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LBS Beauty: Dove 7 Day Beauty Bar Challenge

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So I’ll admit it. I used to be somewhat of a bar snob. There are certain areas of my beauty regimen where I just refuse to settle for less than the best. When it comes to what goes on my face – it has to be good. Period. My skincare regimen has always been fairly simple (cleanser, toner, moisturizer) but since launching LoveBrownSugar.com I’ve started to add other elements like primers, serums, eye creams, and more. I’ll even get fancy and do a mask every now and again.

As a skincare aficionado, I juggle between using cream cleansers, gels and cleansing bars for my face, depending on the season and depending on the condition my skin is currently in. Though I have always been a Dove user, my Dove Beauty Bar was primarily used as a cleanser for my body and not my face. My assumption has always been that my higher priced premium bars were better for face cleansing. I mean, it has to be the best if it’s expensive, right?

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Fast forward to the taping of the Dove commercial that you all have likely seen by now. Here I was stacking my favorite (expensive!) bar up against the Dove Beauty Bar and like magic my beliefs about quality compared to price were dwindling faster than the yellow test paper. I was BLOWN.

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Shortly after the commercial, the Dove team invited me to embark on a 7 day beauty bar challenge. They asked me to test the Dove Beauty Bar for just 7 days and see for myself just how it would stack up against my other more expensive bar cleansers. So I took them up on their offer. Now listen, when it comes to my face, I do NOT play around. I was reluctant but I knew I had to try it so that I could honestly give you guys a recommendation. Plus I had to know for myself if what I saw on set was really true. So I went to work replacing my normal cleansing bars with the Dove Bar for 7 days.

It was a normal week for me. Crazy, per usual. I went from photoshoots to business travel to chasing Cady around the house, to braving the cold winter of Detroit for a last minute trip. From the first morning wash, I noticed that the Dove Beauty Bar didn’t leave any weird residue, and my skin didn’t feel stripped. That’s always a good sign. There’s nothing worse than washing your face with a bar then feeling that irritating tightness afterwards like someone has pulled your skin without your permission. It didn’t do that. Checkmark for Dove.

I did A LOT in that week, and I watched my skin for any signs of change. Going from one climate to another, traveling by air, working up a sweat chasing the little one, those are all scenarios that can typically create trouble for the skin. But throughout the week, my skin maintained its natural glow and moisture levels.

After using it for those 7 days, I can say with confidence that I didn’t notice any negative changes in my skin. It performed just as well as my premium bar and it’s way more affordable. On top of the 7 day beauty challenge, I’m incredibly proud to be affiliated with a brand like Dove for all of their self-esteem initiatives, for breaking the mold and using real women like me in their ads, and for being a champion of inclusion for all women of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors.

This post is sponsored by Dove. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.

The 2017 BrownGirlsLove Power 25: Yara Shahidi

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The BrownGirlsLove Power 25 is a list of young women to watch. They inspire us daily to dream big, move with confidence and pursue passionately. Each of these beauties are powerhouses and we’re honored to acknowledge their accomplishments during Women’s History Month. 

Name: Yara Shahidi

Age: 17

Her Power Moves: Being a champion for diversity in Hollywood, and being a bold political voice for her generation.

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Photo Credit: Adrienne Raquel

As one of Young Hollywood’s finest, we’re incredibly proud of Yara Shahidi for being determined and unapologetic about her political views. There’s a certain special dynamic among young women who are powerful forces like Yara. They command attention, they have undeniable beauty, and they use their platforms to empower and inspire with words and deeds.

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As an Iranian-American actress, Yara’s mixed heritage plays a significant role in her views and her will to champion diversity in Hollywood. She’s a mentor, an activist, and all-around badass all before turning 18. She also has a fierce, envy-worthy head of kinky curls that we can’t get enough of.

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Photo Credit: Daniela Vesco

Show This Brown Girl Love:

Follow Yara on Social Media: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook |

Watch Black-Ish. It’s hilarious and she’s amazing. (Wednesdays on ABC: 9:30/8:30c – check local listings. There’s a spinoff show with just Yara’s character, on the horizon as well!) We can’t wait to see Yara continue to shine.

