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How to Set Goals

setting-goals
 
We all make goals and we make them for many reasons. They can help us be productive in both our personal and professional lives. But if you don’t know the key aspects of goal making than your efforts can seem pointless. By taking into mind the following key components of goal setting, you can successfully accomplish all your goals.

  1. Make the Main Goal
  2. Find the Goal’s Purpose
  3. Make a Detailed Plan
  4. Measure the Results
  5. Reward Yourself

Why Make Goals?

Goals are how you decide to do something and the plan you take to achieve it. Goals consist of long term and short term goals. Sometimes your goal is a big picture, far in the future kind of goal, and other times your goal is closer to the present. Sometimes long term and short term goals can be seen as main goals and sub goals that lead you to your ultimate goal.
For instance, maybe you want to start a successful business, having a successful business would be your long term or ultimate goal. All of the tasks and accomplishments that are necessary for you to get to your ultimate goal are the short term goals or subtasks or steps necessary to achieve the main objective. One of those short term goals might be getting the papers for your business in order.
inspirational-quote-goals

Different Kinds of Goals

Goals don’t just have to be professional. You can make fun goals too! There are lots of formal, professional, and serious goals we need to make throughout our lives, but there are personal and fun goals we can be making along the way as well. Make goals for your more professional and serious successes, but set goals for yourself as well, like to get out every Friday, or to save up for a vacation this summer. You’ll also want to be making financial goals, like to save up for a new car, or spend less on entertainment this month. If you ever need help reaching your financial goals and getting back on track you can take out a personal loan at Check City.

  • Professional Goals (goals about work, or your own professional endeavors, hobbies, or talents)
  • Fun Personal Goals (goal to save up for vacation this summer)
  • Serious Personal Goals (goals to better your physical or mental health)
  • Financial Goals

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It is an acronym that describes the kind of goals you want to make. You want the goals you make to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
 
Don’t just make a blanket goal to lose weight, make a specific goal to lose 10 pounds.
Utilize a scale to measure your progress.
Plan to achieve your goal by formulating a new plan for your meals and exercise.
Make a plan to lose weight because this goal is relevant to your life, and will give you tangible health benefits.
Give yourself a timeline by planning dates for weigh-ins, with specific weight goals for each weigh-in date.

1. Make the Main Goal

Don’t have too many goals at one time. This may be difficult if you are creating a business, but that is why hiring dependable employees and delegating effectively and communicating well with each other is so important, especially in the beginning. If any one person in your project has too many goals they need to achieve they can have trouble focusing and end up not accomplishing anything very well. So delegate goals so that each person can have the most focus possible for their manageable set of goals. That way, each goal gets accomplished on time, and in the best way, done all the way and not incomplete or done poorly.

2. Find the Goal’s Purpose

Every goal needs a clear sense of purpose. You need to have a specific objective in order to effectively motivate yourself to achieve this goal. Yes you may want to have a successful business but why? Think about your reasons and write these down. Many successful businesses today made it big because they had a clear motivation behind all they do, and a lot of them end up sharing this in their company’s origination stories or in their company motto.

3. Make a Detailed Plan

When planning your goals you’ll want to list out a series of steps or subtasks, or sub-goals that are going to get you to your main goal. You want these steps to be very specific things you can really do. Be detailed so nothing important falls by the wayside. For instance, only saying “make print ads” may not be helpful. You also need to plan out how you’re going to make them, when they are due, and where they’re going to get posted, and who is in charge of getting the permissions to post them at each location. Right all these things out, plan out the times, the places, and the people involved.

4. Measure the Results

Keep track of how you’re doing. If the steps you have in your plan aren’t giving measurable results than you can change your plan.

5. Reward Yourself

Sometimes an extra motivator or benefit is helpful when reaching your goals. In life we always like to have good things to look forward to, so feel free to reward yourself when you reach your goals. There are many healthy ways you can reward yourself. You can reward yourself with food, like a celebratory dinner, or a favorite dessert. You can also reward yourself by going shopping and buying yourself a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Activities like fun outings, a movie or spa night, can also be great ways to reward yourself for achieving something.
 
goal-chart-printable

Create a Goal Workspace

It can also help to have a place where you write all these things down. Some even find it helpful to hang up your planned goals where you can see them every day. It can also help to place your plans in the most relevant place. For example, if your goal is about losing weight it would make sense to keep your goal chart in the kitchen, or near your treadmill. If your goal is about work then you’ll want to keep your goal chart in your workspace.

  • Put your goals on a calendar. With a calendar you can easily outline the dates of your plan.
  • Put your goals on a template, or chart. With a chart you can keep track of your progress levels and check off items once you’ve finished sub-goals.
  • Use an app. There are countless apps out there to help you track your habits and reach your aspirations. Here are some of the best goal setting apps:

Daylio is a great app for journaling and tracking your moods. It is also one of the most customizable apps, and allows you to track anything you want. It has a pleasing design, icons, and color palettes.
Loop is another great app for tracking. With Loop you can easily see all your goals and their progress in one place.
ATracker has some nice calendar and task features.
TickTick is a great goal app for groups or partners. You can sync and share tasks and goals with other people. There’s also a function to help you focus on certain tasks.
 
In some ways, goals are how we live our lives. It’s how we make decisions and enact change. Knowing how to properly set goals can help you level up in your personal and professional life. As Les Brown once said, “Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.”


READ MORE
Learn more about setting goals by reading, “How to Set Goals the Easy Way.”
 
Read more about SMART goals and how this acronym applies to your personal life by reading, “Personal Goal Setting: Planning to Live Your Life Your Way.”

Amazon Deals of the Day!

We love to shop, but more than shopping, we love event shopping. That’s why things like Black Friday Sales are so popular because it makes shopping into a tradition, an event where you come away with gifts you picked and some bonding time with your shopping buddies.

With Amazon’s Daily Deals you can have a shopping event any day of the week, and you don’t have to wait for a printed catalogue in the mail to enjoy it. Instead you can just take a look at their daily deals online at any time.
 
Below are some of our top picks from today’s Amazon deals. The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

Cuisinart Pots and Pans

cuisinart pot

Current Sale Price: $69.99
Originially: $129.99
You Save: $60.00! (46% off)

These pots and pans are unique because they are oven safe up to 500°F! So not only can you use these pots and pans on your stovetop, but you can use them to bake inside your stove as well, making this product exactly what the efficient chef needs in their kitchen.

Back to School Supplies

notebook

Current Sale Price: $5.96 to $10.95
You Save: up to 40% off!

