6 Tips For Conducting a Digital Literacy Assessment

Digital literacy is a skill that is a fundamental need for most institutions, especially with the amount of technology used in the world. Unfortunately, many companies and institutions are not investing enough time or money to cultivate this skill.

One way this could be addressed is by conducting what some people call digital literacy assessments. These are tests and surveys that measure an individual’s digital literacy level.

By understanding where these individuals stand, the institutions and companies will be able to craft and plan for learning programs to heighten this skill. There are a few tips to conducting these assessments that can help them go smoother and be more efficient, and below we will look at some of these.

Get Buy-In

Whenever you institute a new program, the first important thing is to get the senior members of the staff or group to get on board. This may be challenging in some cases because these senior individuals may be worried that they won’t score well.

To get that buy-in, though, it is merely a matter of having a meeting or sit down with them and showing them all the numbers that help put your new stance in digital literacy in perspective.

Show Don’t Tell

Like with anything, it is best to show these individuals how the digital literacy assessment will benefit them and their team. This means explaining to them that the more literacy they have in the digital world, the more their lives will be impacted in a good way. This can even extend to the home.

Consistency Matters

Once the assessments begin, to keep these individuals’ buy-in and make it a part of your institution’s culture, you will need to make sure they are consistently executed. Pick a schedule and use it religiously to take away your team’s stress and discomfort taking these assessments.

Cybersecurity Is Important

There are a lot of areas to cover when it comes to digital literacy. When creating your assessment, one of the most important to include is cybersecurity. Things like how to spot suspicious emails and such are essential to keep your personal info and the institution’s computer system safe. Therefore it is a vital piece of digital literacy.

Barriers to Adoption

When rolling out your digital literacy assessment, make sure to answer any push back you may get. This means sitting down and considering the barriers that individuals will put up to avoid these assessments.

Employee Resistance

The last tip we have is to go into this process expecting there to be pushed back. By expecting it, you will be able to pivot when confronted with it or pleasantly surprised when there isn’t any.

Concluding Thoughts

Having a digital literacy assessment in place is becoming a necessity if you want to run your institution at its highest efficiency and productivity. Hopefully, these six tips have helped you in your planning process.

By Matthew Lynch

Source: 6 Tips for Conducting a Digital Literacy Assessment – The Tech Edvocate


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11 Passive Income Ideas to Earn an Extra Grand Each Month

What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month? For most of us, this could be a real game-changer. After all, with this influx of extra cash, you could…

For most of us, this could be a real game-changer. After all, with this influx of extra cash, you could pay off financial debt, purchase a life insurance policy, or invest in your retirement. What’s more, you could finally take that dream vacation, make home repairs, or take a class to further your career. And, considering that fewer than 4 in 10 Americans could pay for a $1,000 emergency expense, you could build a substantial emergency fund.

But, unless you receive an inheritance or win the lottery, this $1,000 per month isn’t just going to appear out of the blue. You’re going to have to earn it. And, your first thought might mean picking up a second job.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach — especially if you’re in a financial crisis or have a short-term financial goal. On the flip side, this can pull you away from your family, friends, or hobbies. Plus, it can be exhausting in addition to your full-time job. In turn, that could actually put your main source of income in jeopardy if your performance or productivity plummets.

So, where can you realistically earn an extra grand each month? Through a passive income.

What is a passive income?

A passive income is when you make money without exerting much effort. In fact, this requires so little effort that many people describe a passive income as earning money while sleeping. Obviously, that doesn’t always literally happen. But hopefully, you have at least a basic understanding of what a passive income is.

There is, however, a passive income myth that must be debunked. Many people assume that earning a passive income is so easy that you only need a weekend to start. And, after that, you can just sit back and wait for the money to roll into your bank account.

In reality, there’s a lot of work to be done upfront. Even after the initial legwork, you’ll still have to maintain and update your passive income sources. It’s like taking care of your home or vehicle. Without properly taking care of these assets, they will quickly deteriorate and lose value.

If you do put in a little elbow grease and stay committed, then yes, a passive income can create an additional income stream. Eventually, this can help you achieve financial freedom, stability, and security. As a result, this reduces stress and anxiety.

In short, earning a passive income can significantly improve your life. And, if that sounds appealing to you, here are 11 passive ideas that can bring in an extra thousand bucks per month.

