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This category will be all things pertaining to my life. You might see pictures of my boys or my crazy cats. You just never know..haha!

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Common Mistakes People Make When Building a Home

by Alek Sabin

 

Building your own home is an exciting experience. For many people, actually building a home from the ground up is something that they save to do with what they imagine as their dream home. This means that there is a strong emotional attachment to the homebuilding process. For this reason, people should take special care with the construction process to make sure that they are getting what they want out of their new home.

Rushing through the process is sure to lead to mistakes that are always going to bug the homeowner, if not outright haunt them because of how easily they could have been fixed. Here are some common mistakes that people make when building a home…

 

Failing to properly communicate with the contractor

First of all, a person should never try to be their own contractor when they are building a home. After all, you wouldn’t try to be your own doctor, would you? (Hint: you shouldn’t.) Picking a proven and experienced contractor is an important part of the home  building process, but even that is only part of the equation. It is important to make sure that you keep an open line of communication with the contractor, so that there is clarity about the process between both parties. Make a list of questions to ask them about whenever you talk to them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also be sure to respect their profession, as well.

 

Using cheap materials where it matters

If you are building a brand new home, then you want to make sure that you are building something that is going to last and be comfortable to live in for years and years to come. Despite this fact, some people try to cut corners when they build a home, and opt to get lower end materials. The materials that you use on your home are going to determine its longevity and how much it is going to be worth, in the end. For this reason, always budget out to get quality materials that are going to get you a quality home. Don’t settle for linoleum. Get tile! Don’t settle for laminate countertops. Get that granite; you deserve it!

 

Trying to do too many things, themselves

This goes hand in hand with the above point, but people tend to think that they can save a buck or two by trying to do many things, themselves. However, when you are building a home from scratch, it is probably best to let professionals with the proper specialty handle most tasks. Sure, there are some things that families can do that are going to save some labor costs, but don’t assume that you should put up entire frames or shingle a roof just because you’ve helped do it once before. If you make a mistake, it is likely going to cost you a lot more, in the long run. Be realistic about whether or not you should do this task, and then call a professional.

 

Building in a bad area

When people want to build a home, they get so wrapped up in the specifics of the actual structure, that they sometimes miss the fact that where your house is located can be just as important as your actual house. Buying a lot of land in an area that isn’t growing (or is growing too much for your liking) or that doesn’t have great access to schools and hospitals can make you begin to resent a home, after the novelty of a “new house” wears off. Just remember, site location should be just as important as any other aspect of building a home.

 

Not budgeting a contingency fund

The difference between building a home that you love and a home that you’ll settle for comes down to one thing: budgeting. If you are scraping pennies and trying to turn nickels into dimes the entire time you are building a home, then you are probably going to get something that is notably different from the vision that you started with. For this reason, you should budget out how much you expect it is going to cost (after professional input, of course), and then you should add about a 10% contingency fund to that budget, so that you can handle any unexpected expenses (which always pop up).

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Hygge Happy Coloring Book

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Do you love coloring? If you are like me, coloring is a passion. Take a look at this Hygge Happy Coloring Book!

About Hygge

Have you ever enjoyed reading a book indoors on a rainy day or taken pleasure in sipping hot cocoa by the crackling reside? If so, you’ve experienced hygge! Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the Danish word hygge translates into a feeling of cozy contentment by enjoying the simple things in life. The hygge trend has become huge in recent years; just look at Instagram with 1.5m results appearing with the #hygge hashtag.
Now, you can experience the feeling of hygge while coloring hygge-related images in the new coloring book Hygge Happy Coloring Book: Coloring Pages for a Cozy LifeThat’s double the hygge!The book features the stunning artwork of Robin Pickens and Heather Davulcu. Pickens is an artist who specializes in Christmas ornaments, fabrics, and greeting cards. Davulcu is the owner of her own art business called April Heather Art. The pair make an extraordinary team in bringing together a unique, modern, and exquisitely Hygge-esque experience in this comfortable and relaxing new book.

My Thoughts

I adore this coloring book! It is full of vintage and retro style images, that make me want to color for hours! I am all about everything retro, so it was only natural to add this book to my collection. The pages are nice and thick, and the ink flows smoothly across them. The quality of paper is such that the ink doesn’t bleed through. Now, don’t get me wrong, marker, especially permanent, will bleed through with certain brands. But, ink does not bleed through the pages.

