10 Productivity Apps You Should Be Using

There is no doubt that we all love our smart phones! Finding apps that simplify and organize your life could go a long way in de-stressing and becoming more productive.  As written on FitnessMagazine.com, here is a list of 10 productivity apps that you can have on your phone that will improve your productivity and make your life easier.

Via 24.media

Via 24.media

Wunderlist

Those with an eye for details will love setting up tasks on Wunderlist. Not only can you make tasks with reminders, you can also make subtasks to make sure you don’t miss any steps. Plus, the ability to share to-do lists with others makes group work a breeze. Lists sync across multiple devices, like your iPhone, Android, iPad, and on your web browser.

Checkmark

Checkmark is just the solution for those pesky things you keep forgetting to do no matter how many times you write them down. This app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad sets up reminders based on time and location. Make a note to pick up your dry cleaning and you’ll get a pop-up the next time you’re nearby. Perfect!

Streaks

Whether your goal is to exercise every day, quit smoking, or read more, Streaks is an app that will motivate you to keep at it. For every day that you accomplish your goal, mark it on your Streak calendar, and the app will keep track of just how long you’ve been following through. If you break it, no sweat — the app will remember your longest streak so you have something to work toward.

Lift

For some extra support to keep up those newfound healthy habits, Lift offers a similar tracking functionality to Streaks but adds the social support for when you just don’t feel like it. Invite your friends who can give you “props” when you check something off your list.

Summly

If your busy schedule makes you feel like you’re living in a bubble, this is the app that’ll keep you in the loop. Summly helps you keep up with current events without spending hours reading the news. It’s free for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It lets you choose the topics and news sources you’re interested in, then creates summaries from top stories. Now you’ll never run out of conversation starters.

Battery Sense by Philips

Never run out of power while you’re out and about with Battery Sense by Philips. The app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad tells you how to prolong your battery life by limiting the use of certain functions, like video play and Internet use — so you’ll know exactly when to save the funny cat videos for later.

Snapguide

Compatible for iPhone and iPad, this app helps you learn something new every day. All you have to do is download it and browse through user-uploaded step-by-step tutorials, like How to Do a French Twist or How to Use a Foam Roller. Bonus: You can finally get answers to all those little issues (like your push-up form) you’re too embarrassed to ask someone about without any one ever knowing it.

Business Card Reader

If you’re prone to stashing business cards at the bottom of your purse or stuffed in the back of your wallet, the Business Card Reader will seriously declutter your life. Scan cards to upload your new contact and sync to your address book, and you’re all set!

Mint

Manage your budget more wisely with Mint, a money-management tool that tracks your spending, savings, and financial goals. Connect your bank accounts and credit cards and Mint will track and categorize your expenses. Create budgets for yourself, like a $100 monthly limit for dining out or a plan to save $2,000 in three months, and the app will monitor your progress toward your goals. Oh, and when you overspend in a category, like that super-hot dress you just had to buy but wasn’t in your budget this month — it’ll notify you about that, too.

Pocket

With the endless amount of information available to us on a daily basis, it’s hard to find time to sit down and read what you’re really interested in. Pocket saves the stories and pages you want to read so you can access them when you have more time later on, say when you’re waiting in line at the store, sitting on the bus, or on your lunch break. The app syncs your list throughout all your devices so it’s easy to keep track of what you’ve read and what you haven’t.

 

10 Ways to Financially Prepare for a Baby

Get the ball rolling and financially prepare for a baby now.

According to CNN the cost of raising a child for a middle income couple will be around $241,000 without including college tuition costs. With the economy disintegrating and job security being non existent, it is essential to financially prepare for a baby. With these tips from DailyFinance.com, you can spend more time being excited about the new member you will be welcoming into your family opposed to worrying about the costs.

1. Compare hospital costs. One of the biggest costs associated with having your baby will be the cost of delivery. Not only should you consider what the hospital or birthing center will charge, you should also balance what your insurance will cover. What is covered and what procedures cost can vary greatly, even in the same city. So find out the expense differences so you can make an informed decision that saves you money.

2. Say ‘yes’ to baby showers. One of the benefits of expecting a baby is that people want to buy gifts for the yet-to-be-born baby — let them! A shower can be thrown by co-workers, friends from college, neighbors or family. Let them know the things you need so they can buy them, and you can avoid any duplicate products.

