Taking control of your Budget using calculators and planning

When I think back 10 years and 20 years ago, what a difference it has been when it comes to money, finances and where I stand with my budget. 20 years ago I started dating my ‘now’ husband and we both entered the relationship with so much debt. Today we are on track with little debt and a good outlook on our retirement future that is within 15 years away between the 2 of us. My long-term goals are to not have a mortgage payment and we are definitely on track for that by retirement age and to travel-lots of travel!

We had to be strict with our spending and wise in our credit choices when we started attacking our debt. We made decisions on how we spent money on bills, fun, blending credit accounts to pay them off which meant consolidating and how to begin retirement savings and choose medical plans. Budgeting is not simple and even in a tech world, I rely on online calculators or trusty apps.

A lot has changed in 20 years in regards to technology as well and planning is so easy much easier today with online tracking apps, including my bank app where I can customize notifications and keep up on what is happening in my accounts right in the palm of my hand!

There a few things you can do to start tackling debt and creating a realistic budget plan. If you are married or share finances with a partner, the first step is communication and coming to compromises and common goals. I frequently check my bank apps to see what notification options I have and how to set certain alerts. Consolidating smart and choosing to tackle one debt at a time (like getting rid of the high interest debt first) can help you feel like you are making progress. In our debt relief journey, I would have never guessed that I could actually become a tad obsessed with wanting to pay things off at any sacrifice because it is such a great feeling to clean up the budget.

You can always find online tools, such as card comparison calculators from Sites like these allow you to type in your budgets and see your options and goal results. If you have not started the budget talk lately, it is time to start again, especialy as we near the Holidays.


Is Being a Travel Nurse a Good Career Option for Parents in Illinois?

Is Being a Travel Nurse a Good Career Option for Parents in Illinois?
Photo by Patty Brito on Unsplash

Travel nursing is a unique and rewarding career that allows healthcare professionals to work in various locations and explore new settings. For parents in Illinois, the prospect of becoming a travel nurse may seem daunting, especially when considering the challenges of balancing work and family life. However, this career path can be an excellent fit for parents, offering flexibility, good compensation, and opportunities for growth. In this blog post, we will discuss why being a travel nurse can be a great career option for parents in Illinois and how companies like AdvantisMed can make the experience even better.

The Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse for Parents

One of the most significant advantages of travel nursing is the flexibility it offers. With assignments typically lasting 8-26 weeks, parents can choose when and where they work, allowing them to plan around their family’s needs and priorities. Travel nurse jobs in Illinois from AdvantisMed provide parents with a unique opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working in different healthcare facilities while staying relatively close to home.

Working with a reputable staffing agency like AdvantisMed can also help parents find the right balance between work and family life. Their team of experts understands the unique needs of parents in the nursing profession and can help them find assignments that align with their priorities and preferences.

Higher Earning Potential

Another reason why travel nursing is an appealing career option for parents in Illinois is the earning potential. Travel nurses typically earn higher hourly wages than permanent staff nurses, in addition to other financial incentives such as housing stipends and travel allowances. This extra income can be helpful for parents trying to provide for their family, save for their children’s education, or plan for a secure financial future.

Building a Diverse Skill Set

Working in different healthcare settings offers travel nurses the chance to develop a wide range of skills and expertise. Parents can gain valuable experience in various specialties, work with diverse patient populations, and learn from professionals across the state. This diverse skill set can lead to increased job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities, making travel nursing an attractive career path for parents in Illinois.

Opportunities for Personal and Professional Growth

Travel nursing allows parents to grow both personally and professionally. As they navigate new work environments and adapt to different healthcare teams, travel nurses can develop their problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills. Furthermore, travel nursing offers a chance to network with healthcare professionals in different locations, opening doors for future job opportunities and career advancement.

Balancing Family Life and a Travel Nursing Career
One of the main concerns parents might have about travel nursing is balancing their career with their family life. While it’s true that travel nursing can require time away from home, there are ways to mitigate the impact on family life. For instance, parents can opt for assignments closer to home, allowing them to return on weekends or during their time off. Additionally, some families choose to travel together, turning the nursing assignment into a family adventure.


The Power of Composition in Photography

Whether you’re new to photography or an experienced photographer, the power of composition can make or break your work. Composition in photography is like the skeleton in your body: it keeps everything together, supports the weight of different elements, and helps you frame your image with flow, direction, and visual balance.

