19 September 2018

How to Keep Your Computer Safe While Browsing the Internet

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

#1 - Use a Good Anti-Virus Program

Computer threats come in all forms – from malware to viruses. These two forms of threat can restrict and restrain certain computer functions, resulting in a large dip in performance and operating speed. Anything that hinders your software or hardware components should be considered a threat, and one should use every means to keep your computer clean from all forms of infection. A good anti-virus program is the first step in that process. Look for one that is ‘all-encompassing’, meaning that it encompasses every threat, in every form.  

#2 – Consider Using a VPN

Some of us old-schoolers may have never used, or even heard of, a VPN. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, allowing the user’s connection to be re-routed through a private, and encrypted, anonymous third-party connection – hiding every facet of one’s online interactions. When you use a VPN connection, everything from the very basic data your PC transmits, is encrypted and nearly un-traceable. In fact, even if someone with ill intent were watching your online interactions, they would only see the encrypted information, and zero raw data. If you’re interested in learning more, or using a VPN, find out more about VPNs and ensure that one looks up their local, state, and federal laws regarding the technologies use.

#3 – Use Google Incognito for Questionable Websites

In-case you accidently (or purposely) find yourself on a questionable website while scrolling your PC, or phone, at any point throughout the day, remember that Google Chrome has a fantastic feature that allows you to surf the net, without the browser saving any of your history. Looking to make an anniversary, or birthday purchase, and don’t want your significant other to see it when they use the same computer? Chrome’s Incognito mode has your back. Need to use your neighbor, or friend’s PC or Phone to check your bank? Simply engage Chrome’s Incognito mode, and everything you sign into, including bank information or email/website accounts, will be technologically forgotten the moment you close browser.

3 Ways to Save Money While Shopping Online

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

#1 - Try to Find Online Coupon Codes

Nowadays, coupon codes are everywhere.  There are Google extensions that claim to find the coupon code that you are looking for when you need it, there are apps on your phone that will bring up the coupon code at the nick of time, and there are even websites like https://sello.com/ dedicated to having all the latest and greatest, tried-and-true codes at your fingertips.  Searching for a coupon code that fits what you are trying to buy is a little bit difficult, because sometimes they do not match up to what is in your online cart at the time.  With a little browsing, it is possible to match up a code with what you need and save an easy 5-25% from your online purchase.

#2 - Use Second-Hand Shopping Sites

Buying brand-new items is not something that you have to do only in a brick and mortar store.  Now you can purchase second hand items online, and it can save you a ton of money.  There are a lot of websites that offer this luxury, and it brings to the table a whole new base of items that are practically brand new and affordable.  It is a fantastic way to get your hands-on brands, and items, that you have wanted for a long time without breaking the bank.  Plus, you do not have to leave the house to do it!

#3 - Always Aim for Free Shipping

A trick to shopping online is to always target the free shipping deals.  Typically, you can find free shipping coupon codes that allow for this expense to be negated.  However, if you do not, it is smart to email the company and ask for a free shipping code as a new customer.  If the purchase is not timely, then most of the time emails come around for free shipping and you can wait for the code.  Other times, websites will run deals where shipping is free after “X” amount of $ is spent.  It is wise to pre-plan purchases to assume that shipping is indeed included in the purchase amount.

17 September 2018

How to Start Planning for Health Care Costs in Retirement

The cost of healthcare is slowly on the rise. In this kind of health climate, now is definitely the time to start thinking about your retirement and, more importantly, the cost. When considering retirement, many individuals forget to include the cost of healthcare in their overall plan. This is usually because they’re used to paying a lower amount because of health subsidies from their employers.

What everyone should remember is that you won't have those benefits once you retire, though there are federal programs that help lower costs. It’s possible you’ll be expected to pay a higher out-of-pocket cost for your health care, not to mention you’ll need to choose the right coverage plan. Your health is your most important asset, and now is the time to start saving. If you ’re retiring in the near future, here are a few points you need to consider to prepare for health costs.

Selective Focus Photography of Left Hand on Top of Right Hand on White Pants

Consider Medicare--

Discussing Medicare is a given when it comes to planning for retirement. It is one of the best federal programs, and while you may think this is something you don’t need to worry about, it’s best to prepare early. Take the time to become familiar with the Medicare plans and consider which coverage you’ll most likely need during retirement.

Medicare is not a one-and-done situation. After you retire, you can revisit your Medicare plan every year to make sure you are receiving the coverage you need under Parts A, B, C, and D. The plan you choose when you retire might not be the best for you later in life. Always be aware of the treatment you are receiving and compare it to the coverage you selected. Your doctor can help direct you towards a Medicare plan that will cover your needs.

