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7 Easter Dessert Recipes So Brunch Isn't Just Eggs and Waffles

When springtime hits, we hit the Easter candy aisles. We don't know about you, but we can't go without a few Cadbury Eggs (or five) and those chocolaty Mini-Eggs in purple packaging. But then it's time to get back to our we-want-to-feel-good-in-a-tank-top-this-summer #goals. And for us, that still includes dessert, just healthier than the usual. Whether you're planning an Easter brunch or a big ol’ picnic to celebrate that fact that winter is almost over and summer is soclosewecantasteit, these healthier Easter desserts make it a little easier to avoid the basket of jelly beans.

1. Ultimate Healthy Carrot Cake Carrot cake is a dessert classic, but with tons of cream cheese, butter, and sugar, it can feel pretty heavy. This recipe uses whole-wheat flour, pure maple syrup, coconut oil, and Greek yogurt to lighten things up, without straying too far from the taste you know and love. 2. Greek Yogurt Fruit Tart Three ingredients plus fresh fruit—what could be easier? This one’s perfect for the inevitable last-minute invite to a friends’ brunch (or if you just don’t feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen). The crust is made from dates and cashews, and gets topped with Greek yogurt and a rainbow of fresh fruit, such as grapes, kiwi, and clementines. It’s as easy way easier than pie. 3. Healthier Hummingbird Cake Pineapple, applesauce, and bananas make this cake super moist, and layers of frosting in-between cakes rather than all over cuts down on sugar while also looking hella fancy. Top with chopped pecans and get ready to impress your fam/in-laws/BFFs. 4. Cake Batter Crispy Treats Pastel colors are kind of a must during spring, so these pink-glazed, sprinkle-covered treats are a win in our book. Plus they’re made with vanilla protein powder and peanut butter instead of oil or butter, and are no-bake. Cha-chinggg! 5. Dairy-Free Coconut Layer Cake Layer cakes can be daunting, and holidays are stressful enough, so this recipe makes things a tad easier with a boxed-mix base. And since it’s gluten-free and dairy-free, it’s great for any guests with allergies or dietary restrictions. Just make sure they’re coconut fans—with coconut milk in the batter and a coconut buttercream frosting, this dessert is big on the sweet, tropical taste. 6. Vegan Black Cherry Trifle This dessert reminds us of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia but is secretly packed with tons of healthy ingredients. The sneaky recipe uses avocado, banana, and dates for the mousse; coconut milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup for the whipped cream; and chopped frozen dark cherries for the last layer.  7. Dairy-Free Crème Brûlée One simple swap—coconut cream instead of heavy cream—gives this crème brûlée a healthy twist, without sacrificing flavor. Just make sure to leave enough time for them to cool and set: Three hours in the fridge is the minimum, but overnight is preferred.

How to Fix the Big Things You Hate About Your Credit Cards

Credit cards may be in the wallets of most Americans, but not everyone is happy with their travel companion.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its monthly snapshot of consumer complaints in the financial services industry this week. The report, which regularly focuses on a different financial product to highlight consumer complaint trends, focused on credit cards and what irks consumers about their plastic friends (or foes, depending on how you view it).

Credit cards represent only about 10% of total complaints to the CFPB, a small amount considering how prevalent the cards are in Americans’ daily routine. That puts them in fourth for the most complained-about financial products, behind debt collection, credit reporting and mortgages.

Here are four of the major credit card complaints that surfaced in the bureau’s review.

1. Disputes Over Fraudulent Charges

Billing disputes were number one on the CFPB’s top credit card complaint list. Of the nearly 100,000 complaints the CFPB analyzed, 17% were over billing disputes. Credit cards often offer purchase protections and chargebacks — tools consumers can use to combat faulty merchandise or high prices — and these tools are rarely offered by debit cards and never offered by cash. But fraud seems to be the source of most complaints, as consumers finding fraudulent charges cite trouble removing or getting re-billed for them.

How to Avoid It: The best way to keep yourself from having to dispute fraudulent charges is to keep your credit card information as safe as possible from fraudsters. Never share your credit card with shady sites that don’t have a “lock” symbol or https:// when taking your data. And even though it’s convenient, avoid letting shopping websites “remember” your credit card info for next time. While some of those sites have excellent security, data breaches are becoming more and more common and credit card info is a literal gold mine for a hacker. (To keep an eye out for signs of identity theft, you can view your free credit report summary on Credit.com.)

2. Rewards Program Murkiness

If you’ve ever owned a rewards credit card, you know that to make the most of your card’s program, you need to read up on all the details (and those details do change). The CFPB found that confusion over how a credit card rewards program works was sometimes attributed to differences between what consumers encountered online and what they were told by customer service representatives over the phone.

How to Avoid It: The CARD Act of 2009 did a lot to make credit cards more consumer-friendly, but little regulation pertained to rewards programs specifically and business credit cards were not included at all in the act’s purview. That means you need to be a careful shopper, as you should be with all financial products — mortgages, business loans, you name it. Before you sign up for a rewards credit card, read the rewards terms carefully — they are often in a separate piece of paperwork from the APR and fee disclosures.

3. Being a Victim of Fraud/Identity Theft

Identity theft/fraud/embezzlement as a category came in third on the CFPB’s list at 10% of all credit card complaints. Many complaints pertained to account activity that the cardholder didn’t initiate, the report said. It points back to that top complaint of fraudulent charges as well — fraud is a problem for consumers as well as credit card issuers too.

How to Avoid It: In addition to keeping your credit card information safe (see tip #1), keep your identifying information safe. To open a new credit card in your name, a fraudster would need to have access to your Social Security number, name, address and other details. Protect that info and you limit your chance of getting got. And because “embezzlement” is included in this category as well, business owners should be sure to have a policy in place if they’re extending a company credit card to an employee. The rules should be clear so you don’t have to go through the painful process of disputing charges with your issuer.

4. Trouble Closing/Canceling an Account

Even though closing a credit card can do some credit score damage, it doesn’t stop consumers who want to avoid the temptation of spending too much or just have too many cards to manage. Roughly 7% of the CFPB’s credit card complaints pertained to consumers struggling to close accounts.

How to Avoid It: Call your issuer directly (you normally have a number on the back of your credit card) and ask to close the account. Be ready though — you’ll most likely be transferred to a department that is specifically going to try to keep you as a customer, perhaps offering a lower APR or a waived annual fee for that year. (Some consumers use this as a tactic to get a better credit card, in fact.) If you’re adamant on closing the card, just stick with your plan and make sure to monitor your email or mail for your last statement. You don’t want to miss the last payment on your card and put a black mark on your credit report just because you thought the card was closed. A credit card with a positive payment history, even though it’s closed, can still help your credit score. But missing a payment will definitely hurt it, and if you have a business credit card, it could impact not just your personal credit, but your business credit scores as well. You can find a full explainer on canceling credit cards right here.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

17 Ways to Save at Lowe's

Whether you’re finishing your basement, fixing a leaky bathroom faucet or trying your hand at built-in bookshelves for your family room, Lowe’s is your one-stop-shop for all things home improvement related. While it can be super-easy to spend a ton of cash there, it’s also just as easy to save. Here’s how.

