Phicklephilly – Do It Yourself

“What’s with all the ads on my favorite blog?”

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It’s been an interesting time during quarantine due to the Covid-19 crisis. I’ve had the pleasure of finally taking a rest from working 55 hours a week on my feet in a business that’s incredibly challenging. My daughter and I worked in the same industry, and we both agree that we needed a break. I think the workforce as a whole needed a break.

The first week or so it was just strange. Then we sort of settled into the fact that we couldn’t go to our jobs anymore.

What would we do with this sudden, paid free time?

We’ve had some ideas.  I decided to make phicklephilly.wordpress.com into my own domain. I bought Phicklephilly.com four years ago and own it. So I called the nice folks over at GoDaddy and had that integrated into my site. Now it’s more searchable on Google and has brought so much more traffic to the site. If you google phicklephilly now, it’s the first thing that comes up. That, and my books.

With that came wordpress ads. They run ads on your site, and that generates revenue. You have to complete a bunch of forms for that and give them all of your tax info. Because it’s real income.

But here’s the thing… the revenue for the ads run is minimal. They’ll serve thousands of ads on your site. But the return is tiny. Phicklephilly has been around for over four years and I have a tons of content. (Over 2,000 posts) I’ve always been prolific. I figured, more content, more page views. It worked, but I’d probably need millions of page views to make any money from these free ads thrown to me by wordpress.

I’m not complaining, but I felt I needed to do more. So I recently signed up for Google Analytics. That opens up the world of Adsense. Once that’s processed over the next few weeks, that’ll generate ads on my site which will equal more revenue. I’m looking forward to that. The site is really coming into it’s own. We’ve hit 50,000 page views so far this year, with 84,000 visitors, 2200 subscribers, and over 147,000 page views since its inception. So, we’re growing.

But while writing Angel with a Broken Wing, there was something nagging at me. The itch I had to create was being satiated by writing the book, but I felt there was something more I could do for Phicklephilly. The little blog that started me on this journey shortly after the death of my father in 2016.

I started to think… I’m putting all of these pieces together, is there something else I could do?

While creating Angel with a Broken Wing I would listen to music on Youtube. I’ve been listening to everything! It’s been great, but sometimes between songs they run these commercials. I don’t really mind it if it doesn’t go on to long. I grew up in a world where radio and TV were supported by commercials.

I worked in advertising for 10 years when I returned to Philadelphia from New York back in 2007.

I remember as I was typing one day, this ad came on for a company called, Dr. Squatch. I stopped what I was doing to watch it. Normally, when people are enjoying  a show or listening to music, all they want to do is skip the ads. But Dr. Squatch’s ads were so good, I was captivated by their brand. It was a brilliant, fun campaign to promote their male hygiene products. You know an ad is good when you WANT to watch it because it’s so engaging.

It got me thinking… all I did for 10 years in Philly was sell advertising. Digital advertising. For Philly.com, a happy hour website, and Philly Weekly. I started with nothing at all three of those companies and made it work. Most people don’t like to sell, or can’t sell. Either you have it or you don’t. No one likes rejection, and that’s 95% of sales. You need mad game to sell. It’s a ruthless, thankless business. But perfect for me. An over achiever with low self esteem, and a track record of closing impossible deals. In banking as a broker I was a million dollar producer every year. At Philly.com I was billing $40k a month. It all comes down to who will relentlessly make calls on clients, meet with them, close them, cross sell them, and get referrals. Then repeat that over and over again. That’s sales. Just run down the game and kill it everyday. Like a lion on the savanna, you hunt every day to feed your cubs. Most days you go hungry. But you keep at it. Most don’t have the will to keep at it. But if you do, like anything else, eventually you’ll make a kill.

So, here I am creating content for my dating and relationship blog here in Philly during quarantine. How can I write a blog like this in quarantine? I feel like I’ve been grounded by my parents and I can’t go out and do what I do socially.

But, while I’m waiting for WordPress and google analytics and adsense to all come together for me, I should maybe try to do what I’m good at.

Sell digital advertising while I’m waiting for them to get their act together. It’s what I’m good at. Selling stuff. Any job I’ve ever worked where I don’t get to create or sell stuff I usually fail. Because we have plenty of people that are built to take orders and work hard to build somebody else’s dream. Business leaders love cheap labor.

Don’t get me wrong… Phicklephilly, and writing books isn’t my dream. The only dream I ever had died 40 years ago in Los Angeles as a failed rockstar. Now the only dreams I have come to me during slumber and that’s just my brain dumping thoughts, feelings and images to keep me sane.

Phicklephilly has been a glorious hobby. Yea, it’s a hobby. If you don’t have a hobby, you should think about maybe getting one. It’s a lovely release from all of the things you HAVE to do everyday to survive. It’s a sweet little pleasure that you get to create.

It’s kind of cool to watch something that started as a passion or a hobby become something bigger. It’s like a garden. You tend the seeds and the plants and vegetables, with water, care and sunlight. It starts to grow. Because you care about it. You like it. It’s fun. It feels good. It’s not a job to pay the bills. It’s your thing. It belongs to you. 

I don’t know why I never thought about this back in March, but I guess I was busy writing my book. But it started to work on me about two months ago. Back in May I decided that part of my day would be dedicated to going through all of my leads and contacts. I have hundreds from New Jersey, New York, and obviously Philly.

I would spend only one hour a day for 60 days going through all of my social contacts, (business ones, not you drunken assholes) business contacts, business cards, Linkedin, old sales files from the last 20 years, and see what that would yield. I called on every advertising agency in my old book of business. I knew if I dug into all of my New York contacts, I could mine some gold. Sometimes the one hour goal would stretch beyond that, but I wanted to do it everyday consistently. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, in case it never came to fruition.

Which brings me to this.

The sight obviously looks different. Especially the sidebar. I wanted to fit them all in where I could.

At least for now.

What’s weird is… I remember being contacted years ago by acquaintances that had attached themselves to me like sea lampreys in the industry. They had their websites about Philly, or food, or music. They always wanted me to sell ads for them on their sites. I have no idea what their business plan was for their sites, but I can guess. Write a blog with some relevant content about something they were passionate about. But somewhere they thought they’d like to run ads on their site and make money. Sadly, they didn’t possess the ability to execute that part. So they approach some schlub to do it for them. They have no revenue to pay said individual. Sadly, all of those sites have failed, and hopefully those folks found jobs somewhere. I get it. Great idea. Poorly executed.

But don’t be nice to me thinking I’m going to do your job for you. That’s just fiction, man.

Most writers can write, But there aren’t really any writers out there that can sell.

So, I’ve been digging in hard everyday for the last few months to maybe monetize Phicklephilly. There’s no way I’d do this for free for someone else’s little dream, but for my little hobby…sure.

