What is a Brownstone? Pros and Cons of Brownstone Apartments

A brownstone may look like other townhouses, but it’s got some unique qualities.

If you’ve ever pictured yourself living in cities like Chicago, Boston or New York City, you may have envisioned the iconic image of buildings and brownstone apartments lining the streets. Many large, East coast cities are known for the iconic brownstone facades that give the neighborhood a 19th-century nostalgic look and feel.

If you’re considering renting a brownstone, it’s important to know about the rich history of these types of buildings in addition to the pros and cons that come with brownstone homes. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about renting an infamous brownstone.

What is a brownstone apartment?

A brownstone is a row house made specifically from brown sandstone. The brownstone facade is key — it’s the defining feature that sets brownstones apart from other types of single-family homes. Other defining features of brownstone apartments include:

  • A stone stoop leading to the entryway
  • Ornate details carved or etched into the brownstone face
  • Many buildings in a row with no space in between
  • Three to four floors per building

Brownstone itself is soft sandstone that has a natural brown color, hence the name “brownstone.” The stone is easy to mold, cut and shape so you’ll often see ornate carvings on the face of brownstone homes, another feature that sets them apart.

Originally, the brownstone material was inexpensive and less desirable compared to other building materials like brick, marble or granite. Until the 19th century, buildings made of brownstone were cheaper because the brown color was unappealing. However, that changed during the Romantic era when the natural look became popular. Nowadays, brownstones are some of the most expensive apartments on the market.

Brick townhouses

Brick townhouses

What is the difference between a townhouse and a brownstone?

Brownstones and townhouses are similar in the sense that they’re both buildings with multiple floors, units and apartments for rent. They’re both attached to another building. For example, you’ll have your own unit or floor to live on but you’ll share a wall with your neighbors in these kinds of houses.

You can construct a townhouse out of any building material, but many are brick. However, a true brownstone uses brown sandstone building material, otherwise, it’s a regular townhouse. The facades of brownstones are the specific feature that separates them from other types of apartments.

Because many brownstone apartments are older, they may not have modern amenities like brand new buildings. The construction of many brownstones occurred in the early 19th century and living in these may require some maintenance to keep them up-to-date. Keep this in mind when you’re considering renting townhouses versus brownstones.

Things to know about New York City brownstones

While brownstones are in different cities, they’re especially prevalent in New York City. If you’ve seen any movie or TV show set in New York, you’ve likely seen the iconic brownstone homes in beautiful neighborhoods. True brownstones are in a few key neighborhoods of New York City — Park Slope, Upper West Side, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights — to name a few. You can walk up and down the street and see brownstone apartments in these areas of the city.

These houses with their steep stone stoops and ornate brownstone facade give the building charm. They’re often located in desirable neighborhoods, too. Because there’s only a set number of genuine brownstones in New York City, there’s often more demand than supply, so the prices are steep.

NYC Brownstone apartments

NYC Brownstone apartments

Pros of brownstone apartment living

As with anything, there are pros and cons to living in brownstones. Here are some of the pros and cons associated with a brownstone apartment.

Spacious living area

While some single-family homes in a big city are small, brownstones are typically larger. Traditional brownstones will have a parlor floor, which is the second floor from the ground floor. The parlor floor is where you’ll have your dining room and living room. The units usually have three to four bedrooms, but can also have as many as nine bedrooms in each brownstone.

Ornate décor

City brownstones are beautiful buildings. As we’ve mentioned, the appeal of a brownstone is typically the history, the idyllic community and the picturesque neighborhood. The construction of brownstones is ornate and the apartment is usually located on a tree-lined street. When you live in a row house, you’ll enjoy the beauty of the decorative brownstone.

Spacious outdoor area

Some people living in brownstone homes enjoy a nice outdoor space as part of their apartment. You’ll get more room and outdoor seating areas in a brownstone compared to other types of apartments. You can walk up from the ground level and enjoy the front stoop or enjoy private outdoor space in the form of a patio or garden area.

Great location

Most brownstones are in nice neighborhoods with tight-knit communities. Because the units are so close to each other, you’ll be close to the other people living in the same brownstone house. People like the brownstone community as most people end up staying in the brownstone for a long time. The units are often close to different restaurants, so you’ll enjoy the amenities of city life when living in a brownstone, too.

brownstone apartments

brownstone apartments

Cons of brownstone apartment living

For every good thing about brownstones, there are some negatives, too.

Expensive rent

Because brownstones are so desirable nowadays, you’ll pay high prices to live in one of them. In New York, brownstones can sell for up to $10 million. If you’re considering a brownstone, make sure the price is in your budget. If not, you can have a similar experience living in a townhouse without a notable facade.

Older buildings

The historic nature of brownstones makes them appealing but it also means the building is older compared to others. You’ll likely have more maintenance and upkeep in brownstones and may lack traditional amenities and features like air conditioning. Also, the steep stoop and staircases are sometimes problematic as they aren’t as accessible as other spaces.

Close to neighbors

If you’re looking for a place to live with lots of room to roam and privacy, a brownstone isn’t the right option as you’re incredibly close to the people next door. Because these buildings are in a row, you’re literally wall-to-wall with other people. Some love this closeness, while others want more privacy.

Finding a brownstone apartment for you

The intricate design and carvings of brownstone apartments are idyllic. You can’t deny that they look beautiful and conjure images of old-school living in cities like New York. Brownstones have a story and you’ll enjoy the natural look of these buildings. Before renting one, make sure that it’s within your budget as they’re pricy apartments.

