There’s a certain prototype of male that is portrayed in movies - the adorable slacker. This under-employed guy with the quick wit and the high score on Wii bowling marks the passage of time by how long it takes him to go through a bag of weed. With his happy-to-be-exactly-where-I’m-at attitude and complete lack of ambition, we’re led to believe that this guy has it all – well, except for clean clothes, a girlfriend, a healthy body type, a second towel, access to a vegetable and a checking account.
This slacker guy also exists in real life. My colleague, Matthew DiGirolamo, has cleverly branded this breed of male -- “Back Unit Guy.” He’s the late 20s/early 30s dude who lives in someone’s guest house and spends his unshowered days scouring the Internet for funny cat videos, and, ahem, other provocative entertainment. The real life version of the slacker, however, is not as lovable as his movie counterpart. We all know this guy and none of us wants to date him (for long), hire him, or admit we’re related to him. He’s given up on being a contributing member of society and as long as he’s not hurting anyone, or in need of a clean pair of matching socks, he’s free to be as he is.
Back Unit Guy’s free pass to slack got me wondering two things. Is there an equivalent Back Unit Gal? And if there is, would she be given the same leeway to exist as her male counterpart?
I’ve known women in their late 20s and early 30s who don’t fully have their acts together. They can’t keep a steady job or commit to a meaningful relationship. They make bad decisions. But the one thing these women do have is ambition. They aspire to own furniture that didn’t come from their parents’ house, find a partner in life, and have a career oriented job that allows them to pay their bills and buy a vacuum cleaner. Sure some of them are lazy, but none of these women has accepted this lifestyle as their fate and is willing to live like this for the long run (unlike the Back Unit Guy who has cultivated this way of living on purpose).
Is it because women are caretakers by nature that they have goals and aspirations? Or is it because women simply aren’t allowed to be this way?
From an early age, our subconscious is stimulated by images of petite, physically attractive women. Rarely do you see a woman who is 15 pounds overweight on TV (reality shows exempted), let alone a woman who hasn’t showered in days and has a ketchup stain on her shirt (Britney Spears doesn’t count – that’s a whole other post). But for men, such deficiencies are just part of the "charm" of being a Back Unit Guy.
Are there fewer Back Unit Gals because women hold hygiene in a higher regard? Would we find ourselves simply grossed out by living that way of life? Why is it not acceptable or charming for women to be Back Unit Gals? What do you think?
Ande Dagan is the web producer for The Women's Conference.
Are you one of the average consumers who replaces her cell phone every nine months?
In a world of constant electronic upgrades, we’re generating more than 3.2 million tons of e-waste in the U.S. each year alone, according to the EPA.
But it doesn’t have to be this way -- your e-waste can be reduced, reused, or recycled. Here’s how:
Choose green electronics
In the market to buy a new electronic gadget? Choose one that will generate less waste:
Reuse or sell your e-waste; Don’t let it gather dust
Locate local recycling options
Recycle on the go. Download Earth911’s iPhone app iRecycle, or visit TIA E-cycling Central to find the nearest recycling center accepting select recyclable items – like compact fluorescent light bulbs, computers, phones -- based on your zip code in the U.S.
Join a recycling incentive program
Need a little incentive to recycle, like earning points that you can redeem for stuff? As a member of RecycleBank, you can earn points by participating in a curbside recycling program. The weight of your cart will determine how many points you earn, redeemable from over 1,500 partners such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods, CVS Pharmacy, etc. To date, the material recycled by the households they service has enabled RecycleBank to save cities tens of millions of dollars annually in landfill disposal fees, save over 1.5 million trees, and save millions of gallons of oil.
Participate in manufacturer and retail recycling
The Electronics Takeback Coalition has an online list of manufacturers that have a voluntary takeback program.
Take it from Kermit, who figured out it isn’t so hard to be green after all, “I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful and I think it's what I want to be.”
