How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge

If you’re looking to advance your career or pivot to a new industry, then you’re probably checking out ways you can beef up your resume. Maybe you’re considering an MBA, a bootcamp, or browsing upcoming conferences. Or perhaps you’re considering the DIY route and looking for podcast and book recommendations. 

While any of these options will help you learn and could boost your resume, the best way to level up your career prospects is to dedicate yourself to becoming a lifelong learner, which is where microlearning comes into play. 

Conferences and classes are bursting with information, but you may feel limited by the course schedule and teaching style. This works for some people, but it can be expensive and hard to fit into a budget or daily schedule. Microlearning can help you take charge of your education by providing bite-sized lessons. Over time, you can build up your learnings for a more thorough and robust understanding of the subject. 

The best part is you can apply your specific lessons to your life, career, and goals to build each of these out over time and see what really works and what doesn’t. Your consistent growth can improve job satisfaction and career opportunities, putting you in the spotlight for the next raise or promotion. Learn more below or jump to our infographic to get started.

What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning has become a popular workplace trend as a learning process that breaks topics into highly specific, concise lessons. This allows the learner to build understanding and confidence at their own pace.

Microlearning is great for tackling new information and closing knowledge gaps. If you already have a foundation of knowledge for a topic, then it can be frustrating to wade through the basics for the few new ideas you were looking for. Khan Academy and TED Talks are a great example of how you may fill in knowledge gaps. 

The Benefits of Microlearning

The most important part of any lesson plan is that it’s tailored to a learner’s needs, and that the learner is actually able to retain information. Microlearning’s flexibility for learners is one of its biggest benefits.

illustration highlighting the benefits of microlearning

Here are some other reasons to consider microlearning:

  • Maximize time by preparing lessons for on-the-go and fitting them in during breaks or commutes.
  • Go in-depth to build a solid learning foundation and improve retention with practice. 
  • Find what works by experimenting with videos, articles, or podcasts to find what format works best for you. 
  • Save money with free resources like TED Talks, YouTube, and expert podcast hosts who provide episodic insights and lessons for you to follow. 
  • Fill knowledge gaps with lessons targeting exactly what you need to know instead of wading through beginner resources. 

The Disadvantages of Microlearning

Microlearning is great for career development, employee training, and specific topics that you could use a refresher on. However, they’re not a total replacement for other learning systems, and you should keep these in mind when you get started:

  • It’s not immediate and microlearning is about regular commitments to learning.
  • It isn’t easier, but it may feel easier. This is actually a benefit unless you assume it will be easy. You still have to actively learn and practice your lessons. 
  • Some topics just don’t work, including complicated topics like global economics. It’s great for learning about things like mortgages, but you likely won’t become an expert on personal finance in just a few lessons. 
  • There’s work upfront to finding and compiling the resources that fit your needs and that you trust. This work pays off in the long-run, though, with easy-to-access lessons. 

5 Ways to Begin Microlearning

You may not realize it, but you’ve probably already prioritized microlearning in your day-to-day life. If you’ve watched a YouTube video to learn how to change your oil or customize a spreadsheet, then you know exactly how beneficial short, specific, and detailed lessons can be. 

89% of employees feel more productive when their work is gamified with rewards

Here are some ways you can get started using microlearning as part of your professional development:

1. Game Groups

Gamifying your learning helps make the topic fun and builds a positive relationship with studying. You can get started by setting goals and rewards, or inviting peers to join you with a competitive leaderboard or a trivia night. 

2. Video Clips

Videos are designed to be relatively short and engaging, and YouTube has made learning largely accessible from anywhere. While YouTube playlists are a great place to learn, make sure you’ve done your research on any channels or personalities you’re watching to ensure your lessons are accurate. 

3. Podcast Playlists

Like videos, podcasts are a great way to consume information on the go and from personalities you enjoy and trust. They’ve become hugely popular because they’re easy to listen to while driving, working, or exercising, but it’s important that you give your playlist your active attention if you hope to learn effectively. 

4. Quiz Collections

Considering a quiz may bring flashbacks of test anxiety and stressful finals weeks, but in this scenario, quizzing isn’t about checking a box that you learned something new. Instead, it’s a means to practice your memory recall and retention so you can count on it when you need it most. 

5. Team Talks

Having a team to study with is not only great for motivation, but it can also improve your lesson retention. Active learning is the process of working or chatting through a subject or problem, and studies show this is the best way to learn and practice your skills. 

Keeping up with your professional development is the best way to impress your employer and expand your job prospects. Whether you want to climb the career ladder or ease your daily workload, How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

10 Risky Investments That Could Make You Lose Everything

If the stock market crashed again, would you respond by investing more? Is day trading your sport of choice? Do you smirk at the idea of keeping money in a savings account instead of investing it?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re probably an investor with a high risk tolerance.

Hold up, Evel Knievel.

It’s fine to embrace a “no-risk, no-reward” philosophy. But some investments are so high-risk that they aren’t worth the rewards.

10 Risky Investments That Could Lead to Huge Losses

We’re not saying no one should ever consider investing in any of the following. But even if you’re a personal finance daredevil, these investments should give you serious pause.

Sure, if things go well, you’d make money — lots of it. But if things go south, the potential losses are huge. In some cases, you could lose your entire investment.

1. Penny Stocks

There’s usually a good reason penny stocks are so cheap. Often they have zero history of earning a profit. Or they’ve run into trouble and have been delisted by a major stock exchange.

Penny stocks usually trade infrequently, meaning you could have trouble selling your shares if you want to get out. And because the issuing company is small, a single piece of good or bad news can make or break it.

Fraud is also rampant in the penny stock world. One common tactic is the “pump and dump.” Scammers create false hype, often using investing websites and newsletters, to pump up the price. Then they dump their shares on unknowing investors.

2. IPOs

You and I probably aren’t rich or connected enough to invest in an IPO, or initial public offering, at its actual offering price. That’s usually reserved for company insiders and investors with deep pockets.

Instead, we’re more likely to be swayed by the hype that a popular company gets when it goes public and the shares start trading on the stock market. Then, we’re at risk of paying overinflated prices because we think we’re buying the next Amazon.

But don’t assume that a company is profitable just because its CEO is ringing the opening bell on Wall Street. Many companies that go public have yet to make money.

The average first-day returns of a newly public company have consistently been between 10% to 20% since the 1990s, according to a 2019 report by investment firm UBS. But after five years, about 60% of IPOs had negative total returns.

3. Bitcoin

Proponents of bitcoin believe the cryptocurrency will eventually become a widespread way to pay for things. But its usage now as an actual way to pay for things remains extremely limited.

For now, bitcoin remains a speculative investment. People invest in it primarily because they think other investors will continue to drive up the price, not because they see value in it.