The Rule of Thirds

An image is divided into nine equal sections using the basic compositional approach known as the Rule of Thirds. The horizon lines fall along one of these horizontal gridlines, and significant compositional components are positioned at the intersections or along the lines. This technique is typically utilized by amateur photographers like Zoe Reardon, who takes a lot of images as a pastime. 

This helps you to create dynamic, engaging images that tell a story. It also helps you create an image pleasing to the eye.

However, the rule of thirds doesn’t have to be rigid or set in stone. Sometimes you can break the rule if the story you’re trying to tell is strong enough.

Many popular photo editing software suites, including Adobe Lightroom and Skylum’s Luminar, offer a Rule of Thirds grid overlay to help you compose your shots. This is especially useful if you’re new to the concept, and it can help you align your composition with the correct gridline positions.

Repeating Elements

Repetitioning a certain element within a photo can add visual rhythm and harmony to your image. It can help your eye follow an imaginary line around the frame, much like a music line, to draw the viewer’s attention to different parts of an image.

Repetition also adds a sense of depth to your images. It can highlight the vanishing point of your subject and give your image perspective by using repeating elements with progressive rhythms.

In nature, repeating elements can be organic, such as a leaf’s stem, or man-made, such as bricks in a building. They can also be found in texture, such as sand.

When repetition fills a frame, it can remove all context or sense of scale. This can be a good thing when your goal is to emphasize a specific item, but it can also make your photo feel busy and crowded, so use this technique sparingly.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are a vital part of the composition. They draw a viewer’s eye to the subject of the photograph and can be used to place emphasis or tell a story.

Our brains are hardwired to follow lines unconsciously. This is why roads, trails, fences, and canyons are so powerful in composition.

They also help a viewer travel through your image as they would in real life – which helps to keep them engaged and keeps them wanting to look at your image for longer.

They also help create a flow within your image – something difficult to achieve with simple lines. By taking your time to spot potential lines and carefully composing them, you can turn these into powerful compositional elements.

Power Points

Composition is using lines, angles, and other visual elements to make a photo or design work. The rule of thirds is a good starting point for creating a composition that works well with a viewer’s eye.

The rule of thirds creates points of interest that are evenly spaced in a photo and balance out empty spaces in the remaining two-thirds. These are called power points, often making a photo more visually appealing to the viewer.

A key element at one of these intersections encourages the viewer’s eye to journey throughout the entire photo. This makes for a more dynamic, pleasing image that looks natural to the eye.


3 Ways to Improve Your Photographs For Christmas Day

Christmas is the time to connect with our friends and family, eat together, exchange gifts, and play games. One of the best ways to immortalise these memories is by taking pictures, and you’ll find that even the most camera-shy among us want to be snapped in their Christmas party hat.

However, it’s important to ensure these photos are of the highest possible quality. This way, you will be able to look back on them in years to come and remember the happy memories. Let’s take a look at how to improve your photographs for Christmas Day.

Choose The Right Camera Settings

Camera settings can seem intimidating to those of us without much photography experience or knowledge. However, they are actually fairly simple to understand, and knowing how to best optimise your camera settings will allow you to take much better photos at Christmas and beyond.

You’ll need to think about things like exposure, focus, white balance, and colour balance. Many modern cameras and camera phones will set these for you automatically, leaving you free to snap away. But to get the best results, you should take the time to manually adjust these settings to best suit your particular situation.

Choosing the right settings will give you high-quality, professional-looking photos that can be uploaded to your social media and then printed into a collection by using a photo book maker.

Pick The Best Subjects

Christmas can be fun, but it can also be a hectic time. A house full of extended family members can get rowdy in good ways as well as bad. It can be easy to take photographs of everything in sight, but the best way to improve your photos is by choosing your subjects carefully.

Think about form and composition and watch how things like light and colour interact with one another. Instead of trying to take a photo that captures the entire scene at once, focus on individual moments and build up a collection of singular memories that can be grouped together to represent the full Christmas experience.

Head Outside

Christmas doesn’t just need to be spent indoors. Heading outside for some fresh air can be the perfect way to clear the head after a busy day and can help you get a head start on working off that extra festive weight.

Make sure to bring your camera outside with you. Taking some outdoor pictures can act as the perfect accompaniment to snaps of indoor festivities. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a white Christmas and there’s snow on the ground, even better! Take some pictures in the snow to complete your Christmas collection. Just remember to wrap up warm!


Everyone loves a Christmas photo. Whether you’re printing them, posting them on social media, or giving them away to friends and family, ensuring your photos are the very best they can be is incredibly important. Use the correct camera settings, choose the perfect subject, and head outside for some snowy snaps.