Yes, You can Make Money Playing Video Games. Here Are 7 Ways to Do It

Frederick Aldeco was the youngest of three boys who loved to game.

Growing up, he and his brothers first fought over who could play the Nintendo, then the Super Nintendo, then the PlayStation — he could only play when his older brothers let him.

But then he got his own Game Boy. It came with Pokémon Yellow, and everything changed.

“I could play anytime I wanted to without them having an issue,” Aldeco said.

Nearly two decades later, Aldeco, 29, still loves Pokémon — so much so that he runs a Pokémon news channel on YouTube under the moniker DaddyGamer Fred.

Besides that, he’s done what most gamers dream of doing: Making money playing video games. While it’s not his full-time gig, Aldeco said his content has earned him up to $ 300 a week.

Over the years, gaming has become increasingly popular with almost all age groups. The Entertainment Software Association has tracked gamers with an annual survey since 1997, and its latest data show that 64% of households own regularly played gaming systems. Perhaps what’s more surprising is that association research shows the typical gamer may not be who you think. In the U.S., more women play video games than teenage boys.

And if you belong to this new wave of gamers, you’ve probably thought at some point, “There’s got to be a way to get paid for this.”

Turns out, there are plenty.

How to Make Money Playing Video Games

These recommendations require actually playing a video game to earn you cash. You may need some in-depth knowledge or skills for most of the following methods — but not all of them. So don’t worry if your gaming abilities aren’t esports-ready just yet.

1. Participate in Video Game Tournaments

The League of Legends World Championship is an esports tournament that can earn elite winners millions of dollars and millions of fans, but most gamers are not at that level and never will be.

Instead, opt for amateur tournaments to earn $ 5 or $ 10 per match. GamerSaloon is one video-gaming site where you can do just that. Anyone 18 years or older can create a free account and start joining tournaments. The more you win, the more you earn.

The website is open to gamers around the world, but the system is based on the U.S. dollar. All other currencies are accepted but will be converted automatically.

Popular games on the site include NBA 2k19, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, UFC 3, FIFA 19 and others.

2. Become a Beta Tester

Millions of people now pay for video games before they are released by pre-ordering them.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if video game companies would pay you instead to play their video games before the release date?

Actually, that’s a thing.

Several companies pay people to beta test video games to collect feedback and work out the kinks before the mass market gets its hands on it.

For the lucky gamers who live near Redmond, Washington, Nintendo partners with two staffing agencies to beta test games on-site. Unfortunately, there are no remote testing options available.

For those living outside the area, there’s VMC Consulting, a tech company that specializes in quality assurance and support. It runs a Global Beta Test Network, which tests major multiplayer video games for consoles and PCs before their release. Applicants can live anywhere, must be at least 18 years old and must use Discord (a chat messaging system for gamers) to give feedback.

3. Start Streaming

No, not on Netflix. In the video-game world, streaming has a different meaning. It refers to a live feed of someone playing a video game. Streaming services allow the streamer to interact directly with the audience via a chatroom system. Viewers can also tip the streamer in real time.

There are several free streaming services to choose from, the most popular being Twitch.tv. You don’t have to be a pro to stream, either. You just have to be entertaining. One streamer, Cory Michael — aka King Gothalion — turned his streaming hobby into a six-figure salary.

Michael said the main three sources of income come from subscriptions, tips directly from your viewers and ad revenue.

Even if you don’t manage millions of subscribers, streaming could still get you tips here and there, and once your channel becomes more popular, you could land a paid partnership with the streaming service.

4. Create a Business on Second Life

Fifteen years later, Second Life is still kicking with about 750,000 monthly users.

Second Life is a video game that was slated to revolutionize the internet (before social media came along). But it’s hard to call Second Life a video game. It’s more than that.

There aren’t any overt objectives. No bosses to beat. No princesses to rescue. Instead, all of its content is user-generated, from the avatars themselves to the worlds they inhabit. In Second Life, people date, have children, build houses and travel to replicas of famous landmarks.

People spend years carving out a piece of digital paradise. Some hire real-life experts to help get it just right. In-game specialists can make bank, too. Architects, publishers and fashion designers have used their industry knowledge to bolster their virtual businesses. There’s even a journalist, Wagner James Au, who works inside Second Life and reports on in-game artists and entrepreneurs.

Second Life spawned the first video game business millionaire, Ailin Graef, and she’s not the only person to make a fortune with the game.

There are multiple people and businesses that have made over a million U.S. dollars in Second Life over the years,” said Brett Atwood, Director of Marketing at Linden Labs, the company that created Second Life. “Many are still active.”

Since Second Life’s launch in 2003, players have spent billions of dollars of real money on in-game currency called Linden Dollars (or L$ ). The exchange rate currently is about 250 L$ to $ 1. Users can go to the Second Life exchange store to purchase L$ , then use L$ for in-game services. The level of customization is incredibly granular, and users are eager to pay L$ for real-life experts to apply their knowledge to the virtual world.

Atwood said the big bucks are usually in virtual real estate and fashion.

For other business ideas and examples of Second Life entrepreneurs, check out its business site.

5. Coach Others in How to Play

Are you a Starcraft god? A Fortnite legend? Share your strategies with us noobs for cash.

You can teach beginners basic lingo or coach seasoned players on the latest competitive strategies. Some online tutoring websites, Superprof for example, are general tutoring platforms that happen to allow video-game listings.

However, there are some other options that are tailored specifically for gaming lessons. Gamer Sensei is one such platform that hires senseis, aka coaches, to teach lessons in specific games, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike, DOTA 2 and — of course — Fortnite.

Making a sensei profile is free. Senseis set their own schedules and prices and have no hourly time commitments.

Another option is Gameflip Gigs. Gameflip is a video game marketplace, where people can buy, sell and trade video games and related content.

The company recently launched Gigs, which is still in beta but is open for applications.

The gigs revolve around four types of services:

  • Create: Good at graphic design? You can craft the perfect avatar or graphic for a gamer’s profile or online store.
  • Entertain: If you’re hilarious, get paid for it by joining people’s in-game parties and having fun.
  • Coach: Teach others the way to victory.
  • Carry: Some people just like winning. You provide that service.

During the beta, Gigs members have a $ 1,000 limit on what they can earn.

Other Ways to Make Money With Video Games

A person holds video game boxes and a controller.

Maybe you aren’t comfortable with turning your hobby into a job. You want to keep it sacred and fun. That’s all right, too. You can still make plenty of money with gigs related to video gaming that don’t require you to play them.

6. Sell Video Games for Cash

Do you blast through video games? Are you constantly in search of new ones to conquer? Then you should consider selling your used video games once you’re finished.

Your pile of old games can fund your next virtual adventure, get you some quick cash to make rent, or if you’re like Aldeco, help fund your move from the U.S. to Switzerland.

The Penny Hoarder’s guide walks you through the best technique to sell video games through GameStop and get up to 50% extra cash for your games. I turned a $ 72.40 cash offer for a few of my video games and a controller into $ 111.14.

If you’d rather not make the trek to GameStop, Gameflip allows users to buy and sell their video games and gift cards online.

That’s what Aldeco used to downsize before his move overseas. He sold off all his physical games and consoles but kept the handheld devices — his trusty Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.

Alternatively, you can sell games on eBay, but you may be stuck with a bunch of additional fees if you don’t meet the site’s minimum seller service standards.

7. Make Video Game Guides

Perhaps you’ve played a game for so long that you’ve discovered all the Easter eggs, all the glitches and all the best farming spots.

You can create guides to help people do the same, whether they’re articles or YouTube videos.

Stephen Robinson, better known by the moniker Ratty Star, creates YouTube guides for a post-apocalyptic role playing game, Fallout 76.

“I have had some success,” Robinson said, “with a few videos getting a few thousand views, with my highest currently at 63,000.”

Several major gaming publications accept freelance pitches for video game guides and commentary, too. So if you prefer writing to video editing, give IGN, Kotaku, Escapist Magazine, Game Informer and GamesRadar+ a shot.

If you’re not a seasoned freelancer, we have a guide that walks you through how to come up with story ideas, pitch to editors and ultimately make money as a freelance writer. In the meantime, you can build up your portfolio by writing for GameSkinny, which will pay you based on how many views your articles get.

Neither Robinson nor Aldeco is famous. They have about 2,500 followers between the two of them. Getting famous really isn’t the point.

“I’m doing it because I’m enjoying the creative process,” Aldeco said. “Whenever the money comes, of course it’s a plus, but [it’s] not truly the end goal for me.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He has played video games since he was 6 years old. Read his full bio here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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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15 Ways Presidents Made the White House Feel Like Home

A house isn’t a home until you’ve filled it with creature comforts, decorated it to suit your taste, and customized it in ways that bring you joy—and the White House is no exception. Click through for a list of the most memorable, heartwarming, and at times eccentric renovations that past presidents have made to transform the White House into their family home.
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No Valentine? No Problem: 9 Ways To Spread Love This V-Day

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Source: Sol Vazquez Cantero / EyeEm / Getty

Valentine’s Day is recognized around the world as the day of love. You’ve probably noticed the giant bears. pink and red themed gift items and candy when you enter the supermarket. For many. this elicits warm and fuzzy feelings, but for others, it may just elicit an enormous eye roll.  Instead of looking at February 14 as another ridiculous consumer holiday or a reminder that you’re single, look at it as an excuse to spread some love to others.  These activities and small gestures will definitely fill you up and add some joy to someone’s life.

MadameNoire

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5 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network

You’ve probably heard the saying, “your network equals your net worth,” or to put it another way—it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Those with affluence and influence tend to network with those with similar attributes. You can increase your net worth through your network.

However, networking isn’t just about connecting with people who have money but with those who have influence and can open doors for you. But how do you become a master networker?

Five Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network 

Go where you’re most uncomfortable 

Lisa Nichols, a transformational coach says, “You will never find your next best version of you sitting inside of your comfort zone.” If the opportunity to rise to the next level means getting into rooms, showing up in places, and having conversations with those whom you wouldn’t normally talk to, then it’s time to take a deep breath and step out on that limb.

Assess your network 

Your network is bigger than you think. It’s your classmates from every level of education. As an alumnus of Northwestern University, I was able to connect with classmates, professors, and other graduates to land one of my highest paying jobs back in 2008, and increase my income by $ 25,000 when I switched jobs. Unfortunately, most people discredit their connections with their colleges even though every college has an alumni association and network. Also, don’t disregard your church connections, or people you do business with like your doctors, hair stylists, bankers, and others.

Prepare in advance for networking events 

Prepare for networking events by knowing beforehand what you want to discuss and who you want to meet.

Show up early to networking events

Busy people often show up early to networking events and don’t always stay the entire time. The person you may want to meet at an event may not be there if you arrive too late.

Follow Up 

It’s important to follow-up after a networking event. Not only with new relationships, but with those you may have met before. Another way to reconnect is to share an article that might be beneficial to them or invite them to an event that they could benefit them.


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YOUR MONEY, YOUR LIFE: EPISODE 6 – “Ways To Finance Your Emergency Fund”

Establishing and maintaining a cash emergency fund, with an amount equal to six months up to a year’s worth your annual living expenses, is a foundational principle of financial wellness. Author, speaker, and financial coach Tarra “Madam Money” Jackson answers the question of where to get the money to finance your emergency fund



The new personal finance podcast, Your Money, Your Life is sponsored by Prudential and hosted by Black Enterprise’s own Alfred Edmond Jr. This special series features a lineup of great guests, including The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee; DeForest B. Soaries Jr., founder of the dfree Financial Freedom Movement; Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche; and Jacquette M. Timmons, president & CEO of Sterling Investment Management. The show will cover money topics ranging from how to control your debt to our psychological relationship with our finance. A can’t miss!

The post YOUR MONEY, YOUR LIFE: EPISODE 6 – “Ways To Finance Your Emergency Fund” appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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4 Ways to Help Loved Ones Dealing with Financial Hardships

After experiencing the longest government shutdown in history, many federal workers and contractors who experienced financial hardships are still trying to recover.

The government shutdown tested people’s financial preparedness, and many unfortunately failed. Also, with another possible shutdown looming, many people are frightened that this will catapult them into homelessness.

Approximately 1 in 3 Americans do not have emergency savings to cover a $ 500 emergency, according to personal finance website Bankrate. This statistic became a heartbreaking reality when real life financial hardship stories recently surfaced due to the federal furlough.

Unexpected emergencies like medical bills, the death of a family member, job termination, or an unwarranted furlough, are common causes of most financial traumas. The reasons people do not set aside money for these unexpected emergencies range from unlivable wages, sluggish salary raises with rapid inflation, unfair wage gaps, or even poor financial habits.

When a loved one is dealing with a temporary financial hardships, there are ways to provide assistance or relief.

4 Ways to Help Loved Ones Dealing with Financial Hardships

 

Lend money

If you have the financial ability to lend money to a loved one and are confident you will be repaid, offer a short-term loan. Treat the loved one with compassion, but explain the offer is a loan and is expected to be paid back.

Write up and sign an agreement between you (lender) and the loved one (borrower) to clarify the financial transaction as a loan.

Debt.org shares that a loan agreement between loved ones should include:

  • The names of the parties involved
  • The date of the loan agreement
  • The amount borrowed (principal)
  • Interest rate (if applicable)
  • Repayment terms (monthly payments over a specific period or a lump sum on a certain date)

In the event of nonpayment, the loan agreement should also include:

  • Modification of loan terms
  • Taking ownership of collateral
  • Possible legal action

Hard feelings and arguments between relatives and friends occur when money is lent in good faith but not repaid. So, take the advice I give to my clients who consider lending a loved one cash …

“If you can’t afford to give the money, don’t lend it.”

 

Give money

Instead of lending the money, give the loved one the amount of cash you can afford as a gift.  By giving money as a gift you release the possible future tension in the event the loved one does not pay you back. Consider it as a few early birthday or Christmas gifts.

When giving money, do it privately, discreetly, and without pity. Many loved ones suffer in silence, financially, because they do not want their business shared.

Assure the loved one that you will not share the monetary gift to anyone. Respecting the loved one’s need for privacy is important, especially if they are a very private or prideful person.

 

Pay a bill directly

Consider paying a specific bill or expense directly if you prefer not to give a loved one cash, or they do not want to accept your loan or monetary gift.

Paying a utility, car payment or insurance, or even a rent or mortgage payment, will release a significant financial burden.

Some companies, like PECO, formally Philadelphia Electric Company, allow people to help out and pay a bill on behalf of their customers.

 

Provide a service

Perhaps you may be unable to give a loved one money.

An act of service will go a long way when it comes to helping a loved one experiencing financial hardship. Sometimes, taking time to do something for someone is more helpful than giving money.

Some amazing acts of service can include:

Care for the kids

Offer to babysit or care for their elderly family member who requires special attention. This will free up some time for the loved one to work another job, or get some much-needed rest.

Cook a few meals

You may be aware of a loved one who is struggling to feed their family. Cook and deliver meals for a few days to offset their grocery bill, and relieve the burden of cooking.

Chauffeur for a day

If a loved one does not have transportation, be their chauffeur for one or a few days. Driving them to appointments, run errands, or their job will be much appreciated.

Clean up the house

Clutter can sometimes cause just as much stress as the financial trauma. Offer to clean a loved one’s kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, or the entire home to eliminate that responsibility from their list. Often a clean environment can calm our consciousness to better deal with difficult situations.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 


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People Share Why They Don’t Use Financial Advisers; Some Alternative Ways to Get Financial Help

Many people just do not want to meet with a financial adviser despite the fact that using one may provide numerous financial advantages. Financial advisers provide objectivity of financial situations and give advice to help establish a more secure financial position.

A few personal finance professionals, authors, teachers and bloggers, from the Elevate Community, dedicated to uplifting people of color financially, shared their perspectives:

“Just Not Ready”

Just like weight loss, financial wellness is one of the top three new year resolutions and personal goals. Most people generally know what to do to improve their financial situation, but some are just not ready to do it.

“We like comfort!” says Andre Albritton of The Millennials Next Door. “A financial adviser will give recommendations outside of our comfort zone which can be a frightening experience.”

Money mantras like “save more and spend less” and “pay yourself first” have been stated by every financial expert. The reality is if a person is not mentally ready, they will not execute any plan.

Cost

On television, rich and famous people seem to be the only ones talking about meeting with financial advisers. This creates the perception that it takes thousands or millions of dollars to work with a financial adviser. The consumers living paycheck to paycheck with minimal or no assets (like a home, investments, etc.) may presume it is too expensive to meet with a financial adviser.

Many middle-class Americans are working hard to pay their bills and make ends meet. Paying to meet with a financial adviser may seem premature or unrealistic.

Denial

“People put off seeing a financial adviser for the same reason they avoid going to the doctor or dentist” shares Alfred Edmond Jr., BLACK ENTERPRISE Your Money Your Life Podcast host and co-author of Loving in the Grownzone. “They don’t want to deal with the choices, remedies, or lifestyle changes that will likely be necessary to improve their condition.”

People that practice avoidance in the hope that the problems will go away, or correct itself will deny the problem, and chose not to deal with the financial situation. Unfortunately, avoiding the dis-ease in the bank account will leave a person vulnerable to more financial hardships.

“People are embarrassed about their current (financial) situation and believe their choices got them in that predicament” explains Atiya Brown of Live Financially Savvy Podcast. “Since they don’t know the extent, they may tend to ignore and avoid.”

Pride

Almost 10 years ago, my pride almost put me in the poor house. I remember being ashamed to admit my major money mistakes and felt like a failure. I locked myself in a self-inflicted private prison of shame.

