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8 Dumbledore Quotes That Can Help You Save For Retirement

Millennial fans who read through all 3,407 pages of the Harry Potter series know that Albus Dumbledore is among the greatest wizards ever. But they don’t, apparently, know how to save for retirement.

According to a Pew Charitable Trust analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data, more than two-thirds of millennials (ages 22 to 34) have failed to open a retirement savings account. If evil forces such as low salaries, high student loans and a lack of access to 401(k) plans are conspiring against your financial future, why not look to Dumbledore for some good advice?

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light,” says Dumbledore in “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” As this June marks the 20-year anniversary of the series’ release, what better time to faithfully reference Dumbledore ― in the form of eight of his classic quotes ― and start saving?

#1 “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Time is the one thing that millennials have on their side that no other working generation has. Life expectancies are only rising, and the impact this has on the exponential growth of your money due to compound interest can be quite magical. For example, if at the age of 22 you put $10,000 in an account earning 8-percent interest and never add to it again, you’ll still have over $1 million by the time you turn 82.

#2: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Even if you don’t have the ability to save high dollar amounts now, you can still chose to save something. Even a “riddikulus” $25 a week earning 8-percent interest will grow to give you $466,998.79 in 45 years’ time.

#3Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” Millennials are facing a nearly pension-less future combined with uncertain government programs and benefits. There’s nothing to gain by putting this off. If your employer offers a matching 401(k) plan, then by all means take advantage of the free money. If you’re self-employed or one of the 35 percent who work for employers not offering 401(k)s, opt for an IRA or a SEP IRA. Yes, they offer the same tax advantages as a 401(k), you can still invest in stocks, and setting them up is simple.

#4 “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Remember why you are saving in the first place. Think about how good it will feel to spend time with your friends or kids or grandkids without rushing off to work. Think about how good it will feel not to be a burden to your family.

#5 “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Yes, there will be hard days. You will be tempted to take that extra $25 and give in, go out and throw caution to the wind. Next time you’re faced with that decision, remember what you are choosing and why.

#6 “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” On the other hand, don’t make yourself crazy. Figure out how to do both ― save for retirement and live your life.

#7 “Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” As millennials, you have officially become the nation’s largest demographic at 83.1 million, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report. The financial industry is desperate to serve you. The data-heavy white paper Millennials + Money generated by Facebook found that even though millennials are underinvested, 86 percent say they value saving. If lack of knowledge is stopping you, ask for help.

#8 “People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” While it might be hard to stomach the advice of all the well-meaning people imploring you to save, saving is still the right thing to do. Whether you get with a good advisor or take a more do-it-yourself approach, what matters is that you do what you can, or as Dumbledore says, “fight and fight again, and keep fighting.”

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jun 6 17, 23:10
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Trump Administration Hires Official Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Students

By Justin Elliott

A political appointee hired by the Trump administration for a significant State Department role was accused of multiple sexual assaults as a student several years ago at The Citadel military college.

Steven Munoz was hired by the Trump administration as assistant chief of visits, running an office of up to 10 staffers charged with the sensitive work of organizing visits of foreign heads of state to the U.S. That includes arranging meetings with the president.

At The Citadel, five male freshmen alleged that Munoz used his positions as an upperclassman, class president and head of the campus Republican Society to grope them. In one incident, a student reported waking up with Munoz on top of him, kissing him and grabbing his genitals. In another, on a trip to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., a student said that Munoz jumped on him in bed and he “felt jerking and bouncing on my back.”

An investigation by The Citadel later found that “certain assaults likely occurred.” A local prosecutor reviewed the case and declined to seek an indictment.

Munoz’s hiring raises questions about the Trump administration’s vetting of political appointees, which has been both slow and spotty, with multiple incidents of staff being fired only weeks into their jobs, including for disloyalty to Trump. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Munoz, a Miami native, worked as a political consultant in South Carolina after graduating from The Citadel in 2011. He was publicly reported to be under investigation the following year around the time he was working for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign. Stories from that time, which outline some but not all of the allegations against Munoz, are easy to find via a simple Google search.

Details of the case, drawn from an extensive, previously unreported police case file, also raise questions about The Citadel’s response to the alleged string of assaults, according to experts in campus sexual assault. After one student reported to a school official in 2010 that Munoz had sexually assaulted him, The Citadel didn’t discipline Munoz. Instead, it gave him a warning.

Over the next year and a half, Munoz allegedly assaulted four other students. Those incidents weren’t reported until well after Munoz graduated in 2011.

Munoz referred questions to his lawyer, the prominent Charleston defense attorney Andy Savage, who denied the allegations. “I believe that certain disgruntled cadets made exaggerated claims of wrongdoing concerning Munoz’s participation in boorish behavior that was historically tacitly approved, if not encouraged, by the Institution,” Savage said. 

Upon graduation, The Citadel gave Munoz an award for “leadership, sound character and service to others.” The citation said he could “always be counted upon to help classmates who need assistance and to mentor younger cadets adjusting to life at The Citadel.”

A Citadel spokeswoman, Kim Keelor, said the committee that gave the award would not have known about the 2010 allegation because of privacy law. Keelor said of the case overall: “The college proceeded thoughtfully in addressing the reports in accordance with its policy and related processes, and with great concern for those involved and the protection of their privacy.”

When more students came forward the year after Munoz graduated, The Citadel banned him from campus and referred the case to state police, who did an extensive investigation.

When The Citadel later conducted its investigation, it interviewed complainants and witnesses and concluded in 2014 that assaults occurred “based upon a ‘preponderance of evidence,’” according to a statement from the school to ProPublica.


The Citadel is a storied public college based in Charleston, South Carolina, where students, known as cadets, get military instruction as well as traditional coursework. Many join the armed services after graduation.

Freshman are dubbed “knobs” for their shaved haircuts. They go through what the school refers to as “strict indoctrination.” They are subordinate to upperclassmen. There have been repeated hazing problems for many years, and there was a major scandal involvingsexual abuse at the school’s summer camp in the mid-2000s.

The students who accused Munoz of assaults say that he abused his power as an upperclassman and student leader.

Here is what one Citadel student told police about his encounters with Munoz in 2009 and 2010 during his freshman year:

Munoz coerced threatened and convinced me to allow inappropriate touching, grabbing, and kissing by leading me to believe it was what I needed to do to gain acceptance in the corps of cadets. He threatened to call my upperclassmen who would be upset if I did not comply with him.

The student told police he and Munoz would sometimes return to campus early and stay at the home of a Citadel professor, where “during the night Munoz would enter my room and continue the touching.”

