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Patient shopper, savvy saver

The good bit is that saving for a house doesn’t have to be a lengthy, stressful and drawn-out affair. You need a good strategy and a level of patience though. And if you’re a savvy shopper already, then you’re going to stand in good stead when it comes to getting that deposit.

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Everyone loves to shop, right? Well, the biggest purchase that most people will ever make in their lives is that of their house. Choosing to go shopping for a house is a big deal, and if you are fortunate enough to be in a position of lining up viewings to go and make the biggest decision you could make for your wallet, embrace it. It’s not a position everyone is lucky enough to be in, and if you love to shop, this is about to be the best shopping trip of your life. The only real downside? The cost. A house is an expensive venture and you can’t just pick one off the shelf. There are rules, deposits, fees, legal requirements – so many hoops to jump through for the purchase of a house, and it’s all on you to ensure that you jump those hoops and make it work.

The good bit is that saving for a house doesn’t have to be a lengthy, stressful and drawn-out affair. You need a good strategy and a level of patience though. And if you’re a savvy shopper already, then you’re going to stand in good stead when it comes to getting that deposit.

Saving for a house deposit is an insane task, so you can’t look at the whole amount and try to save that. A good bit of advice is to break down those savings into more manageable bites; smaller goals are always far easier to achieve. The best piece of advice you will ever find is that you should be a far savvier shopper to get where you want to go. The more time that you put into saving, the bigger the deposit you will have, meaning that you could have far more choice for the home that you want, or you could put on a smaller deposit and use the rest of the cash to furnish the place. In the meantime, though, you need to decide whether you have the patience and the grit about you to manage to make the savings that you need to make and change your life to, well, change your life. Below, we’ve put together some of our favorite savings ideas to help you get to your dream home.

Shop Smart. A big part of buying a house is dreaming up how to furnish and decorate it, right? Well, if you start shopping at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DealDash, you’re going to get some fantastic deals and you’re able to bid on the items that you want. You could furnish your entire property and find some excellent statement pieces to ensure that your house is stylish and as up to date as your budget allows you to be.

Shop Savvy. You know your incoming and your outgoing amounts of money, right? Well, it’s time to look at what you buy and make some savvy swaps. Do you love the branded cheese at the store that costs $10? Did you know you could pretty much get the same flavor of cheese for $4 less by choosing the store brand? That $4 may not seem like a lot, but when you buy cheese every week, you could move that little bit of cash into your savings account and boom, you’ve saved $200 in a year. Being smart about your swaps while you shop can really make a huge dent in your savings account, and you won’t be putting anything to waste while you do it. You have to still make yourself happy, though, so don’t swap to things that you genuinely don’t like.

Income Smart. When you get your paycheck, you’ve already divided it up to go where you need it to go to make ends meet. So, it’s time to take your savings out of your total amount before you’ve even got your check. Are you aiming to save $400 a month and you earn $2500? Well, from now on you only earn $2100. That additional chunk of cash cannot be touched, and you can set up an immediate payment on payday each month so that you’re not tempted to touch it. Don’t try to live first and save second, because you’ll never make those savings that you are so desperate to make.

Income Savvy. If you don’t feel like your full-time job makes you enough money to save, it’s time to get savvy with your income. Pick up a second job at a bar or pull extra freelance work from home. You need to savvy with your income so that you can continue to live at a rate that you are accustomed and yet make it work with your savings at the same time. Pulling a second job doesn’t have to mean you spend every spare hour working but imagine how much that you could bring in by doing two evenings a week as a delivery driver. Those shifts driving around can change your income dramatically.

Sell Smart. That car that you barely use? Sell it. Those electronics gathering dust in the garage? Sell those, too. You can look at your whole house and see a goldmine of cash just sat there waiting for you to capitalize on. If you are smart about where you sell things, you can ensure that you get the best prices for them, and really ramp up your house deposit amount.

Sell Savvy. Don’t get ripped off when selling your things. Sure, you’re looking to make some quick money, but not quick enough that you are underpaid for the things you’ve put cash into. Don’t be taken for a ride, and don’t settle for less than what you truly want for your items.

Getting that house deposit together is not going to take you forever and if you are committed, you can really see that savings account grow over time. Don’t waste any time, either. The whole property market can shift on a dime and you could lose all your plans. Make a plan, stick to it and be patient. You’ve got this.

Travel

In first for Asia, Taiwan parliament legalizes same-sex unions

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize marriage equality, as it passed a bill that allows same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.

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All photos taken during Taiwan's Pride parade in 2015

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize marriage equality, as it passed a bill – by 66 votes to 27 – that allows same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.

In 2017, Taiwan’s top court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the constitution, with judges at that time giving the government until May 24, 2019 to make the changes or see marriage equality enacted automatically.

