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After years of experimenting, I've figured out exactly what opening and closing credit cards does to your credit

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 2:35pm

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • In 2011, author Eric Rosenberg discovered the world of travel hacking, and started opening credit cards to get sign-up or welcome bonuses in the form of points.
  • At first, he was a little wary of opening new cards, thinking they might hurt his credit — but they did just the opposite.
  • The trick to keeping his credit score high while opening and closing credit cards has been keeping careful track of his cards and making sure he never has unpaid balances.

I learned about the concept of travel hacking from Chris Guillebeau, author of "The Art of Non-Conformity" and many other great resources. This led me to one of his many projects, the Travel Hacking Cartel. I joined in June 2011 and stuck with it for a few months.

But what I learned there started me on a path to the dozen-plus credit cards club.

I would later learn that Chris is part of a wider community of “travel hackers” who look to credit card rewards and skillful bookings to get maximum travel on the minimum budget. That sounded like an incredible opportunity and something I definitely wanted to try.

Read More: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

I was a bit off-put, however, when I first learned that the best way to get lots of points quickly is new credit card sign-up bonuses. Wouldn’t getting new credit cards hurt my precious credit score? I learned along the way, yes and no. But in the long-run, opening all of these credit cards drove my score upward!

And along the way, I’ve earned countless rewards miles and points that have taken me and my family to places like England, France, Holland, Israel, Spain, Portugal, Canada, and all over the United States. While traveling with miles and points isn’t free, it lets you go nearly anywhere for pennies on the dollar with good planning.

A system helps me manage all of my cards responsibly

With a bit of hesitation, I signed up for my first card solely with a goal of earning miles. My 100,000-point British Airways Visa Signature Card signup bonus (offer no longer available) was all I needed to get hooked on the travel hacking hobby. That bonus covered a trip to London, Paris, and Amsterdam with plenty of miles, now called British Airways Avios, left over.

Eventually, I added the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, then another card, then another. All of a sudden, I was on my way to half a dozen cards. At this point, I realized I needed a system.

While there are many ways to do it, I keep all of my non-daily cards together in a safe place and monitor all of my balances, charges, and payments using a combination of tools. Free apps Mint and Clarity Money both work well for this purpose.

Read More: 7 reasons to open the Chase Sapphire Preferred — even though the card doesn't come with as many flashy perks as the Sapphire Reserve

As long as you pay off your cards in full each month before the due date, you’ll never pay any interest. I put a small subscription charge on a few old accounts each month with automatic payments so I don’t have to think about them. For cards I use just with specific airlines or hotels and daily use cards, I pay them manually but check the balances at least weekly in just a few seconds using the apps above.

If a card has an annual fee and I don’t see myself getting more value from the card than the cost, I try to downgrade it to a no-fee version. If that isn’t possible, I go ahead and close it. For cards with no annual fee or a good recurring value, I want to keep them open as long as possible.

I have to be careful how many cards I open, and when

When you apply for a new credit card, an inquiry shows up on your credit report that dings your score by a few points for up to two years. Opening a new credit account reduces the average age of your accounts, further bringing down your score. New credit, in the short-term, is bad for your credit score. There’s no question about it.

Further, if you plan to get a new mortgage or other important loan, lenders may look at a string of new credit accounts as risky behavior. Why would someone open a bunch of credit cards at once if they are not about to go into debt? While you know you plan to pay the cards off in full each month, the lenders can’t be certain about the risk.

Read More: The best way to build your credit is the same strategy people use to build wealth

But over time, adding new credit accounts improves your credit mix. More accounts with a perfect on-time payment history further increase your score. As the accounts age, so does your average age of credit, and if you keep your spending steady, your credit utilization rate decreases. In my experience, the temporary effects of opening new credit cards go away in around six months and turn into a positive. But that only works if you keep the balances near zero and always pay on time.

The biggest risk in opening and closing lots of credit cards is making a mistake. If you don’t keep close track of your accounts, it’s easy to make a late payment or overspend. Doing so can harm your credit score for years, so always be careful.

Read More: Here's exactly what it takes to have an excellent credit score

Also, keep in mind that credit card companies don’t really want you to open and close accounts quickly, so space things out and take it one step at a time.

For example, Chase is notorious among credit card travel hackers for its 5/24 rule. This rule states that, in most cases, you can’t open a new Chase credit card if you have opened five or more in the last 24 months with any card issuer. If you close an account too quickly, AmEx is known to claw back bonus rewards. But if you play by the rules, you should be in good shape.

I'm always looking at the long-term costs

The real reason I have so many credit cards is to travel as much as possible for the lowest possible cost. But if the cost of having those credit cards becomes more than my travel savings, it isn’t worth it. That’s why I am always looking at my balances and planning for my next moves.

Read More: This is the only rewards credit card most people will ever need to open

In the worst case, a serious misstep could damage your credit score and prevent you from buying a home with a mortgage. It could also lead to higher interest rates, which could cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a home loan. Your credit is serious business, so you shouldn’t ever forget about its long-term consequences.

The best thing you can do for your credit in most cases is keep your balances low and avoid tinkering. But if fear of damage to your credit is all that’s holding you back from an excellent new card, you may be unnecessarily falling victim to a credit score myth.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Learn more about the British Airways Visa Signature Card from Business Insider's partner The Points Guy » Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card from Business Insider's partner The Points Guy »

Join the conversation about this story »

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Here are the mega IPOs so far in 2019

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 2:25pm

  • Initial public offerings have rebounded in early 2019 after a slow end to last year.
  • Levi Strauss, Lyft, and Tradeweb have already gone public while Uber and Pinterest are exploring IPOs.
  • Trading among the companies was mixed with Levi and Tradeweb up sharply with Lyft struggling to rise above IPO price.

Tradeweb last week was the third mega initial public offering in the US this year, raising nearly $1.1 billion. Of the three, Tradeweb and Lyft each raised more than $1 billion through the sale of stock while Levi raised over $600 million.

This year looks to be a banner one for the listing of so-called unicorns, or private tech companies with valuations over $1 billion. Pinterest began its IPO road show on Monday with a planned valuation of up to $11.3 billion —notably below the last private valuation ($12.3 billion) of the company. This could be due to wariness of "unicorn" valuations following the choppy trading of Lyft, which is currently below its IPO price.

In what is expected to be the largest IPO of 2019, Uber is expected to hit the public markets later this month with a valuation of over $100 billion.

Check out the details of three big US IPOs this year: 

Levi Strauss

Ticker: LEVI

Description: Iconic maker of denim jeans.

IPO Price: $17

Opening trade: $22.22

Opening premium to IPO price: 31% premium

Performance since IPO price: 25% increase

Valuation at IPO: $6.6 billion 

Amount raised in IPO: $623 million

 



Lyft

Ticker: LYFT

Description: Ride-sharing company.

IPO Price: $72

Opening trade: $87.24

Opening premium to IPO price: 21% premium

Performance since IPO price: 1% decrease

Amount raised in IPO: $2.7 billion

Valuation at IPO: $23.4 billion

 

 

[chart]



Tradeweb

Ticker: TW

Description: Electronic trading platform for bonds.

IPO Price: $27

Opening trade: $36.24

Opening premium to IPO price: 27% increase

Performance since IPO price: 42%

Valuation at IPO: $6.0 billion

Amount raised in IPO: $1.1 billion



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

United has followed in Delta's footsteps with a big change to its frequent-flyer program, and passengers are furious

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 2:23pm

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • United Airlines is making major changes to its MileagePlus frequent-flyer program.
  • The airline will no longer publish an award chart outlining flight prices. Instead, award flights will be priced dynamically. The change takes effect immediately for new reservations made for travel on or after November 15.
  • Passenger reactions have been largely negative, and mileage prices on both economy and business-class international flights have begun to increase.
  • However, travelers with the most flexibility may ultimately come out ahead if they can choose less in-demand flights.

On Friday, United announced a major change to its MileagePlus frequent-flyer program. Following in the footsteps of Delta Air Lines, United is removing its mileage award chart and switching to dynamic pricing for mileage awards.