Another student who was a freshman in 2011 traveled with Munoz, then a senior, as part of the Republican Society trip to the annual CPAC event in Washington. The student later said in a statement to police that Munoz had jumped on him two times. In one incident, after the freshman was caught with alcohol, Munoz informed the younger student that he would not be citing him for the violation, then came into the freshman’s hotel room:

I was groggy, [Munoz] jumped on me, I felt jerking and bouncing on my back, I threw my elbow up which threw him off the bed to the floor.

A third student, who met Munoz through the Republican Society, described Munoz setting up a series of meetings with him alone in Munoz’s room to talk about how to get leadership positions in campus organizations.

He instructed me to sit on his bed during these meetings. … After a few meetings he began to rub my leg with his hand. He moved his hand under my shorts and the first time I pushed his hand off my leg he said he was just playing and that he did it with his other knobs so I shouldn’t mind. I had seen this in the past and when I asked my classmates about the interaction, they said when they resisted, he yelled at them for not trusting him and Mr. Munoz made them stay longer in his room.

In another meeting, Munoz “put his other hand down my underwear until I again pushed him away, but he did not stop. He said as a new leader I had to learn to trust other leaders on the team and this was how I should show him I trusted him.” Munoz said “he read the Bible and knew what it said and I should not question his love of God. He continued to rub my leg and rub my private area. … He said this needed to stay between us and dismissed me.”

The first incident reported to the school took place in April 2009. As later recounted by a state police investigator, Munoz, then a sophomore, and a freshman were at an off-campus house watching TV and consensually spooning. The freshman later woke up in the middle of the night, “thinking he was having a wet dream, but it was Munoz on top of him with fully body contact, kissing him with his tongue in his mouth. Munoz had his left hand down [the other student’s] shorts touching his penis.”

The following year, in February 2010, the student reported that incident to a Citadel official, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Janet Shealy. The reporting student told Shealy he didn’t “want to do anything but informal,” according to her notes.

School officials set up a mediation session in which Munoz and the other student met in a conference room. In that meeting, according to Shealy’s notes, Munoz “said it was consensual and that accuser started it.” The other student left “upset,” saying that Munoz had “lied.”

Shealy and another Citadel official, Col. Christopher “Hawk” Moore, met with Munoz again to tell him there would be no disciplinary action taken. Munoz was warned and told to write a statement about what happened.

Experts on campus sexual assault questioned how The Citadel handled that initial report.

“The school has the responsibility to keep people safe on campus,” said Colby Bruno, an attorney at Victim Rights Law Center. “The school should have investigated this more thoroughly. Instead of investigation they went to this mediation.”

Bruno pointed out that the federal government’s guidance on how schools should respond to sexual assault under federal civil rights law explicitly says that even voluntary mediation is not appropriate in assault cases.

“Sexual assault is about power and control,” Bruno said. “You can’t sit two people down who have an imbalance of control and power to have a balanced mediation.”

Citadel spokeswoman Keelor said in a statement that the school’s policy on mediation differs from the federal guidance “because it was developed under the direction of the Department of Justice and the federal courts during the school’s transition to coeducation” in 1996.

Keelor said after the 2010 assault report “the college conducted an investigation.” She said the school could not give details about any specific case. But she said in a statementthat generally an “informal investigation” would include interviewing both students and providing options for support services. The statement also details how the Citadel requires sexual assault prevention classes for each year of a student’s time at the school.

Shealy, The Citadel’s sexual assault response coordinator, declined to comment.

Bruno said a thorough investigation would include speaking to potential witnesses or people who had seen Munoz or the other student soon after the alleged assault.

When more students came forward in fall 2012 — more than a year after Munoz graduated — The Citadel referred the case to the state police, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The school also sent a campus-wide email notifying students of the allegations and banned Munoz, then an alumnus, from campus.

One student said in a statement to campus police that he had come forward so long after what happened because he had heard of other incidents and “I want this school to be safe from sexual predators.”

Over the course of several months, police interviewed the five alleged victims, who said they were willing to press charges. (None of them responded to our requests for comment.) The incidents were classified variously as forcible fondling, sexual battery and simple assault.

In March 2013, the state police referred the case to the office of the Charleston County prosecutor, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson. A week after receiving the nearly 200-page case file, the prosecutor said in a letter to police that her office would not seek indictments against Munoz because “there is no probable cause that he committed a crime prosecutable in General Sessions Court.”

Wilson’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2014, according to The Citadel, Munoz requested that the school review its decision to ban him from campus. That’s when the school conducted its own investigation and found that “certain assaults likely occurred.”

Later that year, the school partially rescinded the no-trespass order, “permitting general access to public facilities and events, but no direct cadet interactions.” Asked why, the school pointed to the prosecutor’s decision not to seek indictments.

Savage, Munoz’s lawyer, said in his statement: “Steven Munoz, a graduate of the Corp with a sterling reputation for honesty, integrity and all Corp values, was used as a whipping boy in an attempt by the institution to change its shameful image shaped by its ignorance of the conduct of Skip ReVille and Michael Arpaio.” ReVilleand Arpaio were at the center of widely covered Citadel sexual assault and child abuse scandals.

At the time two of the allegations against Munoz surfaced in 2012, Savage told The Post and Courier newspaper that the allegations were not only false, but also politically motivated. Savage claimed that an unnamed Citadel employee — who was also the mother of one of the alleged victims — had released information on the allegations because she disliked Munoz’s conservative politics. Savage declined our request to provide details to substantiate his claim.

Savage also criticized the investigation of the case, saying that “several cadets complained that they were being pressured to provide misleading statements.” They were “pressured to report interactions that the cadets considered typical barracks banter as if they felt it was inappropriate,” he said.

When asked for details, Savage provided the name of one student, who Savage said was a witness, not a victim. The student is not cited as a witness in the nearly 200-page police case file, and was not immediately available for comment.

Savage also criticized the school’s investigation, saying he was not given enough time to provide witnesses or statements.

Since Munoz graduated, he has been president of a Charleston-based political consulting firm called American Southern Group, according to his LinkedIn profile. The Trump campaign paid the firm tens of thousands of dollars for “event consulting,” according to disclosure filings.

Munoz was then hired to work on Trump’s inaugural committee.

He joined the State Department on Jan. 25, a spokesperson confirmed. The agency declined to comment further.

During the Obama administration, vetting of potential political appointees like Munoz was extensive. A possible hire would be thoroughly examined by the White House Office of Presidential Personnel before being offered a job. That would include everything from a Google search to running a person’s name through criminal records and news databases.

Any significant negative media reports or criminal accusations would lead a file to be flagged for further scrutiny by White House lawyers, according to a former staffer in the office who vetted Obama appointees. Sexual assault allegations would be a serious flag. In the Obama years, candidates under consideration for jobs were passed over because of, for example, a drunk driving case or for being a registered lobbyist.