I haven’t sold advertising since 2017. But I still have all of my contacts from my corporate life. I haven’t had a platform worth selling anything on. But the cool thing is, Phicklephilly just sort of grew like a weed over the last 4 years. It grew because I gave it a lot of love. (Along with all of you reading this!)

So here we are.

Funny what you can accomplish when you don’t have a job to go to.

I know for the moment the site is looking a bit cluttered, but I wanted to show everybody that decided to run on my site. I’ll clean it up, and WordPress and Google will help me out.

I’m blown away by the support that all of these brands have brought to Phicklephilly. 

I want to take a moment and thank everybody!

ALYAKA, AQUATALIA, BERETTA, BERRYLOOK, HARD TAIL, TRETORN, BUXTON, EVERLAST (You guy have been great! I appreciate all of the rapid responses!) FREDRICKS OF HOLLYWOOD (I have a story for you guys from my youth when I first saw your ads in a Hollywood gossip mag!) GRAND SLAM – NEW YORK, JACH’S – NEW YORK, KATY PERRY (Katy… your agency is a delight to work with!) LANCER, LIFELINE, LUVYLE   (I love you guys! Thanks for Berrylook!), MADDA FELLA, MADISON STYLE, PURLISSE, ROYAL DOULTON (Thank you guys in London for being first!), SLEEPSTAR, SMOKO (Beautiful ads, guys!), WATERFORD, WEDGWOOD, YOUNGBLOOD MINERAL COSMETICS (Best models ever!)

You guys rock! You’ve all been so kind and patient with me. I can write, but I suck at all of the technical stuff. I just love that I was able to pitch you guys and you got it. I can’t run all of your stuff all of the time, but I’ll do my best to promote your brands on the site to the best of my abilities!

Thank you!

(If any of you readers have any opinions about the way the site looks, please let me know!)

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

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ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING: Inspiration and Behind the Scenes – Part 1

The truth behind the story!

This is a 4 part mini series I wrote over the weekend as a companion to my recently published book. It will run over the next 4 weeks, every Monday morning at 8am!

Thank you!

Angel with a Broken Wing is my first work of fiction. It’s got all of my favorite elements in it. But where do these ideas come from? Well, I’m going to tell you.

I’m going to think back and try to remember some of the inspiration for this story.

I am obviously Christian Blackmore. Not anymore, but I was back in the 90’s. I was miserable in my marriage and my job, and I wished  I could just run away from the life I had created. I assembled his name from the word, Christian. Thinking he was a good Christian. He was a good man despite his shortcomings. Blackmore comes from the darkness that lies within him. More Blackness. (As a musician, I always liked the name of Deep Purple and Rainbow founder, Ritchie Blackmore, so there’s also that.)

The Cover: I was an art major all through school. When I think about that now, it feels like a million miles away. I liked comic books growing up, and my first exposure to art was in comics. I always made art throughout my childhood, so art class was a natural progression for me in school. It was the only class that was effortless.

I loved to work in pen and ink. I liked its stark simplicity. I have several works from high school that I still retain in my collection. This one, The Angel is my favorite.

It was an incredibly cold day in February of 1980. I was in my double period, art major class. There were only two of us in the class that were any good. Me and Bill Polini.

I looked out the window as the snow came flying. I took pen in hand, and imagined a beautiful girl. In a warm place. She’s with me. We’re maybe riding horses…or camels. She turns to look at me, and the reflection of the oasis behind me reflects in her sunglasses. I long to kiss her.

“Yea. I should try to draw that.”

Uncle John: I had an uncle John on my mother’s side of the family. I share many of the same characteristics of my mom’s side of the family more than my dad. My mother had four brothers; Roland, Robert, Norman, and John. All of her brothers kept their hair and all died in their late 70’s and 80’s so maybe if my liver holds up, I’ll meet the same fate. John never left me any inheritance, but my uncle Rob left all of us kids some loot and it was substantial. He lived in Florida.

The Pinto: My grandmother, (My dad’s mom) We called her Grammy. I loved her. When everybody thought I was a piece of garbage in my early teens, she was the only one that had faith in me. So She will always have a special place in my heart. She was a cool lady, who liked a cold glass of beer and some good neighborhood gossip. Just an adorable lady. When she died, the last car she owned was a gold Ford Pinto. That car is my last memory of her. So I used it in the story. The car’s fate is based on stories I heard back in the 70’s about an engineering flaw in the vehicle.

Woodbury, New Jersey: I lived in Woodbury from 1992 to 2001. My wife and I owned a house on Barber Street. I modeled Christian Blackmore’s residence after my own house there. So when I wrote about him in his house in Woodbury, I could picture my own life there.

The Phoenix: I remember first hearing about the story of the Phoenix on an old record album. It was a collection of stories about superheroes. It was like an old radio show type collection of plays on one LP. I remember hearing about the Phoenix in one of those stories, probably back as far as 1973. When one of the characters describes the Phoenix, it is a verbatim rendition of what I heard on that record, nearly 50 years ago. I always felt like I could relate to the Phoenix in my own life. I always felt that no matter how many times I got destroyed in my life, I always came back better than what I was before. I think that’s why I have the characters make a stop over in Phoenix, Arizona on their journey to LA. There are some transforming moments for a few of them in that chapter.

Gloucester County College: When I was married back in the 90’s my then wife came from a very collegiate family. I never went to college, but had several college credits from the American Institute of Banking through courses I had taken through the bank I worked for. My wife thought I should go back to college at night and take courses to get my college degree. So I did. I took those classes at night after work, at Gloucester County Community College. I don’t feel that it was a waste of time, because it led to some interesting things. I’ll be getting to them shortly.

The Gun: Everything you read in Angel about the Bulldog .44 revolver is true. I never owned a gun, and like Christian Blackmore, I hate guns. But all of the info about that weapon is from real events. The story Christian tells Sheryl about the girl at the shore is all true. That happened to me in the summer of 1977. Funny thing is, I recently reconnected with that girl from New York on Facebook. (At 57, she’s still hot!) Oh, one last thing, I had to make a slight change in the action sequence involving that gun. During the final edits of the book I discovered that the bulldog .44 only holds 5, not 6 bullets like most revolvers! I guess because those bullets are so big!

Sheryl Stanton: Sheryl was inspired by a girl I met in one of the banking courses I took at Gloucester County College. I pretty much describe Sheryl as how this girl was in real life. We had a good friendship for a brief period and even had some romantic dalliances. She did break it off with me when she moved to California for a period of time. The real Sheryl never worked in a mental health facility. That’s completely made up for the story.

