Monday, 29 September 2008

Stress Management for Free

We all need a certain amount of stress that is good for you. It helps us concentrate and even save our lives in certain cases. The problem lies when stress builds up and in this day and life excess stress is a major factor that affects many. This in turn is a health hazard and stress management come into play.

Stress management come in many forms, the cheapest and sometimes the most effective is self-management. Why pay out lots of money when understanding how to manage you own stress levels is free?

The first tip to free stress management is to recognise where your stress comes from.

A very simple tip is to take a deep breath and count to ten; this deep breathing puts more oxygen to your system instantly and helps you relax. The activity also means your are focussed on relaxing and will give you more composure, which is exactly what is called for in stressful situations.

This technique is easy:

Sit up and take a deep breath.... Count to ten slowly, then stand up and do a few stretches whilst smiling. Afterwards, go for a short walk or take break from your workplace as long as it is away from a stressful place and will change your focus. When you get back the cause of the stress will never be as bad as it was before these activities.

Rushing things and trying to fit too much in too little time is a major cause of stress. Too often we put the good things in life on hold and the reason is there isn't enough time. You can't can’t add time on in a day it will always be 24 hours long, it’s the same for every person on this earth. The only person who can make time for the good things in life is you, this time is just as important as work.

Sleeping on it is sometimes a great way to turn things around. At the end of the day you are tired and your thinking is never going to be as efficient as it would be after a good sleep. Try it, it is a simple answer and free and what's more it sometimes works wonders.

Don't be scared to say no, if you can't say no say I can't or later. Taking too many things on is purely down to your answers being yes all the time. Think about it!

Ask for help if you need it. Most people are more than willing to help and love to be asked. Use that help to reduce the burden that causes stress. You will find that most help if free and builds up good relationships between people, another stress factor reduced.

Simple cheap and easy was of helping yourself getting less stress is all about common sense and sensible living. Get a good night's rest and eat healthy food. Try to avoid fast food and chemically laden foods. Make time to listen to your favourite music and get some exercise or take up a sport or activity. Walking, jogging or riding a bike is a cheap way of achieving this.

Plan your time and prioritise a balance between work and play and talk to someone close to you about any problems you have. These really help reduce stress and cost nothing.

Take an afternoon nap; you will have more energy to get through the rest of the day. Finally, have a bath in the evening just before you go to bed, this will certainly help you get a good night's sleep.

Reducing stress levels is easy but it is down to you to take action. The beauty is, all the tips given costs absolutely nothing.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Used Coffee Grounds - Uses Unlimited

What do you do with you coffee grounds after you have made your coffee? Most people just wash it down the sink or thrown in the bin. Some may go one step better and put in the compost bin.

Did you know that it has far more uses than you can believe.

Are mosquitoes a problem? Not with the coffee around. It is a repellent. If you have a cat problem in your garden spread used coffee grounds and orange peel where you don’t want them. It really does work. And all natural!

Coffee can act as a boundary to ants as they hate coffee. Just lay a line and they won't cross it.

Coffee makes a great hair rinse! If you have dark hair you can use leftover coffee as a final hair rinse. It adds a super shine.

You can get gardening benefits of coffee by using coffee grounds to repel snails and slugs. Not only this but it adding nutrients to the soil. Old coffee grounds are and excellent ingredient to your compost. They increase the acidity of your soil and hare’s a winner, they also act as a natural fertiliser.

It is quite a popular way to grow mushrooms on old coffee grounds, and very successfully done.

Not just outdoor gardening benefits from coffee. If you add old grounds to your houseplants, they will love the acidity content and thrive.

Coffee can be used as a natural beauty compound. Using coffee grounds to exfoliate the skin. Simply Pat on skin, massage and then rinse.

If you put a plastic bowl of used coffee grounds in your freezer all the bad smell will disappear. Coffee is another one of nature’s deodorisers.

By rubbing coffee grounds between you hands smells that have lingered from handling pungent foods will be neutralised and eliminated.

Small scratches on wooden furniture can just be totally camouflaged with wet coffee grounds applied by a cloth.

Thanks to Cafe Direct for these tips.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Teaching Children Green

The secret to this world is our children. They are the ones who will carry on with running this world. If they run it the same way as many parents and grandparents then the world is doomed, just look at where we are right now in terms of a sustainable world.

