Fact List LPT

10 Life Pro Tips of the Week – Part 11

Here are this week’s 10 Life Pro Tips.

01. Keep a regularly-updated note with your significant other’s favorite things by category

Favorites Things Notes

Add to it as much as possible. Any time your girlfriend/boyfriend mention something that they love or like, note it down on an e-note like Evernote.

Each item in the list can be grouped by type (alcohol, clothing brand+size, chocolates, etc.), and each item can be a link to a Google Image Search, so things are easier to search when you need them.

02. Keep a spare set of clothes at work or in your car

Spare Clothes in Car

Especially with the winter coming this will be really useful. Wet socks and shoes from that slush? There is extra set of both in my locker. This can also be especially important in case you sh*t yourself.

03. It is better to have your debit card declined than to use overdraft protection

Debit Card Declined

The bank wants it to look like they’re doing you a favor by letting you use your card anyway, when the truth is you would have used an alternate source (like a credit card or cash) had the transaction been declined, thereby avoiding paying an overdraft fee.

Cancel your overdraft protection. You want the bank to decline your card so you can use another source, rather than it accept the transaction and charge you for the “convenience.”

Clearly being “more diligent about one’s finances” is the best solution. Overdraft protection explicitly exists to take advantage of a lack of financial diligence.

04. Before using a Credit Card Reader in a High Risk Location pull on it


Credit Card Skimmers will usually be loosely attached. Skimmers have gotten more advanced and are often designed to look like they are part of the equipment. (Chase Example., Bank of America Example above). But since they aren’t actually they won’t be tightly attached so they can easily be retrieved. Bonus points for covering the pin pad to prevent hidden cameras (like this one or this one) from capturing it and running your fingers over all the keys to throw off any thermal imaging signatures.

A high risk location is any card reader in an unattended location like:

  • Gas Pumps
  • ATMs
  • Vending Machines (everything from Red Box to your local Coke machine)

Outdoor gas pumps especially are over half of all skimmer fraud locations.

Note that this will only work on external skimmers. Gas pumps frequently have internal skimmers as well because of the weak locks they use to secure them. Many places have tamper evident tape they place on gas pumps. If the gas pump happens to have this you can check this as well.

You are looking to see that the tape has not been broken or voided. Sometimes internal skimmers allow thieves to collect data remotely. Checking tape is not foolproof and not all stations have it.

05. If you start a new job and think you may have a personality clash with a coworker.

Two business people talking together at desk - adviser and customer

Make that the person your go to for simple questions. It flatters them and causes them to develop nurturing feelings.

06. Write every email as though it may be forwarded to the person who you’d least like to see it.

Writing Email

Because it very well may. Usually, you can reword even uncomfortable messages in a way that wouldn’t upset or offend anyone. And if you can’t, it’s probably best communicated verbally. Sometimes this is called the New York Times rule. Never write anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable being featured on the front page of the New York Times.

