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November 15, 2017

5 Tips On How to Save Money for a Vacation

Nothing beats a vacation. Heading out for adventure or relaxation can be just the trick we need to refresh us and help keep us energized back in our daily lives.

The hardest part of a vacation, for many of us, is saving up the money we need for the holiday we want. Fortunately, you don’t need a huge payday in order to cover all of your expenses. Follow the 5 simple tips in this article and you could be well on your way to your next vacation.

Create a Plan

The first step you should follow to save money for a vacation is to create a plan. Not having everything laid out can come back to bite you, as those who have found themselves strapped for cash a few days before a vacation will attest.

Before you even think about going on a trip, you need to take account of all the expenses you expect, with additional money put aside for both unexpected expenses and as a little bonus for anything fun you stumble across on your vacation.

Create a plan, and stick to it!

A Little Less can Mean a lot More

Many of us tend to underestimate just how much money we can waste on a daily basis. A coffee here and there, a sandwich or pastry from the bakery – what’s the harm? What we need to keep in mind is that add up, especially when we enjoy them every day.

A better alternative can be to either reduce the number of times you go out for food or cut this out altogether. Making food at home, and bringing in your own coffee or tea, can add up to enormous savings over time.

Change it up

We tend to dismiss the idea of coins as real meaningful currency. This is probably because they usually only represent a small fraction of our total wealth. What we forget is that these can add up, and in doing so can actually contribute far more than people tend to realize.

Keep a small coin-jar by your front door, or somewhere else easily visible. If you keep at this for a while you might be surprised to find yourself with well over a hundred dollars in spare change! Every little bit helps, and lots of little bits can help even more.

Clean it Out

People tend to collect things, even when we don’t need to. How many times have you opened a closet or cupboard to see something which you haven’t used in years?

Rather than leaving small and unimportant items gathering dust, you should consider throwing a garage sale. When you actually take stock of how much you have lying around you might be surprised, there could be a lot of potential vacation money just wasting away in your basement just waiting to be snatched up. This has the added bonus of clearing up wasted space, so it’s a win-win!

Stay Inspired

Saving for a vacation is not something which can be done overnight. It can be a long process which requires many weeks or months of dedication and diligence. During this time, we can forget what we are working for, which can lead to us slacking off where we shouldn’t.

A great way to keep yourself honest and pursuing your holiday effectively is to keep little reminders of your holiday around your home and work. Each time you might feel tempted to splurge on something you don’t need you can take a look up at a picture or calendar of what awaits you.

Who knows, this time next year you might be able to replace these photos with ones you took yourself!

November 15, 2017

How to Make Your Workspace More Vibrant

Even the best job can become tiring after a while. This is doubly true for those of us who are confined to a small work space – be it a cubicle or home office. Fortunately, with a few small adjustments, you can make a huge difference to the vibrancy of your work area. In this article, we go over 5 top tips which can help push your workspace from drab to fab.

Plant Some Green

Most of us can’t move our workspaces into nature. As much as we can love the greenery of the outdoors, the greenery tends not to favor a clean and efficient work environment.

Luckily, there is a better solution. Simply by adding a small plant or two, your workspace can have an enormous effect on your mood, in addition to bringing in the vibrancy of the color green to business black and whites. You can even go exotic if you wish, and go for something far more colorful than the standard cactus or desk ficus.

Shed Some Light

Most people reading this article have a basic need for light; if you are one of our blind readers then this article might not be for you. What many people underestimate, however, is just how profound an effect the lighting can have on the overall feel of our workspace.

It’s not just a case of selecting the right location for your lights, as choosing the right wattage and tone can help create a specific feel of warmth that works for you. This can affect every other facet of your workspace, so getting the right lighting can really aid in tying everything together.

Add Some Color

Black and white are functional, but it sure can be boring. By adding some color to your workspace, you can help create your own personal theme and help foster a more efficient work environment.

That’s right, color can have a huge effect on a person’s mood, even when this happens unconsciously. Love the ocean? Use some blue to create a deep-sea feel. Gardens more your speed? Use the whole spectrum to create a visual rainbow to greet you every day. Coming into work to see a colorful workplace can help start you off on a much more productive day!

