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Claire @ October Rain

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Small Ways To Study Better

Whether it’s for an exam for school or college or simply to learn a new skill for your career, studying is always going to be a chore. As much as we like to think we enjoy learning, the act of studying is never much of a favorite and we often end up spending so much time studying that we forget who we are! If we want to make sure we are able to do well on our exams or learn a new skill effectively, study is super important and we need to get better at it. Here are some of our top tips to help you in your study and make things easier this year.

Have a walk

Before you try to knuckle down and study for the day, make sure you take the time out to go for a walk. Walking in the local park or the countryside is always a good way to reset the mind and clear our head before a big study session. It can also wake us up and increase our chances of remembering important facts when we are in the middle of our study. It is also a great excuse to get out of the house for a little while!

Read out loud

One of the things you may already know about learning is that you need to read out loud rather than reading in your mind to retain more information. As we process information reading silently, we aren’t retaining the same level of information because our brains aren’t having to process the information very much, however when we read aloud our brain needs to form words and this can cement what we are learning into our minds more easily.

Listen

If you are really struggling with a certain subject and you feel as if you need that extra magic touch, you can record yourself talking about the subject and listen to it as your sleep. As we sleep and we are listening to speaking our brain is unconsciously processing the information and it is allowing us to carry on learning subliminally. Even if we aren’t aware, our brain is retaining information and after a week or so of doing this if you revisit the subject, you should find it much easier to grasp.

Study online

Study tips aren’t just about the method and the speed, it can also be about the way we decide to study and when. If you want to have the best study schedule for you which will fit around your life you can visit this website to look at online courses. No one likes sitting in a classroom for hours and you don’t need to fit classes into your life with online work. It allows you to work at your own pace which is always a good thing for us and the way we are able to learn.

Eat chocolate

YES. You read that right. Chocolate is actually exactly what you need to eat before you go into an exam or a big study session due to the chemicals it contains. Chocolate is a mood booster and it will make us feel calm and relaxed and also allows us to retain more information by activating the brain. Eating chocolate an hour before an exam can make a big difference to your performance, and it’s an excuse to eat your favorite candy bar!

Take a break

Never study for more than an hour without a break. Even if you think you are on a roll with your studies and that you are nailing it, you are most likely doing yourself more harm than good if you don’t give yourself time to process and reset. Our brain needs time to process information and consolidate it, and we need to do this regularly if we are to retain the information properly. After an hour, take 5-10 minutes to sit and do something else or go outside for a few minutes of fresh air. You can then come back feeling fresh and ready to continue,

Teach

If you want to retain information better and also make sure that you are able to understand the whole theory of what you are reading, you need to teach someone else. Find someone who is totally new to a subject and teach them a chapter of your subject. If they can understand the theory and be able to get questions right afterward, it means that you are on the right track. You can even think about teaching a group of people to see how much you can push your knowledge.

Short bursts

As we mentioned earlier, the last thing you want to do is spend 3 hours sat down staring at a book. Instead, you need to think about studying for an hour here and there and doing other things in between. You could study for an hour then go and hang the washing out, study for another hour and go for lunch… make it part of your normal day but don’t let it take over everything.

Play a game

If you want to learn in a more fun way, you can either come up with a game to play or you could even think about doing a quiz with other people who are studying the same thing. Study games Can be super fun to do and they can turn what would normally be a chore into something which is actually really enjoyable for you to do with your friends.

Use a friend

Speaking of friends… we all know that two heads are better than one, and even if your friend isn’t studying with you it doesn’t mean that they can’t help you with it. A friend, your partner or family member can be a driving force for you to work and they can set you challenges as well as make sure you are staying on track by giving you the motivation to work. If you are lazy they can overpower you and make sure that you aren’t procrastinating. They’ll hold you accountable and you will benefit from the push.

To Buy Or Rent A Home? The Answer Is Trickier Than You Think

Something really strange happened in the housing market over the last decade. Interest rates went down thanks to the massive stimulus of central banks, and suddenly mortgage payments were cut. People took home slightly more money at the end of the month, allowing them to pay off debts and spend a little more on other services.

The government achieved its goal: get the economy back on track (even if it did take a long time). But something strange happened in the housing market. Lower interest rates ultimately didn’t make paying the mortgage any cheaper. Instead, it allowed banks to lend more against property, forcing the price of homes back above their long-run price trend. The absolute value of loan repayments for the average family stayed roughly the same, despite the cut in interest rates, because the amount of money borrowed on the mortgage was much bigger.

