7 Things to Do After College Besides Work

Numerous college students have a trajectory in mind for navigating life after college. For some, getting a job is their top goal. But, are there other things to do after college besides work?

Beyond looking for a traditional entry-level job, there are alternative choices for new grads—including internships, volunteering, grad school, spending time abroad, or serving in Americorps.

Naturally, the options available will differ depending on each person’s situation, as not all alternatives to work come with a paycheck attached.

Here’s a look at these seven things to do after college besides work.

1. Pursuing Internships

One popular alternative to working right after college is finding an internship. Generally, internships are temporary work opportunities, which are sometimes, but not always, paid.

Internships may give recent grads a chance to build up hands-on experience in a field or industry they believe they’re interested in working in full time. For some people, it could help determine whether the reality of working in a given sector meets their expectations.

Whatever grads learn during an internship, having on-the-job experience (even for those who opt to pursue a different career path) could make a job seeker stand out afterwards. Internships can help beef up a resume, especially for recent grads who don’t have much formal job experience.

A potential perk of internships is the chance to further grow your professional network—building relationships with more experienced workers in a particular department or job. Some interns may even be able to turn their short-term internship roles into a full-time position at the same company.

Starting out in an internship can be a great way for graduates to enter the workforce, “road testing” a specific job role or company.

2. Serving with AmeriCorps

Some graduates want to spend their time after college contributing to the greater good of American society. One possible option here is the Americorps program—supported by the US Federal Government.

So, what exactly is Americorps? Americorps is a national service program dedicated to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. There are three main programs that graduates can join in AmeriCorps: AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps State and National, and AmeriCorps Vista.

There’s a wide variety of options in AmeriCorps, when it comes to how you can serve. Graduates can work in emergency management, help fight poverty, or work in a classroom.

However graduates decide to serve through AmeriCorps, it may provide them with a rewarding professional experience and insights into a potential career.

Practically, Americorps members may also qualify for benefits such as student loan deferment, a living allowance, education awards (upon finishing their service), and skills training.

It may sound a bit dramatic, but AmeriCorps’ slogan is “Be the greater good.” Giving back to society could be a powerful way to spend some time after graduating—supporting organizations in need, while also establishing new professional connections.

3. Attending Grad School

When entering the workforce, graduates may encounter job postings with detailed employment requirements.

Some jobs require just a Bachelor’s degree, while others require a Master’s–think, for instance, of being a lawyer or medical doctor. Depending on their field of study and career goals, some students may opt to go right to graduate school after receiving their undergraduate degrees.

The number of jobs that expect graduate degrees is increasing in the US. Graduates might want to research their desired career fields and see if it’s common for people in these roles to need a master’s or terminal degree.

Some students may wish to take a break in between undergrad and grad school, while others find it easier to go straight through. This choice will vary from student to student, depending on the energy they have to continue school as well as their financial ability to attend graduate school.

Graduate school will be a commitment of time, energy and money. So, it’s advisable that students feel confident that a graduate degree is necessary for the line of work they’d like to end up in before they apply or enroll.

4. Volunteering for a Cause

Volunteering could be a great way for graduates to gain some extra skills before applying for a full-time job. Doing volunteer work may help graduates polish some essential soft skills, like interpersonal communication, interacting with clients or service recipients, and time management.

Another potential benefit to volunteering is the ability to network and forge new connections outside of college. The people-to-people connections made while volunteering could lead to mentorship and job offers.

Volunteering is something graduates can do after college besides work, while still fleshing out their resume or skills.

New grads may want to volunteer at an institution or organization that syncs with their values or, perhaps, pursue opportunities in sectors of the economy where they’d like to work later on (i.e., at a hospital).

On top of all these potential plus sides, volunteering just feels good. It makes people feel happier. And, after all of the stress that accompanies finishing up college, volunteering afterward could be the perfect way to recharge.

5. Serving Abroad

Similar to the last option, volunteering abroad can be attractive to some graduates. It may help grads gain similar skills they’d learn volunteering here at home, while also giving them the opportunity to learn how to interact with people from different cultures, try to learn a new language, and see new perspectives on solving problems.

Though it can be beneficial to the volunteers, volunteering abroad isn’t always as ethical as it seems. And, not all volunteering opportunities always benefit the local community.

It could take research to find organizations that are doing ethically responsible work abroad. One key thing to look for is organizations that put the locals first and have them directly involved in the work.

6. Taking a Gap Year

According to the Gap Year Association , a gap year is “a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.”

While a gap year is generally taken after high school or after college, one common purpose of the gap year is to take the time to learn more about oneself and the world at large—which can be beneficial after graduating from college and trying to figure out what to do next.

Not only might a gap year help grads build insights into what they’d like to do with their later careers, it may also help them home in on a greater purpose in life or build connections that could lead to future job opportunities.

Graduates might want to spend a gap year doing a variety of activities—including:

•   trying out seasonal jobs
•   volunteering
•   interning
•   teaching or tutoring
•   traveling

A gap year can be whatever the graduate thinks will be most beneficial for them.

7. Traveling Before Working

Going on a trip after graduation is a popular choice for graduates that can afford to travel after college. Traveling can be expensive, so graduates may want to budget in advance (if they want to have this experience post-graduation.

On top of just being really fun, travel can have beneficial impacts for an individual’s stress levels and mental health. Research from Cornell University published in 2014 suggests that the anticipation of planning a trip might have the potential to increase happiness.

Traveling after graduation is a convenient time to start ticking locations off that bucket list, because graduates won’t be held back by a limited vacation time. Going abroad before working can give students more time and flexibility to travel as much as they’d like (and can afford to!).

