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Some people aren't taking COVID-19 seriously, and virus deniers are ignoring the warnings about the deadliest pandemic in modern history, experts say

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 11:01am
People protest at the US Capitol against the state's extended stay-at-home order on April 19.
  • COVID-19 has infected 31 million people and killed 970,000 people worldwide, including the US, partly because of divisions over how serious the health consequences of the virus are and how quickly governments responded and addressed the risks of the pandemic.
  • Experts tell Business Insider that people are denying or minimizing the risk of COVID-19 mostly because the virus itself has been politicized.
  • In the US, 7 million people have gotten COVID-19 and at least 200,000 have died.
  • Yet many people in the US refuse to wear face masks, and some believe the pandemic has been overblown.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The spread of the coronavirus in the US can be attributed to many factors — including those who have denied or underestimated the threat of the virus and how fast it could spread.

Experts have said that while there are a number of reasons people haven't taken the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

"The fundamental problem is that the issue is politicized," Adrian Bardon, a philosophy professor at Wake Forest University, told Business Insider.

About 7 million people in the US have been infected with COVID-19 and at least 200,000 have died, but many people still deny or minimize the threat of what's become the deadliest pandemic in modern history.

The first known case of the virus in the US was recorded on January 21. In mid-March, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. By the beginning of April, nearly all the US population was under some sort of lockdown as the virus spread. It hit metropolitan areas such as New York especially hard.

It only took 99 days after the first US case was reported for the country to surpass 1 million cases. And 43 days after that, it surpassed 2 million. The 3-million-case mark came just 28 days after that, in early July. By the end of July, it would surpass 4 million.

The Trump administration initially downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, even as cases and deaths surged.

"We have it totally under control," the president said on January 22. "It's one person coming in from China and we have it under control. It's going to be just fine."

In February, as top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that cases in the US were likely to snowball, Trump said cases would be "close to zero" in a "couple of days."

As the virus spread, Trump suggested that people inject disinfectant as a cure, undermined medical experts on his own coronavirus task force, and described Democrats' criticism of his administration's handling of the pandemic as a "hoax."

Many of Trump's supporters have cosigned the president's downplaying of the virus and the pandemic at large.

These efforts led to protests against shutdowns, mask orders, and other efforts to quell the spread of the virus. In Michigan, for example, protesters brought rifles to the state capitol because they deemed the measures were overexaggerated, or that the state government was overstepping on its rights, or because they thought the entire pandemic was a hoax.

Public-health officials across the country who pushed for these measures received death threats.

People have refused to wear masks in public and in multiple incidents turned belligerent or violent when asked to do so. Violent anti-mask behavior led the Centers for Disease Control to issue guidance to retail workers including installing security equipment, such as panic buttons, and identifying a safe room where workers can avoid violent customers.

Diverging realities in a divided nation

Ideological polarization in the US right now means that many Americans are siloed within their own factions, leading preexisting beliefs to be reinforced by like-minded people without being challenged.

Joseph Eisenberg, an epidemiologist from the University of Michigan, said another factor at play is that people in the US, more than any other nation, have a penchant for a "freedom" and free choice to make decisions they feel affect them.

Those on the conservative end of the political spectrum, Bardon said, tend to believe that the government has little to no role in making rules that should be personal decisions, such as wearing a mask, and to go their own way when they believe it suits them.

"The culture in the US is more about independence and not being told what to do," Eisenberg told Business Insider. "There's a larger sector of our population that on principle doesn't think we should be forced to wear a mask, and they might want to show themselves as an example of that."

Bardon, of Wake Forest, said that when a particular fact threatens one's preexisting perception it could also prompt someone to reject empirical evidence or expert guidance.

People in positions of power can fight these issues by distributing accurate information and setting an example for the nation. But instead, Trump has spurred suspicion of government and denial of the severity of the consequences of the virus, according to Avishek Adhikari, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"When Trump calls this virus a hoax, says it's exaggerated or claims falsely that it is a ploy by the Democrats, you know we've reached the point where the issue has been politicized," Bardon said. "We have politicized science."

He added if it weren't for that politicization, it would likely have been easier for people to take the virus more seriously. The way this coronavirus manifests in infected plays a role in public perception as well.

"You don't have people literally dropping dead in the street with black boils all over their faces," Bardon said. "There would be no reason for people to doubt that the disease existed if that were the case."

Both Bardon and Adhikari said virus deniers might be influenced partly by what an invisible illness COVID-19 can be.

"People react very differently to concrete, dangers that they can sense by either hearing or seeing compared to something invisible," Adhikari said, adding: "Then you factor in that it may not cause symptoms in a large percentage of the population, and then there's the probability of getting it. So that's very different from the reaction most people would have if, say, there is a bear charging at you. Then everyone would have a similar kind of reaction."

Opposing forces

Bardon said that when people are confronted with information that challenges their perceptions, especially in the US's divided culture, it engenders a cognitive dissonance they must resolve.

Denial is often the default reaction, to a point.

"Presumably, when you're actually in the ICU on a ventilator ... there's a point where the cognitive dissonance becomes overwhelming and it just can't be denied. It can't be compartmentalized ... or magical thinking just doesn't work anymore," Bardon said.

"It's just really striking how much it takes to get some people to give up on their belief system."

Miscalculating risk

As the pandemic drags on, risk assessment among the population evolves alongside it.

"The less novel something is, the more people are willing to take added risks," Eisenberg said.

That may lead some people to gradually become desensitized to the coronavirus.

"People forget fairly quickly, and as this goes on I think that everybody will adjust what they're comfortable with," Eisenberg added. "If we see mortality go down, and the chances of you knowing anybody that had a severe case starts going way down, that will result in people taking more risks."

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to add widgets to your iPad's home screen, and customize or remove them later

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 11:01am
You can add widgets to your iPad's home screen when it's in landscape mode.
  • To add widgets to your iPad's home screen, you just need to tap and hold your finger on a blank part of the home screen, then tap the plus sign icon.
  • Once you've added a widget to your iPad's home screen, you can rearrange, customize, or remove it at any time.
  • There are a variety of widgets available for your iPad with the new iPadOS 14 update, including breaking news headlines, your daily calendar, and more.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

For several years, the iPad has had a screen called "Today View," which lets you view and use all sorts of widgets. But starting with iPadOS 14, you can now move those widgets to your home screen.

When your iPad is in landscape mode, Today View now lives on the left side of your home screen's first page. If the iPad is in portrait mode, you can see the Today View and its widgets by swiping to the right.

Through the Today View, iPadOS 14 now lets you add widgets to your home screen. Here's how.

How to add widgets to your iPad's home screen

Before anything, hold your iPhone in landscape mode.

1. Make sure you're on the home screen – swipe until you're on the first, right-most screen. 

2. Tap and hold any blank spot on the home screen until the app icons and folders start to jiggle. 

Tap the plus sign at the top left to add widgets.

3. Tap the plus sign at the top-left of the screen, above the Today View. You should see the list of widgets pop up to the right of the Today View. 

You can see all the available widgets in the pop-up window.

4. To pin a widget to the top of the Today View, drag it from the widget pop-up to the gray square at the top of the Today View. To add more, tap the plus sign again to re-open the widgets pop-up and repeat. 

5. To add a widget to the bottom of the Today View, tap the widget you want and then tap "Add Widget." Note that you have a choice of what size you want the widget to be when you do it this way. It's not permanently stuck at the bottom — see the next section to find out how to rearrange widgets. 

If you use the "Add Widget" button, you can specify the size of the widget and it'll be added to the bottom of the Today View.

6. When you're finished adding widgets, tap "Done" in the upper-right corner of the screen.

How to remove or rearrange widgets on the iPad's home screen

Once you've added some widgets, they're easy to rearrange — and even delete, if you want to get rid of them.

1. Tap and hold any blank spot on the home page until the app icons and folders start to jiggle. 

2. To move a widget around in the Today View, just hold your finger on it, and then drag it to the position where you want it. Sometimes widgets can be a little finicky, so drag carefully, and know that you might need to try again if it doesn't go where you expect. 

3. To delete a widget from the Today View, tap the minus sign at the top left of the widget and then tap "Remove." It'll still be in the widgets pop-up, so you can always add it back again later. 

How to customize a widget

Some widgets can be modified after you add them to the Today View. To do that, tap and hold a widget until the pop-up menu appears. Depending upon the widget, you will see various options. 

Generally, the only options will be to "Edit Home Screen" (which simply lets you move them around) or "Remove Widget," which deletes it.

Depending upon the widget, you'll have various options when you open the pop-up menu.

But some widgets, like Weather, have an "Edit Widget" menu option. In the case of Weather, for example, you can specify what cities you want to see the weather in. 

There's also a special kind of widget called a Smart Stack. A Smart Stack is just a collection of different widgets that share the same space, and you can flip through them with a swipe. You'll see a menu option called "Edit Stack" for Smart Stacks. If you choose this, you can rearrange and remove widgets from the stack. 

For more details, read our article, "How to add a smart stack to your iPhone's home screen with iOS 14, and get a revolving window of useful apps."

Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

Wisconsin Republicans tried to stifle a plan for poll workers to collect absentee ballots in parks across Madison

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:54am
In this 2018 file photo, a sign directs voters towards a polling place near the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Poll workers in Madison, Wisconsin, are expected to appear at more than 200 different locations over the weekend to allow residents the opportunity to register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot, and turn in their ballots, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported.
  • Republicans in the state have opposed the "Democracy in the Park" event because of a restriction on in-person voting until October 20 and have suggested the event would not properly protect the ballots.
  • Madison city officials said they planned to go ahead with the event as ballots would be safe and protected. They added that since ballots would not be distributed, it wouldn't be in violation of state law.
  • Wisconsin is seen as a battleground state in the 2020 presidential election, going to Trump in 2016 after Obama won in 2008 and 2012.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

City officials in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday planned to push ahead with an event titled "Democracy in the Park," which will allow, among other things, residents to fill out and turn in their absentee ballots, despite Republican objections to the event.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on Friday that city officials would run the event at more than 200 locations this weekend, allowing poll workers to answer questions about voting, help voters request an absentee ballot, serve as witnesses for people to fill out ballots they already received, and collect properly filled-out absentee ballots. Wisconsin residents can also register to vote at the Saturday event.

Republicans in the state opposed the event, calling for it to be canceled over their concerns that the plan wasn't safe and could but ballots at risk.

"The threat that this procedure poses to ballot integrity is manifestly obvious," wrote Misha Tseytlin, an attorney for Assembly Speaker Robin and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, in a letter sent Friday to the Madison clerk, asking her to cancel the event and threatening legal action should absentee ballots be collected.

"Given the apparent unlawfulness of the absentee-ballot-collection efforts of your 'Democracy in the Park' campaign, there is a grave risk that all ballots you collect through the campaign will be challenged in court and ultimately invalidated," he added.

At the core of the argument from Republicans is that the events would violate state law, which prohibits early voting from taking place until October 20, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. But Mike Haas, the Madison city attorney and the former leader of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told the Journal Sentinel that the event did not classify as in-person voting because no ballots would be distributed.

Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt told the Journal Sentinel that he had similar concerns and was working to recruit Republicans to attend "Democracy in the Park" locations to make sure they didn't become "illegal early vote sites."

—Madison WI Clerk (@MadisonWIClerk) September 25, 2020

"We thought if we got poll workers to be stationed in each city park it would be like a human drop box, only with the added benefit that the poll workers can verify for the voter that everything is complete on their envelope and answer any questions the voters might have about how are these absentees counted and what happens after this," said Maribeth Witzel-Behl, the Madison City Clerk, according to the Journal Sentinel.

At the event Saturday, voters can request an absentee ballot, or, if they already have theirs, they can fill it out in front of a poll worker who can function as a witness and collect their ballot. In a statement on the city of Madison website, Witzel-Behl said that the poll workers have taken an oath of office, calling them "the same dedicated public servants who administer elections at your polling place on Election Day."

Witzel-Behl said that voters were already able to return their absentee ballots by mail and that the city's drop-off boxes had not yet arrived. The Saturday event would provide voters the opportunity to turn in their ballots in person, she said.

"By having poll workers receive the delivery of the absentee ballot, we are able to double-check that the voter has completed the certificate envelope so the ballot can be counted at the polls on Election Day," she added. "The City Clerk's Office is non-partisan. Regardless of who people vote for, our goal is that each eligible voter will be able to cast a ballot and have that ballot counted."

Wisconsin is seen as a key battleground state in the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, voters in the state voted for President Donald Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton after voting for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012. According to a Friday poll from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Biden leads Trump in the state by 5 points.

Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guideRead the original article on Business Insider

The US military's attempts to recruit Gen-Z gamers on Twitch is predatory and problematic

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:21am
The US Army Esports team playing Call of Duty at an event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in January 2020.
  • The Army and Navy are targeting gamers for recruitment on Twitch.
  • Many Twitch users are young members of Gen Z, so the military's use of video games as a recruiting tactic is problematic and predatory.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Timmy O'Connell is a freshman college student from Alexandria, VA.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Over the past few years, multiple branches of the US military have moved their advertising focus towards the esports and video game streaming world. Both the US Army and Navy have decided to dip their toes into the gaming industry, and both have created esports teams to stream content on the live streaming platform Twitch.

While the military has said the move into gaming is simply to connect with a younger generation, in reality it is an attempt to glorify war through video games to bring in new young recruits. And it's become clear that this process is misleading, predatory, and outright harmful.

Recruiting teens online

Navy streamers have repeatedly denied that they are recruiters or that they are recruiting on Twitch, claiming that they are doing "outreach and awareness," but that is extremely misleading.

An internal Navy memo makes it clear that the job is nearly identical to a recruiter:

"The qualifications to become a [streamer] are identical to the qualifications needed for recruiting duty… Potential team member selectees will be screened for team fit and recruiting duty... Selected team members will receive recruiting training at Navy Recruiter Orientation Unit (NORU)…The intent of NORU training will be to further develop communication skills and to ensure team members understand the types of information sought by those inquiring about service in the Navy." 

Though the Navy does not consider the esports team members to be official recruiters, they must still have the same qualifications and attend NORU, the Navy's recruitment school. Even the stated purpose of the US Navy's Esports Team — to connect prospective recruits with official recruiters — makes the end goal clear. At least one of the streamers is a recruiter during his day job, yet on the US Navy's Esports website, his occupation is listed as "Fire Controlman."

"It's part of the Navy's "big picture marketing strategy...One thing the military really tries to do is show that we're relatable. We want to show that the military is relatable to our target audience, which is predominantly 17 to 24-year olds and that these relatable people do relatable things," one member of the Navy told the Navy Times.

Even if the streamers themselves aren't actually doing the recruiting, their goal as a unit is to bring in new recruits, so it's recruiting in all but name.

Particularly worrying is the age of people being exposed to this process. Twitch is a platform full of children as young as 13, the minimum age you must be to to use the platform. The US Military is not supposed to contact teens until they turn 17 or are in their junior year of high school for recruitment. The Army was found to be promoting giveaways that linked directly to recruiting forms on an Army recruitment website to allow them to collect contact information of recruits who were potentially underage.

The US Navy's stream is set for mature audiences only, meaning viewers must enter their age to verify they are at least 18 to view the stream, but these methods of protecting children from unsuitable content are notoriously weak and easy to get around. It is possible, even inevitable, for a Navy streamer to encounter children who don't meet the requirements to be recruited.

Joining the military is a serious commitment, not one to be taken lightly, but by playing first-person shooter games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Escape from Tarkov, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the military is potentially trivializing war to the impressionable minds of thousands of younger viewers.

The Navy's Twitch bio section, until very recently, contained the phrase: "Other people will tell you not to stay up all night looking at a screen. We'll pay you to do it." This could easily be interpreted by a child as the Navy offering to pay them to play video games, when in reality, before even applying to join the US Navy's esports Team, they would have to obtain many qualifications to be eligible to join.

And during there have also been problems with the content on the streams themselves.  In September 2020, a Navy streamer was seen playing the game, Among Us, with characters named "Japan 1945," "Nagasaki," and a black crewmate named, "gamer word," a reference to the N-word. The Navy then ended their stream early, citing "technical difficulties" after floods of new viewers entered the chat asking about the names.

This is extremely disturbing. Joking about atrocities committed by the United States that resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 civilians helps to normalize and excuse these tragic events.

Gen Z has better things to do

Gen Z generally views climate change as the current greatest threat to the world. The War in Afghanistan is older than many of them. They have lived their entire lives with this country at war. Instead of joining the military to continue to fight these pointless wars, they should be in school acquiring the skills they will need to attempt to solve the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced. Instead of increasing the military budget as the US Government has in recent years, it should be spending more money investing in green technology and research into environmental issues and climate change.

If you ever decide to voice these same concerns to the Army and Navy's Twitch streams, you might face a lot of friction, as both branches have been censoring viewers who post unfavorable messages in the chat functions. Many users were banned from commenting on the Army's stream for asking questions about "war crimes" or speaking out against the military's presence on Twitch.

The Navy's moderation policies are harmful to open debate and likely unconstitutional. Users have been temporarily banned for asking questions such as: "What is the difference between recruiting and outreach and awareness?" These questions are completely valid and ought to be answered. 

When I messaged a moderator requesting to be unbanned, the moderator told me "sry, after review of your past chats, that's a no. Try to be a nicer person next time. Have a great day." After a letter was sent by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University requesting that both the Army and Navy unbanned all of the viewers it had banned, both branches complied and introduced new chat policies.

The Navy and Army are actively targeting children for recruitment by enticing them with the prospect of playing video games for a living. This practice is extraordinarily predatory. Military streamers are not talking about the pros and cons of joining the military when they talk about their lived experiences. They are talking about how much fun they are having playing video games. Joining the military is a profoundly serious decision, yet ours is glorifying war and attempting to influence a generation of young Americans to join.

Timmy is a college student planning to study Economics and Government at the College of William & Mary. He is originally from Alexandria, VA.

Read the original article on Business Insider

PRESENTING: A 24-year-old game developer for Roblox who makes over $1 million a year shares how he started his own company after dropping out of school

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:15am
Alex Hicks.

In 2010, Alex Hicks released his first video game on Roblox. Ten years later, he's made more than $1 million a year as the owner of game development studio RedManta, which creates games for the popular kids platform and has since generated nearly one billion plays combined.

After several software engineering internships at Roblox, Hicks developed a solid understanding about game design, developer toolsets, and operations — a skill set that led him to quit college and develop games full time.

Now, he shares with Business Insider how embracing Roblox's communities and focusing on efficiency helped him reach the million-dollar revenue mark in 2020.

