Scatty.com

Foreclosure & The Property Market in the Philippines: 5 Essential Tips

Foreclosed properties can offer great value, but you need to move forward carefully before purchasing one. Sold at auction, these properties have been seized by the lender due to the borrower’s failure to pay, and you often don’t know exactly what you’re buying until the deal is done. Whether you’re an investor trying to make money or an individual trying to save money on a home in the Philippines, keep these tips in mind as you look for a foreclosed property. 

1. Get your financing ready

In the Philippines, foreclosed properties are sold at auction, and if you decide you want to buy, you need to be ready to act quickly. Make sure that you have your financing pre-approved with a solid chance of approval. Also, talk with your lender about your plans to buy a foreclosure — they can let you know if you need to set up any special financing. 

2. Have cash on hand. 

To win a competitive auction, you can’t just have a pre-approved loan. You will also need cash in hand to make a downpayment. If possible, you should have as much of the purchase price as possible in cash, but on the low end, you should aim to have 10 to 20% of the price in cash. 

3. Make sure you have extra reserves.

Winning an auction on a foreclosed property feels great, but it’s only the first step. You generally don’t get to look at the inside of the home before you bid, and if it’s in rough shape, you’ll need to spend a lot of money on cleaning and repairs. To make this possible, make sure that you have extra cash reserves. 

4. Don’t forget about fees and taxes

Buying, cleaning, and repairing the property aren’t your only costs. You will also need to pay some fees and taxes. Generally, when you buy a home in the Philippines, you will need to cover a notarial fee, registration fee, transfer tax, and documentary stamps tax. These fees can vary from area to area so make sure that you understand what they are in the area where the home is located. Additionally, if you purchase a condo or a townhouse, you may also need to pay homeowner’s association dues. 

5. Consider the location carefully. 

There are foreclosed properties all over Metro Manila and nearby cities such as Cavite, Bulacan, and Rizal, and of course, there are foreclosed properties in smaller towns throughout the country. When you select a property to bid on, make sure that you think carefully about its location. If you plan to live in foreclosure, you only need to consider your personal preferences, but if you’re investing in the property, you need to think about resale value. 

Consider the location as it currently is, but also think about the upcoming potential. For instance, properties usually rise in value when nearby infrastructure gets updated. Study infrastructure plans and timelines so that you can be a savvy buyer.  

6. Research comps and set a maximum bid

Bidding can get exciting, and if multiple people want the same property, the price can go up quickly before you realize it. To ensure that you don’t bid more than a home is worth, set a limit before you go to the auction. Research comparable properties in the area to estimate what your target property is worth. Then, use those numbers to guide you at the auction. 

7. Attend as many auctions as possible. 

The more auctions you attend, the better chance you have of landing a great foreclosure. Banks, SPAV companies, the Social Security System, and the National Housing Authority often post about auctions on their websites. Keep an eye on these sources and make a point of going to a lot of auctions. Then, make smart bids and enjoy the thrill of getting ready to buy a foreclosed property. 

Legit Ways To Reduce Tax On Your Salary In Ireland

Ireland Revenue assesses taxes on your income, but if you’re savvy, there are many different ways to reduce your tax liability. Want to keep more of your money in your pocket? Then, check out these tax-saving strategies:

1. Claim tax relief on qualifying expenses.

Ireland Revenue offers tax relief on a variety of expenses. Acquaint yourself with the expenses that you can claim relief on, and then, save your receipts. You don’t need to remit receipts with your return, but you’ll need them if Revenue decides to check your claims. 

You can claim relief on the following:

  • Tuition for third-level education up to €7,000 per course, per person, per academic year.
  • Qualifying health expenses including doctor’s services, hospital care, ambulance transport, IVF treatments, acupuncture, non-routine dental care, and mental health treatment from a psychologist or psychotherapist. 
  • Equipment required for work by claiming the flat rate expense allowance.
  • Maintenance payments made to a former spouse, but not payments designated for child support.

2. Reduce your tax liability with credits.

A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you need to pay, and unfortunately, countless credits arent claimed every year. To shave down your tax liability, look for credits and make sure that you claim them. Here are just a few of the available options.

