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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.”

Make Your Own Adventure Club and Get Outside!

outdoor-club-adventure

As a kid you were probably forced outdoors at some point during the day to play outside and get your energy out. You probably noticed as you got older that now, if you want to get outside time you have to provide it for yourself. And if you live in an apartment or the city you may not be able to get quality outdoors time just by going into your backyard. If you live in the city you might have to plan your outdoor time even more as you coordinate trips to local outdoor hot spots. Getting yourself out in nature might be easier if you form a like-minded group to get you going. With the steps and tips below you can make your own Adventure Club and explore nature with your friends!

Why Going Outside is Good for You

Get vitamin D. You can actually get vitamin D from sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important to our health and it doesn’t always come in abundance in the foods we eat. One of the best ways to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is through being outside in the sunshine. It can help you have strong bones and protect you from certain diseases and ailments. Improves your immune system.
Opportunity to exercise. Unless you’re sitting in a chair it’s hard not to exercise at least a little whenever you go outside. And every ounce of exercise contributes to your overall health! Even a short stroll outside can do wonders for your physical health.
Elevate your mood. A lot of things about being outside can give your mood a healthy boost. The light, the sun, the fresh air, or the flowers and trees can help you feel a little better about the world if you give them the chance. But there are also studies to support this idea. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found in a study of theirs that just walking outside for a bit each day boosts creativity by 81%. Who knows what creative potential you might unleash just by getting yourself outside a little each day!
Good for children. Studies show that being outdoors helps kids focus better. Spending at least an hour outside every day can increase their focus, overall wellbeing, and help them get better grades.
It can be easy to let kids go run around outside and get all the exercise and vitamin D they need, but as we get older it can become harder to find time to get outside. One way to make getting outside easier is to give your outdoor time some kind of purpose.

  • Exercise outside.
  • Go for a daily stroll at the same time.
  • Get outdoor furniture. Once you have some place to set up camp outside, it can be easier to take things you normally do indoors, outdoors while you soak up some sunshine.
  • Make your outside time a group activity by creating your own outdoors club!

outside-nature

What Kind of Outdoor Club Do You Want to Do?

There are many things to do outside and everyone has different interests. Some people really like swimming, or hiking, or kayaking. What outdoor activities most interest you? These are the things you’ll want to incorporate in the purpose of your outdoors club. Having a clear purpose for your club will help a lot once you start bringing other people into the group and involving them in planning.
You can focus on one thing. You can make it a club all about just one thing you know you like to do:

  • Skiing
  • Hiking
  • A sport
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Running
  • Kayaking
  • Biking

Or you can involve many outdoor activities. Instead of making a hiking group, you can decide to make an adventure club! That way you can plan activities around all things adventuresome.

Whatever the purpose of your outdoor club, you’ll also want to keep in mind who you want to invite to the group and the level of difficulty everyone will be ok with. For instance, hikes and trails are often ranked by difficulty. They can be considered easy, moderate, or hard. So while you are deciding your club’s purpose remember to also consider the level of experience and difficulty you want to involve, and remember to disclose these things to those you invite to the group.

Who Do You Want in the Group?

Outdoor groups can be for all groups of people! You can make no restrictions about who can join the club, or you can decide to make your group exclusive in some way. For example, if you’re a dad looking to bond with your kids through fishing, you might make a fishing club specifically for dads and their kids. You can also restrict the group to certain age groups, like if you’re interested in getting to know more people your age.

Logistics

The last thing you’ll want to figure out before publishing your new group is all the logistics. Below are a couple questions to consider and make decisions about before going live with your new club idea.

  • How are people going to get places?
  • How are you going to get equipment?
  • How will your group stay in contact?

Maybe you’ll expect everyone to use their own cars and equipment to get places, or maybe you’ll want to talk to local rental places for any equipment your group might need. You can also keep in contact with your group in many ways. If you all know each other you can simply create a group text message. Or you can make a Facebook group, or use other messaging apps like Slack, or GroupMe. There are almost infinite options nowadays for where to keep your group’s base of operations.
flyer-outdoors-club

Now that you have your group all set up you can start reaching out for people to start joining. One great way to get members is to create a public Facebook group online. You can also try inviting some people you know and ask them to bring a member or two of their own.

