Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Banks Warn Tech-Loving Customers To Use Budgeting Apps With Caution

Technology has made it easier than ever to stay organized. With a few taps or even a simple voice command, you can streamline your to-do list, fill in your calendar, or ask Siri to jog your memory. Our devices have made work easier too, as is evidenced by the 67% of warehouses that use mobile gadgets to manage their inventory. And of course, it's becoming more common for families to keep track of their spending on their phones and tablets. But even though financial apps can make budgeting a breeze, many banks are now warning that some apps may hurt instead of help.

Some of us don't think twice about allowing an app access to our personal information, especially when we think we can trust its credentials. After all, letting an app access your Facebook friends list or send you notifications seems innocent enough. But many budgeting apps offer to analyze your spending to help you make smarter decisions. To do this, the app requires you to link your bank account to the app and prompts you to provide your online banking details. Chip, Cleo, Moneybox, OnTrees, and Money Dashboard are just a few of the apps that operate this way. The problem is, the security of these apps can't rival that of your bank, which could make you much more vulnerable to identity theft, fraudulent charges on your account, or even device takeover.

In addition, many UK-based banks have warned their customers that allowing a third-party budgeting app access to their accounts in this manner is actually a breach of their security rules. In other words, if your account was breached and subsequently drained of funds, your bank might not cover the loss.

Therefore, experts urge users to download and use a budgeting app only if they know it is reputable. Apple's App Store or Google Play are usually a good place to start, but you still need to employ a discerning eye. Do your research and read any and all reviews you can find before deciding on a budgeting app for your needs. For instance, you may want to choose a budgeting app that doesn't allow for money transferring and that takes extra precautions to encrypt and safeguard your information, like Mint. Once you do decide to download, make sure you're comfortable with its permission requests. Some apps will request access to permissions you may deem unnecessary, like your current location or other data. If your app needs sensitive information or stores financial details, take steps to safeguard your device with a password (or fingerprint) lock. Don't forget to log out of banking apps when you are finished with your session.

Without a doubt, budgeting apps can make saving money a lot simpler. But don't sacrifice security for convenience's sake. It's possible to have both; you'll just need to take the time to do a bit of investigation before you hand over your info.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Brace Yourself for Your Teenagers' Dental Requirements


Your kids teenage years still see their teeth developing, but it’s harder to monitor their dental health than ever. Think about it. When your children are young, you can control what they eat. They have what you give them, meaning that you can limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks that they consume. When they’re teens, they can spend their lunch money away from your prying eyes and may pick up junk food without you even knowing it. What’s more? Their baby teeth are out, and their adult teeth are establishing themselves, meaning that this set of gnashers are the permanent ones that they’ll have to live with for a lifetime. You want to ensure that they are as clean and healthy as possible in order to guarantee their proper functioning for the rest of your child’s life. Here are a few ways that you can help out.

Tools for Thorough Cleaning

Teens can be lazy, we all know that. They are unlikely to put in the proper effort required to clean their teeth effectively with a manual toothbrush. They are also unlikely to replace worn out manual brushes. So rather than nagging, consider getting them an electric toothbrush. While your children should still be vigilant, ensuring that the brush reaches all areas of the mouth, it will more often than not do a better job of scrubbing plaque from their tooth’s surface. Make sure that the bathroom is well stocked with floss tape, interdental cleaners, and mouthwash too.



As adult teeth are establishing themselves, they may take up an unfavourable position, whether for practical or aesthetic purposes. In situations such as this, it’s better to have braces fitted on your child’s teeth sooner rather than later. They may complain at the time, but it’s something they’ll definitely appreciate further down the line. Book an appointment with an orthodontist near me, who will be able to conduct a thorough examination of your child’s mouth and the structure of both their jaw and teeth. They will then be able to propose the best course of treatment possible for your child’s individual needs.


While your teen may find snacks out of the home, you will likely still have control over the meals that you make in the evening or the ingredients that you stock your cupboards with for their breakfast. So make sure that there are plenty of teeth friendly foods for them to pick at. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are high in calcium, while pumpkin seeds, tofu and Brazil nuts are full of phosphorous. Both calcium and phosphorous restore minerals lost when enamel is broken down. Sugar-free drinks will also cause less damage than sugar filled alternatives, so always favour these in your food shop. Firm, crunchy foods are also great, as they encourage you to produce more saliva which neutralises imbalances in your mouth, making it more difficult for bacteria to thrive.

Remember, your kids are becoming more independent during their teen years, but when it comes to things like oral hygiene, you can still lend them a helping hand to ensure that their smiles truly shine.

Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper? How To Assess The Real Cost

House hunting is a nearly inevitable part of life, especially when growing a family. The average American moves about 12 times in their life, and different types of homes often correlate with different stages of life. If you are looking to abandon the apartment life but still pinch pennies, a fixer-upper might be an attractive option. 

But is it a viable option for your family?

This guide will help you assess a potential fixer-upper and decide if the initial price is worth the work. 

Why Buy A Fixer-Upper?

First-time homeowners, or those with a specific home vision, might love the price and challenge that a fixer-upper offers. These homes are almost always available for a lower price than a pristine house, offering you the opportunity to save on the upfront cost. Once the home is yours, you can break out your tools and get to work on renovations. 

But while 40% of homeowners across five of the nation's biggest centers plan to renovate this year, not every remodeling project is created equal. This is the debate with fixer-uppers. 

"The ideal fixer-uppers are those that require mostly cosmetic improvements — paint touchups, drywall repairs, floor refinishing — which generally cost much less than what they return in market value," according to This Old House. "New lighting fixtures, doors, window shutters, and siding, as well as updated kitchens and bathrooms, are also lucrative improvements."

Anything beyond that, such as major structural changes and additions, might be outside of a frugal homeowner's budget. That's why it's essential to assess the true cost of the home.

How To Calculate The Home's True Cost

It's important to remember that the cost of a fixer-upper stretches through the years of renovations ahead. When assessing the true cost of the home, consider the following factors. 

  • Price out renovations.: This may seem tedious, but it can be costly if you skip this step. Make a list of the renovations you want to make, at least within the first five years. Then do research on the cost of labor, if you will be hiring a contractor, as well as materials.

  • Know your DIY limits.: You might buy a rundown home with the intention of diving into DIY projects, but are you being too ambitious? Know which projects you can realistically complete yourself and know which are best left to a professional.

  • Request an inspection.: This is an essential step. A certified home inspector can catch leaky pipes, a faulty roof, basement mold, broken foundation, or other hidden problems that will be costly down the line.

  • Consider the local market.: If you are fixing the house with the intention to eventually sell it, be realistic about the housing market. Work with a realtor to determine how much the home will sell for if restored. You might actually end up losing more money than it's worth.

  • Be skeptical.: When touring the home and speaking with a real estate agent, ask questions every step of the way. A realtor is showing you the home with intention of making a sale, not to tell you the whole truth.

Throughout your home hunting process, remember that you are not locked into a home until you sign for it. You have options as a potential buyer.

"Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs," according to houselogic. "The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with."

And if it's too much to deal with, it is probably not the right home for you. Stick with your search and be selective. You deserve to live in a home that makes your family comfortable. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Change the Clocks Not Your Mood with These 5 Steps

As we prepare to switch the clocks and “fall back” this November 5, many of us may give up more than an hour of daylight. We may be giving up our good mood. Many people mark the clock change as the start of more darkness, cold weather and anxiety over holiday schedules and holiday shopping and travel. Dr. Saman Hafeez, a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services explains how setting the clocks back is, for many people the start the winter blues and offers tips on how not to slip into a funk.

Set a sleep regimen.
Less daylight affects our mood and the further north you go the more intense it is. Dr. Hafeez explains that around 3 million people are affected by some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s more common in women than in men and it often lingers throughout the entire winter. How to beat it? Dr. Hafeez suggests getting to bed an hour earlier and adding in some time to wind down an hour before bed. “Don’t watch the news before sleep; read a book, write in a journal or meditate. Do something that eases you into a restful state,” she says.

Change up your exercise schedule.
It’s normal for the brain to get thrown off when it gets darker earlier. Less daylight means that the motivation to get outside for that early morning jog may fade. This is normal. “It’s important that you give your brain new stimulation. Try working out after work instead of in the morning or, if possible join a work out app that brings at home exercise routines right to your phone.

Book your calendar.
The more you have to look forward to the better your mood will be. Schedule weekly dinners with family and friends. Wintertime is hibernation time so set up a family movie schedule or game nights. It’s important to have weekends booked up with fun activities to keep the mind looking forward to fun events. “Social withdrawal is common in the winter when temperatures drop. Take turns hosting dinner events and get around people,” Hafeez encourages.

Study up!
Interested in learning a new skill? Use the wintertime to take seminars, attend workshops and commit to learning something new. When you engage the part of your brain responsible for learning you’re more inspired and alert. Even listening to podcasts and participating in interesting webinars on a topic you’re interested in will increase energy, Hafeez says.