  • The home carer tax credit for couples where one spouse or partner stays home to care for children. 
  • The age tax credit which is available to people aged 65 years or older. 
  • The widow with children credit which provides help for up to five years for widowed parents of dependent children. 

3. See if you qualify for an income tax exemption

If you or your spouse is over age 65, you don’t have to pay income tax if your income is below a certain threshold. As of 2023, the threshold is €18,000 for a single person and €36,000 for a married couple. If you’re raising dependents, you can add an additional €575 for the first two children and €830 for any subsequent children. 

4. Start a pension

When you contribute funds to a pension, you save up for your future, but you also get to enjoy tax benefits right now. Pension contributions are pre-tax. That means if you contribute €1,000, for example, you don’t face any tax on those funds. 

If you’re taxed at the highest rate of 40%, you would have normally paid €400 in tax on that income. However, by putting the funds into your pension, you avoided that tax liability. 

5. Rent a room to a long-term tenant

With Revenue’s Rent-a-Room Relief program, you can earn up to €14,000 per year tax-free. To qualify, you just need to rent out a room in your home on a continuous basis to someone who is not your partner, children, or employer. 

Generally, you can only claim the relief if you rent out the room for at least 28 days. However, there is an exception for incapacitated individuals who need respite care, full and part-time students, and four-day-a-week digs. Your income may also need to be below a certain level to qualify for this relief. 

Note that you can deduct qualifying expenses from your rental income. For instance, if you collected €15,000 in rent but spent €1,000 maintaining the room, you only have a net gain of €14,000 which is all exempt from tax. This relief doesn’t apply if you rent out your home through a short-term vacation rental site — that income is taxable. 

6. Try biking to work

Through the Bike-to-Work Scheme, you can buy a bicycle, helmet, and all of the other critical accessories with tax-free funds. Participating employers pay for the bike upfront. There’s a €1,250 allowance for most bikes, €1,500 for e-bikes, and €3,000 for cargo bikes. 

Then, you sign an agreement stating that you’ll use the bike for your own purposes and to get to and from work. Finally, your employer deducts your repayments from your checks for the next 12 months, but you don’t incur any tax on those amounts. In four years, you can repeat the process and get another new bike using tax-free income.

5 Super Fun Games on Doubledown Casino

Are you in the mood for fast-paced casino action on the go? Just set your sights on Doubledown Casino. On this app, you’ll find hundreds of free digital Vegas slot machines plus video poker and table games. Not sure which ones to play? That’s okay! You can get going with these five popular games.

Texas Tea

When nothing else will do but the chance for sweet wins galore, Texas Tea is the way to go. This authentic Vegas slot machine puts you in the oil fields alongside Texas Ted. A charming fellow, Ted cheers you along as you keep the slots spinning toward riches.

Each spin lets you dream of striking it rich and earning all the credits you need for days of playtime. The excitement increases during the Oil Dividend Bonus, which allows you to win up to 75 times your original bet in a single play.   

Lobstermania 2

Another popular slot machine, Lobstermania 2 lets you team up with Lucky Larry to catch the big wins. This fun game offers 1024 ways to win, promising to keep you on your toes with every spin.

Even more excitement will come your way when you manage to get the Picker Bonus. With that move, you’ll have your choice of two main bonuses: Lucky Lobster’s Free Games or Lucky Larry’s Buoy Bonus 2. That way, you’ll never get bored with the options, allowing you to fill your day with wins.

Roulette

A true classic, Player’s Suite Roulette leaves it all up to chance as you try your luck in hopes of winning it big. You just have to take a look at the betting table to see where you want to let the chips lie.

You have many betting options to consider, too, including:

  • Even/Odd
  • Split between numbers
  • Dragon formation
  • Red/Black
  • 2 to 1

Once you have your wager in, it’s time to let the wheel fly and see where the ball lands. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit the jackpot and have even more credits to spend on future games.

Blackjack

You cannot go wrong with a game of Blackjack whenever you want to put your skills and luck to the test. The game follows traditional rules, so you always know what to expect when you enter the playing field. You just have to decide what to wager and then let the cards guide your way to a win.

