#SWAAYthenarrative
4 Min Read
Lifestyle

Making the decision to move in together is a big milestone in a relationship. Not only are you going to have more time together as a couple, but you'll also save money on rent, utilities, and most of your other monthly bills.

As exciting as combining two households can be, it can also be stressful if you're not prepared. Below are a few tips to help make moving in together easier and a little less stressful for both you and your partner.

1. Know Your Living Styles

Understanding your partner's day-to-day habits and routines will help you prepare before you live in the same space, eliminating any surprises. Late-night TV watching or midnight snacking in bed are examples of habits to bring up prior to moving in.

2. Make A Money Plan

Money is one of the biggest reasons for conflict with couples. Talking through each other's financial situations is a first step to better understanding spending habits, income, debt, and credit history.

Not only are you going to have more time together as a couple, but you'll also save money on rent, utilities, and most of your other monthly bills.

Below Are A Few Other Items To Review Together:

How will the bills be split? This is an important question, especially if one person makes significantly more money than the other. Is it a 50/50 split? Does one person pay the mortgage or rent and the other the utilities?

What is our monthly budget? Setting up a monthly budget will eliminate any uncertainty about where money is going or how it's being spent. Rent, utilities, food, and transport are all items you'll plan for, but be sure to also budget for entertainment and other spending and agree to not make large purchases without checking with each other.

What are our savings priorities? Now that you're saving a little extra because there's only one place to pay for, you can save some money for other priorities. Is a new car or a vacation needed in the future? Start that planning now.

3. Decide Where To Live

Ideally, find a new place the two of you can move into together. Having a clean slate allows each partner to visualize how the new home will feel, and both people can share opinions on how much space is needed and how to decorate.

Look at this move as a new beginning for you and your partner, and let go of the things you don't need.

If you decide to live in one partner's already-established home, which can be a great option for saving money, prepare plenty of space in the closet and bathroom, and plan to redecorate as if it's a new home — we'll have more on this later.

4. Sort Through Your Stuff

Once you have a good idea about the size of place you're going to be sharing, it's time to take inventory of each other's personal items. There are probably items you each have that you won't need two of in your new home, such as couches, cooking utensils, and beds, so determine what to keep, what to sell or donate, and what to toss.

Don't wait to get to your new home to sort through your stuff. You'll not only be moving items you won't need, but you'll have a harder time letting go of personal items once you get them to your new space. Look at this move as a new beginning for you and your partner, and let go of the things you don't need.

5. Establish Rules For Chores And House Keeping

Discussing household chores or how bills will be paid isn't a glamorous part of a relationship, but setting a few clear household rules will help avoid conflict later. Once those guidelines are in place, each partner will understand what's expected. Do you like the bed made every day? Compromise by determining that the last person out of the bed every morning makes the bed. Don't like taking out the trash? Offer to clean the bathroom weekly if the other person will dump the garbage.

6. Decorate Your Place Together

Both partners want to feel welcome and invested in their new place. This is especially true if one person is moving into the other's home. Your new space should be a statement of who the two of you are together rather than one person's décor with a few things from the other person sprinkled in. Compromise so each of you can feel at home.

This is a great opportunity for purchasing a few upgrades that make your lives easier or more comfortable. If you have the means, invest in a couple of new furniture pieces to complement your shared space. Smart devices such as TVs, coffee makers, and smart home hubs can help make everyday tasks more convenient for both of you without breaking the bank. Painting a few accent walls is another low-budget way to make your house feel more like a home.

7. Have Your Own Space

Sharing a bedroom and other common areas in the home is one great advantage to moving in together. But you should also carve out private spaces in your new place that are just for you. That can be a private room or a small corner in the bedroom for reading or downtime.

Having your own space also means enjoying your lives outside of your home as well. And just because you've decided to live together, that doesn't mean you can't still experience other things on your own just as you did before you joined households. Spending time alone with friends builds your external support circles and helps you maintain your individuality.

Following these tips will help make this next step in your relationship a successful one. Do you have any tips for moving in together? Leave us a comment below!

This piece was originally published on May 26, 2018.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.