What The Joy of Dolphins Can Teach Us About Climate Solutions

On one of those beautiful, cloudless days the Bahamas are famous for, photographer Doc White and his wife, Ceci, dove into the Atlantic Ocean with an assignment to photograph marine mammals. What they considered a routine expedition soon turned into a moment they’ll cherish forever.

As they swam in the crystalline sea, they noticed a pod of spotted dolphins. Awestruck, they longed for a closer look but respectfully kept their distance. Then, something magical happened: The dolphins approached. They made a calm retreat, only to come swimming back moments later. This went on for almost an hour. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the water, and I had never seen that before,” says White.

The pair yearned for that dreamlike moment of physical connection, but resolved to hold out their hands and let the animals decide what to do. “Sure enough, they came up and started nestling against us!” White says, still excited by the memory years later. “Each dolphin acted a bit differently. Some would come very close and touch us; others, while obviously curious, would still keep their distance.”

White had always considered himself an ardent environmentalist and devoted advocate for marine life, but that delightful experience deepened his commitment to protect the natural world. He thinks that if those creatures can exhibit curiosity, playfulness, and joy, they must have other feelings as well — perhaps even an awareness of how the world they share with us is changing.

While we must be careful in viewing animal behavior through the lens of human experiences and anthropomorphic terms, scientists have used simple observations and rigorous testing to assess dolphin behavior. More often than not, their results show that the charismatic creatures exhibit what we’d recognize as joy.

Witnessing that has had a profound impact on White and others. Their close encounters with marine mammals have led them to believe that any solution to the climate crisis must include rethinking our relationship to the natural world. A long history of exploitation and extraction has given many people the idea that we live in a world apart from nature. But if dolphins can, like us, feel joy and other emotions, perhaps we are more connected to them than we realize.

And if that is true, perhaps the experiences and perspectives of the animals with which we share this planet should inspire and inform our climate work. “If you fall in love with a place or an animal and what it gives you,” says White, “then you owe it to that animal to share it with others.”

The secret lives of dolphins

A compelling body of research suggests that dolphins and other animals — dogs, chimpanzees, and elephants being perhaps the most mesmerizing examples — feel a range of sentiments long considered unique to humans, including joy, sadness, empathy, and compassion.  Of course, it doesn’t take a PhD in biology to know dogs are capable of unbridled happiness — anyone who’s watched one catch a Frisbee can see that.

Discerning emotions in cetaceans is a harder task, one Janet Mann, a biologist and psychologist at Georgetown University, relishes. Mann has long been fascinated by animal behavior and human interaction. She began her career studying primates but, intrigued by their complexity, shifted her focus to dolphins. “With dolphins, there’s a challenge of wondering what is going on in their heads because they don’t have facial expressions,” she says. “We have important dissimilarities, as well as important similarities.”

One of those similarities is remarkable intelligence. Dolphins recognize themselves when looking in a mirror. They can use echolocation to identify an object, then choose a matching object from an assortment of items. They possess sophisticated language skills, understand sentence syntax, and recognize the difference between direct and indirect objects. After homo sapiens, dolphins have the largest brains in relation to their body size. “Their brains developed to that size around 30 million years ago, and our brains only started getting bigger around 1.8 million years ago,” Mann says.

And like humans, dolphins are individual beings with distinct personalities. “When people say, ‘What are dolphins like?’ I’m like, ‘Well, what are humans like?’ It’s tough to give a general answer,” Mann says.” If you look at a crowd, you may observe a general behavior. But if you look at one specific person, you see something entirely different. That’s how we’ve come to study dolphins: as individuals.”

While it’s true many animals express what could be considered joy, dolphins and other cetaceans are perhaps the most relatable example because they are just so much, well, fun. Hard indeed is the heart that can’t see joy in their leaping from the water and crashing with a splash. These friendly creatures have been known to glide through the water among surfers, race alongside boats, and chirp or leap beside canoes. 

