Maintain your sanity, even while people are partying it up in your house. Read More...

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Stress during the holidays is a real thing. Everything from holiday hosting to buying gifts for everyone can put a crimp in your season. Well, we can’t solve your gift-giving problems, but we can help you figure out what to do when you’re called upon to host a holiday party.

In this episode, we take a look at hacks you can use to make holiday hosting a little easier, keeping you sane while everyone has a good time.

Concepts

  • Do you really have to host?
  • Reasons you might feel like holiday hosting is your job.
  • How to decide if you really should be in charge of a holiday party.
  • Tips for keeping it simple, yet fun.
  • Food ideas that are easy to prepare and eat.
  • Budgeting tips for keeping your party from breaking the bank.
  • Putting together a playlist of great music.
  • Ideas for foods you can prepare ahead of time.
  • Simple tricks for keeping the home neat and tidy ahead of your holiday hosting commitments.
  • How to bring the party to an end with grace.

Our DO NOWs revolve around making sure you plan ahead for your holiday hosting duties. Be ready for what’s next by making a list and budgeting so that you can keep from going crazy.

This week’s listener question is all about getting people out of your house after the event. We talk about simple ways to signal that the party’s over and you want your personal space.

Also, check out these recipes for great holiday drinks:

Champagne Punch

Slowcooker Apple Cider

Also, check out this handy rolling coatrack from Amazon.

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What’s your sign? Does it matter? Maybe the constellations have more insight than you know… Read More...

The people who know me, know that I’m a bit…woo-woo. I burn sage in my home and office to clear it of bad energy. I’m a bit superstitious and would never walk under a ladder. Black cats crossing my path freak me out, and you could have a full conversation with me on the importance of people’s “energy” you know-how they make you feel when they are around.

So, when I was asked to explore how well my horoscope “knows” me I felt up for the task. But, I’ll be honest and say that I was a little reticent. Did I want people to know that I buy into this stuff? Would I be acknowledging that I was one of those weirdos who would ask people what their sign was, or at least, was able to figure it out without them telling me?

Well, I grew up in Boulder, Colorado and talking about this kind of thing is not in the least bit unusual. I’m owning my woo-wooness. And, will admit that I find myself continuously amazed by how accurate, not so much my daily horoscope can be, but the characteristics that are associated with my sign. What’s that sign?

I’m a Leo, hear me roar.

I’m in pretty good company too. The following amazing, volatile, and high achieving people are also Leos:

  • President Obama – Love him or hate him (I love him) he has always been a great leader and brilliant all-around person.
  • Madonna – Of the infamous “Bitch-I’m Madonna” song, amongst others, that proclaim how amazing she is.
  • JLo – That’s Jennifer Lopez for the rest of us (and we have the same birthday – she’s older….but, in better shape).
  • JLaw – You know, Jennifer Lawrence the perpetually quirky, interesting, awkward girl.

Yep, I’m in pretty good company. I began to look at what are considered to be core Leo traits and see if they actually defined my being.

It was a little creepy.

Are the positive traits really unique?

Leos (like everyone else) have a number of wonderful traits. You could argue that these same traits could apply to anyone and you would be right. But, for the sake of my horoscope, I want to see if my horoscope is right about me?

Leos are said to emulate the lion. And, like lions, they are loyal and love fiercely. I would say that I’m pretty dang loyal…until you turn on me and then we’re going to have some problems. Likewise, in loving fiercely it’s also said that Leos would like the same intensity of being loved in return. While I would agree with this for me, I feel like that’s any person that wants to have healthy, happy relationships in their life.

Leos are also considered to be extremely independent. I’m very independent, but I also happen to be an only child so I feel like that’s also an only child trait as well. I’m not knocking the horoscope, but I think it’s important to bring up the fact that there may be other reasons why I’m so independent.

This one feels a little awkward to bring up but, it is considered one of the key Leo traits-the need to be the center of attention. Ahem. But, given the list I just shared, there may be something to it. I decided to look back at some of the things that I’ve participated in:

Blogging-umm, basically talking about my money situation. It’s not all moonlight and roses…but, it’s all about me LOL! Blogging also relies on social media, doing live videos etc. Awkward.

Cheerleading-So…all eyes would be on the squad when not watching whatever game we were cheering.

Various leadership positions-ok, maybe this one is on the money? Or, maybe I’m just a focused-driven person who enjoys opportunities to shine?

