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By: Courtney Corbridge

Living in a condo, traveling the world, and filling your free time with family visits or time on the green seems like the dream of retirement. But not without a significant savings set aside.

 

Think of it. If you retire at 65, you’re looking at another 20 to 30 years of vibrant life, which means you’ll need the money to live it. In fact, experts say that you’ll have to save enough to practically replace your current annual income for each year of retirement. So if you’re making 50,000 dollars a year now, you’ll need 50,000 dollars a year then. The idea is that what you stop spending on your children’s education, mortgages, and middle-aged expenses you’ll make up for in new hobbies, healthcare, and excursions. On a 50,000 income, that’s 1.5 million dollars for 30 years. 

 

But don’t get overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help you plan now for a good life later:

 

1.     Start Early: The US Department of Labor suggests actively saving 10–15 years before retirement. Other financial gurus recommend saving as soon as possible; the longer you save the more time your money has to grow on interest and in investments. Multi-millions will take some time, but don’t get overwhelmed, don’t give up, and once it’s saved, don’t touch it.

2.     Stay Healthy: Certainly age comes with medical problems. We all slow down and break down a little, but the more we look after ourselves today, the less time we’ll spend paying hospital bills tomorrow—and the more likely we’ll be able to continue living independently on the funds we’ve saved. Keep a balanced diet and stay active.

3.     Make a Budget and Keep It: Know where your money is going and cut down on unneeded expenses. It may surprise you what you can live without if you are actively concerned with your future.

4.     Invest in Safe, Long-Term Investments and Spread Them Out: Experts caution against putting all your money in one or two places—especially in the companies you already get your paychecks from. Spread your money out so that if one investment suffers a loss, you haven’t lost everything.

5.     Contribute to your Employer’s Retirement Fund: By putting away funds now with a 401(k), you can defer taxes until you make the withdrawal at retirement. By then your senior status may offer you tax breaks and benefits to help you save the maximum amount. Additionally, many employers will match your contributions or add a percentage of them to add to your retirement funds.

6.     Minimize Expenses in the Last 10–15 Years: Pre-retirement is the time for stability. Try not to take out loans for cars or homes, and do not offer large loans to your children. This is the time to invest and save what you might otherwise offer up as monthly payments to a bank.

7.     Research on Your Own: Whether that means researching which financial consultant will best be able to help you or researching which investments you want to make, knowledge is the key. So sit down with your spouse—or by yourself—and dig in.

 

 

Article sponsored by Morning Pointe.

Find them on the web at: http://www.morningpointe.com

 

 

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By Amelia Pilsch

A while back, in dog years, I was shopping with three close friends and stepped into an upscale furniture store. There, featured prominently in many of the furniture groupings, was a plant, the Sansevieria trifasciata or as it is more commonly known, Mother-in-law’s tongue.

My friends, both wonderful mother-in-laws, had many negative comments to make about one of my favorite plants.  “I hate that metaphor,” “I don’t even like what it implies,” and, “I would not have that plant in my house” were accompanied by grimaces and head shaking. Does everyone associate a malicious tongue with mother-in-laws? I held mine.

I love my Sansevieria, it's a beautiful name for a plant, and I should have defended it right then. I appreciate its architectural appearance in home décor. It grows vertically, long and straight, adding height to any space calling for something tall. The leaves look like swords, the color is a rich, deep green, sometimes with variations of lighter green or yellow bands. When it blooms, it is amazing!

This plant is one of the most low maintenance plants that I have ever owned. It will thrive in low light or steamy, humid conditions. It will survive infrequent watering and, during our winter, it needs only one watering. My plant will probably outlive me.

The Sansevieria is also rated one of the top plants for improving air quality in the home. Specifically, it filters out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products such as toilet paper, tissue and other personal care products. Put one in your bathroom.

Very soon, I will become a mother-in-law to a wonderful young woman, which is what reminded me about that shopping trip with my friends in the first place. This new stage of my life really has nothing to do with plants except in the nature of the relationship that I hope to have with my daughter-in-law. I hope that she will view me as low maintenance. I will try my best. I hope my presence in her home will improve the quality of life for all who are there. I hope our relationship will bloom and be amazing.

