Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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When it comes to her 10th, 16th, 18th, or 21st birthday, most parents will want to give their daughter something extra special. In a lot of cases, this will come in the form of grand gifts, signifying their passage onto the next stage of life. Of course, though, this time in their life isn’t just about presents. Along with this, they are also building some very important memories, and you have a great chance to shape the way they play out. So, to help you out with this, this post will be exploring the elements you need to get your girl’s ball off the ground.

The Venue: The location for your event will be one of the most important aspects of this project. Most little princesses will be too good to spend their birthday at home, and this will mean finding somewhere more suitable for their high standards. A castle, hall, or other grand building can be perfect. To do this correctly, though, you'll need to figure out the theme that your party will be following, too.

The Event Theme: The theme for your party will be very dependent on the person you’re throwing it for. For example, if you have a daughter with a love for reading, a book-themed birthday could be perfect for them. Most kids will make it very easy to tell what they do and don’t enjoy. Using this knowledge, you should be able to come up with a theme which not only inspires joy but also captures what your princess loves the most.

The Food & Drinks: With an event in mind and the location booked, you’ll be ready to start tackling the food and drinks for the party. Like the theme, this should be based on what your daughter likes the most, but you also have to consider the other kids at the event. In most cases, it will be best to arrange a range of options, enabling everyone to choose what they’d like before they RSVP.

The People & Invites: Making sure that people are at your kid’s birthday will take a little bit more planning. You will need to compile a list of the friends you child has, taking special efforts to include children who have invited your kid to their own special days. Normal paper won’t be enough for a day like this, and some embossed cards or fancy digital invites can be used to make it more exciting. When you’re doing this, you have to be very careful not to overbook the event your organizing.

As the last area to consider, a lot of people will struggle to have fun at their kid’s birthday event. Of course, though, this doesn’t matter, as this day for is for your daughter, and not for you. Keeping this in mind will make it a lot easier to create the perfect event for your little one. Along with this, you should make sure that they are able to get as much input into this part of their life as possible.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Treasure Those Special Moments

There’s those moments in your life that you’ll wish could last forever. There’s memories to come as well that you’ll hope will last a lifetime, especially if you have children. There’s just so much going on around the world and in people’s lives that it would be a shame not to capture it all. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be a holiday, your child's first steps, your wedding day. They’re all special. Luckily for you, there’s ways to make sure these special moments do last a lifetime, and this article is here to make sure you’re capturing them all in the best way possible.

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Relive Them

Sometimes memories are that powerful and good that you just have to relive them. For this article in particular we’re talking about holidays. We’ve all been on that one holiday that was so perfect. The hotel was amazing, the food was great, the weather was lovely. Just everything seemed to go so right about that one holiday, leaving you with the major blues when you get back. But what’s stopping you from booking another holiday just like your dream one? There’s plenty of years left in your life to go and explore other parts of the world, so just for one year you might as well go for somewhere you know you’re going to have a good time. Often, the best holiday’s were before you had children, so if you want to make it extra special you can bring them along and relive your favourite time with your favourite people.

Make A DVD

This is one of the best ways of making sure you have your fondest memories with your forever. Plus, you can make enough copies to send round to family members. Everyone loves to see a good baby video, especially your parents, so giving them a disk full of them is going to be their dream come true, as well as yours. People tend to do this for weddings as well. That is one of the most magical days of your life, and for some people who couldn’t make it, the DVD makes up for the action they missed. Companies such as Nationwide Disc offer deals that allow you to replicate your fondest memories as many times as you want. For occasions such as wedding’s, this is one of the best ways of making sure everyone, as well as you, can enjoy the special day forever. It isn’t that expensive either!

Scrapbook

One of the cutest ways of remembering those memories forever. If you’re one of those people who saves everything and puts it in a draw, then filling up a scrapbook is the perfect idea for you. You can print pictures and stick on the memorabilia you have collected over time. If you’re doing one that involves things you do with your children, it is the perfect gift to pass on to them when they become old enough!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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Want to add some country house character to your urban home? There are lots of ways to renovate your property to make it more rustic. Here are just a few ideas to consider.

Strip back the carpets

A simple way of making your home more rustic could simply be to strip the carpets away and show off the wooden floor below. Wooden flooring is easy to clean and is essential for adding that natural feel. Make sure that this wood is properly sealed to stop it from staining and getting damaged.  If you don’t like the floorboards below it’s possible to add some drop-fit wooden flooring over the top – this is cheap and easy to fit oneself.

Add some stone

Another earthy material found in many country homes is stone. There are lots of ways of adding stone textures to your home from granite countertops to ceramic flooring. Stone can sometimes be expensive – particularly the likes of marble and granite. There are lots of faux-stone materials on the market that can look the part, whilst costing much less. It’s worth looking into the properties of different types of stone as some are more resistant to scratching and stains.

Contrast tech with wood

Gadgets and electronic items could be taking away from the rustic feel that you’re after. Find ways of offsetting these with earthy materials like timber. Wooden TV stands can be great for contrasting modern televisions. You could even consider wood panelled gadgets such as wooden speakers and wooden radios.

Consider a wood panelled wall

Wood panelling can also be used on walls. This can help to create a cosy log cabin feel. You may not want to cover all the wall with wood panels, however a single feature could look pretty in a living room or dining room.

Add comfort with fur

For making your home more cosy, try using more fur. Shaggy rugs and throws can be great additions to a living room or bedroom. You don’t have to use real fur – there are lots of artificial fur substitutes on the market that are just as snug in texture. Fur can be difficult to clean so bear this in mind.

Use DIY storage methods

Try using alternative storage methods for hiding clutter. Wicker baskets can be a great rustic storage solution for storing shoes or DVDs or clothes. Mason jars meanwhile can be used as storage containers for wooden spoons and spatulas in the kitchen or be used to hold sugar or teabags. You may be able to think up an improvised storage solution yourself.

