75 Personal Finance Rules of Thumb

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A “rule of thumb” is a mental shortcut. It’s a heuristic. It’s not always true, but it’s usually true. It saves you time and brainpower. Rather than re-inventing the wheel for every money problem you face, personal finance rules of thumb let you apply wisdom from the past to reach quick solutions.

Table of Contents show

I’m going to do my best Buzzfeed impression today and give you a list of 75 personal finance rules of thumb. Some are efficient packets of advice while others are mathematical shortcuts to save brain space. Either way, I bet you’ll learn a thing or two—quickly—from this list.

The Basics

These basic personal finance rules of thumb apply to everybody. They’re simple and universal.

1. The Order of Operations (since this is one of the bedrocks of personal finance, I wrote a PDF explaining all the details. Since you’re a reader here, it’s free.)

2. Insurance protects wealth. It doesn’t build wealth.

3. Cash is good for current expenses and emergencies, but nothing more. Holding too much cash means you’re losing long-term value.

4. Time is money. Wealth is a measure of how much time your money can buy.

5. Set specific financial goals. Specific numbers, specific dates. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.

6. Keep an eye on your credit score. Check-in at least once a year.

7. Converting wages to salary: $1/per hour = $2000 per year.

8. Don’t mess with City Hall. Don’t cheat on your taxes.

9. You can afford anything. You can’t afford everything.

10. Money saved is money earned. When you look at your bottom line, saving a dollar has the equivalent effect as earning a dollar. Saving and earning are equally important.

Budgeting

I love budgeting, but not everyone is as zealous as me. Still, if you’re looking to budget (or even if you’re not), I think these budgeting rules of thumb are worth following.

11. You need a budget. The key to getting your financial life under control is making a budget and sticking to it. That is the first step for every financial decision.

12. The 50-30-20 rule of budgeting. After taxes, 50% of your money should cover needs, 30% should cover wants, and 20% should repay debts or invest.

13. Use “sinking funds” to save for rainy days. You know it’ll rain eventually.

14. Don’t mix savings and checking. One saves, the other spends.

15. Children cost about $10,000 per kid, per year. Family planning = financial planning.

16. Spend less than you earn. You might say, “Duh!” But if you’re not measuring your spending (e.g. with a budget), are you sure you meet this rule?

Investing & Retirement

Basic investing, in my opinion, is a ‘must know’ for future financial success. The following rules of thumb will help you dip your toe in those waters.

17. Don’t handpick stocks. Choose index funds instead. Very simple, very effective.

18. People who invest full-time are smarter than you. You can’t beat them.

19. The Rule of 72 (it’s doctor-approved). An investment annual growth rate multiplied by its doubling time equals (roughly) 72. A 4% investment will double in 18 years (4*18 = 72). A 12% investment will double in 6 years (12*6 = 72).

20. “Don’t do something, just sit there.” -Jack Bogle, on how bad it is to worry about your investments and act on those emotions.

21. Get the employer match. If your employer has a retirement program (e.g. 401k, pension), make sure you get all the free money you can.

22. Balance pre-tax and post-tax investments. It’s hard to know what tax rates will be like when you retire, so balancing between pre-tax and post-tax investing now will also keep your tax bill balanced later.

23. Keep costs low. Investing fees and expense ratios can eat up your profits. So keep those fees as low as possible.

24. Don’t touch your retirement money. It can be tempting to dip into long-term savings for an important current need. But fight that urge. You’ll thank yourself later.

25. Rebalancing should be part of your investing plan. Portfolios that start diversified can become concentrated some one asset does well and others do poorly. Rebalancing helps you rest your diversification and low er your risk.

26. The 4% Rule for retirement. Save enough money for retirement so that your first year of expenses equals 4% (or less) of your total nest egg.

27. Save for your retirement first, your kids’ college second. Retirees don’t get scholarships.

28. $1 invested in stocks today = $10 in 30 years.

29. Inflation is about 3% per year. If you want to be conservative, use 3.5% in your money math.

30. Stocks earn 7% per year, after adjusting for inflation.

31. Own your age in bonds. Or, own 120 minus your age in bonds. The heuristic used to be that a 30-year old should have a portfolio that’s 30% bonds, 40-year old 40% bonds, etc. More recently, the “120 minus your age” rule has become more prevalent. 30-year old should own 10% bonds, 40-year old 20% bonds, etc.

32. Don’t invest in the unknown. Or as Warren Buffett suggests, “Invest in what you know.”

Home & Auto

For many of you, home and car ownership contribute to your everyday finances. The following personal finance rules of thumb will be especially helpful for you.

33. Your house’s sticker price should be less than 3x your family’s combined income. Being “house poor”—or having too expensive of a house compared to your income—is one of the most common financial pitfalls. Avoid it if you can.

34. Broken appliance? Replace it if 1) the appliance is 8+ years old or 2) the repair would cost more than half of a new appliance.

35. Used car or new car? The cost difference isn’t what it used to be. The choice is even.

36. A car’s total lifetime cost is about 3x its sticker price. Choose wisely!

37. 20-4-10 rule of buying a vehicle. Put 20% of the vehicle down in cash, with a loan of 4 years or less, with a monthly payment that is less than 10% of your monthly income.

