Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something

The resurgence of Pokemon — thanks to a new movie and video game set for release soon  — has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old collection of trading cards.

And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune.

The 1997 Japanese anime-turned-trading-card-game-turned-video-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come.

For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte, 31, collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world.

“I’ve done 7-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings.

Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $ 1 million.

Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Pokemon Cards Worth Selling

The two biggest value factors to consider about old Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition.

In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur.

A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $ 100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth.

A graphic compares rare and common Pokemon cards
  1. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo.
  2. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the rarest and most sought-after cards.
  3. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but exclude the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance.
  4. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card.

The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The price it fetches depends on how well the card has been taken care of.

If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $ 100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA).

Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help determine a card’s worth.

According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $ 40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $ 1,000 and $ 24,000.

So why Pratte’s $ 100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $ 20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated.

“It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.”

In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering.

“There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia.

Especially so online.

Where to Sell Pokemon Cards

After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell.

“The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.”

The PSA’s grading system and authentication make selling online much easier. This process allays fears that the card is a fake and curbs arguments over its true condition. Each authenticated card comes in a protective case with the grade and barcode clearly visible at the top.

As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight.

“It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says.

Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare.

Pratte offers this caution about getting rich overnight: “Be realistic.”

“If you put in little or no effort back in the day,” he says, “you probably don’t have the homerun card.”

But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling.

After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles 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.

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Harrington Jacket Review Baracuta G9 – Is It Worth It?

Today, we discuss whether the Harrington jacket g9 from Baracuta is worth your money or not.

How The Harrington Jacket Came To Be

Basically, the origins are unclear because, on the one hand, you have John and Isaac Miller who founded the company Baracuta and claimed to have invented the Harrington jacket in 1937. The other English company Grenfell claims that they invented the Harrington jacket as early as 1931. Unfortunately, the records aren’t clear so we’ll never be able to prove who invented what.

Steve McQueen in navy Harrington Jacket
Steve McQueen in navy Harrington Jacket

That being said, Baracuta has been more associated with the Harrington jacket and their model number is the g9. Baracuta made their name with rainwear and John and Isaac Miller were avid golfers and that helped inspire the design and the qualities of the jacket because it’s often used on the golf course. Baracuta offers different jackets such as the g4 or the g10 and I guess in the g9, the G stands for golf.

Elvis Presley in a Harrington Jacket
Elvis Presley in a Harrington Jacket

As you can see, there’s a close relation between golfing and the Harrington jacket. For example, if you look at the angled flat pockets, they’re ideal to keep golf balls and the ribs at the hip allow you to freely swing. In the 1930s, golf was mainly a sport for the wealthy and as such, the Baracuta jacket which was worn in the golf courses became somewhat of a status symbol. By the 1950s, Ivy League students made the Baracuta g9 jacket a part of the preppy style.

Dean in an iconic publicity still from Rebel Without a Cause, wearing his signature red Harrington jacket.
Dean in an iconic publicity still from Rebel Without a Cause, wearing his signature red Harrington jacket.

In the 1950s and 60s, some of Hollywood icons wore the Baracuta g9 and some of the most memorable films of the decade. For example, in 1955, James Dean wore it in Rebel without a cause. In 1958, Elvis Presley wore it in King Creole and last but not least, in 1968, Steve McQueen wore the Baracuta g9 in the Thomas Crown Affair. He was also known as the king of cool and he even wore it on the cover of Life magazine. Because of that, Baracuta became synonymous with cool successful people. Now, Steve McQueen didn’t just wear the Baracuta g9 on the set but just like Frank Sinatra or Gregory Peck, he also wore it personally in his spare time. That really helped cement the status of a cool jacket for the Baracuta g9.

So how did they get the name, Harrington jacket? Actually, that was until 1964. It was a popular TV series by the name of Peyton Place and the actor Ryan O’Neal starred as Rodney Harrington wore it and because of that, it got the name Harrington jacket. There was a popular menswear retailer by the name of John Simmons and he really marketed that name Harrington jacket too. After the G9’s initial popularity in the 50s and 60s, the interest vanished a bit but it usually came back into popularity at least once a decade. Despite all that, the Baracuta G9 Harrington jacket remains one of the most timeless and stylish iconic jackets that you can have in a casual world.

Harrington Jacket Racing Green Baracuta
Harrington Jacket in Racing Green from Baracuta

What Makes The Baracuta G9 So Special?

So other than famous people wearing it, what exactly makes it so special?

It simply is a waist long jacket that is quite fitted and has a pleasing silhouette. It comes in many different materials but the classic is a cotton poly blend which is 50% cotton and 50% polyester. It’s meant to be water resistant and weather resistant and therefore, it’s not as soft to the touch as the inside which is 80% cotton and 20% polyester.

Baracuta sells the g9 jacket in a range of options including suede leather, regular leather, camouflage, and teddy bear fabric. Sometimes you can also find them in tweed but frankly, the classic jacket is always the poly-cotton blend. The classic g9 generally has a solid outside color even though you can find it with patterns and stuff like camouflage these days.

Baracuta G9 made in England
Baracuta G9 made in England

On the inside, you usually find a plaid or a tartan out of green, red, blue, and white which is also known as a Fraser tartan. It feels quite soft, breathable, and comfortable just like the cotton ribs on the end of the sleeves and the waist. When you walk, you can hear your arms rubbing a bit on the shell but it’s by no means as loud as the Canada Goose jacket.

The classic g9 version features angled side pockets with a flap and a button closure, the more modern interpretations have snap buttons. The size I’m wearing in the video is a 42 which is pretty much true to size. It really isn’t too big such like a Barbour Beaufort. I was positively surprised by the length of the sleeves in a size 42 which is much better than on all the Barbour waxed jackets we reviewed.

Just like the iconic Burberry trench coat or the Barbour waxed jackets, the Baracuta g9 features a Raglan sleeve because it is better to let the water roll off. The front zipper is a double metal zipper from YKK and it works quite well. I also like the fact of double zippers that you can always open them depending on how hot you are or close them to your desired position. It basically features a straight collar that can be flapped over if you want to for a different look. If you look at the back of the jacket, it has a very interesting yoke that was inspired by an umbrella and the idea is that water can roll up your jacket very conveniently without getting you wet. Ingeniously, they also added vent holes in there. That way, you don’t overheat very easily.

Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket
Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket

Modern Baracuta g9 jackets are made of a shell fabric called Coolmax which is supposed to be very breathable and also water repellent. Today, the jackets are made in England but that wasn’t always the case. There was a time it was outsourced to Asia and other countries but they brought it back to England for good measure. Looking at the seams, they all have a very high stitch density, they’re straight and sewn very close to the edge so the workmanship, overall, is very good.

Overall, the garment feels very well made even though the YKK zippers are not the best ones on the market. Baracuta also pays attention to details, for example, if you look at the buttons, you can see the engraving Baracuta g9 and 1937 which was the year it was designed. Now, it also has a shank which makes sense for the thickness of the fabric but the buttons are plastic and not horn. After all, it is a factory made garment but it is well made. You can tell by looking at the buttonholes, they were cut first and then sewn with a machine. Cheaper buttonholes are sewn first and then cut leaving you with more residual threads.

Is The Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket Worth It?

Well, it retails for $ 390 in the US and as I said before, I would stick with a classic cotton polyblend one simply because that’s the iconic jacket and it’s the least expensive one. While $ 390 are not a bargain for a casual jacket that you will mostly wear during spring or fall season, I still think there is a place for it in your wardrobe.

First of all, it comes in a really large range of colors but it also has a very pleasing slim modern cut, even though it was designed in 1937. Frankly, before I bought one, I didn’t anticipate liking it as much as I do now. Of course, the fact that James Dean and Steve McQueen wore it is certainly not detracting from it.

At the same time, I’m more focused on the materials themselves and I’m really pleased with the length of the sleeves which is often something I find challenging because I have above-average long arms. Personally, I’m also a big fan of the 1930s and having items that are originally from the time period or at least inspired by it are always a plus in my book.

Sven Raphael Schneider in green Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket with Chino
Sven Raphael Schneider in green Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket with Chino

On top of that, it’s very functional jacket; I can wear it when it’s raining outside when I need to pick up some groceries or drop off my daughter somewhere, Of course, you can also use it playing golf or you could even wear it shooting. Although, I think a waxed cotton jacket such as the Barbour jacket is better suited for that.

If you consider the price per wear and you just wear it ten times during the spring and ten times during the fall for just ten years, that breaks down to $ 1.95 per wear which I think is totally worth it.

Of course, you can also get the jackets used on places such as eBay but really understand what you’re buying and who you’re buying from and make sure you can return a jacket because there are lots of fakes on eBay, especially the ones sold from Eastern Europe, so buyer beware!

So in conclusion, I think the Baracuta g9 Harrington jacket is worth its money even at the retail price level for almost any man out there interested in classic men’s clothing and even more casual clothing because it is a more casual jacket.

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3 Modern “Blue Eyed Soul” Singers Worth Your Time

“Blue Eyed Soul” singers often receive a lot of flack because many believe they’re capitalizing on Black culture for profit.

Artists like Michael McDonald and Hall & Oates have been around for decades and despite being lauded for their music, it hasn’t stopped some from accusing them of cultural appropriation. This criticism has also affected today’s superstars like Justin Timberlake and Adele who each have created record-breaking albums that were heavily influenced by soul and R&B.

Darryl Hall, of Hall & Oates fame, even publicly denounced the term “Blue Eyed Soul”, telling Vh1, “It assumes I’m coming from the outside. There’s always been that thing in America, where if you’re a white guy and you’re singing or playing in a black idiom, it’s like: ‘Why is he doing that? Is he from the outside, looking in? Is he copying? What’s the point of it?’ C’mon, it’s music! It’s music.”

The topic is clearly complicated but sometimes you just have to give props where props are due. In this case, all of the people listed above have created great music that we believe honors Soul music in some shape or form. Because, we get, how can you not love, Soul & R&B? Also, I don’t want to live in a world without Bobby Caldwell‘s “What You Won’t Do For Love.”

The artists below are present-day singers who we think are holding it down for the Blue Eyed Soul genre.

Allen Stone

When you first look at Allen Stone, the last thing you may think is, “this man can probably sing his butt off” but let me tell you, he can. The soulful Washington native is heavily influenced by none other than Stevie Wonder and you can hear the influence in a lot of Stone’s songs.

Tom Misch

The best way to describe Tom Misch’s sound is Jazzy and Funky. Covered in live instrumentation, Misch makes music for you to bop around to. A perfect soundtrack for some Saturday morning cleaning.


You probably know Daley from his 2014 smash hit “Alone Together” with Marsha Ambrosius but years later Daley is still pushing out beautiful R&B music that deserves a lot more radio play.


Jordan Rakei

Kevin Garrett

Jamie Lidell

Mac Ayres

Yebba (She can sang) See for yourself below.

What do you think about think about white soul singers? Is it all music or do you think it’s a form of cultural appropriation? 

Photo Credit: Rui M. Leal /


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Barbour Waxed Cotton Jacket: Is It Worth It?

The Barbour waxed jacket is probably one of the most iconic pieces of men’s outerwear there is. With its casual appearance, its waxed cotton shell that is water resistant, it has become a staple in the English gentleman’s wardrobe. Barbour jackets don’t just represent the British country look but they are great for any kind of outdoorsman who wants to hunt, fish, or just not afraid of the elements.

Over the years, the brand of Barbour has become synonymous with waxed cotton jackets that many just call them Barbour jackets even though Barbour produces a range of jackets that are not waxed cotton. Because Barbour has such a huge range of outdoor jackets, we picked the most classic three waxed cotton jackets and compared them to one another; those are the Barbour Beaufort, the Barbour Bedale, and the Barbour Ashby.

John Barbour
John Barbour

Barbour’s History

The company was started in 1894 by a Scotsman, John Barber, in South Shields in England and back then, he was an importer of oilcloth. During World War II, Barbour produced the waterproof suits for the British submarine service. After the war, Barbour continued to produce and market its weatherproof garments, particularly to sportsmen. It took until 1974 until his Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, gave Barbour the first royal warrant. Basically, the Royal Warrant means that you can supply your goods to the monarch and his family. The Queen followed with a royal warrant in 1982, followed by Prince Charles in 1987.

In 1993, the Beaufort model was introduced which is probably the most well known waxed cotton jacket out of the three we have here. The company Barbour is still owned by the fifth-generation family of Barbour and interestingly, you cannot buy the jackets directly from them but just from distributors and stores. They even have a shop locator on the website and they have a very widespread dealer network so it’s very easy to find a Barbour jacket no matter where you are in the world.

Barbour Beaufort, Barbour Bedale, & Barbour Ashby


  • They’re all made out of a hundred percent cotton canvas that’s about six pounds heavy and it’s overall a medium weight. It is then treated with a silk oil wax that gives us it’s typical weatherproof characteristics.
  • It also provides this matte satin shiny finish that a lot of people like. Over the years, it will develop a patina that becomes very characteristic of the waxed cotton jacket.
  • All three jackets have the typical washed corduroy collar which gives it a typical country look. They all feature moleskin lined hand warmer pockets, raglan sleeves, as well as roomy bellowspockets the feature snap buttons which allows you to keep your collar together when it’s really rainy and the elements are hard on you.
Sven Raphael Wearing the Beaufort, Bedale, & Ashby
Sven Raphael wearing the Beaufort, Bedale, & Ashby
  • For all three of them, you can buy a snap-on hood for $ 49 or zip-in liner for $ 129.
  • They all feature a nice brass double zipper from YKK that is built to last.
  • All three jackets are suitable for damp, cooler, and moist climates such as England or Scotland. If you live in a very cold area, they’re probably best suited for spring or fall.
  • They say each Barbour waxed jacket is made of more than 10,000 stitches and obviously, I haven’t checked on that but overall, the construction of the jackets seems really well and made for durability.


