Top tips for keeping on top of household expenses

Top tips for keeping on top of your household expenses

Times can be tough occasionally, and the family budget can take a beating every now and again.

As a parent, it can be one of your priorities to balance the books, ensure the bills get paid and everyone has what they need to function. But with that can come the stress and extra pressure.

Especially if the figures are just not adding up. Life can get in the way sometimes, and things can surprise us like unexpected bills when we least expect it.

But how can you make your family budget work for you?

 

There are tweaks and changes you can make to your spending habits and how you manage the family budget. I thought I would suggest to you some of the actions and steps that you could take to make it happen.

First of all, make sure you have exact figures for things. This will help you get a clear idea of where your money is going each month.

Once you have scrutinised your outgoings versus your income, you can attempt to make some of the changes suggested below.    

 

Time to reduce the food bill

One of the first things you can start to reduce would be the food bill. Traditionally, this can be one of the biggest outgoings you have per week after your mortgage or rent payment.

Thankfully, it is one that is in your complete control. A great tip would be to try meal planning. This can help you put together a list of the things you need, and stop you from wasting food or spending money when it isn’t necessary.

You could also look at making some changes to the places you shop and the type of food you buy. Choosing to have an extra meat-free evening to save on buying meat, if that is an option for your family. 

 

Make debt a priority

Debt can also become a big part of your outgoings, and while you may not have had that intention, it is a fact of life that people have some debt around them at different stages of their lives. Instead of burying your head in the sand with it, take control of the situation.

You could start with receiving some advice from local charities who could give you some of the options that you have. Or, you may be able to start paying things back yourself. A top tip would be to pay back the debt that costs you the most in interest first. 

 

Switch and save

When you begin this journey, you will have itemised what you spend on other outgoings such as energy and insurance. But when was the last time you changed provider for those things? Many companies save their best deals for new accounts, and so loyalty may not be paying off for you.

Switching could give you some amazing savings each month. Doing this sort of check regularly will ensure you always pay the lowest possible price for what you need. 

 

Be savvy with your shopping

Shopping can often be one of those things that can cause you issues. Your children and family members need things. They are always growing, and yes, that means you need to spend money.

However, it doesn’t need to dent the bank balance as much as you think. You can use discount codes and vouchers in order to find what you are looking for and save some money in the process. Plus sales are always a great place to shop and buy ahead of time.

You could also hop online for items that you need more frequently such as prescription glasses. Websites like https://www.eyeglasses.com can be very useful and offer up some great savings. You might also want to seek out the amazon deals where subscribing for items you buy frequently can give you some great savings. 

 

Recycle where possible 

Recycling isn’t just about your waste and rubbish; it is also about recycling older things from your older children for your young ones.

Toys, clothes, uniforms, they can all be stored and then reused when the time comes. It can be a great way to make some savings on those essential purchases that you know are on there way. 

 

Plan as much as you can 

Finally, planning can be a great way to ensure that you do all that you can to make some savings. You can plan birthdays and occasions. You can take time to plan Christmas by putting together lists of what you need to buy and save for. You can also plan for vacations.

Planning can help you save and prepare for what spending you need to make, so it doesn’t hit you too hard when the time comes. 

 

Let’s hope that these tips help you to boost the family budget and feel more in control of your finances. 

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Making lifestyle changes that last

Lifestyle changes that last

None of us – absolutely not a single one of us – is getting any younger. Ever since time began, there’s been no way to escape it. No way to hit pause. No way to rewind time to go back and make better decisions.

All we have is hindsight, and trying our best to learn from the mistakes of others. 

 

No matter which stage of life you find yourself muddling through, contemplating the ifs, buts, and maybes of yesterday, yesteryear, and what’s to come, there are most likely very few people reading this who think “um, nah, I’m fine actually, finances, relationships, career, fitness, all in check, but thanks for asking”.

It just doesn’t happen. That way of thinking is for the mega rich. The affluent 1%. The people who only have to worry about whether the name “Bigshot McBigshot Face” is taken for their yacht. 