38. Re-financing a mortgage makes sense once interest rates drop by 1% (or more) from your current rate.

39. Don’t pre-pay your mortgage (unless your other bases are fully covered). Mortgages interest is deductible, and current interest rates are low. While pre-paying your mortgage saves you that little bit of interest, there’s likely a better use for you extra cash.

40. Set aside 1% of your home’s value each year for future maintenance and repairs.

41. The average car costs about 50 cents per mile over the course of its life.

42. Paying interest on a depreciating asset (e.g. a car) is losing twice.

43. Your main home isn’t an investment. You shouldn’t plan on both living in your house forever and selling it for profit. The logic doesn’t work.

44. Pay cash for cars, if you can. Paying interest on a car is a losing move.

45. If you’re buying a fixer-upper, consider the 70% rule to sort out worthy properties.

46. If you’re buying a rental property, the 1% rule easily evaluates if you’ll get a positive cash flow.

Spending & Debt

Do you spend money? (“What kind of question is that?”) Then these personal finance rules of thumb will apply to you.

47. Pay off your credit card every month.

48. In debt? Use psychology to help yourself. Consider the debt snowball or debt avalanche.

49. When making a purchase, consider cost-per-use.

50. Make your spending tangible with a ‘cash diet.’

51. Never pay full price. Shop around and do your research to get the best deals. You can earn cash back when you shop online, score a discount with a coupon code, or a voucher for free shipping.

52. Buying experiences makes you happier than buying things.

53. Shop by yourself. Peer pressure increases spending.

54. Shop with a list, and stick to it. Stores are designed to pull you into purchases you weren’t expecting.

55. Spend on the person you are, not the person you want to be. I love cooking, but I can’t justify $1000 of professional-grade kitchenware.

56. The bigger the purchase, the more time it deserves. Organic vs. normal peanut butter? Don’t spend 10 minutes thinking about it. $100K on a timeshare? Don’t pull the trigger when you’re three margaritas deep.

57. Use less than 30% of your available credit. Credit usage plays a major role in your credit score. Consistently maxing out your credit hurts your credit score. Aim to keep your usage low (paying off every month, preferably).

58. Unexpected windfall? Use 5% or less to treat yourself, but use the rest wisely (e.g. invest for later).

59. Aim to keep your student loans less than one year’s salary in your field.

The Mental Side of Personal Finance

At the end of the day, you are what you do. Psychology and behavior play an essential role in personal finance. That’s why these behavioral rules of thumb are vital.

60. Consider peace of mind. Paying off your mortgage isn’t always the optimum use of extra money. But the peace of mind that comes with eliminating debt—it’s huge.

61. Small habits build up to big impacts. It feels like a baby step now, but give yourself time.

62. Give your brain some time. Humans might rule the animal kingdom, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t impulsive. Give your brain some time to think before making big financial decisions.

63. The 30 Day Rule. Wait 30 days before you make a purchase of a “want” above a certain dollar amount. If you still want it after waiting and you can afford it, then buy it.  

64. Pay yourself first. Put money away (into savings or investment accounts) before you ever have a chance to spend it.

65. As a family, don’t fall into the two-income trap. If you can, try to support your lifestyle off of only one income. Should one spouse lose their job, the family finances will still be stable.

66. Every dollar counts. Money is fungible. There are plenty of ways to supplement your income stream.

67. Savor what you have before buying new stuff. Consider the fulfillment curve.

68. Negotiating your salary can be one of the most important financial moves you make. Increasing your income might be more important than anything else on this list.

69. Direct deposit is the nudge you need. If you don’t see your paycheck, you’re less likely to spend it.

70. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Instead, use comparisons to set goals. (net worth).

71. Learning is earning. Education is 5x more impactful to work-life earnings than other demographics.

72. If you wouldn’t pay in cash, then don’t pay in credit. Swiping a credit card feels so easy compared to handing over a stack of cash. Don’t let your brain fool itself.

73. Envision a leaky bucket. Water leaking from the bottom is just as consequential as water entering the top. We often ignore financial leaks (e.g. fees), since they’re not as glamorous—but we shouldn’t.

74. Forget the Joneses. Use comparisons to motivate healthier habits, not useless spending.

75. Talk about money! I know it’s sometimes frowned upon (like politics or religion), but you can learn a ton from talking to your peers about money. Unsure where to start? You can talk to me!

The Last Personal Finance Rule of Thumb

Last but not least, an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Boom! Got ’em again! Ben Franklin streaks in for another meta appearance. Thanks Ben!

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

This article—just like every other—is supported by readers like you.

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Source: bestinterest.blog

By the numbers: My spending for March 2019

March was a mixed month in my financial world. I ended March with a slightly higher net worth (up 0.6%) but my spending was the highest it’s been this year: $5989.10. Yet, that spending was mostly mindful. I wasn’t frittering away money on silly things.

