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No. 1 Cause of Money Stress

No. 1 cause of money stress: When expenses exceed income

  • Nearly half of Americans say their expenses are equal to or greater than their income, causing them financial stress, according to a new report.
  • Income volatility and mounting debt compound their money worries.

Many Americans struggle when it comes to building up sufficient savings, and understandably so.

Nearly half, or 48 percent, said their expenses are equal to or greater than their income, causing them a significant amount of financial stress, according to a new report by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, or CFSI, a non-profit aimed at funding projects that could improve consumers’ financial health.

Thanks to a growing number of Americans working freelance, part-time or with side jobs, “incomes have become increasingly volatile,” said Jennifer Tescher, the founder, and CEO of CFSI.

From 2014 to 2015, about a third of U.S. households had volatile income — a gain or loss of at least 25 percent from one year to the next, according to a 2015 survey from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The median income gain was $20,500, and the median income loss was $25,000. (See chart below.)

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“Income volatility just makes it hard for families to plan and budget,” Erin Currier, director of financial security and mobility for Pew, told reporters on a press call about the report.

In fact, nearly half, or 46 percent, of employed Americans said they usually run out of money between paychecks, according to a separate report by SunTrust Bank.

Adding to their concerns about money, a one-quarter of Americans said they have too much debt, according to the CFSI report, with almost all of those people saying that they feel financially stressed. The CFSI polled about 5,000 adults in March.

“Income volatility and mounting debt are two of the biggest stressors that work against the financial health of many Americans,” said Tescher of CFSI. “Their financial health depends on climbing out of debt, planning for the future and living within their means when possible.”

“This is not a small problem, this is a big, national challenge,” she added.

“This is not a small problem, this is a big, national challenge”-Jennifer Tescher, founder and CEO of CFSI

Tescher recommends using money management apps, which can help schedule the best time to pay bills, and setting up autopay, as well as apps that can help strategize the best way to pay down debts in order to reduce the amount of interest owed.

The consequences of not doing anything could be dire. For example, higher financial stress levels have worrisome health implications, according to a report by The American Psychological Association titled “Paying With Our Health.” Consequences can include a higher likelihood to overeat, drink or smoke. (The American Psychological Association also provides tips for managing financial stress.)

 

Credit – Jessica Dickler (Personal Finance Writer)

 

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Balani Infotech Pvt. Ltd.
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Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

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Understanding how the five senses evolved can help inform how human sight, smell and taste continue to shift based on the environment, according to three researchers at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

We are currently experiencing “a state of mismatch” between the ways our senses evolved and our current surroundings, according to Kara C. Hoover, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Our ancestors’ visual acuity evolved outside in the natural world, said Amanda Melin, assistant professor of anthropology and archeology and medical genetics at the University of Calgary. Yet, humans now spend significant amounts of time inside and this is adjusting our vision, she said.

“There’s mounting evidence that our anthropogenic light environments are having a real cost on our acuity,” said Melin, with rates of myopia – or nearsightedness – skyrocketing in recent years. While myopia does have a genetic component, evidence suggests that dark rooms, artificial lighting and “near-work tasks,” like staring at a computer screen or into a microscope, contribute as well.

Humans can correct nearsightedness with glasses, contact lenses or surgery, but myopia can put individuals at risk for other diseases such as glaucoma and retinal detachment, she said. Studies have shown that 40 minutes outside each day decreases chances of getting myopia between 25% and 50%, Melin said.

Yet the environmental changes wrought by human activity impact non-human primates as well, she said. Primates in general, even those that are nocturnal, are highly visually dependent. Sight drives nearly every aspect of their lives, including catching prey and communicating with other animals. In areas without light pollution, skies are actually getting darker due to pollutants and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere scattering light. Scientists do not know how non-human primates will cope with global darkening, Melin said.

Additionally, natural light even with its beneficial ability to lessen chances of acquiring myopia can be tainted with pollutants and less-than-fresh air can play with our sense of smell, Hoover said. The ability of humans to smell has adapted over time to aid survival and reproduction, helping humans identify nutritious foods, select partners and avoid spoiled food and other dangers, she said.

Much research has been done on our “smell-being,” particularly on how our environment continues to transform – and disrupt – our sense of smell, Hoover said. People in polluted environments have been found to have a diminished sense of smell, which will only become more common as the global population continues to urbanize, she said.

Studies have shown the ability to detect smells can modify mental, social and physical health, but some people – those who live near factories or mining communities, for instance – are at greater risk of a diminished sense of smell and all of the attendant problems that can spark, she said. We are living in an age of “sensory inequities,” Hoover said.

“We’re not going to leave buildings, we’re not going to leave our computers, we’re not going to abandon that, so we need to actually create environments that engage us with the outdoors and also that, when we go outside, we’re not in a polluted space,” Hoover said.

Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University, has looked at our sense of taste to understand why we are drawn to certain flavors – and how taste preferences can harm or help our health.

Not every species loves sugar, but humans do – and so do apes, who are omnivores who love fruit and obtain about 80% of their calories from fruit, Breslin said. We’re also drawn to sour, acidic tastes, the other flavor present in fruit, he noted. Unlike other animals, humans and other primates have lost the gene that codes an enzyme to allow us to produce our own Vitamin C, likely because we were eating enough Vitamin C-rich fruit, he said.

To get these crucial nutrients and calories, other apes will go into a tree and gorge themselves on fruit until it’s gone. Humans do this, too, though metaphorically, Breslin said.

“We climb up into this tree that our society has created, and we gorge on the fruit, but the tree never runs out of fruit and we never come out of the tree,” Breslin said. “We have to keep in mind that we need to force ourselves down … periodically.”

Another type of food we are primed to prefer could help mitigate a persistent health problem and save lives, Breslin said. Humans are attracted to fermented food and drinks, including wine, beer, bread, fermented meats like pepperoni and fermented dairy like cheese and yogurt, he said. Properly fermented foods can promote a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome by delivering probiotics and prevent diarrheal diseases, the most common disease on the planet among humans and the second-largest killer of children, he said.

“I believe that if we eat more fermented foods we’ll be able to have a positive impact on helping prevent and treat this,” said Breslin.

Credit – Andrea Korte

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What’s That Stuff ? Fireworks !!

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Fireworks have thrilled crowds for centuries; now science is working to make their fallout more environmentally friendly

By Elizabeth K. Wilson

More than 1,000 years ago, most likely in China, someone made the serendipitous discovery that a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate burns with startling speed and flash.

The mixture, which eventually came to be known as gunpowder, was a Chinese mainstay for centuries, used in cultural ceremonies to scare off evil spirits and in military rockets to deter mortal enemies.

Gunpowder eventually made its way to Europe during the early 1200s. During the Middle Ages, gunpowder-based creations—the precursor to modern fireworks—were limited to booms and a few sparkles.

The orangey hues of these early fireworks were produced largely by the glow of very hot solid particles, a phenomenon known as black- or gray-body radiation. Any minor deviation from the campfire orange color—say, to yellow or white—came courtesy of iron, copper, or zinc filings added to the gunpowder mixture.

During the 1800s, chemists began to burn recently synthesized compounds to produce red, green, blue, and purple explosions. The new, striking array of colors came from the spectral emissions of excited gas-phase molecules instead of from black-body radiation.

Many of these quaint color-burning formulas are beloved by old-school pyrotechnicians. But the mixtures of mercurous chloride, arsenic sulfide, copper acetoarsenite, and barium chlorate are unstable, and they are toxic to human health and the environment.

 

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