"[A]t this point I'm feeling I'm much farther ahead than many of the people I know who graduated with game design degrees," Hicks said. 

Subscribe here to read our feature: How a 24-year-old developer makes over $1 million a year creating games for the popular kids platform Roblox and launched his own development studioRead the original article on Business Insider

Post Malone joined the ranks of male celebs trying to capture the millennial market of rosé drinkers this summer. It all says a lot about the generation's thirst.

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:11am
Post Malone is the latest male millennial celeb to create a brosé.
  • A number of male household entertainment names have been cashing in on millennials' famed thirst for rosé.
  • In June, Post Malone launched a rosé called Maison No. 9.
  • Prior to that, Instagram personality The Fat Jewish and "Bachelor" alum Colton Underwood also launched their own rosé brands.
  • Rosé appeals to millennials of all genders because of the lifestyle it evokes, Susan Kostrzewa, editor-in-chief of Wine Enthusiast magazine, told Business Insider.
  • Bro's in rosé — or brosé — is also a subset of the growing number of celeb ventures into booze brands.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The ultimate food and wine pairing is a bottle of rosé with chicken fingers and french fries. 

That's if you're dining with rapper Post Malone, who launched a rosé called Maison No. 9 in June. As he told The Wall Street Journal, the crisp wine "pairs perfect with the sunset" and sometimes with "a nice, hot American chicken strip." 

Malone is known for his record-breaking hit singles like "Rockstar" and "Psycho." The 25-year-old also has an Instagram following of 22.6 million. He says he has "loved wine for a minute now," but he's just the latest male millennial celeb to join the brosé league. 

A post shared by @postmaloneSep 5, 2020 at 11:58am PDT

 

In 2015, Instagram personality Josh Ostrovsky cofounded wine brand Swish Beverages, which has since been rebranded BABE, with the launch of White Girl Rosé. Ostrovsky, now 38, went on to release BABE Rosé in 2016, a canned sparkling rosé, and Pink Party Rosé with Bubbles in 2017, a Champagne rosé. Ostrovsky is more popularly known by his Instagram handle, The Fat Jewish, an offbeat meme account that boasts 10.7 million followers.

And last year, Colton Underwood, 28, released 65 Roses Rosé with all proceeds going toward cystic fibrosis research. Underwood, a former NFL player with a 2 million Instagram following, is best known for his season on "The Bachelor."

While the move to monetize a feminized drink may seem like a gendered marketing ploy, the brosé launches actually say a lot about millennial culture. As Chloe Wyma wrote for GQ in 2015, "The rosé bro is inaugurating a freer, more egalitarian world of gender-fluid beverage consumption." 

The allure of the rosé bro

The 2015 launch of White Girl Rosé coincided with that year's drink of the summer — rosé. Ostrovsky and his cofounders felt the liquor market was saturated, VinePair's Leslie Price wrote two years later, but they found the rosé market, which was going viral on Instagram, virtually untouched.

What they intended to be a cheeky fad turned into long-lasting blush fever. "It was going to be a momentary thing," Ostrovsky told Price. "We were going to sell it to women in the Hamptons that we knew with like, rhinoplasty."

But after they had to quadruple their original order of 800 cases, Price wrote, they realized they had a business. In 2019, they sold the company to Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest beermaker.

The Fat Jewish and a BABE Rosé mascot.

Post Malone's Maison No. 9 has only been around for three months, but it sold 50,000 bottles within two days of launching and 1,000 cases in the first hour alone, reported The Journal, citing online wine marketplace Vivino. The company told The Journal it was the first time they saw a product sell that quickly.

A representative for Underwood's 65 Roses did not reply to Business Insider's request for sales data. 

Popular, but not exquisite

The numbers speak to success, but are these wines actually any good? VinePair had sommeliers blind taste White Girl Rosé, which retails for $10.99. The concensus among most was that it was "fine," and likely made for Instagram-loving young adults.

Maison No.9, which you can guzzle for $21.99, bills itself as "high-quality" and "accessible." Unlike many celeb-backed booze brands, according to The Journal, Malone was hands-on in his rosé's creation, working with his two cofounders and a winemaker in Provence, France, to perfect the blend and design the glass topper. 

The editors at The Cut recently took it for a spin, with most deeming it enjoyable but not a stand-out from other rosés. "I would say it's a bit like drinking a pink starburst, which everyone likes, but nobody loves," wrote Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz.

As of this article's publication, Business Insider was not able to find any taste test reviews of Underwood's rosé.

Everyone loves rosé

It seems, then, that these brands have nailed how millennials view rosé: It's a drink predicated more on lifestyle than on taste, and one that evokes a glamorous, faintly exotic association.

There's also the matter of the drink's target audience: In the US, rosé consumption is highest among those ages 25 to 34. That puts its drinkers squarely in the millennial generation — a generation that, with their music, Instagram following, and TV audience respectively, Malone, Ostrovsky, and Underwood have already established a strong fan base in. It's also an audience they are well-position to address; between the three of them, they tout an impressive collective social following of more than 35 million.

Susan Kostrzewa, editor-in-chief of Wine Enthusiast magazine, told Business Insider that this fan base is a critical point to consider. By nature of their audiences, millennial brosé brands "are likely to reach and appeal to more female than male wine drinkers in their efforts," she said. But since women make over 80% of the household wine purchases in America, she imagines those wines may still end up in the hands of their male partners. 

On top of that, rosé is a drink that knows no gender: Kostrzewa said the millennial rosé obsession is climbing in the US among both males and females.

Kostrzewa told Business Insider that in traditional wine cultures like France, rosé is a non-gendered favorite.  Millennial wine drinkers, she said, are less swayed by gendered marketing than previous generations were, and are more attuned to overall lifestyle branding and easy enjoyment. 

"In the US, its varied and approachable palate profile, as well as the glamorous south of France or coastal lifestyle naturally associated with it, is appealing to millennial wine drinkers across the board," Kostrzewa said.

Rosé also offers the "luxury of non-choice" for an indecisive generation in that it combines the freshness of white and boldness of red, GQ's Wyma wrote. 

A post shared by Colton Underwood (@coltonunderwood)Feb 13, 2019 at 8:45pm PST

 

Millennial men aren't the only celebs bottling up some pink. Consider men over 40, like John Legend and Brad Pitt, or women, like Sarah Jessica Parker and Kylie Minogue, who all have their own rosé brands. They're all a subset of the increasing number of celeb-backed booze brands such as George Clooney's Casamigos tequila and Snoop Dogg's 19 Crimes wine brand.

As celebs venture into the liquor industry, some are turning to rosé because it seems to be showing no signs of slowing in young mainstream culture, Kostrzewa said.

As Malone told The Journal, "Everybody loves a good glass of rosé on a hot day."

Read the original article on Business Insider

I was the first one laid off from my company during the pandemic. Since then, I've worked as a poll worker — here's what it's been like.

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:07am
Jess Smith-Winchester.
  • Jess Smith-Winchester is a 34-year-old former account manager at a digital art studio in Atlanta, GA.
  • She was the first one let go at her old company during the pandemic.
  • She's signed up to be a poll worker, and is working on her photography and monetizing her social media.
  • This is her story, as told to Caroline Cox.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Back in February, I was prepping to find another job. 2019 was a fantastic year. Going into 2020, I said, I'm getting a new job. I wasn't necessarily let go because of COVID-19 — my company knew I was unhappy and applying to other jobs. So when the pandemic buzz started, I was the first to be let go. They've let others go since then because of business slowing, and they've been paying my unemployment. 

I reached out to some offers and there was a lot of momentum, then people started getting cold feet. I immediately filed for unemployment. I didn't want to take a job, then get let go in a month and have to start over again, because I heard from multiple people that unemployment was becoming a mess to get on.

Right when I got let go, my husband got promoted and started working from home full-time, so he works longer days than ever. His job ramping up kind of pushed me into this homemaker role. We don't have kids, but he's the provider, and I find myself putting the house ahead of my career focus. 

As far as money goes, we're saving. It's easier since restaurants aren't open and you can't really travel.

I'm not a homebody, so we've been doing some car travel for our mental health. But those are also times when I'm not looking for a job. 

We used our stimulus check to pay off a credit card. My unemployment originally was equal to my salary before commission, so it was livable. Now, it's down to like $380 a week. We paid off my husband's student loans this past April, and it couldn't have happened at a better time. 

I'm searching for jobs within my field. Competition and the potential career setback are big fears. I would take an entry-level position, but it would kind of break my heart because it wasn't until 2019 that I felt like I was making the kind of money I deserved to be making. I don't want this big gap in my work history, but I'm also being picky. At this point I don't necessarily have to settle for just anything. 

While unemployed, I've taken jobs as a poll worker, done some photography gigs, I've been selling on Poshmark, and I'm attempting to monetize the blog I've had since 2007, along with my social media. 

Now, day-to-day life looks like providing meals for myself and my husband, cleaning up, then tending to the house, our two cats, and our 100-plus plants. On weekdays, I try to work out, look at LinkedIn, apply for jobs, and do some photo editing. I'm an extrovert, so I also talk to friends and family a lot on FaceTime.