Change is hard. Change that lasts is harder. That’s why we’re going to look at some tips for gaining the edge over lethargy and indecision. 

 

Plan it. Draw a chart. Get some markers and stickers.

It may sound silly, but whatever your goal is – from losing weight to saving money or even placing advertisements for a new drummer for your band – you probably need to hit daily and weekly goals of ‘bits’ of effort to chip away at your plan.

Think about it.

How much have you actually done this MONTH towards achieving that thing you want to do? South of zero? Yeah. See the issue? 

Let’s say you want to quit smoking (bonus lifestyle tip: you could even aim to switch to vaping to help ditch the cigarettes – see this range of vaping liquids). You need about three months to kick the cravings. That means you need a chart for 12 weeks.

Where you can see your progress, you’re more likely to stick to your goals.

You need a wall chart. With days mapped out and stickers ready to put in the boxes to show you how you’re progressing. 

 

Don’t overdo it – too much too fast is … too much

Here’s the thing about lifestyle changes that stick. You won’t lose weight overnight. You won’t become rich by Friday. Just like you’re not going to get the new job or meet the person of your dreams by sitting on the couch and doing nothing about it.

But can you do too much too fast? Yes, you can.

Don’t try to change too much at any one time in your life.

Pick one thing to straighten out. Health. Love life. Finances. Career. Whatever it is, nail it. One of the best ways to ‘nail it’ is to involve a friend. Tell someone what you’re thinking. They will shed some light on the issue, too. Plus, this regular support can be invaluable in keeping you on track. 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Get more organised blogger

3 ways to get more organised as a blogger

I started writing this blog a little over 5 years ago, when I didn’t go back to my office job at the end of my maternity leave.

Back then I had no idea what was really involved in running a blog.  I was completely unaware of all the work that was involved, all the different things I’d have to learn and the endless to-do list I’d end up trying to keep on top of.

5 years down the line and I’m still learning, and still working on finding ways to get to the bottom of that to-do list.  There are a few things I’ve picked up though that can help with being more organised as a blogger.

 

 

1. Create a schedule

I do have a weird resistance to this and it’s taken me a long time to accept that having a schedule of sorts is actually really helpful in getting my blog life organised.

Knowing what content I’ll be publishing when and where takes away the stress of trying to come up with something on the spur of the moment.

The editorial calendar plugin for WordPress is a huge help in getting my blog posts scheduled.  It lets me put in drafts of posts which I can then drag around the calendar to the days I want to post them.  Then once they’re ready to go I can schedule them to go live whenever I want.

Having a schedule for blog posts is one thing, but it’s only one part of the puzzle.  Another key factor in getting organised as a blogger is to set up a social media posting schedule.  You can keep this as simple as planning out what content you’ll share on which channel in a spreadsheet, or you can use something like ContentCal to make life even easier for yourself.

You can get all your social media posts drafted out and then schedule them to go live at a set time each week, or whenever you want them to be published.  Having a social media plan instead of scrabbling around each day wondering what to share can make a big difference in how organised you feel as a blogger.  Saying that, it’s something that I’m still working on getting on top of!

 

2. Batch your content

This is something you’ll hear productivity experts talk about all the time, and it’s because it really works.

What it means is that you do a load of the same type of job at the same time.  So when you’re in the mood to write, you sit and write out drafts for your next 4 blog posts.  If you have amazing light in your house one day, then you spend a few hours getting all the photos you need for the next few weeks taken in one go.

When we stick with one type of activity we get into a state of flow, and are so much more productive than when we chop and change and jump from one activity to the next.

 

3. Keep a notebook handy

One of the simplest ways to get more organised as a blogger is to just keep a notebook handy.

You can have just one that you keep on you, or have a few dotted around the house and in your bag so you can jot down ideas whenever and wherever they come to you.