The law, however, only: 1. allows same-sex marriages between Taiwanese, or 2. with foreigners whose countries recognize same-sex marriage. It also permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one of the same-sex pair.

But while this development is monumental, there are members of Taiwan’s LGBTQIA community – much like in Western countries where marriage equality has also already been legalized – are also lamenting the over-emphasis on same-sex marriage as a seeming “end-all issue”.

In 2015, for instance, during Taiwan’s Pride, some members of Taiwan’s LGBTQIA community lamented the “hijacking” of an LGBTQI event because of the lack of opportunity to highlight “non-mainstream LGBTQI issues.”

LGBTQIA activist 徐豪謙, for instance, noted at that time that “people only talk about the politically correct and popular issue of same-sex marriage, as if we don’t have other issues to face.”

In other parts of Asia, only Vietnam decriminalized gay marriage celebrations in 2015, even if it stopped short of giving full legal recognition for same-sex unions.

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In the Philippines, various government officials – including Pres. Rodrigo Duterte – have expressed support for civil unions, not marriage equality per se. To date, however, even the anti-discrimination bill is failing to gain traction in Congress, and is still stalled after almost 20 years.

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Travel

What you need to know in planning for a getaway

Staying near the action will help you get the most out of the getaway. That might be a campsite or a cabin in the outdoors, a condo on the sea beach, or just a resort in the near vicinity of the city’s must-see points of interest.

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A getaway can be the ideal opportunity for any individual to unwind far from the hustles and bustles of the hectic city life. However, it requires some doing while planning for the getaway and one needs to be meticulous while doing so.

In the following paragraphs, we mention some essential tips that will aid you to plan for the getaway in the best possible way.

1. Pick an interesting destination

In case you adore the water, it will be sensible for you to spend some time basking on the sea beach, going for a picnic near the lake in your locality, or kayaking down the river. Maybe you prefer exploring the streets in your city or wandering through the wilderness. Although the getaway might not take you far away from your abode, it will be a sensible idea to follow your interests which will provide you with a memorable time out there. In case you want to organize a getaway cruise for you as well as your companions, it will be imperative to make a decision on the size of the ship which you’d like to go on. You’ll come across lots of articles on the Internet which will provide you with genuine and authentic info. Feel free to browse them and take your time for research till you find a cruise which is reasonably affordable as well as comfy too.

2. Take into consideration your accommodation

Staying near the action will help you get the most out of the getaway. That might be a campsite or a cabin in the outdoors, a condo on the sea beach, or just a resort in the near vicinity of the city’s must-see points of interest. Whatever accommodation you pick, loitering nearby will allow you to enjoy your time to the fullest.

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3. Venture out with a partner

Traveling solo has its own advantages, but a getaway at the weekend can be enjoyed much better while you are with a partner. A good company will allow you to share your feelings and he or she can likewise come of help to you in case you are in need.

4. Pack light

In case you are going for a two or three-day trip, there is no need for you to pack many items whatsoever. Simply take one casual outfit for the day and another one for the evening and perhaps an additional set of apparel will do just fine. Look for any transitional piece such as jeans which can be combined with a casual T-shirt while you’re venturing out at the daytime and a trendy jacket for the evening. In case you are planning to do lots of walking, make it a point to take with you a pair of sneakers as well. There is no need to carry any extra items like shampoo, lotion, or conditioner given that you’ll find them in the hotel where you will be staying.

5. Pack some snacks

It hardly matters whether you are driving, flying, biking, or hiking, it would be a sensible idea to bring some mouth-watering snacks along with you. Eating these treats every couple of hours will boost your energy and will likewise motivate you to have a nice time along with your companions. It will likewise help you save your cash by keeping you away from expensive and unhealthy airplane or gas station foods.

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One of the best ways to plan for your weekend will be to design the outline of the trip on your laptop or PC. You may likewise discuss with your friends and family members regarding some essential aspects like the ones mentioned above. Preparing yourself in advance will save you from lots of unexpected problems afterward.

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Health & Wellness

Lesbian, gay and bi adolescents at elevated risk for engaging in polysubstance use

Lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents were more likely than heterosexual adolescents to be polysubstance users versus non-users across multiple classes of use: experimental users, marijuana-alcohol users, tobacco-alcohol users, medium-frequency three-substance users, and high-frequency three-substance users.

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Photo by Đoàn Ngọc Thành from Unsplash.com

Lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents were more likely than heterosexual adolescents to be polysubstance users versus non-users across multiple classes of use: experimental users, marijuana-alcohol users, tobacco-alcohol users, medium-frequency three-substance users, and high-frequency three-substance users. In general, sexual orientation identity differences in polysubstance use class membership were larger for females, especially bisexual females, than for males.