If I wasn’t buying dumb stuff, then where did my money go? A few worthwhile places:

  • I spent $653.31 on the yard and garden. Specifically, Kim and I tore out a big cedar tree in the corner of the yard, then converted that space to a small orchard. I use the word “orchard” loosely here. We planted three fruit trees, four blueberries, four grape vines, and a bunch of strawberries. I hope to write about this more in the near future.
  • I spent $625.72 on health and fitness. In the middle of the month, I had quite a scare. Out of nowhere, I had chest pains, so I visited the local hospital ER. My co-pays and prescriptions are reflected in March’s spending — and there’s more to come. (We’re about to have a l-o-n-g article on the $6800 hospital bill I received in the mail yesterday. That’ll happen in April or May.) Meanwhile, Kim had knee surgery at the end of the month. I paid for some of her stuff out of my pocket.
  • I spent $579.36 on gifts in March, which is very very unusual.
  • I paid the $450 annual fee on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. (Yes, I know this seems like a lot. But remember the card comes with a $300 travel credit, which means my effective annual fee is $150. I believe I receive $150 in value from the card’s other benefits.)

I don’t consider any of that spending frivolous although I recognize that some of it isn’t necessary. (Do we need an orchard? Do I need to give gifts?)

That said, I did have some weak spots in my spending. I bought several movies on iTunes. In fact, I spent $72.63 on iTunes in March. I need to be careful lest I return to my former profligate ways. No more looking in the iTunes store! I also spent $230.15 on alcohol during the month (most of which was beer).

How did I do with groceries? As you know, my food spending had grown out of control, which is one of the primary reasons I’m tracking my spending in detail this year. Last year, I spent over $1000 per month in food. This year, I’m spending less than $700 per month.

I was very proud of my food spending for most of March. I spent a total of $658.21 during the month: $468.27 on groceries and $184.24 on dining out. That’s my lowest monthly food total in two years (excepting months during which I’ve been on the road).

Going into the last week of March, I’d only spent $241.87 on groceries. That’s amazing! Things fell apart, however, when I stocked up on food for Kim’s convalescence. Meanwhile, we only had three restaurant meals during the month. For one of those, I paid for two guests. Not bad. Not bad.

Quarterly Spending

Now that we’ve made it through the first three months of 2019, I was curious how my quarterly spending compared to last year. Monthly spending can fluctuate quite a bit. You can get a better idea of your actual habits by looking at a bigger picture.

Here are some highlights:

  • I spent $116.56 at the iTunes store during the first quarter of 2019. That’s less than I spent on movies and TV shows during any single month last year, so that’s a win.
  • I spent $2076.54 on food for the quarter, which is lower than any quarter in 2018. I spent $1179.53 on groceries, $323.52 on HelloFresh, and $542.29 on dining out. That restaurant spending is another big win. The grocery spending was good — better than any quarter in 2018 — but I feel like I can do better.
  • I spent a lot on health and fitness during the first three months of the year: $1752.60. And the thing is, it’s not going to get much better.
  • This year, I decided to separate hot tub expenses into its own category. I spent $151.88 on hot tub stuff (chemicals, etc.) during the first three months of the year. And, no, that doesn’t include electricity.
  • Our zoo — three cats and a dog — cost us $447.54 during the first quarter of 2019.
  • You know where I could save big bucks? By drinking less. I spent $586.36 on alcohol during the first three months of the year (and that includes four weeks during which I didn’t drink a drop!). That’s $6.44 per day. Time for me to cut back on my craft beer obsession…

I spent a total of $15,364.85 during the first quarter of 2019, an average of $5121.62 per month. That’s not a great number, to be honest. It’s pretty much what I was spending last year. Still, I’m trying not to get too stressed about things…yet.

The whole point of this exercise is for me to figure out where I’m spending my money and why. Once I have a clear picture, I can make some course corrections.

April is the Cruelest Month

Unfortunately, April is going to have some crazy, crazy spending numbers. My accountant called yesterday to give me my tax bill. I owe $20,000. (I’m not joking.) The hospital called too. They wanted to let me know that I owe them $6800 for the ER visit in the middle of March. To cap things off, payment is due on the vacation that Kim and I booked a year ago. We’ll be headed to Greece and Italy in August — but we’re paying for it today.

Fortunately, I knew that some of these expenses were looming, so I have cash set aside to pay for taxes and our trip. (The ER visit was a surprise, obviously, and I don’t have money set aside for that.) That doesn’t change the fact that April’s expenses are going to be insane, though. It just means I’m somewhat prepared for the insanity.

The upside to having a $6800 hospital bill so early in the year? It gives me a chance to make maximum use of my health insurance! My max “out of pocket” is $7900 annually. Since it looks like I’m going to hit that, it makes sense to address all medical issues that are bugging me in 2019.

At the end of 2018, I had a net worth of $1,334,227.20. At the end of March, my net worth was $1,397,545.18. That’s a leap of more than $63,000 (or 4.75%). That’s great! In reality, this simply reflects a hot stock market. My investment accounts are up $77,933.04 this year (11.45%).

A hot stock market can cover a multitude of sins…

Source: getrichslowly.org

How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Every State

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the new programs and provisions in the second stimulus package.

For the first time nationally, independent contractors and gig workers can receive unemployment benefits — through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Millions of Americans have relied on this program since it was created by the first stimulus package in March 2020.

Depending on your state, PUA effectively expired on Dec. 26 or 27. At the 11th hour, lawmakers rallied to pass a second stimulus package, extending the program for 11 weeks. However, some states had to pause making PUA payments as they implemented the new rules.

