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    Introducing The Everygirl’s Mobile Lightroom Presets

    You know that moment in Cinderella (the Brandy version, obviously) when she spins around and her ballgown materializes out of thin air, shimmering in the moonlight? Besides giving me totally unrealistic expectations for how fast it would take me to get dressed as an adult, that moment taught me that magic can happen in the blink of an eye. And while a one-click-and-you’re-done photo editing preset isn’t exactly a handsome suitor, there’s still something magically addicting about going from a blah pic to a bright, feed-worthy photo with just a tap of your finger. So drumroll please… introducing The Everygirl’s Mobile Lightroom Presets! Just call us your fairy godmother. 

    We just launched nine new, exclusive Lightroom presets to help you instantly overhaul your interior, exterior, flatlay, and product shots: all with just one click.

    All you need to use presets is the Lightroom mobile app, and you’re good to go. We’re also including video tutorials on how to download and install your presets as well as how to customize them for any and every photo. With nine specific edits to choose from, you’ll have limitless possibilities to brighten, soften, warm up, cool down, or sharpen any photo on your camera roll. 

    Moody

    Best for: Exterior shots taken on overcast days or at twilight / blue hour and interior shots with lots of rich, dark textures. 

    Bright & Soft 

    Best for: Photos taken in dim lighting that need a lot of brightening up, as well as a slight warm, soft tone. Works well for interior photos without a lot of natural light or when you want to warm up the textures in an image.

     

    Clean & Simple

    Best for: Photos that need a boost of bright, even light. Works well for product shots, flatlays, and interior shots in dim, natural lighting. 

    Cool & Soft

    Best for: Photos that need a soft wash of cool-tinted light. Works well for interior shots in dim or evening lighting. 

    Warm & Crisp

    Best for: Shots that need a boost of creamy light as well as a subtle sharpening effect. 

    Subtle

    Best for: Photos that need a touch of soft, creamy light. Works well for photos with a lot of natural light already that just need that subtle, extra boost. 

    Touch of Warmth

    Best for: Photos that you want to appear warmer and slightly brighter, and to deepen the darker tones for a touch of contrast. 

    Ultra Bright

    Best for: Darker, lackluster photos that need a big boost of even light.

    B&W

    Best for: Photos that you want to have an editorial feel, in a crisp, high-contrast black and white.

    Why presets? 

    We love the ease of use with Lightroom presets and here’s why: 
    You’ll cut your editing time in half and get a beautiful, bright, vibrant photo with just one click
    You can create a cohesive feed by applying similar edits to your photos for a consistent look
    You can use presets as a building block for selective edits (like removing imperfections) to save time and headaches 

    Ready to get started? Grab our full pack of nine presets at the link below. Plus, video tutorials on how to install and download the presets, and more of our tips and tricks for using them.  More

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    6 Things to Do RN to Set Your Business Up for Success in 2021

    If you ran a business in 2020, we want to start by giving you a massive shoutout. We don’t need to explain why last year was so challenging for business owners, and we think you’re amazing for getting through such a hard year. Whether you already started a business and made it through 2020 or you’re planning on starting one this year (go for it!), we want to help you take some actionable steps that will set your business up for success in 2021. We put together six things you can do right now to get off to a great start this year—from creating a marketing plan to giving your website a strategic spruce. Start checking things off quickly with our platform of choice, Squarespace, which offers user-friendly tools on everything from building websites to tracking analytics to sending emails, so you can get back to doing more of what you love. 

    1. Refresh your website
    The start of a new year is a great time to revisit your current website (or set one up if you don’t have one already). You want your site to engage your audience and help you pull in new customers, inquiries, or readers. Go through an audit of each page and really think about what the color choices, website copy, and overall layout is communicating. Is your site layout easy to navigate and understand? Is your site set up for mobile viewing?
    We love and recommend Squarespace because it makes it easy to ensure your site is beautiful and functional. Pick from tons of templated designs, customize in a few hours, and your site is ready to rock. You can also preview how the site will look on mobile devices, which is essential, as that is where most of your traffic could be coming from— especially if you’re marketing on social platforms like Instagram. 