1. Investing.

As Jeff Rose, the Wealth Hacker, says, this first idea should be a no-brainer. And, despite what you may believe, it doesn’t take a small fortune to begin investing.

“Whether it be 50 bucks a month, $100 a month, anything that you can start investing, you can start making gains, start making interest, of your investment,” he adds. Examples include;

  • Index funds. These are mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that are tied to a market index, such as the S&P 500. Because of this, these funds’ performance correlates with that of the underlying index. Moreover, they’re passively managed as well.
  • Dividend stocks. If you want to make this a worthwhile investment, you will have to invest a significant amount of time and money. If you invest regularly in dividend stocks and put in the time and effort, you will have a very stable recurring income.
  • Peer-to-peer lending. Through platforms like LendingClub and Prosper, you can lend money directly with a click of a button. You can expect a 10.58% average interest rate.
  • Cryptocurrency. It’s not advisable to go all-in with crypto. But, as Cale Moodie wrote in a previous Due article, “the risk of investing in crypto is evening out, and as the market continues to correct itself, we’ll see more legitimate crypto investment opportunities rise to the top.”

What if you don’t know where to start? No worries. You can get assistance with robo-advisors.

“There are Robo Advisors such as Betterment, Wealthfront, Acorns, Robinhood, Ally Invest, E-Trade,” Rose says. “If you know nothing about investing and you want somebody to pick those investments for you, that’s why I have to recommend Betterment.

“Betterment doesn’t have any money to start and they will choose an ETF model for you,” he explains. “So, if you’re putting any money in, they’re gonna choose those investments and then you’ll sit back and start making those capital gains in dividends, otherwise passive income.”

2. Deal and/or survey sites.

Some might not consider this as a passive income since you are putting in a little work. But, signing up for deal and/or survey sites let you earn a minimal income while going about your daily life.

For example, you can make money when you’re doing your online shopping or filling surveys while watching Netflix or on your commute to or from work.

Sure. This probably won’t buy you a yacht. But, instead of just sitting there and wasting time, why not pick up some extra cash on the side?

3. Cash-back reward points.

“This one’s a little bit outside the box, but hear me out,” Rose states. “Taking advantage of cash-back reward points,” is another proven passive income idea.

“Now, I know, I’m sure you’re thinking how is that really passive income?” he asks “But, check this out.

“Before I started using credit cards to pay all of our bills, we used to use debit cards all the time, “ Rose states. “Because I always subscribed to the idea of like you shouldn’t have credit cards because credit cards are evil.” The thing is, when used responsibly, credit cards aren’t that evil.

Why? Because credit cards offer various reward points. And, if you don’t take advantage of them, you’re missing out on free money.

Rose explains that began using rewards points for cash back, hotels, or airline miles. “Anything like that that we knew that we’d be using on a frequent basis.,” he says. “So, now everything that we buy, whether it’s our cell phone bill, our satellite bill, Netflix, groceries, gasoline, we run all of our expenses through our credit cards and we get back tons of reward points.”

In fact, Rose was able to take a family vacation to Jamaica without having to spend a dime. “So, using your credit cards to take advantage of these reward points is so passive because you don’t have to do anything. You’re doing something that you’re already gonna do to begin with.” You just sit back and watch the money roll in.

4. Sell photos online.

Today, more than ever, photographers of all levels are in high demand. The reason? Bloggers, graphic designers, marketers, publishers buy and use photos online every day. Specifically, those on a shoestring budget, like bloggers and small to medium-sized website business owners are purchasing stock photos for their site or marketing materials like brooches.

But, where exactly can you sell your photos online? Unsplash, Shutterstock, iStock. Adobe Stock or Dreamstime are some of your best choices. Or, you could be in complete control by creating your own photography website in WordPress.

5. Patron.

“So, there’s this cool service called Patreon,” says Rose. “It’s for any artist that has a community, a growing community, and you wanna get paid for your work. And, you have a community of people that love your art whether that be your drawings, your music, whatever that art may be. And each time that you release a new item, you can get paid a fee for that.”

Best of all? You determine the amount of the fee.

An example of how this works is from Evan Burse, aka the Cartoon Block, who is friends with Rose. Burse has a thriving YouTube channel where the community will pay a fee whenever release a new image. And, he loves showing people how to sketch superheroes.

Since Burse was already sketching superheroes, he’s making some extra cash from a dedicated community that is excited and supportive of his work.