Reena De Asis is a MarCom professional with experience in the corporate, agency and non-profit sectors. As an enthusiastic, resource-savvy and creative solution leader, she embodies the innovative main character in Amelie. When she's not initiating a corporate volunteer program or organizing a renovation mural project, Reena immerses herself in live music or savoring chocolate nuggets of wisdom. Words to live by: "My life is my message," by Mahatma Gandhi. Her passion is www.laworks.com
More by Reena De Asis: Skip the Staycation: 7 Ways to "Earn" a Real Vacation
More on How to Go Green:
Kim Barnouin on How to Save Your Waistline & the Planet
Debbie Levin's New Tips on How to Clean Green
Save Money (& Your Health) By Going Green by Whitney Lauritsen
Debbie Levin on How to Green Your Holidays
Twenty-year-old Katherine Schwarzenegger, recently returned from a two-week listening and learning tour of Africa with the ONE organization, traveling to Ghana, Senegal, Mozambique and Kenya. In a special series, Katherine will be introducing us to amazing women from around the globe. Her story begins in Africa.
On a very hot day in the beautiful city of Accra, Ghana, I didn’t realize that I was about to have one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
After an hour car ride from the city of Accra, I arrived with members of the ONE organization at Tema Hospital, which is a hospital that ONE's (RED) campaign has helped to finance. The hospital didn’t look much like a hospital at all and the scattered plantation style buildings seemed pretty lifeless. We all piled out of the car and walked over to what turned out to be the pediatric wing. When I walked in, I saw several mothers all sitting down staring at us, their eyes filled with hope and curiosity. I then sat down next to a mother who had her 18 month old daughter on her lap. We began talking to the women, with the help of a translator. One woman that I was particularly intrigued by, told me she had first traveled to Tema Hospital after hearing about it from various people in her village. She heard that people were coming to be tested for HIV/AIDS and getting their babies tested as well. This was not an easy decision for her because of the many rumors about getting tested for AIDS. Women are told that, by getting tested, their husbands will leave them, their babies will be hurt or killed, and they will get AIDS or another deadly disease in the process. When women hear that, why would they want to get tested?
This woman was brave though -- I could tell that the minute I looked her into her eyes. I could feel that she had been through a lot. She told me that she had come to Tema Hospital when she was pregnant with the baby girl who was now patiently sitting on her lap. At that point, she already had three kids and never had the strength to come here and get tested for fear that she would be HIV positive, her world would come to an end and she’d be left hopeless.
But she did come to Tema Hospital as a pregnant woman with her three children. They all got tested. She was thrilled when she found out that her two oldest kids were HIV negative, but saddened when she found out her third child, her son, was HIV positive, as was she. Then she was quickly told that this there was hope for her, her son and her baby on the way. The doctor gave her and her son a pill prescription for six months. And this pill was a life-saver. A few months later, she delivered a healthy and HIV negative baby girl.
Had this woman not been tested and not been given the pill, her son, her baby daughter, and she herself would most likely not have survived. How did this medication become available to her? Through money that the (RED) campaign has raised.
Sitting and talking with this woman and her baby was a surreal experience for me. I felt like I was literally staring at the most amazing success story and the baby, a beautiful miracle.
I’m one of those people who sees a product where the profits go to charity, and immediately buys it as a sort of “feel good purchase.” This is exactly what I had done with all of the (RED) products. Not only was my uncle always harassing me to support his work with (RED), but I knew it was going to a good cause. Little did I know, the $40 sweatshirts and t-shirts I was buying were literally saving lives. Because of everyday people buying (RED) products, these women in Ghana at the Tema Hospital are able to take a pill that keeps them alive so they can live a long and prosperous life as mothers, wives, friends, sisters, and survivors.
So the next time you step into Starbucks, GAP, or the Apple Store, check out the (RED) products and buy one knowing your money changes lives! You can be the person that provides the next woman at the Tema Hospital, with a pill that will keep her and her baby alive.
Katherine Schwarzenegger is a sophomore at the University of Southern California and is majoring in communications with a minor in gender studies. She created VIDA Bags last fall to promote the awareness of maternal mortality and is currently working on a book to be released in the fall on body image. You can follow Katherine Schwarzenegger on Twitter @KSchwarzenegger.
Tax season is about to wrap up, but you can get some savings in just under the wire (lucky procrastinators!) or plan early for next year.
Outside the usual deductions, donations, etc., did you know that becoming eco-friendly will help you save on your taxes? If you did any of the following in 2009 (or plan to this year), you can save yourself some serious dough:
Good luck & have a money-saving tax season!
