How To Know If You’re Being Paid What You’re Worth

It used to be taboo to talk about money, but there are lots of ways now to figure out what you should be getting paid. And if you aren’t getting paid what’s fair, we’ve listed some ideas to fix that.

While meritocracy — the idea that you achieve success through hard work — may be evident in previous generations, it doesn’t necessarily work that way anymore in the fast-paced corporate world. Sometimes people are paid unfairly, especially among different sexes, and skill development and education aren’t always equally rewarded. Given we spend such a large proportion of our lives (up to a third) working, it’s important to know your skill level and your worth so that you can keep ahead of the game when it comes to compensation. Plus, having your skills recognized builds self-esteem and confidence: two key elements that regulate our sense of well-being.

Here are three tips to ensure you’re being paid what you’re worth:

  • Subscribe to industry publications and websites: Not only can you keep up to date with advances in your industry, you can also check the job section to see what the market rate is for your role.
  • Speak to recruiters: While you may not be actively looking for a new job, it’s a smart move to keep an updated resume with a few recruiters. That way, if something that matches your skillset comes up, you’ll know what is available and how much you would be compensated.
  • Talk to peers and coaches: Networking within your industry cannot be underestimated. It’s helpful to know peers in your industry. You can share opportunities with one another, or honestly compare compensation and benefits.

Lending Money To Family

Nearly everyone has probably borrowed money from a family member at one time or another, but getting $20 to fill the gas tank is a far cry from asking for a loan to start a business or put a down payment on a house. Lending larger sums of money to a family member can be incredibly helpful to the borrower, but a defaulted loan has the potential to ruin relationships, so it’s wise to tread carefully when it comes to money and family.

These are a few things to keep in mind when you’re considering lending money to a loved one.

  • Don’t Skip the Paperwork: Even though you’re not a bank, creating a loan agreement is still a very good idea. There are loan contract templates online to get you started, but some basics to include are the amount lent, interest rate, and terms of repayment.
  • Not Building Credit: Young adults often need to borrow from their parents for big expenses (like buying a first home). It’s important to keep in mind, though, that while the interest rate on a family loan is likely to be low (or zero), it’s a loan that won’t help you establish or rebuild good credit.
  • Tax Implications: The IRS has established minimum interest rates, even on family loans. If you don’t charge any interest, the IRS considers that a gift—and monetary gifts are taxed differently. To avoid complications later, make sure you’re using the current federal loan rate and documenting the loan properly.

Top-Rated Smart Doorbells

With the proliferation of smart doorbells, it’s easier than ever to keep your home safe and secure. The number of doorbells with video capabilities has grown significantly, so options have expanded and you can choose based on your needs. Here are a few of the top-rated smart doorbell makers.

  • Arlo (arlo.com/en-us/doorbell) is a favorite among some reviewers for its ability to tell the difference between people, vehicles, package deliveries, and animals. This does require a $3 per month subscription, though.
  • Eufy (us.eufylife.com/collections/video-doorbell) makes both wired and wireless models and can also distinguish between people and animals with no monthly subscription fee. Video storage longer than 30 days does come with a $3 per month charge, however.
  • Ring (ring.com/doorbell-camera) has multiple models (including one for apartment peepholes) with wired and wireless options. Saving footage longer than 60 days requires a $3 per month subscription fee.

If video monitoring at your front door doesn’t feel like enough home security, note that most smart doorbell companies also make other devices that can all link together for a full in-home system. Devices range from cameras that you can install anywhere, security lights, a smart switch that will turn a light on indoors when motion is detected, to door locks you control with your phone.

Renovations You May Regret

Owning a home may feel like a green light to making it the house of your dreams. But, before you spend your hard-earned money, it’s important to keep in mind the bigger picture, especially if you intend to move to a different home in the next few years.

Here are a few tips to keep your projects focused and money-smart:

  • Try to avoid specializations: You may love a quirky bathroom or floor design, but it may make the future buyer of your home think twice. Instead, opt for neutral décor or something fun that is easily changed (think bright pink wall paint instead of bright pink sinks).
  • Go small: Rather than paint or wallpaper an entire room, why not go for a feature or accent wall? This will make redecoration easier for future buyers, and easy to change if YOU change your mind.
  • Plan for storage: When renovating kitchens and bathrooms, it’s important to keep in mind the need for storage. Future buyers may have children and need much more storage. More is usually better.
  • Avoid luxury items: It may be tempting to go for a custom-made marble countertop from Italy, however, that’s an expense you may not recoup when selling your home.

