Don’t let the holiday music and parties get you off your game. Here’s how to enjoy the season while keeping things together!

I live in Colorado and as I’m writing this we are gearing up for our first snow day…even though the weather has been near 80 degrees for the past couple of days. Weather whiplash is a very real thing and so is decreased productivity during the holiday season and colder months.

This year has been epically crazy, so a lot of people will probably be caught off guard by the fact that the holiday season is just around the corner. OMG. You’re probably having a minor panic attack as you read that sentence and I’m right there with you. I’m freaking out because the holidays have historically killed my productivity if I don’t have a well-thought-out plan.

Let’s plan together and stay on top of things.

Work your schedule.

First, spend some time reviewing your schedule from October through January. Why those four months in particular? They are the four months where people begin to shop more, celebrate the holidays, and have a substantial uptick in personal plans.

Those plans may include: trips to visit relatives or friends, holiday parties, going to the theater, or hosting an event at your home.

Grab your planner and write down as many of those events as possible so that you have a clear idea of what’s coming up. Then, remove any event or activity that isn’t 100% necessary from your schedule. By taking the action of removing unnecessary events from your schedule you’re creating a buffer in your schedule and freeing yourself from obligations that will ultimately distract you from taking care of the things that are important.

Fall in love with the word NO!

The holiday season tugs on many people’s emotions. As a result, people may find themselves saying “yes” to activities that are a distraction. People may also need to say “no” when asked to participate in activities with emotional vampires.

You’re probably wondering how an emotional vampire affects your productivity? Well, they suck your energy dry. If drama ensues (and it typically does) with an emotional vampire, you’re getting sucked into calls recapping and discussing whatever imagined drama that the emotional vampire is upset about.

Saying “no” will be one of your most powerful productivity tools this holiday season. You’ll thank me later! On the flipside of this, say “yes” to activities with people that will lift you up and fill you with joy.

Shop from home.

In the age of Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, Thrive Market, and Safeway grocery delivery, why on earth do you still insist on going to the grocery store several times a week? On Saturday or Sunday take some time to review your upcoming week. Create a meal plan and order your groceries or a meal kit service.

If you’re needing new clothes, order them instead of going to the store, and if you’re feeling especially focused on embracing systems to make your life easier, you may consider scheduling someone to help with cleaning during weeks when you have a ton of guests or just an especially hectic schedule. Don’t clean before the cleaners arrive – that’s a waste of your time!

Spend time getting ahead wherever you can. Here are some personal and professional examples:

  • If you celebrate Thanksgiving and plan on having guests that weekend, begin planning NOW. Start picking up non-perishable items such as: condensed milk, extra aluminum foil, the baking pan for the turkey, or canned cranberry jelly. Or, you could order a pre-made meal and save your time for spending time with friends and family.
  • Work backward on your projects. What do I mean by this? Look at the projects you’re currently working on and spend time getting ahead of those projects by looking at the end result you’re working towards. Figure out the deadline for those tasks and then work backward from that deadline. You’ll most like complete those projects faster and you’ll also create a time buffer because you’ll be ahead of your schedule.
  • Digital content creator? Blogger or Podcaster? Spend some time scheduling your content ahead (building a content buffer) similar to what was mentioned during the previous point.

Part of managing and maintaining your productivity is acknowledging that you can’t do everything and that the holiday season is a constant process of balancing:

  • Your expectations
  • Other people’s expectations
  • Social Commitments
  • Work

Maintaining your productivity during the holidays ultimately requires you to give yourself some grace, focus on one day at a time, and have realistic expectations of what you can do for you and what you can do for others.

Do you have any good tips to share? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Credit is a lot like a game. You don’t want to lose.

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Everywhere you look, someone wants to know your credit score. The credit game is serious business. It can impact whether or not you can get a loan for your home, and can even influence your auto insurance rate in some states.

