Whole Foods is raising prices less than two years after Amazon’s acquisition

Whole Foods raising prices

Depending on who you ask, Whole Foods is continuing to live up to the unfortunate nickname — “Whole Paycheck” — that cost-conscious shoppers bestowed on it. We’re referring in this case to a leaked email obtained by The Wall Street Journal, which showed that even with Amazon’s deep pockets, Whole Foods is apparently quietly rising prices on many items. The reason being — well, even Whole Foods is not immune to challenges facing its industry peers, with the leaked email noting that the grocer feels the need to keep hiking prices to cover rising costs.

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4 Financial Steps to Take if You’re Raising a Child With Special Needs

Raising any child is expensive, but when you’re raising a child who has special needs, there are additional financial responsibilities to consider.

The cost of doctor’s visits, therapy appointments, medication and special equipment add up. The amount of time needed to provide care may restrict you or your partner from working outside the home — or even at all.

Depending on your child’s condition, you may need to provide them with lifetime support.

It can be overwhelming just dealing with the medical and emotional aspects of your child’s particular challenges. Here’s what to know so that your finances don’t add to that stress.

Apply for Government Benefits

After your child is diagnosed, you’ll probably want to speak with a social worker who can help you understand what assistance may be available to your family and how to apply for that aid. Your child’s physician may be able to recommend a social worker, or you can contact your city or county department of social services.

A special needs attorney can also assist you. Robert Fechtman is a special needs attorney in Indiana and the president of the Special Needs Alliance, a national organization made up of attorneys who specialize in disability and public benefits law. He helps families navigate the public benefits system and plan for their children’s futures.

Fechtman said families may qualify for financial assistance through Social Security.

The Social Security Administration gives out Supplemental Security Income, also referred to as SSI, to children with qualified medical conditions whose family’s income falls under a certain threshold. The amount of assistance, which is given out monthly, varies from state to state.

Once your child reaches adulthood, he or she may also be able to receive Social Security disability benefits, which the administration gives out when an adult isn’t able to work due to a medical condition.

Depending on your family’s income, your child may also be able to qualify for free health insurance through Medicaid. Oftentimes if your child qualifies for SSI, he or she would also qualify for Medicaid. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is available for families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but still can’t afford private health insurance.

The Fouche family of Ocala, Florida, qualifies for both Medicaid and SSI to cover costs for their 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has cerebral palsy. Vicki Fouche, Hannah’s mother, says the government aid has been a blessing for their family, but she worries that if her husband made more money, they’d lose those benefits and have more out-of-pocket expenses.

A mother puts shoes on her daughter as her daughter is playing on an iPad.

Families that don’t qualify for publicly funded medical insurance might find an affordable health insurance provider via the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Open enrollment has ended for 2019, but you can enroll if you have a qualifying life change, such as if you recently lost health insurance.

Fechtman also tells his clients to apply for Medicaid waivers, which allow those in need of long-term care to get free health care in home settings instead of a nursing facility. Children with special needs may qualify regardless of their parents’ income or assets. Each state operates its own Medicaid waiver program.

Fechtman said that many times, families aren’t aware of these waivers. There are often waitlists for applicants, so it’s generally one of the first things he brings up when meeting with new clients.

Families struggling with their finances should also check to see if they qualify for other public benefit programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). TANF provides monthly cash assistance for families, while SNAP provides money specifically for buying food. Both are income-based programs.

Set up a 529 ABLE Account or a Special Needs Trust

When you’re applying for government aid, the administering agency will typically have rules about how much income your family can earn and how many assets you can own. Money in a traditional checking or savings accounts could restrict a family from receiving public benefits.

However, Fechtman said parents can save money in a 529 ABLE account or a special needs trust, and those dollars won’t count toward a family’s assets.

ABLE accounts are tax-deferred similar to 529 college savings accounts. However, ABLE account funds can be used for more than just education. Fechtman said qualifying expenses also include health, wellness and transportation expenses for a child with a qualifying disability.

