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Olive Garden is known for one thing actually, more like infinity things:

Their unlimited breadsticks.

Sure, their Italian style cuisine is generally regarded as “delizioso,” but everyone knows the real reason anyone ever goes to Olive Garden:

Their unlimited breadsticks.

Well now an incredible change is happening at the restaurant, and it’s coming to their most popular appetizer:

Their unlimited breadsticks.

Whatever you do, try not to lose your mind when I say the following phrase: “breadstick bun sandwiches.”

Breadstick Bun Sandwiches.

Breadstick Bun Sandwiches.

Breadstick… bun… sandwiches…

Breadstick bun sandwiches. Olive Garden has created a monster! They’re turning their famous breadsticks into a bun for two new sandwiches, one chicken parm and the other meatball.

Not only does the meal start at $6.99, it can also come with unlimited breadsticks on the side!

Your breadstick sandwich can come with infinite breadsticks on the side. That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.

A rep for Olive Garden, Jessica Dinon, spilled the deets, saying:

We’ve been evolving our menu a lot over the past year and we’re really trying to give our guests more ways to enjoy the things that they love. We know our guests love our breadsticks. It’s iconic.

The only way to get people to love their breadsticks even more would be to make them free/mandatory. Slapping chicken parm or meatballs in the middle of a breadstick is a decent middle ground I guess.

If only they added a third sandwich option of having only breadsticks between the breadstick buns… Breadstick inceptionwich sounds delicious.

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Toca Madera, which means “knock on wood,” is quickly becoming one of LA’s coolest restaurants to visit. Opened just this year, the first restaurant and lounge from Everyday Life (EDL), owned and operated by Tosh Berman and Amrou Manaseer, continues their focus on exceptional hospitality. The atmosphere is exactly what you’d expect from EDLcool, but welcoming, in the form a 120-seat cantina. The 4,500 sq. ft. restaurant has a world-class sound system, a retractable roof, and an interior patio. Needless to say, if you need to impress someone, bring them to Toca Madera.

Co-creator Tosh Berman sums it up perfectly. Their “…passion for service & design along with our extensive history in nightlife, this venue is a representation of our maturity towards an industry that we have made our life’s work.”

Alongside Tosh Berman is his fellow co-creator, Amrou Manaseer, and his recipe for success is simple. “Incredible food, great cocktails, amazing music and most importantly, great friends.”

Speaking for their quality of food and drink, you can find no better, or more authentic, Mexican cuisine in West Hollywood, and that’s due to Executive Chef Raymond Alvarez. Chef Alvarez has found the perfect combination of classic meals, which he has spent years crafting and perfecting, and his own childhood favorites. Alvarez’s menu is a shared plate format, using only the freshest ingredients, with an emphasis on organic, and a vegan menu is available.

Toca Madera is located on 8450 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Check out some of the pictures below to get your mouth watering.

Custom table side guacamole.

Custom table side guacamole.

Achiote jidori chicken.

Achiote jidori chicken.

served with escabeche (house made pickled veggies), avocado puree and a citrus salsa.

Their gorgeous atmosphere.

Their gorgeous atmosphere.

Vegan Tostada

Vegan Tostada

With black bean puree, roasted corn relish, seared cilantro and jalapeno tofu. Just incredible.

The most amazing margarita you’ll ever have.

The most amazing margarita you

Two fully stocked bars.

Two fully stocked bars.

You have to try their churro ice cream sandwich.

You <em>have </em>to try their churro ice cream sandwich.

It’s like seeing God…

Date night is planned.

Date night is planned.

Amazing.

Amazing.

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There’s no doubt that you have multiple Disney favourites which inspired you as a child. As an adult looking back, Disney films offer far more substance than pretty princesses and memorable villains. There were plenty of lessons intertwined into heartfelt story lines and some of these valuable lessons, can be transferred directly into startup business opportunities.

See Also: 5 Business Lessons We Can Learn From the Oscars

If you’re thinking, ‘what can I possibly learn from Disney films that would help my startup?’ well, don’t be so quick to judge. Each Disney film offers its own unique plot, all offering multiple life lessons. Whether the lesson is believing in yourself, not judging others, or the importance of perseverance, Disney films can help you realize some of the most basic lessons which all business owners should understand.

1. Keep Swimming

finding nemo
Disney

Dora, from Finding Nemo, tells the young fish that when life gets you down, you need to just keep swimming. In order to succeed in a successful startup, you have to maintain high levels of determination and push forward, even when you run into various roadblocks. Whether you receive some negative feedback, have staffing issues, or any other setback, it’s important to always focus on your goals and learn from your mistakes.

If business owners let every small hurdle bring them down and cause them to give up, there wouldn’t be any business owners left. If you believe in your business and you’re making progress, don’t allow minor obstacles stand in between you and your success. High levels of determination can take you very far, helping you overcome any hardships along the way. If you fail, keep swimming. Focus on what went wrong, learn from it, and continue forward.

2. Dare to be Different

This is a common theme throughout numerous Disney films, including Dumbo. Of course, Dumbo had incredibly large ears which caused everyone to make fun of him and constantly feel embarrased. He wasn’t able to perform at the circus like all the other elephants because of this unique feature. However, by the end of the film, Dumbo harnesses his ability to fly, making this an incredible and successful accomplishment.

For any business owner, you know that without any risk, there’s little reward. Those who are unique are those that succeed. There are a million and one businesses out there and you may have immense competition within your niche. What will set you apart? What will allow you to build an excited and loyal customer base? Dare to make your business and product exclusive.

Throughout life, we tend to lean towards actions that allow us to fit in and be normal. Going against the grain can be extremely rewarding, but it also requires hard work. The most successful startups solve a problem or fill a specific need. Therefore, as you compete alongside other companies, you’re going to need to differentiate yourself.

3. Focus on Your Goals

We all remember Alice, lost in a world that challenged her perception of reality. When she met up with the Cheshire Cat, their conversation yielded the importance of specific goals. If you enter a startup without a sense of direction, knowing exactly what it is that you want to achieve, you can get lost along the way.

