If building up your savings account feels just about as likely as finding the cure to cancer, then it’s time to reevaluate your finances. While saving money isn’t always easy, it’s not as complicated as you might think. What it requires is a keen awareness of personal priorities and a game plan to help you reach your goals.
This 30-day money challenge provides simple, daily steps you can take to analyze your current financial state while tapering the outward flow of money from your accounts. Best of all? You don’t have to (completely) cut back on little indulgences like your daily morning coffee. Rather, the goal is to help you re-prioritize your expenses and plan ahead when making purchases, making it easier to save money without completely disrupting your life.
Before you kick off the 30-day program, familiarize yourself with each of the challenges. Some require more planning and forethought, while others require extra time. Track your savings using a spreadsheet or notebook so at the end of the month you can accurately assess your results. Good luck, and happy savings!
Christina and Tarek El Moussa must have really caused a shit storm for HGTV when they split up. Their show, Flip or Flop, is massively popular, but a big part of it working out is the fact that the El Moussas are a happy family who all work together. So much for that fairy tale.
And so there have been a lot of rumors flying around about the future of the show. Some have said that HGTV is forcing the El Moussas to stay married or risk being sued for breach of contract. Others have said things are getting progressively more hostile on the set and that the El Moussas spend filming time verbally abusing each other. Fans have wondered about the future of the show now that its co-hosts have announced their divorce to the world and all the magic is gone. They’re filming Season 7 right now, but there’s been no word about future seasons after that.
HGTV just came up with a solution: Flip or Flop is getting spinoffs in five different cities. Apparently, HGTV isn’t taking any chances and making sure it has plenty of backup couples in the event of another El Moussa-level divorce scandal.
Obviously, HGTV isn’t admitting that, and execs at the network insist they had already planned all the spinoffs before the El Moussas ruined their perfect-couple image and pretty much signed a death warrant for their show.
“We’ve been building this franchise for over a year and a half,” a network insider told Us Weekly. “We’re thrilled to bring new chapters, new stories and new talent to complement a series that’s been a big success.”
The spinoffs will take place in Las Vegas, Texas, Atlanta, Chicago and Nashville. Vegas will be the first to premiere on April 6. The show will feature local house-flipping couple Bristol and Aubrey Marunde, who in stark contrast to the El Moussas, insist they never fight about anything.
If we’re being really honest here, Law & Order: SVU is nearly always painful to watch. Not because the show isn’t good, of course – it’s fantastic – but, rather, because the subject matter can truly be gut-wrenching. This week’s episode, a domestic abuse case with a twist, proved to be particularly hard to wrap your head around.
Perhaps it resonated with me in such a powerful way because the state I live in, South Carolina, ranks terribly where domestic violence is concerned: a woman is killed by a man in this state at a rate of one every 12 days. As recently as last year, the murder rate for women here was more than twice the national average.
Domestic abuse is a serious problem, and yet there are only 16 domestic violence shelters in the state – meaning hundreds of at-risk women and children are turned away because of lack of room and resources.
What does all of this have to do with this week’s episode of SVU? A lot.
The episode centers around an elite youth hockey league, shortly after a boy on the team named Jack misses a game-winning goal. After the game, he collapses walking to his car, where his mother discovers evidence that he has been sexually assaulted.
At first Jack acts as though he doesn’t remember what happened, so the detectives go to talk to the coach. He admits there are two boys on the team nicknamed the “Bash Brothers” who can get pretty rowdy.
When they are questioned, one of the boys cracks under the pressure and admits that they only held Jack down – it was another teammate named Kyle who sodomized Jack with a hockey stick.
Horrible, I know. This is where the part of me that is a mother of two children feels like someone just sucker punched me. How can we possibly protect our kids from all the evil in the world, especially when that evil is hiding in plain sight as friends and peers?
But, as it is wont to do, the plot thickens.
Upon speaking to Kyle and his family, it becomes abundantly clear that Kyle has been physically abused for a prolonged period of time by his father. Unfortunately, Kyle’s mother is doubling down on her “he’s a good man who loves his family” defense, so there’s little the detectives can do at this point.
When they go back to the hospital to speak with Jack, they learn he died from an infection shortly before their arrival. They then get a call that Kyle’s father just beat the hell out of Kyle’s older brother, Adam.
But Adam recorded the entire thing on his phone, giving the detectives the ammunition they need to bring the dad in. However, they still need Kyle to get his father to admit that he told Kyle to assault Jack. After Carisi opens up about a bully he didn’t confront in school who later killed someone, Kyle agrees.
When Kyle’s dad meets him at the rink, Kyle manages to get him to openly admit what he had encouraged his son to do. With that, the SVU team comes in and carts the monster off.
Like so many episodes in the SVU canon, this one is incredibly important because it calls attention to an issue that no one likes to talk about: domestic abuse.