We have to educate the children and the only real way to do that is to lead by example. There are so many ways in which this can be done from watching you turn a light off as you leave a room to shopping and choosing local produce. This needs to be explained as you do it they then have a visual and aural foundation to start off with.

Get the children to do green things like doing a bit of gardening and eating their own grown food, it can easily be started with a packet of mustard and cress seeds grown on a windowsill, the kids will love this especially as it only takes a few days to grow then they can move onto bigger things. The biggest thrill would be to eat what they have grown in a sandwich.

Watching television is the biggest cause of waste from advertising, get them hobbies to take up, there are a million and one things that children can do other than watch television. A simple thing like stamp collecting sound quite boring to many but one a kid has stamps in front of them, it will be a fascination they can’t put down. Starter kits are very cheap and would make an ideal present to children, they will spread the word to friends once they take it up and have swaps going in no time. Again it needs parents’ support throughout whatever hobby you decide they might want to try.

Activities such as bike riding can easily be done as a family. Bikes now are cheap and there are thousands of cycling lanes throughout the country that are traffic free. Join a bike club and go on runs with them. Every bike club if they are ay good should have runs designed for beginners or families. Biker are generally nice people who care about the environment as well so you will be in good company and this will rub off on your children.

Get you children involved in saving money and explain how they can contribute by doing this. At the shops is a great idea. Get them to find foods that are produced locally. You can even have a shopping list and your children can find out how many miles in total the foods on the list have to travel to get to the shop. Explain that is costs money to get food from one place to another and the shorter the journey the cheaper it is saving on fuel. You will find that they will be much more aware of their environment this way. What’s more they will remember doing this for the rest of their lives.

The future is our children and it is the parents who mould the children into adulthood. With green thinking and environmental care taken from their childhood experiences. This world will last longer and their own children will also be taught in the same way.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Energy Saving at Work

Most of us work and although many of us try to live a green life at home, sometimes what you are actually doing seems a drop in the ocean compared to looking at the waste at work.

Perhaps you can arrange for things to be done if you are the boss, or consult your peers about your concerns suggesting ways they can save energy and money?

The temperature of the workplace can be lowered slightly. Hardly anyone will notice and the saving will be substantial.

If using computers switch them off when you leave at night. There is no gain from leaving them on, again the saving on energy will be substantial.

Leaving lights on overnight is another common practice. What for? If it is for security, fair enough, but there can’t be any other reason can there?

Photocopier machine are invariably left on standby overnight and weekends. Why? There will be no answer to that.

Air conditioning systems are often left on. If there is no one there then turn the systems off. The energy they used with these contraptions is quite staggering.

Why not set up a meeting to see what other things you can do to save energy at work. Not only will it be good fro moral but you may even be looked on favourably with your bosses! And if you are the boss, look forward to an increase in profits!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Need to Lose Weight? It's Free!

One of the biggest businesses of the world are the weight losing or get slim business empires. Millions of pounds are spent on weight loss programmes much of which is a scam to make money. How many have been mugged by that fall for it and find that the only weight they lose is in their purses and wallets. Fat cats who sell slimming schemes and drugs do not lead by example.

The best way to lose weight is to eat less unless there is a medical problem or complication. Everyone with any common sense knows that, but it is hard as the whole food industry is set upon us to try and get us to eat more and more!

Also, there are many people who want to lose weight, but really don't need to, it is just an unhealthy fashion they have fallen into.

Losing weight saves you money, as you don't spend as much on food. There is a very good reason why you shouldn't bother with all these 'diet' foods. Quite simply, it's just another scam to get you to spend stupid amounts of money on more 'junk food' with a diet label on!

So, the tips start here:

As we are all shapes and sizes the best tips to start off with is to consult your doctor to get some guidance as to a suitable calorie limit for you before starting dieting.

If you don't have a lot of weight to lose, then there is no need to think anything other than cutting your calorie intake, simply eat less than you did before.

Don't cut more than a few hundred to the recommended required each day. The secret is to do it slowly and over an extended period.

If you do have hunger pangs, just find something to do or have a glass of water, just take you mind off of food.

Don't stock you kitchen with snacks other than fruit and vegetables, (apples, oranges, carrots, celery, etc.) You can use these as a course during your main meals. They are cheaper than sweet snacks and pudding as well.