Whether it’s a brilliant idea for a blog post series or a note to remind yourself to reply to an email or take a photo of something, you’ll need somewhere to record all the thoughts that pop in your head throughout the day.

If a physical notebook doesn’t work for you then you can try using the notes app on your phone, or downloading something like trello or evernote that you can sync across all your devices so you can access all your digital notes wherever you are.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you to feel more organised as a blogger. 

I’m hoping if I keep trying to take my own advice I’ll feel on top of everything one of these days!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Say goodbye to skin issues using laser treatment

Saying goodbye to skin issues using laser treatment

Your skin deserves a reward for all it goes through. It is subjected to the elements and pollution on a daily basis. It also has to deal with makeup, other body products, and exposure to household cleaning products. Even what you eat and the random things you do, such as forgetting to wear sunscreen, can damage it.

All of that damage does not show up right away, but when it finally does laser treatment might help you fix it.

 

Lasers versus clinical light therapies for skin 

The first thing to understand about laser treatment is what it is. Laser treatment is a form of light therapy for your skin. However, not all forms of light therapy are laser treatments. For example, intense pulsed light (IPL) is not considered a laser procedure, even though it is in the family. A true laser procedure uses a single wavelength of light and focuses it into a narrow beam. It also produces a lot of heat. Although, the exact amount of heat is different for each laser model.

 

Laser tools and how they have changed

Laser skincare is an area that is always growing. Which means that many different tools for laser treatment are available. Those available today, such as modern diode-lasers, were not always around. Such modern tools often perform the functions of multiple earlier types of laser devices, which is a boon for the skincare industry. It can also help you, as a patient. It means less struggling to find a clinic offering the treatment you need and less time spent in the treatment chair.

 

Lasers that are ablative and those that are not

In the laser world, there are tools that are ablative and tools that are not. The ablative laser devices are powerful machines that often yield immediate changes in skin appearance. That is because their main focal points are the surface of your skin and the layers near the surface. They are used to perform laser peels, primarily.

The non-ablative lasers of the skincare industry are sometimes unsung heroes. They do not alter the outer later of your skin right away, so you might feel you are gaining little benefit from treatment at the time. However, they strengthen your skin cells by getting more collagen to the places it is needed. When your body increases production of collagen, cellular bonds are reestablished and fortified. That means your skin may show great results, but it could take weeks for that to happen while the cells repair themselves.

 

Why lasers work in the first place

Regardless of if a certain laser technology is new or has been around for years and its general type, it is important to understand why it works. The functions of every laser do vary slightly, but they have some commonalities. For example, the light they produce can alter skin cells in a positive way. The heat a laser produces is also a major factor in its success. It is heating the cells that either damages them enough to trigger healing or gets rid of them entirely if they are abnormal, such as part of a scar or blemish.

 

More about lasers and the conditions they correct 

Lasers can do far more than many people think in terms of skin health. There are a multitude of conditions they can correct. From acne to sun spots, lasers do it all. They can help you get rid of freckles or even remove unwanted hair. And all-in-one laser devices are particularly good at that level of multitasking. So, when your skin has you feeling down, look to lasers for a change of appearance and outlook.

 

This is a collaborative post

Tips for safe international money transfers

4 tips for safe international money transfers

There are lots of people around the world who make the choice to live and work in a different country from their families.  Generally as a result of different work opportunities being available in other countries.

Which means there are lots of people needing to find a way to safely send money back home to their families in places like Bangladesh.  Thanks to the internet and the huge number of service providers like ACE Money Transfer in the market, the entire process is luckily now extremely simple and easy. 

Yet, despite the simplicity and convenience, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when people try to send money online. If you want to send money to someone safely and without issues then here are some things you should be careful about:

 

Don’t forget to check the exchange rate:

Exchange rate is a critical factor that can either make the process of sending money to Bangladesh meaningless or give you maximum return for the amount of money that you send. Before you go ahead and send the money, don’t forget to check the current exchange rate. Exchange rates fluctuate and change on a regular basis depending on the currency’s performance in the market. If it is higher, it means that international money transfer is favourable and you should start the transaction. However, if it is low, wait for it to stabilise if possible. 

