Sometimes there are things I enjoy that don’t exactly warrant a full piece, but that I still think you should’ve known about yesterday. I’ll try and steer clear of music since I do my Month in Music playlist series (linked), but rest assured, you will have lots of things to obsess over. If I manage to convert anyone to any of these things, it will all have been worth it. In this round, I started compiling favourite things and realized they were all digital/web-based, so that's the theme (why not?).
Youtube Channel: THE FINANCIAL DIET
This is a Vlogbrothers subsidiary, as are Crash Course, Sci Show, Healthcare Triage, and many other wonderful educational channels for nerds. TFD is also a blog, but the channel updates every Tuesday with videos related to financial independence and responsibility. Their overall emphasis is on the idea that, in the same way crash diets don’t work for your physical health, half-assed financial decisions/lack of understanding are equally terrible for your monetary health.
TFD is run by two lovely humans named Chelsea and Lauren, who are based in New York City. They aim to get 20-somethings to become interested and invested in their financial options and they offer lots of easily digestible, very sensible (but interesting!) strategies. They cover a wide range of topics like credit, student loans, budgeting, travel, investing, and how to get the most value from every dollar. They also talk about their own histories and mistakes often, so you never feel like they’re coming from a place of superiority. Bottom line, I come away from every video feeling more capable and excited about my finances. Highly recommend!
*Some of the details are specific to American systems, but most of the content is applicable regardless of your location.
Web Series: SKAM (http://skam-online.tumblr.com/episodes)
Okay, so this is a little niche/weird, but bear with me. SKAM (translation: shame) is a Norwegian teen show that became super popular after screencaps of one of its prominent gay couples turned up on Tumblr. Because Tumblr is a magical place, people took it upon themselves to offer links to stream the show AND set about creating English subtitles.
I’d seen this floating around for a while and heard that it was something of a Norwegian Degrassi or Skins kind of show. And it definitely is, in a lot of ways. The characters are teens and it deals with lots of “issues” like sex, drug/alcohol use, violence, etc.
However, the format is very unique. Each season follows a different main character, though they’re all in the same school. The episodes/clips are all different lengths and are uploaded at the times they would be occurring - meaning the part of the show whose heading is Monday: 1700h was uploaded on that day and time. There is also a Twitter component where the characters interact online.
Apart from the format, the acting is very good, there’s plenty of cheesy/angsty use of popular music (the biggest reason why the show can’t get licensed in other countries), and the cultural differences are really interesting. The drinking age is younger, most parents are absent for long periods, people sing in English, and the entire tradition of Russ time/buses is baffling but hilarious (basically, seniors are sponsored/buy buses and party in them all night during their final semester).
Overall, I have been highly enjoying this series and will be very sad when I finish the last season.
Piggybacking a bit on TFD, I’ve been loving an app they recommended called Mint. It also has a web-based version, but the general idea is that is connects all your accounts/loans/cards into a single place, creates budgets based on your actual transactions, sends weekly summaries, and lets you customize and plan goals.
One of my biggest issues with money has been having multiple accounts with different banks and not really having a real-time sense of my spending. With this app, I can check on my budgets while on the go and categorize transactions as I make them.
There are also helpful goal tools - for instance with student loans, you can estimate your interest on a variety of repayment periods. If you’re saving for college, it’ll take inflation into account for you. It’s a very user-friendly app, especially if the idea of keeping a budget in Excel or manually going through all your accounts’ transactions seems daunting.
I am not a phone game person at all. In fact, this is the only game on my phone, and it’s survived multiple “storage almost full” purges. If you enjoy crosswords, word searches, and general vocabulary/word association, Bonza will appeal to you.
You are given a topic for the puzzle and scattered pieces of crossword puzzle words. The object is to join the pieces to form words that fit the theme and end up in a properly connected crossword puzzle.
There are plenty of free puzzles/daily challenges and you earn coins to buy more sets. There’s also a National Geographic version of the app that’s animal-focused if you get really desperate for more puzzles.
Music Player: 8Tracks
I use this to make my playlist for Month in Music, but I also use it extensively at work. I primarily do data entry, so I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, etc. a lot. While I have music that I like, I find 8tracks is kind of a cross between your music and the radio. That is, it’s entirely composed of playlists by users, so you can search a tag like “80s”, “Christian indie”, “sad road trip”, or “2000s bubblegum pop” (those are completely random choices, of course) and get a bunch of playlists to choose from.
My favourite part, though, is that when one finishes, it’ll automatically take you to another related playlist. I’m one of those people who comes into work like “it’s a beautiful sunny day and I just need all the Disney” or conversely “it’s rainy and dark and I need to hear every rendition of Sound of Silence ever recorded”. 8tracks lets me identify my mood, however obscure, and then continues to give me songs that fit it without further intervention from me. A+