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Beware of ‘tax hacks’ to maximise your return this year. The tax office is taking a close look at incorrect claims

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>For many people a tax refund is a much-anticipated lump sum of money.</p> <p>So, it is understandable Australians will be looking for ways to maximise their returns – particularly we are in a cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>But, whether you do your own return or use a tax agent, taking risks is not advised.</p> <h2>Be wary of tax hacks</h2> <p>But be wary of “tax hacks” you might hear about from online sources (I’m looking at you, <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/tiktok-gst-fraud-hit-on-tax-office-blows-out-to-4-6b-20230813-p5dw2y">TikTok</a>). Two truisms spring to mind:</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog</strong></p> <p>Many tax hacks suggest you spend considerable money on purchases up front to claim tax deductions. But a tax deduction isn’t actually worth the value amount of your spend.</p> <p>For example: let’s say you’re on a taxable income of A$60,000 per year, which puts you roughly in the <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/how-wealthy-are-you-compared-to-everyone-else-in-eight-charts-20221214-p5c6a8">50th percentile</a> of income earners and means your <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-rates-and-codes/tax-rates-australian-residents#ato-Australianresidenttaxrates2020to2025">marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents</a>.</p> <p>You might spend $1,000 on a purchase in the hope of getting a sweet $1,000 tax deduction. However, you’re going to be $675 out of pocket. This is because that $1,000 deduction is only worth $325 (because tax is calculated on your taxable income, which is assessable income less allowable deductions).</p> <p>It will be worth even less next year because of the introduction of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-27/stage-three-tax-cut-changes-pass-senate/103519338">revised Stage 3 tax cuts</a> and that’s a good thing because you’ll be paying less tax overall.</p> <p><strong>2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is</strong></p> <p>Even if you use a registered tax agent (and it’s important to check they are registered by checking <a href="https://www.tpb.gov.au/public-register">the Tax Practitioners’ Board</a>), it’s a common pitfall to think any aggressive deductions they might suggest are their responsibility if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) comes knocking. That’s not the case.</p> <p>Taxpayers are responsible for errors in returns made by their tax agents, so the ATO will hold you responsible.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/media-centre/ato-flags-3-key-focus-areas-for-this-tax-time">ATO has announced</a> it will be taking a close look at three common errors being made by taxpayers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>incorrectly claiming work-related expenses</p> </li> <li> <p>inflating claims for rental properties</p> </li> <li> <p>failing to include all income when lodging.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It might be tempting to think you’ve got away with over claiming deductions or under reporting income but the ATO has sophisticated systems to <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Commitments-and-reporting/Information-and-privacy/How-we-use-data-and-analytics">analyse your data</a>) and track your claims.</p> <p>You’ll need to substantiate your claims, so keep records. If the tax office finds mistakes, you could face <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/paying-the-ato/interest-and-penalties/penalties/penalties-for-making-false-or-misleading-statements">financial penalties</a>, even jail time.</p> <p>Two months ago, a woman was sentenced to two years and six months jail and ordered to repay $39,600 after she lodged three fraudulent Business Activity Statements and received a GST refund to which she wasn’t entitled. While under investigation, she then sent eight false statements to the ATO and tried to claim more money.</p> <p>This is one on many individuals named on the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/tax-avoidance/the-fight-against-tax-crime/our-focus/refund-fraud/gst-refund-fraud-attempts/operation-protego">ATO’s website</a> highlighting the results of regular crackdowns.</p> <h2>So, should I use a tax agent?</h2> <p>There are nearly 20.5 million active tax file numbers registered to individuals in Australia and last tax year the ATO received 13.7 million individual tax return lodgements. This was a 3% increase on the previous year. Of these lodgements more than 5.6 million were lodged by self-preparers and more than 8 million were lodged by tax agents.</p> <p>It <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">makes sense</a> most Australians use agents to prepare and lodge their tax returns. It’s easier, less stressful, gives you confidence the job is being done right and saves time.</p> <p>Having said that, it does come at a price (see above on the value of deductions), and previous research which finds that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">every extra dollar spent on a tax agent</a> only yields an estimated tax savings of 20 cents), and if you have simple tax affairs then it’s relatively easy and quick to do it yourself.</p> <h2>How do I prepare my tax return?</h2> <p>Generally, everyone should be lodging an income tax return each year (or, if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, lodging a non-lodgement advice). The ATO has a “Do I need to lodge a tax return?” tool <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/before-you-prepare-your-tax-return/work-out-if-you-need-to-lodge-a-tax-return">if you’re unsure</a>.</p> <p>It also has a useful <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/how-to-lodge-your-tax-return/lodge-your-tax-return-online-with-mytax">two minute video</a> which steps you through the process for lodging with their online system myTax.</p> <p>For those of us with simple tax affairs, you just need to follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li> <p>gather and prepare all your information regarding income from work, interest, dividends and any other income such as capital gains from crypto assets or sale of shares</p> </li> <li> <p>then gather and prepare all your information on deductions and work expenses to be claimed making sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. This can be in the form receipts, invoices, log books and diary entries</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are a self-preparer you can log onto your myGov or the ATO’s app to prepare and lodge your return. If you wait until late-July you’ll have the benefit of the ATO’s pre-filled data, too. This gives you plenty of time to make the October 31 deadline.</p> </li> </ol> <p>There’s also the option to use the ATO’s free, volunteer-run TaxHelp program (provided you meet the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/help-and-support-to-lodge-your-tax-return/tax-help-program">eligibility criteria</a>), your local Tax Clinic (<a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">details here</a>), or by seeking help from a registered tax agent. Just make sure you engage them before the October 31 deadline.</p> <h2>Where it might get tricky</h2> <p>But for others, for example if you have an ABN, it gets a bit more complicated. If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must lodge a tax return, even if your income is below the tax-free threshold.</p> <p>And if you have registered for GST – which you must do when your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you are a taxi driver or Uber driver – then you will also need to submit quarterly BAS.</p> <p>It gets even more complicated for partnerships, trusts and companies, so it is best to seek the guidance and professional expertise of a registered tax agent, if you aren’t already.</p> <h2>What if I can’t afford a tax agent?</h2> <p>This year, many Australians are doing it tough. Indeed, research by the ASIC’s Moneysmart program estimates <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-04/asic-survey-millions-of-australians-facing-financial-difficulty/103926704">more than five million Australians</a> are in financial strife.</p> <p>Many people will find it hard to prioritise paying a registered tax agent when they cannot afford basic necessities like food.</p> <p>If you’re in this situation, you might find it useful to get in touch with a free financial counsellor via the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> or the <a href="https://sbdh.org.au/">Small Business Debt Helpline</a>.</p> <h2>Don’t procrastinate</h2> <p>Don’t put off doing your tax. If you’re behind, it might seem daunting to get back on track, especially if you think you’ll have to pay extra tax this year instead of getting a refund. But not lodging your returns will backfire. Like avoiding a trip to the doctor to get a skin check, the longer you wait, the more the problem will grow.</p> <p>Reaching out to the ATO is the key because they have tools to support you, including payment plans. It also shows the ATO that you are willing to comply. Ultimately, being up to date will save you fines, interest and penalties.</p> <p>If you are one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-youll-lodge-a-late-tax-return-at-least-80-000-australians-cant-afford-tax-advice-211267">80,000 Australians in serious hardship</a> who need but can’t afford professional help to complete and lodge overdue returns, the government-funded <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/National-Tax-Clinic-program/">National Tax Clinics Program</a> can help with free tax advice.<!-- 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/231693/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/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar is the Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</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/beware-of-tax-hacks-to-maximise-your-return-this-year-the-tax-office-is-taking-a-close-look-at-incorrect-claims-231693">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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How do I keep my fruit, veggies and herbs fresh longer? Are there any ‘hacks’?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/senaka-ranadheera-199225">Senaka Ranadheera</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>We all know <a href="https://theconversation.com/frozen-canned-or-fermented-when-you-cant-shop-often-for-fresh-vegetables-what-are-the-best-alternatives-131678">fresh produce is good for us</a>, but fruit, vegetables and herbs have a tendency to perish quickly if left uneaten.</p> <p>This is because <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212429219305188">even after harvesting</a>, produce from living plants tends to continue its biological processes. This includes respiration: producing energy from stored carbohydrates, proteins and fats while releasing carbon dioxide and water vapour. (Ever found a sprouting potato in your pantry?)</p> <p>On top of that, fresh produce also <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/journal/agriculture/special_issues/quality_safety_fresh_produce">spoils easily thanks to various microbes</a> – both harmless and ones that can cause disease, called pathogens.</p> <p>Simply chucking things in the fridge won’t solve the problem, as different types of plants will react differently to how they’re stored. So, how can you combat food waste and keep produce fresh for longer? Fortunately, there are some helpful tips.</p> <h2>Freshness and quality begin at the farm</h2> <p>Farmers always aim to harvest produce when it’s at an optimal condition, but both pre-harvest and post-harvest factors will affect freshness and quality even before you buy it.</p> <p>Pre-harvest factors are agricultural, such as climatic conditions, soil type and water availability. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212429219305188">Post-harvest factors</a> include washing and cleaning after harvesting, transportation and distribution, processing and packaging, and storage.</p> <p>As consumers we can’t directly control these factors – sometimes the veggies we buy just won’t be as good. But we can look out for things that will affect the produce once we bring it home.</p> <p>One major thing to look out for is bruised, wounded or damaged produce. This can happen at any stage of post-harvest handling, and can really speed up the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814609001411">decay of your veggies and fruit</a>.</p> <p>Moisture loss through damaged skin speeds up deterioration and nutrient loss. The damage also makes it easier for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468014119301943">spoilage microbes</a> to get in.</p> <h2>To wash or not to wash?</h2> <p>You don’t need to wash your produce before storing it. A lot of what we buy has already been washed commercially. In fact, if you wash your produce and can’t get it completely dry, the added moisture could speed up decay in the fridge.</p> <p>But washing produce <a href="https://theconversation.com/do-we-really-have-to-wash-fruit-and-vegetables-53039">just before you use it</a> is important to remove dirt and pathogenic bugs.</p> <p>Don’t use vinegar in your washing water despite what you see on social media. Studies indicate <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16496573/">vinegar has no effect</a> on lowering microbial loads on fresh produce.</p> <p>Similarly, don’t use baking soda. Even though there’s some evidence baking soda <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03118">can remove pesticide residues</a> from the surface of some produce, it’s not advisable at home. Just use plain tap water.</p> <h2>Location, location, location</h2> <p>The main thing you need is the correct type of packaging and the correct location – you want to manage moisture loss, decay and ripening.</p> <p>The three main storage options are on the counter, in the fridge, or in a “cool, dry and dark place”, such as the pantry. Here are some common examples of produce and where best to put them.</p> <p>Bananas, onion, garlic, potatoes, sweet potato and whole pumpkin will do better in a dark pantry or cupboard. Don’t store potatoes and onions together: onions produce a gas called ethylene that makes potatoes spoil quicker, while the high moisture in potatoes spoils onions.</p> <p>In fact, don’t store fruits such as apples, pears, avocado and bananas together, because these fruits <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15538362.2013.748378#:%7E:text=%27Malindi%27%20had%20higher%20respiration%20rates,retention%20in%20fruit%20during%20ripening">release ethylene gas</a> as they ripen, making nearby fruits ripen (and potentially spoil) much faster. That is, unless you <em>do</em> want to ripen your fruits fast.</p> <p>All leafy greens, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli will do best in the low-humidity drawer (crisper) in the fridge. You can put them in perforated plastic bags to retain moisture but maintain air flow. But don’t put them in completely sealed bags because this can slow down ripening while <a href="https://ucanr.edu/sites/hdnmastergardeners/files/338860.pdf">trapping carbon dioxide</a>, leading to decay and bad smells.</p> <p>Some fruits will also do best in the fridge. For example, apples and citrus fruits such as oranges can keep fresh longer in the fridge (crisper drawer), although they can stay at room temperature for short periods. However, don’t store watermelon in the fridge for too long, as it will lose its flavour and deep red colour if kept refrigerated <a href="https://ucanr.edu/sites/hdnmastergardeners/files/338860.pdf">for longer than three days</a>.</p> <p>Most herbs and some leafy vegetables – like celery, spring onions and asparagus – can be kept with stems in water to keep them crisp. Keep them in a well-ventilated area and away from direct sunlight, so they don’t get too warm and wilt.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cHu10C1DAds?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Experimenting at home is a good way to find the best ways to store your produce.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Fight food waste and experiment</h2> <p><strong>Don’t buy too much.</strong> Whenever possible, buy only small amounts so that you don’t need to worry about keeping them fresh. Never buy bruised, wounded or damaged produce if you plan to keep it around for more than a day.</p> <p><strong>“Process” your veggies for storage.</strong> If you do buy a large quantity – maybe a bulk option was on sale – consider turning the produce into something you can keep for longer. For example, banana puree made from really ripe bananas can be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0023643817300853">stored for up to 14 days at 4°C</a>. You can use <a href="https://theconversation.com/frozen-canned-or-fermented-when-you-cant-shop-often-for-fresh-vegetables-what-are-the-best-alternatives-131678">freezing, blanching, fermentation and canning</a> for most vegetables.</p> <p><strong>Consider vacuum sealing.</strong> Vacuum packaging of vegetables and berries can keep them fresh longer, as well. For example, vacuum-sealed beans can keep up to 16 months in the fridge, but will last only about <a href="https://www.vacpac.com.au/vacuum-sealed-life-expectancy-how-long-will-my-vacuum-sealed-products-last">four weeks in the fridge unsealed</a>.</p> <p><strong>Keep track.</strong> Arrange your fridge so you can see the produce easily and use it all before it loses freshness.</p> <p><strong>Experiment with storage hacks.</strong> Social media is full of tips and hacks on how best to store produce. Turn your kitchen into a lab and try out any tips you’re curious about – they might just work. You can even use these experiments as a way to teach your kids about the importance of reducing food waste.</p> <p><strong>Grow some of your own.</strong> This isn’t <a href="https://theconversation.com/growing-your-own-food-and-foraging-can-help-tackle-your-ballooning-grocery-bill-heres-how-216264">feasible for all of us</a>, but you can always try having some herbs in pots so you don’t need to worry about keeping them fresh or using up a giant bunch of mint all at once. <a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-are-microgreens-better-for-you-than-regular-greens-73950">Growing your own microgreens</a> could be handy, too.<!-- 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/226763/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/senaka-ranadheera-199225">Senaka Ranadheera</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</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/how-do-i-keep-my-fruit-veggies-and-herbs-fresh-longer-are-there-any-hacks-226763">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Do red bags get loaded onto a plane first? Travel hack goes viral