The Penny Hoarder looked at the application process in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. when the program was first created. We compiled the information into an interactive map that shows you how to file in each state, then updated the information based on new provisions laid out in the second stimulus package.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Here’s a look at what’s included. (Click a link to jump to the section you need.)

What Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was established by the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package in March 2020 and was extended by the second stimulus package passed in December 2020.

PUA grants unemployment benefits to people who don’t typically qualify for their state’s regular unemployment program. A whole new set of people are now eligible for unemployment benefits — namely gig workers, independent contractors and furloughed workers.

To be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you must be fully or partially unemployed due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are seeking diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has COVID-19.
  • You are taking care of someone with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to the pandemic.
  • You are quarantined by order of a doctor or health official.
  • You were scheduled to start employment and don’t have a job or can’t reach their workplace as a result of the pandemic.
  • You have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household died due to COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
Pro Tip

If you have already exhausted your state’s Unemployment Insurance benefits, you may receive additional benefits through PUA.

Weekly PUA pays half of your state’s average unemployment payment. Average state payments range from roughly $180 to $480, meaning that you can expect PUA payments between $90 and $240 weekly.

If you are approved for at least $1 in unemployment benefits, you will also be eligible for a $300 weekly boost for up to 11 weeks and until March 14, 2021. This $300 boost is known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

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How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA

Initially, the CARES Act authorized PUA payments for a maximum of 39 weeks. The second stimulus package extended PUA to 50 weeks total — or 11 extra weeks.

PUA now sunsets on March 14, 2021, unless extended by Congress and the Biden administration. Those who haven’t exhausted their PUA benefits as of March 14, 2021, may continue receiving benefits until April 5, 2021.

One new and notable limitation: PUA used to be available retroactively as far back as January 2020. The new stimulus law tightens the window for retroactive PUA payments to Dec. 1, 2020, through March 14, 2021.

All PUA recipients should be expecting to file more paperwork, too. To curb fraud, the second stimulus deal forces current and new PUA recipients to submit documents related to employment or self-employment, according to the DOL.

The exact documents needed will be determined by your state agency, which is required to notify you. The deadline to file those documents is March 27, 2021. Defer to your state’s deadline if different.

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How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, State by State

Our interactive map includes PUA filing instructions for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Based on The Penny Hoarder’s analysis, 35 states and D.C. process PUA applicants using the same application for general unemployment. Only 15 states have separate PUA applications.

Here’s how we broke it down on the map.

General Unemployment

To determine PUA eligibility, most states funnel applicants through the Unemployment Insurance system first. Those states require you to file two applications: state unemployment first, then PUA.

In such states, you must get denied Unemployment Insurance (UI) before applying for PUA. Only a handful of states have one streamlined, general unemployment application that determines your eligibility for both PUA or regular benefits.

For simplicity — and because in both instances your first step is filing a general unemployment claim — both methods are categorized as “general unemployment (UI)” on the map, in dark  blue.

To see if you need to file two applications or one streamlined version, click your state on the map for specific filing instructions.

PUA

States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

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Documents Needed to File for PUA

If you’re ready to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you’ll need to gather several types of identification- and income-related documents.

Your state may require a few additional documents, but here’s an overview:

  • State-issued ID card.
  • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number.
  • Mailing and residential address (if different).
  • Bank account information for direct deposit, otherwise your benefits will arrive via a prepaid debit card or check.
  • Tax return: Form 1040, Schedule C, F and/or SE.
  • As many income statements as possible: bank receipts with deposit information, 1099 forms, W-2s, paycheck stubs, income summaries and business ledgers.

Income statements and related documents are crucial to proving how and when the coronavirus affected your earnings. For freelancers and independent contractors, it may be difficult to compile everything. Include as much as possible.

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Expect Delays

Due to new rules outlined in the second stimulus package, state labor departments are once again scrambling. Hiccups should be expected while applying for, asking about or submitting documents related to PUA. Many gig workers and independent contractors warn of website crashes, unavailable customer service, confusing questionnaires and more.

Perseverance is key.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

New PUA Rules: Don’t Miss These Unemployment Deadlines

The second stimulus package is tightening the rules for millions of gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed workers receiving unemployment aid.

On Dec. 27, the $900 billion stimulus package extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a critical benefits program for folks who don’t typically qualify for regular unemployment aid. The deal lengthened PUA benefits for at least 11 weeks, but it also created new filing rules that affect current recipients and new applicants alike.

Chief among the new rules: You will need to submit income documentation to your state’s unemployment agency if you are a gig worker or self-employed worker — or risk losing future benefits and having to return any benefits collected after Dec. 27.

“I think they are a real pain,” said Michele Evermore, an unemployment policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, regarding the new PUA filing rules. “Not just for recipients, but for state agencies to collect. Every burden we add to state agencies slows benefit processing for everyone.”

The new requirements are intended to combat fraud. According to the Department of Labor, more than 7.4 million people are relying on PUA and are subject to the changes.

New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Rules and Deadlines

The new deadlines established by the second stimulus package are different for current PUA recipients and new applicants.

As a current PUA recipient, you have until March 27 to submit income-related documents to prove your PUA eligibility. If you apply for PUA before Jan. 31, you also have until March 27.

