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Joanna Greenberg

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Organize Your Family Events Properly

These days, planning family events are harder than ever. This is for many reasons. Families are more spread out now than ever before, often spread out over multiple countries. And while communication technology has obviously improved tremendously, people’s schedules are crazier than ever, so it’s very hard to coordinate events properly.

If you’re planning a major family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, sweet sixteen or anything else similar, you have to make sure to give yourself sufficient lead time. This is the first absolute key to success. The major factors here is that you want to avoid too few or too many people coming at the last minute. There will always be some last minute cancellations or even last minute people that need to be added, but this needs to be kept to a minimum.

One thing that can be a big help is to have everybody fill out their particulars online. This may sound complicated, especially for the technophobic among us, but it’s a lot less complicated than you may think. These days, they have excellent websites like this one called Typeform, which allows you to customize a form online where people fill in the relevant information, allowing you to build a little database and coordinate everything very effectively.

The way Typeform works is that it asks a series of questions, the ones you tell it to ask, and this allows you to get the information you need. For example, you can first confirm their attendance, then find out if they will be travelling, if they already have a place to stay, if they need a hotel booking (you can keep everybody at the same hotel this way), if they need a rental car (group discounts) etc. You can then have a master list of all guests, and sub lists of all out of town guests. Etc. And if there are any emergency announcements to be made, you can make them to a sub group or to the entire group if you so desire.

For weddings, Typeform is especially powerful, because you can also use it to do the all important gift registry and get everything super organized right from the start. The best part about Typeform is it’s totally customizable so you can use your imagination. If you really want to get crazy with it, people can coordinate even what they will wear by having them organize and communicate on the platform. The possibilities are virtually endless.

So the next time you need to plan an event, do it right the first time next time. Take advantage of the latest technology like Typeform.

Cyber Security Solution for Your Child’s Smartphone

It is often hard to regulate which sites your children are visiting online. Whether it is on their mobile phones or desktops, there are dangers lurking all around the web. Your child may be getting tricked by a hacker and revealing a ton of your family’s personal information, without even knowing it. You may not have realized it but your smartphone is at risk of being hacked or attached with viruses and malware just as your home computer is. Did you know that your phone can be hacked while it’s in your purse or pocket without you being aware? The key to protecting your phone is to install an antivirus app such as the AVG Antivirus that can assist you in keeping those hackers  away. Do not leave yourself open to viruses, malware, or attacks from hackers who would use your confidential information to do you harm. Here are a few ways the AVG Antivirus App can assist in protecting your smartphone from cyber-attacks.

Dodge Dangerous Apps

With the mobile antivirus from AVG, you can protect yourself whenever you’re downloading apps to your smartphone. Unfortunately, apps that you download may contain malware, viruses, or spyware that could wreak havoc on your device. By having this installed before you download, you can prevent those dangerous apps from taking over your phone. The app works silently in the background to scan and protect your phone from dangerous apps and viruses.

Other Features Added

If you lose your phone you can track it down via Google Maps with the AVG app added to your phone. You can also lock your phone remotely and even wipe it clean if you feel it is lost for good. There are other features you’re sure to enjoy such as the ability to passcode lock your files and photos to keep prying eyes from gaining access. There’s also a great feature that allows the app to run silently in the background and help monitor your battery life and even data usage. It will kill tasks that are taking up your battery life and also scan Wi-Fi access to make sure you’re protected at all times.

Download Avg for android here.

Smart Tricks To Keep Your Family Healthy

When it comes to fighting diseases, the best course of action is to not have them in the first place. No one likes to go to work and worry all day thinking if their partners are OK or if their kids are taking the medicine at the right time.

So what you should be thinking about is preventive care. It’s easier to keep your family healthy than to treat them once they fall ill. In order to do that, you should make sure your family is eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and sleeping properly. Learn about other tricks to keep your family healthy.

Enjoy Some Sunshine

Although you cannot control the weather, you should make the most of it when the sun is shining. If you get 20 minutes of sunlight two to three times a week, you’ll boost your vitamin D levels, which help against high blood pressure and keeps bones healthy. The optimal time for Vitamin D absorption is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., or when your shadow is shorter than you.

