Look your best — for less!

If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve had an existential crisis while cleaning out your bathroom cabinet or toiletry closet.

As you sort through individual makeup and skincare items, you start tallying up how much each one costs. Soon you find yourself well into the triple digits — and vow to never buy beauty products again.

It’s a vicious cycle, made all the more difficult by societal pressure to always look your best. If you work in a highly social or competitive field, taking a day off your beauty routine just isn’t an option. It would be like a man showing up to a traditional office job in shorts and a tank top.

Being a woman can be expensive, but it’s possible to maintain a flawless beauty regimen without breaking the bank.

The key is finding ways to cut corners, find suitable replacements and locate the best deals. Here are my best low-cost beauty tips:

Shop in unexpected places.

If you’re used to buying beauty products at Sephora or your closest drugstore, prepare to have your world turned upside down.

I love buying my skincare goodies at…Costco.

Yep, that’s right. The bulk superstore carries my favorite CeraVe body lotion and face wash — at a better price than anywhere else I’ve seen. You can also find razors, vitamins, and contact solution for great deals. Your biggest problem will be finding the storage space for all your items.

Plus, Costco has a great return policy. If you try a new lip balm and hate it, you can always bring it back with the receipt — no questions asked.

Yes, you have to pay an annual fee to join Costco. But the reality is that the money you save on low-cost beauty and personal products more than makes up for that fee.

I’ve also bought hair, makeup, and skincare products at TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, where you can find high-end shampoo and conditioner for 50% off the retail listing. I buy my 33 oz. Redken and Joico products at Nordstrom Rack where they cost $15 each — instead of buying them at a salon or other retailer for $25 to $35 a bottle.

Try the places I mentioned, but you can also ask friends and look around for your own secret spots. Maybe there’s a bulk beauty supply store in town. Perhaps a friend can get you a special deal. You might be surprised where you can find reputable products for a drastic markdown.

Sample products beforehand.

How often do you hear about a great face scrub or eyeliner and buy it? Only to find out that it gives you a bad reaction or ends up running all over your face?

That’s why I sample products before purchasing. It’s one of the best low-cost beauty tips I can give you. Even though many stores do have a return policy if you’re unhappy with a product, it’s easier (and less wasteful) to sample beauty products before you buy them.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some retailers won’t take something back if it’s been opened. Even if you have a bad reaction, you might not be able to bring it back (unless you got it at Costco). Some stores like Ulta are stingy about returns and can deny your claim, even if you have a good reason.

Before you get too far, though, it’s just better to take a step back and make sure you’re getting what works for you.

Department stores and specialty beauty shops usually let you try products with no problem. This can save you the time and money you’d spend buying something and returning it later. In fact, one thing to try is to give something a try at the Macy’s or Sephora counter, and then see if you can find the same thing elsewhere — for much less.

Find duplicates of your favorite products.

If you’re like me, you have certain things you just love. And that’s great. But what if the thing you love is just so expensive? What if you have a favorite lipstick that you can’t bear to let go — but you also can’t justify the $25 price tag?

Find its doppelganger. That’s right. This is the low-cost beauty tips version of shopping generic. It works when you shop for groceries, and it will work as you figure out which beauty products to use.

There are countless beauty bloggers like Temptalia who do the work of comparing drugstore brands to high-end versions to see where you can save money.

Sometimes the more expensive item really is better quality. More often, though, you can find a suitable counterpart that costs a lot less. And that counterpart probably won’t be noticed by anyone else. It does the job, helps you look amazing, and costs much, much less.

When I was really struggling financially, I visited Temptalia all the time to find drugstore versions of my favorite high-end products. Even now that I earn a decent living, I still use many of those products instead of their expensive alternatives.

True story: if you want more money to travel, or enjoy other things in your life, saving money on beauty and skincare products is one of the best ways to go. Simply by saving 50% a year on beauty, makeup, and skincare items, it’s possible for me to fund at least one weekend getaway (and sometimes two).

Do your research.

I’m meticulous when it comes to shopping for new beauty products. I’ll ask my friends, read reviews online (MakeupAlley is my favorite), and look at photos in Google’s image search. I also like searching through Reddit forums Skincareaddiction and Makeupaddiction.

This probably sounds like a lot of work, but I rarely buy makeup or skincare products that are new to me. If I like something, I’ll keep using it until it stops working or gets discontinued. And that’s why putting in the time to do the research is one of the best low-cost beauty tips. A little time now can go a long way later.

By doing my research thoroughly, I’m more likely to be satisfied whenever I make my next purchase. I try not to get lured in by deceptive online advertising, and I’m not a brand snob. I don’t mind buying a $5 eyeshadow palette from Wet ‘n Wild if the reviews are good — and if it looks great on me.

There’s no reason to spend $50 on something when the $5 version works just as well. By doing plenty of legwork, I’m more likely to find a frugal option that suits my needs. And, of course, once you find that low-cost beauty version that works for you, you can keep buying it at a discount.  The upfront investment of time yields dividends for years to come.

If you’re reading this article, you’re already on the right path.

Use it up.

I’m the type of person who will buy five different products for the same problem. If I have a pimple, I won’t hesitate to buy a new acne cream — even if I already have three in my medicine cabinet. This is an area where my frugality is severely lacking.

And that problem means that I spend more money — and waste more product — than I need to.

Instead of buying a new product whenever you feel like it, try to use up what you already have. Most skincare and beauty products have an expiration date, so many can go bad if they’re just sitting in your drawer. Also, if you use a product consistently for a significant period of time, you’ll have a better idea if it actually works for you.

