The Basics of Responsible Borrowing

The temptation to borrow money haunts everyone at some point. Sometimes it’s a good idea — necessary, even — but many times it isn’t. Before you take out that loan, you should ask yourself three questions.

Why are you borrowing?

Only borrow out of necessity. This is especially true when it comes to your decision to apply for an easy installment loan or take up credit card debt. These options should only be used for unexpected expenses, like car repairs and home repairs, or buying essential groceries between pay periods.

If you just want something, try to find other ways to finance the purchase. You could put it on layaway, sell some unwanted belongings, or simply save up. The temptation is there to get it now and pay for it later, but you need to understand that if you borrow, you will end up paying substantially more than what you would have originally because of interest.

Money lending is a business, and charging interest is the way that lenders make a profit. No one is going to give you a loan out of the goodness of their heart.

If you want a new house or car, then taking out a loan is usually the only way to do it. You should just make the decision carefully and make sure you can afford the payments.

What are the terms of the loan?

Do not decide to take out a loan based purely on verbal communication with a banker or lender. You must read the terms and conditions carefully.

Interest rates. These can be fixed or variable. That is, they can stay at a certain percentage until the loan is paid back, or they can be subject to adjustment.

Payment schedules. A loan may have a fixed period of time to pay it back. Longer terms usually mean higher interest rates. Credit cards usually have monthly payments.

Secured vs. unsecured. If a loan is secured, that means you have put something that you own — referred to as collateral — up against it. If you don’t pay back the loan, the lender can seize your property. Unsecured loans do not have collateral and make up for this by having higher interest rates.

How will you pay it back?

It’s important that you never get a loan you can’t make the payments on. You should also think about what your financial situation will be in the future. Are you worried that you might lose your job? Are there medical expenses coming up? If so, it might be better to put off borrowing until you are in a more stable position.

You should give yourself some wiggle room. Interest rates can, and do, rise. This means you could end up paying more each period than you initially agreed to.

Remember that late payments will hurt your credit score. A very bad credit score will make it hard to take out loans in the future. It can make it almost impossible to buy a house, a car, or get on a lease for an apartment.

How to Avoid Burdensome Debt

The real killer with debt is the interest. Hence, the best way to avoid being swallowed by debt (behind not borrowing at all) is to avoid interest by paying everything off as soon as possible.

For example, you can still use your credit card as long as you completely pay the balance off every month. In fact, this is a great way to build credit in the beginning.

For other types of loans, putting more money down, paying above the minimum payments, and choosing the best available loans will save you in the long run.

 

* Thanks to site supporters for this post.

Self-Care: How to Combat Parental Burnout

Written by: Claire Adams

Do you ever get tired of parenting? Do you ever feel like you simply can’t take it anymore? Most parents reach that point from time to time, that moment when all you want to do scream and run away somewhere where somebody will pamper you for a change. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. If anything, the fact that you’re trying so hard makes you a good one. However, you should consider your own mental health and how parental burnout can affect you and your family if you don’t do something about it. If your mind is in overload and you don’t know how to get through another day of being an exemplary parent, here is some advice for you.

It takes a village to raise a child

It takes a lot of effort, devotion and patience to raise a child, but nobody can have it all under control all of the time. So, try not to be offended or threatened when another parent steps up and offers their wisdom and experience to help you in some situation you could be handling better. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that they only want to undermine you and show they’re a better parent than you, consider the fact that they might have been in your shoes and in a situation identical to this one in the past. Maybe at that point somebody helped them, or maybe they just wished somebody did. In any case, try becoming friends with other parents. They might offer some good advice on things like helping your kid with school stuff or dealing with them when they act out. Talk to moms and dads at school or at the playground, organize playdates and dinners to create your own village and maybe make parenting a bit easier.