When Alice gets lost, she asks the Cheshire Cat which way she should go. He replied with, well, that depends on where you’d like to get to. Since Alice didn’t care where she ended up, the cat said, then it doesn’t matter which way you go. Think of your startup as the crazy journey in which Alice embarks on. Without a sense of direction, you’re going in blind, bound to encounter many more obstacles.

If you’re immersed in a startup, think about where you want to be in a week, in a month, in a year. Always look ahead and know which direction you’re heading in, as without a clear sense of direction, it’s much harder to reach your goals.

4. If You Put Your Mind to Something, You Can Succeed

Mulan is the perfect example of not giving up and sticking to what you believe in. In order to protect her father, she secretly disguises herself as a man so that she can take his place in the army. She trained and she conquered despite all the odds- the same principles that can easily be applied to business.

If you don’t believe in yourself and your business, who will? If you truly believe that you have a great concept and business plan, as well as high levels of determination, nothing can stop you. You must believe in yourself and your abilities. Like Mulan, you also need to address areas where you’re weak in order to increase your chances of success.

Once you put your mind to it, your actions will help you develop a strong business. Not everyone will understand why you’re taking on certain risks, but that does not necessarily mean you’re making a mistake. Mulan’s choices were not fully understood by those she encountered, but she put her mind to it and was successful in saving her father.

Treat your startup as a life or death scenario. Of course, if your business goes under, you’re not going to be killed by a sword in battle, but still, you need to stay focused. Pinpoint aspects of your company that need to be strengthened and take one day at a time, continually pushing forward until you succeed!

5. Be Honest

pinocchio
Disney

We all know the story of Pinocchio; he told lies and suffered the consequences. This was a great lesson, as honesty is always the best policy for your business and your life in general. If you lie to your staff, investors, clients, or customers, you may not grow a long wooden nose, but you could most certainly hurt your business (and reputation).

Trust is crucial in business and if your customers trust you, you’ll eventually build a loyal network of people. When you’re starting out, building your customer base is vital to your success, as without customers, you won’t develop growth and your business will, unfortunately, fail.

Always be honest with your customers and welcome their feedback. This is the time to gather information and build relationships. The same is true regarding potential investors. If there’s someone you’d like to work with and require their investment, honesty and some level of transparency are vital in your collaboration.

Lastly, it’s important to be honest with yourself. A startup can be viewed as your baby, but if something isn’t working, you need to remind yourself that honesty is the best policy. You need to look at every aspect of your business in a realistic manner. Don’t sugar coat things that aren’t working in order to make yourself feel better. This is the time to be honest with yourself and take appropriate action in case some aspects of your business are not really worth it.

See Also: How to Present Your Startup to Investors

So remember, Disney movies aren’t just for kids. Well, of course I wouldn’t suggest using information from Disney films to base your entire startup but the more information you source and the more prepared you are, the better. With that being said, Disney has provided many beneficial life lessons throughout its movies. The villain tends to lose and the hero comes out on top. Work hard in order to be the hero for your company, and overcome the continuous challenges and competition in your industry. You can even be your business’ Disney Prince or Princess!

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Christmas is still over a month away, but retailers are eagerly waiting for the festive season to begin. Many companies are expecting a big increase in sales over the Christmas holidays and as such need to be as prepared as possible to welcome their clients to their beautiful Christmassy-decorated stores. Since every year Britons spend an average of 3 billion pounds on toys, this year Santa’s list is definitely going to be long.

See Also: How to Protect Yourself When Shopping Online This Christmas

This infographic supplied by Advanced Diesel Engineering, presents an overview of the retail predictions for the Christmas holidays. Trendy, toys such as LEGO (from the LEGO movie) and famous characters from the animated film Elsa are going to be heavily promoted in expectation of massive sales over the next two months in the UK and around the world.

So, what are you hoping to get for Christmas? Let me know in the comments section below…;

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Flex Watches – the must-have accessory for the summer!

Flex Watches - the must-have accessory for the summer!

Flex Watches are blowing up in a big way. These Southern-California inspired watches are a unique, interchangeable take on wrist-wear, “inspired by the latest trends in music and fashion culture.” The name not only comes from a vision of being flexible in life, but also from the fact that the watches are made from silicone and are actually flexible.

Look great while matching your daily style.

Look great while matching your daily style.

Besides looking amazing, Flex has partnered with a ton of different celebrities and athletes to create one-of-a-kind designs that speak to those icons. On top of that, they contribute part of their proceeds to help a variety of charities. Oh, and they’re on sale this entire weekend for 50% off?! Read on for all the deets on the best casual watch around.

Even Tyga is getting in on the flex lifestyle, so why aren’t you right now?!

Even Tyga is getting in on the flex lifestyle, so why aren

Rapper Tyga knows a thing or two about fashion, having started his own fashion line Last Kings. The Last Kings inspirations, which include hip-hop, Egyptian imagery and LA movie culture certainly blend well with Flex’s “living in the now ideals.”

Flex’s website states that:

Last Kings and Flex Watches have teamed up to design exclusive watches with Tyga to help in the fight against hunger! Shop Last Kings apparel today and proceeds will go to feeding 5 impoverished children in Mexico.

The Black Pharaoh Last Kings watch features Egyptian patterns and a custom Last King watchband!

The Black Pharaoh Last Kings watch features Egyptian patterns and a custom Last King watchband!

Flex watches have also previously collaborated with WWE stars like Dolph Ziggler and John Cena!

Flex watches have also previously collaborated with WWE stars like Dolph Ziggler and John Cena!

Featured above on the left, Flex also currently offers the “Let’s Just Love” watch. Created with David Cruz (Millionaire Matchmaker cast member and founder at finding-cupid.com), the watch’s message “Let’s Just Love” asks us to “forget about all the labels that exist in our lives and Let’s Just Love.

On top of that, for every watch purchased, Flex “will donate 10% back to The Trevor Project to help provide crisis counseling to LGBTQ young people thinking of suicide.

That’s not the only charity Flex helps!

That

If you haven’t gotten it yet, Flex is all about contributing money and assistance to a great cause. They discovered that in southern Mexico, many children don’t have breakfast, as their parents can only afford one meal a day, and choose dinner.

