Don't Fall Into These Social Security Traps

Don't Fall Into These Social Security Traps - If you're looking forward to turning age 62 so you can begin collecting Social Security benefits and live on easy street, you might get caught off guard. Some of the Social Security rules can be frighteningly complex. Because it will likely represent a large portion of your retirement income, it's important to understand how the government program works.

For instance, there are limits on how much you can earn while collecting benefits, and if you exceed those limits, your Social Security benefits will get cut substantially. That's just one of the snares that could trip you up.

Make sure you plan appropriately to avoid these six Social Security traps.

Social Security Traps

Trap No. 1: Social Security may be taxable

If your earnings exceed a certain level, up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits may be taxable. Even income sources that are normally tax-exempt, such as income from municipal bonds, must be factored into the total income equation for the purpose of computing tax on Social Security benefits.

Eric Levenhagen, CPA and Certified Tax Coach with ProWise Tax & Accounting, says to find out whether any of your Social Security benefits are taxable, "Look at your total taxable income plus half of your Social Security benefit. Make sure you add back any tax-exempt interest income."

When your taxable income, tax-free income and half of your Social Security benefit exceed $25,000 ($32,000 for married couples filing jointly), that's when you're in the zone to pay taxes on Social Security income.

Another unexpected income source that could impact taxes on Social Security: proceeds from a Roth conversion.

If you're thinking about doing a Roth conversion, do so before receiving Social Security benefits, says Steve Weisman, an attorney and college professor at Bentley University. "A lot of people considering converting a traditional (individual retirement account) into a Roth IRA should be aware that if they do that, they will end up paying income tax on the conversion, which will also be included for determining whether Social Security benefits are taxable," he says.

Trap No. 2: Must take required minimum distributions

Required minimum distributions, or RMDs, must generally be made from tax-deferred retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs, after a person reaches age 70 ½. The distributions are treated as ordinary income and may push a taxpayer above the threshold where Social Security benefits become taxable.

"This is a double-edged sword," says Weisman. "If you are over 70 ½ , you are required to begin taking distributions from IRAs (except Roth IRAs) and other retirement accounts."

"Here again, you take half of the Social Security benefits plus all other income to determine whether Social Security benefits are taxable. RMDs will be included and drive that up," says Levenhagen.

You can't avoid required minimum distributions, but you can avoid being surprised at tax time.

Trap No. 3: Some workers don't get Social Security

Most people assume Social Security is available to seniors throughout the U.S., but not every type of work will count toward earning Social Security benefits. Many federal employees, certain railroad workers, and employees of some state and local governments are not covered by Social Security.

"Some of my clients have participated in retirement programs offered by employers that don't pay into Social Security," says Charles Millington, president at Millington Financial Advisors LLC in Naperville, Ill. "If your employer does not participate in Social Security, then you should be covered under the retirement program offered by your employer."

However, certain positions within a state government may be covered by Social Security.

Find out whether your employer participates in Social Security or not and if not, whether your position may be covered by Social Security. Make sure you understand where your retirement benefits will be coming from.

Trap No. 4: Early benefits could be a big mistake

If you opt to take Social Security as soon as you are eligible, you may be doing yourself an injustice.

"If you delay taking benefits until age 70, you will see as much as an 8 percent increase in benefits for each year you delay," says Steve Gaito, Certified Financial Planner professional and director of My Retirement Education Center. "In addition to receiving a higher benefit, the annual cost-of-living adjustment will be based on the higher number."

"It's hard to find that kind of rate of return on regular investments, so it's good to delay if you can," says Weisman.

Of course, life expectancy plays a part in the decision of when to begin drawing benefits. "You generally know how healthy you are and what your family medical history is," says Ryan Leib, vice president of Keystone Wealth Management. "We advise clients to determine whether they think they will live longer than age 77. If so, delaying until age 70 will net you more in benefits than opting to start collecting benefits early."

If you're able to live off other funds and delay taking Social Security, you should seriously consider doing so. "Delaying taking Social Security until age 70 could mean the difference between cat food and caviar in retirement," says Leib.

Trap No. 5: Windfall elimination provision

If you work for multiple employers in your career, including both employers that don't withhold Social Security taxes from your salary (for example, a government agency) and employers that do, the pension you receive based on the noncovered work may reduce your Social Security benefits.

"Many people are not aware that their actual Social Security benefit may be lower than the amount shown on their statements or online because the windfall elimination provision reduction does not occur until the person applies for their benefits and (the Social Security Administration) finds out they are entitled to a pension," says Charles Scott, president of Pelleton Capital Management in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Social Security applies a formula to determine the reduction. In 2012, the maximum WEP reduction was $383.50. There is a limit to the WEP reduction for people with very small pensions.

If you have worked for both noncovered and covered employers, don't let the windfall elimination provision catch you by surprise.

Trap No. 6: Limits on benefits while working

You are allowed to collect Social Security and earn wages from your employer. However, if your wages exceed $15,120 in 2013, your Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn above that level, says Mark Spittell, senior director at Alvarez & Marsal Taxand.