Leo weaknesses.

Now, it’s time to check out some of the perceived Leo weaknesses. Leos are said to be somewhat rigid, occasionally lazy, and maybe a wee bit arrogant. Ahem. I resemble these traits and it’s not a comfortable thing to admit.

It could be argued that my horoscope knows me well, or that I’m just a flawed human being that needs to work on myself-just like everyone else.

Horoscopes are fun to read and think about, just don’t get weird and let them dictate the actions that you take in your life. Read your horoscope at the end of the month to see how accurate it was. This keeps things light, fun, and out of the crazy zone.

Do you read your horoscope faithfully? Do you find it helpful, or think it can apply to anyone? Let us know your thoughts in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Want to read something new and good, but don’t know where to start? No sweat! Here’s how to muddle through the masses. Read More...

One of the most popular reasons I hear for not reading books is “I just don’t know where to find good books or get recommendations!” I get it. I mean, reading is a personal decision and what’s good to me might not be good to you because, let’s face it, “good” is one of those annoying subjective words. And places like the New York Times offer reviews but their reviewers are going to read with a more critical eye than your average person so their suggestions or opinions?

Not helpful at all.

But not all is hopeless. Because there are plenty of places where you can find book recommendations and, based off of those, decide for yourself if that book is good for you or not. And since there are so many, I’ve decided to narrow it down and give you my five favorite places to get book recommendations.

My top 5:

Podcasts.

My personal favorite podcast is Book Riot’s All the Books! but there are are dozens and dozens more. All the Books! has a spinoff about backlist and older books. Modern Mrs. Darcy, an extremely popular book blogger, has a one called What Should I Read Next (pro tip: her blog is a trove of book recommendations).

Even ones like True Crime Garage and Criminal give book recommendations at the end so no matter what you like to listen to, you should be able to get some suggestions. And, bonus, since you like the subject matter of the podcast, the books should align with your interests.

Listicles.

BuzzFeed books, Book Riot, PopSugar… all the big sites do book roundups for all the genres and some are pretty clever like all the books from Orange is the New Black or Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen ones Inc and Fast Company with personal development and business books.

We even have one here at Adulting! The lists are generally broad enough and diverse enough that there’s bound to be one or two that pique your curiosity. If you don’t want to read listicles, a lot of magazines review books or give recommendations and, if you skip the reviews, the NYT bestseller list is a great resource.

Social media.

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Litsy (a social media networking site specifically for books) are all bursting with book recommendations. You don’t even have to follow your friends or publishers or authors or book bloggers to get them.

Celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Ali Wong, Oprah, Emma Watson, and James Franco all share the books they’re reading and recommend. If you don’t trust celebrities, you can follow me (especially if you also like pictures of dogs) and use Facebook or Twitter to ask your friends what they’re reading. You’ll get quite a list but some should resonate.

Staff selections.

Okay, so this one requires going to a library or bookstore but it is good to get out of the house. Many people avoid those places because walking in is overwhelming. You don’t know where to start and wandering aimlessly makes you feel helpless and lost (fun fact: this is what I look like in a craft store) and it’s intimidating so you leave.

But don’t fret! Just head on over to the staff picks section and start reading covers. Some bookstores give a little blurb from the staff member who picked the book but even if it’s just a display, it’s a great jumping off point. You can also look at the best sellers display for some ideas.

Amazon.

Have you ever bought a book from Amazon or even just browsed for one? If you have, then you know that they give a ton of suggestions or even the little grouping with you with the “frequently bought together” heading. Those are incredibly helpful particularly if you want to read a whole lot on a specific topic.

Pro tip: many books are now offering sample chapters so if you’re not ready to make a commitment to a book, you can preview it for free simply by sending it to your mobile device (no Kindle, no problem! The Kindle app is free and you can put it on your tablet or phone).

Confession: My to be read list has almost 700 books on it (I have a problem. I’m looking into getting help) and approximately 600 of them came from a combination of above. The biggest sources for me are Instagram and podcasts and if I see a book I think I’ll like, especially if someone I like or respect has read or is reading it, I mark it down. I figure I can always delete later. And, of the books I’ve read as a direct result of these recommendations, I’ve DNF’d (did not finish) maybe 15 over the past 3 years.

And I read roughly 100 books per year.

Not a bad return.

Where are your favorite places to find books to read? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Being a single mom doesn’t have to be depressing. Here’s how to love it. Read More...

