Houston, We Have A Vacation

Houston might not be the first city to spring to mind when you consider vacations. But whether travelling from near or far, the sprawling metropolis will keep you and your family occupied and well entertained.

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Houston, we have lift off

Of all the things to do in Houston, Texas, the space centre is probably the most famous. All for those two incredible phrases: “Houston, we have lift-off” and “Houston, we’ve had a problem”. Fun for adults and kids alike, the Space Centre is the area’s most frequently visited tourist destination. The centre is run by The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation. This is a registered, non profit, educational foundation. Visit the extensive space museum and science education programme to learn a little bit more about what lies beyond the stars. Attractions range from lunch with a real-life astronaut to checking out Explorer 1. Take a seat in the Blast Off Theatre to experience the sensations that come hand in hand with a real life blast off. Witness out-of-this-world science demonstrations and take part in an interactive presentation that demonstrates everyday life inside a space station. If you’re planning on visiting Houston there really is no excuse to check this place out. Join the ranks of the 18 million visitors who’ve enjoyed this experience so far.

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Board meeting

If you’re more of an active type with a penchant for moving fast, you might want to take a day trip to the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark. This expansive space was named after married couple Lee and Joe and was opened in June 2008. It is home to one of the largest cradles in the US of A. It is free to the public and opens from 9am-10pm every day of the week. Don’t forget to wear protective gear, including a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. While you’re there, why not check out “Skater Alley”. This is a walkway between the street and the park’s entrance, covered in contemporary, urban art.

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Keep it cultured

The art fanatics amongst us wouldn’t pass Houston without taking a look around the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The gallery’s director describes the museum as a space of “wonder and enlightenment” and we couldn’t agree more. Classic works from the Museum of Fine Art’s collection grace the museum’s walls and podiums year-round. They exemplify the art of numerous eras and cultures from around the globe. There are also beautiful exhibitions and installations which are regularly changed throughout the year.

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Child’s Play

If the little ones are bored by contemporary and ancient art, the Children’s Museum of Houston might liven them up a bit. The museum aims to transform local communities through innovative, child-centered learning. But children from out of the area will be welcomed with open arms, too. It plays host to numerous exhibits at once, which will spark a thirst for learning in your child.

If Texas isn’t for you, then why not try California? Read our article giving nine reasons to visit Carlsbad, CA.

 

Want To Know What You Should Be Investing In With Any Surplus Funds? Read This!

When you have a good month – money wise, it gets you thinking about what you could be doing with that extra money you have. Of course, the first things that spring to mind are always little treats that you could splurge on. However, if like me, you do all you can to scrimp and save each month, the chances are you want to put any spare money that you have to good use. Instead of wittering it away on things that won’t help to make life easier or less of a struggle. Of course, the question is, what should you be investing your surplus funds in? Below are a few suggestions and ideas.

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Use extra money to clear your debts

If you’ve got any outstanding debts, all extra money each month should go towards them. Think of it this way, the sooner you pay them off, the sooner you’ll have more spare money each month. The fact is, if you have debts, it’s important to clear them before doing anything else with your surplus money. Then, once you’ve cleared all your debts, you can then start to invest any spare money you have in whatever you want to.

 

Invest in your children’s future

Leading on from the point above, a great way to invest your spare money is in your children’s future. Start each of your kids a trust fund, and then each month, divide any spare money that you have, between each account. It might only be a small amount, but what it’s important to remember is that every little helps. Say, you put $50 a month into each child’s account, by the time that they’re 18 years old, they’d have over $10,000 in their trust fund. That’s enough to put down a deposit on a small house or to pay for college.

 

Save for your twilight years

Or, how about saving for your twilight years. You may already have a pension set up through work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save a little extra. Perhaps each month you could put any spare money that you have into a high-interest savings account. That way, when it gets to your retirement, you’d have more money to play with than just your pension. Or, what about investing your spare money in life insurance or burial insurance plans? That way, should you die without having enough money in place to pay your debts or cover your funeral costs, you’ll have insurance to cover them.  

 

Pay off bills in advance

If the idea of saving money for the future doesn’t appeal to you, how about paying off bills in advance. Did you know that a lot of utility providers and bills companies are happy to take payments in advance? So, if you’ve got money left over at the end of the month, consider making an extra payment to some of your utilities providers.

 

When you have spare money after paying all your bills, it’s tempting to witter it away. However, if you’re smart about it and choose to save it for yours’ or your children’s future, you can make life easier for yourself.

Advice You Need If Your Household Item Breaks (And You Don’t Know How To Fix It!)