During the year in which you reach full retirement age -- which ranges from age 65 to 67, depending on your birth year -- you can earn up to $40,080 before $1 of your Social Security benefits will be deducted for every $3 you earn above that threshold. However, the money isn't lost forever. You will be entitled to a credit, so your benefits will increase beginning the month you reach full retirement age.

At full retirement age, no income restrictions apply. "There is no penalty for additional income earned," says Gaito.

If you plan on working beyond age 62 and anticipate earning more than $15,120 per year, strongly consider putting off Social Security benefits. ( )

READ MORE - Don't Fall Into These Social Security Traps

How to 'clean up' online to land that job

How to 'clean up' online to land that job - Controversial Tweets can haunt any web user - with 70% of recruiters having turned down employees due to posts online. Here's how to stay private.

More than half of UK adults would remove everything they had ever posted online about themselves if they could, according to a survey conducted by Norton by Symantec in 2011. 

The controversy around Tweets posted by Britain’s first youth police commissioner, Paris Brown, highlights a growing problem for young workers - how to get rid of embarrassing material they or others have posted online.

Brown, 17, stepped down from her post over the Tweets, which date from when she was aged between 14 and 16 - and contained homophobic statements, as well as references to drugs.

How to 'clean up' online to land that job

The problem of posts ‘haunting’ people is not restricted to public figures, though - with research from Microsoft showing that 70% of recruiters have turned potential employees down due to controversial material that has shown up in web searches. 

More than half of UK adults would remove everything they had ever posted online about themselves if they could, according to a survey conducted by Norton by Symantec in 2011.

Thankfully, 'pruning' your own online reputation is a lot easier than many people imagine - a few basic steps can ‘police’ your profile on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, simply by adjusting privacy settings, or hiding and deleting unwanted posts. 

Below are some tips from security experts at Yahoo! and Norton by Symantec. 

There are ways to hide embarrassing posts or photos on blogs and other sites, even without their owners agreeing to delete them, says Yahoo! technology expert Becky Worley. 

The best tactic in this situation is ‘flooding’ Google with results that push unwanted ones down.

“Take solace from the fact that 97% of searchers never look beyond the first 3 pages of search results,” says Worley in a detailed video guide here. “If you can push the negative results down by posting positive or neutral information that's more current or has more appeal to search engines, you'll win the battle 97% of the time.”

Worley suggests creating a Google Plus profile with information you want employers to see, as Google searches tend to rank its own social network highly - and creating a LinkedIn profile with job information. Filling both of these with information about your skills is a useful first step.

Worley recommends creating profiles on other social sites to ensure a 'managed' public profile - and sending information to school and university sites to ensure profiles there are up to date. 

Norton's security experts recommend using image and blog search functions to ensure you stay on top of information posted about you - and warns against posting any details about political or religious beliefs. Sections for religion or political leanings are part of profiles on many social sites including Facebook. 

Norton also warns not to trust privacy settings on social networks - as these may change.

Managing friends lists can also be a good way to control what is posted online - so that, for instance, you can control who mentions you, or tags you in images.

“Do not rely on default privacy settings,” says the company. “Review the privacy controls offered by the social networking sites you use and determine what’s right for you. These controls are still evolving and providing more choices. Continue evaluating them over time.”

“Regularly evaluate the social networks and online services that you actively use. Cancel the ones you don’t. Regularly review the lists of people you’re connected to online. Keep your lists of friends, linked organisations and associations current and ensure you’re happy with your connections.” (Yahoo! News )

READ MORE - How to 'clean up' online to land that job

Healthier fruit juice chocolate is on its way

Healthier fruit juice chocolate is on its way - Chocolate-fans may soon be able to injuldge in their favourite confectionery guilt-free as scientists replace fat with fruit juice - Chocoholics rejoice, for a healthier chocolate bar is on its way.

UK scientists have revealed their new chocolate-making method, explaining how they can recreate our favourite treat with 50 per cent less fat than usual - by replacing it with fruit juice.

Revealing their discovery at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, study leader Stefan A. F. Bon PhD said: "We have established the chemistry that's a starting point for healthier chocolate confectionery. 

"This approach maintains the things that make chocolate 'chocolatey', but with fruit juice instead of fat. Now we're hoping the food industry will take the next steps and use the technology to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars and other candy."

Healthier fruit juice chocolate is on its way

Using micro-bubbles of liquids, chocolatiers will be able to use vitamin C water, diet cola or fruit juice to create healthier chocolate that still melts in the mouth like the traditional stuff.

In moderation chocolate is already known for its health benefits - dark chocolate particularly contains a high level of antioxidants. But it's also high in saturated fat and sugar due to the use of cocoa butter that gives it a creamy texture and luxurious taste.

Replacing this with fruit juice allows scientists to keep what we love about chocolate, while making it better for us. But what about those of us who aren't keen on chocolate orange in the first place?