The good news is that the mortgage market seems to be more sustainable overall than it was before the financial crisis. Although prices are still high, the average family is paying about the same proportion of their disposable income to service the debt as they were in 2000, which isn’t bad.

The question, though, is whether this situation will last forever. Should people be buying their homes and taking on mortgages? Or is renting a better option, given the precarious state of government policy?

Conditions In The Economy May Change …

The most significant risk to homeowners at the moment is a rise in the rate of interest. Central banks around the world, led by the Federal Reserve in New York, have hinted that interest rates will soon be returning to their historical norm, somewhere between 3 and 5 per cent. Currently sitting at around 2 per cent, central banks are already raising rates, hoping to calm inflation on the broader economy.

Rising rates may be bad news, at least in the short term, in the housing market. For starters, mortgages are large, about four times the average annual income, and therefore higher than the historical norm. Large mortgages mean that any increase in interest rates will lead to large increases in monthly payments on debt. Consumers, already struggling to get by, may need to foreclose to prevent bankruptcy. Existing homeowners who have already paid off their mortgage may also suffer if an increase in interest rates forces house prices down. House prices could fall if high-interest rates prevent banks from lending so much to borrowers.

Homeowners also need to keep an eye on inflation. Should inflation rise too high, perhaps because of a booming economy, central banks will have no choice but to use the policy levers at their disposal and try to prevent a boom by increasing rates still further.

Is Renting The Answer?

One way to protect against the fluctuations in the housing market is to rent. Sure, rents might go up or down following turmoil in the overall market, but these payments are usually fixed for a 12 month period and can be renegotiated. Importantly, there’s no debt involved when renting, so renters don’t need to worry about interest rates, at least not directly.

But renting may offer some other advantages over buying a house outright. It’s a widely held conception that purchasing a home makes more financial sense over the long run than does renting. But it turns out that renting can sometimes work out cheaper, especially when you consider the full cost of home ownership.

How many times have you heard somebody say “renting is money down the drain?” It’s often assumed that when you rent, you’re throwing your money away. However, that’s not entirely true. For starters, you’re getting shelter for yourself (and your family), which isn’t free. And secondly, even when you buy a house outright, you’re still “throwing money away” because you have to pay additional property taxes, interest on the mortgage, and other legal fees.

On top of that, there’s also the fact that homeownership comes with many expenses besides the obvious repayments on the mortgage. Homeowners must take responsibility for all the little costs associated with running a home whereas renters don’t usually have to bother. Data from Forbes suggests that these additional costs may sum to as much as 50 per cent of the overall cost of the mortgage, meaning that owning a home could carry a massive premium. Insurance costs, taxes, maintenance fees, and utilities can all make a severe dent in one’s finances.

Rent For The Short Term, Buy For The Long Term

Another reason people love to buy houses is that they see them as an investment. But there’s a problem with this idea: homes are not productive assets and, therefore, probably shouldn’t be considered an investment, especially if they aren’t being rented out.

Robert Schiller, famed macroeconomist and scholar of the property market, says that for most families, their home is not an investment. Instead, it’s a money sink: somewhere they pour the majority of their financial resources. He’s gone as far as to say that only a few wealthy people at the top of the income pyramid should own their own homes – the rest should rent.

There’s a rational reason for this. Schiller says that most people invest too much of their capital in property. Their overall portfolio of assets is skewed towards housing rather than other forms of investment, and they end up being overexposed to the volatile property sector. Renting, he says, is probably better, since it reduces overall risk, and allows people to spend their spare money on other investments that can generate returns over the long term.

With that said, some people can benefit from buying their own home: those who want to live in a specific location for a long time. Not only can they benefit from rising house prices, but they also reap the rewards of rent-free living once they pay off the mortgage.

Is Buying Too Risky?

Not all arguments are in favour of renting. In fact, there’s a lot that homeowners can do to reduce their risks when buying outright, making it more appealing.

First off, buyers can reduce their risks by insuring against default. As you discover more about owning a home, you soon find out that it can be a risky business. The primary income earner can get sick or die, leaving the rest of the family saddled with unaffordable repayments. Insurance products, however, can not only provide payouts if somebody dies but help to keep a family in their home by meeting mortgage expenses should the worst happen.

Second, buyers can reduce risks by sticking with fixed-rate mortgages. Although they have higher rates than variable mortgages, fixed-rate products protect homeowners against the seemingly inevitable interest rate hikes coming down the pike.

