How To Avoid Getting Cancer

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Cancer is a common disease that can be caused by poor lifestyle choices. Of course, you can get this disease through your genetics, but certain lifestyle choices can increase your chances. So, we will now look at a few tips that can help you to avoid getting cancer.

The first tip is that you should change the foods that you eat. You should reduce the amount of processed foods you consume as well as foods that contain lots of animal fat. It is best that you eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. You should also limit how much salt and sugar that you eat since these can cause cancer.

Another tip is that you should exercise regularly. Exercise is highly beneficial to your health and will make your body function more efficiently. It can also help to prevent cancer and you should try to exercise at least a few times per week.

Lastly, the final tip to avoid cancer is that you should drink lots of fresh green juices. You should always make your own green juices using vegetables like spinach, kale, cucumber, apples, beets, pears etc. These natural juices help to detoxify your body and prevent the formation of cancer cells.

So, there you have it, the best ways to avoid getting cancer. Once you follow these tips, your risk of getting cancer will dramatically decrease (still, consider getting Life Shield Insurance).

Packing a healthy, low-cost lunch for your kids

I had to come up with a few rules for myself as well as my daughter to avoid wasting food and money when she wants to brown bag her school lunch. Albeit easier on me when she buys her lunch from the school, I do like to pack her lunch so that I can choose (with some input from her) what she will be eating. It also gives us some fun time together at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

There is savings in being prepared
My daughter and I grocery shop every other week. Prior to us going to the store we decide if she is taking her lunch that week or buying it. This decision is important in being prepared and is the basis for my first rule, if she wants to take her lunch, in order to not waste foods that can expire, she needs to take a lunch each day that week. This allows me to buy some items in bulk and not waste money on products that may go bad before being used.

Dual purpose shopping
Another lunch shopping tip I have learned is looking for meal items and snacks with dual purpose. I try to find items that I can cook for dinner and can easily be converted into left over lunch items. An example of this is planning a chicken dinner where I can take left over chicken and make a pulled-chicken sandwich out of it as part of her lunch the following day. Vegetables are another item I buy with this intent, carrots and broccoli are common dinner side-dishes we have that often make it into school lunches the next day.

Fresh not pre-packaged
Grocery stores are littered with pre-packaged, kid targeted, lunch items. In the past, I have for time sake purchased these items as lunch filler. I call them lunch filler because to me that is all they are, filled with their not-so-real cheese and lunch meat that I don’t think ever was really meat. I’m almost embarrassed to admit feeding it to my child.

It takes a little more time and planning, but purchasing fresh vegetables and fruit has been ideal for our routine. Not only is the fresh fruit and veggies healthier, but it allows me to make purchases with dual purpose as mentioned earlier. Cooked carrots for dinner and some set aside before cooking gives my daughter carrot sticks for her lunch. Had I purchased those “pre-packaged carrot nubs” I would have had to buy carrots for cooking also.

Dessert tricks (or treats)
Dessert items are a harder sell when it comes to my kid. Convincing her that fruit is a dessert has not been easy, she loves fruit, but the call of the sugar filled cookie is often stronger. To help with this, I started purchasing sugar-free wafers (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate) which so far has worked out well. Another trick that I do is pack a small Tupperware container of whip cream, so she then can dip her fruits (strawberries, bananas etc) in it as a dessert.

With some pre-planning you can easily put together a cost-effective healthy lunch for your child. When its time to shop, go in with a plan and include your child in the decision-making process. This teaches them responsibility and promotes healthy eating habits that they will carry with them as they get older.

DIY Miniature Greenhouse project

For our weekend activity, my daughter and I built miniature plastic bottle greenhouses. This was a great do-it-yourself project that was inexpensive and gave us a fun activity to do together. I spent less than $8 dollars on supplies for this project and was able to recycle some empty bottles that I collected from work and home.

