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New apartments are popping up all over DC and the construction cranes dotting the skyline tell us there’s more to come. We went snooping around some of the newest communities to see what new amenities and luxury finishes the brand new apartments are introducing to the DC market. From saunas to spin rooms, these communities are serving up serious spa-like settings, luxury amenities, and breathtaking views. Check out our list of six brand new must see apartment communities.
1240 4th Street NE Washington, DC 20002
We don’t know what’s better…a Trader Joes on the ground floor or the first-month free move-in promotion! The Edison is an Instagrammer’s dream. The courtyard features a gorgeous mural by a local artist and a super relaxing water feature. What’s more, the Edison is set in the Union Market District-one of our favorite spots in all of DC. This location puts you two blocks from the Noma Metro red line and one block to Union Market and all their glorious vendors and Insta worthy artwork.
Agora at the Collective
800 New Jersey Ave SE Washington, DC 20003
Agora is the brand new second building of the luxury apartment community called The Collective. Located in the Capitol Riverfront at 800 New Jersey Ave SE Washington, DC, Agora boasts amenities such as an infinity pool with unmatched Capitol views, Peloton cycling room, massage rooms, and golf simulator. Agora offers studio to three-bedroom apartment homes ranging in size from 400 to 3113 sq.ft. This rental community is pet-friendly, welcoming both cats and dogs. However, you can opt to live on a pet-free floor.
950 Maine Avenue SW Washington, DC 20024
With the Anthem music venue on the ground floor…this truly is DC living amplified. The Channel District Wharf is a brand new apartment community in one of DC’s newest neighborhoods. From the infinity pool overlooking the waterfront to the custom art installations in the common areas, there is always something new to see. The location puts you walking distance to the monuments and the National Mall and of course, living at the Wharf, you have several bars and restaurants at your doorstep. They are currently offering one month free, so if you are looking to move this summer, add them to your list!
South Cathedral Mansions
2900 Connecticut Ave NW Washington, DC 20008
South Cathedral Mansions is the best of both worlds; modern luxury with charming old-world architecture. This fully restored community is stunning. Be sure to check out their 6000 square foot fitness center including steam rooms. The apartments feature smart home features like keyless entry and smart thermostats. The brand new apartments also have washers and dryers in the apartments, quartz countertops, and our favorite gas stoves.
1401 S St NW Washington, DC 20009
Located in the Logan Circle – U Street neighborhood that’s redefining fashion, food, and fun in D.C., District is refreshingly sophisticated. Blending the best of old and new, the 125-residence building contrasts a historic warm, worn brick with a sleek, modern façade. Inside, each high-quality residence creates an urban oasis. Whether it’s to curl up with a good read by the fireplace in the lounge or impress dinner party guests with panoramic views on the rooftop terrace, District has the right atmosphere and amenities.
Willow and Maple
6918 Willow Street NW Washington, DC 20012
Cutting edge amenities, meticulously-groomed grounds, and a dedicated staff contribute to a higher standard of living. Convenient shopping, award-winning schools, local museums, and parks are all close at hand, with sponsored activities to develop new hobbies while getting to know your neighbors.
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With our feeds now being flooded with grim news reports, we thought it’d be good to distract ourselves by looking into the long, twisted history of an iconic property that has stood the test of time.
You might already be familiar with The Breakers, a Beaux Arts masterpiece in Newport, Rhode Island, which was built in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. But just in case you’re not, we’re here to spread the knowledge and talk you through the history of this piece of real estate eye candy.
The Breakers, Part One
The original Breakers property was completed way back in 1878, and at the time, it was the crown jewel of Newport. The Queen Anne-style cottage was designed by architectural firm Peabody and Stearns for tobacco tycoon Pierre Lorillard IV. It was built along the Cliff Walk on Ochre Point Avenue, set on a sprawling estate with jaw-dropping views of the ocean.
The stunning mansion was purchased by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in the fall of 1885, for a price tag of $400,000 — in the largest real estate deal ever signed in the area at the time. Vanderbilt then rehired Peabody and Stearns to remodel the property, spending roughly $500,000 more in upgrades and renovations.
Sadly, this investment was soon to go to waste, as the mansion was heavily damaged in an 1892 fire that started in the kitchen. However, Vanderbilt wasn’t about to lose the property, and he soon undertook a redevelopment project that would rebuild The Breakers from the ashes – in a big, big way.
Keep reading: The Three (Tragic) Lives of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin House
The Breakers, Part Deux
After his beautiful Newport summer house burned down in an unexpected fire, Cornelius Vanderbilt II wasted no time in gathering a team to rebuild the property. He enlisted the help of renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt, who’s also responsible for the Biltmore Estate, to rebuild The Breakers at 44 Ochre Point Avenue.
The second, much bigger version of The Breakers was completed in 1895, and it was undoubtedly the most opulent and most impressive estate in Newport – again.
The lavish interiors were designed by Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman, in a style reminiscent of French chateaux like The Versailles. The design team used materials and pieces imported from Italy, France and Africa, and the intricate details, rare woods and mosaics were brought here from all around the world.