Light some candles

Candles can be a great earthy alternative to electric lighting, ideal for the evenings. Consider placing a few candles around the house on mantelpieces and tables. You can even place candles in lanterns and hang them around the house. If you’re using scented candles, try to use natural smells that reinforce the rustic feel.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Geeky Gift Ideas

It’s the time of year where you have to begin thinking about the ones you love, and what they might want for Christmas. There’s so many ideas that you’ll have for so many different people. But we all have that one person in our life that we really struggle to buy for. Fortunately for you, there’s things that you can put on everyone’s Christmas gift list, technology. Everyone loves some form of tech, and luckily for you there’s enough new tech being created all year round, so you won’t have to search far for the perfect gift. If you’re still thinking about what tech you can get people, here is some ideas that everyone will love.

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Gaming

A lot of people out there really love gaming. It’s fun, and there’s just such a variety for everyone out there. If you’re struggling for one gift idea, a console or a game for a previously owned console. A great new console out at the minute is the Nintendo Switch. It was only released a few months ago, but it has already captured the hearts of families all of the world. It is a portable playing system you can either play alone or two player. Two remotes attach to the board that holds the game. It is so much fun for bringing the whole family together, it is definitely something anyone would love as a gift, but especially your younger children.

There’s also online and app gaming that some gamers really love. It is another way of getting immersed into the world of gaming, but in a more competitive nature. There are some great massive multiplayer online role playing games that hook people all around the world. If you know you have a geeky gamer in your life, treat them to something like the new Final Fantasy game. You can pay for it to play on the internet, which offers a more responsive gaming experience, or you can get Final Fantasy 15 on mobile  so they can play it on the go. It’s a game that they can really get into, there’s quests to complete and friends to be made. It’s a game for a true gamer who appreciates online role playing games. If you know someone like this, it’s definitely worth getting for them.

Virtual Reality

This sort of comes under gaming, but there’s a bit more to virtual reality than just that. Yes, it is mainly for gaming at the minute. Big gaming giants such as Playstation have brought out their own version of it, but none of the other gaming platforms have as of yet. It’s the perfect gift to just wow someone. If you buy the playstation one, you can get tonnes of games with it. It’ll really make them feel like they’re being immersed in the game. But, as we said, it isn’t all about gaming. You can watch films on there, or just make it so that you’re in amongst nature. One time they could be walking through Lapland, the next the Amazon rainforest. That feeling of leaving reality is perfect for anyone.

Speakers

Everyone loves a bit of music, so speakers are pretty much the perfect gift for anyone. This year has seen some really cool sound systems be produced, at a cost that isn’t really that expensive. Make sure you know the person well though. Are they the type that’s going to online want it in the house? If this is the case you can go bigger and better. Or are they someone who would probably like to take it on the move? Maybe the travel a lot etc. If that’s the case then there’s so many portable speakers built by high end companies that offer some crisp and clear sound. Or, going back to someone who might only stay at home, you could look into the Google home, or Amazon Echo. They’re two new systems that have been developed this year. They also aid daily life as well as being a speaker. They can make notes, set alarms, and even be connected up to parts of the house if you have the means to do so. Just one little command and they can turn the lights off as well as many other cool things. They speaker system side of it is also really clear, definitely worth a buy.

Those were just a few geeky gift ideas that’s bound to make a few different people in your life very happy. With Christmas only around the corner, it’s time to get that Christmas shopping on the go.

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The winter can be a wonderful time of year. It's the time when everyone starts to feel festive, and you're finally able to bust out those gloriously ugly Christmas jumpers that you've been waiting to wear all year. Of course, that doesn't mean that winter is going to be all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, you're much more likely to end up with thunder and rain clouds! The changes in the seasons can take their toll on both you and your home. In order to make sure that life doesn't get any harder than it needs to, here are a few household disasters that you're going to want to avoid this winter.

Blocked drains

Blocked drains are an issue all year round but when you're dealing with the cold is can become even more of an issue. It can prevent you from being able to do the washing up, take a shower or bath, or do just about anything involving running water. It can be tough to prevent a blocked drain, though being careful about what you allow to go down the sink is a good start. Luckily, if you need to unblock a drain, there are always people that you can call on. If it seems like there's any kind of blockage in your drains then make sure that you call someone right away to deal with, don't just ignore it and hope that it'll go away.    

Burst pipes

A burst pipe is one of the most unpleasant and shocking things that you can end up dealing with at home during the winter. What tends to happen is that the water in the pipes freezes causing it to expand which puts a great deal of pressure on the pipes. Then, when the ice thaws the lack of pressure causes, even more, weakness in the pipe unlike eventually it breaks entirely and you're left with a flood all over your kitchen floor. The best way to deal with this is to make sure that you're constantly keeping the water in the pipes moving. That way you can prevent them from freezing in the first place.

Broken heating

Keeping warm is likely to be pretty might on your list of priorities during the winter. Which is why it can be such a frustrating turn of events when you come to turn your heating on, and nothing happens. Since you probably won't have used your heating at all during the warmer months, you're likely to be none the wiser if it's broken. That's why it's such a good idea to test your heating periodically, even during the summer, just to make sure that you're fully prepared for the colder months to arrive.

Of course, if you do end up dealing with any of these things, make sure that you get them dealt with right away. Leaving them is just going to end up making them worse, and the last thing you want is for things to start to add up one on top of the other. These kinds of disasters can be scary and stressful, but you shouldn't let them beat you down. Dealing with them right away is going to make it that much easier to get back to living your life the way that you want and making the most of the winter.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Christmas holidays are well and truly on the way, which means that now is the time to start getting excited about the upcoming festivities. Of course, if this year you aren’t spending Christmas with all of your loved ones, it can be somewhat difficult to get into the festive spirit. It’s hard when you aren’t able to be with your loved ones at Christmas, especially as the festive season is so family-focused.

Although it can be hard being away from your loved ones at Christmas, if this year you can’t all be together, try not to let it get you down. Instead, focus on finding little ways to make Christmas special without being together. To give you a helping hand, below are some tips and ideas for creative ways that you can make Christmas special even if you aren’t spending it with your whole family like usual.

