How to Wear All Black Like a Boss

How to Wear All Black

Whoever said orange is the new black obviously never rocked a little black dress and felt the power that comes with looking your best.  As you know from my style diary I love adding color into my wardrobe, but there are very few things as elegant and glamorous as being dressed in black from head to toe.  Think Beyonce at the Super bowl, need I say more?

Being dressed in all black is glamorous, not Goth.  However there is a right way and a wrong way to pull it off.  A black dress and black high heels with pearls (even if they’re fake) is classic, but we can add a twist to the Breakfast at Tiffany’s look.

Here’s how to do wear all black like a boss and do it on a budget:

Add a statement necklace

If you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a colorful Prada dress, don’t sweat it.  A little black dress is versatile and can do from day to night with a little help from the perfect accessory.  A statement necklace adds a pop of color to an all black ensemble and it also says “look at me”.  Who doesn’t want that feeling when they walk into a room?

Adding color with a statement necklace doesn’t need to cost more than $15 if you shop at places such as H&M or Century 21.

Don’t knock the shoe game

If you want to have all eyes looking at your legs then add color and style with your shoes – think Carrie Bradshaw.  You don’t need to walk along Fifth Avenue in NYC to find the best shoes in the game.  If you go to TJ Maxx or DSW you can find great heels at discount prices.

Adding colorful shoes to an all black outfit, whether it’s a little black dress or a power suit, makes it a little more feminine and adds a taste of your personal style – which I’m a huge fan of.  I prefer hot pink heels, but jewels and multi colors also work well to dress up your attire.

Go big with your bags

Going from the office to drinks without making a pit stop at home makes for a long day, it also means you need a lot of stuff.  A clutch is great for a short evening out on the town, but if you want all the necessities you need a real ladies bag.

A purse is a practical accessory, but it also lets you add a pop of color and style to your outfit.  Think big, bright and bold when it comes to your bag.  There’s no bling too shiny and no color too bright.  If you’re craving designer labels for your bag hit up your local thrift store.  You’ll be amazed at what you can find.

Dramatic colorful makeup

All I can say is “get it girl” when it comes to your makeup.  If statement necklaces, over-the-top shoes and bold bags aren’t your cup of tea then get dramatic with your makeup.  I’m not talking Jem and the Holograms, but dramatic eyes and colorful kiss-me-lips help brighten up an all black outfit.

What’s our favorite way to wear black?

 

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Why You Should Always Talk to Your Kids About Money

Talk to your kids about money

What’s the money situation like in your household?  Do you set a monthly budget together as a family?  Do your kids know how much groceries cost every week?  Do your kids know how hard you work to put a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs?  The answer to all of these questions is probably no and that’s OK, but it should change.  Now is the time that you should talk to your kids about money.

Talking about money isn’t taboo; it’s important for kids to grow up knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees.  If you hide family finances from them how will they ever learn how to manage money responsibly?

Think back to your early days as a young adult, did you make some money mistakes?  I’m sure we all did.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could help elevate that stress for your kids?

Here are four reasons to talk to your kids about money:

It helps avoid surprises later

Not knowing the value of money can have long term financial repercussions for anyone, especially for young adults who are living on their own for the first time.  Learning how to make money, save money and spend money wisely (on a budget) as a teenager (or even younger) can help your children grow up to have an easier life.

It can help them avoid racking up thousands of dollars in debt and save for the things they want in life such as a new car, buying a home or taking a vacation.

Manage debt responsibly

Debt sucks.  It’s easy to accumulate, but hard to pay off.  It’s hard to save and invest your money if you’re trying to pay off debt with high interest charges.  Avoiding credit cards is not the answer and we don’t want kids to be afraid of them.

If you talk to your kids about money teach them how to use a credit card responsibly which includes spending within affordable limits and paying off the balance each month.  It will help increase their credit score and their financial worthiness.

Pay for school

If your kids want to go to college why should you have to pay the entire bill?  Because you’re a great parent, that’s why.  Although having tuition and books paid for makes a college student’s life easier, it doesn’t help them learn the value of money.

Working part time during school never hurt nobody and it helps your kid establish work ethics and good financial behavior.

You don’t want to pay for them forever

This is probably the number one reason why you want to talk to your kids about money.  Yes you want them to grow up to be financially responsible adults and yes you don’t want them to be burdened by debt.  But let’s be honest, you also don’t want to have to pay for them for the rest of your life.

You work hard for your money and you should eventually be able to enjoy it.  The way to do that is to stop paying for your kids and start putting you first.  Unfortunately as a parent this can’t happen until they learn how to make money and manage money, so get to it and start talking to your kids about money.

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What to Say When Your Family Asks for Money

how to feel when your family asks for money

Today we are getting into a grey zone when it comes to money, mixing family and finances.  I call it a grey zone because even though you might have a very strong opinion on the subject from a distance (and that’s OK because most people usually do) you can’t really decide how to handle it until your family asks for money.

If your brother called you tomorrow and asked to borrow $100 would you lend it to him?  What if it was $1,000?  Now what if it was your grandmother?   I’m not psychic, but I can almost guarantee that your answer for each of those questions was different.  See…grey zone.

When your family asks for money it’s hard to answer yes or no up front.  You will probably have an initial reaction which will be “hell no” or “yes of course”, but before you commit to lending money think about what you’re getting in to.

The best way to do that is to weigh the pros and cons.  If your scale tips to the yes side of the equation then keep the following things in mind.

