Most everything I’m about to say here is obvious to someone - but the sum of it is (hopefully) not obvious to everyone. This is kind of a catch-all of the little advice that’s too small for its own entry but still useful. None of these are “life hacks”, just sane advice.
- Use a real facial cleanser when you shower and wash your face daily. The exact brand and whatnot doesn’t matter, but the improvement of using a decent facial cleanser over just bar soap is significant. Most of these are low cost, come in endless varieties and will improve your face.
- Bar soap is cheaper, just as effective, and stores way better than liquid body washes. It also usually has much less scent on it.
- Learn how to file your nails correctly and file them immediately after you clip them. No more snagging and tearing fingernails in the gym or during boxing.
- Buy some decent stainless steel (preferably Japanese) nail clippers too, and stop leaving them in your shower.
- Regardless of what you shave, Dorco razors are what you should be using. Dorco actually supplies the razors (and handles) for most expensive mail-order razor services, but you can buy their direct brand very cheaply and with the same quality. Dorco is almost certainly what your barber uses for their shaving blades.
- Shaving balms (really, any of them) will help if you tend get razor burn. Many of them tend to be strongly scented for better or worse.
- Use a good shaving cream. It’s worth buying a half dozen from your local store and finding your favorite since there’s actually a lot of variation between shaving creams.
- Buy good scissors for any hair trimming you do. You should be spending at least $40 or so, and the scissors should be sharp enough you can easily clip hairs with no force. Good scissors can be sharpened by the same folks who sharpen your kitchen knives.
- Find your face shape and groom your hair and facial hair accordingly.
Cooking and Nutrition
- Packaged, prepared foods are significantly worse for you than you making the identical dish at home. If you don’t believe me, check the nutrition labels next time you go to the grocery store. If you have some junky foods you like but want to slim down some, just recreate them at home and watch portion sizes.
- When you’re at the grocery store you want to buy raw proteins (meat, fish, tofu, etc), raw vegetables (it’s fine if they’re pre-trimmed or washed) and basic carbs (dry pasta, grains, rice, etc). Extremely cheap, very healthy and tastier than a tv dinner.
- The basic recipe for a decent meal is a carb, a protein and a vegetable. Ideally you mostly want to fill up on vegetables, but carbs tend to be cheap and easy. One pot meals (either in an Instapot or just a literal pot on your oven) can be assembled in about twenty minutes for a few dollars, can feed an army and are very healthy.
- The very fit and the supermodal skinny kind of folks eat pretty much how I just described, but smaller overall portion sizes and they skip the snacks.
- Alcohol, candy and sweets, and fats (eg cheeses) are calorie dense. You can have them, just watch quantity. I find I have better self control when I regularly allow myself to have a small amount - a bit of ice cream after dinner daily.
- Whipped cream has very few calories and is very sweet. It goes well on almost everything, and whipped cream and plain fruit is a pretty solid diet dessert option.
- When cooking, don’t be afraid of high heat. High heat is how we add texture to dishes. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat are the levers to making food taste good. Especially don’t be afraid of acids - high quality vinegar is cheap and life changing.
More Cooking Advice
- Cast iron cookware is indestructible, very cheap (and used cast iron is perfectly good) and will outperform any $100 or $200 cookware you can find on the market in terms of heat retention and final product.
- Have at least one good kitchen knife and treat it well. Victorinox (makers of the swiss army knife) have a series of knives called the “Fibrox” that are cheap and mainstays of most commercial kitchens.
- Preheat. Preheat your skillet before you put stuff in it. Preheat your oven before you put food in it. It’ll make food stick less and give better browning.
- When it comes to cooking tough things, whether it’s kale or barley, you can either use a bunch of time or add acid. You want to add acid. Apple cider vinegar adds a nice tang, white wine vinegar enhances richness and tomatoes start acidic but become sweet when sufficiently cooked.
- The slow cooker is the lowest effort way of cooking and it consistently produces some of the best results. Add ingredients, cover with liquid (usually broth), cook a few hours until done.
- Sous vide is how expensive steak places make amazing steak. It’s also extremely easy, works for almost every meat and vegetable, can be very healthy and is very convenient for bulk cooking lots of food. Only downside is initial cost and the need to plan ahead a bit.
- If you want to meal prep but need variety, use different sauces for different meals.
Stress and Life Management
- Keep a journal and write in it frequently. If your entry is the days date followed by the word “fuck”, that’s fine - just write. When you go to write your next entry, read your last one. Look for patterns.
