Going On A Trip? 4 Shoe Types You May Want To Bring

 It isn't always easy to decide what to wear on vacation, but packing for your feet is just as important. As you're exploring the new sights and sounds of your destination, you'll be on your feet a lot, so it's important that they're comfortable.




Depending on where you're going for your holiday, your footwear can make or break your trip. If you wear the wrong shoe, you can find yourself dealing with blisters, aching ankles and other issues. In choosing the right shoes for travel, there are a few factors to consider:

Boots

Bringing boots on your holiday can be a really good idea, especially if you visit an area with snow or sand. Boots are easy to pack, and they provide additional protection to your feet when you are travelling because they protect the toes and soles of your feet from getting wet or cold. If you are doing a lot of walking, packing proper walking boots can be a good idea as they can offer ankle support too.

Trainers


Packing trainers for your trip is a great idea as they are the casual shoe of the moment.  If they are bulky then why not wear them for the journey?

Packing trainers similar to Geox Trainers for your holiday is a good idea because they can be comfy and not compromise on style too. Many trainers like this can be wind and rainproof too to deal with all weathers.

Wedges


Many people assume that wedges are not as comfortable as normal shoes, but this is not the case. If you plan on spending a lot of time walking around, wedges can be a great choice. Why?

Wedges offer more support for our feet and arches than flat shoes do. They also allow us to gain and maintain balance easier than stilettos. If you are short you can gain extra height and stability without tottering around in high heels.

Heels

When packing for your vacation, it can be challenging to know what kind of shoes you should bring. There are many factors that need to be considered, such as the type of season you are travelling in if you will be travelling by plane or bus and the climate at your destination.

Heels are great for vacations especially when you are dressing up because they look fashionable and make you that bit taller. Heels come in all different shapes and sizes, so there is a perfect heel for everyone.

Conclusion

While there are so many factors that need to be considered when choosing shoes for travel, things like the climate of your destination, duration of your trip and activities you want to do while travelling should be all factor into the type of shoe you choose.

Packing for a trip can be hard to cover all eventualities and it's not always easy to find the right shoe, however, I hope this article has been helpful. Enjoy your trip! 

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My Picture Personalised Blanket Review

We have been lucky with the weather in the UK over the summer. It's been lovely and warm and it's been great weather to eat outside. However having to get up early to take my son to the train station, I've realised it is getting colder when I get up and before long the night's will be drawing in and Winter will be here and it will be time to get the blankets out. 

I don't know about you but I love to relax in the evening, snuggled up on the sofa with a blanket wrapped around me. So when My Picture got in touch to ask me to review a personalised blanket I thought that would be handy for the winter months. This is an advertorial with My Picture but all words and opinions are my own.

Who Are My Picture?

My Picture

My Picture started their company due to a passion for art and photography. They sell a range of photography from simple reprints to canvas wall prints, puzzles, rugs, mugs and tote bags (ideal for your business promotion), calendars and photo books. They also have over 12,000 reviews on Trusted Shops, where they score 4.67 out of 5. That's a pretty impressive score don't you think?

Ordering the blanket

blanket information

The blanket was easy to order. You upload the photo and then you can drag the photo to fit the print area. If you want you can also add text. The blanket I ordered is 200 cm by 150 cm in size but you can order a smaller size too.

I'm always looking for companies that respect the environment and My Picture say they follow a strict eco-friendly manufacturing policy, from the production of the blanket to the printing process itself, so you can be sure that the ordering is not at the expense of the environment. That's great to know.

What I thought

The personalised blanket is large, big enough to cover a double bed. The photo is bright and colourful and the colour tones are true to life. I must admit, seeing my husband and enlarged on the blanket to at least double size made me laugh! You never quite know how things like this will turn out and I was really pleased. Top tip - spend some time in a photo editing package first to make your teeth whiter and iron out any wrinkles first otherwise you may get a shock.

The quality of the banket could not be better. The stitching had no loose seams and the blanket is really well finished. The side with the photo on is low pile but very soft, and the reverse is polar fleece grey and super cosy. . The company say the blanket is odourless and I liked that it didn't have any strange smell to it when it arrived. Machine washable at 30 degrees it's straightforward to keep clean too.

blanket on sofa

I can't wait to snuggle up under the blanket on a cold winter's day.

I feel if you are after any personalised photo products, then it's well worth giving My Picture a go. My readers can also get 20% off on already discounted products (except custom face masks and MIXPIX® photo tiles) by using the code below.


EXTRA20OFF on My-Picture.co.uk

Minimal basket value 40 GBP, the offer doesn't apply to custom face masks and MIXPIX® photo tiles.

Would I order again?

blanket

Yes, I would. I think the quality of the blanket is excellent and fairly priced. Personalised photo products like this blanket made lovely gifts too.  My Picture also seems to have some great sales on and if you want an even bigger discount don't forget to use the discount code above for 20% off. 

Tell me, would you use My Picture? Do you have any photos you would like printed on a blanket?

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Visit Europe’s Less Travelled Destinations

Think of weeks or short breaks to the continent, and the images that immediately leap to mind are Parisian boulevards and cafes, ancient ruins in Italy and the sun-soaked beaches of southern Spain. Indeed, prior to the pandemic, almost 90 million tourists visited France each year, 83 million entered Spain and 64.5 million went to Italy. But there are 44 countries in Europe in total, many of which you rarely hear about, and are totally off our radar when it comes to choosing holiday destinations. And for that, it is we who are missing out on some real gems that are bound to be tourist hotspots in years to come. Whether you travel independently or you prefer to take organised tours in Europe, now’s the time to discover somewhere new and wonderful… before the crowds get there!

Montenegro

Montenegro

If you want to visit a place that’s sure to be on everyone’s to-do list before long, then this is it. Known for being incredibly friendly and welcoming, this small country has a stunning coastline with historic towns clinging to the rocks. Then looming above the ocean are The Alps, meaning you could feasibly have a day that involves both alpine skiing in the morning and a dip in the Mediterranean Sea a few hours later.

