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4 Ways To End 2016 On A Financial High Note

Career

In the midst of all the fun that comes at the end of every year, it’s easy to get carried away with spending and throw caution to the wind when it comes to your finances. But doing so can mean starting the New Year on a bad note. Instead, use these tips to maximize your tax contributions, avoid overspending, and achieve your financial goals.


1. Don’t Go Overboard on Holiday Spending

It’s so easy to get carried away with holiday spending, leaving you with a “financial hangover” in January. Another motivator to not get carried away? Keep your spring goals in mind and how a negatively impacted credit score could affect them. For example, if you are planning a major purchase like a house or a new car, your credit score will be under intense scrutiny by creditors and you don’t want excessive holiday spending to affect this. Consider devising a holiday budget – including gifts, travel, decorations, and food – and stick to it. Avoid making large purchases on credit cards unless you can pay off the balance in full. This way, you can start January fresh and focused on your goals, rather than scrambling to pay off credit card debt.

2. Donate to Charity

‘Tis the season of giving, after all. Even if you can’t afford to make a sizeable contribution, a small donation can still make a difference and will leave you with that warm and fuzzy feeling. An added bonus? Charitable donations lower your taxable income, meaning you’ll pay slightly less income tax.

3. Contribute to Your Retirement

With the year almost over, now is the time to maximize your contributions. The more you contribute to your pre-tax retirement plan before the end of the year, the less taxes you’ll pay in April. If you are under the age of 50, the maximum contribution for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and 457 plans in 2016 is $18,000.

However, if you are over 50, you can contribute a maximum of $24,000. The maximum yearly contribution limit for IRAs if you are under the age of 50 is $5,500, and $6,500 if over the age of 50.

4. Put Thought Into Your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

So often, people make their resolutions on a whim and put little thought into how to actually achieve them, leading them to be abandoned before February even hits. Use the approaching new year as an opportunity to reassess your financial goals. What have you achieved this year? Which goals need to be focused on or reevaluated? What new goals can you add? Consider making long- and short-term goals to help you stay motivated throughout the year and remember to make them realistic and measurable.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be sure to end 2016 on a high note and ready to conquer 2017.

6min read
Health

What Sexual Abuse Survivors Want You to Know

In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.


For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.

Believe it or not, I am happy about that.

The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.

It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).

These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.

So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.

Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.

The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."

In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.