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

Show Notes

Emma Johnson, author of The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children and blogger-owner of http://wealthsinglemommy.com/ joins Harlan and Miranda today to share tips about living a great life while being the single parent of children.

We talk about dating, money, and how you can feel empowered and love being a single mom without hating men. We also look at taking charge of your finances and rebuilding your life on your own terms.

Emma Johnson is the author of THE KICKASS SINGLE MOM: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, creator of the immensely popular blog, WealthySingleMommy.com, and host of the podcast, “Like a Mother,” where she explores issues facing professional moms like herself. She is a writer, journalist, entrepreneur, former small-town Midwesterner, and current New Yorker. Since launching her blog four years ago, she has become the leading voice of single motherhood in the popular media and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Day, and NPR, among others.

Book: https://adulting.tv/a/014313115X
Twitter: @JohnsonEmma
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=646747051
Website: http://www.wealthysinglemommy.com

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

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

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Customer service people are people, too. Read More...

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It’s easy to think of customer service representatives as irrelevant. Other service workers often get very little of our attention — and civility.

But one of the best things you can do is recognize the humanity of other people. And that includes being your best self and treating everyone well, no matter how lowly their jobs.

Plus, when you’re decent to others, there’s a good chance you can get better customer service and more of what you want.

Concepts

  • Ways customer service reps can actually help you.
  • The importance of service jobs like those done at the store or in the restaurant.
  • Tips for speaking with customer service reps and others so you are more likely to get what you want.
  • When to ask for a supervisor.
  • How to get a discount.
  • When and how to turn to social media to get what you want.
  • The importance of thanking others for their help.

This week’s DO NOWs are fairly straightforward and include thinking through your customer service call before you make it. It’s all about preparing ahead of time so you know what to say, and so that you say it with calm confidence.

One reader wonders about all the great deals others are always talking about. While other people tend to get amazing discounts, our reader struggles. We have suggestions on how to get what others receive.

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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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It’s tough to deal with failure. But there is something even more difficult to go through that’s absolutely worth it: the comeback. Read More...

A few years after graduating college, I started writing a blog about trying to pay off my student loans in three years. It was pretty small and relatively unknown at first, but eventually it garnered some attention with a local financial writer and radio personality. He had me on his show several times and became a bit of a mentor.

Eventually, he talked to me about the possibility of working for him in the future. The conversation progressed, and eventually, he promised me a concrete position as soon as his budget freed up. That would take a few months, he said, but no longer.

I waited, and waited, and waited. Then I started asking about the position more firmly during our conversations. Finally, I flat out asked him if he had any intention of following through on his promise. That’s when I stopped hearing from him.

I was crushed and put the blame entirely on myself. I was certain I had said something, or done something, or not done something to make him retract the offer. It took me years to fully recover from my perceived failure, and I learned a lot about moving on and letting go.

If you’ve fallen down, here are some ways you can pick yourself back up.

Be kind to yourself.

For years, I thought if I punished myself every time I failed, I’d learn not to do it again. Instead, the shame and guilt only pushed me away from figuring out what went wrong. Any time you fail, you have to forgive yourself for what happened.

I like to close my eyes and visualize myself as a friendly kindergarten teacher, talking to a younger version of myself. I speak in a sweet, soft tone and say things like, “Hey, it’s ok little pupper. Think of this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or a bad person. It just means you’re human.”

It may sound contradictory to some, but being nice to myself has yielded more change than being mean and condescending. Think of it as talking to yourself the way you’d talk to a good friend going through a rough patch. You wouldn’t criticize their mistakes – you’d try to build them back up with positivity and support.

Have no zero days.

When I experience failure, my instinct is to run away and hide under the covers, both literally and figuratively. I don’t feel like doing anything productive, like going to the gym, eating healthy or working on my hobbies. But feeling sorry for myself only makes the feeling of failure linger.

When you fail, you have to try even harder to get back up again. Start by doing something simple like taking a walk outside or reading a self-help book. Doing small things like that will make you rebound faster than laying on the couch binging on Netflix.

Every day, aim to do one productive thing, like meditate, apply for new jobs or work out. Mark an X on the calendar every time you’ve completed that thing. Your goal is to do something every day, no matter how inconsequential it seems.

Don’t worry about whether or not your heart is in it – this is about going through the motions. By stringing together a series of Xs, you’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll be more motivated to do other, bigger things, like taking online classes or cold calling a potential mentor.

