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  1. Our health is literally the most important thing to keep track of, yet many of us abuse how resilient our bodies are when we are younger. There are many things that we do to our bodies, and we don’t realise how bad the long term effects can be internally and externally. It’s a sad fact that as we get older, our bodies become less resilient, and the harmful things that we do to our body now can really take its toll as the years pass.

    Here’s how to improve your health dramatically now so that in later years you’re still as fit as a fiddle.

    How To Improve Your Health Dramatically

    Keep your weight at a recommended level

    Many of use abuse our bodies by piling in the junk food, and it’s understandable too because junk food tastes so good. What many people don’t know is that junk food contains chemicals that create an imbalance in our brains which makes us crave more. So not only can junk food make you gain weight, it can trick your brain into thinking that it needs more. Break out of the habit of junk food and try to consume more natural and nutritional foods so that you can give your body the goodness it needs and also keep your weight at a recommended level.

    Don’t poison your body

    There are many different ways in which we can poison our bodies without realising it. Alcohol and drugs are the biggest culprits because it gives us a temporary feeling that we all enjoy. However, they are extremely addictive and also poisonous to our bodies. Alcohol and drugs are both poisons.  It’s also too easy to slip into a rut and begin consuming too much of both of them. Stop poisoning your body with help from a drug detox so that later on in life you don’t feel the repercussions of it all.

    Up your exercise

    Exercise is definitely something that the majority of us don’t do enough of. When you’re unfit, anything that raises your heartbeat can make you feel unwell, and even simple tasks like climbing the stairs can make you light-headed. Try upping your exercise so that you can build stronger muscles and internal organs. The longer you leave it, the more you will struggle in later years. Start off slow if you’ve not exercised in a while and gradually work towards goals. You will feel much healthier and full of life in no time!

    Spend more time with loved ones

    The company of loved ones can without a doubt improve your health. While many of these points have spoken about physical effects on our bodies, this is concentrating on the mental effects. Make time to visit those that are important to you and spend valuable time with them. Not only will it be good for your mental health but life is too short to not spend precious time with those you love!


    Make these changes and notice how your health improves dramatically now, and for your future!


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  2. If you have chosen to work for yourself as a contractor and have determined that a limited company formation is the best for your new business venture, there are just a few other things that you have to keep in mind. Setting up a new limited company for contracting is not at all difficult and takes very little time, provided you know what steps to take.

    A limited company is a legal entity that does business under the name that you have chosen for it. In other words, your limited company is a moral person by law. It can make money, lose money, take on debt and pay taxes just like a real person. The limited company also has its own bank account.

    In order to get started in setting up your limited company, you must first choose a company name. You will need to determine what name is best for your new company and who is going to be part of that company. Choose a name that relates to what your company will be doing and ensure that the name does not contain any words or phrases that could be deemed misleading or offensive. Once you have chosen a name, you will need to appoint a director who will oversee the operation of your new company.

    Setting Up a Limited Company for Contracting

    If you are planning to set the company up yourself with the help of an accountant or a company formation agent, you can go online to Companies House and submit your information to register your company. You will need to have the business name as well as the name and address for your chosen director or directors and information for your shareholders. Companies House offers online forms that you can fill out, with an online guide to help you in the process.

    You will also need to draft your Articles of Association and file this with Companies House. The Articles of Association is a document that outlines why you have chosen to set up your limited company and how it will be operated. The document simply states details about your company and can be done by yourself or your accountant if you have one.

    You also need to open a business bank account and register your company for VAT. You can register for VAT online at the HMRC website and this is a very simple process, as well. You will need VAT registration in order to charge your customers or clients VAT. If you are using a professional accountant, he or she can handle all of this for you. If you are doing the financials yourself however, you can make the calculations yourself on the website and there are calculators to help you to determine the right amounts to enter.

    Finally, you want to determine what start up expenses that you may have and plan to acquire these expenses. As a contractor, you may not have any upfront start up expenses depending on the company that you are forming. These startup expenses can be claimed against your future revenue when you are filing your income taxes so keep good records of everything that you spend to get your business off the ground.

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  3. Inflatable pools are the perfect ingredient for a warm summer’s day and getting the kids active. A small inflatable children’s pool comes without a filter pump, but still requires simple upkeep to ensure to keep the pool and water safe and clean. There are a few basic maintenance tricks and essential instruments needed to keep your pool in the finestcondition, to make sure the water is ready for swimming for your youngsters.

    How to keep inflatable kids’ pools clean girls splashing garden fun

    1.       Cleaning small pools

    Blow-up pools suited for children are small and easy enough to be emptied and cleaned after each use. Once drained, it is advised to thoroughly wipe down the empty pool to ensure any bacteria that may have been sitting in the pool is eradicated. After cleaning, dry the inside with a towel to eliminate the possibility of dirt, such as algae or mould, growing.