3. Set aside money for maternity/paternity leave. This doesn’t necessarily fit in the “saving money when you’re expecting a newborn” category, but you want to be financially prepared for the time off Mom will take once she has the baby. Figure out how much you need to make up for and save that amount throughout your pregnancy so you don’t have to worry once the baby arrives. Is Dad planning on taking some time off as well? If so, account for that in your savings, too.

4. Shop secondhand for clothes. Many first-time parents don’t understand that newborns grow out of their clothes very quickly. You can easily save money by buying gently used secondhand clothes. There are a variety of places to get them: yard sales, consignment shops, friends and family members. If you’re planning on having other children, you can also save the clothes for the next child.

5. Get free samples from your pediatrician. As you get closer to the arrival of your little one, you’ll likely visit your pediatrician to go over questions you may have. Take this as an opportunity to ask for any samples they may have to offer. Most pediatricians have samples of formula, diapers and more. It may not be a lot, but the free products can help save you money those first few weeks.

6. Share maternity clothes. If you have friends who are pregnant or have been recently, this is a great opportunity, as you can share clothes with one another if you’re the same size. There is no need to go out and buy a new wardrobe if you can share among friends. That way, all of you can save the money for other needs.

7. Clip coupons. Some companies, such as Gerber and Earth’s Best, offer coupons when you become pregnant. They may require you to sign up on their websites to receive them, but they offer a variety of coupons you can use once you have your baby. They vary from specific product coupons to dollar amount spent. If coupon-hunting isn’t your thing, you can save money by buying generic products.

8. Discounted Gift Cards. Online discount websites, such as GiftCardRescue.com, have discounted gift cards available for a variety of retailers including Toys R Us, Walmart, etc giving you free money. If you pair these discounted gift cards with coupons and retailer’s sales you can save yourself a pretty penny.

9. Avoid the ‘need’ to buy everything. As a new parent you want your child to have everything — that is an understandable desire. Save yourself money and stress by not giving in to that desire. One example is a high chair. A high chair isn’t needed immediately, since the baby won’t be able to sit on its own safely. Yet high chairs are still a popular and costly purchase many make before a baby is born. You can cut this cost by buying something else like a booster seat that straps to a dining room chair. This also can’t be used safely for some time, but it can be a great option to save both space and money once the time comes.

10. Stock your freezer with meals. The last thing you’re going to want to do once you bring your little one home is cook dinner. This leads to temptation to order in food and spend money. But you can avoid this by pre-making meals during the last few weeks of your pregnancy and freezing them. Once you’re home from the hospital, you just have to pull out a meal, warm it up and you’re good to go.

Start off on a good foot for the new member of your family.

Top 15 Countries The US Dollar Is Worth More

Double your money on vacation!

You want to go on a nice vacation, but don’t have the money to do so? Traveling to a place where the US dollar is worth more could be your saving grace. We think the conversion rates to these countries are ideal, and to save you even more on your traveling experience check out discounted airline gift cards! You can save money on your flight and your US dollar is worth more at your destination. What is stopping you?

1.Vietnam 

Vietnam might not be the first place you think of when you picture vacation, but what you might not know is that the backdrop for the Vietnam war was actually a really beautiful country. And exchange rates in our favor mean that you can stay in bed and breakfasts for as little as $15 a night. Then later, while you are out and about on the town you can get meals from street vendors for about a dollar. Other bargains to pick up in Vietnam are silk scarves for about $5 or silk jackets for $20.

2. Mexico 

Mexico has several advantages when it comes to stretching a few dollars. First of all, it is closer, so you won’t have to spend as much on airfare. Second, prices are inherently cheap in Mexico and thirdly, the peso is becoming encreasingly weak compared to the dollar even compared to a few years ago. All of that means that you can spend less and buy more when you go there! Depending on where you go, you can even find hostels or bed and breakfasts for as low as $10 a night! Just be careful to stay somewhere safe as there are still pockets of violence around the country.

3.Indonesia 

Who knew that you could find a little slice of heaven like Bali in an affordable price range? Thanks to an increase in the exchange rate between the dollar and the Indonesian currency, you can actually vacation in paradise for less that you would think. You can even find luxury 4 star hotels in Bali for around $50! If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of luxury for even further savings, you can still find decent hotels for around $20. And who cares what your room looks like because you’ll be spending most of your time at the beach anyway!

