Money & Banking

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Gaming or gambling: study shows almost half of loot boxes in video games constitute gambling

<div class="copy"> <p>The Australian Senate has <a href="http://trade-media.com.au/news/read/australian-senate-passes-motion-investigate-loot-boxes/">passed a motion to investigate</a> whether purchasable random rewards in video games (known colloquially as loot boxes) constitute a form of gambling and whether they are appropriate for younger players.  </p> <p>Our recent <a href="https://rdcu.be/ZXTg">paper</a>, which was cited in the senate motion, explores exactly these questions.</p> <p>We found that the loot boxes in almost half (45%) of the 22 games we analysed met the criteria to be considered psychologically similar to gambling, even though they are rated as appropriate for adolescent players under the age of consent for gambling.</p> <h2>What is a loot box?</h2> <p>Loot boxes are digital containers of randomised rewards, and are available in a number of video games.</p> <p>The box may contain rewards ranging from cosmetic items which alter the appearance of in-game characters to functional items that increase the player’s power in some way (for example a gun that fires faster or does more damage).</p> <p>In our research, we sought to answer two questions: are loot boxes like gambling and, if so, what should be done about it?</p> <p>First up, we want to clarify that video games are not evil.</p> <p>Games companies are not evil. Making money from video games is not evil.</p> <p>And playing video games with loot boxes is unlikely to result in young people flocking in great numbers to casinos.</p> <p>However, simultaneously, it may also be true that loot boxes represent a troubling and potentially inappropriate monetisation strategy, with the potential to cause short and long-term harm to some players.</p> <p>Our intent is to educate readers about loot box mechanisms, and promote a reasoned, evidence-based discussion about ethical practice in video games.</p> <p>Loot box rewards may be highly desirable or valuable (for example, a particularly valuable cosmetic item or very powerful weapon), or virtually useless and undesirable (items referred to as “vender trash”).</p> <p>Most importantly, the contents of the box are determined by chance.</p> <p>Some (but not all) loot boxes are purchasable for real money.</p> <p>In some cases, items earned from a loot box can also be “cashed out” for real world money.</p> <h2>The gambling problem</h2> <p>The problem is that spending real money on a chance outcome that results in some people “winning” and others “losing” is fundamental to gambling activities.</p> <p>Thus, we analysed the loot box features in 22 console and PC games released in 2016 and 2017, with a view to understanding how psychologically similar they were to gambling.</p> <p>We used five criteria to distinguish gambling from other risk-taking activities.</p> <p>These have been developed by Nottingham Trent University psychologist <a href="https://www.ntu.ac.uk/staff-profiles/social-sciences/mark-griffiths">Mark Griffiths</a> in his work on behavioural addictions and gambling disorders.</p> <p>To be considered psychologically similar to gambling, loot boxes must involve:</p> <ul> <li>an exchange of money or valuable goods takes place</li> <li>an unknown future event determines the exchange</li> <li>chance at least partly determining the outcome</li> <li>non-participation avoiding incurring losses</li> <li>winners gaining at the sole expense of losers.</li> </ul> <p>We took a reasonably strict interpretation of the final criterion; assuming that people only “won” if they gained some form of in-game competitive advantage (for example more powerful weapons).</p> <p>Arguably, this approach ignores the subjective value that might be created by the scarcity of, or player preference for, certain cosmetic items.</p> <p>However, it appeared to us to most closely resemble Griffiths’ intent.</p> <p>Loot boxes in just under half of the games (45%) met all five of Griffiths’ criteria and, thus, could be considered psychologically akin to gambling.</p> <p>All of the loot boxes operated on a variable ratio reinforcement schedule – a technical term for a reward given to a person on average every so many times they engage in a particular behaviour.</p> <p>This type of reward schedule results in people quickly learning new behaviours (for example buying loot boxes) and repeating them often in the hope of receiving a <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-9280.1990.tb00220.x">reward</a>.</p> <p>The strategy is effective because the next time a box is opened it might be the “big win”.  </p> <p>Perhaps most concerning was the fact that at least five of the games had mechanisms available to on-sell virtual items, allowing players to cash out their winnings (though four of these five had terms and conditions explicitly prohibiting this).</p> <p>The ability to cash out winnings is something that many consider a legal requirement for an activity to be considered gambling.</p> <p>Although the legality of loot boxes is a question for individual regulators and governments, exposure to mechanisms which closely mimic gambling in a psychological sense is concerning to us, especially since all of the games we examined were rated as appropriate for those under the age of consent for gambling.</p> <p>The short and long-term consequences of engaging with these mechanisms are unknown.</p> <p>Plausibly, short-term consequences may include overspending on loot boxes.</p> <p>The potential for long-term consequences also concerns us because males (a <a href="http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/EF2017_Design_FinalDigital.pdf">particularly large group within gamers</a>) exposed to gambling when young are particularly at <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10899-008-9088-6">risk of developing problematic gaming behaviours</a>.</p> <h2>What to do about it</h2> <p>There is cause for hope. Electronic Arts (one of the largest game studios in the world) has recently announced the <a href="https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/no-loot-boxes-anthem-1202838734/">removal of loot boxes</a> from upcoming titles.</p> <p>This suggests the games industry is taking consumer and expert feedback seriously, and may take steps to self-regulate.</p> <p>In our view, this is the optimal solution, given the diverse policy landscapes across the countries in which video games are sold.</p> <p>Where industry is not willing to self-regulate, and loot boxes are most similar to gambling, regulators may need to consider additional steps, although this should be undertaken selectively.</p> <p>Belgium and the Netherlands have <a href="https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-04-25-now-belgium-declares-loot-boxes-gambling-and-therefore-illegal">declared at least some loot boxes to be illegal</a>, while the US and UK have decided that they are <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43906306">not a form of gambling</a>.</p> <p>As noted above, the Australian Senate unanimously supported a vote on the 28th of June to refer an inquiry into the legality of loot boxes in video games to the <a href="http://trade-media.com.au/news/read/australian-senate-passes-motion-investigate-loot-boxes/">Environment and Communications References Committee</a>.</p> <p>Most importantly, we recommend that loot box mechanics should be added to content warnings to give users and parents the information they need to properly assess whether particular games are appropriate for themselves or their children.</p> <p>Ensuring that users can make well informed decisions about the appropriateness of content remains one of the strongest consumer defences.</p> <p>We hope that this work will form the basis for a well-reasoned, evidence-based policy discussion about ethical and sustainable practices in video games.</p> <p>Our intent is not to stigmatise games or gamers, but to spark a discussion about what mechanisms are and are not appropriate for particular audiences, games and the industry more broadly.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> </div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/social-sciences/gaming-or-gambling-study-shows-almost-half-of-loot-boxes-in-video-games-constitute-gambling/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and written by The Conversation.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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How maths can help you get a good deal at the bank

