Tag Archive: Learn

What To Do This Weekend

activities-to-try-this-weekend

What to Do This Weekend

Weekend plans look a lot different nowadays, eh?  I’m sure you are as sick of reading stories that begin with,  “In these unprecedented times” or “Our new reality.”  So I’m going to skip the intro and the explanation …You are being a hero by staying home and protecting the health of your family and that of your neighbors.  Thank you!  Let me reward that good behavior with a list of a few things to keep you entertained this weekend.

Absurd Planet

It’s a ridiculous tongue in cheek nature show on Netflix.  There are plenty of adult jokes disguised as nature facts.  It’s child safe and adult approved.  The whole family enjoyed it!  If you are looking for a program the whole family can enjoy, add Absurd Planet to your watch list.

Watch Party

Speaking of Netflix, did you know you can watch a movie with friends long distance?  Check out  Netflix Party. It synchronizes everyone’s video playback and adds a chat feature.  If you and your significant other aren’t quarantining together, this is certainly a fun date night option, too!

Date Night Dinner & Dessert

If you are homebound with your significant other, you’re probably ready to spice things up.   Tasty did a great feature of creating a three-course meal from the pantry.  I was impressed….especially when one of the courses was peanut butter cookies!  Follow along and cook a great meal or just get inspired to create your own pantry date night!

Stretch

We are sitting still so much more than usual.  You need to give your joints and bones and muscles some love! Stretch them out!  There are plenty of free stretching videos on YouTube and the like, but my number one recommendation is the Peloton App.  They are offering a 90-day free trial right now, after that it’s $13/month.  The full body stretches are 5-15 minutes long giving you plenty of options.  Additionally, they have meditation, boot camp, running, and walking programs.  (and no, I’m not an affiliate…I just think it’s a great app)

Try A New Summer Recipe

Yeah, cooking isn’t a groundbreaking suggestion.  Approach it a little differently today.  Think of it as a meditation.  Take your time cleaning and cutting the fresh veggies or fruit.  Maybe watch a Youtube video first and learn a new technique.  Then when you are ready, take on one of these yummy summer recipes.

Dance 

Last week I took a dance lesson to learn the moves to the Tik Tok ‘Savage’ dance. The instructor was amazing…I was a *mess*!  But I haven’t laughed that hard in a while…and it used up a lot of energy!  You can find plenty of lessons on YouTube or you can try a virtual class with Diva Dance DC.  You can literally dance like nobody is watching! And who knows…maybe you will find some hidden talent!

Phone a Friend

….not for your sake, but for theirs.  People are getting cabin fever.  They need each other.  Scroll through your phone and find the friend that you know lives alone or the friend you know wishes they were living alone, and give them shout.  It doesn’t have to be a Zoom happy hour and it doesn’t have to be an hour long.  You can simply share a happy memory you have with them.  Small interactions and gestures go a long way right now.  

That’s it for this week.  As I find specific events or awesomeness, I will share a new post weekly!  If you have ideas or events to include next week feel free to send them my hollib@apartminty.com or @Apartmentalist on Instagram.

Be Well!

Read What To Do This Weekend on Apartminty.

Source: blog.apartminty.com

Emergency Preparedness Guide and Checklist [Download]

Emergency preparedness can mean the difference between weathering a disaster and finding yourself vulnerable in a long-term crisis. From power failures to hurricanes, emergencies strike every day, often without warning. By the time they do, it’s too late to start planning.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare yourself and your family for a future emergency. But it can be an involved process, and it’s easy to forget something. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with an emergency preparedness checklist.

These recommendations will help you create your own family emergency plan, including a checklist of steps to take and supplies to pack in a disaster supplies kit in the event of an emergency.

Download our printable emergency preparedness checklist

This printable emergency preparedness checklist can help you take the steps needed for creating an emergency plan to keep yourself and your family safe and secure.

emergency preparedness checklist download button

1. Understand the risks for your area

Start getting prepared for emergencies specific to your location by assessing the risks of your particular location. Though there are basic requirements for preparedness, each type of natural disaster also requires its own specialized preparations.

For example, an ice storm might cause an extended power outage, so you may want to install a portable generator. In an earthquake or tornado, you’ll need to know how to find the safest place to shelter. (In both cases, stay away from windows, near the center of an inside room.)

And different regions are prone to different disasters: Texas has been hit by freezing weather, hurricanes, floods, hail and fires. In California, earthquakes and fires are common threats. Oklahoma is in “tornado alley,” and is often hit by ice storms.

Consult relief agencies in your area to get information about emergency alerts for the community, evacuation routes from the area and special assistance options for elderly people and those with disabilities. Ask at your workplace and your children’s schools or daycare to learn about each facility’s emergency plan.

