Instagram influencer shares her 4 MUST HAVE make-up brushes needed for every single glam look!

Lifestyle, People

If you are a beauty/makeup junkie, then you probably know how important is to own a set of high-quality brushes which will not only help in applying the products, but also increase its durability and finished look. Something as simple as the brush you use can completely change the final outlook of make up application. That’s why as an instagram influencer focusing on beauty, Taskin Khan stays loyal to the 4 classic brushes that she has personally tried and tested over the years. No matter what new product she is trying out, reviewing or critiquing, these are her essential go-to tools to get that glamorous look! Find out, in Taskin’s own words, why she fell in love with each of these and how they are help you achieve a perfect look!

beauty blogger and instagram influencer Taskin Khan shares her tips on the four essential make up brushes and tools with millennial things blog 2019.
Photo: A glamorous make up look done by Taskin Khan on herself

Here are my top 4 brushes which are vital to my makeup routine: 

1.Elf Flawless concealer brush

This $4 brush from Elf Cosmetics is the real game changer when it comes to your concealer blending. The bristles are so fine and packed that it helps the concealer under your eyes or other parts of the face to spread evenly, while providing you a good coverage. The fibers are nicely packed yet slightly feathered at the top which gives it a great mechanism for a great blend in a very short time. 

2. Real Techniques Setting brush

Need something that can help you more than applying highlighter? Drumrolls, we have this buddy right here. This is by far one of the most famous brushes by Real Techniques and there’s a lot of reason why this is famous. The tiny little sturdy brush has the most hair ever and the tapered-oval shape which makes this the perfect tool for your blinding highlighter to pop. It picks up the products gently and the blend it gives to your highlighters and powders is just phenomenal. The shape of this brush makes it perfect for blending powders and concealers as well on the hard-to-reach corners of your face. This is an absolute MUST HAVE. 

3. Luxie 522 Tapered Highlighter brush

I mean who wouldn’t want this medium-sized cute pink brush? But there’s a definite reason why I love this brush so much. This is my go-to brush for applying blush. The rounded tapered shape makes it fantastic to apply blushes or shimmering powders on your cheeks. You can control the blending as the brush isn’t overly fluffy.

4. BH Cosmetics V2 Face Brush

I have enjoyed applying bronzer a lot more since I got this baby in my hands. It blends your bronzers and contours in like a dream. You can even use this brush to apply powders and it will do a great job with that as well. Being a makeup addict, I’m constantly on the hunt to try and explore new brushes and make up application tools, but these four have been my loved ones till date.

Check out Taskin’s work at Chronicles of a Glam Addict on:

Facebook I Instagram

Check out these brushes & more at great discounts by clicking the image below!

(VIDEO) Do It Yourself Christmas Cookie Jars!

Lifestyle
Video: Steps to DIY Your Own Chrsitmas Cookie Jar I Video Credit: Faria Ahmed

It’s always hard to find a nice gift on a budget that doesn’t say ‘I got you the cheapest thing at the store that you might not like.’ That’s why the trick to budget shopping and budget gifting is customization and handcrafting things. If you put something together with your own hands, the person receiving the gift will know that you cared enough to put in time and effort. So, this year I came up with the idea to prepare custom Christmas cookie jars for all my close friends, family and coworkers. I realized they would be cute plus they are all reusable things that won’t go to waste in a landfill and harm the environment. Moreover, I can customize it by filling up the jars with things that each person likes or wants! Here is how I did it:

Christmas Cookie Jars with herhsye kisses chocolates, candy canes and ikea scented tea candles.
Image: DIY Christmas Cookie Jars Photo Credit: Faria Ahmed

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients!

There are just a few inexpensive things you will need for this project. These are the things I got:

  1. Small glass jars from the Dollar Store ($2 each)
  2. Chocolates or Candy of your choice; I got Hershey Kisses to fill the jars
  3. IKEA Tea Candles, Beads, Rocks, Marbles or other items to fill the jars
  4. A Roll of Jute Twine
  5. Paper, Sharpie, Scissors, Punch machine
Items needed to complete a DIY Project for a personalized christmas cookie jar. Image shows glass jars, hershey kisses chocolats, ikea tea candles, and jute twine rope.

Step 2: Fill it up!

Fill up the jar with whatever items you think your loved ones will enjoy. For my aunt who is diabetic, I filled the jar up with red and white IKEA tea candles. For my father who loves chocolates, I filled it up with Hershey’s kisses. I am also making some full of Popcorn, one with marbles and many more!

Step 3: Personalize with a Note

You can fold a small piece of paper in half, and punch a hole in it using a punch machine. After that, I basically used a sharpie to write in a cute little note for the person getting the gift and signed my name off.

Step 4: Wrap it up!

The very last step is to cut out a long piece of jute twine rope and wrap it around the top of the jar (not the lid). I wrapped it around a few times and finally I passed one of the ropes through the hole-punched note an then tied it into a little bow. That’s it, you now have your Christmas Cookie Jars ready for gifting!

Twine wrapped presents for christmas

4 Amazing Specialty Stores You Can Only Find In Perth, Ontario

Ottawa Living, Travel

With the growth of chain stores and brands in the big cities, it might be easier to find things when we need them, but it has become increasingly difficult to get things that are unique and beautiful in their own ways. This is why my visits to the small town of Perth, Ontario are so special to me. There are specialty stores here featuring locally and nationally made items that I almost never see in Ottawa. Today I’m reviewing four such places and their traditional beauty which instagram-loving millennials like myself would go crazy over!

1. Kelly’s Flowers & Gift Boutique

Christmas ornament owl at kelly's flowers and gift boutique in perth, ontario

Within moments of walking into Kelly’s, I felt as though I had been transported to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. In every sense, the store’s decor, contents, and friendly staff with their warm and welcoming smiles will make you feel like it’s Christmas.