  • The Barbour Beaufort retails for $ 399 versus the Bedale which is just $ 379 and the Ashby is again $ 399.
  • The Beaufort and the Bedale feature a full traditional classic cut that is straight in the hips, it’s very roomy, it allows you to layer something underneath such as a cardigan, maybe a sweater, or even a tweed jacket. The function definitely dictates the form so while it may not look very attractive or modern or fashionable, it is meant to give you a great range of movement when you hunt or pursue outdoor activities. The Ashby, on the other hand, is a lot trimmer. It’s basically a modernized style of the Bedale that is just slimmer with a slightly longer sleeve and it’s more targeted towards young men who will live more of a city life. The Ashby really doesn’t allow you to have a lot of layers underneath because the sleeves are too tight and so it’s best one with maybe a shirt or a thin sweater. When you wear different jackets, you can clearly tell that the Ashby has less range of movement.
  • While both the Beaufort and the Bedale come in 10 or 11 sizes in two inch increments such as 34 or 36, 42 or 44, the Ashby just comes in six sizes ranging from small, medium, large, extra large, XXL, and triple XL.
  • The Beaufort jacket is cut longer and about two and a half inches longer than both the Bedale or the Ashby. This extra length comes in handy, for example, if you want to wear a jacket underneath that would otherwise poke out. The Beaufort is the most useful jacket for hunters because it has a zippered game pocket in the back that’s quite roomy. Both the Ashby and the Bedale don’t have a pocket like that because they’re more targeted towards the urban outdoorsmen.
  • While the Beaufort has no vents in the back and a full Barbour tartan lining, both the Bedale and the Ashby have a half tartan lining with a polyester drip strip at the bottom and side vents that have snap buttons so they give you a little extra room especially if you have a big bum. The Barbour tartan is obviously a nod to the founder’s Scottish roots. Now for the Beaufort, that lining is made of a 100% cotton just like the shell. The Bedale, on the other hand, has 100% cotton shell but a cotton poly blend out of 78 percent cotton and to 22% Poly. They have a slightly different feel, the cotton poly blend may be a little more hard-wearing but I haven’t worn them out yet so it’s hard to tell. The Ashby is different yet again in the sense that it has 100% cotton outer shell and 100% cotton half lining but the sleeves are all lined in polyester versus the Beaufort and the Bedale; they have the same tartan lining in the sleeves.
  • The Beaufort jacket has wind guards on your sleeves which come in quite handy and they have a little velcro adjuster, however, they’re not really soft and don’t feel too great on your skin but they’ll do the job and keep the windout. The Bedale jacket has ripped knitted wind guards which are much more comfortable and better than the ones on the Beaufort. The Ashby, on the other hand, has no wind guards and again, it clearly is not made to be super functional, it’s more about the looks.
  • When it comes to inside pockets, the Bedale has one on the right, the Ashby has one on the left, and the Beaufort doesn’t have one at all.
  • If you look at those jackets, they look all very quintessentially British yet when you look at the made in label, there are some differences. While the Beaufort and the Bedale are still made in England, the more modern Ashby one is made in Moldova. I guess the Ashby is not just more modern in terms of the cut but also in terms of globalization.
Barbour brand logo
Barbour brand logo

Is A Barbour Waxed Jacket Worth It?

I think the Beaufort jacket is very iconic and truly something that you could wear for decades to come. One of the few downsides is maybe that a lot of other people have this jacket so you’re hardly unique when you wear it. Another con that I’ve found is that throughout the sizes, the sleeves are all rather short. Personally, I have rather long arms so it’s always a challenge because you either have to size up which gives you a much roomier jacket that probably is too big for you just to get the sleeve length right.

Because the Bedale has these ripped sleeve guards, it probably adds another one and a half centimeters or about half an inch in length on your sleeve which is one of the reasons I prefer that one the most out of the three. If you prefer a slimmer or trimmer look, the Ashby is your only option and if you want something really functional for hunters with a game pocket then get the Beaufort. I’m not a game hunter or shooter and because of that, the Bedale really serves my purposes best.

Who’s The Barbour Waxed Jacket Made For?

I’ve seen many men wearing it in an office context and personally, I find it’s a bit too casual for that and it’s best for outdoors activities maybe getting the groceries or hanging out with the kids on the weekends. Of course, you can also wear it for more hardcore outdoor activities that we covered earlier.

If you want a casual companion for your jeans, chinos, corduroys, sweaters, and cardigans, the Barbour waxed jacket is definitely worth it. Apart from that, there are also not many other companies to produce a lot of waxed jackets and not many of them have the same commitment to quality and durability as Barbour has.

Why do I say that? Well, Barbour jackets need quite a bit of maintenance. Barbour suggests that you have your jacket rewaxed every year. In my book, that’s a little much. I’ve seen many people who haven’t rewaxed for two or three years and the jackets are still fine. I guess it all comes down to how often you wear the jacket. You can either do it yourself or just send it to Barbour and have them do it. They also offer repair services for zippers and all kinds of things so they truly have a commitment for durability in their garments.

That being said, the jacket is a little more finicky, you can not just wash it in a washing machine, you’re also not supposed to use any detergent or solvents on it because that would damage the surface. I think it’s totally worth it especially if you consider the longevity and the cost per wear. It’s one of those jackets that’s really hard wearing and we unequivocally think that it’s worth its money.

Now with a little bit of luck, you may even find them on sale. Typically, I’ve seen they’re more on sale from smaller retailers that don’t carry the entire range of Barbour but maybe just a few jackets and if the Bedale or the Beaufort is one of them and they just have limited sizes or maybe they want to discontinue it, you may find it for 150 or 200 dollars. At that point, it’s a no-brainer and you should definitely go for it. That being said, because Barbour is so popular, there are also lots of fakes out there so beware of used Goods on eBay and so forth unless you can truly authenticate it’s the real deal.

Do you own a Barbour waxed jacket? What’s your take on it? Share your thoughts below!

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These 7 Steps Will Help You Negotiate Your Salary to Get What You’re Worth

After all the hard work you’ve put into designing your resume, crafting your cover letter and acing your job interview, you might be tempted to cash in on the first job offer a company gives you.

Most people do. Who could blame you?

But putting in a little extra time to negotiate a higher salary might be the easiest and quickest way to earn more money at your new job. Plus, hiring managers are often ready to negotiate. Are you?

What Are Salary Negotiations, and Why Are They Important?

Salary negotiations are one of the last steps in the hunt for a new job. They aren’t exactly synonymous with asking for a raise, though the two share a lot of similarities.

The key distinction is that negotiations for a higher salary happen sometime after your interview and before you sign the employment contract — not during a performance review for a current job.

Salary negotiations are crucial for a few key reasons. They show the company that you’re confident in your skills, that you’ve done your homework and that you’re not going to dart off to another better-paying position as soon as it’s available (because you’ll have the better-paying position).

Negotiations are also a time for you to think about your financial needs and to use the tight labor market to your advantage to score a higher starting salary.

“Unemployment rates are at all-time lows, and there’s a continued demand for skilled talent,” said Luke Stratmann, Baltimore Metro Market Manager of Robert Half, a 70-year-old S&P 500 career-consulting and staffing firm. “Professionals have the upper hand.”

The moment you say yes to a job, your sway over your benefits package and starting salary drops. If you don’t negotiate, you’ll have to wait six to 12 months to ask for a raise — money you could have been pocketing all along.

“Most employers expect — and even welcome — some back-and-forth on employment offers,” Stratmann said.

According to a 2019 survey by Robert Half, 70% of hiring managers are prepared for salary or benefit negotiations. The same survey shows that, within the last year, 45% of job seekers accepted the employer’s first offer without a peep.

Don’t be those people. It’s free money. Peep away.

How to Negotiate Salary

A woman shakes hands with a nan in an office setting.

Job interviews are nerve-racking as it is. When you add in salary negotiations, it’s enough to send most people into full-on panic mode.

Those anxieties could be enough to keep you from getting what you’re truly worth. Don’t let them.

Our step-by-step guide will help allay those initial fears and get you into the right frame of mind to not only ask for what you’re worth — but to emerge from those salary negotiations with a better offer.

Step 1: Research Salaries for Your Role

One of the best ways to calm yourself and to approach a salary negotiation with a level head is to do your homework about the company and your role. Don’t stress over manipulation tactics and strategies.

“If we go into a negotiation worrying about [that]… then we miss out on the most important feature of negotiation,” said Lisa Gates, cofounder of She Negotiates. “It’s a conversation. A human conversation.”

Gates, a leadership and negotiation coach for businesswomen and one of LinkedIn’s top 10 voices in the workplace, advises a good place to start is by searching what others in your position are earning. That could be by asking your colleagues (no, it’s not illegal, she said) or by looking up salary information on websites like Dice, Robert Half and Payscale.

With these tools you can establish what the national median income is for your position, what your local economy is paying and what your potential employer typically pays other people with the same title.

Consider where you’re located and where the company is located. For instance, if you are working in Nebraska, the local median income for copywriters is much lower than copywriter salaries in New York. But if you’re relocating to New York for the job, definitely use that salary range in negotiations. In that case, your salary history from Nebraska is irrelevant.

Likewise, this range is useful for establishing a fair salary for work-from-home jobs. Again, if you are a copywriter in Nebraska who is applying for a remote position in New York, you can negotiate a salary that’s in line with what New Yorkers earn, or at least you will have wiggle room to tap into national rates.

“Your salary should not be calibrated by your ZIP code,” Gates said. “It’s about the benefit you deliver to the company.”

Step 2: Know Your Work’s Worth

Once you’ve established a healthy salary range based on your research, you then have to plot yourself somewhere on that line.

“If you are a median performer… shoot for the median,” said Gates. “But chances are you’re amazing at what you do, and you want to shoot for a salary between median and high.”

When asking for above-average salaries, it needs to be a matter of showing rather than telling. If you believe you deserve the top of that range, then you’re going to need to fall back on something more substantial than “I believe I’m worth $ 70,000.” Because the obvious follow-up question to that statement is “Why?”

To be able to answer that question confidently and convincingly, “you need to make a list of all your contributions and accomplishments — and quantify them,” said Gates. “For example, if you are a customer service manager and you revamped your new-hire onboarding, what impact did that effort have on the bottom line?”

In terms of negotiation, your argument will be much stronger when it’s based on research and numbers rather than emotion. If you really do need that extra $ 5,000 for child care costs or relocation costs or rent, that’s OK to mention. Just don’t let that be your whole argument.

“Employers aren’t likely to respond well if job seekers are being unreasonable or pulling numbers out of thin air,” Stratmann said.

So show them exactly why you’re worth that extra five grand.

Step 3: Respond to the Initial Offer — Politely

This stage is ripe for fumbling.

You just got the job offer (congratulations!) and your emotions are running high — good or bad. It could be that the company offered you exactly what you wanted and you’re ecstatic. Or it could’ve lowballed you by about $ 10,000.

In either situation, it’s easy to respond on impulse. Check yourself first.

Take a deep breath and do not give your decision immediately, even if it’s a great offer. Likewise, it may not be the best time to negotiate especially if you’re a bit offended at that lowball.

“Responding graciously is the most important action to take when you first receive an offer,” said Loren Margolis, CEO and founder of Training & Leadership Success. “I recommend you state that you are grateful and excited, and then take a pause.”

Margolis is a career-training expert and a member of Forbes’ Coaching Council who’s worked with several Fortune 500 companies. She said that even if you know your answer or are ready to negotiate immediately, it’s good to ask for some time to think over the offer.

“If you negotiate on the spot, you run the risk of being influenced by emotion,” she said. “And you want to be logical and clear-headed when you talk money.”

The amount of time to ask the employer to think over the job offer could be anywhere from 24 hours to a week. Between 24 and 48 hours is typical, but employers may be in a pinch to fill the job quickly.

“You can also directly ask when the hiring manager would like to hear back,” Stratmann said.

That way you won’t be caught in a guessing game and will have a clear amount of time to review your salary research and prepare.

Step 4: Plan Your Counteroffer

A man wearing a tie examines papers.

At this point, you’ve done quite a bit of legwork on salary research. Now you need to pore over the details of your offer and establish what are known as a reservation point, a target salary and an anchor salary.

In salary negotiations, it’s important to stay within a realistic range that’s based on your research. And think back to your application. Did it ask, “What are your salary requirements?” If so, how did you respond?

If you answered “$ 40,000 to $ 50,000,” you have to work within that range.

For example, let’s say your initial job offer includes: $ 40,000 starting salary, health insurance, a 401(k) plan and three weeks of paid time off. If you’re an early-career professional, this offer might sound pretty good, and it is technically within your range. Negotiate anyway.

“Always negotiate, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that you are capable of having a problem-solving conversation,” Gates advised. “That’s what a negotiation is.”

The only exception is if the company made a “firm” offer or has a “non-negotiable” salary policy, Stratmann said. If that’s the case, “you probably don’t want to push your luck.”

But those cases are rare, so unless it’s expressly stated, get to planning your counteroffer.

First, do the numbers.

  • Set a reservation point above the amount they initially offered, perhaps at $ 42,500. This number is the minimum salary you will accept.
  • Your target salary, aka the amount you foresee agreeing on after negotiations, will be higher than your reservation amount — somewhere around $ 45,000.
  • Your anchor salary will be much higher. It’s the number you use to start the conversation and could be as high as $ 50,000.

It’s very possible the company won’t meet your target salary even after negotiations. But don’t fret.

“When evaluating offers, don’t just look at salary,” Stratmann said. “Benefits, cost of living, career path, commute, corporate culture and other factors should be taken into account.”

So negotiate elements of your benefits package, too. Do they have wiggle room on vacation time? What about a work-from-home policy? Learning stipends? Loan forgiveness?

Or, as Margolis put it, “Determine what perks would add some sparkle to your life.”

The important part in a counteroffer is to remain flexible and open-minded.

Step 5: Practice the Negotiation Conversation

You’ve come a long way. But now you have all of these numbers and nuggets of advice floating around in your head. Can you recall them on a moment’s notice while under pressure and probably sweating profusely?

Didn’t think so.

The conversation itself could happen in person or over the phone. But it does need to be a conversation. No email negotiations, Stratmann said.

“Email is great when corresponding about scheduling and general questions,” he said. “But most of the time, negotiating over the phone or in person is your best bet so you can get a better read on tone and responses.”

