General Tips en-US 8 Powerful Brain Hacks You Can Do in Under 2 Minutes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-powerful-brain-hacks-you-can-do-in-under-2-minutes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="mind power" title="mind power" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Brain Hacking, also known as &quot;mind hacking&quot; has become increasingly popular over the last few years. According to <a href="">Squidoo</a>, mind hacking is &quot;to perform some act that gains access to the fundamental mechanism behind your mind and other people's minds by here-to-fore unknown or apparently mystical means.&quot; (See also: <a href="">13 Easy Ways to Improve Your Brain</a>)</p> <p>Other people see it simply as &quot;mind over mind over matter,&quot; which basically comes down to self-control using techniques that allow you to tap into your mind's seemingly unlimited potential. Now, with these 12 quick and easy brain hacks, you can unlock some of that latent ability and surprise yourself, and your friends and colleagues. And maybe even some new dates.</p> <h2>1. &quot;Smell&quot; Yourself More Attractive</h2> <p>Right now, you can make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex just by <em>thinking</em> one thought over and over in your head. That thought is, &quot;hey, I really smell terrific,&quot; or some variation of it. Researchers at the University of Liverpool conducted tests on men, seeing how they felt about themselves <a href="">after spraying on deodorants</a> that contained powerful ingredients. However, half of the men got spray that contained no such magic ingredients. The results were the same. By believing they smelled great to the opposite sex, the opposite sex found them more attractive.</p> <h2>2. Reduce Your Pain&hellip;With Binoculars</h2> <p>&quot;Pain is all in the mind.&quot; How many times have you heard that and thought &quot;yeah, right!&quot; If you slice your finger cutting vegetables, or whack your little toe on the corner of the nightstand, it's not so easy to convince yourself it doesn't hurt.</p> <p>However, researchers at Oxford University found a non-medicinal way to make the pain shrink &mdash; <a href="">they used inverted binoculars.</a> When subjects looked at their wound through the wrong end, it made the wound <a href="">seem a lot smaller</a>, and in turn they felt less pain. It sounds nuts, but it's true. The upshot of this is when you get pain, you have to imagine that pain being much smaller; or simply look away. Focusing on your wound will bring you increased pain.</p> <h2>3. Organize Using Your Imagination</h2> <p>Cleaning. 99% of us really don't like doing it. Whether it's a messy room, a desk at work, or the cluttered basement, the task always seems overwhelming. But there is a very quick brain hack you can do to make that task much easier.</p> <p><a href="">Watch how PJ Eby</a> uses this trick on a messy desk.</p> <p>First, you look at your desk and take in the whole situation. Look at the mess, the chaos, and the disorder. Then, close your eyes and visualize that desk as clean and organized. Next, you need to feel good about what you visualized. Feel relaxed about the desk. Feel proud. Finally, hold that feeling, and the clean desk image, in your mind. Let it wash over you. You should almost be seeing in x-ray vision, looking through the clutter to the clean space.</p> <p>What you have done is kick-start your brain's automatic planning system. By comparing the two images, you are automatically going to see places for things to go, and what to do with them. It's something that takes less than a minute, but can save you hours of frustration.</p> <h2>4. Improve Your Memory With a Mind Palace</h2> <p>If you're a fan of the BBC show <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004132HZS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=YGHVABWLWBVIJGLG">Sherlock</a>, you will be all too familiar with the mind palace. However, you don't need to be an egomaniacal genius to make your own. It's a technique that dates back to <a href="">ancient Rome and Greece,</a> and it's a simple but effective way to store and recall a lot of information.</p> <p>First, you create a layout of a building or town in your brain. It should be composed of memorable places and signs. For instance, you create a shopping mall, and the first store on your right is a jewelers, followed by a burger stand and then a gym. Now, you place items you want to remember inside the different stores. Once inside each store, there will be a similar approach to the layout, with different sections, and shelves. And the key is to always use very distinct and bizarre combinations together, such as the title of this memory book &mdash; <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=159420229X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JCLEYWNUGPXF3BFF">Moonwalking With Einstein</a>. You can very easily walk through your palace whenever you want, and pluck items from the shelves with ease. Try it. This <a href="">journalist</a> did, and look how it worked for him.</p> <h2>5. Use Your Eyebrows to Become More Creative</h2> <p>If you ever want to feel more creative, try raising your eyebrows and widening your eyes. This simple technique appears to act as a boost for your creative mind, literally broadening the scope of your ideas as your widen your eyes and take more in. This is all backed by scientific research that was published in the Creativity Research Journal. Two groups of people were asked to come up with captions for a seemingly mundane image. Those with <a href="">raised eyebrows had much more creative and funny captions</a>. Try it for yourself at home and see how it works with your family.</p> <h2>6. Write Stuff Down to Remember It</h2> <p>This does not mean, &quot;type stuff down.&quot; No, you will have to go back to that archaic form of communication that uses a pen and a piece of paper. Or better yet, keep a little notepad and small pen or pencil on you as often as you can.</p> <p>An experiment conducted at Indiana University proved that the physical act of <a href=";">writing something down stimulated parts of the brain</a> that were not active when simply trying to remember something, or typing it into a computer. Perhaps it is the fact that your hand is hardwired to certain parts of the brain, and as you write you are pressing the words or images more deeply into your memory than the simple act of trying to remember. Whatever the reason, it works. Write it down, you'll remember it.</p> <h2>7. Avoid &quot;Choking&quot; By Singing</h2> <p>This is not the literal lack of breath, but rather falling victim to severe nerves and messing up something seemingly simple. It happens in sports a lot, but it can also happen to us if we have to give a presentation at work, or perhaps give a speech at a wedding.</p> <p>Choking is the result of pressure getting to us, usually because our brain is working overtime on all the &quot;what ifs&quot; and worst case scenarios. The way to beat it is fairly simple; do something to keep your brain occupied. Research shows that singing to yourself gives your brain <a href="">something to do instead of stressing out</a>. By singing, you are holding your brain hostage to a task you have given it, and it cannot concentrate on all the disasters you think are going to happen. Sing until it's your time to do something, be it sinking a long putt, giving a speech, or bowling a strike for a perfect game.</p> <h2>8. Stop Stress by Laughing &mdash; Seriously</h2> <p>Fans of <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005YVP366&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=X5TRTSMFUMLPQHWB">The Office (UK)</a> will remember the painfully awkward scene with David Brent laughing as a motivational speaker. (<a href="">If not, refresh your memory here.</a>)</p> <p>Although it was done poorly to showcase Brent's delusions, it's actually a great way to <a href="">relieve stress</a> and think more creatively. Laughter releases dopamine, and even if you feel dumb doing it, you will eventually reap the rewards. Of course, these days we all have an instant home entertainment system in our pocket. Just pull out your smart phone, Google a funny video (perhaps something you know has made you cry with laughter in the past) and spend two minutes putting a smile on your face. Your shoulders will lift, you will feel better, and you will think more clearly. Try it out.</p> <p><em>Any other quick mind hacks you'd like to share? Please do so in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Powerful Brain Hacks You Can Do in Under 2 Minutes" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development brain hacks mind hacks mind tricks psychology Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 1193088 at 16 Major Dos and Don'ts at a Job Interview <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/16-major-dos-and-donts-at-a-job-interview" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="job interview" title="job interview" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Job interview coming up? Don't be nervous! Just follow these guidelines below, and you'll be fine.</p> <p>RELATED:&nbsp;<a href="">Make a Good Impression on Your Interviewer in 10 Minutes</a></p> <h2>Do</h2> <h3>Wear the Right Outfit</h3> <p>Make sure you know what the dress code is for the office. One good idea is to check with HR before the interview to get a feel of what you should wear.</p> <h3>Bring Copies of Your Résumé</h3> <p>Although you're sure the company has your résumé, it never fails to bring copies of your just in case your interviewer needs to look at it and doesn't have it in front of her.</p> <h3>Have a Nice Folder for Your Résumé</h3> <p>Just so your résumé doesn't look like something cat dragged in, keep it in pristine condition in a professional-looking folder. Here are other <a href="">important items</a> to bring to an interview.</p> <h3>Have the Appropriate Body Language</h3> <p>Be aware of how you're carrying yourself during an interview, because your posture, eye contact, and relaxed position can impress your interviewer. Remember to sit still and straight and don't fidget. Here are more <a href="">body language tips </a>to help.</p> <h3>Give the Right Answer to the Weakness Question</h3> <p>This could be the question that could trip you up. Be honest and give a real answer and not a cop-out one. Here are more tips on how to <a href="">answer the question</a>.</p> <h3>Be On Time or Slightly Early</h3> <p>Turning up five to 10 minutes early is the sweet spot for interviews. Showing up too early can make things awkward, and showing up too late is a red flag. But just because you only have to get there shortly before the interview starts doesn't mean that you can leave your house later. Plan to be near the interview spot a lot earlier than when it starts to account for unexpected delays like traffic, and hang around in a nearby coffee shop until it's close to the interview time.</p> <h3>Prepare the Right Questions for the Interviewer</h3> <p>Make sure you've prepared a <a href="">list of good questions</a> to ask your interviewer at the end. Pay attention throughout the interview, so you'll have questions related to what the hiring manager talked about. This shows that you're actively listening.</p> <h3>Send a Thank You Note</h3> <p>Always send a thank you note (here's a <a href="">good template</a>) after the interview. This is something that's appreciated by a lot of recruiters. It's also your chance to make a final impression or clarify anything you didn't get around to in your interview.</p> <h2>Don't</h2> <h3>Think the Interview Is Over Until You Walk Out the Door</h3> <p>The interview will continue until you walk out the office door, so be careful of your behavior and your words even when your hiring manager is done firing questions at you. Be polite and on top of your game when you are making casual conversation on your way out, and be nice to the receptionist.</p> <h3>Get Too Relaxed</h3> <p>Your interviewer can seem like your long-lost BFF, but&hellip; she's not. And you shouldn't treat her like one. It's OK to be friendly, but you're still trying to make a good impression. Don't be too relaxed or you may slip up and do something that's unprofessional. She's not going to base the interview solely on how likeable you are.</p> <h3>Badmouth Your Old Job</h3> <p>Maybe you had a boss à la <em>Devil Wears Prada</em>, but your hiring manager doesn't need to know that. Badmouthing your former employer just gives off negative vibes and detracts from your professionalism.</p> <h3>Be Unprepared</h3> <p>This should be obvious, but research the company to death. <a href="">Here's how</a>. This is so you can craft your answers to fit the kind of candidate they're looking for and show that you're diligent and have done your homework.</p> <h3>Address Salary or Benefits Until the Interviewer Does</h3> <p>OK, so they are very important factors for you, but hold off until you get the job offer. Your interviewer wants to see what you can do for the company, not what's in it for you.</p> <h3>Freak Out If You Don't Know the Answer</h3> <p>The interviewer just threw you a big curveball by asking you to do some calculations when you have a phobia of math. Don't. Freak. Out. The worst thing you can do is to clam up when you don't know an answer, because you won't be able to think clearly and may throw out a bad answer in panic. Here's <a href="">what to do </a>you if you don't know how to answer a question.</p> <h3>Lie</h3> <p>Never, ever lie. Being found out will ruin your chances of getting the job. Plus if you make up something, you may not be able to talk at length about it without slipping up. Generally speaking, honesty is the best policy! Here are some of the <a href="">common lies</a> you need to avoid.</p> <h3>Talk About Your Problems</h3> <p>You need the job to pay off your student loans, blah blah. The hiring manager does not want to hear about your 99 problems, and although you're being honest, it can come off as a pity party. You will be hired based on your qualifications, potential for success, and your fit with the culture. Everything else will be secondary to those factors.