Estonia

Tallinn

The old town within the city of Tallinn is Unesco-protected, and for a good reason. Its fairytale architecture and medieval streets are starting to lure the cruise ships and the holidaymakers, but it still doesn’t feel as crowded as many of its European counterparts. It's a must-visit in my opinion.

Slovenia

Slovenia

If you love the great outdoors, then you’ll find Slovenia very much to your liking. The Julian Alps provide great skiing and snowboarding in winter, and fantastic hikes in the summer, with alpine lodges providing warm beds and hot food. Cycling through the forested landscapes is increasingly popular, as is rafting down its beautiful rapid rivers.

Latvia

Latvia
A beautiful, sparsely-populated country with forest, lakes and ocean bordered by white sandy beaches. The only city of note is the capital, Rīga, which is cosmopolitan, stylish and with a good number of adventurous eateries to try. The country’s known for its fun and vibrant festivals, but if you need to escape to somewhere more peaceful, the forest and wonderful dunes are right on Rīga’s doorstep.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein
This might be one of the least-visited European countries, but that surely has more to do with its diminutive size and lack of international airport, than its natural beauty. Its population is smaller than Herne Bay in Kent, but it sits right in the Alps between Switzerland and Austria and is also home to some stunning castles.

If you want to find somewhere that’s away from the crowds, just find a world map and start researching the countries you’ve never heard of. The odds are most others haven’t heard of them either and that each hides a magnificent secret that’ll be yours to treasure.

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The Effects Of Stress And How To Reduce It

Stress is one of the most common body reactions. It involves a change in the environment that requires the body to react and adjust. The body reacts to these changes through mental, physical and emotional responses.

Stress is normal to the body. Various things 
happen that require the body to change throughout life and it is what makes you feel alive. There is both bad and good stress depending on what you do and how often you expose the body to stress.

Given that stress is a natural part of human life, everyone experiences it from time to time. Anything from daily work, family life, placing a bet to win the lottery or even more serious issues like the loss of a job or death of a loved one exposes the body to stress.

When you experience a stressor the body reacts by the flight or fight response. The body becomes active as the heart rate increases while your breath quickens and your muscles become ready for action. However, you risk various health issues if you keep exposing your body to stress, so it's good to be able to manage it.

Symptoms of stress

woman stressed

Stress can affect every part of the body whether physical or mental and can affect behaviour. Given the varying possible effects, different people also react to stress differently, therefore, there is a wide range of symptoms of stress.

Some of the common symptoms of stress are below.

Emotional symptoms


The emotional impacts of stress are easily noticeable. and include agitation, and frustration. You can also feel overwhelmed like you are losing control and you may also find it hard to take control being indecisive. 

Finding it difficult to relax or be at peace can also be due to stress. You could also start to have low self-esteem, feel lonely and feel worthless. You may also start avoiding people.

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of stress include; lethargy, headaches, stomach upsets, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections. You might also experience low sex drive, nervousness and shaking, and a dry mouth.

Cognitive symptoms

worrying woman

The various cognitive issues that come with stress involve; constant worrying, racing thoughts, forgetfulness, inability to focus and poor judgement. You can also tend to be overly pessimistic and tend to focus only on the negatives.

Effects of stress

Stress is a normal part of human life. The body is made to experience stress and react accordingly. That is why there is both positive and negative stress. Positive stress includes getting a job promotion that is wanted, getting married or winning a lottery jackpot. The stress involved here helps keep the body active and alert. It's a positive thing that has happened.  Negative stress includes being overworked, death of a loved one, or losing ones job. It's a negative thing that has happened.

If the body keeps getting continuous challenges without a break, then the stress becomes negative. At this point, the person feels overwhelmed.

Once the stress levels compound, it is when you start experiencing the symptoms like headaches, elevated blood pressure and sleeping problems. This is also the time when various health problems come in.

Stress becomes even more harmful when you resort to drugs and substances as a way to manage it. Instead of relieving stress, the substance only compounds it. Under the influence, you might feel free from stress. However, immediately you become sober the stress resumes. You can end up being addicted to deal with the stress. It's a negative coping mechanism. You need to learn how to live without stress in Lottoland's article about stress.

Ways to ease stress

While no one can totally avoid stress, you can find ways to ease it. Some of these ways include;

Eat and drink healthy food

While it might seem easy to resort to drugs, alcohol and caffeine to relieve stress, they will only increase the stress levels. You need a proper diet to keep you healthy and help the body combat stress.

Exercise regularly

hiking

Exercise helps the body manage stress as it keeps you in the best shape. It also helps in releasing endorphins, the hormones that keep you feeling better and having a positive attitude. Walking in nature has been shown to help stress. Other exercises you can try include hiking, cycling, dance classes or Zumba for example.

Practicing relaxation techniques


It is normal that the mind will wander from time to time. You might even start to overthink situations. The best way to keep your mind and body is by relaxing. Look for various relaxation techniques like meditation, imagery and deep breathing to keep you mindful and relaxed.

Establish your values and live by them

The best way to lead your life free from stress is by having values in life and sticking with them. For example compassion for others, authenticity and self-respect. From time to time life might get hard. You might also be in a position where you have to make hard decisions. However, with the values and principles you have in life, you will always know what works best for you.

Be assertive

Stress also comes when forced to do what you feel is not right. By being assertive you get the power to say no to anything that does not align with your goals or needs. That way being assertive helps you keep sane.

Bottom Line

Positive stress is good for the human body. You need to strive for it. Look for ways to achieve things or achieving new goals. However, always ensure you do not expose the body to repeated challenges without taking a break. Learn to cope with stress and you will feel better for it.

Where To Buy Diamond Jewellery At The Best Prices

Diamonds they say are a girls' best friend. They are also very expensive. If you are looking to buy diamond jewellery for yourself or a loved one there are certain places that you can get a bargain. After all, no one likes to waste money. So let's look at where you can buy jewellery at the best prices.