And if the conversation does happen to take place in person, you’ll have to take into consideration much more than your tone. According to research from Robert Half, hiring managers pay keen attention to several nonverbal cues, the most important being:

  • Eye contact.
  • Posture.
  • Handshake.
  • Hand gestures.
  • Facial expressions.
  • Fidgeting and nervous movements.

This is why feedback is crucial. For the most part, you won’t be able to address any of those cues without someone else’s help.

“Practice negotiating with someone you trust. And ask them to make it difficult for you,” Margolis said.  “Have them counter your assertions and challenge you so you can practice professionally pushing back.”

Margolis also recommended writing out the perks that mean the most to you in the negotiation. Then, write down three things that distinguish yourself from the other applicants — they could highlight your experience, skills or ways you will add unique value to the company.

Forcing yourself to write it out makes your argument more cohesive.

Similarly, Gates recommended crafting an opening statement that lays out exactly what you want. She’s created a specific formula to guide the conversation that should include:

  • Your strengths.
  • Quantified results of those strengths.
  • How you plan to produce those results in the future.
  • An anchor number to start off negotiations.

Then round off your opening statement with a question that sparks discussion. She recommended something along the lines of, ”How can you help me make this so?”

Following this formula, your opening statement could look like:

“I’m a creative and witty copywriter who has produced several award-winning advertisements for past clients, which raised their ad revenue by 20% in one quarter. I believe with the new resources and larger team in my new role here, I will deliver even better results. These achievements warrant a salary of $ 50,000. How can we come together on this?”

Your statement will obviously look different. Use language that’s natural to you and change it around as much as you like. Be sure to include your anchor salary and an open-ended question that invites the employer to speak.

When you’re practicing with a friend, try changing the question, especially if the response isn’t what you were expecting. Because you want to start a discussion, avoid yes-or-no questions in particular.

Practice as much as you can and ask for feedback along the way. When all is said and done, thank your practice partner profusely. Drinks are on you.

Step 6: Negotiate a Higher Salary

After all that preparation, it’s not so scary anymore, is it?

Give yourself a pep talk, take a deep breath, and go get yourself a higher salary.

If you’re conducting the salary talks in person, remember to mind your body language. And if they offer you a beverage, take it. Having something to sip on will help smooth over those awkward pauses and can buy you some time to think of a response if you’re stumped.

If you’re talking over the phone, throw all that advice about body language out the window. That’s not important here. You’ll be able to have your notes in front of you, too.

Remember that your tone is what’s important on the phone. Speak clearly and slowly, and you’ll have a better offer in no time.

Step 7: Get It in Writing

You don’t want all that effort to go to waste.

After you rock your salary negotiation and come out with your target salary (or higher), be sure to ask for it in writing.

Sometimes hiring processes are long and involve plenty of people at the company. Things get forgotten or lost in translation. Perhaps the negotiation was handled by a separate person in the HR department. Maybe that separate person only had your initial salary offer on file and not the renegotiated amount. Or there could be something more nefarious in the works. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

“Ask for them to at least send it in an email to ensure that you and the hiring company are both on the same page,” Margolis said.

And when you finally sign your name on the contract, ensure it reflects what was sent in the email.

Now all that’s left is to bask in the success of the single highest-earning conversation you’ve likely ever had.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder, where he writes about career advice, legit work-from-home job opportunities and unique moneymaking techniques. 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.

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2019 Valero Texas Open odds, picks: These PGA Tour long shots worth a look

The PGA Tour stays in Texas for the Valero Texas Open at The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. The Valero replaces the Houston Open this season as the final test prior to the Masters. Here are three longer shots worth a look this weekend: The plays Jhonattan Vegas (40/1): Johnny Vegas pencils out very…
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9 self-help books that are actually worth reading

We’ve found the ones that won’t waste your time

best self help books

The best self-help books – where do you start? There are so many out there that it can make it impossible to choose one. Some claim to be the best self-help books for confidence, others promise that they’re the sacred text for career progression, and more than a few vow to turn you into a wellness angel.

So how can you separate the wheat from the chaff and find the best self-help book for you? You’ve probably heard of The Power Of Now, The Secret, and The Power Of Positive Thinking – but which newer releases can compete with the classics? Is there a book out there that can genuinely empower you, break bad habits and change your life? And is there anything out there to convert the self-help sceptics?

Read on for our complete roundup of 12 self-help books that are actually worth reading.

Best self-help books

Not sure what way to turn? We’ve broken it all down for you so that all you have to do is pick up a copy and get stuck in.

Best self-help books: one for the perfectionist

Brave Not Perfect, Reshma Saujani

Think about every time you haven’t done something because you didn’t feel good enough to. Didn’t apply for that job you wanted because you didn’t think you were qualified? Gave up writing that novel because you convinced yourself your ideas weren’t up to scratch? Or found yourself re-writing emails so that it’s worded just right (and people don’t think you’re too pushy)? Yep – you’re probably a perfectionist. But it’s time to unlearn everything you thought you knew about how to be brave with the help of Girls Who Code founder, Reshma Saujani.

The book focuses on ways in which women are primed to be perfect (and therefore feel inadequate when they don’t achieve what they set out to) before offering up tips and tricks to ensure you’re making courageous decisions in every day life, whether that’s standing up for yourself in a meeting or quitting your job completely and moving to a remote island. Reshma is like your fearless friend throughout, encouraging you to take a leap of faith – even if it means potentially landing on anything but your feet.

If you fear failure and need a bravery boost, this one’s for you.

best self help books

Best self-help books: one for the anxiety stricken

Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, Bella Mackie

Bella Mackie’s book begins at rock bottom. The journalist and writer starts her story looking back over the days following her divorce, in which she realised she had never learnt any real coping mechanisms, including how to deal with her GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) symptoms she’d had since childhood. She takes the reader back with her over her life during her hardest moments, explaining in detail how her mental health has impacted everything from school to her first marriage. 

As the title suggests, the ongoing thread in the book is how Bella used running to self medicate and get her life back on track. So often those of us suffering with our mental health are made to feel as though there are only two lines of treatment: therapy and/or medication. And while these are of course front and centre when it comes to treating mental health, Bella’s book makes a brilliant case for also taking up exercise. Much like Ella Risbridger’s book Midnight Chicken (in which the writer explains how cooking helped ease her mental health problems), Jog On offers a practical way to take on our biggest, most pressing problems. Not only will this book encourage you to take up running – or simply to find something you have a passion for to improve your mindset – it also reminds you you are absolutely not alone. From beginning to end, Bella’s book is highly relatable (she can only manage 2 minutes on her first run), realistic (her descriptions of mental illness are bang on), and will have anyone who suffers with the terror of an anxiety disorder joyously celebrating that somebody finally knows exactly how they feel. 

best self-help books 2019

Best self-help books: one to awaken the girlboss within

Work Party: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams, Jaclyn Johnson

What is a ‘work party’? It’s the feeling you get when you’re absolutely killing it in your career and enjoying every minute of it. But the biggest question is – how do you get there?

Author Jaclyn Johnson recalls the highs and lows of starting her own businesses, trusting the wrong people, making the ‘wrong’ moves, following her gut and chasing her dreams in this epic, fun and totally relatable career book. Forget business jargon and the usual run-of-the-mill ‘you can do it’ pep talks. Jaclyn, founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate (a community of women looking to carve out the career of their dreams), gives sound advice to anyone who wants to up their game at work – whether that means starting your own business from scratch, or moving swiftly up the ladder in your current job.

This career bible covers everything from asking for a pay rise to personal branding, and injects fun into following your dreams.

best self-help books 2019

Best self-help books: one for a spiritual awakening

The Universe Has Your Back, Gabrielle Bernstein

Gabrielle Bernstein’s Number 1 New York Times Bestseller is a must-have for anyone feels they’re lacking control over their life and is willing to hand over the reins to a higher power. Whether you’re already totally committed to living by the laws of attraction, or you’re very sceptical about asking the universe for what you want, you need to pick up a copy of this book to find out about the powers of manifestation for yourself.

This guide if for anyone who feels their life is lacking something, is having trouble feeling ‘happy’, or is unsure of the course to take. It promises to help the reader turn fear into faith, focusing on techniques that will having you living your best life in absolutely no time at all.

best self-help books 2019

Best self-help books: one if you’re feeling stuck

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

This book will convince you to get creative with your life. It’s not just for the poets, painters and performers – it’s for anyone who has lost themselves a little bit and wants to rediscover their passions. The book focuses on finding and appreciating joy in every day experiences, doing the things you love, and ignoring the judgement and opinions of others.

The message is clear: this book is here to remind you that you can live big without selling everything and moving to a remote village, or vowing to commit to a sport so that you can compete in the next Olympics. Whether it’s rekindling your childhood love for ice skating or booking a piano lesson after twenty years off the keys, this book will encourage you to forget what others think, focus on what you want, and follow your own interesting and totally unique path.

best self-help books

Best self-help books: one that’s ‘anti guru’

Calm The Fuck Down, Sarah Knight

If you’re familiar with Knight’s other works, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ckGet Your Sh*t Together and You Do You, you’ll be familiar with her writing style: punchy, energetic and a bit tongue-in-cheek. Her fourth ‘anti guru’ book offers readers and easy framework for dealing with the daily ups and downs of anxiety – from someone who knows what it’s like to deal with it – all interspersed with diagrams, a good sense of humour and relatable anecdotes. It’s a breeze to read and you’ll feel much less alone by the end of it.

best self-help books 2019

Best self-help books: one for people pleasers

The Good Girl’s Guide To Being A Dick, Alexandra Reinwarth

Struggle with being honest? Scared to be confrontational? Worried about the consequences of saying what’s really on your mind? Then you need to pick up a copy of Alexandra Reinwarth’s book because it might just change your life for the better.

After going through a BFF breakup, Alexandra decided that she was no longer going to live her life to please other people. Instead, she was going to create her own set of rules and embrace the power of saying ‘no’. She rejects the idea of women having to be ‘nice’ to get where they need to be in life – whether that’s climbing the career ladder, pleasing their peers or having the confidence to do what they really want to do – and instead focuses on ways in which we can ask for (and get) the life that we truly want.

best self-help books 2019

Best self-help books: one for the courage to speak out

Make Trouble, Cecile Richards

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards is ‘enjoying fighting the good fight’. Her memoir details her fight for social justice and acts as motivation for anyone who wants to flex their activism muscle.

From how her journey started to the valuable lessons she learned along the way, Cecile talks about how she fought and won some of the biggest battles of her career – and doesn’t forget about her setbacks, too. She actively encourages being a (hard-working) troublemaker to get where you need to be – even if it all ends in failure. In fact, especially if it ends in failure. Because the most important step following a setback is the ability to pick yourself back up and keep going.

A practical guide to activism, it’s the go-to book for anyone who wants a little encouragement to face their fears and fight for the changes they want to see.

best self-help books 2019

Best self-help books: one to focus on the important things

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck, Mark Manson

This book caused waves when it was released in 2016, and it’s still one of our favourites when it comes to self-help books. Forget a wishy-washy faux-positive author – Mark Manson is here to keep things to-the-point, and isn’t scared to swear while he’s doing it.

His approach differs from the usual self-help book style – instead of encouraging the readers to focus on what they’re not and ‘should be’, he advises them to stop comparing themselves and save their energy for the things that really matter in their lives.

best self-help books 2019

The post 9 self-help books that are actually worth reading appeared first on Marie Claire.

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19 Calvin Klein Runway Looks Worth Taking a Look Back At

It’s the end of an era at Calvin Klein.
The American fashion brand announced Wednesday it will not continue its traditional collection business, meaning Calvin Klein will no longer be a fixture on the fashion week runway. The news comes after the brand shuttered its 205W39NYC label in January, following the departure of its chief creative officer, Raf Simons, the prior month.
Starting his namesake label in 1968 as a coat shop, Calvin Klein grew his brand quickly, adding sportswear and lingerie. In 1973, Klein received the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award for a 74-piece women’s wear collection, becoming known for his youthful and classic American style.

Calvin Klein fall 1973 ready-to-wear collection. 
Nick Machalaba/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

While the proliferation of Klein’s underwear and jeans businesses — and legendary ad campaigns featuring the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Kate Moss and Brooke Shields — are a significant marker in the designer’s legacy, his designs on the runway were equally impactful. Most notably, Klein popularized the slipdress, which was routinely modeled by Moss on the runway.

The finale at the Calvin Klein spring 1998 ready-to-wear runway. 
Todd Plitt/AP/REX/Shutterstock

When the brand was acquired by PVH Corp. and Klein resigned from his position in 2003, designer Francisco Costa was brought on as

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Tod’s Mocs – Is it worth it?

Today, we will share our in-depth review of Tod’s driving mocs; features of the shoes, the pros and cons and if I think they’re worth $ 495 or not.

History Of Tod’s

What is today known as Tod’s was founded in Italy in the 1920s by Filippo Della Valle as a small shoemaking factory. By the 1950s and 60s, they mostly produced private label shoes for brands including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman in the US. It remained a small family-owned business until the founder’s grandson, Diego Della Valle took over, this was in the 70s and Diego had gone to New York and saw a shoe that he really liked.

Gianni Agnelli Wearing Tod's
Gianni Agnelli Wearing Tod’s

It was a moccasin style construction shoe with rubber pebble nub sole. The leather wasn’t that high-quality so he decided to bring it back to Italy, refine the design, and make it part of their shoe line. It quickly became their signature model, Il Gommino. Shortly after the shoe was in production, Diego Della Valle smartly gifted a pair to Gianni Agnelli which was recognized as a style icon; he liked the shoe and he wore it on TV which really boosted the sales.

Diego Della Valle
Diego Della Valle

In 1984, Diego Della Valle decided to change the name to make it more Anglo-American sounding and so it became JP Tod’s. The company once again changed their name to just Tod’s, dropping the JP in 1997. In the 80s and 90s, Tod’s is particularly getting a reputation for casual driving mocs, it was their shoe. Iconic superstars such as Princess Diana helped propelling the brand forward by wearing Tod’s shoes.