<div class="copy"> <p>Few people love mathematics.</p> <p>A common refrain among students is, “Why do I have to learn this stuff? When will I need it?” But having a working knowledge of the basic concepts is essential in daily life as an adult.</p> <p>We use them when counting cash, calculating mortgage payments and filling out tax returns.</p> <p>In fact, it was financial matters such as loans, interest payments and gambling that spurred the development of a lot of early mathematics.</p> <p>Negative numbers, for example, were needed to represent debt, and the mathematical rules for their use were worked out in India and the Islamic world by the 7th century.</p> <p>One money problem that was carefully analysed in the 17th century concerned compound interest – a familiar enough concept today.</p> <p>Just like modern banks, the money lenders of the day competed for customers using interest rates as incentives.</p> <p>But when making comparisons the customer always has to be careful of the small print.</p> <p>Interest rates are normally expressed on an annual basis.</p> <p>For example, a simple 5% annual interest means that $100 investment becomes $105 at the end of one year.</p> <p>But if interest is credited, say, every six months, the customer gets a higher overall annual return.</p> <p>To keep the arithmetic simple, imagine a bank that paid 100% annual interest (that would be nice!).</p> <p>If credited annually, that rate of interest would turn $100 into $200 at the end of the year.</p> <p>But if credited every six months, then $50 gets credited to the account after six months, so at the end of the year the original capital has earned $100, but the $50 credited after six months will itself earn $25 interest over the second half of the year.</p> <p>So by offering biannual compound interest, the bank would pay the customer $125 interest at the end of one year rather than $100.</p> <p>A customer who started with $100 would now have $225 in the account.</p> <p>If the interest is paid quarterly, the deal is even better, amounting to a little over $244 at the end of the year.</p> <p>The more often the interest is credited, the higher the final total.</p> <p>But it is a process of diminishing returns: the total goes up by a smaller and smaller amount the more frequently you credit the interest.</p> <p>Crediting every day would yield a bit over $271. That is to say, the original capital will have been boosted 2.71 times.</p> <p>All of which raises the question: what would be the upper limit to this compounding process?</p> <p>Mathematicians were pondering this even back in the 17th century.</p> <p>In 1683, the mathematician Jacob Bernoulli found the answer: 2.7182818… (the ellipsis indicates that this number is an unending decimal).</p> <p>It is an <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/mathematics/the-square-root-of-2">irrational number</a> and, like π<span style="font-family: inherit;">, proved to be a fundamental mathematical constant that turns up in fields as diverse as accounting, physics, engineering, statistics and probability theory. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">It is such an important number it is given a letter all its own: e. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Peruse any textbook on science, engineering or economics, and you will see the symbol e scattered throughout. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">It is most often used in connection with “exponential growth” – a term that has entered the popular lexicon, though it is often misused. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The correct meaning refers to a specific type of rapid, runaway growth in which a quantity doubles in a fixed time, and then doubles again, and again, ad infinitum. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The population of bacteria in a dish, for example, will increase exponentially if their growth is unrestrained. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;"> One familiar example of exponential growth is Moore’s Law, named after Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">After noticing in 1965 that the size of transistors was rapidly shrinking, which meant more of them could fit onto a computer chip, he predicted that processing power would double roughly every two years (and the price would drop by half). </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Remarkably, this exponential growth has remained more or less consistent for several decades, though nobody expects it to go on forever. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">And e makes a surprise appearance in less obvious places, too. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">My favourite example is e’s application to the secretary problem. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Imagine there are 100 applicants </span><span style="font-family: inherit;">to be randomly interviewed </span><span style="font-family: inherit;">for a secretarial job. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">At the end of each interview, the interviewer must give the applicant an irrevocable decision as to whether they’ve got the job. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">It would be risky to see them all, dismissing the first 99, because the 100th interviewee would have to be given the job regardless of quality.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The conundrum is this: to maximise the probability of getting the best candidate, how many should be interviewed before selecting the first remaining candidate who trumps the ones already seen? </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">It turns out the answer is 100/e, or about 37. This result is worth remembering by people who like to play the dating game methodically. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">So mathematical knowledge isn’t just useful at tax time. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Perhaps if more people knew maths could help them find love, more would be willing to embrace it.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-family: inherit;">Image credit: Shutterstock</span><span style="font-family: inherit;"></span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-family: inherit;">This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/mathematics/explore-the-potential-of-exponential-growth/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> by Paul Davies. </span></em></p> </div>

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Sam Burgess' huge SAS Australia salary revealed

<p><em>Image: SAS Australia </em></p> <p>The massive range of salaries for the 2021 SAS Australia cast have been revealed.</p> <p>According to The Daily Telegraph on Sunday, former footballer Sam Burgess has the highest pay day, earning between $150,000 and $200,000 for his appearance on the brutal program, the paper claims.</p> <p>Next in line is tennis player Mark Philippoussis, 44, who is said to be earning $100,000.</p> <p>Model Erin Holland, 32, is earning between $60,000 and $80,000 while footballer Heath Shaw, 35, actress Isabelle Cornish, 27, and athlete John Steffensen, 39, tennis player Alicia Molik, 38, are on around the same amount.</p> <p>In the next rung, singer Pete Murrary, 51, athlete Jana Pittmann, 38, actor Dan Ewing, 36, runner Jessica Peris, 31, ironman Jett Kenny, 27, volleyball player Kerri Pottharst, 56, and socialite Brynne Edelsten are estimated to be being paid between $50,000 and $70,000.</p> <p>Bringing in a little less is former pro surfer Koby Abberton, 42, who is getting between $50,000 and $60,000.</p> <p>At the very bottom of the ladder is former Australian Labor Party member Emma Husar, 41, who is earning just $25,000.</p> <p>Meanwhile Manu Feildel, 47, will go without a pay day because his appearance is likely part of his contract at Channel Seven.</p> <p>This comes after news that retired cricketer Michael Clarke ‘pulled out’ of the next season of SAS Australia due to a back injury.</p> <p>Reportedly, the 40-year-old backed out of the Channel Seven Show shortly after the premiere of the current season.</p> <p>The Daily Telegraph reported that Clarke initially signed up for the military-style show with a $750,000 asking fee and had already signed a contract.</p> <p>Season three is due to begin filming in just weeks, but Clarke, who has suffered chronic back pain throughout his sporting career, pulled the pin after seeking medical advice and treatment.</p>

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7 signs you’re a shopping addict