1. Wait for Things to Go on Sale

If you can, it pays to wait for the bigger items you need to go on sale at the home repair superstore … because they inevitably will. Beginning of the year sales, for example, included up to 40% on bathroom essentials like toilets and sink basins, as well as up to 40% off select custom kitchen cabinets when you spent $3,500 or more.

2. Apply for a Lowe’s Credit Card

If you’ll be shopping here enough and you can pay the credit card off on time (the APR is a variable 26.99%, so this strategy only really works if you can absolutely pay your bill on time), apply for the Lowe’s credit card. New cardholders can pick from between 5% off items every day or six months of special financing with a $299 minimum purchase. Just be sure your credit can handle an inquiry before you apply. You can see where you stand by viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Like to shop around? We’ve got some picks for the best credit cards for shopping here.

3. Shop Their Exclusive One-Day Deals

Be sure to check the site for Lowe’s one-day only deals, which are good for that day only and while supplies last.

4. Peruse Their Shop Savings Section

Lowe’s adds new discounted items every week to their Savings section, and deals generally last for a couple days or, even, up to a few months.

5. Check Out Their Weekly Ad

Search through your local paper or check online for the Lowe’s Weekly Ad for savings on items that generally last through that week only.

6. Take a Look at Clearance Items

Use the clearance section of the site to find even more discounts on items like cleaning supplies, flooring, home décor and more. Some items are up to 75% off, but the deals generally expire, so check back frequently for what you need.

7. Submit for a Rebate

Many Lowe’s products come with rebate offers, especially if they’re energy-efficient products. The store makes it easy to find out which products will save you a little cash — just check out the current rebates section on the site and submit an online application if your product applies. You can check the status of your rebates there, too.

8. Sign Up for Their Email Newsletter

Submit your email for the Lowe’s newsletter to get the weekly ad, exclusive offers and promotions, sneak peaks of upcoming events and more, directly to your inbox.

9. Join Their Garden Club

Sign up for Lowe’s Garden Club and you’ll receive an email every week with special promotions and offers, as well as gardening plans, advice and more.

10. Never Miss a Sale When You Follow Lowe’s on Social Media

Catch all the current deals and promotions by following the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

11. Get a Price Match

Lowe’s guarantees everyday competitive pricing. As such, if you find a competitor offering a lower price on an identical item, bring in the competitor’s current ad and Lowe’s will beat their price by 10%. If a competitor is offering a percent off discount, they’ll match the final net price the competitor is offering.

12. Use Online Price Protection

If you’re already in the store, be sure to check online to see if the item you want is cheaper there before heading to the checkout line. You can shop for your Lowe’s products online to receive the lower of the online store price or the price at your local Lowe’s store. Or, select “store pickup” to order your items online and pick them up in your local store later, thus avoiding the shipping fee —unless you have $49 or more in items, in which case shipping is free.

13. Ask for a Military Discount

If you currently serve in the armed services or are a retired veteran, you and your immediate family receive a 10% discount. Check here for the stipulations.

14. Load Up on Free Services

While it’s not an immediate way to save, taking advantage of all the workshops and personalized services offered at Lowe’s is a great way to ensure you do your project right, which will save you time and money in the long run. Check out a full list of in-store services, including workshops, clinics and other services, on Lowe’s website.

15. Buy Gift Cards at a Discount

Shop sites like Gift Card Granny to purchase Lowe’s gift cards at a discounted price.

16. Install a Coupon Aggregator on Your Computer

Never miss another online coupon or savings offer when you install a coupon aggregate collector, like Honey, on your computer. The search engine will automatically look for discounts at your time of online checkout and could score you even more in savings.

17. Ask When a Sidewalk Sale Is Happening

A couple times a year you’ll notice that Lowe’s has a ton of items out on the sidewalk. These items are often on sale big-time, and their sidewalk sale happens a couple times a year, so be sure you don’t miss it.

Making home improvements this year? We’ve also got some ways to save at Home Depot here.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

This Is Not Your Father's 401K: The Retirement Product You Should Know About

Chances are you’re like most Americans and, regardless of your age, you aren’t saving enough for retirement, if you’re actually saving anything at all.

Nearly 40 million U.S. households (45%) have no retirement assets, according to a recent report by the National Institute on Retirement Security, and half of those households are headed by someone aged between 45 and 65. In fact, savings rates are so bad that many Americans are dying with an average of $62,000 in debt.

Even if you are saving enough for retirement, you might still wonder if that money will last your entire lifetime. Defined contribution plans like 401Ks are great at helping employees save for retirement, but they provide no guarantee of income as pensions do. On top of that, most 401Ks are self-directed, meaning those who do a poor job handling their investments could end up with significantly less money than they need in retirement.

But what if you could guarantee yourself income for life, just like ubiquitous company pension plans used to provide (and government pension plans still do)?

Well, you can. Here’s how.

Back in 2014, the Treasury Department started an initiative focused on “putting the pension back” into 401K retirement savings. (Need to brush up on retirement lingo? Here’s a handy guide.) Through loosened restrictions and some tax-law changes, the Treasury made it easier to convert funds from retirement savings into plans known as longevity income annuities, or LIAs, that provide guaranteed lifetime income.

Income for Life

LIAs are deferred annuities and, while they’ve been for a while, they’ve only recently become a part of mainstream retirement planning. The Treasury initiative could even cause them to become an integral part of 401K target funds. Here’s how they work: Say you have $100,000 in retirement savings. At age 65, you use $10,000 of that money to purchase an LIA. “Even in the current low-interest-rate environment, a deferred single-life annuity purchased at age 65 for a male costing $10,000 can generate an annual benefit flow from age 85 onward of $4,830 ($3,866 for a female) per year for life,” a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper concluded.

It’s easy to see how helpful this kind of guaranteed income could be, particularly given larger investment amounts. Of course, it’s a hedge that you’ll live long enough to take advantage of those funds, but some programs provide for reimbursement should you die before accessing all of your money. More on that in a minute.

According to Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of the working paper mentioned above, LIAs are available to investors but are not yet tied to defined-contribution plans.

“There has been discussion about including them in the target-date suite of funds, and some employers are actively looking for options,” she said in an email. “Relatively few insurers have them available as yet.”

“One reason annuities or lifetime income streams are not a standard feature of 401K plans is that many people don’t understand these products,” she wrote in an article for Forbes. “For instance, some older individuals tend to underestimate their chances of living a long time, so they don’t take proper precautions against outliving their assets. Others don’t understand financial concepts, and so they’re reluctant to take unfamiliar financial decisions. After all, retirement is usually a once-in-a-lifetime event!”

Just because they aren’t directly tied to defined-contribution plans just yet doesn’t mean LIAs aren’t easily accessed. AARP, for example, has been offering its Lifetime Income Program through New York Life since 2006. AARP’s plan has a cash refund feature so, as we mentioned earlier, if you die before your payments equal your annuity purchase price, your beneficiary will be paid the difference.

Is an LIA Right for Me?

As with most financial tools, some people will benefit from an LIA more than others. “People in poor health might not want to elect deferred annuities, particularly if they have a poor survival prognosis,” Mitchell said. “Some very wealthy people will not need the LIA as they can self-insure against outliving their assets. Retirees with a (well-funded) defined benefit pension probably don’t need additional annuitization. And people with a very small nest egg might not find it worthwhile to annuitize, say, $10,000. But much of the middle class could benefit.”