President Trump’s personnel office is being run by a former Republican Capitol Hill staffer, Johnny DeStefano. But not much is known about how the office checks the backgrounds of political appointees. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment about details of its vetting process.


April 2009: Alleged assault of Student #1 occurs.

November 2009-May 2010: Alleged assaults of Student #2 occur.

February 2010: Student #1 reports assault to The Citadel.

February-March 2010: School officials meet with Munoz and Student #1 for mediation. Officials warn Munoz but take no disciplinary action.

April 2010: Alleged assault of Student #3 occurs.

February 2011: Alleged assault of Student #4 occurs.

March-April 2011: Alleged assault of Student #5 occurs.

May 2011: Munoz graduates.

September 2012: After receiving more reports of past alleged assaults, The Citadel refers case to state police. The school bans Munoz, now an alumnus, from campus.

March 2013: After an investigation of over five months, state police send case file to the office of the prosecutor, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.

March 2013: Prosecutor declines to seek indictments.

2014: Munoz requests that school review no trespass order. The Citadel “conducted an investigation, interviewing complainants and witnesses. Based upon a ‘preponderance of evidence,’ it was concluded that certain assaults likely occurred,” according to a spokesperson.

Later in 2014, the no-trespass order was partially rescinded, allowing Munoz to attend public events at the college, but limiting interactions with students.

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may 4 17, 16:20
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End Of An Era: The Undertaker Announces His Retirement At WrestleMania 33

WWE WrestleMania 33 ended on an emotional note as one of professional wrestling’s most iconic stars

After suffering only the second WrestleMania loss in his decades-long career, The Undertaker removed his coat, gloves and hat, placed them in the center of the ring and exited the arena. 

Roman Reigns defeated “The Dead Man” in the final match of the night. Rumors about The Undertaker’s planned retirement have swirled for months due to a series of less-than-stellar performances and rumored injuries. Articles published ahead of WrestleMania 33 speculated that Roman Reigns would be the one to put the legend out to pasture.

Fans took to Twitter to share their reactions, posting heartfelt messages with the hashtag #ThankYouTaker

This post has been updated to accurately reflect that Sunday’s match marked The Undertaker’s second WrestleMania loss. 

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apr 3 17, 08:28
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How To Love Someone With Opposite Political Views

Just two weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, news hit of the first divorce triggered by the election results (or at least, the first to go viral). 

In an interview with Reuters, Californian Gayle McCormick, 73, said she and her husband of 22 years decided to split up after he mentioned that he planned to vote for Trump

Though her husband ended up writing in former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich at the ballot box instead, the damage was already done.

“It really came down to the fact I needed to not be in a position where I had to argue my point of view 24/7,” she said. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that.” 

Though an extreme example, the story highlights how hard it is to love and maintain a civil relationship when you’re at odds politically. Like the McCormicks, 30 percent of married households contain a mismatched partisan pair, according to data site FiveThirtyEight

If those couples weren’t getting into arguments before the election, chances are they are now, with each day bringing fresh executive orders, cabinet confirmations and emotionally charged POTUS tweets. It’s all too easy to get upset if your spouse is your political opposite.

How do you avoid the McCormicks’ fate if you have different political views? Below, couples who’ve been in mixed political marriages for years share their advice.

Rule #1: Don’t look at your partner as a surrogate for his or her party’s candidate.

Kerry Maguire, a left-leaning dentist who serves as the director of the children’s outreach program at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been married to her husband Thomas Stossel, a right-leaning hematologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, for over 20 years.

In that time, she’s tried to not confuse Republican leaders’ views with those of her spouse.

“Tom has nothing in common with Donald Trump except they both belong to the Republican party,” she told The Huffington Post. “Still, I have occasionally ― and unfairly ― dumped my frustrations over Trump in Tom’s lap. Not surprisingly, that can evoke a defensive response in him, which I sometimes interpret as Tom being in agreement with Trump.”

Highly charged events like the Women’s March in January have definitely triggered some emotions in the couple. When arguments get too heated and Maguire is responsible, she takes full ownership for stirring things up. 

“His response to the Women’s March was, ‘Didn’t these people vote?’ And I wanted to tear my hair out and start talking about parallel universes,” she told us. “Then I realized that I was the one who set us up for the fight.” 

Rule #2:  Keep things in perspective. 

Stossell, meanwhile, recognizes that President Trump’s actions offend his wife far more than they offend him. Like any supportive spouse, he takes it in stride and actively listens when his wife is unnerved by the latest executive order or Kellyanne Conway’s most recent claim of “fake news.” 

“Kerry complains about him from time to time and that’s OK with me,” he told HuffPost. “The 20 plus years I’ve been married to her have been the best of my life and there’s no way political disagreements could compromise my affection for her.”

Rule #3: Remind yourself that winning isn’t everything.

They may have appeared in a pre-election video titled “Donald Trump Is Ruining My Marriage,” but New York magazine columnist Mandy Stadtmiller and her Trump-supporting husband, comedian Pat Dixon, are still very much married.

That’s partly because both realized that winning an argument about Trump means very little compared to their growth as a couple. 

“If we disagree on a political issue, America’s future is not going to be determined by who wins a single argument we are having in our tiny Chelsea apartment,” Stadtmillter said. “It might determine our future, though.” 

She added: “Challenge, disagreement and adversity can make a good couple grow stronger, more emphatic and more sensitive if you never lose your respect for each other in the process of spirited debate.”

Rule #4: Don’t bring politics to bed.

Alicia Chandler, a left-leaning attorney who lives in the greater Detroit, Michigan area, has endured four presidential elections with her conservative, Trump-supporting husband. In that time, they’ve learned to avoid placing campaign signs in their yard (”We do not need to let the whole neighborhood in on our dysfunction,” she joked in a blog prior to the 2017 election) and to avoid talking about politics or unsettling world news before bed.

“You have to give each other safe spaces ― and I’m not simply suggesting that term because the mere mention of it infuriates my husband and most other conservatives,” she said.

To protect her marriage, Chandler tries to avoid looking at social media while in bed.

“When I do, I have the bad habit of getting into a heated conversation about whatever the political crisis of the day, which is horrible because my brain has already shut down for the day,” she said. “Basically, I am more likely to lose any argument on an intellectual level and it ends the the day on a negative note.”

Talking about news of the day with your spouse is important, but Chandler stressed the importance of designating times of days where the conversation is politics-free.

Rule #5: Recognize the core beliefs you do share. 

Micah Leydorf is a former congressional staffer and a conservative married to a liberal. When the divide between her and her husband seems great, she reminds herself that they ultimately share a common belief system. 

“We may not agree on many important national policies, but we agree that loving people and loving each other are more important,” she told HuffPost. “We don’t argue when we discuss politics because we are united in our focus on living out our common belief in a loving God. You have to focus more on living out your core beliefs every day instead of just talking about them.” 

