Shaking Things Up

Today, the culture of The Reader changes. For going on three years now, I’ve been putting topical posts together for you all daily and, as great as that has been for my brand, from now on, my posts, which will still be up once a day, will not be restricted to any daily topics. They will touch every aspect of professional (and sometimes personal) development from professional dress to social outings to business etiquette to financial literacy to technology. Most posts will be originals but, just as I’ve done before on Trending Thursday, I will be posting some must read articles to help us grow.

That being said, thanks for sticking with me and this new era will indeed be full of fun and growth.


How To Afford A Roommate-Free Apartment (Really)

by Brie Dyas

If you’ve exhausted your patience with roommates (or your parents — no judgment), it might be time to consider the virtues of living alone. The process seems straightforward: Possibly explore the depths of Craigslist, hand over some checks and you’re done. But if you’ve never done the solo move before, you might want to take a moment and do your research before committing to an apartment. We spoke with Krystal Yee of the personal finance blog Give Me Back My Five Bucks and Amy Bohutinsky, CMO of real estate website Zillow via email, for their expert take on achieving a roommate-free life.

Just one note before we reveal their wisdom: This plan isn’t necessarily for those who are in rental markets that could best be described as “insane” or “dream-crushing.” If you happen to be in those markets (San Francisco, New York and D.C. come to mind) and have not yet observed that a giant bag of money is what it takes to live solo, then we admire your optimism.

First: You need enough savings.


The monthly rent is the tip of the (expensive) iceberg. Moving costs, rental fees, security deposits, set-up fees and other expenses should be covered. At minimum, Bohutinsky says, “A good rule of thumb is to have three month’s rent to cover costs such as the first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposits and broker fees.”

Know your credit score.

credit score
Landlords do check your credit score in order to see your record of paying things on time. Yee says, “Having a good credit score can sometimes be the deciding factor when it comes to getting the apartment you really want. A high score will show a landlord that the tenant pays their bills on time, and a low credit score might raise some red flags.” Missing even one payment on a student loan or credit card can have a huge effect on your credit score. On the bright side, you don’t have to pay for your report — everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year. “Being aware of where you stand by obtaining your (free) credit report once a year from Equifax and Transunion will help you stay on top of your financial report card – and make sure that your dream apartment doesn’t slip through your fingers,” Yee says.

Ignore the looks and size of the apartment, but don’t forget about these most-overlooked features.

small apartment
There will come a time in your life where you will be able to afford awesome amenities and more space. Right now, however, your priority is shelter over style. Focus on the bottom line. Bohutinsky rattles off a list of potential expenses: Parking fees, storage costs (for those teeny-tiny apartments), pet fees and application fees. Also factor in things like laundromat visits (if your building or apartment doesn’t have a washer and dryer) and if there are non-refundable deposits as outlined in the contract.

Prioritize location over anything else.

outdated apartment
It’s better to be in the tiniest studio in a safe, convenient neighborhood than a luxurious apartment in a neighborhood in which you wouldn’t want to walk around at night or have a ridiculous commute to work. To start your search, Bohutinsky suggests starting with neighborhoods you know you can afford. “Next, look where those neighborhoods are located in proximity to your job and how close they are to amenities such as a grocery store, gym and public transportation,” she says. (Our two cents: The further you are from a decent grocery store, the more you’ll end up spending on takeout.) Any rentals in that sweet spot? Immediately make an appointment to see them. “Finally, if the rental is up to par, take a walk or drive around the neighborhood to see if it is where you want to call home,” Bohutinsky advises.

Choose your landlord wisely.
Look for apartments rented out by smaller property management companies, or individual landlords.
It’s easier to negotiate — especially if you build a history of being a drama-free tenant. “I personally favo[u]red renting from an individual landlord, than going with a property management company,” Yee says. “I found the rent to be cheaper (and sometimes negotiable) with an individual landlord, and often times you can develop a personal relationship with them. It’s helpful to have that sort of support system when you’re on your own for the first time.”

Seriously: Make sure you can afford it.