Keep up with the BrownGirlsLove Power 25 using the hashtag #BrownGirlsLovePOWER

LBS Mompreneur Diaries: I Cry Myself To Sleep, Sometimes

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How does that title make you feel? I Cry Myself To Sleep Sometimes. Does it make you uncomfortable? Are you shocked or surprised? Does it make you feel sorry? Or sad? However it makes you feel, hold onto that. Welcome to a day in my life.

6:00am I open my eyes and say a brief prayer, thanking God for waking me up but simultaneously asking Him why I’m here. “What do I have left to accomplish on this earth? What do You have for me to do?” I take a mental inventory of my day. Get up, pray, set out Cadence’s clothes, pack Cady’s bag for her weekend at Daddy’s, make sure her homework is in her backpack, make sure her toothbrush is in a Ziploc, and don’t forget her leave-in conditioner and hair butter because God forbid Daddy has to brush those curls tomorrow morning without it.

6:30am I’m in the bathroom, staring in the mirror. My eyes are huge and one looks slightly bigger than the other. I squint to exaggerate the difference. I have dark circles. I need to lose 20 more pounds, maybe 25. I want my teeth whitened. I like my boobs but I wish I could wear strapless tops. I walk over to the closet. A sweatshirt and leggings will do today. And a red lip so people take me seriously. It’s a travel day. Again.

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6:45am Time to get Cady up for school. I run my finger down the side of her chubby cheek. She still has a little baby fat, even though she’s growing like a weed. I feel mommy guilt creeping in. Today, I’ll be gone for an entire 4 days on a work trip. I can’t cancel the trip. It’s being sponsored. It’s work. I need all these coins to pay for this expensive private pre-K she’s in. I am a bad mother for going. But I am an even worse mother if I don’t go. Cady has to go to school. I have to go on work trips. Still, I wish I could lay here with her a little longer.

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7:30am We’re off to school. Cady wanted pancakes but we don’t have time for Aunt Jemima. So yogurt, fruit and a cereal bar on the way to the car, it is. Mommy guilt is hovering again. Brush it off, girl. You have 20 minutes to spread 4 days worth of love, kisses and hugs on baby girl before you drop her off at school. Pull yourself together. Be stronger.

8:00am Back at our apartment and feeling overwhelmed. I have 3.5 hours to catch a flight. I have 2 projects overdue with a client. I have nothing to wear on this business trip. My curls are dry and badly in need of a deep condition. The dishes are piled up like Mount Everest.

Suddenly, I get a text from an old friend. It’s a screenshot accompanied by “I saw your commercial on Bravo last night during Housewives! Way to go!!”

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For 5 seconds I’m excited. Maybe I’m not a failure. Then, my eyes fixate on the dirty dishes. I sure wish that friend was here to help me clean and pack. I wish for her help more than I wish for her “congratulations” text right now. I’m being ungrateful. I muster up a “Thank you SO much!!” I’m sure she’ll tell her coworkers we were once good friends. I’m happier for her than I am for myself.

9:30am One project down and one load of laundry left. I pause to clear my inbox. Mom texts me “Safe travels!” and I realize I haven’t called her all week. I’m a bad daughter, too. She’s probably packing Dad’s lunch and waiting for him to come home from dialysis. What a failure I was for being too fat and unhealthy to give my Dad a kidney last year. I hope he gets one. I pray everyday that he gets one and he can get off dialysis. I shed a tear, thinking about it, and then I realize I have 2 hours until my car arrives to bring me to the airport. I don’t have time to be emotional. I text mom back “Thanks! Love you.” and I go on clearing my inbox. If I can just get to a clear inbox, life will be a little better. I’ll be less of a mess, if I don’t owe anyone an email response.