Calculating Costs

The only way to really find out whether renting is cheaper than buying overall is to use a “rent versus buy” calculator. These calculators take into account the basics, such as the cost of rent or mortgage over a fixed time interval, but also many of the costs involved in running a home. The best calculators provide a present value estimate of the total cost of renting versus ownership, giving you a figure in today’s terms for how much either option will cost you.

As with any calculator on the internet, renting versus buying calculators depend on accurate inputs. They need you to have a good grasp of the costs that you expect to incur when owning a home, some of which we’ve discussed here. If you don’t know these, then any estimates you get out of them will be nonsense.

Once you’ve got an output from the calculator, check to see how much the overall costs differ from one another. In theory, they should be reasonably close if the market is working correctly, but not always. Different areas can have different markups for renting and owning, so it’s still a good idea to check.

The Psychic Benefits Of Home Ownership

The biggest flaw in Schiller’s argument is that he assumes that people are only concerned with financial matters, and not with other psychological benefits. But for many, there are intangibles, such as social status, associated with home ownership, which may explain why so many people work so hard to achieve it.

People associate home ownership with success and raising a family: important life goals. And so the very notion of owning a home might have value above renting. It all depends on the kind of person you are. Owning a home might make you less mobile, but if you don’t mind about that and just want to settle down with a family, then it may be the right option for you. Yes, there will be hassles along the way, such as a broken down boiler, but renters have to face the same issues too. Homeownership might be riskier than renting, but it also gives a person a sense of belonging and purpose. And ultimately, that’s what makes for a fulfilling and joyful life.

The Ultimate Bucket List Of Capital Cities

Not too sure where you should travel to for your next vacation? If you’re still trying to figure it out, why not narrow down your search for the best destination by only considering capital cities. These are the main cities in countries and are usually where the royal family or parliament are based. As they are so important, there is often a great range of culture in them, from national museums and galleries to thrilling sports stadiums and fantastic shopping opportunities. Not only that, though, but the food and nightlife scenes in the majority of capital cities are pretty hard to beat! If you visit a capital, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun, whether you are traveling as a family, in a group of friends, or on your own.

But which capital city will you head to? Here are some of the best in the world.

Paris, France

When people visit Europe, they almost always add Paris to their travel list. This is especially the case for couples who are traveling together as it is said to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. Not only that, though, but it is also unmistakably beautiful and features some of the best architecture in the whole of Europe. It’s also a winner when it comes to food as well. There are all kinds of eateries in the city, from well-heeled gourmet restaurants to chic diners, all of which serve up traditional Parisian specialities. Don’t forget to stop into a boulangerie and sample a croissant as well!

London, England

London is another very popular capital city in Europe. It’s possibly the most famous city in the world, in fact, and you will no doubt already be quite familiar with some of its sites and attractions, including Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. But seeing them up close with your own eyes is something else! There are also lots of pathways along the River Thames, so you will be able to soak up the sights on a leisurely walk. It’s also a good idea to visit some of the city’s iconic museums and galleries, including the Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Tokyo, Japan

Why not head out east to soak up a culture that is completely different to yours? This is a very busy city, and many people enjoy the energy and atmosphere of it all. If you aren’t too keen on the hectic city life, you can get out of the urban center to see some of the more traditional side of Tokyo. There are lots of peaceful temples and shrines that you can visit. There’s also a surprising amount of greenery in this busy city, including the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. This is a traditional Japanese garden that also features an English section. You might also want to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market to grab a delicious sushi breakfast or just watch the energetic market sellers sell their wares.

Ottawa, Canada

Many people think that Toronto is the capital of Canada. Some even think that it is Vancouver. However, they are both wrong. In actual fact, Canada’s capital city is Ottawa, which is located in the province of Ontario. There’s a lot to do in Ottawa, so it’s surprising that it doesn’t attract more tourists than what it currently does. It’s worth heading to Parliament Hill to check out the Neo-Gothic parliament building that overlooks the Ottawa River. If you stand on the banks of the river here, you should be able to see the province of Quebec in the distance. It’s also worth visiting ByWard Market to sample some artisan delights.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Of course, it’s not just the well-developed capital cities that you should consider adding to your bucket list. There are some beautiful ones in developing countries as well. Just take Jakarta, for instance. It’s the capital of Indonesia and is already a popular destination with backpackers as it is so cheap to visit. There are many Airbnb rooms, hostels, and long-term rentals like https://www.rumah.com/apartemen-disewa/di-area-kelapa-gading-idjk05007 available. While you are in Jakarta, you could head out to the coast to relax on its sunny beaches. If you are into roller coasters, you could always check out the thrilling Ancol Dreamland theme park too. Don’t forget to stop by the National Monument, which is an icon of the Indonesian people.

