Credit Card : Make It A Boon & Not A Bane

CreditCredit is complicated. To put it simply, credit is the ability to borrow money based on promise of a future repayment. It also means a person’s reputation for paying bills. There are a few simple things you can do to manage it properly.

Create a monthly budget. Before you even try to start developing credit, you need to have a budget in mind. If you don’t, your credit could quickly get out of hand. So make a list of your monthly income and all your monthly expenses, and be sure that they even out. Better yet, end each month with an income surplus.

Be qualified. Now that you know what you’re buying with credit, and how much it will cost, you can move on to developing your credit. In order to even qualify for credit, you need a reliable financial history. In other words, you have to have a reputation for paying your bills on time, a source of income, and some assets if things go south. Make sure you can handle life without credit before you try to handle a credit card!

Look at your options. Now comes the fun part – holding the plastic in your hand. There are actually a couple versions of credit to look into – secure loans, which are backed by collateral, installment loans with monthly repayments, and unsecured loans based on credit-worthiness. Credit cards are the most common form of unsecured loans.

Pick what’s right for you. If all you want is a credit card, a good place to start looking for one is at your bank, if they offer a card. For people starting out, stores such as Target and Kohl’s offer credit cards that most people can qualify for. Other places you can get a card and/or loan are from finance and life insurance companies.

Exercise caution. Having a credit card means you can go out and buy a bunch of stuff right away. Don’t. It’s important to stay well below your credit card limit, or cap on spending. If you spend close to what your limit is, your credit score will go down.

Keep your credit report in mind when using credit to buy anything. A credit report is based on your credit history – whether or not you have paid your bills on time. This information includes monthly credit and loan payments you have had for the past seven years. Lenders look at it when deciding if you qualify for a loan. Don’t get stressed out. Just don’t mess up, either!

Limit yourself to one card. Having more than one tempts you in ways you do not want to be tempted. If you do have several credit cards, manage them carefully.

Remember that credit cards are a convenience. Having one doesn’t allow you to purchase things you can’t afford.

Always pay more than the minimum monthly payment. Always do it, I’m serious. If you can, go so far as to pay off your bill in full every month.

If you want to figure out the amount of time and interest involved in paying off your debt, a good website to use is : <www.bankrate.com/brm/calc/MinPayment.asp>.

Keep your credit card receipts. That way you can verify the accuracy of your monthly statement. Banks make mistakes, too!

Notify your bank if you move. Late fees can happen needlessly if you don’t get your bill on time because, oops, it was sent to the wrong address.

Immediately notify your bank if your credit card has been lost or stolen. That way you won’t be held liable for any unauthorized charges.

To be on the really safe side, make a copy of your card and keep it in a safe location. That way you have all your card information in case of loss or theft.

The worst thing you can do is ignore credit problems. First, stop using your card.

If you have any issues that might affect your credit, call your creditors right away. They might be able to temporarily freeze or reduce payments. The sooner you call, the more they can help keep your record clean.

Make sure you pay your bills on time. This is really important. If you don’t, you could get stuck with late fees, frozen credit, and even legal action or lost property.

Just making the minimum monthly payment on your credit card will ensure that you are paying it back for the rest of your life. Getting out of debt = paying more than the minimum.

Bad credit history can affect your employment history because companies have access to your credit report.

Any lender or future employer looks at your credit report as part of a normal background check. This could affect your ability to get a mortgage, and even change your finance rate (interest) on major purchases.

There are several costs to look out for. Credit cards often come with annual fees, interest rates, late fees, over-limit fees (for when you charge above the set maximum), and cash-advance fees for whenever you request cash on credit.

It’s best to steer clear from cash-advancements in general due to the high interest rate on those loans.

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2012 : A Great Year For The Teen Soup (Thank You Folks)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for our blog. We are greatful to WordPress for their support. Also, a great Thank You to all our viewers. Please do let know the areas and subjects that you would like us to encroach upon in 2013.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Zero To Hero : How I Aced My Math Exam

MathsMath tests are, to most people, tedious and bland. However, if you have a record of failed math tests, or feel that you can’t understand math no matter how hard you try, math tests are terror and tedium rolled into one. Yet, math is doable by anyone once you have the basic approaches sorted.

Pay attention in class. If you aren’t listening to the teachings of the lesson, how will you possibly pass your test? That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the math instructor when he or she is talking. To pay attention, remove all distracting items from your desk; this includes laptops, a note from a friend or any juicy reading you’re trying to catch up on. Look at the instructor or teacher and listen attentively. If you need to be looking at the board, be sure that you are. If you’re at a spot where you can’t see, hear, or concentrate, ask your instructor or teacher if you may move to a different seat (or just shift if permission isn’t required).

