Debt ceiling - What it means for the nation

Debt ceiling - What it means for the nation

Nowadays, the whole nation is concerned about one thing, that is the - DEBT CEILING. If you too want to know what it is and how it would affect the nation, then check out the lines below.

I have tried my best to make this complicated topic as easy as I could for you. Hope it helps.

Now, let’s start…

What is a debt ceiling?
The debt ceiling is a limit imposed by the Congress on the federal government on the amount of debt it can carry at any given time.

The concept of a debt ceiling is similar to that of your credit limit. Just as your credit card company sets a limit on the maximum amount you can spend on a single credit card. The debt ceiling is the maximum amount the government can borrow to meet its national expenses.

Current debt ceiling status  
The debt ceiling was suspended on 2nd November 2015 by the Congress, when it passed the Bipartisan Budget of 2015. The US government had hit the debt ceiling of $19.8 trillion on 15th March 2017. That’s the debt limit it was on that day when the Congress suspended the debt ceiling.

What happens when the ceiling is reached
Once the debt ceiling is touched, the US Treasury won’t be able to pay its liabilities. That is, the Treasury can no more issue notes, bills, or bonds. It has to pay the bills only with the tax revenues it receives. Moreover, if the revenue falls short, then it has to choose between paying interest on national debt, salaries of federal employees, or Social Security benefits.

Current national debt status 
At present, the US national debt is $19.8 trillion which is more than the annual US GDP of $19.2 trillion. The current debt-to-GDP ratio (that is, the ratio between a country’s public debt and its gross domestic product [GDP] ) in the US is 106.1%. This means the total national debt tops the annual US GDP. Basically, the US owes more than its annual economic output.

What’s the solution to reduce US debt crisis?
The only way out is economic growth that’ll reduce the US deficit. If the country’s economic performance grows at a rate of 4% to 5%, then surely it can set itself free from the debt imprisonment. However, the US government, the Congress, and the US Federal Reserve should work together towards a steady economic growth.

What happens if the debt ceiling is raised
If this happens, then the nation continues to pay its bills and tries to cope with its national debt.

Consequences if the debt ceiling is not raised
The debt ceiling is a matter of national concern. The national economy would have to absorb a great blow if the debt ceiling is not increased in time.

Here’s what could happen that would create what you call a global panic:

Firstly, it would bring about an unexpected adventure for US stocks and bonds. The US market would receive a rough hit, especially the stocks and bonds. However, how hard the situation could get cannot be predicted.

Secondly, no more cheap funding for America. There’s a common belief that America pays its dues on time. That’s why it has an excellent AAA credit rating. So, if the nation defaults on its debt payments, investors would lose faith in the country’s ability to pay its dues and charge higher interest rates in the future. Thus, the United States could no longer borrow money at great low rates.

Thirdly, no more payment for the real people. If the government doesn’t have enough revenue, then either it should stop paying everyone or it should choose who gets the payment and who doesn’t. That means, the government should decide whether to pay the Social Security recipients, bondholders, people and businesses awaiting IRS tax refunds, welfare recipients, or companies that provide equipment to our military, etc.

Fourthly, reduction in dollar value. The US currency dollar is the global currency. So, a default would reduce the value of dollars declining America’s global power.  

Lastly, a recession may hit the country. This is the extreme that could happen. Don’t worry, it’s only a possibility and won’t happen sooner. But, touching the debt limit would cause a deep drop in markets, which could stagnant the economic growth if strong safety measures are not taken quickly.

Trump’s take on debt ceiling
As per the reports doing the rounds, Mr. President is busy slamming the GOP for the debt ceiling mess. Also, he’s ready to close down the government if the US-Mexico border wall funding wasn’t approved.

Now dear readers, you decide which is more important - the country’s economic growth or funding something of secondary importance? Fighting the debt crisis or cutting off illegal immigrants and drug smugglers crossing the border?

GUEST POST - Color Psychology in the Home

color palette

Color is such a powerful thing; it has the ability to lift people's moods in many guises. Think about a time when you sent or received a bunch of colorful flowers? There is no doubt that the color that they injected into your home lifted your mood even momentarily. Color in fashion too can positively impact people's moods, wearing all black is nice sometimes when you want to fade into the background but add a pop of color and instantly you and your outfit will stand out from the rest and can even brighten your day. Color in the home will also have a similar impact. We can add color to our homes through the addition and inclusion of accessories like cushions and throws or even by the wall color paint we choose. Things like colorful accessories such as art, flowers and vases are more temporary so it allows us to be more adventurous than say choosing a really colorful wall color which can be drastic if we don't end up liking the finished hue. Do your research before choosing how you will inject color in the home; look at Pinterest, look at magazines, look at the houses of friends and family and so on. The people at EZ Living have put together this infographic below which goes through all that you need to know about color psychology in the home; it suggests tips and advice and could prove helpful if you're unsure about the addition of color into your home.