The new estate featured 62,482 square feet of living space across a total of 70 rooms, set on a sprawling 14-acre oceanfront lot. The opulent Gilded Age mansion is divided across five floors, and it’s easy to lose track of all the rooms in the house.
The basement level contained a laundry room and staff restrooms. Above, the first floor features an entrance foyer, a gentleman’s reception room, a ladies’ reception room, a massive great hall, an arcade, a library, a music room, a morning room, a lower loggia, a billiards room, a dining room, a breakfast room, pantry, and kitchen.
The second floor of The Breakers included separate bedrooms for Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt, their daughter Gertrude’s bedroom, Countess Szechenyi’s bedroom, as well as a guest room and an upper loggia. The third floor offered additional staff bedrooms, as well as a sitting room designed by Ogden Codman in a style inspired by Louis XVI. Finally, The Breakers also featured an attic floor.
Pretty modest, right? The Vanderbilts’ penchant for opulence is what ultimately got family heirs in trouble in the 2000s.
SEE ALSO: The Story of the Opulent Mansion Aaron Spelling Built in Holmby Hills
Breaking Ties With Tradition
After Cornelius Vanderbilt II died in 1899 at age 55, he left The Breakers to his wife, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt. After she herself passed, her youngest daughter, Countess Gladys Szechenyi, inherited the Newport summer ‘cottage.’ You’re thinking, ‘not too shabby for Gladys,’ right? Well, think again.
Maintaining and upkeeping a property of this magnitude was no easy task, and Gladys soon found herself overwhelmed. She leased the property to The Preservation Society of Newport County in 1948, for a modicum of $1 per year. Fast forward to 1972, and the society bought the property from Gladys’ daughter, Countess Sylvia Szápáry, for $365,000.
The deal included an agreement that Sylvia was granted life tenancy, and she continued to live at The Breakers until her death in 1998. The Society then agreed to allow her family to continue to live on the property’s third floor, which has remained closed off to the public. The rest of the estate was preserved and opened to visitors as sort of a Gilded Age museum, and for many years, The Breakers was the most visited attraction in the area.
It was business as usual for the Vanderbilts and The Preservation Society for many years, with the two parties living in harmony. That all changed when The Society came up with plans to build a new welcome center right on the garden, an idea that the Vanderbilts heavily opposed.
The Breakers Adds Welcome Center, Vanderbilts No Longer Welcome
Despite protest from historians, neighborhood groups and Vanderbilt family members, the Newport Zoning Board approved the new welcome center in 2015. The family took matters to the Supreme Court, but they had no luck, and plans moved forward with the project.
Things turned controversial in 2018, when news broke out that Gladys and Paul Szápáry, Countess Gladys Szechenyi’s heirs, were to vacate their 12,500-square-foot quarters on the third floor of The Breakers. The Society released a statement saying that the mansion’s outdated plumbing, electrical, and ventilation systems were no longer fit for residential use, and that this was endangering the entire structure.
Despite the fact that this was a joint statement by The Preservation Society and the Vanderbilts, a lot of experts weighed in to say that this move was merely payback for the family’s opposition to the welcome center. Various concerns had been raised, not just from the family, that the modern structure didn’t belong on the historic grounds of The Breakers. The Society had considered another site for the project, on land they owned right across the street, but decided instead to stick to the estate’s garden.
The Preservation Society moved on with the project, and the $5.5 million, 3,750-square-foot welcome center opened in June 2018. The center includes ticketing stations, interactive screens showcasing the history of the estate, as well as bathrooms and a cafe.
We’re not going to take sides here. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that century-old estates like The Breakers are brought up to modern standards. The grandest chateaux and palaces of the world have taken this step. However, in the words of Paul and Gladys Szápáry’s cousin Jamie Wade Comstock, ‘visitors will soon find that the gilded cage was much more interesting when it still had the birds inside it.’
Featured image courtesy of UpstateNYer, Wikimedia Commons
More iconic homes
The Mysterious Allure of Stephen King’s House, the Beating Heart of Bangor, Maine“Neverland” No More! The Sycamore Valley Ranch is Much More than Michael Jackson’s Former Home Ernest Hemingway’s Iconic House in Key West Stands Tall and Mighty After 168 Hurricane Seasons Mindy Kaling is Moving Into Frank Sinatra’s Beach House in Malibu, Known as Ol’ Blue Eyes’ “Happiest Place on Earth”
Preparing for the big day? Here are some areas where you can cut costs.
The moment you get engaged, everyone wants to know: When is the wedding? Engagements can be simple when compared to weddings—unless you are eloping or having a courthouse ceremony. If you are wedding planning on a budget and your plans don’t include hiring a wedding planner, here are some money-saving tips for your wedding:
2018 national average: $1,6311
Not wearing your grandmother’s gown? Buying used or renting can be a cost-effective way to save money on your wedding. Because wedding dresses tend to be worn once and then preserved, they are usually in “like new” condition when sold secondhand. Many websites offer pre-owned wedding dresses from major designers for when you are wedding planning on a budget.
“We find it very rare that a bride finds sentimental value in her veil or headpiece unless it is an heirloom,” says Brittany Haas, CEO of Happily Ever Borrowed, an accessory rental store. “Accessories are generally an expensive afterthought,” she adds. “For example, the veil is something that you generally only wear for 15 minutes for your wedding day. Brides have so many more romantic things to spend on than an object only worn for 15 minutes.”