In fact, there is some indication that your credit matters when you’re looking for a date. Increasingly, the credit game is part of the dating game.

So, what do you need to know about credit? And how can you make sure that your credit is good credit? Harlan and Miranda tackle this issue in this week’s episode.

Concepts

  • Your credit report vs. your credit score.
  • The basics of how a credit score is calculated.
  • Different scoring in the credit game.
  • What has the biggest impact on your credit score?
  • How to check your credit report and credit score.
  • Tips for staying on top of your credit situation.
  • How to develop good credit habits that can result in a good score.

For this week, our DO NOWs are about making sure you are checking your credit and financial accounts regularly. Check your credit report, set up with a consumer credit site, and create a schedule for monitoring your accounts.

This week, a reader asks how they can repair their credit. With the credit game, though, you don’t always need someone else to take care of business. We talk about what a credit repair company can — and can’t — do.

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Check your credit report.
Credit scores matter in dating

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What is it like to be financially independent? Doug Nordman from The Military Guide shares his story.

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

Harlan and Miranda talk to Doug Nordman from The Military Guide about his lifestyle of financial independence. What is it like to live as an adult without having to worry about money? Is this a dream for everyone? We’ll talk about how to make financial independence an attainable goal.

Watch the video above or listen to the audio podcast below.

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

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Unpaid internships suck. Make the most of a shitty situation.

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One of the common themes of the college experience is the internship. So often, it’s required to graduate. And, even if it’s not, many people feel like an internship is necessary in order to get practical work experience.

But just because an internship is necessary, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually useful. In recent years, controversy has surrounded unpaid internships, thanks to some shady practices by some companies.

Before you decide to go for an internship — especially one that’s unpaid — listen to this week’s episode.

Concepts

  • Advantages of some internships.
  • How to make good connections with an internship.
  • Drawbacks to internships.
  • The problems with unpaid internships.
  • How to make the most of your experience, even if the situation isn’t ideal.
  • A look at the federal guidelines governing internships.
  • Tips for managing an unpaid internship when you really can’t afford it.

This week, DO NOWs are about deciding whether or not an internship is worth it, and then taking steps to get the best possible position.

This week’s listener question deals with weighing the pros and cons of different types of internships. When does it make sense to take an unpaid internship over one that’s paid?

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Resources

Useless unpaid internships.
Are unpaid internships exploitive?

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If you can handle a credit card like an adult, you might as well maximize the benefits! These best credit cards offer bonuses and other perks.

Updated for October 2017! Handling your finances like an adult includes knowing how to deal with credit cards. We all make mistakes sometimes. For me, it was taking a cash advance from a credit card when I hit my personal rock bottom. I felt like I didn’t have any other choice.

But years later, I’ve turned the tables on the credit card industry and now use credit cards to earn cash back and collect points for free travel, which I do often.

Here are my picks for the best credit cards across the different types of credit card offers that are available today. Note: all credit card deals are only worthwhile if you pay your balance off in full each month, like a proper adult. If you have to pay interest or a late payment fee, forget about maximizing credit card offers. Focus on getting your finances in shape first.

Best credit card bonus (for the not-so-typical adult).

Chase Sapphire Reserve 50,000 Bonus Points. Unfortunately, Chase has ended its 100,000 bonus points offer that was available when applying from within a Chase branch. What Chase offers now is the reduced bonus point offer of 50,000 points, for which you can still apply online. That’s still pretty substantial. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, not waived the first year, but you will receive a reimbursement of up to $300 for certain travel expenses like checked-bag fees.

The rest of the benefits may be worth the $150 difference between the reimbursement maximum and the fee. You’ll need to spend $4,000 on the card within the first three months to receive the bonus. Get the 50,000 bonus points and you’re straight fire.

Best cash back credit card offer (for adults who like money).