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Keep up traditions

Does your family have its own special traditions? Whatever these traditions are, do your best to keep them up. Just because you aren’t all together, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still do the traditions that make Christmas for your family. Whether it’s eating pancakes for breakfast, opening presents at midnight on Christmas Eve, or dancing around to that one special song, don’t miss out those little traditions. Remember, it is the traditions that make it feel like Christmas, so skipping them is a big no-no.

Send gifts

Just because you are going to be apart, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give each other gifts. Arrange to send gifts to your family and them to you, so that even though you aren’t together, you still have gifts to open on Christmas morning. When it comes to shipping gifts, particularly larger than average gifts, finding the right shipping service is vital - find a man and van service instead of using conventional shipping companies and you could save yourself a fortune. Christmas is expensive enough, without a huge bill for shipping all those lovingly picked out gifts. By sending gifts to your loved ones, even though you won't be together, you can ensure that the day is still special for everyone.

Utilize technology

Thank goodness for technology. Despite the fact that you aren’t going to be with your family this Christmas, you can still ‘see’ them on the day, it’s just a case of utilising technology, such as FaceTime, so that you can chat face to face. Why not organise to all open your presents at the same time on FaceTime? That way, even though you aren’t all together, you can still share the magic and fun that comes with present opening.

It isn’t always easy to make Christmas special when you know that you won’t be with all of your loved ones, but if you take note of the ideas above, you can make it a day worth celebrating. Christmas is about family, which is why finding little ways to include your family in your day even though you are going to be apart, is so important.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

If you’ve ever tried buying a gift for a man, you’ll know it’s no easy task. They tend to be simpler in what they want than women, and if they do want something they’ll generally go out and buy it themselves. So when it comes to giving them a present, most of us find ourselves completely stuck. However, there are a few options that are pretty foolproof and make good gifts for most guys. Here are some ideas. 

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Alcohol
If the man you’re buying for doesn’t drink, you can obviously rule this one out. However if they do it’s an easy gift, as you can buy a nicer version of their favourite. Higher end boxed spirits, nice wines and champagne all make a great gift if you know what kind of alcohol they like and is something they’re likely to enjoy and appreciate. A personalised glass and a great quality box of chocolates along with the alcohol could make it extra special. 

Experience Days
Sometimes a material gift just doesn't seem right, and nothing you can pick from the shelves of a store seem suitable. Maybe you need an alternative because the guy you're buying for isn't materialistic, or maybe you're in search of gifts for the man who has everything. Either way, an experience day is a fun option which gives them the chance to try something new and make memories which in many ways is more special than a gift to keep. It could be a ride in a hot air balloon or on a steam train, a driving experience or even tickets to a concert or sporting event. Have a think about the kinds of things they enjoy and decide from there. 

Accessories
Smart accessories like leather belts, wallets, sunglasses and underwear are all good choices if you know the main well and their size and style. Ideal for a husband or boyfriend but could be an option for any male loved one you're close to. It's not advisable to go with clothes since these are such a personal choice, but accessories you could get fairly easily. Go with plain, safe designs which will appeal to just about everyone. 

Gadgets and Tech
We all love our gadgets, and these are often targeted towards men as gifts as they usually go down very well. If you have a bigger budget, anything from a pair of headphones to a tablet to a camera could all work depending on their interests. There are things like drones, hoverboards and VR headsets too. Smart home has become very popular, and if you have a guy that's houseproud or a new homeowner, something like this could be a great option. You could get them a voice-activated speaker, and everything else could be linked to this, they could build it up from there. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

As a mother, you can easily become consumed by your kids. Their needs can far outweigh your own, even on the days you feel desperate for a shower, a hot meal and a reassuring hug. From the moment your child is born, you go from being your own person to being accountable for someone else. Their life depends on you, which can be scary and overwhelming as much as it gives you pride. If you have a strong partner with you through the early days of parenthood, then you know that you are lucky. A lot of new moms go through those days pretty much alone. Your days are stuck in the same routine from birth to teenage years, and it can get a little bit wearing! As a parent, you can find yourself becoming increasingly isolated from the people you once called your best friends. Getting onto different paths in life can be sad and leave you feeling alone at a time in your life where you need as much support as possible.

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A support system for a mother is an essential. Good people surrounding you when you are at your most vulnerable point can make a huge difference to the way you do things with your routines and your children. If you’re a seasoned mother, then you know the drill when a friend of yours falls pregnant: you need to be that support. The support system a mom needs should never be underestimated, and the amount of support you as a mom could give another is huge! No mother wants to ask for help; they believe they’re supposed to be doing it all alone and not being able to manage is a sign of weakness. In actual fact, asking for help is a sign of strength and there are many ways that you can help, and be helped, as a parent. We’ve put some of the best ways below for you.

Chores.
Think back to when you first brought your baby home from the hospital. How into the chores were you? Not at all, we bet! A new mother has a tiny new life to get used to, so trying to fit chores in around that new baby, eating, showering and finding time to sleep isn’t easy at all. If you have a friend who is in the middle of a house move, then you know that they can benefit from a service like Pack Mom, and you can get a free quote to find out how other moms can rally around to assist in getting that house packed and ready for a move. There’s so much more a mom needs than flowers and advice – they need the chores done! So, roll up your sleeves and get stuck into the odd jobs.

Time.
If there is one thing that a new mother needs, it’s time. You may remember the drill from when you first became a mom. The hours seemed to melt into each other quickly, so one minute you’re holding the baby, then the sun goes down and you’re still holding the baby. Give your friend a heads up that you are on your way over. When you get there, tidy up, make some dinner and then take the baby off her hands. Give her a chance to go and shower, take a nap and have five minutes with a hot drink. No mom ever thinks about the small things that make them feel more comfortable, and so they let themselves get into a state. Postnatal depression is a real thing, but if you can be the support system your friend needs, you would be, right?