If you apply for PUA Jan. 31 or later, you will have 21 days from the date of your application to submit income-related documents.

The Department of Labor requires each state to notify you of your state-specific rules. Your state may have different deadlines. In that case, refer to your state’s instructions. The DOL is also leaving it to each state to determine exactly what documents are required to prove your eligibility.

Here are some examples of documents your state may ask you to file:

  • Tax forms such as 1099s and W-2s.
  • Ledgers, recent pay stubs and earnings statements from gig apps.
  • Recent bank statements showing direct deposits.

If you’re self-employed, you may be required to submit:

  • Federal or state income tax documents.
  • A business license.
  • A 1040 tax form along with a Schedule C, F, SE or K.
  • Additional records that prove you’re self employed, such as utility bills, rental agreements or checks.

If you’re qualifying for PUA because you were about to start a job but the offer was rescinded due to COVID-19 related reasons, you may be asked to submit an offer letter, details about the employer and other information related to the job to verify your claim.

Another new rule is that you will have to self-certify that you meet one or more of the following PUA eligibility requirements on a weekly basis:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are seeking diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has COVID-19.
  • You are taking care of someone with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to the pandemic.
  • You are quarantined by order of a doctor or health official.
  • You were scheduled to start employment and don’t have a job or can’t reach your workplace as a result of the pandemic.
  • You have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household died due to COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.

Self-certification means that you swear the reason(s) you are on PUA is or are true at the risk of perjury. Previously, PUA applicants had to self-certify only once at the time of their initial application.

Evermore says that since current PUA recipients weren’t asked to submit all this information when they were first approved, they might no longer have access to the requested documents.

“People who were told they don’t need documentation may have lost it, and this will create panic resulting in more stress on people who have already had an unimaginably bad year,” she said.

The good news, Evermore says, is that states have leniency to waive some of these requirements if you can demonstrate “good cause” for not being able to submit the requested documents. What’s considered “good cause” is also determined on a state-by-state basis.

“People who got approved for benefits in the past won’t necessarily get cut off from benefits simply because they are unable to produce the requested documentation,” Evermore said. “Just follow all of the agency’s instructions carefully.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, remote work and other unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Morgan Brown Re-Lists Stunning West Hollywood Home Amid Split from Actor Gerard Butler

Following her highly publicized breakup with Scottish actor Gerard Butler, real estate developer Morgan Brown is now also ready to part ways with her West Hollywood home.

Brown is asking $18,995,000 for the astounding property, which sits on what is arguably West Hollywood’s most prime residential street. The house itself is touted as an architectural triumph and designer “tour de force”, showcasing an unparalleled attention to detail and the finest finishes money can buy — all credited to Morgan Brown’s extensive knowledge of fine living.

An accomplished interior designer and real estate investor, Morgan Brown is the developer and owner of the home, and has left her expert touch throughout the nearly 10,000-square-foot compound. You can see her touring the home and detailing her choices for its design in this 2019 video, from when the property was briefly listed for sale with a slightly more ambitious $19.5 million asking price.

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The compound sits on a 0.6-acre double lot and features 4 standalone structures on its lush, private grounds.

The main residence, a perfectly-appointed Mediterranean-style home, comes with 6 bedrooms (with 2 other bedrooms available in the guest house), and a designer kitchen seemingly born of another era, which features a La Cornue range (one of the most expensive models in the world), nautical-inspired compass accents and vintage elements.

The exquisite kitchen opens up to an adjoining “rock room”, which oozes warmth and charm with its 18th-century fireplace mantle imported all the way from France. 

Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency

There’s also a 12-seat home theater which boasts vintage intercut Moroccan wood paneling, vintage Morrocan rugs, and a custom queen-sized day bed with Moroccan brass sconces.

The on-site gym is equally luxurious and well-appointed, with a custom industrial effect ballet bar made out of plumbing pipe, speckled glass mirrors, brass sconces, vintage statement furniture, and a six-person steam shower.

And since we’re talking showers, the bathrooms (10 in total) have their own unique sets of upgrades, with designer details, private fountains, statues and doubled sided glass enclosures. 

Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency

Outside, Morgan Brown’s house features plenty of space for entertaining guests (and there’s a certain added charm to knowing that her famous ex, Gerard Butler, likely spent his mornings enjoying a cup of coffee on the green patio).

And if that won’t do it for you, just imagine the Scottish hunk lounging by the pool on a lazy weekend (assuming that celebrities get those too and have the time to truly enjoy the spectacular homes they live in).

Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency
Morgan Brown’s exquisite home in West Hollywood. Image credit: The Agency

The property is listed with The Agency, with Christopher Dyson in charge of finding a buyer for this one-of-a-kind designer home. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye for Morgan Brown’s next home buy; because if there’s one thing we know about her, it’s that the woman has exceptional taste.

More celebrity homes

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Source: fancypantshomes.com

Greystone Mansion: the Most Familiar House You’ve Never Visited

There’s this mansion in Beverly Hills that a large part of the world’s population has already seen, even though they might not realize it.

It’s a historic house that’s been used in endless Hollywood movies, TV series, and music videos. After you finish reading this article, you might just realize that you’ve seen this house before, too. Well, now you will also know its history, and when you see it again on your TV screen (and more than likely, you will), you’ll recognize it. 