Experiment with new recipes.
When the temperatures drop and we enter hibernation mode we tend to crave more comfort foods. According to Dr. Hafeez, a great way to lift our moods and stimulate our brains is through taste. Winter is a great time to explore new foods. With so many fresh food delivery companies out there you can get pre-portioned healthy food options with step-by-step prep instruction delivered to your doorstep. “I really like this idea because it engages the senses which stimulates the brain. You’re releasing positive brain chemicals triggered by excitement, adventure, task execution and enjoyment, plus you’re eating healthy.

About the doctor:
Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens. 
Dr. Hafeez masterfully applies her years of experience connecting psychological implications to address some of today’s common issues such as body image, social media addiction, relationships, workplace stress, parenting and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…). In addition, Dr. Hafeez works with individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, attention and memory problems, and abuse. Dr. Hafeez often shares her credible expertise to various news outlets in New York City and frequently appears on CNN and The Doctors.

Friday, 27 October 2017

7 Smart Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

You’re switching out flip-flops and beach towels for boots and wool blankets. There’s a 30% off coupon on your fridge with bulk hand-sanitizer and Kleenex purchase written all over it. For the umpteenth time, you wonder how on earth the kids could have grown so much since last winter, while the mental list of what you and your family need for this year just keeps growing.

Remember the time your daughter had three friends over and heavy rain turned unexpectedly to ice and sleet? That spontaneous tween sleepover almost broke you — even before groaning branches eventually took out the power lines!

Then there was the night your son slipped coming up the front stone steps with an armful of books. Thank goodness your dentist has on-call hours.

You may not be able to prepare for every surprising turn of event this season, but there are some smart precautions you can take to ready both home and family for winter’s elements — and keep hair-pulling frustration at bay.

1. Service Furnace

Who do you want to be? The parent whose kids are huddled under wool blankets while you wait for the HVAC technician to wade through eight other emergencies who happened to call in before you? Or the smarty on a warm Fall day who makes an annual service and inspection appointment?

If your furnace is under a service contract, regular inspection is more than likely included.  Optimally, it should be scheduled right before cold weather hits. During an inspection, the contractor will clean filters — and replace if necessary — check for carbon monoxide and make sure blowers and fans are running smoothly.
If you don’t have a service contract, contact North American Technician Excellence — NATE — for a list of certified technicians in your area.

2. Reverse Ceiling Fans

Did you know that the ceiling fans in your house which sweep hot air out in the summer can also be used to keep warm air in during winter? Check for a switch on the motor. Flipping it will change the directional turn of the blades. A counter-clockwise motion pulls heat up and out, while clockwise pushes warm air down, back into your living space.

3. Seal Air Leaks

Drafts around the windows and doors of your home will counteract the heating efficiency of your furnace and ceiling fans. Because hot air moves towards cold, a surprisingly large percentage of your heat may eventually find its way outside.

You can remedy this by sealing the leaks with caulk, plastic sheeting or weatherstripping. Caulk is sold in tubes and can be applied with a caulk gun almost like squeezing toothpaste on a toothbrush. Remember to store unused calk tubing inside so it doesn’t freeze.

Plastic weatherproof sheet kids are sold pre-cut. Simply fit plastic over window banks inside and seal around the edges.

Weatherstripping can be a bit more involved. Materials come in nail-on or self-stick form; you may require specialty pieces for your doors.

4. Prepare for Power Outages

You can use that 30% off coupon to stockpile batteries as well, and perhaps even votive candles. But that won’t save the food in your fridge, charge up your devices or run the heating system in case of power failure. Consider purchase of a backup generator.

Traditional generators are gas-powered and portable. When the power goes out, you fill the generator with stored gas and wheel it in to temporarily run basic appliances. Most homeowners keep two to four five-gallon tanks at the ready; the generator will only run for as long as its fuel allows. Not only might home gasoline storage present a fire hazard, but any unused gas needs to be replaced after one year.

Standby generators, on the other hand, hook directly into the natural fuel line of your home. A licensed technician connects the system to your circuit panel with a 220-volt line, allowing for generation “take over” of all your electrical appliances at once.

5. Trim Trees and Branches

Power outages are often the result of damage caused by snow and ice-covered branches breaking heavily over the lines. Safeguard your home from similar destruction. Take a good look at your roof line. Identify any overhanging branches and mark them for removal.

Smaller shrubs and dead branches around your home should also be cleaned up and trimmed. Wind can send debris hurtling towards your house in a manner of seconds. Make sure plantings that are not firmly rooted are cleared away.