"Fruit-juice-infused candy tastes like an exciting hybrid between traditional chocolate and a chocolate-juice confectionery," Stefan explains. 

"Since the juice is spread out in the chocolate, it doesn't overpower the taste of the chocolate. We believe that the technology adds an interesting twist to the range of chocolate confectionery products available," adds. 

The technology works with milk, dark and white chocolate so it shouldn't be long before we can indulge our sweet cravings with 50 per cent less guilt.

Let's just try not to overdo it by eating twice as much... 
( Yahoo Lifestyle )

READ MORE - Healthier fruit juice chocolate is on its way

How beta blockers help reduce stress reaction on the heart

Beta-blockers are commonly used by musicians and public speakers to calm things down before performances. But they have a much more serious role in modern medicine. The adrenalin system is activated in all of us when we're frightened or otherwise under stress. This is a major source of cardiovascular risk. Almost all the cells of the body have receptors on their walls which respond to adrenalin released under stress. This increases our heart rate and blood pressure in preparation for 'fight or flight'.

These receptors have been classified into several types, and the beta-receptors are one important subtype. In 1958 the first drug which blocked the effects of adrenalin on the heart was synthesised and by 1962 the first clinically useful agent, propranolol, was developed. Propranolol revolutionised the medical management of angina pectoris, arrhythmias and blood pressure. This class of agents is one of the most important in use today.

In recent years, drugs that more selectively affect the heart, such as atenolol, metoprolol and carvedilol have been developed. As a general rule we cannot say that one beta-blocker is more effective in improving cardiovascular outcome than any of the others. Beta-blockers are generally well tolerated. Side-effects can include a slow heart rate, fatigue, a depressed mood, unusual dreams, and in susceptible individuals, asthma attacks. All these are more likely to occur in the elderly. Contraindications to B-blockers are extremely slow heart rate, pre-existing heart conduction block or a history of asthma.

How beta blockers help reduce stress reaction on the heart

The New Role

In the last decade, a new role of B-blockers has revolutionised the management of heart failure patients. In patients with reduced pump function and heart failure, whether from heart attack damage or from some other causes, B-blockers (specifically, bisoprolol, long acting metoprolol and carvedilol) prevent further deterioration, helping them live longer and feel better than ever before.

Targeting blood pressure for primary prevention

Beta-blockers are very effective BP meds-by blocking adrenaline, heart rate and blood pressure are both lowered, and heart attacks and fatalities are prevented. There is currently some debate as to whether they are as good as other classes of BP meds for preventing strokes, and therefore whether they should be the firstline agents when being used primarily for BP. So far, we cannot draw a firm conclusion about this.

Major benefits in secondary prevention

The biggest role for these meds is in secondary prevention after a heart attack. The benefit seems to begin almost immediately, so intravenous metoprolol is commonly given in emergency rooms to heart attack victims. In patients with prior heart attacks, betablockers have reduced deaths anywhere from 19 to 48%, with a 28% decrease in second heart attacks as well.

Beta-blockers appear to protect people after a heart attack by preventing serious arrhythmia and sudden death, one of the major long-term risks for survivors. They are a critical line in the defence against future cardiac problems, and should be started immediately after an attack and continued at least for the first year, probably indefinitely.

We don't yet know if their protective effect wanes over very long time periods. Evidence also suggests they can be safely taken by diabetics. In patients with angina pectoris, the chest discomfort that comes with exertion in someone with blockages and stable angina (chest pain that occurs with stress or activity), beta-blockers make the heart work less hard, rebalance oxygen needs and reduce the symptoms of discomfort

Safe to Drink?

People say that drinking water stored in copper vessels is good for health. I think it's toxic! -Mani, Kolkata

We need a tiny amount of copper in our diet, it is what is called an essential trace element. Except for certain unusual disease situations, deficiency of the metal is extremely rare, as it is widely present in food-in wholegrain cereals, fruits and nuts. In fact, ingesting excess amounts of copper can be toxic, with symptoms ranging from vomiting blood to kidney damage.

Although high concentrations of copper can kill bacteria, this property has been used mainly for agricultural work, and even there, copper compounds are considered toxic, with many better alternatives. Some communities traditionally store drinking water in copper vessels, and even though several health benefits are attributed to the metal, it is difficult to say how much copper actually dissolves in the water. However, it would be quite reasonable to say that it could contribute to toxicity, without giving any benefits, as most people are ingesting enough of the metal anyway. Do remember that a few years ago, another commonly used metal, aluminium, was linked to Alzheimer's disease. There are more effective and less toxic ways to store clean water. ( )

READ MORE - How beta blockers help reduce stress reaction on the heart

Is food your solution to emotional distress?

Feeding your emotions? Feeling low can lead to binge eating - Are you stuffing your emotions down with food? That’s the question we’re asking.

Is food your solution to emotional distress?

If you catch yourself eating large quantities of food, typically “comfort food” (chips, cookies, chocolates) in response to feelings rather than hunger – then it’s quite likely you are.

Is food your solution to emotional distress?