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. The keys to a good cash back card are avoiding the annual fee, eliminating any hassle to retrieving the cash you earn, and finding a cash-back rate that’s above the average offer. 1% cash back is easy to find, but Blue Cash Everyday beats that with 3% cash back on groceries (limited), 2% at gas stations and certain department stores, and 1% on everything else.

There is currently a bonus offer, too. Apply now to earn $200 in cash back after spending $1,000 within the first three months.

Best travel rewards credit card offer (for adults who have places to be).

BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card. If you’re looking for a travel rewards credit card, you should expect to find features that make travel easy. The biggest benefit, especially for the world traveler, is having no foreign transaction fee. Bank of America’s offer makes that happen, and does not charge an annual fee, either.

You earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, unlimited, and those points are redeemed for a statement credit that covers flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees. There’s no need to convert points to miles or points with a specific airline or hotel chain. Because you use the card normally to pay for your travel expenses, there are no black-out dates.

Right now, this card is offering 20,000 bonus points which can be used to book airfare or hotel stays without restrictions.

Best balance transfer credit card (for adults who need to simplify).

Bank AmeriCard. If there’s one thing you want from a credit card you wish to use to transfer a balance, it’s the lack of a fee. If there’s another thing you want, it’s a low interest rate so you can pay off that balance transfer without any extra costs. BankAmericard has the perfect offer. For the first 60 days, you can transfer balances from your other cards for free, and you’ll have 15 months to pay off that balance without paying a cent in interest (0% APR) as long as you pay at least the minimum due each month.

This is the perfect opportunity to consolidate your balances across several cards and create one manageable, monthly payment. But pay the balance in full within the 15-month period! As a bonus, your purchases during the first 60 days will also be treated to the same 0% APR for the first 15 months.

Best credit card offer for students (for adults who are trying to adult).

Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students. I got my first credit card in college. I signed up and got a free tee-shirt. You get more when you are approved for Citi’s card for college students, probably the credit card offer with the most chill. There’s 2,500 bonus points available for those who sign up, and you have to spend only $500 in the first three months to qualify.

The purpose of a student card is to help you build credit, so don’t expect too many frills besides the basic rewards and introductory 0% APR for 7 months.

Best small business credit card (for adults who think they’re important).

Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express. This is the standard, and if you’re building your business beyond yourself, this is a great choice. Watch out for the $175 annual fee (waived for the first year) with the AmEx Business Gold Rewards Card. But, there’s currently a 50,000 bonus points offer, requiring only $5,000 in purchases over the first three months.

This is a charge card, not a credit card, so you pay your bill in full every month.

Best credit card for building credit (for adults who are just starting to adult).

Discover it Secured Credit Card. Building credit can be difficult if you didn’t have certain advantages growing up, like parents who had their own solid credit and a desire to ensure you were starting your adult life with good credit. Without those benefits, creating a solid financial future for yourself and your family will have more obstacles.

Secured credit cards help establish credit, which allows you to qualify for better mortgage rates (or a mortgage at all) when the time comes, better interest rates for other loans, better prices on insurance, and even better apartments. While you’ll be approved for the Discover it Secured Credit Card without a credit history, this is more than just a basic card. You earn cash back on every purchase (limited) and receive your FICO credit score for free.

What’s in your wallet?

Tell us what kind of card (or cards) you have. And what’s the best feature or you? Cash back, travel rewards, or something else?

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Certain things go as you get older. Is your cognitive ability a casualty? Learn what you can do to keep your skills sharp.

Why is the scenario below a common occurrence in my everyday life?

Me: Hi, I’m John.
Maximus Lazarus Falcon: Hi, John. I’m Maximus Lazarus Falcon.
Me: It’s nice to meet you.
Maximus Lazarus Falcon: It’s nice to meet you, too.
Me: Um, what’s your name again?

Now that I’m in my 40s, one might claim that I’m starting to suffer from a decline in cognitive skills. Au contraire! I’ve always lacked such cognitive skills. I’ve been struggling to remember people’s names for as long as I can remember anything.