These planners have everything you could need to organize your year. It has a sturdy cover, monthly tabs, a bookmark that clips easily into the spiral binding, organization sticky notes and stickers, and even a storage pocket!

OtterBox Phone Cases

otterbox

Current Sale Price: $15.99 to $34.99
You Save: up to 60% off!

OtterBox has a series of different phone case types for anyone. There is the lighter Commuter Series for taking your phone easily on the go, and the Defender Series for phone users wanting extra protection.

Savage X Fenty Bras, Bralettes, and Undies

bralette

Current Sale Price: $17.50 to $39.20
You Save: up to 30% off!

Ring Alarm 8 Piece Kit with a FREE Echo Dot!

echo dot set

Current Sale Price: $169.00
Originially: $239.00
You Save: $70.00! (29% off)

This set comes with a Base Station that connects your alarm system to your mobile devices, 2 Keypads that you can use to arm and disarm your alarm system, 8 Contact Sensors that will alert your mobile devices when doors or windows are opened, 2 Motion Detectors that will alert you when they detect movement, and a Range Extender that allows your Base Station’s signal to reach all alarm components.
 
Sometimes deals and sales are the way that we get things we really need. You may especially depend on sales when you’re in college, or just starting out on your own, or in a new place. So when you find something you really need on sale, and payday is just a couple days too late, that can be really frustrating. Luckily Check City can help you out with a quick and easy Payday Loan so that you can take advantage of important deals regardless of when your payday comes.
 
Share with us what deals you snagged today by using the hashtag #amazondailydeals

How Much Do Teachers Make?

New Article Series: How Much Do Professions Pay?

Check City would like to officially introduce its new article series about how much different professions pay. Understanding the median salaries for a profession is a very important thing to know, whether you are looking for a new job, or looking to choose a career. In fact, between 10,000 and 100,000 people have searched online for the answer to how much teachers make. Well, search no longer! With our new article series about professional pay you can get all the answers you need to make informed decisions as a student and future employee.

Teachers have a lot of influence over their students. Teachers help their students learn social skills, and figure out what they want to be when they grow up. They have the ability to forever change the course of a student’s life. Teachers help us grow as people, realize our passions, and teach us how to fully pursue those passions and contribute to a healthier and happier community. Students spend about 13,000 hours each year at school with their teachers. Needless to say, the teaching profession is an important aspect of our society.

How to Become a Teacher

Once you decide you want to become a teacher you may want to consider what type of teaching you want to go into. You can teach different subjects and at different grade levels. Primary education is the first level of education done by elementary school teachers. Secondary education refers to middle school and high school. Higher education is typically how we refer to any level of education done after the high school level, like college. As with all professional careers today there is a process that prospective teachers must go through in order to be qualified and subsequently hired by an employer. This process to becoming a teacher includes an education specific to your field, certifications, and classroom experience.

First,

You’ll want to get a bachelor’s degree.
Elementary teachers often major in education or child psychology. Middle and High School teachers tend to major in whatever subject they wish to teach while taking teacher preparation courses alongside that. College professors must also go to graduate school to complete a master’s degree. Depending on the university and the area of study you would like to teach you may also need to get a doctoral degree.

Second,

You will get certified and licensed to teach in your state.

Third,

In order to complete your certification, you will have to spend a certain number of hours in the classroom under the instruction of an established teacher, and take a certification test. You can think of this part of the process like an internship that is required for your teacher certification.

As a prospective college professor your university may have their own requirements to enable you to teach. You may need to work a number of years as an associate professor first or meet certain publishing requirements.

What Teachers Do

The tasks of a teacher are going to vary by grade level, subject matter, and school district or university. But in general teachers in the primary and secondary education levels (elementary through high school) will do the following:

  • Create lesson plans
  • Teach core subject materials
  • Teach social and group skills, and other proper behavior
  • Enforce classroom rules
  • Evaluate their student’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach to the entire class, in smaller groups, and one-on-one
  • Grade assignments, essays, tests, and quizzes
  • Communicate with parents and guardians about the student’s behaviors, grades, accomplishments, and struggles
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Supervise during lunchtime or recess

Some of these tasks are exclusive to teachers in the primary and secondary grade levels, while professors teaching in higher education (college level) may not have some of these same duties. Professors do however have the following duties:

  • Create a syllabus and semester lesson plan
  • Give lectures, discussions, and demonstrations
  • Grade student assignments and tests
  • Record grades
  • Fulfill university requirements for professors like publishing papers every so often

What Determines Pay

Generally most jobs are going to vary in salary depending on things like what state you work in, your specific employer, how much experience you have in the field, and how much education you have. But sometimes a career will have its own variables that go into determining salary, and factors that weigh more heavily on that decision than others. For teachers, the following variables play into determining salary:

  • The state and region you work in. Every school district is going to be different.
  • What type of school you work in. A private school, a public school, and a charter school are all going to pay differently.
  • The years of teaching experience you have.
  • Your level of education.
  • If you specialize in a certain area.

How Much Do Teachers Make:

There has been a lot of turmoil in the news lately about teachers’ salaries and whether teachers are being paid fairly. Teachers have been a part of several protests in the recent past, asking for better wages and more funding for their schools. During these protests some teachers have even gone on strike and stopped teaching to try and get their voices heard. This aspect of the teacher strikes has been a particular point of controversy since teachers aren’t just seen as employees. The role of a teacher is culturally held aloft as more of a noble pursuit than as the means to someone’s livelihood, making it difficult for teachers to talk about wages without judgement.

Kindergarden and Elementary School Teachers Make:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that kindergarten and elementary school teachers make a median salary of $57,980 a year with a job growth rate of 7 percent.

Middle School Teachers Make:

Middle school teachers make a median salary of $58,600 a year with a job growth rate of 8% which is a bit closer to average growth rates.

High School Teachers Make:

High school teachers make a median salary of $60,320 a year and also have a job growth rate of 8%, which the BLS calls “as fast as average.”

Substitute Teachers Make:

Kids may miss a school day here and there, but class will still go on even if a teacher needs to miss a day. That’s why there are substitute teachers that can fill in or regular teachers when they aren’t available. They usually make a mean annual wage of $31,510 at $15.15 an hour.

Private vs Public School Teachers:

Believe it or not Private school teachers actually make less than public school teachers generally do. Obviously this is going to depend on the school because some public school district areas do better or worse than others, while some private schools are more expensive than others. But on average, public school teachers make $50,000 a year while private school teachers only make $36,000 a year.

Side Hustles for Teachers

Being a teacher also includes a number of side hustles that can provide some extra income to teachers.