In considering LIA plans, Mitchell recommends asking how highly rated the insurer is who provides it. She also suggests knowing how well the state insurance guarantee fund is being run and the maximum amount you’d recover should the insurer go bankrupt. (As you’re planning your retirement, you should also make sure you have a full picture of your finances, including your credit. You can get a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.)

So how much should you consider putting into an LIA? “Older individuals would optimally commit 8% to 15% of their plan balances at age 65 to a LIA, which begins payouts at age 85,” Mitchell, et al, wrote in their working paper.

As for timing, it doesn’t really make sense for someone who isn’t at or near retirement age to purchase an LIA. For one thing, you can’t access your retirement funds without penalty until age 60.

“It makes sense to decide how much to devote to the LIA in your mid-60s, since that gives 20 years over which the annuity value can build up,” so you can begin taking payments at age 85, Mitchell said.

Of course, there are a variety of annuity products to suit different personal needs, such as earlier payout options, so it’s a good idea to speak with a financial professional who can help you decide what product might be best for your financial situation.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

10 Tips to Keep from Overeating at a Party

Temptations abound at parties, but celebration doesn't have to mean overindulgence. Follow these tips to stay on track. Say no the first time to passed hors d'oeuvres. Chances are good that food will come around again. See what's being served before you decide what to eat. Limit your alcohol. Inhibitions are lowered with every drink, and those cocktails aren't calorie free. Alternate alcohol with water or another calorie free drink. And don't combine alcohol with caffeine. Caffeine speeds up the rate at which alcohol is metabolized, and it masks the effect of the alcohol. Eat before you go. Don't go to a party starving. Eat a hard-boiled egg and an apple, a banana with some peanut butter or a slice of turkey. The protein will fill you up for few calories. You'll be less likely to binge if you're not overly hungry. Treat appetizers as a meal. If you're going to eat 400 calories worth of appetizers, know that that's your dinner. Don't expect to go home and eat a "real" meal. Survey the spread before you fill your plate. Confronted by so many rich foods, you might want to start piling up the food, but stop and take a deep breath. Think before you serve yourself (and try to serve yourself, so you control the serving size). Keep track of what you're eating. Don't mindlessly eat, and try not to eat and make conversation at the same time. If your eating and drinking is spread out, you might not realize how many calories you're eating. Just because you're not eating an entire meal doesn't mean that those are free calories. Buddy up. If you're worried about eating too many sweets, share your dessert with someone else. You'll eat less and not do as much damage. Use a smaller plate, or commit to just one round of food. Don't pile your food so high that's it's falling off the plate. Be choosy, and stick to proper serving sizes. Take only those foods you really like, and don't overload on them. Bring a dish, if appropriate. If you bring something healthy, like salsa with vegetables, whole-grain crackers and light dip or a large salad, you know there's at least one option for you at the party. Take small helpings of other dishes and load up on your healthier one.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1355

The Truth about Alcohol and Heart Health

The idea that alcohol may be good for your heart has been around for a while. While moderate drinking may offer health benefits, drinking more can cause a host of health problems. So should you turn to alcohol to protect your heart? Here's what you need to know, from what alcohol can really do, to how much you should drink, to which types of drinks—if any—are healthier than others. Use this information in conjunction with your healthcare provider's advice. Research on Alcohol and Heart Disease In several studies of diverse populations, moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a reduced risk for certain cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease. These studies were observational—not experimental—and therefore had some limitations. However, they showed the need for experimental studies regarding alcohol intake and heart disease. So in 1999, a meta-analysis was conducted on all experimental studies to date to assess the effects of moderate alcohol intake on various health measures (such as HDL "good" cholesterol levels and triglycerides), and other biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease. As research on this topic continued to expand, researchers conducted another systematic review of 63 studies that examined adults without known cardiovascular disease before and after alcohol use. This latest meta-analysis was published in a 2011 issue of the British Medical Journal (get a link to the full report in the Sources section below). The analysis of these numerous studies suggests that moderate alcohol consumption (defined below) helps to protect against heart disease by:

  • Raising HDL "good" cholesterol
  • Increasing apolipoprotein A1, a protein that has a specific role in lipid (fat) metabolism and is a major component of HDL "good" cholesterol
  • Decreasing fibrinogen, a soluble plasma glycoprotein that is a part of blood clot formation
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing plaque accumulation in the arteries
  • Decreasing the clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clots
However, these studies did not show any relationship between moderate alcohol intake and total cholesterol level or LDL "bad" cholesterol. And while some studies associated alcohol intake to increased triglycerides, the most recent analysis of moderate alcohol intake in healthy adults showed no such relationship. What's the Definition of "Moderate" Alcohol Consumption? A moderate alcohol intake is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol and is defined as:
  • 12 fl. oz. of regular beer (5% alcohol)
  • 4-5 fl. oz. of wine (12% alcohol)
  • 1.5 fl. oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
  • 1 fl. oz. of 100-proof distilled spirits (50% alcohol)
Are Certain Types of Alcohol Better Than Others? While a few research studies suggest that wine maybe more beneficial than beer or sprits in the prevention of heart disease, most studies do not support an association between type of alcoholic beverage and the prevention of heart disease. At present time, drinking wine for its antioxidant content to prevent heart disease is an unproven strategy. It still remains unclear whether red wine offers any heart-protecting advantage over white wine or other types of alcoholic beverages. Health Risks of Drinking Too Much While moderate drinking may have some health benefits, heavy or binge drinking can have a toxic effect on your health and your heart. Heavy drinking is the consumption of more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week for women and more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men. Heavy drinking in particular can damage the heart and lead to high blood pressure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy (enlarged and weakened heart), congestive heart failure, and stroke. Heavy drinking puts more fat into the circulation in your body, raising your triglyceride level. It's also associated with an increased risk of cirrhosis of the liver, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and colon, breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes. Binge drinking is the consumption within 2 hours of 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men. Binge drinking is also associated with a wide range of other health and social problems, such as sexually transmitted disease, unintended pregnancy, and violent crimes. Who Should NOT Drink According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the following people should not drink alcohol:
  • Adults who cannot restrict their alcohol drinking to moderate levels, as listed above
  • Anyone who is younger than the legal drinking age
  • Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant
  • Anyone taking a medication (prescription or over-the counter) that can interact with alcohol. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you take and alcohol consumption
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions such as liver disease, hypertriglyderidemia, and pancreatitis. Talk to your doctor regarding your health history and alcohol consumption
  • Individuals who plan to drive, operate machinery or take part in other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination or in situations where impaired judgment could cause injury or death, such as swimming
Conclusion Research indicates that a moderate alcohol intake has been associated with a decreased risk for certain cardiovascular diseases, particularly coronary heart disease. However, health professionals and dietary guidelines suggest that if you don't drink, don't start. There are other, healthier ways to reduce your risk of heart disease like not smoking, eating right, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. To find out if a moderate alcohol intake is appropriate for you, talk to your doctor about your consumption of alcohol, medical history, and any medications you use. Sources American Heart Association. "Alcohol, Wine and Cardiovascular Disease," accessed March 2011. www.americanheart.org. Brien SE, Ronksley PE, Turner BJ, Mukamal KJ, Ghali WA, "Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies," British Medical Journal 2011; 342:d636. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d636. Rimm EB, Williams P, Fosher K, Criqui M, Stampfer MJ, "Moderate alcohol intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of effect on lipids and haemostatic factor," British Medical Journal 1999; 319:1523-8. United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition and Policy Information. "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans," accessed March 2011. www.cnpp.usda.gov.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1622