For more information, visit www.healthyvoyager.com
Carolyn Scott is the executive producer, creator, host and writer of The Healthy Voyager brand. Her web series, radio show, site, blog and social network show you how to live, and travel, healthy & green.
More by Carolyn Scott: Spring Clean Your Kitchen, Your Body Will Thank You
We at The Women's Conference want to honor the importance of art, creativity and poetry in our lives. Because poetry should be appreciated 365 days of the year, we will continue -- beyond April -- to share some of our favorite poems with you. We invite you to share yours as well in our first ever Virtual Poetry Reading.
Post a reading of your favorite poem here!
Poetry fans (including actress Tia Carrere) respond to Maria's request to share their favorite poems. Check out some of the recent readings sent in and click here for a look at more of them.
Carol Muske-Dukes, California's Poet Laureate, has published 13 books -- seven of which are volumes of poetry. Carol writes for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times and blogs for The Huffington Post. Here, Carol shares with us two of her poems; they touch on women, relationships and perception.
By Carol Muske-Dukes
As it appeared in The New Yorker, July 6, 2009
It was the river that made them two—
The mills on one side,
The cathedral on the other.
We watched its swift currents:
If we stared long enough, maybe
It would stop cold and let us
Skate across to the other side.
It never froze in place—though
I once knew a kid, a wild funny
Girl who built a raft from branches
(Which promptly sank a few feet out
From the elbow bend off Dayton’s Bluff),
Who made it seem easy to believe.
We’d tried to break into Carver’s Cave,
Where bootleggers hid their hot stash
Years after the Dakota drew their snakes
And bears on the rock walls and canoed
Inside the caverns. We knew there were
Other openings in the cliffs, mirroring
Those same rock faces on the other shore—
And below them the caves, the subterranean
Pathways underlying the talk and commerce,
The big shot churches, undermining the false
Maidenliness of the convent school from which
My friend was eventually expelled for being
Too smart and standing up for her own smartness.
Too late, I salute you, Katy McNally. I think
That the river returned then to two-sidedness—
An overhung history of bottle-flash and hopelessness.
I see you still—laughing as the lashed sticks
Sank beneath you, laughing as you did
That morning when the river lifted
Its spring shoulders, shrugging off
The winter ice, that thin brittle mirage,
Making you believe
We were all in this together.
By Carol Muske-Dukes
As it appeared in The Atlantic, August 2009
They called me “boy” in Kashmiri,
Because they had no other word for what I
Appeared to them to be. Taller by a half foot,
Gawky in my rolled jeans and cap—they
Chose to look away from my small breasts and
Voice-lilt and rename me in the lexicon of sex.
The shikari—mysterious, wizened, in loose turbans—
Were our guides, up the mountain and through
The wall of white water. They linked arms with us
And waded us through to the high still pools above,
Where we’d cast for trout. They stepped in and out
Of Allah as we climbed, in sun and shade, singing
His name. We were miles above Srinagar and two
Hundred miles from China, and the finned bodies
Were swift under the surface. The shikari pointed:
“Budd gaard-e! Big fish! Then they murmured
Their one word for me, and it was not “sister” or
“Daughter.” I was Naked Face, twenty-seven, a rebel,
I thought. Therefore they made me their oversight.
Had they not looked away from me as they spoke,
Had it been otherwise, they would have heard it,
Above the peaks—the clear unwavering call, a
Command to rip my cap away, to pick up stones.
To separate my face from my face, stripping the
Veil from a hook of air, holding it over my breath till
I gasped like a fish, till I was a pair of eyes on a plate,
That body the world wishes to both savor and destroy.
Not only is Carol Muske-Dukes California's Poet Laureate, she is also the woman behind the "Magic Poetry Bus," a statewide poetry project (with its partner, GET LIT/Words Ignite!) aimed at getting youth involved with poetry. Muske-Dukes is now creating a Magic Poetry Bus Guide -- a handbook to traveling with poetry -- learning poems by heart, “talking to” great poetry in poems of one’s own, and interacting with The Bus online. The goal of the Magic Poetry Bus is to distribute the Guide to all California public schools – first online as a “down-loadable” resource – and then in book form!
