Helping You Help Yourself #6

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Here’s a guide from the ACLU on exercising your individual rights in an encounter with the police, FBI, or ICE.

Here’s how to change your own oil.

Got some books you think have reached the end of their time with you? Maybe you’ve moving and can’t take them all? The American Library Association has some guidelines and suggestions about donating books.

Here is some advice from Riese: “Obviously it feels much better when you work from home to wake up to a clean house in the morning, but that’s not always possible, but I have found that even if you don’t have time to put away everything to where it belongs and generally clean up your work area or living area before going to sleep, just straightening everything up — like taking the papers that are everywhere and putting them in a pile and perfectly centering your planner and the book you were reading on top of that pile and placing the pen perfectly atop that book — can have a similar soothing effect to wake up to the next morning.”

If you’ve been pressing the “spam” button on that one account always asking you for donations but it keeps showing up in your inbox anyway, try this (if you’re a Gmail user): choose “Filter messages like this,” and when your filter has selected the messages you don’t want accurately, choose to have messages in that filter deleted automatically. It’ll work better than your spam filters in most cases.

Here are some ways to get rid of a bad mood.

Business Insider has a 14-day crash course plan for rehauling your finances. I would probably do this in 14 weeks instead, but you do you.

bi better money_04

If you’re comfortable with it and if you and the repair person both have time, consider asking the repair person next time you get something fixed in your car or home to show or explain to you what they did. It may not mean you can 100% fix it yourself next time, but it will help you have a better sense of how that thing works and get you a bit closer to being able to figure it out in the future. For instance, now I understand how the pipe buildup in my apartment causes problems!

Sometimes we get very focused on whether things in our life are good or bad, which is at times fine and at times frustrating. In some cases, it might be better to practice thinking about things as useful/not useful or helpful/unhelpful instead. Examples: You’re a grown woman but are really identifying with the 17-year-old protagonist of this YA novel! Is that good or bad? I don’t know, but can you tell whether it’s helpful or unhelpful for you? You really don’t want to take your aunt’s calls because she makes you miserable — is that like really bad? I don’t know! But would it be useful for anyone for you to talk with her?

Here are places you can try getting free boxes for moving or what have you.

This is a graphic that explains the best application for different pain relievers (Advil and Aleve are best for hangovers).

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Oh, I love these columns. I will begin this helpful/unhelpful thing immediately!

  2. This is all good advice as usual. The Business Insider 14 day plan seems really ambitious-I think it would take me much longer than 1 day to come up with a new source of income. But I can set up automatic bank drafts to my emergency savings fund in one day. Baby steps!

  3. Also yay you included ALA (American Libraries Association)! One thing – definitely contact your local library, don’t just leave a bag of donated books at the door or in the book drop. Many people leave books we can’t use and then it eats up valuable staff time to dispose of these books.

    • Schools need books! No one ever thinks to donate books to high schools, but a lot school libraries definitely take donations if public libraries do not. This is a good home for things like the feel good, New York Times best sellers that you read once and are done with because high school kids love that stuff.

  4. I think it’s worth pointing out (since that painkiller article didn’t really go into it) that you can layer some pain meds, but Aleve, Advil, and Aspirin are all NSAIDs so you shouldn’t take them at the same time. That article makes Tylenol look useless for anything but a headache but it’s nice that you can take it at the same time as other meds if they aren’t 100% effective in treating your pain but you want to avoid narcotics.

  5. Everyone should learn how to change a tire, change the oil, check all of the fluids in a car before they get their license. You never know when you’re going to get a flat tire. You’ll know if you have a leak somewhere if you check the fluids regularly and get the problem fixed before it becomes an even bigger problem (like blowing your tranny or engine). Changing the oil takes less than 15 minutes and besides, it’s always a gamble taking it to places like Jiffy Lube where they’ll try to sell you services that you don’t need that can ultimately kill your car. They are also good for screwing up basic oil changes.

    Most everyone knows someone who has at least some knowledge of cars. Ask them to show you how to do these things. Learn to check the belts and hoses. Learn how to bleed a cooling system properly. These are all simple things to do.

    If a redneck bigot just a step below on the evolutionary scale of trained monkeys can do it, then so can you.

  6. I love these columns! I saved #4 and I think you helped me get the job that should be sending me an offer within 48 hours. So thanks for all the great life advice. Keep it coming.

  7. Woah! The finances rehaul looks really cool–but also something for 14 weeks and not days because that’s a LOT of work to do each day

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