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Top CEOs make workers’ yearly salaries in just FOUR days

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Leaders of some of the UK’s biggest companies will have made more money by 9am local time (8pm AEDT) on January 7 than the average UK worker earns in a year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A new </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://highpaycentre.org/high-pay-day-2022/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">analysis</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from the High Pay Centre, a UK think-tank that campaigns for fair pay for workers, suggests that a FTSE 100 chief executive (working at any of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange) will have earned more than an average full-time UK worker’s annual salary.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The High Pay Centre’s calculations are based on government statistics relating to pay levels across the economy, as well as previous analyses of CEO pay disclosures in annual reports.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Today the median FTSE100 CEO's earnings for 2022 will surpass the median annual wage for a full-time worker in the UK<br /><br />Such extreme inequality is immoral, unacceptable &amp; unsustainable. Wealth in this country has to be shared more fairly &amp; more evenly<a href="https://twitter.com/HighPayCentre?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HighPayCentre</a></p> — Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarolineLucas/status/1479354617167110145?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 7, 2022</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This year marks the first in the last ten years of reporting by the High Pay Centre where CEOs have made the same amount as average UK workers within the first four working days of the year. In previous reports, CEOs have typically surpassed the average yearly wage by January 6.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to data from 2020 - the latest full-year figures - FTSE100 CEOs were paid £2.7 million ($AUD 5.13 million) on average that year, which is nearly 86 times the average salary of £31, 285 ($AUD 29,385), as reported by </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jan/07/ftse-bosses-pay-average-9am" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Guardian</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 2020 financial year saw the average wage for CEOs fall, with many bosses taking wage cuts and cancelling their bonuses during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Today is <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HighPayDay?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HighPayDay</a>. <br /><br />Just prior to 9am today, CEOs' earnings for 2022 will surpass the median UK full time salary. <br /><br />As key workers face a cost of living crisis, we need urgent action to ensure wealth is shared more fairly in our society. <a href="https://t.co/RC5ah2daxs">https://t.co/RC5ah2daxs</a></p> — High Pay Centre (@HighPayCentre) <a href="https://twitter.com/HighPayCentre/status/1479347068330123269?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 7, 2022</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though most companies are yet to release figures for the financial year ending in 2021, the High Pay Centre’s report found that 57 percent of those who have done so have recorded increased wages for CEOs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The country’s biggest unions have said the disparity between bosses and ordinary workers was “disgraceful”, demanding that companies be forced to appoint a frontline worker to executive pay committees.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The pandemic has shown us all who keeps the country going during a crisis,” Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are millions of hardworking people in Britain - from carers, to delivery drivers, to shop floor staff - who give more than they get back, but greedy executives are taking home millions while ordinary workers face yet another year of pay squeezes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“As we emerge from the pandemic we need to redesign the economy to make it fair, and that means big reforms to bring CEO pay back down to earth.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms O’Grady said committees that set CEO pay must be “required to include workforce representatives who can speak up for a fairer balance of pay with ordinary workers”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Incentive schemes for company directors should be replaced by profit-share schemes that include the whole workforce,” she added.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Too much wealth is being hoarded at the top.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Top earners in the UK included Pascal Soriot, the CEO of vaccine-maker AstraZeneca, who received £15.5 million ($AUD 29.4 million), Berkeley’s Rob Perrins, who collected £8 million ($AUD 15.2 million), and Experian’s Brian Cassin, who earned £10.3 million ($AUD 19.5 million).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meanwhile in Australia, the </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/leaders/revealed-australia-s-50-highest-paid-ceos-20211117-p599rf" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Australian Financial Review</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> found that the paychecks of the country’s top bosses increased on average by 24 percent in the 2020-21 financial year, with Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake topping the list of high-earners with a reported pay of $15.97 million.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for New Zealand, a survey conducted by </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/126432044/bosses-of-our-biggest-companies-can-earn-nearly-40-times-more-than-their-workers" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stuff</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> found that Kiwi CEOs received between 16 and 36 times worker pay, and that only half of the country’s 20 biggest companies were willing to disclose their median pay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the publication, Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor was the country’s highest earner, receiving $7 million ($AUD 6.6 million). Though the company refused to disclose its workers’ median pay, Mr Taylor made nearly 90 times that of his workers if they received the survey’s mean pay of $80,000 ($AUD 75,460).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite the Union, took to twitter to criticise the continued heft of CEO salaries despite the pandemic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Is it the nurse in an intensive care unit saving the lives of those struck by Covid, or an elite investment banker making millions, who contributes most to society?” she wrote on Twitter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Which of them stood up for all of us during the pandemic?”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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The 3 problems with fines for not reporting positive COVID tests

<p>The NSW government this week decreed that anyone returning a positive COVID-19 reading using a rapid antigen test must report their result (through the Service NSW app or <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/register-positive-rapid-antigen-test-result" target="_blank">website</a>). Failing to do so can result in a $1,000 fine.</p> <p>The new rule came into effect on January 12 (there will be a one-week grace period). In the first 24 hours more than 80,000 people registered positive tests (recorded since January 1). In one sense that’s a lot. But since we have no idea of the total number of tests taken – let alone the number with a positive result – it’s hard to calibrate.</p> <p>The fine threat raises a number of questions, with the first being how will the government know if you test positive and don’t record it? On Wednesday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet admitted that it would be a hard law to enforce, <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/nsw/massive-surge-spike-in-covid-cases-as-nsw-records-rapid-tests-20220112-p59nq2.html" target="_blank">saying</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>there are obviously areas right across the state where there are laws that are harder to enforce than others, this is clearly one that will be harder to enforce, there’s no doubt about it.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Given this, it’s hard to know what the point of the announced penalty is. Indeed, both the economic theory and behavioural research research suggests it will achieve the opposite of its intention.</p> <p><strong>1. Fines act as a disincentive</strong></p> <p>Economists view these rules through the lens of the field of “contract theory”.</p> <p>Rules create incentives that encourage or discourage certain behaviours. In this case, suppose you test positive. If you self-isolate as result, because that’s the right thing to do even without rules, then truthfully reporting the result is of no consequence to you (as long as it’s easy to do, which it is for most people).</p> <p>But if you wouldn’t isolate, then truthfully reporting the results is of consequence. In NSW you face a $5,000 fine for failing to comply with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/stay-safe/rules/legislation-penalties" target="_blank">obligations to self-isolate</a> when diagnosed with COVID-19. Your choice is the low probability of a $1,000 fine for not reporting the result or the higher probability of a $5,000 fine for failing to isolate.</p> <p>So there’s an individual disincentive to even taking the test at all – which is, after all, optional for most. This means fewer tests will be taken, the opposite of what authorities want.</p> <p>From the perspective of contract theory, therefore, this $1,000 fine is likely to reduce tests by those who are not willing or not able (perhaps because they have to work for financial reasons) to voluntarily isolate.</p> <p>So you can bet that these folks will be calculating the odds of getting caught. This is the way some people think about parking fines, or thieves think about stealing bicycles. It’s a calculation involving the size of the penalty and the probability of getting caught.</p> <p><strong>2. Fines can turn off good behaviour</strong></p> <p>Some scholars, such as Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, argue the very act of putting a dollar value on things causes people to think of them in a transactional way. It’s no longer “wrong” to park in a no-standing zone, there’s just a kind of fee for it. In other words, fines can destroy civic virtue.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GvDpYHyBlgc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>A classic example of this comes from <a rel="noopener" href="https://rady.ucsd.edu/faculty/directory/gneezy/pub/docs/fine.pdf" target="_blank">a study</a> by behavioural economists Uri Gneezy and Aldo Rustichini on ways to encourage parents to pick up their children from child-care centres on time.</p> <p>Parents being late meant staff had to stay behind. The study involved some centres introducing fines to deter late pickups. But the fines actually led to more late pickups. Parents no longer felt so guilty. Being on time was no longer a social norm but a transaction. They could pay to disregard the expectation.</p> <p>So, too, it might be with this week’s $1,000 fine rule. In the unlikely event of getting caught, some might see the fine as just “the cost of doing business”.</p> <p><strong>3. Fines can make a mockery of the law</strong></p> <p>A final consideration about the $1,000 fine for failing to report a positive RAT tests concerns the problem of laws that cannot be enforced. The NSW government concede the new rule will hard to police and is mostly about <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/sydney-news-rapid-covid-test-fines-hard-to-police-minister-says/100753328" target="_blank">messaging</a>.</p> <p>“If we didn’t put a fine on it then people would say you’re not taking it seriously,” the minister for customer service said. But this is just turning a law into a bit of a joke. Laws being openly “mocked” damage the rule of law itself.</p> <p><strong>Getting rules right</strong></p> <p>These three complementary perspectives all point to the $1,000 fine for failing to report a positive rapid antigen test being a bad idea.</p> <p>It’s good to make it convenient for people to do the right thing (that’s what the Service NSW app does). It’s good to encourage people to do the right thing. It would be really good if there were lots of RATs available (ideally for free or close to it) so people can have the information to empower and protect themselves, their families and their communities.</p> <p>This does none of these things. It’s bad to enact a rule that makes a mockery of the law and likely to be counterproductive.</p> <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/richard-holden-118107" target="_blank">Richard Holden</a>, Professor of Economics, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414" target="_blank">UNSW</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/vital-signs-the-3-problems-with-fines-for-not-reporting-positive-covid-tests-174774" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Shoppers left confused by Aldi refund policy