Monitor weather and fire reports via NOAA weather radio. Download a reliable weather app, and sign up for emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts sent to your smartphone will signal you with a unique tone and vibration, then brief text messages explaining the type of alert and recommended action.

2. Write down emergency contact numbers

Important phone numbers should be available in multiple locations and formats. It’s a good idea to post them on the fridge — along with your home number and address for reference — as well as near any landline telephones. Also, program these numbers into the cellphones of every household member.

Choose a primary emergency contact and at least one secondary contact to call if your family gets separated. One should live out of state, and one should live locally. Tell your family members and loved ones which to call during each possible type of emergency. Remember that sometimes during a crisis, it’s easier to get through to out-of-state numbers than local ones.

It’s also a good idea to know which emergency management and response organizations you may be dealing with following a disaster, such as FEMA or the American Red Cross. Post these numbers, as well, and store them in your contacts.

Program emergency services numbers into your phone and put them near the top of your list, so you can find them right away. Hint: Most phones list contacts alphabetically, so you might want to list emergency contacts with “AA” or the number 1. Then write them on a small card to place in your wallet, in case you’re away from the list you’ve posted, your phone isn’t charged or your WiFi is down.

Here are some numbers you should include:

  • Fire / paramedics
  • Police
  • Local relief agencies
  • Area utilities
  • Work
  • School
  • Child care
  • Relatives
  • Poison control

3. Identify escape routes

Draw out the floor plan of your house and determine which escape routes would be safest for a quick getaway in each type of emergency. Escape routes also should be practical for pets, if you have any.

Post escape route plans in a central location in your house, preferably alongside the important contact numbers, and in each bedroom. Consider loading these directions into your smartphone, too.

It’s important to know when to get out and when to take cover where you are. Fires can occur in any climate and are the most common type of emergency that require escape or evacuation routes; if you’re indoors during a tornado or earthquake, you’re better off staying put.

Strategically store any equipment that could help you escape more quickly, such as collapsible ladders in upstairs rooms or window breakers for shatterproof glass. If your windows or doors have security bars, be sure they’re equipped with emergency releases so you can get out quickly if you need to.

And if you have pets, make pet carriers easily accessible so you can load them up quickly. (Herding cats is even more difficult in a crisis.)

emergency

4. Locate emergency meeting places

Designate two different locations where family members can gather to find each other after leaving your home. One should be directly outside the home in the event of a fire. Identify a location that’s a safe distance from the house, such as a neighbor’s home, mailbox or nearby stop sign.

The other designated meeting place should be outside the neighborhood in case of an evacuation. In the event of a major disaster that requires an evacuation, tune in to local media and be on the lookout for alerts about where to find help at emergency shelters.

You might also designate an out-of-state meeting spot if it’s common for your whole area to be evacuated, as in hurricane season. Make sure your family members have these addresses and phone numbers among their emergency contacts.

Include all locations in your escape route plan, clearly marked on a map. Post the meeting plan alongside the important contact numbers and escape routes.

5. Practice escaping, responding and meeting with family

Discuss with household members what to do during a fire, storm, earthquake, etc. At least two people in your home should know how to shut off utilities and respond to power outages. At least two should be familiar with first aid procedures to address personal injuries.

Make sure your household takes time to review the escape routes and practice using them so your whole family will be ready in the event of an emergency. Hold periodic drills the way schools, businesses and other public facilities do, to be sure everyone can get out of the building. If you can, have your family meet up at the designated local emergency meeting spots.

6. Pack an emergency supplies kit

Have a go-bag or preparedness kit ready that includes family records and other important documents (stored in a safe portable container), along with survival essentials that you may need during an emergency. Refer to the emergency preparedness checklist below for supplies to include in your emergency kit.

“Go bag” supplies

“Go bags” are emergency kits that contain the essentials for people to stay safe and secure in a crisis. Most items listed will apply across the board. However, you can decide whether you need to pack other essentials that address special needs — for instance, specialized medical supplies, prescription medications, spare eyeglasses, personal hygiene items or pet food.

For more information, check with the U.S. government’s official emergency preparedness website, ready.gov.

Essential survival supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pocket knife
  • Sleeping bag/tent
  • Drinking water
  • Protein bars
  • Canned food
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies

  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Credit cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Garbage bags
  • Insurance policies
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Contact information
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Face mask
  • Rain gear, if applicable

Tool kit supplies

  • Pliers
  • Pocket knife
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Can opener
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries]

Personal hygiene and health supplies

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Prescription medications
  • Feminine supplies
  • Extra change of clothing
  • Washcloths
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Clean wipes or towelettes

Food and drink supplies

Plan on having a 3-day supply of non-perishable food in a waterproof container, plus a supply of water. Keep a gallon of water per day for each person for several days, to be used for drinking and sanitation. Pack as lightly as possible without leaving out essentials. Foods like protein bars are great space- and weight-savers.

