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Upper-Intermediate Instant Lesson

A Hairy Issue

Pre-Reading Activities


A: Discussion
Answer these questions in pairs:
1. What things do you think couples argue about the most? 
2.  Which of these things below do you think it is important for couples to agree on? Which are not so important? Why do you think this?

Reading Activities

A: Vocabulary Hunt
Skim Part One of today's article and find words matching these definitions:
1. in an agreement with someone you both give up something that you really want (paragraphs 1-3) box
2. the person you are married to (paragraphs 1-3) box

3. important
(paragraphs 1-3) box
4. an example of something
(paragraphs 4-7) box
5. a plan showing how much you spend on different things in your daily life
(paragraphs 4-7) box

Part One:

Want to stay together? Don't mess with the hair budget

1. NEW YORK, Mon Jun 1, Reuters - Here's a little marital tip: When financial experts say couples should compromise on absolutely everything, there are times when you just need to split hairs. For instance, just try to tell your spouse how much he or she should spend on getting their hair done.

2. Guaranteed nuclear war.

3. I asked my social media followers about the way couples should handle the significant costs of getting one's hair done, and the reaction was fiery.

4. A sampler: "There are some things you don't share with your spouse, and hair cost is one of them."

5. "It costs to look this good ... and no, hubby doesn't need to know, nor does he ask."

6. "Smart husbands don't mess with the hair-doing budget."

7. "Two things men should only address if they have something good to say: hair and weight." (Continued.../)

Article © 2015 Thomson Reuters Limited. Lesson © 2015 www.english-to-go.com

B: Checking Your Understanding
Use Part One to complete this summary sentence.

Couples may be ____________ their marital relationships if they fight over how much money to spend on ____________.

C: Completing A Table
Fill the gaps in this table with information from Part Two of today's article.

$ total amount spent by Americans on haircare in a year
$ average cost of a visit to a hairdresser
$ number of visits for a man to a hairdresser in a year
$ number of visits for a woman to a hairdresser in a year
$ maximum amount spent by women on a visit to the hairdresser


Part Two:

(Continued.../) Haircare, in particular, seems to be an intensely personal subject for couples.

Throw money concerns into the mix, and it can lead to the financial equivalent of a really bad hair day. Indeed, financial arguments are by far the No. 1 one predictor of divorce, according to research by Sonya Britt, a professor at Kansas State University.

There is no doubt the costs of haircare can add up, and quickly. U.S. spending on hair services in 2014 amounted to a record $46 billion, estimates Parsippany, New Jersey-based consulting firm Kline & Co.

The average salon client drops $67.17 per visit for hair services, according to American Salon's Green Book industry report. That's a repeated cost, of course, with men going to a stylist 11.2 times a year on average, and women dropping in 12.9 times annually.

"As a woman you grow up feeling like expensive hair treatments are mandatory, almost like you're being shamed into it," says Dr. Phoenyx Austin, a fitness expert in Washington and author of "If You Love It, It Will Grow" and the children's book "Love Your Hair."

"You don't want someone telling you you're spending too much money. It's a very touchy subject."
 
That said, Austin says the final tab can easily get "out of hand," when you are combining pricey appointments with expensive take-home products. She knows of women who spend up to $1,500 a month on their hair.

ELABORATE PROCEDURES
Costs can disproportionately affect minority communities, where haircare procedures tend to be more elaborate. The average cost of getting extensions or weaves, according to the Green Book: A whopping $487.25 every time, up $137.29 in a single year.
(Continued.../)

Article © 2015 Thomson Reuters Limited. Lesson © 2015 www.english-to-go.com

D: Comprehension
Answer these questions using Part Two of today's article.
1. What is one subject couples who are most likely to divorce fight about?
2. What do young women believe, according to Phoenyx Austin?
3. What is one way people can spend too much on haircuts?


E: Completing Ideas

Use information from Part Three of today's article to complete these sentences.
1. Before you accuse your spouse of spending too much money on haircuts, you should gap because gap.
2. If you do want to persuade your partner to spend less money on haircuts, talk about
gap.
3. When Samantha McGarry's spouse talked about the expense of her haircuts, McGarry
gap.
4. McGarry explains the need for spending time at a hair salon as
gap.


