weird side gigs, this one can be a bit taxing. After all, your car is an extension of who you are. It’s hard to plaster it with ads.

You have to be at least 21, drive 800 miles a month, and have a 2005 car or newer. According to the FAQ, you could make $100 a month.

That’s not bad, for just doing what you normally do around town.

What other interesting ways have you heard of to make money? Let us know about your favorite weird side gigs in the comments, or by visiting the #Adulting community on Facebook.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Fighting with your S.O. and constantly exchanging verbal barbs is a quick way to a short, unhappy relationship. Get beyond that.

Relationships are all about communication.

Deep bonds don’t form from nothing. They’re a result of a continuing exchange of ideas, emotions, and synergistic thinking. Even people who don’t share a common language can find ways to meaningfully interact.

If communicating is central to forming relationships, why is it so damn hard? The fact is, human minds are so unique that finding common ground can be like putting together a puzzle without a picture of the finished product.

That’s why long-term relationships are so special. When you spend enough time with someone, you can start to see how your personalities fit together harmoniously – or not so harmoniously. Sometimes you can see that the puzzle pieces fit, but struggle to put them together.

Ready to get beyond the drama? Here are some ideas for solving communication problems with your significant other.

Aim to understand.

One of the most frustrating moments in a fight is when one or both people aren’t listening to the other. It’s impossible to solve a disagreement if you’re not trying to see your partner’s point of view.

Your goal during an argument should be to understand your partner better and find some common ground. Learning how your partner thinks and feels is the key to a closer bond.

Too often, we treat the situation as if the goal is winning. Once you’re in that mindset, you both end up losers.

Solution: When your partner is talking during a fight, concentrate on what they’re saying and not how you want to respond. No matter how inane or illogical you think their argument is, try to listen before you say anything.

Let your guard down.

Getting defensive is a natural response if your partner brings up a difficult topic.

Does anyone really feel comfortable discussing something difficult, even with the person they love?

But defensiveness can close you off from the conversation. Instead of hearing what your partner is saying, you’ll only hear your skewed interpretation of what they really mean. If your husband tells you, “You forgot to take out the trash again,” you might hear, “You’re so irresponsible and don’t do enough around the house.”

Solution: Don’t project your own feelings onto what your partner is saying. It’s not fair to assume you know what they’re saying, and it can only lead to more discord.

When your partner is talking, listen to only what they’re saying. Get away from what you’re feeling. If you need to, repeat it back to them so you clearly understand. Then, calmly respond to the statement they made or question they asked.

Don’t use “all or nothing” language.

When trying to win an argument, you want to present the strongest case possible. But you have to stick to the facts. If you exaggerate or overstate something, it’s hard for the other person to take you seriously.

It’s also unfair to generalize your partner’s behavior as all-around bad. Behavior exists on a gray spectrum, and living in a black-and-white world during a fight reduces their actions to a trope.

Plus, you shouldn’t be trying to “win” anyway. This should be an exchange of ideas with the intent to understand.

Solution: Don’t use words like “always” and “never” in an argument. It’s easy for your significant other to argue against that, because there’s always an exception. Those types of words can and will make them make feel defensive. 

Solving communication problems is about helping each other understand, not forcing each other into semantic battles.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Communicating with your significant other is like taking out the trash. If you wait until the bag is overfilled, it’s harder to get it out the container. You find yourself wishing you’d dealt with it sooner.

When you get upset at your partner, bring it up that day. If you wait, the issue can fester and rot like the trash in my analogy. The sooner you broach the issue, the less upset you’ll be.

Solution: Bringing problems is hard to do and easy to avoid. Practice saying something beforehand so you feel more confident in your message.

You can try writing a script before you talk to your partner, or ask a friend how you could better phrase the issue. After doing this a few times, you’ll see that mentioning something in the beginning is much easier than waiting until you’re ready to explode.

Avoid name-calling.

Some people assume it doesn’t matter what they say in the heat of the moment as long as they apologize for it later. But apologies are like knee replacements: they temporarily fix the problem but don’t erase the damage.

Name-calling can be tempting when you’re in a screaming match, but doing so can lead to hurt feelings and resentment that isn’t so temporary. Your partner might never really forget the day you called her a stupid bitch.