Foods That Keep You Healthy from Head to Toe

There are many motivations for sticking with a healthy diet. Eating more of the good stuff (and less of the junky stuff) can help you prevent cancer, extend your lifespan, protect your heart and manage your weight. But one thing we don't always remember is that your diet affects not just your weight, but your body from the top down, the inside to the outside. Your body transforms the foods you eat into the cells that make up your hair, nails, skin and bones, along with your brain, heart, blood and joints. You literally are what you eat.   Here are some of the key nutrients that keep your body in tiptop shape from head to toe.   Hair At its staggering growth rate of 0.4 millimeters per day, it takes more than 2 years to grow 12 inches of hair. Add lean meats and beans to your diet to make the most of every millimeter. These foods will also give you zinc to help keep your body in hormone balance and prevent hair loss. B-vitamins from leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and carrots also support cell growth for healthy hair.   Brain Boost your brainpower by noshing on foods with high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) scores—a sign that the food is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Plums, cherries, avocadoes, berries, navel oranges and red grapes top the ORAC charts. (Glance through the alphabetical list for more disease-fighting ratings at oracvalues.com.)   Considering your brain is about 80% water, drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. Essential fatty acids (named "essential" because your body cannot make them) help you grow brain cells and stay sharp, so feed your brain with regular doses of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil.     Eyes Good nutrition can keep your peepers peppy throughout the years. The antioxidants for brain health also help the eyes, but really keep your eye on including foods with lutein and zeazanthin (pronounced zay-a-za-thin). These carotenoids, found in spinach, collard greens and kale, protect the retina from macular degeneration.   Teeth & Bones Everyone knows you need calcium for bone health, but are you getting enough? Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, spinach and soybeans are all good sources of dietary calcium. And calcium doesn't act alone! Its partner-in-crime is vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption. Some fish and eggs provide this key vitamin, but there are not many natural food sources of this bone builder. Instead, vitamin-D is often added to milk, margarine and some breads and cereals.   Joints Put a wiggle in your walk with gelatin and vitamin C. These nutrients are key precursors to collagen, the material that cushions our joints and keeps our tendons and connective tissue strong. Gelatin can be found in powdered supplement form or in your basic Jell-O mix. Boost your vitamin C intake with fruits and veggies, especially strawberries, oranges, pineapple, cauliflower and green peppers.   Heart Soy and flaxseed both pack double punches when it comes to heart protection. Soymilk, edamame, tofu and other soy products are packed with cholesterol-lowering phytochemicals and heart healthy soluble fiber. Flaxseed is also another source of soluble fiber that comes with a side of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Sprinkle some ground flaxseed in your oatmeal or yogurt, or even add it to your favorite baking recipe.   Intestines Protect your gut with probiotics. These powerful little bacteria support the natural environment in your intestine and combat disease-causing microorganisms. You can find yogurt, kefir and milk supplemented with probiotics. They are often under the name L. Acidophilus.   Fiber is also essential to a healthy gut. Whole grains, especially oats and bran, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can help you reach your goal. Getting your daily 20-35 grams of fiber keeps your gut and colon health moving in the right direction.   Skin We'll wrap it all up, literally, with nutrition for the skin. It is important to nourish your body's largest organ. Maintain disease-free and healthy looking skin with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This antioxidant is more powerful than vitamins C and E, and protects your skin cells from damage and many of the elements it's exposed to each day. Get your fair share of ALA with spinach, broccoli and beef. Vitamins C, E, K, and A, as well as B-vitamins are also important for radiant, nourished skin. Enjoying a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you reach the recommended amount of these vitamins.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1669

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

During family gatherings, food temptations are everywhere. From stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to eggnog and sugar cookies in December, to barbecues in the summer, the seasonal temptations are endless. It can be tough enough to navigate the buffet without having your great aunt force an extra helping of potatoes on your plate or resisting Grandma Dolly's pleas that you take a second piece of her famous apple pie. There's always some kind of event going on: birthday parties, family get-togethers, company meetings, bridal and baby showers--and all of these events have one thing in common (besides all the tempting food): food pushers.   Food pushers range from well-intentioned loved ones to total diet saboteurs. Regardless of their motivation, it's important to stick to your guns. You can always be honest and say that you're simply trying to eat healthier, but if that response gets ignored (or doesn't come easily), the following retorts to their food-forcing ways will keep you in control of what goes on your plate and in your mouth!   The Push: "It's my specialty, you have to try it!" Your Response: "I will in a bit!" Why It Works: Stalling is a great tactic with food pushers. Odds are the offender won't follow you around making sure you actually try the dish. If they catch up with you by the end of the party to ask what you thought, tell them that it slipped your mind but you'll be sure to try it next time.   The Push: "This [insert name of high-calorie dish] is my favorite. You'll love it!" Your Response: "I had some already—so delicious!" Why It Works: A white lie in this situation isn't going to hurt anybody. You'll get out of eating food you don't want or need, and the food pusher will have gotten a compliment on what probably is a delicious dish.   The Push: "It's just once a year!" Your Response: "But I'll probably live to celebrate more holidays if I stick with my diet plan!" Why It Works: People can sometimes see healthy eating as vain—a means to the end result of losing weight and looking better. It's harder for a food pusher to argue with you if you bring attention to the fact that you eat right and exercise for better health and a longer life. Looking good just happens to be a side effect!   The Push: "Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…" Your Response: "I wouldn't say obsessed, but I am conscious of what I eat." Why It Works: Words like "food snob" or "obsessed" are pretty harsh when they're thrown around by food pushers. But don't let passive-aggressive comments like this bring you down—or make you veer away from your good eating intentions. Acknowledging your willpower and healthy food choices might influence others to be more conscious of what they eat. Sometimes you just have to combat food pushers with a little straightforward kindness.   The Push: "If you don't try my dish, I'm just going to have to force you to eat it!" Your Response: "Sorry, but I don't like (or can't eat) [insert ingredient here]." Why It Works: It's hard to argue with someone's personal food preferences. If someone doesn't like an ingredient whether its sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or butter, odds are that he or she hasn't liked it for a very long time. If you'd like to get creative with this one, go into detail about how you got sick on the ingredient as a kid or how your mom says you always threw it across the room as a baby. Who can argue with that?   The Push: "You need some meat on your bones." Your Response: "Trust me, I'm in no danger of wasting away!" Why It Works: This food push is definitely on the passive-aggressive side. Using humor to fight back will defuse any tension while making it clear where you stand.   The Push: "One bite isn't going to kill you." Your Response: "I know, but once you pop you can't stop! And I'm sure it's so delicious I wouldn't be able to stop!" Why It Works: This is another situation where humor will serve to distract the food pusher from his or her mission. It's a way to say "thanks, but no thanks" while making it clear that you're not interested in overindulging.   The Push: "But it's your favorite!" Your Response: "I think I've overdosed on it; I just can't eat it anymore!" Why It Works: If you have a favorite holiday dish that everyone knows you love, it can be especially tough to escape this push. If a loved one made the dish specifically for you, the guilt can be enough to push you over the edge. But people understand that food preferences change, and most have been in that situation of enjoying a dish so much that they can't touch it for awhile.   The Push: [Someone puts an extra helping on your plate without you asking.] Your Response: Push it around with your fork like you did as a kid to make it look like you tried it. Why It Works: While putting food on someone else's plate can be viewed as passive-aggressive, it was probably done with love. (Let's hope!) Making it look like you ate a bite or two can be an easy way out of the situation, but you can also just leave it alone and claim that you've already had your fill. (After all, you didn't add that extra helping!)   The Push: "Have another drink!" Your Response: "I have to drive." Why It Works: No one will argue with the fact that you want to drive home sober. If they do, you should have no qualms walking away from the conversation, period. If they offer a place for you to stay, you can always get out of the situation by blaming an early morning commitment or the fact that you need to get home to let the dog out. Kids will also get you out of everything.   The Push: "We have so many leftovers. Take some!" Your Response: "That's OK! Just think, you'll have your meals for tomorrow taken care of." Why It Works: Not every party guest wants to deal with the hassle of taking food with them, and this makes it clear that you'd rather the food stay. If the host is insistent, you can feign worry that they'll go bad in the car because you're not going straight home, or it'll go bad in your fridge because you've already been given so many leftovers at other parties recently. Or be polite and take them. You'll have more control of your food intake away from the party anyway. So whether you don't eat the leftovers at all or whether you split a piece of pie with your spouse, you're in control in this situation.   These tactics can work wonders in social situations, but honesty is sometimes the best policy. A simple "No, thank you" is hard for a food pusher to beat, especially if it's repeated emphatically. Remember, too, that it's okay to have treats in moderation, so don't deprive yourself of your favorite holiday foods. Just make sure that you're the one in control of your splurges—not a friend, family member or co-worker who doesn't know your fitness and health goals!     Do you have a favorite way to say, "No, thank you," to food pushers? Share your strategies in the comments section to the right. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1685

