It's been nearly four years since President Trump's election, and to make an understatement, his approach to the presidency has been unorthodox.
In an unprecedented break of presidential custom, he has refused to release his tax returns despite ongoing claims of fraud. In an administration led by one of the most recognizable names in the world, the decision to keep the president's personal finances secret has raised many questions, the most notable being: is it possible that Trump may be making money off his presidency?
Back in 2000, Trump made that very claim: "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." In a macro sense, this is obviously based on the real estate mogul's simple maxim of "all press is good press," which the 2016 election made obvious with an estimated $2 billion of free media for Trump. Does all the additional coverage help his business like it helped win him the election?
Regarding Trump's many properties, the answer appears to point that way.
Although declining prices have likely hurt its worth, Trump's 11,000-square-foot penthouse in Trump Tower is now essentially a national monument and is positioned to sell for an additional $10 million simply because of an increase in the value of its main tenant.
Trump Hotels have also seemed to benefit, as President Donald Trump frequently uses his luxury properties for government business and leisure, prompting ethics concerns over a president appearing to promote his private enterprise at public cost. Government officials in Kuwait canceled a major event they had planned at the Four Seasons Hotel and switched their venue to Trump's hotel in D.C. under alleged pressure. The same luxury hotel has emerged as a political power hub and is at the center of a court case about presidential emoluments.
Regarding the president's infamous Mar-a-Lago resort, it has seen its membership fee double to $200,000 since Trump took office. Shortly after the fee hike was revealed, Barack Obama's former ethics lawyer said the increase is a "not very subtle exploitation of the fact that the club's figurehead is now president of the U.S." Forbes estimates the "winter White House" is now worth $160 million, $10 million more than pre-election.
Some of the profiteering is even more direct: Trump immediately launched his reelection campaign on the day he assumed office. Donor money has continually flowed since then, and America's first billionaire president turned more than $900,000 into personal revenue.
And we can't forget Trump's signature 2017 tax reform legislation, which will also clearly benefit the president. Forbes says Trump could save about 10% on business income, which based on his leaked 2005 tax return, could mean as much as $11 million annually.
Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the estate of Donald Trump, in Pa
However, becoming president has had its drawbacks for the businessman.
While his 2016 campaign's controversial marketing strategy helped Trump leverage media coverage to benefit his commercial properties and projects, Forbes reports that, so far, mixing politics and business has hurt him more than it has helped.
By some calculations, Trump's net worth has dropped from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $3.1 billion in the last two years, dropping the president 138 spots lower on the Forbes 400. In regards to Trump Tower, the net operating income dropped 27% between 2014, the year before Trump announced his run for president, and 2017, his first year in the White House.
In refusing to divest his tax returns, Trump has set himself up to be accused of perpetual conflicts of interests that may or may not be true. Forbes' suggests that Trump would be $500 million richer if he had liquidated his assets, paid capital gains tax on his fortune and created a blind trust to invest it all in the stock market.
At the end of the day, Trump has made money off the pedestal he's been given. However, he may have made more—and been better perceived—if he had thrown in the towel altogether.
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Between buying a new home and transporting yourself and your belongings to it, moving can be an expensive process. One often underrecognized cost of moving occurs before one's original house has even been sold, and that's staging the house. Homeowners often spend hundreds of dollars making a home appealing to potential buyers. To ease the financial burden of moving, here are several tips for staging your home on a budget.
Downsize Instead of Storing
The goal of staging a home is to create a blank canvas that potential buyers can imagine their own lives painted upon. To accomplish this, homeowners should depersonalize the home as much as possible, removing items that are specific to their family and eliminating clutter. This is where homeowners often incur their first costs as they rush to put as many older things in storage as possible.
To cut costs, focus on downsizing rather than storing items. Look for items that you can sell, donate, or give away. For remaining items, look for alternative places to store them, such as a friend or relative's house. This will also reduce the cost of moving your belongings when it is time to go to the new house.
DIY What You Can
There are times when homeowners should bring in a professional to manage home renovations and decorating, such as when a task requires specialized skills. These types of jobs, when done incorrectly, will incur even greater costs if attempted on your own. However, many of the home improvement tasks that go into staging a home are simple enough that the homeowner can DIY them, such as painting, installing a backsplash, or refinishing the deck. Doing these tasks yourself will save you a significant amount of money.