    2. Make your customer’s lives easier
    While the customer may not always be right (don’t tell them we said that!) they do always deserve to have a good experience with your business. Make their life way easier by making your processes, business hours, and other key information clear and easy to find.
    Use your website and social platforms to show how to contact you, what your store hours are, what items you have available to purchase, and any other key info they need in order to either buy from you or book an appointment with you in the simplest way possible. Don’t be afraid to reiterate this info in multiple places—it might seem like overkill to you, but new customers will be thankful to easily find exactly what they’re looking for. And because so many people hate calling during business hours to make appointments, add convenient features to your website, like appointment scheduling, to create as seamless of an experience as possible. 

    3. Let’s get automated
    If you’re a business owner, you know your to-do list never truly ends. You wear many different hats during the course of your day, and that can get really overwhelming, really fast. So anything you can do to save a little time here and there can be a game-changer. Enter: automations. As a business owner, it’s hard to let go, but utilizing automations to do some of your more mundane—but necessary—business tasks is something that will save you time, stress, and headaches in the long run. 
    Let’s look at email marketing as an example of how automations can make your life so much easier. Every business needs email marketing as a tool in their arsenal (btw, these are some of our go-to email tips!), and luckily email is one of the easiest things to automate. You can create automations that welcome new subscribers, send them a coupon, or recommend products they may like after they make a purchase—further engaging your audience and keeping your biz top of mind. If you’re not sure where to start, Squarespace email campaigns offer pre-set automation triggers that help you craft your emails, along with plug-n-play templates that look great on desktop or mobile. Win, win. 

     
     
    4. Create a fresh marketing plan
    It’s time to take last year’s data and put it to work! Take an hour or two to sit down and look at what really worked for you last year marketing wise, and equally as important, what didn’t work for you. Then take what you’ve learned and create an achievable and actionable marketing plan for the new year. If possible, create social media posts, email newsletters, and digital ads in bulk. Then schedule them out a bit in advance. 
    The key with any good marketing plan is to use data to make informed decisions. While your gut can lead you in the right direction at times, it’s also extremely valuable to have analytical insight on your side. Utilize the free analytics provided by the platforms you share on, like Instagram, to gauge what is resonating with your audience. We also love Squarespace’s built-in analytics to help you understand how your audience is interacting with your website. What pages, content, or products are engaging viewers the most? Use these insights to help you make a plan for the future.  

    5. Consider a rebrand 
    It’s always a nice feeling to give your brand a little refresh, and you don’t have to go all out with a complete rebrand to breath some new life into your aesthetics. Sometimes, just switching up your color palette or adding a new font into the mix can change the feeling of your brand, while still keeping consistent with your look and style. 
    Try adding a few fresh colors to your Instagram feed or switching up your website color palette to start. Just play around and have fun with it—no pressure to be perfect. Our graphic designer here at TEG recommends starting out with a moodboard to narrow in on colors, styles, and type treatments that you’re drawn to. Start by creating a board on Pinterest with images that you think reflect your brand and that would resonate with your audience. Then go through and find the recurring styles—i.e., warm earth tones, touches of handwritten script, etc.—and pull those into your own brand imagery and designs. For more of her tips, read our guide to common branding mistakes and how to fix them. 
    A bonus: If you’re using Squarespace, it’s super easy to test out different colors within your site with their built-in design editor and pre-made palettes. 

    6. Build your digital network
    It seems safe to say that most of us won’t be networking in person anytime soon. Luckily, there’s really no need to. Connect with like-minded individuals in your industry over social media, ask people you’re interested in getting to know for phone or Zoom dates instead of coffee dates, and check in with existing connections via email whenever you come across an article they may like or hear about a recent work accomplishment of theirs. Want the networking to come to you? Don’t forget to add a contact form to your website!

    What are you doing to help set your business up for success this year?

    This post was sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    8 Virtual Interview Tips to Help You Land the Job, According to the Experts

    Job interviews have always been nerve-wracking, but virtual interviews feel like a different challenge altogether. You’re worried about technical glitches; it’s tougher to make small talk and develop good rapport; you struggle to pick up on nonverbal cues. It’s no wonder that a 2017 study found that eight in 10 job seekers said video interviews are just as stressful or even more stressful than in-person interviews.Virtual interviews certainly aren’t without their challenges and hiccups. Fortunately, we’re here to help. We connected with a few human resources professionals to get their best virtual interview tips that will help you ace that interview—and get one step closer to landing the job.