You might have to live with roommates or your parents for a year before you completely strike out on your own. Yee cautions: “I think in order to live independently (and successfully) you first need to master the art of budgeting. That’s where I completely failed when I moved out on my own. I didn’t make a budget or figure out how much I needed to earn in order to pay for my cost of living.” You can read more on Yee’s experience with moving out too soon on her blog.

It turns out that rent is only part of the affordability equation. Groceries, transportation, furniture, energy bills and even the odd parking ticket factor in. Budgeting websites and apps like Mint and You Need A Budget can help (along with the bottomless treasure chest of wisdom that is the Personal Finance subReddit), but only if you’re willing to be realistic. “Nothing is worse than the feeling of moving everything into a new apartment, only to have your dream of independence crushed when you realize you can’t afford it,” Yee says.

Source: Huffington Post

#TrendingThursday Week 121

You’ve made it through another week.  Just to let you know, this week’s articles will have to get you through this week and next because my wonderful girlfriend and I are headed out of town without computers  and where no work will be done, blogging included (I will reply to emails and can be contacted at  But you’re in luck!  If you follow me on Twitter, you can still see the articles I tweet that I feel are key to (y)our professional development.  But anyway, check out this week’s pieces and share them.  Have a great weekend and, for my NC A&T followers, have a great homecoming.  Next weekend though, #TheRealGHOE begins on the other side of Market Street.

5 Ways To Find Unadvertised Job Postings by Heather Huhman
Too many times we miss job opportunities because they aren’t posted.  So how do you go about getting the position you deserve (and are competent enough to excel in) when you don’t know how to find the job?  Well, you find out how to find it.  And this article is the perfect way to do just that.

Do What You Say + Say What You Do = Success by Chris Baker
Integrity is so important when it comes to your personal brand.  If you say you will do something, do it.  Plain and simple.  This post on LinkedIn is a must read for any young professional who is serious about building a solid reputation.

5 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day by Ryan Larkin
I know I post a lot of lists like this but it’s because different things work for different people.  So take it with a grain of salt and apply what you can to your lifestyle.

Five Essential Items for Every Man’s Closet

When it comes to your clothes, it’s worth investing time and money in key pieces that will last a lifetime.

by Yale Breslin

ONCE UPON A TIME, men’s fashion was simple. A few pairs of jeans, a few good suits and you were set—not just for a season but for years. Talk about the good old days. Today, popping into the shop, or even browsing online (the preferred choice of the shopping cognoscenti), is no small task.

The meteoric expansion of men’s fashion over the past decade has brought a bounty of benefits—men are finally dressing their age and body type, understanding what shapes and silhouettes work best for them, and realizing that less is more—but it has also created one big dilemma: a paralyzing amount of choice. Each season, an ever-growing number of menswear designers add to the list of wardrobe “necessities.” After all, who doesn’t need a gold lamĂ© tracksuit, a scarf the size of a picnic blanket or a hat that looks like something Smokey Bear would wear—and that only one of the world’s biggest rap stars could actually pull off?

This fall, it’s time to get back to basics, sticking to what you know best and are most comfortable in: the classics. Whether you follow every trend with the consuming passion of a teenage crush or still bum around in the same Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt you wore at uni, when it comes to your wardrobe, it’s worth investing both time and money into a few key items that will, with proper care, last a lifetime.


A common thread that wove its way through the men’s fall collections was the camel coat. Little wonder. This longtime closet staple is about as easy as they come. Sharp and simple, it looks good on just about everyone, from Prince Charles to Kanye West.

If you don’t already have a vintage coat you can resurrect or are simply looking for a quick way to update your look, you’re in luck. This season, almost every menswear designer out there put their own unique spin on this most classic of coats.

Marc Jacobs ’s classical interpretation comes in ultra-soft baby alpaca and wool (£1,310; ), while Marni’s slightly furrier version seems to reference “Where the Wild Things Are” (£1,170; +44 (0)245 9520). Perfect for the urban jungle. Ralph Lauren styled his like a trench, with a tonal belt (£1,195; ), while AMI’s Alexandre Mattiussi created a modern classic with his double-breasted version (€580; ) and Burberry updated its Chesterfield in a luxurious double cashmere blend (€3,095;, for an easy transitional piece that will take you from the nip of autumn through the chill of winter.