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11:30am I’m on board my flight. I text Cadence’s Dad to remind him where her leotard and tap shoes are for dance class this weekend. I dread this 3 hour flight and at the same time I feel guilty for resenting an opportunity to fly. “You and your first world problems,” I say to myself. “Some people don’t even have clean water.” I close my eyes and whisper a prayer to God. “God, please don’t let me die on this flight,” I say to Him. Most of me means it, some of me doesn’t. And then I ask Him for peace. I ask Him to cover my family while I’m gone. I ask Him to remember that I’m now 30 years old and by this time I really wanted to own a home with a white picket fence, I really wanted to be married, I really wanted TWO kids and I really wanted to be 30 pounds lighter. I also really wanted to be best friends with Oprah, sipping tequila in her backyard in my spare time. I hope He still hears me. “But thanks also, God, that to the outside world I’m a success. Please help me to be better at this gratitude thing. I love you. Amen.”

3:00pm My phone is ringing off the hook. I’m getting a flood of texts. A huge celebrity told all of her cult followers to follow me and now I have another reason to be super excited for these blessings on blessings, but I’m also overwhelmed by the pressure. Should I repost it? I’m really not that interesting. Why are people following me again? They shouldn’t.

My horrible memory can’t currently recall what hotel I’m staying at tonight, so I look at my driver in bewilderment when he asks me where we’re going. “It should be in the app,” I respond, annoyed. I mean what’s the point of entering the address into the app, if the driver actually expects you to know where you’re going? I’ll repost it. I mean, I can’t NOT say anything. Right? But now all these new people are watching me. I’m really not that cool. Am I? “God, this is not what I asked for,” said in my most ungrateful voice. “Ok, sorry God I take it back.” I post. I get likes. I apologize to the driver for being absent-minded. It’s a great day.

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4:30pm My assistant managed to find a photographer to capture my first day in this city. Back at the hotel, I change up my makeup and put on a new outfit. I meet the photographer outside my hotel to catch the last few hours of sunlight. These will help me “do it for the ‘gram”. I can’t go somewhere and not document it. That’s unheard of. It’s like a betrayal, to go somewhere beautiful and not share it with social media. So I pose and smile and act like there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be but here. Even though I’d much rather be on a beach somewhere with no internet, Cady sleeping in my arms and not a care in the world.

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The lighting is perfect. I post the best pic. I get likes. It’s still a good day.

7:00pm The last email is answered. I’m rummaging the mini bar, hoping there’s a bottle of Pinot in the back to go with my room service. Need wine. Must have wine.

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Jackpot! I spot the Pinot. I pour a glass. I close my laptop and I hear that familiar tune on my phone. Cady is Facetiming me from her grandma’s phone. I hide the wine. “Hi mommy!” I see those adorable chubby cheeks and I wave. She tells me about her day. That her classmate Emily at school played blocks with her. That she learned about the letter “S” today. And that she misses me. “I miss you too baby! I love you so much.” I wish I could be there with her. *Sips more wine*

9:30pm Here I am again – incredibly aware of my loneliness. In a hotel room, on a business trip on the verge of “taking over the world”, so everyone thinks. But why, then, do I constantly feel like I’m not enough? I’ve finished off the mini bottle of Pinot and now I’m contemplating the Cabernet, too. I check Instagram. The likes and follows are still stacking up. A few tears start to fall. I’ll just cry and close my eyes and when I wake up in the morning this will all be over. Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself. “God will you help me? I need your help.” My last plea before I call it a night. I look at an old photo of me and Cadence. For her, I just can’t give up.

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11:00pm I can’t sleep. I open my laptop back up. I start to write. I write about myself. I write stories about others who inspire me. I start to plan out an event series that I can produce that shows other people that they don’t have to be perfect to be successful. I respond to that email from that girl in Missouri who told me she was starting a new business and needed a little advice and encouragement. I write my hopes and dreams down on a small hotel pad of paper. Suddenly I feel hopeful, instead of hopeless. If I just keep empowering others, I’ll figure this thing out. I’ll continue to be blessed. I say a brief “Thank you” to God for giving me an outlet for my frustration and pain tonight. One that will hopefully inspire others and give them hope. I close my eyes and brace for another day.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to give you all a peek into my life, as a woman, as a mom, as a human just trying to make it day to day. A transparent look at my thoughts, my actions and why it’s so important for us women to admit that we’re not perfect so we can get over the stigma of “perfection is necessary” and step into our power as flawed, but beautiful beings.