Christmas tree and ornaments at kelly's flowers and gift boutique in perth, ontario

Kelly’s is a flower shop and boutique, but what stood out to me the most about this store was their incredibly beautiful collection of Christmas ornaments. Starting from wood, tin, fabric to crystals, they have every kind of ornament you can think of and all of extremely high quality. They have the type of things you will want to add to your family’s Christmas collection for generations to come.

Wooden Christmas ornament at kelly's flowers and gift boutique in perth, ontario

Each item is so delicately crafted and do not even compare to the mainstream, mass produced items that I am used to buying.

Soap bars, bath milk and other skincare products. All natural products at kelly's flowers and gift boutique in perth, ontario

Almost everything at Kelly’s is made in Canada and a lot of their items comes in from the town of Peterborough. Their collection of skin care products are made from all natural ingredients and some Canadian brands they carry are 100% vegan. If you’re looking for anything specific – just ask and they will be sure to share more details of the specialty items they offer.

White Snowman Christmas ornaments at kelly's flowers and gift boutique in perth, ontario

2. Perth Chocolate Works

I thought I was past my sugar cravings after having all that Halloween candy, but visiting this store made me realize what I had been missing out on all this time! Perth Chocolate Works hand makes delicate barks and chocolates in small batches using high quality Belgian Callebaut Chocolate.

Faria Ahmed at Perth Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario Winter 2019
That’s me happily posing in front of Perth Chocolate Works. Photo Credit: Jordan Johnstone

Although it originally opened in Manatoulin Island, it experienced increased requests to expand to the Ottawa Valley and soon found a home in Perth.

Handmade Chocolates at Perth Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario Winter 2019

Items that stood out for me were the handmade truffle bars, bear claws and the incredibly wide selection of jams and jellies. I have quite honestly never seen so many different types of jams and jellies before and can easily imagine myself trying out some with cheese and crackers in the holidays coming up.

Milk Chocolate Covered Raisins  at Perth Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario Winter 2019
Handmade Double Truffle Bars at Perth Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario Winter 2019
James, Jellies and Preserves at Perth Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario Winter 2019. Lime Curd, Raspberry Curd, Pin Grapefruit Marmalade and Fig Preserves.
Rhubarb and Ginger Preserve, Lime and Lemon Marmalade, Mackay's Preserves at Perth Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario

The store was quite spacious and I spent almost an hour looking around and checking out the various corners decorated with shelves full of handmade goodies! Even the window ledges were decorated with items you could purchase, and that included these gorgeous wooden cheese boards.

Wild Wood Wooden Slabs for Cheese Platters and Presentation in Perth Chocolate Works
100% Pure Maple Butter in small jars at Perth  Chocolate Works in Perth, Ontario
Funny coffee sign at Perth Chocolate Works at Perth, Ontario

3. Shadowfax

The holiday and sugar buzz almost reminded me of Diagon Alley (in the Harry Potter Universe) with Perth’s boutique little stores and stone buildings running throughout the town. This fluttering feeling of craving some holiday magic led me to the mystical store called Shadowfax.

As soon as you enter through those green doors, you will find yourself in a world of magic, mysticism and spirituality.

From natural crystals to tarrot cards, you will find everything you could possibly seek in this category of items. I loved how there were little notes explaining the name, type and healing effects of the stones. Some were for love while others were to help fight anxiety. I picked up an item for my aunt who has been dealing with lots of stress recently.

Every minute in that store seemed like a moment that I was learning. There were so many types of religious, spiritual and historical symbolism all over the place. The collection of books, too, were rare, fun and insightful!

Shadowbox isn’t just a place to buy things though. They also host events such as tarot card readings, soul glimpse readings, crystal and oracle card readings, palmistry and more!

4. The Crossroads Tearoom

Nothing beats the quaint and ladylike feeling of pouring myself some hot tea in the prettiest of settings. Decorated from floor to ceiling with vintage decor, furniture and accessories, The Crossroads Tearoom is every millennial instagramer’s dream spot to be!

Whether it’s for lunch or an afternoon of high tea with your girlfriends, this tearoom will make you feel like English noblewomen with its vibe.

Starting from the mannequin dressed up in Victorian era clothing and jewelry to the elegant piano casually placed so it truly belongs in the tearoom, you can find yourself transported back in time.

Elegant ladies’ hats, vintage china and paintings all in the theme pastel colours adorn the walls of the tearoom while the furniture is aged and rustic to add to the realism of the setting.

You can see me in the mirror, trying to capture the gorgeous chandelier in this photo.

For me, the tearoom brought back nostalgic memories of my Grandmother’s teapots and tea cozy with cups and saucers all ready on a silver tray for afternoon tea time with the family. It also reminded me of Jane Austin books I had read growing up, and ignited an internal fire to want to play adult tea party with my friends (or dollies!).

Vintage tea rooms have surely made a comeback in recent years and are among the trendy places to spend a Saturday morning with your lady friends. Even though they are now sprouting up in the big cities in Canada, there’s no doubt that a certain level of authenticity can be experienced only when you visit ones in beautiful and cozy little towns like Perth.

Story of the Travelling Saree: How a young Bangladeshi-Canadian Woman is leaving her ethnic mark everywhere she travels!

People, Travel

Interviewed by Faria Ahmed

Banff, Alberta

Every now and then we come across stories of inspirational women who dare to be different and leave their mark in the way they do things. Such is the story of Nibedita Saha-Chakravorty, a Bangladeshi-Canadian woman living in Toronto, Canada. Nibedita and her husband absolutely love travelling and they make it a point to travel at least a few times a year.

During a trip to Banff, Alberta Nibedita first came up with the idea of wearing a saree (a traditional ethnic Bengali clothing for women) and photograph herself against the gorgeous snowy mountains in Banff. In extreme freezing temperatures, she managed to get photographed against this striking landscape and look incredibly glamorous doing it. A saree is a typically light garment meant to be worn in the tropics and over the centuries it has become the symbol for Bengali women everywhere. Since that day almost 5 years ago, Nibedita took it up as a personal adventure to take photographs of herself against the various terrains and landscapes as she travels the world.

