Taking Control of Your Finances

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions that focus on money. We want to save. We want to clear debts, or we just want to have more money at the end of next year than we do now. Most of these resolutions fail or get left behind with winter.

We often fail these, and other resolutions because we don’t have a plan or any kind of idea of how we are going to manage them. In fact, a study has shown that 4 in 10 adults feel as though their finances are out of control. So, instead of making wild, baseless resolutions which set you up to fail, why not focus on taking control of your finances over the next 12 months?

Understand Your Situation

The first thing that any of us needs to do when it comes to taking control of our finances is learning more about our own situation. Your financial situation is unique to you. None of us are in exactly the same boat, and there’s no one guide that you can read that will help you to fix all of your problems. It all depends on where you are right now.

So, stop avoiding bank statements or bills. Check your balances, learn about the interest rates on what you owe and how much your debts are costing you. Look at what you spend and save every month, and work out how long it would take you to repay debts or save what you need to, at your current rates of saving or repayment. It’s also worth looking at your credit score, which can have an effect on your finances going forward.

Learn More About Your Options

Once you understand your finances, you are better equipped to learn more about your options. Which again are unique to your situation. We don’t all have the same options when it comes to borrowing and investing. If you want to make some changes to your financial situation, you need to learn more about these options. Read about investments and savings accounts, learn about cryptocurrency and blockchain fork. Make sure you have a firm understanding before making any financial commitments.

Set Up a Budget

Budgeting is the easiest way to take control of your finances, to understand them and to spot any places that you could be making changes and improvements. Set up a simple budgeting spreadsheet and start taking the time to fill it in. When you start making cuts, make sure you are realistic and that you don’t commit to anything that you can’t afford or won’t be able to stick to.

Set Yourself Goals

Most of us want to save more money, and this is often the aim of deciding to take a greater control of our finances. With this in mind, setting goals is a great idea. Set yourself a realistic monthly target, using your budget and new found knowledge of your finances for help.

A crucial element of taking control of your finances is understanding them. With an understanding of your situation and your options you are able to start making informed decisions, and you can find that things quickly begin to improve.

Some Great Recipes Using Bertolli Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tomato Soup with Homemade Olive Oil Croutons

Prep time: 10 minutes
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 3 Grilled red bell peppers in oil
  • 1 Shallot
  • ½ Cup Bertolli Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus additional for brushing on bread 
  • 3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 10 Basil leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices crusty bread

  1. Cut small cross in bottom of tomatoes and submerge in boiling water 30 seconds.
  2. Let tomatoes cool in ice water 30 seconds then remove skins.
  3. In blender, blend tomatoes, red bell peppers, shallot, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper, to taste, until mixture is smooth.
  4. Add mixture to large pot and heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Cut bread slices, brush with olive oil and grill 2 minutes per side over medium-high heat until visible grill marks have formed.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cake

Total time: 20 minutes
Makes 9 servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 4½ ounces (about ⅔ cup) sugar
  • 4½ ounces (about ½ cup + 1 tablespoon) Bertolli Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5¼ ounces (2/3 cup) pumpkin puree
  • 4½ ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ ounce (about 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) cocoa powder
  • ⅛ ounce (a generous ½ teaspoon) salt
  • 1/10 ounce (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix eggs with sugar thoroughly and beat until bubbles form. Slowly add in olive oil while continuing to stir mixture.
  3. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, pumpkin and baking powder; using whisk, mix well.
  4. Pour into cake mold lined with baking paper and bake 15 minutes.
  5. Let cool and remove cake from mold.

