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The latest news on Features from Business Insider

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    dollar general 3190

    • Dollar stores had a big year in 2018. 
    • Dollar Tree currently has 14,000 locations, with plans to open hundreds more by the end of 2018. Comparable sales were up 2.3% at Dollar Tree in the third quarter.
    • Dollar General currently has about 15,000 locations, with plans to open 975 more in 2019. Comparable sales were up 2.8% at Dollar General in the third quarter.
    • While not a traditional dollar store in that its products are priced up to $5, Five Below opened 53 stores in the third quarter, bringing its store total to 745. Five Below's comparable sales grew by 4.8% in the quarter.
    • We shopped at all three dollar stores this year and found that one of them offered a much better experience than the other two.

    Dollar stores have been growing like crazy recently, with Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Five Below all opening tons of new stores in 2018. From 2010 to 2015, dollar-store sales grew from $30.4 billion to $45.3 billion in the United States. 

    Dollar Tree, which recently acquired the Family Dollar chain, currently has around 14,000 locations. In the third quarter of 2018, Dollar Tree reported comparable sales were up 2.3%. Dollar Tree said that in 2019, it plans to open 350 more namesake locations, 200 new Family Dollar locations, and rebrand 200 Family Dollar locations as Dollar Tree stores.

    Dollar General currently has around 15,000 locations. It is on track to open 900 new stores in 2018. During a call with investors on Tuesday, the company said it plans to open 975 more stores in 2019.

    While not a traditional dollar store in that its products are priced up to $5, Five Below announced its own plans to grow earlier this year. In the third quarter of 2018, Five Below reported comparable sales grew by 4.8%. It opened 53 new stores this quarter, bringing its store count to 745.

    One of those stores that opened was a flagship location on New York's Fifth Avenue, one of the most expensive shopping destinations in the US.

    We compared what it's like to shop at the three rapidly growing stores and found that one offered a far better experience. Here's the verdict:

    SEE ALSO: Five Below, the discount-store chain that's growing across America, just opened a store in one of the most glamorous parts of New York City. Here's what it's like to shop there.

    We visited Five Below in Queens, New York.

    Everything in the store cost $5 or less, and there were a few sales being advertised on top of the already low prices.

    There were wheelbarrows filled with school supplies for $5 or less at the front of the store ...

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    google walkout san francisco 28

    • Google launched a ton of exciting new technologies this year.
    • The company was also the center of several different controversies in 2018.
    • With 2019 right around the corner, we looked back at the highlights — and the lowlights — from another full year of Google.

    SEE ALSO: Apple's price hikes went way too far in 2018

    DON'T MISS: These were the top YouTube videos of 2018, according to Google

    Google introduced a ton of new hardware in 2018.

    Google unveiled a $130 gadget called Google Home Hub, which controls all of your smart-home devices (no need to open a million different apps), and shows you information at a glance.

    Read our review of Google's Home Hub.

    Google also released its Pixel Slate tablet, which has a brilliant display, dual front-facing speakers, two 8-megapixel cameras, and a fingerprint sensor.

    Like Apple and its iPad Pro, Google also made a special keyboard and stylus that work specifically with the Pixel Slate.

    The Pixel Slate starts at $600, the Pixel Slate Keyboard costs $200, and the Pixelbook Pen costs $100.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    portobello mushroom

    • There are lots of ways to add flavors to your favorite vegan meals.
    • Don't rely on steamed veggies.
    • Don't rely on vegan meat substitutes.
    • Splurge on the good stuff.

    Making delicious vegan meals may seem challenging at first glance. However, expert chefs suggest that there are tons of ingenious (and not to mention easy) ways in which vegans can get creative in the kitchen.

    To provide you with some major food inspiration, we spoke to a handful of expert chefs about some of the best vegan cooking tips possible. Below are some of the helpful hacks they recommend keeping in mind next time you want to treat yourself to a delicious home-cooked meal.

    Get creative with your ingredients.

    "Add natural fats from avocados, use nut butter, and add some nuts and seeds to your dishes if you are looking for a pop of texture and flavor," suggested chef and culinary educator Jill Nussinow, MS, RDN.

    Don't rely on steamed veggies.

    "Don't rely on steamed vegetables as a go-to," said Nussinow. They tend to be boring, but cooking your veggies a different way, such as stir-frying, sauteing, or roasting can give you some much-needed variety. 

    Use substitutes for cream and milk.

    "There are many substitutes for cream and milk," suggested vegan chef Carolyn Scott-Hamilton. These kinds of ingredients help make any dish creamy and delicious, she explained.

    Try out almond milk, coconut cream, and more to give your dishes a creamy kick. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    kit harington

    Kit Harington became an A-list star after landing a starring role on HBO's "Game of Thrones," which premiered in 2011. Since then, he's been nominated for an Emmy and several SAG Awards.

    When he's not playing Jon Snow, Harington has lent his voice to a character in "How to Train Your Dragon 2," starred as a gladiator in the 2014 movie "Pompeii," and appeared in the miniseries "Gunpowder." 