Selective Focus Photo of Gray Metal Folding Walker

Factoring Health Costs--

While you may not know exactly how much money you will need in retirement, there are plenty of ways to get a good quote on how much you should have when you retire. There are multiple websites that offer health costs calculators so you can figure out how much to start saving. These calculators will take in consideration your age, gender, and health to give you an estimate on what you will be spending on health care.

Of course, this isn’t set in stone, there could be an unpredictable illness that could cost you. Choosing from one of the low-cost health insurance companies that help seniors find affordable care is a good way to be prepared for anything.

However, money isn’t the only thing that could help you plan for health care costs in retirement. Choosing to take care of your body now will lower the likelihood you needing to spend excess money on healthcare in the future.

Health Savings Account (HSA)--

Before retirement consider opening an HSA (Health Savings Account). These kinds of accounts are available for individuals with a high-deductible health plan and no other health insurance. HSAs have minimum options for your annual contribution, but you might not always have to tackle that limit on your own.

If you’re still employed, you might only have to put a certain amount of money into your HSA while your employer places a portion as well. Even better, the money you place into this fund is tax-deductible (up to the HSA contribution minimum) and any interest earned on the account is tax-free as well.  

Man in Brown Sun Hat Facing Black Covered Piled Books

Unpaid Care Options--

Another factor that could influence your plan for health care costs in retirement is taking into consideration your unpaid care options. If you were to need care, is there a source in your life that could support you? For instance, could you rely on your children or family to care for you if you were to need additional assistance?

These are hard questions, but ones you’ll need to tackle realistically. When considering health costs for retirement, talk to your family about facility care, in-home living solutions, and other options. The answer could affect your retirement plan, so take the time to think about what you would like to happen in this instance.

Thinking about retirement is an extremely important part of preparing for your golden years. Taking the steps to secure your financial future now can tremendously help you in the future, especially when it comes to health costs. Remember to consider all your options for saving to secure a strong, healthy tomorrow.

7 Ways to Build a Good Family Relationship


Sure, we love our families, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Family units are as varied and unique as people are themselves. But despite the differences in upbringing, education, or social community, there are universal ways to help you to build a good relationship with your family members.

Socialize--

It’s important to spend time with your family in social settings, and it’s easy to create these within your own home at meal times or game nights. Give your family time to have fun together.

Taking the opportunity to attend events as a family is great, too, especially when one or more family members are involved. Support one another at concerts, swim meets, and work picnics.

Communicate--

Make sure a healthy dose of your socializing includes engaging with one another. As much fun as going to a movie might be, it doesn’t offer space to explore ideas and discuss the things that are going on in everyday life.

Decide--

Involve the family in important decisions and planning. This gives everyone an opportunity to recognize their importance, and having a regular family meeting will provide a place for everyone to practice communication and cooperation.

Talk about family rules and their purpose. Assign chores. If needed, you can discuss and resolve conflicts as well.

Work--

Provide opportunities for your family to work together on different projects. This could mean assigning chores your children must do as a team or getting everyone out in the yard to trim and water and weed.

You might be in a situation where one or both parents are working. This could require teaching one another to give support by doing tasks they wouldn’t normally do. If your kids spend the day at Lolo’s Little Darlins Daycare, everyone might need to pitch in for dinner and chores in the evening. If Dad is working from home, someone might take the trash out for him even if it’s not their turn.

Learn--

Children are learning every day, and some of the best things they can learn won’t come from a classroom. When you take them along on errands, give them a bit of responsibility. Filling the gas tank? Put them in charge of the gas cap. Going grocery shopping? Have them help pick out the best produce.

Getting them involved in daily tasks and conversations will prepare them to navigate their own finances and communities later on in addition to showing they are an important piece in taking care of your family now.

Grow--

In all these things, more than anything you’ll be learning to grow and move forward through difficult things. You want your children to learn that they can trust you to follow through.

Help them to learn how to work through conflicts without letting their emotions run the discussion, and teach them to forgive their brothers and sisters, knowing their mistakes won’t be held against them either.

All For One and One For All--

Each of these activities should be done as a family and on an individual level. By strengthening those one-on-one connections, you’ll build more unity in your family activities, and having those bonds will become increasingly important and you face more of life’s challenges. So when you run to the grocery store, grab a kid and spend a few personal minutes chatting.

10 September 2018

10 Vital Ways to Treat Yourself


You, yes you, deserve to treat yourself. If you don’t believe so, you’re wrong. Even if you think little of yourself, you are much better than you feel you are. This means you should prove that to yourself. A little self-kindness can go a long way. Indulging from time to time is not something to be criticized. We all need it, and it can lead to feelings of self-worth, of willingness to be better, of comforting you after a difficult time.

