Saving up for the perfect holiday

Saving up for a holiday is hard enough, but when you’ve got kids to feed, clothe and entertain, putting away a few extra pennies can seem almost impossible.

But don’t despair, by choosing cheap family holidays with the Co-operative Travel and making a few small savings every day, you and your brood could be enjoying sun, sea and relaxation before you know it.

Saving for Holiday Travel

Set some goals

If you all know exactly what you’re all working towards, making a few small sacrifices along the way won’t be as hard, and your kids will understand why they can’t get those brand new trainers or the latest games console.

So before you start tightening that belt, sit down as a family and discuss what you all want from a holiday. Once you’ve decided on a location and a range of activities, work out how much it will cost and how much you’ll need to save to achieve it.

Then try to calculate exactly how much you’ll need to save each week and where those savings can be made.

Get your apron on

For most families, an easy way to save money is to cut down on takeaways, meals out and processed food and go back to good old-fashioned home cooking.

Not only is cooking from scratch a lot cheaper, it’s also a lot healthier so should help you achieve that perfect beach body when your holiday rolls around.

Get the whole family involved

By getting the whole family involved in saving money, you can transform a chore into a fun activity while also educating your kids about budgets, saving and fundraising.

Encourage them to save their pocket money and, if they’re old enough, their earnings from babysitting or car washing for your holiday. That way they’ll have their own money to spend while you’re away and it will feel like you’re all working together for a great result.

Find great deals

The best way to find the perfect holiday at a great price is to head online and sniff out some deals. The web is packed with great money-saving websites, so have a browse and see how much you can save.

With a bit of hard work, determination and perseverance, saving up for that perfect family holiday shouldn’t be too difficult, giving you a great family break and some fantastic memories that you’ll treasure forever.

5 Unique Ways to Re-Energize

After a day (or week) that just wouldn’t end, unwinding may require more elaborate plans than channel surfing or ordering takeout. Looking to relax, but also re-energize? Here are some unusual activities to try out. Make sure your weekend plans leave you with memories and plans to go back out again – and don’t leave you feeling down or tired.

Alternative Art

Just because you couldn’t draw a stick figure, let alone a person, doesn’t mean that you should keep your artistic talent to a minimum. Instead of picking up a set of paintbrushes, consider trying your hand at alternative art methods, like glass blowing. It is not an easy so you’ll need to join a class where you are taught and provided with the necessary equipment. As it requires both strict attention to detail (you are dealing with extremely hot temperatures 2,400 °F/1,320 °C) and creativity, glass blowing can provide a unique opportunity to both relax yourself and get “in the zone” with your mind.

Learn How to Play an Instrument

Whether you can sing like a canary or whether you don’t know the difference between any two music notes, creating your own music can be a life-long hobby full of rewards. Look over old garage sales and on Craigslist to find used instruments, then check out YouTube for full lessons. Community bands, orchestras, and jam sessions help you to meet new people and create a sound that everyone will appreciate (with enough practice, of course).

Mobile Games

When 5:00 hits and you no longer have to worry about getting a call or text from your boss and co-workers, there’s no reason to shut your phone off for the night. After a long day, treat yourself and your phone to some fun by downloading mobile game apps to keep you occupied. Some mobile games like Angry Birds challenge you to think in several dimensions, while others like Enchanted Meadow put you in a calm state of mind to try your luck on a slot machine. Whatever your preference, remember that your phone is meant for fun as well as work.

Family Fun and Video Games

Family Video Games

Each year, more and more game developers have found that there’s much more money to be made by creating video games oriented towards fun family play. The Nintendo Wii U, for instance, is a console meant to be played by kids and parents together, guiding colorful characters across dazzling, beautiful worlds. Many family games involve active movement, such as shaking the controller or even twisting and jumping to a motion capture screen. Get a workout and have a good time all in one.

Bartending Classes

Why go to a bar and pay $10 for a drink when you can learn how to make one in your own home? If you’re the type who enjoys trying new things, and especially new things with alcohol, you can enroll in classes that help you to understand how to mix rum, vodka, whiskey, and gin together in order to make a perfect concoction. Use a bartending course finder in order to find classes near you that help to understand the delicate balance between liquor and mixer. It’s even possible to get certified and work as a bartender professionally if you like the idea of pouring for a living.

How Different is Crete to Greece?

More than just another Greek atoll, Crete is almost a country unto itself. Back in the Bronze Age, it was the centre of Europe’s first civilization, the Minoans, and has a rich, fascinating history that is still evident today.

Crete, Greece Beaches

Fast forward to today and Crete is the largest, most populous of the Greek islands and has become a haven for holidaymakers looking for sun, sea, and sand. However, as opposed to alternative mainland retreats, Crete has several hidden treasures, cultural traits of its own, and a time-honoured way of life, especially in rural areas.

If you’re looking for a more authentic Greek experience and are thinking of going on holiday to Crete, here are just a few reasons to help you make that decision.

History

Crete has been inhabited since prehistoric times and excavations over the past century have revealed evidence of great ruling civilisations during the Bronze Age.

After the Minoan civilization, who flourished between approximately 3000 BC and 1100 BC, the Mycenaean people, then the Classical and Hellenistic Greeks occupied Crete. Subsequent to the Romans, to whom the island had fallen by 67 BC, the Byzantine Empire absorbed Crete in AD 395 before the Venetians controlled the island in 1210. Then along came the Ottoman invasion….

Eventually, the Greeks stood up to the empire, and Crete became an official part of Greece in 1913. The substantial occupation of the Venetians and the Turks, however, has left its mark on the dialect of Crete, which differs slightly to modern Greek.

