Sure, moving back home is a great way to save money after college. But at some point you need to suck it up and move out. Read More...

One of the best ways to save money is to live with your parents. Food and shelter are provided, and you probably have internet access as well. As someone who has been going over to my mom’s to print stuff out for the last three weeks, I know the seduction of access to free services.

At some point in the next week or so, though, I need to suck it up and buy a printer cartridge. And at some point in the near future, you need to move out of your parents’ house.

While your parents might be willing to let you stick around for a little longer, it’s really not the best option for long-term success as an adult. At some point, it’s time to move out. Even if your parents are charging you rent (it’s probably below market rate) and expect help with chores, eventually you need to leave the nest.

If you aren’t sure it’s really time for you to get a place of your own, here are seven clues the (mostly) free ride is over:

1. You can afford your own place.

It might require a little sacrifice on your part, but if you can afford your own place, it’s time to move out. Even if you need a roommate to help you afford your first place, it’s time to move out when you have the money to take care of your own needs.

Research the local housing market. What are the rents? Look at estimated utilities. How much are groceries? If you are worried that you can’t afford all those costs, take your new budget for a test drive. Set aside what you’d pay for rent, utilities, and groceries in a savings account. If you can manage your budget with comfort for at least four months, you should definitely leave your parents’ house.

2. Conversations devolve into arguments.

Does it feel like every conversation you have with your parents devolves into an argument? As long as you live in someone else’s home, they feel they have the right to tell you how to do things. And they aren’t too far off. If you feel that you’re always arguing with your parents, it’s time to move out. Get that distance, and you might be surprised at how much your relationship with your parents improves.

This sign is less about your ability to manage your money outside your parents’ home and more about the emotional situation. It’s all about preserving the most important relationships in your life.

3. You have too much stuff.

Tired of trying to cram everything into a single bedroom? Even though I lived in a campus dorm three years out of four, I still ended up with more stuff than could reasonably fit in a bedroom at my parents’ house. When you have your own TV, computer, furniture (spare as it might be), and other trappings that make it hard to fit everything into your old bedroom, it’s probably time to move out.

And let’s engage in a little real talk. It’s not your parents’ job to store your shit in their basement or garage. My parents were ecstatic the day I took the last of my boxes down from the attic and carted it off to my own storage space. Don’t take over your parent’s home with your junk. Either pare down your belongings or move out. At the very least, get your own storage unit.

4. You’re ready for the next chapter.

One of the biggest clues it’s time to move out is that you’re ready for the next chapter. It’s practically impossible to feel like you’re moving on with your life — and becoming your own person — when you’re living with your parents and still (sometimes) being treated like a kid instead of an adult.

When you find yourself stagnating in your life, it’s time to move forward. Just moving out can help you get out of your life rut. It can energize and help you feel more grown up. After all, you’re taking care of business.

Besides, moving out and starting the next chapter doesn’t mean that you’re going ignore your parents. My son and I go to my parents’ for Sunday dinner every week, even though I’m pretty self-sufficient. You don’t have to leave your family behind just because you’re moving on with your life.

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5. Lack of privacy.

Can’t bring bae home to chill because it’s awkward? Do you have to walk outside in the freezing cold when you take a call? Does it feel like your parents are staring at you every time you leave your room? Are you expected to come out of your room and socialize regularly? You need your own space.

As you get older, you have a chance to be you. Living in a place where you can’t just let loose cramps your style, and it doesn’t help you develop into a fully functioning adult. We all need those private moments.

6. The rules are getting to you.

You want to be treated like an adult, but you feel like all the rules make you feel like a kid? It’s time to move out. You’re living in someone else’s house, and that means they make the rules.

After college, it’s hard to come back and worry about how late you stay out and what you’re doing with “me” time. Tired of living by their rules? Figure out what it takes to move and get your own place. Then you make the rules.

7. Your parents are dropping hints.

It’s not always about you and your needs and wants.

At some point, your parents are likely to want you to move out. My mom considered it a mark of success when we could get out of the house and mostly “make it” on our own. If your parents are dropping heavy hints, like sending you Craig’s List ads for rentals, it’s time to move out. The biggest clue, though, is when your parents start charging you rent. If you’re paying rent to live in your childhood bedroom, you’re not adulting.

Take the next step.

While it can be scary to move out and make it on your own, it’s something you can handle. Start by making a reasonable budget and seeing what you can afford. Save up a little so that you are ready to make the move. Let your parents know your plans and see if they can offer some support.

And, once you’re out, keep up the relationship with your parents. They have helped you for a couple decades. Maintain those family ties, and be ready to help them when they need it.

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Ready for a break? January might be the best time for you to book your next flight. Read More...

Already tired of the cold? Feeling like the holidays didn’t give you a real vacation?

Well, there’s a remedy for that. Plan your next vacation. Even better, actually travel during the month of January. According to research from different sources, January 2018 is supposed to offer the cheapest flights of 2018.

Cheapest flights in January.

According to travel search engine Skyscanner, January is expected to be your best bet if you want to book the cheapest flights for 2018. According to the website, you can find domestic flights for 16% cheaper than the yearly average. International flights can cost up to 36% less. (Planning to travel overseas? Check out our guide to Global Entry.)

By the time we get to March, though, there’s a good chance that the savings will evaporate. So, even if you aren’t planning to go anywhere in the next few weeks, now is still probably a good time to book your travel for later in the year. I already know that I’ll be flying a little later, and I’ve found some pretty good deals already.

So, if you hope to land a good deal, what can you do?

National Shop For Travel Day.

The Travel Tech Association is pushing for a National Shop for Travel Day, which will fall on January 9, 2018. Going forward, the Association hopes to hold this day on the second Tuesday of January.

The idea is that many outlets will be offering killer deals on travel. So, you might be able to find amazing trip deals on your next vacation. I assume the powers that be picked a Tuesday because, according to research, that day of the week (and Wednesday) is one of the least expensive when it comes to finding the cheapest flights.

Buy 54 days before the scheduled flight.

Now, it is possible to find last-minute deals on flights — if you aren’t too picky about the times involved. According to a study by CheapAir.com last year, you can save money by purchasing your flight 54 days ahead of its scheduled departure. Of course, this is just an average, and the situation tends to fluctuate based on time of year.

However, if you are looking to travel in early March, it might be just the thing to book your travel in January to find the cheapest flights. I’m getting ready to do a little spring break travel with my son, and I’m deciding between driving and flying. If I can find a great deal in the next couple of weeks, it might be worth it to fly and then rent a car.

CheapAir.com did provide a handy guide to figuring out your best chance for cheap flights, depending on the time of year:

If you buy anytime between 21 and 105 days in advance, you have a pretty decent chance of finding good prices. I found it interesting that booking more than six months out means higher prices. “First dibs” apparently doesn’t provide you with the best deals.

Of course, there is no magic formula that will get you the best deal every time. When you book, the days you travel, and whether you go off-peak all matter. So you need to employ strategies that allow you the best chance of finding the cheapest flights.

Set airfare alerts.

You don’t have to keep going back to search for airfare day after day. It’s possible to set airfare alerts. Many travel aggregators allow you to set airfare alerts when prices drop. You can figure out a route (or if you’re flexible, a few) and then receive notifications right to your email inbox.

Another way to use alerts is to follow the #airfare hashtag on Twitter. A lot of the time you see sales and super cheap rates that exist for a few hours before disappearing.

You can also bookmark a few of your favorite websites and check regularly to find deals.

It’s important to be flexible since many of the best deals are between specific locations. I almost never get access to amazing deals from my hometown of Idaho Falls. However, if I’m willing to drive to Salt Lake City, I can usually find some pretty decent savings on my airfare.

Fly when nobody wants to.