4. Peru 

Peru is home to one of the most beautiful sites in the world, Machu Picchu, and you can see it all for much less than you would think. You can stay at a hostel in nearby Cuzco for less than $10 a night and taxi rides are only a dollar or two to get you where you need to go. Peru is also home to great food that can be found for excellent deals.

5. Romania 

Do you want to visit Europe but can’t afford the expensive hotspots like London and Paris? Why not try a lesser know but still beautiful country in Eastern Europe like Romania that you might actually be able to afford? Regular hotels will cost around $30 a night while hostels are even cheaper at around $15. Spend your days exploring the medieval architecture and music festivals. Don’t forget to sample the local cuisine where your strong dollar buys you a lot of food for not a lot of bucks!

6. India 

The dollar has always been strong in India but it only keeps getting stronger. It has increased by another 30 percent just over the last few years. That means deals such as basic hotels for under $10 American dollars a night and luxury hotels for not much more! Indian food is wonderful and you can get it for very cheap at street vendors. And many deals can be made at the myriad street markets found all around India.

7. Guatemala 

via marte

via marte

Guatemala is a beautiful Central American country that you can visit for quite cheap! If you are willing to stay in a hostel, you can spend as little as $7 a night while resorts that often include meals start as low as $40. Travel while in country is cheap to, such as small boats that take you from town to town for around 1 to 4 dollars.

8. Morocco 

Want to visit the home of Casablanca? You can do it for cheaper than you might think! Hostels are a little more expensive than some of the other locations listed but still a good deal at $25 and they are quite nice, offering free breakfast, Wi-Fi and all day tea! You could get a real hotel for about $65 but with that kind of service, who needs it? Then you can spend your days haggling at the markets for the myriad cheap but quality goods such as cell phones, spices and ceramics.

9. Iceland 

via Dalia

via Dalia

If you think Iceland and you think it is just all ice, think again! It is actually home to a lot of really breathtaking scenery, including tons of waterfalls, geysers and lava fields, most of which you can view for free. The exchange rate in the country highly favors the American dollar due to Iceland’s recent economic collapse. That is bad for them, but good for American visitors who can view all of this splendor for pennies. Stay the night for around $30 to $40 a night and then spend the day taking in the sights for free!

10. Laos 

via Rocío

via Rocío

Laos is a good country to visit on a budget when you just want to relax. The whole country seems intent on making sure you relax to, even offering massages for around $3 to $6. For just a few bucks more, around $10, you can get a hotel room! Meals are cheap in Laos as well, from $1 dinners in noodle shops to $20 per person at the fanciest restaurants in town!

Continue the list on ChaCha

6 Ways To Be More Productive

Conquer your fruitless efforts and be more productive.

Being more productive will improve many different aspects of your life. Not only will your work quality increase but the amount of free time will increase due to the increased productivity and then you can pick up some hobby’s that you enjoyed doing before you were bogged down with work. While the tips below relate more towards work, they can be applied to other aspects of life that you strive to be more productive in such as, working out, family time, and side ventures.

1. Switch offices routinely.

OK, this is a luxury, but it’s not as expensive as it sounds. Most of us already venture out to Caribou to get a break from the office once in a while. I’m a big fan of the travel writer Paul Theroux, who has explained how visiting new places challenges our thinking. I’ve been known to take this to an extreme. I sometimes will switch offices–working in one place for a few days, then packing up my laptop and going to a different office altogether (sometimes, it’s a rented office downtown). My work gets a quick boost from the change in scenery.

 2. Don’t compensate for someone doing a poor job.

Apparently, not everyone agrees with me on this one, judging from some emails and Twitter feedback. I’ve posted on social networks before that it is not your job to compensate for someone else doing a poor job. Anyone in a leadership role might feel compelled to make amends for an under-performing employee, and I’ll admit there are times when that’s warranted. Your own productivity suffers when you view it as your job to constantly make up for the inefficiencies of others. Maybe Margaret in accounting just needs to finish that report on her own without your help.