Dubai

“Growing up I always thought I was weird because my ideas were always a bit different from my peers”, said Nibedita. “Assimilation in Canadian society was always encouraged in my family, especially as my parents desperately wanted us to fit in. In my adult life, I realized that my thoughts and desires weren’t necessarily weird but rather they were just different“, she continued. “One of those different ideas I had was to try and take this beautiful symbol of my culture, the saree, to the next level.”

“I’m always thinking about what has not been done before. In general , South Asian countries are hot so probably there aren’t pictures of women wearing them in the snow, I thought. Next I realized that many of our friends and family living in Canada hate snow. I get it..life is difficult”, she said. Nibedita explained how we should sympathize with those who are still struggling to get around in the snow. For so many women who first move to Canada, adjusting to the weather, the culture, the change in clothing…is all part of a very big life change and it can be challenging. They have to give up a big piece of their cultural identities or preference of wearing a saree on a regular basis and only wear it to parties. “Wearing sarees in the snow is quite impractical but I thought it would be fun to take a picture of me wearing a saree in the snow to make the ladies in my community giggle. That idea started my crazy journey.”

Cuba

Although the initial thought behind it was a humorous one, she soon also realized how powerful and empowering it could be do to this. “In the Bengali community, many women are afraid to dream or vocally say what they want because traditionally women have been groomed to be care takers and support systems”. Nibedita explained how Bengali women are often expected to make bold sacrifices and their own wishes and dreams are often sidelined in the process. However, she wants to show the world that while being her most bengali self, wearing a saree, she can climb a mountain and walk in sand all the same. She wants to do it literally and metaphorically to help break barriers for Bengali women, so we can be comfortable in our own skin and ethnic garments and still be proud and confident enough to take on the world.

Ontario

She wants to tell everyone that if something is a part of our cultural identity, we do not need to tuck it away. It is something that adds strength to our lives and lived experiences and should be celebrated.

Most Challenging Saree-Photo Venture:

“I think the hardest for me was Dubai. The desert seemed limitless to me, and I was but a grain of sand in the vast desert sea. The dunes were hot and I kept sinking wherever I stood. The wind was so exceptionally strong, I felt if I let go of my saree, it will disappear. I felt fear and excitement. Something was all around me and it was trying to take me with it.

Most Fun Saree-Photo Venture:

My most fun experience was during my graduation. I was the only person who wore a saree at my graduation from the University of Toronto that year. I loved explaining the idea to everyone who asked about it and I loved showing up on campus in a saree as compared to other days where my hair would be in a bun and I’d be in sweatpants lugging around chemistry and physics books.

Traveled So Far:

Bangladesh: Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong India: Kolkata, Sikkim, Orissa, Darjeeling, Kashmir
Greece, Dubai, Nepal, Paris, London UK, Belize City
US: Florida, Utah, Las Vegas, California, West
Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey Canada: Alberta, Ontaro

Travel Bucket List for the Future:

Australia (Great Barrier Reef), Egypt, Amazon Basin, Rain Forest

Travels in the near future: I would love to travel within Canada (somewhere in the Maritimes and Vancouver).

5 Netflix Horror Movies to Binge-Watch This Halloween

Lifestyle

By Faria Ahmed

As a big fan of horrors and thrillers, I have pretty much watched them all. The only type of movie I try to avoid in this category are the gorey splatter/slasher movies (let’s face it they are kind of nasty). Needless to say, I’m a pretty big fan of Halloween and begin my celebration from the very first week of October! I enjoy dipping my hands into my bucket of candy and binge-watching horror movies on netflix every weekend of October leading up to the 31st. This year, I’ve particularly enjoyed the following titles from netflix that you need to check out as well and they are perfect entertainment for Halloween night. 


  1. ELI: So Eli was released in 2019 so it’s a very new movie. As with all movies, I try not to look at reviews or ratings beforehand, so I can have an open mind going in. I did the same for ELI, and I actually quite enjoyed it. Without giving any spoilers, I would like to say that the first half of the movie has almost no relationship or hint of what the second half will be about. The second half could indeed have gone a very different way. Nonetheless, if you enjoy twisted and unexpected storylines and gradually building suspense, this movie is worth your time. Afterwards, I noticed it has pretty bad ratings on rotten tomatoes but it had all the elements I typically enjoy in a horror movie-innocent child, scary house, creepy doctor, and lots of symbolism.
  2. In The Tall Grass: If you think plain old lawn grass could not become creepy and deadly…you were wrong. Stephen King and Joe Hill are able to turn any simple story into a scary, mind-wobbling journey of personal growth, exposing the darkness and the light within human beings. Apart from a tiny bit of satan-worship and cannibalism, the rest of the story is quite interesting and full of symbolism and raw human instincts of good and evil. The multiple timelines that seem to be overlapping and in a loop in this tall grass area makes the story confusing but amusing at the same time. If you are in the right headspace for timeline manipulated Stephen King storylines, this is quite a slow-paced but fun watch.  
  3. Hush: I think the next three movies are definitely ones that use one specific sense or function of the human body to make the storyline extremely real and intense. The first one is hush, where a deaf writer is found living in the woods, working on her book, and fighting for her life against a masked murderer. Living in the middle of nowhere with enormous glass windows and doors doesn’t help. I absolutely love the strong and single woman taking on the world plotline anytime and when the woman has an auditory disability, it only makes her more badass. This is a must-watch for me any year, but again it is a slow paced movie which needs to be followed to great attention. 
  4. Birdbox: As if I didn’t love Sandra Bullock enough before, now she had gone ahead and made a film in my favourite genre. Birdbox plays on the visual senses, in that, when you ‘see’ this evil force you go insane and eventually kill yourself. Amazing direction, acting and human challenges of trying to find love and family in this mess makes this a brilliant film. Pretty much anyone who wants to survive needs to remain blindfolded whenever they are out and about, which makes us really appreciate our gifted health and visual abilities so much more. The gradual character and story development is top-notch in this sci-fi thriller/horror. 
  5. A Quiet Place: John Krasinski from The Office takes up a serious role and kills it in this horror movie where everyone must remain quiet to survive. The first ten minutes of the movie is absolutely heartbreaking and really sets the tone for the rest of it. Without giving out spoilers, all I can say is this is an absolute must watch for those who enjoy steady story building and can handle being on edge for prolonged periods of the movie…while you watch them attempt to lead a normal life while expecting things to go wrong at any moment!