People suffer in silence because of their pride and the shame they feel because of making money mistakes. Making the decision to let go of the shame and ask for guidance will help to release the guilt.

Product Pushers

Julien Saunders of rich & REGULAR states, “Some financial advisers have a tendency to be pushy. Although well-intended, some (financial advisers) can make a person feel pressured. Consumers must fully understand the implications, alternatives, or cost to them as the investor.”

Some financial advisers are perceived as product pushers. Product pushing financial professionals turn off and scare away many consumers. Even though consumers know that financial advisers sell products, they do not want to feel pressured into purchasing products they don’t understand.

Stranger Danger

People do business with people they like, know, and trust. Sharing secret financial skeletons with  someone you don’t know can be extremely uncomfortable. It is even more frightening to give control of your money and assets to that stranger.

Patrina K. Dixon of It’$ My Money says, “Some people have trust issues. Therefore, if they do not trust the financial advisor, they will not be safe to share relevant information the adviser may need to assist the client.

 

Some Alternative Options to Using Financial Advisers 

Many are not ready for the financial commitment to meet or work with a financial adviser. Here are some alternative options and resources to help you “start where you are.”

Financial Blogs and Podcasts

Financial blogs are an excellent resource for free money tips and strategies. Here are a few blogs and podcasts to check out.

Tanya Rapley’s My Fab Finance Blog teaches millennial women of color how to regain control of their finances, overcome financial challenges, and pay off debt.

Talaat and Tai McNeely host the His And Her Money Podcast. Their podcast and blog aim to help married couples reach their financial goals together.

Marsha Barnes’ The Finance Bar Blog connects individuals to their financial wellness. She offers one-on-one coaching and an app that shows where your money is going.

Online Financial Tribes

John Hope Bryant, the founder of Operation Hope stated, “If you hang around nine broke people, you will be the tenth.” Connecting with people who have similar financial goals or have achieved the success desired is essential to financial success. Here are a few online financial tribes to check out.

The Live Richer Academy founded by Tiffany Aliche, who is known as The Budgetnista, is a membership-based online platform that offers courses designed to help participants take their finances to the next level.

Founded by Sandy Smith, of Yes I Am Cheap blog, Hustle Crew is a private Facebook group community that provides resources on entrepreneurship and starting a side hustle.

Financial Coaches

Financial coaches educate clients on the basics of money and credit management. They help their clients establish financial goals and create a customized plan to reach those goals. Financial coaches act as accountability partners to encourage and challenge their clients to success.

Financial coaching services range free through a non-profit programs to a few hundred dollars per hour to work with popular financial coaches privately.


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Here Are 3 Ways to Be Prepared for Tax Season 2019

While many have concerns about filing 2018 returns in the dawn of the federal shutdown which ended temporarily on Jan. 25, the government has assured taxpayers that the IRS will process returns in  the event the shutdown continues after the Feb. 15, the date government goes back to the table to hash out border negotiations.

Regardless to what goes on in the government, as residents we are required to file taxes. That said, it’s important to stay current with tax laws and any income tax changes — most of which can be found on the Internal Revenue Service website: www.irs.gov

Here are three things to get in check for tax season ’19 

Verify Credentials

When it comes to choosing a tax preparer be sure the person has verifiable credentials. Many consumers are unaware that you can only legally file a tax return for someone else in exchange for compensation, if you have a PTIN – Preparer Tax ID Number. A PTIN is numeric identification for tax preparers which may also be used for credentialing. To verify this credential, go to the IRS website, click in Renew Your PTIN, which allows people to not only sign up for the program, but look up tax preparer credentials.

Understand Tax Law Changes and Deductions

Tax laws change each year and its important as a taxpayer and consumer to understand how changes will affect your tax return and liability. The IRS website typically announces changes with credit, deductions, etc., each year. Taxpayers can also call IRS with questions at 1-800-829-1040.

Make A Tax Checklist

The best thing to do prior to filing taxes, is make a list and check it twice because no one wants to be audited. Create a checklist of everything you may need to file on your taxes, this includes, W-2’s, school documents, self-employment forms, childcare expenses, donations receipts, healthcare expenses, interest documentation from banks accounts, retirement account documentation 401k/IRA, student loan interest, etc.

Join me on Facebook to ask your tax questions or for complimentary tax checklist.


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The Right And Wrong Ways To Look At Food

healthy eating habits

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Whether you realize it or not, you hold certain beliefs regarding food. You have general ideas about what food is, what it is not, what it should do for you, and how you should approach it. These beliefs play a role in every decision you make around food. If you carry snacks in your car, if you skip breakfast, if you only eat meals by yourself, it is these subconscious or perhaps conscious ideas revolving around food that drive those actions. If you are unhappy with the results you are seeing in your body, both how it looks and feels, making the changes you want on the outside may require changing your perspective on food. Here are the right and wrong ways to look at food.

healthy eating habits

Source: Manuel Breva Colmeiro / Getty

Wrong: Food is just calories

When we think of food as just calories, we fixate on only counting calories and not considering the value of each calorie. That means we feel guilty about 700 calories no matter where they came from.

MadameNoire

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Eight Responsible Ways to Pass on Wardrobe Items

When editing your wardrobe you’ll need to pass some items on. Instead of throwing them away and sending them to a landfill, give them a second life. Here are eight ways to do just that. 

1. Give Items to Friends & Family

Think about friends, acquaintances, and family members who would enjoy receiving some if not all of the items that you’re passing on. If the recipients live far away, take them along the next time you visit.

2. Have a Swap Party

Get a group of friends together who have wardrobe items to pass on. Turn up the music, provide snacks and libations, and begin to swap. Clothing sizes might differ between the participants, but remember that footwear and accessories can be easier to fit. This is also a very cost-effective way to refresh your style.

3. Consign or Resell on E-Bay and Poshmark

You can resell wardrobe items at consignment stores in your area. Or take photos of them and sell them on sites like eBay and Poshmark. Or collect the items for a Summer garage sale to have outside with a tall glass of lemonade.

4. Donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army

Items that are donated to Goodwill are resold for very low prices. Items passed on to the Salvation Army go to those who are less fortunate.

5. Donate to Dress for Success

Drop dressier items off at your nearest DFS where they’re used to dress women who are re-entering the workforce. Many DFS clients come from homeless shelters or are in temporary YWCA housing and desperately need an interview outfit and work-appropriate attire. DFS provides them with a mini workwear capsule for free to get them on their way. They are especially in need of sizes US12 to US20, and petites and talls across all sizes.

6. Upcycle

Convert T-shirts, clothing made of terry cloth, and sweats into wash rags and dust cloths for housecleaning and gardening chores. Or if you sew, enjoy DIY crafts, have a little time and are feeling creative, here are 100 ways to create new items out of old wardrobe items.

7. Send Clothing back to Retailers that Recycle

Retailers like H&M, Nike, Madewell and Patagonia will often take back items you bought from their store and recycle them for you. I’ve seen clothing bins at our flagship Nordstrom store in Seattle offering the same recycling service.

8. Drop items in USAgain and Planet Aid Bins

USAgain is a non-profit organization that collects textiles, and resells them so that they can be made into reusable and valuable products. Planet Aid does a similar thing of recycling and repurposing textiles. Worn clothes can be repurposed into products like athletic tracks, pillow stuffing, carpet padding, baseball filling, and home insulation.

I edit my wardrobe frequently, and collect items in a bin in our garage before taking them to their next home. Most of my items are donated to Dress for Success Seattle, where they are either used to dress DFS clients for interviews, or sold at their regular Closet Treasure sales. The money goes straight back into the non-profit that empowers women, which makes me feel very good about passing on my clothes to the organization. Some of my handbags are passed on to friends. Some items are dropped off at the Salvation Army, and the rest is dropped into USAgain bins in our neighbourhood. I’ve also attended the a few fun clothing-footwear-accessory swaps.

Over to you. How do you pass on your wardrobe items?


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Using Flooring in Unexpected Ways

Photo by Stephani Buchman

When it comes to flooring, there are many options to choose from and wood is still a timeless, luxurious look we all love. Today, you can create that look using hardwood, engineered hardwood, luxury vinyl, laminate and more. The wonderful thing about the variety of choices available is the endless creative possibilities of using flooring in unexpected ways.

FEATURE WALL Using an engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl plank on a wall is a great way to create a feature wall in any room of the house. It adds a natural warmth, texture and authenticity to your space. You can use the same planks you would use on your floor or go for a three dimensional look with a 3D wall product!

FIFTH WALL Interior designers know the importance of considering the ceiling a fifth wall in the room. Applying flooring to a ceiling is an innovative way to add texture and style to the room. Natural wood tones added to a ceiling is quite common but painting it white and adding beams in a contrasting color can also be quite striking.

BACKSPLASH Engineered hardwood, luxury vinyl plank and laminate products all offer properties that hold up well to moisture making them both a functional and stylish way to create a unique backsplash for a basement bar area.

MIXING WOOD AND TILE I love the idea of integrating tile with wood for a look that is both stunning and practical. Entryways and bathrooms seem to be the most popular places to use this combination. Tile is placed by an outside door or surrounding a freestanding bathtub where moisture may be an issues and then hardwood is used to bring warmth into the space. Cutting the wood planks to meet the shape of the tile creates a natural, seamless effect with a very designer touch. – Text by Christine Da Costa, www.decorbychristine.com

The post Using Flooring in Unexpected Ways appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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7 Ways to Help Your Kids Unplug This Winter

With darkness falling early and cold weather often limiting regular outdoor activities, your kids are apt to spend more time in front of screens during winter, using phones, computers, TVs, and other electronics and filling their hours with games and social media.

While media and digital devices are an integral part of our lives today, research has shown that face-to-face time with parents, family, and friends is even more important in promoting your child’s healthy development. By thinking creatively and being proactive, you can ensure that your kids enjoy a wintertime filled with fun, unplugged activities, and family connections.

Make a plan
Start by talking with your kids and creating a media use plan that you can all agree upon, then stick to it. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a useful template, including a digital time calculator.

Much like the way you plan your child’s nutritional diet — ensuring lots of healthy fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains and limiting extra sugar — you should be intentional about your kids’ daily “activity diet.” Prioritize those activities that are important for healthy development: 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day and one hour of daily exercise, plus family time, outdoor play, reading, and hobbies. Then create space in the daily schedule for the “dessert” of screen time and be consistent in enforcing daily limits.

Get outside together
A nightly walk can be a fun and easy way to get outside and get exercise. To keep the kids engaged, create a scavenger hunt-type list and bring flashlights. One night you could focus on spotting (and hearing) different types of animals. Another night could be devoted to scents (fireplace smoke, pine, etc.) or sounds (barking dogs, a siren, branches creaking). On weekends, head to your nearest park for a nature walk. Buy a bird book and encourage your kids to keep a list of the feathered friends they spot. End each walk by enjoying a warm mug of hot cocoa together.

Get your game on
Winter is the perfect time to break out the board games that have been gathering dust in the closet. For preschoolers, board games are a fun way to learn to follow rules, focus, and take turns. For older kids, these games offer a chance for healthy competition and face-to-face interaction. Old-fashioned favorites like Monopoly and Risk can be strung out over several nights or long afternoons. Or keep things interesting by having a running tournament (chess, checkers, backgammon), with results posted nightly. Share the fun by inviting other families over for Game Night and ask them to bring their favorite game to share.

Set up a creative corner
Tap into your kids’ inner artist by creating a space for them to draw, color, paint, sculpt, or construct every day. Just as schools have begun recognizing the value of providing a “maker space,” you can help your children unleash their creativity by setting aside time and providing the resources they need to create and build.

Encourage your bookworms
Cold weather offers a cozy time to curl up with a good book. The most important thing you can do to encourage your kids to love reading is to read aloud to them, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics — even after they know how to read for themselves.

Plan a weekly trip to the library and encourage your kids to use the hour you spend there choosing reading material from a wide variety of genres: poetry, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, science fiction. Whether they are 4 or 14, help them find some non-fiction books or magazines that speak to their passions — baseball, dinosaurs, bugs, or the American West. Find a book series that appeals to the whole family and carve out time each night for a family read-aloud hour, with family members assigned different characters to read.

Tap into the power of play
For kids of all ages, unstructured play is serious business — helping them build thriving brains, bodies, and social bonds. In fact, many pediatricians have begun to write a “prescription for play” for kids of all ages. The key is to create an opportunity for your children to take the lead and follow their own curiosity.

The tools you provide don’t have to be flashy or fancy.By simply equipping them with boxes, blankets, and chairs, kids can spend hours building a fort in the family room. Or put together a basket of “grown-up” clothes or inexpensive props or costumes from the local secondhand store and encourage your children and their friends to put together a production to perform for the family.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast: Whenever the temperatures permit, make plans to meet up with other families at the local playground or ball field and let the kids run wild together. Unstructured play, inside or outside, has the added benefit of being a stress-buster. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: Kids who engage in play build safe and nurturing relationships that protect against stress and help build social-emotional resilience.

Safeguard screen time
When your kids do spend time enjoying the treat of screen time, there are steps you can take to ensure their safety and prevent negative outcomes. Co-viewing or co-playing a video game with your children is one way to stay engaged and give you a better idea of how your kids are spending their time. And younger kids learn better from media when they share the experience with an adult, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Stay plugged in to who your child is playing with online, as well as the software, apps, and websites they are visiting. Make sure TVs and mobile devices are turned off at least an hour before bedtime, since the blue light can interfere with sleep. Recharging devices overnight in the kitchen or living room will ensure kids aren’t tempted to wake up and use their devices during the night.

Above all, be a good digital device role model and limit your own use so that you can be fully engaged during meal times, car trips, vacations — any time you spend with your kids.

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The Average American Spends $798/Month on Their Car. 3 Ways to Pay Less

You love your car. It’s your ride. It fits your needs as well as your style.

But have you thought about how much you actually spend to have it? According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s report on Consumer Expenditures in 2017 (released in September of 2018), the average cost to own a vehicle — including purchase, insurance, gas and other expenditures — is $ 9,576 annually.

That’s $ 798 per month, folks.

If you spend nearly $ 800 on your monthly car expenses, you’d probably like to shave that number down a bit. You’re in luck. Use these three tips to save some of that money for the drive-thru window.

1. Get a Better Loan

When you bought your car, you probably got a loan to do it. No problem.

But you probably didn’t get the best interest rate, either. That means you’re paying more in interest that you should. That’s a problem.

With auto refinancing, the biggest hurdle is the process of re-titling your vehicle, which involves dealing with your local DMV. And, oh my god, who wants to mess with that?

Never fear — MotoRefi’s digital platform handles all that technical stuff so you don’t have to. In a matter of minutes, you could qualify for a lower monthly payment, lower interest rate or both.

MotoRefi partners with lenders — like community and regional banks — that can offer you the best rates. Once you choose a lender, MotoRefi handles all the paperwork, including the cumbersome re-titling process.

MotoRefi says it’s saving the average customer $ 100 per month or more. Checking for potential savings won’t impact your credit score.

MotoRefi is available in California, Connecticut and Michigan.

2. Kick Your Overpriced Insurance Premium to the Curb

If you have a car, you probably need insurance, right? Right. But that bill takes a big chunk out of your bank account each month.

For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?

Yes. There’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.

So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?

The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.

Here’s how it works:

1. Head over to The Zebra’s search platform. Enter your car’s year, make and model, and your zip code. Continue on to answer questions about your driving habits, your car and your life.

On the right sidebar, you’ll watch rates increase or decrease based on your answers. For example, if you’ve gotten into an accident — that was your fault — in the past three years, your rates will kick up. It’s interesting to see what effect your answers might have.

2. After answering some questions, it’s time to compare. The Zebra gives you an “Insurability Score,” which is similar to your credit score except it’s for car insurance, and it  teaches you how to get better rates. The site also gives you different options for coverage.

Seriously, it only takes 60 seconds and you could save up to 50% on your premiums. If you’re paying that average of $ 118 per month, that’s $ 59 back in your pocket. Nice.

3. Pump the Brakes on High Gas Prices

If you’re a savvy saver, you probably already use GasBuddy to help you find the cheapest gas station in town. It’s an easy — and free — way to avoid overpaying.

But once you pull up to the pump, here’s something else you can do: Get a discount card from GasBuddy to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).

The free discount card is tied directly to your checking account. It works at 95% of gas stations throughout the country, so you don’t have to drive around town just to find “your” station. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a rebate — it’s immediate savings.

Simply and securely sign up through GasBuddy. Connect your bank account, enter your address, and GasBuddy will put a card in the mail.

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal on your monthly car savings. Step on it!

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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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10 Unique Ways Homeowners Saved to Buy a House

Tired of rising rent prices? Looking for a place to really call home? The lack of quality affordable housing can make the dream of homeownership seem unreachable. It doesn’t have to be this way! Take heart from these 10 hopeful stories, along with some practical tips and insights for making the dream a reality.
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11 Easy Ways to Be More Likeable

I’m a big believer in being myself but sometimes, it can really help to get through life more easily and to get what you want if you adapt in a certain way so you become more likeable.

So first of all, what’s a likeable person and what are their traits? Likeable people are often considered down-to-earth, open, authentic, interested, self-deprecating, trustworthy, and a bunch of other things. Usually, they’re warm and emotionally stable people that others want to be around.

So are you a likeable person? The first thing to consider is that if you think about this question, you’re probably too hard on yourself. Four university studies found that people often underestimated how much their conversation partner liked them. So you’re probably already more likeable than you think you are, however, there is always room for improvement.