Visit the Magic Poetry Bus website at magicpoetrybus.org to find out more about the project and to watch the Get Lit Players recite a poem called “The Shirt” (by Robert Pinsky) by heart and “respond” to the poem in their own words! The Bus is waiting for you – come take a ride!
Learn more about Carol Muske-Dukes' work on her official website.
I didn't start long distance cycling, competition rowing, or mountain climbing until after I was diagnosed with brain cancer. Before that I was living a normal life in Prague as a mom, wife and baker, who exercised to keep reasonably fit. My husband and I moved to Prague when our two children were young, figuring if we didn't do it then, we never would. We lived there for fifteen years, and I opened and ran Bakeshop Praha, which remains a popular landmark for locals and tourists.
My name is Anne Feeley and four years ago I was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and deadly form of brain cancer. In San Francisco this Friday I will kick off a journey cycling with my trainer and friend Gundula and my dog Walter across the USA to raise awareness and funds for brain cancer patient support and research. We are Brains on Bikes.
Last spring while attending the American Brain Tumor Association Path to Progress 5K I realized I had to do something to help. With four years under my belt I am now a longterm survivor, but at events like this I didn't meet anyone alive as long as me. We survivors are too few. The grim survival rate of the most common brain cancer hasn’t changed in over 100 years, and only three new drugs have been approved for brain cancer in 35 years.
I started excercising after I got out of hospital following my brain surgery. I was weak but determined. I am lucky to be able to do this because many brain cancer sufferers have balance and coordination problems. I didn’t. People have said that exercising daily through cancer treatment is remarkable, but I think it is what many mothers would do. I didn’t want my daughters' final memories of me to be of their mother giving up. Besides love, our example is all we really have to give.
Training began for the Brains on Bikes effort last fall when I asked Gundy to join me to cycle across the USA. Happily she said yes, as I thought she would. This event is right up her alley. She has taught me that preparation is key in anything you try to achieve. For the journey we have focused on developing my stamina and staying power (she already has it!). We worked up to 90-minute intense cardio bike sessions, training side by side, which really helped us egg each other on. I trained at least once a week in a hypoxic chamber that mimics the air in higher altitudes. I also learned to use clip on bike shoes.
We are now in San Francisco as I write this, doing the final checks and double checks with Gundy, my husband and our mothers. Training here has been wonderful. Cycling in Sausalito is inspiring because it brings home the amazing beauty of natural America we’ll see. We are so excited to see more of California and our country in the coming weeks.
It’s determination and luck that will get Gundy and me to the finish on July 15 in Washington DC. Please join us online - we'll be providing updates on our blog, Facebook and Twitter. We also have an iPhone app and Flash game available at brainsonbikes.org -- check it all out and help us outsmart brain cancer!
America is in the midst of an economic crisis thanks, in part, to the “profit-at-all-costs”-driven behavior on Wall Street and the less-than-stellar choices made by us, the homeowners. Maybe the stock market is recovering, but most of your wealth may be in your home, not stocks. Whether you’re struggling to figure out how to keep your home or wondering how to make money buying distressed properties, women across the country are realizing the next five years are key to their financial wellbeing.
Your options, opportunities, and financial future may depend on what type of home you live in, what price range your home is in, and where you live. Nationwide, as long as nothing else goes wrong, home values will increase at the rate of 3% a year, but that may take longer in some areas. In others, values will decrease further before turning around.
How the heck do the so-called ‘experts’ know what your house is going to be worth in five years or when it’s the right time to invest in foreclosures? The answer is they don’t know exactly. But because real estate largely follows consistent trends, we’ve developed proven indicator-based methods. Here’s where the secret to your self-empowerment lies: By keeping an eye on these indicators, you can make reliable predictions about your home value and investment opportunities, safeguarding your pocketbook and American Dream.
One such indicator is the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales compiled from Realtor-reported closings across the country. Why should you care how many homes are selling? Easy. Real estate prices – including the value of your own home - hinge on supply and demand -- how many homes are available and how many folks want to buy them. When there are more homes (supply) than buyers (demand), the price goes down until more buyers are willing to step up to the plate, normally because they become enticed by the lowered prices. As home supply gets absorbed by buyer demand, the price of homes goes up again.