According to SavingforCollege.com, families can withdraw the money tax-free and can have up to $ 100,000 in the account without it affecting the child’s eligibility for SSI benefits.

The annual amount that could be contributed to an ABLE account in 2018 was $ 15,000.

Fechtman said it’s relatively inexpensive to open and maintain an ABLE account. However, one downside is if the child dies, the money in the account must go to reimburse whatever state provided Medicaid benefits for the child.

Families that save money for a child in a special needs trust don’t have to worry about those savings going to reimburse the state. A special needs trust is a legal arrangement set up to hold money for someone with a disability so that the person can continue to receive public benefits. The trustees — those who manage the trust — generally have few restrictions on how the money in the trust is used as long they don’t interfere with the beneficiary receiving government assistance.

Another difference between the two money-saving vehicles is the cost, which varies depending on factors such as who sets up the account and what state you live in.

Fechtman said an attorney might charge around $ 1,500 to draft a special needs trust. However, families can also join a pooled trust managed by a nonprofit organization, which could cost half that. Setting up an ABLE account could cost as little as $ 50.

Look Into Assistance from Nonprofits

Government programs aren’t the only source of assistance. Nonprofit organizations also provide help to families struggling financially.

Here are just a few organizations that help families in need:

  • The HealthWell Pediatric Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for families whose health insurance doesn’t cover the critical medical treatments their children need.
  • The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation issues grants to help children get medical services that aren’t fully covered by their private health insurance.
  • The Different Needz Foundation provides grants for families so they can get medical equipment or services.
  • The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project has a pediatric disability equipment exchange program that lets families receive donated medical equipment for free.
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities provides families with places to stay when they have to travel so that a child can receive extended treatment at a hospital away from home. Families may be asked to make a donation of up to $ 25 per day, but no family is turned away if they can’t pay.

Organizations like United Way and the Salvation Army also help families struggling financially — not just those with special needs children.

Think About the Future

No parent wants to think about a situation where they aren’t alive to care for their child, but it’s important to prepare for — especially if your child has special needs.

“Every person who’s got a disabled child is horrified by the notion that they’re going to die before that child and that the child won’t have the care and support and everything that the parents provide,” Fechtman said.

Having a will is a given. But Fechtman said the will should direct inheritance money to a special needs trust so that the child can continue to qualify for public benefits.

Designating who will become the child’s guardian is also key, he said. Parents should look for someone who would be able to provide proper care for their child.

In addition, Fechtman said parents should have an adequate amount of life insurance to provide for their family in the event of their untimely death.

He recommends parents — specifically those in a two-parent household — get a survivorship life insurance policy, also known as a second-to-die life insurance policy. It covers both parents, but it doesn’t pay out until both parents are deceased.

One benefit of this type of policy is that premiums are generally much lower than for other policies. Another benefit is that coverage lasts until the policyholders die — unlike term life insurance, which ends after a certain number of years. This is especially important for parents who have special needs children, because those children may not be able to be independent and support themselves once they reach adulthood.

Of course, single parents wouldn’t be able to open this type of policy, and it may be insufficient if one parent is the household’s sole income earner.

“If you only have one breadwinner, you’d need to have individual insurance on that breadwinner,” Fechtman said. “Maybe you’re lucky enough that they have some kind of life insurance through work, so maybe you wouldn’t have to run out and get a seperate policy.”

The important thing is to have a plan in place so that your child is financially taken care of no matter what.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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How This Family Lives Off $45K/Year While Raising a Special Needs Child

On a late November afternoon, Vicki Fouche heats up slices of frozen pizza in the toaster oven for lunch.

Her daughter Hannah, 10, waits at the dining room table in their Ocala, Florida, home.

Hannah has challenges eating on her own. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects motor skills, muscle tone and movement, when she was 6 months old.