It’s OK to ask for help

When taking care of your children seems too much to handle and you need some time off, remember that you can always ask for help and that it’s not something you should be ashamed of or hide from. There are many people you can turn to. It could be your spouse, your parents, siblings, friends or neighbors or anybody else you trust. When you try doing everything on your own, of course you’ll feel like you’re on the brink of madness. And if you have nobody close to you to jump in, there’s always the option of paying for help. For example, there are some amazing catering companies out there which will impress even the most demanding guests, meaning that you don’t have to make all the food for your kid’s birthday party yourself. Also, if cleaning your home takes too much of your time and energy, find somebody who’ll come once or twice a week and get things sorted out for you. Just don’t shy away from reaching out when the going gets tough.

Lower your expectations

When the bar is raised too high up, you won’t be able to reach it no matter how hard you try, which can leave you feeling inadequate, frustrated and desperate. When you notice that this is happening, remember that you’re the one who decides where the bar is and lower it a bit. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, because there is no perfection when it comes to parenthood. A lot of times it comes down to trial and error, whether we like to admit it or not. What does this mean? Basically, it means it’s not the end of the world if let things go when they get too difficult. Nobody will judge you if your house is messy from time to time, if you let your kids watch Trolls on TV or if they skip their piano lesson or football practice once in a while. Adjust your expectations to something more realistic and you’ll relieve yourself of some stress momentarily.

Be more than just a parent

Once you become a parent, it can become hard to remember that you were ever anything other than that. Well, you were and you are. You’re a person with needs, desires and ambitions that have nothing to do with your children. Send your kids to kindergarten and find a part-time job if you don’t already have one. You can even start working online from home, or at least find a hobby you’ll enjoy. If nothing else, don’t forget to give yourself some time away from your family occasionally, to do things that make you feel happy and help you unwind. Under no circumstances should you think that this is selfish. It’s a way to preserve your mental and physical health, so that you can be a calmer and more supportive parent to your children in the long term.

Parental burnout is a real problem and one you should deal with as soon as you feel the need to. Consider this an important part of your self-care and a way to stay on top of your parental role.

 

Splash Into The New Year With Aqua-Tots Swim Schools

A New Year usually brings new goals and resolutions. We love setting goals for ourselves individually and as a family. It helps us stay focused and be better versions of ourselves (as best as we can be of course).

This year one of our goals is to continue swimming lessons for our daughter Nikki. We just love how it has equipped Nikki with confidence to become a safe swimmer, while having fun. We have to mention the reassurance it has provided to us as parents to know that Nikki will be ok in the water. This goal of ours is called “Splashy Fun” and Nikki loves it! Of course, we will be attending Aqua-Tots Swim Schools as they are truly the very best in the swim school industry.

Now with two locations in Ontario, Mississauga and a newly opened one in Burlington that we announced last Fall, you have some great options.

As a refresher, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools has almost 30 years of experience in teaching children life-long water safety skills. Their state-of-the-art heated pools are complimented by an engaging curriculum, which is especially designed to match each child’s life stage. Swim classes are offered to babies as young as four months old and all the way up to age 12.

The school also offers a unique opportunity for multiple siblings of various ages and swim abilities to take lessons within the same time frame. On-going progress reports are used to ensure that each child has the ability to learn and progress at a pace that is comfortable for each child.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is managed by parents; therefore, they understand the importance of a flexible schedule. This is why they offer perpetual enrolment, various plan options, a convenient make up class policy and great membership perks.

Bring a Friend on us

One of the perks that is happening this January at the Burlington location is the “Bring A Friend on Us.” It applies to all members who would like to bring a family member or friend with their baby, tot or school-age child to any class through the month. This is a fantastic way to get a friend or a family member to try out one swim class at no cost to them. Believe us, your friend will thank you later for introducing you to this great school.

Please note that to take advantage of this offer, the member would need to contact the school directly and in advance to ensure there is availability in the class in which they would like to participate in with their friend.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?!

We will be checking out the new Burlington location this month and we can’t wait to give you all our full review, including an exclusive Nikki video of her experience. You don’t want to miss it later this month!