    Even though "Game of Thrones" will air its final season in April 2019, Harington's popularity is likely to continue. He showed off his comedic side in an "audition tape" for the next "How to Train Your Dragon" movie and currently stars as Austin in the British theater production of "True West."

    In honor of his 32nd birthday, here are five things you probably didn't know about Harington. 

    He didn't know that his name wasn’t actually Kit until he was 11.

    Harington didn't realize that his name is Christopher until he went to school and had to fill out exam papers. 

    "I put down 'Kit Harington,' and they [the teachers] looked at me like I was completely stupid, and they said, 'No, you're Christopher Harington, I'm afraid,'"Harington told Interview magazine. "It was only then I learned my actual name. That was kind of a bizarre existential crisis for an 11-year-old to have, but in the end, I always stuck with Kit, because I felt that's who I was. I'm not really a 'Chris.'"


    His favorite book is 1984.

    Harington's favorite fictional character is Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell's best-selling dystopian novel. The book was published in 1949. 


    If Harington wasn't acting, he thinks he'd probably be involved in journalism or photography.

    Harington told Esquire UK that he'd gravitate toward "something in the creative industries," but also "liked the idea" of being a war correspondent.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • United Airlines's Terminal E at George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is getting a culinary makeover. 
    • The reimagining of Terminal E was completed by airport dining experts OTG.
    • OTG's investment in United's Houston terminals totaled $180 million.
    • The four restaurants were designed by Rockwell Group and all feature unique architecture and eye-catching layouts, with each restaurant having its own flavor and type of cuisine. 
    • Q is a barbecue smokehouse with a meat-smoker built into the terminal. Gavi is an Italian restaurant and Tanglewood Grille is a Texas steakhouse. Yume is a Pan-Asian marketplace with a variety of food stations. 

    George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is adding four new stylish restaurants to its Terminal E. Done in collaboration with OTG, an airport experience consultant, the restaurants will be available for United Airlines customers to enjoy. 

    OTG is no stranger to airport dining renovations. The company has also worked its magic on United's Terminal at Newark Airport, JetBlue's terminal at JFK International, American's terminal in Philadelphia. 

    Read More:A new $11.7 billion airport just opened in Turkey, and it could become one of the world's biggest. Take a look inside the giant hub.

    The four new restaurants created for Terminal E were designed by Rockwell Group and all feature unique architecture and eye-catching layouts, with each restaurant having its own flavor and type of cuisine. 

    Q is a barbecue smokehouse with a meat-smoker built into the terminal. Gavi is an Italian restaurant and Tanglewood Grille is a Texas steakhouse. Yume is a Pan-Asian marketplace with a variety of food stations. 

    In addition to Terminal E, OTG has also worked to revamp Houston's Terminal B and Terminal C. In total, OTG's investment in United Houston terminals total $180 million. (United Airlines does not fly to Houston Hobby Airport.)

    Take a closer look at the four new dining options in Terminal E at George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston:

    SEE ALSO: These are the best and worst airports in America to get stranded at over the holiday season

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

    1. First up is Gavi. It's an Italian restaurant by Chef Ryan Pera.

    Gavi aims to mimic an outdoor Italian bistro.

    Its facade features a wavy black canopy and angular tree design.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    white house royals christmas

    The holiday season is a festive time for both ordinary people and public figures, when historic buildings where world leaders live and work are decked out in lights, tinsel, and enormous Christmas trees.

    In Windsor Castle, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding outfits are on display along with a 20-foot Christmas tree covered in 7,000 lights. For the Trumps' second Christmas in the White House, first lady Melania Trump drew upon the theme of "American Treasures" to design the decorations.

    Here's how the first family of the United States and the British royal family decorated their respective residences for the holidays this year.

    Queen Elizabeth usually spends her weekends at Windsor Castle, but the royal family goes to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk for Christmas.

    Royals have a black-tie dinner on Christmas Eve, then exchange gifts at teatime and attend church on Christmas Day.

    Christmas decorations at Windsor Castle went up in November.

    Staff members of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead installed the lights.

    In the castle's Crimson Drawing Room, a 15-foot tree is fittingly decorated with crimson ornaments.

    The Crimson Drawing Room is only open to visitors during the winter months.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Zuckerberg Musk Trump

    The last 12 months have been a strange and confusing time in tech, especially for the giants housed mostly in Silicon Valley. 

    This is the year that the default public attitude to tech firms such as Google and Facebook became one of suspicion, resulting in greater scrutiny from politicians and media. 

    Business Insider has captured something of the changing spirit with a list of the 17 most jaw-dropping quotes from 2018.

    The list is, perhaps unsurprisingly, jointly dominated by Facebook executives and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, both of whom had a trying year under the spotlight. Other figures include Steve Jobs, after the Apple cofounder's daughter Lisa wrote a poetic and devastating memoir which showed her father in a new light.