Exercise Frequently

Studies have shown that people who exercise at least 2 1/2 hours a week lived three and a half years longer than those who didn’t exercise. That’s just 20 minutes per day! The trick here is about being consistent and doing it every day. And it doesn’t have to be complicated; you can brisk walk around the block with your family, do some pushups, or skip rope in the living room.

Have a Good Night’s Sleep

When a family is not sleeping well, it can cause problems like tiredness and low levels of energy, and even impair performance at work or school. A good way to fight that is to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on weekends. Keep the rooms dark and cool, and tell bedtime stories to the little ones.

Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Many people don’t pay too much attention to their home’s air quality, but it can be an invisible threat causing allergies and respiratory problems. House plants like ficus and spider plants help reduce air pollutants, but it’s also a good idea to invest in air purifiers or ventilators, which increase the circulation of fresh air in your home.

Have a Hearty Breakfast

Did you know that a nutritious breakfast can reduce the risk of a heart attack and type 2 diabetes? By having a healthy balance of protein and carbs, you can decrease the fats in your blood and improve your blood sugar levels. And you’ll probably avoid caloric foods by leaving home with a full stomach.

Understand Your Family Medical History

It’s important to talk to your parents and other family members to find out about your medical history. One-third of men die from cardiovascular diseases, so if you know your partner might be prone to have heart problems, you can take action early and seek a healthier lifestyle.

When you start using these smart tricks to change your family’s habits, you avoid the risk of developing unnecessary illnesses. Another benefit is having the peace of mind of living in a disease-free house. At the end of the day, a healthy family is a happy family.

4 Ways to Start Saving for your Child’s College Education

It’s way too easy to put off saving for those future college bills, but starting early is the key to making the grade. According to The College Investor, parents who start saving $50 per month when their child is born could end up with over $21,000 for college, while parents who start saving when their child is nine can put away twice as much per month and still wind up with less than $15,000. If you’re convinced that starting now is important, but you’re not sure how to find the savings, here are some tips for you.

Small Amounts Add

Go through your bank statement for the last few months looking for small monthly expenses you can eliminate. Maybe you’ve signed up for an online service you don’t need but never bothered to cancel. Maybe you’re still paying for that gym membership you never use. Spend an afternoon canceling those expenses, and then set up an automatic monthly transfer into your child’s college account for the total amount you’ve saved. Also, set aside a bank to collect your change and $1 bills at the end of each day. A piggy bank with a narrow slot is too fussy; make it easy for yourself by using a jar with a wide mouth. Decorate the jar if you’re crafty or keep it simple.

Sweat the Big Stuff

Look for ways to trim your biggest monthly expenses. Maybe you can refinance your mortgage at a lower rate, save big on your heating system, trade down to a more affordable car, or find some other way to trim your expenses. Anything you can do that shaves even $20 off your monthly expenses takes your child one step closer to an education.

Just Do It

High-income couples are often the last to set aside savings for college. Why? Because of the assumption that they will always have enough income to afford whatever they decide they want. But that’s a big risk to take when your child’s future is depending on you. Many things in life are unpredictable. What if your company goes out of business, the industry you’re qualified to work in becomes obsolete due to legal or technological changes, or you or your spouse becomes disabled or seriously ill? If you have enough money to set some aside, do it now.

Pay Your Child First

Your expenses will always expand to take up your available income, so you have to put money in savings first and resolve never to touch it. It’s easy to postpone making a savings deposit when money feels tight, but if you do it first, you will always find some way to pay your bills. Set up an automatic transfer to savings, and if you think you’ll be tempted to dip into that savings account for non-college expenses (or if you’ve already done so), move the funds to a 529 Plan or other dedicated savings plan to keep the money safe from yourself.

Saving for college isn’t especially difficult, it just takes commitment on your part. Set up a plan, make it automatic, and watch that account grow.

6 Ways Parents Can Keep Their Home Safe for Their Children

Nobody wants to see a child get injured in the home. Fortunately, you can keep your kids safe in your house by following a few simple strategies.

Child Proof Accessible Areas

Make a child proofing checklist and hit the local hardware store. Start with parts of your home that your children can reach, such as power outlets, cabinet doors, drawers, table corners, and windows. Remove anything that dangles from a wall or other fixture, such as window blind cords or drapery holdbacks, and install doorstops to keep kids from pinching their fingers.