Take notes. Writing notes is very important because they will serve as a recapping pathway to help you study for the test. Use lined paper and a pencil, and write down any key information that either the teacher or instructor is saying or writes on the board. Remember, you’ll be looking at your notes to study, so write clearly and neatly. Write any practice problems if you think they’ll be helpful.

Participate. Don’t you hate it when you get called on and didn’t know the answer? If you paid attention, you might have, but sometimes, you just don’t know the answer. Try to participate in class. It’ll help you understand the information, and it will show your math instructor that you understand the problem and can get involved. Know that it’s okay to get an answer wrong, so give it your best guess; it’s better to show enthusiasm than to be perfectly right each time

Ask questions. Everybody, even the smartest people, ask questions. And remember the Chinese saying if you feel stupid: “People who ask a question are stupid for five minutes; people who never ask a question are stupid for a lifetime.” So speak up, and don’t be afraid. In actual fact, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. Ask your teacher or instructor in class or a lecture, or privately after class, if you think you’ll be embarrassed. If you still don’t get it, see your teacher or instructor after math class, during lunch, or after school to discuss the problems. It’s their job to help you get it.

Do your homework. Almost everybody despises homework, but it’s assigned for a reason: to help you understand the lesson by coming to grips with the information on your own terms. When you have homework to do, write it right away in your agenda book to make sure you won’t forget it. Remember to bring it home, and if you need your book for homework, take it home. (Ask your teacher or instructor if you can get the math book online so you won’t have to bring it home; this is becoming more commonplace now).

When you do your homework, get comfortable but not too comfortable, remove distractions such as cell phones, electronic devices or TVs, and be in a well-lit room. Try to be in a quiet place where you can always be alone. If you need to, put on some soft music in the background, which can help some people with work.

Always follow the directions, and check your work. If you’re stuck on a problem, go back to it later, or ask a sibling/parent/friend/classmate for help. For short answers or word problems, write with labels and complete sentences.

Study. The study rules apply to homework, as far as your study space goes. Studying requires concentration, so don’t think you can get away with studying while watching TV, slinging off Angry Birds or texting. Gather all your materials needed to study, which could be your notes, math book, a study guide, and/or homework. For math vocab, try making flash cards and looking over the words and their definitions. A good approach to studying is: Try some practice problems on the internet or in your math book to solve.

Focus the most on what you need help with, if you already know the rest.

Since repetition is very important in math, make sure you keep doing problems until they stick in your head.

Try studying with a buddy by having them check your answers and quiz you on math vocab. You could email answers back and forth if you’re not physically together.

Include fun. Math can be fun as well. Pretend you’re a contestant on a game show and have to answer math questions. Have a friend come round to do math homework together. Then flip flashcards and have you say the correct answers before another friend.

Be aware that there are many methods to studying, so find yours and go at a pace that works for you. Remember to study at your level. If you push too hard, you’ll get tired and confused. Start easy, then gradually get more difficult on the problems.

Have a good night sleep. While it’s great to study, you shouldn’t be staying up all night doing it! Sleep matters too, so make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep (or get the amount of sleep you personally need within the 6-9 hour sleep range). Sleep is a necessary part of remembering information long term; the material a student studies must be “locked in” by a period of sleep. After a certain period of time with no sleep, no new information can be retained.

Eat a healthy breakfast. While you should eat a well-balanced breakfast every day, it’s especially important to eat breakfast the day of your math test, or before any test, so that your energy-hungry brain gets the energy needed to think straight. Eating before the tests will ensure that you won’t be hungry, and you can focus on passing the test. Obviously though, don’t eat too much or you’ll feel drowsy and sick.

Relax. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth slowly three times. Get comfortable in your chair (but not too comfortable), close your eyes, and just focus on your breathing for a couple of seconds. If you need to, during the test, change positions to become more comfortable, and find a position in which you will do your best and focus. Remove any possible distractions, such as a book or highlighter on your desk. Don’t think about any fear, just stay positive and calm. Promise yourself that you will do your best on this test, and know that, whatever grade you get, you deserve it based upon your effort.

Read the directions. This may sound self-evident but time and again, examinees forget to read the basic instructions and lose points or marks for it. The first thing you should put on a test, on any paper, is your name. If you don’t have your name on your test, you will lose all credit for the test. You could also put the date on the test, the period, homeroom, teacher or instructor, etc. Then, skim the test yourself, or while the teacher or instructor is explaining directions. Change any errors in the test if your teacher or instructor says to do so (you need to be listening carefully, not silently panicking), or ask them if there is a possible error if you find one. Always read the directions again before doing the problem, and pay attention to words such as least to greatest, sum, difference, product, quotient, and about.

