control of finances

5 Simple Ways to Prioritize your Income

After years of dealing with overspending and once again, being ill-prepared for any financial surprises, now is the time to go on a budget and take control of your finances.

Create a budget

Before you divvy up your income, track how much you spend for one week and evaluate the data. Then, you can custom create a budget framework that you are able to stick with because it is customized for your family to work with your lifestyle and financial goals.

Auto payments

Next, set up auto payments for all household expenses including mortgage, insurance, utilities, credit cards and car payments. To pay off your car or mortgage faster, set up payments every four weeks so that there is an extra payment made each year.

Savings

Another automatic payment should be set up-and that is a payment to yourself! Set up an automatic savings plan and with each paycheck, take 10% of the gross and automatically deposit this into your savings account. In ten months, you will have easily saved one paycheck’s worth of income and have made a good start in protecting yourself for that inevitable rainy day. In addition, you can even set up several separate savings plans and thumbnail them as subcategories. Some possible savings could include a travel savings plan, an education savings plan for yourself or your children, a home savings account, etc. This way, you can earmark money for a particular excursion or personal goal.

Learn to cook

Your food bill is the number one place to cut cost. Instead of spending money on convenience foods, learn how to cook food that you enjoy eating. Buy meats in bulk and divide them up into dinner sized portions and freeze them. In addition, for some meals, do not showcase meat, and instead, fill up on beans and vegetables. Take advantage of better prices of in-season fruits and vegetables at the local Farmer’s Market, or join a coop and fill the freezer. Learn how to bake bread and easily grow your own pots of herbs from seed.

Instead of going out to eat, make your splurge a bottle of high quality Italian or Greek olive oil or fine imported cheeses and really savor these specialities. Lastly, substitute. For example, instead of buying chips, buy inexpensive bags of popcorn and make it the old-fashioned way on the stove.

Pay off Your credit cards

Whether you pay off the biggest interest card, or the smallest total bill, start paying off your cards. If you have set up your auto payment feature for your credit card bills, you have already started. Now it is time to make the next step and focus on another card and make extra payments. Of course, you will not be using the credit cards until they are paid in full. Once they are paid, create rules as to when you can pull them out.

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Natural Strength Standards for Men and Women

Time magazine has reported on the increasingly popular trend of using technology to measure personal fitness. There are monitors and screens and timers on watches, equipment displays and gym walls. The idea behind all of this information is to let you know where you stand. Some people measure themselves against their past performance while others like to compete with their friends and gym buddies.

If you enjoy strength training, it is easy to feel discouraged when you see the massive weights begin moved by the people you are trying to measure up to. You might want to consider a few numbers to give yourself a more realistic perspective.

Natural Strength Standards

The standards discussed here are for natural strength training. That means these numbers are being put up by people who are not taking performance-enhancing drugs and are not using artificial aids like lifting belts and shirts.

There are several organizations that have been formed to foster natural strength training, and the weight ranges we will discuss for men are taken from the national records of those organizations. The numbers for women are suggested by Livestrong.com.

Men

Strength is usually measured across three common lifts: the squat, the bench press and the dead lift. Standards depend upon the size, age, gender and level of training of the individual lifter and are based on a single repetition. Take as an example a 220-pound man in his prime. He is a very strong man if he can do a 350-pound squat, 235-pound bench press and 370-pound dead lift. If, however, he wants to compete at the highest levels of natural bodybuilding, he will need to aim for the records that stand at about 650 pounds for a squat, 450 pounds for a bench press, and almost 700 pounds for the dead lift.

Women

Now consider a woman who weighs 132 pounds. If she has been training for a couple of years and has reached the point of being stronger than about half of her lifting counterparts, she will be able to do a 130-pound squat, 90-pound bench press and 160-pound dead lift. If she keeps training for a few more years and reaches an elite status of being able to out-lift 95 percent of other female lifters, she will be capable of a 210-pound squat, 150-pound bench press and 275-pound dead lift.