These are the findings reported in “Latent Classes of Polysubstance Use Among Adolescents in the United States: Intersections of Sexual Identity with Sex, Age, and Race/Ethnicity”, an article published in LGBT Health, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

The study by Robert W.S. Coulter, Deanna Ware, Jessica N. Fish, and Michael W. Plankey aimed to estimate latent classes of concurrent polysubstance use and test for sexual orientation differences in latent class memberships with representative data from adolescents (in this case, living in 19 US states). The researchers also tested whether sex, race/ethnicity, and age moderated the sexual identity differences in polysubstance use class memberships.

The researchers analyzed data from 119,437 adolescents who participated in the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Latent class analysis characterized polysubstance use patterns based on self-reported frequency of lifetime and past-month use of alcohol (including heavy episodic drinking), tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco), and marijuana. Multinomial logistic regression models tested differences in latent class memberships by sexual identity. Interaction terms tested whether sex, race/ethnicity, and age moderated the sexual identity differences in polysubstance use class memberships.

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A six-class model of polysubstance use fit the data best and included nonusers (61.5%), experimental users (12.2%), marijuana-alcohol users (14.8%), tobacco-alcohol users (3.8%), medium-frequency three-substance users (3.6%), and high-frequency three-substance users (4.1%). Gay/lesbian- and bisexual-identified adolescents had significantly higher odds than heterosexual-identified adolescents of being in all of the user classes compared with the nonuser class. These sexual identity differences in latent polysubstance use class memberships were generally larger for females than for males, varied occasionally by race/ethnicity, and were sometimes larger for younger ages.

“Compared with their heterosexual peers, gay/lesbian and bisexual adolescents—especially females—are at heightened risk of engaging in multiple types of polysubstance use,” the researchers concluded, recommending that “designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions will likely reduce these sexual orientation disparities.”

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Health & Wellness

Teens face health and safety risks exploring sex online

Online sexual experiences can predict whether they become victims of sexual assault one year later.

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Photo by Sergey Zolkin from Unsplash.com

Teens spend hours every day on internet-connected devices, where limitless opportunities to explore sexuality online. These opportunities don’t come without big risks, though. A researcher from Michigan State University found that online sexual experiences can predict whether they become victims of sexual assault one year later.

The findings, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and funded by the National Institutes of Health, are part of a study that is the first of its kind to investigate online sexual experiences using a person-centered approach, which identifies specific patterns of behaviors in sub-groups of people rather than general observations across a large group. This approach allowed researchers to track the girls’ online experiences – and subsequent offline experiences – more intricately than prior studies.

“It makes sense that engaging in risky behavior online would translate to offline risks,” said Megan Maas, research author and MSU assistant professor of human development and family studies at MSU. “But we were able to identify specific online behavioral patterns that correlated with susceptibility to different offline outcomes – which was never captured from conventional approaches before.”

Maas and colleagues assessed data from 296 girls between 14- and 17-years-old, who self-reported their online and offline sexual experiences over five years. Additionally, the girls would visit a lab each year for a trauma interview to measure experiences such as sexual abuse, assault or violence that may go undetected in a survey.

“By assessing the teens’ online sexual experiences using the person-centered approach, we were able to group the teens into four classes of experience patterns, which predicted sexual health and victimization outcomes one year later,” Maas said.

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The four classes were:

  • Online inclusive: These teens have a high probability of having several online sexual experiences, including looking at internet porn, chatting with strangers about sex, sending nude photos and posing provocatively on social media. This class often has strangers posting sexy comments on their social media accounts, requesting nude photos and soliciting them for sex.
  • Seekers: These teens purposefully seek out internet porn, chat with others about sex and post sexy photos on social media, but purposefully do not have a sexy profile picture and do not receive a lot of online attention from others.
  • Attractors: This class of teens gets attention from others online, though they’re not explicitly looking for it. They had a sexy social media profile, had people requesting nude photos, received comments about how sexy they are and have strangers solicit them for offline sex.
  • Online abstinent: This group had little probability in having online sexual experiences.

The goal was to pinpoint online patterns of sexual experiences related to three offline outcomes one year later: HIV risk, sexual assault and intimate partner violence, Maas said.

They discovered that attractors were more likely to be sexually assaulted than the seekers; online inclusive were likely to be sexually assaulted or engage in risky sex, especially if they’d experienced prior sexual abuse or assault; whereas, the seekers were more likely to have a physically violent romantic partner, especially if they’d experienced prior sexual abuse or assault.

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Maas explained that her findings demonstrate how critical it is for teens to receive education to understand how online sexual experiences may shape their offline experiences. Specifically, she hopes that schools and families will educate youth on sexual health and consent as well as healthy relationships, as their online experiences could have serious consequences.

“Rather than trying to tackle the impossible – like eliminating teens’ exposure to porn or ability to sext – we can and should educate them about these realities and risks and offer alternatives for learning about and expressing sexuality,” Maas said.