Don't Redo, Update
Homeowners are often eager to make their houses look as appealing to buyers as possible. However, recall that the point of staging is depersonalization, making a home presentable so buyers can mentally impose their own style onto it. When staging a home on a budget, focus less on completely transforming the space and more on making what is there look presentable. For instance, if you wanted to give your bedroom a facelift, trying to replace the furniture and flooring would be pointless unless it was damaged or unkempt. Simply organizing the space and replacing the bed's comforter would be sufficient.
Another way to update the space without entirely redoing it is to rearrange it to maximize the space that is already there. For instance, pulling the furniture away from the walls will make a room appear bigger and allows more space for those touring the house. Using window trimmings that maximize natural light and incorporating wall mirrors can also make a room seem more spacious.
Raising a larger family than most means that your lifestyle is going to change. Costs will continue to multiply as your family grows larger. However, just because your family is large doesn't mean your quality of life needs to suffer. It just means you need to make a few adjustments to help things work smoother and more efficiently. We've compiled a couple of money-saving tips for larger families to help you get the most out of your dollars.
Always Buy in Bulk
The benefit of having a larger family is that things you buy in bulk rarely ever go to waste. Smaller families can benefit from buying in bulk, of course, but your large family will see the most use out of shopping in large quantities. You'll want to avoid going to smaller stores for necessities such as groceries and clothes, as these places generally have higher markups on their items.
Buy Wholesale Items Online
If you want to take buying in bulk to the next level, one of the best money-saving tips for large families is to buy online from wholesalers. Buying online comes with a number of benefits that you won't get when you go to a physical store:
- You don't have to drag your kids to the store with you
- You have a lower probability of making impulse purchases
- You can search for exactly what you need
- Wholesalers sell in very large quantities for a lower price per item
Never Throw Away Something Useful
When you have to buy things for multiple children, your costs to replace items will be much higher. That's why it's so important to keep everything you can. Clothing is a big part of this. Hand-me-downs can prevent you from needing to replace entire closets every year. Try to repair or upcycle any clothes that may have damage, as this is usually much cheaper than buying brand-new items.
Stick to a Budget
When you support a large family, expenses can sometimes get away from you. Proper budgeting helps to keep the extra purchases that add up to a minimum. Budgeting correctly can save you a lot of heartache in the long run. It's up to you how much control you want to take; you can make your budget weekly or monthly, depending on how tight a ship you need to run. What's important to remember is that making the budget is only the first step—sticking to it is where you'll really need to enact some willpower.
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Sometimes there is no choice—a home needs to be sold in the winter.
Spring may be the most popular time to put your house on the market, but homes do sell in the colder months. With fewer houses available, your home may be someone's only choice when house hunting in your neighborhood. As your neighbors hold out until spring, you'll already be done and ready to shop for your next house!
Here are a few tips for selling a home in the winter to get you on the right track.
Keep Paths Safe and Landscaping Fresh
Landscaping is the last thing on a homeowner's mind in the winter. Everything was cut back in the fall and may now be covered in snow. Still, take a walk around the house and yard to check everything out. Branches may have fallen from heavy snow, leaving a mess in the yard. Keep everything neat and tidy.
The last thing you need is a potential buyer slipping on the ice-covered walk in front of your house. Buyers often consider those moments bad omens, and this can affect their decisions. Shovel, snow blow, spread salt—do whatever you have to do to keep the driveway and walking paths clear, and don't forget the porch and deck.
Make the Inside Warm and Cozy
In cold weather, buyers won't spend a lot of time examining a home's exterior. Instead, impress them with the inside by creating an atmosphere which causes them to want to move in.
When there's time, leave wintery types of snacks and drinks, such as hot cocoa and cookies, available on a table during showings. This gives your home a welcoming feel to buyers.
Light the fireplace (if you have one) for a lovely ambience and set your thermostat to a comfortable setting. A warm home in the winter is much more appealing than a chilly one.
Make Your Home Less Personal
Understandably, this can be a tough thought for homeowners. After all, you've spent years creating memories in your home. To buyers, though, they need to picture it as their own. Too much personality makes that difficult.
It's always important to stage your home in a way that makes it look clean, comfortable, and move-in ready. Don't feel offended by the idea of taking family pictures down and replacing them with generic décor. This will help your home sell faster by helping buyers envision their own things there.
Cleanliness and Maintenance
Clean, clean, and clean some more. Make appliances, counters, and floors shine. No matter how old your home is, it needs to feel like new to potential buyers. If you aren't into dusting, now is the time to try. Don't forget window coverings that might need washing.
Be prepared ahead of time for home inspections by taking care of maintenance now. HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical should all be up to code and running smoothly.
Use these tips for selling a home in the winter, exercise patience during the slower months, and your home will sell before you know it.