Source: rent.com

9 Ways to Find Affordable Healthy Pet Food

Your pet is part of your family, but that doesn’t mean his food needs to cost as much as yours — even if you’re trying to feed him high-quality food.

But unfortunately, pet food, too, was affected by supply chain woes and shortages during the pandemic. There are fewer drivers transporting the ingredients and products across the country; there are cargo ship delays; and the number of people with pets since pre-pandemic have increased — all leading to the pet food crisis. And now, inflation.

A 2022 survey conducted by Rover found that 71% of dog owners say their pet care costs have gone up due to inflation.

The cost of pet food has risen, and sometimes, it’s difficult to find the food your pooch or kitty wants (there was a cat food shortage earlier this year). So should you switch food? And to what? The range of choices in pet food may make this seem like a daunting task. You can’t ask your furry friends which foods they like best, either.  (You could, but you may not get a satisfactory answer.)

9 Tips From Pros About Affordable Pet Food

  • Find generic brands from well-known companies
  • Look for whole meat products
  • Grain-free food isn’t necessarily the best
  • Look for “nutritionally complete” on the label
  • Dry pet food Is OK
  • Avoid carrageenan thickener
  • “Premium“ is a marketing term — ignore it
  • Change how you think of the cost
  • Make your own pet food

We spoke to veterinarians and nutritionists to find out how you can identify the healthiest, most nutritious pet food options that’ll fit your budget and are widely available.

Before you purchase your pet food, speak with your vet about the best options for your pet, especially if your furry friend has special dietary needs.

1. Find Generic Brands From Well-Known Companies

Stephanie Mantilla, an animal trainer and enrichment specialist with Curiosity Trained, always looks for expensive brands disguised as generics. For example, Whole Earth Farms is made by Merrick but costs a fraction of the price, Mantilla says.

The easiest way to find high-quality generic brands is to look at the food brands you don’t recognize in the same section of the store as the high-quality pet food, Mantilla says.

“It’ll be Merrick, Wellness, Instinct and Taste of the Wild brands near one another,” she said. “Then, if you see another brand you aren’t familiar with but is at a lower price, it likely is one of the generic brands.”

Another way to find these generic brands is to search online, Mantilla says. If you have a brand of pet food you like, search for “generic XX food.”

“Sometimes, you’ll find exact match generic brands or recommendations for a similar brand if that company doesn’t make a generic version,” Mantilla said.

A woman smiles at the camera with her dog. The woman in the photos is a positive animal trainer and enrichment specialist with Curiosity Trained.
Stephanie Mantilla, an animal trainer and enrichment specialist with Curiosity Trained, is pictured with her dog, Cleo. She recommends looking online to find out which expensive pet foods have more affordable generic versions. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Mantilla

2. Look for Whole Meat Products

With dog food, whole meat products — rather than by-products — should be the first ingredients on the list.

“Dogs are omnivores, but a food whose first ingredient is grains may not contain enough protein for them,” Mantilla says.

Brands that meet this criteria include Purina Pro-plan, Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand and Blue Buffalo, according to Sakura Davis, a veterinary consultant and technician.

3. Grain-Free Food Isn’t Necessarily the Best

Grain-free food is typically more expensive than the alternatives, but that doesn’t mean that it’s better than the alternatives (unless your dog needs to be grain-free for medical reasons).

In fact, while some humans feel better on a grain-free diet, that doesn’t necessarily hold true for your pets, especially dogs. The FDA found there may be a link between the development of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs that eat grain-free pet food, many of which contain peas, lentils, legume seeds and potatoes as the main ingredients.

4. Look for “Nutritionally Complete” on the Label

Even if you can’t identify the odd-sounding ingredients in your pet’s food, there’s one way to quickly see if the bag of kibble or can of food is nutritionally complete: Look at the label.

Pet food labels should have a Nutritional Adequacy statement, which may also be referred to as the AAFCO statement. You can find this on the back of the bag or can, or on the side in the fold. It should convey the following: whether the food contains all the essential nutrients your pet needs; how this was determined; and what age or stage of life this food was designed to serve.

If you see that the product was intended for intermittent and supplemental feeding only, then you should avoid using it for meals. Use it for treats instead.

5. Dry Pet Food Is OK

A study published in BMJ’s Vet Record found that just 13% of dogs and 33% of cats exclusively eat conventional pet food like kibble. While people may be concerned that the kibble is boring or unhealthy for their pets, that’s actually not the case.

“What they don’t see are the nutrients in that kibble. They don’t see the decades of research behind it,” Sarah Dodd, veterinarian and lead author of the study, told Supermarket News.

6. Avoid Carrageenan Thickener

If you buy wet food, try to avoid brands that use carrageenan, Mantilla says. It’s a derivative of seaweed often used as a thickening agent. It bulks up wet food so it looks like there’s more of the food, but you’re getting fewer calories per serving.

A little girl tries to feed her kitten food out of her hand. This story goes over how to find affordable, cheap and healthy pet food.
Getty Images

7. ‘Premium’ Is a Marketing Term — Ignore It

The word “premium” is a marketing term, according to researchers at the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. As with the word “natural,” any company can add the word “premium” onto its pet food packaging without justification.

This term is a favorite of brands because many consumers believe the product is better quality when they see it on the packaging, and will thus be inclined to pay more for it. A 2007 study by the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University found that when people are told that they’re tasting an expensive product, they’ll be more likely to believe it tastes better than the inexpensive option.