    2.       Sanitising larger pools

    Larger pools are trickier to drain, clean and refill each time they are used; it just simply isn’t practical. However, to keep the water safe, it is worth adding some chlorine to avoid the build-up of bacteria. You can easily purchase swimming pool chemicals online, or even use a simple floating chlorine dispenser to ensure the water is at optimum cleanliness whilst in use all summer long. A floating chlorine dispenser aids in keeping the water stable, as it consistently releases small amounts of the chemical safely into the pool. You can take the dispenser out when your child is playing in the pool, to stop it obstructing the fun, and then drop it back in the pool in between swims.  Just make sure you shower to remove all chlorine residue from you after each use.

    3.       Buy a pool cleaning net

    One of the most basic pieces of equipment in your pool maintenance kit is a standard leaf skimmer net, which is perfect for retrieving any debris that has fallen in, such as grass, insects, leaves or direct.

    How to keep inflatable kids’ pools clean splash

    4.       Cover it

    If you prefer keeping water in the pool for a couple of days, it is advised to cover the pool over when it is not in use, to avoid swarms of mosquitos and keep debris at bay. Some pools come equipped with their own covers, however, if your pool doesn’t, you can set a plastic tarpaulin sheet over the top – just tuck the ends under the pool, or weigh the edges down with heavy objects, such as bricks.

    5.       Before swimming…

    It is important to ensure all pool users have a shower before entering the pool to help prevent any potentially harmful germs, from getting into the pool water. If children are feeling unwell, particularly if they have an upset stomach, it is advised to keep them out of the pool to prevent the spread of germs and illness to others using the pool. Before stepping foot into the pool, warm the water up by pouring in a bucket, or two, of warm water from the kitchen sink or kettle.


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  4. Having had two children I have spent a lot of money (and wasted a lot) on various baby equipment over the years.  In this guide I’m going to take a serious look at the baby equipment worth investing in and then a light-hearted look at the baby equipment you should save your money on and not bother buying at all.

    5 baby products to buy and 5 not worth your money

    Baby equipment worth spending your money on

    There are so many companies trying to sell you everything and anything baby related when you have a new-born, it can be confusing to know exactly what you need.  Here are five things you definitely need that will make your life a lot easier:

    A sturdy buggy

    You’re going to need to transport your baby from A to B, so a buggy is a must.  There are all sorts of clever designs nowadays including whole travel systems that incorporate the car seat so baby can swiftly be moved from car to buggy in one fell swoop.  If you have more than one child and they are both of buggy/pushchair age, then a double buggy is going to be a lifesaver.  If you’re struggling to pick a reliable double buggy, then check out a comparison review such as this one at Baby Gear Guide which offers a review and rating of ten major models.

    The correct car seat

    There’s so much to learn when you have a baby and that includes an education in the different car seats and their legalities!  There are different car seats based on age, height and weight and you must use the correct one to ensure your child’s safety and comply with the law.  Companies such as Halfords and Mothercare offer a bespoke car seat fitting service in which they’ll find the most suitable for your child’s age and car.  They’ll even fit it for you so you know it’s properly installed.

    Convertible cot bed

    Time goes super-fast once you have children and before you know it they’re out of their cot and into a bed.  To make the transition easier on both the child and your wallet, consider buying a cot bed instead of a separate cot and toddler bed.  The cot bed is a cot that can be converted into a small toddler bed once the child is old enough.  It can usually be used until the child is 4 or 5 years old, so you’ll not have to worry about buying several pieces of furniture for a few years.  Our cot bed was around £100 new and lasted for both the children.

    Ergonomic bath support

    We tried the baby baths, but found the ergonomic bath support to be a much better investment.  This can be used in the main bath, so there’s no need to buy a separate baby bath which takes up valuable space.  It is also cleverly shaped to hold the baby so your hands are free to wash the child.  This clever piece of equipment makes bath time so much easier, but you must still always stay with the baby in the bath.

    Baby sling

    I never purchased one with my first, but regretted this once I used one with my second.  I used an AmaWrap when Reuben was a baby up until he was almost one as he was quite large and too big for it.  Many people use it way beyond one though.  He absolutely loved being so close to me in the sling and often fell asleep.  It also meant I could be hands free to hold my daughter’s hand when out and about, or even use a trolley and shop like normal in the supermarket.  Once Reuben was too big for the AmaWrap I used an Ergobaby carrier.  I’d definitely recommend this even though it’s over £100 as we tried 3 cheap versions with Bella and they were a waste of money – Bella hated being in them and they were really uncomfortable to wear.

