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.

Are there any books that have greatly influenced your life? We’d love to hear about them over at #Adulting Facebook community!

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From money to relationships and everything in between, here’s the best advice from a panel of expert adults.

I know you won’t follow every piece of advice you’re about to read. Some of this won’t have anything to do with you, anyway. But bear with me.

That’s because I and the rest of the Adulting.tv team asked hundreds of people — some of them adults and others… “adults” — what advice they’d give their younger self. Some answered with very specific advice about opportunities they had at the age of 21. Some offered tidbits of wisdom they gained from making mistakes. Most didn’t answer at all.

Don’t worry — even if you take some advice to heart, you’ll still make mistakes in life. Mistakes are the best way to learn about yourself and how you can grow as a person.

But if you have the opportunity to avoid a few, you might as well take it. So let these certified adult experts help you.

Something in this fantastic round-up of advice will apply to you, at any age.

“21 wasn’t that long ago for me but I would say this: Choose a place to live that is inexpensive and allows you to save. Spending too much in rent can really hurt your ability to pay off your student loans, invest, and even travel the way you want to in the future.” Kevin Matthews II

“Don’t be afraid to try new jobs and careers. Like your actual life, your working productive life is a very long period of time and you’ll have many opportunities to switch and try new things. Don’t be afraid to do so, especially when you’re early and have less to risk!” Jim Wang

“Take the time to explore your priorities and hobbies, but make sure you have some buffer in your account. I ran out of money in my early 20s and found myself scrambling and unfulfilled. There is a way to be YOLO yet at the same time be responsible with your spending. Think about money as buying you time and choices instead of cool things, which was what I was most concerned about when I first graduated college.” Sarah Li-Cain

“Don’t always look to see what others are doing with money or what the current trend says you should be doing. Figure out what works for you… This also applies to starting a family, your career and pretty much anything else.”

“Don’t listen to people telling you that starting a business is the ultimate thing to do. Not everyone is built for it mentally or emotionally and it takes more than passion or an interest to make it a success. It’s more than acceptable to be an employee of someone else and plenty of people have lived great lives that way.” Eric Nisall

“Alcohol and sugar are overrated. Try sobriety and protein for a couple weeks.” Doug Nordman

“21 was just a few years ago for me, but the best thing I did and therefore the best advice I have is to start paying off debt ASAP, especially if you are single and don’t have children. I wasn’t dating anyone then, so I lived at home with family, worked 2 jobs and debt snowballed like crazy to pay off as much as I could so that someday when I got married I would be in a little less debt. It really helped, because when I got married at 23 a lot of the financial pressure was off since I had paid off about $17,000 worth of debt on my own. Also– be careful what major you pick in college! I graduated with a degree that I can’t do anything with, that I picked solely because the classes were fun and interesting. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go back to college for a second degree to actually get a decent job.” Bailey Kay Cummins

“Trust your gut. It will never steer you wrong with jobs (if you are getting a stomachache thinking about the promotion you feel like you have to take, you’ll probably quit 6 months later), with dating (if you feel leery about a guy, he’ll probably be the sort of guy who gets mad at you for being sad), with money (if it feels like a bad use of your money, it probably is). Don’t railroad over those gut feelings.” Emily Guy Birken

“At 21 years of age I was living in a dumpy apartment in a Philadelphia slum with a year-old baby. I had a permanent part-time job and no child support or government aid. As a result, I was so broke I did all our laundry (including the diapers) on a scrub-board. Here’s what I would tell my 21-year-old self. Tough times show us what we’re really made of and what we’re capable of accomplishing. Often, we later realize that what we perceived as misfortune was actually crucial to making us the people we have become. (And in fact, that’s happened.)” Donna Freedman

“At the start of your career, move into a cheap apartment that you hate (ideally with roommates). Why? You won’t want to spend any time there. That makes it easy to skip out on luxury utilities (tv, internet, etc) and expensive furniture. Lower expenses means more cash to put towards investments. You’ll also be able (and willing) to put in more hours at work, creating clear differentiation between you and your peer group. Hustling hard early on should produce a steeper compensation trajectory. Before you know it, you’ll be on a clear path to financial independence.” Eppie Vojt

“This fall you’re going to go through the Student Union at college. There will be a Citibank representative there soliciting students to apply for a credit card. Do not stop. Flip him both birds, yell, “F YOU!” at the top of your lungs and keep walking.” Travis Pizel

Start contributing to a Roth IRA and take advantage of all the tax benefits in retirement investing. Even if you can only afford $50 a month, those early contributions really add up over the years. Just one $50 investment can grow to $749 over 40 years on a 7% annual return. Now imagine you were able to make that $50 a month!”

