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Ebola Panic

If you’re in the United States, you’ll know that the big news the past few weeks has been Ebola.  It has hit our shores!  We are doomed!

Or at least, if you watch the news, that’s what you might think.

As of this writing, the only people who have contracted the illness in the United States have been medical professionals.  One man who contracted the virus elsewhere died here.  His family, who he was with prior to his hospitalization, never got sick.

And yet people all over the country are being quarantined.  A teacher in Maine was put on 21 day leave because she traveled to Dallas for a convention.  Another school was shutdown because a teacher flew on the same plane as one of the nurses who got sick – not on the same flight, just the same plane.  I know people who are canceling vacations and considering keeping their kids out of school.

People.  You are overreacting.

Now, that’s not to say that Ebola isn’t a big deal. It is, especially if you’re living in one of the countries that has been hardest hit.  I worry for Liberia and am thankful for all of the medical professionals willing to go and care for the sick in those areas.  But you need to learn the facts.  While yes, viruses can mutate, at this point, the disease is not airborne.  You are highly unlikely to catch it.  Do your research.  And sure, wash your hands and take care of yourself and try to avoid people who are sick.  But you should be doing that anyway.  It’s flu season, after all.

What does this have to do with finance?  Well, it’s a reminder that anything can happen at any time, and while Ebola is not a reason to batten down the hatches, it’s never a bad thing to be prepared.   I liken this to the CDC’s recent campaign showing people how to be prepared for a zombie apocalypse.  Likely?  Clearly not.  But being prepared for zombies is like being prepared for Ebola or another pandemic or even a hurricane.  You need a plan in place.

How’s your emergency fund looking?  Do you have money set aside in case you do get sick and have to take time off from work?

What about your emergency supplies?  You need a couple of days worth of food and water available.  And that includes food for your pets too.  Same goes with medications.  Do you have a first aid kit?  Have you checked it recently?  How about a go bag if you suddenly have to evacuate? And what about a meet-up point if you do have to evacuate?

On the lighter side, when cold and flu season hits, I like to make sure that I have some cold symptom relieving medications in the house – something for congestion and something for a cough.  The last thing I’m going to want to do if I get sick is have to go to the drugstore.  I don’t stock up a lot, just make sure that I have what I need if I wake up sick one day.  And I can tell you that I have never had to throw away expired meds.  Inevitably, I get at least one cold a year that knocks me down.

So don’t let Ebola scare you.  If you have some extra money, consider donating to one of the amazing organizations with boots on the ground over in eastern Africa.  And use this as a reminder to be prepared in case of an emergency.  And to be thankful that we live in a country with good sanitation and a good healthcare system.

Practical Tips for Saving on Groceries

save on groceriesThanks to the joys of living in one of the more expensive parts of the country, it feels like I spend a lot of money on groceries every month.  I read blog posts about how much people spend to feed a family of four and I think about how there’s no way I could do that here.

Of course, I’m also not an avid couponer.  And buying in bulk doesn’t always make sense when you live alone.

So here’s what I’ve found works for me.

Coupons

When the Washington Post started charging for online subscriptions, I opted to get a weekend paper subscription, since it came with online access and is significantly cheaper.  (Yes, that’s right, getting online access AND a paper is significantly cheaper than just online access.  I’m guessing it has to do with ad revenue.)  That means that I get coupons every weekend.

I would love to be that person who follows all of the couponing rules and files away the entire coupon section of the paper and uses one of those online services to match up the sales with the coupons to get the best deal.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Well, at least I don’t.  Nor do I have the patience.  So I go through the coupons and clip coupons for things that I regularly use.  And only things that I use.  Just because a product looks new and cool and I have a good coupon doesn’t mean I need to buy it.  But I’m also not brand loyal for a lot of items.  Toothpaste has a good coupon?  Awesome.  There are also frequently coupons for cleaning supplies.

A lot of naysayers will say that most of the food coupons are for junk food.  Percentage wise, they’re probably right.  I don’t buy very much junk food, so a lot of the coupons do just get tossed into the recycling bin.  But there are also a lot of coupons that I do use.  It can be hit or miss – one week I will clip a number of coupons and the next week I will only clip two or three.

Grocery Delivery

I live in an area where the local grocery stores have a grocery delivery service.  It is amazing.  You order your groceries online and then they magically arrive at your house.

No, it’s not a free service.  With delivery fees and tip, it costs me about $10.

But I still think it saves me money.  (And hassle, but that’s for another post.)