Today, unlike many other luxury brands, Tod’s owns and maintains all of their manufacturing facilities that enabled them to withstand going offshore to lower production countries and it’s their way of keeping up the parent promise of made in Italy and quality. If you look at it from a brand name perspective, they did an excellent job. The Tod’s umbrella includes brands like Hogan, Fay, or Roger Vivier. Of course, all of their companies produce more than 2 million pairs of shoes a year and they actually grew throughout the last recession in 2009. Today, it’s a billion dollar company.

A Closer Look At The Shoe…

The model we have here is called Laccetto Gommino and it retails for $ 495 in the US. It is of course made in Italy but other than the fact that it has some laces, leathers, and rubber nub sole, there’s really not much more information on their website. Considering, it’s almost $ 500 expensive, I find that quite disappointing personally because they don’t say anything about the construction, the leather used, whether it’s cowhide or calf hide, and as a consumer who’s educated, I would like to know that information.

Tod's blue driving mocs
Tod’s blue driving mocs

Shoe Construction

From the outside, it is not a true 100% moccasin construction. The shoe has the characteristic rubber pebble nubs that allow the shoe the same flexibility as it would be with an all leather sole. At the same time, it lasts longer than a just leather sole moccasin. Of course, the lifespan is still shorter compared to a regular men’s dress shoe with a leather sole or rubber sole. It’s a very unstructured shoe, it has no heel cap and no toe cap and is thus very comfortable to wear. You can see it’s made for driving because the rubber pebbles go up all the way to the heel because when you drive, that’s where you need the grip.

Because $ 495 is quite a bit of money for just a driving shoe, a lot of men also wear them as casual shoes, especially during the summer. The problem is without the structured heel cap and toe cap, they’re not ideal for walking. They get bigger and the leather sole wears out a lot faster.

The one we ordered comes in a nice blue and I think it’s made of a shrunken calf leather or cowhide, again, nothing’s mentioned on the website but if you take a closer look, you can see it has somewhat of a scotch grain texture but it’s not achieved by embossing it but simply by shrinking the leather. I find it’s quite nice and it’s also a little more durable than suede leather which is also something they offer.

Rubber nubs
Rubber nubs

The moc seam in the front of the shoe is supposedly done by hand, whenever you do that, taking the leather and sewing it into something three-dimensional, you get vertical lines. Because we have a shrunken leather, you see even more pronounced lines that are vertical. The shoe is also leather lined seemingly with an undyed leather that doesn’t color off especially when you wear it bare feet during the summer.

It’s really nothing special on the inside and for the price, I would have hoped for a bit more contrast or something interesting. The insole is covered with one piece of leather lining and underneath, you can find a rubber wedge that is a little more cushy and more comfortable to stand in them. At the same time, it’s not made all of leather.

A closer look at Tod's mocs
A closer look at Tod’s mocs

Each pair of Tod’s mocs is made out of 35 pieces in a hundred steps and while that sounds like a lot, if you compare to a Goodyear welted or Blake stitched men’s dress shoe, that is actually quite little because Goodyear welt is a lot more complex, requires more parts and time.


In terms of sizing, I usually wear a size 11 US or 10.5 UK in a medium width last. For the Tod’s, I had to size down and go with a 10 so keep in mind it’s a large shoe and it’s one that will stretch out over time so you always want to go rather with a more snugly fitting shoe than with something that is too wide.

Tod's logo
Tod’s logo

Are Tod’s Mocs Worth It?


  • To me, one of the biggest cons is that it’s not a shoe that will last me 15 or 20 years if I regularly wear it because it has this leather sole with the rubber pebbles which is super flexible but it also wears out very quickly and can’t be repaired once there’s a hole in your sole. Essentially, it makes it a disposable shoe and if you just use it as a driving shoe, it’s quite expensive on its own.
  • It’s not a shoe you want to wear when it’s wet outside because the water will go right through the leather up onto your socks and feet which is quite uncomfortable. Frankly, if you live in a cooler climate with lots of snow and rain, this is not a shoe I would ever invest in. Maybe if you’re in Italy or in a warmer climate and you like casual summer shoes, it’s something to think about.
  • At the end of the day, buying Tod’s driving mocs is still mostly a brand buy. Fortunately, Tod’s branding is not obnoxious. They have a little Tod’s logo at the bottom sole as well as at the top right corner of the shoe, it’s very subtle, tone in tone yet most people will recognize it as a Tod’s simply because they have very vibrant colors and a very unique style. Looking at the shoe, the construction method, the materials that go into it, I think it should retail more at a 200 to 250 dollar price range and not at a 500 dollar price range. But of course, when it comes to pricing, branding is everything and Tod’s does a fantastic job in positioning their brand and maintaining high prices.
Tod's Driving Mocs
Tod’s Driving Mocs


  • Even though the shoe can wear out pretty quickly, the style itself is rather timeless and you’ll be able to wear it in 10 or 20 years down the line. Even though you would assume other brands can simply replicate the style, I still think Tod’s has an edge when it comes to their styling versus other brands in the market.
  • One of the biggest pros of Tod’s mocs is probably that they come in a large number of colors in different leathers including suede and exotic skins such as crocodile. To my knowledge, there is no other brand that offers such a wide range. If you are just interested in black or brown mocs, that’s not that big of a deal but if you want something maybe in blue, in red, in yellow, in green, Tod’s definitely has the widest selection.
  • On top of that, they have various additions that change throughout the seasons; sometimes with fabric or velvet, you name it! Probably there’s a Tod’s moc out there that has the material that you’re looking for.
The inside of the Tod's mocs
The inside of the Tod’s mocs

Ultimately, Are They Worth It To Me?

I have to say no, they’re not because if I just want a driving shoe and that’s what the Tod’s mocs are, I can just buy a regular boat shoe, maybe a pair of Sperrys and it costs me $ 100 or less and they essentially do the same job. On top of that, I can wear them in a casual setting and they will last a lot longer because they have a solid rubber sole.

If I wear Tod’s mocs, otherwise, they wear out quickly and become a disposable item. Also, I think you find better value with other brands.

A less-Expensive Alternative – Rancourt

Let’s look at Rancourt which are handmade in Maine in the US; they offer their driving mocs with a pebble grain sole for $ 295. Again, they have a more limited color spectrum off the rack but they have different styles such as a penny style or maybe a regular leather lace style.

Now if you really want a colorful shoe, Rancourt who offers a made-to-order program where you can pick the exact sole configuration the style, as well as the leather, and you can even mix and match so you can create spectators and to truly create a unique shoe for you for $ 395 which is twenty percent less than the Tod’s.

What’s your take on Tod’s driving mocs? Do you think it is worth spending $ 495 for a pair? Share your thoughts below!

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US households see biggest decline in net worth since the financial crisis

Net worth dropped to $ 104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a slide of $ 3.73 trillion, according to figures released Thursday by the Fed.


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The Real Crazy Rich Asian Palace Is Worth a Cool $3.5 Billion

In the heart of Singapore, one of the most expensive cities in the world, there’s a sprawling, vacant plot of private land 30 times the size of The White House.

Just down the road from the U.S. embassy and bordering condos worth S$ 4.5 million ($ 3.3 million) each, the swathe of untended jungle hides the remains of two abandoned palaces and would be worth a cool $ 3.5 billion if sold for development, according to one estimate. In a city where almost 8,000 people are crammed into each square kilometer and real estate prices are among the world’s highest, it is one of the greatest urban anachronisms in Asia.

“Owning a piece of land in Singapore is certainly a privilege as land is the most precious resource in the city-state,” said Christine Li, a senior director and head of research for Singapore at Cushman & Wakefield Inc. “Over the past five decades, land prices have appreciated significantly. This has fueled wealth creation for older generations. Many also aspire to own a landed property as it is a status symbol for the well-heeled.”

If something about this story sounds familiar, it’s probably because the plot line was borrowed by Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, the book about Asia’s insanely rich that was made into a hit movie last year. The fictitious Young family inhabits a sprawling ancestral home, set within Singapore’s Tyersall Park.

In the real-life version, the 34-year-old Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, is the registered owner of the 210,875 square meter plot, which lies in the former Tyersall Park, next to the Botanic Gardens. Inside, ravaged by fire and decay, are the ruins of Istana Woodneuk, the palace built by his ancestors in the late 19th century.

The plot owned by the Sultans of Johor was once larger, but has gradually reduced as the Singapore government acquired land to extend the Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage site. In 1990, the state bought a chunk for S$ 25 million and it got another 98,000-square-meter piece in 2009 for an undisclosed amount.

Malaysia has a constitutional monarchy, where the national throne rotates between rulers of the country’s nine states every five years. The southern state of Johor is ruled by the Crown Prince’s father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.

Last year, the 60-year-old patriarch put 12 luxury cars from his extensive collection on display at an event held to mark the 90th anniversary of Singapore’s Fullerton Heritage precinct. They included a 1991 Lamborghini LM002 and a 1938 Lagonda Lightweight LG6, the only one in the world.

His other assets include a 22 percent share in Malaysia’s Forest City, a $ 100 billion Chinese-built project with apartments on artificial islands in the country’s south, and the family also owns stakes in a variety of public companies from 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd. to telecoms firm REDtone International Bhd.

The Crown Prince, however, won’t be able to cash in on his Singapore land any time soon, even if he wanted to. The undeveloped area is zoned for “special use of green space,” meaning development for other purposes, such as residential or commercial, is restricted.

Were that to change — the land does sit in one of Singapore’s most desirable residential districts — it could be worth at least S$ 4.7 billion, according to a calculation by Alan Cheong, a senior director at brokerage Savills Plc.

The most expensive residence to change hands in Singapore over the past year was a so-called good class bungalow (luxury landed houses that are off limits to foreigners) also near the Botanic Gardens. The property was purchased by Tony Tung, the chairman of oil trader Winson Group for S$ 105.3 million ($ 78 million), the Business Times reported earlier this month, saying it was a record for that type of dwelling.

A representative for the Crown Prince didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

His father is pragmatic when it comes to matters of money.

“Let’s be honest here, we are a constitutional monarch. I have to earn my living like everyone else,” the Sultan said in a 2015 interview with local newspaper The Star. “I cannot depend on my allowances of RM27,000 ($ 6,640) a month. I must earn a living, like ordinary Malaysians.”


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You absolutely must play ‘Far Cry 5’ before touching ‘Far Cry: New Dawn’. Seriously, it’s worth it.


Warning: One absolutely unavoidable (and major) spoiler for Far Cry 5 is below, but chances are you’ve already heard about it.

Ah, the “standalone sequel.” It’s a tricky beast. Of course players want it to work. Heaven knows studios want it to work. Unfortunately, it rarely works. 

Far Cry: New Dawn is no exception – but that is far from a bad thing.

The latest Far Cry spinoff takes us back to Hope County, Montana, the setting for all of the events in its fifth main game. While we’re dealing with a completely new story line, (almost) entirely different characters, and an elaborately re-skinned environment, newcomers shouldn’t plan on enjoying this chapter sans Far Cry 5 knowledge. Note that I’m saying “shouldn’t” and not “couldn’t.” Read more…

More about Entertainment, Review, Sequel, Far Cry 5, and Far Cry New Dawn



Colorado has sold $6B worth of pot since 2014

DENVER — Colorado regulators say more than $ 6 billion in marijuana products have been sold since 2014 in the state. The figures released Tuesday represent sales through the end of 2018. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, more than $ 1.54 billion of marijuana for medical or adult use was sold during 2018. That is…
Business | New York Post


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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Canada Goose Jackets – Is It Worth It?

In recent years, Canada Goose was transitioned from a smaller brand focusing on functional wear to a very stylish brand that became extremely popular. As a consequence, their flagship jacket, which we are about to review, costs around $ 1000 and so we want to know, is it really worth that money? How does it compare to other well-known jackets such as Moncler?

Canada Goose History

Just like many others, it started out as a very functional brand for outdoor gear. It was founded by the Polish immigrant Sam Tick in 1957. Interestingly, it was not named Canada Goose but Metro Sportswear. They started producing down jackets in the 1970s but they were primarily focused on jackets for rangers and the police.

By 1985, they decided to produce jackets under their own brand which at the time was called Snow Goose, not Canada goose. At the time, they also manufactured private label jackets for companies like LL Bean or Eddie Bauer. They were growing slowly and in the early 90s, they expanded to Europe.

Canada Goose Logo

Unfortunately, someone else was already using the term Snow Goose so they switched their branding to Canada goose. Even though they were forced to change the name, it proved beneficial because of the positive association with really cold Canadian climate. In 2001, Dani Reiss took over as a CEO from his father at Canada Goose. At the time, a lot of companies were still shifting production overseas but he said: “No, we’re gonna produce in Canada”.

At the same time, he began pushing the products internationally and especially in Europe, people didn’t question the high price tag because they associated it was a luxury high-end product. Ironically, the brand Canada Goose flew pretty much under the radar up until about 2010. The brand undertook an aggressive product placement strategy using celebrities such as Daniel Craig. Of course, that was also reflected in their revenue. The company went from 18 million a year to a multiple of that, selling a 70% share for a quarter billion dollars in 2013.

Kate Upton Wearing Canada Goose

By then, Canada Goose had become so popular that model Kate Upton wore a jacket on a Sports Illustrated cover swimsuit edition. Today, Canada Goose continues to focus on quality and domestic Canadian production. The Canada Goose product lineup has steadily increased and now includes lighter weight jackets as well as pants and other outerwear things. Of course, with the popularity of the Canada Goose brand, also a lot of counterfeit jackets pop in the market just like with Moncler. They also use an authentication system making sure that if you pay top dollar, you get the real thing and not a knockoff. Just like Moncler, Canada Goose is now a status symbol and so we really want to look into it whether the jacket is actually functional and worth your money.

Canada Goose Emory Parka

What I’m Wearing…

So I’m wearing the Canada Goose Emory slim fit parka jacket with a coyote trim. In terms of colors, they are less flashy than Moncler and I chose an olive green.