The place we’re referring to is known as Greystone Mansion or Doheny Mansion, and it’s located at 905 Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills. The Tudor Revival mansion was originally completed in 1928, after three years’ worth of construction and a total cost of over $4 million — an insane amount at the time. 

The inception of Doheny Mansion

The 55-room, 46,000-square-foot mansion lies on a 16-acre site within Trousdale Estates. It was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann and built by the P.J. Walker Company. The land was actually a wedding gift from oil tycoon Edward Doheny to his son, Edward ‘Ned’ Doheny, and his new wife, Lucy Smith. 

Edward Doheny was an American oil tycoon who drilled the first oil well in Los Angeles in 1892. His story was depicted in the Academy Award-winning movie There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Interestingly enough, the movie was actually filmed at Doheny Mansion. 

Ned Doheny’s house became known as Greystone because it was built mainly of stone, and has a grey, stone-cold appearance. The house took roughly three years to build, and included stables, kennels, tennis courts, a gatehouse, a swimming pool and pavilion, a lake with babbling brooks and waterfalls, and even a fire station. 

A bittersweet move-in for the Dohenys

Unfortunately, Ned Doheny didn’t get to enjoy his new home for too long. Just four months after moving into Greystone Mansion, Doheny was found dead in the house, alongside his secretary and friend, Hugh Plunkett. The case was ruled a murder-suicide, however, some claim that there’s more to that story.

Doheny was killed by his own gun, and he was not buried with the rest of his family, but in a different cemetery, just a few yards away from where Plunkett was laid to rest. This has led some to believe that Doheny might have committed suicide, however, this is just a theory that certainly adds a bit of mystery to Greystone Mansion. 

Following Ned Doheny’s death, his wife Lucy remarried and lived in the house with her children until 1955. Greystone Mansion was later sold to Paul Trousdale, the developer of Trousdale Estates, who then sold it to Henry Crown of Chicago. The businessman never actually lived in the house, but leased it out to film studios — and that’s how Greystone’s prolific movie career started. 

Greystone Mansion, Hollywood’s favorite filming location

Over the decades, Greystone Mansion has been featured in numerous Hollywood movies and TV series, including classics like The Big Lebowski, Eraserhead, The Witches of Eastwick, Death Becomes Her, Batman & Robin, The Bodyguard, Dark Shadows, The Prestige, The Social Network, and X-Men.

The mansion has also made appearances in TV series, including Alias and The Young and the Restless, and it also played the part of Chilton Academy in Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls scene filmed at Greystone Mansion, featuring the home’s famous staircase

Last but not least, Greystone Mansion has been featured in commercials and even music videos. You might have already toured the house alongside Robert Downey Jr., in the music video for Elton John’s single I Want Love. Let us refresh your memory:

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In 1965, the City of Beverly Hills purchased Greystone Mansion, and a few years later, the property became a public city park. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, as Doheny Estate/Greystone.

The mansion continues to be used as a filming location and a destination for special events such as music festivals, fundraisers, and even weddings. Greystone Mansion houses the Beverly Hills Flower & Garden Festival, the yearly Catskills West drama camp, and The Annual Hollywood Ball, among others. 

A carefully preserved slice of L.A. history

Greystone Mansion is a remarkable feat of architecture, and most of its original features have been carefully preserved over the years. The property features hand-carved oak banisters, balustrades and rafters, seven chimneys, each designed by a different artist, a movie theater room, a billiard room, a hidden bar, and a two-lane original Brunswick bowling alley. The alley was renovated so that it could be used by the filming crew for There Will Be Blood

There’s a grand hall with distinctive, black-and-white marble floors and a very famous staircase. In fact, the staircase at Greystone Mansion has been featured in numerous productions, due to its majestic appearance. 

Greystone Mansion also included a servant’s quarters that took up two entire floors on the east wing and was built to accommodate a live-in staff of 15.

There was also a living room with a balcony where musicians performed at special events, and a kitchen pantry with a secret wall safe that held the family’s silver and gold kitchenware.

This stunning, stone-clad Beverly Hills mansion continues to attract filming crews, and we’re definitely going to be seeing it again on the big screen. At the same time, its beautiful, lush gardens and its rich history will continue to attract visitors from around the world.

Here’s a further glimpse into the mansion’s history, to keep you occupied until you get a chance to visit in person:

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Featured image courtesy of The City of Beverly Hills

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Source: fancypantshomes.com

Former OPI Exec Lists Italian-Style Villa in Beverly Hills for $33 Million

Miriam Schaeffer, a former executive at nail polish giant OPI Products, is looking to sell her Italian-style villa in Beverly Hills, CA — and won’t settle for just any amount.

The nail polish mogul — who is also the former wife of George Schaeffer, founder of the popular nail polish brand — is asking a hefty $33 million for her opulent home set in one of the most sough-after streets in the area, Roxbury Drive, a historically popular address among celebrities.

Located on N. Roxbury Drive, the property has a rich history and has been considerably upgraded and expanded in recent years. In fact, Schaeffer invested heavily in the property, expanding its footprint by roughly 40% and significantly boosting the amenity roster.