Before rushing out to buy something new, use what you already have. Whether it’s overnight face cream, a serum, or a tube of lipstick, make sure that you are completely using up what you already have.

I’m trying to get better about this, and you should too.

Treat your body right.

This sounds like a given, but simply having a healthy lifestyle will negate the need for many products. That’s right: one of the best low-cost beauty tips is to just take care of yourself by engaging in healthy habits.

When I sleep well, I can skip using concealer. Think about it: good sleep leads to fewer dark circles. Being well-rested can also boost your mood — which in terms means fewer frowns and the lines that come with them.

When I drink enough water, my face is more dewy. Remaining hydrated can help you maintain smooth skin and help in other areas. Drinking enough water can reduce your need for some skin care products. If you get enough sleep and drink a lot of water, you might not need serums. Or maybe you won’t need to use as much moisturizer or toner.

On top of that, some researchers claim that a poor diet can cause outbreaks and other skin problems. When you eat healthily, your body gets the nutrients it needs to look its best. Foods with antioxidants can help as well. Reduce the amount of processed foods you eat and limit the sweets. Replace the junk food with healthier choices. You don’t have to never eat junk food again, but be realistic about how much you consume — and cut back on it.

If you binge drink regularly or smoke cigarettes, consider cutting back —both for your health and for your appearance. You might be surprised at how many years hard drinking and smoking can add to your life (and your looks).

Finally, adding exercise to your life can help you reduce the need for beauty products. Exercising gives you a healthy glow overall. It also promotes circulation, which helps get nutrients cycling through your body. Maintaining flexibility and health can help you feel less stress, and that means a better look overall.

It takes time to change these habits, but by slowing changing your lifestyle can reduce the amount of time and money you spend on your beauty regimen.

Wait for sales and coupons.

I get a lot of my makeup at Sephora nowadays, which is one of the most expensive places to buy skincare products. One trip to Sephora can be totally brutal on your pocketbook.

To save money, I try to wait until April and November when the store has their semi-annual sale. I know that I’ll be able to save money during these time periods and my expensive care products will suddenly be less expensive.

Ulta also has sales around the holidays for their high-end products. Understanding these cycles can help you plan your purchases throughout the year. It’s not something that just works for best beauty tips, either. It can work when you’re buying food, clothes, and other items. When you know what to expect, you can plan ahead and save money in the long run.

On top of seasonal sales, you can find weekly coupons for drugstore brands. These types of deals can help you out on a regular basis. First of all, you’re already spending less by choosing these stores. Then, you save even more because of coupons and sales.

Stores like Target often have sales in the makeup and beauty departments, so look at the weekly ad before you shop.

If I’m shopping online, I use the browser extension Ebates to get cash-back on my purchases. You can also use an extension from a site like Swagbucks to turn your purchases into gift cards for stores you prefer.

Another strategy to save money on beauty supplies is to buy a discounted gift card from CardPool or Gift Card Granny to save even more. These types of sites allow you to buy gift cards at less than face value and then spend them at your favorite store. Consider: get a Sephora gift card at a discount and then use it during a sale. Use it online and you could see even bigger savings as you stack strategies and discounts.

Skip the subscription boxes.

I’ll never forget when I got my first beauty subscription box. My friend Danielle had been raving about how they had introduced her to seriously life-changing products, so I decided to give it a go.

I signed up for Ipsy, which costs $10 a month and promises at least five products along with a custom-designed pouch. I filled out the Ipsy questionnaire, which asked what kind of products I wanted and what my biggest skincare and makeup concerns were. My first package arrived a few weeks later in a hot pink envelope.

I eagerly tore into it — and was instantly disappointed.

Inside, I found gold eyeliner, scented lip balm, hair oil, blush, and a purple eyeshadow. I sampled all those products, but in the end, I only really liked the blush. Had I accidentally said on my questionnaire that I wanted to try bold colors like purple eyeshadow and gold eyeliner? Didn’t I tell Ipsy I was looking for a “natural” look?

I got one more package before I canceled my subscription. Even now when I hear my friends rave about a beauty box, I ignore them. Beauty boxes are fun, but since you can’t return the products you don’t like, they can often be a huge money sink. Plus, if you don’t like and use the products, you still have to go out and find what you do like.

I recommend skipping them and trying products in person at Sephora, where you can sample for free. And, if you like the idea of getting beauty products regularly, check to see if what you like is available through programs like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save. You set it and forget it — and it comes each month, no problem.

Sign up for the rewards program.

I love shopping at Sephora for many reasons, but I especially love their rewards program. If you’re a Sephora Beauty Insider, you earn one point for each dollar you spend. You can redeem points for trial sizes of popular products.

This is a good way to test products and even get solid mileage out of them before paying full price. I usually save my points until I find something I really need, like a cleanser I can take with me on a flight or a 3 oz bottle of hairspray. You even get a free item on your birthday. I’ve gotten Tarte blush, Philosophy body wash, and Fresh soy cleanser.

Ulta also has a rewards program which lets you redeem points for coupons on your purchases. If you spend more than $450 a year, you’ll earn more points every time you shop.

This strategy works best with brand loyalty, though. And it can still cost you. If you really want to keep it to low-cost beauty tips, steer clear of the loyalty to stores and brands and get what’s cheapest that works well for you.

Swap with friends.

If you’re like most women, you probably have some makeup or skincare items you bought, tried once, and didn’t return. They probably sit in the back of your closet where you eventually forget about them entirely.