  • Drinking water
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Vacuum-packed meats
  • Canned foods
  • Crackers
  • Protein bars

Stay safe with our emergency preparedness checklist

It can be a complicated process to create an emergency plan and assemble a kit of supplies for your family. But it’s an endeavor that’s worth every moment of effort when your preparations keep your family safe and secure during a disaster.

The post Emergency Preparedness Guide and Checklist [Download] appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

6 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Rust

Everyone dreads rust — that brown, crusty substance that forms on metal, fabric and tile. Fear not, we’ve got you covered. Once you learn how to get rid of rust and remove rust stains from metal and other materials, it’s a game-changer for your cleaning routine.

How to remove rust from metal

Rust forms when metal is exposed to moisture and starts to corrode. Rust mainly grows on metals and you’ll see it on anything from your favorite kitchen knives to kids’ metal playgrounds. Luckily, there are many household pantry items that remove rust on metals.

1. Baking soda

Baking soda in the sink.

Baking soda is one of the most common ways to get rid of rust. It’s great because you likely have it in your house already and it works great on thinner metals and metals that have lightly started to rust. Here are the steps for using baking soda to get rid of rust:

  1. Make a paste of water and baking soda.
  2. Coat the entire metal with the paste and make sure the rusted part is especially coated with the mixture.
  3. Wait about 30 minutes.
  4. Take a rough sponge and scrub the rust.
  5. Rinse well.

Once you have gone through all the steps, make sure to dry the object well to prevent it from rusting again. Remember, rust starts in the first place when exposed metal experiences moisture and isn’t thoroughly dried.

2. Vinegar

White vinegar is the go-to for so many cleaning hacks and rust is no exception. Use this vinegar hack step to get rid of rust.

  1. Submerge the rusted object in a bowl of white vinegar and let it soak overnight.
  2. Take the item out and scrub the rust away. This might take a little extra effort to get the stubborn rust off.
  3. If all the rust wasn’t removed, repeat the process but let it soak longer this time.
  4. Once all the rust is gone, wash the items with soap and water and dry them thoroughly.

Vinegar works on almost all rust from your tools to rusty pipes. Keep this in mind next time you come across a stubborn rust stain.

3. Potato and dish soap

Potatoes are magical vegetables with endless possibilities. Not only do they make any meal delicious, but they also contain oxalic acid which gets rid of rust. Who knew? Here’s how you can use potatoes to get rid of rust.

  1. Cut the potato in half.
  2. Apply salt or baking soda to the potato.
  3. Cover the rusted object with dish soap.
  4. Use the potato to scrub the rust away.
  5. Rinse and dry well.

If you’re looking for a great, inexpensive, natural and non-toxic hack to remove rust, a potato is one of your best options.

4. Lemon and salt

lemon and salt to remove rust from metal

Along with potatoes, lemons are another non-toxic way to get rid of rust. Get yourself a lemon or lime and you’re one step closer to a rust-free home.

  1. Cover the rusted item with coarse salt.
  2. Take a lemon and scrub the salt to remove the rust.
  3. Once the rust is gone quickly wash it off to prevent any damage.

Not only is this a great technique to remove rust but it leaves your items smelling citrusy and delicious.

5. Citric acid

Citric acid is another easy way to remove stubborn rust from metal objects. You can find this in most grocery stores on the baking aisle. Here’s how to use citric acid to remove rust.

  1. Add three tablespoons of citric acid to hot water.
  2. Let the rusted object soak overnight.
  3. Rinse and dry.

Keep in mind while citric acid is great for removing rust it also removes paint and other forms of coating. So, be careful what objects you use on it because you may remove more than just rust.

6. Rust-removing products

There are many products on the market that remove rust, such as Evapo-rust. Here is how you can use products like this to remove rust.

  1. Soak the rusted object in the product for 30 minutes.
  2. Scrub rust.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.

These products are typically easy to find and easy to use. They work on most metals and are proven very effective.

Removing rust stains on other materials

While rust primarily grows on metals, it’s important to know it can stain other things such as fabric and tiles. Here are a couple of tips for removing stains from those types of items.

Ceramic tile

Removing rust from tile is very simple and easy to accomplish.

  1. Cover with soap and hot water.
  2. Use a pumice stone to scrub the stain.
  3. Dry.

Note: Don’t use a pumice stone on a ceramic countertop as it could cause scratching.

Blue rusty pot.

Carpet

If you happen to get a rust stain on your carpet there are a couple of ways to go about removing it.