More walking, jogging, cycling or other activates that get your heart muscles active and heartbeat raised is entirely down to you.

So there yhou have it, tip[s on how to lose weight and save money. Don't let anyone else fool you into thinking anything else or you'll pay for it!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

No Sleep? - Try These Tips

Sleep is something we need, it is a fact that you can die from lack of sleep, a worrying thought especially if you just can't get to sleep. There's nothing like a good night of sleep taken naturally without the aid of pills and likes.

There are many reason why people can't get sleep most is just using simple techniques and systems to aid you. I taken a few tips from my own solutions and other to try and help. It doesn't involve spending money in fact it will probably save you money, it really amounts to using a bit of knowledge and common sense.

There is no point in trying to get to sleep if you are not tired. There are ways to affect this by getting up earlier in the morning. The rule of thumb is if you're in bed by 22:00, you should be up and running by 08:00 the following morning. You can also try and get some physical exercise during the day. Make sure that you don’t do this too close to bedtime, as the adrenaline will prevent you from snoozing.

Certain foods can help sleep such as bananas, milk and camomile tea, these are known foods that calm your system down and help you to relax. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, ensuring that you are never dehydrated. Avoid drinking water just before you go to bed for obvious reasons.

Caffeine keep you awake so avoid tea and coffee in the evening, this also applies to a glass or two of alcoholic drinks, which will also keep you awake.

Before you retire to that comfortable bed make sure you are prepared for the coming day. It will help is you write a list of everything you need to do the next day. If you do this early enough in the evening you can add things you may have forgotten. This makes your mind less active and relaxed. Keep this list by your bed and if something else pops into your head write it down there and then rather than thinking about it and letting it keep you wake.

Having a warm bath or shower really does helps your whole system relax giving you a settled your mind and body.

Finally, make sure the temperature of your bedroom is not too hot or too cold before you get your head down. This saves you having to adjust either the heating or the amount of blanket in the middle of the night.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Energy Saving In The Kitchen

The most important first step in making this place is greener world is energy effiency. Whether it be heating, cooling or any other form of power the secret is either to avoid using it or make sure it is not wasted. With many energy efficiency technologies now about, ranging from insulation to more efficient electrical devices, sometimes we still need to look closer at home to compliment this trend. The kitchen is an ideal place to start and finding energy efficiency solutions that you can achieve and save you money of course is a good incentive.

Cooking nowadays doesn't take up much time, but when it happens it is one of those things you can easily adjust to saving energy. It’s not difficult to forget how much energy you waste when you’re cooking.

The first step is to ask yourself whether you in fact need to cook, what about eating more salads and foods that don't need heating up?

Just boil as much water as you need, don't fill the kettle up to the brim each time.

Don't defrost things in the microwave, put them in the fridge the night before this will also help reduce the fridge power consumption.

Onto actual cooking and a simple method of putting a lid on the pan when you’re cooking it means your meals will cook faster. Easy isn't it. I do it all the time plus it helps to keep your food at the right temperature. Your hob will need to be turned down to a much lower level and heat loss is minimised.

Another habit of mine is not to preheat your oven. It doesn't take long reach the correct temperature and all that energy under normal circumstances will be totally wasted. Most foods can cope quite easily from being cooked in an oven that starts off cold. Bread and cakes are an exception but even then I usually cook something else alongside in order to not waste the heating up energy.

A pressure cooker went out of fashion a number of years ago but nowadays is would be considered the most economical forms of cooking. It is well worth investing in one, as not only is it economical, but cooks many meals quicker than a microwave oven!

On the other side of the coin is the slow cooker; it can use less energy than most ovens and like ovens, more than one course can be cooked in one go.

The Chinese are clever, not only in their healthy diets but in the way they use very little energy to cook. Stir-fry is a classic example. It may take a little longer preparing with finely chopped ingredients but they smaller they are the quicker they cook and to make it even more economical and prevent burning, turn the heat down and as already mentionedm put the lid on.

A microwave has its uses in energy saving in the kitchen, but for reheating leftovers or giving vegetables a burst of steam, the use in mainstream cooking with a microwave is a false economy.

Cooking habits an the use of energy in a more efficient way in the kitchen just takes a little thought and planning, but over time you will see that you are doing something that saves you both money and time.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Credit Cards Better than Cash?

