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Makeup tutorial for abused women goes viral

For most people the realities of domestic violence are hard to put into every day terms. The violence faced at home and the fear and anxiety that comes with violent partnerships seems so far removed — that is, until they see a video like this.

Refuge for Women and Children Against Domestic Violence puts a victim of abuse in a setting familiar to many women: a makeup tutorial. The only difference is that she isn’t trying to achieve the Beyonce or Gaga look, she’s trying to cover her bruises before her abusive partner comes home.

Did this clip help you gain some perspective?

Even the toughest folks will be terrified by this short film — you’ve been warned

I like to think I don’t scare very easily, especially in the office in the middle of the afternoon. Boy was I wrong.

I will certainly be sleeping with the lights on tonight.

If you’re a fan of frights this 3 minute video should be right up your alley. The short won David F Sandburg the honour of best director at the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge, so you know it will leave you up at night.

If you’re less adventurous you might want to sit this one out.

You’ve been warned.

Women share experiences with “random acts of feminism”

Redditors today shared some of their experiences with what they called “random acts of feminism” — unexpected moments where the feminist actions of others impacted their everyday lives.

Check out some of the experiences and share your own in the comments below!

 

“I had a really awesome high school history teacher. He was a pretty chill dude, really big into government and civics, and helped our Debate Team be one of the most respected and recognized organizations at our sports-excelling high school. It was AP US History year 2 (everything after the Civil War) and we were spending the day learning about various social movements. We had a few very machismo-filled dudes in our class who loved to promote the traditional, nuclear American family and spar off with my teacher in debates. That day, my teacher casually started the discussion with, “Raise your hand if you think a woman should be paid the same as a man instead of $0.70 to the dollar”, “Raise your hand if you think it’s silly that women didn’t have the right to vote at one time”, “Raise your hand if you think a woman should be able to freely pursue a career and raise a family”.

As the questions kept coming up, everyone’s hands shot up for every question to agree with it. Even the pretty conservative dudes’ hands went up, with a smirk on their face that read, “Hey, it’s the 00’s, these are really stupid questions”. The last question my teacher said was, “Raise your hand if you raised your hand to all these questions”. Not a single person in the room had their hand down.

Then my teacher, without skipping a beat, responded with, “Congratulations to all of you who have your hands up. You are all feminists.” All the social conservatives were sitting their with their hands up, in shock, which opened up the floor to an awesome discussion about how feminists weren’t just stereotypical bra-burners in the 60’s. It’s been 11 years and I still remember how important those realizations were to all of us in that class to this day.”
OrangeTangerine

 

 

“After being on the organizing committee for an International Women’s Day event in my hometown (and working my ass off), I get this text from my boyfriend: “You are an amazing woman, And I mean that as you are amazing and a woman, not amazing by some imagined stereotypical standard of what a woman should be.”‘
— elizabethjaneanne

 

“In highschool they have those days where colleges or army recruiters can set up booths for kids to grab brochures etc. So the army booth is having this competition where you see how many push ups you can do in a minute. All these guys were doing it and I decided I’m doing it too. I was the only girl and the recruiter told me I could go on my knees instead of my toes. All of a sudden a bunch of the guys just say “No believe me man…she doesn’t need it” I won doing full push ups and got a free T-shirt and an apologetic handshake. Waterpolo pays off.”
— Deja_Vu_For_You

 

“I was part of a student organization interviewing new board members. It was a very professional atmosphere (grad school) so candidates were expected to wear suits to the interview. One of the candidates showed up in one of those suits that have long shorts that were popular for women briefly a few years ago. During deliberations, some of the guys kept bringing it back to her attire. I assured them that, yes, her outfit was a common sight in women’s professional clothing stores. Then one of my colleagues came up us away with the perfect response: “Why are we focusing on what she was wearing? We should be talking about her credentials. I thought she was well qualified.”

To be fair to the guys though, an interview for a traditional organization was not the proper place for showing off a new style.”
— brainmuffin

 

Share your own experiences with random acts of feminism!

What keeps poor people poor? This description will change your views on poverty

It can be easy to think that all poor people need to do to be less poor is work harder or save more money, but the truth is a lot more complex. There are a million factors that keep the poorest of us from getting out of their situation, and Reddit user Rebris explains it perfectly in his description of what keeps poor people in poverty. If you thought it was easy to step out of poverty, you won’t after reading this.

 

In response to The Atlantic’s It’s expensive to be poor:

This is something very few “well to do” people realize. Being poor isn’t just a temporary inconvenience, it’s utterly lifecrushing. The smallest things can turn into the worst disasters.

Even if you’re decently smart, have no kids and live by yourself, things can quickly get out of hand. Say you work 30 hours a week at $8 (and that’s generous), that’s 960 dollars a month to live on before taxes. Let’s make it an even 1000.