Karl Itzky: The first kid I met when I went to Frankford High School in 1978, was a guy named Karl Itzky. He was the only person I knew other than my older sister. I just liked his name. He is nothing like the Karl Itzky in the book. He was a nice guy, who I sadly lost touch with when I moved up the social ladder in high school.

Honest Files: The name of the bar/restaurant where Christian and Sheryl hang out is taken from a song by the band, Urge Overkill. There are many references in the book about music I was listening to back in the 90’s where this story takes place. It’s from their album, Exit the Dragon. Here are some of the lyrics from the song:

Hey, hey I’m dead on arrival
Hey, hey I’m distant
Crawling right back
Yes, I’m crawling right back
‘Cause I’m honesty, don’t break my heart
Honesty won’t break it
Honesty won’t break you heart
Honest it won’t
It won’t, it won’t, it won’t, it won’t, it won’t…

I thought it was a cool song, and that bar is where I hung out with the real Sheryl back then. It’s where we would spill our guts to each other about everything in our lives. I used to say we were opening the ‘Honesty Files’ about what we were experiencing at that time.

The real place is exactly the way I describe it in the book. The animal trophies on the walls, all of the real bookcases all around the room, and the fireplace. We spent many a night there pounding martinis and smoking tons of cigarettes. (Yea, you could smoke in restaurants and bars back then!) It was a welcome repose from our chaotic lives.

Exterior - Picture of Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, Woodbury ...

Here’s the real Honesty Files… It’s a place called Charlie Brown’s at 111 Broad Street, in Woodbury, NJ

 

More next week!

 

You can buy Angel with a Broken Wing on kindle and paperback right here:

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

5 Changes To Expect In The Workplace After COVID-19

As a result of the coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same. Even the word “workplace” suddenly seems obsolete, as the physical location in which we now work has merged with the places in which we eat, sleep, learn, exercise, and play.

The COVID-19 crisis has created the ultimate “burning platform”—an unexpected, overnight opportunity for people to see the impact of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative consequences of trying to ignore this aberration from everyday life. Within organizations, the virus has been driving significant change in how their employees operate with each other, as well as with clients, customers, and vendors. Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we’ve entered into a temporary “new normal.”

However, what will the long-term impacts of our new normal be on the world of work?

Winning organizations will be those that integrate and master digital work, community, and collaboration. To succeed, companies need to begin planning now for five key shifts:

1. Full digital transformation, supported by a truly virtual workforce

Companies have quickly figured out how to serve their customers and clients remotely, and there’s no going back. From telemedicine in hospitals to remote learning for public schools and streaming fitness classes, every industry has accelerated its own digital transformation. As a result, the demand for highly skilled remote workers will continue to increase.

With a surge of candidates in the market, organizations should be preparing to recruit and integrate these key individuals into the organization quickly and seamlessly, so they can capitalize on the cost savings and broader access to rockstar talent.

2. Focus on outputs versus face time

Being the first one in the office and the last one to leave is no longer a measure of commitment and performance. In a post-COVID-19 world, employees will be measured on what gets done and the value of their work rather than on the individual tasks and the time it takes to get the work done.

Leaders must provide crisp, outcome-driven expectations so that their people can deliver on goals successfully. Motivating employees to perform will require modeling and measurement of their outputs and being clear on those metrics. Companies must level-set expectations for what drives organizational priorities and goals, rather than discrete tasks.

3. Respect for work-life blend

More than ever before, companies are recognizing that working “nine to five” is unsuited to the demands of a modern workforce. If leaders can place greater emphasis on flexibility for people to accomplish their best work—when and how it meets their personal needs (as well as the needs of the company)—they can reinforce the cultural shift of measuring staff based on performance, which can result in exponential benefits for the organization.

Organizations must remove stigma and support employees’ needs to make time for self-care–including exercise, meals, and family time. Policies and procedures need to reflect these shifts, and leaders must model a true work-life blend so that it becomes part of the company culture.

4. Stronger communications

Now that companies have gone fully virtual, individuals are communicating more efficiently and more frequently across a networked environment. To do this well, everyone, at every level, must make opportunities for dialogue by employing numerous channels.

Leaders can make communication easier for their people. They can remove roadblocks, create a governance structure that pushes decision-making out and down, and provide employees with the tools and training they need to empower them for ongoing communication and local decision-making. With traditional hierarchies gone, true leaders must step up to facilitate information flow across the organization.

5. Increased trust, transparency, and empathy

We are witnessing a revolution in leadership. In a recent leadership study of Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, respondents cited behaviors such as humility and listening skills as essential qualities of great change leaders. And leadership experts such as Kim Scott and Brené Brown have long proselytized about the importance of candor and vulnerability. Now, leaders and employees must understand and support each other like never before. People are sharing more about their personal situations with colleagues, and as a result, they are creating an expectation of humanity, active listening, support, and connection.

Leaders that demonstrate these qualities and publicly recognize excellence in their people will earn greater trust and loyalty from their employees. Leaders who seize this mindset now will be better prepared to engage employees for the long term, regardless of the external environment.

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that COVID-19 is driving change in our behaviors, and the workplace is no exception. To begin shifting our idea of what’s possible in the workforce after the curve flattens, leaders must take hold of what’s working today and integrate it quickly into the everyday. Rather than waiting for reentry and being reactive, leaders need to prepare, setting expectations for the ways of working that will benefit the organization down the road, so employees can focus on the strategic business priorities of the future.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is now On Sale at Amazon! (kindle & paperback)

PUBLISHED!!!!

The official announcement will come out at 6am today!

But in the meantime…

Sneak Peek!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is available now!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

11 Of The Biggest Deal-Breakers In A Relationship

  • Deal-breakers in relationships are the things that will cause you to call it quits — no matter how long you’ve been together. 
  • Some common deal-breakers include a partner’s stance on having children, a lack of responsibility with money, or a lack of ambition.
  • We asked dating and relationship exerts to name some of the biggest deal-breakers people cite for breaking off a relationship.

When you’re considering the type of partner you want in your life, there are plenty of things that may make your list.

From their sense of humor to their looks to the way that they treat you, everyone has some sort of picture of who they classify as the ideal mate.

But just as there are specific things that we look for the person that we’re dating to have, there are things that we hope to never encounter, too.

Although everyone’s list of deal-breakers may not be exactly the same, there are a few things that many of us can probably agree on. Here are 12 of the biggest deal-breakers — according to experts — to compare your list to.

They won’t address the issues that you present.

couple break up breaking up fight ignore

Shutterstock

Regardless of how long you’ve been with a person, one of the most important things in a relationship is ensuring that both you and your partner are happy. So, if you’ve found yourself in a predicament where your comfort is put in jeopardy and your partner is doing nothing to rectify the issue, psychologist Dara Bushman told Insider that this could definitely be something to drive your relationship to its end.