While the basic rules will get you going, it’s best to learn all the tricks of winning at this game, like always doubling down on a hard 11. You’ll need plenty of luck on your side, too, so you can get the right cards at all most opportune moments. Otherwise, you may need to reload your credits to try again.

Jacks or Better

As a part of their video poker suite, Jacks or Better gives you a chance to improve your strategy at the table. This game starts with your initial wager, triggering the system to deal you five cards.

With those cards in hand, you can decide if you want to increase your bet and move forward with the round. If so, you’ll just need to discard one or more cards to try to get a winning hand.

Winning hands include:

  • Two Pair
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight
  • Full House
  • Royal Flush

If players do not have any winning combinations, jacks or better will win the round.

Upon finding your favorite games, consider participating in tournaments as well. Slot and video poker tournaments appear each day, allowing you to try your luck while putting your skills to the test. If you win big, you’ll get all the credits you need to keep the games going all day long. 

5 Tips to Help You Debug Code — The Easy Way

There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than writing code that doesn’t end up producing the desired result. When that happens, you must go back through your code to find the error and fix it. Visual Studio and other debugging tools can help, but the real solution comes from you. You need to have a plan on how to approach this trying problem whenever bugs get in the way of having flawless code. To help you out, here’s what to do.

Find the Error

While you could go through your code line by line, a debugging tool is key in finding the problem fast. Visual Studio is a popular option, but it’s not the only tool you have at your disposal.

Other code debugging tools include:

  • GDB
  • ReSharper
  • Chrome DevTools
  • PlatformIO
  • Memfault

With your tool of choice at your side, simply put your code into the system and let it reveal the errors. Then, take the time to reflect on why the system generated that error and figure out how to fix it. 

Ask Google

Don’t be afraid to ask Google whenever you don’t immediately recognize the error and understand how to resolve the issue in full. Chances are good that someone has run into the same problem and asked for advice on forums and other online communities.

For the best chance at finding the answers you seek, do a detailed search with all the error data and the name of the programming language you’re using. Then, use only the most recent sources since coding technology can quickly change, making old solutions obsolete.

Talk It Out

Rubber duck debugging is a time-honored tradition in the coding world. This approach allows you to talk through every line of your code, potentially resulting in you gaining a new perspective on the data.

While a rubber duck is the ideal audience for solo programmers, it’s often better to bring in a fellow coder whenever possible. That way, you’ll have a second set of eyes on the problem as you go through your code from start to finish.

Step Away

Sometimes, when you’re too close to the problem, it’s almost impossible to find the right answer. Avoid that by giving yourself permission to walk away when the error starts to feel way too challenging to overcome.  

Go out for a brisk walk in the fresh air, get a cup of coffee, or simply close up shop for the day. When you come back to address the issue, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the issue differently and thinking up lasting solutions.

Squash the Bug

Skip the urge to put a band-aid on the problem just to get the code up and running fast. Instead, aim to fully squash the bug for good, so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Otherwise, future changes could bring the bug back, resulting in even more problems with your program. Worse yet, the temporary fix could bring even more bugs to the forefront of your program, resulting in errors and crashes galore.

To avoid that, simply test your code once you’ve enacted a solution for the error at hand. Run tests on each section of your codebase for the best results. Then, fix whatever bugs show up during the tests to create clean code that will withstand the test of time.

Debugging is a part of life when you enter the world of programming. So, create a plan to follow whenever problems arise, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding and fixing the problem fast.

How Much Do Broadway Stars Earn?

Are you dreaming of being a Broadway sensation and wondering how much that can put in your bank? Or are you just curious about the financial health of the supporting actors and dancers you see at Broadway shows are? Either way, read on to discover all.

The top earning Broadway star as of 2023 is Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose net worth is estimated at $80 million thanks to several hit Broadway shows, including “Hamilton.” The hip-hop musical about America’s early leaders won almost every Tony award and sold $3 million worth of tickets in its first week.

Other Broadway actors, singers, and dancers don’t make as much as the star and creator of “Hamilton.” Represented by the Actor’s Equity Association, non-starring Broadway performers will make a minimum of $2,638 per week in 2024. As of 2022, they made $2,034 a week, according to Playbill.