The move means that American Airlines remains the only legacy US airline to offer a tiered fixed-price frequent-flyer system.

In effect, the move to dynamic pricing means that beginning just before the holiday travel rush, United frequent flyers will no longer be able to predict how many miles they'll need to book a particular trip — and they'll likely need more miles for those tickets.

Read more: United's credit card is offering a huge sign-up bonus, but it's only around for a limited time

What are award charts?

Traditionally, airline frequent-flyer programs make seats available to book with miles at two different prices: "Saver" — a lower baseline price — and "Standard," "Anytime," or "Everyday," a more expensive but more widely available price. Regardless of how the cash price fluctuates, the mileage price floats between Saver and Standard, depending on when the airline chooses to release availability.

Travelers trying to get an award ticket for the best price will typically monitor for Saver availability, waiting to book until the price becomes lower on those dates. Alternatively, if that person has flexibility in their schedule, they'll plan a vacation around when they can find flights at the Saver cost.

This can lead to some solid deals, such as flying business class to Europe for just 57,500 miles.

Without an award chart, mileage pricing becomes harder to understand

Without an award chart, mileage pricing — both the minimum price and the maximum — becomes dynamic and opaque, similar to cash prices.

It also tends to change more often, trending both up and down based on demand. While this sometimes leads to lower prices on flights that are not heavily in demand, it often leads to higher prices for premium-cabin tickets.

Read more: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

That's exactly what United said would happen as a result of this change. On a web page that United posted outlining the new system, the airline suggested that the new changes would be positive for travelers.

"Increasing award prices for the most in-demand flights allows us to offer lower prices on other flights. If your award travel is flexible, these updates will help you make the most of your miles," United wrote.

Delta removed its award chart and switched to a dynamic-pricing model several years ago, although flights seem to stick to a few different pricing tiers, and by searching over a few months, it's often possible to figure out the lowest "Saver" rate for flights. Unfortunately, Delta frequently raises that minimum price for award flights — the latest devaluation involved flights between the US and Europe in business class. 

United, by removing its award charts, seems to be on track to follow Delta's model

The new dynamic-pricing model takes effect immediately for new bookings for flights on or after November 15. New reservations made for travel before then will stick to the award chart.

Passenger reactions are overall skeptical of the idea that there will be any improvement for passengers.

The Twitter user @Rbakken described the move as a "disservice to loyal flyers and an affront to transparency." The user @trdraaron described the award chart's removal as causing a "likely possible devaluation in United miles."

Disappointed to see @united taking a major step backward by eliminating their award chart. A disservice to loyal flyers and an affront to transparency https://t.co/s9lKRBT3Pw #travel

— Rich Bakken (@Rbakken) April 5, 2019

 

Hey Frequent flyeres... @united is about to devalue your miles and remove transparency from its Mileage Plus redemption process...disappointing to say the least. @ZachHonig from @thepointsguy has more below. https://t.co/QMJAn3E0O8

— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) April 5, 2019

 

Ever since the announcement of dynamic pricing they've been trying to highlight these great things about the MP program. It's ridiculous! Who cares about 5k mile awards on super cheap tickets anyway!!!! MAJOR #fail and the qorse is yet to come.

— Ricardo Rivera (@Ricardo_FFlyer) April 7, 2019

 

very disappointed in you guys deciding to ditch the award chart. Will definitely be taking my business elsewhere

— Johnson Wu (@atojbk) April 5, 2019

 

@united Sad to see the award charts get hidden. My exodus from @United nearly complete. This will finish it. 1K for many years to 3k miles a year now . Next year maybe less. See ya!

— robert burns (@rjburnsva) April 8, 2019

 

@united We’re not idiots.These 5k fares are a great way to ease the pain of the elimination of your award chart. Right up until the time you start w/ the 500k one way redemptions like your friends at Delta. No reason to remain loyal to UA like I have for the past decade I guess.

— Lil' Suzy Greenberg (@suzy_greenberg) April 6, 2019

 

In other words, @united is raising mileage awards on 75% of its routes & removing mileage charts. This is just low hanging bait. Smoke & mirrors. Again, copying @delta for the umpteenth time. https://t.co/RrGlFfiiWe

— Cale Ramaker (@CaleRamaker) April 5, 2019

 

@united Disappointed to once again seeing UA blindly follow Delta into the Land of Screwing Frequent Flyers. Award charts help customers save for flights and keep the airline honest about devaluations. Stop pretending this is a feature.

— Doug Hess (@kdhess) April 5, 2019

 

This doesn't seem helpful, United:

For flights on or after November 15, 2019, we'll no longer publish an award chart listing the set amount of miles needed for each flight.

— Dan Berman (@DHBerman) April 5, 2019

 

Standard 'Everyday' prices are already going up

When searching for flights after the November 15 cutoff date, price increases were immediately evident.

For example, before the cutoff, flights from the Northeast to New Delhi in business class cost between 85,000 miles at the Saver rate and 180,000 miles at the Standard rate. While the lowest available cost on partner airlines remains 85,000 miles, Standard flights on United's own planes have gone up to 225,000 miles.

In other words, @united is raising mileage awards on 75% of its routes & removing mileage charts. This is just low hanging bait. Smoke & mirrors. Again, copying @delta for the umpteenth time. https://t.co/RrGlFfiiWe

— Cale Ramaker (@CaleRamaker) April 5, 2019

Similarly, Standard prices on business-class flights between certain cities, such as San Francisco and Hong Kong, have gone up from 180,000 miles to 210,000 miles, while increases on Standard flights for both economy and business class have gone up on flights between other regions.

What about Saver awards?

So far, there hasn't been a significant change to Saver-award pricing, although it's unclear if things will stay that way, or if Saver space will continue to be made available. 

Read more: 8 of the best credit card offers this month — including a Marriott bonus that's ending soon

In fact, there are a few areas where prices have decreased, although this seems to be primarily on short-haul domestic-economy routes. For example, flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which previously bottomed out at 10,000 miles, now cost as few as 5,000 miles.

However, if Delta's price increases and devaluations are any indication, the lack of a published award chart could allow United to raise baseline Saver prices at any point and frequency.

Undoubtedly, there's still significant value to be found in United miles, especially if you find Saver space or book with a partner. Another opportunity for value is when it's possible to earn increased credit-card bonuses. For example, United's co-branded credit card issued by Chase — the United Explorer Card has a limited-time offer of up to 60,000 miles — earns 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months and another 20,000 miles when you spend a total of $8,000 within the first six months.

Under the tiered system, in which more Saver seats could be found on less in-demand flights, travelers with more flexibility tended to snag the better deals. Under the new dynamic system, which United said would be based on demand, this will likely become even more true.

In an email to Business Insider, a United spokesperson suggested that to be the case: "Customers who can be flexible with their travel day and/or time will benefit significantly from this move to lower prices."

However, the spokesperson added: "For the busiest travel times of the year when demand is highest, there may be higher award prices than what people see today."

However, there was a bit of good news for United flyers, too. Beginning on November 15, United will no longer charge a $75 fee on award tickets booked within 21 days of travel. If a passenger can find a decent miles price on a last-minute trip, this should help with the redemption.

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

Join the conversation about this story »

Pinterest is planning to set the range for its IPO at a price tag of $11.3 billion — below its latest private valuation

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 2:07pm

  • Pinterest is planning to set the range for its initial public offering at between $15 and $17 a share, giving it a valuation of $11.3 billion at the upper end of the range.
  • The social-media company was valued at $12.3 billion in its most recent round of private funding.
  • Shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker PINS.

Pinterest is planning to set the range of its initial public offering at a value below that of its latest round of private fundraising.

The social-media company said Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is planning to sell 75 million shares at a price between $15 and $17 apiece, giving it a maximum valuation of about $11.3 billion. Pinterest was most recently valued at $12.3 billion, following a 2017 fundraising round.

Pinterest will have both class A and class B shares. Class A shares will give shareholders one vote each, while class B shares will be worth 20 votes each. All shares issued before the initial public offering will be made class B immediately before the completion of the IPO, Monday's filing said.

Shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker PINS.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Allen & Company were listed as the lead underwriters.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Southwest Airlines hit with its first Wall Street downgrade since Boeing's 737 Max crisis began (LUV)

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 2:00pm

The fallout from Boeing's largest crisis in years is continuing.

As airlines gear up for what could be a turbulent earnings season, Southwest Airlines, a major US operator of the now-grounded 737 max planes, was hit with a stock downgrade by analysts at Raymond James.

The Wall Street firm slashed its rating for shares of the low cost carrier to market perform from outperform on Monday, saying that the grounding of 737 Max planes could make it harder for Southwest to retire its fleet of 737-700s as planned. It kept its price target at $60, above the $51.90 level where it was trading Monday

"Southwest’s current fleet plan calls for the retirement of 20 B 737-700s, which could be delayed to make up for the shortfall and there are somewhat higher cost options such as purchasing or leasing used B 737s to help maintain schedules," Savanthi Syth, the firm's airlines analyst, said in a note to clients.

Luckily, despite being one of the biggest US operators of the 737 Max, the model makes up relatively few of Southwest's revenue seat miles, a closely watched metric for airline investors, Syth says. Still, this quarter's earnings are likely to take a hit due to the grounding, as Southwest has already warned investors.

Therefore, "we are downgrading LUV from Outperform to Market Perform due to near term earnings risk related to the grounding of the MAX fleet, which we now believe may run into the summer months."

American, for its part, also believes the grounding may last that long, and canceled flights on the affected plane through at least June 5 on Monday.

There are longer-term issues, too

In March, Southwest made headlines as its spat with its mechanics union resulted in canceled flights across the country. The airline alleged the union was deliberately slowing down work to force the cancellations, while the union hit back accusing the carrier of scapegoating. A final vote is pending on a new agreement, which should be finalized within two months.

But despite its pre-earnings forecast revision and the union spat, Wall Street remains fairly bullish on Southwest's outlook going forward.

Of the 23 analysts polled by Bloomberg, 12 remain buy-rated on the stock, with 10 recommending hold, and two advising clients to sell. Raymond James, whose unchanged $60 price target is still well above the Wall Street average of $51, is the first notable downgrade following the 737 Max's grounding.

Shares of Southwest fell another 2.6% in trading Monday following the downgrade. As the industry prepares to kick off airline earnings on Wednesday with Delta, Raymond James suggests that American and United might be smarter plays for investors looking for less 737 Max risk.

"The grounding of the MAX fleet is likely to lower domestic capacity by ~1-1.5 ppts during the period in question, which could bode well for domestic industry fares primarily in the off-peak periods where there appears to be an oversupply," Syth said. "Additionally, given the relatively low exposure to the MAX at American and United, we believe there is less (but not zero) downside earnings risk."

More on Boeing's 737 Max crisis: 

SEE ALSO: Passengers on Southwest Airlines thought they were flying on a Boeing 737 Max after confusion about their onboard safety cards

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Power moves of the week: The Wing is hiring from Snap and Airbnb and Blue Apron is getting a new CEO

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 1:58pm

  • Keeping an eye on major hires and promotions is one of the best ways to understand a company's strategy. 
  • The Org tracks executive changes at companies big and small. 
  • Here's a snapshot of the most important executive moves of the week across real estate, tech and consulting. 

Every week we bring you an overview of the most important executive changes from the past week. This week, The Wing hired three new executives from buzzy tech companies. Read more about this and other notable executive changes.

The Wing hires three new executives from Snap, Airbnb, and Casper

Four months after closing a $75 million Series C round, female co-working space The Wing has brought on three new executives from SnapAirbnb, and Casper. The funding and new hires will "assist The Wing in bringing its physical community of career-oriented women into the digital realm." The company has hired Rachel Racusen as VP Communications who was previously Director of Communications as Snap. Nickey Skarsted joins as VP of Product after a few years as Product Lead of Airbnb experiences. Finally, Saumya Manohar joins as general counsel from Casper where she served as VP of Legal.

Linda Findley Kozlowski leaves Etsy to join Blue Apron as CEO

Blue Apron has announced that Linda Findley Kozlowski is joining the company as President and CEO. She'll replace chief executive Brad Dickerson. Kozlowski was previously Chief Operating Officer at Etsy with responsibility for product, marketing and customer engagement and acquisition. The meal-kit maker has had a difficult time as a publicly traded company since its June 2017 initial public offering.

Bain & Company names new Chief Marketing Officer

Bain & Company announced that Erika Serow has been appointed Chief Marketing Officer for the firm, effective immediately. She was most recently president and US CEO of Sweaty Betty, a British retailer specializing in women's active wear, overseeing all aspects of the company's growing business in the Unites States. Serow previously served as Head of the Americas Retail practice at Bain & Company, where she was also a partner and director.

Tinder hires Chief Product Officer from Facebook

Ravi Mehta has joined Tinder as Chief Product Officer, a position vacated by Brian Norgaard who left the company in November 2018. Mehta has more than 20 years of experience building products and was most recently Product Director for Youth Engagement at Facebook. Tinder's parent company, Match Group, recently acquired Hinge which is a dating app that targets a more mature audience. This frees up Tinder to focus on a younger demographic where Mehta will play an important role.

Intel appoints George Davis as Chief Financial Officer

Intel has announced the appointment of George S. Davis as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Davis takes over from Robert (Bob) Swan who was appointed permanent CEO after acting as Interim CEO for seven months following the departure of Brian Krzanich. Krzanich resigned because of a violation of Intel’s non-fraternization policy, which forbids managers from dating employees. Davis, 61, joins Intel from Qualcomm, where he served as executive vice president and CFO since March 2013.

Christian Wylonis is the co-founder and CEO of The Org, where you can meet the people behind the world’s most innovative companies, explore organizational charts, stay updated on team changes, and join your own company. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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6 reasons this is the perfect thank-you email to send after a job interview

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 1:37pm

You spend weeks preparing for a job interview and give 110% once you're in the hot seat. You walk out feeling confident and relieved — like your work is finally done.

But it isn't.

In fact, there's still one more crucial step to take if you really want to land the gig: sending the interview thank-you email. Some hiring managers, like Insider Inc. managing editor Jess Liebman, will not even consider candidates who haven't taken the extra effort to thank them for their time.

Read more: I've been hiring people for 10 years, and I still swear by a simple rule: If someone doesn't send a thank-you email, don't hire them.

"The best time-frame to send a thank you email is within 24 hours after your interview," says Whitney Purcell, associate director of Career Development at Susquehanna University. "It should be sent during business hours — no 3 a.m. emails that make your schedule seem a little out of whack with the company’s traditional hours."

While the interview thank-you email doesn't require too much heavy lifting, a simple, "Thanks for your time!" won't do. You need to really "wow" the hiring manager and make a great final impression before they make a decision about you.

Your follow-up thank-you email (hand-written notes are almost never a better option than email) needs to stand out from the crowd. It should highlight the best parts of the conversation you had with the interviewer, and a final reminder as to why you'd be perfect for the job.

Dr. Deborah Good, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business, says the following email template is an ideal way to follow up because it possesses six important traits:

This is an update of an article originally written by Hope Restle.

SEE ALSO: 34 brilliant questions to ask at the end of every job interview

DON'T MISS: This LinkedIn message took 2 minutes to write and got the sender a job at a successful startup — even though they weren't hiring

Join the conversation about this story »

What it's like living as a millionaire in Montenegro, the tiny European country called 'the next French Riviera,' where wealthy foreign buyers snap up luxury real estate and dock their yachts in glitzy marinas

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 1:13pm

Montenegro, a Balkan country on the Adriatic Sea, may be an unlikely luxury destination but its picturesque coastline, luxury hotels, and popularity among yacht owners have made people take notice of what's been called "the next French Riviera."

The tiny European country, which is about the size of Connecticut, is home to about 64 millionaires. And a new program is aiming to lure in even more millionaires by letting them invest at least $291,000 in the country in order to get a Montenegro passport.

