Easy Ways to Invest in Your Future

Invest in Your Future

Life, especially in early adulthood, is hectic. With having to manage school, social activities and working life – it is easy to forget about the most vital part of this equation – you. As the saying goes, to invest in yourself is the best investment of all. Here are a few ways to invest in your future – and the best part? They’re easy and not-so time consuming.

Create Healthy Habits

Your physical health is key to maintaining a healthy well-being. When you look good, you feel even better – and that phrase is entirely true. Eating well, getting enough rest, and doing some form of exercise each day will help create a healthier lifestyle. Rest directly affects your ability to focus, and eating better in combination with daily exercise boosts your metabolism. All of these will create a happier and healthier you in the future. Having trouble getting started? Check out this article from Creating True Happiness. The sooner you invest in your future, the easier it will be to create a routine.

Build Your Knowledge

Whether you are graduating high school, undergraduate university, or even graduate school – keep learning. Continuing your education is one of the best ways to invest in your future. In particular, higher education opens many doors beneficial to your future self. It will help you make vital connections and ultimately you will become a well-rounded person. Even more, higher education is pleasing to potential employers. They understand graduating requires good time management skills and a greater ability to think through a problem. They also know education is a personal choice to invest in your future, demonstrating you’re business savvy.

Begin Saving

I understand saving is difficult to do while going to school and having to pay bills, but it’s important for a successful future. Even if it’s as little as fifty dollars a month from your paycheck, any small sum will make a difference. It’s vital to have some savings before you are completely submerged in adult life. This way, it will be easier to transition from college life to your own apartment because you will have some money for potential emergencies. Trust me, your future self will thank you later for saving – so start now!

With these tips, you will soon be on the way to a brighter future. Having healthy habits, continuing your education and savings some money are great ways to invest in yourself – so step back from your jam-packed schedule and focus on you.

 

 

Creating a Gratitude Journal

Journal

Through the hustle and bustle of everyday life – between work, school, internships, and trying to have an amazing summer – it’s easy to lose focus and take the little things for granted. With creating a gratitude journal, anyone can easily add a little positiveness to each day. Having trouble getting started? Here are a few tips.

Find a Notebook You Love

This may sound silly, but it is vital. Search for a notebook that shows off your style; one that generates happy thoughts. You can also buy a blank notebook and create your own cover similar to an inspiration board. This is something you can be creative with because it’s all about you. It’s important to have a notebook that you won’t mind carrying around with you or having on your bedside table. You will encounter it a lot – so make sure you like it.

How Much Time to Spend

Writing in your journal everyday is ideal for beginners. This will help kick-off your positive lifestyle and make it easier to adjust to writing about yourself in a journal. Most people advise to write 5-10 things you’re grateful for a day – which is a great guideline – but if some days you have less than five and others you have more than 10, that’s perfectly fine. No two days are the same, therefore you shouldn’t restrict your amount of grateful moments.

Be Specific

When it comes to writing down your ideas, it’s easiest to use bullet points. This breaks up your thoughts and makes them easier to comprehend when you go back and read your entries. However, be specific with your bullet points. Don’t just say that you’re grateful for your job – provide a detailed example. Like that you’re grateful for your job because it’s payday, or you’re grateful for it because it’s brought you great coworkers that cheered you up today. Being specific will pay off when you reminisce on your memories.

Nothing is Unimportant and Keep the Negative Out

If you are grateful for the amazing sandwich you had for lunch, or for the lady who held the door for you at the local coffee shop – write it down. This helps you find positive moments in every situation. And of course, any negative thoughts you have throughout the day do not belong in this journal. This is specifically for happy and grateful thoughts or memories!

If you’re looking for a new way to find joy in every situation, try a gratitude journal. It helps you focus on the little things that make every day great, and it’s a creative way to keep track of your thoughts.

