4 Home Improvement Ideas

Whether you’re thinking about a bathroom update, kitchen overhaul or any other type of home improvement project, these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and eLivingtoday.com can help you get started.

Create a Plan

Improving your home can be one of the most exciting projects to undertake. Start by setting realistic expectations, determining your goals and needs, finding inspiration and, perhaps most importantly, setting a budget.

Renovate the Bathroom

You can improve your home’s usability and increase its value with bathroom updates or a full renovation. Before you get started, think about these factors: the amount of space and storage you need, features that are important to you, sustainability concerns and accessibility considerations.

Update the Kitchen

The kitchen serves as command-central for most homes, and you can get the most enjoyment out of yours by making purposeful changes, reconsidering the physical space, re-evaluating your shopping style and choosing appliances with care.

Start a Remodel

If it’s time for a serious undertaking, a full-blown remodel may be necessary (or simply desired). Remodeling typically calls for hiring a professional contractor, a process you can go about by gathering local recommendations, asking for licensing and insurance, checking references and comparing bids.

Find more home improvement ideas and solutions at remodelingdoneright.com and eLivingtoday.com. (Family Features)

National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Two Homes for the Holidays . . . and How Divorce Affects Your Children

Written by Hara Wachholder

At the young age of two, I became quite the traveler. Well . . . not in the way you might think. I did not have extra miles sitting on a card to travel around the country. My traveling consisted of venturing several times a month between two cities about twenty minutes apart. What sounds like an easy trip between neighboring towns felt like a journey that never seemed to end.

I am the adult daughter of divorced parents. While I now have the ability to decide who to visit, I was not given this privilege until the age of seventeen or eighteen. Instead, I would bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball between my parents’ homes for over fifteen years. Just as I would start to get comfortable somewhere, I would have to pack my bag and start all over again.

I am not going to sugar-coat this. Being the child of divorced parents can be traumatizing. Parents ted to argue over who will get to have their child for birthdays and holidays as well as for spring, summer, and winter break. Plus, there is the issue of different parenting styles and different rules in each of the households. Children are often caught in the middle witnessing the arguments or at least sensing the tension if they are not directly involved. Trust me when I say that children know a lot more than they may let on. On a personal note, I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I chose to continue to shuffle back and forth between my parents without speaking up for myself. There are many children out there that have also selected this path.

This is why I have chosen to share my perspective as a child of divorce. There are so many thoughts and feelings that swirl through the mind and heart of a child. No child can prepare themselves for what is to come, and this is my point to all of the divorcing or divorced parents out there. Yes, I know you are hurting; however, you still have the crucial job of raising your children and supporting them before, during, and after this difficult process. We, the children of divorced or divorcing parents, often feel like collateral damage, a pawn being dangled or a prize to be won.

I want you to think about this as you put together a structured plan for your children or begin the very overwhelming process of fighting for custody. This is a huge transition and not an easy one. This is not about maintaining control or “winning” in the outcome. This is about taking the time to understand the needs and concerns of your children.

During the holiday season, there can be added pressures. For instance, parents may feel it is necessary to create the illusion that everything is “picture perfect” and are waiting until after the holidays to drop the bomb of the divorce. There might be some parents who choose to try to keep everything the same, including past holiday traditions to avoid upsetting anyone. There are also the parents who feel that they have to overcompensate now that they are alone. Or we have the parents that want to compete with their former spouse to provide the children with better gifts or more exciting holiday plans like a week-long cruise to the Caribbean.

Of course, in the eyes of a child, the thought of double the gifts can be quite appealing. However, double the gifts does not mean that it will cancel out the fact that their lives are changing. If, as you are reading this article, you realize that you have been guilty of the aforementioned examples, it is important to remember that the holiday season would be a great time to establish new traditions that meet the needs of your new family dynamic as well as focus on creating a more positive environment for yourself and your children.  That would be a very meaningful gift to give this year. As the saying goes, “Stay in your lane!” Focus on your relationship with your child and make new memories rather than making this a competition.

