Thursday, April 23, 2015

App Helps Keep Prom Budget In Check

According to a survey released by Visa Inc., in 2014, American families who had a teenager attending a prom spent $1,078. If you’re having a bit of sticker shock, the survey revealed that for 2015, a national average of $1,139 would be spent on prom expenses, which represents a five percent increase from 2014.

Recognizing that prom spending now represents a major expense for American families with high school students, Visa launched a new, free, smartphone app “Plan 'it Prom”. The app’s purpose is to help parents and teens plan and budget every aspect of the prom, with the objective of helping everyone stick to a budget and support responsible spending.

Visa's prom survey revealed some interesting regional and economic disparities:
  • Northeastern families will spend an average of $1,528
  • Southern families will spend an average of $1,203
  • Western families will spend an average of $1,079
  • Midwestern families will spend an average of $722

One troubling statistic is that parents surveyed who fell in the lower income brackets (less than $50,000 a year) plan to spend more than the national average, $1,245, while parents who make over $50,000 will spend an average of $1,129. Additionally, single parents plan to spend $1,563, almost double the amount that married parents plan to spend at $770.

“Prom has devolved into a competition to crown the victor of high school society, but teens shouldn't be trying to keep up with the Kardashians,” said Nat Sillin Visa's head of US Financial Education. The Visa survey also found that parents are planning to pay for 59% of prom costs, while their teens are covering the remaining 41%. With parents subsidizing this much of the total prom spending, there is little incentive for teens to cut costs.

To save on the cost of the prom, here are a few tips:
  • Shop for formal wear at consignment stores or online. As with tuxedos, many outlets rent formal dresses and accessories for one-time use.
  • Have makeup done at a department store's cosmetics department or find a talented friend to help out.
  • Split the cost of a limo with other couples, or drive yourselves.
  • Take pre-prom photos yourself and have the kids use cell phones or digital cameras for candid shots at various events.
  • Work out a separate prom budget with your child well in advance to determine what you can afford. Set a limit of what you will contribute and stick to it. If teens want to spend more than that, encourage them to earn the money to pay for it or decide which items they can live without.

The free Plan'it Prom app lets users make a realistic, detailed prom budget and then helps them stick to that budget by allowing them to track their spending as they shop. Plan'it Prom is available in the iTunes store.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Countdown is On For Amelia

The countdown is on for Amelia Earhart’s around-the-world flight, with just 1 day until take-off on June 26th. And yes, you are reading this correctly, Amelia Rose Earhart is preparing for her highly anticipated flight, ready to recreate and symbolically complete Amelia Mary Earhart’s fateful 1937 around-the-world flight … and Target is here to help get Amelia ready.

As the exclusive personal electronics partner to “TheAmelia Project,” Target is providing Amelia with the latest technology to support the FIRST fully-streamed and social media-integrated flight that spans the globe. Target’s latest tech essentials including the iPad mini and Fitbit will help Amelia navigate the skies and remain stylish. Viewers across the globe will be able to interact with Amelia in real time via social media, @Amerlia_Earhart #flywithAmelia, and get the inside scoop about Amelia’s inspiring story on A Bullseye View.

The Amelia Project Fast Facts:
  • Pilot: Amelia Rose Earhart, 31 yrs old
  • Departure Date: June 26, 2014
  • Departure City: Oakland, Calif.
  • Duration of Trip: 17 Days (minimum)
  • No. of Stops: 17
  • Flight Time: 100 Hrs.
  • Type of Aircraft: Pilatus PC-12 NG

Catch All of the Latest on this Epic Adventure at The AmeliaProject and Flight Tracker.

Friday, May 30, 2014

What’s in a word?

The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” can be traced back to The Christian Recorder, March 1862. It was once used as an “uplifting” avenue to fight back against bullies. A lot can change in 150 plus years. Words are the way in which we, as a society, communicate and define subject matter. Words are used to define who we are.