The blazer isn’t just the most classic item a guy can own, it’s the most necessary. Season after season, it dominates the runways—not to mention the boardrooms. But it can also be the piece that’s least likely to succeed in your closet. One of the most common mistakes men make is wearing a blazer that doesn’t fit. You know the ones: The shoulders are too bold, the sleeves too short and the hemline goes way further than it ever should.

This fall, the blazer is shrinking and it’s time to get on board. Emporio Armani gives you exactly what you want—a black cashmere jacket that masters fit, proportion and comfort (€1,500; ). Playing with subtle texture, Fendi’s navy flecked-wool version is a keeper (€875; ), while Jil Sander shakes things up with a midnight-blue version in textured brocade (£1,050; ). But Scott Sternberg ’s cult label, Band of Outsiders, trumps them all with a youthful tuxedo blazer with sharp lapels ($2,200; ). Dress it up with a fitted chambray shirt and your favorite tie, or dress it down with your favorite jeans and Chelsea boots. You’ll look debonair regardless of your direction.


It’s not the easiest thing, finding the perfect pair of slim-cut black jeans. Fit, as we all know by now, is key. Add to that the challenge of buying denim that can make the transition from day to night, while still maintaining that masculine feel, and it may feel hopeless.

But this season, designers have eliminated the excess—so say goodbye to zippers, extra pockets, patches, fades, rips and tears. Jeans are being streamlined, tailored to the idea of “what a guy really wants.”

Who did it best? Levi’s is a tried-and-true brand whose authenticity still reigns supreme in the denim marketplace. Try the 510 skinny fit (€99; ). For a more rock ’n’ roll edge, you won’t find a better way to channel Jagger than to put on a pair of Saint Laurent’s Hem jeans (€290; ). J.Crew, meanwhile, under the design direction of Frank Muytjens, can be relied on for a solid pair that won’t break the bank (€113; ).

There’s also a new kid on the block that looks likely to dominate the denim space, and that’s Frame Denim. The London-based brand, which has already managed to get the girls’ attention with its hip-hugging styles, is tackling the guys’ market with its L’Homme Noir Slim-Fit, recently unveiled on Mr Porter (€228; ). Long and lean but with room to move—it’s as if they read your mind.


White or gray. When it comes to a solid crew-neck T-shirt, these are the colors that should dominate your drawer. The classic, clean silhouettes seen in other sectors of fall fashion should also be applied to this wardrobe staple.

Yet for such a simple item, many get it wrong. The hemline should sit just below your waist, the shape should err on the fitted side and the sleeves should fall somewhere between the middle of your shoulder and the elbow. Easy in definition, difficult in practice.

Fruit of the Loom is a guaranteed success—who doesn’t love a three-pack (£11 for a three-pack; )? The award for the most bang for your buck goes to Gap, whose white and gray essential tees stand the test of time without fading (€10; ).

If you’re looking to go more upscale, T by Alexander Wang has a version in solid heather gray (€105; ), while ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo ’s sophisticated T-shirts are worth everyone’s investment (€63; ).

Roll the sleeves up slightly if you’re feeling playful. If James Dean did it, so can you. Just be sure to keep it subtle.


When it comes to footwear this fall, be bold and buckle up! The most advanced of all dress shoes, the monk strap, is making a comeback. Gone are the days of pairing your “fancy” monk straps with a suit. Instead, treat them like the rest of your kicks—wear them every day. Try Bottega Veneta’s double-strap boot (€850; ), or Dolce & Gabbana’s single-strap version with bold silver hardware (€475; ). For the fashion-forward, Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane blurred the line between a creeper (another runway favorite) and a monk strap—creating a covetable mashup (from €695; ). Or play it safe with Saint Laurent’s simple Université 30 (€595; )

THE GUIDE // Three Style Icons

You’ve got role models to help guide you in life and business—why not in style? Start your sartorial lessons on the silver screen, where the likes of Eddie Redmayne, James Dean and Ryan Gosling provide fashion choices to match their acting skills and good looks. They’ve each taken risks, but always erring on the side of a classic sensibility.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

14 Hidden Tricks and Tools in iOS 8

by Samantha Murphy Kelly

Some of the best new features on iOS 8 are the ones you probably haven’t used yet. That’s because Apple has hidden a collection of new tricks and tools deep into its new mobile operating system, and many aren’t easy to find.