Elizabeth Henderson, a marine bioacoustic specialist at the Naval Information Warfare Center in San Diego, has seen the animals show compassion and even love. “Sometimes nursing females will adopt calves who have lost their mothers,” she says. “Females will babysit calves at the surface while their mothers forage. In matrilineal societies, such as killer whales, prey is often shared among a pod.” Few who recall the story of Tahlequah, the orca who carried her stillborn calf for 17 days as she swam 1,000 miles through Puget Sound in 2018, doubt she was expressing something akin to grief.

Observations supporting the idea that animals possess rich inner lives have helped spark an idea among a growing number of scientists: Instead of analyzing problems based on how we as humans see them, perhaps we ought to view them from another angle. Opening the lens to consider the perspectives of creatures that rely primarily on sound, or smell, or texture to make their way in the world may lead to new solutions to our most vexing problems, says Kelly Jaakkola, director of research at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida.

The question, she says, isn’t, “How smart are animals?” but rather, “How are animals smart” — and what can they teach us? Dolphins are grappling with the myriad effects of their habitats getting warmer and more acidic, and they are showing signs of stress. The animals have been recognized as a sentinel species whose health and well-being provides key data for monitoring oceanic health. Fossil records have long shown evolutionary resilience and adaptation to environmental shifts brought by ice ages and other epochal events. But given the speed with which the climate is changing, such adaptations may no longer be possible.

‘We cannot just take, take, take’

Beyond the realms of biology and behavior, these marine species have long captured the hearts and minds of human observers. The ancient Greeks regularly depicted dolphins in their art, music, and stories. They believed the creatures danced to the natural rhythm of the earth, referring to them as philomousoi, which means “music lovers.” Bacchylides often wove tales of dolphins into his work, with humans leaping into the sea and resurfacing joyously riding dolphins.

Poet, climate activist, and 2021 Grist 50 honoree Craig Perez, who was born and raised in Guam, frequently intertwines his experiences with the cetaceans into his work, which includes a poem about Tahlequah’s loss. He believes that the sense of connection he feels to them and the creativity it sparks is vital to becoming a better, more conscious activist and, in turn, creating a better world.

“In many Pacific cultures, animals are seen as kin, gods, spirit guides, emblems, and nourishment, so they are treated with respect and reverence,” Perez says. “I have been lucky to swim and bond with many marine mammals. More recently, my writing has turned to issues of environmental justice and climate activism, because I became more conscious of how much our ecologies have changed for the worse.”

The shifting climate, coupled with the ongoing legacy of colonialism, has placed coastline communities and island nations on the front lines of this global crisis. They grapple with coral bleaching, diminishing fish stocks, and increasingly frequent storms even as they watch a rising sea reclaim the land they call home. genesis3-2-2-1

“Growing up on an island gives you a deep sense of connection to the natural world, to species, and to the ocean itself,” says Cliff Kapono, a professional surfer and chemist who lives in Hilo, Hawaii. “It also instills a sense of resource management. You begin to have this concept that we cannot just take, take, take from this place.”

Kapono has never doubted that we are fundamentally linked to nature, that it is as much a part of us as we are of it. His work as a scientist has only reinforced that belief. One of the first studies he participated in while earning his doctorate in chemistry required extracting a molecule from coral tissue.

As it turns out, the same substance is found within the human heart and lungs. From the heart of the ocean to the heart beating within each of us, we are, he says, truly connected to the world around us, and to the creatures with which we share it.

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Source: What the joy of dolphins can teach us about climate solutions – Fix | Fix

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Wave Of High-Profile Tech Layoffs Raises Fear Of Recessions–And Stalled Careers–Past

If you’ve been on LinkedIn recently, you’ve likely seen posts about someone being laid off or having a dream job offer rescinded, often by a high-profile, once hot startup. According to the tracker Layoffs.fyi, so far this year, 349 startups have laid off more than 53,000 employees.