Emotional eating!

Broadly called emotional eating, experts estimate that nearly 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.

“Culturally, we are taught to cheer ourselves up with food,” says Jyothi Dayal, a practicing psychotherapist in Bangalore. For instance, “When a child is emotionally distressed, most mothers show support by whipping up a special dish to lift his/her spirits.” Along the way — this — she says, “conditions us to reach for food when we’re feeling low.”

Overeating feeds depression

Typically, a person struggling with the problem of binge eating/overeating is also struggling with depression. Depression, loneliness, anxiety, chronic anger, boredom, poor self-esteem, problems in interpersonal relationships can all result in overeating, leading to unwanted weight gain.

Overeating feeds into the cycle of depression. It gives you a temporary fix. Dr Abha Bang, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist says, “Food stimulates a neurotransmitter (endogenous chemical) called serotonin, the happy chemical in your body. Therefore, providing temporary relief, and tempting people to reach for food to bring comfort.” But that feeling dissipates quickly. And you’re likely to feel compelled to eat more to achieve that temporary relief again.

Dayal stresses that, “Covering your emotions with food will only make the problem worse. It’s only a temporary solution.” While food may provide an escape route, it only worsens the problem in the long run. An emotional eater also feels extreme guilt or shame after a binge. So, after binging on that bag of chips or cookies, you’re likely to beat yourself up for doing so.

By turning to food to heal our emotional problems, we deprive ourselves of learning skills to effectively resolve emotional distress. Experts suggest that by identifying what triggers our eating, we can substitute it with suitable methods to manage our emotional problems.

How to identify eating triggers?

Keeping a food dairy to record what you eat and when; in addition to jotting down thoughts, emotions and stresses you’re facing will help you identify eating triggers. Soon, you’ll be able to notice patterns that lead you into excess eating.

Break the habit of binge eating!

Break that habit by substituting it with a healthier one. So every time you’re tempted to eat try any of the following:
  • Pick up something to read
  • Go for a walk
  • Take a shower
  • Do deep breathing exercises
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do housework
  • Meditation
How to treat emotional eating?

Merely finding a distraction won’t do away with the problem. What you need to do is treat the underlying cause.

Individual or group counselling might be an effective tool. This addresses the root of the problem, that’s causing you to binge. It will also enable you to learn effective ways to resolve the issue and cope better with the stress around you.

Most importantly, “overeating could be a sign of depression,” says Dr Bang. So if you find yourself binge eating, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Dr Bang stresses, “Depression is an illness that can be treated.” ( )

READ MORE - Is food your solution to emotional distress?

Blame It On Your Jeans!

Blame It On Your Jeans! - Jeans are like your partners in crime. They come to your rescue in every situation. There is no fuss about jeans.

You get up, you get them on and you move around freely feeling like the hottest body in town. But is that your only option for a pair of pants? No. Look around. They come in all fabrics and shapes. Here is a bottom-wear style cheat sheet:


The cargos are your Friday dress. Casual, cool and very manly, they have enough pockets to carry your attitude. Cargos are amongst the best options that let you break the proverbial glass shields you have built around yourself regarding trouser fashion.

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Corduroy Pants

They are the ultimate replacement for denims. Corduroy pants are great for comfort and they look pretty exceptional too. You can wear these pants for a casual outing or as part of your semi-formal attire to office. For a casual look, pick a light colour. For a formal one, go for black.

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Wrinkle-Free Trousers

All that a man needs is a lot of carefree fun. The wrinkle-free ones are fit for your office. The best part is you don’t need to iron them over and over again. For men living alone, there is not a better option.
 Plain Pants

Very formal! That's the shortest description for a plain style. They help save face most of the times. The good old formal trousers, whether in pleated or monochrome, make a good impression on occasions both professional and personal. The only place where you can't wear them is to discs or to bed.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Go funky with three-fourths. Now you don't need to wax your legs but you should keep them in shape to flaunt a chic pair of three-fourths that you can wear Saturdays and Sundays on a long-drive or for a get together with buddies. They are comfortable and they are cool.

It can be a little depressing to part with the good ol' pair of jeans and follow a monotonous routine of trousers, but sometimes you have to. And with the afore-mentioned options, the ‘have to’ can easily be transformed into ‘want to’. ( )

READ MORE - Blame It On Your Jeans!

5 Quick Fixes for Wedding Day Beauty Emergencies

5 Quick Fixes for Wedding Day Beauty Emergencies - On your wedding, you want everything to be perfect. Be it the decorations at the venue, the catering, transportation or anything else. Most importantly you want your dress, makeup, hair, footwear and jewellery to be nothing less than impeccable. However, things can go wrong. Here are 5 wedding day beauty emergencies and their quick fixes.

A zit

Pimples commonly pop up on wedding days because you tend to eat more sweetmeats and oily foods during the pre-wedding functions. Added to this are lack of exercise and inadequate sleep. A combination of all these factors is a perfect recipe for pimples.

