CNBC make it 2024-02-21 02:50:47

28-year-old has lived in an old NYC laundromat for 5 years, pays $1900 in rent—take a look inside

When Sampson Dahl, 28, found a former laundromat in Maspeth, Queens on an online forum back in 2019, he had no idea how much the space would become his life.

Early last year, CNBC Make It met Dahl after his former laundromat-turned-apartment went viral on TikTok. At the time, he was paying $1,850 a month — his rent has since increased to $1,900.

At the start of 2023, Dahl was working in TV and film set design — which allowed him access to a lot of the furniture and décor you see throughout his apartment — but the Writers Guild of America strike put a pause on any new work and forced Dahl to rethink the unlikely home he had created.

“I’ve gotten to focus on the space a lot, so I’ve been throwing shows, events, and intimate gatherings almost weekly at this point,” Dahl tells CNBC Make It. “It’s been a great opportunity to kind of dive into the space more.”

Dahl doesn’t make a lot of money from the events, but he says what he earns from the door charge is enough to help make his monthly rent payments and continue living alone.

Last year, Dahl told CNBC Make It that he only lives in the former laundromat because it’s what he can afford. Now, Dahl says he is looking more seriously into moving. “I don’t want to be there forever. In my best case scenario, I leave, and I don’t think about it for a while, and then come to visit in 10 years, and it’s something surprising to me,” he says.

While he has enjoyed living in an alternative space, Dahl thinks he might be ready for a more traditional apartment.

But he doesn’t intend to leave the old laundromat behind completely.

In an ideal world, Dahl says he would renovate the laundromat and have a core group of people continuing to operate it as an event space.

“My goal with this space is just to keep it existing, and I think that my friends have no ulterior mission to make a functioning business out of it,” Dahl says. “I’m not against utilizing it as a storefront but I think the neighbors appreciate having a space that adds a different mood. The block I live on informs me and a certain pace of life. Most of my neighbors are retirees and the laundromat is the same.”

When Dahl does move, he says he’ll miss his neighbors and hosting old and new friends in his home at all hours of the day. “I love them so much,” he says.

“I’d love to live across the street. I’ve been looking for years and always keep my eye on the block.”

Living in such an unconventional space has helped Dahl learn to enjoy his home for what it is now instead of trying to turn it into something bigger. “In a place that values commercial success and economic growth, it’s rare to be able to enjoy stasis in a place like this,” Dahl says.

“I think the greatest thing I’ve found living in the laundromat is providing a room where someone can exist without direct purpose.”

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No. 1 money mistake to avoid after a layoff: The ‘long-term consequences’ will be ‘very painful’

Getting laid off from your job can be a difficult experience, and figuring out how to supplement your income can add to that stress.

But the No. 1 mistake to avoid money-wise in the aftermath of a layoff is cashing out your 401(k) plan, says says Anne Lester, a retirement expert and author of “Your Best Financial Life: Save Smart Now for the Future You Want,” which will be released in March.

“The long-term consequences of that are going to be very painful,” she tells CNBC Make It.

If you’re considering cashing out your 401(k) to cover your expenses after a layoff, there are a few major reasons why financial experts say it should be your last resort. Here’s what to know.  

An early withdrawal from your 401(k) may result in a hefty tax bill

One of the main reasons financial experts advise against withdrawing money from your 401(k) after you’ve been laid off is the potential tax consequences. You’ll generally need to pay income tax on any money you withdraw, which could result in a higher tax bill.

Say you withdraw $100,000 from your 401(k) after being laid off. At tax time, that money will be combined with your previous annual income and may result in you being bumped into a higher tax bracket, Lester says.

On top of potentially owing local, state and federal taxes, you may also owe an additional 10% tax penalty for withdrawing your retirement funds before reaching age 59½, per the IRS. In certain circumstances, it’s possible to make a penalty-free hardship withdrawal, but specific conditions must be met.

And since taxes and penalties can be pretty costly, you may end up with less money than you initially expected, Lester says.

“You may look at the number in your 401(k) and think ‘Oh my gosh, I have $100,000,’ but you don’t actually have $100,000,” she says. “Depending on your tax bracket, you may only get half of that.”

You may derail your long-term retirement goals

In addition to potentially facing a costly tax bill, cashing out your 401(k) may negatively impact your ability to meet your long-term retirement goals.