Those are the 5 Must Watch Horror/Thrillers that I recommend for this Halloween! Hope you enjoy them and don’t forget to leave us a comment about which one you liked the most. 

TREND ALERT: DHAKA’S VERY OWN NAIL BAR

Lifestyle

By Sanjana A

Right from the second you walk into this makeshift nail salon, you are greeted by the owner Amani Mulk herself and immediately you can tell it’s a very relaxed setting. Chatting with her during the entire duration of my luxurious manicure-pedicure, I learned about her venture which goes by the name Polish Me Splendid. In just a little over a month, Amani says the response she got from sheer word-of-mouth referrals by friends and family, has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Even though Dhaka has some salons that do nail art and nail extensions as such, it does lack a specialized nail bar that is dedicated to premium quality nail art with diverse designs, embellishments, themes and more. Such was the thought process behind starting this nail salon, says the chartered accountant turned entrepreneur. The next two-and-a-half hours while she worked on my nails, she talked through the different types of services she offers and how she had taken an elaborate course to acquire this skill. She loves having fun with nail designs and she wants to share that experience with other girls. She intends to cater to a market that remained untapped until now.

Amani has two staff currently supporting her at the nail bar that’s getting the job done, so it’s advisable to make a prior appointment before you visit. What I loved was how Amani was present there throughout this entire process and was also pitching in every now and then with her own suggestions and improvisations; that truly did make a difference.

The girls used a homemade scrub for the pedicure before getting started on the nails, which in my opinion felt really nice. They repeated the same thing on my hands. As for the nails I went for, it was a set of Polygel Nail extensions with a classic Red Matte Gel Polish finish nail design, glammed up with rhinestones and metallic bow embellishments as well as golden glitter. They also did a gel polish on my feet. The end result looked splendid (pun intended)! 

The owner talked me through Polish Me Splendid’s nail services which presently include Polygel and Acrylic Nails, Gel Polish manicure and pedicure and a wide range of nail accessories that make your nails look as though they were adorned with jewelry.

Polygel: Among these, Polygel is the safest and the most durable one. Even though they initially started with the Acrylic ones, soon after they saw the chemicals it exuded was toxic and harmful so once Polygel was introduced in their collection, they encouraged more people to go for that. As for Gel extensions, they don’t last too long so if people prefer to have them done for a week or so you may prefer them. In addition to all these, they have Gel Manicure where they use all their organic products for the manicure then they apply gel nailpolish on natural nails. This one is very popular among those who don’t want the extensions but still have beautiful nails.

Gel Pedicure: The Gel Pedicure is well loved by everyone as the Gel Polish lasts for a long time even if you’re wearing trainers and closed shoes. They also have a lot of nail art and accessories that resemble jewels. Although the owner says her favourite nail is a different one each time, if she had to pick one as Polish Me Splendid’s signature nail style it would be the French Manicure, where they put on Chantilly Lace sticker with pearls, stones and glitters that appears just perfect for weddings! She also picked out the signature ombre which is known as the baby boomer ombre where they do intricate stonework and a signature purple where they use purple shimmer and fuchsia pigments adorned with glitter and stonework. Initially when they started they thought the response would stem from women of ages between 21-50, but in reality what they’re getting is 13-65. So that has been overwhelming in itself. Also inquiring about the durability of the nails, she says while it varies from person to person but what they thought and what they are seeing from customers is totally different, what that means is that they didn’t expect the nails to go beyond the second week but here they are now getting pictures from happy customers with pretty nails fourth week running. While few have said the polish coming off by the end of the second week, it does depend on the amount of oil coming out naturally but they obviously try their best and if things do go right it should last three weeks without any maintenance after which you can do an infill however she recommends after the third or fourth week to take the nails out letting them breathe for a week and then do it again. 

Photo Credit: Sanjana A.

Talking about future endeavours, Amani Mulk says since this has only been a soft launch from her own home, so she does have an official launch coming up in the month of December when she’ll have a full service nail salon that specializes in nail technology. She also has plans for the salon to branch out from currently Gulshan 2 to Gulshan 1, Uttara and Dhanmondi and beyond the capital too eventually. Another exciting addition she mentions is introducing lash extensions to her nail bar which I’m sure many women would find fascinating. 

Photo Credit: Sanjana A.

While we discussed the pricing of getting these nails done she says the price for Polygel Nails is 5000 taka, however initially when they began they set it as 3000 taka but from the huge positive  response they got on the quality and longevity of the nails they decided to mark it up as it wasn’t covering their costs and also it does take two to three hours to get them done. She does say people have responded to it well however it should not cost any more than this for anyone to get their nails done. 

My overall experience was a very happy one as I came home with beautiful nails that are still going great after ten days. Although a bit heavy on the wallet, I think if you’ve a special occasion coming up you can glam your nails up it is surely worth it. Besides, it does last almost a month so that does justify the price.

Photo Credit: Sanjana A.