If you would like to start your New Year right with swim lessons for your child, click here.

We are excited to make a splash at Burlington and keep our “Splashy Fun Goal.”

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

 

-Momma Braga

 

This article is a paid partnership with Aqua-Tots Swim Schools. Views and opinions expressed here belong to Momma Braga.

Tomato Soup | Recipe

A soup that my mom would make for us is tomato soup but it isn’t exactly what you think as we don’t actually use tomatoes. 😉

If you are looking for a simple and hearty soup recipe then this may be the one for you.

INGREDIENTS

  • Water
  • Tomato Paste
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Knorr of Chicken
  • Onions
  • Pasta (we usually use small pasta)
  • Potatoes
  • Boiled Chicken Breast (marinated with salt, black pepper and garlic powder)

DIRECTIONS

  • First clean the chicken breast and marinate it with some salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Once completed, boil it first until it is fully cooked.
  • Once chicken breast is cooked, remove it from the water. Shred the chicken breast into pieces to add into the soup afterwards.
  • In a new pot, add water for the soup. It is always best to almost fill to the top as water does decrease when boiled. Add a teaspoon of tomato paste, some salt, a dash of olive oil and knorr of chicken.
  • Clean and cut 2 onions into quarters and add to pot of water.
  • We also peel potatoes and cut them into small pieces to add into the soup.
  • Once all ingredients are added, turn the heat onto medium.
  • Stir as necessary and once potatoes are almost fully cooked, add the pasta and shredded chicken. Take a quick taste to see if additional salt needs to be added.
  • Once pasta is cooked, the soup is ready.

That is it! A simple recipe that is hearty and delicious! Enjoy!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

Bad Kitty Kitten Trouble | Book Review

Who doesn’t love funny cats? I know I sure do!

The New York Times bestselling series, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel is back with a new book titled, Kitten Trouble.

Synopsis

“There’s terrible news from the neighborhood next to Kitty’s! A conflict there is growing worse and worse. It started as an argument and has now turned into a full-fledged fight. Worst of all: The cat shelter has been destroyed!

Kitty’s family decides it’s time to do something to help. Their idea: foster as many displaced kittens as possible. Kitty won’t mind, right? Well…not exactly. Kitty does seem to mind. She minds A LOT.”

#MelAndNikkiReview

A hilarious book filled with heart is what can be expected from Kitten Trouble. Kitty learns important lessons in the book about sharing, caring and forgiving. All lessons that us as readers can learn from too. We don’t want to spoil the book for others; therefore, we won’t disclose too much. 😉

We loved the flow of the book, illustrations, and the facts about cats in the book (fantastic touch!). There are even a touch of French words in the book but don’t worry as a glossary is included. 😉

We give Bad Kitty Kitten Trouble, 5 meows out of 5! We recommend this book for children ages seven to ten. This book will be available on December 31, 2018.

If you would like to purchase your own copy, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

Fleur de Reine Provides Timeless Beauty | Exclusive Interview

Bringing unique products, brands and people to our worldwide audience is what we love doing best. We love to meet new and inspiring people who do so much more than just sell a product.

This is why we are delighted to introduce you all to Fleur de Reine who we were honored to have met at Square One’s Merry and Bright Holiday Market.

We had an opportunity to interview the owners of Fleur de Reine to get to know them and their product better. We like to go beyond the company website. 😉

Tell us a little bit about yourselves

Sonia – “I grew up in Australia and Canada, and now call Mississauga home. I love to spend my days surrounded by my large family (proud aunt alert!) and explore all Toronto has to offer. Love to travel and have always had a passion for art and flowers. I am a coffee addict by day and by night.” :p

Roopie – “I was born in Toronto and raised in Mississauga. Currently reside in beautiful Milton. I love to travel and have an appreciation for beautiful artisan created things. Fun fact: Chocolate is my kryptonite.” 🙂

Tell us a little bit about the company and how it inspired to be.