Local consignment stores also frequently carry wedding dresses, and sometimes a formal evening gown can double for your big day, which can help you save money on your wedding.
One Last Frog, suggests brides, “Shop at wholesale stores for a high quantity of decor and flowers. Typically, wholesale stores are more open to negotiation and will give you a better price for the quantity of items or flowers a bride will order.”
And once you have your flowers, if you have bridesmaids willing to help out, you can easily put together bouquets to help cut back on wedding costs.
The reception venue
2018 national average: $15,4391
Most wedding guides will tell you reception venues charge less if you get married “off-season” in January, February or March, or during the week instead of on the weekend. The main way to really save on your venue and cut back on wedding costs is to keep your guest list low (100 or less). A smaller guest list can help you save money on your wedding by lowering the cost for food, tables, chairs and drinks.
When comparing the prices of different venues, consider that going with an all-inclusive venue can be a good money-saving tip for your wedding, says Joyce Scardina Becker, designer-in-chief of Events of Distinction. “The reception site and the vendors may have prearranged financial agreements, making it easy and more cost-effective,” Becker says.
2018 national average: $70 per person1
Sit-down or buffet? “Many couples think that buffets are less expensive than a sit-down plated meal, but this is often not the case,” Becker says. “Many times buffets are more expensive because you have to offer more choices and you cannot control the quantity of food a guest takes. So you should check with your caterer before deciding on a buffet versus a sit-down dinner.”
If you’re wedding planning on a budget, food trucks can be an alternative to cut back on wedding costs, while providing a memorable guest experience.
When it comes to alcohol, Becker suggests:
Having a short cocktail hour—make it 45 minutes
Avoiding salty hors d’oeuvres (they make guests thirstier)
Uncorking bottles only as needed (a wedding planner or event organizer can control this)
Additionally, if your venue allows you to bring your own alcohol, wholesalers tend to offer lower prices and typically allow you to return any unopened bottles for credit. Bringing your own alcohol could help you save quite a bit of money on your wedding.
2018 national average: $2,6791
One of the easiest ways to cut back on wedding costs is to limit how long your photographer stays. If you’re getting married in the off-season, you’ll likely find better deals than those getting hitched in the summer and fall.
An often overlooked money-saving tip for your wedding: Contact local college students studying photography who are interested in expanding their portfolio. Some experienced photographers may also have assistants who charge less, while still providing good service.
Happily (and financially) ever after
While looking for ways to save money on your wedding may not sound romantic, it may be the best gift couples can give themselves in the long run. Utilizing these money-saving tips to cut back on wedding costs can mean more savings to put toward other financial goals as a couple—goals like buying a home, starting a family, saving for a child’s education or building an emergency fund.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
You’ve heard it said “Everything in moderation.” Like your brain will just know when it’s achieved maximum moderation and you’ll be fine. Who actually achieves their ideal of moderation?
I know a lot of people who think their addictive or impulsive personality means they can’t do moderation.
While there’s something to be said for how genetics and personality affect the purchases we make, overspending and impulsive spending are problems for everyone, regardless of personality type.
The idea that moderation must be organically practiced is a myth. Moderation is a skill that takes building and refinement.
There are actual steps you can take improve your willpower and moderation. It all starts with understanding it, so let’s get sciencey.
But first, if you like this topic I cover this and much more in my book The No-Spend Challenge Guide. Check it out to help you save more, spend less, and make the most of your time paying off debt.
In brain terms, the forehead is the prefrontal cortex of our brain. It’s in charge of executive functions like logic, planning, problem-solving, and impulse control.
According to a study on the prefrontal cortex and impulsive decision-making by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there are two types of impulsiveness.
The first is the brain places too much weight on immediate outcomes without considering the weight of future benefit, like choosing to have one cookie now instead of waiting to have two. The second is rapid habitual response without consideration of what the correct response should be.
The study further showed that people’s ability to think about long-term outcomes of their decisions was reduced by stress, distraction, even loud noises.
Got any of those?
We set these big goals for ourselves, to get out of debt, lose weight, stay off social media. Then we get down on ourselves when we’re buying cookies at 10 pm because we saw something unattainable on Facebook.
The willpower to choose moderation is finite. You wake up with the best intentions, have a great day and by the end of it you’re bingeing. Rest assured, you’re not hopeless; you’re normal.
The first step in getting your finances under control is knowing how to take care of your brain to set yourself up to make better decisions. You can have the strongest willpower of anyone you know or seemingly none at all and still be ok as long as you’re taking steps improve your decision-making brain.
There are five totally common sense, eye-roll inducing ways to set your brain up for success. But even though you know what they are they beg repeating. Because until you’re living on the beach with piles of money, you can use a reminder of the simple things that keep your brain and bank account healthy.
1. Manage Stress
When we started paying off our debt I was so stressed working multiple jobs and staring at my loan account that I got shingles. Thank God my body stopped me from living that way because chronic stress is horrible for your decision-making brain.
