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5 smart New Year resolutions to look out for

Do something that makes you happy, take up a new hobby, travel somewhere you’ve never been before — all these will help you refocus and realign your goals and priorities.

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More than half of December is gone, and this is a good time to not just make a to-do list for 2018 but also stick to it and complete it. Here are five smart resolutions to make for the coming year — compiled by Patanjali Somayaji, Co-Founder of the Walnut App.

1. Save more, spend less (and pay bills on time)
A no-brainer really, but easy to say and tough to do. Check your past spends and work out how much you want to save each month. Allocate part of your income automatically so you’re not tempted to use the money elsewhere. This could be in an auto-sweep fixed deposit, a SIP in a mutual fund or a transfer to another bank account. Use a money management app to track your spends, create a budget and get reminders to make your bill payments on time.

2. Clear high-interest debt
Do you have several credit cards that are maxed out to the available credit limit, and are you paying only the minimum due each month? If so, you are headed for financial disaster. If you have multiple credit cards, give them up and keep a maximum of two, with the highest credit limit. Avoid any fresh spends on your cards till dues are cleared. List all your debts, from highest to lowest, and clear them in that order.

3. Health is wealth — ensure it
Being healthy and fit is the best gift for yourself and your family and dependents. Cut down on wasteful spending and eating/drinking, make actual use of that gym membership, get a complete health check-up done and make it a yearly habit.

Set aside money each month for an emergency fund worth 6-8 months of living expenses to see you and family through any medical emergency. Regardless of whether you are single or have a family, get a life and health insurance policy so that you/your next of kin don’t suffer financially if something happens to you.

2018 resolution
Every New Year brings a lot of hope and excitement to be unleashed

4. Documentation and nomination
Sounds boring, but it is a good idea to ensure your spouse/family is aware of your finances — not just investments and insurance, but also debts. Likewise, while opening a bank/demat/mutual fund account, not many pay attention to adding a nominee — or in case of a life insurance policy, updating beneficiary from parents to the spouse. Documentation can be further split into financial/debt, health/life and legal (if applicable). Ensure it is easily accessible to next of kin in case something happens to you, so they are spared the running around and unnecessary paperwork.

5. Remember to have fun!
Working 9 to 6 daily, five (or six) days a week can take a toll on your health and personal life. Make a conscious effort to set aside time for your family and friends. Plan mini-breaks every quarter and a full-fledged vacation once a year.

Do something that makes you happy, take up a new hobby, travel somewhere you’ve never been before — all these will help you refocus and realign your goals and priorities. IANS

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

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Earth Day 2018: Focusing on Ending Plastic Pollution

Earth Day 2018 focuses on Plastic pollution

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A demonstrator holds a placard as she participates in the March for Science rally on Earth Day in Mexico City, Mexico April 22, 2017. The placard reads:
FILE - A demonstrator holds a placard as she participates in the March for Science rally on Earth Day in Mexico City, Mexico April 22, 2017. The placard reads: "A country without science, research and education is a country dependent." Earth Day 2018, which is Sunday, will focus on plastics pollution. (VOA)

Each year on April 22, many people stop to think about the health of the world environment, as as if it were a New Year’s Day for nature, many make resolutions to treat the world around them more responsibly.

The day first celebrated in 1970 is approaching a half-century of existence with a movement that started in the United States and spread around the world. People celebrate the day with environmental action such as natural area cleanups, public demonstrations, tree plantings and, in 2016, the signing of the international Paris climate agreement, which aims to keep climate change in check.

The theme for 2018 is plastic pollution. Experts say a large mass of discarded plastic that has gathered in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles — more than 155 million hectares (600,000 square miles), or twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas.

FILE - In this photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black-footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Nov. 2, 2014. Midway sits amid a collection of man-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle — remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that washes ashore from surrounding waters.
FILE – In this photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black-footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Nov. 2, 2014. Midway sits amid a collection of man-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle — remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that washes ashore from surrounding waters. (VOA)

The patch developed in less than 100 years, as plastics have been in common use only since the 1950s. It is one of several masses of refuse found in the world’s oceans, brought together by weather patterns and water currents. Experts say many types of plastic that do not biodegrade can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years.

Also Read: ‘Skip The Straw’: A Call For Earth Day

This year’s Earth Day focuses on getting rid of single-use plastics, promoting the using of alternative materials, recycling and developing more responsible behaviors concerning the use of plastics.

The environmental group behind Earth Day, the Earth Day Network, estimates that 1 billion people around the world recognize Earth Day in some way.  VOA