    SEE ALSO: Facebook endured a staggering number of scandals and controversies in 2018 — here they all are

    "You're getting nothing."

    It's an open secret that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was not only a visionary but an exceptionally difficult man.

    A memoir published this year by his daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, lends further nuanced depth to that image and examines their often frosty relationship.

    In one heartbreaking extract, told for the first time, Brennan-Jobs recalled that her father would replace every Porsche as soon as it got a scratch. She asked whether she could have one once he replaced it. 

    "You're not getting anything," she recalls him responding. "You understand? Nothing. You're getting nothing."

    "Funding secured."

    Elon Musk's Twitter activity prompted great scrutiny of the Tesla CEO this year, but the tweet that bit back hardest was his infamous claim that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private.

    The full tweet appeared to contain a marijuana reference. "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420," he wrote. "Funding secured."

    Ultimately, the tweet led to Musk being slapped with a $20 million fine from the SEC after it became apparent that funding had not in fact been secured. Under the terms of the settlement, Musk also had to step down as chairman of Tesla.

    "I saw him in the kitchen tucking his tail in between his legs scrounging for investors to cover his ass after that tweet."

    A surprising twist in the tale of Elon Musk's "funding secured" debacle was when rapper Azealia Banks weighed in with her account of events.

    Banks claimed that after being invited to Musk's LA home to collaborate with Grimes, who was in a relationship with Musk at the time (it is unclear whether they are still a couple), she saw him scrambling for investors.

    "They bring me out there on the premise that we would hang and make music," Banks told Business Insider in a DM. "But his dumbass kept tweeting and tucked his dick in between his ass cheeks once shit hit the fan.

    "I saw him in the kitchen tucking his tail in between his legs scrounging for investors to cover his ass after that tweet. He was stressed and red in the face."

    Banks later wrote an apology letter to Musk, saying "I feel terrible about everything."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    elon musk shrug tesla IPO new york

    • Saxo Bank annually publishes a list of outrageous predictions for the year ahead.
    • This year's forecast features recessions in two economic heavyweights, and the possibility of solar-related chaos.
    • The predictions include a surprise potential buyer to take Tesla private. 

    Saxo Bank's annual series of outrageous predictions is here with this year's theme covering a world that is increasingly saying "enough is enough." 

    The Danish firm has compiled 10 possibilities with a low chance of happening, but that challenge investors to think outside the box on risk within financial markets and the world more generally. While these predictions are not Saxo's official expectations for the year ahead, they point out some of the risks that have been unallocated by the market so far. 

    "This year’s edition has a unifying theme of 'enough is enough,' said Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank. "A world running on empty will have to wake up and start creating reforms, not because it wants to but because it has to." 

    "The signs are everywhere," he said. "2019 will mark a profound pivot away from this mentality as we are reaching the end of the road in piling on new debt and next year will see us all beginning to pay the piper for our errant ways."

    Check out the compilation of Saxo's 10 outrageous predictions below.

    SEE ALSO: Global stocks drop after Trump trade-war jitters spark US bloodbath

    1. EU announces a "debt jubilee"

    Saxo said that unsustainable levels of public debt, a populist revolt, rising interest rates from European Central Bank (ECB), and sluggish growth could lead the EU to announce a debt jubilee in 2019, writing off large amounts of debt across the continent.

    Possible eurozone contagion could lead to the ECB backing monetisation if the EU lurches into recession. Italy's budget crisis and Greece's ongoing issues could damage confidence while the yellow vest protests in France indicate that people are unhappy with the status quo. 

    2. Apple "secures funding" to buy Tesla at $520/share

    Elon Musk's controversial tweet suggesting that Tesla had secured funding at $420 a share drew the ire of investors and later the SEC. Saxo playfully suggests that Apple, rather than Saudi Arabia, could be a new option for the electric vehicle maker. 

    Saxo points out that Apple is keen to move deeper into consumers lives and suggests that automobiles could be the next frontier as vehicles become increasingly connected to technology. A 40% premium on Tesla's share price could make another Musk "funding secured" tweet a possibility in 2019. 

    3. Trump tells Powell: "You’re fired"

    Former Apprentice star and current US President Donald Trump has made no secret of his displeasure at the Federal Reserve in recent months and Saxo reckons Jerome Powell could hear the immortal words "you're fired" in 2019. 

    December's proposed rate hike could send equity markets off a cliff in Q1 2019, according to Saxo's outrageous predictions, giving Trump the opportunity to bring in the dovish Minnesota Fed President Neel Kashkari instead. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    love actually

    • Different countries have different favourite Christmas films.
    • Here are five festive favourites from around the world. 

    There's nothing like sitting down in front of your favourite festive film at Christmas time. People may disagree about what the ultimate Christmas film is, but in the UK, "Love Actually" is often hailed as one of the top ones.

    Around the world, people have different cult classics they like to settle down with. Language experts at Babbel came up with a list of five foreign holiday films you could try out this year. 