10 Steps to Recover From (Crushing) Credit Card Debt!

Adulting, Money

By Faria Ahmed

Yes, you are a millennial and yes you swore to never use that credit card unless necessary and to pay back whatever you spent within a few days of swiping that card. Unfortunately, you and I both know that sometimes life happens. You fall sick and miss a few shifts at work. Things come up and your already small earnings have to be used for something other than paying back the credit card debt. And so it begins: the cycle of only paying the minimum amount due, and allowing your interest to rise. Before you know it, a year has passed and while you were chipping away at that original credit amount, a few more urgent expenses had to be made on that same card. The good news is that you are not the only one on that boat. The vicious cycle of credit card debt has sucked many of us young adults into a deep hole from which it seems nearly impossible to rise back up. The silver lining here is that it’s possible to come out of it!

Credit Card, Coins, and alcoholic beverage bottles in an artistic collage.
Photo Credit: Faria Ahmed

I myself have recovered from crushing credit card debt which I had incurred primarily on two occasions. Firstly, I went nearly three months without employment when I had finished school and was actively looking for jobs. I was working part-time at minimum wage but it was nowhere enough to let me keep up with my basic living costs. Second time, I had to get an emergency procedure done for my cat to survive. He was otherwise young and healthy and this one-time life-saving procedure cost me $3000 because I didn’t have cat insurance (that’s a story for another day). So the living expenses plus procedure cost came to about $7000 and while I was only making minimum payments, the interest charges and other costs brought it up to $10,000 in a short amount of time. 

Yes, I was 27-years old and just starting a full-time minimum wage job and I had a credit card debt of $10,000. At that point, I was trying to pay at least $200-$300 a month into that card, but my interest charges had risen to $190. So, I was basically just paying the interest amount. This is when I knew I needed a way out. 

I would feel suffocated every time I thought about that debt and what it meant. I couldn’t sleep at night whenever it popped into my mind and the only way to remain sane was by pretending it didn’t exist. Let me be very honest – pretending like it wasn’t there did nothing to solve the problem. That problem kept sitting there and growing, and instigating anxiety in me, until one day I became determined to find a way out. This is how I did it:

1. Assess the Financial Damage

The first thing you need to do is be calm, and take out all our credit cards, bank statements, etc. and make a total list of all the debt you have, on what card or cards and their respective interest rates. This will help you to figure out exactly what the total damage is and which disaster you need to manage first (i.e. which card has the highest interest rate). 

2. Measure Income & Cost of Living

The second thing you need to do is to check how much you earn each month and what is the absolute minimum that you can live on. Ideally, you will be able to cut you living costs and live extremely frugally until you have your debt paid off. This means, you need to find ways of cutting down your living cost so it is no more than half of your income.

3. Pay off Debt Proportionally

Now, use your remaining income (not used for living expenditures) and put that full amount directly into the credit card(s). If you have more than one, split it up so that more goes into the one that has the highest interest rate. 

4. Increase Your Income (& Sources of Income)

If it’s possible, try to find a job that pays more per hour even if it means a bit more work or a longer commute. Alternately, try to pick up some extra weekend and holiday shifts at work or find a second weekend job to help with additional income. Commit your full earnings from this added income to pay off your credit card debt. 

5. Borrow from Family/Spouse

I know this is not an option for a lot of people, however, if you can borrow the money to pay off your credit card debt from a family member or a friend who can afford to live without the money for a few years, it’s a good option for you considering they won’t charge you any interest. 

A dollar sign made up of Canadian coins including quarters, dimes, and twonies.
Photo Credit: Faria Ahmed

6. Liquidate Assets

I would not be selling land or an apartment. However, if you have something that is not drastically increasing in value as it sits there (like a car, a motorbike, a fancy watch collection, a branded purse collection), it may be time to give it up. Try to sell it to the highest bidder to recover as much as you can and put it towards your debt. You can even consider dipping into any savings bonds, coin collections, electronics, etc. that you think you can live without and sell it to recover cash and pay off part of your debt. 

7.Transfer to a Lower Interest Account

Often banks give offers of moving over debt that you have with departmental store credit cards, other banks and financial institutions and moving it over to your bank. This can come with incentives of offering you a reduced interest rate, or even keeping that transferred debt amount at 0% interest for 6 months or other such offers. This can allow you to have some time to catch up on your savings and be able to pay to reduce the original amount of the loan down instead of just paying the interest portion of it. Speak to your main banking institution and see if they have any such offers available. However, make sure you are going to a trusted and recognized bank, and not accepting such offers from loan sharks or small/new financial institutions. Small, new institutions may have fine print stating that once the 0% interest timespan passes, the interest may climb back up to being even more high than the original rate you had with your departmental store credit card. So, before transferring over the money, make sure you know all the information ahead of time.

8. Credit Card Consolidation

This should be a last resort. Remember that by consolidating your credit card, you are going to severely mess up your credit score. This means any loans in the near future may be more difficult to get. Having said that, if you have reached the point where the maximum amount you are putting into your credit card each month is solely paying off the interest and nothing more – it’s time to consider consolidation. What most banks do (and please go to a legitimate bank and not some loan shark), is that they will pay off your credit card and you will need to close it down immediately. Then, they will move over your loan to their institution at a much lower interest level. This means the credit card can no longer be used, to ensure you can no longer spend more. Secondly, your loan amount is now a personal loan which has automatic withdrawals from your bank account each month (usually) to pay off a minimum amount so you can pay it off in 5-10 years. While most departmental store credit cards charge an interest of 19.99-29.99%, the consolidated personal loan will charge you around 8-9%. This will allow you to pay off and chip away at the actual debt instead of just paying the interest. 

9. Loan Forgiveness/Declaring Bankruptcy

In some cities and countries, there are government loan relief grants. I have very little knowledge of them, but most of them are for large sums of loans which are about $15,000 or more in amount. You need to prove that you are unable to contribute any more of your income to pay off the debt or that you are unable to generate at income due to medical or other problems. Due to this poor financial situation, you will have to declare bankruptcy and a large portion of your loan may be forgiven or transferred over to another agency to whom you will pay a very small amount of money for a very very very long period of time. From what I have heard and read, this has a devastating impact on your credit score and any chances of becoming eligible for a mortgage or a car loan in the near future are slim to none. Compared to this, consolidated credit cards can actually allow you to eventually recover your credit score once you start paying it off. The only time I would encourage you to approach declaring bankruptcy as a solution is if you are on the verge of financial collapse and/or being chased by debt collectors. 

