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How To Boost Your Budget This Christmas

How To Boost Your Budget This Christmas

Tech trade-in sites such as Mazuma offer a chunk of cash in exchange for unwanted mobile devices, which can be handy for cashing in when you upgrade or switch deals. With our viewing habits increasingly moving online, our DVD shelves are often a bloated and unused repository for clutter these days. High street exchange stores like CeX are a great way to cash in on your unwanted media and technology, and redeem for cash or in-store credit.

But saving money doesn’t necessarily mean selling, clearing or working extra hours. Simple changes to your day-to-day lifestyle can yield a remarkable saving. Taking a packed lunch to work, cycling rather than taking the bus, or moving your weekly shop to a more affordable supermarket can save as much as £30 to £40 a week. And who knows? Your budgetary innovations may open up new experiences and cost-effective habits that stick around beyond new year.

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Every saving will add up to something special. By combining these online and offline solutions, you can find real wiggle room in your budget for festive frivolity.

The days are getting shorter, and our budgets are getting tighter. With Christmas on the horizon, the prospect of funding the festive season can feel like a little too much pressure on the purse strings. Don’t panic though – there are many simple, stress-free ways to make a little more money in time for yuletide. Relax and indulge your friends and family this year by building your very own Christmas bonus.

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Playing the markets

There are any number of nifty solutions for making money online quickly. Many cannot be actioned overnight, and require a long-term strategy and effort. However, some sites allow you to sign up and start earning money almost straightaway. Sites such as Swagbucks allow you to ‘put cash back in your wallet’ by completing quick surveys when you search, shop, watch and browse online. There are loads of these sites out there, and there’s good money to be made – users often earn upwards of £200 per year. For the dos and don’ts for this form of money-making, check out this guide.

Taking part in simple market research is also a healthy budget booster. Create a profile then accept ‘tasks’ on sites such as Streetspotr, Roamler and Field Agent. You will be expected to pop in to shops and businesses and carry out a basic request, such as taking a photograph or checking a price. You earn money for every mission you complete, which will add up sharpish if you can integrate the tasks into your daily routine. Many of these sites work with nationwide high street brands – so it could be delightfully simple for you to make a little extra money on your walk to work, or during your lunch hour. Signing up for a real-world research recruitment agency can also be very lucrative. They’ll book you into evening focus groups, perfect for fitting around your schedule.

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Declutter for Christmas

While a spring clean may not be seasonally appropriate right now, it can still have a transformative effect on your home. Decluttering is proven to boost productivity and improve mood – and can lead to a little extra cash if you can sell those unloved shoes or superfluous home-wares online. Marketplaces such as eBay can seem tremendously old hat these days, but there is still a huge audience and money to be made if you have the time to promote and post your unwanted paraphernalia. If you’ve got clutter to conquer, selling online can be the fastest way to monetize your miscellany.

Saving money for Christmas? Do you have any other top money-saving tips to bolster your budget? Let us know!

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Featured photo credit: Lights up the darkness / Susanne Nilsson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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