Rule #6: Value the experience of listening to the other side. 

In these hyper-partisan days, most of us consume a media diet that feeds into our preconceived beliefs and biases. Being married to your political opposite forces you to consider the other side’s opinions and hear their latest talking points, said Julia Arnold, a Minnesota-based blogger who’s been married to a conservative for nine years. Yes, she said, sometimes that means she’s forced to watch Fox News. 

“The truth is, you may or may not believe that the media is biased, but either way I still find value in spending time with a variety of news outlets,” she said. “The way I see it, it’s helpful, not harmful, to watch and read a variety of media.” 

Arnold added that being being married to your political opposite compels you to look at your beliefs and sometimes, even question them.

“Our relationship has made me more open-minded and less judgmental,” she said. “I hope my husband feels the same way. My marriage has made me look at things through more than one lens and I feel lucky for that opportunity.”

The HuffPost Lifestyle newsletter will make you happier and healthier, one email at a time. Sign up here.

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feb 17 17, 22:47
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How To Keep Your March Momentum Going

Millions of people across the United States marched on Saturday in what may become the biggest single-day demonstration in this country’s history. And when they woke up on Sunday morning, many wondered: What’s next?

Historically, marches don’t start movements so much as they grow and support them, according to Carol Chetkovich, a professor of public policy at Mills College and author of “From the Ground Up, Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change.” “What a massive demonstration like Saturday’s can do,” she said, “is energize people who have not been active or not as active as they might be.” 

Here are six concrete ways to keep your post-march momentum going:

#1: Sign up for e-mail updates from your local legislators.  

Heed Barack Obama’s advice in his farewell address and engage with the government in your town or city. “People need to get involved with local politics,” echoed Chetkovich. “Find an issue or a candidate, work for them, and then stay onboard.”

It’s OK to start simple. Look up who is in charge where you live. Who sits on your local city council or board of supervisors? Who is your mayor? Who is your local rep? Then sign up for updates. Many local legislators have e-mail newsletters, Chetkovich said, which are a great (and easy) way to stay informed about issues in your area, as well as to learn about local meetings you should attend. Then attend them.

#2: Support groups that are already fighting for the issues you care about with time and resources.

So many of the issues people were marching for on Saturday already have organizations committed to protecting them. So pick an issue you care about, find a local or national organization that focuses on that issue, then volunteer and donate whatever resources you can. “There are many, many social change organizations in communities all across the country,” Chetkovich said. “We need to support those groups.”

#3: Have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you—and keep that conversation going.

First, a caveat: “reaching across the aisle” is by no means a necessity for promoting social change. If, for example, you’re a sexual assault survivor who has been re-traumatized by the election of President Donald Trump, no one is arguing you must reach out to those who supported him in order for real change to happen. “If that’s the space you’re in, this is not the time for you to try and do that,” Chetkovich said. “But there are a lot of people who are not in that kind of extremely vulnerable space who can engage in these kinds of dialogues.” She mentioned groups the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation as a good resource for guiding those efforts. 

#4: Consider 10 Actions in 100 Days

Over the weekend, organizers of the Women’s March on Washington launched their own specific plan for next steps, releasing a new action every 10 days during President Trump’s first 100 days in office. “Now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history,” the march website urges.

The first action calls for marchers to send a postcard to their senators describing the issues that are most important to them. “Pour your heart out on any issue that you care about, whether it’s ending gender-based violence, reproductive rights and women’s health, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious freedom, environmental justice or anything else,” the group urges, adding that people should share their postcards on their social media accounts to help keep enthusiasm going. 

#5: Call Congress daily.

At Watch Us Run, HuffPost Women’s inauguration day event, activist and filmmaker Michael Moore offered his tips for resisting President Trump’s agenda: Call Congress daily. Here’s where to find your representative, and here’s where to find your senators. Make it part of you daily routine, Moore said, to the point where it becomes as second-nature as brushing your teeth. (Watch his full blueprint for resistance here.)

#6: Continue to demonstrate

Marches and demonstrations will continue to happen. On Tuesday, January 24, for example, activists across the country are set to host a set of “Stop Trump’s #SwampCabinet” rallies in 35 states across the country. Anti-Trump rallies have been planned for April 15 ― tax day ― to pressure the president into releasing his tax returns.

“Demonstrations are a central strategy of movements,” said Chetkovich. “They can grow and sustain movements, and they can also put the opposition on notice. They signal that there a lot of people who hold certain values and beliefs.”

In other words, don’t hang up your marching shoes just yet. 

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jan 23 17, 22:03
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Everything You Need To Know About The 38 Best Diets For Health

U.S. News evaluated and ranked 38 diets with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be safe, relatively easy to follow, nutritious and effective for weight loss. It also had to be stellar at preventing diabetes and heart disease.  

#1 DASH Diet

DASH was developed to fight high blood pressure, not as an all-purpose diet. But it certainly looked like an all-star to our panel of experts, who gave it high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes and its role in supporting heart health. Though relatively obscure, it beat out a field full of better-known diets. One expert also described the diet as a “well balanced, thorough approach to weight loss.”
Overall rank: 1 
Overall score: 4.2 out of 5

#2 Mediterranean Diet

With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish and other healthy fare, the Mediterranean diet is eminently sensible. And experts’ assessments of it were resoundingly positive, giving this diet an edge over many competitors. 
Overall rank: 2
Overall score: 4.1 out of 5

#3 MIND Diet

The MIND diet takes two proven diets – DASH and Mediterranean – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health. Featuring a wide variety of options, from salad to nuts to fruits and veggies, this diet receives expert praise for its focus on real food. It’s a healthy, sensible plan with science behind it.
Overall rank: 3
Overall score: 4 out of 5

#4 (tie) Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian Diet outperformed many of its competitors, with particularly high scores in nutritional completeness, easiness to follow and long-term weight loss. One panelist noted that this diet is “a nice approach that could work for the whole family,” and another described it as a “very good” plan. 
Overall rank: 4
Overall score: 3.9 out of 5

#4 (tie) Mayo Clinic Diet 

This is the Mayo Clinic’s take on how to make healthy eating a lifelong habit. It earned especially high ratings from our experts for its nutrition and safety and as a tool against diabetes. Experts found it moderately effective for weight loss. 
Overall rank: 4
Overall score: 3.9 out of 5

#4 (tie) TLC Diet

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLC, is a very solid diet plan created by the National Institutes of Health. It has no major weaknesses, and it’s particularly good at promoting cardiovascular health. One expert described it as a “very healthful, complete, safe diet.” But it requires a “do-it-yourself” approach, in contrast to the hand-holding provided by some commercial diets. 
Overall rank: 4 
Overall score: 3.9 out of 5