This does nothing when it comes to solving communication problems.

Solution: If staying cool during a fight is too hard, take a walk alone and collect your thoughts. If your partner name-calls, don’t try to one up their comment. Use that moment to explain that you don’t appreciate what they said, or find it helpful.

It’s never easy to work through these issues. However, if you want a better relationship, solving communication problems with your partner is vital. Otherwise, you end up in a situation where you end up with someone you hate — or you break up to get away from the problems.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Living the dream as your own boss? Don’t let it become a budgeting nightmare. Stay on top of things when you have a variable income.

When former cubicle-jockeys switch to a freelance career, it’s almost always in pursuit of one elusive goal: freedom.

But with that freedom comes uncertainty. Many newly self-employed individuals find themselves missing the income consistency that came with their old gig.

But variable income doesn’t have to mean a dubious financial situation. There are a few methods you can use to create the consistency you’re looking for. This allows for the kind of stability you’d enjoy at an office job.

Here’s how I manage my own variable income:

Calculate how much you need.

Living on a variable income is stressful if you’re also living in the dark. If you don’t know how much you need to survive, how can you know if you’re budgeting correctly?

Go through your spending and add up your necessary expenses, including rent, groceries, gas, utilities, debt payments and other bills.

Then divide that number by 75% to calculate your target income.

That will be the minimum you need to earn each month. Anything left over can be used for discretionary spending or saving.

Live on last month’s revenue.

While salaried individuals know how much they’re going to bring in every month, people living on a variable income have no clue.

A long-term client could take an extended vacation or an assignment might be delayed indefinitely. One of my favorite ways to combat this uncertainty is to live on last month’s invoices.

If you grossed $3,000 last month, then you can only spend $3,000 this month — even if you project to make $4,500 this month.

This budgeting philosophy is all about spending the money you have, not the money you think will have. After all, things can and will go wrong every month. The technique also eases your cash flow, since many freelancers don’t get paid until 30 days after they’ve submitted an invoice.

Save most of your surplus.

A friend of mine who worked in the dance industry once told me about a mentor who would go designer shopping every time she got a choreography gig. These jobs paid exceedingly more than teaching gigs and left her with more cash than she was used to.

Instead of saving that dough, she’d go shopping for name-brand purses and clothes. I was shocked when I heard that story, but not surprised. It’s human nature to go on a shopping spree when you land a big windfall. However, budgeting responsibly (especially on a variable income) is all about denying those urges.

It’s ok to celebrate a new client or big project as long as you’re tucking some of it away for a rainy day. Try to save between 70% and 80% of your surplus income and enjoy the rest responsibly.

Keep an emergency fund.

Everyone who works for themselves has a slow period where the work seems to dry up. You can plan ahead for these months by having a larger-than-normal emergency fund.

I keep a six-month emergency fund since my husband and I are both self-employed. Having half a year’s worth of expenses keeps us afloat during the off-season. It’s a good buffer to have and prevents me from picking up a McDonald’s application when the work starts to dwindle.

Multiply your baseline income by how many months you want to save for. Most people with variable income should have between six months and a year’s worth of bills saved in an emergency fund.

Make your expenses the same every month.

One of my favorite ways to regulate my finances has been budget billing for our utilities. Most gas, water, and electric companies allow you to pay the same amount every month instead of the amount you use.

Having budget billing has simplified my finances since I know our water bill will be static, no matter the season. I don’t have to worry about high gas statements in the winter or AC costs in the summer. Contact your energy company to see if they offer this service.

Look for other ways to normalize your bills so that you have the same expenses each month.

Save by percentage, not dollar amount.

Writer Jackie Lam of Cheapsters became a freelancer after she got laid off at her full-time gig. To make the transition smoother, she started saving a percentage of what’s left over after she’s paid the bills, instead of a specific dollar amount.

For example, instead of saving $200 a month for a vacation, she sets aside 5% of her budget. Using percentages makes it easier to hit her savings goals, even if she hasn’t had the most productive month.

In busy times, she might save more than $200, and during slowdowns she might only save $100. That percentage tends to average out over the year.

It’s a way to feel a little more secure and avoid feeling like a failure if you don’t hit a set dollar amount.

Be your own CEO.