You can also make flyers to hang up around town to meet new people! A flyer doesn’t have to be complicated, just make sure it has all the information they’ll need.

Fun Ideas

There are endless ways you can really have fun with getting more involved in your community and getting to know new people through starting a club like this.

  • Bring snacks.
  • Have a group potluck event.
  • Be educational. You can make a presentation about outdoor etiquette, safety, or hire a trial guide to teach your group about different plants you come across during your hike.
  • Do volunteer work every other month. You can volunteer to clean up a place you visit.
  • Make a website, a blog, or social media accounts for your group and post about the trips and activities you do!

Other Good Ideas

  • Have regular meetings.
  • Assign responsibilities to different people. You can nominate different group members to be the President, Vice President, Trip Coordinator, Treasurer, or Social Media Manager.
  • Fundraise for your trips. You can have a group yard sale or bake off to save up money for your bigger trips or activities. Sometimes your outdoor adventures are going to require fast funds while you’re in between paychecks. If your Adventure group finds itself short on cash, you can always get a payday loan or a personal loan from Check City and pay it back when you return from your trip.

Getting yourself outside is important. The great outdoors are meant to be appreciated and can shower you with mental and physical benefits. You don’t have to go through the trouble of making an outdoor club to get outside, but it can help motivate you to make going outside more of a habit, and who knows! You might just make some great new friends along the way.


READ MORE
Read all about vitamin D and it’s health benefits.
 
Check out another Check City Blog article, “Getting Outside This Spring” to learn some other great ways to get outdoors more often!
 
FEATURE IMAGE BY PETER CONLAN
OTHER IMAGES BY BLAKE LISK

10 Fun Summer Activities for Kids, Under $10

Summer is almost upon us! The kids are out of school, the weather is finally started to get warmer, and everyone has their summer plans all-ready and planned out. Or do they? Are you ready for summer? Are you ready to keep your kids busy and entertained? Here is a great list of summer activities for kids that are guaranteed to keep your kids entertained all summer long!

#1 The Classics- No matter how old you or your family gets there are some summer classics that will always be fun. Here are just a few of those summer classics that will not cost you an arm and a leg:

  • Chalk- Drawing pictures with your sidewalk chalk is so much fun for little kids, if you have older kids they might enjoy chalk games like hopscotch, body outlines, and box out, tic tac toe, bounce out, four square, connect the dots, self-portraits. You can even do some of these fun chalk ideas as adults or for a fun/cheap date.
  • Jump rope- Another classic, you can’t go wrong with some jump rope or double dutch if you want something you can all do together.
  • Hoola Hoop- You can do so much with hoola hoops, like play hoola hoop. But you could also create a giant bubble, or human ring toss.
  • Bubbles- Time to experiment: instead of simply blowing regular sized bubbles try making your own bubble soap. Then use different objects around the house to make different sized bubbles.
  • Sprinkler/Pool- A cheap but fun summer classic is to run through a sprinkler or go swimming at the local pool. Or, if it costs money to go to the pool you can get creative and find a way to make your own outdoor pool. Use a giant tub, kiddie pool, back of a truck, etc.

#2 Outdoor Movie Night- Most any place that has a park will do weekly or monthly outdoor movie nights during the summer. These are great fun and are perfect summer activities for those of you who want to get out of the house without paying an arm and a leg. Bring some snacks and blankets from home and be prepared to sprawl out on the grass and enjoy an outdoor movie.

#3 Picture Scavenger Hunt- There are so many lists online that you can use as a base of ideas for where you can get scavenger hunt ideas. Simply use some of those and add your own depending on where you are going to go and what you think you will be able to find on your trek. Once you have a list you can split into groups and go looking for the items on your list and taking a picture of each item as you find them.

#4 Local Library Fun- Your local library is not just a place for reading books. You can also check out movies, download music, or participate in groups like story time, parties, games, movies, and other activities that are usually free or very inexpensive. You can also join a summer reading program that you can participate in as a family.

#5 DIY Picnic Lunch- Let your kids make their very own lunches and pack them up. Then go to the backyard or a local park and have fun eating your DIY lunches. Your kids are much more likely to eat the things they made or picked out themselves.

#6 Campout with Bonfire- You can use your tent or borrow one from a family member or friend and simply do a little camping trip to the backyard. But don’t forget the bonfire! You are sure to a have a lot of fun with your family while you cook food over the fire and tell stories.