Are credit cards better than cash?

That is a question that can now be answered as I found out some interesting facts this week.

Many credit cards now have a cash back system they offer. This means if you pay for something with these credit cards you will effectively get money back so the goods of services will be less than you originally pay with this system in place. In other words it is more expensive to pay with cash.

Some cards are giving an excellent deal with a staggering 5% cash back. Imagine, whatever you buy you will be getting 5% off the price you pay. A card that is giving this rate at the moment is American Express with their Amex Platinum Card with a limit of up to £4,000 spending during the first three months. This means if you use the full cash back credit you will be getting £200 back! The rate goes down to 1.5% after this initial three month period, but you can get another 3 months if your partner applies for the card after your first three months has expired. You will then get six months and potentially up to £400 cash back.

Don't forget, there are other credit card companies that also have these schemes, but not with such an attractive introduction offer. But any form of cash back is well worth considering as ironically the paying by cash alternative means you will be throwing away money.

So, with cash back offers now firmly established with many credit card companies as pulling power to entice customers, they has a genuine claim in credit cards being better than cash.

As will all credit, it is only cost effective if you pay your monthly bills on time. It is well worth getting a direct debit facility to pay the credit card bills automatically. This way you will always get the benefits of cheaper money.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Holiday Savings

The amount people pay for their holiday is criminal sometimes. The worse part of it is that last minute deals that seem to be the fashion don't always work out cheaper. Leaving it too late can mean you pay over the odds as you are in a very vulnerable position and the travel businesses know this.

So, the first tip is to book early. The best bargains are to be had at the beginning of January. This is the month when tour operators offer the best deals.

Another side to this is having to pay in one lump sum on last minute deals and this often means credit card payments. More cost. If you book early you will have a greater choice of holiday and can pay interest free in instalments. This will save you even more money in effect a free loan.

Brochure are great, I remember many an evening sifting through these lovely places, Whatever you do don't buy your holiday through the brochures, just use it for ideas and places to go then book your holiday online. It is a fact that the prices for the exact same holidays are infinitely cheaper.

There is no reason why you can't insure your holiday is a good experience by doing a little research beforehand. Take advice from others who have been there. Use your network of friend and relatives who have been on holiday to place you might consider and get some feedback. There are online forums and international English speaking forums where you can ask and give good and bad experiences in many holiday destinations.

If you look for bargains regularly in January tour operators change their booking initiatives on a daily basis to get you to look in, this is enough reason to keep checking as often as you can.

Big names don't always mean big bargains more like bigger profits for them, as their overheads are far bigger. Thomas Cook often ends up as Thomas Crook! Don’t let the security factor fool you into thinking that safely in numbers is an insurance of a good deal, it just means that thousands are conned into paying more! Check out the smaller tour operators, as they will be trying to build up their business by impressing new customers.

Don't always think you have to fly from the Capital's airports. There are many other airports around with a comprehensive worldwide destination choice. You will also save on parking fees, time, fuel and stress by using the local airports. In fact I'd go as far to say that you should try to avoid the main airports on that cost basis.

Finally, and this is not good coming from an ex primary schoolteacher, try and get you holiday booked out of school holiday weeks, this is where you will get the best savings ever!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Cornflakes Bags and Boxes

When I eat cornflakes and stare at the box that stands in front of me I always recall some 20 years or so ago on the TV programme ‘That Life’. They showed one evening that there was more nutritional value in the packaging than the cornflake contents. That thought had a powerful message that has stuck in my mind ever since.

There were some experiments done as I recall, and it was found that when tested on rats it resulted with the nutritional value of the packaging outweighing the nutritional value of the cornflakes. Now I don’t suggest for one minute that you eat the box, but that is an incredible fact

The absolute mindless waste from packaging is something that many just can’t believe in this day and age still goes on. Why? Pure enticement for the price, a sheep in wolves clothing as far as I can see, that’s exactly what a box of cornflakes is.

So as it stand we are not going to change the way cornflakes is packaged, we are only pawns in this game, but we have made the purchase and paid good money for the goods, why not make the most of what we have here. Yes, eat the cornflakes and what do you have left? You have a well-made cardboard box and a tough waterproof and bag to play with. Don’t throw these away, you have paid for them, they have other uses.