Senators Demand Answers About Possible Probe Of HHS Secretary Price

Nine senators are pushing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reveal what he knows about a reported investigation into Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s stock trades that a top federal prosecutor might have begun before being fired by the Trump administration this month.

In a letter Wednesday, six senators — five Democrats plus Vermont independent Bernie Sanders — called on Sessions to assure them that any investigation of Price — or others connected to the Trump administration — would be “allowed to continue unimpeded.” Three Democratic senators sent a different letter a day earlier, asking Sessions to “provide greater clarity” about why Manhattan’s former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, was fired and whether any investigation of Price was a factor in Bharara’s removal.

ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization, reported March 17 that Price was being investigated by the U.S. attorney’s office for his stock trades, though it did not specify which trades Bharara was investigating before his dismissal. The website attributed its report to an unnamed person familiar with the U.S. attorney’s office, and neither the Justice Department nor other news media organizations have confirmed its existence.

If an investigation had begun, it would be derail. But investigations of federal officials are always sensitive cases, said Donald Langevoort, a securities law professor at Georgetown University.

“The higher up the food chain you go, the more prominent the person is, the more confident you better be that you have the evidence you can present to a jury,” he said. “But I think any attempt to quash an investigation would backfire considerably.”

Price, a prominent Republican congressman until he joined Trump’s Cabinet this year, was questioned extensively at his confirmation hearings about stock purchases he made in health care, pharmaceutical and medical device companies while serving on the House of Representatives’ health subcommittee.

The activity raised conflict-of-interest concerns for some members of Congress because Price’s trades overlapped with his sponsorship of bills, advocacy or votes on issues related to those companies or their industries.

The Democrats  called attention to Price’s investment in a small Australian biotech firm, Innate Immunotherapeutics, which Price testified he learned about from another congressman, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Innate’s largest shareholder.

Price bought most of his shares at discounted prices in two private stock placements in 2016 offered to a small number of sophisticated investors — many with personal or professional ties to Collins.

Congressional Democrats slammed Price at his hearings for buying shares at advantageous prices not available to all investors. Some questioned whether Price had violated insider trading laws or the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which bans members of Congress from trading on stocks using information they received in carrying out their official duties.

“Despite the many unanswered questions that remained, Republicans rushed Price’s nomination through the Senate without waiting for answers,” six senators said in Wednesday’s letter.

When he was confirmed Feb. 10, Price agreed to divest his stock holdings within 90 days of  taking his post. An HHS spokesperson said Price has completed those divestitures but declined to provide further information.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the only senator who signed both letters to Sessions.

Other names on Wednesday’s letter were Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

Tuesday’s letter was also signed by Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.).

Sessions’ office confirmed it had received Tuesday’s letter from the senators but declined to comment on either one. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan also had no comment.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Ask Brianna: Is Financial Therapy Right for Me?

“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

This week’s question: “You’ve mentioned ‘financial therapy’ in past columns. What is it, and how do I know if it’s right for me?”

When you’re ready for professional money help, a smorgasbord of options will appear before you: financial planning; credit counseling; money coaching; burdening your nightstand with a teetering pile of self-help books.

Financial therapy is one of the newest additions to the field, emerging from a small forum for mental health and financial planning professionals in 2008. While certified financial planners help you develop and implement concrete financial strategies, and mental health professionals help you recognize and change thought patterns that aren’t serving you, financial therapists straddle both worlds. They focus on your relationship with money and how it affects your behavior so you can realize your financial goals.

“Money comes with a lot of emotional baggage, and there just aren’t many places to talk about it openly and constructively,” says Dr. Mary Gresham, a financial psychologist in Atlanta.

If you struggle with saving, budgeting, paying off debt, severe frugality or other money issues, financial therapy could help. Here’s how to assess whether it makes sense for you, and how to evaluate any professionals you may work with.

When to go to a financial therapist

Financial therapy can help you understand why you’re stuck in the same patterns, such as overspending, even if you’ve tried to change. It also can help you explore the feelings that bubble up when you think about money. Gresham and Derek Lawson, a doctoral student in personal financial planning with a focus on financial therapy at Kansas State University, say financial therapy might be the right call if:

  • Your finances make you feel depressed or anxious
  • You’re consistently spending more than you earn or aren’t saving any money
  • You’ve tried to change those behaviors, with no luck
  • You want to understand the root of your money troubles

In some cases, other experts could better suit you. Try traditional financial planning if you want straight money advice you’re fairly certain you can implement on your own. If you’re dealing with a mountain of debt and urgently need an action plan, try credit counseling. Gresham says she refers her clients to these financial pros when necessary.

What financial therapy looks like

At your first few sessions, a financial therapist might ask you, “What are your best hopes for your financial future?” and “How would you know if these hopes were realized?”

“I might have a couple of meetings with clients before I analyze their financials,” says Lawson, who is also a financial planner at Priority Financial Partners in Durango, Colorado.

