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Joy

10 awkward friendships you probably have — we all have a #9.

Not all friendships are meant to last forever.

friendships, relationships. psychology
via Wait But Why and used with permission

The ten types of friends

When you're a kid, or in high school or college, you usually don't work too hard on your friend situations. Friends just kind of happen.

For a bunch of years, you're in a certain life your parents chose for you, and so are other people, and none of you have that much on your plates, so friendships inevitably form. Then in college, you're in the perfect friend-making environment, one that hits all three ingredients sociologists consider necessary for close friendships to develop: “proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other." More friendships happen.


Maybe they're the right friends, maybe they're not really. But you don't put that much thought into any of it — you're still more of a passive observer.

But once student life ends, the people in your life start to shake themselves into more distinct tiers.

It looks something like this mountain:

casual friends, acquaintances, best friends

Visual interpretation of where friends fall on the mountain of “You."

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

At the top of your life mountain, in the green zone, you have your Tier 1 friends — the people who feel like brothers and sisters.

These are the people closest to you, the ones you call first when something important happens, the ones you love even when they suck, who make speeches at your wedding, whose best and worst sides you know through and through, and whose relationship with you is eternal; even if you go months or years without hanging out, nothing has changed when you find yourself together again.

Unfortunately, depending on how things went down in your youth, Tier 1 can also contain your worst enemies, the people who can ruin your day with one subtle jab that only they could word so brilliantly hurtfully, the people you feel a burning resentment for, or jealousy of, or competition with. Tier 1 is high stakes.

Below, in the yellow zone, are your Tier 2 friends: your Pretty Good friends.

Pretty Good friends are a much calmer situation than your brothers and sisters on Tier 1. You might be invited to their wedding, but you won't have any responsibilities once you're there. If you live in the same city, you might see them every month or two for dinner and have a great time when you do, but if one of you moves, you might not speak for the next year or two. And if something huge happens in their life, there's a good chance you'll hear it first from someone else.

Toward the bottom of the mountain in the orange zone, you have your Tier 3 friends: your Not Really friends.

You might grab a one-on-one drink with one of them when you move to their city, but then it surprises neither of you when five years pass and drink #2 is still yet to happen. Your relationship tends to exist mostly as part of a bigger group or through the occasional Facebook Like, and it doesn't even really stress you out when you hear that one of them made $5 million last year. You may also try to sleep with one of these people at any given time.

The lowest part of Tier 3 begins to blend indistinguishably into your large group of acquaintances (the pink zone): those people you'd stop and talk to if you saw them on the street or would maybe email for professional purposes but whom you'd never hang out with one-on-one. When you hear that something bad happens to one of these people, you pretend to be sad but you don't actually care.

Finally, acquaintances gradually blend into the endless world of strangers.

And depending on who you are and how things shook out in those first 25 years, the way your particular mountain looks will vary.

For example, there's Walled-Off Wally:

introverts, emotionally stunted, isolation

Some people keep a barrier up between acquaintances.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

And Phony Phoebe, who tries to be everyone's best friend and ends up with a lot of people mad at her:

extrovert, social butterfly, partier

The life of the party.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Even Unabomber Ulysses has a mountain:

hermit, loneliness, therapy

Hermits exist.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Whatever your particular mountain looks like, eventually the blur of your youth is behind you, the dust has settled, and there you are living your life.

Then one day, usually around your mid- or late 20s, it hits you: It's not that easy to make friends anymore.

Sure, you'll make new friends in the future — at work, through your spouse, through your kids — but you won't get to that Tier 1 brothers level, or even to Tier 2, with very many of them because people who meet as adults don't tend to get through the 100+ long, lazy hangouts needed to reach a bond of that strength. As time goes on, you start to realize that the 20-year frenzy of not-especially-thought-through haphazard friend-making you just did was the critical process of you making most of your lifelong friends.

And since you matched up with most of them A) by circumstance, and B) before you really knew yourself yet, the result is that your Tier 1 and Tier 2 friends — those closest to you — fall in a very scattered way on what I'll call the Does This Friendship Make Sense graph:

friendship health, loyalty, trauma

The friendship graph.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

So, who are all those close friends in the three non-ideal quadrants?

As time goes on, most of us tend to have fewer friends in Quadrants 2 through 4 because A) people mature, and B) people have more self-respect and higher standards for what they'll deal with as they get older. But the fact is, friendships made in the formative years often stick, whether they're ideal or not, leaving most of us with a portion of our Tier 1 and Tier 2 friendships that just don't make that much sense. We'll get to the great, Quadrant 1 friendships later in the post, but in order to treat those relationships properly, we need to take a thorough look at the odd ones first.