With proper research, graduates can find more affordable ways to travel—such as a multi-country rail pass, etc. It doesn’t have to be all luxury all the time. Budget travel is possible especially when making conscious decisions, like staying in hostels and using public transportation.

If graduates are determined to travel before working, they can accomplish this by saving money and budgeting well.

Navigating Post Graduation Decisions

Whether a recent grad opt to start their careers off right away or to pursue one of the above-mentioned things to do after college besides work, student loans are something that millions of university students have taken out.

After graduating (or if you’ve dropped below half-time enrollment or left school), the reality of paying back student loans sets in. The exact moment that grads will have to begin paying off their student loans will vary by the type of loan.

For federal loans, there are a couple of different times that repayment begins. Students who took out a Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, or Federal Family Education Loan, will all have a six month grace period before they’re required to make payments. Students who took out a Perkins loan will have a nine month grace period.

When it comes to the PLUS loan, it depends on the type of student that’s taken one out. Undergraduates will be required to start repayment as soon as the loan is paid out. Graduate and professional students with PLUS loans will be on automatic deferment while they’re in school and up to six months after graduating.

Some graduates opt to refinance their student loans. What does that mean? Well, refinancing student loans is when a lender pays off the existing loan with another loan that has a new interest rate. Refinancing can potentially lower monthly loan repayments or reduce the amount spent on interest over the life of the loan.

Both US federal and private student loans can be refinanced, but when federal student loans are refinanced by a private lender, the borrower forfeits guaranteed federal benefits—including loan forgiveness, deferment and forbearance, and income-driven repayment options.

Refinancing student loans may reduce money paid to interest. For graduates who have secured well-paying jobs and have improved their credit score since taking out their student loan, refinancing could come with a competitive interest rate and different repayment terms.

Graduating from college means officially entering the realm of adulthood, but that transition can take many forms. There are various financial tips that recent graduates may opt to look into.

Thinking about refinancing your student loans? With SoFi, you could get prequalified in just two minutes.



External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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The Ultimate College Senior Checklist

Earning a college degree is no easy feat. Think countless late-night cram sessions, tedious loan applications, heavy textbooks to haul around. For some college seniors, June cannot come fast enough, and it’s understandable why senioritis kicks in. That said, there’s still a lot of important work to do before crossing that graduation stage.

From jumping through the logistical hoops of making it to graduation day to launching a job search and addressing student loan payments, there are a lot of important pre-graduation to-do’s that may require prompt attention.

Here’s a comprehensive checklist that will help college seniors be prepared to graduate and enter the working world.

Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s

Ideally, before senior year begins (or sooner for those planning to graduate early), students should meet with their guidance counselor to make sure they have all of their ducks in a row in order to graduate. Switching majors, studying abroad, or misunderstanding degree requirements can lead to confusion about which classes must be taken to graduate.

Before setting a class schedule for the year, it can’t hurt to double-check with a college counselor that all requirements are being met. Some schools even have a certain amount of community service or chapel hours required in order to graduate, so again, it’s smart to confirm that everything is moving along as it should be.

Preparing for the graduation ceremony needs to be done in advance. Colleges and universities often require students to apply to graduate and register their planned attendance at the ceremony well ahead of the actual day.

To streamline the process, many schools have grad fairs where students can pick up their commencement tickets; buy a cap and gown, class rings and commencement announcements; and ask questions about the logistics of graduation day.

Transcripts can come in handy when applying for jobs and graduate school programs, so picking up a few copies while still on campus can save time down the road. And don’t forget to turn in those library books! No one will want to trek back to campus after graduation to pay late fees.

Getting a Jumpstart on a Job Search

It’s no secret that college graduates flood the job market each June, so getting ahead of the pack can make job searching a little easier. Applying for jobs earlier in the spring can lessen the competition and give seniors confidence that they have a job lined up when they graduate.

If launching a full-blown job search during school isn’t possible, college seniors can at least take steps toward preparing for the job search.

Stop by the career center and see what resources it can provide. Schools have a career center for a reason! Most are ready to help students prepare their resumes and perfect their cover letters, and they typically have job postings from companies looking to hire recent graduates.

Some career centers may offer mock interviews so students can hone those skills, or they may provide support when issues arise during a job search. Popping by between classes to see what services are offered will only take a few minutes.

At the very least, college seniors can poke around online job boards and research local companies to see what opportunities are out there.

Making Connections

As a student, it may feel like having a professional network is unattainable, but many build one while in school without realizing it. One easy way to get a head start on a job search, without doing too much work during a hectic final year of school, is to focus on building relationships and requesting references.

Professors, employers, and intern supervisors can all provide references that can strengthen a job search. Finding that first job out of college can be tricky, when resumes are on the shorter side, so a handful of strong references can make all the difference.

While requesting references, college seniors should tell their connections what career path they’re hoping to pursue. One never knows where the next opportunity might come from.

Paying Back Student Loans

Preparing to navigate life after college can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to finances. No one wants to think about student loan payments, but it can be helpful to start making repayment plans before graduation day.

Try beginning the planning process by simply looking up the current balance for each student loan held, including both federal and private loans. Then note when the grace period ends for each loan and when the lender expects payment. It’s important to plan to make loan payments on time each month, as that can boost a credit score.

Lenders usually provide repayment information during the grace period, including repayment options. Many federal student loans qualify for a minimum of one income-driven or income-based repayment plan.

Federal student loans may qualify for a variety of repayment plans, such as the Standard Repayment Plan, Graduated Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plans, Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan, Income-Based Repayment Plan, Income-Contingent Repayment Plan, and Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan. It is important to carefully research each payment plan before choosing one.

For private student loan repayment, it is best to speak directly with the loan originator about repayment options. Many private student loans require payments while the borrower is still in school, but some offer deferred repayment. After the grace period, the borrower will have to make principal and interest payments. Some lenders offer repayment programs with budget flexibility.