07. When apartment searching, some key questions to ask and things to watch out for

Apartment Hunting

Here are 41 Rules for of Apartment Rental

  1. Check for cell reception.
  2. Inspect tops of cabinets, behind stove/fridge, for poop. If there are red/brown stains in the corners where the ceiling meets the walls, its bed bugs. If there is a line of white powder along the baseboards, it can mean roaches, but more likely bedbug treatment has been performed. White powder behind fridge, stove, etc. is usually boric acid or diatomaceous earth used to treat roaches. Brown or tan kernel sized paste is also used against roaches. Check the Bed Bug Registry online and ask if the building has a history of any pest problems.
  3. Inspect drawer under the oven and kitchen drawers.
  4. Check the water pressure on cold, on hot, on both, and how long it takes to get warm.
  5. Bring a socket tester and test all outlets. Also make sure there are enough outlets in each room, and enough 3-prong ones.
  6. Ask the neighbors what the worst part of the building, street, neighborhood is.
  7. Request to see the exact unit you will be moving into, NOT a showcase apartment. If they refuse to at least show you an actual unit, be suspicious.
  8. Check to see if you have a designated parking spot (and assure its cost, if any, is satisfactory). How many visitors can you have at a time & is that enough for you? On a Fri/Sat night, or any other evening/night, are there even any available spots? What happens if someone takes your spot?
  9. Drive through the area during rush hour if commuting via car.
  10. What’s in close walking distance? (food, bars, stores, etc)
  11. If touring multiple units, take pictures of each for later comparison. When you decide on one, time-stamp the photograph of any damage and make sure landlord is notified of it in writing prior to move-in so you aren’t blamed for it later.
  12. Research state tenant’s rights laws.
  13. Make sure you’re completely clear on all terms of the lease and know what utilities you’ll be paying and what payment method you’ll need to use.
  14. When driving around, take note of what kinds of cars are parked around, and if they’re substantially different from yours, your potential new neighbors’ lifestyle may differ from your own.
  15. Call a pizza place and see if they deliver there after dark. If not, the place may have a history as being unsafe.
  16. Make sure there’s an Internet provider suitable to your preferences.
  17. An experienced landlord is usually better to deal with than an inexperienced one.
  18. Get an idea of the general price range of utilities such as heat and AC for the unit. Ask neighbors in similar units the general price range for heating/cooling.
  19. Google your potential new landlord. Look up online property records in the county you are in. Slumlords will generally have lots of liens against them and/or have multiple properties in foreclosure.
  20. Assure the windows are double-paned/double-glazed and in good repair if the area is cold to avoid high heating bills. See if the windows open and close easily.
  21. Look up crime statistics for the area and ask the police how often they have been called to the street/complex in the last 6 months.
  22. An apartment with laundry facilities will save you money. If they don’t have them, check the prices/quality of the nearest ones.
  23. www.apartmentratings.com may be a useful resource.
  24. Drive through the area at 10pm one day, 2am the next, and see what kind of activity is occurring, especially on Fri/Sat nights. Walk through the complex around 8pm.
  25. Be wary of any musty smells that could indicate water damage. Too many air fresheners may be an attempt to hide this.
  26. Fill all sinks/tubs. Drain simultaneously and flush each toilet during.
  27. Ask if they accept section 8 or convicted felons, if you care about those things.
  28. Find out who does the maintenance (some handyman, a legit company, the landlord?). What are their policies on work orders? Can they be submitted online? What is their response time guarantee for after hours emergencies? If it’s just a single landlord and not a property management company, do they have someone you can call when they go on vacation and the hot water heater breaks?
  29. Make sure the building managers or owners are local.
  30. When scoping out potential neighborhoods, check out the local grocery stores to get a good sense of the type of people that live in that neighborhood. Also check the closest gas station late at night.
  31. Check your responsibilities as a tenant. After moving in many landlords require you to pay the cost of a stopped up toilet, pest infestations, and require you to shovel snow from sidewalk/mow the grass on areas around the house, or clean gutters. They may also require you to pay the cost to fix supplied appliances.
  32. If surrounding places have belongings left sitting on the porches (toys, stoves, seating, decorations), it’s a good sign for little/no theft and a kid-friendly environment.
  33. If the leasing agent or landlord promises to do something before you move in, it needs to be written into the lease or it may not happen.
  34. Ensure that the unit has adequate storage space for your needs.
  35. 1st floor apartments are most convenient for thieves, and the most frequently broken into.
  36. It’s usually best to avoid living in the same building as your landlord, unless the other tenants vouch for them.
  37. If there’s a homeowner’s association, find out its rules.
  38. Find out the policy on smoking, pets, noise, and visitors.
  39. If you must break the lease, what are the consequences/options?
  40. What’s the average rental time for apartments in the building? If people aren’t staying long, it’s a bad sign.
  41. Try to get a look at as many different options in the area as possible so you can see if what they’re offering is competitively priced for the size/type of unit you’re seeking.

08. When an elderly person can’t hear you…


Speak deeper not louder. This works not just on elderly. My mom’s friend’s young daughter was hearing-impaired. She was able to hear my deep-voiced stepdad more easily than other people with higher-pitched voices.

09. To quickly cool down hot liquid like coffee or tea…

Cooling Liquids

Simply pour it from one cup to another a few times. This maximizes the amount liquid exposed to the air and will lower the temperature rapidly. This keeps you from waiting or having to dilute your beverage if you are in a hurry. The chai street vendors in India do this a lot. Here is a slightly more enthusiastic vendor cooling tea.

10. When signing up for the newsletter…

Newsletter Signup

Instead of putting your name, put the website’s name. Then, when you get a million spam emails, you’ll source it to the website that shared your name and email.


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