<p dir="ltr">A woman has sparked a heated discussion online after sharing her experience seeking a refund at an Aldi store in the US. Writing in the Aisle of Shame Facebook group, she wrote, “I bought the big tree bag at Aldi for $29.99 on Wednesday. Got it home, and out of the box only to realise it’s much too massive for anything I could ever need so decided to return.”</p> <p dir="ltr">After heading back to the store and enquiring about a refund, she was informed that she was only entitled to half of what she paid for the item as the item had since been marked down.</p> <p dir="ltr">She wrote, “I was unaware that if you buy an... item at full price and days later it’s price gets cut in half, you should expect the half price for the return and not the full price, even though that’s what you paid. Even if it’s still marked in the aisle for full price, and I had a receipt.”</p> <p dir="ltr">This took place at an Aldi store in Ohio, but Aldi customers from all over the globe have weighed in, with one suggesting the incident was “illegal”, writing, “Wait, what?! But you had a receipt showing you paid full price!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Many group members went on to debate the store’s refund policy, with some suggesting that a policy designed to protect the store from after-Christmas returns may have been at play. One user commented, "Was it bought before Christmas and returned after? As someone who has worked retail during Halloween you'd be shocked how many people try to get their money back after the Holiday,” while another wrote, “Usually there is a policy posted about seasonal and clearance items.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Aldi employees even weighed in, with one commenting, “I’m an Assistant Store Manager at an Aldi, policy is with receipt you get back what you paid for! If you don't have a receipt you get what the system says,” and another confirming, I’m an Aldi employee. Whoever did your return did it wrong. You should have gotten what you paid for if you had your receipt.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The customer clarified that she had no hard feelings towards her local Aldi and would be heading back to have the situation rectified by a manager.</p> <p dir="ltr">Fortunately, this would never happen in Australia. An Aldi spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that if a customer has a receipt showing they paid the original price, that price would be refunded. Aldi Australia’s money back guarantee covers change of mind, grocery items, and Special Buys. The policy states, “Shop like you’ve got nothing to lose. Because you don’t.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images</em></p>

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No returns! Gifted lottery scratchie causes family rift after jackpot win

<p dir="ltr">A typical stocking stuffer has resulted in chaos after one man’s wife insisted they were entitled to the winnings from a scratchie they gifted.</p> <p dir="ltr">The man posted to Reddit community ‘Am I The A**hole’ seeking advice, as the $5 scratchie he gifted a cousin as part of their family’s stocking stuffer exchange resulted in the 23-year-old winning the jackpot of US$50,000.</p> <p dir="ltr">The man felt “elated” at his cousin’s win, telling the community, "I scooped him up in a big bear hug and said Merry Christmas you lucky a--hole. He was screaming and his mum was actually in tears and the whole room was excited. It was literally one of the top ten experiences of my life."</p> <p dir="ltr">The excitement was short-lived, however, as his wife quickly texted him asking him to come out to the car. Once there, "She told me there is no way that we are giving my cousin [$70k], then starts fussing at me about buying the lotto tickets to begin with.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He then explained that he and his wife are financially comfortable and didn’t need any more money, although it would be “nice to have”, while the amount would be “life-changing” for his cousin. "His mum is single and was one of those fiercely independent women who refused charity. She took on extra jobs to help him pay for [university]. He worked at least two jobs himself while going to school full-time and still managed [the] Dean's list," he wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">"But he still had to take out loans. He landed a job, but he can't afford a car yet or to live close to the office, so he's looking at nearly a two-hour commute. He's also saving for an engagement ring for his sweet girlfriend of three years. This money would literally change this kid's life and frankly I think it couldn't have gone to a better member of my family."</p> <p dir="ltr">The man tried to explain to his wife that they didn’t gift the money to his cousin, just the $5 scratchie, but she refused to let it go. "She is now demanding I go back in there and take the ticket back from him, saying maybe we'll give him some of it. We argue a little bit, I can't get her to explain why she wants this money so bad other than, 'It's ours and you're not giving it away.'” They fought the whole drive home and haven’t spoken much since.</p> <p dir="ltr">Reddit users were quick to side with the man, with many shocked at his wife’s behaviour. One user wrote, "You don't take gifts back when you realise they are worth more than you thought,” while another said the ticket “legally” and “morally” belonged to the cousin, and that there were "witnesses who saw you give the ticket to him as a gift and saw him scratch it and subsequently win."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: BanksPhotos</em></p>

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Millions paid out in Christmas banking bungle

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A UK bank made a costly Christmas mistake by paying a total of £130 million ($AUD 245 million) to customers on December 25.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a statement released on December 30, British lender Santander said the large sum was split over 75,000 transactions from about 2000 businesses with accounts at the bank.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re sorry that due to a technical issue, some payments from our corporate clients were incorrectly duplicated on the recipients’ accounts,” the bank </span><a href="https://7news.com.au/business/banking/uk-bank-mistakenly-pays-out-nearly-250-million-in-colossal-christmas-day-disaster-c-5140630"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“None of our clients were at any point left out of pocket as a result and we will be working hard with many banks across the UK to recover the duplicated transactions over the coming days.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The bank blamed the duplicated payments on a scheduling issue, with the second payment funded by Santander.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Santander added that the transactions included regular and one-off payments which may have included supplier payments or wages.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Initial reports from </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Times</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> said account holders included Barclays, Virgin Money, and HSBC.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the statement, Santander is working to recover the funds from rival banks who received the payments through the “bank error recovery process”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, it was unclear how the banks would respond if customers had already spent the money, where asking customers to repay the funds could push them into overdraft.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A payroll manager affected by the error </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59826345" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">BBC</span></em></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> it had cast a shadow on Christmas and Boxing Day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It ruined my holiday period because I thought I’d paid out hundreds of thousands in error - I thought I had done something wrong,” they said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I thought it was just me and that I was going to get in trouble at work.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The manager added that Santander hadn’t said how the second payment should be explained to staff or how the funds would be recovered.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s just a complete shambles,” they said. “How they are going to recover it, I just don’t know.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Santander UK - a subsidiary of global bank Banco Santander - has 14 million active customers and 616 branches, according to its website.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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World economy in 2022: the big factors to watch closely

<p>Will 2022 be the year where the world economy recovers from the pandemic? That’s the big question on everyone’s lips as the festive break comes to an end.</p> <p>One complicating factor is that most of the latest major forecasts were published in the weeks before the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern" target="_blank">omicron variant</a> swept the world. At that time, the mood was that recovery was indeed around the corner, with the IMF projecting <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2021/10/12/world-economic-outlook-october-2021" target="_blank">4.9% growth</a> in 2022 and the OECD <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/oecd-economic-outlook-sees-recovery-continuing-but-warns-of-growing-imbalances-and-risks.htm" target="_blank">projecting 4.5%</a>. These numbers are lower than the circa 5% to 6% global growth expected to have been achieved in 2021, but that represents the inevitable rebound from reopening after the pandemic lows of 2020.</p> <p>So what difference will omicron make to the state of the economy? We already know that it had an effect in the run-up to Christmas, with for example <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2021/dec/23/omicron-hits-uk-economy-growth-car-production-market-optimism-energy-crisis-business-live?filterKeyEvents=false&amp;page=with:block-61c46e4c8f08efd5f0de270a#block-61c46e4c8f08efd5f0de270a" target="_blank">UK hospitality</a> taking a hit as people stayed away from restaurants. For the coming months, the combination of raised restrictions, cautious consumers and people taking time off sick is likely to take its toll.</p> <p>Yet the fact that the new variant seems milder than originally feared is likely to mean that restrictions are lifted more quickly and that the economic effect is more moderate than it might have been. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-admit-some-foreigners-with-presumed-covid-immunity-jan-9-2022-01-03/" target="_blank">Israel</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/1/3/australia-pushes-on-with-reopening-amid-milder-impact-of-omicron" target="_blank">Australia</a>, for example, are already loosening restrictions despite high case numbers. At the same time, however, until the west tackles very low <a rel="noopener" href="https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations?country=OWID_WRL" target="_blank">vaccination rates</a> in some parts of the world, don’t be surprised if another new variant brings further damage to both public health and the world economy.</p> <p>As things stand, the UK thinktank the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) published a more recent <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-12-26/world-economy-now-set-to-surpass-100-trillion-in-2022" target="_blank">2022 forecast</a> just before Christmas. It predicted that global growth would reach 4% this year, and that the total world economy would hit a new all-time high of US$100 trillion (£74 trillion).</p> <p><strong>The inflation question</strong></p> <p>One other big unknown is inflation. In 2021 we saw a sudden and sharp surge in inflation resulting from the restoration of global economic activity and bottlenecks in the <a rel="noopener" href="https://obr.uk/box/the-economic-effects-of-supply-bottlenecks/" target="_blank">global supply chain</a>. There has been <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/inflation-why-its-temporary-and-raising-interest-rates-will-do-more-harm-than-good-172329" target="_blank">much debate</a> about whether this inflation will prove temporary, and central banks have been coming under pressure to ensure it doesn’t spiral.</p> <p>So far, the European Central Bank, Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan have all abstained from raising interest rates from their very low levels. The Bank of England, on the other hand, followed the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ft.com/content/ca15ce59-ca72-497c-bf7a-c1482d972f01" target="_blank">IMF’s advice</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy-summary-and-minutes/2021/december-2021" target="_blank">raised rates</a> from 0.1% to 0.25% in December. This is too little to curb inflation or do any good besides increase the cost of borrowing for firms and to raise <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59140059" target="_blank">mortgage payments</a> for households. That said, the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/sterling-nears-2-year-high-vs-euro-rate-rise-bets-2022-01-04/" target="_blank">markets are betting</a> that more UK rate rises will follow, and that <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/03/markets-and-the-economy-brace-as-the-feds-first-hike-could-come-in-two-months.html" target="_blank">the Fed</a> will also start raising rates in the spring.</p> <p>Yet the more important question regarding inflation is what happens to quantitative easing (QE). This is the policy of increasing the money supply that has seen the major central banks <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/global-qe-tracker/" target="_blank">buying some</a> US$25 trillion in government bonds and other financial assets in recent years, including about US$9 trillion on the back of COVID.</p> <p>Both the Fed and ECB are still operating QE and adding assets to their balance sheets every month. The Fed is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/fed-tapering?r=US&amp;IR=T" target="_blank">currently tapering</a> the rate of these purchases with a view to stopping them in March, having recently announced that it would bring forward the end date from June. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ft.com/content/03a30484-b265-4a88-a861-de1784305d40" target="_blank">The ECB</a> has also said it will scale back QE, but is committed to continuing for the time being.</p> <p>Of course, the real question is what these central banks do in practice. Ending QE and raising interest rates will undoubtedly hamper the recovery – the <a rel="noopener" href="https://cebr.com/reports/city-am-uk-to-remain-one-of-the-top-six-global-economies-post-covid-says-cebr-report/" target="_blank">CEBR forecast</a>, for example, assumes that it will see bond, stock and property markets falling by 10% to 25% in 2022. It will be interesting to see whether the prospect of such upheaval forces the Fed and Bank of England to get more dovish again – particularly when you factor in the continued uncertainty around COVID.</p> <p><strong>Politics and global trade</strong></p> <p>The trade war between the US and China looks likely to continue in 2022. The “<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.piie.com/research/piie-charts/us-china-phase-one-tracker-chinas-purchases-us-goods" target="_blank">phase 1</a>” deal between the two nations, in which China had agreed to increase its purchases of certain US goods and services by a combined US$200 billion over 2020 and 2021 has missed its target <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.piie.com/research/piie-charts/us-china-phase-one-tracker-chinas-purchases-us-goods" target="_blank">by about 40%</a> (as at the end of November).</p> <p>The deal has now expired, and the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202201/1243977.shtml" target="_blank">big question</a> for international trade in 2022 is whether there will be a <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ced.org/solutions-briefs/the-china-trade-challenge-phase-ii" target="_blank">new “phase 2” deal</a>. It is hard to feel particularly optimistic here: Donald Trump may have long since left office, but US strategy on China remains <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/biden-losing-china-strategy-protectionism-industrial-policy-by-anne-o-krueger-2021-09?utm_source=Project%20Syndicate%20Newsletter&amp;utm_campaign=bf7c015f95-sunday_newsletter_12_26_2021&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-bf7c015f95-105568073&amp;mc_cid=bf7c015f95&amp;mc_eid=14a09c8529&amp;barrier=accesspaylog" target="_blank">distinctly Trumpian</a>, with no notable concessions having been offered to the Chinese under Joe Biden.</p> <p>Elsewhere, western tensions with Russia over Ukraine and further escalation of economic sanctions against Putin may have economic consequences for the global economy – not least because of Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. The more engagement that we see on both fronts in the coming months, the better it will be for growth.</p> <p>Whatever happens politically, it is clear that Asia will be very important for growth prospects in 2022. Major economies such as <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-12-22/u-k-economy-closer-to-pre-pandemic-levels-despite-3q-downgrade?sref=Hjm5biAW" target="_blank">the UK</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="https://tradingeconomics.com/japan/gdp" target="_blank">Japan</a> and the <a rel="noopener" href="https://tradingeconomics.com/euro-area/gdp" target="_blank">eurozone</a> were all still smaller than before the pandemic as recently as the third quarter of 2021, the latest data available. The only major developed economy that has already recovered its losses and regained its pre-COVID size is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/12/08/a-most-unusual-recovery-how-the-us-rebound-from-covid-differs-from-rest-of-g7/" target="_blank">the United States</a>.</p> <p><strong>Economic growth by country since 2015</strong></p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439333/original/file-20220104-18500-zchaq3.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439333/original/file-20220104-18500-zchaq3.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <em><span class="attribution"><span class="source">OECD data</span></span></em></p> <p>On the other hand, China has <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/china/" target="_blank">managed the pandemic</a> well – albeit with strict control measures – and its economy has achieved strong growth since the second quarter of 2020. It has been <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/chinas-problem-with-property-the-domino-effect-of-evergrandes-huge-debts-168601" target="_blank">struggling with</a> a heavily over-indebted property market, but appears to have handled these problems <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-evergrande-says-construction-has-resumed-at-vast-majority-of-its-projects-11640602229" target="_blank">relatively smoothly</a>. Though the jury is out on the extent to which <a rel="noopener" href="https://edition.cnn.com/2021/12/15/economy/china-omicron-economy-intl-hnk/index.html" target="_blank">China’s debt problems</a> will be a drag in 2022, some such as Morgan Stanley <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/03/morgan-stanley-on-chinas-gdp-economy-in-2022.html" target="_blank">argue that</a> strong exports, accommodative monetary and fiscal policies, relief for real estate sector and a slightly more relaxed approach to carbon reduction point to a decent performance.</p> <p>As for India, whose economy has seen double dips during the pandemic, it is showing a strong positive trend with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2021/10/12/world-economic-outlook-october-2021" target="_blank">8.5% expected growth</a> in the year ahead. I therefore suspect that emerging Asia will shoulder global growth in 2022, and the world’s <a rel="noopener" href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1758-5899.2010.00066.x" target="_blank">economic centre of gravity</a> will continue to shift eastwards at an accelerated pace.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/174350/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-ali-nasir-1244347" target="_blank">Muhammad Ali Nasir</a>, Associate Professor in Economics and Finance, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-huddersfield-1226" target="_blank">University of Huddersfield</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/world-economy-in-2022-the-big-factors-to-watch-closely-174350" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Working holidaymakers bring in $3bn each year – so, how will Australia ensure they come back?

