While it's good to cultivate intelligence, being aware and prepared are equally as important (if not more so, when it really counts). Here are a few common sense tips that otherwise clever people easily miss:

1. Keep a list of numbers in your wallet

If you were to lose your cell phone right now, how many numbers would you have memorized? Do you have a way of knowing where you are besides Google Maps or getting around other than Uber?

In a world where many of us truly rely on our phones for navigation, communication, transportation, and more, it's smart to limit your total dependence on this one device.

Write 4-5 emergency contact numbers on the back of a receipt right now and stick it in your wallet. If you ever lose your phone, you'll be glad to be able to get in touch with the people who matter most, right when you need them.

2. Get a phone mount for your car

I can't tell you the number of friends I have who still hold their phones on their laps or try to prop them somewhere in the car. This is both inconvenient and dangerous (for you and for others). Distracted driving caused over 400,000 major injuries in 2015, and texting and driving is 6x more likely to get you in an accident than driving drunk.

It costs less than $10 to get a simple car mount on Amazon or at a big box store. Do it.

3. Keep an emergency $20 in your wallet

There are still places that post the sign that strikes fear into the heart of every credit card and Apple Payer: "Cash only." And those places are usually ones in which you don't want to be stuck.

The next time CVS asks you if you want cash back, get a $20, fold it up into a tiny little square and stick it in the back of your wallet. You'll be glad you did.

4. Procure some plants

Science says plants cleanse the air of toxins, elevate your mood, release oxygen into the atmosphere (which helps you feel more clearheaded), humidify the air, and give you something to take care of, which stimulates the release of feel-good hormones.

This is a no brainer: Add plants for your bedroom and office for an easy and cheap way to improve your life concretely and right away. Here's a list of the top 10 NASA-recommended houseplants (some don't even need to be watered for months). 

5. Remember online exercise videos

If one of your new year's resolutions is to improve your physical fitness, you probably have lofty goals like going to the gym 3-4 times a week. That's great, but when it's sleeting out and you had to stay late at the office, you may not make it.

When you're short on time and motivation, use the abundant 10-20 minute exercise videos on YouTube to exercise quickly at home. You can easily strengthen your core, tone muscles, or simply stretch -- all of which will help you prevent injury when you do make it to the gym.

6. Remember that you can always use your phone to share your location

Ever been on an Uber trip and felt uncomfortable with the driver? In this or any situation in which you want to let someone to know precisely where you are, you can.

Familiarize yourself with this now: On an iPhone, when composing a text, tap on the info button in the upper right hand corner, then hit Share My Location. You can choose for how long you wish to share it. If you have a droid, get the app Glympse.

Also remember that you don't have to unlock your iPhone to dial 911. The bottom left of your locked screen says "Emergency" for a reason. Again, familiarize yourself with this now. Hopefully you'll never need it, but if you do, you're covered.

7. Buy these 5 emergency items

If there were a natural disaster, how prepared would you be? Snag these five items and you'll be more prepared than 90% of the population:

  1. Several gallons of water. If the water supply is compromised, this will be your biggest need. If you have a car, keep a few gallons in your trunk, too.
  2. Hydrogen peroxide and bandages. If someone is injured, you'll need to cleanse wounds until real help arrives. Know that honey can also be used as a sticky antiseptic (just pour it over a wound and then cover it).
  3. Space blankets. They're lightweight, so they work even if you've got to move locations.
  4. Canned foods. Get both pop top (don't require a can opener; good for when you're on the go) and ones that require a can opener (the food lasts longer).
  5. A solar-powered, hand-crank cell phone charger. If the grid goes down, you'll be able to charge your devices with solar, or by hand if there's limited sunlight. For just over $20, you can get one that doubles as a radio and flashlight.


"The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense." - Thomas Edison