Here are 10 common ones:

1. The non-question-asking friend

selfish, compassion, equl

Odd moments that happen between friends.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

You'll be having a good day. You'll be having a bad day. You'll be happy at work. You'll quit your job. You'll fall in love. You'll catch your new love cheating on you and murder them both in an act of incredible passion. And it doesn't matter, because none of it will be discussed with The Non-Question-Asking Friend, who never, ever, ever asks you anything about your life. This friend can be explained in one of three ways:

  1. He's extremely self-absorbed and only wants to talk about himself.
  2. He avoids getting close to people and doesn't want to talk about either you or himself or anything personal, just third-party topics.
  3. He thinks you're insufferably self-absorbed and knows if he asks you about your life, you'll talk his ear off about it.

Giving you the benefit of the doubt here, we're left with two possibilities. Possibility #1 isn't fun at all and this person should not be allowed space on Tier 1. The green part of the mountain is sacred territory, and super self-absorbed people shouldn't be permitted to set foot up there. Put him on Tier 2 and just be happy you're not dating him.

Possibility #2 is a pretty dark situation for your friend, but it can actually be fun for you. I have a friend who I've hung out with one-on-one about four times in the last year, and he has no idea Wait But Why exists. I've known him for 14 years and I'm not sure he knows if I have siblings or not. But I actually enjoy the shit out of this friend — sure, there's a limit on how close we'll ever be, but without ever spending time talking about our lives, we actually end up in a lot of fun, interesting conversations.

2. The friend in the group you can't be alone with under any circumstances

awkward moments, texting, social media

Why have relationships when there is a phone around?

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

In almost every group of friends, there's one pair who can't ever be alone together. It's not that they dislike each other — they might get along great — it's just that they have no individual friendship with each other whatsoever. This leaves both of them petrified of the lumbering elephant that appears in the room anytime they're alone together. They're way too on top of shit to ever end up in the car alone together if a group is going somewhere in multiple cars, but there are smaller dangers afoot — like being the first two to arrive at a restaurant or being in a group of three when the third member goes to the bathroom.

The thing is, sometimes it's not even that these people couldn't have an individual friendship — it's just that they don't, and neither one has the guts to try to make that leap when things have gone on for so long as is.

3. The non-character-breaking friend you have to be “on" with

comedian, intimacy, sarcasm

Controlled intimacy and distancing through language.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

This is a friend who's terrified of having an earnest interaction, and as such, your friendship with him is always in some kind of skit you always have to be on when you're interacting.

Sometimes the skit is that you both burst out laughing at everything constantly. He can only exist with you in “This is so fucking hilarious, it's too much!" mode, so you have to be in some kind of joke-telling or sarcastic mode yourself at all times or he'll become socially horrified.

Another version of this is the “always and only ironic" friend, who you really bum out if you ever break that social shell and say something earnest. This type of person hates earnest people because someone being earnest dares him to come out from under his ironic safety blanket and let the sun touch his face, and no fucking thanks.

A third example is the “You're great, I'm great, ugh why is everyone else so terrible and not great like us" friend. Of course, she doesn't really think you're perfectly great at all — if she were with someone else, you'd be one of the voodoo dolls on the table to be dissected and scoffed at. The key here is that the two of you must be on a team at all times while interacting. The only comfortable mode for this person is bonding with you by building a little pedestal for you both to stand on while you criticize everyone else. You can either play along and everything will go smoothly, even though you'll both despise yourselves and each other the whole time, or you can commit the ultimate sin and have the integrity to disagree with the friend or defend a non-present party the friend criticizes. Doing this will shatter the fragile team vibe and make the friend recoil and say something quietly like, “Hm ... yeah ... I guess." The friend now respects you for the first time and will also criticize you extra hard next time she's playing her pedestal game with a different friend.

What these all have in common is the friend has tall walls up, at least toward you, and so she builds a little skit for you two to hang out in to make sure any authentic connection can be avoided. Sometimes that person only does this out of her own social anxiety and can become a great, authentic friend if you can just stomp through the ice. Other times, the person is just hopelessly scared and closed off and there's no hope and you have to get out.

In any case, I can't stand these interactions and am in a full panic the entire time they're happening.

4. The double-obligated friendship

obligation, common ground, 30\u2019s

I think we need a bigger table.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Think of a friend you get together with from time to time, which usually happens after a long and lackluster email or text exchange during which you just can't find a time that works for both of you — and you're never really happy when these plans are being made and not really psyched when you wake up and it's finally on your schedule for that day.

Maybe you're aware that you don't want to be friends with that person, or maybe you're delusional about it — but what you're most likely not aware of is that they probably don't want to see you either.

