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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Who doesn’t want extra cash each month? Here are the ways you can have it

Small changes, doing different things, every little bit can help to boost your disposable income and give you the life that you want to lead.

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The normal scenario for many these days sort of goes like this. You get up you go to work, you earn your money and you do that for approximately twenty days of a month. You earn an income, you pay your bills and what is left is yours to do, well, what you want with, am I right? However, for many, that amount of money is fixed each month, and even if you had all the will in the world and took on extra responsibility in the workplace or showed initiative, unless there is overtime or bonus to be had nothing changes. So how can you get some extra cash in your pocket each month?

I wanted to share with you some of the things that you could do to help you do that. Small changes, doing different things, every little bit can help to boost your disposable income and give you the life that you want to lead.

When was the last time you checked your bank statement?

The best thing to do first is to print off the last few months bank statements and start to analyze exactly where your money is going. This is a really good exercise as it can be quite naive to constantly spend on your debit card, and it can make you lose sight of exactly how much you spend each day or week.

You may also find that there could be rogue payments and debits leaving your account for things you had either forgotten about or thought you had cancelled. This is an excellent exercise a sit helps you to potentially free up some money straight away.

Lastly, knowing how much your outgoings are exactly gives you something to work with when I raise another point later on in the article.

Time to get a handle on those outgoings

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Now you know what your outgoings are each month and those exact bill amounts, this is when you can try to reduce them and bring the overall costs down. Some of the utilities you pay out for each month such as energy, for example, may not be the cheapest way of doing things. Comparing bills such as energy and even insurance providers could help you to see that a lot of companies save their best rates and deals to entice new customers.

Switching over to another provider could really reduce your overall costs. Your outgoings may also need looking at when it comes to other debits like gym memberships or subscriptions, ask yourself do you need them?

Switching and saving, and even cancelling things you no longer want or need can really help free up some income. Then you just have to tackle the other spending you do, which is mostly out of your disposable income.

Let’s sort the debts out

Before we get onto making savings with your spending, there are possibly other bills that you pay out for each month. It might be that you have debts for loans or credit cards that you pay out minimum amounts for each month. But having multiple credit accounts means that you are getting different interest charges and this is what can mount up over time. Tackling your debts and making them a focus can actually help not only to pay them off but to bring down your overall monthly spend. Who needs to pay multiple interest charges when you can pay only one or even take advantage of interest free offers. One f the first things to consider would be your credit cards and switching the balance over to a new provider. A cheaper rate means more getting paid off or could even mean an interest free period to help you pay it off for good.

A look online at providers like barclays could give you some idea of what is out there. Another option could be to consider a loan which could consolidate a few different debts. This gives you one payment, a payment plan to pay it off and one lot of interest charges. However you choose to do it, don’t bury your head in the sand and get it paid off sooner rather than later.

Could you be a savvy spender?

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The next thing to think about would be how you spend your disposable income and could you make some changes to how you do it. One of the biggest expenses people have each week is money being spent on food and drink. But often a few changes to your habits can help bring that cost right down. You could think about meal planning, which could help reduce what you sped as you have a list with exactly what you need. It stops the impulse buying and also reaching for the take out menus. Reducing food waste and also shopping your cupboards instead of the store is also a few things you could try to avoid spending money. Cashback sites and looking for vouchers can help bring the cost down as well and this can work not just for food but for other purchases like clothes or meals out.

There are many ways you can spend less, and being a savvy shopper can actually be a lot of fun as well. As you watch your income rise you start to feel more and more motivated to find bargains and make the changes necessary.

Boost your income in your spare time

Finally, could you boost your income in your spare time? The chances are you probably can, and you will have free time to do it. Sat watching TV at night with your phone, you could be filling out online surveys and earning some money as well. Maybe using your social media profile for reviewing things or earning off advertising. You could even turn a hobby into a money maker like a blog, for example. Boosting your income and being proactive helps to produce money for things lie savings or those added life luxuries. So it is definitely worth it.

I hope that these tips help you to have some extra cash each month.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Buying a coach: The guide

No matter whether you offer day trips or provide your services to some of the biggest tour operators, your choice of coach can make or break you.

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Tour companies and such like have a massive selection of coaches at their disposal. From various brands, to different specifications, to a whole host of optional features… the list is endless! Thus, narrowing down your search for the perfect coach can be a difficult challenge. This is especially the case when you consider the weight of your decision. No matter whether you offer day trips or provide your services to some of the biggest tour operators, your choice of coach can make or break you.