It can be a nightmare when an item in your home decides not to work. You try everything, and it just doesn’t seem to work. It can be frustrating if it’s an expensive item you can’t afford to replace straight away. But you shouldn’t give up; here is some advice you need if your household item breaks and you don’t know how to fix it.

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Look for the manual in your home or online

Have you looked for the manual for the item? A lot of solutions can be found in the manual that may end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. You should hunt it down in your home and read up to see if your fault is described in the book. If you have put it down somewhere and forgotten where it is, you can download the manuals online. That way, you can still read up and find a resolution without too much complication.

 

Read up on the manufacturer’s site for help

 

Sometimes when a household item stops working it is because of a fault with the machine. In that case, you may be able to get a replacement without charge. You should go on the manufacturer’s site and find a number or email to get in touch with them. They can tell you if you are within your warranty time to be able to get a replacement. They may be able to waive the time if it’s something that has been occurring with several machines. Even if you can’t get a replacement for the item, you can still read up for help on the manufacturer’s site. They often have forums where you can ask for advice. Other owners of the item may give you tips on the forum if they have had that issue too.

 

Find a friend to help you fix it  

 

A lot of the time you may be able to fix the item easily yourself. But it’s always good to have an extra pair of hands to help you when fixing the broken household item. You can then both do it safely without getting in danger. You can find many tips online on how to fix items quickly. You can also find video guidance on Youtube which you can follow to ensure you fix the household item quickly.

 

Buy a new one and repurpose the item

 

Unfortunately, sometimes an item cannot be saved, and it’s end of the road. However, you may be able to repurpose the item and use it for something else. Or if you don’t have another use for it, a charity such as Smart or Habit for Humanity will always repurpose well-used items. In the meantime, you will have to save up for another item. You could always get an unsecured loan to help you afford to pay for the item. Even if you have bad credit history, some providers will offer you loans for bad credit which will ensure you can still pay for a new household item.
It’s important to fix certain household items before they get worse so that you don’t end up with a fire or a flood in your home!

Make Post-Renovation Cleaning A Breeze With These Handy Hints

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Home renovations are an excellent way of improving and adding value to your property. Whether you’re having a new kitchen or upgrading your bathroom, it can transform your life for the better. However, many homeowners get so wrapped up in the excitement that they forget all about cleaning up afterward. While your contractors can help you to some extent, most of the cleaning will be your responsibility. This can come as a huge shock when they are left with a home filled with dust and rubbish. Not having the foresight to prepare beforehand could make this a costly and time-consuming task. So to help make this process as easy as possible, take a look at these handy renovation cleaning hints.

 

Buy plastic sheeting

 

The best way to protect your floors, appliances, and furniture from dust and dirt is by using plastic sheeting. You can buy plastic sheeting from most hardware stores in varying sizes. The night before your project starts, place the sheeting over the floors and worktops. You can keep it in place with tape to stop it sliding around. You should also hang your plastic sheeting across the doorways to prevent dust from entering other areas in your home. Doing this will give you far less to clean up afterward and the sheeting can be reused for future work too. You can also use old sheets and pieces of carpet for extra protection too.

 

Get rid of rubbish altogether

 

Instead of taking numerous trips to the dump to get rid of your accumulated rubbish, it can be beneficial to get rid of it altogether. You could organize a skip for the duration of your project or buy large bins for the contractors to use. Another option is to designate an area in your yard where waste and rubbish can be stored temporarily. Make sure your contractors know about this area before they begin. You could also hire a junk removal company such as Bay Wide Hauling. This can be especially advantageous if you have appliance and furniture you want to dispose of. It can also be useful if you don’t have any means of transportation. These should all be things you consider and organize well in advance for maximum effect.

 

Ask friends and family to help

 

If the extent of your clean up is too much for you to handle, ask your friends and family for their help. They can help you clean the space from top to bottom in much less time that if you were doing it alone. Find out the date in which the work will be completed and ask your loved ones to help in advance. If your family and friends are unavailable or live too far away, why not consider hiring a professional instead. Look online for reputable cleaning services such as Extra Clean Inc in your local area. Always ensure they have experience in this kind of clean-up before you hire.

 

With the right planning and preparation, post-renovation cleaning doesn’t have to be so challenging. The sooner you get it done, the quicker you can start enjoying your newly renovated home.

 

Shopping On A Shoestring: Insider Tricks That Will Save You Money

Shopping in all its many forms makes a major dent in most household budgets. If you have growing kids or a passion for cooking, you may spend hundreds of dollars at the supermarket each month. Shopping for clothes, toiletries, and household items can also add up. There are things we all want and need each month. But shopping doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here are some insider tricks to help you save tons of money.