How To Find Your Design Style

Designing a room can feel overwhelming. But you don’t need to be an interior designer to have the room of your dreams. Here’s how to find your own design style and put it to work:

  • Download the Pinterest app (or web: www.pinterest.com) which is a social media platform that provides inspiration from interior design ideas to recipes. Simply search for room ideas and “pin” your favorite ideas onto your Pinterest board.
  • Look for inspiration at home: take a walk around your home and in your closet. Pick out your favorite pieces and before you know it, you’ll be able to identify trends in your design choices. Perhaps you go for neutral tones, mid-century modern furniture, or lots of texture. Or perhaps you’re more minimalist. Identifying trends will help narrow your style search.
  • Buy a design magazine and create a mood board: Check out your local store for interior design magazines. When you get home, go through the pages and cut out any images that stand out to you. Glue them onto large piece of cardboard and create a collage of your favorite design ideas.

There is no right or wrong way to find your design style. It will become second nature before you know it. As you practice, you’ll start to notice that you have an instant reaction to design ideas, and more pronounced likes and dislikes. Trust your instincts!

Make Your Self-Care Plan Work For You

Various studies show that many of us suffer from stress and anxiety, and more so during difficult times. Taking care of ourselves should be our number one priority, but somehow it often gets relegated further down our personal priority lists.

Here is how to build a self-care strategy that focuses on your mental and physical well-being, and also fits into the busiest schedules.

  1. Choose rituals and practices that are realistic for you. It’s all very well choosing the most stress-relieving practice there is, but if you can’t see yourself doing it, it won’t be something you keep up with. Before committing to any self-care activity, think about how realistic it is and if you would actually enjoy it and DO it. Plan from there.
  2. Plan out self-care. It is easier to stick to a self-care plan if you block out time in your schedule for a self-care or de-stressing activity. You don’t need 90 minutes for a yoga class; try starting small first. Block out 20 minutes to stretch at lunchtime, or 15 minutes to practice a meditation first thing in the morning before work.
  3. Be organized. While you can and should be flexible with your schedule as things change throughout your week, being organized about self-care can help you stay on track. Practice doing a certain activity on a certain day, or at a certain time during your day. Repeating that each week will encourage the practice to become a habit.
  4. Prioritize sleep. This self-care activity is a no-brainer, but it is often the one most under-utilized. Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night. Prioritizing sleep will help manage stress levels and can even help you maintain a healthier weight.
  5. Aim to exercise. Exercise improves sleep, reduces stress levels, and helps to keep you on track with your health goals. Experts advise getting around 150 minutes of exercise a week, which may feel like a lot, but it’s only around 20 minutes per day! Start with a walk around the block before bedtime and see how your sleep improves.

5 Signs You May Not Be Taking Care Of Yourself

Juggling the needs of work, family, and home often makes us forget the most important needs—our own. Rather than being selfish, self-care is critical. Without it, everything we’re juggling comes crashing down.

If you’re not taking adequate care of yourself, your body will let you know. You just have to be paying attention to what it says! Here are a few signals your body can send that indicate it’s time to recharge your own batteries. If you notice some of these symptoms, it’s best if you start by having a chat with your physician.

  • Increased Forgetfulness: Forgetting occasional things might be normal but walking around in a fog all day is a problem. This may be a sign of simply not getting enough sleep, but it’s good to consult your doctor in case it’s a sign of a hormone imbalance.
  • Constant Fatigue: Do you wake up in the morning feeling tired? That might be a sign of something like inadequate levels of iron or other vitamins, or even sleep apnea.
  • Skin Changes: Our largest organ, skin, shows signs of ill health that are hard to ignore. If your skin is unusually dry, it might mean your diet needs more fatty acids. And sudden breakouts could also be a sign of stress or poor diet.
  • Muscle Twitches: If you notice random twitches in your leg muscles even when you’re relaxing, it may not be so random. It may stem from a lack of magnesium in your system. A blood test by your doctor will be able to identify that.
  • Mood Swings: If you’re more stressed or irritable than you think you should be, this can be a sign that your cortisol levels are too high. Your doctor can order a cortisol test, and regular exercise and proper sleep can help lower cortisol if it’s too high.

