Wednesday, 13 December 2017

6 Simple Tips for Basic Budgeting Success

As we move through life, we quickly begin to recognise the importance of knowing how to spend less than we make. If you can learn how to live within your means, then you could effectively avoid debt, save back some extra cash for emergency situations, and even plan for retirement. Unfortunately, managing your spending habits can be a lot more difficult than it seems.

The key to success for most people is learning how to live within a budget. However, there's more to budgeting than simply placing restrictions on how much you're allowed to spend a week or a month. Here, we're going to look at some simple tips to help you achieve budgeting success - even if you struggle with your finances.

1. Know Your Goal

The first step in creating a successful budget is knowing why you're restricting your spending in the first place. Tracking every penny, you spend can be exhausting when you don't know exactly why you're doing it. Instead, try thinking about what you want to achieve by managing your spending habits. For instance, are you hoping to save up enough money for a deposit on a new house, or do you want to go on a vacation with the family? Even the goal of having emergency savings can be enough.

2. Track Your Spending

Since you'll need to know how much you're spending on a weekly and monthly basis to help change your habits, you'll need to begin by tracking how much you spend regularly. Ideally, you'll need to create an account or a document where you can write down everything you spend over the course of a month. This will include everything from essential expenses like paying your rent or your electricity bills, to frivolous spending on things like expensive lunches and your morning coffee.

3. Cut Down Gradually

Once you know exactly where you're spending your money, you'll be able to start pushing yourself to make important changes. You should be able to split the money you use up into two sections - money that's spent on must-have things like food and bills, and the cash you spend on luxuries. Look at your luxuries and find small ways that you can cut down your spend - without committing to too much too fast. Instead of telling yourself that you can never go out for drinks with your friends again, try cutting your outings down to twice a month, instead of once every week.

4. Spend Real Cash, rather than Using Plastic

If you want extra help keeping yourself on track when it comes to managing your budget, then it might be a good idea to simply withdraw the amount of money you have to spend each week from your bank account. If you use that cash to spend instead of a credit card, you'll teach yourself to be more aware of exactly how much you're spending, so you're less likely to make unnecessary purchases. The freedom that comes with credit and debit cards can be convenient, but it can also lead to some dangerous spending habits.

5. Make Your Savings Automatic

If you're concerned that you might forget to save back the extra money you want to put into your emergency funds, then you could always turn to your bank account for help. For instance, set up a dedicated savings account, and connect your current account to it with a direct debit that pushes you to pay in money each month. Make sure that you know exactly what you're spending before you do this to ensure that you'll have enough cash left over for the bills. You can always consider setting up your bills to go out of your account automatically too. That way you'll never get into a position that means you're falling behind on essential expenses.

6. Change your Budget When Necessary

Finally, remember that a budget doesn't stay the same throughout all the stages of your life. The budget you have when you first leave home won't be the same as the one you have after you've got a promotion, or you're living with your partner and have begun to consider starting your own family. Budgeting is something that you'll need to do on a regular basis as you move through life and tackle its various challenges. With that in mind, make sure that you go back and reassess your budget at least once every 6 months, or whenever a major change happens in your life.

These Are the Ports You Should Know on Your Arctic Cruise

You can learn what a person is like just by knowing their travel preferences. For instance, those who would choose isolated beach destinations are probably city dwellers or employees wanting to escape the busy life. Travellers who would choose diving and hiking destinations are more of the adventurous type and are looking for a thrill. And those who would prefer to stay in cities are probably mostly in rural places.

However, if you ask them if they want to go to the Arctic, almost all of them would jump on the opportunity. An Arctic cruise is a unique type or travel that allows you to journey through the wide expanse of the North Pole. Just to get an idea how big the Arctic Circle is, it spans places like Norway, Sweden, Russia, Alaska, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and Finland -- about 6% of the whole world! And unlike what majority of the people think, the Arctic is not just a huge land of ice. You can find breathtaking natural landscapes here and countless wildlife.

But before you reserve a slot on the ship and secure a cruise travel insurance, you must know that to maximise an Arctic cruise, you should check out these ports of call.

Reykjavik, Iceland

This is one of the most fascinating places to visit on your Arctic cruise, because this is the real "song of Ice and Fire." Apart from the famous geothermal pools, galleries, and a colourful night life; you will also be up close and personal with the nearby volcanoes in Iceland. This is where extreme cold and extreme heat meet, a true collision of fire and Ice. In fact, it is these extremes in nature that gives power to Reykjavik.

Wrangel Island, Russia

You should be on the lookout for this port if you want to get a few snapshots of the wildlife that exists in the Arctic Circle. Wrangel Island in Russia is located at the Chukotka region, and has been called the "polar bear maternity ward", the same name given to Herald Island. Just based off of the name, these islands have a high number of cubs being born.

Ilulissat Icefjord and Jakobshavn Glacier

Both glaciers can be found in Greenland and have made a name for themselves because of their size. The Ilulissat Icefjord glacier has been given the UNESCO World Heritage Site title and calves over 35 cubic-kilometers of ice. It is one of the most studied glaciers, allowing scientists to understand climate change and ice glaciology. The Jakobshavn glacier, on the other hand, is known to have the fastest moving ice sheets with a height of up tp 131 feet, and has the biggest ice stream outside of Antarctica.

Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

The Longyearbyen settlement can be found in the island of Spitsbergen, at the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Considering it is already the largest settlement among all the islands, it only has about 2,000 residents. Here you will find, jutting high up the island, snow-capped mountains shadowing the community. There are tundras a roaming sleuths of polar bears around.

So once you get your itinerary for your Arctic cruise, make sure that any one of all of these ports of call are included. As a tip, you can maximise your trip by planning your land tours ahead. Take lots of pictures and enjoy a truly unique trip around the Arctic.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Secondary School Struggles: Welsh GCSE's

Next year my eldest heads off to secondary school and already I have a real bee in my bonnet!  You see living in Wales I accept learning the language, I have no issues with that whatsoever!  But I hadn’t realized that our children are expected to sit ALL their GCSE’s in Welsh in their next school!  I studied in Wales and back then it was bi-lingual, you had more flexibility, but the Welsh government has decided it wants the number of Welsh speakers to reach one million by 2050.  But that objective would seem to be at the expense of some of our children’s grades!!!

I am more than happy to embrace the language, but aside from the Welsh language GCSE I think children should be allowed to sit the rest of their exams in their strongest language, the one that everyone speaks at home.  Let lessons by bilingual or have two separate streams if needed.  Find some middle ground that will work for everyone rather than force children to sit every exam in the medium of Welsh.  According to my son’s next headteacher if children are capable according to their assessments they are sitting exams in Welsh or they go into a “special needs” group – his words!

Statistically it’s been proven children who sit an exam outside the language used at home don’t do as well.  I am not a happy bunny, why should my children not reach their full potential just so that the welsh government can meet its targets…?  I wouldn’t mind so much if I had found some decent resources, but really struggling to find good educational books in all the subjects for the boys to refer to at home.

Yes, they want to stop a language from dying out, I get that, but at the same time don’t put off people moving here, because they are don’t want to put their children into Welsh schools where they may well struggle with the language.  Skilled capable people I know have left the area when it’s time for secondary school just because of this very problem.  If I am honest we have considered it ourselves, moving to England so we can help our children with their studies.  I am Welsh, born and bred, and I struggle with the language.  But we are settled here, surrounded by family and friends, my husband has a good job, mine could be transferred anywhere his sadly can’t.  I don’t want to uproot my kids I want them to have their best chance in the language they are strongest in, is that too much to ask?