When you withdraw funds invested through your 401(k), that money loses out on the opportunity to continue growing through the power of compound interest. While you can invest more money later on, you can’t get that time back.

“The greatest money-making asset anyone can possess is time,” Ed Slott, publisher of, previously told CNBC Make It.

On top of that, cashing out your 401(k) means you’re essentially restarting your retirement saving journey. It may be difficult to build your funds back up to the level they were at previously.

What to do instead

Rather than tapping into your retirement savings, there are a couple of other options you can consider if you’ve experienced a layoff and need cash to cover day-to-day expenses.

Try a 0% interest credit card

While relying on credit cards shouldn’t be your first option either, if you don’t have emergency savings or another source of income readily available, you may want to temporarily use them to cover your living expenses, Lester says.

“If credit cards are the only way you’re going to be able to eat and you’ve cut out every single other expense then yes, put some stuff on a credit card,” she says. “But it’s not a strategy, it’s a desperation move.”

That’s because credit card debt can quickly balloon to an unmanageable amount due to high interest rates.

If you must rely on credit cards to cover your living expenses after being laid off, a card that offers a 0% interest period can help you avoid costly interest charges for sometimes up to 21 months.

But it’s important to note that not everyone qualifies for this type of credit card since you typically need a good to excellent credit score. Additionally, opening a new card may temporarily lower your credit score.

Apply for unemployment benefits

Another option is to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits in your state, Lester says.

Although each state uses a different set of rules to decide who qualifies for unemployment benefits, you’ll typically qualify if you were let go from your job due to no fault of your own, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

You’ll need to file your claim with the state where you were employed and provide information such as your address and dates of your employment. It’s generally better to apply sooner rather than later since it can take a few weeks for you to receive a check.

“You want to file for that as soon as possible,” Lester says. “This is not the time to feel like ‘Oh, I can’t do that. That’s embarrassing.’ There’s no shame in getting laid off or getting unemployment benefits.”

It’s also important to note that the amount you receive will generally be based on a percentage of your earnings over the past 52-week period and capped at a state’s maximum amount, per the Labor Department. Additionally, you can receive unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks in most states.

For more information on eligibility guidelines, check out the Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance fact sheet and map of unemployment insurance offices.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Why a CEO says bosses should embrace ‘coffee badging’: ‘I don’t hire people to watch them work’

A lot of workplaces these days have in-office mandates, with bosses who get upset if employees don’t physically show up.

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Boston-based video conferencing equipment maker Owl Labs, isn’t one of those bosses. He actively encourages his employees to create schedules that work for them, in locations that make sense, he says — even if what makes sense is “coffee badging.”

Coffee badging refers to the practice of swiping your badge into your office building, hanging around long enough to drink a morning coffee and chat with colleagues, and going right back home to get work done. At workplaces with strict office mandates, it’s seen as a way to get credit for being in the office while still enjoying the benefits of remote work.

The strategy should be acceptable to bosses everywhere, says Weishaupt, who has more than 20 years of executive experience at small startups and large companies like Yahoo: If someone will benefit from the office’s social interactions before needing isolation to be productive, let them do exactly that.

“We hire people to do a job. I don’t hire people to watch them work,” Weishaupt says. “I do love the in-office participation when we get it, but I want it to be organic.”

Coffee badging may seem like an inefficient use of time, but flexible schedules like this can boost efficiency and morale. In a 2021 Gartner survey of more than 10,000 digital workers across the world, 43% of respondents said flexible working hours helped them be more productive.

“The office has a role, but mandating that you must come into the office on this day, at this time, and leave no earlier than this time — that is a dead concept,” Weishaupt says. “Monitoring employee activity is a really slippery slope where you’re going to lose trust.”

Most bosses want to work from home as much as, if not more than, their employees do, according to a survey of 3,000 American workers and managers from software firm Checkr. It may be difficult to lean into that desire when industry giants like Amazon or Disney enact in-office policies, saying employees are more productive and connected that way.

Weishaupt has some advice for any boss feeling caught in the middle: Trust your gut and do what’s right for your particular workplace.