<p>Working holidaymakers will be one of the first international visitor markets to return to Australia in 2022.</p> <p>But as global travel slowly resumes and many young people start thinking about working overseas again, global competition for this market will be intense. Australia will need to out-compete other destinations to bring working holidaymakers back, particularly those from Europe.</p> <p>There were more than <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/content/dam/digital/global/documents/whm-snapshot-dec-2019.pdf">300,000 working holidaymakers</a> in Australia per year before the pandemic. The absence of these workers resulted in a loss of more than A$3.2 billion in visitor spending in 2020. It has also created critical labour shortfalls, particularly in regional Australia.</p> <p>With borders reopening, the Australian government needs to rethink its working holiday program. It needs not only to make it easier for young travellers to come back, but also have a better understanding of their goals and expectations of a fulfilling working holiday experience.</p> <p> </p> <h2>Working holidaymakers stay longer and spend more</h2> <p>The working holiday visa program was established in 1975 as a cultural exchange initiative. Working holidaymaker visas are available for young people (mostly aged 18 to 30) and typically last for one year, though there can be opportunities to extend this. Australia now has reciprocal agreements with 45 countries.</p> <p>The program has remained open throughout the pandemic to people from eligible countries. Yet, visa applications declined by an <a href="https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-stats/files/working-holiday-report-december-2020.pdf">astonishing 99.5%</a> in 2020. People were free to apply for working holiday visas, but the closed borders prevented them from actually coming.</p> <p>Working holidaymakers spend more and stay longer than any other international visitor. On average, they spend <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/content/dam/digital/global/documents/whm-snapshot-dec-2019.pdf">A$10,400 per trip and stay 149 nights</a>. In comparison, other international visitors to Australia <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/en/markets-and-stats/tourism-statistics/international-market-performance.html">spend A$5,211 per trip and stay 32 nights</a>, on average.</p> <p>One-third of working holidaymakers come from the UK, Germany and France. However, there is a growing demand in Asia. In 2019, almost <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/content/dam/digital/global/documents/whm-snapshot-dec-2019.pdf">29% of working holidaymakers</a> were from Japan, South Korea and China.</p> <p>Combining study with a working holiday is particularly attractive for young people from Asia. As such, reactivating this market after the pandemic is critical to rebuilding Australia’s international education sector.</p> <p>According to Tourism Australia, the most popular jobs for working holidaymakers are waiter, farmhand, construction worker and childcare worker. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were the most affected by the absence of these visitors – the three states accounted for <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/content/dam/digital/global/documents/whm-snapshot-dec-2019.pdf">83% of working holiday jobs</a> in 2019.</p> <p>But this doesn’t mean working holidaymakers stay in capital cities. In fact, they disperse more widely around the country than other international visitors.</p> <p>These travellers have been sorely missed in regional Australia, which have suffered from <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/australian-hospitality-workers-where-the-bloody-hell-are-you/news-story/d54a1b64bee1c216831590c0fc40557c">crippling labour shortages</a> during the pandemic. Cairns, Port Douglas and other areas in northern Queensland have been the most severely affected.</p> <p>This year, the Queensland government launched the A$7.5 million “<a href="https://www.workinparadise.initiatives.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1579319/wip-employers-factsheet.pdf">Work in Paradise</a>” scheme, offering a A$1,500 incentive to lure young Australians to work in tourism and hospitality jobs in regional Queensland.</p> <p>Extending this program to overseas workers could be instrumental in bringing foreign working holidaymakers back to Queensland as borders reopen.</p> <h2>How Australia can bring them back</h2> <p>As a first step to restarting this market, the Australian government has removed the visa application charge for those working holidaymakers who were previously granted a visa but were unable to come to Australia because of the pandemic.</p> <p>They have also relaxed some visa requirements, such as allowing working holidaymakers to work for one employer for up to 12 months (up from six months previously). This is aimed at encouraging holidaymakers to take jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry.</p> <p>Australia and the UK have also <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/dec/17/australia-free-trade-deal-with-uk-to-remove-taxes-on-virtually-all-exports-to-britain">just signed a free trade agreement</a> that will extend the reciprocal working holidaymaker agreement between the countries. This includes increasing the age eligibility from 30 to 35 years and visa duration for up to three years, and having no job-specified work requirements.</p> <p>But luring working holidaymakers back will require more than just loosening the rules. We need to delve deeper into what motivates these young people to take a working holiday trip, particularly to Australia.</p> <p>In the past, these travellers have worked in low-skilled, low-paid jobs. This experience has also been seen as a “gap year” between high school and university.</p> <p>But those in Generation Z have different life aspirations than previous generations. Many are increasingly focused on kick-starting their careers, and taking a year off to travel abroad may be less attractive.</p> <p>So, for destinations like Australia, it’s important to offer opportunities for young people to use their working holiday to gain critical skills and experience for their careers, not just make money to travel. The Gold Coast-based <a href="https://globalworkandtravel.com/">Global Work and Travel Company</a>, for example, now offers overseas internships so young people can advance their professional skills while gaining international travel experience.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437674/original/file-20211214-25-1959om3.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Internships are one way to give young travellers different work experiences.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Some backpacker accommodations have also closed or shifted to other purposes during the pandemic. So, one thing local leaders can do is ensure there is adequate low-cost accommodation to support returning travellers.</p> <p>The government also needs to make it affordable and easy to travel to Australia. Subsidising airfares to get them here, making it easier to find job vacancies, and providing low-cost or free transport out to the regions would help.</p> <p>Employers also need to ensure holidaymakers are <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Education_and_Employment/temporary_work_visa/Report">well-treated and have an enjoyable work experience</a>. This requires stronger mechanisms to ensure employers are complying with the legal requirements around fair pay and adequate workplace conditions for those on temporary visas.</p> <p>Improving the working holiday experience can have long-term benefits for the country. Research shows that many visitors <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211973619300972">develop</a> a deep emotional attachment and affinity for Australia during an extending working holiday stay and return multiple times throughout their lives.</p> <p>They can develop an understanding of Australian society and our economic and business practices during their experience. As such, they can help build future trade and investment opportunities between Australia and other countries.</p> <p>So, making working holiday travel easy, fun and safe is not only vital to getting Australia’s tourism industry back on track – it’s critical for the country’s long-term engagement with the world. We need to make this a priority in 2022.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-gardiner-214088">Sarah Gardiner</a>, Deputy Director, Griffith Institute For Tourism, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/working-holidaymakers-bring-in-3bn-each-year-so-how-will-australia-ensure-they-come-back-172771">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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How COVID-19 changed the way we shop – and what to expect in 2022 and beyond