<p>Online shopping is a huge help for many people, especially in lockdown. </p> <p>But, with online shopping rates sky rocketing, here are some tips on how to identify a shopping addiction.</p> <p><strong>1. Spending hours a day scrolling through online shops/apps</strong></p> <p><span>Apps have made it easier than ever to access a worldwide wardrobe at the click of a button. </span></p> <p><span>As great as this can be for retailers and those always on the go, for those struggling with shopping addiction, this can be extremely detrimental as it has never been easier to instantly feed your shopping habit.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Spending more than you can afford</strong></p> <p>This is a common issue for those suffering from an addiction.</p> <p>An addiction can lead to a feeling of lack of control, and this can include the amount we spend.</p> <p>Much like gambling addiction, shopping addiction can have a hugely negative impact on our finances.</p> <p>If you find that you can relate to this and feel overwhelmed about what to do next, please do reach out for professional help and do not feel afraid of being judged.</p> <p>You can quickly find yourself dipping into savings, remortgaging your home and even in some cases borrowing or stealing from partners/family or friends to fund the addiction.</p> <p><strong>3. Feeling a loss of control</strong></p> <p>For those with an addiction, repeating the unhealthy action can sometimes feel like the only way they can regain control of their lives.</p> <p>As we know, it is hard to step out of this unhealthy cycle.</p> <p>With shopping addiction, placing an order is the only way some people may feel like they can feel in control for a brief period of time.</p> <p>It is important to try to remember that this feeling of control will fade again and breaking a cycle like this is important for our mental health.</p> <p><strong>4. The urge to shop when you feel upset or angry</strong></p> <p>If you find you have the urge to shop more when you are going through periods of feeling upset or angry, this may be a sign of a shopping addiction.</p> <p>Again, this is a form of trying to gain back control or take your mind off the topic that has upset or angered you.</p> <p>For any ongoing depressive moods or mood swings, we would always recommend seeking advice from your healthcare provider – or alternatively from mental health services who will be able to give you advice on how best to tackle these feelings in a healthier way.</p> <p><strong>5. Euphoric type rushes</strong></p> <p>Do you ever get a feeling of exhilaration and/or anxiety whenever you place an order?</p> <p>We have all got excited now and again about an order—but if shopping gives you an intense rush (as if you have just been on a rollercoaster) every time, then this may be a sign of addiction.</p> <p>Euphoric rushes are caused by surges of the brain chemical dopamine.</p> <p>Much like a drug addiction, the brain will produce less dopamine each time as it gets used to the activity.</p> <p>However, the body then craves the exhilarating feeling and therefore people can feel like they need to increase the amount they spend, or number of orders they place, in order to get the highs they are craving.</p> <p><strong>6. Buying so much that you own many items never worn or used</strong></p> <p>If you find many items you have bought still have their labels on them, it may be time to think about how much you are shopping.</p> <p>We are all guilty of having items in our wardrobe we swore we were going to wear on the right occasion.</p> <p>However, if there are more than a few items in your wardrobe or in storage that you have not seen or touched since buying them then consider this before buying anything else.</p> <p><strong>7. Shopping in bed when you should be asleep</strong></p> <p>Many people with addiction struggle to switch off. At night, those with an online shopping addiction can find themselves unable to sleep and reaching for their phones, and specifically their shopping apps, for comfort.</p> <p>Those with an online shopping addiction may find themselves more prone to shop on an evening or when they’re in bed with nothing else to do or concentrate on.</p> <p>If you do relate to this then many can find that doing calm exercises such as yoga before bed can help relax the body.</p> <p>We would also recommend turning off your phone or leaving it in another room for the night so you are less tempted to reach for it.</p> <p>Further tips from the experts to curb the urge</p> <ul> <li>Take your shopping apps off of your phones main home screen, or remove them from your phone completely</li> <li>Monitor the amount of time you spend scrolling for clothes and other items</li> <li>Understand it is not the norm to have the same amount of clothes as influencers – most of these clothes/items get sent back to the brands</li> <li>If you need some motivation to shop less, remember the less items we buy, the better for the environment. Consider donating items you haven’t used or worn to charity, or donating the money you would otherwise spend towards a charity to offset your carbon footprint.</li> </ul> <p>Most importantly, if you feel you are struggling with a shopping addiction, do not play this down.</p> <p>Do reach out to friends and loved ones who may be able to help and make sure to reach out to mental health professionals.</p> <p>Shopping addiction generally masks underlying issues of stress that may manifest into another addiction if you do not shop.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article was first published for <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/7-signs-youre-a-shopping-addict" target="_blank">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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How to save money by buying second-hand

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Melbourne woman Tamara DiMattina has become a self-proclaimed expert at finding bargains at second-hand stores. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tamara, who is the founder of the lifestyle program </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The New Joneses</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, perfected the art while working at a high-end auction house in London. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The savvy shopper discovered the wonder of op-shopping when her profession required her to look the part, which seemed out of reach due to her low salary. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tamara now considers her love of op-shopping as a lifestyle choice which has allowed her to pay off her mortgage quicker, while buying better for less. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If people can get over thinking: ‘It’s second-hand, it’s not as good,’ then they can get fantastic deals, and afford that fantastic quality,” she said to </span><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/the-new-joneses-tamara-dimattina-shows-how-buying-second-hand-saves-money/news-story/65e6801865810dbc8839a049a2add6e0"><span style="font-weight: 400;">news.com.au.</span></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“That’s how I live my life. I buy everything second-hand and I’m always buying beautiful quality things.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It means I’m saving money on pretty much every purchase I make, and that money then goes against my mortgage.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tamara has scored a range of bargains from shopping second-hand, including </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">$60 fully-functional speakers that retail for $150, and paying $800 for a Thermomix, which cost considerably less than its $2000-plus RRP.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She believes that it’s important for people to re-frame how they view op-shopping, and realise it is not only the more sustainable choice, but it enables shoppers to buy higher end products that may have been previously out of reach. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think it’s really important to understand that this is a fantastic opportunity to get great stuff at a much reduced rate.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“(Buying second-hand) doesn’t mean it’s no longer good, it just means that person doesn’t need that anymore,” she says. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For example, I’ve never bought a new iPhone, I always buy a second-hand iPhone. It might mean I’m a few generations behind the latest model, but I don’t need the latest and I save a huge amount of money.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some of the things Tamara can easily find during her op-shopping ventures are high quality kitchenware and appliances, as well as furniture that just needs a clean and good home. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tamara has also utilised Facebook marketplace to find pre-loved treasures, and has also found items for free which comes with a true sense of accomplishment. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I don’t waste money buying excessively,” she says. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I get this extreme pride and joy in going, ‘Wow look at this and it only cost me this much’ but not in a way that says I think cheaper is better.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Shutterstock / Florence Guild Youtube</span></em></p>

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Sneaky twist in Olympic medallists' $20k bonus

<p>Australian athletes who won a medal at the Olympics or Paralympics in Tokyo this year are about to receive a major monetary bonus – but there is one catch.</p> <p>Australian athletes who finished on the podium at the Olympics in Tokyo will not receive the bonus of $20,000 if they retire after the Games.</p> <p>The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) gives a $20,000 cash bonus to Olympic gold medallists, while silver medallists and bronze medallists take home $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.</p> <p>The AOC has confirmed it will not give money to any athletes who are retiring after the Games – all for one exception. If the athlete is a Paralympian and they retire after the Games, they will still receive the bonus.</p> <p><strong>Medal Incentive Funding from AOC</strong></p> <p>The Medal Incentive Funding (MIF) is entirely funded by the AOC and is independent of the federal government.</p> <p>Set up as an annual athlete incentive scheme, an AOC statement says: ‘MIF aims to incentivise athletes to continue training, with the goal of representing Australia at the next Olympic Games, summer and winter,’</p> <p>The AOC statement explains the MIF is not available to athletes who stop competing at an elite level.</p> <p>‘Athletes must maintain appropriate training regimes with the intention of gaining national selection in the following year in order to receive the payment,’ the statement explains.</p> <p><strong>This rule does not apply to Australia’s Paralympians</strong></p> <p>However, this rule will not apply to Australia’s Paralympians.</p> <p>Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said: “Every Australian Paralympian who received a medal for their performance at the Tokyo Games will receive a bonus payment.”</p> <p>“This includes any athlete who is planning to retire,” he added.</p> <p>Only last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia’s Paralympic medallists will for the first time receive equivalent bonus payments to their Olympic counterparts.</p> <p>Speaking before the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister said the move recognised the “national significance” of the Paralympic team.</p> <p>Prior to Mr Morrison’s announcement, the Paralympic athletes did not receive any monetary bonuses for winning medals.</p> <p>This year’s Paralympics featured more than 4500 athletes representing 163 different countries.</p> <p>Australia finished seventh on the Tokyo Paralympic Games medal tally with 21 gold, 29 silver and 30 gold medals.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Outsourcing unpleasant tasks makes you happier

