10 Vital Life Hacks No One Tells You

Monday, November 13, 2017

One of the things I'm known for is giving raw and real advice.  I will tell you things you should know or consider even if they make you uncomfortable.  This blog is no different which is why today I'm giving some of most important advice you'll ever read.  Sure I could tell you ways to get a stain out of your shirt or how to keep your cupboards organized but that's not as crucial as what I'm about to tell you.  

The advice I'm giving here today is advice that some of you may end up using or maybe you're lucky and you'll never have to deal with some of it. It's stuff that makes some of the crappiest situations in life more manageable.   Call me morbid, call me paranoid, call me whatever but make sure you also call me prepared.  When chaos strikes, we can't always think straight so that's why it's so important to handle certain things before chaos ever hits.

||1|| You NEED a Living Will
I did a post before on my own living will and why everyone should have one. You can read that post here. A living will isn't your final will - it's literally instructions for what to do and who can make the decisions for you if you are ever in a permanent vegetative state.  We joke all the time about "just pull the plug on me" but actually, you can't just go and do that because "my friend told me that's what he wanted."   A living will is all of YOUR wishes for your health and care if something horrific happens to you. You can specify what you want donated from your body, who you want to make the decisions, what you want done with your remains, and even what specific life saving measures you do or don't want.  You may think it won't happen to you because you're young but guess what - people can die at any age.  Whenever the Las Vegas shooting occurred people seemed to start realizing "Wow, that really could have been me because I attend concerts." Yeah, no kidding, so do your loved ones a favor and make a living will.  You can write one up on RocketLawyer for about $20.  It's a horrible thing to leave a loved one with a difficult decisions.  They can't think straight when they're already in shock.  But a living will gives them your specific instructions.   And once you make one on RocketLawyer you can update it for free if you ever want to change anything.

||2|| You NEED a Final Will
Another line I despise is when someone says "Oh, my mom is my beneficiary, she'll make sure you my family has enough money to keep the house."   Death and grief change people and affect them in very weird ways.   Maybe your beneficiary for your life insurance is your parents but you've been married for a year or so now and you have a kid and a house together.  When you die, at whatever age, the money goes to your beneficiary and it's up to them who they want to give it to.  This causes fights and frustration and it's not a very nice thing to leave behind for your loved ones.  Make a will on RocketLawyer.  Update your beneficiaries for your life insurance and retirement or investment accounts as well.  In your regular will you can leave directions for funeral plans, what you want done with certain property (maybe you want to donate your car to a sibling), and you can even specify your pets. I even have a clause that a certain amount of money from my estate should be given to the person I leave my dogs too so that they can cover vet care for them.  Sure, it seems morbid and weird but we are NOT invincible.  Anything can happen to us at any time. Leave your loved ones with less work.  Do the work now so they don't have to fight to figure things out later. And just like the living will, you can also update your regular will for free on the RocketLawyer website after you spend the initial fee to create one, which is around $20.

||3|| Emergency Contact Information
I'm not just talking about the form you have to fill out for your employer, although that's very important to keep updated.  No, for the emergency contact information I'm thinking of, it's a way to identify you at all times, even when you leave your house to go on a jog. If you're someone that likes hiking, biking, running, or just going out and about you should ALWAYS have a form of identification on you so at least consider something like ROAD iD.  God forbid something happens to you, you can be easily identified and your next of kin can be contacted.   Also - I'm not sure about other phones but the iPhone has an ICE feature that can even be accessed on the lock screen.  That way if someone finds your phone they can at least access your emergency contact to let them know your phone was found.  But not only that, once again if something happens to you and you're not in a state to identify yourself, help can be called thanks to the ICE feature.

||4|| Personal Safety is ALWAYS a Priority
There are so many tips I could give you for personal safety so I'm going to give you my favorites.  Pepper spray is great if you can get to in time and you're absolutely positive someone's following you with the intent to harm.  Otherwise, most of us probably will sit there and second guess it in our heads, thinking we're just being paranoid.  That's why having a Personal Alarm on your keychain is a great idea. Women On Guard has plenty of personal alarms to choose from but basically when you activate the button it will release a long, obnoxious shrill that should make anyone around you run and also notify anyone else that they should look in your direction. 
Of course if you're like me you will most likely accidentally hit the button while you're at your desk at work and embarrass yourself.  So there's a really great app that is great for runners but also great for anyone in any kind of weird situation.  Maybe you feel like you're being followed but you're not sure. You're heading to your car from your job and it's dark out already.   One of the apps is SafeTrek which lets you open the app and hold down a button, if you release the button (say the person behind you starts running after you) it automatically notifies police and they can see your location. Here's a post with some other apps. Some of them can even record video and audio of what's going on that way if you are attacked it's all being recorded and can even be sent directly to emergency dispatch.  