6. Write a book.

There’s no need to sugarcoat this. You aren’t going to compose a book overnight. Thankfully, the process is relatively simple.

Write a book about a niche you’re familiar with, self-publish it on Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, IngramSpark, or Smashwords. Although you’ll have to market as well, if it’s well-written and unique you’ll have another income source for years. In fact, Ross says that he’s still getting paid on sales of his book Soldier of Finance that he released in 2013.

7. Physical goods.

With physical goods, the sky’s the limit. For instance, you could sell coffee mugs, t-shirts, dog leashes, yoga mats, or handkerchiefs online. Especially, through Amazon’s FBA program.

“Amazon offers a couple of different fulfillment strategies,” explains Serenity Gibbons in a previous Due article. “One is their Fulfillment by Amazon platform – also known as FBA. The other option allows sellers to fulfill their own orders. Each method comes with its own pros and cons.”

“The major benefit of using FBA is that you don’t have to worry about a thing,” adds Serenity. “Amazon stores your inventory and does all of the picking, packing, and shipping. They also provide tracking numbers, handle returns, and deal with customer correspondence.” Just be aware that you will “have to pay for this service, which can eat away at your profits.”

Another option? Sell your own handmade products, like jewelry, belts, furniture, pet supplies, clothing, or candles. Afterward, you can list them on online platforms such as Etsy or Shopify.

8. Real estate.

“Real estate investing is a great way to not only build your passive income but your financial future,” notes Catherine Way in another piece for Due. “Thankfully there are many easy ways to start investing in real estate despite your background. From flips or note investments, it is easier than ever to start real estate investing.”

In order to start investing, you must understand the basics such as the local market conditions, how to calculate your return on investment, profits, and the different types of real estate prior to investing in real estate

Another option for real estate investing? Rental property that’s run by a managing company via platforms like;

  • Roofstock provides the option for renting cash-flowing single-family homes.
  • Fundrise lets investors invest in private real estate through a crowdfunding platform.
  • RealtyMogul allows you to invest in large developments, such as commercial or multifamily buildings.
  • EquityMultiple permits you to invest in real estate with as little as $10,000.
  • Groundfloor aims to make private capital markets accessible to all by crowdsourcing real estate investing and lending for as little as $10.
  • FarmTogether lets you invest in farmland to create a predictable investment strategy.

9. YouTube.

In terms of what type of channel to launch on YouTube, there are quite a few options available to you. You might review products, give your opinion, or share instructional tips. You can even provide updates on a niche topic that you’re either familiar with or passionate about.

But, how does that translate into money?

That’s an easy question to answer; ads. Of course, you need to be a quality content creator and build an audience. When you do, you’ll get paid through those ads that you’re probably skipping. Additionally, you could have your videos sponsored by a company. If you spend any time on YouTube, you’ve no doubt come across videos that have been sponsored by companies like Magic Spoon, Manscaped, Raycon, or ExpressVPN.

10. Blogging.

Yes. You can make serious coin by blogging. You just need to take that all-important first step and actually start your blog by;

  • Select a blog name related to your name, product, or service.
  • Purchase the domain and web hosting so that your blog goes live.
  • Customize your blog through a website builder or hire a pro to do this for you.
  • Write and publish your first post.

Next, keep creating and sharing your content. Like with YouTube, having quality content and a dedicated following can help you monetize your blog. Generally, this is through banner ads or affiliate marketing. But, you could also offer coaching services or sell information products like an instructional guide, eBook, or case study.

To turn this income into a passive income you’ll want to take advantage of automation. “Simply find tools that streamline the tasks you’re tired of doing and integrate them into your blogging workflow,” suggests Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Hostt. “There are apps to automate email marketing, social media, list segmentation, proofreading, writing headlines, scheduling meetings, tracking analytics, finding link-building opportunities, optimizing images, automating business payments, and everything in between.”

On the other hand, there is only so much you can automate.” At some point, you have to build up a team of skilled professionals who can help you handle the tasks that require human energy and creativity,” he adds. “This is where outsourcing to freelancers and virtual assistants comes into play.

11. Create your own online course.

Creating a course is one way to diversify your income,” says personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money Taylor Gordon. “If you’re making money from a business, there’s a good chance you have something to teach that people want to learn.”

“I like making and taking courses from other people because they’re often a smaller ticket product that gives me an introductory into what the person is about,” adds Gordon. “From there, I can decide if I want to invest with them again.”