If you really miss the stability of office life, consider paying yourself a salary. Once you’ve calculated your baseline, it’s simple enough to choose a stable wage to take going forward. Overage income can be applied to your savings, while consistently coming in under budget can be a warning sign that it’s time to take a pay cut.

This isn’t exactly the most efficient method listed, but it can take a lot of psychological weight off of planning your finances. It’s simple. Pay yourself a little less than you typically make and save the rest.

Do you live on a variable income? How do you make it work? What’s your favorite budgeting technique? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Don’t sabotage your relationship with trash talk about your S.O. No matter how tempted you are to rag on your partner, keep it to yourself.

It’s a common TV and movie trope: there’s a woman sitting around with her girlfriends complaining about her husband. Each woman takes a turn talking bad about her man, all the while refusing to talk to him about it.

While it looks like harmless fun, this behavior is actually destructive for relationships.

Talking crap about your S.O. isn’t a fun pastime to do with your best friends. It’s a toxic habit that can destroy the foundation of your relationship.

Talk to your spouse, not about them.

You reinforce negative opinions.

You ever notice that the more you complain about something, the more negative you feel about it?

I’ve noticed there’s a huge difference between how I feel about something depending on if I’ve ranted about it for an hour or if I’ve simply let it go. Every sentence I say reinforces the negative thoughts in my head.

Marriage is also susceptible to negative talk. The more you complain about your spouse, the more your brain will reinforce those opinions — and the harder it will be to see anything positive.

If you want to have a happy marriage (or any relationship), you can’t inflate the negativity.

It’s O.K. to ask for advice from your friends. But it’s another thing altogether to trash talk your S.O.

Remember: this is the person you chose to be with. If you have respect for them and your relationship, you should keep quiet.

You make other people dislike your spouse.

Have you ever had a friend share something bad about their partner? What was it like the next time you saw them together? Did you think about what they’d told you? Were you able to look at the person the same way?

Every time you complain about your spouse to your friends or family members, you tarnish their perception of your partner.

Not only are you hurting your own opinion of your spouse, but you’re also ruining their relationships with other people without them knowing it.

That isn’t fair to your spouse, especially if you’re not bragging about them getting a raise at work or making a delicious cheesecake.

You’ll hurt their feelings.

Everyone has experienced finding out that someone they trusted was talking bad about them behind their back.

I can still remember every time someone close to me has done this. Imagine how your S.O. would feel if they found out what you were saying? Would they feel hurt, embarrassed, angry, ashamed?

If you think your spouse wouldn’t mind what you’re saying, then go ahead.

But if you have even the smallest inkling that your words could hurt them, you should stop. Long-term relationships are built on trust, and knowing that your partner is betraying you behind your back could destroy it completely.

When you get married, you enter a partnership that it’ll be you two against the world. Don’t break that agreement with trash talk.

It doesn’t help you figure it out.

There have been a few times when talking about my relationship problems with a friend has helped me see my husband’s point of view.

But unless you’re actively looking for a solution or a way to understand what they’re thinking, talking openly can make it worse.

The next time you feel tempted to dish about your S.O., question your motives. Are you trying to get an honest perspective from your friends or do you want someone to agree with you? Are you looking to see their point of view or for someone else to shit talk?

If you do get a friend’s advice and they disagree with what you’re thinking, don’t try to convince them. They might be seeing things from your partner’s point of view.

Talking crap to talk crap doesn’t help you work through the relationship issues. Any committed relationship takes work. And you don’t need to make that work harder.

What to do instead.

When I’m feeling upset, the first thing I turn to is my journal.

Writing out how I feel is the easiest way to let out my emotions without them affecting anyone else. I try to write down specifically why I’m feeling upset and then examine if what’s bothering me is worth bringing up.

If you’re having trouble articulating your problems, talking to a counselor can help. You can see one individually or as a couple. An objective third party can help you decipher what’s going on and how you can fix it together.

Anyone struggling to avoid complaining about their spouse should tell their friends why they’re trying to avoid it. Asking other people to help keep you accountable can make it easier to stay on track. Plus, it might help your friends to avoid repeating the habit.

If you’re complaining about the same topics, it’s likely time you discussed them with your spouse.