#4 (tie) Weight Watchers Diet

Weight Watchers is a smart, effective diet. It surpassed other commercial diet plans in multiple areas, including for short- and long-term weight loss and how easy it is to follow. It’s also nutritionally sound and safe, according to experts. Among its pluses: an emphasis on group support, lots of fruits and vegetables, and room for occasional indulgences. 
Overall rank: 4
Overall score: 3.9 out of 5

#8 (tie) The Fertility Diet

If you make these changes to your diet, weight and activity, you can increase ovulation and get pregnant faster – or so the claim goes. The Fertility Diet impressed experts, receiving moderate-to-high scores across the board. It performed particularly well in the diabetes, easiness-to-follow, nutrition and safety categories. Still, if getting pregnant is your aim, some skepticism is warranted. “I find it difficult to believe it can help with fertility,” one expert said.
Overall rank: 8
Overall score: 3.8 out of 5

#8 (tie) Volumetrics Diet

Volumetrics outperformed its competitors in many categories. It earned particularly high marks for being safe and nutritious, and experts said it could have a positive effect on heart health and diabetes. “This is an eating plan that everyone can benefit from,” one expert said. 
Overall rank: 8
Overall score: 3.8 out of 5 

#10 (tie) Jenny Craig Diet 

Jenny Craig drew praise from experts for being easy to follow, nutritionally complete and safe, and for offering dieters emotional support. But these experts were lukewarm about its potential to bolster heart health or help people with diabetes. Experts also noted that Jenny Craig’s cost could be a roadblock for some. 
Overall rank: 10
Overall score: 3.7 out of 5

#10 (tie) Ornish Diet

The Ornish Diet got a mixed reaction from experts. On one hand, it’s nutritionally sound, safe and tremendously heart-healthy. On the other, it’s not easy for dieters to adhere to the severe fat restriction the diet demands. 
Overall rank: 10
Overall score: 3.7 out of 5

#10 (tie) Vegetarian Diet

As a health diet, vegetarianism is solid. It’s decent at producing rapid weight loss, according to experts, and is strong in other areas, such as heart health and nutritional completeness, which arguably are more important. 
Overall rank: 10
Overall score: 3.7 out of 5

#13 Traditional Asian Diet

The Traditional Asian Diet is a reasonable choice for an eating pattern, landing around the middle of the pack of ranked diets. Experts handed out high marks in nutrition and safety, but doubted the plan’s ability to deliver short- or long-term weight loss. 
Overall rank: 13
Overall score: 3.6 out of 5

#14 Anti-Inflammatory Diet

While the Anti-Inflammatory Diet itself is nutritionally sound, experts expressed concern. “Most Americans would benefit from adopting many of these principles, especially increasing fruits and vegetables,” one expert said. “What is lacking is scientific evidence that this diet will reduce inflammation in the body and that weight loss results from following it.” 
Overall rank: 14
Overall score: 3.5 out of 5 

#15 Biggest Loser Diet

The Biggest Loser Diet received high marks for short-term weight loss, safety and soundness as a regimen for diabetes, and it was rated moderately effective for heart health. But many panelists felt that in a sea of diets, it’s not overly special, and one said it’s merely “capitalizing on the name” of the popular TV show. 
Overall rank: 15
Overall score: 3.4 out of 5 

#16 (tie) Flat Belly Diet

The Flat Belly Diet landed in the middle of the pack because most of its scores from the experts were right around average. It did get high marks in safety and nutrition. 
Overall rank: 16
Overall score: 3.3 out of 5

#16 (tie) Nutrisystem Diet

Nutrisystem sits near the middle of the standings. It’s safe, easier to follow than many other diets and has few nutritional deficiencies, according to experts. As a heart-healthy diet, it’s off the mark. 
Overall rank: 16
Overall score: 3.3 out of 5

#16 (tie) Spark Solution Diet

The Spark Solution diet is designed around nutritious, reduced-calorie meals that optimize your metabolism, along with a regular fitness routine. Though it’s not particularly novel, it’s a sensible diet, and there’s a good chance it will help you lose weight and keep it off. It’s a “comprehensive program that can lead to healthier eating behaviors,” one expert said. 
Overall rank: 16
Overall score: 3.3 out of 5

#16 (tie) Vegan Diet

Overall, the health experts were lukewarm on veganism despite giving it fairly high marks as a diabetes or heart-disease diet. It is extremely restrictive, doesn’t offer built-in social support and may not provide enough of some nutrients. 
Overall rank: 16
Overall score: 3.3 out of 5

#20 (tie) Eco-Atkins Diet

One expert summed up Eco-Atkins as a “healthier version of the Atkins diet, but compliance is likely to be more difficult.” That’s because it’s restrictive and little guidance is available. 
Overall rank: 20
Overall score: 3.2 out of 5

#20 (tie) Engine 2 Diet

Experts handed out a below-average 3 stars to the Engine 2 Diet. Though they acknowledged its benefits for heart health and diabetes control and prevention, they faulted the program for being unnecessarily restrictive and “gimmicky,” and called for more research into some of its claims. “I fail to see anything unique, innovative or useful with this diet,” one expert said. 
Overall rank: 20
Overall score: 3.2 out of 5 

#20 (tie) HMR Program 

The HMR Program received moderate scores in most measures. It did particularly well in categories such as short-term weight loss, nutrition, safety and healthiness. Still, some experts weren’t convinced the costly meal-replacement program is necessary. “I would only suggest this under extreme circumstances,” one said. “It’s very expensive and not practical for most people.”
Overall rank: 20
Overall score: 3.2 out of 5

#20 (tie) Slim-Fast Diet

Slim-Fast is a reasonable approach to dieting, experts concluded. It outscored a number of competitors on weight loss and as a diabetes diet, and being highly structured, it’s fairly easy to follow. But it scored lower than many other diets on heart health. 
Overall rank: 20
Overall score: 3.2 out of 5

#24 South Beach Diet

Although the South Beach Diet earned positive ratings for being able to produce rapid weight loss, its restrictions can make it difficult for dieters to keep the pounds off, experts said. Most were less enthusiastic about its ability to combat diabetes or heart disease. 
Overall rank: 24
Overall score: 3.1 out of 5

#25 (tie) Abs Diet

The experts found the Abs Diet moderately effective for quick weight loss and middle of the road in most other respects. They took issue with the company’s claim that dieters can drop up to 12 pounds of belly fat in two weeks and questioned the evidence behind some of its tactics. 
Overall rank: 25
Overall score: 3 out of 5