Startups looking at the prospect of falling venture capital valuations are scrambling to conserve the cash they have. Just yesterday, OpenSea, the early leader in the once bubbly non-fungible token (NFT) market, cut 20% of its workforce. Earlier this month, virtual office startup Gather let a third of its 90 employees go. Last month, high-flying ID verification unicorn Socure laid off 13% of its employees.

And it’s not just startups. Coinbase, the nation’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, laid off 1,100 employees and rescinded some job offers. Elon Musk’s Tesla is cutting 3.5% of its workforce. Meta has plans to slash hiring of engineers this year by at least 30%.

While most of the layoff news has come from tech companies, the mortgage industry, too, has been slashing away as higher interest rates crush mortgage volume. This week loanDepot disclosed plans to eliminate thousands of jobs. Real estate companies RedFin and Compass have cut about 450 jobs each, and PIMCO-backed First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation let go of more than 75% of its workforce in June, before filing for a chapter 11 bankruptcy a week later.

Despite such high-profile layoffs, unemployment remained at a low 3.6% in June as the economy added 372,000 jobs. Moreover, interviews with recent job–or job offer–losers, as well as hiring managers, suggest that so far at least, most of those cut are landing on their feet with new offers.

Yet the sense of dread is unmistakable, with more consumers now pessimistic than optimistic about the short-term labor market, according to the Conference Board. And the layoffs could just be getting started: Oracle recently considered letting go of thousands of employees as early as August.

“In the tech industry, this is dejà vu all over again,” observes economist Anthony Carnevale, who has been involved with employment and education policy for four decades and is now director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “This is pretty much precisely what happened in the late 1970s, early 80s, when technology was not penetrating American industry rapidly enough and [former Fed Chair] Paul Volcker put on the brakes. We get high interest rates, high unemployment rates, and basically that shuts down technology investment and secondly, it chokes the industry.”

Given the current low unemployment rates, Carnevale adds, it’s still a question whether the slowdown will ultimately “create dislocation of substantial sorts in tech or any other industry.” His answer? “Yes and no,” he says. “The yes is yes, specific technology-based industries might be affected, interest rates being the culprit here. But what we’re seeing in the churn is that people who are seeking jobs are getting jobs. And we haven’t come to the point yet where it’s a classic recession…in which people don’t get jobs.” He noted that in general, wages are increasing — though those increases are generally offset by inflation.

“So what does that mean going forward? It may mean a slowdown in startups and in the expansion of particular technology companies, in even the overall industry if it’s strong enough, but so far, it has not meant that people can’t find jobs,” Carnevale said. “And it does not reflect on the possibilities for college graduates, at least so far, we don’t really see that.”

Indeed, a recent survey of almost 200 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that almost 90% of respondents will be hiring new graduates for both full-time and intern/co-op positions — up from last spring’s figure of 83%.

But while early-career recruiting is still strong, it can’t erase the memory of what happened in the wake of the Great Recession, with its large jobs loss and unusually slow recovery. Some new grads caught in the undertow experienced what economists call “permanent scarring”—meaning poor economic conditions when they graduated from college contributed to a long-term reduction in their employment prospects.

Again, that’s the scary prospect, but not, as of now, the reality.

Aidan Deery, associate director at the global talent partner X4 Technology, reports that among tech companies, “largely, everyone is still hiring” and “the demand for experienced professionals is at an all-time high.” He adds that those laid off from crypto companies like Coinbase are generally “very employable” and “highly sought after in the finance and technology world.”

Danny, 23, whose last name and former employer are not being included due to a nondisclosure agreement he signed, was let go in June from his engineering job at a sales productivity company. “I know I’ll be able to find a job,” he said, estimating that of the roughly 30 jobs he applied to since being laid off, 8-10 got back to him. “Three of them actually were like, ‘Yeah, just kidding, we’re not hiring for this role.’” Some of the other companies he started interviewing with stopped the process because of hiring freezes. However, Danny has already turned down one offer for reasons including the pay, and says he is still being picky in his job search.