Pet parents aren’t immune from this. The premium pet food market accounted for 44% of pet food sales in 2001, but that percentage jumped to 61% by 2015. You can save yourself some cash by opting not to buy pet food labeled as “premium.”

8. Change How You Think of the Cost

Instead of looking at the price per bag or even the price per pound, look at the price per kilocalorie, according to Tuft University’s Clinical Nutrition Service. Pet foods pack in kilocalories differently, and as a result, two bags of dry food that weigh the same may differ when it comes to calorie content. A bag with more kilocalories may cost more, but you’ll also need to feed your pets less per feeding.

Here’s how to figure out the price per kilocalorie for pet food. First, determine how much your pet eats each day.  Measure the amount of each food your pet eats and multiply that by the number of calories per cup/gram/can of food. (Not sure how to do this? These calorie calculators can help.)

Once you know how many kilocalories your pet needs to eat, then find out how many kilocalories are in the food, which you can find on the label, and how much the bag or can of food cost.

Plug in the numbers on this calculator  and find out how much it costs to feed your pet each day.  This will give you a better sense of what it would actually cost to feed your pet the food in question than you can get from only looking at price per bag or price per pound.

9. Make Your Own Pet Food

The most inexpensive way to feed your dog a high quality meal is to make the food yourself (though it is still less expensive to feed your dog kibble), says Emma Bowdrey, an ISCP-trained dog trainer in Easterton, United Kingdom.

Include proteins, carbs and nutritious vegetables, and avoid onions, garlic and chives. Bowdrey recommends going to the butcher for internal organs, such as liver, kidneys and heart.

“These are rich in proteins, fats, Vitamins A, B and iron, and are fairly inexpensive, so you get a lot of nutritious bang for your buck,” Bowdrey says.

These three recipes will help you make delicious, healthy treats for your pooch — and they’re all budget-friendly, too.

Combine these with other good quality muscle meat, potatoes and vegetables to create a well-balanced and tasty meal for your dog. Turmeric and ginger, which are anti-inflammatories that can improve gut health, can be added during the prep process, Bowdrey says.

Raw bones are also a great addition to keep teeth clean and remove tartar, but avoid cooked bones, as these are prone to splintering. For extra variety, foods such as apples, sardines and strawberries make a great snack.

What’s the Difference Between Cat and Dog Food?

Cats are carnivores, while dogs are omnivores. This means that cats must eat meat, while dogs need meat and vegetables. Cat food is higher in meat-based protein than dog food which has more plant-based ingredients. If your dog eats cat food on a regular basis, it could lead to obesity, pancreatitis and stomach upset. On the other hand, if your cat eats dog food on a regular basis, he will lack the nutrients he needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Affordable Pet Food

We’ve rounded up the answers to the most commonly asked questions about affordable pet food.

What Type of Pet Food is Least Expensive?

You’ll have to read the labels and do some math (!) to find this out. Skip the “premium” label, which is just a marketing term. Then, look at the price per kilocalorie, as you may be able to get away with feeding your pet less if the kilocalories are higher. Do this by measuring the amount of food your pet eats daily, and multiplying that by the number of calories per cup/gram/can of food. Alternatively, you can use this calorie calculator. This will tell you how many kilocalories your pet requires. Look at the amount of kilocalories in a bag of food (it should be on the label), and compare the food using this measurement rather than price per bag.

What Do I Do If I Can’t Afford Dog Food?

There are pet food pantries if you need help feeding your pooch. You can also contact your veterinarian to see if they have food samples; and you can ask your local animal shelter if they have extra food. Other national organizations such as Pets of the Homeless will help if you’re struggling.

Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Dog Food?

This depends on how much you spend on your dog’s food, which could range from $15-$75 for a bag of dry kibble (wet food is significantly more expensive). Homemade dog food from a store may cost about $5 per day, but you can get this cost down to about $2 per day by making your own dog food, which is less than feeding your dog a high quality commercial wet and dry food diet.

How Can I Feed My Cat Cheaply?

Kibble is less expensive than wet food  and if your cat likes a particular brand, you should follow them on social media to get coupons and discounts. Always buy in bulk for the biggest discount and look at the cost per day rather than the cost per pound or kilogram to estimate how much you’re paying for the food. The Humane Society has a list of national and local organizations that will help with free pet food if you’re in need.

Is It Cheaper to Feed Cats Wet or Dry Food?

While canned pet foods tend to have better quality ingredients and may be more filling, dry cat food is less expensive than wet food. It’s fine to feed your cat a 100% dry food diet.

The Penny Hoarder contributor Danielle Braff is a Chicago writer who specializes in consumer goods and shopping on a budget. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Real Simple and more. 



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to File a Renters Insurance Claim (Process for Payouts on a Loss)

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Additional Resources

You knew your building’s plumbing was old, but you thought you’d be out of there before anything terrible happened to it. 

An inch of water (and counting) and several panicked calls to your property manager later, you admit you thought wrong. Now, you’re left with the massive, thankless job of replacing numerous possessions, including your mattress, bookcase, and computer, ruined by the burst water pipe in your bedroom ceiling. 

It’s a good thing you have renters insurance — because you’re about to put your insurance company’s promises to the test. 

How to File a Renters Insurance Claim

Renters insurance covers property losses of the sort caused by a burst pipe in your apartment ceiling — or any other peril mentioned in your renters insurance policy. It’s known as personal property coverage.

