Give me my rewards
August 2, 2011 4:44 AM   Subscribe

What things should people do that are in their best interest, but don't do either because of ignorance or lack of discipline. For example, if you have the discipline to pay every month, there is no reason not to use a rewards based credit card for all your purchases. Arguably, maxing your 401k is another example of this. So is exercise and sunscreen. What other smart behaviors and actions should we do, but don't because we don't know any better or don't have the will to do so. I will also take counter examples, e.g. stupid decisions / undisciplined behaviors / etc.
posted by jasondigitized to Grab Bag (38 answers total) 99 users marked this as a favorite
Smoking is stupid, quitting is smart, but nicotine is powerful.
posted by paulsc at 4:51 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cook all your own meals. Repair what's broken rather than just buying a new one. Get your car in for routine maintenance. Change the air filters on your HVAC units at least every 3 months.
posted by litnerd at 4:51 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by TooFewShoes at 4:54 AM on August 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

Buying quality that is worth repairing
posted by Murray M at 4:55 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Taking homework seriously

Starting a retirement account in your 20's
posted by Murray M at 4:57 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Get enough sleep.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 4:59 AM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

Visit a dentist regularly instead of waiting for a toothache.
posted by exogenous at 5:03 AM on August 2, 2011

Flag and move on.
posted by itstheclamsname at 5:04 AM on August 2, 2011 [15 favorites]

Showing misplaced loyalty to a brand or institution when that brand or institution is clearly not providing a superior product, service, etc. in comparison to their competition.

Home loans come to mind.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 5:06 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Walking/Cycling instead of driving. Even when it is awkward or difficult. You will become fitter. You will lose weight. You will save money. You will have time to yourself to think/daydream.

Being cheap & buying used. If you consistently find your purchases for 10-15% less that is effectively like giving yourself a 20-30% salary increase (because you don't pay income tax on money you save).

Wash your dish sponge in dishwasher. Because it is really gross by now.
posted by srboisvert at 5:06 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]

- Drive your car as if it was important to your life and health.
- Know the principles of logic, rational discourse and risk/reward.
posted by forthright at 5:09 AM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

posted by alicegoldie at 5:12 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check tire air pressure.
posted by bq at 5:17 AM on August 2, 2011

Waxing your car. I live in Arizona and this can make a huge difference in the long run but is a pain to do.
posted by belau at 5:21 AM on August 2, 2011

Eating healthily. Not having the coolest new phone--or actually, choosing to live to the extent of your money instead of below your means.
posted by 200burritos at 5:29 AM on August 2, 2011

- Know the principles of logic, rational discourse

and learn how to win arguments in the face of them.
posted by biffa at 5:31 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't get suckered into wasting time on dead-end activities that you don't even enjoy all that much. Avoid non-rewarding or unhealthy relationships, or even relationships that aren't what you really want. Think about what you really want, career-wise, and have a plan to work towards that. Avoid arranging your life so that long commutes are necessary. Also, be mindful about your past-time activties. Things like video games, TV-watching, aimless net surfing, reading trashy books or magazines, doing crafts, or hanging out at a bar with your friends are all very well in their way, but you don't want to spend so much time on those things that you don't get around to doing things that are more important to you.
posted by orange swan at 5:50 AM on August 2, 2011 [16 favorites]

Using a condom... every time... for safer sex.

Using birth control consistently when a pregnancy is unwanted or unwise.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:50 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

There have been a number of studies that show there are 4 simple behaviours that can cut your risk of serious disease by like 80%: don't smoke, eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Yet only 9% of people do those things.
posted by web-goddess at 5:54 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]

* An understanding of the principles of fail safe and fail open. Your credit card example is a good one. Works great right up until something goes wrong, like splurging during the holidays or a lost bill payment. It just doesn't fail safe.
* An appreciation for simplicity. Drive a low cost car because the tech is simple and there is less of it, so there is less to fail.
* Check Consumer Reports, use Amazon/BestBuy/Etc. reviews, and the best selling sort on Amazon followed by scanning for lots of good reviews (usually shows most reliable products)
* Brevity. :-)
posted by jwells at 6:02 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oversimplifying social problems because it's easier to think of things as simple (and possibly to feel smug about your own successes) than to analyze all the complexities of why things don't work?
posted by gracedissolved at 6:06 AM on August 2, 2011 [11 favorites]

Considering the other side of the argument, with the assumption that there are rational reasons to support that POV as well.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:31 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Designing processes or products that solve problems with a minimum of self-discipline required from the user.
posted by tel3path at 6:42 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Basic, regular home organization, tidying, decluttering, cleaning, and maintenance, rather than an exhaustive marathon of same.
posted by jgirl at 6:50 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seatbelts & bicycle/motorcycle helmets.
posted by jabes at 6:57 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is not so much a practical thing as a preventing regret thing.