Collecting The Supplies
My six-year-old daughter loves flowers, so a project that lets her grow her own was a perfect plan. We started by saving empty plastic bottles from around our home and I grabbed a couple of empty water bottles from work. Clear bottles are the best as they let natural light in unfiltered. Cost: $0

A trip to Home Depot landed us our last two items needed for this project, potting soil and seeds. I’m not a green-thumb, so after some quick research online I settled on purchasing a bag of all-purpose potting soil. I bought the smallest bag I could find, which turned out to be a 1 cubic foot of soil. We were planning on only making 4-5 greenhouses and this was more than enough. Cost: $3.97

The second item from Home Depot were the flower seeds. Now for this I am a bit lucky, I live in Florida, so even though its Winter time, just about anything will grow here as it’s about 70 degrees minimum on a cold day. My daughter looked through all the packages of flowers picking the flowers she thought were the prettiest. Cost: $1.25×2

The Process
This was one of the easiest DIY projects that I have done, this is proven by the fact that when we finished it actually worked as expected, which is not always the case with me and do-it-yourself attempts. I have outlined the 5 steps we took below to make these miniature greenhouses.

Step 1: Remove the labels
For best results use clear bottles and remove the labels. We did this by snipping the labels with scissors and then carefully peeling it off. A small amount of the label on some bottles remained where they are glued on, but it was not enough to notice or effect our project.

Step 2: Cut the bottles
Using a pair of scissors cut the bottles in half. Depending on the size of the bottle you may want to give a little more room and cut just above the 1/2 mark. I found that 1 liter soda bottles and Gatorade bottles worked very well when being cut in half.

Step 3: Cut slits for easy assembly
Now that you have the bottle cut in two pieces, on the top partof the bottle cut 1-1.5 inch slits on opposites sides of the bottle. This gives the lids some flexibility when it comes time to replace them on their lower counter part. I have circled the area to cut in the photo slideshow below.

Step 4: Add potting soil and seeds
In the lower half of the bottle, fill it approximately 3/4 full with your potting soil. With your finger, make a hole in the center of the potting soil you just put into the bottle. We made our planting hole about halfway down into the soil. Insert the seeds that you are planting and cover them.

Step 5: Replace the top
With the slits you cut in the top portion of the bottle in step 3, sliding the bottle top over the bottom should be easier. It took us a couple of tries but they finally came into place.

Empty Bottle: Clear bottles work the best as they let sunlight in and you can see the progress of your plants

Step 1: Remove the labels from the bottle.

Step 2: Cut the bottles to the appropriate size.

Step 3: Cut slits into the top to make it easy to assemble.

Step 4: Add the potting soil as needed.

Step 5: Replace the top on the bottle and watch your plant grow.

Results: About a week later we started to see little green sprouts.

We left the caps on the bottles, this helps with building condensation inside of the greenhouse and removes the need for watering. Setting the bottles in a window seal that gets a moderate amount of sunlight was the best option for the seeds that we planted and it only took about a week before we started to see little sprouts of green coming up. It was faster than I had expected, but was glad to see that this project worked.

Risks of using a business credit card

Establishing a new business is not an easy process. You have to secure all sorts of permits and licenses, set up an office, and purchase equipment and other items needed for your business. Often, new business owners don’t have enough cash on hand to put up a business. What they usually do is apply for a business credit card and use that to buy all the necessary equipment and supplies for their business. While business cards are beneficial most of the time, they can cause many problems if they are not used properly. In particular, excessive usage of these cards can result in the downfall of the business and it may even affect personal finances.

Effects on Your Personal Finances
Many new business owners are not aware that their credit activities using a business credit have a bearing on their personal credit score. As a new business owner, you have no credit rating yet. To protect themselves, lenders will need a personal liability agreement from you, and that is how your personal finances get tied into your business credit account. This should not be a problem at all if you are able to manage your business finances properly. In case you fail to pay your business credit account on time, however, there will be a corresponding reduction to your personal credit rating. Even if you are making regular payments on your personal credit card, your score will still suffer considerably because your personal credit account is linked to your business credit account.