Speaking of holiday gifts, I have the pleasure of announcing the release of my new book. My Parents Are Getting a Divorce . . . I Wonder What Will Happen to Me is an interactive discussion book written by yours truly and my mother, Karen Kaye. As a mother-daughter team of therapists with personal and professional experience with divorce, we wanted to provide a bridge of understanding between parents and their children. Our book creates a safe space for children to share their innermost thoughts and feelings while also teaching healthy coping skills for children to empower themselves during a chaotic and confusing time in their lives. The goal is to take children out of the middle and provide them with a voice as well as the tools that will allow them to grow into healthy, balanced individuals.

For more information or to purchase my labor of love, visit www.imstillmebook.com.

Hara Wachholder

Hara Wachholder

Hara Wachholder, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor with the State of Florida and received her master’s degree in counseling from Nova Southeastern University. It was after the resolution of the long-winded custody battle between her parents that Hara recognized her calling to help others going through the same struggle. Hara Wachholder is currently the clinical director for a family therapy center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

How to Afford the Car of Your Dreams in 2020

What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2020? Are you going to live a healthier lifestyle? Or maybe you’re going to re-do your financial plan and put more money in your savings account. But you could also do the opposite—you could shell out cash on your dream car.

Now that the roaring twenties is back, there’s no better time to bring your dream car to your driveway. It might be easier than you think to hop in the driver’s seat of your most-desired vehicle, even if you’re on a low budget. Follow these tips and learn how you can afford the car of your dreams in 2020.

Shop for a Car Loan

Unless you’ve got a substantial amount of money saved up, you probably won’t be able to afford your dream car without an auto loan. The quality of your auto loan depends mostly on how high your down payment is. A high down payment will give you a more favorable interest rate, while a low down payment will probably result in a higher interest rate. You always want to get an auto loan that has the lowest possible interest rate.

To find the best auto loan, shop loans at different banking institutions, and don’t forget to look into a credit union auto loan—credit unions typically offer better terms and rates. Whenever you make inquiries about getting an auto loan (called a “credit inquiry”), your credit may drop by a few points. Make sure that you make all loan inquiries within a 2-week span so your loan shopping will only be counted as a single inquiry.

If you’re going to buy a new car, you might want to consider dealer financing. Remember, dealerships are soon going to be stocked with lots of 2020 vehicles, which means that they’re going to give huge discounts and finance specials on brand-new 2019 vehicles. You have an opportunity to save big on a new car in the early months of 2020.

Buy a Used Car

If you can’t afford your dream car brand-new, you could buy it used instead. In fact, you might have to buy your dream car used if your dream car is a vintage vehicle.

It’s important to remember that a 2017 or 2019 vehicle will have many of the same driving components and amenities as the 2019 or 2020 version, so you won’t be downgrading very much, if at all. And if you seek a vehicle that’s only a few years old, it’s probably not going to have logged very many miles.

Always remember to do a pre purchase inspection on the used car before you buy it. An auto mechanic will be able to tell you if there’s any hidden damage that could seriously affect the safety, comfort, and functionality of the car.

Lease a Car

A car lease is one of the best ways to bring home your dream car in 2020, while only paying a fraction of the cost for it. It works just like an apartment lease—you lease a brand-new vehicle for a predetermined amount of time (usually 1-3 years), and you pay by the month. When your lease expires, you can re-lease a newer vehicle, or you can purchase the vehicle outright. The only catch with a car lease is that you can only drive a minimal number of miles each year.


If you’re going to bring home your dream car in 2020, you may need to put more money in your pocket. One of the best ways to do this is to downsize your lifestyle—in other words, cut your expenses by a wide margin. There are a few different ways you can do this:

  • Live with roommates so rent and utilities are less expensive
  • Cook food at home instead of eating out
  • Do calisthenics exercises at home and cut your gym membership
  • Cut any expenses that aren’t absolutely necessary to your lifestyle

If you’re able to cut all those excess expenses from your budget, you’ll have much more money to make a down payment on an auto loan or to pay your loan and lease payments.

Make More Money

Last, but not least, you can make your dream vehicle more affordable by boosting your income. For lots of people, this is going to be the most practical way to make their dream car their real car, but it’s also the most difficult to do. Here are several ways you can develop a passive income:

  • Invest in the stock and bonds market (also a great way to save for retirement)
  • Invest in real estate
  • Start a side hustle—there are lots of different ways to make money in your spare time; this is the “gig economy,” after all
  • Sell anything you don’t need, like old belongings or even your old vehicle

These passive income strategies will also help you keep your finances fresh throughout the year.