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Your resume, network, online profiles all worked and you&#039;ve landed the interview. Don&#039;t mess up now! </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a style="border:none;" href=""><img style="height:95px; width:300px" src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">What You Should Do If You're Stumped During an Interview</a></li> <li><a href="">Check Out the Employee Discounts at 21 of the Biggest Retail Stores</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Job Hunting ettiquete Job Interview resume Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:00:04 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 1183629 at 12 Awesome Things You Didn't Know You Could Get at the Library <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-awesome-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-get-at-the-library" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="library computer" title="library computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you know there are more public libraries in the <a href="">U.S. than there are McDonald's locations</a>? At last count, over 16,766. And what's more, the library system is getting used more and more by the general public these days. That's hardly surprising, considering the economic climate and less disposable income available for books. (See also: <a href="">Free Books: Little Libraries That Build Community and Save You Money</a>)</p> <p>But that word, books, is something of a misnomer. To equate a library with only books is like saying you can only get a cheeseburger at the aforementioned fast food chain. The fact is, our public libraries have been doing an incredible job of keeping up with the times, and they have way more to offer than simply books and reference materials.</p> <h2>1. Streaming Music and Movies</h2> <p>You think Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu are cool? Well, your library has its own version, only you don't pay one cent to stream the titles. You just need to install the apps, and have a current library card. The most popular one right now is called <a href="">Hoopla</a>, and it's awesome. All genres are covered, and there are several new releases. You can borrow up to five titles at one time, and stream them straight to your tablet, smart phone, or computer. Isn't technology awesome?!</p> <h2>2. Tax Forms</h2> <p>As well as the post office and some larger grocery stores, libraries have a full stock of the most popular tax forms in the runup to the April deadline. They also have the tax instructions booklets at hand as well. And while librarians are not qualified tax accountants, some will offer you basic advice.</p> <h2>3. Instant Audio Books</h2> <p>You are most likely aware of the massive array of books on CD, tape, and MP3 players at your library. They have both fiction and nonfiction titles. But did you know you can know stream audio books over your smartphone? You don't even have to go into the library. Simply request the title and when it's available (often, there's no wait at all), you will be given a download link. You will have to use an official piece of third-party software, such as <a href="">Overdrive</a>, but that's all there is to it. The book plays through your phone, and you have access to it for at least two weeks.</p> <h2>4. The Latest Movies on DVD and Blu-ray</h2> <p>As well as a having thousands of older movies, libraries stock the latest releases on both DVD and Blu-ray. Of course, there are some savvy library users who know this, and reserve them months ahead of time. So if you want to get hold of a copy as soon as it's available, become one of the smart users who signs up early. Every public library has a website that enables you to reserve or &quot;hold&quot; the latest titles. Get your name in the system early, or you will be number 432 in line.</p> <h2>5. Coffee, Snacks, and Milkshakes</h2> <p>These days, libraries know that people will want to sit and read a lot of the information they have (and quite a lot of it cannot leave the library). So, they have started to provide beverages and snacks at reasonable cost. You can't just start swigging coffee in the middle of the fiction section; they usually have designated dining areas. But, you can definitely bring your reference book or magazine to that section and enjoy it whilst sipping on a latte and eating a muffin.</p> <h2>6. Museum Passes</h2> <p>The next time you want to take the family (or just yourself) to the local museum, take a trip to your local library first. Many libraries around the country are now participating in the museum pass program, which pairs them up with local museums. The libraries have a limited number of passes every month, so they're given out on a first come, first served basis. Ask your local library for details. Remember, different libraries have different passes and different lending rules, so if one library doesn't have what you're looking for, try another.</p> <h2>7. Vintage Photographs</h2> <p>Many libraries have old and rare photographs in their archives, and you are more than welcome to look through them. Usually, they will be related to the state you're in, but as this is the digital world, many libraries have the information available online. For starters, here is the <a href="">New York Public Library's</a> photo database. It contains over 800,000 images for you to search through!</p> <h2>8. Family Tree Archives</h2> <p>Are you interested in tracing your lineage? Well, make your first port of call your local library. It can be expensive to sign up to genealogy websites, but many <a href="">libraries</a> have access to them, and will in turn give you access to the massive searchable databases. If you find out you're related to royalty, make sure you still come back and visit us, ok?</p> <h2>9. The Latest Magazines</h2> <p>A single issue of a magazine can run you anywhere from $3 to $10 (sometimes more if you are interested in international periodicals). Buying a few of these every month can get expensive. Your local library will have copies of dozens of the latest magazines for you to read. Everything from consumer reports to home and garden and fishing, all free and waiting to be read.</p> <h2>10. Meeting Rooms</h2> <p>Do you have a group of friends or colleagues that require a weekly place to meet and chat? If your home isn't available, try the local library. They have several meeting rooms available that can be booked by the hour. Sometimes book clubs meet there, on other occasions it's chess clubs, study groups, or even <a href="">War Hammer</a> societies. They don't have to be related to books or reading; it's a community service, and you're part of the community.</p> <h2>11. Tools</h2> <p>Really? Well, not every library has its own Home Depot section, but it's starting to catch on. Library members can check out tools the same way they would check out books or DVDs. The list of rules and regulations is a little more rigid (<a href="">see this one from Berkeley</a>) but the basic idea is the same; free tools for members, for a week or two.</p> <h2>12. Musical Instruments</h2> <p>Interested in learning the violin or playing the piano? Your local library could be a great place to begin. As well as having a lot of musical instruction books and videos on the shelves, they could also have a supply of instruments to check out. From keyboards and drums to stringed instruments, you'd be amazed. <a href="">AADL even has guitar pedals</a>.</p> <p><em>Does your local library offer more cool stuff? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Awesome Things You Didn&#039;t Know You Could Get at the Library" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips books free movies free stuff libraries sharing Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:00:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1190039 at 5 Work Habits From Country Music <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-work-habits-from-country-music" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman listening to music" title="woman listening to music" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Johnny Cash once described country music as, &quot;three chords and the truth.&quot; Now, the hard-drinking Man in Black may not have necessarily been talking about work habits, but it turns out country is full of work wisdom.</p> <p>The value of putting in a solid day's work was a consistent theme of my Southern upbringing. We valued a strong work ethic so much that I spent more than one Christmas morning raking leaves for my grandfather (after presents and breakfast, of course). Like almost anything, the workday is better with a soundtrack, and as a kid mine was country music. Lately (and surprisingly), those lyrics have been coming back to me, providing with much more than just different ways to execute a party in the back of a truck.</p> <p>Here are five work habits I've learned from country music.</p> <h2>1. Hold True to Your Own Vision</h2> <p><em>&quot;But you got dreams he'll never take away.&quot; &mdash; Dolly Parton's &quot;9 to 5&quot;</em></p> <p>No matter your boss or the work environment you're in, you can't ever stop dreaming. You have to set goals for yourself and work toward your end dreams. If you're lucky enough, one day you may even get paid to do something you've always dreamed of doing.</p> <h2>2. Work Hard, All Day, Everyday, Repeat</h2> <p><em>&quot;That's the only way I know, Don't stop 'til everything's gone&hellip; Full throttle, wide open, You get tired and you don't show it.&quot; &mdash; Jason Aldean's &quot;The Only Way I Know&quot;</em></p> <p>Every student poised to graduate from college should be required to listen to this before accepting their diploma. Here's what they don't tell you in school about the real world: Everyone is tired, everyone is busy, and no one wants to hear about it. Go to work, work hard, and don't complain about it.</p> <h2>3. A Good Attitude Changes Everything</h2> <p><em>&quot;I can't wait to get up in the mornin' and do it all over again.&quot; &mdash; Brooks and Dunn's &quot;Hard Workin' Man&quot;</em></p> <p>The takeaway from this is pretty simple: If you have to get up and go to work everyday, you might as well have a good attitude about it. Chances are good that you will spend the majority of your life working a full-time job &mdash; try to enjoy it somewhat.</p> <h2>4. Take Time Off</h2> <p><em>&quot;I cashed my check, cleaned my truck, Put on my hat, forgot about work.&quot; &mdash; Alan Jackson's &quot;Good Time&quot;</em></p> <p>Sometimes, you absolutely have to forget about work. You have to be able to turn off your computer, stop checking your email and relax on occasion. The more you're able to do this, the easier it will be for you to go to work energized and enthused for the task ahead.</p> <h2>5. Keep Things in Perspective</h2> <p><em>&quot;Have you ever seen a headstone with these words: if only I had spent more time at work.&quot; &mdash; Billy Ray Cyrus' &quot;Busy Man&quot;</em></p> <p>I haven't. And I hope I never do. Remember, a job is a job is a job and there is always another one around the corner <em>&mdash; </em>especially for someone with a great work ethic!</p> <p><em>Have you learned any lessons about work from country music?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Work Habits From Country Music" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This post is by Lauren Cowling, managing editor of <a href="">Country Outfitter Style</a>. She grew up in the South and spent more than one holiday morning doing chores or manual labor. Naturally, she took this work ethic to the Internet where she regularly writes about pop-culture and entertainment. When she&rsquo;s not watching reality TV Lauren is googling facts about things she&rsquo;s seen on TV.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Lauren Cowling</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment General Tips Personal Development country music life skills work ethic Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:00:05 +0000 Lauren Cowling 1185009 at Are You Tipping Wrong? This Is What You Should Be Leaving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="restaurant tip" title="restaurant tip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you ever wonder if you're being too stingy or too generous &mdash; or if you're supposed to tip someone for their services at all? What about when you go on vacation: do the rules change? And what is the &quot;right&quot; amount to show appreciation for service providers at the holidays?</p> <p>Well, wonder no longer, because it's all here in Wise Bread's guide to tipping for (almost) every situation.</p> <h2>Dining &mdash; In or Out</h2> <p>Eating at a 5-star restaurant is different than a counter-service joint. Here's the lowdown on <a href="">how to tip for food-related services</a>, based on advice from the Emily Post Institute, run by the family whose name is synonymous with etiquette.</p> <ul> <li>Wait service at a sit-down restaurant: 15-20% of the pretax total of your bill.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Host or Maitre d': Generally speaking, it's not necessary to tip the person who shows you to your table; however if you feel they've gone out of the way to find you a special table on a busy night, a $10-$20 bill is a nice token of your appreciation.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buffet: 10% of the pretax total of your bill<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take-out service: This is a completely discretionary tip. Generally, it is not necessary to tip when you pick up a take-out order, but if you feel you've received exceptional service, or that you've placed a particularly complicated order, then tip 10% of the pretax total.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Delivery: For home or office food delivery service, the Post Institute recommends 10%-15% of the pretax total of your bill. However, they also suggest a flat tip of $2-$5 dollars for pizza delivery, depending on the size of the order and difficulty of delivery.