I graduated in 2008 into a recession, had a good job for three months, then got laid off. I got laid off again in 2011 during another dip in the economy, so this is essentially my third crisis. It's disheartening. But this time around I'm the most secure, money-wise, so I feel fortunate on that end.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon unveiled wild new devices that can move within the home — and it might say a lot about the company's future plans

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:05am
The Ring Always Home Cam
  • Amazon launched two new smart home products that can move within the home: the Echo Show 10 and Ring Always Home Cam.
  • The Echo Show 10 can reorient its display, camera, and speakers to face the user's direction, while the Ring Always Home Cam is a mini security drone that can fly around the home.
  • Both product could serve as a step toward Amazon's broader ambitions to build an Alexa-enabled home robot, as reports from Business Insider and Bloomberg have indicated.
  • But the company will have to overcome serious privacy concerns along the way. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon's presence in the home took a big leap forward this week, and not just because the online retail giant announced a completely redesigned Echo lineup and big updates to Alexa.

Amazon's smart home devices, whether it be an Echo speaker, Eero mesh router, or Ring security camera, have always remained as stationary fixtures inside (or outside) the home.

That's all starting to change, however, as Amazon announced the Echo Show 10, which can rotate based on the user's position, as well as the Ring Always Home Cam — a miniature drone capable of flying around the home.

The two products could pave the way for Amazon's future endeavors, such as the Alexa-enabled home robot the company is said to be working on. The new gadgets may help Amazon gain an understanding of how consumers receive smart home gadgets that move autonomously in the home or reorient themselves based on the user's location.

It could also potentially help Amazon refine such technologies before making a more sophisticated gadget like the "Vesta" robot it has reportedly been developing. 

The new Echo Show 10 can move its screen and camera as the user changes position to keep him or her in frame during video calls. If you enable Alexa Guard — the feature that prompts your Echo to listen up for sounds and turn the lights on while you're away — the new Show can also periodically pan its camera around the room.

The Echo Show uses computer vision algorithms to understand when a person is in its scope of view, and owners can also manipulate the camera from the Alexa app to get a full view of the room. The new Echo Show can adjust its screen, camera, and speakers to face the user each time Alexa is triggered.

The Echo Show 10

Amazon created the new Echo Show because it realized that people often aren't stationary when they're within their homes. As such, the company wanted to create a product that could cater to users as they move around the house and go about their daily routines, Miriam Daniel, Amazon's vice president of Echo and Alexa devices, said to Business Insider.

The company also used virtual reality environments to gain a better understanding of how users interact with screens and cameras when developing the Echo Show 10, Daniel said.

"Up until now, customers are adapting to the technology," Daniel said. "Whether it's holding a phone in your hand or angling it just right to take a selfie, or how you have to pause and put yourself within frame of the camera. And so we thought a little bit about how should technology adapt to humans."

The Echo Show 10 uses a combination of audio signals and computer vision to determine a user's location and adjust its position accordingly. The camera looks for a human shape and the direction from which the strongest audio signals in the room are coming from to determine the user's location, according to Daniel.

The ability to understand a person's location within a room and adjust accordingly sounds like it could be crucial for a home robot like the one Amazon is rumored to be working on.  

Ring, on the other hand, is launching a new home security camera that can autonomously fly throughout the home. The $250 miniature drone, which is called the Always Home Cam and will be launching in 2021, follows a predetermined path that the user sets by carrying the device around the house. It's intended to help owners keep an eye on their homes without having to install multiple cameras throughout the house. 

But both products are already raising some serious privacy woes. In particular, the idea of a tiny Amazon drone surveilling your home — as well as a stationary camera that swivels to follow you — has already been met with some concern and apprehension

Big Brother Watch, the United Kingdom-based privacy advocacy group, called the Always Home Cam "Amazon's most chilling surveillance product yet."

Ring says its Always Home Cam only records while in flight and that its camera is blocked while it sits in its charging dock. The flying camera is also designed to be loud so that owners are aware that it's nearby. Amazon says the Echo Show 10 features a built-in camera shutter that can block its view anytime.

When the Echo Show 10 is scanning its surroundings, it immediately discards any imagery of human shapes within milliseconds after extracting the necessary data points, Daniel said. The imagery also never leaves the device.

How customers react to and embrace these new mobile gadgets could be critical when it comes to Amazon's future plans. The company is said to be working on a waist-high Alexa-powered robot that would be able to move around the home based on voice commands, according to reports from Bloomberg and Business Insider's Eugene Kim. The robot itself could cost around $1,000 and is said to be a top priority for the company. 

Privacy advocates are already taking issue with the idea of a small drone that's only designed to make short, pre-determined trips of approximately five minutes each around your home. Imagine the backlash Amazon will likely face if it launches a bigger robot equipped with microphones, cameras, and wheels that can more freely roam around the house. 

Regardless, the new products suggest that the path forward for Amazon's Echo and smart home products involves making them less stationary and more mobile — whether it raises privacy concerns or not. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump doubles down on questioning the transfer of power if he loses the election

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:03am
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Newport News, Virginia.
  • Speaking to supporters in Newport News, Virginia, on Friday, President Trump again raised the prospect of refusing to accept the election result next month.
  • Trump has repeatedly spread disinformation that mail-in votes are exposed to fraud, and Democrats plotting to steal the election. "We're not going to stand for it," he said in Atlanta.
  • Trump has long refused to countenance the prospect of defeat, and stirs doubts about the legitimacy of contests he might lose.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Trump has warned supporters that he will not be "cheated" in next month's election and said, "We're not going to stand for it."

Trump has repeatedly spread disinformation that mail-in votes are exposed to fraud, and Democrats are plotting to steal the election.

He returned to the theme at a rally in Newport News, Virginia, on Friday, claiming postal ballots were a "scam."

He said: "We are not going to lose this, except if they cheat."

He continued: "And we do want a very friendly transition. But we don't want to be cheated. And be stupid ... And we know that there were thousands and thousands of ballots that made the difference through cheating. We're not going to stand for it."

(Listen to Trump talk about the transition of power at 1:35:30) 

Earlier, he joked to supporters in Atlanta, Georgia, about being in power for 12 more years, according to a report in The Guardian.

Consistently, the president at rallies has called on supporters to act as "poll watchers" to guard against election fraud.

FBI Director Christopher Wray contradicted the president on Thursday: "We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise," he told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Democrats say that the president seeks to delegitimize thousands of mail-in votes to cling to power illegally should he lose in November.

Mary Trump, the niece of President Donald Trump, said on Thursday that her uncle would go "farther than you can possibly imagine" if he loses the presidential election, the Huffington Post reported.

Historians and experts on fascism warn that Trump is behaving like the dictators the US is often leading the way to condemn on the global stage. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida Gov. DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and small businesses as the coronavirus continues to spread

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:02am
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday put forth new legislation aimed at protesters.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that all restaurants and small businesses statewide can reopen and operate at full capacity. 
  • DeSantis has championed opening businesses in the state as a move to restrengthen the Florida economy,  but the decision comes as the number of confirmed cases in the state continues to rise.
  • "We're not closing anything going forward," DeSantis said Friday at a news briefing.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered on Friday the total reopening of all restaurants and businesses, a decision that's been met with backlash as the coronavirus continues to spread statewide.

All restaurants and small businesses in the state can operate at full capacity from this point onward, according to the order.

The governor's order also ensures that local officials are unable to direct restaurants and businesses to close or operate at less than half-capacity without specifying a reason.

"We're not closing anything going forward," DeSantis said Friday at a news briefing.

The governor also eliminated fines against people refusing to wear masks.

"As an act of executive grace, all fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended," he said.

DeSantis, a major ally to President Donald Trump, has been pushing for reopening across various sectors, arguing that the state's economy depends on it.

In June, DeSantis announced that public schools will reopen at "full capacity." When the pandemic first hit the state in March, DeSantis refused to close beaches, even as spring break attracted crowds of students.

Florida was one of the last states to announce a state-at-home order, with DeSantis making the announcement April 1 when several other states had already implemented it in March.

Lawmakers have criticized DeSantis for his response to the pandemic, and voters have indicated their disapproval as well. A July poll found that DeSantis dropped swiftly in popularity, with 49% of Florida voters saying they disapproved of his performance. The same poll last year recorded a 62% approval rating from voters.

DeSantis is once again facing fire for his decision to reopen businesses and restaurants.

"No one is advocating for a full-scale lockdown in Florida. But we have been and continue to ask for common-sense prevention measures such as face masks, which are essential to preventing further spread," Democratic state Sen. Audrey Gibson said, according to the Associated Press.

The coronavirus has infected more than 695,000 people and killed more than 13,900 in the state, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

With the number of confirmed cases rising daily, Florida has become one of the country's hardest-hit states. On Friday, Florida added 2,874 new cases, according to JHU data.

Nationally, more than 7 million people have been infected, of which more than 203,000 people have died, according to JHU data.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What having a stutter taught me about becoming a leader

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 10:00am
Michael Thompson.
  • Michael Thompson is a career strategist who works with business professionals and entrepreneurs to open more doors and receive greater satisfaction from their work.
  • In childhood, Thompson struggled with a severe speech impediment. Despite working hard to improve his communication, in adulthood he still encountered clients and colleagues who weren't willing to embrace him as a leader.
  • Through his experience having a stutter, Thompson says he learned that leadership is more about sounding great all the time. It's equally important to be a good listener, and show people that you care about their input.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"I love you Mike, and I respect what you've done. But I can't be on your team."

I looked at the man standing in front of me, baffled, "What the hell are you talking about? No one knows your deals better than me. You're joking?"