This book makes me think of happy times growing up. It brings back memories of my grandparents, and spending time with them. Overall, it’s a great coloring book, and I absolutely love it!

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Up Your Lunch Game With Russbe

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Russbe has you covered for all of those lunch container needs.

About Russbe

Welcome to the Russbe family! We’re a California-based company dedicated to providing fun, waste-free lunch and snack products to you and your family since 2008. Russbe offers convenient, reusable lunch and snack bags and containers to eco-conscious folks and those who want to share our passion for preserving this amazing planet.

Russbe’s washable and reusable snack and sandwich bags provide a fun alternative to disposable plastic and paper sacks. Each RUSSBE bag has the potential to keep hundreds of disposable bags out of the world’s oceans, cities and landfills while keeping snacks and sandwiches fresh and ready to enjoy. Our new line of Bento boxes are the perfect waste-free solution for packing daily lunches or mid-day snacks for little ones and teens. They’re also great for health-conscious adults who prefer prepping homemade meals and snacks on the go.  All Russbe products are durable, easy to use, and simple to clean. They are also free of BPA, PVC, latex and phthalates.

Attractively priced and packaged, RUSSBE products allow people to cut back on plastic waste without breaking the bank. Russbe also uses biodegradable and recyclable packaging materials to further reduce the amount of harmful waste. We are dedicated to making a positive difference and maintaining our beautiful planet for generations to come.

My Thoughts

Oh my! These sandwich and snack bags are the most adorable things ever! What kid, or adult even, wouldn’t want to use these? Not only are they eco friendly, but they have cute designs. I love that I can wash and reuse these. It saves so much money, and waste. The sandwich bags are perfect for nearly any sandwich, and the zipper seal stays sealed. The little snack bags are perfect for throwing a snack in my purse for on the go. My youngest son appreciates this, as he is always snacking!

The bento boxes are awesome. They are large enough to fit a sandwich in the big section, and the lid just snaps on. They are very strong, and will withstand a lot of use. They are microwaveable, and dishwasher safe.

The snack bentos are the perfect size for snacking on the go. They have 2 levels, with a divider in between. They snap closed, and won’t open accidentally, and make a mess. They are easy to clean, since there are no sharp corners.

The reuse-a-pop bags are perfect for many things. You can make popsicles, of course, because they are awesome. But you can also use this for making your own yogurt tubes, or for pureed fruit. They have a zip seal on them, and are washable so that you can use them again and again!

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Tips for Smooth Mornings for Moms

By Aurora M.

 

For some people, the morning is bright and full of potential. For the rest of us, it’s the dreaded gauntlet that we have to run in order to get on with our lives. All too often, the people feeling bright and chipper in the morning are your children, who love to wake you up hours before you’re ready to start the day, (even though they also kept you up all night!) Whether you’re trying to get your children to church, school, daycare, or simply get them dressed and out the door… here are some tips to help the morning go smoother for the whole family.

 

The most important meal of the day

morningsWe’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you have kids running around your feet, it can be easy to put off eating a for a few hours, just until they’ve settled down. You might tell yourself that you’re just waiting until the baby is ready for a nap. But in reality, you know you probably won’t actually get around to eating. Breakfast really is so important, because you need the energy to get through the day and chase your little ones around. If you don’t eat in the mornings, it’s likely that you’ll be cranky and short with your kids, meaning that no one will really have a good day.

For breakfast, make sure that you’re getting a balanced meal that includes protein. A bowl of cereal probably isn’t going to cut it and give you enough energy to last you until lunch. For an added boost of energy, try adding a cup of matcha to your daily routine. As this article argues, it will keep you energized longer than your regular cup of coffee, plus it burns more calories and has way more antioxidants per cup. Your energy is important, and you don’t want to let yourself get burned out in the first few hours of the day!

 

Implement healthy routines

This is true for both you AND your children. Your children will learn from example, and it’s important that they pick up healthy habits from you at anmornings early age. You can make it fun! Brush your teeth at the same time as all your kids (even before they have teeth!) and make a game to see who can brush their teeth longest, or who can gurgle their rinse water longer. Making sure that you eat WITH them is another important habit. They need to see that it’s important to eat three full meals every day. Bonus points if your meals are full of fruits and vegetables, so they won’t be afraid to try eating an array of different healthy foods.