In China, the Sansevieria trifasciata was kept as a treasured houseplant, because the Eight Gods bestowed their virtues on those who grew them. These virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health and strength. It is also known to create positive energy and helpful feng shui.

So, I will continue to nurture my Mother-in-law's tongue, though it will be called a Sansevieria in my house, because it is beautiful and unique, and it has done well for me. Perhaps it will become a symbolic reminder to "bite my tongue" and work on this new relationship that has blessed me. I want to get it right.

 Amelia Pilsch is a member of the Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners and a soon-to-be mother-in-law.

 

Article sponsored by YFC Comedy Cafe.

Find them on the web at: http://www.ttowncomedycafe.org

 

By Courtney Corbridge

 

You've made it through the toughest decision: you know the one you're going to marry. But now for that ring. Here are some tips to find the right one for her—and for your wallet.

 

What are you willing to pay?

First things first, you need to know what you're willing to pay. Sometimes jewelers can be bullies with a smile, but you have more sway over them than they have over you. The best way to keep yourself safe is doing some research on quality diamonds before you go, and then shop around. The average female engagement ring, with band and stone, goes for roughly 5k, but it’s easy to spend a lot less or a lot more, so in the end it’s knowing her style that’s most important.

 

Lately, this means taking your girlfriend with you. But it doesn't have to. And though she may not be able to tell you she wants a VS1 grade, G color, 1.5 carat, very good cut diamond. She (or some of her friends) will likely be able to cue you in to the overall look she's after. Once you know that, reputable jewelers with GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGSL (American Gem Society Laboratory) certifications will be able to help you with the infamous “4 C's” and find you the best option within your budget.

 

So on to what will matter most to her:

 

·      The metal

The most common metals in fine jewelry are currently yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and platinum. Each has different benefits, but largely they will all hold up over time, so it’s primarily a choice of color. An easy way to choose without giving yourself away is to watch what she typically wears.

 

·      The Stone

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But emeralds, pearls, sapphires, morganite, and a few other precious gems are making a comeback. You might look into her birthstone for a start—or perhaps her favorite color. As always, do your research and make sure the gem you’re looking into doesn’t have severe inclusions or a low rank on the Moh’s hardness scale.  

 

·      The Size

When she says big, she isn't necessarily talking about the carat weight, though that is related. Each carat weight has various diameters, depending on the depth and the cut of the stone. It is possible to get a larger diamond diameter without sacrificing your savings. As mentioned later, halos and multi-stone settings can also aid in the appearance of size.

 

·      The Shape

Deceivingly, the cut of a stone and the shape of a stone are not the same thing. While cut refers to how the diamond is crafted (and how it will reflect the light), the shape is a little more basic. 

Common shapes are round, princess (square), marquise (eye shaped), pear, emerald (rectangle), cushion (rounded square), and asscher.

 

·      The Setting

The setting is where the gemstone actually sits on the ring, and there are a variety of settings to choose from. Most traditional are the prong, cathedral, bezel, and tension settings. Each one can customize and create a unique look—even for simple solitaire styles. But for added emphasis, you can get twisted settings, halos, and multi-gem settings which can increase the appearance of the central stone’s size.

 

·      The Band

Typically when people talk about bands, they are referring to wedding bands, but the engagement ring has a band too. They can be thin or thick, twisted, encrusted with jewels, or vintage—and everything in between. There are as many options as there are women, but having a basic idea of whether she wants added sparkle or the pop of a tiny band against a single stone will help you sort through your options faster.

 

Article sponsored by Touch of Love.

 

 

By Sheena Gregg

 

In my mind, everybody’s got a little bit of a sweet tooth. Whether its cake, ice cream, pies, or something else, we’ve all got that one sweet treat that we wouldn’t mind having to end a memorable dinner. In Tuscaloosa, desserts are as much of a bragging right as barbecue. So if you’re visiting us to see the Tide roll, take note of these delectable treats!