Genuine Coyote Fur Trim

The first thing that distinguishes the jacket visually from the Moncler one is the genuine coyote fur trim. Canada Goose claims that it has a functional purpose in the sense that it creates more turbulent air around your face thus preventing frostbite more than a jacket without the trim. The company claims that the coyote fur is ethically sourced and trapped in Canada. Now, trapping is always difficult and painful for the animals so I know a few people who would question that claim.

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a Moncler jacket
Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a Moncler jacket

Matte Material

The next thing that stands out is the material. It is matte and it’s a lot thicker than the Moncler jacket. Also and I find it quite unpleasant, it makes a lot of noise when you walk! The material is made out of 85% polyester and 15% cotton, it’s water-resistant, durable, and hard-wearing, as well as wind resistant. It’s not quite gore-tex membrane material but it’s definitely thick and much stiffer than what you get from Moncler. That being said, nylon is typically a higher-end artificial fiber and polyester. In my opinion, the stiffness of the fabric is directly felt to the entire jacket and other people would have compared the jacket to wearing that x-ray vest at the dentist’s office.

Canada Goose Emory up close

Ribbed Cuffs

The ribbed cuffs are quite useful because they prevent cold air from coming in.

Pockets & Zippers

The jacket features an abundance of pockets, has lots of Zamak metal snap buttons that are plastic covered. Of course, all branded. The zipper is an injection molded plastic from YKK, ironically, it’s the same one used at the Moncler Jackets. For some reason though, I find it a lot harder to close. So for a jacket that retails for $ 1,000, I would’ve expected a higher-end zipper made out of machined metal and not just an average YKK product that I can get on Amazon for about 6 bucks.

Down Feathers up close
Down Feathers up close

Duck Down Feathers

Even though the brand is called Canada Goose, the actual filling of this jacket consists of duck down feathers which are inferior to goose down. So what’s the difference between goose down and duck down? Well, goose down comes in larger clusters, usually traps the air better which means you get a higher fill power and more insulating with a goose than duck. Because this jacket uses duck down, it’s not surprising that there’s a fill power of 625.

Again, low-end fill power would be 300, high-end fill power would be 900. So this jacket sits right somewhere in the middle. It consists of 80% down and 20% feathers which is not as good as the Moncler jacket which is 90% goose down and 10% feathers but both are not as good as other jackets in the market that have 93% goose down.

Thermal Experience Index

Thermal Experience Index

Unlike Moncler, Canada goose has warmth grading method which is called TEI or thermal experience index. That will help you to find a jacket that is best suited for your needs and your environment and the level of coolness you experience.

Is The Canada Goose Emory Jacket Worth It?


  • The construction of the Canada Goose jacket seems more rugged and sturdy. Frankly, I don’t wear these jackets enough to really figure out the difference because when I go skiing, I layer up because that allows me to get exactly the right heat level for the temperature outside. This arctic tech fabric is definitely more sturdy than the nylon one from Moncler and I think over time, it will wear better.
  • Unlike Moncler, Canada Goose comes with a lifetime warranty, however, that sounds better than it actually is because it’s just a warranty against manufacturing defects.
  • It’s definitely a quality parka, it has a real fur trim, it has a fill power of 625 and it keeps you warm and is well thought through.


  • The sound it creates and the noise it makes when I walk, I find it simply unpleasant.
  • It’s heavier than the Moncler jacket which is not so great in my opinion but more importantly it’s simply too stiff for my tastes.
  • Also keep in mind that you can find warmer jackets with a higher fill power for about half the price of this Canada Goose.
Donegal tweed overcoat. fedora hat, Fort Belvedere yellow gloves and blue scarf
Donegal tweed overcoat, fedora hat, Fort Belvedere yellow gloves and blue scarf
  • Overall it’s pretty expensive even though it’s twenty dollars less expensive than the Moncler jacket but at the end of the day, I don’t find any of those jackets really stylish because this one is very shiny and puffy, this one is less puffy but it’s so stiff and just makes me feel like a very unstylish person. So if you really care for style go with a heavy overcoat that will keep you just as warm in the city at the same time you will look a lot better.


In terms of value, one could argue that Canada Goose is better because it has more details it’s more functional and will likely wear longer than the Moncler jacket. That being said, the increased weight, the stiffness of the fabric in combination with a pain in the ass zipper, I don’t think $ 995 is a good value for this parka.

What’s your take on Canada Goose Jackets? Drop a comment below!

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Here’s Why More Expensive Cloth Diapers Could Be Worth It

Babies might be small and cute, but they can also be expensive.

One of the easiest ways to save money on baby gear (and be eco-friendly) is to invest in a cloth diaper stash rather than using disposables. While you pay more money upfront for cloth diapers, you’ll save money over the course of your baby’s journey from infant to potty-trained preschooler.

I’m currently on my second cloth-diapered kid. My husband, Ben, and I used them with our daughter, Rose, from the time she was a newborn until she was potty trained at age 3. Now, we use cloth diapers on our son, Liam (3 months), and plan to do so until he is potty trained as well.

When building our stash, I was pretty overwhelmed by the types of diapers available and the various brands at different price points. Now, I’m a cloth diaper pro. I know what works for me and what I’m willing to pay. I decided to talk to some of my mom friends who have used cloth diapers to see which brands they recommend.

Budget-Friendly Diapers

detail of a pocket cloth diaper
Pocket diapers consist of a diaper cover and inserts that you stuff inside. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you’re thinking of trying cloth diapers but don’t want to invest too much in case it’s not for you, consider buying a few cheaper pocket diapers to take for a trial run. Pocket diapers consist of a diaper cover and inserts that you stuff inside that cover. You’ll need to wash the cover and inserts after each use.

I bought a lot of KaWaii Baby diapers on eBay before Rose was born and used them with her until she was potty trained. I am using them with Liam as well and find them to be just as absorbent. I paid $ 110 for 24 diapers, which works out to $ 4.58 per diaper.

I could have stuck with Rose’s diaper stash for Liam, but I decided to invest in some new prints. I found a couple of brands on Amazon that offered a variety of cute prints for cheap.

Alva Baby offers affordable pocket diapers. You can buy a pack of six diapers with 12 microfiber inserts from Amazon for $ 39.99, or $ 6.67 per diaper. Alva Baby has a lot of different print choices, all of which are very cute and very affordable.

I also got a pack of six Mama Koala diapers with six microfiber inserts for $ 39.99, or $ 6.67 per diaper. The prints I got featured different types of food, from pizza and tacos to avocado toast with eggs (it was the latter that made me purchase them, to be honest).

Another good way to build a diaper stash on a budget is through local consignment sales. These sales allow local moms to sell their gently used baby and kid clothes and toys, and you can find great deals on diapers if you’re lucky. Local cloth diaper stores might also have consignment sales where you can find deals. My local store, Samozrejme, holds quarterly “re-stash” sales where you can score gently used cloth diapers for cheap.

My friend Alexis Goodwin found another way to go the cloth-diaper route on a budget with prefolds (a rectangular-shaped cloth diaper with an absorbent pad sewn in the middle). “I used covers and prefolds so I could reuse the covers multiple times versus a single use,” she told me. “I believe the prefolds I used were cotton. I added a homemade liner of fleece to help keep [my baby] dry by wicking away the moisture. This also made it easier, when we started solids, to get rid of poop.”

You can buy prefold diapers very cheaply, so diapering this way is a great budget option. And you’ll only need to wash the prefolds after each use rather than both the insert and the cover.

Mid-Priced Diapers

detail of Thirsties cloth diaper covers
Thirsties cloth diaper covers are a good mid-range option for cloth diapering. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you decide to go the prefold-diaper route, Goodwin recommends Thirsties covers as a good mid-range option. You can buy these new for around $ 12 each, which is more expensive than the budget brands mentioned. But since you can use the diaper covers multiple times and just replace the prefolds when they are soiled, you’ll need fewer covers than if you go with pocket diapers or all-in-one options (where the cover and insert are permanently attached).

Another mid-range diaper brand Goodwin recommends is Rumparooz. She used the newborn-size covers, but you can also get one-size diaper covers that fit from six to 35 pounds. Rumparooz newborn covers cost $ 10 each, and one-size covers cost $ 14.

Buying mid-priced diapers still works on a budget if you go the cover-and-prefold route. Depending on how many covers you buy, you could end up spending less than you would if you bought a budget brand pocket diaper stash.

Splurge-Worthy Diapers

detail of a Grovia diaper
GroVia diaper covers are pricey but they are versatile because they can be used with inserts that snap into the shell as well as with prefold diapers. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

As with anything, you can spend a lot of money on cloth diapers. But sometimes, spending more on a pricier brand might be worth it.

“I loved my GroVia shells,” said Goodwin. “My littlest was a skinny baby with skinny legs. These fit her perfectly from about two months until she potty trained. They had such cute prints, too! If money wasn’t an issue, I’d [recommend buying] GroVia covers and inexpensive prefolds.”

The nice thing about GroVia diaper covers is that you can buy inserts to snap in rather than using prefold diapers. The shells and inserts cost $ 16.95 each, or you can buy GroVia prefolds at $ 8.95 for a pack of three.

My friend Kathryn Dowell swears by AppleCheeks diapers. This Canadian company offers sized diapers as well as one-size diapers. Prices range from $ 20.75 to $ 24 per diaper cover. You can use them with cheap prefolds or stick with AppleCheeks brand inserts, depending on your budget.

“[AppleCheeks’] customer interaction and community… is a large part of why I choose them. But the company aligns with a lot of my beliefs in other ways. They are produced in Canada and hire local seamstresses,” Dowell explained.

Dowell first discovered AppleCheeks when a friend sold her a starter stash for half the retail price. She was so impressed with the company and the quality of the product that she quickly became a convert.

“The quality will last through several children,” she said. “[They are often] available on sale.” This can range from 15% off a regular diaper to 40% off a discontinued color.

Splurging on pricier diapers might be painful at first, but if you plan on cloth diapering through two or more kids, it could be worth the upfront cost.

Whether you stick to budget brands or splurge on more expensive ones, cloth diapering your kid can save you big in the long term (not to mention saving a bunch of disposable diapers from entering a landfill).

The great thing about cloth diapers is that you can resell them when you don’t need them anymore. So even if you spend big in the beginning, you can recoup some of that money once your kids are potty trained.

Catherine Hiles first started cloth diapering to do her part for the environment. Now, she can’t imagine using disposable diapers as a full-time option.

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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‘Overwatch’ Makes Voice Chat Essential, But is Winning Worth The Online Abuse?

Unlike most team-based shooters, in Overwatch, voice chat is essential if you want to perform well at the upper echelons of competitive play. Ignoring the every player for themselves approach of its contemporaries, Blizzard‘s shooter is refreshingly team-oriented and here working collectively as a team can go a long way. From strategizing to shot-calling, here, communication is always key to winning.

Despite this, bafflingly, lots of Overwatch players actively refrain from using voice chat. Not only do some players decide against talking in the voice channel—some even go as far as to leave it entirely, meaning that they can’t even hear those who are using the feature. Why? <Well, as with many other online games, Overwatch can be a platform that’s plagued with toxicity. While popping on for a quick bit of pew pewery, it’s sadly not uncommon to hear an angry voice yelling personal attacks or even hate speech in the voice channels of Blizzard’s shooter. Like with the rest of the internet, here players revel in the anonymity they’re afforded by voice chat, using the feature as a means of bullying others with little consequence.

So, in an effort to understand why people do and don’t use voice chat, we spoke with Josh Bishop, Aimee Hart, and Natalie Flores. All avid players of Overwatch, they each had their own unique opinions on the pros and cons of voice chat in competitive Overwatch.

Josh’s story

I didn’t use voice chat in the past. It felt really bad whenever I got flamed in Overwatch—I don’t really know why, but in Overwatch specifically, it felt worse than other games. A while back I joined a Diamond/Masters Overwatch team and ever since then I’ve used voice chat because the part I enjoy now is the teamwork aspect. I definitely feel this is the best game out there for teamwork and that not using voice chat does kind of mess up you and your team. Now I don’t care much about what they say and if I get a particularly annoying person in one of my games I just mute them specifically instead of leaving the entire channel.

Back when I would regularly leave voice chat I liked to play Mei. Even if she wasn’t amazing, she was still playable and I definitely won games on her. No one else really agreed with me, though, and the second I would pick Mei everyone would scream at me and want me to switch. I will say that this is for sure the most toxic community I’ve ever been a part of, for reasons just like this. They’re angry all the time for no reason.

It sounds strange to say, but I feel League of Legends’ toxicity isn’t anywhere near as bad. I think it’s because they don’t flame you often for your pick or other dumb things like that—they flame you over whether or not your decisions are correct. This doesn’t bother me as much because I stand by my decisions usually. Plus, it’s all through text. League has no voice chat at all. I just mute their chat and forget they exist. When I’m trying really hard in ranked I just mute chat right when the game starts.

If I’m playing ranked and trying hard to win, that’s what I do. I have a habit of trying to type back when people get toxic. I feel like I have to be the one defending everyone from the flame. Also, in League not much that gets typed is important. I’d say maybe 5% of messages are important.

LoL has a very good system of pings so you can communicate without having to type it all out. You can press one button to bring up a menu of four pings; enemy missing, on my way, be careful, and I need assistance. On top of that, you can ping enemy abilities and items to call attention to them or to ping that they’re on cooldown or whatever else. None of these things get muted when you mute chat.

Flamed for choosing his favorite heroes but receptive of the fact that voice chat is essential for successful team play, Josh has resolved to mute toxic players with a zero-tolerance policy toward toxicity. This is a quick fix and does remove the toxic elements of the game, but it also limits Josh’s ability to communicate with some teammates. In order to block out their toxic behavior, all lines of communication must be severed, which directly impinges on team play.

Aimee’s story

Heroes of the Storm Overwatch Officer D.Va
And just like that a brand new Officer D.Va cosplay was born

It was a while back but I can remember who I was playing and everything because it was just that good, y’know?
I didn’t used to like voice chat, but I used to watch a streamer called RagTagg and he was always like “you’ll do better in competitive if you talk. You may not want to, but you’ve gotta do it if you want to do well.” So, I tried it out myself, and it was pretty hit and miss. Sometimes we’d win, sometimes we’d lose. I found that I was mostly by myself on voice chat, which I didn’t mind because I’m quite shy.