National Association of Realtors U.S. Housing Inventory
What you want to see is a steady increase in the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales indicator until the number of home sales is back to where it was in 2003, when the real estate bubble began. At that point you will want to see the Existing Home Sales indicator continue to increase at a slow but steady level comparable to what typically happened each year prior to 2003. At that point, there will be far less risk that your own home value will decrease, and instead, your home will begin appreciating in value again. If you're looking to buy, you'll want to do that before the number of sales and prices go up again. That's precisely why you care about the number of homes selling.
National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Pace
Existing Home Sale information for March will be released on April 22. A key test of whether or not your own home's value has stabilized will be whether or not you see a significant decrease in Existing Home Sales following expiration of the home buyer tax credit in the coming weeks. To check out the NAR Existing Home Sales indicator yourself, simply go to www.realtor.org/research/research/ehsdata.
Shari Olefson, author of "Foreclosure Nation; Mortgaging the American Dream," is a Bar Certified Real Estate attorney, Supreme Court Certified Mediator, and commentator for CNBC, Fox News, and CSPAN. She is a partner at Fowler, White, Boggs, has two teenage daughters, and is a staunch advocate of teaching and preserving the American Dream for all of our children. Follow her on Twitter. Join Foreclosure Nation on Facebook.
Is “having it all” possible? And what does that even mean?
For those of you who responded to our Great March Giveaway question, having it all is not always an option; for some, it’s a myth. But for those of you who believe we can “have it all,” that meaning varies. It can change according to one’s stage in life; it might mean focusing on one thing at a time; it might mean achieving peace of mind; it might be finding oneself and living that truth – or it might simply be love.
Below is The Great March Giveaway winning response, as well as the four honorable mentions. We love their creativity, optimism, realism and wisdom. We hope you do, too.
[NOTE: OUR MARCH WINNER IS UNABLE TO ATTEND; HONORABLE MENTION JULIE V WILL GO IN HER STEAD.]
The Great March Giveaway winning response:
Katherine Schribner, 23 years old
Our response is a compilation of thoughts from six women in our office at George Mark Children’s House. We wanted to give perspective gained from both the optimism of youth and the wisdom acquired from life-experience.
I want it all in a red dress with high heels and diamonds
And dabs of expensive perfume behind my ears
I want it all -
Lab coat and stethoscope for jewelry and a red clown nose to cheer on a little smile
Healing in my hands and heart
And an evening benefit to attend at 8 (what shall I wear?)
I want it all
Kid hand prints on the doors and underneath the light switch
Time to play and run in the field behind our house
That has no stickers
With our dog, Ranger
I want it all
Rosie my maid to pick up the laundry, but I want to do the cooking –
keep it real
I want it all
A writing cubby where I spit out my literary works
That touch peoples lives and change
One wall orange. Just because.
I want it all
A window with a view of mountains and desert and ocean
And always a cool breeze blowing through
And soft music of wind in trees
I want it all
Two rocking chairs on a long front porch where symphonies of nighttime sound
And no mosquitos bite
An grandchildren clamber to hear the good-night story
And calls to come in for dinner ring in the neighborhood
I want it all
Is that so wrong?
Can I have it all? Probably not, but…does wanting make it morose?
Lacey Weiszbrod, 27 years old
As a 27 year old accountant with moxie – yes, we do exist – who got engaged 13 days ago, “having it all” looks a little something like this:
California ladies – Let’s help our sisters / neighbors / BFFs / coworkers shout that HAVING IT ALL IS CERTAINLY NOT A MYTH! Yeehaw…
Olga M. Zamora, early 30s
“Having it all” is real.
It’s not a bad thing, like Ahab chasing Moby Dick bad, because the concept has inspired progress and continues to inspire dreams and goals. The generally accepted definition is one in which women successfully balance a career and a marriage with kids; however, my definition of “having it all” means having such intangibles as freedom, choice and opportunity, which eventually lead to tangibles, like careers, marriage and a firm tush.
Modern-day American women, like me, “have it all.” I enjoy freedom, choices and opportunities previous generations of women did not. I have the ability to define for myself what “having it all” means, as opposed to having a definition imposed on me. This is a testament to the dreams they conceived and the sacrifices they made.
Today, I am grateful and humbled to know that I can vote, marry whom I want to marry (if I want to marry), stay at home and help mold some of tomorrow’s minds, start my own business, or eat a pint of ice cream all by myself. The beauty is that I have the ability to choose the direction of my life, and that is GRAND.