That Cheesecake by Tammy Smith, Southern Ale House 
Just as the name indicates, That Cheesecake by Tammy Smith has people all over town talking. Currently available on the dessert menu at Southern Ale House and at the Tuscaloosa River Market sold by Ms. Tammy herself, this white chocolate cheesecake will remind you how perfect desserts can really be.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding, DePalma’s Italian Café
The white chocolate bread pudding at DePalma’s is a Tuscaloosa classic. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, seriously. Rich, warm flavors with the savory sweetness of white chocolate and drizzled chocolate convince diners that bread pudding should be its own food group.

Strawberry Cake, Edgar’s Bakery and Café
Defying all boundaries of amazingness, Edgar’s strawberry cake is legendary. With strawberry-infused cake layers and a rich, refreshing strawberry cream cheese icing, it’s no wonder this cake is known across the state.

Chocolate Soufflé, The Side by Side Restaurant
Calling all chocolate lovers to one of the most perfect desserts in town: Warm, rich chocolate flavors beautifully paired with delectable whipped cream remind us that dessert is always worth the calories. This chocolate soufflé is perfect after dinner or as a treat with a nice hot cup of coffee.

Beet Cremeaux, Epiphany Farm to Table New American Cuisine
If you’re wanting something a little different in your dessert repertoire, Epiphany’s Beet Cremeaux is for you. The earthy flavors of the beet pairs magically with sweetened condensed milk and an espresso-based sauce topped with pistachios.

Dessert Sampler, Cypress Inn
If you’re obsessed with desserts yet on the indecisive side, the Cypress Inn Dessert Sampler has you covered. Peanut butter pie, cheese pie, Mississippi mud cake, and whiskey bread pudding made with savory yeast rolls are a winning combination. Great to share with a sweetie, friends, or enjoy all on your own!

Kozy Kreamer, Kozy’s Restaurant
Proving that an adult beverage can serve as dessert, the Kozy Kreamer is a tasty end to dinner. Made with brandy, Kahlua, crème de cocoa, Bailey’s, and vanilla ice cream, this beverage is probably the most delicious way you can cool off during these hot summer nights.

Photos: Sheena Gregg

 

Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Tourism Veterans.

 

Find them on the web at: http://visittuscaloosa.com

 

By Sheena Gregg

 

Ahhh…tis the season of pumpkin spice in the coffee world! If you’re anything like me, fall brings on cravings for great coffee. In a town that runs on caffeine, Tuscaloosa locals have plenty to choose from in the coffee arena. Here are a few places to put on your radar this season, especially if you’re visiting Tuscaloosa for a weekend Bama game!

Nehemiah’s Coffee House

Since its opening in June 2012, Nehemiah’s has cultivated a sense of community among Forest Lake residents. Patrons will find the atmosphere inviting and cozy while also providing ample space for listening to live music, playing a board game, or sitting down for a cup of joe while reading the morning paper. Serving up Seattle’s Best coffee, I was pleased with the variety of beverages that are available, including the tasty peppermint white mocha that is sure to warm you up and make your taste buds do a happy dance.

Regular monthly events and drink specials can be found at www.facebook.com/nehemiahscoffeehouse and @NehemiahsCoffee on Twitter. Be sure to also check www.flbc.us/Nehemiahs for more information on the history of Nehemiah’s.

 Heritage House Coffee & Tea

Many may know Heritage House as the first coffee house in Tuscaloosa with a history that began over 20 years ago. Now located off of Towncenter Boulevard in Northport, the shop provides ample space for relaxing, studying, or conducting a business meeting in the private conference room. Visitors can agree that the vast variety of flavored coffees offered sets Heritage House apart from others in Tuscaloosa. If coffee isn’t your thing, assorted green, black, and loose leaf teas are offered to relax yourself. My personal Heritage House recommendation is the Toffee Coffee latte that provides a sweet smooth texture with just the right amount of caffeine.