Remove Harmful Substances

Kids are naturally curious, so don’t give them a chance to sample cleaning fluid, medicines, or other products that could cause them harm. Consider storing medicine in a bathroom cabinet that your children cannot reach. For cleaning supplies and other chemicals, the top cabinets in your laundry room or pantry could work. Alternatively, store them in a child-proof box.

Improve Indoor Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality can lead to respiratory issues, skin problems, and other negative consequences. Kids and the elderly prove particularly susceptible to IAQ issues, so consider improving ventilation in your home. Focus on the wet areas, such as your kitchen and bathrooms, to start, but consult an HVAC expert to learn about other places that lack proper ventilation. Additionally, change your air filter regularly and use natural products when you can.

Install Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Did you know that you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide? It’s a dangerous gas that can cause serious illness and even death, so don’t settle for a simple smoke detector in your home. Instead, upgrade to units that detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. Install them in your kitchen and living area. You’ll also want one in each bedroom so the alarm will wake you up if the system detects danger. Check the batteries at least twice a year so the units remain operational.

Select Experienced Babysitters

Babysitters can give you a much-deserved night off from the kids, but you don’t want to leave your children with someone who doesn’t know how to properly take care of them. Look for babysitters via a referral from a friend or family member. If that doesn’t work, interview several candidates and ask for several references for each of them. Consider using a babysitter with First Aid and CPR certifications.

Block the Stairs

While a tumble down the stairs doesn’t always result in a serious injury, you still want to avoid it if possible. Baby gates can help keep your kids safe around the stairs. Don’t forget staircases that lead to a basement. Until you can get a baby gate, consider blocking the staircase with heavy boxes or furniture. Additionally, block both the top and the bottom to prevent all types of falls.

Taking care of your children can seem overwhelming, but you’ll keep your kids safe in the home if you follow the above strategies. Each will minimize risks and help you focus on the more rewarding parts of parenting.

Pros And Cons of Vacationing in Orlando

Orlando is definitely a top tourist destination, and there are many reasons why. Let’s have a look at the positives and negatives from a tourist’s standpoint:

Positives:

1) Best theme parks, period.

No other city tops it. Orlando exists almost for this reason and few others, at least in the eyes of any tourist. It can get a little expensive, but there are ways to mitigate this. Discount theme park tickets can be had by the savvy shopper, for example.

2) Family oriented.

Orlando has it clear that they are trying to attract families of tourists as their number one class of customers. This is not nightlife and party crazy Miami, or Vegas with all its casinos, this is really for the family in every way.

3) Best airport, period.

Flying into and out of MCO is almost a joy. OK, all airports can be a bit of a drag but as far as airports go, MCO is a class act. It’s about as efficient an American airport post 9/11 can get.

Negatives:

1) Don’t go out of the theme parks.

This may surprise people, but outside of the tourist bubble, Orlando is actually not interesting, and it can get in some areas it can get more than a little dangerous. Just stick with the original plan.

2) Climate hell.

Unless you and the whole family really REALLY love the heat, don’t take your vacation here after the 1st of May or before the 1st of October. Really December to March is the best season here, with cooler temperatures prevailing allowing you to walk comfortably. Central Florida weather can actually be quite variable in the winter, so bring sweaters/jackets even just in case.

As you can see, the positives pretty much destroy the negatives, so don’t hesitate to pick Orlando as the destination for that next great big vacation.

Pros and Cons of Vacationing in Vegas

Many people still consider Vegas to be an adult-oriented gambling-oriented tourist destination only. This probably was never one hundred percent true, and is less true than ever these days. Let’s take a quick look at some pros and cons of modern-day Vegas:

Pros:

1) Entertainment

Hand’s down, Vegas is the entertainment capital of the country, and perhaps the world. This is where you will see some of the best shows you could possibly imagine. And they don’t have to be expensive either. Discount Vegas shows are there for those of us who know where to look.

2) Bang for the Buck

Vegas still remains one of the best deals out there. All year long you can get deals on hotels, rental cars, etc. The casinos help subsidize this, to be sure, but the trip doesn’t even have to include the casinos, to be honest. As a matter of fact, this brings us to #3 which is

3) Surrounding Area

This is the most underrated part of going to Vegas. It’s actually surrounded by incredible nature and several world-class national parks, all of which are definitely worth visiting. I would even say you should definitely put at least one day trip out of the city on your itinerary or you’re really missing out.