Try to swap those long-forgotten products with your loved ones and acquaintances. One of my good friends got a concealer sample from Ipsy that was far too light for her complexion, so she gave it to me. It ended up becoming the best concealer I’ve ever used. My mom and I often swap products with each other since we have a similar skin tone.

You can even set up a fun swap party where everyone has to bring gently used items they no longer need. This is a great way to clean out your medicine cabinet and get more product without wasting items or spending a lot of money.

Decide when to splurge.

The makeup and skincare products in my cabinet vary between drugstore and high-end. My goal is to buy the best product I can that also fits my budget. Sometimes, I get lucky and find something at Target that works. Other times, I have to go to Sephora.

I splurge on my foundation, eyeliner, and acne products. I’ve found that my $40 foundation looks better and lasts longer than the Maybelline one I had before. I also know that my $8 Aquaphor ointment works better than anything I could find at the mall — just like my $15 CeraVe cleanser. For lipstick, I try to buy Sephora-level products, although I can usually find decent doppelgangers at drug stores.

Sometimes the most expensive products work no better than their cheaper counterparts — or if they do, the quality is negligible. Saving money is almost always about making sacrifices, so just decide where you want to draw the line.

Keep your routine simple.

I’ve always envied women who could contour, applying foundation and concealer like an artist. I’d love to create the illusion of cheekbones, but I could never master the technique. Or, rather, I never took the time to practice the technique long enough to become good at it.

Instead, my routine is simple. Foundation, concealer, blush, eyeliner, mascara, and — on special occasions — eyeshadow. By keeping my normal routine simple, I negate the need for extra products like a highlighter, bronzer or setting powder. Plus, it takes me less than 10 minutes to put it all together.

My skincare strategy has grown more complex as I’ve added anti-aging serums and lotions to the mix, but I try to keep things as simple as I can while still meeting my needs. Overall, I try to avoid buying a new type of product unless I’m sure I need it — and will actually use it. The fewer products you need, the less you’ll have to buy. And the more money you’ll save.

The same goes for your hair. If you don’t dye your hair, there’s no need to worry about paying for touch-ups or special shampoo. No matter what part of you you’re trying to enhance, the simpler your routine, the more money you save. Along with adopting healthy habits, keeping it simple is among the best low-cost beauty tips.

Compare bottles fairly.

If you’ve ever tried to downsize your grocery bill, you know the need to compare prices per ounce to get the best deal. Smaller bottles are typically more expensive per-unit, so it’s usually cheaper to buy the larger size.

Beauty products are the same. The smaller the bottle, the more it costs. What’s also annoying is that one bottle of foundation might be 1.5 ounces, while another is 1.9 — and unlike your local grocery store, Sephora won’t list the cost per ounce on the label. If you can’t decide between two similar products, do the math before you buy to make the best decision.

Remember that the price-per-unit on most products will scale down as the size scales up, but that’s not always the case. That’s why it’s so important to do the math yourself (use the calculator on your smartphone), so you’re not stuck with a huge tub of lotion that actually costs more than the regular size.

Save hundreds a year with these low-cost beauty tips.

By combining these low-cost beauty tips, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars a year. Plus, you’ll look and feel like a better, more natural you.

What are your favorite beauty products and tips? Let us know by joining the #AdultingHALP Facebook group.

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It’s ok to get your freak on. Here’s how to do it comfortably with your partner. Read More...

If your sexual tastes go beyond the traditional, you’re not alone – Americans are getting kinkier by the minute.

As a society, we’ve started to move past the stigma and shame associated with fetishes and kinks. But not everyone is comfortable exploring their kinkier side, and that can cause serious problems in a relationship.

Mismatched sexual desires can be a relationship-killer, and many people avoid the conversation altogether. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the problem go away.

If you’re the kinky one in a relationship, it’s up to you to make sure your sexual needs are being fulfilled. Your partner might not be open to trying everything, but you might also be surprised at how receptive they are. Some people need a little encouragement to bring out their freaky side.

Before you give up hope, here are a few things to try:

Talk about it with your partner.

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s shocking just how many relationship issues persist due to a lack of communication.

If you’ve been scared to bring up your kinky side to your partner, now’s the perfect time to tell them. Start off slow. Talk about your favorite kink, and why it turns you on. Make sure you’re in a setting where you’re both comfortable and alone.

Find out if they are interested in learning more. If they are open to it, maybe send them a link to your favorite porn video with that kink and ask them what they think. Ask them subtle questions about the fetish, like if they’ve ever tried it or been interested.

Gauge their responses carefully. Do they sound curious or turned off?

Take it slow, and give your partner time to think.

Sex therapist Lanae St. John of The MamaSutra says you should do this during a non-sexual time so the person doesn’t feel pressured to decide to try something right away. Also, never demonstrate the kink on your partner without their full and affirmative consent. Your partner needs to feel safe in order to explore something new.

You can also send them a link to Mojo Upgrade, a sex questionnaire that examines your interest in various sexual positions, scenarios, and fetishes. You’ll each take the questionnaire separately, and the site will only send you a list of ideas you’re both into. That way, there’s no fear of you exposing your wildest fantasies to a partner who’s not into it.

These are non-threatening ways to bring up your kink. And it’s vital that you do so in a way that doesn’t put pressure on your partner. If you feel like you need a little distance, the Mojo Upgrade can help — as can my next suggestion.

See a sex therapist together.

If you’re still having trouble communicating your desires, see a sex therapist. A sex therapist specializes in helping people understand their sexual needs and fulfill them in a consensual way.