 

Don’t give up on nap time

morningsWhile your little ones are growing so much, especially in the first few years, it’s important that they get lots of rest. They’re tiring themselves out so much during the day, running around and playing. Besides that, growing actually takes a lot of energy, which is why napping is so important for your littles. Utilize their nap time, and use this time to take a much needed break. Catch up on your favorite tv shows, read a book, or take a nap yourself if you need one.

Even as your children get older and begin resisting nap time, it’s still important for you to get that short break in the late mornings before lunch. So even if they aren’t going to take a nap, have them take an hour or two (however long nap time usually is) for “quiet time”. They should use this time to read books or quietly play by themselves, if they don’t want to nap. Sometimes, because they’re being peaceful and relatively still, they’ll end up taking a nap anyway, which is a double win for you!

 

Setting yourself up for success

Mornings can be hard, period. But this gets even harder if you’re carrying over anxiety and stress from the day before. If you do this day in and day out, you’ve caught yourself in a vicious cycle that may be incredibly difficult to get yourself out of. Some of the things that are the most helpful here are to eat a balanced breakfast, as mentioned earlier, and then a good night’s rest. Sometimes that’s just not possible, and that’s okay. It’s not always possible. If you have a free moment in the mornings, try to sit and collect your thoughts before you start the day. This article has some great ideas for confronting stress and anxiety in the mornings. Think about the ways you’ll succeed that day. Meditate. Project your positive thoughts. The more positive and successful you think you’ll be that day, the more positive and successful you’ll actually be.

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Teaching Your Child to Understand Strong Emotions

By Alek S.

 

One thing that a lot of adults tend to forget about growing up is how extreme emotions could feel at time. Children tend to feel things very strongly, and don’t necessarily have the context to tell whether something is a big deal or not. Because of this fact, strong emotions can often bubble up in children, and cause them to engage in behavior that could be harmful or destructive. For this reason, it is the responsibility of parents to recognize these issues that their children are having, and to teach them how to work through and understand those strong emotions. Here are some tips on how to teach this to your child…

 

Teach them to apply logic to their emotions

Children have a tendency to operate strictly off of emotion. This is just how children are. While they can be remarkably observant, they just don’t have the context of a longer life to have witnessed logic in action, as much. Because of this, it’s important to communicate with your child (calmly, might I add), and ask them to really think about why they feel a certain way. When children begin to put motivations to their emotions, it becomes easier for them to see a bigger picture and realize that they might be overreacting to something, or at least they’ll understand why they have such strong feelings.

 

Don’t downplay their emotions

One of the worst things you can do is downplay these emotions and make your child feel like these feelings don’t matter. Yes, they may be acting absurd, or might be overreacting to something that is really such a small problem. But the feelings that they are feeling are very real. Address those feelings, as such, and make sure that they understand that you really do care what they are feeling, and want to help them figure out how to handle those emotions. This teaches children to tackle their emotions, head-on and in a productive way, rather than burying them deep down where they can forget about them.

 

Tell them when you feel a certain way

While children don’t always do what their parents say, or follow their parents’ advice directly, they are always watching and listening. Children pick up on so many cues that their parents never really intended the to learn from. It’s why people have such a tendency to inherit their parents’ mistakes. Because of this fact, be mindful that they pick up emotional intelligence by watching you.

 

Whenever you are feeling incredibly strong emotions about something, do the same thing that you tell them to do, and communicate with them about why you feel this way, and why you are reacting the way you are. This helps put context to certain emotions. If you feel like you don’t want to explain the reason you are acting a certain way to your child, then the reality is that your emotions are probably very childish, in that moment.

 

Show them coping skills for problematic emotions

When you are a child and you feel something so strongly, it can be difficult to really know what to do about it. They just haven’t developed the coping skills to deal with such strong feelings, yet. It’s up to you, as the parent, to show them how they can cope with these strong feelings, and that they can work through their emotions in a positive way. This is especially something to worry about when the emotions can lead to problematic behavior, and cause your child to be destructive.

 

Teach them to recognize emotion in others

Emotional intelligence is a highly important skill for children to learn, as it teaches them how to be social and how to have empathy for other human beings. Start to teach them how to recognize emotion in other people, early on. You can do this by showing them how to recognize certain emotions in the media that you watch together, or by pointing out the ways that they’ve made another person feel (whether that is another child that they play with, or another member of the family.