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bad weather delivery: Couriers appreciate <a href="">a little something extra</a> when the weather gets ugly, according to Grub Street. Adam Eric Greenberg, a UC San Diego Ph.D. candidate and co-author of &quot;probably the most thorough study yet on bad-weather tips,&quot; says percentage-based tipping (Greenberg suggests 15%-20%) should kick in when an order is greater than $15. &quot;When the weather is bad, be a bit more generous by tipping 20% to 22%. If it's raining outside, tip 22%-25%,&quot; he recommends.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bar service: The Post Institute suggests leaving a $1-$2 tip per drink, or 15-20% of the tab.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Barista: While contributing to the tipping jar is not obligatory, it's nice to leave an occasional tip if you think that the barista went above and beyond, or if you're a regular customer. Among the <a href="">13 Things Your Barista Won't Tell You</a>, according to Reader's Digest, a $1 tip goes a long way in creating goodwill.</li> </ul> <h2>Looking Good &mdash; Stylishly Tipping at Salons and Spas</h2> <p>The general rule of thumb is to leave a 20% tip for all the people who help you look and feel your finest. For hair services (cut, special-occasion styling, color, chemical treatments); nail services (manicure, pedicure); and spa services (facials, massages, waxing), the 20% rate is a guideline, but you can always increase the rate or round up the amount if you feel that your stylist, manicurist or esthetician has spent a more-than-average amount of time with you, or gone the extra mile to make you look amazing.</p> <p>In some salons, a shampooist will wash your hair (often with a nice scalp massage) before you sit down in the stylist's chair. Here the jury wavers between a $2-$6 tip.</p> <p><strong>Note</strong>: If your stylist offers free services between cuts, like a bang trim or neck shave, be sure to leave them a small tip ($2-$5) to show your appreciation for their time and service.</p> <h2>Getting Around</h2> <p>The 15%-20% tip guideline also applies to taxi and limo drivers, depending on location. When taking a cab or limo to the airport (or to your destination, whether hotel or back home), the Post Institute recommends an additional $2 for the first bag, and $1 for each additional piece.</p> <p>Do you like to keep your own vehicle looking spiffy? At a full-service carwash, the general rule of thumb is to tip $2-$3 for a full-service car wash for a regular-size car, but $3-$5 for an SUV, truck or van, according to Angie's List.</p> <h2>Traveling</h2> <p>&quot;Everyone that touches your bag gets a tip,&quot; according to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman of the Protocol School of Texas. A bellhop should generally get $2 for the first piece of luggage and $1 for additional pieces.</p> <p>She recommends leaving the cleaning staff in the hotel &quot;a couple of dollars&quot; every morning &mdash; not at the end of your stay. &quot;If you wait till the end of the week, they've already changed staff three or four times.&quot;</p> <p>According to the Post Institute, there is no obligation to tip a concierge for answering simple questions, but it is customary to give a $5-$10 tip if the concierge makes dinner or theater reservations for you.</p> <p>When <a href="">traveling abroad</a>, the rules vary by country. Do your homework ahead of time to make sure you respect cultural norms.</p> <h2>Help Around the House</h2> <p>Even the do-it-yourselfers of the world often rely on the experts to keep their abodes looking good and functioning well. This can be one of the greyer areas of tipping, but the <a href="">following tipping guidelines</a>, courtesy of Angie's List, can help you decide how much to dole out to household help.</p> <ul> <li>Handymen, plumbers, electricians don't generally expect a tip; however, a tip shows your appreciation for exceptional service or a small (free-of-charge) favor, like stopping by to fix a leaky pipe.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The tip for movers depends on the size of the job, length of time it takes to complete it, and the quality of the work. For a small job, $10-$20 per team member is a nice way to show your appreciation for a job well done; you may want to increase that to $20-$50 per mover for larger jobs that take longer to complete and require more muscle power.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>For people who help keep your house and yard looking good year-round, the customary practice is to give them a tip once a year, usually at holiday time.</li> </ul> <h2>Spread the Holiday Cheer</h2> <p>From your hair stylist to the garbage haulers, your mechanic or your babysitter, a gift at holiday time is the perfect way to say &quot;thank you&quot; to the people who provide you with year-long service. A gift card makes a nice holiday gift because it's a little more personal than cash, but still allows the recipient to make some choices about how to spend it.</p> <p>How much you choose to spend on a holiday tip depends on many factors, including your own financial circumstances. A batch of homemade cookies with a personal note of appreciation for services rendered throughout the year is an acceptable holiday tip if your finances preclude a large cash outlay.</p> <p>If you can afford it, the <a href="">normal cost of one service</a> is generally recommended as a holiday tip for:</p> <ul> <li>The hair stylist, manicurist or esthetician if you see that person on a regular basis throughout the year;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your pet's groomer;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your personal trainer at the gym;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cleaning person (more if they help you out more than once a week; something to split if your cleaning help is a team);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your child's babysitter or home daycare provider.</li> </ul> <p>Other people you may choose to tip in the form of a small gift at the holidays include:</p> <ul> <li>The letter carrier (note that the <a href="">U.S. government</a> prohibits federal workers (that includes postal workers) from receiving a gift valued at $20 or above);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Newspaper delivery person (between $10-$30 depending on how often you receive delivery, quality of service, difficulty in getting to your home, etc.);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Doorman (the amount here ranges widely depending on where you live; anywhere from $25-$150 appears to be customary);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Garbage collector (between $10-$30 each, assuming your municipality does not prohibit such gifts; check first!);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your local fire and/or police department (a gift to share &mdash; box of chocolates or other culinary treat is nice);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your child's preschool or grade school teacher (<a href="">guidelines vary widely</a>, but some experts recommend adding a small gift &mdash; perhaps something the child makes by hand- in addition to cash or a gift card).</li> </ul> <h2>What Is a Tip?</h2> <p>Diane Gottsman says that the word TIP stands for &quot;to insure prompt service.&quot; Whether you agree with that statement or not, when considering whom and how much to tip, bear in mind that tips are essentially tokens of appreciation &mdash; tangible ways to say &quot;thank you.&quot; When you tip at a restaurant or spa, consider the fact that most workers depend on that extra cash as part of their regular income. And tip accordingly; if you think your waiter has significantly enhanced your dining experience, let your cash complement your words of appreciation.</p> <p><em>Anybody who's deserving of a generous gratuity we've missed? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Are You Tipping Wrong? This Is What You Should Be Leaving" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mardee Handler</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips customer service gratitude gratuities service tipping Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Mardee Handler 1189078 at 8 Simple Ways to De-Stink Your Stuff <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-simple-ways-to-de-stink-your-stuff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="smelly shoe" title="smelly shoe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you have teenagers, animals, or a dirty job, you've probably had to deal with less desirable smells in your clothing, bed linens, or furniture. Sometimes those smells come out with an easy run through the washing machine &mdash; but what about those nasty smells that linger after a good cleaning? (See also: <a href="">25 Essential Tricks for Quick and Easy Cleaning</a>)</p> <p>Read on to find ways to take the stink out of just about everything.</p> <h2>1. Musty Smells</h2> <p>When clothes, bedding, and coats get that no-so-fresh smelling, it is often due to how the item has been stored. This musty smell can sometimes be removed with a cycle in the washing machine, but when that's not enough, try one of these other two options.</p> <p>A cup of vinegar in the wash and another in the rinse cycle can deodorize the fabric without leaving it smelling like vinegar.</p> <p>Baking soda can also remove the smell. Try adding a cup of it to the wash, and wash as hot as the fabric allows for to freshen up the items.</p> <h2>2. Mold and Mildew</h2> <p>Mold is not only unsafe to breathe, but it also leaves an unpleasant smell on the fabrics it touches. Bleach can safely remove mold, but that only works on white fabrics that can tolerate the bleach.</p> <p>When bleach is not an option, borax can be used.</p> <p>Borax is a natural mold killer that also deodorizes fabrics. Add half of a cup to some hot water, giving it time to dissolve before adding it to the washing machine. Run the items through the wash on the longest cycle possible to maximize the borax. When fabrics can't be run through the washing machine &mdash; or bleach is not an option &mdash; add borax to water with some mild detergent to spot wash out the mold.</p> <p>Another option for removing mold and mildew is to purchase a product that is meant for cleaning outdoor furniture and boats. Starbrite M-D-G Mildew Odor Control Bags or anything that contains chlorine dioxide will work. Other options for killing mold and removing the smell is to try a cup of baking soda, vinegar, or ammonia with one gallon of warm water.</p> <h2>3. Stinky Feet</h2> <p>Stinking up shoes is a part of life whether you are a kid, a teen, an athlete, or someone who doesn't like socks. It's something most of us have to deal with at some point.</p> <p>If it is your feet that are funky smelling, a simple wash might not do the trick. You may need to wash, exfoliate the dead skin, dry your feet completely (pay attention to the area between the toes), and then spray them with sanitizer or a product meant for athlete's feet. To prevent the smell from returning, you can sprinkle your clean feet with baking soda before wearing shoes.</p> <p>If it's shoes that are are in need of some de-funking, add some baking soda to the shoes each night. If the smell lingers, put them in a bag with baking soda and close it up tight overnight. You can also wash some shoes in the washing machine to clean them.</p> <p>Another option is to freeze the shoes. Freezing kills the odor-causing bacteria in the shoes.</p> <h2>4. Body Odor</h2> <p>Whether it is your running gear, you teen's football uniform, or the winter hat that your youngest always wears, body odor can be difficult to remove from clothing. This is especially true for the armpits of many shirts. A regular washing in the washing machine may not be enough to take the stink out.</p> <p>Your first order of business is to &quot;strip&quot; the clothing of things like residual detergent, fabric softeners, and perfumes. To do this, wash your clothes with half a cup of white vinegar as well as your regular detergent (be careful to never add too much detergent to a load). The vinegar will help get rid of the oils left behind on the fabric.</p> <p>If that is not enough to get all of the stink out, soak the clothing in a bucket of water with half a cup of baking soda. Agitate the fabric periodically while allowing the fabric to soak for a few hours. If the stink persists, you can add a paste of baking soda and water to the fabric (this works especially well on the armpits).</p> <h2>5. Cigarette Smoke</h2> <p>Most fabrics, bedding, and clothing can be washed to remove the odor. If it doesn't come out with one washing, use one of the above tricks with vinegar or baking soda to fully remove the smell.</p> <p>Removing the smell from cars, furniture, and your home may be more difficult. Wood, plastic, and metal can be washed with a mixture of warm water and vinegar. To wash the wood, wipe it down quickly with a sponge and the solution; wipe dry with a towel and allow to air-dry. Plastics and metals can be allowed to soak in the solution for two to three minutes before rinsing complete and allowed to air dry.</p> <p>The vinegar smell will not last long, but if the smell bothers you, adding a few drops of essential oils may help (lemon or lavender would be a good choice). Linoleum floors, ceilings, walls and plastics can be washed with a water and bleach mixture will help to remove the smells from those that are safe from bleach.</p> <p>For cigarette smoke that is really set in, repainting the walls and ceilings may be necessary. Carpets can be professionally cleaned, but it may be best to replace them altogether; you can also try an industrial strength spray that is used for hotel rooms, such as <a href="">Nok-Out</a>. For walls, treat them with a product like <a href=";field-keywords=kilz+stain+blocking&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Akilz+stain+blocking">Kilz</a> after they have been thoroughly washed.</p> <h2>6. Campfire Smell</h2> <p>After a weekend of camping or just a night in the backyard with a firepit, your clothes can take on the smell of smoke and campfire that lasts for ages. Wash all fabrics with a cup of vinegar along with your regular wash cycle. For items that can not be washed in the machine, hand wash or seal up in a garbage bag with baking soda. Change out the soda daily until the smell is gone.