11 Easy Ways To Become More Likeable

Social Media platforms
Social Media platforms

1.Be Yourself!

I know it’s a super cliche answer but sometimes, the person you want to be doesn’t line up with the person you actually are. The perfect example is social media; the way people portray themselves on Instagram or in Facebook rarely matches the real-life circumstances. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to get people to like who you want to be rather than who you actually are, you may come off as insecure and unreal.

Often, people can sense this and they want to know the real genuine authentic you, not the idealized version. So let them see the real you even though at times that might seem embarrassing, it really helps to increase your likability because people can relate better with you and they don’t put you on a pedestal that is just an ideal of everything that they can’t have because obviously, they know about the things that are not perfect in their own lives and they like to see it in others.

Have a few conversation starters ready
Have a few conversation starters ready

2. Learn Great Conversation Starters

Other people will be relieved that they don’t have to start the conversation. Those could be things like “Did you choose your profession or did your professions choose you?” or maybe “What makes you laugh the most?”. Having a few good starter questions ready every time before you attend a social event will make you more secure and you will probably end up having more good conversations. It will also avoid awkward moments and people will thank you for it because they know when they talk to you, it’s never embarrassing or strange.

Accept a compliment gracefully
Accept a compliment gracefully

3. Give Out Compliments

Most people think a lot more about themselves than others do think about them. So they may put a lot of effort into a hairstyle, their outfits, or the way they dress but others won’t even notice it. So by picking up on something that is special about a person and by complimenting them on it makes you instantly more likeable.

Why? Well, you actually stand out from the crowd because you noticed something others don’t and it flatters the other person and honestly, who doesn’t want to be flattered? That being said, it’s best not to comment on body parts or ideally, things that people can’t change anything about. Instead, compliment them on something they do or they did.

Denying a compliment is never appropriate
Denying a compliment is never appropriate

4. Accept Compliments Gracefully

Often, when people are complimented, they don’t know how to respond. They try to diminish the compliment. Instead, you should accept it gracefully. What does it mean specifically? All you need to do is to say thank you and smile.

Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2011 in Burbank, Calif.

5. Show Some Self-Deprecating Humor

The perfect way to utilize humor to become more likeable without distancing others is to use self-deprecating humor. So what does it mean? Just make fun about yourself. That means, maybe share weird things about you or share a time when you look like a loser or when you did something that looks really stupid. I know it seems weird and hard but by doing that and getting other people to laugh about it, they will instantly like you more.

Another good way to add self-deprecating humor is to compare yourself to others so you can say “Oh wow you’re just twenty-two when you’re running your own business; when I was 22, my mom did my laundry for me”. That way, you put yourself in a light that lets others shine and that makes you instantly more likeable even though you may feel like you look like a loser.

In my opinion, a master of self-deprecating humor is Ellen DeGeneres. She utilizes this technique all the time in her show and people love her so next time you watch that show, pay attention to it and you will see how she utilizes it to become instantly more likeable.

Listen
Listen

6. Listen!

So far, we all talked about active steps you can take but one of the easiest way to become more likeable is to really in genuinely listen to what other people say. No, if you’re just waiting for the other person to finish before you can give your reply, you’re not actively listening. Actively listening means that you comprehend what they’re saying that you repeat what they’re saying and that you later follow up with a question pertaining to it so they really know that you listened and also cared.

So always try to paraphrase what people said in a quick way without going into too much detail. You can also have follow-up questions that show that you comprehended what was said and you just keep the conversation going. In general, people like to feel like they’re heard and understood and by actively listening, you achieve exactly that. An even bigger step is not just to listen but to act on what someone just said.

Ask smart questions
Ask smart questions

7. Ask Questions

It goes slightly into the same vein as the active listening but more questions keep a conversation going and the more smart questions you ask, the more understood and heard the other person feels and the more they feel taken care of and comfortable in your presence.

two men having a conversation
two men having a conversation

8. Be Vulnerable

Most people engage in small talk but small talk doesn’t allow you to really be vulnerable and it’s not well-suited to get to know someone. Mostly, it’s just tedious and boring and frankly, it can be much harder than having a genuine conversation about things that actually mean something to people. So try to stop yourself from engaging in small talk and get real.

That means you can be a leader in a conversation who dives deeper first without waiting for the other person to expose themselves or show a vulnerability. Of course, this has to be a gradual process. If you tell people about your financial problems the first time they meet you, they think of you as being weird. So a good starter question that I always use is “What do you do when you don’t work?”. Most people have the impulse to tell me what their job is because that’s what they usually hear but then it usually takes a second for them to realize I’m actually asking about their passions and you can see a little smile, they’ll light up and they tell me more about the things they like to do.

Now, that is a first step to create a connection, to create something where they feel they can share with me and usually, they have an interest in it so they don’t get tired of talking about it. Once we’re at that step, you can ask deeper and deeper questions and that way, you have a conversation that is quite meaningful and both people will walk away without feeling like they wasted their time and that they were bored.

Always keep in mind, people love to talk about their passions and not so much about their insecurities yet everyone has them and by opening up and sharing your struggles and your insecurities, you become instantly more relatable and thus likeable.

9. Minimize Complaining

We all feel like we want to complain every once in a while and that’s okay, however, if you complain constantly, you carry a negative aura with you and others don’t want to be around you because you just bring them down or make them feel bad. So what if you just have a natural negative outlook in life and that’s simply who you are? Well, in that case, I suggest you try to flip it around and try to see the positive things and frankly, if sometimes that’s too hard and you can’t find anything nice to say, it’s better not to say anything at all.

Pitti Uomo 82
Pitti Uomo 82

10. Make Everyone Feel Included

If you have a group conversation, there’s usually someone who speaks a lot more than someone else. If you pick up on that and you notice that someone is being quiet or just alone, it really pays to loop them back into the conversation by asking them a question.

Sven Raphael Schneider in White Tie keeping it real
Sven Raphael Schneider in White Tie keeping it real

11. Embrace A Positive Attitude

It makes sense to embrace a positive attitude because other people will like to be around you because it makes them feel positive. Usually, positive people uplift other people and don’t drain their energy. Sometimes, just reminding yourself of that is all it takes to be more positive.

Finally, it’s only fair to acknowledge that people have their own will and chances are some people will never like you and that’s okay. In those cases, it’s best not to focus on things you can’t change but the things you can do. If you apply these eleven tips in your social life, I guarantee you, you will be more liked.

So what are your secret tips to become more likeable? Please share with us in the comments and give us a thumbs up.


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CFDA Introduces Sustainability Initiatives to Help Guide Designers Looking for Cleaner Ways to Work

With “where to begin” being a common conundrum for many brands considering sustainability, the CFDA has launched its Sustainability Initiatives to help designers do their part to clean up the fashion industry.
In line with the United Nations’ call for the fashion industry to act on its global mandate on sustainability, the CFDA has rolled out a four-part strategy. Many designers’ questions may be answered by referencing the first edition of the CFDA Guide to Sustainable Strategies, the Sustainable Strategies Toolkit, the CFDA Materials Index or the CFDA Sustainability Directory.
While Eileen Fisher, Stella McCartney and other designers have been committed to trying to clean up the industry’s excessive waste for a while, many less established brands are examining sustainability for the first time. The United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion will stage its launch event March 14, during a media event of the 4th U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Just as consumers have learned about the environmental farm-to-table choices, sustainability supporters are hopeful that greater awareness about the need for sustainable fashion will lead to changing the consumption and production habits.
Konstantin Grcic recently joined forces with the Aeance to create a sustainable capsule collection. Stella McCartney has been leading the

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Scientists Seek Ways To Finally Take A Real Measure Of Pain

(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Is the pain stabbing or burning? On a scale from 1 to 10, is it a 6 or an 8?

Over and over, 17-year-old Sarah Taylor struggled to make doctors understand her sometimes debilitating levels of pain, first from joint-damaging childhood arthritis and then from fibromyalgia.

“It’s really hard when people can’t see how much pain you’re in, because they have to take your word on it and sometimes, they don’t quite believe you,” she said.

Now scientists are peeking into Sarah’s eyes to track how her pupils react when she’s hurting and when she’s not — part of a quest to develop the first objective way to measure pain.

“If we can’t measure pain, we can’t fix it,” said Dr. Julia Finkel, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, who invented the experimental eye-tracking device.

At just about every doctor’s visit you’ll get your temperature, heart rate and blood pressure measured. But there’s no stethoscope for pain. Patients must convey how bad it is using that 10-point scale or emoji-style charts that show faces turning from smiles to frowns.

That’s problematic for lots of reasons. Doctors and nurses have to guess at babies’ pain by their cries and squirms, for example. The aching that one person rates a 7 might be a 4 to someone who’s more used to serious pain or genetically more tolerant. Patient-to-patient variability makes it hard to test if potential new painkillers really work.

Nor do self-ratings determine what kind of pain someone has — one reason for trial-and-error treatment. Are opioids necessary? Or is the pain, like Sarah’s, better suited to nerve-targeting medicines?

“It’s very frustrating to be in pain and you have to wait like six weeks, two months, to see if the drug’s working,” said Sarah, who uses a combination of medications, acupuncture and lots of exercise to counter her pain.

The National Institutes of Health is pushing for development of what its director, Dr. Francis Collins, has called a “pain-o-meter.” Spurred by the opioid crisis, the goal isn’t just to signal how much pain someone’s in. It’s also to determine what kind it is and what drug might be the most effective.

“We’re not creating a lie detector for pain,” stressed David Thomas of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, who oversees the research. “We do not want to lose the patient voice.”

Around the country, NIH-funded scientists have begun studies of brain scans, pupil reactions and other possible markers of pain in hopes of finally “seeing” the ouch so they can better treat it. It’s early-stage research, and it’s not clear how soon any of the attempts might pan out.

“There won’t be a single signature of pain,” Thomas predicted. “My vision is that someday we’ll pull these different metrics together for something of a fingerprint of pain.”

NIH estimates 25 million people in the U.S. experience daily pain. Most days Sarah Taylor is one of them. Now living in Potomac, Maryland, she was a toddler in her native Australia when the swollen, aching joints of juvenile arthritis appeared. She’s had migraines and spinal inflammation. Then two years ago, the body-wide pain of fibromyalgia struck; a flare-up last winter hospitalized her for two weeks.

One recent morning, Sarah climbed onto an acupuncture table at Children’s National, rated that day’s pain a not-too-bad 3, and opened her eyes wide for the experimental pain test.

“There’ll be a flash of light for 10 seconds. All you have to do is try not to blink,” researcher Kevin Jackson told Sarah as he lined up the pupil-tracking device, mounted on a smartphone.

The eyes offer a window to pain centers in the brain, said Finkel, who directs pain research at Children’s Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

How? Some pain-sensing nerves transmit “ouch” signals to the brain along pathways that also alter muscles of the pupils as they react to different stimuli. Finkel’s device tracks pupillary reactions to light or to non-painful stimulation of certain nerve fibers, aiming to link different patterns to different intensities and types of pain.

Consider the shooting hip and leg pain of sciatica: “Everyone knows someone who’s been started on oxycodone for their sciatic nerve pain. And they’ll tell you that they feel it — it still hurts — and they just don’t care,” Finkel said.

What’s going on? An opioid like oxycodone brings some relief by dulling the perception of pain but not its transmission — while a different kind of drug might block the pain by targeting the culprit nerve fiber, she said.

Certain medications also can be detected by other changes in a resting pupil, she said. Last month the Food and Drug Administration announced it would help AlgometRx, a biotech company Finkel founded, speed development of the device as a rapid drug screen.

Looking deeper than the eyes, scientists at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital found MRI scans revealed patterns of inflammation in the brain that identified either fibromyalgia or chronic back pain.

Other researchers have found changes in brain activity — where different areas “light up” on scans — that signal certain types of pain. Still others are using electrodes on the scalp to measure pain through brain waves.

Ultimately, NIH wants to uncover biological markers that explain why some people recover from acute pain while others develop hard-to-treat chronic pain.

“Your brain changes with pain,” Thomas explained. “A zero-to-10 scale or a happy-face scale doesn’t capture anywhere near the totality of the pain experience.”

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Renters Rejoice: Here’s 8 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Before buying a house last winter, I had rented several apartments in southwestern Ohio, which gets so cold in the winter (and fall and sometimes spring) that I may as well have lived in Alaska. The problem with every single apartment I lived in was the same: It was exorbitantly expensive to heat each one in the winter due to old systems, ancient windows and poor insulation.

Luckily, the house I purchased has great new windows, excellent insulation and doors that actually close properly. And any issues that have caused inefficient heating in my home, I’ve been able to fix cheaply.

It’s much more challenging to combat these issues in apartments because, as a renter, you can’t just invest in new windows or redo the insulation. In my eight years of renting, however, I discovered a number of ways to cut back on my apartment heating bills.

Close Off Unused Rooms

If you live in a two- or three-bedroom apartment but use one of the rooms for storage, exercise or an irregularly accessed workspace, close the door and shut the vents in that room when it is not in use. Otherwise, you will unnecessarily be heating an unused space.

And if the space is so infrequently used, consider downsizing to a smaller apartment the next time your lease is up for renewal. If you stay within the same apartment complex, you often will not have to offer up new deposits.

Turn Down the Heat

An easy way to reduce your electric or heating bill in the winter is to run your heat at a lower temperature.

Obviously, you need to keep your apartment warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing, but if you can stand the chill, keep your apartment in the low- to mid-60s. Bundle up in sweatshirts, thick socks and blankets to stay warm — and don’t forget to cover up your pets, too.

Use a Space Heater

OK, so you’ve turned the heat down, closed off unused rooms and bundled up in blankets, but you’re still feeling chilly. A small space heater might do the trick. Rather than wasting the energy to heat the whole apartment to a warmer temperature, keep a space heater in the area that you plan to spend the day or evening. Running a little bit of heat in one small area is more affordable than heating your entire living space.

Insulate Your Windows

One apartment I lived in shortly after college had a living room with one wall that was entirely windows, overlooking a quaint pond. I toured the apartment in the springtime and was immediately sold. Little did I know that these single-pane windows would be the bane of my existence just nine months later when frost began forming on the inside.

Since renters can’t control whether their landlords install replacement windows (though I spent at least an hour a week in the main office demanding that mine do so, to no avail), finding temporary ways to keep heat from leaking out is crucial.

You can do this by hanging thick curtains in front of the windows, but an even better solution (or a solution to combine with the curtains) is purchasing a window insulation film kit. If it is your first time installing, I recommend asking an experienced friend or family member for assistance; when incorrectly installed, your window will look like it’s been covered in shrink wrap.

Stop Eating Out

Of course, you can save money on meals by eating at home instead of dining out, but in the winter, baking and cooking can have the added benefit of reducing your heating bill.

When you cook in your oven and on the stove top, heat emanates into your kitchen and surrounding rooms. Even after turning the oven off, the remaining heat will eventually filter out to into your home.

Block Out Drafts From Your Door

The bottoms of exterior doors are a major culprit for heat loss in the winter. If you can see daylight creeping in from beneath your door or feel a cool breeze, speak to your landlord about addressing this issue.

If that becomes a dead end or it will take maintenance a few days to get over, temporarily improve the situation by rolling up a towel and blocking the bottom of the door. The solution isn’t perfect, but it will prevent some heat loss for the time being.

Weatherstrip Like Crazy

Weatherstripping for doors and windows is key to retaining heat in the winter (and keeping it out in the summer). If your windows and doors are letting too much heat out, ask your landlord to replace the weatherstripping.

Unfortunately, not all landlords are created equal. If you encounter a landlord who dodges your requests, tell them in writing that you will be replacing the weatherstripping yourself. (Do not make it a question.) It’s a minor cost and will save you big-time on heating bills.

Leave a Review

If you are stuck in a lease at an apartment community that does not take your maintenance concerns seriously, remember that online reviews are your friend. Leave reviews on Google, social media and the Better Business Bureau site if your landlord ignores or refuses your reasonable requests. I’ve had to leave reviews more than once, and conveniently, the landlords took care of the issues the very next day.

Before you know it, winter will come and go. Reduce energy consumption year-round by also reading our tips for reducing utility bills in the summer.

Timothy Moore is a market research editor and freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 and has been featured on sites like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.

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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4 Ways to Deal if You Want to Be Debt-Free but Your Partner Keeps Spending

When you get married or combine finances with someone, you may think that tackling debt will be easier than doing it on your own.

Then you find out your partner has no intention of paying off debt or being involved with finances.

Cool.

But if this is you, don’t worry. Just because the love of your life isn’t driven to get rid of debt right now, it doesn’t mean they never will be.

I admit that I wasn’t on board with paying off debt when my then-fiance “suggested” it to me.

I came from a background where we always had money to pay the bills but never enough for anything else. So when I was finally making my own money, I wanted to use it to live, not to pay my $ 52,000 of student loan debt.

But many people overcome their aversions to paying off debt and end up being just as motivated as their significant other.

Here are some tips for bridging that gap.

4 Strategies for When Your Partner Doesn’t Care About Being Debt-Free

These tips may not speed up the journey, but they are the best way to get to freedom from debt if you don’t want to sleep on the couch the whole way.

1. Slow Down and Rethink Your Approach

If the fact that your partner doesn’t want to think about finances frustrates you, sit down, take a deep breath and think about why.

A lot of people have negative emotions and experiences tied to money.

Talking about finances can be a trigger for someone whose parents fought about money. If someone never had enough money for small pleasures growing up, they might go into defense mode if you tell them you want to stop spending money and sell their stuff.