List your accomplishments.

After we fail at something, our minds get clouded by self-doubt and insecurity. When I’m feeling down, I think about the amazing things I’ve accomplished and reminded myself that I’m capable of success as well as failure.

Sit and write down a few things you’ve accomplished recently, like running a marathon or being a great mom. The goal is not to forget or ignore your failure, but rather to remind yourself that failure does not define you.

For example, when I’m having a bad day and feeling lame, I think about how I paid off my student loans in three years, how I’m successfully self-employed and how I moved across the country without a support network. Taking a second to appreciate my victories makes me more confident in my ability to overcome my failures.

Be grateful.

When you’re feeling like a failure, it’s easy to see your life as a series of bad turns. That kind of thinking can make you feel unlucky, cursed or doomed to remain a failure.

To combat this mindset, try writing down at least three things you’re grateful for. Finding time for gratitude will help you see the positivity in your life. Even on the worst day, you can find something to be thankful for – like nice weather, a burger from your favorite fast food place or a kiss from your dog. Focusing on failure will only exacerbate your feelings while being grateful will shift your focus.

One way to feel grateful is to volunteer with people who truly are less fortunate than you and who need your help. By getting out of your own skin, you’ll start to realize that this failure is only a blip and doesn’t have to define the rest of your life.

Do you recall a time when you dealt with failure? How did you overcome it? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Do you have this adulting stuff figured out? If you’re breathing, probably not. Here are some books to help you get your stuff together. Read More...

So you want to be a better adult. Maybe you’re looking for a book or two for a friend or family member who needs to step it up. Maybe you want to start adulting. Maybe you love to read or are looking for some new books for your bookshelf.

Regardless of your motivation, I’ve got you covered. All of the books on this list have been vetted by reliable sources (read: me and my friends) and make great additions to your adulting library.

In part one, we’ll cover my recommendations and in part 2, we’ll cover the ones my friends suggest. There might be some overlap in the authors but the books are different.

And now, some books that have assisted me in my adulting quest:

Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa

You might have heard of her for her Twitter activism and some of her viral Medium posts but she also wrote a spectacular book helping you navigate all aspects of adulthood from money to cleaning to work to embracing your weirdness. It’s a perfect primer.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*uck by Sarah Knight

Yes, the title is a riff on the Marie Kondo craze but this book stands on its own. If you want to learn to care less about unimportant things and more about the important ones, if you want to understand why no is a complete sentence, and if you want to learn how to be less stressed by all of it, read this book.

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

She’s basically my go-to on all things life improvement told to me in a practical, relatable way. This book gives you a map for how to organize your life and pull yourself together in pretty much every capacity. Note: she swears A LOT so if that bothers you, pass on both of her books. We can find you some others.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

So. This book. I was not a fan. I think it’s because I don’t have a problem with clutter and getting rid of things BUT if you do, then you absolutely need to read this book. Some of the advice is waaaay out there but if you can take the principle for what it is, and you tweak it to your own preferences and needs, you’ll see a huge change.

$5 Dinners by Erin Chase

These are cookbooks and they taught me how to cook when no one else did. The recipes are simple AF, they’re budget friendly, they’re not made from any weird ingredients you can’t find in your basic grocery store, and there’s something for everyone. If you’re not into cookbooks, make sure to check out her website.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

I don’t use the word “revolutionize” lightly but this book absolutely revolutionized the way I think about and plan my time. If you struggle with time management or fitting it all in or wondering how you can align your time better with your priorities, this book will fix you. If nothing else, do the time study. You will learn more than you can imagine.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’m not a big re-reader but I first read this book years ago and it’s definitely due for another go-round. What impacted me the most from this book was the idea of learning to be happier and more content where you are instead of upheaving your entire life, and to do it step by step rather than all at once. It’s definitely something that’s discussed more often now but reading her personal experience resonates differently than just being told to do it.

Quitter, Start, and Do Over all by Jon Acuff

These are 3 separate books, taking up the 8-10 spots on our list of 10. While many are influenced by Gary V or Tim Ferriss when it comes to career-type advice, Jon is more my low-key speed. For me, his advice is easier and more practical to follow and implement and it’s not as in-your-face.

He tackles career advice from all points and angles and winds up being motivating at the same time. He breaks things down into manageable pieces, in all of his books, so that you don’t get overwhelmed or feel the need to do it all RIGHT NOW.