Start the test. When you may begin, start the test. It can be helpful to keep to the given order to guarantee no missed questions, or start with the easier problems first then go back to the more difficult ones, making sure you’ve missed none. However, it’s up to you, so go in any order that will help you the most, as long as you have a method for checking for missed questions.

For multiple choice, read the question, then solve. Then look at the choices given. Make sure you read them all before selecting an answer. If your answer matches, check your work and select that answer. If you are having a little trouble, realize that there will always be two choices that are far from the answer, and two that are close, but one of which is the correct answer. Two answers that are close to each other are both probably wrong, so you can rule those two out immediately and focus simply on the two possible correct ones.

For word problems, don’t panic! Many people hate math word problems, you aren’t alone. Read through the entire problem, highlighting/circling numbers and important information. Think to yourself, “Is there information I don’t need?” and cross off unnecessary information. Look at what is being asked (the last sentence, almost all of the time.)

Choose an operation to solve the problem. Will you add? Subtract? Multiply? Divide? Look for key words, such as “more than”, “product”, and “divide”. Then solve the problem.

Check your answers. Many people think they have answered everything perfectly, and don’t even bother to check over their answers. This could become a bad habit as there may well be something missed or slightly wrong, so always check your answers, even if you think you got everything right. You could have easily made a silly mistake. Check your test for your name, and see if any questions are missed. If you missed something, add it in, and check for labels and other silly errors. Then, hand in your test.

Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! You should be proud of yourself for completing the test, so sit back, relax, and wait for the results. Know that whatever grade you get, you deserve it, because of your effort.

Is Your Relationship Leeching You : Don’t Let Your Partner Suck Your Blood

ParasiteIn a healthy relationship, one should seek to give more and receive less, loving one another as oneself. It should be mutually, loving, caring, respecting, and well-balanced. A parasitic relationship is an imbalance that must be identified and corrected promptly.

Identify the relationship. In order to know whether you are in a parasitic relationship, you must first identify the relationship. Identify the person or living thing with whom you have a relationship.

Determine what benefits, if any, you have derived from this relationship.

Are you receiving love?

Are you getting/saving more money?

Are you living more healthily physically?

Are you finding food more easily?

Are you finding shelter more easily?

Are you able to go shopping more easily?

Are you able to perform daily routines more effectively?

Is your life more meaningful as a result of the relationship?

Determine what harms, if any, you have derived from this relationship.

Are you hurting emotionally?

Are you losing money?

Are you living more unhealthily physically?

Are you finding food more difficult to obtain?

Are you finding shelter more difficult to secure?

Are you having more difficulty shopping?

Are you finding your daily routines more difficult to perform?

Is your life less meaningful as a result of the relationship?

Compare the two lists (benefits and harms you obtained from the relationship) to see whether overall you are benefiting or being harmed from the relationship.

Assign a weight of how important each item is to you. For example, you can use a scale of 0-5, where 0 is not at all important, and 5 is extremely important.

Assign a score to each item, rating the extent to which you have been affected. For example, you can use a score of 1-10, where 1 is minimally affected, and 10 is maximally affected.

Multiply the score you assign to each item by the weight you assigned for that item. For example, suppose shelter is more difficult for you as a result of the relationship, shelter should be an item on your list of harms. If shelter is very important to you, but not the most important, you could assign it a weight of 4. And if, because of the relationship, you are experiencing moderate difficulty with affording shelter, you could give it a score of 5, so multiply to get a score of 20 for that item.

Do this for each item on the list of benefits, then add up all the results. Do the same for the list of harms.

Now compare the two composite scores, to see which score is bigger. If the list of benefits has a bigger score than the list of harms, you are benefiting from the relationship overall. If the list of harms has a bigger score than the list of benefits, you are being harmed by relationship overall.

Create a list of benefits and a list of harms derived from the relationship by your partner. This is a more difficult step, as you may not be fully aware of all the benefits and harms derived by your partner, and the extent to which each benefit or harm is important. Just try your best to make up the lists, knowing that they are estimations at best.

Do the same analysis you did for yourself to see whether, overall, your partner is benefiting, or is being harmed, by the relationship.

Interpret the results, as follows:

If you are benefiting and your partner is benefiting, you are not in a parasitic relationship (you are in a mutual relationship).

If you are benefiting and your partner is being harmed, you are in a parasitic relationship (you are the parasite and your partner is the host).

If you are being harmed and your partner is benefiting, you are in a parasitic relationship (your partner is the parasite and you are the host).

If you are being harmed and your partner is being harmed, you are not in a parasitic relationship (you are in a mutually destructive, or abusive, relationship).

