All Articles Tagged "planning"

Get Organized: 10 Fun and Functional Planners for the Busy Mom

November 10th, 2014 - By Rich
Share to Twitter Email This

In this digital age of Google calendars, phone apps and other technology that allow us the ability to easily merge and share our calendar with another person, there is absolutely no shortage of digital tools to help us manage our busy lives.

Living in a technology dependent society will easily make you forget the simpler days of life like keeping your schedule in an actual planner where your life instead of being typed in via your phone was instead neatly…or not so neatly written into mini squares on actual paper.

Actual paper! For many, myself included; much like the feel of turning pages in a book instead of swiping your finger across a screen there is something amazing about putting ink to paper for scheduling in a pretty or whimsical planner. I have spent more time than necessary at any box retailer looking for the perfect planner and then making a pit stop at the ink pen aisle to make sure all of my obligations are properly color coded so that I know at a glance what my tasks will be for the month, weeks and days ahead.

A good ink pen and the perfect planner is very much a necessity for many people. While the App or Google store is a handy little tool that allows you to view all of the planning technology you could ever want finding the perfect tangible planner isn’t so easy.

Here is a look at 10 functional, and fun planners to help you organize your life on paper. Don’t forget to set the reminders in your phone!

Get Organized: 10 Fun and Functional Planners for the Busy Mom

12 Signs Your Man’s Financial Future Is Bleak

May 21st, 2013 - By Madame Noire
Share to Twitter Email This
Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

From YourTango

Balancing the family budget requires teamwork and setting common goals. People who are in love support each other through thick and thin—through good and bad financial times. Before you decide that he’s the right guy to marry, you need to take a serious look at how he views financial goals, choices and commitments.

Since the number one cause of disagreements in marriages is financial, it’s critical to observe if the guy you think you want to marry exhibits any of these 12 warning signs:

1. You are not on the same financial page. In fact, you disagree about almost all financial goals, choices, and commitments.

2. When you quiz him about his personal budget, it’s clear that he doesn’t have one. When you suggest that budgeting is a good thing and try to show him how to prepare a financial budget, he acts disinterested or feigns interest and never goes any further with the budgeting process.

3. Rather than pay off his credit cards each month, he pays the minimum. He often pays late or doesn’t pay them at all. This is a regular occurrence because he never seems to have enough money to pay his bills.

4. He is often out of work. He blames other people, the high unemployment rate or other circumstances beyond his control for his lack of employment. He often says that it’s just a temporary situation, but even when he’s working he doesn’t seem to keep a job for very long.

5. He excessively spends his money without regard to his income. It seems that he’s living far beyond his ability to support that level of lifestyle. When he wants something, he buys it without regard to what it costs or how he will pay for it.



Life Without Your Spouse: Are You Insured?

February 1st, 2013 - By Rich
Share to Twitter Email This

A week ago a good friend’s husband died suddenly and tragically. In addition to grieving, she now had the task of planning a funeral and scrambling to get together money to bury him. Yes, despite them being fairly successful, they were without life insurance. According to Money Central, 35 million American households are without insurance and 11 million include children under the age of 18.

To die early is tragic but to die without insurance can be a burden on one’s family. When my oldest son was 1, I took out an insurance policy on his father (now my husband). I had already taken a policy on both me and the baby but I needed our whole family covered. When I first told him of my intentions, he said, “Why do you need to do that?” He was adamant that he was NOT going to sign any paperwork because he was going to live forever. After countless arguments of me pointing out how “messy” it gets when someone suddenly dies and there’s no insurance money or will he finally signed the papers. When that paperwork was signed, I breathed a sigh of relief that in case a horrific accident occurred, I would not be burdened with having to raise money to bury him or vice versa.

Here are three tips for buying (and maintaining) life insurance:

Do your research before buying a policy. There are different types of insurance available to buy such as whole life and term life insurance. Know your needs and pick accordingly.

Review your policy annually. Once you get your policy, check with your agent every year to determine if you need to adjust anything. You can increase your insurance amount or look for available discounts.

Make sure you pay on time. Have your premiums automatically withdrawn from your bank account so there’s never a gap in policy coverage due to you forgetting to make a payment.

Ultimately, life insurance is never an easy topic to discuss but it’s a conversation that you must have to ensure that your loved ones are not struggling once you’re gone.

Have you gotten life insurance on yourself and/or your family? Let us know why or why not?


9 Steps To Get Focused For 2013

December 28th, 2012 - By C. Cleveland
Share to Twitter Email This


Don’t you love that quiet lull the office falls into between Christmas and New Year’s Day? With clients and coworkers traveling for the holidays, the workplace can feel like an adult version of Home Alone. But, there are better things to do with your downtime than playing Facebook games or building towers out of office supplies with your cubicle mates. This is the perfect time of year to gain perspective on 2012, and get focused for the New Year. Follow these steps to make sure your mind is right for 2013.

