The Yoga Pants Craze

A tame option from Victoria’s Secret ($39.50)

Is it cool to wear yoga pants even if you don’t do yoga? Can EVERYONE wear yoga pants? Are yoga pants acceptable to wear everywhere? There are no easy answers to these questions. Yoga pants have taken the world by storm. High school girls are petitioning for their right to wear yoga pants. Lululemon front man, Chip Wilson has resigned because of comments he made about yoga pants not being appropriate for every woman. American women were outraged, Wilson had no choice but to move on. Yoga pants have taken on a life of their own.

A few years ago, it was a leggings craze, led by Lindsay Lohan, if memory serves. But hey, at least you could dress leggings up or down. At least there were options. Yoga pants are decidedly casual, because, well, they are meant to wear to exercise, or at least look like you exercise. The term for this look is: “athleisure,” which frankly, sounds more like an illness than a fashion statement. They’re SO popular that the sales of jeans dropped by 6% last year! Women turn to yoga pants for comfort these days while those stiff old jeans collect dust.

Lululemon ($79-179)

BBC News recently did an article on whether yoga pants are a “threat to public decency.” BBC News is a British News Organization and it’s interesting to consider that the decency of yoga pants slash leggings may differ across cultures. Still, BBC New reports that law makers in Montana proposed a bill that would deem yoga pants “indecent.” As of now, the bill has been postponed, but the dialogue has been opened.

After all, Lululemon did have to recall a line of their yoga pants in 2013 because prolonged wear led to sheerness…and high school girls roaming the halls in skin tight, sheer pants presents a problem. Sheer or not, non-supporters argue that you can see such a clear outline of the buttocks (and sometimes the front-ocks) that there is nothing left to the imagination. When women are out running errands at the grocery store or thirteen year olds are flaunting the goods in front of vulnerable teenage boys, this might be a valid criticism. Have we nothing left to hide? Literally? And what about plus-sized women? Are there different rules? Some say yes. Other say, even plus sized women have a right wear what they’re comfortable in–and maybe that’s the point.

If you’re a yoga pants supporter, check out Lululemon for super duper priced apparel, or Atheleta (a Gap brand) for mid-level priced pants.

Ready to Trade Snow for Sunshine?

Shopping for Your Destination

Punta Cana

Need a little warmth in your life? We found some great deals on the hottest winter vacation spots. Check out these spots now for a great deal.

  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Check out Hotel Barcelo. This place is a five star, four diamond hotel that sits along the Pacific Ocean, with a sea of mountainous backdrop. Check out before booking your room.
  • Miami Beach is always a fun spot and it’s ALWAYS WARM! Some our reasonably priced hotel picks are: the Fountainbleu, Loewes, Courtyard Cadillac. Check out coupons for fun things to do.
  • Costa Rica is one of our favorite getaways because it’s cheap. The most you’ll pay is for airfare, but once your there, it’s definitely a budget vacation.
  • Costa Rica

    Punta Cana is another great pick for those of us on a budget. Lush white beaches and emerald seas give Punta Cana a heaven-on-earth feel. There are always great deals being offered for this Dominican Republic vacation spot.

What You Should Know Before Purchasing Your Airline Ticket

But first, follow these useful tips:

  • Browse the sites, but then delete your cookies. There is growing evidence that websites can be tracking your habits in order to drive up price.  Then, purchase on another computer. This might sound all conspiracy theorist-y, but you just never know.
  • Do not buy too early UNLESS you are planning to travel on a holiday or other high airline traffic day. Book about 45 days out for domestic flights and no more than 60 days for international flights, Greenberg suggests.
  • Whenever possible, travel on “off peak days.” Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days on which to book your flight. While it might be inconvenient, it’s the cheapest by hundreds.
  • Consider the time of month.  Many of us book right after being paid (the first and fifteenth, most popularly). Try to book on a day like the 7th, when traffic on the websites are slower, driving down prices.
  • If you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person (no pun intended), wait until just before the departure date or even on it, and try to find a good deal on an empty seat. No guarantees on this though. Some airlines drive the prices up, in anticipation of emergencies. But on the day of? Empty seats are yours for next to nothing.