“When you first started dating, you felt connected and were having a great conversation that was very stimulating and soul-nourishing,” she said. “Over time though, you’ve began feeling a disconnect. The disconnect may not be the concern — it’s the partner’s aloofness, inability, or unwillingness to discuss what the disconnect is.”

“If you’ve approached the topic and your partner becomes guarded or even defensive, this could be a deal-breaker. Communication is foundational.”

They’ve changed their mind about having kids with you.

Another important topic that should be discussed before deciding to go the long haul with a potential mate, is whether or not you see kids in your future together.

But if one of you has second thoughts or is on the totally different side than you are, according to Bushman, that should totally be a deal-breaker.

“Another big deal-breaker is someone changing their stance on having kids with you,” she said. “If you wish to have children while your partner already has children — or even if you’re both childless — and they were initially open to creating a family together, but after some time decide against, this can be crushing. They may seem great on paper and you even convince yourself you can make do without your own children for a bit. After a while, however, you may realize that the lack of flexibility from your partner is more than just about not wanting more children. A real and lasting relationship would find compromise.”

They have a tendency to cancel plans at the last minute.

Few things are worse than making plans with someone and then having them cancel at the last minute. And, if that repeat offender just happens to be the person that you’re in a relationship with, it could very well be the reason why you’re considering ending things with them.

“Having spontaneity in a relationship is good, but if your guy or girl is always canceling at the last minute to do something that ‘just came up,’ that’s a deal-breaker,” matchmaker Bonnie Winston told Insider. “It shows they do not respect your time, your plans and your interests. For example, if the person blows you off without much notice for something like a sports thing with their friends, that’s a deal-breaker.”

You are not on the same page when it comes to finances.

During the initial dating phase, how your partner chooses to spend their money may not be that big of a deal.

As you start to grow in your relationship, however, it could become more of a focal point and if you’re not on the same page, it could cause a lot of friction.

“Not being close to or on the same page concerning spending money is a deal-breaker and many cannot get over the strain of finances,” Winston said. “Additionally some people feel being consistently cheap with everything, bad tipping, or rudeness to waiters is a deal-breaker as it indicates that someone is just not generous in other areas.”

They’re showing a lack of interest.

Although it seems like a simple thing to note as a deal-breaker, many people ignore the signs when there’s a lack of interest from their partner, and according to Winston, it may not always be as simple to spot as you think.

“If one partner makes the other partner feel unattractive, divvys out criticism of the way one dresses, comments on weight, or other things like that, it can come off as if they are not interested,” she told Insider. “Likewise, if one person always talks about themselves and never shows interest in you, your life, your job, your friends, or your family, that can, and probably should be, seen as a deal-breaker.”

You don’t have the same values.

couple selfie

Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images

When you choose your partner, you should consider all aspects of the person, and that includes comparing their values to yours. Do they see eye to eye on values like integrity, ambition, love of family, and other things important to you?

“Attraction and chemistry are great, but what happens when looks fade and the spark wears off?” Rachel DeAlto, a Match.com relationship expert, told Insider. “If your potential partner differs significantly on a core value, the relationship can be doomed.”

When they get upset, they fight dirty.

DeAlto also said that if you’re with someone that talks down to you or treats you poorly when you are having a disagreement, you may want to reconsider the reason behind continuing the relationship.

“Everyone gets angry on occasion, and sometimes we even say terrible things we don’t mean,” she explained. “The deal-breaker arises, however, when people get nasty during every argument — name-calling, gaslighting, and failing to listen are all traits that lead to misery in a relationship.”

It’s important to note that these can also be the signs of a potentially abusive relationship too. Your partner should never make you feel unsafe and if they do, exiting the relationship should be done with care and potentially with help from a professional and your loved ones.

They aren’t over their ex.

texting

Pixabay/stocknap

Although you may be super into someone, if they’re still hung up on someone else, you shouldn’t let that slide.

“You know when someone is still stuck in their past,” DeAlto said. “Their emotions are still high when they talk about them — positive or negative. Often they even admit they aren’t ready, but it’s rationalized away.”

There’s no sense of vision.

couple serious

Getty Images

For many people, lack of ambition or drive in a partner can be a huge turn-off. That doesn’t mean that it’s a deal-breaker for everyone. But according to relationship expert and dating adviser Jeffery L. Miller, it should be.

“Being a very determined and successful person and pairing with someone who is content can be detrimental to any relationship,” he said.

There’s a history of abuse with you or someone else.

couple fighting arguing

Getty Images

Whether physical, mental, emotional, or sexual, if you hear of someone being abused, it may seem like an easy fix to “just leave.”

Unfortunately though, Judy Ho, a psychologist and author of “Stop Self Sabotage,” told Insider that it’s not as easy as it seems, nor is it that simple to notice that it’s happening.

“Physical or sexual abuse are absolute deal-breakers in a relationship and occur more often than one might think,” Ho said.

“What is sometimes tougher to spot is psychological or emotional abuse. Sometimes this occurs alongside physical and/or sexual abuse but sometimes it can occur in isolation.”

She continued: “Emotional abuse can be extremely damaging. Some examples include extreme control, like tracking your whereabouts, demanding that you don’t spend time without them, and telling you that you are no good, worthless, and nothing without them. It can break someone down to the point that they don’t believe they deserve any better and therefore continue to stay in an abusive relationship. If this is happening in your relationship, it should be a deal-breaker.”

There’s a constant denial of a substance abuse problem or refusal to get help.

If you are with someone who is dealing with addiction, it can be tempting to stay with them. And while support from a partner can help people overcome addiction, if it’s taking a toll on you and they aren’t seeking help, it could be time to leave, Ho told Insider.

“There is no shame in suffering from such a disorder, but it can wreak havoc on a relationship — not to mention the person’s life in multiple domains like physical and mental health, work, and other social relationships,” she said. If someone refuses to seek help for their substance abuse, lies about their use, or you notice that the problem is getting worse over time, it’s a deal-breaker.”

 

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The Most Common Reasons for Divorce, According to Marriage Counselors

And nope, it’s not the pandemic.

Falling in love is a thing of elation, and then there’s the wedding day. Two partners star in their own rom-com, vows are spoken, the audience claps, and the newlyweds ride off into the sunset together, with decades of marital bliss on the horizon. Their love will surely stand the test of time…or will it? In fact, what if there comes a day when the marriage simply becomes loveless?

In the honeymoon phase, the prospect of divorce may feel light years away. But the reality of making a marriage work is not as simple as a stroll down the aisle. While all relationships experience trials, and even the healthiest couples fluctuate in terms of mutual happiness, unfortunately, some differences prove to be irreconcilable—even toxic.