It makes people uncomfortable. They tend to look the other way or, like Jack’s father fesses up to, feel like it’s none of their business. And while most people are already made uncomfortable by this epidemic thinking of it as an issue between men and women, the tragic reality is that children often suffer from the trickle-down or directly from domestic abuse themselves.
It’s a problem we should be talking about and raising awareness about (not to mention violence and sexually-charged hazing among boys and young men). If someone has spoken up about Kyle’s dad prior to the incident in this episode, little Jack might still be alive.
And that’s just a fictionalized TV narrative. It isn’t too much of a stretch to think that there are a lot of real-life Jacks living in very real danger right now, just waiting for someone to be a voice for them.
You’ve probably heard that having a strong male influence is important in a young boy’s life, but it’s equally important for daughters to have one as well. A positive father-daughter relationship can have a huge impact on a young girl’s life and even determine whether or not she develops into a strong, confident woman.
A father’s influence in his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, self-image, confidence and opinions of men.
“How Dad approaches life will serve as an example for his daughter to build off of in her own life, even if she chooses a different view of the world,” says Michael Austin, associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University and editor of Fatherhood – Philosophy for Everyone: The Dao of Daddy.
“What matters in the father-daughter relationship is that Dad seeks to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own shortcomings so that she has a realistic and positive example of how to deal with the world. He should try to model a reflective approach to life’s big questions so that she can seek to do the same,” he adds.
Dads and daughters: From infant to toddler
We now live in a culture where Dad is an equal partner in care giving. From day one, dads are encouraged to be hands-on, changing diapers, giving baths, putting Baby to sleep and calming her cries. That presence and effort is the beginning of a very important relationship.
According to Austin, this quality time together is crucial at all stages of a girl’s life.
“Dads need to spend time with their infant daughter, taking care of her physical needs and supporting her Mom,” he explains. And once the little lady starts toddling around, “[i]t’s essential that Dad gets down on the floor – on her level – and plays with her,” Austin says.
Fathers and daughters: From tween to teen
It’s those pesky “hormonal” years that can often have dads shying away from their moody and sometimes standoffish daughter. When there’s a tween girl in the house, “[d]ads should focus on cultivating a trusting relationship so that their daughters feel secure talking with them about what’s going on in their lives,” Austin explains. “When necessary, dads should apologize and ask for forgiveness, as this both shows respect and love to our daughters and heals the hurts that are inevitable in daily life together.”
As a girl continues to grow and her teen years become fraught with complicated issues, dads should continue to work on building a trusting relationship, give affection and support her as she learns more about who she is and what kind of person she wants to become, Austin says.
“It’s imperative that, no matter what, dads avoid the temptation to pull away or withdraw during this sometimes challenging stage of growing up.”
A dad’s involvement in his daughter’s life is a crucial ingredient in the development of a young woman’s self-esteem. Austin identifies positive elements of “common sense” parenting for dads so they can help support their daughter’s self-image and curb any possibility of low self-esteem: Verbal encouragement, being consistently present in her life, being alert and sensitive to her feelings, taking time to listen to her thoughts and taking an active interest in her hobbies.
“It’s important to actually do these things, which can sometimes be quite challenging,” Austin adds. Direct involvement and encouragement by her father will help diminish a girl’s insecurity and increase her confidence in her own abilities.
How dads influence their daughter’s relationships
The type of men that women date and have long-term relationships with are also directly related to the kind of relationship a girl has with her father. Obviously, the hope is that the father figure in a girl’s life will aim to skew that young lady’s opinions of men in a positive way.
“He must, first and foremost, treat his daughter with respect and love. Whether or not he is married to or still together with his daughter’s mom, showing respect to her mother is essential as well,” explains Austin. “He must also value women as human beings, and not as persons to be used. Daughters will see what their dads believe about women by how they value and respect women, or by how they fail to do so.”
If you’ve ever attempted to write a thoughtful, appropriate Valentine’s Day card, only to wind up with a million pieces of paper ripped up at your feet – this one is for you.
Valentine’s Day messages are rough! You don’t want to go overboard and freak out someone you just start dating – but if you’ve been with someone for a long time who really means a lot to you, you don’t want to write out a card that might come off as trite. The good news is you can be romantic – and not cheesy – with a perfect little quote or phrase in a personalized Valentine’s Day card.
Whether you’re casually dating someone, in a long-term relationship, or have been married for decades, here’s how to approach your Valentine’s Day love note.
The new relationship
Tip: Avoid sexual comments. They may be fun, but they’re best kept out of a card, especially in the new relationship.
You want to express your care for someone you’re still getting to know, without being too serious. Here are a few ideas on what to write:
I love that you’re my Valentine!
Muah! Happy Valentine’s Day!