If you are dedicated to improving your strength through purely natural means, these numbers will give you something to shoot for. Whether you are just trying to improve your health and fitness or if you have competitive ambitions, you can achieve impressive gains the all-natural way.

winter plumbing

3 Smart Winter Plumbing Preparations

Autumn is the time of year many people begin taking steps to winterize their homes in anticipation of freezing temperatures. Yet, the first freeze of the year often results in frozen pipes and expensive repairs. Homeowners can spare themselves the misery and expense if they make three smart winter plumbing preparations. Make sure to fix leaks, insulate pipes and protect outdoor faucets. Doing ensures one will enjoy the festive holiday season without the worry and expense of winter plumbing disasters.

Prepare Outdoor Faucets

Outdoor faucets are just as likely to freeze as exposed pipes. Despite this, people often forget garden hoses and outdoor faucets when winterizing their homes. Homeowners can spare themselves the expense of repairs by detaching and draining their water hoses, and storing them in a warm place. If possible, people should cut off the water supply to outdoor faucets before insulating them against freezing temperatures. Homeowners can use plastic and newspapers to protect their outdoor faucets, according to CNN.

Fix Leaks

A small plumbing leak seems like a minor inconvenience until temperatures drop below freezing. The reality is water spraying from a broken pipe affects a larger area and is more apt to cause extensive damage. Rather than wait, homeowners should inspect all exposed pipes inside and outside of their house. If pipes are insulated, check for any sign of moisture to discover hidden leaks. Fixing hidden leaks before the first freeze will save homeowners money and protect their homes against water damage.

Insulate Pipes

Chances are most homeowners insulated their home’s pipes last winter, but that’s no reason to assume old insulation will suffice. Check any existing insulation to make sure it will protect pipes during freezing temperatures. Don’t forget to make sure all exposed pipes are insulated, including those in the crawl space, attic and even the garage. For an extra layer of protection, Ready.com advises homeowners let faucets drip during freezing temperatures to help prevent the pipes from freezing.

Waiting to winterize one’s home until after the first freeze of the season is a recipe for disaster most homeowners will regret. Take the time to check for any possible leaks inside and outside of one’s home, insulate exposed pipes and protect outdoor faucets. These three simple winter plumbing steps will help prevent extensive damage to the house, protect the home against freezing temperatures and save homeowners a great deal of money.

 

 

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Accent Walls: Making a Powerful Statement in Any Room

Creating an accent wall in a room is one of the boldest and most powerful ways to make a unique design statement in your home. An accent wall adds elements of visual and sometimes even architectural interest to the room, and can be used to enhance an existing focal point or to create a new focal point in the room.

Enhancing An Existing Focal Point

To enhance an existing room focal point like a fireplace, the design added to the wall is placed around the fireplace, which draws the eye to that wall. Interest can be created with a contrasting color of paint, or by using a paint shade several shades darker than the rest of the room. Design elements like stripes or geometric shapes can also be painted on your wall to create an inspired look. Choose paint colors that are currently trending, by using design magazines or websites. Colors trending today include bright colors like turquoise and shades of tangerine orange.

Other existing focal points can be an oddly shaped window or a large bookcase that covers the wall. A window can be enhanced with drapes on either side, with the wall painted an interesting color. A bookcase or rows of shelves can feature accents like books, souvenirs from travels, statues, framed photographs, unique vases or pottery to draw the eye to your accent wall.

Other Ways To Create A Unique Accent Wall

Another interesting way to create an accent wall is to hang a large piece of artwork on the wall that almost covers it. Bright colors will attract the eye, as well as interesting themes of your chosen painting. Once you’ve hung the artwork, display pretty lighted sconces on either side of it or a light above it to highlight it. You can even paint a large wall mural on the wall or have one painted for you to create your accent wall.

Specialized painting techniques can also be used in fascinating ways to create an accent wall. Try using techniques that create a faux leather look, or the look of stone, wood, metal or brick for visual artistry. This can give your wall an interesting textured look, or can give it a weathered appearance.