The aim of every business is to make a profit. This begins with your coach selection.
Photo from Pexels.com

This post is here to help you on your quest to finding the right coach for you. So, read on to discover all of the attributes you must consider…

Image – Evidently, you want a coach that looks impressive. It needs to catch the eye. Nonetheless, it is not merely about picking a ‘beautiful’ coach. It has to fit in with your brand image. If you offer luxury travel, you need to find a coach with that five-star edge and a keen attention to detail. This relates to the exterior and the interior. A lot of people tend to overlook the importance or the former. Yet this is the first thing people will notice when they approach your coach and therefore it is definitely significant.

Driver Ease and Visibility – Don’t ignore the needs of the driver. It can be very easy to do so, as we get rapped up in ensuring the passengers have the perfect travel experience. Yet, you need to give your driver all the tools to guarantee their driving experience is as easy as possible. Make sure the driving position is ergonomic and spacious. Access to controls should be easy as well. You may wish to consider other optional features that will assist, such as a reversing camera. Don’t overlook how pivotal this factor is. After all, if the driver struggles to manage the coach, the passengers are going to feel unsafe.

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Profitability – The aim of every business is to make a profit. This begins with your coach selection. Of course you will want to benefit from a great deal when you purchase the coach. However, the true value lies in how much money the coach can make you. You should look for a brand of coach that takes great steps to maximize gas oil fuel economy. Other features you should be looking out for include the likes of optimum weight distribution and aerodynamics. 

Comfort – Comfort is undoubtedly one of the most important factors you need to bear in mind when purchasing any coach. The longer the trips are, the more important comfort becomes. Quality of seats is paramount. Most companies will give you the chance to upgrade upholstery and such like. This is something you should seriously consider. Comfort also relates to on-board entertainment options and anything that is going to make the passengers’ experience more enjoyable. From reading lights and to air conditioning, to Apple iPod connections, TV monitors and catering options… there are lots of ways you can maximize your coach’s comfort factor.

Performance – Last but not least, this post would not be complete without mentioning the coach’s performance. Obviously engine specifications and such like are of paramount importance. You need a coach that is going to consistently provide you with a high level of quality. Reliability is a key component you should always be looking out for. How can you be sure of this? Well, you begin by looking for a brand with a good reputation in the industry. This will ensure you of reliability. Then to maximize performance you need to look for coaches that have been constructed using advanced materials and production components. Moreover, rigorous engineering testing and extensive customization and automation in the manufacturing process will be beneficial.

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Health & Wellness

Little link found on popper use and dependency; no correlation with mental health or psychological stress

A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.

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Young gay and bisexual men are frequent users of alkyl nitrites, or poppers, but few show signs of addiction, risky consumption habits or other psychosocial problems. This is according to ‘Harmless? A hierarchical analysis of poppers use among young gay and bisexual men’, by Dr Daniel Demant and Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, and published in Drug and Alcohol Review.

A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.

The study is particularly noteworthy considering some efforts to control popper use and distribution – e.g. in Australia. Dr. Daniel Demant, public health researcher at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who conducted the study, said that the decision by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to step back from prohibiting poppers is commendable. The TGA, instead, elected to classify them as a Schedule 3 drug, available over the counter in pharmacies from February 2020.

An interim decision by the TGA in 2018 recommended poppers be classed as a prohibited substance, in the same category as methamphetamine and heroin, which would have made “overnight criminals” of the estimated 100,000 plus Australian users.

“What we see with this research is that poppers are a very commonly used drug in the LGBT community, both recently and over their lifetime,” Demant said. “Most of the users are already oppressed or marginalized based on their social identity as gay or bisexual men. This creates a question as to whether there would have been a discriminatory element in banning a substance with such a low risk profile.”

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Demant added that banning a substance that is used by so many people would create a “new class of criminals, basically overnight.”

Currently, poppers are available on prescription from pharmacies, but they are more commonly bought illicitly, in sex-on-premises venues and LGBT bars. A vial containing 25-30mL of the clear, strong-smelling fluid, possibly labelled as “VHS tape cleaner”, “leather cleaner” or “room deodorizer”, sells for up to $50 (or equivalent in countries like the Philippines), despite costing a couple of cents to manufacture.

The new TGA decision to regulate poppers rather than banning them hopefully paves the way for some measure of quality control as well as the removal of the “extreme profit margin” that exists now, Demant said.

Demant said that with poppers becoming a pharmacy-only medicine, safety standards would have to be met and pharmacy staff could provide guidance in cases where poppers might react badly with users’ other medications, particularly Viagra.

“We could stop pretending that poppers are sold for anything other than getting people high. And once we do offer it in pharmacies, we would have something made to the highest standards for people to use,” Demant ended.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Ways to channel your creativity online

The internet is a great place for many reasons. If you’re heading out to the store, you can see what time it is open until, and exactly what they stock in there. You can read the latest breaking news from all over the world. You can find romantic partners, and even friends, within those flexible walls of the internet. All in all, it’s a pretty great tool for doing just about anything.