Interested? Then let’s rundown the steps you’ll need to take to create an online course;

  • Choose the right idea. Your course topic should be one that is likely to be of interest to people. Make sure to do your research and ask the right questions beforehand. “Sometimes courses that people say they’re interested in aren’t actually courses that they will dig into their wallets to purchase, she says.
  • Outline the course. You don’t have to include every single detail. But, you’ll want to flesh out a lesson plan so that you and your students know where the course is heading.
  • Test the market. Gauge interest through a presale or beta version.
  • Choose a course platform. Delivering your course via daily emails is probably the easiest and cheapest method, says Gordon. Alternatives include Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific, or Zippy Courses, which are more involved sites. You could also go with a straightforward payment and digital delivery service such as SendOwl or Gumroad.
  • Promote like it’s your job. Finally, go on a marketing blitz through email marketing, purchasing ads, hosting a webinar, or being a podcast guest.


Source: 11 Passive Income Ideas to Earn an Extra Grand Each Month


You Can’t Outrun Your Fork But That Doesn’t Mean Exercise Can’t Help You Lose Weight

1Every January, millions of individuals make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or eat healthier, if not both. To achieve this goal, many individuals will begin strenuous exercise programs that incorporate too much exercise too soon, leading to fitness burnout or injury. Overtraining can actually prevent you from losing weight.

As a health neuroscientist, I have been studying the brain and cognitive mechanisms underlying dietary behaviours and the role exercise plays in helping people improve their diets for over 10 years.

Energy and exercise

The truth is that you simply cannot exercise away a poor diet and expect to lose weight (if that is your goal). Humans are very good at conserving energy and will account for any calories burned through exercise by consuming more calories later in the day or by being less physically active throughout the rest of the day.

That being said, you can — and should — use exercise to help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss. But not to offset calories consumed.

If you are looking to lose weight, the only way to do it is by controlling your calorie intake. The best and most effective way of doing that is limiting the consumption of ultra-processed foods — typical “junk foods” and fast-food meals. Even if you are not trying to lose weight, reducing ultra-processed food consumption is good for mental and physical health.

Regular exercise makes it easier to do this by improving the brain and cognitive processes that help us regulate junk food consumption, and by reducing stress. And the best part is, as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking is all you need to get the beneficial effects.

Why we over-consume junk foods

We know that we shouldn’t overeat candy, cookies, cake and chips, or drink sugary sodas. Diets that are high in these ultra-processed foods cause us to gain weight. But they are just so hard to resist.

Ultra-processed junk foods have been designed to be as tasty and rewarding as possible. When we are exposed to media advertisements, or actual food items (for example, chocolate bars in the checkout lane at grocery stores), brain activity in regions associated with reward processing increases. This reward-related brain activity results in increased food cravings and the drive to eat, even when we are not hungry.

A brain region known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) helps us limit the consumption of ultra-processed foods by both decreasing activity in these reward regions to reduce food cravings and by initiating the cognitive processes needed to exert conscious control over food choices.

When using functional brain imaging to examine brain responses, neuroscientists have shown that increased activity in the dlPFC helps us control food cravings and select healthier food items by decreasing activity in the reward regions of the brain. Conversely, when activity in the dlPFC is decreased, we have a harder time resisting the temptation of appealing junk foods and will consume more snack food.

Exercise can help regulate food consumption

Exercise boosts brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt its functions based on new input. Boosting brain plasticity makes it easier to change our habits and lifestyle. More and more evidence has shown that regular physical activity can increase prefrontal brain function and improve cognition.

These exercise-induced increases in prefrontal brain function and cognition makes it easier to regulate or limit our consumption of junk foods. And we can see the effects with as little as 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise.

I have shown that people consume less ultra-processed food such as chips or milk chocolate after 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (in our study, this was a brisk walk at 5.6-6.1 kilometres per hour on a treadmill with a slight incline). Research has also shown that both a single session of high-intensity interval training and a 12-week high-intensity aerobic exercise program can reduce preferences or appetite for high-calorie junk foods. Similar effects are seen when people engage in moderate aerobic exercise or strength training.

The key takeaway here is that regular exercise can reduce how much people want junk foods and improve their ability to resist the temptation of these appealing foods by improving brain function and cognition. This makes it easier to limit the consumption of these foods to achieve healthier eating and weight loss goals.