3. Block out all distractions.

Like a sprinter who sometimes needs to move out in front of the pack, your productivity will benefit from times of extreme isolation. Turn up the volume on those expensive headphones and zone out completely, or go find a corner somewhere in the building and work by yourself. Take the extra steps to disable service on your phone for a bit and close out of Gmail. A marathon solitary session may help you crank out more work than you normally do in a group setting.

4. Find the right music.

Speaking of zoning out: I’m a big fan of using music as a productivity booster. This is more than just playing some speed metal to get you fired up. I’m writing this right now with a band called Wye Oak playing in the background–they’re an eclectic indie band with fantastic drums and dreamy vocals. Sometimes, I will find an amazing new artist like Atoms for Peace and listen to the whole album in one pass to help get a productivity gain (at least for 45 minutes). Find discounted iTunes gift cards online.

5. Get a new laptop.

You thought technology wasn’t going to help you stay productive? There are a few Luddites who argue that technology is actually distracting us from being productive. Apparently, they have not used one of the new Intel Haswell laptops. New models like the HP Chromebook 14 use this faster chip, and you’ll notice how spritely the system runs right away. Plus, a new laptop runs faster than one that’s bogged down with extra drivers. Discounted Apple and Best Buy gift cards can save you money on your next big computer purchase.

 6. Take a long break.

Here’s the most unconventional productivity booster of all. It might seem counterproductive, or maybe completely unproductive, but taking a break is a proven way to boost your efficiency; taking a long break can be even better. I’ve taken four hours off in the middle of the day, usually to just play a game of backgammon with my wife or read the newspaper. After a long break, I suddenly muster up the energy to whip through my work.

Source: Inc.

6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Budget

Make your budget less intimidating

 

 Get the most out of your budget If you don’t already have a personal budget, creating one will allow you to work towards financial freedom. Saving money and budgeting is essential for every household no matter the income/lifestyle. Getting that annual vacation, taking your family out to dinner, or saving for your emergency fund are all goals that can’t be achieved without the help of a personal budget. To get the lifestyle you want with the money you have here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your budget without having to     sacrifice the things you want. 

 

  1. Determine essential expenses. The first step in creating a budget is to determine your nonnegotiable or fixed expenses such as rent, car payments and utilities. You also can choose to put things like gas and groceries in this category. Add up these expenses, and subtract the total from your monthly income. The remaining amount is what’s available for discretionary spending: joining a gym, entertainment, shopping, travel and dining out.
  2. Keep track. Many personal finance and budgeting tools are mobile, and allow you to track where your money is going. You can make smart financial decisions such as whether or not to join that after work happy hour. Budgeting is flexible. You can always shift your priorities, saving some of those wants and needs for next month.
  3. Keep an emergency fund. You never know when your car might break down, when you’ll need to take time off from work for family issues or your AC will begin to leak. It’s important to be prepared for life’s unexpected turns by having an emergency fund to tap. If you have three to six months of expenses saved up, you can avoid taking on debt. If you don’t have a fund, start saving now. When something goes wrong, and it will, you won’t have to reach for your credit card or take out a loan to cover the cost.
  4. Dine in. No matter how you feel about food, one thing is for sure — you have to eat. There are plenty of ways to think smarter about what you spend on food. Eating out often costs more than cooking at home, so even if you hate cooking, it pays — literally — to do some reading up on easy, fast recipes. You’ll avoid the temptation of calling for takeout seven days a week. Consider making large batches of your favorite recipes over the weekend. Then, bring smaller lunch portions to work the next week.
  5. Evaluate your housing costs. If you’re paying for digs that are beyond your means, it might be worth finding a roommate to reduce your living expenses. Carefully furnishing and maintaining your home also can cut expenses. Opt for used furniture and appliances instead of new items. Take the time to clean and refurbish them yourself. Extend that do-it-yourself attitude toward maintenance, too. You can solve many household problems without hiring an expensive contractor.
  6. Be reasonable. Don’t plan a budget you will never be able to keep. Just like with a diet or an exercise program, it’s important to be realistic. If you’ve never been able to stick to a savings plan, or are a compulsive spender, don’t expect this to change overnight. Instead, start by setting small goals so you can build the confidence to tackle bigger changes down the road. It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Using these tips from DailyFinanace will get you started and help you to create and implement a respectable budget. Even with a budget there are ways to reduce spending on daily household items. Using coupons, sale shopping, and purchasing discounted gift cards from websites such as GiftCardRescue.com are all helpful in stretching your hard earned money.