Culture

Crete forms a significant part of Greece’s culture and economy, with around 15% of arrivals coming through its capital city, Iraklio, which is also the fifth largest city in Greece. However, Europe’s southernmost island retains distinctive and ancestral characteristics when it comes to music and poetry.

If you wish to hear a true Cretan sound, you should look to the music from the lyra. This instrument is played with a bow, like a violin, but is held vertically and sits on the player’s thighs.

On a trip to the island, you may be lucky enough to hear Mandinádes, a type of narrative, dialogue or poetry in musical form. These improvised rhyming couplets speak of subjects such as love and death and are typically accompanied by the lyra and laouto, a stringed instrument that resembles the lute.

Food

With a surplus of edible goods thanks to the longest growing season in Greece, Crete has an abundance of fresh ingredients to choose from. In fact, the Cretan diet has been noted to have great health benefits and nutritional value.

While Greek dishes are available throughout the island, local cuisine is just as appetizing. If possible, try to find a traditional village festival for barbecued meat, fried potatoes, stuffed grape leaves, and wine.

Other flavoursome nourishment includes fried or boiled chohlious (snails), ntakos (dried bread coated in olive oil and crushed tomato) and kolokythokeftedes (fried zucchini patties).

Book that holiday to Crete and you won’t be disappointed. The island offers you a taste of traditional Greece, so won’t return home having missed out, but you can also enjoy a few Cretan surprises, and everyone likes surprises!

Life and Paychecks

Having worked a really long time that is anything longer than 9 years in an organization is like giving a major part of your life into something. And it is not wrong to be wanting something in return for that long a commitment. Your job is either something that you are passionate about or something you do not care about but regardless of the case all your efforts could have been otherwise put into something else hence are only justifiably rewarded by Superannuation funds.

SuperFunds

Your savings are not for bets

Superannuation funds such as this one can help you save for your retirement. They take away the hard work and stress involved with investing for your future and not to mention the worry of getting the shorter end of the stick with any investment in the open market, you always run such a risk. But there is not much scope of success for the conservative investor and hence the saying goes “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for”. You and your money are like hikers on a snow mountain, its an adventure with risks and beauty and amazement, the snow is the market condition. Inflation, economy, market value can act as avalanches that will crush you or force you down the hill.

Why Super Funds

The stock market meets you with more hurdles than an athlete would encounter on a 110 meter race track. With the power of money and no tax deduction Superannuation funds or Super funds exist to benefit members, they have low fees and one does not have to pay commissions to financial planners. According to a quoted estimate, 5 million workers in the least already belong to an Industry SuperFund. There are Superannuation funds for every type of worker. Some of the names mentionable are AustalianSuper, NGS Super, Media Super, TWU Super, Legal Super, LUCRF Super, Energy Super and First Super along with others.

What they are?

Superannuation funds are the outcome of evolving the system for welfare of retired workers/pensioners wherein the government and the employer also contribute to the funds apart from the customary percentage of amount that is taken from the workers wage. The amount of contribution made by the employer is 9.25% (as by 1 July 2013) of the wages of the worker. Apart from this the worker may also deposit into this fund without any tax implications. If the worker chooses not to deposit any amount the employer will still have to contribute the default amount into a fund account which has the minimum facilities. With the availability of Super funds the worker has the possibility of more savings than a normal pension plan till retirement or withdrawal.

How to find Your Fund

Not all workers have the freedom to choose their fund for their employer’s contributions, the employees covered by defined benefit funds or the old industrial agreements, to find out if you can choose your fund you can either contact your employer or go to Australian Taxations Office. To those who can, it is wise to make choices according to your needs and many online services will help you. For a short list of things to keep in mind you can compare the fees, the performance of the fund over last five years, what cover is provided and what is not.

Breakthrough Game Released by Cancer Research UK

The Helping Hands program from The Rational Group, owners of the PokerStars brand, has recently participated in a program to release a new game to the public. In coordination with Cancer Research UK, the company released Play to Cure: Genes in Space, a game that analyses data from human genetics based on how people play the game. Hailed as a scientific breakthrough, the game has already saved countless manhours of research work and has brought together the very disparate worlds of science and gaming.

Genes in Space was released on February 4th, which has been designated as World Cancer Day around the world. For the announcement, members of Cancer Research UK, The Rational Group, and other organisations were present in the city of London and on the Isle of Man. In addition to those that worked on the game, media personalities like Dave Vitty and Jeff Brazier were also witnesses to the game’s launch. Bertrand Grospelier and Eugene Katchalov from Team PokerStars Pro also attended the event.

Almost a year ago in March 2013, the initial seeds were sown that would eventually form the partnership and the resulting game. Looking for ways to expedite genetic pattern identification, the Cancer Research UK group sought to develop a game that would use the power of millions of people to further research and help to develop solutions that analysed the individual genes of cancer patients that could be causing problems. After a partnership with The Rational Group was established for funding and technical help, other famous corporate entities also joined in. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are just a few of the names that donated resources to the project.

playtocure

The true power of the game comes from its dual nature. On one hand, it appears like a recreational game, where players fly a spaceship through the galaxy in search of a compound known as Element Alpha. On the other hand, the model of the game was built using human genetic maps and the gameplay mirrors the process a researcher would go through if they were searching for specific patterns. As a person plays and advances through the game, the results of their progress are sent back to Cancer Research UK. With the large numbers of people that have already downloaded the game via the Apple and Android app stores, information is already arriving in huge quantities, thus eliminating the need for researchers to spend their time on the routine task.

As the adage goes, Genes in Space is only the tip of the iceberg. Being the first project to effectively link scientific research with a massive multiplayer game, the overwhelmingly positive response may be enough to spur other scientific projects to take the same route.