Feature

Is workplace passion overrated?

And more of the week's best financial insight

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Renting in the suburbs

Single-family houses built specifically for renting are the fastest-growing sector of the housing market, said Debra Kamin at The New York Times. "Entire villages" of such houses, owned by large-scale investors, are now popping up. The market for these rental homes still consists mainly of young people working remotely who fled expensive urban centers. But it includes a growing number of Americans who "make relatively high salaries but are opting not to buy." Brian and Amanda Voorhees sold their 3,600-square-foot home in New Jersey to move with their two children to a built-to-rent community with tennis courts, a pool, and a lazy river outside Jacksonville, Florida, where they pay $2,600 a month for a four-bedroom townhome. "We didn't want to have to worry about all the potential pitfalls of homeownership," said Brian Voorhees.

Is workplace passion overrated?

"Finding your calling at work has become a sort of professional holy grail," said Winnie Jiang at The Harvard Business Review. But do the people who find the deepest meaning at work actually do their jobs better? Not necessarily. Research shows that calling-oriented employees do spend more time and effort on work, but "they can often be overly idealistic rather than effective." However, the calling-oriented employees benefit from a halo effect, gaining "higher pay and organizational status" because managers tend to recommend them for raises and promotions. Managers who "get carried away by the current obsession with seeking higher purpose at work" can underestimate some of their top performers — and encourage "inauthentic" displays of commitment.

Deductions for disaster losses

Congress is considering whether to allow more people to deduct disaster-related losses from their taxes, said Laura Saunders at The Wall Street Journal. "The 2017 tax overhaul suspended the overall deduction for casualty (i.e., disaster) and theft losses," unless they are the result of federally declared disasters. A proposal currently being debated would broaden the allowable deductions to include one-off events (such as damage from a lightning strike); the change would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. One key limitation: Disasters losses "are only deductible if they exceed 10 percent of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income," which means the homeowners need to clear a high bar to get a useful deduction.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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