Fun fact: I’m not a huge buyer of books but I own almost all of these so when I say they’re on my shelf, they are literally on my shelf.

So, that’s my list. Next time, we’ll talk about some books my friends recommend. And, if you feel like it, let me know in the comments what books have influenced you and why. Maybe I’ll include it!

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any must-read recommendations? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Thinking about a road trip is fun! The memories of road trips past – awesome! What’s not so great? All the boring, crappy stuff that can actually happen while on the journey. You’ve gotta be prepared. Read More...

The road trip is a tradition as American as baseball. With miles and miles of highway stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction, we grow up dreaming about the day we can hop in a car and explore it all.

But the reality of a road trip can be much less glamorous. If you’ve ever been crammed in the backseat of an old sedan with no air conditioning for hours at a time, you know what I mean. To actually enjoy the trip, you need to plan ahead.

Here’s a checklist to ensure your next road trip goes off without a hitch – from the necessities to the fun stuff.

Essentials.

Jumper Cables

Having your battery die in the middle of a road trip is no fun, especially if you don’t have any jumper cables with you. I’ve been stranded on the side of the road with no cables before, and eventually gave up and called AAA when none of the good Samaritans who stopped to give me a jump had cables either.

A new set of jumper cables only costs around $20 for a decent set – trust me, it’s worth it.

External Phone Battery Charger

Anytime I start out a road trip with a fully charged cell phone, I’m almost guaranteed to drain it before I’ve arrived at my destination. If you have multiple people in the car all trying to charge their phones, you’re going to have times where your phone is dead and you can’t charge it.

That’s why I always bring my external battery charger with me. You can find a decent portable charger for $30-$40, and they typically carry enough energy to charge your phone five times over. That’s a lot of extra time to play late 90s R&B and settle petty arguments with Google.

Pillows

I can’t be in a car for an extended period of time without falling asleep, but I hate contorting myself into a semi-comfortable position just to wake up with a neck cramp.

Now, I try to bring a pillow from home or a travel pillow on every road trip. It makes my car naps much more enjoyable, so I can actually rest before it’s my turn to take the wheel.

Bottled Water and Snacks

During my last significant road trip, my friends and I loaded up our car with all kinds of snacks: veggie chips, bananas, PB&J sandwiches, candy and string cheese. We had a whole cooler in the backseat with food and bottled water, which saved us so much money and kept us from stopping for fast food. Every time I was tempted to buy a candy bar at a convenience store, I remembered that I had plenty of food in the car.

Not only is bringing your own snacks less expensive, but you can also bring goodies that are healthier and tastier than what you’d find at a gas station.

Entertainment.

Podcasts

If you’re traveling by yourself, I highly recommend finding some podcast episodes to download before you head out. Listening to music or calling old friends is fun, but a podcast is the best way to pass the time on a long drive.

Most episodes are between 40 and 90 minutes, so listening to a couple episodes can make several hours fly by. I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving I spent driving to my grandma’s house and listening to “Serial” along the way. I was so engrossed in the story, I sat in my car after arriving to finish the last episode.

I used to drive six hours every weekend to see my boyfriend, and I would always load up my iPod with that week’s episodes of “Fresh Air.” Nowadays, I also enjoy comedy podcasts like “Comedy Bang Bang” and “Doughboys” to keep my spirits up when traffic is a slog.

If you’re going to be driving through an area with low cell reception, I recommend downloading the episodes before you head out so you’re not relying on your data plan.

Apps and Games

Last month, I went on an eight-hour road trip with my old college friends to Asheville, North Carolina. We wanted to play some road games on the way down, but couldn’t think of anything we could all participate in.

Eventually we found a knock-off version of “Beat Shazam.” The app would play 10 seconds of a song, and we’d have to guess what it was. It was a blast trying to test each other and see who was better at picking out old Britney Spears’ hits.

Before you head out on your road trip, find some fun apps and games you can play. You can even go old-school and play classic road games like “I Spy” and “20 Questions.” Nothing spices up a long drive like a little competition.

Are there any other essentials you take on a road trip? What can’t you do without? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Not getting the downtime you deserve? Here’s how to ask for a vacation. Read More...

If you’re like me, you work to travel.

You can’t travel, though, unless you can get away from work. Even if you don’t have the travel-bug, staycations are worth it. But getting vacation time is necessary if you plan to get away at all.

