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11 Solid Rules of Thumb for Adult Life

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Being an adult is about more than the number of candles on your birthday cake. It’s about personal growth, building healthy habits, and embracing responsibility. It may sound like a daunting challenge (and in many ways it is), but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Remember these 11 rules and you’ll do just fine (consider this your cheat sheet to life).

1. IF IT TAKES TWO MINUTES OR LESS, DO IT NOW.

It’s easy for little chores to pile up and become intimidating. To cut down on procrastination, do any task that takes less than two minutes to complete right away. This applies to anything from doing the dishes to responding to personal emails (work emails are another story, as studies show it may be more productive to spend longer stretches of time focusing on a single task—see No. 7). Just get it out of the way, and you won’t have to worry about it later. Avoiding procrastination will lead to a less cluttered house and mind.

2. KEEP YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS SAFE AND ORGANIZED.

Keeping documents organized is one of those things that doesn’t feel important until it’s too late. To avoid misplaced-passport-panic in the moments before you leave to catch a flight, or having to laboriously re-write and reformat your resume when your ancient laptop finally crashes for good, keep all of your important documents—both physical and digital—well organized. For physical documents, it’s a good idea to have a designated binder or drawer to keep everything important—from tax documents to bills to your lease—in one place. And for digital files: Back everything up often, either online or in a back-up hard drive.

3. RESTOCK HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES BEFORE THEY RUN OUT.

Never get caught without household basics like toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, and batteries. Paying a little bit of attention to your stock of household supplies now is easier than dealing with a spill without any paper towels later. Find out what kinds of batteries the electronic devices in your home like remote controls and smoke detectors take: If the smoke detector in your home starts running low on juice, it will beep all day and night until you replace its battery, so it’s a good idea to grab a few in advance to avoid a sleepless night. Speaking of…

4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP.

Sleep is crucial to mental and physical health, but people habitually treat it like it’s optional. Fewer than seven hours a night will take a toll on your health; but, on the flip side, getting enough sleep can improve your ability to focus, lower your stress levels, and even keep you at a healthier weight. You’ll ultimately be able to get more done during the day by investing in a full night’s sleep than by staying up for a few extra hours to work.

5. LOOK TOWARDS THE FUTURE.

It’s totally possible to live in the moment and plan for the future at the same time. Break down your long term goals into smaller, more immediate tasks in order to spend less time worrying about distant future events. For instance, if you’re planning for a big career shift or a new job down the line, break that goal down into things you can do in the near future, like job applications, additional education, and networking events. Breaking your big goals into smaller tasks will help you get more done now, and allow you to worry less about the future in your down time.

6. PAY YOURSELF FIRST.

Start saving money right now—you’ll be glad you did. No matter how much money you’re making, it’s a good idea to put a little away each month. You can even have a set amount automatically transferred from your checking account into your savings at set intervals, so you won’t even have to think about it.

7. QUIT MULTITASKING.

Want to get more done? Sometimes it helps to do less. While it might feel like we’re getting more work completed when we perform multiple tasks at once, most of the time, that’s not the case. Multiple studies have found that multitasking breaks our focus, makes us less efficient, and can even cause cognitive damage in the long run. Instead of trying to do everything at the same time, break down your day into different tasks, and focus fully on each one. Many of our most common distractions are technology-related: If you’re at work, designate specific times to check and respond to emails; at home, put down your phone if you’re watching a movie or hanging out with friends.

8. LIVE A BALANCED LIFE.

People talk about finding a work/life balance, but it’s equally important to find a balance between categories like friends and family, fitness and relaxation, and being social and spending time on your own. Finding the right balance means something different for everyone, so it’s important to follow your own instincts instead of looking at what other people are doing. For some, working out at the gym every morning feels right, while others are happy to get their recommended weekly dose of cardiac exercise by heading out for jog or yoga class a few times a week. It’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling, and find the balance of time spent on activities, work, and relationships that feels right for you.

9. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF...

Learning how to stand up for yourself isn’t just about fighting back when you’re being bullied. It’s about knowing how to express your feelings with tact, and voicing your opinions respectfully. Whether you’re negotiating a pay raise or caught in an argument with your significant other, it’s important to make sure you’re getting your point across in a way that’s assertive but not combative. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re listening as much as you’re talking, and to remind yourself that you’re having a conversation—not a fight.

10. …BUT DON’T BE AFRAID TO COMPROMISE.

