Monday, 27 March 2017

3 ways to become a better morning person (that actually work!)

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Research shows that you are either a morning person or you are not. I am definitely NOT a morning person. However it can be easier to wake up earlier with a few simple steps to implement into your lifestyle (all things I have tried myself and they have helped!);

  1. Make a schedule around your bedtime routine.

Waking up early is not a matter of’s habit. A habit that can be made easier by getting the right amount of sleep.

I remember when I was getting up for a gym class at 4.30 am to be at the gym by 5:00 am and work out until 6:00 am. That was not a matter of willpower. I just did it out of habit, and I can tell you this habit became a lot harder if I hadn’t had a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

It’s best to set a schedule for when to wind down gradually throughout the evening to ensure you are prepped for a great night’s sleep. This involves turning off all technology well before going to bed as the blue light from such devices as televisions, iPad and mobile phones suppresses your melatonin making it impossible to press the mental ‘shutdown’ button and fall asleep.

My tip is to set alarms on your mobile phone to remind you when to start getting ready for bed. For example, if I were to wake up at 4.30am tomorrow morning, I would set the following schedule for myself;

7:30pm - Start getting ready for bed
8:00pm - Get in bed and read
8:30pm - Lights out.
4:30am - wake up refreshed after 8 hours sleep ready for my workout!

You might say, how did I start preparing for bed at 7:30 pm? Easy, when you stick to a routine it is easy to keep up good habits. My body and mind were ready for bed by 8:30 pm knowing I had to be up at 4:30 am the next morning and I had work a full day’s work on top of it all.

This schedule may only be required during the week if you want more out of your day. I personally let myself sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays, so don’t feel pressured to stick to a schedule everyday...I understand life gets in the way sometimes.

2. Stop hitting the snooze button.

I understand this is a big challenge as it is very difficult to leave a warm bed, when faced with an early wake up time.

But snoozing leads to interrupted sleep and it actually isn’t helping you feel more rested when you do wake up.

My tip is to leave your alarm clock or mobile phone on a bookshelf or table in your bedroom far enough away from the bed that you have to get up to turn that annoying buzzing off.

It has been recommended to me that choosing an alarm tone that makes you happy helps you rise easier. However as a deep sleeper I think it’s best to opt for an annoying ring tone that pierces through your soul to jolt you out of bed or I’m sleeping in until 11:00 am…

3. Lastly, do something positive and productive

Getting out of bed on the right foot can shape your entire day. That’s why early morning workouts are recommended by so many fitness gurus and motivational speakers.

Speaking from experience this may not be for you. So, some simpler suggestions are to read an uplifting news article, read a chapter of a book, listen to a podcast, writing down 3 goals for your day or even just enjoy a great cuppa or a hot breakfast.

The keys to making early mornings bearable is to make your morning something to look forward to.

It can be as easy as thinking positively about the dinner plans you have this evening, what you will be seeing at the movies tonight or the TV series you hope to watch when you arrive home from work...the little things do matter!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

66 Super Frugal Ways To Cut Down On Household Expenses

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Put down that extra large cappuccino from the overpriced coffee shop up the road and stop to think about how much money you are spending on your money coffee?!

Every dollar adds up and on average a good cuppa costs around $3.00. For example if you were to purchase a coffee each day for a week you are spending $15.00 a week that could be put back into your savings.Over a year this equates to a whopping $780.00 that you could be saving towards your next holiday, project or even a house deposit!

Faced with extravagant house prices and high barriers to entry for first home buyers now is the time to buckle down with your spending and get your savings up to scratch to buy into the market as soon as possible. Starting early is important and it can be achieved with discipline and creativity.

Here is my list of 66 super frugal ways to cut down on your household expenses;