This was touched on a little bit earlier, but it’s worth repeating. If you want the cheapest flights, you need to fly when no one else wants to. I was able to get one-way tickets to Philadelphia during the holidays at a discount of $200 apiece by taking an overnight flight. It wasn’t super fun, but it did save me $400.

On the return trip (from Albany, NY), my son and I left on a 6:10 a.m. flight. On New Year’s Eve. Also not a lot of fun. However, flights for New Year’s Day at a more reasonable time cost $300 more per ticket. That’s a big swing in price. Overall, by flying at shitty times no one else wanted, I managed to save $1,000 on air travel for my son and me.

Use your rewards and loyalty programs.

Join a frequent flyer program connected to a major credit card rewards program and watch the miles add up. I was able to get some decent discounts on my holiday travel, so I didn’t use my rewards points.

Earlier in the year, though, when my son and I traveled during the summer, I used airline miles to get free flights. It was the perfect way to save money on airfare without the need to alter my regularly budgeted spending.

I like to boost my total rewards by shopping for airfare online using Swagbucks in concert with other programs.

For example, I am part of the Delta SkyMiles program, and I have a branded credit card for that program from American Express. I also get Orbitz rewards and Swagbucks gives me extra back when I shop through Orbitz, thanks to the browser plugin I have. By booking a Delta flight on Orbitz using my AmEx credit card, I get extra points for my flight cost, plus I get rewards with Swagbucks and Orbitz. It’s like quadrupling up.

Later, I can use the rewards to book free flights. (I use a similar strategy when I book a hotel.)

Saving once you get to your destination.

Of course, the cheapest flights can save you money so you can spend more when you get to your destination. But if you want to save, you can look for ways to spend less.

Websites like Airbnb (interestingly, Airbnb is a Delta partner, so that helps me when I’m stacking rewards) and VBRO allow you to get great prices on lodging — especially if you are looking for a more long-term stay.

If you stay long-term, it can be a good idea to do some grocery shopping. When my son and I were traveling across Canada a couple summers ago, we often went to a local grocery store to buy items to do our own cooking. It was healthier and it saved us money since we weren’t always eating out.

You can also find good deals on rental cars with companies like Enterprise and Hertz.

I also find it helpful to look up Groupons for the destination city so that I can get discounts on activities. Often, I find two-for-one deals that are perfect for my son and me. CityPass is another great way to see the sites for one low price.

As you figure out little tips to save money on the cheapest flights and on things to do when you get to your destination, you might discover that you can travel much cheaper than you thought — whether you plan your trip in January or wait until another month.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl1vnegKI_Y

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Your savings account is a freeloader. Put your money to work by investing now. Read More...

When I want something in another room, I send my son to get it. It’s what kids are for. The best way to get work done is to get someone else to do it for you.

That’s the principle behind investing. When you invest, your money does the heavy lifting. With $25 and a willingness to automatically transfer money into your first investment account each month, you can enjoy the benefits of letting your money work.

It’s not something that will lead to huge returns immediately, but over time you might be surprised to see how your money grows.

Get off your assets.

No one likes freeloaders. If someone is sleeping at your place, you at least want them to do the dishes. When your money sits in a savings account, it’s sleeping on the couch without helping out with anything.

You’ll never build the wealth you need for financial freedom if you don’t move your assets. Once you have built up a comfortable emergency fund, stop relying entirely on that savings account and open an investment account. It’s easy enough, even if you only have $25 to start.

Your first investment account should be with a broker that allows you to invest a small amount of money to begin with. There are accounts that allow you to start with as little as $5 a week. If you have a little more, you can start investing with a service like Betterment with $100 a month.

All you need is the same information you use to open a bank account, and your bank account information. Set up an automatic investment plan so that money is automatically moved from your bank account to your investment account. You can also use a service like Acorns to automatically invest your pocket change.

Have an open relationship with your money.

Don’t be loyal to one bank account or even to your first investment account. It’s ok to work your assets in any way that helps you build wealth.

Start with your company’s tax-advantaged retirement account. If your company offers a 401(k) and you contribute, you’re investing. Use that to your advantage, and take the biggest match possible. Many people don’t think of company retirement plans as investing, but it is. It’s the easiest way to open your first investment account, and you can reap benefits for years to come.

You don’t need to be a one-account investor, though. If you have the right information, you can open an account with an online discount broker (like TradeKing or E*Trade), robo advisor (like Betterment), or a “traditional” company like Vanguard or Fidelity. There are a number of ways for you to open different investment accounts to fulfill different purposes. If you don’t like what’s offered by your company’s plan, get the maximum match, then open an account with a different broker.

Get your money out there to make an effort. I was pleasantly surprised the other day to discover that my regular effort with my money has been paying off. I’ve been contributing to a travel fund, and my money has been busy. It’s worked for me, and with the help of compound interest, is already offering a great return.

How to open your first investment account.

When you’re ready to spread a little more canvas with your money, keep the following in mind:

Get personal.

You need identifying information to open an investment account. Your name, address, birth date, Social Security number, and bank account information will be needed. The law requires brokers to collect this information from you.

Have your personal information ready. Even if you open an account using the internet, having it nearby keeps you from being timed out of the session before you’re ready.

If you do open your investment account using the internet, make sure you are on a private connection. Do it from a password-protected network, not public Wi-Fi. This is sensitive stuff and you don’t want it out there.

Index funds are better to start.

They aren’t sexy, but index funds, which follow set groups of stocks, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the S&P 500, can be an easy way to get the most out of your investing dollar. You don’t have to pick stocks (which can get tricky), and you enjoy instant diversity.

Some discount brokers, like Acorns and Betterment, won’t let you pick your own funds. However, they usually have access to low-cost ETFs that are broad enough to provide you with the diversity and performance that keeps pace with the market in general. And that’s exactly what you need when you start out.

Do it in your sleep.

Put your assets to work while you sleep. Schedule automatic transfers from your account to the investment account. Most brokers offer an “automatic investment plan.” Sign up for it. It’s better when things happen while you’re not thinking about them.

Start small.

Even if you’re broke af, you can still afford to invest. With some discount brokers, it’s possible to automatically invest $5 a month. You eventually need to step it up and show your investment account some love, but starting small gives you the chance to let your money begin. The longer your money is at it, the greater the chance you’ll see bigger results down the road.

You still need to boost your contributions over time, though. As soon as you can, increase the amount you invest. You don’t want to sit on your assets when you have them. They should be out working hard for you.

The following, from Calculate My Wealth, shows you how you should be working your assets. Start investing $100 per month at age 22, and do it until you’re 65, and here’s what you could have:

invest

Unlike investments, that savings account is definitely a freeloader.

Make investing a priority.

There are a lot of things you could be doing with your money. Investing should be a priority. Yes, you need to pay down debt (especially if it comes with a high interest rate). And you have bills. You’d probably like to enjoy an evening out on occasion. But if you have even a little, tiny bit you can put toward investing, make it a priority.

In many ways, it’s about the habit. Start the habit of investing if you want to make a difference in your financial life. Once you get started and see the good results of your efforts, you’ll want to do even more investing.

Get started, and then look for ways to boost your contributions. No, $5 a week isn’t going to make all your retirement dreams come true. But if you start with that $5 a week, and then you make room to boost it to $10 a week after a couple months, pretty soon you’ll find that you have more money than you thought to invest.

Skip one night out a month. And invest the money you would have spent. Start a side hustle. Invest any money you make. Your account will build much faster that way.

Whether you make it a point to have money taken from your paycheck each month for your retirement account, or whether you invest your pocket change (or do a little of both!), the important thing is to get started and make investing a priority going forward.

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Don’t get hung up on changing the world immediately. Start local and watch your efforts bear fruit sooner. Read More...

Do you want to live with passion and purpose? Do you want to change the world? Do you feel like I’ve shared froofy sentiments that don’t actually matter?

The reality is that you don’t need to try to change the world all by yourself if you don’t feel like you have the time, energy, or ability to make it happen.