Stick it Out

There are many different additions to office life which have made our lives easier and more functional. While computers might be the big-boys here, even they can’t compare to the benefits of the humble post-it or sticky note.

These tiny little scraps of paper can so easily carry over some customized little drawings to bring humor and fun to your job. You can even get friends and family to help you by creating their own little drawings.

This goes double if you work in a busy office environment, where these noted can be used for games, office-jokes and even secret coded messages.

Straighten Things Out

Even the best decorations in the world can be a wasted effort if they are hidden behind a mess of clutter. By spending an hour or two cleaning up your work area, resorting everything, and tying your cables together, you can make all of your other work stand out that much more.

If you have a specific theme you want to work towards, you can even customize exactly where you want any unavoidable clutter to be, to really help your workspace with that individual attitude.

Who knows, a cleaner workspace might even give you more ideas to work with!

November 15, 2017

How to do Home Renovations on a Budget

Home renovations many inhabitants undertake are frequently costly. A few occupants have a tendency to overspend and think that its hard to stick to their tight spending plans. Although being on a financial plan amid your home renovations can be dubious and require a ton of patience and strategy it isn’t incomprehensible. A financial plan doesn’t also mean the outcome will be not as much as desirable. These tips will enable you to stick to your original spending plan and still accomplish your home renovation goals:

Tip 1: Get A Professional To Do Big Renovations

It may appear to be counterintuitive to pay a professional home renovations team however doing big and hard renovations yourself can cost more in damages and repairs than you initially anticipated. When you believe the activity to a professional, you get the opportunity to plan out a financial plan and you are well on the way to stick to it because they are guaranteed to do a great job.

Tip 2: Ask Help From Family And Friends

Labor is expensive nowadays and why pay for the extra hand in cash when you recruit family individuals and dear companions to do the activity? Persuade individuals near you to do a portion of the labor in exchange for pizza and lager. It can be a fun yet profitable day for everybody. Furthermore, you earn a bit of savings!

Tip 3: Check Out Auctions And Online Sales

You don’t have to purchase everything brand new for your renovations. There are auctions and even online ads that offer items in great condition for less the cost. Be savvy with regards to shopping and save more all the while. Taking an opportunity to check out different auctions and online sales will significantly chop down the cost of home renovations.

Tip 4: Add A Contingency Plan

Not all things will go as planned amid the renovations. There may be delays because of weather or shipment of item. Expect a couple of snags along the way. Take this into account while you plan a financial plan for the venture. Keeping a couple of extra dollars as an afterthought will guarantee that you don’t go over spending plan notwithstanding amid unexpected circumstances.

Tip 5: Have A Plan And Stick To It

It appears glaringly evident however many individuals undertaking a home renovation venture tend to relinquish their plans once they start renovating. Making even the smallest adjustments can balance the whole spending plan significantly. Experience your whole plan and make beyond any doubt you are committed to sticking to the details until the very end. Along these lines you don’t wind up going past your financial plan.

Conclusion

Discovering small ways to save throughout the renovation procedure can mean you never venture over your initial spending plan. Professional home renovations specialists can help cut the down the cost of the undertaking significantly. Know where you DIY capabilities end and when to call in the specialists for offer assistance. Spending a little extra for their assistance can cut the expenses down significantly. Never start a venture without a plan or hazard spending more than you at any point planned.

November 15, 2017

5 Facts All Homeowners Should Know

Owning a home for the first time (or just a new home if you’ve purchased before) can be an exciting yet daunting phenomenon. To help ease with the stress and potential worries, we’ve compiled five facts all homeowners should know. Also, we should preface this with the fact that while no one’s experiences are the same, it’s helpful to have a guide, even if it may not apply to you.

1. Stick to Your Budget

This one may seem obvious, but is harder to do than meets the eye. Set yourself a reasonable budget before you begin searching for you new home. This will help eliminate certain properties from the search, because it’s best not to shop out of your price range to begin with. Ultimately, sticking to what you can comfortably afford (key word: comfortably) will ensure you have more wiggle room for home maintenance, decor and actually living in the long run.