The car that you fantasize about doesn’t have to be a far-off dream! If you follow these tips, you can bring home your dream car in 2020 without completely breaking the bank.

Maximizing Family Time

5 tips for spending more time with loved ones

Now as much as ever, close family ties can make a significant impact on young lives. Constantly emerging technology sometimes limits personal interaction, while many school-age children experience unprecedented stress levels.

Building strong connections with trusted adults can give kids a sense of security and a better foundation for achieving their potential. Make spending time together a priority with these engaging activity ideas that allow the whole family to get in on the fun.

Plan a Movie or Game Night

Kids thrive on routines and clear expectations, so a regular special event like a movie or game night can give them something to anticipate each week. Watching TV at home may not be a novelty, but you can make it an occasion to celebrate by adding special touches like dimming the lights to mimic a theater, pulling out cozy blankets and preparing popcorn or other treats. If you opt for game night instead, keep the enthusiasm strong week after week by creating long-range tournaments or allowing kids to rotate game selection privileges.

Read Together

Sharing books together not only creates an opportunity for bonding, it’s a way to give your child an academic boost outside the classroom. Studies show that daily reading promotes literacy, helps kids build their vocabulary and improves overall academic achievement. Also, the benefits don’t end with elementary-age children.

Parents can connect with older kids through books that carry important lessons about life and relationships. Reading books individually then coming together to discuss them, similar to a book club, can provide the chance for thoughtful talks about difficult topics. For example, “Regretting You,” from bestselling author Colleen Hoover, explores a tumultuous relationship between a mother and her daughter who must turn to one another when a tragedy shatters their lives. Find more information on the novel at amazon.com.

Cook Meals Together

Eating together is a goal for many families, but preparing meals together takes those benefits even further. Engaging kids in meal preparation creates a sense of cooperation and instills pride for a successful project. It’s also a chance to share family traditions and pass on recipes that have traveled through generations.

Enjoy a Craft Day

Kids need the chance to let their imaginations soar, and arts and crafts projects can provide the perfect outlet for creative expression. An art session may be as simple as enlisting everyone’s help to make decorations for an upcoming event. Another thoughtful way to channel all that creative energy: have little artists make cards to deliver to a local senior or retirement community.

Take a Trip

Discovering new places is an exciting way to create shared memories. A trip need not be costly or even far from home. Even a day trip to explore a new community nearby can provide a natural setting for the whole family to connect and form lifelong memories.

No matter what activity you choose, investing in time together strengthens relationships so kids can flourish with the confidence of a support system behind them. (Family Features)

Amazon Publishing

5 Tips for Protecting Your Outdoor Space in the Offseason

Regardless of the climate you live in, protecting your patio furnishings and accessories during the colder months is crucial to maintaining a beautiful and functional outdoor living space. Protective outdoor covers can help defend against snow, sleet, wind, sun and rain, which can damage your outdoor essentials and cause them to deteriorate over time.

Consider these five ways to help ensure your outdoor space is protected from whatever weather may come your way:

Protect patio pieces – Investing in high-quality covers can help keep your outdoor furniture pieces functional for years. Look for covers that feature durable fabrics and details like adjustable straps and cord-lock closures for a quick, custom-like fit. To keep water from pooling and seeping into cushions and furnishings, use inflatable airbags to elevate covers and help repel rain, snow and debris.

Keep debris out of your AC – Air conditioning units are built to withstand rain and snow, but not to keep out debris or pests. Select a full cover with air vents to reduce inside condensation, as moisture buildup can freeze the condenser coils or create mold, causing damage over time. If you live in a milder climate and your unit is beneath trees, consider a mesh-top cover to protect your air conditioner from falling sticks and leaves.