Curio Health, a startup working to improve remote patient care, is among the companies still hiring. CEO Yuchen Wang worries that layoffs among startups may encourage job seekers to look to more established companies for future opportunities, but insists startups will retain their appeal because, “you take a broader responsibility, and you can grow faster and learn more.”

Wang has seen both sides of this job-cutting drama. He himself lost his job in 2001, shortly after earning a Masters in computer science at Georgia State, and in a later role, had to lay off employees himself because a contract did not pan out as well as expected. “These things kind of happen, even if you do everything 100% perfectly,’’ he says. “Treat it as a new start — there are more opportunities ahead than the one you just lost.”

Still, for some job-losers, the new start carries a unique challenge–one imposed by the U.S.’ dysfunctional system for retaining foreign tech talent. Twenty-seven-year-old software developer Amitesh Singh Baghel was laid off in late June while on STEM OPT, a visa program allowing graduate international students to gain work experience in the U.S. in their field. The catch: he lost his job as a software engineer at a data security startup before he completed his visa extension — about two weeks before his employment authorization document was set to expire.

He had been offered other jobs while working there but turned them down out of “goodwill” and because his manager, who also was let go, provided good mentorship. “I had other offers coming, but I chose to stay ignoring the red flags,” such as a manager being fired and not replaced, he said.

“I tried to negotiate. I was like, ‘Instead of giving me the severance pay, keep me on the payroll so that I can finish with the extension process and I’ll still work,’” he said. “I offered them a solution…but they didn’t want to do the extra work, which is understandable. I mean, it’s not their problem.”

And then there’s the experience of Jenna Radwan, 22, who recently earned her BS in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of San Francisco. She originally accepted a job at San Francisco-based startup Hirect, which helps other tech startups recruit and hire. When she heard Hirect would pay her a base salary of $80,000 plus uncapped commission that could push her total compensation to a multiple of that, she cut short other interviews to accept the offer, “My ears perked up, my eyes got big, and I didn’t even see any of the other companies as even close competition,” she said.

But two weeks before her start date, Radwan got thrown a curveball. Her offer had been rescinded “due solely to the current unforeseen circumstances & drastic turn in the market.” “Due to the very volatile market conditions, the business & leadership team has decided to halt/freeze all forms of external hiring at this time, and we have entered an immediate hiring freeze and a round of layoffs,” reads an email from a recruiter that Radwan shared on LinkedIn. (A spokesman for Hirect confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it had rescinded two job offers due to the slump in tech hiring.)

Radwan was “in shock,” but quickly tapped into her network and reached out to recruiters she’d previously been in the process of interviewing with, and ultimately landed a job as a recruiter at Insight Global. “It was a wild ride but I know that I’m exactly where I am meant to be,” Radwan said, adding that she hadn’t really considered her values in terms of a career before then. “I just thought of money, but I realized that you can have money plus other things, like good company culture, like good job security, like good benefits, like good PTO,” she said.

Her advice for recent grads entering the job market amid the growing fear of offers being rescinded? Do your research, ask questions like how the company reacted to COVID in 2020 (i.e. was it quick to lay off workers?), talk to current employees and take time to weigh all your offers.

If you’re looking for an indication of the current gestalt, it may come from Radwan’s new employer. Insight Global is still hiring. But in June, it surveyed 1,000 workers and found 23% were “extremely worried” about losing their job in the next recession. Or, as Insight put it, the “Great Resignation” is giving way to the “Great Apprehension.”

Katherine Huggins

Source: Wave Of High-Profile Tech Layoffs Raises Fear Of Recessions–And Stalled Careers–Past

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Founders of $10 Billion Crypto Hedge Fund Have ‘Ghosted’ After Bets Go Bad

The co-founders of an influential multi-billion-dollar crypto hedge fund have suddenly gone MIA right at the moment that people want their money. Days of swirling rumors have been followed by harder evidence that Three Arrows Capital, or 3AC, is ghosting its business partners as it attempts to avoid insolvency after the firm overleveraged itself ahead of the recent “crypto winter,” which has plagued the industry and led to a steep decline in crypto prices.