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Photograph.
Did you know that mom is always behind the camera rather than in front of it? If you’re a parent, you’ll already be very aware of this fact. Take a few photos of the new mom in your circle. It doesn’t matter if she’s in puke-stained pyjamas. It doesn’t matter whether she has her hair in tangles and her face unmade up. The early moments of feeling too tired to do more than concentrate on a new baby means that you can often miss those moments. Grab your camera and snap a few photos of the new mother in that stage of total euphoria and fear, so that she has that memory.

Older Children.
When you have a new baby and there are older children in the family already, it can be really difficult to spread the attention among the group. So, helping out by taking the older children out for the day to do some fun activities and even for a sleepover can really give a new mother a hand to adjust to a new routine. You don’t have to feed them sweets and treats to get them to feel good, either. Take them to a new movie or spend some time doing crafts with them. The guilt a mother can feel when she is dealing with a new baby and not spending time with the older children can be consuming, and when there are other hormones flying around it’s the last thing she needs. Support her by supporting her children.

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Go Out.
New mothers are often left behind by their circle of friends. It’s not always an intentional thing, it’s just one of those things where a new mother becomes overlooked as she continuously turns down invitations. Make a point of getting her partner to help by keeping the kids occupied and invite her out. Before a mother is a mother, she was a person first. A person with feelings, opinions and intelligence. Don’t underestimate the fact that motherhood has happened that she wouldn’t want to be treated that way still.

Being a support system for a new parent is just as important as having a support system for yourself. Never underestimate the need for a good support system, and never overlook the one that is around you in the form of friends and school moms. Your support can make such a difference to your life, so be the difference for someone else.

Money is the number one cause of stress in the developed world. If you’re stressed out because you’re finding it tough to get from one month to the next, you’re certainly not alone. The good news is that there are lots of ways you can cut household costs and get more for less. If you’re looking to boost your budget and alleviate money worries, here are some straightforward solutions to try now. 

Picture credit: https://www.flicker.com/photos/pictures-of-money/16678606754
Reducing your monthly bills
Even if you have a stable income, it can be difficult to make your monthly paycheck stretch far enough. Most of us have a list of outgoings, which takes up the majority of our salary. If you’re left with virtually nothing after you’ve paid your bills, there are ways to try and get more for less and to reduce spending. 

Take a look at what you spend each month, and aim to bring each figure down. Start with your energy bills. Are you paying too much to heat your home or keep your TV running? The first thing to do if you can’t afford your bills is try and bring them down. There are many ways of reducing energy usage, including swapping older appliances and light bulbs for modern, energy-efficient versions and making a concerted effort to save energy at home. You don’t need to have the lights on all the time or the TV, a DVD player, a games console, hair styling tools and portable heaters running at the same time. Use what you need, and try and be more frugal. If you don’t already have one, it may be a good idea to invest in a smart meter. Smart meters are designed to provide you with a visual display, which shows you how much energy you’re using and how much money you’re spending. If the figures are abnormally high, this may alert you to the fact that you left appliances running, and it may also encourage you to try and use less energy. If you can see the numbers, you may make more of an effort to cut your usage, just like people who count steps are more likely to be more active. 

The second way you can try and decrease your energy bills is shopping around for a better deal. Have you been with the same energy provider for years? Do your bills seem to be going up even though you’re trying to use less energy? If you have been with the same company for a long time, there’s every chance that you could be missing out on incentives and cheap electricity plans offered by competitors. Have a look online and compare prices and contact your current provider to see if they would match deals from other firms in a bid to keep you on board. It may also be possible to switch to a different tariff to lower costs. If you’re out all day, for example, it’s best to have a tariff with lower unit prices in the evening. Many of us tend to assume that switching provider is a hassle, but most companies will handle the process for you.

Image from https://pixabay.com/en/light-bulb-current-electric-light-2722916/
Switching energy company is not the only way to make a dent in your monthly bills. You can also use the same measures to try and lower other bills. If you have an insurance premium that is due for renewal, for example, don’t just ignore the letter or email and automatically roll your policy over. Check the new quote and then go online and see if you could get more for your money. This applies to everything from home and health insurance to pet and auto insurance. It’s also worth comparing prices for TV, broadband and cell phone packages.

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Saving on getting around
Are you spending half your wages on actually getting to work? The cost of commuting can really eat into your monthly budget, but there are ways of saving money on getting from A to B. If you drive every day and you’re forking out for gas and parking, consider approaching colleagues about sharing lifts or talking to your boss about a scheme, such as a carpool program, which could save everyone money. If you’re only driving twice a week and getting lifts the other days, for example, this could save you a huge amount over the course of the month. Other options may include walking or cycling to work if you’re only covering a short distance. Some employers are really keen to promote cleaner ways of commuting, so speak to your manager about making this a more appealing option. You may find that you’re more inclined to cycle if there are showers at work or you have more flexible working hours that mean that you don’t have to be at the office at the crack of dawn, for example. If you use public transport, you can almost always save by bulk-buying tickets or getting a frequent travel card that reduces the risk of single journeys. A monthly pass for the train or tram, for example, should cost you less than paying for a ticket every day.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/person-man-male-commuting-bike-731492/
Eat well for less
How much do you spend on a weekly grocery shop? Most households spend a substantial amount of money on food. In the US, for example, the average household spends 6 percent of their income on shopping and a further 5 percent on eating out. Food is an essential item, but you don’t have to spend a lot to eat well. There are lots of ways you can reduce the cost of food shopping without compromising on quality or taste. The first thing to do if you’re one of those people who fill their cart with all sorts of things you don’t need because they’re on special offer, is start shopping online. If you’ve got a list, a virtual cart in the top corner and a running total, it’s much easier to make sure you buy what you need and stick to a budget. When you’re not in the store, it’s easier to swerve discounts and avoid temptations. Shopping with a list also helps to prevent overspending.

If you don’t like the sound of buying groceries online, avoid visiting the store when you’re hungry, stick to the items on your list and add up as you go so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise at the checkout. If you’re buying meat or fish, look for deals on frozen food, as these products tend to be a lot cheaper. You can also save money by buying foods that are close to the best before date and visiting towards the end of the day when prices fall.