    Whether you're into romantic comedies or historical dramas, there's something for everyone, they say.

    Scroll down to find your new Christmas favourite. 

    Eastern Europe — Tři Oříšky pro Popelku (Three Wishes for Cinderella)

    According to Babbel's experts, this film is like Cinderella, but better. The film was originally released in both Czech and German — "Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel"— in 1973, and has become a seasonal tradition in Eastern Europe. It's broadcast every Christmas Eve in Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Czechia.

    The storyline is the same as Disney's "Cinderella" you may be familiar with, except instead of a Fairy Godmother, three hazelnuts grant Cinderella's wishes.

    Germany — Alles ist Liebe (All is Love)

    "Alles ist Liebe" is Europe's response to Love Actually. It's the story of ten men and women in Frankfurt whose stories intersect during the Christmas season. It was released in 2014, seven years after "Alles is Liefde," which is a Dutch reinterpretation of Love Actually. Babbel's experts say you could argue Love Actually created its own genre of international film.

    France — Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)

    This film is famous for the scene where Wilhelm, the German Crown Prince, sent an opera singer to the front lines and brought WW1 to a standstill on 25th December 1914. It follows the lives of six soldiers on various sides of the war, and highlights the inhumanity of battle. It was nominated for best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Pokemon Phone Gamers

    • Lots of classic games from years past are available as free apps for iPhones and Android.
    • We've collected our favorites. 

    You've got a new phone and you want something to play on it.

    But instead of focusing on games that might cost money or are trendy now — looking at you, "Fortnite"— why not take a moment to go through the classics?

    Lots of games you may have loved in the past are available on the iPhone and Android — and they're free.

    Here are some of our favorites: 

    SEE ALSO: 3 video games that deserve a second chance


    The classic "Solitaire" that comes installed on Windows is available for both Android and iOS. Get the version that Microsoft makes. 


    "Minesweeper" is free for iOS, although you can pay $2 for a premium version on iPhones. It's also free for Android, but there are ads.


    A fully licensed "Tetris" game is free for both iPhones and Android phones

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Nintendo Switch

    • The Nintendo Switch, the Japanese video game giant's latest console, is expected to be one of the most popular gifts of the holiday season.
    • Released in March 2017, the Switch is a hybrid console: It can be used as a handheld, or easily connected to a TV via a dock.
    • Like most modern video game consoles, the Switch also has a wide range of online and multimedia features.
    • Adults setting up parental controls for their children can use a separate app to monitor playtime and restrict inappropriate content.

    The Nintendo Switch is the fastest selling video game console of this generation, having sold more than 8.7 million units since its launch in March 2017.

    Plenty of people will be giving the console as a gift this season as well, and there are a few important things to keep in mind when first unboxing the new console. While the Switch does a good job of walking new players through the process of getting started, there are a couple of extra steps that could ultimately give you a better experience.

    Here's what you need to know to get the most out of your Nintendo Switch, and fast:

    SEE ALSO: Nintendo's Netflix-like service for classic games is a shattering disappointment, but it's so inexpensive that you should try it anyway

    SEE ALSO: 5 hidden PlayStation 4 features only power users know about

    Create a new profile for everyone who will use the Switch.

    You'll create your first user as soon as you turn the Switch on.

    If the console is being shared by family members or friend, though, its important to create a user for everyone who plans to play. Creating separate users will allow players to maintain separate save data for their games, making sure that no one accidentally erases anybody else's game. 

    The Switch will also ask users to link or create a free Nintendo account. Not every user needs their own Nintendo account — but you'll need one to buy games from the digital eShop. Users can have different Nintendo accounts on the same Switch to make their own separate purchases, if they so choose. Every user on the Switch will be able to play games that are installed under different accounts.

    Learn how to connect Switch Joy-Cons and other controllers.

    In addition to being a portable hybrid console, one of the Switch's most impressive features are its Joy-Con controllers. The Joy-Cons on the side of the Switch can be used as a pair, for a traditional gamepad experience, or on their lonesome as individual controllers. That means that you have two controllers, right out of the box — though they're a little small for most adult hands. 

    The Switch will also let other controllers, including more J0y-Cons or the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, connect via bluetooth or USB.

    If you have trouble connecting your controllers, or want to separate your Joy-Cons, navigate to the Change Grip menu to see exactly which controller is assigned to which player. To get there, hit the Home button on the controller, and navigate below your library of games. 

    On the main menu, the Switch will also show you which controller is being used, and which way you should be holding your Joy Con, with an icon in the lower left-hand corner.

    Some controllers and accessories that were originally designed for Nintendo's Wii U actually work with the Switch, like the "Pokken Tournament" controller and the GameCube controller adapter, which can be used to connect up to four controllers for "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate."


    Make sure your system software is up to date.