We linked up with some experts who enlightened us to the most common reasons couples seek divorce, as well as topics that show up in marital counseling sessions and in the courtroom. So if thoughts of divorce are blinking on your radar, ahead is a wealth of information to help you validate whether or not your “happily ever after” has become “better off apart.”

So what are the most common reasons marriages fall apart?

Divorce attorney, Kelly Frawley, partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, claims to have heard it all—from, “I can’t stand his family” to protests over a partner’s changing body. The two most common reasons echoing throughout her practice, however? Money battles and relational boredom. “Couples may disagree about spending habits as well as the bigger financial picture in terms of savings and retirement goals,” she says.

And then there is the boredom piece—when the sense of adventure and passion has lost its pulse. Frawley says this often happens when couples lose their ability to relate day to day. “People may find they do not share the same interests as they once did, or they’re not excited about being intimate with their spouse.”

Frawley’s observations are well-aligned with a recent divorce study, where roughly 40 percent of its participants cited financial issues and “getting married too young” as having been major players in their marriage’s demise. Infidelity and conflict were mentioned even more–with almost 60 percent of the participating divorcees admitting that extramarital affairs and excessive arguing were among their final straws. But the most shouted complaint of all? A lack of commitment—coming in at a whopping 75 percent.

There’s no one year of marriage that you’re most vulnerable to divorce.

Dr. Lori Whatley, clinical psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Connected & Engaged says that there does seem to a popular time to get divorced, regardless of whether you’ve been together for two years or twenty: intense periods of adjustment.

“The first year is extremely hard and often comes with surprises, because it’s a merging of beliefs, separate family traditions and financial habits, in order to create a new family unit,” she says.

And for couples who decide to toss a child into the mix, the surprises don’t end there. “When children are introduced, it can be an absolute shock for a lot of couples,” says Dr. Whatley. Say, for example, when partners trade in their sexy, wine-drenched date nights and spontaneous weekend getaways for a sleep-deprived blur of feeding, burping and changing diapers. Or, there could be issues with an interfering in-law whose heightened presence as a grandparent negatively bleeds over into the way one views their spouse.

Regardless, Dr. Whatley has observed that if a couple is already struggling to harmonize their personalities and goals, the newfound responsibility of a child may put further strain on the marriage.

Finally, empty nesters are often struck with yet another challenging stretch. After years spent hauling kids to music lessons and sporting practices, many couples suddenly find themselves seated alone at a quiet dinner table—sometimes unable to organically lock eyes. “Some partners aren’t sure they can connect with each other privately anymore,” she says. “They may have neglected their intimacy for years, and then there is nothing left to salvage.”

Emily Pollock, partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, says that, while her firm represents individuals in all stages of marriage—she has noticed that the majority of cases “are closer to the middle of the spectrum—between 7 and 14 years.”

Unmet expectations is another top cause of divorce.

Sometimes spouses discover that they clash. From personality conflicts to glaring political differences, perhaps there has been no single eruptive event and there is no one person to blame. They just want to be shown the exit door.

Dr. Whatley explains that the first year or two of a romance is fueled by a cocktail of chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin—creating an intoxicating haze of blind distraction. But then the intoxication runs out, and any red flags that were once ignored have taken center stage. “When the body physiologically calms down, and you’re no longer crazy in love, you’re doing real life together. And you may realize that you and your spouse are fundamentally different people,” she says.

Dr. Whatley adds that, based upon her observation, the most common reason for irreconcilable differences is unmet expectations. “People often create all of these expectations that their spouse will eventually adjust certain behaviors or habits to better suit their own. But you can never change another person; you can only change yourself.”

Of course, infidelity is another leading reason.

However, Dr. Whatley says it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. “Infidelity is almost always a symptom of another problem. While some marriages never heal from it, I have seen many couples create even better marriages after working through the issues surrounding it,” she says.

Denna Babul, relationship expert and author of the upcoming book Love Strong: Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life and Take Your Power Back agrees. “If a marriage has a solid foundation that, over time, becomes compromised in some way, infidelity can happen in marriages that are ultimately worth saving–so long as the person who cheated is genuinely remorseful and committed to rebuilding the relationship’s trust,” she says.

But there’s a catch. In order to come back from infidelity, the person who was betrayed must still be able to see their spouse in a recognizably loving light. “If the person is so hurt that they are no longer able to see their spouse as the one they fell in love with, that may ultimately destroy the marriage,” says Babul.

In a 2019 survey, “lack of intimacy” was cited as one of the most prevalent factors.

In a 2019 study published by Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, the most common reason for divorce was found to be a lack of love and intimacy. Dr. Shannon Chavez, Los Angeles-based psychologist and sex therapist, says that sexless marriages are shockingly common, and that the majority of her divorced clients report having experienced its pain. “In sexless marriages, a person can go a long time without feeling desired and loved, and their self-esteem can take serious hits because of it,” she says.

So, in such a case, it’s understandable why a person might wish to leave a marriage that’s left them untouched for months or years. But Dr. Chavez urges her clients to consider that, while eroticism fades over time, a seemingly flat-lined sex life doesn’t necessarily mean that divorce papers should be filed. “If there is still a connection there, couples can work to check in with each other’s desires and find new ways to excite and indulge in each other. Unless there are other serious issues within the marriage, in the majority of cases, it’s definitely possible to revive the intimacy and sexual connection,” she says.

What if your spouse is emotionally or physically abusive?

In a recent study, nearly a quarter of divorcees cited domestic violence as a major contributor to the expiration of their marriage. Katie Hood, TED Speaker and CEO of One Love Foundation says that the evolution of an abusive marriage is quite sneaky—often disguised in the early days as healthy love. “It usually starts with the abusive spouse dominating all of your time and energy, then slowly isolating you from friends and family. Before long, you may have little to no support system outside of the marriage,” she says.

Other classic signs of abuse are control (i.e. your spouse micromanages your social media presence or freaks when you attempt to forge an identity outside of the marriage), a cycle of blaming, gaslighting and punishment, and high volatility. “The abused may feel like they are walking on eggshells—constantly framing their decisions in an effort to avoid a negative reaction from their spouse,” she says. Worst of all? The cycle of abusive behavior is so psychologically complex that it conditions the abused to lose faith in themselves. “The whole process of abuse breaks down a person’s conviction. If the abuser is constantly saying, ‘This isn’t my fault; it’s your fault,’ the abused loses confidence in their own judgment,” says Hood.

So if one has reached their capacity for tolerating abuse, and is mulling over plans to divorce, Hood emphasizes the necessity of putting safety protocols in place. “Abusive relationships are all about control. Filing for divorce is the ultimate break in that control, so this is why gathering a support system with safety planning is essential before leaving an abusive marriage,” she says.