6. Put Garden to Bed

Hand in hand with proactive arbor measure now is the perfect time to secure outdoor furniture and gardening equipment.

Drain garden hoses and unscrew them from outdoor faucets. Cover deck and lawn furnishings tightly with waterproof coverings to prevent rust. If you have indoor storage, stow the pieces inside.

Cover plants that are sensitive to frost loosely with burlap and take down wind chimes.

7. Clean Gutters

Finally, grab a ladder and clean the gutters of your water drainage system. Dead leaves, pine cones, seeds and other bits and fragments from surrounding trees can get trapped in your trench, creating flow dams with the potential to freeze when the weather grows cold.

Ice easily cracks gutter materials. It flows over your roofline in the form of icicles and drips onto surrounding steps and walkways, creating pedestrian havoc.

The potential for moisture to leak into a home’s structure increases whenever water drainage is slowed or stopped. Wet siding is the perfect place for mold formation. Mold spores multiply and travel quickly, damaging interior walls and threatening foundation stability.

Mold can also be hazardous to the health of your family members. Symptoms of mold exposure include shortness of breath, bronchial cough, sinus congestion, fatigue, difficulty concentration and joint pain.

No stockpile of hand sanitizer, batteries and Kleenex can trump a warm, safe home with effective generator back-up. Can you imagine that unexpected sleepover with a working fridge — and Wifi? Game-changing!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

What Are The Baby Blues?

During pregnancy and after the birth or adoption of your baby, you may feel happy and excited. It is normal for new parents to have lots of different feelings and emotions.

It is common to experience the "baby blues" which can include crying for no apparent reason, rapid mood swings (happy one minute and sad the next) and feelings of anxiety. These feelings usually don't last more than a couple of weeks, but for some mothers these feelings may get worse or not go away.  This might be depression.

Depression can begin in pregnancy, right after birth or anytime within the entire first year after birth. Up to one in five women experience a significant depression in pregnancy and/or following childbirth.

What to watch for: The symptoms can range from mild blues to total despair.
  • Feeling sad, anxious or crying a lot
  • Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
  • Finding it hard to focus or concentrate
  • Feeling like you have no energy
  • Not wanting to be with your family or friends
  • Not enjoying life like you did before
  • Not enjoying time with your baby
  • Having panic attacks, excessive worrying, obsessive or scary thoughts
  • Feeling inadequate or resentful towards the baby
  • Feeling more angry or irritable than usual
Take gentle care of yourself  
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Find someone to talk to
  • Ask for help from your family and friends
  • Try to get as much sleep as you need, including naps
  • Choose healthy foods like fresh fruits & vegetables, lean meats (and other protein foods such as cheese and tofu), low fat dairy products, and whole wheat bread and try to eat regularly
  • Try your best to find time to exercise
  • Find time for you to relax - even if it is just for a few minutes to put your feet up or go outside for some fresh air
Experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety is common. Please know that there is help available - reach out to your family doctor, midwife or public health nurse or get free online counseling

More information on supports can be found here

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Balancing Buyer Budget With Your Biggest Needs

A person balancing and walking across a log in a trail in a forest

When you start looking at buying a home, it’s very common to write down a list of the requirements you have for the new place. During your hunt, this list will make it a lot easier for you to eliminate houses from the equation, making choosing a simple job. Or, at least it should. Of course, though, when you make a list like this, you also have to take your budget into account. The realistic outcome of your purchase could be far from the dreams you have. But, fear not, as this post is here to help you. It will be exploring some of the best ways to balance your budget with the things you need, enabling anyone to cut the costs of their property.

  • A New Location

The value of the land a home is on is one of the largest factors used to determine the price of the place. Schools, hospitals, and other local services help to boost land value, while other aspects, like the surrounding area and natural beauty, have an impact, too. Thankfully, though, you don’t often have to go very far to find somewhere a little bit cheaper. Websites like https://www.forbes.com can help you to find the best places, so you don’t have to look very far. By going to a less popular road or area, you could drop the price of your house by a huge margin, without having to compromise on the home itself.

  • The Things You Don’t Need

Your list of requirements is unlikely to be complete the first time you draft it out. As you consider each area with more care, it will quickly become apparent that a lot of your needs are little creature comforts. A pool or garage, for example, can make a home much more expensive. Dropping them from your list will make everything a lot cheaper, while also ensuring that you keep the things which are really important. With all of the mod cons available, it can be very easy to get lost in what you want, even though a lot of these features can be added long after you’ve moved in.