Vicki, 48, places two plates in front of Hannah. “Look here. Which pizza do you want? Do you want ‘The Lion King’ or Olaf?” Vicki asks, referring to the Disney characters decorating each plate. “Which would you like? Lion King? Olaf?”

Hannah replies with just a sound — one that would be incomprehensible to most. But without any words exchanged, her mom knows what’s wrong.

“You don’t want either one?” she guesses. “You want pretzel bites?”

Hannah utters another obscure sound.

“You’re a pain in the butt, do you know that?” Vicki jokes, and she whisks the plates away from Hannah, handing a pizza slice off to Hannah’s 21-year-old sister, Bethany.

Vicki heads back to the freezer to get some pretzel bites, one of Hannah’s favorite foods.

When Hannah’s lunch is heated, Vicki brings a plate over to Hannah, whose attention is fixed on the iPad in front of her. Vicki proceeds to cut the pretzel bites into small pieces and feed her.

Hannah’s condition is hypotonic, meaning she has low muscle tone — specifically in her head, neck and trunk. She can’t stand on her own, walk or talk.

Hannah has the cognitive abilities to communicate; she just lacks the physical abilities to speak more than a few words. She uses an app on her iPad that lets her select words and phrases to speak aloud for her. In fact, Vicki says Hannah often uses the app to request pretzel bites.

There are many variations of cerebral palsy. For some, the disorder has a minimal effect on their lives. Others require around-the-clock care.

An older sister helps her little sister find a game on her iPad.

According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, 1 in 323 U.S. babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. There is no known cure for the disorder, which affects approximately 17 million people across the globe.

Hannah’s physical challenges mean that Vicki and her husband, Tim, have to care for Hannah in ways similar to caring for an infant. They feed her. They bathe her. They carry her down the hallway and lift her into her safety bed, which resembles an oversized crib.

Hannah’s parents also shoulder all the financial responsibilities of raising a child with cerebral palsy.

The Fouches are a family of five living off less than $ 45,000 per year. Though Bethany, their oldest daughter, doesn’t live at home anymore, Vicki and Tim have a 6-year-old daughter, Mikayla, and they took in their 15-year-old niece, Naomi, last summer.

Tim, 48, who works as a residential construction estimator for a custom home builder, is the family’s sole breadwinner.

“I work hard,” Tim says. “As a husband and a dad, you try to maintain a balance of working and being there for your family, too, at the same time. When you do that and you still feel like you’re falling short at the end of the month… it gets frustrating sometimes.”

Why Making More Money Isn’t an Option

A married couple sit at their kitchen table discussing finances.

The family qualifies for Medicaid and Social Security benefits for Hannah, plus a scholarship that covers home-schooling expenses. But Vicki says she’s scared of the possibility of losing that assistance if her husband makes more money.

“We’re [between] the proverbial rock and a hard place,” she says.

The Fouches know other families with disabled children that don’t qualify for assistance and aren’t able to get certain treatment or equipment covered under their private insurance.

“If [Tim] were to make more money and then they took [Medicaid away], it would cost us more in the long run,” Vicki says.

Vicki usually handles paying the bills and budgeting for the family since Tim works full time.

“How she does it, I don’t know,” Tim says. “She takes something out of nothing, and she pays the bills. But it’s a struggle every month.”

The Fouches have between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 in credit card debt. They’ve used their credit cards when unexpected expenses came up, such as when the transmission went out in their minivan last year. They’ve made home-schooling purchases on credit, only to later find out Hannah’s scholarship wouldn’t reimburse the expense.

Every year, they like to put money aside from their tax refund to save for emergencies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stretch through the year. They don’t have any other financial safety net.

“We never have money to save,” Vicki says. “We’re lucky that we have enough to pay our bills.”

Medicaid Helps… but It Has Limits

Each week, Hannah sees a speech therapist, physical therapist and occupational therapist. She also participates in therapeutic horseback riding. Because of assistance, the Fouches don’t have to pay out of pocket for any of that.