“We’ve always had a keen eye for style and beauty, and knew we wanted to start a company that encompasses both. It wasn’t until one late evening we were reminiscing Sonia’s wedding and reliving all the beautiful moments and décor. The flowers were extravagant and the colors were so bold, we thought to ourselves “wouldn’t it be nice if flowers could last longer than a week?” and so it was that late evening while sipping on some wine that the idea was born.”

What makes you unique?

“Roses are timeless that adorn the space they ‘re placed in, but Fleur de Reine added a modern element by our unique preservation process. Whether it’s a rose purchased for love, passion, new beginnings, celebrations, appreciation or friendship – thanks to the EternalBloom™, it lasts through the seasons. Imagine purchasing real roses that last a year. Fleur de Reine is revolutionizing the way we gift flowers.”

What do you hope your business will accomplish with each rose sold?

We hope the beauty and longevity of our roses will uplift your spirits and brighten your days. We also offer a variety of beautiful packaging options and personalization services. Our vision is to create the ultimate quintessential experiences and give our clients a piece of beauty to cherish in their homes for always. We have turned the timeless flower into just that – timeless.”

Lastly, anything new and exciting that you would like to announce to our readers?

“We are adding a new piece to our Glass House Collection for Valentine’s Day 2019! We are now offering shipping within North America.

We were also featured in Dolce Magazine & West of the City Magazine this year! Last but not least, we’re always popping up at different locations, so please stay tuned to our IG for upcoming details.”

#MelAndNikkiReview

There you have it, our exclusive interview with the owners of Fleur de Reine. We need to mention that these two ladies are classy, kind, professional and friendly. It was so great to meet them in person as we could see that this is not just a business but a passion of theirs and we love that!

Every rose and packaging was perfect in every way. I was so captivated by the roses that I purchased a glass ornament with a black rose for my sister-in-law for Christmas. It was absolutely breathtaking and I know my sister-in-law is going to love it.

Interesting fact is that the black roses are their best seller – would have never believed it!

We were truly impressed with the products, uniqueness, quality and above all the passion that goes into each rose. This is why we give Fleur de Reine 5+++ roses out of 5! We are also listing them on our “recommended list.”

This would make a perfect gift for any occasion. If you would like to order, click here. Or if you are in the Square One area, you can drop by the Merry and Bright Holiday Market before December 24, 2018 to purchase in person.

Make sure to follow Fleur de Reine on Instagram to see which locations they are in next.

A special thank you to Sonia and Roopie for the opportunity to interview them for this special feature.

Until next time… Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

The Best Ways for Parents to Earn Some Extra Money Online

As a parent, you’re probably always worrying about your money and whether or not you have enough of it. Raising a family is expensive and no one can deny that. However, there are ways to earn extra money on the side if you want to achieve a better financial balance and feel more financially comfortable each month. Here are the very best ways to earn money on the side online today.

Get Paid to Take Surveys

Taking surveys online is a good way to make money these days. Of course, you’re not going to get rich quick doing this but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. It’s easy, painless and you’ll get some extra cash to spend on nice things at the end of the month. For most families, that’s all they need. Give it a try and see how much you can earn; you might just be surprised.

Do Tasks to Gather Reward Points

Another similar idea involves completing simple tasks and earning reward points for doing so. There are numerous sites that offer you the chance to do this. This MyPoints review will give you a basic idea of what it involves and why you might want to give it a try. It allows you to earn money for doing very little, and that can never be a bad thing, right? It’s worth trying and seeing if there are any tasks you want to earn money doing.

Sell Your Photos

If you’re a keen photographer and this is something you enjoy doing on the side, you should do what you can to monetise it. It’s a smart move because it gives you the chance to make money from something you enjoy. You can sell your photos to stock photo companies or you could sell them directly to customers if they’re good enough for that.