  1. Use a carpet-safe stain remover.
  2. Use lemon, salt and hot water to scrub away the stain.

The type of carpet you have and your preference for the method will determine how you go about taking care of the stain. Both methods above have proven effective to remove said stain.

Prevention is the best method to get rid of rust

If you’re not one to enjoy cleaning rust in the first place then learning how to prevent it is the next best thing. Here is how you can prevent rust from growing at all.

  • Use stainless steel instead of other metals.
  • Apply oil to metals to slow down the rusting process and sometimes even prevent it altogether.
  • Store metals in low moisture and humidity-controlled environments.

Consider these methods before the rusting process begins to save yourself some trouble in the long run. If you do spot rust, though, these tips and tricks will make removing rust from metal a little easier.

The post 6 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Rust appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How to get preapproved for an American Express card

American Express offers a wide variety of credit and charge cards – meaning it might not be as exclusive as it once was considered. Nevertheless, scoring one of these top cards usually requires a good to excellent credit score (above 670).

For those worried about meeting these requirements, it can seem too risky to apply for a card and risk rejection alongside a hard pull to your credit.

Luckily, there is a great way to find out which Amex cards you may qualify for. With prequalified offers, you can see which American Express cards you are likely to be approved for – taking some of the stress out of your application process. Read on to learn more about where to score these offers.

Top Amex cards for prequalified offers

Everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Rewards

Amex Gold

American Express® Gold Card

Luxury perks

Amex Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express

6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)

6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions

3% cash back at U.S. gas stations

3% cash back on transit, including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more

1% cash back on other purchases

$250 statement credit after spending $1,00 in the first 3 months

4 points per dollar on restaurant purchases worldwide

4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1 point per dollar)

3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com

60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months

10 points per dollar on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during first 6 months of card membership

5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel

5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com

75,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first 6 months

Check for offers on CardMatch

One place to check for American Express prequalified offers is on CardMatch™, a tool offered here on CreditCards.com. You just need to enter basic personal information such as your name and address, as well as the last four digits of your social security number to check your offers.

When you check for prequalified card offers on CardMatch, it does not trigger a hard pull to your credit. Instead, offers are extended based on a soft pull – meaning you don’t have to worry about hurting your score.

Once you enter the requested information, you’ll be able to view a full list of prequalified card offers and other suggestions for you from American Express, as well as many other card issuers.

targeted offer for a higher introductory bonus when you apply for an American Express card through CardMatch.

Prequalify on the Amex website

Additionally, American Express allows applicants to check for prequalified offers directly on the American Express website. Just like with CardMatch, you’ll input personal info and the last four digits of your social security number.

American Express prequalified offers don’t trigger a hard pull to your credit until you apply.

Other ways to prequalify for Amex cards

Though the easiest way to get a prequalified offer from American Express is online, you might be able to score a targeted offer by mail. If you have any accounts with American Express, be sure to keep your contact information up to date to boost your chances of getting one of these offers.

Boost your chances

As mentioned, most American Express cards are designed for users with good to excellent credit (above 670). If you are hovering on the edge of this threshold – or hoping to qualify for one of the issuer’s more exclusive cards, like The Platinum Card® from American Express – you might want to take steps to improve your credit score before you apply.

You can do this by always paying your bills on time and keeping your overall credit utilization ratio low. If you need to bulk up your credit history, you can also consider asking a family member to add you as an authorized user to one of their accounts. This strategy has its pros and cons, but it can boost your score and add to your credit file as long as the primary cardholder is responsible.

Prequalifying does not guarantee approval

Prequalifying for a credit card offer is a great way to know whether or not you will be approved, but remember – it’s not a guarantee. You may receive a prequalified card offer only to be denied for the card. Nevertheless, your chances are significantly improved by prequalifying first.

One more important thing to note here: American Express is notorious for offering different introductory bonuses through different avenues. That means the offer you get on CardMatch or in the mail might not be the same as what you see on the website. In many cases, you can score a larger bonus by applying through a prequalified offer – but you should always compare to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Final thoughts

For those worried about your credit card approval odds, prequalified offers are a great way to know ahead of time which cards are in your reach. With several different methods to score these offers, American Express makes it easy to maximize your chances of scoring the card you want.

Source: creditcards.com

How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?

A young African American woman sits at her desk with her laptop in front of her as she looks off to the side.

Your credit report offers valuable insight into your financial history and affects most of your financial future. Everything from whether you get approved for a mortgage to what your credit card interest rate will be balances on your credit score.

Negative information on your credit report can be detrimental for years. Wonder how long hard inquiries stay on your credit report? It’s not always clear how long inquiries and other negative information stays on your credit report and affects your score. The length and severity vary, but here are four common types of inquiries and how long they affect your credit score.