They’ve donated over 15,000 meals to children in need in the region, helping them stay focused in school and eventually help their own community. Unless allocated to a different charity, every Flex Watch sold helps provide meals for these kids.

Now is the perfect time to bring some style to your wrist – this ENTIRE Memorial Day weekend watches are 50% OFF!

Now is the perfect time to bring some style to your wrist - this ENTIRE Memorial Day weekend watches are 50% OFF!

Just plug in code MDW50 for 50% off! It’s that easy. From Tyga’s watches to the classic Venice watches, cope a great watch today (for around $20?!?!? WHAT?!) and support some amazing causes!

This deal ends at 11:59 PM on Monday so get to the Flex site and get yours ASAP!

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How happy are you? How happy are your neighbors?

How happy are you? How happy are your neighbors?

Have you ever stopped and truly thought about it?

How happy are you? How happy is your community? How happy is your city, state, country?

Well, if you live next to this couple, probably not very happy. Plus they live right here in the U.S.A. so you better bet the U.S.A. didn’t nab a top seat on the 2015 World Happiness Report.

Not making the top of the list doesn’t make me very happy. It’s a vicious cycle I suppose.

The Report

The Report

The first report, launched in 2012, was huge and regarded as the first official survey of global happiness. According to UBC, it “contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, national statistics, and describes how measurements of subjective well-being can be used to assess national progress effectively.”

Which is cool and all, and I totally believe them, but what I really want to know is who came in first — and who came in last:

THE HAPPIEST COUNTRIES ON EARTH

Here are the top 5 Happiest Countries as defined by 2015 World Happiness Report.

1. Switzerland (video above)

2. Iceland

3. Denmark

4. Norway

5. Canada

Congratulations to all the winners — how open are you about my family and I moving somewhere inside of you?

And here are the Least Happiest Countries:

Actually, this isn’t part of the report. It totally should be and I feel really unhappy that they want to just focus on the winners. Of course they’re happy; they won. I mean, what happened to including everyone? SHARING? You know, like we were taught when we were kids?

How can you expect us to climb the ranks to the top when we have no idea how far we need to climb??

WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE US????

…………..

Anyway, did you make the list? If so, can you tell me how it feels?

If you didn’t make the list, there’s always next year I suppose. As long as, you know, the world doesn’t end or something.

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Diet Pepsi will never be the same!

PepsiCo is taking a huge risk and changing their formula for one of their products: Diet Pepsi.

They’re not changing up much, they’re just swapping out the artificial sweetener. And only in the U.S.! PepsiCo will continue to use aspartame in products sold internationally.

The company has seen Diet Pepsi sales drop, and their consumer surveys show it’s mainly because of the presence of aspartame.

Americans are cutting back on their diet soda intake, mainly out of fear of aspartame. Even though the FDA say it’s totally safe, people still have a feeling “fake sugar” just can’t be all that good for you.

This whole thing is kinda ridiculous for several reasons.

Artificial sweeteners have been heavily studied for decades and are all FDA approved to be safe for human consumption. (Which is why Diet Coke isn’t changing their formula!)

Though, recent research has shown there are links between diet soda drinking and obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

So basically, Aspartame and Sucralose are equally safe to consume, and are equally potentially not so great for your health. Also, soda in general isn’t good for you.

So instead of arguing over which fake chemical to drop in your sweet, fizzy beverage, maybe just try a glass of water?

The aspartame free Diet Pepsi starts shipping in August, so you Diet Pepsi fans out there might want to start stocking up now. Or you know, just cut back on soda.

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Tis the season. It is better to give than to receive. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Happy Holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas. Sure, we complain about the expense, planning, travel, and crowds (both at home and the mall). But when push comes to shove, we all love this time of year. The decorations. The music. The kith and kin. We may like getting a gift from someone, but most of us love finding the perfect present for that special someone. It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And as a business owner, you shouldn’t forget about your clients and customers. A well-thought out gift is a great way to strengthen relationships, forge new ones, and increase your brand awareness. But it’s not a simple. What you give is more important than the giving itself.

The American Express Small Business Monitor reports that 49% of companies send cards and calendars to their clients at Christmas, while 26% give gift certificates, and 23% offer company branded items. Not bad. But not great either. You can do better.

You should probably avoid company branded items completely. While a pen, bag, or even a bottle of wine with your company name and logo on it were all the rage a few years ago, most consider them a bit too self-serving these days. It’s rather vain to assume anyone would want something with our brand stamped across the front.

There are plenty of other bad ideas, too. How about a fruit cake? Here’s a little-known fact: there are only about 40 fruit cakes in existence, and they get constantly regifted and passed around year after year. No one is actually eating them. You could opt for a coupon or discount for your product or service…but again, that comes across as something for you (a sale) rather than them (your clients). So don’t. Reverse that. It’s supposed to be about them and not you.

An appropriate gift for a client is useful, relevant, and unique. Something they can use, but might not buy themselves. And you don’t want to step over any lines…it goes without saying that things like lingerie, hard alcohol, or “gag” gifts that allude to sex, drugs, or personal matters are best left on the store shelf.

So what’s that leave? Plenty. You could go the safe route and get a beautifully presented fruit or gift basket (just make sure it’s “good” gifts and not stuff that would otherwise never be bought or sold). It’s a reliable bet. A gift certificate for a big operation like Amazon or Walmart is usually appreciated, but it says nothing about the relationship between you and your client. It’s impersonal.

You can do better. Here are 7 gift ideas sure to impress your clients.

See Also: Top 5 Gift Ideas for Your Boss’s Birthday

1. Membership or Subscription

There’s so much available out there, including countless “of-the-month” clubs (everything from whisky, to cigars, from beauty products, to artisanal jams), and other services. A quick online search will find plenty of options. Ideally, find something that you know they would enjoy or use, but that they probably wouldn’t spend on themselves. A year of Dashlane Premium ($40) gives them a robust and tremendously useful password management system. A year of a VPN service like CyberGhost or TunnelBear makes their online existence that much more secure and private. The premium version of Calm gives them over 50 guided meditations, with more added all the time. Netflix and Hulu offers them the gift of entertainment. A consumable delivery service like Dollar Shave Club is another simple but appreciated gift.