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Could a Tech Cleanse Reduce Anxiety?

By Alek S.

 

Today, we are surrounded by technology wherever we look. Whether we’re on the computer at work, watching television afterward, or spending endless hours on our personal computers and smartphones connecting with friends on social media.

This amazing access to technology and communication is astonishingly convenient… and yet the rate at which people suffer from depression and anxiety has continued to climb to never before seen highs, and some professionals believe that this is directly linked to our hyper-connected culture.

The truth is that our attachment with technology is a bit of a double-edged sword. For all of the great things that technology has given us, in this day and age, we cannot forget the fact that we are natural creatures, and that all the ways in which technology overwhelms has had a detrimental effect on our psychology, especially when we have constant alerts drawing us back into the pressures of those connections. For this reason, it is sometimes important, especially for those who suffer from a lot of anxiety, to periodically take a tech cleanse to recharge their own personal batteries, before jumping back into technology, once again. Here are all of the reasons that a tech cleanse might be good to help with your anxiety…

 

Multiple addictions are linked with anxiety

First of all, it’s important to understand that there are multiple types of conditions that can feed into anxiety. This is especially true when it comes to addictions (alcoholism and anxiety can especially be codependent on each other). However, even though it is not a physical addiction, the addiction to smartphone usage has been classified as a type of diagnosable addiction, and has been shown to increase the risks of developing something like generalized anxiety disorder, according to a study published in Computers in Human Behavior.

 

Social media contributes to anxiety

Social media, for all the ways that we have been connected by it, also is able to contribute to social anxiety. An example of this was shown in a study conducted in the UK that provided evidence that increased social media usage was strongly correlated with higher rates of loneliness, and general anxiety about socializing with people. Cutting the cord to technology for a little bit helps put things into perspective, and allows you to remind yourself that you don’t have to answer to a social media app every moment of your life.

 

You have more time for yourself

Usually, when people make a list of the things that they want to accomplish in their life in the near future, it involves actually going places, making things, or moving towards specific accomplishments. How often do you find yourself getting off of your phone after a session on social media and discovering that you’ve blown a significant amount of time that you had planned to use for something else? Breaking up with technology for a little bit, or disabling all the apps on your phone besides the one that actually makes it a phone, can help you get back on track to spending time that is actually fulfilling and making you better.

 

Gives you a moment to breathe

When people are attached to their technology for every waking moment of every day, it begins to feel like you are in a constant rush, as time keeps slipping by you. Part of this is the amount of time that social media and technology requires to really get into, and the other part is simply the information overload, which can make it feel like the world is flying by you at a rate that is unprecedented.

 

For treating anxiety, therapists often recommend having time where you aren’t doing anything (including looking at your phone), except breathing. Taking this time helps put you in a good head space, and is a good coping mechanism for dealing with the tension that anxiety can put on your life. A tech cleanse can help you remember this important step, and is able to put everything back in perspective, for a time.

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How to Get the Cottage Look for Your Home

By: Maurine Anderson

 

Many of us love the look of a traditional English cottage but don’t realize that the cottage look is something that we can have for our own homes. Creating a cottage-style look for your home is easier than you might think. Here is a brief guide to making your home look like an English cottage.

 

Install a picket fence.

A white picket fence is, perhaps, the most iconic characteristic of an English cottage. A picture-perfect cottage-style home will typicallycottage have a low white picket fence framing the front lawn, enclosing a beautiful space adorned with flower beds and a natural stone path. Consider installing a picket fence around your front lawn to give it more of a cottage-like feel. As this article mentions, you can even have a modern, easy-to-maintain vinyl fence designed to mimic the look of a classic vinyl fence.

 

Aim for an overall relaxed landscape.

As you go about landscaping your property, aim for an overall loose and relaxed landscape. Cottage-style landscapes are never rigid and polished. Think time-worn bricks, inset pavers, or stone lined gravel for a walkway. Winding paths and curved flowerbed edges can lend your landscape an air of informality. Natural stone, as this article points out, makes for a great natural edging for flowerbeds or garden walkways.

 

Put heavy emphasis on flowers and plant life.

cottageThe traditional English cottage features beautiful landscaping, complete with colorful flowers and green shrubs. Here are a few landscaping tips related to flowers and plant life:

 

  • In your gardens, plant many different plants, herbs, vegetables, and flowers near each other for a full look.