Chronic stress reduces resilience, impairs memory, and actually shrinks your brain cells. Stress isn’t just bad for the brain; it negatively affects your heart, immune system, and speeds aging. Nobody wants that.
Practice meditation and relaxation techniques regularly. Studies show that just eight weeks of brief daily meditation can increase gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. That means better impulse control and a bigger storehouse for willpower.
If you’re prone to stress avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. In addition to costing money, they’re stimulants so they increase whatever stress levels are already present.
2. Bombard Yourself with Encouragement
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Positive thinking expands your mind and makes you believe more is possible. It’s the difference between achieving outrageous goals and giving up. But just like willpower, positivity doesn’t last, you have to refill your tank daily.
But you can’t manufacture your own encouragement. You can only top this one off with a little help from your friends. And the more the better. Find friends, family, and mentors who get what you’re doing and ask them to keep you accountable but more so encouraged. And don’t be embarrassed if you need more encouragement than you assume is reasonable, everybody needs more on the front end of a big task.
Find 7-10 friends who’ll text you once a week with an encouraging quote or quality they see in you. We live up to the expectations set for us so make sure you surround yourself with people who know you can be great.
3. Sleep More
Sleep deprivation is a type of chronic stress so in addition to avoiding stimulant substances, try the relaxation techniques I mentioned earlier right before bed. It takes just one good night’s sleep to start improving prefrontal cortex function. Studies show that 6.5-7.5 hours of sleep is optimal.
Understand that the older you get the more care you have to take to sleep well, yes even in your 20’s. I used to be able to have a few glasses of wine before bed and now if I do that I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Pay attention to your sleep and avoid habits that impede it.
And design your bedroom as a place for sleep. Make your bedroom a place of tranquility and do your work outside of it. Training your brain to think night time is sleep time will improve your sleep.
Experts tell new moms to keep noise and light in the house during the day and quiet darkness at night so babies will learn the difference and develop a proper sleeping schedule. If you want to sleep like one, you should too.
When you’re stressed you release a stress hormone called cortisol. It’s designed to decrease your reaction time in cases of physical or mental stress. But if you’re stressed because of money and life problems and you don’t have any life-saving decisions to make, that cortisol just hangs around bullying your brain cells. The best way to burn off cortisol is through physical activity.
A mere 20-30 minutes of aerobic activity can reduce cortisol levels. So when you’re trying to work up the willpower to go to the gym know that you’re not just working your puff into tuff, you’re getting budgeting buff as well. (I’m sorry I love rhymes.)
Side note: Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) foods increase cortisol levels which can increase stress AND make it hard to fall asleep. Try consuming foods under 55 on the GI scale and see if it improves your sleep and stress levels.
5. Focus on One Thing at a Time
The less you have to think about and the fewer decisions you have to make, the better the ones you make will be. That’s the philosophy of the No Spend Challenge. By focusing on one thing you won’t have to make any other discretionary decisions about money.
I love the book The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I highly recommend it to anyone embarking on a major life-changing project, like paying off debt.
Instead of trying to master all your goals at the same time and inching forward on each of them only to give up one and throw yourself into another; The philosophy of the ONE thing is that by focusing your energy on one thing at a time you can get maximum results from it quickly and move from one thing to the next.
So if paying off debt is your ONE thing then make it your ONE thing so you can cut the clutter and achieve it fast. You’ve only got one brain, stop wearing it out and work it smarter, not harder, and you’ll discover an ease in budgeting and saving you didn’t know was possible.
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” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Motivation.png?fit=173%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Motivation.png?fit=346%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-title=”Why the Myth of Moderation is Keeping you in Debt – And How to Get Out” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1559″ src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/why-the-myth-of-moderation-is-keeping-you-in-debt-and-how-to-get-out.png” alt=”Everything in moderation quotes got me feeling deflated. I need more than motivational quotes. This has stuff I can act on.” width=”346″ height=”600″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/why-the-myth-of-moderation-is-keeping-you-in-debt-and-how-to-get-out.png 346w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Motivation.png?resize=173%2C300&ssl=1 173w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Motivation.png?resize=100%2C173&ssl=1 100w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Motivation.png?w=750&ssl=1 750w” sizes=”(max-width: 346px) 100vw, 346px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.
If you often find yourself conflicted while watching Dead to Me — Netflix’s hit drama series that recently launched its second season — you’re not alone. Sure, nobody wants the burden of all the secrets Jen and Judy are carrying, nor the pain that comes with them. At the same time, if you’re like me, you’ll find an irresistible pull to live in Jen and Judy’s world; and if you haven’t yet figured out why that is, then let’s break the spell together: it’s because of Jen’s house.
In fact, set decorators have made an extra effort to make Jen’s house in Dead to Me aspirational — with the bright, open spaces and luxurious decor standing in stark contrast with the dark storyline and the anger often showcased throughout the series.
And it only makes sense for Jen Harding — a successful local realtor, whose face is plastered on street benches throughout the area, as we learn very early on in the show — to own a beautiful, perfectly appointed beach house. The house itself is an extension of the character, and does a great job of complementing Jen’s character traits.
Does the house in Dead to Me exist in real-life?