2. Pre-Approval

This is an important step in purchasing a new home, and should occur before you even start looking. Basically, the process involves providing your financial information such as income, debts and credit history to a mortgage lender who will in turn give you a letter with a statement of your likely approved spending amount. It’s a great advantage to have when negotiating with sellers, but it shouldn’t be considered a slam dunk. Just because you’re pre-approved doesn’t necessarily mean that closing a deal will be quick and simple, but it sure helps.

3. Home Maintenance is Important

Not to mention costly. Unlike a rental property, when the landlord will take care of all those pesky fixes, a property that’s yours requires maintenance out of your own pocket. Be prepared to take care of your home – after all, you did just spend your life savings on it, you want to maintain it and keep it in the best condition for both your living situation and if you wish to sell in the future. Apply common sense, too – older homes will require more maintenance at higher costs, while newer generally require less. Be sure to set some funds aside allocated to these types of costs.

4. Don’t Splurge on Furnishing

You just spent your life’s savings on a new house, you want it to look fabulous and feel like a home. We get it. But be reasonable with your spending. Purchase the essentials, and maybe a few nice things that will help bring that homey feel to your new place. Anything else can wait. Pick out the expensive luxuries you want and work hard to save for them. This will ensure that you can actually live in and enjoy your new home without any unnecessary added financial pressure.

5. Home Insurance

Get home insurance, immediately. This isn’t one of those things you can put off until there’s enough money to spend on it – obviously, seeing as your mortgage broker requires you to buy it. However, you might also need life insurance and/or disability-income insurance to cover and protect a partner or child who may count on your income, should something unpredictable happen to you and your wellbeing. Consider also car insurance or any other legal protection policies you may require, particularly if you’re a sole proprietor (self-employed) with less asset cover.

Now you can go forth and fulfil your homeowner dreams with all you should know fresh in your mind. Good luck!

November 15, 2017

5 Facts About Thailand Travel

If you’re looking for a relatively cheap travel option that will also whisk you away to tropical beaches, an array of rich culture and one of the best countries to visit in Southeast Asia, Thailand may be just what you’re looking for. However, there’s a few things you should keep in mind before you go. Here’s five facts about Thailand travel to help you plan your trip.

1. Best time to go: Thailand weather is broken down to two main seasons, known as the wet (or low) and the dry (or high) seasons. The dry season occurs between November and March and the wet from July through to October. With a generally warm year-round climate overall, it’s still best to make sure weather conditions are right for what you want to do before you go. For example, in peak seasons like Christmas time there will be far more tourists and higher costs, while some places close in the wet seasons due to storms.

2. What to wear: It’s important to respect the Thailand culture when visiting. Though you could wear flip-flops(rubber soled shoes) just about anywhere, there are some cultural factors to consider. Visiting temples, ruins or sacred places requires covering the entirety of your arms and legs with longer clothing as a sign of respect. In areas such as public beaches and swimming pools, swimwear such as bikinis are fine to wear, but clothing that surpasses your knees and shoulders must be worn in other public places.

3. What to do: There’s plenty to see and do in the beautiful land of Thailand. You can partake in jungle trekking, visit National Parks or museums, seek out elephant sanctuaries, take a tour of the many tropical islands (and maybe even scuba-dive, this is offered particularly at the Similan islands), go shopping at one of the many floating markets, explore one of the cities or visit ancient temples and ruins. Bear in mind that these things will cost a range of different prices, and some involving hiring drivers or tour-guides.

4. Laws:Beware of Thailand’s laws and safety before you go to ensure you don’t wind up getting yourself into trouble.The people in Thailand have immense respect for their king and it is illegal to badmouth their king or deface him (so avoid stepping on any money). Drugs are strictly illegal, and the worst-case scenario is the death penalty, while you must be at least 20 years old in Thailand to legally consume alcohol, and carry your ID with you everywhere you go.

5. Watch out for: Thailand culture frowns upon public displays of affection, no matter who you are, so do not engage in such behaviour on the streets. It is not safe for tourists to drink the tap water in Thailand, so make sure you only drink bottled water. Watch out for scams when hiring motorcycles or jet skis and only hire them from well-known places otherwise they may not be in a safe condition. And lastly, beware of some lovely females on the streets and in bars who may not be as female as they seem.

Thailand is a beautiful place to travel, and we hope these facts and tips help you plan a trip to the beautiful, tropical beaches to smile with the locals and enjoy a relaxing or adventure-filled holiday.