What are cognitive skills?

As LearningRx.com says, “Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. Working together, they take incoming information and move it into the bank of knowledge you use every day at school, at work, and in life.”

A common belief is that we lose our cognitive skills as we age. The truth is that we gain our cognitive skills between birth until about 18 to 20 years old. At that point, some cognitive skills decline, and some continue to improve. Even in our older age, as some cognitive skills decline, other stay stable.

The reason why I couldn’t remember people’s names in my 20s is likely because I lacked cognitive attention skills. I’m not ADD or ADHD. I just lacked and maybe continued to lack solid cognitive attention skills. As I age, my inability to recall people’s names whom I’ve met less than six times (apparently) could be attributed to a decline in my cognitive memory skills.

What cognitive skills tend to improve with age?

Cognitive intelligence skills tend to improve and outperform younger people only because older people have acquired more knowledge and experience over time. Likewise, reason and problem-solving skills tend to develop because every year a person doesn’t die they’ve rationalized and solved more problems. Coming up with a solution for an older person may take longer than for a younger person, but they can find a solution, and often a better one, because of their history. Consequently, wise people in movies, think Yoda, tend to be or look much older.

Another cognitive skill that may improve or, at least, stay consistent until much later in life is cognitive attention skills . Therefore, a three-year-old can’t sit still for three minutes, and a 40-year-old can listen to a two-hour lecture on cognitive skills.

Another cognitive skill that typically improves or maintains homeostasis is language proficiency. Older people have lived longer and, therefore, have heard, read and used more words. An expected improvement is vocabulary is why we expect our wise, old sages to use more than one and two-syllable words or to use more than 140 characters to make important policy decisions.

What cognitive skills tend to decline with age?

Aging isn’t all roses and sunshine. Some cognitive skills do decline. That’s why you get upset when driving behind an older person.

Memory is often the first cognitive skill to be recognized as declining. By now, it’s almost expected and, at first, it’s humorous. I have three nieces and no matter whose name I’m trying to recall, I always recall the other two first. This why we chuckle when we walk into another room to get something only to forget the very thing we went into that room to get.

Of course, the humor may someday end. For this reason, it’s scary when an older adult goes missing. We’ve all heard the stories of older people who went for a drive and ended up hundreds of miles away in another state.

How can you maintain or slow the decline of cognitive skills?

As with our physical and mental health, best maintaining cognitive skills comes down to “use it or lose it.” That is, of course, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as an illness, accident or disease.

Exercise more

Also along the lines of physical and mental health, physical exercise is one of the best ways to fight the decline of cognitive skills. Studies show that just 60-minutes of exercise three times a week has a positive effect on cognition. So, get moving, no matter how old you are. I recently read that 40 is the new 20. Join me in getting fit!

Stimulate your brain

Learn something new. Try a new hobby. Watch documentaries and foreign language movies. Read more, especially on topics that make you think. Play games such as crossword puzzles, chess, Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, Poker, Rummy and even Memory.

All these will make your brain work and keep it working longer. So, start playing, just avoid betting when playing. For more brain stimulation, add more culture to your life.

Stay positive and reduce stress

Depression and isolation have been shown to have an adverse effect on the elderly in numerous ways, including causing a decline in cognitive skills. Research indicates that “not only do we know of the cognitive deficits present during acute depression episodes but we also know that some cognitive deficits do not completely go away even when depression is in remission.”

Look for ways to stay social and engaged with friends and family. As we age, we tend to want to stay home. This is the exact opposite of what we should do.

It’s, also, beneficial for us to engage in creative ways to stay positive. It’s impossible to stay depressed when you’re dancing naked in your living room or surrounded by amazing people – but maybe don’t do both at the same time – well, why not? Go ahead and dance naked in your living room surrounded by awesome people.