What you can do is find a cause you believe in and start making a tiny corner of the world a little bit better.

Do you really need to change the world?

To often we get bogged down in the idea that we need to change the world in an earth-shattering way. We like the idea of making a big impact. But most of us aren’t going to change the world in that big way.

That doesn’t mean that you are inconsequential. Since moving back to Idaho, I’ve realized that I can help effect meaningful change right here, on a local basis. So far, I haven’t made a huge impact, but I’ve seen that some of my efforts do matter.

It’s easy to step back and say, “I can’t make a big change, so I won’t try.” But you can make small change, and you can help men, women, children, animals, and the environment right where you live.

When you find a cause you believe in, you not only make an impact, but you also live with greater purpose. You are more likely to feel good about your life, and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that come with volunteering your time and energy.

Don’t get hung up on the idea of changing the world; think about what you can do locally to make a difference. Later, if it snowballs, or if you get an opportunity to change the world, go for it. But don’t sit around feeling impotent when you might be capable of effecting a change that matters to the people around you.

What matters to you?

The first step, when you want to find a cause you believe in, is to decide what matters to you. Figure out what makes your life worthwhile. Decide what you wish was different in your area. Look around. There’s always something that could be better.

What are you passionate about? Do you care about education? Do you want to fight for LGTBQIA+ homeless youth? Do you wish people were kinder to animals? Is there an environmental risk in your area? What kind of local policies are causing harm to under-represented populations? Do you believe arts education is vital to the preservation of our culture?

You can go crazy trying to fix every problem out there. And it’s impossible to do everything all at once — especially since you probably also want to put a roof over your head. Narrow down to the issue that matters most to you and focus on that first. You’ll probably find that there are interconnected issues that you can branch out with, but start small and simple. That one issue can provide you with a manageable way to start making a change.

Join with like-minded people.

Once you know what matters to you, look for like-minded people. Whether you work for change at the neighborhood, city, state, country, or world level, you can’t do it alone. World-sweeping ideas come around very rarely. TBH, most change is incremental and arrives only after years of work and effort in conjunction with others.

Look for people who share your passion and values. Chances are that there are others interested in changing the world the same way you are. When I first moved to Idaho Falls, I joined the Chamber of Commerce for networking opportunities and to figure out which business leaders and professionals shared my values. I sought out a local political organization that better fit my leanings as well.

These larger organizations allow me to meet like-minded people who are part of a smaller subset. Together we can lobby for change, and our volunteer efforts can make a difference locally. It’s been heartening to see some of what I’ve done matter — even if it’s to a small portion of the population. That sort of change has the potential to spread.

Contribute your resources.

What if you feel like you don’t have the time to volunteer? You can still find a cause you believe in and contribute your resources. I’m involved in certain activities that, when considered with my other responsibilities, mean that I don’t have time to volunteer with the food pantry or soup kitchen, even though hunger is a major issue for me.

I have to say no to some things, and I realize that I can have an impact by donating money to local relief efforts. I make regular contributions to local food banks. I love local donations because I can meet the people responsible for the way the funds are used, and I can see the impact my donations have.

I choose which causes get my time, and which get my money. You can do something similar. Look for an organization that could use your financial support, even if you don’t feel like you have the time to volunteer. My son saves 10% of his allowance and income for charity. Until now, he’s mostly just put it in for an offering when we occasionally attend a church, or he gives something to panhandlers. Lately, after much thought, he announced that he wants to find a way to help homeless LGBTQIA+ teens — a problem in our area.

My son saves 10% of his allowance and income for charity. Until now, he’s mostly just put it in for an offering when we occasionally attend a church, or he gives something to panhandlers. Lately, after much thought, he announced that he wants to find a way to help homeless LGBTQIA+ teens — a problem in our area. He’s researching local organizations to see where his money might do some good. He’s 13, and he’s thinking about what he can do to make positive change where we live.

It won’t be a lot, but it will be something — and it just might make a difference in at least one person’s life.

What issues are you passionate about? Have you found a cause to believe in? How do you support it?

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Who isn’t looking to make more money?

Whether you just want to supplement your income, or whether you hope to turn your side hustle into a long-term way to replace your day job, you need something you can get into quickly and easily.

If you hope to make more money — and want some real ideas for side hustles — we’ve got you covered. Here’s our big list of side hustle ideas:

Editor’s Choice

1. Lyft (or Uber)

These days, more people than ever are using ridesharing services. If you have a car and a smartphone, you can drive them around town. I’ve done a stint as a Lyft driver — and it netted me $200 one day. Seriously. I decided to drive on a Saturday for my city’s Beer Festival. Plus, with Lyft, you have the option for the money to be deposited into your checking account automatically once you reach a certain threshold. No waiting for pay. My $200 showed up the next day.

It took three days for my application to be approved — they review your DMV records and verify your insurance — but once it was done, I was on my way.

There’s also no reason you can’t try Uber, too. Many people drive for both. Keep a clean car and a good driving record, and you should be set.

Sign up for Lyft here.

2. Airbnb (or VRBO.com)

The sharing economy is a great way to make money, and Airbnb is a popular way to do it. Offer your home, or even just a room, to others online. They pay you to stay.

If you want to make money while you are home, and you don’t mind sharing space with strangers, it can make sense to rent a room. If you want to make money while you’re out of town, you can provide a run of the house.

Other sites like VRBO.com and Home Away can also provide you with the same access to earning opportunities by leveraging your home. Sign up for VRBO.com here.

3. Swagbucks

I don’t get a ton from this, but I’m also not super-serious about it. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to end up with close to $700 in Amazon gift cards. You perform small tasks (like answering a daily poll or watching videos) or answer surveys. You receive Swagbucks that can be redeemed for various rewards.

I like Amazon gift cards, but your thing might be something else. There are thousands of retailers offering gift cards for rewards, so you’re bound to find something you can use. I even added the browser plugin so I earn Swagbucks on my regular online shopping, like when I buy airline tickets.

Sign up for SwagBucks here.

4. Fill out online surveys

While you can use a site like Swagbucks to earn money, you can also go to dedicated survey sites. These might actually provide you with cash. You can use Survey Junkie and other sites. You’re not going to become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, but you could earn enough for a night out each month.

Sign up for Survey Junkie here.

5. Udemy

Do you know valuable information you could teach to others with a course? Udemy can help you put your course together and sell it. Udemy will take a cut of the sales, but it handles everything about creating a course. It makes the whole process easy. As long as you create something great that helps people, you will be likely to make a little extra money with Udemy.

Offline Side Hustles

Make money IRL. Many of these side hustles have a reasonably low barrier to entry. Plus, you can get paid quickly and easily.

6. House sitting

Guess how my 15-year-old son has been making money? By house sitting. All he has to do is check on things every day. He collects the mail, waters the plants, and brings the garbage to the curb (and takes the cans back to the house). In one case, he also checked the temperature and other levels of a saltwater fish tank. If you are able to make the rounds, you could make some good side money as a house sitter.

7. Pet sitting

While you’re taking care of things, don’t forget about pet sitting. If you are good with animals, you can take on pet sitting. You can watch them in your home, or you can go to their homes to take care of them.

8. Personal training

Are you good at helping people get into shape? If you have the right certification, you could be a personal trainer. One creative way to go about this is to see if you can get on at a gym. They might let you have a free membership and pay you.

9. Sell water (and maybe other drinks)

One way to make more money is to sell drinks when it’s hot. Bring water to a parade in one of those rolling coolers and sell it for $1 or $2. I was able to get a 24-pack of water at my local grocery store for $3.99. The profit margins on this one are pretty good. You can also sell sodas as well. Keep people cool on a hot day at a fair or parade, or just along a common running route, and it could mean a tidy profit.