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Usually, it also covers medical and liability claims arising from mishaps in your rental unit. For example, it would cover the party guest who slips on your slick kitchen floor and breaks their ankle or the delivery person who tumbles down your rental house’s icy front steps and suffers a concussion.

The claims-filing process is similar for both types of claims, but you’ll notice some differences in the order of operations.

Filing a Claim for Property Loss or Damage

Depending on the circumstances, a renters insurance claim for property loss or damage begins with a police report or a call to the property manager. You must then document the damage — comprehensively.

Don’t throw anything away or clean up until you’ve completed all these steps. If you erase evidence before the insurance company has fully investigated, you could jeopardize your claim. That said, if the property owner needs to make basic repairs to ensure the property remains habitable or not repairing the damage would make it worse, it’s OK to do what’s necessary. 

1. File a Police Report (if Applicable)

If your possessions are damaged in the course of a potential violation of law, call the police and file a report. 

“Potential violation of law” could mean any of the following:

  • Vandalism
  • Burglary
  • Suspicious fire
  • Theft by a guest

More ambiguous incidents, like a fuel explosion inside or outside your building, warrant a police report too. Incidents like a burst pipe or rough weather don’t require a police report.

The police report is vital because it backs up the story you’ll tell the insurance company. It’s an impartial record of the incident — and the extent of the damage — taken by a respected third party.

When dealing with the police, get the name and badge number of every officer and investigator you speak with, even if they don’t visit your apartment in person. Ensure they take copious photos of the damage, and request a copy of the report when it’s done.

2. Contact Your Property Manager

Next, contact the owner or property manager and let them know what happened. If you live in a multiunit building and the incident affected more units than just yours, they might already know, but call them anyway.

The owner or manager probably won’t help you file your renters insurance claim, but they need to know about the incident because they might need to file an insurance claim of their own. Regardless, they’ll want to assess the condition of your unit or the building itself. Be sure to document any lingering hazards, such as:

  • Broken windows
  • Damaged doors or locks
  • Exposed pipes or wiring
  • Suspected gas leaks
  • Nonfunctioning utilities (such as the power being out or the water being off)

If you feel uncomfortable remaining in your unit due to safety concerns or simply can’t stay there, tell the property manager right away. Your renters insurance policy might cover temporary relocation costs, such as staying in a hotel for a week or two while your unit undergoes repairs.

3. Contact the Insurance Company

Your next call goes to your renters insurance company or to your insurance agent if you need their help to file the claim. 

You might be able to file straightforward claims through your insurance company’s website. Look for a File a Claim button or tab on the homepage. But it’s not a bad idea to call the company or your agent directly if you have questions about the process, aren’t sure your policy covers the incident, or want to figure out whether it’s worth it to file a smaller claim. 

4. Document the Damage or Loss

If you filed a police report, the investigators assigned to your case will take photos and make notes of the damage. But you shouldn’t rely on their report to be the sole record of the incident.

So once you’ve made your initial calls, take the time to document what happened meticulously. Take photos and videos of the scene as you found it. Take photos of individual items that sustained damage. Create a list of damaged, destroyed, or stolen goods with the price paid for each and an estimate of the current replacement value. Make copies of receipts or invoices for any expenses incurred due to the incident, including replacements for damaged or stolen possessions and bills for temporary lodging if your apartment is uninhabitable.

If you’ve previously taken a home inventory, include it in your documentation. A home inventory helps back up your claim and could make it easier for the insurance company to reimburse you quickly. Not having one doesn’t mean the insurance company will deny your claim, but it does increase the chances of an insurance adjuster visiting the premises. 

5. Submit the Claim

You’re now ready to submit your claim. Visit your insurance company’s website to download or fill out the required forms and upload photos, videos, notes, and the police report to support your claim. 

If you’re having trouble finding the required forms or submitting your information electronically, contact your insurance company or your insurance agent. Your agent might offer to file the claim on your behalf, though you must be available to answer the insurance company’s questions.

Be sure to file your claim before any deadline imposed by your insurance company. This deadline could come as little as 48 hours after the incident. If more information comes to light or you incur additional expenses after you file, you can update your claim.

6. Prepare for the Investigation & Claims Adjuster Visit

If your claim is fairly small and straightforward, the insurance company might take you at your word and accept your claim without much trouble. In this case, you can start cleaning up your place and move on to the next step — reviewing your settlement offer.

If your claim’s value is higher, the circumstances are murky, or you haven’t provided enough documentation to support your claim, your insurance company could investigate further. Wait to throw out damaged possessions or clean up your space until you hear back.

If your insurer wants to investigate further, expect a call and possibly a visit from a claims adjuster. This person’s job is to verify your story and determine how much compensation you actually deserve for the loss. 

If they visit the property, they’ll take pictures of the damage and make notes for their own report. Be prepared to point out less obvious evidence of damages or losses, and have your home inventory handy to corroborate your claims.

The claims adjuster might also want to talk to others involved in or who have knowledge of the incident. That could include your roommates, houseguests, and the property owner or manager. It could also include the police investigator who wrote up your report.

7. Review the Settlement Offer 

If the insurance company accepts your claim, you’ll receive a settlement offer. 

It’s a formal payout offer for the amount the insurance company is willing to pay to settle your claim after subtracting your policy deductible. It could be about what you thought the damage or loss was worth — less the deductible — or significantly less, depending on how the insurance company values the claim. 