Holiday Fighting: Go To Your Corners Please

December 24th, 2012 - By Rich
Share to Twitter Email This

Does it seem as though you and your loving mate are at each others throats more than normal? Your fuse is short and you have no patience for the things he normally says or does that bug the $*&^ out of you. Don’t worry, you’re not imagining things, the hustle and bustle can easily turn from yuletide cheer to a screaming match that ends in doors slamming and a lonely night on the couch. I think what we want men to understand is that we are under an unbelievable amount of pressure at this time of year. We have to decorate the house, buy clothes for the kids and possibly you to take holiday pictures, we have to address a hundred envelopes and mail holiday cards, we’re cooking more, cleaning more, and there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all!

So can’t you just be extra nice around this time? Instead of giving us hell for spending exorbitant amounts of money, offer to help carry the bags in or have a hot bath drawn when we get home; we’re tired! Also, maybe we don’t want to go to your mother’s house and suffer through the stories that your uncle wants to tell just so he can get a grimy peek at our cleavage etc. I guess what I’m saying is that during this time, cut us some slack and give us a pass. It’s sort of like when we were pregnant and behaved unreasonable for absolutely no apparent reason as far as you could see. Here are some common things that couples fight about during this time, and how to handle them.

1. All About The Benjamins
Your husband probably thinks you’ve been spending way too much money over the past month or so and let’s face it ladies, you have. Either cut back on the spending or get better at hiding the merchandise.

2. In Laws
Even if you are somewhat fond of your in laws, having extra people hanging around the house can be overwhelming to an already tense situation. By splitting the visiting time, you can avoid feeling as though your space is being invaded by invading theirs.

3. Gift Giving
You can’t buy gifts for everyone so stop trying. Several years ago my family decided to pull names so that we all don’t go broke trying to buy for one another. If you adopt our tradition, you’ll only be responsible for one gift! (it really does save money)

4. Make Time For Yourselves
Be sure you’re not caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays to the point that you’re not spending quality time together. Go out of your way to spend one on one time with your mate to let them know you appreciate them.


Words by Sid Powell

Sid Powell is the NAACP-nominated screenplay writer of ‘Somebody’s Child’, a mother of two, and the owner of SIDPo Productions. Read more about how SIDPo Productions is ‘Changing Everything’ at

Get Your Bags Ready! How To Plan The Perfect Girlfriend’s Getaway

July 27th, 2012 - By madamenoire
Share to Twitter Email This


From BlackVoices

The experience of a vacation with your closest girlfriends is an unforgettable one. It gives you the chance to reinforce the bonds that you have and allows you to form new memories. To make the most out of your girlfriends getaway trip, read our tips below:


  • Determine who’s traveling, select a destination, and set a date. Inform the essential parties (boss and co-workers, spouse, family, babysitter) and organize yourself well in advance so that everyone is prepared for your departure.
  • Share in the duties of planning by dividing up the responsibilities so that each girlfriend takes ownership of the logistics: airfare, hotel, rental car, restaurants and attractions
  • Bring recent photos to visually update each other on your lives

Get the rest of the travel-planning tips on


More on Madame Noire!

Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Tips For Renting Gowns & How to Get Flowers For the Low

April 20th, 2012 - By madamenoire
Share to Twitter Email This

By Taylor Lea Thomas


“Where may one go to rent a gown, dresses and accessories at a reasonable price? I need a reasonable website to rent a gown and accessories.”

Taylor’s Answer:

Regarding rentals, I’m unable to endorse any particular company due to the fact that I have not worked with one for renting gowns so I’d rather not since I won’t be able to vouch for their credibility. However, here are a few tips on rentals in general as you browse around during the wedding planning process:

Always, always, always read the fine print: Don’t be naïve in thinking all is fine and dandy. Since you’ll be renting personal items, be sure to know what you’re getting into and what the consequences might be in the event that the items you rent are lost, stolen, damaged, etc. Also, be sure that you get all fees clarified prior to signing any rental agreements so you don’t end up paying additional fees you were not aware of. Make and keep copies of everything. Make sure to write down the correct style number, item number, sku number and more to be sure that what you paid for is what you receive.

Obtain wedding insurance: It’s always best to expect the unexpected. With wedding insurance, depending on the type of policy you select, you will be covered in the event that the vendor goes out of business, fails to show up, etc. Some policies even cover loss of deposits. At Elite Soirée | Luxury Weddings, all clients are required to obtain wedding liability insurance, and I’d recommend the same for you regardless of your budget. It’s very, very affordable with some plans under $100. It’s worth having for piece of mind on your wedding day.