"I'm sorry," the man replied, with his eyes glued to the floor. "I can't have you talking to my clients. I got kids, man. You understand, right?"

Like a lot of people who grow up with a severe speech impediment, I got picked on and I got called names: "Stupid," "R-t--d," "Nerd." It didn't help that I really struggled to say words that begin with the letter "M" and my name is Michael.

As a kid, these comments destroyed me. But the older I got, as a survival mechanism, I became better at masking my feelings. At times, I even laughed along with people when they made fun of me. Each time it happened, however, even if they said they were just playing around, their words hurt.

None of the jokes, jabs, and laughs behind my back, however, compared to the pain I felt that day when a 37-year-old man whom I respected, trusted and would have gone to the end of the earth to fight for, told me he wouldn't work with me because of my stutter.

I'd just turned 25 and instead of celebrating my promotion to sales manager, I got in my car, drove across the street to Panera Bread, and, after bawling my eyes out, I sat there for a good hour thinking about what the hell I was doing.

Once again, I'd been whacked in the face with the hard reality that just because I'd learned how to effectively build rapport with people, it didn't mean everyone was ready to embrace me as a leader.

Seventeen years have passed since that day I made the decision to return to work instead of pulling out of Panera's parking lot and going home. During this time, my work in various leadership positions has taken me all over the globe. Today as a communication and career coach, I make my living helping other people build their confidence and develop their own leadership qualities.

If I've learned anything through these experiences, it's that leaders come in many varieties, and not one variety is best.

Some take the initiative, they set their goal and then motivate people to join them. Others sit back and watch what may happen, or, in many cases, they try to determine where their people want to go, and then they set out to help them get there.

Personally, I fall into the latter category. I'm more comfortable and most effective when leading from behind, rather than being out in front.

Despite cursing my stutter for a good part of my life, it's clear to me now that it has been my greatest teacher.

Stuttering taught me just how powerful being vulnerable can be in leadership positions

When I first stepped into leadership roles, I thought for sure that my stutter would be my downfall, and being humiliated that day only solidified that belief. After picking myself up, however, both my team and the president of the company sat me down and told me it was my biggest strength as my stutter humanized me, and made me both relatable and approachable.

When we hear the word "vulnerable," we think of words like "insecurity" and "weak." But in reality, being vulnerable is having the courage to be yourself. Although I didn't always see it that way, the fact that I choose to show up every day  —  no matter the adversities I faced  —  served as a reminder to those around me of the importance of opening yourself up to the world. 

Also, setting the precedent early on that I needed the support of the people on my team just as much as they needed mine created an environment where people were comfortable talking about their own challenges, and asking for help without feeling judged.

Stuttering taught me what really matters in communication

Despite being shy and not saying much all the way up through college, I had a deep desire to build connections with people. Since I wasn't the smoothest talker, in order to create these bonds I focused on the qualities of myself that I could better control like bringing my full presence into each conversation, listening, and working to continually grow my empathy muscle.

When I began working in sales and leadership positions I quickly realized that the combination of these skills had become my superpower. I knew all too well what it felt like not to be seen. This drive to ensure other people did not experience those feelings played a big role in establishing a safe environment where people felt like they could speak freely — because they knew they would be heard, and I had their best interest at heart.

Effective communication is not solely about oratory skills. It's about giving people our full presence, and taking the time to understand them. This starts and stops with our ability to effectively listen and empathize with people to better understand their wants, needs, challenges, and fears. After all, problems cannot be solved if they are not properly identified.

Stuttering taught me the importance of giving people room to lead themselves

On the first day of my sales job, the corporate trainer split us into small groups and we were tasked with critiquing each other on the phone. While we were walking out of the conference room, however, the man whose team I had been assigned to told me he could see my nerves a mile away and he asked me if I was okay.

"I stutter, and I took this job to gain confidence," were the only words I managed to get out before he flagged down the trainer and said I'd be working with him. 

When we got to my desk, instead of sitting down with me, he handed me a pile of old leads and told me to take as much time as I needed to get comfortable, and that his door was open if I had any questions. 

Out of all the leadership lessons I've learned over the years, that simple gesture reigns supreme. It serves as a reminder that each individual is different, and at times the best thing you can do as a leader is to let people know you are there for them and set them free to find their own way. 

Stuttering taught me that kindness breeds confidence 

My whole reason for being is to help people find and embrace the strengths they have within themselves, so they can get what they want out of life. This may sound cheesy. But I cannot begin to put into words the appreciation I have for the people who have not only seen something in me but invested their time, money, and resources to bring it out of me. 

I was a scared kid when I started my career. But through their encouragement, guidance, and trust, they helped me grow into a person both professionally and personally that I never thought I was capable of becoming. And to me, that is what a leader is — someone who works with people to create an environment that allows them to thrive. 

Michael Thompson is a career strategist who works with business professionals and entrepreneurs to open more doors and receive greater satisfaction from their work. His work regarding all things communication and career advice has been featured in Business Insider, Fast Company, Apple News, The Ladders, and Forbes. He currently resides in the Catalan countryside with his wife and their two cool little boys and writes to meet people, so feel free to reach out to connect here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the pandemic made summer 2020 the summer of hotel buyouts for wealthy travelers

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:53am
  • All-property buyouts, where one family or group rents out every single room, gained new urgency — and appeal — during the pandemic-constrained summer season.
  • From inns on the coast of Maine to island resorts, buyouts presented an appealing option to travelers looking to minimize their exposure to others.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

 

It was only supposed to be a week-long trip away from New York City for Dan Bassichis.

In mid-March, the divorced private equity exec had taken his two daughters skiing in Vermont. But as the pandemic worsened, Bassichis decided to work remotely and rented a house nearby. He chose a house large enough that it had room to create an extended family bubble and invited not only his ex-wife and her new husband to join them, but also the man's ex-wife and their two sons.

When the rental period expired, the pandemic-era family unit didn't want to come back to the city. Instead, they started looking for an alternative in the country, ideally somewhere with a few more services and convenience – like a hotel. Not content to rent a room or a large suite, though, Bassichis opted to buy out an entire property.

And that's how the group came to turn the Cape Arundel Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, into their own vacation home a short stroll from the Bush family compound on Walker's Point.

The hotel has 24 rooms that stretch across three buildings on the site. Bassichis rented the main, seven-room building; his extended bubble of family and friends took over the other two houses and their 17 rooms. The combined rental for all three came out to $23,200 per week, or $86,000 per month.

"None of us want to be in a hotel with other guests, so sharing a place with other people that we know and trust is perfect, so taking over an inn is the ideal family vacation," Bassichis told Business Insider. That was several months ago. "This has replaced all of our summer trips and also their summer camps. We have tried our best to make the best out of the situation and make this a fun and memorable summer. And since we are a blended, divorced family, the inn gave us all some space, while still being together with our kids."

Hotel owners can quickly reconfigure their properties for buyouts

Hotel buyouts aren't a new idea: For weddings, for instance, smaller properties have long been dragooned into hosting the ceremony and guests alike. But all-property buyouts, where one family or group rents out every single room, have gained new urgency — and appeal — during the pandemic-constrained summer season. The trend holds especially true for upscale travelers like Bassichis.

Justin Grimes is managing director of the group that owns the Cape Arundel Inn and several other boutique properties nearby, the Kennebunkport Resort Collection. Grimes says that the decision to offer buyouts this year was spurred, in part, by former guests. He began receiving calls about buyouts in the spring, before the hotel had even considered how to handle opening for the season; it had shuttered, as usual, over the winter.

It was quickly evident that promoting buyouts would be the best way to approach summer 2020.

"We wanted to help offer additional accommodation options for those trying to distance themselves from dense, multi-family urban settings, as well as try to provide an opportunity for some of our staff to stay employed," he told Business Insider. His team made some adjustments to the property to better suit Bassichis and his extended family: They converted the front desk into a business center with desks and printers and added residential gadgets to the commercial kitchen so the family could cook its own meals.

Grimes doesn't foresee a return to conventional operations soon. Instead, he is planning to focus on buyouts through the fall. The concept might even offer opportunities beyond the conventional summer season: "We are also considering extending the buyout option for this winter, when the hotel is traditionally closed."

From villas to resorts, buyouts are the focus for hospitality this summer

The Cape Arundel Inn isn't an outlier. Many upscale boutique hotels have followed the same strategy throughout the summer or even the entire year. Take Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado. The 12-cabin village in the Rockies has room for 44 people; it now offers buyouts, renting the entire town for $31,000 per night, with a three-night minimum. Or consider Within the Wild, which operates adventure lodges in Southcentral Alaska; those are now available starting at $60,000 per property for three nights – a program the owners dubbed Your Own Private Wilderness.

If you have $250,000 to spare (and an enormous extended family) you could take over the Carneros Resort and Spa in Wine Country, which has more than 100 rooms and two pools on its 28-acre site. Overseas, smaller family groups could consider the eight-room Masseria Trapana.

One of the toniest hotels in Italy's new jetset favorite, Puglia, it is only available on a buyout basis through April 2021. Dior just rented it out for super-influencer Chiara Ferragni when it staged its cruise show in nearby Lecce – a steal at €14,500 per week (around $17,100).

'In a buyout, you'll never have to risk interacting with any other guests'

Island hotels are also an option for guests seeking sunny seclusion — and willing to pay for it.

