The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools

In the midst of the Great Resignation, with employers scrambling for ways to hang on to experienced staff, financial wellness programs might be an attractive addition to the benefits bag.

That was a key finding from PwC’s annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which was conducted in January 2021 and released in April. Among those polled, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. About 57 percent of workers who hadn’t yet faced increased financial stress said the same thing.

Financial stress doesn’t just affect worker retention; it also has an impact on productivity. PwC’s survey showed that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems. The menu of financial wellness tools employers might elect include educational tools for personal finances, one-on-one financial coaching, and even access to rainy day funds.

It’s a growing business sector, too. HoneyBee, a B2B financial wellness startup, recently closed a round of funding with $5.7 million in equity, TechCrunch reported. The financial technology company grew 225 percent during the pandemic and saw a 175 percent increase in usage for its on-demand financial therapy tools. Origin also recently announced that it raised $56 million in its Series B funding round, which it will use for customer expansion, as it saw increased demand for financial planning services during the pandemic, Business Wire notes.

Although one in five workers waits until they experience a financial setback to seek guidance, when they are offered continual support, employees are more likely to be proactive with their finances. According to the PwC survey, 88 percent of workers who are provided financial wellness services by their employers take advantage of them.

By Rebecca Deczynski, Staff reporter, Inc.@rebecca_decz

Source: The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools | Inc.com

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Critics:

Making money is definitely the cornerstone of financial wellness and increasing your income can help you obtain your goals. You do not need to be a millionaire, but it’s important to obtain some level of income stability. Being financially well starts with having a reliable income and knowing at a consistent time, you will expect to be paid a certain amount. Steady and reliable income is one of the cornerstones of financial wellness.

Even if you don’t like budgeting or planning, it’s good to set goals for yourself. You are more likely to stick with it when you have goals to reach and can see progress. By creating a plan, you are visualizing the what, why, and how you will get there. If you don’t already have a household budget, grab your most recent bank statement and look at the total amount of money you have coming into your household each month. Then, factor in fixed, required expenses – things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and more.

f you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start building it. The goal of an emergency fund is to have available funds for when you are dealing with unemployment or you have an unforeseen cost. You won’t stress about the money because you have a nice cash reserve that you can access quickly. Finance experts often say that you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If you have nothing in savings, putting away just $25, $50, or $100 a month is an amazing start. Ultimately, it’s what you feel comfortable with. You can also consider putting it in a high savings investment such as CIT Bank’s Savings Builder, which helps put your savings to work with very little risk.

Once you get a handle on your finances, you can start to map out life events and large purchases, so you can begin saving! Planning ahead is always helpful, and once you get a handle on your current financial plan, set some goals for what comes next. By building a plan, you have a road map to help guide you through the rest of your story. Putting even a small amount into savings on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to get your savings to grow so you can meet your goals, small or large. Set your own personal savings rule to live by and make a plan on how to achieve it. Prepare for life events and large purchases by planning ahead.

Your credit score is another critical part of your financial health. Things like late payments, too much debt or high balances negatively affect your credit score. Keep watch over your credit report and credit score with a free credit report from places like Credit Karma. A higher credit score tells banks and lenders that you’re a reliable and less risky borrower. 

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Italy’s Supercharged Bond Market Is All About Faith in The ECB

One of Europe’s riskiest bond bets is a sign of how much investors are confident in the central bank’s ability to recover from the pandemic smoothly.

Italian benchmark yields are near a six-month low and the government is so short of liquidity that it canceled last week’s loan auction. With the number of outstanding positions in bond futures since March, the market is beginning to look like a crowded trade.

This is the latest evidence of the bullish momentum that is prevailing across European markets. Italy is one of the region’s most indebted nations, yet has seen unprecedented stimulus from the European Central Bank to dent lending costs that are reducing volatility and driving investors into the highest-yielding corners of the market. .

“The PEPP expansion could be important in that regard,” said Christoph Rieger, head of fixed-rate strategy at Commerzbank AG, referring to the ECB’s pandemic bond-buying program, which is due to end in March, but which many investors Now the bet will go on for a long time.

Against this background, Rieger expects Italy’s 10-year yield premium to fall to 75 basis points from its German counterpart – the security sector paradigm – currently around 100 basis points.

Meanwhile, Italian stocks are on a tear after a blockbuster earnings season in Europe, and the ECB recently changed its forward guidance to signal a longer period of ultra-lax policy, adding fuel to the rally.