- Exercise is the single greatest stress reliever, it has no downsides if done correctly, and it will give you more energy and address many health issues. Find the exercise you want to do and do it - swimming and martial arts are both a lot of fun.
- Melatonin is one of the most effective, natural sleep aids. It’s sold at every grocery store and pharmacy over the counter, is cheaper than gum and has no habit-forming component. It’s effects can be neutralized by looking at a bright light, including sun light. Take 0.5mg (yes, that little) an hour before bed and put away any screens. Further Reading. Don’t combine melatonin and alcohol.
- Dedicate an evening a week to intentional downtime and relaxation. It’s a great time to write in your journal, read something inspirational to you, or just listen to a bit of music. Turn off your phone if you can’t resist social media or the news. Avoid TV and movies.
- Your phone should generally be dark, silent and out of sight. Turn off all notifications, disable all sounds, remove animations and keep your home screen free of tempting apps or timewasters. Android, iOS.
- Alcohol doesn’t make you less stressed or anxious. Alcohol is a mood enhancer, and like all mood enhancers you will feel worse sobering up from it than you felt before you used it. Think of alcohol as a drug that delays stress but with an added tax. Alcohol will also trash your sleep (which will make you more stressed as well..)
- A lack of sleep, even a really modest lack of sleep can have major health consequences. Small sleep deficits result in significantly impaired decision making. Chronic insomnia results in much higher risk of cardiovascular and stroke events. Stress impairs sleep, impaired sleep causes stress.
- Your bed is for sleeping and having sex. Anything and everything else (work, television, twitter) is forbidden in bed. Your bedroom should have no screens, it should have no light at bedtime and it should be relatively silent. Fans help drown out noise quite well, and actual whitenoise machines are cheap.
- If you can’t fall asleep after about an hour of trying, stop trying. Get out of bed, go to another room, turn on a light and read a book for twenty minutes. Try to go to bed again. Repeat as needed.
- Social media is a trap. It’s designed to keep you “engaged” by showing you controversial content that will get you riled up. “The only winning move is not to play.”
- Never tell someone how much money you make (with a caveat1) or how much you have. At best you’ll inspire envy, at worst you’ll become a target.
- You should never pay for banking services. Avoid banks with too many fees. Consider a credit union. Always check the fee schedule before opening an account.
- Never carry debt on a credit card if possible. Avoid high interest loans. When paying off debt, pay off the highest interest debt first.
- You can never out-earn bad spending habits. Or put another way, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, you can always spend it faster than you earn it.
- Keep 6 months of expenses in a savings account. Don’t touch it. It’s not a vacation fund, it’s not a Christmas fund, it’s for life or death emergencies. Rebuild it as soon as you can upon use.
- Your job requires you to work for your pay. Passive income on the other hand generally doesn’t require much effort or time once established. Building passive income is not easy but is very valuable.
- Never co-sign a loan or mortgage unless you are willing to be responsible for the debt in full. No, really just don’t.
- Expect loans to family or friends to be unpaid. Never loan more than you are willing to give (or put another way, never loan more than you are willing to lose). Always get loans in writing - but realize enforcing them will lose you a friend or family member.
- Everything has a cost, not only an upfront cost, but a cost of maintenance and upkeep. Include this in your math. Everything has a lifetime, and you should think about the lifetime cost of everything you buy. The cheapest option is always not buying something.
- It is often better to spend more to get a better product the first time. “Buy once, cry once”. When you don’t know what you need or want, then you should experiment with low cost options first.
- Never trust a financial advisor if they aren’t acting as a fiduciary.
I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. The following is my layman’s understanding.
- Read any document you sign before you sign it. Always retain a copy. If you need to bring it home and take a day or two to read and understand it, do it. Never sign something if you can’t take a day to read it first.
- You can always hire a lawyer to help read and explain a document to you. You can always ask a lawyer for advice on a document. Even if a document says you can’t do this - you can and any clauses such as these are unenforceable in court and typically an indicator of bad faith. Most lawyers don’t charge very much for this service, and some will do it freely if you’re broke.
- Just because something is written down doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because someone in a uniform tells you something is “policy” doesn’t mean it’s true or legal. It’s on you to understand the law and your rights - but you’re allowed to ask for help.
- The above point applies doubly to landlords. Know your rights.
- Never talk to the police. Always choose the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. Note that in most states you are required to identify yourself to police.
Sometimes disclosing your salary to coworkers can be useful for gauging relative pay. Note that it’s illegal in the US for an employer to prohibit or punish you disclosing your salary or pay. ↩︎