Tips on the Proper Use of a Business Credit Card
When used in the right way, a business credit card can definitely help boost your business in just a short time. Here are some useful tips on how to manage your business credit card and avoid all the negative consequences mentioned above.

  1. Register your business with a credit bureau.
    The sooner you get a business listing, the sooner your personal liability agreement will become void. In other words, no matter what happens to your business, your personal finances will no longer be affected.
  2. Make sufficient payments on time.
    Each month, make sure to pay the entire amount on your bill if possible. If funds are inadequate, try at least to pay more than the minimum so you won’t suffer from steep interest rates in the future.
  3. Be discriminating in the use of your business credit card.
    Just because you have a credit card doesn’t mean you have to use it for every business-related purchase. If you have cash on hand, use that instead. Reserve your credit card for emergencies or really important purchases.
  4. Monitor your employees’ credit activities closely.
    If you are running a fairly large company where employees get their own business credit cards, keep a close tab on the credit activity of each employee. Do not give employees a high credit limit so they won’t be tempted to use the card for their personal needs.

With discipline and proper use, a business credit card can be an essential tool for the success of your business.

Tips for choosing a student credit card

Student Credit Cards offer one of the first steps into financial independence for young college bound students. The lessons of fiscal responsibility are often taught at a young age, but it is important to follow those practices as the years go on. Finding the right card can be difficult with so many options and incentives, here are some tips to keep in mind.

What are Student Credit Cards?
Truthfully, the difference between a student card and a regular credit card is almost nothing. Student cards will have a higher interest rate because a line of credit is being given to a young customer with little to no credit history. Often the rewards structure on student credit cards is different to better accommodate the usage of a young adult at college.

Points and rewards
Each company will have it’s own points/rewards system. As a student, some of the incentives to look for are card companies that offer reward points for using your credit card at book stores, movie theaters, good GPA rewards and on-time payments. If you plan on driving home often, or to and from campus, cards that offer gas rewards is another good idea.

Fees and charges
The late payment, it may happen, and it’s important to be prepared if it does. When looking for a card, keep in mind the fee they charge for late payments and the grace period the card may have. It’s important to make at the very least the minimum payment required each month and is suggested that you try and pay more if you can. If you are going to be late, choosing a card with the lowest late fee will be helpful so that you do not end up being buried in fees. The grace period before a credit card company charges you a late fee is also something to watch. The average is about 20 days, but can be as low as 10 days and as high as 25 days.

Maximum limit
Because student cards often have lower credit limits it is easier to max out the card. Keeping your credit card maxed out can damage your credit rating as credit-to-debt ratio plays a significant factor in yourcredit score. It is important to not overspend with your card, this can become a bad habit that can hurt you financially in the future.

Student Credit Cards can be a great way to start establishing credit. It is important to remember that this is the start of your credit history, be responsible with your finances. If you make mistakes involving your credit worthiness now, it can be a long road to recovering the trust of creditors. Credit cards can be a great financial tool if used properly and a detriment to your finances if abused.

Do you have a first time credit card story or tips to help others avoid costly spending mistakes? Share your thoughts.

529 college savings plan as a single parent

My daughter is 6 years old, this means I have roughly 12 years to put together a college savings fund so she can attend a 4 year college. As a single parent with a single income this requires some serious budgeting adjustments on my part. What has made this easy for me was a non-negotiable attitude towards putting together a 529 college savings plan, I must make sacrifices.

I started the savings plan process by contacting a friend who is a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley. I needed to see options available to me that included different tiers of saving. The financial burden of my daughters college fund from a legal standpoint is a 50/50 responsibility between both parents, because of this I wanted to see a breakdown with a few scenarios that I had put together.

The projected cost for an out-of-state 4 year college is $250,014 and $157,129 for an in-state college. This assumes a college cost inflation of 4% over the course of the next 16 years (including the 4 years she attends).

