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apartment living

Student Life

Top 3 Characteristics of a Great Roommate

August 27, 2020

The idea of having a roommate can be exciting and little nerve-racking at the same time. We all have different expectations of how a living arrangement should be when sharing spaces with others. Whether you are a college student who may not have a choice in who you are living with or an adult searching for the ideal person to live with, there are certain things that should be a default when it comes to roommate situations. Here are a few of the most important characteristics of a great roommate!

  1. Make sure your roommate is trustworthy! Being trustworthy and reliable are valuable qualities. In most roommate arrangements, two or more people are responsible for splitting the costs of rent, utilities, internet, and other shared amenities. If your house mates are trusting in you to have your portion of the costs covered when they are due, you should always adhere to what has been agreed upon by everyone! Sometimes issues arise in which someone may not be able to contribute. This is when communication and understanding are key.
  1. They should be clean and neat! Growing up, we all learned from our parents and other adults the importance of having good cleaning and hygiene habits. This is important to implement when you are sharing living spaces with others. Part of being a great roommate includes making sure that the shared spaces in your residence are always clean and presentable. Areas like the living room, kitchen, and shared bathrooms should be as clean and neat as possible. Having good personal hygiene habits are even more important! Living with others should be a pleasant experience and this includes making sure that you are keeping up with your personal care (bathing, laundry, cleaning your room, etc).
  1. Be friendly and kind! Some roommates become best friends while others barely speak or interact with each other. No matter what your roommate situation is it vital to remain friendly and kind with each other. Being friendly does not mean you have to spend every minute together when everyone is home. By simply saying good morning, good night, or asking someone how their day was can go a long way. Feeling comfortable in your residence starts with the way you treat your house mates and vis versa. If you or your roommates have guests over it is important to never make someone feel unwelcome. Be polite and say hello!

Being a good roommate doesn’t have to be hard. There are enough stressors that come along with college life and living with other people should not be one of them. Take these 3 things into account when starting the new term with a new roommate.

Adulting Other

Pets on Campus: 3 Rules for Keeping Pets at College

July 1, 2020

For young adults living alone for the first time, college can feel like the perfect time to finally adopt that lizard they weren’t allowed to have growing up; for those who grew up with animals, missing the family dog might feel like a black hole that desperately needs filling. Keeping a pet at college can be wonderful for both the owner, who’s gained a cute friend guaranteed not to copy their physics homework and the pet, who can enjoy companionship and a loving home. In any instance, before getting a pet you need to check with your residence and understand their pet policies. Assuming they do, college living also presents unique logistical challenges that students should take into account before adopting a furry, scaly, or feathery friend.  

  1. Respect your roommates. Since most college students live with other people, sharing a room, apartment, or house, they should take those other people into account when adopting a pet, and take their pet into account when searching for roommates. Dogs and cats, who roam the whole house or apartment and interact with all occupants, absolutely need the buy-in of all roommates if they’re going to enter a living space. Enclosure pets that stay in the owner’s room, like hamsters, lizards, or fish, only need enthusiastic buy-in from the folks living in said room, but everyone in the house should be aware of the animal – especially one that might sneak out of their cage and into other living areas. By making sure their roommates are ok with their pets before they move in, students will both protect their relationship with their roommates and ensure they’re living in an environment that’s good for their animal.     
  2. Respect your limits. College students are often busy, strapped for cash, and uncertain of their future, and pets, for all that they bring joy and companionship into someone’s life, can exacerbate these things. Students looking to get a pet should consider their own limits – on time, funds, travel, living space – before adopting a pet. Even seemingly low-maintenance pets, like cats or gerbils, can be expensive to provide for and have a need for attention and emotional energy from their owners. Animals are wonderful companions, but they’re also a responsibility, and college students should know how many things a pet could add to their already lengthy to-do list before adopting. 
  3. Respect your pet. This is the most important rule of pet ownership, in college or anywhere. While it’s understandable that college students experiencing independence for the first time might be desperate for an animal companion, the college lifestyle is not always good for an animal. For example, busy people living in small apartments should not adopt puppies who need attention all day and room to run – no matter how many cute girls walking said puppy attracts. Nor should people who move at least once a year invest in keeping chickens. The most important thing a prospective pet owner should consider is whether they are in a place to properly care for their pet – not just love, but care for. College students may love their dogs, but if they don’t have time to walk them every day, they’re not able to care for them. It’s a key distinction, and anyone looking to adopt a pet needs to be honest with themselves about their answer. 