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>Paying someone to help out with odd jobs is on the rise through apps like AirTasker, and new research suggests this behaviour could lead to a happier life.</p> <p>A research team from Canada, the UK and the Netherlands conducted a global study of more than 6000 people, and found a correlation between happiness and procuring paid help with their least favourite daily jobs, such as cleaning and cooking.</p> <p>“Around the world, increases in wealth have produced an unintended consequence: a rising sense of time scarcity,” the researchers write in their paper, <a href="http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1706541114">published in the journal </a><a href="http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1706541114">PNAS</a>.</p> <p>“We provide evidence that using money to buy time can provide a buffer against this time famine, thereby promoting happiness.”</p> <p>The research team, led by Ashley Whillans at Harvard University, focused on increasing levels of time stress in developed countries.</p> <p>Research says time scarcity, which is on the rise in many countries, can be linked to higher anxiety, reduced happiness, insomnia and even obesity in individuals. </p> <p>The team wanted to investigate whether using a portion of income to “buy free time” – for example, paying someone to do household chores like cooking, cleaning and shopping – could potentially decrease the effects of these feelings of “time famine”.</p> <p>The surveyed participants included a mix of everyday workers and millionaires living in the USA, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands.</p> <p>The survey recorded how much money each participant spent each month on delegating unenjoyable everyday tasks, as well as reporting on each individual’s overall life satisfaction.</p> <p>Across all four countries, and across a range of demographics and income brackets, buying time was linked to greater life satisfaction.</p> <p>The researchers suggest the link could point to a greater sense of perceived control, however spending too much money on services and tasks could have the reverse effect, giving an individual the sense they can’t manage their own life tasks, and therefore reducing their happiness.</p> <p>These results are particularly relevant in discussions of gender-based labour division in the home, the researchers say.</p> <p>“Within many cultures, women may feel obligated to complete household tasks themselves, working a ‘second-shift’ at home, even when they can afford to pay someone to help.</p> <p>“In recent decades, women have made gains, such as improved access to education, but their life satisfaction has declined; increasing uptake of timesaving services may provide a pathway toward reducing the harmful effects of women’s second-shift.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <em><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=17061&amp;title=Outsourcing+unpleasant+tasks+makes+you+happier" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/outsourcing-unpleasant-tasks-scientifically-proven-to-make-you-happier/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Amy Middleton.</em></p> </div> </div>

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Napoleon Bonaparte’s iconic hat showcased for auction

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A newly discovered hat that once belonged to European statesman and general Napoleon Bonaparte has been showcased at an auction house in Hong Kong. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The hat contains DNA of the esteemed general, proving it was once in his possession. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Described by Bonhams auction house as the “first hat to bear the emperor’s DNA”, the item is currently on display in Hong Kong, before it will be relocated to Paris for a showing and then passed on to London, where it will be auctioned off. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The hat is one of the most iconic images of Napoleon’s reign during the French Revolution, and a highly sought after item for history buffs and collectors of unique items.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Napoleon’s hat was bought by its current owner at a small auction house in Germany, with the owner not realising that it once belonged to the emperor. </span></p> <p><br /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7843847/napoleon-hat.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c67f28fc696e47899a509c07949bbc0a" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Bonhams Auctions</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was purely a chance encounter," said Simon Cottle, managing director for Bonhams Europe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The buyer became interested in the hat when he realised it had unique inscriptions and other unusual characteristics that suggested it could have belonged to Napoleon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The hat was then extensively tested using various methods, which recovered five hairs that carried the General’s DNA. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most other Napoleon collectors' items were handed down by noble families or from soldiers who picked them up off the battlefield, whereas this hat holds a very different story. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The estimated price for the hat is currently between $185,000 and $270,000 with interested buyers remaining skeptical of that hat’s authenticity. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other Napoleon items that have gone through global auction circuits have been sold for as much as $3.3million. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Getty Images/Bonhams Auctions</span></em></p>

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Woolies employee reveals unknown self-serve checkout hack

<p><span>One Woolworths employee has shown those who struggle with self-serve checkout one easy hack to get you sorted.</span><br /><br /><span>A new clip shared to TikTok by the official Woolworths page, has shared with shoppers a simple way to stop calling for assistance at self-serve checkouts when scanning and bagging items.</span><br /><br /><span>However, followers of the page were more excited to see the employee sharing the hack, rather than the hack itself.</span><br /><br /><span>Woolworths' staffer Liam Kirley shot to fame on TikTok after his in-store videos went viral.</span><br /><br /><span>In the video, Liam shows himself lining up the items to be packed in a single bag before scanning.</span><br /><br /><span>"Press I've got a bag on the machine, then place the bag in the bagging area," he said.</span><br /><br /><span>"Then place all the items you want in that bag on the parcel shelf.</span><br /><br /><span>“Then do something called a power slide, you slide items across and the barcodes will scan easier."</span><br /><br /><span>He shared that the green light will let you know when it's time to scan another item and when you can move your bag.</span><br /><br /><span>Liam also revealed that pressing the new bag button on the bottom left-hand side of the screen will make it easier to start the process again with a new bag.</span><br /><br /><span>The clip also shows shoppers how to scan heavy items without lugging them onto the bagging area or calling staff for help.</span><br /><br /><span>"If you've got a bag item like the water, tap the heavy miscellaneous and then tap the item you want in," he shared.</span><br /><br /><span>Liam rose to stardom on TikTok, by sharing simple secrets for the supermarket.</span></p> <p><img id="__mcenew" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7843801/woolies-checkout.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/7cc9747b7b0d44038f29d4649ff80cc2" /><br /><br /><span>His viral videos have gained him more than 150,000 followers and seven million likes.</span><br /><br /><span>Now, Liam says he will be running the new Woolworths account, as a content coordinator.</span><br /><br /><span>Woolies launched their new account on TikTok during the week and delves to share recipe ideas, cooking hacks from food experts, shopping tips and sneak peeks into new stores.</span><br /><br /><span>“We are pleased to be launching on TikTok and to give customers an even closer look at what it means to be Today’s Fresh Food People," Woolworths Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Hicks said.</span><br /><br /><span>“TikTok is a great platform to share content and we hope can help make customers’ shopping easier through simple and fun tips and insights.</span><br /><br /><span>“In planning the launch on TikTok, it was important we had an authentic voice of our team that would resonate with the channel's audience.</span><br /><br /><span>"We’re excited to have Liam bring that same authenticity across a range of content to inspire our customers.”</span></p>

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Rich feelings: better or worse?