Maas hopes that her findings will inspire parents to proactively talk to their kids about risks they face online, as well as to establish rules early in their lives that can prevent girls’ from putting too much emphasis on their sexy social media presence.

“The best strategy for parents to follow is to limit time and space for internet usage,” Maas said. “Establish a time limit they can be on a device, and don’t allow screens in bedrooms. There are apps for parents that can help control screen time – and plenty of ways to involve their kids in activities that don’t rely on the internet at all.”

Next, Maas plans to explore why these online experiences predict offline risk and victimization. For instance, if teen girls feel obligated to engage in unwanted sexual activity if they have already sent a nude photo, or if boys feel entitled to sex from girls with sexy social media profiles. She hopes this follow-up study will clarify these findings to provide more specific guidance for sexual health and internet safety programming without attributing blame to survivors.

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Travel

Brunei halts death penalty for gay sex after massive outcry

Brunei backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men (along with adultery) punishable by stoning to death.

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Photo by vyngor from Pixabay.com

Brunei – a small Southeast Asian country – backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men (along with adultery) punishable by stoning to death.

Last month, Brunei rolled out a strict new interpretation of Islamic laws, or Sharia (first introduced in 2014, giving it a dual legal system with both Sharia and Common Law). The first phase covered crimes punishable by prison sentences and fines; and – on April 3 – the second phase covered crimes punishable by amputation and stoning. For the latter, offenses such as rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insult or defamation of the Prophet Muhammad carry the maximum penalty of death; lesbian sex carries a different penalty of 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in jail; theft merits amputation; and those who “persuade, tell or encourage” Muslim children under the age of 18 “to accept the teachings of religions other than Islam” are liable to a fine or jail.

But Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to cover the new legislation; with the reconsideration following global outcry over the laws. In a speech, the sultan said he was aware there had been “many questions and misperceptions” regarding the implementation of the legislation, called Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO). “As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission.”

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Death penalty is legal in Brunei, albeit no executions have been carried out in the country since 1957.

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Travel

Top tips for LGBT travel in Portugal

If you are planning to travel to Portugal as an LGBT couple, Portugal is known for being safe for the LGBT community, especially in its cities.

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Photo by @lemurdesign from Unsplash.com

Portugal is generally known for its acceptance of the LGBT community, with vast improvements to its laws and legislation in recent years that put Portugal ahead of many other European countries in terms of its attitude.

If you are looking to visit Portugal, then you should read this guide before you travel to decide if Portugal is right for you and your partner.

Is Portugal LGBT Friendly?

Portugal is known for being LGBT-friendly, especially due to its implementation of recent laws, such as the country’s legalization of gay marriage in 2010, which is considered early considering that the UK only legalized gay marriage four years later, in 2014. Not only this, but adoption for same-sex couples is legalized, and so is IVF for lesbian couples.

Lisbon also produces the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival every year.

What to Do

  • If you are looking for nightlife, there are a range of gay bars and nightclubs surrounding the city centers such as Lisbon, where they are centered around the Barrio Alto area of the city. 
  • There is an annual Gay Pride Parade in Lisbon every year, and this often attracts over 50,000 visitors to the city. The theme differs each year, and the annual festival is typically held in June. The events normally centre around a large party held at the Terreiro De Paco, and the festival is organized by a number of local LGBT associations.
  • Lisbon also produces the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival every year, which is a week-long festival in June which focuses on the best LGBT films that have been produced in the past year.
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Where to Stay

  • Many Portuguese resorts are LGBT friendly, and there are many beaches in the Algarve region that are popular with those from the LGBT community. Resorts also often have exclusive gar bars and clubs or will display a rainbow flag to state that they are friendly towards the community.
  • If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Portugal as an LGBT couple, you should consider the luxury of an exclusive villa for the duration of your stay. James Villas provides luxury accommodation for holidays in Algarve, allowing you to have the relaxation of staying in your own private rooms for the duration of your stay, with all the facilities that you will need to have an enjoyable visit.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Portugal as an LGBT couple, you should consider the luxury of an exclusive villa for the duration of your stay.

How Can You Stay Safe?

Although Portugal is a country that is mainly LGBT friendly, there will always be instances of prejudice against the LGBT community, especially in rural areas outside of the city. However, although you may run into prejudice, this is not any more extensive than elsewhere in the world, and you will probably find that you have an uninterrupted and comfortable stay without any other considerations or prior planning.

If you are planning to travel to Portugal as an LGBT couple, Portugal is known for being safe for the LGBT community, especially in its cities, and there is a range of gay pride events, bars, clubs and entertainment exclusive to the community.

Although Portugal is a country that is mainly LGBT friendly, there will always be instances of prejudice against the LGBT community, especially in rural areas outside of the city.

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