The Fouches have also gotten some of Hannah’s equipment paid for through Medicaid: an electric wheelchair, a manual wheelchair, a walker, a shower chair and Hannah’s safety bed, plus her nutritional drinks and diapers.

“We’re very, very blessed,” Vicki says.

But Vicki says the diapers Medicaid covers for Hannah leak easily. The electric wheelchair has malfunctioned several times.

Hannah never felt comfortable in the first shower chair they were able to get through Medicaid when she was little, so her father built one out of PVC pipe and trampoline material.

Vicki says she’s glad her husband is so handy. He also built a makeshift wheelchair ramp for their front door and widened the entrance into their kitchen so Hannah’s wheelchair could fit through.

A daughter is bathed by her mother.

Getting requests approved through Medicaid can be challenging, Vicki says. She says the agency requires in-depth explanations about why they need certain equipment or therapy and how Hannah will benefit.

And even when something is approved, the family sometimes still has to pay for part of it. Last spring, for example, Hannah received three weeks of intensive therapy at a facility in Melbourne, Florida. Medicaid covered the cost of the therapy, but the family had to pay for travel and lodging, since the facility was three and a half hours from home.

The family sold bracelets as a fundraiser and made about $ 2,300.

“We ended up having to come up with some of it out of our pocket,” she says. “We raised most of it, but not [all].”

A Plan Abandoned

A mother pushes one daughter in a shopping cart and the other daughter in a wheel char as she grocery shops at Sam's Club.

Vicki used to work as a Girl Scouts program coordinator, but high day care costs caused her to become a stay-at-home mom after having Hannah. She thought it would be temporary and that she’d go back to work once Hannah started kindergarten. Then, she got unexpectedly pregnant with Mikayla.

Vicki had her tubes tied after that pregnancy. With Hannah in school, Vicki’s new plan was to go back to work once Mikayla was in kindergarten. But then Hannah started having troubling experiences at school.

“She came home one time with rug burn on her cheek, a black eye, a split-open lip, and they say she fell over at circle time,” Vicki recalls, saying she suspects Hannah fell off a changing table instead. “She would come home 90% of the time with her lunch [uneaten].”

The Fouches were concerned their daughter wasn’t getting proper care at school. Two weeks before Hannah was going to start third grade, her parents told her she’d be going back to school soon. She cried hysterically.

“What kid at 8 years old hates school so bad?” Vicki asks.

So the Fouches made the decision to home-school their girls, and Vicki abandoned her plan to return to work. Though Vicki does a lot for her family, she sometimes feels bad that she isn’t able to earn an income. However, Tim says he’s very thankful for the role she’s taken on.

“[It’s] worth a whole lot for her to be with our children, to keep them safe and [see to it] that they’re taken care of and getting a good education,” he says.

That’s not the only sacrifice the Fouches have had to make.

A girl with cerebral palsy rides on a horse as part of a therapy session.

Vicki says they choose not to go to places as a family that aren’t accommodating for Hannah, like the playground or the fair. If Mikayla wants to go, she has to wait until one parent can stay home to watch Hannah.

The Fouches try to make sure Mikayla gets to do things she likes — such as gymnastics and T-ball — but the money isn’t always there for her to participate. Vicki says they had to charge T-ball registration fees to their credit card. They pay per class for gymnastics, and when money is tight, they’ll just skip it for the week.

One special treat the entire family enjoys is going to Disney World, which is only about an hour-and-a-half drive from their home. Last year, the Fouches had annual passes. They got them as a Christmas gift for the girls and paid for them in monthly installments. However, Vicki says they decided not to renew the passes for this year after Disney raised its prices.

“That’s been really frustrating,” she says. “That’s really the only thing that we do with the kids… Hannah doesn’t feel disabled at Disney. She can go on all the rides. She can’t do that at all the other parks.”

Their Plans and Dreams for an Uncertain Future

About a decade ago, when Hannah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Vicki remembers the doctor explaining the diagnosis twice.

