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Sad update after young Taylor Swift fan dies on way to concert

<p>The tragic incident involving the Pokarier family, en route from Queensland to attend Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert in Melbourne, has garnered widespread attention and elicited an outpouring of sympathy from communities far and wide.</p> <p>The devastating collision between their SUV and a semi-trailer near Dubbo, NSW, resulted in the tragic loss of 16-year-old Mieka Pokarier's life, while her 10-year-old sister Freya remains in critical condition in a Sydney hospital.</p> <p>The girls' godmother, Karleigh Fox, has provided updates on Freya's condition, the severity of her injuries and the uncertain road ahead. Freya's delicate state, including brain injuries and other trauma, necessitates her being kept in an induced coma, a measure aimed at reducing further complications and providing her body with an opportunity to heal.</p> <p>Fox, who organised a <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/swifties-killed-critical-on-road-trip-to-concert" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GoFundMe</a> appeal for the devastated family, which has already raised over $60,000, says Freya is “not out of the woods yet”. </p> <p>“We had some thorough chats with the incredible doctors about the potential prognosis and we are not out of the woods yet with risks of swelling in the brain and infection still evident. This could still be life threatening.</p> <p>“We are keeping our girl in an induced coma for a few more days in order to give her body a chance to stay still and hopefully recover as much as possible.”</p> <p>Mieka, remembered fondly as a bright and creative individual, had long harboured a passion for Taylor Swift's music and was eagerly anticipating her first live concert experience. Her untimely passing has left a profound void in the lives of those who knew her, with friends and family expressing their grief and sharing memories of her warmth, humour and kindness. The hashtag #forever16 has become a poignant tribute to her memory, encapsulating the sense of loss felt by those who knew her.</p> <p>In the wake of Mieka's tragic death, her friends have found solace in commemorating her life through Taylor Swift-themed friendship bracelets. </p> <p>As the Pokarier family navigates this unimaginable tragedy, they have been enveloped in a wave of support from their community, who stand united in offering comfort and assistance during this difficult time. </p> <p><em>Images: GoFundMe / Instagram</em></p>

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Why prices are so high – 8 ways retail pricing algorithms gouge consumers

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-tuffley-13731">David Tuffley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p>The just-released report of the inquiry into <a href="https://pricegouginginquiry.actu.org.au/">price gouging and unfair pricing</a> conducted by Allan Fels for the Australian Council of Trades Unions does more than identify the likely offenders.</p> <p>It finds the biggest are supermarkets, banks, airlines and electricity companies.</p> <p>It’s not enough to know their tricks. Fels wants to give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission more power to investigate and more power to prohibit mergers.</p> <p>But it helps to know how they try to trick us, and how technology has enabled them to get better at it. After reading the report, I’ve identified eight key maneuvers.</p> <h2>1. Asymmetric price movements</h2> <p>Otherwise known as <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/25593733">Rocket and Feather</a>, this is where businesses push up prices quickly when costs rise, but cut them slowly or late after costs fall.</p> <p>It seems to happen for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140988323002074">petrol</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S105905601730240X">mortgage rates</a>, and the Fels inquiry was presented with evidence suggesting it happens in supermarkets.</p> <p>Brendan O’Keeffe from NSW Farmers told the inquiry wholesale lamb prices had been falling for six months before six Woolworths announced a cut in the prices of lamb it was selling as a “<a href="https://pricegouginginquiry.actu.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/InquiryIntoPriceGouging_Report_web.pdf">Christmas gift</a>”.</p> <h2>2. Punishment for loyal customers</h2> <p>A <a href="https://theconversation.com/simple-fixes-could-help-save-australian-consumers-from-up-to-3-6-billion-in-loyalty-taxes-119978">loyalty tax</a> is what happens when a business imposes higher charges on customers who have been with it for a long time, on the assumption that they won’t move.</p> <p>The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has alleged a big <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-qantas-might-have-done-all-australians-a-favour-by-making-refunds-so-hard-to-get-213346">insurer</a> does it, setting premiums not only on the basis of risk, but also on the basis of what a computer model tells them about the likelihood of each customer tolerating a price hike. The insurer disputes the claim.</p> <p>It’s often done by offering discounts or new products to new customers and leaving existing customers on old or discontinued products.</p> <p>It happens a lot in the <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/utilities-loyalty-costing-australians-billions-2024">electricity industry</a>. The plans look good at first, and then less good as providers bank on customers not making the effort to shop around.</p> <p>Loyalty taxes appear to be less common among mobile phone providers. Australian laws make it easy to switch <a href="https://www.reviews.org/au/mobile/how-to-switch-mobile-carriers-and-keep-your-number/">and keep your number</a>.</p> <h2>3. Loyalty schemes that provide little value</h2> <p>Fels says loyalty schemes can be a “low-cost means of retaining and exploiting consumers by providing them with low-value rewards of dubious benefit”.</p> <p>Their purpose is to lock in (or at least bias) customers to choices already made.</p> <p>Examples include airline frequent flyer points, cafe cards that give you your tenth coffee free, and supermarket points programs. The purpose is to lock in (or at least bias) consumers to products already chosen.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/advertising-and-promotions/customer-loyalty-schemes">Australian Competition and Consumer Commission</a> has found many require users to spend a lot of money or time to earn enough points for a reward.</p> <p>Others allow points to expire or rules to change without notice or offer rewards that are not worth the effort to redeem.</p> <p>They also enable businesses to collect data on spending habits, preferences, locations, and personal information that can be used to construct customer profiles that allow them to target advertising and offers and high prices to some customers and not others.</p> <h2>4. Drip pricing that hides true costs</h2> <p>The Competition and Consumer Commission describes <a href="https://pricegouginginquiry.actu.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/InquiryIntoPriceGouging_Report_web.pdf">drip pricing</a> as “when a price is advertised at the beginning of an online purchase, but then extra fees and charges (such as booking and service fees) are gradually added during the purchase process”.</p> <p>The extras can add up quickly and make final bills much higher than expected.</p> <p>Airlines are among the best-known users of the strategy. They often offer initially attractive base fares, but then add charges for baggage, seat selection, in-flight meals and other extras.</p> <h2>5. Confusion pricing</h2> <p>Related to drip pricing is <a href="https://www.x-mol.net/paper/article/1402386414932836352">confusion pricing</a> where a provider offers a range of plans, discounts and fees so complex they are overwhelming.</p> <p>Financial products like insurance have convoluted fee structures, as do electricity providers. Supermarkets do it by bombarding shoppers with “specials” and “sales”.</p> <p>When prices change frequently and without notice, it adds to the confusion.</p> <h2>6. Algorithmic pricing</h2> <p><a href="https://pricegouginginquiry.actu.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/InquiryIntoPriceGouging_Report_web.pdf">Algorithmic pricing</a> is the practice of using algorithms to set prices automatically taking into account competitor responses, which is something akin to computers talking to each other.</p> <p>When computers get together in this way they can <a href="https://www.x-mol.net/paper/article/1402386414932836352">act as it they are colluding</a> even if the humans involved in running the businesses never talk to each other.</p> <p>It can act even more this way when multiple competitors use the same third-party pricing algorithm, effectively allowing a single company to influence prices.</p> <h2>7. Price discrimination</h2> <p>Price discrimination involves charging different customers different prices for the same product, setting each price in accordance with how much each customer is prepared to pay.</p> <p>Banks do it when they offer better rates to customers likely to leave them, electricity companies do it when they offer better prices for business customers than households, and medical specialists do it when they offer vastly different prices for the same service to consumers with different incomes.</p> <p>It is made easier by digital technology and data collection. While it can make prices lower for some customers, it can make prices much more expensive to customers in a hurry or in urgent need of something.</p> <h2>8. Excuse-flation</h2> <p><a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-09/how-excuseflation-is-keeping-prices-and-corporate-profits-high">Excuse-flation</a> is where general inflation provides “cover” for businesses to raise prices without justification, blaming nothing other than general inflation.</p> <p>It means that in times of general high inflation businesses can increase their prices even if their costs haven’t increased by as much.</p> <p>On Thursday Reserve Bank Governor <a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/inflation-is-cover-for-pricing-gouging-rba-boss-says-20240215-p5f58d">Michele Bullock</a> seemed to confirm that she though some firms were doing this saying that when inflation had been brought back to the Bank’s target, it would be "much more difficult, I think, for firms to use high inflation as cover for this sort of putting up their prices."</p> <h2>A political solution is needed</h2> <p>Ultimately, our own vigilance won’t be enough. We will need political help. The government’s recently announced <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/review/competition-review-2023">competition review</a> might be a step in this direction.</p> <p>The legislative changes should police business practices and prioritise fairness. Only then can we create a marketplace where ethics and competition align, ensuring both business prosperity and consumer wellbeing.</p> <p>This isn’t just about economics, it’s about building a fairer, more sustainable Australia.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223310/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-tuffley-13731"><em>David Tuffley</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Applied Ethics &amp; CyberSecurity, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>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/why-prices-are-so-high-8-ways-retail-pricing-algorithms-gouge-consumers-223310">original article</a>.</em></p>

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The easy way Aussie airfares could be halved in the future

<p>A federal taskforce has found that there is a way for Aussies to pay half the amount on airfares, and that is by simply introducing some competition. </p> <p>Early results from their research found that the "mere threat" of rivalry can be enough to lower airfares. </p> <p>Just last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) <a href="https://www.smartcompany.com.au/industries/tourism/accc-blames-qantas-and-virgin-australia-duopoly-for-high-flight-prices-and-poor-service/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that the duopoly between Qantas and Virgin Australia was a key contributor to the "high prices and underwhelming customer service." </p> <p>The early findings of the Competition Taskforce, which was set up last year, found that having flights serviced by three carriers instead of one can significantly reduce the cost. </p> <p>When serviced by a sole carrier, airfares average 39.6 cents per kilometre - this drops to 28.2 cents a kilometre with a second rival, and to 19.2 cents a kilometre with a third. </p> <p>Assistant Minister for Competition Andrew Leigh said that competition  exerted "significant" downward pressure on airfares.</p> <p>He added that a lack of competition in the aviation industry was problematic for a country that relies heavily on flying to connect cities to reach other parts of the world. </p> <p>"For a resident of Darwin, it is often cheaper to fly from Darwin to Singapore than it is to fly from Darwin to Sydney, even although the international flight is longer than the domestic one,"  he said. </p> <p>Leigh added that more than a dozen airlines operated in Australia before World War Two, but from the 1950s to the 1980s, a duopoly prevailed which kept prices high. </p> <p>"Only with the deregulation of aviation in the late 1980s did flying become affordable for many middle-class families and small businesspeople," he said. </p> <p>"Australia's aviation history shows the value of competition."</p> <p>Just last year the aviation sector came under fire after the government's decided to block Qatar Airway's from running additional flights in Australia, with accusations that the move was made to protect Qantas from competition.</p> <p>The federal government has since issued a review of the  sector - including its competitiveness - and a white paper is expected to be released mid-year. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

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"Gone way too soon”: Neighbours star dead at 48

