5 Reminders to Find Joy in the Holidays

My son and Mrs. Claus at Disneyland feel the holiday joy!

5 Reminders to Find Joy in the Holiday Craziness

My son and Mrs. Claus at Disneyland feel the holiday joy!

Thanksgiving has just wrapped up, and I am looking at the calendar between now and the end of the year, and--wow.  There is so much going on! It’s hard to admit, but finding joy in the holidays can be hard.

Please note: this post may contain links or referrals.  I receive no compensation for these referrals. I simply enjoy the products/businesses, and I think you will, too.

All of end-of year tasks, celebrations and expectations can add so much pressure to our daily lives. 

On top of the general busyness, there is also all of the emotional juggling that comes with this season.  Complicated family relationships, missing loved ones we’ve lost, or learning to navigate how to be joyful when someone we care for is struggling...it can all seem like a lot, and it can start to suck away at our own joy.

So what do we do to ensure that this season of joy doesn’t become a season of stress, sadness, or tension?

Here are 5 things I try to remind myself about during the holiday season:

1. Every family member matters.

That includes you! What do YOU need this holiday season to stay sane and cheery? Speak up and share with your loved ones. They probably have the same goal of Joy for the holidays, but if you don’t communicate your needs, how will they know?

2. It’s about your presence, not the presents.

Gift giving is definitely one of my love languages, but I would never want someone to go into debt or stress about buying something. Time is our greatest commodity so being present for your loved ones is gift enough!

3. Communicate needs, expectations, and extend grace.

My husband, Josh, and I were raised very differently. When we first got married we saw just how differently we viewed Stuff, Money, and Time management. Over the years we have learned to communicate our needs and wants with each other, and we get more in sync every year. However, it has taken a LOT of grace on both our parts to find our middle ground. Extend grace to those around you this Holiday season. You’ll probably need to be given grace at some point so pay it forward friend.

My family’s holiday journey has evolved so much over the years, and just when we feel confident and grounded in our traditions, the ground shifts again and we need to readjust. Such is life.  Communication and Grace are how we move through these readjustment periods, holidays or not.

4. Leave White Space in your schedule.

Give yourself some space to breathe during this busy season. Learn how to decline events or activities. Schedule time for your priorities, so they actually happen. White Space--or time when nothing is scheduled--should absolutely be one of those priorities. Otherwise every second will be filled; that has proven to be very unhealthy for our family, so I now make it a point to block off times on our family calendar where we are “busy” being not busy. Make no apologies for doing this.

5. Serve a stranger or neighbor. 

This ties into the gift of time idea in #2. This time of year can be really hard for some people, so keep an eye out for a need, and fulfill it with no expectation of reciprocation. You may find more joy than you would expect.

Coming up with a game plan for our holidays has been instrumental in cultivating joy filled holidays for our family. As you work through the remainder of this season, remember that as long as people are involved there will always be punches to dodge, areas to be flexible, and soap boxes worth standing on. I think the key to keeping our joy is having the wisdom to know when to do what.

If you are looking for more resources on achieving a peaceful holiday season, I would highly suggest checking out Learn, Do, Becomes FREE Holiday Workshop. They have some amazing tools.

Please tell me I’m not alone! What are some steps you take during the holidays to cultivate joy?

All the best!

5 Biggest Mistakes When Selling Real Estate

Grumpy baby because they made mistakes when selling real estate

5 Biggest Mistakes When Selling Real Estate

Grumpy baby because they made mistakes when selling real estateSo, you are thinking about selling your house, and you want to know how to sell it quickly. Or is your home already on the market, but you’re not getting offers? I am here to help! This post will teach you about the 5 biggest mistakes when selling real estate, and how to avoid them so you can get those great offers to come in quickly.

But before you get to be a successful seller, you must think like a buyer.

Imagine your excitement when searching for a new home. You dream about a comfortable place to have your friends over for a birthday party, or you want to host the next family holiday event. You scroll through different properties online and decide to go see a few in person. 

Now ask yourself, “What differentiates these properties for me?” 

In other words, what helps a buyer filter through all of the properties they see online, and what compels them to see a listing in person? And even more importantly, why do they skip the listings they skip?