If you see a pimple on your D-day, don’t panic. Keep the area cool by applying ice. Coolness subdues the bacteria in the pimple. Apply a thick paste of cloves and cinnamon. During makeup, avoid applying oily foundation on the spot. Use an oil-free concealer to camouflage the difference in skin tone around the affected area.

Puffy eyes

Unhealthy diet, late night celebrations and inadequate sleep are the cause for puffy eyes. Don't worry, puffy eyes usually subdue within a few hours. However, if you have a morning or noon wedding, it could be a problem.

A simple remedy is to use frozen teaspoons on the lids. Put two teaspoons in the freezer for around half an hour. Place them on the eyes such that the concave part touches the eyes. Repeat a few times until the puffiness recedes. You could also try placing icepacks, frozen cucumber slices and warm teabags.

Dark circles

Again, lack of sleep is the main culprit here. You can avoid most of the beauty emergencies by not compromising on your sleep. However, if the problem is unavoidable, make sure that you apply a cooling pack for the eyes before you sleep the previous night. Wash off and apply moisturiser before sleeping. Use a good quality concealer to even the skin tone.

Smudged eye makeup

Weddings make you emotional and you might find your eyes welling up. A few tears might run down your cheeks and along with them, your mascara and kohl. The only preventive measure for this problem is to use waterproof kohl, eyeliner and mascara. Do not compromise on this matter.

Chipped or ruined nails

Chipped nails are very common during weddings. Keep a nail file, nail polish and nail polish remover handy. Use them to smoothen chipped nails and reapply a coat of polish.

Everyone gets nervous on their wedding day because somewhere in the back of their mind they know that things can go wrong at the last moment. The only way to counter the anxiety and be confident is to be prepared for these untoward incidents. ( )

READ MORE - 5 Quick Fixes for Wedding Day Beauty Emergencies

Now watch out for animated Tendulkar in 'Master Blasters'

Now watch out for animated Tendulkar in 'Master Blasters' - Indian cricket's master blaster Sachin Tendulkar now has an animated avatar. It will be seen in "Master Blasters", a 3D action, comedy and adventure TV animation series.

In the show, the animated Sachin is appointed by the Programme for International Training of Cricket Heroes (PITCH) to head a cricket camp and mentor 12 young cricketers from around the world.

A dog will accompany them too. Another cricket camp will be headed by an animtaed version of cricketer Peter Taylor, who will compete with Sachin's team members. Sachin is excited.

"I have always been fascinated with the world of animation and have enjoyed watching it with my children. The challenge for the production team will be to ensure that some human values and learnings are imparted while continuing to entertain the viewers through the series," Sachin said in a statement.

"It will indeed be a different experience to see one's own rendition on the animated screen, performing larger-than-life action much beyond the limitation of the real world," he added.

The show, co-produced by Shemaroo Entertainment and Moonscoop LLC, will feature 26 episodes. But it is yet to be decided where the show will be telecast.

The show is likely to have good quality computer generated imagery.

Young cricketers will play a series of international, competitive matches in a futuristic, high-tech, spaceship-like cricket stadium that can actually fly and land anywhere in the world.

"Cricket runs in the blood of every Indian and working with an icon like Sachin is a dream come true. We plan to introduce this unique format to non-cricketing countries as well," said Smita Maroo, vice president, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. ( Indo-Asian New Service )

READ MORE - Now watch out for animated Tendulkar in 'Master Blasters'

Five things you should do when you're pregnant

Five things you should do when you're pregnant - Once you've seen for yourself those two blue lines on the pregnancy test, or maybe you heard it from the horse's (well, your doctor's) mouth, what do you do next?

What to do when you're expecting

Congrats – you're pregnant! Once you've seen for yourself those two blue lines on the pregnancy test, or maybe you heard it from the horse's (well, your doctor's) mouth, what do you do next? Here are our top five tips on what to do whilst you wait for the stork's arrival:

What to do when you're pregnant, rule 1: Attend pre-natal appointments

Once you've established that you're pregnant, done your happy dance, gone through every emotion in the book, and finally gathered your thoughts, it's important to attend a pre-natal appointment. Whether it's your first appointment or you've been attending them for a while, appointments for mamas-to-be are important for keeping you and your baby healthy and giving your unborn the best start in life. Whilst we all pray that there aren't any problems, if any issues did arise then the doctor has a better chance of treating them.

What to do when you're pregnant, rule 2: Do get your recommended daily dose of folic acid

Your pregnancy diet plays a vital role in your baby's development, and it's important that you get a good dose of folic acid to reduce your little one's risk of heart defects and spinal problems such as spina bifida. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that women who eat folate-rich foods before and during their pregnancy have a lower chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect. Some foods such as spinach, sprouts and green beans are all naturally high in folic acid, but these don't provide enough for your baby's development so you might choose to take folate supplements too. Women suffering from diabetes, sickle cell disease, and a number of other medical issues usually need more folic acid during pregnancy, and the recommended daily allowance can vary between individuals so it's important to speak to your doctor before making any changes to your pregnancy diet.

