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The latest news from Life

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    • Luxury watches and private yachts are obvious status symbols, but there are so many other subtle, and in some cases, particularly odd, ways to flaunt wealth.
    • In some US cities, you may be able to decipher a person's social position by the size of their family, the animals in their backyard, and even how many digits are on their license plate.


    People have found obscure ways to flaunt their social position for centuries.

    Before sports cars and luxury gym memberships came along, Americans demonstrated their wealth by snapping selfies, although not the kind we take today. Shortly after the X-ray was invented in 1895, the rich couldn't wait to snag a radiographic machine of their own. They would snap photos of their jewelry-clad bones with at-home X-ray machines they scored from the black market.

    And while the days of smuggling X-ray machines are long gone, Americans now try to impress each other in different ways: by always having the newest iPhone, wearing the most expensive watch, or exclusively sporting Lululemon to spin class. But more unexpected status symbols abound in the US.

    Here are seven ways Americans around the country show their social status:

    SEE ALSO: The top 10 most expensive watches sold by Christie's in 2018, ranked

    Silicon Valley: Urban chickens

    Not all status symbols are glamorous. Take, for instance, Silicon Valley's latest hipster trend. According to The Washington Post, tech industry leaders have started housing chickens in their backyards.

    While keeping livestock has historically been the thriftiest way of putting food on the table, these egg-laying hens are fed gourmet meals and sometimes even sport diapers around the house.

    Chicago: Canada Goose coats

    One fail-proof way to show people that you have money is to wear extreme, expedition-ready outerwear in the city. It's a widespread phenomenon, but Chicagoans are partial to the notoriously expensive brand Canada Goose, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    Sure, the Windy City can feel like the Arctic Tundra sometimes, but could its finicky climate possibly warrant wearing a $1,000 parka suited for Antarctica? Probably not.

    Los Angeles: The costs of Scientology courses

    If you've seen or heard of Leah Remini's docuseries "Scientology and the Aftermath," then you're familiar with the controversies of the religion that Tom Cruise and John Travolta follow. According to Remini's series, Scientology is not only a secretive religion, but also an expensive one.

    The courses, books, and therapy required to join the church allegedly cost thousands, which only the rich and famous can afford, according to the series. It's no surprise why Los Angeles, with its affluent stars, has been called the "Scientology Capital of the World."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    man worried nervous thinking listening

    • Not everyone is suited to owning a business– and that's OK.
    • Some people don't have an entrepreneurial mindset, and there are clear signs that you're not ready to start a company, according to Uptima Business Bootcamp cofounder Rani Langer-Croager.
    • There are also some practical matters you should have in order, particularly your finances.

    Despite the entrepreneurial hype of the Silicon Valley era, not everyone is suited to owning a business— and that's OK.

    "Starting and growing a business takes a lot of energy. It's very risky," Rani Langer-Croager, the cofounder of Uptima Business Bootcamp, told Business Insider.

    There's no shame if you are happier as an employee, as some people don't have an entrepreneurial mindset. Though you can develop entrepreneurial traits, your business would need to be something "that you can't not do," according to Langer-Croager.

    From issues of risk appetite to matters of personal finance, Langer-Croager shared eight signs you might want to keep your day job, at least for now.

    SEE ALSO: 8 things that could increase your chances of being audited, and how to avoid them

    1. You have a low appetite for risk

    Here's the harsh reality of starting a business: around 70% of startups are no longer in business by year 10, according to Fundera.

    Even if your product or service is fantastic, there are a host of snags you can hit, from running out of money to running out of steam. To deal with this risk, "every entrepreneur should go into this with their own timeline" for when they expect the business to turn a profit — and pay its founder a salary.

    This timeline should be "tied to their own financial wellbeing," Langer-Croager said. In other words, figure out how long you can afford to allow your business to grow without getting something back from it, knowing that there's a chance your startup might never turn a profit. She said that doing so "makes managing that risk a little easier."  

    2. You have a "scarcity mindset"

    "People who are in a scarcity mindset think there aren't enough opportunities or resources for them," Langer-Croager said. This can result in a sense of desperation that can lead you to pursue avenues that hurt your business, rather than holding out for better opportunities. This is a pitfall even for seasoned business owners during down times, she said.

    "Working on your own relationship with money and knowing that relationship might be deep-rooted" may be necessary to remove this obstacle to becoming your own boss, according to Langer-Croager.

    3. You need a quick profit

    Small Business Trends reported only 40% of startups actually turn a profit and 82% of small business failures are tied to cash-flow problems.

    It can take years for your business to become profitable enough to pay yourself a living wage, Langer-Croager noted. "If you're trying to make cash quickly, you're going to put a lot of pressure on the business that's not going to allow it to grow the way it needs to grow," she said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Making friends

    • Making friends as an adult can be difficult.
    • As we get older, life changes can affect existing friendships, and adulthood can make forging new ones harder than it was in adolescence.
    • But it is possible to make new friends in adulthood with a few simple steps.
    • It's a process that requires repetitiondisclosure, and some initiative on your behalf.

    It's akin to how salmon feel when swimming upstream. Trying to keep in touch with your buddies post-college, much less forging new friendships, is difficult, exhausting, and sometimes futile.

    But it's not just you.

    An analysis of a whopping 177,000 people found that friend groups expand until about age 25, after which they shrink like a sweater in the dryer. Additionally, a national survey conducted in 1985 found the most commonly reported number of confidants was three. Fast-forward several decades, and that number has dwindled to zero. That's right, zero.

    Whether as a result of parenthood, divorce, moving to a new city, or simply focusing on family and career, having to make new friends doesn't end on the playground. It is a task and a skill that we revisit time and time again throughout life.

    When it comes to making friends, semantics reveal an important detail: We make friends. Making a friend isn't luck or chance: It's a process, which is actually good news. You don't have to wait for the stars to align; instead, with three factors — repetition, disclosure, and some initiative — we can give the stars a nudge.

    1. Be a regular

    There's a prevailing sense that having shared interests — a love of bocce, Democratic politics, or Argentine tango —  precedes a friendship. And while a mutual love of David Lynch films can't hurt, the true magic ingredient is considerably less sexy than shared interests: repetition.

    spin classTo have the best shot at friendship, we have to interact with the same person again and again. One study illustrated this fact perfectly: 44 state police trainees, when asked to name their closest friends, chose those who fell next to them in alphabetical order of seating.

    Another classic study of friends in a university apartment building found that the most popular individuals were simply those who lived in the most highly-trafficked areas: the foot of the stairwells.

    Therefore, think about how to see the same people on a regular basis. Rule out drop-ins, like one-time meetups or special events, and look for  activities where the same core people show up every day or every week, like going to the the local dog park, choral group practice, Thursday night running group, or anywhere you can be a "regular."

    The bottom line? Keep showing up. Commit to any new activity for at least a few months. Conventional wisdom holds that six to eight  conversations — beyond "Hey, how's it going?" — are necessary before people consider us a friend.

    2. Talk about yourself 

    For the shy among us, answering questions that come with meeting new people can be torture: 'And what do you do for work? Where are you from? What brought you to this city?'

    But it can be just as  frustrating for our conversation partner to have to interrogate us.

    people talking

    Therefore, experiment with sharing the details of your life and inner workings more freely. If you're shy or socially anxious, experiment with initiating and offering more than usual.

    This might feel wrong, as if you're talking too much, being annoying, or making it about you, but if you're known for being reticent, give yourself permission to stretch and grow. Research shows what draws others in is disclosure, specifically that which is "sustained, escalating, reciprocal, and personalistic."

    Whether you're an introvert, extrovert, or anywhere in between, telling someone the details of your life sparks them to share with you, which in turn brings you closer.

    Even the most banal small talk can be made personal. Talking about traffic can be a disclosure: "I prefer to ride my bike because it's so much faster, but I draw the line when it's raining like this." "Traffic was horrible, but '2 Dope Queens' got me through as usual." "The construction on Broadway is nuts — I could barely get to my favorite donut place." You're still talking about traffic, but you've also laid the groundwork of conversation by giving them a topic or two to riff off.

    3. Be the conversation starter

    It's not your imagination that people seem busy and noncommittal when it comes to making new friends. But as long as you get some basic friendliness (no grunting and staring at their phone when you say hello), try this mindset: Assume that they like you, and act in kind.

    making friends

    Unapologetically brighten when you see them. Share a little bit of your life. Don't wait for them to initiate the "hello," or suggest trying the new ramen place — be the reason the conversation starts.

