Archives for June 2012

Give Yourself a Gold Star

How is this for a different idea for you? If you sometimes feel like you keep messing things up (yes, I’ve been there), like everything you touch seems to turn to mud, how about giving yourself a gold star?

Yes, a gold star.

Early in school, teachers would reward us kids with gold stars or some other sticker (dolphins, horses, and of course other shiny stars in red, blue and green) as an incentive to motivate us to do better, to improve. Just giving yourself a formal recognition that “I did it!” will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem … and how happy you feel.

You will want to do better to earn more praise and more recognition.

Where to place the gold star? On your “to do” list, as you cross off another item accomplished. In your journal beside each thing you accomplished today. Maybe you know of a better place in your own life.

Give yourself a gold star every time you accomplish something, even something small and mundane. Because accomplishment is never mundane.

READ ALSO: 11 life lessons

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Daydreaming Leads the Way

Were you ever told by your parents or a teacher to “stop daydreaming”?

Too bad. It is important to have dreams, to envisage what you would like your relationships, your home, your world, your life to be like. It is important to let those images form themselves with abandon, to show you glimpses of possibilities.

Of course, it is important to follow through on those dreams, to be true to them. At least, those that inspire us. But first you have to have them. Remember the song from “South Pacific” (the musical from several decades ago): “How you gonna have a dream come true?”

Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk,
Talk about things you’d like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?


Go ahead and daydream. And please, if you have children, don’t tell them to “stop daydreaming”. Let them dream.

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Do your research before you take out a mortgage

While the housing market has improved slightly since the crisis a few years ago – there’s even been recent suggestions of a bubble in Canada – it can still be a minefield to buyers if they don’t know how it works. To get an idea of what you need, it’s crucial that you do your homework on mortgages. Knowledge is power, and with the right research you will have the best chance of living happily ever after. Here we look at the first steps you need to take ahead of taking out a mortgage.

What can you afford?

It may seem obvious, but with the many houses that will be on the market understanding your limits is key. Properties can make you fall in love at first sight, but know what’s too high. Statistics for June 2011 showed that one in every 583 homes was in the midst of active foreclosure proceedings. With this in mind, speak to smaller lenders and brokers as well as the big banks to see what you are capable of borrowing.

How does the market look?

As commitments go, there aren’t many more worrying than taking out a mortgage. With the possibility for borrowing far more money than your actual salary, whether you’re on a fixed or variable rate there’s a gamble within a mortgage. So, with this in mind, make sure you get expert, impartial advice through your research. People tend to search for rates these days online. Banks are there to be bargained with, they wouldn’t make so much money if this wasn’t true, so don’t just take the first offer on the table.

Lenders: How do they work?

Getting a lender to give you the seal of approval is the most important part of taking out a mortgage, so you need to know what sways their decisions. What happens is that your credit report and application form will be valued and a decision will be made based upon those things. Each lender uses different calculations, and the mortgages are of course different so acceptance can vary. The thing of most importance is your credit health-check.

How to check your credit health

Your credit report is of paramount importance and everything from credit cards, loans and existing mortgages will be taken into consideration. Any other credit will also be looked at along with your repayment history and this is what lenders will use to assess your application. If you have a clean track record of timely repayments, you’ll be held in good stead. Get a check from more than one place and be sure to clear up any inaccuracies that you feel there are within the reports.

Know what mortgage you need

Just like researching the market, knowing what you want and how it will be set out is also important. With this in mind, don’t be scared to ask a lot of questions to get the detailed information you are after. Just be sure that you don’t actually enter the application process because this will work against your actual submission. Remember that putting a bigger down payment on your home, you will be in a better position to find the top rates no matter what mortgage you’re looking into.


As you can see, there are a number of steps that you need to take when considering your mortgage and how to find it. Applications for mortgages have shot up to a three-year high according to reports, and it’s certainly a time to be considering taking one out. Follow all these steps and you’ll be well on the way to getting the best mortgage for your needs.

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Be a Volunteer

When was the last time you volunteered? Some people help out a local charity. Some get involved with a service club. Some people help clean up the environment or strengthen the community or provide a warm face to those in need of comfort.

It’s about community spirit, giving back – just being an all-round good person.

And there is nothing that feels so good and makes a person feel so fulfilled as knowing that she is making a difference in the world.

Before I was balancing two active kids, I volunteered at my local food bank. It did not take all that much of my time (not as much as it should have, at least), but I never missed a scheduled time, despite a hectic schedule even before kids.

You see, it is not so important how much we contribute, but it is very important that we do.

In a few years, my life will change all over again – and I will return to volunteering more frequently.

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