Berlin, Germany

The city of Berlin is steeped in history, so there is no wonder why people wanting to soak up all of this modern history head to its museums. If you want to learn about ancient civilizations, it’s worth spending a day in the Pergamon Museum, which you can read more about at https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/pergamon-museum. To find out how the Second World War affected the city, check out the Deutsches Historisches Museum, the Topography of Terror, and the somber Jewish Memorial. The Berliners love their flea markets, and there is always one to wander through on a Sunday morning. Possibly the most famous in the city has to be the one in Mauerpark in the city’s Prenzlauer Berg district.

Moscow, Russia

Have you ever fancied visiting Russia? If so, the capital city of Moscow is the perfect place to start. It might take a bit of time sorting out visas, but it will definitely be worth it! There’s a lot of unique culture to experience in the city, and the best place to start is at the beautiful Kremlin. You won’t be able to access too much of this building, but it’s simply stunning to look at. Saint Basil’s Cathedral is also gorgeous and will make for some amazing Instagram shots! You should also book a night at the Bolshoi Theater to see some of the best ballet dancers in the world perform on stage.

There is so much to see and do in every capital city that no matter where you go, you are sure to have a fantastic and unforgettable time.

Choosing Between Shopify & WordPress When Adding Ecommerce To Your Blog

As it currently stands, over a quarter of the world’s websites are built using WordPress. This system has long dominated the online world, with very few people realising quite how popular this blogging platform really is. Of course, though, just because something is the most prolific, it doesn’t mean that it is always the best. To give you an idea of the differences between the options out there, this post will be exploring Shopify and WordPress side-by-side, showing you exactly what makes each of them tick.

Shopify

Shopify is a little newer than WordPress, and this means that it benefits from an admin portal and UI which is a little easier for some people to use. It is designed mostly for people who want to sell things, forcing some of its other features to be a little stripped back compared to what you might be used to. This is a shame for bloggers, as it makes it hard to move all of your content to it without changing the way that you structure it. There are plugins available for Shopify, but you’re often only given one option for each job you want to perform, restricting you to working with tools which you might not like. You can’t host it on your own server, either, giving you less choice when it comes to the hosting being used.

WordPress

WordPress can’t handle ecommerce on its own, and will need the help of a dedicated plugin like WooCommerce to make it work. There are a lot of other plugins for WordPress, though, making it far easier to accomplish other goals with this system. Along with this, it can be installed on any sort of system, giving you the power to use your own hosting, while also enabling developers to work on your project without having to run the site online. WordPress was originally built as a blogging platform, and this side of it hasn’t been forgotten. The whole system is perfect for those who want to share content like this.

Which Is Better?

Choosing which of these platforms is better isn’t as simple as looking at them on their own. Shopify is better for some jobs than WordPress, and vice versa. For both examples, having a company like https://www.flewid.ca to help you with the development of your site will be a great idea, as neither of them are the easiest platforms in the world to get used to. If you’d like to get started on your own, though, you could consider taking one of the many online courses which surround this area. Whatever you choose to use, it will be worth making sure that the other parts of your site are being looked after, too.

With all of this in mind, you should have an easier start to the research you need to do before choosing the platform for your website. A lot of people neglect this area, choosing to jump onto the first option which they find. In reality, though, this is a serious market, and it is worth being in the know before making any big choices.

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is a big step. Being such a complicated process, it’s not uncommon for first-time home-buyers to overlook things and make costly mistakes. Here are just several expensive blunders to avoid.

Not shopping around for mortgages

Many first-time homebuyers spend a lot of time shopping around for property, but very little time shopping around for mortgages. In fact, some homebuyers may settle for whatever their bank offers, without comparing other lenders. This could result in you paying much more in debt than you need to.

In many cases, you’re much better off using a broker than a bank. Why use a mortgage broker vs a bank? Brokers compare multiple mortgages for you and can give you expert advice helping you to understand complex terms and work within your budget. They may even have access to exclusive deals that you can’t find on the market due to having close relationships with lenders. Some mortgage lenders will charge a small fee for their services, but generally you’ll still save a lot of money by using them.