Online
You can buy diamond jewellery online at a number of websites. Buying online means it's easy to shop around for a bargain. Compare diamond quality with the 5 C's which are Cut, Colour, Carat, Clarity and Certification. For a real bargain lookout for sales such as Black Friday and Boxing Day sales. You can also check out user reviews online to see what others are saying about the company. Buying online is particularly good if you are looking for a choice from a range of diamond engagement rings.  

Buying from an online site such as MJjewels means you can benefit from even greater protection under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, as you have 14 days to return your products.  MJjewels extends this for you by having a policy that allows you to return your products within 30 days of buying them. The only exception to this is made to order items. The quality of jewellery on the MJjewels website is exceptional, especially at the price points they have. 

Charity stores

If you are open-minded about the style of jewellery you may find, It's worth asking at your local charity store if they have any fine jewellery in stock. Sometimes charity stores get goods from people who are deceased or house clearances and may have jewellery in stock that they have in a cabinet or under the counter. Staff, many of who are volunteers, are not experts in jewellery and you may find something that they have priced at a low rate, and maybe even diamond jewellery. It's worth visiting your local charity store and having a browse. You never know what you are going to find. 

Antique Fairs 


Antique fairs are great places to buy diamond jewellery of the vintage or antique nature. This means you will often find something unique and different that no one else will have. Prices can vary but if you know what you are looking for you can grab a diamond jewellery bargain. A true antique is an item that is typically over 100 years of age while a vintage item is often thought of as over 50 years of age, however can be over 20 years of age. Another benefit of buying an antique or vintage piece of diamond jewellery is that the craftsmanship is usually very high. 

Auctions

If you want to find an item of diamond jewellery at a bargain price, it is worth checking out an auction site. Before you buy be sure to read about the item first in the auction guide and look at photos either online or in the guide. If the auction site is local to you you may be able to see the item in person. This will help you check the new or vintage jewellery for any damage or flaws which could affect its price. You can buy antique and vintage jewellery this way as well as new diamond jewellery such as diamond bracelets from stores that have closed down, and you may get a bargain. Think about how much you can bid before the auction and try not to get carried away and bid too much if you want a bargain. 

I hope you found this article informative. Buying high quality diamond jewellery at great price points is not impossible. It just requires a bit of time and effort to find the right store that fits your needsAs you can see you can find a real diamond jewellery bargain if you shop around. From engagement rings to eternity rings and diamond necklaces to diamond earrings, you can get diamond jewellery at the best prices if you put time and effort into sourcing them. 

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Win A Hotel Chocolat H Box Ends 06/10

As we are heading into the autumn I thought I would run a nice little competition for my readers for their loyal following over the years. Today on the blog I am giving you a chance to win a Hotel Chocolat Everything H Box. As the world is still doom and gloom I thought this would be a lovely treat for one of my winners.


Hotel Chocolat is a brand I've worked with over the years but this competition is solely founded by me. I love their story, how they have a strong ethical stance on producing chocolate and pay their farmers a fair rate, growing cocoa beans in their own plantation in St Lucia. 

They have original chocolates too, their patisserie collection is a firm favourite of mine with their indulgent centres and fruity flavours. So let's get down to the competition. Today on my blog you can win this Everything H Box or a similar box if it is out of stock. Entry is via the Gleam app,  just let me know what your favourite chocolate is and entry is easy with a click of a button.  Good luck!


Win a Hotel Chocolat H Box

6 Top UK Staycations

This year it has been difficult to travel abroad, due to multiple testing and the traffic light system implemented due to the pandemic.  This has lead to many people staying in the UK. Of course, that isn't a hardship as the UK has some beautiful countryside, as well as historic cities and incredible things to see and do.  So if you are looking for some ideas of where to go on your next UK staycation, I have some inspiration for you. Let's have a look at 6 of the top UK staycation destinations for a holiday.

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands is just beautiful. We visited this year when we took a flight from Bristol up to Inverness and then hired a car travelling to Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, Glencoe and Oban. On this trip, we missed Aviemore and the Isle Of Mull, and we didn't see the Loch Ness Monster so it's a great excuse to go back!  This area of Scotland is perfect for nature lovers. We visited the free Highland Folk Museum where Outlander was filmed and really enjoyed our visit. Also worth a visit is the Culloden battlefield, the site of the bloody last battle of the Jacobite Rising. 

Pembrokeshire

Tenby
Pembrokeshire is a personal favourite of ours, as it's a short drive from where we live in South Wales and it brings back memories for me as every year as I used to visit every year as a child. Tenby still has a place in my heart, the harbour is just beautiful and there are a few great shops and amazing beaches. Don't forget Saundersfoot, Pembroke and St David's too. Pembroke Castle is worth visiting as it's an interesting medieval castle. If you come to Pembrokeshire the beauty of the area won't disappoint you. 

Cornwall

St Ives
Cornwall is a top UK destination for its pretty villages, fabulous beaches and warm climate. Our favourite village in Cornwall is St Ives. It is famous for its artistic community and has some lovely shops selling crafts and pottery. It also has the wonderful Tate St Ives which is a fabulous little art museum. If you want to explore further afield, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is worth visiting to see rescued seals and The Eden Project is a world-famous eco-park and educational centre. Other recommended places to visit include Padstow, Fowey and Looe. If you want to read more about Cornwall, check out this post on Cornwall's hidden gems.

Lake District

The Lake District is a popular area to visit in Cumbria as it has clear blue lakes, rugged mountains and interesting little market towns like Kendal, Amberside and Keswick. Lake Windermere should not be missed, take a boat trip on the lake, or visit the Beatrix Potter gallery where you can see her original artwork as well as the original manuscript for The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. Grizedale Forest has walking and cycle trails with art sculptures dotted around and the Lakes Aquarium has the UK's largest collection of freshwater fish. There is so much to see around this area for all the family.