2. An Experience

Buy experiences, not things. We have enough things (in fact, we have too many). Research suggests that spending money on an experience (a trip, an outing, a concert, or whatever) brings us greater happiness than spending money on an item. Extend that idea to your clients. This requires that you know something about them, but you should anyway (how else can you provide them with the individualized service they deserve?).

If they love classical music, buy them tickets to the symphony. If they are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, get them skydiving lessons. If you know they are a history buff, present tickets to the Ancient China exhibit at the museum. Outdoorsman? Deep-sea fishing outing. Artistic sensibilities? Enroll them in a pottery class or introduction to painting. There’s something for everyone, and it shows them that you know more about them than just how much they spent on their last purchase from you.

3. Personalized Stationery

Writing letters and thank you notes is a dying artform, but it deserves a revival. Most people would never even consider buying personalized stationery for themselves, but almost everyone would use it if they had it. Not for everything, and not for everyone, but good quality paper with their name at the top is perfect for some correspondence. And it’s just classy and sophisticated…precisely what you want them to associate with you and your business.

4. A Book

And no, not an ebook. While I have nothing against ebooks (I have and love my Kindle), there’s just something about a physical, paper book. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive hardcover. Much like buying them an experience, this presupposes that you know them.

Does their favourite author have a new novel? Get it. Are they trying to get more involved in digital marketing? Find the latest offering from an authority on the subject. Do they enjoy gardening, or baking, or home decor? Find something on the subject. Once you’ve found the perfect book for them, inscribe it with a short but personal message on the first page. This is the kind of thing people remember and keep for years.

5. Coffee or Tea

Not Nabob. Not Tetley. Both coffee and tea have gone high quality, and most of us drink at least one of them. Good coffee can cost a fortune (kopi luwak can cost up to $500 for a single pound), but you don’t have to go that route. Find a local or nearby roastery (avoid chains like Starbucks if possible…there are plenty of small retailers making organic, fair trade, and unique coffees), and ask them for a suggestion.

Light roast, medium roast, dark roast. Does your coffee aficionado client enjoy bold flavours or subtle notes? For the tea drinker, look to David’s Tea or Tealicious for a gift set or special blend. Generally speaking, loose leaf tea is higher quality than tea bags. You might also consider getting an ornate teapot or coffee press, too. Presentation is important here…don’t just plop a bag of coffee or a box of tea on their desk and call it a day.

6. Pen Gift Set

We don’t write as much as we used to in the past. We type. Or dictate. But that shouldn’t stop you from looking at a high-quality pen set from a company like Cross or Parker. These pens are not the cheap, disposable crap that we see in the office supply stores. And while it’s not something most people ever think about, if you’ve ever written with a good, refillable pen, you’ll wonder why anyone would ever go the Bic route.

It’s a whole different experience. Silver, gold, matte black, bright colours…there’s a style for every personality. You can even find an old-fashioned stylus pen that requires an ink bottle. While not for everyone on your client gift list, some of them might just adore something like that. It’s a throwback to a simpler time.

7. A Truly Unique and Specific Gift

You know your clients better than I do. What one thing has your client been talking about lately? What item, knickknack, device, service, or whatever do you know that they would just love to receive? Get that. Have you noticed that their tablet cover needs replacing? Or that their favourite coffee mug has a crack in it?

Do you know that their son loves the Pittsburgh Penguins (and they’re coming to town in a few weeks)? The more you know about your client – the stronger that relationship – the better you can think of something absolutely specific to them and them alone. That speaks volumes to your attitude towards your customers.

See Also: Top 5 Gift Ideas for Your Colleague’s Birthday

A gift is a reflection of your company or business. You want it to be thoughtful, memorable and reflect that relationship. Taking a bit more time to find something unique for them will pay dividends down the road. Relationships, both professional and personal, take time to build, and effort to maintain. Show that you care about more than just the dollars with one of these 7 suggestions.

Is there anything you’d add to the list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below…

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Back in January 2014, Time reported that 44 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. That means that nearly half of all Americans don’t have the financial cushion to handle a job loss, a major illness, a natural disaster, or some other unforeseen expense. If you approach the end of every month by holding your breath, crossing your fingers and praying for no unexpected expenses, this may be the right time to start an emergency fund.

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is money you set aside to cover one of two scenarios: a drop in your income (like losing your job), or an expense you can’t avoid. That could include car repairs, an insurance deductible, travel expenses due to a family emergency, etc. (Replacing a broken TV does not count as an emergency.) While financial advisors used to suggest that everyone set aside three months’ salary, they’re now saying that six months’ salary is safer and more realistic. Whatever amount you choose to save, what you do with it is equally important. Good emergency funds have several related characteristics in common:

Accessibility

Since you’re only supposed to access the money in a true emergency, it makes sense that it would be something you can get to quickly – after all, emergencies don’t limit themselves to banking hours. If you can access your account online, you can always do a wire transfer to your regular account; there are, however, fees associated with that. A better option, if you have enough self-control, is an account with a debit card and/or checks.

Liquidity

Liquidity is similar to accessibility. It refers to how long it takes to convert funds to cash. While investing in CDs, mutual funds, or bonds might bring you a higher return, it can take a while to convert those accounts to cash. A safer idea is an interest-paying savings account. It won’t pay much, but you’ll be able to use the cash if you need it.

Low risk

Risk refers to the likelihood that, at the moment you need to sell it, your investment will be worth less than you put in. That could happen, for instance, if you invested your emergency fund in a stock and the stock price dropped. Once again, savings accounts come out ahead here. Just be sure to read the Terms of Service and that you understand all of the particulars.

How do you get started?

You may be thinking, “That makes a lot of sense, but how do I find room in my budget?” Here are some tips.

Make it invisible

It’s easier to save if you never see the money. Find out whether your employer has an automatic savings plan where they just take the money out of your paycheck. If not, you can set up an automatic transfer with your bank so that they move a specified amount from your checking account to your savings account on a regular basis.