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>It’s the age-old question: we all want money, but does it <a href="https://medium.com/@natalie.parletta/money-doesnt-bring-happiness-yet-we-keep-spending-ef0faf3047fb">make us happy</a>? Invariably, the answer is nuanced but some consistent themes have emerged.</p> <p>Researchers have pooled data on the relationship between money and emotions from more than 1.6 million people across 162 countries and found that wealthier people feel more positive “self-regard emotions” such as confidence, pride and determination.</p> <p>People with lower incomes, on the other hand, had more negative emotions towards themselves such as anxiety, sadness and shame, reports the study <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000933">published</a> in the journal <em>Emotion</em>. </p> <p>Perhaps not surprisingly, having a greater sense of control mediated those feelings – in other words, people with more wealth and higher positive self-regard also felt more in control of their life’s direction and ability to surmount obstacles. </p> <p>These results held true across high-income and developing countries.</p> <p>But wait – there’s more to it.</p> <p>When it comes to feelings people have towards others – such as love, anger, gratitude and compassion – the findings aren’t so clear-cut: there wasn’t a consistent link between these emotions and income. </p> <p>“Having more money doesn’t necessarily make a person more compassionate and grateful, and greater wealth may not contribute to building a more caring and tolerant society,” says lead author Eddie Tong, from the National University of Singapore.</p> <p>Happiness and other global emotions also had no consistent relationship with income across countries, so the jury is still out on that one – clearly other factors are at play.</p> <p>It’s important to note that the study, based on five large data sets, is correlational – although notably, longitudinal analyses of US data showed that income predicted self-regard emotions over time.</p> <p>The relationships were relatively small so the true picture is more complex. But the authors note that “some small effects may accumulate into practically significant effects in real life over time.</p> <p>“The findings here may thus have substantial real-world relevance, at both individual and societal levels.”</p> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=141200&amp;title=Rich+feelings%3A+better+or+worse%3F" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></div> <div id="contributors"> <p>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/rich-feelings-better-or-worse/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Natalie Parletta. </p> </div> </div>

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Marriage doesn’t cure reckless spending

<p><span style="font-family: inherit;">People who tend to splash their cash are unlikely to become more prudent after marriage, new research shows.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Hisaki Kono from Japan’s Kyoto University and Tomomi Tanaka of the World Bank in Washington DC, US, studied 134 married couples in a middle-class area in Vietnam to see if spendthrift behaviour before marriage was moderated after getting hitched.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The answer, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217646">published</a> in the journal PLOS One, is a resounding “not really”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The habit of splurging on impulse purchases is known in the jargon as “present bias”, defined by Kono and Tanaka as “the overvaluation of an immediate payoff”. It is a habit that often results in both short- and long-term problems, because it negatively impacts household budgets and savings bases. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">To test whether being married reduced present bias behaviour, the researchers interviewed all the husbands and wives individually, and asked them, as couples, to participate in a series of experiments that required them to make decisions about the allocation of imaginary funds. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">On the good news side of the ledger, the results showed that spendthrifty partners were less likely to be swayed by present bias when making joint financial decisions than when asked to make decisions on their own.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">However, present biased spouses were also likely to contribute smaller sums from their income for combined household spending. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">In situations where the profligate partner was in charge of the financial planning – something that occurred unexpectedly often – the more prudent partner was likely to be asked to put a higher proportion of income into the common pot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“Present-biased individuals also receive larger amounts of money from their spouses’ incomes, indicating that marriage not only fails to function as a savings commitment device but also exacerbates the problem,” the researchers write.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">They also noted that when prudent partners were in charge of finances, they tended to allocate only small amounts of spending money to their spouses – but that the recipients also tended to “conceal money to counteract this strategy”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The researchers tentatively suggest that in at least some partnerships unequal spending between partners was tolerated because of “the affection and acceptance that form the basis of marriage”, and because the union brought other, non-financial benefits, such as emotional support and protection.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">It is perhaps not surprising, however, that Kono and Tanaka found that women were more likely than men to be disadvantaged by a present-biased partner – and that they were therefore more likely to use external money-management strategies such as talking to financial advisers and locking funds up in savings accounts.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-family: inherit;">Image credit: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-family: inherit;">This article first appeared on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/marriage-doesnt-cure-reckless-spending-researchers-find/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Andrew Masterson.</span></em></p>

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"I live in my friggen car": Aussie battler hailed as "caller of the year"

<div id="application" class="application ">An Aussie battler called Mark rang Rafael Epstein's ABC Drive show on Thursday night, revealing he is living in his car after losing his home due to the ongoing pandemic.</div> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post-body-container"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>He pleaded with politicians to stop saying Australians are “all in this together.”</p> <p>The ABC host Rafael Epstein cut the man off, prompting concerned listeners to offer to give him money.</p> <p>Mark delivered a searing slap down to those with safe and secure jobs on the ABC - and listeners are already dubbing him the 'caller of the year'.</p> <p>Giving his name only as Mark, the Victorian called in to ABC Drive with Rafael Epstein on Thursday to deliver an emotion-charged tirade.</p> <p><strong>We’re not ‘all in this together’</strong></p> <p>“I keep hearing on the ABC ‘we're all in this together’, we're not,” said Mark. “We're not in this together,” he said of the COVID lockdowns gripping millions of Australians.</p> <p>“The only time I actually want to hear that is when a politician or member of the media says: ‘I'll give half my salary to someone who just lost their house’, but we're never going to hear that are we?”</p> <p>Mark pointed out this unequal burden on workers, adding the radio host still makes his normal salary - while tens of thousands of ordinary, working Australians are losing money and unable to work.</p> <p>“And then we get the ABC, and I'm quite sure you guys aren't losing any money,” he said.</p> <p>'Of course you're not, and you're earning big dollar,” Mark added. “It's an insult to hear ‘we're all in this together’. Because the simple fact of life is, life is not equal…</p> <p>“We've got people losing their jobs, but we don't hear about the houses they're losing, rental or mortgage... and marriages.”</p> <p>“Please, please just tell everyone in the ABC and everywhere else - stop saying it,” he added.</p> <p>“There's enough stress, I live in my bloody car now, I live in my friggen car. I've lost everything,” Mark said.</p> <p><strong>9-5 office workers have fared well in lockdown</strong></p> <p>For those people working at 9-5 office jobs which can easily be done from home, lockdown has not been too difficult from a work perspective. But for other workers, the pandemic has proved to be a nightmare.</p> <p>Thousands of workers have lost their jobs or some of their shifts because businesses and trades have shut down.</p> <p>Mark explained he usually works along the border between Victoria and New South Wales and this has been difficult. He ended up losing his work and then his home.</p> <p><strong>Epstein cut off Mark, fearing he would swear</strong></p> <p>Mark then became emotional and Epstein cut him off - a decision he blamed on fearing Mark would swear.</p> <p>”I can hear how angry you are and you're allowed to be angry,” Epstein said as he turned down Mark's microphone.</p> <p>“We'll have a word, if we're able to have another word to you we will…No doubt the anger is real. I try to say often the burden is not born equally,” Epstein said.</p> <p>The ABC radio host then tried to move on with the show but he was inundated with calls forcing him to revisit Mark's story.</p> <p><strong>Support for Mark flooded in to the radio station</strong></p> <p>“In response to Mark, some calling him caller of the year, I will repeat I've spoken up and down about the burden not being felt equally,” the ABC Radio host said.</p> <p>“People are saying ‘let him vent, at least he's not being abusive’. There was potential for swearing and to be honest I wasn't sure the conversation would be good for Mark going forward,” he said.</p> <p>Epstein said he then attempted to get Mark back on the line during a break but he’d “hung up”.</p> <p>Epstein brought up Mark's call later in the show, reading out messages of support from listeners who have even offered to give him money.</p> <p>“Messages flooding in; ‘He is 100 per cent correct’,” Esptein says of a listener.</p> <p>“A ton of you are expressing concern about Mark. I don't have a way of contacting Mark.</p> <p>“I'm not going to apologise on fading Mark out at that point. That's my job, to work out whether someone is appropriate and safe to go to air.</p> <p>“Some of you are wanting to put money in his bank account, if Mark wants to call back I'm happy to have him on the radio, but I made that call, I'll stand by it and I'd do it again,” he added.</p> <p><strong>Lockdowns meant to ease from October</strong></p> <p>Lockdowns are meant to unwind from October when 70 per cent of the population aged 16 and over was fully vaccinated.</p> <p>Despite this, some ABC personalities have ridiculed the idea of opening up with ABC Radio 702 broadcaster Wendy Harmer mocking the vaccination target because it didn't come with a specific date recently on Twitter.</p> <p>'Um, PM hopes Phase B achieved by the end of the year but “we're not going to put timetables on it.” That's EXACTLY how you win Olympic Gold!’ she posted.</p> <p>The Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated more than one million Australians lost their job within the first two months of the pandemic last year.</p> <p>With pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops shut in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, millions have been forced to rely on government handouts to pay the bills.</p> <p>Many businesses are on hold in Victoria and New South Wales due to ongoing battles with the Delta strain.</p> <p>There are a number of federal and state government disaster relief and extreme hardship payments being offered - but for many people who are supporting families, it hasn't been enough.</p> <p><em>Image: ABC Radio</em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Aussie Olympians receive hefty bonuses from billionaire Harry Triguboff

