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12 Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season
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Tis the season to be jolly, to give more than to receive, to enjoy the company of your loved ones, and to overspend…right?

A survey by McCrindle found that 66 percent of consumers are expecting to spend the same as they did last year, compared with just 49 percent saying the same a year ago. Meanwhile, just 20 percent say they’ll be looking to spend less this year, compared with a third who said the same last year. So that means fewer consumers on the whole are looking to tighten their holiday spending habits (that should make retailers happy).

However, thanks to our good friends at Forbes, we’ve uncovered twelve things you can do to make the most of the holiday season, without giving up a month’s rent. Let’s take a look…

  1. Know your budget’s boundaries. Establishing and keeping to your budget is essential to keep your sanity and wallet intact.
  2. Make a spreadsheet. Keep your gift recipients tracked and organized in the same way you would a budget. Set maximum amounts for each and write down cash-saving ideas next to each name.
  3. Ignore the urge to splurge. Give only what you can afford. It may be the season of giving, but no one expects you to subsist on ramen noodles in the year ahead in order to pay off your father’s new iPad.
  4. Call a family (or friends) meeting. Discuss how presents will be doled out among family and friends. Maybe they’d rather do a dinner or a Secret Santa exchange instead of shelling out their life savings. Wouldn’t that be novel?
  5. Think before you buy. Save yourself from buyer’s remorse by carefully considering how much you’re comfortable spending—and then aim to spend half of that. You’ll start paying more attention to sales on quality goods around you.
  6. Gift an experience to enjoy with you—like a free community concert at the skating rink. Besides, experiences trump material possessions every time. No, really! Your grandmother was right about that. Read why here.
  7. Use gift cards as a last resort. Gift cards seem like a great idea, but can often cost more than the gift itself. (And the premium you pay for regretting to take the time to think up a gift idea from the heart is often not worth it.)
  8. When it comes to (almost) strangers, sentimental gifts work wonders. It’s nice to think of getting a gift for the lobby guard at the office who you say hello to every day—but that bottle of champagne may be overdoing it. Try a heartfelt card to show your appreciation instead.
  9. Say no to impulse buys. Seriously. Buyer’s remorse is for real. Sure, the holidays are just around the corner and the time crunch is fueling your amygdala (the little emotional nugget in your brain that feeds feelings of panic), but impulse buys are never a good idea. Never.
  10. Only travel if it’s practical. Going home for Christmas if you live far from your family may be a tradition—but if it’s hard on your bank account and not pressing, it might be better to find some (literal) middle ground during the off-season. Or a computer with a Skype account.
  11. Think homemade. It sounds cheesy, but homemade gifts are both more meaningful and more cost-effective than store-bought gifts. In fact, a survey by CreditDonkey found that 68 percent of women and 43 percent of men want homemade gifts. Pinteresting indeed.
  12. Set up a holiday savings account. Set aside a little bit of money just for the holidays every once in a while. Treat it as a regular monthly bill outside of your normal savings plan. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll end up collecting.

Image of online shopping from Shutterstock

Comments | Tagged under gifts, shopping, christmas, money
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How to Perform a Self Breast Exam
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October is almost upon us, which means it’s nearly breast cancer awareness month. While we applaud the cause, we believe it’s important for women to be aware of the symptoms and preventative measures of breast cancer every month. And one of the best places to start is with a self-examination.

Although the risk of this type of cancer increases with age, it’s a good idea for women of all ages to conduct a self-exam on a regular basis. The self-exam allows you to become familiar with how your breasts feel normally, making it much easier for her to note any changes.

What to feel for:
Slight changes in size or tenderness may occur naturally due to hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle. During the self-exam, you are looking for changes in thickness or hardness of tissues. These changes are usually described as a ‘lump’.

When and how:
The self-exam should be performed once a month. In the shower, you can use the pads of your finger to move around your breast in a circular fashion from the outermost portion of tissue to the area around the nipple. You should also examine the area under your armpit where the major lymph node is located.

What to look for in the mirror:
After your shower, you should stand in front of the mirror and look at the shape, size and lower contour of your breasts with your arms at your sides. Raising your arms above your head causes your breasts to rise up slightly and gives you a different viewpoint of how they normally look. Changes you want to look for include swelling, skin dimpling or changes in contour…anything that looks different.

Hands on the hips:
If you place your hands on your hips, you can flex your chest (pectoral) muscles to give yourself another viewpoint. You can face the mirror and then turn to each side to see if you notice anything different. You will usually notice some difference between your right and left breasts, but if the difference is new, talk to your doctor.

Lying down position:
Lying down is sometimes the easiest way to notice any new lumps because the breast tissue spreads out evenly and you can press down against the chest wall. It is generally recommended that you vary the pressure, move your fingertips in a circular fashion as you did in the shower, and squeeze the nipple to check for any discharge after completing the full circle.

If you do find a lump
If you do find a lump, you should see your doctor, but don’t worry too much. Most lumps are not cancerous. The purpose of breast cancer awareness is to find those that are cancerous and find them sooner, rather than later.

Comments | Tagged under health, cancer, wellness, breasts
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