Safeguard the grill – Whether you’re putting the grill away for the season or gearing up for winter cookouts, be sure to cover your grill when it’s not in use to help prevent rust and damage. Eliminate the hassles commonly associated with grill covers with an option like the Storigami Easy Fold BBQ Grill Cover, which folds twice as fast as standard covers and takes up one-quarter of the space when stored. Featuring looped, easy-to-grip handles and directional guide arrows to simplify the folding process, the collection allows you to continuously cover and uncover your grill whenever you want to fire it up.

Shield firewood from wind and water –If you use wood to heat your home, keep your logs burn-ready by storing them properly. Take time to stack logs neatly for proper airflow at least 20 feet from your house to prevent bugs from getting inside. Use a rack to keep the stack a few inches off the ground to protect the wood from moisture and insects. Then shield logs with a water-resistant cover with air vents that help reduce wind lofting and condensation.

Simplify storage – Streamline seasonal transitions with functional and flexible storage containers. For example, the Classic Accessories Ravenna Deck Box is a weatherproof storage solution for pool toys, gardening tools, cushions and other outdoor items. Available in three sizes, the series combines capacity with durable construction and fade-resistant materials designed to stand up to the great outdoors. These lightweight units can be easily repositioned or taken apart for convenient offseason storage.

Find more ideas for protecting your outdoor equipment at classicaccessories.com. (Family Features)

Classic Accessories

Be Prepared When Natural Disaster Strikes

Emergency situations, especially those that pertain to natural disasters, can be difficult to recover from without proper planning, which is why it’s important to take small steps from the start to help protect your family.

With the change of seasons comes an increased risk of weather-related emergencies. This fall, Clorox has partnered with the American Red Cross to encourage everyone to be “Red Cross Ready.”

Consider these three actionable steps to get your household ready for an emergency:

Prepare a kit: At minimum, you should have an emergency kit assembled with basic supplies. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to evacuate versus remaining in your home, which will affect the amount of supplies you need. A good rule of thumb is a three-day supply if you are evacuating and a two-week supply if you’ll be in your home.

  • Water: Keep one gallon per person, per day
  • Food: Stock up on non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items.
  • Disinfecting bleach: After a natural disaster, water may not be safe to drink. A few drops of an option like Clorox Disinfecting Bleach can be used to make water potable and can also help clean up mold and fungi from a buildup of excess moisture. Always pay close attention to the label to be sure you are following exact dilution instructions.
  • Flashlight (and extra batteries): Having a flashlight ensures that you’re able to navigate in the dark if the electricity goes out. Always keep extra batteries on-hand to power your flashlight and other items you may need.
  • First aid kit: In cases of emergency, first-aid supplies are crucial to help keep family members as safe and healthy as possible. Make sure to stock the kit with things like bandages, gauze and antibiotic creams.
  • Multi-purpose tool: Tools with multiple functions can be used for everything from cutting wire to opening bottles.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items: In addition to disinfecting bleach, it’s important to keep things like moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal cleanliness.

Make a plan: Discuss how to prepare with your family or household members and talk about the best ways you can respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team. Practice as many elements of your plan as possible.

Be informed: As an emergency is unfolding, normal communication systems like phone lines may be damaged or overloaded by call volume. Consider downloading smartphone apps such as the Red Cross Emergency App for customizable weather alerts, the “I’m safe”feature and other resources. It provides instant access to information for handling common first aid emergencies. You can also get trained in first aid and CPR so you’ll know what to do in case emergency help is delayed.

After a natural disaster, a safe and healthy recovery is key. Listen to local authorities and take safety precautions in case of storm aftershocks. Only use cellular or landline phones to report life-threatening conditions, keeping lines open for emergency responders. Return to your home only when authorities advise it’s safe to do so, making sure to also have photo identification to prove residency.

Learn more at clorox.com/redcrossready. (Family Features)


Welcome to the 4th Anniversary Edition of Teen InFluential!

Happy 4th Anniversary to our multi-award winning sister publication dedicated to our teen audience, Teen InFluential!

The 4th Anniversary edition features the talented Penelope Robin on the cover complemented by an Exclusive Interview with Penelope which we’re eager for you to read.

TEEN YO.indd

Thank you, our readers, for the consistent support you give to each of our multi-award winning publications.  We hope we’ve continued to inform and inspire!

Visit our InFluential Magazine Family’s official page at www.influential-magazine.com.