A sex therapist can help your partner understand why you like something, and help you realize why your significant other might be apprehensive. You can find a qualified professional through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

One of our favorite sex educators is Bez Stone. She offers insights into why we’re so uncomfortable with sex, and what you can do about it. Sometimes, it’s less about the kinkiness and more about understanding your partner and being able to have a mutually satisfying experience based on grownup realities, rather than the erroneous information we received as teenagers.

Praise them for trying something kinky.

A partner who isn’t kinky the same way you are might feel scared to try it, even if it’s a common scenario like bondage or choking.

Going out on a limb sexually is a frightening experience for many people. If they decide to go along with your idea, be encouraging, supportive and avoid criticism. Yes, they might not be doing it “right,” but at least they’re doing it.

It’s the same way you’d treat a boyfriend who bakes your favorite dessert on your birthday. Sure, the cake might not taste the same way your mom made it, but you should still show your appreciation. A person who feels shamed for doing something is less likely to try it again. You can still offer suggestions or corrections, but be gentle, understanding, and show your enthusiasm for the next time.

Avoid pressure.

If there’s one thing that will destroy your sex life, it’s pressuring your partner to do something they aren’t interested in. It’s ok to mention a fetish a few times, but if your partner always says no or seems uncomfortable, stop bringing it up. Pressuring your partner probably won’t work, and even if it does it will just lead to resentment.

Sometimes, backing off and waiting a while to bring the issue up again works better. Your partner might want more time to get used to the idea. If they’re unsure, waiting could show them how willing you are to be patient and understanding.

Decide if it’s a dealbreaker.

While sex isn’t necessarily the most important thing in a relationship, it is a vital component of a healthy romantic partnership. In my college psych class, we learned about the Venn diagram of relationships. It had three circles: love, sex, and friendship.

Image credit: Alivox.net

If you have sex and love, you have a relationship based on lust and infatuation. When you have friendship and sex, you’re friends-with-benefits. If you only have friendship and love, you’re missing the physical component.

To have a successful partnership, all three circles need to align. When sex is missing or inadequate, a third of your relationship becomes fractured. If your sex life starts to feel lackluster and your partner is unwilling to change, it could be time to move on.

And, quite frankly, it can help to figure this out before you get married (if you decide to marry). After all, what happens if you are a couple years into a marriage before you realize that your sex life is a total dealbreaker. Even if you decide not to have sex before marriage, talking about the kinky stuff you like ahead of time can at least give you a clue — and even be a warning to your potential mate.

Where to go next with your relationship.

St. John says that sometimes couples with mismatched sex interests go outside of their relationships to find what they’re looking for. This kind of open relationship doesn’t work for everyone, but it is an option in some cases. But making an open relationship work is its own challenge.

Carefully think about what matters most to you and your partner. Think through the situation to see if you can make something kinky work, or if you need to seek satisfaction elsewhere. Be realistic and open as you go on this journey.

And invite your partner to come with you. Your partner might surprise you.

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You’re saving all right. You’re just putting your money in the wrong place. Read More...

Saving money is like eating healthy, sleeping or exercising. All the expert advice tends to boil down to one thing – you should do more of it.

But while working hard is great, working smart is even better. You can save every spare penny you earn, but planning for your financial future isn’t just about being frugal. You need to make sure that money is allocated properly and put to specific use.

Think of it like eating a balanced diet versus living on broccoli, chicken breast, and tap water. Sure, those are very healthy options, but a good diet requires some diversification and a little forethought to prevent vitamin deficiencies. Planning for your financial future takes a similar approach.

Your savings are a powerful tool – are you putting that money to good use?

The wrong place for your emergency fund.

When I ask people where they keep their emergency fund, they often say something like, “Oh, it’s in my regular checking account.”

Wrong. Keeping your emergency fund in your everyday checking account is like keeping a box of cookies on the counter when you’re on a diet. You should store your emergency fund like you’d hide the last box of Thin Mints — out of sight, out of mind. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to spend your money.

Other people have told me they invest all or part of their emergency fund — another bad choice. Since you can’t plan on when you’ll need your emergency fund, you shouldn’t risk it in the stock market.

(Miranda’s note: Actually, I have a bit of a disagreement here with our writer. I even keep part of my emergency fund in a taxable investment account. See how I emergency fund in this video done for Facebook Live.)

An emergency fund should always be liquid or easily accessible, like in a savings or money market account. Some consumers store theirs in a certificate of deposit (CD),  which has a maturity date. If you access your CD beforehand, you may forfeit several month’s worth of interest and pay a fee.

Carefully consider how and when you might need to access your emergency fund and come up with a plan for making sure you get the money you need.

The wrong place for your retirement fund.

A few weeks ago, my friend Martha asked me if she should move her IRA account to a different bank. She had been investing steadily for a few years but hadn’t seen any huge returns. For the past eight years, we’ve seen the second-longest bull market on record, so Martha should have seen growth in her IRA.

I asked her what she was investing in.

“Nothing,” she told me. “I didn’t realize an IRA was an investment account.”

Martha made a classic error I see from lots of new investors. They open an IRA or a 401k, fund it every month and then fail to choose investments. The money languishes in their cash settlement account, not growing at all.

Thankfully, Martha caught this mistake in her late 20s. A financial planner friend of mine told me about a client who spent decades depositing money in her IRA without making sure she was actually investing. She was in her 50s when he realized what was happening. If she had been investing, she could have retired already. Now she has to work at least another decade.

If you already have an IRA or 401k set up, access your account to see where that money is actually going. Is it set up in an index fund, a bond fund or a target-date fund? Or are you like my friend Martha?