A lot depends on whether the insurance company uses replacement value or actual value when calculating your total personal property claim value. Replacement cost pegs the value of lost or damaged items at what it actually costs to buy new replacements for them. In contrast, actual value (or actual cash value) takes depreciation into account. The difference can be stark: A three-year-old TV with a replacement value of $500 might have an actual cash value of just $100 or $150. 

If your policy has a maximum coverage amount for certain types of personal belongings claims and your place sustained a lot of damage or became uninhabitable for months, you could find your total payout capped at an amount much lower than what you deserve. 

In either case, it’s your responsibility to review the settlement offer and determine whether it’s acceptable to you. If you’re not sure, ask your insurance agent. 

Filing a Claim for Personal Liability and Medical Payments

Renters insurance covers more than your personal possessions. It also protects you from costly liability issues arising from mishaps in your rented home. Without it, you could be on the hook for houseguests’ medical bills, among other injury-related expenses.

Filing a personal liability or medical expenses claim with your rental insurance company is a bit different from filing a property damage claim. To get it done, follow these steps in order.

1. Document the Damage

First, take copious photos and videos of the scene of the incident as soon as you can. For example, if a guest at a party you hosted fell through a railing on your second-floor unit’s balcony, you’d want to take photos of the damaged railing and the area where they hit the ground. 

Next, create a record of the incident as you remember it. If no video record exists, a written record will have to suffice. Describe where you were when it occurred, how you became aware of it, and the sequence of events that followed. 

2. Give Your Insurance Information to the Injured Person

You won’t be filing this claim yourself — the injured person will. To do that, they need your insurance information: company name, your name, and policy number.

It’s their responsibility to reach out to you about this, either directly or through a lawyer. However, you should do everything in your power to help them file the claim, including giving them your insurance agent’s contact information or helping them navigate your insurance company’s online claims forms. 

3. The Injured Person Submits the Claim

When they’re ready to file, the injured person submits their claim to your insurance company. They’ll provide hospital bills, physical therapy bills, receipts for medical equipment like crutches or wheelchairs — any costs arising from their injury. 

Don’t worry about submitting your photos, videos, and notes on the incident at this time. But do hold onto them until the injured party settles the claim, as your insurance company may want to review them.

4. Prepare for the Investigation & Claims Adjuster Visit

Be available to answer any questions from your insurance company during the investigation, and don’t be surprised if they send a claims adjuster to assess the scene of the incident. If you haven’t already done so, the claims adjuster visit is a good time to share your own documentation.

5. The Injured Person Reviews the Settlement Offer 

After completing its investigation, the insurance company sends the injured person a settlement offer for review. If they accept, the insurance company reimburses them and closes the claim. 

For medical-only claims, your insurance company typically covers the portion of the injured person’s medical bills not covered by their own health insurance. 

For personal liability claims, where the injured person sues you for damages, your insurance company covers the amount of the judgment and the injured person’s legal fees if you lose. If you win, your policy might cover your legal fees, but you won’t owe anything to the injured person.

Remember that reimbursement kicks in only after you hit your policy deductible. If the claim is worth $10,000 and your liability deductible is $1,000, the insurer covers $9,000 and you pay $1,000 out of pocket.

Likewise, every renters insurance policy has a personal liability and medical expense coverage limit. If the victim’s injuries are severe, you could blow through this limit. Umbrella insurance provides an additional layer of liability protection — typically starting at $1 million — in such cases.

Renters Insurance Claim FAQs

Filing a renters insurance claim can be confusing and stressful. These are some of the most common questions that come up during the process.

How Long Does the Renters Insurance Claims Process Take?

It depends on the type of claim, the claim value, and what caused the damage or injury.

The insurance company can usually resolve simple, lower-value renters insurance claims within a business day. You file the claim online and upload supporting documentation, and the insurance company gets back to you with a settlement offer within hours.

More complicated claims can take days or weeks to resolve. You might need to provide more documentation, including receipts for expenses incurred days or weeks after the event. If the claim involves significant damage to your unit, you’ll likely need to wait for a claims adjuster to visit and write a report about what happened too.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Temporary Living Expenses?

Some renters insurance policies do cover additional living expenses if you’re forced to move out of your unit temporarily. Usually, the policy caps this coverage at a specific amount of money or number of days.

Check your policy for details about this type of coverage. If you don’t have it and think you need it, ask your insurance company or insurance agent to price it out for you. Temporary living expense coverage will increase your premium, but you’ll be glad you have it if you have to move out of a damaged apartment.

Will Filing a Renters Claim Affect My Insurance Rate?

Probably. How much is a more interesting question. 

Generally, liability, fire, and theft claims increase premiums more than medical claims. Don’t be surprised if your premium jumps by 20% or more after a fire or theft claim. Medical bill-only claims should still increase your premium, but by a more reasonable rate — typically under 20%, depending on your insurer. 

What Happens if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?

It depends on why the insurance company denied your claim. 

Sometimes, there’s not much you can do about a denied claim. If your policy specifically excludes the type of incident or expense, your insurer has every right to deny the claim. Even if your policy covers the claim type under normal circumstances, a smaller claim might fail to hit your deductible.

That said, if your claim is truly legitimate and the insurance company denies it anyway, whether due to suspected fraud or a differing interpretation of your policy’s terms, you can appeal. It’s a time-consuming process that requires you to submit additional documentation, but it’ll pay off if the insurer reverses its decision.