  • Scenario 1: 50% contribution
  • Scenario 2: 75% contribution
  • Scenario 3: 100% contribution
  • Scenario 4: 75% contribution (in-state)

I wanted to see multiple contribution options to help me plan for the worse case scenario. I do not like to make assumptions nor do I like to depend on others in financial situations especially when my daughters education is at stake. I want my contribution to ease any shortcomings should something in the future happen to my ex-spouses ability or mine to contribute to our daughters college fund. I do not foresee any issues, but planning for the possibility is the smart decision.

I think the single best piece of advice given to me by my adviser was this. “You do not have to choose a plan now, but you should open an account as soon as possible and put any amount you can into it to start the process, even if it’s only $25 a month. The time that you have to save is only getting shorter.”

I have chosen to make the 75% contribution to the 529 college savings plan, it is more than I am financially obligated to, but my daughters education is not something I am willing to gamble with. It is my responsibility to give her the opportunity to attend college and as a single parent I cannot rely on what should happen, or could happen.

I would like to hear other parents experiences in saving for college. Mistakes made, lessons learned, do you have multiple children? What plans are you making to help their future?

Turning my bad spending habits into silver

As a continuation of my post “Turning my Starbucks habit into silver” I have decided to extend and improve on my personal financial goal of investing in silver and improving my spending habits. As November comes to an end my goal to avoid Starbucks and reallocate that money to buy silver coins was a success. This success has prompted me to take the next step in my larger plan to cut spending and continue growing my collection of silver coins.

In November I was able to save $83 by not going to Starbucks and in turn was able to purchase two 1oz silver coins. With December only a few days away I wanted to continue my effort to reduce needless spending. As I did in the beginning of the month I started looking at my mint.com budget and goals for December. I follow my monthly budget precisely, and in keeping with the theme of the previous month, have decided to reduce the budget column for fast food.

My fast food budget is $100 per month which I never really used completely. In reviewing the past 3 months, my average fast food purchases were $72 a month. Fast food is clearly not a necessity to me and I think is a great target for my next step in reducing bad spending habits, so I have reduced my $100 budget to $25. This reduction will be a challenge to me though, as fast food is often a staple for work lunches and will need to be replaced with brown-bag lunches and leftovers.

Combining both my Starbucks and fast food spending habits brings me to a savings of $155 for the month of December. If successful in this goal, at the current rate of silver, I will be able to add 3 more 1oz coins to my collection.

I am not making drastic changes to my budget, these gradual reductions to my finances allow be to develop good spending habits over time. One mistake I often see people make are large changes to how they spend money. Often this leads to frustration and despair in your personal finances and makes it easy to fall back into poor spending habits. By setting small attainable financial goals I am able to avoid these pitfalls and continue growing my financial well-being.

On average do women outwork men?

Ladies, do you feel you outwork your male counterparts? The numbers suggest that you do. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Time Use Survey for 2010, women use more of their time working, doing household activities and taking care of their children than men do.

No guys, we are not lazy, well not all of us, but statistically on a day-to-day basis we are outperformed by the opposite sex. The survey looks at different activities that many of us do during the day and organizes them into categorize.

  • Working (employment)
  • Household Activities (cooking, cleaning, lawn care)
  • Leisure Activities (TV, sports, working out)
  • Child Care

Employment: According to the labor survey men slightly edged women out in the employment category. The average hours worked per day is 7.5 including full-time and part-time employees for both genders. Men on average work 8.1 hours compared to women coming in at 7.7 hours for full-time employment. Don’t get excited guys, that is the only statistic we are ahead on until we look at time spent watching TV and playing sports.

Household: When it comes to household activities, well guys you may want to just skip this next sentence. On an average day 84% of women compared to 67% of men spend some time doing household activities including cleaning, cooking, lawn care, financial management and general house upkeep. During those days women spend 30 minutes more doing those tasks.