Cons:

1) Lines

Unfortunately Vegas is more crowded than ever, and that means lines everywhere. Be prepared to add an hour onto many things like getting your rental car, and even dinner at the buffet is going to be slow just because of the sheer volume of people.

2) Smoke

This could be looked upon as another pro by those of you who still like to light up, but most of us are disgusted by it. Hopefully city officials will get on board and start limiting the smokers so the rest of us can breathe a little better.

3) Climate

Vegas is best done in the spring or fall. Because this is the desert, in the summer temperatures will soar often way above 110 degrees f even. In winter they can go down well below freezing at night, which comes as a surprise to most non-residents. Also the air is dry and dusty, which means if you have any breathing problems, make sure you bring your medications!

It looks like the Pros beat the Cons hands down for this place. Vegas has a lot more to offer than many people realize, and should be seriously considered for your next family trip.

4 Romantic Cities to Visit With Your Partner

Traveling is a perfect quality bonding with your loved one. You do not always get the chance to travel with them, so when chances come, grab them. Traveling is an ideal way to keep your bond stronger and unwind from the day to day stress you encounter.

As a couple, there are a lot of ways to make your relationship grow. One good way is to travel with your partner to a beautiful place and enjoy your time together. Nothing compares to spending the days with the person you love the most.

If you want to see the world together, here are some of the romantic places you have to visit at least once with the love of your life:

Melbourne

Known as one of the most liveable cities in the world, Melbourne is also a romantic place for couples. This beautiful capital city of Victoria in Australia offers rich culture, astonishing gardens, and parks, great dining experience, as well as stunning museums and galleries. You will definitely have a great time spending your vacation here with your significant other. Also, the car rentals are cheaper at Melbourne airport this is the reason why it is better to hire one from here and then explore the city conveniently.

Marrakech

A perfect romantic getaway with your partner is made special in Marrakech. This major city in Morocco will never get you bored, for there are tons of different things you can do while here. It is home to romantic boutique hotels, mountain views, palm trees, and mosques. You and your special someone will absolutely have a memorable and one-of-a-kind experience in this city full of lovely and impressive Islamic architecture as well as artisan heritage.

Venice

When you say romantic place, Venice is always on the list. Apparently, it is the world’s most romantic city and you must visit it at least once in your lifetime with your favourite person. There are plenty of romantic things to do while here, such as cruising the canals by a quintessential gondola or water taxi, watching the sunset, and sipping one of the oldest hot chocolate recipes in town. Definitely, Venice is a charming destination that will make you fall in love over and over again.

Honolulu

More than just a tropical tourist spot, Honolulu is also a place for lovers. In case you are up for a thrilling water adventure, then this is the ultimate destination for you and your other half. It can also be the perfect honeymoon spot for newlyweds. A trip here is truly exciting, especially if you are an adventurous type of person. Never miss out on surfing at Waikiki Beach, snorkelling, jet skiing, or hiking to watch the sunrise or sunset.

One of the most important things you can share with your loved ones is your time. By spending your time together in a wonderful place like the ones mentioned above, you will surely have an unforgettable experience to treasure and this will make your relationship happier and stronger.

Renovating This Year? Check Out These Pro Tips

Ok, you know it’s time to renovate that run-down old place you’ve been living in. Your family and you deserve better. You have been saving up and planning this for a long time. Are you ready to finally do it? Let’s give you some last minute pro tips to help your renovation experience go as smoothly and as predictably as possible, and to have it turn out as close to exactly as planned as possible.

The first thing you should do is to properly research your contractor(s). Vet them thoroughly, make sure you get more than one good solid reference for each of them. And don’t ask them to give you references; do something like ask for a list of previous clients and call them up on your own. Don’t allow them to cherry-pick references because almost anybody can drum up a pair of good references this way.

After that, you need to get your mental hygiene game on point. In regular English, this means making all your major decisions regarding the renovation BEFORE work is started. I recommend to buy modafinil, a ‘smart drug’ that increases alertness and your overall brain’s processing power for the best decisions at quick times. You should have it committed to paper, signed sealed and delivered to contractors. And you should commit to it one hundred if not one thousand percent, period. No going back. There is no surer way to self-sabotage a project than to start second-guessing yourself once work is under way. Don’t do it. And if you make that mistake, remember it’s your own fault if there are any problems because of such a decision, so don’t start blaming the contractors at that point! But better yet, just don’t do it in the first place. Make a plan and stick to it.