    In my experience as a clinical psychologist, pretty much everyone is secretly scared of getting rejected. So initiate. They'll be relieved and you'll be on your way to those six-to-eight conversations.

    There's no doubt about it: It's tough to cut through the busyness and ambivalence of life to meet new friend after we've tossed our mortarboards. But don't despair: the stardust that is potential friendship is all around us. Interaction by interaction, disclosure by disclosure, initiation by initiation, we really can, as the Girl Scout song reminds us, make new friends.

    Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, award-winning host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, and author of How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. Follow her @ellenhendriksen.

    SEE ALSO: A clinical psychologist shares the simple strategy she gives her clients to help them get better at public speaking

    DON'T MISS: 4 ways to make small talk without seeming awkward or boring

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Barbara Corcoran on Donald Trump: 'He is the best salesman I've ever met in my life'

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    • ClassPass is offering a free month-long trial— double their standard trial period offer.
    • With the trial, you can go to up to six boutique fitness classes in January for $0. 
    • It's the perfect way to jump-start that New Year's resolution.
    • Find out how ClassPass works below.

    ClassPass is a relatively inexpensive way to drop into boutique fitness classes in your area without any commitment or membership. You pay a monthly ClassPass fee and get credits, and you use those credits to sign up online for classes that pique your interest: boxing, yoga, cycling, weight training, martial arts, pilates, and a seemingly never-ending list of others.

    And, since budget-friendly options can often mean second-rate options, it’s nice to know ClassPass typically features top-tier studios, including a majority of the fitness classes you’ve likely heard of or have actually been meaning to try.

    Right now, ClassPass is offering a free month-long trial for the new year.

    Their standard offer is typically two weeks. You can take up to six classes during your free month, and you can cancel your membership whenever. If you don’t cancel, though, you’ll be auto-enrolled in a monthly membership.

    Screen Shot 2018 12 27 at 12.11.19 PM

    Here’s how ClassPass typically works:

    1. After your free trial, you pay a monthly membership fee that’s based on your city and how many classes you want to take each month. For reference, the lowest tier membership starts at $15, though you should expect to pay something closer to $59 (the rate in cities like Minneapolis) to $79 (the rate in New York City) per month for five to eight classes. That works out to be about $7-$12 per class in Minneapolis or $10-$16 in New York.
    2. Use the app or online site to book yourself in one of the thousands of participating fitness classes in your area. Every class has a different credit value, and you can book in advance or last-minute—even up to five minutes before it starts when you use the mobile app.
    3. Add more credits anytime if you use yours up.

    The perks are plentiful. You pay as much as 50% less per month for multiple specialized fitness classes (for comparison, a single class can normally run for $30), you can get class recommendations and read reviews so you know what’s good before you try it, and you can stream workouts from home if you’re not up to leaving the house. You don’t have to buy class packs or commit to a membership that penalizes you if you decide in February that you’re really not interested in getting into fitness in 2019.

    Plus, the versatility means working out can actually be fun and engaging — and you can rope friends into trying out new classes with you, in the hopes that you’ll discover you actually love something like martial arts but just never knew it. And if you’re traveling, you can switch your account location and use ClassPass wherever you are (given you're in one of the 80 participating cities). 

    The risks you run, depending on the city, are popular classes booking up quickly, falling in love with a high-credit class, needing to buy more credits because you exercised too much that month (is this really a bad thing, though?), or paying for a month and never using the credits. If you end the month with a bunch of unused credits, you can use them on the considerably higher credit spa treatments ClassPass also offers. Otherwise, up to 10 credits roll over each month. And if you love a workout spot that isn’t listed, submit it as a recommendation to ClassPass.

    You can go to most studios an unlimited times per month (or per “cycle”), though it’s possible more credits will be charged if you go often, in which case you’ll see a message explaining the change.

    Overall, ClassPass is ideal for relatively inexpensive access to variety and top fitness classes. But, with a month to try it, you don’t have much to lose. If you’re thinking about trying it, now is a good time. 

    Sign up for your free month-long trial of ClassPass here

    SEE ALSO: 90+ of the best end-of-year sales on the internet — from big-box retailers to your favorite small startups

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    hims main

    • Though millions of men suffer from male pattern baldness, it's still a sensitive topic that many aren't willing to seek help for or discuss openly. 
    • Direct-to-consumer company Hims sells hair loss products like finasteride and minoxidil (the generic formulations of Propecia and Rogaine) at better prices and with a friendlier, modern approach, so guys don't have to feel ashamed or embarrassed about finding hair loss solutions. 
    • With a one-time $5 medical consultation and $44 per month complete hair kit subscription, men will be on their way to regaining their hair and their confidence. 

    Hair loss is a regular, common part of life. By age 35, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of hair loss and by age 50, approximately 85% will experience noticeably thinning hair. Men in their 20s aren't invincible from this hereditary and hormonal condition, also known as male pattern baldness or Androgenic alopecia, either. 

    Although online forums like r/tressless offer some reprieve for men seeking support and guidance for everything from pharmaceutical solutions to the emotional effects of hair loss, it seems that many men still aren't talking about it enough to each other or their doctors. 

    That's not surprising —  hair is linked strongly to self-image, confidence, and identity, so hair loss is a tough topic to broach. In speaking to friends experiencing hair loss in their 20s, I learned the importance of hair isn't something you realize until you find yourself trying to avoid taking pictures or fending off insensitive jokes and questions from friends and relatives. 

    hims hair loss

    When faced with noticeable hair loss, some guys choose to take the plunge and go bald, which is a great route to go if they're comfortable with it. But others would prefer to keep their hair for various reasons, and that's completely fine, too.

    For the guys who opt for the latter, online startup Hims wants to help.

    Through its modern aesthetic, friendly, yet transparent messaging, and affordable hair loss products, Hims is assuring men that it's okay to acknowledge insecurities like hair loss and actively seek the help they want. 

    hims minoxidil

    Hims offers three main products to treat male balding. These make up The Rx Hair Kit ($44/month): 

    1. Finasteride pills: An FDA-approved medication that blocks dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that binds to hair follicles and makes them shrink, then fall out. Its brand name equivalents are Propecia and Proscar. 
    2. Minoxidil drops: An FDA-approved topical solution used once or twice a day to help regrow hair by increasing blood flow to hair follicles. Rogaine is the popular brand name equivalent. 
    3. Shampoo: A special formulation that reduces DHT levels and adds volume to hair. 

    hims complete hair kit

    Working together, these pills, drops, and shampoo actively prevent hair loss, promote hair growth, and simply make hair look good. Their consistent use is made convenient through Hims' automatic subscription option.

    Finasteride is a prescription product, so you'll need to pay $5 for an online medical consultation with a licensed doctor before proceeding. At this time, Hims' finasteride is available in 18 states. Minoxidil and the shampoo do not require prescriptions and can ship anywhere in the US. 

    Because Hims is direct-to-consumer, its products cost 50% to 80% less than their retail cost, addressing affordability and accessibility problems that may have previously prevented men from trying hair loss solutions. Cost isn't the only differentiator. Hims' frequently updated blog offers open, informative discussions that educate men on the science and issues surrounding hair loss.

    hims mens wellness

    The company hopes that this combination of cheaper products and better education can get men to feel more comfortable with the difficult, deeply personal topic of early hair loss. Hims' guiding philosophy is that prevention is more effective than denial. The sooner you're open to trying solutions, the better off your hair (and the accompanying confidence levels) will be. 

    In addition to hair loss products, it also offers skin-care and sexual wellness products, making Hims a general wellness brand for any man looking to improve themselves in areas that are all too often — to the detriment of both himself and other men — whispered about discreetly rather than discussed transparently. 

    Shop hair loss products at Hims here

    Shop all men's wellness products at Hims here

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Costco Business Center

    • Shoppers love Costco for its low prices, bulk products, and, of course, free samples. 
    • Costco memberships come with many perks. But the store can be time-consuming to shop at, and it's hard to know when you're getting the best deals.
    • Here are ways to save time and money while shopping at Costco. 

    Shoppers love Costco for its low prices, bulk products, and, of course, free samples. 