Now, firms are scrambling to distance themselves from 3AC to assure customers that their funds won’t go down with the ship run by Zhu Su and Kyle Davies, two childhood friends who suddenly found themselves wielding billions in the Wild West of emerging crypto markets. “Losing a bet is one thing, but at least be honorable and not drag others into your bets who have nothing to do with it. Certainly don’t ghost on everyone since potentially, they could’ve helped you,” the head of trading at a firm that does business with 3AC said on Twitter.

The largely self-funded hedge fund has become a prominent investor in almost all arenas of the cryptocurrency industry, as well as a prolific borrower, making its inability to meet margin calls over the last week—money a firm has to pony up to cover losses—a subject of concern throughout the sector.

Rumors of issues at 3AC started to percolate over the last week, as crypto prices plunged and evidence emerged that the firm was frantically unloading tokens. “They’re not responding to anyone,” an unnamed source at a crypto trading firm told The Financial Times. As the frustration grew louder, 3AC’s normally prolific co-founders went silent, until Su sent out a cryptic and ominous tweet on Tuesday. “We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out,” he wrote, without any additional context. He has not tweeted since, nor has Davies.

The head of trading at the Hong Kong-based firm 8 Blocks Capital, Danny Yuan, released a statement on Wednesday saying that 3AC had stopped responding after 8 Blocks requested a large withdrawal on Monday, June 13. After 3AC didn’t respond, a member of Yuan’s firm noticed that “~1m was missing from our accounts with them.” Additional attempts at contact went nowhere, and 8 Blocks Capital went elsewhere for information.

“What we learned is that they were leveraged long everywhere and were getting margin-called. Instead of answering the margin calls, they ghosted everyone. The platforms had no choice but to liquidate their positions, causing the markets to further dump,” Yuan said. In other words, 3AC had bet on crypto prices going up with borrowed funds (or “leverage” to use financial speak) meaning that any gains are higher but losses hurt much more. Yuan then called on platforms holding funds associated with 3AC to freeze them.

Zhu and Davies made their first public comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday morning, where they said that they were exploring asset sales and “rescue by another firm,” the outlet reported, and hoped to secure an arrangement with their creditors to give the firm some runway.

The apparent crisis afflicting 3AC is already sending ripples through the industry. On Thursday, the yield generation platform Finblox said that the company would pause reward distributions and limit withdrawals for all customers as it evaluated the effect of 3AC’s financial stress on its platform. 3AC is an investor in Finblox, the company said. 

The crypto lender BlockFi would not confirm if BlockFi had liquidated 3AC’s position, saying in a statement to Motherboard that it is against company policy to “comment on specific counterparties.” But BlockFi added that it “exercised our best business judgment recently with a large client that failed to meet its obligations on an overcollateralized margin loan.” (Unnamed sources told The Financial Times that BlockFi had indeed liquidated 3AC’s position.)

The stench of 3AC is so strong that even those who are not attached to the company have felt it necessary to distance themselves. Tether, the stablecoin currency, for one, issued a statement calling rumors that it had lending exposure to 3AC “categorically false.”  

The question is whether 3AC is a canary in the coal mine for crypto hedge funds, or just an overzealous fund that took too many risks. Mike Novogratz, the founder of Galaxy Digital Holdings, for one, has said he expects two-thirds of crypto hedge funds to soon fail.

Since its founding in 2012, 3AC has become one of the largest crypto hedge funds in the world, and its demise could cause trouble throughout the sector. Zhu and Davies, friends since high school who attended Columbia and joined Credit Suisse as derivatives traders together, started the fund while they lived in an apartment together, and have since become rumored to be “among the world’s biggest crypto holders,” according to Bloomberg.