Originally built in 1926 by the architectural firm Camduff and Camduff as one of the partners’ own homes, the architectural masterpiece was revamped by renowned architect Richard Manion in 2016. The current owner worked alongside the architect to add amenities like a media room and a wine cellar, and to expand the beautiful grounds. 

Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency

The combination of Spanish, Italian, and Mediterranean revival architecture is probably why this property is also known as Casa California. It’s a perfect representation of relaxed California living, featuring a long list of fun amenities that includes a fitness studio, a media room, a spa, and a swimming pool. 

The property offers roughly 210 feet of frontage along N. Roxbury Drive, also known as ‘street of the stars’ (a highly popular destination for celebrities living in Beverly Hills), but it also offers privacy from prying eyes via a gated and hedged entrance.

The mansion has 7 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and an impressive total of 13,765 square feet of living space. The rear grounds are home to the pool, the spa, a guest house, and a fitness studio, all surrounded by complete privacy and tranquility.

Inside, a two-story entry greets visitors, leading to a living room with a stunning fireplace and doors that open to the front grounds. There is also a state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen, complete with a breakfast room and a wood-paneled family room that opens to the pool. 

Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency
Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency
Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency
Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency

Upstairs, there is a gorgeous master suite that incorporates a sitting room, custom-made closets, and a terrace with fabulous views. There’s no shortage of space for family or friends, as the upper levels also include no less than 5 guest suites. 

Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency

Additional amenities include a wine cellar, an elevator, an entertainment room, and a bar, making this house perfect for any type of entertaining. 

Ultra-luxurious villa on N. Roxbury Drive. Image credit: Simon Berlyn courtesy of The Agency

This luxurious N. Roxbury Drive property is marketed by The Agency, with Jacob Dadon handling the listing. The current owner is Miriam Schaeffer, the former wife of George Schaeffer, who founded the popular nail polish brand OPI. 

Schaeffer bought OPI (then Odontorium Products Inc.) in 1981 in Calabasas. At the time, the company was in the dental supply business, but Schaeffer and partner Suzi Weiss-Fischmann turned the brand into a global nail polish giant. The brand’s products were used in movies like Legally Blonde 2 and Alice in Wonderland, and they are known for their chip-resistant formula and bright colours. The company was acquired by Coty, Inc. in 2010, and Schaeffer stepped down as CEO in 2013. 

Miriam Schaeffer, George Schaeffer’s ex-wife, once worked as an executive and treasurer for the brand. She reportedly purchased the opulent house in 2012 for $14 million, according to Mansion Global, and invested in expanding its footprint by nearly 40%, alongside architect Richard Manion. 

More beautiful homes with famous owners

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Source: fancypantshomes.com

Newly Renovated, 1915-Built Townhouse in Park Slope Asks $4.4 Million

A four-bedroom townhouse with park views and tons of charm has recently hit the market, and we’re dying to tell you all about it. The listing, brought to market by Compass’ Michael J. Franco, is right next to Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s second largest park, and has plenty of outdoor space (and a rooftop deck to boot).

The townhouse sits in one of Brooklyn’s trendiest, most desirable neighborhoods — Park Slope — with its leafy streets lined with brick and brownstone townhouses, many of which were built near the turn of the 20th century and have been lovingly updated over the decades by young families migrating from Manhattan. Much like its neighboring properties, the 2,600-square-foot townhome at 15 Prospect Park was originally built more than a century ago in 1915 and retains its old-world charm — but has been carefully updated to meet modern standards of living.

Park Slope townhouse on the market for $4.4 million. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco

With 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a generously sized living room, and a finished basement, the Brooklyn townhouse also comes with a few rare features for a New York home: ample outdoor space and private parking (that includes a private garage and its own driveway).

The layout is split on three levels, with the first floor housing a large living room and open dining room — both with distinctive pre-war features like classic moldings and arches — and a renovated kitchen that opens up to a lovely terrace.

Beautiful living space with distinctive pre-war features like arches and moldings. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco
Beautiful living space with distinctive pre-war features like arches and moldings. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco
The renovated kitchen. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco
The Park Slope townhouse has a lovely terrace. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco

The second floor is home to 3 bedrooms and a sizeable landing which is perfect for either a library or a home office, while the third floor is dedicated to the primary bedroom suite and its massive walk-in closet, renovated bath with skylights and soaring ceilings, with a separate sitting area/den. The third level also provides access to the townhouse’s own rooftop deck, which adds more outdoor space and looks like a perfect place to entertain guests.

Bedroom opens up to Prospect Park views. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco
 Renovated bath with skylights and soaring ceilings. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco
Rooftop deck of the $4.4 million townhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Image credit: Compass//Michael J. Franco

The property is listed for $4,400,000 with Compass associate real estate broker Michael J. Franco.

More beautiful New York City homes

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Source: fancypantshomes.com

How to Build a Photo Scanning and Digitizing Side Gig

A woman scans old photos and saves them on her computer for a customer. The photo she is currently scanning is an old black and white photo of a boy.

Sabrina Hughes is a photography historian who operates her business, PhotoXO, from her home in South Pasadena, Fla. She archives analogue photos using a method of scan, organize and share. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

As simple as it sounds — and actually is — most people are overwhelmed by the thought of taking hundreds or even thousands of photos and organizing them into searchable, digital files.