    The membership-based warehouse store can be an overwhelming maze of discounts and deals. The retailer charges $60 annually for a basic membership and $120 for an executive membership.  

    Costco memberships come with many perks, including cheap gas, vacation deals, and discounts on prescription medication. The store also offers plenty of savings opportunities on top of its already low prices, like coupons and "warehouse savings." 

    Even though Costco offers a lot of great deals, it can be tricky to weed through them to find the best ones. Plus, Costco is known for its massive lines and hectic shopping experience. 

    Some tricks to know include looking at the price tags to see if a markdown is final, splitting bulk deals with friends or family, and heading to the center of the store to find the best deals. 

    Here are more ways to save time and money while shopping at Costco: 

    SEE ALSO: We compared Amazon and Costco prices to see which company offers better deals. Here's the verdict.

    Make a beeline to the center of the store.

    The flashy displays in the front of the store may be fun, but they're likely more expensive. Head to the center of the store to find some of the best deals. 

    Keep an eye out for the "star."

    If an item has an asterisk on the price tag, it will not be restocked. Make sure to buy it while you can. 

    Split bulk items with friends or family.

    Buying in bulk offers major savings, but you may not have the storage space for everything. If you split bulk items, you and a friend can both see major savings, without being weighed down by having more than you need. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    new year's resolutions

    • INSIDER polled more than 1,000 people living in the US about New Year's resolutions, specifically how long they should last. 
    • Most Americans agree that, if you're going to resolve to try something new in 2019, you should try to stick to it for at least a few months. 
    • That advice squares well with what scientists know about behavior change, but they also say it's best to start small and be specific.

    On New Year's Eve, when spirits are bright, it can feel like a hopeful moment to pin one's ambitions on being a far better person in 2019. The truth, however, is a bit bleaker. We often aim too high with our new year's goals, with 80% of people failing New Year's resolutions by February.

    But still, year after year, we continue to make (and break) these goals. Perhaps because we think we can make it last a little longer. 

    To get a sense for how long people think resolutions should last, INSIDER, a sister publication of Business Insider, asked more than 1,000 Americans "how many months is it reasonable to expect someone to keep a New Year's resolution?" 

    Here's a month-by-month breakdown of their expectations, and some tips to help you stick to your goals for longer than what others might expect. 


    SEE ALSO: How to actually make and keep New Year's resolutions, according to a behavioral scientist

    94% of respondents said people should keep their resolutions for at least one month.

    The type of resolution you make could play a part in the success rate. Yale psychology Professor John Bargh previously told Business Insider that the most successful resolutions are small, reasonable changes that we can seamlessly incorporate into existing daily routines.

    He says you shouldn't even try to bust a big bad habit or start a new regimen unless you really, really want to, because otherwise the resolution likely won't stick. Behavior change is hard. 


    By the end of February, 22% of people have decided it's OK to give up on new habits.

    Still, a majority of Americans — 86% — say it's best to keep chipping away at your New Year's goals.

    To maintain new behaviors, psychology professor Wendy Wood at the University of Southern California says you should put them into practice in routine, easy-to-follow ways. In other words, if you make a New Year's resolution a habit or daily reflex, it's more likely to stick.

    78% of those surveyed think it's still a good idea to maintain new year's ambitions at the three-month mark.

    But by the end of March, 35% of respondents think it's fine if your resolutions have gone by the wayside. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    woman laptop online banking

    • These days, it's easier than ever to handle all your banking needs without ever visiting a branch.
    • With the ability to deposit checks by taking a photo with your phone, and to use virtually any ATM, being near a physical branch is no longer a requirement when choosing a bank.
    • Here's what you need to know about online-only banking — and why it might be right for you.

    As one of the cool kids at school, I started a coin collection in fifth grade. I remember going on trips to the bank with my mom for rolls of coins to sort through, looking at dates and years to fill in the slots in my blue coin-collecting albums. That, alongside my parents owning a business, sent me on many trips to local banks. But over time, my number of visits to the bank have dropped to zero.

    These days, I stick with an online-only bank as my primary bank. I don't have a single branch available. While it seemed strange at first, it was easy to grow accustomed to.

    Let's look at the pros and cons to help you better understand if you could survive with online-only banking.

    Online account offers from our partners:

    How online-only banking works

    With online-only banking, you are the teller and new accounts representative for yourself. Instead of going into a bank branch, you handle your own banking transactions from your computer or smartphone — like you could with many traditional banks, too.

    Online banking uses secured connections, so as long as you use strong, unique passwords, it's totally safe to bank online. The best accounts allow you to deposit checks from your phone, transfer funds to or from any account at any bank with no fees, pay bills online, and avoid fees common to traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

    As long as you get paid via direct deposit or check, as opposed to cash, online banking should easily meet all of your financial needs. Now, let's take a more detailed look at how some of the features work so you understand how the replace your old banking experience.

    Managing your money with mobile banking

    You don't need to go to any specific place when you have an online bank. Instead, every online bank uses a website and offers a mobile app to handle your banking wherever you are. It doesn't matter if you're on the way out of work, sitting on the couch at home, or standing on the beach on vacation, you can log in and manage your banking with a few taps on your screen.

    Once logged in, you can view balances, pay bills, make transfers, and deposit a check with a photo. If you have other accounts at the same bank, such as credit cards, loans, or investments, you can manage and make transfers to those accounts as well.

    With online banking, it is easy to have all of your accounts under one roof. But even if you don't, it's easy to manage everything through convenient mobile apps.

    Learn more: The best credit cards to open in 2018, according to The Points Guy

    Cash and online banking

    The only real downsides of online banking are losing the in-person banking option and depositing cash with a teller. If you have a job where you are paid mostly in cash or tips, like a restaurant server or valet parking attendant, online-only banking probably isn't viable for you.

    Taking cash out of an online bank account, though, is easy. Most online banks charge no fees for any ATM access, and some reimburse fees charged by other banks' ATMs. Some popular accounts that offer no-fee ATM access include Ally Bank (up to $10 per month reimbursed) and Charles Schwab Bank (unlimited reimbursements).

    To deposit cash, you may want to consider pairing your online banking account with a favorite local credit union. Most credit unions offer a basic no-fee checking and savings option, which you can use to deposit cash and transfer to or from your online bank account.

    Even online banks that don't charge fees usually offer a large network of free ATMs. Through memberships in various banks networks, Capital One (39,000 free ATMs), Discover Bank (60,000 free ATMs), and others typically have a convenient location near your work or home.

    Expect better interest rates and lower fees

    Traditional banks spend a lot of money on human tellers and fancy branch locations. They tend to pass those costs on to customers in the form of fees and less favorable interest rates. If you are willing to give up the human on the other side of the desk or counter, you can save a bundle.

    For example, most big banks charge huge fees for overdrafts. Online banks charge lower fees, if any. Capital One gives you four options for how to handle overdrafts to help you avoid or manage fees. Simple and Chime don't charge those fees at all — in fact, the only fee online bank Simple charges is for foreign debit card use. Otherwise, you won't pay them a cent. Ever.

    Capital One and Ally typically stand at the top of the leaderboards in terms of interest rates, but other online banks don't lag far behind. Online savings rates are commonly around 20x better than what you get from the big, nationwide traditional banks.

    Learn more: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks in 2018

    Does online-online banking make sense for you?

    If the idea of better interest rates, lower fees, and managing your own banking online is tempting to you, online banking may be the right choice.

    To get started, you can keep an old account in addition to your new online account, slowly shifting your banking. Alternatively, you can get an online account and keep a local credit union account for physical banking needs. The truly bold dive in without looking back.

    Online banking may feel new to you, but it has been around since the early 1980s. It's safe and secure and the future of managing money. As long as you don't need to regularly deposit cash, online-online banking may be a great decision for your money needs.

    Online account offers from our partners:



    Click here for more Insider Picks personal finance stories

    SEE ALSO: How automated saving and investing really works — and why more of us should be doing it

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    Ecovacs Robot Vacuum

    • Ecovacs is back at it with its latest robotic vacuum, the $350 Deebot 711.
    • This may just be my favorite robot vacuum yet, with its Smart Navi Mapping Technology, 110-minute battery life, and ability to double the suction power on command.
    • If you're looking for a way to spend more time doing things other than vacuuming, this is one product that you need in your life.