Your Personality Shines Through Your Accent Wall

No matter what method you choose to fashion your accent wall, the most important thing is to let your personality shine in your creation. This helps you design a room that you’re proud of and will love spending time in. It also creates a room that you’ll love to show to others. Accent walls are a wonderful way to spice up any room and create visual interest, whether you choose subtle or bold accents.

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4 Uncommonly Known Winter Pests

Uncommon Winter Pests One: Field Crickets

Homeowners might get annoyed about hearing loud crickets outside a home, but it is worse when the insect is inside a home’s walls or hopping around on the kitchen floor. Field crickets hatch in the spring, but by late autumn, the insects are adults. This is a helpful insect because it devours spiders and flies, but no one wants these crickets inside their home in the winter. However, with a loss of habitat, field crickets do invade homes to find food, and the warm temperatures of a building will lead to the insects breeding. This insect can squeeze through tiny holes and crevices, so to prevent invasions, fill openings with caulking and nail down baseboards inside a home.

Uncommon Winter Pests Two: Smelly Skunks

Skunks are also losing habitat, making it difficult for the animal to find a place to stay warm in the winter. While a skunk will not hibernate, the animal does become less active and seeks a den to nest with other skunks. Skunks have a distinctive odor, and the spray from just one of these animals makes people feel ill. However, if one skunk finds a way to hide in a crawl space underneath a home, then others will follow the scent. To prevent skunk invasions, make sure to cover crawl spaces with mesh wire fencing, and if a skunk is near a home, then do not approach it to avoid being sprayed or receiving a bite.

Uncommon Winter Pests Three: Ladybugs

Ladybugs are actually a beetle that most individuals consider cute to look at because the insects are usually bright red with small black dots. There are also color variations of yellow, orange or brown, but these beetles can quickly become winter pests inside a building when homeowners do not take action. Ladybugs seek a place to nest and stay warm in the winter, leading to an attraction to brightly lit buildings. The typical time for swarms to fly in search of a warm area is in the late afternoon as the temperatures begin to drop in the winter. To prevent invasions, homeowners should turn off exterior lights in the late afternoon and close draperies to keep a building dark.

Uncommon Winter Pests Four: Snakes

Snakes are a cold-blooded reptile that seeks warmth in the winter by going deep into the soil or invading a building. Most snakes are not venomous, but homeowners do not want this reptile inside a home because larger ones have been known to capture family pets such as cats or dogs to constrict and consume for a meal. Prevent snake invasions by sealing holes and crevices around a building’s foundation and windows.

 

office

Why Office Supplies are a Long Term Investment

When you buy quality office supplies, you can feel good knowing that they will last for a long time. The right office supplies can help you to be prepared to do a good job at work and can make life easier for employees and customers. It is important to have enough small everyday items in stock to make your business run smoothly, and you need quality large office items as well.

Pens and Paper
Although these small products may not seem like a long term investment, they really are. If you need to write down a client’s number or information for an employee, having paper and pen can make a big difference. You do not want to waste time or look inefficient in the eyes of your customers or employees, so be sure to have your office stationary stocked up.

Computers
When you do your work, you want to use products that you can rely on. Find computers that work fast, have plenty of power, and a lot of memory. Instead of buying the cheapest computer out there, be sure to find one that will be a good investment. A good computer will last for years and will help you to do your job with ease.

All-In-One Printers
When it comes to all-in-one printers, you want to be sure to have a quality option that will do everything you need it to. Look for a printer that has a fast printing speed. If you are going to be doing a lot of printing, be sure to find a machine that offers affordable per page printing options. Many new printers work with wireless options and can make your life much easier. Find the right printer for your business and enjoy the confidence that will come with it.

Office Furniture
The right office furniture will be aesthetically pleasing and functional. Since your office furniture is one of the first things that people will notice when they walk in, you want to be able to find items that show off your sense of style and that will give off a good first impression. When you buy well made furniture, you are making a long term investment that will pay off in the end.