3AC mostly (and maybe only) managed the co-founders’ own money, which Zhu claimed allowed 3AC “the ability to make very good decisions on market timing.” It also allowed for unusually large, risky bets, and for a while, the firm achieved astonishing results. The analytics firm Nansen estimated 3AC held $10 billion in blockchain assets as of March, and the company has investments all over the crypto ecosystem. As of December, that included a stake in the world’s biggest Bitcoin fund, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, that reportedly exceeded 5 percent.

 To increase the size of its bets, 3AC borrowed money from a number of firms, dramatically increasing its potential windfall. But when the crypto market started to crash, 3AC got hit hard. The hedge fund had invested in places like the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity and the Solana blockchain, whose token values have crashed in recent months. It also invested in Celsius, a crypto bank that has suspended withdrawals indefinitely amid rumors of insolvency. 3AC’s worst bet may have been Luna, a cryptocurrency that plummeted to near-zero in a dramatic implosion.

Now, 3AC appears to be scrambling to find money wherever it can, such as by selling massive amounts of tokens. One NFT fund the company had backed even moved all of its 70 pieces of digital art on SuperRare, which it had spent more than $20 million collecting, to a single address, indicating asset consolidation.

Ahead of the crash, Zhu and Davies professed an almost religious devotion to the potential of cryptocurrency. The libertarian Su had repeatedly pushed his “supercycle” thesis publicly, claiming crypto prices would continuously rise as it gained prominence relative to government currencies. “I also think we are entering an era where the potential of Bitcoin to become one of the key reserve currencies of people and nations is becoming clearer than ever,” Zhu told Bloombeg in April. “It will not be a smooth ride, but it will be a highly meaningful one for those who take the journey.”

On May 27, Zhu admitted that his grand supercycle theory was “regrettably wrong,” adding that “crypto will still thrive and change the world every day,” comments that Davies echoed in the Wall Street Journal. “We have always been believers in crypto and we still are,” he said.

By Maxwell Strachan

Source: Founders of $10 Billion Crypto Hedge Fund Have ‘Ghosted’ After Bets Go Bad

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Are You In a Loving Relationship or Are You Just Poor?

At this point, it’s not novel to point out that we’re socialized from childhood to prize monogamous relationships above all else. It’s an idea deeply embedded in our culture, from books to films to music. But we seldom pause to consider the real extent to which this is baked into the very fabric of our society.

It’s not just a cultural thing: it’s why one-bed flats are usually designed to accommodate two, with rent prices intended to be divided in half. It’s why seats on buses and trains come in pairs. It’s why packs of food so often ‘serve two’. It’s why gyms and Spotify offer discounted memberships for couples.

There are numerous material benefits to monogamy, such as the Married Couple’s Allowance, the option to take out a joint mortgage on a house, or the fact landlords are more likely to choose couples as tenants. As author and psychotherapist Sasha Roseneil writes in the Guardian, compulsory monogamy “operates through laws and policies that assume and privilege coupledom, with myriad economic impacts in terms of access to welfare benefits, pensions, inheritance and housing.”

Aaron, 21, has experienced this firsthand. “I used to live with my girlfriend, but we split up and she moved out which has made paying bills really stressful and hard for me,” he says, noting “food and subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify” as particularly costly expenses. “The cost of living crisis has made this even more difficult – especially with food shopping.”

Essentially, society isn’t built for single people, and as a result it’s expensive to be single. Research backs this up: according to Ocean Finance, the UK’s singles spend on average £630 more per month than their coupled counterparts. On top of this, a 2019 report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people living alone are more likely to be renting and feel less financially secure than childless couples.

The cost of being single has now been compounded by rising inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis. Of course, the current crisis is impacting everyone – regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or not – and it’s unquestionably hitting the poor the hardest. But as an estimated 35 per cent of the UK’s population are single, this is an issue which affects millions of people.