I do grocery delivery about twice a month.  I pick a delivery time about a week out and start adding items to my cart.  The site I use lets me peruse sale items and even better, lets me peruse items that I have purchased before (according to my rewards card) that are now on sale.  I love this feature.   Before I even plan my meals for the week, I check out what items are on sale.  This isn’t a new concept.  Many people do this using the store circular in the newspaper or online.  But it’s great to be able to limit the search by the items I have purchased in the past.

For me, the most annoying part of grocery shopping is that I inevitably forget something.  Doesn’t matter if I make a list and check off the items.  Something always gets missed.  And it happens with grocery delivery too, but I have time to go back and edit my cart up until the night before the delivery.  Awesome feature.

Plus, the service I use takes coupons and will double all coupons under a dollar.  That’s a definite win.  And it’s easier to match up coupons to products when I’m shopping on line.  In addition, the site gives me the unit price of EVERYTHING.

And grocery delivery helps me avoid those impulse purchases. There aren’t any fancy displays to tempt me.  That alone may cover the cost of the delivery and tip.

Don’t Waste

The question I always get when I mention grocery delivery is how I keep things fresh.  I admit, not all of my shopping is online.  Since it’s only about every two weeks, I do often make a quick trip to get fresh fruits and veggies and occasionally some dairy products between those orders.  Not a big deal, and I’m in and out very quickly.

I do, however, make a point to not let anything go to waste.  I try to use up what I have.  It’s not unusual to open my fridge and find only condiments because I have a grocery delivery coming.  It can be hard to not stock up when something great goes on sale.  I just have to make sure that I use what I buy.  I hate throwing away food.

So that’s what works for me when it comes to saving money on groceries.  The biggest tip I have is do what works for you.  Yes, you could save more by going to multiple stores and paying close attention to coupons.  But if that’s not feasible with your life, or if it causes you incredible stress, then maybe it’s not worth it.  It’s all about figuring out what works the best in your life.

How do you save money on groceries?

Movies, Music and Games: Cost Cutting Tips for Home Entertainment

Entertainment is something everyone needs. The problem is that entertainment is getting to be pretty expensive. How many times have you gone out to the movies in the last month? How much did it cost you? If you’re like most people, you spend at least $10 a ticket. If you’re taking your partner out every weekend, you’re spending about $40 or maybe $50 a month just on movies. That doesn’t include dinner and gasoline for driving. Here’s how to cut costs, without sacrificing the fun.

Using Online Coupons And Promotions

If you want the latest coupons, follow the Dojo blog. You’ll find discounts for movies, games, and other forms of entertainment. Coupons for games might sound a little strange, and it is a somewhat unusual way to save money. At the same time, it’s perfectly legitimate.

Watch Classics

Classic movies are making a comeback, and the good news is that they’re cheap. You can sign up to Netflix, or one of the other popular streaming services, for under $10 a month and watch unlimited movies. And, if you do get tired of watching black-and-whites, the good news is that Netflix, in particular, is constantly updating its movie and T.V. show offerings. It’s managed to get some hits from the 1980s, ‘90s’ and even more recent movies.

Failing that, you can always borrow classics from your local library.

Take Up Babysitting

In exchange for watching someone’s kids, you can ask for free movies and food instead of cash. Not only is this an interesting way to spend your time, you get to watch new releases for free. You can also entertain yourself, and the kids, doing other interesting activities, on the parents’ dime of course.

Take In A Matinee

Matinees are cheaper than prime-time showings, so go earlier in the day, and save yourself some money.

Learn a New Card Game

Who says you have to go out to enjoy yourself. If you stay in, you can learn a new card game and play it with a friend or friends. When’s the last time you played Euchre? What about Gin Rummy? Have you ever played Blackjack or what about Crazy Solo or Candyman?

There are so many games out there, that you could keep yourself entertained for hours, days, weeks, even months. If you gather up enough friends, you could make it a regular weekend party theme – each week you play a new game.

Listen To Pandora, iTunes Radio, Spotify

Getting free music these days is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is download and install Pandora, iTunes Radio, or Spotify and you’re good to go. These services stream music to your smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer. And, unlike music in the public domain, this music spans many genres and includes popular music you might hear on the radio. How do they do it? Licensing. These companies have special licensing agreements with music studios that let them deliver music to you that’s almost commercial-free.

Play Free Games Online

There’s a growing trend of open source gaming online. The best part about this movement is that these games are free and legal.

Richard Turner enjoys finding new ways to entertain his family without breaking the bank. With a background in personal finance, he enjoys sharing his insights online. Find the latest discount coupons on Twitter.

Know Your Investing Options: Forex Vs. Binary Options Trading

Many traders who are relatively new to this investment arena can often find it difficult to distinguish binary options trading from forex.

That confusion is understandable when you can trade currencies and use a Metatrader platform for both options, so in order to fully appreciate and know your investing options, it helps to gain an insight into the fundamental differences between the two.

