finances

How to Get Your Finances Back on Track This Year

The festive season is a welcome diversion in the depths of winter, but it can leave you with a financial hangover that lasts well into the new year. A fairly frugal celebration can still mount up, and if you get carried away by the spirit of the season, you can easily spend way over your initial budget, putting yourself in a tricky financial situation. Now we are well into the new year, have you been brave enough to calculate the final bill of your festive expenses? Or are you hoping your battered finances will sort themselves out if you carry on as you are?

You probably already know this, but hoping for the best and avoiding doing the sums isn’t the way to go, and could end up costing you even more. Far better to grab the bull by the horns and see exactly where you stand. You never know, it might not be as bad as you fear; and if it is, then the only way to improve your situation is to muster the facts and take the actions required to resolve any problems.

Assessing your financial situation
If you use a personal budgeting spreadsheet, get your figures up to date, and you’ll soon see how any Christmas expenses have affected your forecast. If your budget is well-planned, you’ll have set aside a certain amount for Christmas, for example, and it’s worthwhile comparing what you budgeted with what you spent so you can update for next December. If you don’t have a personal budget – which is a valuable tool that you would do well to start using – reconcile your bank statements, credit card bills, and other expenditure to get an accurate picture of your current funds and debts.

Taking action to improve your financial situation
This is where a personal budget can be so helpful because it gives you a quick way to see how well you’ll recover from any bout of overspending or unexpected expenditure. If you have a modest amount of credit card debt, you could see how much extra you’d need to allow each month to pay it off, and work out where you need to economise if necessary. Credit card debts can soon spiral when the interest is added, so if you aren’t going to be able to pay the cards off and avoid large interest payments, have a look at balance transfers to see if you could save money and buy yourself more time by juggling your debts between zero interest accounts. It may cost a fee or percentage to switch, so work out which options represent the lowest overall cost before making any decisions.

If you’re concerned about being able to repay what you owe, you could consider a consolidating loan that gathers all your debts into one, reducing your monthly repayments and giving you some breathing space. Be careful if you choose this option, and make sure the loan repayments aren’t being charged at high interest, otherwise, you won’t be any better off.

What Is a Credit Reporting Agency and Why Should You Care?
Credit reporting agencies are definitely something you should care about, because the information they hold about you could have a significant impact on your ability to get credit, including loans and mortgages, and may affect other critical areas of your life, such as being able to rent a place to live. The agencies gather data about your spending and financial management, recording the amount of debt you have plus any missed payments or other indicators that you may have problems repaying debts.

Every time you apply for any form of credit or an agreement with a financial component, the organisation with whom you’re transacting will do a check with a credit reporting agency before reaching a decision as to whether to lend to you, and if they do, what rates of interest or other special provisions should be applied. Therefore, you need to keep on top of your debts and manage your credit facilities effectively to avoid any repercussions down the line.

The most important action you can take is to find out what state your finances are in. Once you know, you can either breathe a sigh of relief, or be able to look at the best ways of managing any debt you’ve accrued and pay it off before it gets any worse. It’s always better to have the information, and take steps to resolve any problems, so if you’ve been avoiding the issue, don’t leave it any longer or you could still be paying off debts well into the year.

Fun Weekend Activities To Consider

Fun Weekend Activities To Consider

The weekends are the perfect time to relax and participate in activities that put a smile on your face. This is your free time to use as you please and to do more of what’s going to help you to feel calm and at ease.

While it’s important to work hard during the week, it’s also necessary to take some time for you over the weekends. Sitting on the couch is nice once in a while, but you’re likely to get bored of doing this as time goes on. Instead, consider discovering new talents you didn’t know you had, meeting up with others and engaging in entertaining activities that will keep you feeling amused.