24-year-old Sophie is in a similar situation to Aaron. She lists “rent, food, and bills” as the main costs she struggles to cover. “If you’re single you get a council tax discount, but it’s really not a lot at all. My council tax is still over £100 a month,” she says. “But the one thing that’s impacted me the most is my rent went up by quite a lot in April. It went up by over £100.”

She adds that she has to fork out nearly £400 a month to pay her building’s service charge. “Whether it’s one person in a flat or four people, you still have to pay the same service charge for building maintenance and stuff like that,” she says. “And I’m just one person.” According to Ocean Finance, housing is the most expensive outgoing for single people, with a single person paying an average of £674 a month on rent while a person in a couple pays £433.

“I have a full-time job and spend most of my free time doing freelance work just to make up the money,” Sophie adds.

The current cost of living crisis is even forcing some people to stay in relationships they’re unhappy in. “I’ve been with my partner for around two years and lived with him for just over a year. It’s been fairly up and down, as we realised around a year ago that it’s more platonic. We’re not really any more than friends, and that’s mutual,” Holly*, 26, tells me.

At present, Holly is living in a two-bed flat with her partner and a mutual friend of theirs. “I recently moved to a new job that has halved my previous salary, and it means that if he leaves the room I share with him then I can no longer afford the room,” she says. “The extra costs would be terrible. Bristol is incredibly expensive and my salary isn’t up to scratch. Splitting up would mean splitting everything in half would no longer be an option.”

“The couple norm continues to exert a strong and far from benign influence on people’s lives” – Sasha Roseneil

In her Guardian article, Roseneil stresses that “the couple norm continues to exert a strong and far from benign influence on people’s lives.” This much is clear from Aaron, Sophie, and Holly’s testimonies: evidently, despite the progress made by feminist and LGBTQ+ movements in recent years, we’re still penalised by society for living outside the couple norm.

Still – it’s worth noting that despite the financial benefits of being in a couple, Holly admits that it’s not worth the emotional strain when your relationship is on its last legs. “I’ve realised this isn’t healthy for either of us. It’s quite clear it’s getting to the end of the relationship,” she says. “I spoke to him about it last night, so the process of moving out is likely just around the corner.”

However, this doesn’t negate the fact that being single is still a financial burden. Although Holly is keen to move on from her relationship, she’s still not sure how she’s going to afford to pay her rent. Obviously, monogamous couples are not a social ill in and of themselves. But the ways in which compulsory monogamy is perpetuated in society evidently are a problem, and a problem which is being exacerbated by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Unfortunately, regulating rents or increasing taxes are actions beyond the power of most individuals – but that doesn’t mean we can’t challenge compulsory monogamy in our everyday lives. There’s so much to be gained by shelving the concept of ‘soulmates’ and nurturing other types of connection in our lives – whether you’re in a relationship or not. Ultimately, it’s only by chipping away at the status quo can we hope for a future where we’re all financially stable and independent.

By: Serena Smith

Source: Are you in a loving relationship or are you just poor? | Dazed

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How To Make Your Child a Financial Whizz

Children need to start learning about money from a young age. Whether it’s the budgeting skills we need to cope with the cost-of-living crisis or the long-term planning that helps buy a house and save for retirement, the attitudes we pick up in childhood help shape the decisions we make for the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately, you can’t rely on schools to tell your child what they need to know. Personal finance lessons are not compulsory in primary schools and not all secondary schools teach crucial skills either. So, if you want them to grow up financially savvy, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands.

First, get started early. Children as young as seven can grasp the value of money, how to count it and what it means to earn money and exchange it for goods, says a study for the government’s MoneyHelper service (formerly the Money Advice Service). They can understand that you sometimes have to wait and save for things and that some choices are irreversible, say the authors, who are behaviour experts at the University of Cambridge. But they may need to be a little older before they appreciate the difference between luxuries and necessities.

The power of pocket money

The study found that allowing children to make age-appropriate decisions about their money can help them create positive habits. You can start with children as young as three or four, by giving them pocket money and letting them decide how they spend it.