Julie V, 30s
I am a mother of three in my 30's and a Clinical Psychologist. In many ways, I have tried to have it all. Perhaps I have watched one too many Elextrolux commercials, but in spite of Kelly Ripa’s exhortation that I can “be even more amazing,” my life has begun to whisper a different message. Maybe as women in 2010, it’s time to be slightly “less amazing” by embracing our limits and protecting the things that truly matter. Instead of leading over-full lives marked by colliding commitments and unanticipated costs, I wonder what would happen if we made realistic and honest assessments in life so that at the end of a hard-working day, as our heads hit the pillow, we could relish in a new kind of success. While it may mean that we can’t do everything, it also means that the things we do, we can do well. We can trade the outmoded and generic image of a superwoman for an image of a new woman who honors that small voice inside of her, respects the unique facets of her own life, knows when and how to say “no”, and discovers a whole new world of yeses.
Yesterday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Baja California, Mexico rattled homes all the way north in Los Angeles. It was the third earthquake in Baja California in 24 hours.
In light of the recent earthquake activity – from Haiti to Chile to China to Chicago to Mexico -- it's important to know how to prepare for an earthquake, as well as what to do during and after one hits.
Here are a few resources to help keep you and your family prepared and safe:
Be prepared! It could make all the difference.
April is National Financial Literacy Month.
Bangs too short? Or did the style just look better on the model in the magazine? What do you do? You wait it out, do some trimming and maybe vow to pick a different stylist. So what does a bad haircut have to do with your investment portfolio?
If you’re like most of us, your investments got a nasty haircut in this recent recession. Some of you may have cashed out, others may still have unopened statements…afraid to look at the closing balances. But if there was a game plan, like with our bad haircuts, we could deal with our new reality and become proactive.
Here are 6 questions to ask yourself when you open those statements and actually read them.
1. Which investments had the biggest losses?
Comparing my investments to their benchmarks or their competition, did they do better or worse?
2. Do I have any bonds or do I think they are too staid?
As a rule of thumb, my age should represent the percentage of bonds in my portfolio: if I’m 40, then 40% of my portfolio should be in bonds. Generally, stocks and bonds move in opposite directions: stocks up, bonds down; bonds up, stocks down. Having some of each may give greater balance in more market conditions.
3. Are my stocks diversified?
Do I have large, mid- and small caps? Which are growth and which are value or are they a blend? What sectors do they represent and what percentage of the portfolio: ex. Information technology, healthcare, financials, etc.?
4. What is my risk tolerance?
How much retirement money am I comfortable putting at risk or even losing? Investor behavior tells us that people actually feel the pain of loss about twice as strongly as they feel pleasure from gain. Is my risk tolerance today different than before the recession? When the market was going up, I may have invested riskier than today when I may be feeling more conservative. It’s time to get in touch with the real me now that I’ve experienced both up and down markets. Take a quiz; pick one from this web search.
5. What is my investment objective? From lowest risk to highest:
-- Income with Capital Preservation. I don’t want to lose my money and I need income.
-- Income with Moderate Growth. I need income, but I also want some of my money to grow.
-- Growth with Income. I want both income and growth.
-- Growth. I don’t need income and I am willing to be risky, but I want more conservative growth investments.
-- Aggressive Growth. I’ve got time and don’t need income, but I need my investments to grow and I’m willing to take some risks.
6. Now what do I do? Fix that haircut!
Rebalance my portfolio according to my investment objective and risk tolerance.
Continue to save and add to my investments. In one year, take another risk tolerance quiz and rebalance my investments. Has anything changed? For example, I could have gotten a raise, lost my job or have a child starting college.
Each life transition presents an opportunity to revisit your investment decisions so you can reach your goals. So get past your fear of your finances and move forward with this game plan. Start now. If you have questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
As a financial consultant, Hollis Page Harman empowers women to take charge of their money to realize their hopes and dreams. As the author of Money Sense for Kids Barron’s), she helps families prepare their children for financial independence. Her wit and call to action make her a sought after speaker on financial literacy. Contact her at http://www.kidsfinance.com.
More by Hollis Page Harman: 5 Ways to Become the CFO of Your Finances