Learning an Instrument in College

I think at some point in their lives, most people hear a piece of music and think “wow… I wish I could play that.” For most of us, that idea remains an unfulfilled wish. It’s often hard to find the time or energy to learn, especially as an adult. But fear not, because I’m here with some tips on how to learn a new instrument in college! I’ve been playing the guitar for a while, but now I’m also learning to play piano. These tips proved useful to me, and hopefully they will be for you too!

budget time for your instrument

Budget Your Time- And be Realistic

Let’s be real; you might not have much time as a young adult to learn an instrument. The question is can you find just 15 minutes a day to practice? If so, then you can learn an instrument. The real difficulty is developing the habit of practicing. An old music teacher once told me practicing isn’t about having the willpower to practice – it’s about having discipline. Willpower is fickle, and relying on feelings to practice every day simply won’t work. Instead, find a consistent time to practice every day. Convince yourself there is no better use for that time other than practicing. Turn it into an ultimatum – It’s either practice, or stare at the wall. Then follow through and practice when the time comes. If you can only do 15 minutes a day, that’s fine. It’s enough to progress!

instrument

Make Sure Practice Time isn’t Wasted

Further pushing the idea of efficient time usage, make sure when you do practice, you aren’t spinning your wheels by dwelling on your past success. Ok, you finally learned that one piece you struggled with. Instead of playing it over and over, why not move on to the next piece? It’s imperative you keep learning every single day when you only have a limited amount of time to practice. I have made the mistake of dwelling on past success too long by “practicing” nothing at all for hours at a time.

Have some fun with your instrument

Have Fun With Your Instrument

The point of playing an instrument as an adult is to have fun, plain and simple. I probably don’t have to say it’s not likely to become your career. Also, your parents aren’t forcing you to play in a boring orchestra anymore. Have fun with your instrument! Learn some bluegrass fiddle parts for your violin. Learn to play your favorite TV theme song on your instrument and play along when it comes on. Practice music theory by writing a cover of Seinfeld two octaves higher than the original. If you’re not having fun playing music, why are you doing it at all? So go wild!

How to Easily Volunteer – and Enjoy It

 

Volunteering

With summer now in full swing, there’s no better way to spend some of that extra time than to spend it volunteering! Volunteering not only gives back to the community, it’s also a great resume builder. If you’re having trouble find your start, here are a few tips to help you find the perfect opportunity.

Choose a Cause You’re Passionate About

This is the most important thing – you’ll enjoy going to volunteer simply because it’s something interesting to you. When you surround yourself with individuals who share your interests, it’s also easier to interact and create vital relationships. If you’re a marketing major, volunteer at your local community center and help manage their website/social media accounts.  If you’re a veterinary medicine major, volunteer at your local animal shelter/hospital. Volunteering is a great opportunity to get involved in your future field. Whatever your major or field of interest, you can always find something that will add a vital component to your resume.

Check Around Your Community

This is the easiest way to volunteer. Go and take a stroll to your local library or community center and ask about events/projects they have going on. You can look at the community board for flyers or ads as well. It’s a great way to give back to your community and form new relationships in town. More great ideas include: Visiting the local animal shelter (if you like animals), stopping over at a food bank, or finding time to volunteer at a senior center/retirement community. These are all easy and great ways to get out and make a difference.

Online Tools for Volunteering

If you’re not yet comfortable venturing into your community, try looking on the Internet for some ideas instead. There are websites that can help find the right opportunity for you – such as VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, and AllforGood.org. All of these websites are easy to navigate; simply type in your zip code, what you care about or your interests, and then it will create a list of volunteer prospects in your area. This is a great way to start, especially if you’re stuck on where to begin.

Volunteering is not as difficult as some may think! Reach out to your local community or use online outlets to find something your passionate about and you can easily start participating.