“I guess most people get hysterical and we didn’t, so the doctor [asked], ‘Do you understand what I’m saying to you?’” she says.

But Vicki and Tim knew something serious was wrong with Hannah. Their infant daughter wasn’t meeting typical milestones for her age. Unbeknownst to each other, they both had suspected it was cerebral palsy.

Instead of being devastated, they were grateful Hannah didn’t have a terminal illness, but rather a disorder that can improve over time through therapy.

And the Fouches have seen Hannah progress over the years. She can sit up unassisted, whereas before her body wasn’t strong enough to support itself.

One speech therapist told the Fouches that Hannah would never be able to work a communication device.

“She said she would never be strong enough to push the buttons on the communication thing,” Vicki recalls. “And yeah, this kid’s a whip on the iPad. It’s not even funny.”

A mother comforts her daughter at a doctor's appointment.
A family comfort one of the girls as she cries in bed.

In early December, Hannah was fitted for a leg brace that will keep her body from folding up in her sleep. Since she can’t control her limbs, it can be dangerous if she bends herself in half overnight, causing her to hurt herself or even block her breathing. Hannah often sleeps in her worried parents’ bed so they can closely monitor her.

A few weeks after getting the brace, Tim says she’s still having trouble adjusting to it. Hannah’s therapist suggested putting the brace on for an hour or two in the evening and working their way up to using it while she sleeps. Once Hannah is able to use the brace overnight and transition to her own bed, her parents will be able to get a more restful night’s sleep.

There’s still other equipment the Fouches wish Hannah had to better her life.

They’d love for Hannah to have a mobile stander, a device that would help her stand and move around without having to support her own weight.

“We can stand her for a little bit… but the last couple times we had her in her walker, she’s gotten so overheated, she’s thrown up,” Vicki says.

A father carries his daughter to the living room.

Having a device that doesn’t make Hannah strain to support herself would be ideal. Being in a wheelchair so often causes Hannah to have poor circulation in her legs.

However, Vicki says Medicaid won’t cover the mobile stander, because Hannah already has the electric wheelchair. She says it’d cost $ 5,600 to pay for out of pocket — money the family doesn’t have.

She also says it’d be wonderful to have a hoist system in the house to lift Hannah up. At 60 pounds, Hannah isn’t easy to carry anymore.

“I’m scared I’m going to fall with her,” says Vicki, who had to be hospitalized twice last year after bad falls. Luckily, she wasn’t carrying Hannah on either occasion.

A father sleeps on the couch in his living room.

The Fouches also wish they had a handicap-accessible van, but they can’t afford one. Vicki said even getting their current minivan converted to be wheelchair accessible would cost around $ 15,000.

Instead, they have to lift Hannah into the minivan, and they use her manual wheelchair when they go out.

Hannah’s only 10 now, but Tim and Vicki have thought about what her life will be like as she gets older. It’s uncertain what Hannah will be able to do on her own once she reaches adulthood.

“If we could have one wish for her… I would really hope at some point that she could be able to speak,” Vicki says. “I think that would make a huge difference for her, instead of having to rely on a communication device. I don’t know if that will ever happen — and if it doesn’t, it’s fine — but if I had a choice between her walking or speaking, I’d rather have her speak.”

One thing Vicki and Tim do know is that they never want to place Hannah in a nursing home. The Fouches say their faith in God gives them strength to handle all the challenges that come their way.

Overall, Vicki’s greatest hope for her daughter is one most parents have for their child.

“I just want her to have as [good of] a life as she can,” she says.

A mother and daughter laugh together at home.

If you are raising a child with special needs, learn more about how to plan financially for your child’s future.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Benefit’s new Boss Brows campaign is all about empowerment and raising your voice

Benefit’s new Boss Brows campaign is all about empowerment and raising your voice

Benefit’s new Boss Brows campaign is all about empowerment and raising your voice

Since launching back in 1976, San Francisco-based Benefit Cosmetics has been focused on empowering women and providing them with tools to look their best. In the past, the beauty brand has launched the massive Bold Is Beautiful campaign, where the brand donates 100% of brow wax proceeds to local charities that focus for women and girls around the world.