  1. Turn the heating/cooling down and use it sparingly to save on electricity
  2. Use the clothesline and not the clothes dryer. Opt for the drying rack during the cooler months of the year.
  3. Become a one car family - carpooling is cool!
  4. Ride your bike, walk or use public transport to cut down on fuel costs
  5. Turn on your washing machine and dishwasher only when full
  6. Turn off lights that aren’t being used in other rooms of the house
  7. Cancel your landline telephone - work from your mobile phone instead
  8. Unplug appliances that aren’t being used
  9. Create and stick to a weekly meal plan
  10. Eat your leftovers
  11. Pack a bag lunch
  12. Switch to cloth napkins
  13. Ditch your single use paper and plastic items
  14. Grow an edible garden
  15. Save your gold and silver coins in a coin jar - you will be amazed at how much every dollar counts!
  16. Cook from scratch - fresh food beats greasy takeaway everyday - and it’s cheaper!
  17. Do your own minor repairs around the home with the help of Youtube tutorials
  18. Downsize your home if you can
  19. Sell stuff you don’t use - decluttering is cleansing
  20. Don’t buy stuff to impress people
  21. Focus on your ‘needs’ and not your ‘wants’
  22. Shop locally and avoid online shopping with it’s added delivery fees - eek!
  23. Make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar, water and baking soda or opt for cheaper cleaning products. Aldi supermarkets are now your new best friend.
  24. Use it, mend it, re-purpose it, recycle it
  25. Cut up old shirts and use them for cleaning rags
  26. Trade your goods and skills with others to save money
  27. Workout at home, skip the gym and use free online workout videos or DVDs
  28. Purchased second-hand furniture instead of new furniture
  29. Check the sales flyers and coupons before your fortnightly shop
  30. Make a shopping list and stick to it
  31. Plan a no spend weekend - stay in and enjoy what you have at home!
  32. Opt to buy generic goods to save money
  33. Keep emergency cash handy
  34. Be prepared for all seasons - Buy clothing out of season e.g. denim shorts at the start of autumn in the sales for next Summer, you could save big bucks!
  35. Don’t wait till the last minute with anything, repairs, groceries, planning and etc
  36. Cut back on entertainment expenses - hire weekly DVDs, cut the cable service and make going out to the cinema a special occassion.
  37. Sign up the kids for free kids classes at your local craft stores, local arts centre, Bunnings and  the library
  38. Do your own housework, baking, landscaping and maintenance work
  39. Set a budget and stick to it
  40. Purchase long-lasting, non-perishables
  41. Learn to say no
  42. Learn to knit, crochet and sew
  43. Learn to use household tools
  44. Do your own painting and redecorating
  45. Buy it in bulk
  46. Use reusable bags
  47. Plant fruit trees and berry bushes
  48. Buy energy efficient appliances
  49. Install low flow toilets and shower heads
  50. Maintain all gas and wood burning fireplaces and heaters
  51. Opt for sweaters, slippers and blankets before turning up the heat
  52. Replace all your light bulbs with LED bulbs
  53. Start living with less
  54. If you don’t have a tool or appliance borrow it, or rent it instead of buying it
  55. DIY your gifts
  56. Invest in a good slow cooker
  57. Buy cheaper cuts of meat or opt for meatless meals
  58. Drink more water and less soft drink and juice
  59. Plan cheap but amazing dates
  60. Use reusable soap dispensers
  61. Freeze your leftover vegetables to use in soups and bone broths
  62. Invest in a good coffee maker or teapot and bring your own coffee or tea with you
  63. Use cash envelopes
  64. Have open communication with your spouse regarding money, goals and life
  65. Plan potluck dinner parties with friends instead of eating out - e.g. My Kitchen Rules Sundays
  66. Learn to cook something new each week - variety is the spice of life!
If you have any other ideas on ways to cut down on household costs I would love to hear them!

Monday, 13 February 2017

How to keep your pets cool this Summer

Image result for dog eating an ice blockSummer 2017 has been an absolute scorcher with the mercury hitting above 45 degrees across the Macarthur most days. At this time of year it is important to remember our furry and feathered friends!

What you should know about heat stress/heat stroke?

Heat stress and heat stroke can be life threatening to your furry friends and it can strike quickly in the right conditions. Personally, a friend of mine recently lost one of her beloved pooches to heat stroke when he got lost on their property and could not find his way back to shelter and fresh water. This is a sad reality so please be mindful that because dogs only perspire from around their nose and paws they are susceptible to overheating.

It is also important to understand that just because your pet has fur doesn’t mean they don’t burn. Providing adequate shade and shelter for your pet is vital. Ensure to also apply sunscreen regularly to dogs with white fur as they are vulnerable to melanoma cancer through excessive sunlight on their skin.

Other ways to reduce your pet’s risk of heat stroke is by making sure they have access to:

  • Good ventilation so they don’t overheat (i.e. cool floors and an overhead fan),
  • Plenty of fresh, cool water to drink so they stay hydrated. Make sure to put out more than one bowl in case they get knocked over,
  • Avoid physical activities like games and walks around 12.00pm as this is the hottest part of the day- take a stroll in the early morning or late afternoon instead, and
  • Never...I mean NEVER leave your pet in a confined space like a kennel or car on a hot day.

Pool Safety Matters

Pool safety is not a joke when it comes to your pets safety in your backyard. Be wary of any potential dangers and ensure that your pool fence meets Australian standards as dogs can drown if they fall into a swimming pool and can’t find their way out.