What to do when you're pregnant, rule 3: Do relax and pamper yourself

The phone won't stop ringing, the laundry pile is never-ending, and so is your workload come to think of it. Add a touch of pregnancy into the mix and you're a fully-fledged stress head. It really is important that you find the time to relax because pregnant bodies are already under huge pressure trying to supply everything your little love needs – added stress on top of this can be potentially harmful to you and your child. It's really important that you make time to relax as stress can increase the chance of premature birth and could cause abnormalities in your child. You may find it helpful to join a local support group where you can network with other pregnant women and discuss your worries and anxieties. You will probably find that whatever is worrying you is on the minds of the other pregnant women you meet too, and this will put your mind at ease – a problem shared is a problem halved.

What to do when you're pregnant, rule 4: Do make the most of your free time

Make sure you make the most of your free time before the baby arrives. Go out with your friends or watch a comedy film to make you laugh and reduce your stress levels, which can be harmful to you and your baby if they rise dramatically during pregnancy. Whatever your preferred 'pregnancy hobby', ensure that you enjoy your time before the birth because once you're exposed to excessive amounts of baby sick, sleepless nights and dirty nappies, 'me time' tends to take a back seat. You could also appoint a responsible baby sitter for when your bundle of joy arrives too, because going out and enjoying yourself on the odd occasion makes you a happy parent, and a happy parent makes for a happy child. Learning how to balance your relaxation time with a growing family is an on-going process, but you will soon get used to it.

What to do when you're pregnant, rule 5: Attend a pregnancy photo shoot

Pregnancy photo-shoots are specially geared towards getting the best shots of your bump. Once a bump has started to appear – or once you have a fully-fledged baby tum – this is the perfect time to attend a photo shoot to create a beautiful keepsake which will last a lifetime. A little miracle is growing inside you and a photo shoot offers the ideal way to capture this exciting time of your life. You can attend a photo shoot with your partner, family or even your friends. Once you've given birth, you will enjoy looking back on the photographs in years to come, and once the impending little one is all grown up, they will enjoy seeing what they looked like in mama's tummy. Enjoy! ( )

READ MORE - Five things you should do when you're pregnant

Halle Berry Cradles Her Growing Baby Bump at Argentina Premiere

Halle Berry is embracing motherhood at 46. (Lalo Yasky/WireImage)

Halle Berry Cradles Her Growing Baby Bump at Argentina PremiereHalle Berry's baby secret is out -- and the glowing mom-to-be happily showed off her growing pregnancy belly on the red carpet. 

The 46-year-old looked positively radiant at the premiere for "The Call" in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Monday. Wearing a figure-hugging, one-shoulder purple gown with metallic detailing along the top and side, the actress played up her new "accessory" by rubbing her stomach for photographers and then posing with both hands cradling it. 

Berry paired the dress -- which was not your traditional maternity look -- with diamond drop earrings and her emerald engagement ring from fiancé Olivier Martinez. For makeup, she rocked smoky eyes and pale dewy lips. 

The actress' look was a departure from her appearance on the red carpet the night before. While equally glam and gorgeous, she played down her changing body by wearing a drapey black dress. Though it was appropriate as she was being honored at a United Nations event. 

During an interview airing Tuesday on CNN, Berry talked about her pregnancy this time around. 

"I feel fantastic," Berry said. "This has been the biggest surprise of my life to tell you the truth." 

Already the mother to 5-year-old Nahla (with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry), Berry -- who has candidly discussed her troubles conceiving in the past -- didn't think her family would grow again. 

A side view of the radiant mom-to-be (Lalo Yasky/WireImage) 

"I thought I was kind of past the point where this could be a reality for me," she shared. "So it's been a big surprise and the most wonderful." 

When asked if she is expecting a boy, which has been rumored, Berry said she hasn't learned the baby's gender. 

"I don't know," she replied, adding, "But healthy." 

Berry has previously talked about becoming a mother for the first time in her 40s. 

"I'm a much better mother at 46 -- or 41, when I had her -- than if I were like 21 or 25," she said on "The Wendy Williams Show" in November. "I mean, I was just a little baby just trying to figure it out -- trying to figure out who I was, let alone having the responsibility of trying to help another little soul develop and grow. I'm so glad I waited." 

However, waiting made it trickier when it came to giving Nahla a sibling. 

"Every night, we do our prayers,” she noted. "We pray to God, so sweet. She says, 'God, please bring me a bunk bed and a baby sister.' And I say, 'I can do one of those things, I know for sure. The other one, we've got to keep praying on.' What do you say to her when she wants that and can't understand why God's taken so long?" 

Well, the wait will continue -- for a few more months at least. Berry is rumored to be due this fall. ( Runway )

READ MORE - Halle Berry Cradles Her Growing Baby Bump at Argentina Premiere

Tom Cruise on Katie Holmes Divorce: ‘I Did Not Expect That’

Kate Holmes and Tom Cruise (Getty Images) 

Tom Cruise on Katie Holmes Divorce: ‘I Did Not Expect That’  - Apparently, Tom Cruise was as surprised as everyone else when news broke that he and Katie Holmes were getting a divorce. 