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/online-shopping-cart-buy-online-1929002/
When you’re doing your weekly shop, it’s a fantastic idea to buy items you can take to work with you. Make sandwiches, wraps and salads the night before and don’t stop at the coffee shop every morning. Instead, boil the kettle and have a cup of coffee at your desk. The average American spends over $1,000 per year on takeout coffees, and in London, employees spend an average of over £6 per day on lunch.

Shopping online is not just a good way to save money on food. It can also help you gain access to offers on everything from clothing and gifts to electrical items. If you’ve got a particular present in mind or you’ve chosen a specific make and model of TV, for example, use the Internet to find the lowest prices.

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Affordable socializing
Many of us want to spend time with friends, but socializing can blow the budget. Nights out, meals, activity days and weekends away all cost money, and if you’re trying to save, invitations can become an unwelcome temptation. If you’re struggling to keep up, there are lots of ways you can spend time with family and friends without breaking the bank. If you enjoy eating out, but you can’t afford to keep going to restaurants, start a supper club or host an evening in and ask everyone to bring something with them. If you love going to the movies, but your film habit is costing you too much, invite friends or your other half over for a movie night or go to a drive-in cinema and split the cost of entrance for a car between you. Swap drinks at a bar or a club for a dinner party at home and split the cost of a rental home or a home-swap between you instead of paying for expensive hotels if you’re going away for a couple of days.

Image sourced from https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinnerseries/5062732552
Do you wish you had a bit more money left over at the end of the month? Do you spend almost all your income on basic living costs? Many of us would love to have a little extra to treat ourselves and those closest to us. The good news is that there are lots of ways you can save money and try and make your salary stretch further. Take a look at your monthly budget and consider how you could reduce spending. Compare prices to save on energy bills, insurance and shopping costs, try and be more disciplined when it comes to energy usage at home and consider cheaper ways of commuting. Prioritize what you need over what you want, embrace online shopping and prepare lunches to take with you to work. If you’re on a saving drive, talk to your friends about trying to save on socializing and try out some different, more purse-friendly activities. All these minor changes will make a huge difference come the end of the month. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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We all do it, don’t we? You know – putting style over substance? There isn’t a homeowner on the planet that hasn’t opted for a contemporary kitchen over a practical one. It’s just human nature to want the entire house to wow. Unfortunately, we put ourselves in a tricky position because an impractical kitchen is not food friendly. And, the meals we eat dictate our lives because they impact everything from sleep to mental health. So, a kitchen needs to be trendy and tasty at the same time.

Thankfully, there are ways to make it happen. Just take a look at the following. 

Restructure The Layout

Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t find it easy to cook in a cluttered kitchen, and he’s let you know! Appliances which get in the way are often a hindrance more than a help. Therefore, it’s imperative to move them out of the way to ensure there is a clear workstation as a well as a path. Putting pots and pans in the cupboards is easy enough, but what about the big appliances such as the fridges and ovens? Well, they have to stay yet may be better off in a different corner of the room. Try and use them to fill up hard to reach space.

Buy Low-Tech Gadgets 

You don’t need to splash out on the latest appliances to make it easier to cook. An air fryer is by no means pointless, but it solves a problem which doesn’t exist for lots of people. You can always fry food on the hob! No, the gadgets which Home Buying Checklist points out are necessary are the ones which don’t have a replacement. For example, it’s almost impossible to chop food without a sharp knife. And, a good quality one will save time.

Create An Atmosphere

The key to cooking to enjoy the experience and the best way to do that is with music. We all have songs which we love to shake to when no one is looking. Not only is it fun but it’s a form of stress relief. So, there is nothing wrong with putting on your favourite cooking playlist if it gets you in the mood. If you don’t have one, Greatist has some top tips. Candles and fragrances are also excellent mood setters so don’t be afraid to start a fire. Just make sure the kitchen doesn’t go up in flames!

Find Extra Space

Even homeowners with a big kitchen complain about a lack of space. As rich as it sounds, they are right because chefs never feel unshackled. Therefore, one fantastic trick is to create as much space as possible even when you think you have plenty. Start by finding every appliance in the room a home. Then, consider installing hooks to hang pots and pans and anything with a handle. Finally, put up shelves which are easily within reach. Shelves are excellent because they are high up in tight spaces. 

As you can tell from these tips, there is no reason to impact style. It is possible to have a kitchen which is stylish and plays home to delicious food.

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Moving home is a strange time for everyone. The excitement of starting a new chapter is contrasted by the fear of leaving everything you’ve ever known behind. As a parent, you also need to think about the kids, not least because those emotions are multiplied tenfold.   
  
Relocation will inevitably alter various aspects of your child’s life, and it may require some adaptation. One area that cannot be ignored, however, is their schooling. For most kids, relocation means finding a new school, which can be a difficult transition. As a parent that teaches your kids at home, you have the luxury of bypassing that issue. In turn, this enables you to get back to normality without any major disruption. 
  
First and foremost, you’ll need to mentally prepare your child for the big move. Keeping your son or daughter updated throughout the process can make a world of difference to their emotional frame of mind. Meanwhile, you can use promises of days out and bedroom upgrades to get them excited about the new home.   
  
When moving day arrives, you want the relocation to be as smooth as possible. Services like Bekins Moving Solutions take the stress out of transporting furniture. Moreover, it ensures that your possessions aren’t harmed. In turn, this enables you to get settled into the home far sooner, which can allow you to resume the academic learning ASAP. 

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It will take months to get the new property looking how you like it, but designating a suitable learning space is key. Meanwhile, it’s imperative that you get key services like broadband up and running straight away too. After all, it won’t only impact student life; it’ll influence leisurely activities too. 
  
Even when you work quickly, it may take a few days to get the home ready for learning. Thankfully, there are plenty of creative activities to provide fun and productivity. These can range from outdoor adventures to arts and crafts. Use this opportunity to familiarize yourselves with the new area while your child still gains academic benefits. You will not regret it. 
  