10. Close down your cards (But SLOWLY)

Once you begin to recover from credit card debt, it is a good idea to close down the credit cards so it doesn’t create temptation for next time. Keep any ONE credit card with a $1000 limit for emergencies and return the remaining ones once you have paid them off. However, do not close down multiple credit cards within a span of a few months as it can hamper your credit score. Spread it out over 6 months to one year.

So there you have it. There were some of the options I used myself when I came out of crushing debt of a little over $10,000. It’s difficult but it is possible and once you live life without using (or over-using) credit cards – I promise you that you will sleep so much better without financial anxiety hovering over you.

****Our Blog was featured in Feedspot’s Top 100 Millennial Blogs on the Web!***

Tinder? Grindr? Muzmatch? Which Dating App is right for you?

Adulting

By Faria Ahmed

If you are new in the dating game (or at least new in the digital part of dating), then this brief review and dating road-map is for you! I bet you heard from friends that there was an app called Tinder where you can go to meet people, something that has become very difficult to do in this day and age. You’re not wrong, but there’s so much more to that. Each dating app in the market now has its own niche and people go on them with a different set of expectations! You can’t go on a dating site known for ‘hook-ups’ and get upset that you didn’t find people who are seeking meaningful relationships. That’s why I decided to give you a review from my personal experiences of using these apps and set up your expectations from each of them!

Image result for Tinder Logo

  • Tinder: I’m pretty sure that Tinder is by far the most popular dating app out there and one of the first to start the swipe-right to match mechanism. Almost everyone I have ever spoken to, have at least heard of tinder, if not the other dating apps. However, what started off as a dating app currently has the image of a casual-dating/hook-up spot even though the brand does not exclusively market themselves as such. Now, I am making this assumption purely based on my experiences in how it worked for me in Canada and for a little while in the United Kingdom. So, speaking from experience, if you are looking to meet people for more than coffee, fun, cuddles and sex then Tinder may not be the most effective place to find that. Having said that, many people I know have actually met their life partners on tinder; they have dated for years and eventually gotten married. But the app and its general vibe are constantly evolving and I believe it currently has a more casual dating feel as of 2019.
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  • Bumble: Unlike Tinder, where both parties need to match and either person can message, bumble exclusively needs the woman to begin the chat. If you two match but the lady doesn’t text, the portal opening will expire and you will become automatically unmatched. For whatever reason, this has made bumble into a much more serious dating platform. In many platforms men approach a dozen women each day, only to be ghosted or ignored due to the gender ratio on the apps or other reasons. However, that problem is counteracted on by this app, where only women interested in a man’s profile will reach out to him. If the man in return does not respond, they will get unmatched. So, the app allows both parties to gradually check out each other’s profiles and only begin talking if there is some level of interest to begin with. Not that I didn’t have some bad dates on bumble, as with any other app, but they were fewer in number and most dates were in general higher in quality. Almost every date I have ever been on through this app, allowed me to meet a nice person who was also looking for something real. Sometimes after one or two dates we felt we were different people so we stopped talking. But, not once have I been drowned by dick picks or unwanted approaches on here. It was almost like a big pool of nice guys and gentlemen out there and we were all trying to figure out who is the right fit for who. I might be biased because I met my current boyfriend through this app, but bumble is the way to go if you’re looking for the real deal.
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  • Plenty of Fish: Now this app has completely no swiping or matching requirements. You can message anyone you want which does remove a lot of the annoying complications of the other apps. However, what it also does is open you up to get a million messages from strangers whose profiles you may never have been interested in to begin with. I had to spend quite a bit of time blocking people and ignoring messages. Nonetheless, they weren’t kidding when they said the term ‘plenty’ of fish. The app does make one feel hopeful that there’s a lot of fish in the pond to choose from and you can meet some weirdos but also some very nice people on it. I met my ex of two years on this site, and the very first message from him was enough to tell me that we would be dating. In hindsight, I don’t think I would go back to app if I were to become single again. This is simply because as I’m growing older, I no longer have the patience to sift through the million messages to find a data-able man.
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  • Muzmatch: As a brown, Muslim woman from a moderately conservative family I wasn’t enjoying all the ‘hook-up’ vibes of many of the dating apps. That’s what made me seek out muzmatch (which stands for Muslim match). An app made for Muslims to get to know each other with the intention of serious dating and eventually getting married. While the app is designed for that purpose and actually asks for your level of religiousness etc. to figure out the most compatible life partner, the people using it have turned it into a hook-up app. I was initially very happy to see that there’s also lots of other Muslims who were in the middle of the religiousness meter, who held some liberal values like myself, but also enjoyed discussing and practicing some elements of our faith. Yet, all the men on there that I interacted with either wanted to get married tomorrow, or wanted to hook up just like on other dating apps. I was annoyed by this and when I talked about it with some of my other Muslim guy friends that used the app, they told me it’s an app for Muslims to sleep with Muslims. Which seems absurd to me, seeing that a big part of being Muslim was supposed to be the not-sleeping-around part. Nonetheless, my friends had been meeting other girls who were modestly dressed, often wore hijabs but were open for hook-ups. That seemed to be a flavour of the app. In fact, right before I left, I began seeing a lot of non-Muslim men on there too who were showing up on the app to try and hook-up with Muslim women. I’m not judgmental of Muslim men and women being empowered by or being in control of their sexuality and sexual experiences. However, it’s not why I had gone on to that app to begin with, so I left soon after.
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  • Dil Mil: This app has a pretty brilliant concept in that it has made a platform for all the ‘desi’ people to get to know each other, make friends and date. The reason I loved this concept is because south-Asians, despite all the differences in languages and religions, actually share a very similar culture. We enjoy a lot of the same family values, lifestyle choices, approach to life, festivals, history, literature, entertainment and so much more. That allows people from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries in the region to share a common set of experiences. I was on this app for a very short time, because I actually realized that I wanted to date someone who had less in common with me and my culture as I found it refreshing. Nonetheless, while I was on there, I met some great people and I’m still friends with a few of them. We bonded over our love of Bengali food and South Asian politics! I can’t comment on whether it’s a more serious app or a dating one, but it seems fair game to anyone looking to date within their culture.
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  • Grindr: My experience of grindr is quite limited since I have never actually used it myself. I believe it is an app for gay men as well as bisexual, trans sexual and queer individuals. Some of my closest friends who are gay and bi have shared their experiences about the app with me. From what they said, it seems like Grindr is pretty much a hook-up app with the once-in-a-blue moon chance of meeting someone with serious intensions and ending up in a long-term relationship.
  • Other Dating Apps:There’s definitely more dating apps that I have also heard of but never actually used. These would include OKCUPID, Hinge, Coffee meets Bagel and so many more. I have only tried the more popular ones because they seemed to have more people on them and so I would have a greater chance of finding mr. right on them!