All that speculation creates wild price fluctuations. In December 2017, bitcoin peaked at nearly $20,000 per coin, then plummeted in 2018 to well below $4,000. That volatility makes bitcoin useless as a currency, as Bankrate’s James Royal writes.

Unless you can afford to part ways with a huge percentage of your investment, bitcoin is best avoided.

4. Anything You Buy on Margin

Margining gives you more money to invest, which sounds like a win. You borrow money from your broker using the stocks you own as collateral. Of course, you have to pay your broker back, plus interest.

If it goes well, you amplify your returns. But when margining goes badly, it can end really, really badly.

Suppose you buy $5,000 of stock and it drops 50%. Normally, you’d lose $2,500.

But if you’d put down $2,500 of your own money to buy the stock and used margin for the other 50%? You’d be left with $0 because you’d have to use the remaining $2,500 to pay back your broker.

That 50% drop has wiped out 100% of your investment — and that’s before we account for interest.

5. Leveraged ETFs

Buying a leveraged ETF is like margaining on steroids.

Like regular exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, leveraged ETFs give you a bundle of investments designed to mirror a stock index. But leveraged ETFs seek to earn two or three times the benchmark index by using a bunch of complicated financing maneuvers that give you greater exposure.

Essentially, a leveraged ETF that aims for twice the benchmark index’s returns (known as a 2x leveraged ETF) is letting you invest $2 for every $1 you’ve actually invested.

We won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty, but the risk here is similar to buying stocks on margin: It can lead to big profits but it can also magnify your losses.

But here’s what’s especially tricky about leveraged ETFs: They’re required to rebalance every day to reflect the makeup of the underlying index. That means you can’t sit back and enjoy the long-haul growth. Every day, you’re essentially investing in a different product.

For this reason, leveraged ETFs are only appropriate for day traders — specifically, day traders with very deep pockets who can stomach huge losses.

6. Collectibles

A lot of people collect cars, stamps, art, even Pokemon cards as a hobby. But some collectors hope their hobby will turn into a profitable investment.

It’s OK to spend a reasonable amount of money curating that collection if you enjoy it. But if your plans are contingent on selling the collection for a profit someday, you’re taking a big risk.

Collectibles are illiquid assets. That’s a jargony way of saying they’re often hard to sell.

If you need to cash out, you may not be able to find a buyer. Or you may need to sell at a steep discount. It’s also hard to figure out the actual value of collectibles. After all, there’s no New York Stock Exchange for Pokemon cards. And if you do sell, you’ll pay 28% tax on the gains. Stocks held long-term, on the other hand, are taxed at 15% for most middle-income earners.

Plus, there’s also the risk of losing your entire investment if your collection is physically destroyed.

7. Junk Bonds

If you have a low credit score, you’ll pay a high interest rate when you borrow money because banks think there’s a good chance you won’t pay them back. With corporations, it works the same way.

Companies issue bonds when they need to take on debt. The higher their risk of defaulting, the more interest they pay to those who invest in bonds. Junk bonds are the riskiest of bonds.

If you own bonds in a company that ends up declaring bankruptcy, you could lose your entire investment. Secured creditors — the ones whose claim is backed by actual property, like a bank that holds a mortgage — get paid back 100% in bankruptcy court before bondholders get anything.

8. Shares of a Bankrupt Company

Bondholders may be left empty-handed when a corporation declares bankruptcy. But guess who’s dead last in terms of priority for who gets paid? Common shareholders.

Secured creditors, bondholders and owners of preferred stock (it’s kind of like a stock/bond hybrid) all get paid in full before shareholders get a dime.

Typically when a company files for bankruptcy, its stock prices crash. Yet recently, eager investors have flocked in to buy those ultracheap shares and temporarily driven up the prices. (Ahem, ahem: Hertz.)

That post-bankruptcy filing surge is usually a temporary case of FOMO. Remember: The likelihood that those shares will eventually be worth $0 is high.

You may be planning on turning a quick profit during the run-up, but the spike in share prices is usually short-lived. If you don’t get the timing exactly right here, you could lose big when the uptick reverses.

9. Gold and Silver

If you’re worried about the stock market or high inflation, you may be tempted to invest in gold or silver.

Both precious metals are often thought of as hedges against a bear market because they’ve held their value throughout history. Plus in uncertain times, many investors seek out tangible assets, i.e., stuff you can touch.

Having a small amount invested in gold and silver can help you diversify your portfolio. But anything above 5% to 10% is risky.

Both gold and silver are highly volatile. Gold is much rarer, so discovery of a new source can bring down its price. Silver is even more volatile than gold because the value of its supply is much smaller. That means small price changes have a bigger impact. Both metals tend to underperform the S&P 500 in the long term.

The riskiest way to invest in gold and silver is by buying the physical metals because they’re difficult to store and sell. A less risky way to invest is by purchasing a gold or silver ETF that contains a variety of assets, such as mining company stocks and physical metals.

10. Options Trading

Options give you the right to buy or sell a stock at a certain price before a certain date. The right to buy is a call. You buy a call when you think a stock price will rise. The right to sell is a put. You buy a put when you think a stock price will drop.

What makes options trading unique is that there’s one clear winner and one clear loser. With most investments, you can sell for a profit to an investor who also goes on to sell at a profit. Hypothetically, this can continue forever.

But suppose you buy a call or a put. If your bet was correct, you exercise the option. You get to buy a winning stock at a bargain price, or you get to offload a tanking stock at a premium price. If you lose, you’re out the entire amount you paid for the option.

Options trading gets even riskier, though, when you’re the one selling the call or put. When you win, you pocket the entire amount you were paid.

But if you end up on the losing side: You could have to pay that high price for the stock that just crashed or sell a soaring stock at a deep discount.

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What Are the Signs That an Investment Is Too Risky?

The 10 things we just described certainly aren’t the only risky investments out there. So let’s review some common themes. Consider any of these traits a red flag when you’re making an investment decision.

  • They’re confusing. Are you perplexed by bitcoin and options trading? So is pretty much everyone else.If you don’t understand how something works, it’s a sign you shouldn’t invest in it.
  • They’re volatile. Dramatic price swings may be exciting compared with the tried-and-true approach of investing across the stock market. But investing is downright dangerous when everything hinges on getting the timing just right.
  • The price is way too low. Just because an investment is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good value.
  • The price is way too high. Before you invest in the latest hype, ask yourself if the investment actually delivers value. Or are the high prices based on speculation?

The bottom line: If you can afford to put a small amount of money in high-risk investments just for the thrill of it, fine — as long as you can deal with losing it all.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

A complete guide to airline companion passes

Flying can be a hefty expense – especially when you’re buying more than one airline ticket at a time. If you frequently fly with a companion, whether it be your child, spouse or friend, a companion pass can drastically reduce your travel costs.

While the terms vary depending on the airline and credit card, generally, companion passes allow a second passenger to fly with you for free or at a significantly discounted rate. Some credit cards automatically offer a companion pass when you are approved for the card or each year on your account anniversary. Others require you to charge a certain amount within a given time frame to earn the pass.