Said to be in Laguna Hills, Jen’s house has been carefully picked to match her social status and character features. And while the team has scouted several homes in the Laguna Beach area, including going to open houses and looking up properties on Zillow and Redfin, they eventually settled on a Sherman Oaks house for exterior shots.
A real-life house at 3847 Deervale Drive in Sherman Oaks plays the part of Jen’s house in Dead to Me — but there is no guest house on that property. Judy’s guest house, along with the interiors of Jen’s house have been built on a sound stage.
Set decorator Brandi Kalish (who also did the interiors for other shows like Silicon Valley, You’re the Worst, and White Famous), opened up about the design choices for the Dead to Me house in a lengthy interview with Refinery29, where she even addressed some of the subtle changes we’re seeing inside the house in the show’s second season.
“A set is like a character. And, as a family lives in a house and they go through all their trials and tribulations, different layers of the characters will speak in the house. So we thought about what Jen is going through and what items would be Judy’s and Jen’s sons and things like that and add those layers inside the house. But we also have to keep the continuity of the house — like I said, it’s similar to a character. So basically it has to look the same, but it has to evolve over time.”
When asked what her favorite part of the house is, Kalish said she likes the blue paint most — chosen to evoke the ocean nearby, but that in the end added a contemporary yet kind of sinister look to the home.
Our favorite? That would definitely be Jen’s kitchen, a showstopper that’s bound to catch your eye whenever a scene takes place here. With sparkling white furniture, granite countertops, the finest appliances, and a massive kitchen island with bar stools, the kitchen is an absolute delight. Oh, and there’s also that cozy breakfast nook with garden views.
If you haven’t yet gotten a chance to watch the show, Dead to Me is a Netflix production centered around a powerful friendship that blossoms between Jen (played by Christina Applegate) — a recently widowed real estate agent trying to come to terms with her loss — and Judy (portrayed by Linda Cardellini, of Avengers fame). The two grieving women bond during therapy, with Judy soon moving into Jen’s guest house. However, Judy has a dark secret that causes a disturbing plot twist, leading Jen on a path to unravel the mystery of her husband’s death and secret life.
More homes from popular TV shows
The Byrde Family House in ‘Ozark’ is Actually in Georgia The Real-Life Homes from Modern Family — and Where to Find Them We Are the Ones Who Knock — on Walter White’s Fictional Door in Breaking Bad All the Glamorous Penthouses, Suites, and Lofts in Gossip Girl
Thoughtful spending (and saving) is the best way to get the most benefit from your bonus.
A bonus at work is not a sure thing. But landing one can be a great, great thing. Sometimes the only trouble is knowing what to do with your year-end bonus. Fancy new bag? Weekend getaway? Finally getting that emergency fund started? All smart uses for a year-end bonus, depending on your situation.
Employers are projected to dish out modestly larger discretionary bonuses in 2019, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory, broking and solutions company. A discretionary bonus is typically awarded for special projects or one-time achievements. According to the survey, discretionary bonuses will average 5.9 percent of salary for exempt employees in 2019, which is slightly larger than companies budgeted for in 2018.
That means figuring out what to do with your year-end bonus is a question you may well have to answer as you succeed at work. Your best move is to plan in advance for any extra cash that could come your way.
Whether it’s a year-end perk or a recurring reward, here are some important ways to think about and use your bonus:
1. Understand your employer’s bonus structure
A work bonus is extra pay that an employee receives in addition to a salary and is typically awarded for successful individual or team performance. The timing of awarding bonuses and their structure can vary by industry, company and even department.
Before you can decide what to do with your year-end bonus, you’ll need to understand how and when people earn bonuses at your company and whether you are eligible to receive one, says Lance Cothern, founder of the financial blog Money Manifesto. While some employers pay bonuses to all employees when the company reaches its goals, other companies base the rewards on individual performance, or a combination of both. Your employee policy handbook should include this information, Cothern says. If not, consider asking your boss or someone from your human resources department for more information—including when bonuses are determined and paid out.
However bonuses work at your job, don’t count on one as part of your annual income. Bonus amounts can change from year to year, and sometimes they don’t happen at all.
“You don’t want to get yourself into a position where if you don’t get a bonus, you are in a financial tough spot,” says David Weliver, publisher of the independent financial site Money Under 30.
2. Remember that it’s not a lottery ticket
When deciding what to do with your year-end bonus, be careful not to treat it as if you won the lottery or got a prize that you weren’t expecting, Weliver says.
Turns out that people are more likely to spend money framed as a windfall (a large amount of money won or received unexpectedly) and to save money framed as a reimbursement, according to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. The bottom line? When money feels like an addition to your bank account, you’re more likely to feel like you can spend it. On the other hand, you’re more apt to hang onto money that feels like compensation.
To figure out what to do with your year-end bonus, “treat it as earned income,” Weliver says, “because it is. You worked for that bonus.”
3. Avoid frugal fatigue
After the Great Recession, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling popularized the phrase “frugal fatigue”—a tiredness over pinching pennies that’s still commonly felt by anyone on a budget. Smart uses for a year-end bonus can help alleviate some of this financial weariness.
People who feel “frugal fatigue” most strongly are the least likely to stick to good spending habits when their financial circumstances improve, Weliver says. Similarly, young people who are dealing with student loans and credit card balances and focused on getting out of debt as fast as possible can actually get burned out if they don’t treat themselves once in a while.