“When you’re young and don’t pay much in taxes, you might not be getting such a benefit from the instant deductions of a 401k or a traditional IRA. This is when a Roth IRA makes the most sense. You don’t get an instant deduction but get to withdraw the money totally tax-free in retirement, that’s contributions and all earnings tax-free.” Joseph Hogue

“Find what makes you happy and then organize your life around that. Quit comparing yourself to others. Everyone moves at a different pace and has a different focus. What’s important is that you do what’s best for you. Not what’s best for your friends or others around you. Life is much more enjoyable when you do that.” Andrew Daniels

“I know you’ve spent the last 16 years of your life in school, but don’t stop learning now. Keep learning and mastering new skills whether they’re related to your work or not.” Julie Starnes Rains

“Don’t build a life that requires a financial partner. Make your own money and make sure you can support yourself if the shit hits the fan. It’s great to HAVE a financial partner, but it’s another thing to NEED one.” Morgan Marie Quinn

“My biggest revelation after wasting four years of college and working a dead end job was learning that the market doesn’t care about my passions (which were fickle anyway); the market rewarded professions that were IN DEMAND. So my job was to find a niche in the job market that married my skills and interests with jobs that were HIGHLY needed, and that small realization changed everything for me. I no longer felt guilty for “selling out” to make money, because by choosing a career that society valued it was a win-win for everyone.” Curtis Hearn

Negotiate everything! Your salary, purchases, and business deals. It’s a muscle that needs to be built and there is always an opportunity to build it.” Alanna Jackson Anthony

“Don’t underestimate yourself. You might not think you qualify for those scholarships, but you’d be wrong. You’ll be kicking yourself to find out later only five people applied for that $5,000 scholarship and you thought 1,000 people would apply! This goes for graduate school scholarships and TA positions. Just apply.” Melissa Hoffman

“Youth is time to experiment and have new experiences. Manage your money so you can do that. It’s a better investment than grad school for most people. Be bold. But always be able to support yourself.” Teresa Mears

“I’d tell my 21-year-old self to party less. I was a neo in my fraternity at the time and basically wasted a year in school partying. My priorities were not in order.” Jason Butler

“No one cares more about your finances, your career, or your health than you do. Learn about each and pay equal attention to each one so that you have a secure and balanced life for years to come. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Life happens. Let it.” Amy Savage Blacklock

Exercise. Find a workout routine that makes you feel great and make movement part of your life every single day. I don’t care what you do, whether it’s running or yoga or lifting or walking for miles or playing rec league sports, just find something that gets you physically active most days. Physical exercise benefits your bod, but it’s also an investment in your mental and emotional well-being (and staying healthy = less in healthcare costs). Getting into a workout routine only gets harder as you get older, so start now while it’s easier to work it into your day so it becomes a part of your long-term lifestyle.” Kali Hawlk

“Take a deep breath and understand career success doesn’t happen overnight. Every day when you get to work, it is a new opportunity to impress your team and keep up the momentum. But don’t stop side hustling. Don’t be afraid to invest a few bucks in your projects and stay focused!” Eric Rosenberg

“(1) Work for experience, not income, because eventually the experience will command a far higher income. (2) Buy rental real estate instead of renting and begin as early as possible. Beg or borrow the down payment if necessary. As long as the property is positive cash flow and financed with a fully amortizing, fixed rate mortgage your financial security is just a question of time, and time is why you want to start as early as possible. Rental real estate provides inflation adjusting income you can never outlive, and there’s not many investments you can say that about.” Todd R. Tresidder

“Invest in defense industries. They seem to be doing better and better.” Mason Handke

“Jump on Bitcoin and Ford stocks. In other words, when you see a good financial deal, take time to learn enough to invest in it and do it quickly. Also, skip that whole finishing college thing. You guys know what you want to do; just get your certs and get out. The lost earning potential will eat you up later. Don’t let anyone else tell you what God wants from you. You’re smart enough to figure it out yourself. You’re going to have a lot of ‘I wish…’ moments down the road when you realize you’re letting someone else control your moral compass. Lastly, take that trip to Costa Rica. Just do it. Once you have kids and a real job, it’s going to be so much harder to do. The money’s there. Take the opportunity.” Lacey Keller Smith