There are lopsided situations where one person is far more interested in hanging out than the other (we'll get to those later), but in the case we're talking about here, both parties often think it's a lopsided situation without realizing that the other person actually feels the same way — that's why it takes so long to schedule a time. When someone's excited about something, they figure out how to get it into their schedule; when they're not, they figure out ways to push it farther into the future.

Sometimes you don't think hard enough about it to even realize you don't like being friends with the person, and other times you really like the idea or the aesthetic of being friends with that particular person — being friends with them is part of your Story. But even in cases where you're perfectly lucid about your feelings, since neither of you knows the other feels the same way and neither has the guts to just cut things off or move it down a tier, this friendship usually just continues along for eternity.

5. The half-marriage

love, pain, self esteem

An ego boost through controlling the relationship.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Somewhere in your life, you're probably part of a friendship that would be a marriage if only the other person weren't very, very, extremely not interested in that happening. 1 for 2 on yes votes — just one vote away — so close.

You might be on either side of this — and either way, it's one of the least healthy parts of your life. Fun!

If you're on the if only side of things, probably the right move is to get your fucking shit together? Ya know? This friendship is one long, continuous rejection of you as a human being, and you're just wallowing there in your yearning like a sobbing little seal. Plus, duh, if you gather your self-respect and move on with your life, it'll raise their perception of your value and they might actually become interested in you.

If you're on the Oh yeah,definitely not side of the situation, here's what's happening: There's this suffering human in the world, and you know they're suffering, and you fucking love it, because it gives your little ego a succulent sponge bath every time you hang out with them. You enjoy it so much you probably even lead them on intentionally, don't you — you make sure to keep just enough ambiguity in the situation that their bleeding heart continues to lather your ego from head to toe at your whim.

Both of you — go do something else.

6. The historical friend

life long friendship, best friends, childhood

We met in kindergarten.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

A Historical Friend is someone you became friends with in the first place because you met when you were little and stayed friends through the years, even though you're a very weird match. Most old friends fall somewhat into this category, but a true Historical Friend is someone you absolutely would not be friends with if you met them today.

You're not especially pleased with who they are, and they feel the same way about you. You're not each other's type one bit. Unfortunately, you're also extremely close friends from when you were four, and you're both just a part of each other's situation forever, sorry.

7. The non-parallel life paths friendship

alcoholism, drug use, parenting

Looking for love in all the wrong places.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Throughout childhood and much of young adulthood, most people your age are in the same life stage as you are. But when it comes to advancing into full adulthood, people do so at widely varying paces, which leads to certain friends suddenly having totally different existences from one another.

Anyone within three years of 30 has a bunch of these going on. It's just a weird time for everyone. Some people have become Future 52-year-olds, while others are super into being Previous 21-year-olds. At some point, things will start to meld together again, but being 30-ish is the friendship equivalent of a kid going through an awkward pubescent stage.

There are darker, more permanent Non-Parallel Life Path situations. Like when Person A starts to become a person who rejects material wealth, partially because she genuinely feels that pursuing an artistic path matters more and partially because she needs a defense mechanism against feeling envious of richer people, and Person B's path makes her scoff at people who pursue creative paths, partially because she genuinely thinks expressing yourself is an inherently narcissistic venture and partially because she needs a defense mechanism against feeling regretful that she never pursued her creative dreams — these two will have problems.

They may still like each other, but they can't be as close as they used to be — each of their lives is a bit of a middle finger at the other's choices, and that's jst awkward for everyone. It's not always that bad — but to survive an Off-Line Life Situation, friends need to be really different people who don't at all want the same things out of life.

8. The frenemy

frenemy, toxic relationships, psychology

This is awful. Taste it.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

The Frenemy roots very hard against you. And I'm not talking about the friends that will feel a little twinge of pleasure when they hear your big break didn't pan out after all or that your relationship is in bad shape. I'm not even talking about someone who secretly roots against you when they're not doing so well at some area of life and it hurts them to see you do better. Those are bad emotions, but they can exist in people who are still good friends.

I'm talking about a real Frenemy — someone who really wants bad things for you. Because you're you.

You and the Frenemy usually go way back, have a very deep friendship, and the trouble probably started a long time ago. There's a lot of complex psychology going on in these situations that I don't fully understand, but my hunch is that a Frenemy's resentment is rooted in his own pain, or his own shortcomings, or his own regret — and for some reason, your existence stings them in these places hard.

A little less dark but no less harmful is a bully situation where a friend sees some weakness or vulnerability in you and she enjoys prodding you there either for sadistic reasons or to prop herself up.

A Frenemy knows how to hurt you better than anyone because you're deeply similar in some way and she knows how you're wired. She'll do whatever she can to bring you down any chance she gets, often in such a subtle way it's hard to see that it's happening.

