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August 2010
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October 2010

Guest Post: Investing in the future – what are your options?

In today’s precarious economic climate, investing your hard-earned cash might seem like a risk too big to take. But if you do your research and invest wisely, the rewards could be great.

In the most basic sense, an investment is anything which you put money into now in order to receive a (hopefully larger) lump sum in the future. The most familiar example to many of us is a personal pension; paying a certain amount into a pension fund on a regular basis will provide you with a lump sum on retirement (usually 25% of the total invested) and a steady income for the rest of your life.

Currently the limit to what an individual can pay into a pension fund is set at £225,000 per financial year, or £1.8 million throughout their working life. Some of this can come from the Government, who will pay contributions based on the individual’s rate of income tax. For example, a basic-rate taxpayer who wishes to invest £1500 into their pension will pay £1170, with the remaining 22% coming from Government contributions.

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Write for Us!

Write for Us!

Our sister website, BreastfeedingMums.com, is looking for writers! 

If you specialise in writing articles suitable for inclusion on a family friendly, predominantly female-based website (ie us!), then we'd love to hear from you. In return for your unique content, you will gain valuable exposure for your website or blog.

We are happy to accept exclusive, well-written content on a variety of topics. In return for your hard work, at the end of your article you can include an 80 word resource/byline box, with up to 3 website links; this is where you can let our visitors know about your own sites.

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Tips on Traveling With Your Kids

Anyone that has ever been on a road trip with youngsters certainly know that it can be quite a challenge trying to keep them occupied if it is for a long period of time. There are many things however that you can do to keep them busy along the way. The types of activities that you use of course will depend on the age. Here are a few suggestions according to age.

Ages 3 to 6
Story telling with a twist:

Here you begin a story with one line then each person in the car adds one line to it. Be sure that each person takes a turn in the if there are other adults, as it seems the kids enjoy it more when everyone participates.

Color counting 

If you are going to be traveling on a well traveled road then get each of the children to pick their favorite color. Then get them to add up the number of vehicles that they see that are of their chosen color. Set a short time limit for this around ten minutes.

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Kids Eat Free Offer Extended at Pizza Hut!

 

 

It's hard to believe Summer is over and we're now into the Autumn term at school. Although a few decent days of sunshine probably lie ahead, from now on the evenings will be getting darker earlier and we'll all begin to think back to the bright summer evenings that we've left behind.

This summer was actually a lovely one for us. Although there were quite a few rainy days, which we're pretty used to in Northern Ireland, we made the most of any good days that came our way by packing our bags and getting out of the house as much as possible.

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Return of the Honey Monster! Tell 'Em About the Honey Mummy!

Yay, one of my all time childhood favourite tv characters has returned to the small screen (see above) - the Honey Monster! Remember him? He looked like a big cuddly Sugar Puff and his childish behaviour endeared him to many children, including my husband and I. Even today, I still remember chanting his wonderful catch-phrase, "Tell 'em about the honey, mummy!"

Well, now it's time for my children to fall in love with him two - although perhaps not so much a first crush, as  a first crunch!

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Women in Power

The corporate world for women can be a tough place.

If you're too soft-spoken, you're overlooked and if you're too outspoken, you're labeled as "bitchy" and "demanding." Can we not win? While the days of blatant sexism is the work place may be a thing of the past (mostly), that doesn't mean that the climb up the corporate ladder has been easy.

For women, breaking barriers to enter industries and management positions traditionally dominated by men has been an arduous and uphill battle. Reports on women's progress in the workplace, and particularly in managerial positions, are mixed, and indicate the need for continued reflection and reform in the business world (Harvard Business Review).

But the news is not without hope.

A recent article in Forbes Magazine reported that 44% of M.B.A. recipients in 2007 were women, a number up some 75% since studies done in the late 1990s. Of women who are in or are pursuing management positions, it seems many are carving out different career paths from their male counterparts, often for very different reasons. 

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The High Health Cost of Debt Driven Stress

Debt stressOver the last few years unemployment and personal debt have risen to the point where they are close to the levels found during the Great Depression of the 1930's. For many even full-time employment does not necessarily guarantee the ability to pay their bills, causing people to struggle month to month as they try to dodge the financial land mines of debt and credit collection agencies, whilst working forty or more hours a week to only barely survive.