It’s easier to let them stay in the dark about what’s bothering you, but that’s a fast way to build a marriage full of secrets and lies. And that’s not a relationship that’s fulfilling on any level.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Sweet tooth out of control? It’s time to show your teeth who’s boss. Try these tips for getting over your sugar cravings.

Research shows eating too much sugar leads to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

Sugar has overtaken fat and carbs as the ingredient to avoid in food. Most of us know drinking a Diet Coke and eating a box of Chips Ahoy isn’t good for us, but we still do it.

Why?

Because sugar is addicting. Some scientists say it works like cocaine and other drugs, targeting the dopamine-releasing centers in your brain. Sugar makes you feel good in the moment and bad in the long-term.

What can you do if you’re trying to improve your health and cut back on that sweet stuff? Read below for our best tips on battling your sweet tooth:

Wait 15 minutes.

When that craving hits your brain, suddenly all you can think about is feeding your addiction. It can be an all-consuming feeling, but the key to breaking out of your addiction is to avoid giving in.

Tell yourself that you’ll have to wait at least 15 minutes before you satisfy your sweet tooth. During that break, your brain will have time to think about how you promised to get better and how crappy you’d feel if you relented. Many people find that after 15 minutes have passed, they don’t even remember the intense craving they had.

Keep a food journal.

When you feel like heading to the snack machine or your closest convenience store, take a second and stop.

Instead of giving in to your urges, keep a notebook with you to write down how you feel when those cravings arrive. Remind yourself why you decided to cut back on sugar and what your goals are.

When we have a craving, we’re determined to fulfill a short-term need. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels better in the moment, but afterward you just want to keep scratching.

A food journal can help you remember why you’re saying no to your sweet tooth and keep your long-term goal in mind. 

Avoid buying it.

Creating a new habit requires a lot of willpower that’s often in short supply. Instead of counting on yourself to always make the right decision, you have to start making it easier for yourself. Case in point: avoid buying sugary items.

If you buy a packet of Oreos, then every time you want to have some, you’ll be forcing your brain to make a difficult decision. A box of Oreos represents at least a few times you’ll have to decide between breaking your diet and staying on track.

The best way to avoid that scenario? Don’t buy the Oreos in the first place. Not buying the Oreos in the first place helps you avoid being forced to make a decision about them later. 

Reach for fruit.

Research says that there’s little difference between the sugar found in fruit and junk food. However, fruit usually contains essential fiber that will slow down how fast your body processes the sugar.

Instead of eating a Little Debbie snack, grab some fresh strawberries or cut up a banana. It’s a lot harder to binge on fruit than it is on Hostess snacks. Satisfy your sweet tooth with something healthier.

Combine it with protein.

You don’t have to give up sugar entirely to stay within your diet. But one way to decrease the effect more sugar can have is to pair a sweet treat with protein. If you want a piece of chocolate, have some almonds or walnuts with it. Pair a cookie with a glass of whole milk, which has more protein and Vitamin D than skim or 2%.

Protein will fill you up more and prevent you from eating five brownie bites. Peanut butter and almond butter are also good additions to some chocolate chips or ice cream. Your sweet tooth gets a little love, but isn’t taking over.

Avoid peer pressure.

The people around you will likely notice if you’re trying to change your eating. Some might criticize you and say things like, “One cookie isn’t going to kill you.”

It’s easy to give into peer pressure, especially if you feel uncomfortable or are in a workplace setting. But those people aren’t looking out for your best interests; they’re just trying to feel better about their own choices. When they see someone who’s making better decisions, they get insecure and want to tear that person down.

Instead, find someone you know who has a similar goal. You can help each other stay on track and vent when your cubicle neighbor is harassing you about eating their homemade brownies.

Eat mindfully.

When we eat something we crave, we likely hoover it down. Instead, try eating as slowly as possible and concentrating on what you’re ingesting. Eating mindfully has been shown to reduce overeating because it helps you appreciate the food you have.

This piece of advice might seem a little “woo woo,” but it can help you realize you only need one candy bar, not five.

Plus, the slower you eat, the more time your stomach has to truly signal that you are getting full.

In the end, we really are what we eat. So try not to eat so much crap.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Your friend’s politics are getting on your nerves. You need to figure out how to fix this without destroying the friendship.