    1. Remember that all of the traditional interview advice still applies
    Virtual interviews are a different format, but the nuts and bolts are still largely the same. That’s why nearly all of the experts mentioned that all of the typical interview best practices should still be a high priority.
    From researching the company and thoroughly reading the job description to practicing your answers to common questions and sending a “thank you” note, remember to start with the basics.

    2. Read the instructions carefully
    It can feel like every single company uses something different for their virtual interviews. Some use Zoom. Others use Google Meet. You get the idea.
    That’s why Jade Hugh, Senior Talent Advisor at Bloom, recommended that you review the interview instructions carefully so you know exactly where you need to be, if there’s certain software you need to have installed, and if there’s a password or something else required.

    3. Check your technology
    Technology hurdles can sidetrack your interview (not to mention cause you a lot of added stress), so it’s wise to double-check all of your equipment before signing on for the interview.
    Is your camera working? What about your microphone? Can you access the interview platform? Is your Wi-Fi connection stable?
    “This gives you the chance to contact the interviewer early, just in case you notice an issue,” said Kimone Napier, HR Strategist.

    4. Find a quiet, distraction-free space
    Doing your interview from your kitchen table while your toddler tosses things out of your cupboards or your roommate makes an omelet isn’t ideal. Instead, find a quiet space where you can focus on the conversation.
    If there’s no such thing as a quiet spot in your home (hey, we get it), Napier said an application like Krisp can help you cancel out unwanted background noise.
    When it comes to distractions, environmental ones aren’t the only ones you need to be aware of. You should eliminate your self-imposed ones too. “Close your other windows and browsers,” said Agnes Tseng, People and Culture Advisor at Bloom. “We can tell when you’re getting distracted by something else.”
    Hunt echoes that sentiment and also warns interviewees to turn off their phones. That will avoid any pings or buzzes that rip your attention away from the conversation.

    “Close your other windows and browsers. We can tell when you’re getting distracted by something else.”

    5. Up your production value
    You’re not producing a feature film, but that doesn’t mean you want your visual aesthetic to be completely haphazard.
    For starters, be mindful of what your interviewer will see in your background (yep, it’s time to move those piles of laundry). Tempted to use one of those video features to blur your background? A smarter strategy is to use that space to your advantage.
    “A huge part of any interview is getting to know you in and outside of work, so give them a sneak peek into who you are,” said Suzi Archer, Head of People and Talent at MyCleverGroup. “This is a great opportunity to create talking points by having your favorite books on display, any certificates or achievements you’d like to highlight, your favorite music, or family photos.”
    Decent lighting is another important thing you need to consider. “Illuminate your face as much as you possibly can so that your interviewer is able to see your facial expressions,” said Tseng.

    6. Dress for success
    Even if you’re meeting virtually, dressing in a way that’s polished and professional can help you out. Yep, this applies to your bottom half too—commit to the full outfit, rather than a blazer on top and pajama pants on the bottom.
    Why? Not only does it send the message that you’re taking the interview seriously, but it can also impact your mood and even performance.
    Don’t believe us? One study gave intellectual tests to two groups: one wearing casual clothing and one wearing formal clothing. The formal group actually performed better on the tests and tasks. So, take the time to polish yourself up before that chat—it could make a surprisingly big difference in the quality of your interview.

    7. Remember eye contact
    The lack of nonverbal cues is one of the biggest hangups about virtual interviews, but the good news is that eye contact is something that you can replicate on video calls.
    “It can be quite distracting seeing yourself on screen, but do your best to make eye contact with the person asking the questions and mind your body language,” said Archer. One helpful tip is to put googly eyes right by your webcam. It might look a little silly, but it’ll give you something to focus on (other than your own reflection).

    “It can be quite distracting seeing yourself on screen, but do your best to make eye contact.”

    8. Be authentic
    Nerves run high in an interview, and it’s tempting to feel like you need to be flawless in order to land the job, but that’s not the case. You’re far better off being honest and authentic.
    Archer said that starts with setting expectations upfront. “It’s now expected that people working and interviewing from home will likely be balancing a variety of home distractions,” she explained, mentioning the now-viral BBC interview featuring a rogue toddler. “I have a 5-month-old baby and I’m often on the other side of the interview screen. I’ll always start by saying, ‘I’m not expecting any disruptions, but I do have a baby at home, so please bear with me if she causes any interruptions.’”
    If something does happen during your interview? Instead of letting panic wash over you, just be honest about what’s happening. “Have a new puppy? Did the doorbell ring? Be open and have a good laugh about it. At the end of the day, we are all human and understand the nuances of working from home,” said Hugh.