<p><em>Neighbours </em>star Troy Beckwith, who immortalised the infamous villain Michael Martin, has passed away at the age of 48.</p> <p>The news was confirmed by his former co-star, Kym Valentine, leaving the <em>Neighbours</em> community and fans around the world mourning the loss of a talented actor and cherished friend.</p> <p>Valentine took to social media to share the heartbreaking news, saying, “It pains me so much to have to say this. Our dear old friend Troy Beckwith has passed away.” The void left by his departure is felt deeply by those who knew him, with Valentine expressing sorrow over the untimely loss of another member of their TV family.</p> <p>“Another member of our TV family gone way too soon. There will be no funeral as per Troy’s request. Thanks for all the memories my cheeky mate and all my love to your friends and family.”</p> <p>Troy's character, "Sicko Micko", became an iconic figure in the world of <em>Neighbours</em> during his run from 1992 to 1998. Ausculture even likened him to "the Charles Manson of Ramsay Street" because of the profound impact he had on fans and the show's legacy. His portrayal of Michael Martin earned him a special place in the hearts of viewers, and he remains a fixture in lists ranking the best <em>Neighbours </em>characters of the 1990s.</p> <p>As the news spread, tributes poured in from fellow cast members and friends. Brett Stark actor Brett Blewitt, currently part of the <em>Neighbours</em> revival, shared his thoughts, describing Troy as a "lovely person" who was "deeply thoughtful and empathetic". The pain of the loss is palpable in Blewitt's words, echoing the sentiments of many who had the privilege of knowing Troy.</p> <p>Even as the <em>Neighbours</em> family grapples with the shock, Lucinda Cowden, who plays Melanie Pearson, expressed her sorrow through a series of broken heart emojis. The collective grief is evident, as the cast and crew mourn the departure of a talent gone too soon.</p> <p>Troy's friend Selina Laine Bonica reflected on the complexity of their relationship, saying, “Troy, you were a pain in my a**, but I loved you dearly. I’m just glad you’re free from pain.”</p> <p>Beckwith's impact extended beyond <em>Neighbours</em>, as evidenced by his role in the series <em>Pugwall</em>. Ricky Fleming, his co-star, paid tribute by remembering the mischievous adventures they shared, saying, “May you be in peace and still be the infectious joy of those who are in your presence now.”</p> <p>The absence of a cause of death only deepens the sense of loss, leaving fans to remember a talent that graced their screens and a person who touched the hearts of many. </p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

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7 ways you’re shortening the lifespan of your refrigerator

<p><strong>How you may be shortening the lifespan of a refrigerator</strong></p> <p>Refrigerators are a necessity in the home, but they cost a pretty penny. They can range in price from $700 to thousands of dollars, depending on which refrigerator brand you buy and which bells and whistles you want. Since it takes a good chunk of change to pay for this appliance, it makes sense to take great care of it so it lasts as long as possible. The typical lifespan of a refrigerator is 10 to 15 years, but it could last up to 20 years if you take superb care of it.</p> <p>Knowing how you may be shortening the life of your fridge helps you nip bad habits in the bud and make those well-spent dollars go the extra mile. That’s why we’ve rounded up the ways you may be knocking valuable time off your fridge’s life – read on and take note! Then, brush up on the signs your refrigerator is about to die and what your refrigerator temperature should be – both important things to know for fridge upkeep.</p> <p><strong>You’re not cleaning the internal mechanics</strong></p> <p>“If the defrost drain is clogged with debris, or frozen, the water dripping off the coils will overflow the drain trough and drip into the bottom of your refrigerator,” experts at the Repair Clinic told Reader’s Digest. Not only can this overwork your fridge, leading to a shorter lifespan, but it potentially causes your fridge/freezer to leak water all over your kitchen floor.</p> <p>Leaking water is a sign you should get any appliance looked at – it’s also a symptom of some of the ways you’re shortening the life of your washer and dryer.</p> <p><strong>You’re not cleaning the fridge itself</strong></p> <p>Additionally, debris, foodstuff, sticky spills and more common food mishaps that stay on the gasket of the refrigerator’s door too long can tear or break the seal of your refrigerator door. That can cause a leak, allowing cold air to escape. This makes learning how to clean your refrigerator properly all the more important (psst – these are the best fridge cleaners that’ll get the job done).</p> <p>To keep your fridge in tip-top shape as long as possible, wipe down the door edges often. And while you’re wiping down your fridge, see if you’ve organised your refrigerator the right way to keep ingredients fresh and avoid food poisoning.</p> <p><strong>You’re not cleaning the coils</strong></p> <p>More than 70 per cent of service calls for your fridge can be eliminated by cleaning your coils once a year – so experts recommend upping that to twice a year if you have furry pets (like an adorable but extra-fluffy pup).</p> <p>Debris on the coils can stop your fridge from properly dissipating heat, which means your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to. That makes your fridge use more energy and shortens its lifespan.</p> <p><strong>It's too full </strong></p> <p>We’ve all played a few games of Tetris with our refrigerator after we get home with the groceries, but be careful when stocking up and storing. While this isn’t a huge problem with newer models, some older models have fan blades that are less protected. You may even be able to see the fan blades in your freezer or fridge.</p> <p>Cramming your food into the fridge and freezer to the point of applying undue pressure on this small part can affect its shape and fit among related parts of your fridge, risking a break. Ineffective fridges are overworked fridges, which will eventually lead to a refrigerator that doesn’t work. To avoid overfilling your fridge, do a deep clean of the contents of your fridge every once in a while and eliminate clutter.</p> <p><strong>You’re not changing the water filter often enough</strong></p> <p>If you have the type of fridge that makes ice – with the dispenser either within the freezer or on your door – the water filter is key to keeping this part of your refrigerator in great condition. An old, broken or dislodged water filter can create all kinds of problems for your fridge. At best, your ice dispenser breaks. At worst, your fridge overworks itself to an early death and you’re stuck footing the bill for a new one.</p> <p>Luckily, CNET reports that you likely can detect this problem early, as your ice cubes will start coming out smaller, oddly shaped or not at all. Keep this in mind next time you’re filling up your water bottle.</p> <p><strong>Your freezer temperature is too high</strong></p> <p>“Ideally, the temperature should be set -18 degrees Celsius,” said experts at Repair Clinic. The wrong freezer temperature can affect the longevity of your ice maker, as well as the safety of the food you’ll be eating.</p> <p>A temperature higher than -9 degrees Celsius can also cause the defrost thermostat to stop working, which, in turn, overworks your refrigerator and shortens its life.</p> <p><strong>You ignore weird noises or constant running</strong></p> <p>If you notice that your fridge is always running, or is running louder than usual, do something about it right away. Some fixes are easy enough that you can do them yourself, or they’re inexpensive for a professional, but even if that’s not the case, allowing a fridge to work itself harder than it is intended to is a good way to put an early expiration date on it. Depending on the age of your fridge, you may want to decide not to fix it and invest in a new, more energy- and cost-efficient option.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/7-ways-youre-shortening-the-lifespan-of-your-refrigerator" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p> <div class="slide-image" style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 16px; font-style: inherit; box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"> </div>

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Could you cope with a shock to your bank balance? 5 ways to check you are financially resilient

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577">Bomikazi Zeka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865"><em>University of Canberra</em></a></em></p> <p>Imagine the dentist has just said you urgently need a A$2,000 dental crown. A week later, a pipe in your bathroom bursts, causing $8,000 worth of damage. Suddenly, you’ve been hit with a $10,000 financial shock.</p> <p>As the cost-of-living crisis plunges more households into financial uncertainty and at least <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/data/taking-the-pulse-of-the-nation-2022/2023/australians-face-challenging-budgetary-constraints#:%7E:text=Over%20the%20past%20six%20months,has%20increased%20to%2060%20percent.">one-third</a> of Australians struggle to make ends meet, it’s more important than ever to ask yourself: how financially resilient am I?</p> <p>Being financially resilient means you aren’t left financially devastated when an expensive emergency creeps up on you. Here are five key signs of financial resilience.</p> <h2>1. You have a plan for what you’d do if you suddenly lost your salary</h2> <p>Financial resilience means having a plan to fall back on during tough times. This extends to how you’d make money if you lost your job.</p> <p>In practice, that means things like making sure your skills and contacts are kept up to date so you can more easily find a new job. You might also consider whether a “side hustle” job such as tutoring could work for you in the short term, and how you’d put that plan into practice if needed. Perhaps you have a spare room in your home you could rent out for a period of time if you lost your salary.</p> <p>Those examples won’t work for everyone, of course, but it’s still worth asking yourself the question: what would I do if I lost my salary tomorrow?</p> <h2>2. You have enough liquid assets to meet an unexpected financial expense</h2> <p>Liquid assets means money that can be accessed quickly and easily to overcome an unplanned financial expense. Savings are a good example. They provide a buffer so you can cope in the short term if a financial shock strikes. The federal government’s Moneysmart website suggests you aim to have enough in your emergency savings fund to cover <a href="https://moneysmart.gov.au/saving/save-for-an-emergency-fund">three months of expenses</a>.</p> <p>Having an <a href="https://moneysmart.gov.au/glossary/offset-account">offset account</a> as part of a mortgage is another option that provides a buffer. Putting money in an offset account helps you save while reducing the amount of interest on a home loan. You can still access the money in an offset account at any time.</p> <h2>3. You have bought the right financial products, such as insurance</h2> <p>Financial products, such as insurance, hedge against potential losses.</p> <p>Personal insurance is important because it provides income in the event of death, illness or injury. Examples include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>life insurance (which pays out to your beneficiaries, such as your partner or children, when you die)</p> </li> <li> <p>total and permanent disability insurance (which means you may get some money if you acquire a disability that prevents you from working)</p> </li> <li> <p>income protection (which provides you with an income if you can no longer work)</p> </li> <li> <p>trauma cover (which covers a life-changing illness or injury, such as cancer or a stroke).</p> </li> </ul> <p>Check if your superannuation has any of these insurances included in it. <a href="https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/295770/FPRJ-V4-ISS1-pp-53-75-insurance-literacy-in-australia.pdf">Research</a> has found that many Australians are underinsured.</p> <h2>4. You can still pay your debts when times are tough</h2> <p>Being able to borrow money can help when you’re in a tight spot. But knowing where to borrow from, how much to borrow and how to manage debt repayments is crucial.</p> <p>Financially resilient people use debt responsibly. That means:</p> <ul> <li> <p>not using debt for frivolous expenses like after-work drinks</p> </li> <li> <p>staying away from private money lenders</p> </li> <li> <p>being cautious about buy-now-pay-later services</p> </li> <li> <p>watching out for debts with high interest rates, such as payday loans and credit card debt</p> </li> <li> <p>maintaining debt repayments consistently.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you’re having debt problems, talk to your lender about renegotiating your repayment arrangements, or contact the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> on 1800 007 007.</p> <h2>5. You are financially literate</h2> <p>Being financially literate means you can assess the benefits and risks of using savings or taking out debt to meet an unplanned financial need.</p> <p>As I have <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-financially-literate-here-are-7-signs-youre-on-the-right-track-202331">written</a> before on The Conversation, key signs of financial literacy include tracking your cashflow, building a budget, as well as understanding what debts you have and which to pay first.</p> <p>It also means storing your money across different places (such as superannuation, savings accounts, property and the share market) and understanding how financial assets like cash, shares and bonds work.</p> <p>Being aware of your financial strengths and weaknesses, and having financial goals is also important.</p> <p>Nobody is born knowing how to make sound financial decisions; it’s a skill that must be learned.</p> <p>It’s good to think about the resources you would draw upon to help get yourself out of a difficult financial situation – well before disaster strikes.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218126/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577"><em>Bomikazi Zeka</em></a><em>, Assistant Professor in Finance and Financial Planning, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>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/could-you-cope-with-a-shock-to-your-bank-balance-5-ways-to-check-you-are-financially-resilient-218126">original article</a>.</em></p>