#7 Relay Races with Water- Turn the backyard into a giant relay race and invite the neighbor kids to join in on the fun. You could even make it a multi-family event. Use things like pool noodles to create obstacle courses, string to tie ankles together for three legged races, and water balloons for a water balloon toss and water fight.

#8 Pick the Craft Day/Visit Craft Class- Let your child pick a craft (out of a few that you have chosen for possibilities) and do that craft together. Or, you could check out your local craft store and see what kind of classes they have available for kids.

#9 Local City/Park Activities- Your local city and park will have more activities during the summer like festivals, movies, farmer’s markets, etc. Check out these fun activities with your family without spending too much money.

#10 Make a Movie- You know what almost anyone can do these days? Make a movie! Have one of your family members write a script then you can all dress up, direct, and act out your movie.

Ways to Save on Your Camping Trips

Summer is almost over, and you are probably busily trying to accomplish the many activities and things that still remain on your bucket list. It can seem overwhelming, but also exciting at the same time.

It is likely that one of the remaining items on your summer bucket list is to go camping with your family. There are few things better than driving out into the wilderness and setting up camp.
Many people find camping a very enjoyable pastime and hobby. They love being in the outdoors and simply enjoying a few days outside of society.

Many people enjoy taking a break from technology and the hustle and bustle of daily life. They love to cook food using an open fire and sleep literally under the stars.

Camping Can Be Expensive

However, for many families, camping is either not a possibility or it only happens very rarely. The reason for this is that camping can often be expensive.

There are lots of different items you need to buy in order to be safe while camping. These items can quickly add up to a large sum of money.

It seems contradictory that going to live off the land would cost so much money. But unless you literally want to live off the land with very few amenities, your trip will probably cost more than you are expecting.

This is true especially if you have children. If it is just you and your significant other going out to camp, you will most likely not spend as much.

But if you have children and they are coming along, you will probably have to shell out quite a bit of dough in order to be able to buy all of the necessary gear for each of your children. One of the most important things you can do when camping is buy at least some of your equipment used.

This is especially helpful if you and your family are new to camping. If you are new to camping, this means that you will be buying most of your equipment all at once.

You probably are not randomly just going to have camping equipment lying around your house, so you will have to go out and buy camping equipment. But what you don’t know yet is whether or not your family will actually like going camping.

Start By Buying Used Equipment

If they don’t like camping, and you spend tons of money on camping equipment, you will probably feel frustrated and angry that you just spent that much money on equipment you won’t use very often. So, the solution to this is to buy used equipment.

Before you reject that idea, you should hear us out. There is quite a large amount of used camping equipment available online.

All you have to do is go to craigslist.org and search for it. You can even go to freecycle.com and see if there is any camping equipment on this website.

If you’ve never heard of this website, it is a website where people can post things that they are giving away for free. People can post things they need, and then people can also post things that they’re giving away.

You can see how this kind of website could be beneficial for someone who is looking for lightly used camping equipment. You can also go on to websites like amazon.com and overstock.com in order to look around for cheap camping equipment.

These types of websites also offer deals every so often throughout the year. If you watch out for these deals, you can get some great camping gear for very cheap.

You can also take a look around any thrift stores or yard sales for cheap, used cooking supplies. As long as you wash all of the supplies you buy from these venues, they should be fine to use.

Borrow Gear From Friends or Family

Make sure to also ask your family and friends if you can borrow their supplies, if they are campers. You will probably not need to use their supplies for very long, so they will probably be willing to let you borrow what they have.

Go Solar

Another great way to save while camping is to use solar lights. Instead of using regular flashlights, you can purchase solar lights that are great for camping.

Using solar lights is a great way to teach your children how to be eco-friendly and also thrifty. You simply charge the lights during the day and then use them at night.

It is a simple way to save money while being kind to the environment. Camping can be expensive, but if you follow these tips, you can make your camping experience much easier on your wallet.

By following the tips in this post you’ll be able to check camping off your end of summer bucket list without breaking the bank.

Cheap Ways to Enjoy the End of Summer

If you are living on a tight budget, know that you’re not alone. Most Americans wish that they had more spending money in general.

