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Staff Contributor

Staff Contributor

THE ROCK FATHER: The Pop Culture & Lifestyle Magazine for Families that Rock.

It's the premiere destination for the best in entertainment for the ENTIRE family, kids and grownups alike. Featuring the latest news and reviews on Music, Movies, TV, Comics, Books, Toys & Games, and lifestyle coverage including Home & Garden, Automotive, Cool Products and more, THE ROCK FATHER has it all...

You've been thinking about it for a while, and now you've decided to take the leap: you're buying a motorcycle. Chances are you're used to hearing all the statistics at this point about the dangers of motorcycles -- after all, it's true that they can be dangerous. However, motorcycle safety is actually on the rise in recent years, with the number of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2017 dropping 3% from the year before. If you're ready to buy a motorcycle, here are a few things you'll want to know as a beginner.

Do Your Homework

Before you even get to the shop, you'll want to do your homework on the different types of motorcycles available. There are a greater number of varieties, makes, and models than most people assume. Having a basic understanding of the types that are available will help you be prepared for when you start your shopping. Additionally, be sure to practice on multiple types of bikes. This will help you better learn the basics of riding a motorcycle as safely as possible.

Pick Out Your Preferences

Once you've tested out a few different styles of motorcycle, figure out what feels best for you and your personal preferences. Everyone has their own favorites when it comes to motorcycles, and you should look for bikes that compliment your riding preferences and personal style tastes. Check online reviews as well; you might uncover some issues or benefits with particular makes and models this way.

If you ride your motorcycle for work, you might also be able to get a tax break. Consider the area in which you live and whether or not this aspect of buying a motorcycle could benefit you. If you're self-employed, talking to a CPA can help you discover more options that can keep money in your wallet.

New vs. Used?

If you're looking to buy a motorcycle on a budget, buying used could be an appealing option. However, be careful if you're looking for a used bike instead of a new one -- used motorcycles, just like used cars, are more likely to have serious issues that make them less safe to ride. The safest possible option is to buy new, but not all budgets are suited to buying a brand new vehicle, so at least do your due diligence to make sure you're being as safe as possible. Certified pre-owned options are your second-best option if you're unable

Plenty of people ride motorcycles for both normal transportation and as part of a growing hobby. What kind of motorcycle are you looking to purchase, and what do you look for in a bike before you buy? Consider these safety options before you

The end of the year is fast approaching and many of us have still failed to complete our new year's resolutions for 2019. But don't fret: before the year is done, you can at least meet your financial goals.

While you might not be able to save up for that new car by the end of the year, you can definitely get your finances ready for the year to come. After all, establishing a plan now will help you start the new year off on the right foot. If you're one of the many people who want to better their finances for 2020, try to meet these goals before the big ball hits zero.

Limit your holiday spending

Each holiday season, we fall victim to buying more than our budget can handle. Even though you want to gift your loved ones everything they deserve, it's not worth digging yourself into a financial hole. Studies show that Millennials spend over $800 each month on unnecessary expenses, and that's before we account for the holidays. If you spend so much that you're struggling to pay rent, you need to take a second look at your finances.

The first step to limiting your holiday spending involves tallying up all of your bills and necessary expenses, including food and the occasional night out. Then, you have to subtract those numbers from your monthly salary. Whatever is leftover from that can be used for holiday goodies. Odds are, this number will be a lot less than you think, but it gives you a realistic budget to work with.

Remember that the best gifts come from the heart. It can be tempting to rack up credit card debt in the name of Christmas, but the loved ones in your life would rather see you flourish than go into debt over a simple gift. If you simply must buy a large gift, make sure it counts. Look for long-lasting options that are sure to give your loved one plenty of use, like home decor, cutlery, or new furniture. Estimates show that the average sofa will last about eight years before it needs to be replaced. If you spend big, don't waste the purchase on superfluous items without any real value.

Check your credit report

Did you know each of the top three credit bureaus offer one free credit report each year? If you have checked your score with Experian, you can still determine how well your score is with Equifax or TransUnion before the year is done.

Becoming aware of your credit score is the first step to improving it. After all, bad credit could bar you from achieving a good mortgage rate, buying a new car, or taking out future loans for home projects. You might even get turned down by a rental application or a homeowners association. Since homebuyers have a 20% chance of buying a home that a part of an HOA, a good credit score could mean the difference between achieving your dream home or looking for other options. Luckily, talking to a financial advisor can help set you on the path for success. That, or you can sign up for auto-pay to help you never miss a payment again.

Get your taxes in order

April might seem lightyears away, but it's much closer than you think. Additionally, the IRS can audit a business's tax return within the first three years of filing. If you don't keep track of these records, you might accidentally commit tax fraud without even realizing that you have done so. Avoid paying fees you didn't know you had by keeping your tax information in a safe place, like a filing cabinet or easily accessible accordion binder.

Open that savings account

There's no better time to open a savings account than yesterday. This helpful online piggy bank is one of the best ways to accumulate wealth over time. It also serves as a great way to keep you accountable for your spending. Once you establish a savings goal that works for your budget -- say $50 per month -- you can even choose to automatically transfer that amount from your checking account to your savings account without lifting a finger.