#25 (tie) Glycemic-Index Diet

Experts were less than impressed with the glycemic-index diet, which distinguishes “good” carbs from “bad.” They scored it particularly low on long-term weight loss, heart benefits and ease of adherence. Although the diet’s ratings in nutrition and safety were relatively strong, they couldn’t push the diet out of the lower third of the pack. 
Overall rank: 25
Overall score: 3 out of 5

#25 (tie) Zone Diet

The Zone Diet lagged behind higher-ranked diets, if not always by much, in nearly all ratings categories, including weight loss, how easy it is to follow and its effect on diabetes and heart health. It’s “unnecessary and tedious to structure every meal around specific macronutrient thresholds,” according to one expert; another stated there is “no magic with the diet.” 
Overall rank: 25
Overall score: 3 out of 5

#28 Macrobiotic Diet

Experts gave little credence to the macrobiotic diet on several counts: Following the plan is a challenge. It’s an extreme change from the standard American diet. And it’s awfully strict. The macrobiotic approach, one expert summed up, is “a mix of sound dietary guidance, mysticism, folklore and nonsense.” 
Overall rank: 28
Overall score: 2.9 out of 5

#29 (tie) Medifast Diet

Experts were likewise unenthused about Medifast. It scored above average in short-term weight loss but was dragged down by lower marks in most other categories. 
Overall rank: 29
Overall score: 2.8 out of 5

#29 (tie) Supercharged Hormone Diet

Experts were not eager to recommend the Supercharged Hormone Diet, which received mediocre marks in all categories. It performed particularly poorly in areas such as easiness to follow, long-term weight loss, nutrition, and effect on diabetes and heart health. “The premise of this diet is ridiculous – and it doesn’t promote long-term weight loss or improved eating behavior,” one expert concluded.
Overall rank: 29
Overall score: 2.8 out of 5

#31 Acid Alkaline Diet

The Acid Alkaline diet’s premise is that by helping your body control your pH through diet, you’ll gain health and longevity. pH is a measure of acids and alkalines throughout the body on a 0 to 14 scale, and supporters argue that eating acid-forming foods – like red meat – tips your pH balance out of whack and sets the stage for poor health. But don’t hold your breath for this diet to work. It’s “ridiculous and poorly researched,” one expert said. “It’s not based on science.” 
Overall rank: 31
Overall score: 2.7 out of 5

#32 (tie) Body Reset Diet

Experts were unenthusiastic about the Body Reset Diet, which received mediocre marks in all categories. It performed particularly poorly in areas such as long-term weight loss and easiness to follow. “It’s a gimmick – an unhealthy weight-loss diet,” one expert noted. “It’s not a way of sustainable eating.”
Overall rank: 32
Overall score: 2.5 out of 5

#32 (tie) The Fast Diet

This pattern of eating is often referred to as the 5:2 diet – you eat normally for five days of the week and cut your calories to about 25 percent of normal intake on two nonconsecutive days of the week. Men consume just 600 calories on their two weekly fast days, while women are limited to 500 calories. Not surprisingly, the experts had plenty of concerns, and the Fast Diet landed toward the bottom of the Best Diets Overall rankings. 
Overall rank: 32
Overall score: 2.5 out of 5

#32 (tie) Raw Food Diet

The experts gave the Raw Food Diet solid marks for weight loss, both for the short and long term, but considered it all but impossible to follow, and its nutritional completeness and safety raised concerns. “Doing it well involves considerable commitment and effort, knowledge and sacrifice,” one expert said. “And there are diets that require less of all these that are likely to be just as healthful.” 
Overall rank: 32
Overall score: 2.5 out of 5

#35 Atkins Diet

Many of our experts found the popular low-carb Atkins Diet leaves much to be desired, at least as an all-purpose diet. Although our expert panel concluded that it could outperform nearly all of its competitors in short-term weight loss, unfavorable marks in other measures – including long-term weight loss, nutrition, safety and heart health – yanked down Atkins in the standings. 
Overall rank: 35
Overall score: 2.4 out of 5

#36 Paleo Diet

Experts took issue with the Paleo diet on every measure. Regardless of the goal – weight loss, heart health or finding a diet that’s easy to follow – most experts concluded that it would be better for dieters to look elsewhere. “A true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants,” said one expert – quickly adding, however, that duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult. 
Overall rank: 36
Overall score: 2.3 out of 5

#37 Dukan Diet

Experts sent the Dukan Diet to nearly the bottom of the pack, handing out dismal ratings in almost every category. Its overall score was more than a full star below average. It’s too restrictive, with lots of rules, and there’s no evidence it works. One expert said long-term weight loss is unlikely because the diet is unsustainable, while another expert described it as “idiotic.” 
Overall rank: 37
Overall score: 2.1 out of 5

#38 Whole30 Diet 

According to our panelists, the Whole30 diet might as well be called the biggest loser. Complaints about its absence of scientific support; its severely restrictive nature; its elimination of whole grains, legumes and dairy; and its short-term approach and long-term promises landed this diet in last place overall.
Overall rank: 38
Overall score: 2 out of 5

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jan 4 17, 23:09
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The Magical Ways Ashley Graham Completely Nailed 2016

2016 was a god awful year and the dread of what’s to come in 2017 is getting ever closer. But there were some good things to come out of this past year, and Ashley Graham’s increasing presence in the public eye is one of them. 

The model, designer and body activist has led the way toward shifting beauty standards in the fashion industry, whether it be through spreading her own message of body positivity or landing jobs historically reserved for models of a smaller size. It’s hard to think of a single person in fashion who had a better, more impactful year than the 28-year-old model. 

Still not convinced? Allow us to break it down for you chronologically. We could essentially create a running list of every successful minute of Graham’s year, but that would be creepy and we’d be here all day. So herewith, her biggest, boldest wins of 2016. 


Graham kicked off the year with a bang in January by being named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in Art and Style, thanks to her growing roster of magazine covers and a successful lingerie line.  


Then, in February Graham landed the cover of the iconic Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, becoming the first plus-size model to ever earn the highly coveted spot, and catapulting her to stardom. 


Just a few weeks later, Graham co-hosted E!’s Academy Awards red carpet coverage on Feb. 22 alongside Zanna Rassi, Kris Jenner and Giuliana Rancic wearing one insanely beautiful dress.


March brought the in-demand model to Paris, where she walked in H&M’s show at Paris Fashion Week. C’est bien!


She covered Maxim’s April issue, and then Cosmpolitan’s August issue and Self in October, to name a few. Shall we go on? 


We shall. In May, the supermodel appeared as Joe Jonas’ love interest in the video for DNCE’s “Toothbrush.” Jonas, Graham and DNCE were all praised for the move. The super sexy video didn’t hurt, either. 


Graham was unsurprisingly named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year in early November, but the month ended up being a double win when she was presented with a Barbie made in her likeness, complete with touching thighs


The very last day of November left us with one reason to be excited for 2017 ― she became the first plus-size model to land the cover of British Vogue.