Here are four things you need to do when your family asks for money:

Get the terms in writing

A written agreement is the best thing you can do when your family asks for money.  It clearly states the terms of the loan and it sets expectations from the get go.  I suggest a regular payment schedule as well as a final due date.  The due date should be an actual calendar date, not “when I get my tax refund.”

What happens if your family member doesn’t get a tax refund?  You won’t get your money back, that’s what.   The more specific you can be about the repayment dates and dollar amounts as well as recourse if the loan is not repaid in full can all be very helpful.

Take collateral

This may seem silly at first, but just think about it for a minute.  If you have something they want and are holding it until the loan is repaid in full the odds are they will repay the loan as quickly as possible because they want their personal item back.  This strategy only works if you take something they absolutely love and can’t live without.

The other side of the coin is if your family member has an item of value they can pawn it or sell it for money instead of borrowing from you.  But once again we’re talking about family and it’s hard to say no to family, right?

Expect not to be repaid

It’s sad to say, but family members take advantage of family members.  We are more likely to repay a stranger at a bank than we are our own flesh and blood.  Why is that?  The fiscal answer is because the bank can lower our credit score and ruin our financial well being, our grandmother cannot.

Don’t be afraid to take action

If you really want your money back, and are prepared to possibly ruin your family relationship, you can take action against an unpaid loan.  You can file a claim and go see Judge Marilyn Milian in The People’s Court.  However taking legal action against a family member, even though it may be necessary, can definitely put a damper on the next Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

That’s why it may be best to not expect to be repaid, or just say no and don’t lend out cash when your family asks for money.

 

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Free Summer Activities for the Kids

Swings at the playground

Summer is here and your kids are probably out of school and looking for ways to get outside and have fun.  As a parent your mind is probably racing with all the ways to keep your kids busy this summer.  Let’s not lie, kids are expensive and sending your little ones to day camp all summer is child care that not everyone can afford.  Don’t sweat it.  There are actually a lot of fun summer activities for the kids that don’t cost a single penny…you just need to know where to look.

Here are four free summer activities for the kids:

Go to the library

When you first tell your kids that they’re going to the library during summer they may not be impressed.  The library is full of books and books means reading and reading is like school.  However many local library branches offer free activities for kids during the summer such as story time, painting parties and arts and crafts.  The New York Public Library is offering 89 events in the Bronx alone, so check your local listings.

Visit museums on the free days

If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with museums check their website for cultural days.  Sometimes museums offer free entry for children under a certain age or offer free admission for everyone on a certain day of the week.  I am thankful to live in New York City where The American Museum of Natural History offers admission based solely on donations.  Museums are a great way to get out of the house, give the kids come culture and it’s an affordable activity for the whole family.

Plan a day in the park

One of the easiest summer activities for the kids is to pack a bag and spend a day at the park.  There are so many different activities you can do all in the same location that you never need to leave – except for bathroom breaks.

You can play baseball, throw a Frisbee around, go for a walk or relax in the shade under a tree.  Most parks also have a playground where kids can run around, play, swing, climb and meet other kids.  Lots of activity means they’ll be tired when they get home and that means a good night sleep for the moms.  Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen.

Get in the kitchen

Can you think of a better way to spend a few hours than teaching your kids to cook?  It’s not an outdoor activity, but it is a fun (and practical) way for the whole family to spend time together.  Teaching your kids to cook is a lesson they can use throughout their lives and it will be a big money-saver when they get older.

If your kids are at home with a babysitter ask them to start preparing dinner or at least thinking of ideas and finding recipes online.  Then when you get home from work you can all cook together.  Quality family time.

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Why You Need to Save $100 This Month

Need to Save? Get a piggy bank.

Saving is easy, everyone can do it right?  That’s what they say, but if life were only that simple.  We all probably know that we need to save, but how many of us actually do it consistently on a regular basis?  Probably not a lot of us.

If you’re not putting money aside each month ask yourself why.  Maybe you don’t think you can afford to save, maybe you aren’t sure why you need to save or maybe you just need a little encouragement to get started.  Well you’ve come to the right place.

Here are four good reasons you need to save:

It’s not hard to find extra money

The truth is saving isn’t hard…if you want to do it.  If you avoid buying Starbucks everyday that’s $4 saved.  Multiply that by 30 days in the month and you’ve just saved $120.  Now that wasn’t hard was it.  The exact same rule can be applied to any personal vice: ice cream, gossip magazines, lunch, manicures etc.  If you just say no to extra spending even once a day you can easily save $100 each month.

You want to go on vacation

When is the last time you got away – even for a weekend?  If you have family obligations, play dates and a household to maintain the answer may be “I can’t remember.”  That can stop this year.  Getting away from your normal everyday routine – even if it’s only for a few days – can be a great way to recharge and relax.

So often people don’t take vacations because they think it will cost thousands of dollars to jet-set off to an exotic location.  But that’s not true.  Going away for the weekend can cost under $500 depending on the destination, so research your options and book a getaway.

Your kids will eventually need to go to school

There’s no better reason to save than for your kids.  A post secondary education is expensive and even though your children may have a part-time job they can always use a little extra money in their pocket.  The earlier you start saving the more your money will grow with the beauty of compound interest.  So open a 529 College Savings Plan and start investing for your child’s future.

It’s easy to get started

Saving isn’t rocket science.  All you need to do is spend less and put that money aside into an interest-bearing account.  Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account on payday and you’ll quickly see your savings add up.  Remember that consistency is the key to long term savings.

If you really want to make sure you start saving, hold yourself accountable and declare your need to save on the internet.  Enter a comment below and tell the world why you want to save.

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