Montenegro, which recently built two massive yacht ports that include luxury residences, hotels, and shopping, has also been compared to Monaco.

The Balkan country was named one of the top destinations billionaires are traveling to in 2019 in a recent report by Business Insider and luxury travel agency Original Travel.

Millionaires in Montenegro can get free 24-hour servicing for the yachts, stay in luxurious hotels like the Regent Porto Montenegro and the island-resort of Sveti Stefan, and reap the benefits of exclusive Owners Clubs and Yacht Clubs.

Here's what it's like living in Montenegro as a millionaire.

SEE ALSO: What it's like living as a billionaire in Singapore, the most expensive city in the world, where wealthy residents are worth a combined $1 trillion and limited land makes owning a house the ultimate 'status symbol'

DON'T MISS: What it's like to vacation in the exclusive community on the French Riviera nicknamed the 'Peninsula of Billionaires,' where royalty and tech tycoons live in opulent villas

Montenegro, a Balkan country in southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea, may not be top of mind for a luxury destination. But the tiny country is one of the top destinations billionaires are traveling to in 2019, according to a recent report by Business Insider and the luxury travel agency Original Travel.

"Montenegro is set for a luxury upgrade in 2019 with the Chedi Lustica Bay newly opened and One & Only opening its first resort in Europe next year with Portonovi in Boka Bay," Tom Barber, cofounder of Original Travel, said of Montenegro, which has a population of 620,000.



As a yachting hotspot with striking scenery, Montenegro is emerging as a luxury destination, with some calling it "the next French Riviera."

"In fact, it's not just the unspoiled terrain, ample sunlight, and hospitable locals that have made Montenegro an exciting travel destination but also a bevy of newly renovated and built luxury hotels and restaurants, which have caused some to call Montenegro the next French Riviera," Nick Mafi wrote in Architectural Digest in 2018.



The tiny country, which is about the size of Connecticut, is bordered by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and the Adriatic Sea.

It has about 182 miles of coastline on the Adriatic Sea.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Trump promised tariff relief to America's farmers, but the shutdown left tens of thousands in the cold

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 3:39pm

  • More than 37,200 American farmers applied for tariff aid during the government shutdown, according to data obtained by Business Insider through a public-records request.
  • None of those were approved while local branches of the Department of Agriculture were closed.
  • That kept some farmers waiting weeks for support payments.

As President Donald Trump sparred with lawmakers over border security in December and January, tens of thousands of American farmers were forced to wait weeks longer than usual for tariff aid and had no confirmation of whether they would receive it at all.

Farmers this winter signed up in droves for support payments the Trump administration promised last year to help offset losses from the president's trade policies. But access to the $12 billion bailout program was severely limited during the recent partial government shutdown, which was the longest in history.

At least 37,213 applications for the Market Facilitation Program piled up after the Department of Agriculture was shuttered along with eight other Cabinet-level agencies in December, according to data obtained by Business Insider through a public-records request. The latest available data runs from December 22 to January 16, so it does not include the last week and a half of the five-week shutdown.

None of those applications were approved until after local Farm Service Agency offices, which process and distribute support payments, began to reopen the following month.

While those who were already enrolled in the Market Facilitation Program could receive checks during the shutdown, a late harvest left many farmers unable to apply until the end of the year.

Dave Walton was one of them, turning in his paperwork in late December. The soybean and corn grower from Iowa had expected to receive a check within about a week, the typical turnaround time for applications there, but instead ended up waiting a month and a half because of the closings.

"It was money we were counting on," Walton said. "When that didn't happen, it had an effect on not only the holiday time, but we had some crop inputs that we would have liked to prepay during that period."

About 4,000 Iowans had to wait extra time for tariff aid, according to the data from the first month of the shutdown, second only to 5,000 in Illinois.

Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas each saw more than 2,000 Market Facilitation Program applications pile up.

A series of other crucial USDA programs were also hindered during the shutdown, adding to administrative burdens at a time when farmers were already reeling from low commodity prices and harsh weather.

Even before the disruption, the Market Facilitation Program had some local Farm Service Agency offices swamped. An average of nearly 21,000 applications have been submitted across the country each week since it began, according to USDA Farm Programs.

"We also have to remember that counties get slammed with workloads," said Brad Murray, a program director at the Iowa Farm Service Agency. "It's not that they just have 10 of these things to approve a day. They may have 500 come in a three-day period, and those just don't get processed as quickly."

It took one county office in southwestern Ohio at least a month after reopening to get caught up on Market Facilitation Program applications, according to an official there who spoke on the condition of anonymity because FSA service-center employees were not authorized to discuss the matter.

"We had people knocking our door down when we got back," the official said. "It was just a really crazy time."

Behind on countless administrative duties, including the review of nearly 100 applications, the county staffers played a guilty game of catch-up when they returned. More than 2,100 applications had stacked up across Ohio, where soybeans and corn are major crops.

"Most everybody that we talked to we were concerned about, you know? Farmers need that money," the employee said. "I just felt kind of overwhelmed when we got back because I wanted to get those people paid quickly since I knew they'd been waiting for so long."

With Washington mired in gridlock for 35 days, the USDA sought to soften the blow dealt to farmers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue extended the deadline to sign up for tariff aid in January and sent some staff back to perform limited duties at numerous offices.

The government also paid interest to farmers whose Market Facilitation Program applications were delayed for more than 30 days, according to officials at the local FSA offices. The White House referred comment requests to the USDA, which did not respond to multiple calls and emails.

Pain from trade tensions has grown increasingly evident across the Farm Belt, testing the loyalty of a key constituency for Trump as he campaigns for reelection in 2020. American agricultural exports are expected to fall by nearly $2 billion in 2019, largely because of trade tensions.

"The combination of needing relief from tariffs and then having that relief delayed because of other policy decisions made by the administration could very well have a potent interaction effect," said Gregory Wawro, a political scientist at Columbia University. "But if those who are hurt by the tariffs eventually get their relief, they may not hold the delay against Trump in the longer run."

SEE ALSO: Trump is reportedly set to name former GOP presidential candidate and pizza-chain CEO Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board

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Top tech companies like Netflix and LinkedIn say they have no problem with employees interviewing for other jobs — in fact, they might want to help

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 1:29pm

  • The best management strategy is encouraging employees to be open about next steps in their career, according to top tech companies like Netflix and LinkedIn.
  • Executives at these companies have said publicly that they have no problem with employees interviewing for other jobs — in fact, they sometimes want to help them with the process.
  • Some research suggests that employee departures can bolster the company's and the manager's image, if the employees leave for high-status competitors.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Interviewing for a job while you have another job can be tricky — often you end up lying to your current employer about why you're late to work or stuffing a suit jacket under your desk so no one asks why you look so spiffy today.

And yet if you ask executives at some top tech companies, they'll tell you this whole process is ridiculous.

A growing number of tech companies say they want to know when their employees are looking at other jobs. And instead of considering the employees traitorous, they'll sometimes go out of their way to help the employees land those other roles.

Consider Netflix, famous for its culture of "freedom and responsibility." Its website reads: "Knowing that other companies would quickly hire you if you left Netflix is comforting. We see occasional outside interviewing as healthy, and encourage employees to talk with their managers about what they learn in the process."

Patty McCord, Netflix's former chief talent officer, previously told Business Insider that this openness has a number of potential benefits. For example, McCord said, interviewing can help you clarify your professional goals because you may be more honest with the hiring manager than you are with your boss. On the other hand, it can make you appreciate your current company more.

Read more: Netflix encourages employees to interview at other companies — here's why

Ryan Bonnici, chief marketing officer of G2 Crowd, a platform for sharing business-software reviews, writes in the Harvard Business Review that he encourages his best employees to consider outside job offers.

According to Bonnici, this practice helps him attract and even retain top performers. One reason why, he writes, is that when great employees leave on good terms, "out in the world, they'll be in a powerful position to speak honestly about their experiences. If they leave our company feeling good about us, they'll speak positively about the brand." Some employees may even be inclined to return to G2 Crowd later on.

Bonnici cites the inspiration of Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn, who writes in HBR that talking about an employee's outside job offers fosters trust and honesty in the workplace.