    To convince members of your household to fight over the privilege of vacuuming your home, you'll need a very special vacuum indeed.

    That special vacuum may just come in the form of the newest robotic offering from Ecovacs. Because let's face it — the only way to inject excitement into cleaning the house is to eject any and all effort associated with the task. As it turns out, the new Deebot 711 is capable of doing just that.

    The Ecovacs family of vacuums has long been a customer (and Business Insider) favorite. They're some of the best-selling robots on Amazon, and back in June, we just couldn't get enough of the Ecovacs Deebot 900, a $400 smart vacuum that cut cleaning time in half. But now, the team has come out with yet another iteration of its popular cleaning assistant, and this one is $50 cheaper and just as effective.

    The Deebot 711 is a sleek little vacuum that adopts the same circular shape that you've likely come to expect from the robotic cleaners. Its black finish gives it a slightly more modern and sophisticated edge, but the aesthetics of the 711 are far less important than its other attributes. What I've been most impressed by in my few weeks with the new Deebot is its ability to map my home and quickly learn which areas are most in need of cleaning. That's thanks to the robot's Smart Navi Mapping Technology, which not only helps it adapt to any environment with ease, but also helps it to avoid bumping into furniture or avoid falling down stairs.

    While other robot vacuums I've used have taken some time to determine where in the world (or room) they really are before getting to work, the Deebot 711 is surprisingly efficient at scanning its surroundings and beginning to move. Plus, rather than learning to avoid furniture by first hitting it, the Deebot does a great job circumventing obstacles.

    The Smart Navi Mapping Technology is capable of creating an optimized and systematic cleaning path that covers up to 1300 square feet, which makes it more than enough for at least one floor of your home (if not your whole home). Many other robot vacuums I've tried seem to clean by trial and error, randomly moving around a room with hopes that they'll ultimately reach every corner. The Deebot 711, on the other hand, seems much more regimented — or dare I say, more human — in its cleaning.

    Thanks to the Deebot's compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant, you can begin cleaning simply by telling the robot to do so. Either use a voice command or download the companion smartphone app to start the cleaning process, and you'll be able to spend your time doing more important things. Of course, if you'd like to exercise a bit more control over the cleaning process, you can use the app to direct the robot, or schedule a cleaning. You can also ask for status updates while you're away so that you know exactly what the Deebot has and hasn't done.

    ECOVACS image

    One of my favorite features of the Deebot 711 is the maximum power suction mode, which doubles the suction power of the machine and helps it take care of tough stains like dirt and grime on either hardwood or carpeted floors. Plus, the Deebot features two specialized cleaning modes — edge and spot mode — which allow you (by proxy, that is) to tackle hard to reach and often-missed areas of the room.

    With 110 minutes of battery life, it's likely that you'll tire of cleaning long before the robot does. And when the Deebot does run out of juice, it sends itself home to recharge, which means that it's always ready for more (should you need it).

    The Deebot 711 comes with a one-year warranty, a charging dock, four side brushes, two high-efficiency air filters, a remote control with battery, and Ecovacs' famous customer support. So if your New Year's Resolution is to spend more time on the more important things in life, then you may just want to let the Deebot 711 take care of your vacuuming.

    Buy the Ecovacs DEEBOT 711 Robot Vacuum Cleaner for $349.99 from Amazon

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    MIL E 53

    • The best "off-map" restaurants in the world have been announced by the World Restaurant Awards.
    • The list highlights under-the-radar and off-the-beaten-track culinary gems across the globe.
    • From a shipping container fish shack in the UK to a dining experience in the Peruvian mountains, the restaurants may not be easy to find, but they're all worth a visit. 

    There are certain restaurants that seemingly everyone goes to. Sure, sometimes that's because they're brilliant, but other times, it's just because they've got a highly instagrammable flower wall.

    Social media and the internet mean it's hard to find a hidden gem nowadays, but there are under-the-radar restaurants to be found if you know where to look.

    To give you a helping hand, the World Restaurant Awards has unveiled its list of little-known restaurants across the globe that are worth visiting, from haute-cuisine to affordable.

    "The Off-Map award is for restaurants in a remote location that are off-the-beaten-track and worth the journey," a spokesperson for the awards told Business Insider.

    "They are not required to be a minimum or maximum number of miles away from a city, but the journey should be an uplifting and notable experience."

    Read more: The 50 best restaurants in the world in 2018

    The list is created by a gender-balanced judging panel of over 100 experts representing 36 different countries, including chefs, journalists, and industry influencers. Famous chefs such as Clare Smyth, David Chang, Yotam Ottolenghi, René Redzepi, Hélène Darroze, and Massimo Bottura were all part of the panel.

    The winners of all categories will be announced at the World Restaurant Awards ceremony in Paris on February 18 2019.

    Scroll down to see the top 28 "off-map" restaurants.

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best bars in the world in 2018

    1. Slippurinn, Westman Islands, Iceland

    This cosy, family-run restaurant serves local, sustainable, seasonal food on a site that was formerly a machine workshop serving the old shipyard. 

    2. Boca Valdivia, Ecuador

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    Situated right on the Ecuadorean coast, the restaurant focuses on sustainability and traditional culture.

    3. Wolfgat, South Africa

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    Another coastal spot, Wolfgat is a 20-seat fine-dining restaurant named after a nearby cave, which has huge archaeological and geological significance. It serves up foraged dune spinach and indigenous plants such as soutslaai.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    download 1

    When you're searching for a book to read, sometimes you know what you want. Maybe it's a shocking memoir or an eye-opening work of historical fiction. Sometimes, you don't know what you want — all you know is you want it to be great. 

    If you're currently waiting to stumble upon your next great read, you're in luck. Amazon just released its list of the 10 best books of 2018. From a plot-twisting thriller to a socially relevant fantasy, this list crosses all genres — including a top children's book pick and a spotlight pick that Amazon's editors have been loving all year, "Educated" by Tara Westover.

    Captions have been provided by Erin Kodicek, editor of books and Kindle at Amazon.com.

    SEE ALSO: 15 thoughtful gifts for book lovers to satisfy the bookworm on your list

    1. "Educated" by Tara Westover

    Tara Westover didn't see the inside of a classroom until she was seventeen, and it was an experience that dramatically changed the trajectory of her life. This extraordinary memoir chronicles how she survived her survivalist upbringing, eventually earning a PhD from Cambridge University. Rather than a story about the making of a scholar, Educated is about the making of a person.

    Buy it here >>

    2. "Washington Black" by Esi Edugyan

    When an 11-year-old slave named Wash is picked to serve his master’s brother, he is terrified to leave the Barbados plantation where he lives. But what follows is adventure and scientific exploration on a par with the novels of Jules Verne. Esi Edugyan’s superb writing and inventive story telling drive this thoughtful, entertaining page-turner.

    Buy it here >>

    3. "Indianapolis" by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

    While readers will be riveted by the four days the Indianapolis crew spent adrift in the shark-infested Pacific, the rest of the Indianapolis's story is equally as tense. Vincent and Vladic include not only the expected tales of heroism under duress but the just-as-human stories of willpower bending and sanity breaking. This is history writing at its finest: shining a spotlight on a wartime tragedy that still echoes within the survivors and the Navy today.

    Buy it here >>

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Ice cream

    • Whole Foods has revealed the top 10 trends that will shape how we eat and drink in 2019. 
    • Trends include Pacific Rim-inspired flavors, new types of icy treats, and fat-filled ingredients. 
    • Here are the top 10 food-trend predictions for next year. 

    As 2018 comes to a close, the food and beverage industry is wondering what comes next. 

    Whole Foods released its list of the trends it expects to dominate in 2019. More than a dozen buyers and experts collaborated to predict what new trends will dictate what we eat.

    This year, new flavors are on the horizon, drawing inspiration from things as disparate as the Pacific Rim and the blossoming legal marijuana industry. 

    Here are the top 10 food-trend predictions for 2019: 

    SEE ALSO: Millennials are killing countless industries — but the Fed says it's mostly just because they're poor

    Pacific Rim-inspired flavors

    The grocer says that flavors from Asia, Oceania, and the western coasts of South America are on the rise. Whole Foods name checks guava, dragon fruit, Filipino sausage longganisa, dried shrimp, cuttlefish, and shrimp paste as a few ingredients to keep an eye out for. 