<p>One TikTok user has racked up over 75 million views for their hack which warns travellers against buying red suitcases.</p> <p>The reason behind it? He claims that red suitcases are always loaded onto a plane first - meaning that they will be the last ones to come out at the baggage carousel. </p> <p>The <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@airportlife_/video/7359248989134327072" target="_blank" rel="noopener">viral video</a> showed a plane's cargo being loaded, with all the red bags being loaded first. </p> <p>Many commenters have shared their theories on why this might be the case. </p> <p>"If the red are at the back then they are less likely to get left behind when unloading," one wrote. </p> <p>"So that it's easier to check if there is any bag left at end corner of loading area and prevent missing out black bags at dark corners, maybe," another added. </p> <p>However, a spokesperson for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has debunked this theory and claimed that the video is "nonsense" and "was made purposefully to mislead or provide false information".</p> <p>They also said that there was simply not enough time for their baggage handlers to sort suitcases out by colour. </p> <p>The question of "Do red bags get loaded onto a plane first?" also made its way to Reddit, after the video went viral, and one user who claimed to be a ramp worker denied the theory. </p> <p>"If we had taken the time and brain power to load bags based on colour I'd still be loading flights from 2015." </p> <p><em>Image: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Tips

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"Can't WAIT to try this": Tradie's simple bin night hack