Exercise also helps reduce stress

When people are stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which activates what is known as the fight-or-flight response. When cortisol levels are high, the brain thinks it needs more fuel, resulting in increased cravings for sugary or salty ultra-processed foods.

Participation in regular exercise or a single bout of exercise reduces perceived stress levels and cortisol levels. Exercise also helps reduce unhealthy drink and food consumption when people are stressed.

Stress can also impact how the brain functions. Research has shown that stress can result in decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex and increased activity in reward regions of the brain when looking at pictures of food. This makes it harder to resist the temptation of appealing junk foods.

By offsetting the impact of stress on prefrontal brain function, exercise makes it easier to maintain your goals of healthier eating or reducing junk food consumption. Twenty minutes of brisk walking can help the prefrontal cortex recover from temporary changes in activity, like the ones seen when people are stressed.

Next time you are feeling stressed, try going for a brisk 20-minute walk. It could prevent you from stress-eating.

What exercise is best?

Researchers often get asked what is the best exercise and how much exercise to do.

At the end of the day, the best exercise is one you enjoy and can sustain over time. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), aerobic exercise, meditation and mindfulness, yoga and strength training are all effective in helping improve diet by targeting prefrontal brain function and reducing stress.

If you are beginning a new exercise routine this new year, ease into it, be kind to yourself, listen to your body and remember that a little goes a long way.

By: Cassandra J. Lowe

I am a CIHR and Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF; BrainsCAN) funded Postdoctoral Fellow at Western University. My research examines the cognitive and neural factors that increase the likelihood individuals will over consume appealing “junk foods” (e.g., chips, chocolate, candy, fast-food meals)….

Source: You can’t outrun your fork. But that doesn’t mean exercise can’t help you lose weight or change your diet.


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How To Deal With Covid Uncertainty and The Rise of Omicron

At the start of the pandemic, practically everything was unknown: How did the coronavirus spread? Why does it affect people differently? How long would we need to social distance? When might we have a vaccine? While some questions were answered just as quickly, a new crop of uncertainties emerged throughout 2020 and 2021.

Though the widespread vaccine rollout in the US seemed to provide a reprieve from the worst of pandemic life, the progress was in many ways short-lived. Now, after nearly two years of fear, grief, and day-to-day pandemic turmoil — canceled plans, delayed weddings, missed milestones — the emergence of the omicron variant throws another wrench into what we hoped would finally be post-pandemic life.

Once again, we’re being told to wait and see: Wait for research on how infectious omicron is, how serious infections with the variant are, how the vaccines stand against it, and whether we should alter our risk calculus. This informational purgatory makes it difficult to make plans, from returning to office settings to planning holiday gatherings and winter travel.

All this uncertainty is inherently stressful, research shows. The human brain doesn’t cope well with uncertainty and defaults to anxiety in the face of a potential threat. Instead, we much prefer routines and feeling in control. It’s no surprise that a pandemic, which has destroyed any semblance of routine and personal control, has wreaked havoc on mental health.

According to an August 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, 63 percent of respondents said uncertainty over what the next few months will bring is a source of stress; half said the pandemic has made planning for their future feel impossible.

If you can feel the latest strain of uncertainty gnawing away at your mental health and well-being, here are some constructive ways to cope with the ongoing precariousness of our present moment.

Acknowledge what you’ve lost

Everyone, whether they’ve lost a loved one to the virus or not, has experienced a loss during the pandemic: loss of a job, of community, of a routine, of a milestone celebration. Pauline Boss, author of The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, coined the term “ambiguous loss” to describe this experience — the departure of something more amorphous than a relationship or a life. “Not everyone has had a death,” Boss says, “but everyone has lost something.”

To help cope with the anger or depression you may feel as the pandemic continues to disrupt travel or holiday plans, Boss says to be explicit with yourself about what you’ve already lost. Even if you’ve been lucky enough not to lose a loved one, your losses are still painful and meaningful. Naming the loss helps ground your emotions and move on. “When we’ve given ourselves appropriate time to mourn those losses, then can we look at that point of loss and see what’s on the other side,” says clinical psychologist Jenny Wang.