Americans find it difficult to save their money, so it may feel like you just can’t keep your money in your pocket. It always finds its way out eventually.

This dilemma becomes particularly potent when you realize that the summer season is quickly fading. You only have a few weeks left to enjoy the beautiful summer freedom.

What are you going to do with your precious few weeks that are left? Here are a few cheap end-of-summer ideas that will keep your family busy and happy and feeling like you haven’t let the summer go to waste.

Try Picking Your Own Fruit

One great way to spend the end of your summer is to go pick your own fruit. There are many states that are ideal for fruit picking.

These states include: Michigan, Oregon, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Washington, California, and Florida. Blueberry season lasts from May until September, so you still have quite a bit of time to go and pick berries.

If you do not live in one of the above mentioned states, do not worry. There are plenty of blueberry farms scattered throughout the entire United States.

Many people who own blueberry farms let guests come and pay a small fee to have the experience of picking blueberries. Guests usually get to pick the blueberries that they pick while at the farm.

Guests have reported that this experience is very fun and fulfilling for the whole family. If you and your family do not have a berry bush or easy access to something similar, it may be the first time you and your family have picked berries in your life.
It can be a very fun, lighthearted, and easygoing experience for all ages. Guests who pick berries at farm report fun times taking the berries home and finding different recipes to use them in.

Guests report having lots of fun cooking the berries into pies, putting them into shakes, and making jam out of them. Some people even freeze the berries and use them in pancakes and muffins during the winter.

Using the berries during the winter keeps the spirit and hope of summer alive in your home. There are also other fruits and vegetables available for picking and harvesting.

Tomatoes, squash, and watermelon all reach the peak of their growing process in August. Visit pickyourown.org to find out where you can harvest the fruits and vegetables that are the most ripe right now.

Go For A Swim

Another great idea for a cheap, end-of-summer activity is to go swimming in the ocean. If you live near the ocean, or can take a day trip to the ocean, you should do it.

The water on the East Coast of the United States reaches its warmest temperatures during August. It could be a lovely family activity to take a day and go visit the beach.

There is nothing else quite like swimming in the warm ocean water and basking in the ocean sky. Go to the beach to feel refreshed and rejuvenated before you have to return to your regular work routine in the fall.

You do not even have to buy an expensive swimsuit in order to go to the beach. Just look for deals and sales online and in-store and you will be good to go.

Even if you can’t seem to find a swimsuit that is very cute, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that you have a good time and that you make memories.

Try to Get One Last Crop In

No one will remember what you wore anyway. Another great way to enjoy the end of summer is to start a garden.
You may think that it doesn’t count as a summer activity if you’re preparing your garden for the fall, but it definitely counts. Make sure to prepare your plants for the summer heat, though.

You do not want them to dry up and die because you have not prepared them for the heat. Try wetting the soil a day or two before you plant the seeds, planting them deep into the soil, and making sure they have shade once they are planted.
These are necessary precautions to take when you are planting seeds during the summer. Also be sure to water the plants at least 2 or 3 times a day.

It is difficult to water plants too much when they are constantly being exposed to the hot summer fun. End your summer with a band with these fun, cheap, end-of-summer activities.

Saving Electricity While Still Keeping Cool

The summer time heat is in full swing, and with most of the country absorbing sweltering heat waves as the months of July and august pass, many homeowners are seeing a dramatic spike in their electricity bills. This sudden rise in the monthly electric bill should not come as a total surprise however, because over seventeen percent of the average household’s annual energy bill is spent solely on cooling the home.

In other words, on average, the average American household spends seventeen percent of their total energy costs per year on cooling the house. That percentage equals an average of over three hundred and seventy five dollars per year spent on cooling the home.

With summer heat causing many to turn on their air conditioning units, and estimated eighty four percent of American homes are equipped with air conditioning services, those numbers on the monthly electric bills in Pennsylvania are sure to rise with the added strain of a consistent air conditioning unit. For those families who wish to save more on their cooling costs and electric bills in the United States, there are ways to lower the electric bills by switching off the air conditioning while still keeping the home nice and cool.

Open The Windows at Night

One of the most common, yet surprisingly underutilized, ways to keep a home cool while switching off the air conditioner is to open the windows at night. While many homeowners in the United States know this trick to a cooler house, there are still a surprisingly large number of individuals and families who do not choose to do so.