Consider the British Virgin Islands' Guana Island, which is reopening in October and offers 42 guests the option of self-isolating in barefoot luxury starting at $23,500 per night.

Meanwhile, 69-year Foster Reed, a retired musician from New York's Hudson Valley, plans to take his family and some friends to Golden Rock Inn later this year. Buyouts for the Nevis island resort currently start at $2,860 per night for 22 guests. His neighbors, artists Brice and Helen Marden, just so happen to own the place.

"We were looking for a small place to host my wife's 50th birthday and to celebrate the election," Reed told Business Insider. "It could have been a buyout of a small ranch, or some houses on the Mendocino Coast, but the idea of Golden Rock won out."

Andrei Mocanu is the hotel's general manager alongside his wife Antonia. The idea to offer it as a buyout came to him as the lockdown began in mid-March, and two guests — a doctor from New York and his girlfriend – asked to stay on property for a while. Their request was approved, and they went on to spend six nights on property, clocking up a bill at check-out of $3,600. 

"It was just like a buyout for them: The chef would offer to cook them anything they wanted, and they had a dedicated butler," Mocanu explained. The hotel was locked down soon after the doctor and his girlfriend left, so Mocanu moved on property with his wife and son.

Mocanu and his wife said it's not hard to see how the estate, a former sugar plantation hidden amid lush vegetation on the top of a hill, would be appealing for a self-contained group. "In a post-COVID world, people are going to want to travel more with their friends and family, because they trust them," he explained. "In a buyout, you'll never have to risk interacting with any other guests, or anyone who might have the disease."

Now, the GM has uploaded property tours to Instagram and is planning for a buyout-heavy winter season powered by guests like Foster Reed.

The impact from taking over a hotel can be unexpected

As for Bassichis, he's planning on camping out in a hotel buyout for several more weeks until his group's children need to return to NYC for school.

Over the course of their stay, they became adroit at adapting the property to fit their needs, adding extra drawers to the bedrooms to store more clothes, installing a trampoline by the pool to allow kids to burn off energy, and even turning a corner of the dining room into an arts and crafts station. But after more than six weeks at the Cape Arundel Inn, their extended family bubble moved to a larger sister property, The Lodge on the Cove – again, on a buyout basis.

Their stint as temporary residents in the area has made a lasting impact.

"I will definitely be taking my girls back to this town and the Cape Arundel Inn every summer going forward," Bassichis said. "We can't wait to eat at the restaurant when it opens to the public and see what it's like to stay at the inn with other people. We liked the experience so much that we might even come back with all of our divorced quarantine family, by choice."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former Pence aide says there were private meetings about the possibility of Trump refusing to accept election results

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:50am
  • Oliva Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, said Friday a group of staffers had previously discussed what would happen if President Donald Trump refused to accept the election results in November.
  • Troye, in an interview with CNN, said it's not surprising that Trump would reject a peaceful transfer of power in November.
  • "What if his plan is four more years of Donald Trump should he win, and will he leave after that?" Troye said on CNN.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A former White House aide said it's not surprising that President Donald Trump would reject a peaceful transfer of power in November, adding that she and other staffers have in the past brought up the possibility behind closed doors.

"It's frightening to me because, to be honest, during my tenure at the White House, I've had conversations behind closed doors with White House staffers and other government officials, including people in the intelligence community, where we've actually discussed what if, what if he loses and refuses to leave," said Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence who served on the coronavirus task force.

"Or better yet, what if his plan is four more years of Donald Trump should he win, and will he leave after that?" she said Friday on CNN.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

—The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 25, 2020

 

In recent weeks, the president has refused to commit to accepting the results of the 2020 election and told his supporters that he's "probably entitled" to three terms in the White House.

"We're going to win four more years in the White House," Trump said at a rally. "And then after that, we'll negotiate, right? Because we're probably — based on the way we were treated — we are probably entitled to another four after that."

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, Trump said "I'm not just going to say yes, I'm not going to say no," when asked if he would accept the election results.

On Friday, Trump said he wants "a smooth, beautiful transition," but suggested that he would accept the election only on the condition of "an honest vote."

"The only way we're going to lose is if there's mischief," Trump told supporters at a rally, referring to an unbased potential for "thousands and thousands of ballots that made the difference through cheating." 

Read the original article on Business Insider

An Everlast executive reveals how the 'sport fighting' company is reaching new audiences through buzzy fashion collaborations with brands like Saint Laurent and Urban Outfitters

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:30am
Everlast products are now available at Urban Outfitters.
  • Everlast is expanding its business by betting big on strategic, and often unexpected, partnerships with luxury brands such as Saint Laurent and Gen Z favorites like Urban Outfitters.
  • Though the 110-year-old brand is best known for outfitting and equipping professional boxers, wrestlers, and mixed martial arts athletes, it's finding wider name recognition through experimenting with fashion. 
  • "What's important to us is reaching new communities with products that people think are cool and that really makes people think," said Chris Zoller, Everlast's vice president of marketing and product development.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Everlast is looking to take both its gloves and fighting apparel from the ring to the runway. 

The sporting goods brand has doubled down on fashion and retail partnerships in recent months, part of a long-term strategy to reach new consumers beyond the boxing gym, according to Chris Zoller, Everlast's vice president of marketing and product development.

For Everlast, this has included everything from a series of strategic (and often unexpected) collaborations with luxury brands like Saint Laurent and buzzy streetwear companies like Supreme to retail chains Kmart, Urban Outfitters, and Bloomingdale's.

"This is a big piece of our strategy to not only elevate our brands, but also reach new distribution points," Zoller told business Insider. "The buzz that some of this generates contributes to interest in the market that helps us develop our message even further." 

Everlast's best-known products. From fighting company to full-fledged fashion brand

Taking risks and experimenting with new products has long been woven into Everlast's DNA. Founded in 1910 in the Bronx, the brand got its start as a swimwear company before transitioning into the "sport fighting" category. Its auspicious evolution came thanks to professional boxer Jack Dempsey, who in 1917 asked the then-mom-and-pop shop to make him outfits that could withstand bouts in the ring. 

Over the past century, the company has made a name for itself outfitting everyone from professional mixed martial arts athletes like Benson Henderson and Rory Macdonald to beginning kickboxers. According to Zoller, teaming with buzzy brands and major retailers has been a major priority over the course of the past five years, as a means to grow both its product and customer base. 

"We use [collaborations] to build cool things that you wouldn't normally think we would build as a hundred-year-old company," Zoller said. "Other hundred-year-old companies have a tendency to try to play it safe and just do what they do and do it great. We want to do that also, but what's important to us is reaching new communities with products that people think are cool and that really makes people think." 

One such example is Everlast's capsule collection of high-end boxing pieces launched with Saint Laurent, which debuted in January of this year. Inspired by a famous 1985 portrait series of the artists Jean Basquiat and Andy Warhol in full Everlast gear, the collection features items like a pair of $540 boxing gloves and $220 silk boxing shorts, which are still available on luxury fashion brand's website.  

"We have this history of having this tough exterior, given our fight sports background, but we really try to develop products that can make a meaningful impact on people's lives overall, whether it be equipment or apparel," Zoller said. 

SAINT LAURENT X EVERLAST PHOTOGRAPHED by @michaelhalsband
Exclusively available at SAINT LAURENT RIVE DROITE PARIS - LA #SaintLaurentRiveDroite #RD #YSL
@anthonyvaccarello

A post shared by SAINT LAURENT (@ysl) on Jan 15, 2020 at 11:02am PSTJan 15, 2020 at 11:02am PST

 

Reaching mainstream status

The Saint Laurent collection was just the next step for Everlast, after steadily gaining cred with the fashion set since dropping its very first capsule collection with Supreme in 2008. Over the years, Everlast has gone on to roll out a series of collectible items with the trendy streetwear company, including branded heavy bags and satin hooded boxing robes — all with resale rates well beyond retail value. 

Zoller said Everlast's continued push into the mainstream has in large part been driven by the rise of boxing-inspired boutique fitness studios like Rumble and Title Boxing Club in recent years. 

"[Everlast is becoming] relevant for people that may not be looking to our products to fight or to train to fight. But instead of a happy hour after work, they're going into a group exercise group that's inspired by boxing just to burn calories, be fit, be social, and feel tough and empowered," he said. 

Everlast's popularity has only grown further during the pandemic. Much like its fitness peers, Everlast has experienced a spike in sales demand from the rise of at-home fitness during the pandemic. Zoller declined to share financial details, given Everlast's status as a private company, but he said that sales are "up considerably" at retail partners like Dick's Sporting Goods.

As Everlast 's name recognition reaching new heights, Zoller said the company is hoping it can use its growing popularity to its advantage when it launches its forthcoming streaming fitness platform in February 2021. While still in its nascent stages, the service is expected to operate similarly to competitor models like Peloton and Apple Fitness Plus, that offer virtual classes from athletes and trainers. 

"We're reaching an audience that goes beyond the traditional fight sports fan and it changes a lot of how we message, how we build stories, and how we build products," Zoller said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Stock investors should capitalize on the recent market correction by broadening portfolios beyond just tech, says one top Wall Street strategist

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:25am
  • Tech stocks' time in the spotlight is over, and investors should begin shifts to value stocks and cyclical sectors, James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, said in a recent note.
  • The S&P 500's brief Thursday correction marks "an opportunity to 'broaden your bets'" before valuations rebound, Paulsen said.
  • Money supply growth surged in recent months on the back of Federal Reserve easing and the CARES Act. That trend has preceded economic expansions by 12 months in all eight recessions since 1960, according to the strategist.
  • The cyclical sectors that avoided bankruptcy during coronavirus lockdowns "may currently be positioned with the greatest upside profit leverage," Paulsen said.
  • Still, investors should hold on to some growth positions as their fundamentals remain healthy, he added.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

The S&P 500's brief correction opened the door for a shift to neglected corners of the market, James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, said in a recent note.