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Australian athletes who took home medals from the Tokyo Olympics are set to receive an additional bonus from billionaire Harry Triguboff AO, with athletes to be awarded an extra $5,000 per medal they won.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) revealed that Triguboff, the Meriton Managing Director, donated $645,000 to the organisation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The AOC said the donation was an “unsolicited gesture” and “unexpected bonus” for Australia’s top athletes.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Thank you Harry Triguboff AO! 👉<a href="https://t.co/TXDlTlqTGv">https://t.co/TXDlTlqTGv</a><br /><br />The <a href="https://twitter.com/MeritonGroup?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MeritonGroup</a> Managing Director has donated $5,000 to each of the 99 Australian Olympic Team members who won 129 medals at the Tokyo Olympics. 🥇🥈🥉<br /><br />📸 Sam Ruttyn / <a href="https://twitter.com/dailytelegraph?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dailytelegraph</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoTogether?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoTogether</a> <a href="https://t.co/7Ou2CI44aw">pic.twitter.com/7Ou2CI44aw</a></p> — AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) <a href="https://twitter.com/AUSOlympicTeam/status/1433379955094790148?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 2, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Harry is hugely proud of what our team achieved in Tokyo, and for him to say ‘thank you’ in this way is hugely generous and most unexpected,” AOC President John Coates said in a statement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The donation is per medal, so for those Olympians whose efforts were rewarded with multiple medals, it will make coming home to family and friends all the sweeter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“On behalf of the AOC, and in particular our 99 medal winners, we say thank you Harry.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Triguboff, who has a fortune of $17.27 billion, stressed the importance of rewarding athletes during the pandemic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We are always successful at the Olympic Games. However, this time it was especially important because we are close to recession and many people have been impacted by the virus,” Triguboff said, per the AOC.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The medallists in Tokyo made us all very happy and we were glued to the television and were only thinking of our athletes during this difficult time.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The news comes as pay disparities between Olympic and Paralympic athletes have come into the spotlight, with a SBS report revealing that Paralympians do not and have ever received the same performance bonus.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">The superhumans get nothing??? That’s a disgrace. <br />“Australian Olympians who won gold at the Tokyo Games received $20,000. Our Paralympians will get zero” <a href="https://t.co/OCd93DzXIW">https://t.co/OCd93DzXIW</a></p> — 🩴 Annie Parker 🩴 #SmashThePatriarchy #FullyVaxed (@annie_parker) <a href="https://twitter.com/annie_parker/status/1431553390706925573?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Prime Minister Scott Morrison has since announced that Paralympic athletes who win medals at the Games would receive the same bonuses as Olympic athletes from now on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gold medal winners will receive $20,000, while silver and bronze medallists will be awarded $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: AUS Olympic Team / Twitter</span></em></p>

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Why kindness through a divorce is so important

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The general public perception of divorce is hatred, animosity, resentment and bitterness. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Difficult separation proceedings can often negatively impact the outcomes of the separation, as well as individuals health and wellbeing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, there are more peaceful ways to amicably end a relationship and go your separate ways as equals. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Family lawyer, mediator and divorce guide </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kirsty Salvestro has had experience with divorced couples since her parents separated when she was a child. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kirsty says the key to recalibrating how we think of divorce is kindness. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She says, “We really need to focus on resolving the pain and hurt, to focus on good behaviour, strong morals, and kind actions. It is hard, but we can do it.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While this can often be a challenge when separating from someone, there are steps to help achieve this amicable divorce. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kirsty believes that step one is redefining the cause of the separation. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Divorce should be seen as the acceptance and acknowledgment of a shared problem that needs to be solved. We need not immediately declare war to resolve that problem, what we need to do is work together to create the best solution.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She says that the most important thing is treating your partner with kindness, without feeling the need to be overflowing with love and affection. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This means choosing a kind and calm response rather than a hurtful and inflammatory one. The kindest response may be to do nothing at all.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kirsty also believes in the importance of not taking any drastic actions that could exacerbate an already fragile situation. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Instead, partners need to be understanding of each other’s individual needs and allow each other their space during this difficult time. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is also an important need for a dedicated support system during a separation, to help both parties reach a resolution. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are studies that show how showing kindness and selflessness can enrich your life and the life of those around you, which can be a valuable tool in a separation. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kirsty Salvestro’s book </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">What Are We Fighting For? A Peaceful Pathway for Separating Couples</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is available now. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Shutterstock</span></em></p>

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How can you find out what your car is worth?

<p>When it’s time to upgrade our car, we need to find out what our current vehicle is worth. But what’s the best way to do that?</p> <p>Whether we like it or not, our cars are always depreciating. From the moment we sign the papers and hand over our money for a new car, the dollar value of that vehicle goes down with time.</p> <p>So, if you feel it’s time to upgrade your car, how do you find out its market value?</p> <p><strong>The easiest way to do a car market value check is through car websites with a car market value calculator. You could also browse car sales listings to see how much other people are selling or willing to buy the same model for. </strong></p> <p>Whatever method you use, it’s essential to understand that your <strong>car’s market value</strong> is only a rough indicator. Your car has its own amount of damage – you may have a slight ding here or there – and it also depends how old your car is and how well you’ve serviced it over the years.</p> <p>So, if you’re planning to sell your car online, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the same dollar amount that other cars of the same model and year have been advertised for.</p> <p>Here’s a bit more information on how to get as close as possible to what is the value of your car and what price you should advertise it for.</p> <p><strong>Using Google is a useful method</strong></p> <p>These days, all you have to do is Google the term ‘What is my car market value?’ to find a long list of helpful websites. From there, find one that has a <strong>car market value calculator</strong>. These calculators are databases which help you find the information you need based on the car brand, model, and manufacturing year.</p> <p>One well-known website which has been around for a long time is Redbook and they do car valuations for a small amount. They ask for a lot of detail including if you’ve had any accidents, how many kilometres the car’s done etc.</p> <p>Again, remember when you get these valuations, they are still mainly indicators. But these give you a good idea of the price range your car should be in.</p> <p><strong>Also check your car sales listings</strong></p> <p>Another way to get an understanding of your car's market value is to check car sales listings. As you might already know, there are plenty of websites in Australia and beyond which allow people to put their cars up for sale.</p> <p>Using this method, you will need to do some 'detective work' to check your car market value. So, browse these car sales websites and look for any cars which match your vehicle’s brand, model, and manufacturing year. See if you can find one that’s close to the same condition as yours as well.</p> <p>From there, find out how much the sellers are putting their cars up for. Firstly, those prices act as valuable indicators of your car’s market value. But more importantly, it’ll also show you how much the market is willing to pay for a vehicle like yours.</p> <p>With this kind of approach, your <strong>car market value check</strong> isn’t just about finding out indicators. It’s also helpful because it gives you a clear sense of how much money you could realistically get from potential buyers.</p> <p><strong>Finally, good luck!</strong></p> <p>Working out what your car is worth is not easy and it is always open to different opinions. For example, in one state of Australia a certain car could be worth more than in another state.</p> <p>But if you follow the steps we've talked about, you'll get a very good idea of what you can expect to sell your car for. The next step is to list it on an online car sales site and see if you can sell it for as close as possible to the price you've valued it at.</p> <p>There's always and element of luck to this part because it depends if you find a buyer who really wants your car - the brand, the model etc. So, good luck!</p> <p><em>Photo: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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The surprising road rule you never knew about that can cost you