    5 baby products to buy and 5 not worth your money - baby carrier

    Baby equipment to save your money on

    Buying baby equipment requires a bit of trial and error.  There are lots of recommended products that companies market to you as things you couldn’t be without, but aside from the essentials, most of it is personal choice and most isn’t needed at all.  All babies are different too, what one may love another may detest!  Here are five baby items that are not worth spending your money on:

    Baby bath and top ‘n’ tail bowl

    For my first we purchased a lot of useless baby stuff that we really did not need.  Things you see sold in all the baby stores so you just assume you need it.  We bought a baby bath and a top ‘n’ tail bowl for washing that keeps the water separate for the top and tail.  These were both totally useless purchases.  When Bella was so new-born she was so small we washed her in the sink!  Then we used this bath once or twice, but quickly realised it was easier to wash her in the main bath using an ergonomic bath support.  I’m not even sure if we ever used the top and tail bowl.  Perhaps once or twice the very first times we bathed her as we thought it was something we needed to use, but totally didn’t.  Needless to say, we didn’t keep these or repurchase them with our second child.

    Nappy bin

    In our first home together when we had Bella we lived upstairs so thought a nappy bin would be a lifesaver stopping us running downstairs and across a carpark to the communal bins to dispose of hundreds of stinky baby nappies.  These are marketed as keeping your home smelling fresh, but in our experience they never totally masked the smell, making them quite the useless product.  We also found it just as easy to nip outside and dispose the nappies or left them by the door and the next person to go out would take them.  Perhaps if you were in a much higher flat these would be of use, but in a regular house or low level flat they’re not worth the money.

    Swing seat

    This is a debatable one as many of my friends say their children loved their swing seats and it was the only way to get them to sleep.  Perhaps I purchased one too late as Bella was already so used to sleeping on me.  By the time I tried to put her in a swing seat she wouldn’t have it, so it was quickly another item listed for sale on Ebay and us making a loss on an almost new item.

    Plug socket safety covers

    Safety is the number one priority when you have a baby and more so once they start moving around and exploring the world around them.  All parents want to provide a safe environment for their children to explore, but sadly the baby stores play on this making us feel like we need certain safety equipment that we don’t need at all.  In fact, some of this ‘safety’ equipment such as plug socket safety covers could actually be dangerous themselves!  I bought packs of these and used them all over the house until I read the NHS and Department of Health’s safety alert regarding them.

    Read why they aren’t safe here: I Feel Conned: Plug Socket Safety Covers are NOT Safe

    Wooden high chair

    As much as I really wanted a wooden high chair because they are so much more visually appealing than bulky white plastic ones, they are in fact very unpractical for a baby.  The wooden chair seats are very large and slippery so they’re more suited to a toddler.  They suited mine best when two years old, so never in the baby years.  I tried to strap Bella into one, but she almost fell through the gap.  Needless to say we ended up buying a much more suitable white plastic high chair with plenty of padding and a 5 point safety harness to keep her safely strapped in.


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  5. Being in unaffordable debt is a huge worry for most people.  Back in my early twenties I was really quite stupid with money and got into a lot of personal debt.  It was definitely my fault as I was spending way more than I earned, going out for restaurant meals, clubbing every weekend, buying new clothes almost every day and basically living a life I couldn’t afford.  There are lots of reasons why I got a shopping addiction and tried to live this way, but at the end of the day I should have known better and should have managed my money a lot better than I did.

    Click here to read the full story: A very honest account of how I ended up in £17500 of debt by the age of 20

    I ended up in debt crisis.  This is where I was paying of debt with debt and never actually paying anything back.  I was using overdrafts and credit cards to pay off each minimum balance each month and getting further and further into debt.  It was a downwards spiral and I thought there was no way out.  I had several store cards, two loans, an overdraft and credit cards.

    What to do when you have debt you cannot pay

    As much as I know it is my fault, I also think the banks and credit companies should take some responsibility.  At ages 18 and 19 I was able to open 10 store cards, 3 credit cards, have a huge overdraft of around £1000 and I took out two loans.  At no point did anyone look at the amount of credit I already had available to me, realise I wouldn’t be able to pay it back should I max it all out and therefore refuse me for whatever new credit I was applying for.  I was young and stupid and if I wanted something I just opened a store card.  I’d worry about paying it back later.  I was always accepted and so became hooked on shopping and hooked on getting what I wanted.  Because I could.