The benchmark index fell enough Thursday morning to temporarily sit 10% lower from its early September record. The short-lived correction was made possible by tech-led declines staged over the month. After the high-flying mega-caps pulled major indexes out of their coronavirus-induced losses, investors balked at their lofty valuations and kicked off a wave of profit-taking.

Paulsen now expects cyclical sectors and value names to fuel the market's next upswing. The lagging groups "seem poised to take a more significant leadership role in this bull market," he wrote in a note to clients. The S&P 500's most recent tumble "may represent an opportunity to 'broaden your bets,'" he added.

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 21 stocks on track for years of market-beating growth that could make them future giants — even rivals to the FAANGs

Value and cyclical stocks typically outperform once an economic expansion finds its footing. The market hasn't yet flashed that signal, as tech giants continue to anchor major indexes. Yet potent stimulus efforts and economic data suggest the rotation away from growth names will arrive soon.

Monetary and fiscal policies have a perfect record of ending the US's eight previous recessions within 12 months of their implementation, Paulsen said. Between the Federal Reserve's rapid easing measures and March's CARES Act,  annual money supply growth in 2020 is set to repeat the trend and usher in a strong period of economic growth.

"Given its perfect record of lifting the US economy into a new expansion, and, considering the outsized degree of accommodation being provided today, it seems like a good bet to expect an economic recovery in 2021," Paulsen said.

Though the upcoming recovery will extend the aforementioned record, it's also likely to surpass growth seen in recent history. Analyst estimates for the next four quarters suggest the firms slammed the hardest by the pandemic will surge on the biggest GDP bump of the post-war period, according to Paulsen.

Read more: 'Classic signs of euphoric sentiment': Famed economist David Rosenberg warns that Snowflake-led IPO mania is inflating a market bubble that could soon pop

The cyclical companies that avoided bankruptcy during the coronavirus recession "may currently be positioned with the greatest upside profit leverage," he said.

Consequently, defensive stocks will likely underperform as investors take on more risk and pivot to names rebounding from the coronavirus recession, Paulsen added. Those keeping positions in tech giants will fall significantly behind those who moved cash into value and cyclical bets.

"Their steady-Eddy character is too bond-like during an economic boom," Paulsen said.

Investors shouldn't turn their backs on tech stocks entirely, the strategist noted. Popular members of the group still boast healthy fundamentals, and the coronavirus accelerated several trends set to lift the sector. Market participants should instead diversify holdings with overweight positions in small caps, value stocks, cyclical sectors, and international stocks to best profit from the upcoming expansion period, Paulsen said.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Northwestern Mutual's chief strategist told us the 6 market drivers he's watching most closely amid the volatility — and broke down where he's putting his money over the next 9-12 months

US new-home sales surge to fastest pace since 2006 as housing market shines through pandemic

JPMorgan slashes its forecast for US economic growth amid a lack of new stimulus

Read the original article on Business Insider

Big Law is going through a huge transformation: here's the latest news on pay, hiring, and career prospects

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:23am
The latest news on Big Law hiring, pay, layoffs, and legal tech.

The business of law is going through some major changes. 

Some Big Law firms have made layoffs, others have rolled back compensation cuts that they imposed earlier in the year, and a select few are giving surprises bonuses to overworked first years. Meanwhile, firms are increasingly turning to tech to help boost productivity and cut costs. And aspiring lawyers are facing a lot of uncertainty thanks to virtual learning and a delayed firm recruiting timeline. 

We've been tracking hiring trends and compensation changes at Big Law firms. We've also rounded up the hot practice areas that are helping bolster firm's revenue — and that young lawyers can lean into. Here's the latest. 

CompensationOn-campus recruitingDiploma privilegeHow to get hiredBusiness & practices Big Law careersLayoffsHow Big Law is using legal techDiversity and inclusionRead the original article on Business Insider

These are the key commercial real-estate deals and trends to watch

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:16am
We rounded up the latest news on commercial real-estate deals and trends.

The pandemic threw the real-estate world into disarray, as people emptied out of offices, hotels, and malls and worked from their homes. That disruption has transformed how people and companies finance, operate, and occupy real estate. 

Some big firms have been rethinking office needs — and some commercial real-estate deals were put on ice as financing dries up. Coworking and flex-office firms are struggling under big rent obligations after years of rapid growth.

A surge in e-commerce, meanwhile, is fueling demand for warehouse and cold storage space as companies look for new ways to reach customers. Life-sciences companies are fueling a big boom in demand for lab space. And with the pandemic increasing the amount of food delivery and hurting restaurants' bottom lines, ghost kitchens see an opportunity to grow. 

Still, companies like IBM and Facebook have been pushing ahead with plans for big office spaces, showing that it may be too soon to call and end to the office. Apple has been in talks to grow a Manhattan office that it leased earlier this year. And Amazon Music has just signed on for 40,000 square feet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to use as production and recording space. 

Here's the latest news on how real-estate markets are being upended, and how experts think these markets will play out in the long run. 

Latest real-estate newsFacebook scored a $100 million break on its blockbuster NYC office deal, and it could mark the start of a wave of discounts as vacancies soar

Here's just how much Facebook is paying in rent at the Farley Building.

Giant mall owner Brookfield Properties is ditching its worst locations and redeveloping what's left into 'mini cities' that blend shopping with residential space

The strategy is a continuation of Brookfield's redevelopment of malls that were previously owned by GGP, which the firm acquired in 2018.

Hotel lenders are racing to dump risky loans as the hospitality industry nears a breaking point, with defaults stacking up and high-profile properties starting to shutter

Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies, a New York-based specialty lender, is offering mortgages totaling $503 million that are connected to three hotel properties, the Manhattan at Times Square Hotel and two St. Regis hotels in Washington DC and Miami.

What top investors and dealmakers are sayingTech office dealsRestaurants and ghost kitchensHotels and casinosStudent housingWarehouses and logisticsBrick-and-mortar retail spaceState of the commercial real-estate marketCoworking, coliving, and short-term rentalsThe future of real estateRead the original article on Business Insider

Astronauts are testing NASA's new spacesuits underwater as the agency pushes toward the next moon landing

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:14am
An astronaut uses a hammer underwater in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas.
  • NASA is developing new spacesuits for its planned missions to the moon.
  • Astronauts are testing the spacesuits in a giant pool: the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas.
  • The pool mimics the feeling of microgravity and serves as a training ground for astronauts learning how to do spacewalks. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

NASA is racing to get astronauts back to the moon in 2024. But before that can happen, the agency needs to perfect its spacesuits.

NASA has already designed the new suits that astronauts will wear on its Artemis moon missions. Now it's testing the suits to make sure people can actually walk in them and perform complex tasks, like handling tools and checking equipment.

Many of those tests happen underwater.

At NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas, astronauts-in-training wear spacesuits in a giant pool to simulate what they'll feel like in microgravity.

The pool is 202 feet long, 102 feet wide, and 40.5 feet deep. It contains 6.2 million gallons of water — more than enough to fill nine Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

Chris Cassidy is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Lab for a training session, March 24, 2009.

According to astronauts, the pool does a surprisingly good job of preparing them for space.

"When I did my first spacewalk, shortly after we went out the hatch, the sun set and it got dark, and it felt exactly like I was in the pool," astronaut Nick Hague said on an episode of NASA's "Curious Universe" podcast in April.

An astronaut's training ground

The Neutral Buoyancy Lab is designed to mimic microgravity, rather than zero gravity, because that's what astronauts on the space station experience. The weightlessness they feel comes from being in constant free-fall — the station is essentially falling perpetually in a circle around the Earth.

The pool even contains full-scale mockups of space-station components and the cargo-carrying spacecraft used for resupply missions, like SpaceX's Dragon capsule and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-II Transfer Vehicle. 

"We have experience with [the] space station, but we need to determine how we're going to train the crew for surface operations during these specific missions," Daren Welsh, who's leading the tests, said in a NASA blog.

When training for space-station spacewalks, astronauts typically float around the pool, engaging with the models of different parts of the station. Their suits are weighted to be neutrally buoyant so that they neither sink nor float.

But the moon is different: Unlike the space station, it has a small gravitational pull that's about 1/6 of Earth's. So in exercises and tests related to moon missions, the spacesuits are weighted to make them sink. Astronauts then practice walking across the pool's bottom, which NASA staff cover in rocks and sand to simulate lunar ground.

Underwater, the astronauts practice planting a flag, picking up rocks, and examining a lunar lander spacecraft.

Astronauts examine a flag placed in sand, one of a series of exercises being prepared for the Artemis Mission at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas.

NASA hasn't officially selected the astronauts for its Artemis missions yet, but this kind of practice is essential both for testing the spacesuits and training the people who may eventually walk on the moon. Traversing the rocky, uneven lunar surface in low gravity is tricky. Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt learned that the hard way in 1972, when he took a few tumbles during a moonwalk.