  • Rent costs you anywhere between 300-500 USD. Let’s assume the cheapest apartment in the worst part of town for 400. We’ll even include the utilities.
  • If you want to get from and to work reliably, you need a car. Public transit outside of major US cities is unreliable and nobody will hire you if you depend on the bus to get to work since service is often delayed or canceled. Car requires insurance and gas after the initial cost, which we’ll ballpark at an ultra-low 150 a month.
  • You try to eat responsibly; no instant junk, instead lots of eggs, cheese, meat and veggies, and make sure never to let food spoil. Since you’re by yourself you can eat for $200 a month; it’s not fancy food but a slow cooker goes a long way. Add another $50 per month for things like shampoo, dish soap, paper towels etc.

We’re at $800 now. Say you use public library internet (so no monthly costs), have no TV, never go out to eat or to the bar with friends. This leaves you with $200 to put away every single month, which you do for 3 months. Note that your job doesn’t provide you health insurance, so we’re opting for none (currently).

Now your car breaks down. You take it to a shop everyone tells you is reliable, and they say it’s a $500 repair. This is okay, because you have $600 saved up, and this still leaves you with $100. After all, you need a car to get to work.

On your way to work with your repaired car you get pulled over because your taillight is out. You get a ticket for $200. Shit.

What do you do? Ask work for a pay advance? Most minimum wage places don’t do that. You don’t have credit and don’t own a credit card, cash advance places are a scam. You can ask relatives but you will still owe them the money and shatter what little self esteem you have left.

Keep in mind these are minimum numbers. Next to no minimum wage job will give you 30 hours a week, fines and unexpected expenses can easily be double that, and if you manage to live with no internet, TV and miscellaneous costs for 3 whole months, MAYBE you’ll end up having those initial $600 saved up. Then in an instant, it’s all gone and you’re back to square zero.

Now think about going to college to better your education (while still going to work to survive). This adds more expenses on top of the $0 you already have left in your margin, even if you get financial aid and a scholarship. Not to mention your job will have to accommodate your school hours, and they won’t like that one bit, putting you on the shit list super fast.

This can go on for hours, but it’s not always as simple as “spending too much and saving too little”. This is a hole that is very, very hard to get out of once you’re stuck in it, twice so in US states that have high unemployment rates.

Banks will fuck you over with fees and fines, people look down on you, nobody will give you credit and the worst of interest rates, purchases are more expensive, trivial odds turn to huge issues. This simply doesn’t happen to people who earn a “living” wage; these are things they never have to think or worry about. Once you have a reasonable amount of money, it opens so many doors for you and erases so many worries that it’s absolutely absurd how condescending society acts toward people living in these situations on a day to day basis.

Group investments: matching and vesting

by Andre Domise

“Welcome to the plan!” says the cover of your group investments package, a Bible-thick assemblage of loose flyers, tax forms, and mutual fund descriptions.  Among the blizzard of Balanced Growth portfolios and T-2033 forms, there has to be some simple explanation of how this whole thing works.  You flip from 3% base and 50% matched contributions to flex benefits spillover, and by the time any comprehension finally starts to sink in, the phone is ringing, your co-worker is tapping you on the shoulder to ask if you got his e-mail, and the weighty package gets stashed in a drawer (probably never to be seen again).  It makes you wonder why the people in all the promo flyers were smiling, and not ripping their hair out.

It’s okay. Everybody knows they’re supposed to read these things through, but it’s rare that anyone actually does.

If you’re working, and have a group pension/investments plan of any kind, consider yourself lucky.  Only 38.6-percent of Canadians participate in a Registered Pension Plan (RPP), most of them women.  44-percent say they are unprepared for retirement; and, just over 50-percent have any plan for retirement at all.  By no means should a group investment plan be your only nest egg, but they do give you a great head-start.  In my next few columns I’ll explain the ins and outs of group investment plans, but I highly recommend you contact your benefits provider to be crystal-clear before you sign your name to anything.

Matching
Most group investment plans operate with a matching principle. That is, if you contribute to the investment plan, your employer will pitch in as well.  There’s no rule as to how much they’re required to put in. Depending on how generous your employer is, they may even contribute a base amount, usually between 2% to 5% of your salary, without you having to pitch in at all. Most of the time, you’ll need to kick in a portion of your salary in order to get a match from your employer. That match is usually capped at a certain percentage of your salary. For example, if your salary and bonuses average $55,000 per year, and you receive a 50% match up to 5% of your gross salary, the formula will probably look something like this:

Your contribution: $55,000 x 5% = $2750, divided by 26 bi-weekly paycheques = $105.77 per paycheque

Employer’s contribution: $105.77 x 50% = $52.88 per paycheque

So, you would see roughly $158.65 contributed to your group investment plan every other week. Consider that, with every payment into your nest egg boosted by 50% in this scenario, it makes far more sense to make regular payments into a group plan, than your personal RRSP.  A smart investing strategy would be to max out contributions into the group plan, before putting money into your personal plan.

Vesting
If you’re thinking of leaving your plan, or moving to a different company, what happens to the money your employer put in?  To find the answer, you definitely want to ask your benefits provider about the “vesting” period.  In most provinces, as long as you’re in the group savings plan for two years, you get to keep all of the money.  Each company is different, and may choose a shorter vesting period, say one year, or even immediate vesting.  In Québec, however, vesting happens immediately.