Save up so that you can travel and see the world. Don’t worry about a new pair of pants or about going out every weekend. Explore this planet.” Martin Dasko

“Ironically, my 21-year-old self had more money to save and invest than my 37-year-old self. I would have told him to do that. But more than that, start a business. The barrier to entry for many businesses like insurance companies, online companies, etc. is so low, starting it young means great rewards while you’re still young instead of when you’re older like most people. But even more than THAT, be creatively productive with free time. Back then I had GOBS of free time and I did a fair amount of writing, but nothing else I did really created. I was focused mostly on entertainment. Nowadays I have all kinds of desires to continue to be creative, but no time. But if I had started something back then it would have been easier to *continue* working on my passion instead of trying to add time in my day for things I’m passionate about.” Greg Hamblin

“If you make $N per hour and can pay someone to clean your house (or other tasks) for $M per hour, and N>M, pay someone to clean your house while you work more. Now don’t forget to work the extra hours.” Brad Cole

“Open a Roth IRA.” Rhiannon Fox

“Don’t be so serious. Let things roll and have some fun. Explore more. Don’t be so afraid of life.” Joe Saul-Sehy

“Don’t get married!” Arantza Zabala

“You have another half-dozen major failures and reboots in front of you. Don’t take them so hard. Don’t bother getting complexes. Be more focused on what you can and can’t control and fight the one in spite of the other.” Rodney Staton

“Don’t be afraid. Although life can be scary, it is also worth it to face that fear. Don’t give up on your self. What most other people think if you doesn’t matter, especially those who dont like you. Don’t let those people decide your future. That have no investment in you! Work hard! Nothing is easy.” Laurie Clark-Jacobson

“If it is important, financially, it will still be there a week later. Be happy. Don’t take life too seriously.” Morgan Dayna McKinnon

“Do not look for someone else to make you feel good or happy. Try if you can to be secure in yourself. If you are looking, look for someone with same morals, values, and expectations. If your future is to be together your values will allow you to work together on any obstructions that come up. Values discussed before a close relationship, married or not, is key to enjoyment of one another.” Lenorah DeAngelis

“Jäger is NEVER a good idea. Neither is tequila. That petty thing or person you’re overly stressed about now? Let it go. It most likely won’t be there in one year and it doesn’t deserve your energy. See also: people who make you cry for stupid reasons. No one else’s opinion of you matters more than your own. Plan for all the things but don’t plan so much you can’t handle whatever is thrown at you. All those things people in their 30s and 40s tell you? It’s solid advice. Don’t dismiss it. They know their shit (or pretend like they do).” Jana Lynch

“Start early and always save a portion of your paycheck. Try to make it be the same each week.” George Morrison

“Figure out the monies. Know how much your life costs, how to minimize, save, and spend wisely. Never be without at least a month’s expenses in savings. Avoid student loans at all costs.” Lindsay Johnson Nuesca

“Find something you are really good at and make a business.” Kade Marquez

“Invest your money instead of wasting it on all the crap you’re about to buy. Oh yeah, and start a blog — the internet is not a fad.” Tom Drake

“Life is not going to turn out the way you think sweetie, but don’t worry, you are gonna make it and it’s gonna be GOOD.” Charlotte McLendon Baker

“When I spoke to a group of middle-schoolers earlier today I took them on a journey. I told them that I’ve been at my job for 10 years. And I showed them the importance of being picky with how they spend their money. I said 10 years ago, when I started my fancy pants engineering job I could have spent $5 per day on Starbucks coffee. Instead I bought Starbucks stock and now it has tripled in value! And I showed them different examples showing how those small choices made a huge impact! Crystal Hammond

“When you meet people always ask how you can help them achieve their goals, or how you can be helpful in general, and then help them. Never expect anything directly in return but forming those early bonds, and staying in touch will serve you well for your entire life.” Bobbi Rebell

“Get an IUD. ” Elyssa Jean Kirkham

“Make self development a habit. It will take you from good to great.” Felix A. Montelara

“Travel while you can! I didn’t have the travel bug back then. Once you get kids, the game changes. Both time and money are in very short supply. At 21, travel. David Leonhardt