    Shelf-stable probiotics

    Probiotics have been on the rise for a while, in the form of fermented kimchi and various pickled foods. Now, wellness-focused brands, cleaning products, and beauty brands are trying to cash in on the trend. 

    Phat fats

    Whole Foods cites "keto, paleo, grain-free, and even 'pegan' (paleo + vegan) diets" as helping to get people to add more fat to their diets. 

    "New integrations of fat sources — like keto-friendly nutrition bars crafted with MCT oil powder, coconut butter-filled chocolates, snacks affectionately called 'fat bombs' and a new wave of ready-to-drink vegan coffee beverages inspired by butter coffees — are busting on the scene allowing consumers to get their fat fill with convenient treats," the grocer says. 

    Read more:10 of the best keto meal options at popular chain restaurants

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Frontier Airlines Airbus Denver

    • Passengers on board a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Tampa, Florida fell ill on Tuesday and bad airport water may be to blame. 
    • A Tampa Airport official confirmed that six passengers fell ill and their primary symptom was vomiting.
    • All of the sick passengers were evaluated and released. None were transported to the hospital.
    • Cleveland Airport has turned off several water fountains for testing. Health officials have not determined the exact cause of the illness. 

    Passengers on board a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Tampa, Florida fell ill on Tuesday and bad airport water may be to blame. 

    Frontier Airlines Flight 1397, an Airbus A321, took off from Cleveland at 12:59 pm and landed in Tampa at 3:35 pm on Tuesday. 

    Tampa Airport spokeswoman Janet Scherberger confirmed to Business Insider that there were six ill passengers and their primary symptom was vomiting. The airport spokeswoman went on to say that the sick passengers were evaluated and released. None were transported to the hospital.

    Frontier Airlines and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were not immediately available for comment. 

    Read more: Delta's CEO just reignited the nastiest feud in the airline industry by accusing Qatar Airways of violating a deal with Trump administration.

    However, Cleveland Airport spokeswoman Michele Dynia told CNN that it has shut down a handful of water fountains for out of caution. However, the publication also noted that health officials are still unsure the exact cause of the illness. 

    According to Cleveland's Fox 8, water from the fountains will be tested Wednesday morning. 

    In a statement to Tampa's WFLA, Frontier Airlines said:

    "During Frontier flight 1397 from Cleveland to Tampa this afternoon, six passengers became ill. The aircraft was met by local emergency medical services upon arrival in Tampa. Those passengers displaying symptoms were evaluated by medical staff before being released. All other passengers were released after a brief holding period. The cause of the illness remains under investigation. Passenger safety is Frontier’s number one priority."

    SEE ALSO: The amazing story of how the Airbus A320 became the Boeing 737's greatest rival

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    Join the conversation about this story »

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    best planner

    • Whether you like monthly, weekly, or daily calendar options, a paper planner is an essential tool for keeping your life organized and moving forward.
    • The best planner for most people is the Panda Planner with its simple layout and motivational structure that helps you achieve your goals.

    Self-improvement is a big business. Who doesn’t want to get thinner, fitter, richer, more successful — or just be happier? But to achieve all these things, you’ve got to get organized. Despite the fact that most of us have some form of electronic calendar on our phones or computers, many people still rely on their paper planning agenda to keep their lives running smoothly.

    I’m one of those people. And while I do switch up the brand sometimes, I’m committed to using a planner that breaks down the calendar by the week. Seeing one day at a time — or the whole month — just doesn’t work for me.

    Some people choose to start fresh with a new planner in January. Others — particularly college students, teachers, and parents — often opt for a 16-month calendar that starts in August or September.

    These days, planners usually come with much more than just calendars. In fact, many of the best-selling planners promise to provide you with a whole new lifestyle with features that help you set goals, get inspired, make plans, and keep track of your progress. We've picked out the best planners for everyone from students and teachers to parents and professionals. 

    Here are the best planners you can buy:

    Updated on 01/02/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices, formatting, and availability for planners. 

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks. 

    SEE ALSO: The best school supplies for students K-12

    The best planner overall

    Why you'll love it: The Panda Planner promises to keep you on track to achieve all your goals and it comes with free inspirational ebooks.

    Michael Leip founded the Panda Planner system to try to get his life back on track when he found himself mired in anxiety and depression after suffering from Lyme Disease, cancer, and traumatic brain injury. The system, which he says is based on scientific strategies for achieving productivity and happiness, worked for him. He is so sure that it will work for you, too, that he offers a no-questions-asked money back guarantee.

    So what do you get? A planner with monthly, weekly, and daily sections where you organize your life in writing and also record the things you are grateful for. There is an area to focus on your daily affirmations, exercises, and priorities. In addition, you get free access to six different ebooks and a video series to help you quickly hit your goals. 

    This 5.25-by-8.25-inch book, made of natural materials, has an undated calendar that is intended to be used for three to six months. You fill the dates in, so you can choose if the week starts on Sunday or Monday.

    There are more than 2,280 user reviews on Amazon, most of which are highly positive with an average 4.4 out of 5 stars. The Panda Planner is the best selling planner on Amazon.

    “If you are depressed (like I was), apathetic (like I was), and just not living to your potential BUY THIS BOOK! Immediately DAY ONE I used it I made more sales that day than the whole prior month. I was SUPER motivated, I kept looking at it to not only take care of my tasks but to continuously see that positivity …I could go ON AND ON about this planner. Please trust my word on this one,” wrote a verified buyer on September 17, 2016.

    Across the web, professional blogger and reviewers, including those at INC.com and Wonder Mom Wannabe, tout the many benefits of the Panda Planner.

    Pros: Unique system, light and portable, six free ebooks, high-quality paper, money-back guarantee

    Cons: It is only good for up to six months

    Buy the Panda Planner on Amazon for $24.97 (originally $39.99)

    The best fashionable planner

    Why you'll love it: Erin Condren's super stylish LifePlanner will keep your life in beautiful balance.

    Erin Condren's beautiful life planner comes in several different gorgeous colors and patterns. You can get it in a variety of layouts to suit your needs.

    The planner includes quote pages, mini-month spreads, goal setting pages, weekly spreads, lined pages, dot grid paper, and blank pages for note-taking. Each month is tabbed, so you can easily flip through to look back at all the things you've accomplished or ahead to upcoming events.

    Condren also added a folder and a pouch to the planner so you can hold important documents inside your planner with everything else. The biggest appeal of Erin Condren's planners is the design. The planners are feminine, colorful, inspirational, and super Instagrammable.

    Around the web, professional bloggers, including those at Running with Spoons and Mom Fabulous, approve of the Erin Condren Planners.

    Pros: Beautiful and stylish, hardbound, high-quality paper

    Cons: Somewhat expensive

    Shop all Erin Condren planners for $24 to $70

    The best planner for teachers

    Why you'll love it: The affordable and sturdy Blue Sky Planner can help you get good grades in school — and in life. 

    The popular Blue Sky planner comes in several sizes and styles. Two of the most common sizes are 5-by-8-inches and 8.5-by-11-inches. The resilient cover is built to last for continued use throughout the year.

    The entire planner is printed with soy-based ink on 50% post-consumer waste recycled paper and it's sturdy. Durable coated tabbed dividers are also long lasting and make accessing information a breeze.

    The Planner features full monthly view pages, as well as separate pages with full weekly views for more detailed planning. There are also previous and next month reference calendars. Handy note pages allow you to jot down last minute thoughts or details.

    There are also dozens of designs on Amazon, whether you want something generic and solid colored, a feminine floral pattern, or a fun geometric pattern.

    Fans of the Blue Sky Academic Year Planner tout the attractive design and great format. Around the web, professional bloggers, including those at Pretty Neat Living and Wendaful, love Blue Sky Planners.  

    Pros: Attractive design, sturdy cover and construction, affordable, great format,

    Cons: Some users note that the lines on the pages are too close together to write easily

    Shop all Blue Sky planners for $7.99 to $24.99


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Ben Caballero

    • Ben Caballero is the top real-estate agent in the US.
    • He sold $1.9 billion worth of homes in 2017.
    • Caballero said he followed two top rules of selling to pull it off: make it as easy as possible for your clients to buy your product, and make sure they like you.
    • The first rule is something Amazon does particularly well, he said.