<p>Taking the wheelie bins out and having to drag them back in is a chore that many dread, but one Aussie tradie has made life so much easier with his simple hack. </p> <p>Kyle Hume took to TikTok to share his simple yet effective trick to bring in two bins back from the curb at the same time, without having to wrangle two bins with both hands or make multiple trips. </p> <p>"I've been wheeling two bins my whole life until I noticed this," he shared. </p> <p>Hume's trick is to line up two bins in front of each other, resting the lid of the bin at the front on top of the bin at the back, and then closing the lid so it creates a makeshift hook that allows you to tip both bins back and wheel them in unison. </p> <p> </p> <div class="embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important; width: 573px; max-width: 100%;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7360205539604696336&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40kylehume7%2Fvideo%2F7360205539604696336%3Flang%3Den&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2FoYPnEqGncBAAtH22Eli4AIzBQC4wEANEIsf1ki%3Fx-expires%3D1715479200%26x-signature%3Di%252BOzi1g942kcQ1F0%252FqQuNd7eiho%253D&key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>Many Aussies were "flabbergasted" by the trick, taking to the comments to express their shock at the simple method. </p> <p>"I've learned more on TikTok about adulting than I ever did in school," one joked. </p> <p>"I have four bins - this is going to save my life," another added. </p> <p>"What? Are you kidding me?" a third exclaimed. </p> <p>However, not everyone was impressed with his method, with some saying that it wouldn't work and there is a risk of damaging the bins. </p> <p>"Guessing that green bin slipped over and split using this hack, lol," one wrote. </p> <p>"This seems awkward and clunky," another added. </p> <p>"Don't you have two arms?" a third wrote. </p> <p><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Home & Garden

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Catriona Rowntree shares her Europe travel hacks she picked up from locals

<p dir="ltr">After decades of hosting <em>Getaway</em>, Catriona Rowntree has learned a thing or two about travelling. </p> <p dir="ltr">Along the way, the 52-year-old has picked up some must-know secrets from locals that every traveller should know before heading to Europe.</p> <p dir="ltr">While in Mallorca in Spain, Rowntree quizzed locals on how to make the most out of her experience, and what faux pas to avoid. </p> <p dir="ltr">She was given advice on the best way to start a day at the markets, told why you should never rent an Airbnb or buy seafood on a Monday, why takeaway coffee is a bad idea and the secret to a longer, healthy life. </p> <p dir="ltr">The TV host shared a little known secret when it comes to buying fresh fish, and said travellers should not buy fish on Monday, because fishermen don’t fish on Sundays, meaning fish purchases on Mondays won’t be fresh. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The life expectancy of a Spaniard is 84, they're a healthy lot, loving a Mediterranean diet, a dollop of sun and a good climate,” she added. </p> <p dir="ltr">The presenter also discovered that all the locals she has spoken to don't like Airbnb accommodation and prefer for tourists to stay in hotels. </p> <p dir="ltr">“All the locals I've spoken to say that's what's pushing them out of their apartments as the town centres are slowly gentrified,” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The average wage is low, most locals rent, sadly landlords prefer the higher fee of an Airbnb. Not cool!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Catriona's final tip is not to get your coffee takeaway, but rather sit down in a cafe, enjoy your coffee and take it slow. </p> <p dir="ltr">“People sit down to enjoy their coffee, they don't get a takeaway: 'If you can't sit for five minutes and talk to a person what's wrong with you!',” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Catriona said she was told by a local that the best way to start your day is to explore the markets by getting a hot chocolate and some churros. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Not every day as you'll be round, but market day for sure," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Travel Tips

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The unique travel hack that is guaranteed to help beat jet lag

<p dir="ltr">Experts have revealed how to beat jet lag on your next overseas holiday, and it all comes down to your modes of transport. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sleep researchers said it's good news for cruise lovers, as exposure to sea air and bright natural light improves sleep to cure the annoying condition quickly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some experts say to avoid travelling by plane all together, and always opt for cruising holidays instead. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you have to travel to your cruise by plane, being on board is a great way to tackle the dreadful feeling, compared with holidaying on land, Panache Cruises said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Lindsay Browning, expert at Trouble Sleeping said exposing yourself to bright lights at the right time after a long-haul flight is one of the most powerful things we can do to boost and help shift circadian rhythm, and being on a ship is the perfect place for that.</p> <p dir="ltr">"As a general rule, you want to get lots of bright light exposure during the daytime and avoid light at night," Browning said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"When travelling on a cruise ship, you will naturally get a lot of bright light exposure during the day, helping your circadian rhythm.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"Further, when travelling by ship you will have a cabin with a proper bed and curtain, enabling you to sleep at night when you want to."</p> <p dir="ltr">The company claimed research showed how prolonged exposure to sea air can improve blood oxygen levels, boost vitamin D, and improve breathing leading to higher-quality sleep, helping to rid travellers of pesky jet lag so they can enjoy their holidays. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Vinegar and baking soda: a cleaning hack or just a bunch of fizz?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nathan-kilah-599082">Nathan Kilah</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>Vinegar and baking soda are staples in the kitchen. Many of us have combined them in childhood scientific experiments: think fizzy volcanoes and geysers.</p> <p>But people also frequently mix vinegar and baking soda to produce a reportedly effective household cleaner. Unfortunately, the chemistry behind the bubbly reaction doesn’t support the cleaning hype. The fizzy action is essentially <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-surprising-things-about-placebos-everyone-should-know-220829">a visual “placebo</a>”, formed by the combination of an acid and a base.</p> <p>So, how does it work, and is it worth using these chemicals for cleaning? To understand all this, it helps to know a little more about chemistry.</p> <h2>What’s an acid?</h2> <p>Foods with a sour taste typically contain acids. These include citric acid in lemon juice, malic acid in apples, lactic acid in yoghurt and <a href="https://theconversation.com/kitchen-science-everything-you-eat-is-made-of-chemicals-56583">phosphoric acids in soft drinks</a>. Most vinegars contain around 4–10% acetic acid, the rest is water and small amounts of flavour chemicals.</p> <p>There are other naturally occurring acids, such as formic acid in ant bites and hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. Industrially, sulfuric acid is used in mineral processing, nitric acid for <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-ammonium-nitrate-the-chemical-that-exploded-in-beirut-143979">fertiliser manufacturing</a> and the highly potent hydrofluoric acid is used to etch glass.</p> <p>All of these acids share similar properties. They can all release hydrogen ions (positively charged atoms) into water. Depending on their potency, acids can also dissolve minerals and metals through various chemical reactions.</p> <p>This is why vinegar is an excellent cleaner for showers or kettles – it can react with and dissolve mineral deposits like limescale.</p> <p>Other common acidic cleaning ingredients are oxalic acid, used for revitalising timber decks, hydrochloric acid in concrete and masonry cleaners, and sulfamic acid in potent toilet cleaners.</p> <h2>What’s a base?</h2> <p>In chemistry, bases – the opposite of acids in many ways – can bind, rather than release hydrogen ions. This can help lift and dissolve insoluble grime into water. Bases can also break apart fat molecules.</p> <p>Baking soda (also known as sodium hydrogen carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or bicarb) is a relatively weak base. Stronger common bases include sodium carbonate (washing soda), sodium hydroxide (lye) and ammonia.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/spill-at-a-nuclear-facility-shows-potential-burn-risks-from-a-household-chemical-112763">Sodium hydroxide</a> is a potent drain cleaner – its strong base properties can dissolve fats and hair. This allows blockages to be broken down and easily flushed away.</p> <h2>Mixing a base and an acid</h2> <p>Mixing vinegar and baking soda causes an immediate chemical reaction. This reaction forms water, sodium acetate (a salt) and carbon dioxide – the fizzy part.</p> <p>The amount of carbon dioxide gas that is produced from baking soda is remarkable – one tablespoon (around 18 grams) can release over <a href="https://www.chemedx.org/JCESoft/jcesoftSubscriber/CCA/CCA8/MAIN/8/06/2/4/movie.html">five litres of gas</a>! But only if you add enough acid.</p> <p>Reactions in chemistry often use equal quantities of chemical reagents. A perfect balance of acetic acid and baking soda would give you just water, carbon dioxide and sodium acetate.</p> <p>But the majority of vinegar and bicarb cleaner recipes use a large excess of one or the other components. An example from TikTok for a DIY oven cleaner calls for one and a half cups of baking soda and one quarter cup of vinegar.</p> <p>Crunching the numbers behind the chemical reaction shows that after the fizz subsides, over 99% of the added baking soda remains. So the active cleaning agent here is actually the baking soda (and the “elbow grease” of scrubbing).</p> <p>Ovens can be cleaned much more rigorously with stronger, sodium hydroxide based cleaners (although these are also more caustic). Many modern ovens also have a self-cleaning feature, so read your product manual before reaching for a chemical cleaner of any sort.</p> <h2>What about the sodium acetate?</h2> <p>Devotees of vinegar and baking soda mixtures might be wondering if the product of the fizzy reaction, sodium acetate, is the undercover cleaning agent.</p> <p>Unfortunately, sodium acetate is an even weaker base than baking soda, so it doesn’t do much to clean the surface you’re trying to scrub.</p> <p>Sodium acetate is used in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vABpel-11Nc">crystallisation-based heating packs</a> and as a concrete sealant, but not typically as a cleaner.</p> <p>Fun fact: sodium acetate can be combined with acetic acid to make a crystalline <a href="https://theconversation.com/busting-the-myth-that-all-food-additives-are-bad-a-quick-guide-for-label-readers-82883">food additive</a> called sodium diacetate. These crystals give the vinegar flavour to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0hEutu_goY">salt and vinegar chips</a> without making them soggy.</p> <h2>Sorry to burst your bubbles</h2> <p>There are a few rare cases where mixing vinegar and baking soda may be useful for cleaning. This is where the bubbling has a mechanical effect, such as in a blocked drain.</p> <p>But in most cases you’ll want to use either vinegar or baking soda by itself, depending on what you’re trying to clean. It will be less <a href="https://theconversation.com/visually-striking-science-experiments-at-school-can-be-fun-inspiring-and-safe-banning-is-not-the-answer-195362">visually exciting</a>, but it should get the job done.</p> <p>Lastly, remember that mixing cleaning chemicals at home can be risky. Always carefully read the product label and directions before engaging in DIY concoctions. And, to be extra sure, you can find out more safety information by reading the product’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-new-tiktok-trend-has-people-drinking-toxic-borax-an-expert-explains-the-risks-and-how-to-read-product-labels-210278">safety data sheet</a>.<!-- 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/225177/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/nathan-kilah-599082"><em>Nathan Kilah</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</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/vinegar-and-baking-soda-a-cleaning-hack-or-just-a-bunch-of-fizz-225177">original article</a>.</em></p>