10. Lawncare

Do you know how I know you can make money doing this? Because I pay someone else to mow and edge my lawn. I even paid them to rig up a sprinkler timing system so I wouldn’t have to water the lawn. Start a lawncare business and people will happily pay you to take the work off their own hands.

11. Tutoring

My mom’s sidegig is tutoring slow readers. If you are good at math, science, reading, English, or some other subject, offer your services as a tutor. For awhile, I even tutored graduates on taking the GRE because my scores were so good. If you have good standardized test scores, you might be able to parlay that into a decent job.

12. Designated driver

Sure, it means you don’t get to imbibe. But it also means that you could end up getting a little extra cash. When you go out, let your friends know you’ll happily be the designated driver if they all chip in. Then, if you let the bartender know you’re the designated driver, you might even get free sodas all night.

13. Drive people for their errands

Some airports don’t allow Uber and Lyft drop-offs. Or maybe you want to drive people around for their errands. Not everyone has a car, but they might want help getting groceries or picking up the dry cleaning. Offer this service, and you could make some money. Or, consider signing up for Lyft (see #1) and taking advantage of the hourly rate for waiting on top of the payment for the ride.

14. Wash cars

Let people know you’ll wash their cars for a good price. You can even add detailing services, like vacuuming out the car, for a premium. Lots of us don’t want to deal with our cars and cleaning them, so this can be a good move. If you want to get really creative, go to local car dealerships and ask them if you can wash the cars there. You might be able to get a nice little side gig washing cars for dealers.

15. Teach music lessons

After a year of teaching piano lessons, I realized that it wasn’t for me. However, if you have patience and talent, it might be for you. No matter what instrument you play, there’s a good chance someone else wants to learn it — and you could make money teaching it.

16. Outdoors guide

I live in an area where people love to visit and see the outdoors. If you love being outside and you are near some of our natural wonders, offer to be a guide. My uncle was a river guide for several years. You can also take people on fishing trips, hiking trips, and make other arrangements. One thing I’ve toyed with is taking small groups to the best stargazing spots nearby.

17. TaskRabbit

Sign up for TaskRabbit, and you could be ask to complete simple tasks in your area. This could include things like putting together furniture, running to the grocery store, or taking someone’s car in for an oil change. Pay varies according to task, but getting involved can be a great way to make a little extra cash.

18. Firewood delivery

Do you have a truck? If so, you could make some money by delivering firewood. You might even get more money if you are willing to chop it. Look around. Some furniture-makers and others sell odd ends for cheap. You could pay $40 for a load of wood and then turn around and sell and deliver it for $75. You can also look in the paper for people who offer firewood for free to people who will haul it away. Get the wood for free and then turn around and sell and deliver it.

19. Paint street numbers

With a can of spray paint, some stencils, and a willingness to hit the pavement, you can make more money painting street numbers on curbs. I once paid someone $8 to paint street numbers on my curb to make it easier for people to find us. You can do this for mailboxes, too.

20. Mystery shopper

Yes, it’s a real thing. I’ve been paid to do it. I’ve been paid to check out mattress shops, bank customer service, and more. You do need to watch out because there are scams out there. But if you sign up with a service like Best Mark or Intelli-101, you can get a few gigs and make more money by doing what you do naturally.

21. House cleaning

If you don’t mind cleaning up after other people, you can be a house cleaner. For bigger savings on supplies, let your clients know that they need to provide the Pledge and the floor cleanser.

22. Childcare

Depending on your state regulations, this may or may not be feasible. But if you are just watching a couple of kids, you could start a business without the need for state licensing. Watch children for working parents. You could even see if you could get paid for taking the kids around to their activities.

23. Provide live music

Many restaurants like the idea of having live music, especially on weekend nights. If you can play music, check with local restaurants to see if you can play. Collect tips as a way to make more money on the weekend. At the very least, many patrons will be willing to buy you a drink or two.

24. Teach others about computers

One of my friends get paid $20 an hour to help baby boomers (and those even older) to learn how to use their computers. If you can help someone else learn how to check their email or navigate Facebook, you could earn a little extra scratch.

25. Sell others’ things on eBay

Selling on Craigslist or eBay isn’t just for your old comic book collection. You can make money selling other people’s things. You can ask for a flat fee to list items for them, or you can collect a percentage of the selling price. Either way, you could make some good money by helping people who aren’t as computer savvy make money selling their things.

26. Dog walking

Dog walking services can be valuable for those who want to make sure their pets get exercise, but can’t walk them during the day. Set up this service and you could get paid to spend time with a furry friend and get a little exercise of your own.

27. Donate plasma

You might be surprised at the ways you can make more money by selling yourself. One of the easiest ways is to donate plasma. You can make it a habit to go in a couple times a week to make some money. I know someone who has used plasma donation to pay for his family’s monthly grocery costs.

28. Cuddling

Yes, professional cuddlers do exist. And you could be one of them. You might be surprised to discover that people will pay for 15 to 20 minutes of human interaction. Use a reputable service that screens its clients, though, and be careful. It’s supposed to be non-sexual, but you do need to watch out for predators.

29. Event planning

Are you good at coordinating with others? You could create a side hustle in event planning. Talk to businesses and individuals about paying you to put on events. From arranging business luncheons to putting on bridal shows to actually planning weddings and other parties, you could make more money by putting your organizational skills to work.

30. Home organizer

Speaking of organizational skills, you could also start a side gig as a home organizer. Use these skills to help people re-do their closets. Help people organize their pantries. It’s a good way to use a talent for neatness to your advantage.

31. Photographer

If you take good photos, you can hire out to do this job for others. Take family portraits, wedding photos, and more. You can find a low-cost lighting kit online and even set up a makeshift studio for inside shoots. If you are able to take it up a notch, you could even sell services as a videographer.

32. Brand ambassador

Depending on the brand, you might be able to make money doing this part-time. You could visit college campuses to encourage people to use a brand, or appear at local events. If you’re outgoing and passionate about a brand, it can be a good way to make more money on the side.

33. Flip cars

You need to be savvy and know what you’re doing. I have a friend who buys inexpensive cars that just need a little work. Many people sell cars with dead engines for low, low prices. If you know how to work on cars, you could switch out the engine yourself and then sell the car for more. With the right eye, this could work out well.

34. Adjunct professor

If you have at least a Master’s degree, you can teach college as an adjunct. This can be a great way to make more money and do something fulfilling. Plus, in some cases, you might even be able to get an online class to teach.

Online Side Hustles

Of course, if you want to make more money from the comfort of your home, there are plenty of ideas for online side hustles.

35. Ebates

This is a cashback site that helps you get money back for regular purchases. You do have to be careful with side hustles like this, that involve buying things, because the whole point is to make more money — not spend it. But if you combine use this site for planned purchases and coordinate with your other rewards programs, you can save a lot of money, and even make some money.

36. Fiverr

Can you do things quickly? If you can do quick voice-over work, create a fast design, or write short descriptions, Fiverr might be a good choice for you. Many of those offering services on Fiverr start at $5 for a small service, but also advertise packages that are more expensive. The more you sell, and the better you do, the better your payouts and gig offers.

37. Stock photos

If you have some generic, yet attractive, photos, you can sell them online. Companies like Shutterstock, SmugMug, iStockPhoto, and Bigstockphoto all allow you to market your work. This can be a great way to make money from your work.

38. User testing

There are websites, like Testbirds, that will pay you to earn cash by surfing the web. User testing is all about providing feedback on the way you use apps and websites.

39. Sell your own items online

If you have items that you dom’t use and are in good condition, you can sell them online. Not only that, but you can also go looking for items to sell. Visit yard sales, buy things at low prices, and then sell at a profit online using eBay or Craigslist. If you are crafty, use Etsy to sell what you make.

40. Virtual assistant

Use your organizational skills to help business-people manage their schedules and email. You can get help with finding virtual assistant work through a site like Upwork.