Keeping a pet in college can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly difficult. Of course, those struggling with the logistical challenges of pet ownership shouldn’t resign themselves to a life without animal companionship; some colleges bring “stress animals” to campus to help students relax during exams, and any town will need pet sitters and animal shelter volunteers. Everyone has room for animals in their life, if not their apartment. 

Adulting Other

Packing Tips for College Move Out Day

May 27, 2020
Packing Tips for College

How bittersweet this time of year is – summer is approaching, meaning no more classes or exams or deadlines, but you have to say goodbye to your friends, professors, clubs and parties. Although this can be a fun time to get distracted and get ready for the warm weather and summer fun again, it’s also a time to make sure you’re prepared to be on time for your flight or ride when moving out of your dorm or apartment.

Between finals, nice weather and saying goodbye to friends, it can be difficult to get everything packed in an organized and timely manner. However, it helps to do a little bit over time, so the whole task never seems too overwhelming. What do you need to do before you leave? Where should you begin? Check out this list!

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Other Transition

5 Budget Tips for Decorating Your First Home or Apartment

November 21, 2019

Whether you’re moving into off-campus housing during college or settling into a new place post-graduation, the independence of living in your own space is exciting! Turning a new house or apartment into a home is one of the many tasks to complete once you move in. However, decorating can be costly, especially if you’re strapped for cash. Here are some decorating tips that are not only budget-friendly but will enhance your new home. 

Dual-Storage

Directly following your move, finding the time to unpack can be difficult. Figuring out where everything should go is often challenging, and you need time to rearrange furniture and items to find their ideal place. Utilizing household storage containers that are also dual-purpose furniture will go a long way in consolidating and decorating at the same time. With the functionality of keeping things orderly and put away, you can also use something like this for a side table, stacked shelf, or even a seat when sitting room is tight. 

Thrifting

Thrifting for clothes is fun and cost-effective, but have you ever looked at the furniture section of your local thrift store? You’d be surprised at the amount of couches, armchairs, and coffee tables that are available for a fraction of the price as opposed to a regular furniture shop. Most thrift stores will check to ensure that items are in good condition to sell, but you’ll be able to test it for yourself when you’re there. 

Inexpensive Accessories

There are lots of accents that are economical that will enhance your home. Colorful pillows will stand out against a couch, or a soft throw blanket draped over the back of an armchair will provide texture in the room. Pieces with different materials such as these will give visual depth, and will also add to the space instead of making it feel flat. Color coordinating your accents will make your area feel complete, drawing the eye around the room!

DIY/Repurpose

DIY is a popular trend- as it should be! Finding new ways to reuse items can save money and expand your creativity. Look through every room and see where you can find inspiration to repurpose items. One cool project is making potted plants in tea tin containers that have magnets to be able to hang on your fridge, or glass jars that can double as makeup brush holders. For wooden furniture items, refurbishing them with peel-and-stick wallpaper can be a mess-free way to add a patterned design without having to paint!

Moving into your new home is fun, but having to worry about pricey decor items isn’t. With these tips, your space can be upgraded easily and effectively. Let us know some other budget decoration ideas you’ve used in your own place!

Other Student Life

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance or Does a Homeowner’s Policy Provide the Right Coverage?

July 1, 2019

In 2019, the average college family spent an average of $976.78 per student on back to college shopping. You need a lot of things for college, but are those belongings safe in your residence hall or off-campus apartment? As you pack up your things for school, you may want to consider ways to protect your stuff. Insurance is one way to protect these items by offering financial protection in the case of a loss. However, it can be confusing to know what kind of insurance you need to protect your belongings (and liability!) and how much that can cost.

The first step is to determine whether your parents have homeowners insurance, then ask them about the terms of that insurance. Will it extend to cover you while at school? Is it enough coverage? If the answer is no to either of these questions, you may want to consider Renters Insurance. But how do you know what to get?

Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit down with GradGuard founder and insurance expert Bill Suneson to get the scoop, which is summarized for you below.

When a student moves into a residence hall, typically the terms of the housing agreement make it clear that the school is not responsible for stolen or damaged personal property. Also, the student becomes personally liable for any damage caused to the dorm room or residence hall. The same applies to most rental agreements if you move into an apartment off-campus. Without the proper insurance, you (and your family) can incur a significant financial loss if you cause unintended damage to your residence or suffer a loss to your personal property. For example, if you burn the wall making a late night snack, or someone steals your bike, without insurance the burden is on you to replace those items and pay for the damage.

GradGuard College Renters insurance is an easy and affordable way to protect your personal property against theft, water damage, fire, etc.  It is not uncommon for a laptop computer or bicycle to be stolen from a dorm (you can probably name a friend this has happened to) and most low-deductible renters insurance plans would provide a quick replacement.

Also, a renters insurance plan protects students if you are personally liable for causing damage to your residence – colleges or building owners would promptly bill you for your portion of the loss. It’s not something you would necessarily think about when you’re excited to move in and start the semester, but just remember about how easy it could be to inadvertently trigger the sprinkler system if you caused a small fire cooking in your kitchen.  That’s a lot of money and damage that you’d be responsible for. Without the proper coverage, you may find yourself with a hefty bill.

GradGuard is just one way to protect yourself. You may already have some coverage thanks to your parents. Yes, most homeowner’s insurance policies do extend coverage to students when they are away at college. However, your parents should review their policy closely before you leave for college as some policies may have certain limitations.  For instance, policies may limit coverage to students attending college full-time or living on-campus (even more restrictions if the student is living off-campus.)

But there are some things to consider about a homeowner’s insurance policy that you should discuss with your parents. Most homeowner’s policies have high deductibles and families are unlikely to file claims such as a $500 bike theft because the payment would not exceed their deductible.  Also, home insurance rates are increasing and filing small property or liability claims generally result in higher rates for your family over time.

With deductibles as low as $100 and most premiums about $.50 a day, GradGuard College Renters Insurance is both valuable and affordable for students even though some coverage may exist through their parents’ homeowner’s policy.  Spend a couple minutes reviewing this information with your parents to figure out what will work best for you and your family. You may find you feel comfortable with the cost of replacing your personal items and decide against coverage altogether, but you may find you want some protection. As always, speak with an agent to find the best policy for you. Happy packing!

This article was updated in July 2020

Other Transition

Getting The Most Out of Life by Planning for Graduation

June 25, 2019

College is a liberating time in a person’s life. The time right before graduation is a last chance to get some fun in. It’s an opportunity to grow with the full freedom of both time and youth and to consider the future before you’re forced into it. That’s why it’s important to focus on three very important points before you graduate.

Learn How And What To Cook

It is important to learn the valuable skill of cooking before graduating from college. A poor diet takes considerable time to hurt us and it could be years or even a decade after graduation before you realize how tired and out of shape you’ve become.

When you learn early, you’ll have the time you need to find healthy foods that you actually like. It’ll not only set you up for a healthy life after graduation but it’s also a fantastic skill to share with others in your life.

Get An Early Start On Fitness

Like with your diet, when you realize that you need rather than want to focus on it you won’t have the time. When you’re still in school you’ll have the chance to really test what workouts work best for you.

You’re also using this time to figure out if the workout is something you could keep up for the rest of your life. If it’s not, this is the chance to try something new or modify your routine until it’s maintainable. Plus, there are quite a few additional benefits to working on physical fitness.

You’re developing an important tool that’ll help you be there for the people you care about. There’s something fantastic in the knowledge that your body is strong enough to ensure you can be of help in times of danger or stress.

Physical fitness is a great way to regulate your mood. Amazingly enough, it even serves as an effective treatment for some mental illness. For example, exercise and fitness often help people suffering from depression.

Travel And Study In A Distant Land

It’s essential that you get some travel and vacation time in before you graduate. People tend to assume that they’ll have all the time in the world for travel. But in reality, vacations tend to become more and more scarce over time.