Top Earning Broadway Stars of All Time

Some top earning Broadway stars are multi-talented women who have had long careers on the stage.

  • Angela Lansbury: Angela Lansbury was the TV star of “Murder She Wrote” between 1984 and 2003 and the voice of Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast,” but her heart was always on Broadway. She starred in numerous Broadway productions, receiving six Tony Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Angela started out making only $60 a week singing at a Russian nightclub and ended up with an estimated net worth of $70 million before her death at age 96 in 2022.
  • Bernadette Peters: Another high-earning Broadway star is Bernadette Peters, who started out in 1959 at only age 10 appearing in the New York City Center’s revival of a classic play, “The Most Happy Fella.” In 1969, Bernadette won several awards for Outstanding Broadway Debut in “George M!” In 2021, Bernadette starred in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Disney+. Her net worth is $40 million as of 2023, according to The Richest.
  • Julie Andrews: The British singer and actor starred as Maria Von Trapp in the “Sound of Music” on Broadway and in film. She’s also famous as Mary Poppins. Julie’s estimated net worth is $30 million and she made $225,000 per week in 1964 starring in “Sound of Music” on Broadway.
  • Hugh Jackman: Tall, handsome Jackman, best-known as the X-Man Wolverine in Marvel films, is a multi-talented singer, actor and dancer who portrayed Harold Hill in “The Music Man” on Broadway between 2021 and 2023. Hugh earned $100,000 per week base pay in “The Music Man,” according to Playbill, plus a share of the gross ticket sales. As of 2023, Hugh’s net worth is estimated at $150 million to $180 million according to different wealth tracking websites.

Wide Range of Earning For Broadway Stars

People who appear in Broadway shows as supporting characters, singers, or dancers earn a minimum of around $2,000 per week. Stars who can bring audiences to the theater at ticket prices of $200 to $300 or more can earn 50 times that amount.  You can also earn even more if you combine being a star with being a creator, director, and producer like Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created and starred in “Hamilton.”

The Logic Of Symbols: How Do Corporations Choose Logos To Shape Their Image?

Think about the iconic corporate logos that stand out as memorable, familiar and enduring. Whether it’s the McDonald’s arched M, the Nike swoosh or the Apple … apple, there are certain icons that have worked on multiple levels.

The art and science of corporate logo design incorporates multiple elements. Best-practice design techniques, color science and testing all factor in to the development of a strong and effective corporate logo.

These decisions are critically important. A study of corporate logo design published in Harvard Business Review showed that logo choices – descriptive or nondescriptive, simple or complex, symmetrical or asymmetrical – can greatly influence consumer behavior, funding decisions and brand performance and equity.

How do corporations develop their logos? Here’s a look at the steps that result in excellent, powerful and resonant corporate logos.

Conceptualization

The first step is to iterate what the desired outcome is for logo design. How will the logo be used? What will the logo say about your brand.

You want a logo that communicates what your brand is all about. The logo is a critical element of your broader brand strategy.

Research

Logo design is about far more than finding a cool graphic and adding some text. It also needs to be relevant to and representative of your brand. The team working on your logo should conduct research into the following:

  • Competition. This work will assess what competitors have for logos and are there common themes and approaches within your industry
  • Versatility. Logos need to work in multiple formats and channels. You want a logo that will work on your website, social media, signage, letterhead and business cards and advertising
  • History. Is there a historical significance to your company, location or name? If so, incorporating that heritage into a logo is an ideal opportunity
  • Resonance. The logo can look fantastic on your website, but does it resonate with your target audience? A good logo will form a connection with customers

Brainstorming and Designing

Logo design is a process that will have multiple waves of presentation, discussion and refinement.

Brainstorming meetings that allow designers and executives to share ideas, concepts and approaches can elicit powerful ideas that lead to great logos. This creative process may involve initial rounds with larger groups before shifting to a smaller group of decision-makers who evaluate different rounds of options.

Some designers choose to present initial concepts in black and white, leaving the decisions on color to later in the process. A minimal approach to colors is usually the right approach, choosing hues that may already be incorporated into your brand.

