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Making Sure We Keep Enjoying Our Coffee

The Climate Institute of Australia has reported that by 2050 the coffee-producing areas of the world will diminish by half due to climate change. In the 1980’s there was a collapse in world coffee prices which left smallholder farmers who were often already paid very little for their beans, even worse off, and in response (in particular to the struggles of Mexican Farmers, Fairtrade began to intervene. The worlds coffee market is worth nearly 100 billion pounds and in terms of commodities only comes in second to oil, yet pickers, farmers and other coffee producers are still left short with less than minimal wages, child labour, poor living conditions and more.

With these things in mind it’s easy to see how we might lose our beloved coffee in the not too distant future, and what a shame it would be to miss out on all those amazingly different tastes from all over the world. So, what can we do about it? How can we help ensure that we don’t lose our 100 billion economy booster and our favourite beverage?

First and foremost, we can continue to enjoy great coffee at home but ensuring that we select beans and blends that are sustainably farmed. By only purchasing coffee from sustainable sources we help show that there is a real demand for coffee that is produced in a way that does not exploit workers who are involved in its production and that the farms the beans come from put as much back into the environment as they use.

We can ensure that our coffee is Fairtrade and comes from sustainable sources by looking out for some of the following accreditation on the packaging:

  • It’s Organic – If the packaging states that it’s organic then it holds the USDA Organic seal, which means it’s verified by government-accredited inspectors ensuring no synthetic pesticides (which have a particularly negative environmental effect) are used.
  • It’s Fair Trade Certified – Showing that the growers have been paid at least a minimum price per lb.
  • It’s Rainforest Alliance Certified – Although it doesn’t hold a lot of weight in terms of it’s workers being treated fairly, it does suggest that the coffee hasn’t had a hugely negative effect on the environment when grown.

Looking out for responsible retailers and manufacturers of coffee will also help to ensure that we don’t lose out on drinking the perfect cup of coffee when the need takes us. Socially responsible retailers will usually make it clear why and how they are environmentally and socially responsible because they know it matters, so if it isn’t glaringly obvious on the packet, try a quick search on the world wide web and if there’s no sign of it on their marketing, we can be pretty sure they aren’t.

In addition, if we really want to make a difference we could get involved with organisations such as; Fairtrade, World Fair Trade Organization and European Coffee Federation. These organisations dedicated themselves to ensuring that coffee workers living standards are upheld and that they are not left in dire working conditions with unlivable wages, as well as ensuring the environmental impact of coffee farming is counterbalanced or minimised. We can get involved by volunteering with initiatives such as ‘Volunteering for Fairtrade’ and fundraising for similar organisations. The young gent in this clip, is a great example of how trying to make the smallest difference can cause something bigger, something greater and something that can inspire us to do our bit.

Make Money From Your Property

There’s one thing that the financial crisis of 2008 showed many people – property is a safe bet for your money and doesn’t suddenly vanish the way that shares and investments can do. Whether you are buying your first home, want to invest some cash into your property or make extra cash with your property, having a house is a perfect starting place.

Why people invest in property

If you look at the truly wealthy people out there, many of them have huge property portfolios – houses, commercial property, even land. While this might not be an option for many of us, there’s no reason that we can’t make the most of our home. Your home is your biggest, and best asset and itself is a guarantee of money if you ever need to sell it. And it is easy to understand how much a property is worth with a simple valuation – there are no complicated formulas to work out the value of a house!

Then there are all the other ways you can increase that value or make more money from the house. Don’t forget that if you are going to invest in your property that you have a financial health check before you commit to anything to ensure you can afford it. And if you start making extra money from your property, hire a good accountant to help you keep track of it and ensure you may any taxes to avoid an unpleasant HMRC visitor.

How to make money from your home

Even if you are a first-time buyer who has just got their foot on the property ladder, you already have a means to make more money. However, even if you never do a thing with your property, you know you always have something that is worth real money. This is why property is often described as ‘recession proof’ and why many investors buy houses and commercial buildings rather than shares.

There are also a variety of different ways to rent out your home. One of the most popular options at the moment is to rent out a room to a lodger or even get involved with a scheme like Airbnb, where a spare bedroom in your home because a tiny hotel for guests to stay in for a time. Of course, if you find yourself in the position where the house is unoccupied, then you can turn it into a full time rental property and the rent received from tenants will often pay the rent and make you a profit. Then at some point, the house will be paid for and you can sell it for a complete profit.