Does this mean you should eat two Ben & Jerry's full cartons after you experience something difficult in a day, solely to unwind? No. Treating yourself loses its focus and purpose when you do it all the time. Thankfully though, treating yourself is more than possible if you do it in moderation. After all, everything should be done in moderation, even moderation. That means these following, substantial self-treatment techniques could help you gain a renewed spring in your step, and make life a little lighter:

Sleep--

You deserve to indulge in sleep. We all often talk to our friends and family about how tired we are, and how our responsibilities can often mean our sleeping habits become less and less reliable each night. This can only increase in difficulty when experiencing stress, emotional trouble or perhaps suffering from a form of illness. If there’s anything you deserve in this life, it’s a good sleep. However, not enough people make time to improve this in their daily lives. This can be quite a shame.

We’re simply suggesting you prioritize this time of your life. Up to a third of your life will be spent sleeping (if you do it well,) and so improving your sleep habits is perhaps one of the most immediate life betterment strategies you can pay attention to. We’d recommend assessing your sleep habits. Make a reliable bedtime and wake time.

Perhaps replace your mattress or bed frame with and elegant wooden bed setup, something you can rely on for years more. Indulge in comfortable bedding. Try to remove any distractions at least half an hour before bed. Drink plenty of water, and eat dinner at an appropriate time. Then, when it’s time to hit the hay, sprawl out and indulge in the comfort there. Perhaps it might take some herbal sleeping tablets to get you started, but long, restful sleeps can be a true gift if you work towards it. If having trouble, remember there are sleep therapists you can consult.

Spa--

You deserve to feel a little pampered. Heading to your local spa with a friend not only serves as an excellent bonding activity, but can help you reduce the carried stress you’ve become way too used to. A deep sports massage or a more spiritual reiki session could be just what you need to feel more comfortable than you have been. It’s amazing to see just how renewed we can feel after one of these deep sessions, but you’ll know if you take the chance yourself.

Equipment--

Sometimes we need to upgrade the peripherals of our life. This might be as simply as purchasing a new scent for your vehicle, or something as major as an impromptu phone or laptop. Giving yourself a gift at random for the purpose of bettering yourself and your life can be a great indulgence, because it works towards something. Plus it shows that you’re worth being pampered, especially when you know you’ve earned it.

Art--

You deserve to submerge into art and escapism from time to time. From visiting museums to checking out new VR headsets, appreciating beautiful aesthetics in life can lift our spirits, and help us think more creatively.

Travel--

Travel broadens the mind. For that reason, it has a deeply sobering effect. Travel abroad to enrich yourself with various culture, or perhaps to just absorb amazing scenery is all worthwhile, and you could likely benefit from taking part in this. Often all you need is a little interest in adventure, and you can push yourself forward to new and amazing heights. Consider asking a friend and make excited plans to try this out with one another, and automatically you have a partner in crime to double the excitement by a factor of two.

Taking a Chance--

Taking a chance in a new weird hobby or niche can be an excellent thing to do. It might be you’re really interested in tabletop gaming with figurines, no matter how nerdy it looks. You may wish to wear a certain something you’ve lacked the confidence to do so until now. Taking a chance indulges our best selves, because it shows that if we like something, we never need to apologize for it.

Forgiving--

Many people hold onto anger, hatred and jealous, or bitter resentment towards someone that has done harm against us. No matter how valid these feelings are, often taking the time to sit back and truly consider these issues in context, perhaps even forgiving that person (even if they do not deserve it,) can help you release an emotional weight from your shoulders and put the matter to rest. We all have people we’re not the biggest fans of in our life. Perhaps you could use this power for your personal benefit.

Socializing--

Socializing is something to indulge in, but only if you love the people you’re hanging around. Never be afraid to prune or add friends to your list of close contacts. It could be this act is the indulgent habit. Doing so helps you feel connected to people you respect, and that’s one of the best feelings to enjoy.

Indulge Weirdness--

A little weirdness isn’t a bad thing. You may decide to simply dance around the house to a great song, making all kinds of odd faces in the mirror to make yourself laugh. We all have these feelings of silliness once in a while, and in the right time and place exercising this irrational aspect can be good for our souls.

Comforting--

Why not dive into comfort at some point this week? Take a full evening to put your feet up, drink a hot chocolate and binge your favourite Netflix show. Unhook your phone (or mute it,) and worry not about the worries of the wider world as you sink into your couch cushions.

With these simple tips, you are sure to treat yourself in ten vital ways.