No matter the time of year, #HipNJ has a lot of fun activities for you to do. Here are some of our favorites:

Play Golf
One fun weekend activity to consider is to get outside and learn the game of golf. If you already know how to play then call up a few friends and schedule a tee time so you can get out and work on your game. Make sure you’re always prepared to hit the course by having the right equipment and gear at home. For instance, head online to check out the latest super game improvement irons so you can perform well under pressure and in any weather.

Watch A Movie
Another idea for how to spend your weekends is to watch or go to a movie you’ve wanted to see. Either stay home and cuddle up on the couch in your comfortable clothes or head out and make a date night of it with your spouse or partner. Grab a few of your favorite snacks and sit back and enjoy being entertained for a few hours. Another idea is to have a movie marathon if you have a whole day to spare and don’t feel like leaving your house.

Go Hiking
Exercise can be fun when you’re participating in activities such as hiking new and beautiful trails. Find an area that you’re unfamiliar with, and you can explore at your own pace on your time off. Be glad to know that you’ll even be burning some calories and toning your muscles while you’re at it. Just make sure you have the proper gear and attire and carry a map or GPS with you so you don’t get lost.

Play Board Games
In addition, consider playing board games as a fun weekend activity that will help to pass the time. Get the family together or invite over your friends and make a night of it by providing snacks and drinks for all to enjoy. There are a wide variety of games to choose from out there that will have you laughing and feeling joyful in no time.

Take A Road Trip
Taking a short road trip is a great way to spend your weekend hours and escape your daily responsibilities for a little bit. Commit to exploring new lands and make it feel more like vacation by booking a hotel room for a night. It’ll feel good to get away from your normal routine for a night or two and you can return home feeling refreshed and ready to go back to work.

Head to the Beach
The beach is always an excellent option when considering how to utilize your weekend free time. Pack a lunch and make an afternoon of it by enjoying the sunshine and spending some time splashing around in the water. Think about bringing along a few fun games such as volleyball and any sand toys your kids might enjoy playing with.

Grab A Meal or Coffee
The weekends are the perfect opportunity to be social and catch up with friends or family members who you don’t see often. Invite someone who you like spending time with to grab coffee or a meal and catch up about what’s been going on in each of your lives. Consider trying a new restaurant or coffee shop in the area neither of you have been to before.

Play Pool or go Bowling
Weekends are meant for engaging in fun activities such as playing pool or going bowling. Both ideas are entertaining and can be done with either your family or a group of friends. Find a venue in the area that you’ve heard good remarks about and that serves food in case you get hungry.

Visit the Park with Your Kids
Take your kids to the park for a while if you’re feeling bored and looking for ways to use your weekend time. They’ll love getting to run around and act silly and will appreciate you wanting to spend time with them. You can even think about taking them for ice cream after you’re finished if they’re well behaved and you’re in the mood for a treat.

Go Shopping
Weekends are made for shopping and getting a few errands done when you have the chance. Not only purchase the necessities such as groceries, but also a few new items for yourself such as clothes or jewelry. Take the time to check out some new stores or malls in the area and see what’s out there and trending.

Schedule A Spa Treatment
You might also want to consider scheduling a treatment at the spa during the weekend. In no time you’ll feel more relaxed and will be able to reduce or minimize any stress you’re feeling at the time. Enjoy and take advantage of the chance to unplug from technology and simply be in the moment as you get pampered by the staff. There are a wide variety of services to choose from depending on what you’re in the mood for, such as a massage or facial.

Have A Cookout
Finally, another weekend activity to consider is to have a cookout either with your family or a bunch of your friends. It’s a great way to get everyone together and enjoy some good food while being able to soak up the warm weather. Play games, put on music in the background and have plenty of food and drinks to go around. Plan ahead and don’t be afraid to ask everyone bring a dish to pass so you don’t have to do as much work.

Lose An Hour, Gain Glowing Skin

Losing an hour of sleep is the only downside to Daylight Savings, but what if I told you in exchange for a lost hour there’s a solution for gaining something even better, like gorgeous skin?! 