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The cost-of-living crisis is hitting hard. Here are 3 ways to soften the blow

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ama-samarasinghe-1386754">Ama Samarasinghe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>As our wallets feel the strain from the cost-of-living crisis, many of us are looking for ways to soften the blow.</p> <p>While everyone’s circumstances are different, and ideally you should seek help from an accredited financial adviser, there are some tried and true ways to work out where all your money is going and why.</p> <p>Here are three practical tips to reduce the impact of the cost-of-living increases, and stretch every hard-earned dollar.</p> <h2>1. Hunt for a better loan rate</h2> <p>For many households, the biggest hit comes from the mortgage, so start there.</p> <p>Even a modest 0.5% reduction can translate into substantial savings. Call your bank today and just ask for rate reduction. If the answer is no, consider shopping around for a different lender.</p> <p>Your loyalty to your current lender might be costing you more than you realise. Banks often reserve their most attractive rates for new customers, leaving long-time customers paying higher-than-necessary interest.</p> <p>Even if your bank does agree to a rate reduction, explore the market anyway. There is a range of free rate-comparison websites, or you can directly check individual bank websites.</p> <p>If you find a lender offering a better rate, you might consider calling the competing bank to ask about switching your mortgage to them.</p> <p>Or, you might seek assistance from a mortgage broker, who can guide you through the process of securing a better deal (just remember they often take <a href="https://www.canstar.com.au/home-loans/mortgage-brokers-fees/">commissions</a> from lenders).</p> <p>Tread carefully and factor in any exit fees or charges from your current lender. Refinancing isn’t without risk, so a thorough cost-benefit analysis is important before making the switch.</p> <p>Also consider the value of features such as <a href="https://moneysmart.gov.au/glossary/offset-account">offset accounts</a>. An offset account, linked to your home loan, allows you to deposit money such as your salary and savings. This money is then “<a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2015/aug/box-e-offset-account-balances-and-housing-credit.html">offset</a>” against your home loan balance.</p> <p>That means you only pay interest on the outstanding amount (the loan minus whatever salary and savings you put in the offset). This can accelerate loan repayment and reduce interest costs.</p> <p>Keep in mind that offset accounts are typically only available with variable interest rates. Offset accounts work best if you have considerable savings to put into the offset account that outweigh the additional fees and charges attached to offset accounts.</p> <h2>2. Trim your expenses and uncover hidden savings</h2> <p>It’s time to become a budget detective, identifying and cutting down on non-essential costs that might be quietly draining your wallet.</p> <p>Take a close look at those recurring memberships and subscriptions. How often do you actually use that gym membership or streaming service?</p> <p>Many banking apps have handy spending tracking features to help you set realistic budget goals for each spending category.</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/selected-living-cost-indexes-australia/latest-release">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a>, insurance and financial services are among the top risers in living cost indexes (which measure the price change of goods and services and its effect on living expenses). So search comparison websites for better insurance premiums.</p> <p>Australia’s insurance market is competitive, and you can often get discounts by bundling your insurances together (for example, having your home and contents insurance with the same company that also provides your car insurance). However, don’t shy away from exploring different insurers for potentially better value.</p> <p>Don’t overlook energy costs, either. Use comparison websites like <a href="https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/">Energy Made Easy</a> (or, if you’re in Victoria, the <a href="https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au/">Victorian Energy Compare</a> site) to find more cost-effective energy plans. Stay updated on rebates and concessions via the federal government’s <a href="https://energy.gov.au">Energy.gov.au</a> site, to ensure you’re maximising your entitlements.</p> <p>Use less energy, if you can. Small adjustments can make a significant dent in your bills. And for fuel costs, find websites and applications that allow you to lock in the lowest prices in your area.</p> <p>If you’re renting, ask yourself whether moving to a cheaper suburb or a cheaper home is an option.</p> <p>Many people use cashback sites like Cashrewards and ShopBack to accrue cashback incentives.</p> <h2>3. Maximise returns and tackle high-interest debts</h2> <p>While rising interest rates might make your mortgage climb, it also means high interest on your savings.</p> <p>Consider exploring high-yield savings accounts; with current interest rates, you could potentially earn around 5.5% with a bank savings account. Many people set up recurring transfers to help them stick to savings goals, increase deposits and maximise interest earnings.</p> <p>For those wrestling with high-interest debts such as credit cards or personal loans, prioritise settling outstanding balances to minimise interest payments. It can be hard to escape the long-term repercussions (such as a <a href="https://theconversation.com/payday-lending-trap-requires-a-credit-supply-rethink-39311">poor credit score</a>) of defaulting on <a href="https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2022/09/21/researchers-uncover--pecking-order-of-defaults--as-belts-tighten.html">high-interest loans</a>.</p> <p>And approach buy-now, pay-later services with extreme caution. They may seem tempting but the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acfi.13100">debts can quickly add up</a>.</p> <p>And if you need more help, contact the government’s free National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218118/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ama-samarasinghe-1386754"><em>Ama Samarasinghe</em></a><em>, Lecturer, Financial Planning and Tax, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>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/the-cost-of-living-crisis-is-hitting-hard-here-are-3-ways-to-soften-the-blow-218118">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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5 ways to avoid weight gain and save money on food this Christmas

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>As Christmas approaches, so does the challenge of healthy eating and maintaining weight-related goals. The season’s many social gatherings can easily tempt us to indulge in calorie-rich food and celebratory drinks. It’s why we typically <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012">gain weight</a> over Christmas and then struggle to take it off for the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938414001528">remainder of the year</a>.</p> <p>Christmas 2023 is also exacerbating cost-of-living pressures, prompting some to rethink their food choices. Throughout the year, <a href="https://dvh1deh6tagwk.cloudfront.net/finder-au/wp-uploads/2023/03/Cost-of-Living-Report-2023.pdf">71% of Australians</a> – or 14.2 million people – <a href="https://retailworldmagazine.com.au/rising-cost-of-living-forces-aussies-to-change-diets/">adapted</a> their eating behaviour in response to rising costs.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are some simple, science-backed hacks for the festive season to help you celebrate with the food traditions you love without impacting your healthy eating habits, weight, or hip pocket.</p> <h2>1. Fill up on healthy pre-party snacks before heading out</h2> <p>If your festive season is filled with end-of-year parties likely to tempt you to fill up on finger foods and meals high in fat, salt, and sugar and low in nutritional value, have a healthy pre-event snack before you head out.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015032/#sec-a.g.atitle">Research</a> shows carefully selected snack foods can impact satiety (feelings of fullness after eating), potentially reducing the calories you eat later. High-protein, high-fibre snack foods have the strongest effect: because they take longer to digest, our hunger is satisfied for longer.</p> <p>So enjoy a handful of nuts, a tub of yoghurt, or a serving of hummus with veggie sticks before you head out to help keep your healthy eating plan on track.</p> <h2>2. Skip the low-carb drinks and enjoy your favourites in moderation</h2> <p>Despite the marketing promises, low-carb alcoholic drinks <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.531">aren’t better for our health or waistlines</a>.</p> <p>Many low-carb options have a similar amount of carbohydrates as regular options but lull us into thinking they’re better, so we drink more. A <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/K-013_Low-carb-beer_FactSheet_FINAL.pdf">survey</a> found 15% of low-carb beer drinkers drank more beer than they usually would because they believed it was healthier for them.</p> <p>A typical lager or ale will contain less than 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml while the “lower-carb” variety can range anywhere from 0.5 grams to 2.0 grams. The calories in drinks come from the alcohol itself, not the carbohydrate content.</p> <p>Next time you go to order, think about the quantity of alcohol you’re drinking rather than the carbs. Make sure you sip lots of water in between drinks to stay hydrated, too.</p> <h2>3. Don’t skimp on healthy food for Christmas Day – it’s actually cheaper</h2> <p>There’s a perception that healthy eating is more expensive. But studies show this is a misconception. A <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/swh-study-finds-eating-a-healthier-diet-is-actually-cheaper-at-the-checkout/#:%7E:text=A%20recent%20study%20from%20the,does%20not%20meet%20the%20guidelines">recent analysis</a> in Victoria, for example, found following the Australian Dietary Guidelines cost the average family A$156 less a fortnight than the cost of the average diet, which incorporates packaged processed foods and alcohol.</p> <p>So when you’re planning your Christmas Day meal, give the pre-prepared, processed food a miss and swap in healthier ingredients:</p> <ul> <li> <p>swap the heavy, salted ham for leaner and lighter meats such as fresh seafood. Some seafood, such as prawns, is also tipped to be cheaper this year thanks to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/goodfood/lobsters-up-prawns-stable-a-buying-guide-to-seafood-this-christmas-20231208-p5eq3m.html">favourable weather conditions</a> boosting local supplies</p> </li> <li> <p>for side dishes, opt for fresh salads incorporating seasonal ingredients such as mango, watermelon, peach, cucumber and tomatoes. This will save you money and ensure you’re eating foods when they’re freshest and most flavoursome</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>if you’re roasting veggies, use healthier cooking oils like olive as opposed to vegetable oil, and use flavourful herbs instead of salt</p> </li> <li> <p>if there’s an out-of-season vegetable you want to include, look for frozen and canned substitutes. They’re cheaper, and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157517300418">just as nutritious</a> and tasty because the produce is usually frozen or canned at its best. Watch the sodium content of canned foods, though, and give them a quick rinse to remove any salty water</p> </li> <li> <p>give store-bought sauces and dressings a miss, making your own from scratch using fresh ingredients.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>4. Plan your Christmas food shop with military precision</h2> <p>Before heading to the supermarket to shop for your Christmas Day meal, create a detailed meal plan and shopping list, and don’t forget to check your pantry and fridge for things you already have.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586574/">Eating beforehand</a> and shopping with a plan in hand means you’ll only buy what you need and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206473/">avoid impulse purchasing</a>.</p> <p>When you’re shopping, price check everything. Comparing the cost per 100 grams is the most effective way to save money and get the best value. Check prices on products sold in different ways and places, too, such as nuts you scoop yourself versus prepacked options.</p> <h2>5. Don’t skip breakfast on Christmas Day</h2> <p>We’ve all been tempted to skip or have a small breakfast on Christmas morning to “save” the calories for later. But this plan will fail when you sit down at lunch hungry and find yourself eating far more calories than you’d “saved” for.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32073608/">Research</a> shows a low-calorie or small breakfast leads to increased feelings of hunger, specifically appetite for sweets, across the course of the day.</p> <p>What you eat for breakfast on Christmas morning is just as important too – choosing the right foods will <a href="https://theconversation.com/im-trying-to-lose-weight-and-eat-healthily-why-do-i-feel-so-hungry-all-the-time-what-can-i-do-about-it-215808">help you manage your appetite</a> and avoid the temptation to overindulge later in the day.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24703415/">Studies</a> show a breakfast containing protein-rich foods, such as eggs, will leave us feeling fuller for longer.</p> <p>So before you head out to the Christmas lunch, have a large, nutritionally balanced breakfast, such as eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em> <!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219114/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993"><em>Nick Fuller</em></a><em>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>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/5-ways-to-avoid-weight-gain-and-save-money-on-food-this-christmas-219114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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5 ways to make Christmas lunch more ethical this year