By having the right office supplies, you can be sure to have good results. Be prepared and always have your supplies stocked up. Make sure that you have pens and paper, and make sure that machines like your copier and fax are working properly. The right electronics and furniture can make your business to be more successful too. When you have the right supplies, they will help your business for a long time to come.

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Beginner Fisherman: 4 Essential Equipment Items You Need

If you are a novice fisherman, you need to have a few important items to be able to start fishing like a professional. The right supplies will give you an advantage and will help you to be able to fish with ease. Before you get out on the water, make sure that you stock up on all of the right supplies.

Fishing Rod
The most important piece of equipment that you will have for your fishing excursion is your fishing rod. You can choose from many different types depending on where you are going to be fishing and the size of fish you are looking to catch. You should decide if you are going to want to fish with a spin-cast, spinning, bait cast, or fly fishing rod.

Tackle Box and Tackle
Tackle boxes and the tackle you put inside of them are very important. You want to make sure that you choose hooks, weights, and lures that will be right for the type of fishing that you plan on doing. There are many different types of tackle boxes, so you should be sure to find one that has enough room to hold all of your items. You should also find one that is going to be easy to carry around and that is going to be comfortable to use.

Fishing Cooler or Fishing Bags
A fishing cooler or bag will allow you to keep the fish you catch during your trip on ice. You can choose from different sizes depending on what you need. Look for coolers or fishing bags that are going to allow you to easily store your fish until you get home. You want to make sure that you find a cooler or bag that is going to be big enough for your needs. Also consider the weight of the cooler and remember that you are going to have to be carrying it back with fish inside of. You may want to go with a lightweight option instead of a bulky one.

Casting Net
If you are going to be throwing out a net to catch your own bait, be sure to have the best net for your needs. Choose a net that is the right mesh size and weight so that you can get bait that is going to help you catch the fish you want. Beginner fishermen may also want to bring along some extra bait just in case there is no fresh bait to be caught.

Fishing can be a fun sport if you have the right equipment. Be sure to have everything that you need upfront so that you can have the best experience possible.

 

lungs

Long live the lungs: 3 Treatment Options for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when the tissue in the lungs becomes scarred. The damaged tissue becomes stiff and thick and makes it difficult for the lungs to work properly. The condition is characterized by shortness of breath, tiredness, a dry cough and unexplained weight loss.

Airborne toxins, cancer treatments and medical conditions, such as pneumonia or rheumatoid arthritis, can cause pulmonary fibrosis to occur. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. However, treating the disease with the following options can help to prevent the condition from worsening and improve symptoms.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Because people who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis often experience breathlessness, participating in pulmonary rehabilitation can help to restore lung function. The rehabilitation consists of exercises that will help to condition and strengthen the lungs so a patient can function in their daily life without feeling breathless. Both breathing exercises and exercise training are part of pulmonary rehabilitation as well as techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.

As a part of rehabilitation, many doctors recommend lifestyle changes to patients such as managing their weight, quitting smoking and getting vaccinated to prevent influenza and pneumonia from occurring and worsening the condition.

Medications

Corticosteroids can be prescribed by a doctor to suppress the immune system, which will decrease inflammation in the lungs and make breathing easier. Acetylcysteine is often prescribed along with corticosteroids. Acetylcysteine is derived from a naturally occurring amino acid. Taken together they can help slow the progression of pulmonary fibrosis.

Pirfenidone is an anti-inflammatory that can also be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve breathing. Additionally, N-acetylcysteine is another popular option. It is an antioxidant that is taken by mouth several times a day and it can help to prevent lung damage.

Lung Transplantation

For younger patients who are no longer responding to other treatment options, a lung transplantation has been proven to improve lung function and quality of life. In one study, 79 percent of patients were still living one year after the surgery and 39 percent were still alive five years later. Patients must first be carefully evaluated before being placed on the transplant waiting list. They must prove that they have adhered to other treatments, are in good health, are at an ideal weight and have a support system in the form of family and friends.