Here are 4 ways you can make a shift and embrace your power:

1. You’re a super woman, but you are not Superwoman. Be honest with yourself and with others when you need HELP. Don’t think you have to do everything yourself.

2. Do not feel bad about crying yourself to sleep. We all do it, sometimes. Including me. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. The key is to go to sleep happy more times than not. If it’s the other way around, seek counsel and don’t feel bad about it.

3. Get up each day and use your talents and gifts to pour into others – that alone is a sign of your super power and strength. Your unique gifts are to be shared with the world. Don’t hide or hoard them because you don’t think you’re good enough. You are enough.

4. Find your purpose and cling to The Source. My source is God. He gives me strength, peace, joy and everything I need to make it through the day. Whatever your source is, hold onto it firmly and understand that you’re here on Earth to serve a purpose.

I really hope this helps someone. Even just one person. Feel free to leave a comment if this helped you, and please share words of encouragement with another woman today. We need it.

LBS Chic: 90’s Style Inspiration by VH1’s The Breaks

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True story – when I saw VH1’s trailer for “The Breaks”, I was hyped. I love the 90’s. No really. As a late-80’s baby, I grew up in the 90’s and I still get nostalgia thinking about all the iconic style. I loved everything about it from the boombox culture to the dark-lip-and heavy brow beauty moments to the graphic sweats and ripped jeans.

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So when elements of 90’s style (like the dark lip, the choker, distressed denim) came back into mainstream as cyclical fashion does, I embraced it with open arms.

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VH1’s The Breaks series currently airs on Monday nights on VH1, and it picks up where the original TV-movie left off. If you saw it, you know it’s set in New York City in 1990, at the height of rap’s “Golden Age” of creativity.

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The main character Nikki (Afton Williamson) lands a dream job as the assistant to the legendary and out-of-control Barry Fouray (Wood Harris) while her best friend and producer DeeVee (Mack Wilds) is working with new rapper Ahm (Antoine Harris), who is currently under investigation by the police for murder. It’s crazy yall. But so SO good. Check out the trailer below:

If you haven’t seen it, you need to get your life. They’re currently offering a full Season Pass to the series on iTunes. With a pass, you own every episode plus bonus content, so you never miss a beat (corny pun, I know).

 

One of you lucky folks will get a Season Pass for FREE courtesy the folks at VH1! Just leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite memory or style trend from the 90’s. We’ll contact you when a winner is chosen. Good luck!

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Photography by Royal Light

ABOUT THE BREAKS

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

This post is sponsored by VH1. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.

LBS Mompreneur Diaries (Working Mom Edition): Asmau Ahmed

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I’ve partnered up with Capital One for another “Working Mom” edition of LBS Mompreneur Diaries, featuring women of color who are killing it at work and at home. Capital One is consistently recognized for its exceptional workplace culture and for supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives across the entire organization. That’s why I’m excited to present this series, because Capital One gets it. They’ve been ranked on Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” and Working Mother Magazine’s “100 Best Companies” to name a few.

Hopefully you read and loved our last interview with Alicia Thompson. This week’s featured mom is Asmau Ahmed. As a mother of two and an engineer turned entrepreneur, Asmau Ahmed is the founder of tech startup Plum Perfect and now a leader in Digital Project Management at Capital One. Asmau founded a venture-funded tech start up whose groundbreaking visual search and recommendation engine she nurtured from an idea to a product embraced by top retailers, major brands, and consumers in over 150 countries. Asmau is one of only 12 black women to have raised more than $1million in VC funding. We talked about her transition from entrepreneur to intrapreneur at Capital One, how she achieves work/life balance, the importance of STEM education, and how she’s helping to close the tech gap for women of color.

 

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Why did you want to become an engineer?
I’ve loved the sciences for as long as I can remember. My dad was an aeronautical engineer so I’m sure that was part of my influence. My mom nurtured my love for science at an early age and supported me. She actually turned our laundry room into a chemistry lab for me.