And the thought of debt itself can be a heavy mental burden, especially when life is throwing more problems into the mix. It takes time, persistence and understanding to find out what the root of your partner’s hesitation is and how to work through it.

2. Talk About the Future

Couple holding hands

My husband knows that I’m a goal-driven person, so he asked me what my goals for the future were. He got me thinking about how freedom from debt could help me achieve my goals faster.

Make sure your partner’s goals and wants are heard. Share your own wants, and talk about how your goals and your partner’s goals can work together. Your partner may not have concrete goals right now, but they surely have something they want. Maybe they want to travel, buy a boat, stay at home with kids or pursue a passion.

Anything they want to do in the future is going to have a financial component. And once you’ve identified it, you’ll be able to sit down and talk about that. But as with the first recommendation, take it slowly.

3. Plan a Road Trip

If your partner will no longer listen to you about finances, don’t force it.

They still need to hear it, just not from you. That’s where podcasts and audiobooks can come in for the assist. And there’s no better way to have your partner’s uninterrupted ear than playing them in the car.

That’s how Budgets Made Easy creator Ashley Patrick was able to get her husband on board.

“I attempted budget meetings, but he wasn’t interested,” Ashley said. “He was content letting me handle it all. The biggest thing that fully got him on board was playing Dave Ramsey podcasts in the car. Especially when I did it on a long road trip. Hours of Dave Ramsey helped change his mindset.”

She and her husband paid off $ 45,000 in 17 months, and Ashley now provides financial coaching through Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey Solutions.

4. Be an Example They’ll Want to Follow

While you’re waiting for your partner to join the team, make sure they know what the game looks like.

You can continue to budget, pay off debt and be wise with your spending even if your partner isn’t. Sometimes they just need to see that it can be done.

As you do this, take into consideration what they value and want. Maybe you think Topgolf is a waste of money, but your husband loves going once a month. Put it in the budget to show him that the process is only as restrictive as you make it.

At the end of the day, being debt-free isn’t the goal: having financial freedom is. And if you want your partner to be part of that, it might take some patience and perseverance. But it’s worth it — not just financially — to get on the same page and head in the same direction with your goals.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She was reluctant at first, but once she got on board, she and her husband paid off $ 78,000 of debt in two years. See more of her story and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @modernfrugality.

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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5 Ways You Can Save $1,378 in 2019 (Even if You’re Awful at Saving Money)

The blank slate of a new year is something I always look forward to as January approaches.

It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. The new year is a time to set yourself off on the right foot.

Many of us — myself included — try to commit to financial goals as we make our New Year’s resolutions. We have grand visions of saving more money… but we don’t always have a plan mapped out to make it happen.

That’s where the 52-Week Money Challenge comes in.

You may have caught wind of this challenge on social media around the beginning of January in years past. The premise is simple, but this savings endeavor gets more difficult as the year goes along.

The first week, you save $ 1. The second week, you save $ 2. The third week, you save $ 3…

The idea is to increase the amount you deposit by $ 1 each week until you eventually save $ 52 in week 52, the last week of the year. Stay disciplined and stick to the plan, and you’ll have $ 1,378 in your account at the end of the year.

Can you imagine what you could do with an extra $ 1,378? Go ahead, I’ll give you a second to dream.

Now let’s get back to reality. While saving over $ 1,000 in one year is wonderful, the classic 52-week challenge isn’t ideal for everyone. It’s good for those who love to raise the bar higher after each goal they reach. But others shudder at the thought of saving over $ 200 in the month of December. (You’d need to save $ 49, $ 50, $ 51 and $ 52 in the last four weeks of the year.)

The good news is that the 52-week challenge can be customized to work for your financial life.

5 Alternative Ways to Conquer the 52-Week Money Challenge

We’ve come up with five new ways to complete the 52-Week Money Challenge. You’ll still make weekly deposits into your savings account. You’ll still end up with $ 1,378 by year’s end. These options just have you going about the savings plan in different ways.

Method No. 1 — Odd Numbers Up, Even Numbers Down

A GIF plays showing how to save money

This approach is for those who’d like the challenge to get easier as the year winds down.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You start the year saving money on an odd-number basis, increasing the amount each week by $ 2. So in week one, you’ll save $ 1. In week two, you’ll save $ 3. In week 3, you’ll save $ 5. Keep the pattern going until you’re at week 26, when you’ll save $ 51.
  2. Once you hit week 27 (halfway through the year), you’ll switch your savings amounts to even numbers, starting with $ 52. From there, you’ll decrease the amount you’re saving each week by $ 2. So you’ll save $ 52 in week 27, $ 50 in week 28, $ 48 in week 29 and so on. Once you hit the last week of the year, you’ll only be depositing $ 2 into your account to reach that $ 1,378 total.

While you’ll need to put away large sums of money in the months of June and July, you’ll stress less about saving money at the end of the year.

Method No. 2 — Quarterly Breakdowns

A woman puts in a dollar bill in a piggy bank.

Maybe you like the idea of saving more money each week, but you’d rather break up the time frame into smaller chunks. With this approach, you’ll save incrementally each quarter, which is every 13 weeks.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Deposit $ 1 into your savings account the first week. For the following weeks in the quarter, you’ll add $ 4 to the amount you deposited the previous week. So for the second week, you’ll deposit $ 5. For the third week, you’ll deposit $ 9. Keep up the pattern until you’ve reached week 13, when you’ll deposit $ 49.
  2. Start the second quarter of the year by depositing $ 2. You’ll be in week 14 at this point. Start the pattern of adding $ 4 to each subsequent deposit amount until you get through week 26. So you’ll deposit $ 6 in week 15, $ 10 in week 16 and so on until week 26, when you’ll deposit $ 50.
  3. Start the third quarter of the year by depositing $ 3. You’re now in week 27. Start up the pattern of adding $ 4 to the amount you deposit each week. In week 28, you’ll deposit $ 7. In week 29, you’ll deposit $ 11. Continue this pattern through week 39, when you’ll deposit $ 51.
  4. Week 40 will be the first week of the last quarter of the year. You’ll start off by depositing $ 4 that week, and then you’ll jump back into the pattern you established in the previous quarters. You’ll need to deposit $ 8 in week 41 and $ 12 in week 42. You’ll keep at it until you’ve deposited $ 52 in week 52, resulting in a total yearly savings of $ 1,378.

Method No. 3 — Random Lottery

A woman pulls a piece of paper from a jar

This method is for those who like to mix things up and not follow a predictable path. You’ll choose a different dollar amount at random each week to reach the savings goal.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Get 52 slips of paper, and write an amount from $ 1 to $ 52 on each piece. Fold each slip of paper and put them in a jar.
  2. Blindly select a slip of paper each week. The amount on the paper you pull will be the amount you deposit that week. Discard each slip of paper after you select it. Instead of doing weekly drawings, you could also create a chart or spreadsheet that outlines how much you’ll deposit each week. At the beginning of the year, you can draw slips of paper for all 52 weeks and write down on your spreadsheet how much you’ll save each week.

This approach to saving is completely arbitrary. You might deposit $ 5 one week and then $ 50 the next. There really isn’t a method to the madness.

Method No. 4 — Semicontrolled Lottery

A woman pulls out a piece of paper from a jar.

This method is a hybrid between completely random selection and incremental savings deposits.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Write deposit amounts from $ 1 to $ 52 on slips of paper.
  2. Separate the slips of paper into four piles: $ 1 to $ 13 in one group, $ 14 to $ 26 in the next group, $ 27 to $ 39 in another group and $ 40 to $ 52 in the last group.
  3. Fold the slips of paper, and put each group into its own jar. Label them Jar One, Jar Two, Jar Three and Jar Four.
  4. Blindly select a slip of paper from Jar One in the first week. Pull from Jar Two the second week, then Jar Three in the third week and Jar Four in the fourth week. Discard each slip of paper after you select it for the week. Go back to Jar One in week five, and repeat that pattern through the end of the year. You can also choose to do the selection for the entire year at the beginning of the year, using a chart or spreadsheet to record which amounts you picked from the jars for each week.

With this method, you’re guaranteed to be depositing a mix of dollar amounts each month — some on the lower end and some on the higher end. Although you’re still incorporating some random selection, you won’t ever run into the possibility of making four deposits over $ 40 in one month.

Method No. 5 — Steady Savings

A woman counts $  26.50

If you thrive on consistency, this option is perfect for you.

Instead of varying the amount of money you save weekly, you can deposit $ 26.50 into your savings account each week for 52 weeks to reach that $ 1,378 goal by year’s end.

This is a simple, uniform approach to meeting this money-saving challenge. Sure, it may not be as fun (for those of us who think saving is fun in the first place), but it gets the job done.

You don’t have to think twice about how much you need to save each week. In fact, you can automate your deposits at the beginning of the year and not think about them at all.

The Most Important Lesson: Just Start Saving

Now that we showed you it’s possible to save over $ 1,000 in one year, the question is: Which method will you choose?

We’ve highlighted several options, but keep in mind there are many other ways to customize a money-saving challenge to your liking.

Maybe you get paid every other week, and you want to make your deposits biweekly so they fall on payday. Perhaps you’d rather commit to depositing money in your savings account once a month. Or maybe the bulk of your income comes from tips, and you prefer to save your cash on a daily basis.

You also don’t have to constrict yourself to saving $ 1,378. (I have to admit, it’s a pretty odd amount to stick with.) If your budget is tight and saving $ 52 in one week seems impossible at any time of the year, you could cut the suggested weekly deposits in half. You’ll still net $ 689 by the end of the year. Or maybe you have a bit of wiggle room in your budget and you want to double the weekly deposits, which will give you $ 2,756 in savings at the end of the year.

No matter how you choose to do it, the important thing is that you’re consciously making the effort to save. Get in the habit of regularly putting money aside so that when 2020 rolls around, saving money won’t even seem like a challenge to you.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’ll probably go with method No. 5.

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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5 Fun, Alternative Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve

Who says going out to a party is the best way to ring in the New Year? Some of the most satisfying moments in life are when we’re having fun in an intimate setting with friends and family. Below, we’ve rounded up a few unique ways you can celebrate New Year’s Eve.

 

Plan a game night. 

Whether you want to put an adult twist to one of your favorite childhood games, such as Jenga and Tic-Tac-Toe, or opt for a new game like Black Card Revoked; an Afrocentric trivia game; there are plenty of fun options to keep you having fun into the early morning hours of New Year’s day. Add some delicious food and spirits, and you’re in for a great New Year’s Eve.

Host a New Year’s Eve dinner party with friends.

 A classic way to bring in the New Year, but classic doesn’t mean boring, right? A New Year’s dinner party with family and friends is a great way to reflect on the past year and chat about plans for the New Year. Perhaps you can host a cook-off or prepare a tasting menu of festive finger foods. Check out a few New Year’s Eve recipes on Food Network and MarthaStewart.com. And, for champagne cocktails–check out Bustle.com.

Host a masquerade party. 

Plan an evening of mystery and magic with a themed masquerade party. Beyond requesting that guests wear masquerade masks, you can ask them to bring their favorite dish and bottle of champagne, or you can feature several drinks from around the world.

Attend church. 

From plays and musical concerts to games and speakers, many churches plan a series of watch-night events to usher in the New Year.

Plan the ultimate date night.

Looking forward to some quality time with your sweetie? Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic evening of food and bubbly at a great city restaurant, or a bonfire on the beach with a sparkling fruit sangria, there are several great ways you can ring in the New Year with your love. Check out PopSugar for a great list of fun and sexy date ideas.

The post 5 Fun, Alternative Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Raf Simons and Calvin Klein Part Ways

Calvin Klein Inc. and Raf Simons said Friday night that Simons is leaving his post as chief creative officer.
Both parties have amicably decided to part ways after Klein decided on a new brand direction which differs from Simons’ creative vision.
Calvin Klein will not show during New York Fashion Week in February.
The news confirms WWD reports of growing tension between Calvin Klein executives and Simons.
According to sources, the company decided in September to reduce some of Simons’ responsibilities and wanted him to agree to a new contract with fewer responsibilities. Sources said Klein decided certain areas of the business such as store design, visual merchandising, e-commerce, public relations and communications, and corporate social responsibility would report to Marie Gulin-Merle, chief marketing officer, rather than Simons, who had been given total responsibility for all creative areas when he joined in August 2016.
In late November, Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., parent company of Calvin Klein, said in rather blunt terms on the company’s earnings call that the reimagined Calvin Klein — under Simons’ direction — is not working. He said the collection, renamed 205W39NYC, needed to become more commercial and that investments in the collection and advertising would be

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10 Ways to Find Your Personal Style

Websites including The Gentleman’s Gazette possess an encyclopedic amount of content on how to dress well, while thousands of images of iGents, dandies and influencers dance across Instagram feeds every day. Faced with all the content online, how do you know what suits you?

Those who are new to the game of classic men’s style can quickly become overwhelmed when trying to determine what they might like to wear. Even men who have been into classic style for years can fall into a rut. So, how do you go about discovering your personal style in the face of all the advice and information out there? Here are our top 10 tips.

Spezzato Suit Jacket and Matching Vest with Contrasting Yellow Pants and Brown Oxfords

Not everybody likes the idea of yellow pants, but they perfectly suit Sven Raphael Schneider’s style

1. Put Your Style into Words

If you’re reading this article, it’s established that you like to dress in a certain way, so you already have some sense of what you like and don’t like. Take out your favorite fountain pen and try writing it on paper (or just use your computer). Describe your style in a sentence or even a few words:

  • How would you describe your ideal look? It might be “vintage academic” or “Italian sprezzatura,” but it could also be “put together” or “preppy.”
  • What do you enjoy wearing? Do you do vests? Do you like bombers and safari jackets or prefer a regatta blazer?
  • What are your strongest likes and dislikes?
  • Who are your style icons? What do you like about their look?
Fountain pen paper and a Lamy Safari fountain pen

Engage in a writing exercise to define your style

2. Gather Inspiring Images

To help you describe your style, you can save images of styles, outfits, and pieces that you like. Pinterest is one of the largest social media sites in the world, behind only Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and is the easiest way to do thisLinkedIn and is the easiest way to do this. Classic style boards on Pinterest

A set of Pinterest boards used to collect classic menswear images. Although it has a reputation for photos of craft projects and recipes, it is an easy way to capture and store images that you like related to classic men’s style.

If you have the Pinterest app on your phone, you can grab any image from any site and put it in your digital scrapbook or board. Looking at your pins will then not only help you remember clothes you want to buy but, viewed collectively, will give you a holistic sense of what your style is like. Of course, as you gather images, you may do so from other people’s Pinterest boards, which brings us to item 3.

3. Find Style Role Models (Plural) to Follow

As you go through social media, you’ll encounter numerous well-dressed gents whether on the number one source of online style inspiration–Instagram–on Tumblr microblogs or Pinterest boards. It’s important to realize though that even though you may like the personal style of someone with 15,000 Instagram followers, what he wears may not necessarily work on you.

The Style Icon - Cary Grant in Berlin in 1960

The Style Icon – Cary Grant in Berlin in 1960

The same goes for well-dressed men outside of social media whether Cary Grant to David Beckham or Idris Elba. You may be older or younger and have a different body type or skin tone, to name just a few things that can influence what looks best on a specific individual. However, with so many people posting to social media, odds are you will find somebody on Instagram with a body type or general appearance similar to yours.

Style icons Samuel Jackson, Andreas Weinås, and Alan See

Style icons Samuel Jackson, Andreas Weinås, and Alan See

Everyone’s style is really an amalgam of their influences, from family members to friends to celebrities and random strangers online. Along the same lines, the best approach with style icons is to take note of specific things you like from different people. It’s important not to imitate just one person because you risk coming across as a mere copy.

If you wear your watch over your sleeve cuffs, it’s obvious you are just copying Agnelli. You can admire the way Sven Raphael Schneider wears accessories like cufflinks, boutonnieres and pocket squares while also liking the contemporary urban edge of Dan Trepanier. You can love how Mark Cho effortlessly combines colors but realize the fuller cuts of his jackets is not for you. Pick and choose from the smorgasbord of influences with the understanding that you don’t need to be loyal to any one style guru.

Gianni Agnelli and his Patek Philippe 1415 HU, or Universal Time

Gianni Agnelli’s characteristic sprezzatura style is difficult to copy

4. Be True to Yourself

Even when you follow multiple influences, aim to be authentic. Do what’s true to you, not what’s popular. There are popular sprezzatura style choices seen everywhere online like keeping your button-down shirt collar unbuttoned or wearing the back blade of your necktie longer than the front and below your waistline. These are trendy, fashionable approaches that are more about uniformity than originality.

Color, texture and hats at Pitti Uomo 88 - photo by Pitti Uomo

Beware imitating what’s popular online, such as the Pitti Peacocks

It can be tempting to buy tight suits, wear a suit jacket with sweatpants, or have your pants hemmed above your ankles because “everyone” is doing it in Suitsupply ads or photos from Pitti Uomo (and getting 2000 “likes”).

Sven Raphael Schneider in Three Piece Suit with double breasted waistcoat

Sven Raphael Schneider only wears pleated pants, because they are his style, not because they are popular (which they aren’t!)

Unless this really makes you happy and is how you see your personal style, be cautious of following the crowd. The key is to be comfortable–both physically in the clothes you choose and the way you look. Dress for yourself, not for others.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

To get to your personal style, there’s really no substitute for hands-on experimentation. If you see someone who wears an olive green linen jacket, you may want to try it yourself.