Robert Glazer, CEO of performance-marketing agency Acceleration Partners, runs a Mindful Transition program, in which employees are encouraged to openly discuss their long-term career goals — even if those goals involve leaving their current team or the company. In HBR, Glazer writes that the program has improved engagement, retention, and company culture.

Jellyvision, which makes interactive benefits-communication software, has a "graceful leaving policy" to help both the company and its employees. As Erica Keswin details in her book "Bring Your Human to Work," Jellyvision asks employees to notify the company when they start looking for a new job — and in return, the company helps the employee in their job search.

Mary Beth Wynn, Jellyvision's senior vice president of people, echoed Bonnici's sentiments in an interview with Lauren Dixon at Talent Economy: "Maybe people shouldn’t be so worried about people leaving. If you become known as a company from which people go on to do other great things, that in and of itself can be great for your culture."

Facebook, meanwhile, makes sure that all employees have succession plans, Business Insider's Richard Feloni reported. That way, the company isn't slowed down if people change roles or leave the company.

Some research suggests that employee departures can benefit the company

Some management research lends credence to the idea that you should help your employees build fulfilling careers — even if it's not at your company.

In his book "Superbosses," Dartmouth business professor Sydney Finkelstein writes that the best managers don't try to hold onto employees forever. Finkelstein argues the way "superbosses" become successful themselves is by creating industry-wide networks of people who have worked for them so that they're always well-connected.

And a 2017 study, published in the Strategic Management Journal and cited in The Wall Street Journal, found that when lawyers leave their firms for promotions at high-status competitors, their former firms are subsequently perceived as more prestigious.

To be sure, the willingness to help employees move on may go hand-in-hand with other, less savory aspects of workplace culture. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about Netflix, suggesting that many employees are in constant fear of losing their jobs. (Indeed, McCord previously told Business Insider that, if you're no longer meeting the company's needs, you may very well be ousted.)

As for Bonnici, he says he's committed to G2 Crowd employees' development above all — even his own. He writes in HBR, "I've not only encouraged my employees to look elsewhere but also told them that I keep an eye out for potential new jobs for myself as well."

SEE ALSO: A former GE exec who trained new managers found that almost all of them were making the same mistake

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A temporary side job I took for $15 at a time led me to a fulfilling career I never expected

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 11:59am

  • After graduating from business school, Anna Baluch took a temporary side job writing for $15 per article because it was the first job she could get.
  • When she was later hired full-time for another role, she kept freelancing to make a little extra money.
  • She started to build up her side work as a writer to the point that she was essentially holding two full-time jobs, and chose to quit her day job to write full-time, a career she loves but didn't always plan to have.

A few months before I graduated with my MBA, I was searching for my first “real” job. I was living in Chicago at the time and open to moving just about anywhere for the right position.

After sitting in a Starbucks for days and applying to hundreds of jobs, I finally got one response.

The response was from a digital marketing agency in Chicago that specialized in helping car dealerships build their online presence. Since they didn’t have any openings for a full-time job, they asked me if I wanted to write automotive content for them on a freelance basis.

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At first, I was a bit frustrated. I spent so much time applying to jobs and the first bite I received wasn’t even for a full-time gig. After doing some more research on the company, I decided that I’d give this freelance thing a shot while I continued my search for a full-time job. I liked cars and writing, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

A few days after I accepted the freelance gig at the automotive marketing agency, they sent me my first assignment. It was a 350-word article on the 2013 lineup of Mercedes-Benz SUVs. The pay was only $15 but at the time I didn’t think that was bad because I finished it in less than an hour while sitting on my couch in my pajamas.

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I continued to write these automotive articles for $15 a pop until I landed my first full-time job as a link builder at a large marketing company in Charlotte, North Carolina. After a few months at my full-time job in Charlotte, I decided that I’d love some extra money and began writing the automotive articles again. It was a nice little side gig that allowed me to pay for a few luxuries that my meager entry-level salary simply didn’t allow for.

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Eventually, I moved back home to Cleveland and found a new full-time job at an insurance company. I continued to freelance write on the side but wanted to diversify my portfolio so I began to search for new clients. After landing three new clients, I was able to significantly increase my writing income and write about more than just cars. I was writing about dental procedures, home improvement projects, moving solutions, and a plethora of other random topics.

I loved making extra money on the side in the comfort of my own home and continued to do so for the next four years. I was landing new clients on a regular basis and eventually got to the point where I was earning more from freelancing than I was working full-time for someone else.

Read More: How to generate 20 potential business ideas in 10 minutes

Since I was writing before work, after work, and on the weekends, I started to get very overwhelmed. I basically had two full-time jobs and my husband convinced me that I had to pick one. After about eight months of a full-time job and writing like crazy on the side, I quit my full time job and became a full-time freelancer.

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October 1, 2018 was my last day working a full-time job and I can honestly say that quitting was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to significantly scale my writing income and enjoy a higher quality of life. I am now in control of my own schedule and income and love working from home. While I don’t get a steady paycheck, health insurance, a 401(k) match, or paid time off, the pros of self-employment outweigh the cons for me.

If someone would have told me that the $15 automotive articles I was writing back in 2013 would put me on the path toward becoming self-employed, I would have laughed and called them crazy. I am forever grateful that the automotive marketing agency got back to me and introduced me to the world of freelance writing because my life has been changed for the better.

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I own a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom house in Denver. Here's exactly what it costs every month

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 11:30am

  • In 2015, Cheryl Lock and her husband started looking to buy a house in Denver, Colorado, for their growing family.
  • The cost of living in Denver is high, and in 2016, they bought a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house in a suburb.
  • Their house costs them about $2,254 to $2,374 a month, plus irregular expenses like pest control, landscaping needs and general maintenance and repairs.

As someone who has spent the majority of her adult life living in cities — first Manhattan, then Denver — I never really thought much about owning a home.

Then, I got pregnant.

Suddenly the funky apartment that my husband and I shared in the trendy LoDo neighborhood of Denver with the rooftop hot tub and fire pit overlooking the basement stadium seemed very … small.

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And so began our search for a home to call our own. We started looking in October of 2015 and finally found our dream spot in a Denver suburb in April of 2016, just three short months before my due date. In case you haven’t heard, Denver real estate has really exploded over the past few years, and so 11 offers, one suck-up letter to the owners and $28,500 above asking price later, we had our house.

Two factors in particular worked in our favor when it came to buying our home:

  1. The fact that we had lived in cities before and were used to paying astronomical rents meant that our mortgage definitely never gave us sticker shock.
  2. The fact that we waited until we were somewhat older and a bit more established in our careers meant we had some savings to fall back on, and we were able to put down a full 20% for our down payment.

How much could your house cost? Get an idea with this calculator from our partners:

 

Our three bed/three bath slice of heaven came with approximately 1,900 sq. feet of living space. This was unimaginably large in our city dwelling brains at the time, but has since become an absolute necessity since the birth of our first and then second daughters.

In the three years since we’ve lived here we’ve finished the basement and added a bathroom, updated the outdoor deck and thrown on a pergola, plus we’ve made countless other tiny changes throughout to put our own stamp on our humble abode.

We love raising our daughters here — taking them to the lake that’s two streets away, playing on the swings at the park that’s a five-minute walk or hitting any of the dozens of nearby trails. The fact that we only live 15 minutes from downtown Denver also helps when we get a little stir crazy being out in the suburbs.

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Since we were able to put down a nice sum for the down payment and we lucked out and got a good deal on an interest rate for our mortgage loan, we’re lucky that our monthly payments aren’t too insane.

Still, every little bit adds up, and since we both live far from our families, we frequently have visitors who stay anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks or more. My husband is Australian, so his family travels far for those visits and likes to make the most of them! The basement that we finished off has more than paid for itself as a home-away-from home for anyone who comes to stay.