  • Tutoring
  • Summer camp or summer school
  • Selling worksheets, lesson plans, and other classroom materials
  • Creating curriculum for publishers
  • Proctoring exams
  • Teaching adults

Whatever your profession might be, there are always ways for you to make a little extra income to cover all your expenses. Teachers aren’t the only ones who struggle to make ends meet each month. Many people get hit with emergency expenses that can also make hurt your monthly budget. When you have a bad month financially, you can depend on the Check City Personal Loan to see you through it and get you quickly back on your feet again.

So What’s the Problem?

The short reason you’ve been hearing so much lately about teachers struggles and issues with teachers’ salaries is because the issue goes beyond their income. The problem isn’t so much that teachers need a higher wage, but that their classrooms and their students need more funding. In order to adequately provide for their students and to facilitate their success, learning, and care, teachers often end up using their own money in order to do their job well. So in this sense the issue may not be that teachers pay is too much or too little, but rather that the situation is unfair. Most full-time jobs are required to provide their employees with whatever they need to do their job successfully, and this is where teachers have been struggling the most to keep up financially.

Teacher’s Need More Funding

There are a lot of important things that go into successful learning for children and adolescence. They spend the majority of their day at school and nee to be adequately fed in order to focus throughout the long school day. They also need a number of materials in order to actively learn, practice, and take notes. Teachers also need materials and resources to teach their subjects in the best way possible for each child. Providing food, notebooks, and pencils to kids and teens from low-income families are just some of the many personal expenses being left on the shoulders of teachers alone.

Teachers should be able to have the funding and resources necessary to have a successful classroom. Some school districts and states are doing better than others at funding their schools and providing their teachers with a decent salary for their area and hopefully the number of school districts doing well by their teachers and their students will continue to grow. The teaching profession is a unique opportunity to mentor and mold the coming generations and by so doing, help build us all a better world.


READ MORE
Take a look at Education Week’s article “Which States Have the Highest and Lowest Teacher Salaries?” to see what teachers are making in each state.


Learn about the history of the teaching profession on PBS.org.


Read Hunger in Our Schools to see the data on kids going hungry in schools today.


Visit the Bureau of Labor and Statistics site to see their survey about teacher’s salaries.


FEATURE IMAGE BY NEONBRAND
OTHER IMAGES BY PAN XIAOZHEN

How to Stay Debt Free through Grad School

grad-school-debt


You want a bachelor’s degree because a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. It used to be that you could get into most well-paying jobs by just having a high school diploma. But today this is not the case. For many jobs having a bachelor’s degree has become the new minimum educational requirement for employers who are hiring.

You want to go to grad school because a bachelor’s degree is no longer sufficient enough to set you apart from the rest of an employer’s hiring candidates. As educational requirements for jobs have risen, so has the average number of people who get bachelor’s degrees. The United States Census Bureau found that last year 48,235 of Americans 25 years and older had bachelor’s degrees.

There are so many people getting higher levels of education now that it can be difficult to stand out from the competition. But you can stand out from the 48,235 others by going to grad school on top of your bachelor’s degree.

While getting an advanced degree can pay big dividends in the end, there are some serious up-front costs, including tuition and living expenses. Below are 5 ways that you can be smart about this life investment and avoid going into serious debt:

Make a Strict Budget

You may have been able to get away with a few impulse purchases when you were out of school and had a decent job, but that won’t get you far in grad school. You need to stick to a strict budget if you are hoping to make it out with minimal debt. Everything from the groceries you buy to the gas you use should be accounted for so you know exactly where your money is going.

Make an Emergency Fund

Throughout all of your life it is always wise to have a healthy emergency fund tucked away. Life often happens unexpectedly and when it does you want to be prepared so you don’t get stuck in a financial emergency as well. It is advised that you put away enough money to cover the next three months. You can follow the equation below to help you calculate how much your ideal emergency fund should be:


emergency-fund


Having an emergency fund prepared is an important thing to always have in your budget. But if you are going through grad school there’s a chance you won’t be getting a regular income, or in the very least, as much income as you would be if you weren’t busy with school. Because of this you are more financially vulnerable while you are in school, so having a safety net in your budget is even more important while in grad school.

You can start saving for your emergency fund today by budgeting to set aside a set amount each month. When saving up for grad school, don’t forget to save enough for a decent emergency fund too.

Get into a Niche Program

Because so many people are going into popular fields like sociology or law, you won’t find as much funding there and there will be intense competition to secure the funding that is available. Once you graduate from a popular, more generalized program, you’ll also be faced with steeper competition in the job market. That is why it is important to find a program that is specialized enough so you can leverage your expertise to your advantage once you start interviewing for jobs. You’ll also be much more likely to secure funding in a specialized field. You will be one of the few students in your specialized program, and you may find that there are more scholarships and fellowships available in that department simply because of the limited number of students.

What is a niche?

For our literary people a niche is a genre within a genre. A niche program would describe a specialized program. So instead of going into accounting you go into a specific area of accounting like forensic accounting. Every field of study has these kinds of sub-fields, often called specializations, that you can go into.

Look at the Return on Investment (ROI)

Sure, you may want to run off to some big-name school because it sounds good on paper, but what if it doesn’t pay off in the end? Not all grad schools are created equal, and there are vast differences in prestige among programs even within individual universities.

What is ROI?

The term ROI stands for Return on Investment. Your return on an investment is how much profit you gain from an investment you’ve made. Going to grad school is an investment not only on your pocket but on your time. Calculating the ROI will help you calculate the overall benefits versus the overall costs of each school and program. A good ROI would mean that in the end you profited from that investment choice. A bad ROI would mean that you instead lost money in the end because of that investment. You can determine what your ROI for grad school will be by following the equation below:


return-on-investment


You should look at your graduate education as an investment. Don’t go into this investment without crunching the numbers. You will want to know the salary you can expect to get after graduation, because this will be the primary return on your grad school investment. You’ll also want to know whether getting an advanced degree in your field is necessary, or whether it will make a difference in the salary and positions you can attain. Then you’ll want to ask yourself if the price of attending grad school justifies the expected bump in earnings. Ask yourself these questions and more to determine whether grad school will bring you a positive return on investment. This makes it much easier to find a school that will match your financial needs and whether you even need to go to grad school.

Get Assistantships, Fellowships, and Scholarships

If you are looking to get great experience while helping pay for school, then getting an assistantship could be for you. An assistantship is a program funded by your department to do research, teaching, or another hands-on task. You basically become a university employee and in return they offer you tuition assistance as well as a basic monthly stipend. These positions can also be much more flexible than regular jobs since they are run by the school and are typically on-campus.