    Your system should prompt you to update as soon as you connect it to the internet. If your console isn't up to date, you'll lose access to important online features and game specific updates. Unfortunately, Nintendo's online services aren't the fastest and the updates need to be downloaded directly to the system. Expect it to get even slower than normal on Christmas morning, as every new Switch owner does the exact same thing. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Ford raptor (1).JPG

    • 2018 was possibly the wildest year in the history of the auto industry — and it wasn't all because of Tesla and Elon Musk!
    • Auto sales continued to boom in the US, gas prices stayed relatively low, self-driving car companies moved closer to commercialization, electric cars arrived in force, and Uber and Lyft announced IPO intentions.
    • The industry also lost one of its greats in FCA and Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died at 66.

    Every year, I like to look back of the highs and lows of the auto industry and pick out the biggest stories. 

    For 2018, I had so many that the choosing wasn't easy. I've zeroed in on 13 here, but I think I could have listed twice that many.

    Looking ahead, it's hard to imagine that 2019 will be as wild. But then again, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk aren't going anywhere, auto sales in the US continue to boom, and nobody knows what will happen to jailed former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn.

    But for now, let's review that year that's passed:

    SEE ALSO: Tesla has achieved something that nobody in the auto industry thought was possible

    Elon Musk, Elon Musk, and yet more Elon Musk.

    The already incredibly interesting Mr. Musk pushed it right over the edge in 2018. And then he pushed it some more.

    He all but took over personal oversight of Tesla's troubled Model 3 sedan rollout. He slept at his factories, possibly sometimes with the assistance of Ambien. He started dating musician Grimes. He flipped out on Wall Street analysts on an earnings call. He later apologized the analysts for flipping on their earnings call. He made a weak pot joke when he decided to float a Tesla go-private scheme on Twitter ($420? Dude!). The was investigated by the SEC for said tweet and had to pay a fine and resign as chairman of Tesla. He wept in an interview with the New York Times. He talked tough in an interview with "60 Minutes." He accused a rescue diver during the Thai cave crisis of being a pedophile (and later apologized).

    There were many, many, many tweets. I've probably missed a few choice Muskisms. He was seemingly everywhere. And by the end of it all ... Tesla was the most valuable US carmaker, by market capitalization, surpassing GM.

    The Tesla Model 3 arrives in force.

    The Model 3 was officially launched in July of 2017, but building and delivering the 400,000 pre-ordered vehicles to customers proved to be a titanic challenge for Tesla. By the end of the year, just a few thousand had left the factory. 

    The situation didn't improve much in the first half of 2018, as Tesla struggled through an intense version of what Musk called "production hell." 

    But by mid-2018, the situation was under control. Sort of. An innovative Model 3 automated production line wasn't working properly, leading the carmaker to erect a temporary assembly line in its parking lot — under a tent! The $35,000 mass-market Model 3 also didn't materialize, as Tesla concentrated on upscale trim levels, including the almost $80,000 Performance version.

    As the year closed out, Model 3 production was relatively robust, and Tesla was on track to produce twice as many vehicles — 200,000 or more — as it did in 2017.

    Near-record US auto sales hold up.

    The record sales year of 2015 — when 17.5 million new cars, trucks, and SUVs were sold in the US — was followed by a new record in 2016 (17.55 million) and a near-record in 2017 (17.2 million). 

    A US market above 17 million is considered robust, so for the past few years, forecasts of a downturn have been common. 

    It hasn't yet arrived, although sales have been slipping, in a month-by-month basis. And although the final 2018 numbers haven't come in, it looks as though another 17-million-plus year will be in the books. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    airport lounges thumb

    • Airport lounges are advertised as super-exclusive and luxurious oases that offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of a crowded airport.
    • But they're not always as grand as they might seem.
    • Many of these lounges are actually often overcrowded and place limits on free drinks.


    Exclusive airport lounges, usually open only to first-class fliers or members of a credit card rewards program, are meant to serve as relaxing refuges from loud, crowded airports.

    But that's not always the case.

    Many airport lounges tend to be overcrowded and difficult to get into, and once you do get in, you'll find that once-gourmet dining options have been replaced with mediocre buffets or finger foods. And limitless alcoholic beverages are no longer a guarantee.

    Here's what some airport lounges look like today. 

    SEE ALSO: Outrageous photos show what flying on private jets is really like, from private bedrooms with plush bedding to exquisitely crafted meals served with Champagne

    DON'T MISS: The top 14 boutique hotels in the world, from a romantic retreat in South Africa to a private villa in Thailand

    You might think of airport lounges as relaxing retreats from the hectic hustle and bustle of a typical airport.

    These exclusive areas are usually only open to first-class fliers or members of a credit card rewards program.

    Instagram Embed:
    Width: 540px


    Airlines tout them as a refuge where you can wait for your flight in peaceful solitude.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    iphone xr blue

    • You may have received a new iPhone this holiday season.
    • Here are 33 great apps to download for it. 

    Deciding which apps to download from Apple's App Store can be daunting, especially when you have a new phone. After all, there are millions of apps choose from.