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>What we eat matters - not just for our health, but for the planet and other living things too.</p> <p>Most of us know meat consumption <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00358-x.epdf">contributes to global warming</a> and many of us are aware of animal cruelty and human exploitation in global food supply chains.</p> <p>So what are some ways we can use our “fork power” to make our Christmas lunch more ethical this year?</p> <h2>1. Replace your turkey or ham with a vegetarian dish</h2> <p>Vegetarian options are not boring or tasteless — just look at this <a href="https://annajones.co.uk/recipe/squash-chestnut-roast">festive squash and chestnut roast</a>.</p> <p>A plant-focused diet has strong <a href="https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/the-planetary-health-diet-and-you/">environmental benefits</a>. Livestock not only <a href="https://theconversation.com/cop28-begins-4-issues-that-will-determine-if-the-un-climate-summit-is-a-success-from-methane-to-money-218869">produce greenhouse gas</a> when they burp, they take up huge amounts of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9024616/">land and fresh water</a>.</p> <p>Reducing the number of animal products on your plate also reduces the likelihood you are contributing to the suffering of animals. Even though many countries have <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/welfare/standards-guidelines">ethical standards</a> for the treatment of farm animals, these are not always followed, and many of the practices considered legal <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-03-28/pig-slaughter-methods-defended-by-pork-industry/102153822">still cause pain and suffering to animals</a>.</p> <p>While cutting out all animal products can be difficult, any reduction in consumption makes a difference. For example, consider swapping out the brie on your Christmas platter for hummus this year.</p> <h2>2. Choose ‘good fish’</h2> <p>Many of us don’t realise fish and other seafood is often sourced unsustainably, negatively impacting ocean ecosystems and wildlife. An Australian organisation called GoodFish produces a <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/">Sustainable Seafood Guide</a>, where you can find out how ethical the fish you buy is.</p> <p>Unfortunately, many salmon products are <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/sustainable-seafood-guide/?q=salmon">not as sustainable</a> as companies claim them to be. In comparison, farmed Australian barramundi, Murray cod, prawns, oysters and mussels, and wild-caught Australian Eastern and Western rock lobsters are classified as better choices.</p> <p>Additionally, an international not-for-profit organisation called the <a href="https://www.msc.org/en-au">Marine Stewardship Council</a> has an “MSC blue fish tick label” certification scheme, which endorses products from well-managed and sustainable fisheries. Have a look for MSC-certified frozen crumbed fish in your next shop.</p> <h2>3. Choose at least one organic item, such as your roast potatoes</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en/">Organic agriculture</a> aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil infertility or pest problems over the longer term. It strengthens the dynamics and carbon storage of soil, stops freshwater pollution with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, reduces the use of fossil fuels needed to produce these chemicals, and promotes biodiversity.</p> <p>Yes, organic products are more expensive, but you will hopefully now feel they are worth it (you could also look out for organic produce that is reduced in price during “on special” promotions).</p> <h2>4. Choose Fairtrade chocolate</h2> <p>Of course, humans are heavily involved in the production, packaging and transport of the food we eat every day. Organisations such as <a href="https://fairtradeanz.org/">Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/">Rainforest Alliance</a> aim to improve the lives of rural farmers and workers in developing countries – who otherwise might get unfair deals for their produce and work (these organisations also target environmental issues).</p> <p>You can buy Fairtrade- and Rainforest Alliance-certified products in supermarkets (and elsewhere), such as chocolate, coffee, tea – and even ice cream.</p> <p>Similarly, there are companies called <a href="https://bcorporation.com.au/find-b-corps/">B Corps</a>, or Certified B Corporations. These are organisations that also care about social and environmental issues. B Corp food products can also be found in supermarkets (and elsewhere), and include things like peanut butter and seaweed snacks.</p> <h2>5. Make friends with your freezer</h2> <p>When we waste food, we are wasting the energy, land, water and chemicals that were used during the <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/climate-issues/food">long process</a> of getting it into your home.</p> <p>Lots of us worry at Christmas about “having enough food for everyone”, and consequently buy too much. Why not talk through your menu plan with someone else before you go shopping, to check that you are not anxiety-buying to feed 50 people (instead of your extended family of ten).</p> <p>But even with calm planning, you may still have leftover food. If this happens, you can get creative with using leftovers on Boxing Day (OzHarvest has some recipes online, including <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/use-it-up/tips/">Christmas rockyroad</a>), or you can preserve food to eat at a later date using your cool friend, the freezer.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218351/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, Adjunct lecturer and nutritionist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>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/5-ways-to-make-christmas-lunch-more-ethical-this-year-218351">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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12 expert ways to manage stress at airports

<p><strong><em>Betsy Goldberg writes for <a href="http://blog.virtuoso.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Virtuoso Luxury Traveller</span></a>, the blog of a <a href="http://www.virtuoso.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">global luxury travel network</span></a>, and she enjoys nothing more than taking a holiday.</em></strong></p> <p>Airports should be happy places. They’re the beginning of a journey, either to a new place, a vacation, business meetings, time with family and friends, or back home.</p> <p>If you’ve spent even a brief amount of time inside an airport, though, you know that’s not the case. They can be stressful places with people running to and fro trying to make flights. All while dealing with their day-to-day life via their phone. No surprise that a psychologist has even developed an air travel stress scale.</p> <p>Air travel stress gets to virtually all of us. But it doesn’t have to. How can you reduce the drama?</p> <p><strong>1. Put things in context</strong></p> <p>A lot of reducing air travel stress comes simply from having a good mindset.</p> <p>The most important thing is to start with the right attitude, says Rishi Piparaiya, author of Aisle Be Damned: “We’re talking about an extremely complicated industry, where millions of people fly in the skies in metal tubes at the speed of sound. Sure, something may go wrong, but our ancestors would spend a lifetime to make the journey we make in half a day.”</p> <p>Here’s another take from Brent Bowen, dean of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He noted that in 2013 the overall performance of U.S. airlines hit its highest point in 24 years.</p> <p>“The number of customer complaints has gone down,” he says. “Mishandled baggage has gone down and on-time performance has improved. So technically, based solely on the data, (the flight experience) has improved over the last 25 years substantially.”</p> <p><strong>2. When to fly</strong></p> <p>Leisure travellers tend to fly on weekends. Business travellers are crowding airports Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Therefore, book your flights for the quieter days of Tuesday and Wednesday when you can.</p> <p>Book an early-morning flight if possible to avoid more air travel stress. Airlines are less likely to have delays first thing in the day.</p> <p><strong>3. Use a packing list</strong></p> <p>This prevents “Oh no!” moments at the airport. If you’re not even at security yet and you already think you’re missing something and don’t have the time to go get it, the rest of the airport experience probably won’t be great.</p> <p>Avoid that kind of air travel stress before you get to the airport by starting with a packing list. Also, learn how to effectively pack a bag.</p> <p><strong>4. Check in promptly</strong></p> <p>Airlines let you check in online 24 hours before your flight. Do that to avoid lineups at the airport. Another bonus: it may help prevent you from being bumped off an oversold flight.</p> <p><strong>5. Carry on what you can</strong></p> <p>The advantages: less to potentially lose in your checked luggage. No baggage fees. And a faster exit from the airport when you arrive.</p> <p>Always carry on essentials like keys, medications, valuables and anything critical for business meetings. You don’t want to arrive in the Caribbean and be waiting days for everything you need to actually enjoy the Caribbean.</p> <p>So remember that air travel is actually much more effective than almost any human mode of transport in history. And in the past few decades, the experience has technically only improved. Take a deep breath when that air travel stress hits you.</p> <p><strong>6. The early bird approach</strong></p> <p>People fall into very distinct camps on this. Earlier tends to be better (especially around peak travel times like holidays). If you know security lines might be longer, why gamble and add more air travel stress?</p> <p><strong>7. The full charge</strong></p> <p>Phone batteries are getting better as technology continues to develop. And more airports are offering outlets and charging stations. But always get to the airport on a full charge. If you encounter a hiccup, you’ll need your device as a resource.</p> <p><strong>8. What to wear</strong></p> <p>Layers will help you navigate varying temperatures inside the airport and on the plane. Wear comfortable clothes you can move in, in case of a last-minute dash to a connecting flight. Wrinkle-free clothing is great, both for the journey to your destination as well as your trip itself.</p> <p>As far as footwear goes, wear something easy to slide on/off to get through security faster. In larger airports, you’re likely in for a big walk to and from your gate, so comfort is a must as well.</p> <p><strong>9. Entertainment</strong></p> <p>Unless you’ve booked an entire row on the plane, your seatmates are a random act of chance. They could be great – and not bother you. Or they could be challenging in many ways.</p> <p>So load up on distractions. Those include magazines, books, e-books, movies, TV shows and work you need to complete. They’ll also help in case of delays while you’re still in the terminal.</p> <p><strong>10. Your fellow passengers</strong></p> <p>Airports are amazing places for people-watching. If you stop at an airport bar or restaurant, you can usually strike up a conversation easily. You might be sitting next to someone from halfway around the world. You don’t get that chance every day, so take advantage of it.</p> <p>Want a conversation starter? Talk about the fastest way to board passengers. You’ll make some new friends and relieve your mutual air travel stress.</p> <p><strong>11. Airport lounges</strong></p> <p>Another place to meet new people: an airport lounge. You’ll await your flight in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. And you’ll enjoy peace and quiet, comfortable seating, food, drinks and reading materials.</p> <p>First-class and business-class travellers and elite frequent flyers have access to their airline’s lounge. Also, certain credit card holders enjoy complimentary access. For everyone else, there’s a day pass. A pass at an independent lounge will run you about $30 to $50.</p> <p><strong>12. Advisors as air travel stress relief</strong></p> <p>There are dozens of reasons why working with a professional travel advisor is a good idea. See here for real-life stories from actual travellers. One of those: an advisor can reduce air travel stress. Your advisor will work with you on itineraries, the best flight times, and any adjustments. If something crops up at the airport, you have a trusted resource one call away.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Taste depends on nature and nurture. Here are 7 ways you can learn to enjoy foods you don’t like