After all, school is just one part of your child’s upbringing, and it should link with all other factors. If the home is where they will live, learn, and play, you must set the right boundaries. Once again, it will take months to get things looking and feeling homely. Nonetheless, you must look to get the basic foundations in place at the earliest stage. 

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Your child’s happiness and development will always be the priority. However, it’s important to know that you are preparing them for the future in the best fashion. You should visit A2Z Home School to learn more about the homeschooling requirements of your state. Not only will this promote the right type of learning, but it will point you in the right direction for tests and examinations. 
  
Children can find it difficult to accept moving home, but they are resilient. Embrace new routines in the most effective fashion. This will encourage happiness and productive learning without any major issues. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

We’re coming to the end of the year, and it’s around now that we start to consider New Year’s resolutions. One that tops many people’s lists is to make their home more comfortable or closer to their image of the ideal property. But why wait until the 1st of January to start making changes? If anything, now is a better time than ever to start making changes to your living space. If you make sure that everything is clear before you put your festive decorations up, your home will be a completely blank canvas when you take the tree and lights down in 2018. Here are a few things that you should prioritise over the next couple of weeks to allow this to happen!

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Waste Removal

We all tend to have a fair few unwanted bits and bobs by this time of year. So it’s around now that you should consider having a complete clear out. First, tackle day to day waste. This can include whatever is in the trash cans around your home. Separate plastics, tin, paper and card where possible. These items can be recycled. Next, onto the harder work. Start taking a look through all of your belongings and identifying the ones that aren’t worth the space that they take up. This can be difficult. Often we will look at things that we own and think how they’re nice and how we want to keep a hold of them. But if you’re not using them and they have no sentimental value then they’re just taking up room that could be clear. If the items are in good condition, donate them to a local charity store. Someone out there will love them and get much more use out of them. If not, use an ethical waste removal company such as dirtcheaprubbishremoval.com.au. Companies such as this reduce fly-tipping and its damage on the environment. All rubbish that they pick up is disposed of in an eco-friendly manner at approved waste recycling centres.

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A Fresh Coat of Paint

We’ve all been there: felt adventurous and painted a room bold colours… only to have some regrets about our choices later. Now is a better time than ever to give your walls and ceilings a fresh coat of paint. Keep ceilings matte white and opt for more neutral tones on the walls. Creams and magnolias are often the best way to go, as they aren’t imposing, yet aren’t as sterile or professional as white. Throw in a quick touch of white gloss on the skirting boards and door frames and your home will be looking like new. This will be great for the festive period, as it provides a blank backdrop for your decorations. Then in the new year, it’s almost like you have a completely new, fresh property to work with in terms of interior design.

Following this instructions will endow you with the perfect home to start afresh in January. You can just stick to the little touches once the new year comes, rather than worrying about clearing out and painting.

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Insomnia isn’t the only sleeping problem that you can have. If you are getting your eight hours every night but you are still feeling tired, chances are that you are not getting enough deep sleep. This condition is usually caused by the fact that your brain is still highly active even though you are sleeping. Here, we are going to look at some ways that you can improve the overall quality of your sleep for an improved level of physical and mental well being.

Avoid Big Meals and Alcohol Late at Night

Eating a carb-laden meal and having a couple of glasses of red wine is the last thing you want to do if you have trouble sleeping at night. While both of these things may make you feel sleepy, in general, they will disrupt you in the middle of the night. You will probably find yourself waking up multiple times, and you may not be able to drift off again.

Disconnect from Electronics

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We live in a world in which it is more difficult to disconnect than ever before. But many of the devices that we rely so heavily upon have been shown to have a disruptive effect on our sleeping habits. The glow of the screens can interfere with serotonin production, which is otherwise known as the sleep hormone. So, you should get into a habit of switching everything off at least 30 minutes before bedtime.  

Don’t Go to Bed If You’re Not Tired

There is no point lying down if you know that you are not going to be able to sleep. The minutes that you spend out of your bed and doing something else increase your need for deep sleep. Rather than watching TV, you could try an activity that engages the brain on a deeper level like reading a book or doing a puzzle. Otherwise, you could go for one that naturally relaxes you like meditation or taking a hot bath.

Quality Bedding is Worth the Investment

The best way that you are going to create an environment in which you really want to sleep is with quality bedding, so it is worth going for the best. Split King sheets and goose down duvets will soon pay you back in sleeping hours. The more comfortable your body is at night, the more likely it is that you will get the high-quality sleep that you need to function properly.

Dark, Quiet and Cool

These are the three things that your body needs to get the best quality sleep. First of all, the best sleeping temperature has been found to be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. To block out the light, you can invest in some blackout blinds or wear a sleep mask. And if quiet is the problem, you can use some earplugs or a white noise machine.

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It’s not a secret that winter is on the way. The temperatures are dropping, and the frosts are starting to creep across the grass. You can see your breath in the air when you walk down the road and you’re slowly reintroducing those winter togs you have had put away since last year. Winter is well and truly on the way and while you may be ready, your house may not be.

The damage that winter weather can cause isn’t always as obvious as shutters blowing off the windows or creeping damp inside the home. Sometimes, it takes dealing with a leak, a cracked pipe and water damage to realise that there was even a problem in the first place. It’s easy to call in Plumbing Diagnostics to help with the issues once they become issues, but the best thing to do is to prevent them happening at all! You can but prepare your house for whatever Jack Frost throws at you and with the tips below, you can make sure you’ve checked off the most important things to look for.