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many drivers are aware of the hefty fines that come from travelling over the speed limit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, most don’t know that there is a harsh punishment for driving too slow! </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the strict rules, there is no specific minimum speed publicly available for Aussies to follow on the roads. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Due to the lack of clarity, police tend to decide if a motorist is driving too slow if they are obstructing the safe movement of other drivers or pedestrians. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Based on their locations and circumstances, they can then be dealt with under part 2 of Rule 125 of the Australian Road Rules, which is applied across all states and territories.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It falls under the category of “unreasonably obstructing drivers or pedestrians”, with the rules stating that “a driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or a pedestrian”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">No specific speed is listed, but an example is provided, of driving 20km/h in an 80km/h zone when there is no reason to do so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are exceptions to the rule, which include being stopped in traffic, and if the driver is driving more slowly than other vehicles around them. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Those who are pinched by the rule won’t receive any demerit points, but can be dealt large fines based on each state’s laws. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In NSW, the fine stands at $272, compared with $364 in Victoria, $137 in Queensland, $219 in South Australia, $100 in WA, $130 in Tasmania, $193 in the ACT and $157 in the Northern Territory.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Shutterstock</span></em></p>

Money & Banking

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Banking tips we can all use

<p>We all use banks most of the time and knowing how to spend or save your money wisely can be tough. While you may be able to do your banking with just a few taps on your phone, managing money well is much more complicated. Here are a few tips to help you get started.</p> <p><strong>1. Budget using an app or a website to help</strong></p> <p>Tracking how much you spend weekly and monthly shows you where your money goes and how you can save more. You can use a budgeting app to tracks your cash automatically. Choose an app that lets you spend as little or as much time on budgeting as you want. From there, you can identify your total fixed expenses, such as rent and car payments, and more flexible costs such as shopping and dining out. You can use the <a href="mailto:https://moneysmart.gov.au/budgeting/how-to-do-a-budget">Moneysmart website</a> which has a lot of free advice as well.</p> <p><strong>2. Set up automatic transfers to your savings</strong></p> <p>When you have a rough idea of how much you can save regularly, create a recurring transfer from your checking account to a savings account. By making savings automatic, you can get used to spending ‘below your means’ and never have to worry about remembering to transfer. It’s also good to set up automatic transfers to savings accounts which reward you for a monthly increase by a higher interest rate, so set this up.</p> <p><strong>3. Avoid overdrawing your accounts</strong></p> <p>Before you pay rent or spend any other big chunk of money, take a look at your account’s available balance. This can prevent you from spending more than you have in your account because if you overdraw, you may be charged a fee. If you get a number of these, they all add up.</p> <p><strong>4. Establish credit</strong></p> <p>Loans and credit cards can help you build good credit — as long as you stay current on monthly payments and don’t overuse them. Your credit score, which shows how responsible you are with credit, is an important factor which lenders check before approving car loans and mortgages. The better your score, the lower the interest rate you may be eligible for.</p> <p><strong>5. Repay debts strategically</strong></p> <p>If you have debts from multiple credit cards and student loans, pay the minimum on each and then contribute more to your higher-interest debts. By making these a priority, you can reduce how much interest you’re paying faster than by treating all debts the same.</p> <p><strong>6. Start an emergency fund</strong></p> <p>Being financially prepared in case of health emergencies or any other financial strains can save you from going into debt. Have a separate savings account just for this purpose — don’t mix it up with your regular savings. A good rule of thumb is to save enough to pay three to six months’ worth of living expenses.</p> <p><strong>7. Set long-term savings goals</strong></p> <p>Consider opting to pay a higher rate to your superannuation on a long-term basis as this will help you out when you retire. The earlier you start doing this the better.</p> <p><em>Photo: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Queen under fire over abysmal royal job salary

<p>The royal family have come under fire after a job advertisement has been described as "disastrously" out of touch. </p> <p>The latest vacancy at Buckingham Palace is for the position of Personnel Security Adviser for the royal family, which requires applicants to have <span>a degree in security, experience and the confidence to "deliver vital work".</span></p> <p>The ad tells applications of the job that they will <span>"make important decisions every day" and will be "helping to protect a world-famous institution."</span></p> <p>The position oversees tasks at Buckingham <span>Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham and Balmoral, with the potential applicant working five days a week.</span></p> <p><span>Despite the importance and high-ranking position of this job, the pay rate has been labelled a "meagre" rate of only $24 an hour.</span></p> <p><span>The salary amounts to roughly $48,000 per year, and has been blasted by </span>royal critics who have described the rate as next to nothing compared to <span>the royal family's "incomprehensible" wealth.</span></p> <p>A reporter for The Mirror said the Queen's wealth is <span>"double-edged sword" and said the advertisement was "disastrous", considering the family costs the UK public approximately $128 million a year.</span></p> <p><span>"Everyone knows the monarchy brings money into the country — but is it an excuse to offer such low pay in comparison to their own wealth?" he said.</span></p> <p><span>The pitiful wage has coped global </span>scrutiny, given the opulent and exclusive lifestyle ledgy the royal family, particularly in terms of weddings.</p> <p>Reports show that the cost of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding expenses was around $61million, while the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton cost roughly $48million. </p> <p>These royal events also feed money back into the country's economy through global tourism opportunities, with reports of Harry and Meghan's wedding made the UK over $1.8billion in tourism revenue. </p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Top tips to navigate the financial effects of COVID-19