When it comes to friendships, diversity makes all the difference.

It’s important to have things in common, but most solid relationships are built upon a foundation of complementary contrasts.

But as possible as it is for Yankees and Red Sox fans to be friends, some differences are harder to reconcile. When a friend or loved one holds an opinion that suggests a fundamentally different view of the world from your own, it can be painful and confusing.

You guessed it: I’m talking about politics.

Political views don’t define a person, but it’s easy to think that way in the wake of a challenging and polarizing political season.

Once you develop a negative opinion of someone based on their politics, it’s no easy task to scrub that feeling away – even if it’s an old friendship with lots of great memories.

If you want to preserve a healthy friendship or save a sinking one, here are some tips for when your politics and your friend’s politics just don’t match.

If you want to stay quiet.

During this past election, I was shocked at how differently some of my friends felt about who should be president.

I was so disappointed to think that someone I trust and care about could have such a fundamentally different view of the world. Sometimes loitered around Twitter and Facebook pages to see what they were posting, even when I didn’t plan on writing a response. I just wanted to follow my friends’ political discussions.

Eventually, I realized that if I wasn’t going to disagree with them publicly, it was pathetic to resentfully stalk their accounts. What I’d find would only disappoint and anger me. It can be so addicting to read comments and posts from people you disagree with, but unless you want to speak up it will only hurt your friendship.

If you believe that friendship and politics don’t mix, here are some strategies on staying sane for the next four years:

  • Block them on social media. Unless you see someone regularly, social media is the best way to stay in touch with them. It’s also the easiest way to find reasons to hate them. Unfollowing them on Facebook or Twitter can make it easier to maintain the friendship, especially if they’re particularly vocal about politics.
  • Install a browser extension. People began complaining about too much political content on social media during the presidential election. Now, developers have responded with browser extensions that scrub your news feeds of anything political. They’re not foolproof, but they can minimize how many political posts you see.
  • Talk to them personally. Asking your friend not to mention politics via text, email or social media is hard, but asking them in person is much easier. Tone is misunderstood less often when people are face to face or on the phone with each other.

If you want to speak up.

Of course, not all of us can or even want to stay quiet. Maybe you feel passionately about an issue. Whether you are disagreeing with your parents, other relatives, or friends, it’s important to be careful as you move forward.

Here are some suggestions on how to disagree with a friend’s politics without offending or upsetting them:

  • Seek to understand, not convince. Author Jason Vitug of You Only Live Once said in the last year he’s been surprised at how many loved ones he disagrees with on politics. Instead of ignoring what they say or arguing with them, Vitug tries to understand how they came to that conclusion and asks them why they believe what they do. Doing so has made him more compassionate and less dismissive. “I’ve learned for the most part that all of us want the best, but how we get there will differ,” Vitug said.
  • Find common ground. The differences between your mother-in-law’s politics and your own can seem like an irreparable gulf. Instead of focusing on what you disagree with, find opinions you have in common. The less you see someone as an enemy, the easier it will be to stay friends.
  • Learn their stories. Like Vitug, writer Julie Rains of Investing to Thrive said she asks people their reasons for holding a certain opinion. She often finds that their background informs their opinions more than she realized. She said it makes it easier to see their point of view after finding out what their stories are.
  • Avoid name-calling. Disagreeing about your friend’s politics is like arguing about any other topic. Once you start name-calling, a friendly disagreement can quickly turn ugly. No matter how heated the discussion gets, try to keep your cool. The more respectful you are, the better the chance for your message to get through – and for your friendship to survive.
  • Send a private message. Disagreeing on social media can turn sour quickly, especially when emotions are inflamed. The public nature of the medium can make that worse, allowing for strong opinions to pile up and aggravate everyone involved. If you’re tired of fuming quietly, consider reaching out to your friend privately. You’ll be able to work out your differences on a more personal level, rather than duking it out in front of all your followers.

It’s been a bruising political season, and things aren’t getting any easier for many of us. We need to view our friends’ politics like adults, and work to keep conversations civil.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Feeling trapped in our own life? You can get out of that rut. Here’s how to add a little more kick-ass to your life.

Just after college I found myself in a deep, deep rut.