Yorkshire

Whitby Abbey

Yorkshire in the north of England is known for its Roman and Viking heritage as well as medieval abbeys, castles and two national parks. We personally love York, a great historic city with amazing independent shopping. We recommend visiting for the York Christmas market to pick up some unique gifts. If you are visiting with kids the Jorvik Viking Centre is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors are taken through Viking scenes in carriages with the sounds and smells of Viking life all around them.  Other things to do in Yorkshire include exploring the Yorkshire Moors, visiting Castle Howard where Brideshead Revisited and Bridgeton was filmed and seeing Whitby Abbey, the inspiration for Mary Shelly's Dracula. 

Devon

Torquay

Devon in South West England is a popular UK destination and is well known to us as it's an easy 2 to 3 hour drive. Known for its soft sand beaches, breathtaking cliffs, fossil beaches, medieval towns and areas of outstanding beauty, a visit to Devon is always very memorable. Have a Devon cream tea where the cream is always before the jam, visit the English Riveria towns of Paignton and Torquay and learn to surf in Croyde Bay. We loved the little village of Lynton and Lynmouth connected by the funicular railways. 

For more beautiful UK staycations check out Luxury Coastal who specialise in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset holidays with an upmarket vibe. 

Let me know where do you like visiting in the UK?

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What To Do If You Have A Migraine

If you suffer from migraine attacks it can be very debilitating. Whether you have suffered for a while or are new to migraines there are some things you can do to manage the pain. Let's have a look at what you can do if you have a migraine.

What is a migraine?

woman with headache


A migraine is a moderate to severe headache often with throbbing pain. Other symptoms may be a sensitivity to light or a feeling of sickness, disturbed vision, and auras or sensory disturbances. Migraines can be triggered by stress, tiredness, certain food or drink and hormones related to women’s periods. 

Initial treatment

Treatment for migraines vary and the effectiveness is very individual. Initially, certain things are thought to help.

Sitting in a dark room or sleeping helps a large proportion of people. Other people find that eating something can help them too if hunger has brought on the migraine. 

Painkillers should be taken at the initial symptoms. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory painkillers like Ibuprofen or other painkillers like Paracetamol can help. Dissolvable tablets get into your bloodstream quickly and are a better option than normal tablets.

You may be able to buy medication especially for migraine relief over the counter and they are often a combination of painkillers and anti-sickness medication. Of course, always follow the instructions on the packet and take only the recommended dose.

GP advice

woman with migraine

If you find that over the counter medications are not helping it's best to make an appointment with your GP to discuss alternatives. They may suggest Triptan medication specifically for migraines. These medications were devised in the ’90s for cluster headaches and migraines. These should be taken at the first sign of a migraine. 

They may also prescribe anti-sickness medication if you have nausea when you have your migraines and this will be stronger than over the counter anti-sickness medication. 

Alternative treatment

There are some alternative treatments that anecdotal evidence suggests may work for some.

Acupuncture is one alternative treatment that is thought to help some people. A course of treatment rather than one session is mostly beneficial. As it's an alternative therapy it may not work for everyone.

Paingone Qalm is another alternative therapy for migraine relief. This treatment uses transcutaneous nerve stimulation which is applied directly to the forehead and is designed to alleviate migraine attacks. 

Preventative measures

Rather than treating the migraine when it happens, it's worth keeping a diary if you are having regular migraines to identify any triggers. Chocolate, processed food, alcohol and caffeine are common triggers of migraines and altering your diet so you avoid these triggers could be extremely beneficial. If stress is a trigger, then trying to avoid what is stressing you (easier said than done!) and learning stress-relieving coping mechanisms like meditation and exercise could help.  If tiredness brings on migraines, see if there is any way you can get more rest.  Try to identify what brings on the migraines and learn to avoid the trigger is the best advice. 

In conclusion, migraine attacks can be painful and debilitating but with a combination of pain relief, natural remedies, and preventative measures you can combat the worst of the symptoms.

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Wedding Stationery Essentials

Save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards – picking the right wedding stationery is not as easy as it seems.

With some aspects designed to be sent to guests before the wedding and others intended for during and after, there's a lot to consider.

Fortunately, I've detailed below what you'll need and what it's for!

What wedding stationery is needed?

wedding

It’s amazing how much stationery is needed for a wedding – you might spend a lot more time writing cards and signing your name than you’d expect. But the sooner you start, the easier it will be to organise everything.

Save the dates

Save the dates aren’t essential, but they're useful if you're planning to get married during a time when many people may be on holiday. A save the date card lets guests know in advance when the ceremony is taking place.

Wedding invitations

Wedding invitations should reflect the theme of the wedding and include essential information for guests. Aside from the aesthetic aspects, they should include the following details as a minimum:

  • Who is getting married
  • The date and time
  • The location of the wedding ceremony/reception
  • Directions on how to reach the location
  • Whether the invitation is for the entire event or just the reception

RSVP cards

This is a card asking guests to confirm if they will be able to attend your wedding. Traditionally, RSVP cards were sent to every guest’s postal address and then mailed back. While many couples still choose to do this, a quicker way is to ask for RSVPs via email or text.

Orders of service

An order of service is often handed out to guests at the wedding and contains the schedule and details of the event. If your ceremony includes songs, the lyrics will be detailed here so that your guests can sing along.

Seating plan

A seating plan can contain pretty artwork and be presented in a creative way to guide guests to their seats. Consider printing a seating plan on sturdy, high-quality sign to ensure you can easily display it on an easel without it getting damaged or blown away. High-end prints may also display deeper colours and really enhance your beautiful design.

Table and place cards

To save people having to refer solely to the seating plan, table and place cards let guests know they have made it to the appropriate seat.

Thank you cards

After the wedding, take your time to enjoy your honeymoon. Some couples start writing thank you cards during their honeymoon while relaxing on the beach or hanging out in their hotel room in the evening.

They are a perfect way to thank guests for attending your wedding and any gift they gave you.


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How To Give Yourself An Effective Financial Overhaul

When was the last time you gave yourself a financial overhaul or even a spending detox? As the year creeps towards a close, many people's thoughts turn to Christmas and how they will survive the festivities.

calculator
While the government is predicting that the economy is likely to return to pre covid levels earlier than expected, there is no denying that the lockdown measures have impacted many families across the country and price rises and reduced incomes are making things even more of a struggle than in previous years.