Enter: Your bonus. Smart uses for a year-end bonus may include spending some of it on yourself, some of it on bills and other financial obligations and some of it to save or pay off debt, Weliver says.
To start, “It’s a good idea to take between 10 to 25 percent of it and use that for yourself,” he says. “Positive reinforcement that you can enjoy a little bit of your money makes it possible to keep working hard.”
“You don’t want to get yourself into a position where if you don’t get a bonus, you are in a financial tough spot.”
4. Make a financial plan
After setting aside funds for a small treat, you can use the remainder of a work bonus as an opportunity to meet your larger financial goals.
Financial plans are extremely important when it comes to the best ways to spend your bonus, Cothern says.
“If you don’t have a plan for how you’d use your bonus money,” he says, “it usually ends up getting spent in small amounts here and there with nothing left to show for it.”
Although each person may spend his or her bonus differently, smart uses for a year-end bonus include paying off high-interest debt first, Weliver says. After paying down debt, consider creating an emergency fund with a few months of expenses in the bank, Cothern adds. Next, consider saving money for retirement or other big goals.
5. Spend and save thoughtfully
Even if you’re in good financial shape, one of the best ways to spend your bonus is in a thoughtful way, rather than spending it all at once on an impulse purchase, Weliver says.
“Whether it’s things or experiences, what brings you the greatest amount of happiness for the dollars you spend?” he says. “Make a conscious choice before you go out and spend.”
Smart uses for a year-end bonus may also include contributing to a long-term goal, like buying your own home, starting a business or jump-starting a child’s college education fund. When considering the best ways to spend your bonus, consider a donation to a favorite cause or charity, which can often be tax-deductible.
“If you don’t have a plan for how you’d use your bonus money, it usually ends up getting spent in small amounts here and there with nothing left to show for it.”
6. Share the wealth
If you’re debating the best ways to spend your bonus, there may be some ideas from published research. At least one study suggests that money can indeed buy happiness—if you spend it on others. Sarah Gervais, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wrote that when researchers evaluate people’s happiness before and after spending a bonus, they find greater joy among those who use the money on others or donate it to charity.
The happiness occurs no matter how big the bonus is. “One reason for this phenomenon is that giving to others makes us feel good about ourselves,” she writes.
The research also shows that when people purchase experiences—such as taking a class or traveling—the resulting happiness increases over time. That’s likely because we tend to share experiences and memories with others, Gervais says. One way to maximize the happiness of spending a work bonus may be to purchase an experience and bring a friend along. You can even use your bonus to plan an experiential gift for your significant other.
7. Stick to your plan
When deciding what to do with your year-end bonus, the best plan is to have a plan. Whether you treat yourself, contribute to long-term financial goals, help others—or all of the above—thoughtful spending (and saving) is the best way to spend your bonus.
When it comes to growing your money, sometimes what you do or do not invest in matters as much as how well your investment performs. It’s not just about risk, it’s about personal values. In this modern era, we have the unique opportunity to not only feel good about our portfolio returns, but also what we invested in and how we achieved those returns. That is precisely why sustainable investing is gaining popularity as investors increasingly seek to align their investments with their personal values and seek to work with financial professionals who not only understand them as an investor, but also as a value-driven individual.
One way to accomplish this goal is to use an investment approach that focuses on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. An ESG lens considers issues such as climate change, pollution control, gender equality and diversity, human rights or corporate board composition. ESG-aware investing pursues opportunities by managing risks associated with corporate actions, policies and trends related to things like sustainable business, environmental impact, societal and community contributions, DI&E (diversity, inclusion and equity practices) practices and the demonstration of sound corporate governance.
Since the 1960s, sustainable investment strategies have shifted from an exclusionary approach to an inclusionary one. Over time, this shift has broadened the supply of investment offerings to meet growing investor demand. Interest in sustainable investing accelerated significantly in the 2000s. According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, assets in these types of investments grew by an estimated 38% from 2016 to 2018 in the U.S., rising from $8.7 trillion in 2016 to $12 trillion in 2018. Globally, sustainable investments total $23 trillion, which represents 26% of all professionally managed assets.
Debunking 2 Myths about ESG Investing
A common misconception is that sustainable investing — including ESG-driven strategies — imposes hurdles on performance. After all, aren’t most companies more motivated by profits than they are values? You might be surprised to find out reality is quite the contrary. Thankfully, you do not need to throw ethics and values out the window to achieve good returns. Studies of longer-term historical performance suggest that ESG strategies have performed similarly to comparable traditional investments on an absolute basis and a risk-adjusted basis. Remember, though, sustainable investment strategies do come with risks, like any investment.
Another misconception is that demand is being driven mainly by younger investors. Yet, research suggests that investors across generations are interested in sustainable investing. While Millennials are apt to discuss sustainable investing with their financial advisers, other generations have expressed interest as well. A 2020 Wells Fargo/Gallup survey found that 82% of surveyed investors showed interest in choosing investments based on the environment, human rights, diversity, and other social issues — if those investments provided returns similar to the market average.