    Ben Caballero sold 4,799 homes worth a cumulative $1.9 billion in 2017 — an average of 92 homes per week.

    This feat has placed him firmly as the top real-estate agent in the US, according to Real Trends, a residential brokerage industry publication. He was recognized by Guinness World Records for selling 3,556 homes in 2016.

    But Caballero, who's based in Texas, didn't sell $1.9 billion worth of homes by dealing with multimillion-dollar penthouses in New York or megamansions in Los Angeles.

    Instead, Caballero said he's pulled off his impressive record by adhering to two rules of selling.

    "The first two rules of selling, as far as I'm concerned, is: No. 1, you've got to make it easy," he told Business Insider. "And No. 2, they've got to like you."

    Caballero has made it easy for his clients to work with him by creating an online platform, HomesUSA, for homebuilders. He works only with those who build several hundred houses per year and streamlines the process of creating a listing, tracking the progress of the house's construction, and updating the listing when photography is added and when the home is complete.

    Read more: Here's what the most expensive house for sale in every US state looks like

    "If they didn't have our system, they would have to have multitudes of spreadsheets ... and they'd be entering it manually," Caballero said. "Instead of being able to initiate a listing request in a minute or two, it'd probably take them anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. And if they are dealing in hundreds of listings, that's a lot of time that they would be spending doing that."

    Caballero's team creates a listing in an average of 13 minutes, making the process quicker and more painless for his clients.

    "If I said, 'OK, you have to pay me $10,000 to set you up in my system, and you have to fill out 40 forms to get me started ...' Just making them take more risk and spend more time are all barriers — they're all things that make it more difficult," he said.

    Caballero said he'd noticed one company in particular that owes its success to making things easy for people.

    "If you go to Amazon, they know who you are because you've been there before," he said. "They know who you are. They know what you've bought before. So you buy something, and they say, 'People who bought this bought this other stuff too. Do you want some of that?' They make it really easy for you to buy. And then they ship it really quick."

    But of course, ease and efficiency don't matter if you're not likable and trustworthy, Caballero said.

    "If they don't like you, they will not do business with you unless you have the only game in town — you're a monopoly or something," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Luxury real estate developers are building out elaborate basements for multimillion-dollar mansions, and they include spas, tennis courts, and even ballrooms

    DON'T MISS: Mark Cuban just bought a $19 million Laguna Beach vacation home that comes with concierge service and walls that open up to views of the Pacific Ocean. Here's a look inside.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    best dumbbells

    • It's truly amazing what you can do for your body with a good pair of dumbbells.
    • The space-saving, intuitively-designed Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are our top pick because the weights can be adjusted to weigh as little as 5 pounds or as much as 52.5 pounds per dumbbell.

    While undertaking the truly harrowing process of packing up an entire house prior to a cross-country move last year, a select few items in particular required special attention. These included delicate china and irreplaceable artwork, to be sure, but one group of decidedly less refined objects also presented a complication: my dumbbells. I had to figure out the best way to move more than 300 pounds of weight, distributed across dumbbells weighing as much as 50 pounds and as little as five, from LA to NY without adding too much extra cost to the process.

    The solution was a to stash some of the weights in a car we were shipping, to bring a few dumbbells with me in the car I drove, and to distribute the remainder of the weights in boxes filled with bulky but lightweight items like comforters, pillows, and stuffed animals. An even better solution, though, would have been to opt for adjustable weight dumbbells in the first place, concentrating all of the pounds needed into just one pair of hand weights. Live and learn, folks.

    Whichever pair or set you choose, dumbbells offer a superlative strength training workout because they engage so many muscles at once during use. A weight machine stabilizes the load for you, concentrating only on a few specific muscle groups at a time. Even a barbell limits the muscles used by distributing the effort across both arms (and/or shoulders, quads, pecs, and so forth).

    When you have a dumbbell in your hand, you make use of myriad muscles both large and small as you work to safely and steadily complete those reps. The result is everything from enhanced grip strength to conditioning, as well as building up the targeted muscles, of course.

    So while the next time I buy dumbbells I might opt for a modular system with adjustable weights, I'll never turn my back on this classic approach to strength training. Fitness machines are all fine and good, but a good old dumbbell workout is great.

    Here are the best dumbbells you can buy:

    Updated on 01/02/2018 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and formatting.

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    SEE ALSO: The best fitness trackers you can buy

    The best dumbbells overall

    Why you'll love them: The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells allow you to adjust the weight of each dumbbell anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds.

    The first time I saw a pair of Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, they were sitting on the ground in my friend's garage beside his brand new padded weight bench, a brand new heavy bag, and new padding on the concrete floor. I have to admit, I was skeptical at best. The weights just looked odd, what with a dial controlling how much weight was loaded onto each bar and the dumbbells looking almost dainty when not loaded up to their full 52.5-pound capacity. And what a waste of time fiddling around with dials when you could just have a larger set of multiple solid weights to grab as needed.

    Then I did a few reps of chest exercises and curls. Guess what? The skepticism was gone. These dumbbells feel sturdy whether laden with just a few pounds for a lateral raise or with more than 50 pounds for bench presses or lunges. They adjust so quickly — you just set the dumbbell into its base among the weight discs, turn the dial to the desired load, and pick the bar up again. And given the fact that this one pair of dumbbells can replace fifteen separate sets, there is simply no comparison when it comes to price.

    Yes, the $250 price tag is not exactly a lightweight, but think of it like this: Assuming each of the 15 pairs of dumbbells you would have to buy to match this set cost only $25 each, which is in fact about half the price of most pairs of hand weights, you would still pay $375. The actual price to match the variety of weights offered by this pair would probably be closer to $600 or more, in fact.

    Also, while many people might not need every single weight configuration offered by the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, their broad range of adjustments makes them suitable for multiple users. There is only one drawback here, and it's the fact that 52.5 pounds is not enough weight for some exercises for some people. But hey, you can just buy the heavier weights you need, you big strong someone.

    With nearly 4,000 reviews logged at the time of this writing, these dumbbells have a stellar 4.7-star average rating on Amazon. One satisfied exercise enthusiast loves the convenience of these dumbbells, saying: "With very little time to get to the gym ... these to maximize the time I do have to workout." Another owner notes their "amazing flexibility" and said "the weight changes are fast and seamless."

    The product review experts at The Wirecutter called these dumbbells "user-friendly" and felt they represented a great value, too. A FitRated writer said the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells had a "sturdy feel and solid rubber grip" and were ideal for home gyms.

    Pros: One pair of dumbbells replaces 15, quick and easy weight changes, comfortable grips

    Cons: Maximum weight of 52.2 pounds too light for some users

    Buy the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells on Amazon for $250

    The best basic dumbbells

    Why you'll love them: The CAP Barbell Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells are made from solid iron and are perfectly sized and balanced for countless workouts. 

    Sometimes simple really is better. I know I just sang the praises of a set of fancy adjustable dumbbells, but in a perfect world, I would have a home gym large enough to accommodate multiple sets of these classic CAP Barbell Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells instead of one adjustable pair.

    With a solid iron dumbbell in each hand, you can workout for hours every week, drop the weights a thousand times (assuming you have pads on the floors!), and never run the risk of damaging your gear. Frankly, I'm not really sure how you could even damage these weights without a furnace that could reach the 2,800-degree melting point of iron.

    The dumbbells come in a pair with individual unit weight spanning everything from 5 to well over 100 pounds. Each weight has a textured grip that helps you maintain a safe, proper grasp on the weights even when your hands are damp with sweat. The hexagonal shape of the weights prevents them from rolling round on the ground — which protects people from injury and walls or other equipment from damage — and also helps the dumbbells rest more stably on a rack.

    I personally have dumbbell pairs weighing 50, 40, 25, and 15 pounds (OK, I only have one of the 15 pound weights, having dumped the other while way off the path during a training hike that turned into a trail blazing and route finding ordeal) and have been using the weights for more than seven years so far. Yes, adjustable dumbbells are convenient, but solid iron is forever.

    The CAP Barbell Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells get a solid 4.5 out of five-star rating with hundreds of reviews posted on Amazon. A gentleman named Tyler called them a "solid buy" and was impressed with the accurate weight of each dumbbell after he tested them with a scale. A buyer named Amanda called them "no frills dumbbells" that "get the job done."