Any student capable of doing so should consider looking into any chance to study abroad. Different cultures tend to be a bit healthier than ours in regards to diet and fitness and getting that help early on can provide a number of benefits down the road.

There are many benefits to focusing on building a foundation of wellness in college and taking advantage of opportunities that are presented to you. This is a critical time in your life and there is no reason to squander it. GradGuard is committed to aiding college students by protecting their investment in their education and protecting the items that are most important to them.

Follow @GradGuard on social media for more advice on how to make the most of your college experience.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Student Life

10 Tips to Help Boost Your College Budget

December 5, 2018

The broke college student subsisting on instant ramen noodles and mooching off their parents may be a tired cliché, but it still carries a kernel of truth: college isn’t cheap, and money is often very tight as a result. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re having a hard time keeping your finances in the black during college, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your situation. With a little bit of planning and ingenuity, the ten tips below can help ease your budget crunch and make sure that you’re getting the very most out of your college experience.

  1. Cut Costs on School Supplies

As any college student can attest, textbooks and other supplies can burn a hole in your wallet in a hurry. Rather than buying new books at the campus bookstore, consider looking for used books online, at local bookstores and even from friends and acquaintances. Alternatively, many modern textbooks can be purchased digitally and downloaded to a tablet or laptop for a much lower price than their physical counterparts. Many other supplies can be bought in bulk for big savings, and again it’s best to avoid campus bookstores and their inflated prices.

  1. Use Credit Cards Responsibly

When it comes to credit cards, there are two common and equally troubling approaches. Some people are tempted by the ability to simply flash some plastic and buy anything they wish, while others are scared away from using them entirely. In reality, there’s no reason to fear credit cards – if they’re used responsibly. In fact, using a credit card for routine purchases and paying off the balance in full each month is a fantastic way to begin building a strong credit history. Just be aware that interest rates are often exceedingly high, so don’t buy something you can’t pay for except in the event of a true emergency.

  1. Cook for a Week

Food is an expense that most college students simply don’t think about, but it can add up quickly. Eating out or signing up for a meal plan isn’t cheap, and relying on cold pizza and Hot Pockets isn’t very healthy. Instead, consider making your own meal plan by devoting a few hours on the weekend to cook meals for the entire week. Simply plan out whichever meals you’d like to eat, make a list of all the necessary ingredients and buy them all at once. Cook the meals, place them in containers and stick them in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, all you need to do is take your chosen meal out and heat it up. Voila!

  1. Start a Savings Account

It’s never too early to start saving for a rainy day, and a savings account is a great way to do it. Even if you can only afford small, irregular deposits, you’ll be building a financial cushion and earning interest while you’re at it. Most importantly, you’ll begin developing the good saving habits that you’ll need to prepare yourself for the future. Take time to do your research and find the best interest rates available, but be sure to avoid accounts that require a monthly fee.

  1. Use Your Student ID

You may not realize it, but your student ID can be a major money-saving tool. You’ll find a variety of fun activities on nearly any college campus, and your student ID can often snag you a serious discount or even free admission. It’s a great way to stay engaged and enjoy yourself without shelling out much money. Your ID can also earn you savings from a wide range of other stores, venues and websites, so keep your eyes peeled for student discounts wherever you go.

  1. Use Alternative Transportation

If you’re accustomed to driving to and from class, you may not notice how much money you spend on gas and other transportation-related expenses. Whenever possible, consider using alternative means of transportation to save some extra cash. If your commute is short enough, walking or riding a bike is free and can help to keep you in shape. Public transportation is another cost-effective option, and it can even give you an opportunity to sneak in some extra work or studying.

  1. Do Your Homework on Student Loans

Student debt is a massive problem in the United States and managing it poorly can cripple your finances for years to come. Easing that burden begins before you borrow a single cent, as choosing the right loan can make all the difference. It pays to do your research, comparing all available options in search of lower interest rates and payment terms that suit your particular situation. In most cases, federal loans will be the most affordable option, as well as providing fixed rates and more flexibility. It’s also important to determine the smallest loan amount you realistically need, which will keep your balance lower and allow you to repay your debt more quickly.