41. Self-publish books

I have a friend who, when he wants to go on vacation, writes a romance novella and then sells it on Amazon. He only deals in digital copies (no hard copies). With the right approach, you can write books and sell them online, keeping more of the royalties for yourself. Amazon’s platform is easy to use. I know. My book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is self-published through Amazon.

42. Start a blog

One of the most popular side hustles is blogging. While it can take some time to see results, this can be a profitable way to go. It’s fairly easy to get started when you use a low-cost service like Blue Host, Host Gator, or Go Daddy. You can use affiliates to make money, getting a small commission each time visitors to your site use certain products and services.

43. Voiceover work

You might be surprised at how much voiceover work is available. You can use a site like Backstage to find voiceover jobs and complete them over the internet from the comfort of your home.

44. Freelance writer

My entire life is possible because I started freelancing more than 10 years ago. I do it online, it was very cheap to start, and it’s provided a very flexible career for me. You do need to know how to write and be willing to start out with somewhat low pay. But there are plenty of places to start looking for work, including places like Text Broker, Guru, oDesk, and Freelancer.com.

45. Resume/cover letter writer

Many people need help with their cover letters and resumes. If you know current best practices and have an eye for detail, you could be that person.

46. Freelance web developer

People always need help with their websites. If you have the skills, you could help people develop attractive and functional websites.

47. Social media manager

Look for businesses that need help managing their social media posts and strategy. You can schedule posts, create attractive and effective messages, and share them.

48. Develop apps

If you know your way around app development, you could make money. Not only can you create your own apps and sell them, but you could also help other people develop apps. Receive payment when you create apps for others.

49. Transcription work

I know several people who do medical transcription and billing work. You can often set your own hours or take as much or as little work as you want. It’s also possible to hire out to do transcription work for the courts. They often need transcripts of depositions and interviews.

50. Translate for others

In an increasingly global economy, it’s common for people to need things translated. Books, training materials, and other items might be translated into another language. If you are fluent in another language, you could sell your skills.

51. Data entry

If you know your way around a keyboard, you can make money doing data entry. It can get tedious, but for some people, it’s a regular paycheck. You just need to pay attention to detail and make sure you are entering the data correctly.

52. Researcher

You might be surprised at how many people are looking for researchers. If you have the right research skills, you might be paid to find information for academic papers or white papers. You could also offer your services as a geneological researcher if you are talented in this area. Many people don’t have the time to dig for answers themselves, so they are more than willing to pay someone else to do the heavy lifting.

53. Coach others online

I’ve had coaching sessions with people all over the world. In fact, the first person I coached financially was located in Germany. Using sites like Savvy can help you connect with people who need help with different problems or who want to learn how to do something. You can work with people to help them become their best selves — and get paid for it.

54. Dropship from an online storefront

You can sell items online without stocking your own inventory with the help of dropshipping. You provide the storefront and process the sales, but the actual fulfillment is handled elsewhere. This can be an easy way to start an ecommerce store without having to worry about how to store the products yourself.

55. Podcasting

This is another side hustle that can take some time to get started. However, it can be a lot of fun if you do it right and grow your audience. You can get sponsors, or use a service like Midroll to help you find advertisers for your podcast.

56. Podcast editing

Maybe you don’t want to actually have a podcast, but you’re good with sound editing. My buddy Steve Stewart actually edits others’ podcasts, and does a professional job, earning money for his services. In fact, he produces Adulting.tv.

57. Book travel for others

Even with services available to help you find great deals on travel, some folks don’t want to bother with finding the information and booking the travel. If you have the ability to manage different needs, you could help people book their vacations. You can use services like Priceline, Orbitz, Hertz, Enterprise, and more to find good deals (even vacation packages) and do the booking. Charge a premium on top of the cost of the travel, and you could turn a tidy profit.

Your turn: what are your side hustle ideas?

Do you have your own side hustle ideas? Have you been successful with a side hustle? Let us know how you make more money by leaving a comment, or by joining the discussion in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Want to breeze through the lines at the airport? Skip most of the wait at Customs? Travel in style with global entry. Read More...

I travel four to five times a year for work. My son and I travel two or three times a year otherwise. With all that travel, it’s crazy that I never bothered with Global Entry until this year.

In fact, getting Global Entry wasn’t bad at all. When I think of how much time I didn’t have to spend in line the last two years, it’s cringe-worthy. But I’ve got my pass now — and I’m ready to be your guide to Global Entry.

What is Global Entry?

Bascially, Global Entry is All The Things. If there’s a program that speeds you through an airport line (TSA Pre-Check) or lets you drive back from Mexico using a special lane (Sentri), or allows you to breeze through customs when returning from Canada (Nexus), it’s included with Global Entry.

When entering the U.S. after traveling internationally, you have the chance to skip the lines at customs. Plus, because it comes with TSA Pre-Check, you get benefits while traveling domestically. You get to use your special card to use that special line at the airport. You know — the line that moves faster and doesn’t require you to remove your shoes.

How much does Global Entry cost?

Of course, no guide to Global Entry is complete without a look at the cost. It’ll set you back $100. But that gets you five years of use. Consider this: TSA Pre-Check costs $85 for five years. For $15 more (just $3 per year), you can get the benefits of expedited entry back into the U.S.

If you think that you might travel outside the U.S. in the next five years, it’s worth the extra money to just go whole hog and get Global Entry.

Besides, you might not even have to pay for it after all. Check your credit card perks. My Delta Sky Miles card issued me a statement credit as a reimbursement for the cost of Global Entry. Other travel cards like, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, also include a Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check benefit.

Before you apply for Global Entry, make sure you check your credit card benefits. In order to get the statement credit, you have to pay with the card in question. So you need to make sure you choose the right card for your purchase if you want your Global Entry to be essentially free.

How to apply for Global Entry.

You start your application for Global Entry online. You go to the Trusted Traveler Programs page from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It’s part of the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). Emails you receive will come from GOES.

Once on the page, you need to select the “Get Started” button. You’ll see a security notification to accept before you can move forward. After accepting the terms, you are on your way. There are three that serve as a guide to Global Entry and the process of applying:

Account

Before you can move forward, you create an account with Login.gov. If you already have a Login.gov account, you won’t need to take this step. Login.gov is designed to streamline public access to different federal services. It’s an authentication that you can use for different government sites for ease.

You need an email address to create this account. Use an email address that you check fairly often so you don’t end up missing important information about your application.

Once that’s done, and you fill out your profile, you will be directed back to your application. It happens fairly seamlessly. It was pretty straightforward and simple when I went through the process.

Global Entry application

Next, you fill out the actual Global Entry application. This takes about half an hour — if you are ready with the documentation and information you need to complete the form. It’s probably one of the longest forms I’ve ever filled out. Not really surprising, though, considering that this is something that allows you easier entrance to the country.

Things will go better for you on the application if you collect what you need to get through the application.

When applying for Global Entry, you must have a passport. If you don’t have a passport, you need to get that squared away first. Because applying for a passport is such a rigorous process, your passport pretty much serves as your identification for Global Entry, and you don’t need other documents to complete the application.

Having your driver’s license on hand can also speed up the application process. If you want Global Entry as a Lawful Permanent Resident, you will need the appropriate card, and it must be machine-readable.

Information that you need to provide on your Global Entry application includes:

  • Phone number
  • Address history for the past five years (so dig up those old addresses —all of them)
  • Travel history for the past five years
  • Employment history for the past five years
  • Court documents if you’ve been convicted of any crime other than a traffic violation

Also, if you plan to drive across the border from Mexico and into the U.S., you will need detailed information about your vehicle. So get your registration out of the glove box. It should have everything you need to know.

Finally, if you have citizenships in other countries (like dual citizenship), you need to have that documentation handy.

After you finish the application, you pay your fee. You’ll receive conditional approval (or be rejected).