  • As you select plants for your landscape, be sure not to venture too far into the exotic plants category, which doesn’t fit in with the cottage theme.

  • Choose plants that grow well in your region and that will offer both beauty and practicality for your landscape. Traditional cottages are all about functionality.

  • When choosing flowers, aim for variety in color and height for added interest. Roses, peonies, marigold, salvia, foxgloves, delphiniums, lamb’s ears, and geranium are all great options.

  • In addition to flowers, include shrubs or small trees, such as panicle hydrangea or Japanese maple. This will give added depth to your garden areas.

  • Don’t forget to build some florals onto your home’s exterior—by installing window flower boxes or by installing climbing plants along the front face.

 

Incorporate some decor into your landscape.

Cottage-style landscaping isn’t all about paths, flowers, and shrubs. It’s also about integrating meaningful decor into that exterior space. Consider adding romantic decorative elements, such as a rose- or vine-covered trellis or a garden walkway arbor. You might also add a patio with weathered furniture, a bird bath, or a tuteur amidst all of your beautiful flowers. Meaningful decorative elements such as an old family wagon or an old family bench will also go a long way in adding interest to your cottage style garden space.

 

Consider your home’s exterior.

The materials used for your home’s exterior will also dictate just how closely your home resembles a traditional English cottage. Herecottage are a few tips on designing your home’s exterior to give it that cottage feel:

 

  • Choose an exterior material that complements both your home’s style and the traditional cottage style. Siding, shake shingles, brick, stone, and stucco can all work well as exterior materials for a cottage-style home.

 

  • Consider painting your window trim a complementing color besides white. This bit of color will give your home some added charm and a vintage feel.

  • Install shutters around your windows to lend added interest to the front of your home.

  • A front door with a large window looks especially airy and inviting. Don’t forget to include a screen door for your front door as well, as just about every cozy cottage has one!

  • Incorporate natural elements into your home’s exterior, such as flower filled boxes below your windows or climbing plants along the front face of your home’s exterior.

As you choose materials for your home’s exterior, don’t forget to consider your home’s region. Some materials are better than others for particular climates, and no matter your climate, you can find a material that both fits into the cottage theme and lends your home all-weather durability. This article has some good tips on selecting the right materials for your home depending on climate.

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10 Dishes That Are Better with Coconut Oil

By: Maurine Anderson

 

If you’ve spent any time in the blogosphere or on social media, chances are you have come across at least one blogger proclaiming the miracles that can be wrought with coconut oil. Coconut oil seems to be one of those household staples that can be used in cooking, baking, skincare, daily hygiene, and everything in between. I, myself, can’t vouch for coconut oil as a skincare and beauty product (it makes me break out), but as an avid baker, I can vouch for coconut oil as a trusty cooking and baking ingredient. Coconut oil is a healthier alternative, after all, to fats like butter and shortening, due to its high level of medium-chain fatty acids (which you can read more about here). Plus, it makes for a great fat substitute when you’re trying to make things a little vegan friendly.

 

Because I’ve seen quite a few hits and misses as I’ve experimented with using coconut oil in the kitchen, today I wanted to share with you ten foods that I’ve found work and taste better (or at least just as great) with coconut oil.

 

Note: I recommend using virgin, unrefined coconut oil in your cooking and baking. Refined and partially hydrogenated types of coconut oil do not offer the same health benefits that virgin coconut oil does. In addition, still be sure to limit your daily coconut oil intake to one tablespoon or less, as coconut oil is higher in saturated fats than other types of oil.

 

  1. Rice krispies treats

Ever tried swapping out the butter in classic rice krispies treats for the same amount of coconut oil? You won’t miss the butter, and you’llcoconut oil feel that much better eating your delicious treats knowing they aren’t full of butter.

  1. Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are another classic that coconut oil can add some unexpected, delicious flavor to. Use coconut oil just like you would butter in your chocolate chip cookie recipe, following the directions given for the butter (using it at room temperature, melting it first, etc.) Keep in mind that coconut oil can harden when combined with cold ingredients, so be sure to let your other ingredients reach room temperature before starting.

  1. Hot chocolate

If you’ve never made hot chocolate at home, I challenge you to try it this winter! Coconut oil makes for a perfect addition to gourmet homemade hot chocolate containing other ingredients like cacao, coconut sugar, sea salt, and almond milk.