A Day in the Life of a Journalism Major

Journalism

As I sit back and write this, I realize how busy my life actually is. I am constantly thinking and I am constantly writing. Whether it’s on the back of a placemat at the diner or in my bed at three in the morning; my brain is always working on my next piece. And you know what? I love it! Here’s what my typical day is like…

Reviewing My Planner

As I said before, my days are full of writing. They’re full of writing stories, articles, and random ideas… everywhere. I usually begin by looking over my day planner, which is supposed to help organize my life. As a journalism major, that’s not quite true. My day planner is full of little blurbs and keywords from thoughts I had throughout the year. I’m already running out of room and it’s only June. The ideas are constantly flowing, like a stream after a huge rain storm. Reviewing my planner keeps me on top of my writing assignments and functions as a refresher for my ideas.

Becoming Inspired 

When I’m ready to leave the house, I walk out into a world full of possibilities. To me, everyone’s a story. No matter who it is, people I encounter at the local supermarket or the drive-thru girl at Dunkin Donuts, I wonder where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. I am constantly thinking, “I wonder what their story is?” I imagine who they met and how it affected them. I strongly believe there’s a story within everyone – you simply need to find it. 

Exercising My Mind

Aside from wondering how the elderly cashier at the food store got to where she is, I also frequently practice writing exercises. Whether they’re from a workbook about sentence structure or some online courses, writing exercises are valuable for personal growth. If you’ve never tried one, check out Writer’s Digest for an example. I do at least one exercise every day to help me master my craft. As one of my favorite professors said on our very first day of class, “Becoming a great writer is no secret – write, edit, repeat.” There’s no need to write a complete story every time. Throughout the day, I simply write a few sentences and see how I can improve them. It’s that simple!

Journalism isn’t only about writing. It may sound cliché, but I read the newspaper every day. Some days it’s my local online news paper and other days I use the New York Times app. Occasionally, I’ll even go retro and read a physical paper. Whatever the platform, I keep up with the news constantly. Not only is it entertaining, but reading helps develop your writing skillet. It’s good to compare how different newspapers report on the same issues or events, helping young writers create their own style.

Long story short, my entire life revolves around journalism and writing. Some people might think that sounds boring, but I’m perfectly okay with that. There’s nothing more satisfying than thinking of a great story, writing it down, then doing a self edit to create a perfect product.  

 

Getting Into Bluegrass

Can you remember the last time you heard a great Bluegrass song? Bluegrass music is one of the least understood genres of music in my opinion. From its roots in African traditions to its codification by Bill Monroe, the history of bluegrass is fascinating. Most people don’t realize how much some bluegrass resembles music they already like. However, telling people about bluegrass tends to result in them nodding off. So instead of writing about all that boring stuff, I’ve decided to recommend some songs! I’ve based my recommendations on genres you might already be into, starting with…

Classic Rock

Connoisseurs of this genre will accuse me of generalization when I lump all classic rock together, and truly they’re right. But this is a bluegrass list, not a classic rock list. Therefore, I think it’s appropriate to group it into one category.

Bluegrass

Me and my Guitar by Tony Rice

Besides the album art, this record is nearly perfect. Me and my Guitar really steals the show! Tony Rice, widely considered the father of modern bluegrass guitar, opens with a gorgeous guitar solo. The song format is instantly familiar to any rock fan. Rice’s voice resembles rock legends like Elvis more than I’d like to admit. Lyrically, this song isn’t about the country, economic woes, or a woman. Instead, also like many rock legends, Tony spends a full three minutes singing about his love for his guitar.

Melodic Pop

Are you a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift fan? Well, according to the internet you can’t like both of them. But if you at least like one of the two, then I have the song for you.

Bluegrass

Rye Whiskey by The Punch Brothers

Rye Whiskey is an old bluegrass standard drinking song. For me, it hits all the notes of a Black Eyed Peas song. If that comparison seems dated, you can tell how long it’s been since I’ve had an interest in pop. This song is instantly familiar to anyone who’s recently listened to the billboard top 40. Rye Whiskey follows the traditional 4 chords of pop, but it also has a gorgeous 3 part harmony vaguely reminiscent of the chorus for Twenty Two by Taylor Swift.