But not all divorces are a result of “serious” issues.

Perhaps it’s not that there is anything horribly wrong in the marriage; there just isn’t enough left that feels right.

For example, let’s say your spouse married a junk food addict, and the two of you bonded over a mutual fondness for nachos and cookie dough ice cream, but, over time, your curiosity about fitness and clean eating accelerated into a passion, and you evolved into a wellness enthusiast. Or, perhaps you were agnostic when you married, but have since become aligned with a spiritual belief system that your spouse deems as woo-woo. Over time, you may feel like the two of you exist in separate universes.

Dr. Whatley says it’s not typically the changes that create the problems, but a spouse’s resistance to those changes that cause the breakdown of a marriage. “Is your spouse willing to let you grow and live in a way that is meaningful to you? Are they willing to learn about and support the activities you deeply love? If that doesn’t happen, it can cause a person to feel like they’ve outgrown a marriage, sometimes leading to divorce,” she says.

And the same goes for ones that happen in couples that have been together for decades.

While it’s often puzzling when couples, after many successful years together—perhaps spent building a life filled with gorgeous family photographs–decide to start over separately, Dr. Whatley says it’s not so mysterious. She explains it can be attributed to the small, daily ripples of change that eventually lead to monumental differences over time. “The period after 30 or 35 years of marriage can be strikingly tough. “People evolve and change slowly and steadily over the years, and sometimes they wake up and realize that they didn’t evolve and change as a couple,” she says.

Dr. Whatley adds that when women start to cross out of middle-age and approach their golden years, it’s not uncommon for them to reconsider a myriad of things about their life. “In recent years, there has been strong evidence of women in their late 50s and early 60s seeking divorce more and more. I’ve seen it in a few studies as well as in my practice,” she says. “I think it’s a time when one evaluates their worth, as well as how they want to make the most of the rest of their days.”

For a marriage to thrive, there has to be mutual respect, but not necessarily constant happiness.

Dr. Whatley believes the most essential ingredient in a healthy marriage is mutuality. “You need mutual respect and a mutual emotional connection.” She adds, “Reasonable behavior in a marriage does not have to do with acting or feeling happy all of the time. Happiness in a relationship is not a constant state; it wouldn’t be special if it was. It’s about the two parties who sometimes disagree and mess up, but always bounce back—because they each want to bounce back.”

Hood says we have to fight the narrative that there exists a marriage on high where two partners are perfectly in sync and fair with each other all of the time. The key is to be able to safely communicate when you aren’t in sync, and when you feel you’ve been wronged. That differentiates a worthwhile marriage from a toxic one. “When you feel disappointed, hurt or trapped, in any way, can you have that conversation and still be heard fairly?”

How is the coronavirus impacting marriages?

Dr. Whatley says that 2020 is an interesting year for marriages, and predicts there will be droves of relational paradigm shifts on the other side of the pandemic. “I have some clients who are quarantined with their spouse in small places. If they were on the fence about their marriage, this has brought immense clarity—some have grown closer, while many have realized that it’s simply not working,” she says.

Pollock says that the shelter-in-place orders are provoking individuals to take a microscope to their relationships. When the freedom to venture out of the house for a cocktail, or to a friend’s place to blow off steam is stripped away, having nowhere to run sort of serves as a magnifier—of both the good and the bad. “We have gotten calls from people who have been prompted to seek divorce counsel as a result of examining their relationships. We are encouraging people not to make any final decisions based on these very unusual circumstances during which everyone is under significant stress,” she says.

So while some individuals may be inspired to view their relationships in a light of heightened gratitude, Pollock says others “may have entered the crisis viewing their marriage as not great but ‘good enough,’ but will leave it with a new perspective that life is too short to settle for ‘good enough.’”

At the end of the day, divorce happens because a marriage has lost its glue.

Regardless of the reasons that provoke thoughts of divorce, how does one know when it’s really over? Dr. Whatley says it’s when the marriage has lost its glue. “You know that special thing you bond over, that has always held you together—in conflict, in tragedy, or after a huge mistake? Couples can come back from so many awful things, but only when the glue is still there. If it’s lost, if it starts to feel indifferent, that’s when the marriage falls apart.” She adds, “…and that is when it is nearly impossible to be put back together.”

 

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Out of Work Strippers Launch Boober Eats, the Topless Meal Delivery Service

With so many people staying home and avoiding the nightmare that is the supermarket at the moment, meal delivery services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats are exploding in popularity. But a new player is threatening to take a stranglehold on the market, and frankly, we aren’t complaining. Dancers at the Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon have launched a new meal delivery service that combines the convenience of fast-food with the pizazz of a strip club. That’s right, Boober Eats might just be good old-fashioned American ingenuity at it’s thriftiest.

Out of Work Strippers Launch Boober Eats, the Topless Meal ...

 

According to reports, once you order a meal online (generally pub grub and wings), Lucky Devil Lounge will get cooking immediately, dispatching two nearly-topless women in pasties to hand-out the goods. It all started as a joke on social media for Lucky Devil Lounge owner Shon Boulden, but after receiving hundreds of positive messages about the idea on St. Patrick’s Day, he decided to give it a shot.

“It’s crazy,” Boulden told the Oregonian. “We mutated our one business into a totally different style of business. All the calls, people are just giddy and fun. Sometimes it’s a surprise for someone, sometimes it’s a birthday, sometimes it’s people that are really stoned.”

While Boober Eats is a hilarious way to get in on the growing food delivery arena, Boulder’s initiative is actually doing a lot of good. About 25 of the original 80 Lucky Devil Lounge dancers are running Boober Eats deliveries after the club essentially shut down for patrons. What’s more, the strip club’s bouncers are also back to work, operating as drivers and security guards for the nearly topless delivery girls. If there’s one thing to be learned from the Boober Eats tale, it’s that amid a tireless tirade of negativity and despair, there are good stories everywhere.

God bless America.

Portland Gentlemen's Club Launches 'Boober Eats' Food Delivery Service

 

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15 Things A Guy Will Do…When He’s Got A Side Chick

Hands down one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship is finding out he’s got someone on the side. No girl wants to imagine their man has eyes for anyone else but her, let alone if he has a consistent side chick he keeps going back to.

Of course, if he’s stepping out on his woman then the problem is with him, not her. But that doesn’t mean she’s not going to feel hurt by his actions. These 15 signs can indicate if a SO is, in fact, seeing someone else. While these hints may not mean anything on their own, if he’s showing a variety of these signs, then it’s likely that’s something is up.

It’s always best to trust our gut and confront him if we think something is up. The truth always comes out, after all!