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The internet is a great place for many reasons. If you’re heading out to the store, you can see what time it is open until, and exactly what they stock in there. You can read the latest breaking news from all over the world. You can find romantic partners, and even friends, within those flexible walls of the internet. All in all, it’s a pretty great tool for doing just about anything.

In fact, one of the best things about the internet is that it allows you to channel and express your creativity, in a number of different ways. But how can you use it for this purpose? Here are five ideas.

#1: Instagram influencin’

We’re in the age of the Instagram influencer, and whilst it may be a little overwhelming at times, Instagram is a great platform to promote your creativity. Whether it’s your camera skills (hello, great selfies), or you’re using it to showcase your art to people, it is undeniably a useful way to get a following for your art, and to find people who also share in your passions and interests, too.

#2: YouTube

YouTube has been around since the beginning of time it seems, and it’s one of those things that just won’t budge. Whilst it’s great for catching up on those funny videos of people falling over in shopping centers, it’s also a really good place for expressing your creativity, through music, art, politics, or whatever it is that you’re interested in. See what you could create, and get YouTubing.

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#3: Digital portfolios

If you’re already a committed artist, you need to build up a portfolio. No portfolio usually means no people seeing your stuff, which usually means no money. Such is the life of a struggling artist, huh? Getting your own website – which you can, of course, personalize – is a useful way of getting all of your work together, and showcasing it to the world. And it looks super professional, nobody is arguing with that.

#4: Music making

Never has it been easier to record your own track, and get it out there into the world. You don’t need to be in with people at the top of the music industry food chain to be successful nowadays, you just need a Mac and your best burst of creativity. Check out some ways to get your Mac in order before you begin using it as a recording studio, and upload your music to Spotify or Soundcloud.

#5: Etsy, Etsy, Etsy

There are plenty of platforms online to sell your art on, and Etsy is one of them. This is a great site because there is probably (most definitely) somebody hanging around on Etsy who has the same interests as you, and wants to pay you real, actual money for your work. See what sites would be the best for the kind of things that you want to sell, and start earning some $$$ for your brain-children.

Enjoy channeling your creativity online, and maybe even making a successful business out of it.

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Health & Wellness

LGBT people more likely to develop dementia, according to study

More than 14% of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants.

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Photo by Julie Johnson from Unsplash.com

More than 14% of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants. Even after adjusting for factors such as income, age and race, SGM participants were 29% more likely to report subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

This is according to a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles in the US. The study noted that to date, few studies have investigated the symptoms and disease progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the LGBT community. And so to examine these associations, Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at the Institute for Health & Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a large phone-based survey led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study analyzed data from 44,403 adults aged 45 and older across nine states in the US (Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) that participated in the 2015 BRFSS optional modules on the Healthy Brain Initiative, which included subjective cognitive decline and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Roughly three percent of participants (1,253) identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM). Subjective cognitive decline was defined as self-reported confusion or memory problems that have been getting worse over the past year.

The study – as noted – found higher rates of subjective cognitive decline among LGBT people compared to their cisgender heterosexual counterparts.

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“Given that one in seven adults who identified as a sexual or gender minority reported subjective cognitive decline, it is critical that more opportunities exist for people in these communities to receive regular evaluation for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” Flatt said. “There is also a need for greater education on Alzheimer’s risk, signs and symptoms, and training of health care providers to ensure inclusive and welcoming care for LGBTQ+ populations.”

Flatt added that “while we do not yet know for certain why sexual or gender minority individuals had higher subjective cognitive decline, we believe it may be due to higher rates of depression, inability to work, high stress, and a lack of regular access to healthcare.”

According to Flatt, less than half of SGM adults with SCD in the study talked to their health care provider about it. SGM adults with SCD were also more likely to report that they had to give up day-to-day activities (39% vs. 29%, p=0.003) and needed help with household tasks (44% vs. 35%, p=0.01) than cisgender heterosexual participants. Both groups were similar in terms of talking to their health care provider about their SCD.

LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.
Photo by Cristian Newman from Unsplash.com

To advance research into Alzheimer’s in the LGBT community, Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, PhD, professor and director of Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, created the “Aging with Pride: Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action (IDEA)” study. A multisite study in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, this is the first federally-funded study on dementia intervention specifically designed for LGBT older adults with dementia and their caregivers.

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The researchers had previously identified unique risk factors of LGBT older adults living with dementia through the first longitudinal study of this population (Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study). Using longitudinal data with three time points (2014, 2015 and 2016), modifiable factors predicting physical functioning and quality of life (QOL) among LGBT older adults with dementia (n=646) were identified.