By opening the windows at night, a home is able to bring into it the cool night air. Even on those nights when the temperature outside stays relatively warm, the cross ventilation of a home with windows wide open will be able to cool the home naturally without having to spend money by switching on the air conditioner.

But Close Them During The Day

A homeowner needs to remember, however, that keeping the windows open during the hot mornings and afternoons can actually make a home heat up rather than cool down, so after keeping the windows open all night, a homeowner will want to close the windows in the morning. Closing the windows in the morning will likewise trap the cool air in the home and allow for the home to stay cooler for longer.

Turn Off… Everything

Another way to cut even more from the electricity bill while simultaneously cooling the home is to shut off the lights in a home. The standard light bulbs used in the vast majority of homes will typically put off just as much heat as they do light, meaning that they can actually heat a room if they are left on for a long period of time.

Similarly, other electronic devices, such as computers and TVs, put off great deals of heat. To save both energy and the cool air inside of a home, a homeowner cannot just switch these appliances off, but they actually have to physically unplug them from the walls.

This is because some of these appliances, such as computer monitors, laptop fans, and TVs still put off large amounts of heat from their surface even when the appliance has been switched off and is in standby mode. By unplugging these appliances from the wall, the homeowner can effectively switch off the electricity flowing to the appliance which will save money on electricity bills while also limiting the heat radiating into the room.

Use Fans Wisely

Another way for people to beat the heat this summer while limiting their use of the air conditioner is with the appropriate use of fans. Fans are a bit tricky to manage because they too use electricity, so while the air conditioner may not be in use, those who over use their fans may be spending just as much or more than they would if they let their air conditioner run all day.

Homeowners can avoid high electricity bill costs but still use fans if they will use them effectively. The most important thing to remember while using fans to cool the home is that fans cool people and not rooms; or in other words, using a fan to cool oneself is a great way to save on cooling costs, but once one leaves the room the fan should be switched off as it will do nothing to cool the room but still be sucking electricity and money from the homeowner.

To keep a home cool in the summer without using an air conditioning unit can be a difficult challenge for most homeowners. But taking the steps to cool a home without using electricity will help a family to save more money on their electricity bills in the United States.

Cutting Costs on the Water Bill

Summer is in full swing and that means that water bills across the country are on the rise. Historically water usage goes up exponentially in July and August so in this post we’ll cover some simple ways that you can save on your water bill not only during the summer but year round.

The once a month water bill can sometimes be the forgotten child of the monthly utility bill round up. With other utility bills, like the gas and electric bills, often adding up to be more than what is owed to the city water provider, the monthly water bill can often times go over looked by those who are striving to save money by home conservation practices.

But this should not be the case as saving on the monthly water bill can actually save a household up to hundreds of dollars per year, and those savings will be even more important in the future. The saving practices and conservation efforts by homeowners on their water usages will soon become a vital money saving technique due to the upcoming repairs on water pipelines across the nation.

According to the American Waterworks Association, there are over one million miles of water pipelines spanning the United States that will need to be repaired or replaced by the year 2035. The costs of those repairs are estimated to reach over one trillion dollars and the majority of that money will be garnered from the citizenry’s monthly water bills.

While the estimated increase to homeowners and property owner’s water bills will be nation-wide and seemingly unavoidable, the practices of in-home water conservation will still be vital for a family to over spend on their already increased water bill. Conserving water every month in the home can be simple for those who will take the time to turn water saving techniques into habits.

It Starts in The Kitchen

One of the major areas of the home where water saving practices can come into effect is within the kitchen of the home. The kitchen area of the home is often a leading area of water use due to the kitchen sink being in use for cooking and cleaning, as well as the dishwasher using gallons of water to wash the family’s dishware.

Don’t Wash By Hand

While some may think that washing dishes by hand will save them money on their water, the truth is that washing dishes by hand will actually expend more water than if a family uses their dishwasher correctly. So the first way that a family can save money on their water utility bill is to stop washing their dishes by hand.

It is estimated that those who wash their dishes by hand will expend up to twenty seven gallons of water in the process while those who use their dishwasher to wash their dishes expend only fifteen gallons of water per load, or, if they own an energy efficient model dishwasher, that number could be closer to four or five gallons. As one can see, choosing to use the water over washing the dishes by hand can save a family gallons of water per cycle and per month.

