Category: lifestyle

6 simple rules to manage your finances after lockdown that everyone can stick to

It’s been a long couple of months, but it seems like our time in this third lockdown will be coming to an end in the near future. In England, non-essential shops, hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms, among other things, are slated to open on 12th April, which is great news for those of us with roots down to our elbows and a need to pound the treadmill.

But there’s a growing concern, especially among those of us who have managed to save or improve our spending habits during lockdown, about what the easing of lockdown will mean for our bank balances and relationship with money. It’s natural to feel protective of progress made during lockdown, especially when saving money might have been one of the only silver linings to a really difficult time, but anxiety over the temptation to splurge is not going to help your financial wellbeing in the long run. Here are some ways that you can enjoy the easing of lockdown while maintaining good saving habits and a positive money mindset:

Plan in a little extra spending
Lockdown has been hard for everyone, particularly working parents, students and people living alone or with flatmates. Giving yourself permission to spend a little more over the next couple of months on things that you’ve missed is absolutely fine – in fact, it could be classed as an act of self-care. Take a look at your budget, or how you’ve been spending and saving in lockdown, and plan in some activities that you’ve been looking forward to doing. Create a savings pot specifically for this, and make sure that money is ring-fenced for guilt-free enjoyment.

Automate your savings
If you’ve been enjoying the feeling of saving during lockdown, make sure it’s something you can keep up without much effort by automating it. Take a look at what you’d like to save each month, and set up a standing order to transfer that amount to a savings account the day after you get paid. This way, the money is out of sight and out of mind, leaving you with a better idea of what you can afford to spend.

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Covid stimulus: Biden signs $1.9tn relief bill into law

US President Joe Biden has signed a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) economic relief bill that aims to help Americans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic into law.

The bill includes $1,400 payments, an extension of jobless benefits, and a child tax credit that is expect to lift millions out of poverty.

Mr Biden said the relief package will rebuild “the backbone of this country”.

The spending bill, one of the largest in US history, passed Congress without a single Republican supporter.

Mr Biden is due to give a primetime address later on Thursday to tout the bill’s provisions. He and other Democrats will also hold a signing ceremony at the White House on Friday.

This sixth Covid-19 relief bill is a major legislative win for Mr Biden.

The package has been broadly popular among Americans.

A March Pew Research Center poll found that 70% of US adults surveyed expressed support for the bill, including 41% of Republicans.

Unemployment skyrocketed over the last year, with a current rate of 6.2%, according to the US Labor Department.

Mr Biden had originally planned the bill signing for Friday, but it was pushed up in his schedule “because Congress enroled the bill more quickly than we anticipated,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a tweet.

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The very best Airbnbs in the Cotswolds to book now for your post-lockdown escape

Are you even British if you haven’t had endless conversations with all your friends about how “amaaaaazing” The Cotswolds is? After all, this picturesque area boasts Michelin-starred restaurants, lakeside lodges, rose-adorned gardens and honey-hued stone cottages. It’s the go-to destination for the celebrities and influencers of the country (when they can’t get to Dubai), and it’s *actually* quite affordable.

With staycations THE holiday to be planning in 2021 (vaccine passports, possible quarantines and the endless uncertainty are enough to put anyone off travelling abroad for the moment), the Cotswolds are just going to continue to grow in popularity. So if you’re looking for the perfect spot for a relaxing countryside retreat in close proximity to Oxford, Cheltenham and London, we’d suggest planning your escape to the country. Stat.

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Hedging plants

One of the best investments that an investor could ever make is in hedging plants. These hedging plants are so flexible, they can be used to offset just about any risk an investor might come across. For example, hedging can be used in a wide range of situations such as trying to offset the risk of interest rate fluctuations by changing your investments to cash flow instruments, hedging can be used when looking to hedge the risk of inflation so that you can protect yourself against the inflation that is occurring. Hedging plants are one of the best investments because they are flexible, they can be used to offset risk, they do not have to be replanted every year and hedging itself is a great strategy for increasing your savings bank account. You do need to use the right hedging plan to in order to find the best plan.

There are many hedging plants to choose from, some of the most common plants would include cottonwood, basal, Columbine and scabiosa hedges. Most hedging plans are designed to either reduce the risk of loss or protect against risk. So for example if you were looking to protect against the risk of inflation then you would plant trees, this would make the hedging plan achieves its aim. You should also make sure that you plant the hedging plants correctly, for example if it is the case of cottonwood hedging planters then the cottonwood hedges should be placed on top of the soil around the tree rather than directly on the tree.

Some of the most common hedging plants are usually quite easy to plant, although there are some very rare species that will require specialist gardening knowledge and planting techniques in order for them to grow. One of the most popular hedging plants is Columbine hedging, but this is a very slow growing plant which are susceptible to cold weather and have a shallow root system. This means that it will not do well in dry climates and will become weaker over the winter months. On the other hand scabiosa hedging can be planted in any climate as it is resistant to dry weather, it is a fast growing plant with an overall average height of about 25 inches and a spread of about one square meter.

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The most stylish and functional picnic bags to buy now ahead of lockdown lifting

Back in normal times (i.e. pre-Covid; pre a year of being in lockdown for longer than we’ve been out of it), a picnic was the kind of activity reserved for the long, endless sunny days at the height of summer. But with restrictions only allowing for outdoor meet-ups (in England, you are currently allowed to meet with one other person and from March 29, five people from outside your household) and the need to socially distance as much as possible, picnics are now fair game, no matter the temperatures.