Green linen and gingham

Linus Norbom wearing a green linen jacket with a green and white gingham shirt and white pants

You can look at pictures all you want, but you won’t know whether you like pleated pants until you put them on. Though in theory, your rounded face shape would look better with a point collar shirt, you won’t know for sure until you wear one and compare it with a spread collar.

Collars formality scale

Try different collars in different formalities to see what suits you

I tried point collars, cutaways, spreads, long points and button downs for shirt collars before settling on which I liked best. The first few years of my interest in menswear, I bought almost the full range of colors in sport coats, but since then I’ve boiled my favorites down to blues, browns, and beiges.

Spezzato with vest and pants

Try experimenting, such as wearing wristbands or splitting up a suit

If possible, you can try things in boutiques and stores to see how you look at them. Alternatively, for pieces you aren’t too sure of, you can buy thrift or used. Yes, you will make mistakes and buy something experimental that you won’t like, but that’s what return policies are for.

If it takes you longer to figure out something is not for you, there’s always reseller markets like eBay or Grailed. Even if you sell at a loss, try not to look at it as wasted money. Instead, think of the journey as part of the reward. It’s like ordering a new kind of sushi or visiting a city you’ve never been to before. You’re in it for the experience, and there should be no regrets. It’s all part of the learning process.

6. Understand Your Physical Characteristics

One the reason we’re not into trends is that they rarely suit everyone. The skinny fit of suits today, for example, only works well for certain body types. If you want to capture your “own” style, it’s better to work with what you have rather than trying to conform to trends. Start by considering your body – your physique, your age, and your skin tone, for instance.

If you have pale skin, a dark navy shirt will wash you out. If you have brown skin, you can pull off more vibrant or hotter colors. If you’re over fifty, maybe slim fit trousers and a loafer without socks wouldn’t look best on you.

Grimod in Sky blue linen suit

Great style is possible at any age; here, Herbert Stricker in sky blue linen suit

A mistake is trying to impose a style on yourself that doesn’t work for you just because you saw someone else do it online. The desire to wear anything you want is strong but not always possible. It’s a sign of stylistic maturity to realize that just because you admire how someone wore an item, it doesn’t mean you can or should wear it yourself.

7. Understand Your Environment

As you form your style, realize that it will be influenced by where you are situated. The way men dress on the internet often has very little to do with real life. What someone wears at Pitti Uomo or to sell a product is designed first to get attention in a medium full of so many competing images. Something may be photographed such a way to make it desirable, but ask yourself whether your personal environment would suit the style.

David Evans in Denim and brown country sport coat with sweater

David Evans showing a country style

If you live in Manhattan, you may be able to wear suits most of the time if you want to, but if you’re in rural Kentucky, this stylistic choice will make you stick out like a sore thumb. If you’re in Italy, you can wear bright, fitted jackets that are at home there, but in London, they’ll look out of place. Realistically, part of your personal style–what you wear–is dictated by your environment.

Cri De La Soie Silk Knit ties by Fort Belvedere

Knit ties might be part of your signature look

This can be as basic as not wearing an elaborate pocket square because you are dressing for a conservative workplace or wearing sports coats and knit ties instead of suits and printed silk ties because you are never in a formal setting.

This may seem like it’s forcing you to compromise, but unless you want to march entirely to the beat of your own drum, you will have to fit your style to your milieu. Even within these limitations, you’ll still have a lot of possibilities.

8. Realize That You Can Have Multiple Styles

Kids may also ruin your hair but they will have a blast

Many people are surprised to find that Sven Raphael Schneider’s summer uniform is a polo with shorts and boat shoes

A further consolation is that you’re never really bound to a single authoritative “look”; the reality is that you’ll have multiple styles, and it would be rigid to assume that you need to wear the same sort of thing no matter where you go.

Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson

You don’t need to wear a suit on every occasion like Barney Stinson

You can wear suits for work but sport coats without ties on the weekend. You don’t need to be Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother and suit up all the time.

Ralph Lauren's Country Lifestyle

Ralph Lauren’s Country Lifestyle

When you visit the countryside, you might wear sweaters and tattersall shirts with a Barbour jacket. When you’re taking a beach holiday, perhaps you’ll put on a linen shirt and espadrilles. You may still have certain common threads through all your looks–like always wearing a bit of blue–but odds are your style will really be multiple styles.

9. Assess Your Closet

Once you have accumulated a decent wardrobe, you can get to your core style by auditing and managing your wardrobe. If you have a social media presence or just for yourself, take a selfie when you wear something you think looks particularly good on you or that you get compliments on. When you have a bunch of photos, review them to see which pieces repeat the most often; these are the foundation of your personal style.

The Closet if Giancarlo Maresca

Take occasional stock of your closet contents

If we break it down, finding your style really comes in two major parts. The first is casting a wide net and trying a lot of things. The second is culling things you don’t ‘wear to get to a core wardrobe.

Culling

Besides looking at photos, look at your closet itself and get rid of things you haven’t worn for a long time, whether a certain number of months or a year max. If you don’t pick them, it’s a sign that they’re not your style. When you first start out, you’re enthusiastic and want to have more outfits, but eventually, you’ll reduce your choices and settle on a sort of uniform that represents you. For me, it’s sports coats and ties with interesting woven textures.

Spezzato with jeans

The author wearing two of his favorites: a sports coat and a textured tie

The more you try, the less you continue to experiment because you learn what does and doesn’t work for you and settle into “your style.” This can change depending on factors like age or weight, but for the most part, you engage in less trial and error.

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop adding to your wardrobe, though. If you find you like wearing navy wool trousers, you’ll soon want navy cotton pants, wool flannelpleated and flat front, high rise and medium rise.  The fact is if you’re serious about style, you’ll never want to stop working at it. The difference is that, after a time, you’ll buy from a more limited range of things because you know you look best in blue, that you prefer a spread collar shirt, and that you like an unlined tie.

Short Vintage Tie - excellent if you are a shorter man

You may prefer a spread collar shirt or a short tie

As your eye develops, you can know at a glance whether an item you see is suitable for you. You’ll be more discerning and purge things from your closet that you no longer wear because they don’t fit your core style.

Pharrell Williams Hat

Your signature items don’t need to be as showy as Pharrell Williams’ hat

What you’re left with will include signature pieces that define you. I don’t mean something like Karl Lagerfield’s sunglasses and stiff collars or Pharell Williams’ hat–these are more celebrity costume than classic style–but your signature look may be a penchant for pocket squares, odd vests (meaning not part of a matching suit) or colorful shoelaces. Think of it as your brand in terms of style–an aspect that is recognizably and consistently you.

Colorful shoelaces like these from Fort Belvedere can be a signature of your look

10. Know that it’s a Continuous Journey

Once you go down the rabbit-hole of traditional men’s style, you have a lifetime to enjoy the fruits of the hobby (obsession?), and even when you have a good sense of your style, things will not get stale.

If you relocate, change the sort of job you do, gain or lose weight or simply get older, your style will change in some way. When you reach a certain age, you may wear more comfortable or less showy clothes, probably of higher quality, but then again, you may always like a good Prince of Wales check.

Tight vs. Comfortable Suit Fits

Your taste in clothes may change over time from fitted to more comfortable.

Conclusion

A given is still that your style won’t (and shouldn’t) ever be static. I’ve shared some of the aspects of the journey you are likely to encounter but can tell you that there’s no substitute for experiencing it firsthand yourself. There will be errors and missteps, but this is part of the learning and the fun.

Have you already experienced some of the stages mentioned? What other advice do you have for finding your personal style? Share in the Comments section below.


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17 Ways to Save Money When You Live in a Big City (It’s Actually Possible!)

I know I don’t have to tell you this, city dwellers: Living in a big city is expensive.

I was slapped with that cold reality when I moved to Denver. After living in two relatively rural college towns, I was used to paying a rent I could almost afford; groceries that were, well, normally priced; and a night out with friends that never remotely creeped close to $ 50.

Then there were those times I visited New York City and San Francisco for long weekends… Don’t get me started.

Anyway, kudos for making it work — but I know it’s got to get difficult sometimes. That’s why we put together a list of ways to save money when you live in a big city.

1. Save Money on Any Debt You’ve Already Accumulated  

Moving in general is expensive, but moving to a big city and adjusting to that new cost of living is difficult.

If you accumulate any credit card debt in the process that’s still lingering, consider refinancing or consolidating it to find better interest rates.

A good resource is Fiona, a search engine for financial services, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.

Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Its platform can help you borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

2. Get $ 3 Pantry Essentials Delivered to Your Door

Groceries tend to be more expensive in big cities. Goods in New York City are 10% higher than average U.S. prices, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The task itself also tends to be more difficult, depending on how far away you live from the closest store.

A great way to save money is to order the essentials online — where prices are more likely to be the same nationwide.

With Brandless, you can stock up on all your grocery essentials for $ 3 each. Yup — everything’s $ 3. And you’ll get $ 5 off your order when you sign up with your email address.

Better yet, Brandless carries organic, gluten-free and vegan options. You could spend hours perusing the virtual aisles, but here are a few examples:

  • An 8-ounce jar of organic, 100% pure honey: $ 3
  • Organic aged white cheddar popcorn: Two for $ 3
  • Roasted and salted almonds: $ 3
  • Organic, fair-trade, light-roast ground coffee: $ 3

You can also stock up on Brandless cleaning supplies, household essentials and clean beauty supplies.

Shipping is free when you spend $ 39 or more.

3. Claim Cash Back on Drinks and Takeout Orders

Life tends to be a bit more stressful in the big city, and it’s important to take time to unwind. Whether you prefer to do that with alcohol or takeout, claim cash back.

Traditionally, Ibotta is known for its cash-back offers on groceries, but it’s also available for restaurants, bars and food-delivery services.

For example, we’ve seen deals for:

  • 10% cash back for new DoorDash users.
  • $ 5 back on two bottles of Stella Artois.
  • $ 2 back on a glass of Cupcake Wine.

Just download the app for free, then select “Find Offers.” When you claim your first cash-back offer, you’ll pocket a $ 10 bonus.

4. Ease the Pain of Those Higher Car Insurance Rates

The good news is big cities typically have public transit systems, so sometimes you can get away with selling your car and living that car-free life.

If you still need your car, though, you’ll probably face higher car insurance rates.

Here are three options to help alleviate the pain associated with those high costs:

  • First, find a pay-per-mile insurance policy. If you live in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia or Washington and drive less than 200 miles a week, consider getting insurance through MetroMile, a company that lets you pay for insurance by the mile. I you only drive 5,000 miles per year, you could save $ 500, according to MetroMile’s calculations. Find out if it could help you save by snagging a free quote.
  • If you still drive quite a bit, take a few minutes to compare rates from other providers. A service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work. Gabi says it finds an average savings of $ 720 per year for its customers.
  • Help offset big-city costs by renting your car out when you’re not using it. With the Getaround app, you can safely rent out your car to people in your community and neighborhood. The company insures your car for each trip, offers 24/7 roadside assistance and screens drivers for a safe driving record.

5. Count Your Many Steps and Turn ’Em Into Cash

Whether you walk to work or take public transit, you tend to spend more time on your feet in big cities.

Go ahead and reward your barking feet with the Achievement app.

Achievement connects to your phone’s health apps and runs in the background, so it works passively. Many users report being happily surprised when logging on and checking their progress.

Once you earn 10,000 points, you’ll score $ 10, which you can deposit directly into your bank account.

Pro tip: Achievement connects to more than 30 Android and iOS health-related apps, including MyFitnessPal and Garmin. The more apps you connect, the more earning opportunities.

6. Negotiate Your Monthly Bills (or Have This Bot Do It)

A great money-saving tactic when living in a big city is to negotiate your bills. Some may be more difficult to negotiate than others (you can even try negotiating your rent), but we suggest starting simply with a free negotiation tool.

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees.

After downloading the app, create an account and link your bank account and/or credit cards. Turn on the bill negotiation and outage protection features. Boom. TrueBill is already searching for potential refunds — it might get you a refund even when you didn’t know an outage occurred.

On average, Truebill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.

Signing up and using the service is free, though there are some paid premium services that are totally optional — but could totally be worth it.

7. Set up Your Big-City Budget

If money’s tighter than you’d like, it’s important to keep a budget.

Budgeting can be a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The first step is to find out how you’re doing now. Luckily, you can have a financial assistant right in your pocket to help you out.

The Empower app is a powerful budgeting tool that can help you figure out how you’re spending your money and develop a budgeting plan to keep you on track.

Link the app to your bank accounts, and it will track your spending. It will also categorize your spending so you can see exactly where you are overdoing it. That’s right: It will show you just how many times you went out for dinner because you didn’t want to do the dishes.

Set a monthly spending limit and the app will show you a graph that can tell you in one snapshot just how you’re doing for the month. Are you over the line or under it? It’s that simple to see how you’re doing so you can adjust your spending accordingly.

8. Declutter Your Space — and Earn Some Extra Cash

Affordable apartments tend to be small, so if you’re feeling a bit cluttered in your space, clean stuff out.

You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This easy-to-use app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.

If you’ve got old technology lingering (think: phones, CDs, DVDs or video games), download the Decluttr app, and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s completely free to use, you won’t pay listing or seller fees, payment is super fast and even shipping is free.

Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $ 5 for your trade-in order!

9. Entertain Yourself on Your Commute (and Win Cash)

While you’re swiping around on your phone and wasting time on your commute, go ahead and download the Lucky Day app

You could win up to $ 10,000 playing digital scratch-off tickets or even a whopping $ 100,000 in the daily lotto. You’ll also have a lot of chances to win gift cards to cool places like Amazon, Walmart, Dunkin and Target.

It’s all free to play, with no in-app purchases. The company has already awarded more than $ 3 million in prizes to winners since 2014.

Try to resist an embarrassing happy dance on the subway if you win money.

10. Create an In-Case-of-Emergency Fund Without Thinking

When you have to spend a lot of money just to get by day to day, the task of saving money will easily fall to the wayside.

Don’t let that happen. Digit allows you to save money without even noticing.

This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1% bonus every three months.

Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $ 4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.

If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward.

11. Dress up to Big-City Standards Without Credit Card Debt

There’s something about living in a big city where there’s more pressure to dress like, well, a real human. Fashion trends are actually timely, and you want to look professional when walking into your skyscraper of an office.

But just because you have pressure to look trendy doesn’t mean you have to rack up credit card debt.

Instead of shopping online at any ol’ retailer or signing up for a clothing subscription service, check out flash-sale site Rue La La first.

It offers top brands for up to 70% off. How? When retailers have excess product, Rue La La takes it and sells it at a hefty discount — but each sale is only available for a limited time.

Just sign up for free with your email address. (It’s an exclusive site — discounts are for members only.) Then search your favorite brands, or browse the boutiques to see what’s available.

12. Protect Your Abode and Belongings With Affordable Insurance

If you’re renting, you know some cities and states require renters insurance. It might seem like a pain at the time, but it can really save you in the long run.

For example, when my boyfriend lived in Denver, a hail storm hit and destroyed his complex’s roof, causing water to flood into his apartment. After his deductible, his renters insurance paid for him to move into a hotel near his workplace for about three months. If any of his items had been damaged, it would have covered those expenses, too.

If you don’t yet have renters insurance — or want to shop around for a better rate — start by getting a free quote. We recommend the online insurance company Lemonade, through which renters insurance starts at $ 5 a month.

Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a cause of your choice.

That also means Lemonade isn’t going to be super stingy about granting customers the claims they deserve — ’cause the money isn’t going into its pockets.

13. Find a Side Gig (Opportunities Abound)

Big cities are basically playgrounds for side gigs. If you’re struggling to make rent or are racking up credit card debt, consider increasing your income, even if only temporarily.

Here are some of our favorite side-gig options for folks in the big city:

  • It’s no secret big cities attract more tourists, and that’s good news for you. If you have a spare room, try earning some extra money by listing it on Airbnb. If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
  • If you’re looking for a flexible, independent way to earn money — and you love hanging out with dogs — Rover might be your perfect gig. The online network connects dog walkers and sitters to local dog owners through its 4.9-star-rated app, so you don’t have to staple flyers on every utility pole across town. Rover says sitters can earn as much as $ 1,000 a month.
  • Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people? Try driving with Lyft. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

14. Call it Quits With Your Expensive Cell Phone Provider

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier Twigby.

That’s what Zak Wilson did. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $ 180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $ 60 a month.

Plus, new customers get 25% off the first six months of service.

Pro tip: Big cities mean big Wi-Fi opportunities. Whenever you can, tap into free Wi-Fi to save on data.

15. Snag Cash Back — Even From Your Favorite Local Deli

Cash-back apps are great, but many of them don’t cater to your favorite local haunts — like that unsuspecting deli on your block or your favorite coffee pitstop on your way to work.

But don’t worry. We found an app that’ll reward you for keeping any receipt.

As seen on Shark Tank, CoinOut is a shopping rewards app. You’ll earn cash when you snap a photo of a receipt — any receipt, from any retailer, featuring any item. (Similar apps are a lot pickier.)

We put it to the test: A couple of Penny Hoarder staffers dug out receipts — a $ 5 Wendy’s order and a salad from a local sandwich shop. One collected 5 cents, the other 4 cents. The better condition your receipt is in, the more you’ll earn back, so resist crumpling it into a ball.

You can also earn cash back when you shop online with one click through the CoinOut app. Featured retailers include Walmart, Overstock and Warby Parker.

You can cash — ahem, coin — out once a week for an Amazon gift card or funnel the money right into your bank account or PayPal.