I was never a fan of this holiday until meeting you, my sweet Valentine.
I’ve loved getting to know you and spending time with you. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Our favorite quote: “Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.” – Author unknown
Valentine’s Day could be the perfect time to let your long-term love know just how much they mean to you and how much you’re looking forward to the future. Ideas on what to write include:
The past few Valentine’s Days with you have been wonderful. I’m looking forward to many more!
You mean everything to me. Happy Valentine’s Day to my one and only.
“True love stories never have endings.” – Richard Bach
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” – Author unknown
“When I saw you, I was afraid to meet you. When I met you, I was afraid to kiss you. When I kissed you, I was afraid to love you. Now that I love you, I’m afraid to lose you.” – Rene Yasenek
Our favorite quote: “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” – Robert Browning
Today’s the day to let your husband know just how much you love and appreciate him. And since you already won him over, you can be as cheesy as you please! Cute quotes and sayings to write on his card include:
“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.” – Author unknown
You are the love of my life – always have been, always will be. Happy Valentine’s Day to the person of my dreams.
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” – Robert A. Heinlein
“A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.” – Author unknown
Our favorite quote: “I’ve fallen in love many times… always with you.” – Author unknown
Ask yourself this: How do I feel when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror?
For most people, the answer varies from time to time. If you’re all dolled up in your favorite outfit and ready to go out on the town, you are probably feeling very confident. But if you are tired and stressed from a long day of work, those dark circles under your eyes may seem darker than usual. When you look in the mirror, the reflection you see is often a better indicator of how you are feeling on the inside rather than how you look on the outside.
We have become a society that is preoccupied with outward appearance and concerned with constructed standards of beauty. We spend hours critiquing our bodies, our faces and our skin in the mirror, focusing in on any and every little flaw. We keep mental lists of all the things we would change about ourselves if we had the chance. And to be quite frank, I’m sick and tired of all of it.
What if we decided to stop paying attention? What if I decided that when I look in the mirror, I want to focus on the sun streaks in my hair, the dimples in my cheeks and the friendly smile that is always on my face. Yes, I have small blemishes on my face and oily skin. Yes, I have scars and freckles scattered across my body. But I can accept all of these imperfections because I love who I am, regardless of what I look like.
Mirrors shouldn’t have the power to scare us. They are nothing more than reflective surfaces. Yet, so many people are afraid that their reflections will confirm their deepest insecurities. Ironically, these same people are even more terrified of living lives without mirrors and of going whole days without checking their appearances.
On multiple occasions, I have advised friends to take a step away from the mirror and to allow themselves to let go of the pressure of maintaining the “perfect” image. Since I’m not one to talk the talk without walking the walk, I decided to take my own advice and step away from mirrors for one week. I wanted to put my self-confidence to the test. For a whole week, I only allowed myself to use a mirror once a day when I was getting ready in the morning. I didn’t check throughout the day to see if my mascara had smeared or if my face was starting to look oily. And to be completely honest, it was liberating.
I never realized how dependent I was on mirrors. I was so accustomed to checking my hair or makeup in the mirror whenever I walked into a bathroom. But once I stopped checking on my appearance so frequently throughout the day, I realized that worrying about what I looked like didn’t really cross my mind. When I stopped judging myself, I stopped feeling like I was being judged by other people.
I realize that a world without mirrors is unrealistic and that going on a “mirror fast” isn’t for everyone. But I do hope that more people can learn to embrace their reflections. When someone looks into the mirror, I hope they will thank their body for all that it does. I hope they will focus on the things they love about themselves rather than focusing on their imperfections. I hope people will be able to look into a mirror and confidently say, “Mirror, mirror on the wall. You do not define me, not at all.”
One word used again and again to describe Princess Diana by those who knew her is “kind,” and that’s exactly what’s inspired a day dedicated to her memory.
National Kindness Day will be observed in the U.K. in March as part of a yearlong celebration of Diana’s life’s work. The Diana Award, which was established in 1999 and became an independent charity in 2007, will mark the 20th anniversary of her death with a series of events, including the launch of the international Legacy Award, which will be given to 20 exceptional youth members who have successfully demonstrated positive social change.
The main purpose of National Kindness Day is to inspire people to take a leaf out of the late princess’s book and do something for others. It’s reported that Prince William and Prince Harry will take part in a number of other (still to be confirmed) events, and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer will host an exhibition, Walking in Her Shoes, at his family home, as well as a gala fundraising event for the Diana Award.
London’s Kensington Palace (the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte when they’re in the city) will create a Diana memorial garden featuring an exhibition of her most iconic outfits.
“Twenty years on we want to give the public the opportunity to interact practically with [Diana’s] legacy,” said Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award. “We want to give the public the opportunity to be that little bit kinder, that little bit more compassionate and to think about serving others.”