The rigid box can be decorated and used as file-holders. By cutting off the top and trimming down the sides at an angle, they are ideal upright or laid on their side for a file or book holder. The waterproof bags are of course up to food grade standards and perfect for storing other food products and for using in the freezer. They can be washed out and used again time after time. You will be hard pressed to find designer freezer food wrapping as of the quality you have here.

Next time you shop for cornflakes, don’t bother putting file storage holders or freezer bags on you shopping list, you will have that in due course.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Free Clothing - Today's Fashion

Free clothing, what's the catch? None, in today's fashion with spiralling prices there is an option open to get free clothing but not many people go for it.

Buying clothes takes a big chunk out of your household budget and is something many people overlook. Whether for you partner or your children you can save a fortune by using strategies that will still give you the fashion and style you want but at a fraction of the cost.

There are many place you can buy clothes that are substantially cheaper than retail stores, but clothes that are given away are free!

Let's start with the idea of free clothing, as when I was a child this was a common practice and where I got most of my clothing. They call it 'hand me downs' but as we worked and kept the family solvent.

The half of the 20th Century has seen retailers get to grips with our minds. Accepting clothing that is no longer wanted from others has a stigma attached! This is purely due to businesses that want you to buy new. What a waste of resources, money not to mention the negative affect on the environment in producing more clothing just for the whim of profit.

Many people nowadays would rather their surplus to requirement clothing just stored for ever, thrown away or given to charity shops rather than be given directly to friends and relatives. This is mainly due to embarrassment and offence to offer.

I must admit when I was younger some of my most prized clothing was handed down to me, I just couldn't afford to buy such items.

Another way of getting free clothing I recently discovered a group call "Freecycle" Their mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills. This idea is great as it enables many people to benefit from giving and receiving clothing as well as anything else that is surplus to requirements.

Freecycle started off in May 2003 to reduce waste in landfill sites. The main rule is that everything that is posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages. It's a free membership and once registered you just email your local group with a donation or request. It's as simple as that and could fill your wardrobe with clothing that cost nothing. Of course its not all take and your conscience must allow for you to give something in exchange, even if it's just swap of clothing.

If you still feel that there is a stigma from accepting free clothing from people, and really there is no reason you should, just keep you mouth shut and don't tell anyone where you got the clothing from. Only you need to know anyway and you will also have peace of mind of the savings you make, the contribution to the environment and also profits made by retail stores to plough more money into advertising and making the public even more keen to buy new each time.

Can I also emphasise that much of the 'hand me down' is 'as new' anyway, its' just been overtaken by someone buying new every week or who have put on weight, so, let's create a new fashion in 'hand me downs'!

If you are interested in starting a Freecycle group in your area, this page will help you.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Economical Driving

Economical driving is easy. Okay it is now accepted that we all have to use cars at some point, if we all drive economically and make it a habit of modern day driving the different would be substantial. The amount of cost and pollution that cars currently throw out is horrendous but we can make a contribution to reduce emission into our environment and reduce the amount of fuel used. This at the end of the day will save you money and you conscience.

So if you drive a car, look at the simple things that will make you an economical driver, if you do this save yourself lots of money. Even if you don't drive you can pass these tips on to someone who does!

  • Under inflated tyres add another 2% in fuel consumption, so keep you tyre pressures in check.
  • Just don't drive when you have a short journey. Catalytic converters need to run for up to 10 kilometres to work effectively and you will be using a staggering 100% more fuel with a cold engine.
  • Avoid sharp acceleration and sudden braking this will reduce CO2 emissions and save on fuel.
  • When changing gears do so when you revs are running at a lower rate, say 2000 to 2500 rpm. This again save on fuel used.
  • If you have air conditioning try using it less there are substantial saving on fuel when not in use.
  • Carrying unnecessary baggage is more work for you engine to pull and burns more fuel. Empty you boot and just carry what you need.
  • Get some company when driving, give people lifts to save them using their car. They will do the same for you and that's one less car on the road and obvious savings for all.
  • Don't bother warming the engine up by leaving it running. Leaving you engine running for 30 minutes would be the equivalent of travelling around 6 kilometres.
  • If your car is serviced regularly it will save you money by reducing the fuel consumption.
  • Check out your route before setting off. Unnecessary mileage by getting lost due to poor planning is a massive waste of fuel and CO2 emissions.

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