 

Enter the correct details:

Whenever you use any money transfer service, you will be asked to provide the details of the recipient. The information required contains the name of the recipient, his identification number and the bank account information. Make sure that you take your time and cross check everything. Even a spelling mistake should be avoided at all costs. Be especially careful about the bank account number so that you don’t end up sending money to someone else’s account. 

 

Beware of hidden fees:

Not all the service providers are like ACE Money Transfer that prioritise their customers and put them above anything else. There are many scammers in the market that do send the money to Bangladesh but deduct a lot of the money in the form of hidden fees. These deductions are called hidden fees because the sender is initially not informed about these deductions. In other words, he is robbed of the money that he provided the service provider. The trust of the customers is betrayed. This is a highly unprofessional practice. 

 

Make sure it is safe and legal:

When you are trying to send money to Bangladesh, the last thing you would wish for is to bear monetary loss or get into trouble with the legal authorities. When selecting a service provider or a channel for the transfer of money, make sure that you opt for the one that is authentic and legal. Feel free to do some research and go through the customer reviews. This will help you get an insight about the quality of their services. There should be no compromise on the security and reliability of the channel that is being used to send the money. 

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Your first video

Cool Content – Your First Video

When it comes to content creation, the more you can do, the more visibility you’ll have. Writing blog content, taking beautiful photos, creating music with Garageband, and on from that video. Youtube and Twitch are two of the leading video sharing platforms, and there are some highly skilled people making amazing content right now. 

But making your first video can leave you scratching your head. Where do you get music? How do you record screencasts? Is my phone camera good enough? So let’s talk about it. 

Starting Out

If you are already creating content, the chances are it has a very obvious direction. It might be a parenting blog, or it might be a website about cars. If people are already reading your site and enjoying your Instagram posts, then chances are you have some willing viewers already.

So, think about the content that you want to show. Is it your weekly shop? Or is it how to clean an oven without harsh chemicals? There are no limits to what you can do. Make a list. 

Your mobile phone camera is probably good enough to start with. Some newer models are on par with basic DSLR cameras and have a range of options. So you shouldn’t worry too much about equipment. 

Filming

You can film pretty much anything you like. Just be mindful that if you are shooting in a public space, you might need to seek permission – which they don’t have to give you. Getting creative with your angles is a great idea too. You’re trying to convey your perspective on things. 

Editing

Editing can be a lot of fun, and at the same time, wholly frustrating. If you have an Apple computer, then you will find that iMovie has a heap of great options, Window Media Maker is super easy to use too. Both come with a selection of music. You can also source you own by searching for creative commons 0 license music. Try not to rush editing, take your time, and think about how you want to video to look and feel. If you have recorded stunning footage, it deserves the time to make it beautiful. 

Monetising

Youtube has an easy monetization option. In the creator studio, you can pick where you’d like your adverts to appear and when. But, you will need to stick to specific rules if you want to keep the money trickling in. Showing content with drugs or saying certain words is a no-no, as is using music which is copywritten. 

Sharing

Use your other platforms to promote your video content, but be aware that YouTube and Twitch (live content) will have more audience than you can imagine. And, due to that fact, people are more free to comment as they please. Of course, you can turn comments off to save your sanity too.  

 

Take your time when you start recording and planning, work out a regular filming schedule, and consider learning to batch film and edit your footage. You’ll find your style and be populating your YouTube channel in no time. 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

condo maintenance tips

Maintenance tips for your condo owners

Moving into your own property is always exciting. But this excitement can quickly fade away once you realize there is more work to do.

This is especially true for those who are buying a condo unit as an investment. You want to make sure that the property is well-maintained in order to attract tenants. Whether you want to save on the cost of repair in the future, or you want to reduce the vacancy rate on your condo, there is a lot of maintenance work to be done.