You don’t want to be saving enough for retirement but putting it in the wrong place. The key to growing wealth over time is the right amount of money combined with consistent investment over a couple of decades.

Call the customer service department if you’re confused on how to select a fund since these websites can be painful to navigate. I had to do this when setting up my IRA with Vanguard. Not sure what kind of fund to choose? Talk to a financial planner who can take into account your age, current portfolio and risk tolerance to create an appropriate mix.

The wrong place for your short-term savings.

My friend Lauren recently told me she was saving for her down payment in an Acorns account. Acorns is an app that rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar and invests the difference in low-fee funds. It’s a great app for people who want to maximize their investments without doing a lot of legwork.

She was probably saving enough each month to work toward her goal. However, because the money was in the stock market, a large market event could have wiped out the down payment fund and ruined her plans.

Investing the money you might need within a couple years means you’re gambling with your savings. Sure, the market might go up and you could see a boost to your car fund or vacation savings goal — but stocks could also drop, leaving you with less.

Here’s what I do: My husband and I have separate savings accounts for our car repair/replacement fund, down payment fund, and vacation fund. If we need to pay for an oil change, I can transfer the money from our car repair fund into our regular checking account.

Our savings accounts have an interest rate of 1%, so we earn a few bucks every month. It’s not the double-digit returns we’d get if we invested the money, but there’s no risk of losing the principal.

Figure out where your money should be.

Yes, you need to make sure you’re saving enough money for your goals. But it’s also important to consider where you put that money. For long-term goals like saving for retirement and paying for your child’s college, you can consider using index funds and dollar-cost averaging over time.

With shorter-term goals, more liquid accounts with a guarantee of principal can make sense. Think about when you might need to access your money, your current risk tolerance, and plan accordingly.

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Persistent, but innocent or completely inappropriate behavior? Here’s how you can tell. Read More...

With the recent upswell of sexual harassment allegations both in Hollywood and Washington, victims of sexual abuse are starting to come out of their shells. Sexual misconduct isn’t happening more often, but victims now feel emboldened to share their stories and name the people who have mistreated them.

But for every victim stepping forward, there are still plenty who remain silent – often because they don’t fully understand the line between harassment and flirting. Sexual misconduct has always been vaguely defined by the masses, but that definition is starting to crystallize as the public turns to address the epidemic.

Like many women, I’ve experienced my fair share of sexual harassment, both in the workplace and elsewhere. Here’s where I draw the line.

What is the difference between flirting and sexual harassment?

The line between flirting and sexual harassment can seem hazy. What’s innocent and flirty to one person may be totally inappropriate to someone else. A kind smile can seem lewd to its recipient.

To me, the difference between flirting and sexual harassment is the frequency with which it occurs, as well as any escalation in the nature of the behavior. For example, telling me I’m pretty once is flirting – repeating it multiple times becomes sexual harassment. This is especially true if I’ve made it clear I have no interest in the other person.

When you view it that way, it’s easy to see the line between flirting and harassment. Men don’t have to worry about being accused of wrongdoing if they don’t continuously try to woo an obviously disinterested woman.

However, flirting can automatically become sexual harassment when it’s done by someone in a position of power. For example, I used to intern at a local magazine where the editor-in-chief had a reputation for pursuing the young interns. His actions were so widespread that multiple people warned me before I started working there.

Sure enough, a few weeks into the gig, the editor approached one of the interns and asked her out for a drink. She said no because she wasn’t 21 yet, and we tried to convince her to complain to HR about it.

“But he didn’t do anything bad,” she told us. “Maybe it was just going to be a friendly drink.”

At the time, I didn’t have the proper context for why an editor asking out an intern is problematic, but now I know. If you have authority over someone, treating them like a sexual object is always sketchy. They can’t say no without worrying about what it could do to their career.

The legal definition of sexual harassment.

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment not only includes sexual comments or physical advances, but also general statements about one particular sex. For example, if a male coworker complains that all women are golddiggers, that’s sexual harassment.

The EOEC says sexual harassment becomes illegal “when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

Anyone can be a harasser, including a vendor, client, peer or boss. The harasser can be your same gender and have a similar or different sexual orientation from you. So yes ladies, you can be accused of sexual harassment just as much as men.

What you can do.

If you’re being sexually harassed in the workplace, the first step is to document everything. Successful cases are made when the accuser has details, such as where and when the harassment occurred and what exactly was said and done. It can also help to share what happened with people you know who can back you up.

After you’ve documented the instances of harassment, it’s time to go to your human resources department. Tell them you’d like to file a sexual harassment report and bring all the details with you. It’s even better if you have concrete proof, such as texts, emails or voicemails. The stronger your evidence, the more likely it is people will believe you and take action.

Don’t stop writing down what happens after the sexual harasser has stopped bothering you. It’s important to note what your company does in response, in case you want to sue them later on.

If you report sexual harassment to HR, you should know that many companies don’t punish people who are accused of sexual harassment. In fact, sometimes the person reporting it has to deal with blowback if the person blamed is popular or has significant clout in the office.

It’s also OK if you don’t feel like reporting it, just like my friend decided not to back in the day. Not every company has a strong history of defending accusers and reporting it can be more traumatizing than the initial interaction. Do what makes sense for you and your mental health.

What are your feelings or experiences on this timely topic? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Make THIS the year you get out of that career rut. Read More...

If you’re a young person trying to succeed professionally today, you’ve probably found yourself in a career rut at some point.

Chances are, you’re in one right now.

While showing up on time and getting your work done used to be enough to gradually ascend through the ranks, today’s career-savvy professionals need to stay active. That could mean changing positions, changing companies or even changing industries.

