5 Tools to Vanquish Your Inner Critic

Most people have some form of internal critic—a nagging voice that highlights all your mistakes and pretends your triumphs don’t exist. Some consideration of both positive outcomes and ramifications of your actions can be healthy, but when you let your inner critic take over it can cause severe and long-lasting damage to your self-esteem. So take control!

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Start by paying closer attention to what that little voice is saying. It may even help to write down what you’re thinking. When negative commentary is in front of you in black and white, you may be better able to see what’s true and what’s not. Once you’ve got a clearer idea of what your inner critic is telling you, here are some tools to help turn down its volume.

  • Separate from the criticism. Rephrase negative thoughts as if someone else is saying them to you, rather than you talking to yourself. When they come from outside, it’s easier to refute criticisms with evidence to the contrary.
  • Reframe negativity. Instead of focusing on a feeling that you “messed up,” try saying, “it was a valuable learning experience and I’ll handle it differently next time.”
  • Don’t dwell on the past. Rather than spending hours or days thinking about a misstep you made, apologize out loud to whoever you think you failed and explain what you’ll do to avoid repeating the same error. This can help you move past the issue and stop thinking about it.
  • Beware exaggeration. Frustration can lead to an inner dialogue peppered with “never” and “always,” but life is rarely so binary. Shift from, “I never do anything right” to something truer—such as, “I do some things well and can learn to do other things better.”
  • Be your own best friend. If your best friend let you in on what their inner critic says, you’d offer support and gently point out why those critiques aren’t accurate. Learning to apply this same kindness to yourself is an important tool in the effort to boost self-confidence.

A Brief Guide to Tipping

Knowing when and how much to tip for services rendered can be confusing. While leaving one is technically optional, a tip is a critical part of the wages that waitstaff, taxi drivers, barbers, delivery drivers, and other essential workers earn. In fact, many states allow workers to be paid far less than minimum wage if they also get tips.

Plan to tip the people who serve you in restaurants, hotels, bars, taxis (or rideshares), and beauty salons. And while your own financial situation should go into the decision of how much to tip, here are some general guidelines.

  • Restaurants: A tip of 15-20% indicates you’re pleased with the service. Leave more for a truly five-star experience. If the service was bad, consider talking to a manager before you simply skip the tip. Note that many restaurants will automatically include a gratuity for a large group, so find out if the tip has already been added to your bill before you pay.
  • Hotels: If you get help bringing your bags to your room or hailing a taxi, be prepared with $2 per bag hauled or $5 per taxi hailed. If the bags are heavy or the doorman has to stand in the rain for you, tip more. Leave
    $3-5 each day for housekeeping.
  • Bars/Clubs: Tip the bartender $1-2 per drink, or 10-15% on a bar bill. For coat check at the club, $2-3 per coat is good (even if there’s a charge for the service).
  • Salons: Tipping your hairdresser or nail technician 15-20% is a great idea.
  • Taxis/Rideshares: Tipping about 15% for taxis or rideshares is fairly standard, though if the driver helps you with heavy bags consider tipping more.
  • Delivery: For food deliveries, tips of 10-15% are a good idea (more if the weather is terrible). For package deliveries, however, no tip is expected.

Keep in mind that tipping etiquette varies considerably in other countries, so before you travel be sure to read about the local tipping customs.

Americans Are Gaining Confidence in the Economy

Americans Are Gaining Confidence in the Economy | Simplifying The Market

The September Jobs Report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.9%. Though that percentage is well below what experts projected earlier this year, it still means millions of people are without work. There’s no way to minimize the tremendous impact this pandemic-induced recession continues to have on many Americans.

However, the latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index from Fannie Mae shows how more and more Americans believe the worst is behind us, and their personal employment situation is good. The index revealed:

“The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 78% to 83%, while the percentage who say they are concerned decreased from 22% to 16%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job increased 11 percentage points.”

Americans Are Game-Changers Too

Americans are naturally optimistic and have always responded to challenges with both resiliency and resourcefulness. Today is no different. As an example, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just reported:

“Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade, according to government data, seizing on pent-up demand and new opportunities after the pandemic shut down and reshaped the economy.”

Why would someone start a business in the middle of an economic crisis? The WSJ explains:

“The jump may be one sign that the pandemic is speeding up ‘creative destruction,’ the concept…to describe how new, innovative businesses often displace older, less-efficient ones, buoying long-term prosperity.”

The WSJ also notes that these new businesses will have a positive impact on the overall employment situation, as new businesses “are a critical engine of job creation. Startups have historically accounted for around one-fifth of job creation.”

Bottom Line

For the millions of Americans still unemployed, we hope for a quick return to the workforce. We should, however, realize that over 90% of people are still employed, and some are venturing into new business start-ups. Perhaps the next big game-changing company is right around the corner.