Studies suggest that men who don’t take a vacation at least once a year are 32% more likely to die of a heart attack. It’s miserable to die for work. For that reason alone, you should vacation as much as you can.

The problem is, it’s easier to get a child to stop saying “no” than to get a boss to start saying “yes” to more time off. Here are ways to go up, up and away and far and away (yes, that’s two movie references in one sentence).

Negotiate vacation time before taking a job.

The absolute best time to arrange adequate vacation time (read: more vacation time than you’re offered) is to negotiate the amount of vacation you want — or think you can get — before you accept a job offer.

Before you sign the employer/employee contract, you have the leverage to negotiate more of what you want. The more the hiring manager wants you, the more leverage you have. Sure, you could negotiate yourself out of a job. But, in most cases, by the time negotiations start, the hiring manager has usually made their decision and put in the time to extend the offer.

If, during the negotiation, you feel like you’re starting to lose, stop. Just remember that negotiating before you accept an offer is optimal. Negotiating afterward isn’t impossible; it’s just improbable.

Negotiate vacation time before taking a promotion.

If you’re reading this article after you have a job, all hope isn’t lost.

Getting vacation time isn’t a matter of applying to another company, either. Just ask for a promotion within your current company. A job promotion often comes another opportunity to negotiate for more. You’ll already be talking about a pay increase, so you might as well throw in talk about a vacation increase.

It’s likely that your company has salary and vacation policies established by its human resource department, but everything is negotiable — especially for the right person for the right promotion. The better your current job performance and the better you interview for a promotion, the more likely you are to get the pay and vacation you want.

Swap increased pay for increased vacation time.

All salary negotiations run the risk of stalling. All businesses have budgets. Maybe the person hiring you doesn’t have complete control over what they can offer you. They probably have a range to stick to.

If you’re not satisfied with the salary or pay offered, negotiate your other benefits. Along with vacation time, you can ask for more sick time or the ability to work remotely on a regular basis. Everything’s on the table, so create the full-employee benefits package, commensurate with the job, you want.

Be awesome enough to request more vacation time.

Good companies do what they can to retain good employees — and keep them happy. If you’re not up for a job promotion and you don’t want to leave, you can still negotiate a vacation increase by being so awesome they can’t deny you one.

Being awesome isn’t enough, though. It also helps to be smart. Wait for the appropriate time and circumstances to ask about getting vacation time. If it’s a recession and your firm has frozen salary increases or is laying off employees, it’s not the time to ask for more vacation. If your boss is having a bad day or your team is overloaded, don’t bother asking for more time off.

If your company is performing well, your team’s firing on all cylinders, and your boss has a grin on their face, that’s a good time to ask for more.

Propose a remote work/play vacation.

Thanks to the internet and computers, more jobs can be performed any time of day from anywhere in the world. As time goes by, more businesses are acclimating to letting their employees work remotely, if only on a limited basis.

Studies show that providing employees with even limited remote-working flexibility can boost performance. Just this year, my husband’s employer approved employees working remotely to extend vacation time. Therefore, we can fly somewhere for a week-long vacation, and he can continue that “vacation” another week by working while we’re away.

To be fair, this is more of a perk for me than for him. But, he enjoys taking me out to dinner in an exotic location after I spend the day at the beach and he spends the day working pool-side (sarcasm off).

Take unpaid leave.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you aren’t getting vacation time as desired, you can always take unpaid leave. Unpaid leave isn’t always available, though. But, if there’s that option, it can be one way to get in some downtime.

Unpaid leave is just what it sounds like: time away from work without a paycheck. Remember, the more unpaid leave you take, the less take-home pay you end up with. Be sure your budget supports such a move and don’t sabotage long-term saving and investing goals.

Buy vacation time.

The option of last resort is to buy vacation time. Again, not all businesses offer this choice. Buying vacation time means your company will take money out of your regular pay in exchange for time off.

I didn’t know this was an option until I read my human first employer’s human resources manual a year after I was hired. It’s just as well because I started buying vacation time, thinking that it was incredible.

I sure did enjoy getting vacation time, but I didn’t love the smaller paychecks that followed. Unlike taking unpaid leave, vacation time that’s bought continues to plague you after your vacation ends.

Taking vacation is a good and necessary part of working. Too many of us (Americans) take too few vacations. While I’m doing my part to raise the average, make sure you do your part, too. If you need or want more vacation than you have, these seven tips will point you in the right direction.

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