#SWAAYthenarrative
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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.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.