Make plans, but stay flexible

Since day one of this crisis, being nimble and adjusting to changing guidelines on the fly has been integral to coping with the pandemic. This flexibility is still key, perhaps even more so when your patience has run thin and psychological exhaustion is high from nearly two years of changing circumstances. Right now, you should still make future plans (research shows having something to look forward to improves mood) while listening to the latest public health recommendations and being prepared to change course if that guidance shifts.

“You may have to be more flexible with your plans and gatherings, which might limit options,” says Allison Chase, the clinical director of Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center. “Limited options are better than no options when trying to connect with others or take a vacation. It might not be exactly what friends or families may have hoped for; however, this is where it is important to pause and be grateful for what you are able to do.”

Taking a day-by-day approach may feel antithetical when it comes to plans, but given the uncertain nature of the present, “we have to live for the day we have in front of us,” Boss says.

Lean on your networks

It’s admittedly a bummer to make plans you’re excited about, only to have to cancel or postpone them. However, if there’s a takeaway from last year’s lockdowns, it’s that loneliness is terrible for our mental health. Take advantage of being vaccinated and having access to vaccines, and make an effort to connect with your communities. Networks can be an anchor in yet another unmooring time.

Even making plans to FaceTime, call, or text a friend if you don’t feel safe meeting in person is beneficial. “It’s easy in this time to want to retreat and hide away — and that might be restorative for you, and if that’s the case, great,” Wang says. “Community support is key, and being intentional and deliberate about finding that support is really important.”

Avoid thinking about the worst

While Wang says dreaming up worst-case scenarios can help us plan and problem-solve for the future, it’s possible to over-rely on this type of thinking and get stuck in a perpetual loop of catastrophizing. As a result, you might end up wracked with anxiety, and instead of working toward a solution, you’re immobilized by fear.

Boss suggests countering catastrophizing with “both/and” thinking, which provides space to acknowledge two seemingly conflicting ideas; instead of “We’re surely going back into lockdown and it will be the worst,” try “I hate the unpredictability of this pandemic, and I will get through it.”

Rather than wondering “What if the worst happens?” Wang recommends asking “What is my current reality?” If that reality involves the sense that the New Year’s Eve party you’ve been looking forward to might not happen as planned, you can acknowledge your frustrations at having to change course. Then, focus on a workable solution, given the circumstances and limitations, Wang says. This might involve hosting a belated, outdoors New Year’s celebration on a sunny day.

Focus on what’s in your control

One way to increase tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity, Boss says, is to make a concentrated effort to relinquish control. Implementing public health policies that would bring case numbers down might not be something you personally can do, but you still have authority over your own life, from how you fill your spare time to how you react to the latest news.

Bread baking earned meme status early in quarantine, and with good reason: It’s a hobby that allows people to be in direct control of the outcome, Boss says. Aside from baking, activities like knitting, doing puzzles, or playing games can replicate this feeling of control on a small scale or via a project you can successfully see through from beginning to end.

If and when the world does throw another curveball, our reactions will be practically the only thing we can control, Wang says. “It’s kind of like when you’re flying and everybody’s flights have been canceled, and some people approach the flight person in a fit of rage while other people are very adaptable and are understanding,” she says.

“Where do you want to fall in terms of where you show up in the midst of that change?” It’s okay to be upset, but once your initial emotional reaction has subsided, try to make a conscious effort to take action and make decisions from a place of patience and flexibility versus a place of resistance and denial.

Find a glimmer of hope

For most of 2020, Covid-19 vaccines remained a point of optimism; once we were all vaccinated, the thinking went, life could go back to “normal.” Now that reality has shown otherwise, it may be difficult to muster up another ounce of hope. But even in moments of despair, we need to have aspirations, Wang says.

Whether you find that in your faith, your relationships, or a meaningful pursuit you want to take on post-pandemic, you need something to help you make it through the next day. Even something as simple as sharing what you’re grateful for at the end of each day has been shown to improve happiness. “We’re talking a lot about existential questions here,” Wang says. “We can only do our best to listen to ourselves and to really be attuned to what it is that we need in order to keep taking that next one step forward.”

Know the brain isn’t good at handling uncertainty — use that to your advantage

To be in a state of prolonged uncertainty is extremely stressful, Boss says. But rather than seeing our brains’ natural reaction to uncertainty as an obstacle, try to take it as “something that can get us out of routines that we may have held for decades or years — and that’s not always bad,” Boss says. “It will lead to change.”