I lived in a small midwestern town where I had no friends and worked a job that bored me. I struggled to find anything to feel passionate about. Every day felt the same, and my outlook on the future was pretty bleak.

Being in a rut changes the way you think. It catches you in a loop, blinding you to the endless options and divergent paths a life can take. You may know deep down that there’s another way, but realizing that change is harder than it sounds.

If you’re ready to make some alterations in your stagnant routine, here are some strategies to help you out of that life rut.

Make small changes.

Some people are tempted to drop everything “Eat Pray Love”-style to get out of their rut. While that kind of extreme experience works for some people, you really don’t need to leave the continent to fix your mood and get out of your life rut (although a real vacation can help).

Small changes add up to a big difference, and they’re much easier to implement. The idea of having a life-changing adventure might appeal to some, but plenty would be intimidated by the idea. Thinking small allows you to make incremental change without taking a big, scary leap.

For example, if you’re sick of your 30-minute drive to work, find a podcast or an audiobook to spice up the commute. I used to drive three hours one way to visit my then-boyfriend, and I’d load up my iPod with new music and “Fresh Air” interviews. The drive was still dull, but at least I loved one aspect of it.

If you’re eating the same meals for dinner every week, try adding in one new recipe from your favorite food blogger or from an ethnic cuisine you love. You’ll be surprised how far a little extra flavor goes, inside the kitchen and out.

Small changes, from adding a 10-minute walk in the morning to learning a new language, can help you feel a little more invigorated by life.

Invest in an experience.

The quickest way I’ve found to freshen my routine is by taking a class. Learning something new is challenging, uncomfortable and exciting – exactly what someone in a life rut needs.

Local community centers, colleges, and businesses offer classes on any topic. I’ve taken cooking, sewing, and financial planning classes. Right now, I’m signed up for improv and drawing. These courses make me feel like I can do anything – like I’m capable of more than I realize.

Studies also confirm that spending money on experiences instead of material goods makes people happier. The joy from a vacation or museum trip lasts longer than the thrill of a new purse or piece of furniture, no matter how tempting it might be to choose the latter.

Recognize your power.

Being in a life rut feels like you have no control over your life.

Instead of dwelling on your helplessness, make a list of things you can change. You can find a new workout, reconnect with old friends, set new goals at work, foster an animal, or change your hairstyle.

Your list can help you realize how much you can change by yourself. Sure, you might not be able to quit your job right away or move to a new city, but there’s nothing stopping you from salsa dancing every weekend or eating brunch at your favorite diner.

Here are some other suggestions transforming your life in ways you can change today:

  • Be grateful. Cultivating gratitude can perk up anyone who thinks their life is dull and pointless. Keep a journal where you list three things you’re grateful for, or recall the good things that happened that day before you go to bed. Soon you’ll learn how to do this throughout the day and make it a regular habit.
  • Enjoy the little things. During my senior year of college, I struggled with depression and anxiety. I remember complaining to my mom about how every day felt like the same routine. Her suggestion? “Drink a cup of tea and have a piece of chocolate.” I begrudgingly tried it, and was shocked at how much better I felt. It’s not a permanent fix, but small luxuries can break up a humdrum day quickly and cheaply.
  • Talk to a therapist. Sometimes a life rut can be fixed by a fun weekend or change in routine. Other times, it’s a symptom of depression that needs a professional’s help. A licensed counselor or therapist can identify exactly what’s bothering you. It might take a few sessions, so don’t expect overnight results.
  • Perform service. Helping someone else is one of the best ways to feel better. Researchers say volunteering boost happiness levels. You can find a regular volunteer position or a sporadic one, depending on your schedule. Sites like VolunteerMatch.org or Idealist list positions, or you can contact organizations individually.
  • Do something hard or new. At work, ask for more challenging assignments or collaborate on a new project. When I’ve found myself in a career rut, doing work outside of my job description let me expand my skills and try something new.
  • Talk to friends. Your friends might understand or feel the same way, so talk aloud about what you’re going through. They could have their own ideas on how to help, and sometimes just sharing your struggle with someone else is enough to make things seem a little more hopeful.

There are things we can’t control. But when you recognize your power and acknowledge the things you can change, you feel better at life. And you can see some of the ways to get out of your life rut and move forward with greater purpose.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!