    Not being able to do an interview in-person comes with some challenges, but it’s not all bad news. “Virtual interviews do have their benefits,” said Archer. “You’re on your turf, you don’t have to worry about how much travel time you need to allow, where to park, and how to navigate the office once you arrive.”
    “In my opinion, the pros of virtual interviews outweigh the cons,” added Napier, noting that other benefits include saving time and reducing bias.
    So, rather than wishing your interview were being handled differently, focus on making the most of the opportunity in front of you. If nothing else, it’s a chance to prove that you’re an adaptable candidate who can excel regardless of what the world throws your way. More

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    How This Midwife Created a Judgement-Free Zone on the Internet for Women to Talk Freely About Their Bodies

    In the age of Instagram, one of the biggest issues people express is a lack of authenticity on the platform; too much curated content and not enough applicable, real-life stuff. And while that can be true, it’s anything but for Ailsa Emmel of Happy Go Curly.On Happy Go Curly, you get your daily dose of style inspiration, but in between that also get something less expected: health education, particularly on vaginal health. What started out as a fashion Instagram has evolved into including insight that Ailsa has experience with from her day job as a Certified Nurse-Midwife, and her weekly Women’s Health Wednesday posts touch everything from birth control to breastfeeding to real talks about lubricant. 
    Curious about how Happy Go Curly came to be and what Ailsa’s plans are for the future? Look no further.

    Name: Ailsa Emmel, Certified Nurse-MidwifeAge: 40s Current Location: Miami, FloridaEducation: Master’s degree, Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, Bachelor’s of Science in Pyschology

    What was your first job and how did you land it?

    [My] first job out of college was easy. I had an NROTC scholarship, so I was commissioned in the United States Navy as an officer. I was a Navy nurse. 

    Tell us a little bit about your career journey. You’re a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)—what inspired you to start your Instagram on top of that?

    I went to college and got a Bachelor’s in Science in Nursing. I became an RN (after taking the credentialing test, of course). I spent four+ years as a commissioned officer and got out to join the reserves. This was during wartime, and it was too hard on my family since my hubby was also on active duty. We had young twins and were worried we would both be sent to war at the same time, so I decided to get out and attend Midwifery school at The University of Miami. 
    I started my Instagram years ago as a fashion account. I wanted to make good use of my closet, and back then styling prompts were a thing. I initially started my account as @emmeltwins. @_happygocurly_ didn’t evolve until late 2018 in my kitchen. I was brainstorming with my girlfriend and daughters. My account was moving away from a private, small account, and I wanted a name that defined me. I wanted people to know a little bit more about me just from seeing my handle. It was still about clothes and everyday life. The true integration of being a CNM coupled with fashion and lifestyle came later.

    What were the beginning stages of @_happygocurly_ like? Was there a moment where you felt like, wow, I’m really doing this?

    HGC truly came to be when we moved to Boston from 2018-2019 for the year (my hubby was doing a fellowship at MIT). I say this because I spent a lot of time exploring and spending time alone. I think it helped me to get to know myself. I fell in love with ME. It was there that a follower recommended I do a Women’s Health Wednesday every week. I was like, ‘No way, I don’t have enough topics to talk about every week,’ but I was wrong! The topics came flooding in, and people were tuning in and asking questions.
    The beginning of @_happygocurly_ was a troubleshoot. I didn’t identify my why; I didn’t know what my purpose was on Instagram. I was so busy looking at what everyone else was posting and not using my voice. It was when I started to use my voice that things started changing. 

    How has @_happygocurly_ evolved since you began it? What would you say your main priority is in choosing your posts?