Starting today, February 1st, the brand has launched a new campaign called Boss Brows, a digital, social and in-store campaign that celebrates and profiles people who are breaking down boundaries and raising awareness of their specific causes.

Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics

The four activists and influencers Benefit has chosen for the Boss Brows campaign are artist, director, and LGTBQ and human rights champion Hayley Kiyoko, ban.do founder and mental health advocate Jen Gotch, non-binary femme sexuality educator and breast cancer survivor Ericka Hart, and model, advocate, and cancer survivor Mama Caxx.

Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics

So what does the campaign entail? First, if you head to @benefitcosmetics Instagram page between February 10th and February 17th to share a time when you most felt like a boss, you’ll receive a discount code for 20% off.

Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics

Benefit is also selling a limited edition set featuring two Benefit brow products (a full-size Gimme Brow+ and a full-size Precisely, My Brow Pencil) inside a holographic ban.do bag. You can buy that cute set now at benefitcosmetics.com.

Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics

Finally, ban.do and Benefit Cosmetics have teamed up to launch a lifestyle line, which comes out on February 4th and will be available on the ban.do site, as well as Sephora, Ulta, and Urban Outfitters.

You can watch the campaign video below to learn more about the Boss Brows campaign.

Make sure to also head to Benefit’s site to learn more about the four activists and what they each stand for.

The post Benefit’s new Boss Brows campaign is all about empowerment and raising your voice appeared first on HelloGiggles.



This PAC is Raising $12 Million to Get Black Politicians Elected in 2020

The growing Collective PAC is turning its attention and growth strategy to get more black politicians elected at the local, state, and federal level during the 2020 election.

The upstart group, founded by husband-and-wife team Quentin and Stefanie Brown James, made headlines during the November midterm elections by spending nearly $ 2 million on TV ads to boost the black voter turnout in Florida. That effort assisted Andrew Gillum in his crusade to become the state’s first black governor.  “That was significant because it was the most money that a black-led organization has given during a primary election,” Stefanie Brown says. All told, the Collective raised an impressive $ 6.5 million to support black candidates during the 2018 election.

The PAC also launched a historic texting program that reached over two million black registered voters during the 2018 election with many respondents committing to vote. The program was part of an effort to convince black voters, including tech-savvy millennials, to vote and bring peers to the polls. The text program helped the Collective encourage black voters in seven states to vote.

Now, the Washington, D.C.-based Collective PAC contends with the elections stolen from Gillum and Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacy Abrams, the group’s entrepreneurial efforts are needed more than ever to help black candidates win races unquestionably. The PAC hopes to raise $ 12 million by 2020, more than doubling its 2018 fundraising efforts.

Quentin and Stephanie Brown James shared with BLACK ENTERPRISE innovative ways their PAC plans to provide resources and financial backing to help black candidates run competitive and successful campaigns in all areas of the country.

black politicians

Stephanie Brown holding her son, with Cory Booker (center), and Quentin Brown (right)


BE: What activities and campaigns will your PAC launch in 2019?

Stephanie Brown: Collective will be hyper-focused on preparing black candidates and black campaign operatives to run and win successful political campaigns next year through our Black Campaign School initiative.

For the first time, we’ll be hosting six regional Black Campaign Schools and one national BCS conference that we’ve hosted for the past two years. We plan to train 2,000 black candidates and staffers through BCS’s in Cleveland, Houston, Las Vegas, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Columbia, South Carolina. We want to eliminate the narrative that there are no qualified black candidates and staffers to serve in senior-level campaigns, especially during presidential elections.


BE: How does the Collective PAC plan to engage progressives, the Democratic Party, and black voters differently than other organizations?