Mostly, it just means changing something.

Before you act, you need a plan. As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to come up with a clean, effective career strategy for the new year.

Determine your goals.

You can’t create a roadmap until you know the destination — and you can’t have a great career until you know where you want you to go. Do you want to enter the private sector after working in the public space? Do you want to advance to a managerial role? Do you want to change industries entirely?

Write down what you want your career to look like at the end of the next year. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched the goal seems, just write it down. For example, my goal is to be earning 50% more. It sounds extravagant to want 50% more money in just 12 months’ time, but that’s my goal.

Your goal will form the basis for your career strategy going forward.

Your goals should follow the SMART rule and be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, it’s one thing to say, “I want to earn more money.” Someone with a SMART goal would say, “I want to be earning $65,000 annually by December 2018, and I will do so by applying to new jobs at larger companies.”

Look at the goal you’ve written down. Is it specific and relevant? Does it give you a clear set of directions or are you unsure how to put it in motion? Remember, the people who actually reach their dreams aren’t always the smartest, most talented or hardest-working. They’re the ones who have a clear sense of where they’re going and how to get there.

Identify your weaknesses.

Once you know your goal, it’s time to figure out what’s standing between you and your dream. For example, if you want to work part-time hours for a full-time income, identify what’s holding you back. Are you charging too little? Are you targeting the wrong customers? Is your workflow not efficient enough?

It will probably take some time to figure out what you’re missing, so don’t rush through this part of your career strategy. I consider myself a pretty insightful person and sometimes it takes weeks before I figure out where I’m going wrong.

Find solutions.

Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, you can figure out the best way to fix them — and take your career strategy to the next level. For example, if you’re currently underpaid, you know that you need to negotiate a raise. But if you’re bad at negotiating and standing up for yourself, then asking for more money might be like walking on hot coals.

What should you do? Read every book about negotiating, visualize the scenario in your mind and practice with your friends. Then, you can go to your boss and negotiate for real.

Another way to reach your goals faster is to find a community of like-minded people striving for the same thing. When you’re around people who share your dreams, you can find resources and information faster than if you’re going at it alone.

If you find a community that seems too big, consider creating a mastermind group with two or three other people. You can hold weekly calls and keep each other accountable. I’m in a mastermind group with other female freelance writers and it’s been a huge comfort throughout my years of self-employment.

You can find your community online or in person at networking events. It’s probably easier to locate a group on Facebook, but don’t underestimate the power of meeting people IRL.

Consider confiding in your closest friends and family members about your situation, even if it seems like they can’t help. I often tell my friends about issues I’m having because they can offer a different point of view than what I’m used to.

Stay focused.

Once your career strategy is set, ignore the squirrels. A squirrel can be an exciting conference or a marketing strategy that promises to solve your problems – anything that draws you in by promising the world. Usually, though, squirrels are distractions that lead you away from what you’re working on.

The simple career strategy you’ve already set is almost always better than chasing squirrels, and the more time you spend distracted, the less time you spend getting things done. When I get a tantalizing email with a catchy headline, I ask myself if it’s a squirrel.

Most of the time, I end up deleting these emails because I know I’m already on the path to success.

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Free money can be fun money, but there are some other attractive uses for it too. Read More...

At the end of the year, we try to embrace the spirit of giving. It’s a great time to be charitable, both to our loved ones and to the less fortunate. But if you have an end of the year work bonus coming your way, it’s OK to embrace the spirit of receiving, too.

It just feels awesome to start the year with a nice, fat chunk of change. But think back to the end of year bonuses you’ve received in previous years – what happened to all that money? Did it go towards a pile of video games you never play? Did it pay for some new clothes you don’t wear anymore? Maybe it just wasted away in your bank account.

The fact is, most of us are pretty terrible at managing a windfall. Even financially-savvy people tend to get lazy when it comes to free money, because… well, it’s free money. What’s it matter if you spend it on something frivolous?

But the fact is, a windfall is also an opportunity. If used correctly, it can propel your life forward and help you get one step closer to your goals. If used irresponsibly, you’re squandering away a chance to improve your life.

This year, put that year-end bonus to good use. Here’s how to do it.

Pay off debt.

Every personal finance expert tends to agree with my first suggestion – the best thing to do with an end of the year bonus is to pay off any high-interest debt, such as credit card or personal loan debt. If you’re paying more than 7-8% on any loan, use your bonus to eliminate as much as possible.

Not sure what your interest rates are? Log on to your accounts or review your monthly statements to find out. Then, make a list of all your debts from highest interest to lowest. Pick the balance with the largest rate and apply it to your bonus payment. Paying off high-interest debt quickly can save you hundreds on interest and accelerate your repayment.

Save an emergency fund.

According to a 2016 study from the Federal Reserve, almost half of Americans couldn’t afford to pay for a $400 emergency with cash. If you fall into that category, the best thing to do with your bonus is use it for an emergency fund.

An emergency or rainy day fund should be used for events you can’t plan for, such as losing your job, being in a car accident, flying home for a loved one’s funeral and more. Routine procedures such as oil changes for your car or annual vacations don’t count as emergencies and should be saved for separately.

You should have at least $1,000 in your emergency fund, but more is definitely better. Three to six month’s worth of expenses is the standard, depending on your career and if you have a house and kids.

Meet with a financial planner.

What better way to use your bonus than to create a roadmap to financial freedom? If you’ve been putting off a needed overhaul of your finances, take advantage of your bonus to hire a financial planner.