Part Three:

(Continued.../) Austin, who is African-American, went for a more natural look years ago, which saves a ton of money on processes like chemical straightening. But if times are tight and there is room for your family's salon budget to be cut back, she advises that you look in the mirror first.
 
"The worst thing is to come at your spouse complaining about a salon bill, when you're shelling out lots of money on other stuff," she says.

"Make sure to frame the discussion that any cutbacks will go into family savings, or to your kids' college. That's a good way to massage it into the conversation."

Samantha McGarry once went into battle on the subject, and the skirmish was brief and decisive.

"At one point, my husband said something about the cost of getting my hair done," says the 47-year-old public relations executive from Framingham, Massachusetts. "So we had a little conversation, and now he knows to focus on other areas."

If times got really tough, McGarry would find room to trim spending and try more do-it-yourself coloring jobs. Truth be told, McGarry doesn't spend crazy amounts on her hair: $120 every now and then on a cut-and-color. She certainly does not want that budget shorn.

"It's about feeling beautiful, it's about having 'Me Time,' it's about all of that," McGarry says. "Spouses should probably steer clear in order to keep the peace."

Article © 2015 Thomson Reuters Limited. Lesson © 2015 www.english-to-go.com

F: Explaining The Headline
Work in pairs. In your own words explain the headline of today's article.



Post-Reading Activities
You may do one or more of these.

A: Research
In pairs find out one or more of the following:

Present your findings to your class.

B: Roleplay

In pairs role play a conversation between a couple on one or more of the following. You may do each role play twice and play different roles each time.

C: Language
Read these rules and then complete the sentence beginnings with your own ideas using the first or second conditional.
We use the first conditional to talk about things that are likely to happen.

    - If we spend less money on haircuts, we'll put the extra money into the kids' college fund.
    - When I visit the hairdresser tomorrow, I'll ask her to put some highlights in my hair.
    - If the hairdresser asks me who cut my hair last time, I'll tell her you did it.
  
We use the second conditional to talk about an unreal or unlikely condition and its probable result in the present or future.

 - If I was a hairdresser, I'd cut the hair of unemployed people for free to help them feel better about themselves.
- If I didn't go to the hairdresser once a month, my hair would be in very bad condition.
- If I were rich, I'd get hair extensions and wear designer clothes every day.

1. If I look at how much I spend on haircuts, gap.
2. If couples do not keep to their financial budget,
gap.
3. When I next go to the hairdresser,
gap.
4. If hairdressers gave free haircuts to everyone, gap.
5. If I were a famous hairdresser, gap
.
6. If women cared less about their hair, gap.


TEACHERS' NOTES AND ANSWER KEY

Reading Activities

A: Vocabulary Hunt - Answers
1. compromise, 2. spouse, 3. significant, 4. sampler, 5. budget.

B: Checking Your Understanding - Sample Answer
Couples may be endangering their marital relationships if they fight over how much money to spend on haircare.


C: Completing A Table
- Answers
$46 billion - total amount spent by Americans  on haircare in a year
$67.16 - average cost of a visit to a hairdresser
11.2 - number of visits for a man to a hairdresser in a year
12.9 -  number of visits for a woman to a hairdresser in a year
$1,500 - maximum amount spent by women on a visit to the hairdresser

D: Comprehension - Suggested Answers
1. financial arguments.
2. It is compulsory for them to get expensive hair treatments.
3. When you are combining pricey appointments at hair salons with expensive take-home products.

E: Completing Ideas - Answers
1. Before you accuse your spouse of spending too much money on haircuts, you should think about your own spending habits because it would be very bad to say they should spend less money on haircare when you are still spending a lot of money on other things.
2. If you do want to persuade your partner to spend less money on haircuts, talk about
how the money saved will go into family savings or the children's college funds.
3. When Samantha McGarry 's spouse talked about the expense of her haircuts, McGarry
'went into battle' and made her husband 'realize' that cost saving needed to be in other areas of the budget.
4. McGarry explains the need for spending time at a hair salon as 'me time'
.


F: Explaining The Headline - Sample Answer
In order to help preserve their relationship, couples should avoid discussing how much they each spend on haircare when they are trying to work out how to save money.

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