Posts tagged "adulthood"

How to take care of your skin

One of the saddest facts of being a grown-up is facing the slow decline of your aging body and mind. At a certain point around your mid-twenties, everything starts requiring a lot more maintenance than it did when you were younger. A real grown-up faces up to this inevitability and steps up their game so their body can last for the long haul. 

There are a lot of reasons to take care of your skin that don’t make you seem vain or vapid. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to academic sources cited on skincancer.org, more than 90% of the “visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging” are actually caused by sun damage. 

Use sunscreen every goddamn day of your life.

If you leave your house, or even sit near a window, you should be wearing sunscreen. If you’re out in the sun for any length of time, you should reapply your sunscreen layer. Keep a travel-size bottle of sunscreen in your purse or your messenger bag or your car’s glovebox. Throw a sunscreen wipe into your wallet if you’re not bringing a bag with you. Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach, or for camping, or for glorious hot summer days. Sunscreen is for every day of your life, forever, because it will save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of agony to not have to go through treatment for skin cancer somewhere down the line. 

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It’s easy to work sunscreen into your normal skincare routine. (Oh, you don’t have a skincare routine? What kind of grown-up are you? Keep reading.) Just buy a moisturizer with sunscreen in it, or buy a booster that you can mix in with your regular moisturizer to add SPF.

Aside from sunscreen, you can do a few other simple things to keep your skin in good shape. The skin on your face is different from the skin on your body, and acne or severe skin ailments like eczema should be addressed with a good dermatologist, so the following advice should be applied sensibly by people with normal, healthy skin. 

Face Care Routine

1. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. 

2. Follow that up with a good-quality moisturizer. In the morning, use a moisturizer with SPF. Use a heavier moisturizer for before-bed or in winter. 

3. If you’re prone to clogged pores, use a gentle exfoliant twice a week around your nose, chin, and forehead.

4. You should use a good-quality eye cream around your eye area. If you’re a little vain and worried about signs of aging, you can ask a dermatologist for a retinoid cream like Renova if you want to go that route. 

5. For men, we’ll probably have a detailed post on how to shave like an adult at some point (pinging nickd), but a grown-up who grows hair on his face should shave that face regularly, or at least maintain whatever facial hair you’ve chosen to keep. Facial shaving like a grown-up involves a lot more than your disposable Bic razor.

General Skin Care Routine

1. Moisturizer & Sunscreen. Seriously, that’s it. You should moisturize your skin when it feels dry or after you shave. I just use straight-up coconut oil for everything except my face, but you should use whatever works for you. 

2. Use exfoliants sparingly. It’s easy to buy into the marketing and sense of “pampering yourself” that a lot of spa products give you, but skin exfoliants can be really harsh and shouldn’t be used too often. Same thing for facial masks, or any of these other crap products that smell great but aren’t really necessary.

3. Drink a lot of water. Drink a ton of water. Drink water, all day long. Staying hydrated will make your skin look and feel better than any overpriced product ever could.

4. If you live in a climate with harsh winters, you’ll probably need a good, thick hand cream to slather on when the wind chaps your knuckles. I like Lush’s Handy Gurugu, but anything that has at least the thickness of cream cheese going on your hands will probably suffice.

How to get to bed at a reasonable hour

My friend @naxuu has problems getting to sleep at a reasonable hour because he is tempted to spend more time on the internet late at night. I know he does this because I’ve seen his 3am Weird Twitter musings, and also because when we told him about this blog, he said:

Okay, pal, we’ve got you covered. Note that this advice is not really for people with insomnia or trouble sleeping, but more for anyone who has discipline issues with enforcing their own bedtimes. Self-discipline is a grown-up skill that we can teach.

Step 1. Figure out your reasonable bed-time. Some people need 8 hours of sleep to fully function in the morning. Other people feel like crap if they sleep a full 8 hours and find that 6-7 is better for their productivity. Trial and error and keeping a sleep log for a few weeks can help you find your sweet spot. Once you know how long you need to sleep, count backwards from your normal wake-up time to figure out Optimal Bedtime. For example, I’m ridiculous and sleep best when I have 7 hours of sleep, but know that it can take me up to an hour to fall asleep, so my Optimal Bedtime is (6:15am wakeup - 8 hours =) 10:15pm. You will almost never find me out and about and out of bed past 10:15pm on any night I need to wake up for work the next morning.

Step 2. Set three daily alarms on your smartphone or computer or whatever. Set one for your regular wake-up time (or a bit earlier, if you are a snooze addict like me). Set one for your bedtime. Set one for one hour before your bedtime. 

Step 3. When your one-hour warning alarm goes off, get off the internet. Set your smartphone aside and turn off your notifications or set it to Do Not Disturb or whatever your preferred “leave me alone” tactic is. The idea here is that you don’t want to even know that people are still talking to you on Twitter or sending you emails. If you’re in the middle of an internet k-hole, just leave your browser open so you can fall back into it tomorrow if you want to. You don’t need to wrap up your internet loose ends before going back to sleep, because the whole internet will still be there for you in the morning.

Step 4. Chill out and relax. The last hour before bedtime is all yours to do your relaxing thing. If you’re feeling a little jumpy and know you’ll have trouble sleeping, use the last hour for meditation/relaxation/progressive muscle relaxation. My personal routine is to lock all my apartment doors and turn out lights in any other rooms, wash my face, brush my teeth, moisturize, change into sleep clothes or a robe, brush my hair, drink a bunch of water and put a water glass next to my bed, and get into bed with a boring book. Sometimes I’ll practice yoga breathing or something to relax me if I feel like I need it, but most of the time, being in a comfortable bed with clean sheets and all my bedtime stuff set to go is enough to knock me out pretty quickly. If it’s not…

Step 5. When the bedtime alarm goes off, go to sleep. Turn out your lights, put down your book. If Step 4 worked, you’ll already be sleepy. If not, do whatever you need to do to get to sleep now so you don’t feel like crap tomorrow. Possible options here include but are not limited to: masturbating, sedatives, breathing and meditation exercises, progressive relaxation techniques, etc. We don’t need to know.