Finally, Graham made her debut as a judge on the “America’s Next Top Model” reboot on Dec. 12, alongside Rita Ora, stylist Law Roach and photographer Drew Elliot. 

Bow down. 2016 was a great year for Graham.

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dec 14 16, 23:45
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The 9 Unwritten Rules That Every Grandparent Should Abide By

Rule #1: You’re responsible for staying in touch.

Whether they’re halfway through college or just starting kindergarten, one of the biggest complaints we hear about grandchildren is that they just don’t reach out. It’s a kid thing, not necessarily exclusive to the current generation. Either way, the onus is on you to stay in touch. 

“The ticket to keeping ties with your grandchild strong is maintaining open lines of communication,” says writer Jodi M. Webb. To do that, you need to reach out to kids in ways they’ll respond to. Learn to text! Communicate on social media! Make the occasional phone call! Ask about their interests, and try to keep things light and loving. 

Rule #2: The favorite grandparent is the one who is the most fun.

They might not admit it to your face, but secretly, grandkids have a favorite grandparent. (Admit it: You did, too.) The favorites are willing to try new things, suggest kid-friendly activities, and go with the flow. They’re the ones who laugh freely and hug closely, who—cliché as it is—have the most cookies on-hand. 

Rule #3: Offended? You gotta move on.

At some point, when it comes to your grandkids, you’re gonna feel left out, guilty, confused, frustrated, or worse. Your son and DIL might not invite you for Thanksgiving. Your grandson might disrespect you. Your granddaughter might forget your birthday! (Oy. That kid.) In these inevitable instances, you can air your feelings and even expect an apology. But unless it’s something irreversibly hurtful, you can’t harp. Grudges damage relationships. Forgiveness and communication strengthens them. Go high and be the bigger person.

Rule #4: Pitch in up front.

Grandbabies are a blessing, not to mention a ton of work, and new parents may need help during those first hectic months. (You did, right?) If your kids are amenable, lend a hand any way you can: cleaning, cooking, babysitting, etc. It’s a great way to get off on the right foot with your family, and—bonus!—you’re sure to get quality time with your new favorite infant.

Rule #5: Share the grandkids with others.

When a grandchild is born, you want that baby all to yourself, and probably always will. But there are other grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more to think about. Sharing can be hard. Head off problems by planning ahead and keeping lines of communication open. Try creating ground rules when appropriate (take turns visiting, switch holidays yearly, etc.), and be welcoming, flexible, and understanding. Oh, and wine helps, too.

Rule #6: Bite your tongue.

Disagree with your grandson’s sleep schedule? Think your daughter is too strict with sweets? Unless you’re asked directly or believe your grandbaby is in danger, keep your child-rearing opinions to yourself. Too often, a grandparent’s unsolicited advice comes off as veiled criticism, which can breed resentment and drive a wedge between family members. If you need to vent, your partner, friends, and coworkers are ready and waiting.

Rule #7: Act like your grandchildren are always watching (because they are).

“Saying we want good behavior from children can be vague for them, especially when they are young,” says children’s advocate Kathy Motlagh. In other words, if you want well-behaved grandkids with good values, talking isn’t enough; you have to practice what you preach. Model kindness and respect through your everyday actions. Resist impulses driven by anger and fear. Be the good in the world, and those babies will follow your example.

Rule #8: Get the gear.

To paraphrase a famed author, it is a truth universally acknowledged that grandparents in possession of good fortune must spend a little on stuff for visiting grandchildren. When the grandkids are young, a few books, toys, diapers, activities, bottles, and dishes are simple enough to acquire and store, and ensure parents don’t have to haul extra belongings. If overnight stays are in your future, you might consider a highchair, small stroller, or even a crib. Space and income will play a factor in your equipment list, but really, any effort will be appreciated.

Rule #9: There are no rules.

Grandparenting changes from generation to generation; you’re different from your grandparents, and your grandchildren will differ greatly from their own grandchildren. And while experience and history offer some guidance, all we can ultimately do is confront the challenges in front of us at any given time. Heed good advice, do your best, and love and enjoy your grandkids. It’s all anyone can ask for.

Also From

Grandparenting Gear Essentials

How To Model Values For Your Grandchildren

Feel Left Out? You’re Not Alone.



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dec 11 16, 17:21
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What NOT To Give Grandkids This Christmas

Learning My Own Lesson

The Christmas my middle daughter was about 4 years old, she received the most adorable, soft-bodied baby doll. We called it “Laughing Baby,” because when the doll’s tummy was pressed, she’d let loose an infectious giggle that would set my daughter into giggle fits galore. It was precious—the first 320 times. Then it was simply obnoxious and in need of silencing.

One night while my daughter slept, I carefully ripped open Laughing Baby’s seam, ripped out her laughing box, and quickly sewed her shut. I simply had to. Laughing Baby’s laughter was driving me mad.

The Rule of Ls

The only person I had to blame for the madness was myself—I was the idiot who purchased Laughing Baby. Thankfully, as gift-giver I had the right to render the giggly doll silent. If Laughing Baby had been a gift from one of my daughter’s grandparents, though, the guilt from surgically removing the giggle box would have been far too much for me. I’d have settled instead for a lifetime of loathing the gift giver for presenting my child with such a loud toy.

Before presenting my grandsons with a gift, I always keep Laughing Baby in mind and remember the Rule of Ls: Never give a gift that is loud, large or luxurious without asking for permission from the parents first. Read on for seven gift-giving no-nos for grandkids.

#1: Loud Gifts

Sure, a granddaughter may pine for a drum set, a grandson a dinosaur that roars repeatedly, or a stuffed dog that sings “We Will Rock You” over and over and over. Mom and Dad may be perfectly pleased with such a gift for their little ones. But we all know what happens when we assume. Don’t. Ask first.

#2: Large Gifts

That drum set is not only loud, it’s large. Swing sets are large, too. So are some McMansion-size dollhouses, bicycles, inflatable bouncy houses, and more. Cumbersome gifts can be the bane of families living in limited space. 

#3: Luxurious Gifts

There’s nothing more uncomfortable during the holidays than being on the receiving end of a costly and unexpected gift. I take that back. There is something worse: When one’s child receives something luxurious that may not be appreciated or taken care of in the manner the gift giver expects, leaving parents to pay a price in guilt and apologies for something they nor their children ever really wanted. 



#4: Top-of-the-List Gifts

Parents often set out to please their children with at least one deeply-desired toy or tech device. Purchasing the No. 1 gift a grandchild wants without first asking the parents could spoil the season for Mom and Dad. An offer to cover a coveted item may be sincerely appreciated or it may be perceived as stepping on the parents’ toes. 