For more details on some of the most common companion passes, including what they offer and how to earn them, read on.

Which airlines offer companion passes?

  • Southwest Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Air
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Lufthansa Airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®
  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card within a 12-month period, starting on Jan. 1 and ending on Dec. 31. For example, if you opened your card account in June 2020, you have until Dec. 31, 2020 to reach the spend requirement for that year.

    How long is the Travel Together Ticket valid?

    The Travel Together ticket is valid for 24 months from the date of issue.

    Which cards help you qualify?
    British Airways Visa Signature® Card

    Delta SkyMiles Reserve® American Express Card

    Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® (50 percent and $100 discounts)
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard® (50 percent and $100 discount)
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® (50 percent discount)
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business cardholder. As part of the introductory offer, you much spend $2,000 in the first 90 days to receive a companion fare. You will automatically receive the companion fare each year on your account anniversary.

    Travel must be booked on alaskaair.com.

    How long is the fare valid?

    The Famous Companion Fare is valid from the date of issue until your next account anniversary.

    Which cards help you qualify?
    • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
    • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business

    How to get the Southwest Companion Pass, Earn sign-up bonus miles with the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

    The Bank of America content of this post was last updated on March 20, 2020.

    Source: creditcards.com

    Experian Credit Score vs. FICO Score

    A young women reclines on a couch and smiles at the phone in her hand.

    When you think “credit score,” you probably think “FICO.” The Fair Isaac Corporation introduced its FICO scoring system in 1989, and it has since become one of the best-known and most-used credit scoring models in the United States. But it isn’t the only model on the market.

    Another popular option is called VantageScore, the product of a collaboration between the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It uses similar scoring methods to FICO but yields slightly different results.

    Each scoring model has multiple versions and multiple applications—you don’t have just one FICO score or one VantageScore. Depending on which bureau creates the score and what type of agency is asking for the score, your credit score will vary, sometimes siginifcantly. One credit score isn’t more “accurate” than another, they just have different applications. Learn more about the different types of credit scores below.

    When you sign up for ExtraCredit, you can see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus. Your free Credit Report Card, on the other hand, will show you your Experian VantageScore 3.0.

    Sign Up Now

    What Is a VantageScore?

    VantageScore was created by the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It uses similar scoring methods to FICO but yields slightly different results.

    One of the primary goals of VantageScore is to provide a model that is used the same way by all three credit bureaus. That would limit some of the disparity between your three major credit scores. In contrast, FICO models provide a slightly different calculation for each credit bureau, which can create more differences in your scores.

    FICO vs. VantageScore

    So, what are the differences between an Experian credit score calculated using VantageScore and one calculated via the FICO model? More importantly, does the score used matter to you, the consumer? The answer is usually no. But you might want to look at different scores for different needs or goals.

    Is Experian Accurate?

    Credit scores from the credit bureaus are only as accurate as the information provided to the bureau. Check your credit report to ensure all the information is correct. If it is, your Experian credit scores are accurate. If your credit report is not accurate, you’ll want to look into your credit repair options.

    Our free Credit Report Card offers the Experian VantageScore 3.0 so you can check it regularly. If you want to dig in deeper, you can sign up for ExtraCredit. For $24.99 per month, you can see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus. ExtraCredit also offers rent and utility reporting, identity monitoring and theft insurance, and more.

    Sign up Now

    Understanding the Scoring Models

    FICO and VantageScore aren’t the only scoring models on the market. Lenders use a multitude of scoring methods to determine your creditworthiness and make decisions about whether or not to give you credit. Despite the numerous options, FICO scores and VantageScores are likely the only scores you’ll ever see yourself.

    Here’s what FICO uses to determine your credit score:

    • Payment history. Whether or not you pay your bills in a timely manner is critical, as this factor makes up around 35% of your score.
    • Credit usage. How much of your open credit you have used—which is called credit utilization—accounts for 30% of your score. Keeping your utilization below 30% can help you keep your credits core healthy.
    • Length of credit. The average age of your credit—and how long you’ve had your oldest account—is a factor. Credit age accounts for around 15% of your score.
    • Types of credit. Your credit mix, which refers to having multiple types of accounts, makes up around 10% of your score.
    • Recent inquiries. How many entities have hit your credit history with a hard inquiry for the purpose of evaluating you for credit is a factor for your score. It accounts for about 10% of your credit score.

    VantageScore uses the same factors, but weighs them a little differently. Your VantageScore 4.0 will be most influenced by your credit usage, followed by your credit mix. Payment history is only “moderately influential,” while credit age and recent inquiries are less influential.

    Each company also gathers its data differently. FICO bases its scoring model on credit data from millions of consumers analyzed at the same time. It gathers credit reports from the three major credit bureaus and analyzes anonymous consumer data to generate a scoring model specific to each bureau. VantageScore, on the other hand, uses a combined set of consumer credit files, also obtained from the three major credit bureaus, to come up with a single formula.

    Both FICO and VantageScore issue scores ranging from 300 to 850. In the past, VantageScore used a score range of 501 to 990, but the score range was adjusted with VantageScore 3.0. Having numerical ranges that are somewhat consistent helps make the credit score process less confusing for consumers and lenders.

    Your score may also differ across the credit bureaus because your creditors aren’t required to report to all three. They may report to only one or two of them, meaning each bureau likely has slightly different information about you.

    Variations in Scoring Requirements

    If you don’t have a long credit history, VantageScore is the score you want to monitor. To establish your credit score, FICO requires at least six months of credit history and at least one account reported to a credit bureau within the last six months. VantageScore only requires one month of history and one account reported within the past two years.

    Because VantageScore uses a shorter credit history and a longer period for reported accounts, it’s able to issue credit ratings to millions of consumers who wouldn’t yet have a FICO Score. So, if you’re new to credit or haven’t been using it recently, VantageScore can help prove your trustworthiness before FICO has enough data to issue you a score.

    The Significance of Late Payments

    A history of late payments impacts both your FICO score and your VantageScore. Both models consider the following.

    • How recently the last late payment occurred
    • How many of your accounts have had late payments
    • How many payments you’ve missed on an account

    FICO treats all late payments the same. VantageScore judges them differently. VantageScore applies a larger penalty for late mortgage payments than for other types of credit payments.

    Because FICO has indicated that it factors late payments more heavily than VantageScore, late payments on any of your accounts might cause you to have lower FICO scores than your VantageScores.

    Impact of Credit Inquiries

    VantageScore and FICO both penalize consumers who have multiple hard inquiries in a short period of time. They both also conduct a process called deduplication.

    Deduplication is the practice of allowing multiple pulls on your credit for the same loan type in a given time frame without penalizing your credit. Deduplication is important for situations such as seeking auto loans, where you may submit applications to multiple lenders as you seek the best deal. FICO and VantageScore don’t count each of these inquiries separately—they deduplicate them or consider them as one inquiry.