Consider longevity as a core principal when planning a renovation. Some people balk at the high cost of certain materials, but you have to take the long view on projects of this nature. This goes especially for things like floors and kitchen counters. Is it really worth it to save a couple thousand now only to have to rip it out and start all over a few years later because you were too cheap to use the proper materials?

Also, a big one is, don’t live in the place while they are renovating. Move out. Most people are too lazy to do this, but you have no idea how much you are getting in your own way by not letting the workers operate fully and do their work properly. A lot of times it can actually be cheaper to move out and back in, so once again take the long view and don’t be afraid of front-loaded costs that save you in the long run.

Finally, don’t neglect bathrooms. Upgrade them as much as you can afford. Don’t go for your standard boring little old shower. Get something like one of these nice Insignia Steam Showers. Get the best toilets you can possibly afford. Consider heated floors.

With these tips, your renovation should go much smoother than you could have expected.

Reasons for Investing in the Stock Market

By simply transitioning from a common borrower to an investor, interest payments automatically start flowing into your bank account. You get the ability to buy things that you need and desire with money you earned without working extra hours and sacrificing family time. As a bonus for earning an extra profit, vacations will start feeling sweeter, and travelling will become faster, swift and comfortable.

To elevate your life status like this, you need to make well thought out decisions in your investment strategy as there are many factors that you need to consider when looking to invest. Among the various choices, some are more risky than other. Some of these investment options include savings accounts, the stock market, government savings bonds, treasury bonds, common and preferred stocks among others.

From this list, the stock market is less risky, has numerous benefits and easy to invest in since all you have to do is study the financials of a target company through quarterly, half year and yearly balance sheets before you buy their stock. Also, you should know its future investment plans, the total value of its market, the orders and its performance since its establishment among others. The reason for this is to avoid investing money in a poorly performing or collapsing company. Some of the benefits of investing in stock are highlighted next.

Beating Inflation Leading to Enhanced Capital Growth

One of the main merits of investing in the stock market is the opportunity to grow your money. Most of the other investments do not provide enough returns to counter inflation or benefit. Moreover, the instruments of some other investments like cars decrease in value by the year. Besides, if, for example, you are looking to save for your retirement, the money you invest in treasury bonds today will only be worth a fraction of their value when you retire. However, the stock market has fewer risks and can beat inflation as well as put the odds in your favour.

Stock Allows Compounding Through Delay of Taxes

Capital gains on stocks are never due until the instrument is sold. This means that investors who hold stocks for longer get to enjoy the benefits of compounding for extended periods. This is because they don’t pay taxes despite their enormous wealth until they sell their shares.When it comes to paying taxes, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have paid very little because most of their stock is in their own companies and they only sell a few shares of their businesses per year. As a matter of fact, Mr. Warren may never pay taxes since he swore to donate it all to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Similarly, investing in stock exchange translates to fewer and delayed tax obligations for you.

Dividend Income

Certain stocks provide income in the form of dividends while others provide annual payments to inventors. These payments are delivered to shareholders even if the stocks have lost value. They represent earning on top of the profits that come from selling the stock. Dividends can be used for a retirement fund or to grow your investment portfolio.

Diversification

Stock market inventors who put money in diverse types of products enjoy the benefits of diversification; it spreads the risk since stock market prices fluctuate independently. Holding stock can assist in weathering losses to other investment companies. A firm of experts such as CMC Markets can help in identifying the right portfolio to keep. Moreover, stock adds risk to your portfolio as well as the possibility of large and quick gains, while helping shareholders evade risk-averse and extreme conservative investment strategies.

Ownership

Purchasing shares simply means taking on an ownership stake in a particular business. This means that every time you buy stock, you become one of the owners of the target company where you have the right to vote in directors, have a say in particular business decisions and receive annual reports to keep you updated on the operations of the company. Furthermore, buying shares from the company you work for can portray loyalty and is also a good way of tying your individual finances to the success of the whole business.

In conclusion, the value of a business’ stock at a specific time depends on its financial data, which includes assets, financial figures and the growth rate of the company. It is clear that these factors keep changing, but generally, there is consistency in the performance of the business. You can also conclude that well-administered companies grow significantly and continue to provide dividends and profits to their shareholders.