This change can come in the form of how you approach even the mundane moments in life, Wang says. The current unpredictability is a stark reminder of how fleeting life can be, she says. “What can we do to even just be aware and notice and cherish the very simplistic moments of our days? How can I make this life one that is meaningful, that offers slices of joy and that provides a sense of relief in the midst of how heavy it’s been to live within the pandemic?

Source: How to deal with Covid uncertainty and the rise of omicron – Vox


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The Best Investing Strategies For Inflationary Times

Well, it’s finally here – the ‘I’ word is back. After threatening to poke its head out and mess with all of our financials, we are now in the state of ‘transitory inflation’.  The term itself is menacing. Investors are concerned. Ideas are flying around, yet it is not clear what investors should do if anything.

What exactly is ‘transitory inflation’? Inflation is the progressive increase in prices for goods and services over time. Further if something is transitory, it could mean it isn’t permanent or that it lasts a short period of time. To give context, since 1926, the historical average inflation rate is 2.6%. Today it is trending closer to 5.4%.

Looking through this lens, investors are simply solving for how to manage their portfolios for what may be a very short period of time. When there are challenges in the marketplace, the best advice is to stick to your knitting.  It’s boring, but it’s often the right move.  An asset allocation strategy works because it is built to withstand all market cycles.

But just because that is the right advice, it doesn’t mean investors follow it. What investors really want is to do something – take some action.

There are a few moves investors can make right now that might alleviate their stress over inflation and manage the impact on the portfolio. One is strategic and two are more tactical in nature. These ‘hedges’ so to speak, can provide investors with some peace of mind in navigating the markets.

One is strategic and two are more tactical in nature. These ‘hedges’ so to speak, can provide investors with some peace of mind in navigating the markets.

Run Towards Equities and Away from Cash

Out of all the choices an investor needs to make in fighting inflation, perhaps the best advice is simply the easiest to follow. Stay invested in equities.

It is straightforward and pragmatic advice.  A company facing rising costs, can simply offset them by raising prices, which raises revenue and earnings. A win for the company and the investor. It’s a perfect inflation hedge and is consistent with an asset allocation strategy.

Investors who are more anxious about inflation may want to allocate even a few percentage points more of their portfolio to equities to fight off these fears. Remember, we said this inflationary period is transitory; when prices stabilize, investors can simply peel back this excess allocation.

And one thing to remember is that this time around, with inflation, savings rates are also not rising as well. This is contrary to other periods of high inflation where savings rates also rose as interest rates increased. Being in the equity market allows an investor to pick up more return and over time will increase their purchasing power.

Tilt Towards Floating Rate

In a well-allocated portfolio, the bulk of the fixed income exposure should come from high credit quality bonds. However, in this market, fixed income returns have been flat to negative. For investors looking to fight off inflation, this seems like a losing battle.

There is one segment that may serve as a hedge. It’s called a floating rate bond fund. This investment can be added as a tactical tilt to a portfolio that can make all the difference in an inflationary environment. But investors need to understand how these funds work.

Typically, floating rate bonds are variable interest rate loans banks make to companies. In terms of credit quality, the loans are considered senior debt, which means that in the event of a company’s insolvency, it is higher up on the repayment schedule than other holdings such as high yield.

But these instruments are unique in a high inflationary environment because when inflation causes prices to rise, it also raises the interest on the bonds. Including a fund with these bonds in a portfolio can give investors a little bump to fight off some of the negative impact that inflation has on their other bond holdings. A tilt in the 1-3% range is sufficient.

Commodities Can Be a Help

The other tilt that investors can make is the tried-and-true commodities play. Commodity prices often go up in a period of inflation, so holding them allows investors to benefit from the demand for these assets.

Making an allocation to commodities really is about being diversified. A diversified commodities fund will mitigate some of the risk profile of this investment. And like the floating rate bonds, a tilt is more than sufficient to help as an inflationary hedge.

Inflation May or May Not Be Transitory

Americans have been fortunate to be in a low inflationary market for some years, due to technology, globalization and reduced inflationary expectations. But the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc.

As we go through this ‘transitory’ period, it’s important to stay focused on the components of portfolio construction. Staying invested is really the best thing an investor can do to weather the ups and downs of the current market.

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Ever since my first tax class in law school, I have been fascinated by wealth and the journey one takes to achieve it. Driven by this passion, I have spent

Source: The Best Investing Strategies For Inflationary Times


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