    FICO uses a 45-day deduplication time period. That means credit inquiries of a certain type—such as auto loans or mortgages—that hit within that period are counted as one hard inquiry for the purpose of impact to your credit.

    In contrast, VantageScore only has a 14-day range for deduplication. However, it deduplicates multiple hard inquiries for all types of credit, including credit cards. FICO only deduplicates inquiries related to mortgages, auto loans, and student loans.

    Influence of Low-Balance Collections

    VantageScore and FICO both penalize credit scores for accounts sent to collection agencies. However, FICO sometimes offers more leniency for collection accounts with low balances or limits.

    FICO 8.0 also ignores all collections where the original balance was less than $100 and FICO 9.0 weighs medical collections less. It also doesn’t count collection accounts that have been paid off. VantageScore 4.0, on the other hand, ignores collection accounts that are paid off, regardless of the original balance.

    What Are FAKO Scores?

    FAKO is a derogatory term for scores that aren’t FICO Scores or VantageScores. Companies that provide FAKO scores don’t call them this. Instead, they refer to their scores as “educational scores” or just “credit scores.” FAKO scores can vary significantly from FICO scores and VantageScores.

    These scores aren’t completely valueless, though. They can help you understand where your credit score stands or whether it’s going up or down. You probably don’t want to shell out money for such scores, though, and you do want to ensure the credit score provider is drawing on accurate information from the credit bureaus.

    The post Experian Credit Score vs. FICO Score appeared first on Credit.com.

    Source: credit.com

    Donald Trump House Hunts in a Surprising Place—Which Home Will He Pick?

    donald trumpTasos Katopodis / Stringer / Getty Images

    Is the 45th president house hunting in Florida?

    Once his term in the White House ends in January, Donald Trump and wife Melania may be looking to secure a new home base in Palm Beach, FL, according to Page Six.

    Apparently the Trumps have been shopping for a megamansion in the area, and poking around at private schools for their teen son, Barron.

    Wait a minute! They already have a crash pad in Palm Beach: the private quarters within Mar-a-Lago, a club Trump purchased in 1985. Why don’t they just move in there? Well, per an agreement Trump made with the the town of Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, as a social club, does not allow anyone to live there permanently—even its owners.

    So while the couple may stay at Mar-a-Lago for a bit, they’ll need to search for permanent digs elsewhere, and they’ll have plenty of family in the area.

    Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have already ventured south to purchase a 2-acre plot on Indian Creek Island, which is known as Billionaires Bunker. Plus, Palm Beach and its environs are popular with many bold-faced names, including star QB Tom Brady and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and the billionaire Carl Icahn.

    But which home in Palm Beach will the Trumps pick? Here are five homes for sale we’ll bet they’ll consider since they tick all the P boxes: posh, palatial, and presidential.

    1341 S. Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach

    Price: $110,000,000

    1341 S. Ocean Blvd.

    realtor.com

    The swankiest spot available right now is also the most expensive, at nine figures. But it’s worth every penny to look out over the ocean and then pad down to your own pristine white-sand beach every morning with your coffee.

    At more than 28,000 square feet, this massive two-story Mediterranean estate features seven bedrooms, nine full baths, and six half-baths, as well as miles of marble in multiple rooms. There’s also a guest cottage, stunning pool, exercise room, elevator, plus a security system and gatehouse for the Secret Service to set up shop.

    ___

    Watch: This Is Where Donald Trump Grew Up–and You Can Stay There, Too

    ___

    1330 S. Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach

    Price: $56,500,000

    1330 S. Ocean Blvd.

    realtor.com

    If the Trumps are willing to trade the ocean for lesser waters, they can head right across the street to this listing. For half the price, the famous couple can make do with six bedrooms and seven baths spread over nearly 16,000 square feet of living space.

    At just 4 years old, this contemporary abode sits on about 2 acres and comes completely furnished. There’s also a private dock, deeded beach access, and gorgeous lanai overlooking the pool.

    520 Island Drive, Palm Beach

    Price: $52,900,000

    520 Island Drive

    realtor.com

    This mansion is a bit smaller than the others, but it sports two docks on either side of the house and direct access to the Intracoastal Waterway. The president and his family will enjoy six bedrooms and nine baths, take in the views from the balcony, and paddle around in the heated saltwater pool.

    But the best part just might be the bonus loot that comes with the asking price. The right bidder for this property, which is called Lago-a-Lago (Lake to Lake), will also be the owner of $2,000,000 worth of furniture and art.

    101 Seminole Avenue, Palm Beach

    Price: $37,500,000

    101 Seminole Ave.

    realtor.com

    Perhaps a classic Palm Beach home is more to the Trumps’ taste? This Mediterranean-style manse with a barrel tile roof oozes old-world charm, though it was built in 2007.

    Mature palms surround the lovely pool and spa, while soaring ceilings highlight huge windows opening to lush lawns. The property sits on just over a half-acre and features six bedrooms, seven baths, a wine room, and deeded ocean access.

    120 Jungle Road, Palm Beach

    Price: $35,000,000

    120 Jungle Road

    realtor.com

    Lastly, a home with real history. Built nearly 100 years ago, this gated estate with seven bedrooms and seven baths has been completely restored with every modern amenity, including a sound system, wine storage, and chef’s kitchen. Other luxe details include a huge home gym, billiard room, sun-drenched public rooms, and a palatial master suite.

    The post Donald Trump House Hunts in a Surprising Place—Which Home Will He Pick? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

    Source: realtor.com

    3 Reasons to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund to Maximize Your Charitable Tax Deductions

    Using donor-advised funds is a more advanced tax strategy that has gotten more popular recently with the introduction of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in February 2020. The TCJA nearly doubled the amount of the standard deduction, which makes it less advantageous to itemize deductions such as charitable contributions. For people with a lot of charitable contributions, donor-advised funds are one option to still get a deduction for charitable contributions.

    What is a donor-advised fund?

    A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization that accepts contributions and generally funds other charitable organizations. While the concept of a donor-advised fund has been around for nearly 100 years, they were typically only used by the ultra-wealthy. And while it is true that donor-advised funds are still not going to be useful for the vast majority of people, recent tax law changes have made their use more prevalent.

    You can set up a donor-advised fund with most brokerages, including Fidelity, Vanguard, and Bank of America. You can donate cash, securities, or other types of assets to the DAF. The exact list of assets eligible for donation depends on the brokerage. After you have contributed, you can then make charitable contributions from the balance of your account.