If the company denies your appeal, you can hire an insurance attorney to press your case. They’re well-versed in insurance legalese and can craft arguments you wouldn’t even know to make. In the worst case, they can take your insurer to court.

Final Word

Filing a renters insurance claim could be easier than you think. The best renters insurance companies generally have online or app-based claims processes that let you submit and get approval for uncomplicated claims without ever meeting face-to-face with a claims adjuster.

Even if you have to welcome a claims adjuster into your apartment, it’s not the end of the world. If you’ve filed a police report, documented the damage or injuries, and kept good records of your expenses, your chances of getting a legitimate claim approved are quite good.

Sure, the process takes some time. But that’s a reasonable price to pay for avoiding a big hit to your bottom line.

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Source: moneycrashers.com

20 Great Jobs For Retirees for Flexibility and Extra Cash

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Who even knows what “retired’’ means anymore?

You might have left the career you had in the 40-hour-a-week workforce. But now you don’t exactly want to be glued to your couch watching puppy videos. You want to be active, you want to work, and you want to make a little money to support your fun retirement plans.

While “retirement income’’ or “retirement job” might seem like oxymorons, they are a more reasonable pursuit today than in years past due to advancing life expectancies and improved health among older citizens.

Many people reach so-called retirement age and are in no way done with being productive. Many continue in freelance jobs and part-time gigs, whether in a brick-and mortar setting, from home, or even outdoors.

There are plenty of ways to bring in some extra money to augment pension, social security, or other retirement funds. We’ve rounded up 18 ideas for good jobs for retirees that offer part-time opportunities, flexible hours, or both.

20 Part-time Jobs for Retirees

Most of the examples here require your physical presence on-site, but there are remote jobs, too, such as virtual assistant and customer service work that can be done from the comfort of your home.

As you browse these possible jobs for retirees, keep in mind one warning: If you are collecting Social Security, you can only earn a certain amount each month before your benefits are reduced.

So let’s get to work, shall we?

1. Substitute Teacher

Substitute teachers have never been more valuable than today. Covid has increased the chances that a teacher might be out of the classroom either awaiting test results or recuperating. When that happens, their students need someone to teach — and that could be you.

Most school districts have lenient requirements for substitute teachers, often requiring just a bachelor’s degree with no teaching experience.

To be successful, you need to be ready to deal with a room full of 20 or so children of varying ages. But it could pay off. School districts in Chicago, for example, pay as much as $200 a day for a full day of work.

If you have an advanced degree, you may also qualify to be an adjunct instructor at a community college or four-year university.

2. School Support Worker

Most schools are always looking for crossing guards, recess supervisors and other positions. A call to your local elementary, middle or high school could lead you to a good retirement job that would fit your schedule. Even better is searching online for jobs at your school district. This will give you a range of what’s out there.

This is a classic retirement job that gets you out of the house, allows you to have contact with neighbors, and lets you provide security and safety with another set of adult eyes on the children.

3. Tutor

There are hundreds of tutoring companies in the U.S. who work with kids of all ages to enhance their school education or prepare for college entrance exams. If you sign up with one, they’ll match you with work and you won’t need to market yourself as a tutor.

The hourly pay for these companies ranges from about $13 to $25. Requirements often are limited to a bachelor’s degree, although exam-prep work might require a recent ACT or SAT test score, or might require you to retake the exam for verbal or math instruction.

If you are interested in online tutoring, there are many good paying gigs out there. Match your skills to the openings.

A senior woman drives a school bus.
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4. School Bus Driver

School bus drivers can earn up to $20 per hour. They have regular hours with the opportunity to earn extra for field trips or outings. Some states require a specific license (a commercial drivers license, or CDL, for example) or require you to pass a driving test to qualify.

Recent news reports indicate there are many job openings for school bus drivers.

The job is likely to include more than just driving, however. You may be asked to supervise students on the bus, and you may be called upon to discipline rowdy students or those who are making the trip unsafe. A tolerance for children of all ages is probably an important requirement.

5. Shuttle Bus Driver

There are dozens of different types of shuttle bus driver jobs. Most hotels have shuttles to and from airports. Senior citizen homes, churches and community centers often offer shuttles to shopping areas or grocery stores. Hourly pay for shuttle bus drivers can average above $13 per hour, and that’s not including tips from satisfied riders. Like school bus drivers, shuttle bus drivers have regular hours.

Depending on the particulars of the job, a commercial driver’s license might be required.

There are different state laws regarding licensing for shuttle bus drivers. A specialized license might be required if the bus holds a certain number of people or is a particular size. Your state motor vehicle website will tell you what’s required in your state, and any potential employer will know, too.

6. Tour Conductor

Tour guide is one of those jobs that, when you see someone doing it, you think, “Well, I could do that too!”

Businesses, organizations and sites that host tours come in many shapes and sizes, from historical sites to museums, from outdoor walking tours to behind-the-scenes workplace tours. They can be an everyday part of a business or scheduled by appointment. What do they all have in common? A tour leader.

These jobs require knowledge about the subject and the ability to tell a good story — often while walking backwards.

Tour guides make an average base salary of $20 per hour. Plus, they are often offered tips by tour participants.

This could be a dream job for someone who knows the topic well and likes to retell stories about history, natural science or architecture (among many other possibilities).

If this appeals to you, don’t overlook a special area of knowledge you’ve developed during all those years in the workplace. Know a lot about the manufacturing industry? Maybe you’re just the person to lead tours at a cheese factory.