After decades of witnessing just about every listing faux pas, misstep, and bad marketing strategy out there, I’ve compiled this list of the 5 biggest mistakes when selling real estate. Read on to see what to avoid, and let’s get your property from one they browse online to one they are compelled to see in person!

Mistake #1: Waiting to market

In today’s social media world, there are plenty of ways to create intrigue before your house officially goes on the market. Make sure your property is marketed and targeted on social media platforms to the right audiences in a timely manner. Preliminary marketing and preparation are just as important as the actual marketing itself.  Don't know the difference? Ask your agent for their detailed marketing plan, including how they create momentum for your listing before it ever goes live in the MLS.

Mistake #2. Showing only by appointment

I gotta’ tell ya’ friend, the most common reasons a listing doesn't get shown is because there is a “by appointment only” requirement for the listing. 

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to want to show by appointment. However, if there are only a few hours each day the house is accessible to be shown, then the likelihood of the buyer viewing and making an offer on another home goes up dramatically. 

To ease the anxiety of showings, I’ve come up with a seller’s care package that cuts down on the anxiety.  There are other options besides showing by appointment and keeping a figurative open door for people to traipse through unannounced. So understand that if you require an appointment, there are some buyers that will never take them time to see your property in real life.

Mistake #3: Posting the wrong photos

A clear, beautiful picture truly is worth a thousand words. Clear, properly composed photos are critical to communicating a property’s value to prospective buyers.

And not only do you need great photos, but you need photos of the right areas! 

Places like kitchens, living rooms, and other areas of the property that stand out should be the only photos listed. You want to encourage them to come to see more, not give it all up at first glance. Strike the right balance with online images to encourage real showings of your listing.

Mistake #4: Ignoring curb appeal

Thanks to shows like Fixer Upper, the DIY craze has inspired and empowered an entire generation to take on home renovations instead of buying brand new. What this means to existing properties is that they no longer necessarily need to take a shot in the dark and guess what a buyer would want, like new floor coverings or kitchen counter tops, in order to receive offers. If a Buyer wants to remodel anyway, they likely won’t care if the house is turn-key.

But the one thing that people will notice right away and draw them to come inside to see more is the first impression. The curb appeal! 

Add some symmetry to the front porch with plants. Consider painting your door a bold, bright color. Clear out the dead shrubs, and maybe spread some grass seed. Remember: that first impression might be all you get when selling, so make it count!

Mistake #5. Not working with a professional

Everyone knows someone who sells real estate. The threshold for entry into the field in Washington State is very low. If you’re serious about selling your property for top dollar, work with someone who has a heart to serve, and the background to cover your ASSet. If you have a friend that is a real estate agent you are considering, check out my list of the 5 questions you should ask yourself before working with a friend or family member.

Here’s the deal: if you want to sell your property for top dollar, you need to speak with someone who can reduce your anxiety, help you take calculated risks, and bring you from just another property on the market to a property that will actually sell. 

Think you’re ready to make the jump and get your home listed to sell?

Get the 7 secrets to a stress free transaction here!

All the best!

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

1

6 STEPS TO BECOMING A HOMEOWNER

Learn what it takes to achieve your Real Estate goals & invest in your future.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Why Fall & Winter are the Best Time to Buy a Home

Fall and winter can be the best time to buy a home to realize substantial savings.

Why Fall & Winter are the Best Time to Buy a Home

Fall and winter can be the best time to buy a home to realize substantial savings.I am often asked, “When is the best time to buy a home?”

First and foremost, I want to be clear that the best time to buy is when you can afford it. With that being said, I consider fall and winter to be the best time to buy for one big reason: Money! 

Read on to find out why the fall and winter are great times to capture some savings.  

Sellers are more motivated

The sellers that listed their property too high in the summer are now creeping into the fall season with new inventory nipping at their heels. This can often make them more motivated to sell.

Find a house that has been on the market for 90+ days and you may reap huge savings. Some buyers think there must be something wrong with a property that has been sitting on the market for that long. The fact is it was probably listed it too high to begin with! This type of listing is a perfect candidate for a strategic offer.

You can see the issues

When the rain is here, and the snow is knocking on the door, you will be able to see issues that may not have appeared during the drier seasons.