    You can maximize your charitable tax deductions in one year

    One common reason that people set up donor-advised funds is to maximize their charitable tax deductions in a particular tax year. To show why this can be beneficial, I’ll use an example:

    Our example family files their taxes married filing jointly and has regular charitable contributions of $20,000 per year. The standard deduction in 2020 for married filing jointly is $24,800. Because their amount of charitable deductions is less than the standard deduction, they may not see any tax benefit from their charitable contributions (depending on their amount of other itemized deductions). In 2021 they again plan to contribute $20,000 to charitable organizations and again are unlikely to see any tax benefit from doing so.

    Now consider this same family now decides to set up a donor-advised fund in 2020. They have extra money sitting around in low-interest savings or checking account or in a taxable investment account. So they set up a donor-advised fund in 2020 and fund it with $40,000 in cash, stocks, or other assets. They are eligible to take the full $40,000 as an itemized deduction, even if they only use $20,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. Then in 2021, they can donate the remaining $20,000 to their preferred charity. They will not be able to deduct any charitable contributions in 2021 but can instead take the raised standard deduction amount.

    You may be able to deduct the full value of stocks or other investments

    Another reason you might want to set up a donor-advised fund is that you may be able to deduct the full value of stocks or other investments. Again, I’ll use an example to help illustrate the point.

    Let’s say that you have shares that you purchased for $20,000 that are now worth $50,000. Many charities, especially smaller organizations, are not set up to accept donations of stocks or other investments. So if you want to donate that $50,000 to charity, you may have to liquidate your shares. This will mean that you will have to pay tax on the proceeds.

    With a donor-advised fund, you can donate the shares to your fund and deduct the full fair market value of your shares. Then the fund can make the contribution to the charity of your choice.

    Donate a wide range of assets

    Another benefit to setting up a donor-advised fund is the ability to donate a wide range of different classes of assets. As we mentioned earlier, many charities are not set up in such a way to be able to accept non-cash donations. While the exact list of assets that a donor-advised fund can accept varies by the firm running the fund, it generally will include more types of assets than a typical charity.

    Why you might not want to set up a donor-advised fund

    While there are plenty of advantages to setting up a donor-advised fund, there are a few things that you might want to watch out for.

    • It’s definitely more complicated than just making charitable contributions on your own. You may find that the tax savings are not worth the extra hassle.
    • On top of the added layer of complexity, most firms with DAFs charge administrative fees that can cut into your rate of return.
    • You may be limited on the charities that you can donate to. Each donor-advised fund typically will have a list of eligible charities. So you may find that a charity that you want to donate to is not available.
    • You also lose control over the funds that you donate – the donation to the fund is irrevocable, meaning once you’ve donated to the fund you cannot get the donation back. While most advisors state that they will donate the money as you direct, they are not legally required to do so.
    • The money in a DAF is invested, so it may lose value. That means that the amount you were hoping to donate may be less than you were anticipating. You also typically have a limited range of investments available for your investment, and those funds also often come with fees.

    It’s also important to keep in mind, the annual income tax deduction limits for gifts to donor-advised funds, are 60% of Adjusted Gross Income for contributions of cash, 30% of AGI for contributions of property that would qualify for capital gains tax treatment; 50% of AGI for blended contributions of cash and non-cash assets.

    The post 3 Reasons to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund to Maximize Your Charitable Tax Deductions appeared first on MintLife Blog.

    Source: mint.intuit.com

    These Free TV Apps Will Let You Cut Cable but Keep Content

    Try these free TV apps out and see which works best for you.
    Owned by Amazon, IMDb TV (formerly Freedive) features a host of full episodes of your favorite current and classic TV shows as well as an array of movies.
    While there are ways to download YouTube content for offline viewing, proceed with caution: Many of these sites and apps are full of malware.
    The kids (or kids at heart) can check out Nickelodeon classics like “The Fairly Odd Parents” and “Dora the Explorer.”
    Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to watch a couple minutes of ads every 10 minutes or so. The experience is pretty similar to watching normal television.

    12 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable

    NBCUniversal launched this streaming service, which includes over 7,500 hours of free content, in July 2020.
    Chris Brantner is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Senior writer Nicole Dow contributed to this article.

    1. Crackle

    And you aren’t confined to squinting at your phone’s screen or gathering the family around the old iPad to watch your favorite TV series and movies — you can download apps to your Smart TV or even your Xbox or PlayStation consoles.
    If you’re a fan of shows like “The Office,” “Law and Order: SVU,” or “Saturday Night Live,” you can watch them on this streaming service.

    2. Tubi TV

    The library is solid and has started offering popular Fox TV series like “The Masked Singer” and “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.”
    Whether you want it now or later, Xumo offers live TV and on-demand options.
    The catalogue includes some binge-worthy sci-fi hits like “Lost” and “Fringe.”
    You’re there anyway — why not get paid to play video games? Here are four simple ways to start earning real cash for virtual play.

    3. Pluto TV

    Almost all of the networks and cable TV channels have their own free apps for you to download — although many charge you to actually watch current content.

    Users can then select which news segments they want to watch from categories like sports, weather or entertainment. NewsON is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
    Luckily, there are more options than ever for replacing your traditional cable setup. Many free streaming services have stepped up to offer access to content overlooked by subscription-based services.
    The Crunchyroll app is supported by Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices, as well as by gaming consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku.

    Pro Tip
    You can even tap the “Live TV” button to watch what’s currently airing on your local PBS station.

    Customers can stream Peacock on a variety of platforms, including LG Smart TVs, Vizio SmartCast TVs, Roku, Google and Apple devices and Playstation and Xbox consoles.
    Both live TV and on-demand news broadcasts can be streamed from over 275 local news affiliates in 160 markets. The broadcasts are available for up to 48 hours after they air, so even if you don’t catch the news as it happens, you can catch up later.
    Xumo is available on most smart TVs and Roku and for download on iOS and Android devices.

    4. NewsON

    Crunchyroll is a great app for anyone with an interest in anime. Of course, when it comes to anime content, you have to be watchful with your younger children, as a lot of it is geared toward teens (and sometimes even adults).
    Twitch hosts user-created channels and streams focused on video games and other esports. It features a built-in chat feature, so users can chat with other streamers in real time.
    Got a library card? You have access to even more entertainment options (besides the obvious, books). Check out these library apps for free access to movies, TV shows and more.

    FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

    5. Funny Or Die

    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    Pro Tip
    Content on the app must be streamed and cannot be downloaded.

    Tubi TV’s library is updated regularly, and the service claims to add new content every week. The Tubi TV app works on more than 25 devices, including Android and iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV.

    6. PBS Kids

    Yes, YouTube. YouTube apps are compatible with just about every device that has a screen, and the service features videos to choose from on nearly any topic imaginable.
    Streaming video isn’t always just about entertainment. The NewsON app provides hundreds of local and national news streams.

    Pro Tip
    There is a paid premium feature, but the free Crunchyroll service has thousands of hours of popular series like the “Dragon Ball” franchise, “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto” and “One Piece.”