For more information on Heritage House, visit www.facebook.com/HeritageHouseTuscaloosa or www.heritagehousecoffee.com.

Edelweiss German Bakery and Coffee Shop

If you’re in the mood for authentic German breads and pastries, Edelweiss is sure to make you smile. Since 2007, the shop has provided a variety of European specialties to complement the various coffee drinks that are served up each day. If the large display case of pretzels, cakes, and pastries doesn’t catch your eye, classic German sandwiches and dishes will fill you up for breakfast and lunch. My personal favorite is the apple strudel garnished with powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. Edelweiss is located in Temerson Square and open for breakfast and lunch daily.

Photos: Sheena Gregg

 

Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Tourism Black Warrior.

Find them on the web at: http://visittuscaloosa.com

 

 

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By Courtney Corbridge

 

A quick search on the internet can be confusing when it comes to fertilizing in the fall. Better Homes and Gardens claims, “pests and disease problems fade away in the fall. You don't need fertilizer, either. Fertilizer promotes new, tender growth that can be nipped by winter weather; stop fertilizing by late summer.” But This Old House contrastingly says, “Taking the time to fertilize in the fall will strengthen your plants' and lawn's roots, giving them a strong base on which to thrive next spring.”

 

So which is it? Unfortunately the answer is both, and knowing what is right for your specific plant can vary, but here is a general rule to help you as you get your green thumb back this fall.

 

It turns out that fertilizing too early in the fall can bring on new growth that is then stifled by winter frosts. This damages the plants and inhibits them from growing properly in spring. On the other hand, fertilizing in late autumn—when the colored leaves are falling off the trees—actually stimulates plants’ root systems. The roots absorb the nutrients in the soil, prepping them all winter for the spring thaw. In fact, fertilizing in late fall will likely be sufficient for your plants so that you will not need to re-fertilize them in early spring.

 

This being the case, be sure not to over fertilize. Not only will it waste fertilizer, but it can also damage your plants or cause them to produce a bad crop.

 

All in all, fall fertilization is less about immediate growth than it is looking to future growth. Better roots now will mean better foliage later. So fertilize in late summer; then wait to do it again until November.

 

Note: This is a general rule. Certain plants, shrubs, and trees will require different fertilization methods. Double check the needs of your specific plants depending on whether or not they are perennials, summer annuals, or winter annuals. 

 

Article sponsored by State Farm Insurance and First South Farm Credit.

Find State Farm on the web at:  www.statefarm.com

Find First South Farm Credit on the web at:  www.firstsouthfarmcredit.com/home.aspx

By Allison Adams

September. Is it really already here?! With the temps rising to the triple digits in July, I have to say I welcome the end of summer.

 

But isn’t that what the seasons are really about? They provide change for us just in time, bringing much-needed relief from monotony. We can’t help it, we are wired this way, and our super-fast technical lives are making it even more difficult for us to learn to relax.

 

We anticipate and eagerly await summer as she rolls in, the sun and some warm patches heating up our springs, until we are full-blown into the middle of summer. We enjoy a little time at the beach, in a boat on the lake, but then suddenly we find ourselves in a little round plastic tub in desperate search of activities for kids and relief from the heat.

 

Just yesterday I felt a cool breeze on the back side of a pop-up thunderstorm. It was like a touch of fall breeze heaven caressing my face. Well, maybe it was still in the low 90s, but to me, it smelled a bit like fall.

 

Fall is on the way, tempting us just as summer did. You can see it coming in the store displays, as owners scurry about, getting ready for the influx of students. The lake has even been quieter than usual, as everyone squeezes in a last-minute vacation before buckling down to tackle school supply lists and soccer sign ups. You can almost feel the football fever coming across the rocky cliffs that surround the waters’ edge on Lake Tuscaloosa. The thought brings chill bumps to my arms! But for now, let’s make the most of the summer that we have left with the kids. 