Until it got to that game. It was competitive (Gold) and I was on King’s Row. I was playing D.VA and to be honest, we didn’t have a good team. I can’t remember the full composition, but I know there was a Mercy and a Widowmaker, and I was the only tank. So, it wasn’t great, but I didn’t tell them to change and was like “okay, we’d probably do better if we had another tank and another healer, but if you don’t want to change then that’s okay. Just have fun.” Or…something along those lines.

Like, it was definitely forced positivity at that point, solely because I’d been miserable on competitive before and got real toxic so now I was like “LET’S BE POSITIVE –EVEN WITH DIRE ODDS.”

We’d pushed the payload to the very last point on King’s Row, but we couldn’t complete it.It was the enemy’s turn, and just as we were preparing, someone on our team suddenly left.I can’t remember who it was, but I know it wasn’t Mercy or Widowmaker because I remember them distinctly.

Like I said, I could tell the team was down and we were stumbling a lot. The enemy team took the first point easily and by that time I just knew if we didn’t do something then we’d lose for sure.

At that time I went off voice chat because I could feel myself getting angry and didn’t want to take it out on anyone; but,  just as they went past the first corner of the payload, I was like “ah, f** it” and went back on chat and was like “alright, I know it looks bad but I think we can do this. We’re trickling in at the moment, but I’ve got my ult and if we can get rid of the tank (I think it was Rein) then I can do my ult and we can hold the payload,” or something along those lines. It was a really long time ago—I think Orisa had just been added to the game.

But anyway, we teamed up and managed to get Rein out of the picture and I flew my mech into the enemy team and BAM! Caught them completely unaware and it was a team kill.

Then I think it was Widow or Mercy who came on the voice chat and was like “YES! Go D.VA! We can do this everyone!” He was an American guy for definite, because he had a real thick accent. And honest to GOD we ended up winning. It was so great. Me and the guy were cheering when we won and just spammed thanks. Honestly, it was the best feeling in the world. I’ve not had a comp match like that for ages.
Aimee’s story is warm and uplifting, highlighting the side of Overwatch that players dream of. Aimee is the person you want on your team—the anti-toxic teammates who praises you when you do well and forgives you when you make a mistake. When Aimee told us this, we don’t think she knew that she was the star of the story, but that’s just how it is. If more people were like this, Overwatch’s toxicity problem would be solved in a heartbeat.

Natalie’s Story

Mercy is an essential part of many Overwatch teams. But will these latest changes make Mercy mains think twice?

So basically, sometimes I’ll play overwatch with my friends and I’ll want to play a little more after they take their leave. When that happens, I have to disconnect my headphones, plug in my splitter cable with the headphone jack, and plug my headphones back into that so that I can join voice chat without my own voice getting picked up. This is how I play Overwatch, because voice chat is super important since it’s supposed to be a team-based game.

Sometimes, I’m a little Zenyatta getting focused by the enemy team, but I’d rather frustratingly keep dying and drop in rank—which I honestly take pretty seriously as someone who is really involved with this game—than to go on voice chat with my microphone

I think the last time I went on mic was when I was playing as Mercy in a competitive match on Lijiang Tower. I hadn’t been using my mic for most of the match, but when I got attacked by an asshole for not healing enough (despite healing 8k at that point and doing my best with the other healer on our team that was focusing more on attacking than healing), I got on mic to tell him how much I had healed and that I wasn’t the problem, actually.

He then proceeded to call me a dirty whore and got super aggressive and hostile, and nobody was defending me, so when he said that, I just nodded and told them “Oh, I see how it is. Well, nice game!” and I purposely left the match, which I never usually do.

If it’s not that kind of interaction, then the other interaction in voice chat that I most vividly remember is playing on Eichenwalde with a team of dudes who seemed pretty nice, which made me felt confident going in voice chat and making callouts, strategizing, etc.

Almost immediately after I joined voice chat, this one guy started to fawn over my voice, telling me it was really cute and repeating some of the things I’d say, saying that he just loved my voice. He kept doing that and it was super distracting because I just wanted to focus on the game, but instead I was thinking about how much he was Othering me from the rest of the team.

It was the exact opposite of calling me a dirty whore; it was nice, even if flirtatious, but they both served the same purpose: to other me because I’m a woman. Any reason I should use voice chat for, like strategizing or asking for help since I tend to main supports and the enemy team often focuses me as a result, has never been a risk that compensates for the possible vitriol or othering I will experience.

You can never know—sometimes, a teammate may seem nice and not toxic, but then they’ll say something is “so gay” when we’re in 2018. And, because you can never know, I’d rather not put myself at risk. So that’s how I play Overwatch now: with my splitter cable so that I can listen to people talk but never speak myself. I’m rarely afraid to voice my own opinions, and you know me as someone who definitely doesn’t shy away from doing that, but when it comes to playing online games, I shut down. It’s a bit uncomfortable, because I’d like to speak. I’m used to it—but I can’t do it in Overwatch.

The only times I will join voice chat are when I know another woman is in there. And I’ve had it happen to me, when I used to go into voice chat more often than not, that me speaking leads to another woman in the team plugging in her mic later on and feeling comfortable in speaking. I have almost 1,000 hours played in Overwatch. Maybe less than 30 of those hours have involved me participating in voice chat. And 30 is really generous, frankly.

Natalie brings a whole new issue to the table here. An avid Overwatch player, Natalie takes competitive matches very seriously and tries to use voice chat as much as possible. Tragically, her voice is what makes her teammates either toxic or distracting—purely because she’s a woman. This issue extends the whole way up to professional play, with Shanghai Dragons’ Geguri being the only woman currently playing in the Overwatch League. Alongside the general toxicity that ruins an objectively great game for so many people is a culture founded upon gendered insults and misogyny. The worst thing about Overwatch

Don’t make a stellar teammate like Josh mute you. Aim to be Aimee. Treat Natalie with the same degree of respect that you’d afford your very own friends and family. Overwatchvoice chat is a feature designed to make a team game team-oriented. It’s not for bullying people. It’s for helping them.

We Got Our Mom to Review ‘Overwatch’ Skins

How Noughties Bro Culture Empowered Gaming’s Angriest Voices

The post ‘Overwatch’ Makes Voice Chat Essential, But is Winning Worth The Online Abuse? appeared first on FANDOM.



When is it worth hiring a tour guide?


Traveling the world and exploring the globe’s different cultures and cities really is something magnificent. It’s a way to step out of your bubble and expand your horizon by experiencing and seeing new things. You can explore the pyramids of Egypt, the amazing mountains of Machu Picchu in Peru, or Dubai’s spectacular skyscrapers. Unfortunately, we are not all natural explorers. Some of us have a hard time finding our way around a foreign city.

The streets and signs may lead you into a never-ending labyrinth. Even in this digital age where we can access any information, getting around and finding those hidden and beautiful spots to visit might still be very difficult. So why not hire a tour guide? It might sound old-fashioned, but tour guides really are the cheapest and best way to get yourself around a foreign city without having to walk those extra miles when you get lost, or spending an ungodly amount of money on expensive fares.

See the best sites

A tour guide is usually a well-rounded local who is familiar with every corner of the city you are visiting, and thus, is able to show you the most exclusive and unique places that Google probably doesn’t know about. You see, a local tour guide develops a natural skill of knowing the exact location of places that are truly embedded in the culture, and that might not be as “touristy.” We’re talking about places that aren’t crowded with tourists, overly expensive gift stores, or full of high-end cameras flashing you in the face. Instead, a tour guide will be able to introduce and guide you to the most interesting and sought after places a tourist could ever wish to visit that truly represent the culture.

They know the language

This is especially true when you are traveling across the world to a city where the people might not speak the English language very well. If you can’t communicate with the locals and ask questions, you’ll probably stick around the same center-city streets and see the same old buildings that every other traveler sees. Instead, invest in a tourist guide that not only takes you to the best places, but that is also able to answer any questions or concerns you might have during the trip.

They can answer your questions

Feel like asking when that building was built or what it was used for back in the day? Ask the tour guide! Don’t underestimate the value of having a tour guide who can answer questions and discuss concerns that are better off discussed, than ignored. This is even more important when you’re traveling alone. There are always great people in tour groups with whom you can bond and share experiences. You might make new friends and travel companions for your next destination!

We tend to rely so much on our smartphones and wi-fi to access for information about the “best hotels” and “5-star restaurants” in the city, that we ignore the most resourceful and insightful option we have, a tour guide.


The post When is it worth hiring a tour guide? appeared first on Worldation.



12.27.18 Flight cancellations and what to do; Are credit card annual fees worth it?

Clark tells you what to do in the case your flight is cancelled; Credit card annual fees are often said to be bad. But sometimes they can be worth it. Clark tells you how to judge whether a card with an annual fee is worth it for you or not.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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Is It Worth It: Moncler Jackets

Moncler has been making puffy jackets since the 1950s and they’ve been around for a while and they’ve become quite iconic. The classic versions of the puffy down jackets retail anywhere from $ 1100 to $ 1500 which is quite an investment so reason enough to determine whether it’s worth it or not.

Moncler History

Moncler is pronounced that way because it’s derived from the name of a town, Monestier-de-Clermont. If you want to learn how to properly pronounce other luxury brand names, please check out this video here.


Originally, Moncler was established as a maker of quilted sleeping bags in 1952. Even though they’re most well known for their puffy down jackets, they didn’t invent them, that honor actually goes to Eddie Bauer who came up with the idea in 1936.  Ever since its inception, Moncler produced down products but they were more utilitarian and meant for workers who were out on the mountain. Eventually, a French Mountaineer by the name of Lionel Terray approached Moncler and asked if they could make jackets for his expeditions. They accepted the challenge and from that point forward, they were the providers of exhibition gear for many mountaineering groups.

For example in 1954, Moncler outfitted the first crew that successfully climbed the K2. By 1968, Moncler had become so popular and well known that they were named the official supplier of the French National Ski Team.  With the spotlight on the company, Moncler decided to change their logo from the Mount Eguit to the cockerel which is still the Moncler logo today. The iconic Moncler puffy down jacket, as we know it today, came about to be in the 1980s. Young Italian men dubbed the paninari started wearing work wear such as the brightly colored puffy jackets from Moncler as well as timberland boots as part of their subculture.

Moncler responded to the trend by adding a shiny finish to their jackets as well as fur trimmings. In 2003, Moncler was purchased by the Italian entrepreneur Remo Ruffini and he moved their headquarters to Milan that remains today. Under new direction, Moncler decided to focus more on the fashion side of things rather than the expedition based quality segment. Because of that, they came up with the Gamme Rouge collection.

Vintage Moncler

At around at the same time, Giambattista Valli started designing for Moncler. Today, Moncler is truly a fashion brand that prices their products in the luxury range. Because of that, Moncler jackets are no longer target to sporty outdoorsman or expeditioners. Instead, they show up at Fashion Week and that’s the realm now.

Interestingly, they claim that they still focus on expedition gear, for some reason though, it’s not for sale. Nevertheless, Moncler puffy down jackets have become a true status symbol from many out there and as a consequence, they’re faked a lot. So obviously, Moncler has some history to it even though they’re now more focused on the fashion side of things.

Moncler Quality Hallmarks

So let’s look at the jacket, we bought two of their more iconic styles which are short and hip length puffy with a shiny satin-like finish. One is red, the other one is blue which also happens to be their brand color. With the finish and the colors, Moncler is intentionally bold in an area where usually navy and black solid dominate the landscape. Moncler jackets are known for their down filling which is very puffy and very insulating and warm. On their website, they claim to have a superior expertise in the down realm.

DIST certified tag on the inside of the down jacket

DIST Certified

All the down fitters using their jackets are DIST certified, that’s a protocol that claims to trace traceability quality and origin of the down. Interestingly, the trade market DIST is actually owned by Moncler so it’s not an independent agency but it’s their own quality control seal, therefore, the quality claims of the down is actually certified by a subsidiary of Moncler and not by an outside third party.

Moncler’s Down Cluster claim

710 Fill Power

They claim to use superior downs yet they use surprisingly few numbers to back those claims up. They claim that their down cluster content is at least 90% with 10% being other feathers. Now, the higher the pure down content, the more insulating the jacket and the higher the quality the jacket will be. To measure the quality of different down jacket compositions, there’s something called the fill power.

Fill power means as much as the volume occupied by the down feathers. An object with a higher fill power takes up more space meaning more air is trapped and therefore, the jacket is more insulating. Essentially, it means that you get more warmth while maintaining the same weight. The fill power of a Moncler down jacket is 710 which means it takes up 710 cubic inches for 30 grams of down which is about 1 ounce. Regular feathers have a fill power of only 300 versus the best quality down have a fill power of 900. Like I said, using waterfowl down would even enable you to get higher fill power numbers but it is not worth it commercially. So at the end of the day, 710 is a good fill number especially if you consider that the down is supposedly plucked only from dead animals.

Down feathers up close

Down Explained

Those are bird feathers that are very small and fine and flexible and because of that, when put together, they create air chambers which insulate both ways. On the one hand, they insulate from the cold air from the outside; on the other hand, they preserve the body heat which is very favorable for animals. Normally, goose downs are the most widely known quality down feathers.

There are others such as waterfowl but they’re usually not commercially used because even better, they’re more expensive. Also, the highest quality down feathers through geese have to be plucked from live animals. Later pluckings are better because the down feathers are even finer than the earlier ones and therefore, they insulate even more. However, plucking the down feathers from live geese means they suffer from extreme pain and stress which is just animal cruelty.

If you follow our channels, you know that we always look for the utmost and quality, however, in this case, we would argue that you should protect the animals and go with down feathers that are plucked from dead geese because they’re still very warm and very functional and you are just not treating animals in a cruel way.