“If you truly believe in your stance, hold firm. People will try to intimidate you, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Applies to just about every part of life.” Kay Bell

“So strange. My nonlinear, unplanned, dirt poor youth doesn’t look at all troubling to me. Maybe just… invest in Microsoft.” Dean Ferguson

“Never marry someone who makes you cry.” Sherri Bible

“Travel. Leave your bubble and visit somewhere where you don’t speak the language; it’s even better if you can live in another country for a while. When you come home, start planning the next trip. Don’t let having kids deter you from traveling; it involves a bit more planning, but they only make it better. Pay off your student loans ASAP then save; you really don’t need a lot of material items. Spend your money on experiences (see first paragraph) and save your money.” Leslie Smith

“No matter your culture, it is okay to be single in your 20s. Discover yourself rather than discovering others, as this will be the one opportunity you have to do so.” Brynne Conroy

“Research is the key to everything related to finances. From renting a place to live and the utility payments required when you move in, to car knowledge when you go shopping for a car. Building credit and how to do it right. Relationships? Be smart, don’t just jump in. Know what matters to you and make those things important in your relationships. Oh, and credit is IMPORTANT. Don’t fuck that up.” Nik Thurnbeck

“Plan well for your retirement. Put away more than you think you can. Stretch! The time sneaks up on you – enjoy yourself some now, enjoy yourself a LOT later – you’ll deserve it! Also, be as good as you can to others — don’t leave anything to regret (oh there will always be regrets — so try to keep them to a minimum) I really think that’s the most important piece of advice. Be kind, be good. Be honest. Especially with yourself. Please keep your promises — every one. If you don’t think you can keep it, don’t make it. Sounds hokey, huh? But its true. Live the very best life you possibly can every day. Respect nature. Look to nature for lessons on life. The more you look at animals, birds, and just nature around us, the more you can understand about human nature. Seek simple affirmations and actualization. The more actualized and complete you feel, the easier it is to be satisfied by the little things. Now to take my own advice – early to bed and early to rise – huh, I wish! Oh one more — Polonious – Act I Scene III – Hamlet: ‘Neither a borrower or a lender be.’ Oh boy, I really mean that one!” Shari Berman Landes

“Always be nice. And don’t sweat the small stuff.” Wendie Berman Biegel

“People will show you who they are.” Jenna Carpenter Smith

“Spend time alone. You don’t have to be in a relationship all the time, and certainly don’t judge your worth based on whether you’re single or in a relationship. Learn to love yourself first.” Chris Kilian

“Don’t pour yourself into a man who doesn’t care enough to do the same for you.” Magdalen Sheffield

“All these responsible things but also make sure you have fun and travel in your 20s. Don’t be so work focused because your 30s, if you have kids, could be very very very boring.” Christina Marie

“Never be afraid to be who you truly are. Do all the things!” Aaron Sheffield

“Don’t worry about how successful other people are. It’s not a contest, and if it were, it would be a marathon, not a sprint.” Francesca Pellegrino

“Go to Vanguard and take the spot at Mystique. You’re gonna change jobs anyway.” Sean McReady

“Life isn’t a race. There’s no rush to finish college in 4 years. It’s OK to be the last of your friends to get married, have kids, buy a house, have a career. Life is a journey to be enjoyed. You will accomplish your goals when the timing is right.” Elizabeth Buono

“Travel as much as you can and don’t be in a hurry to settle down.” Nakki A. Price

“Follow your instinct. It’s usually right. Don’t be afraid to say no.” Danielle Marone

Wait for a job that you will LOVE!! Travel a lot! And never settle!!” Lauri Kane

“First you need to know the most important investment to make is in yourself. Strengthen your weaknesses. Fortify your strengths. Sometimes maybe go out of your comfort zone. Find yourself at a job. It may pay the bills and take care of your family but something that you don’t hate going to do everyday. Start at Step 1. Investments, credit, all of that stuff comes later. If you can’t manage yourself you can’t manage the rest of that stuff. Be successful at managing yourself and that’s when those other options start opening up. That’s when you start considering them.” Colin R Gelles