Check the full details out below!

Color Psychology in the Home

Belly fat in men – How to control

Belly fat in men – How to control

Belly fat is something not to joke about. It can cause several health perils for the men.

Carrying a few extra pounds is not uncommon. But this is the case where following the mass isn’t a good idea. Carrying extra pounds – especially belly fat – can be risky – especially for men.

What is belly fat?
Subcutaneous belly fat can be felt if you pinch the excess skin and tissue around the middle. Visceral fat is also considered as belly fat; this fat mainly accumulates in the abdomen between the organs and causes greater health risks.

Why belly fat is dangerous for men health?
The main issue with belly fat is that it’s not just limited to the some extra layers of padding below your skin, it includes visceral area that lies deep inside the abdomen surrounding abdominal organs. Irrespective of weight, large amount of belly fat (visceral fat) can seriously increase risk of:
• Cardiovascular diseases
• High blood pressure
• Colorectal cancer
• Type 2 diabetes
• Sleep apnea
• Premature death

How genetics and age contribute to accumulating belly fat?
Your body weight is mostly determined by how you balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn. If calorie intake is too much in comparison to the exercises you do, you’re very likely to put on extra pounds, especially around the middle.

Ageing also plays significant role in gaining weight. With ageing, you lose muscle unless you’re physically active. Loss of muscle mass lowers the tempo at which the body uses calories and that makes it difficult to keep up a healthy weight. Men in 50s need 200 fewer calories than that of what they need in their 30s – just because of muscle loss.

Genes also contribute to the chances of gaining extra weight or being obese. It also plays important role in determining where your body will store fat.

Balancing calorie consumption with physical activities helps to prevent unhealthy weight gain. 
How to restrict calorie consumption naturally and quickly?
Summertime is when we worry about our appearance and looks, and more importantly that stubborn belly fat clinging to your waistline reminding you of all those culinary indulgences you’ve enjoyed during winter. With widespread of miracle belly fat reducing pills and quick fixes out there, most of them either carry severe health risks or simply don’t work.

Here are some tips that you can follow to lose weird belly fat without causing any damage to your health.
• Get adequate sleep – The health benefits of getting enough sleep are not limited to shedding extra pounds around the middle – getting enough sleep can help you stay healthy while losing weight from different angles. Not getting enough rest may result in exhaustion and inhibit your physical performance. It can seriously impair your hormone production, nervous system, and metabolism. Impaired nervous system can’t function properly leaving you to stress more, work slower, exercise less and eat things that otherwise you won’t. On the other hand, imbalanced hormone production reduces fat metabolism. So ideally 7 to 9 hours of sleep helps your brain, organs and glands to function at peak performance and thus helps burning extra belly fat.

• Sneak in exercises – While it may not be possible for you to spend 1 to 2 hours at the gym, make it possible to get enough exercises to let your body burn off extra belly fat. Three five sets of dynamic exercises daily for at least 5 days a week can simply do wonder. For example, you can run in a place for 3 to 5 minutes, jog around, do jumping jacks, and do some aerobic exercises. But if your cardiac health doesn’t permit you, which is very common in men, you can simply think about brisk walking, swimming and cycling. Regardless of which muscle groups are being activated, these exercises will let your body burn fat from every part of your body including midsection.

• Eat and drink properly – Some foods can magically burn away excess fat. But instead of being focused on any particular food, emphasize eating healthy and balanced. Your daily meal should be a good combination of carbohydrate, protein and good fat along with vitamins and minerals. Include dark leafy vegetables, fruits, lean meat, fish and low-fat dairy products to your diet plan. Some beverages like green tea, fruit juices without sugar, ginger tea and top of all, water can drastically burn body fat. Some sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs) can help you burn belly fat quickly. The common sources of EFAs are nuts and seeds, coconut oil and cold-water fishes. Avoid taking candies, pastries, cakes, sweets etc.

• Just relax – Stress causes body to produce hormone namely cortisol that causes body to build and retain stubborn belly fat. Even after trying healthy foods and exercises, if you fail to lose waist fat, just relax. May be stress is the single reason to blame. Instead of being anxious about your weight, do something that you love. You can listen to music, watch movies, chat with your friends, read books or do anything that makes you happy.