Home & Garden

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15 hacks that make running errands so much better

<p><strong>Run errands during the week</strong></p> <p>More than 90 per cent of people do errands on the weekends, meaning shops will be packed and traffic will be a nightmare. Running errands on a weeknight will get you in and out in half the time. Once the kids are in bed, have one parent stay home while the other drives to the shops. You’ll miss the crowds and keep your weekend free for fun and family.</p> <p><strong>Turn on a podcast</strong></p> <p>Radio music – and its deejays and commercials – can get intense. Switch off the FM and plug in your phone so you can listen to a podcast or audiobook. You’ll be more relaxed, and the time will fly as you get engrossed in the story.</p> <p><strong>Make the most of your time</strong></p> <p>Never run out for just one task. Save time, petrol, and stress by getting more than one thing done when you’re out of the house. After dropping your child off at soccer practice, drop off your dry cleaning or pick up the milk from the supermarket.</p> <p><strong>Set up an errand centre in your home</strong></p> <p>Keeping all the objects you’ll need to complete your errands – packages to be mailed, dry cleaning to be delivered, library books to be returned – in one place will make it easy to get out the door when you get the chance. Designate a space by the door or in your car as a visual reminder of what needs to get done.</p> <p><strong>Buy in bulk</strong></p> <p>Picking up big batches of items like toilet paper, dog food, and tampons means fewer trips to the supermarket and less time running errands. Plus, you save money by buying bulk packages or stocking up while the items are on sale.</p> <p><strong>Use long lines for "me time"</strong></p> <p>Instead of griping about how long your wait to the cash register is, think of it as a few peaceful moments to yourself. Close your eyes (don’t be self-conscious!) and imagine yourself sitting on a quiet beach or getting a massage. Take several deep breaths while you mentally escape to that place. You’ll be much more relaxed, and you can wait in line with less frustration.</p> <p><strong>Practice mindfulness</strong></p> <p>Performing a ‘walking meditation’ while you shop will keep you engaged with your task instead of letting your mind wander to other stressors. By the end of your trip, you’ll have more energy and less frustration. Pay attention to the bright colours of the produce, the scents wafting from the bakery, and the feeling of each step you take.</p> <p><strong>Do someone else's errands</strong></p> <p>If you have an elderly neighbour or know a mother with young kids, offer to add some of their tasks to your to-do list. Studies have shown that helping others can reduce stress.</p> <p><strong>Tune out</strong></p> <p>Instead of drowning out your thoughts with music, keep the radio off when you’re driving and allow your own thoughts to come to you. The stimuli of everyday life can be overwhelming, so this is your chance to recharge your energy in the silence.</p> <p><strong>Keep a grocery list on your phone</strong></p> <p>You probably buy the same things on most of your grocery runs. Instead of writing a new list every week, keep an ongoing list on your phone, which makes it easy to add and remove items. Organise your list in the order you’ll find them at the supermarket. For instance, if you start near the produce section, write the fruits and vegetables first.</p> <p><strong>Reward yourself </strong></p> <p>To keep yourself motivated while you’re out, add a little luxury to your shopping list. Treat yourself with nice bath soap, a bouquet of flowers, or your favourite craft beer.</p> <p><strong>Keep an ongoing errands list</strong></p> <p>Write down your usual tasks, along with the ones you keep forgetting to do, like buying socks for your child or making a vet appointment for the dog, in a notepad. Carry it with you so you don’t miss anything when you’re out. When you’re home, stash it where the rest of your family can access it and jot down their needs.</p> <p><strong>Buy online as much as possible </strong></p> <p>The possibilities are endless: order groceries, buy stamps, cash checks, and renew library books online. Giving your credit card number over a secured server is safer than stating your number over the phone, and sometimes safer than handing your card over at a store.</p> <p><strong>Alternate tasks with your neighbours </strong></p> <p>Make a deal with your neighbours in which you do the grocery shopping one week, and they take care of it the next. You can watch each other’s kids when it’s your turn to stay home, and both of you will make fewer trips to the supermarket. Or plan to go grocery shopping with a friend. You’ll have more fun with the social support, and your kids might behave better with someone else present.</p> <p><strong>Have dad run errands with the kids</strong></p> <p>Kids who cook, clean, and run errands with their dads have more friends and are better behaved, according to a University of California study. Make sure your partner (or you, if you’re a dad) takes the kids along every now and then. As a bonus, wives of men who do chores with their kids find their husbands more attractive.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/15-hacks-that-make-running-errands-so-much-better?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Money & Banking

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9 beauty hacks for when you’re running late