Whether students or their parents chose to take out federal or private student loans (or both), reviewing all possible repayment plan options can provide choices. And who doesn’t like choices?

One Loan, One Monthly Payment

Some graduates may want to consider refinancing or consolidating their student debt.

Borrowers who have federal student loans may qualify for a Direct Consolidation Loan after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment.

Consolidating multiple federal loans into one allows borrowers to make just one loan payment each month. In some cases, the repayment schedule may be extended, resulting in lower payments, after consolidating (but increasing the period of time to repay loans usually means making more payments and paying more total interest).

Refinancing allows the borrower to convert multiple loans—federal and/or private—into one new private loan with a new interest rate, repayment term, and monthly payment. The goal is a lower interest rate. (It’s worth noting that refinancing a federal loan into a private loan can lead to losing benefits only available through federal lenders, such as public service forgiveness and economic hardship programs.)

Refinancing can be a good solution for working graduates who have high-interest, unsubsidized Direct Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and/or private loans.

If that sounds like a good fit, SoFi offers student loan refinancing with zero origination fees or prepayment penalties. Getting prequalified online is quick and easy.

Learn more about SoFi Student Loan Refinancing options and benefits.



SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Source: sofi.com

18 Simple Storage Tips for Small Apartments

The average U.S. household has 300,000 things in it.

From the tiniest thumbtack to each book on your shelf and every piece of clothing hanging in your closet, there’s a lot of stuff to keep organized. It’s even more daunting if you’re bringing it all into a smaller apartment.

Many people tend to look at a smaller home and see what’s missing — space. Yet, fewer closets and less built-in storage doesn’t mean you’re missing out on somewhere to put your stuff.

If you’re smart with your furniture choices, color picks and organizational tactics, every corner of a small space can become a “beloved spot.”

Cut the clutter

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When working with a smaller living space, your goal, according to Michelle Crouch writing for Reader’s Digest, should be to remove clutter not create more storage space. Clutter can manifest as items you want to keep, but not display, as well as things that you no longer need.

Certain keepsakes you want to hold onto can spend some time in a storage unit until you have a larger home. Paper records, greeting cards, mementos from special events (that aren’t that special anymore) and old letters from past relationships are all things that no longer need to follow you from place to place.

In fact, having a smaller apartment can help you triage what you really want to keep with you. What’s left can either go into storage or head to the round file (a.k.a. the trash.)

Rearrange what’s left

After narrowing down your necessities, take a look at your apartment for hidden storage opportunities. Each room can yield more space than you may think upon the first inspection. Taking a close and thoughtful look can help you find the right place for all your belongings, even in a small apartment.

Bedroom

bedroombedroom

There are two areas in your bedroom that can be great for storage — your closet and under your bed. Maximizing space in your closet is possible with a variety of storage ideas. From special hangers to repurposing household items, your closet can hold twice as much stuff as you think.

  • Use vertical space: Stack shirts or pants on shelves
  • Shower curtain hangers: Install these in your closet to hold scarves, belts or even tank tops freeing up drawer space in your bedroom for bulkier items
  • Over-the-door shoe organizer: Less stuff on the ground helps your small space feel less cluttered
  • Under-bed storage: Even if you have a bed that’s lower to the ground, special storage bins exist that will slide under. Store your off-season clothing here to free up more space for the items you need.

Bathroom

bathroombathroom

Tips for organizing small spaces are handiest in the bathroom. It’s most likely the tightest space in a small apartment, but there’s room to spare in there, too. Overlooked areas ideal for extra storage include above the toilet and inside cabinets.

  • Over-the-toilet shelf: Since it slides in around the toilet, you’re not adding to the footprint within the bathroom. This is a great place to hold toiletries that don’t fit on the sink.
  • Over-the-door hooks: Perfect for wet towels or bathrobes
  • Shower caddies: Hang these over your shower head to hold soap and shampoo
  • Small storage containers on the inside of your bathroom cabinets: A great place for your hairdryer and straightener
  • A wine rack or special shelf for fresh towels: Putting them up on the wall makes sure they aren’t taking up valuable closet or cabinet space. It also looks decorative if you incorporate towels in vibrant colors.

Kitchen

kitchenkitchen

The best way to increase storage space in your kitchen is to add more counter space.

  • Make use of all free space: Large bowls have a lot of space in them. Condense your Tupperware or dishes by putting smaller objects inside of larger ones.
  • Appliances for storage: No cabinets, no problem! Your oven or microwave is a great place to keep dishes, pots and pans out of sight.
  • Portable chef’s cart: Put cutlery or even small kitchen appliances under it, then wheel the cart near an outlet when you have to plug in something. It gives you an extra surface to prep food, and you can move it out of the way when you’re done.
  • Wall hooks and over-the-door storage: Hang large utensils, pots and pans, cleaning supplies and even pantry staples

Living room

living roomliving room

Most likely the largest room in your apartment, the living room can serve as a catch-all for the stuff you need to store that won’t naturally go somewhere else.

  • Decorative boxes: They can fit under coffee tables or desks, and can hold almost anything. Store magazines, board games and puzzles, along with any personal items you want to keep but don’t need to display.
  • Book cart: If your couch is set up against a wall, consider moving it forward a little bit to create even more storage space. Slide in a cart to hold all your books in a way that’s easy to access.
  • Portable desk: Living rooms in small apartments often double as an office. Make the space less cluttered with the convenience of wheeling your small, portable workstation back into a corner when it’s not in use.

Hallways

hallwayhallway

While not technically a room, don’t dismiss the potential for storage in seemingly useless spaces. Your hallways are the perfect location for things like coats, shoes or umbrellas.