Use the Dishwasher Correctly

Along with using the dishwasher over washing dishes by hand, a family can save even more water if they will use their dishwasher correctly and efficiently. The first way to use the dishwasher of a home effectively is to make sure that the dishwasher is fully loaded before every use.

Having the dishwasher completely filled on both top and bottom racks will directly translate into having an efficient dishwasher, as less water will be used to clean the dishware per dish. Additionally, another way that a family can get more from their dishwasher is by understanding the dishwasher’s capabilities. Many modern dishwashers have settings such as energy efficient or eco-friendly cycles as part of their options for cleaning and switching the dial to have the dishwasher run on these settings will have the machine use less water overall. Likewise, most modern dishwashers can handle the grim of food stains and little pieces of excess, meaning that a family no longer needs to pre rinse their dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Not only is pre-rinsing dishes is literally a waste of water if a family owns a modern dishwasher, but it also leads to another water waster while in the kitchen—running the disposal. Every time the disposal is engaged, the water must be turned on.

Running the disposal can be avoided by simply saving the leftovers for future consumption (another helpful money saving tip, by the way) or by throwing the unwanted leftovers into the trash or a compost pile. Saving water in the kitchen is a primary way for families to save money on their monthly water bill.

Shorten Those Showers

In connection with saving water in the bathroom by taking shorter showers or smaller volume baths and by turning off the water while brushing teeth, saving water in the kitchen will help to save a family potentially hundreds of dollars per year on water bill costs.

Planning Your Wedding on a Budget

It’s almost August and that means we’re in the middle of the summer wedding season. In honor of all the weddings that take place each week during these warm summer months we’re going to discuss how you can plan and stay within a budget while putting your summer wedding together. When you’re engaged and getting ready to get married, your budget may be more important than it has ever been. Planning a wedding on a budget can be difficult and it is important that you understand what your reality is going to be with your wedding. There are a lot of brides that just don’t understand how much everything is going to cost with their wedding. When you do not understand how much things cost, it can be very difficult to lower your expectations. Rather than lowering your expectations, it is important that you are realistic from the beginning.

Set Realistic Expectations

First, you should realize that what you see on television is not an accurate representation of reality. There are reality television shows that depict a bride looking for a dress with her loved ones. The prices of the dresses that they show you are usually not the real price of the dress. This can be very frustrating to brides that see their dream dress on television and can’t seem to find the same dress for the same price anywhere. Rather than basing your budget for your dress off of what you see on the television, it is important that you look through stores and really get to know the real prices of wedding dresses in your area.

Set The Right Time Frame

Second, when you are planning your wedding you should be sure that you give yourself enough time to stay in your budget. Many brides do not realize just how expensive last minute changes are or how hard it can be to do things on a budget without enough time. If you are planning on doing any do it yourself decorations, you want to make sure that you have the time to create something that is exactly what you want.

When you plan your engagement, you should be giving yourself enough time to ensure that you are going to be able to stay in your budget. Don’t rush through to your wedding if you think that you are not going to be able to stay within your budget. If don’t set a realistic timeframe for planning your wedding you may need to pay for the expenses of your wedding with a credit card or short term loan.

Prioritize Your Spending

Third, make sure that you know what is most important to you with your wedding. There are a lot of people that just do not prioritize their money well when they are setting their budget. Make a list of expenses that are most important to you. You should be sure that the expenses are covered and that you splurge on the things that are most important to you. By doing this, you can be sure that you are able to save money elsewhere.

Giving yourself the time that you need to understand how you are going to prioritize your wants and your future spouses wants is integral to staying within the budget and still loving your wedding. Don’t be afraid to adjust your priorities as you go, but make sure that you have the budget to make the changes that you decide you want to make.

Continue Cultivating Your Relationship

Fourth, throughout your engagement it is important that you remember why you are planning your wedding. There are a lot of people that get so caught up in the details of their wedding that they forget about their marriage. When you are planning your wedding, you should be sure that you understand how you are going to continue to cultivate your relationship with your future spouse. Taking the time that you need to get away from wedding planning and continue to cultivate your relationship is necessary.