Moncler's iconic red down jacket
Moncler’s iconic red down jacket

Nylon Shell

One of the iconic things of Moncler, it’s a very dense nylon that is extremely lightweight and only weighs in at 33 grams per square meter. It’s also woven in a very fine way so you don’t end up with feathers or down poking through the shell. This high density lacquered nylon that is shiny is something that is pretty unique to Moncler and not many other brands use it.

So if you would like it, it’s a strong reason to invest in the Moncler jacket. If you look at the finishings of the jacket such as the snap buttons, the zippers, and all the metal parts, I’m not too impressed. They seem to be made out of Zamak which is an alloy out of zinc, aluminum, magnesium, and copper. While really popular in the industry, it’s really inexpensive and solid brass is, in my opinion, a lot better. If you look at the zipper, it’s injection molded plastic and the zipper pulley is Zamak again but overall, a zipper out of the highest quality materials would be machined out of metal with metal teeth, would be a lot smoother, and would be higher in quality.

Moncler jacket zippers
Moncler jacket zippers

Overall, I think the trimmings don’t feel cheap but they’re definitely not the highest quality, they’re more average. I have to say though, the construction of the jacket is really neat, the seams are all straight, there are no loose threads, no down poking through, and it appears to be a quality product right out of box. It also comes with elastic inserts, cuffs that can be tightened, as well as adjusters at the bottom so you can ensure no cold wind comes in.

SRS wearing the blue Moncler jacket
SRS wearing the blue Moncler jacket

Boxy & Simple Fit

It makes you look like a Michelin Man. The sizing is quite strange, they use a numbering system and the jacket I’m wearing here is size 5 even though that corresponds an extra-extra-large, I would say it’s more like a large to extra large in other brands. So if you want a Moncler jacket, size up! Even though the size is larger in their lineup, the sleeves are quite short which is something I don’t like because that’s where you end up with a cold air.

The Moncler barcode

Barcode On The Inside Jacket

Because Moncler jackets are so expensive, they’re faked all over the place and in order to verify that you have a genuine product, Moncler jackets have a barcode on the inside jacket. You can simply scan it with a scanner app which gets you to a website and once you sign up, it’ll tell you what name the jacket should be and what style and if it’s a different style, you know it was copied and it’s a fake or if the number is wrong, it will just tell you to get in touch with support and you know what’s wrong or a fake, as well. 


In terms of weight, it doesn’t tell you exactly how heavy it is but our jackets are really lightweight, just take a look. So if they’re lightweight, do they keep you warm? Yes, absolutely. As we learned before, with a fill power where air is trapped, it definitely keeps you warm. 

SRS wearing a red Moncler jacket
SRS wearing a red Moncler jacket

Maintenance & Care

I haven’t washed mine yet but the instructions seem pretty clear, it’s made to be washed but I could see how eventually, the very thin nylon shell will suffer and get destroyed simply because it’s nylon, it’s not kevlar or something like that and it’s just so thin.

Is a Moncler Puffy Down Jacket Worth It?

Well, I think undeniably for a puffy down jacket, they have very special features such as a shiny finish, they have a good fill power, use quality down, and you don’t end up with a cheap product. The finishes are nice, the trimmings are just average but personally, my big issue is the value. You’re paying a lot of money for something that you can get for less from other companies, at least in terms of functionality. If you buy a Moncler jacket, you definitely pay more for the brand.

Alternative Options

For example, North Face has a jacket with a 700 fill power and a nylon shell that is slightly heavier, 54 grams a square meter versus 33 grams of Moncler but it only retails for 249. On the other hand, Patagonia’s Fitz Rroy jacket has an 800 fill power and a lifetime guarantee and cost about $ 450.  So is it worth it if you buy primarily for the performance? I would say no, why?

You can find many other brands with either the same or a higher fill power for a lower cost and their down is certified by third parties, not by themselves so you can trust a little more into what you’re getting.

On the other hand, if you buy primarily for the status, the style, the loud colors, and the shiny finish, and you like to be fashion-forward and you don’t mind a price tag, then yes, by all means, invest in the Moncler jacket. Like I said, other brands rarely do that satin finish if that’s what you like, go for it.

My Personal Take On Moncler Jackets

It’s not worth it because I simply don’t see the value. I’m also not a big fan of the shiny finish and at the end of the day, it still makes me look like a Michelin Man which is not very flattering at all. If you want to be stylish, instead invest in an overcoat for about the same price, you can almost go custom, you can get something that’s really warm and looks a lot better than a Moncler jacket does.

What’s your take on Moncler Jackets? Feel free to drop a comment below!

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18 fashionable winter boots that are totally worth the investment

18 fashionable winter boots that are totally worth the investment

18 fashionable winter boots that are totally worth the investment

Whether you love winter or just tolerate it, we all can agree that finding the proper footwear to survive the season is the ultimate task. Between price, style, warmth and comfort, you can often find yourself searching high and low for the perfect pair of boots to carry you through the winter. Oftentimes we find ourselves compromising one of more of these things on our hunt. Look no more—there are plenty of winter boots out there for you to choose from that check off all of the requirements on your list.

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean that you have to throw on clunky boots that clash with every outfit. This year, make it your duty to find some fun, yet practical winter boots that you’ll love putting on time and time again. Here are 18 winter boots that you should add to your footwear arsenal, from sneaker-inspired booties to fur-lined calf boots.

1. Bernardo 1946 Winnie Rain Lace Up Boot

Bernardo 1946
Bernardo 1946 | $ 155

These lace-up, weather-friendly boots make fashion and winter footwear synonymous.

2. UGG Classic Short Leather Weatherproof Boot

UGG Australa
UGG Australia | $ 220

This twist on one of our favorite Ugg boots are just what you need to get through whatever the winter throws or snows at you.

3. Palladium Pampa Cuff Waterproof Lux St

Palladium | $ 165

These strong but lightweight boots are the perfect companion for all of your winter explorations. They’re padded for extra warmth, so no need to fret about the cold.

4. Steve Madden Weston Wedge Bootie

Steve Madden | $ 99.99

These cozy, chic, sneaker-inspired wedged booties are versatility at its best.

5. UGG Australia Isley Genuine Shearling Waterproof Patent Pom Bootie

UGG Australia | $ 249.95

This shiny boots finished with a pom-pom will spread cheer way past holiday season.

6. Carlos by Carlos Santana Syracuse Bootie

Carlos by Carlos Santana | $ 49.99

Faux fur anyone? The super warm lining of these ankle boots is just the twist you needed on a pair of lace-up ankle booties.

7. The North Face Raedonda Boot Sneaker

The North Face
The North Face | $ 150

These high-cut sneaker boots are the epitome of all-day comfort.

8. Cole Haan StudioGrand Waterproof Booties

Cole Haan | $ 180 original price

If you love glitz and glamour, these shiny gold booties are the perfect shoes to protect you from the many elements of winter.

9. Marc Fisher LTD Izzie Genuine Shearling Lace-Up Boot


The shearling detailing make for the perfect transition from fall to winter.

10. UGG Australia Brystl Waterproof Insulated Boot

UGG Australia | $ 249.95

These insulated boots are warm but never bulky. Trust us on this.

11. Aerosoles Binocular Winter Boots

Aerosoles | $ 159 Original Price

These boots were made for walking through the snow with your head held high.

12. The Muck Boot Company Waterproof Liberty Alpine Boot

The Muck Boot Company
The Muck Boot Company | $ 155

Who doesn’t love functional fashion? These 100% waterproof boots offer the best of both worlds.

13. BEARPAW Inka Boots

BEARPAW | $ 59.99

No need to hibernate this Winter season. These fleece lined boots can handle anything from freezing temperatures to heavy snow.

14. Ryka Aurora Sneaker Boot

Ryka | $ 69.99

If you haven’t gotten the memo, sneaker boots are totally in this winter.

15. Blundstone Thermal Boots

Blundstone | $ 214.94

Slushy puddles are no match for these waterproof and weather-proof boots. Your feet will thank you.

16. GUESS Ducksy Quilted Boots

GUESS | $ 139 original price

Pairing these boots with your favorite puffer jacket is a recipe for winter fashion success.

17. Cougar Donato Leather Mid Boot

Cougar | $ 159.99

Not only are these cute boots waterproof, they have a slip proof bottom to help you avoid any winter weather mishaps.

18. Cougar Cheyenne Deertan Winter Boots

Cougar | $ 175

Dress these up or dress them down. No matter how you rock them, your feet will be completely protected and comfy.

The post 18 fashionable winter boots that are totally worth the investment appeared first on HelloGiggles.



32 Deals That Make Waking Up From Your Food Coma Worth it on Black Friday

By now, you’ve flipped through the Sunday paper and pulled out the Black Friday ads. Or, because it’s 2018, you simply visited your favorite stores’ websites to peruse electronic flyers.

But over the years at The Penny Hoarder, we’ve learned one important lesson: Just because a store tells you an item is a great deal doesn’t mean it actually is.

Sale ads often inflate the original prices on items that have been discounted in order to show you a better “percent off” price.

Sometimes those discounts are still a great deal. But it takes some extra research to know for sure.

This year, we want to help you save time and money on your holiday shopping.

We pored over the Black Friday ads for 11 major stores: Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, Best Buy, Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, Kmart and Sears.  

We took note of items that are frequently discounted during the holiday season — the ones that stores advertise as being 40-50% off. Then, we checked those sale prices, not just across other Black Friday advertisements but also against the manufacturers’ usual prices.

A few questions you’re probably asking out loud to your screen:

Why aren’t any kids’ toys listed?

Most children’s toys aren’t expensive enough to warrant going out of your way to get a markdown at a store you don’t usually shop at. Stick with the convenience of your usual spot for kids’ toys, and you’ll reap worthy savings.

Why aren’t any clothes listed?

Most large discount and major department stores advertise sales on their own brands during Black Friday, so you can’t compare the same exact item among stores. If you like a certain store’s brand of clothing for kids or adults, you’ll be able to make the best judgment on its sales.

Where are all the TVs and laptops?

Black Friday specials on TVs and laptops are almost never worth a glance. These deals are usually special ordered for the shopping weekend and offer less robust specifications than the options you’ll find at other times of year.

Based on our very particular criteria, we came up with this short list of the best Black Friday deals for 2018.

Best Deals on Home Gadgets

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo (Retail: $ 99.99)

Best Buy: $ 69.99

Target: $ 69.00

Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation (Retail: $ 39.99)

BJ’s and Best Buy: $ 19.99

Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation (Retail: $ 49.99)

Best Buy: $ 24.99

Target: $ 24.00

Amazon Echo 2nd Generation (Retail: $ 99.99)

Best Buy: $ 69.99

Target: $ 69.00

Amazon Fire TV Stick (Retail: $ 39.99)

Target, Best Buy, BJ’s, Amazon: $ 24.99

Google Home (Retail: $ 129)

Best Buy: $ 79.99

Target: $ 79.00

Google Home Hub with Google Assistant (Retail: $ 149)

Walmart and Best Buy: $ 99.99

Target: $ 99.00

Google Home Mini (Retail: $ 49)

Target, Best Buy, Walmart: $ 25

If you want to save even more, then head to Costco and stock up with a 3-pack for $ 99.99 in store or $ 69.99 online.

Roku Ultra Streaming Media Player (Retail: $ 99.99)

Target and Best Buy: $ 49.99

Roku Streaming Stick (Retail: $ 49.99)

Target and Best Buy: $ 29.99

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth Speaker (Retail: $ 99.95)

Target and Best Buy: $ 59.99

Best Deals on Small Kitchen Appliances

KitchenAid Stand Mixers

KitchenAid Stand Mixer Model KV25G0XSL (Retail: $ 499.99)

Best Buy and Target: $ 219.99

KitchenAid Stand Mixer Model K45SSOB (Retail: $ 339.99)

Macy’s: $ 189.99

Ninja Professional Blender Model BL610 (Retail: $ 99.99)

Target: $ 59.99

Keurig K-Elite Single Serve Coffee Maker (Retail: $ 169.99)

Best Buy, Kohl’s, Target: $ 129.99

Best Deals on Small Electronics

Apple iPad Pro

Photo courtesy of Apple

Beats PowerBeats Wireless Headphones (Retail: $ 199.95)

Target: $ 89.99

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones (Retail: $ 199.95)

Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Target: $ 99.99

Walmart: $ 99.00

Philips Norelco OneBlade Pro Wet/Dry Trimmer (Retail: $ 79.95)

Best Buy, Kohl’s, Target: $ 39.99

Philips Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 Rechargeable Toothbrush (Retail: $ 59.99)

Target: $ 34.99

Best Deals on Vacuums and Carpet Cleaners

iRobot Roomba 600 Series

Dyson Ball Animal 2 Bagless Upright Vacuum (Retail: $ 499.99)

Best Buy and Kohl’s: $ 299.99

Dyson V7 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum (Retail: $ 399.99)

Best Buy and Kohl’s: $ 249.99

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum (Retail: $ 299.99)

Kohl’s: $ 199.99

iRobot Roomba 675 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum (Retail: $ 299.99)

Best Buy and Target: $ 199.99

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner (Retail: $ 199.99)

Best Buy and Target: $ 99.99

Best Deals on Health and Fitness Gadgets

Fitbit Charge 2

Photo courtesy of Fitbit

Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS (Retail: $ 279)

Target: $ 199.99

Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS Plus Cellular (Retail: $ 379)

Target: $ 299.99

Fitbit Alta HR Heart Rate Wristband Smart Watch (Retail: $ 129.95)

BJ’s: $ 79.99

Best Buy and Target: $ 79.95

Fitbit Versa Smartwatch (Retail: $ 199.95)

BJ’s: $ 149.99

Best Buy and JCPenney $ 149.95

Sam’s Club: $ 149.86

Target and Walmart: $ 149.00

Fitbit Charge 3 Advanced Fitness Tracker (Retail: $ 149.95)

BJ’s: $ 119.99

Best Buy, JCPenney, Target: $ 119.95

Fitbit Ace Activity Tracker for Kids (Retail: $ 99.95)

Kohl’s: $ 59.99

Best Buy: $ 59.95

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch 48mm (Retail: $ 299.99)

Best Buy and Target: $ 199.99

Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 Activity Tracker for Kids (Retail: $ 79)

Target: $ 49.99

That’s all folks! But If you’re not seeing the items on your shopping list, then check out our tips for spotting the best Black Friday Deals.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. Think she missed an awesome deal? Share the details on Twitter @lisatella.