Investing money into your home

If you find yourself with some money to use, you might consider investing it into your home. Say you have a little place in the country with a little extra land around it – you might want to consider extending your home with that cash and making a three bedroom into a four bedroom. Or you might want to add extra features to the property that will add to its value and give you more enjoyment as well.

It’s Never Too Late To Change Careers

As we all face the fact we will be working later into our lives, it is even more important that we do a job we enjoy or even love. It also means that it’s never too late to start a new career and begin working towards getting your dream job. But how can you start the process?

Do some preparation

Once you have an idea about what you want to do next, then you can start doing some preparation to help you get that role. It might mean some re-training or learning entrepreneurial skills to help you run your own business. Or it might mean taking steps to try to differentiate yourself from other candidates with a similar background – doing some voluntary work can often help with this as it shows dedication and commitment.

You should also start preparing your CV and look at it as an ongoing work. As you build up your job search checklist of the roles you want to apply for, you will start to gain insight into the kind of skills and qualities that these roles require. You can look at yourself and see what areas you have covered or if there are areas you need to work on before your CV is complete. Be strict with your CV, too – don’t be tempted to turn it into a novel and keep it as a relevant summary of your life and achievements.

Get the right mindset

Talk about mindset used to seem a bit New Age but most psychologists now recognise the power of our minds. Positive thinking might seem a bit airy to some of us but there is a clear benefit to it – you feel more confident and this confidence comes across in all of your dealings.

At the same time, you need to school yourself to deal with the rejections because it is unlikely that you won’t experience them at some point. Few people changing careers ever get their first job and never experience rejection. You need to learn to view it as a learning experience: why didn’t you get the job? What could you change next time? Ask for feedback from employers who turn you down to learn from.

Start networking

The old idea of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ isn’t as relevant with the growth of the internet and the globalisation of things but it can still be beneficial to network. For example, if you want a career in caring or volunteering for a certain charity, then it doesn’t hurt to get to know people involved in that charity. Building up connections on LinkedIn, for example, can be a non-creepy way to network and may have unexpected results.

You can also learn a lot from talking to people about the job you think you want to go into. You may even find that you discover it isn’t the right career path but that something related may be more your style. The more information you have, the more informed you are and the better decisions you make about your future.

Finally Getting On Top Of Your Finances

We often hear stories of doom and gloom about the amount that personal borrowing has increased by and how much debt we all have. Come just after Christmas, this can seem even worse, especially if you used a credit card to help cover those seasonal costs. But it can also be a motivator to spur you into starting to sort out your finances this year.

Look at your debts

A good place to start is those debts – carry out an assessment of what you owe to whom. Often, we take a credit card or bank loan because it has a certain fixed term benefit, usually a low interest rate. But then when this ends, we forget and can be paying a lot more for our debts than we realise. So one good move is to look at your cards and see if you can do a balance transfer to another company with a better deal.

If you have a number of small debts that are costing you a lot of money but that you plan to clear next payday, then short term loans can help. Simply compare the interest on the debts you have versus the loan to see what works out cheaper and don’t forget to look at any penalties for paying off a debt early to consider these too.

Look to increase your earnings

Sure, we all want to earn more money but for many employers, pay rises are a thing of the past or are minimal at best. If you need to increase your earnings, then it can be best to look at other opportunities. It also works for stay at home mums who have the kids to look after but also want to earn some money. There are lots of earning opportunities for mums that allow them to balance their life without the need for mums going back to work full time and using babysitters for the children.

Working as a freelancer is one of the top ways that people are increasing their earnings. There are so many opportunities and ways to make freelancing work for you. You can work the hours you want, say while the kids are at school. And while being self-employed does have its challenges, the flexibility is a major plus point.

Look at your spending

No-one wants to live without having some treats, some fun or doing things they enjoy but it can be a wise move to look at your spending and see if there are any areas that you can make changes. Something as simple as cutting back from three takeaway meals a week to two can save money and the extra food you buy won’t cost as much as the takeaway.

Another idea is to look out for vouchers and deals. Whether it is for food, for holidays, activities for the kids or anything else, there are loads of voucher sites out there that can help offset the cost of the things you like to do or the food you like to eat.

Is It Time To Be Your Own Boss?

The numbers show that in recent years, more people have either become self-employed or started their own business than ever before. While being your own boss might not suit everyone, there are lots of plus sides that make it worth considering, especially if you have a trade, a skill or a business idea that you know there is a market for. But how do you prepare yourself for success from the start?