Other considerations in this phase will include:

  • Typography. What fonts and faces will be included, if any, in your logo
  • Longevity. Will the logo endure and not become dated
  • Shapes. The shapes you choose say a lot about the brand. Circular shapes are perceived as softer, friendlier and caring. Angular shapes evoke a more formal and firm position
  • Icons. Whether derived from your logo or paired with them, the icons you may choose to use as part of your brand need to be aligned with the logo

Finalization and Presentation

When the logos have been finalized, they will likely go through multiple layers of approval. Marketing teams, C-suite leaders and even boards may want to share their feedback on the logo. That’s why presentation is so critical. In this phase, designers will provide examples of how the logo will look on your web page, on social channels and in company marketing materials. These presentations will be accompanied by narratives about the process, the purpose of the logo and what it is intended to evoke in customers and other stakeholders.

Logos are an important part of a brand. Using a careful process can result in an end result that’s appealing, compelling and effective.

The 5 Best Restaurants In Beirut

Whether in the vibrant pubs, restaurants, bakeries and cafes in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood to the quiet, hidden-away spots serving authentic Lebanese fare, Beirut residents and visitors have lots to choose from.

While the hospitality industry has been hard hit by inflation and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are lots of great options when it comes to dining out.

Here’s a look at the 5 best restaurants for diners of all types in Beirut.

Em Sherif

With locations throughout the Mideast and, most recently, London, Em Sherif delivers authentic Lebanese fare. The Beirut location is nestled in the heart of Ashrafieh, Monot, and features first-class dining in a setting intended to evoke a luxurious Middle Eastern mansion.

Traditional taarab music, Ottoman mirrors and waterfalls add to the old-school ambiance. While there is a menu, the restaurant is renowned for its small plates, with a massive succession of 30 meze dishes. The cuisine features traditional fare, from tabbouleh to fattoush. The wine selection features native varietals and a wide variety of Italian and French offerings.

Chef Mireille Hayek, who has no formal training, oversees the Em Sherif restaurant group. She opened the first Beirut restaurant in 2011.  The restaurant features spaces for private events and a terrace for those wanting to partake in shisha.

Bedivire Eatery and Tavern

Located on Jean d’Arc Street in Beirut’s Hamra district, Bedivire Eatery and Tavern opened in August 2012 and features creative cocktails and delectable cuisine. It’s proven to be popular with locals and visitors alike.

The medieval motif delights patrons, who are likely to enjoy a host of drink options, known as “potions.” Samples include the “King Arthur (Irish whiskey, honey, lime and grapefruit) and the “Pendragon” (bourbon, Southern Comfort, apricot brandy, banana and strawberry).

The menu features traditional American and Italian fare, with a smattering of local cuisine. Entrees include burgers, pizzas, pasta dishes and sandwiches. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Babel Bay

Babel Bay’s location in Zeltounay Bay puts it in the middle of the popular destination replete with a marina, restaurants and shops. Opened in 2012, Babel Bay’s exquisite interior replicates the city’s shoreline and lays atop 7 sandstones, recognizing the city’s history.

The restaurant is known for being among the best for seafood in the city. The fresh fish display varies from day to day, featuring bass, mackerel, crab, shrimp and grouper among many others.

The hot mezza options include ample seafood choices, including octopus, shrimp and calamari prepared a la Provençale; and lobster, squid and seafood rolls. There’s also a broad selection of raw-fish dishes, included marinated salmon, mackerel and tuna and seasonal selections such as sea bream.

Mayrig

“Mayrig” means mother in Armenian and the Mayrig restaurant features Armenian recipes lovingly passed down from mother to daughter. Located in the city’s Gemayzeh quarter, Mayrig creates a homey feel, a place that is unrivaled for its Armenian hospitality, with servers and managers deeply attentive to their patrons.

The menu features items not seen at other restaurants in the city, with authentic Armenian dishes that include spinach, cheese or crispy beef dumplings, marinated veal or minced beef kebabs, and adventurous options like havgitov basterma, which features Armenian bread, thin cured beef and quail eggs.

Jai

Looking for Thai food in Beirut? Look no further than Jai. This spot gets rave reviews and features all the classic Thai cuisine. Rolls, dumplings and samosas can kickstart your dining experience.