Quentin Brown: The Collective is the nation’s PAC focused solely on training, funding, and supporting black candidates. To this end, we are continuing to build a national network of donors of all ages and backgrounds who understand the importance of funding black candidates at levels that will help them win.

BE: What innovative methods and outreach will your PAC apply into 2020?

Stephanie Brown: [We] will continue to use technology and other methods – including mobile texting, branding merchandise and fundraising — that involve black folks in the political process.

Specifically, the Browns say the strategy will include:

-Implementing a culturally-specific training operation for black candidates and operatives

-Utilizing technology like peer-to-peer texting to reach black registered voters across the country

-Hosting black donor cultivation events in cities across the country

-Working with Collective-endorsed candidates to develop innovative policies to grow and strengthen the black community

-Engaging with the black tech, entertainment, and creative communities to spur their investment in the work, introduce them to candidates they should support, and show them a path to increase their involvement in politics.








The post This PAC is Raising $ 12 Million to Get Black Politicians Elected in 2020 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise


11.21.18 The cost of raising a child; Moviepass alternatives

How much does it really cost to raise a child? Clark gets into it; If you are a fan of seeing movies but spending a whole let less money doing so, check out these Moviepass alternatives.

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Grandparents: Raising their children’s children, they get the job done

Millions of children are being raised solely by their grandparents, with numbers continuing to climb as the opioid crisis and other factors disrupt families. New research shows that caregivers who step up to raise their grandchildren are overcoming unique challenges to manage just as well as biological and adoptive parent caregivers.
Infant and Preschool Learning News — ScienceDaily


How This Couple Made $332K Worth of Debt Disappear While Raising 4 Kids

Don’t we all wish life were more like “The Brady Bunch”?

Two parents, both in their second marriages, could blend their families. There would be comedic dysfunction, yet all would end well.

But reality is a much different show.

Kids, ex-spouses, custody battles and emotional trauma often contribute to the 67% of second marriages that end in divorce.

Plus, couples bring more financial assets — and debt — into a second marriage. Each person often has goals and spending habits they don’t intend to change.

Pete and Maria Sbashnig knew all that when they got married in 2008.

To keep things the same for their kids after their divorces, each had lived in houses they couldn’t afford on their single incomes and used credit cards to fill in the gaps.

Pete had been divorced for two years when he married Maria. He had joint custody of his son and daughter. Maria had been divorced for six years with full custody of her two daughters.

All four kids played sports, and the whole family would take trips for competitions and tournaments. The sporting events brought the family together, but financially, they added up.

I just remember being so overwhelmed with the family dynamic and the blending of the family that finances weren’t even a consideration,” Pete said.

About a year and a half into their marriage, Pete found a net worth calculator on Bank of America’s website. His 401(k) had almost six figures, so he thought he was doing pretty well.

Pete, a letter carrier, and Maria, a legal assistant, had never combined their finances, so he figured it was time to see where they stood.

Midway through listing their debts — which included two mortgages, a home equity line of credit, two car loans and over $ 60,000 in credit card debt — he realized it was going to surpass their assets. But he didn’t realize by how much.

Their total debt was $ 332,000, putting their net worth at a negative $ 244,000.

After looking at this number, I had an emotional breakdown,” Pete said. “I personally felt that I was a complete failure. I was in my mid-30s, already divorced once. We were struggling to keep the new family together, and now it looked like we were bankrupt.”

Maria knew she’d made some financial mistakes, such as taking out an interest-only mortgage. Still, she felt she was managing her finances well enough.  

“I had been on my own with my kids for six years,” she said. “I liked the fact that I had control over my own money because I was not letting anyone control me or my money.”

How They Started Blending Finances


A family of four sit down for dinner at their home.
Jordyn, Dylan, Maria and Pete eat dinner at their home in Spring Hill, Fl. Pete and Maria managed to put their four kids through college while chipping away at their debt. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

The next day on his mail route, Pete changed the radio station from the sports broadcast he typically listened. He came across a guy giving callers debt-payoff advice. That guy turned out to be debt-free living evangelist Dave Ramsey.