<p>COVID-19 has dramatically changed how businesses and consumers behave. We’ve seen panic buying, the rise of the “homebody economy” and a strong shift towards contactless shopping.</p> <p>As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, it seems the right time to reflect on the most important changes in consumer behaviour we’ve seen, and to make some predictions about COVID-19’s lasting and pervasive effects on how we shop.</p> <p><strong>Pandemic purchasing</strong></p> <p>One of the first impacts of COVID-19 was supermarket shelves being repeatedly stripped of <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/a-toilet-paper-run-is-like-a-bank-run-the-economic-fixes-are-about-the-same-133065" target="_blank">toilet paper and other products</a> ahead of lockdowns.</p> <p>One debate this behaviour sparked was about how much it could be considered irrational <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/psychology-can-explain-why-coronavirus-drives-us-to-panic-buy-it-also-provides-tips-on-how-to-stop-134032" target="_blank">panic buying</a> – or if it was rational to <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.05.028" target="_blank">stockpile</a> in response to the irrational behaviour of others.</p> <p>It was a real-life lesson in game theory. Decisions that make perfect sense for individuals can add up to a bad outcome for the community.</p> <p><strong>Spending less, spending more</strong></p> <p>Spending more money at the supermarket was at least possible.</p> <p>Consumption patterns changed significantly due to closed borders, restricted shopping, stay-at-home orders and general uncertainty.</p> <p>Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows large drops in spending on transport, accommodation, recreation and entertainment services, and catering.</p> <p><strong>Individual services consumption, 2020</strong></p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437167/original/file-20211213-21-yaa52g.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437167/original/file-20211213-21-yaa52g.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Individual services consumption by select categories, 2020." /></a> <em><span class="caption">Percentage change in household services consumption by select categories per quarter 2020.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abs.gov.au/articles/insights-household-consumption-december-quarter-2020" target="_blank" class="source">ABS, Insights into household consumption, December quarter 2020</a></span></em></p> <p>Spending on food increased marginally, and on alcohol even more. The main reasons cited for increased drinking, according <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249189" target="_blank">to one study</a>, were stress (45.7%), increased alcohol availability (34.4%) and boredom (30.1%).</p> <p><strong>Individual goods consumption, 2020</strong></p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437170/original/file-20211213-21-mpsqit.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437170/original/file-20211213-21-mpsqit.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Individual goods consumption, 2020" /></a> <em><span class="caption">Percentage change in household goods consumption by select categories per quarter 2020.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abs.gov.au/articles/insights-household-consumption-december-quarter-2020" target="_blank" class="source">ABS, Insights into household consumption, December quarter 2020</a></span></em></p> <p>Spending also increased on home-related electronics, <a rel="noopener" href="https://app.content.deloitte.com.au/e/er?s=1192815365&amp;lid=14989&amp;elqTrackId=BDCA277B6E6DA734D62B2FA4F09A5680&amp;elq=&amp;elqaid=3147&amp;elqat=2" target="_blank">streaming services</a>, furnishings, hardware and <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113101" target="_blank">pet-related items</a>.</p> <p>Interest increased in traditional activities such as <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-10-2020-0949" target="_blank">cooking</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8857-australian-magazine-print-readership-and-cross-platform-audiences-september-2021-202111220401" target="_blank">reading</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-23/pandemic-gardening-in-times-of-crisis-will-it-continue/100462576" target="_blank">gardening</a>.</p> <p>It is too early to tell to what extent these pandemic-driven shifts will translate into permanent behavioural change. However, research <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2021.103953" target="_blank">published last month</a>, based on surveying 7,500 households in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, supports the likelihood of at least some long-term sectoral shifts in consumer behaviour.</p> <p><strong>Predictions of a shopping splurge</strong></p> <p>As <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/no-more-lockdowns-international-borders-could-open-sooner-perrottet-20211007-p58y7x.html" target="_blank">restrictions relax</a>, some marketing experts are predicting “<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.thedrum.com/news/2021/09/17/australian-consumers-go-revenge-spending-sprees-once-covid-19-restrictions-are" target="_blank">revenge spending</a>” – shopping sprees with abandon.</p> <p>Certainly many higher-income households have the money to splash out on a holiday, or new car, or home renovation, with Australians banking an estimated <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/consumers-sitting-on-140b-post-pandemic-war-chest-20210730-p58eh3" target="_blank">A$140 billion in extra savings</a> during the pandemic.</p> <p>Other research, such as the National Australia Bank’s quarterly <a rel="noopener" href="https://business.nab.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/NAB-Consumer-Sentiment-Survey-Q3-2021.pdf" target="_blank">Consumer Sentiment Survey</a>, suggests the pandemic has engendered greater caution. In its most recent survey, 37% said they were mindful or careful of where they spent their money (42% of women and 33% of men). In terms of purchasing influences, 43% nominated supporting local businesses, compared with 15% environmental issues and 14% social concerns such as labour practices.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437363/original/file-20211213-27-kcqcn8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="In NAB's consumer sentiment survey 43% said their purchases were influenced by the desire to support local business." /> <em><span class="caption">In NAB’s consumer sentiment survey 43% said their purchases were influenced by the desire to support local business.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p>Some <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/will-the-end-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-usher-in-a-second-roaring-20s-159017" target="_blank">have wondered</a> if, in the wake of COVID-19, we are about to experience another “Roaring Twenties” – emulating that period of economic prosperity and cultural dynamism in the 1920s following the deprivations of the first world war and the “Spanish flu” epidemic.</p> <p>The circumstances are not exactly analogous. But new technologies and changes in habits are likely to drive several long-term changes in the way we shop.</p> <p><strong>Going contactless</strong></p> <p>Our desire to reduce physical contact accelerated contactless payment methods. Research (from the Netherlands) suggests this will, for most, <a rel="noopener" href="https://econpapers.repec.org/paper/dnbdnbwpp/701.htm" target="_blank">be a permanent change</a>, accelerating a steady decline in the use of cash for shopping.</p> <p><strong>ATM cash withdrawals using debit cards</strong></p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/393749/original/file-20210407-13-vei244.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/393749/original/file-20210407-13-vei244.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <em><span class="caption">Monthly, seasonally adjusted.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/tables/xls/c04hist.xlsx" target="_blank" class="source">Reserve Bank of Australia</a></span></em></p> <p>Technology enabling payments using smartphones, such as supermarkets introducing a way to pay by <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/woolworths-coles-and-big-banks-introduce-new-way-to-pay/news-story/78aa9368f17330cf5d7b0c8299317c94" target="_blank">scanning a QR code</a>, will contribute to this shift.</p> <p>Ways to buy things without ever having to step inside a shop – such as curbside pick-up and home delivery – should also continue. In 2021 we’ve seen a number of startup businesses promising grocery deliveries <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/start-up-services-grocery-delivery-15-minutes-sydney-melbourne/d392902b-1458-4b4f-ad66-7979a58a7475" target="_blank">in 15 minutes</a>.</p> <p><strong>“Omni” experiences</strong></p> <p>Increasingly our buying behaviour will be shaped by what marketing experts call <a rel="noopener" href="https://nielseniq.com/global/en/insights/analysis/2020/its-time-to-think-omnichannel-shopper-not-just-omnichannel/" target="_blank">omnichannel shopping</a> – a fancy word meaning using a variety of experiences to make a purchase.</p> <p>You might, for instance, go into a store to try out headphones, then go online to read third-party reviews and compare prices from different retailers.</p> <p>Technologies such as <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2021.102720" target="_blank">augmented reality</a> will facilitate this trend. For example, IKEA’s <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ikea.com/au/en/customer-service/mobile-apps/say-hej-to-ikea-place-pub1f8af050" target="_blank">Place</a> app allows you to see how furnishing will into your space.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437212/original/file-20211213-25-1y3ewzx.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="IKEA's 'Place' app." /> <em><span class="caption">IKEA’s ‘Place’ app.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">IKEA</span></span></em></p> <p>More and more what were once physical experiences will have their digital variants, from attending university to having an appointment with a health professional to taking a <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UymdMZwF2kE" target="_blank">tour of the British Museum</a> or <a rel="noopener" href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/407710/The_Grand_Canyon_VR_Experience/" target="_blank">exploring the Grand Canyon</a>. Though these cannot replicate the real experience, they will be an increasingly common way to “try before you buy”.</p> <p>The future of shopping will gradually merge the digital and physical. But whatever changes, some things will remain constant: the human desire to make experiences convenient, fun and meaningful.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172973/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adrian-r-camilleri-200583" target="_blank">Adrian R. Camilleri</a>, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936" target="_blank">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-covid-19-changed-the-way-we-shop-and-what-to-expect-in-2022-and-beyond-172973" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Millions raised for useless treatments