There are curries galore, dhal makhana, pad thai and butter chicken as main dishes. You can also choose from banh mi, tandoori chicken or grilled coriander shrimp among the many sandwich options, or pho as one of several soups available.

Beirut has a vibrant culinary scene, giving you great options no matter what you’re craving.

How To Leverage AI In Your Side Hustle: A Beginner’s Guide

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way in the last few years. What was once a novelty is becoming an integral part of our daily lives. Do you own an Alexa device or use chat boxes to interact with your favorite online retailers? If so, you’re already using AI. AI can also be useful in making your side hustle, your way of earning a little extra income, a lot easier. Below are a few suggestions on how to harness this power to make your side business more lucrative and efficient.

Leveraging AI for your side hustle

Nearly 40 percent of Americans earn extra money on the side by doing things like selling things online, offering services, renting out their homes or cars and/or freelancing. Since the object of a side hustle is to make money, you don’t want to have to invest a lot of money in the project. That’s where AI technology can be invaluable in saving you from having to pay an employee or outside contractor to help you. Below are a few suggestions. All of the tools we suggest are affordable on a limited budget. Most also offer a free trial period.

1. Automate your marketing

One of the best things that AI can offer you for your small side gig sales efforts is to automate your marketing efforts. This allows you to do more with the limited time you have available to devote to your side business. For example, AI can write email marketing messages for you and even target and personalize them to appeal to different segments of your customers. Tools like MailChimp and Cortex can be very useful for those working side gigs.

2. Offer “big company” customer service

It’s not expensive to install a chatbot on your e-commerce website and offer your customers answers to all but the most complex questions 24/7. Affordable customer relationship management (CRM) software can provide this service as well as help you manage other customer inquiries. Good, affordable CRM tools for freelancers and those working side gigs include Monday.com and Hubspot

3. Give your customers a better way to view your products

Another big asset of AI for small entrepreneurs is the ability to offer 3D virtual views of your products, turning your 2D drawings into 3D models. Tools like 3DFY let your customers view your products from all angles and better visualize what the finished product will look like.  

4. Use AI as your personal assistant

If your side hustle involves appointments, let AI keep your calendar for you. You can use this technology to allow customers/clients to schedule time slots for things like piano lessons, massages, online tutoring or landscaping. AI tools, such as Vagaro, manage your calendar and handle things like reoccurring appointments and rescheduling. Most tools also send out confirmation reminders, which reduces your rate of “no-shows”.

5. Help you communicate better with clients and customers

One of the challenges to freelancing or offering services as a side gig is keeping in contact with your customers while you are working your primary job or working for other of your side gig customers. AI platforms like Slack offer an affordable way for you to consolidate all of your communication methods, such as text, instant messaging, email and others, on one dashboard, so you never lose a message. The free version of Slack permits you to integrate up to 10 applications.

You shouldn’t view AI as this mysterious concept that’s only applicable to computer geeks and scientists. Use AI to your advantage in your side business by using this technology to help you better connect with customers 24/7, showcase your products and improve your marketing.

Can Word Collect make you smarter?

Everyone wants to become more intelligent, but many intelligence-boosting methods are quite dull. Luckily, certain games make educational concepts more exciting. Word Collect, for example, is a free smartphone app that claims to train your brain. In this article, we’ll look at Word Collect and determine whether it can make you smarter.

What is Word Collect?

This free smartphone app gives you a series of letters and tasks you with using them to create words. It features over 1200 levels and awards you points each time you complete one. As you progress through the levels, they become more challenging. Still, most reviewers said they enjoyed the challenge.

Can Word Collect improve intelligence?

This game requires knowledge of the English language, but can it make you smarter? To better understand, we’ll look at proven brain-training concepts and determine whether Word Collect incorporates these methods.

Gamification

Gamification involves adding gaming elements to non-gaming tasks. This concept is widely used in the e-learning industry, as it’s seen as an effective way to enhance education. According to a study published in Smart Learning Environments, “[learners using gamification concepts] had a significant improvement in the quality of the submitted solutions.”

Word Collect gamifies traditional language exercises by incorporating points, levels, and rewards. This methodology can improve your overall engagement and retention. Still, it’s important to note your personality type may play a role in this method’s effectiveness. For example, gamification tends to improve introverts’ performance more than extroverts.