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-archer-181464">Nicholas Archer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/astrid-poelman-1481227">Astrid Poelman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p>You’re out for dinner with a bunch of friends, one of whom orders pizza with anchovies and olives to share, but you hate olives and anchovies! Do you pipe up with your preferred choice – Hawaiian – or stay quiet?</p> <p>This scene plays out every day around the world. Some people ferociously defend their personal tastes. But many would rather expand their palate, and not have to rock the boat the next time someone in their friend group orders pizza.</p> <p>Is it possible to train your tastebuds to enjoy foods you previously didn’t, like training a muscle at the gym?</p> <h2>What determines ‘taste’?</h2> <p>Taste is a complex system we evolved to help us navigate the environment. It helps us select foods with nutritional value and reject anything potentially harmful.</p> <p>Foods are made up of different compounds, including nutrients (such as proteins, sugars and fats) and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P_0HGRWgXw">aromas</a> that are detected by sensors in the mouth and nose. These sensors create the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZn2PMUWO-Y">flavour of food</a>. While taste is what the tastebuds on your tongue pick up, flavour is the combination of how something smells and tastes. Together with texture, appearance and sound, these senses collectively influence your food preferences.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MZn2PMUWO-Y?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Flavour is the overall impression you get when eating.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Many factors influence food preferences, including age, genetics and environment. We each live in our own sensory world and no two people will have the same <a href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-do-some-people-find-some-foods-yummy-but-others-find-the-same-foods-yucky-77671">experience while eating</a>.</p> <p>Food preferences also change with age. Research has found young children have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24452237/">natural preference</a> for sweet and salty tastes and a dislike of bitter tastes. As they grow older their ability to like bitter foods grows.</p> <p>Emerging evidence shows bacteria in saliva can also produce enzymes that influence the taste of foods. For instance, saliva has been shown to cause the release of sulphur aromas in cauliflower. The <a href="https://www.acs.org/pressroom/presspacs/2021/acs-presspac-september-22-2021/childrens-dislike-of-cauliflower-broccoli-could-be-written-in-their-microbiome.html">more sulphur that is produced</a>, the less likely a kid is to enjoy the taste of cauliflower.</p> <h2>Nature versus nurture</h2> <p>Both genetics and the environment play a crucial role in determining food preferences. Twin studies estimate genetics have a moderate influence on food preferences (between 32% and 54%, depending on the food type) in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652305027X?via%3Dihub">children</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27385609/">adolescents</a> and <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics/article/dietary-patterns-and-heritability-of-food-choice-in-a-uk-female-twin-cohort/8507AAF01330C599BAC62BCC0EF4CF06">adults</a>.</p> <p>However, since our cultural environment and the foods we’re exposed to also shape our preferences, these <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24452237/">preferences are learned</a> to a large degree.</p> <p>A lot of this learning takes place during childhood, at home and other places we eat. This isn’t textbook learning. <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/10.1079/9780851990323.0093">It’s learning</a> by experiencing (eating), which typically leads to increased liking of the food – or by watching what others do (modelling), which can lead to both positive or negative associations.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652305027X?via%3Dihub">Research</a> has shown how environmental influences on food preferences change between childhood and adulthood. For children, the main factor is the home environment, which makes sense as kids are more likely to be influenced by foods prepared and eaten at home. Environmental factors influencing adults and adolescents are more varied.</p> <h2>The process of ‘acquiring’ taste</h2> <p>Coffee and beer are good examples of bitter foods people “acquire” a taste for as they grow up. The ability to overcome the dislike of these is largely due to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>the social context in which they’re consumed. For example, in many countries they may be associated with passage into adulthood.</p> </li> <li> <p>the physiological effects of the compounds they contain – caffeine in coffee and alcohol in beer. Many people find these effects desirable.</p> </li> </ul> <p>But what about acquiring a taste for foods that don’t provide such desirable feelings, but which are good for you, such as kale or fatty fish? Is it possible to gain an acceptance for these?</p> <p>Here are some strategies that can help you learn to enjoy foods you currently don’t:</p> <ol> <li> <p>eat, and keep eating. Only a small portion is needed to build a liking for a specific taste over time. It may take 10–15 attempts or more before you can say you “like” the food.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329302001106">mask bitterness</a> by eating it with other foods or ingredients that contain salt or sugar. For instance, you can pair bitter rocket with a sweet salad dressing.</p> </li> <li> <p>eat it repeatedly in a positive context. That could mean eating it after playing your favourite sport or with people you like. Alternatively, you could eat it with foods you already enjoy; if it’s a specific vegetable, try pairing it with your favourite protein.</p> </li> <li> <p>eat it when you’re hungry. In a hungry state you’ll be more willing to accept a taste you might not appreciate on a full stomach.</p> </li> <li> <p>remind yourself why you want to enjoy this food. You may be changing your diet for health reasons, or because you’ve moved countries and are struggling with the local cuisine. Your reason will help motivate you.</p> </li> <li> <p>start young (if possible). It’s easier for children to learn to like new foods as their tastes are less established.</p> </li> <li> <p>remember: the more foods you like, the easier it’ll become to learn to like others.</p> </li> </ol> <p>A balanced and varied diet is essential for good health. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666315003438?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=82a5fd5069821f63">Picky eating</a> can become a problem if it leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies – especially if you’re avoiding entire food groups, such as vegetables. At the same time, eating too many tasty but energy-dense foods can increase your risk of chronic disease, including obesity.</p> <p>Understanding how your food preferences have formed, and how they can evolve, is a first step to getting on the path of healthier eating.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215999/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-archer-181464"><em>Nicholas Archer</em></a><em>, Research Scientist, Sensory, Flavour and Consumer Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/astrid-poelman-1481227">Astrid Poelman</a>, Principal Researcher, Public Health &amp; Wellbeing Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>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/taste-depends-on-nature-and-nurture-here-are-7-ways-you-can-learn-to-enjoy-foods-you-dont-like-215999">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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“Bloody ripper of a meteor” lights up Perth skies

<p>A few lucky Western Australians have witnessed the moment a bright green meteor flashed brightly across the state's South West.</p> <p>The meteor was the size of a cricket ball and had a 200-kilometre-long tail, which was first spotted at around 8.50pm on Wednesday after entering the atmosphere over Pemberton.</p> <p>The rare spectacle, which only happens around three times a year, lasted about five seconds and travelled at a speed of 30 km/h  before the mix of iron, rock and ice dissolved over the Southern Ocean. </p> <p>“Iron meteors give off that beautiful green glow,” Perth Observatory spokesperson Matt Woods told <em>7NEWS</em>.</p> <p>Experts also said that this was triggered by the outer layer of the meteor melting because of intense friction.</p> <p>The observatory said that the meteor had set off a flood of messages, emails and calls from the people that witnessed the natural phenomenon. </p> <p>“That was a bloody ripper of a meteor tonight,” they posted on their Facebook page. </p> <p>One witness said that you had to see it with your own eyes to fully appreciate its beauty. </p> <p>“I will say it was way better in person. It looked almost rainbow-coloured. Just spectacular,” commented one person. </p> <p>“Did anyone just see a bright streak of light shooting from the sky? It was too bright to be a shooting star,” another person shared on social media. </p> <p>“It was massive and extremely bright.”</p> <p><em>Image: 7NEWS</em></p> <p> </p>

Domestic Travel

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Extraordinary snaps from around the world for the Nature Photographer of the Year awards

<p>Every year, the <a href="https://naturephotographeroftheyear.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nature Photographer of the Year</a> awards showcase the best that Mother Nature has to offer. </p> <p>For the 2023 competition, photographers from all around the world have captured beautiful snaps of wildlife in their natural habitat, picturesque landscapes and much more. </p> <p>The annual competition is an initiative of Nature Talks, the organisation responsible for the Nature Talks Photo Festival that takes place in the Netherlands. </p> <p>This year, the competition saw entrant from South Africa, Germany, the USA, England, Finland, France, Luxembourg and many more corners of the globe. </p> <p>This year's winner is a photographer hailing from Canada, Jacquie Matechuk, who stole the show with her photo of the Spectacled Bear. </p> <p>Chairman Marco Gaiotti explained why her photo was chosen as the winner, "The Spanish moss hanging from this centuries-old fig tree gives an incredible sense of three-dimensionality while the soft light filtering through the colours highlights the profound connection between species and habitat in this image."</p> <p>"Finally, the pose of this spectacled bear fits perfectly into the texture of the photograph. Congratulations to Jacquie Matechuk for this outstanding photograph of the spectacled bear."</p> <p><em>All image credits: Nature Photographer of the Year</em></p>

International Travel

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3 ways to prepare for bushfire season if you have asthma or another lung condition

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kazi-mizanur-rahman-1057615">Kazi Mizanur Rahman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joe-duncan-1472949">Joe Duncan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jo-longman-1221029">Jo Longman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australia’s bushfire season is officially <a href="https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/fire-season-commences">under way</a> during an <a href="https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/what-the-return-of-el-nino-means/">El Niño</a>. And after three wet years, and the <a href="https://www.afac.com.au/auxiliary/publications/newsletter/article/seasonal-bushfire-outlook-spring-2023#:%7E:text=For%20spring%202023%2C%20increased%20risk,bushfire%20this%20season%20are%20widespread">plant growth</a> that comes with it, there’s fuel to burn.</p> <p>With the prospect of <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-official-australia-is-set-for-a-hot-dry-el-nino-heres-what-that-means-for-our-flammable-continent-209126">catastrophic bushfire</a> comes smoke. This not only affects people in bushfire regions, but those <a href="https://theconversation.com/bushfire-smoke-is-everywhere-in-our-cities-heres-exactly-what-you-are-inhaling-129772">in cities and towns</a> far away, as smoke travels.</p> <p>People with a <a href="https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/10.1164/rccm.202012-4471LE">lung condition</a> are among those especially affected.</p> <h2>What’s so dangerous about bushfire smoke?</h2> <p>Bushfire smoke <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/common-air-pollutants.aspx">pollutes the air</a> we breathe by increasing the concentration of particulate matter (or PM).</p> <p>Once inhaled, <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/particulate-matter.aspx">small particles</a> (especially with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less, known as PM2.5) can get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream.</p> <p>Concentration of gases in the air – such as <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/ozone.aspx">ozone</a>, <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/nitrogen-dioxide.aspx">nitrogen dioxide</a> and <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/sulphur-dioxide.aspx">sulfur dioxide</a> – also increase, to pollute the air.</p> <p>All these cause the airway to <a href="https://www.alfredhealth.org.au/news/the-effects-of-bushfire-smoke-explained/">narrow and spasm</a>, making it hard to breathe.</p> <p>This can be even worse for people with existing asthma or other respiratory conditions whose airways are already inflamed.</p> <p>Emergency department visits and hospital admissions for asthma-related symptoms <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935119305742?dgcid=author">rise</a> <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33601224/">after exposure</a> to bushfire smoke.</p> <p>Smoke from the bushfires in summer 2019/20 <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/system/files/issues/213_06/mja250545.pdf">resulted in</a> an estimated 400 deaths or more from any cause, more than 1,300 emergency department visits for asthma symptoms, and more than 2,000 hospital admissions for respiratory issues.</p> <p>Even if symptoms are not serious enough to warrant emergency medical attention, exposure to bushfire smoke <a href="https://www.qld.gov.au/health/staying-healthy/environmental/after-a-disaster/bushfires/bushfire-smoke-and-your-health#:%7E:text=Signs%20of%20smoke%20irritation%20include,throat%2C%20runny%20nose%20and%20coughing">can lead to</a> cough, nasal congestion, wheezing and asthma flares.</p> <p>If you have <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-causes-asthma-what-we-know-dont-know-and-suspect-96409">asthma</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-25539">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease</a>, <a href="https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/bronchiectasis#:%7E:text=Bronchiectasis%20is%20a%20condition%20that,These%20tubes%20are%20called%20airways.">bronchiectasis</a> or another lung condition, or you care for someone who has, here’s what you can do to prepare for the season ahead.</p> <h2>1. Avoid smoke</h2> <p>Monitor your local air quality by downloading one or both of these apps:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://asthma.org.au/what-we-do/current-projects/airsmart/">AirSmart</a> from Asthma Australia has live air-quality information to help you plan and act</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://airrater.org/">AirRater</a>, developed by Australian scientists, can be another useful app to monitor your environment, track your symptoms and help manage your health.</p> </li> </ul> <p>During times of poor air quality and smoke stay indoors and avoid smoke exposure. Close windows and doors, and if you have one, use an air conditioner to recirculate the air.</p> <p>Avoid unnecessary <a href="https://28bysamwood.com/blog/fitness/should-you-exercise-if-its-smoky-outside/">physical activity</a> which makes us breathe more to deliver more oxygen to the body, but also means we inhale more polluted air. Consider temporarily moving to a safer residence.</p> <p>Well-fitting N95/P2 masks can reduce your exposure to fine smoke particles if you must travel. However they can make it more difficult to breathe if you are unwell. In that case, you may find a mask with a valve <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-protect-yourself-against-bushfire-smoke-this-summer-154720">more comfortable</a>.</p> <h2>2. Have an action plan</h2> <p>Taking your regular preventer medication ensures your lung health is optimised before the danger period.</p> <p>Ensure you have a <a href="https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/health-professionals/asthma-action-plans">written action plan</a>. This provides you with clear instructions on how to take early actions to prevent symptoms deteriorating or to reduce the severity of flare-ups. Review this plan with your GP, share it with a family member, pin it to the fridge.</p> <p>Make sure you have emergency medication available, know when to call for help, and what medication to take while you wait. You may consider storing an emergency “reliever puffer” in your home or with a neighbour.</p> <h2>3. Have the right equipment</h2> <p>High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters <a href="https://www.phrp.com.au/issues/online-early/residential-indoor-air-quality-and-hepa-cleaner-use/">can reduce</a> smoke exposure inside the home during a fire event by 30-74%. These filters remove particulate matter from the air.</p> <p>A spacer, which is a small chamber to contain inhaled medication, can help you take emergency medication if you are breathing quickly. You may want to have one to hand.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214065/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 href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kazi-mizanur-rahman-1057615">Kazi Mizanur Rahman</a>, Associate Professor of Healthcare Innovations, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joe-duncan-1472949">Joe Duncan</a>, Clinical Associate Lecturer, Northern Clinical School and Lecturer, Internal Medicine. Rural Clinical School (Northern Rivers), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jo-longman-1221029">Jo Longman</a>, Senior Research Fellow, The University Centre for Rural Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>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/3-ways-to-prepare-for-bushfire-season-if-you-have-asthma-or-another-lung-condition-214065">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Five ways to take advantage of rising interest rates to boost your savings