<p><strong>Spritz on dry shampoo</strong></p> <p>When you don’t have time to wash or blow-dry your hair, dry shampoo is your new best friend. One quick spritz is a shortcut to volume and oil-free hair. Simply spray the dry shampoo directly at the roots and massage in for a clean, tousled look. Beauty expert and blogger, Jeanette Zinno, shares her special trick, “Use a dry shampoo at night to wake up with fresh textured hair. It has all night to work and absorb.”</p> <p>If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any dry shampoo on hand, run a dryer sheet across your hair, suggests Rochelle Maribojoc from Spa Pechanga. Though it sounds strange, it effectively picks up static, dirt, and oil; even if you plan on throwing your hair into a ponytail or messy bun, it’ll look leagues better.</p> <p><strong>Stock up on travel-size products </strong></p> <p>If you’re constantly running late (hey – no judgments!), having a to-go makeup bag full of mini hair and makeup products at the ready is a lifesaver. On those harried mornings, simply grab this trusty tote and do your beauty routine on the fly (on the train or when you get to your office).</p> <p>Makeup artists, Sam &amp; Nic Chapman, share, “Travel-ready products are fantastic in a bind. If you haven’t had enough time to perfect your look in the morning, you’ll have the tools to freshen it up throughout the day.”</p> <p><strong>Take advantage of multipurpose products </strong></p> <p>Multi-purpose products help reduce the number of products you use and can be applied in less time. For example, a colour stick the can be used for cheeks, eyes, and lips. “I love it because it’s also very small, so you can take it on-the-go too,” Zinno says.</p> <p><strong>Dry nail polish fast with ice water</strong></p> <p>We’ve all been there – you’re going to an event or getting ready for a date, and you didn’t have time for a manicure. Of course, there’s no such thing as speedily painting your nails, as polish requires ample drying time, except, that is, if you use this brilliant trick from Zinno.</p> <p>“Soak your freshly-painted nails in a bowl of ice water for a minute; the cold will dry them quickly. Make sure you have the bowl ready before you paint your nails so you don’t mess them up!”</p> <p><strong>Skip the foundation</strong></p> <p>Unless your skin has a lot of unevenness, you really don’t need foundation 24/7. When you’re in a hurry, you can get away with dabbing concealer under eyes, down the bridge of the nose, on your chin, and on any problem areas like dark spots or pimples.</p> <p>“Using your concealer for spot-concealing is the best time-saver as it provides evenness of tone, while giving your complexion a natural, not-fussy look,” says CEO of Veil Cosmetics, Sébastien Tardif, who adds that you want to pick a concealer that matches your skin tone for the most flattering finish.</p> <p><strong>Apply eyeliner on the "negative space"</strong></p> <p>While cat liner and smoky eyes require a time commitment, filling in the negative space (the area of skin on your eyelid between your lashes and eye) is extremely easy and gives instant definition and make your lashes look fuller without any mascara.</p> <p><strong>Smudge eyeliner for an instant smoky eye </strong></p> <p>For the quickest smoky eye, “Simply line your eyes using a creamy eyeliner and smudge with your ring finger (it’s the weakest, so it’s the best for blending without pulling your delicate eyelid skin),” shares beauty expert and professional makeup artist, Sona Gasparian, “In just a few seconds, you’ll have a simple Parisian look!”</p> <p><strong>Blush is a must</strong></p> <p>Although contouring your full face will eat up too much time, blush is too important to skip, especially in the morning when most of us tend to roll out of bed looking pasty or sallow. If you’re super tight on time, dab a tinted lip balm on your cheeks and blend for a creamy blush alternative.</p> <p>“A little bit of colour on our cheeks can go a long way – the colour makes you look more alive without barely even trying,” says BH Cosmetics.</p> <p><strong>Swipe on a dark lip colour</strong></p> <p>A red, plum, or sophisticated brown lip hue can elevate your look and make others think you dedicated a whole lot of effort on your appearance, even when you didn’t.</p> <p>Choose a lip stain and you won’t even have to re-apply throughout the day, says Liz Fuller from Makeup Artistry Inc, “One quick pat on the lips in the morning as you’re running out the door, and you can forget about it for the remainder of the day.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/beauty/9-beauty-hacks-for-when-youre-running-late" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Ultimate holiday hack to turn just 17 days of leave into 45 days of leisure

<p>As we bid a fond farewell to 2023, it's time to embark on a journey to the land of strategic annual leave planning!</p> <p>If you've ever dreamed of turning 17 days into a mind-blowing 45 days of leisure, all while maintaining the illusion that you're a dedicated worker, you're in for a treat. Let's delve into the art of time manipulation, the Australian way!</p> <p><strong>1. The Great Christmas/New Year Escape: 10 Days of Holiday Magic</strong></p> <p>Picture this: You, sipping a cocktail on a beach, far, far away from workplace shenanigans. To achieve this utopia, sacrifice a mere three workdays from December 27–29, and voila! You've magically transformed a three-day leave into a decadent ten-day escapade. Christmas and New Year's resolutions? More like "Avoiding Office Drama and Perfecting My Tan".</p> <p><strong>2. Australia Day 2024: Because One Long Weekend Isn't Enough</strong></p> <p>To those who believe in the power of the long weekend, rejoice! By judiciously taking a single day off on January 29, you can extend the Australia Day break into a glorious four-day affair. This means more time for BBQs, cricket, and pretending to understand the rules of cricket.</p> <p><strong>3. The Great Easter Egg Hunt (for Extra Leave Days): 10 Days of Bunny Bliss</strong></p> <p>Hop into Easter with a bang by utilising four days of leave (April 2–5). This cunning plan transforms a regular four-day weekend into a lavish ten-day extravaganza. You'll have so much time; you might even consider crafting an intricate Easter egg treasure map for your colleagues. After all, sharing is caring.</p> <p><strong>4. ANZAC Day 2024: A Gallant Nine-Day Journey</strong></p> <p>For those who appreciate a good remembrance day, why not remember to take four days off? By strategically choosing your leave days around ANZAC Day, you can turn a regular nine-to-five existence into a leisurely nine-day bliss. It's the perfect opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the past while contemplating your sacrifice of precious annual leave for maximum leisure.</p> <p><strong>5. The Grand Finale: Christmas and New Year 2024/25</strong></p> <p>Looking to dominate the festive season and secure a 12-day break? Fear not! By cunningly using five days of leave (December 23–31), you can transform a modest two-day weekend into a 12-day holiday bonanza. It's like taking a break in 2025 while still clinging desperately to the end of 2024. Time travel, anyone?</p> <p>In conclusion, dear Aussie worker bees, remember that strategic annual leave planning is an art, a dance between days off and public holidays. While others are stuck in the mundane, you'll be sipping piña coladas in your time-warped holiday paradise.</p> <p>So go forth, plan wisely, and may your leave days be as abundant as your laughter during this comedic time-travel adventure!</p> <p><em>Image: Getty </em></p>

Travel Tips

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Genius Christmas hack divides viewers

<p>Christmas, a time when the kitchen becomes a battlefield and culinary warriors seek ingenious hacks to conquer the chaos!</p> <p>Thankfully, Janelle from @thedailynelly on Instagram, armed with the wisdom of her grandma, has unveiled a potato-cleaning strategy that has shaken the very foundations of traditional holiday prep.</p> <p>Enter "Grandma's best Thanksgiving secret" – a cryptic title that foreshadows a culinary revelation of epic proportions. And yes, we know it's for Thanksgiving – but we are just going to give some thanks and use it for Christmas prep anyway.</p> <p>Janelle took to Instagram to showcase her revolutionary potato-cleaning hack for her followers and – spoiler alert – it involves a dishwasher, and things are about to get wild.</p> <p>As Janelle stacks unwashed potatoes into the dishwasher, she confidently claims that this unorthodox method saves her both time and effort. The video unfolds like a suspenseful thriller, with the person behind the camera questioning her every move. "This is the best way to do it. It saves you so much time," Janelle declares with the conviction of someone who has cracked the Da Vinci Code of holiday cooking.</p> <p>In a daring move, she populates not only the top rack with filthy potatoes but also the lower shelf, even utilising the cutlery holder – because who needs spoons when you can have spuds? Janelle defends her potato-loading strategy, pointing out that traditional methods in a bowl are impractical when faced with three bags of potatoes. Practicality, meet pandemonium.</p> <p>Janelle also points out – a little redundantly, but to be honest you never really know the caliber of person watching Instagram videos – that it's crucial not to use any dishwashing tablets or soap in this peculiar cleaning ritual, because, you know, that would be weird. We wouldn't want our spuds to taste like lavender-scented detergent, now would we?</p> <p>The climax arrives when the four-minute rinse cycle is over – a pivotal moment in this culinary odyssey. Janelle gleefully showcases the now pristine potatoes, claiming victory over the tedious hand-washing process. "They're clean, you didn't have to hand wash them. I'm telling you – it saves time on Christmas when you're hosting a tonne of people," she declares triumphantly.</p> <p>However, the internet, ever the skeptic, has of course reacted with horror and disbelief. Some commenters expressed their disgust, labelling the dishwasher technique as "gross" and "nasty". </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz7Af8oulYb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz7Af8oulYb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The Daily Nelly (@thedailynelly)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Concerns about dishwasher residue and the efficiency of the method compared to traditional hand washing also echo through the comments. The naysayers argue that the time spent stacking potatoes in the dishwasher outweighs the alleged time saved.</p> <p>In the end, @thedailynelly's dishwasher potato video has become something of a cautionary tale, a reminder that not all culinary shortcuts are created equal. But here at OverSixty we are firmly on Team Janelle. At least she is out there giving it a go, listening to her grandma, and sharing her wisdom with the world.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram / <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">@thedailynelly</span></em></p>