It’s not just our beloved canines we have to think about, but also our feline friends.
Cats feel the heat too so please keep your cat indoors during the day when you know it is going to be hot and draw the blinds and shut all the windows to keep out the heat.

Lastly...don’t forget about your pet’s health

With Summer at it’s peak more and more insects are out and about. This means you should ensure your pet’s flea and fly treatments are up to date.

Ticks are a life-threatening danger to both cats and dogs and their favourite season is summer so make sure to treat your pets for ticks and check your animals daily for any signs of them.

The deadly parvovirus ‘parvo’ is more common in summer, so make sure your dog (particularly if you own a Staffy) up to date with their vaccinations.

Investment in your pet’s health now can save a lot of heartbreak down the track!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

11 Tips that will help you SAVE in your 20s from a 20-something year old

Saving in your 20s while surrounded by ongoing social events, work commitments and the pressures of try to adult and hopefully move out from under mum and dad’s roof is a challenge - but this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. With good planning and dedicated saving habits your future will look a lot brighter!

So here are some tips from a 20- something year old who is currently saving for the deposit for my first home and a Euro trip…(one day!)

1 Stop relying on the bank of ‘Mum & Dad’

NEWSFLASH - your Mum and Dad are not your personal loan advisers.
Constantly loaning money from your parents will stop you from learning how to save on your own and it can create some quite awkward family situations...especially when your parents bring it up 2 years later at a family dinner about that one time you didn’t have enough money to pay your car rego.

Get out of the habit of asking or expecting your parents to fit the bill - TODAY!
This is the first step to your financial independence.

2 Budget - Plan for short-term and long-term goals

Saving for a long-term goal can be boring - set savings milestones with short-term goals or mix it up with both a short-term goal e.g. weekend away and a long-term goal e.g. overseas holiday.

3 Save your change - every dollar counts!

Set up an empty coffee jar and write your savings goal on the front in sharpie. Not only will this focus you towards saving your change, you can watch your savings grow dollar by dollar!

4 Make regular, set contributions to your savings account - and don’t touch it

Open a bank account that rewards you with added interest for not touching it.  I personal have opened up two Goal Saver accounts with Commbank for my 2017 saving goals and have not looked back. By setting a weekly amount from my pay to contribute to the account (10% of my wage) I am able to plan my budget until next payday and still make bank with a  deposit into my savings account and doesn’t it feel good!

5 If you don’t NEED it - don’t BUY it

Avoid unnecessary trips to the shops and avoid Kmart at all cost! If you don’t need it - don’t buy it. Prioritise what you need right now in your life and remove any unused subscriptions, memberships or direct deposit payments that are quietly siphoning your savings account.

6 Become friends with the idea of accepting hand-me-downs

Hand-me-downs are friends not foe! You may be surprised about what your friends and family have that they want to get rid of. It comes in handy when facing the prospect of moving out of home and researching the cost of furniture and appliances. Ask you family and friends first. There are even Facebook pages dedicated to local buy and sell groups and garage sales in the local area.

7 Do your research- find better value alternatives

Don’t settle for the first option. Do your research and get the best deal possible.
For example, it may seem out of place however if you negotiate with someone on the price of say a new TV they are more likely to give you the best price they can do to make a profit and keep your sale. My advice: play hard to get.

Also swap out unnecessary costs for cheaper alternatives such as swapping cafe lattes to instant coffee. With a standard cup of coffee now costing $3-$4 dollars, that’s a saving of $15.00- $20.00 per week!

8 Create an emergency fund

Budget in a buffer amount into your weekly spending. By including this buffer you will prevent your accounts from being overdraw (eekk!) and it will provide you with an emergency fund that can build over time.

9 Use a shopping list...and NEVER shop when you are hungry

Science has found that you are likely to spend  % more grocery shopping if you are hungry while at the local store. So make sure to have a meal before parading the aisles for tasty treats!

Shop smart by create a list at home before going to the store - I find it easier to use a mini whiteboard on my fridge and simply take a photo of it at the end of the week. Filter out the things that can wait until the next shopping trip and focus on buying ingredients that are long-life and fit into your meal plan for the week e.g. a large piece of pumpkin can be used for a soup throughout the week and roasted for Sunday’s roast.

10 Build your credit history

Black marks on your credit history can prevent you from getting a mortgage on your dream home after saving for the deposit on your first investment or home.

Get your credit history in check - pay any outstanding debts and don’t sign up to payments you cannot meet e.g. personal loans, mobile phone plans etc. Now focus on building your credit history. Sign up for payment schemes in your name i.e. loans, finance etc.