 

Grocery shopping tips

Shop online

Shopping online is usually recommended for its convenience and simplicity. However, it can also save you money. When you do your grocery shop online, the total is constantly updated. You can see how much you’re spending and eliminate any unnecessary costs as you go. The website will also point out possible savings and offers you may have missed in the virtual aisles. When you use the Internet, you can also compare prices. There are sites that enable you to write a shopping list and see how much your trolley costs at different retailers. If you have specific items in mind that aren’t for sale in your local shop, you can also track them down online. If you’ve fallen in love with a brand of chips or a chocolate bar on holiday, for example, you can find snacks imported from overseas.

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Go late in the day and plan ahead

If you visit a grocery store at the end of the day, you’ll find cut-price offers and bargains. Look out for savings on meat and fish. If you buy items that are close to their expiry date, you can put them in the freezer and then defrost them at a later date. It is cheaper to do a big shop once a week than calling in at the store on your way home every night. Try and plan a menu for the week and write down exactly what you need. This way, you’ll have every meal covered.

 

Opt into loyalty schemes

Do you shop at the same store every week? If so, you may be able to take advantage of loyalty rewards and special offers. Find out about schemes that are up and running, and make sure you’re getting all the perks you deserve.

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Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickwebb/2983197457

 

Clothes shopping tips

 

Search for offers and haggle for bargains

Whether you’re a fashion addict, or you dress for comfort, you need to update your wardrobe from time to time. To save cash, look out for discount codes and vouchers. Join mailing lists to hear about sales and offers, and take advantage of online auction sites. You can get amazing new and secondhand items at rock-bottom prices.

 

Try before you buy

Always try things on when you’re out shopping. If you try clothes on at home, and they don’t fit, you may never get around to taking them back.

 

Create a capsule wardrobe

It’s a pricey business keeping up with trends and looking chic during every season. If you don’t have funds available for new outfits, a capsule wardrobe is the way forward. Invest in staples and accessories, which can be mixed and matched to form new looks.

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Image taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/66755335@N05/11050192686

 

Most of us enjoy shopping, but it can be a financial burden for many families. Take these tips on board to prevent overspending and cut your monthly shopping bills.

 

Are You Struggling To Make Ends Meet? There Could Be Help Available

Is every month a struggle? Does your income only just exceed your outgoings? Financial pressures can take their toll on your mental and physical health. Thankfully, there are often solutions out there. You might be entitled to financial help or support. There may also be steps you can take to reduce the cost of living, and save money.

 

Finding a job

If you don’t have a regular income, this can affect your credit rating, as well as your bank balance. Finding a job isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you’ve been trying for a while, rejection can become demoralizing, and it’s tempting to give up. Often, when you apply for a position, it comes down to being the best candidate from a large pool. You need to stand out from the crowd and convince that interviewer that you are the best person for the job. If you’ve had no luck with securing employment, it’s worth seeking advice. Sign up with a recruitment agency, and ask them to go over your CV. Making minor changes may increase your chances of success significantly. You can also take advantage of interview workshops and get help with public speaking.

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Image credit https://pixabay.com/en/job-search-career-work-resume-276893/

 

Coping with illness and subsequent unemployment

If you suffer from poor health, or you have a disability, this may affect your ability to work. Most employers offer short-term sick pay. But if you’ve been forced to take a long time off, you may lose out on income. If you’ve given up work due to illness, you may be entitled to state support. Most employees in the US pay into the SSDI scheme, many without even realizing. If your company is signed up to the program, you should ask about qualifying for disability payments. If you do fit the criteria, you’ll receive a monthly payment. Contact your local SSA office for more information.

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Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/dominikgolenia/436751400

 

Consolidating existing debt

Do you toss and turn at night worrying about final demands or incoming bills? Do you have credit cards, store cards or loans? If so, it may be beneficial to consolidate your debts. This process involves paying off a series of unpaid debts by taking out a loan. Once you’ve got the loan payment, you clear everything else and then pay a lump sum each month for a fixed term. You can keep track of your finances, and you don’t have to worry about people chasing you. You simply need to keep up with your loan repayments. If you have a low credit score, paying off debts will boost it.

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Making savings at home

There are often ways you can save money at home without making major changes. Try and reduce energy bills by decreasing consumption. Use an energy meter and shop around for the best deal from providers. Collect coupons for groceries, and walk or cycle instead of using the car. Turn lights off when you’re not around, and switch appliances off at the socket. Don’t leave taps running, and have showers instead of baths.