Picture this: a beauty mask so powerful it can heal acne scarring, deep clean skin, promote skin cell reproduction and hydration, AND help maintain healthy hair – with the help of water or raw apple cider vinegar. Sounds too perfect, right? Wrong! Such a mask exists and is labeled as “the world’s most powerful facial and beauty product”: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. This miracle clay is even good to your budget! It can be purchased for $10.95 at www.etanabeauty.com, Amazon, or in most drugstores.  

What is it and why is it so powerful?

Aztec Healing Clay is 100% calcium bentonite clay, a form of volcanic ash mined in Death Valley, California – yes, this clay comes from the Earth. It’s odorless and grey-green in color with a velvety texture. When mixed with liquid, it forms a paste that will dry once applied. It is loaded with minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, silica and sodium), which is the key to this mask’s power.

Thank God I paid attention in chemistry, because here’s where science gets involved: the makeup of the molecules in this clay carry a negative ion charge. Toxins, impurities and pollutants are comprised of positive ions. What makes the clay so beneficial is its ability to attract and stick to positive ions. The clay also removes excess hydrogen from your skin cells and replaces it with oxygen: AKA hydration!

Now that we got its chemistry out of the way, here’s what that actually means: once mixed with water (or apple cider vinegar) and applied to a freshly-washed face, the negatively charged clay bonds to the positively charged toxins and draws out all of the junk from your skin! While the clay is drying, you’re going to feel a strong tightening and pulsating sensation. This is normal and is a result of its strength. While it’s drawing out impurities, it’s also increasing blood circulation at full speed, which is the cause behind a quick turnover of skin cells!

Once removed, your skin will be red for up to 30 minutes. That is normal – think of it as your blood working at the surface of your skin to heal. With once weekly use over a 4-8 week period, this mask is successful in healing acne scarring and regenerating skin tissue. It prevents breakouts and blackheads by reducing oil production, and unclogging and shrinking pores, which leaves skin soft and glowing. This mask is also super effective at cleaning your scalp and getting rid of any buildup and dandruff – what it does for your skin, it will do for your hair with the added benefit of hair growth.

Important tips for successfully using Aztec Healing Clay on your skin and hair

  • TEST PATCH FIRST! Apply a small amount of clay to your inner forearm to test your skin’s sensitivity. If a rash appears, discontinue use immediately.
  • DO NOT use any metal bowls or spoons when mixing the clay. Metal decreases the clay’s effectiveness thanks to chemistry. Plastic, glass or wooden bowls and spoons are the best options.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar should be 100% raw, organic, unfiltered, and with-the-mother. I like Bragg the most.
  • Best used before a shower because the mask is messy when rinsing off.

For face:

  • Mix 1-2 tablespoons of clay with equal parts ACV or filtered water for sensitive skin. Stir the mixture until it is a smooth paste. If it’s too watery, add more clay. If it’s too clumpy, add *a little* more ACV or filtered water.
  • Apply to freshly cleaned and exfoliated skin with bare hands, an applicator or a small brush.
  • Leave on up to 10 minutes for delicate skin or 20 for normal. Rinse with warm water. Continue with your regular nighttime serums, oils, and moisturizers.

For hair:

  • Your hair should be wet, but not clean.
  • Mix 2-3 tablespoons of clay with equal parts ACV.
  • Apply to your roots (imagine you’re dying your hair) and make sure it’s massaged into your scalp. You can apply any leftover clay to the rest of your hair.
  • Leave on up to 30 minutes. Rinse well in the shower – you can shampoo and condition following this mask. Be sure to comb out any excess clay. Style as usual.

Of course, you will not see results overnight. I noticed a difference in my skin after the third week, using once-weekly. I didn’t start to feel the tingling or pulsating sensation until my second use, so if you don’t feel that on your first try don’t worry! You have to give your skin some time to adjust and restore. Consistency is key.

Live Hard, Work Hard, Play Hard.