1. How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on My Credit Report?

What is a hard inquiry?

Hard inquiries are created every time your credit report is accessed by a business when you apply for a line of credit. For example, when you apply for a car loan, mortgage, student loan or credit card, your credit receives a hard inquiry.

How long do hard inquiries stay on your report?

Inquiries remain on your credit reports for 24 months. However, hard inquiries impact your score for only the first 12 months. After that, they have no impact on your score.

How much do hard inquiries affect your credit score?

New credit—including inquiries and any new credit accounts—make up just 10% of your FICO score. A single inquiry typically only drops your credit score by three to five points. As long as you apply for credit only when you need it, this is one of the lesser hits to worry about.

It is important to consider the perception associated with numerous hard inquiries, though. Even if your credit score can take a few hits and remain good or excellent, perception can matter. If a lender pulls your history and sees you’re running up a string of inquiries, they may wonder why. It can look like you’re desperate for credit but not getting approved by lenders, which isn’t an ideal look on your credit report.

2. How Long Do Credit Accounts Stay on My Credit Report?

What is a credit account?

Credit accounts refer to all of the accounts for which you hold credit, including credit cards, mortgages and car loans. Credit scoring models like to see a healthy balance to the types of credit accounts you have and can manage effectively. Negative information on a credit account includes late or missing payments.

How long does negative credit account information stay on your report?

Negative account information, such as a late payment, can stay on your credit report for seven years from the date it was first reported as late. If you close the account, the entire account typically will be removed from your report after seven years. If the account remains open, the negative information should be removed after seven years while the rest of the account information stays on your report.

Positive information, on the other hand, remains on your credit report indefinitely. If you close the account, positive information typically stays on your report for 10 years past the closing date.

How much do credit accounts affect your credit?

Your credit mix accounts for 10% of your credit score. A healthy mix means more points. The age of your credit accounts also impacts your score, accounting for 15% of the score. If you don’t have many credit accounts or if you close your accounts, it could negatively affect your credit score.

Payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, and making payments on time is the most important factor in determining your credit score. A single late payment can drop a good score by as much as 90 to 110 points.

Most lenders don’t report missed payments until accounts are more than 30 days past due, so if you can catch the missing payment in enough time, you might not notice a hit at all. Other lenders will let one late payment slide, especially if you’ve been a loyal customer for many years and have a good excuse for why you missed it.

3. How Long Do Collection Accounts Stay on My Credit Report?

What is a collection account?

When you fall behind on making payments on an account, your debt could end up in the collection’s department of that company. The creditor may also sell your debt to a collection agency, which reports it as a collection account. At this point, the original creditor that sold the debt should not continue to report a balance owed, but you should watch out for duplicate collection accounts.

How long will collection accounts stay on your report?

Collection accounts remain open for seven years plus 180 days from the date the account was delinquent. After that time, it must be removed regardless of when it was paid or when it was placed for collection.

How much do collection accounts affect your credit?

Understanding how collection accounts can affect your credit score is tricky. The most important factor that will affect your credit score when it comes to collections is how recently the collections occurred—the more recent the collection, the lower the score. Multiple collection accounts can also lower your score. Unfortunately, settling or removing a collection may not impact your score positively.

While there’s no way to tell exactly how much a collection account will affect your credit score, it is one of the higher penalties. The best course of action is to avoid having accounts sent to collection in the first place.

4. How Long Do Bankruptcies Stay on My Credit Report?

What are bankruptcies?

Bankruptcies are proceedings that let you restructure debt you have no way of paying. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, you may pay a portion of some of your debt back via a plan. Once your bankruptcy is over, outstanding debts are considered discharged and no longer owed.

How long do bankruptcies stay on your report?

Chapter 7, 11 and 12 bankruptcies stay on your credit report for 10 years from the date filed. Completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies are usually removed after seven years from the filing date.

How much do bankruptcies affect your credit?

In the aftermath of a bankruptcy, your score is likely to drop dramatically. However, the purpose of bankruptcy is to provide a last-resort option for restructuring your financial life. By making strong financial decisions during and after your bankruptcy, you can work on bringing your score back up.

How long do inquiries stay on your credit report? As you can see above, it depends. And the impact each has to your score is variable.

But one truth remains. Negative items on your credit report do impact your score. You can’t afford to ignore these items, especially since some may not even be accurate. Sign up for your free Credit Report Card today. You can check your credit, get a better grip on your credit report and learn how to get the most from your credit score. 

Sign up for your free Credit Report Card today >>

The post How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

"How Will You Measure Your Life?" The Question that Changed Me Forever

Reading is one of my superpowers. I make time daily in my work life to consume an article or a chapter of a non-fiction book. I usually learn something—a new fact to absorb or a tactic to try. 