  • A Better Mortgage

Sometimes, the home itself isn’t the big thing making the price go up. With all the excitement, it can be easy to rush one of the most important parts of a home purchase; the mortgage. Between companies, the offerings you find can differ wildly from one another, making it very hard to get the best deal. Using sites like https://altrua.ca/, you can secure a low price which will be guaranteed. If they fail to give you the best price for your mortgage, you could be given the difference back. Not only does this help to keep things secure, but it also gives you time to do your mortgage research after the purchase is done.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start finding more ways to save money on your next property purchase. It’s never worth compromising on something which is very important to you when doing this. But, with any luck, this post will help you to find the things which you don’t need in your property so that you can avoid having to pay for them.

Beat The Fall Blues

How are you? The summer weather is finally winding down, the temperature is dropping and even the best of us can get a little down. The “fall blues” are characterized by mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy that many people experience during the fall. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to prevent the overwhelming feeling of fatigue and solutions to get yourself back to normal!

Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O., an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, anti-aging medicine and chelation therapy explains,lack of sunlight, diet change and a decrease in exercise are the main reasons people fall victim to this phenomenon.
Here are a few basic recommendations from Dr. Calapai that are easy to implement into one’s daily life to beat the blues:

1.     Get sunlight: Due to shorter days and less sunlight, you may begin to lack vitamin D, which increases melatonin and fatigue. Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D, so get it as much as possible.
2.     Take your vitamins: Multivitamins are always a great substitution for nutrients you may be lacking.
3.     Exercise: Contrary to popular belief, exercise actually gives you energy. Maintaining a weekly workout regimen is a great way to feel better and reap the benefits that come with staying active.
4.     Vegetable juicing: This can replace heavier meals people tend to gravitate to, during the cooler months.
5.     Don’t forget protein: Fish, turkey and chicken are great sources of protein, which build up your body’s organs such as the brain, heart, liver, kidney, skin and muscles. 
6.     Drink fluids: Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to stay alert and energized.

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Dr. Christopher Calapai D.O.
Anti-Aging Physician and "The Stem Cell Guru"

Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed as the "The Stem Cell Guru" by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S.

His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer's, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson's.

Dr. Calapai started his practice in New York City in 1986 and for over 25 years he has hosted nationally syndicated radio shows, including his two weekly call-in shows on WABC 770-AM, where he offers health and medical advice. He has a show on Saturday morning 8-9am and Sunday evening from 6-7pm. He has consulted with numerous high-profile individuals including Mike TysonMickey Rourke, Steven Seagal, and Fox series Gotham's, Donal Logue and worked as a medical consultant for the New York Rangers hockey team as well as various modeling agencies.

Dr. Calapai received his medical degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and he consults in Manhattan with practices on Long Island, in East Meadow and Plainview. He has appeared on News12 and in the pages of 25A Magazine and Social Life Magazine.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

7 Simple Fall Printable Crafts for Kids

It's finally Autumn--the leaves are turning colors and the weather is cooling down. The holidays are almost upon us, so it's time to start thinking about fun ways to make the most of our extra time with our loved ones.

Crafts are one of the best ways to bond with your little ones, whether it's to decorate the house for a spooky holiday or gather around the table for a holiday feast. These simple, family-friendly printable crafts from our friends at Shutterfly are great for children of all ages (and adults)!

Simply click on the thumbnail to download and print the templates, and then decorate to your heart's content. What could be easier?

1. DIY Leaf Animals: Use leaves from outside as a base, or print out the provided paper leaves and turn them into your own work of art. Use the provided eyes, nose, and ears to turn them into cute animals! Click the below image to get the PDF.

2. Halloween Joke Teller: A play on the old schoolyard game, this printable joke teller allows you to write your own fun predictions or jokes inside! Click the below image to get the PDF.

3. I'm Thankful For: Print out these for the kids to fill out and remember what they are thankful for this season. For a bonding activity: have everyone at the table fill them out and reflect on how grateful they are. Click the below image to get the PDF.

4. Thankful Turkey: These cute little guys can be printed out then decorated with the accompanying paper feathers, craft feathers, or leaves. Create a fun friend with your little ones this Fall! Click the below image to get the PDF.

5. Coloring Placemat: These make great place setters to keep the kids occupied during holiday meals. Click the below image to get the PDF.

6. Turkey Party Hats: These are adorable little hats! Just print them out and have fun! Click the below image to get the PDF.

7. Turkey Puppets: Like the hats, except puppets! Put on a show with these funny little guys and entertain the whole family. Click the below image to get the PDF.