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  • Gutter Cleaning. It’s a job that should be done at least twice a year anyway, but it’s time to get the gutters, well, gutted! Removing leaves, debris and clogs now will mean that the melted snow and rain will drain away properly. Hose the gutters down and get someone to help you by holding the ladder so you don’t have any gutter-related accidents.
  • Pipe Wrapping. There is a surprising number of people who don’t wrap their pipes in the winter. Considering that a burst pipe can bring utter chaos to your property, it makes sense to wrap the pipes in these rubber sleeves. You can get any pipe insulation at a DIY store, really, but it’s good to use something easy to remove. You could also use heating tape if you can’t get the right rubber sleeves.
  • Loft Insulation. Adding extra insulation to your loft can make a big difference to your heating bills. Heat rises in the house and without the right insulation, it’ll rise right out of your roof. This means your heaters have to work harder to keep the house warm enough to enjoy, and it also means your heating bill will shoot up.
  • Avoid Draughts. Did you know that a draught in your home can lose you up to 30% of your energy? Adding curtains to the windows over the existing blinds, placing knitted draught excluders below outside doors and covering your windows in see-through plastic can all help to keep the heat in and the cold air out of the house.

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Getting a home ready for winter shouldn’t take you long, as long as you are doing it early enough. The more you wait, the more you risk water damage from the gutters, high heating bills from the lack of loft insulation and the possibility of frozen pipes that crack and leak all over the place! Get your house ready as soon as you can!

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If you have ever come home to find a cockroach running across your kitchen floor, you may have been tempted to burn your house to the core and move to a different state. Pests invading our homes can be an incredible pain in the neck, as well as causing damage to our homes, they can bring in diseases and other issues too.

Ridding our homes of these pest is something which we all strive to do because let’s face it, no one wants a giant wasps nest in their roof or a nest of mice in their basement. It’s unsanitary and unnecessary.

Before you go out to the shops and stock up on the bug spray, you need to know that bug spray is not good for your health at all. They contain chemicals which can aggravate asthma symptoms, cause seizures and even nerve damage in extreme cases. This means that if you have children in the home you may to be using this as your method for eradicating pests.

As an alternative, you could get in touch with your local authorities to find the best termite extermination service or a more humane way to deal with your mouse issue- this way you know that the job will be done with care and consideration, and in a professional manner. Failing that, you can try out some more natural methods for getting rid of the pests which reside in your home.

Clean Out Your Gutters

This tip applies to mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will often be able to breed in the most miniscule amount of water- this means that any place around your home which harbours a small amount of liquid could be a potential breeding ground for these critters. To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to get rid of any small areas of water around your house- one of the most common of these being the gutters. Make sure that you clean out your gutters regularly to make sure that even if the mosquitos have laid eggs, you can get rid of them easily. The same applies to small ponds in your back garden as well as bird baths. You don’t want to get around to the summer time and have a whole circus of them flying around your home.

Weed Out Invasive Plants

There are plenty of prime places for ticks to breed- and they often love to live in invasive species of plant in the garden such as large ferns and Japanese barberry plant. These plants are hardy and will take over any available space as they grow, meaning that your garden could be overrun with these plants- and with that your garden could also be the perfect place for ticks. Ticks are dangerous creatures because they latch onto their host: i.e. animals or you; and they feed on your blood. What makes these animals even more dangerous is that they carry Lyme Disease- which can be fatal in humans. Clearing out the invasive species in your garden where ticks thrive can actually reduce the risk of the ticks you encounter carrying the disease too.

Always Shower After Being In The Garden

A piece of advice which could save you from being bitten by ticks and carrying Lyme disease is to make sure that you shower within 2 hours of being in your garden. This can be the perfect remedy to knock the tick off your body and prevent it from biting into your skin. This of course doesn’t apply to every single time you go outside, it is more for when you have been spending time weeding or getting rid of invasive species as we talked about above.

Rosemary

Wasps are nasty creatures who seem to attack anyone and anything without rhyme nor reason, they are the hooligans of the insect world. Luckily, wasps hate strong herbs like rosemary, mint and thyme. By hanging a small bouquet of these herbs underneath where you think a nest is or has the potential to be; you will begin to drive the wasps away as they cannot stand the smell. The key to sensing whether your home is about to be scouted as a wasp’s home is to notice when you start getting wasps buzzing around your walls in the garden. If they start flying near your home, they are most likely searching out the perfect little nook or cranny to set up and call home. You can prevent them from making a nest by hanging up herbs in the places you think could be potential nesting spots.

Although you never want wasps anywhere near your home, you can still leave them in your garden. Although wasps may have some serious anger management issues when it comes to humans; they can actually serve as a useful form of pest control themselves. They get rid of small pets like flies and spiders, and will also help pollinate flowers just as bees do.

Armpits

No, we aren’t talking about shaving your armpits. However, could armpit hygiene can go a long way to preventing small insects like ticks from making their home under your arm. When you shower after being outside for a long period, make sure that you also check your armpits in case a tick has buried itself under your arm. If you do find that a tick has latched onto you, you need be very careful with how you remove it so that you don’t leave the legs inside your body. The correct way to remove a tick is to take tweezers and grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Then pull up slowly and steadily so that the tick dislodges and is removed from your body. If the mouth piece comes away and stays lodges inside you, you will need to remove that too. Never ever use nail polish to drive a tick out of your body, because this can cause the tick to secrete toxins into you as it defends itself.

Use A Repellent

If you do decide to use a spray on an animal such as a mosquito, you must be aware that they are becoming immune to the main chemical inside these sprays: DEET. In order to effectively use a spray against a mosquito you will need to find one which is more natural than chemical. Sprays which are pepper based and contain eucalyptus can be great defences against these creatures.

Clean Out The Bins

You might be forgiven for forgetting to clean your wheelie bins or the bin in your kitchen- because it isn’t necessarily the first thing you think about. However, taking the time to clean these bins can prevent house flies from laying eggs in the bottom of your bins and your house being filled with these pests. One of the best household items you can use to stop flies from invading your bins is borax- which you can find in the laundry aisle at the supermarket.

Drown Them

Not in a mafia movie kind of way, but more of a passive aggressive one. Fruit flies will always become attracted to anything which contains fruit or sugar. So, if you place a small dish of fruit juice, sugary water or wine in your home, the flies will be attracted to the area and will drown in the liquid. It might sound extreme and a little cruel, but it is incredibly effective.