It’s important to note that this is conditional approval only. You’ll be given a conditional approval letter via email. Print this out. Later, you’ll bring it with your to your Global Entry interview.

Schedule your Global Entry interview

When you receive your conditional approval, you’ll be directed to schedule an in-person interview. My conditional approval only took a couple days. However, it’s possible that yours could take longer.

Scheduling the interview can get a little bit tricky. In my case, the closest place to have an interview with a TSA official was three hours away. Additionally, the earliest available time was clear into next year — six months from the time I originally applied!

The next closest place to my home was four hours away, and had an even longer wait time for an interview. In the end, I looked at my scheduled, realized I’d be in Philadelphia before I got anywhere near the end of the year, and scheduled an interview during my time in Philly.

Other than finding a convenient time to schedule an interview, the process was simple. You choose a city, and a list of potential dates and times appears. Once you schedule your interview, it’s just a matter of sitting tight until the day arrives.

The Global Entry in-person interview.

Bring your conditional approval letter and your passport. In addition to these items, you also need proof of your current address. Your driver’s license can provide this. But you also might need to bring a utility bill, bank statement, or rental payment statement. I brought a couple pieces of acceptable mail along, just to make sure I had plenty of documentation.

It makes sense to try to be on time to your in-person Global Entry interview. I arrived about half an hour early because I knew I could run into traffic along my route and planned for extra time. Turns out traffic wasn’t bad at all that morning. But better safe than sorry.

You should receive instructions about how to get to the appropriate office. The Philadelphia airport also had helpful signs directing you to the TSA offices. Pay attention because every airport is different.

However, no matter where you go, there’s a good chance that you can’t just stroll into the TSA offices. I was confronted by a door buzzer with a camera. Before I could come in, I had to give my name and why I was there. Only after they verified that I had an appointment did they send someone to escort me.

I was taken to a waiting room and sat with other people waiting for their own in-person interview. When it was my turn, an agent escorted me back into an office. There was one other desk in the office, and someone else was having an interview with another agent.

The line of questioning seemed more about personal things, rather than a checklist. It was more like the agent was trying to get a feel for me as a person, rather than seeing if I could answer rote questions. My agent was interested in the fact that I live in Idaho, but was completing my in-person interview in Pennsylvania. So I had to explain that whole situation.

He also asked me about some of my travel experiences, whether I travel alone, and what my work is. It only took about 10 minutes.

At the end of the interview, they take your picture and your fingerprints. You have to be fingerprinted if you want global entry. They use a scanner to capture the images.

Activating your Global Entry card

This guide to Global Entry isn’t quite done. Once you finish your interview, the TSA does another review of the situation and decides whether or not to grant full approval. In my case, my full approval was waiting in my email inbox by the time I made the 45-minute drive from the Philadelphia airport to my ex’s apartment. However, it can take a few days in some cases.

Your approval letter will include your known traveler number. This is the number you use when booking flights so you can get the TSA Pre-Check on your ticket. Once you have that approval, you can use the known traveler number when booking.

Most frequent flyer programs and third-party booking sites allow you to save your number as part of your profile. This way, you don’t have to enter it every time you book a flight. Instead, it’s taken care of automatically. This makes the whole process a little easier. For some airlines, though, you might need to re-enter your known traveler number when you check-in for your flight if you want that Pre-Check symbol.

Next, a couple weeks later, you will receive your Global Entry card in the mail. You need to activate it. Luckily, you can do this by logging into your Login.gov account on the Known Traveler page and choosing the right option.

You can use your Known Traveler card at the airport and as a form of ID. And, of course, you can use it when re-entering the country at Customs to expedite your arrival.

What about my kids? Do they need Global Entry?

Your Pre-Check status ensures that minors traveling with you can breeze through the line with you. However, if you want them to get through Customs with you, they need their own separate Global Entry card.

While you don’t need to worry about the residency documentation (you vouch for them), your kids do need a passport to get Global Entry. You need guardian permission to get a passport (and Global Entry) for your minor children. My ex had to sign off on my son’s passport along with my signature being involved.

Keep your documents updated.

Finally, you need to keep your documents updated in the Known Traveler system. If you have a new driver’s license or passport, you need to change the information.

After logging into your account, look for the “Update Documents” section in the navigation. You can use that to change the expiration dates, numbers, and other information so that it’s accurate.

Additionally, you have one year after your Global Entry expires to renew with minimum fuss. At the end of five years, you pay another fee and renew your status for an additional five years.

Is Global Entry right for you?

In most cases, Global Entry is worth having. It’s not much more expensive than Pre-Check, and it comes with many benefits. The TSA offers the following chart to help you compare its different traveler programs:

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Being a solopreneur is pretty great. Except when it’s not. Read More...

We hear a lot about starting a business online and becoming your own boss. In fact, this trend is so prevalent now that it’s got its own term: solopreneur.

Most of the time, I love working from home. I also making money (mostly) on my terms. Before you decide that being a solopreneur is the move for you, here are some of the realities involved.

You set your own schedule.

One of my favorite things about being on my own is the fact that I get to set my own schedule. Since I started working for a company as a W-2 employee again there are a few more restrictions, but I work from home and still get to set my own schedule much of the time.

As a solopreneur, you have freedom and flexibility to work when you want — and from where you want. It’s freedom, and one of the things I treasure most.

Sometimes you have to work even when you don’t want to.

Ok, this is true whether you have a real job or whether you’re a solopreneur. You just have to suck it up and work sometimes.

But when you have a real job, the assumption is that you can clock out at some point and take a break. When you have a business, that’s not always the case. You might be up late working, even if you want to sleep. I can’t tell you how often I work on the weekend.

You have to force yourself to work sometimes, even if it’s the last thing you want to do. And sometimes, especially at first, you find yourself working more than you ever did while holding down a regular job.

Get ready for the self-employment tax.

One thing you don’t think about when you’re working for The Man is that your company is paying half your payroll taxes. When you’re working for yourself, you pay both parts of payroll taxes.

It’s important to be prepared. You could see a higher tax bill when you quit your job, just because you no longer have an employer subsidizing part of your taxes.

Set aside money each month to go toward taxes. I like to set aside about a third of my monthly income to go toward taxes (you might feel more comfortable adjusting this amount). And remember: you should pay quarterly to reduce the chance of problems with the IRS. Plan ahead of time to avoid money problems down the road.

Sometimes it feels like you have several bosses.

Be your own boss! You’re totally in charge!

The reality for many solopreneurs is that it can feel like you’ve got multiple bosses. There are days when I’m wrestling with multiple deadlines for different clients. I definitely don’t feel like I’m my own boss in those situations!

For freelancers, it’s common to feel as though you have more than one boss. The bright side, though, is that you have the chance to fire an unreasonable client down the road when you start seeing success.

Making money online takes more than just setting up a website.

Online entrepreneurs make it look so easy. Just set up your website and boom. The money rolls in.

But does it, really?

Sure. After you’ve put in the work. And it can take years to find success with your website or store. It can happen faster, of course, but it takes work. You need to market your website, services, and products — just like any other business.

You need a plan. You need to do the work. And you need to be realistic. If you build it, they aren’t guaranteed to come. You have to entice them.

It can get lonely cooped up in your home office.

I love working from home. And part of the reason I started doing the online thing was to avoid having to people on a regular basis.

But even introverts get lonely. We need to talk to people sometimes, too. As a solopreneur, though, that human contact might not be as frequent as you’d like.

You can ease the pain a bit by heading to a co-working space or a coffee shop. Meetups, conferences, and video calls can also help. Plus, if you have a life partner who works from home, that can provide you with support as well. Of course, having your life partner at home all the time with you can have its own drawbacks.

Your friends and family just don’t get what you do.

Working online as a solopreneur is hard to explain to friends and family. I’ve got people assuming I can just drop everything and do things for them left and right.