<p>Crowdfunding campaigns have raised millions of dollars toward medical treatments that are unsafe or unsupported, a new study finds.</p> <p>More than 1000 crowdfunding campaigns, mostly through the site GoFundMe, have raised more than $US6.7 million to treat cancer, brain or spinal cord injury, and chronic Lyme disease, using therapies that are dangerous or ineffective, <a rel="noopener" href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/10.1001/jama.2018.10264" target="_blank">according to research</a> appearing in the journal JAMA, led by Ford Vox of the Shepherd Centre in Atlanta, US.</p> <p>“Assuming that the funds raised are spent to pay for these treatments, donors indirectly contributed millions of dollars to practitioners to deliver dubious, possibly unsafe care,” Vox and his team write.</p> <p>The study, which looked at fund-raising efforts since November 2015, identified campaigns that sought to raise money for homeopathic or naturopathic approaches to cancer, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and stem cell treatments for brain and spinal cord injury, and long-term antibiotic therapy for “chronic Lyme disease”.</p> <p>“Homeopathic treatments for cancer and HBOT for brain injury are ineffective,” the authors write. “Stem cell therapy for central nervous system injury and long term antibiotic therapy for chronic Lyme disease can result in serious adverse events.”</p> <p>The diseases and treatments were selected for “clinical experience and visibility”.</p> <p>The researchers looked at four crowdfunding sites that allow medical campaigns: GoFundMe, YouCaring, CrowdRise, and FundRazr. All but 2% of the campaigns that met the study’s criteria were found on GoFundMe.</p> <p>“The present study … suggests that medical crowdfunding is being used for multiple problematic treatments,” the researchers write.</p> <p>Some 474 campaigns – nearly half of those that fitted the study’s guidelines – were for homeopathic or naturopathic cancer treatments, representing $US3.5 million in donations.</p> <p>Overall, medical campaigns on GoFundMe raised $US3 billion overall in 2016, up $US1 billion from the previous year. Vox and his team note that the campaigns “can fill insurance gaps”, but problems arise when the funds are directed toward questionable practitioners.</p> <p>Of course, some patients pay for their own dangerous care. Last year, it was revealed that three people in Florida, US, had <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1609583?query=TOC" target="_blank">lost their eyesight</a> after paying for stem cell treatments at a facility they thought was conducting a clinical trial.</p> <p>The news <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/opinion-regulators-need-to-protect-stem-cell-promise" target="_blank">sparked calls for increased regulation</a> of clinics, which “are marketing so-called stem cell treatments without first showing that they work or are safe”, as Megan Munsie and Claire Tanner from researcher collaboration Stem Cells Australia wrote in Cosmos earlier this year.</p> <div class="newsletter-box"> <div id="wpcf7-f6-p23039-o1" class="wpcf7"> <p style="display: none !important;"> </p> <p><!-- Chimpmail extension by Renzo Johnson --></p> </div> </div> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=23039&amp;title=Millions+raised+for+useless+treatments" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></p> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/crowd-funders-raise-millions-for-useless-cancer-stem-cell-treatments/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/samantha-page">Samantha Page</a>. Samantha Page is a science journalist based in Spain.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

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Convenient but susceptible to fraud: Why it makes sense to regulate charitable crowdfunding

<p>Within 24 hours of <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-the-southern-us-is-prone-to-december-tornadoes-173643" target="_blank">devastating tornadoes striking six states</a> in December 2021, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear launched the <a rel="noopener" href="https://secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/Finance/WKYRelief" target="_blank">Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund</a>. That the leader of the state this disaster hit hardest would immediately tap into <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/crowdfunding-nonprofits" target="_blank">crowdfunded charity</a> – raising money from the public directly – to complement relief dollars from official sources should come as no surprise.</p> <p>Crowdfunded donations have become a key source of disaster assistance – and often raise significant sums. In 2017, for example, football star J.J. Watt quickly raised more than $40 million help people affected by <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.houstontexans.com/news/j-j-watt-foundation-announces-hurricane-harvey-recap-and-2018-19-plans" target="_blank">Hurricane Harvey</a>. Following a series of Australian wildfires, entertainer Celeste Barber made a public appeal that eventually raised more than AU$50 million for the <a rel="noopener" href="https://eprints.qut.edu.au/200554" target="_blank">New South Wales Rural Fire Service &amp; Brigades Donation Fund</a>. And to date, the CDC Foundation has raised more than $51 million to support its “<a rel="noopener" href="https://give4cdcf.org/?utm_source=CDCF&amp;utm_medium=web&amp;utm_campaign=combat-coronavirus" target="_blank">Crush COVID</a>” campaign.</p> <p>What’s not to like about this new way to raise funds for a good cause? Well, as long as there has been charitable fundraising there has been the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-donors-can-help-make-nonprofits-more-accountable-85927" target="_blank">potential for scams</a>.</p> <p>As a <a rel="noopener" href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=uplx-M8AAAAJ&amp;hl=en&amp;oi=ao" target="_blank">law professor who studies the regulation of charities</a>, as well as a lawyer who has represented numerous charities and donors in legal disputes, I’ve seen that two aspects of charitable crowdfunding make it particularly vulnerable to fraud.</p> <p><strong>Sometimes it turns out to be crowd-frauding</strong></p> <p>In late 2017, a New Jersey couple posted an inspiring story on GoFundMe. A homeless veteran, they said, had come to the wife’s rescue after she ran out of gas on a highway exit ramp. Their “<a rel="noopener" href="https://abc7ny.com/homeless-hero-gofundme-money-stolen-from-man-john-bobbitt-gofund-me-go-fund/4690185/" target="_blank">Paying it Forward</a>” campaign raised more than $400,000 to help the veteran.</p> <p>Heartwarming, right? Trouble is, it was a lie. All three of the people involved in this trickery eventually <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/mark-damico-johnny-bobbitt-kate-mcclure-gofundme-guilty-20211122.html" target="_blank">pleaded guilty to federal charges</a> of “<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dicindiolaw.com/what-constitutes-theft-by-deception/" target="_blank">theft by deception</a>.”</p> <p>Fraudulent crowdfunding can also prey on political sentiments rather than just exploiting sympathy.</p> <p>In 2020, <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/leaders-we-build-wall-online-fundraising-campaign-charged-defrauding-hundreds-thousands" target="_blank">federal prosecutors charged</a> former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon and three others with defrauding thousands of donors to a crowdfunding campaign for <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-steve-bannon-faces-fraud-charges-4-questions-answered-144834" target="_blank">building portions of a wall</a> along the U.S. border with Mexico. Bannon and his partners allegedly instead used some of the funds raised to compensate themselves and pay for personal expenses.</p> <p>Although then-President <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/19/trump-pardons-expected-day-before-biden-inauguration.html" target="_blank">Donald J. Trump pardoned Bannon</a> in advance of any trial, the former White House aide still <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/05/25/steve-bannon-officially-cleared-of-federal-charges-after-trump-pardon---but-this-state-probe-still-looms/?sh=1a58e95657c4" target="_blank">faces possible state charges</a>.</p> <p><strong>Reasons for vulnerability</strong></p> <p>Making a special website isn’t necessary to raise charitable funds this way. Some 45 million people donated to or created a fundraiser using Facebook from 2015 to 2020, raising over <a rel="noopener" href="https://about.fb.com/news/2019/09/2-billion-for-causes/" target="_blank">$3 billion for charities</a>, according the company.</p> <p>And crowdfunding efforts can help people without <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506" target="_blank">technically counting as tax-deductible charity</a>. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.gofundme.com/" target="_blank">GoFundMe</a>, a popular charitable crowdfunding platform, lets people raise funds for both personal needs, such as covering medical expenses, and for specific charities of all kinds.</p> <p>Being fast and cheap to operate makes charitable crowdfunding ideal in some ways, not others. More traditional fundraising campaigns that rely on mailings and phone calls are time-consuming to establish. In contrast, it’s possible to set up a new campaign on GoFundMe that is then visible both nationally and internationally within a few minutes.</p> <p>In the wake of a highly publicized disaster, when many people are <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-select-a-disaster-relief-charity-83928" target="_blank">looking for a quick way to help</a>, everyone – even governors – will want to move fast. Opportunities for fraud are perhaps at their peak.</p> <p>Compounding this problem: Laws governing charitable fundraising do not clearly apply to campaign organizers and crowdfunding platforms. As I detail in an article <a rel="noopener" href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3686612" target="_blank">soon to be published in the Indiana Law Journal</a>, state legislatures wrote those laws decades ago, when charities raised money either directly or using paid solicitors. As a result, those laws do not usually apply to individuals who voluntarily raise money for individuals or charities to which they have no formal ties. Nor do they apply to the recently emerged platforms where people crowdfund for causes.</p> <p><strong>California takes aim</strong></p> <p>So far, there’s no regulation taking shape to address these issues at the federal level.</p> <p>California became the first state to pass legislation specifically targeting charitable crowdfunding when Gov. Gavin Newson signed Assembly Bill No. 488 into law in October 2021. The measure, which will not <a rel="noopener" href="https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB488" target="_blank">take effect until Jan. 1, 2023</a>, requires both charities raising funds online and platforms hosting campaigns for specific charities to register and file regular reports with the state’s <a rel="noopener" href="https://oag.ca.gov/charities" target="_blank">Registry of Charitable Trusts</a>.</p> <p>The new law will also require these charities and platforms to make certain public disclosures and receipts, as needed. It will also require platforms to promptly distribute donations to the designated charities and obtain a charity’s written consent before soliciting funds for its benefit – with some exceptions.</p> <p>In my view, California’s new law is a good first effort.</p> <p>It places the burden of compliance on the charities themselves and the handful of online platforms engaged in this work, not on the numerous individuals who start campaigns. But it remains to be seen whether the registration, reporting, disclosure and other requirements will create enough transparency and accountability to sufficiently deter fraud without over burdening legitimate charities and platforms.</p> <p>I appreciate the difficult task legislators face in striking a balance that avoids both over- and underregulation. Lawmakers do not want to overregulate charitable crowdfunding to the point that generous individuals and legitimate charities shy away from launching campaigns because of the legal burdens of doing so.</p> <p>That is, all new laws and regulations, in addition to discouraging crowdfunding fraud, ought to encourage generosity.</p> <p>At the same time, lawmakers want to regulate charitable crowdfunding enough to ensure that all or almost all funds raised go the individuals and charities that the donors intend to support. Time will tell whether California and the states that follow its example have struck the right balance.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172029/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lloyd-hitoshi-mayer-1148002" target="_blank">Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer</a>, Professor of Law, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-990" target="_blank">University of Notre Dame</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/convenient-but-susceptible-to-fraud-why-it-makes-sense-to-regulate-charitable-crowdfunding-172029" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Bride faces backlash after insisting friend make her wedding dress for FREE