You need to adapt these real estate tips if you want to keep your unit in tip-top shape

 

Get your condo inspected regularly

Maintenance is the key to keeping your condo property value up. 

Home or condo unit inspections are an integral part of your maintenance procedures. If you thought that only house and lot properties should be inspected, think again. Even if you regularly clean your condominium unit, there will be plenty of areas you are going to miss. A home or property inspector is someone who is trained to see those things that you often overlook.

Another advantage of hiring an inspector is that you will be able to meet and abide by local and state codes. If there are any problems, you can have them fixed immediately. Without the help of an inspector, you could be facing hefty fines for any issues in your unit. To ensure that the condo is regularly checked, create an inspection calendar. That way, you will know when it is time to have your condo inspected again.

 

Use the preventive mindset

One of the common mistakes that property investors make is to overlook the minor problems in their unit. This can be a costly thing to do because while those issues may be minor at present, they can develop into a major repair job in the future. So, it is important to address these issues while they are still small. It could be a problem in your plumbing or flooring. No matter how minor the problem might seem, it is important to regularly check and repair them. The cost of preventive maintenance is extremely cheaper than the long-term damage ignoring an issue could cause.

 

Establish a cleaning routine

Come up with a cleaning and maintenance routine for your condo unit. This will give you the opportunity to not only clean the place but also identify any potential issues. You can use this seasonal guide to aid you with conducting preventive maintenance on your property. 

 

Cleaning checklist for your condo: 

Spring is the best time to do your maintenance work. This season signals a fresh start and you can use this opportunity to get some work done on your condo. You can check on the air conditioning unit to make sure that it is in good condition for the summer ahead. For those who use wall units, you can install them at springtime. And for those with central air conditioning systems, you can hire an expert to clean the unit. 

 

Aside from the air conditioning units, spring is the best time to clean the gutters and exterior drainage. It is not uncommon for unwanted grime to accumulate in these areas, especially after the winter season. Make sure you get rid of any debris that might have collected on there and cause trouble later on.

 

For summer, there are a few maintenance works that can be done. One of them is to inspect the grout in your kitchen and bathroom. When there is grout, there is mold. And when mold accumulates, it can be a threat to not only the structure of the unit but also the safety of its occupants. It is also a good time to clean your tiles to keep them looking like they are brand new.

 

When fall comes, you can check the chimney and outdoor deck or balcony (if you have one in your condo). Fall is the best time to check your chimney for any issues because you want it to be working in the winter. The worst thing that can happen is for winter to come and your chimney breaks down. You want to be able to keep the inside of your condo warm throughout the season. As for the deck or balcony, you can have them re-sealed in the fall. That way, they will be resilient enough for the cold weather ahead and prevent any major damage to the surface and structure.

 

During winter, it is best to check for any icicles. These icicles might make winter look pretty, but they can be extremely damaging to the roof. This issue is more common in standalone houses wherein you have to check your roof for structural damage. But if you have any outdoor space in your condo (such as a balcony), it is also recommended that you clean them regularly. This will ensure that the outdoor space in your condo will be usable and in good condition once winter has passed.

 

Get Insured

When you buy a condo unit for investment purposes, the goal is to make money off of that property. A lot of condo owners forego buying insurance, especially if they are not going to have the property rented. But in reality, refusing to get insurance could mean more damage to your finances down the road. In fact, insurance is such a necessity that most lenders would not approve the purchase of the unit if you do not obtain one first. This is how you can protect your investments and assets. 

 

Final Tips and Reminders

Maintaining and cleaning a condo unit is costly, there is no doubt about that. But the same is true with any form of property. Any investment you make towards enhancing and maintaining the property can pay off with huge dividends in the long run. So, any condo you get from Precondo should be protected and taken care of. 

 

In reality, the cost you incur now will be considerably smaller than when you have to deal with major repairs if there are issues left untreated. The old adage “prevention is better than cure” is true for a reason.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post