Food & Wine

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5 genius travel hacks no-one talks about

<p>Genius travel influencer Grace Cheng has amassed a large following on Instagram by sharing her luxurious international adventures. But she's not just about the pretty pictures and glamorous destinations; she's also got some practical tips and tricks up her sleeve – one of which makes so much sense you will be a little cross you didn't think of it yourself.</p> <p>In a recent video, Cheng revealed her top five travel hacks that "no one talks about" – and while some of her tips were met with skepticism from readers and viewers, others were completely floored by how simple and effective they were.</p> <p>Tip 1: Freeze water bottles to get them through security</p> <p>Amazing, right? Cheng's first tip is such a game-changer for anyone who's ever had to throw away their water bottle at airport security. She claims you can actually take a full bottle of water through security ... <em>if it's frozen</em>.</p> <p>The logic is that ice is solid and water is liquid, so all you have to do is freeze the water before you leave for the airport. Then, before you hit security, just drink whatever has melted and carry on the rest.</p> <p>Cheng calls this one the "biggest hack ever" – and we're inclined to agree. No more paying for overpriced bottled water at the airport!</p> <p>Tip 2: Use a hair to check for hotel room intruders</p> <p>This one seems a little paranoid, but if you're ever worried about someone entering your hotel room while you're out, Cheng has a clever solution. She suggests taping a hair at the bottom of the door frame. When you come back to your room, you'll see if the hair has been broken or not. If it has, then you know someone has been inside.</p> <p>This is a pretty simple and effective way to check for intruders, and it's definitely worth trying if you're feeling paranoid.</p> <p>Tip 3: Board your economy flight last to get an empty row</p> <p>If you're flying economy, Cheng says you should always board the plane last. This is because it will give you a chance to see which seats are empty.</p> <p>Once you've spotted an empty row, you can politely ask the flight attendant if you can take one of the seats. With a little luck, you'll end up with a whole row to yourself, which is basically like flying business class.</p> <p>Tip 4: Book with the same hotel chain to get upgrades</p> <p>If you're a frequent traveller, Cheng says you should always book with the same hotel chain whenever possible. This is because you'll be more likely to get rewarded with upgrades and better customer service.</p> <p>Hotel chains often have loyalty programs that reward repeat customers. So, if you're always booking with the same hotel chain, you'll eventually start to rack up points that can be redeemed for upgrades, free stays and other perks. Solid tip, Cheng!</p> <p>Tip 5: Always carry a universal power adaptor</p> <p>Cheng says this is one of the most important travel hacks she's ever learned. She used to have to keep buying different adaptors for every country she visited, but now she just carries a universal adaptor with her.</p> <p>This is quite the lifesaver for any traveller who wants to avoid the hassle of finding and buying adaptors in every new country they visit.</p> <p>Overall, Cheng's travel hacks are a mix of clever tips and solid, commonsense advice. But whether you love them or hate them, there's no denying that they're worth checking out.</p> <p>So, next time you're planning a trip, be sure to give Cheng's hacks a try. You might just be surprised at how much they can make your travels easier and more enjoyable!</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxMol_HLl3w/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxMol_HLl3w/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by grace | TravelCreator✨ (@graceccheng)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><em>Images: Travel Creator @graceccheng / Instagram</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Amazing money-saving hack hidden in Coles and Woolies Christmas shopping bags

<p>Woolworths and Coles have released specially designed paper bags ahead of the Christmas period, with many praising their multi-purpose usage. </p> <p>The 25 cent bags feature a Christmas design, and are meant to be cut open and reused as wrapping paper for Christmas presents. </p> <p>Shoppers have been sharing their delight at the discovery on social media, with many praising the supermarket giants for encouraging recycling. </p> <p>A member of the North Shore Mums Facebook group shared the revelation, writing, "PSA: the Christmas woolies bags are designed to be cut open and used as wrapping paper."</p> <p>Both Coles and Woolworths bags include cutting lines to help those planning to use them as wrapping this festive season.</p> <p>They added an edit to the post explaining the bags could also be cut into squares around the decorations and used as gift tags.</p> <p>Other alternatives to pricey wrapping paper include tea towels, paper that has been decorated by children in the family or making the most out of reusable gift bags which can be collected and saved for the next occasion.</p> <p>With many families anxious of excess spending during the festive period in the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis, the reusable bags are set to be a welcome hack for those trying to be money conscious this Christmas. </p> <p><em>Image credits: 9Honey</em></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 16px 0px 20px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Proxima Nova', system-ui, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Fira Sans', 'Droid Sans', 'Helvetica Neue'; font-size: 18px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 28px; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #333333; color: #333333;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant-caps: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"> </span></p>

Money & Banking

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These 7 genius hacks will revive almost any plant

<p><strong>Look for signs of life </strong></p> <p>If your plant has turned brown and lost some leaves, don’t give up on it just yet. There is hope that you can revive a dead plant if the plant still has a few green leaves and pliable stems – buds are a sure sign too. Melinda Meyers, star and producer of Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments, says that reviving a plant takes patience (sometimes even years).</p> <p><strong>Think about the water</strong></p> <p>Plants that are over-watered appear wilted and may have brown or yellow leaves that make it look dead but with very moist soil. By contrast, if you have forgotten to water your plants,  the leaves will be brown but dried around the edges or curled up. Master gardener, Kristena LaMar, says that if you suspect over-watering is the cause of your plant’s demise, repot your plant in dry dirt.</p> <p>And if your plant is thirsty, water it! However, hold off on fertilising until the plant is in better health. Meyers warns that, “Fertilising a struggling plant can injure the tender roots of a recovering plant.”</p> <p><strong>Consider your lighting situation</strong></p> <p>If you recently moved your plant to a new spot, it’s possible it’s no longer getting enough light. Even if you didn’t move it, it’s possible its lighting situation changed. Did you recently buy heavier drapes? Plant a tree outside that’s now blocking the indoor sunlight?</p> <p>Try moving your plant to a sunnier window if it needs a lot of light. (Same goes with a plant that’s now getting too much sun; try a different location in your home.)</p> <p><strong>Find a humid spot</strong></p> <p>Plants absorb water through leaves as well as roots. So keep your plant in a humid spot that’s not too sunny and not too dry to help it recover.</p> <p><strong>Feed your plant carefully </strong></p> <p>People and pets aren’t the only things in your house that need food; plants can get malnourished, too. (Signs are discoloured leaves or slow or no growth.) Meyers recommends a fertiliser/nutritional supplement. Depending on the nutritional deficiency, providing the nutrition can help the plant recover nearly immediately within days.</p> <p>Other deficiencies may take longer – as in weeks – while others are chronic and may not ever fully recover, although these are rare with houseplants.</p> <p><strong>IV for plants </strong></p> <p>Another option for malnourished plants is a water-soluble fertiliser that will slowly release nutrients and is less likely to burn your plant’s roots. Add it to the watering can before watering plants. Only use fertiliser during the time when your plant should be growing. Over-fertilising or using the wrong fertiliser can burn the roots of the plant.</p> <p><strong>Compost</strong></p> <p>If you’ve tried everything, and your plant still can’t be revived, it might be time to let go. By composting your plants, the remains can be recycled as nutrient-rich dirt that can help your next houseplant thrive. Don’t beat yourself up – and next time buy a hearty, nearly kill-proof cactus.</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-hacks-that-will-revive-almost-any-plant" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home & Garden

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“This is life-changing information”: Shopper discovers little-known Bunnings hack