Incredibly rarely, something I read actually changes me. 

When I first read this piece, I was an exhausted, overworked, always-feeling-guilty mom with a long commute and a need for something to change.

Seven years ago, I first stumbled on an article called How Will You Measure Your Life? written by the renowned Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. The piece captivated me, and I credit it with setting me on a new path. Christensen, who has since passed away, offered me a sense of direction and clarity. I find many people around me seek the same thing right now, which is precisely why I'm revisiting a seven-year-old article with you today.

When I first read this piece, I was an exhausted, overworked, always-feeling-guilty mom with a long commute and a need for something to change. Reading it helped me ask and answer some big questions for myself—not by telling me what to think, but rather how to think. Christensen's article applied big wonky management concepts to the everyday business of humanity. And he did it beautifully.

Since I first read "How Will You Measure Your Life," I've made a habit of rereading it once a year. And each year I take something new from it.

Today, in case you’re one of those people sitting with big questions, I’d love to share some of my favorite insights. If you’ve ever wondered how to maintain fulfillment, balance, and integrity in your life and career, then this one’s for you.

How do I achieve fulfillment in my career?

Professor Christensen begins with an introduction to the work of Frederick Herzberg whose research in the mid-twentieth century taught us that money is not our most powerful motivating force.

As Money Girl Laura Adams tells us, money can buy us happiness … but only to a point. To have emotional well-being, we need to have enough money to cover basics like food and shelter comfortably. A widely cited 2010 study set that bar at $75,000 a year. Making more than that, data told us, didn’t equate to more happiness.

Unlock those golden handcuffs and free yourself to find joy in your work.

So if money doesn’t drive happiness, then what does? According to Christensen, it’s the opportunity to learn, to grow in responsibility, to contribute to the development of others, and to be recognized for your hard work and achievements. 

So ask yourself: Are you having these fulfilling experiences in your work today? 

If you could use a bump, are there ways you can infuse more life into your work? Can you take on a project that might help you expand your thinking, network, or knowledge? Can you mentor someone whose success you’d love to enhance? Can you publicly recognize a colleague who did you a small solid?

Or are you ready for a change you now realize you can afford to make?

Maybe you’ve always worked in corporate and dreamed of rolling into the non-profit space. Or you’re being pulled in multiple directions and want to transition to working part-time for a while. Or there’s that side hustle you always wanted to try, or that degree you dream of getting.

Unlock those golden handcuffs and free yourself to find joy in your work. 

For me, this meant finally stepping out of a job that felt heavy and taking that chance on starting my own business. I’ve never looked back.

How do I maintain balance?

This, Christensen explains, is really a question of how your strategy is defined and implemented.

”…A company’s strategy is determined by the types of initiatives that management invests in.”

If a company's strategy is to win by creating high-quality products, but it chooses to maximize its profit margin by using cheap materials to manufacture them, well … I think you can see why the strategy is doomed to fail.

So the question here is what strategy have you defined for your life. And are you making the right investments to support it?

To make the analogy work, Christensen imagines each important part of his life as a line of business—his career, his family, and his community.

He wants each of them to succeed. So he allocates his investments—his time, his focus, his care—in alignment with that strategy.

I realized that my time is my investment portfolio. I wanted to take ownership of it.

“Allocation choices,” he says, “can make you turn out to be very different from what you intended.”

He goes on to observe that “People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers even though… loving relationships… are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”

When I first read this, I knew my sense of balance was off. Yet I somehow felt powerless to change it. But there was something in his framing about the allocation of resources that really hit me. I realized that my time is my investment portfolio. I wanted to take ownership of it.

Did I quit my job and start my business the next day? I assure you I did not. But this reframing was exactly the gift I needed to move from feeling constrained and trapped to feeling encouraged and ready to explore some options. 

Where have you possibly overinvested in work and underinvested in the things or people that bring you joy?

I’m not suggesting you follow my path. I’m inviting you to assess yours. Are you investing according to the outcomes you hope to achieve? Where have you possibly overinvested in work and underinvested in the things or people that bring you joy?

How do I keep integrity at the forefront?

Ever hear of something called the “marginal cost mistake?” I hadn’t. It’s the idea that most people who’ve fallen from grace (think Bernie Madoff) didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit a major crime.

“A voice in our head says ‘Look, I know that as a general rule most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once it’s OK.’ The marginal cost of doing something wrong ‘just this once’ always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in.”

Personally, I’ve never stood on the precipice of making a criminal choice. But this concept has shown up in my life in different ways.

Think long and hard before you break the golden rule. Otherwise, your 'marginal cost mistake' will stay with you.