  1. Waffles

Mmm…coconut oil in waffles. I’ve found that coconut oil pairs naturally with ingredients like whole wheat flour and coconut sugar when making waffles, and you’ll often end up with a crispier edge and more tender middle of your waffle. You can also use coconut oil on top of your waffles in place of butter or syrup.

  1. Stir fry

Coconut is a common ingredient in dishes like Pad Thai and curry, so it makes sense to add a little coconut flavor to your stir fry with coconut oil. Tip: Keep in mind that coconut oil works best on the stove at temperatures of 350°F or less.

  1. Sweet potato fries

Baked sweet potato fries taste great when made with olive oil or vegetable oil, but it’s fun to mix things up and toss sweet potato coconut oilwedges with coconut oil for a change in flavor. Try pairing your fries with curry seasoning or avocado sauce for an intriguing flavor.

  1. Roasted vegetables

Similarly, it’s fun to swap out your usual tossing oil for coconut oil when making roasted vegetables. I love tossing coconut oil with broccoli, bell peppers, and zucchini.

  1. Salad dressing

Ever tried making dressing at home? Using coconut oil as the oil for your dressing makes for a fun touch to salads—especially those that feature avocado or cilantro as key ingredients. Try making a delicious cilantro coconut or avocado coconut dressing.

  1. Crackers

Crackers are so much fun to make, and making them with coconut oil adds an unexpected, yet delicious flavor. I love making crackers with ingredients like flaxseed and shredded coconut to complement the subtle coconut oil flavor.

  1. Smoothies

You’re probably used to adding chopped fruits and vegetables to your smoothies, but next time try adding up to a tablespoon of melted coconut oil while you’re at it. The healthy fat boost will help keep you fuller longer, and it adds the slightest hint of tropical flavor. I find that coconut oil goes best in smoothies featuring pineapple, banana, strawberries, and other tropical ingredients.

 

coconut oilMy favorite thing about using coconut oil in the kitchen is that the recipes that feature coconut oil tend to include other healthy ingredients as well. So as you cook and bake more with coconut oil, your overall diet will likely become healthier, offering you countless health benefits like those listed here. What foods do you like to prepare with coconut oil? Share your favorites in the comments!

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5 Precautions That Will Protect You from Debt

By Alek S.

 

Being in debt can sometimes feel like you are carrying the weight of the world upon your shoulders. Indeed, debt sometimes feels like an actual physical sickness that you simply don’t get better from, and it actually can cause pain and health problems through stress. Once you are in debt, it can be difficult to work your way out, but it simply must be done. However, it can be a lot easier to prevent yourself from ever getting into debt in the first place, if you arrange your life and finances in a certain way. Here are some particular strategies that can protect you from getting into debt…

 

Plan for some “mad money”

debtFirst of all, one of the most important and most obvious financial rules to remember is that saving money pays off, in the long run. However, it would be unrealistic to assume that you will never have times where you’ll want to splurge with your hard earned cash. Presuming that you’re never going to splurge your money is like assuming you’re never going to sin. It just isn’t in the cards. However, to prevent money splurging from really hurting your finances, it is a good idea to simply plan for those splurges and set money aside to spend on treats that you and your family really want now and then!

 

Have a plan

If you don’t know what your money is doing, then it is always going to be getting away from you. That’s just how money works. It’s almost like a law of physics. This is why it is so important to have a plan for where your money is going to go. When you first start making a financial plan, it can be quite simple. One popular method is to put cash in envelopes with different categories, such as rent, food, entertainment, etc. However, as you get more capital and buy a house and your finances get more complicated, it’s a wise idea to get into estate planning, which gives you a long-term organizational plan and helps you save for your future. It also helps take care of your will and certain trusts.

 

Use cash, when possible

That envelope method of planning your money out that we mentioned above is a great idea that works for a lot of people. It’s dependent on one particular aspect, though: cash. The problem with handling all of your expenses on a plastic card is that there is far less accountability when you pay for things that way. Using cash allows you to set aside a very specific amount that you cannot physically overspend on, since there is only so much cash. Likewise, when you go shopping, take cash with you to spend. This way, you can’t go over budget if there is something you talk yourself into buying, and you already are prepared for how much more you might spend than you planned.