  • Coat rack: Give your guests a spot to hang their coats when they visit, rather than tossing them on a chair or your couch
  • Shoe cubby: Clear some space off the floor and keep your shoes organized

A word about shelving

Small storage shelves can go in almost any space in your home. They’re a universal space-saving device because they turn wall space into storage space. Especially in corners, which can feel like unusable areas of your apartment, shelves can save the day.

Trade in the cute, framed pictures you’ve put up on one wall and install shelves for instant storage. Deeper shelves can hold small bins, masking the appearance of anything that’s not so cute, and special corner shelving units nestle in nicely. There are so many shelving ideas out there, it’ll be easy to incorporate a few in your apartment.

After everything gets put away

Now that you’ve found a spot in your apartment for all your stuff, it’s time to decorate. Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean every nook and cranny has to go to holding stuff.

Leave a little room to make things pretty and transform your small space into the perfect home.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

8 Best Disability Insurance Companies of 2021 (Short-Term & Long-Term)

Data from LIMRA’s 2018 Insurance Barometer finds that roughly 3 in 5 American households have some form of life insurance.

In other words, there’s a good chance you have — at minimum — a term life insurance policy and therefore have some experience choosing a life insurance policy that fits your financial needs and life goals.

It’s far less likely you have experience searching for another type of insurance you probably need. That would be disability insurance, a vital income replacement solution for workers unable to work productively due to serious injury or illness.

If you or your family rely on your employment income to make ends meet or support a lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to, disability insurance is nearly as important as life insurance. After all, not all life-altering accidents and illnesses result in death.

And not all life-altering events that qualify for disability coverage are tragic. According to internal data from the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, new mothers make more than one-quarter of the company’s short-term disability insurance claims.


Best Disability Insurance Companies

Obtaining a disability insurance policy isn’t all that different from obtaining a life insurance policy. And many of the best life insurance companies also write disability insurance policies, so you’ll see plenty of familiar names along the way.

Always shop for insurance using an aggregator like Policygenius. But the following disability insurance providers, in particular, are among the best for U.S.-based workers.

There are two main types of disability insurance coverage: short-term disability and long-term disability. All of the companies on this list offer long-term disability coverage, some offer short-term disability insurance, and many of them (or their close affiliates) offer other insurance products, such as term life and annuities.

This evaluation incorporates:

  • Financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, which measures insurers’ financial stability and overall capacity to make promised benefit payouts
  • Customer satisfaction ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a leading evaluator of general business quality
  • Overall suitability based on each company’s product mix, strengths, weaknesses, and markets served

When evaluating disability insurance companies and policies, pay close attention to policy specifics like:

  • The length of the elimination period (the waiting period before benefits kick in)
  • The length of the benefit period itself (which is usually longer for long-term policies)
  • The monthly benefit amount
  • Actual disability insurance costs (monthly premiums)
  • Whether the policy offers “any occupation” or “own occupation” coverage (or both)

1. Breeze Financial & Insurance Services Group

  • Breeze LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: Not available
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: Very affordable policies; 100% online process with no salespeople

Breeze offers short- and long-term disability solutions that are all about convenience and affordability. Its 100% online application process cuts traditional salespeople out of the equation, allowing would-be policyholders to focus on what matters most: finding and securing the right amount of disability coverage at the right price.

Young, healthy workers with low coverage needs qualify for long-term coverage for as little as $9 per month — significantly less than many mainline insurers charge.

Despite its technology-driven approach, Breeze prides itself on an unusually transparent process that walks applicants through the entire scope of coverage and can accommodate a range of nontraditional situations, including solopreneurs and small-business owners with complex insurance needs.

And Breeze offers low-risk applicants an instant approval option that waives the usual medical underwriting requirement — no invasive medical exams or time-consuming labs required.

Learn More


2. Northwestern Mutual

  • Northwestern Mutual LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: Supplementing employer-sponsored disability plans; specialized plans for part-time workers and stay-at-home parents

Northwestern Mutual specializes in long-term disability plans with variable-length elimination periods that bridge the coverage gap between what employer-sponsored disability plans pay and policyholders’ pre-disability income.

But traditional employees with existing disability coverage aren’t the only folks Northwestern Mutual’s worthwhile for. The company also offers nontraditional products and add-ons for part-time workers and stay-at-home parents whose emotional labor is so often undervalued.

Plus, it’s regarded as one of the strongest insurance companies on the market, which is no small thing for those seeking peace of mind.

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3. MassMutual

  • Mass Mutual LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: B-
  • Great For: Retirement savings protection; tying benefit growth to salary

MassMutual’s customizable disability insurance products protect between 45% and 65% of policyholders’ pre-disability income, but that’s far from the whole story.

Powerful riders, some of which aren’t widely available elsewhere, help policyholders keep their financial plans on track, even as they pay into their policies or (if it comes to that) collect benefits.

For example, the retirement savings protection rider earmarks some income for policyholders’ retirement plans, keeping their long-term investment strategy on track when they’re temporarily unable to work.

Another rider pegs benefit growth to salary growth, adding protection as policyholders’ careers advance.

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4. Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

  • Guardian Life Insurance LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: Coverage for self-employed workers; group plans for small employers

Guardian Life Insurance Company of America offers short- and long-term disability insurance for self-employed individuals, group plans for employers, and supplemental policies for workers looking to add to their employer-sponsored coverage.

Because its policies are only available through licensed insurance brokers or employers themselves, Guardian requires all would-be policyholders to go through a middleman and definitely caters to small-business owners and executives looking to retain employees with attractive disability coverage.

But it’s a solid choice for self-employed workers with variable income, a group that tends to be perceived as high-risk (and is therefore underserved) by most disability insurance providers.