    For a free streaming service, Crackle’s library is truly impressive. Crackle even has a handful of original series to its name. Best of all, Crackle works on nearly all mobile devices, streaming boxes and smart TVs.

    7. Xumo

    In 2018, the Funny Or Die began publishing on Vox Media’s Chorus and now uses the YouTube Player.
    While there are thousands of free streams, Twitch also features premium features for a monthly subscription. Twitch apps are compatible with PCs, iOS and Android devices, game consoles, Chromecast and Fire TV.
    Or if you just want to veg out, switch over to their Binge menu for a seemingly endless stream of TV series, like “The Hills” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
    But it also includes more than 160 free channels, including themed ones in case you’re in the mood for action movies or comedies — you can watch the Funny Or Die channel here, too.

    Pro Tip
    Sure, there are the usual big names in streaming services available for a monthly fee, but it’s possible to kick subscription fees entirely.

    8. Crunchyroll

    Like Pluto, you can choose from an assortment of major network news channels that are live streaming.
    This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
    A division of FOX Entertainment, Tubi TV has deals with major studios like Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Lionsgate. It also features lots of foreign and independent productions.
    Most of those videos are not exactly premium content, but there are still plenty of full-length films, documentary series and curated channels that provide cost-free entertainment for the whole family.

    9. Twitch

    One of the go-to names not just in free streaming but in streaming video in general is Crackle. The cost-free service has a variety of content, ranging from classic TV shows like “Bewitched” and “Barney Miller,” as well as the newer “Snatch” series. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.
    Many of the free TV apps offer “premium” channels — if you see that word, expect to pay for those services.

    Pro Tip
    While Twitch is popular with children, parents should beware: Twitch streams are somewhat unregulated and can sometimes contain adult language or content.

    The free version of IMDbTV is ad-supported, so you’ll have to sit through a few commercial breaks.
    Videos from many of PBS’s most popular series are available for streaming including “Curious George,” “Wild Kratts” and “Sesame Street.” The PBS Kids app is supported for Android, Windows and iOS phones and tablets.

    10. IMDb TV

    Pluto TV offers TV channels of linear content much like a cable package
    Like Tubi TV, Pluto TV has advertisements similar to the ad load of normal TV.
    As cable subscription prices rise higher and higher and customer satisfaction ratings dive lower and lower, cutting the cable has never been more popular.
    With so many free streaming options out there, it’s easier than ever to cut the cord and save big. Whether you’re looking to keep up with the news, find a good movie for date night or entertain your kids with educational content, a streaming service exists to ensure you can do so without paying a dime.

    11. YouTube

    For anyone with even a passing interest in gaming and esports, Twitch is the go-to free streaming service.
    The go-to streaming app for comedy programming is Funny or Die. Founded in 2007 by contemporary comedy giants Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, it has since grown to be a full-blown production house featuring original content from big names in show business.
    Although Peacock offers paid premium options, the free version includes current and classic TV shows, movies, news, sports, kids’ shows, Spanish-language programs and even select episodes of Peacock originals.

    12. Peacock

    Kids need free streaming content, too. PBS has a PBS Kids Video app that provides hundreds of hours of educational and enriching content for the youngest members of the family. The app has a colorful, child-friendly interface, which makes it easy for kids to take control themselves.
    Pluto TV boasts a large list of supported devices including iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TVand Chromecast devices and Android TV.
    It is available in the United States on the IMDb app, the IMDb website, the Amazon Prime Video app and Amazon Fire TV devices.
    Of course, there are some rather shady options out there that stream pirated content. But we’ve rounded up free, legal streaming apps that provide no-strings-attached cable-cutting solutions.

    Get camera-ready: From masterclasses to gear, The Penny Hoarder Shop has all things photography.

    There are dozens of classic TV, movie and sports channels — and even some highly curated streams of niche content.
    If you’re looking for breaking news, you can choose from an assortment of major network news channels that are live streaming.
    Anime and manga fans are likely already familiar with Crunchyroll. It specializes in mostly Japanese content, but it also features films and series from all over the world. Crunchyroll boasts a library of thousands of anime films and series, many of which are hard to find on other streaming services.

    Medicare for All: Definition and Pros and Cons

    Here are the pros and cons of Medicare for All.

    Medicare for All is a proposed new healthcare system for the United States where instead of people getting health insurance from an insurance company, often provided through their workplace, everyone in America would be on a program provided through the federal government. It has become a favorite of progressives, and was heavily championed by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) during his runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020. If you are looking for help with medical planning under our current system, consider working with a financial advisor.

    Medicare For All: How It Works

    Sanders’ bill would replace all other insurance, with limited exceptions, such as cosmetic surgery. Private insurance, employer-provided insurance, Medicaid, and our current version of Medicare, would all be replaced by Medicare for All. The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, would also be replaced by Medicare for All.

    Medicare for All is actually more generous than your current Medicare program. Right now, Medicare is for Americans 65 and older. They receive care, but they’re also responsible for some of the cost. However, Sanders’ plan would cover medical bills completed, with no financial burden on the patient.

    Sanders’ Medicare for All would be a single, national health insurance program that would cover everyone living in the United States. It would pay for every medically necessary service, including dental and vision care, mental health care and prescription drugs. There would be no copays or deductibles, with the exception of prescription drugs, though the cost would be limited to $200 a year. There may also be additional out-of-pocket costs for long-term care.

    The government would set payment rates for drugs, services, and medical equipment. Each year, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would come up with a national budget for all covered services and spending would be capped by that national budget. Just 1% of the total health spending budget would be used to provide job dislocation assistance for people working in the insurance industry.

    Sanders’ bill includes a four-year phase-in during which increasingly younger people could buy into Medicare. It would work like this: 55-year-olds would be able to buy into Medicare in the first year, 45-year-olds in the second year and 35-year-olds in the third year. Out-of-pocket costs would be reduced for everyone buying into Medicare. There would also be a public option insurance plan offered to people of all ages through the Obamacare marketplaces.

    Medicare for All is effectively single-payer healthcare. Single-payer health care is where the government pays for people’s health care. The new name just makes the concept more popular. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48% of people approved of single-payer healthcare, while 62% of people approved of Medicare for All.

    Medicare for All Cost?

    Here are the pros and cons of Medicare for All.

    If everything stays the same as it is right now, the combined healthcare spending by private and public sectors is projected to reach $45 trillion by 2026.

    The libertarian-oriented Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimated that the cost of Medicare for All would be more than $32 trillion over a 10-year period.

    Kenneth Thorpe, a health finance expert at Emory University looked at a version of Sanders’ Medicare for All during the 2016 campaign and estimated that the cost would be about $25 trillion over 10 years.

    In order to pay for the program, Sanders has suggested redirecting current government spending of about $2 trillion per year into Medicare for All. To do that, he would raise taxes on incomes over $250,000, reaching a 52 percent marginal rate on incomes over $10 million. He also suggested a wealth tax on the top 0.1 % of households.