    HGC has become a safe haven for many—at least that is the atmosphere I want to create and cultivate. Women can come to me and ask and share anything. It is a judgment-free zone as long as you are kind. I want them to embrace their bodies and all that she is capable of. I want them to move their body (exercise of some form), meditate, perform self-care (however that is for them), read (explore different topics and books), and follow different accounts (diversity is key from different body types to ethnicities).
    My main priority is reality. I want people to not seek perfection, but to seek understanding. I want them to know it is OK not to be like everyone else. I want them to explore their differences and embrace them. I know it sounds trite, but I want everyone to recognize their strengths and beauty. I say this because “pulling the curtain” in patient’s rooms, I see and hear their insecurities. I choose my posts based on how I am feeling and if I have something to say or share. I used to think I needed to post every day or twice a day and have found that is much more meaningful when I don’t. So, maybe one day I have a lot to say on my feed, and then other days not so much. I do, however, love stories. I am very active there and share it all. 

    I want people to not seek perfection, but to seek understanding.

    How do you balance  @_happygocurly_ with your CNM career? Do they overlap in any ways?

    Eek. It is definitely a hard balance. I work out of state every three weeks for a week or more. I have to plan (I say this lightly because that is not my forte), and I truly like the more spontaneous posts. When I am working, I like to give my undivided attention and energy to my patients. I find that I miss my Instagram friends so very much. I still pop in and out and always do my #happygocurlywhw
    They do overlap because I do talk about women’s topics on Wednesdays. I dedicate Wednesdays for that reason, but also at any time I may discuss vaginal health. I want women to talk about their bodies freely. I have found that these are the topics they have the most questions about: vaginal dryness, menopause, mothering/parenting, bonding, breastfeeding, labor, and the list goes on and on. 

    What has been the greatest challenge of your Instagram? Your favorite part?

    The greatest challenge has been getting good pics and Instagram-worthy scenery to capture the content. Trying to stay ahead with all the new changes has been defeating at times. While I like to think of myself as dynamic, sometimes the new additions can be daunting and time-consuming. I have been frustrated with my content going away after 24 hours and realized I needed a way to have it be accessible.
    My favorite part is the people for sure. I have made some of my closest friends on Instagram. I love the impact my WHW has made on so many, and when I get messages saying they listened and went to their provider and got a diagnosis or were able to advocate for themselves based on my talks. I think it is normal to question every once in a while if you are making a difference.

    I love the impact my Women’s Health Wednesday has made on so many, and when I get messages saying they listened and went to their provider and got a diagnosis or were able to advocate for themselves based on my talks.

    The past year hasn’t exactly been easy. How do you approach your Instagram when there are such major current events happening?

    I find that I speak my mind. I don’t want to bombard my followers, but I also want them to understand how current events affect me as a BIPOC/Black woman. I share my experiences in relation to BLM. I try to expose them to a different world. I invite them to ask questions. I try to call in my community, rather than call out. I want them to always ask the hard questions in an effort to gain knowledge. 

    I invite them to ask questions. I try to call in my community, rather than call out. I want them to always ask the hard questions in an effort to gain knowledge. 

    What career moment are you most proud of thus far?

    Becoming a CNM. I am so happy it worked out that I get to live my passion. Every time I deliver a baby, I pinch myself. I thank the parents for allowing me to share this moment with them. Living your life’s passion is the greatest high for me. 

    Where do you see yourself next year? Five years from now?

    In the next year: moving to North Carolina. I want to start a blog. I want to create a place where women can find the information they need in case they miss WHW. 
    Five years: Well, my hubby will probably be retiring from the USMC, and we will have to pick a location to live. I have no idea where that may be. Geez, I don’t have any grand plans except to be happy and to keep plugging along. I think I am living exactly what I want and don’t want for much more. That can change quickly—heck, it may change tomorrow. Ask me again next week.

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

    To thine ownself be true. This is my mantra. When I start to get lost in the hustle, I remember that if I am not making myself happy, I am no good to anyone else. 

    What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

    Keep working hard, you’re going to be amazing. Be sure to love you first before you try to give yourself to others. 