You can find an affordable financial planner through the XY Planning Network or the Garrett Planning Network. Your bonus should be enough to pay for one or two sessions where you’ll learn how to budget, pay off debt and save for retirement.

Splurge smart.

When I was paying off my student loans, I typically put all my windfalls toward my debt, only keeping about 10% for discretionary spending. But every once in a while, I would take the whole amount and splurge on something I’d been eying for a long time.

For example, one year I took a birthday check and spent most of it on a trip to Spain with my boyfriend and a friend. It wasn’t the most practical or responsible decision, but the memories of that 10-day vacation will last me a lifetime.

Sometimes you can find a balance between buying something for yourself and buying something practical. You could buy a new bike so you can ride to work, a crockpot so you can meal plan ahead of time or even a subscription to Amazon Prime.

Of course, you can also go really wild and buy something just for fun, like the Nintendo Switch or a box set of “The Wire.” Sometimes you just have to live a little, but always make sure it’s something you really want. Every time I splurged while paying off debt, I used it for something I’d been obsessing about for months.

How to decide what to do.

If can’t decide how to use your bonus, give yourself a few days or weeks to think it over. There’s no need to figure it out immediately, and the longer you wait, the less likely it is you’ll blow the money on something inconsequential.

I’ve only gotten a work bonus once in my life, and I had several months to choose the best option. I eventually stashed it for a cross-country move to Colorado my husband and I were saving for.

Make a list of what your priorities are and how the bonus can help you. If your top goal is to buy a car, set the bonus aside for your new wheels. If you want to become a homeowner, use the bonus for a down payment. The only bad decision is to not to make one at all, letting the money sit in your bank account without going to good use.

What have you spent your past bonuses on? What are your plans if you have a bonus coming? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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What happened to all your BFFs from high school and college? Chances are you need a new crew. Here’s what you need to know about making new friends. Read More...

When you graduate high school, it seems like your group of friends will stay close forever. For most people, that sentiment barely lasts through college. Once you get your degree, you may assume the same thing with the new group you’ve formed at university.

As great as it would be to hang on to all the personal connections we make throughout the years, people grow apart and move away. Your best friend in college could end up being a borderline stranger before you turn 30. As popular as you may have been at any one time, you may wake up one day soon and realize: I need new friends.

It’s ok. That’s a common sentiment these days, even in a digital age where connecting to anyone around the world is possible with the click of a button. Unfortunately, connecting on a personal level is a little harder.

At this time in your life, friendships are going to be important to your health and well-being — and they’ll continue to be in the years ahead. Being active socially with friends keeps you happy, but it also keeps you healthy, because friends will encourage you to maintain healthy habits and support you as you pursue whatever health goals you have.

And in life, all your goals will find support among your friends. It’s unlikely you can achieve everything you’d like to do without that kind of moral support.

If you’ve found yourself feeling lonely, unfulfilled, or bored lately, it might be time to start the friend search. Here are some tips for making new friends.

Lower your expectations.

Once I graduated from college and moved away from my closest girlfriends, I realized how special our bond was. I’d no longer have access to my best friends any time of day without advance notice.

Adult friendships are different. It takes longer to become close to someone, and meeting people isn’t as simple as talking across the dorm hall.

Instead of getting upset that finding a BFF is harder than you imagined, you need to refine your expectations. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t find a special bond with everyone you meet; that will only discourage you from meeting new people and making new friends.

You don’t have to lower your expectations in the quality of person you look for when you choose your closest friends. Just assume that with everyone’s busier schedule — we’re all adults with adult responsibilities — the effort it takes to make and maintain connections with friends is going to be harder.

Go online.

My latest attempt at friendship-forming is through Bumble. Bumble is most often used as a dating app, like Tinder, but it also offers a Bumble BFF version where women can find other female friends.

I signed up for Bumble only a week ago and already have had a dozen matches and one official date planned this week. Anyone using the app really wants to find new girlfriends, so it’s easier to strike up a conversation.

If you’re a guy, stay patient. There may not be any great friend-finding apps for males yet, but the tide is headed in that direction. The success of Bumble for platonic-connections will likely open up a world of friendship possibilities for both genders.

It doesn’t have to be a dating or connection-making app. There are online tools that focus on the area you live in. Local Facebook groups is just one way to find those who live near you who might be open to getting together.

Find common interests.

Meetup is one of the first resources people suggested when I talked about making new friends. They were right: the site is a treasure trove of people like me. But it can also be a dud.

There are two kinds of groups on Meetup:

  1. Groups based around a mutual interest or activity.
  2. Groups based around demographics.

You can find groups for knitters, hikers, and teachers, or groups for women in their 30s who live downtown.

The problem with the latter is that besides gender and age, I might have little in common with those women. You need something besides having a vagina in common to spark a friendship.

Even if you’ve been to one Meetup meeting and didn’t find someone interesting, try again. Making new friends is a process, and often involves failing multiple times before you succeed.

I recommend joining groups centered around a hobby. This gives you an automatic talking point and provides numerous ideas for potential hangouts. Combine the hobby-centered groups with a location, and you’ll find people who are close to you who might be interested in the same types of activities. Again, Facebook is a good way to connect.

If there isn’t a group on Facebook dedicated to an interest in your region — for example, amateur photography in Philadelphia, start a group, whether on Meetup or on Facebook. You’ll quickly find interesting people to connect with. On top of that, if you are “in charge” of the group, everyone will get to know you and will be more interested in meeting you.

Take classes.

Finding your squad works best when you see them consistently. That’s why in-person classes are a great idea. They’re typically on a regular schedule and contain a small enough group that you can get to know your classmates well.