Whatever the reason, if you have a Frenemy in your life, kick her toxic ass off your mountain, or at leastkick her down the mountain — just get her off of Tier 1. A Frenemy has about a 10th of the power to hurt you from Tier 2 as she does from Tier 1.

9. The Facebook celebrity friend

social media, Facebook, Instagram

What’s happening on social media?

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

This person isn't a celebrity to anyone other than you, you creep. You know exactly who I'm talking about — there are a small handful of people whose Facebook page you're uncomfortably well-acquainted with, and those people have no idea that this is happening. On the plus side, there are people out there you haven't spoken to in seven years who know all about the new thing you're trying with your hair, since it goes both ways.

This is a rare Tier 3 friend, or even an acquaintance, who qualifies as an odd friendship because you found a way to make it unhealthy even though you're not actually friends. Well done.

10. The lopsided friendship

bossy, inequality, bully

Can I make all the decisions... that was rhetorical.

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

There are a lot of ways a friendship can be lopsided: Someone can be higher on their friend's mountain than vice versa. Someone can want to spend more time with a friend than vice versa. One member can consistently do 90% of the listening and only 10% of the talking, and in situations where most of the talking is about life problems, what's happening is a one-sided therapy situation, with a badly off-balance give-and-take ratio, and that's not much of a friendship — it's someone using someone else.

And then there's the lopsided power friendship. Of course, this is a hideous quality in many not-great couples, but it's also a prominent feature of plenty of friendships.

A near 50/50 friendship is ideal, but anything out to 65/35 is fine and can often be attributed to two different styles of personality. It's when the number gap gets even wider that something less healthy is going on — something that doesn't reflect very well on either party.

There are some obvious ways to assess the nature of a friendship's power dynamic: Does one person cut in and interrupt the other person while they're talking far more than the other way around? Is one person's opinion or preference just kind of understood to carry more weight than the other's? Is one person allowed to be more of a dick to the other than vice versa?

Another interesting litmus test is what I call the “mood determiner test." This comes into play when two friends get together but they're in very different moods — the idea is, whose mood “wins" and determines the mood of the hangout. If Person A is in a bad mood, Person B is in a good mood, and Person B reacts by being timid and respectful of Person A's mood, leaving the vibe down there until Person A snaps out of it on her own — but when the moods are reversed, Person B quickly disregards her own bad mood and acts more cheerful to match Person A's happy mood — and this is how it always goes — then Person A is in a serious power position.

But hey, not all friendships are grim.

In the Does This Friendship Make Sense graph above, the friendships we just discussed are all in Quandrants 2, 3, or 4 — i.e., they're all a bit unenjoyable, unhealthy, or both. That's why this has been depressing. On the bright side, there's also Quadrant 1 — all the friendships that do make sense.

No friendship is perfect, but those in Quadrant 1 are doing what friendships are supposed to do: They're making the lives of both parties better. And when a friendship is both in Quadrant 1 of the graph and on Tier 1 of your mountain, that friendship is a rock in your life.

Rock friendships don't just make us happy — they're the thing (along with rock family and romantic relationships) that makes us happy.

Investing serious time and energy into those is a no-brainer long-term life strategy. But in the case of most people over 25 — at least in New York — I think A) not enough time is carved out as dedicated friend time, and B) the time that is carved out is spread too thin, and too evenly, among the Tier 1 and Tier 2 friendships in all four quadrants. I'm definitely guilty of this myself.

There's something I call the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap. When you haven't seen a good friend in a long time, the first order of business is a big catch-up — you want to know what's going on in their career, with their girlfriend, with their family, etc., and they want to catch up on your life. In theory, once this happens, you can go back to just hanging out, shooting the shit, and actually being in the friendship. The problem is, when you don't make enough time for good friends, seeing them only for a meal and not that often — you end up spending each get-together catching up, and you never actually get to just enjoy the friendship or get far past the surface. That's the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap, and I find myself falling into it with way too many of the rocks in my life.

There are two orders of business right now:

First, think about your friendships, figure out which ones aren't in Quadrant 1, and demote them down the mountain. I'm not suggesting you stop being friends with those people — you still love them and feel loyal to them, and old friends are critical to hold onto — but if the friendships aren't that healthy or enjoyable, they don't really deserve to be in your Tier 1, and you probably shouldn't be in theirs. Most importantly, doing this clears up time to...

Second, dedicate even more time to the Quadrant 1, Tier 1 rocks in your life. If you're in your mid-20s or older, your current rocks are probably the only ones you'll ever have. Your rock friendships don't warrant two times the time you give to your other friends — they warrant five or 10 times!