 

Save, instead of using payment plans

debtLike we said before: saving is the most important aspect of managing finances. You should always be putting money away for future use, every month. To help motivate this habit, avoid using payment plans to purchase anything. Usually, these plans require interest, and put your credit at risk. If you can, wait to purchase something until you have the money to purchase it outright. If you consistently do this, you’re already several steps ahead of everyone else at avoiding debt. However, there might be certain purchases that you still take loans out on, such as for a house, but these should be sparingly done.

 

Protect yourself from credit cards

The exact opposite of using cash is using a credit card. Credit card companies thrive on how convenient it is to simply whip out your card and make adebt purchase. However, most people end up paying more for things because they allow credit card interest to stack up and hit their wallets hard. You might think you’ll be an exception, but remember that credit card companies make loads of money, and it’s all coming from people like you. However, if you can use them wisely, credit cards can go a long way towards building credit. One strategy to keep your credit card purchases down is to write down every credit card purchase as soon as you make it, so that you there is something tangible that keeps you accountable.

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Simple Healthy Cooking Alternatives

By Alek S.

 

It’s probably safe to say that most people would like to eat healthier. However, it is the view of too many people that this is easier said healthy cookingthan done. One of the biggest roadblocks that people have put up that prevents them from eating healthier is that it is too difficult to find something to eat that is healthy. However, when it comes to cooking in the kitchen, you can actually make a lot of the same things that you already do and have a healthy meal, if you swap out a few key ingredients for things that are a little more nutritional. Here is a list of some easy, healthy cooking alternatives…

 

Coconut oil

Although extra-virgin olive oil can be quite healthy, coconut oil is a proven superfood with a vast assortment of different health benefits. While coconut oil has a lot of fats, they are made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier to digest. This means that coconut oil is a great way to get a lot of energy in your food, and can make an excellent substitute for oils and butter. If you’d like to check out more reasons why coconut oil is a terrific superfood, check out this nifty article here.

 

Applesauce

Another great substitute for butter when you are baking can be applesauce. This can give the same textural benefits as butter, and adds a natural, fruity flavor that gives your baking even more zest. For maximum benefits, go with unsweetened applesauce. Doing this will cut down on the saturated fats that you consume.

 

Matcha powder

healthy cookingThe matcha tea hype is real, as matcha tea has become a favorite of health nuts all around the world. However, you can actually do a lot more with matcha tea powder than just drink it. Matcha can actually be used as a flavorful supplement to a whole host of foods. For example, instead of using sugar in your next baking adventure, try using a few scoops of naturally sweetened matcha powder to give your baked goods a little extra zing. If you want some other ideas of things you can cook with matcha powder, check out this useful list here.

 

Bananas

If you’ve ever wondered how vegans can make such good pastries when they can’t use milk or eggs, then this mystery is about to be answered: bananas. Eggs, which aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but are high in cholesterol, can be substituted with bananas for any baked goods. Bananas help give baked goods their shape, just like eggs, but make everything taste a bit more like banana bread, which is never a bad thing.

 

Ground turkey

If you’re cooking for a whole family, then you know that ground beef is one of your best friends. Most recipes that can feed an army usually call for a couple pounds of ground beef. However, unless you are buying incredibly high quality products that cost a pretty penny, most ground beef is high in saturated fats. Add this to the fact that red meat increases the risk of heart disease, and it’s probably not a good idea to have it for every meal. Not to worry though! Ground turkey can be just as delicious, and has considerably less fat, making it an excellent substitute whenever ground beef is called for.

 

Whole wheat flour

healthy cookingThere might seem like a lot of baking substitutions on this list, but it’s only because baked goods are usually some of the biggest culprits of unhealthy things in the kitchen. This time, it’s flour. Standard white flour isn’t necessarily actively bad for you, but it is pretty much nutritionally bankrupt. Whole wheat flour has tons of fiber and proteins that help give you energy and helps your body get essential vitamins. This is an easy substitution that you probably won’t even notice, when it comes to flavor. Substituting for whole wheat pasta is a great idea, as well.

 

Skim milk

Most dairy products are high in fat. That’s just the sad, sad, sad truth about the world. However, for baking, coffee, cereal, and even just a plain ol’ glass of milk, skim milk can be a reliable substitution. Indeed, aside from the straight up glass of milk, you probably won’t even notice the difference when you use skim milk in your baking.

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