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fredrick-kibon-changwony-234363">Fredrick Kibon Changwony</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p>With the Bank of England base rate <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-bank-of-englands-interest-rate-hikes-are-filtering-through-to-your-finances-210344">currently the highest</a> it has been since early 2008, you may have a valuable opportunity to increase your earnings on pensions, investments and savings accounts. After all, when the central bank raises its main rate – the base rate, which is typically used as a benchmark for loans as well as savings accounts – it is trying to encourage people to spend less and save more.</p> <p>But UK banks and building societies have <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/money/martin-lewis-savings-rates-mortgage-crisis-b2362955.html">recently been accused</a> of letting their savings rates lag the recent rapid rise in the base rate. UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has urged these financial firms to offer “<a href="https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/action-plan-cash-savings">fair and competitive</a>” savings rates in response to the increasing interest rates.</p> <p>Many financial institutions do offer accounts with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2023/jul/15/uk-savings-accounts-interest-nsi-building-societies-banks-deals">rates of 6% or more</a>. This is good news for avid savers – but only if you keep an eye on the market so you can switch from less competitive products. This is why it’s important to establish a regular savings habit, but many people are unsure about what that should involve.</p> <p>My colleagues and I have studied the <a href="https://dspace.stir.ac.uk/handle/1893/32240">correlation between people’s savings goals</a> (if they have any) and how they invest their money. We also looked at how seeking financial information advice, and being “good with numbers”, both influence this correlation.</p> <p>We analysed data from more than 40,000 individuals in 21,000 UK households from five waves of the Office for National Statistics Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS), conducted between 2006 and 2016. This data captures comprehensive economic wellbeing information and attitudes to financial planning.</p> <p>Our research shows the importance to your finances of setting multiple savings goals, keeping up with financial news, and seeking professional advice. Based on this, here are five research-based ways to make the most of your money.</p> <h2>1. Set specific savings goals</h2> <p>Establishing personal savings goals is one of the first steps most financial institutions and advisers will recommend to their customers, because it’s a good idea to <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compoundinterest.asp">save regularly</a>. Plus, our study shows that total financial assets increase in line with the number of savings goals you have, and that setting specific, rather than vague, goals leads to higher performance.</p> <p>Specific savings goals should have an end date, target figure, and even a meaningful name – for example, “£1,000 for 2024 trip to Asia” or “£250 for 2023 Christmas present fund”. This will create tangible reference points that encourage self-control and increase the pain you feel if you fail to meet your goal.</p> <h2>2. Seek professional financial advice</h2> <p>Rather than relying on friends, family and social media for financial advice, speak to an expert.</p> <p>Our research shows households that access professional financial advice were more likely to allocate a higher share of their wealth to stock portfolios than those that rely on friends, family and social media for financial advice. This result was consistent even across different wealth and income levels, with lower earners possibly using products like ISAs to make investments in stocks and shares. Other <a href="https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/134/3/1225/5435538">research shows</a> stock portfolios outperform most other types of investment in the long term.</p> <p>We also found that access to professional financial advice can substitute for setting goals, because your adviser should help you to determine the kinds of products to invest in (which is called asset allocation) for specific timelines and aims.</p> <h2>3. Brush up on your maths</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5890.2007.00052.x">Several studies</a> show numerical skills affect how households gather and process information, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0013114">set goals</a>, perceive risks, and <a href="https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/fedred89&amp;i=791">decide to invest</a> in various financial assets. So, by brushing up on your basic numeracy and financial literacy skills – even with free online videos – you could boost your savings for the long term.</p> <p>Our study shows that individuals with high confidence in their numerical skills tend to have better financial planning habits – such as investing more in stocks and bonds than cash, which carries more risk but also the potential for greater returns. This trend is particularly evident among households with no savings goals, suggesting that numerical ability could compensate for failing to set such goals.</p> <h2>4. Adopt appropriate savings strategies</h2> <p>Diversified stock market portfolios generally outperform bonds and cash savings <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz012">over longer periods</a>. However, stock markets can be volatile, so putting savings into less risky assets like bonds and cash is wise for savings goals of less than five years.</p> <p>In the longer term, investing across different global stock markets for more than five years can help counteract inflation. And you can access low-cost, diversified investment portfolios via financial products based on indices of stocks or other assets, such as exchange traded funds.</p> <h2>5. Set, monitor and adjust your plan</h2> <p>Free financial planning and budgeting apps can help you save money by tracking your spending and savings goals, and encouraging you to adhere to a budget.</p> <p>Most importantly, once you set savings goals and create a budget, don’t forget about them. Check regularly to see how your savings are building up and to monitor for any spending changes. A growing array of fintech tools can prompt and encourage this kind of long-term planning.</p> <p>Keeping an eye on savings rates is also important. As banks change rates or create new accounts, consider switching to get a better deal if you can do so without falling foul of account closure fees.</p> <p>It’s important to make sure your savings are working for you at any time, but its crucial in the current economy, when finances are tight but interest rates are rising.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208853/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 href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fredrick-kibon-changwony-234363">Fredrick Kibon Changwony</a>, Lecturer in Accounting &amp; Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>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/five-ways-to-take-advantage-of-rising-interest-rates-to-boost-your-savings-208853">original article</a>.</em></p>

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9 tricky ways to clean your house while you sleep

<p><strong>1. Soak a showerhead</strong></p> <p>Mineral deposits can clog a showerhead and affect its pressure over time. To clean, fill a plastic bag with vinegar. Place the bag around the showerhead, submerging it in the liquid.</p> <p>Secure the bag to the neck of the showerhead with a twist tie and leave overnight. The vinegar will break down the buildup by morning.</p> <p><strong>2. Remove stains on pots and pans </strong></p> <p>If a batch of cookies left your baking sheet gunky, let a dryer sheet clean it overnight. Place the sheet on the pan and fill with warm water.</p> <p>Cleaning agents in the dryer sheet will help loosen stuck-on grime and stains. In the morning, easily wipe off with a sponge.</p> <p><strong>3. Polish stove grates </strong></p> <p>Cleaning greasy, food-splattered stove burners can be a tiresome chore. Before you go to bed, seal each burner in a large plastic bag with ¼ cup of ammonia.</p> <p>The overnight soak will make it easy to wipe off the surface with a sponge the following day.</p> <p><strong>4. Banish rust on tools </strong></p> <p>If your rusty tools have seen better days, fill a tray with Coca-Cola. Submerge the tools, allow to soak overnight, and scrub clean with a stiff brush in the morning.</p> <p>The soda’s phosphoric acid will help loosen the gunk.</p> <p><strong>5. Eliminate wet messes </strong></p> <p>If your sofa or carpet became the victim of an icky, wet mess (say, vomit or urine), mix a paste of baking soda and water to soak it up.</p> <p>Use a spoon to spread the paste over the soiled area. Allow to dry overnight, then vacuum in the morning.</p> <p><strong>6. Descale a kettle </strong></p> <p>Limescale can build up from calcium carbonate deposits in water, leading to an off-white, chalky deposit in your kettle.</p> <p>To clean, cut a lemon into large slices, place in the kettle, and add water. Bring to a boil, then take the kettle off the heat and leave overnight.</p> <p>The lemon’s citric acid will loosen the limescale. Toss the fruit and water mixture in the morning and rinse before using your newly cleaned kettle.</p> <p><strong>7. Clean bath toys</strong></p> <p>To make grubby rubber duckies, boats, and other bath toys new again, mix one gallon warm water with ¾ cup vinegar. Soak the toys overnight. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.</p> <p><strong>8. Make diamonds sparkle</strong> </p> <p>Quickly polish a diamond ring by filling a bottle cap with Windex. Soak the ring overnight and dry with a soft cloth in the morning to remove grime and add shine.</p> <p><strong>9. Remove red wine stains</strong></p> <p>If red wine marked up your favorite garment, sprinkle the stain with salt and cover with club soda. The salt absorbs the stain while the club soda’s carbonation and sodium helps lift it. Leave overnight before laundering.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/diy-tips/9-ways-clean-house-your-sleep" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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6 natural remedies for tinnitus