Your rocks deserve serious, dedicated time so you can stay close. So go make plans with them.


This article was written by Tim Urban and originally published on Wait But Why. It originally appeared here on 03.11.16

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

6 states where the minimum wage and cost of living offer the best bang for your buck

The highest state minimum wage in the U.S. is now $16.28 per hour, but some cities are even higher.

State minimum wages range from $7.25/hr to $17.00/hr in 2024.

Public discourse about minimum wage and living wages has been ongoing for years, with people debating whether the government should mandate a minimum hourly pay for workers.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first federal minimum wage law in 1938, setting the lowest wage a worker could be paid at 25 cents per hour. Nearly a century later, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, holding steady since 2009, with people lobbying to raise it to at least $15/hr for over a decade. However, in addition to federal law, each state has its own laws, a handful of which establish a state minimum wage higher than $15, a handful of which don't have a set minimum wage at all and everything in between.

Cost of living has also been a hot topic as inflation has squeezed everyone's wallets and certain cities and states have become utterly unaffordable, especially for people in low-wage jobs or who who are just starting out in their careers. So how do minimum wage and cost of living correlate state-by-state? Are there any sweet spots with a high(er) minimum wage and low(er) cost of living?


While there’s no perfect storm of super low cost of living and super high minimum wage—for instance, Washington, D.C. has the highest state minimum wage at $17/hr, but housing costs 140% more than the national average—there are some states where the ratio is far more favorable than others. According to Insider Monkey, here are the top six states where you can get the most bang for your minimum wage buck.

6. New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment offers a relatively decent living for its $12/hr minimum wage thanks to the state's below average cost of living. According to Rent Cafe, housing in New Mexico is 8% lower than the national average, monthly utilities are 9% lower, food is 4% lower, transportation is 3% lower and healthcare, goods and services are 2% lower.

According to Smart Asset, Albuquerque, New Mexico ranks as No. 10 in U.S. cities where minimum wage goes the furthest.

5. New Jersey

The Garden State's relatively higher-than-average cost of living is counteracted by relatively solid minimum wage of $14.13/hr. Most of the cost of living in New Jersey is wrapped up in housing, which is 30% higher than the national average, according to Rent Cafe, and utilities, which are 12% higher. Goods and services are 5% higher, but healthcare is 2% lower than the national average. Food and transportation are 1% and 2% higher, respectively.

4. Connecticut

With both a cost of living and minimum wage slightly higher than New Jersey, Connecticut rolls in at No. 4 with a $15/hr minimum wage. Where the Constitution State hits hardest is in utilities, which Rent Cafe places at 30% higher than the national average, and housing, which is 24% higher. Healthcare and goods and services are both 9% higher, while transportation and food are just 1% and 2% above average.

3. Missouri

The Show-Me State says, "Show me the money!" with its somewhat respectable $12/hr minimum wage, which goes pretty far with its relatively low cost of living. Housing is the biggest cost benefit Missouri offers at 18% lower than the national average. But utilities, food, healthcare, and goods and services are also all below average, with only transportation landing right at the national average.

Additionally, St. Louis clocked in at No. 5 for a minimum wage real-world value of $13.68 when adjusting for the city's lower-than-average cost of living.

2. Washington

With the highest state minimum wage in the nation (unless you count Washington, D.C.), Washington's $16.48/hr puts it in second place when accounting for cost of living. Make no mistake, Washington isn't cheap overall, with a cost of living 15% higher than the national average. Housing and transportation hit hard at 29% and 27% higher than the national average, respectively. Healthcare is pricey as well at 20% higher than average. Food costs 12% more, but utilities clock in at 7% less than the national average.

Two cities in Washington hit the top 15 for highest real minimum wage value, though, with Seattle at No. 13 and Spokane at No. 2.

map of united states with these states highlighted in green: Washington, New Mexico, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut

These six states offer the best minimum wage to cost of living ratio.

Created with mapchart.net

1. Illinois

If you want the best bang for your minimum wage buck, head to the Prairie State with its $13/hr minimum wage and 8% lower than average cost of living. Housing in Illinois is 22% lower than average and utilities are 10% lower. The only expense that comes in higher than average for Illinois is transportation at 3% above average, which isn't enough to keep it out of the top spot.

However, there are some minimum wage sweet spots in certain U.S. cities that aren't reflected in these state rankings. According to Smart Asset, Denver, CO, is the city where minimum wage goes the farthest in the nation. Colorado comes in at a respectable 7th place in state minimum-wage-to-cost-of-living ratio, but Denver has its own mandatory minimum wage of $18.29/hr.

A citywide minimum wage is part of what puts Seattle at the No. 13 spot on that same list. Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., but its $19.97 minimum wage for most workers changes the ratio in its favor.