Do the research

The key to running a small business is having customers, just the same as any size business. The good thing with being small is that you don’t always needs hundreds to start making a profit as there is likely only you who needs to make a wage from the company at first. But you still want to make sure there is a viable market for the product or service that you are considering before you take the plunge.

Take being a plumber, for example. There always seems to be plenty of people advertising this service on the internet and in local newspapers. So avoid common mistakes by advertising yourself as this as you could face too much competition from established plumbing firms. However, if you pitch yourself as an odd-job person who can do plumbing, gardening and maybe some basic electrical work, then you might find a wider market.

Do the maths

The top reason that small businesses fail is because they aren’t looking at their finances carefully, constantly in that first year or two. Managing your business accounts is key to success but don’t forget to manage your finances.

One area that businesses go wrong is waiting to start keeping their books. It is easy to think that bookkeeping is just to give information to HMRC about tax and national insurance but it is a key way to known if your business is in trouble. Balancing the books may not happen in the first year or so but you do want to keep an eye on your debts to make sure you are making enough money to live.

It is also important to get help if you’re struggling. Whether this is with cash flow and you need a short business loan to help or simply keeping track of your finances, there are plenty of ways to get the right assistance. You can talk to financial advisors, banks and hire freelance accountants or bookkeepers to help with the tasks you don’t naturally manage.

Do enjoy it!

Being your own boss can be stressful because there is no guarantee of a pay packet at the end of the week or month. But you need to enjoy it, even if it is stressful. For many people who go self-employed, they enjoy that pressure and the independence that also comes with it. But there’s no shame either if you find that it isn’t for you and you want to return to the world of being an employee – it would be a boring world if we were all the same, after all.

Starting a Business in 2017?

It’s getting to the time of year where we all start making plans for what we’re going to acheive once January hits – and for many people that might be finally becoming their own boss, and starting a business.

If that includes you, here’s a useful video with some of the top ‘mistakes’ to avoid.

Tips for Getting Comfortable for a Long Flight

Traveling means you are able to endure a couple of long hours flying in order to reach your destination. While some don’t seem to mind it, there are also some travelers who are easily discouraged and will decide to go somewhere else with a shorter flight length. Therefore, in order to get comfortable and survive a very long flight, here are some tips that you should always keep in mind:

Make sure that you book your tickets ahead of time

As early as possible, you should’ve booked your ticket already because there is nothing worse than sitting just beside the aisle and not being able to enjoy the view from the window for the next 22 hours that you are on the plane. Make sure that you are in your favorite seat because it can decrease your boredom and will make you feel more comfortable.

Choose a seat on the back

If you don’t want people standing and walking around, it’d be a better idea just to sit in the back instead. In that way, your chances of having at least one or two empty seats just beside you are most likely because most of the people opt in seating at the front line.

Make sure that you are prepared for the jet lag

Depending on where you are going to go, make sure that your body is prepared for the jet lag. Jet lag can ruin your vacation and postpone your adventures. Therefore, you should make sure that you get your body used to the new sleeping patterns that you’ll have for the next few days. Do not take your flight if you do not get enough sleep or if you’re extremely tired because it can worsen your jet lag.

Relax before taking the flight

Do not spend the day before your flight dealing with the problems at work or thinking about your ex-boyfriend—now is not the time for that. Instead, head to the nearest spa and get relaxed. Buy your favorite book and read it or hit the gym again so that you’ll feel good about yourself and reduce your stress level.

Bring the right stuff

For your carry-ons, you should limit it to a single or two bags only. The things that you’ll put inside should come in handy while you are in your flight—earpods, phones, iPad, books, and anything that will keep you from boredom during your flight. The last thing that you wanted to experience is being stressed out carrying several backpacks inside the plane and had nothing to do with the contents inside.

Be comfortable on what you are wearing

You are not required to wear high heels and tight dresses in traveling by air. You just need to make sure that you are comfortable with what you are wearing. For instance, you can put on your white tank top and throw a hoodie or a jacket over it, paired with skinny jeans and your favorite beaten-up converse. Being comfortable is very important while you are traveling so that you don’t get irritated.

Have some travel blankets with you

Just stash it in your backpack, make sure that it’s not too thick nor too thin—just enough to keep your body warm if the high temperature of the aircon is making you uncomfortable. Plus, having something to wrap around your body will make you feel comfortable, and if you are trying to grab some sleep while you are on your way to your destination, then you can rest assure that you’ll have a better sleep.