Call your parents/siblings/close friends regularly, half an hour a week and there will be no regrets later.
posted by Tarumba at 6:59 AM on August 2, 2011 [17 favorites]

Stopping after one drink on a weeknight.
posted by aimedwander at 7:03 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

> Charity has a greater impact when given to a smaller group. Be it the actual person it's supposed to help or the organization that is closest to the group receiving the charity. In larger charities the money can get lost or never reach the intended party.. And time as big a donation as money.
> STD testing every six months. Period.
> Disconnect from everything (internet, phone, .etc.etc) for a whole evening, a day, a weekend, a week... something, but regularly once a week, once a month, twice a year.
> Dedicate time to your support system. You never know when you will need their help.
> Write out your goals. Budgeting money/time to achieve those goals.
> Google yourself regularly.. watch what your web identity is like online. Maybe what you post now is not what you want to be found 6 years from now. Use privacy settings on your accounts. And even try to optimize the search engine results for your name if you take this sort of thing seriously for professional or personal reasons.
posted by xicana63 at 7:10 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Vote in local elections ... as an informed voted. Typically makes a lot more difference to the quality of your life than who you vote to sens to Washington. But people don't pay much attention to local politics,.when your vote for state's attorney makes a huge difference in local crime, for example.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:31 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Buying well-made shoes that are healthy for your feet.
posted by cadge at 7:35 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you are a naturally giving person, learn how to say no to things without guilt. Continually agreeing to help and give to people, organizations, or causes when you really don't want to can lead to resentment and exhaustion. If you can't give cheerfully, then it's time to re-think your giving.
posted by The Deej at 7:42 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

*Differentiating between needs and wants; budgeting time, effort, and money accordingly.
*Monitoring your credit by pulling your credit report each year to check for inconsistencies/ errors.
posted by kitkatcathy at 8:53 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Assuming that getting a tax refund is a good thing rather than a sign that you've allowed over-withholding.

Dismissing one's own natural talents as no big thing and not worth capitalizing on.

Google yourself regularly.. watch what your web identity is like online. Maybe what you post now is not what you want to be found 6 years from now.

(Is there anything you can do about that? I mean, I've heard stories of people mentioned or linked in ways not their fault to sites they despise, but google will do nothing to quash.)
posted by IndigoJones at 9:05 AM on August 2, 2011

Some of these things imply that your time isn't worthwhile, and all of these things imply some sort of value system that's different for different people.

Example: cooking every one of my own meals is a great way to save money, but I have maybe six hours a day on weekdays to myself, and I'd rather not spend an hour a night to cook a decent meal.

That said, the trick I figured out early was to take half of the money I've ever gotten in every raise at work and put it into some sort of retirement account. It's damn hard to save money by cutting into the amount you normally spend; it's damn easy to save money by taking money you've never seen and putting *half* of it away before blowing the other half spectacularly.
posted by talldean at 11:24 AM on August 2, 2011

Backing up personal data from their computer.
using good passwords, and keeping them in a safe place (not on a postit on the monitor)
posted by theora55 at 3:42 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Taking photos, or keeping diaries. Not only does it help provide scaffolding for the memory, more importantly it stops you from indulging in your own personal historical revisionism. It's hard to insist that "I've always been like this" or "I didn't behave like that when I was your age" when you have hard evidence proving the opposite.

Just the other day I came across a diary I'd written 10 years ago, when I was my little brother's age. It was amazing to discover how much I sounded like he does now. Mindblowing.
posted by Acey at 5:16 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Find a cause you believe in and volunteer your time.
Find something broken, or some injustice, and work to correct it.
(Bonus points awarded if you become the type of person who does it without seeking instant recognition for doing it.)
Learn peoples names, remember them, and use them.
Smile often.
Write more letters, always send a thank you note whenever someone does something thankworthy. (better late than never)
Leave a tip.
Want less.
Drink water.
Use sunscreen regularly.
Learn how to apologize/forgive.
posted by Kale Slayer at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2011

Make backups of your data. Ignorance leads people to not make them, and a lack of discipline leads them to not test they're still working six months later. Both have cost people time or even lost things like pictures forever.
posted by pwnguin at 6:23 PM on August 7, 2011

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