As someone who has been an entrepreneur, what insights are you bringing to your role at Capital One?
Most entrepreneurs thrive on the concept of having an idea and being able to see that idea turn into a product or service that people eventually engage with. With Plum Perfect, I started out with an idea to build a visual search engine that would utilize social media to build commerce and advertising. It was just a concept. Part of why I joined Capital One is that I’m able to do that same thing here. I get to have an idea or concept, build it out, and then see it go to market. I didn’t want to be at an organization where that concept got lost. At Capital One, there really is a culture of innovation.

Can you share how you bring balance to your life, managing family and work?
That was huge for me when I was contemplating this role. It was critical for me to be able to maintain balance. Most people say you’re never able to create true balance but I wanted to feel like there was an end to “work” and a start to “home”. I wouldn’t have joined the Capital One team if I didn’t feel that balance was supported. That’s the culture we have here. There were times that I wasn’t able to achieve that as a full-time entrepreneur. I remember there was an entire week that went by and I would leave for work before my son woke up and get home after he went to bed. That’s when I realized that lifestyle was not sustainable long term.

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With that said, it is a busy home and work schedule and I have obligations outside of those areas as well, like Plum Perfect. Capital One encourages me to maintain my ideas and experiences outside of my role here. I have worked at many organizations before, and I don’t think I would have the same level of balance that I do now if it wasn’t for Capital One.

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Why is STEM education important, particularly for little girls of color?
When people say STEM careers, most people think of engineering. But it really affects everything we do today. Whether you’re a writer, or a doctor or a driver, STEM careers affect and touch everyone. Having a STEM foundation will be important in participating in this new technology wave. Tech is defining an evolution in so many areas, even medicine.

Particularly with girls of color, there is a tech gap today. The tech industry can be biased. We build technologies based on our personal experiences. So when you have mostly white men building these technologies, you’re going to find a huge gap between what applies to us (as women of color) and what applies to them. And that gap is widening daily. I spoke recently at digitalundivided’s 2017 BIG Demo Day sponsored by Capital One. And there were so many brilliant ideas presented, by women of color, that might have gone unheard if it weren’t for organizations like that. So, it is important for us to have people in the driver seat who can build and cater to our experiences.

[Capital One is also proud to continue to support Black Girls Code. If you aren’t already involved, visit http://www.blackgirlscode.com/ to volunteer, donate, and learn more.]

What advice would you give to an up & comer who wants a STEM career?
Just get started. If you don’t have an engineering background, it’s ok. You don’t have to know how to code. If you know how to logically think through the execution of your idea, start there. That’s what coding is. Refine your idea and hire talent to help you. Get educated and stop second guessing yourself.

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As someone who has filled both roles, do you have any advice for entrepreneurs turned intrapreneurs and vice versa?
Build a team around you that understands how to build your business. As women of color, we face unique challenges that are hard to navigate if you don’t have the right partners in place. Surround yourself with the right people. You need the right investors, clients, and colleagues. One of the reasons I joined Capital One is because there is a culture of diversity and inclusion here. They were looking for people like me. For entrepreneurs that are looking to exit, look for workplaces that have the right cultural fit and figure out how you can cater to their market and help them increase enterprise value.

Is she inspiring or what? Be sure to keep up with our LBS Mompreneur Diaries series to keep up with other inspiring mommies. Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this!

This post is sponsored by Capital One. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.

3 Reasons To Tell Your Unique Story

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“No one is you and that is your superpower.” We have all read and been temporarily inspired by the meme, but how many of us really believe that what we have to offer is special? Author, blogger, and Power Day speaker Ty Alexander’s story of success, loss, and continuous healing is truly exceptional. By penning her book “Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died” and being transparent with her blog Gorgeous in Grey she has managed to share her story with others that need the encouragement and support of knowing they are not alone. Unsure about why the world needs you to step and share? She’s got great three reasons for you. Check them out below!

1. It’s Therapeutic

I never realized how insanely therapeutic talking through my story could be. Each time I tell it I become more aware of how far I’ve come. When I start with “I slept on couches when I first came to NY” or when I realize I’m saying “I did my first commercial” I’m wowed at my journey all over again.

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2. It’s helping others

When I shared that a part of my journey included losing my mother, women who had been through the same experience began to reach out. I realized that it only takes one conversation with one woman to make them change their ideas on death and grief. Sharing my story gave them permission to live independently from that grief. Sharing our stories reminds us that it’s ok to live beyond that story and that story isn’t our only existence in the world.