</p> <h2>7. Burnt Food</h2> <p>The smell of burnt popcorn, bacon or anything that has cooked too long can last in your home for a long time. The best course of action is to clean up the pan, stove, and oven, open the windows to air out the house, and then set a pot of potpourri on the stove to simmer. You can make potpourri with some orange peels, cloves, and enough water to cover or just water and cinnamon sticks (check frequently to re-add water as needed).</p> <h2>8. Animal Smells</h2> <p>Pets bring an extra level of love to any home; they also bring an extra level of stink. Getting the animal stink out of furniture, bedding, and your home can be as simple as a trip through the washing machine but sometimes, that is not enough. For furniture, upholstery, and carpeting use a product called <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0002ASLMW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=OETF53H6WR7FV6FE">Nature's Miracle</a>.</p> <p>For stubborn animal smells like skunk attacks, skip the tomato sauce and try a mixture of 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and a few drops of dish detergent. Rub this mixture onto whatever has been affected and let it set for a bit of time then wash with regular soap appropriate for the item. Be careful on what you put hydrogen peroxide on &mdash; it can bleach out some materials.</p> <p>When it comes to taking the stink out of anything, the three best items to have on hand are white vinegar, baking soda, and mild detergent. You may want to keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in a cupboard as well (it has many other great uses as well).</p> <p>The great thing about these items is that they are all inexpensive and very easy to locate.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite way to de-stink? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Simple Ways to De-Stink Your Stuff" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips cleaning laundry odors smells stink Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1185601 at 11 Useful, Genius Math Tricks That Are Actually Easy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-useful-genius-math-tricks-that-are-actually-easy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="math teacher" title="math teacher" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas,&quot; said Albert Einstein. So learning some basic and impressive math must at least be the limericks of logical ideas.</p> <p>If you want to provide your math skills a major boost, here are 11 useful tricks that you will make you better at math (or at least fake it 'till you make it!), all of which have kick-butt real world applications.</p> <h2>1. Faster Percentage Calculation</h2> <p>Show off by being the one who doesn't bust out the smartphone to calculate the tip. The quickest way to calculate percentages is to multiply numbers first and worry about the two decimal places later. Remember that a &quot;percent&quot; means a fraction out of 100, which means move the decimal two digits to the left.</p> <ul> <li>20 percent of 70? 20 times 70 equals 1400, so the answer is 14.</li> <li>Notice how 70 percent of 20 is also 14.</li> <li>If you need to calculate the percentage of a number, such as 72 or 29, then round up and down to the nearest multiple (70 and 30 respectively) to get a quick estimate.</li> </ul> <p>Multiplying integers is always faster than multiplying decimals.</p> <h2>2. Easy Rules for Divisibility</h2> <p>If you need to be able to decide quickly if 408 slices of pie can be evenly split by 12 people, here are some useful shortcuts. These rules works for all numbers without fractions and decimals.</p> <ul> <li>Divisible by 2 if the number's last digit is divisible by 2 (e.g. 298).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divisible by 3 if the sum of the digits of the number are divisible by 3 (501 is because 5 + 0 + 1 equals 6, which is divisible by 3).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divisible by 4 if the last two digits of the number are divisible by 4 (2,340 because 40 is a multiple of 4).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divisible by 5 if the last digit is 0 or 5 (1,505).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divisible by 6 if the rules of divisibility for 2 and 3 work for that number (408).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divisible by 9 if the sum of digits of the number are divisible by 9 (6,390 because 6 + 3 + 9 + 0 equals 18, which is divisible by 9).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divisible by 12 if the rules of divisibility for 3 and 4 work for that number (e.g. 408).</li> </ul> <h2>3. Faster Square Roots</h2> <p>Everybody knows that the square root of 4 is 2, but what about the square root of 85?</p> <p>Give a quick estimate by:</p> <ol> <li>Finding the nearest square. In this case, the square root of 81 is 9.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Determining the next nearest square. In this case, the square root of 100 is 10.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The square root of 85 is a value between 9 and 10. Since 85 is closer to 81, the actual value must be 9 point something.</li> </ol> <h2>4. The Rule of 72</h2> <p>Want to know how long it will take for your money to double at a certain interest rate? Skip the financial calculator and use the rule of 72 to estimate the effects of compound interest.</p> <ul> <li>Just divide the number 72 by your target interest rate, and you get the approximate number of years that it will take for your money to double.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you were to invest in a 0.9% CD, it would take about 80 years for your money to double.</li> </ul> <p>On the other hand, if you were to invest in a mutual fund with a 7% return, it would take your original funds about 10.28 years to double.</p> <h2>5. The Rule of 115</h2> <p>If double your money sounds too wimpy and you prefer to up the ante by tripling your money, then use the number 115 instead to estimate the number of years it will take your money to triple. For example, an investment at a 5% growth rate would take about 23 years to triple.</p> <h2>6. Figure Out the Hourly Rate</h2> <p>Sometimes to make an apples to apples comparisons between jobs you need to compare the hourly rate of each jobs. For example, if you are able to work the same amount of hours, which job pays better, one with an annual salary of $58,000 or one with a hourly rate of $31?</p> <p>Figure out the hourly rate of an annual salary by dropping the three zeros and dividing that number by 2. In this case, the hourly rate would be 58/2 = $29. Keeping all other things equal, the $31/hour gig pays better.</p> <h2>7. Advanced Finger Math</h2> <p>You fingers can do more than plain addition and subtraction. If you have problems remembering the multiplication table of 9, try this finger math trick:</p> <ol> <li>Open both of your hands, extending your fingers, in front of you.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>To multiply 9 by 5, fold down your fifth finger from the left. To multiply 9 by 6, fold down your sixth finger from the left, and on.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get the answer to 9 by 5 by counting your fingers on either side of the bent finger and combining them: 4 and 5 makes 45 and 5 and 4 makes 54.</li> </ol> <p>Now you can quickly figure out the multiplication table of 9 all the way up to 9 times 10.</p> <h2>8. Fast Multiplication by 4</h2> <p>To multiply any number times 4 at lightning speeds: First double the number and then double it again. Let's use this shortcut with 1,223 times 4: double 1,223 is 2,446, and double 2,446 is 4,892.</p> <h2>9. Balanced Average Approach</h2> <p>Instead of using the average formula, you can use the balanced average approach. Think of an average as a target that all items in a list are aiming for and you are trying to balance them out to match that target. For example, let's say that you have 5 exams in your history class and you want to get at least a 92 out of 100. Here are your grades so far:</p> <ul> <li>First exam = 81</li> <li>Second exam = 98</li> <li>Third exam = 90</li> <li>Fourth exam = 93</li> </ul> <p>What grade would you need to get on the fifth exam to get a 92 average? Let's add up how much you exceeded or missed your target on every attempt: - 11 + 6 - 2 + 1 equals - 6. To balance your average you need to make up for those - 6 points by making +6 points on top of your target. You need to make 98 on your fifth exam to reach your target grade of 92. Better start studying!</p> <h2>10. Ballpark Fractions</h2> <p>Estimate fractions faster by using easy benchmarks, such as &frac14;, ⅓, &frac12;, and &frac34;. For example, <sup>30</sup>&frasl;<sub>50</sub> is close to <sup>30</sup>&frasl;<sub>60</sub>. Since <sup>30</sup>&frasl;<sub>60</sub> is &frac12; and has a bigger denominator than <sup>30</sup>&frasl;<sub>50</sub>, <sup>30</sup>&frasl;<sub>50</sub> must be a little bit bigger than 0.50. (The actual value is 0.60.)</p> <h2>11. The Always-3 Trick</h2> <p>Now here is a party trick in which you can pretend to be <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=6305216088&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JIF47K5TMKTP6ZHP">Will Hunting</a>.</p> <ul> <li>Ask somebody to pick a number.</li> <li>Tell them to double that number.</li> <li>Then, ask them to add 9.</li> <li>Subtract 3.</li> <li>Divide by 2.</li> <li>And finally, to subtract the original number.</li> </ul> <p>No matter whether you use 1, 10, 25, 70, or any other other number, the answer is always 3! (Note: As long as they don't pick funny numbers, such as fractions or decimals.) Putting your fingers on the side of your head like X-Men's <a href="">Professor Charles Xavier</a> is highly recommended for dramatic effect.</p> <p><em>What is your favorite math trick? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Useful, Genius Math Tricks That Are Actually Easy" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips easy math math math tricks quick math Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Damian Davila 1185602 at Are You a Doormat? 17 Things Assertive People Never Say <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-a-doormat-17-things-assertive-people-never-say" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple yelling" title="couple yelling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I was born a lot of things, but assertive was not one of them.</p> <p>For years, I would find myself in situations where I had a vague feeling that all was not well, but by the time I figured out that I wanted or needed to stand up for myself (or someone else), the conversation had moved on. Then, I'd replay the conversations in my head whenever I felt discouraged, which only added to my frustration.</p> <p>I finally learned how to assert myself through a process of acknowledging my frustration with the whole situation, planning ahead what I might say or do in certain situations, and being willing to go back to someone and say that I needed to revisit a previous conversation because I wasn't satisfied with the outcome. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">5 Habits You Must Break to Become More Self-Confident</a>)</p> <p>Over time, I overcame my fear of being assertive and stopped clamming up in the moment. Along the way, I learned to never, ever say these things (at least not in the contexts discussed below).</p> <h2>1. &quot;You Hurt Me&quot;</h2> <p>While this may be true, the person on the receiving end of a statement like this will often feel accused of something, and will therefore respond defensively. Instead, use &quot;I&quot; statements, like &quot;I feel sad because the tone behind your words seemed angry.&quot;</p> <h2>2. &quot;Yes, of Course I'll Do That (Even Though I Don't Want To)&quot;</h2> <p>Agreeing to do something that you don't want to do, or that you don't know if you want to do, is one of the key characteristics of a doormat. Saying &quot;No&quot; or &quot;Let me think about it&quot; is hard, but you will feel better about yourself in the long run.</p> <h2>3. &quot;I Don't Know If That's OK With Me&quot;</h2> <p>Letting people know that you don't know what to think gives them tacit permission to decide for both of you. Instead, ask for some time to think and come up with a <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">policy statement</a>, so that you can not only handle the current situation but any similar ones that come along, too.</p> <h2>4. (Nothing)</h2> <p>Even if you aren't sure what to say, if you're uncomfortable with a situation or not sure what to think, say something. Try, &quot;I don't like that, and I want to tell you why, but I'm trying to think of the way to say it that makes the most sense.&quot; This tells them that you have a dissenting opinion and makes room for you to bring it up again later.</p> <h2>5. &quot;What I Want Isn't Important&quot;</h2> <p>No matter what is going on, you have a right to ask for what you want. The person you're talking to can still disagree, as is their right. Even if it causes a bigger disagreement, though, it's worthwhile to voice your desires, because you will feel better about yourself and you open the door for a win-win situation, rather than just the one where you lose.</p> <h2>6. &quot;It's My Way or the Highway&quot;</h2> <p>Sometimes, when people are trying to move from being a doormat to being assertive, they feel like they have to hold aggressive positions instead. This method isn't any better, though. Instead, think of yourself as being on a team with the people involved in your situation. You could even say, &quot;Can we pool our resources to solve this problem?&quot;</p> <h2>7. &quot;Do Whatever You Want (To/With/Around Me)&quot;</h2> <p>It can be hard to bring up your boundaries when you're afraid it will cause more conflict or even sever a relationship. However, without boundaries, you are a pushover. Even if you have them, if you don't bring them up, no one will know, and they won't have the opportunity to respect you for stating them.