R&B

If you love R&B, you probably love it for the gorgeous singing and that funky, rhythmic beat. This song might not be Beyonce, but it’ll probably scratch that same musical itch

Bluegrass

Nashville Highrollers by Owen Campbell

Owen Campbell had his 15 minutes of fame after a video of him taunting the judges on Australia’s got Talent went viral. Since then, he’s fallen back into relative obscurity but his music career is still thriving. An incredible slide guitarist, Campbell creates a cacophony of rhythm akin to R&B’s funk and blues roots. Campbell’s mastered voice and instrument create a wall of sound much in the same way R&B artists do with their voices. With only 25,000 monthly listeners on spotify, does Campbell deserves many more? I think so. Give this song a listen and decide for yourself.

After checking these out, are you interested in bluegrass? Do you disagree with my assessment of any of these songs? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

 

Summer Classes Made Easy

Summer Classes

Like many college students, I’m currently enrolled in a summer class. Adding a summer course is a good way to earn a few extra credits if you are falling behind. If you didn’t do well in a course during the regular semester, consider taking it over the summer. The reduced course-load is perfect for succeeding in any challenging class. However, taking summer classes isn’t always fun. Here are a few tips on how to manage summer classes and still have a great summer.

Online Courses

A variety of classes are available online, especially during the summer semester. Online courses are not for everyone, but they are a great alternative to being stuck inside a classroom during the summer. Online courses offer flexibility. It’s easy to go on vacation because all you need is a few hours and some Wi-Fi to complete the necessary coursework. With many online classes not taking attendance, you can work ahead and then miss a day without having to worry. No more, “Sorry, I have class.” Go out and enjoy the summer! However, don’t let all that freedom corrupt your work ethic. Make sure you submit assignments by the deadlines and participate in online discussion boards with other classmates.

Favorite Teachers

Let’s be honest, everyone has a favorite professor. At the least, they have a professor they’re more fond of compared to others. For an easy way to deal with summer classes, check if that certain professor is teaching any sections you need. As long as it fits within your schedule, take it! By selecting a professor you’re familiar with, you’ll already have an idea of what you’re walking into on the first day. Even better, you’re potentially already on their good side. It is less stressful to have a summer course with a professor you know and like. You may even have a few laughs along the way!

Shorter Term Classes

Many schools offer various course lengths during the summer. Some courses last the entire summer (from June to August), while others are only a few months.  The most intense courses can be as short as five weeks. Instead of being in class all summer, a good alternative is to take one of the shorter, more intense classes. It will be more work, but it only last a few weeks. Then once it’s over, you can have the rest of the summer to do what you please. What’s the greatest part? They’re all worth the same amount of credits, which means it’s a full class even though it’s shortened.

Deciding to take a summer course is never easy. You don’t want it to ruin your summer, but you also want to get ahead on your course load. Before you decide, consider these tips to make taking summer classes a little easier! 

2017 Summer Reading List

If you’re anything like me, summer is a time to be as lazy as possible. However, all that laziness can cause you to stress about being unproductive. You’ve got to do something to feel like a productive member of society, right? What could be better than a summer reading list? It helps hold you accountable and you’ll feel great when you tick off a book on your list. Starting with some fiction and then moving on to non-fiction, here are my recommendations for this summer:

Fiction

The Name of the Wind - Reading List

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This book centers on an old, decrepit hero telling his life story to a biographer.  However, he might exaggerate a little so readers beware! Told via a meta-story taking place in a bar, the protagonist recounts the many twists and turns he endured throughout his life. The Name of the Wind is one of a few books I’ve found which acknowledges life doesn’t always create a cohesive narrative. A combination of gorgeous, poetic writing and an unreliable narrator make this a must for any fantasy fan’s reading list.