    We've rounded up 33 of the best apps you should download first on your iPhone. There are some obvious choices on this list, but we've also chosen a few hidden gems that the Tech Insider staff uses and loves.

    Let's check them out:

    Citizen lets you see if there are emergencies or crimes nearby.

    Citizen is a free app.

    Moment helps you track screen time. Apple has built-in tools, but a lot of people in the tech world use this app.

    Moment is a free app with in-app purchases.

    Mindbody lets you book and search workout classes on the go.

    Mindbody is a free app. The classes cost money.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    aerie 3423

    • 2018 was a difficult year for many retailers — and when we visited their stores, it showed
    • But of the dozens of stores we visited this year, TJ Maxx, Kohl's, Five Below, and Aerie stood out from the rest. 
    • These were some of the best stores we shopped at in 2018. 

    2018 was a difficult year for some retailers. Many of the dozens of stores we visited this year were either in complete disarray or marred by empty shelves. 

    But while some stores were barely hanging on, others were thriving.

    Kohl's, for example, reported comparable sales were up 2.5% in the third quarter. When we visited a Kohl's store recently, we found that it was well-organized, clean, and affordable. Part of why Kohl's is able to continue performing well, despite the ongoing retail apocalypse, is because of its store locations in suburban strip malls, a high demand for budget options, and its continued focus on e-commerce, such as with its expanding partnership with Amazon.

    Aerie is another store that is well-loved by shoppers — especially teens. In the third quarter of 2018, American Eagle reported that comparable sales were up 32% at Aerie. Beyond being pleasant to shop at, Aerie is often praised for being a relatable brand, especially because of its "real" ads with no photoshopping and its emphasis on comfort.

    Off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and dollar stores also had a great year because of an increased demand for budget products. While dollar stores like Dollar General and Dollar Tree both saw comparable sales growth each quarter this year, Five Below stood out. Five Below was much cleaner, much more organized, and overall better to shop it. 

    Here are some of the best stores we visited in 2018: 

    SEE ALSO: We shopped at American Eagle's Aerie store and saw why it's achieved explosive success while Victoria's Secret has struggled

    TJ Maxx was among the best stores we visited this year.

    TJ Maxx's parent company, TJX Companies, reported on November 20 that comparable sales were up 9% at TJ Maxx and Marshalls in the most recent fiscal quarter.

    On a recent store visit, we found the off-price retailer was disorganized, but it was still cleaner and brighter than other similar stores, like Burlington.

    Read more: We shopped at TJ Maxx and Burlington to see which was a better discount store, and the winner was clear for a key reason

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    sold home

    • Many cities and towns have taken to giving away abandoned homes for free, or selling them at minimal prices.
    • Some local governments even offer stipends or discounts to encourage buyers to renovate old properties.
    • While the offerings may seem like a steal, rehabilitating a home can be quite costly.

    The US housing market is entering the new year on dismal footing. Economists predict that home prices will continue to rise amid a nationwide uptick in homelessness

    By October, new home sales had fallen for the fifth month in a row, marking the steepest decline since 2017

    Even in the midst of a housing slowdown, there are still plenty of ways to find cheap real estate, both within and outside the US. You just have to know where to look. 

    In areas where homes are old or unoccupied, governments occasionally offer subsidies to finance a renovation. In other cases, homeowners are willing to list their properties at little to no cost. 

    We've rounded up the locations where you can find a home for free or at a major discount. 

    The list includes small towns like Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as major urban areas like Baltimore, Maryland, and Tokyo, Japan. Take a look.

    Homeowners in Tokyo are listing their abandoned properties for free.

    Tokyo has been building like crazy, but the city still struggles to get rid of its unoccupied and deserted homes. The Japan Times recently reported that more than one in 10 homes in Tokyo are empty.

    Part of this has to do with the shrinking size of Japan's population, which means fewer buyers. It's also considered bad luck in Japan to purchase a home that has witnessed a murder, suicide, or "lonely death" (one that occurred in isolation). 

    For this reason, many properties are being given away for free on online databases called "akiya banks," a reference to the Japanese word for "empty home."Others are being sold for as little as $4.

    Read more: Millions of Japanese homes are abandoned, and owners are giving them away for free


    New Haven, Connecticut, is giving away up to $42,500 in housing discounts to first-time homebuyers.

    First-time homebuyers in New Haven are eligible to receive up to $10,000 to cover the closing costs or the down payments on their homes. The subsidy comes in the form of an interest-free loan, which is fully forgiven after five years.

    City employees, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and members of the military receive an additional $2,500 off.

    On top of that, the city is giving away $30,000 to those who renovate their homes using energy-saving upgrades.



    Tulsa, Oklahoma, offers remote workers a 33% discount on a fully furnished apartment for three months.

    The Tulsa Remote program is offering a small group of digital nomads — people with the freedom to work from anywhere — up to $10,000 to move to the city.

    While the stipend doesn't go directly toward housing, the program offers a 33% discount on fully furnished apartments in the Brady Arts District, with utilities thrown in for free.