How to use a bank that doesn’t suck

(Hi, I’m Kaitlyn. I was born in 1984, but I have been a grown-up since I got my first checking account in 2002, the year I started college and started signing up for the mountain of student debt I am currently repaying. I haven’t paid any fees or interest to my bank or credit cards since 2010.)

I have transacted with a lot of shitty banks, all so I can tell you they are shitty so you don’t have to find out for yourself. Shitty banks include: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, Chase, Union Bank, and almost every other big bank company (RIP WaMu). Shitty banks charge you fees for almost everything. I prefer not to pay fees to banks, and I also prefer maximum convenience and not having to take time to go to an actual bank, so I have created a Bank System for Grown-Ups that works for me.

My primary bank is USAA, where I have a free checking account and a free savings account. USAA is some sort of special company designed for families with US military affiliations, but their free checking and free savings accounts are available to anyone. You probably don’t live anywhere near a USAA branch, so if you want to bank with them, you’ll have to conduct your business with them online or through the mail. This is totally fine and worthwhile because USAA offers free online bill pay, assesses no fees for their “free checking” and “free savings” accounts (unlike many other banks, where free only equals free if you have direct deposit or fulfill some other fine-print criteria), and reimburses ATM fees for any ATM you use anywhere in the world. I hate paying ATM fees and I hate hunting around for an ATM from “my” bank, so this works really well for me.

"Online Bill Pay" means that you can make payments directly to certain accounts, or you can tell USAA to just mail a check to whoever you need to pay. I use this to save postage and save myself the boring check-writing and letter-writing when I need to mail a check to say, my mom, or my landlord, or whoever else I owe money. I put in my landlady’s address and tell USAA I want the check for my rent to get to her before the 1st every month, so I never have to worry about paying my rent on time. USAA also has the benefit of employing some of the *nicest* customer service people I’ve ever dealt with. 

Just like anything else in the world of being a grown-up, there are drawbacks and nothing is as simple as it seems. USAA’s free non-military-person checking accounts don’t allow you to use their online billpay system. You can mail check deposits, but that takes several days and you have to remember to mail a thing, which is kind of a pain. So, I also use a second bank, which is the Fancy Internet Bank Called Simple. I like Simple, but because of the ATM issue it will never be my primary bank. I link my Simple account with my USAA accounts, use Simple for mobile deposit, and just transfer funds back and forth as needed. I also use Simple as my PayPal-linked account, because my husband and I have a joint checking account which is linked to *his* Paypal account, and any given checking account can only be linked to one PayPal account because PayPal is stupid.

If you think having two banks is complicated enough to make you a real grown-up, think again. You still have to worry about foreign transaction fees if you like buying things from foreign countries over the internet, or better yet, going on lavish international vacations like real grown-ups do. If you’re responsible with money and know how to pay your bills on time (I’m sure we’ll have a post on how to do that someday), you could consider getting a CapitalOne credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Maybe you’d also like another kind of credit card that offers cashback rewards or airline miles too, but that’s a discussion for another day.

I use Mint to keep track of 3 bank accounts, 5 credit cards, 2 student loans, 4 retirement accounts, and 1 brokerage account. I use 1Password to keep track of logins, because smart people don’t use the same password for all their financial stuff and a good password is one you can’t even remember.

How to have renters’ insurance

(Welcome to this blog about being an adult! I am Erin and I have been an adult for, like, six years, counting from when I graduated college.)

I bought some renters’ insurance after my bike got stolen in 2009. When your bike gets stolen, you can go to the police station and give them the serial number, and then they thank you politely and tell you there is probably nothing they can do, since stolen bikes almost never get recovered. Then they will admonish you that you should have renters’ insurance. I am admonishing you so the police don’t have to! Renters’ insurance will reimburse you for your stolen bike after you pay your deductible! It doesn’t even have to be stolen from your house; when I signed up for my policy, they told me it would cover property loss anywhere in the US. It costs me $176 a year, which is, like, two beers plus tip per month if you’re drinking fancy beers in bars.

I’m writing this now because I just had to make a claim on my renters’ insurance for the first time this week: my fiancé’s laptop got stolen. I just had to put in some information in State Farm’s website: the date of the theft, the address where it occurred, and any other people who were affected in the same incident. Within the hour someone called Nick back about it, and within the week a check was in the mail for the price of the laptop minus the $500 deductible.

Some other things my renters’ insurance covers: up to $16,000 worth of personal property (which is, like, more than everything I own put together, even my stupid record collection), $300,000 worth of personal liability (which is, like, if someone sued me for a thing), and $1,000 worth of identity theft (which also means that someone from State Farm will deal with all the bureaucratic folderol if my identity gets thieved, which is basically worth $1,000 to me anyway because I hate that shit).

I don’t want this to be a State Farm ad, because like all corporations they are probably at least a little evil, but so far so good as far as my renters’ insurance experience with them goes. I also hear good things about USAA’s insurance, but you have to be the spouse or child of a military service member to qualify for that.

Anyway, you can get a quote from State Farm here, or from USAA here, or from American Family here. I went to an actual insurance broker’s office and they were very helpful at explaining what everything was and why it cost what it did, so I’d recommend that if you prefer human contact to the chilly embrace of websites.

Edited to add: grownup friend and excellent cello-man Gordon notes that you can get extra coverage for very expensive things you might own (like, say, a musical instrument? maybe a cello?) with no deductible and a small additional cost.