  1. Work Smarter

Balancing work and school is no easy task, but it’s a financial necessity for many students. If possible, try to find a job that naturally fits into your typical schedule. Many employers near college campuses are willing to provide flexible hours for students, but it’s important to keep your employer updated on your schedule to avoid conflicts. You may even consider taking a job that pays slightly less if it affords you time to do schoolwork.

  1. Make the Most of Your Education

While it may not directly put money in your pocket, staying focused on your education will ensure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck. You’ll be paying for your schooling for quite some time, so it’s important that you get as much out of it as you can. If you go to classes, work hard and set yourself up to succeed in whatever you choose to do after graduation, it’ll be worth every penny that you spend. As an added bonus, spending your time on schoolwork means you’ll have less time to waste money on frivolous things. It may not be as fun in the moment, but your bank account – and your future – will thank you.

  1. Adopt Money-Saving Habits

College is a time to receive an education, but it’s also a time to learn valuable lessons that will serve you for the rest of your life. One of the most important lessons you can learn is how to manage your money, and in particular, how to develop good money-saving habits. Set aside some time every week to review your budget and look for opportunities to save some cash, whether it’s opting for generic brands and using coupons at the grocery store or making your own coffee in the morning instead of paying for an expensive cup at the coffee shop. Learning how to save a few dollars and cents now can make a big difference in staying financially healthy in the long run.

As you begin to “adult” a little more in your daily life, remember to check out GradGuard’s blog for all your college hacks!

 

Beth Kotz is a contributing writer for Credit.com. A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, she has also been featured as a writer and editor for numerous energy, entertainment, and home blogs.

Other Student Life

Friendsgiving 101: A step-by-step guide to hosting

November 21, 2018

With spooky season behind you and cozy season upon you, it’s time to remind your besties how thankful you are to have them in your life. What better way to practice gratitude towards your friends than with Friendsgiving? Whether your feast is inspired by Pinterest or a host of different family traditions, your friends will be sure to indulge. Pour yourself a cup of hot apple cider and start planning your very own Friendsgiving with these simple steps.

Step One: Create a Facebook Event

Weeks prior to Friendsgiving, send out a Facebook event invite. This allows for a guesstimated headcount. Be sure to plan the time around college football or NFL games for the fans among us. If you are in an apartment complex with a community center, be sure to reserve it in advance as it can fill up around the holidays.  Remind your friends to secure a designated driver or take an Uber or Lyft if they plan on having libations.

Step Two: Make a Google Sheet to coordinate dishes

Seven bowls of mashed potatoes? Let’s hope someone remembered to bring the gravy.

Avoid duplicated dishes by creating a Google Sheet. Divide the sheet into categories and provide staple dishes with corresponding columns for guests to claim the dish with their name. Share this by providing the link in your Facebook event summary.

Step Three: Prepare 

A college budget doesn’t put Friendsgiving off limits. Stores like the 99 cents only and dollar tree have plenty of utensils fit for a crowd. Feeling green? Encourage your guests to bring their own glass containers for leftovers and reusable utensils like these that GradGuard hands out at conferences.

Be sure to empty out your fridge to make room for all of the dishes. Make note of how long each dish will need to heat up and where it can be heated (oven, stovetop, or microwave). Set up stations for appetizers and drinks, the main feast, and dessert. Designate bins for trash and recycle.

Step Four: Clearly label the turducken from the vegducken

It’s not uncommon these days to transform Grandma’s classic green-bean casserole into a vegan-friendly recipe. When your guests arrive with their dish, hand them an allergen card. Here they can label the name of the dish and they can circle if its considered gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, or nut-free.

Step Five: Give thanks

Once all of your guests are seated with a mountain of food in front of them, it’s time for a toast. Remind your friends how grateful you are for having each one of them in your life. Give a cheers to the midterms being behind you and wish your friends luck in the remainder of the semester. They may think it’s corny, but have each person go around and say one thing about your collective friendship that they are most thankful for.

Step Six: Send your guests away with leftovers 

After everyone has loosened their belts a notch, have them get in line for one last round to fill their containers with leftovers until the pans are empty. Offer to clean the pan there or set a reminder to bring it back to them next time you see them.