One interesting case in point: Thompson Reuters, under the corporate brand Refinitiv, created an index to transparently and objectively measure the relative performance of companies against factors that define diverse and inclusive workplaces. The index ranks more than 7,000 companies globally and identifies the top 100 publicly traded companies with the most diverse and inclusive workplaces, as measured by 24 metrics across four key pillars: diversity, inclusion, people development and news and controversies. Not only have these companies scored well, but the index has outperformed the Thompson Reuters Global Total Return benchmark, demonstrating that diversity and inclusion can also lead to profitability. Perhaps values really can drive growth!
A Growing Investment Sector
Industry professionals predict that sustainable investment choices for investors will continue to expand. In fact, some analysts predict that ESG factors could become a normal consideration of most investment strategies, particularly those intended for younger investors who tend to expect greater transparency from their investments. In fact, it may surprise you to know that today, sustainable investing accounts for about $1 out of every $3 under professional management in the U.S.
If you are new to socially responsible investing, a good idea is to seek an adviser with expertise in SRI and ESG investing. While most advisers remain investment agnostic, acknowledging that either an S&P 500 index fund or a socially responsible green fund can accomplish your objectives if that is what fits best, some practitioners have chosen to specialize more in this area. Advisers helping consumers interested in values investing may perform rigorous invest selection and screening processes that not only support optimal performance but also measure the societal and environmental impact of the firms themselves.
Find an adviser who is confident about utilizing traditional vehicles, but passionate about finding unconventional ways to accomplish your goals, especially if doing so better aligns with your personal beliefs. The right adviser’s role should be simple: to understand not just where you want to go, but who you are and what values you have so that he/she can examine all the appropriate options that can fit and empower you to move forward.
This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.
Founder, Vice President, The Haney Company
Brian Haney is proud to say he was recently voted (by his daughter) to the illustrious title of “World’s Most Embarrassing Dad!” So that’s his full-time gig, but he also masquerades as a Certified Income Specialist, advising clients on how to achieve the retirement of their dreams. Founder of The Haney Company, Brian is a speaker and also the author of “The Retirement Income Pyramid,” your retirement income road map.
I know, I know. I was espousing the need to minimize kitchen design just a couple of weeks back. And while I’m still feeling the paired down look, I’m also human. I will always be easily seduced by a stunning kitchen moment.
The following example certainly qualifies.
You wouldn’t know it first glance, but this kitchen resides in a nearly 200 year old townhouse in Brooklyn. Part of a double height addition, this kitchen is oversized without being overly opulent.
I love how this kitchen has the Euro-influenced backsplash that features single open shelf (still realllyyy wish I’d done that in my kitchen but it wasn’t a thing in 2015!), but doing it with the Vermont soapstone is perfectly understated, rather than in your face. And its texture is so yummy, I just want to stand there and pet it. The bead-board cabinetry in a yummy subtle cream and oversized reclaimed oak island could read rather rustic, but the 20-foot steel clad windows and the huge modern pendant balance the look.
I love the wall to wall cabinets that hide appliances and storage creating a serene, clean look. This feels like elevated farmhouse at it’s very best – particularly since its in New York! The wall of cabinetry leads you into a sunken hangout area, creating a large contiguous communal space.
While everything in this kitchen is on a grand scale, there’s still an air of minimalism and restraint I really appreciate. So maybe I’ll hedge my bets on the minimal kitchen and say maybe we could all benefit from a little more restraint.
One of the most unique and architecturally distinct homes in all of New York City is looking for new tenants.
A historic East Village synagogue that was converted into a sun-drenched townhouse 15 years ago has just resurfaced on the market as a $30k rental — and it’s a sight to be seen.
The former synagogue was once known as the 8th Street Shul and served the Lower East Side’s Jewish community. The building managed to survive two fires in the past century, but unresolved ownership issues let it go unattended for years. That was until 2005, when the building was sold to a real estate developer that revamped the property and turned it into an upscale private residence.
It’s now a breathtaking four-story home with impeccable interiors, dramatic 22′ ceilings, and walls of exposed brick and wood, specially designed for displaying artwork. The home is downright gorgeous, and comes fully furnished.
With a dramatic living area — featuring 22′ cathedral ceilings, floor-to-ceiling walls of restored brick (east) and Wenge wood paneling (west), as well as a Cantilever balcony with a built-in projector for showcasing art — the former synagogue has been re-imagined as a space for art lovers, which only doubles down on the space being an art piece in itself.
The luxury rental comes with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and 3 wonderful outdoor terraces. Brought to the finest modern standards, the former synagogue features an expansive chef’s kitchen with Italian granite counters, a 20′ island, floor-to-ceiling custom-built Wenge cabinets, upscale appliances that cover every possible need, and some nice bonuses (like a built-in temperature/humidity-controlled wine cooler).
There’s also a separate elegant dining area with a restored 19th Century backlit Star of David. On the 3rd level, there’s a gorgeous library with custom-built floor-to-ceiling wood bookshelves, an Italian marble fireplace and a wet sink/wet bar.