Assistantship vs Fellowships and Scholarships

Fellowships and scholarships are awards given to grad students based on their merit and their meeting certain requirements. These awards are funding that goes directly to their graduate studies. One common requirement for scholarships and fellowships is to maintain certain grade levels.

Assistantships are not based on merit, but rather are positions or jobs where you can get hired to do certain assistant work on campus, usually in your area of study. In this way an assistantship is similar to an internship, it provides experience, learning, and funding, but with an assistantship the funding you receive generally goes straight toward your graduate studies. Also, internships are not always paid, and are available to part-time students, while an assistantship sometimes is only offered to full-time students. You will have to talk to your university advisor, or research on your university’s website to check the specific assistantship requirements and options for your school.

Overall

Before you set out to obtain that advanced degree, make sure you have a plan for funding it. There are millions of students out there who wind up in serious debt because they didn’t plan things out before attending a grad school program. Look over these tips and start applying them when you get into grad school. You will be glad you did when you still have cash in your pocket come graduation day!


FEATURE IMAGE BY VASILY KOLODA

How to Make Chores Fun for Kids!

kids-chores-fun

Too often chores for kids turn into a power struggle between parent and child. The parent has to constantly nag about chores while the child rebels against doing them, creating tension in the home.

This cycle of nagging and frustration surrounding chores isn’t healthy for anyone—parent or child. If everyone is left with a bad attitude, what have you really accomplished, even if the chore is done?

But not having your kids do chores isn’t a good option either. Chores help kids learn basic life skills and work ethic necessary to be functioning adults. Succeeding and failing at household chores is one of the first ways kids can grow their skills and confidence in their own abilities. So figuring out the key to making chores effective is actually bigger than simply keeping your house clean.

Chores Benefit Kids

For some parents having your kids do chores seems like a no brainer. But other parents may need some convincing. Kids can sometimes give such a hard time doing chores that it might not seem worth arguing. Kids also might not do the job very well and this can also lead parents to just want to do things themselves.

Parents aren’t just better at daily cleaning they’re usually faster and more efficient too. Other parents might not want to demand too much of their child and want their kid to just have fun and be a kid rather than having the responsibility of chores.

But for all these reasons there is a counter reason for why having your kids do chores is not only beneficial to you, but to your child as well. If you don’t have the patience or you don’t allow them to do chores than you are letting your kids miss out on a lot of benefits for themselves and their futures.

For children, everything is a learning experience and that includes chores. There are many things parents do to aid in the development of their children, like talking to them even when they can’t talk back, let alone understand you. Parent’s hold their child’s hands to help them walk even though the parent is really doing all the work. Parents must remember that doing chores is also teaching your children to do regular human tasks, just like you need to teach them to walk and to talk.

Chores are all about helping children eventually become self-sufficient. They need to walk on their own someday so we help them walk while they’re young and unable to do it well. They need to communicate by themselves someday so we talk to them and teach them words even when they still can’t understand us.

They also need to know how to take care of themselves and their living space otherwise this will be an area of struggle in their independent lives as adults. In fact, Professor Marty Rossmann, from the University of Minnesota, did a study where she found that if kids started doing household chores at around 3 to 4 years old, they were more likely to be successful adults when they reached their mid-20s.
Exterior Benefits
Exterior benefits are going to be the most obvious ones. The house will be cleaner which will be more enjoyable for everyone, and the workload won’t be all on the parents. By having your kids help out in any way, you reduce your own workload and your house will be cleaner with less effort on your part!
Interior Benefits
Having your kids do chores actually benefits them more than it benefits you. Below is a list of the many reasons why household chores are beneficial for the inner growth and development of your child.

Builds Life Skills

Doing chores and the family perspective behind doing them have a greater impact on a child’s success in life than parenting style, IQ, gender, or the type of task. The skills they gain from chores go far beyond the household, or their time living at home. These skills transfer to many more aspects of their life and will be the skills they use to have success in all aspect of adulthood.

Builds Confidence

A child begins to create their own mental image of themselves at home. Chores build a child’s confidence and positive self-image in many ways: By doing chores they learn they can be productive, successful, and accomplish tasks set before them. They learn that they can become competent at the things they work on and that they can contribute in meaningful ways as a valued member of a team (their family).

It also teaches them that they can have a level of control over maintaining their own environment. All of these things boost a growing person’s confidence, leading them to lead more confident and successful lives in the future.

Another way that chores build confidence in kids is through their failures. When kids are first learning to do chores they often fail. The first time a kid sweeps the floor they may miss a lot, or the way they fold clothes might not be as tidy if you just did it.

But if you see their failure and just do it for them, then you’ll teach them that they are failures who are so far from succeeding that they shouldn’t even try and someone more competent, like yourself, should just do it for them.

This is key for parents to remember because chores are not just so kids can help out around the house and alleviate the parent’s workload. Chores are also an integral part in a young person’s development and therefore has a learning curve.

Helps Them Practice Self-Care

kids-self-care
Caring for the space you live in is a big part of caring for yourself. Chores provide some key habits that help people maintain their mental and emotional health as well as outward hygiene. Living in a clean and organized environment is an important element in a person’s mental well-being, and by having your kids do chores you give them the power and know-how to create that healthy space for themselves.
Cleaning Their Own Room
Many children and teenagers struggle with keeping their own room clean. Since it’s their own space you may think it’s not a battle worth waging, but many times in life we end up sharing our personal space with others, like roommates, friends that come over, or a future partner.

Maintaining your own room is also part of personal grooming and hygiene. If you teach your kids now to keep their stuff together then other aspects of their life will be more put together as well.

A messy room also creates a stifling atmosphere. A lot of the angst you may be dealing with from your child may partly be because their personal space is messy. Cleaning their own room helps kids learn how to better take care of themselves.

Teaches Self-Motivation and Responsibility

If you persist, and start at a young age, you can teach your kids to eventually be self-motivated about getting their own chores done. You can also teach kids responsibility, a quality that will serve them well in all other parts of their lives. Giving them the chores also helps them practice being responsible for something. Being responsible and self-motivated are necessary traits for success later in life in their education and their jobs.

Social skills

Chores teach the value of working and cooperating with others. Not only do you learn to work well with others while doing chores, but you learn how to better communicate with others as well. They have to communicate when they need help or when they don’t know what to do next. You can also take the opportunity while cleaning together to just chat and enjoy some one-on-one time together.
fail-family-endure

It’s Ok to Fail

Chores offer a unique opportunity for kids to safely fail and try again at something. Much of life consists of trying, failing, and trying again, and chores are a great way to give kids this practice in a safe environment. With chores they can learn what it means to try again and again at something until they finally succeed.