16. Don’t Let Laundry and Dry Cleaning Shrink Your Budget

Laundry’s a big expensive chore in big cities. And dry cleaning? Don’t even get us started…

You’ve probably already invested in that magical Febreze Fabric Refresher spray (if you haven’t, just trust us), but now it’s time to tackle the costs of dry cleaning.

For some fabrics, it’s totally necessary. But for others (even if the tag says dry-cleaning only), it’s not.

Dive into your guide to saving money on dry cleaning. It just might change your life (or at least your budget).

17. Find Fun (and Free!) Weekend Activities

All right. We’ve addressed all your big recurring bills, but you’ve got to have some fun, too. After all, you live in a city where there’s tons to do and explore.

Look into your neighborhood’s farmers market, check out free museum passes from your local library, take a hike (genuinely), plan a picnic or window-shop.

Get some inspiration from our list of free things to do in Orlando.

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff 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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8 Ways You Can Get to Retirement 10 Years Earlier Than You’ve Planned

Retirement. It seems like it’s forever away, doesn’t it? With all the bills and debt you’ve already accumulated, the idea of cashing in your chips and calling it a career could be an impossible dream.

But here’s the trick: Think like an entrepreneur, and start managing your life like it’s a successful business.

Try out these 8 tips that will help you do just that. You could even find yourself rocking retirement as soon as 10 years earlier than you would otherwise. Sweet, right?

1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt, So You Won’t Be Weighed Down

When you think about how much debt you have, you might feel a little anxious.

That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.

Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.

You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.

Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $ 12,000 in credit card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $ 12,000 in interest.

If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $ 14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.

So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.

2. Have a Sit-Down With Your Credit Score

Dana Sitar with partner Stefan Davis spend some time reviewing credit sesame both on their phone and on personal laptop. St Petersburg, Fla.

If you want to retire early, your credit score is going to be a valuable tool. With a good credit score comes lower interest rates on loans, which means less money out of your pocket.

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.

To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.

Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?

Your credit report will give you this information.

You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.

3. Hope for the Best, but Plan for the Worst

A family tragedy can do more than just break hearts. Losing someone in your life can come with a large emotional, and even financial, burden.

You’re setting plans to retire early. Don’t let a tragedy get in the way. Make sure that you and your loved ones have life insurance policies in place. They protect those left behind so they can continue to live out their dreams.

A company like Policygenius offers an easy way for anyone to compare and buy life insurance. The search engine allows you to compare policies and get instant quotes. Once you find the right fit, you can apply right online.

If you’re young and mostly healthy, consider purchasing term life insurance online from Ethos. It partners with a major A-rated life insurance carrier to provide policies for a low price. For example, $ 30 a month could get your family $ 1 million of coverage.

It’s not fun to think about, but it’s a necessary step for your life plans.

4. Pad the Bottom Line With Passive Income

The housing market is booming in Florida, including in places like Palmetto, Fla

Passive income is awesome. It’s income that keeps rolling in without you having to do much on your end. Suh-weet.

One great way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $ 500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.

Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (i.e. rent).

(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

5. Bring Your Operating Costs Down

If you’re treating your life like a business, you need to keep your operating costs down, right? That means taking a hard look at your monthly bills and cutting unnecessary costs. Luckly, that’s easier to do now than ever.

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, TrueBill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.

And what about insurance on your wheels? For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?

Yes. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around car insurance,. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.

So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?

The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.

When you cut out excess spending on monthly bills, you can put more in your pocket and more toward retirement. It just got a little closer.

6. Invest Like a CEO, but With as Little as $ 5

Aileen with money.

You know that you should be investing, but how? “It takes money to make money” is what they always say. Well, if you want to start investing, it doesn’t take as much money as you’d think.

If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $ 10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.

The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $ 420 a year!

At that rate, you could set aside $ 1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.

The app is $ 1 a month for balances under $ 1 million, and you’ll get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up.

You’ll be able to watch your investments grow as you get closer and closer to retirement. It’s okay. Show off your portfolio to the gang at the water cooler.

7. Give Your 401(k) a Pep Talk

For many people, a 401(k) account is their primary tool for retirement savings. That’s great. But if you want to retire early, you need to make sure it’s doing all it can for you.

If you’re saving for your retirement with a 401(k), awesome.

But when’s the last time you truly checked in on your account, adjusted your allocations, addressed any fees and all that other fun stuff?

Try using a robo-adviser to make sure your 401(k) is on track with your retirement goals. Blooom is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

Your initial account checkup is free, and you can do it online in less than five minutes. This will help you get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many investment fees or if you have the appropriate amount of money invested in stocks versus bonds.

If you’re satisfied with the outcome of your initial checkup, great! If not, you can enroll in Blooom for $ 10 a month (Penny Hoarders get one month free). It’ll automatically adjust your 401(k) to best fit your needs all the way up to retirement.

8. Give Yourself Yearly Reviews

Now that you’ve made some smart moves to help put yourself in position to retire 10 years earlier than you otherwise could have, don’t just sit back and coast.

Like any good business, you need to review things at least once a year. Where can you cut back? Can you put a little more into your investments?

You’re the CEO of your life. Start acting like it, and watch the bottom line get bigger and better with time.

So… what will you do with an extra 10 years of free time?

Tyler Omoth 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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9 Ways to Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties From Your Retirement Accounts

Have you ever been in dire need of some cash but your bills are due and your bank account is low?

Then you look at your 401(k) sitting over there and think, “I could just take out a loan, problem solved.”

Wait. Before you get crazy with a loan that may not be in your best interest, you should know there are ways to get money out of retirement accounts without a loan or being subject to the 10% withdrawal penalty.

How to Get Money Out of Your Retirement Accounts Before 59 ½  

According to a TPH analysis of microdata from the Federal Reserve Board’s latest financial wellness survey, one in 10 Americans under the age of 60 borrowed money or withdrew early from one of their retirement accounts in the last year.

Once you put money into your 401(k) or IRA, if you try to access it before the age of 59 1/2 it’s typically through a 401(k) loan or paying a 10% penalty on the withdrawal in addition to any applicable taxes.  

While we advise having an emergency fund over resorting to retirement savings, sometimes life comes at you fast and you need that money. And if you’re using it for the right reasons, we think you shouldn’t be penalized for using money that’s yours to begin with.

So here are some of the ways you can get money out of those accounts without fees, penalties, or restrictive loan terms.

Contribution Withdrawals From a Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is your most flexible account in retirement because you don’t have to pay taxes on withdrawals, no matter how large your growth, and it’s the only account without required minimum distributions.  

Your Roth IRA also offers you the most flexible options when you need to pull money from retirement. You can withdraw contributions you’ve made at any time tax-free and without penalty.

This applies only to the contributions, not the earnings of your Roth IRA.

Disability Exemption

The legs of a man using a blind walking can make their way down an asphlt path.

If you become physically or mentally disabled and are unable to work, you can take distributions from any retirement account penalty-free.

Once a physician certifies that the physical or mental impairment is continuous and of long or indefinite duration, all retirement accounts become available as they would at 59 1/2 — which means even though there’s no penalty, you’re still subject to federal and state taxes.

Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to the lifetime maximum of $ 10,000 — $ 20,000 for couples — from an IRA (Roth or traditional) to buy or build a home. To qualify, you cannot have owned a home in the two years preceding the home purchase.

But because you can withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA penalty-free, those limits apply only to earnings.  

The caveat is that if the account is less than five years old and you decide to withdraw earnings, you will have to pay income taxes on those.

If you prefer to withdraw from a traditional IRA, your maximum is a straight $ 10,000. You will have to pay applicable taxes on it. If you have both and think you’ll need to dip into earnings for the withdrawal, the traditional IRA is the account to go with because it’s easier to grow the balance through 401(k) rollovers.

Health Insurance Costs

If you lose your job and collect unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you can use your IRA to pay for health insurance for you, your spouse and your dependents.

Since you can use Roth IRA contributions for any reason, this is more notable for a traditional IRA.

Big Medical Expenses

Medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance can qualify for a penalty waiver. Those expenses would need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income if you’re withdrawing from an IRA and 7.5% to withdraw from a 401(k). The distribution can be used for you, your spouse or your dependents.

The distribution has to be made in the same year that the medical expense is incurred, which could be difficult if you have an accident taking down the Christmas lights on Dec. 31 — another reason to leave them up until January.

If that all sounds intimidating and vague, that’s because it is. You’ll definitely need to consult a certified public accountant and your plan provider if you decide to go this route.

A better option is contributing to a health savings account (HSA) if you have one available to you. For medical expenses, an HSA is more flexible, easier to access and more tax advantaged than any other retirement account.

Military Service

Qualified reservists can take distributions from an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) during an active duty of more than 179 days.

This includes all Reserve and National Guard members. While other distributions put you at a loss, qualified reservist distributions (QRDs) are allowed to be paid back in full for up to two years after your active duty ends, even if those extra contributions exceed the annual limit.

College Costs

A woman in a graduation robe counts money.

If you, your spouse, child or grandchild are pursuing higher education, it can be paid for from your IRA without penalty. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies and — if enrolled at least half time — room and board.

While this is only a benefit of an IRA, you can also rollover a 401(k) into a traditional IRA to pay for college. But understand that withdrawals for college costs can reduce your or your student’s eligibility for financial aid.

And if you’re thinking about using your retirement account to save for college, stop right there! 529 plans were designed for just that.

Change of Employment

If you leave your job in the year you turn 55 — or any time after — you can withdraw from your 401(k). If you anticipate retiring around this age and have any old 401(k)s lying around, this would be a good reason to roll it over to your current 401(k) instead of a traditional IRA.

Bonus: If you’re a government employee with a 457(b), you can access those retirement savings penalty-free whenever you leave your job, no matter your age.

Annual Distributions

If you’re trying to retire earlier than 55, you can agree to withdraw a specific amount every year called substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs.) You’ll basically need to agree to take consistent withdrawals, based on IRS calculations, each year for the rest of your life.

The calculations are a bit confusing, so this is another one you’ll need to consult a financial adviser for. They can also tell you if SEPPs are your best option for early retirement or if there’s something more flexible that still gets you around the 10% penalty.

In conclusion, every time you take money out of a retirement account, you lose out on the compounding interest that money could have earned you. None of these should be go-to methods for getting extra money but they are available if you need them

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She maxes out her Roth IRA and gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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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9 Ways to Spend Thanksgiving Alone

As a busy, single, professional, the “singles’ table” may come with all kinds of connotations. You’re no longer defined by your professional title, but your relationship status. With all of your accomplishments and talents, everyone is the same at the singles’ table.

This year, it may be time for something new. But, no need to run away to an exotic island vacation to escape. Maybe you just want to see how it is to spend Thanksgiving alone–something you have never done before.

If you decide to spend the day alone at home for other reasons, please do not stress. Do not feel the need to defend why you want to spend Thanksgiving alone. Pick at least one thing from the list below to make your Thanksgiving Day the way you want to make it, on your own terms, while remaining ever grateful and thankful for your blessings.

  1. Movies, movies, movies–something funny and lighthearted usually does the trick.  Want to binge on something smart? Check out BE’s TechConnext On-Demand videos with leaders from Slack, Facebook, Ryan Leslie, and more.
  2. Indulge in one of your favorite high calorie treats–you have permission today.
  3. Start a project, list your goals in a journal, write that book, sort through mail. It will make you feel productive.
  4. Stay off of the Internet. Do not go online to Facebook or any other social networking site. Remember, this is about your solitude today, it’s not about making yourself feel bad.
  5. Get a pile of books together that you have been meaning to read or finish.This is supposed to be relaxing, so please, put away the GMAT books.
  6. If you have neighbors, offer to babysit their dogs or walk them on Thanksgiving. However, you must like dogs; you don’t want to get rid of one stress for another.
  7. Indulge yourself  with your favorite drink or an afternoon nap.
  8. Do a “thankful” ritual for what makes you feel grateful. You may light a candle, burn incense, or whatever you like.
  9. Go to Boston Market or order from your favorite restaurant. If that’s too much trouble, buy a box of macaroni and cheese. A bowl of macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.

Spending Thanksgiving alone can hurt if it is out of your control, and you really want to be with someone. So, celebrate on your own terms. To give love to others during the holidays, you need to have some in your own life.

Parts of this article appeared on www.balleralert.com and www.alphanista.com by the author. This article originally published November 23, 2016. 

 

 

 

The post 9 Ways to Spend Thanksgiving Alone appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Your New Baby Will Cost More Than You Imagined. Here are 5 Ways to Save

The parenting books tell when you can expect your baby to reach physical milestones. The parenting classes teach you the proper way to bathe an infant and change a diaper.

But new parents, who are projected to spend an average of $ 233,610 from birth through age 17, are often clueless and unprepared when it comes to how to manage their financial lives after having a baby.

Laura Adams, host of the “Money Girl” podcast, sat down with Andrea Woroch, an expert on how consumers can save money, to discuss common money mistakes new parents make. Woroch also draws advice from her experience as a mom to a 2-year-old, with another baby on the way.

5 Financial Mistakes New Parents Make

“Having a baby is certainly a joyous time, but it can also be an emotionally and financially stressful time,” Adams says.

If you’re planning a family, learn from these new-parent money blunders so you’ll start your family off on a better footing.

Mistake No. 1: Not Building Savings

Having a baby comes with a lot of responsibility — and a lot of new expenses. It’s important to build up a savings buffer.

You may lose out on earning income if you or your partner takes time away from work after the baby arrives. On top of that, there are additional costs each month, like higher health insurance premiums and all the unexpected things that crop up, like ordering takeout on those days when you’re just too exhausted to cook.

When you plan to have kids, it’s smart to stash money in a high-yield online savings account. Also look into ways to cut costs, like lowering your monthly grocery bill.

Mistake No. 2: Not Preparing for Child Care Costs

Child care tends to be one of the most expensive recurring costs parents face in the first few years. However, a recent survey conducted by The Penny Hoarder showed about 85% of parents surveyed did not save up for child care costs before having a baby.

Doing research ahead of time can help parents know what to expect. There are also ways to cut costs, like finding more affordable care options or trading free babysitting with friends who have kids.

Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Life Insurance

Celebrating a new life isn’t usually the time when you think about end-of-life preparations. But buying life insurance is a smart money move when you have a little one who depends on you.

It’s good to have coverage for at least six to eight times your annual salary, but you should have life insurance even if you’re currently a stay-at-home parent.

Mistake No 4: Overspending on Baby Gear

It’s tempting to buy all those cute little baby clothes, snuggly toys and that vibrating rocker everyone swears you’re going to need, but infants can get by without all the extras.

Save money by clearly defining your needs and wants. Utilize hand-me-downs and buy gently used gear instead of paying top dollar for new stuff your kid will outgrow in a matter of months.

Mistake No. 5: Not Saving for College Early Enough

The magic of compound interest lies in saving early. It might seem odd to save for college when your little one’s still in diapers, but it’s the best way to optimize your college savings.

A 529 college savings plan is a great vehicle to get funds together for your child’s future education. You can even ask friends and family to contribute in lieu of birthday or holiday gifts.

Listen to the podcast for more advice on handling finances as a new parent.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is the mother of a 4-year-old and has made nearly ALL the money mistakes as a new parent.

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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3 Ways Rental Inspection Reports Can Protect Landlords

As a landlord, it’s essential that you perform rental
inspections and record everything in a Residential Inspection Report when a
tenant moves in or out. Rental inspections ensure that you and your tenant are
aware of every aspect of the rental property’s condition at the beginning and
end of a lease.

Since an inspection report documents any and all issues
related to the property, expectations are set for your tenant on what condition
you expect them to keep the property in, and it also gives you a chance to
address any last-minute problems or repairs with the property before your
tenant settles in.

In this post, we explore three ways that having a detailed Rental Inspection Report can help protect you as a landlord.

1. Records the Condition of the Property Before the Tenant Moves in

Before the tenant moves in, you should perform a
walk-through of the property together. This will give you and your tenant a
chance to make sure the property is ready for them to move into.

By recording the condition of the property before the tenant
moves in, you can help prevent disputes about damage that existed before your
tenant lived there, and what damages were caused by your tenant.

Some examples of existing damage that you could record in
the inspection report are:

  • Chipped paint, marks, holes, or scratches on
    walls or floors
  • Torn or stained carpet
  • Damage to fixtures, such as a cracked sink,
    toilet, or bathtub
  • Gouges or holes in doors or baseboards

In addition to writing a detailed description of the existing property damage in your Rental Inspection Report, you may also want to take pictures for your own reference.

2. Records the Condition of the Property Before the Tenant Moves out

When your tenant is ready to move out, you should refer to the
same Rental Inspection Report you used when your tenant moved in, as most
include a section for a move-out inspection.

The purpose of the move-out inspection is to compare any
damages that you find to what you recorded in your move-in inspection report to
see when the damages occurred. For example, if there are damages to the
property that weren’t recorded in the move-in inspection, they were likely
caused by the tenant during their rental period.

It’s important to note that regular wear and tear, such as
worn carpet, small holes in the walls from hanging pictures, or other minor
damage caused by regular use of the property is generally not considered something
that you can charge your tenant for.

Helps Prevent Disputes about Security Deposits

Keeping clear records of the condition of your property can
help prevent disputes over whether the security deposit should be returned to
the tenant or not.

For instance, if your tenant denies that they caused damage
to the property, you can show them the Rental Inspection Report that they
signed when they moved in to illustrate that you are simply comparing the
damage that was present when they moved in to the damage that exists now.

Keep in mind that each state has its own laws regarding when
and if a landlord can keep a tenant’s security deposit, so be sure to stay
up-to-date with your jurisdiction’s requirements.