    Ailsa Emmel is The Everygirl …

    Go-to coffee order? Grande latte, light foam (I know it defeats the whole point of a latte). Or a Venti black unsweetened iced tea with two Splendas
    Favorite act of self-care? Working out and sweating
    Top song of 2020? Ed Sheeran, Perfect
    Favorite piece in your wardrobe? Denim jacket
    If you could have lunch with any woman, who would you choose and why? Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Oprah Winfrey—all inspiring and strong women. They were (and are) tenacious and headstrong yet so caring and helped me stay focused. More

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    Grab Our Photo Editing Course + 110 Other Online Courses for Just $75

    The dreary winter months at the beginning of the year always feel like the perfect time to do a little reflection and check in with yourself. From cultivating new hobbies to pursuing mindset shifts and overcoming personal roadblocks, it’s a great time to work toward a more content and revitalized you. Which is why we’re so excited to have partnered with The Bundle Co. to offer our popular Mastering Photo Editing on Your Phone course as part of a pack of 111 (!!) online courses full of self-improvement-focused classes on everything from overcoming imposter syndrome to financial wellness. The full bundle is an incredible value, worth over $20,000 (seriously, $20,000), and on sale now for just $75.90. This is the biggest bundle they’ve ever offered, at the lowest price, and we’re so excited to be included. 
    Claim all 111 courses now (an over $20,000 value) for just $75.90

    Our popular course, Mastering Photo Editing on Your Phone, is included! 

    About Mastering Photo Editing on Your Phone
    We start the course with our best tips and tricks for actually taking your photos. Even though editing can cover a lot of sins when it comes to photos, it always helps to set yourself up for success when shooting. We go over how to create balance in the composition of your shots and our process for taking our fave photos—like outfit flatlays, exterior shots, and interior vignettes. 
    Next, we take you through all the edits we routinely make on our photos—from brightness to contrast to removing imperfections. With guided video tutorials and pro tips from our guest instructors Lauren Taylor and Ali Stone. 
    You’ll learn our favorite apps for making specific edits—like Snapseed and Tezza—as well as the order we make our edits for the best results. Playing with filters is fun, but sometimes you need to overhaul a photo and a filter just won’t cut it. In this course, you’ll learn the separate core elements of photo editing, so you can edit any photo with ease. All you need to take the course is a phone with app capability. 

    Plus, 110 other amazing courses, all for $75.90 (!!). Here’s a quick look at a few of the courses included in the bundle that we can’t wait to dive into: 

    Taught by Tatiana O’Hara, this course is for anyone who has struggled with having the tough conversations in a corporate role. It covers everything from how to prepare yourself for the conversation to conversation scripts to how to communication after the conversations are finished, and so much more. If you’re in a leadership role, this course is essential. 

    A holistic health coach and registered nurse currently working toward a doctorate in integrated medicine, Kate Eskuri was one of our expert panelists for our 6-Week Self-Care Challenge and we love this goal-setting course she’s created to help you manage your productivity and get sh*t done. The course includes guided worksheets, journal prompts, and a six-step ritual to help you put all your planning to action and achieve your goals. 

    Are you a small business owner having trouble moving or marketing your inventory? This is the course for you. Dani Brown takes you step-by-step through her unique strategy to selling out your launches or restocks every. single. time. A great tool for business owners, including bonus material and a workbook to help you implement her advice every step of the way. 

    Imposter syndrome can stop you in your tracks and prevent you from achieving your goals or feeling like the best version of yourself. Learn how to shift that mindset and start thinking differently with Erika Cramer’s in-depth guide on overcoming imposter syndrome and reclaiming your confidence. 

    Get the full scoop on every course included here. Be sure to claim your bundle by Sunday, February 7, because this amazing price is on the table for this week only. 

    We can’t wait to see what you create with these powerhouse resources! Follow us over @theeverygirlcourses on Instagram and share which course you’re the most excited to start. Plus, more info on future course releases from The Everygirl—we’ve got tons of amazing content in the works for you. More

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    The #1 Conversation You Need to Have Before Getting Married

    It started as a normal morning enjoying a cup of coffee together before the craziness of the day began. “Coffee time,” as we call it, is our daily ritual of couple time where no phones are allowed, and we just talk. Most days it’s an enjoyable conversation, but on this particular morning, we veered into dangerous territory: money. Before I could try to change the subject, an inevitable question surfaced.“Exactly how much debt do you have?” he asked as my body began to tense.
    For the record, I don’t have a lot of debt, but I do have some. My partner, on the other hand, has none. I immediately felt uneasy and insecure. We made it through the conversation unscathed, but it got me thinking about couples and finances and why it’s so hard to talk about money. Studies show that money is one of the most widespread, difficult, and persistent issues within marriages. It’s no wonder a new practice of premarital financial counseling seems to be gaining popularity among engaged couples. 