 

Photo Credit: Emilie Goossens via weheartit  

Top 11 Ways to Save Money

Thinks to do that will subtly save money

 Who wouldn’t like to have a little extra money sitting around every month? Small things that don’t seem like much ,add up, leaving you with extra cash. By incorporating these tips into your daily life you could be planning your next dream vacation from the money that you have saved without sacrificing the things you want. As Benjamin Franklin tells us; “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

Save money

1. Set Your Own Personal Budget

These clever tips help keep your cash where it belongs — in your pocket!
First things first: Learn how to set your own personal budget with our easy-to-use worksheet.

2. Buy Bulk with a Friend

Know your needs. Bulk items are only worth buying if you can use them before they expire. Consider shopping with a friend and splitting perishables such as meat and dairy products.

3. Inexpensive Art

Take a photo of something you love — a dog that comes every time you call, a keepsake with beautiful cursive and a colorful stamp, you’re lucky Tuesday-night poker deck. You can blow it up with some hassle-free Internet help, then frame it, hang it, and be enormously happy every time you walk by.

4. Flavored Water

Instead of buying pricy flavored bottled drinks at the supermarket, add a hint of flavor to tap or filtered water by infusing it with slices of lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber and mint. Set a pitcher of your flavored water on your desk: You’ll drink more if the pitcher is there as a reminder, and you won’t have to buy multiple bottles of water, either!

5. Make Clothes Last Longer

Prepare your clothes for the washer by closing zippers, fastening hooks, and turning items inside out. Wash darks together using the cold-water cycle so they don’t bleed onto lighter clothes — and cold water is crucial, since it lowers your water-heating costs. Line-drying dark items will also help maintain their original appearance — and you’ll save on heating costs of the dryer.

6. Store Wine on a Budget

Skip buying a pricey wine refrigerator that needs to be powered at all times. If you have storage room in the corner of a cellar or at the bottom of a cool, dark closet, use that instead — the money you save can go toward building your collection.

7. Stock Up on Scraps

Reserve carrot ends and peelings, celery leaves, garlic trimmings, the outer layers of onions, and wilting herbs and their bare stems (such as parsley and thyme) in a resealable bag. Store shrimp shells or roast-chicken bones separately. Freeze, then make stock from scratch whenever the mood strikes (Tip: Remove onion skins before using; they can turn a perfect stock into a bitter one).

8. Budget Vases

Instead of shelling out cash for a pricy vase, make your own out of a glass bottle and some enamel paint.

9. Organize a Clothing Swap

Chic, savvy, conservation-minded consumers now update their wardrobes by taking part in clothing swaps. All you have to do is gather up gently worn items from your closet, bring them to a central location, and choose from others’ castoffs. Find one through an organization such as Clothing Swap, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, and Buffalo Exchange, or consider hosting your own. Invite friends, set a minimum number of pieces for each to bring, and trade away.

10. Pass on the Paper Towels

Instead of spending money on pack after pack of paper towels, buy reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet and don’t let go, even when wet. When you’re finished, toss the towels in the wash and reuse. (One brand to try: Method, available at Target and Office Depot.)

11. Purchase Discounted Gift Cards

Buying discounted gift cards from site such as GiftCardRescue.com, can help you save money on everything from big home improvement projects to groceries. Most major retailers are available and it is even possible to receive electronic codes for online purchases! Why not save money every time you shop at your favorite stores?

For more on money saving tips check out the MarthaStewart website.

Photo Credit:  LauraLu via we heart this

5 Original Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine’s Day can be a pretty depressing and over commercialized holiday. Sitting around eating ice-cream and crying about being single doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend this Valentine’s Day. Even if you are taken, try one of these new and unconventional ways to celebrate this day of love.

Valentine's Day Activities

1. Celebrate your friends.

Throw a coed Valentine’s Day party or a GNO (Girls Night Out). Just because you have a different kind of love with your besties than you might with a non-platonic love, doesn’t mean it can’t also be celebrated.