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5. Principal Financial Group

  • Principal Financial LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: Not rated
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: Existing Principal Financial clients and those willing to work with a Principal advisor

Like Guardian’s, Principal Financial Group’s disability insurance offering is gated, available only to clients of Principal Financial Group advisors and those willing to establish an advisory relationship (even if temporary) to obtain disability coverage.

The advantage: All Principal policies are written for individuals, not employers, and are therefore portable, meaning they remain in force when the policyholder changes jobs.

Because Principal clients’ relationships extend well beyond disability insurance, they can sometimes qualify for lower premiums than those available through one-off individual policy transactions. However, the most critical factor in any pricing decision is the perceived risk of disability.

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6. RiverSource Life Insurance Company

  • Riversource LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: Option to tie benefits to salary; potential for high coverage limits

RiverSource Life Insurance Company offers two disability insurance solutions: Income Protection and Income Protection Plus.

The main difference between the two is a higher level of coverage with the latter, though both are customizable based on policyholders’ incomes and long-term goals.

And both come with optional riders that tie benefits to salary increases, ensuring peace of mind with every raise. Like Guardian and Principal, RiverSource offers disability policies through a network of advisors — in this case, those working with Ameriprise Financial.

Learn More


7. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company

  • Mutual Of Omaha LogoA.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: High coverage limits, optional coverage until age 67

Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company’s long-term disability insurance offering has two distinct advantages: high coverage limits (up to $12,000 per month) and the option to extend coverage until age 67, two years past the usual cutoff date for long-term disability benefits.

If you continue to work full-time and pay your premiums, your policy could remain in force until age 75, but Mutual of Omaha reserves the right to cancel your policy at any time after age 67.

The main drawback here: As with some competitors, individual Mutual of Omaha disability insurance policies are only available through licensed agents.

Learn More


8. Assurity

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A- (Excellent)
  • BBB Customer Satisfaction Rating: A+
  • Great For: Longer coverage periods, flexible benefit amounts (including total disability coverage)

Assurity is a flexible option for workers with longer-term disability income insurance needs. Its coverage periods start at one year and continue up until retirement age.

Customizable benefit amounts range from partial disability (for those transitioning back to the workforce) to total disability coverage for policyholders unable to work at all.

Assurity also stands out for its commitment to any occupation coverage. Even if you’re able to perform some duties in a role or profession other than the one you held before your disability, you can remain out of the workforce (and earning benefits) until you’re once more able to do the job you were trained for.

Learn More


Final Word

Health insurance is a prevalent employment benefit. And it’s a valuable one — so much so that many workers accelerate or delay job changes based on the availability or absence of quality, affordable employer-sponsored health insurance.

Employer-sponsored disability insurance isn’t offered as widely and isn’t as high on workers’ must-have lists as health insurance. But it’s still a fairly common employment benefit. If you’re not sure whether your employer offers it, dig up your new-hire packet or log into your HR portal to see for yourself.

If it’s an option, investigate further. It could be a better deal than what’s available on the individual market to someone in your risk class.

Then again, it might not be, which is why it always pays to shop around.

Source: moneycrashers.com

22 science-backed ways to invest in yourself – Lexington Law

A person writing notes in a planner

You’re probably familiar with the value proposition of financial investing: spend strategically in the short-term on things that will pay dividends in the long-term. You siphon small amounts of your paycheck into your 401K each month in hopes that it will double or triple by the time you reach retirement.

But money isn’t the only thing you can manage up front for a greater payoff down the road.

Our time, energy, and focus are all finite resources that we choose to spend according to our priorities on any given day. But if we take a long-term approach to that spending, we can maximize our benefits and invest those resources in ourselves and our futures.

Here are 22 research-backed ways that you can invest now in your future wellbeing.

Invest in Your Goal Strategy

It’s tempting to get started on your goals right away, but it’s worth the effort to pause and invest time in creating a well-formed strategy.

Invest in your Goal Strategy

Invest in Better Habits

It only takes about three weeks to make a habit, so pausing other priorities to invest your full effort in creating positive routines is a small sacrifice you can make in order to set yourself up for long-term success.

Invest in Better Habits

Invest in Your Attitude

Even though changing your outlook is a mental task, it’s an important investment. Taking the time to alter your attitude daily takes effort and energy, but can ultimately improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Invest in Your Money

Financial investment is a personal investment, too. It’s impossible to set yourself up for emotional and physical health if you’re not planning for your future financially, so put effort into cleaning up your finances and making the neccessary sacrifices to take care of future you.

Invest in Your Money

Invest in Your Mind 

Just think about the hours you invested in your education as a child and how much that has paid off in your adult life. Continuing to cultivate your mind will have equally beneficial effects throughout the rest of your life.

Invest in Your Mind

Invest in Your Health

All of these investments can result in greater wellbeing, but there are also direct investments in your physical and mental health that can improve your quality of life later on.

Graphic list of ways to invest in your health

Invest in Others

It’s not just yourself you can spend time, energy and money on — putting your resources into your community can have long-lasting benefits for you, your loved ones and your neighbors.

Invest in Your Relationships

Investment doesn’t always mean setting aside actual money. It means giving any resource — be it your time, energy, or effort — to something now that will pay off in the future. The easiest way to find yourself in bad debt is by neglecting to track your finances. By strategically setting goals for your money as well as every other part of your life, you’re setting yourself up for success and making sure your energy is spent in the smartest way possible.