Beware of what you post on Facebook, it might hurt your credit score

Beware of what you post on Facebook, it might hurt your credit score

Many people, even without their knowledge, become the unfortunate victim of over-sharing on Facebook. The outcomes of over-posting on Facebook or any social media are worsening.  Gone those days when your reputation was the only matter of concern when it comes to sharing on social media. Today, your posts on Facebook can make you susceptible to identity theft, cyber-bullying and much more.  It can even get you fired from the job or keep you from getting a job in the future owing to your posts on social media. And the newest threat posed by your Facebook profile is your credit score; and that may eventually prevent you from getting loan from specific lenders.

How it started?
In 2014, a renowned venture capitalist said that online lenders would beat the banks by utilizing better and more data than credit scores and that might include the number of Facebook friends. Last year, a PWC report on online lending explained that embracing Facebook and other social media might conform to the expectations of the millennials. On the other hand, Facebook talked on this possibility with online lenders during 2014. Then everything hibernated until previous year.
In August, CNN reported that the giant social platform, Facebook patented a technology to allow the lenders using information about its users as well as their friends to decide on if they should be given a loan. Nevertheless, the entire process is in its childhood days and hasn’t received much traction until now.

What about now?
According to several different repots, credit reporting bureaus like FICO are initiating to see the potential to use this new technology to unleash more about consumer behavior including spending habits.
The agencies are in search of alternative data like phone or utility bills, public records etc. along with conventional sources like mortgage, credit cards and auto loan payments to calculate the credit score. But that’s not to scare consumers. Use of this technology would help people like recent immigrants and young adults with less-than-perfect credit history to have a descent score that makes them qualified for loan.
Even if you ignore the fact of getting your account chased by credit bureaus right now, you can’t be rest assured that they don’t do it in the near future.

Who would be affected mostly?
Facebook profiling, better to say chasing, would affect mostly those people who have very little to no credit history. Stalking your profile would be a handy way to gauge if you’re worth a loan.
According to Mr. Merrill, the former CIO at Google and a renowned mathematician, “All data is credit data”. Many online lenders even consider how someone fills out a form and according to them people who fill out all in capital letters are likely to fall behind in paying off a loan.
Though not until now, social media could be a good source of data to the lenders in future. They may use Facebook profile to check personal information too!

What’s the reality?
How your Facebook account as well as your friends’ could affect your credit score? If you apply for a loan with an online lender, they may check your friends’ profiles to check their credit scores and spending habits to predict your likelihood to get a loan. Moreover, the economic factors and public records can also play important roles in deciding on how much of a risk you can be as a debtor. The lenders can even determine how frequently you move by accessing your location through IP address; they can know about your spending and working habits as well by means of your Facebook data. Even some keywords such as ‘wasted’ could be a red flag to the lenders. Using such a word often would indicate your irresponsibility to pay off a loan on time. The list of keywords will be extended over time. So it’ll be like walking on eggshells for you. Be careful of the words you choose to use in your posts and comments.

Is there really anything to worry about?
Though worrisome, it won’t affect you right now as the patent has just recently received and it’s not sure that when that would come into effect in order to influence your credit history. Banks are also not much convinced about this method of determining creditworthiness; they might use Facebook data hardly as supplement. So that’s another good thing for you.
But be safe than sorry – use this newly found knowledge to make yourself cautious about the posts and content on your Facebook wall. With the widespread of Internet, privacy has become more transparent. Anybody can find your personal data with just the right technology. So make sure your profile is secure and be more vigilant about what you post, share or comment.

Healthy Desserts to Die For

Healthy Desserts to Die For

From brownies and cheesecakes to tempting fruit desserts, everybody loves desserts and you’re no different. So for the dessert lovers out there, here are 2 easy-to-make recipes to die for.

1. Lemony yogurt cake
Lemony yogurt cake

Protein-rich Greek yogurt and olive oil are used instead of butter in this lemony cake. Egg whites used helps reducing fat, calories and cholesterol while the whole-wheat flour enhances fiber. The texture of the cake is much like classic pound cake.