If you're struggling to save throughout the month, you can also rely on mobile apps to help track your spending. You'd be surprised how much that daily cup of coffee costs when you actually make note of each purchase.

Establish an emergency fund

When you live on ends meat, it can be hard to account for any emergency costs that might arise. But you never know when a sudden hospitalization or bothersome home repair needs to be dealt with. When only 60% of people are covered by health insurance, the other 40% will have to struggle to pay medical bills. Whether you have insurance or not, an emergency fund is vital.

By establishing a well-stocked emergency fund, perhaps stored in a separate savings account, you can rest easy knowing that you have a cushion should any disaster arise.

While you're not going to be able to shovel thousands of dollars into this fund before the end of the year, simply opening this fund is a healthy start.

Reign in wild bills

Now is the perfect time to weatherproof your home before heating and electric bills start to add up. With winter right around the corner, investing in a new thermostat and sealing your ducts should be at the top of your home improvement list. In fact, it's estimated that simply sealing and insulating your heating ducts can improve your HVAC system's efficiency by more than 20%. This simple fix will help keep your home more comfortable during the dreaded months of winter and keep money in your pocket for years to come. Don't wait until cold weather strikes to work on money-saving home improvement projects.

Rely on these tips for a better new year

Why wait to start on a new year's resolution? Before the end of the year arrives, follow these tips to help pad your wallet and get some peace of mind.

In a single year in Texas, there was one person killed every two hours in a car accident, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, when it comes to young children, their lives can be in danger even when the vehicle is not moving.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015 but accidental pediatric heatstroke has become far too common, as well. Since 1988, 818 children have died from pediatric vehicular heatstroke, which occurs when a child's body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. As of October 2019, there have been 51 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths.

A certain king of thieves has acquired a new throne. No, we haven't traveled into a fantasy world where a thieves' guild crowns its own king of their sector of the criminal underworld. This is the real world and in this real world, this thief acquired another type of throne. Though silver has been used in jewelry for more than 6,000 years, this piece of thievery involved its posterior superior; a solid 18-karat gold toilet.

Burglaries are unfortunately commonplace, with 2.5 million occurring every year. However, burglaries that involve golden toilets are few and far between. This is especially true when the golden toilet in question is a piece of art worth around $6 million. Only weeks prior, these were the words issued concerning its security.

"It's not going to be the easiest thing to nick. Firstly it's plumbed in, and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don't plan on guarding it," said Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, brother of the Duke of Marlborough.

It doesn't take a literary savant to see the foreshadowing in this scenario. The piece of art in question is titled America by an Italian artist named Maurizio Cattelan, a character oft referred to as the court jester of the art world. The installation is a piece of participatory art and -- sparing the details of the participation thereof -- it's a fully functional toilet made of solid 18-karat gold. Having been on display in the Blenheim Palace in the UK (pictured top), the Guggenheim Museum loan was recently burgled. On September 14th, the Blenheim Palace issued a tweet:

That unforeseen circumstance was, of course, the golden-toilet-art-installation being stolen from the Palace sometime in the night. While 35% of people wouldn't have discovered an establishment were it not for the sign, Winston Churchill's birthplace, complete with functional solid gold toilet, needed no advertising and could've benefited from better security.

"The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace. The artwork has not been recovered at this time, but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice," said Jess Milne of the Thames Valley Police.

This was mid-September and the valuable piece has still not been recovered. However, a couple of arrests have been made in connection to the burglary but the toilet evades authorities still. The AC Cobra was famous for reaching 186 MPH on British roads in 1962, but the most famous (and sought after) vehicle right now is the VW Golf that CCTV caught the burglars loading the toilet into before escaping. Police believe there may be another vehicle involved yet, but it remains unconfirmed as the search continues.

North America is the largest market for art only second to Europe. This doesn't bode well for the art piece, especially as more time passes with it unaccounted for. Of course, any sale of such an item as a work of art would be easy to detect due to its uniqueness. But, solid gold is solid gold and worth a great deal whether it's toilet shaped or not. Thus, the insurance company for the Blenheim Palace issued a substantial reward attached to the toilet:

"The reward is up to 100,000 Pounds Sterling and terms are by approval of the insurance company, which includes the safe return leading to an arrest."

The hunt continues and the creator Cattelan is in disbelief. Significant buzz has surrounded his piece ever since it was offered to the White House when Donald Trump was elected President in 2016. But, despite the satirical nature of the installation and the artistic voice of the creator, he's saddened by its theft. Though, the attitude in his words might deceive you:

"When this morning I was informed about the robbery I thought it was a prank and it took me a while, after a few checks, to come to the conclusion that it was true and it wasn't a surreal movie where instead of the jewels of the crown, the thieves went away with a bloody toilet. I always liked heist movies and finally, I'm in one of them. Dear thieves, please, if you are reading this, let me know how much you like the piece and how it feels to pee on gold," Cattelan said in a statement after hearing his installation had truly been blagged.

The search is ongoing, but once the golden toilet is recovered, we're certain its security will no longer be number two on their list.