Other cities in the top 10 include Buffalo, NY; Minneapolis, MN; Tucson, AZ; St. Paul, MN; Phoenix, AZ and Stockton, CA.

The minimum wage conversation may vary widely across the U.S., with different costs of living and different state laws on the books. But if you're looking to move someplace where your wage will go the furthest, these six states will likely be your best bet to check out first.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Health

Research shows that spicy foods may help you live longer

Breakthrough research is great news for buffalo wing addicts.

Chicken wings at Anchor Bar in Buffalo-Niagara Airport.

There's an arms race happening at your local wing joint. According to QSR, it's because Americans have strayed from eating traditional fare and are embracing spicier ethnic foods such as Mexican and Asian cuisine.

A 2013 Consumer Flavor Trend Report found that a majority of Americans (54 percent) prefer hot or spicy foods, including sauces, condiments, and dips, compared with 48 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2009. Now, a new report out of China shows that this new trend in American eating habits could prolong our life spans.


Researchers discovered the connection between spicy food and longevity after studying the results of a survey of 500,000 Chinese people taken from 2004 to 2008. The survey asked people about their dietary habits, including the amount of chili they consumed on a weekly basis. When researchers checked back in with respondents seven years later, those who consumed spicy foods once a week had a 10 percent lesser chance of death. And those who ate spicy foods three to seven times a week had a 14 percent lesser chance of death.

"We know something about the beneficial effects of spicy foods basically from animal studies and very small-sized human studies," Lu Qi, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Time. Studies have shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in spicy foods, is linked to a lower risk of cancer as well as heart and respiratory diseases. It also has a positive effect on metabolism, weight, and gut bacteria.

"It appears that increasing your intake moderately, just to one to two or three to five times a week, shows a very similar protective effect," Qi said. "Just increase moderately. That's maybe enough." So, if you want an extra dab of Tabasco on your tacos, go for it. But you might not want to eat a dozen fried, greasy buffalo wings every night—that will probably cancel out the positive effects of the chili.

This article originally appeared on 09.19.17

@skylerleestutzman/TikTok

People were shocked to find out how much Skyler Stutzman earned as a UPS driver

People are seriously considering switching careers after finding out how much can be made as a UPS delivery driver.

Back in October, Skyler Stutzman, an Oregon-based UPS delivery driver went viral after sharing his weekly pay stub on TikTok.

In the clip, Stutzman showed that for 42 hours of work, and at a pay rate of $44.26 per hour, he earned $2,004 before taxes, and ultimately took home $1,300 after deductions.

This both shocked the nearly 12 million viewers who saw the video…not to mention it stirred their jealousy a bit.


Several couldn’t help but compare Stutzman’s salary to their own—especially those in professions requiring degrees and certifications.

“Not me realizing that a UPS driver makes more than I do. 20 years in my field with a degree!” one person lamented.

Another added, “$44? I’m a dang nurse only making $32 🤦♀️”

@skylerleestutzman UPS Driver Paystub Breakdown… #upspay #upswages #teamsters #ups ♬ original sound - Skyler Stutzman

Many even joked (or perhaps half-joked) about applying to become drivers themselves. But as Stutzman pointed out in multiple follow-up videos, earning his rate takes patience.


According to one of those clips, it took almost six years before he was offered a full time position, followed by a four year progression of wage increases until he started earning what he earns today. That’s around a decade, which one person pointed out was around the same time it takes to become a doctor.

Stutzman added that, depending on the location, you would be required to work in a UPS warehouse before working as a driver. So while his paycheck might have you considering taking on the job yourself, just know that it’s not exactly taking the easy route. And we haven’t even touched on the amount of manual labor that goes into the job…rain or shine.

Stutzman also said that he shared his current paycheck in the spirit of transparency, which is a value that the teamsters upheld as they fought for increased wages and better working conditions earlier this year.

@skylerleestutzman Here are my THEORETICAL thoughts… “Why would you show your paystub like that?” #upsdriver #ups #upswages #teamster #upspay ♬ original sound - Skyler Stutzman

After months of tense negotiations, as well as a threat to enact what would have been the largest single employer strike in U.S. history, disrupting deliveries across the country, the postal workers union reached an agreement with UPS.

The deal included air conditioning and ventilation improvements to delivery vehicles as well as full-time UPS drivers earning an average of $170,000 in annual pay, plus benefits. By the end of the contract, part-time union drivers would also make at least $25.75 per hour while receiving full health care and pension benefits,” according to UPS CEO Carol Tomé.

From Stutzman’s perspective, his earnings shouldn’t cause envy among those in other industries, but reflect a shared need for increased wages across the board to keep up with inflation.