<p dir="ltr">A frustrated seamstress has turned to the internet for advice after her friend-turned-bridezilla insisted she create her wedding gown free of charge.</p> <p dir="ltr">The seamstress offered to make a dress for approximately $1115, shaving 75% off what she would typically charge a client, because the pair were friends. To the bride, this was insufficient, and she believes her seamstress friend should design and create the gown free of charge as a wedding gift, with the bride only covering the cost of the materials.</p> <p dir="ltr">Posting about the situation on Reddit, the seamstress explained that it’s not unusual for her to feel like a “personal seamstress” for her friends, but that this friend in particular had taken it to the next level. The bride, who is also pregnant, sent her an idea of the style of dress she was looking for: not a simple design, exactly, but also not dreadfully complicated, either.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I told her I could for sure do that for her and it'd cost £600, she was shocked at this and told me she thought I'd do it for free and she'd just pay for materials, I pointed out how many hours this would take me to do and all the hand embroidery needed, then I explained I was doing this for a quarter of the price I'd charge other people because she's my friend.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The bride became very upset at this, telling the seamstress how stressed she’s been due to wedding planning, her pregnancy, and being low on funds. She proceeded to suggest that the seamstress make the dress as a gift, and added that it would look great in her portfolio.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I don't think I'm being unreasonable to want some money for this...but other friends are telling me it's horrible how I'm wanting to charge her for this and it's not like I'm a high end bridal shop,” the seamstress wrote. Asking Reddit for advice, commenters were quick to agree that the bride was the unreasonable person in the situation.</p> <p dir="ltr">A popular comment read, "It takes time to do the work. And you already lowered the price. I don't like how they tried to use their pregnancy to get you to do it for free.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The seamstress went on to reveal that the bride wanted parts of the dress to be embroidered by hand, and that she would struggle to find such a dress for less than what the seamstress was willing to accept. One commenter put it bluntly, writing, "She wants you to do lots of hand embroidery for free? For just the cost of materials, because her money is tight? Hell no.</p> <p dir="ltr">“People short on funds need to moderate their decoration dreams, and if all those friends think otherwise they need to pick up a needle and thread and get embroidering."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Peter Cade</em></p>

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Review: A sustainable bra worth the splurge

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finding a bra that meets our lists of wants and needs - comfort, support, colour and more - is almost always a chore and can come with a high price tag.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And as a regular bra-wearer, having to replace my old, trusty pieces with something new is a task I put off until I absolutely have to.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite my reluctance to wear anything except my trusty (and well-worn) T-shirt bras, I decided to try Bendon’s </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bendonlingerie.com.au/brands/bendon/conscious-simplicity" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Conscious Simplicity</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Contour Bra ($59.95), which is the brand’s first range of recycled lingerie.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their bras are made with recycled foam for the cups, 73 percent recycled nylon fibres for the straps, and 93 percent recycled yarn for the back fabric.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846487/22-7619zphr_bf.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/03dee18eac494960b3c59fc21fee5a48" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The contour bra (pictured) can be paired with a matching boyleg brief, both made from recycled materials. Image: Supplied</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The range - available in contour, underwire, and maternity bras - can be paired with boyleg briefs which all feature botanical-inspired lace made with 50 percent recycled nylon fibres.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After taking it for a test drive - from quick trips to the shops to full 9am-5pm work days - here are some of my thoughts.</span></p> <p>Barely there… save the straps</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Initially, I was concerned I’d picked the wrong size despite checking my measurements, but upon trying it on I found it was a perfect fit. Plus, it felt as if the bra was barely there but still supportive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, I noticed the edging of the straps would dig in each time I put it on, though it becomes less noticeable during longer wears.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m pleased to report that the bra barely showed under some of my more notoriously thin white shirts, which even my beige favourites could sometimes be spotted through, but would still be visible through cotton t-shirts.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846486/bra-review1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/764f93f2f35a4280bc37b04f6a96a7ef" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The contour bra is hard to spot in even my tightest of turtlenecks or white business shirts. The size pictured is an AU/NZ 16C.</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On top of that, an initial play around with the straps meant I wasn’t constantly adjusting them during the day (a common problem among my former-favourites).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, the band did start to make its presence known by the end of some of my longer days, when I would first put it on at 6am and only take it off at around 9-10pm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite this, the Conscious Simplicity Contour Bra has become my new favourite and I am on the cusp of adding more to my wardrobe (though an expansion of colour options would be nice).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In summary, here are some pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking of giving it a try.</span></p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Comfortable and feels supportive even during longer wears</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eco-conscious</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hardy, quality materials that are still comfortable</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Concealed under most whites (despite its colour)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wider range of cup sizes, with a maximum size of 22J</span></li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Slightly uncomfortable edging on the straps that can dig in</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Limited colour options (only pink at the moment)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The cost ($59.95 RRP)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Limited underbust/band sizing, with a maximum size of 22 (102cm)</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Bendon Conscious Simplicity range is available from the Bendon website </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bendonlingerie.com.au/brands/bendon/conscious-simplicity" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p>

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More personal finance tips you were never taught

<p><span>We asked half a dozen personal finance experts money-saving and wealth-creating tips that most people are never taught.</span></p> <p><strong>Get a clear picture of yourself at 80</strong></p> <p><span>Barring tragedy, you will live to a ripe, old age. Aliche recommends naming your 80-year-old image of yourself. “Mine is Wanda. I imagine Wanda sitting on the front steps in her yard. People feel disconnected from their older self. The more you can picture her, the better. I don’t want to see her mopping floors at 80. When I’m making a decision, I think, ‘How will this affect Wanda?’ If I dip into my retirement funds to buy an expensive car, that’s going to hurt Wanda.” If it’s easier, pretend you’re living with your grandfather or grandmother. “You’re not going to tell Granny, ‘You have to go to work. We need the money,’” she says.</span></p> <p><strong>You can never have too much retirement savings</strong></p> <p><span>Says Lynn Toomey, co-founder of Your Retirement Advisor, “Life is good. Retirement is better, if you are prepared.” She points out that retirement is laden with potential costs, such as healthcare, longevity, market volatility and inflation. “Even if you think you’re saving enough and have assets, it still may not be enough. The earlier you start saving and investing, the longer compound interest can work its magic to help you achieve a successful retirement.”</span></p> <p><strong>Don’t blow your tax refund</strong></p> <p><span>“What are you planning on doing with your tax refund?” asks financial advisor Mike Zaino. “If you’re like most people, the world of instant gratification is beckoning. It could be extremely damaging to your retirement account, however, especially given the time value of money and what Albert Einstein called ‘The eighth wonder of the world” – compound interest.”</span></p> <p><strong>Ask current lenders for a better rate</strong></p> <p><span>“Banks, credit unions and other lenders are keenly aware of their competition,” says Diana of MoneyTips.com. “If your credit score qualifies you for a better rate from another credit card issuer or lender, ask them to match the rate. There’s no downside to asking; the worst they could do is refuse.”</span></p> <p><strong>Asking for your credit limit to be raised can improve your credit score</strong></p> <p><span>Keep your credit utilisation – the amount of credit you use compared to your credit limit – low to boost your all-important credit, advises Diana. “You can borrow less, or you can ask for a raise in your credit limit.” A recent study from CreditCards.com found that only 28 per cent of respondents have never asked for an increase in their credit limit. However, a whopping 89 per cent of those who asked for a credit limit increase received one.</span></p> <p><em><span>Written by Jeff Hoyt. This article first appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/14-personal-finance-tips-you-were-never-taught-but-need-to-know" target="_blank">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em><span>Image: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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10 ways New Zealand employers can turn the ‘great resignation’ into a ‘great recruitment’