“If it’s working, it’s working. A messy, backwards, or unconventional approach to something doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I’ve finally learned to accept the way I live, create, and give, and it doesn’t look like anyone else’s. All kinds of people are needed to make this world work, so ignore what you’ve heard in the management, productivity, and success books. If you are working at your best and comfortable with the process, that is what matters. I wish I wouldn’t have fought against convention for all these years and just accepted my way. What a waste of time!” Linsey Knerl

“Make — and especially keep — more social connections. Your friends can become your support network (emotional and business) as you all gain more experience and responsibility.” Virginia Rich Diaz

“Listen to yourself and learn to trust what you hear.” Alan Steinborn

“And carpe diem!” Sally Dikowitz

“Try to prepare for things like illness, accidents, etc. and the possibility you may not be able to work at some time, you never know!” Pamela A. Parker

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Leap outside your comfort zone. Try something new. Fail. And grow into the life you want.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Life stuck in a rut? Feeling low on confidence? Maybe you need to conquer life by stepping outside your comfort zone. Martin Dasko joins us to talk about bold challenges and how trying new things changed his own course.

You can improve your confidence as you seek the life you want to live, and the key to doing so is getting comfortable with taking on bold challenges.

Martin Dasko is the founder of Studenomics. His alter-ego is the Latin Lover, a villain in Toronto’s semi-pro wrestling scene. Martin is the author of several books, including Next Round’s On Me and So, You Want to Drive for Uber? He is also a co-host of Do You Even Hustle?, a podcast about business and sales in real life.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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

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

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

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

That is not a business or personal model for success.

Spend time with other awesome people.

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

See what I did there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know what they say about excuses, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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You could spend your whole life chasing the dream of more money. But to what end? Figure out how much is enough – and be happier for it.

Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to acquire too much money? I haven’t had that problem, but do plan on discovering what this problem feels like in the future.

But, in all seriousness, how on earth do you decide how much money is enough for you? I have some ideas and thought I would share so that you can have an easier time figuring this out when you have this issue.

Consider your current life circumstances.

I thought I would approach this problem with some Michelle logic. First, it feels obvious the amount of money that you need will change given your current life circumstances. If you’re single and debt-free, the amount of money that you may need and want may be significantly different from a person who is in a relationship, has kids, and a few bills.

Likewise, your past and current life experiences may have a direct effect on how you arrive at the actual number that is your financial sweet spot.  For some of you, early childhood experiences of not having enough money may make it difficult for you to  imagine ever having enough. In fact, your childhood financial experiences may resonate through future decisions such as: the type of work you may choose to pursue, the way you would like to live your life, and even who you plan on marrying.

Figure out your financial sweet spot.

Here’s some general guidelines on figuring out how much money is enough for you.

Ask yourself, are you sick of your job and have lost interest in earning money in the way that you currently are? Yes, this seems a bit counterintuitive, but stick with me. Before I began working for myself, I worked at a university making decent money (especially when you factored in the benefits).

But, there came a point when I just wasn’t interested in earning more money. In fact, while I want to experience earning ridiculous amounts of money in the future, at that specific moment in time I just wanted to change my life. So, I focused on figuring out my lowest earning threshold. What was the bare minimum I need to make in order to live without eating ramen noodles?

I started crunching numbers and figured out what I could live on and still manage paying on my obligations. It was glorious….until, it wasn’t.

Don’t be afraid to shift your goals as your needs change.

My needs had changed. I now find myself looking at future financial goals and have realized that I want to make a lot more money than I currently am. And, I definitely don’t have a maximum earnings threshold. In fact, I felt like I wanted to earn as much money as I could possibly earn without burning myself out. I don’t want to place limits on my ability to earn.

I can honestly say that I look forward to pushing myself as much as possible to see how much money I can earn. In fact, for the next 12 months in my mind there is no “enough” it’s how much is possible? I spent time frantically crunching numbers, I looked at my goals and figured out daily earnings goals. Then I focused on how to achieve those goals.

Finally, spend some time focusing on what makes you happy? There are various studies that have linked happiness to money and studies that have found the exact opposite. There’s also a widely reported study that noted that people weren’t significantly happier when they earned beyond $75,000 a year.

Recently, I’ve gotten very clued into what makes me happy. And, knowing this has helped me zero in on how much money is enough. Some examples of what makes me happy include:

I’ve discovered that my needs aren’t that complicated or expensive.

I took a numbers and heart-based approach to deciding how much money is enough for me. Ultimately, I just want enough money that gives me stability and freedom. And, yes, more money is always better than less.