Rental Inspection Report

It’s important to have a Rental Inspection report that
records the condition of your property before your tenant moves in, and when
they move out. Your Rental Inspection Report provides peace of mind for you and
your tenant, so you are both on the same page when it comes to the condition of
the rental.

The post 3 Ways Rental Inspection Reports Can Protect Landlords appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

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Jury delivers $25.5 million ‘statement’ to Aetna to change its ways

An Oklahoma jury has awarded $ 25.5 million to the family of a cancer patient denied coverage by Aetna, with jurors saying that the insurer acted “recklessly” and that the verdict was meant as a message for Aetna to change its ways.


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25 Ways Sessions and His DOJ Terrorized Communities of Color: Report

Civil rights leaders opposed Jeff Sessions’ appointment as U.S. Attorney General from the moment he was nominated by President Donald Trump last year for several glaring reasons. The former Alabama senator has a problematic history of using racist language, suppressing the votes of black and brown people, and has even praised the Ku Klux Klan. Yet, the announcement of his forced resignation on Wednesday is bittersweet. On one hand, Sessions can no longer use his power as Attorney General to oppress people of color. But, on the other hand, his abrupt removal further empowers Trump to potentially sabotage Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and reported collusion by the Trump campaign. Now that Sessions has been ousted, his acting replacement, Matthew Whitaker, who has voiced support to limit the investigation, will be in charge of the Department of Justice.

In a new scathing report, the Center of American Progress listed the policies and practices Sessions enacted to criminalize and terrorize communities of color during his short reign at the Justice Department. “After taking control of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), he pursued an aggressive and virulent policy agenda that sought to strip away every protection for people of color and other marginalized communities within the agency’s purview,” reads the report.

It goes on to list 25 ways Sessions and his DOJ hurt marginalized communities by assaulting civil rights, criminal justice, and immigration.

Civil Rights

  1. A fair and accurate U.S. census is essential for the equitable distribution of federal resources and full political representation. But as attorney general, Sessions sabotaged the 2020 census by helping Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross add a new question about immigration status. The Sessions DOJ attempted to justify this blatant effort to suppress census participation by citing its responsibility to protect against voter suppression in communities of color.
  1. Hate crimes and white nationalist extremism are a resurgent threat to communities of color. But instead of expanding resources to combat hate, Sessions asked Congress to eliminate the DOJ’s Community Relations Service, which is dedicated to addressing racial tensions and preventing hate crimes.
  1. Voter purges are a devious suppression tactic designed to keep people of color by the thousands from voting by targeting them for removal from lists of registered voters. Instead of defending American citizens’ fundamental right to vote, the Sessions DOJ urged the Supreme Court to greenlight harmful purges nationwide.
  1. Black transgender individuals face heightened levels of discrimination and a devastating 20 percent unemployment rate. But as attorney general, Sessions threatened to make matters worse by reversing Obama-era policies that sought to protect transgender workers from employment discrimination.
  1. While the national unemployment rate was less than 5 percent in 2017, it was more than 10 percent among Hispanics with disabilities and almost 14 percent among blacks with disabilities. Yet, in 2018, Sessions revoked critical employment protections for people with disabilities, finding that they were “unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”
  1. Hate speech is a pervasive problem on college campuses, one that undermines access to higher education for students of color. But Sessions exploited his position as attorney general to criticize and make light of universities that seek to create inclusive, hate-free learning environments.
  1. Transgender students of color face tremendous barriers to education. But under then-Attorney General Sessions, the DOJ rescinded federal protections for transgender students in K-12 schools, denying them the ability to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
  1. Affirmative action plays a critical role in expanding access to higher education for students of color and in closing stark racial disparities in degree attainment. But under Sessions’ leadership, the DOJ consistently sought to undermine race-conscious admissions policies.

Criminal Justice

  1. African Americans or black Americans are more than twice as likely as white Americans to be arrested for drug possession, despite using and dealing drugs at comparable rates. As attorney general, Sessions rejected the data and ordered prosecutors to pursue the harshest drug sentences possible—without regard to an individual’s role in a drug conspiracy. Sessions also ordered prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in certain nonviolent drug trafficking cases. Black Americans already face 19 percent longer sentences for the same crimes as whites and are far more likely to receive the death penalty. This DOJ policy will only exacerbate racial disparities.
  1. In his role as attorney general, Sessions pushed prosecutors to crack down on marijuana possession in states where it is legal and lobbied legislators to reverse federal protections for medical marijuana. According to a recent CAP/GBA Strategies survey, more than two-thirds—68 percent—of voters support marijuana legalization, including a majority of Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and the three largest racial and ethnic groups.
  1. Police are almost four times more likely to use force against black people than against white people. Again rejecting the data, then-Attorney General Sessions eliminated training and supervision requirements for law enforcement seeking to obtain surplus weapons and equipment from federal agencies.

Click here to read the rest of the report, titled 25 Ways Sessions and His Justice Department Criminalized and Terrorized Communities of Color.

The post 25 Ways Sessions and His DOJ Terrorized Communities of Color: Report appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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9 Ways to Use Poppies in Your Decor

While poppies are most common in November as a symbol of remembrance, poppies are also a gorgeous flower that makes a great addition your home decor all year long!

[See image gallery at canadianhometrends.com]

The post 9 Ways to Use Poppies in Your Decor appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Getting to Equal: Three Ways We Can All Fight for Gender Mainstreaming in the U.S.

The U.S. needs a feminist systems reboot.

Policy-making is never gender-neutral, and policies written without considering gendered impacts from the get-go aren’t just “gender-insensitive,” but often directly harmful to women. We can’t continue to play whack-a-mole with one elected official or one policy at a time. We need to reject the institutionalization of male privilege in all its forms. I believe we can fix inequality—but we must start swinging for the fences.

If equality is the goal, what will be the strategy?

Feminist sang, chanted and rallied for gender equality in New York City during a march to mark International Women’s Day in 2015 that was organized by UN Women. The organization’s gender mainstreaming framework has become a guiding light for nations across the world interested in advancing equality. (Ryan Brown for UN Women / Creative Commons)

We can accelerate progress by looking to other nations and the gender mainstreaming (GM) framework used by UN Women and nations around the world to address gender-based policy issues since its creation in the 1980’s.

Two U.S. agencies are already implementing this work, but only one of them operates within our borders: In its nascency at the National Weather Service (NWS), gender mainstreaming allows staff to see that hurricanes are not gender or race neutral, and that how they distribute communications in a disaster could make a life-or-death difference for women and girls. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, meanwhile, brings mainstreaming to the forefront in their implementation of its Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy.

The interventions the U.S. makes for gender equality abroad, which are compulsory when distributing aid money, are important—but we also need to take a long look in the mirror and get to work solving our own problems at home.

It won’t be perfect the first time, but we need need to start performing gender equity work in every government agency and in every institution. Equality is not achieved overnight, but policy is a constitutional commitment to provide actionable measures and allocate resources. (If this idea sounds intriguing, look to Gender-Sensitive Parliaments, Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming Academia or Climate Change Gender Action Plans to learn more on GM from experts in other countries.)

There are three things you can do to put wide-scale progress towards gender equality in motion.

#1: Speak up for a systems approach.

The GM framework at NWS was shaped by the efforts led by their global peers at the World Meterological Organization, which prioritizes gender equality. We have a lot to learn from the decades of GM implementation overseas—including the strategies that transformed Iceland into the 1 in the world for gender equality, including the employ of Gender Equality Officers within their government agencies.

One limitation of GM approaches elsewhere, however, is that much of the policy language only refers to gender as a binary (men/women), and are silent towards other gender identities and sexual orientations. Racial relations are also often poorly incorporated in GM frameworks.

GM needs an inclusive redefining, and we can do that within our borders in a way that fits our culture. While the global framework for GM may be missing language related to race and other forms of discrimination, this allows each nation to develop an approach that fits their own culture best. In order for GM to be effective within the U.S., feminists should ensure while pushing for its advancement that the needs of women of color, trans women and other women at the intersections are put first.

Ask your elected officials if they’ve heard of Gender Mainstreaming. Ask them how they review policies for impact by race and gender. Ask whether there are measurable outcomes.

#2: Consider CEDAW.

Nearly all members of the United Nations ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but the U.S. never did, and our elected officials still refuse to do so. CEDAW lays a roadmap to addressing many hot topics in the U.S.—including reproductive rights, maternity leave and affordable child care.

There is a growing groundswell of municipalities moving forward with resolutions for and ratifications of CEDAW. Help launch the next one or do all you can to push one in your community further forward. Join the grassroots movement of Cities for CEDAW and check out the resources for citizens, like these examples of tips for talking with your elected officials.

#3: Follow the funding.

As gendered inequities are better understood, we must allocate funding to implement programs that close those gaps. Our neighbors to the north are making progress on this: Earlier this year, Canada performed their first ever gender analysis of the federal budget and identified several key areas.

One of the key areas on which they are focusing has a parallel plague in the U.S.—sexual assault at universities. The data they collected provided the evidence policy-makers needed to justify funding; Status of Women Canada has now become a full federal department and was allocated $ 100 million. In addition, Statistics Canada has created a new Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics so the work moving forward can be data-driven and include other forms of discrimination like indigeneity and immigrant status.

Ask your elected officials where equality fits in their list of priorities. Ask what gender-disaggregated statistics they have available. Ask what percent of their funding goes towards programs for equality.

The trifecta of actions here would move us closer to a data-driven, systems approach to gender equity that would set us on the path to equality.

And aren’t we worth it?

Barbara Clabots is an interdisciplinary researcher working at the intersection of gender equality and the environment.

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The post Getting to Equal: Three Ways We Can All Fight for Gender Mainstreaming in the U.S. appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

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Clever ways to save money on traveling

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Sure, many of us have dreams of seeing the world. Who doesn’t? But we’re not made of money, and it seems as though our wings are yet to sprout; we need a way to see the world that won’t cost us a small fortune. Thankfully, there are clever ways to save money on traveling that will open up the doors of opportunity to so much more of the globe than we ever believed.

Think of the time

One of the biggest reasons vacation prices will rise is all thanks to those bundles of joy people like to drag around with them – or kids as they are usually called. If you want to go traveling but don’t want to pay a fortune for the privilege, then it’s best to avoid any kind of school break. Airlines and hotels love to ramp up the prices when they know families will be flooding abroad. Not only will you avoid any extra and unnecessary charges, but you’ll also get to enjoy a more peaceful vacation and still have the chance to soak up the beautiful weather in the out-of-season months.

Book at the right time

As well as heading abroad at the right time, it’s just as important to book your tickets when the time is right. Statistics have shown that booking your flights at the weekend could save you as much as 19% on the final fare. No one knows why, but many think it’s because travel agents are typically open in the week meaning they get plenty of business workers. These are usually the ones willing to pay the extra cost for a slice of luxury – or put it all on the company’s card instead. Either one works.

Go it alone

No, we don’t mean ditch your entire family and head of on a solo adventure. Although, that would be one way to avoid paying for the extra tickets. Using travel agents can be one way to book a vacation, but it might not always be the cheapest. Looking for your own flights through price comparison websites is one way to get the best deals on your airfare. Plus, a lot of times hotels will offer up the cheapest rooms if you call them directly or head to their website. Sometimes the extra work is all worth the effort.

Follow the locals

Of course, local residents won’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for everyday things. Watching where they all head to eat is a good start to saving money while traveling as you won’t be spending any extra tourist charges in popular restaurants. Have you thought about how you will get around once you are at your destination? Hiring a vehicle might give you a little more freedom, but public transport is usually the cheapest way to explore new lands. There could be deals on tickets, and you’ll save on any parking fees.

Don’t overdo the texts

How will anyone know if you’ve gone on vacation if you don’t flood their phone with texts and phone calls about your adventures? Although it might be tempting to call home at every opportunity, all those messages could soon add up to a whopping bill at the end. Rather than waste your money, take advantage of any free wifi dotted around and use an app to message instead. There are many free apps that mean you can send all the pictures and videos you like whenever you’re connected to the internet.

Jetting off on vacation doesn’t have to cost a bomb, and neither does enjoying your time while you’re there. Thankfully, these clever ways to save money on traveling will free up more budget for all those souvenirs, and maybe even the next adventure or two.

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Four Unconventional Ways to Build Your Network

unconventional ways to build your networkWe’ve talked about the best professional organizations to join, as well as other ways to make new friends and build a book of business — but today, let’s talk about unconventional ways to build your network. Do you have sports, hobbies, volunteering, and clubs that you’ve found to be great sources of networking? Today, Rebecca Berfanger is sharing some ideas of her own, but we’d love to hear from you — what are the unconventional ways to build your network that really work? Can something as unrelated to professional life — like, say, roller derby or CrossFit — ever be a great way to make new friends, meet clients, and hear about job prospects?

As a reporter, especially for legal publications, I felt like I was always networking — looking for the next story idea, talking to potential sources on the types of articles I often covered, often attending bar association events as a non-lawyer guest before I went to law school. Even if I was there to write about that event, I was always looking ahead to my next stories and who might be a helpful resource. As a law student and now as a lawyer, I’m still attending CLEs and bar association functions where the networking aspect is sometimes more valuable than the actual educational component.unconventional ways to network

But when I was off the clock, I was still networking, just in a different, much less obvious way by volunteering for different organizations, events, and even playing a league sport. For all of those opportunities, I was able to share my skills — writing, editing, marketing — and ultimately have stayed in touch with the people I shared a common interest outside of my professional world as much or even more than those I’ve met through the local bar associations, even though that wasn’t my intent when joining.

Unconventional Way to Build Your Network #1: Hobbies

It’s no secret that if you have a hobby, even if you’re not that good, it’s a good way to take your mind off of the junk in your life to spend time not thinking about work or personal issues or family feuds or whatever happens to be going on. A hobby should make you happy, and help you to ignore everything else for a while. So consider finding a local group that also does that hobby. If you’re into crafting, check out your local yarn or fabrics store for classes that are at your level and work with your schedule. Sign up for a drawing or photography class at a local art school. Seek out a meetup in your area for other subversive cross stitchers. Essentially by doing a search for your hobby and city will likely bring up a group or class to join. (Psst: check out some of our old Hobby Wednesday series here.)

Unconventional Way to Build Your Network #2: Sports

While golf is the obvious one for networking (here’s our previous advice on what to wear to a golf-related event for work!) — just about every professional association has a golf outing at some point during the year — other athletic activities have been coming up more often. Cycling and spinning classes have been taking off as a networking activity, as well as social sports for adults like softball, kickball, bowling, soccer, you name it. For the more hardcore athletes (or those looking to be more athletic), most cities have options for adults to sign up for crossfit, martial arts, and even roller derby. Some places even offer amateur women’s football, lacrosse, and rugby teams for post-collegiate women. While you will likely need to don some kind of uniform or buy equipment for some of these options, many of these have different levels of competition ranging from I-played-this-sport-in-college-and-almost-went-pro to when-do-we-get-to-have-that-after-game beverage. If you’re not sure if it’s right for you, consider asking to observe a team of if it’s a sport that involves spectators, you can ask if they have volunteering opportunities for game days and scrimmages. Check your local parks and recreation website, YMCA, or Google the sport and your city.

Unconventional Way to Network #3: Volunteering

What better way to meet like-minded people — especially if you’re not super athletic or don’t have time or funds to develop a new hobby — than volunteering for a cause that is near and dear to you? Most organizations are often seeking high-achieving women to add to their rosters. Whether it’s at the board level, or just being available to take tickets at fundraisers or hand out water at 5Ks, or even working remotely on a research project or helping design an organization’s website or social media, chances are there is a place for you to devote as little or as much time as you have. Volunteering is also a good opportunity through a professional organization because it shows your colleagues you care, even if it’s planting trees or helping to organize a food pantry. Your local United Way will have several opportunities if you don’t already know what organization to help. Later in the year is also a good time to volunteer for any holiday drives for gifts, clothes, hygiene products, and other necessary items.

(Psst: we’ve discussed how to do strategic volunteering to bolster your resume if you’re leaning out for family reasons, as well as how to get on a board and how to help charities.)

Unconventional Way to Network #4: Start your own group

Is there a group of people you’d like to get together based on specific interests and you just can’t find them, whether it’s a book club, movie club, theater club, indoor pot gardening, stargazing, beer or wine tasting, or some other interest you want to explore, start your own group. Depending on the size of your social media network you already have, you might be surprised by putting out a call-out via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, or just starting a private group on social media, how many of your friends might be interested in joining something new. Ideally if you can get a couple people you know to join, they’ll invite two friends, and they’ll invite two friends, and so on. Just try to keep it geared toward your other group members and maybe get their feedback in terms of days, times, locations, at least early on.

Of course, while all of these are meant to focus on your interests that may or may not be related to your professional work, if your purpose is networking, you’ll eventually need to talk to other people. However, you already have something in common going into it, which will hopefully put you at ease and should make the next steps easy. For instance, try to get to class or meetings a little early, plan to stay a little late to talk to the people in the group, if you know a little bit about the backgrounds of others try to talk to them in a genuine way, and if you’re starting your own thing, build in a space for introductions to make sure everyone feels welcome.

While it might not seem like you’re networking when you’re just there to knit, play a sport, support your favorite cause, or just talk about a book you just read, you’ll be at ease doing something you enjoy, and down the road a classmate might know of a friend of a friend with a job opening, or suggest a client who would be a good fit for you. You also shouldn’t discard the more traditional methods of networking, but hopefully these suggestions will help if you’re looking to meet people not necessarily in your usual network based on your education or profession.