Lawson says he’ll ask clients who have trouble saving to focus on a time in the past when they did save and how they felt. That positive emotional memory may encourage clients to integrate saving into their lives more frequently.

How to find a financial therapist

Because there are few formal places to study financial therapy, practitioners today typically have either a mental health background and an understanding of financial issues, or a financial planning background and further training in mental health counseling. (Kansas State University and the University of Georgia offer financial therapy studies, and the Financial Therapy Association plans to develop a certification in three to five years, says president-elect Sarah Asebedo, who is also assistant professor of personal financial planning at Texas Tech University.)

You can use the Financial Therapy Association’s member directory or do a general online search to find financial therapists or financial psychologists near you. The XY Planning Network lists financial planners who work with clients in their 20s and 30s. It’s best to work with fee-only financial planners, who charge flat or hourly fees and won’t earn commissions on insurance or investment products, like mutual funds, that they might recommend you buy. This type of planner may be more affordable than one who charges based on a percentage of your assets he or she is managing.

Check each professional’s background and training: Ideally, they’ll have both the certified financial planner designation and licensure as a mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, social worker or psychologist.

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: bmcgurran@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Video: Cutting College Costs During Your Student Years


If you think starting college stops your scholarship hunt, think again. Jocelyn Paonita, Founder of The Scholarship System, describes how to reduce your student debt while attending college in the video above. Find out quickly at what rate you can refinance your student loan.

$110 Million Wells Fargo Payout Could Put Money in Your Pocket

If Wells Fargo charged you fees for accounts you never authorized, you’re set to get your money back.

Wells Fargo agreed Tuesday to a $110 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought after bank employees opened accounts without customers’ consent. The settlement would include repayment of fees as well as “millions of dollars of additional monetary relief,” according to a lawyer in the case.

Keller Rohrback, the law firm representing Wells Fargo customers, filed the suit in federal court in San Francisco last May. The court still has to approve the agreement, which Wells Fargo expects would encompass 11 other class-action lawsuits brought against the national bank.

The latest settlement is in addition to $185 million in penalties paid by the bank to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other government agencies.

Who gets money

The $110 million, after legal and administrative costs, would go directly to customers to reimburse “out-of-pocket losses, such as fees incurred due to unauthorized account openings,” according to Wells Fargo’s news release. Jim Seitz, a spokesman at the bank, confirmed that the settlement would cover more than out-of-pocket losses but said he couldn’t elaborate.

This includes anyone who’s had a Wells Fargo account opened without his or her consent from Jan. 1, 2009, to the date that the settlement gets signed by both the court and Wells Fargo.

If that means you, you don’t have to take action yet. Attorneys for Wells Fargo customers will seek preliminary approval of the settlement next month from a federal judge, and then information will be sent to affected customers about benefits of the settlement. Wells Fargo would also release information, including how to submit a claim.

“The $110 million settlement, if approved, will require Wells Fargo to repay the fees charged to class members by Wells Fargo for unauthorized accounts and provide millions of dollars of additional monetary relief to the class,” attorney Derek Loeser said in a statement. Loeser, a partner at the law firm Keller Rohrback, helped negotiate the deal.

Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo’s president and CEO, said in a statement, “We want to ensure that each customer impacted by our sales practices issue has every opportunity for remediation, and this agreement presents an additional option.”

Over $3 million to customers so far

Since September, Wells Fargo has refunded $3.26 million to customers for fees charged from unauthorized bank accounts and lines of credit, according to Seitz. This is part of the $5 million set aside for customers in the $185 million settlement with government agencies. The refunds have gone to about 130,000 accounts.

The average refund from the bank’s December review of bank accounts and credit cards as far back as May 2011 is $32.41 per customer.

The exact number of people who could receive money under this new settlement couldn’t be confirmed. “We’ve entered into an agreement in principle,” Seitz says. “It would be premature to speculate on the size of the class.”

Wells Fargo’s previous settlement

The $185 million in penalties that Wells Fargo agreed to pay last September to government agencies, including the CFPB, was in response to bank employees opening around 1.5 million bank accounts and roughly half a million credit card accounts for customers without their consent.

The CFPB’s investigation looked at accounts from 2011 to 2015. The bank did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the September settlement.

Wells Fargo also plans to review accounts from 2009 to 2010 that might have been affected.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.

Better Check Your Balance: Crooks Targeting ATMs

Consumers have a new reason to check their bank accounts for fraudulent charges. On Wednesday, FICO reported the number of debit cards compromised at ATMs and merchant devices in this country rose 70% in 2016 over the previous year. And compromised cards can lead to money being drained from your account.

The number of hacked ATMs and merchant card readers also rose, by 30%, over 2015, according to the analytics and credit scoring company. Criminals often attach skimming devices to such machines to read card numbers, says Michael Betron, senior director of product management at FICO. Then the fraudsters attempt to make illegal copies of the cards.

In 2015, the agency recorded a 546% year-over-year leap in the number of hacked ATMs, particularly nonbank ATMs like those found at some convenience stores. The San Jose, California, company analyzes card transactions in the United States and releases its fraud report each year.

Card companies have taken steps to reduce fraud, including issuing cards with EMV chip technology. The chips use Europay, MasterCard and Visa technology standards to create a unique code for each transaction, making the card practically impossible to copy.

But not every merchant has a card reader that can take advantage of the EMV chip. Some ATMs, gas pumps and many restaurants still use the magnetic stripe for purchases, Betron says. In fact, 60% of the compromised ATMs weren’t located in banks but in locations such as convenience stores and retailers.

Reasons for the increase in hacked machines and compromised debit cards are unclear, but some industry observers have theorized that the rise of EMV technology has caused hackers to focus more attention on vulnerable card readers such as some ATMs and gas pumps.

How to guard against hackers

Here are ways you can protect yourself:

Check the location. When using an ATM, select one that gets a lot of foot traffic or is in a brightly lighted area. Follow the same rule for debit card purchases. If you fill up your car, know that the pumps farthest from the store entrance may be more attractive to criminals.

Check the card reader.  Be on the lookout for anything odd about your ATM or point-of-sale machine. If your card doesn’t enter an ATM smoothly, for example, a fraudster could have a skimmer attached to the opening.  “You may want to look somewhere else to get cash,” Betron says.

Check your account. Review your checking account regularly for unauthorized transactions. If your card is compromised, you’ll have to act fast to avoid losing money. If you report a loss within two days, the most you could lose is $50, according to federal law. But you risk losing up to $500 from your account if you wait up to 60 days — or the entire amount in your account if you wait longer.

Check with your bank.  Ask your bank for a new card if you believe your card has been compromised, even if there’s not yet evidence of fraud. That way, your financial institution can take steps to secure the machine, Betron says. “You can help the bank protect you and their other customers, too.”

ATM fraud is an increasing problem. By taking steps to protect yourself, you can keep your card number and your money out of a criminal’s hands.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburnette@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @margarette.

Clean-Eating Chef Candice Kumai Shares the Exact Moment She Found Her Calling

Welcome to Behind the Confidence, a video series about the real, unfiltered journey to self-belief. We talked to four health and wellness pros who prove true confidence doesn't stem from a "like," nor does it magically happen overnight. It's about finding what makes you feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally.