<p>A shopper has revealed the details of a little-known Bunnings store policy that will ensure a blooming garden. </p> <p>Georgia Magill, a young woman from Perth, was shopping for plants in the hardware store when she was urged by the cashier to keep her receipt.</p> <p>The uni student was shocked why she should hold on to the receipt for a small house plant, as the worker went on to explain why. </p> <p>“She was like, ‘Oh because they come with a 12 month warranty’,” Georgia explained in a now-viral TikTok video.</p> <p>“And then she goes: ‘It doesn’t really matter how they die we’ll just replace them for you within a 12 month period.’”</p> <p>The hardware store created the ‘Perfect Plant Promise’ in February 2020 which states all plants, except for seedlings, can be returned within 12 months of purchase if they die. </p> <p>Bunnings won’t just replace the plant, it also offers money back, if you’d prefer to give up on your gardening dreams.</p> <p>"This is life-changing information,” she concluded in the video. </p> <p>While the policy has been around for several years, many Aussies hadn’t heard of it either, commenting in shock on the TikTok video, which has been viewed almost 1.5 million times. </p> <p>“What? I have literally had Bunnings plants die within weeks,” one wrote,</p> <p>“I did know this… but I also refuse to let Bunnings know how many plants I’ve murdered,” another stated. </p> <p>Another person declared, “It’s such a good idea. I can’t believe I didn’t know it!!”</p> <p>Among the comments were more tips for former and current Bunnings workers, offering some extra tips on how to utilise the policy. </p> <p>“Ex Bunnings worker here, keep the original pot so we know what plant it is, not everyone in store is a plant expert,” one remarked.</p> <p>“(From a Bunnings worker) either take a photo of your receipt or ask for it to be sent via SMS as they fade! For any warranty item,” another suggested. </p> <p>However, one worker urged Aussies not to take advantage of the offer, saying, “We will return your plant with a receipt and ‘proof’ but please don’t abuse this system. Plants die.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / TikTok</em></p>

Home & Garden

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Easiest travel hack to save big on the cost of flights

<p>Planning your upcoming holiday and haven't nailed down your flight bookings just yet? Well, hold off a bit because there's an optimal strategy to maximise your savings.</p> <p>A recent research study conducted by Expedia has unveiled a golden nugget of advice: Booking your flights on a Sunday can lead to substantial savings, potentially up to 20 percent off your airfare.</p> <p>This valuable insight is part of Expedia's 2024 Air Travel Hacks Report, which is packed with useful information to simplify your trip planning process.</p> <p>Let's dive deeper into this Sunday-saving strategy. When you compare booking your flights on a Sunday to the common practice of booking on a Friday, you'll likely discover substantial cost savings. Considering that average ticket prices have soared by approximately 20 percent compared to last year, any opportunity to trim your expenses becomes paramount.</p> <p>Now, you might be wondering how far in advance you should secure your flights for optimal savings. If you're embarking on a domestic adventure and have your travel plans locked in more than three months ahead, you're in a prime position to economise. The study's findings indicate that travellers who booked their domestic flights at least 14 weeks before departure managed to pocket an average savings of 20 percent compared to those who procrastinated until the 11th hour.</p> <p>On the other hand, if your journey is taking you across international borders, there's less need for anxiety. International fares typically exhibit a fair degree of stability during the six months leading up to your travel date. The sweet spot for booking your flights for an overseas escapade is ideally at least one month prior to departure. This early booking ensures both availability and the potential for cost-effective fares.</p> <p>Here's a summary of the Expedia report's findings:</p> <p><strong>Book on a Sunday to save up to 20% on average<br /></strong>Travellers who booked on Sundays instead of Fridays tended to save, on average, around 20% on domestic flights and international flights. The best day of the week to book has been Sunday, while the day to avoid has been Friday, for the past four years.</p> <p><strong>Book at least three months before domestic flights to save 30% on average<br /></strong>The sweet spot for snagging the best price on domestic flights falls between 70 – 100 days before departure (so about three months in advance of travel). Travellers who booked during that period saved 30% on average compared to those who waited until the last minute (0 – 30 days before travel).</p> <p><strong>Book six months before international flights to save 25% on average<br /></strong>Travellers who booked around six months in advance of international travel saved an average of 25% compared to those who waited until three months or less to book. The key to booking international airfares is to book as soon as possible, with prices traditionally cheapest 160 days or earlier before departure.</p> <p>So be sure to set an alarm or mark your calendar for a Sunday when booking your flights, and if you have long-term travel plans, secure your domestic flights at least 14 weeks ahead. For international journeys, booking a month before your departure date will help you make the most of your travel budget. Happy travels!</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Traveller shares hilarious hack to ensure the middle seat on a plane stays empty

<p>There is nothing more joyous than boarding a plane and being seated next to an empty seat, ensuring you have a comfy flight by not being squished in with other travellers. </p> <p>But with this joy can also come sheer disappointment, when you get comfy in your extra space before a last-minute traveller comes to claim the empty seat.</p> <p>To combat the chance of someone robbing you of your space on a cramped plane, one traveller has shared the hilarious lengths he goes to in order to make sure the middle seat on a plane stays empty. </p> <p>The traveller posted the video of his hilarious hack to TikTok, sharing his trick with others to guarantee some extra space every time you fly.</p> <p>He put his arm upright inside a spare hoodie, placing a hat on top of his hand, to make it look like the seat was already occupied – preventing anyone else from taking that spot.</p> <p>The video has since been taken down, but has been reshared by other accounts.</p> <p>Of course, this hack only works on flights that have open seating policies, where passengers choose their own seats once on board, rather than having them assigned.</p> <p>The trick seems to work, with passengers avoiding his row and taking up empty seats elsewhere. </p> <p>Some viewers called the hack "genius" and said they would try it out for themselves next time they travel. </p> <p>However, others were skeptical, wondering how the trick would work if passengers eager to be seated are walking towards the two front on, rather than from behind. </p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Tips

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7 hacks for retirees to make your money last longer

<p>As Australians continue to live longer, the squeeze is on to make each dollar last longer – and never moreso than in retirement.</p> <p><a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/life-expectancy">Life expectancies in Australia</a> are now 85.4 years for women and 81.3 years for men. Meanwhile, the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/retirement-and-retirement-intentions-australia/latest-release">average age at retirement</a> for all retirees is 56.3 years. That’s up to 29.1 years of retirement to be paid for without a salaried income.</p> <p>Thankfully, making money last longer is just possible, with the help of a few tips and tricks.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Embrace seniors’ discounts</strong></li> </ol> <p>It was once said that “it’s better to pay full price than to admit you’re a senior citizen”. Really? Who wouldn’t prefer the extra cash!</p> <p>Being “senior” opens the door to numerous discounts and freebies.</p> <p>If you haven’t already, apply for your eligible concession cards, including the <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/commonwealth-seniors-health-card">Commonwealth Seniors Health Card</a> (for discounted healthcare and prescriptions) and state or territory seniors card (for discounted/free vehicle registration, public transport and other services).</p> <p>Additionally, many businesses offer seniors discounts – insurers, retailers, attractions and more. But they may not advertise these discounts widely, so it pays to ask.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Maintain a plan</strong></li> </ol> <p>Having a plan and keeping it up to date ensures you don’t overdraw from super, losing the income-generating power of those funds and running out prematurely.</p> <p>I prefer a ‘savings and investment plan’, which sounds nicer and is more comprehensive than a ‘budget’.</p> <p>Incorporate your goals, expenses, assets, and incomes – visibility keeps you disciplined and allows you to act quickly if something is amiss.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Spend points</strong></li> </ol> <p>Many retirees have held their current credit card, store cards and frequent flyer account for years – decades even. How many points are sitting there unused? </p> <p>These points generally aren’t transferable, so can’t be gifted in your will. It’s use them or lose them! </p> <p>Points can pay for everything from groceries to homewares, travel and even your Christmas shopping – conserving your cash and super.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>Get comfortable</strong></li> </ol> <p>Rightsizing your home sooner rather than later has numerous benefits, such as:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/Growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/How-to-save-more-in-your-super/Downsizer-super-contributions/">downsizer super contributions tax breaks</a> to boost superannuation earnings.</li> <li>paying less for your new home, since property prices generally track upwards whilst investing the extra equity.</li> <li>avoiding complications of moving later in life when your health or mobility may not be as good.</li> <li>avoiding a mistake - using the time to find exactly what you want, where you want, rather than being under pressure and having to spend stamp duty again</li> </ul> <p>Home ownership is also a major determinant of how comfortable your retirement will be. And given the current state of Australia’s rental market, selling your home to move into rented accommodation could prove costly. </p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Retain protections</strong></li> </ol> <p>Protections are typically a cost – insurance premiums, legal fees, memberships etc. However, the cost of not having them in place can be far higher.</p> <p>Plus, in the case of insurances, prices and restrictions increase with age – meaning you pay more but get less value for that spend, compared with the more favourable terms of a long-held policy.</p> <p>By all means adjust your protections to suit your current and future needs. But think twice before trying to save a few dollars by discarding insurances or cancelling sports and social memberships that keep you active.</p> <ol start="6"> <li><strong>Update estate planning</strong></li> </ol> <p>Considerable costs (and heartache) inevitably hit a grieving partner and family where someone dies without having their affairs properly in order:</p> <ul> <li>funeral costs and medical bills pile up if funds haven’t been allocated for them.</li> <li>delayed payouts from insurances and super if those details aren’t readily available. </li> <li>loss of economies of scale (living costs per person are cheaper for couples than singles). </li> <li>unexpected taxes, debts, and liabilities.</li> <li>legal conflicts arise where wills are unclear or outdated.</li> <li>a person’s wishes may go overlooked or be challenged where guardianships and power of attorney were not devised.</li> </ul> <p>In extreme cases, the surviving spouse may be forced to sell their home to pay associated costs or because they can’t afford to maintain it alone. </p> <ol start="7"> <li><strong>Seek good advice</strong></li> </ol> <p>Just like a good doctor helps you stay physically and mentally healthy, a good financial adviser helps your finances stay healthy, tactically smart and use strategies to reduce tax which stretches your money further.</p> <p>Be sure their accreditation is up-to-date, and they have experience working with retirees (not just those planning for it during their working years).</p> <p>Often, the cost of this advice pales in comparison to the tax saved and additional income earned through benefits, structures and plans you never even knew about. What’s not to love about that!</p> <p><strong><em>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book, On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women (Ventura Press, $32.99). Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a> </em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Retirement Income