And my IRL acquaintances think what I do is a quaint hobby. Um, no, I support my family.

Trying to explain what I do to my grandma? She didn’t think I’d “made it” until she actually saw my name in the newspaper.

Luckily, as the internet becomes an increasingly acceptable way to make a living, and as the gig economy becomes a Thing, it’s easier to explain what I do. But sometimes it can be truly maddening.

It’s possible to go to the spa on Thursday.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a flexible schedule?

This is my favorite reality of being a solopreneur. I love going to the spa on Thursday. I can almost always get an appointment, there aren’t many people there, and I can truly relax while my son is at school. It’s perfect.

Maybe the spa isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s golf. Or going to lunch with a friend. Perhaps you just want to go for a hike or play paintball. Whatever it is, go wild.

Just realize that you might have to make up for it by working on Sunday afternoon.

All your friends are working when you want to play.

It’s nice that you can go to a matinee movie on Wednesday afternoon. But you better like going alone. Because your friends with real jobs are all working.

This is a tough reality for many solopreneurs. They’re so excited that they can set a schedule to their liking, but what happens when everyone else is still on the 9-to-5 grind?

I get around it by meeting friends for lunch near their workplaces so we can enjoy a little time together. You can also find other friends to do things with, or even learn to be your own best friend.

You are responsible for your success.

This is the biggest, scariest, harshest reality of being a solopreneur. It’s also the most liberating aspect of being out there on your own. The fact that you are totally in charge of your own success is a huge deal — and it can make you or break you.

I love thinking that I can chart my own course. Even if you are still working your real job, and your solopreneurship is mostly in the side hustle stage right now, you are still taking control of your future success.

To me, even though there are hard realities associated with doing what I do, the biggest reality is also the most encouraging reality.

Are you a solopreneur? Tell us your story in the #Adulting community on Facebook

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We’re all replaceable. But what if you could be less replaceable? Get your shit together and show your employer that you really are someone they don’t want to lose. Read More...

You’ve got the job.

Now you need to keep it.

With the tough job market and concerns about student loan debt ratcheting up the worry levels, it makes sense to think about how to make yourself indispensable at work.

That way, when it’s time for lay offs – or even if you want a promotion or raise – you are more likely to be considered a valuable company asset.

If you’re trying to figure out how to make sure your employer finds you necessary, here are several strategies to try:

1. Develop strengths valuable to your company.

Pay attention. What skills does your company value?

A surefire way to become indispensable at work is to have strengths that your employer relies on.

It’s not enough just have a valuable skill, though. You also need to be one of the few people who possess it. Figure out what your strengths are, and then determine how they can translate into necessary skills that are somewhat rare at your company.

Once you do that, they’ll never want to let you go.

2. Cultivate a good attitude.

The better your attitude, the better you are for the company. True, positivity can’t make up for a lot of things, but it does go a long way.

If you are positive, see opportunities, and are good for morale, your employer will likely decide that you’re necessary. When it comes down to a choice between letting go of one of two employees, and one of you is a downer, it’s the downer that is usually out, all other things being equal.

Don’t be a downer.

3. Stay current with technology and skills.

If you’re up-to-date on all the latest technology and best practices, you are more valuable to your employer.

Plus, it can be enriching and a good way to invest in yourself to stay current with technology and keep your skills up to date.

Show that you are interested in remaining relevant in your field. As you continue to expand your skill set and ensure that your company stays ahead of the curve, you’ll make yourself indispensable at work.

4. Focus on tasks that matter.

It’s tempting to bang out a bunch of easy tasks to look productive. But almost anyone can do the easy stuff.

Instead, look to accomplish things that matter. They might not be super-easy things, but they should have a bigger impact. If you develop a reputation for doing things that matter you will be more likely to be considered indispensable.

5. Go the extra mile.

You’d think this goes without saying: go the extra mile. However, it often does need saying.

Is there a way you can add extra value? Do you go above and beyond?

When you can show that you do more than is expected, or if you can add an extra twist, you are seen as a valuable resource. You want to be seen as someone who will continue to help move the company forward, rather than someone who does the bare minimum.

It doesn’t mean you have to work overtime every week or let work take over your life. But if you can add that extra bit to your work, you will be more valuable overall.

6. Be a team player.

Are you a helper? When others know that they can come to you for a little extra help, you are likely to be seen as dispensable at work.

Collaboration is increasingly becoming a major part of doing business. If you can’t play nice with others, your employer is likely to see you as a liability, rather than an asset.

Do your best to help the team and show that you are willing to move forward with goals. Stay focused on the team goals and be ready to help the company, and your bosses will feel much better about keeping you around.

7. Show reliability.

One of the best ways to make yourself indispensable at work is to be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, can you be trusted to do it?

Meet your deadlines and be someone that others trust. Avoid over-promising. Do your best to accurately estimate what you can accomplish – and when you can reasonably get it done. Then, if you can’t meet your obligation, let someone know ASAP.

However, if you are constantly late and unable to keep up, that could indicate an issue in how you manage expectations. Review how you do things and what you can realistically get done. Underpromise and over deliver on a consistent basis, and you’ll gain a reputation for reliability.

8. Build important relationships.

Sometimes it really is about who you know. And it’s not about sucking up to your boss’s boss.

Instead, it’s more about building relationships with people important to your company. Is there a client that you could connect with and become point person with?

Can you help build a partnership? Can you introduce someone as a consultant to help solve a problem?

Think about the relationships you can enhance in work and business. As you build these relationships with your co-workers, supervisors, clients, and others, you will be seen as an integral part of the workplace, and someone to keep around.

9. Make your supervisor’s job easier.

If you really want to be indispensable at work, make your supervisor’s job easier. Do what you can to pitch in, help out, and solve problems. When your supervisor can trust you, s/he is more likely to go to bat for you.

Your supervisor knows what you do to help them with work. When they look good, and your efforts are part of the reason, they know it. Supervisors want to keep people around when they help them look good.

As a team player and as someone who shows skills and abilities that can help your company, you can become indispensable at work.

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Stop obsessing about the “perfect” relationship or partner. You want to find love with a person, not an idea. Read More...

It seems perfect. True love.

But then, somehow, it all went wrong.

Maybe you desperately want it to work still. So you make excuses and find reasons to stick around. You love someone and you’re sure you’ve found the perfect one.

When you’re in this place, there’s a good chance you’re not in love with an actual person. Instead, you’re probably in love with an idea.

The idea of love.

We like to think we’re in love. The romance. The allure of the perfect soulmate. Someone who understands us. But the truth is that, in many cases, this is an idea of love. We think we know what love means, and then we try to mold the situation (and a partner) to fit that.

Or, rather than really seeing your mate as a person, you see the “potential.” You’re in love with an idea of what the perfect romance would be, and you try to make it fit.

Here are some of the signs that you’re more in love with the idea of a person and your relationship than you are in love with the actual person:

1. You envision a future with a changed mate.

Is it all about potential when you look at your lover? If all you see is the possibility that s/he will change and turn into your ideal, you’re not in love with them.

You’re in love with an idea of them. You fantasize about how it will be different when your s.o. finally finishes school or decides that camping is really fun. Perhaps you think about all the great Broadway plays you’ll see once your lover has developed a refined taste.

When you love a person, you respect their differences and that they might not like the same things – and it’s ok. You can both enjoy your activities without the need for the other. Loving someone is about accepting that they may never come to a basketball game with you or follow the profession you think they should.

2. You live more in the future than in the present.

This goes hand-in-hand with the first sign that you’re in love with an idea and not a person.

Instead of paying attention to the present and working on yourself and your relationship, you live in the future. Your future memories and fantasies are what matter most to you.

Yes, you need to plan for the future with your s.o. But you can’t live there. Especially if your constant fantasizing about what will happen makes you grumpy that the present doesn’t live up to that ideal. You need to work on yourself and your relationship.