The takeaway is that some decline in cognitive skills is inevitable, however, in many cases, we can at least slow that decline. Likewise, some things get better with age, so it’s not all negative. The more aware we are of the signs of declining cognitive skills and the more steps we take to slow that decline, the better.

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Living healthier takes time, commitment, and information. If you have a phone, you have the information, the rest is up to you.

The gig-economy isn’t great only because it makes working excellent and entrepreneurship more accessible. I love the gig-economy because it is also creating mic-dropping technology.

The gig-economy created Uber and Lyft that has elevated the taxiing experience. It has brought us robotic crop pickers. The gig-economy has made waiting 36 hours for my Amazon package a long time!

There are other ways life is getting better. Picture it! Ten years ago, a little company called Apple invented something smaller called the iPhone and this made phones “smart.” Finally, there was a device small enough to fit in a pocket that played music and people could talk to and text with each other on it.

The world was amazed.

That little Apple, though, knew the greatest part of its invention was its “app technology.” Now anyone could create technology to add to these phones that improve life in the 21st Century. One such way apps are helping humans is with healthier living. Below are some of my and my friend’s favorite healthy-living apps. Try some and live healthier, too.

Exercise.

Zombies, Run!

As a fan of running and a bigger fan of The Walking Dead – so much so I’m even still watching Fear the Walking Dead – I’ll start with my personal favorite. Zombies, Run! combines a little virtual reality, gaming, music and fartlek.

That’s right. I said fartlek. Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play” and is an efficient way to lose weight and get in shape because it fluctuates the heart rate.

Zombies, Run! plays music while you run and notifies you when a zombie starts chasing you. If you don’t speed up, you’ll die. Not really, but it’s fun to pretend. There are 200 missions, and you’ll collect supplies and points as you go.

7 Minute Workout

Have 60, even 30 minutes to exercise? Me, either. The amazing gig-economy isn’t putting more hours in the day. That’s why I love the 7 Minute Workout app because I can usually find 7 minutes to workout, sometimes 14, sometimes 21 and . . . you get the picture.

The 7 Minute Workout app has 72 exercises, 22 workouts that can create up to 1,000 variations and the app progresses with your fitness level to make sure you don’t plateau or regress. I especially love that the 7 Minute Workout includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, as most training apps focused only on aerobic exercises.

iScubaToo

Jerry Garcia, the lead singer and a founder of The Grateful Dead, once famously said that he never would’ve tried drugs if he had tried scuba diving first. Aside from being Nancy Reagan’s most ardent ally, scuba diving is great for the mind, body and spirit.

CEO and Founder of iScubaToo, Chad Nash says of scuba diving, “It’s great for both the mind and body by keeping you present at all times. It’s a kind of meditative state. You don’t have to be the most physically fit to dive to start, so it fits everyone. From there, you can move onto other active, healthy opportunities.”

iScubaToo helps you easily find, rate, review and connect with dive shops around the world. Not all dive shops have quality safety or equipment ratings. This app works like Airbnb and Uber but for divers to find quality dive shops anywhere in the world.

Yoga

I love yoga! The human body is the best weight-machine, and we take ours everywhere. Unfortunately, many think they can only get a good weight workout at the gym, but that’s not so. So, let’s combine tranquility with technology.

Down Dog

Who doesn’t like to do it doggy style? Not only is Down Dog a great whole-body stretch and mild inversion yoga pose, but it’s also a great app. If you’re intimidated about doing to a yoga studio and falling all over yourself in front of strangers, or you simply don’t have the $1,000,000 to buy a yoga studio membership, check out Down Dog.

Down Dog claims it has so many sequences that you could never run out of content. That’s great because that keeps you challenged. Along with sequence and instruction, Down Dog plays appropriate music for a “studio-like yoga experience from the comfort of your home.”

Yoga Wake Up

If you like to do your yoga early in the morning like me to do yoga, it’s hard to go from an earth shattering alarm to a gentle yoga experience. That’s why I love Yoga Wake Up.