From ways to keep photos private to credit card scanners and a timed camera feature for selfies, here’s a look at some of the best kept secrets in iOS 8:

1. Hide Photos

Hide Photos


There’s a neat feature that hides your photos without deleting them. Tap and hold a photo in the Photos app and an option to “hide” will surface. You’ll be able to remove it from Collections, Moments and Years and keep it in the Hidden album. No one needs to know how many pictures of your cat you take on a daily basis.

2. Mute Texts

iOS 8 gives you the option to mute alerts for text-message notifications from specific people. By choosing “Do Not Disturb” under “Details” in a conversation, it makes messages you don’t want others to see a little more inconspicuous. While this feature might be even better if it hides messages from the home screen all together, at least there’s a way to keep the volume down if you’re expecting an onset of texts from a certain someone throughout the day.

3. More Text Control



There’s a lot more you can do with the texts you send and receive with iOS 8, including deleting them one by one. By highlighting a text message, an option for More will pop up — from there, you’ll be able to forward it along to someone else or tap to erase individual messages.

4. Credit Card Scanner

Credit Card

When you’re making a purchase via the Safari browser, you’ll be shown an option to Scan Credit Card, rather than having to manually type in details. The feature automatically appears above the keyboard. After selecting it, hold your credit card up to the field of frame (highlighted by the camera) and it will securely capture the information for you.

5. Dark Mode

For those who want to give the device a vintage flare, visit General > Accessibility and turn on the Grayscale mode. Everything from the home screen to apps and email will be displayed in black and white.

6. Interactive Notifications

Interactive Notifications


You no longer have to stop what you’re doing to respond to texts, email, calendar invitations, reminders and messages. A notification banner appears on top of the top of the screen and you can pull it down to respond. In fact, it’s easily one of the best new touches of iOS 8.

7. Medical ID

Medical ID


The new Health app has a Medical ID that can be accessed via the lock screen that lets anyone access your emergency contact information in case of, well, an emergency.

Medical ID


This means anyone that needs immediate access to your health information (or who they should call) can do so even if they don’t know your phone’s passcode.

8. Timed Selfies



Apple added a timer to its Camera app, allowing you either 3 or 10 seconds to get the shot exactly how you want it. You can also prop up the device before setting the timer, so you don’t even need your hands to take a picture. Open the Camera app to take a picture, select the clock icon and set the timer. You can also use the timer with Burst Mode, which snaps a bunch at shots and you’ll have plenty to pick from.

9. Update Keyboard Cycle

If you have downloaded a keyboard app from a third-party provider, you can program it directly to your master keyboard settings instead of opting to use it every time by tapping the Globe icon. Instead, change your default keyboard and the order in which you cycle through your keyboards via Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards and tap Edit.

10. Bring Back Deleted PhotosDeleted Photos

If you’ve accidentally deleted a photo, it’s possible to bring it back: there’s a new Recently Deleted album in the Photo app that stores deleted pictures for up to 30 days before they disappear for good.

11. Email Response Notifications

If you’re expecting an important response to an email, you can set up it up to alert you when it rolls in. Visit your inbox, swipe an email to the left, select More > Notify Me to get alerts when anyone responds to the email thread.

12. Manage Apple ID

You no longer have to go through iTunes or the Apple App Store to manage your Apple ID account, such as adding people to family sharing plan, add credit cards or update passwords. Now, head over to Settings > iCloud and log into your account by touching your email address highlighted at the top of the screen.

13. Battery Usage

Battery Usage


While the battery monitoring feature has been widely reported at this point, it’s with good reason: the tool gives a percentage breakdown of what apps are killing your battery life most. To identify which apps you should close when not in use, visit General > Usage > Battery Usage. This small step could add a few hours of extra battery life to your day.

14. Multitasking With Email Drafts



If you’re in the middle of an email, but want to go back to reading your inbox, you can hold the top of the message and drag down (but don’t put your finger too high on the screen or the notifications tab will appear). You can do this with multiple drafts, too. Double tap the minimized draft at the bottom to see all of them at once — this makes them appear in a carousel view, similar to how it looks with Safari tabs in iOS 8 — and proceed to open or delete them with taps and swipes.