The Mistborn Trilogy - Reading List

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

This book is a bit of a twist on traditional high fantasy and takes place after “The Chosen One” saves the world. Mistborn focuses on how absolute power corrupted him absolutely. Later books in the trilogy jump the shark a little bit and any thoughtful commentary on the nature of power goes out the window. However, even if the latter two books lack any real insight, they’re still great magic filled romps. If you find yourself on the fence about reading this series, it’s worth considering Mistborn’s unique perspective.  The trilogy’s protagonist is a woman of color, an under-represented voice in writing.

Dead Beat - Reading List

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

I can’t pretend these are intellectual in any way, but they’re still great books. What could be better than Harry Potter crossed with The Maltese Falcon? That’s right, nothing. The first few books are a bit sub-par, but the world building is second to none and the characters are not only memorable, they’re realistic. Most importantly, you get to see the world through the eyes of a gumshoe wizard. What’s not to like?

Non-Fiction

Three Felonies a Day - Reading List

Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Henry Silvergate

Did you know the average working professional in the US commits approximately three felonies in one day? In this horrifying and fascinating book, Henry Silvergate details how our overly complicated and circuitous criminal justice system helped create a world in which anyone can be arrested for merely existing. Three Felonies a Day will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about justice in the U.S. If your future includes law school, you need to add this book to your reading list.

The Bleeding Edge - Reading List

The Bleeding Edge: Why Technology Turns Toxic in an Unequal World by Bob Hughes

In The Bleeding Edge, Bob Hughes offers a critique of capitalism by focusing in on Silicon Valley. He argues capitalism does not help technology and technological development at all. Offering historical examples from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, Hughes shows how technological development only truly occurs due to altruism and mutual aid.

Of course, these are just five books you could read this summer. Do you have recommendations? If so, don’t forget to leave them in the comments below!

How to Easily Create a Reading Nook

Reading Nook

Like most avid writers, I am also an avid reader. I have read hundreds of books, including everything from romance novels to educational texts. While I never have trouble finishing a good story, something that does become a challenge is where to read and store these amazing books. As a veracious reader, it’s natural to want a place that’s comfortable and one you can call your own. What you need is a reading nook! If you don’t know what that is or need help setting one up, here’s how to create your very own reading nook!

Find the Perfect Place

Before you can even think of supplies, you need to find the best place to set up. Find a quiet place that makes you feel relaxed. Whether it’s a corner of your bedroom or a bigger space in your basement/attic, find a place that works for you. Many quite places are secluded areas, but be sure it’s not so secluded it becomes hard to access. Remember that you’ll need to be able to bring tons of books into your nook with ease. 

Essential Elements

Now that you have a perfect place, it’s time to get the perfect supplies! First, let’s start off with the seating. It’s important to find a comfortable chair or cushion because you will potentially be sitting for hours reading these novels. A cheaper option for this is simply buying big pillows or cushions. You’re basically set if you buy one to sit on and one to lean up against the wall. Before you buy, make sure the material is to your liking; you won’t want to sit on something scratchy. A possible pricier option is buying a bean bag chair or a small piece of furniture. Bean bag chairs can be extremely comfy, and pieces such as chaise lounges add character as well as comfort. While setting up your seating area, add some smaller pillows and blankets to increases the comfy factor. Using decorative pillows also helps you create your own personal style.

The next element is storage. Getting a small bookshelf to hold books you’re currently reading is essential. A bookshelf also offers table space for needed coffee cups and snacks. If you’re someone who reads better with music playing, a small bookshelf provides space for a portable radio/speaker . Finding the perfect shelf without breaking your budget shouldn’t be difficult. Your local consignment shop will likely have options, or hit up a garage sale and scout out one that works for you. Try to remember it doesn’t need to be brand new, it simply must hold your favorite books.