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3. It’s proves we are not alone.

Not only did I realize I was giving women permission to live independently but I was a constantly reminder that they weren’t alone in this. When we are going through the fire it’s hard to see others on the sidelines cheering for us. It’s hard to see that we aren’t the only ones in this race.

Want more tips on how to help others and yourself by sharing your unique story in 2017? Join us on January 7th for the 2nd annual BrownGirlsLove Power Day!

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3 Tips For Using Your Influence To Build A Lifestyle Brand

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BrownGirlsLove Power Day is about empowering you with resources and encouragement so that you can kick off your 2017 with power! One of your biggest resources is your influence! We tapped Power Day speaker, model, blogger, and beauty entrepreneur Africa Miranda to share three tips on how she converted her significant social influence into a complete lifestyle brand. Africa just recently launched a beauty elixir and she has more on the way. Here’s what she had to say about building a lifestyle brand:

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3 Tips For Fab Finances in 2017

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We are only one week away from our 2nd annual Power Day! We’ve asked some of our amazing speakers to provide you guys with a few tips to kick off 2017 with POWER! First up is Tonya Rapley of My Fab Finance with 3 Tips for Fab Finances in 2017! Check them out below:

1. Take Regular Financial Assessments

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Start with your first assessment during the first week of the year. That’s a given! But then regularly check on your expenses, and your progress. It’s better to realize that you’re behind on your goals in June, than to let the entire year pass you by leading to disappointment in December. Things you should assess include: your credit score, your purchase categories, your savings, and retirement savings progress.

2. Question Your Spending

All too often we buy out of habit and not out of understanding. I’m not saying don’t buy things. But you should ask yourself questions before you buy. Questions you should ask: “Do I really need this?”, “What purpose will it serve?”, and “Am I buying this to appeal to others or is it a legitimate investment in my goals?”. These questions are helpful in combating unnecessary purchases.

3. Join a Community

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Accountability is powerful. It binds you to the relentless pursuit of your goals. When you align yourself with others who are committed to achieving the same goals, a healthy competition and camaraderie evolves that can super-charge your focus. In my Triumph Club, members celebrate each others’ financial successes and learn from one another. While your immediate circle might not be on the same financial page as you, it’s helpful to a be a part of a community that understands your journey.

Want more awesome tips like these? Join us for the “Girls Just Wanna Have Funds” Panel on this Saturday, January 7th at Power Day 2017 in NYC! Click below to purchase tickets:

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Must-Have Easy Holiday Gift Ideas

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Around holiday time, it can be really tricky when you’re shopping for friends and family. There are so many options out there and staying under budget can be a challenge. My problem is always going into a store to shop items for my loved ones and coming out of the store with bags on bags for myself!! It’s a TRAP I tell ya! Anyway, I partnered up with TheOutfit.com and JCPenney to show you guys how to get chic and timeless gifts for friends and family without breaking the bank. Here’s the first quick and easy idea:

Get High Tech 

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Headphones are the quintessential gift for pretty much anyone on your list. Who doesn’t like music? These are perfect for anyone who commutes, travels often or simply wants to shut out noise from the outside world. Get ahead of the game and go wireless. They will love you forever (or until invisible headphones are invented).

Check out the full list of my quick & easy holiday gift suggestions by clicking over to TheOutfit.com

This post is sponsored by JCPenney in partnership with TheOutfit. All opinions expressed here are my own and not those of the company.

 

LBS Reads: Ty Alexander’s “Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died”

 

tiwinMany stories have been shared of the psychological effects of facing one’s mortality. A woman is diagnosed with lupus and reevaluates her commitment to work-life balance. A man survives prostate cancer and is inspired to become a better father. Less is told of those left behind – the children, cousins, siblings, and friends who are left face to face with their greatest fears and inadequacies when someone they loves is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Gorgeous in Grey’s Ty Alexander recounts her experiences worrying about, caring for, and ultimately mourning her late mother with beautiful honesty in “Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mother Died”. Part memoir, part self-help book, this first effort from Alexander is the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one dealing with grief this holiday season.

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