There’s also special dating apps which are less conventional like 3nder (for threesomes), and ones I don’t have knowledge of like Her (for lesbians), Clover (Queer Friendly), and an endless list which keeps growing each day as companies understand the needs of consumer groups better. Of course the ones I have reviewed like Bumble can also be used to find both hetero- and homo- partners just by tweaking the preferences. Due to my limited sphere of experience, I will definitely be trying to collaborate with my friends who have tried these different ones and doing another review in the future.

So there you have it, my personal review of the major dating apps out there that I have personally tried and tested! I hope it helps you to navigate your way around the digital dating jungle!

Canadian Millennials reveal where they stand on important policies, platforms, and voting decisions this election

Adulting

Last week, I interviewed four Canadian millennial voters and asked them who they are voting for in this upcoming federal election and why! (Read that article here). Today I delve deeper into understanding what my millennial peers are thinking about the most important policy issues that took the front stage this election. The responses are extremely interesting and reveals the perspectives of each voter through a fun round of rapid fire on hot policy issues. 

Photo Credit: Hasan Ul Mokaddes

Each participant was asked a question individually and they answered as honestly as they could through a promise of anonymity. This is what they had to say:

Q. What is your take on the role and responsibility of Canada to reduce its carbon footprint? What and how much should Canada do?

I promised myself to not comment on these responses, but I must bring your attention to two responses in Question 1. Please take a look at the responses from the Conservative Voter and the Green Voter.
Photo Credit: Hasan Ul Mokaddes

Q. What is your take on the immigration & refugee policies that Canada has had and in what direction do you think they should be headed?

This appeared to be the only issue where all four voters agreed with each other.
Photo Credit: Hasan Ul Mokaddes

Q. What is your take on recent cuts to OSAP grants and changes to the loan repayment time? What do you think should be done with regards to student grants & loans for Canadian students?

Q. What is your take on the first-time home buyer’s loan?

Q. What is your take on the trans mountain oil pipeline?

Q. What is your take on NAFTA and Canada’s trade relationship with the United States? 

Q. What is your take on Canada’s small business loans?

Q. What is your take on Canada’s tax cuts for corporations that help create jobs?

Through these few questions from these four individuals, I didn’t expect in any way to get a full or representative picture of what the majority of voters in such voters bases think of. Rather, I wanted to share how diverse our perspective could be, even when we come from the same city, same university, same age group and the same gender. The drastic differences in perspectives was something I had expected to find. What remains interesting to me is the difference in knowledge and interest depending on the issues that each individual held close to their heart and those that do not effect them. I’m happy to see that we have some level of interest and participation in the election from among fellow millennials. Yet, the difficulty of finding people who were interested or aware enough to give me this interview painted a darker picture. Most friends I had approached had said they either have no interest in politics or they took a look at the interview questions and said they simply didn’t know enough to be commenting on any of the platforms and policies in discussion. Nonetheless, from among the young adults who chose to remain aware and engaged in policies, this is where we stand on these four political parties. I hope we can all go and vote to represent our generation – no matter which party we end up voting for.

Who did Canada’s millennials end up voting for? Read our review of the published statistics leading up to the election.

Canada’s Millennials Speak Up: Who’s voting for who and why!

Adulting, News

By Faria Ahmed

Photo Credit: Hasan Ul Mokaddes

For the first time on Millennial Things Blog, I interviewed four Canadian Millennial Voters, each voting for one of the four major political parties in the upcoming Federal Election (unfortunately I could not find anyone from Bloc Quebecois). These four individuals, all between the ages of 18-30, shared their perspectives on the political party they had decided to vote for and the issues that were driving that decision. 

As I began the interviews, I was curious to find out how four young men, all with similar levels of education, all living in the same part of Canada, with similar personal and economic goals in life, could have such different takes on what is best for Canada and how to get there. 

*Disclaimer: All four participants interviewed requested to remain anonymous. All four individuals interviewed are Canadian Citizens, eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 30, they are all male and they all plan on voting in this upcoming federal election in October 2019. The interviewed individuals were from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. All four participants reported that their ethnic or religious background had some level of influence in their voting decisions.* 

For the first portion of the interview, I asked them questions to better understand who they are voting for, their alternate choices, and the policy issues that were guiding their decision-making process this election. 

Q.1. Which three issues are the most important for you, on the basis of which you haven chosen to vote for a candiate/political party this year:

It was interesting to see that there wasn’t a specific set of issues that my millennial peers were prioritizing. Income taxes, environmental policies and healthcare were among the top three issues that seemed to come up among all four voters, yet they paid varying degrees of importance to them. Unsurprisingly, the conservative voter believed that balancing the country’s budget and improving upon economic growth should be a priority. So, I went ahead to ask exactly what about these core issues was driving them towards their preferred political party.