    Why is it so hard for couples to talk about money? 
    When two people decide to do life together, it’s much more than a merging of households and families. As a licensed couple and family therapist Michelle Collins explained, couples are also joining their pasts and future dreams. “Along with those things, they are joining their different orientations towards money,” Collins said.
    Our family culture, values, and past experiences help determine our views and beliefs about money. “One’s relationship with money develops the language they use when communicating about, interacting with, and showing others how they treat money,” Collins said. “It is common for partners to have different languages about money and when trying to bridge the gap, couples find they don’t have all the tools to translate—and listen—clearly.”
    It comes down to a communication issue. Collins works with couples to examine their family tree and discuss how each individual’s parents’ life experiences and views toward money have impacted their own relationship with money. “This conversation allows partners to better understand how the other person has developed their money language and then find ways to translate so they can be successful managing their finances.”

    What is premarital financial counseling?
    Think of it like couples counseling meets financial counseling. An unbiased, trained professional will help translate your different money languages so you can navigate important financial decisions. “Premarital financial counseling involves the creation of a budget, and the discussion of long-term and short-term financial goals like saving for a home, or the parties’ thoughts about retirement,” Holly Davis, a family law attorney at Kirker Davis LLP, explained. 
    You will discuss everything from spending habits and work ethic to how you’ll handle potential difficult financial situations. “These are so important to discuss because if you are engaged to a big spender, and you are a penny pincher, you have the opportunity to work with your fiancée to see if you can influence their behavior, or to see if you can soften your stance on the position,” Davis said. “Compromises need to be reached when two parties have two very different opinions on big financial topics.” You will learn a lot about your partner and your relationship when you get into the details of what you will do if someone loses their job, or how much money they think should be spent on vacations, entertainment, or clothing.

    Who can benefit from premarital financial counseling?
    Don’t let the word premarital fool you. Both Collins and Davis believe every couple can benefit from financial counseling. “I have never seen a couple not benefit from having a dedicated and structured conversation around money,” said Collins. 
    Davis pointed out that financial consultation is important any time a couple shares expenses or a living space regardless of the status of the relationship. “Waiting for an engagement to discuss these issues is oftentimes too late to change course if you are truly incompatible with someone financially,” she said. Even if you think you have similar views towards money because you come from similar families, Davis warned that could be a false sense of security. She said you must get into specific hypotheticals with your partner to know you’re really on the same page.

    Source: rawpixel

    How to avoid money issues in your relationship.
    First things first, stop avoiding talking about money. Davis recommended being proactive about discussing money frequently, rather than waiting until you’re in the middle of a financial issue. This, she explained, will help you become more self-aware and realize what triggers you when discussing money. “If you know your own roadmap to having a negative reaction, you can try to stop it before it starts,” Davis said.
    Don’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations. According to Collins and Davis, the following questions are important yet often avoided prior to marriage:

    Will we have a joint account? 
    Are there expectations for us to monitor or hold each other accountable about personal spending? 
    Do your family members have any financial expectations of you?
    Do you like to enjoy money, have it for security, or use it as a status symbol?
    If you were fired or laid off or couldn’t perform your current job, what would you do?  What’s your Plan B?  
    If you plan on having children, how does each person feel about what their role is in raising the children? Will one person primarily perform this function, or will it be a shared role between the two parties?

    Ultimately, it comes down to willingness to communicate and compromise. The earlier you identify and understand your different money languages, the quicker you can work on finding common ground. “The hardest part isn’t identifying differences, it’s actually changing your own default opinion in the face of a different opinion that is the hard work,” Davis explained. “If you are engaged to a person who is willing to do this, then your differences can likely be successfully bridged.” 
    And if these conversations are too difficult on your own, know that you can always bring in a professional. A trained couple’s counselor or premarital financial counselor will help navigate the conversation and close the gap between your different money languages without bias or emotion. They will ensure the conversation is productive and that you walk away with a clear understanding of your financial future before you walk down the aisle.
    As for my coffee time debt discussion with my partner, I’m sure it is the first of many uncomfortable conversations about money. And maybe therein lies the real value in it. After all, life isn’t always comfortable so for a relationship to last, it needs to be built on a foundation of honest, respectful communication, no matter what the topic.  More

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    7 Tech Hacks to Help You Find Work-Life Balance

    When it comes to work, technology can make or break you. While it’s made our work more efficient, it also can mean that you’re plugged into your job at all hours of every day—which can be draining and unnecessary. Obviously, 2020 heightened this even more; with work-from-home being the case for the foreseeable future, it’s important to be able to make your technology work for you. Here are easy ways to make sure you’re maintaining work-life balance—even when you’re working remote.