Many low hormone or vitamin levels stem directly from an unhealthy diet, which means some of the issues listed above can be addressed with changed eating habits. Talk to your doctor about what you should be eating more of—and what to avoid—to feel healthier.

Check Yourself: Are You Humblebragging?

Although false modesty is by no means a new phenomenon, a new word for such behavior is: “humblebrag.” Bragging while acting like you aren’t bragging can make you seem insensitive, dishonest, or just plain arrogant—none of which are endearing qualities.

People who humblebrag may find their friends become less and less interested in being cheerleaders. Companies can engage in humblebragging, too, which can turn off loyal customers. And whether boasting is thinly disguised as self-criticism or not, braggarts are rarely our favorite people.

Here are a few things you can do to not be the humblebragger your friends or customers start to avoid.

  • Exercise transparency. Social media has trained us to present the veneer of perfection to the world, never mind how far that image is from reality. By sharing more of your real-life experiences (that includes your cooking disasters, anxious moments, and bad hair days) you become more authentic as a whole person others can relate to.
  • Strip down your statement to its simplest form. Before you hit send or post online, try to read your sentences without their colorful descriptions to get to the root of what you’re saying. “My diet is going so well that I don’t fit into my clothes anymore” can be boiled down to “I have lost a lot of weight,” and adding the faux complaint at the end makes it harder for others to share your excitement and may make them resent your success.
  • Celebrate success with humility. None of this means you shouldn’t celebrate your successes—quite the contrary! We are enthusiastic supporters of people we love, so long as they don’t make us feel like that enthusiasm is an obligation. If you’re surprised at winning an award, be straightforward and sincere. If you get praise for a work project, acknowledge and express gratitude toward those who helped you.

If you’re concerned that you won’t recognize your own humblebragging, try the “tone detector” on Grammarly (grammarly.com) to gain insight into how your writing might sound to others.

Healthy Snack Alternatives For Late-Night Cravings

It turns out that having a snack long after dinner isn’t inherently bad for you. What can be bad, however, is eating the wrong things just before bed.

A general rule of thumb is to choose snacks that are higher in protein or fiber rather than sugar and carbohydrates. Beyond that, though, we need something that is tasty and satisfying—or we’ll just keep snacking.

Here are a few healthier alternatives to what you might be craving late at night.

Instead of: Try this:
Potato chips or pretzels Pistachios, roasted pumpkin seeds: Salty and crunchy, and also packed with protein
Chewy
candies
Goji berries, tart cherries: Chewy and sweet, and also
nutritious superfoods
Ice cream Greek yogurt, protein smoothie: Cold and sweet, and
also has probiotics or protein
Sandwich Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, carrots with
hummus: Savory and filling, and also fiber and protein-rich
Chocolate Almond butter with banana or dates: Rich and sweet,
and also has fiber and healthy fats

You know your tastes best, so let your palate be your guide for the healthy goodies to keep handy in your kitchen.

Common Cleaning Mistakes

Doing the housework isn’t usually fun, but it’s even worse when you realize that some of your cleaning habits might actually be making your house dirtier! Here are some common cleaning mistakes you may be making—and how to fix them.

  • Scrubbing carpet stains: All that effort to scrub away a stain could make it spread more or even push it deeper into the fabric of the carpet. Blotting instead of rubbing is the better idea.
  • Using Magic Eraser on everything: Those white sponges make shiny surfaces (like countertops, wood floors, high gloss painted walls, and oven or microwave windows) look dull, not clean. 
  • Bleaching rust and mold stains: Bleach will actually make rust problems worse, since rust requires oxidation and that’s exactly what bleach does. Bleach also makes mold look like it’s gone when it’s not, a deception that can be toxic. Use a product like Bar Keepers Friend on rust and simple hydrogen peroxide on mold (or call a professional).
  • Not cleaning the cleaning tools: It’s crucial to periodically clean the tools you use to ensure that they’re not simply depositing yesterday’s grime onto today’s surfaces. Wash your sponge or dishcloth at least once a week. Make sure the toilet brush is dry before you put it away. And clean the vacuum’s filter when you empty the canister.