Amazing Places To Visit When You're In Bangalore

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka, is known for its immense natural beauty, so much so that it is called as the ‘Garden City. Its’ other name is ‘Bengaluru’ and it is a home to many regal palaces as well as top educational institutes such as IIM, NEFT, IISC etc. Across the country as well as abroad, Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India, having so many foreign as well as local IT companies spread out all across it.
Best Time To Visit Bangalore  
Enjoy the beauty of this magnificent, modern city by visiting it during the winter season which falls between October and February. You can also enjoy it between March and May when the weather is a little warm but still pleasant.
Historical Places To Visit In Bangalore
Enjoy the city’s regal past, which has witnessed many rulers and changes over the centuries by visiting these places:
  • Tipu Sultan’s Palace –This grand palace is now a museum, Built in 1781, it showcases beautiful paintings, striking arcs and breathtakingly beautiful interiors, balconies on the east and west were at one point of time used to conduct durbars by Tipu Sultan.
  • Bangalore Palace – This grand structure displays Tudor style architecture which includes turrets, towers and battlements. It is spread across45000 square feet, showcases impressive floral motifs, relief paintings, cornices, carvings and modern interiors.
  • Vidhan Soudha – Covering a majestic 5, 00,000 square, this enormous structure houses the legislative assembly and various government offices. The four-storied structure was built in 1956 and is flooded with multi colored lights in the evenings on Sundays, making it best for photo shoots and sightseeing.
  • Attara Kacheri – This striking red color building, going up to two stories was built in 1867, under Tipu Sultan’s directions. Enjoy its neoclassic architecture and majestic structure, which now houses the high court and many other lower courts
  • Lalbagh Botanical Gardens – Built in 1760 by the ruler, Hyder Ali, this Mughal style garden covers 240 acres and gets its name from the beautiful red roses that blooms throughout the year,
Food Culture Of Bangalore
The city’s best restaurants and snack corners offer a delectable array of dishes. Here’s the best to check out:
  • Hari’s Super Sandwich, Jayanagar – They offer different kinds of sandwiches like corn sandwich, chocolate sandwich, cheese sandwich. Chaat lovers can also try out sev puri and panipuri.
  • Brahmin’s Coffee, Basavanagudi –– Step in here to enjoy delicious South Indian food ranging from soft and fluffy Idlis served with butter and chutney. Vadas are crispy and yummy and you can also try the different baths like chow-chow bath to the Kesaribath, do not miss the aromatic coffee to wind up the meal
  • Smiley’s Café, Ashok Nagar– Cozy ambience with both indoor and outdoor seating. It has a menu that’s made up of everything right from Starter items like Chicken 65, Breads, and Burgers to main course items like Malai Kofta, Paneer Butter Masala, Naan and desserts like brownies.
  • Koshys, Ashok Nagar – It’s a lovely multi-cuisine restaurant with an old world charm but the best place to enjoy a typical western dish like Pineapple Steak, Roast Chicken with stuffing or  something very traditional like Tandoori-Ka-Paratha and Palak Paneer. .
  • Nagarjuna, Residency Road- It serves typical Andhra cuisine right from the traditional meals, biryani like Kodu or Mamsam Biryani to lighter snacks Mutton Kheema Balls or Prawn Sholay Kebab.
  • Koramangala Social – Lovely rooftop restaurant, where you can enjoy fun time enjoying gourmet dishes like Fully Loaded Nachos, Fish Taco, Goan Prawn Curry, Veg Triple Shezwan etc
Shopping Places In Bangalore
Shopaholics will find the city a treasure island of shop varieties like none other. Some of the hotspots which are: any shopper’s delight are :
  • MG Road – Step in here to do a complete clothes shopping.  You can find everything ranging from designer labels to discounted pieces from street vendors.
  • Commercial Street – It is a shopper’s paradise with stores selling items ranging from jewelry to clothing and even home décor.
  • Chickpea Market – You will find the enormous range of sarees offered here to be a little overwhelming, given the fact that it has practically every available design, color, style and material.
  • Avenue Street – Book lovers will enjoy shopping here with the vast number of shops selling all kinds of books! Even though the Kindle is popular, still you can find many shops here to be crowded.
  • Electronic Market – Explore this place to find the most amazing gadgets, electronic goodies, spare parts and much more. There is something for everyone ranging from hobbyists to serious buyers.
Tourist Places In Bangalore
Enjoy the culture and tradition of this majestic city by visiting:
  • Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum - An extravagant science museum, it’s a visual treat with interesting sections such as the dinosaur corner, space gallery, electro technic gallery and 3D theatre.
  • Ulsoor Lake – A beautiful lake, spreading about 1.5km and surrounded by the most picturesque landscape, visit it to enjoy its beauty, boating, for taking photos and  enjoying walks.
  • Karnataka Folk Museum – Explore the state’s rich folk heritage in this museum,  where you can see a wide range of art items, costumes, recorded music collections, toys and much more.
  • Government Museum And Venkatappa Art Gallery – Travel back in time, checking out the most beautiful art pieces and items from bygone eras housed in absolute perfection here
  • Cubbon Park – Built in 1870, it is known as the Sri Chamarajendra Park. Indulge yourself with its sprawling acres of greenery, dotted with usual flowers, treat ad even rare plant species.
Recommended Stays In Bangalore
It should be noted that Hotels in Bangalore are luxurious retreats where you can enjoy a comfortable stay, food and enjoy access to key planes of interest. If you don’t want to splurge, check out budget hotels where you can enjoy comfortable and spacious rooms, multi-cuisine restaurant and travel desk.  However when a more luxurious form of staying is needed check out any of the opulent five-star retreats where you can enjoy exotic rooms, gourmet food, fitness center, conference halls etc.