    Medicare for All Pros and Cons

    Pros and cons for this program partially depend on your income bracket. If you make less than $250,000, Sanders’ additional tax will not affect you. If you make more than $250,000 a year, or are in the top 0.1 % of household, Sanders’ tax to pay for Medicare for All would be a con for you.

    In addition, universal health care requires healthy people to pay for medical care for the sick. However, that is how all health insurance programs work. Everyone buys in and pays the costs of health insurance, but the insurance company only pays when someone needs medical care or coverage. In every insurance plan, healthier people absorb the costs incurred by sicker people.

    Pros

    • Universal healthcare lowers health care costs for the economy overall, since the government controls the price of medication and medical services through regulation and negotiation.
    • It would also eliminate the administrative cost of working with multiple private health insurers. Doctors would only have to deal with one government agency, rather than multiple private insurance companies along with Medicare and Medicaid.
    • Companies would not have to hire staff to deal with many different health insurance companies’ rules. Instead, billing procedures and coverage rules would be standardized.
    • Hospitals and doctors would be forced to provide the same standard of service at a low cost, instead of targeting wealthy clients and offering expensive services so they can get a higher profit.
    • Universal healthcare leads to a healthier population. Studies show that preventive care lowers expensive emergency room usage. Before Obamacare, 46% of emergency room patients were there because they had nowhere else to go. The emergency room became their primary care physician. This type of health care inequality is a major factor in the rising cost of medical care.

     

    Cons

    • Some analysts are concerned that the government may not be able to use its bargaining power to drive down costs as steeply and as quickly as Sanders predicts. Thorpe argues that Sanders is overly optimistic on this aspect of the bill.
    • Other analysts are concerned that insulating people from costs of care will drive up usage of medical care. Drew Altman, who heads the Kaiser Family Foundation, pointed out that “no other developed nation has zero out of pocket costs.”
    • People may not be as careful with their health if they do not have a financial incentive to do so.
    • Governments have to limit health care spending to keep costs down. Doctors might have less incentive to provide quality care if they aren’t well paid. They may spend less time per patient in order to keep costs down. They also have less funding for new life-saving technologies.
    • Since the government focuses on providing basic and emergency health care, most universal healthcare systems report long wait times for elective procedures. The government may also limit services with a low probability of success, and may not cover drugs for rare conditions. 

    Other Medicare and Medicaid Expansion Bills

    Lawmakers have introduced other Medicare expansion options, which would be much more limited than Medicare for All.

    Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) introduced the Medicare at 50 Act in February of 2019. Under the Medicare at 50 Act, people between 50 and 64 could buy into Medicare. Other than expanding the age, the main difference to our current Medicare program would be that coverage would automatically include Medicare Part A (hospital), Part B (physician), and Part D (prescription drug) coverage. In addition, you could choose Medicare offered through private insurers, known as Medicare Advantage. If you qualified for a premium subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, you would still be able to apply that to extended Medicare. This bill would effectively create a new insurance option for those 50 and older.

    Senator Michael Bennett (D-Colorado) and Rep. Brian Higgins (D-New York) introduced a bill called Medicare-X Choice. This bill would offer Medicare to people of any age through the Obamacare marketplaces. This bill would not be initially enacted nationwide. Instead, the bill would focus on adding the Medicare option in places with few hospitals and doctors, or areas that only had one insurer offering coverage.

    Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) proposed a bill called the State Public Option Act that would let people buy into Medicaid, rather than Medicare. The details of covered services could vary from state to state, since this would be offered through Medicaid rather than Medicare. However, no plan would be able to offer less than essential health benefits covered under the Affordable Care Act.

    Where the Presidential Candidates Stand

    Here are the pros and cons of Medicare for All.

    Sanders, of course, did not win the Democratic Primary. Joe Biden, widely considered significantly more moderate, won. Biden has an extensive healthcare proposal which expands many parts of the Affordable Care Act, but does not include a single payer Medicare For All program. Instead, it is based around a public option — a government plan only for those who want it, while private insurance companies remain the main driver of healthcare in the US.

    President Donald Trump has not offered a comprehensive healthcare plan this time around. Early in his term, he and the Republicans in Congress tried to “repeal and replace” The ACA, but were unsuccessful.

     

    The Bottom Line

    Healthcare is certainly a hot topic for the 2020 election process. Though Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vermont) version of Medicare for All would eventually eliminate all other forms of insurance, other Democratic candidates have varying degrees of support and versions of Medicare for All  as a universal healthcare system. Though Medicare for All would likely lower the healthcare costs in the economy overall and increase quality care while also facilitating more preventative care to avoid expensive emergency room visits, you could end up paying more if you make more than $250,000 a year or are in the top 0.1 % of households. What’s more, some experts suggest that if costs are less onerous, patients will overuse the system and make setting up appointments for elective procedures more difficult.

    Tips for Keeping Your Finances Healthy

    • A health savings account (HSA) may be a good option for younger people who are worried about potential healthcare costs. HSAs can greatly reduce monthly premiums.
    • Whatever the outcome on Medicare for All, it is important to keep yourself physically and financially healthy. If you are concerned about budgeting with health care costs, you may want to look into a financial advisor. SmartAsset can help you find your financial advisor match here.

    Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Asawin_Klabma, ©iStock.com/wutwhanfoto, ©iStock.com/marchmeena29

    The post Medicare for All: Definition and Pros and Cons appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

    Source: smartasset.com

    Is It Real? The Creepy Mansion in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

    We recently covered the new Haunting of Bly Manor, director Mike Flanagan’s so-called sequel to the epic mini-series The Haunting of Hill House. And while we were anxiously waiting for the series to drop on Netflix, we thought we’d try to distract ourselves by taking a trip down memory lane and re-watching the first season. 

    Are the two seasons connected? Kind of.

    Now, the two parts have nothing to do with each other in terms of plot, but you’ll get to see some familiar faces from the first series. Director Mike Flanagan is obviously taking cues from American Horror Story, which tends to re-cast the same actors in each season, much to our delight. 

    Another thing that the two seasons have in common is a central character in the form of a mansion that brings all the other characters together. Both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor are based on iconic gothic novels, namely Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw

    While Bly Manor, according to James’ short novel, is welcoming and warm, bearing no signs whatsoever of anything evil lurking inside it, Hill House is a different story. Mike Flanagan might have strayed from the plot and the characters found in Jackson’s novel, but the central character is the same: a classic, creepy, dark and mysterious haunted mansion. 

    The House in The Haunting of Hill House.
    The House in The Haunting of Hill House. Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

    Hill House’s dark allure

    Hill House, both in the novel and in the Netflix adaptation, is sinister-looking, unwelcoming, ominous even, like a warning to those who dare enter. In Flanagan’s version, Hill House is a living and breathing organism that manages to haunt the Crain family for decades, luring them back one by one. 