</p> <h2>8. &quot;I Don't Need Any Help&quot;</h2> <p>It may seem counterintuitive, but <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">asking for help when you need it is actually a way of being assertive</a>. It lets people know that you are not okay with things the way they are and that you know what you need. It also invites them to see your needs, attend to them, and maybe get to know you a little better.</p> <h2>9. &quot;I Don't Care About You&quot;</h2> <p>Another move that people tend to make when they feel like a doormat and want to be more assertive is to feel like they have to stop caring about others. They fear that this caring will get in the way of standing up for themselves. However, it's more-than-possible to be <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">assertive <em>and</em> caring</a>. For instance, you can be engaging and happy even as you are stating your needs or asking for help.</p> <h2>10. &quot;I Don't Know What Is Going On Here&quot;</h2> <p>Okay, so realistically, we all get into situations that we don't understand. But, as much as possible, prepare for situations where you will need to be assertive. If you often get run over in work meetings, do your research and write out the bullet points of your argument so everyone can see them while you speak.</p> <h2>11. &quot;Sure, We Can Do That Again (Even Though I Hate It)&quot;</h2> <p>When you're in a relationship pattern that you don't like, it can be hard to figure out what you want and voice it. Try to <a style="text-decoration:none;" href=",,20568071_6,00.html">start with something positive</a>, then add an &quot;I&quot; statement, like, &quot;I love that you know your granddaughter so well. I'd like it if you didn't talk to my daughter about her weight, though.&quot;</p> <h2>12. &quot;We Can't Fix This&quot;</h2> <p>Whether the problem is relational, situational, logical, or otherwise, giving up will undermine your assertiveness. Assertive people see themselves as important parts of the groups they're in, and they have faith in the problem-solving abilities of those groups. Instead, say, &quot;This is hard, so let's take a break and come back when we're refreshed.&quot;</p> <h2>13. &quot;I Don't Really Need a Raise&quot;</h2> <p>If you're thinking seriously about a raise, it's probably because you don't feel like you're earning what you're worth, and you will feel bad about yourself if you don't at least ask for more money. Plan ahead, so that you have examples of ways you've added value to your company. And if you get shot down, make sure to ask if you can revisit the topic of your performance in six months or a year. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">Create Your Own Raise</a>)</p> <h2>14. &quot;Come On, Guys&hellip; Please?&quot;</h2> <p>If people aren't following you, then you aren't leading them assertively. Instead of begging them, take a look at yourself. Much of assertiveness has to do with your body language, so make sure you are looking people in the eye and standing up straight when you're giving instructions.</p> <h2>15. &quot;I Guess I Need to Do This All Myself&quot;</h2> <p>Being able to delegate is a sign of being assertive. Unless all of the tasks on your plate are truly yours (in which case, you probably need to ask for help anyway), there are usually people who can help you, or whose job it is to help you. If you're concerned that they are overwhelmed, ask them, and then figure out a way to solve the problem together.</p> <h2>16. &quot;Please Don't Be Mad at Me&quot;</h2> <p>Sometimes, being assertive will mean that others end up upset. This is their right and their problem. They are free to tell you what they need, as well, and work with you toward a solution that will work for everyone. You are not responsible for the ways that they feel in response to you being assertive, as long as you are kind with your requests.</p> <h2>17. &quot;You Insulted Me&quot;</h2> <p>When I feel insulted, I always take a step back to determine whether the person was actually insulting me, or whether they were offering constructive criticism. When you're a doormat, it's easy to be insulted and overcome by criticism that was meant to help you grow. If you're not clear, you can always ask the other person to be more specific or ask them why they made the comment.</p> <p><em>Have you worked to become assertive? What would you never, ever say?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Are You a Doormat? 17 Things Assertive People Never Say" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development assertiveness doormat passive behavior passivity pushover Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1184373 at How to Effectively Complain to Get What You Want <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-effectively-complain-to-get-what-you-want" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="airport complaint" title="airport complaint" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're on your third business trip this month. Exhausted after a full day of presentations, all you can think about on the cab ride to the hotel is how great it will feel when your head hits the pillow. You requested a room away from the elevator and ice machine, but guess which room they gave you? And when you enter your hotel room, you hear the drip from the leaky faucet in the bathroom. (See also: <a href="">In Praise of Complainers</a>)</p> <p>Do you stew in silence, or run down to the lobby and create a scene at the reception desk?</p> <p>Neither. There is an art to complaining &mdash; with tact &mdash; to get what you want.</p> <h2>First, Calm Down</h2> <p>When you have a complaint, it's because something went awry. And chances are, you're not happy about it. Before saying or doing anything at all, pause. Count to 10. If you're banging out an angry email, wait an hour before hitting the &quot;send&quot; button.</p> <p>Even when you don't have the luxury of time &mdash; when the waiter spills the hot coffee on your lap &mdash; it's wise to muster up all the mental energy you can to think before you react. When expressing a complaint, verbally or in writing, you want your words to speak louder than your emotions, not the other way around. (See also: <a href="">Letting Go: 8 Steps to Forgiveness</a>)</p> <h2>Bark up the Right Tree</h2> <p>Go easy on the messenger. I feel badly when I see a waiter being lambasted for bringing out an order that was improperly prepared; it's the chef's responsibility to cook a meal to order.</p> <p>Make sure the person on the receiving end of your complaint has the power to provide a resolution. It's not the customer service rep's fault that the cable TV service went out during the playoff game, but they probably have the authority to give you a $25 &quot;valued customer&quot; credit for the inconvenience. If interruptions in service become a repeated problem, maybe it's time to escalate your complaint to a manager, who can assign a technician to investigate &mdash; and fix &mdash; the problem.</p> <h2>Sandwich the Complaint Between Compliments</h2> <p>Generally speaking, the aforementioned hotel (the one with the leaky faucet) is a great place. You've stayed there before, and have always been pleased with the accommodations and service. Start your exchange with the desk clerk or manager on this upbeat (but sincere) note.</p> <p>Then express your dissatisfaction with your current experience &mdash; the fact that your request to be in a room away from the elevator was ignored and that the faucet in your room leaks.</p> <p>The bottom &quot;layer&quot; of the sandwich is another positive statement, perhaps expressing your appreciation for the manager's attention to your concern.</p> <p>Using the complaint sandwich sets a positive, respectful tone to your exchange. It also reduces the chances of the person on the receiving end becoming defensive.</p> <h2>Know What You Want &mdash; And Ask for It</h2> <p>When talking to the hotel manager, what is it that you want? Are you simply venting, looking for validation &mdash; or do you want to be moved to another room in the hotel?</p> <p>Let's say you bought a new gym bag online, but the strap ripped the second time you used it. When you send an email to the retailer, are you going to ask for a refund? A replacement strap? Unless the person on the receiving end of your complaint letter is a mind reader, you need to be clear about your expectations.</p> <p>Sometimes, there is no resolution. A curmudgeon-like clerk sends you on an unwarranted guilt trip when you return a sweater, even though you only bought it last week, it has all its tags intact, and you pleasantly present your receipt. A letter of complaint can help make store management aware of problems &mdash; like unfriendly employees &mdash; so that they can take steps to rectify them. In this case, be clear that you don't want anything other than to let management know that there is an unpleasant associate in their midst.</p> <h2>Get to the Point</h2> <p>People are busy, torn in a million different directions; succinctness counts. Especially when writing a letter, assume that the reader will skim it. Be specific about your complaint and your expectations about how and when it might be resolved. Don't ramble on about impertinent details or the story of your life.</p> <h2>Be Nice</h2> <p>Whether in person or on paper (including email), remember that the person reading it may not have had a part in creating the problem; rather, they will (hopefully) be part of the solution.</p> <p>The focus of your exchange should be on the problem, not on verbally beating up the person hearing or reading about it.</p> <p>You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as the saying goes. In a recent article about <a href="">the power of being nice</a>, Anthony Iannarino, Managing Director of B2B Sales Coach &amp; Consultancy, says &quot;Being nice doesn't mean that you lack candor, that you can't be demanding, and that you can't engage in productive arguments and disagreements.&quot; Rather, he says, it means you can't be mean, and ought to treat people well.</p> <p>Being nice can also involve acknowledging resolution of a problem, even, or perhaps especially &mdash; after a string of complaints. After you've gotten what you want, be nice about it, and say thanks.</p> <p><em>How do you complain? Please share your best complaints in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Effectively Complain to Get What You Want" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mardee Handler</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips complaints customer service etiquette Thu, 14 Aug 2014 21:00:06 +0000 Mardee Handler 1184054 at 10 Insane, Life-Affirming, and Cheap Things You Must Do Before You Die <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-insane-life-affirming-and-cheap-things-you-must-do-before-you-die" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="mountain climber" title="mountain climber" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like the poet William Ross Wallace said, &quot;Every man dies &mdash; not every man really lives.&quot; So how do you know if you're really living?</p> <p>Well, you could read up on existentialism or employ a life coach &mdash; or you could tackle this bucket list of must-do's that are both frugal and utterly life-changing. (See also: <a href="">5 Cheap, Amazing, and Undiscovered Vacation Destinations</a>)</p> <p>Just reading our round-up of the top 10 is sure to light a fire in your belly.</p> <h2>1. Travel Alone to Someplace You've Never Been</h2> <p>Pull out a map and <a href="">pick a destination</a>. It doesn't have to be Paris or Dubai, but it could be. The biggest myth about foreign travel is that it's prohibitively expensive. The second biggest myth is that it's dangerous to make the journey on your own. Buses, budget airlines, <a href=""></a>, and hostels catering to backpackers are just a few of the tools that can help you travel on-the-cheap. Guidebooks and common sense will help keep you safe. All you have to do is pick a place.</p> <p>Now here's the catch: Don't plan an itinerary. That way you'll be wide open for spontaneous, wonderful things to happen. Oh, and about that knot you'll feel in your stomach upon embarking on a trip full of unknowns... That's the whole point! Travel experts say overcoming that feeling and learning to thrive on your own in a strange, new setting is precisely what makes solo travel so rewarding.</p> <h2>2. Climb a Mountain</h2> <p>Research shows that <a href="">mountain climbing gives people a sense of achievement</a> and boosts their self-worth. It's also downright exhilarating. Rocky peaks, narrow ledges, and burning calf muscles are all part of the experience. And the rewards are oh-so-sweet &mdash; an adrenaline high, sweaty mountaintop selfie ops, and stunning panoramic views, to name just a few.</p> <h2>3. Find Your Passion</h2> <p>Life's too short to be spent doing things we don't love. If you haven't found a career or hobby or person worth living for... well, what are you waiting for? Studies show that <a href="">people who are passionate about their work</a> perform better. And those who have established, loving relationships perform better at their jobs and feel more fulfilled in all aspects of life. So maybe it's time to change up your career. Try out surfing. Learn a new language. Take up woodworking or acting or one of the martial arts. Give online dating a fair shot.</p> <p>You'll probably always have to take out the trash and mow the lawn, but once you've found your passion you'll find you can do just about any task with a smile. (See also: <a href="">5 Simple Ways To Find Your Passion</a>)</p> <h2>4. Watch a Rocket Blast Off Into Outer Space</h2> <p>This here is free and mind-blowing entertainment, folks. Brought to you by NASA, <a href="">rocket launches can happen as often as twice a month</a> at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Watching the future shoot skyward in a cloud of smoke and fire is about the next-best thing to visiting space yourself. Just don't forget your camera.</p> <h2>5. Shower in a Waterfall</h2> <p>Need we say more? To find a waterfall near you, check out <a href=""></a> or the <a href=";msa=0&amp;ll=37.996163,-94.042969&amp;spn=46.173152,107.138672&amp;dg=feature">World of Waterfalls</a> map.