I met friends taking boxing and kettlebell classes. I plan on taking improv classes in a couple months. As with most of these ideas, it’s not enough to sign up and pay the entrance fee. You have to be willing to engage.

Fearlessly talking to people is one of the key skills you need to make friends. Most of us want to meet new people, but far fewer are brave enough to actually ask. Plus, what happens if you’re an introvert?

It’s like dating: one of you has to be courageous enough to make the first move.

Unlike dating, most people aren’t going to say no to grabbing a coffee or seeing a movie. If it goes badly, you don’t have to ask them out again. If it goes well, you can continue to build a friendship.

Make yourself a good friend.

What kinds of qualities do you like your friends to have? How much attention do you expect, and how do you want to be treated? Make sure you’re making an effort to be the person you want your friends to be. Don’t be the one who waits for the other person to initiate. If you like keeping score, forget about doing that to make new friends as adults.

Be willing to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. You might get rejected or rebuffed, or find that someone just doesn’t have time for you. Don’t let it get to you. Keep striving to make those connections and don’t worry about whether someone thinks of you as a friend as much as you think of them. That kind of confidence helps people be drawn to you, anyway.

Say yes to everything.

No matter where you live, there are times an acquaintance or coworker invites you to something you’re not interested in. No matter how boring the event seems, go anyway. Saying yes is an important habit to cultivate if you want to make personal connections.

Related podcast: Yes or No: Do All the Things Except Some

The more you say yes, the more you’ll be invited. The converse is also true: say no too often and you’ll never get an invite again. Once you’ve ingratiated yourself with a crowd, you can start saying no every once in awhile without losing your new squad.

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It’s time to get in shape by striking a pose. Read More...

Just about everyone has thought “I should try yoga” at one point or another. Chances are you have a friend or family member who can’t stop talking about it, and for good reason – research shows that beyond its many health benefits, yoga may actually be good for your brain.

But actually getting into yoga can seem intimidating. The culture around it promotes an all-or-nothing mentality, and most practitioners advise joining a studio or hiring a teacher to get the full benefits. That’s great for some, but not everyone has the time, money or inclination to make that kind of commitment.

Thankfully, yoga is like most kinds of fitness – you can dive in headfirst or just dip your toes in the water. There are plenty of simple, effective poses you can learn at home that will also challenge and invigorate you.

Here are some of the best basic poses to promote strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. Remember to start slowly, taking the time to learn each position correctly.

Bridge Pose

Lots of people suffer from back pain and poor posture issues because they lack the ability to fully utilize their glutes. That can be because they lack the necessary strength, or just because they struggle to activate their glutes properly. This pose tackles both issues.

How to do it: Lie supine on the floor with your arms at your side, knees bent and heels as close to your butt as feels comfortable. Push your feet and arms into the floor while squeezing your glutes, lifting your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees remain directly over your heels. Hold the position for up to a minute, then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

I do this pose regularly to help develop the glute muscles that I don’t work in my normal exercise routine. This is probably one of my least favorite poses, but I know it really works.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Even if you’ve never had an interest in yoga, you’ve probably heard of this pose. It’s one of the most well-known yoga techniques because it offers great benefits while also being easy enough for just about anyone to attempt. It stretches everything from the shoulders to the ankles and provides a challenging core workout on top.

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, pressing into the ground firmly. Exhale and tuck your toes as you lift your knees off the floor, pushing your pelvis towards the ceiling.

Then, draw your sit bones towards the wall behind you as you straighten your legs without locking your knees. Stay in this pose anywhere from one to three minutes, deepening the stretch as you go. End the pose by bending your knees to the floor while exhaling.

You can do even more by adding this pose as part of a general sun salutation which will get your heart rate up.

Garland Pose

You may have heard this pose referred to colloquially as the “third world squat” or “slav squat” by crossfitters and bodybuilders, but this deep stretch is beneficial for just about anyone – especially those who sit at a desk all day.

When you spend that much time sitting, your hips tend to get incredibly tight, which can lead to posture issues and lower back pain. This pose forces those hips to open up, as well as aiding in ankle mobility that affects the whole lower body.

How to do it: Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, feet angled out anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees. Keep your chest and head high as you push your hips back, sitting down into a squat position as deep as you can safely go.

Make sure to keep your hips back so your knees do not come in front of your toes, and use your elbows to push your knees out. You may have to adopt a wider stance with your feet angled further out at first, but you should eventually be able to bring your feet closer together with a straighter foot angle. Hold this position for at least a minute, then exhale as you straighten the knees to stand.

Find the Time

If you’re like me, finding the time to do anything extra seems impossible, so that’s why I try to incorporate stretching into my regular routine. For example, I try to do a Garland Pose while I’m brushing my teeth or while I’m waiting for my dinner to heat up in the microwave.

These yoga poses are easy to tackle, but only if you start out slow. Try doing one a day until you’ve built up a habit. Then, add another pose. No matter how crappy you’re feeling, aim to complete your exercises. You’ll feel better in the long run.

Are you a yoga practitioner? Any tips you want to give? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you don’t have kids or a mortgage.

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

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

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

When you buy it for your kids.

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

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

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

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

When you’re buying whole life insurance.

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

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

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

When you’re retired.

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

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

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

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

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

So why are they so common?

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

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

Check the Employee Handbook.

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

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

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

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

Avoid office PDA.

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

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

Tell no one.

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

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

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

Avoid talking about work.

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

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

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

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

Consider looking for outside jobs.

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

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

Have you experienced an office romance? Did it last or fail? Tell us about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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