    The Crain family, which includes Hugh and Olivia and their children, Theo, Nell, Shirley, Luke, and Steven, moves into Hill House as the parents have a passion for flipping houses. Hugh and Olivia plan to renovate the crumbling mansion and then sell it to build their dream house, designed by Olivia herself. However, Hill House has other plans in store for the Crains.

    Repairs take much longer than anticipated, as if the house itself was committed to causing trouble and keeping the family close. Gradually, the family starts experiencing some strange phenomena. Kids are seeing ‘bent-neck ladies’ in the night, hearing strange noises, while Olivia becomes increasingly unhinged, much to Hugh’s concern. 

    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House
    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House. Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

    Things progress and get worse, until one fateful night when Hugh and the kids are forced to flee and escape Hill House, apparently leaving Olivia behind. What truly happened that night is only explained at the end of the series, when the kids, now adults, return to Hill House with their father to finally learn the truth. 

    We don’t want to give too much away, in case you haven’t seen the series yet – if that’s the case, stop reading right now for crying out loud and go binge-watch some Netflix. Basically, the house has a strange grip on each of the members of the Crain family, and many years later it manages to lure them back, one by one, for reasons that are only revealed in the final episode. 

    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House
    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House. Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

    Is Hill House a real place?

    Fortunately, Hill House is an entirely fictional place, so no worries about being inexplicably lured to it like the Crains. However, there is a real place that inspired the look and feel of Hill House, located in LaGrange, Georgia. 

    bisham manor
    Bisham Manor (courtesy of Zillow)

    Dubbed Bisham Manor, the imposing estate at 1901 Old Young’s Mill Road might look like the house in the series, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. The interior shots were filmed on a set, and they look nothing like the interior of Bisham Manor, which is far from creepy. In fact, Bisham Manor is a popular and charming wedding and event venue, so it’s safe to say it’s attracting visitors for non-evil purposes. 

    Bisham manor
    Bisham Manor (via Zillow)

    Bisham Manor, according to Zillow, boasts roughly 11,000 square feet of space, and is a 1920s English Tudor-style home that was redeveloped in the early 2000s by master-builder Ben Parham. The four-story estate is being used as an event venue for corporate events, meetings and team buildings, weddings, parties, and so on.

    Though it might look like an old English castle, it comes decked out with modern amenities like a gym, spa, sauna, steam, wine cellar, and an outdoor pool. Nothing evil about that, as far as we can see. But Bisham’s former owners might disagree.

    Interiors at Bisham Manor
    Interiors at Bisham Manor (via Zillow)

    Neil and Trish Leichty purchased Bisham Manor in 2013, and they reported that the house is definitely haunted by a couple of ghosts of its own. The couple described music playing in the basement despite there being no sound system installed, strange smells permeating throughout the house, and things disappearing in the night.

    The Leichtys soon moved to a different home, but continued to experience strange events, much like the Crains were haunted by Hill House decades after they left it. Coincidence? We’ll let you be the judge of that.

    If you haven’t watched The Haunting of Hill House, you still have some time until The Haunting of Bly Manor drops on October 9. Prepare to be spooked, but don’t worry, the house is purely fictional. If, on the other hand, you’ve already seen it twice, then check out these other haunted houses we’ve covered here on Fancy Pants Homes. Halloween season is not too far away, so you better start getting ready!

    More haunted houses

    Behind the Evil Eyes: The (Real) Story of the Amityville House
    The Haunting of Thornewood Castle – Where Stephen King Filmed the Rose Red Miniseries
    Is It Real? The Creepy House in Stephen King’s ‘It’
    The Winchester House — The Haunted Mansion that Inspired the Name of Supernatural’s Winchester Brothers

    The post Is It Real? The Creepy Mansion in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.

    Source: fancypantshomes.com

    5 Ways to Keep Winter Decor Bright

    Traditionally, spring and summer corner the market on bold, bright colors, with fall and winter ushering in richer, more muted tones. However, this year’s popular colors, featured in Shutterfly’s Hottest Hues Guide, have a versatility that helps enhance decor year-round. Incorporate pops of modern color trends into everyday home accessories to warm up your house and your heart in the cool days ahead.

    Fall Harvest, see larger

    1. Set a Color-filled Table

    ’Tis the season for holiday dinners, and your dining room table is the perfect place to fill your room with color. Saturate your tablescape with chargers, plates, placemats and napkins in festive colors. Deep reds and burgundies are not only perfect for the holidays, but they add warmth to your tablescape throughout the winter season. But don’t limit yourself to the standard red and green—get creative with color palettes as you set your table, bringing in metallic and unexpected shades for a dose of fun!

    2. Patch it Together

    Invite color to visit by adding seasonally inspired throw pillows or a practical and colorful quilt to your couch or bed. Think outside of your regularly colored box, and experiment with contrast to create a cozy space without committing to a color scheme.

    Room filled with daylight, see larger

    3. Bring the Outdoors In

    Flowers lend a festive touch as well as a hint of brightness to any area. A bold spray of pink orchids or peonies can add a pleasantly surprising shock of color to a sleek neutral winter space. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you’re stuck with poinsettias. Pale pink is enjoying a comeback in the design world as a romantic neutral with a range of versatility—and rose quartz just happens to be one of Pantone’s colors of the year for 2016. As interior redesign specialist Wendy Wrzos says, “In fall, it can be paired with a rich brown and cream. In winter, a touch of pale pink will add a cozy warmth to a room, or be an unexpected addition to the more saturated colors.” Pick your palette from a favorite bouquet for a touch of color you already love.

    vibrant laundry room, see larger

    4. Live a Little Large

    Bring big color to a small space by painting your laundry room a bold color for brightness you can enjoy all year round. “The laundry room is a room that gets used all the time, and it is rare to see one that has been decorated. A painted wall and a colorful rug takes no effort at all, and will cheer it up in an instant.” —Wrzos advised. Use a small, out-of-the-way area to be brave with a shade that brings you joy when you see it.

    Living room artwork, see larger

    5. Hang It Up

    The artwork in a room is often a focal point and the perfect place to feature color. With a foundation of neutral furniture, flooring, and walls, art and decor accessories can take center stage. Create a canvas or three-panel piece of art from a nature-inspired vacation photo and select a matching color palette to complement your art work. If you’re looking for a more seasonal do-it-yourself option, wrap poster frame inserts in pretty wrapping paper for a temporary triptych to match your holiday decorating scheme.

    Between bad weather and Daylight Savings Time, winter feels dark enough. Fill your life with brightness all year round by incorporating color in easy, unexpected ways and bring a little more boldness and brilliance into your everyday world.

    About the Author

    Ashley McCann shares home décor tips for Shutterfly.com. She is a mom of two and enjoys reading and karaoke. For more from Ashley, you can find her on Twitter.

    The post 5 Ways to Keep Winter Decor Bright first appeared on Century 21®.

    Source: century21.com