Crank it up a notch

Once you’re used to your smaller paycheck, raise the amount you transfer to savings each month. Even if it’s only an extra $5 or $10, it adds up.

Take advantage of windfalls

Any “extra” income should go straight into your emergency fund. Common sources of “windfalls” are employee bonuses and tax refunds. In addition, some higher-paid Americans (who may still be living paycheck-to-paycheck) max out on their Social Security contributions at some point during the year. From that date until January 1st, they’ll see a substantial increase in their take-home pay. If you’re fortunate enough to meet that hurdle (the dollar amount changes yearly), put the additional money from each check into your emergency fund. This will also cushion the blow when your cheque drops back down to the normal amount in January. Do the same thing if you pay off a debt. Put the amount you were paying toward that debt into your emergency fund.

These suggestions should help you choose an emergency fund strategy and get started putting money into it. But there’s one more thing you need to know: when to quit. When you’ve reached your goal – a six-month cushion, for instance – start putting your “emergency fund donation” into a higher-yield account, like a mutual fund. If you need it, you’ll have time to liquidate in a way that makes sense instead of panicking.

Do you have an emergency fund? What tips do you have to share?

 

Image: flickr via stockmonkeys.com, 2013

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Odlaw is making waves in the street art community

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It’s hard to believe, but at one point Odlaw didn’t even want to share his art with the world. Now, he’s making custom pieces for LA high-rollers and planning shows at the biggest street art galleries in the world. If you don’t know about Odlaw, it’s time to get familiar.

From staying after school painting to commissioned art pieces

From staying after school painting to commissioned art pieces

Odlaw has been developing his art skills ever since his sophomore year of high school. He took one particularly inspiring art class, and he found himself staying after school frequently, painting and drawing. He started falling in love with art and creative expression

Reintroduction of a childhood icon

Reintroduction of a childhood icon

As Odlaw honed his personal creative vision, he remembered his fondness for Waldo. As a child, he was interested in the books, and would work to find him, just like the rest of us. As an adult, he began to think more about WHO Waldo was opposed to where he was. What does he do?

Waldo through a pop-art perspective

Waldo through a pop-art perspective

Shown above are Odlaw’s first paintings of Waldo, with clear influences from Andy Warhol and his iconic paintings of pop figures. Odlaw wants “to put Waldo everywhere and tell his story through a pop art perspective,” which he has certainly done above. He list other influences as Basquiat, Damien Hirst, and Murakami among others.

What we use for selfies, Odlaw used to build a career

What we use for selfies, Odlaw used to build a career

Odlaw described himself as originally a “closet artist,” or someone that didn’t care for his work to be shown. He was satisfied developing his art privately. At one point, he “got bored” and created his own instagram account, posting his work on there. As people began discovering his work and talent, word of his skills spread, and Odlaw found himself with quite a following. After that, inquiries about his work “took off.” He recommends aspiring artists utilize social media, but only if they’re ready. He says they should put in the work on their art and on their personal style, and they’ll “know then they’re ready” to put their art online.

A place among his heroes

A place among his heroes

The above piece hangs at a private collector’s home in LA, and Odlaw counts it among his favorite places that feature his art. He had never worked on metal before, so he had to experiment in a new medium, something he is keen on doing. He went to a metal fabrication shop and painstakingly created this metallic masterpiece. It is now featured in this home with artists Odlaw looks up, such as RETNA.

An upcoming show in the world’s premiere gallery for street art

An upcoming show in the world

The Lab Art Gallery in LA is the “largest gallery in the nation dedicated to street art.” It features over 11,000 square feet of some of the most original works from both established and rising stars in the street art community. Odlaw told us his first big show is coming sometime this September, front and center at Lab Art. The works shown will display Odlaw’s skills in various mediums. We can also look forward to other Warhol-influenced pieces at that show. One month after that, Odlaw’s work will be shown at the ultra-prestigious Art Basel in Miami, where he’ll be doing a master series with takes on artists like Dali and Picasso, in whatever mediums they use.

Odlaw is donating his talents to charity!

Odlaw is donating his talents to charity!

Odlaw is putting together a special piece for the Steve Aoki charity poker tournament this Saturday! A custom piece from Odlaw, valued at $10,000.00 (and only increasing in value with Odlaw’s popularity), is an amazing prize you could win for supporting charity. Aoki says the proceeds will go to supporting brain research, something we can all get behind.

Check out a sneak peak of the 18kt gold leaf piece Odlaw is custom making for the tournament!

A video posted by Odlaw (@odlaw) on

Whatever Odlaw does next, we’ll be watching!

And you should be too.

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See Also: How to Create an Effective Online Identity

Don’t just sit around waiting until someone discovers you; you should be improving yourself and, in the meantime, distracting people from what you don’t know by shouting about what you do know. Don’t become known as the person who knows nothing about X; be known as the person they can have an intelligent conversation with for Y.

Do you have the self-belief to convince others that you’re an expert? Let us know below…;

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See Also: Top Ten Websites to Find Freelance Work

For most of us, leaving university means the last time we will ever feel that adrenaline pumping deadline looming panic that can only be brought on by a particularly dreadful assignment. No amount of money would have me doing that again once I walked out of those doors for the last time.

But for others doing other people’s homework can be a nifty money making idea, during or after studies. Ethics aside, student life is hectic these days, and there is definitely a good number of people willing to pay for someone to help them get the grades they need to succeed. And like everything else on the internet – where there is demand, supply will shortly follow, and a market place will flourish. If you’re smart enough to do it, why not get paid to do some homework assignments? Relive the good old days of pulling a caffeine fuelled all nighter to get those last few hundred words knocked out in time for the next morning’s deadline. At least this time there will be a pay cheque at the end.

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Ozy Presents No-Fail Tips For Your Perfect Cookie

Relying on help from some experts and by using the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, Ozy gives us some tweaks in achieving exactly what we want in a cookie.

How Do I Love My Cookies? Let Me Count The Ways….

How Do I Love My Cookies? Let Me Count The Ways....