“The office has a role, but it’s more task based,” he says. “If I have meetings on Wednesday morning that need to be in person, in the office, I will be. And if I choose to be in the office the remainder of the day to finish my work, I’ll do it. But if I want to do it in another location, I should be able to have that flexibility.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

While CDC considers new Covid guidance, here’s what an immunologist recommends if you test positive

By April, there may be a new isolation period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Currently, the CDC says that people who test positive for the coronavirus should stay home for five days and isolate from the people that they live with. But the agency is planning to potentially shift that recommendation for the first time since 2021, which may reduce the isolation period significantly for some people, according to The Washington Post.

The length of isolation for those with a positive Covid test may now be based on an individual approach. The agency would recommend that people stay home until they’ve been free of a fever for 24 hours without the help of medication and their symptoms are improving, The Washington Post reported.

The CDC hasn’t confirmed or denied whether they plan to shorten the isolation period, but the agency is looking to change Covid guidance in general, according to NBC News.

It might give people a false sense of security when they might still be contagious.
Dr. Purvi Parikh
Immunologist and Allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network

While experts agree that new Covid-19 guidelines are warranted, considering how long it’s been since the last change, not all are on board with the plan that the CDC may be suggesting.

“I do have some concerns with the new plan because I worry that it might give people a false sense of security when they might still be contagious and might lead to some spread,” says Dr. Purvi Parikh, immunologist and allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network.

“So, those guidelines hopefully will be tweaked a little more before they’re released in April because they’re not approved yet.”

A major concern that Parikh has is that Covid symptoms don’t look the same for every person these days: “Not everyone gets fevers with Covid. Sometimes people’s infections are a lot milder now, especially if they’ve been vaccinated or built up some immunity to Covid, which much of the population has.”

This means even people without fevers may still be contagious and can spread the virus to others, which can be especially dangerous for people from vulnerable groups, like those who are over the age of 65, people who have weakened immune systems or individuals with long-Covid.

But some experts are looking to suggest guidelines that people will adhere to and think that making protocols a bit simpler may be the way to do so, especially considering that most people have developed some level of immunity to Covid.

“In making recommendations to the public today, we have to try to get the most out of what people are willing to do,” Michael T. Osterholm, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota told The Washington Post.

The new recommendation hasn’t been approved yet, but if it will be, here’s what Parikh suggests for people who test positive for Covid.

Here’s what a doctor suggests if you test positive for Covid

If you find yourself with a positive Covid test, Parikh suggests that you “still do the five day [isolation] rule that we’re doing now. Or you can even wait until it resolves. So if it’s gone within a day or two, that’s fine too.”

Some people may need to leave their homes while they’re still symptomatic for a number of reasons, and Parikh recommends “at least having a mask to protect yourself and others” if that applies to you.

She says clear symptoms that you should stay home and isolate from others, or at least mask around other people, are:

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, especially with fluid
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches

If you’re experiencing these symptoms and have tested positive for Covid, Parikh says you should speak with your primary doctor about if you’re eligible for Paxlovid as a treatment.

Additionally, “what I and other physicians have recommended is doing a rapid test as part of the guidelines,” she adds, noting that it’s a good way to have some level of confidence that you’re no longer contagious before ending your quarantine.

“Even though that test isn’t perfect, at least it gives you an idea that if you’re positive that means you’re still contagious and there’s active virus in you. Versus if it’s negative, it doesn’t rule it out completely, but makes you less likely to spread it as much,” Parikh says.

She emphasizes that people from vulnerable groups should stay up-to-date with their vaccinations and boosters. Parikh also encourages people with a higher risk of being infected by Covid to assess their environments to reduce their chances of contracting the virus by masking in public spaces and keeping their distance from people who seem to be sneezing or coughing often.

If the plan is approved, “it’ll be released in the peak of allergy season when everyone’s already coughing and sneezing, so it will be challenging,” Parikh says. “But those high-risk individuals always, unfortunately, have to kind of play defensive driving and protect themselves.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Tired of ‘tipflation’? 5 times it’s OK not to tip, according to etiquette experts

If you feel like you’re being asked to tip practically everywhere these days, you’re not alone. In addition to the traditional venues — restaurants, barber shops, cabs — customers are being prompted to tip everywhere from convenience store counters to self-checkout kiosks at airports.