A 2009 survey conducted by the Associated Press in conjunction with AOL revealed that excessive levels of debt was a major cause of stress related illnesses. 44% of people surveyed with high debts claimed they suffered from regular migraines as compared to 15% who did not owe money, similarly 39% of people with debt problems suffer from insomnia whilst only 17% of those who didn't have any economic orientated stress were similarly afflicted. Equally worrying are the figures that 27% of debt sufferers complain of ulcers or other digestive problems, compared to 8% experienced by people who were debt free.

What these and other figures tell us is that debt induced stress is potentially the most damaging form of stress to live with, as it's a topic which people find very difficult to let go of mentally if they are having financial difficulties.

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Home Alone and the Future Beckons!

After the long school summer holidays (8 weeks here in Northern Ireland) I'm trying to adjust to the fact that all three of my children are now back at school and for the youngest, from next week he'll be staying later. Although they haven't quite flown the nest yet, I'm beginning to see what it must be like when they're all grown up and choose to leave home. Whilst that won't happen for sometime yet, one of the benefits of the children being away during the day is that I have so much more time now to get on with working from home. I'm even getting time to think about my future and have managed to sign up for a 1 year evening class to feed my photography habit!

As a direct result of all this time to myself, when the children come in from school I don't feel quite so frustrated anymore. Because I work from home, over the past few years there has always been some degree of background noise as I tried desperately to write every day - more often than not it was the sound of kiddie tv! I was mostly able to tune out to a certain degree, but there was always the slight guilt that every time I sat down at the computer, it was time I wasn't really spending with them! What is it about us mums that we never properly feel we're getting the balance right?

I gave up a teaching career for my children so I could be at home with them - and then I still felt guilty because instead of working away from them I was working in the same room as them! Crazy, but true...

I've often contemplated (particularly during the holidays) what it would be like to be working alone from home, without any disruptions, but now it's here I sort of miss the morning noise and bustle. Of course, at weekendsI do get a reminder of what it's like again and realise that I don't really miss the noise that much and by Sunday night I'm desperately counting the hours until Monday morning again!

Anyway, life is changing now and I'm feeling like I can start taking this working from home thing to new levels. I don't quite know what yet, but I do know I've certainly got time now to consider all my options - something that has been lacking in my life for so very long! ;)


How to Avoid Wasting Money on Routine Family Health Expenses

As families grow so to does the cost of covering everybody's medical expenses. Whilst people should never put off getting health related help when they (or a loved one) needs it, in the current economic climate many are now feeling as if they have to make the choice between getting adequate medical attention and saving money. The truth is it doesn't have to be like that, because often there are several ways families can save money on healthcare related bills without having to deny anyone access to the treatment they need.

Perhaps the most important method for saving money on healthcare is to have a good understanding of your families medical needs. This requires you figure out how much healthcare each member of your family uses on a yearly basis, with it being particularly important to note down any recurring costs for prolonged treatment and whether or not excessive use of preventative care is causing you to pay more than is necessary.

From there take the time to explore your insurances EOB (Explanation of Benefits) forms, to see if your plan is actually providing you adequate cover, if you find it isn't make sure to shop around and see if there is an option available to you that provides better savings for your families particular needs.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy this Winter

Winter seems to be the primary season for colds and the flu to attack. We get used to running around during the warmer months without much thought to wearing warm clothing or getting our feet wet. These things in and of themselves are not responsible for getting a "bug", but when we are chilled and wet our immune systems do not function as well as when our bodies are kept warm and comfortable.

The breakdown of our immune systems leaves us wide open to all the nasty bacteria transmitted through the air and human contact.

We can pick up germs quite easily from touching objects that have been contaminated by people who are sick and don't have the common sense to stay home. Whether it be at the office, at school, in the grocery store or traveling on public transportation vehicles, you will inherit whatever they have chosen to touch after blowing their noses or coughing.

It is difficult to live day to day amongst the many people who frequent the same places we do and not be exposed to whatever ailments they may be carrying.

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