The 4th story has a fairly unique floor-to-ceiling glass hallway and secluded master bedroom, fitted with a custom-built working fireplace, huge walk-in closet, and opulent master bath packed with everything from an oversized Jacuzzi tub, to walk-in shower with steam unit, rain shower, waterfall and separate hand-held shower. To top that off, there’s also a hot tub that fits 8 people out on the master terrace.
The stunning townhouse is being offered fully furnished, and the listing clearly specifies that it’s looking for short-term renters (9 months max). Those interested in the 30,000/mo rental should contact listing agents Jessica Swersey or Jamie Fedorko, both with Warburg Realty.
Fun fact: The former synagogue even had a brief stint in a movie (though it’s worth noting that this was prior to its transformation), as the building was featured in Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 psychological thriller Pi.
More luxury homes
Newly Built ‘Gallery House’ in Beverly Hills is a State-of-the-Art Exhibit of Its Own Accord The Unique California Poppy House Hits the Market for the Very First TimeThe Thrilling History of The Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ Iconic Summer Estate in Newport Everything We Know about Trevor Noah’s Apartment — the New Set of the Daily Show
Much of the best personal finance advice out there is found in books, where the entire scope of a personal finance plan can be explored in depth. Your local library has a plethora of personal finance books on the shelves, covering almost any sub-topic you could want, and can request many more if you simply ask.
But among all of those books, there are questions. Which personal finance book is the best? Which one is right for me? How does the advice in a personal finance book apply in today’s world where we’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences? Let’s look in-depth at some of those issues.
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In this article
1. What’s the best personal finance book?
What is the best personal finance book? There are thousands of them on Amazon and I don’t know which ones are worth reading.
It’s hard to define what “best” really means in terms of something like personal finance because people are coming to these books from such different places in their lives. A person in their 20s at the start of a great career, single and earning a good salary, is going to be looking for something much different than the type of book that would appeal to someone in their 50s who has always struggled to make money and is now very scared about retirement.
Thus, if you’re looking for the “best” personal finance book, you would want one that explains core concepts of personal finance in a way that’s meaningful and applicable to a lot of people.
[ More: More Americans Are Using Retirement Savings to Cover Expenses ]
One very good choice in that regard is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The book focuses on examining personal finance through the lens of how much of your life you’re devoting to earning money, and thus how much of your life you’re spending with each transaction, casting money-saving decisions in a very powerful light. It is an incredibly powerful argument for spending less in the modern world, and overspending is one financial challenge almost all of us face.
Aside from that, look for a personal finance book that matches your life situation. For example, if you’re young, look for a book targeting folks in their 20s and 30s, like “Get a Financial Life” by Beth Kobliner.
2. How do I explore frugal hedonism while isolated?
I enjoyed learning about “The Art of Frugal Hedonism” and I picked it up from the library recently. Disappointed to find that it was mostly about doing things socially, which is much harder right now. How do you do frugal hedonism when you’re isolated?
“The Art of Frugal Hedonism” is a great book that addresses saving money from an interesting perspective. It views frugality as a creative constraint, meaning that it nudges you to explore new things that you may not have done before, and those new things often expose you to pleasures that are entirely new to you.
Many of the examples given by the authors throughout the book are indeed oriented toward spending time with others, which is a difficult challenge for those practicing social distancing or socially isolated for other reasons. In our conversation with author Annie Raser-Rowland, she even directly points this out as a problem, noting that there’s no easy way around it.
So, what can a socially isolated person do to practice frugal hedonism? You can start by simply trying a wide range of low-cost solo activities and hobbies, particularly things you’ve never tried before. Try growing some vegetables in the spring, learning how to knit or learn how to cook.
[ Next: The Best Personal Finance Books ]
You can, in fact, be a frugal introvert. There are many things you can do solo that is quite inexpensive. Go through that list and pick out a few that you haven’t tried before that seem like they have at least a bit of potential to be interesting, and try them. Some will click, and that’s great. Some won’t, but then at least you’ll have an interesting story to tell.
3. What is the best Dave Ramsey book?
I have been listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio recently and I like his advice. I looked on Amazon and they have several books by him. Which one is the best or the best to read first?
Hands down, the best Dave Ramsey book is “The Total Money Makeover.” The reason is that, among all of Dave’s books, it’s the one that leans in the strongest to his core message.
Dave Ramsey is extremely good at practical psychology. He’s very good at helping people define the personal finance problem they’re facing and have the willpower to overcome it through motivational tactics. He leans into that strength, which is great, but by doing so, he’s perhaps not so good at other areas. He chooses to offer motivational predictions rather than offer extremely accurate numbers, which is why he’ll consistently overestimate stock market returns when he delves into investments because doing so motivates people to turn toward investing.
That’s why “The Total Money Makeover” stands out amongst all of Dave’s books. It sticks with the practical psychology of debt and focuses on developing a debt repayment plan, his variant of which he calls the debt snowball, and how to motivate yourself to actually pull it off. This is the area where Dave shines, and it’s never more clear than in this book.
Too long, didn’t read?
Delving into the world of personal finance books can seem daunting — after all, there are hundreds of thousands of books that teach people how best to navigate money. Finding the best personal finance book or applying a book’s lessons to real-life can be easy, if you know where to look and start. Highly recommended books are “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.
Do you have any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, via full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.
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