Yoga Wake Up wakes you with peaceful, meditative sounds rather than a noise that lets miners and steel workers know their shifts ended. It also lets you start your yoga practice with “slow, delicious morning stretches from the warmth of your covers.” That makes me want to wake up several times a day.

Meditation.

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

Have trouble falling asleep at night? You’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 45% of Americans report having trouble falling asleep at least once a week.

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson, brought to you by Michael Schneider, is the answer. I don’t know a single thing about either of those men, but they’re the only strange men I allow in my bed because their app and Johnson’s calming Scottish voice helps me fall asleep when the sheep refuse to jump the fence.

Omvana

For pure, lotus-sitting meditation, I love listening to Vishen Lakhiani’s 6 Phase Meditation on the Omvana app. In 21 minutes, Lakhiani walks listeners through a comprehensive meditation routine that includes connection, gratitude, forgiveness, visualization, daily intention and blessing.

As an overly-scheduled person with a perpetually wondering mind, Omvana helps me exercise uninterrupted meditation and feel the full effects of that kind of meditative focus.

Healthy eating.

Lose It!

Studies consistently show that one of the best ways to lose weight is to track your eating. But, keeping a ledger of the food you eat all day, every day and having to track the portion-size and calorie count of everything you eat sucks more than sucking lemons. That’s why Lose It! is great.

Lose It! lets you track the food you eat three different and easy ways. The first is by searching its database rather than going to some random site referred to you by Google. The second is scanning a bar code, if one’s available. Now, you can take a picture of your food and the resident experts at Lose It! will let you know how many calories you’re eating.

Lose It! connects with other apps, like other fitness trackers, and lets you set goals and track your progress.

Fit Men Cook

How can you find meals that won’t make the eyes of the resident experts at Lose It! pop? Get the Fit Men Cook app. Fit Men Cook gives easy and affordable meals that can be prepared in advance. It helps you to choose healthy meals and not succumb to a fast food meal because of time.

Fit Men Cook even makes grocery shopping easier. Based on the meals you choose to eat that week; Fit Men Cook will create a grocery list that can be checked off as you toss items into your grocery cart.

Plus, even if you can’t find a single recipe that you like, Kevin Curry, who invented Fit Men Cook, is delicious in and of himself.

Embrace the gig-economy. Embrace apps. They’ll help make you happier, healthier, and because most apps are free, they may make you wealthier.

Do you use apps to help you have a healthier lifestyle? What are some of your favorites? We’d love to hear about it over at the #Adulting Facebook community

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Insurance is the way you financially CYA.

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Insurance feels like a waste of money. However, the reality is that you probably need it. Without it, your assets — meager as they may be — are at risk.

When you buy the insurance you need, you can cover your assets in many situations. Let’s be real: if you totaled your car, and you still owe money it, could you really afford to buy a new car right now? Plus, you’d still have a loan to deal with.

In this episode, we look at the disturbing reality that insurance is a necessary part of financial planning. In some cases (like health insurance and auto insurance) it’s even the law.

We’ll help you figure out what insurance you need to be effective.

Concepts

  • How insurance works.
  • Ways insurance can keep you from ending up in a worse financial situation.
  • Types of insurance required by law.
  • Insurance policies everyone should have.
  • Insurance policies that can be beneficial, depending on your situation, but that aren’t for everyone.
  • Types of insurance policies you should avoid.
  • Tips for figuring out what insurance you need.

This week, DO NOWs look at what you need to do in order to get the insurance you need. This includes writing down your needs, and documenting what you have in your home so you’re ready in case of a claim.

This week’s listener question looks at how you can feel better about the whole insurance thing. We look at ways you can get over the idea of “wasting” money on insurance.

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Resources

Adult sibling rivalry.