Setting Up Your Family’s Chore System

There are many ways to set up a chore system. There are also thousands of chore chart templates and ideas online that you can work from. You can find all kinds of free chore charts online, and even free printable chore charts. Having special chore charts for kids can also make doing chores seem more like a fun game than a responsibility. There are point systems, reward systems, and chore assignments that rotate every week or every month.

Figuring out what works best with your family is probably going to include plenty of trial and error. Here are some suggestions that could help turn chores for kids into a bonding experience for you and your children and make managing chore assignments easier.

Cultivate the Right Perspective

Part of cultivating the right perspective around chores is not overwhelming them, letting them make choices, and not using chores as a form of punishment. Household tasks are a necessary part of everyday life, like eating and sleeping. They should be treated as a routine part of life for everyone and not as an extra burden being forced upon them.

Don’t Overwhelm Them

No one likes doing things they don’t feel capable of doing. As an adult it may be hard to understand, but for children something like cleaning their entire bedroom by themselves can seem like an impossibly giant task. A common problem between kids and their chores is getting them to do their chores in the first place. Getting overwhelmed and burnt out by the task is the primary thing keeping them from taking initiative with their chores.

A child’s workload is going to look different than an adult’s workload. Likewise, their workload is going to look different depending on their age. You might be able to easily spend an hour or two cleaning and organizing, but for a child that feels like a whole day and they become burnt out in the same way adults working overtime might feel burnt out. They have smaller bodies and their brains are still developing to withstand the mental fortitude needed to work and focus for that amount of time.

Try dividing the job up into smaller, defined tasks
If you just tell your child to clean their room they might more easily become overwhelmed and lose focus, leaving the job uncompleted. But if you divide the task of cleaning their room into smaller chunks they can more easily know how to tackle that job on their own. So instead of asking them to clean their room, have them go through a checklist of smaller tasks like,

  1. fold and put clothes away
  2. put toys in the toy bin
  3. make the bed

This may seem tedious to some adults but you have to remember the level of development you are working with. Children aren’t adults in smaller form, they are still growing in mental maturity and capacity and this fact carries over into their ability to do chores.

Think of it this way: in school you weren’t just told to write a 20 page paper. First you learned the alphabet, then you learned words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then you wrote a page, and from there you kept working up to writing larger and larger page assignments. Kids need this same principle of education in learning how to clean as well.

Let Them Make Choices

Involve your kids in deciding what chores they do. Another thing that makes it difficult for kids to get their chores done is feeling like they have no choice in the matter. No one likes being forced to work. As an adult you probably do chores because, at some level, you want to—whether you’ve grown to enjoy the work or because you want the results of the work.

Giving kids a sense of choice in their chores helps them feel more motivated to do them. Involving them in choosing their chores also helps them practice making decisions and coordinating workloads with others.

Don’t Use Chores as a Punishment

One way to make your kids hate chores is to use them as a punishment for bad behaviors. If they associate helping out around the house with punishment, then you’re quite possibly setting them up to be a slob for life.

Start Younger Than You Think

When kids are as young as 18 months they often naturally start wanting to help out around the house. This may seem very young but you should let them.

You might be tempted to scoot them away when they express interest in helping with something, because obviously they aren’t going to be very good at it. But if you take the time to include your kids in chores at a very young age, then they’ll be much more likely to have a good attitude about helping around the house as they get older.

Age Appropriate Chore Lists

Along with starting younger than you think with chores, make sure you are giving your kids age appropriate chores. It can help to have a chore list that you can work from to let you know what chores are accessible to which age groups. Below is a list of age appropriate chores that become doable for each age group:
Toddlers

  • Put their toys and books away
  • Help wipe up spills
  • Let them “play clean” beside you as you clean

Young Children

  • Make bed
  • Clean room
  • Put their things away
  • Fold laundry
  • Set the table
  • Help cook simple things
  • Feed pets

Older children

  • Clean room
  • Do laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Sweep
  • Mop
  • Dust
  • Empty trash
  • Wash dishes
  • Clean the bathroom

Teenagers

  • Babysit
  • Yard work
  • Do laundry
Schedule Chore Time

Designate a specific block of time when everyone in the house pitches in. If chores are part of a routine, and siblings and parents are all involved, then your children will need less reminders and less nagging. They’ll also feel more like a contributing member of the family, which can develop into a good motivating factor.

One fun way of doing this is to make a music playlist for chore time. You can pick a time each day where you do chores, like after dinner, then turn on your playlist and everyone works until the playlist is done.

“Gamify” Chores

The term “gamification” refers to turning a mundane task into a game. Household chores offer an incredible opportunity for gamification, and you and your children’s creativity is the only limiting factor.

You could turn cleaning time into a dance party, or have a race to see who gets done first. Another classic gamification technique is to create a “sticker chart,” but instead of a regular calendar sticker chart, turn it into a board game where their stickers lead to a winning destination.

Rewards for Chores?

The purpose of rewards for doing chores should be to teach them that cleaning has natural benefits, not necessarily that doing regular housework will earn them money. For example, once the kitchen is clean they can have dessert or watch their favorite show, or maybe once their room is clean they can have friends over.

Another reason to reward your kids for doing chores is to acknowledge the work they’ve done. Children want approval and appreciation and after chores is as good a time as any to give it. Just like with criticism, you don’t only want to hear from your boss about what you did poorly, you also want to know what you are doing right. Your kids need to hear that too, after all, rewarding success is more effective than only disciplining failures.

For younger kids you can teach them stuff while they clean, like count the toys as you put them away, or say the color of the book and put it on the shelf with similar colors.

The Parenting Press advises parents to not give allowance for chores because in real life you don’t get paid in money to do regular household work. Children need to learn to maintain their living space for that sake alone.

Conclusion

Parents want chores to be a positive part of their child’s life. You want to instill the right perception, facilitate their development and growth, and make chores a bonding experience. Keeping a tidy home should be something that everyone participates in and everyone enjoys doing. So stop nagging, and use chores to help bring your family closer together.


READ MORE
Check out Jessica Lahey’s book, the Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So their Children Can Succeed, to read more about how chores and failure can help your child grow.