Looking for a fun part-time side gig? Here’s how you can earn money visiting theme parks as a Disney nanny.

7. Patient Advocate

The job of a patient advocate is to assist someone who is struggling to cope with the healthcare system. A patient advocate deals with paperwork and appointments, and communicates with healthcare providers to get information on diagnosis, treatment and followup procedures.

Advocates might also be asked to work with insurance companies to understand coverage and costs. Many are asked to help a client obtain assistance with financial or legal issues. The range of duties can be as varied as the patient’s needs.

Being a patient advocate does not require any particular educational degree, but it is possible to become certified in this role.

These positions can be part- or full-time, and they pay well, averaging $18 an hour. So if you plan to collect Social Security benefits, make sure to check how your wage impacts your benefits.

A senior citizen plays with two children outside that she's babysitting. They are chasing each other with water guns.
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8. Child Care Provider

Child care might be a bit of a political football these days, but rarely has it been more necessary. Single parents or two-parent families that require or want two incomes are likely to need child care, and that could take the form of a nanny or frequent babysitter.

A babysitter sits in a home with a child or children. A nanny is responsible for getting children to day care or other activities; they are a substitute parent in many cases.

Craigslist, Next Door or other neighborhood job sites are great ways to search for these positions, but your best bet is to work with your personal network. Let people know that you would be willing to work as a nanny or frequent babysitter, and, with the proper recommendation, you could have a very gratifying retirement job.

There are no actual nanny or babysitter licenses or certifications in the United States, but many families require that nannies be bonded, which is a guarantee of service. It is a protection against someone failing to show up for work; one such failure forfeits the bond and that area of work is no longer available to that nanny.

Taking classes in CPR or other emergency response techniques, which offer certifications upon completion, can improve your chances of being hired.

Nannies are likely to make $15 an hour on average. Babysitter earnings vary widely by affluence of the neighborhood. Check out The Penny Hoarder’s tips on how to get paid up to $21 an hour babysitting.

9. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are independent contractors who offer business services virtually. Those services can include website management, website design, marketing assistance, social media postings, blog writing, email correspondence or any number of clerical duties that can be carried out with a computer and phone. This kind of work is often well-suited to flexible hours.

As of this writing, ZipRecruiter showed more than 221,000 virtual assistant jobs, suggesting that a virtual assistant could make up to $60,000 a year, depending on the work required.

You are more likely to work on an hourly wage determined by your experience and amount of work you are required to perform. There are also job firms that provide virtual assistants; you can sign on with them and accept work as it is offered to you.

Any task that can be done virtually via computer is likely to be requested by a virtual assistant. Firms would rather pay a freelancer than an employee to do the work.

10. Bookkeeper

You have a good head for numbers. You are in charge of your own finances, and you perhaps worked in an accounting role at a previous job.

Many small or civic organizations cannot afford, nor do they truly need, a full-time bookkeeper or accounting service. They are not in it for the money. Often, they are charitable or non-profit organizations. But they need occasional bookkeeping, often with an eye towards tax advantages.

A part-time bookkeeper job often requires simple financial recordkeeping or upkeep of other financial records. Part-time bookkeepers are usually former accountants or have experience as a bookkeeper. They may be asked to track invoices, but most companies use financial services for paychecks.

The average salary for a part-time bookkeeper is around $20 per hour.

11. Umpire and Referee

This is a perfect retirement job if you have a sports background and the ability to withstand criticism.

Competitive sports programs need officials for their games. Baseball, basketball, soccer and football all have leagues at various ages that need officiating. Depending on where you live, the work can be constant. If you get certified for multiple sports, you can work all weekend long and often during the week.

While high-level programs require officials to get licensed or certified, lower-level and youth group programs require just a basic knowledge of the rules. Look around your community for sports leagues in need of umpires or referees.

Pay is often dependent on the age of the players and the competitive level of the organization, but officials are likely to make at least $25 per game. At higher levels where certification is required, you can earn $100 per game.

A man walks a gaggle of dogs at his dog walking job.
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12. Pet Sitting and Pet Walker

For between $10 and $15 an hour, you can earn money by pet-sitting in a home or, if the pet happens to be a dog, you can walk the animal. Pet-sitting is a good job for retirees who want to work outdoors without a lot of physical requirements other than being able to walk while pulling or being pulled.

Pet sitter/walker is also a good line of work to get into because one job can lead to another. Pet owners tend to concentrate around each other, and they will give recommendations to other pet owners about a reliable person who can watch Fido or Fluffy while they are on vacation.

If you are going to house-sit the animal, you will likely get paid more for also keeping an eye on the property while the owner is away.

13. Freelance Writer

Although freelance writers no longer provide articles — it’s called “content” now — freelance writing is a gig that can offer the freedom to accept the assignments you want. There are firms that will connect freelance writers to people or companies in need of blogs, resumes, cover letters, marketing content and more.

According to Indeed, the average hourly pay for a freelance writer is a bit over $20, but you are often paid by assignment or by word, so the pay varies. If you have knowledge in certain topics like science and medicine, the pay can be higher.

Writing skills rarely diminish, but the requirements for writing change over time. A knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) is going to open more doors. Many jobs that use job search websites like Indeed ask for candidates to take a writing test, but many of those are simple grammar or proofreading tests.

While there are occasional situations where someone needs a one-off writing assignment, freelance writer jobs often offer consistent, if sporadic, work. A retiree who can write could have a client for years. Check out this Penny Hoarder article on places hiring freelance writers.