GradGuard’s employees celebrate the company of one-another each year during a Friendsgiving with their sister company Bindable. From a Bindable Agent’s famous butterscotch bread to GradGuard QA Manager’s mac and cheese, the feast is an event to look forward to. We encourage you to bring Friendsgiving to your university dorm room or internship office, too!

Health Other

5 at Home (or in the Dorms) Cold Remedies

November 20, 2018

Living in a dorm where everyone is right in close proximity can open you up to a lot of things. Unfortunately, one of those things happens to be colds. And while there is not yet a cure for the common cold, there are simple things you can do at home to get you feeling better and back on your feet in time for finals week.

1. If you have a sore throat, strange as it sounds, it’s a good idea to gargle warm salt water. Adding a 1/4 tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water, and gargling it in the back of your throat can help relieve the pain. The salt helps wash away the nasty things in your throat that cause inflammation and swelling, thus cutting down on the pain in your throat.

2. A cup of tea with honey, while not actually possessing any medicinal qualities, can be a huge relief when you’re all stuffed up and sniffly. Hot tea loosens up your nasal passages and allows air to flow through them again, much in the same way as a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup.

3. Vitamin C is a big one for the prevention and treatment of colds, or really any minor illness. Found in things like citrus fruits, and many fruit juices, it helps cut down on inflammation and mucous and speeds up the production of white blood cells, which in turn speeds up healing. You can also take Vitamin C in pill form as a supplement – Airborne was our savior my freshman year – but many foods, including strawberries, peaches, and broccoli, have a surprisingly high supply.

4. Of course, the classic Vick’s VapoRub always helps clear a stuffy nose and congestion. Applying it liberally to your chest or feet before bedtime can work wonders, and at the very least, ensure you’ll get a good night’s sleep, and not stay up half the night blowing your nose or unable to breathe. If you don’t like the messiness of the rub on stuff, they now have patches you can place on your clothing that have about the same effect.

5. And of course, the most obvious one of all: sleep. In order to fight the infection in your body, lots of sleep is a necessity. Shut your door and close the curtains, and you’ll be asleep in no time. Chances are, your roommates will leave you alone for fear of getting infected themselves so you can nap for hours in peace.

College students are susceptible to illnesses, as well as other mishaps, so it’s important to take the proper precautions. Visit GradGuard for more information!

Other Student Life

What to Ask Your Renters Insurance Agent

November 15, 2018

Being an adult can mean so many different things; first, you have to do your own laundry, second make your own coffee, and third purchase your own renters insurance policy. This can honestly be super daunting to those who still have issues making their own dentist appointments, but we’ve made a simple list of things that you should be sure to ask your renters insurance agent when the time comes!

How do I know what my coverage limits should be?

Most renters insurance policies come with both personal property coverage and personal liability coverage. Personal property coverage is the limit that protects your personal items that are inside of your residence, and personal liability coverage is what protects the actual structure itself. Be sure to talk to your university or rental property to see if they require any specific limits while you are living there.

How much is the policy?

See if your renters insurance agency is charging you monthly, annually, semi-annually, or another billing option. Talk through it with them to see if there is a benefit to one billing option as opposed to another.

How long does the policy last?

This depends on the company that you are purchasing through and what you opted to pay for the policy. If you paid annually, then the policy likely lasts for a full 12 months from the date that you chose your coverage to begin. If you are only needing the insurance for a certain amount of time, be sure to ask your agent about their cancelation process and what is required to terminate the coverage.

What does this policy cover?

This is SUPER important to ask and have an understanding of. For example, if you want to have renters insurance in case someone breaks in and ransacks your apartment, just be sure that theft and burglary is a covered peril under the policy you are wanting.

How does the claims process work?

This is a general question with an important answer. Most people have no idea how to make an insurance claim if needed and it should be one of the top questions to ask your renters insurance agent. The claims process can be different for each agency, so just to be sure you clarify it if needed.

When it comes to purchasing renters insurance, questions are important to ask! We want you to ask questions and have a full understanding of what you are getting. It is so important to know that we are here to help you. Much like a doctor, you should be asking your renters insurance agent as many questions as possible and do not feel like any question you have is too small or too silly. GradGuard has your back and encourages you to ask whatever questions you think are necessary. We are there when you need us and will help you with all of your adulting needs.