</p> <h2>6. Play an Epic Game of Bossaball</h2> <p>This game of balance and strategy &mdash; a hybrid of volleyball, football, gymnastics, and capoeira &mdash; is <a href="">played on an inflatable court</a> with trampolines. It can be played anywhere, anytime. And despite the unique playing field, set-up only takes about 45 minutes. Oh, yeah. We should probably mention that you'll have about as much fun playing Bossaball as humanly possible. Intrigued? <a href="">Join a league</a> or <a href="">organize your own game</a>.</p> <h2>7. Roll Around in a Giant, Inflatable Bubble</h2> <p>If you're not already familiar, a Zorb is <a href="">a giant, inflatable sphere</a> that you climb inside and ride down hills or across wide open spaces. Why do people go zorbing? Because it's ridiculously fun. Invented in New Zealand in 1995, this gravity-trip has gone international. It's also reasonably priced. A Zorb ride typically costs about $40.</p> <h2>8. See a Volcano</h2> <p>There are about 6,000 volcanos in existence and the Smithsonian has created <a href="">a user-friendly database</a> of them all for your convenience. Now there should be nothing stopping you from checking out one the most mesmerizing geographic features that link the land we walk on to planet earth's fiery core. Don't be fooled &mdash; you can do a lot more than just look at them. You can ski the Cascade Volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest, witness the fiery lava of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano as it drizzles into the ocean, and scuba dive around the underwater White Island Volcano in New Zealand.</p> <h2>9. Conquer a Fear</h2> <p>Turns out that <a href="">facing your fears really works</a>. Research shows that people who expose themselves to the thing that unnerves them &mdash; be it a gigantic, hairy spider or standing at the edge of a cliff &mdash; can actually reduce their fear of that very thing. The results can be truly liberating. So if you're afraid of spiders, go to a zoo that will let you hold one. If it's heights that make you squeamish, go cliff jumping. Life is too short to let irrational fears keep you from living vibrantly. (See also: <a href="">9 Techniques That Can Help You Conquer Any Fear</a>)</p> <h2>10. Learn How to Meditate and Practice It Daily</h2> <p>The <a href="">ancient practice of meditation</a> is proven to make you happier, more focused, and more even-keeled. Researchers say it can even make you nicer. Yet perhaps it's not scientists but Hugh Jackman who best sums up <a href="">why we all should do it</a>: &quot;Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It's like the ultimate rest. It's better than the best sleep you've ever had. It's a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.&quot; What a wonderful tool to have at your disposal as you progress on this wonderful, crazy ride we call life.</p> <p><em>What have you checked off your life's &quot;Awesome To-Do List&quot;? Please share in comments (and cross &quot;Comment on Wise Bread&quot; off the list!)</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Insane, Life-Affirming, and Cheap Things You Must Do Before You Die" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Travel adventure bucket list cheap thrills Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:00:30 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1183824 at The 10 Dirtiest, Germiest, Grossest Things You Live With Everyday <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-dirtiest-germiest-grossest-things-you-live-with-everyday" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="smartphone texting" title="smartphone texting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Germs are all around us. In fact, the human body is made up of 100 trillion of them. That's right, <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">you are literally one big walking germ</a>.</p> <p>For the most part, none of this is need for concern. A healthy adult immune system is equipped with the tools it needs to coexist with the majority of the germs we encounter in daily life. But, yes, there are some germs that have the power to make us sick, and those are the ones worth spending a little time and effort to rid from our lives.</p> <p>Read on for our round-up of some of the germiest things we keep and fool-proof ways to disinfect them.</p> <h2>1. Bed Pillows</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The place you rest your head at night could very well be teeming with germs. Mold, bacteria, and <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">dust mites that feed on human skin flakes</a> (but don't bite humans) are known to lurk inside our bed pillows. The older the pillow, the more likely you are to be <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">sleeping on a microscopic zoo</a>.</p> <p>Experts suggest we replace our pillows every 18 months to two years &mdash; and not just recycle them to the guest room. That can be expensive, but it's a sure-fire way to rid yourself of the creepy-crawly germs that invade our pillows over time. Another solution is covering your pillows with quality, anti-allergen dust covers. These covers can be a bit crunchy to sleep on, but they do their share to ward off microorganisms that can make us sick and sneezy.</p> <h2>2. The Kitchen Sponge</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The sponges we use to clean our plates are <a href=";lead-PARALYSIS.html" style="text-decoration:none;">200,000 times dirtier than the toilet seat</a>. In fact, experts say there are 10 million bacteria &mdash; including E. coli and other triggers of foodborne illness &mdash; festering in every square inch of that kitchen sponge you used to scrub down your coffee mug this morning. Not only can these germs make us sick, they can actually cause paralysis. That's right: A leading researcher on the subject has identified a rare bacteria known to live on sponges that can cause loss of movement.</p> <p>Luckily, most of us already own <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">the world's greatest sponge disinfectant</a>: the microwave. Microwaving kitchen sponges at full power for one to two minutes has been proven to kill more than 99% of bacteria. Experts also recommend replacing your sponges weekly. And never, ever use a sponge to wipe down a clean plate.</p> <h2>3. Reusable Shopping Bags</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Have you ever washed that canvas tote? Studies show only 3% of grocery shoppers have. That's a dreadfully low percentage that perpetuates the 76 million foodborne illness cases that plague Americans every year. Half of all <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">reusable bags are contaminated with coliform bacteria</a>, likely from under-cooked meats, and about 12% have traces of E.coli, according to research.</p> <p>Experts say to treat these bags like soiled laundry: Wash 'em with piping hot water and detergent once a week. And remember to use separate, designated bags for produce and meats to cut down on cross-contamination.</p> <h2>4. The Litterbox</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Your cat can make you crazy. No, really. There's <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">a parasite cats excrete in their feces</a> that, when transferred to humans, can cause flu-like symptoms at best and dementia at worst. Humans are at risk not only by coming into contact with litter boxes, but also by eating unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat.</p> <p>Experts say you can prevent yourself from contracting this parasite, called Toxoplasmosis, by <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">changing your cat's litter box daily</a> (the parasite becomes infectious one to five days after excretion). You can also reduce your risk of infection by thoroughly washing or peeling fruits and vegetables before eating them and only consuming meats that have been cooked at safe temperatures.</p> <h2>5. Smartphones</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Your smartphone can give you real-time news alerts, access to far-away friends, stock market updates &mdash; and the flu, pinkeye, and diarrhea. In a study by the Wall Street Journal, eight phones in a Chicago office building were randomly selected and tested for bacteria. All of them were found to be crawling with between 2,700 and 4,200 units of coliform, <a href=";mg=reno64-wsj&amp;" style="text-decoration:none;">the bacteria found in feces</a>. Now for a little perspective. In drinking water, the limit is less than 1 unit of coliform per 100 milliliters of water. Remember that the next time you put your phone up to your mouth.</p> <p>Experts recommend wiping down your mobile device with a moist microfiber cloth daily. But that alone won't cut it. Neither will glass cleaner. The best agent to clean your phone with is isopropyl alcohol, which wipes out nearly 100% of all bacteria as well as greasy finger marks. It's important to first dilute the alcohol with water to <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">prevent damage</a> to sensitive electronics.</p> <h2>6. Keyboards</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The keyboard is a hotbed for germs. So is the mouse and the entire desktop surface where you conduct your computer work. Research shows that 32% of computer equipment is <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">crawling with bacteria that causes disease</a>. Women are even more likely than men to have a keyboard that can make them sick.</p> <p>Experts recommend hand-washing before and after computer use, especially when using a shared computer. On occasion it's recommended that you <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">clean the keyboard</a> itself by following these steps: Shutdown the computer, turn the keyboard upside down and gently shake out any debris stuck between the keys, moisten a Q-tip with isopropyl alcohol and swipe it between the keys; moisten a cloth with isopropyl alcohol and wipe down the rest of the keyboard.</p> <h2>7. Your Toothbrush</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>There are millions of germs in your mouth. Most are harmless, but some have the potential to make us sick, particularly if they've been left to fester on the bristles of our toothbrush.</p> <p>Experts say you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months. But there are also <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">things you can do to prevent bacteria buildup</a> on your current toothbrush. Before brushing, some experts recommend gargling with antibacterial mouthwash. After you brush, the American Dental Association recommends thoroughly rinsing your toothbrush to remove leftover paste and food bits. You should then store it in the upright position so the bristles can air dry until the next usage.</p> <h2>8. The Toilet Flusher</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Your toilet flusher is crawling with bacteria. Think about it: It's the one thing you touch after you do your business and before you wash your hands. Not only that, but experts say the way you're flushing is probably infecting everything from the bathroom counter to the sink. If you flush with the lid up, you're allowing polluted water particles to rise out of the toilet bowl and settle where they may. <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">Some of them will land on your toothbrush</a>.</p> <p>To prevent your bathroom from becoming a cesspool, experts recommend flushing with the lid down. Store your toothbrush and water cup in the medicine cabinet, just in case somebody doesn't get the memo.</p> <h2>9. Door Knobs</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p><a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">The flu virus can live on your door knob</a> for up to two days. Once transferred to your skin, the virus can live a couple more hours. And experts say that's enough to cause infection. Most of us will touch our eyes, nose, or mouth 16 times over the course of the next hour.</p> <p>You can cut down on the risk of door handle-borne illness by washing your hands regularly and avoiding the almost compulsory urge to touch your face.</p> <h2>10. The Steering Wheel</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Most people clean the house regularly, but how about the inside of the car? Studies show that <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">the steering wheel is coated in thousands of bacteria</a>, making it nearly nine times more germy than a public toilet seat. Yet only a third of car owners ever <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">bother to disinfect it</a>.</p> <p>Experts recommend wiping down your car's interior with a disinfectant every few months. And don't forget the trunk. Research shows that the trunk is the germiest part of the car, so you would be wise to give it a good vacuum every so often.</p> <p><em>Any germy, gross things we've missed? Please share (ick!) in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 10 Dirtiest, Germiest, Grossest Things You Live With Everyday" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips disease fungus germs pestilence Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:00:20 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1183443 at 10 Uses for Velcro That'll Make Your Life Easier <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-uses-for-velcro-thatll-make-your-life-easier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="velcro" title="velcro" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Quick fact: Velcro was not invented by NASA, and the government agency does not hold the patent for it. A lot of people still think it is NASA's baby, but it was in fact invented in 1948 by a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral. He didn't actually patent the idea until 1955, and it of course became very popular after it was included in the space program. (See also: <a href="">15 Uses for Nail Polish</a>)</p> <p>Now, the hook-and-loop fastening system is everywhere. You probably have something close by that uses Velcro in some way. You can buy it in long strips, in small patches, with and without adhesive, and in a variety of different colors. But what can you use it for beyond the obvious?