    A writer with USA Home Gym called the CAP Barbell Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells well-made and appreciated how the hexagonal shape stops "the dumbbell from rolling" and can "provide easier storage."

    Pros: Last for a lifetime, hexagonal shape prevents rolling, easy to read weight numbers

    Cons: Price adds up with multiple pairs

    Buy the CAP Barbell Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells on Amazon for about $52.74 per pair (prices vary by weight)

    The best affordable adjustable dumbbells

    Why you'll love them: The Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells save you space by offering multiple weight configurations on each bar and save you cash by using a basic spin-lock collar and weight discs that slide on and off the grips.

    There is one major drawback to using a Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbell: during the course of a set of reps, the star shaped locking collars that keep the weight plates on the handle almost always loosen, letting the weights jostle and spin and potentially impacting your form or even your safety. Here's the thing: you can counter this loosening either with a rubber O-ring or simply with a rubber band twisted around the threaded posts.

    I used these exact types of dumbbells for many years, switching to solid weights only after somehow losing a few of the plates over time, thus making it difficult to create a properly balanced weight. And while not ideal for the serious power lifter, for most casual to intermediate strength training enthusiasts, these weights are a great option because they're easy to use and affordable.

    To adjust the weight you have on each bar, you just twist off the holding ring, slip on the desired plates (making sure to evenly balance the weight) and then twist the collar back on. The inch-thick grips are a perfect size for most hands and the fact that you can adjust each dumbbell from as light as a pound or so when the handle is unladen to many dozens of pounds makes them quite versatile. Just remember that when a set says 60 pounds, that means total, i.e. a maximum of 30 pounds per hand, for example.

    The Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells are quite popular among online shoppers, with an average rating of 4.4 stars. An owner named Jarred says these weights give you "more than your money's worth" when compared with other dumbbell options. A customer called Stephanie said they make it "very easy to set the amount of weight that you want."

    A fitness writer from Dumbbells Reviews calls the Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells yours for "a very friendly price" and appreciates their ease of adjustment. A review from FitnessRocks called these weights "versatile" and "high quality" noting their solid cast iron construction.

    Pros: Affordable option, easy to adjust weight, space saving design

    Cons: Weight discs sometimes come loose, circular weights can roll on floor

    Buy the Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells on Amazon for around $59.99 (prices vary by weight)

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    best gym bags

    • A good gym bag will not only help you tote workout apparel and accessories to and from the gym, practice, or the game, but it will help keep clothing and gear organized.
    • The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag is our top pick because it's durable, stylish, and the perfect size for most fitness enthusiasts.

    If you regularly work out at a gym or practice and play a sport — or if you've made a New Year's resolution to start doing so — then owning a great gym bag is a good idea. When you have a dedicated gym bag, you can establish a routine that will make your prep before a workout more convenient, that will make your time at the gym more efficient, and your post-exercise transport, laundering, and storage of fitness apparel and gear easier and more hygienic, too.

    A proper gym bag will have multiple compartments that can be used to create your own organizational system. You can appoint one or two pockets to store soiled, sweaty garments and shoes. You can reserve one section for clean clothing to be worn after a workout. One compartment might be reserved for water, energy bars, snacks, or supplements. And of course, you'll want to stash your phone, keys, and wallet somewhere safe, too.

    When assembling a list of great gym bags, we only considered those with multi-compartment designs. Next, we looked at materials, well aware that while one person might value performance and durability over all other metrics, another person might value style; thus the inclusion of a leather gym duffel on the list. Finally, we looked for special features that set these gym bags apart from the competitors. While there are many gym bags on the market today, and while many are quite similar to one another, the bags that made it onto our list each have at least one unique factor that earned them a spot here.

    When choosing the right gym bag for you, there are a few factors you should not overlook. First, simply think about the stuff you need to carry with you to the gym and then find options that can accommodate it all. Next, consider when and where you will be carrying the bag. Do you need to bring it with you on the train or bus? If so, a gym bag that's on the smaller side is a good idea. Got a long walk or a jog on the way to the gym? Then a backpack gym bag will serve well.

    Finally, don't dismiss style as an important element here. You will carry your gym bag around in public many days out of the year (ideally, anyway!), so choose one you will be proud to have over your shoulder and on display.

    Here are the best gym bags you can buy:

    Updated on 01/02/2018 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and formatting.

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    SEE ALSO: The best dumbbells you can buy for your home gym

    The best gym bag overall

    Why you'll love it: The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag is well made and refreshingly simple with a few compartments and two ways to carry it.

    Talking you through all the specs of an Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag won't take that long, so let's do it. The bag has one large main compartment with enough room for a change of clothes and a towel, a water bottle, deodorant and shampoo, and so forth.

    Within the main chamber is a smaller zippered pouch perfect for your wallet, keys, phone, and other small valuables. Each end of the bag has a compartment that can fit shoes, sweaty garments, and anything else you want to keep separated. The base is padded to keep your stuff safe, the fabric is rip- and puncture-resistant. The bag has both a shoulder strap and handles.

    And that's it. But hey, that's really all you need out of gym bag. So why does this bag cost almost twice as much as other options on our list? Simple. It's remarkably well made. Adidas even offers a lifetime warranty. And when you think about it, that's an impressive amount of faith Adidas is putting in this gym bag. The company knows the thing is going to be hauled back and forth to the fitness center, to the track, the field, and everywhere else such luggage gets lugged.

    It also doesn't hurt that the Defender II comes in nearly two dozen different color patterns, so you can easily find a duffel that will not only match your needs, but that will match your personal sense of style, too.

    With well over 1,500 reviews logged on Amazon, the Adidas Defender II has a solid 4.3-star average rating. An owner named Brianna calls it "perfect for the gym" and loves how her duffel accommodates "shoes, clothes, water bottle, swim suit, towel, showering stuff and then some." A customer named Dan shared those sentiments, saying the bag earns "five stars in [his] book."

    A writer with MuscleRig noted the Defender II's construction out of "thick parachute material that protects it from rain, dust and even scratches," while a video reviewer from SoccerSavings Semper Soccer said the bag offers "loads of storage" and praised the design.

    Pros: Lasts for years of heavy use, simple intuitive design, comes in multiple colors

    Cons: Medium and large sizes too big for many people

    Buy the adidas Defender II Duffel Bag on Amazon for about $24.99 and up (prices vary by size and color)

    The best affordable gym bag

    Why you'll love it: The Everest Gym Bag's dedicated water bottle sleeve, versatile front pouches, and adjustable, padded shoulder strap make it a great budget-friendly gym bag.

    The Everest Gym Bag costs less than twenty-four bucks if you don't count the tax. That's less than half the price of many similar gym bags, yet don't think for a second that this bag is half the quality.

    In fact, the Everest is manufactured out of durable 600D polyester that resists scratches and tears and is even water-resistant. Don't submerge it in a bathtub while your iPad is inside or anything, but also don't worry about some drizzle as you jog from the subway to the gym.

    The Everest Gym Bag has a large primary compartment with plenty of room for shoes, clothes, showering accessories, and more. Its twin front pouches are perfect for your phone, wallet, energy bars, and other smaller sundries. A central water bottle sleeve can handle most water bottles.

    On one side of the bag you will find a zippered mesh pouch, and on the other, there is a closed compartment. Both can be extended into the main area of the bag, allowing you to stash sweaty clothes or muddy shoes away from the rest of your gear.

    The only real drawback with this bag is that the side pockets in which you can store soiled gear must take up room in the main compartment to be sufficiently spacious, so it can be tricky to tell exactly how much room you will use in each area after a workout. After a few trips to the gym, though, you should have the balance down and can pack and plan accordingly.

    The Everest Gym Bag has a 4.3-star overall rating among buyers, with one owner calling it "fantastic" and saying he was happily surprised to find it "holding up great" after heavy use despite its low price. A customer named Jessica was thrilled by its "pockets galore."

    Wirecutter's review of gym bags ranked the Everest at the top thanks to its multiple pockets, quality material, and the water bottle holder, which were noted as "exceptional features for the price." A TenBestProducts write up called the Everest Gym Bag a "good value for the money" that is "sturdy and lightweight."