Source: Mashable

Reap What You Sow

I was always told that “trouble don’t last always.”  I used to wonder if that was true.  But it has to be.  Nothing, good nor bad, lasts forever.  But, if you keep doing good, good will come of it.  It has to.  And it may not come to you right now but isn’t there great joy in knowing that your family is taken care of?  Knowing that your wife and kids and parents won’t ever have to wonder where their meals or medicines are coming from is probably the greatest motivation I have to do right, second only to getting to heaven.

So keep fighting the good fight.  Do the right thing and you will get through troublesome times.  Don’t believe me?  What do you have to lose by trying?


When a Relative Dies and You Can’t Afford the Funeral

No matter one’s age, race, background, or economic status, death is an inevitable part of life, right?  So why don’t we plan for it accordingly?  Whether preparing a will, securing a life insurance policy, or communicating your wishes to loved ones, you need to always be setting your family up to have as little to figure out as possible at the time of your demise.  Thankfully my father had a life insurance policy and, when he passed three years ago, all funeral costs were taken care of.  But, had he not, my family would’ve been in a tight bind because there weren’t thousands of dollars we could pull from to pay for a service.  In the unfortunate case that you ever end up dealing with the passing of a family member who didn’t have their affairs in order, this article is a great starting point for dealing with the financial burdens associated with transitioning from this life to the next. 

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away this month, he left behind a huge legacy – and a huge financial fortune too. Since Jobs was one of the richest men in America, his family undoubtedly had no problem paying for his funeral and putting Jobs to rest.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case with many other Americans. It’s a sad reality that many families and individuals have to deal with, but the truth is that when many people pass away, their family members or close friends struggle to afford the funeral.

Knowing what to do when you can’t afford to bury a relative can help to relieve some of the stress and heartache of this difficult time.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the national average cost of a funeral with a vault was $7,775 in 2010. The cost of a burial without the casket was about $4,265 that same year. For many grieving families, paying thousands of dollars to bury a relative just isn’t economically feasible.

If a loved one passes away and the burial and funeral costs are out of your budget, here’s what you need to do:

Analyze the individual’s life insurance policy

Determine whether some or all of the burial and funeral costs are covered under the deceased’s life insurance policy. Talk to an agent in person or over the phone to go over all of the details, limitations and stipulations associated with the policy so that you understand what is and isn’t covered. You may find that a good percentage of the funeral costs are already covered based on life insurance the individual had on the job or a life insurance policy they bought on their own.

Review low-cost burial options

Cremating someone is usually less expensive than burying the individual in a casket or vault. If your state doesn’t require embalming the body, consider a “green burial” where you don’t have to pay for a vault, headstone or expensive caskets. You can also shop around to find an affordable casket online.

Consider getting a loan

If you have good credit and are comfortable with taking on a personal loan, consider applying for financing from a local bank or credit union in order to pay for the burial. Avoid taking out a cash advance on a credit card because you’ll be responsible for paying very high interest charges and could end up carrying that debt for several months, even years.

Ask other family members to chip in

You may not have to shoulder the responsibility of paying for the burial all by yourself. Consider asking family members to pitch in and help with the costs. Be specific and candid with relatives about how much the funeral costs; ask everyone involved how much they can reasonably contribute; and put together a cost sheet or budget to help you keep track of all of expenses.

Talk to your county coroner’s office

If you simply can’t come up with the money to pay for cremation or burial costs, you can sign a release form with your county coroner’s office that says you can’t afford to bury the family member. If you sign the release, the county and state will pitch in to either bury or cremate the body. The county may also offer you the option to claim the ashes for a fee. But if these also go unclaimed, they will bury the ashes in a common grave alongside other unclaimed ashes.

Obviously, when a person dies it’s a terribly emotional time for that individual’s family members and friends. But it needn’t cause financial turmoil too.

You can do yourself and those you care about a favor by planning ahead and making sure you at least set aside money or have enough life insurance to cover your own burial costs in the event of your unexpected death.

Source: Black Enterprise