Do Remote Admin Work

Admin work is needed like never before and more and more of it is now being done remotely from home by people like you. You can decide when and how you work, so you can fit it around your life. It’s a great way of earning a little extra money. If you’ve worked in admin before, you should find it pretty easy to slot into this type of work.

Sell Your Unwanted Possessions

If you have a load of old possessions that you don’t particularly want anymore, why not do something with them? This is something that’s never been easier to do and it makes sense if all that stuff is just sitting in storage. Use eBay to find people who really want to buy the stuff that you consider to be unwanted junk.

These days, there are so many ways to make some extra money on the side as a parent. The digital economy is booming and there’s no reason why you can’t make some money on the side to make your family’s life more comfortable and flexible. So why not look into some of the ideas outlined above?

 

When Santa Was A Baby | Book Review

We all have stories of when we were babies and I am sure we are holding on to stories of our children that we will one day share with them. But what about the iconic Santa Claus?

What is his story and how was he as a baby? If you are wondering or if your little one is wondering then look no further.

We are delighted to introduce you all to When Santa Was A Baby. This humourous and fun loving children’s book is written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout.

Synopsis

Santa’s parents think their little one is absolutely wonderful, even though he has a booming voice instead of a baby’s gurgle, loves to stand in front of the refrigerator, gives his birthday presents away, trains his hamsters to pull a matchbox sleigh…and has an unusual interest in chimneys. The adorably funny portrait of an oddball kid who fulfills his destiny – and two very proud parents.

#MelAndNikkiReview

A beautifully written and illustrated Christmas story that we are going to continue to love as the years go by. We simply loved When Santa Was A Baby. It offered a dash of humour and the magic of Christmas that we need in children’s books. It gave us a little taste of how Santa was as a baby and how proud his parents are of him no matter what he decided to do in life. But we have to say that he did pick a great profession as he brings so much joy to children around the world. 😉

For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give When Santa Was A Baby 5+++ Reindeers out of 5! It is a great book and Nikki has been wanting to read it every night until the big day arrives. We truly enjoyed the book and even Nikki’s Auntie enjoyed reading it to her too. It is a great book for the whole family read together.

If you would like to purchase your very own, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*The book was provided in exchange for an honest review. Compensation was not provided and opinions expressed are solely of Momma Braga.

 

Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe | Perfect For Christmas

Gearing up our children for the start of school can be scary for both parents and child. I know that is how we felt before our little Nikki started school this year. But with all our prepping and teaching leading up to the first day made the transition a bit easier for the both of us.

VTech also recognizes the importance of the first day of school. To help preschoolers for this important milestone, VTech has developed the Preschool Learning series of interactive toys. One of these toys in the series is the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe and we are delighted to share our thoughts on it for all of you!

The Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe features an interactive desktop with activity cards that introduce letters, numbers, music, colors and much more. Extend playtime with additional activity packs that each focus on a specific curriculum (each sold separately). Flip up the desktop and create a masterpiece using the art station or chalkboard. For more fun, play with the toy telephone or listen to fun tunes on the music player. The possibilities are endless!


Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe Features

There are so many wonderful features that we briefly touched on above but now let us break it down for you. 😉

Mode Switch

You have two modes to pick from which are the Activity Mode and Music Mode. Activity Mode is where all the features will be accessible. The Music Mode is where the activity page area will become deactivated so you can use the desktop for reading or listening to music.

Toy Telephone Mode Buttons

In the Toy Telephone Mode, you can learn numbers and even Call A Friend Mode. You can also press the Number Buttons to learn and explore numbers.

LED Display

The LED Display is where you can see games, pictures or animations.

Cartridge Slot

Each expansion pack (sold separately) comes with a cartridge. To play an expansion pack, insert the cartridge, then insert one of the pack’s activity cards.

Music Player Controls

Press the “Play” button to Play/Stop the music, and press the ‘forward’ or ‘back’ buttons to go to the previous or next song.

Volume Buttons

As parents we can really appreciate and love this feature which is the volume adjust button. There are five volume levels. Adjust it to the way that works for you and your family.