Here’s what our average housing expenses look like on any given month:

  • Mortgage: $1,835.54 (30-year fixed, with an interest rate of 3.875%)
  • Energy: Anywhere from $100 on up to $200+, depending on the month and number of guests we’ve had
  • Water: Approx $80 to $200 paid every other month, again depending on the month and number of guests we’ve had
  • Insurance (combined car and home): $143
  • Cable/Internet: $92
  • HOA: $80 paid four times a year
  • Security system: $44.99 a month

Total budgeted monthly costs: About $2,254.54 to $2,374.54, depending on guests and including quarterly HOA fees and water payments every other month

Additional costs like pest control, landscaping needs and general maintenance and repairs crop up from time to time, but the above fees are what we can count on (and budget specifically for) every single month.

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Making the move from renting an apartment to owning a home hasn’t shocked me financially as much as I thought it would, but perhaps that’s because I became a mom at right about the same time, which is basically all-consuming. There is a certain amount of effort that goes into keeping up with the Joneses, but even if we let something slip with regard to our curb appeal, our HOA will certainly remind us to spiffy things up.

I love living in a house, despite the added expenses, but at the same time, I’m glad we waited until we did to buy. Our place absolutely feels like home — at least for the foreseeable future — and for someone who has moved over a dozen times in her life, it’s nice to finally put down roots.

Now, if I could just rein in the buying of home goods, I’d be all set.

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America's No. 1-ranked wealth manager for the ultrarich breaks down the 3 mistakes every millennial investor should avoid — and what they should do instead

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 11:13am

The top-ranked wealth manager in the US says a few simple pointers can help millennials and other young investors avoid major mistakes as they decide what to do with their money.

Jeff Erdmann of Merrill Lynch's private banking and investment group has topped Forbes' list of the best wealth managers in America for three years in a row based on factors including his experience and the revenue he produces for clients.

Erdmann's team manages $10.5 billion for very wealthy families, most of which include company founders and current or former CEOs and presidents. He invests alongside those clients, and he's particularly focused on the very long term.

Here's some additional context around the types of big hitters who rely on Erdmann's expertise: He requires a minimum account size of $2.5 million, and the households he represents typically place roughly $35 million under his care.

So while few millennials and members of Generation Z have ascended to that kind of status, Erdmann says those young investors can learn a lot from the techniques he employs for his ultrarich clients. In fact, he says a perfect starting point is recognizing behaviors to avoid.

In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, Erdmann broke down the three mistakes millennial investors should avoid at all costs. And as an added bonus, he laid out his approach with younger clients.

Mistake 1: Taking big risks right away

Erdmann says some young investors believe they have to take big risks because they're starting out with relatively little money and want to be able to pay for a wedding or a house in the near future.

In his mind, those investors have the situation backward. He says their smaller initial investments put them in a vulnerable position when it comes to absorbing huge losses.

Being young "doesn't mean that you get more aggressive and trade in and out of the market and speculate on a particular commodity or an options strategy," he said. "You can't afford to lose your money."

What young investors should do instead:

Erdmann says new investors don't need to gamble, as they have the advantage of time. He says they should invest in growth assets but without making huge, questionable bets.

Mistake 2: Relying on robots

Erdmann praises some of the changes robo-advisers have brought to the investing world, like reducing fees and making it simpler for people to steadily invest their money. But he says ultra-easy trading can encourage investors to do the wrong thing at the worst time.

"The biggest risk investors have is their emotions," he said. "You can pick your phone up, hit a button, and get in or out of the market. The biggest mistakes investors have made historically is those types of actions."

What young investors should do instead:

Erdmann advises millennials to separate their emotions from their investment decisions, remember to think long term, and find an adviser who can help them meet their goals. He notes that some robo-advisers give customers an option to contact people for advice, but many don't take that opportunity.

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Mistake 3: Chasing old trends

It's natural that a new investor might want to dive in and pursue a popular strategy that has worked recently.

"What a lot of new and young investors do is they often chase what was the hot trend in the last three, five, to 10 years," he said. "I've yet to see a 10-year trend be the great trend for the following 10 years."

Erdmann uses indexing as an example. It's been an extremely successful tactic during the bull market, and an investor who put his or her money in a fund tracking the S&P 500 a decade ago and left it alone would have enjoyed tremendous returns. But over the decade before that, the index declined substantially.

What young investors should do instead:

Erdmann says investors should understand that a high-profile trend won't continue indefinitely. He says they should instead adopt more than one investment strategy, so they aren't relying on one specific stock, region, or method to provide the returns they want.

Bonus: Erdmann's approach to handling young clients

Along with staying informed and trying to keep fees and taxes low, Erdmann says he recommends a three-part strategy to new investors once they've decided on a trading strategy.

  1. Invest about a third of their money right away.
  2. Gradually invest the next third over the following six to 18 months. This "cost averaging" technique is how many people put money into employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement plans.
  3. Use the remaining third to take advantage of market declines, buying when assets are appealingly cheap.

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A $500 pair of sneakers is one of the latest status symbols at USC frat parties, and it highlights the massive wealth divide among students

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 10:45am

Turn up at a college frat party, and you just might find students in $500 Golden Goose sneakers.

It's the latest trend among USC students in fraternities and sororities, where "some of the most overt signs of wealth" exist at the college, reported Jennifer Medina for The New York Times.

These sneakers typically cost around $500, according to Medina, but range from $445 to $1,700 — a high price for a college student, especially considering that many share the burden of carrying the $1.5 trillion national student loan debt. Their three-figure price tag is a sign of a much larger wealth divide that runs rampant on USC's campus.

"The divide between rich and poor students could hardly be more vivid than it is at USC, where the children of celebrities and real estate moguls study alongside the children of nannies and dishwashers," Medina wrote. "The campus remains a place of pervasive wealth, where celebrity, money, and status are still a part of daily life."

She added: "Students of all backgrounds said they often silently worried that they were being judged by their peers — either for having too much or not enough."

According to USC's website, yearly tuition is $55,320. USC has recently come into the spotlight amid the recent college admissions scandal, in which 33 parents were accused of paying a collective $25 million dollars to fabricate their children's credentials during the college admissions process in hopes of getting them accepted to elite schools.

Read more: From Converse to Air Jordans, sneakers have been a status symbol for decades — but millennials are redefining what that means in 3 major ways

The popularity of Golden Goose is part of sneakers' evolving status 

Golden Goose sneakers don't just highlight the income gap on the college campus because of their price point — their appearance further enhances the divide.

Some of the high-end Italian brand's sneakers have a grunge aesthetic — they come pre-distressed. Golden Goose's $530 Beige Scotch sneakers — calf-suede shoes with dirty-looking soles and taped trim at the toes — elicited accusations that the company was "mocking poverty," reported Andy McDonald of HuffPost.

Golden Goose has recently been spotted on a host of celebrities, from Taylor Swift to Selena Gomez, according to Courtney Thompson of Bravo. But they've been a status symbol for more than a decade — according to The Cut's Emilia Petrarca, the pre-distressed Golden Goose started the "ugly-fashion" trend that the wealthy have been favoring as of late.

"Ten years ago, when the Golden Goose Superstar was first released, 'ugly' was different; today, it's a badge of honor," Petrarca wrote.

Unlike critics, she says their "power lies in its disguise or mocking of luxury." By appearing worn-in, they don't come off as too precious like the clean, minimalist sneakers of other high-end brands like Lanvin or Common Projects, the latter of which "indulges in the idea that luxury can be quotidian," she said.

Lanvin and Common Projects, which are commonly priced in the $400 range, are popular among Silicon Valley tech CEOs to signify power in the workplace, according to Business Insider's Avery Hartmans. Meanwhile, $900 Balenciaga Triple S sneakers — another shoe deemed "ugly" — are taking over the fashion world. It's all part of how millennials are redefining sneakers as a status symbol.

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We traveled around the world for a year for work — these are the 5 most important packing tips we always follow

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 9:55am

Last March, we left New York to travel around the world for Business Insider, each carrying only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

Packing was daunting.

We had plans to travel through Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Greece, Israel, and Russia, among other places. Our trip would bring us to a wide variety of climates, from Beijing's frosty early spring to Israel's oppressively hot summer, and scenarios from board room meetings with executives at Chinese tech startups to hiking China's Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

How could everything we needed possibly fit into a single bag? There was no shortage of packing lists to draw from. But most lists were ridiculously minimalist and seemed geared only to backpackers.