Living in the future puts the focus on trying to make your mate into someone else, rather than helping you become a complete person in a healthy relationship today.

3. You constantly compare your relationship to other couples.

Every couple is different. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You run into trouble, though, when you compare your relationship to what you see from other couples. When you idolize a couple for their “perfect” relationship, and you want to do things just like they do, you’re on dangerous ground.

Rather than looking at the relationship and working on it in a way that makes you and your lover both happy, you constantly wish it could be something else.

Looking at the public face of other couples is dangerous. Mainly because what looks so perfect on social media might not actually be. You like the idea of what this couple has built, and aren’t really interested in the person you’re with.

When you compare your relationship to other couples, you spend too much time looking outside, to what others are doing. Instead, you should be looking at your mate, seeing a person, and focusing on whether or not this relationship makes sense.

4. On paper, it’s perfect.

Sometimes we look at someone and, instead of seeing them for who they are, we check boxes.

Athletic? Check.

Pretty eyes? Check.

A business major? Check.

Maybe you even share a lot of interests. You both like the same music and movies. You have similar religious backgrounds. It seems like the perfect match.

And maybe it is.

But when you focus on how “perfect” all these “qualifications” make your partner, you aren’t actually seeing a person. Instead, you’re seeing a collection of characteristics that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to present to your mom.

You’re in love with an idea. The idea that you have this great match, your parents will approve, and you’ll be proud to go to all the dinners and parties with this person on your arm.

Unfortunately, just because someone seems perfect on paper, that’s not always the case. None of us are perfect, and you need to look through the traits and see the person. Sometimes, even with the surface compatibility, you’re not actually good for each other on a deeper level.

5. You find yourself changing to meet their expectations.

Maybe instead of expecting your mate to change, you start changing yourself.

Your s.o. is perfect on paper, and things are a little rocky right now. You don’t want to lose the ideal, so you decide to make some changes. If you change to meet your lover’s ideal, then things will smooth out, they will love you more, and it will be perfect forever.

Nope, nope, nope.

We can all improve as people. Progress is about being a little better each day. But that doesn’t mean you have to change the core of who you are just to please your lover and get them to stick around.

If you are with someone who places contingencies on their affection, and they want you to change into someone else, it’s not really love. And you are more in love with an idea of not being alone than in being with this person.

Not too long ago, someone who knows I’m just not having any more children said this to me: “If you find the one, you’ll want to give him a child if he really wants one.”

Um, no.

If I find “the one” he will respect that I don’t want any more children. In fact, if someone really wants children, it’s clear I’m not the one for him. We aren’t compatible.

Sticking around and trying to change who you are and what you want out of life just to be in a “perfect” relationship isn’t love.

Don’t settle for an idea.

Don’t fall prey to the idea that you need to have someone. This is what leads us to being in love with an idea instead of a person.

Instead of trying to find someone, anyone, to fill a hole in your life, start by figuring out who you are and enjoying life on your own. Once you are happy with yourself, you are more likely to attract others who are happy with themselves – including potential partners.

Look for people, and look at them as people, rather than fantasies or ideas. In the long run, you’ll have more rewarding relationships.

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Are you in a sort-of relationship without wanting to commit? Not sure what to call it? You, my friend, are in a situationship. Read More...

There is no doubt that I love the single life.

But sometimes I find myself spending time with one person enough that things start moving into “boyfriend-like” territory. But I don’t actually want a boyfriend. And I certainly don’t want anyone moving in.

What are you supposed to do with that?

Luckily, a friend of mine came to the rescue.

This perfectly describes some of my recent interactions. It’s that weird place where you are kinda seeing each other. You’re more than dating, but one or both of you are unwilling to totally commit. It’s beyond friends with benefits, but you’re not going to take it to the next level. At least for now.

So, are you in a situationship? Let’s take a look at some of the indications that you are involved in this type of pseudo-relationship:

You don’t want to label it.

The first sign that you’re in a situationship is that you don’t want to label it. When people ask if you’re dating, you say things like, “Sort of.” You don’t want to call your … person … a boyfriend or girlfriend.

If you do come up with a label, it’s sorta lame. I sometimes refer to the subject of my situationship my “not-boyfriend.” The idea is to avoid actually committing full-on, leaving room for other dating experiences, should they come up.

You aren’t actually dating anyone else.

Have you reverted to the easiest situation? Is it easier to just hang with your not-girlfriend than go on a date with someone new?

A hallmark of a situationship is that you claim to be “free” to go out with other people, but you don’t actually do it very often. You’re basically exclusive, but you don’t feel a level of commitment that comes with true exclusivity.

If a better opportunity presented itself, you would totally bounce.

You aren’t going on dates anyway.

Forget dating other people. You aren’t even going on dates in your situationship. Instead, you hang around the house, much like a long-time couple. You might even sleep over at each other’s places sometimes. Netflix and chill is basically the order of the day and you rarely make an effort to go on a real date.

You still fly solo at events.

Family function? You go by yourself. Holiday party? Ditto.

While you might bring your situationship buddy along to some things, you’re still not “there” yet in terms of making them a permanent fixture in your life and bringing them along to all the events.

When making vacation plans, you’re not really interested in ensuring that you have company; you’re perfectly happy alone. While you don’t mind traveling with them, you’re not interested in doing it all the time.

Your friends and family might not be aware there’s someone.

By the way, do the people who know you best have any idea that there’s a Thing happening? Maybe your closest friends and family members know that “something” is going on, but they haven’t actually met your situationship person.

Or, maybe they have met the person, but only on occasion. You certainly aren’t arranging double dates with your brother and sister-in-law or planning fun couples hikes with your BFF and their squeeze over the weekend. Sometimes there’s a casual “this is so-and-so” when you do bring them along to something. You don’t make plans to do things with the couples.

Instead, you mostly try to keep your worlds from colliding. You don’t want your situationship to be part of the rest of your life. Or, at least, you’re trying to put it off as long as humanly possible.

Your Facebook status remains resolutely single.

You’re not even willing to elevate the status to “it’s complicated,” although for some people in a situationship that is an option.

You do have pictures of yourself with your situationship person, but they are relatively innocuous. They show you having fun, but they aren’t that much different from the pictures you take with your friends. You certainly don’t post all the pictures you might have of the two of you together.

Maybe you refer to yourself as “mostly single” (as I do), or you find some other way to subtly clue people into the fact that you are kinda sorta maybe seeing someone in a way that looks similar to a relationship, but you really aren’t doing the relationship thing.

Your future plans don’t take the other person into account.

Sure, sometimes you talk about the future or daydream about things you’ll do together. But, really, your future plans don’t really account for the other person. You make plans that could have room for the other person, but it’s not really your primary concern.

You just aren’t making long-term future plans together. When you think of your future, it’s attractive to you whether or not your buddy has a place in it.

Is a situationship a bad thing?

A lot of what I read about situationships seem to imply that they are bad things. However, I’m not sure it’s an awful thing to be involved in a situationship.

When you’re looking for a degree of stable companionship with someone you enjoy, but you don’t want to move in together or get married or do whatever it is that committed couples do today, a situationship can be just the thing.

The biggest risk is that you are content with the situation, while the other person starts developing stronger feelings and different expectations. What happens when the other person starts thinking about a future together and wants to level up to a real relationship? At that point, you need a Come to Jesus and figure out what’s next. That next might even be taking the plunge and committing.

If one of you is not happy with the situationship, but the other is just fine living in this pseudo-relationship indefinitely, it’s time to end it. The other person needs a chance to develop a relationship along the lines of what they want.

However, if you’re both cool with the situationship, there’s no point in messing up something you both enjoy. It doesn’t matter what those around you say. Figure out what’s working for you, and then go for it.

Are you in a situationship? How’s it working out for you? Let us know what you think about this new relationship category in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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