||5|| Know What To Do in an Active Shooter Situation
No, I'm not trying to scare you.  And yes, it can happen. We are way too cocky about this stuff thinking it won't ever happen to us.  Here's the thing, an active shooter situation could happen in a store, in your neighborhood, at work, or even on the road.  Everyone always says "Yeah, I would just hide or attack the guy." No, you won't.  You need to read up on what to do - watch the video too.  Because when sh*t goes down, your brain doesn't know the answers unless you've gone over it in your head a few times. 

Years ago I attended an Active Shooter training where I took notes and wrote a blog post and included important links and videos. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take 10 minutes to read my Active Shooter post.   It could save your life.

And since I care so much about your safety, if you don't feel like reading my post that's okay - just watch the Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter video on YouTube above.

||6|| Using Someone's Clothing When They Pass
Yes, that sounds morbid but let me explain.  There are 2 parts to this.  When someone close to us passes away one thing we usually miss or at least recognize is their scent.   The first thing I did when my best friend passed away was I took some of her clothing her mom gave me and I put it in plastic bags and then inside a sealed plastic storage bin.  That was 8 years ago.  To this day, when I open it, I can smell her. It's a nice way or preserving that memory.

The other part of this is something that will make you smile, I promise.   You can actually have your loved ones clothing made into a quilt.  Project Repat is who I used when I did this blog post. They did an amazing job and whenever I really miss Nikki I just snuggle with my blanket and I feel so close to her.  You're welcome in advance.  

||7|| Preserving Your Pet's Prints
This is something you should do long before you ever lose your pet.  You can look for kits online to make little plasters of their paw prints and nose prints. You can even get paw print and nose print jewelry.  Or you can make their paw prints with ink and then get them tattooed on you. It's a great way to memorialize your precious fur babies.   I got my dogs' paw prints tattooed on me years ago.

||8|| BACK IT UP!

Seriously you can cut SO much stress out of your life if you just simply purchase an external hard drive. Yes, I know we have the cloud, but then you have to set up how you want stuff transferred over and you are probably afraid that everybody can see your stuff. I have a $50 external hard drive and every week I back up my entire computer system to it and I even sync my entire MacBook (settings and all) once a week. My iPhone gets backed up to the cloud each time I plug it in at home to charge. Set your phone up so it does this. If you have an iPhone, go into settings and set up the cloud. If you get a new phone, you can actually have it set up so that everything on your old one pops right back up where you last left it before you synced it with the cloud. And as for the external hard drive, I like doing this because I know that if something ever happens I can grab it and run out of the house. I keep all of my photos and everything on it. I also have them on my laptop but of course if one of the two gets screwed up there's still hope. Set a day of the week to be your back up day so that you are never caught answer the "When did you last back your computer up?" question with "Not recently enough".

||9|| Take A Home Inventory
This seems like a daunting task but guess what, it's not.   Whether you use a polaroid, a digital camera, or your phone, take photographs every year of every room of your house as well as each closet and your jewelry items and other valuables.  If you have a fire proof safe, feel free to print those photos and keep them in there or put them on a storage drive in there. If you ever get robbed, you lose your home to natural disaster, or anything of that sort it will be so MUCH LESS stress on you when the insurance companies ask for an inventory.  Maybe you can't see each and every article of clothing in your closet in the pics but it should help and you at least have an idea of how many items you have.   Over 10 years ago, my parents home was burglarized and the worst part was that we had to list every item and the brand to the insurance company IF we wanted compensation.  Ladies - trust me! If you have a jewelry box, open each drawer and make sure everything's facing up and snap those photos.

||10|| Protect Important Documents
Everyone should have a fireproof, waterproof safe or lock box. You can get one at Walmart for no more than $20.  If you're worried about someone stealing the safe itself then you may want to invest in a bigger one or even one that doesn't look like a safe or lock box.   In it you should keep things like checkbooks, credit cards, birth certificates, homeowner's insurance policy, living will, regular will, marriage certificate, social security card, home inventory, and anything else that you would want to keep safe from a natural disaster or an unwelcome guest in your home.  It's also a good idea to give someone the code to it (someone you can trust obviously) in case something happens to you and they need to get your documents.

So there you have it - some of the most crucial life hacks that people probably won't remind you about like they do those other insignificant ones.   If you have anything to add let me know in the comments below or if you can vouch for any of these let me know that as well!

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