Big takeaways here: earning good money doesn’t always require a degree, unions are powerful, don’t underestimate the value of skilled labor…and UPS drivers deserve respect.


This article originally appeared on 12.12.23

Joy

Weird jobs most people don't even know exist that can actually make good money

There's a person who's whole job is just to take care of plants on movie and TV sets.

There are people who make a living smelling and tasting things.

When people ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, some common career themes usually emerge—doctor, firefighter, teacher, artist, computer programmer, architect, pilot, journalist and the like. These jobs are familiar to everyone, and even if we don't fully know the ins and out of what each job entails, we have a solid picture of what they do and why their job is important.

There are also less obvious jobs that we might not think of as dream careers but still know exist and are important, like mortician, plumber, garbage collector, truck driver or postal delivery person.

But there's also a whole world of jobs that most people have never heard of or even imagined—and some of them even pay surprisingly well. Here's a handful of weird jobs that people do without most of the world knowing.


Escort (but not that kind of escort)

The movies make much of "escorts" in our nation's capital, but this is a different kind of escort that involves having security clearance and being physically present. That's it.

"When you work as a government employee or contractor with a top secret clearance, after you retire or get laid off, you can work as an escort within classified facilities called SCIFs. Escorts are needed when an uncleared person needs to work in the SCIF. For example, it might be a top secret data center that needs an air conditioner repair. All the escort has to do is watch the repairman and stay with them throughout the visit. They usually just drag a chair over and sit there while getting paid damn good money." – BaconReceptacle

"One of the most quietly-frustrating months of my life was doing hard labor on a government building site as a construction worker, going like ~80 hours a week, and realizing the annoying escort I had who was sitting around all day watching us was making a significant amount more than me." – Few-Metal8010

Tasters and smellers

Some people get paid just to taste or smell things. Even pet food. (How does one get this job? Genuinely curious.)

"I used to be friends with one of Heineken's official tasters. She literally drank every day for work. Don't know how the pay was but she didn't seem broke." – curiousvegetables

"My sister in law is 'the nose' for yankee candle. When a vat of scented wax is ready, she sniffs it." – Loreo1964

"My mom used to work for a sensory company that was outsourced by huge brands to do taste, smell, texture testing. Once many years ago I got in on a hot pocket panel because their target market was teens. I made $20 and got a free hot pocket. She made good money though!" – brownbostonterrier


woman hanging a piece of art

Hanging art is an art in itself.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Professional picture hanger

Yep, the thing all of us do in our own homes for free (with varying levels of success) is an actual paid job for people in the art world. And some of them can make a pretty decent living at it.

"An old neighbor of mine was a picture hanging specialist contracted by many museums. He made 75K a year at the time (about 150K adjusted for inflation)." – Schwarzes__Loch

"A buddy of mine does this and makes great money. Most of the clients are rich people with private collections. They also pack and transport the artwork." – frankyseven

Flavorists

On the other end of the food business are the magical chemists who create the yummy flavors we enjoy in candies and other treats.

"My dad was a master flavorist. He made artificial flavors for candy, beverages and lots of other things. He made a LOT of money during his career." – Whoru87

"I'm an analytical chemist for a flavor company who (among other things) reverse engineers competitive flavors to give the flavor chemists insight lol.

Indeed they make bank.

Finding out how you can make a naturally derived ie citrus flavor taste the same every time when you have to source your extracts and oils from different places in the world, at different times of the year, while the stock might be a different age due to supply issues can be a lot more complex than one might think." – die_lahn

"It is my absolute dream job to be a certified flavor chemist/flavorist. Used to work under a couple at a very niche company (could only make fruit/menthol flavors), and recently moved into food industry thinking I’d be able to gain more experience in savory applications. Unfortunately that has not been the case for me so far. Wish they had more flavor houses hiring in Norcal! Learning directly under an expert is the only way to do it." – Successful-Ad5488


set of hobbiton from lord of the rings

Someone has to keep the plants on set thriving.

Photo by Neha Godbole on Unsplash

Greensperson on film sets

There are actually a lot of jobs on film sets that people aren't aware of, but taking care of plants on sets full time is certainly not on most people's radar.

"I’m a greensperson in the film industry. I’m responsible for building and maintaining the plants and trees on a set." – Prospector_Steve

"In general many people sleep on behind the scenes jobs in Hollywood. It’s a good way to make money and you get to meet celebrities." – Immediate_Revenue_90

"A lot of filming locations are chosen based on the tax breaks the studio can get for filming there, and not on the 'correct' climate or biome. And sometimes, an outdoor scene will be shot on an indoor stage if an appropriate location can't be found which is safe, accessible, meets the needs of the camera positioning, etc.