When you're selling your home, landscaping is key. After all, well-maintained trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14%. But excellent landscaping can do far more than fetch a higher selling price for your property. In fact, it could very well save your life.

Although 83% of Americans think having a yard is important, having an attractive and well-maintained grassy area isn't essential for mere aesthetics alone. According to experts, the way in which you choose to landscape could have an impact on your property's overall safety rating. That's especially true in places like California, where wildfires have continued to spread, destroying thousands of homes and threatening residents' lives. In just the past year, the National Interagency Fire Center has recorded 46,474 fires in these areas, which have burned nearly 9 million acres of land. And while 65% of homeowners report repairing their roofs following weather damage, there often is no other choice but to completely rebuild after these fires have ravaged the area.

It's possible that something simple could help to reduce the risk of damage caused by fires, however. Creating what's known as a defensible space can keep a fire from spreading through specific landscaping (or "firescaping") techniques. Essentially, firescaping is all about reducing a property's vulnerability through certain types of landscape design. It involves surrounding the structural areas with components that are less likely to burn while prioritizing the modification of nearby vegetation, proper plant selection, and utilizing fire safety zones and similar concepts.

For example, homeowners living in fire prone areas should choose plants that are known to be less flammable (like broadleaf and deciduous plants or those that produce sap or less fragrance). The property should also be divided up into zones, wherein detailed instructions involving proper maintenance and planting techniques should be followed. Within 30 feet of a structure, for example, the plants used in this "zone one" should have fire retardant qualities that will not produce a flame if touched by a blaze. Generally, it's best to have more hardscaping in these areas and ensure that any trees located here have a higher moisture content. Irrigated lawns, ground covers, and low-growing annuals and perennials are typically allowed here, too. However, evergreen trees and shrubs should not be placed in proximity to a home due to their high risk of flammability. In "zone two," located further out, fire resistant plants can be used, which require little maintenance but that have a reduced risk of catching fire. Tree limbs here should be trimmed to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Once you get 50 feet away from your home, the main focus should be on native plant diversity and erosion control. And, of course, it's essential to remove dead growth and debris on a regular basis.

Whether or not you live in an area known for frequent wildfires, these landscaping tips can allow you to make smart property choices. Although 48% of homeowners planned to decorate their homes in 2018, there are plenty of those who focus on outdoor improvements throughout the year. And if your aim is to safeguard your home and your family, you may want to consider safety, rather than mere visual appeal, when designing your landscaping this year.

Just about any parent you ask has run into this struggle: with the busy schedule of parenthood, working out tends to fall by the wayside until exercise becomes a boring and time-consuming chore. This leads many parents to skip or completely forego exercise altogether. However, this doesn't have to be the case; there are plenty of ways to fit regular exercise into your day without it feeling like extra work. Try a few of these strategies to stay strong and in shape, even with the stresses of parenting.

Get The Kids Involved

While the kids are younger, it can be tricky to keep them involved with your workout. Once they've gotten into school, though, there's a good chance that they'll develop an interest in sports or other active extracurricular activities. Not all schools will have athletics available to all ages, particularly if your child doesn’t go a private school, which only make up 25% of schools in the United States. That being said, if your child shows interest in athletics, do what you can to get involved in their activity of choice at home. For example, if your child is interested in tennis, take them to the local park to play with them on the tennis court. Playing tennis for fun can burn around 208 calories in 30 minutes for an average man, making it a great exercise for both you and your kids. 

Plus, exercising is always more fun when you do it with your kids. 

Try Something New

If your kid doesn't seem interested in athletics, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. You don't need to bring your kid with you to enjoy a new activity or sport, and there are some sports that are best done while the kids are still at school. Try something new and exciting while the weather's still nice and the kids are busy at school. As many as 19.6% of Millennials participate in water sports; why not try swimming at a local gym? If you live in a big city, you can probably find a local rock climbing gym. Making your exercise into an adventure and an opportunity to get out of the house for a break in routine could be what it takes to keep you active.

Look For Something Laid Back

If consistent exercise is a struggle because it seems like too much additional stress, maybe what you need is a way to work in exercise and relaxation at the same time. Recently, yoga and other isometric exercises have seen a surge in popularity, and for good reason. Yoga can be a great way to meditate and unwind from the stress of parenting while also strengthening your muscles and improving flexibility. Nowadays, there are about 36.7 million yoga participants in the United States. It might be worth seeing if there's a class near you to try it out, but if that's too much of an investment, you can always give this type of exercise a try in your own home while the kids are at school.

Use Daily Tasks As Exercise

If there's really no time in your schedule to squeeze in activity, why not turn your existing routine into your workout? Instead of taking the elevator next time you head to the office, try taking the stairs. Try to complete some of your regular chores around the house a bit faster to turn it into a cardio exercise. There are plenty of opportunities to be more active from day-to-day if you look at your regular routine in small pieces.

Staying active as a parent can sometimes be a challenge, but by looking carefully at your daily routine and integrating activity where you can, you'll soon be exercising on a daily basis without even realizing it. How do you stay active as a parent, and what activities would you recommend for staying healthy?

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