Jessica Gray contributed to this article.

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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Is It Worth It: Hermes Ties

In a world of iconic menswear, men’s ties are certainly up there with the Burberry trench coat.  Generally, you know you’re doing something right if an entire industry is here to fake your products and that’s the case with Hermès ties.

In the US, Hermès ties have a price tag of a $ 180. In Europe, it’s a little less. In Australia, it’s a little more but overall, it’s right around that price point. By the way, the brand is called Hermès , not HERMIS and to learn more about how to pronounce luxury brands please check out this video here.

Hermès History

Hermès is a brand who was founded in 1837 by the German-born Thierry Hermès . Initially, it was a manufacturer of harnesses and brittles for the carriage trade. By 1855, they won their first prize for their quality merchandise and soon thereafter, they would start to expand their products and include things like saddle and leather goods. Now I could fill hours with the intricate history of Hermès but in terms of ties and silk, the home of the Hermès silk since 1937 has been the city of Lyon.

Dames Blanches

Dames Blanches by Hermès 

The first silk design Hermès created was actually not for a tie but for a scarf. They are probably even more famous for women than the ties are for men. They’re typically in 70 centimeters by 70 centimeters. The very first pattern showed some women playing a game; the pattern was called Dames Blanches. In 1978, the fifth generation of family owners came in and Jean-Louis Dumas became the chairman of Hermès as well as the creative director. Under his reign, Hermès switched to focus on silk products, leather goods, and ready-to-wear goods. Over the years, Hermès has produced thousands of designs and they’ve become iconic, very recognized and worn by Wall Street bankers, London businessmen, Russian oligarchs, or emerging Chinese upper-classmen.

Jean-Louis Dumas

Jean-Louis Dumas

Is An Hermes Tie Worth The Price?

Well, first we have to determine what you get for that money. The tie production, especially for the printed ties, is vertically integrated. Hermès has their own silkworm plantations in southern Brazil and there they control the spinning of the yarn, the weaving of the yarn, the designs of the silk, the printing, as well as the sales, all the way to the customer. All designs are exclusively designed for Hermès and you can’t find them elsewhere unless they’re knockoffs, of course.

Every season, ten new ones are added as well as old ones are reissued and overall, they’ve probably created more than 75,000 different color schemes. So between the designs and the colors, there’s really a rich archive. Hermès is known for their printed ties especially for their often whimsical animal print ties, horse-inspired prints, as well as geometrical prints, and small micropatterns.

Printed Hermes ties

Printed Hermès ties

Pro: Hermès Uses Silk Screen Printing

Back in the day, it was actually done with hand blocks, today, that is not done anymore. Today, they use screens which are a lot more labor-intensive and therefore more costly than digital printing.

So why does Hermès still use silk screen printing? They believe it produces richer colors in a more high-quality product and I couldn’t agree with them more which is why we, at Fort Belvedere, make all of our silks in a screen print and not digital print. All famous Hermès ties are printed on a rather lightweight silk twill that has a little bit of gum added back to it so it has a really soft touch that is not dry at all. When you touch an Hermès tie, it has a very typical feel, it’s not super gummy like old madder silk ties, but it’s also not like a jacquard woven tie, it’s something in between, that is special for Hermes and that they want to keep secret which is one of the reasons that’s vertically integrated. A true connoisseur will likely always be able to determine whether it’s a fake or not based on the way the silk feels in their hand.

All Hermes ties are silk screen printed

All Hermès ties are silk screen printed

It’s hard to describe but it’s something you have to develop over time. Every Hermès tie is made out of two panels of silk, not three, like most ties but also not like one like very expensive ties. The only difference is basically that you need more silk, the fewer pieces you use for each individual tie. Making a tie out of two pieces is totally fine and has no impact on the quality.

Pro: The Fabric Is Cut Intricately

The next step, the fabric is cut. Hermès ties often feature specific model numbers with the logo printed in the silk and because of that, they have to be cut very accurately otherwise, the finished product won’t have lines that are very neat. That’s another way to make it difficult for fakers because often times, they get these little details wrong but Hermes always gets them right.

Once a tie is cut, you add two layers of interlining that gives the tie the feel and the springiness. Hermès ties are three-fold ties and they’re hand sewn with a thread that is a hundred and seventy centimeters long, that’s about five foot and seven inches. All Hermes ties contain a little loop at the bottom and because that loop stitch ties are flexible. Many quality ties are sewn in that way so I’m not surprised to see that from an Hermès tie.

A closer look at an Hermes tie

A closer look at an Hermès tie

Pro: Hermès Pays Great Attention to Detail & Quality

It’s even little things such as the label which sits eight inches from the bottom and is sewn on in four spots or the model number in this little box which is neatly aligned with the edge and not crooked. Also, that keeper tag is woven and not printed and has very specific elements that are different with the different ties. So a woven tie will have a different label than a printed animal tie which is different again to a heavy printed twill silk.

The same is true for the backside tip lining of the tie; with printed ties, it’s a solid color versus with woven ties, it’s a kind of golden H symbol that you see and again, every tie is slightly different and only Hermès knows what they do for each specific tie. Fakers, on the other hand, don’t and so they often get it mixed up. So objectively, when you get an Hermès tie, you get a high-quality product.

Con: Limited Fold & Width Options

What you don’t get is a sevenfold, eightfold, nine-fold, or tenfold tie. You also don’t get a tie that comes in very many widths. By default, most Hermès ties are eight centimeters wide, they have some that are seven centimeters, and some ties that are less and in this day and age, it’s hard to find a nine centimeter Hermès tie.

The Hermes brand logo

The Hermès brand logo on the keeper tag

Con: Limited Length Options

Their general tie is about 60 inches long or 152 centimeters, I say about because a tie is always cut on the bias which makes it very flexible but when you lay it down it’s a little stretchy and so you never get the exact measurement from each tie to another. Online, they have a very small section of ties that are longer but they do not have ties for shorter men which is a shame because if you’re a shorter man, you need a tie that it’s shorter otherwise, you end up with a large tie knot that simply doesn’t flatter your silhouette Because of that at Fort Belvedere, we created ties in short regular and long and not just for certain models but for all the models.

A variety of Hermes ties

A variety of Hermès ties

Con: Limited Variety

You’re also somewhat limited in terms of variety with Hermès ties. Yes, they have many patterns, many prints, they come in quite a few colors, at the same time, they always print it on the same silk twill. If you look at Hermès’ woven ties, they’re usually small jacquard patterns, some geometrical patterns, the occasional stripe, but you don’t find elaborate stripes there, you don’t find repp ties, you don’t find grenadine ties or mohair ties, wool ties, they sometimes have cashmere ties, but again, it’s very limited. On the other hand, if you want to experiment more with your tie silks and maybe have a shantung fabric or a grenadine wool silk mohair blend, Hermes is not the brand for you.



Should You Buy An Hermes Tie?

If you’re someone who really likes printed whimsical motifs, these little animal prints, then Hermès is definitely the way to go. Also, if you’re looking for more unusual colors such as fuchsia ties or chartreuse green, maybe some orange tones, Hermès will likely have a shade that you can get. Also, if you’re a Wall Street banker or if you work in finance and you want to fit in with your company culture, an Hermès tie is certainly the way to do that.

That being said, personally, I’m not a big fan of whimsical motifs on ties and I prefer different textures so Hermes ties are not the ideal tie for me. I have a bunch of them including vintage ones and new ones but frankly, I don’t wear them a whole lot anymore. The ones I wear the most are probably the woven ties, they are somewhat simple and don’t look like a typical Hermes tie. With many other luxury products, you pay a lot for the name but you get average to mediocre quality.

Hermes tie box

Hermes tie box

On the other hand, with an Hermès tie, you certainly pay for the name but you also get a quality product. On top of that, genuine Hermès ties usually yield quite high prices even when they’re used. Of course, they have to be in pristine condition which ties rarely are if you actually wear them and on top of that, you have to prove that it’s actually a genuine product which can be very hard unless you have the specific receipt with a photo of the tie.

Of course, if you give all the Hermès ties you don’t want any longer to a store, they have to mark them up and ultimately, you don’t get much for used Hermès ties anyways. Also if you’re shorter than 6 foot or 183 centimeters, Hermes ties may be too long for you and all you can do is tie a really big knot which may often not work with your head size. Also, if you’re really tall and you want more variety in your ties, Hermes is not the right place for you.

Different Hermes ties

Different Hermès ties

Also, building up an entire Hermès tie collection can be rather expensive. If you buy 12 ties, you’re already down more than $ 2,000. Now they certainly use high-quality materials including their silk but when I was looking for silks for our Fort Belvedere ties, I met Weavers who would actually produce jacquard woven silks for Hermès and we get ourselves from the same vendor at the same quality standards yet Fort Belvedere ties cost a lot less especially if you buy more and get the volume discount. Hermès , on the other hand, doesn’t offer any volume discount.


At the end of the day, to me personally, Hermès ties are mostly not worth it simply because I prefer a 9-centimeter width and I prefer different textures. On top of that, I want ties in different lengths because depending on an outfit and the rise of my trousers I don’t always want a consistent tie length and Hermès is not able to deliver that to me.

That being said, if you’re about 6 foot tall or 180 centimeters, Hermès ties will work for you in height and if you like their motifs and their flashy colors it’s definitely an option for you. Bear in mind that you can always sell them at a higher price if you don’t like them anymore. Of course, only if you can prove that it’s a genuine product and not a fake.

What do you think of Hermès ties? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Gentleman’s Gazette


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Little Drummer Girl Is a Brisk Spy Thriller That’s Worth Your Time

“Terrorism is theater,” wrote Brian Jenkins, an expert on the topic, in 1974. John le Carré’s novel The Little Drummer Girl takes this famous–and, in 21st century America, self-evident–observation to its logical extreme, following an actor recruited to infiltrate a terrorist cell that is planning its next lethal show.

In AMC’s adaptation of the book, a co-production with the BBC that will air on three consecutive nights starting Nov. 19, the year is 1979 and the actor is a young Londoner named Charlie (Florence Pugh). Despite her bewitching performances, she’s still awaiting her big break when she meets a mystery man (Alexander Skarsgard’s Becker) in Greece. He whisks her away, supposedly for a private getaway but really to recruit her for a renegade squad of Israeli spies scheming to take down a Palestinian terrorist leader. The group’s obsessive boss, Kurtz (Michael Shannon), fancies himself a director in the “theater of the real,” and he’s cast Charlie as his leading lady. She has a history of pro-Palestine politics, but the team is betting that her sympathies will only lend authenticity to her charade.

As in all le Carré stories, there’s a lot more going on here–enough to mire the first third of The Little Drummer Girl in exposition without providing much insight into the characters. Only after Charlie’s mission begins does thriller master Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), who directed the miniseries, pick up the pace.

But later episodes are worth the wait. Suspense builds against a backdrop of ’70s interiors so bright, they’re sinister. Charlie’s moral dilemma, fraught by her feelings for Becker, speaks volumes about British interference in the Middle East. There are nuanced characters on both sides. Yet it’s Pugh–an actor playing an actor improvising her way through the role of a lifetime–who makes the show work. By capturing Charlie’s ambivalence, she creates a truly unpredictable heroine.

This appears in the November 19, 2018 issue of TIME.
Entertainment – TIME


Say What Now? Mom Steals $1,600 Worth of Cookies From Her Daughter’s Girl Scout Troop

31-year-old Noel Hines has been accused of of stealing over $ 1,600 worth of Girl Scout cookies from her daughter’s local troop.

The mother allegedly accepted a large cookie order to sell for the troop in March but when funds were due, the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio claim they never received a payment.

via NYDN:

Girl Scout officials and police then tried to contact Hines for six months but were never successful.

“That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” North College Hill police wrote in a Facebook post.

On Tuesday, Hines was arrested for unrelated charges and charged with theft at the North College Hill Mayor’s court, police said.

According to the Girl Scouts of America’s cookie manual, cookies are $ 4 dollars each — making Hines responsible for around 400 boxes of cookies.

The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio said situations regarding theft in their troop are “infrequent” and “unfortunate.”

“When we have evidence that an adult misuses troop funds, we pursue vigorously and, when appropriate, contact law enforcement to recover as much money for the troop as possible. This is not something we take lightly,” the company said in a statement.

Hines was arraigned and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 28.

So — do we think she ate all $ 1,600 worth of cookies?

The post Say What Now? Mom Steals $ 1,600 Worth of Cookies From Her Daughter’s Girl Scout Troop appeared first on lovebscott – celebrity news.

lovebscott – celebrity news


For stars, Super Bowl performances might not be worth the headaches

The Super Bowl halftime show was originally seen as a clever way to capitalize upon the world’s biggest TV stage. For the NFL, it offered the chance to retain more of the game’s audience during the extended break, and maybe increase tune-in among younger viewers. For artists, it was a massive promotional opportunity. Win-win. – RSS Channel – Entertainment


Canelo Alvarez signs 5-year, 11-fight deal worth minimum $365 million with DAZN

As the old saying goes, as one door closes, another one opens. Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions stable of fighters, including Canelo Alvarez, the unified middleweight world champion and boxing’s biggest superstar, have long been stalwarts of HBO. But with the premium cable network’s recent announcement that after 45 years of putting on most of the biggest fights in boxing it was bowing out of the sport at the end of the year, they were in need of a new broadcast home — and they have landed a very lucrative one with new sports streaming service DAZN through 2023. In a record-shattering deal finalized early Wednesday morning, Alvarez signed a five-year, 11-fight deal worth a minimum of $ 365 million with DAZN, which only launched in the United States in September. It will commence with his move up to super middleweight to challenge secondary world titlist Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York, where they will meet face-to-face at the…
ABC News: Sports


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

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

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

But reality is a much different show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How They Started Blending Finances


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Teamwork Helped Them Crush Their Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What About the Kids?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debt-Free Now — So What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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