Etiquette experts such as Thomas Farley — also known as Mister Manners — are calling the phenomenon “tipflation.”

“People are really feeling imposed upon,” Farley says. “We’re already living through inflationary times. Everything is crazy expensive. And on top of that, you’re being asked, every time you turn around, ‘How much would you like to tip?’ It feels pushy, it feels needy and almost every customer I speak with says, ‘Why aren’t businesses just paying people more?’”

It’s a good question, but don’t hold your breath for an answer. Rather, take solace in the knowledge that there are still scenarios where etiquette experts say a tip is not required — even if you’re presented with a tablet that asks for one.

Here are five people and scenarios that don’t require a tip.


As a blanket rule, you don’t need to tip anyone who earns a salary or performs a trade. That means you don’t have to tip doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers or cable technicians.

“Not only would it not be expected, it would be highly unorthodox and very awkward,” says Farley. Plus, in certain situations, “you could be seen as attempting to curry some sort of favor or that it might be some sort of a bribe.”

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Counter service

As a rule, anyone working at a counter is earning a wage, while those delivering food, either to your table or to your home, rely on tips as a major part of their income. For that reason, tipping people who work behind a counter, such as a barista or a cashier, is not a requirement as far as etiquette experts are concerned — even if the tablet suggests otherwise.

“When they turn that device around, it’s this glaring thing, and people feel shamed into tipping, but you don’t have to,” says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol.  

That’s not to say a tip for a counter worker is out of the question, though. “It’s a nice gesture to offer a tip to a worker who goes above and beyond the service,” Swann says. “For example, maybe you frequent the establishment regularly and they have your order memorized.”

Open-bar events

If you go to an event with an open bar, the bar staff may or may not put out a tip jar. As a rule of thumb, “keep in mind that the host of that event has likely already taken care of the tip,” says Swann. “That tip would be included in what they’ve had to pay for the venue or to the bartending service.”

That means you’re not obligated to tip, too. It is, of course, appreciated says Farley, and may help get you better service throughout the night.

“If there is a busy bar, and there are multiple people to take orders from, the fact that you acknowledged them may get you a heavier pour. Maybe they gave you the cup of ice you were asking for,” he says. “A dollar here or there isn’t much to ask.”


You don’t have to tip twice for the same service. Swann has recently heard feedback from women who have tipped the technician who worked on their nails at a salon and were then prompted to tip again when paying at the counter. “That is just the establishment trying to get more money out of you.”

The situation can get a little trickier in cities that have implemented minimum wage requirements for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers. Some restaurants in these cities will apply a 20% service charge to your bill before presenting you with the option to tip.

In those scenarios, it’s appropriate to discreetly ask your server where the fee is going. “If they tell you it goes to the servers and the bussers and so forth, your job of tipping is done,” says Swann.

If the money goes to the house, you’ll likely want to leave a tip for the server who took care of you, says Farley, who recently ended up tipping 20% on top of a 20% service charge at a restaurant in Denver.

“From an etiquette standpoint, we still tip the servers who are bringing us our food,” he says. “But I did leave that restaurant feeling like this was not a tenable situation.”

Poor service

You’re never obligated to tip someone when they’ve provided you poor service or if you’ve had a rude interaction with them. In the case of a one-on-one service, such as a haircut, this is pretty cut and dried. In fact, if a barber so ruined your hair that you felt they didn’t deserve a tip, you likely wouldn’t be out of line asking for a full refund, says Farley.

In the case of a restaurant, it gets a little trickier. Swann recommends a sliding scale for restaurant tipping, with 20% as the standard, and more if a server goes above and beyond. Even in the face of bad service, she wouldn’t go lower than 10% — and if that’s the case, you still have to ask yourself some questions. Namely, is the server at fault?

“If the food took too long to come out, that’s a kitchen issue. If it wasn’t prepared properly, that’s a kitchen issue. If the environment was not pleasurable, say because it was too loud, that has nothing to do with service.”

If you did have a nasty interaction with a server, you may be in the right to dock their tip, but be sure to bring it up with management as well, says Swann.

“If you address management and then leave a lower tip, they’ll know you weren’t just a jerk or uneducated when it comes to tipping,” she says. “Whether they agree with your complaint or not, they’ll have an understanding of why you left a lower tip.”

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