In the absence of dinner parties and meeting friends at the pub, a lazy picnic in the park is a pretty great substitute. As well ensuring you have a bottle of rosé from your wine subscription, more snacks than you could realistically eat, and the perfect people watching spot, it’s worth investing in some al fresco dining basics to make your meal on the ground more enjoyable. A stylish picnic blanket is a must, and there are some great picnic accessories to elevate your day out. But we can’t recommend investing in an *actual* picnic bag enough. Because there’s nothing worse than your Sainsbury packet spilling all your contents mid-way to the park when you’ve tried to add *just one more bottle* of fizz to your load.

The best garden furniture to transform your outdoor space ahead of summer – from bistro table sets to garden rugs & hammocks

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Best picnic sets: Here’s everything you need to elevate your upcoming socially distanced picnic

While there’s no denying the catastrophic (and on-going) impacts of Coronavirus, there have been a couple of positive outcomes. Not least our heightened appreciation for friends and family – and an overwhelming desire to see them in person the very second we can.

The latest lockdown might be lifting ever, so, slowly, but if all goes according to the roadmap plan, by 29 March we can meet in groups of up to six outdoors. (Currently, you can only meet with one other person from another household). So, what better way to make use of this easing of restrictions than through the humble art of picnicking. Meeting friends for chats and outdoor pack-up lunches/wine/*all* the cheese – with our picnic bags and blankets on hand – is something we’re counting down the days to, even if it means we’ll need a jacket and an extra blanket for the moment.

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Ant Group boss Simon Hu steps down in restructuring

he chief executive of China’s Ant Group has stepped down “for personal reasons” as the online payment giant undergoes a restructuring.

Simon Hu will be replaced by executive chairman Eric Jing, the company said.

Ant is controlled by billionaire Jack Ma who first made his name through the trading platform Alibaba.

The firm has come under intense regulatory pressure and was forced to drop its planned $37bn public share sale last year.

China re-opens door to Ant Group’s stock market debut
Is the Ant Group shake-up a sign of things to come?
Ant Group is China’s biggest payments provider, with more than 730 million monthly users on its digital payments service Alipay.

But it also acts as a marketplace for loans. It takes a fee to match borrowers with banks, who then take on the risk.

It also offers savings accounts and insurance, all through its mobile phone app.

However Jack Ma has attracted controversy in China, criticising the state-dominated banking sector, and the company is in the cross-hairs of regulators, eager to bring it into line with more traditional banks and lenders, and to contain its market dominance.

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Roblox: ‘We paid off our parents’ mortgage making video games’

When identical twins Ben and Matt Horton began making serious money from creating video games, their parents couldn’t believe it.

“It was quite bizarre at first, because I was doing a paper round and they were blown away,” says Ben. “They said there was no way a paper round can make this much.”

His brother Matt adds: “It was a significant amount of money. They thought we were doing shady stuff online.”

As it turned out, the brothers had produced their first big hit – a game called Boat Ride, launched on the online gaming platform Roblox – and they were just 13.

Seven years later, Ben and Matt work full-time on gaming, with Ben specialising on the software side and Matt doing video production.

Their games have been played more than 100 million times and each of them earns £100,000 a year.

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Mathias Cormann set to head OECD despite climate record

Mathias Cormann, Australia’s longtime former finance minister, is set to take over as chief of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Mr Cormann, a centre-right politician, had faced opposition stemming from his record on climate change.

He tried to abolish Australia’s renewable energy targets and has called carbon pricing a “very expensive hoax”.

Sweden’s Cecilia Malmström was also vying to lead the group, which includes 37 of the world’s biggest economies.

The Paris-based OECD, which helps develop and coordinate policies among its members, is expected to finalise Mr Cormann’s selection next week. He would serve a five-year term starting in June.

Greenpeace International, which helped spearhead outside opposition to Mr Cormann’s candidacy, called his selection a “missed opportunity” for the group, which includes the US, UK, Germany and Japan among others.

“We have little confidence in Mr Cormann’s ability to ensure the OECD is a leader in tackling the climate crisis when he himself has an atrocious record on the issue, including opposition to carbon pricing,” executive director Jennifer Morgan said.

“This was a missed opportunity for the OECD member states to draw a line in the sand and disqualify anyone with a history of blocking climate action from senior international appointments.”

Mr Cormann has responded to the criticism, saying he was “absolutely committed to ambitious and effective action on climate change”, but that there were different ways to achieve it.

Who is Mathias Cormann?
As the next leader of the Paris-based OECD, Mr Cormann is facing an agenda that includes tackling the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, addressing climate change and reaching a global deal on how to tax technology companies.

A native German speaker who was born in Belgium, Mr Cormann moved to Australia in his mid-20s, working in health insurance and politics.

Prospects brighter for global economy, says report
OECD: No deal on digital tax risks trade war
He holds the record as the country’s longest-serving finance minister, serving from 2013 to 2020. He also represented western Australia as a Liberal Party senator from 2007 to 2020.

Known to favour lower taxes, he pledged during his campaign for the OECD job to deploy “every policy and analytical capability available through the OECD to help economies around the world achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050”.

The group should help identify “market-based … solutions which maximise reduction outcomes in a way that preserves energy affordability and is economically responsible” he added.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed the selection as a win for his country, calling it “the most senior appointment of an Australian candidate to an international body for decades,” in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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