Whichever Way You Like It, Here’s The Breakdown:

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 14 teaspoon baking powder and 14 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 34 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More rich: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.

Yahoo

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Everyone’s metabolism is different and genetics plays a major role in how fast your body burns fat. However, there are several lifestyle choices you can make that will give your metabolism an added boost.

Exercising, getting at least eight hours of sleep each night and adding more of the foods below to your diet are all key factors that will help keep off the extra pounds.

CHILI PEPPERS

CHILI PEPPERS

Adding hot peppers to your daily diet is a great way to give your meals a flavorful kick. A major bonus is that they contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that is known to increase metabolism as well as blood circulation. Peppers are also very high in Vitamins A, C and B-6.

GREEN TEA

GREEN TEA

Numerous scientific studies have proven that green tea will boost a person’s metabolism. It contains a compound called EGCG that also acts as a potent antioxidant.

BROCCOLI

BROCCOLI

Vegetables high in fiber and water like broccoli will help you feel full and can increase fat burning by up to 30%. This cruciferous plant is also very high in Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several antioxidants.

LENTILS

LENTILS

If your body is iron-deficient, it is unable to work properly and won’t burn as many calories. A cup of lentils will provide roughly a third of your recommended daily iron intake. They are also known to reduce blood cholesterol due to their high levels of soluble fiber.

GARLIC

GARLIC

The ability of garlic to break down fat makes it an ideal food choice if you’re looking to increase your metabolism. In addition, garlic has been proven to increase levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that can prevent liver damage.

WHOLE GRAINS

WHOLE GRAINS

It is more difficult for your body to break down whole grains — therefore, you burn more fat in the process. Many are also high in fiber which adds to your metabolic boost.

MILK

MILK

It’s true that milk does a body good. Studies have shown that food and beverages high in calcium help your body metabolize more fat. Milk is also a good source of riboflavin, thiamin and several essential vitamins.

COFFEE

COFFEE

Numerous studies have proven that coffee can increase your metabolism — and you should opt for regular, not decaf. Evidence suggests that regular coffee drinkers can increase their fat-burning rate by up to 16% over decaf drinkers. Caffeine can also improve exercise performance by as much as 12%.

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Judging Hurts More Than It Heals

If there is anything I cannot stand it is the judgment of people from a high-brow condescending standpoint. And this usually comes from those that have made their place in the world with hard work, or maybe their parents or significant others founded their trust funds and fat lines of credit. Regardless of the way that anyone has made it “to the top,” I still don’t fathom treating people as you would not want to be treated.

This is the crux of the issue.

We are judgmental people; we have been for years. Of course, there are “good” judgments, and there are “bad” judgments. And when we judge people, it usually comes from being safe and secure. Or it comes from being opinionated. There is no shortage of opinions in this country. But there certainly is a shortage of kindness, compassion and understanding.

We want so badly to be accepted in our worlds, and to be appreciated for who we are as people. However, we are unbalanced when we do not give the same kind of respect to others that we seek for ourselves. Many of us want to be seen in ways that make us feel good and worthy. Yet there are so many of us that talk down to people, or talk behind the backs of others. Is it to exercise our opinions? Is it to release ourselves from the annoyances of having to deal with the ignorant jackasses who surround our better worlds?

I don’t know. But I do know what the laws of this universe mean to me. And it’s not just because Jesus said so, that we get exactly as we do and give to others. The universe was around a long time before Christianity took hold.

Why, then, do we so quickly use our words in negative ways when describing some of the people we have encountered? Why don’t we ever use a little bit of patience in trying to see where other people are coming from?

Because this world wasn’t made for that, at least not today’s world. Modernity teaches us that we must compete with each other, and that human error and dissonance with knowing one’s self makes that person less likeable and maybe even a bother to have to deal with. Though where does that get us? Nowhere. When we could be helping each other, talking to one another, listening, learning, deepening our knowledge of our brothers and sisters, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, co-workers, bosses, managers, strangers … we just criticize and judge.

To me, this seems just about as ignorant as the people we are condemning.

A Nation Full of (Counterproductive) Assholes

And so be it. That’s the way the world works. It’s just that if we want to see something change or if we want to be treated and respected in a certain way — the way we handle and deal with those notions seems to be counterproductive, if I may use such a silly and shitty word.

One might assume that a majority of us are selfish, narrow-minded and catty. But that would just make an asshole out of you and me…

But when I was growing up, there were things that happened to me that altered who I was, what I was doing with my life, and how I thought about the world, my work, and my surroundings. While this was taking place, I never gave a thought to what it would mean for my future dealings with the human species. I had no idea how I would come to be judged, and with such opinionated fervor.

Christ, no wonder! I wasn’t exactly like everybody else….

It was true. I was becoming “different.” And I was referred to as strange, although I hardly understood why. I never thought about it, really. Until people started making me feel like there was something wrong with me. Until people started judging me for my actions, decisions and lifestyle choices — I never considered them to be right or wrong. That’s not to say that I was an immoral libertine, not giving a fucking about anything. When you mature, you tend to care a little more about what you do, what you say, and how you act.

But as I aged, and I gained experience in dealing with different types of people, from all walks of life, I realized that there was a certain amount of judging going on, about me, from people that didn’t even really know me! It woke me up, not only to myself, but I could see how off-balance a lot of people were — especially those that thought they were doing just fine in their own lives.

What a fu**ing charade, I thought. It was making me bitter. And I never thought I’d feel that way. Just having to deal with people and their judgments made me feel like I couldn’t be myself. I didn’t like that. And who would?

Well, I had to deal with it. The world is the way it is because of the people who inhabit it. When we judge each other — are we making the world a better place?

Do we even give a shit about that?

Growing from it is all I learned to do. That and keeping my mouth shut. Because anybody that judges you without getting to know who you really are and what you really believe — and what your past experiences were like — I can’t see why we should have to care too much about anything based on shallow opinions and inferences.

We shouldn’t have to feel like we have to prove ourselves to other people, in order to feel good about who we are and what we are doing with our lives.

This happens in many facets of society, not just in the workplace. Where we judge before we take the time to understand. And maybe that’s just built into us. And maybe there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe the world is full of ignorant and careless beings. No kidding.