 

Going forward, astronauts will also need to learn how to swing a chisel safely in lunar gravity to make sure it doesn't hit someone or fly away. They will also need to prepare for the light conditions on the moon's South Pole, where crews might conduct moon-walks. The lighting there is more extreme than at the sites where Apollo missions landed – some areas are almost permanently bright, whereas others are nearly always in shadow. 

In addition to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, NASA staff are also developing moon-walk trainings in the Johnson Space Center's rock yard, a large outdoor area that mimics the moon's rocky, sloping terrain.

The Artemis program still needs $28 billion An artist's concept of NASA astronauts returning to the surface of the moon.

The Artemis program consists of three proposed missions to start: First, an Orion spaceship would orbit the moon without any passengers, then it would carry an astronaut crew into lunar orbit on a flyby mission. After that, astronauts would land on the moon. 

This all hinges, however, on funding. NASA has asked Congress for a total of $28 billion over the next four years.  Most immediately, NASA is asking Congress for $3.2 billion for its Human Landing System, which would ferry humans from the Orion spacecraft to the moon's surface and back.

So far, the House of Representatives has only approved about $630 million in additional funds. However, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he hopes the agency can secure the full total after the November election.

"If we can have that done before Christmas, we're still on track for a 2024 moon landing," he said earlier this week.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Consumer and fan expectations are forcing the NBA, the NHL, and Nike to see brand activism as good for business

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:10am
Sports fans and consumers are now expecting brands to take a stance.
  • Consumers are quick to notice when brands don't take a stand in activism, especially in today's political climate. 
  • Players in major sports, including the NBA, NHL, and ATP, are ramping up activism by boycotting games as an act of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Brands like Nike, Google, and Lyft are also more increasingly participating in activism, but some people believe their efforts are driven by marketing ploys rather than genuine empathy for social issues. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

So-called brand activism is evolving fast. When Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the US national anthem in 2016, professional football turned its back on him. Now, consumer and sports fan expectations are forcing brands to see activism as good for business.

According to a recent Nielsen survey, 72% of sports fans believe athletes are an important influence in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. A whopping 59% expect athletes to engage personally with BLM activism.

In short, if brands aren't taking a stand (or a knee), consumers notice.

Sporting codes have woken up to the benefits of strategically targeting a younger, more racially-diverse demographic. As National Hockey League (NHL) executive vice president for social impact Kim Davis put it: "People understand that doing the right thing is also right for the business."

After the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police, however, that activism ramped up. Players from most major professional sports protested by refusing to play at all.

Brand activism cuts both ways

It began with local NBA team the Milwaukee Bucks, whose own player Sterling Brown had been brutally beaten by police in 2018. Having refused to take the court for a playoff game, the team's actions were picked up by social media and the no-play protest spread to other sports.

The backlash and praise were immediate, with the Bucks becoming the most mentioned brand on social media that week.

There were asymmetric effects for the team brand: a clear drop in brand sentiment from those who disagreed with their stand, and a surge of brand love driven by the backlash.

Whereas brands might once have avoided controversy, there is now a clear case for taking a stand — as the NHL discovered when it continued to play while other sports "went dark." The backlash from fans and players alike forced the cancellation of two days' play.

Similarly, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) took a stand by not playing for one day after player Naomi Osaka threatened not to compete in the Western & Southern Open semifinals in Cincinnati. She explained: "Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis."

Osaka went on to win the US Open, and was praised for donning protective face masks with the names of seven black people killed by police. There was also criticism that a one-day break in play, without further commitment, did little to further the BLM cause.

But accusations of virtue signalling and woke washing put the ATP between a rock and a hard place. If tennis officials hadn't engaged in some way with the moment, they risked being called out for insensitivity (as were the NHL and some cricket teams).

In business we trust

It may not be surprising that brand activism is increasingly being driven by consumers demanding they take a stand (and condemning those who don't), as some studies now show businesses are more trusted than government.

We may be reaching a point where it is more surprising to consumers when brands don't take a stand on social issues than when they do.

In 2018, consumers responded extremely positively to Nike's now-iconic Black Lives Matter campaign with Colin Kaepernick. Now the brand has an established pro-social reputation, however, the response to recent anti-racism action has been more muted.

Nike's You Can't Stop Us campaign and its declaration of Juneteenth as an annual paid company holiday have been met with a positive but noticeably milder reaction from consumers.

Surprise is no longer a strategy

Nike was just one of many brands to declare Juneteenth a holiday in the US (along with Google, Lyft, The New York Times, JCPenney, the NFL, Tumblr, and Postmates). As our research suggests, such acts are simply not as surprising in 2020 as they once were.

As brand activism becomes more widespread, consumers' appreciation of it also becomes more sophisticated — to the point where it is a key component of brand loyalty.

However, while consumers expect brands to take a stand, many also believe social issues are used too often as a marketing ploy.

The challenge for brands is clear: Practice what you preach, make a real difference, pay more than lip service to causes. Staying relevant has never been harder.

Jessica Vredenburg, senior lecturer (assistant professor) in marketing, Auckland University of Technology; Amanda Spry, lecturer of marketing, RMIT University; Joya Kemper, lecturer in marketing, and Sommer Kapitan, senior lecturer in marketing, Auckland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Read the original article on Business Insider

7 steps to successfully merge finances with your significant other

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 9:05am
A compatible financial plan involves planning and setting goals for your future life together.
  • When it comes to combining finances with your significant other, it's critical to determine a budget and discuss your long-term financial goals.
  • Set goals early and often, and map out a plan that includes joint accounts for shared essentials and separate accounts for more "fun" purchases. 
  • You'll likely experience major life changes as the years go by, so regularly revisit your combined finances to reassess and adjust. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I like to tell the story that on my first date with my now-husband, I decided I was really into him based on two topics in our meandering conversation: old limos with blue velvet interiors and spreadsheets. Little did I know, but that conversation would be an analogy for our discussions two years later while combining finances. 

I'm the free-spirit who enjoys buying cheap and quirky things that I don't mind losing when they wear out quickly or I get tired of them… Meanwhile, my husband Ryan is the finance guru who prefers to save up and buy something expensive that lasts — and then take damn good care of it to ensure that happens. How in the world were we going to make this work? 

"[W]e almost always marry our financial opposite," David Bach, author of "Smart Couples Finish Rich," told Forbes. "You're either born to save or you're born to spend, and financial opposites attract. That can lead to enormous power struggles and trust issues and regular fights." 

But it doesn't have to be that way. We have had our share of "discussions" (okay, sure, a few would be more accurately categorized as fights), but fast-forward three years and I'd say we've got a good routine going for us. And wonder of wonders, most of the time, combining finances is actually fun! But when we make our budget, set goals, and meet them, it often feels like we've summited a mountain to find a party in our honor. 

So, how did we get from there to successfully combining finances? We were older when we met and both had established careers, so we had the luxury of combining two good incomes. Not everyone has that. But these basic principles can help you start wherever you are.

Set goals for your happily ever after

We started with the big conversations. What do we want retirement to look like? What do we want our lives to be like between now and then? Are we having kids? In a lot of ways, this was taking advantage of the normal desire to plan our lives together, but we put numbers to everything and came up with workable financial plans. 

Take advantage of combined income right away

We'd just become DINKs (dual income, no kids) and wanted to take advantage of the excess income while it was new and focus on combining finances that way, too. Since our goals included providing for JJ+RW=4eva, we started by estimating what we'd need for retirement and putting as much as we could afford toward that goal. We both increased contributions to our 401(k)s and opened a brokerage account that would give us more flexibility if we wanted to retire early. Then we calculated how much we'd need in emergency savings and started adding to that as well. 

Focus on the essentials

Moving in together decreased our expenditures, so we mapped out our new reality with budget categories for the essentials. This sparked conversations that weren't nearly as fun as daydreaming about all the trips we'd take in retirement. Is Ryan's monthly haircut essential? What about my weekly lunches with friends? They sure seem essential to me. The electric bill was easy enough to agree on, but we went round and round about some of the categories. As a way to mitigate some of this, we moved on to step four. 

Focus on the fun

We each opened (or kept) individual accounts for "fun money," one of the ways we strayed away from couples finances. A portion of our paychecks are directly deposited into these accounts and we spend them however we like. Some of the contested categories for essentials (and an accompanying amount) were moved to this section. For instance, if either of us buys a meal when we're not dining together, it comes from fun money. 

Plan for "extra" money

Ryan gets bonuses through his company with some regularity, and I do side gigs of various sorts. Initially, we didn't factor these things into our budgets and disagreements arose about how to handle them. Eventually, we agreed on a percentage: 25% of any money outside of our normal paychecks goes to our individual accounts, and the remaining 75% goes to the joint account. We categorized the extra income as a "reward" of sorts, so it feels like that to the awardee. However, all that "extra" adds up, and we didn't want to fritter that away. 

Revisit regularly

In the last three years, we've had a kid and bought a bigger house, both of which come with plenty of ways to spend money. At least every six months, we look at the budget and recalibrate our categories. Are we overspending on dining out? (Not right now!) Have we finished paying off this item we bought on 0% financing? We also revisit when we need to make big decisions, like do we put our son in daycare part-time or full-time, or can we afford to do that remodel we've talked about? 

Have fun

We've had our fair share of fights about money, but overall, it's a fun way for us to connect. We use it as an opportunity to revisit our dreams, make new ones and accomplish goals together. 

Read the original article on Business Insider


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