You might recognize clean-eating chef and pioneer Candice Kumai from hit cooking shows such as Top Chef, Unique Eats, and Iron Chef America, or from the covers of any of her five best-selling books. But Kumai's path to success wasn't a straight line. Watch as she shares the ups and downs she experienced along the way—and how she finally discovered her true calling.

Mortgage Rates Wednesday, March 29: Bouncing Higher

Mortgage rates for 30- and 15-year fixed loans, as well as 5/1 ARMs, all bounced a bit higher today, according to a NerdWallet survey of current mortgage rates published by national lenders Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, home loan applications barely budged last week, falling just 0.8% from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. However, as the home buying season begins, the real estate market seems to be off to a good start.

“As an early gauge of spring buying activity, purchase applications for the last four weeks were all higher than the corresponding week a year ago, up an average of 4.8% on a year-over-year basis,” Lynn Fisher, vice president of research and economics with the MBA, told CNBC.


(Change from 3/28) 30-year fixed: 4.33% APR (+0.06) 15-year fixed: 3.70% APR (+0.03) 5/1 ARM: 3.86% APR (+0.03)

Get personalized mortgage rates


» MORE: How much home can you afford?

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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Fun with Numbers: A look at the raw numbers of what Pitt basketball needs to replace next year

We all know that Pitt's basketball team loses quite a bit for next season. That's something we've not only talked a lot about as the season went on, but anticipated before the year even began. And given the seniors that are out of eligibility and, more recently, the transfers, I was curious to see just how much (or in this case, how little) production will be returning to the team next year.

Here's a closer look at just how much the Panthers won't return for next season. We're just now into the offseason so more departures are still possible. But as of right now, here's what the team loses in terms of pure numbers.

The Panthers lose:

  • 85% of their scoring - Cam Johnson is the leading-returning scorer with 11.9 points per game. Seeing him get up to 15 or so seems like practically a given based on how little the Panthers have coming back and he could be in line for an even bigger jump depending on how much he's asked to do.
  • 69% of their rebounding - There wasn't quite as big of a hit here as there was with the scoring since Cam Johnson wasn't terrible on the glass and the Panthers' top two returning reserves, Ryan Luther and Rozelle Nix, were big men. But, obviously, that's still a lot. Cam Johnson is the leading returning rebounder (notice a trend here?) with 4.5 rebounds per game.
  • 81% of their assists - This was a down area this year for the team as they averaged only 14 assists per game. As I've said before, part of that was due to Michael Young and Jamel Artis just sort of dominating the ball. Cam Johnson and his 2.3 assists per contest lead the team in terms of returnees.
  • 70% of their steals - Again, not a big number since the team averaged a meager four per game. Heck, some college players have averaged almost that by themselves. Cam Johnson's .9 steals per game led the team this year.
  • 87% of their blocks - Again, a very small number. Pitt averaged only three blocks as an entire team and finally, someone other than Cam leads the way coming back. That would be Ryan Luther and his .7 per game.
  • 82% of their free throw attempts - Cam Johnson leads the way again here as far as returning players as he got to the line 74 times last year.
Pitt will have other guys step in, step up, etc. But some of these numbers are still sort of eyepopping. Just another reminder that, regardless of who plays and steps up next year, the team will look vastly different than this year. Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Tax Penalties 101


The Internal Revenue Service has plenty of ways to penalize you for mistakes on your tax return. Some of these potential penalties are so convoluted and complex that there may well be disagreement within the IRS on when they apply. However, most people accrue tax penalties for very simple mistakes. Here are some of the more common yet easily avoidable mistakes. Failing to File – Do you really think the IRS will forget about the fact that you did not file your tax return? It may take some time, but the IRS will eventually catch up with you. Expect little sympathy if you do not file. The IRS is willing to work with people to make payments, but if you make no effort at all, you are subject to the non-filing penalties of 5% per month of the due taxes, up to 25% of your unpaid tax bill. Many people simply put off filing until it is

What to Buy (and Skip) in April

While April’s showers prep flowers for May, you can get ready for spring cleaning, taxes and more with sales.

Take advantage of this month’s discounts and avoid the duds with our list of the top things you should buy — and a few you should skip — in April.

Buy: Vacuums

If spring cleaning season has you convinced that your old vacuum isn’t getting the job done, now might be the time to buy a new one. You’ll find plenty of vacuum sales and home cleaning deals this month.

The discounts may not be as steep as they were on Black Friday, but you can still find deals from home-cleaning brands and third-party retailers. For example, Amazon’s Spring Event section includes deals on some of the site’s top vacuums, and Dyson is hosting a limited-time clearance sale with discounts of up to $150 through April 15.

Skip: Mattresses

April can be a great time for a fresh start, but don’t get rid of everything old just yet.

Major household purchases, such as mattresses and furniture, are best made during sales that occur around Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Last year, mattresses were discounted by hundreds of dollars during Memorial Day at outlets including Mattress Firm and Sleep Train Mattress Centers.

This year, Memorial Day is May 29, but deals will likely start the week before and run throughout the three-day weekend.

» MORE: What to buy every month of the year in 2017

Buy: Jewelry

In general, jewelry stores are more motivated to have sales during non-gift-giving months. And since there aren’t any jewelry-centric holidays — such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day — in April, now is a good time to find discounts. Whenever possible, try to negotiate jewelry prices.

Skip: Bedding and linens

If you’re in the market for fresh bedding, linens or towels, you’re a few months too late. Stores offer the best discounts on bedding each January during “white sales.”

Look ahead toward deals at Memorial Day and Labor Day sales at department stores, including Macy’s and J.C. Penney.

Buy: Easter leftovers

Easter falls on April 16, so the second half of the month will be an ideal time to stock up on holiday leftovers, such as candy and decorations. Look for closeout sales at drug stores and department chains as retailers clear inventory to make room for Mother’s Day displays.

It’s not uncommon to find deals of 50% off or more, so you can stock up on baskets and plush bunnies for next year.

Skip: Summer essentials

Long months of winter blues could have you itching to skip spring and head straight to summer, but there are better times to stock up on swimsuits and beach hats. Prices for seasonal items tend to be highest at the beginning of the season and lowest at the end.

Try to hold out a few more months before replacing those old flip-flops. You can expect midseason sales after demand has cooled.

Bonus: Tax Day goodies

This year, Tax Day is April 18. To brighten up this sometimes dreaded day, look for Tax Day deals from retailers, restaurants and others.

Last year, Sonic offered half-off cheeseburgers, and Staples shredded 5 pounds of your paper for free. Expect to find plenty of discounts and giveaways again this year.

Bonus: April Fools’ Day

April 1 may be a day for tricks and tall tales, but retailers don’t play when it comes to sales. If you want to buy something that’s not discounted in April, take advantage of a sitewide promo code to lower the price. Coupons will be plentiful on April Fools’ Day. Last year, stores like Kohl’s and Old Navy, among others, used the annual pranking day as an opportunity to dish out real deals.

More: Hear what to buy (and skip) in April

In an interview with WDUN radio station in Gainesville, Georgia, NerdWallet discussed the products that shoppers can save money on in April.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

Updated March 29, 2017.