15. He Suddenly Cares More About His Appearance

When someone suddenly takes more of an interest in their appearance it can be a sign they have someone they want to impress. If your man is putting more effort into his clothing choices and styling his hair, it could be a sign he’s developing feelings for someone else.

Then again, this isn’t always a sign your man has strayed. Perhaps he’s just feeling more confident than usual.

14. He Never Lets Her See His Phone Screen

One of the tell-tale signs that your significant other has someone on the side is if they’ve become protective of their phone. Maybe he always puts his phone face down when he puts it on the table or he’s careful to not leave it alone with you.

This could be a sign he’s worried you’ll see a message or photo of someone that he doesn’t want you to know about.

13. There Are Women’s Things In His Apartment

If you find a lipstick or scarf at your man’s place that isn’t yours, then you’re going to be highly suspicious. He might claim to have a legitimate excuse, like the item belongs to his sister, a female friend, or even his roommate’s girlfriend. There might be situations where this is, indeed, the truth.

But if something tells you his story isn’t adding up, then the item may actually belong to a romantic partner.

12. He Can Easily Lie About Small Things

If you’ve noticed that your SO has no problem fibbing about small things, then it’s likely he can also lie about bigger stuff, too. If he’s been dishonest with you in the past (even if it’s about something trivial), then it’s understandable why you may have a hard time trusting him.

Trust your gut if you think he’s spinning you a fake tale.

11. He Overcompensates By Being Too Nice

When someone feels guilty about something or they’re worried you’re becoming too suspicious of them, they’ll likely go out of their way to convince you nothing is up.

If you feel like your man has been extra nice, to the point where it’s abnormal, he may feel like he has to make up for something. While he could feel bad about all sorts of things, it’s very possible he’s been seeing someone else.

10. He Always Has To Stay Late At Work (So He Says)

Whether he says he has to stay late at work or makes up some other excuse to bail on your plans together, this isn’t a good sign. Granted, life may just be extra busy for him.

But if he’s acting strange about what he has going on in his personal or professional life, it’s likely he’s not giving you all of the details. Trust yourself if you feel like things aren’t adding up.

9. He Makes It Seem Like His GF Is The Problem

A classic move someone will make if they have something to hide is trying to turn things around on the other person. If you’ve questioned his whereabouts or even asked him if he’s got someone else, yet he always deflects by acting upset that you don’t trust him, then he probably does have something he’s not telling you.

He wants you to feel like it’s all in your head so you’ll stop digging for answers.

8. He Doesn’t Take His GF Around His Friends

Regardless of what your man might say, it’s not normal to never hang out with his friends, let alone never meet them. If your guy has another girl on the side, it’s likely his best buddies know about it.

So, of course he wouldn’t want you to hang around his pals since there’s a chance they could spill the beans.

7. He’s Defensive When She Asks Where He’s Been

Someone who has something to hide is immediately going to go on the defensive. If they act upset or offended by your questions, their hope is it’ll convince you that they could never be dishonest (and that you should feel bad for questioning them).

However, if someone knows they’ve done nothing wrong, they’ll have no problem staying calm and collected.

6. He Seems More On Edge Than Normal

When someone has something to hide, there will likely be a shift in their behaviour. They may seem more anxious or defensive. Of course, there could be other things going on in his life, but he might have someone else.

If he’s exhibiting this sign along with any of the others on this list, then it’s understandable that you might question his intentions.

5. He’s Stepped Out In Previous Relationships

Everyone makes mistakes, so you can’t always judge someone by what they’ve done in the past. Similarly, simply because someone has never stepped out on a previous SO it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.

But many times, patterns are repeated. So, if your man has a history of stepping out and your gut is telling you something is up, then you might be correct.

4. He Either Replies Right Away Or Not At All

If your man struggles to be consistent when texting, it could be a sign something is up on his end. If he’s away from his phone for long periods of time, it could mean he’s with someone that you don’t want to know about.

And if there are times when he seems to reply too quickly (like if you ask him what’s up), then he might be trying to overcompensate for something.

3. He’s Been Acting More Distant Lately

If you feel like your significant other has been pulling away or is emotionally unavailable, it could mean he’s investing himself elsewhere – like in a side relationship!

When someone acts distant, it’s usually a sign that something is going on behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t have to do with being disloyal. If you think something is up, ask him about it right away.

2. He’s Getting More Attention Online From Girls

If you guy’s social media habits have changed, then it’s likely that something else has changed in his life. If you notice he’s getting more female attention than ever before, it could be a sign he’s being flirtatious when offline.

It’s an even worse sign if he’s engaging with the online attention or, at the very least, doing nothing to shut it down.

1. He’s Lost His Passion

Sometimes, when a guy has lost his passion and enthusiasm, it can be a sign he’s getting his fix with someone else, which is why he’s less interested in doing things with you.

However, to be clear, just because someone seems less interested in fun or hobbies, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re having fun with someone else. There can be a variety of reasons why things may not be as interesting.

The best thing is to simply ask him about it, and gauge his reaction.

 

Working From Home During The Coronavirus Crisis Is A Recipe For Burnout, Experts Say

Working from home is hard under ordinary circumstances. Add in anxiety around the coronavirus pandemic, the fact that you’ve lost the physical separation between “work” and “life,” plus the emotions around having a job where you can work from home in an economy where so many cannot, and you have a recipe for burnout.

“Change can be a positive experience, but for many, … simply not working in the same manner, in the same location for the same hours can cause additional stress,” clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow Ph.D., tells Bustle. “All of these factors mean our job becomes more challenging, more taxing on our system, more difficult psychologically and logistically, and more stressful.”

“Burnout can occur when any individual is exposed to prolonged and often excessive stress,” Dr. Jasleen Chhatwal M.D., chief medical officer for Sierra Tucson Treatment Center, a mental health rehabilitation facility, tells Bustle. “It’s an internal crisis manifested by a lack of control and efficacy in our external world.”

Burnout is defined by three components according to psychologists: complete exhaustion and inability to cope, cynicism about work, and reduced performance both at home and in the workplace. In prolonged social-distancing scenarios, Dr. Chhatwal says, “Fears are likely to intensify, leading to increased anxiety and lowered enjoyment of work. Lack of control and social isolation increase the risk of burnout exponentially.”

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Right now, medical professionals, grocery store workers, and other essential personnel are at particularly high risk of burnout, experts say, as they’re at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. But even if you feel grateful to be able to work from home during this time, you can still be vulnerable. Bloomberg reported in March 2020 that remote workers in the U.S., Spain, Australia, and elsewhere are working on average two hours extra per day as a result of social-distancing policies. Without the benefit of set start and finishing times, sending “just one more email” can be too tempting — or worse, can be something your manager now expects.