Then there are the videos filmed on various versions of clunky cameras over the decades.

Perhaps the most daunting version of unorganized photographic memories are slides. Once the butt of so many jokes about boring dinner parties, now they are covered in dust with no hope of ever seeing the light of a projector again.

Well, anyone armed with a $229 scanner and a computer can make searchable digital files of photos and slides. To turn videos into digital files, it takes the original camera they were filmed with or a VCR, an $87 adapter and a computer.

Here’s how to make photo scanning and digitizing your new side hustle.

Five years ago, professional photo curator Sabrina Hughes decided she could make a business out of helping people organize their photos, videos and slides. Her company, PhotoXO, has a compelling slogan: “Show your photos the love they deserve.”

Her years as a photographer, plus a graduate degree in art history and experience as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla., combine to make her an astute photo archivist. But all of this expertise and experience is not required.

“There’s a certain point when I’m not doing anything you can’t figure out on your own,” she said. “A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.”

Hughes offers a self-paced online class called Disaster to Done for $297, which includes lifetime access to course materials. But she’s also sharing her tips with The Penny Hoarder.

Get the Right Equipment

  • Scanner. There are hundreds of scanners out there, but she prefers the Epson v600, which sells for $229.
  • Video adapter. Hughes uses the Elgato Video Capture for digitizing VHS tapes. It can be bought online for $87.
  • Storage. “When I first started out, I was giving everything back on hard drives,” Hughes said. “I was trying to get away from DVDs, since most computers don’t even play those anymore.” She then offered flash drives filled with the photos. Though they are also becoming less common, this is still probably the best tool for beginners. Hughes now uploads everything to her website, which offers permanent storage.
  • Software. Hughes uses Adobe Lightroom ($119), which enables her to label photos so they can be searched and has photo editing functions. Software isn’t required to organize unlabeled photos into folders, however.
A stack of old black and white photographs sits on a person's desk.
A stack of client photos sits on Hughes’ desk . Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Develop and Perfect Your Process

The first step to starting your photo scanning business is setting aside a space in your home. It can be as small as a corner of your bedroom or a desktop if an actual office or spare room isn’t possible.

Next, create a storage system for clients’ photos and video tapes while your work is in progress. Of course clear boxes that stack are great, but they come with a cost. Cardboard shipping boxes work just as well. Place white adhesive labels on the ends with the name of the client and the date the work started. You can place new labels over these when one project is done and the next client’s photos go into the boxes.

To digitize photos and slides, scan each one with the scanner to upload it to your computer. Make files for certain years or topics such as “1970s beach trips” or “kids’ birthday parties.” Drag and drop the photos into the appropriate file.

A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.

For videos, they have to be played the whole way through on the camera that originally filmed them and the adapter will transport the movies to a computer. If you don’t have the camera, you can play them on a VCR connected to the computer with the adapter.

Warn your clients that digitized videos won’t look so great on a TV, especially if it’s high definition, because the videos were filmed with lower resolution. They look best viewed on a phone or a computer screen.

You may have to limit the number of photos to digitize if the client wants to save on time and your fee. If the photos are organized in albums, ask the client to mark which ones to exclude with sticky-notes. If they are loose in boxes, suggest you select which ones to use.

“Sometimes it’s easier for a third party to make the decisions in narrowing things down,” Hughes said. You can pick what you think is the best of the three or four repetitive photos.

To organize and select from loose photos overflowing shoe boxes or laundry baskets, Hughes hand sorts them into piles based on the clothes people are wearing, the backgrounds and the time of year.

You can offer photo editing if it’s something you can handle. Hughes uses a very simple process in Adobe Photoshop. “You can also do it as you are scanning them,” she said. Adding, that many scanners have color correction options.

Deciding What to Charge

It’s smart to charge by the hour when you start out, and give an estimate of how long the project will take.

Determine ahead of time how many photos you can scan in an hour. If you are sorting and scanning, that may be harder to estimate, but it probably adds another 30 minutes onto each hour of scanning. Say you can scan 40 photos an hour, then it would take you five hours to digitize 200 photos that don’t require sorting.

A high schooler or college student might charge $30 to $50 an hour, or approximately $150 to $250 for 200 photos. Allow an extra hour for computer glitches, labeling files and calling the client with questions.

A woman looks off into the distance toward a window with an old photograph on a television screen behind her.
In addition to her PhotoXO services, Hughes also offers a self-paced online class called Disaster to Done for $297, which includes lifetime access to course materials. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Hughes started out charging by the hour, but found clients were spending so much time “pre-organizing” their photos themselves to save money, it would take them six months or more before they were finally ready for her to start archiving. So she switched to a flat fee of $2,222 for unlimited archiving of slides, photos or videos. To do all three formats, she charges $7,777. She also offers small projects a-la-carte based on the amount of work.

How to Attract Clients

You might have to offer to digitize photos for one or two friends at no cost first to get an idea of how long the process takes and what you will charge.

Then spread the word on social media. Give an estimated price of how many photos you can do for a certain price. Ask your early clients to share something about how wonderful it feels to finally have photos organized and saved forever.

Digitized photos make a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas gift. Promote your business online and in emails during these times and throughout the year.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com