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More than 6.5 million people in Florida were instructed to evacuate before Hurricane Irma struck the state. Leaving everything behind is not easy for a family — and it’s not cheap. While insurance may cover damage due to the storm, how do you handle the expenses you have when you need to change your plans with a moment’s notice?

You need an emergency fund. It’s one of the first steps for preparing for the unexpected — and handling your money like an adult. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, you need to start it now.

Here are some of the best banks for emergency funds today — because they pay out some of the highest rates.

My friend’s brother lives in Florida, and his home was hit hard by Irma. He, his wife, and his daughter secured their home as well as possible and left town, driving with thousands of others north, away from where the hurricane would do the most damage. Because he had an online savings account with CIT bank, an emergency fund for the family, they were able to come up with the money they needed to get out of town and stay in a hotel for a few days before reaching family.

Start that emergency fund now.

Add to your emergency fund little by little. Transfer a small portion of every paycheck. It won’t hurt you to miss 1% of your pay today, and it will help you later when you need to come up with money fast.

Could you make more money by investing your money in stocks instead of a savings account? Sure, but it could take more time to withdraw the value of those stocks when you need the money, and chances are good you’ll need the money at a time when the stock value is lower than you’d hope.

Add the taxes you have to pay on top of that, and it’s easy to see why investing is not a good option for money you might need in an emergency. That’s why high-yield savings accounts are the best options for emergency funds — like the one you need to withstand the next hurricane.

Choose a bank below to start your emergency fund.

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Amassing debt is easy. It’s a lot harder to answer the “how” and “why”. These answers can help you avoid mistakes and they can help you remedy them.

When the topic of credit card debt came up on the Adulting editorial calendar, it only made sense to assign it to one-half of the Debt Free Guys.

In case you’re not familiar, my husband and I acquired $51,000 in credit card debt despite having years of experience in financial services. The reason we amassed that impressive total was that we were living and spending unconsciously and trying to make up for years of insecurity and self-doubt.

Our story is just one example of how people find themselves in more debt than they can handle. There are numerous reasons why people get into debt.  Below is a list of what to look out for so you can avoid getting into debt yourself. And if any of these describes your story, know that there is a way out.

Don’t know their financial goals.

It’s my belief (and my husband’s) that more people are in debt than there needs to be because they aren’t clear on what their financial goals are.

It’s like knowing your destination when you’re in the car. The very first and most important thing you need to know is where you want to go. You can have the nicest car, years of experience driving, and it may be a beautiful, bright, and sunny day. But if you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there.

This issue was my challenge. I didn’t know what my financial goals were and so I spent my money on any and everything. I sought short-term, easy satisfaction rather than long-term, secure satisfaction.

Don’t know their life goals.

The sister reason why people get into too much debt is that they aren’t aware of their life goals. Financial goals and life goals are not synonymous.

For example, our stepson just graduated high school. He recently asked for help to create a plan to ensure he’ll be financially secure, not necessarily wealthy, but stable. Financial security is his financial goal. After doing some exercises with him, we’ve since attached a dollar sign to what financially secure means to him and how to get there.

His life goal is to be an artist. He’s currently interested in videography and photography and is going to college for photography. He knows there’s a chance he won’t make a fortune in photography, but in that instance, his financial goals will support his life goals.

Without knowing what you actually want and developing a strategy to get it, you’ll go in any direction the wind takes you. Have you met people like that? Every time you meet them, they have a new goal, they’re moving elsewhere, they’re focused on something new.

Try to keep up with the Joneses.

It is challenging to live in such a consumption society. Everywhere you turn, someone has something newer and nicer than you. Whether it’s your neighbor or the guy on television who you want to be like or be with, it’s easy to get sucked into competitive consumption.

My sister and brother-in-law experienced this in their neighborhood. Theirs is an interesting case study. They lived in a quiet area full of homeowners about their age and children all about their children’s ages. They were all middle-income earners, all within the same income bracket.