For instance, if I were to tell you a story about a 12-year-old girl who was a “child prostitute” versus telling you a story about a 12-year-old girl who’d been commercially sexually exploited, your idea about this 12-year-old would change from a “girl gone wrong” to a true victim. Which brings me to my point. Merriam-Webster, the number one trusted source of definition for American English, defines the word pimp as “a man who solicits clients for a prostitute.”

Nothing could be further from the true definition of this word. Let’s begin with the fact that in today’s society a pimp can be male or female. In regard to “soliciting clients for a prostitute,” pimps are people who first solicit girls, women and boys by using manipulation and grooming and then use fear and coercion to force these victims to perform sexual acts on “customers/victimizers”. These are the same tactics that pedophiles use on their chosen victims.

A woman from New Jersey, named Danielle D., is working to change how we understand what a pimp truly is. A victim of human trafficking, Danielle knows full well precisely what a pimp is and is asking that Merriam-Webster update their definition of the word pimp to fall in line with its true meaning. Human Trafficking is a crime that occurs right here in the United States. Despite a good amount of media attention focused upon this heinous crime, many Americans don’t understand the true nature of human trafficking.

In order to better understand our society we must have a true and correct definition for the words that we use to convey information. Danielle has started a petition on and is asking for a very simple request from Merriam Webster’s. For more information about this particular petition, visit at “Merriam-Webster: Change the Definition of"pimp" to a realistic definition.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter egg safety: Tips to keep your family healthy

The egg has a long history as a symbol for the arrival of spring. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century and in fact, decorating eggs pre-dates Christianity. In many cultures and religions, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth.

However, tradition and celebration aside, eating eggs that are not handled with proper care can cause food poisoning. Salmonella, an organism that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever, can be found on both the outside and the inside of eggs that look perfectly normal. In otherwise healthy people, the symptoms generally last a couple of days and taper off within a week. But Salmonella can cause severe illness and even death in at-risk individuals, such as pregnant women, young children, older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.

The FDA offers the following tips for egg food safety:

Refrigerate Eggs Promptly
  • Buy eggs only from stores that keep them refrigerated.
  • At home, store eggs in their original carton and keep them refrigerated at 40 degrees.
  • Promptly refrigerate unused eggs or leftovers that contain eggs.

Keep Clean
  • Wash hands and all food contact surface areas (e.g., counter tops, utensils, dishes, and cutting boards) with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.
  • Discard cracked or dirty eggs.

Cook Eggs Thoroughly
  • Eggs should be thoroughly cooked until both the yolk and white are firm and not runny. Recipes containing eggs mixed with other foods should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  • Eat eggs promptly after cooking; Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs and egg-containing foods, should not sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served (like homemade Caesar salad dressing or ice cream) use either eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products.

For more tips on egg and food safety, visit the FDA website or call the FDA Food Information Line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: It’s time to talk

What began as organized protests in England in the 1970s, to raise awareness for sexual violence against women, has developed into a global initiative to raise awareness about the rape, sexual harassment, incest, molestation, and sex trafficking of both genders. Through tireless efforts from the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA), in 2001, April was designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

With a theme of “Talk Early, TalkOften,” the 2013 SAAM campaign focuses on healthy sexuality and its connection to child sexual abuse prevention. Talking with our children about sex isn’t a comfortable subject for some parents, but avoiding an uncomfortable conversation is not giving your child your best. The SAAM campaign encourages parents to start talking with their children to prevent child sexual abuse and offers a plethora of tools to engage in age appropriate talks with children. Materials are available in both English and En Espanol.

Guess what? Child sexual abuse is not gender specific. According to the study, “Prevalence and Psychological Sequence of Self-Reported Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse in General Population,” Briere, one in seven boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood. In the report, as with many others, it is acknowledged that the statistic is actually higher due to the fact that often the crime of child sex abuse is not reported.

While we as adults can choose to become polarized in the fear of discomfort, imagine how a child must feel. How often have you heard a friend say that they wish that they’d been able to talk to their mom or dad about sex? Unfortunately, this writer hears it too often. The ability, the comfort that our children have to speak with us about sex, is our responsibility. So take some time, check out the SAAM website and talk to your kids.

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