A film/TV production is a massive, expensive machine, and often small details have to be sacrificed in order to keep it oiled and running smoothly. This isn't just true of the greens department, but all of them, really (costumes, props, etc.)" – ethacct

Organ runner

More commonly known as a "medical courier," this job entails transporting human organs (or tissue or blood) from place to place. Time is of the essence with an organ being transplanted, so this job requires being on call and knowing how to safely transport the goods. But according to at least one person on Reddit, it's a pretty sweet gig:

"I worked as an 'Organ deliverer.' Forgot the official title for around a year.

Job was simple I was stationed in the biggest hospital in my state. If an organ donation was received that needed to go to another hospital for a transplant it was my job to move it.

I was paid $40 an hour to most nights sit on my ass in the break room and watch TV or play on my phone. I'd probably only have to deliver something once a week at most. It was an okay job except that it was boring as shit, since the hospital I was 'Stationed' at did 95% of all the organ transplants in my state. And the other major hospital that did them was around 3 hours away and you wouldn't ever have to go up to north to it.

Lots of pay to sit around but well I wasn't exactly feeling fulfilled career wise." – Larcya

bats flying

Bat tracking (and other urban wildlife tracking) is an important ecological job.

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

Batman (or urban bat tracker, to be precise)

This might be the most poetic job description ever written:

"You ever heard of an urban bat tracker? That's me. I'm the guy who steps into the night when the city sleeps, tracking the unseen ballet of bats against the backdrop of empty offices and starlit skies. My job is a blend of science and solitude. Armed with detectors that translate bat echolocation into something audible, I map their flight, study their behavior, and contribute to research that's vital for urban ecosystem conservation. It's not just a job it's a commitment to understanding these misunderstood creatures of the night. The experience is surreal. As the world winds down, my work begins. I walk through parks and alleyways, under bridges and alongside rivers. The citys nocturnal pulse becomes my soundtrack - a car horn here, a distant laughter there, all underlined by the constant, rhythmic clicking of my bat detector. Each night is a lesson in patience and awe. Bats, these tiny, agile creatures, dart and dive in the darkness, almost like shadows flitting at the edge of my vision. There's a poetry in their flight, a kind of silent music that fills the night air. The pay is decetn, surprisingly. It's a niche field, and expertise in urban wildlife ecology can be hard to come by. But it's not the money that keeps me here. It's the moments of connection, the feeling of being a part of something bigger and wilder, right in the heart of the city. Sometimes the most extraordinary things are hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered in the quiet symphony of the night." – Local_dog91

There are so many more interesting jobs, from testing medical equipment to felting mini-golf courses to taking care of rich people's cars, homes and horses. If you're looking for work, keep your eyes and ears out for unusual opportunities. You just never know what kinds of careers you might stumble into.

Science

When these drones zoom in over elephants and rhinos, they stop horrible things from happening

A shepherd watches over sheep. Watching over elephants and rhinos? Not so easy.

via The Lindbergh Foundation

Drone footage from the Aerial Shepherd.


This is a story about something really exciting.

Before I get into it, let me set the stage by explaining the terrible problem it's solving.

10 years.

That's how long it'll be until the last wild elephants and rhinoceroses are gone.

100 of them are killed every day by poachers.

Even though elephants and rhinos are legally protected, the amount of money that can be made from the ivory in their tusks is just too much for some people to resist.


So poachers go after elephants and rhinos in secret. They kill them in out-of-the-way places that are hard to patrol, and they do it at night under the cover of darkness.

Every hour, another elephant or rhino family is broken forever.

Now the Lindbergh Foundation has come up with an idea about how to stop poachers.

They've been testing their idea for two years now, and it really works.

Air Shepherd uses drones and computers to watch over elephants and rhinos the same way a shepherd protects his sheep.


It's an amazing international, hi-tech system.

The drones in Africa are decked out with normal and infrared cameras that see where the animals — and the poachers — are. Even in the dark of night.

That imagery is sent to computers in the U.S. Using special software, they send back flight plans to the drones that predict where the animals are headed, which keeps the drones on top of the poachers.

Local rangers are notified, and they sweep in on the poachers.

During the 600 tests they've run so far, precisely zero poaching has occurred.

It's a fantastic system.

Seven African countries have already requested help.

The Foundation has provided the seed money. They need contributions, though, so head over to the Air Shepherd site to see how you can get involved in this amazing project.

Please let your animal-loving friends know about this breakthrough program that could keep elephants and rhinos from going extinct. It's so exciting.

(Unfortunately, the Lindbergh Foundation's video has been removed from YouTube. But here's an NBC News report about the project.)


This article originally appeared on 03.12.15