“Once they are old enough not to put it in their mouth, then give them some money,” says Juliette Collier of the charity Campaign for Learning tells The Guardian. “If, for example, they end up wanting to spend that money on sweeties, then make it clear they can’t spend the money on something else. Let them make choices, and experience the consequences.” Introduce the idea of saving and show children that they may need to save their pocket money for a few weeks if they want to make a larger purchase. You could encourage them by offering to pay them a bonus if they save a certain amount.

An introduction to investing

As children get older, expand the topics. Teenagers can learn about investing through their Junior individual savings accounts (Jisas). If they have an investment Jisa, talk to them about what it is invested in and why. From the age of 16 they can make investment decisions about their account, but they can’t withdraw the money until they are 18. This could be a good opportunity to let them make some decisions about their investments. 

It’s important to show them all the different assets they can invest in, such as stocks and bonds, as well as ways to do so, such as funds, investment trusts and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Doing this will reduce the chance that their first experience is with cryptocurrencies or other high-risk markets.

Before your child lives away from home for the first time, they need to learn about budgeting. Help them make a list of all their regular incomings and outgoings, such as subscriptions. Show them how much they spend each month then look at how much they have coming in. This is also a good time to discuss saving regular amounts for emergencies. Don’t forget to explain how tax and pensions affect your income. Show them your payslip so they can see how much of a wage is deducted for national insurance, income tax, and pension payments.

Finally, teach your child about debt. Discuss debts you may have, such as credit cards or a mortgage. Show them how the interest rate on debt is much higher than on savings. Explain how not repaying debts on time can affect your credit rating and your ability to borrow in the future. These lessons will hopefully help them avoid problem debts in the future.

By: Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Source: How to make your child a financial whizz | MoneyWeek by

“Instilling great money management behaviour in your children does not have to be an arduous exercise. You can help them learn by implementing a few key changes in and around your home,” Steward says.

Teach them budgeting by example – Include your children in family budget discussions from an early age. In older generations, money was often a taboo topic and not considered suitable for polite conversation. Break the cycle by talking to your children about money choices. For example, you could discuss how much money you saved over the lockdown period by eating at home, rather than eating out. Or talk to them about the monthly electricity bill and the cost of using your tumble-dryer in winter months.

Pay them in cash – You may give your child an allowance or expect them to do chores in return for a small payment. Either way, pay them in cash and then help them allocate those funds towards different costs. This is a great time to teach them Elizabeth Warren’s 50/20/30 budget rule. You could charge your children a 10% tax so that they learn the pain of being taxed early on. Warren’s rule is to divide up your after-tax income and allocate it as follows: 50% on needs (what you have to spend money on, for example, make them buy their own airtime), 30% on wants (such as the latest Playstation game), and 20% to savings. This will also open up the discussion about learning to differentiate between needs and wants.

Play money games – Learning can be fun. Include money games in family time. Monopoly is a game of luck but players also learn valuable lessons about the balance between spending and saving. The Game of Life starts each player out with a sum of money and as you advance through the game, you quickly learn that the players who choose to study are likely to have higher paying jobs and finish life on a more secure financial footing.

Take your children grocery shopping – This is less about the treats they can sneak into the trolley and more about teaching them to compare prices and shop wisely. Sometimes buying two 500g packets of pasta can work out cheaper than buying a 1kg packet of pasta. The lower-priced items are usually placed on the lowest shelves while the higher-priced items are at eye-level. When you spot a “special” sign, find out what the special is – sometimes, it’s simply the regular price with a special sticker on it.

Teach them about opportunity costs. Children are typically wired for instant gratification. Opportunity cost is simply the consequence of your financial choice, but very few people, let alone children think this far ahead. Spell it out for them until they start thinking differently. For example, “if you spend your money on this video game, you won’t be able to afford the wireless keyboard you wanted to buy next month.”….

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