Enjoy a fun time in this sprawling and beautiful city staying in the best hotels and enjoying the delicious cuisine!

Review: Fiskars 3 Piece Fabric Cutting Set

Monday, November 26, 2018

Reviewed by Ria
This past summer I had splurged and bought the “Awesome Ocean” quilt kit by Elizabeth Hartman but after taking a quick glance through the instructions, realized that this would be an impossible task without a rotary cutter, mat and ruler. Fiskars was there to help out with their 3-piece fabric cutting set which includes a large 18” x 24” self healing cutting matt, a 45mm rotary tool and a 6.5” x 24.5” inch ruler

The mat: Generously sized to provide enough space for your biggest cutting projects. Love the white on grey colors/print (reversed colors on the other side) easy to see through the ruler, measurements clearly marked as well as grid outline. Self healing which can be cut on again and again without damage to your board. I put a bit of pressure into my cutting just to see how well this would hold up making multiple passes in the same spot and I couldn’t even see my cut marks! Recommend a wipe with a damp cloth every now and again to keep the fuzzies/lint off. Slightly large for storing on a sailboat (!) but I found that I could keep it laying flat by putting it underneath my mattress, which keeps it out of the heat/sunlight and to make sure it doesn’t curl.
The ruler: Thick acrylic with large numbers and easy to read grid with increments of 1/8th of an inch. This ruler also features a highlighted seam allowance along the side – perfect for cutting strips- as well as 30, 45 and 60 degree lines. Non-skid markings on the back of the ruler help to keep it in place while cutting your fabric.
The rotary cutter: Once you have used one of these to cut fabric, it’s impossible to go back to regular scissors! The round cutter allows you to effortlessly cut through multiple layers of fabric at once (perfect for quilt blocks!), while getting smooth, clean lines. This cutter is a standard stick style and allows cutting with either right or left hand. Easy to change your blade when it gets dull with a simple screw knob. The cutter also has a retractable safety guard/blade protector.

Christmas is coming up quick and this would make an amazing gift for the crafter or quilter in your life. Throw in a bundle or two of fat quarters and you have the perfect starter-quilting kit! Thanks FISKARS for the always great-quality items! And stay tuned for more posts on my quilt progress!

Your Guide To A Frugal But Fantastic Holiday Season

It’s not even December yet and people are already starting to celebrate the holidays. As the days go on, more and more trees, wreaths, and decorations are making an appearance, and people are becoming more animated as they talk about the big day. Christmas. There - we said it!

If you're not looking forward to the big day because you’re worried about your budget, fear not. There are many ways you can enjoy a frugal but fantastic holiday season with the people you love. Read on and get some suggestions so you can feel more relaxed the entire month of December!

Figure Out Your Spending Plan
Start by figuring out your spending plan. Make a list of people you’d like to buy for. Remember, you’re not obligated to buy for anybody. It would be nice if we could give absolutely everybody a gift, but when you’re on a tighter budget you need to be smart. You shouldn’t buy anybody a gift because you feel under pressure, or because you know they are going to buy you one. Gift giving should feel good, and we should be comfortable with the money we spend and the people we give to.

When you have your list of people you’re going to buy for, write out a budget next to each one. It should be a number you’re comfortable with spending. When you have this written down, you’ll be forced then to get creative with your budget, rather than going over your budget because you’re worried it’ll look like you haven’t bought certain people a lot. It should never be about the quantity of gifts, so remember that!

See Where You Can Raise Some Extra Cash
See if you can raise some extra cash so that you don’t have to worry as much. Can you do some extra hours at work? Perhaps you could offer some freelance services on sites like Fiverr, or even do some surveys online? You might not make a fortune, but you’ll be able to top up your Christmas budget. Perhaps you can sell a few things you no longer use. If you have an old bike, for instance, can help you. There will be all kinds of ways you can raise more money if you’re determined.

Look For Deals And Coupons
Don’t buy without looking for deals and coupons first. You may be able to find ‘3 gifts for 2’ deals, and hunting through a few sites before making a purchase might get you 10% off or free delivery as a minimum. Taking a little extra time is all it takes.