When Pete told Maria the advice he’d heard, she knew the timing was too perfect to be a coincidence; she took it as a sign.

So together, they set out to eliminate everything but their mortgages.

“[Pete] approached it like, ‘We’re in this together. We’ve been doing this ‘your debt/my debt’ and ‘your bills/my bills’ this whole time, but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be,’” Maria said.

They had $ 5,000 in cash, but they used all but $ 1,000 to pay down debt. That made Pete anxious.

“It’s not like $ 5,000 is a ton of money, but it felt like a big security blanket,” he said.

In the first couple months, they had setbacks. They had to replace their water heater and dryer, pay for a car repair and, to top it off, had a subterranean termite infestation.

But these troubles didn’t happen all in one day. None of them cost more than $ 1,000, so they paid for them using their emergency fund and replenished it every payday.

How Teamwork Helped Them Crush Their Debt

A married couple smile for the camera.
Pete umpired baseball games, mowed lawns and helped his dad with his landscaping business to earn extra income. Maria clipped coupons, cooked meals at home and limited school shopping. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Pete took side jobs to increase their income. He umpired baseball games, mowed lawns for people he delivered mail to, and helped his dad with his landscaping business.

Maria cut the family’s expenses. She clipped coupons, cooked meals at home and limited school shopping.

“He played offense, and I played defense,” Maria said.

They paid off $ 65,000 in 17 months while making less than $ 100,000 per year combined.

“The first year, we didn’t eat out,” Pete said. “We ate out once. We got two pizzas. We spent $ 19 on two pizzas.”

They saw that when they worked on their finances together, they did exponentially better than they did when they managed them separately.

After they tackled their short-term debt, they worked on the mortgage from Pete’s prior house — which was underwater — and its home equity line of credit. They finally sold it in 2013 and started focusing on the last debt: their mortgage.

What About the Kids?

A family spend time together in their kitchen.
Maria and Dylan watch as Jordyn shows off her new cat slippers. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When Pete and Maria started paying down debt, their kids ranged in age from 8 to 14. Needless to say, the change in spending was an adjustment.

The kids started doing more chores around the house to earn money and were limited on what they could pick out at grocery and clothing stores.

They were all allowed to continue doing their sports and competitions — just without the frills, which sometimes caused resentment.

“They didn’t like the fact that we’d go to the baseball tournament and everyone was going out to eat, and we’re like, ‘Sorry, we’re going home,’” Maria said.

The Sbashnigs also wanted to make sure their children didn’t start their adult lives fighting to get out of debt, so they wanted to save for their college. But they made sure the kids had some skin in the game.

Their children all had to apply for scholarships. Ultimately, a state program paid for 75% of their tuitions. Pete and Maria supplemented the rest, along with housing and books.

With two kids now out of college and two entering their sophomore years, the Sbashnigs say their children are making their own financial decisions. They’ve seen what you can accomplish by saving and investing, and they’re on the path to doing well with money.

Debt-Free Now — So What’s Next?

A family prepare dinner together.
Maria makes dinner as Jordyn prepares dessert. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

In November 2017, Pete and Maria paid off their house — the culmination of a $ 332,000 debt-payoff journey that spanned almost a decade.

Now, Pete and Maria travel and live with a freedom they’ve never experienced before.

Shortly before they paid off the house, Maria’s employer cut her work-from-home hours. Because they were so close to being debt-free, she was able to take a part-time job at a law firm. The job change cut her income, but it allowed her to be at home even more. It was a choice they wouldn’t have even been able to consider before.

Moving forward, Pete and Maria want to help others in similar situations — people in divorced or blended families — through their blog, books and counseling.

Pete and Maria hope their story will encourage others to work together to get stronger.

“One Belgian horse can pull 8,000 pounds, but you put two of them together — and train them properly — they can pull three times that amount,” Pete said. “That was the same thing we found when we worked together.”

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She gives money saving and debt payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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