FEATURE IMAGE BY KELLY SIKKEMA
OTHER IMAGES BY CALUM LEWIS and PATRICIA PRUDENTE

7 Tips for Workplace Wellness

tips for workplace wellness
 
In order to take good care of your work you first have to take good care of yourself. Taking care of your well-being will not only help you in life, but it will help you in the office as well.

  1. Get Quality Sleep
  2. Fuel Your Body Effectively
  3. Exercise
  4. Prevent Eye Strain
  5. Decorate Your Desk
  6. Learn to Unwind
  7. Have Pursuits Outside of Work

Believe it or not, but even an office job can have its own hazards. You may not think about it but everything from vending machine food and sitting all day can cause serious health problems. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to combat these workplace hazards and increase office wellness. This can mainly be done by having a work-life balance. Everyone always seems to be talking about having a good work-life balance, but what does this balance really mean? Ultimately your wellness at work is about taking care of your physical and mental health.
 

Take Care of Your Body

physical well-being
 

Get QUALITY Sleep

Sleep is a factor that greatly affects your performance throughout the day as well as your physical and mental well-being. But it isn’t enough to just go to bed and hope for the best. You don’t just want enough sleep you want quality sleep. There are ways you can optimize your sleep so that you are getting the most out of your nights.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time

This will help your body to adjust to a regular schedule. Once your body is used to this schedule falling asleep each night and waking up each morning will become much easier. Set an alarm or reminder for when you need to start getting ready for bed to help you learn to wind down at the same time each night.

Stay hydrated

You actually get dehydrated as you sleep which can cause a dry and hoarse throat in the morning, leg cramps during the night, and an overall lack of quality sleep. You lose hydration in the night through breathing or a dry or warm environment in your bedroom. Another thing that can cause night dehydration is exercising late in the evening. To combat this issue, hydrate yourself well throughout the day, keep a water bottle on your nightstand, and keep your room temperature on the colder side with a humidifier turned on while you sleep.

Fuel Your Body EFFECTIVELY

Your body is like a complicated machine and in order to work at top performance levels and feel its very best your body needs fuel that it can work with. There are a lot of foods out there today that might be quick, easy, and immediately filling, but they won’t provide your insides with the proper nutrients to function at full capacity and eventually you’ll feel this as you feel more and more lethargic throughout the workday. You can fuel your body with a lot of things, but only certain nutrients will give you effective nourishment to give you optimal health and energy.

Eat wholesome meals

Make healthy meals at home and take healthy meals with you to work. Many of your coworkers might be going out to eat every day and though this might be fun in the short term it probably isn’t beneficial in the long term. Healthy homemade lunches will improve your physical wellness and improve your spending! You can also start bringing in healthier treats for your coworkers to help improve workplace wellness as a whole.

Eat wholesome snacks

If your stomach is growling for the majority of the day, you will likely crash before the end. Make sure you have the right nourishment going into your body and it will pay off. Even simple snacks can help keep you going between meals. Nuts, fruits, and cut up vegetables can really give you the energy you need to make it through the day.

Cut down on sugars

One of the biggest issues office workers fight on a typical workday is lethargy. Sugar intake can be one of the major contributing factors to your lethargy. Take note of the sugar content of what you are consuming in a regular day and you’ll see how prevalent this ingredient has become in a lot of our foods.

Then remember, while you pick your foods each day, that each gram of sugar adds to unpleasant feelings like bloating and tiredness. Make sure you take these tips to heart in order to keep your body happy and healthy throughout the workday and throughout your life. You will be grateful when you still have energy after retirement!

Stay hydrated

You would be shocked to know how much staying hydrated can improve your workplace wellness. There is nothing more important than drinking enough water throughout the day. It doesn’t matter whether it is summer or winter, your body is made up mostly of water and you need to continually replenish it. Don’t wait till you are thirsty to start drinking. It is much better to have a set amount that you plan on drinking throughout the day.

In general it is advised that you drink 8 glasses of water a day. It can help to have a designated water bottle that you keep with you throughout the day to drink from. If you have trouble getting yourself to drink enough water each day try drinking with a reusable straw. This can make drinking enough liquids faster and easier. Another thing you can do is put things in your water to make drinking water more fun! You can add cut up fruits and vegetables, mint leaves, and many other things to your water to make staying hydrated healthy, tasty, and fun.

Exercise

Exercise may seem like a dauntingly intense habit to get into, but it’s actually one of the easiest ways to boost your well-being because any amount of it will help. Even if you only go out of your way to exercise 20 minutes on weekdays, that’s still better than no exercise at all.

The average person is advised to get 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity into each week. This averages out to be around 30 minutes a day. Thirty minutes really isn’t asking too much of your time and there are a million ways you can get this 30 minutes of physical activity into your day without having to do crazy intense workout sessions at the gym. You can simply go on a walk, plan a hike for the weekend, go swimming, biking, or take a physical class like dancing or yoga.

Put Exercise on the Agenda

You can implement a routine of exercise into your day before or after work. Getting yourself to exercise will be easier if you schedule it into a specific time of day. In fact, a study found that working out at the same time each day made exercise more effective.

Work Out at Work!

You can also find ways to grab some exercise while you’re at work! There are hundreds of exercises you can do at your desk. Everything from simple stretches to replacing your chair with a stability ball can greatly improve your health.

Whatever you choose to do, change things up and get your body moving as much as possible. By the end of the day when most of your coworkers are crying about sore backs and tired limbs, you will be ready to keep going with your day.

Office Friendly Exercises

  • Practice good posture
  • Leg raises
  • Chair dips
  • Use weights at your desk
  • Ab workouts with your swivel chair, or stability ball
  • Lean on your desk to do planks or pushups
  • Use a standing desk
  • Go for a walk around the building
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Prevent Eye Strain

If you work in an office chances are you also get a lot of screen time at work. Staring at screens all day can put a strain on your eyes and even cause headaches and nausea after a while. But you can help prevent eye strain by getting a blue light filter on your screen, or blue light filter glasses to wear at work. It is also a good idea to take a break or two from your screen while at work to give your eyes a rest.
 

Take Care of Your Mind

mental well-being
 

Decorate Your Desk

Decorating your desk will make you happier, and liven up your workspace. You can get plants, you can set up some photos, you can decorate with cool looking bulletins and white boards, or splurge on a special mug or thermos just for your desk.

Learn to Unwind

You don’t have to pay for an expensive spa to still have your own personal spa day. There are endless things you can do to unwind and everyone relaxes in different ways. For some people relaxing may include hanging out with friends and going out. For others, relaxing may mean staying home, taking a warm bath, watching TV, or reading a good book. In order to learn how to unwind you need to learn more about yourself and what relaxation techniques work best for you.