Sources

APA | Harvard | SAGE Journal | APA PsychNET | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Journal of Experimental Psychology | National Center for Biotechnology Information | Harvard Business Review | Journal of Applied Social Psychology | Mr. Electric | The Smart Cave | Science Daily | Forbes | Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology | Journal of Personality | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Huffington Post | Debt.com | MarketWatch | StudentLoanHero | The Simple Dollar |The New York Times | Science Daily | American Journal of Public Health | Huffington Post | Psychosomatic Medicine | Psychology Today | Neurology | Huffington Post | American Heart Association | British Psychological Society | Physiology & Behavior | TIME Magazine | National Academy of Sciences | Journal of Behavioral Medicine | Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine | Blood Purification | American Diabetes Association | Journal of the American Medical Association | AARP | Corporation for National & Community Service | SAGE Journals | Psychology Today | Canopy Health | WebMD

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

What is Rent Control?

Did you ever wonder how Monica and Rachel in “Friends” could afford rent in a two-bedroom New York City apartment on a waitress and chef’s salary? Well, the answer is rent control.

Rent control is a rare policy that fixes the price of rent indefinitely and falls under the umbrella term “rent regulations.”

It sounds great, right? Before you get too excited, you need to understand exactly what is rent control.

We’ll talk about the difference between rent control vs. rent stabilization, explain how it really works and give you a few advantages and disadvantages of living in a rent-controlled apartment.

Rent control vs. rent stabilization

Both rent control and rent stabilization are concepts centered around the idea of protecting tenants from major increases in the price of rent. The goal is to keep housing affordable while also enabling landlords to increase rent.

While people often confuse the two, there is a big difference between them.

Rent stabilization

Rent stabilization is the more common practice and means that landlords or property owners can only increase rent by a specific percentage year-over-year. In areas that have rent stabilization in place, the state sets the rate at which landlords can increase rent. Because this is a state issue, not a federal issue, it can vary drastically state-by-state. For example, Oregon limits yearly rent increases to 9.2 percent while Los Angeles County in California limits yearly rent increases to a mere 3 percent.

This is a more common practice and you’ll likely have an easier time finding a rent-stabilized apartment than a rent-controlled apartment.

Rent control

Rent control is a policy that means landlords cannot increase a tenant’s rent. Effectively, rental rates remain set and won’t increase. Rent-controlled apartments have a set price for rent that will not increase whereas rent-stabilized apartments will see price increases but there is a cap on how much the rate can increase each year.

Rent-controlled apartments are incredibly rare, so if you live in or can find a rent-controlled apartment, you’re very lucky.

Friends apartment in NYC.

In fact, there are only 22,000 rent-controlled apartments out there. Even if you can find a rent-controlled apartment on the market, you have to meet a specific set of criteria to qualify for one. This includes:

  • You cannot make more than $200,000 for two years in a row
  • The building must have been built before 1947
  • The apartment must have been lived in by the same family since at least 1971
  • The apartment must be passed from family member to family member
  • The person who inherits the rent-controlled apartment must have lived in it for two years straight before officially inheriting it

Now, it makes sense how Monica had such a great apartment in New York — she lived in the apartment with her grandmother for two years prior to inheriting it from her. This allowed her to take over the rent-controlled apartment and keep it in the family.

Where is rent control most common?

Out of the 50 states, only five have specific rent control policies in place. The other 45 exempt rent control or have no active policies in place.

The five states that have some rent-controlled apartments are California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Oregon.

Map of rent control.

Photo source: National Multifamily Housing Council

Pros and cons of rent control

As with everything, there are pros and cons to rent control depending on your perspective and situation.

Pro: Cheaper for tenants

Because rent-controlled apartments have a fixed price for rent, they are very affordable. You will pay the same price for rent year after year, even as your neighbors experience price increases. Rent-controlled apartments are cheap.

Pro: Affordable even when wages don’t increase

It’s common knowledge that rent prices are rising faster than wages are. So, you can live in the same apartment at the same price and still afford it, even if you don’t see a pay bump on your paycheck very often.

Pro: Foster safe neighborhoods

Rent-controlled apartments offer renters financial stability because they know that they can live on a fixed income. When there is financial stability, people will stay in the same location, develop relationships with neighbors and decrease renter turnover. All of these factors contribute to a safer neighborhood and environment.

Pro: Automatic lease renewals

When you live in a rent-controlled apartment, you automatically get the first right of renewal on your lease. Basically, you always have a place to live and can always re-sign your lease at the same rate.

Con: Not always well-maintained

Because of the fixed rent price in a rent-controlled apartment, landlords don’t maintain, update or refurbish them as often because it isn’t profitable for them. At times, rent-controlled apartments have outdated appliances because no one invests in them.

Con: Hard to come by

As we mentioned earlier, there are roughly 22,000 rent-controlled apartments in the wild, so they are incredibly rare and hard to come by. As such, you’ll be frustrated looking for one as the supply is so low.

Con: Landlords often lose money on rent-controlled apartments

If you’re a landlord of a rent-controlled apartment, you’re likely losing money compared to other landlords who can increase the price of rent each year. If you’re a tenant, this is great. But, it’s a con for the property owner.

Reviewing and signing a lease.

How to find a rent-controlled apartment

Rent-controlled apartments are a unicorn in the real estate world. When you have one, hold onto it as they are very rare and you likely won’t have a better deal anywhere, especially in an expensive metro like New York City.

If you want a rent-controlled apartment, you have two ways to find one.

  1. You can inherit a rent-controlled apartment
  2. Research the city or state’s database of rent-controlled apartments

If you can’t find or qualify for a rent-controlled apartment, don’t fret. Rent.com has thousands of affordable apartments all across the country that would be perfect for you. Start your search today!

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.

Source: rent.com

Diderot Effect – Psychology of Buying Unnecessary Things & How to Avoid

When I relocated to a new city, I moved from the apartment where I had lived for seven years to a newer one that had been better maintained. When I started unpacking my belongings, I was struck by how shabby my stuff looked in comparison and overcome with the impulse to buy new things for this beautiful apartment.