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If you’re battling financial troubles, you don’t have to do it alone. Seek advice from your employer, get help from a careers service, or investigate state benefits. Tackle existing debts, and try and save money around the house.

 

Could Camping Be The Perfect Break For Your Family?

Camping has, and will always be, one of the most popular breaks with kids. Children love the adventure and freedom that comes with camping. What could be more exciting than sleeping in the wild, under the stars? The great thing about camping for us parents is that it’s an affordable break that won’t leave us with an empty bank account. It’s no secret that a lot of family vacations can be incredibly pricey, which is why camping is such a popular family holiday.

 

Of course, camping isn’t suitable for everyone. It’s a break that requires a certain sort of person and mindset. The most important thing when it comes to taking a camping break is picking the perfect location. This is to ensure that there’s plenty of offer to keep the whole family occupied. Before you start planning your trip, take the time to consider whether, for your family, camping is the right type of break to take.

 

Do you have a small budget?

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The first question to ask yourself is what’s the size of your budget. This is an important one to answer as, if your budget is small, camping could be one of your only options. That being said, to camp, you’ll need enough money to pay for your pitch, as well as to see and explore the area that you opt to stay in. Depending, of course, on where that is. If for example, you choose to camp in Yellowstone National Park, you won’t need any money or very little money. If however, you opt to camp in a town or city, you’ll need money to spend on exploring all the best local sights and attractions. So make sure to take this into account when choosing a destination for your trip.

 

Do you have a tent or RV?

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Obviously, camping can be an affordable break, if you already have the things that you’ll need for it. If however, you need to buy a new travel trailer, motorhome or tent, this could make your trip rather expensive. Of course, the upside is, once you’ve got what you need, you’ll always have it and so can use it again and again. It’s just a case of deciding whether you can afford to buy it this year, or whether it might be better to wait. If you can afford to buy what you need, make sure to buy from a quality store or website, to ensure you get items that will stand the test of time.

 

Have you always loved to explore?

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Camping is all about exploring, so ask yourself, are you a family that likes adventure. If the answer is no, then camping might not be the right trip for you. If however, you and your kids love adventure and spending time outside; then camping could be ideal. Whether you’re using a tent or an RV, it’s still crucial that you and your family like being outside. You’ll most probably need to cook outside; your kids will need to play outside, and so on. While camping, most of your time will be spent outside. Ask yourself, are you okay with that?

 

Taking a camping trip as a family can be a lot of fun, just as long as it’s the right type of break for your family, that is.

 

Investments To Buy For Your New Home Before Moving In

When moving house, you may be tempted to get settled in before making some of your larger purchases. However, there are some investments that you should buy for your new home before moving in. Let’s look in closer detail at three of these.

 

New Fridge Freezer

If you are renting your new home, you will often find that the fridge and freezer which has been left in a sub-par condition. In a new home that you’ve purchased, there usually won’t be a fridge and freezer at all! However, as soon as you move in you will want food and drinks in the home. This might be milk for tea and coffee as you unpack or full meals! Without a place to keep these things cool, you will be stuck. Ordering your unit or units after moving may mean you have to wait several days for delivery. So, order in advance, and arrange delivery for your move in date. http://www.knowhow.com/article.dhtml?articleReference=1117 is a useful guide to setting the unit up once it does arrive.

 

New Mattress

Experts suggest that you should change your mattress every seven years. This is relatively new advice, however. For many of us, we might not even be able to remember when we bought our current mattress! If this is the case for you, or you are past the seven-year mark, get it replaced. You aren’t adding anything extra to what you need to pack and transport. This is because you would be taking your old one anyone. But if there is any one time when you need a really good night’s sleep, it is after you move home! This is because it is a very tiring and challenging time. Your emotions will be more in check if you are sleeping well. Plus, if you’ve been lifting heavy boxes and moving furniture, your body might be sore. A memory foam mattress, however, will cradle your body in a support and comfortable way. Websites like www.bestbedsboutique.com/best-memory-foam-mattress/ can help guide you on which mattress will suit your needs best.

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New floor coverings

If you are buying your own property, once you get the keys you will want to move in right away! Then, once you have moved in, you’ll want to start unpacking. However, you won’t be able to do this until you have floor coverings down. This might be engineered wood flooring in the dining room, or carpets in your bedrooms. So, purchase your flooring, whatever it might be, before moving home. If you are renting, this is still a worthwhile thing to do. This is because you will be protecting the floors currently in the home from damage during your tenancy. This means that you will be protecting any hefty deposit you have down on the place. Plus, as you are the owner of these floor coverings, you can take them onto your next place. If this next place is another rental, you can use them in the same way. Or, if it is your own home, you can use them to fix down permanently.
Purchasing each of these in advance will make the process more stress-free. For more ways you can reduce stress levels, check out guides like http://lovinglifeandlivingonless.com/2014/09/how-to-plan-a-stress-free-house-move-and-enjoy-it/.