"I did not expect that," Cruise said, opening up about his split for the first time on German TV network ProSieben. 

After five years of marriage, Holmes announced she was leaving Cruise on June 29, 2012, which reportedly left the actor heartbroken and blindsided. 

However, the "Oblivion" star now reveals he has had "an incredible amount of time to reflect" on life after the break up. 

"Life is a challenge," Cruise says. "To be 50 and have experiences and think you have everything under control, and then it hits you — that's what life is … Life is tragicomic. You need a certain sense of humor." 

The couple has one daughter together, 6-year-old Suri, and reports circulated at the time she was one of the main factors in Holmes' decision to leave Cruise. 

People reported the divorce "was a long time coming" for Holmes who was "mostly concerned about the education and care of her daughter Suri." However, the element of surprise was key for Holmes to make that happen. 

"She was talking to Tom on the phone up until [the week before] saying, 'I love you,'" a source told the magazine. "Her inner circle [had] been planning this and switching out cell phones since she was in China [in mid-June]." 

Holmes' attorney father even helped orchestrate his daughter's quick exit. 

In the wake of their separation, Cruise threw himself into work. The actor spent time in Iceland and L.A. wrapping production on "Oblivion," and was rarely spotted outside of work as he and Holmes attempted to reach a settlement regarding custody of Suri. 

Meanwhile, Holmes seemed to transition back into the spotlight more easily. The "Jack and Jill" actress made her first public appearance a little over two months after announcing she was leaving Cruise at New York Fashion Week. Cruise retreated out of seclusion later that fall when promotional duty called for his next film, "Jack Reacher." 

While Cruise is currently single, Holmes, 34, has very recently been linked to jazz musician Peter Cincotti. ( yahoo )

READ MORE - Tom Cruise on Katie Holmes Divorce: ‘I Did Not Expect That’

Lindsay Lohan Tells Letterman I'm Ready To 'Focus On What I Love In Life'

Access Hollywood - Lindsay Lohan visits 'The Late Show with David Letterman' -- CBS 

Lindsay Lohan Tells Letterman I'm Ready To 'Focus On What I Love In Life' - Lindsay Lohan said she wasn't expecting to be asked about a few things related to her upcoming stint in rehab when she sat down for an interview on Tuesday's "Late Show with David Letterman." 

In excerpts, released by CBS ahead of the show's broadcast, Dave asked the troubled starlet whether she was, "supposed to be in rehab now?" 

"Do you not watch anything that goes on? ...May 2nd," Lindsay responded. 

Dave also asked, "And how will this time be different? What are they rehabbing, first of all? What is on their list? What are they going to work on when you walk through the door?" 

"We didn't discuss this in the pre-interview, I'm just saying to everyone," Lindsay said. 

As the interview continued, Lindsay said rehab will be a place she can "focus." 

"No, I think, to be honest, I'm the happiest when I'm working and the healthiest, and I think this an opportunity for me to, you know, focus on what I love in life," she told Dave. "And I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's a blessing...and not a curse." 

"To be able to, yeah - it's perhaps a life saver, a career saver," Dave responded. 

"Yeah," Lindsay said. ( Access Hollywood )

READ MORE - Lindsay Lohan Tells Letterman I'm Ready To 'Focus On What I Love In Life'

Lindsay Lohan dodges rehab questions in Letterman TV appearance

Lindsay Lohan dodges rehab questions in Letterman TV appearance - Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan on Tuesday dodged questions about her upcoming court-ordered stint in rehab in her first interview for five months. 

Lohan, 26, told late-night TV talk show host David Letterman in an appearance on his "Late Show" that she was due to enter three months of rehabilitation on May 2. 

But the "Mean Girls" actress, whose Hollywood career has been wrecked by repeated court cases and erratic behavior since 2007, brushed aside questions about the nature of her addiction or her several previous efforts to change her ways. 

"And how will this time be different? What are they rehabbing, first of all? What is on their list? What are they going to work on when you walk through the door?" Letterman asked her. 

Lohan replied with a laugh, "We didn't discuss this in the pre-interview, I'm just saying to everyone." 

"No, I think, to be honest, I'm the happiest when I'm working and the healthiest, and I think this an opportunity for me to, you know, focus on what I love in life. And I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's a blessing ... and not a curse," she added, according to an excerpt released by CBS television ahead of Tuesday's broadcast. 

Lohan was ordered in March to spend three months in a locked rehab facility, do 30 days of community labor, and undergo psychotherapy for 18 months in a plea bargain over charges arising from a June 2012 car crash in Southern California. 

The deal, struck in Los Angeles Superior Court, allowed her to avoid jail in return for pleading no contest to charges that she lied to police when she said she was not behind the wheel when her Porsche smashed into a truck. 