    Workers are expected to live in Tulsa for a full year, but the apartment discount expires at the end of three months. At that time, they'll have to cover their own rent, which is still among the cheapest in the nation

    Read more:Tulsa, Oklahoma, is paying remote workers $10,000 to live there. They'll even throw in a discounted apartment.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    woman reading book

    • It was hard to keep up with all the great books published in 2018 — but a few stood out as insightful, entertaining, and helpful.
    • We've defined "business books" as reporting on businesses and the economy, as well as career and finance guides.
    • Highlights include "Bad Blood" by John Carreyrou, "Imagine it Forward" by Beth Comstock, and "Big Debt Crises" by Ray Dalio.

    If you've got some time off to finally catch up on your reading, or you're still looking for a last minute holiday present, now's a great time to look through the best business books of 2018.

    A bonus just for you: Click here to claim 30 days of access to Business Insider PRIME

    This year's highlights include a corporate tale of deception that seems too good to be true, an executive's memoir that's also a comprehensive career guide, and investing insights from two of the greatest to ever do it.

    Here are our favorites.

    SEE ALSO: I spent 2018 speaking with CEOs, billionaires, and a Nobel laureate, and there are 15 lessons I just can't seem to forget

    'Bad Blood' by John Carreyrou

    The medical device startup Theranos was once the world's hottest startup, its founder Elizabeth Holmes— deemed the "youngest self-made female billionaire"— a revolutionary. But after some digging into the company, it all unraveled.

    Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou has the definitive account of what happened at Theranos, and how it was revealed to have been built on lies, secrecy, and an oppressive culture.

    It's a story that sometimes sounds too wild to even be true, but Carreyou's narrative is an excellent piece of journalism.

    Find it here »

    'Imagine It Forward' by Beth Comstock with Tahl Raz

    "Imagine It Forward" is Beth Comstock's memoir of her near 30-year career as an executive at General Electric and NBC.

    It's full of juicy tidbits, like the time Comstock interviewed with Steve Jobs for a position at Apple and her meetings with Jack Welch. But the book also features practical advice for people at any level of an organization, like the idea that you can't expect a promotion to fall in your lap if you never expressed that you wanted it.

    The book inspires readers to be creative and innovative, constantly pushing boundaries, regardless of their level in the corporate hierarchy. Comstock writes that she used to hand out "permission slips" to managers, so they would feel free to take risks that could potentially benefit the organization. The idea is to stop making excuses about why you can't take on big challenges and start holding yourself accountable.

    Find it here »

    'Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises' by Ray Dalio

    Ray Dalio is the founder and co-CIO of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. Last year, he offered his account of the firm's highly unusual culture and how it's an extension of his life philosophy with "Principles: Life and Work," but this year he released a book on the economy.

    "Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises" arrived on the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis, and shows how Dalio and his team learned from and navigated it.

    It's a dense book, not unlike an economics text book, but you've got Dalio as your guide throughout, keeping the material as clear as possible. It's essential reading if you want to truly understand what happened in the last crisis and what to expect from the inevitable next one.

    Find it here »

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    tiny house mackenzie duncan

    • A "tiny house" typically ranges from 100 to 400 square feet, less than a sixth of the size of an average house.
    • Canadian photographer Mackenzie Duncan lives in a tiny house on Vancouver Island.
    • He lives by a zero-waste philosophy, owns four plates, and doesn't have a TV.


    As real estate prices continue to rise, many people are opting for smaller spaces and, ultimately, simpler lives. Tiny living isn't just an Instagram trend, but rather a way into a more budget-conscious, eco-friendly lifestyle.

    Typically ranging from 100 to 400 square feet, compared to the average of 2,598 square feet for new US houses built in 2013, tiny homes not only require less resources to build, but produce only about 7% of the carbon-dioxide emissions of a full-size house, according to the American Institute of Architects.

    Living in a space as small as your typical two-car garage isn't all that difficult, at least for someone like Canada-based photographer Mackenzie Duncan, who will tell you it's certainly more glamorous than living in a van, which he has also done.

    Although tiny house living isn't without its challenges, Duncan told Business Insider that the little bit of extra work he's had to put in is well worth it in the end.

    SEE ALSO: The tallest building in every US state

    Duncan started building his rustic cabin on Vancouver Island a year and a half ago, after getting a taste of tiny living in a converted van.

    "I just pretty much learned that you can house-hack your way into living for free," he said.

    Because Canada doesn't require a builder's permit for any detached building that is less than 107 square feet, he capped his little abode at 104, which technically classifies it as an accessory.

    The cabin is in the backyard of a bigger house Duncan co-owns and rents out to several tenants. It's about a 12-minute bike ride to downtown Victoria on a third-of-an-acre plot of land.

    Duncan is still in the process of hooking up solar energy, setting up a self-contained composting toilet, and finishing up construction on his outdoor shower. For now, he borrows electricity and hot water from the big house.