Real Estate Continues to Show Unprecedented Strength This Year

Real Estate Continues to Show Unprecedented Strength This Year | Simplifying The Market

The 2020 housing market has surpassed all expectations and continues to drive the nation’s economic recovery. The question is, will this positive trend continue throughout the rest of the year, especially given the uncertainty around the current health crisis, the upcoming election, and more?

Here’s a look at what several industry-leading experts have to say.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

“Home sales continue to amaze, and there are plenty of buyers in the pipeline ready to enter the market…Further gains in sales are likely for the remainder of the year, with mortgage rates hovering around 3% and with continued job recovery.”

Frank Martell, President and CEO, CoreLogic

“Homeowners’ balance sheets continue to be bolstered by home price appreciation, which in turn mitigated foreclosure pressures…Although the exact contours of the economic recovery remain uncertain, we expect current equity gains, fueled by strong demand for available homes, will continue to support homeowners in the near term.”


Zillow’s predictions for seasonally adjusted home prices and pending sales are more optimistic than previous forecasts because sales and prices have stayed strong through the summer months amid increasingly short inventory and high demand.

The pandemic also pushed the buying season further back in the year, adding to recent sales. Future sources of uncertainty including lapsed fiscal relief, the long-term fate of policies supporting the rental and mortgage market, and virus-specific factors, were incorporated into this outlook.”

Bottom Line

Many economists are in unison, indicating the housing market will continue to fuel the economy through the end of the year, maintaining this unprecedented strength.

How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC]

How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • With so few houses available on the market today, being ready for a bidding war is essential for prospective homebuyers.
  • From pre-approval to making your best offer, here are three tips to make sure you can act quickly and confidently when you find the perfect home.
  • Let’s connect today to be sure you have the guidance you need as the competition for homes heats up this season.

Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options?

Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options? | Simplifying The Market

Earlier this year when the nation pressed pause on the economy and unemployment rates jumped up significantly, many homeowners were immediately concerned about being able to pay their mortgages, and understandably so. To assist in this challenging time, two protection plans were put into place to help support those in need.

First, there was a pause placed on initiating foreclosures for government-backed loans. This plan started on March 18, 2020, and it extends at least through December 31, 2020. Second, homeowners were able to obtain forbearance for up to 180 days, followed by a potential extension for up to another 180 days. This way, there is a relief period in which homeowners have the opportunity to halt payments on their mortgages for up to one year.

Not Everyone Understands Their Options

The challenge, according to Matt Hulstein, Staff Attorney at non-profit Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, is, “A lot of homeowners aren’t aware of this option.”

There’s definitely traction behind this statement. In a recent survey by The National Housing Resource Center, housing counselors from across the country noted that many homeowners really don’t know that there is help available. The following graph indicates the reasons why people who are in this challenging situation are not choosing to enter forbearance:Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options? | Simplifying The MarketThe Urban Institute explained:

“530,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began did not take advantage of forbearance, despite being eligible to ask for the plan…These responses reflect a need to provide better information to all homeowners. (Lump-sum payment is not the only repayment option.)

Additionally, 205,000 homeowners who did not extend their forbearance after its term ended in June or July became delinquent on their loans. We need to examine who these people are and why are they not extending their option.”

Clearly, a more focused effort on education about forbearance and relief programs may make a big difference for many people, and a clear understanding of their options is mission-critical. Some communities, however, have been impacted by the economic challenges of the pandemic more so than others, further confirming the need to deliver education more widely. The Urban Institute also indicates:

“Black and Hispanic homeowners have been hit harder than white homeowners…nearly 21 percent of both Black and Hispanic homeowners missed or deferred the previous month’s mortgage payment, compared with 10 percent of white homeowners and about 13 percent of all homeowners with payments due.”

Options Available

It’s important to note that any homeowner experiencing financial hardship has the right to request forbearance. If you’re unfamiliar with the plans available, contact your mortgage provider (the company you send your mortgage payment to each month) to discuss your options. It is a necessary next step, as you may qualify for mortgage relief options or forbearance.

One option many homeowners may not realize they have is the ability to sell their house in this time of need. With the growing equity that homeowners have available today, making a move might be the best option to protect your financial future.

Bottom Line

If you need additional information on your options, you can review the Protect Your Investment guide from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Homeowner’s Guide to Success from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For the majority of people, our home is the most important asset we have, and you should use all the help available right now to be able to preserve your investment.

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | Simplifying The Market

Many industries have been devastated by the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 virus. Real estate is not one of them.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, just reported:

“Since hitting a low point during the initial stages of the pandemic, the only major industry to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market. Housing has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery and is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

Buyer demand is still strong heading into the fall. ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of buyer showings on residential properties, just announced that buyer showings are up 61.9% compared to the same time last year. They went on to say:

“Normally, real estate activity begins to slow down in the late summer, but this year it peaked in July, August and into September.”