</p> <p>Here are 10 Velcro life hacks that can make your life a littler easier.</p> <h2>1. Make Your Phone or Tablet Go Vertical</h2> <p>You can buy expensive cases and holders for smartphones and tablets, but they don't always do the job. Sometimes, they aren't at the right height, or at the right angle, and when you want to watch a TV show or movie, holding them for long periods of time can be a literal pain. Enter Velcro. Attach 2-3 strips of hook Velcro to the back of your phone or tablet, and then place loop Velcro boards <a href="">on walls and surfaces</a> where you watch often. This can be on the fridge door, a kitchen cabinet, in your car (under the visor is perfect, or on the back of headrests), or on a bedroom wall.</p> <h2>2. Hang Pictures or Art</h2> <p>Depending on the weight of the frame or artwork, you can easily hang pictures and canvases to walls with a minimum of fuss. The hook-and-loop system provides excellent holding power, and yet is easy to reposition and rehang. It's way better than knocking holes in your walls, only to realize the picture hook isn't quite where you want it to be. Of course, you will need to check the kind of Velcro you buy to ensure it can hold the weight you're imposing upon it; industrial strength is available.</p> <h2>3. Keep Those Rugs In Place</h2> <p>Rugs may bring the room together (thanks Lebowski), but they can be tripping hazards and eyesores when they move out of place, or worse, roll at the corners. A simple and cheap solution is to use Velcro. You can put the hook side of the Velcro on the underside of the rug, and it will naturally grip the fibers of some types of carpet. On wooden floors, use it on both the rug and surface sides, and it will keep that rug stationary for years. When it comes time to sweep or vacuum, it's easy to remove.</p> <h2>4. Adjusting Children's Clothes</h2> <p>Parents know how quickly kids grow out of clothes. As a kid, I remember my mother buying jeans that were too long for me, hemming them up, and then slowly letting them down as I grew. With Velcro, you can make these kinds of adjustments on jeans, pants, and even sleeve lengths with ease. You can also use Velcro to turn baggy pants into shorts or cargo pants for the summer, without having to cut anything. With Velcro, you can really stretch your clothing budget.</p> <h2>5. Keep Cables Tied Up</h2> <p>The more gadgets we have in our lives, the more cables we have. You can find various types of cable ties, and some people swear by cheap zip ties, but they're a one-time-only deal. Velcro is a much better solution. You can cut the pieces to any size you want, and when you have to move the computer, stereo, or printer, you can quickly unfasten the Velcro strap. They're not just good for cables, but loose pens, pencils, belts, or small tools, too.</p> <h2>6. Remove Bobbles (or Pills) From Clothing</h2> <p>There have been many inventions or solutions to deal with those annoying fabric balls that appear on clothing after a few washings. Some people use a razor to shave them off. Others use special battery-powered gadgets, or even sandpaper! Velcro is a cheap and easy way to deal with the pills. Simply wrap a length of hook side Velcro around your hand, and then run it over your sweater or cardigan. The balls come away with ease.</p> <h2>7. Stop Remote Controls From Wandering</h2> <p>How many hours per year do you spend on your hands and knees looking under the sofa for your remote control(s)? They get lost, quickly, especially if you have kids. The excuse is always the same; they're easy to lose. Well, make them less easy to lose with the application of some Velcro hook tape to the back of each one.</p> <p>You can place a pad of loop Velcro in the center of the coffee table or ottoman, as well as smaller pieces on the sides of sofas and even the TV. You will always have a place for the remote control, and the Velcro backing will make it stick to the sides of your fabric sofa. Of course, if you have suede or leather, you'll have to be extra vigilant that people put the remotes back on the Velcro pads.</p> <h2>8. Repair Handbags, Suitcases, and Purses</h2> <p>The problem with a lot of bags and purses is that the <a href="">locks</a> are not usually made to last the test of time. This is where Velcro comes in. By applying Velcro pads with some tough glue, you can make sure purses stay closed while hiding the method of closure. It can extend the life of your bags and suitcases by years.</p> <h2>9. Hide External Hard Drives</h2> <p>Digital storage solutions for computers have become so much more affordable these days; you can now get a 1TB external hard drive for around $50. Of course, all these extra gadgets consume desk space, but you have a ton of unused space to utilize. It is, of course, the underside of the desk. Place industrial strength Velcro on the top of your external drive, and then attach Velcro to the underside of your desk. You can keep several external drives hidden under there, and keep your desk space clutter-free. Don't worry, they're easy to remove if you need to take them anywhere.</p> <h2>10. Organize Jewelry (or Toys)</h2> <p>Create a piece of art that actually has a use. You will need a piece of canvas, colored felt, and Velcro. Complete instructions can be found <a href="">here</a>, but in less than 30 minutes you'll have a cool way to organize jewelry that looks at home in any bedroom. If you want to make clean up time fun in the kids' room, create a larger version and add Velcro tape to the lighter toys. They can have all sorts of fun sticking them to the appropriate places on the walls.</p> <p><em>What's the coolest use for Velcro you've ever tried? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Uses for Velcro That&#039;ll Make Your Life Easier" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips cool tricks storage velcro Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:07:20 +0000 Paul Michael 1180564 at 20 Habits You Must Start Right Now and Be a Better Person <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-habits-you-must-start-right-now-and-be-a-better-person" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman drinking water" title="woman drinking water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;I'm gonna make a change, it's gonna feel real good!&quot;</p> <p>No song gets me in as good a mood as Michael Jackson's <a href="">Man in the Mirror</a>. This tune not only packs a motivational punch, but also drives home the point that true change in this world starts with you. (See also: <a href="">20 Habits You Must Kick Right Now to Be a Better Person</a>)</p> <p>So, crank up this MJ classic, start practicing these 20 habits and make that change.</p> <h2>Health</h2> <h3>1. Drink 8 Glasses of Water Every Day</h3> <p>You lose plenty of water every day, so to stay on top shape you need to take enough fluids. The eight glasses of water could actually be more or fewer, as long as you reach your daily two-liter goal. If you need some motivation, here is some &quot;water&quot; for thought. (See also: <a href="">8 Reasons to Drink More Water</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Adequate hydration prevents risks of chronic kidney disease.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The more water in your belly, the fewer snacks you will crave.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Drinking about 17 ounces of water</a> about two hours before exercise improves your performance.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water helps you <a href="">manage constipation</a>.</li> </ul> <h3>2. Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day</h3> <p>Several health organizations, including the <a href="">American Heart Association</a>, recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Walking is one of the simplest ways to keep your weight in check. Buy a simple pedometer for less than $10 on Amazon or score a free one from most health insurance carriers and start accumulating steps by:</p> <ul> <li>Skipping lunch at your work desk and leaving the office to eat outside.</li> <li>Having more <a href="">walking meetings</a>.</li> <li>Taking the stairs.</li> </ul> <h3>3. Pick Up a TV Fitness Game</h3> <p>Instead of doing shots every time that your favorite TV character says his catchphrase, start doing squats, pushups, or planks. By turning your favorite TV shows into mini workout sessions you increase the chances of sticking to the &quot;program&quot; (get it?). On top of your favorite shows, you can also watch some high adrenaline shows, such as <a href="">American Ninja Warrior</a> and <a href="">Boundless</a>, for inspiration.</p> <h3>4. Make Light of Your Problems</h3> <p>Got anger issues? Use these effective techniques that even a two-year-old can do them.</p> <ul> <li>The next time you get frustrated, burst out into singing a silly song, such as <a href="">Shakes Your Sillies Out</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn <a href="">how to take a deep breath with Dr. Oz</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Create a scream-free zone: If you yell, others will join you in the yelling, so stop it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use humor to roll with the punches and brush off troubles.</li> </ul> <h3>5. Chase Your Cup of Coffee With a Nap</h3> <p>Here is a hack to make the most out of your next coffee cup.</p> <p>It takes approximately 15 to 45 minutes for caffeine to reach its peak levels in your bloodstream. Researchers point out that 20 minutes is the sweet spot, so maximize your caffeine rush by taking a 20 minute nap after finishing your cup. You will awaken fresh from both the nap and be ready for action with peak caffeine levels.</p> <h3>6. Take a Hot Bath or Shower At Night</h3> <p>Just like when you were a kid, winding down before bedtime helps your body relax better. Given that your body temperature <a href="">decreases about two hours before bedtime</a>, taking a <a href="">hot bath or shower</a> is a great way to maximize this relaxing &quot;cool down&quot; effect and enjoy a better night's sleep.</p> <h3>7. Eat Low Glycemic Snacks Before Working Out</h3> <p>Continuing with the topic of maximizing benefits, here is one for the next time you go for a run or hit the gym. British researches claim that eating low glycemic snacks before working out helps you burn more fat. Skip the candy bar and choose low glycemic snacks such as hummus, nuts, and hard boiled eggs. If you don't have time to grab the right snack, then use this <a href="">list of portion size for 100+ foods</a>.</p> <h3>8. Wait 30 Minutes Before Brushing Teeth</h3> <p>Most people follow the rule of thumb of brushing their teeth at least twice a day. However, according to the American Dental Association, the timing is also important. Brushing your teeth right before or after eating or drinking something acidic (e.g. orange juice, coffee) or sugary does not only give you a yucky feeling but also weakens your teeth enamel (a protective coat for your chompers). The ADA recommends to wait 30 minutes before or after a meal to brush your teeth so that your mouth's pH has time to balance out.</p> <h3>9. Go Dancing</h3> <p>Getting your groove on has several benefits:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Boosts memory and prevents dementia</a>;</li> <li>Helps with with <a href="">anxiety and stress problems</a>;</li> <li>Has comparable health benefits as walking and biking, according to an Italian study;</li> <li>Is a low-impact and <a href="">safe form of exercise</a>.</li> </ul> <p>So, pick up a class to learn a new dance, or join a group to show off your moves.</p> <h2>Financial</h2> <h3>10. Raise Contributions to Retirement Accounts</h3> <p>The clock is ticking. If you haven't started saving for retirement or are saving too little, you need to ramp up. Given that people are living longer and debt levels are on the rise, people need to raise their target retirement savings goals. For example, members of Gen Y are starting to use $2 million as the new goal instead of just $1 million. (See also: <a href="">12 Things You Didn't Know About Retirement</a>)</p> <p>Increase your contributions to your retirement account by:</p> <ul> <li>Adjusting your paycheck withholdings for your 401(k) or IRA;</li> <li>Making catch-up contributions of $5,500 per year if you are age 50 or older;</li> <li><a href="">Evaluating if annuities would make sense</a> for your retirement goals;</li> <li><a href="">Keeping your debt levels in check</a> so you have more money left for savings.</li> </ul> <h3>11. Save for Holiday Spending</h3> <p>Consumer counseling agencies see a <a href="">25% increase in people seeking help</a> in the first two of months of every year due to out of control Christmas spending. One of the easiest ways to keep your annual budget in check is to set a spending goal at the beginning of every year, and make a weekly contribution towards that goal throughout the year. This way you will not only prevent credit card debt, but also have less financial stress at the beginning of the next year. (See also: <a href="">Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today</a>)</p> <h3>12. Get More Freebies</h3> <p>Whoever said that there is no such as a free lunch, surely did not check out our calendar of annual free stuff days. Create a reminder in your agenda or smartphone so that you never miss these freebies year after year. (See also: <a href="">Never Miss Free Ice Cream Again: Complete Calendar of Annual Free Stuff Days</a>)</p> <h3>13. Shop Groceries Smartly</h3> <p>Don't let groceries be an afterthought. The average American family spends about <a href="">$6,443 per year on food</a>, which makes the average grocery run about $60. Are you getting the most out of your buck? Make it a habit to:</p> <ul> <li>Skip boxed mixes of anything: you save more by buying items individually;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check the clearance shelves for items;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Search for alternatives to expensive items (e.g. Pecori Romano and SarVecchio instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find out what times your favorite stores mark down products, especially the meat department.