#5: Age-Inappropriate Gifts

We grandparents know darn well our grandchildren are absolute geniuses and the recommended ages on toys and games mean nothing when it comes to their abilities. They do mean something, though, so follow them. Consider them, too, when there’s a younger sibling. How many Lego sets remain hidden away in an older child’s closet for fear a little brother might swallow the pieces? Perhaps Mom and Dad can formulate a plan to keep such gifts from being closet-bound and unused.

#6: Parents-Required Gifts

Nearly all gifts presented to grandkids require some outlay of time and talent on the part of the parent, especially gifts given to younger children. The time that busy moms and dads must add to their overloaded schedules to ensure assembly and enjoyment of some games, crafts, even local venue memberships may lead parents to be even more stressed—and grandparents to feel unappreciated and disappointed. Grandparents who can’t put in the time should ensure parents can. 

#7: Collectible Gifts

Many grandparents—myself included—enjoy giving grandchildren a special ornament for the family tree each year. If the grandchildren are young, though, they likely want to play with the gift. They likely will break the gift. They likely will be very sad if they open a present from their MeeMaw only to be told by their Mama “Do Not Touch!” because it will break. Consider age-appropriate ornaments. 

Also From Grandparents:

10 Easter Egg Crafts

10 Homemade Christmas Decorations You'll Adore

10 Best Ugly Christmas Sweaters

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dec 3 16, 17:16
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The 6 Medicare Mistakes Everyone Should Avoid

Choosing the Medicare plan that is right for you can be time-consuming, confusing, and frustrating. “I use automobiles as an analogy,” says Philip Moeller, author of Get What’s Yours for Medicare and a research fellow at The Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. “The auto industry has to adhere to all kinds of standards. Having said that, do people sometimes get bad cars? Yes they do. I think Medicare is the same. Medicare is a good system and CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has put in good safeguards, but people get substandard care all the time. I think eternal vigilance is the watchword of the day.”

So, how can you help yourself find the best Medicare plan? Start by sidestepping these mistakes.

Mistake #1: Making a decision without all the facts

When it comes down to it, you need to understand the pathways into Medicare and pick the one that makes sense for you. There are basically two options:

  1. You can get “Original Medicare,” which is offered by the government, and includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical coverage including doctor visits). To that coverage you’ll need to add Part D (a Prescription Drug Plan), and a Medigap/Medicare Supplement Plan (optional coverage that helps pay for the 20 percent of covered expenses that Part B ofOriginal Medicare doesn’t cover).

  2. You can get a Medicare Advantage Plan, offered by private insurance companies, which covers everything Medicare Part A & Part B covers, also generally includes prescription drugs, and also includes Medigap-like protection against catastrophic out-of-pocket expenses.

There are many differences between the two pathways. Original Medicare, for example, allows you to visit any doctor that takes Medicare, whereas Medicare Advantage Plans generally are comprised of networks of doctors that you need to choose from. The best way to get informed is to spend time online researching Medicare and your choices. Some great resources:

Mistake #2: Not signing up when you are initially eligible

“It used to be that everyone did this at the same time. You retired at 65, and signed up for Social Security and Medicare,” says Moeller. But not anymore. “Many people don’t retire at 65, and many don’t need Medicare at 65 if they are still working.” In terms of when you can sign up for Medicare, there is now an initial enrollment period, which takes place during a seven-month window surrounding your 65th birthday. There are also other special enrollment periods during the year for circumstances such as losing your job. 

What you don’t want to do is go without coverage for any length of time. “If you sign up late, you can face lifetime penalties,” says Moeller. This is particularly true for Medicare Part B (medical coverage that includes doctor visits), Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), and Medigap/Medicare Supplement Insurance (optional coverage that helps pay for the 20 percent Original Medicare doesn’t cover). 

Failing to sign up for Part B means your premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you could have been covered but weren’t enrolled. For Part D, you’ll be charged one percent of the “national base beneficiary premium” (amounting to $34.10 in 2016) for each month you didn’t have Part D coverage or creditable employer coverage. With Medigap/Medicare Supplement policies you won’t face late charges, but those policies have a limited open enrollment period—and missing it means you may get turned down later on. If you buy Medicare Supplement insurance within six months of initially signing up for Medicare, you are guaranteed enrollment in a policy, regardless of any existing health problems. After the initial enrollment period, you can be denied coverage if you don’t meet underwriting requirements.

Mistake #3: Not taking advantage of open enrollment

“If you already have Medicare you have this great opportunity for a do-over with open enrollment.” says Moeller. Open enrollment takes place October 15 - December 7 each year, and during that time you can reevaluate and switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

“The Kaiser Family Foundation did a study on Medicare Advantage Plans and found that if people shopped more actively, they could save hundreds of dollars a year,” says Moeller. Open enrollment is also a good time to reevaluate your Part D, or Prescription Drug Plan. These plans change all the time, says Moeller. Some drugs that were once covered under your plan may stop being covered; other drugs may go up or down in price. Drug plans can change their relationships with pharmacy networks, as well. And then there’s the situation where you have a drug plan and start taking a new medication. “Chances are ... you’re not going to do a lot of homework on how that drug is covered,” says Moeller. That means you may be paying more for that medication than necessary. The best thing to do during open enrollment, or beforehand, is to spend time with the plan finder tool on the web site, which allows you to compare drug plans and see which one is best for you.

Mistake #4: Not thinking ahead

When choosing a Medicare plan, you need to think forward. “I try to remind people that you are getting health insurance for a you that doesn’t exist right now,” says Moeller. “You’re getting health insurance for a future you, for you down the road.” So when choosing a plan, try to envision what you’ll need health-wise as time goes on. Are you someone who is sick often, and takes a lot of medication, which will likely continue, or do you think you’ll remain healthy? For a lot of people, their choice is based on money. “Many people low-ball and pick policies that are very cheap, but then they have health issues later on and they’re not well-covered,” says Moeller.

Mistake #5: Assuming Medicare covers everything

Just because you have Medicare, doesn’t mean all your health needs are covered. While many services are included (see a list here), most plans generally do not cover dental, vision, and hearing needs. Plans also notably don’t cover long-term care, including assisted living and nursing home care.

Mistake #6: Assuming you’re covered because your spouse is covered

If you receive insurance through your employer, often times you can get a plan that covers both you and your spouse. The same does not hold true for Medicare. You and your spouse each need your own Medicare plan. “People don’t want to deal with two insurers, and tend to default to get the same kind of coverage as their spouse,” says Moeller, “[but] as they get older, the odds grow that they don’t need the same healthcare coverage.” His advice: If you have substantially different healthcare needs, think about your own needs, too, and choose different plans that make sense for each of you. 

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