<p>As anyone who’s ever experienced will agree, tinnitus is about as fun as repeatedly stubbing your big toe. But the good news is needn’t suffer in silence. There is a range of natural remedies available, and while these won’t eliminate tinnitus completely they may be used to help manage the condition.</p> <p>Before we go through some of the natural remedies, it might be useful to take a moment to understand what tinnitus actually is. Tinnitus is a physical condition that is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system where someone experiences noises or ringing in their ears when there is no external noise presents. It’s important to know tinnitus is symptom, and not a disease. It can be caused by a variety of things including exposure to loud noises, earwax blockages, ear-bone changes and age-related hearing lost. Approximately one in five Australians suffer from tinnitus.</p> <p><strong>1. Gingko biloba</strong></p> <p>Across the board, gingko biloba is generally considered one of the stronger herbal remedies for tinnitus. This widely available herbal remedy is often used to improve blood circulation, which can reduce the ringing sensation and improve the function of your ears. It also contains handy antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help eliminate any existing infections.</p> <p><strong>2. Apple cider vinegar</strong></p> <p>Apple cider vinegar provides a particularly useful daily tonic to help reduce the effects of tinnitus. A natural antifungal and anti-inflammatory agent, apple cider vinegar also works to alkalize your body and help rebalance your internal levels. Again, this remedy is quite helpful when it comes to getting rid of any underlying infections or fungus that may be contributing to your tinnitus.</p> <p><strong>3. Alpha lipoic acid</strong></p> <p>Alpha lipoic acid provides tinnitus sufferers with another handy supplement that can help minimise the effects of this condition. Functioning as an antioxidant, this vitamin-like chemical is known to help treat cell damage and restore natural vitamin levels in your body. Alpha lipoic acid has also been known to help improve neuron function and conduction, which may be contributing factors.</p> <p><strong>4. Holy basil</strong></p> <p>Here’s another natural remedy for treating tinnitus. Holy basil is known to contain a range of antibacterial properties and can be used to help kill the bacteria that may be contributing to the problem. In addition, holy basil can also be used as a way to provide you with relief from more severe forms of ear pain. It won’t solve the problem, but it will make it easier to manage.</p> <p><strong>5. Onions and garlic</strong></p> <p>While they might not make your breath smell the best on a hot date, onions and garlic have been used in the past to provide relief for tinnitus sufferers. Onions contain medicinal and antibacterial properties to help fight infections, while garlic can help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation, which is particularly useful for tinnitus that is caused by high altitudes.</p> <p><strong>6. Saline solution</strong></p> <p>Here’s another nifty way to treat tinnitus naturally. Saline solution can help clear any blocked nasal passages and ease the pressure caused by excessive fluids that are building up in your sinuses. This simple remedy is a great way to provide effective relief from particular forms of tinnitus. </p> <p>So there you go, six handy ways to help relive yourself of the effects of tinnitus. Ultimately we would recommend that you go to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis if you happen to be suffering from tinnitus, but at the very least it’s handy to know that these natural remedies are around.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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4 ways to support someone with dementia during extreme heat

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nikki-anne-wilson-342631">Nikki-Anne Wilson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Our ability to adapt our behaviour to changes in temperature takes a significant amount of thought and decision making. For example, we need to identify suitable clothing, increase our fluid intake, and understand how to best keep the house cool.</p> <p>A person with dementia may find some or all these things challenging. These and other factors mean, for someone with dementia, extreme heat <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31520832/#:%7E:text=Conclusion%3A%20Heatwaves%20increased%20the%20risk,heat%2Drelated%20Alzheimer's%20disease%20burden.">can be deadly</a>.</p> <p>But as the temperature rises, friends, relatives and carers can help.</p> <h2>El Niño means there are challenges ahead</h2> <p>The recent declaration of <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-19/bureau-of-meteorology-el-nino-blog/102875154">another El Niño</a> means we need to think about how we can best support those more vulnerable to be safe during the warmer months.</p> <p>Extreme heat and bushfires bring unique challenges for someone with dementia.</p> <p>Bushfires have a significant impact on older people’s mental health. But they generally <a href="https://www.health.act.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-03/PATH_Impact%20of%202019-20%20Bushfires%20on%20a%20Cohort%20of%20Older%20Adults_REPORT_V3_0.pdf">bounce back</a> quickly.</p> <p>However, for someone with dementia, extreme heat can lead to a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935119305110">significant deterioration</a> in their overall health and they may not recover.</p> <p>Emergency evacuations can also be confusing and distressing for a person with dementia, so it is important to think ahead.</p> <h2>Why are people with dementia more at risk?</h2> <p>Dementia can affect the parts of the brain that help <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/138/11/3360/332653?login=true">regulate</a> our body temperature. Some <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243665">medications</a> can also increase someone’s sensitivity to heat.</p> <p>Problems with memory and thinking associated with dementia <a href="https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/drinking-hydration">means</a> remembering to drink or communicating you are thirsty can be challenging.</p> <p>Heat can affect everyone’s mood. But if someone with dementia becomes dehydrated this can <a href="https://www.alzdiscovery.org/cognitive-vitality/blog/can-dehydration-impair-cognitive-function">increase</a> confusion and agitation, making it harder for them to know how to cool down.</p> <p>A person with dementia can also wander and become lost, which can be dangerous in extreme heat.</p> <h2>4 ways to support someone with dementia</h2> <p><strong>1. Avoid dehydration and heatstroke</strong></p> <p>Try to avoid dehydration by encouraging someone to drink throughout the day. It’s better to have <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31769256/">small amounts</a> of liquid regularly instead of a large amount all at once. Little and often will help maximise hydration while avoiding sudden trips to <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dementia-continence-issues#causes-of-incontinence-in-people-with-dementia">the bathroom</a>.</p> <p>Try to offer different types of drinks, or ice blocks. Placing drinks in sight can help as a reminder to drink. Choose foods with a high liquid content, such as fruit, salads, cool broths and yoghurt.</p> <p>Look out for <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-weather-safety-older-adults#:%7E:text=Signs%20of%20heat%20stroke%20are,as%20under%20shade%20or%20indoors.">signs of heatstroke</a>, such as increased confusion beyond what the person would usually experience. Heatstroke may be more difficult to spot in someone living with dementia so it is important to check in when possible and to help them cool down if needed.</p> <p><strong>2. Cool the home</strong></p> <p>Try to modify their home to make it easier to stay cool. Some air-conditioners have complex settings so make sure the temperature is set appropriately and the person with dementia knows how to use the controls.</p> <p>It is important to keep blinds and curtains shut where possible to reduce heat. However, ensure the <a href="https://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/supporting-people-with-dementia/dementia-friendly-environments/lighting.asp">lighting is adequate</a> to avoid falls.</p> <p>Try to support the person to make suitable clothing choices for the season by having cool, lightweight options easily available.</p> <p><strong>3. Think about communications early</strong></p> <p>If someone with dementia lives alone, consider how you will maintain contact in an emergency.</p> <p>Some people may not realise many landlines don’t work in a power outage, and of course, mobile phones can’t be recharged. Ensure the person with dementia has access to an <a href="https://www.telstra.com.au/support/category/home-phone/uninterruptible-power-supply">uninterruptable power supply</a>. This can help maintain communication for a few hours in a blackout.</p> <p><strong>4. Have an evacuation plan</strong></p> <p>In case of fire, flash flooding or severe storm, <a href="https://dementiaresearch.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2447_DCRC_Prep_natural_disaster_EBook_5.pdf">have an evacuation plan</a>. If the person with dementia attends a day or respite centre, know their plan too.</p> <p>The situation can change quickly in an emergency, and this can be particularly overwhelming for people with cognitive issues.</p> <p>Understand that someone with dementia may become distressed when their routine is disrupted. So be prepared with some simple activities or comfort items, current medications, and any specific medical information.</p> <p>Stay up-to-date with <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/">current warnings</a> and act early whenever possible.</p> <h2>We can all help</h2> <p>It’s not just carers of people with dementia who can help. We can all ensure people with dementia stay safe and cool this spring and summer.</p> <p>So remember to check in on your relatives, friends and neighbours or arrange for someone to do so on your behalf.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213987/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nikki-anne-wilson-342631"><em>Nikki-Anne Wilson</em></a><em>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>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/4-ways-to-support-someone-with-dementia-during-extreme-heat-213987">original article</a>.</em></p>

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7 ways to look after yourself and your community before and after the Voice referendum