Come Up With Ideas For Making Gifts And Decorations
Why not make some of your own gifts and decorations? Homemade gifts tend to be far more thoughtful. You could even make cookies and cakes for work colleagues and distant family members if you want to give them at least something.

Re-gift Items
If there are items gifted to you that you know you won’t use, there’s no shame in regifting them!

Don't Give Cards This Year

Cards are waste of trees and money. Send an electronic card instead and leave them out this year.

The IG Charcoal BBQ-Grilling to Perfection

Friday, November 23, 2018

If your looking to entertain in style, you'd be looking for the IG Charcoal BBQ- perfect for your outdoor gatherings, like sporting events, family reunions, holiday get togethers, you name it- endless possibilities. Lots of grilling space, great for more meat and all those skewers you'll want to be making for the hungry crowd!

IG Charcoal BBQ is a stainless steel charcoal barbecue. This barbecue is multi-functional with a grill top that is made especially for cooking skewers. The grill also has other features such as a rotating charcoal handle for raising and lowering the heat level of the charcoal. The grill comes with a sliding ash collector tray for easy and fast cleanup. Lastly, the grill has folding side trays and easy installation.
  • Folding Side Trays
  • Rotating Charcoal Handle
  • Ash Collector Tray
  • Stainless Steel
  • Storage Space

Investing In Your Driver Safety: What Are The Essentials?

If you think that passing your driving test is the most difficult part of the whole process of getting on the road, you're about 75% right, but once you get over the mechanical issues, and get into the right head space, you'll have to start thinking very carefully about your own safety. It's not just about seat belts, bumpers, and defensive driving, but it's something that happens the more you get used to the roads. While the first year after you've passed your test is the prime time for accidents, in actual fact, it will take a few years for you to encounter the various types of drivers on the road, but also come to terms with your own abilities. Passing your test doesn't mean you are a perfect driver, and from a financial perspective, you need to invest in your own driver safety. How can we do this?

Picking The Appropriate Vehicle For Our Skills

The bind we are in when we start out our road journey relates to what we can get with our limited money. This usually means we invest in a second-hand car, or we spend a little bit more on something that's good quality. And we can spend quite a bit of money on the essentials, but it's far better for you to have some money stockpiled so you can get a good quality car. Because you're in this precarious position at the very beginning where are you may not have much help with regards to picking the right car, but also, the lack of experience means that you don't really know what you want yet, safety is paramount. This means that not only do we have to pick a car that is preferably not second-hand but be sure that the car we do get is appropriate for our skills. While most modern vehicles come equipped with numerous safety features, it can be more expensive. However, you can get a car on lease, so you have a vehicle that's of a high standard, and as modern as possible. And while you may be paying a bit more for this, you will reap the benefits, not just in terms of warranty on the vehicle, but it's easier to drive than an old car. The big problem we all have with regards to picking a car is that it needs to be cheap. Instead, we could sidestep this and pick an ex-demonstration model, or take a bit more time to find the right car. There is no rush, and after we’ve passed our test, the temptation can be to get on the road with any car. This isn't the best plan of action.

Equip The Vehicle

Driver safety is one of those things that we can talk about too much, but it's essential. The necessary equipment we need to have in our vehicle doesn't just relate to the maintenance of the car, such as a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, or a spare tire, but it's also about the implements that make us safer on the road in general. It's a fact, but multiple types of car accidents are caused by distracted driving. These days, we are more susceptible to distractions, not just because there are so many gadgets in the modern vehicle, but the one thing we always carry about our person, our smartphone, means that, when we are flooring it down a speedy highway, and our phone buzzes, we can feel tempted to glance down to see who has text. We know at the back of our minds this is not sensible, and to offset this, one of the most necessary items of equipment we need in the vehicle isn't a phone holder, but it's an app that can stop us looking at our phones. There are plenty of apps out there- some that read out texts for you and others that disable your ability to text while driving. While we all know it's common sense, the temptation to text when we're on a quiet road can get the better of us. And if we ever get in an accident, which is more common than ever, we have to reduce these distractions where we can. In addition to this, dash cams are more popular now, as you can purchase an app that does this, and as the potential for accidents these days is much higher, you will need evidence if something happens.