    Pros: Great low price, dedicated water bottle pocket, keeps gear and sundries organized

    Cons: Occasional issues with side pocket tearing

    Buy the Everest Gym Bag on Amazon for $18 to $25 (price varies by color)

    The best gym backpack

    Why you'll love it: The Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack has enough space to carry a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, a full sized laptop, and a few accessories, and it distributes the weight of all your gear evenly across your torso.

    Now yes, we just mentioned a lot of stuff that you can fit into a UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack, but to be clear, if you put a pair of sneakers, your gym apparel, a computer, and your wallet, phone, and keys in this bag, it would then be just about full. But that's just fine, because what else do you need to carry with you as you travel from the office to the gym and then home?

    And unlike with traditional gym bags that must be slung over one shoulder or carried in your hand, this backpack distributes that weight evenly across your shoulders and down through your core, meaning you can transport all that stuff for miles and miles in comfort if need be.

    Anyone with a long trip between the gym and the home or office should consider this gym backpack. Its padded laptop sleeve keeps that invaluable computer safe while the brand's UA Storm technology-treated exterior resists rain, sleet, or snow, keeping your stuff safely dry within. The bottom panel is abrasion-resistant and the entire backpack is rip-stop and puncture-resistant.

    And also, the UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack comes in colors ranging from black to blue to pink to orange and more.

    The Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 scores a 4.6 out of five-star rating on Amazon. One customer speaks for many when she says the backpack is this is "essentially [her] carry all." She is able "to [carry] about 6-7 water bottles, a pair of size 9 women gym shoes and a set of gym clothes... all while not being weighed down to one side because [she is] able to carry the weight evenly with little to no strain on [her] shoulders."

    In a YouTube review, an UnboxedTV video showed off the quality of the hardware, including the zippers, the padding, and the durable exterior material. The video also showed off special features like the dual water bottle pockets.

    Pros: Distributes weight evenly, water-resistant exterior, padded laptop sleeve

    Cons: Capacity is too small for some athletes

    Buy the Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack on Amazon for $40.99 and up (prices vary by color)

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Since you don't have all day to scour the web for noteworthy sales and discounts, we rounded up the best bargains for you to shop in one convenient place.

    Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

    1. Save up to 50% during Nordstrom's Half Yearly sale

    Nordstrom's annual Half-Yearly sale is a great shopping event for snagging steep discounts on great clothing and more. This massive sale includes Men's, Women's and Kid's fashion, with everything from footwear to jewelry on sale. You can also save on home and beauty products. The sale ends today on January 2, so act fast before these deals disappear. 

    Shop the Nordstrom Half Yearly sale now.

    Best Buy sale

    2. Save up to 40% on clearance and open-box products from Best Buy

    Now is the perfect time to accessorize all the gadgets you got during the holidays. And, if you didn't get the laptop, phone, or other device you were hoping for this holiday season, you might be able to pick it up at a heavy discount. Best Buy's clearance and open-box product sale runs until January 12. 

    Shop the Best Buy sale now.

    Wayfair TV Stand

    3. Save up to 80% with Wayfair's End of Year Outlet sale

    Wayfair is offering some major discounts on products across all categories, including furniture, bedding, pet accessories, and outdoor furniture. This deal ends January 5, so you have a few days to find the right piece of furniture for your home.

    Shop the Wayfair End of Year Outlet sale now.

    UA sale

    4. Save on thousands of sportswear products during Under Armour's Semi-Annual event

    Help yourself stick to your New Year's resolution this January by shopping for some awesome workout gear from Under Armour. This sale lasts until January 21, so you have some time to sift through the thousands of Under Armour products on sale. 

    Shop the Under Armour Semi-Annual event now.


    5. Save 10% on orders over $150 from Brooklinen

    Upgrade your bedding with these high-quality, extremely comfortable sheets, blankets, and pillows from Brooklinen. The direct-to-consumer brand is offering a 10% discount on orders over $150 for a limited time if you use the code HOLIDAY10 when you check out. 

    Shop Brooklinen holiday discount now.

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    sushi chef bluefin tuna japan

    • In New Year's resolutions, many people focus on maintaining a healthy weight, losing a few pounds, or eating well. 
    • People throughout the world have simple ways of staying satisfied and healthy without gaining weight — none of which require restrictive dieting.
    • Here are 17 tips from cultures around the globe.

    The American diet has changed dramatically since the 1970s.

    The portion sizes of everything from a muffin to a slice of pizza have gotten as much as 138% bigger. Americans now eat far more chicken than they did in 1975, but less beef. And in 2014, people started spending more money eating out than they did on eating at home for the first time in US history, according to the Department of Agriculture

    Dieting and weight-loss trends have also shifted: Whereas Americans used to opt for low-fat foods, sugar has increasingly emerged as the main culprit when it comes to weight gain. There's also a growing emphasis on plant-based eating plans, although some dieters still count calories or banish entire food groups

    In other countries around the world, people take different approaches to healthy eating. In Argentina, many people sip appetite-suppressing Yerba mate tea, while Ethiopians nibble bread made from a mineral-rich, protein-packed grain called teff.

    Here are a few of the savviest, most surprising ways people around the world stay trim and satisfied without sacrificing taste.

    SEE ALSO: The 7 best exercises for toning your body right now

    Japan boasts one of highest life expectancies in the world — 83.7 years — and it probably has to do with the way the Japanese eat.

    Source: Business Insider

    Some Japanese people abide by a Confucian teaching called "hara hachi bu," which means they eat until their belly is 80% full, not 100%.

    Okinawans have historically been some of the healthiest, most disease-free people in the world. Researchers studied more than 900 people from Okinawa who made it past 100 years old and found that their arteries remained young-looking and clean into old age. Those Japanese elders were at much lower risk of developing coronary heart disease or suffering strokes.

    But that healthy paradigm is beginning to shift as more western foods seep into the Okinawan diet.

    Israelis follow a diet that's known to be one of the best for your heart, brain, and overall health: the Mediterranean diet.

    The traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in veggies, mono- and poly- unsaturated fats, and some lean protein sources like chickpeas and fish.

    On the Italian island of Sardinia, men and women often live beyond 100 and enjoy a slightly different twist on the Mediterranean diet, with lots of whole-grain breads, fresh vegetables, and goat cheese.

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    golden door spa

    • Golden Door is an exclusive spa retreat in California unlike any other — it focuses on inner reflection and self-discovery through activities like predawn hikes and fencing lessons.
    • Celebrities, Hollywood elite, CEOs, and the rich flock to Golden Door to re-evaluate their life and de-stress.
    • A seven-night stay at Golden Door costs nearly $10,000.

    If you want to be pampered like the rich, look no further than Golden Door.

    Tucked away in the hills of San Marcos, California, this luxury spa retreat is like no other of its kind: Not only did it help kick-start start the wellness industry, according to the Hollywood Reporter, it also offers much more than the momentary bliss guaranteed in most spa retreats.

    Instead, it allows guests to indulge in their entire stay by helping them focus on inner reflection and self-discovery through mindfulness, healthy eating, spa treatments, fitness, and meditation. Attendees have gone to Golden Door to re-evaluate their life, de-stress, and expand their horizons.

    Because of its exclusivity, Golden Door was named the number one destination spa in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2015 and has been listed as one of the top 1,000 places to see before you die by The New York Times, according to its website.

    It's no wonder Golden Door, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018, has been a favorite among celebrities and other Hollywood elite, as well as CEOs and real estate agents.

    With such accolades and clientele, Golden Door's steep cost shouldn't be shocking, but it's still enough to make your eyes pop. A seven-day stay will run you up nearly $10,000, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

    Here's what it's like to stay there, from its 1,200-calorie per day menus and Bollywood dancing classes to its predawn hikes and men's-only retreat.

    SEE ALSO: What it's like to vacation in St. Moritz, the hidden gem in the Swiss Alps where celebrities, billionaires, and royalty go to ski

    DON'T MISS: Inside the Molsheim Experience, the exclusive Bugatti-buying process that takes customers to France to create their own $3 million sports car

    Golden Door is located in San Marcos, California, between Los Angeles and San Diego. Travel + Leisure once named it the number one spa destination in the world.

    Source: Golden Door

    Situated on 600 acres, the spa has been around for 60 years and helped spur today's $4.2 trillion wellness industry.

    Source: Hollywood Reporter

    Before it was the spa it is today, Golden Door began as a motel with themed suites and was later reopened as a Japanese Inn.

    Source: Hollywood Reporter

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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