</li> </ul> <h2>Productivity</h2> <h3>14. Give More Speeches</h3> <p>The ability to communicate verbally with people is among the <a href="">top 10 skill employers seek.</a> Public speaking is a skill that is useful, no matter what job you pick up. So, start volunteering more often to give a toast, talk on behalf of your company, present a report to a client, or say grace before a family dinner.</p> <h3>15. Spend Less Time on Your Phone</h3> <p>The more time that you spend on your phone, the <a href="">more anxious and less happy</a> you feel. Both sensations make you less productive. While going an entire day without your cell make not make feel any better, using it less than usual will help you feel less anxious and more happy.</p> <ul> <li>Turn your phone to silent or completely off during meetings so that you can focus better.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Leave the phone in your car when heading to a lunch or dinner with clients that you have not seen in a long time.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Create an out of office email notice during weekends to reduce the need to check your inbox.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Engage in more face-to-face conversations.</li> </ul> <h3>16. Listen to Music the Right Way</h3> <ul> <li>Take advantage of the Mozart effect: <a href="">lower your blood pressure</a> and calm down by listening to classical music.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Boost your workout through power playlists cured by experts on <a href="">Spotify</a> and <a href="">Pandora</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Have a sharper focus with &quot;chillout music,&quot; such as most of <a href="">Brian Eno's work</a>.</li> </ul> <h3>17. Use the Two-Minute Rule</h3> <p>Multitasking can be detrimental to your productivity, except for a single exception. If a brand new task arrives to your desk and you're able to fully finish it in two minutes, then go ahead and do it. The rush of completing an action item so fast gives you a boost to get back on your to-do list for the day.</p> <h3>18. Exploit Your &quot;Golden Hour&quot;</h3> <p>Just like you have a &quot;witching hour,&quot; you also have a &quot;golden hour.&quot; This is the time that you are at your peak of concentration and are able to tackle the most difficult tasks with the greatest of ease. The great news are that most people have more than just one golden hour. Learn to identify your golden hours and protect them at all costs so that you can get the most done every day.</p> <h3>19. Delegate More</h3> <p>The easiest way to protect your golden hours is to delegate. You don't have to do everything by yourself. Learn to trust others because it makes everybody more productive and builds trust among members of any team.</p> <h3>20. Get Up Early</h3> <p><a href="">Productive people get up insanely early</a>. Get a DVR recorder and catch your shows during the weekend. By going early to bed and waking up before the competition, you will be on top of everything and find out that a day has more hours than you think. Join the early bird (and successful!) crowd, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.</p> <p><em>What are some other good habits that need to be in this list? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="20 Habits You Must Start Right Now and Be a Better Person" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development bad habits good habits habits self improvement Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1177365 at 11 Affordable Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-affordable-ways-to-stay-cool-in-the-summer-heat" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman cooling down" title="woman cooling down" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Summer's not over yet! For most, the arrival of this season marks the start of sweltering-hot weather. Not all of us can install expensive cooling systems in our homes, so here are a couple ways to beat the heat on the cheap.</p> <p>RELATED:&nbsp;<a href="">Get Crafty This Summer With 26 Simple DIYs</a></p> <h2>1. Cool Treats</h2> <p>Keep cool in the summer by indulging in icy treats and cold drinks. Indulging in an ice pop or cool beverage will help you feel cooler. FitSugar recommends some delicious <a href="">ice-cream alternatives</a> that will keep you cool and healthy!</p> <h2>2. DIY Air Conditioner</h2> <p>So you don't have an AC at home but you really want one. Did you know you could <a href="">DIY</a> your own for just $8? All you need is a styrofoam box, dryer vents, some ice, and a fan! Here are <a href="">the instructions</a>.</p> <h2>3. Wear Light Clothing</h2> <p>It's time to start packing your thick clothing and bring out clothes that fit loosely and are made of thinner and lighter material. Make sure what you're wearing is of a lighter hue so you'll be absorbing less sunlight.</p> <h2>4. Get a Thinner Blanket</h2> <p>Even though your fancy comforter matches the look of your bedroom perfectly,it's time to pack it away and get a lighter blanket that won't cause you to wake up in a sweat at night.</p> <h2>5. Purchase a Floor Fan</h2> <p>Fans are a cheaper alternative to pricey air-conditioning units. If you can't install ceiling fans in your home, check out floor fans that <a href="">start around $30</a> on Amazon.</p> <h2>6. Revise Your Summer 'Do</h2> <p>Cut your hair shorter or tie it up during those hot Summer days so that your hair isn't trapping the heat by your neck.</p> <h2>7. Open the Windows at Night</h2> <p>Circulate cool air at night by leaving your windows open. Avoid opening your windows during the day because you might be letting in warmer air, which may heat up your home.</p> <h2>8. Spray Down Walls and Roof</h2> <p>Spraying the walls and roof of your house with water can keep your home cool by cooling down the heated surfaces.</p> <h2>9. Keep Shades Closed If There's Sun</h2> <p>Keep your blinds or curtains closed if there's sun shining through. Pick blinds and curtains that are of a lighter color so they're reflecting heat and not absorbing it.</p> <h2>10. Reduce Use of Appliances</h2> <p>Using appliances like an oven or stove can heat up your home, so try to ease up on your use. Unplug appliances when not in use because they may be emitting heat.</p> <h2>11. Insulation</h2> <p>Better insulation not only keeps the heat in during the winter, but it also keeps the heat out during the summer &mdash; a win-win situation.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Summer&#039;s not over yet and there&#039;s still plenty of hot days to get through before Fall arrives. Stay cool with these simple, frugal ways to chill from POPSUGAR. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a style="border:none;" href=""><img style="height:95px; width:300px" src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">Get Off the Couch! 99 Free Things to Do Outside the Home</a></li> <li><a href="">14 Things You Forget to Do Before Leaving For Vacation</a></li> <li><a href="">Stay Bug-Free This Summer With These 9 Natural Solutions</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips cheap heat staying cool summer Wed, 06 Aug 2014 21:00:08 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 1167639 at 7 Weird Ways to Keep You and Your Stuff Safe <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-weird-ways-to-keep-you-and-your-stuff-safe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="anti-vandal paint" title="anti-vandal paint" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've got home security systems and car alarms and bike locks. Yet our belongings still get stolen from time to time. When the mainstream anti-theft devices just aren't cutting it, it may be time to get creative. (See also: <a href="">Can't Afford a Home Alarm System? You Probably Already Have One</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our roundup of the top seven outside-the-box things you can do to protect your assets.</p> <h2>1. Invest In Kidnap Insurance</h2> <p>So your beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed twenty-something is studying abroad in Colombia. And you're thrilled he's embarking on this eye-opening, cultural experience until you read that Colombia is a hot bed for kidnappings. We kid you not, one person was <a href="">kidnapped in Colombia on five</a> different occasions.</p> <p>What's a parent to do? You could put the kabosh on the trip and accept that you won't be receiving a Father of the Year Award &mdash; or you could purchase <a href="">kidnap insurance</a>. This type of highly unique travel insurance comes at a cost of several thousand dollars a year. Experts say the best plans cover not only a reward paid to informants who can provide tips that lead to an arrest, but also things like lost income, psychiatric expenses, and loss of fingers.</p> <p>Yes, we know, these aren't pleasant thoughts. The price tag isn't pleasant, either. But for journalists, business executives, and other frequent travelers, some form of kidnap and ransom protection may be a smart idea. A less expensive way to go about it is <a href="">The Executrac</a>, an app ($29.95 with a $19.95 monthly subscription) that turns any smartphone into a covert GPS tracker with a panic button.</p> <h2>2. Plan for Death When You Say, &quot;I Do&quot;</h2> <p>If you came to your end this very moment, what would happen to your family, your dog, your home, your internal organs, your online passcodes, and your social media accounts? Even if you're young and healthy, experts say it's all worth thinking about.</p> <p>Perhaps you want to commission <a href="">artwork made with your ashes</a> blended in paint. Or, like Michael Jackson, <a href="">maybe you want to leave $2 million to your pet chimpanzee</a> payable upon your death. Services like <a href="">Everplans</a> can help delineate such requests, starting with a free online personal will developer.</p> <p>The company's founders started creating the will developer as a young married couple concerned about the future. They recommend others start the process as soon as they begin to build their own family. It might seem premature, but the alternative to this kind of planning can be grim.</p> <h2>3. Channel Your Inner Kevin McCallister</h2> <p>When you'll stop at nothing to keep your belongings safe, it's time to implement the booby trap. The term was coined in 1850 and has been wreaking havoc on enemies, thieves, and otherwise unsuspecting victims ever since.</p> <p>In a modern day example, a Missouri homeowner fed up with pranksters driving their cars in his yard <a href="">buried a bed of nails in the ground</a> along the perimeter of his property. Tire tracks on the front lawn? Not on his watch.</p> <p>A word of warning: Some of these rigs can trigger police involvement, leading us to very cautiously recommend the booby trap, which is only sometimes legal. Please: be safe.</p> <h2>4. Paint It Neon</h2> <p>Investigators dealing with a rash of car battery thefts in Richmond County, Georgia two years ago recommended residents invest in a can of brightly colored paint. Car batteries &mdash; and other items whose value isn't tied to its outward appearance such as lawnmowers and construction equipment &mdash; can benefit from a coat of <a href="">high visibility paint that deters theft</a> and makes it easier for police to identify and return your item to you in the event that it does get stolen.</p> <h2>5. Make It Slippery</h2> <p>Got a problem with trespassers jumping the fence around your property? There's a paint for that. Aptly named <a href=";coatings/anti-graffiti-coatings/coo-var-anti-climb-paint&mdash;vandalene-/416">anti-vandal paint</a>, this slippery residue makes climbing near impossible when applied to fences, support beams, gutters, or gates. The paint, which can also be used to stop graffiti artists, is colorless, weather resistant, and <a href="">it never dries</a>.</p> <h2>6. Strap a GPS Tracker On It</h2> <p>If Spot has a tendency to roam, it's not a bad idea to consider investing in a dog collar with GPS tracking capabilities. Embedded with mini GPS units, these collars can <a href="">pinpoint your pet's exact location</a> should he stray from the yard. The <a href="">WhistleGPS</a> (preorder for $129) tracks not only your pet's location, but all of his activities in an easy-to-use app on your smartphone. The <a href=";qid=1406467661&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=garmin+gtu-10">Garmin GTU 10</a> ($200) allows the pet owner to configure up to 10 &quot;geofences.&quot; If your dog crosses the boundary, you get a warning emailed to your account. (See also: <a href="">Find Lost Keys Fast With a Teeny Tiny Tile</a>)</p> <p>Dog collars aren't the only things that come GPS-equipped. The list of things you can track using this advanced location technology is endless &mdash; <a href="">wallet</a>, <a href="">speed boat</a>, <a href="">luggage</a>. Kanye West, who is internationally known for taking things one step too far, allegedly installed a GPS tracker on Kim Kardashian's cell phone so he can <a href="">keep track of his wife</a>.</p> <h2>7. Hide It With Camouflage</h2> <p>If you live in a wooded area, you can quite easily use <a href="">camouflage paneling</a> to conceal your storage sheds, vehicles, and boats. You can also hide your home. Even if you don't live in the forest, you can camouflage your living quarters in other ways to blend in with the natural surroundings. There's a home in Atlantic Beach, Florida, for example, that's <a href="">built inside a sand dune</a>.</p> <p>Casa do Penedo in Portugal's Fafe Mountains is perhaps the ultimate example of covert housing. <a href="">The home is made of four giant boulders</a>, giving it a rugged aesthetic that would probably be pleasing to the likes of Barney and Betty Rubble. There's no electricity, but there is a swimming pool and living room fireplace. Not bad for a house made of nothing but rock, right?</p> <p><em>Ever heard of a crazy, creative way to keep things safe? Let us know in comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Weird Ways to Keep You and Your Stuff Safe" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living General Tips Insurance insurance protection safety security Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1175047 at