Leisure: Leisure is a broader grouping that included daily activities such as watching television, participating in sporting events, exercise and general socializing and communication. Men average doing these activities 5.5 hours each day compared to women at 4.8 hours. I’m not sure if I would consider any of these actions work, but being we are looking at an accumulated list of daily activities, its tossed into the bucket.

Child Care: Honestly these numbers surprised me, although I’m a bit bias as a single father. In homes with a child under 6 years of age women average 2.5 hours being the primary care giver which is an hour longer than men. Caring for the child as a primary activity includes tasks like physical care, reading/talking to the children and playing/hobbies with the kids. When looking at households with older children (6-18), the difference in time is reduced from 1 hour to about 10 minutes.

It’s important to keep in mind that these are only averages from a survey taken between 2006-2010. I am fully aware that there are men and women out there that work many more hours a day than what is mentioned in this post. I know this because I am one of them, but the numbers being reported are impressive and all I can say is, good job ladies.

What I learned from my home foreclosure

In 2006 I walked away from my first home and by the end of the year theforeclosure process was well underway. Unlike many families at the beginning of the housing bubble collapse, I didn’t lose my home because I over purchased or because I lost of my job. I lost my house as a side effect of a divorce.

I won’t go into details about my divorce aside from saying it was a surprise to me that came out of nowhere, one day I was married with a 2-year-old child, and 3 days later I was alone in my home. It was the worst possible scenario and I was completely unprepared financially for such a catastrophic event. But, I learned from the experience and attribute my positive financial state that I am in today to my homes foreclosure.

Selling my home outright proved impossible, with the market rapidly declining from 2006 into 2007 finding a buyer was just not happening. I was running out of time, I had moved out of the home to be closer to my daughter and was no longer able to afford my new rent and the mortgage.

One lesson learned was the inner workings of a short sale, its process and unfortunately in my case I a few reasons why short sales can be declined. Two contributing factors in my scenario; first, I could afford my mortgage payments and was unable to prove a substantial enough financial hardship, the second and probably a lesser reason which I feel I could have worked around was that the home needed to be occupied by me at that time.

Losing my home 5 years ago has given me a better appreciation for my own personal finances. It has forced me to work hard at managing and rebuilding my credit and shown me how important being financially knowledgeable is. I attribute my drive to build a healthy emergency fund and retirement fund to the loss of my home.

I discovered what a true financial emergency was, which has helped me prepare for and in some cases avoid potentially disastrous financial situations. I also learned that you cannot foresee every pit-fall that you are running towards, but with the proper knowledge that pit-fall can become just a stumble that is easily overcome.

I am sometimes asked if I would do things differently in how I handled my house; it’s a difficult question. I would like to say I would have stayed in my home until I was able to sell it or that I would have fought my bank harder for a short sale, but both choices come with consequences that I was unwilling to accept. I am not saying I made the right decisions, but I learned from decisions I did make and have become more financially aware because of them.

Mortgage application and interest rates drop

Mortgage applications drop 2.6% after rising 4.1% the previous week despite continued low-interest rates. Refinance activity also dropped 1.6 percent, according to the MBA’s weekly survey, which covers more than three-quarters of all United States retail residential mortgage applications.

Europe’s economy continues to tumble pushing interest rates to the lowest they have been this year. “Remarkably low rates are not enough, as many homeowners continue to hold back due to lack of equity in their properties, poor credit and a weak job market,” MBA vice president Michael Fratantoni said.

Unemployment rates and strict loan requirements are making it difficult for banks to convince the public to spend their money. With interest rates at record lows and foreclosure savings rates above 50% in some states, the U.S. consumers view of a wavering economy is clear.

Mortgage Applications Drop 2.6%

Each average rate reached a new low for 2011

Mortgage Product Avg. Interest Rate (current) Avg. Interest Rate (previous)
30-year fixed-rate 4.08% 4.12%
15-year fixed-rate 3.39% 3.44%
30-year FHA 3.93% 3.94%
30-year jumbo 4.44% 4.47%
5/1 ARM 2.90% 2.93%