As with the mosquitos and water which we talked about earlier, silverfish are attracted to areas which are humid and moist. They thrive in wet conditions- meaning that if your home has a lot of damp or humid spots, they will make their home in yours. To prevent this from happening you need to take some measures to fully damp-proof your home against these creatures by fixing leaking pipes, improving your drainage system and increasing the ventilation you have around the house.

Cinnamon

If you’ve ever seen anyone try to complete the cinnamon challenge, then you’ll know that this spice can be incredibly intense and hard to swallow. The good news is that ants agree. Similar to wasps, ants hate strong flavours such as cinnamon and mint, and will stay away if you have a lot of this in your home. If you have ants in or around your home, simply sprinkle some of this spice in the area and you will drive the ants away.

Make A Trap

Cockroaches are perhaps one of the most hated among all of the pests you could encounter in your home, and it’s easy to see why. They are disease infested, they breed at a ridiculous rate- and they can survive without a head for at least a week! They are weird, alien creatures and no one wants them in the house. Making a trap for these pests by placing a piece of fruit such as banana inside a mason jar, and then lining the inside of the jar with Vaseline can be a perfect way to trap these beasts for good so that you can get rid of the infestation. The key is to place these traps near pipework, under cupboards and in nooks and crannies. You will eventually be able to pinpoint where they live and inject boric acid to get rid of them.


Knowing When To Stop

Although you might understandably want every single pest out of your home for good; sometimes the best thing you can do is leave them to do their jobs. Spiders are a creature which many people are afraid of, but they do perform a crucial role in our homes by hunting small critters and pests so that we don’t have to encounter them at all. If you do see the odd centipede or spider in your home from time to time, leave them to it. They aren’t harming you or your family, they are just hunting for food.

What People Never Tell You About Debt

‘It’s terrible’, ‘you can get out of it if you’re determined enough’ and of course, the classic, ‘you obviously overspent.’ Essentially, if you’re in debt, you’ll hear people telling you, not completely surreptitiously that it’s your fault. This is nonsense, and I can prove it with one statistic. In 2015 8/10 Americans were in debt as seen on CNBC.com, and if you think that stat has changed, you should probably think again. The world hasn’t improved all that much in two years. In fact, I would argue that while debt is terrible, being determined isn’t even the only thing you’ll need to get out of it. So, let’s look at some of the things that people will never tell you about debt but that are certainly true. We’ve already covered one. 

Overspending Isn’t The Only Reason For It

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It’s important to remember this because it can seem like overspending is the reason why people end up in debt, and yes, this can be a cause. In fact, you could even go as far to say that too many people are relying on the plastic in their wallets and purses rather than the money in their bank account. That, it could be agreed, would be a fair point. But it’s certainly not the only cause. Do you know what else can cause debt? 

Buying a house. It’s true, buying a house is a massive cause of debt for people, and we’re not just talking about expensive mortgages here. We’re referring to the bills that people just don’t see coming from expensive repayments. You can very easily get in over your head, particularly if we’re talking about your first property here

Or, how about medical bills. In countries like America, where healthcare isn’t a given, medical bills can certainly cause issues with relation to people’s finances. For instance, cancer treatment regularly exceeds one hundred thousand alone. Just think, finding out that you have cancer and then discovering that treatment of the disease will cost you your livelihood, but your quality of life's in jeopardy. 

Alternatively, you could just be made redundant. It’s easy to think that if you work hard, always do your best and deliver a great level of quality when working you won’t lose your job. But that’s not true. Workers are laid off all the time and what then? On average, it can take around six months for people to find work after being made redundant. That’s more than enough time to end up in some form of debt, particularly if you have to borrow to pay the bills. 

There’s More Against You Than You Think

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Okay, so your finances have been through the wringer, and you’re trying to recover. How do you do it? Well, one possibility might be to borrow your way out, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds. If you can borrow from a source offering a lower interest rate, then it makes sense, and that’s exactly what is on the table with debt consolidation. With debt consolidation, you can pool all your debt from various sources into one easy to pay the sum. Awesome right? So, then you can pay it off naturally each month like a basic tax. It’s probably sounding even better, but here’s the kicker. To do that you need to be able to borrow. 

You might run into a slight problem there with your bad credit score. Bad credit scores tend to scare off lenders, and you will almost certainly have one if you’re in debt. It sounds crazy when you’re talking about a loan designed to get people out of debt, but we guarantee there is debt consolidation loan lenders that won’t give out money to people who have bad credit. Luckily, not everyone is like, and you can read DebtConsolidationUSA.com for more information on companies that can and will give these types of loans out to people with bad credit score. But borrowing to pay off the debt isn’t your only issue. So, perhaps we should look at something no one will tell you about debt recovery. 

They Won’t Let You Forget

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This is absolutely true. You might think that once you pay off your debt, you can get back on your feet, but that’s not always the case. Indeed, it’s fair to say that even after you start paying off the debt people are still going to hold your problems against you and it’s all due to that annoying credit score. This can impact your livelihood, whether you can rent or buy a property and many other financial and personal issues. The fact is that you won’t just be working to escape debt. You’ll need to salvage your credit score too. There are ways to do this, such as peer to peer lending schemes. These are safe projects that allow those who need it to lend and borrow money in an environment where there is no risk. You can learn more about correcting your credit score on MyFico.com


This, among many reasons, is why the road to debt recovery can feel a little like a juggling act. It’s not just about paying the money you owe back. 

It Gives You A New Perspective

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On the plus side, getting lost in debt certainly gives you a brand new perspective on finances. You have a completely fresh outlook where you will be more concerned about how much you’re spending and where. As well as this, you won’t be so quick to spend on frivolous purchases and perhaps even avoid things that depreciate in value rapidly like for instance cars. A little run-in with debt is enough to convince anyone that it’s never a good idea to buy a car brand new

As such, you may just find that this negative experience helps you handle money far more effective and with a little luck, improve your quality of life. Particularly if you start saving more for rainy days and spending less on things that you don’t need or won’t want in a few days. We’re not saying this is what lead you to debt. It’s highly likely that it was something far beyond your control, but it never hurts to focus on the silver lining of the fact you’ll do everything in your power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.