• 1 ½ cups of white whole wheat flour
• 2 tsp of baking powder
• ¾ cup of sugar
• ¼ tsp of fine salt
• Thinly grated zest of one lemon
• ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt
• ¼ cup of low-fat milk
• ¼ cup of olive oil
• 2 egg whites
• 1 large egg
• ½ tsp of vanilla essence
• Non-stick baking spray for coating the loaf pan

• Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit
• Coat 4 ½ by 8 ½ loaf pan with the non-stick baking spray
• Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium-sized bowl
• Put the lemon zest and sugar in another medium-sized bowl
• Rub the zest into the sugar using your fingers
• Add milk, yogurt, olive oil, egg whites, whole egg and vanilla, and whisk vigorously until it blends well
• Add flour mixture into egg mixture and fold until incorporated
• Transfer the mixture to prepared baking pan
• Bake until the cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean or bake for roughly 50 minutes
• Let the pan cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack
• Unmold and cool to normal room temperature

Serves – Eight

2. Blueberry crostata
Blueberry crostata

This dessert is simply an ideal ending to traditional European dinner. It can also be a great compliment to a summer meal. The crispy texture and sweetness of blueberry make it a great contrast. Crostata can be preserved in refrigerator for 2 days.

a) Dough -
• 1 ¾ cup of flour
• Pinch of salt
• 1 stick of unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp of sugar
• 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp water +1 beaten egg

b) Filing -
• Two cups of blueberries
• 1 tbsp of lemon juice
• ½ cup ground sugar
• 1 tbsp of course sugar
• 6 oz. of softened low fat cream cheese
• 4 tsp cornstarch
• 1 beaten egg
• 1 tbsp of milk
• 1 tbsp water + 1 egg

• Preheat the oven to 375 degree F
• Filling preparation – Place blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Mix them well and keep in refrigerator
• In another bowl, mix cream cheese with milk and egg – keep in the refrigerator
• For dough – Place flour, sugar, salt and vinegar in a food processor and mix until combined. Add egg wash and butter and carry on pulsing until the mixture forms a ball. Now remove it from the processor and flatten out on a floured layer using your palm. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
• Roll out the flour dough on the floured surface to make a 12 inch circle
• Spread cheese with a spatula around the circle leaving at least a 2 inch border
• Scoop the blueberry mixture on top of the cheese mixture and bring up two dough pieces at a time to make sure you pinch perfectly where the pieces of dough touch each other
• Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle course sugar
• Bake for 20 to 25 minutes

When it comes to indulge your taste buds and sweet tooth, these two dessert recipes surely take the cake. These sweet and fulfilling confections are not only healthy but exceptionally delectable too. Give them a try and just go yummm...

Some home improvements that can be done all by yourself

Some home improvements that can be done all by yourself

You don’t need to spend plenty of time, effort, energy and resources to keep your home in the best condition. Some easy-to-do improvement projects can bring a complete makeover to your home. Some improvement projects can be done by yourself without requiring any permit or hiring a pro.

Here are some smartest and easiest DIYs that can surely take on to boost the potential of your home and the quality of your life. It won’t take your weekend; rather you just need a little time here and there to give your home a little upgrade that eventually enhances the entire look of the home to make it eye-soothing.

1. Prune shrubs near the house
Those nice-looking shrubs may add a pleasant essence to the home, but the branches and the bushes planted near your house can badly scrape and damage the siding as the wind blows. Even your favorite rose bush may cause abrasion damage to some sidings during windy weather. So make sure you check the shrubs and the bushes as they grow and don’t forget to prune back the branches that come within a foot from your home.

2. Add window well cover – If the window well of your home fills with water when it rains, you can think about installing a water-shedding window well cover to restrict downpour and minimize the risk of leakage in the basement. Some window wells are especially crafted to drain water into the drain tile system of your house, but in due course, they might become clogged. With window well cover installation, you can protect the basement from undue water damage and keep out debris and leaves, and occasional entry of toads.

3. Treat the sewer lines – A blocked or clogged sewer line is not only messy but smelly too! It can result in huge plumbing fees to repair it. By protecting the sewer, you can save your pocket; all you need to use a main line sewer cleaning product that you can get from any DIY store, twice or thrice a year. Such products work overnight and clear away all the residues that can otherwise settle in the sewer lines and thus protect the plumbing pipes of your home from expensive clogs.

4. Change furnace filters – After the furnace has been used for one month or two, the filters of the furnace can clog with tough-to-remove dust and that can badly reduce the efficacy of your home heating system as well as emit less-fresh air than what it should. Clogged furnace can also minimize the airflow to furnace and thus force the motor to work harder. So it would be wise to replace furnace filters at the beginning of a new season to maintain the quality of indoor air and keep the furnace in best shape.