Problem-solving

Solving problems is generally good for healthy brains, whether you’re using letters to make words or doing math. According to Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D., neuropsychologist for Cleveland Clinic, “My idea about those types of word games is if you enjoy them and they’re giving you a challenge, so you can’t do it on autopilot, you really need to think about it, then it’s really serving you a good purpose in terms of supporting your brain health for life.”

The important thing is that the game continues to challenge you. Many say Word Collect gets pretty tricky as you advance through the levels, so it’s safe to say it fits the bill. Still, it’s worth mentioning there is competing evidence on whether word games can improve your intelligence.

Penny Pexman, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary tasked with studying Scrabble players’ brains, says, “Scrabble players recognize words faster, especially in vertical orientation, but we didn’t find that those advantages transferred to non-Scrabble-related tasks.”

What’s the verdict?

Word Collect is an exciting game that challenges players to create words from groupings of random letters. As the game progresses, it becomes more complex, ensuring you stay engaged. Many of the concepts utilized by Word Collect suggest the game could improve cognitive function, but there’s no conclusive evidence on whether this is true. Still, games like word collect are sure to stimulate your brain while you play them, so if you enjoy it, there’s nothing wrong with devoting time to it each day.

5 Underused Literary Devices To Improve Your Short Stories

Broadly defined literary devices are tools that writers use to express or evoke larger themes and guiding ideas in any work of fiction. They are often used as “shorthand” to make connections that might be painfully tedious or less powerful if they were fully spelled out in concrete language.

Although literary devices have been common throughout the ages in all forms of writing, their succinct and implied nature make them particularly useful in the composition of short stories and other creative works that have lower overall word counts.

With this in mind, read on to learn about five literary devices that can dramatically improve your short stories.

1. Metaphor

Metaphor occurs when to unlike things are presented as similar or the same. Although it abounds in all forms of literature, few people make proper, extensive use of metaphor in their writing. While it is relatively common for a writer to work a simple simile (such as Robert Burns’ “my Love is like a red, red, rose) into their work, an extended analogy (such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s wallpaper) is far less common. In her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” serves as an analogy for the oppressive social norms of the patriarchy. Although she never explicitly identifies it as such, Gilman’s descriptions of an imaginary women trapped beneath the yellow wallpaper communicates volumes about female repression in the short story.

2. Symbolism

Far wider in use and more culturally universal than a mere metaphor, a symbol is an object, image, or word that isn’t necessarily limited to a single implied meaning. A terrific example of symbolism in a short story can be found in the “Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. After killing unnamed old man and hiding his body under the floorboards of the house that they shared, the protagonist and narrator of this short story is driven insane by a distinct thumping sound in the house that they both had shared. In light of the complex associations that humankind has long drawn between the heart and notions of love, togetherness, and morality, this supposed heartbeat infuses this rather brief tale with an outsized amount of extremely poignant symbolism.

3. Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing (previewing or hinting at key literary themes or narrative plot points relatively early in a work of fiction) may take a long time to pay off in a longer creative form like a novel. However, this payoff can be just as satisfying within the relatively compressed duration of a short story. Because it has precious little time to place a firm grip on a reader’s attention, a short story can foreshadow a future event within the first few paragraphs to create a compelling hook for the narrative and build suspense throughout.

4. Irony

The ample use of narrative twists in short story writing, makes them fertile ground for the use of irony. In particular, short stories often contain situational irony, which subverts expected outcomes for maximum reader impact and enhanced contextual meaning. Take O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” for example. This widely read short story depicts a wife who cuts off her long hair and sells it to purchase a chain for her husband’s cherished watch. At the same time, her husband sells this watch to buy his wife a comb for her long hair.

5. Satire

Works of satire use humor or wit to ridicule influential and/or authoritative figures, institutions, and cultural ideas. Writers can use it to make powerful statements of inference that often stretch far beyond the limited lines of text in a short story. One of the most famous instances of satire in a short story is the central character of Mathilde in Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace.” Maupassant uses satire to point out the extremely destructive vanity of his protagonist as well as other members of the petty bourgeoisie.