When it comes to human emotions, things often exist in a gray area. For instance, if you’re arguing with a friend or significant other, it’s often more productive to find a middle ground than it is to prove you’re right.

11. DEVELOP GOOD HABITS THROUGH REPETITION.

When you’re a young adult, you have to work to undo all of the bad habits you developed in college, like going to bed too late, eating junk food, and skipping your workout in favor of takeout. Develop good habits the same way you developed the bad ones: Through repetition. Exercising regularly or eating healthy may feel like a chore now, but eventually it’ll be as second nature as staying up until 4 a.m. watching TV once was.

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
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It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


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Don't Pour Alcohol on Your Bed Bugs—Try These Tips Instead
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Getting bed bugs is a nightmare experience, one that’s sure to cost you oodles of time, money, and emotional distress. The bugs are painfully hard to purge from your household, and it’s getting even harder as they become more resistant to common insecticides. Unfortunately, home remedies are often no match for these parasitic insects. Dousing them with rubbing alcohol (a tip you'll often hear) won’t kill them; in fact, it might just burn your house down, as a woman trying to rid her Cincinnati apartment of bed bugs found out recently. As The Washington Post reported, the alcohol in that case was too close to the flame of a candle or some type of incense, and ignited. It wasn't an isolated incident.

In the last 10 years or so, people trying to kill bed bugs with alcohol have started several house fires across the U.S., including a different incident in Cincinnati just two weeks ago. So short of burning down your entire house and starting over, how do you get rid of them?

The short answer is: Give up on the idea of saving money and call an exterminator. According to 2014 research, plenty of DIY bed bug-killing remedies are woefully ineffective. Rubbing alcohol, in fact, only killed half of the insects sprayed by the Rutgers University researchers in that study. Researchers have found that other recommended home remedies, like moth balls, foggers, or ultrasonic bug repellers, are even less effective. And don’t even think about using “natural” type products that use essential oils as the main ingredient. They might smell nice, but they won’t help your bug problem.

But before you call in the big guns, there are a few effective, concrete steps you can take to reduce your infestation. As Rutgers bedbug specialists Changlu Wang and Richard Cooper wrote in their bed bug fact sheet, putting your belongings in plastic storage bins or garbage bags is a good place to start. Since the bugs don’t like to climb on smooth plastic, this can help contain the infestation. Just make sure to treat whatever you’re putting inside the bags or bins first by putting them through the hot laundry, steaming, heating, or freezing them.

You’ll need a mattress encasement, too. This will keep the bugs that have already infested your mattress from escaping, meaning they won’t be able to feast on you anymore and will die of starvation. Nor will any new bugs be able to get inside to nest. You’ll want to make sure it’s a scientifically tested brand, though, since not all mattress encasements are bite-proof or escape-proof for bed bugs. (Most experts recommend the Protect-a-Bed BugLock encasement, which costs about $81 for the queen-sized version.)

Next, pick up some bed bug traps. Set them up under the legs of your furniture and around the perimeter of rooms to help detect new infestations and reduce existing ones. According to Wang and Cooper, a one-bedroom apartment might need eight to 12 of these traps, while bigger apartments will require more.

You’ll want to expose all your belongings to extreme temperatures before you even think about touching them again. Putting them through the washer/dryer on its hottest setting will do the trick to kill both bugs and their eggs, but if you need to eradicate bugs lurking in items you can’t wash, you can freeze them in plastic bags (as long as your freezer gets down to 0°F). You can also kill them with a steam cleaner, especially if you need to purge them from your couch or other upholstered furniture.

If you’ve still got a large number of bugs lurking in your house, you can tackle them with a vacuum cleaner, sucking them out of seams, zippers, trim, and other furniture crevices. But you’ll want to use a stocking or some other method of protecting your vacuum from being infested itself. (See Figure 6 here.)

Some research has also found that desiccant dusts that dehydrate bugs to death, like diatomaceous earth and silica gel, can be effective at controlling bed bug infestations (silica gel in particular) when spread around the perimeters of rooms, on bed frames and couches, and on furniture legs.

As we mentioned before, you’ll probably want to consult a professional even if you do all of the above, because if you miss even one bug or egg, you'll be back to where you started. The cost of an exterminator pales in comparison to the cost of throwing out everything you own, moving homes, and then realizing you’ve brought the bed bugs with you anyway.

The bad news for anyone who’s already infested is that prevention really is key when it comes to bed bugs. So brush up on what the pests look like, make sure to check your hotel room for them when you travel, and if you spot them in your apartment, make sure to warn your neighbors.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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