The figures show that over 2,5 million households used food banks in 2021, a rise of 600,000 in previous years. The need for financial security is something many families are praying for and this time of year does nothing to support efforts to get back on their feet.

When addressing your financial habits, you should aim to reassess what you earn and spend regularly. Being organised can help you make savings where possible and change your spending habits to allow you to accommodate a change in income or circumstances.

With many people's finances stretched to the limits, what are the best ways to give yourself a financial overhaul this year and improve your money habits?

Take Stock Of Your Income

spreadsheet


The first place you need to start when addressing your finances is to sit down and take a good look at exactly how much money is coming into the household.

Find yourself a free to use app or simple money management spreadsheet to help you create a complete picture of what is happening in your accounts.

You will want to input all of the regular deposits in your accounts and when they clear. It is vital at this stage, all the figures you input are correct and a realistic representation of your finances. For some people, it can be hard to look at the cold hard statistics on the right day, especially if you are frequently robbing Peter to pay Paul. But you need to know what you are working with before you can make any changes.

Next, you want to address your regular outgoings. At this stage, you do not need to think about making cuts; you need to know what you have to pay out each month.

Start with your basics such as rent, utilities, council tax, insurances and so on; include your subscriptions for streaming services, gyms etc. then add in your irregular outgoings, this can consist of clothes shopping, meals out, takeaways, your food shop if it changes each time until you have a clear list of every single penny coming into your household. You are aware of where it is all being spent.

Check Your Credit Rating

money

You cannot get a clear picture of your finances without knowing your credit score and what is contained in your credit file.

Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are the three credit reporting companies that have been approved for use in checking your credit score. A “soft check” is performed on your file by each of these companies, which means that they will examine your credit rating without informing any lenders that you have done so (as sometimes checking your score regularly can work against you). When your report is generated, you will be provided with a numerical score and a brief explanation of how the score was determined.

Making sure your bank is aware of any housing movements and getting yourself on the electoral roll are essential steps in improving your credit score. You can also demonstrate your financial responsibility by making on-time, dependable payments and staying on top of any debt by making the bare minimum repayments regularly.

Keeping track of your credit rating may not seem vital right now, but your present spending habits could have a long-term influence on your capacity to borrow money or obtain a mortgage in the future.

Why Are You Doing This?

keys to house
This is such an important question to ask yourself. Why? Any measures you take to get your finances under control will likely fall flat if you don't have a reason for doing this. It can seem like a lot of effort for minimal reward unless you have a tangible goal to work towards.

It could be you want to improve your financial situation and make some savings in your outgoings. It could be for a holiday, a new car, paying off debt, getting a mortgage, or anything. Once you have a goal to work towards, it will help any changes you need to make easier and give you something to focus on.

Set yourself a primary end goal with a time limit, and then break this down even further by giving yourself shorter and smaller goals.

For example, if you want to save for a mortgage, you can give yourself monthly tasks to save a set amount and find new ways to save or make money to put into this pot. It is more motivating to reach the smaller goals and help you track your progress even the smaller steps, especially if you have a larger end target, as this can seem overwhelming and potentially unreachable.

Set A Budget

wallet and credit card

A budget is an essential component of your financial overhaul. After all, the reason for doing this is to assess where you can make any changes or savings.

Start with the figures you wrote down for your essential outgoings ( this is your rent, bills, council tax and so on). Identify where you can make savings and adjust your spending habits.

It can be worth setting reminders in your calendar for the end of contracts, such as comparing new mobile phone contracts, car insurance, 0% balance transfers for credit cards and so on. This can help you remember not to get new quotes to help you reduce your outgoings once the time comes.

Set your spending limits to help you to save more money on frivolous spending. You don't need it to remove all the fun from your life, be aware of what you are spending and where and how this affects your income and ability to save.

Don't forget to cancel any direct debits you no longer want or use, such as gym memberships, your amazon prime or kindle payments, if you aren't using them frequently enough to benefit.

Automate

Automating your payments by setting your bills to be paid via direct debit can help you get discounts on your bills and not miss a payment. Move your bill money automatically out of your account, so you aren't tempted to spend it, and if possible, set up a savings account and have your nominated sum transferred to your savings account as soon as your money hits your account to help you get into the habit of saving money.

Put your money into a higher interest savings account or an ISA. Check the withdrawal limits on any accounts you set, especially if you need to keep dipping in for emergencies or lump-sum payments throughout the year.

Be Realistic

While your budget should be realistic, it’s not uncommon to find your spending plans are a little too tough to stick to and real-life also often throws curveballs you couldn’t have predicted.

If you find yourself struggling, don’t panic. Regularly setting aside a little time for an honest reassessment of your outgoings can help you to overcome difficulties in the short term.

Even if your intentions are in the right place, many people do not meet their budgeting goals because after they create their plan, they do not take adequate time periodically throughout the year to review the plans you made.

So make a point to constantly reassess your budget and spending habits and allow for discrepancies in your life that will affect this from time to time, such as birthdays, breakdowns or repairs.

Address Debt

Another main reason people struggle with finances is that they are working under the weight of their debt repayments. High levels of debt can affect us financially, mentally and physically. Addressing what you owe and to whom can help you put plans in place to pay off what you owe in a way that doesn't absorb all of your extra income.

If you can make the repayments, avoid spending on credit cards once you have done so to help you bring down the total debt on your credit card(s). It can be worth consulting with your lenders to see if there are any other options they can offer you. If your accounts are in good standing, you will have better options, such as reducing APR rates or allowing for consolidation options. Consolidation loans can help you make one manageable payment, but they can also increase your debt level.

Alternatively, consult with a financial expert to help you resolve your debt if you struggle to make repayments on time. The citizen's advice bureau can assist you with working through your debt problems.