 

I find it amusing that even here in the South, we have to work to relax. There are classes on relaxation. We create rooms to help us find our Zen. We drink to take the edge off. We exercise to de-stress. We spend money for counselors who are supposed to help us find our “center.”

 

Why would we “work” to relax when all around us, God has rolled out the best therapy. Relaxation is guaranteed when you stop and immerse yourself in a sunset, walking along the lake’s shore, and then you look over and spot a turtle sliding off a log, enjoying an evening dip. There is no better Zen than to listen to a stream trickle down a hill to the lake below. Paddling in a canoe or kayak can add some vigorous workout to your search for “chi.” 

 

May you embrace the heat and push through. Before long, we will be deep into fall and wishing for some winter winds to get us through ‘til spring. Hey! It’s how we roll!

 

If you’ve been hiding out in the A/C all summer and didn’t realize summer was just about over, you still have time to make those special family summer memories. If you are all out of ideas, no one can resist loading in the truck (we have been known to just go pick up the neighborhood and take them in the RV for ice cream) and heading to Sonic for a cold blast of something. Or try some night bowling in the air conditioning before it is filled once again with college students. After all, right now, we locals still have the run of the place! 

 

Blessings from Lake Tuscaloosa, and Happy End-of-Summer,

 

Allison Adams

 

www.southernscribblings.com

 

Photo: Allison Adams

 

Article sponsored by Interlinc Mortgage Services.

Find them on the web at: www.interlincmortgage.com 

 

 

By Courtney Corbridge

 

When it comes to teens and their financial responsibilities, no two homes will do it the same. And they don't have to. One teenager may benefit from access to a credit card early in order to learn how to be organized, meet deadlines, and be careful with the quick swipe of a card. Another teenager, however, may quickly become trapped by the buy-now, pay-later rationale and establish a pattern for debt. 

 

Parents often decide to give their teens credit cards for emergencies, to teach responsibility, or help them establish credit from an early age. But before you take the leap, here are a few questions to ask before deciding if a credit card is right for the teens and soon-to-be independents in your home.

 

Are you in debt?

Of course kids can learn from our mistakes, but they can also follow them. If you have a habit of overspending or a large collection of credit card debts, it is likely that your child will too. This is yet another case where “do what I say and not what I do” will fall short. 

 

Do your children "nickel and dime themselves to death"?

Aside from mortgages, student loans, and car payments, it's often not the big things that cause college students and teens to go into debt. It's the daily expenditures they forget to keep track of and fail to live without—a pizza here, a concert there. Budgets are broken on the small stuff.

 

Do they already save and budget?

Letting your child save up for a summer trip, a car, or a musical instrument can be good ways to test if your teen is ready for a credit card. If they already have a history of saving their funds and keeping track of them, it’s likely those skills will carry over once they have a plastic card instead of cash.

 

Have you talked to your children about building credit?

College-aged students are more likely to open lots of credit card accounts—one with Target, one with Gap, another with Amazon etc. On many campuses they'll be offered anything from a free T-shirt to a free pizza to apply for credit cards, or at the very least to subscribe to a lifetime of banking junk mail. Teach your kids about the wisdom of only having a few credit cards and paying them off on time. Teach them about building credit, why they will need good credit, and how to maintain good credit. Sit down with them. If they are unwilling to learn about the advantages and repercussions of a credit card, they probably aren’t ready to have one.

 

Have they already had a debit card through a personal checking account?

Many parents find that debit cards are good options for teens who already have jobs. This gives them experience with tracking their money online and through bank statements without giving them the full buying power of a credit card. With joint checking accounts, parents can also transfer funds to them in the case of emergencies. For this phone savvy generation, most banks have apps that teens can download to keep track of their expenditures, and they will often send texts to warn them when their funds get low.

 

Article sponsored by the Lift Fund.

Find them on the web at: http://alabama.liftfund.com

 

The Land of Oz

 

A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.” 

 

If you are anything like me (and bless your soul if you are), you might have looked at the calendar recently and asked yourself, “Hey… where in the heck did summer go?”