Thankfully, before I pulled out my credit card and started a buying frenzy, I remembered a short essay I’d read in a college philosophy class and realized I had fallen prey to the Diderot effect.

What Is the Diderot Effect

Named for the 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot, this effect describes the phenomenon in which the introduction of a new purchase or gift makes your existing possessions look dingy, old, or unexciting, thus sparking a spiraling pattern of consumption.

Say you buy a new couch, and you start looking at your existing area rug and side tables with a critical eye. So you replace those, and now your whole living room looks newer — at which point, the bedroom furniture starts to look outdated.

The Diderot effect is all around us, and it influences our purchase choices across all categories: the clothes we wear, the items we use each day, even our cars and houses.

So what is the Diderot effect, how does it work, and what can we do to avoid falling victim to the endless cycle of consumption and spending it provokes?

The Origin of the Diderot Effect

A French philosopher active during the Enlightenment, Denis Diderot was perhaps best known as the co-founder of the Encyclopedie, a general encyclopedia published between 1751 and 1772.

Diderot also wrote widely, publishing a number of essays on a range of topics, including “Regrets for my Old Dressing Gown, or A warning to those who have more taste than fortune” in 1769. This is the work in which he describes the phenomenon that would later be coined “the Diderot effect.”

The story goes that Diderot was either gifted or purchased a new dressing gown, which prompted the now-famous essay in which he laments this acquisition. “My old robe was one with the other rags that surrounded me,” Diderot writes.

But once he has the beautiful new robe, everything around him starts to look shabby in comparison, including his physical appearance underneath the robe. He feels the new robe demands that his other belongings keep up with the same high standards, so he begins replacing his old possessions with new ones.

Out go the modest prints he had tacked to the wall, to be replaced with framed paintings instead. He replaces his old straw chair with a new leather one and acquires a fancy inlaid armoire. The rate of accumulation snowballs from there, until he finds himself with debts he must pay by continuing to work and write.

In his essay, he warns readers, “Let my example teach you a lesson. Poverty has its freedoms; opulence has its obstacles.”


The Diderot Effect in Modern Consumerism

Consciously or not, we express ourselves through our possessions, whether they’re brand-new luxury goods or well-loved items passed down through several generations.

Possessions aren’t the only way to tell the world who we are, of course, but they are one of the subtle ways we convey our sense of self to others, often without needing to say a thing. How many times have you tried on an article of clothing or looked at a piece of furniture and thought, “This just isn’t me”?

When we buy things, we want them to fit into our existing tastes and standards. However, when we bring something new into our lives, we can’t help comparing it to the things we already own, which makes us look at the old items with a more critical eye.

Before you know it, the purchase of a new couch leads you to replace everything in the room, from the furniture to the light fixtures, in an effort to make it all “match.” What started as a new sofa becomes a spiral of consumption with no end in sight.


How to Avoid the Diderot Effect

You can probably identify examples of the Diderot effect in your own life. It’s common, especially in our consumer-driven culture.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to avoid falling prey to the Diderot effect and stop the spending snowball before it picks up too much speed. Here are a few tactics to try.

1. Reduce Your Exposure to Temptations

The less exposure you have to brand-new things, the less likely you are to desire them. No one who lives in modern society can escape advertising entirely; marketing is simply too ubiquitous. But you can do everything in your power to reduce the temptation.

Stay away from physical stores, which are deliberately laid out to trick you into spending more. Avoid online shopping and unsubscribe from marketing newsletters and store emails. Cut down on the amount of junk mail you get and stop following shops and brands on social media.

If you don’t see as many ads or items beckoning for you to buy them, it’s much easier to control your desire for newer, fancier, more expensive stuff.

2. Put the Brakes on Your Consumption

If you have to tell yourself no each time you encounter something you might want to buy, you’ll quickly exhaust your reserves of self-discipline. Instead, set parameters for yourself and your family so you only have to make a single decision.

For example, you might decide you’re done with purchasing clothing new. You can buy secondhand and vintage items, and if you can’t find exactly what you want in those marketplaces, you simply don’t buy anything.

This way, you’re not saying no to fast fashion or retail stores over and over again, every time you walk past one on the street or get a tempting flyer in the mail. You simply decided to say no once and never look back.

Think about how you can impose a similar restraint or rule for your spending in other categories. Maybe it’s as simple as not buying any new furniture or household goods until your credit card debt is paid off, or doing a no-spend month or pantry challenge with your family.

Perhaps you choose a limit for your shopping budget, and once you hit that limit, that’s it for the month — the envelope system is a great way to do this.

3. Lend and Borrow

Instead of buying new stuff, borrow what you need and lend what you have. This strategy can sometimes take a little more effort, but the payoff can be tremendous, both in the cost savings you’ll see and in the relationships you’ll be able to forge with your friends and neighbors.

From lawn mowers to power tools to camping equipment, explore all the ways that you can borrow instead of buy, and be equally willing to lend what you own. Host a clothing swap with your friends. See if your local public library, church, or community center has a kitchen- or tool-lending library. Join a Buy Nothing group or other frugality group in your area, and talk to your friends and neighbors about how to pool your resources.

Borrowing not only saves you money, but it also prevents you from falling into the trap that Diderot did. Rather than buying new items that make the old ones look less exciting, you see these things for what they are — utilitarian items to be borrowed, used, and then returned to their owner — rather than a reflection on you and your tastes.

4. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Get into the habit of making what you already own last as long as possible.

Instead of replacing a piece of electronic equipment when it breaks, see if it can be repaired. Instead of buying your child a new backpack every school year, have them reuse last year’s or switch with a sibling or friend.