<p><em>Please note: This story covers financial matters but it is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances. Please consult your own financial advisor for more information.</em></p> <p>We are living in unusual times and COVID-19 has led to major changes in just about all parts of our life – including your retirement planning. So here, we’re giving you some retirement planning tips to help you find your way through all of these changes.</p> <p>Many of us have been working for the past couple of decades, saving our super and planning for our retirement, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves. And then along comes 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic and everything changes. So how can you keep your retirement planning on track?</p> <p>Let’s take a look at what’s changed so far and how you can keep your retirement planning and finances on track, post COVID-19.</p> <p><strong>Tips for your retirement income investments</strong></p> <p>One of the effects of the current economic crisis is the fact interest rates have been cut and this is difficult for those who have long term investments as some of these returns will be cut as well.</p> <p>Companies have slashed dividends but this seems to be getting better but keep watching what’s happening on the stock market and check the movements here.</p> <p>It can be tempting to move from equities to other income-generating assets – and many people have turned to drawing down on their super to supplement their income.</p> <p>But if you’re tempted to sell stocks now, this could have a long-term negative impact on your investment objectives. By moving from a growth portfolio to a conservative portfolio – for example if you move from shares to fixed income assets - at the wrong time, this can affect your retirement savings greatly.</p> <p>It’s no surprise that if you’re around retirement age, you have the most to lose from this strategy. Financial experts say the best approach for long-term investors is to seek advice, but also to keep the faith and understand that markets – and dividends – will rebound.</p> <p>When considering stocks for a retirement portfolio, it’s best to take a ‘total return approach’. So, what else can you do in to help your finances during the pandemic?</p> <p><strong>Tips for weathering market volatility for retirement savings</strong></p> <p>This year’s market volatility and dividend cuts show how important it is to have a flexible plan for your retirement. While your adviser can tailor a strategy for your individual circumstances, here are some ideas to consider:</p> <p><strong>Ensure your portfolio is well-diversified </strong></p> <p>Research shows that if you have diversification across asset classes, local versus global markets, and even alternative investments not correlated to the market, this will help lower the volatility of returns and lessen the impact of any downturns.</p> <p>If you’re still working, aim to build a buffer of enough cash – or similar investments such as term deposits – to cover at least one year’s worth of living expenses.</p> <p>If you’ve recently retired and you have some liquid assets you can draw on outside of your super, this will help offset any reduced pension income.</p> <p><strong>Keep your money in super for longer</strong></p> <p>If you can afford to, it’s better to leave your money in your super as long as possible because every dollar you pull out now won’t be there to benefit from a future rise in value.</p> <p>Many Australians have already drawn on their super funds in this economic crisis and it means they’ll be under more pressure later on down the track. If you’ve converted your super into an account-based pension (ABP), you may take advantage of the government’s halving the mandatory drawdown limits until 30 June 2021 and reduce your pension withdrawals.</p> <p>If you’re in a platform or an SMSF, you have the flexibility to decide how to fund your ABP payment. On the other hand, retail or industry super funds will generally make the decision for you. In either case, speak to your financial adviser to get more advice in this area.</p> <p><strong>Check how your super funds are faring</strong></p> <p>Most Australians are investors in the share market through their super. Your super funds could invest in a range of investments including global shares, cash, fixed income, bonds, both listed and unlisted infrastructure, both listed and unlisted property, and private equity. Each of these has its own risk profile so while the market is quite volatile at the moment, there will be a higher risk for some assets.</p> <p>While you don’t select the assets your super fund invests in on your behalf, you do have control over how your super is invested more broadly by contacting your super fund and choosing an investment option. While the investment options differ from fund to fund, most offer options such as conservative, balanced, growth and high growth.</p> <p>If you don’t choose an investment option, the default option for most funds is either a balanced or growth option – and around 80% of Australian super accounts are invested in their fund’s default option. This means that for most Australians, while your super may have some exposure to higher-risk assets, this would be balanced by lower-risk assets.</p> <p>COVID-19 has made the investment market more volatile lately. If you’re close to retirement, it could be a concern for you if your super is invested in higher risk assets. At this time in your life, it could be a good idea to have your super invested in a more conservative investment option so you can speak with your super fund about this and they’ll give you advice – or you can consult your financial adviser.</p> <p><strong>Consider an annuity</strong></p> <p>Buying a term or lifetime annuity provides you with a guaranteed income stream over a chosen period, regardless of the sequence of investment returns. While an annuity will give you peace of mind, the returns tend to be lower than other higher risk investments, which may not be suitable for everyone, so take this into account.</p> <p><strong>Review your spending plans</strong></p> <p>It’s generally known that new retirees generally spend more than they do later in retirement. Now is a good time to review your spending plans. While COVID-19 is forcing people delay their big trips, any other steps you can take to reduce your spending now will minimise the impact on your retirement portfolio.</p> <p>If you’re approaching retirement you may be thinking about downsizing your family home. This means you need to sell it and purchase a smaller property or a unit in a retirement village. It could be an ideal time to act on this as real estate prices are at an all time high.</p> <p>This is a good idea because you can use the extra money you’ll have from selling your home to supplement your super or you could use it as extra liquidity during your retirement.</p> <p>Also, if you’re on the age pension, you need to be aware when you sell your family home, the money you've gained from downsizing will count towards your means test. Therefore, if you end up with a great deal of extra income, this could result in a reduction, or even the cancellation of your age pension.</p> <p>If you’re aged over 65 and you’ve lived in your family home for 10 years or more, you can contribute up to $300,000 individually, or $600,000 as a couple, from the sale of your home into your superannuation.</p> <p>This move can really help you boost the income you can generate in retirement. But before you go down this path, there are some extra eligibility criteria for these large contributions to your super, so you may need to get advice and check if you’re eligible.</p> <p>Ask your financial adviser about these contributions to your super – usually referred to as ‘Downsizer Contributions.’ These contributions can count towards your Age Pension assets test so check all of this out when you do your planning.</p> <p>As you can see, downsizing is not as easy as you might first think so it’s best to speak to your financial adviser about the best options for your circumstances.</p> <p><em>Photo: Shutterstock</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Unclaimed riches: FIVE lottery winners in the past five weeks yet to come forward

<p>Sydney residents are being urged to check any unclaimed lotto tickets as an $11million winning ticket remains at large. </p> <p>One lucky Aussie purchased the ticket for Tuesday's Oz Lotto draw at a a Newsagency in the south Sydney suburb of Rosebery, and have yet to claim their winnings.</p> <p>The ticket holder managed to nab the <span>only division one winning entry in draw 1435, securing themselves the entire jackpot prize of $11,002,697.57.</span></p> <p><span>However, the ticket purchase wasn't registered to a player card, so lottery officials have no way of contacting them. </span></p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">Rosebery North Newsagency manager Min Chai said the win was “so exciting for us and our community”.</p> <p><span>“It’s incredible to see one of our customers walk away with such a massive prize,” he added.</span></p> <p><span>Lauren Cooney, a spokesperson for Lotto Australia, has urged all customers who bought a ticket from the store to check their tickets as soon as possible. </span></p> <p><span>She also </span>said, <span>“We’re certainly hoping to hear from Sydney’s latest multi-millionaire very soon.”</span></p> <p><span>The draw’s winning numbers were 35, 15, 44, 5, 18, 32 and 38, while the supplementary numbers were 42 and 16.</span></p> <p><span>This large unclaimed prize is the fifth winning ticket that remains at large this week. </span></p> <p><span>Other prizes still to be claimed range between $700,000 and $2million, as Sydney-siders are urged to check any tickets that are not registered to player cards. </span></p> <p><span>The suburbs the tickets were purchased in are West Ryde, Mount Hutton, Randwick, Werrington and the $11million ticket from Rosebery.</span></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

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