Well, after a year of travel, many mistakes, and a reassessment of our entire packing lists in September, we got it down to a science.

Rather than tell you everything we packed — which you can find here or here — we've come up with a few packing principles that have guided us throughout our travels.

1. Before packing an item, have a definite use case for when you're going to need it.

Everyone has had this experience: You get really hyped about some new gadget or a swanky new piece of clothing, use it once, and then it sits in a dusty closet for all time.

When you do that on a trip, it eats up valuable space your suitcase. In our opinion, it breaks the cardinal rule of packing: Don't pack things if you don't know exactly what you are going to use them for.

A perfect example is when I, Harrison, packed an Overboard Dry Tube Bag, a daypack made of tarpaulin that will keep phones and expensive camera equipment dry during adventure-type activities. I didn't use it. At most, we were in situations where I was near water, like hiking near a waterfall. In those situations, a regular backpack was protective enough.

The bag ended up sitting unused in my suitcase for six months, taking up valuable space that I could have used for souvenirs to bring home.

The lesson: know what you actually will use. 

2. Pack clothes and shoes that serve multiple purposes.

Packing clothes that can pull double-duty might be the most important packing tip we can give. For me, that meant finding hiking boots that looked good on a dance floor, while for Annie, it was all about a short-sleeve turtleneck that looks as good in the board room as out on the town.

When you pack items that can serve multiple purposes, you free up space in your suitcase for more items, while also opening up the number of outfit combinations you can pull together. 

Sometimes, that means buying a more expensive item for travel. For example, the only hiking boots that I could find that could credibly double as dress shoes were were the M120 Ripple Sole Scarponcino Boots, made by boutique Italian shoemaker Fracap. At $275, they were the most expensive shoes I've ever bought, but I've definitely gotten my money's worth.

Annie always packs an oversized button-down shirt (either 100% cotton or 100% linen) to serve a variety of looks.  Oversized button-downs can be tucked into pants or skirts for a more put-together look, tied at the bottom over leggings and sneakers for casual sightseeing, or used as a cover up at the beach, a light jacket when it's windy, or sun protection on bright days.

3. Use packing cubes to organize your suitcase.

Packing a carry-on with everything you need and being able to find it all while traveling is a difficult task. Packing cubes make both tasks much easier.

Packing cubes are mesh bags that you can use to organize your clothes or other items in your suitcase. They are easy to find on Amazon for as little as $20 and they make travel infinitely easier. It's kind of like having a dresser inside of your suitcase.

We've found that the best way to do it is to have all your shirts, tops, and button downs in one cube, pants and shorts in another, and then underwear, socks, and loungewear in another.

4. Keep all your technology accessories in an electronics travel organizer, often known as a Dopp kit.

During our first six months on the road, we kept encountering the same problem when leaving a hotel room. Did we remember my extra-long USB-C cable? What about the headphones? It's an anxiety-inducing feeling when you've forgotten something but just can't remember what it is.

The solution, I found, came from the folks over at LifeHacker: a toiletry bag (or Dopp kit for the cool kids) for my technology. I bought the Bagsmart Double-Layer Travel Organizer for $25 and loaded it with all my tech gear.

Now, whenever I need to start work, I whip it out and pull out the cables I need. When I enter a hotel room, I know exactly where to go to get my devices charged. When I get on a plane, I just grab the kit and throw my backpack in the overhead compartment. When I leave a hotel room or the airplane cabin, I can flip the kit open and quickly take inventory.

5. Have a folder or pocket exclusively for important documents.

Travel can be very stressful, doubly so if you can't find that important document, itinerary, or ID card when you need it. The best way we've found to solve this recurring nightmare is to follow a simple nursery rhyme: A place for everything and everything in its place.

That means all of our print-outs, xeroxes of our passports, visas, and other important documents go in a folder that stays in my backpack at all times. Our passports always go in a dedicated pocket in the backpack — the same pocket every time.

As long as we follow that — with no exceptions — we know where our stuff is. 

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Facebook's push to help raise money for charity could indirectly give it a $10 billion boost to its business (FB)

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 9:30am

  • Facebook's charitable giving tools could help boost revenues from its push into shopping on Instagram.
  • The tool encourages users to enter their credit card details into the app, and will help build payments expertise at the company.
  • Analysts from Deutsche Bank predict that Instagram shopping will generate $10 billion in revenue in 2021.

Facebook's charitable giving tools have generated more than a billion dollars in donations for non-profit, the company announced in November 2018. It's an impressive sum — and it could, indirectly, help make Facebook make billions of dollars in new revenue in the long run too.

Earlier this week, analysts at Deutsche Bank published a research note looking at Instagram's big push into e-commerce. The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app is attempting to encourage online shopping on its platform with buy buttons and other tools, and the investment bank estimates that it could drive $10 billion of additional revenue for the company in 2021, 10% of what it predicts the company's total advertising revenues will be that year. In other words, a very significant chunk of money — even by Facebook's very high standards. 

And Facebook's charitable giving tools, which encourage users to start donation drives for causes of their choice on their birthday, could help encourage that growth.

"One ad partner we spoke to noted that Facebook was likely seeing a nice increase in payment adoption driven by increasing use of birthday charity fundraiser on the core [Facebook] platform," the Deutsche Bank analysts wrote. "As such, in addition to using the platform for charitable purposes, Facebook stands to build up its roster of payment-enabled users on the platform that can ultimately be leveraged into shopping functionality over time."

In other words, by encouraging Facebook users to enter their banking details into the apps for worthy purposes, it means it's more likely they'll then buy things from on Instagram down the line.

Analyst Lloyd Walmsley added in an email to Business Insider: "The birthday campaigns are driving users to enter credit card data into Facebook’s payments area which can then ultimately be used for other things on FB, e.g. shopping transactions."

There are other, related benefits to Facebook's charitable giving efforts for Instagram shopping, too.

It will help build up the company's experience working with online payments and financial infrastructure, hiring and training skilled workers who might be re-tasked to more revenue-generating activities down the line. And on a more basic level, it helps acclimatize users to the very act of paying for things on an app owned by Facebook — a service that has long prided itself on being completely free, no payments required.

As such, Facebook's charitable donation work acts as a kind of Trojan horse for the company — driving goodwill in the short term, and helping unlock ever-larger profits in years to come.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at rprice@businessinsider.com, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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JPMorgan warns airline investors to brace for a turbulent earnings season (AAL, UAL, LUV, DAL)

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 9:07am

  • Airlines are facing plenty of headwinds this earnings season, most notably the grounding of Boeing's 737 Max plane worldwide. 
  • JPMorgan is warning investors that financial results are likely to come in at the lower end of the company's forecasted ranges. 
  • Southwest has already lowered its guidance in the face of the 737 Max crisis, and others could do the same. 

In the face of rising fuel prices and an international crisis surrounding the world’s largest plane-maker, JPMorgan is warning clients that this earnings season could be a turbulent one when it comes to airlines.

"Our 1H estimates are reduced across the board on a combination of slightly higher fuel, slightly lower RASM, and Max groundings (where applicable)," Jamie Baker, the bank’s airlines analyst said in a note to clients last week.

"Frankly, we doubt this serves as the first (or last) such exercise investors will witness in this regard as we head into the customary pre-earnings housekeeping cycle."

Delta, which escaped unscathed from the worldwide grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets in March, will kick off the earnings season on Tuesday when it reports first-quarter results. Last week, the Georgia-based carrier raised its profit guidance for the quarter.

Other airlines, however, haven’t been so lucky. Southwest warned investors ahead of the quarters end that its available-seat-mile growth would be about 1% annually, down from its previous forecast of 3.5% to 4%, thanks to its exposure to the 737 Max. Other US carriers affected by the grounding include United, American and Alaska.

Nothing should be a surprise, though

JPMorgan says those warnings have priced in most of the bad news for airline stocks.