  • Learn about mediation
  • Keep a journal
  • go outdoors
  • listen to music
  • have a spa night
  • read a book

Have Pursuits Outside of Work

It will give you a special sense of accomplishment to have your own personal pursuits outside of your job. And if you need help with funds to make your club or go on a weekend getaway you can use a Check City Personal Loan!

  • Volunteer
  • Join a book club
  • Start your own group or club
  • Join a recreational or intermediate sports team
  • Make personal goals
  • Plan vacations and getaways
  • Take a class

Having workplace wellness is all about having a work-life balance. Having a work-life balance is all about taking care of both your body and mind. If you remember these key principles of taking good care of yourself than not only will your life and health improve, but you will actually become more successful and productive at work as well!


READ MORE
Read “Workplace Wellness” from Mental Health America (MHA) to learn more ways you can improve the overall well-being of your employees.

Read an NPR report about how effective wellness programs are in the article, “How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?

Read an article from Corporate Wellness Magazine called, “What is Workplace Wellness Really? “ to learn more about what workplace wellness means.

For more tips about workplace wellness, see our article, “How to Stay Healthy at Work.”

4 Easy Ways to Give Your Kids Help With Homework

monday
Lately it seems like we start receiving “parent” homework before the school year even gets properly underway. There’s the little packet of “to dos” handed out at registration. Then another packet of “Spotlight your Child” activities handed out at the teacher Meet ‘n Greet. And if you’re adventurous enough to attend Back to School night, you can bet you’ll pick up another packet of parent homework there too!

Then the school year really kicks off. Sometimes it can feel like we’re drowning in the very schedules we prayed for all summer long. While you’re scrambling to catch up on all the little craft assignments you couldn’t get around to before the first day, the real homework starts rolling in. All of a sudden you’re knee deep in giving help with homework from book reports to science projects, math problems and last minute “Mom! It’s my turn to be spotlighted in my class and I don’t have a cool poster yet!” activities.

Great, only two weeks in and we have a homework situation! Cue the obligatory bout of stinging “parent fail” self-deprecation.

At this point, it can be tempting to jump on Pinterest and see what other parents are doing to maintain the apparently well-oiled machinery of their school routines. But then, if you’re like most people, you’ll just get distracted by some homemade Halloween pumpkin character that would require degrees in engineering, graphic art and interior design to actually produce.

And now the time you’ve spent trying to find ideas for help with homework has actually left you with even less time to spend doing it. And that little homework “situation” has slowly escalated to more of a full scale cataclysm, complete with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth (mostly yours)!

So how does one climb that mountain of academic tasks and remain on top of it all year long? Well, obviously Pinterest is not a great place to start when you’re already trying to dig your way out of an academic avalanche. Tips are better. So here are some helpful tips for staying on top of homework, no matter how many little people you have contributing to the pile.

1. Homework serves an important purpose. No, really!

Try to keep in mind that the true purpose of homework is first and foremost an opportunity for your child to learn specific skills or information. Most of the time they can do this alone. However, that learning can be enhanced to a level of mastery providing the environment is favorable to it. This means that it is your job as a parent to facilitate this learning, not to do the learning for them. Offering your child help with homework doesn’t really help them if you do it all for them.

Although it is important to help your children complete their homework correctly, it is also important to help them take the lead. Pull the pins out of those incredible Pinterest feats; they make it too tempting to hijack the task, which really defeats the purpose of homework. Step away from the blue prints, hand your child the glue gun (or the Elmer’s glue!) and give them full creative license. Your job here is to encourage (and maybe stifle a cringe or two).

2. Get to know the teacher

Depending on how you look at it, what is required on any given homework assignment can range from pretty basic to “you’re the parent other parents love to hate” over the top! Rather than risk missing the mark, ask the teacher what they actually expect.

Make it a point to attend back to school night and every parent teacher conference, so you can ask them directly what is expected for your child’s homework. Also, ask how involved you should be. This will help you to toe the line between helping your children be successful, doing their homework for them and, let’s face it, running the risk of having other children in the class feel like underachievers!

3. Help your child to set up a homework schedule

The idea here is to keep track of what homework is due, and when. Try to avoid doing this yourself. It’s better to help your child figure out how to do it without depending on you. Help your child to create a homework plan. This is a great opportunity to teach them about time management and realistic deadlines. Then help them to stick to it.

Creating a plan with your child’s help will make them feel involved and invested in the process. It also helps them take responsibility for completing tasks on time. This means they will be much more likely to stick to the plan, and since they work with their teacher directly, they will probably have a better understanding of the expectations.

4. Keep your involvement age appropriate

It should go without saying but, remember to work with your children at a level that recognizes their abilities and limitations. Younger children need more help performing their homework tasks, while older children might just need help staying on task!

A good homework schedule should include the following things:

  • Specific Timeframes for Each Task. By being as specific as possible, and keeping expectations age appropriate, you will help your child to stay on task.
  • Consequences for Positive and Negative Behavior. Try to enforce the idea that a homework task must be finished before your child can enjoy a reward such as play or TV. Other little rewards (like snacks) can also encourage them to stay on task until their homework is complete.
  • Plenty of Time to Complete Assigned Work. Overwhelming your child with too much work in too little time will not help them. Be patient and give them the time they need to successfully complete their projects.
  • Breaks. Watch your child for signs of frustration, boredom or fatigue and give them a break. Remember, they spend all day in school and need time to decompress.
  • Physical Activity: Use breaks to do something physical like jumping jacks or jump rope. It’s a great opportunity to get blood flowing and use up some energy. It’s also a healthy alternative to screens and devices, and will get them back to the homework task faster, and in a less distracted state.

Homework is an important part of success at school, but it can also create stress and anxiety in the home, for both parents and students. Follow these tips to minimize that stress and help your child become much more successful at home and in the classroom.

Great Educational Activities for Kids Beyond the Classroom

monday
Teachers have a difficult job; I’d dare say one of the most challenging and underpaid professions out there. So why do they teach? Because it is so rewarding to see children learn and grasp new concepts.

You can experience this amazement with your child, too. Learning is not restricted to the classroom!
Children who experience education activities beyond the limits of their classrooms will be much more successful in life. They will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the world in which they live.

Here are some great educational activities for kids to get involved in your child’s education at home.

Visits to Your Local Library

Your city library has a wealth of information for FREE! You and your child can discover a new favorite book together or listen to a book on CD at home. Libraries also feature movies and music you can check out as well.
Many libraries offer free, family or age-based educational activities, like parent and child reading groups. In some areas, your library may even provide free preschool or tutoring.