Instead of buying a whole new wardrobe for a new job, refashion or repurpose a few key pieces to quell your desire for something new and match your current aesthetic.

6. Match New and Existing Items

When you’re purchasing items for your home, pay close attention to the items you already own. Look for colors, materials, and designs that fit well with your current stuff instead of feeling at odds or out of place.

Go into a purchase expecting to own each item for a long time, and only purchase things that will fit in with — rather than stand out from — what you already have.

The same goes for your wardrobe. Look for pieces that work with your current clothing and accessories so you can easily mix and match rather than feeling compelled to buy an entirely new wardrobe.

You can still introduce new elements into your style if you want to make a change, but do it gradually rather than overhauling everything in one fell swoop.

7. Follow the “One In, One Out” Rule

One surefire way to avoid thoughtlessly bringing new things into your house is to stick to a “one in, one out” rule. By this rule, every time you bring something new into your home, you must get rid of something else.

Don’t allow yourself to simply set the old item out by the curb and forget about it. Instead, try to sell it on Craigslist, figure out how to donate it to a secondhand store like the Salvation Army, or give it to a friend or family member.

This is more work than simply putting something out for the trash, but that’s the point. By creating a little bit of work for yourself, you’ll be better able to resist the urge to buy new things except for when you really need them. This makes it harder to simply whip out your credit card and buy your way to a whole new living room while kicking the old stuff to the curb.

8. Reframe How You See Physical Objects and Symbols of Wealth

When you see a big new house or shiny car, instead of feeling envious, remind yourself of all the expenses that come with maintaining those pricier items. A bigger house means bigger expenses, from higher monthly payments to higher heating and cooling costs.

A luxury car not only costs a fortune but also requires costly insurance and upkeep. Remind yourself that living more modestly frees up your money for important financial goals, such as saving for retirement or reaching financial independence.

Rather than striving to acquire bigger and “better” things, practice gratitude for what you already have. Consider this famous quote from Epicurus: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

What are the things you once hoped for that now you take for granted? Make a list of those and revisit it the next time you find yourself wanting to redecorate or upgrade.


Final Word

By employing these tactics before my instinct got the better of me, I was able to keep my new house purchases to a minimum and avoid going over budget. I bought only the things I really needed and picked objects that fit within my current aesthetic.

Using Craigslist and relying on carpentry and other DIY skills to retrofit existing storage solutions and decor, I made my apartment homey and comfortable without falling victim to the Diderot effect.

Source: moneycrashers.com

22 science-backed ways to invest in yourself

A person writing notes in a planner

You’re probably familiar with the value proposition of financial investing: spend strategically in the short-term on things that will pay dividends in the long-term. You siphon small amounts of your paycheck into your 401K each month in hopes that it will double or triple by the time you reach retirement.

But money isn’t the only thing you can manage up front for a greater payoff down the road.

Our time, energy, and focus are all finite resources that we choose to spend according to our priorities on any given day. But if we take a long-term approach to that spending, we can maximize our benefits and invest those resources in ourselves and our futures.

Here are 22 research-backed ways that you can invest now in your future wellbeing.

Invest in Your Goal Strategy

It’s tempting to get started on your goals right away, but it’s worth the effort to pause and invest time in creating a well-formed strategy.

Invest in your Goal Strategy

Invest in Better Habits

It only takes about three weeks to make a habit, so pausing other priorities to invest your full effort in creating positive routines is a small sacrifice you can make in order to set yourself up for long-term success.

Invest in Better Habits

Invest in Your Attitude

Even though changing your outlook is a mental task, it’s an important investment. Taking the time to alter your attitude daily takes effort and energy, but can ultimately improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Invest in Your Money

Financial investment is a personal investment, too. It’s impossible to set yourself up for emotional and physical health if you’re not planning for your future financially, so put effort into cleaning up your finances and making the neccessary sacrifices to take care of future you.

Invest in Your Money

Invest in Your Mind 

Just think about the hours you invested in your education as a child and how much that has paid off in your adult life. Continuing to cultivate your mind will have equally beneficial effects throughout the rest of your life.

Invest in Your Mind

Invest in Your Health

All of these investments can result in greater wellbeing, but there are also direct investments in your physical and mental health that can improve your quality of life later on.

Graphic list of ways to invest in your health

Invest in Others

It’s not just yourself you can spend time, energy and money on — putting your resources into your community can have long-lasting benefits for you, your loved ones and your neighbors.

Invest in Your Relationships

Investment doesn’t always mean setting aside actual money. It means giving any resource — be it your time, energy, or effort — to something now that will pay off in the future. The easiest way to find yourself in bad debt is by neglecting to track your finances. By strategically setting goals for your money as well as every other part of your life, you’re setting yourself up for success and making sure your energy is spent in the smartest way possible.

Sources

APA | Harvard | SAGE Journal | APA PsychNET | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Journal of Experimental Psychology | National Center for Biotechnology Information | Harvard Business Review | Journal of Applied Social Psychology | Mr. Electric | The Smart Cave | Science Daily | Forbes | Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology | Journal of Personality | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Huffington Post | Debt.com | MarketWatch | StudentLoanHero | The Simple Dollar |The New York Times | Science Daily | American Journal of Public Health | Huffington Post | Psychosomatic Medicine | Psychology Today | Neurology | Huffington Post | American Heart Association | British Psychological Society | Physiology & Behavior | TIME Magazine | National Academy of Sciences | Journal of Behavioral Medicine | Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine | Blood Purification | American Diabetes Association | Journal of the American Medical Association | AARP | Corporation for National & Community Service | SAGE Journals | Psychology Today | Canopy Health | WebMD

Source: lexingtonlaw.com