5. Change weather-stripping – If you think that replacing the weather-stripping just once before commencement of winter to keep out frigid drafts is fine, you’re wrong. It’s important that you check and replace worn and torn weather-stripping before the beginning of summer too! With blocked drafts, you rooms would be more comfortable as well as would save your wallet from expensive air conditioning costs. By doing this, you can also keep irritating bugs from sneaking in through the gaps.

6. Switch to LED bulbs – Light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs not only consume less energy, but also last longer than standard incandescent bulbs. Latest improvements in the color of the LED bulbs make them even more soothing and suitable for each and every room of your home. While warm-tone LEDs are perfect for the bathroom, blue-tone LEDs would be great for home office.

7. Replace exterior faucets – Replace old exterior faucets with its frost-free version. It is common that you forget to shut off the water supply to exterior faucets before the winter commences and as a result, you may face pipe breakage and expensive water damage repairs. But you can surely avoid such grief by just switching to frost-free exterior water faucets that come with shut-off valves deep within the walls of the home where they usually don’t freeze.

8. Open and close water valves – It takes almost no time and it’s completely free; but it can save you from pricey valve replacement down the lane. Over years, water valves found under the sinks and behind commode, can deposit scale and thus may seize up. Twist the valves closed and back open at least twice a year and let the valves stay functional for longer.

These are just a few of many DIY hacks that can significantly save your hard-earned dollars that you otherwise have to spend on costly repairs.

How to fight back to school anxiety

How to fight back to school anxiety

It’s nearly time to enter another fresh year of school life. However, this transition brings both excitement and anxiety.

On one hand, children are excited because they get to meet new teachers, make new friends, read new books, and participate in school activities. While on the other hand, they’re anxious or stressed out because they’re worried about certain things like who and how will be their teacher, what if they fail to understand the new school work, what will happen if they miss the bus, and so on.

This anxiety can wreak havoc on the families as well.

How to help your kids fight back
While you’re getting your kids ready for back to school, check out some ways to set free your children from the clasp of back to school anxiety:

Look after the necessities
Stress and worry control our mind so well that we don’t feel hungry or get enough sleep. So, at this time of the year when your kids are worried, take care of their necessities like food and sleep. Give them nutritious food and set a proper time table for them (also, don’t forget yourself) so that life becomes easy.

Share your kids’ fear   
Children always look up to their parents for everything. So, it’s obvious that this time when certain things are bothering them, they’ll come to you first. As a parent, it’s your duty to share your children’s fear, worry, stress, and anxiety.

But, how will you do that?
Simple. Talk to them. Find out a time in the day to talk to them about their fears. Encourage them to share everything with you. Also, make sure to provide them a peaceful place to talk (mostly, kids like to talk about these matters in private) and give them your undivided attention. However, children often need the help of distractions (such as playing, walking, going on a long drive, and so on) to cut down the intensity of anxiety or stress.

Encourage kids to solve their problem
Never give reassurance to your child that “everything will be fine.” Because, if things don’t turn up good it’ll leave your baby in more stress. So, instead of giving false reassurance, encourage your kid to face problems with a brave heart.

Consider role-playing with your kid
If your child is worried about how to handle a demanding teacher or a bullying friend, consider role-playing with him/her. Make a plan and frame out possible questions and responses to help your child cope with this type of situation fearlessly.

Take care of your behavior
As I’ve said earlier, children look up to their parents for everything. So, watch out your behavior while interacting with your child. Don’t make fun of your child’s fear or treat it in a way that might humiliate him/her. These matters are extremely delicate and hence, they need special attention. Make sure that your behavior doesn’t hurt your child in any way.

Try to understand your children
You must try to recognize and understand your kids’ problem. As long as you don’t find out what’s bothering them, you can’t help them out. And most importantly, trust your kids and make them believe in you. Tell them that you’re with them through thick and thin and they can turn back to you whenever they want. This mutual trust will boost confidence in your kids and help them fight the anxiety courageously.

Handy tips to de-stress
Take a warm shower to get good sleep.
Say no to white sugar or food made from white flour as they increase anxiety chemicals in the brain.
Play in the sun as it’s the best natural remedy to fight anxiety.
Do regular exercise to be physically fit and to keep nervous energy at bay.
Maintain a proper schedule to have time for everything like sleep, play, eat, and study.
Give your child the personal space so that he/she can handle the anxiety on his/her own.
Get your child into some extra curricular activities to shift their attention from the stress.
Visit a behavioral therapist with a specialization in pediatric anxiety disorders if your child cannot come out of the stress.

Hope you find this helpful!