Lohan has been jailed or placed under house arrest for short periods numerous times since 2007, including three times in 2011. She has also spent at least five periods in rehab in the last six years, saying after each stint that she was a changed woman. 

Tuesday's appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman," ostensibly to promote this weekend's release "Scary Movie 5," in which she has a cameo with Charlie Sheen, was Lohan's first interview since November 2012. ( Reuters )

READ MORE - Lindsay Lohan dodges rehab questions in Letterman TV appearance

Danish historian finds unknown Andersen fairy tale

Danish historian finds unknown Andersen fairy tale — A Danish historian says he has discovered what he believes is a previously unknown fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen.

Retired historian Esben Brage said Thursday he found the six-page text in early October while searching in the National Archives through boxes that had belonged to wealthy families from Andersen's home-town of Odense in central Denmark.

A newly found manuscript of a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen which has been located in Odense, pictured in the State Archives in Copenhagen, Denmark Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. The story of ‘The Tallow Candle’ might have been written about 1823, when he was 18 year old. (AP Photo/POLFOTO, Martin Bubandt) DENMARK OUT 
A newly found manuscript of a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen which has been located in Odense, pictured in the State Archives in Copenhagen, Denmark Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. The story of ‘The Tallow Candle’ might have been written about 1823, when he was 18 year old. (AP Photo/POLFOTO, Martin Bubandt) DENMARK OUT

"I was ecstatic. I immediately contacted the curator to tell him about my discovery. I had never imagined this," Brage said.

The handwritten tale, entitled "Tallow Candle," and dedicated to a vicar's widow named Bunkeflod who had lived across from Andersen's home, had been left seemingly untouched at the bottom of one of the boxes.

The short story tells the tale of how a tallow candle seeks help from a tinder box to be able to ignite itself.

A senior curator at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense said the work is likely one of the author's earliest, written seven years before his official debut in 1830.

"I often get calls about stuff thought to have been off Andersen's hand. Most of the time, it is not. This time I was thrilled," Ejnar Stig Askgaard told The Associated Press. "This is a very early attempt at prose by Andersen who was then 18."

Askgaard said Andersen knew the Bunkeflod widow well and regularly visited her, reading to her and borrowing books from her, even after he moved to Copenhagen to attend university.

"The text is not at the level of the more mature fairy tales that we know from Andersen's later writing," Askgaard said. "I have no doubts ... this has been written by Andersen."

Born to a charwoman and a shoemaker in 1805, Andersen wrote nearly 160 fairy tales in his life including classics like "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Little Mermaid." He has also written dozens of novels, poems and travel journals. ( Associated Press )

READ MORE - Danish historian finds unknown Andersen fairy tale

Scientists get to the bottom of what wiped out Australia's ancient gentle giants

Scientists get to the bottom of what wiped out Australia's ancient gentle giants - Human hunters were mainly responsible for wiping out Australia's megafauna, a study has concluded.

The reasons behind the demise of the giant animals that once roamed the continent – such as rhinoceros-sized diprotodons, towering kangaroos, marsupial lions and birds twice the size of emus – have long been hotly debated, with hunting, the human use of fire, and climate change blamed.

Chris Johnson, of the University of Tasmania, said his team had solved the extinction mystery by studying fungi that thrive in the dung of large herbivores.

The team examined two cores of sediment from Lynch's Crater, a swamp in north-east Queensland, dating back 130,000 years.

They counted the spores of these fungi and looked for pollen and charcoal in the sediments as indicators of vegetation change and fire.

Professor Johnson said the research showed megafauna numbers were stable until about 40,000 years ago, despite several periods of drying.

"This rules out climate change as a cause of extinction," he said.

The giant herbivore population crashed soon after humans arrived, with the number of spores in the sediment virtually disappearing. "So it seems that people did it."

The study, published in the journal Science, showed that after the demise of the megafauna, the vegetation changed and fire activity increased, with rainforest species disappearing and grassy eucalypt-dominated forests expanding.

But Judith Field, of the University of NSW, challenged the conclusions of the study. She said it was merely assumption that the ancient spores reflected the abundance of the giant animals.

"The only evidence we have from Queensland for megafauna indicates that they were gone before humans arrived."

There was also little archaeological evidence from any site in Australia to show humans co-existed with megafauna, and none to show they hunted them.

"The results of this paper are interesting. The interpretations drawn from it are unsubstantiated and can be explained by other mechanisms," Dr Field said.

But John Alroy, of Macquarie University, described the data as "superb and decisive".

The debate had dragged on for almost 50 years because people thought it "incredible" that stone-age hunters could have had such a big impact as to wipe out the megafauna.

Gavin Prideaux, of Flinders University, said the study was an important contribution and supported mounting evidence that climate change was not to blame.

"To test the inferences from this paper we might look at similar lake records from other regions of Australia and seek fossil deposits in the north-east that preserve bones of the giant animals themselves," Dr Prideaux said. ( )

READ MORE - Scientists get to the bottom of what wiped out Australia's ancient gentle giants
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