Spot the difference

Forex is the biggest financial market in the world and presents a wealth of opportunities for investors to speculate on currency pairs on a 24 hour basis throughout the working week.

An example of a typical forex trade is that you are placing a bet that is speculating whether the value of a chosen currency is either going to rise or fall in value in comparison to another. If you believe that the price of EUR/USD will rise from its current price, you make your purchase and wait for the currency value to increase, so you can close your bet and collect a profit if your prediction is correct.

Binary options trading is different mainly because it is structured around the basic model of a fixed-cash-or-nothing or asset-or-nothing binary option. This means that when you are trading binary options, you are being asked to predict whether a currency pair with either rise or fall in price at a specific point in time.

Payout percentages

Another difference to be aware of is in relation to pay outs and losses. With binary options, you will have advance knowledge before making the bet as to how much you are likely to win or lose.

You should check with the broker you have an account with in order to clarify whether they offer a safeguard option that prevents you from losing any more than the amount you have bet.

Forex outcomes are far less defined in comparison and if you do not have the relevant trading experience as a trader, you could end up losing all the capital in your account, although the positive aspect is that the profit you can make is not limited with a forex trade.

It is because of this volatility with forex trading that many regular traders use limits and stop loss orders to keep a greater degree of control.

Closing your position

A binary option trade gives you the flexibility to choose when you want the bet to expire and close out.

You may also be offered a range of pre-defined expiry dates that could be as little as one hour and there are occasions when a broker might offer you early closure, for a percentage of the anticipated return.

With a forex trade, you are in complete control of the duration of your bet and are able to choose when you actually want your position to be closed.

Trading limits

When it comes to binary options, the broker determines the minimum or maximum amount of money that you are allowed to invest in a single trade, whereas in forex you are offered what is referred to as mini, micro or standard lots.

The majority of traders operate with the mini and micro ranges and the standard lot size generally applies to institutional sized accounts who are operating with much larger financial resources.

Also remember to ask your broker about margin and trading costs, so that you can get an accurate comparison between forex and binary option trading.

Abbie Peacock has been investing in stocks for a very long time. She likes to help others new to investing by writing about what she has learned over the years. You can read her illuminating posts on investing and financial websites and blogs.

Sun kissed enough?

The women of our times are always on the move. They are independent, achievers and go getters, and dislike petty obstructions coming in their way of success. Yes the societal constrains are often overwhelming but it has slipped into the way of our lives. Dealing with one thing after another, we overlook the effect this stressful life has on our skin and face. For example, that tan that you have stopped caring about that has become an inevitable part of the job. Can we cure it in any hassle free and simple way? Haven’t most of us already lost our patience with the heavy chemical ridden formulas which may have visible immediate effects but are of great harm in the longer run? Well in that case, some home-made remedies that won’t be much difficult to follow maybe?

Here goes:

  1. Rub some lemon juice in the affected area. And keep it on for a few minutes before washing it up. This has to be continued for a few months in order to find visible effects. Lemon juice is also effective in removing other scars on your skin but due to its acidic base can leave your skin rough. A simple remedy to this is to add some cucumber extract and rose water that will help nullify the acidic effect and nourish along with repair.
  2. The Aloe and tomato pack is another popular pick for eradicating tan. This as an immediate effect completely rejuvenates the skin and as a long term effect clears your tan.
  3. The honey and papaya pack is a rather cheap remedy but does your skin a whole lot of good given the proteinaceous base of papaya.
  4.  Sandalwood is another fabulous tan remover. Sandal, the antiseptic curer from the books of Ayurveda is indeed an effective healer.
  5. In case you have just come in from the sun, you may rub some ice on the burned areas to soothe immediately and reduce the effect of tan.

Of course there are several other such home-made mixes that we can talk about, but these are believed to act the quickest and deliver the best effects.

Apart from this repair therapy, a daily protection action against the sun needs to be there and that calls for a good sunscreen lotion. A moisturiser that suits your skin type is very difficult and important to find. Often we gauge the worthiness of the sunscreen based only on the SPF value but it is a gross mistake to avoid other factors like the skin type it suits and UV protection value. Even low SPF sunscreens are good if you are stepping out in suppose the evening sun but what if it makes your skin oily? That makes you vulnerable to acne breakouts. So a thorough research before putting in your money is highly advised.

You can always go online and visit many product details for that before zeroing down on your pick. For steal deals you may visit sites like Chameleonjohn.com and use coupons available at Chameleonjohn for various brands from where you can buy the best skin care products.

As painful as this process maybe, the final result is a healthy, young, supple and tan free skin.