2. Invest in yourself.

Hit up the beauty counters and try a new product. This could be anything­ — an iconic red lipstick that screams kiss me now, a shimmery powder that gives you a glow that no Instagram filter could or falsies (and no, I’m talking about lashes!). For guys, this could be a new shaving kit or a tie. Celebrating love means loving yourself and feeling attractive. This feeling must come from within, but adding something to your exterior can give you a supplemental boost, which can go a long way.


3. Get creative for a cause.

Help make Valentine’s Day cards or a playlist for a local hospital or charitable organization. Do it with your significant other, family or friends. You may also consider sending greeting cards through companies that give to nonprofit organizations. Some people need a little more love than others (and your contributions can help make a difference in their lives). Get discounted gift cards to purchase your crafts for additional savings.

Continue the list on EliteDaily

Photo Credit: Burhan Sylhet via Google +

 

7 Habits That Are Bad for Your Health

Change those habits that could be bad for your health

If there were small things that you could change to improve your over all health would you do it? Some minor details in your everyday life, that might not seem like a big deal, could be running havoc on your body. check out 7 habits that you can change to improve different aspects of your life. Cleanse your body of those “bad for your health” habits with a discounted heath and beauty gift card!

Bad habits for your health

1. Falling Asleep with Your Makeup On

What’s the big deal? If you’re lucky, sleeping in a face full of makeup will only leave behind a pimple or two. But make it an all-the-time thing and you’re asking for clogged pores and a breeding ground for bacteria to run wild on. The worst culprit? Foundation, according to Elissa Lunder, MD, FITNESS advisory board member and owner of Dermatology Partners, Inc. in Massachusetts. In some cases, Dr. Lunder has even seen people develop milia — small, hard bumps that form on the skin. And while she says sleeping in eye makeup won’t cause your lashes to fall out or give you pinkeye (whew!), dozing in mascara can cause eye swelling. But don’t stop the suds at your face! Forgetting to wash your brushes can lead to staph infections as well as aid in spreading cold sores or other illnesses. Um…gross?

Break it: If you had a late night and find yourself waking up to raccoon eyes, wash your face with a normal cleanser and a washcloth. Steer clear of facial scrubs, which will only irritate the skin more, says Dr. Lunder. If you’re guilty of this beauty blunder more than once a week, stock up on pre-moistened makeup clothes, available at Walmart, which Dr. Lunder says is better than nothing. Since the bathroom sink is filled with fungus, mold, mildew, and bacteria, make sure your brushes are on a clean towel, and aim to wash them once a week in hot, soapy water. If you have a cold sore, toss any sponges or products (like lipstick) that came in contact with it.

2. Wearing Flats to Work, Then Changing into Heels

What’s the big deal? ”It’s a common misconception that flat shoes are good for your feet,” says Megan Leahy, DPM, a podiatrist at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute in Chicago. “The ballerina-style shoes that roll up and fit in your purse are even worse because they offer no stability or cushioning.” A common ailment Dr. Leahy sees when women wear flats that don’t offer enough support isplantar fasciitis, inflammation of the thick tissue at the bottom of the foot. Sky-high heel wearers can also face problems, ranging from foot sprains to broken ankles after taking a tumble in them. Wear the wrong shoes for too long and Dr. Leahy says it may lead to prolonged pain, physical therapy, and even cortisone injections.

Break it: It may not win you an award for street style, but Dr. Leahy recommends wearing supportive athletic shoes to and from work. After wearing heels all day, take some time to do a few calf stretches against a wall, especially before hitting the gym. This will relieve some of the tightness in the foot. If pain occurs, take a break from your heels as much as you can and invest in Dr. Scholl’s For Her High Heel Insoles ($9.99, drugstores nationwide) for extra heel cushioning, or shoes with built-in arch support, like Cole Haan shoes that are built with Nike Air technology.

Continue at FitnessMagazine.com

 

Photo Credit: Christina via we heart it 

10 Household Items Every 30 Year Old Should Have

 

Turning thirty is a new milestone in life. Time to get rid of the bean bag chair (unless it is lovesac), make shift furniture, and hand me down towels. Everyone has different measures for success; however, here is a hard list of 10 household items that need to be in your apartment, or house, by the time you have reached 30.

 

1) A real couch. 