<p>Internationally, and especially within the US, there has been a lot of talk about the so-called “<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/great-resignation-accelerating/620382/" target="_blank">great resignation</a>” – the trend seeing large numbers of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, having reevaluated their priorities or simply because there are more opportunities than ever before.</p> <p>While there isn’t enough firm data to confirm this is happening in New Zealand yet, there is little doubt a <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/457103/skills-shortages-top-challenge-facing-company-bosses-survey" target="_blank">chronic skills shortage</a> has given workers more bargaining power. Perhaps not surprisingly, <a rel="noopener" href="https://news.aut.ac.nz/news/the-great-resignation,-nz-style" target="_blank">research</a> shows more and more workers are at least thinking about either changing or quitting their jobs since last year.</p> <p>But this phenomenon – defined as “turnover intentions” – could also fuel what we’re calling the “great recruitment”. After all, as physics teaches us, for every action there is a reaction.</p> <p>Calling it the great recruitment is obviously related to the sheer volume of recruitment activity that logically follows a great resignation. But it is also a reference to the related importance of a positive – great – recruitment experience for potential employees.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435205/original/file-20211202-25-bujsov.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption"></span> <em><span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>Not a negative trend</strong></p> <p>Classic supply and demand principles tell us that if more workers are seeking greener employment pastures, there will be more ready-to-hire talent in the marketplace. For that reason alone, we urge organisations not to consider the great resignation a negative trend in the job market.</p> <p>Of course, to be successful the great recruitment must be supported by businesses that prioritise the recruitment process, from candidate care to the vetting and hiring team, to the use of technology and protecting the organisation’s reputation and brand.</p> <p>However, there are many practices that not only undermine but entirely defeat the positive potential of a great recruitment, including:</p> <ul> <li> <p>“<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/02/17/a-new-study-by-indeed-confirms-that-ghosting-during-the-hiring-process-has-hit-crisis-levels/?sh=7bdd556599c4" target="_blank">ghosting</a>”, where candidates apply for a role but get no response or experience a sudden silence part way through the process</p> </li> <li> <p>posting vague or corny job descriptions – “customer services expert” anyone? – that do nothing to excite or provide context for potential applicants</p> </li> <li> <p>relying too heavily on quasi-scientific personality profile tests and asking questions that are at best tokenistic, at worst discriminatory.</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Making recruitment great</strong></p> <p>We also see recruitment processes stumble at the last hurdle by engaging in Game of Thrones-style salary negotiations, where candidates feel like they’re challenging a noble family. This is particularly disadvantages <a rel="noopener" href="https://hbr.org/2020/07/stop-asking-job-candidates-for-their-salary-history" target="_blank">women</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.employeenetworks.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Pou-Matawaka-Final-Report-Ethnic-Pay-Gap-March-2019-for-release-.pdf" target="_blank">ethnic minorities</a>.</p> <p>How then to ensure your organisation is capturing the talent potential released by the great resignation and maximising the employment potential of the great recruitment? Here are our top 10 tips:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Choose your words carefully: write inspiring, authentic job advertisements. If your recruitment team can’t do it, get someone who can.</p> </li> <li> <p>Be realistic: create reasonable candidate specifications – wanting extreme levels of skill, attitude and experience is likely put off good candidates.</p> </li> <li> <p>Canvas others: when designing employee value propositions, get input from recruiters and current employees.</p> </li> <li> <p>Remember glass houses: recognise there is no such thing as perfect behaviour when using behavioural-based interview questions, especially given the organisation itself may be questionable in some of its conduct.</p> </li> <li> <p>Consider the context: give due consideration to reference check results – if a candidate’s last boss says he or she was disconnected in the end, perhaps it’s because they were already in a high state of turnover intention.</p> </li> <li> <p>Go back to the future: be open to hiring past employees. Initiatives such as alumni programmes can be used to connect with and recruit former employees.</p> </li> <li> <p>Know your team: be open to conversations about the attributes and attitudes of the person a successful candidate will be reporting to, and the team they will be working with.</p> </li> <li> <p>Be technology wise: use automated recruitment technology (such as SnapHire, JobAdder or QJumpers) to enhance – not replace – an integrated people-oriented recruitment experience.</p> </li> <li> <p>Provide <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/salary-most-important-part-job-ad.aspx" target="_blank">clear pay ranges</a>: if an applicant knows what the pay is from the outset, it saves everyone valuable time and energy.</p> </li> <li> <p>Be gracious: formally thank all candidates for applying – this can help ensure you retain them as future applicants and/or customers.</p> </li> </ol> <p><strong>Great expectations</strong></p> <p>With more talent in the market, those in recruitment will need to sharpen their games. Given much recruitment activity is outsourced and many recruiters will be booming in the current climate, organisational clients should have great expectations of recruitment professionals, too.</p> <p>Employees face enough challenges in their working lives without having to endure a recruitment experience that is anything less than great.</p> <p>Finally, the great recruitment must also account for future talent. Before we know it, the <a href="https://www.webwise.ie/parents/explainers/explained-what-is-roblox/">Roblox</a> generation will be hitting the workforce, already adept at digital creation and collaboration, and expecting similar things from recruiters.</p> <p>If we get it right, the great recruitment is a chance for employers to recast the great resignation as an opportunity for everyone to do better – now and into the future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172952/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/candice-harris-611631" target="_blank">Candice Harris</a>, Professor of Management, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137" target="_blank">Auckland University of Technology</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jarrod-haar-521652" target="_blank">Jarrod Haar</a>, Professor of Human Resource Management, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137" target="_blank">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/10-ways-new-zealand-employers-can-turn-the-great-resignation-into-a-great-recruitment-172952" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Meet the ‘professional bridesmaid’ who once attended FOUR weddings in one weekend

<p dir="ltr">Kersytn Walsh has made a business out of one of the happiest days of people’s lives - with a twist.</p> <p>Not only does she offer wedding planning, wedding day coordination, and MC services through her company, but she also offers<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.hireabridesmaid.com.au/services" target="_blank">‘bridesmaid for hire’</a><span> </span>services.</p> <p>As a professional bridesmaid, Kerstyn can perform her usual roles of planning, coordinating, or MCing, but can also just be by the bride’s side on the day. On her website, Kersytn explains the role of professional bridesmaids by writing, “We are the friend, the cheerleader, the hand-holder, and support system you need by your side throughout planning and preparing for your wedding! We offer the kind of support you'd expect from your bestie, AND we're not afraid of some heavy lifting!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Their services can cost as much as $9000 a ceremony, and Kerstyn has been a bridesmaid over 150 times since starting her business in 2015 after deciding a career in real estate wasn’t for her.</p> <p dir="ltr">She fell into the role after being made the host at her friend Annie’s wedding, which saw her coordinating many of the vendors and guests on the day. Kerstyn told the<span> </span><em>Daily Mail,<span> </span></em>“I've always loved performing, and I suddenly had an epiphany that I wasn't doing a job I loved.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CLoRva3DPjD/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CLoRva3DPjD/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by HIRE A BRIDESMAID (@hireabridesmaid_)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Soon after, she handed in her notice and established her own business. While she volunteered her services to several friends to kickstart her business, “word spread towards the end of 2015, and it wasn't long before I was attending four weddings in two days and between 30 and 40 a year”.</p> <p dir="ltr">She estimates that she has been a professional bridesmaid at over 150 ceremonies, and she has a closet of more than 70 dresses she has saved from her numerous weddings.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the full bridesmaid package costs around $9000, on-the-day coordination is around $2000. Kerstyn explained that women often hire her to do the running around and coordination on the day so their friends and family can relax and enjoy the day. “Brides often need someone who is willing to do all the jobs - whether it's consult with the vendors or fix the speakers for the DJ. They want their friends and family to be fully present for the wedding, while I can help with chores.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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Schapelle Corby's unique career change

<p>Former convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has turned her creative passion into a new career move. </p> <p>The 44-year-old began making beach-themed epoxy clocks in her spare time, after she taught herself the art in 2020.</p> <p>Each clock she makes takes five days to complete, is made on recycled wood and features her signature, as she sells her creations on Instagram. </p> <p><span>“I’m self taught and through a lot of trial and error I’m happy with where I am creatively with my clocks,” Corby told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/drug-smuggler-schapelle-corbys-bizarre-career-change/news-story/91cdd64b005a180df8bff19806d6943e" target="_blank">Confidential</a>. </span></p> <p><span>“I’m mainly inspired to do beach theme art work. I do all the work by myself, sanding, drilling etc. All of the shells used are collected by myself mainly on the low tide of a full moon. I remember each shell I find and while I’m working on my creations I really feel love for each piece of the process.”</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CO1v3kULRA4/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CO1v3kULRA4/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Schapellecorby (@schapelle.corby)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Schapelle became somewhat of a reality TV star following her release from spending 10 years in Bali's infamous Kerobokan prison.</p> <p>She appeared on the first season of <em>SAS Australia</em>, before also trying her hand at <em>Dancing With The Stars</em>. </p> <p>Now residing in Brisbane, her epoxy clock business takes up most of her time. </p> <p>“Epoxy resin has become more than just a hobby for me. It really occupies most of my thoughts,” she said. “I’m continually thinking of an epoxy problem, and finding solutions fills my dreams also.</p> <p>“I’ve dreamt of certain creations vividly, woke and got to work creating what came to me in a dream. This creative art form has given me so much purpose to my days; I absolutely love this passion of mine.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram @schapelle.corby</em></p>

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“That’s hot”: Aussie mum’s $500 investment becomes a $10 million business

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last year, Aussie brand Custom Neon received a voice message on Instagram from celebrity Paris Hilton, telling the signage brand she loved their products and would be keen to work with them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, co-founder Jess Munday said nothing ever came of it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A year later, the star’s lavish four-day wedding included Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Nicole Richie and custom items from the Geelong-based business.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She asked us to create neon signs for her wedding and it was an awesome opportunity,” Ms Munday told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/small-business/geelongs-custom-neon-finds-fans-in-paris-hilton-and-elon-musk/news-story/808941847d2bd4f0355f3fbf8eec1668" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">news.com.au</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She had her wedding over three or four days I think and day two was a carnival themed party and in the party it had one of our neon signs - the biggest one, which said, ‘That’s hot’.”</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CWPq__GveP5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CWPq__GveP5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Custom Neon® (@customneon)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the mum-of-two said it hasn’t been the brand’s only brush with celebrity fans.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, posted a neon sign with the phrase ‘cyberviking’ on Twitter - a nod to cryptocurrency dogecoin that quickly went viral.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“That tweet went viral and we said that looks like one of our signs and we checked our records and it was created by us,” Ms Munday said. “He got it delivered to a place in California, which is very exciting.”</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">How much is that Doge in the window? <a href="https://t.co/bxTkWOr50V">pic.twitter.com/bxTkWOr50V</a></p> — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) <a href="https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1395328697436033032?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 20, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Initially, Ms Munday started Custom Neon as a side hustle with her husband in 2018, while the couple were expecting their first child.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We were decorating my son’s nursery and my husband wanted to get a neon sign with the baby’s name and we looked around and couldn’t find one that was affordable and the process wasn’t easy to get a custom-made design,” she recalled.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He had seen it on Pinterest and he thought it was cool that you could get your son’s name and at the time having a baby and revealing the name is a big deal, so there was excitement of the baby coming and wanting something cool for the nursery.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The couple then found a supplier to make the sign, as well as a few for their upcoming wedding. Soon, they were renting out their wedding signs via Instagram, and began fielding inquiries for custom pieces from up to 20 businesses and individuals each week.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their $500 investment in their first few signs has since grown into a $10 million business in just three years, with Ms Munday saying the business is on track for a turnover of $18 million by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She said Custom Neon has been a “whirlwind” journey and a far cry from her job in HR prior to taking maternity leave.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">During the last three years, the 32-year-old said there have been some interesting requests for signs, including people asking for pictures of themselves or their pet dogs as neon signs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their signs have also made appearances on </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Block</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, as well as inside a range of restaurants, bars and other businesses around the world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though business from events dried up during the pandemic, Ms Munday said 70 percent of their orders now come from business signage, and that 60 percent of orders come from the US.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s such a huge part now and such a large country so there is much opportunity for growth,” she added.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We are planning to expand further into the US and set up our own manufacturing there in the next year. We also just secured an office in LA and have five people starting.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With such rapid growth already, this small business looks like it will have a bright, neon-lit future.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Images: Jess Munday (Facebook) / @customneon (Instagram)</span></em></p>

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"Brilliant gesture": Secret Santa pays off local toy store lay-bys