The final element, but far from the least important, is finding the perfect lighting. The perfect lighting is key because you need to see what you’re reading without straining your eyes. It also adds to the mood you’ll feel when sitting in your newly created nook. For a softer vibe, a cool idea is to buy bright string lights or Christmas lights to hang above your reading nook. A simple table lamp placed on your bookshelf is sufficient as well. Lighting is also an opportunity to show off your personal style! You may want to find a lamp that is your favorite color or represents your favorite themes. Either way, buy something that makes you smile because after all, this is your space.

You’re now all set! You have your perfect spot, a comfortable place to sit, storage for your reading collection, and great lighting fixtures. It wont take long until you notice how much more enjoyable reading is using your new nook. Do you have a perfect nook you like to read in? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

Traveling Cheap While in College

Traveling cheap

Last week, my partner and I went on a very nice vacation to New York City. As normal as that sounds, it’s something I thought would be impossible only one year ago. After all, my parents weren’t about to pay for a vacation in The Big Apple if they weren’t going. However, there were a few little tricks I discovered which made vacationing on my meager, college tour guide income possible. Follow these five simple tips on traveling cheap and go places you thought you never could afford!

Tip 1: Avoid Hotels!

I initially balked at the idea of vacationing in New York simply because I thought a hotel would be too expensive. As it turns out, I was right. However, we didn’t stay in a hotel and really no college student living on a budget should ever stay in a hotel. Look around for a cheap Airbnb, or try staying at a hostel. After all, you’ll simply be sleeping there. It doesn’t need to be a five star Vegas suite to comfortably rest your eyes for a few nights.

Tip 2: Make sure the place you’re staying at has a kitchen and cook your meals.

I can’t say enough about how much cheaper this one mantra made our trip. Food in big cities is expensive, no matter how cheap you try to make it. If you get a cheap sandwich and a drink, that’s easily a good ten dollars. Multiply that by three meals over five days and you’ve got an uncomfortably high expense of $150 per person. Unfortunately, that estimate is also on the lower end for big cities. By giving up eating out for most meals and buying groceries instead, we spent about $50 on food for a full week.  Now that is traveling cheap! If you follow this advice your meals might not be the most glamorous (lunch was a bagel with peanut butter and an apple most days), but hey, you’re here to see the sights. You can get plenty of better, more affordable food back home.

Tip 3: Find out what’s free, and then do it.

Free concert? Add it to the list. Free museum hours? Mark them down also. Free street fair, street performances, or bar trivia without a cover charge? Mark all of them as to-dos. Just because something is free doesn’t mean it’ll disappoint. If you play your cards right, you can even weasel your way into some paid activities for free (or at least for cheap). For instance, The Met in New York only has a suggested admission price. Do I feel guilty about only paying ten dollars for two people? A little, but it’s hard to feel anything other than awe when you’re staring a 4,000 year old egyptian mummy in the face, especially when the experience didn’t break the bank.

Tip 4: Budget for your trip, then follow through with it.

Know how much you want to spend and stick to it. Before the trip, try to plan out all anticipated costs in advance. You’ll want to know what’s essential before you start splurging. For instance, if your ticket to see the sights is in the form of a $35 subway pass, you need that more than you need a street kebab. It’s not only essential and worth budgeting for, a subway pass also won’t give you food poisoning. Once you’ve planned out all your important and unavoidable expenses, you can take what’s left over and use it towards feeding your need for instant gratification. Keep in mind unexpected expenses are part of traveling, so be sure to save a little cash to cover unplanned travel needs.

Tip 5: Remember to Have fun

Budgeting is great and all, but your vacation is about having fun. If you get caught up trying to save every dollar possible while traveling cheap, you’re likely going to miss out. It’s important to give yourself some spending money so when an unexpected opportunity arises, you can get out there and have fun. If you can afford to cut loose, then why not splurge a little? After all, life can’t always be about scrimping and saving.

Traveling is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be outside of your reach. While most college students face a tight budget, proper planning and thrifty ideas can make traveling cheap possible. While the thread count of my Airbnb sheets might not have stood up to the expectations of some ritzy New York travelers, we shared the exact same view of the mummies inside the Met.