Check with your local library for classes, events, and activities.

Experience Different Cultures

There are so many ways to show your child a different view of the world. Educational activities like concerts, museums, historical sites, national parks, etc. will be exciting and memorable for not only your kids but for the whole family.
Some of these experiences may require a little money and planning, but you’d be surprised at how much you and your family can do for free.

Take advantage of free community activities, like a concert in the park or a science demonstration at the museum.
Look at your city and neighboring cities’ websites for listings of community activities and entertainment. Another good source is local high schools and colleges, who put on plays and concerts that are less expensive than a real Broadway play.
Is there a special cultural event happening? A free art exhibit? A seasonal, low cost event?

Exposing your child to different cultures, places, people, and experiences will provide a much greater learning experience and may even spark your child’s interest in a new hobby or dream.
Who knows, one trip to the museum might create a future archeologist!

Life’s Everyday Moments

Kids are notorious for always asking “why.” Take the time to answer their questions and introduce new ones. Even simple, everyday chores and non-educational activities can be a source of learning!
Cooking as a family can prompt conversations on math, health and physical fitness. During a ride in the car, start a conversation about science and technology. There is always a way to connect an everyday task to a learning concept, and if you can connect it to something your child is interested in, they will be all ears.

Taking small opportunities to encourage your children to talk about educational topics will eventually lead them to inquire about the world themselves.

Technology

It can be hard to avoid the onslaught of technology, but you don’t need to completely hide from it either. Our children need computer skills, such as how to use the internet safely and effectively. Technology and media will be a big part of their world, but you can make sure it is something they are comfortable with and knowledgeable about.
When possible, work with your child to teach them these skills. Monitor what they watch and how much time they spend engaging in media.

By viewing educational videos or playing learning games together, you can teach them about good media habits and appropriate content.

Our children have the world, quite literally, at their fingertips. They can search any question they have and find thousands of answers in written data, charts, videos, etc. It is pretty amazing and a great learning tool if used properly.
Have some educational activities for kids of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

6 After School Activities to Keep Your Children Interested in Learning

monday
Learning should never stop, even when school is out—it should even extend beyond homework. But sometimes kids get burnt out on school, and all they want to do is play. Play time is important, too and it presents a wonderful opportunity.

To help your kids continue learning throughout the day, and even on the weekends, here are 6 cool activities that deceptively combine play with education.

Have your kids write a play, then act it out

Children’s minds are constantly brimming with creativity just waiting to be tapped. If you encourage your kids to come up with a play, and promise that you’ll all act it out together (that’s right, you should be acting it out, too), you’ll be surprised at the wonderful stories they can come up with.

A fun science experiment with cabbage

All you’ll need is a head of cabbage, some food coloring, water and some jars to illustrate how plants absorb water. Fill some jars with water and food dye, stick a leaf of cabbage in each jar, and before long the cabbage will absorb the dye and transform into new colors!

Decorate non-perishable food items to donate

One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is the importance of charity and giving. Turn it into a fun activity by having your kids decorate cans of food and other non-perishables. Then go on a road trip to your local food bank. Don’t forget to explain how their act of charity is helping feed people who are in need.

Salt art

It’s easy for children to get excited about art, especially if it involves a new medium. Here’s a cool idea: get some colorful construction paper and spread salt across it. Have your children “paint” images or words in the salt—the colored paper beneath it creates a cool effect.

Play a game of “sink or float”

Teach your children about buoyancy with a simple game of “sink or float.” Basically, you get regular household items, have your kids guess whether the items would sink or float, and then toss them (the objects, not your kids) in a tub of water. This is a very basic form of the scientific method—your kids come up with a hypothesis, and then they get to test it out and determine if they were right.

For extra credit, have your kids combine two things and see whether they “sink or float.”

Make paper plate birds that actually fly

Cut a paper plate in half, and then tape a plastic spoon to it, with the ladle of the spoon being the bird’s head. Color and decorate the bird (it could be a majestic eagle, or a colorful parrot), and then test it out—it should soar across the living room with ease.

Take one, or a few of these ideas, and get your children excited about learning at home! One of the best lessons you can give is that learning doesn’t only have to take place in a classroom—it can happen anywhere!

Getting Home for Christmas as a Student

Young students, away at school during the year, flock home in droves over the holiday season. These students (or their parents) often fork out good money to get their kids home on time. Don’t waste money on expensive, last-minute flights, gas money, or rescheduling of bookings. If you want to save yourself some money this year, remember the following pieces of advice as you plan your Christmas holiday.

Know your Schedule

Plan in advance. And don’t take gambles. These two simple principles can save you a lot of time, money, and headache. Do not book flights home until you are positive of your finals schedule. Universities post schedules months in advance, often available the first week of classes. Check with your professors to confirm finals schedules, as they often change throughout the semester.

Most colleges are very strict about their finals policies. “But I’m flying home that day!” is a completely unacceptable excuse when asking for a test-taking exception. Don’t bet on them letting you take a final early because of a pre-booked flight. They expect you to act responsibly and with foresight as a grown-up college student. Unplanned or selfish scheduling on your part will find no sympathy at universities.

Book Early

If you can, book your flight or train ticket as soon as possible. The earlier you book, the better deals you can get. If you book within a month of Christmas break, prices will skyrocket. Avoid that if you can. Changing your flight last minute will also cost an arm and a leg in fines and fees, so again, be sure of your finals schedule.

Car Pooling

If you live fairly close to home, try to find people to carpool home with. This is a great way to save money on gas, miles on your car (if you ride with someone else), and a much more enjoyable way to spend a long drive. Many universities offer carpool-organizing services that help students link up and arrange carpools home. Websites like zimride.com post schedules, contact info, and prices for rides that can be much cheaper than flying. There are also private Facebook pages set up to help students from the same community arrange rides. However, make sure you use websites and networks you trust. Be careful in choosing your carpool buddies. Remember, safety first!

Explore Options

Make sure you’ve explored all your options. The automatic plane-ticket home route might not be the best one. Sometimes driving can be cheaper than flying. Bus tickets may be more or less expensive than planes. Trains could also be a good way to go. Each area, method of travel, and time has its specific advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you know what is best for you. Also remember that the cheapest option may not be the best one. The headache and stress of organizing complicated, but cheap, travel routes may not be worth saving fifty bucks on a
plane ticket.

So know what you want. Know your schedule. Know your budget. If you do, you should be able to make it home fine, with a little money left over, and enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your family!

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