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"I have never seen that": Nat Barr and Shirvo floored by Jamie Oliver's sneaky chicken hack

<p>Celebrity chef and all-round roast chicken wizard Jamie Oliver unleashed a culinary revelation on <em>Sunrise</em> hosts Natalie Barr and Matt Shirvington recently, rendering them momentarily dumbfounded by his quirky approach to chicken cookery.</p> <p>The Naked Chef himself, a spry 48 years young, graced the <em>Sunrise</em> breakfast program with his presence to unveil his unique chicken-cooking hack. Sporting an apron that read "I'm not a regular chef, I'm a cool chef," Jamie embarked on a culinary adventure like no other.</p> <p>To achieve chicken nirvana, Jamie began by marinating the poultry and potatoes in an enchanting blend of lemon, herbs and honey (presumably sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust) before revealing the move that floored the two hosts.</p> <p>In a move that would make Houdini jealous, Jamie wedged those marinated chicken legs into an oven rack, like a magic trick gone deliciously wrong. With the poise of a culinary acrobat, he lowered the rack into a preheated oven, allowing the chicken pieces to dangle over the potatoes below, like a suspenseful scene in a blockbuster movie.</p> <p>Apparently, the technique is used so that the excess marinade would gracefully drip into the tray, creating an explosion of flavour that would make fireworks blush with envy. In Jamie's own words, "This is giving you the best, most juicy chicken and (it’s) crispy."</p> <p>Mind. Blown.</p> <p>And where did Jamie find inspiration for this chicken wizardry? Why, in his travels around the Mediterranean, where rotisseries are as common as sunscreen at the beach. Truly, Jamie Oliver has taken "thinking outside the box" to a whole new level.</p> <p>Nat Barr and Shirvo appeared utterly mesmerised by Jamie's culinary sorcery. Shirvington exclaimed, "Mind blown," while Barr added, "Wow, I have never seen that!" If they'd had hats, they would've tipped them in reverence.</p> <p>In fact, the <em>Sunrise</em> hosts, joined by Mark Beretta, gave Jamie a standing ovation at the end of his demonstration – before revealing that Jamie is set to make a triumphant return to the Sydney Opera House in November for one night only, where he will grace the stage for an evening of deep conversations about his career, inspirations, life, love, and what keeps him motivated.</p> <p>In Jamie's own words: "Every time I visit Australia, it feels like a big old hug – it’s a real home away from home for me, and I'm so excited to be back this year for this event."</p> <p>So, prepare your questions about good food, good times, and perhaps even chicken-chandelier cooking, and get ready to laugh until your ribs ache. Jamie Oliver is back to steal the culinary spotlight, one chicken leg at a time.</p> <p><em>Images: Sunrise</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Try these 12 clever pillowcase hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner

<p><strong>Use a pillowcase as a laundry bag while travelling </strong></p> <p>When you travel, you always want to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes. Stick a pillowcase in your suitcase and toss in the dirty laundry as it accumulates. When you get home, just empty the pillowcase into the washer and throw in the pillowcase as well.</p> <p><strong>Use a pillowcase to dust ceiling fan blades</strong></p> <p>Have you ever seen dust bunnies careening off your ceiling fan when you turn it on for the first time in weeks? Grab an old pillowcase and place it over one of the ceiling fan blades. Slowly pull off the pillowcase. The blades get dusted and the dust bunnies stay in the pillowcase, instead of parachuting to the floor.</p> <p><strong>Turn a pillowcase into napkins </strong></p> <p>Who needs formal linen napkins that need to be pressed every time you use them? Pillowcases are available in a wide array of colours and designs. Pick a colour or design you like, and start cutting. Prevent fraying by sewing a hem on each side, or simply finish with iron-on hemming tape. You’ll have a new set of colourful napkins for a fraction of the cost of regular cloth napkins.</p> <p><strong>Use a pillowcase to keep matching bedding together </strong></p> <p>Your recently arrived overnight guests want to go to bed, but it’s not made. You run to the linen closet, but you can’t find a matched set of sheets. Next time, file away your linens. Place newly laundered and folded sheets in their matching pillowcase before putting them in the closet.</p> <p><strong>Prepare travel pillows</strong></p> <p>Family road trips can be a lot of fun, but they can also get a little grimy too. Your youngsters may want to bring their own pillows along for the ride, but after several days in the car, they’re likely to get dirty with candy, food and markers. Take their favourite pillows and layer several pillowcases on each. When the outside one gets dirty, remove it for a fresh start!</p> <p><strong>Use a pillowcase to wrap a present </strong></p> <p>Trying to wrap a basketball or an odd-shaped piece of art? Is your wrapping paper not doing the trick? Place the gift in a pillowcase and tie closed with a ribbon.</p> <p><strong>Use a pillowcase to store your jumpers</strong></p> <p>Stored in plastic, winter jumpers can get musty. But stored in a wardrobe, they’re prey to moths. The solution can be found among your linens. Put the sweaters in a pillowcase for seasonal storage. They will stay free from dust but the pillowcase fabric will allow them to breathe.</p> <p><strong>Use old pillowcases as garment bags </strong></p> <p>You’ve just laundered a favourite dress shirt or skirt and you know you won’t be wearing it again for a while. To protect the garment, cut a hole in the top of an old pillowcase and slip it over the hanger and clothing. Psst – you can also use this trick when you’re packing for a holiday.</p> <p><strong>Use pillowcases as dust bags </strong></p> <p>You reach up to pull a leather purse or suede shoes down from a shelf. Of course, the item is dusty and now you have to clean it. Save yourself the time and hassle next time by storing infrequently used items in a pillowcase. They’ll be clean and ready to use when the occasion arises.</p> <p><strong>Wash your delicates in a pillowcase </strong></p> <p>Jumpers and pantyhose can get pulled out of shape when they twist around in the washer. To protect these garments during washing, toss them into a pillowcase and close with string or rubber band. Set the machine on the delicate setting, add the soap, and worry not about knots.</p> <p><strong>Machine-wash stuffed animals in pillowcases</strong></p> <p>Your child’s favourite stuffed animal is cute, but mighty dusty. Time for a bath! Place it in a pillowcase and put it in the washer. The pillowcase will ensure it gets a gentle but thorough wash. If any parts fall off the stuffed animal, it’ll be caught in the pillowcase so you can reattach them after the washing machine bath.</p> <p><strong>Use a pillowcase to clear out cobwebs </strong></p> <p>There’s a cobweb way up high in the corner of your dining room. Before you take a broom to it, cover the broom with an old pillowcase. Now you can wipe away the cobweb without scratching the wall paint. It’s also easier to remove the cobweb from the pillow than to pull it out of the broom bristles.</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/home-tips/12-clever-uses-for-pillowcases-youll-wish-you-knew-sooner?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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