16 Foods That Taste Better in Spring (and How to Use Them)

From salmon to kale to avocado to sweet potatoes, there are some foods that have probably earned a spot in your kitchen year-round. But others might only make a brief—albeit delicious—seasonal appearance. Now that things are (finally!) starting to warm up, it’s time to trade in your winter meal workhorses for lighter spring choices. Next time you hit the market, add these warmer-weather fruits, vegetables, and cooking staples to your basket. And hurry up! Some of them might be gone again before it’s warm enough to wear your shorts and sandals.

Fresh Produce 1. Baby Artichokes Photo: Foolproof Living They’re sweeter than full-size artichokes, and because you don’t have to remove the tough inner choke, the entire thing is edible. (So they’re way easier to prep. All you have to do is remove the tough outer leaves, and you’re good to go.) Spring Recipe Idea: Have warm braised baby artichokes as a side for chicken or fish, or add them to a salad like this warm braised baby artichoke salad with white beans and manchego.  2. Fresh Berries Photo: Scaling Back Now’s the time of year when strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries start tasting juicy and flavorful, instead of like cardboard. So stock up! Spring Recipe Idea: Make the most of their sweet tartness by pairing them with richer, creamier ingredients like goat cheese. Scaling Back’s blackberry fennel pizza with goat cheese would make an insanely good spring dinner. 3. New Potatoes Photo: Leite's Culinaria The small, waxy spuds are firmer and less starchy than larger Russett or Yukon Gold potatoes, so they hold up especially well in salads... and we know you're going to start craving more salads. Spring Recipe Idea: Instead of the usual gloppy, mayo-laden potato salad, try this French potato salad with green beans and egg from Leite’s Culinaria. It’s lighter, and the olive oil-based dressing means you can leave it sitting out at your picnic. (Pro tip: Toss the potatoes with the dressing while they’re still warm, so they absorb more of the dressing flavor.) 4. Tender Lettuces Photo: Feasting at Home You might think of salad as a hot-weather food, but lettuces actually grow best when the weather is still on the cooler side. That’s why spring is the best time to enjoy sweet, tender greens like butter lettuce, Bibb lettuce, mache, and watercress. Spring Recipe Idea: Try them in a bright, clean salad, like Feasting at Home’s watercress and citrus salad with turmeric dressing. 5. Fava Beans Photo: Tink Inklings Fresh fava beans are pretty much exclusive to springtime—so if you spot them at your market, scoop them up. Prepping them takes a little bit of work—you have to remove the beans from their pods and slip the tough outer skin off each bean. But the rich, buttery flavor is worth it. Spring Recipe Idea: Try smashing fava beans on toast and topping them with a poached egg, like Tiny Inklings does it. 6. Asparagus Photo: Platings and Pairings Sure, you can get asparagus year-round. But you’ll find the thinnest, sweetest, most tender stalks in the springtime (and they won’t cost an arm and a leg). Spring Recipe Idea: Instead of roasting or steaming the whole stalks, try something different. Shave asparagus into noodle-like strands and top them with creamy ricotta and chopped pistachio, like this Platings and Pairings recipe. Herbs and Spices 7. Dill Photo: Neighbor Food There's nothing like fresh herbs for springtime cooking. This fern-like herb’s fresh, sweet flavor makes any dish feel lighter. Spring Recipe Idea: Toss coarsely chopped dill leaves into a salad or use dill to add brightness in cooked dishes. We are so making this roasted carrots with feta and dill dish from Neighbor Food.    8. Chives Photo: The Foodie Dietician Spring is all about mild, delicate flavors—and that’s exactly what you’ll get from chives, which are slightly onion-y without being overpowering. Spring Recipe Idea: They’re especially great with eggs. At your next breakfast, make this swiss chard potato chive frittata from The Foodie Dietitian to get your dose of chives. 9. Mint Photo: Cocoon Cooks You might’ve passed on icy mint over the winter. But now that the weather’s warming up, the cooling flavor feels just right. Spring Recipe Idea: For a burst of freshness, try adding whole mint leaves to spring rolls—like Cocoon Cooks’s rainbow spring rolls with mango, basil, and lime tahini cream. 10. Parsley Photo: Scaling Back This garnish might be available year-round, but the fresh grass-like herb is especially welcome in spring. DIY tip: If you plant your own parsley (bonus points to you), plant them 3-4 weeks before the last spring frost, so when the warm spring weather hits, you'll have parsley readily available in your garden or pot. Spring Recipe Idea: Try trading in the usual basil for parsley in pesto. It’s delicious on grain and veggie bowls, like Scaling Back’s super vegan bowl with parsley cashew pesto. Pantry Staples 11. Bee Pollen Photo: Kitchen McCabe's The jury’s still out on whether bee pollen will actually help your seasonal allergy symptoms, but hey, it can't hurt to try, right? There’s no question that its light, floral flavor livens up spring desserts. Spring Recipe Idea: Try it in homemade frozen yogurt, like Kitchen McCabe’s salted honey chamomile frozen yogurt. 12. Arborio Rice Photo: What's Gaby Cooking You can obviously get this any time of year, but it's worth mentioning because it's an essential component in spring risotto. Even if your pantry is usually stocked with whole grains, it’s worth making an exception for white Arborio rice. The high starch content is what makes risotto so rich and velvety. Spring Recipe Idea: Try this sweet, creamy spring pea risotto from What’s Gaby Cooking. 13. Chickpeas Photo: Vanilla and Bean Spring means you’re probably spending more time outside—and less time in the kitchen. (Hello, after-work bike rides and frisbee!) Having a few cans of chickpeas on hand means you always have a nutritious, no-cook protein source ready for fast meals. Spring Recipe Idea: Instead of tossing them in the usual salad, try making Vanilla and Bean’s smashed chickpea salad sandwich. Fridge and Freezer Foods 14. Frozen Fruit Photo: Blissful Basil Now that it’s warming up, you might be more likely to crave a frosty smoothie or smoothie bowl. Save the delicate fresh berries for cooking and use frozen berries in your blended drinks instead. They’re less expensive, but they’re just as delicious. Plus, they’ll stay good in your freezer all season long. Spring Recipe Idea: Blissful Basil’s cosmic strawberry ginger peach bliss bowl is a dream for breakfast or dessert. 15. Buttermilk Photo: Mountain Mama Cooks Buttermilk sounds so wintry, right? But it made our list because it’s a key ingredient in homemade herby dressings and dips. Plus, real buttermilk is a fermented food, so it’s a great source of probiotics. (Look for buttermilk made with live active cultures, like lactococcus lactis or leuconostoc cremoris.) Spring Recipe Idea: The Gracious Pantry’s clean-eating ranch dressing is made with buttermilk, Greek yogurt, and loads of fresh herbs. 16. Goat Cheese Photo: Just a Taste Creamy, citrusy goat cheese is a delicious contrast to spring’s sweet vegetables—without being overpowering. Even though you can get it anytime of year, goat cheese just adds something special to spring dishes. Spring Recipe Idea: Try crumbling it over roasted vegetables (like beets or asparagus). Or roll rounds of goat cheese in panko, pan-fry, and serve over green salads, like this quinoa and greens salad from Just a Taste.
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