But how we respond to that says a lot about us.

If we can’t let people live, or if we find so many reasons to be critical about all the personalities which surround us, why are we so expectant of being accepted and appreciated for who we are and what we do?

To me, it’s that simple: if you want respect, you have to give it. Otherwise you are blocking it from happening in your own life. And if you want patient understanding from those around you, you have to be patient and understanding with them.

For some reason, we don’t feel like being that way. Most of us.

I guess it’s just easier to be an asshole. I guess it’s just easier to judge.

While We Stand Aside And Look

Romans responded aggressively, thousands of years ago, to somebody who preached peace and love and understanding.

How far have we really come?

And the point here is this: when we judge and gossip we only push those people away, alienating them or making them feel less than whom or what they really are. Some of us take longer to figure out what we want to do with our lives.

And some of us have things buried in the past that affected us in ways that only the psychologist can really make sense of.

Judging people might be fun and easy, especially for those that are blind to themselves. But it doesn’t really solve or prove anything other than the fact that the world is full of assholes.

Who cares? Those people who are judged for their lives.

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Concluding Assholism”s Karmic Implications

If we want a better society, or if we want the world to be better for our children and for ourselves, then we could start by being a little more understanding of the psychological scars that the species still retains on its consciousness. Instead of adding to them.

Sometimes work and finances get placed on the back-burner, when it comes to dealing with simply being a human. And sometimes finding ourselves becomes complicated, when adjusting for inflation.

And whose fault is that?

We can”t really expect to get better and become more productive if we are constantly judging people for their faults, flaws, mistakes and inconsistencies. But we can change the way we deal with all of that, especially considering, as human beings, what we are up against.

An unquantifiable amount of variables which we ignore or reject, without trying to contemplate and find understanding.

Maybe a solution isn”t reachable for every circumstance. But I”ll leave off with this, a Justin Timberlake quote:

“What goes around goes around goes around comes all the way back around...”

 

 

Image Sourced: Don”t Judge Burning the Past

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Whiskeys aged for over 30-40 years or more can get pretty expensive. Bottles of selected brands such as Glenfarclas 1955, 50 years old, Glenfiddich 1937, or Dalmore 62 Single Hiland Malt Scotch can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Macallan 194, 64 years old, is the most expensive whiskey in the world, setting the record last year by selling for $460,000 a bottle. We sat down with Tommy Tardie, owner of the Flatiron Room, an upscale bar in New York offering some 750 different varieties of whiskey, to understand what makes one whiskey more expensive than another, and to find out the proper way to taste whiskey.

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Everybody has experienced a dip in productivity at least once in their professional lives. It’s simply inevitable: after performing the same dull tasks from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, our inspiration runs dry, and our motivation throws itself out the seventh-floor window. And while some of us head over to the water cooler to get the latest office gossip or turn to awesome websites to waste time when that happens, there are a select few who take killing time at work to a whole new level by turning laziness into an art form.

See Also: 4 Lies to Use When You Really Don’t Want to Go to Work

1. Howard Dean

You’ve skipped work at least once – go on, admit it. We all have! Howard Dean, on the other hand, managed to skip work a total of 884 times – and didn’t get caught for 17 years.

Dean, the food services director at the Department of Correctional Services in New York, took “casual Friday” to a whole new level by taking every Friday off for 17 years, something that went unnoticed until his retirement in 2008. His three-day long weekends ended up costing the US government some $500,000 – $240,000 of which was spent on gas money and 75 bogus hotel stays.

2. William Morse

Mike the Mailman
Matthew Coughlin Photography

Delivering mail can be quite physically demanding, so it’s best that you don’t apply for a job as a letter carrier if you get easily exhausted. But that never stopped William “Brent” Morse from getting a job with the US Postal Service in Kentucky, a job he had held for five years before he was arrested in March 2013 for failing to deliver mail.

Morse had seemingly wanted to shorten his route, so he ended up stashing almost 45,000 pieces of mail in his dead mother’s house and a rented storage unit. He was sentenced to six months in prison and a further six months’ home incarceration and was ordered to pay $14,808.01 in restitution to residents, a bank, and two local businesses for their losses.

3. Emmalee Bauer

When you have the inspiration to write, you write. But Sheraton Hotels sales coordinator in Iowa, Emmalee Bauer, was told not to use company time to write in her journal, an order that she obeyed. Except that she went on to use her work computer to pen a 300-page book on how boring her job was and on her efforts to avoid work.

“This typing thing seems to be doing the trick,” she wrote. “It just looks like I am hard at work on something very important…; I can shop online, play games and read message boards, and still get paid for it”. Unfortunately for Bauer, however, she was eventually discovered and fired on the spot and was later refused unemployment benefits.

4. Gary Pivoda and Louis Marciano

Quick! To the Man Cave!

As opposed to Dean, Office of General Services janitor Gary Pivoda and his supervisor Louis Marciano showed up for work every day. But that doesn’t mean they actually did any work; they simply smoked marijuana, watched TV, and played board games in their secret makeshift “man cave.” They even used their state-provided car to deliver drugs to other state employees.

They are both banned from ever working for the state again and were collectively ordered to pay over $3,000 in restitution. Pivoda was charged with defrauding the US government and served a year in prison in 2009 while Marciano was sentenced to five years’ probation and 250 hours’ community work.

5. Ray Brent Marsh

This is definitely the most disturbing case of lazing around on the job, ever.

Ray Brent Marsh took over his father’s crematorium business in LaFayette, Georgia in mid-1996 after Marsh Sr.’s health started deteriorating. Between 1996 and up until 2002, Marsh had received over 2,000 bodies for cremation – at least 339 of which, however, were never cremated and were instead dumped on the crematorium’s site because, apparently, the cremation oven was “broken”…; even though it was in working order when it was tested.

Beginning in October 2000, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office began receiving reports of scattered bodies and body parts around the Tri-State Crematory – piles of rotting flesh were discovered in a storage shed and vaults in February 2002 –and in nearby woods and buildings.