Tick…tick…tick…It’s Tax Time

By now your company should have given you all the necessary tax information to file your taxes. And we’re here to remind you that it’s TIME! There are so many options for filing your taxes. You can:

  • Hire an accountant. This can cost you $200 for relatively simple taxes and upwards to $800 if you have a more complicated return to file. For example, if you’re a business owner, it’ll be worth the cash.
  • H&R Block–these are tax specialists–NOT CPAs or accountants. They are read up on tax code and understand how taxes work. They know how to file and are cheaper than taxes.
  • E-filing using Turbo Tax and other product. If your taxes are uncomplicated, and fairly routine, go with this most least expensive option.

Here are a few helpful hints when filing:

  • Remember to deduct donations, including your church and Goodwill, the two most popular.
  • Deduct professional expenses, including union dues. Just be prepared to justify these deductions. You don’t want to red flag yourself.
  • Deduct childcare expenses, including daycare (the biggest expense).
  • Increase IRA contributions for 2015. These are tax deductible.
  • Take an opportunity to refinance your home. When begin a paying a mortgage, you pay out much of the interest up front, which is tax deductible. When you refinance, you go back to that stage of front loading interest, creating a bigger deduction.
  • Use current tax laws. Have there been any changes to energy efficient homes and cars?
  • You may need an accountant to be sure you’re totally up to date and reaping every possible advantage.
  • Withhold more in 2015 if you’re getting a large refund. The government shouldn’t be holding on to your money.

What to do with the refund?

So you made a little money this year. Remember, you shouldn’t be reaping thousands–that’s your money to begin with; not the government’s. What to do with the windfall?

According to cnn.money.com, the first thing you need to do is pay down credit card debt. This the most expensive money you borrow. You don’t need to pay off your entire balance, but you have the opportunity to make your debt more manageable. If you’re able to double or triple your payment because of a tax refund, you should do this first.

If credit card debt is not a problem for you, plan to pay off a big upcoming bill. are you taking a vacation this summer? Do you know that you have an expense coming up? If you get a windfall, you now have a chance to plan for it. Instead of putting your plane tickets on a high interest credit card, pay for it using your tax refund.

 

Updating Your Home on a Budget

Designers say that you should update your home every seven years. There are lots of ways to shop for accent pieces on a budget (think clearance at Pier 1, Homegoods, and Overstock). But some of us are budgeted for money AND time. And since it’s not always realistic to completely redecorate your home every seven years, we’ve compiled some time saving ideas from Real Simple  that will freshen up your space without breaking the bank.

Painted canvases to fill the living room wall

Real Simple

 

1. Paint a canvas. This can be a fun thing to do with your family. Buy blank canvases and paint them the same color as your wall. Check out a local craft store for this, like Michael’s. It will add dimension and subtle style to the space. Remember, huge walls call for huge canvases.  It’s also almost always a cheaper option to buy a decorated canvas. And, better yet, sites like Living Social and Groupon almost always offer deals on sites that allow to create your own canvases using family photos. A collection of these over the couch could be fun!

Stand lamp

Real Simple

 

2. Create a dual purpose side table. This is so easy! You can use an existing piece of furniture, or buy an inexpensive modular unit from Amazon or Ikea. The idea is to be able to stack books, insert basket, and place a lamp on the top. It adds interest to the space, saves space and actually serves more than one purpose.

Plates in unexpected colors as wall decoration

Real Simple

 

3. Hang plates! Unexpected, right? Make it your mission to pick up a plate whenever you’re out and about. Try consignment shops, TJ Maxx, Pier 1, and other speciality stores for cool-looking plates that might match your color scheme. You can hang a collection of plates on any wall–don’t think they’re just for the kitchen! This works in the sitting room, bedroom or bathroom!

0409reading-lamp

Real Simple

 

4. Repurpose hand-me downs and antiques. Antique shops can be very expensive. Instead, try a consignment shop, or even good will to find odds and ends that you might use as decor more than furniture. One great example is an old chair as a nightstand. It adds charm, originality and creativity to the bedroom. It can be an easy spray paint or stain project, if you find the perfect piece in the wrong color. If you want to get REALLY creative, stencil some flowers or designs on the surface or your chair, lampshade, end table, etc.