Finally, the day of your wedding can be a great day. When you are getting ready on your wedding day, try to remember how much you love your future spouse. There are a lot of people that get so caught up in details or small hiccups that they are not able to really be present and enjoy the day that they spent so much time planning. It is so important that you understand how you are going to take time that day to really appreciate all of the planning and the love that has gone into your wedding day. Take time to think about the love of everyone that has surrounded you on your special day and revel in the beauty of your wedding day. Don’t be afraid to take a few breathers, sit back and really take in everything that you have put into your special day. Your wedding day will be well worth the effort you put into it.

5 Affordable Ways to Save Money on Wedding Travel

wedding travel

When it comes to family weddings, you’ll go anywhere to be a part of a couple’s special day. Depending on the couple’s plans this can sometimes mean you’ll be travelling quite a distance to be a part of that special event. Traveling often comes with a host of expenses.

The following is a guide to help you attend that special day for as little as possible, because being able to attend your loved one’s special occasions shouldn’t have to be a financial burden. Take a look at these five tips to learn ways you can save while traveling to a wedding.

Tip 1: Start Ticket Shopping ASAP

plane tickets

First, look for travel options as soon as you learn the wedding date. This is especially helpful when you need to purchase a plane or train ticket for the wedding because then you have ample time to browse ticket prices. Don’t just visit the websites of your favorite airlines either. Check out discount flight sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, or Cheap Flights. If there are deals to be had, they’ll be on these discount ticket websites.

It’s also a good idea to check ticket prices on different days of the week because prices will go up and down depending on the day. Some people even say that Tuesdays are the best day to check tickets because prices often go down right after the weekend.

Tip 2: Carpool When You Can

carpool

Second, if the wedding location is close enough, consider the price of carpooling. Five people paying for the gas of a fuel-efficient sedan can often go a distance of three to six hundred miles for much cheaper than the price of a plane ticket. That’s even considering it’s a round trip car ride. You’ll have to spend a bit of extra time on the road, but you’ll save money in the long run.

Not only that, but family members passing through can often offer you a ride for free. It’s always polite to offer to help pay for gas, but even if you give them gas money, riding along with family members can often be cheaper. Road tripping for the wedding with fellow family members can also allow you to catch up with loved ones you haven’t seen in awhile. But basically, whenever you’re traveling, it’s always a good idea to plan early and to plan cheaper options.

Tip 3: Pack Your Own Food

pack food

Third, pack your own food! It’s easy to be pressured to spend lots of money on eating out whenever you get to a new city and want to spend quality time with friends and family through eating together. You can always budget for eating out with your loved ones during celebratory times like weddings, but you can also pack a lot of foods to keep you from needing to eat out for all your meals while you’re traveling. You can pack granola bars, sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, fruits, crackers, string cheese, trail mix, and cut up vegetables. There are lots of travel food ideas you can use to keep yourself healthy and nourished while you travel without breaking the bank.

If you avoid eating out as much as possible you’ll save between $10 and $20 per person, per meal. After a three day weekend, that can mean saving yourself between $30 and $80, depending on the eating habits of your family.

Tip 4: Choose Gift Cards Over Gifts

gift cards

Fourth, remember that the wedding gift is a lovely donation to a newly married couple. But if you have to travel a long way for the wedding, and possibly pay for your outfit for the wedding, then paying for an expensively fancy wedding gift can be difficult. That’s why wedding registries can be extremely helpful because the couple will have lots of gift ideas for you to choose from, making it easier for you to find a gift you can afford.

Another great wedding gift idea for wedding guests who are on a strict budget is to give them a gift card. Putting some money on a useful gift card can be much less expensive than some actual gift items. You can also pool your money together with others to buy the couple a more expensive gift without having to pay for the whole gift on your own.

Tip 5: Share Hotel Rooms

hotel rooms

Finally, consider looking into sharing more than just a car as you arrive in the city. Share a hotel room too! You may not get the privacy that you’re hoping for, but you can at least save a little money for a few nights on your sleeping accommodations. Consider who you could room with, where you could go for a cheap hotel room, and work out a rooming situation that can get you through the wedding without spending full price all by yourself for your hotel accommodations that weekend.

 
Traveling to a wedding doesn’t have to be as extravagant as the wedding itself. You don’t need the most expensive form of travel. You don’t need to eat out every day of the weekend. You also don’t need to spend your whole wedding travel budget on the wedding gift.