When it comes to giving yourself a financial overhaul, you should be honest about your spending habits and realistic about how many changes you can make to help you stick to them.

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Why Is My Dog Not Eating His Food Anymore?

Dogs tend to stop eating food for a variety of reasons. While some causes for this behaviour may just be environmental-related, research shows that the type of food given to dogs greatly impacts their feeding habits.

Reasons Why Dogs Refuse to Eat

dog

Like humans, a dog’s lifespan is partially dependent on the food they eat. As such, different companies have come up with ways to ensure that dog food is not just appealing to the canine but also benefits their body health-wise. Even with this realisation, some dog owners still have to deal with their pets refusing to eat. The following are some of the reasons why your furry friend doesn’t want to eat and remedies to solve this problem.

Your Dog’s Age

As a puppy gets older, their feeding habits change. The fact that older dogs have a decreased sense of smell and taste has a lot to do with it. This behaviour is common and has nothing to do with the dog’s state of health. Due to the decreased sense of smell and taste, the dog tends to be less excited about food, hence, the loss of appetite. Additionally, older dogs tend to be less active and thus spend less energy, which in turn means they require less food.

Change in Food Preference

While refusal to eat may indicate the need for attention or general tiredness, it is also important to note that it could be a sign of the dog being bored with the food you are offering. Dogs are known to be less picky than other animals in terms of food. Therefore, a slight change in diet may be beneficial for your pup.

With time, companies are embracing organic pet food, giving dog owners choices to choose from. Such example is the pug dog food, which provides a healthier organic option for pugs.

Maybe They’re Just Not Hungry

Any dog owner would recall being worried about their pet’s eating habits but then realise that there was nothing wrong with them health-wise. Before jumping to conclusions and worrying about your furry friend endlessly, consider that maybe they’re just not hungry. Eventually, once they do get hungry, they are going to eat just as normally as they would.

Do Not Switch Your Dog's Food Abruptly

Although adding dietary nutrients to dog food is well and good, note that your four-legged friend may refuse to eat food if you completely switch their food abruptly. They may end up suffering from gastrointestinal upset, which can include vomiting and decreased appetite. Whenever you decide to change your dog’s food, the switch should be gradual (ideally over a 7-10 day period gradually increasing the new food fed every 2-3 days) to allow the seamless transition onto a new diet.

Visit Your Local Veterinarian for Advice

While there may be nothing wrong with your canine refusing to eat their food, it is advisable to visit a veterinarian just to be sure. Like humans, refusing to eat among dogs may be an indication of an underlying issue, one that may be life-threatening. It is, therefore, safer to have your buddy checked before coming to any conclusions. This will help address any health problems.

Final Thoughts

Every dog breed is different. The approach to your pup's feeding habits should depend on how well you know them and their breed in general. You have to make sure that your canine friend gets all the necessary nutrients to be healthy. Although it may not always be possible to have your dog eat as you may like, make sure that any signs of appetite changes are addressed and solved. It may be nothing serious, but it is always best to be safe rather than sorry.


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Easy Ways To Refresh Your Bedroom On A Budget

I don't know if you are like me but my bedroom is my sanctuary. It's where I go to get away from everything and of course it's where I go to get some sleep. I think we can all agree it's important for your bedroom to be a calm and relaxing environment. It's also nice for that environment to be fresh and inviting. You also don't need a massive budget to do this. If you are looking for ways to refresh your bedroom you can do it on a budget. Let's have a look at some tips and tricks and some easy ways to refresh your bedroom on a limited budget.

Declutter

bedroom

An easy way to refresh your bedroom without having to pay a penny is to declutter. Go through all your clothes, if you haven't worn the item in the last 12 months think, will you? Separate your clothes into wearing them again, give to charity and sell. You could make some extra money and sort out your closet too. Then look at all the trinkets, do you need them all. Decluttering your bedroom is one easy way to refresh it it just needs a time investment.

Invest in some bedding

Buying some new bedding is another easy way to refresh your bedroom. There are lots of companies out there that sell easy-care bedding. One such site is duvet covers of Guineys that sell a range of bedding including bedding for children and adults. I am a sucker for some nice floral bedding so when I need to refresh my bedroom I buy a new set.

Add some wall art

Wall art is an easy way of refreshing your bedroom on a budget. Ikea for example has a range of wall art that is very well priced. Or you could take a photograph and make it into wall art. There are plenty of websites that you can use to make your own photo into a personalised piece of wall art like Photobox, My Picture and Bonus Print, so check them out.

A lick of paint

A lick of paint can do wonders to make your bedroom feel fresh again. I am a big fan of simple white paint but other colours that work well in a bedroom include pale yellow or blue. White paint is almost always the cheapest though. Don't forget the woodwork and the ceiling too if you have the budget and the time.

Blinds or curtains

bedroom

Changing your blinds or curtains can make a big difference to your bedroom. Blackout blinds can improve your sleep and can be bought at a relatively reasonable price if you look around. If you have the skills you could make your own curtains too. Buying material to make curtains like this is a cost-effective way to have new curtains. 

Add a big mirror

For a useful and practical addition to a bedroom why not add a big mirror if you do not have one. If you shop around you can get one for a reasonable price in a budget home store like B and M bargain or Ikea, or why not browse Facebook selling groups to see if someone is selling a second-hand mirror nearby. Charity shops are worth a look too. Adding a big mirror to your bedroom helps to reflect the light and make the room look more spacious as well as being useful for when you are getting ready to go out. 

So these are some easy ways to refresh your bedroom on a budget. Do you have any ideas on how to refresh your bedroom on a budget? 

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City Trips - How To Get Around Easier

If you are planning on visiting a new city, whether on business or for leisure one of the major considerations is how to get around. There are many things to consider with this including the ease of the form of transport, the time it takes and the cost. Let's have a look at how to plan your journey in a new city.

Overview

map

To gain an overview of the transport in a city there are certain places I would look - the official tourist information website for a city, a tourist guide book like Lonely Planet guides or DK Eyewitness guides, blogs and YouTube channels. I find the official tourist websites are generally pretty good, I also find YouTube a great source of up to date information as well as blogs. Guidebooks aren't generally printed that often so can be out of date. 