14. Call Center Employee

Just to be clear, we are talking about taking calls from customers, not making calls. A call center representative answers incoming calls from customers or potential customers and either answers questions or sends the caller to someone else who can answer.

As much as this is a remote job, it is definitely a people-person retirement job. You are likely to be talking to someone who is upset or unhappy, and you are the first line of communication for the company you are representing. You need to be capable of being friendly and helpful in the face of unpleasant conversation.

As such, typical hourly pay is $15 as a call center representative.

15. Freelance Bartender

Freelance bartending doesn’t require bartending school and can earn you good money working at large events or small, private parties. Hourly pay for freelance bartenders can be anywhere from $20 to $50 even before tips.

If you can memorize lots of cocktail recipes, if you have an outgoing personality and a steady hand, and if you’re willing to cut people off if needed, this could be a fit for you. Your best bet might be starting out tending bar for people you know and then building a network of referrals.

Plan on some up-front costs, such as a portable bar (if the host doesn’t have one) and basic bar tools. The host is expected to supply the alcohol and mixers. And to protect against possible liability you might want to consider an annual liability policy.

16. Shopping Specialist

Is it the shopping or the buying that you enjoy? If it’s the shopping, then you might consider becoming someone’s personal shopper.

The job title describes the job. You are given a shopping list and the means to make the purchase, and you chase after the items.

Certainly, many people already have personal shoppers and don’t know it. When they contact a grocery store and provide an itemized list of goods they want, someone does the “shopping,” and the items are then delivered.

But true personal shoppers are more likely to purchase clothing and accessories than groceries. A personal shopper often finds items and then sends photos and descriptions to the person who hired them to get approval.

Some high-end clothing stores offer personal shopper services as well. These positions might be a little less “personal,” as they might be a one-day relationship. But the concept is the same.

Personal shoppers who go after groceries or staples are likely to make typical hourly pay of $14 to $20. Those who work for a service are likely on a wage or salary determined by the service rather than by the client.

There’s also money to be made as a mystery shopper. Mystery shoppers are sometimes called evaluators or secret shoppers and often work on their own time. Their job is to document their shopping experiences and report back to the owners to help them improve customer service.

Got what it takes to be a mystery shopper? We’ve rounded up five companies that are hiring retail sleuths. 

17. Security Guard

A security guard who does not carry a weapon serves as a presence to discourage inappropriate behavior. While many large businesses like Target or Wal-Mart hire security personnel from a service, small employers such as charitable or service organizations are likely to hire someone who is reliable and gives the appearance of authority.

The responsibilities of a security guard depend on the needs of the company being guarded. There may be requirements that go beyond just being a presence, but the differences depend on the needs of the company.

Hourly pay for security guards without weapons training is likely to be between $10 and $17. Night-time security guards are likely to make more than daytime ones.

This is a good job for retirees who do not mind a bit of boredom.

Security guards who do carry weapons require special training and weapons licensing, and is an entirely different job pursuit, perhaps not as well-suited to a retirement job.

18. Seasonal Job Employee

Remember when you had a summer job as a teenager or a part-time job during your winter break from college? The same logic can work when you’re thinking about some extra retirement income.

Many seasonal jobs are defined by the weather, which is defined by the time of year and the climate where you live. Seasonal jobs are popular, never go out of style (except when the season changes), and can actually be a fun job to look forward to.

Ski resorts in the winter and water parks in the summer are two great examples of places that require seasonal employees. It is not necessary to be a ski instructor or a lifeguard, either. These places require assistance in areas outside of their main purpose: security, transportation, customer service. Even the National Park Service hires seasonal temps.

Also included in seasonal work are holiday positions during the months of October-December. On-site customer service, truck unloading, shelving of new goods, and custodial services are among the positions for which big box stores are likely to need employees. For example in 2021, we tallied more than 1 million seasonal jobs at national retailers and delivery services.

Some stores hold hiring events in October to fill these positions, but they often continue searching for employees throughout the final three months of the year.

A man takes out a croissant out of a display case for a customer who is purchasing it.
Getty Images

19. Baker/Butcher

Perhaps you grew up baking your own bread, and your cupcakes were legendary at your kid’s school events.

Perhaps you know your way around a rump roast, or can identify all the various cuts of meat they offer at your local butcher.

You could turn your lifelong interest in food preparation into a part-time job, and you are likely to be welcomed because you don’t need as much training as a newbie. Your local grocery store would be a good place to start, letting the hiring manager know that you have some background as a butcher or baker.

These are speciality skills, and as such get paid better than some other positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a butcher’s hourly wage is approximately $17.15 an hour. Payscale.com lists the average hourly wage for a baker at just under $13 per hour.

20. Specialty Store Employee

You know which hardware store to go to to get advice from someone who has fixed a toilet in their life. You know which fabric store to go to where the employees know the difference between chiffon and silk.

You could be one of those employees.

During your life, you have become knowledgeable about some aspect of household or everyday life. People with your knowledge are hired by companies to help people who do not yet have that experience. Stores that serve a specific type of customer would love to hire someone they don’t have to train extensively.

According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for a hardware store employee is just under $13. Indeed says a sales associate at a specialty store will make an average of just over $10 an hour, maybe more now that minimum wages are increasing across the country.

Pro Tip

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal makes the remote-job hunt easy. Our journalists scour the web for the best gigs, vet the companies and aggregate the latest listings in one place.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com