LGBT older adults living with dementia were significantly more likely to live alone (nearly 60%), not be partnered or married (65%), not have children (72%), and not have a caregiver (59%), when compared to older non-LGBT adults living with dementia. Previous experiences of discrimination and victimization (b=-0.19, p<.001) were negatively associated with QOL among LGBT older adults living with dementia. Socializing with friends or family (b=1.11, p<.05) was positively associated with QOL, and physical activity (b = 0.26, p<.001) were associated with better physical functioning.

Also as reported at AAIC 2019, “Aging with Pride: IDEA” includes a tailored approach in which trained coaches identify and modify challenging behaviors that are adversely affecting older adults living with dementia and their caregivers, either of whom are LGBT. The coaches delivered an individualized program of exercise, and behavioral and coping strategies designed to improve physical function, independence and QOL.

The exercise intervention is a low-impact physical exercise program including nine one-hour sessions over six weeks designed to improve physical functioning and maintain independence. The behavior and coping strategies include: techniques for working with LGBT-specific trauma, identity management and disclosure of their LGBT identities to providers and others, plus support engagement in the LGBT community and dementia services. Testing of the intervention is now underway and will be delivered to 225 pairs of LGBT older adults living with dementia and their caregivers.

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“Given their lifetime experiences of victimization, discrimination and bias, many LGBT older adults forgo seeking needed medical care,” said Fredriksen-Goldsen. “LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

New Aquaman confirmed to be LGBTQIA in ‘Young Justice: Outsiders’

Move over Arthur Curry; the Aquaman of the moment is Kaldur, the animated character Aquaman in “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, who was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

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Move over Arthur Curry; the Aquaman of the moment is Kaldur, the animated character Aquaman in “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, who was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

In season 3, episode 20 of Young Justice, titled “Quiet Conversations”, a montage of loved ones reuniting at the episode’s end showed Kaldur approached by Wyynde – a former member of the Atlantean Purist movement, who sought to remove Arthur Curry from the throne of Atlantis in Young Justice season 1. The scene – albeit short – showed the two young men holding hands and then kissing.

Though it wasn’t stated if Kaldur self-identifies as gay or bisexual, he was portrayed to belong to the LGBTQIA community all the same.

As a background: Kaldur is one of the six teenage sidekicks who originally formed the Justice League’s covert operations group. He was given a chance to become Arthur Curry’s protege after saving the first Aquaman’s life during a battle with Ocean Master. The character was once portrayed to have feelings for Tula, a student at the Conservatory of Sorcery in Atlantis, though this ended when he learned that she had become involved with his best friend while Kaldur was on the surface leading The Team.

Kaldur, however, is not the first LGBTQIA Aquaman. In the Aquaman comic books, the second Aqualad was outed shortly after his introduction in 2010; but the character vanished into oblivion during the New 52 reboot in 2011.

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Now here’s to representation that you can still save the world no matter who you date/sleep with.

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NEWSMAKERS

Loneliness and social anxiety a bad combination for people using dating apps

Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who use dating apps on their phones, a new study suggests.

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Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who use dating apps on their phones, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people who fit that profile were more likely than others to say they’ve experienced negative outcomes because of their dating app use.

“It’s not just that they’re using their phone a lot,” said Kathryn Coduto, lead author of the study and doctoral student in communication at The Ohio State University. “We had participants who said they were missing school or work, or getting in trouble in classes or at work because they kept checking the dating apps on their phones.”

Coduto said it is a problem she has seen firsthand.

“I’ve seen people who use dating apps compulsively. They take their phones out when they’re at dinner with friends or when they’re in groups. They really can’t stop swiping,” she said.

The study was published recently online in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Participants were 269 undergraduate students with experience using one or more dating apps. All answered questions designed to measure their loneliness and social anxiety (for example, they were asked if they were constantly nervous around other people).

Compulsive use was measured by asking participants how much they agreed with statements like “I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps.”

Participants also reported negative outcomes from using dating apps, such as missing class or work or getting in trouble because they were on their phones.

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Results showed, not surprisingly, that socially anxious participants preferred to meet and talk to potential dating partners online rather than in person. They tended to agree with statements like “I am more confident socializing on dating apps than offline.”

But that alone didn’t lead them to compulsively use dating apps, Coduto said.

“If they were also lonely, that’s what made the problem significant,” she said. “That combination led to compulsive use and then negative outcomes.”

Coduto said people need to be aware of their dating app use and consider whether they have a problem. If they have trouble setting limits for themselves, they can use apps that restrict dating app use to certain times of day or to a set amount of time each day.

“Especially if you’re lonely, be careful in your choices. Regulate and be selective in your use,” she said.

Coduto’s co-authors on the study were Roselyn Lee-Won, associate professor of communication at Ohio State and Young Min Baek of Yonsei University in Korea.

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