Last week, the number of outstanding Italian 10-year bond futures contracts rose nearly 60,000 to more than 360,000. The increase as the underlying securities increased, indicating that investors are adding rather than consolidating their positions.

Giles Gail, still head of European rates strategy at NatWest Markets Plc, is starting to consider what might happen if everyone rushes to exit at the same time.

“It will be perverse, but possible in this market,” he said. For now, he also expects the Italian-German bond to expand by 75 basis points in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Rohan Khanna, a strategist at UBS AG, points to the risk of Snap elections, which he says are “highly likely” in the first quarter of 2022, if Mario Draghi decides to run for president, Although the probability of that is low. But for now, it all seems like a distant possibility.

On Wednesday, Italy paid less than the ECB’s own deposit rate to borrow for the first time in 12 months. This is an anomaly that highlights the scale of distortion in the region’s currency markets as well as the bullish trend of traders.

“An ECB that is in volume-control mode, prolonging its QE program with a clear commitment to financial stability, is clearly supportive of sovereign spreads,” Gayle said.

Climate Crisis: Scientists Spot Warning Signs of Gulf Stream Collapse

Climate scientists have detected warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream, one of the planet’s main potential tipping points.

The research found “an almost complete loss of stability over the last century” of the currents that researchers call the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The currents are already at their slowest point in at least 1,600 years, but the new analysis shows they may be nearing a shutdown.

Such an event would have catastrophic consequences around the world, severely disrupting the rains that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America and West Africa; increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe; and pushing up the sea level off eastern North America. It would also further endanger the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.

The complexity of the AMOC system and uncertainty over levels of future global heating make it impossible to forecast the date of any collapse for now. It could be within a decade or two, or several centuries away. But the colossal impact it would have means it must never be allowed to happen, the scientists said.

“The signs of destabilisation being visible already is something that I wouldn’t have expected and that I find scary,” said Niklas Boers, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who did the research. “It’s something you just can’t [allow to] happen.”

It is not known what level of CO2 would trigger an AMOC collapse, he said. “So the only thing to do is keep emissions as low as possible. The likelihood of this extremely high-impact event happening increases with every gram of CO2 that we put into the atmosphere”.

Scientists are increasingly concerned about tipping points – large, fast and irreversible changes to the climate. Boers and his colleagues reported in May that a significant part of the Greenland ice sheet is on the brink, threatening a big rise in global sea level. Others have shown recently that the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs, and that the 2020 Siberian heatwave led to worrying releases of methane.

The world may already have crossed a series of tipping points, according to a 2019 analysis, resulting in “an existential threat to civilization”. A major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due on Monday, is expected to set out the worsening state of the climate crisis.

Boer’s research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is titled “Observation-based early-warning signals for a collapse of the AMOC”. Ice-core and other data from the last 100,000 years show the AMOC has two states: a fast, strong one, as seen over recent millennia, and a slow, weak one. The data shows rising temperatures can make the AMOC switch abruptly between states over one to five decades.

The AMOC is driven by dense, salty seawater sinking into the Arctic ocean, but the melting of freshwater from Greenland’s ice sheet is slowing the process down earlier than climate models suggested.

Boers used the analogy of a chair to explain how changes in ocean temperature and salinity can reveal the AMOC’s instability. Pushing a chair alters its position, but does not affect its stability if all four legs remain on the floor. Tilting the chair changes both its position and stability.

Eight independently measured datasets of temperature and salinity going back as far as 150 years enabled Boers to show that global heating is indeed increasing the instability of the currents, not just changing their flow pattern.

The analysis concluded: “This decline [of the AMOC in recent decades] may be associated with an almost complete loss of stability over the course of the last century, and the AMOC could be close to a critical transition to its weak circulation mode.”

Levke Caesar, at Maynooth University in Ireland, who was not involved in the research, said: “The study method cannot give us an exact timing of a possible collapse, but the analysis presents evidence that the AMOC has already lost stability, which I take as a warning that we might be closer to an AMOC tipping than we think.”

David Thornalley, at University College London in the UK, whose work showed the AMOC is at its weakest point in 1,600 years, said: “These signs of decreasing stability are concerning. But we still don’t know if a collapse will occur, or how close we might be to it.”