November 15, 2017

5 Facts About Peru

The South American country of Peru is well-known and highly visited for its ancient ruins and the Inca trail. However, there’s so much more to see during a stay like the Amazon rainforest, diverse geography, art, festivals and ancient culture, and the costs are relatively inexpensive. Convinced, yet? If not, here are five facts about Peru.

1. Transport

Getting around Peru is actually relatively easy, with an array of options available. Lima has intra-city buses that operate well towards museums and the suburbs and microbuses are available but vary on distances. Uber is also available in Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa which is a great way to save some cash on travel. Registered taxis are another option, but avoid unlicensed taxis. There are also cruises in the Amazon region, and boats and planes are another great way to get around.

2. Hiking and Walking

If you do want to tackle the difficult but rewarding Inca trail to Machu Picchu, be sure to plan ahead and make a booking well in advance as it’s highly popular and spots do get snapped up. The winding, multiple day hike is well worth it though as you meander the trail of the Incas through ancient ruins and mountainous jungle. There’s plenty of other hiking and walking available in the country that’s less strenuous such as the Cola Canyon, the deepest in the world, Iquitos – a city amidst the rainforest for jungle exploration, or perhaps Arequipa known as the White City for its construction from white volcanic ash.

3. Wildlife

Unknown to most, Peru is home to thousands of wildlife species. In the PacayaSamiria National Reserve (north of the Amazon jungle) alone, there is immense biodiversity with many of species of mammals, birds, reptiles and aquatic life as well as flora and fauna. Particularly impressive is the pink river dolphin, for which there are opportunities to swim with, the spider monkeys in the jungle and the jaguar. In the south of Peru known as Paracas, you can even spot sea lions and penguins perched along the river banks.

4. Relaxing

Aside from all the hiking and walking, Peru does offer some elements of relaxation in its vast landscape. Beautiful beaches dot the coast, with surfing facilities among other watersports available for your leisure. A great well-known spot for this type of activity is Mancora beach, which experiences constant sunshine throughout the year and suitable waves for surfing. On the other end of the spectrum is a beautiful desert oasis in Huacachina for a perfect relaxing destination by the lagoon, surrounded by palm trees, with sandboarding and sandbuggies on offer nearby.

5. Safety and Altitude

Due to the mostly mountainous terrain of Peru, altitude sickness should be taken into account. Particularly if you’re traveling to Machu Picchu, take care and keep hydrated with bottled water, lower your alcohol intake, and rest well to help prevent illness. Where safety is concerned, some parts of Peru are subject to violent crime and civil unrest and should be avoided during a trip. It’s best to try not to venture out alone after dark, and stay away from areas within 25km of the Colombian and Ecquardorian borders at non-official checkpoints.

And there you have it! Some added information about Peru and its wondrous culture and landscape that make it well worth a visit.

November 15, 2017

5 Facts About Nutrition Everyone Should Know

Nutrition is something which we all wonder and worry about, but few of us really understand. The constant bombardment of advertisements and helpful’ information from less than trusted sources can end up confusing and frustrating us.

Fortunately, nutrition is one of the things where we can see a massive improvement in our lives by just keeping a few key factors in mind. In this article we list 5 facts about nutrition everyone should know.

1. Calories in, Calories out

The struggle against being overweight is everywhere, especially for those us lucky enough to be born in developed nations. Figuring out exactly what you need to do to lose weight, and how much exercise you need to do, can be a difficult task.

The simplest way to understand your situation is to pay attention to the calories in, calories out method. For this, you need to understand that an average man needs around 2,500kcal energy a day to maintain their current weight, whereas the average woman needs around 2,000kcal. As long as at the end of the day, you measure and understand this number it can be a lot easier to measure your portions and help prevent overeating.

Remember – exercise is great at eliminating a few extra calories for the day as well!

2. Not all Calories are Created Equal

So you’ve read the paragraph above and feel ready to jump in? Not so fast!

The key component of calories is the nutrition which can be found within. Some foods, often natural and unprocessed foods, offer calories full of both macro and micronutrients, in combinations which only help your body perform. Other foods might contain the same amount of calories as these, but without the nutritional benefit. These are what we refer to as empty calories.