    The fun didn’t last though as I soon maxed out all avenues and quickly realised I couldn’t even afford all the minimum payments.  I was paying debt off with credit and I was in trouble.  Luckily I knew to go to the Citizen’s Advice and we worked out my debt.  I was shocked to see I was in £17500 of debt!  An amount of money I could only dream of.  This was around 14 years ago and my full time shop assistant wage was around £10000 a year!  I had debt of 1.5 times my annual income.  Ridiculous!

    Luckily I was signposted to a debt management company who took over contacting all my creditors and acted as my third party.  They were even able to stop the interest on most of my accounts so I could just pay back what I owed and quicker.  It took a while for some of the creditors to stop hassling me though.  They found out where I worked and rang constantly, to the point where my manager was so sick of it he told them I didn’t work there anymore.  Some of the debt had been passed on to third parties and they are not always the nicest people!  They’d constantly hassle me, even though I was doing the right thing setting up a debt management plan and paying it back.

    What to do when you have debt you cannot pay - stressed at work

    We discussed bankruptcy, but I was so young and as it was unnecessary debt I could have been classed as bankrupt for the rest of my life.  I also didn’t qualify for an IVA as I could pay it back in five years.  It took me around 5.5 years in the end, but I paid back every last penny and I learnt my lesson!

    Yes, I’m in debt now, but it’s affordable.  I have a mortgage and two loans, but we can more than afford these.  Having a huge mortgage is quite scary, but it’s an investment and the other option is to rent and pay someone else’s mortgage.  At least we are paying something off and will have something to show at the end.  I’m also keen to overpay and get it paid off as soon as possible!  I will never again get into a load of personal debt I cannot afford for things I don’t need.  In a way I’m glad I learnt my lesson so long ago and I’m much better at managing my money now.  In fact I’m obsessed and check our bank accounts every morning and track outgoings weekly!

    Not surprisingly website Talk About Debt found that 88% of people who have debt are kept awake at night worrying about it.  For me it was one of the darkest periods of my life so far.  I suffered tremendous amounts of stress worrying about the debt and whether debt collectors would call round.  Just the thought of debt collectors in person was enough to set me into a panic.  I saw no way out, but I wish I’d realised sooner there is a lot of help available out there.

    If you are struggling to pay your debt, don’t feel like you are alone.  There is a lot of help out there.  Don’t suffer in silence.  It can all be sorted and there are people to help you.

    Here are some ways you can get help if you can’t afford your debt repayments:

    What to do when you have debt you cannot pay - seek advice

    Talk to the creditors

    Firstly, especially if you think the debt is manageable, speak to your creditors.  Many of them are not scary at all and they will have dedicated helplines for people struggling with repayments.  They may be able to freeze interest or allow a repayment break for a period of time whilst you get your finances on track. They will also be able to direct you to debt advice companies for more information.

    Apply for an IVA

    If you’re wondering what is an IVA, it’s an Individual Voluntary Arrangement that’s suitable for most people with large amounts of debt who may otherwise be considering bankruptcy.  A legally binding agreement is set up between you and the creditors for you to pay back as much as possible in five years.  The rest of the debt, up to 70%, is then written off.  It is set up on your behalf through a third company and they can manage all the negotiations and they’ll also take a fee out of your monthly repayments.  Interest and charges can be frozen.

    Go on a debt management plan

    The debt management plan I used didn’t cost me a penny.  Some of them will charge a fee and add it onto your outstanding debt balance, but PayPlan who I used did not.  They can negotiate on your behalf with all your creditors and come to an arrangement.  This helps to take the stress away from you and let you get on with your life knowing you are paying back the debt.  A debt management plan is suitable for those who are able to pay the full amount back over a reasonable period of time.  It’s also really easy to manage as rather than paying each company individually on different dates, I paid PayPal one lump sum each month and they divided it between my creditors.

    What to do when you have debt you cannot pay - seek help

    Seek professional advice

    One of the best things to do is to seek advice.  There are lots of professional debt advice companies offering free advice to those struggling with debt.  I used the Citizen’s Advice Bureau who referred me to PayPlan when I had my debt.  The CAB were able to look at all my debt with me and tell me who was the best company I should approach.  PayPlan were then able to tell me which option was the best option for me. 

    The thing I cannot stress enough is to seek help and don’t face it alone!  There are so many companies offering free debt advice who genuinely want to help and point you in the right direction.  Though it may feel like there’s no way out, there really is and there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Ten years ago I was in the depths of despair paying back my debt with no money left over for anything else at the end of each week and a £30 budget for food and sundries each week after all bills and debt were paid.  It was hard and depressing, but I got through and paid it all back.  Ten years on and I’m married with two wonderful children and a homeowner – something I never imagined I could achieve after so many debt problems.  It really is possible to turn it all around and create a better debt free life for yourself.


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