By: Environment editor

Source: Climate crisis: Scientists spot warning signs of Gulf Stream collapse | Climate change | The Guardian

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China Cracks Down On Crypto Business, Saying ‘Speculative’ Trading ‘Seriously Infringing’ On Financial Order

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency image

Chinese financial officials announced Tuesday that the country would crack down on financial institutions conducting cryptocurrency business or offering related services in light of the market’s recent volatility, marking another blow to the nascent market reeling from one of its biggest sell-offs ever after booming institutional adoption helped lift it to meteoric highs during the pandemic.

In a joint statement Tuesday, three Chinese industry groups overseeing the financial sector announced that bank and payment institutions can not conduct business related to cryptocurrencies, specifically banning a slew of activities including cryptocurrency registration, trading, clearing and settlement.

The guidelines, which reiterate a previous ban from 2017, also bar financial institutions from accepting or using cryptocurrencies in payments or settlements, developing digital currency exchange services and offering any such services to clients.

The group specifically laid into the cryptocurrency’s market massive volatility, saying digital tokens have “no real support value” and prices that are “extremely easy” to manipulate.

The move prohibits Chinese financial institutions, many of which had already shied away from offering crypto services amid the nation’s past crackdown, from issuing cryptocurrency products or services, but it doesn’t ban consumers from owning cryptocurrencies.

The value of the world’s cryptocurrencies dropped about $50 billion, or 2.5% immediately after the announcement, pushing the week’s staggering losses to roughly $500 billion from a Wednesday high above $2.5 trillion.

Crucial Quote

“Recently, crypto currency prices have skyrocketed and plummeted, and speculative trading of cryptocurrency has rebounded, seriously infringing on the safety of people’s property and disrupting the normal economic and financial order,” the Tuesday statement read. “Judging from the current judicial practice in my country, virtual currency transaction contracts are not protected by law.”

Key Background

A wave of early regulatory crackdowns beginning in 2017 sparked a nearly 80% correction in cryptocurrency prices and a yearslong bull market that lasted until inflationary concerns and institutional adoption lifted the market to new highs during the pandemic. In March, Morgan Stanley became the first big bank in the U.S. to give wealthy clients access to cryptocurrency investments, and Goldman Sachs quickly followed suit with its own crypto offerings in April. JPMorgan and a slew of other smaller financial institutions have also reportedly indicated they may be next.

Surprising Fact

Cryptocurrencies soared nearly 500% over the past year as companies like Square, MicroStrategy and Tesla, in particular, started making big cryptocurrency investments, but in a testament to the market’s extreme volatility, prices have plunged by about 30% since Elon Musk said Tesla would stop investing in bitcoin last month.

What To Watch For

Regulation in the U.S. Gensler and Yellen. Earlier this month, new Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler suggested that the agency may be gearing up for a long-awaited crypto crackdown in light of the market’s recent boom, telling CNBC: “To the extent that something is a security, the SEC has a lot of authority, and a lot of crypto tokens—I won’t call them ‘cryptocurrencies’ for this moment—are indeed securities.”

I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at jponciano@forbes.com.

Source: China Cracks Down On Crypto Business, Saying ‘Speculative’ Trading ‘Seriously Infringing’ On Financial Order

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Critics:

Bitcoin does not share the traits listed above: it does not maintain a stable value and its fixed number of coins means that it can’t keep up with an insatiable global demand for safe assets like the U.S. debt market can. Indeed, investor willingness to fund more than $21 trillion in U.S. public debt, often at negative real interest rates, shows that the U.S. dollar continues to have massive appeal even as cryptocurrencies go mainstream.

Furthermore, China’s actions over the past decade show that it is deeply skeptical of bitcoin and likely sees it as a threat to the power of the Chinese Communist Party. In 2017, the People’s Bank of China and five other ministries banned financings using cryptocurrency, like initial coin offerings, and banned the exchange of fiat money for cryptocurrency, according to Rain Xie of the Washington University School of Law.

 

7 Ways Drugs & Alcohol Destroy Relationships

Maintaining a good relationship, whether it’s romantic or between family and friends, requires time and attention in addition to compassion and love. 

An unexamined relationship could have underlying problems that won’t become apparent until stress occurs, such as from financial difficulties or the emergence of drug or alcohol abuse. 

To help you avoid problems in your own life, or to recognize the signs of a fracturing bond, here are seven ways substance abuse can ruin relationships.