Have a genuine, heart-to-heart conversation with your partner. One of the most common causes of conflicts in relationships is misunderstanding. Perhaps you have misinterpreted the facts. Perhaps some things have eluded your thinking about the relationship. Perhaps your partner is well-intentioned, but made mistakes unaware.

If you are in a parasitic relationship, take action to correct this.

After talking with your partner, resolve any misunderstanding, forgive, and discuss ways you can both improve the relationship, so that neither partner is harmed anymore.

Seek counseling and support from others if needed.

If the relationship cannot be repaired, look for a way out respectfully and peacefully.

Accomplishing Your Resolutions :)

New YearLike most people, you’ve probably made resolutions in the past that went unfulfilled. It’s easy to give up on making resolutions because you’ve convinced yourself you just can’t change. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Here are some tips to make realistic New Year’s resolutions for your lifestyle and great tips on keeping them up throughout the New Year.

Find a place where you can sit and reflect. Have a pen and paper available, or a tablet device if preferred.

Think about changes and improvements you’d like to make. These can be about anything, not just the usual “quit smoking and lose weight” big guns everyone associates with New Year’s resolutions. Start a list to jot down some notes. Ask yourself the following questions to get you started and then add questions of your own:

What can I do to improve my health?

Drink more water?

Quit smoking?

Avoid unhealthy food? Avoid all fast food? Fried foods? Red meat?

Eat fish twice a week? How about more fiber, beans, whole grains?

Take vitamins each day?

Go to the gym? How often? Maybe start off going once a week but increase by one day each month for the next few months.

What can I do to be a better parent?

Can you attend a sporting event or other activity each week?

Can you proofread papers or help with homework?

Can you take your kids on an educational trip over the summer? Can you take a weekend and see a historical location or museum? You don’t have to travel far; it could just be a day trip.

What can I do to be a better friend?

Make a list of everyone’s birthday and address to send cards.

Contact or visit a friend you haven’t seen in years.

Are there “friends” you need to get rid of? Are they unhealthy or negative?

What can I do to be more successful at work?

Can you keep your files and desk more organized?

Get up 20 minutes earlier to get to work on time?

What can I do to be happier at work?

Learn to say no to the procrastinators.

Don’t skip lunch no matter how busy you are.

Take your vacation days instead of putting the company first.

Get some exercise or be involved in networking during lunchtime.

Consider more external changes in your life, the ways that you can make a difference through activism, awareness raising or promoting a cause. Ask yourself questions such as:

What can I do to improve the world?

Change the light bulbs in the house to the energy efficient bulbs.

Choose a hybrid or high-mileage car.

How do I get the best gas mileage you can out of the car you have?

How can I reduce waste?

Are you recycling as much as you can?

How can I become an activist?

Look over your list and see what items on it are most important to you. Don’t take too long choosing; often it’s the things that leap out at you straight away that have the most meaning for you personally.

Don’t just address the big battles. Think of the smaller habits that turn into big problems when not addressed. Indeed, it is often smaller, more discreet resolutions that are most effective and that can be built upon to reach bigger overall goals. Try to be realistic and adjust any goals that may be too hard to tackle.

Break down larger goals into smaller actions. For example: Instead of resolving to lose 30 pounds in the following year, you can resolve to cut out fast food, soft drinks, sugary snacks and drinks, drink more water, and walk three days a week until March, and then gradually add in two days at the gym. Before you know it, your 30 pounds will be gone, almost as if by stealth. Instead of having the 30 pounds goal looming over your head, you can chip away at it by achieving your smaller resolutions. In the long run you’ll be much healthier and much more likely to maintain the weight loss as you’ve formed a new lifestyle pattern instead of a deprivation regime.

Make your list of resolutions. Don’t make a short list of huge goals. Make a list with many smaller goals. If you need to put down 20 resolutions, go for it!

 Sit down with your family and friends and discuss your goals and why you made them. Ask for their support on these goals throughout the year. If possible, team up and visit the gym or shop at the health food store together. Ask them to speak up if you slip and order a Diet Coke instead of a water, or forget another goal on your list.

Print or write out copies of your resolutions. Save a copy on each computer or electronic device you own, such as your cell phone, tablet, eReader or MP3 player (if it accepts notes).

Email a copy to your work address.

Make a smaller copy and keep it in your wallet.

Post a copy on the outside of your refrigerator! Use bright paper so it catches your eye and don’t let it get hidden behind coupons and artwork.

If possible, post a copy up at the office or your place of business. Consider sharing your list with an office friend. You’ll have that support system everywhere you go.

 Happy New you!

 Congratulations! Your resolutions have been made. Keep checking back to your list daily to keep your eye on the ball. Don’t be afraid to add new goals throughout the year.

Keep at it. The best goals in the world will do no good if you don’t follow through with consistent actions.