Maps

It's always useful to have a map when getting around a city. You could go old school and get a paper map, these are often included in city guide books or you can find them in bookstores, or use Google Maps on your phone to help you get around. Don't forget to download your trip with Wi-Fi, so you can view it offline if you don't have unlimited roaming data. 

Walking

city walking

Walking is the cheapest form of transport and many small cities are walkable if you are relatively
 fit. A walking tour is a good way to see a city if you are new to it. These can be booked online or in tourist information offices for a small fee. It's a great way to get your bearings when you are new to a city. Larger cities however like London and New York are virtually impossible to walk so you will need to use public transport or drive.

Driving

Hiring a car or using your own car to drive in a city is an option you could consider. There are two main issues with this. Firstly parking may be expensive. Secondly, it can be slow to get around a big city by car. You do have the convenience of having a car however so you may not mind paying for this. Recently I have found that using a site like Just Park can save money on parking in city centres. You can get cheap parking in hotels and even people's driveways at a fraction of the normal cost.

Taxis

taxis
Taxis can be a way to get around a city you are unfamiliar with. Booking a taxi through a site such as Uber or Bolt in a city like Barcelona will often mean it is cheaper than the local taxis, but check for surge pricing which means it's a busy time and the price may be extra. Unfortunately in some countries, local taxi drivers have a bad reputation especially for overcharging, however in some big cities like London and New York the local taxis are excellent. Do some research on the taxi situation before you go. As a woman using a site such as Uber means you can see the driver's photo and name before they pick you up and you can track your journey as they go. This is reassuring if you are a woman on your own. 

Public transport

Buses, trams, trains and the metro or underground subway are all viable ways of getting around a city easily. In a big city, if they have an underground subway it's often reasonably priced and quick to go vast distances. Buses and trams are generally cheap but slower than taking an underground train. Trains are great to get from one side of the city to another quickly but can be more expensive than other forms of public transport. 

Boats and planes

water taxi

If a city is near water you could possibly get there by boat as well. Venice for example is surrounded by water, and the easiest way of getting into the centre of the city is by water taxi. You can share one which is cheaper than the private ones which are very expensive.  Of course, if you are coming from a distance, then flying is the quickest option but may be expensive. Compare the low-cost carriers to see if any fly into the city you are going to. In the UK, Wizz Ait, Ryanair and Easyjet are three low-cost carriers that are reasonably priced although customer service can vary. Personally, I try to avoid Ryanair when I can for various reasons I won't go into here!

Bikes and scooters

If you like riding a bike then you could consider hiring a bike to get around a city. Or another option is an Ebike or scooter. These options are usually very cost-effective and can be very convenient. Some cities even have easy to rent bikes via public hire schemes where you pay as you ride per hour. Don't forget though you if you rent a bike or scooter from a traditional office they will have helmets but if you rent one from a public hire scheme where you do it with a credit card or app on the side of the road you will have to bring your own helmet. You could of course bring your own bike with you on holiday. 

Utilise an app

app
Most of us have smartphones these days, so one way of planning your trip to a city and around it is by using a website or app like Omio. It can give you almost all your travel options in one place and includes trains, planes and bus options. You put in your destination and you can sort the results via cost or arrival time, saving you time.  

Let me know, how do you get around when you visit a new city?

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4 Warning Signs Of An Eating Disorder In Men

When you think of eating disorders, you may immediately imagine a teenage girl, or perhaps an older woman - someone who is determined to look like the supermodels they see on television or in the pages of her favourite glossy mag. While this stereotype might be true on occasion it is still, ultimately, a stereotype. Eating disorders are complicated and they can present themselves in anyone, for a number of reasons, and although it isn’t discussed as often, eating disorders can greatly impact men of all ages.

In fact, people with eating disorders can sometimes look healthy and appear to be in great physical shape, making the disorder difficult to diagnose. This can be particularly true for men, as they are sometimes more focused on creating athletic, muscular physiques. While eating well and exercising are great habits to have, focusing too much on building muscle and shedding fat (to the point that it overtakes every aspect of daily life and becomes an obsession) can be incredibly unhealthy.

In this article, I’ll be looking into the most common type of male eating disorder and some key warning signs to look out for when it comes to general eating disorders in men.

1. Eating disorders vs body dysmorphia

weightlifting

Some research has shown that the most common presentation of eating disorders among the male population is related to muscle building. This obsession with building a muscular physical appearance is generally referred to as ‘reverse anorexia’ or ‘bigorexia’ and is becoming increasingly common in young to middle-aged men. However, this particular presentation of disordered eating is currently categorised as body dysmorphia (a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder) rather than an eating disorder. Body dysmorphia does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with disordered eating, however, with ‘bigorexia’, both protein supplementation and dietary restriction are usually involved.

Of course, this isn’t to say that men are not immune from suffering other eating disorders such as anorexia, binge eating or bulimia. It is simply the case that less than 1% of all eating disorder research focuses specifically on males, so we know very little about the key signs and whether they differ from those of females. It is also understood that men typically find it more difficult to come forward and discuss their issues due to stigma and out of fear of being perceived as unmasculine.

Let's look at some warning signs that will help you identify whether you or any men you know have an eating disorder or body dysmorphia.

2. Strict eating rituals

If you're starting to notice that someone is becoming obsessed with counting calories and weighing out each individual food item they consume, they could be suffering from an eating disorder.

While monitoring what we eat and staying away from junk food is a good thing, for the most part, obsessing over how much or how little we consume can become unhealthy. As previously mentioned, it is not uncommon for men with ‘bigorexia’ to use protein supplementation and dietary restriction to work towards their ‘goal’ body type. However, doing so in an obsessive manner can hinder a person’s ability to function well both physically and mentally. Rapid weight loss or gain, intense fatigue, anxiety and depression are all associated with both body dysmorphia and general eating disorders. So, while it might seem that someone is living a healthy lifestyle, it could actually be a warning sign.