Marsh faced a sentence of thousands of years in prison and pleaded guilty in 2004 to 787 counts of criminal violations, including deception, abusing a corpse (that just sounds wrong), and burial service-related fraud.

See Also: 5 Awesome Jobs for Lazy People

How far would you go to laze around at work? Can you think of any other lazy employees worth mentioning? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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According to a new study, Americans aren’t quite as classy as we may have thought – at least not when it comes to first dates.

The Clover dating app interpreted data from 200,000 users to determine the most popular locations for an initial rendezvous and the results may surprise you. Apparently, enjoying an upscale club or dining at a fancy restaurant is only in the cards for those on “The Millionaire Matchmaker.”

Would you believe that the #30 most popular place to go on a first date is…

#30. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN

#30. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN

CPK? Really? Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of my regular dining spots. It’s just not somewhere I’d take a girl on a first date.

According to Clover CEO Isaac Raichyk, “We expected fine dining, bars, and nightclubs to rank much higher, but clearly people want to meet in a relaxed environment.”

That must be true as you’ll see in positions 29-24 below.

29. 16 Handles

28. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

27. Bareburger

26. Mellow Mushroom

25. Torchy’s Tacos

24. Dutch Bros. Coffee

Number 23 on the list must be where people step up their game a bit though, right?

#23. YOGURTLAND

#23. YOGURTLAND

Er, not quite. While I am also a Yogurtland fan, this choice just reeks of “cheap bastardness.” We can only hope that those who picked it chose a location outside of a mall.

Let’s see if things improve with selections 22-17.

22. P.F. Chang’s

21. Yard House

20. Tender Greens

19. Philz Coffee

18. Outback Steakhouse

17. Tim Hortons

Things seemed to be heading in the right direction… until a coffee shop popped up. According to research by Clover, 51% of men prefer to initially meet at restaurants, while 52% of women prefer coffee shops. I’ve still got hope though. Let’s see what’s next.

#16. RED LOBSTER

#16. RED LOBSTER

Finally, some progress… I think. After all, lobster is definitely a step up from cappuccino. A fancier seafood restaurant would be nice, but at this point, users can’t complain. Whoever orchestrated this idea is on a fast track to a second date. (Although maybe not in Los Angeles.)

What have we got for numbers 15-10 on the list?

15. Peet’s Coffee & Tea

14. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

13. Five Guys

12. LongHorn Steakhouse

11. Blue Bottle Coffee

10. Applebee’s

Two more coffee shops? Hmm, I think I see where this is going. Let’s take a look at the next highest-ranking date spot.

#9. IN-N-OUT BURGER

#9. IN-N-OUT BURGER

If you’re gonna be chintzy, you might as well go for “tasty chintzy.” In-N-Out fits the bill just fine.

OK, now we’re heading into the stretch run. Let’s take a peek at which eateries placed in the 8-2 positions.

8. Chili’s Grill & Bar

7. Olive Garden

6. Buffalo Wild Wings

5. Texas Roadhouse

4. The Cheesecake Factory

3. Panera Bread

2. Chipotle Mexican Grill

This is it. Time for the big reveal. Before seeing numbers 30-2, I would never have guessed that this would be the #1 location in the country to take a first date. However, after reading the previous entries, the top spot is rather predictable.

And the winner is…

#1. STARBUCKS

#1. STARBUCKS

Ladies, if this is where most guys are taking you for your first tryst, you might just want to stay single.

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Did you know that the average American worker spends about an hour a day commuting? While that’s just a median number, most people need more time to get to work, and some even spend up to three or four hours traveling back and forth from home to work during rush hour. From these figures, it is evident that commuting is a big waste of time and also a massive problem for workers. But this isn’t the only bad news in regards to commuting.

No matter if you are driving to work, taking the bus or train; studies have shown that commuting can seriously affect your wellbeing. In fact, a link between travel and burnout has been identified that shows how commuting can have a serious impact on your physical and emotional health. For all you know commuting maybe the reason you are feeling so tired and performing poorly at work.

See Also: 6 Exercises You Can Do During Your Morning Commute

If you want to know if your commute is killing you, read on:

#1 It Affects Your Sleep

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You’re more likely to get lower quality sleep if you take a long time to get to work. According to the 2012 Regus Work-Life Balance Index, people who spend more than 45 minutes traveling to work had lower quality sleep and were more exhausted than those who had shorter commutes. People who use any type of transportation to get to work and traveled at least 15 miles go to bed 28 minutes earlier and wake up 50 minutes earlier than their peers.

#2 It Makes You Put on Weight

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A study of more than 4,000 participants in Texas found that people with longer commutes had lower levels of fitness and physical activity. It makes sense considering that one to two hours a day are spent sitting on a bus or in the driver’s seat and then another eight hours sitting in front of a computer. Hours you could have easily spent at the gym. On top of that commuting makes your body weaker as it causes you back and neck pain that could be affecting your posture.

#3 It Changes Your Mood

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Your daily commute may be affecting your happiness levels and your life satisfaction. As research shows people with commutes of any length experienced lower life satisfaction and happiness than people with no commutes at all. But this doesn’t apply to people who walk or cycle to work who had better mental health scores. Another study by the University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Cooper Institute found out that people that have a 10-mile commute have more chance of experiencing depression and social isolation.

#4 It Stresses You Out

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Commuting isn’t the highlight of anyone’s day and it’s no wonder it was labeled the ‘stress that doesn’t pay’. Researchers found a commute of more than twenty minutes can make you more anxious, cynical and less productive at work. In the long run, long commutes can make you more susceptible to chronic stress. The severity of the problem hugely depends on your workplace and the conditions in which the trip takes place. Another study showed that people travelling by car felt more stressed out while driving through the city as opposed to those travelling in or towards rural areas. Interestingly those who are sharing the trip and were passengers experienced greater stress because of a lower sense of control.

See Also: Commuting to Work – Driving vs. Public Transport

Companies might be able to help employees with commuting by introducing more flexible arrangements. This should allow workers to be less stressed and more efficient in their work.

Do you think commuting might be killing you? If yes how so? Let me know in the comments section below…;