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Just like that weird smell coming from the back of the fridge, if you ignore your taxes, they won't go away.

I totally get it. Taxes can seem really stressful and intimidating. So much so that sometimes it's easier to just forget about them altogether.



GIF via "Empire."

But with a little prep and some research, the experience can be totally painless and, yes, even enjoyable.

If you're a recent grad or just young enough to remember the "Fresh Prince" theme song, there may be a lot of free money and deductions on the table. So put on your best grown-up face and get ready to do this. Because you totally can!

Now, whether you've already submitted your taxes for 2015 or you're thinking ahead to next year, keep these six tips in mind.

1. Get your act together.

Beginning in January of each year, you're going to start receiving some important tax forms in the mail (or electronically if you've set that up with your employer). The envelopes will usually say "IMPORTANT TAX DOCUMENT ENCLOSED." When you see it, stop what you're doing, grab the document, and put it in a safe place. If you're into fancy office goods, this is a perfect opportunity to splurge on a nice paper tray. However, any manila folder, Trapper Keeper, or padfolio will do just fine.


Do not keep them outside where they can blow into the water and your future wife has to jump in and get them. GIF via "Love Actually."

2. Call your mom.

Before you file, it's important to know whether or not your parents or guardians are still claiming you on their taxes. If you're a full-time student or living at home, you should really check in to make sure everyone is on the same page about your status.

GIF via "Party Down South."

(Plus, your mom remembers when you were really small, and she's going to be really proud and excited to hear that you're doing your taxes on your own. Let her have this.)

3. Look for tax credits and deduct like a boss.

First a quick terminology lesson. Deductions reduce the amount of income subject to tax while tax credits directly reduce the tax itself. Got it?


GIF via "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

If a tax credit or deduction applies to you, you should strongly consider taking advantage of it. Here are some that many millennials often miss:

Hit the books with the lifetime learning credit.

This tax credit allows you to deduct $2,000 of qualified education expenses. It includes things like graduate school tuition or courses you're taking to acquire or improve job skills. You don't have to be working toward a degree, and you can use this credit for as many years as you want. Still an undergrad? The American opportunity credit may be a better fit for you.

Photo by Brittany Stevens/Flickr.

If you're done with school but still paying, you can deduct student loan interest.

With this deduction, you can reduce your income subject to tax by $2,500. Like most tax credits, there are some income stipulations, but odds are good you fall under the umbrella.

Photo by Ed Ivanushkin/Flickr.

Going on job interviews? Deduct those fresh resumes.

If you spent time looking for a new job in your current field, then you may be eligible to deduct job search expenses. These include printing and mailing resumes (in case you're hunting for a job in 1975) and travel expenses. It's important to note, though, you can't claim this one if you're searching for your first job or if you've taken a big break after your previous job ended.

Photo by Robert Sheie/Flickr.

— Moving for work? Get reimbursed for that U-Haul.

Did you move more than 50 miles to take a new job? First off, congrats. Second, you may be able to deduct reasonable expenses you incur as a result of the move. This includes things like your plane or train tickets to get to your new destination, the storage unit you rented, the hotel you stayed in while traveling cross-country, and even the miles you put on your car. Save every last receipt and report your expenses on this form.

Photo by shrinkin'violet/Flickr.

— The government may pay you to save for retirement. Take them up on it.

The saver's credit is meant to help middle and low-income workers save for the future. (You can check out this helpful table to see if you meet the income requirements.) If you do qualify, it's a chance to get a credit for contributing to an IRA or 401(k). You can also stack your benefits and take your credit alongside your tax deduction. Boom! Now we're talking.

Photo by Ken Teegardin/Flickr.

4. Be sure to report your side hustle.

Drive for Uber on the weekends? Sell vintage tea kettles on Etsy? Win a few thousand bucks playing the ponies? You need to report all your extra income, along with gambling and contest wins to the IRS. And if you are a small business owner, you may be eligible for a few extra deductions or credits.


GIF via "Regular Show."

5. It's totally OK to ask for help.

You don't lose any adult-ing points if you need help doing your taxes. The U.S. tax code is complicated and filled with exceptions. If you bought a home, made investments, or just need help navigating some of the credits and deductions, it may be worth your time and money to talk to a professional tax preparer or accountant. If hiring a pro isn't in your budget, many communities offer free tax help from knowledgeable professionals and volunteers.

And if you already filed, no worries. Make an appointment this summer to see what receipts, forms, and documents you should be saving for next year.

GIF via "The Big Bang Theory."

So while death and taxes are pretty much certainties, this is not a season to dread.

Armed with all of your forms and a little inside knowledge, you can make tax time work for you. And in this day and age, you can even make the Internet work for you by asking a real, live CPA for advice or searching through more specific deductions to see if you qualify.

Just take your time, take a deep breath, and remember:

GIF via "Community."

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

Schadenfreude, celebrity fascination and previously inaccessible information now being at our fingertips is a potent combination in this trial, making amateur lawyers and psychologists of all who feel compelled to unleash their hot takes. And though the right to converse and speculate exists, is it always in our best interests to do so? Especially when it means potentially spreading misinformation, or at the cost of empathy and compassion?

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As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

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