The loneliness of doing your job from home can exacerbate stress you’re already feeling. “Isolation can be depressing,” Dr. Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., a neuropsychologist, tells Bustle. “Many people are suffering from sadness, anxiety, anguish, frustration, and boredom during their quarantine or social-distancing efforts. This is compounded by the general anxiety brought on by health risks, career or employment layoffs, and public confusion.”

Dr. Klapow recommends changing expectations about productivity, goals, breaks, and when you start and finish. “Don’t hold yourself to a set of rules that may not work in the home environment and expect that you will be at the same level of productivity,” he says. Be mindful of how your body and brain are feeling. Are you getting headaches after hours of screen time? Do you need to get up and move? Be transparent about your physical needs during this time and try to set an example for the rest of your team; if you need to log off for an hour to supervise a child’s remote learning, be upfront about it.

Dr. Hafeez also suggests using video chats over phone calls for all conversations, work or social, because anything that keeps us connected right now will help mental health. “The social interaction that video chats provide can be crucial in helping our minds cope with the confusing and worrisome times we are living in,” she says. Dr. Chhatwal also suggests talking to your company’s human resources team if you’re noticing signs of burnout; they might be able to direct you to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can help you find mental health support.

“We all can benefit from knowing that we have others who understand what we are experiencing,” she says. In times like these, human connections, support, and clear boundaries can help a great deal to sustain us.

 

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What Should I Do With My Stimulus Check? How To Save Money During The Coronavirus Crisis

A month into social distancing measures, most people are trying to understand the full scope of how the coronavirus pandemic will impact their lives. As state and local governments order people to stay home, many of us have shifted to work from home indefinitely, continued positions on the front lines, or lost jobs altogether. As a result, the economy has thrown retirement savings and other investments for a loop.

These changes, like any issue related to the gender pay gap, disproportionately affect women, who make up 75% of health care practitioners, almost 90% of health care support staff and one-third of independent contractors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 700,000 jobs were eliminated during the first wave of coronavirus-related layoffs in March, NPR reported, 60% of which were held by women; a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center found that women, especially Latinx, black, and indigenous women, are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and will be hit hardest by a post-COVID-19 recession. Women who are still employed might need to juggle new responsibilities like caring for children who are now learning remotely or for sick relatives alongside, you know, doing their jobs.

Financially speaking, it’s a tough time for everybody. Bustle spoke with economics and personal finance experts about what you should be doing with your money right now.

Plan How You’ll Use Your Stimulus Check

The stimulus package signed at the end of March is meant to offset some of the losses from the shaky economy. Single individuals who made less than $75,000 in 2018 will get $1,200, plus $500 per child. People making up to $99,000 and married couples who filed jointly might get slightly different amounts.

Yana Rodgers, faculty director for the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, says the package is “a step in the right direction but … insufficient” — not enough people qualify for stimulus checks, the checks won’t come quickly enough, and $1,200 isn’t really enough to sustain a household through this crisis.

Ande Frazier, a certified financial planner and CEO and editor-in-chief of MyWorth, a personal finance site, suggests using this money to cover immediate needs or boost your emergency fund. Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner at SoFi, a personal finance company, says that your emergency fund should consist of three to six months’ worth of essential living expenses; if you’re wondering what that number is, calculate everything you spend money on in a month and multiply that by at least three. If you don’t already have a budget, that would be a good project to take on now, too.

If you’re strapped for cash, plan to be “ruthless” with your spending for the next few months, Frazier says. Write down how much money is coming in and out, when your bills are due, and what you can cut. If you’re working from home, your transportation costs will likely be lower or nonexistent; if you take money out of your paycheck pre-tax for subway tickets or parking, ask HR if you can pause that deduction for now. You can also cut back on food expenses by meal prepping, Frazier says.

The package will also expand unemployment benefits; you can receive an additional $600 a week through the end of July and can get benefits for up to 39 weeks rather than the usual 26. If you’ve lost your job or been furloughed because of coronavirus, you can go to your state’s department of labor and see what you’re eligible for.

If you’re totally secure in your emergency fund and want to use the extra money to help others out, Frazier recommends donating it to domestic violence organizations or another cause close to your heart.

Call Your Bill Collectors About Coronavirus Relief

If the pandemic means you can’t cover your heat or electric costs, call your lenders to adjust or defer your repayment plans, Anastasio says. If you specify that you’ve been impacted by coronavirus-related job cuts, they may offer programs that will prevent your accounts from being reported to credit bureaus for late or missing payments.

Under the new stimulus package, federal student loan payments will be suspended until Sept. 30, according to The New York Times, so that’s one bill people won’t have to worry about; Frazier recommends putting the money you’d spend on paying off loans directly into savings if you don’t need it right away.

Frazier has been advising her clients to pay the minimum on their debts and concentrate on stashing as much money as possible in their emergency funds. If you want to continue paying off your debts during this period, try the avalanche method, or paying the minimum across all your debt and use the money left over to pay off anything high interest. If your debt feels overwhelming, try the snowball repayment method, meaning you pay off your smaller debts before moving onto the bigger ones.

Leave Your Retirement Savings Alone… Unless You Really, Really Need It

It might be tempting, but pulling money from your retirement probably isn’t worth it, unless your situation is truly drastic. Instead, Frazier recommends waiting out the market downturn.

“I know that this is very uncomfortable, but it truly is a natural part of the market cycle,” Anastasio says. “And for those younger investors who are experiencing this for the first time and watching their portfolio go down … this is not the first time they’re going to experience this during their career.”

Frazier recommends looking at your savings, the cash value of your life insurance policy, or even a home equity loan instead.

If you absolutely need to withdraw from your retirement savings, you can take out up to $100,000 from your 401(k) or IRA without being hit with a 10% penalty, thanks to the stimulus package, but you’ll still have to pay regular income tax on it, Frazier says.

“Taking money from your retirement funds probably should be a last resort,” she says.

Don’t Panic Invest During The Stock Market Downturn

You might have heard that with the downturn, it’s like stocks are “on sale.” Anastasio has heard of inexperienced investors who are borrowing money or even using their emergency funds to invest in stocks at a lower price, but she says it’s not a great idea to withdraw from an emergency fund for anything other than an emergency.

Most people shouldn’t make any changes to their investment strategy right now, Anastasio says. She says she’d rather see her clients focus on building a cash reserve — that three to six months’ worth of expenses — than trying to make short-term gains on the stock market. Ideally, you want to have those savings and your high-interest debt paid off before doing any kind of investing, she says. That way, you’ll be prepared to take care of yourself if you’re laid off or furloughed or if you get sick.

If your savings are in good shape and you’re itching to get into the market, talk to a financial advisor to make sure you’re making the best use of your money. But remember that no one is sure how long these ups and downs will last, and the stock market will still be there when this is all over.

 

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