The New Year is about to roll in, which means it's probably time to become a new you. And what better way to shake into that new and uber-productive self then changing up your schedule to be the maximally effective person you always dreamed of being?

According to the well-studied folks at Psychology Today, you're probably waking up too late, staying up too late, and your body is, correspondingly, all kinds of messed up. "Our near-constant exposure to artificial light has... [left] our bodies and brains struggling," Holly Pevzner writes for the popular magazine. Of course, if you're already pulling the 6am rise-and-shine, you might be among the high-achievers of which Laura Vanderkam, bestselling scribe of such texts as What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, told the popular news magazine, The Week, that "They rise early. Almost all have a morning ritual."

Since so many people tend to wake up later, the early riser is also placed at an advantage next to their still-snoozing compatriots. "You need to wake up before the insanity starts," Eric Barker writes for The Week. Waking up early also sets you straight on setting some goals for yourself, another common habit among the high achievers or generally happy people, as reports a popular study that appeared in Journal of Happiness Studies all the way back in 2007. But the early rise promises something even more primordial than the late years of the Bush administration. Michael Grandner, who helps direct the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, dropped some serious knowledge on Psychology Today when he warned that "[Our] natural rhythms have been gravely disrupted."

All of us live in some constantly-lit times and all that illumination has left our bodies scrambling--per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most people spin over five hours a day on things like Netflix and interacting with other people but don't, according to Psychology Today, correlate that with any particular feeling of happiness or satisfaction. All of our so-called leisure time happens in such small and measured chunks that we can barely feel anything at all, anymore. But how do you plan on reorienting your entire way of being in this hectic rat-race of on-line living? Here's some tips!

  • Wake up once, not a hundred times. "When you hit the snooze button, you coax your brain to rewind to the beginning of the sleep cycle," writes Psychology Today, this time citing research by another academic, Edward Stepanski of Rush University. Of course, anyone who knows a snooze button already has some idea of this.
  • And on that note, do more things earlier. Jennifer Ackerman's classic work of pop-psychology, Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body, informs us that "most of us are sharpest some two and a half to four hours after waking." Do things then.
  • "The average person spends 28 percent of the work week managing email," Psychology Today reminds us. Check twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Remind the working world that you're the one that knocks.
  • Take naps, if you can. Sara Mednick, back in 2013, gave a TED talk titled "Give it Up for the Down State" to promote her celebrated work of advice titled Take a Nap! Change Your Life, recommended taking naps, urging everyone "to take a break." And even NASA recommends taking naps, per Richard Wiseman's Night School: Wake Up to the Power of Sleep: "[NASA] pilots who take a twenty-five-minute nap in the cockpit...are subsequently 35 per cent more alert, and twice as focused, than their non-napping colleagues." If your workplace is not as conducive to naps as, say, NASA, Psychology Today, recommends nap-like activity such as "paperwork, photocopying, or collating."
  • Socialize after dusk. Back in the day, Jacqueline Olds of Harvard Medical School reports, hunters and gatherers would choose the sunset hour to gather themselves into a socially cohesive whole. "Dusk is when people had to be especially aware to stave off dangers they couldn't see…[so] it was the time of day we'd group together for safety," Olds remembers. Psychology Today recommends posting on Facebook.
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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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