Activity Card Slot

Insert one of the activity cards into this SLOT to play.

Activity Page Mode Icons

Use your finger to touch any of the Mode Icons on the activity page to play.

Activity Page Area

Follow the game instructions and use your finger to touch the objects on the activity page to play.

Art Station

The Activity Desk is not only a learning centre but you can flip it up and it transforms to an art station. You can use the clip to hold a paper for some drawing or use the chalkboard surface to chalk a masterpiece.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We absolutely love the Touch & Learn Activity Desk DeluxeThis activity desk has so much to offer little ones and it is a great stepping stone into the next milestone of learning. There are so many fun activities and options available to provide hours of fun. Nikki’s favorite part is the ability to transform the activity desk to an art station. We find it brings out her artistic side but also encourages her to try and write out the letters that she is learning. Nikki also loves using the activity cards to learn. We are delighted that with the activity cards she has learned so much more. The learning that she does with the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe gives her that extra confidence that every child needs. Therefore, we give the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe 5+++ stars out of 5!

We love it so much that we have placed the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe on our recommended list! It offers diverse learning with an interactive touch which makes it so much more fun for any child. VTech has truly developed an amazing toy that encompasses all that a child and a parent would hope for. It allows a child to have fun, learn and be creative all in one. Couldn’t ask for anything better!

If you would like to purchase one for your little one (highly recommended) you can click here for the purple and pink and click here for the red and yellow option.

We are sure it will light up the hearts and minds of your little one.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

* This product was given in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are solely of Momma Braga.

Pregnancy- Dealing With The Difficulties

Whether it’s a surprise or a much-wanted gift, pregnancy certainly isn’t easy. From the physical symptoms to the hormonal mood swings, it can be one hell of a rollercoaster ride. If you’re finding that you’re suffering during your pregnancy, here are some of the difficulties you may be facing and what to do about them.

Pixabay

Morning Sickness

It may be called morning sickness but that doesn’t mean it just happens in the morning. A lot of women suffer from nausea and sickness all day long during the first trimester, and for some unlucky women it lasts the whole pregnancy. It can be nothing less than debilitating, so if you’re suffering badly and there’s no remedy you can find that helps, you need to speak to your midwife or doctor. They may be able to prescribe something that eases the symptoms for you.

Pixabay

Your Relationship

It’s often difficult for men and women to connect and communicate during pregnancy. You may feel like your relationship is suffering and you’re both under stress. You’ll likely both have different sets of priorities and it can be tough to understand one another. Set some time aside and spend a few hours trying to communicate with each other. You may want to seek the advice of a counsellor if you’re unable to settle things alone.

Your Mental Health

There are a lot of hormonal changes going on in a pregnant woman’s body. You may be finding that you’re feeling low or depressed. Many pregnant women don’t feel like they can talk about this for fear of being judged that they aren’t happy about the pregnancy. If you’re feeling this way, it may help you to visit a women’s health clinic and discuss your feelings. It could help you to make the right choices, depending on your situation.

Pixabay

Unable to Work

Some women find that they are unable to work due to the severe symptoms of their pregnancies. It could be morning sickness, migraines, dizziness or any number of ailments that prevents them from working. If you’re unable to work during your pregnancy, you may be worried about your income. Talk to your midwife about support you may be entitled to. Mothers who are not working can sometimes claim grants and vouchers to help towards setting the home up for their new arrival and pregnancy vitamins to keep mother and baby healthy.

Talk to Other Mothers

There are a lot of pregnancies that aren’t straight forward. Whether it’s because of worries about the baby’s health, complications during birth or worry about loss, it’s always good to know you’re not alone. Hearing positive stories from women who have been through the same situation can give you the positivity you need to get through your pregnancy. If you don’t want to join groups and talk face to face, there are some fantastic online forums, like Mumsnet, where you can join in conversations, ask questions or just read through previous threads.

Good luck and stay healthy!

 

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