If there's any endeavor that really does take a village, it's home renovation. As you tear down walls, imagine the kitchen of your dreams, and install large appliances, you'll be dealing with a team of specialists. Here's how to put together an Olympic-worthy dream team.

The Visionary


"I always half-rolled my eyes at real estate listings that said 'Bring your architect.' It sounded impossibly high-flown, perhaps aimed at the type of people who traveled with an entourage of servants," a New York City renovation survivor wrote on Curbed. "But let me say this flat-out: The best thing we ever did for our renovation was hire an architect." An architect listens to your ideas and helps you think through the design, then translates all of that into a plan that can be made real. Expect to pay 10 to 20 percent of the overall project cost.

The Project Manager


Think of the general contractor as your project manager. They take those plans from the architect and executes it with a team of subcontractors they have on speed dial. That means you don't need to spend hours of your own time to find individual tradespeople to paint, plumb, and carpenter. Even if your project doesn't require an architect, if your renovation will require more than one specialty tradesperson and cost a few thousand dollars, you need a general contractor.

Ask people you know for references and see if neighbors have had projects similar to yours done. The rule of thumb is to interview several contractors and receive a bid from each before you decide. Expect to pay 25 percent of the project cost.

The Stylemakers


You really don't need an interior decorator or designer for your renovation, but for some, choosing between hundreds of different countertops, cabinets, and floors gives a flooding sense of decision fatigue. In those cases, the expertise of a designer may help you feel less overwhelmed. Find certified designers through the National Kitchen & Bath Association (nkba.org) or the American Society of Interior Designers (asid.org). Designers will charge somewhere between 4 and 7 percent, according to Consumer Reports, but you can expect to pay an interior decorator, especially of the Million Dollar Decorator variety, up to 20 percent for them.

The Generalist

When your renovation is complete, you will hopefully no longer require the services of highly-trained specialists like plumbers, carpenters, and painters. It may not be a full-blown renovation, but home repairs will still come along that are too much for you to handle.

In those cases, you need a handyman or woman. Whether it's a silencing a squeaky front door or drippy faucet, hanging the projector screen, assembling bookshelves, cleaning the gutters, or power-washing the upstairs windows, no job is too small for this household helper. These people can also sometimes tackle slightly larger jobs, like installing a simple deck or building a ladder for your new above-ground pool. Angie's List says you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 to $100 per hour — but a good one is worth their weight in gold.

The Budget


You've got your team and your chomping at the bit for the kitchen of your dreams, but whoa there, Nelly. You need to set a budget for your project for you start getting stars in your eyes over German appliances and carrara marble. How much should you spend?

First, you need an overall estimate of the value of your house. One easy tool is to use Zillow's "Zestimator." Once you know how much your house is worth, a good rule of thumb is not to spend more than the value of that room as a percentage of your overall house value. Kitchens, for example, generally account for 10 to 15 percent of the property value, so if your home is worth $200,000, you'd want to spend no more than $30,000.

Where does that money come from? You've got a few options. You could refinance your mortgage, get a home equity line of credit, or a home equity loan. This choice can be overwhelming, so consult with a lender about which option is best for you.

Last but not least, you'll want to leave wiggle room for unforeseen expenses. Factor in 10 to 20 percent (or more) of your contracted budget for those imperfections that are revealed when the layers of your home are peeled away.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.