Q.2. Please explain what positions they have taken on these issues which convinced you to vote for them:

Liberal Voter: “I’m voting for Liberals because in my home riding, the toss-up is between the Liberals and the Conservatives. While my political views generally align with the NDP, the potential personal costs of a Conservative government simply outweigh any harm done by the Liberals. In a toss-up race I would always vote for the leading left option.”

I wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear this take. Many many liberal voters who weren’t very happy with Trudeau’s past term had told me the same thing. They would much rather have an NDP victory, however, the NDP numbers were nowhere close enough. They feared a conservative victory much more than they were disappointed by the Liberals. It saddened me to see that, much like the last US election, people were being asked to choose a ‘lesser evil’ than being asked to vote for who they truly admired or who they believed proposed the best policies. People in the US who were then disappointed in the Democratic Party, were then being asked to vote for Hillary Clinton, in fear of allowing a greater evil (i.e. Trump) from gaining access to the While House. I do not support the idea of placing that burden on the public to ensure the worse candidate does not get power, but that’s a rant for another day. 

Conservative Voter: “I believe their platform compared to others is the least committed to regulating the freedom of citizens. Compared to other parties they are more committed to free expression, low taxes, protecting the life of babies in the womb and are business friendly. Also, compared to other conservative parties like the Libertarian party and People’s party of Canada, the progressive conservatives actually have a shot at winning.”

Again, a voter was making a choice (partialy) on the basis on who has a chance of winning while being representative of their ideologies. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this statement from the conservative voter because it made me realize how differently we view ‘freedom’. This voter was absolutely correct about how the CP party as well as their values may promote freedom of speech and other such rights devoid of government regulation. The voter is probably also indicating the lax regulations when it comes to industry, community, and so on under a CP government. At the time time, I couldn’t help but take into consideration my own ideas of freedom. Freedom of religious practice and freedom of choosing my own sexual or gender identity devoid of harassment or hate speech is something I can only enjoy when the ‘rights’ of some citizens to share ‘hate speech’ is curbed. I also noted that the voter’s idea of freedom did not extend to the right of a woman to choose an abortion, and instead focused on the right of the fetus. I won’t go too deep on this issue in this article today as I want to share a more general overview of who is voting for who and why. Overall, it is apparent that individual freedom and religious principles did play an important role in the voting perception of this voter and it’s something that we need to understand better to making policies that can truly represent the whole population.   

NDP Voter: “I’m hoping for a minority government as I do not want either Liberals or Conservatives with majority”. 

I absolutely understand this position. I can clearly see how unhappy people are with both liberals are conservatives, and voting NDP is a strategic way to ensure neither of the two main political parties can gain unchallenged power through the formation of a minority government. NDP on the other hand is a party that has had a fair amount of influence in Canadian politics as one of the three main political parties, but never won the election. Some consider them a bit too left leaning, other think they make absolute sense but have no real shot at winning the election for many years to come. 

Green Voter: “Generally speaking, I don’t trust the Liberal or Conservative Party enough to keep their promises. I don’t support enough Conservative policies anyway. I generally trust the NDP, but, they’re too similar to the Liberal Party. The Green Party has costed their platform and proposed a 20-step plan for tackling climate change; the NDP has no emissions target, Jagmeet takes no clear stance in the debates, and they don’t even have a climate plan.”

Again, what I could see was the distrust and disappointment of the two major political parties among my millennial peers. I felt throughout this interview that the NDP had a perfect opportunity this election to come in and deliver to the public what the liberals and conservatives had been failing to do, but they had simply missed the mark. While this particular green voter had gone with their rationale and decided to vote for a party with the most elaborate environment policy platform, many others who I had spoken to had told me that while they agree with green, their vote would be ‘wasted’ on a party with no chance of actually winning. 

This brings me back to the understanding that voters no longer vote on the basis of actual policies and their admiration of politicians. People now vote strategically. They look at the current reality of who have the most chances of actually taking power as the elected government. They use their votes strategically based on the desired outcome. If they want a party with a small lead to win, they will vote for an opposition or one of the smaller parties, in order to ‘waste’ the vote. If they want a balance of power, they will vote for a chance at getting a minority government. Even if they love a party’s platform, they may not vote for them just because that party is polling at 5% leading up to the election. 

While this attitude towards voting may be quite realistic, I personally find it upsetting. The reason it bothers me is that the smaller parties who may have great ideas for policy reform may not be able to grow through increased seats each election year, simply because of this voting attitude. This will keep our larger parties in power despite their failures and keep our smaller parties struggling to find some limelight.  

Q.3. If your chosen party was not running in this election, which party would you have alternatively voted for? 

Liberal Voter: I would vote NDP

Conservative Voter: I would vote Liberal

NDP Voter: I would vote Conservative

Green Voter: I would vote NDP

Q.4. Which is the one party in Canada’s Federal election that you would never vote for (e.g. you disagree with some of their fundamental platforms)? Please explain briefly why.

Liberal Voter: I would never vote for the PPC (People’s Party of Canada) based on their purposed policies regarding social security, taxation, immigration. As well as the bigoted language and beliefs of their leader and many of their candidates.

Conservative Voter: NDP, although never say never. NDP are explicitly Socialist and Socialism is a failed ideology.

NDP:   No party. They all make ‘some’ degree of sense in their own ways. This is the problem with a “right vs left” mentality. 

Green Voter: Conservative. Broadly speaking, I don’t like how averse to change, in a word- conservative, the Conservative Party is. 

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For the second part of the interview, I didn’t add remarks to share the most unbiased and raw form of the voters’ responses. I kept their responses entirely unedited. It was pretty much a rapid fire round about what each candidate’s take on some of the hottest political issues facing millennials this election. Read this second part here.

Who are Canada’s Millennials voting for in the end? Here’s is our review of the published statistics leading up to the election!