Order with ample time in advance: Since you won’t be using your own items, be sure to order all rentals with ample time in advance in the event that what you receive is not what you ordered. If you give yourself enough time, then any errors can be corrected without you having to incur additional rush shipping fees. Waiting until the last minute will only cause frustration, and that’s the last thing you want on your wedding day.

Thoroughly research for any bad reviews: Whenever I’m researching a company, I always read the bad reviews first because I already know why I’d consider spending money on that particular company, so I’m more interested in knowing why I should not. Sometimes a few companies do, unjustifiably, receive bad reviews from irate customers for no valid reason. It happens, and it’s unfortunate, especially for online companies, but it also does help in the decision process of whether or not to use that company’s services and/or products. Take what you read with a grain of salt since not all bad reviews are correct, but research thoroughly before renting any items.

Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Tips to Finding and Buying the Right Bridal Gown

April 4th, 2012 - By madamenoire
Share to Twitter Email This

By Taylor Lea Thomas



Soooo my dress isn’t flattering on me or my body shape! Help!!!!!

Taylor’s Answer:

Dear Miss I’m-Too-Swexy-For-My-Dress,

I’m assuming you mean that the style of dress you’ve always envisioned yourself being married in doesn’t look or fit the way you thought it would now that you’ve tried it on at the bridal salon. Well, at least I hope that’s what you mean, and not that you actually bought a dress you’re now stuck with. Or, perhaps it was passed down to you from a family member? Whatever the reason, and regardless of how you obtained it, you obviously don’t feel confident in it. Every bride should look and feel gorgeous, so here are a few tips to helping those planning a wedding find the right dress.

  • Your once-in-a-lifetime red carpet moment.

I understand your frustration because you want to look your best on your wedding day. Every bride does since all eyes will be on you, and your wedding photos last a lifetime. If the first is true – that the dress you envisioned wearing doesn’t look the way you thought it would – I strongly suggest that you make an appointment with a very good bridal salon to enlist the assistance of a gown consultant.

  • Consult with a pro.

Rely on the bridal salon consultant for her expertise. There are many different fabric types, gown styles, and variations of the color white that will be daunting for any bride to try to figure out. Leave it up to the consultant to help you in selecting a gown in a fabric and style that makes you feel as beautiful in it as you look.

  • Do a dress rehearsal before you buy.

As you’re trying on gowns, pay attention to the bustle so you can determine if you can sit and move in it comfortably. You’ll be busy during your wedding, so make sure the dress you choose can keep up with you. For instance: Try sitting, hug someone in the salon, do a little spin, dance a little, walk around for a bit, etc. After all, these are all of the things you will be doing. You won’t be standing in one place at your wedding, so give it a test run before buying.

  • Fabric matters.

Find something you like in a style, fabric, and design that flatters you, then worry about the cost. Even if you’re on a restricted budget, you can still try on some of those high-priced designer gowns. You may find a style and cut that suits you perfectly. Armed with that information, from there you can find the same style in a fabric that’s less expensive. Also, be sure to have a slip on so your undergarments won’t be seen when direct light is on it such as sunlight, or other bright lighting such as flashes from all the photos your guests will be taking of you. And lastly, before you buy that hot lace lingerie set from Victoria’s Secret, keep in mind that bra cups are usually sewn into the gown, and if the fabric is thin, your hot little lace number will show.

  • Being measured for your gown.

Be sure to have the shoes you plan on wearing so the length measurements can be done properly. Also, have the undergarments you’ll be wearing to suck you in, cinch your waist, lift your bust and more on during measurements. Note: If there is anyone else besides your doctor who will know, your seamstress would know if you’re pregnant, so be honest and upfront about it if you are since it will affect your measurements.

  • Gown shopping.

Only visit one salon at a time. Going to several salons in one day can be tiring, especially the laborious task of getting in and out of heavy wedding gowns. The fatigue and stress will affect how you feel and the way you see yourself by the time you get to your last salon appointment.

Taylor Lea Thomas is an award-winning celebrity luxury wedding planner, and CEO of Elite Soirée, Inc. – the #1 luxury wedding planning company in the world devoted to the art of creating luxury weddings with an emphasis on style! For more information, visit Follow Taylor on Twitter for more tips and advice as you navigate this wonderful milestone in your life of planning your wedding: @taylorleathomas

More on Madame Noire!

Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: 6 Things to Remember When Planning Your Wedding

April 3rd, 2012 - By madamenoire
Share to Twitter Email This

By Taylor Lea Thomas


Just engaged on Valentine’s Day! Help!!!


Congratulations on your engagement… and he proposed on Valentine’s Day! Awww, he’s so romantic. Remember to continue to keep the romance alive during your wedding planning progress. He started you on this wonderful journey you’re about to embark upon by proposing to the love of his life on the most romantic day of the year. Continue that romance throughout. Don’t switch it up on him during stressful times of wedding planning – and trust me, the stress will come. Here are some tips to guide you through the wedding planning process early on:

Give yourself plenty of time.