Only budgeting for the down payment

When saving up to buy a property, most people focus all their energy on being able to afford the down payment – this is the most expensive upfront cost. However, there are many other upfront costs that need to be budgeted for too such as conveyancer fees, surveyor fees, van hire/removals hire and first month’s mortgage payment. These extras can cost thousands altogether.

On top of budgeting for these upfront costs, it’s important to also not ignore your monthly mortgage fees – there’s no use taking out a mortgage with an affordable down payment if you can’t realistically afford the payments each month. Bills, home repairs and taxes are just a few other monthly expenses you’ll have to budget for too.

Failing to hire a surveyor

A property surveyor is always worth hiring because you commit to making a purchase on a property. Surveyors check the property for any hidden problems that could be costly in the long run such as signs of structural damage or subsidence. They can give you an idea of how much money you may need to put into repairs and whether it’s worth your while. Surveyors may charge few hundred dollars, but hiring them could save you thousands in many cases. It’s best shopping around to find a surveyor within your budget who also has a good reputation.

Allowing yourself to get rushed into a purchase

Buying a property is not a process that you want to rush – it could be the most expensive thing you buy in your life time. A lot of people within the trade may try to rush you into making decisions. Agents for example may often try to push buyers into a purchase by claiming lots of other people have viewed the property, whilst mortgage lenders may try to push you into taking out a loan from them there and then. It’s important to not let them pressure you into making a purchase until you feel confident that this is the right option for you. Of course, you don’t want to spend too long deciding whether to make a purchase on a property, otherwise it could get snatched up by someone else, however you shouldn’t ever make a decision there and then – give yourself enough time to compare multiple properties/mortgages and mull over the pros and cons of each one.

Not considering the future

Your future circumstances could change in which the case the perfect property for you now may not be the perfect property for you in a couple years. For example, if you’re a couple, consider whether you’re planning to have kids and whether the home has enough space. Also consider whether you’re likely to change job soon and whether this may affect your commute or your income.

It’s important to also consider what you may be able to do with a property in the future in terms of renovations. You may find a property that’s got a few imperfections, but it could be under your budget allowing you to make future improvements and fix up the property to your specs. You may be able to knock down interior walls or replace an ugly bathtub or change the layout of a kitchen – the beauty of buying versus renting is the fact that you can make these modifications.

How To Make Your First Place Your Own

We all love the idea of independence. Whether its university dorms, your first shared pad with your significant other, or a flat you live in independently, having a space to call your own is a great feeling. When it gets to the point in your life where you have your own place, then you may be desperate to get stuck in and make it your own. Below are some handy tips to get you inspired for making your first place your own through some simple and easy solutions.

Thinking practically…

DIY projects are a great idea

Simple DIY projects are not only a fun way to spend your time but are also great for anybody who needs to save money. They allow you to put a personal touch to your furniture. Some fun ideas include putting in your own shelves in a window space for plants, upcycling a clothing rack for closet space, and making your own jewelry organizer you can tuck away and keep out of sight.

Think of space-saving solutions

Get creative with shelving as this can be a real space saver, and add hooks here and there to keep your space from getting too cluttered. It can be easy to get carried away with decorating your first home and not think practically. Consider some additions that will help you with everyday living, such as an allocated space for your mail, a closet for your coats and shoes, and savvy additions such as nesting coffee tables.

Think of a colour scheme… and stick to it

Many people get ahead of themselves when they move into their first place. It can be easy to get overexcited and purchase everything in sight when you hit a home store, leaving you with confused décor and clashing colours. Rather, stick to a set theme of several complementing colours, and slowly but surely find key pieces of furniture and décor that tie into this theme. See your place transform over time into a calming space, where yourself and your guests can feel at ease with an aura of balance and tranquility.   

Make it personal…

Invest in cozy additions

Feeling cozy and at home is paramount once you finally move into your own space. To achieve this, consider features that will add style and comfort to your home, along with a modern touch. This could be as simple as modern kitchen appliances, to heating solutions such as bench radiators. After all, what could be better than a comfortable, warm space that also offers the latest in décor for you to enjoy? Head to www.warmrooms.co.uk to get inspired and find out more.

Decorate the walls

Nobody likes a blank wall. Take your time to find some pieces of artwork that really appeal to you, or spend a chilled afternoon collating your favourite photos to put in a multi-picture frame to hang in your living room. Whether you use wallpaper, shelving, houseplants, photos or artwork, give your space a touch of personality and it’ll soon transform into an ultimate cozy pad where you enjoy spending all of your time.