Sure enough, when a neighbor did an upgrade to their home, suddenly several other neighbors did upgrades. When someone bought a new car, suddenly there were new cars all over the neighborhood. It all ended finally when one couple said they had to move away because the competition was hurting them financially.

Trying to keep up with The Joneses is like trying to live someone else’s dream. In either case, you’ll never achieve true happiness if you’re living someone else’s life.

They don’t know how to manage money.

Most of us never learn how to handle money. It’s a major disservice of our school system. We motivate and encourage our students, regardless of student loan debt, to get the best and highest job possible, and yet they don’t know how to manage their money.

Being financially secure is not contingent on how much money you earn, but how you handle the money you do earn. With the accessibility of the internet, there is a host of financial information at anyone’s fingertips.

They live and spend unconsciously.

This issue is synonymous with sticking your proverbial head in the sand. Often people live and spend unconsciously because taking the time to learn about their financial situation would mean they’d have to live and spend better. Whether they earn too little income to support their lifestyle or are trapped in an increasing cycle of amassing debt, they continue not to pay attention because it’s easier than addressing the truth.

Unfortunately for many, they learn Stein’s Law the hard way. That law says that if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Stein’s Law is why most of the emails my husband and I receive are from people who are about to file bankruptcy or have reached retirement age and can’t retire.

They just divorced.

Divorce can be paralyzing to one’s life and finances. No part of divorce is fun, and it can leave both parties bruised emotionally and financially.

Not only is divorce itself expensive due to legal and court fees, but the division of assets rarely seems fair to both sides. The compound effect is that contractual obligations, such as requirements to repay debts, don’t disappear when you divorce.

Over 75% of Americans are in debt. It’s logical to conclude that 75% of couples in America who get divorced also have debt. Those debts must still be repaid despite the status of your marriage.

They have unexpected or large medical bills.

Healthcare in the United States is not getting cheaper, and a health scare or issue can easily wipe out one’s life savings. Even with an increased usage of HSA accounts and access to retirement funds to cover medical expenses, the wrong ailment can ruin one’s financial life.

For this reason alone, more Americans need to have an emergency savings account. But, with the estimation that 47% of Americans would go into debt if they had a $500 emergency, we have a long way to go.

They have an addiction.

People don’t make logical decisions when they have an addiction. You might automatically assume that this point is about gambling. To be sure, gambling does ruin a lot of people’s financial lives. They lose life savings and acquire numerous, even sketchy forms of debt.

This point also applies to people with drug and alcohol addiction who may make poor financial decisions that can cause them to acquire debt. It’s easy to get wrapped up in letting debt subsidize your addiction.

They don’t understand how credit cards work.

In part, because many people don’t understand money, most people don’t know how debt works. We receive too many emails from people saying that they weren’t aware that their interest rate could increase. They assume that the only reason their credit limit increased was that they’re doing well financially. They assume that the only reason they were offered a credit card was due to their creditworthiness – because they’re doing well with their existing credit cards.

That’s simply not true.

Just as with purchasing investments, it’s important for people to understand the nuts and bolts of how credit works. This is where reading the fine print helps and reading personal finance blogs that you can trust helps even more.

They’re unemployed or underemployed.

Even though the economy has been recovering since 2008, and wages are increasing, too many people are unemployed or underemployed. The economy is changing, and more jobs are being automated.

It’s incumbent upon American workers to increase their skill-sets and diversify income streams. This is one of the reasons why I recommend to everyone –everyone – to start a blog. Regardless of your career or skill set and regardless of what direction you want to take your career, a blog is a critical component of future career and financial success. Some people, in fact, think having a blog is more important than having a resume.

These are the top 10 reasons why many people find themselves in more debt than they can manage. Once you know what to look out for, it’s easier to avoid the mistakes. If you see yourself in one or more of the reasons above, now that you know your problem, you’ll more quickly remedy it.

Have you experienced one or more of the reasons above? Were you able to climb out of debt? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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