    Duncan is a self-proclaimed morning person and wakes up around 6 a.m. each day. He squeezes in a 15-minute meditation session and some stretching before heading downstairs for his "tiny house workout routine," which includes chin-ups on the rafters and sit-ups with feet tucked under the kitchen counter.

    "There's just enough room to put a yoga mat down and do some poses, but no twists and turns," he said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Butterfinger has a new recipe rolling out in 2019. 
    • The new recipe uses a different type of peanut and more cocoa, and certain ingredients will be cut. 
    • We compared the new and old Butterfinger bars and found the revamped candy far exceeds its predecessor. 

    There's a new Butterfinger in town. 

    Butterfinger recently announced a radical revamp for the 95-year-old brand. Starting in 2019, the candy will have a new recipe and wrapper; the bars will use a different type of peanut and more cocoa, and certain ingredients will be cut. 

    "The priority is really bringing Butterfinger back into the spotlight as a modern-day icon, because it hadn't gotten the attention it warrants in recent years," Kristen Mandel, who oversees the brand's marketing, told Business Insider. "We're excited to have all the resources and investment to put behind it." 

    Business Insider had the chance to get our hands on the new Butterfinger bar early. We decided to try Butterfinger 2.0 alongside the candy as it is currently sold. 

     Here's how the old and the new compare: 

    SEE ALSO: Burger King is forcing customers to go to McDonald's for one-cent Whoppers. Here are 7 of the weirdest deals and ads in recent fast-food history.

    The difference between the two bars is clear from the packaging alone. While Butterfinger's wrapper has been getting more yellow, the new bar (on top) is a nearly neon shade, with a promise of an "improved recipe" in the corner.

    Upon unwrapping, the difference is more nuanced, but still apparent. The new bar is slightly shorter but wider.

    But, the revelation of the new Butterfinger — on the right — only becomes clear when you take a bite. Butterfinger's "crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery" core has always been key to the candy's charm, despite its saccharine taste and tendency to cement teeth together.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    costco wine 5

    • Costco wines prove to be a major draw for some members. 
    • Business Insider spoke to Costco Wine Blog founder Andrew Cullen and reviewer Erin Reyes about their top strategies for finding great wines at a good value. 
    • They recommended tips like always checking the vintage year and making friends with the warehouse wine advisor.

    Costco wines, like just about everything else at the warehouse chain, have accrued somewhat of a cult following.

    There's a whole blog — aptly named the Costco Wine Blog— dedicated to reviewing all the whites, reds, rosés, and bubblies the retailer has to offer. The blog is completely independent of Costco, and it's attracted a community of fans.

    "Costco is almost like a curated wine collection for members," blog founder and editor Andrew Cullen told Business Insider. "You're not going to go there and find whatever bottle you may be looking for."

    Business Insider recently spoke to Cullen and contributing reviewer Erin Reyes to get their top tips on how to make the most of your next wine run at Costco. Both agreed that the chain tends to offer high-quality wines for reasonable prices.

    "We all want to find really good wine at really good prices," Cullen said. "Costco's a really good place to do that."

    Here are their top tips for buying wine at Costco:

    SEE ALSO: From entire lawn sets to used toilets, these are the most ridiculous returns employees from Costco, Walmart, and Target say they've ever gotten

    DON'T MISS: Costco sells millions of pumpkin pies every year — and the recipe has apparently been the same since 1987

    SEE ALSO: 50 foods that Costco employees and members love

    Look out for Kirkland wines ...

    "Having access to the selection of Kirkland Signature wines is a huge, huge benefit for any Costco member and wine shopper," Cullen said. "You can only get them at Costco. You're getting access to really good wines from top wine regions at really good prices, typically."

    ... and take a closer look at the labels.

    Costco has a history of partnering up with quality brands in order to craft its Kirkland products. Kirkland wines are no exception. And there's a subtle strategy for checking out where your wine is coming from.

    Cullen said that occasionally, Costco wines list the winemaker on the back of the bottle.

    "Then you can Google him or her and find out where they're producing wine," he said. "Then you can narrow it down and be like, 'Well it's so and so winemaker, and he's in Washington state, and they produce from this vineyard, so this is probably coming from this area or this vineyard.'"

    Don't be afraid to dig around.

    Cullen said that he's never afraid to dig around in the wine section of the warehouse.

    "People think you're really weird when you're doing that, but it's totally worth it," he said.

    That's because different vintages tend to be thrown in the bins together.

    "Don't just grab the first bottle," Reyes said. She said that while vintage might not matter as much for lower-end wines, for high-ticket bottles it's far more crucial.

    Cullen described finding separate vintages at the same price.  

    "If there are a bunch of '15s on top, you might dig down and find a '14," he said. "You might even find a '13 vintage, stuck in there. It doesn't hurt to look."

    Cullen also recommended checking beneath the wooden racks, where you might also find a forgotten bottle of an otherwise sold-out wine. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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