If you have financial concerns, don’t be ashamed of keeping to a tight budget. After all, it’s the celebration of a couple’s love that this even should be all about anyway. That said, don’t be afraid to use a payday loan so you can reserve a cheaper ticket.

Summer Boredom Cures on a Budget

We’ve all been there. It’s hot, the kids are bored, and our wallets are empty. There comes a time when each one of us has to get creative and come up with things to do for cheap or for free. Unfortunately, creative ideas often come in as slowly as the money does. Because of the need for fresh activity ideas, we decided to write this blog post to give your idea bank a little extra savings.

Through this post, we hope to give you some ideas of things that you can do with your children this summer for free, or within your budget. We also hope that you’ll give us your ideas so the idea bank will increase because we know we can all use a little help in this arena.

The first step in deciding any activity is looking at your personal budget to decide how much money you have to spend. The next decision becomes what we can do with what we have.

Keeping their minds engaged

Sometimes the challenge of summer activities becomes, “How can we keep our kids engaged in the learning while passing the time in a productive way?” In this category, we have a few suggestions to allow you to have fun and make memories with your kids, while helping them to continue their learning.

  • Have a reading marathon with your kids. Keep your pajamas on late and see how many books you and your family can read within a specific period of time. Then turn around and write your own story as a family.
  • Museums or zoos are great money smart activities that help your kids to continue learning while making a lasting memory. You could even go to the library for a local story telling.
  • Visiting a local fire station is always fun and very informative.
  • Going insect hunting around your yard and take pictures of all of the bugs you found. After, you can try to identify all the insects you found.
  • Do a science experiment.
  • Learn about constellations, and then watch the stars to try and identify the constellations you learned about.
  • Go to a local workshop for kids. Many local stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have workshops for kids to learn different handy skills for around the house.
  • Play a trivia game.
  • Build a rocket from a kit, and fly it with them.
  • Participate in a local nature program.
  • Teach your children about finances such as how to use a credit card or how to make a budget.
    Release the Energy While Cooling Down

The summer is notorious for hot days. Simply going outside can help your kids to be more active, especially when they have fun activities to do that won’t make them too hot. Here are a few ideas to help kids be active, and also to cool off.

  • Go on a hike.
  • Ride bikes.
  • Buy or make some popsicles.
  • Buy or make some lemonade and hold a lemonade stand. This would give you a good opportunity to teach our kids about saving money and how to run a business.
  • Go to a pool. You could even set up a mini waterpark in your backyard with a tarp and some water and turn the sprinklers on. Have a water-balloon and squirt-gun fight. If the kids start getting sick of the kiddy pool, add some bubbles to switch it up.
  • Create an obstacle course.

Just Plain Fun

Every child wants to have fun. Here are a few ideas just to have some fun together. Summer is a great opportunity to really spend quality time with your children and make lasting memories.

  • Paint or draw together. Chalk provides another fun and interesting way to vary the art projects. Finger painting is also fun for every age. Another option is to do splatter paint, for those of us that lack in the creative department.
  • Create a fort in your living room out of blankets or cardboard boxes. Roast marshmallows over the kitchen stove and have an indoor campout. Or set up a tent in the backyard for a fun campout.
  • Have a sunrise or sunset picnic at a park or beach.
  • Have a scavenger hunt. You can vary scavenger hunts to do several throughout the summer. A fun idea is to take pictures along the way to remember the fun times you had. Create a treasure hunt for them (leaving clues around the house or yard).
  • Bake cookies or other goodies for a neighbor. You could even volunteer at a local nursing home or hospital.
  • Create a scrapbook. Create a family book, with information and pictures about each family member.
  • Make a movie with a camera and computer.
  • Make play dough from scratch.
  • Paint a room or do other crafts.
  • Visit a pet store.
  • Make your own instruments.

If you decide that you would like to take your kids to something that costs more than is in your wallet, payday loans can be a good alternative. This is also an opportunity to teach your kids about finances and how to properly use money, save, and build credit. To gain other ideas on teaching your kids how to budget, check out our other blog post: “How to Teach Your Children How to Budget” Though your budget may have constraints, you can still provide a fun and memorable summer for your kids.

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