1. Secrets & Lies

When it comes to illegal drugs or using prescription drugs without authorization, your loved one may keep their use secret. Otherwise, they risk being shunned or stigmatized. 

In some cases, a person abusing alcohol or drugs will keep usage secret out of feelings of guilt and shame as well as not wanting to be judged. There is motivation to keep things under wraps, allowing secrets in the relationship to fester. 

This problem may unfortunately increase over time. Someone with addiction winds up doing things like hiding illicit substances in the house, periodically leaving for inexplicable trips, and lying to the people they love most.

2. Mental & Emotional Abuse

Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, your loved one may insult the people around them and increase verbal attacks to the point where it becomes mental abuse. 

Such ongoing abuse leads to mental health problems and feelings of low self esteem, whether directed at a parent, child, sibling, or close friend. Healthy relationships are not sustainable under conditions of ongoing emotional abuse.

3. Physical & Domestic Abuse

Injuring another person physically while abusing alcohol or drugs is an unfortunate reality. 

Someone who is out of control and not entirely aware of their physical capabilities can do some real damage. This is especially the case in parent-child relationships. 

Aside from the physical harm from fighting, the relationship will be effectively ended if someone is arrested or put in jail for domestic abuse. 

4. Loss Of Income & Stability

Losing your job is a distinct possibility when drug or alcohol abuse interferes with your ability to meet work obligations. If a pattern of absenteeism or tardiness emerges, the employer may have to take steps to put a stop to the pattern. 

But when your judgment is clouded because of alcohol or drugs, you may not be able easily comply with your boss’ instructions to fall in line. 

In a perfect world, you manage to take a leave of absence from work and enroll in a drug rehab facility. In reality, a chronically absent individual winds up being fired. 

The resulting loss of income, as well as feelings of shame and embarrassment, puts additional strain on relationships and threatens stability within the household. 

5. Loss Of Trust

Without a basic level of underlying trust, a relationship can quickly go sour, whether between friends, romance partners, or family. A person caught in the grips of drug abuse may continuously lie about their whereabouts, activities, or the people they’re spending time with. 

Sometimes trust dissolves in the presence of alcohol or drug addiction because of a pattern of broken promises, letdowns, and disappointments. 

For example, a father is coping with severe addiction and proclaims he will attend his child’s next music performance or little league baseball game, only to not show up once again. This causes a rift of mistrust to grow between parent and child.

6. Emotional Distance

When one half of a romantic couple loses control over alcohol or drug use, fights may happen more frequently. The strain of fighting can itself motivate the person to use even more drugs or alcohol, further complicating the dilemma.

At a certain point, this increased fighting can turn into a vicious circle. Without some intervention, including acknowledging that addiction is the disease, the relationship is more likely going to deteriorate further. 

Although it can be difficult, loved ones have the power to speak openly about their feelings and help motivate the person to seek therapy and treatment.

7. Codependency

In a codependent relationship, there is a power imbalance and a lack of harmony. A codependent person will tend to focus on their partner’s needs, ignoring their own. 

The problem here is that the partner with a drug or alcohol problem is being enabled. This could look like bailing your loved one out of jail or making excuses for their absences at work or school that were caused by intoxication. 

It’s easy to see, for example, how a codependent person would lie to a boss about her husband being sick when it’s actually the case that he has passed out or has gone missing while out on a bender with friends.

Although we mention several extreme hypotheticals, being in a relationship with someone with addiction is difficult. The good news is that there is hope in recovery for the whole family.

If you have any questions about the drug and alcohol rehab programs available at Ark Behavioral Health, please connect with one of our treatment specialists today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2020 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

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Todd Creager

https://toddcreager.com/ Todd Creager, a renowned marriage and relationship expert in Orange County, talks about 5 ways the alcohol can ruin relationships. From destroying the relationship with yourself, to inhibiting communication, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance and can create major barriers in your relationship. Learn more about Todd’s therapy and counseling services at https://toddcreager.com/. Based out of Huntington Beach, he serves the Orange County area – including Newport Beach, Irvine and Corona del Mar – with expert marriage and sex counseling services. TAKE ACTION: ============ Todd Creager, LCSW, LMFT Todd is a sex expert and therapist in Huntington Beach. He provides relationship counseling to couples throughout Orange County including Irvine, Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach, Seal Beach and Long Beach. (714) 848-2288. Join Todd on social: ============== Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Relationship… Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/todd_creager/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/toddcreager

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