"Shares have held up comparatively well since Southwest formally kicked off the pre-release season this week," the report says. "Suggesting to us that stocks were already discounting a potential downward revision exercise."

The bank remains overweight-rated on most airline names, with the exception of Southwest, on which it has an underweight rating. United and JetBlue have neutral ratings. As far as the actual earnings print go, JPMorgan isn’t changing its forecasts but expects airlines to report at the bottom range of their guidance.

"In the case of Delta, we expect Tuesday’s revised guide to remain within existing parameters (i.e. the $0.70 to $0.90 range), but at the lower end,” the bank said. “We similarly expect AAL/UAL outcomes at the softer end of guided ranges, though not by a degree expected to prompt managements to disclose prior to earnings."

SEE ALSO: The FAA's acting administrator joked about United's infamous dragging incident in newly public emails

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Lyft went public at a $24 billion valuation. Here's how that compares to other high-profile tech companies dating back to the dotcom bubble.

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 9:05am

  • Investors expect 2019 to turn into a hectic year for initial public offerings as technology unicorns and decacorns like Uber, Slack, and Pinterest are expected to hit the public market.
  • When Lyft priced its IPO last week at $72 a share, it was valued at around $24 billion. Its chief rival, Uber, is expected to go public at a $120 billion valuation later this year.
  • Some analysts are having a hard time assessing Lyft's true value since it's the first of its kind on a public exchange, facing various risks as it lost hundreds of millions of dollars in 2018.
  • Markets Insider has compiled a list of other high-profile IPOs and their valuations — from the dot-com era and into the future
  • Visit Markets Insider's homepage for more stories.

This year is expected to turn up a shiny freshman class of high-profile public technology companies, from Uber and Slack, to Airbnb and Pinterest.

Lyft kicked off the wave of unicorn offerings last week, going public at a valuation of around $24 billion, after a bit of a slow start to the year for listings due to the partial federal government shutdown

The unicorns, or companies valued at $1 billion or more, next in line to debut carry massive valuations. Uber is expected to fetch a valuation of around $120 billion, Palantir $41 billion, and Airbnb $31 billion. Slack, which has announced it will go public through a direct listing, was most recently valued at $7 billion, and Pinterest, which officially filed its S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, is worth about $12.3 billion.

But assessing a company's worth in the private and public markets are two very different animals. Some young technology firms like Lyft are not yet profitable — a trait not uncommon among startups — making it difficult to assess their earnings history. And other "disruptor"-type companies like Airbnb are the first of their kind to list on the public market, making comparisons tough.

Some Wall Street analysts who cover Lyft say it's a tall task to properly value the ride-hailing company since so many fundamental unknowns still surround it: How will it achieve profitability? How would Lyft fare in an economic downturn? How will its rival Uber affect its business?

"In our view, valuation is the toughest task with LYFT," Michael Ward, an analyst at Seaport Global Securities, wrote to clients this week. "While we believe the ridesharing market will continue to grow and expect LYFT to be a prime competitor, in our view, current valuations reflect an overly optimistic view of consumer behavior in the US."

To compare Lyft's current valuation with the technology giants of yore, Markets Insider has compiled the valuations, annual revenue, and price-to-sales ratios of some of the more popular tech IPOs over the last two decades. A portion of the data in the slides below is from a recent report distributed by Daniel Morgan, a portfolio manager with Synovus Trust Company.

His conclusion from analyzing the price-to-sales ratios of companies like Netscape, Yahoo, and eBay is that the valuations of some of today's unicorn valuations pale in comparison.

Morgan told clients that the valuations of recent unicorns "appear extremely low compared to the 'Go-Go' Days in Technology investing from 1995-1999, before the Tech Bubble Burst, when companies like Yahoo and Netscape went public at 'Monster Size' multiples of 238x and 171x Revenues!!!" 

See how the popular tech IPOs compare.

Of the companies analyzed, Morgan disclosed Synovus Trust Company owns shares in Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, and Twitter. Morgan personally owns shares of Facebook and Amazon.

Lyft

IPO date: March 29, 2019

IPO value: $24 billion

Revenue: $2.2 billion

Price-to-sales ratio: 11.4x



Uber

Expected IPO date: April 2019

Estimated IPO value: $120 billion

2018 revenue: $11.3 billion, the company said earlier this year.

Price-to-sales ratio: 10.5x



Pinterest

Expected IPO date: 2019. Pinterest filed its S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March.

Estimated IPO value: $12.3 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Pinterest's S-1.

Revenue: $755.9 million

Price-to-sales ratio: 16.3x



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A timeline of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 shows its pilots fighting desperately to save their doomed Boeing 737 Max jet (BA)

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 9:03am

  • Ethiopia's Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) released its preliminary report on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 on Thursday.
  • The report presented data which shows that faulty readings from a malfunctioning angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor triggered the Boeing 737 Max's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that is designed to automatically push the nose of the plane downward.
  • The preliminary report did not assign causation for the crash, and a final report is expected at a later date.
  • The report also gave us a glimpse inside the cockpit of the ill-fated flight with a detailed breakdown of the actions of and the communications between the pilots.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On Thursday, Ethiopia's Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) released its preliminary report on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302. The crash, which took place on March 10, marked the second fatal crash of a nearly brand-new Boeing 737 Max airliner since October and precipitated the grounding of the global 737 Max fleet.

The AIB's initial findings present data from the crashed plane's flight-data recorder (FDR), which shows that faulty readings from a malfunctioning angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor triggered the 737 Max's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that is designed to automatically push the nose of the plane downward.

Read more: FAA expects Boeing to come up with new software to fix the grounded 737 Max in a matter of weeks.

"Shortly after liftoff, the value of the left angle of attack sensor deviated from the right one and reached 74.5 degrees while the right angle of attack sensor value was 15.3 degrees," the report said.

The preliminary report did not assign causation for the crash, and a final report is expected at a later date.

In its preliminary report, the AIB also gave the public a glimpse inside the cockpit of the ill-fated flight with a detailed breakdown of the actions and the communications between the flight crew.

Here's a closer look at how Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 unfolded.

SEE ALSO: Boeing and Ethiopian investigators confirm a faulty sensor was triggered on the 737 Max shortly before it crashed

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Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 was operated by a Boeing 737 Max 8 registration ET-AVJ.

ET-AVJ was delivered brand-new to Ethiopian Airlines on November 15, 2018. It was the fourth 737 Max to enter service with Ethiopian.



Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 was cleared for takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport by air traffic control at 8:37 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, March 10, 2019.

The flight lifted off at 8:38 a.m. and headed toward Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Some of the most popular YouTubers make millions from their videos. Here's how you can make some money from your YouTube channel too. (GOOGL)

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 7:15am

  • YouTube stars with large fan bases and popular videos can earn millions of dollars a year from their content, but you don't have to have millions of subscribers to make some cash off the videos you post on the service.
  • If you have enough people watching your YouTube videos, you can earn money from them through the service's Partner Program.
  • Here's how to find out if you're eligible for the program and how to join it.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

YouTube personalities including PewDiePie, the Paul brothers, and Jenna Marbles have made millions of dollars from their YouTube videos.

But you don't have to be a megastar like one of them with millions of views to make money off your YouTube videos. Anyone who meets certain requirements can make some extra cash on the streaming video service through the YouTube Partner Program.

Here are the standards your channel needs to meet to qualify, how you can apply, and how the program works:

SEE ALSO: These are the 23 most popular YouTube stars in the world

To earn money on YouTube, video creators need to be accepted into the service's Partner Program.

Once you become part of the program, you'll have access to a trove of resources and features provided by YouTube. The program offers tips on the different ways you can make money and provides a dedicated support team.

Source: YouTube Help



To qualify for the YouTube Partner Program, your channel has to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch-hours in the last year.

YouTube sets such requirements for the program to "protect the creator community from spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors," it says.

Source: YouTube Creators



To be eligibile, you have to live in a country where the Partner Program is available.

YouTube offers the program in more than 100 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Russia, and Norway. One country where it's not available is China.

Source: YouTube Help



See the rest of the story at Business Insider


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