Enjoy the engagement period. Bask in the joy of all the well wishes and congratulatory hugs and kisses. It’s a good idea to space the wedding planning process over the course of a year. Some venues and churches have waiting lists for couples wanting to get married, and some of the best wedding planners and wedding photographers get booked quickly. By allowing yourself a lot of time to plan, you can enjoy this journey you’re about to embark upon with a little less stress.

Get organized.

Purchase a 3-ring binder with tab inserts. Keep proper record of everything – payments, vendor contracts, business cards, inspiration clippings from bridal magazines, guest list, etc. Purchase a calendar for things wedding related ONLY to keep track of appointments, meetings with vendors, cake tastings, menu sampling, scouting for the perfect venue, and more.

Don’t obsess over your wedding.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the things to be done in planning your wedding. A lot of my brides say to me, “I’ve never done this before,” and I always assure them that that’s a good thing, and that I hope they never have to plan another wedding again. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay if there are a few little hiccups here and there. It happens. No wedding is perfect in the same manner that no marriage is perfect. Relax, breathe and enjoy the process. You have a social life, friends and family. Do activities with them that don’t include talking about the wedding. Your wedding planning folder is not the Bible–it isn’t sacred. You don’t have to take it with you everywhere you go.

Remember that grooms are just not that into planning weddings.

Avoid bombarding your hubby-to-be with daily wedding things. I assure you that as much as he loves you, he’s not going to be as into the planning process as you are.  Grooms are notorious for that. It’s just like taking a man shopping for a dress or shoes – they’re just not as into it as women are. One of my favorite wedding quotes: “I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance, a church filled with family and friends. I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for, he said one that would make me his wife.” And that’s all that matters.

Keep it in perspective.

Your wedding day is one day. Put as much effort into your married life as you would in planning your wedding. You have the rest of your lives ahead of you. The one single thing that makes a marriage legal are the vows exchanged in front of the witnesses who sign. A lot of people are not aware of that. It’s not the marriage certificate; it’s the vows. Make the words you exchange on your wedding day meaningful and heartfelt and don’t feel like you have to go overboard if you don’t really want to with planning your big day.

Don’t go into debt planning your wedding.

Set a budget and do not be tempted to exceed it. Do not go into debt in planning your wedding. Nobody wants to start a union with the stress of extra financial debt hanging over their heads. Read my previous article on lowering your guest count as it will guide you on dealing with the guest list since that factor determines every other aspect of the wedding planning process.

More on Madame Noire!

Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Planning a Destination Wedding

March 27th, 2012 - By madamenoire
Share to Twitter Email This

By Taylor Lea Thomas


My question is about the average cost of a destination wedding in the Caribbean. How many people should be invited to a destination wedding?

Taylor’s Answer:

Dear Miss Caribbean-Bound,

I wouldn’t generalize it by saying there’s an average cost for a destination wedding in the Caribbean because there isn’t. It really depends on your budget, their schedule and your desired location.

Avoid high peak seasons.

Cost varies based on your desired location and wedding date. Before falling in love with a venue, make sure that it can accommodate all of your guests and that it fits within your budget. If the location you have in mind is well known for a particular event, such as Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago in February, realize that just about everything would be at a higher rate. Hotel rates especially would be at a premium. This is, of course, if you’re even able to book a room. So when scouting for locations, be sure to also ask about any upcoming events that may conflict with your wedding date.

Popular mass market wedding packages vs. personalized and private venues.

As you know, the Caribbean is vast with a myriad of stunningly beautiful venues to choose from. There are popular wedding destinations such as Jamaica and the Bahamas, for instance, where you’d be offered several cookie-cutter wedding packages to choose from at very affordable rates. With those packages, however, your wedding would look like the one before, and the wedding before that one, and so on. Thus, while those packages are very affordable in an effort to generate a lot of sales to the venue, realize that you’d be thrown into the tourist/foreigner wedding category. On the other hand, there are other uber-exclusive and very private locations where you can truly personalized your wedding knowing that your wedding would reflect you as a couple.

Your guest count depends on your budget and their schedule.

The number of people you invite to a destination wedding depends on your budget. Some rates are calculated on a per person system. The reception is intended to entertain your guests with food, drinks and great music for dancing. In addition to taking into consideration your budget to determine size for entertainment purposes, another factor is the schedules of the people you plan on inviting since some of them may not be able to attend. Send out save-the-dates well in advance so your guests can make the proper arrangements.

Keep costs down for both you and your guests.

Negotiate special rates to help your guests keep their costs down. Encourage your guests to stay at the same hotel where the wedding will be taking place as opposed to a different hotel. Keep in mind, if you have a certain number of rooms booked and too many people stay offsite, you’d end up paying for the room anyway.

More on Madame Noire!