A great example of these is corn-chips. We love them, I love them, but these chips offer an enormous amount of calories with very little nutritional benefits.

3. Supplements Aren’t Always the Answer

There are entire rows of supermarket shelves, and constant advisements on the radio, the internet, and T.V about various supplements which claim to help give you the nutrients you might be missing.

Take a pill, cover your bases, right? It’s actually not quite that simple. While these nutritional supplements may contain the very nutrition your body is lacking they often can’t be absorbed properly by the body.

We evolved to gain nutrition from food, not pills, so be wary of trusting the claims from these pills, and make sure to do some research before you buy. Some of them can pass right through you without doing much at all.

4. To Juice or Not to Juice

Fruit juice is delicious and makes a great side to breakfast. It also usually contains an incredibly high amount of sugar. This can be difficult for the body to process and can create sugar-highs which aren’t great for you, or your body.

Be sure to check the nutritional information before you buy these products, and try to go for natural and unsweetened juice. This stuff can come with only the sugar which is naturally produced by the fruit, which is easier to process and better overall for your health.

5. Organic is not Always the Best Choice

GMO’s have earned a bad reputation over the years. Sometimes this is earned, other times it is through pushers of pseudoscience, or through the shady business practices of the companies themselves.

What you need to know is that a food being GMO does not automatically mean it is bad for you, or the environment.

A great example of this is golden rice, created by modifications performed by Swiss scientists. This type of rice contains an extra antioxidant which the body can metabolize into vitamin A, giving it a decided advantage over some garden-variety types of rice.

Remember – if you are unsure then you should be sure to do some research, and keep in mind proper authoritative sources.

November 15, 2017

5 Facts About Cooking in Your Crockpot

In order to create a satisfying and mouth-watering slow cooked meal, it’s important to understand some crucial facts about cooking in your crockpot. Luckily, we’ve covered five simple facts that will help you use your crockpot to the best of its ability and produce delicious slow-cooked meals for the whole family to enjoy.

1. What to cook:

The most commonly asked question when cooking in a crockpot, is what order to put things in. If you’re slow cooking some meat and vegetables, a good general rule of thumb is to put firmer, root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots in the base and lay the meat on top. It’s also important to choose the right meat for crockpot cooking, which is fattier and tougher meats that will turn tender and retain moisture and remain juicy, over leaner meats that are likely to dry out.

 

2. Temperatures

On most models of crockpot, cooking on a low setting such as 170 degrees F will take about double the time of cooking on a high one, such as 280 degrees F. Be sure to use the right temperature for the right contents, and avoid being in the Danger Zone for too long (bacteria thrive between temperatures of 40 and 140 degrees F). This also applies to using frozen food, which should be avoided at all costs unless it is a prepackaged slow cooker meal which is suitable, provided instructions are followed properly.

3. Unplugged

If your crockpot was accidently unplugged, or you forgot to turn it on, or you tried to cook on the warm setting, then the food you used will be no good. It all goes back to the Danger Zone, and if your crockpot wasn’t on the correct setting, it’s likely that the content has been sitting between 40 and 140 degrees F for far too long. If this is the case, your best bet is to throw out the food and start from scratch.
4. Keep the lid on

The biggest rookie mistake when using a crockpot is taking the lid off during cooking. Keep in mind that each time the lid is removed; this will add an extra 15 to 20 minutes of cooking to your already lengthy cooking time. Crockpots work best when left alone for the correct time period, and when intervening such as stirring is not conducted. Any interruption will simply slow down the cooking (and not in a good way).
5. Take care of it

Like anything, your crockpot should be properly looked after to prolong its life. Crockpots are constructed with a ceramic insert, which should not be exposed to drastic changes in temperature otherwise it will likely crack. This means avoid putting the hot crockpot or ceramic insert straight onto a cold surface like the kitchen counter. It’s a good idea to lay out a dishtowel before placing the crockpot on the surface. This also applies the other way around – if you’ve had the insert in the fridge then ensure you let it sit to reach room temperature prior to placing it in the preheated base.

And there you have it, five helpful facts to keep in mind while crockpot cooking. Now you can prepare some tasty morsels for yourself or to serve guests.

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