Treatment options, such as pulmonary rehabilitation and medications, can be changed by a doctor as the disease progresses. Because pulmonary fibrosis is different from person to person, treatment plans should be individualized by each patient’s situation and disease stage. A medical doctor will be able to decide what options are best for each patient and if a lung transplantation is the best option for treating the disease.

 

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Everyday Brunch: 5 Reasons Why It’s the Best Meal of the Day

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, lunch is a mini-vacation from work, and dinner is time spent with people you care about. That’s all very nice, but something is missing: that little rogue meal called “brunch.” Brunch is the hybrid, the nonconformist, the, “I’m not gonna play by your stinkin’ rules,” meal, and that’s why we love it.

What makes brunch the best meal of the day?

1. You get to sleep in!

Some people leap out of bed at dawn with smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts. You are not those people. What they don’t seem to understand is that sleep is very, very important. Just ask the Huffington Post.

Brunch understands. Brunch wants you to stay snuggled away in dreamland just as long as you want. It will be there when you roll out of bed at ten, gorgeous and refreshed and ready to ease your way into the day.

2. Mimosas, mimosas, mimosas!

Ahh, that classic beverage of brunch: the mimosa. The drink equivalent of hiding a trashy novel behind your textbook, the mimosa blends healthy, wholesome orange juice with naughty, party-time champagne.

If you want to know how to make the “official” mimosa, turn to Wikipedia. If you just want to splash some o.j. and champagne in a glass and call it good, that’s okay, too. The bottom line is that only brunch will let you imbibe before noon with a wink instead of a moue.

3. Breakfast food. Lunch food,any food

Having brunch gives you the air of being among the leisured classes. Haggard, overworked people with “responsibilities” don’t have brunch. You, on the other hand, have time to relax, and float and enjoy. People who wear silk and linen and take their meals on the decks of yachts have brunch. You may not be quite there, but you can pretend!

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4 Great Ways to Save at the Gas Pump

One of the biggest expenses the average family has to pay for every week is gas. Unless you live in a city with public transportation, using an automobile is absolutely necessary to commute to work, buy groceries and do many other things. While gas prices may rise and fall seemingly at random, there are thankfully ways to consistently save at the pump. Below are four such strategies.

1. Check Your Tire Pressure

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you should check your tire pressure once a month. Making sure your tires are properly inflated can increase your gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent. This can create significant savings rather quickly.

Properly inflated tires are also far safer. Underinflated tires can lead to blow-outs. A blown-out tire can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. It’s a common cause of accidents.

2. Keep Your Tank Closer to Full

It may seem illogical. Most people may assume filling up more often may cause them to be less economical in regards to paying for gas. This is not true. What you may not know is that operating your vehicle on or near empty means your car is actually consuming more gas. This is due to the fact that when your tank is less full your car is running less efficiently.

A good rule of thumb is to fill up your car when you have a little less than half a tank. This is also far safer since you will be less likely to run out of gas while on the road.

3. Choose Your Gas Stations Strategically

Not every gas station charges the same for unleaded and premium fuel. One way to save is to try to choose gas stations that are charging less for gas. Many radio stations, websites and smart phone apps track the price of gas in cities and can alert residents of where to find the best deal on fuel.

There are also other factors you should be aware of. Certain states tend to have cheaper gas than others.According to Forbes, Ohio tends to have the cheapest in the country. This can be useful information if you are traveling. Freeway gas stations also tend to charge a premium for gas compared to others.

4. Drive Strategically

How you drive your car is also a big factor in regards to your fuel economy. Avoid idling. It wastes gas. If you need to wait at a fast food drive-through, for example, turn off your car until your food arrives. Also try to take routes that do not require constant stopping and starting. If free of traffic congestion, an interstate highway is likely to result in less fuel consumption than a city street with intersection after intersection.