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A kind gesture has eased the financial burden of Christmas for shoppers at a Townsville toy shop, in north-eastern Queensland, after a generous stranger paid their lay-by balances.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Natasha Vidler said she was “in disbelief and shock” when she was told over the phone that $170 had been paid off her toy bill at Townsville Toyworld.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I rang my husband and I was pretty much in tears, tears of happiness,” Ms Vidler </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-15/anonymous-secret-santa-pays-toy-store-layby-townsville/100698928" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re forever grateful. This time of year is a bit of a struggle for everybody, not only financially but mentally, emotionally.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the toy store wouldn’t say what the gifts totalled, Ms Vidler said she was one of 20 customers who benefitted from the unknown woman’s kindness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mother-of-two has spent the last two weeks in hospital, and said the contribution would make this year’s Christmas that much more special for her family.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Now the kids are going to have an extra-special Christmas thanks to some total lovely stranger,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another recipient, Mark Jones, had been paying off presents for his children and granddaughter and said he was “blown away” by the gesture.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I thought it was an absolutely brilliant gesture,” Mr Jones said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Townsville truck driver said he was being evicted from his rental crisis amid the city’s housing crisis, so every extra dollar made a difference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s been a bit of a tough year, not just for me but for everybody,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to forecasting from the National Retail Association (NRA), Australians are set to spend a record $20.5 billion in the 10 days leading up to Christmas. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the spending comes at a particularly challenging time for many families, with chief executive of the Queensland Council of Social Services Aimee McVeigh saying that 250,000 children had one or both parents relying on income support.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“These parents are having to choose between paying rent, food, electricity and medical bills, never mind Christmas presents,” Ms McVeigh said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“While the unemployment rate might be lower than it was last year, there are more people than ever in Queensland who are relying on income support payments of just $45 a day.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Queensland alone, NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said people are expected to spend $3.9 billion over the next 10 days.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’ve had our international borders closed, our domestic borders closed, people have been staying home and certainly saving their money,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There seems to be a push for joy after what’s been a really long 18 months.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Waitress SACKED after receiving $6000 tip

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After receiving a hefty tip of $USD 4400 ($AUD 6100), a US waitress has been fired after the restaurant she worked for demanded she share it with the rest of the staff.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ryan Brandt was one of two employees serving a party of more than 40 people at the Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The pair received the tip through a “$100 Dinner Club” organised by Grant Wise, the owner of a local real estate company, where each person dining would contribute a $100 tip ($AUD 139).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wise, who came up with the idea during the COVID-19 pandemic, told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ksn.com/top-stories/arkansas-restaurant-employee-terminated-after-4400-tip/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">KNWA</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that he called the restaurant ahead of their booking to confirm that servers don’t share tips.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He said the gesture was meant to be “an effort to bless the servers who waited on our party that night”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m so sorry to interrupt everyone’s dinner, this will only take 60 seconds,” Wise </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/human-interest/arkansas-waitress-who-was-tipped-4400-is-fired-after-oven-and-tap-restaurant-makes-devastating-demand--c-4924128" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in footage shared on Instagram.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CXRaJzdAsUi/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CXRaJzdAsUi/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Grant Wise (@likegrantwise)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We have a table full of absolutely amazing people from all over the country who have travelled here, and tonight we’re hosting a $US100 Dinner Club.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Everyone at this table has contributed or tipped $US100 for you and for the other waitress who unfortunately had to go home because she’s not feeling well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And then we put it out to our social media channels, and then we actually had a bit more money sent in, so we are tipping a total of $USD 4400 for you to split with the other girl who took care of us.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brandt was visibly in tears after Wise’s announcement.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846309/waitress.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/38d49e243e5746f8926c3ccd39761bed" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @likegrantwise (Instagram)</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, the huge act of kindness quickly went sour.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20 percent,” Brandt explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She said that sharing tips has never happened during the three-and-a-half years she has worked at the restaurant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With plans to use the funds to help pay off her student loans, Brandt said she was “devastated” after being told she would take home a fraction of the total amount.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wise said the intention of his tip wasn’t for it to be shared with those who didn’t serve his party. After asking the restaurant to return the tip, he gave Brandt the cash outside instead.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, Brandt said she was soon fired from her job and placed in a financially precarious situation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It was devastating,” Brandt said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I borrowed a significant amount for student loans. Most of them were turned off because of the pandemic but they’re turning back on in January and that’s a harsh reality.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just a few days later, the Arkansas businessman discovered that Brandt had been fired for “violating” the restaurant’s rules.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m so saddened to hear that the girl we tipped the other night at our $100 Dinner Club has been fired from her job,” Wise later wrote on Instagram.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I don’t understand why this would happen to what seems like such a sweet and kind-hearted woman. Nevertheless, I’m committed to showing her that there are great people in the world that will do good when they can!”</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CXMODf2A2yW/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CXMODf2A2yW/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Grant Wise (@likegrantwise)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wise announced that he had set up a </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/Waitress-Fired-after-100-Dinner-Club?utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet&amp;utm_medium=copy_link&amp;utm_source=customer" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">GoFundMe</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for Brandt, telling followers: “I hope that we can help this girl stay on top, and not let something like this get her down.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just two days after starting the fundraiser, Wise shut it down after it exceeded $USD 8700 ($AUD 12,100) in donations.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Thank you all so much for showing Ryan the love and support you have,” he wrote in an update. “We will be closing down the campaign since we’ve exceeded the goal here.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wise also shared that Brandt had been offered a new job at another local restaurant, and began working there the night before.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: GoFundMe</span></em></p>

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Christmas countdown: How to have a cost-effective Christmas

<p>While Christmas is a time for giving, that needn’t include giving more of your hard-earned cash to your bank in credit card interest! With a bit of careful preparation, you can ensure this Christmas is happy and bright without blowing a major hole in your finances. Consider these tips for a cost-effective Christmas in 2021.</p> <p><strong>Set your budget</strong></p> <p>The easiest way to blow-out your Christmas spending is not having – and sticking to – a budget!</p> <ul> <li>Budget for everything, not just gifts: Food, decorations, wrapping, meals out, cards and stamps… it all adds up.</li> <li>Allocate an amount to spend for each person and add it up. Eye-wateringly high? Then work backwards to find a more suitable amount and be reasonable on who you really need to spend money on.</li> <li>Find extra cash instead of draining your savings or going into debt: allocate loyalty, frequent flyer, and credit card points to buying gifts; sell unwanted household items for extra money; set aside your tax refund.</li> <li>Set aside an amount from every pay. A little money each fortnight/month is easier to save than a huge chunk all at once!</li> </ul> <p><strong>Gifts or getaway?</strong></p> <p>Does your family really <em>need</em> more stuff? Would that money be better spent on a family holiday instead? Consider that:</p> <ul> <li>Memories last longer than toys, clothes, or sweets.</li> <li>Quality family time away after another year of lockdowns could relieve stress and restore family harmony.</li> <li>Government COVID grants and incentives can help offset the costs – like the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/dine-discover-nsw" target="_blank">NSW Dine &amp; Discover vouchers</a>.</li> <li>Christmas is a time for giving – and you’ll be supporting Aussie tourism businesses hard-hit by the pandemic.</li> <li>A cheap family getaway may actually cost <em>less</em> than the big Christmas lunch and loads of gifts!</li> </ul> <p><strong>Plan ahead</strong></p> <p>Leaving things to the last minute is not just stressful but often more expensive too! Be organised and start planning now:</p> <ul> <li>Give yourself time to hunt out discounts for early bird bookings on travel and Christmas lunches or bonus value on gift vouchers.</li> <li>Delivery times blowout in the weeks before Christmas – especially in the COVID era – meaning last-minute purchases may not arrive in time, or you’ll have to spend more for express delivery.</li> <li>Avoid disappointments when items sell out by getting in early.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Expense vs value</strong></p> <p>Expensive gifts aren’t necessarily the most valued. Often it is gifts from the heart, that may cost little or nothing, which we treasure most.</p> <p>Consider whether the following would be more heart-felt than anything bought in stores:</p> <ul> <li>Homemade Christmas treats: cakes and puddings, shortbread, rum balls, other sweets.</li> <li>Homemade jams and chutneys.</li> <li>Handmade gifts; kids’ artwork.</li> <li>Framed photos.</li> <li>Potted cuttings from your garden.</li> </ul> <p>Alternatively, consider gifts that save the recipients money longer term or invest in their future:</p> <ul> <li>Self-education resources on better health, wealth, and wellbeing (such as my book <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://onyourowntwofeet.com.au/" target="_blank">On Your Own Two Feet</a></em>).</li> <li>Classes in fun activities like pottery, life drawing, painting, cooking etc.</li> <li>Subscriptions for deliveries of boutique foods, wine, fresh flowers etc.</li> </ul> <p>In the spirit of giving, why not make a donation to a worthy charity in someone’s name? It’s a kind gesture that benefits people in need and your recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness if it’s a cause close to their heart. Plus, you can <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/income-and-deductions/deductions-you-can-claim/other-deductions/gifts-and-donations/" target="_blank">claim a tax deduction for donations over $2</a>!</p> <p><strong>Be a savvy shopper</strong></p> <p>For the money you do have to spend, make sure you’re spending it <em>wisely</em>:</p> <ul> <li>Shop around: there’s no need to pay full price. Stock up on things when they are (legitimately!) discounted; check out the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales in November; compare online prices with those in-store; ask for discounts for paying in cash (some retailers still do this, especially on larger items).</li> <li>Look out for scams. Especially when buying goods online, make sure you’re buying from a legitimate retailer. Sadly, <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/scam-statistics?scamid=all&amp;date=2020" target="_blank">Aussies lost over $7.3 million to online shopping scams</a> last year alone!</li> <li>Use any loyalty cards you have to accrue points for future savings.</li> <li>Be careful with buy now, pay later services which generally have hefty fees if you miss a repayment.</li> <li>Take advantage of post-Christmas sales. Stock up on Christmas supplies (decorations, bon bons, non-perishable foods, wrapping paper etc.) when shops are desperately trying to clear unsold stock. You’ll get the same things for less money AND you won’t have to buy as much next Christmas!</li> </ul> <p><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of two books: <em>On Your Own Two Feet – Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence</em> and <em>On Your Own Two Feet Divorce – Your Survive and Thrive Financial Guide</em>. <em>Proceeds from the books’ sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. </em>Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Find out more at </strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au" target="_blank"><strong>www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</strong></a></p> <p><strong><em>Note any advice or information in this article is of a general nature only and has not taken into account your personal objectives, financial situation, and needs. Because of that, before acting on the advice, you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation, and needs. Opinions constitute judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change.</em></strong></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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