Next time, I’ll look at different types of savings plans, and which ones may be the most appropriate for you.

Defined contribution pension plans explained

by Andre Domise

I understand that sussing out the differences between workplace-sponsored retirement plans can feel like a pain.  I’ve been in the financial industry for the better part of 10 years, and even I get my definitions crossed at times. However, the effort is worthwhile, as some of these plans can be used to build a hefty nest-egg and even help you buy a home or retire early.

The Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DCPP) is the most common plan for private-sector, non-union employers. It’s called “defined contribution,” because the amount of money you’ll deposit into the plan is known ahead of time. Contained somewhere in the acres of paperwork and informational material, you should be able to find out the contribution and matching formula that determines how much you’ll pitch in, and how much your employer will match.  If this is difficult to locate or understand, just call your benefits provider and have a customer service representative explain it to you. They’re often very helpful – they want your business, after all.

In these plans, there is usually a base contribution you’re expected to make (ie. 2% of your gross salary), and your employer will likely match that amount dollar-for-dollar. Then, you might be able to kick in an optional amount that will also be matched (ie. up to 3% more of your gross salary, matched at 50% by the employer). Using the formula for a company I deal with fairly regularly, here is an example of how DCPP contributions work:

Employee gross salary: $75,000
Employer base contribution: 4% of gross salary
Employee base contribution: 2% of gross salary
Employee optional contribution: Up to 10%
Employer matched contribution: 100% of optional employee contributions
matched, up to 3%

Given that an amount equal to 6% of this employee’s salary is already being deposited into the DCPP (4% from the employer, 2% from the employee), she’s off to a good start. That’s $4,500 in the bank each year (or approximately $173 per paycheque – about $58 from the employee and $115 from the employer). If she decides to bump up her contributions by another 3% (because it’s matched by the employer), that’s an additional 6%, or $9000 per year and only $144 per paycheque coming from the employee.

Let’s say our employee is 40 years old, and plans on retiring at 65. Let’s also assume she made some smart investment choices, and averaged 6% growth per year. Her pension account would be worth over $520,000 by the time she’s ready to retire. Not bad!

When you’re ready to retire or leave your company, DCPP assets are usually moved into an account called a Locked-In Retirement Account, or LIRA (some provinces use a Locked-In RRSP or LRRSP, but they’re not much different). At this point, no more money can be added to the plan, and nothing can be withdrawn. You can choose the investments in the plan, but it’s otherwise off-limits. When you’re ready to collect an income from these locked-in accounts, they’re usually converted into a Life Income Fund, or LIF (Locked-In RRSPs are converted to Locked-In Retirement Income Funds, or LRIFs.  Again, not much different). The only downside for these pension plans is that pension varies by province.  For example, each province has a different retirement age (e.g. age 50 in Alberta, age 55 in Ontario), and different rules as to what can be done with this money at retirement. For
example, in Ontario, when you convert your LIRA into a LIF, 50% of those assets can be moved into a registered, non-locked-in account (ie. RRSP, RRIF) to be used as you wish, while in British Columbia, all of the DCPP assets stay locked-in (even if you are experiencing financial hardship).

That said, the downside of locking-in provisions is far exceeded by the upside of the tax deduction you receive for making the contributions, as well as the fact that employer money helping you grow your nest egg is free money. And by the way, only yourcontributions can be deducted; your employer’s contributions didn’t come out of your pocket, hence no deduction.

Next time around, we’ll look at Deferred Profit Sharing Plans.

When it comes to discounts, ask and you shall receive

By Doreen Binder

Most people love to get a deal.

Several weeks ago on a Wednesday morning I was in Banana Republic and I could not believe how busy it was. The fitting rooms were filled with people who were queued up waiting to try things on and the lineup for the cash snaked around through the store. It all made sense when I realized that people who received Banana Republic’s promotional emails had received a 40 per cent off coupon to be used that day.

It is great when we discover the price has been slashed on a much coveted accessory or piece of clothing we have been eyeing for several weeks or when we are privy to one day sales. But what about when we buy something and then discover that if we had only waited a few days, we could have gotten it cheaper.

These days several chain stores offer price adjustments. The rules and regulations vary from retailer to retailer, so it is best to ask. I was recently in The Gap and noticed that a cowl scarf I had purchased the previous week was reduced by thirty per cent. I asked a sales associate the time limit on price adjustments and was told it was seven days. It was the last day that I could get a price adjustment on the scarf. I did not have my receipt with me and I was not sure if I could make it home in time to pick up the scarf and the receipt and return to the store before closing. I was surprised when the sales associate asked the method of payment I had used for my purchase. He was able to track it through my bank card and within minutes I had the discount accredited to my bank account. I love it when everything comes together — store policies, customer service and technology — and it results in a deal.

It pays to ask about price adjustments.

 

 

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