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5 Ways To Improve Your Finances

We are living in such times where economic crisis is a thing of the day and this makes life a bit tough and complicated for many people. Access to quality healthcare and basic life commodities requires one to have some stable finances. Improving one’s finances does not necessarily imply getting rich and flashy. It means maintaining a balanced financial status in life, enough for you to ease through life without stress or debt. Let us quickly take a look at some of how you can improve your finances today, no matter where you are and what you do in life.

  • Have a monthly budget

No one wants to live an austere life, we pretty much want to wine, party, and dine like royalty all the time. It is necessary to sit down and work out your budget before you go on a spending spree. Do not leave your finances to chance and squander all your earnings haphazardly. Each time take some moment to crunch the numbers. Take note of what you have and what you want to achieve. Prioritize things, from bills to debts then sundry expenses. This will help you stay equilibrated when it comes to unnecessary spending. It is such a pity that most people go on a spending spree and only get to sit down when their earnings have dwindled. This will force them to be forever in debt and to lose a lot of money unwittingly. So, each month, make it your aim to sit down and work the math. This will leave you in a better financial position than most.finances

  • Be mindful – differentiate between needs and wants

Most of us want to live a life we cannot afford; they are obsessed with status. Unless you are sitting on a pile of unlimited treasure, you need to live mindfully. Know your needs from your wants. Needs are those things that are necessary for daily livelihood. You need food, shelter, transportation, healthcare, clothing, etc. On the other hand, wants are just accessories, things that you can live without. So, whenever you are planning on spending, first determine whether that thing you are spending on is really necessary for your life. This does not mean that you have to be frugal or be a Scrooge, you deserve to treat yourself once in a while. However, you have to know when how much strain you will be putting on your finances. We all want the finest things in life after all.

  • Get rid of debt

To fully get financial freedom and relieve stress, you must get rid of all the accrued debts. This means you will actually be free to spend your money on something more constructive instead of backtracking on stuff. Do not get used to the habit of spending money you have not earned yet. Debts create that void that keeps sucking your earnings, and you will always live with a negative balance, it a virtual prison where you keep on working for past spending. You can never have savings if you are always in debt.

  • Invest in something

One can earn money either by working or by investing. One advantage of investing is that sometimes the wealth just accumulates on its own over time without you doing anything. Whether it is real estate, the stock market, or other investment plans, the returns usually are worth the investment. Of course, this is a pretty scary venture for most, and you need to be well-advised and careful when it comes to where and how much you want to invest. So, read about financial markets and other ventures. Ask advice from those who know best and make calculated investments. This will help you in the long run.

  • Start saving

Most people enjoy spending too much and think that saving up starts in the twilight age. This is misguided. You need to start saving now. Life is pretty much unpredictable and things can change overnight. So, prepare for the rainy day. You can set aside funds for emergencies and also start your retirement savings today. Also, be insured. Set aside some money each month or each week, depending on your income. This requires a lot of discipline since sometimes we all get impulsive.

Of course, it is never that easy to be this disciplined when it comes to your finances, but you need to be vigilant. Sometimes you might have to find alternative sources of income other than your main job. You might also decide to open up a savings account, one that slowly builds up over time. Cut back on things that are unnecessary in life and always try to find ways to boost up your earnings. Remember, it is never too early to start saving up.

7 Easy Head Start Steps To Teach Your Children To Read

Homeschooling on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic

I never thought I will be homeschooling my 4-year-old daughter, but then again no one really expects a pandemic to happen. I’m sure most parents don’t think about the process of learning to read until they have children of their own. As someone who homeschools my child, I cannot tell you how many times parents have come up to me asking questions about how they can teach their children to read at home. My response to each of them is always the same: learning to read is a process composed of various skills and strategies, and luckily, I have broken it down into simple and tested strategies to try in your own home.

  • Make Reading Fun!

Don’t be afraid to have fun while teaching your children to read. Simply asking questions like, “What sound does the word ___ start with?”, or “What word rhymes with ___?”, will have your children listening, identifying, and manipulating the sounds in words, building confidence and excitement towards learning how to read. Another tool that can be used is letter magnets. Sometimes sounding out vowels can be tricky for children, which is why magnets can be super helpful. Place magnets on your fridge, and place all the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) to one side. Say out loud a CVC word (consonant-vowel-consonant), such as “cat”, and ask your child to spell it using the magnets. To help them along, say each vowel sound aloud while pointing to the corresponding letter, and ask your child which one makes the sound similar to the letter in the word.

  • Sing a Song! Makeup Songs or Use Nursery Rhymes

Songs and nursery rhymes aren’t just fun sounding to kids but are filled with rhymes and rhythms which help them hear sounds and syllables, which in turn help them with their reading. One of the most important skills needed when learning to read is phonetic awareness. Phonetic awareness is the ability to focus on the sound each letter makes within a word. For example, the word “mat” is made up of the sounds the letters /m/ /a/ /t/ make. To help your children build phonemic awareness using songs and nursery rhymes, clap to the rhythm and sing the songs together, and watch them become successful with reading.

  • Reading Everything – Print Environments Are Best

If children see printed words daily, like on posters, books, and labels, they will able to make connections between the letter sounds and the letter symbol. When out with your children, stop to point out letters on billboards and signs to encourage them to work on making letter sounds and eventually, sounding out the word.

  • Use Flashcards or Create Homemade Word Cards

Quick and easy, simply cut out cards (any size) from paper, and write one word with three sounds on each (e.g., Sat, cat, sun, pot, pig). Have your child select a card and read the word together, holding up three fingers. Once done, ask them to say the first sound they hear in the word they chose, then the second, and then the third. This activity requires very little prep time, and builds phonics skills, and helps them sound out words. If your child is just starting out, you can do the same exercise, except use letters of the alphabet instead of words.

  • See the Word, Say the Word

See the word, say the word, is the common expression used to describe “sight words”. Sight words are words that cannot easily be sounded out and need to be recognized on sight (for example, you, I, am, they, where, does). Learning to identify and read sight words is essential when young children are learning how to read, and the best way to teach them is by using flashcards with these sight words on them, and get them to “see the word, say the word”.

  • Learn Together

Reading to your child daily is one of the most effective ways to get your child to pick up the skills necessary for learning how to read. You are showing your child how to sound out words, building comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like; all needed for your child to be successful readers. While reading to your child, engage them by asking questions about the pictures they see (e.g., “What color is the dog? Do you see the stars?”), and if your children are older, ask them a question about what you just read (e.g., “Why do you think Sam was frustrated?”).

  • Build The Foundation

Remember, learning how to read involves multiple skills. Children need all of these skills, listed below, in order to successfully learn how to read.

  • Phonemic Awareness: the ability to hear the different sounds in words
  • Phonics: recognizing the connection between letters and the sounds they make
  • Vocabulary: understanding the meaning of words and their context
  • Reading Comprehension: understanding the meaning of texts in information and storybooks
  • Fluency: ability to read aloud with speed, understanding, and accuracy

Remember, every child learns at their own pace, so it’s best to make this process encouraging and enjoyable. By reading daily, having fun with activities, and even having your child pick their own books as their skills grow, will instill a love of reading and set them up for the ultimate reading success. Teaching children is not a simple task, and if after reading these steps you’re left feeling a little overwhelmed, no need to worry, I have a solution for that too! Click the link below to see how Sarah Shepard, a fellow teacher, has taught over 35,000 children how to read with her program Reading Head Start!