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacob-prehn-956034">Jacob Prehn</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joselynn-baltra-ulloa-1470454">Joselynn Baltra-Ulloa</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-canty-1470456">Justin Canty</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-vincent-1470455">Kate Vincent</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/milena-heinsch-348951">Milena Heinsch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>The lead-up to the Voice referendum is already <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/may/24/concerns-for-mental-health-of-indigenous-australians-amid-reported-uptick-in-abuse-as-voice-debate-progresses">affecting</a> the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These impacts will likely worsen during and after the vote.</p> <p>A quick search of any social media platform about the Voice referendum reveals a range of strong perspectives on voting “yes” or “no”. But in the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/29/government-puts-social-media-giants-on-notice-over-misinformation-and-hate-speech-during-voice-referendum">loosely regulated</a> world of social and news media, many conversations are becoming toxic and racist, and turning into <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/first-nations-mental-health-advocates-call-on-politicians-to-champion-respectful-referendum/vh4ytvjvq">hate speech</a>.</p> <p>Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are already <a href="https://www.indigenoushpf.gov.au/measures/3-10-access-mental-health-services#:%7E:text=Aboriginal%20and%20Torres%20Strait%20Islander%20people%20experience%20a%20higher%20rate,as%20high%20as%20for%20non%2D">disproportionately affected</a> by mental ill health, including hospitalisations and <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/suicide-self-harm-monitoring/data/populations-age-groups/suicide-indigenous-australians">troubling rates</a> of suicide. This is why we must take extra care and adopt strategies to support Indigenous Australians and each other.</p> <h2>The issues hate speech bring</h2> <p><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/10.1080/10538720.2019.1683113">Research</a> following the marriage equality postal survey in 2017 found the intense public debates and media messaging had negatively affected the mental health of LGBTIQ+ communities. As we approach the Voice referendum it’s imperative we learn from this.</p> <p>Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-health/status-and-determinants#:%7E:text=The%20burden%20of%20disease%20for,and%20Torres%20Strait%20Islander%20people.">worse</a> health and wellbeing outcomes than non-Indigenous people in Australia. <a href="https://indigenoushpf.gov.au/report-overview/overview/summary-report?ext=.">A government health performance summary report</a>, released in July, revealed about one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience elevated levels of psychological distress.</p> <p>For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve equity with non-Indigenous Australians on measures such as life expectancy, education and income, there needs to be systemic change. This type of change would likely include constitutional amendments, legislative revisions, the establishment of treaties, embracing truth-telling and other significant measures.</p> <p>Undoubtedly, such transformative steps would spark national discussion and debate. Discussion is important to fostering understanding and driving progress in society. The problem lies in the politicisation of debate about marginalised people and the amplifying effect on their psychological distress and mental health. This should be a pressing concern for all Australians.</p> <p>Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in mental health during the Voice referendum is crucial. Dr Clinton Schultz, a Gamilaroi man, for example, is leading work with the <a href="https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/media-releases/indigenous-mental-health-groups-call-on-politicians-to-champion-respectful-referendum/">Black Dog Institute</a> to encourage respectful conversations and protect the wellbeing of Indigenous people.</p> <p>The federal government has also contributed through the “<a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-09/first-nations-mental-health-and-wellbeing-services-and-supports.pdf">Take care of yourself and your mob</a>” initiative.</p> <h2>Seven strategies for self and collective care</h2> <p>As social work academics with expertise in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we propose <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jean-Balestrery/publication/368288426_Ubuntu_and_Social_Work_Advancing_A_Global_Lens_and_Language_in_Healthcare/links/641b07ae92cfd54f842048cc/Ubuntu-and-Social-Work-Advancing-A-Global-Lens-and-Language-in-Healthcare.pdf#page=502">seven strategies of self-care for Indigenous Australians</a> as the referendum draws nearer.</p> <p>We also invite non-Indigenous people to provide support for First Nations people during this time, and always.</p> <p><strong>1) Set boundaries when discussing the Voice referendum</strong></p> <p>Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to choose whether they wish to engage in conversations about the Voice referendum, or answer questions. If you are non-Indigenous, be mindful unsolicited questions about the referendum, particularly from acquaintances or strangers, could inadvertently make someone feel burdened, uncomfortable or unsafe.</p> <p><strong>2) Disconnect and spend less time looking at social media and news</strong></p> <p>We have witnessed a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-02/rise-in-harmful-online-attacks-in-lead-up-to-voice-referendum/102807476">surge</a> in offensive, harmful and racist content online. For everyone, limiting exposure to social media and the news can be essential for mental wellbeing. Disconnecting and restricting how much energy we put into such content is something we can control.</p> <p>If you are non-Indigenous and encounter such comments online, please report them. We can all play a part in fostering a safe and respectful community.</p> <p><strong>3) Stay connected with others and avoid isolation</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590291120300723">Social isolation can take a toll on health and wellbeing</a>. Prioritise quality time with friends, family and community, exploring conversations beyond the referendum. Embrace opportunities to stay connected with others through meaningful physical, social and cultural interactions.</p> <p><strong>4) Personal and community-care practices</strong></p> <p>Self-care is often viewed as an individual activity. Find ways to create, maintain and enhance personal and community-based care practices. Consider opportunities for including others in activities such as exercise, time outside or crafting cultural items. Organisations can lead and facilitate these collective care initiatives.</p> <p><strong>5) Make time for your body, mind and spirit</strong></p> <p>Set aside regular time for physical activity, stimulate your mind with enjoyable pursuits and nurture your spiritual dimensions if they hold significance for you. This could include connecting with country, attending church or practising yoga.</p> <p><strong>6) Spend time on Country and practice Indigenous culture</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.lowitja.org.au/content/Document/Lowitja-Publishing/Lowitja_Inst_Health_Benefits_OnCountry__report__WEB.pdf">Spend time on Country</a> in your favourite place, <a href="https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/148406/8/Defining_the_Indefinable_WEB2_FINAL.pdf">undertake cultural practices</a> and invite others to join you. If you are non-Indigenous, seek out opportunities to deepen cross-cultural connection, understanding and appreciation by participating in Indigenous cultural practices.</p> <p><strong>7) Know the signs and seek help</strong></p> <p>Emotional distress and triggers can arise unexpectedly. Recognise the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-worried-someone-you-care-about-is-thinking-of-suicide-heres-how-you-can-support-them-from-afar-135940">signs</a> within yourself and among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around you. If you or anyone else is feeling unwell, we suggest moving away from the cause, spending time with people and places that bring you peace, and if needed <a href="https://www.13yarn.org.au/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwmICoBhDxARIsABXkXlKDSN_iCsyfccXNgD8k49nK5xE0ChmBykxLGcLrt_e_oVVTBtDonD0aAv22EALw_wcB">seeking help</a>.</p> <p>The enduring resilience shown by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is deep, but not inexhaustible. All Australians should make caring for each other a focus in these complex and challenging times.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If you are experiencing distress, there are First Nations-led resources available:</em></p> <ul> <li> <p><em><a href="https://wellmob.org.au/">Wellmob</a></em></p> </li> <li> <p><em><a href="https://www.13yarn.org.au/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwx5qoBhDyARIsAPbMagCVVK7aNnqHIcZ-WPSTIf9SbgWpx9QBeCpPIJtIYUKBYazBkfNf9CYaAhaEEALw_wcB">13YARN</a></em></p> </li> <li> <p><em><a href="https://headspace.org.au/yarn-safe/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwx5qoBhDyARIsAPbMagDOgHR_7ErG-8VZkWUYYx7kSVlvgFhPxxugvdhi1VQc7sfIapTXbdIaArg8EALw_wcB">Yarn Safe</a></em><!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213372/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> </li> </ul> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacob-prehn-956034">J<em>acob Prehn</em></a><em>, Associate Dean Indigenous College of Arts, Law, and Education; Senior Lecturer - Indigenous Fellow, Social Work, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joselynn-baltra-ulloa-1470454">Joselynn Baltra-Ulloa</a>, Senior Lecturer in Social Work - School of Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-canty-1470456">Justin Canty</a>, Lecturer in Social Work - School of Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-vincent-1470455">Kate Vincent</a>, Lecturer in Social Work, Social Work Program Convenor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/milena-heinsch-348951">Milena Heinsch</a>, Professor and Head of Social Work, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>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/7-ways-to-look-after-yourself-and-your-community-before-and-after-the-voice-referendum-213372">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Feeling controlled by the chaos in your home? 4 ways to rein in clutter and stay tidy

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jamal-abarashi-1427274">Jamal Abarashi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/taghreed-hikmet-1469284">Taghreed Hikmet</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Maintaining a tidy home is a never-ending challenge. And tidiness goes beyond aesthetics – it <a href="https://theconversation.com/time-for-a-kondo-clean-out-heres-what-clutter-does-to-your-brain-and-body-109947">contributes to a person’s mental wellbeing</a>.</p> <p>So what are the best strategies for creating and maintaining order?</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263007731_Home_Sweet_Messy_Home_Managing_Symbolic_Pollution">growing body of research</a> into tidiness and <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366106749_Having_Less_A_Personal_Project_Taxonomy_of_Consumers'_Decluttering_Orientations_Motives_and_Emotions">decluttering</a>, including our own, might offer helpful insights.</p> <p>As part of our ongoing research project, we analysed popular cleaning and decluttering videos on YouTube as well thousands of the comments below them. We also conducted 18 in-depth interviews. The goal is to better understand how people create order in their homes – and how they keep it that way.</p> <p>As our research shows, sustaining tidiness is about being both systematic and adaptable.</p> <h2>Life can be the enemy of tidiness</h2> <p>From an early age, <a href="https://books.google.co.nz/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=WkrpDwAAQBAJ&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PA67&amp;dq=over+consumption++consumer+culture&amp;ots=TVTnsyV25l&amp;sig=KRmlySvvkDrkTBiGeLAAU-gqXPQ">people are primed to shop</a>.</p> <p>But this culture of shopping clashes with the desire for tidy and clutter-free homes.</p> <p>Family members with different tidiness standards and life stages can also disrupt efforts to create order.</p> <p>As one young couple said: "We’ve always wanted that really amazing organised home but we could just never really get it that way and we would feel really discouraged when we tried and then just a few days later it would just go right back to messy."</p> <p>Some interviewees described feeling like prisoners of their possessions.</p> <p>Another young couple with two kids explained: "As more children arrived and our income increased, more stuff made its way into our home. We have never been hoarders, but at some point I looked around and realised that we were spending our time and resources on acquiring stuff, cleaning and maintaining stuff, storing stuff, moving stuff out of the way to get to other stuff."</p> <p>And the very organisation systems used to maintain tidy and clutter-free homes can <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/41/3/565/2907524">contribute to disorganisation</a>.</p> <p>One professional woman we spoke with described establishing a system where every piece of clothing had a designated spot in their wardrobe based on colour, type and season. Ultimately, this became too difficult to maintain, undermining the whole approach.</p> <p>So what can be done to maintain a tidy home?</p> <h2>4 strategies for keeping your home tidy</h2> <p>Our research so far has helped us identify four key strategies to achieve long-term tidiness.</p> <p><strong>1: Simplify</strong></p> <p>To achieve lasting tidiness, you need to simplify the way you organise your home.</p> <p>This can be done by eliminating spaces or areas in your home that encourage further organisation and classification of possessions – like extra dressers or storage units.</p> <p>One retired couple we spoke with did just that.</p> <p>"We had this dresser […] that was basically always inviting more and more stuff to be put in it. So, it was always pretty hard to have the space we always wanted. Well then we got rid of the dresser […] and once we did that we really saw the space open up and it became really nice and clear."</p> <p>Fewer dedicated spaces mean fewer opportunities for clutter to accumulate, ultimately making it easier to maintain a tidy living environment.</p> <p><strong>2: Create groups</strong></p> <p>Another effective strategy for long-term tidiness is to simplify how you categorise and group things in your home.</p> <p>Replacing several small decor items with one larger one creates fewer distinct categories of things around the house, for example.</p> <p>One mother of two kids we spoke with switched out several small teddy bears in her lounge for one big one.</p> <p>A married couple we interviewed grouped smaller knickknacks onto a tray, making it easier to keep track of things and to maintain order. Having all of their knickknacks in one place also made it easier to clean.</p> <p><strong>3: Manage numbers</strong></p> <p>To sustain long-term tidiness, it’s also essential to control the total number of possessions in your home.</p> <p>This can be achieved through various methods, such as encouraging sharing among family members and friends or following the “one in, one out” rule – for every new item you bring into the house, you get rid of an old item.</p> <p>Instead of buying rarely used items, like a camping tent, you could rent it when needed.</p> <p>Another married couple we spoke with described a cluttered kitchen with multiple pots for different cooking jobs. Looking to reduce the clutter, they switched to using a multipurpose cast iron skillet – one item that can do many jobs.</p> <p>A family with two kids spoke about sharing hair products to reduce the clutter in the bathroom.</p> <p>"We used to buy a bunch of different things but now we use the same thing for our hair so the product [my husband] uses, I use. We use the same shampoo. We actually used to buy different shampoo. So basically, we just simplified our product […] this brought the products down to half and now we have so much more peace of mind and the bathroom is so much easier to maintain."</p> <p><strong>4: Adapt and evolve</strong></p> <p>Maintaining a tidy home requires flexibility and a willingness to re-evaluate and adjust your routines in response to the ever-changing circumstances of your life.</p> <p>A retired couple we interviewed spoke about the process of moving to a smaller place. This required getting rid of a lot of things and changing the way they lived to maximise the use of what remained.</p> <p>In the end, tidiness and decluttering are ongoing processes that require dedication and flexibility.</p> <p>By embracing these strategies for long-term tidiness, a person can create and maintain organised spaces that enhance their lives, fostering not only physical order but also mental clarity and peace.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212689/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 href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jamal-abarashi-1427274">Jamal Abarashi</a>, Lecturer, International Business, Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/taghreed-hikmet-1469284">Taghreed Hikmet</a>, Senior Lecturer, International Business, Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>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/feeling-controlled-by-the-chaos-in-your-home-4-ways-to-rein-in-clutter-and-stay-tidy-212689">original article</a>.</em></p>

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