Making Money From Your Home With Minimum Effort: Secrets You Need To Know

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When they start thinking about selling their home, many people start to renovate it in an attempt to increase the asking price. However, you can still get plenty of money for it without putting in so much effort. To help you get as much cash as possible, here are all the secrets that estate agents wish you knew. They can help you make as much money from the sale of your house as possible!

Sell With A Professional

 

Some people try to sell their home without the help of an estate agent. That’s because they think it will work out cheaper, as they won’t have to pay any fees. However, you might find it difficult to sell your home this way. Estate agents can help increase the value of your home by making it a lot more appealing to potential buyers. You could even go one better and sell with an agent, so buyers get a Buyer Agent Commission Rebate.

 

Keep Storage Half Empty

 

At the minute, storage is a deal breaker for many buyers. And if your home doesn’t have a whole lot storage, you can easily make it seem a lot more roomier than it is. The best way to do this is to keep all your cupboards half empty. This is especially useful in your wardrobes. Make sure all the remaining stuff in your cupboards and wardrobes is very neatly organized. Potential buyers also snoop around storage when they are viewing houses. If you trick them into thinking there is a lot of storage, they might be more likely to place an offer.

 

Don’t Upgrade Too Much

 

It’s perfectly fine to do small DIY jobs before you have people come to view the house. However, be careful not to do too much.Doing too much upgrading will result in you spending a lot of money. And you may not end up getting all the money back that you spent on it. All you need to do is give your home a fresh lick of paint and clean all the doors of your wardrobes and cabinets. That should be enough to make it appealing to buyers.

 

Focus On Your Kitchen

 

The kitchen is the heart in every single home. Improving your kitchen will help your home fly off the market. And you can pretty much guarantee that you will get this money back. You should also make sure that your kitchen decor isn’t too overbearing. If it is too bold or bright, give it a quick paint. Sticking to neutral colors is best. As people who are viewing your home will be able to place themselves better in the kitchen while they are looking around.

 

It’s All About First Impressions

 

You won’t get a second chance when people are viewing your property. They will only view it once, so first impressions are critical. Try and keep your house neat and tidy at all times so that you are always ready for a viewing.
Follow these tips and you’ll find it easy making money from your home!mineffort

Choosing The Right House Plan Without Breaking The Bank

When deciding to move home, a lot of people are now choosing a house plan. It’s often an easier way to find your dream home, than having to hunt for one that’s currently on the market. By choosing a floor plan, you can choose a specific design and size that’s right for your family. However, it can end up costing a fortune. Here are the best ways to choose the right house plan without breaking the bank.

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Have a budget when you go

One way you can choose the right house plan without breaking the bank is to make sure you have a budget limit before you go to speak to the developer. That way, you can tell them straight away how much you can afford to spend. It will ensure you don’t get carried away choosing an elaborate house plan! Talk to the bank before you go, so you know how much you can get for your mortgage on the home.

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Consider what design you want

Another way to choose the right house plan without breaking the bank is to consider what design you want. You might be after something more modern, or perhaps you want a traditional home. There are so many house plans available including ranch house plans, which might be right for your family. You should check the costs of the different designs to see how much the price alters depending on the style. Also, talk to the developer about the benefits of each plan, so you know which one is right for your family.

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Think about the space you will need

You can also choose the right house plan without breaking the bank by thinking about the space you will need. It’s easy to go over the top when selecting our ideal house plan. But you need to think realistically about what your family needs. Is a double garage an essential to you? Do you need that balcony on the first floor? Think through what are essentials for your family, and start from that price. If you still have budget left, then you can add any extras.

 

Find a good house developer and ask their advice

Another thing you need to know when choosing the right house plan without breaking the bank is you need to find a good house developer. You should look online to find reviews about the company and the plans they do. You should meet several developers before making a decision. Once you have found a good house developer, you should be asking their advice when choosing the right house plan. They will understand it needs to be suitable for your family, while not breaking the bank!

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Image from Pixabay
You need also to make sure you consider the location when choosing the right house plan for your family. You don’t want your home to stand out like a sore thumb down a neighborhood! You also need to leave space for a spacious backyard when you are choosing a location for your new home. Also, don’t forget to read our previous blog once you have found the right plan so that you can make moving stress-free!