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Not an uncomfortable futon, not a misshapen hand-me-down and definitely not a pile of giant pillows. A couch is the hub of your social life, where friends gather to talk and hangout. It’s where you spend most of your alone time when you are awake. Buying a real couch is an investment and one that shouldn’t be rushed into lightly. Couches need to be tested for nap-ability, should be stain-resistant, and of course must fit the space. Couches shouldn’t dominate but need to reflect personality — yours. So are you a leather person or slipcovers with a matching ottoman? We happen to like thrift stores for a lot of things, but prefer our couches new. Yeah, the old bed bug thing. Plus every red wine stain has a story and we prefer the story to be ours.

2) Your Grandma’s china

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Sure it has dainty little flowers on it, and you’d never in a million years have picked it out on your own to buy. But it’s time to just hush up and take it before your sister stakes her claim. Grandma’s china will grow on you. You will come to cherish it and the family connections it represents. You will value it and pass it along to your children and hopefully they will pass it along to theirs. Just package it up carefully, stash it away and reopen it in a decade. (You may delay thanking us for this advice until then.) The more enlightened among you will, of course, gush with gratitude that you were given such an incredible gift and use it regularly.

Check out how discounted gift cards can help you save on purchasing home improvement products at GiftCardRescue.com.

Continue reading the list on HuffingtonPost

10 Caribbean Destinations You Can Afford

Whether you are looking for a cultural enriching get away or a relaxing beach retreat, the Caribbean is never disappointing.  Your next Caribbean vacation is more affordable then you think. Get the sunscreen and flip flops ready. Here is a list of 10 perfect Caribbean destinations for those looking for fun in the sun, on a budget.

Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

 Leave it to a Rockefeller to turn an unassuming patch of land into the Caribbean’s priciest island. When the financier Laurance Rockefeller opened the Little Dix resort on Virgin Gorda in the 1960s, he set a tone of luxurious seclusion that’s still prized on the island. With an average nightly rate of $321 per night for a double room, Virgin Gorda is no one’s idea of a bargain getaway. But you can still find a great place to stay for much less.

The key to keeping costs down on Virgin Gorda is to think beyond the resort walls. The hundreds of vacation-rental options listed on sites like VRBO and TripAdvisoroffer excellent value. For instance, the Coffee & Tea Absolute Beachfront Cottages has a five-out-of-five rating on TripAdvisor and rates from $171 per night. There’s also the popular and affordable Guavaberry Spring Bay Vacation Homes, a cluster of ocean-view one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with rates starting at $160 per night in spring and summer and $250 during the winter high season.

Anguilla

From the caress of the powdery white sand underfoot to the sea’s constantly shifting kaleidoscope of azures, there’s a delight for every sense on Anguilla. It’s a place that shrugs off the high-rise beach-vacation vibe in favor of simple relaxed elegance. But that unpretentious polish can come with a high price tag. And while the average nightly rate of $315 delivers some pretty special experiences—think watching the sun set over the ocean from your balcony’s private plunge pool at the Viceroy Anguilla or savoring a towel-side delivery of sorbet on the beach at Cap Juluca—the rarefied pleasures of the island don’t have to be expensive.

Dotting the island are smaller and locally owned properties, many of them on some of the island’s best beaches—where you can expect to pay significantly less than you would at Anguilla’s famed upscale resorts. Rooms are sometimes modest and amenities simple, but you’ll still have perfect proximity to the real reason for being there: gorgeous stretches of beach; warm, clear water; and plenty of island charm. At the intimate Anacaona Boutique Hotel, April rates start at $160 per night. And a recent Expedia search uncovered April rates of around $202 per night at the Anguilla Great House, which offers rooms just steps from the beach on magnificent Rendezvous Bay. Browse the Anguilla Tourist Board’s list of small hotels for more affordable inspiration.

Additional Savings Tip: Even if you don’t stay at a fancy resort, you can still sample the high life. Book a spa treatment or go to dinner at a resort, and then make extra time to enjoy the vibe, the views, and the grounds.

Additional Savings Tip: Famous for its natural beauty, many of the best things to do on Virgin Gorda are either free or dazzlingly inexpensive. For instance, entry into The Baths National Park, a collection of sea pools created by massive granite boulders, is just $3 per person.

For more ways to save money on vacations, consider purchasing discounted gift cards available at GiftCardRescue.com and make that dream vacation a reality.

Read the full list at HuffingtonPost

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