In my life today, I stand firmly in the camp of respect and equality for every human being. If someone in my life—a client, a colleague, even a family member—makes an off-color joke or comment, I know it’s easier to ignore it. Just this once. 

But I won’t. And having that clarity makes the choice so simple for me.

Maybe your boss asked you to “borrow” a competitor’s idea you heard about… just this once. Or a friend needs a reference and wonders if you’ll play the role of her former boss… but just for this one potential job.

Think long and hard before you break the golden rule. Otherwise, your "marginal cost mistake" will stay with you. I still remember kids I didn’t stand up for on the playground. I can’t change what’s behind me, but I can be a version of myself going forward that the little girl in me would be proud of.

I wish the same for you.

I hope these ideas have triggered some insight or courage or inspiration. May you be fulfilled, may you be in balance, and may you be the most gleaming version of you.   

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Does Your Small Business Need a Blog? Blog Writing Services Can Help

If you have a business, the next step to taking it further is to build and grow a connection with your customers. Simply providing a service or product is no longer enough. In a world that is always moving and full of change, people crave meaningful interactions. And that need extends to the products and services they use. Customers want to be surrounded by things they can identify with. If a business with great products or services is also able to provide some kind of added value for someone, that person is more likely to become a loyal patron. 

As a business owner, providing that added value can feel like a huge task. This is where the value of blog writing services can really shine. Not only can these services create more connections between you and your customers, but they can also make your life easier through a smoother workflow. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started.

What are my goals?

Ultimately, you probably hope to increase your sales. However, modern consumers expect personal connections. Set a goal for providing helpful facts that engage new readers. Establish a goal regarding how many new readers left comments on your blog. Consumers are more likely to complete sales when they feel that you hope to improve their lives. 

Do I even need a blog?

Yes. According to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center, people regularly turn to blogs and internet articles instead of using their televisions for news and information.

How can I connect with customers?

A blog allows businesses to connect with customers in many ways. Blogs provide answers to consumers' questions. They make your brand seem approachable and friendly. Blogs encourage readers to interact with your company and maintain meaningful connections. In addition to providing a blog, reach out through social media to invite readers to visit your website. 

Who are my current customers?

If you aren't sure about the needs, motivations, and concerns of your existing customers, it will be easy to miss out on meaningful connections. As you respond to comments on your blog posts or on your social media sites, you'll learn more about the needs that drive sales. While copywriters will spend time researching your current customers, it's also helpful for you to develop relationships with them.

Who is the target audience?

Who benefits most from the goods or services you offer? These people are your target audience. Take a look at the demographics of your existing customers to identify the new audience you want to attract. Remember to focus on how your offerings can improve the lives of your existing customers to understand how to attract people from your target audience. 

How busy is my schedule?

Building and maintaining a blog with a consistent schedule takes a lot of work. Some people make the mistake of underestimating the time commitment that goes into planning, design, and content creation. When your workday is already pushing beyond the 9-to-5 schedule, you don't really have time to produce consistent, fresh content. 

There are a lot of potentially great blogs out there that consist of just one or two posts … last updated eight months ago. If you want to have a blog that builds and sustains an audience, a consistent schedule is critical. Without a schedule, it can sometimes be impossible to ensure posts are written and content keeps flowing. If you have loyal followers and you disappear for several months, you may very well be forgotten! Using blog writing services makes this a non-issue. When someone else writes your content, you can tend to your life and work without having to worry about losing customers.

Can copywriters really represent my voice?

The task of finding someone to accurately portray your company should not be taken lightly. After all, writing in a business or brand's voice is a critical part of the copywriting process.

It is equally important to understand the value of professional copywriters. There are many factors involved in the process of creating great copy that leads to increased sales, and copywriters must understand and use these strategies. With research into your subject and your target consumers, talented copywriters can represent your voice. 

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

How to Start Building Credit Once You Turn 18

Good credit is crucial to unlocking many financial opportunities in life. When you have a great credit score, you can get lower interest rates on car loans, credit cards and mortgages. Some employers and landlords even check credit reports before they make a job offer or approve a resident application. While developing a solid credit history takes time, follow some of these tips on how to establish credit once you turn 18 to get started as soon as possible.

1. Understand the Basics of Credit

Make sure you understand the basics of how credit works. Your credit reports are maintained by three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. It contains data on your current and past debts, payment history, residential history and other facts. This data is supplied by lenders, creditors and businesses where you have accounts.

The information contained in your credit report determines your credit score. Higher credit scores are more attractive to lenders and creditors. The factors that influence your score include:

  • Payment history, which is whether you pay your bills on time
  • Average age of accounts, which is how long you’ve had your accounts open
  • Credit utilization ratio, which is how much of your open credit line you’re currently using
  • Account mix, which demonstrates that you can responsibly manage multiple types of accounts
  • Inquiries, which occur when you apply for new credit

As a new adult, some of these factors may not currently apply to you. However, they can all negatively or positively affect your score, depending on your behavior as a consumer. Educating yourself on credit now helps you avoid costly mistakes in the future.