Readers, what are your favorite unconventional ways to build your network? What hobbies, sports, or volunteering do you already do — and how do you find them to compare to professional organizations in terms of networking?

Further reading:

  • Master Your ‘Mingle-Ability’: 5 Creative Ways to Network [Entrepreneur]
  • What’s The Best Sport For Networking [The Headhunters]
  • A World Of Networking Possibilities Through Sports And Hobbies [Law Crossing]
  • Execs Have A New Attitude About Networking — And It’s Killing Famous Power-Lunching Spots And Golf Courses [Business Insider]
  • Opinion: In Praise Of Mediocrity [New York Times]

(Stock photo via Stencil.)

Can joining a roller derby league or a CrossFit gym be as effective for networking as a professional organization? You might be surprised... Lawyer and journalist Rebecca Berfanger took a look at FOUR unconventional ways to build your network -- super helpful for women lawyers, bankers, and more!

Corporette.com

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Mystery Shopping Scams Are Soaring in 2018 — Here Are 5 Ways to Spot One

It seems easy enough: You get a message through Facebook or LinkedIn. Or you receive a cashier’s check in the mail out of the blue from a mystery shopping company. It instructs you to shop at your local grocery store and email a representative with pictures and details about your experience.

Then you cash the check, keep some money for yourself and send the rest to the company.

The only problem: That cashier’s check is likely a fraud.

Mystery shopping can be a legitimate way to make some cash on the side. But scammers are using the brands associated with many of those opportunities to steal money from would-be shoppers.

The Penny Hoarder analyzed the 1,000 most recent complaints about mystery shopping scams filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). We obtained the data set through a Freedom of Information Act request that took five months to fulfill.

Unfortunately, according to our analysis, the problem appears to be getting worse — much worse.

The FTC logged 557 complaints about mystery shopping scams in its Consumer Sentinel Network database through the first three months of this year. That’s nearly 150 — or 37% — more than it received for the entirety of 2017.

Meanwhile, overall consumer complaints have fallen over the last two years, according to FTC spokesman Frank Dorman.

The increase in mystery shopping complaints could be due in part to state and local agencies reporting more complaints to the FTC or the public becoming more aware.

“There’s no way for us to know why complaints rise and fall,” Dorman said.

But with 2018 on track to log more than 2,200 complaints, it’s likely scammers are also casting a wider net.

In 2017, people reported losing $ 47,333 to mystery shopping scams, according to the FTC database. In the first quarter of 2018, the FTC received complaints about $ 468,897 paid to suspected con artists — a figure on track to easily break $ 1 million this year.

And these are probably low estimates, given that many cybercrimes go unreported.

How a Mystery Shopping Scam Works

One common mystery shopping scam involves “testing” a transfer service, such as Western Union, at a Walmart or other grocery store, according to the FTC. In this scenario, you’ll get a check in the mail and might even see money appear in your account.

Then, you send some of that money through one of those wire services. Or you might be asked to buy refillable gift cards and send the card to the scammer. Either way, the bank will eventually determine the check was fraudulent.

And the worst part is: You might be on the hook for the fraudulent check.

“Your bank may take several days to weeks to determine the check or money order you deposited into your account was counterfeit, even though the funds ‘arrive’ in your account after a day or two,” wrote U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokeswoman Andrea Avery in an email to The Penny Hoarder. “You, as the account holder, are responsible for money deposited [into] and withdrawn from your account, so you may be liable when the check ultimately fails to clear.”

Most mystery shopping complaints revolve around cashing fake checks, but the FTC also reminds consumers that they should never pay a subscription fee just for the opportunity to become a mystery shopper.

5 Signs of a Mystery Shopping Scam

If you think a mystery shopping gig is too good to be true, you’re probably right. These tips can help you spot a potential scam.

  1. First of all, any time someone asks you to wire them money after depositing a check, it’s going to be a scam.
  2. Have you ever contacted this company or representative in the past? If this is an unsolicited opportunity, your scam antenna should be at attention.
  3. Does the email, letter or message look like it was written by a 6-year-old? If it’s littered with misspellings or grammatical errors, it’s probably fake, according to several narratives in the FTC data set. (Although one could say the same thing about the first draft of this article written by a data reporter.)
  4. Look at the company logo included in the letter, memo or check the supposed company has sent you. Match it with what you find on the company’s official website. One FTC complainant noted that materials sent from a firm called American Consumer Eyes bore grocery store ShopRite’s logo, but it was black and white, and out of focus.
  5. And it’s worth repeating: If you pay for a “subscription” to become a mystery shopper, you’ll likely lose whatever you pay.

There’s no telling where these scams are coming from, but the most common city that popped up was located far from the U.S. —  in the Greek isles. Larnaca, Cyprus, a city of about 144,000 with a tourism-based economy, was included 17 times.

Again, the FTC couldn’t explain the prominence of this city in the database. Nor could it explain the names of individuals supposedly representing the companies.

Brian Anthony and Alex Baker were the most frequently used names in these mystery shopping scams.

Con artists tend to use trusted brand names, according to the FTC database. Walmart and Kroger were frequently featured in fraudulent materials.

The Penny Hoarder even came up once in the 1,000 entries in this database. In fact, a complaint from a reader prompted this entire investigation. We responded to the incident in April.

The mystery shopping scams included in the database targeted victims as young as 13 and older than 80. Although millennials were actually targeted more, it was clear the elderly were the most vulnerable. People older than 59 were scammed out of a combined $ 317,645.50 since the beginning of 2017.

New Mexico had the most per-resident complaints — more than double the second-most targeted state, Texas. Again, FTC and USPS representatives couldn’t say why this is the case.

How to Report a Mystery Shopping Scam

If you were contacted through the mail, the USPS recommends reporting the fraud through its website or by calling 877-876-2455 and saying “fraud” when prompted. The FTC also urges you to file a complaint with its office, as well as your state attorney general’s office.

If you live in a city with a large population of retirees, like where I am from in Sarasota County, Florida, your local police office might have its own cybercrime unit that can make sure you file the correct paperwork with the corresponding agency.

Compile as much information as you can with the materials you believe to be a scam. What was the name of the potentially fictional representative or company that contacted you? What was the return address on the material you received?

This will help whatever agency you contact root out scams like these in the future. In turn, this will give us more data for future investigations. Win-win!

Both the FTC and USPS continue to publish information on their websites and through YouTube, and they’re even pounding the pavement across the country raising awareness about these scams.

The top piece of advice from both agencies: Always be skeptical at first for the best chance of staving off a scam. If you send money, it’s probably too late.

“If you try to get a refund from the promoters, you will be out of luck,” Dorman said. “Either the business won’t return your phone calls, or if it does, it’s to try another pitch.”

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. His dream mystery shopping gig involves record stores and skate shops.

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

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

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Sam's Club Membership Offer

4 Ways to Get Followers and Create a Lasting Relationship

The internet is a crowded place—and it’s only becoming more crowded. There are currently around 3.03 billion social media users. The good news is, this means there are far more opportunities to connect with people and gain followers for your brand. But on the flip side, it also means there’s much more competition. If you want to stand out you’re going to have to try harder to get followers, connect with people, and make an authentic positive, lasting impression. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this.

Four Ways to Get Followers and Create Connections: 

 

Create Engaging Videos

YouTube is one of the internet’s biggest, most popular platforms. It currently has just over a billion users—that’s almost one-third of total Internet users—who watch more than 500 million hours of content every single day.

Creating videos for your audience to watch is far more personal than just uploading blog posts. It allows them to see many aspects of your personality that you just can’t express through words and helps to build trust.

Some users have built their entire business by creating unique and engaging YouTube videos. Bri Hall is one beauty, fashion, and lifestyle vlogger who has amassed over 600,000 followers and over 32 million unique views on her videos since she started producing content in 2013.

get followers

Bri Hall (YouTube)

 

On the other side of the scale, there are YouTubers like Roberto Blake who gained popularity discussing entrepreneurship with his audience on how to market themselves. His channel has amassed over 23 million views of his videos.

get followers

Roberto Blake (YouTube)

 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that no matter what kind of content you create, you’re likely to find an audience if your branding is on point.

Uploading Instagram Posts and Videos Regularly

If you’re not already leveraging Instagram to connect with your followers, you probably should be. The platform now has 200 million monthly active users. Engagement rates are 15 times higher than Facebook, and 20 times higher than Twitter.

Using hashtags is also a great way to build your audience and introduce more people to your content.

Uploading an Instagram post or taking a quick 15-second video is much less effort than creating an entire YouTube video or organizing a local meetup. If you’re running low on time, it’s something you can do every single day along with to keep your audience engaged.

Also, if your followers like your Instagram content, it’s likely they’ll like your other content too. This means you can leverage Instagram to promote your YouTube videos, local meetups, or webinars to your followers

Launch a Webinar

A webinar is a middle ground between creating videos and hosting a meetup. It’s effectively the best of both worlds—you can connect with your followers in real-time without being limited by geographical location.

Platforms like ClickMeeting enable you to run custom-branded webinars and engage with followers from all over the world. You can use it for virtually anything—from sharing your day, introducing new products, to hosting questions and answering videos.

The best part about webinars is you’ll get immediate feedback from your audience-direct data that will help you understand how to improve your service or what they would like to see from you.

Host Meetups in Your Local Area

This can be quite a difficult strategy to carry out, and it first requires building a substantial audience. If your followers are based in different areas around the world, it could be a while before you raise enough interest to make a local meetup worthwhile.

However, if you’re willing to travel, or if the majority of your followers are based locally it can be a great way to connect people and will take your relationship with your followers to the next level.

There is no better way to build a lasting connection than actually meeting and talking in person.

For Best Results, Try Everything

There are virtually unlimited ways to make connections with your followers. While this means you have lots of options available, it can also feel quite overwhelming at times.

Picking one or two of these methods and sticking to them will work over time, but to really stand out and reach the widest audience possible, try out multiple methods to find out which will yield the best results.

For the best results, try to combine all of these methods and after a while go with whichever one works best for your business model.

 

The post 4 Ways to Get Followers and Create a Lasting Relationship appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT UPDATE:

Women Supporting Other Women: 4 Simple Ways

At the United State of Women Summit earlier this year, Michelle Obama said, “So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up. It’d be nice to have a collective of black women who are opening up spaces for each other, or making strategic moves to raise the visibility of black women within the industry, and not just who’s on the cover of the magazine but behind the scenes too. I don’t think it’s solely white people’s job to do that. There needs to be more of a push from us to stand together.” I couldn’t agree more.  Whether you’re a CEO, engineer, scientist, chef, or teacher, you have the power to support and create spaces for women of color.

Supporting other women means you’re being intentional about how you show up in life and business. Showing up means you’re mentally present while listening and speaking up for yourself as well as others. Ready to take the lead? Try the tips below.

1. Bring another woman’s projects, products, services, or accomplishments into a discussion when they’re not in the room. Here are a few examples:

  • If you realize a woman wasn’t given proper credit for an idea that she shared during a meeting, speak up for her. For example, during an interview with Politico Magazine, Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, recalled an unspoken rule she and her female colleagues demonstrated during meetings. “When any man commented by repeating something that had been said earlier by a woman, one of the other women at the table would jump in. “I’m glad you agree with what _________just said,” or “That builds nicely on the point ______made just before.”
  • If you’re attending a high profile event like an awards show or conference, wear an outfit by an up and coming fashion brand or designer. The number of influencers and celebrities who speak about women’s empowerment, but fail to demonstrate their support for other women who are underestimated or underrepresented in an industry always amazes me. Simply put, talk less, act more, and lead by example.
  • If you’re in a meeting with someone who’s looking for a new team member, recommend another woman for a project by sharing her accomplishments or experiences.

2. Look beyond numbers. When looking to hire a speaker, business coach, or new employee, there’s still a lot of pressure to have a massive social media following. Unfortunately, follower count often equates to trust and traffic, but this misconception often leads to confusion and missed opportunity. Your number of followers don’t always equate to sales, engagement, or new customers. Instead of focusing on their number of followers on social media, assess their engagement. What’s the value they deliver to their audience? What are their perspectives on challenges and trends in the field?

3. Keep it real by sharing your setbacks, resources, and connections. Go beyond dolling out fluffy advice like “just do it, never give up, or believe in yourself.” Describe the sacrifices that helped you become successful. What are the names of the tools and resources that helped you succeed? As more women keep it real about how they worked through their challenges, it helps to uplift and equip other women with the resources they need to bridge the gender gap in leadership, business, etc.

4. Choose collaboration over competition. Regardless of your role, it starts with you. Bury your ego and insecurities about sharing the spotlight because the truth is we are stronger in numbers. Plus, no one wins in life or business solely by their own efforts.

In the workplace, you can promote an environment of collaboration by asking for another person’s viewpoints. In business, a successful leader recognizes the power of identifying the gaps in their skill set, operating in their zone of genius, and confidently hiring people who can close the gap.

The post Women Supporting Other Women: 4 Simple Ways appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT UPDATE:

5 ways to get over your jet lag

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Adjusting to a new time zone is never easy for your body, especially when you travel east. The difference in time zones causes a great deal of confusion in the biorhythm of your body, and this can further lead to fatigue, headache, and difficulty concentrating.

However, the good news is that you don’t have to suffer from jet lag for a long time. These tips below will help you.

Prepare in every way possible beforehand

It’s never a good idea to stay up the whole night and not get any sleep before a long flight. This only makes your jet lag worse. Instead, a smart move is to help your body adapt to the new time zone in advance. For instance, if you are traveling east, you can sleep a few hours earlier and wake up earlier than usual, and if you are heading west, try going to bed a few hours later than your usual sleeping time. This will help your body adapt easily once you are actually in your new time zone.

In addition, while booking your flight tickets, you should try to land during the afternoon or evening, rather than morning or at night, if possible. This way, it’s easier for you to stay up.

Avoid sleeping pills

You may be tempted to take some sleeping pills so that you can get a good rest, especially if your flight is during the night. Even though these pills may put you to sleep, the aftereffects can be quite unpleasant. After you land, you tend to feel extremely tired, and your jet lag will become worse.

Avoid coffee at all costs, but drink plenty of water

Make sure you do not consume any coffee or other caffeinated drinks such as energy drinks or Coca-cola. The caffeine content will have a negative influence on your body’s biorhythm and make it difficult to sleep. This further makes it harder for you to adjust to your new time zone once you land, worsening your jet lag. Instead, drink plenty of water to make sure your body is properly hydrated.

Make sure you eat as per your new time zone

It’s important to not skip any meal before and during your flight if you want to reduce the effects of jet lag. It is even a good idea to start having your meals as per the new time zone every day. For instance, having milk and cereal at 10 pm can help your body adjust better once you arrive.

Set your watch to the new time zone

Lastly, you can set your watch to your new time zone as soon as you sit on the plane. This will mentally prepare you for your arrival. However, make sure you do this only after entering the plane and not before. You don’t want to miss your flight!

Jet lag may be common and annoying, but you don’t have to let it spoil your traveling experience. Just follow these five useful tips, and your body will adjust to the new time zone in no time.

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The post 5 ways to get over your jet lag appeared first on Worldation.

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BEST DEAL UPDATE:

This Cashmere Wrap Is 50 Percent Off and Can Be Worn So Many Ways

Sweater weather is officially in full swing and if you’re like Us, then you’ve been stocking up on cozy knits. The perfect way to serve a stylishly snug look all season long, every fashionista should have a trendy design on standby. If you’re looking to upgrade your fall collection with a new piece, then you’ve come to the right place. Your pals at Shop With Us have spied a cashmere wrap that’s as sultry as it is comfy.

halogen ribbed cashmere
Nordstrom

See It: Check out the Halogen Ribbed Cashmere Wrap at Nordstrom for only $ 94.49 (originally $ 189) to make a polished statement.

The Halogen Ribbed Cashmere Wrap will bring your cozy chic style to life. Crafted with 100 percent cashmere, this garment will take your comfort level to new heights. Its mixed ribbed textures offer a super soft feel that you’re sure to love. Combining modern detailing with clean styling, this fabulous find will give your ensembles the perfect added touch.

Versatile in nature, this wool garment can be transformed in a variety of ways. Wear as a chic cardigan, style as a comfortable wrap, or even flaunt it as an infinity scarf to complement your wardrobe. Available in four hues, including beige oatmeal dark heather, black rock heather, grey soft heather and pink rosecloud heather, there is a shade to suit your taste.

Cruising the Nordstrom racks at $ 94.49, this design is a major steal. With cashmere pieces often retailing for well over $ 100, this budget-friendly option will be good for your closet and your wallet.

Halogen Ribbed Cashmere Wrap
Nordstrom

Ideal for keeping you warm in a chilly office or a stylish accent for your everyday looks, this piece is a fall must-have.

Its super soft build has made this wrap a fall essential with Nordstrom shoppers. Reviewers are in awe of its lightweight construction, while others appreciate its luxurious flair. Shoppers love its roomy design and appreciate how it can transition from day to night with ease. One shopper even shared that this knit is the perfect travel wrap to stay warm on cold planes.

Style this wrap with skinny jeans, a turtleneck and booties to seal the deal. You can even switch it up with trousers, mules, a blouse, midicoat and tote bag for the ultimate work-ready ensemble. Thinking of your next R&R session? Pair with leggings, a breezy tank and fluffy slippers to lounge in style.

See It: Grab the Halogen Ribbed Cashmere Wrap at Nordstrom for only $ 94.49 — down from $ 189 (at 50 percent off).

 

Check out more of our picks and deals here!

This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful. Product and service selection is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post. 

The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at ShopWithUs@usmagazine.com. Happy shopping!

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