    1. Delete, delete, delete
    One easy way to not let work get in the way of your personal time is to delete the email app off your phone right after you finish working on Fridays (this can also apply to any communication apps your company uses). Then, you can re-download it every Monday morning once you officially start your work day. Not only will this allow you to enjoy your weekend fully and without distractions, but you’ll start your work week off on a much more peaceful foot. You really don’t need to start worrying about work emails the second you wake up on Monday morning. 
    This may sound like a pain, but it only takes 60 seconds to re-download the app each week, and you’ll gain so much by removing email completely from your view for the entire weekend.
    Social media managers: the same goes for you. Delete and re-download any social media apps you aren’t supposed to check during the weekend. If you’re not asked to be on call, it’s OK to step away and take a breather. 

    2. Don’t be afraid of do not disturb
    It can feel like a big deal to cut yourself off from the world, but trust us, once you learn to trust the “do not disturb” settings on your phone, you’ll never want to go back. If you have a work-only phone, even better—you can set your whole device to “do not disturb” for non-work hours. 
    If you use your personal phone as your work phone, you can still do this, but might want to allow certain friends and family members to call you during that time. If your boss really needs to reach you, don’t worry: if they call twice within three minutes, the phone will ring (you can learn more about how all these features work here). But no, you don’t need to respond to your boss’ brainstorming texts when you’re trying to enjoy dinner with your family. 

    Source: Colorjoy Stock

    3. Remove notifications
    Even if you don’t open that Slack message or email that comes in a little too early in the morning, it doesn’t mean it’s not disturbing your personal time. That’s time you’re spending reaching for your phone, looking at your screen, and making a mental note to respond later. You now may find yourself thinking about that message during your commute or while cleaning up after dinner instead of catching up on your favorite podcast. Turn off any non-necessary notifications—on your phone and computer—and cut out the distractions. This applies to personal apps too. Not only will your personal time feel more freeing, but you won’t get distracted during work. Get more done and get your butt home. 

    4. Block your worst distractions
    We all have a few websites that we gravitate towards a little too much during the day (this writer is guilty of refreshing New York Magazine’s site constantly since 2008). Try setting some website blockers on your computer to help you keep your focus during the work day. These distractions can slow you down and cause you to work later than you should, especially if you’re working from home where it’s easy to fall into a productivity guilt trap and to work late to compensate. Many of these tools allow you to block devices during set hours (think 9-5), and others remove your access to the site completely until you say you want them back. This list of website blockers is a great place to start!

    5. Use tech to set boundaries
    Remember back in the day when we would customize our AIM chat room away statuses whenever we stepped away from that precious screen? It’s not entirely clear why anyone needed to know we were in the shower, but that’s how it went. Today, you can do the same thing with your more modern forms of communication. Whenever you leave the office or simply want some heads down time, feel free to change your status on Slack, mark off time on your public calendar, or set OOO notices that inform your coworkers when you’ll be back online. This may feel harsh at times, but if expectations are set, no one will feel like they’re waiting around for your response since they know you aren’t available at the moment. 

    Source: Colorjoy Stock

    6. Track your movements
    We’re talking literally. Track every physical move you make with a smart watch, your phone, or some sort of exercise tracking device. Set movement goals for yourself and use your tech pal to track your steps and keep you accountable. Check in on your progress throughout the day—an app may just be the reminder you need to give yourself a break and get your blood flowing! 

    7. Set break reminders
    Similar to how you can use your tech devices to give you a nudge when you need to get moving, use your phone or computer to set break reminders. It’s so easy to get caught up in our work and forget to take breaks, but you need to take them. Block off time for a solid lunch break on your calendar, or set a timer to alert you when you’ve worked for an hour straight. Move. Breath. Stop typing. Do whatever you need to do to relieve tension, take a break, and come up for air. You deserve it.  More