 

Technically, it’s still here. But for all intents and purposes, it begins when school lets out and ends when school resumes. Or does it?

 

Whether you have kids or not, there is a direct correlation (especially in the thriving metropolis of Tuscaloosa) as it relates to our living conditions. This includes, but is not limited to: much lighter traffic conditions, no lines, no wait at local eateries, and no dreading the approach to the unavoidable intersection at 15th and McFarland (hurry up with that Krispy Kreme turn lane, will ya?). No matter where you live, you’ve no doubt dealt with this issue.

 

Seasons seem to get shorter every year and unscientifically speaking, maybe it’s because that for a couple of brief months, life gets a little easier to navigate. Literally. Getting from point A to point B is a lot less hectic.

 

But it also may be because of timing. Let’s face it: The last week of May and the first week of August are a wash. If you’re not decompressing from the hustle of spring, you’re prepping for the upcoming hustle in the fall. Some of us never come out of the hustle to begin with, but at least the commute is a little less painful.

 

Eliminate those two weeks, and you have exactly two months remaining. After various sporting camps, and vacation bible school, and finishing baseball, and dodging bacteria in the neighborhood pool, and swim lessons, and reapplying sunscreen, and potentially squeezing in a vacation from which you return and need a vacation… it’s over.

 

In a puff of smoke, the school supply list is staring you in the face and we’re all mulling over preseason football polls.

 

Other school systems perform their summer break dance a little differently simply by altering dates while maintaining the allotment of off time.

 

As an example, certain systems in other necks of other woods shift the grand finale of the academic year until the end of June and then recommence after Labor Day. I’m not sure which is worse. The only sure positive is that statistically, July and August are the hottest months, and at least the kids would return as the weather is beginning to somewhat cool down.

 

Regardless, the summers seemingly continue to get shorter. And if the powers that be eventually shorten the actual break, then by the measurement of the title of this article, enjoy your one week of summer. Time flies when you’re reapplying sunscreen.

  

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.          

 

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica. 

 

 

 

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By Tori Linville

It’s a nationally known fact that the South takes its football seriously. So seriously, in fact, that there’s often that little saying that the four seasons in our neck of the woods are actually Winter, Spring, Summer and Football. No argument there.

 

But it doesn’t stop with Football. It could be argued that there’s another season that’s growing to be pretty big on it’s own. Football’s little brother, Tailgating season, is here and it’s past time for you to secure your spot on an SEC campus for the ultimate pregame experience.

 

Tailgating season means grilling. It means having great times with good friends. It means you need supplies. Most of all, it means business. We’ve listed some tailgating essentials just in case you need help double checking when the time comes.

 

First off, where’s your cooler?

 

 

Whether it’s five gallons or 500, you’re gonna need one. Hydration is key and keeping your drinks on ice is a must. We don’t really need to say much more, but this:

 

Are you wearing comfy shoes?

 

This is mainly a concern if you’re trying to look super put-together. Dress up all you want, but dress down when it comes to the shoes. You’ll be on your feet for a while, so don’t forget it.

 

Where’s your grill?

 

Only one of the most important tailgating tools. Ever. This puppy brings the burgers to your friends and the hot dogs to your kids. Now imagine them minus the food. Hungry. Angry. Hangry.

 

If you’re in the market for a new grill, try out designer Eddie Licitra’s newly designed grill with tailgaters in mind. Foldable, customizable and it’s even able to double as a dolly.

 

 

Don’t forget some of the ingredients that make tailgating great:

 

Hamburgers

Hotdogs

Buns

Condiments

Chips

Drinks

Spatulas

Plastic Plates/Utensils

Trash Bags

Paper Towels

Sunscreen

Hand Sanitizer

Duct Tape

Wet Wipes

Bug Spray

Ice

Charcoal/Propane

Folding Chairs

Music

First Aid Kits

Jumper Cables (because you never know)

 

 

Article sponsored by the Hudson Poole.

Find them on the web at: http://www.hudsonpoole.com

 

Birmingham Post-Herald (BPH) is Birmingham, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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