There Is One Big Challenge

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Just last week, realtor.com reported:

“Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March, nearly 400,000 fewer homes have been listed compared to last year, leaving a gaping hole in the U.S. housing inventory.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is dropping dramatically. Below is a graph of existing inventory (September numbers are not yet available):The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | Simplifying The MarketHomebuilders are increasing construction, but they cannot keep up with the high demand. Bill McBride, founder of the Calculated Risk blog, in discussing inventory of newly constructed houses, notes:

“The months of supply decreased to 3.3 months…This is the all-time record low months of supply.”

What does this mean for sellers?

Anyone thinking of putting their home on the market should not wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is limited. That’s exactly the situation in the real estate market today.

Next year, when the pandemic is hopefully behind us, there will be many more properties coming to the market. Don’t wait for that increase in competition in your neighborhood. Now is the time to sell.

Bottom Line

Let’s connect today to get your house on the market at this optimal time to sell.

Are You Sleep Deprived?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

While many people might feel tired now and then, true sleep deprivation is more severe. Here are a few signs you may be sleep-deprived to help you deal with it before it becomes chronic.

  • Overeating and/or Weight Gain: Studies show people who get less sleep are less able to stave off unhealthy food cravings. There are even indications that sleep deprivation may increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Forgetfulness: An early indicator that you’re not getting enough rest is that you’re having trouble remembering things you once had no trouble with. Sleep helps strengthen the part of the brain that deals with long-term memories.
  • Clumsiness: Everyone feels like a klutz now and then, but if you’re suddenly clumsier than you used to be it could be that sleep deprivation is hampering your motor skills.
  • Physical Weakness: Diminished strength that can’t be otherwise explained may be another early symptom of sleep deprivation.

Be sure to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, but ways to combat sleep deprivation include a strict bedtime and wakeup schedule, no naps during the day, regular exercise, and reducing stress in your life and at work.

Top Etiquette Tips For Today (And Every Day)

Society is always changing, and along with that comes new and different societal expectations. Regardless of the situation, keep a few overriding guidelines in mind to gracefully get through any situation.

Respect others.

Nearly every social situation can be smoother just by showing respect for other people. Think about how your actions affect others around you. With technology, that means not having conversations on speakerphone in public and focusing on the people right in front of you, in real life, instead of scrolling through social media. At the gym, be open to others working in with your sets, instead of claiming a machine all to yourself. Ask the person sitting behind you on the plane if you can recline your seat. Be on time, and don’t be a no-show when you commit to being somewhere.

Honor diversity.

People deserve to be treated equally. That means there’s no reason to only hold the door open for certain people or exclude people from conversations or activities because of their gender, race, ableness, or age. But it also means being aware that everyone is an individual. Avoid making judgments without fully knowing someone’s story or situation.

Safety first.

In our fast-paced world, we feel the need to do everything and be everywhere but stop for a moment for safety. Before responding to that text while you’re driving, tuning out the world because you’re plugged into music, and balancing all those cups of coffee for the office staff so you only have to make one trip from the break room, take a moment before you act. Your safety and the safety of others matters above all

Buyers Are Finding More Space in the Luxury Home Market

Buyers Are Finding More Space in the Luxury Home Market | Simplifying The Market

A year ago, additional space and extra amenities had a very different feel for homebuyers. Today, the health crisis has brought to light how valuable more square footage and carefully designed floorplans can be. Home offices, multi-purpose rooms, gyms, and theaters are becoming more popular, and some families are finding the space they need for these upgrades in the luxury market.

The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM) explains:

“With quarantine concerns still top of mind for many luxury buyers, we see large, sprawling estates making their comeback.

For instance, the last six months have seen a resurgence in the buying of mega mansions and estate-size homes – specifically properties that offer space (both inside and outside), separate home offices, gyms, and private amenities such as swimming pools, yoga studios, and recreation rooms.”

This was not the case at this time last year, as the most recent Luxury Market Report from ILHM emphasizes:

“Exactly one year ago, we reported that demand for large properties, mega mansions, private estates, and luxury ranches had reduced significantly over the previous few years; especially from the younger generation of luxury property buyers.”

For today’s buyers looking for larger homes, steady increases in equity might be what makes a move possible. Leveraging home equity makes it easier to afford the down payment on a luxury home, and current low interest rates are making mortgage payments more affordable than they have been in years. The report from ILHM also notes:

“Luxury real estate prices may continue to strengthen further into the third quarter, as the affluent continue to see large investment returns from the currently strong stock market.

Coupled with the low interest rates, the policies granting (and insisting) on working from home implemented by many employers, and the concerns of the pandemic, all translate to the affluent increasingly trading in their city lifestyle for a home that has it all.”

Clearly, today’s strong gains in home equity paired with record-low interest rates make fall a great time to move up into the luxury market to meet those changing needs.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to gain some breathing room in a larger home, let’s connect so you have the guidance you need to find more space in the luxury home market.