What are some considerations you use in determining how much money you need? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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

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

Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Ditching small-town life.

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

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

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

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

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

A big city can mean empty pockets.

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

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

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

More jobs are going to smaller cities.

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

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

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

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

Smaller cities allow for geographic arbitrage.

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

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

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

Smaller cities can mean bigger pockets.

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

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

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

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A 5-year plan doesn’t have to be a boring cliche. Instead, create a kick-ass plan that adds meaning and purpose to your life.

It’s one of the most common questions in a job interview: what is your 5-year plan?

While you might have the right answer to give to the HR rep interviewing you, you might not know what you actually want to accomplish in your life.

Do you want to stay on the trajectory your career is on? Or do you dream about switching fields?

Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to make significant changes in your life and to fulfill your dreams. Read below to find out how to create a 5-year plan that gives you purpose.

Make a list of your dreams.

The key to creating a plan that will add value, purpose, and meaning to your life is to determine what the end goal is.

Do you dream about starting your own business or switching to a new industry? Or do you want to leave home and travel the world?

Before you can hammer out the details of a plan, you need to start with the end goal.

“Once you have an idea of what you truly want, it gets easier to work backward on the milestones you need to hit to get there,” said Elle Martinez of Couple Money.

So think of what your end goal is. Is it to stay home with your kids and not have to worry about money? Is it being able to take care of your parents full-time? Or do you want to devote yourself to the nonprofit you care so passionately about?

The idea here isn’t to reach your goals next week. You create a 5-year plan so that you can make reasonable, achievable steps. It’s about progress.

Once you know what your ultimate passion is, you can start to work backward to determine what your next steps are.

Talk to an expert.

Sometimes you need help if you’re trying to figure out what to do with the next five years of your life. After you’ve exhausted your significant other, your best friends, and your family, it’s time to find someone who knows what’s up.

Try to find an expert in the field that you’re interested in. This can be someone who graduated from the same college as you, someone active in the community, or even a person you admire that you found on Twitter.

Don’t limit yourself to local people, if you can’t find anyone who fits your description. You can contact people via Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform they might have. If you know where they work, you can reach out there.

Before you meet up, bring a list of questions with you. Nothing annoys a busy person more than someone who’s asked for a favor and who’s not prepared for it. You can create a 5-year plan that is reasonable after talking with someone who’s been there. You can create meaning and be realistic about where you’re headed with a little outside perspective.

Always send a thank-you note afterward, either by email or the traditional snail mail route. Keep in touch with that person and don’t always be asking them for a favor. You want the relationship to be reciprocal.

Follow what interests you.

For most of my high school and entire college career, I dreamed of becoming a newspaper reporter. I read the best writers, wrote as much as I could and shadowed reporters I admired. But then I got my first real reporting job at a small newspaper in Northwest Indiana and hated it.

I worked evenings and covered fires, robberies, and car accidents. In a town of 30,000, the topics we covered sometimes felt trivial.

It was then that I started blogging about living frugally. I had decided I wanted to pay off my student loans early and was trying to learn all I could about personal finance. I started reading books and blogs and finally asked my boss if I could start a blog at work about living frugally.

That’s how I discovered I loved writing about money, especially from my own point of view. I found myself focusing more on the blog than on my other assignments, and people noticed. When I left that gig to work at a nonprofit, I started my own blog. That led to the freelance writing career I have now.

If you’re not happy with where your life is going, you need to figure out where your passion truly lies. Sometimes you can only do that by giving something a trial run. There’s nothing wrong with including stepping-stone jobs and trial runs as you create a 5-year plan.

Make it real.

Sometimes it’s not enough to keep a dream in your head. You have to visualize and make it real. Try creating a vision board with images that reflect your dream and the path you’ve chosen to follow. Include quotes and inspirational figures of people you admire. You can also use a life map to set your course.

Don’t be afraid to share your dream with other people. You never know who will have the right connection or give you the best piece of advice. Plus, when people hear your dreams, they might be inspired to give their own a test drive.

The more comfortable you are with expressing your true desires, the less afraid you’ll be to really take on a new challenge.

As you create a 5-year plan meant to give the next few years of your life purpose, keep in mind that you will need to figure out the next years after that. Keep revising and updating as your purpose changes. As long as you are moving forward, and you are able to take steps to reach your goals, your life will have purpose.

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