2. Monitor Your Credit Report and Credit Score

Now that you understand the basics of building credit, you need to start monitoring your report and credit score. Monitoring your credit is one of the best ways to learn what will positively or negatively impact your scores. It also helps you catch inaccuracies or signs of identity theft sooner.

You can check your credit report for free annually with each major credit bureau. As you review your report, look for any negative or inaccurate information that could be screwing up your credit. You can also check your credit score, updated every 14 days, for free at Credit.com.

If you’re really serious about understanding your credit reports and scores, sign up for ExtraCredit. With Track It, you can see 28 of your FICO scores and credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

3. Sign Up for ExtraCredit

ExtraCredit does more than just show you your credit scores. Have you recently started paying rent or utilities? BuildIt will add them as new tradelines with all three credit bureaus. That means you’ll get credit for bills you’re already paying—building your credit profile each month.

Sign Up for ExtraCredit

4. Become an Authorized User

If you have a friend or family member willing to add you as an authorized user on their credit card, you can piggyback off their credit card activity to help establish your credit. Even if you don’t use the card, the account can still land on your credit report and potentially positively impact your score.

This method poses some risks to the primary cardholder and you, the authorized user. If you or the primary cardholder rack up too much debt or miss payments, that activity could end up damaging the credit of both parties.

You should also verify that the credit card company in question reports card activity to the credit file of authorized users. If they don’t, your credit won’t see any benefit.

5. Get a Starter Credit Card

Credit cards are one of the best tools around for building credit, but you might have trouble qualifying for one when you have no credit history. Luckily, there are a few credit card options for young people with little or no credit.

Unsecured Credit Cards: If you don’t have the money to make a security deposit, consider an unsecured credit card such as the Avant Credit Card. This card offers a process that presents you with a credit line based on your creditworthiness before you apply. It also has no penalty or hidden fees—a perfect fit for any young adult’s starter card. You do need at least some fair credit history to be approved, though.

Avant Credit Card

Apply Now

on Avant’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
25.99% (variable)


Balance Transfer:
N/A


Annual Fee:
$39


Credit Needed:
Fair

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No deposit required
  • No penalty APR
  • No hidden fees
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Help strengthen your credit history with responsible use
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00. Cash Advance Fee: The greater of $10 or 3% of the amount of the cash advance
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

Card Details +

Secured Credit Cards: A secured credit card requires an upfront security deposit to open. Your deposit will typically equal your initial credit limit. For example, a $500 security deposit would get you a $500 credit limit. These cards are easier to qualify for, and you can use them to make purchases, just like traditional credit cards, while also establishing some credit history.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Apply Now

on Capital Bank’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
17.39% (variable)


Balance Transfer:
N/A


Annual Fee:
$35


Credit Needed:
Fair-Poor-Bad-No Credit

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card

Card Details +

6. Make Payments on Time

Making timely payments is the most important thing you can do to build credit, as payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. This applies to credit cards, loans, utilities such as cell phone services and any other account that requires a monthly payment. No matter the account type, a late or missed payment that lands on your credit report can do significant damage to your credit score.

7. Maintain a Low Credit Card Balance

Your credit utilization ratio, or the amount of available credit you have tied up in debt, is another major contributor to your credit score. Most experts recommend keeping your credit card balances below 30% of the available credit limit. Ideally, you should pay your balance off in full each month to avoid interest and keep your utilization low.

8. Get a Loan

Getting a loan just to build credit is generally not a good idea, as you shouldn’t take on debt only for the sake of your credit score. But if you have a valid reason, such as needing a car or money for college, a small loan in your name can help you build credit.

As with credit cards, loans only build a good credit history if you pay them on time every month. You also want to ensure your creditor reports payments to the credit bureau. If you also have a credit card, getting a loan can help improve your account mix, which makes up around 10% of your credit score.

9. Keep It Simple for Now

The more credit cards and loans you open, the higher your chances are of falling into debt. When you’re just starting out, you should probably play it safe and manage one basic credit card and/or small loan until you get the hang of things. Trying to manage too many debts at once could get you in over your head.

Over time, you can start to add other credit cards or loans to the mix, diversifying your credit profile and adding more opportunities to build credit. And because the age of your accounts affects your credit score, just keeping accounts open will help you build credit history in the long run. When you’re starting to figure out how to build your credit, do it slowly, carefully and with a constant eye on your statements and credit reports.

The post How to Start Building Credit Once You Turn 18 appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com