The Learning Curve  

Defensive driving is something we can learn about online, but if we're after the tangible experience, a rather than heading on YouTube for a couple of video clips, we need to get out there with a professional. Depending on where you are in the world, there are additional courses that show you how to get more out of your driving ability. While a lot of this can be done with experience, many insurance companies provide a plug-in device that measures your ability to drive safely. The incentive of getting one of these is that it can reduce your insurance premium. And while you may find yourself at the mercy of frustrated dangerous drivers, we all know that they're not being particularly safe. It's a very precarious position. We can choose to follow the herd, especially for surrounded by dangerous drivers and turn into one ourselves over time, or we can stand our ground, and drive to the best of our ability.

When we’ve passed our driving test, the safety of ourselves and our passengers cannot be overestimated. The sheer excitement of being on the road can overtake any modicum of common sense. It's vital that we invest in our abilities to be safe, not just via the usual approaches, but also, taking the opportunity to address our skills, and improve on them when necessary. For many, the financial incentive through our insurance policy when we have so many years of no claims is enough, but there are other ways. When we’re starting out, we're looking for the cheapest options, because it's a shock to the system that we have to invest in something that potentially drains us of our money, but the importance of taking the time to look at our abilities and invest what we can is essential.

How Real Estate Agents Can Protect Themselves from a Career Ending Mistake

As soon as you obtain your Real Estate license, you will be keen to get stuck into it. You’ll be eager to show properties to potential clients, prepare paperwork, discuss property listing details, and negotiate deals.
But before you seal you’re first deal, there’s one thing you need to consider.
An exciting deal can quickly turn into a nightmare if one of your clients decides that you have been negligent and they decide to take legal action against you. As a real estate agent, you should consider purchasing Professional Liability (PL) insurance even before you open your doors for business.
What are my risks as a Real Estate agent?
A Real Estate agent's services have a higher exposure to risk than many other professional businesses due to the large amount of money involved with each transaction. Your clients can lose a lot of money if you make a mistake.
If a client believes they suffered monetary loss due to your flawed advice or conduct, you could find yourself in the middle of a costly lawsuit.
Some of your main exposures as a Real Estate agent include:
·       Violating a state's real estate regulations
·       Acting Negligently- Failing to disclose information about the property or missing deadlines that result in financial harm to your client
·       Failing to act in the client's best interests
·       Making a banking or inspection error - While you are not directly responsible for these errors, you are likely to be named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
How do I protect myself and my real estate business from a lawsuit?
There are a couple of ways you can protect yourself from any unforeseen lawsuits. Starting with conducting frequent risk management assessments and secondly by purchasing a Professional Liability insurance policy.
Risk Management - Proactive Measure
Having a risk management plan is a proactive way to avoid getting sued. An effective risk management plan should include these elements:
·       Documenting all communication with a client.
·       Creating clear procedures for everything you do from filing paperwork to communicating with other agents
·       Keeping up to date on relevant legislation
·       Recommending only trusted inspectors and appraisers to your clients.
·       Offering advice on aspects of the business you are knowledgeable about and referring your clients to others when you are not.
Professional Liability Insurnce: What does it cover?
A Professional Liability policy provides coverage against lawsuits that allege financial harm due to your professional services or from following your expert advice.
There are a multitude of expenses that come with fighting your case in the court. One of the biggest (and most crucial) covered expenses is the cost of hiring an attorney. You need to be able to afford a good attorney that specializes in cases like yours. Another significant expense is a settlement or a judgment awarded against you. Your Professional Liability policy will provide financial coverage for other expenses including administrative and other legal costs.
Depending on the carrier, the policy may provide for temporary staff and contractors acting on your behalf. As with all other insurance policies, this policy is not limitless. A typical limit of coverage is $1M or $2M, depending on the size of your company and your preferences. There are different levels of cover available which can provide higher levels of coverage.

Why do I need a professional liability policy?
In our highly litigious society, it's not a question of if you'll get sued, but when. As a realtor, you work with many clients and juggle many different tasks. Eventually, a mistake is likely to happen and unfortunately, when it comes to buying and selling properties, a mistake is usually a costly one.
Finally, it's important to remember that if your business is not incorporated, your personal assets are at risk. If you do not have an insurance policy or the funds in your business to defend your case, you could end up losing your home and as well as other assets. Your wages can also be garnished for the foreseeable future.
 Professional Liability insurance policy is a critical component of your overall risk management plan. Just as you protect yourself and your vehicle by purchasing Auto insurance, Professional Liability insurance protects you and your business and provides your customers with peace of mind.
Saving a few hundred dollars a month now, might mean having to come up with thousands of dollars out of pocket if you are sued. BizInsure can help you find the right coverage for you. Click here to receive instant quotes from our leading partners.

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