3. Obsession with lifting weights and bodybuilding

body builder

While weightlifting and bodybuilding can be healthy pursuits, especially if you're looking to get stronger and boost self-confidence, they can become destructive if they are done in excess.

Sometimes, men (and indeed women) who pursue weightlifting or bodybuilding will obsess about their physiques to the point where nothing is ever good enough, and no matter how much they train, they will always feel like they're lacking. This thinking will likely bring an element of compulsion to the training and have a domino effect when it comes to mental well-being. If somebody is training excessively (for example, continuing to visit the gym even after an injury or during unusual hours) it may be time to suggest they seek professional help.

4. Previous problems with food

If you or someone you know has had an unhealthy relationship with food in the past, the chances of suffering from an eating disorder or body dysmorphia are much higher. Particularly if someone has been severely overweight, they may subconsciously be compensating for this by exercising or undereating excessively. Research has shown that men are more likely than women to use exercise as a compensatory behaviour. Also watch for binging, purging and bulimia.

Inability to focus on anything that doesn’t concern food or exercise

man on sports ground

Dedicating time to our physical well-being is always important, and for those looking to take better care of themselves and lead healthier lives, it can become a significant part of their day-to-day activities. However, spending every waking moment obsessing over your weight or the number of calories you’re eating (to the point that you’re neglecting other responsibilities) can be a serious red flag.

This type of hyperfocus can be exhausting and even lead to physical and mental health issues. If you are struggling to focus on other elements of your life, or are noticing this in any friends or family members, it may be worth suggesting they seek advice from an eating disorder specialist.

How to help someone with an eating disorder

Approaching and offering help to someone with an eating disorder isn't always easy, as many (particularly men, as previously mentioned) will prefer to avoid talking about it. With this in mind, it's important to go in with a casual tone and try not to force the conversation. Of course, encouraging people with eating disorders to speak to a professional is always the best and safest option, but as a friend or loved one you can play your part in helping guide them towards this.

The Awareness Centre offers a wide range of treatments and therapies to help people tackle eating disorders. If you or anyone you know wants to talk about eating disorders, or needs some help dealing with one, get in touch with a specialist to arrange a consultation.

About the Author: Amy Launder is an intersubjective psychotherapist with The Awareness Centre, offering counselling and psychotherapy services. Amy works with a variety of clients covering issues including low self-esteem, abuse, anxiety and depression.

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Easy Ways To Improve The Performance Of your Smartphone

Over time, the performance of your smartphone can start to drop. The more images you take, the more files are stored and even how you charge your phone can all affect the performance of your smartphone.

smartphone

There is no need to put up with slow processes, which, let's face it, are frustrating, to say the least. You can improve your phone's performance by just implementing a few little tricks and changes for both Android and iPhone users.

Battery Life

Lithium-Ion batteries in current devices perform well if they're kept charged between 50% and 80%. This means that your battery should be topped up in little doses during the day rather than from a full charge each night. Finally, you should make sure you're only utilising licenced chargers, as unauthorised third party versions can damage your battery and some research indicates that they are hazardous.

Clear The Cache

Every action you take on a phone creates a digital footprint. They accumulate as RAM cache. Recovering lost performance can be achieved by clearing out the clutter. Apps and other background operations leave a trace, which helps them launch faster, consuming hard drive space and decreasing RAM available for other programmes you may wish to run later. You can clear the cache on the Settings menu by choosing Storage > Cache. To clear the cache partition, click "OK" when the device asks whether you want to do so.

Store Images on The Cloud

These days, many smartphones have the capabilities to allow automatic storage on different cloud accounts such as Google Drive, Microsoft Onedrive or Dropbox. This means should anything happen to your phone, all images and documents are retrievable.

It also means you do not need to store so many images on your phone, and you can delete them to help you free up space. If you don't want to delete all of your images, have a quick check for any blurry, mistaken shots and duplicates, such as using burst features when taking an image - how to delete duplicate photos on iphone.

Avoid Live Wallpapers

There are some fantastic looking live wallpapers on the market. However, they can put a strain on the CPU. This additional load on the CPU and battery diminishes performance and efficiency. To use fewer resources, you should use a static image as your phone's background.

Remove Unused Apps and Bloatware

A lot of the software included on smartphones contains unnecessary bloatware that might not interest you. Even if you only used a few of the apps that are pre-loaded, you can still have others that you don't use.

In addition to all of these programmes consuming storage and memory and requiring screen space, they slow down your device. Once you've found the offending programme, uninstall it to resolve the issue. If you can't uninstall them, they must be disabled.

Disable Mobile Data Settings

When you use your mobile data connection to download app updates automatically, your data will certainly be used up. However, most devices have the option of downloading updates only when using WiFi. Disable the “mobile data” option on non-essential apps to save your battery and decrease data usage.

Use your mobile browser's 'data saver' setting to prevent your data usage from hogging your plan's allowance while you're using mobile data (from emails, WhatsApp, etc.).

Assess Your Touchscreen

Consider using the manufacturer's recommended way to clean your screen when your touchscreen is not responding or begins to respond slowly. Clearing temporary internet files, cookies, and browser history also helps.

Device Shutdown

How often do you completely shut down your phone?

Be sure to shut down your gadget at least once every week totally. This will assist in maintaining the operating system performing optimally, and it will also help refresh the operating system.

Avoid Anti-Virus Apps

Limit the number of anti-virus software you install. Having a lot of them doesn't increase the security of your smartphone, but it does consume up storage and battery life.

Look at Your SD Card

Newer devices, some with improved storage capabilities meaning the need for an SD is redundant. However, this isn't on all models, and typically mid-price or lower end phones will require the use of an additional SD card.

The first time you use a new SD card, be sure that it's formatted properly for your device. The card slot should be free of dust and damage, and the card itself should be free of harm. If there are no obvious signs of damage, you may be able to connect it to a computer running a DIY software application to obtain the data.

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