During the spring and summer, it can be easy to get distracted by the beautiful landscaping and look over some of the structural issues. Things like broken window sills, issues with mold, water damage, and any sort of roof problems will be much easier to spot during the fall and winter, which can save you a lot of headaches and money later on.

Home decor is on sale

More likely than not, there will be some improvements or amenities you’ll want to add to your new home.

Appliances, TV’s, security systems, and all sorts of other discounts are easily found during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. September is the best time to get a great value on new carpet. Outdoor equipment, such as lawn mowers, is typically on sale in October. The best time to buy appliances is in November. January brings fantastic sales on home organization supplies.

Regardless of when and if you decide to buy a home, it’s important to do plenty of research before you make a purchase. Check out my free Buyer’s Guide below to see all the information you need to take the next step. 

Did you buy a home in the fall or winter? If so, let us know what your experience was in the comments below.

All the best!

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

1

6 STEPS TO BECOMING A HOMEOWNER

Learn what it takes to achieve your Real Estate goals & invest in your future.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Live on a Budget: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned

Hands counting cash as if evaluating if they have the funds in their budget for a purchase

3 Tips to Live on a Budget

Hands counting cash as if evaluating if they have the funds in their budget for a purchaseI want to take a minute to talk to my younger self about her spending habits. I want to tell her to ignore the curated images of social media influencers, and to stop browsing the Pinterest boards of seasonal fashion styles and home decor. To ignore that pull to keep up with trends, and to instead save her money. To stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, to take advantage of the time she has to save (compound interest anyone?!), and to live on a budget. 

Budget. 

I know that word can seem scary. It sounds like going without, and sometimes that is exactly what it means.  But it also means security for the future. And trust me, young Carmen, that is what you want.   

Please note: this post may contain links or referrals.  I receive no compensation for these referrals. I simply enjoy the products/businesses, and I think you will, too!

Before I dive in to some financial lessons I’ve learned that have changed my relationship with money--and got me to think very differently about living on a budget--I want to say this: there are so many resources out there to guide you on how to live on a budget.  If you don't have a budget and need guidance on how to start, I’d encourage you to check out Rachel Cruze. She has a lot of money saving hacks and very fun videos to help inspire you.  

Now, some of my own biggest financial lessons that help me live on a budget:

Floor Space is Money

Anxiety from my cluttered house hit me hard about 14 months ago.  As I looked around I realized that all this stuff used to be money! Not only had I paid for my possessions when I first purchased them, I continued to pay for them every month in floor space.  

Yep, I did the math and realized that I was literally paying in price-per-square foot each month to store all of my stuff, stuff that was causing my family anxiety and needless work. Finally, after five times (Yes. Five times.) of reading the Marie Kondo’s Joy of Tidying Up, the lessons started to sink in. 

Think about your floor space as if you were paying price per square foot, because guess what: YOU ARE! Home prices and rental rates are calculated on a price per square foot basis, so the more stuff you have, the bigger space you need, and the more you pay.

And it’s not just your living space. Have you seen all of the storage facilities going up? Even though the average home square footage has increased over the last 50 years, we have more stuff than ever before, and a lot of us are willing to pay to store it. 

There is nothing wrong with having a storage unit or having fun things, but I challenge you to rehome anything you have stored that you haven't used at least once in the last 12 months. Think about your purchases from here on out in terms of floor space.  Live with less clutter, and you’ll save money.

Calculate Purchases in Time, Not Money

We have all heard the phrase “Time is money.”  It’s a cliche but it is absolutely true. Unless you are independently wealthy and living on a trust fund, you trade your time for money. That’s what a job is--an exchange of your time for currency. 

Therefore, when you spend the money you have earned at work, you are indirectly trading your time for an item or experience.  So do the math. How many hours of your time are you trading to have this new pair of shoes? How long did you have to work last month to pay for those concert tickets? Is that new jacket really worth one full day of work?  

Set your priorities, and spend your money--and your time--only on what really matters to you. 

For everything else that really doesn’t matter to you, either pass on the purchase or, if you must have it, find ways to get it cheaper. Generic products cost an average of 30% less than brand-name products, and often have the same quality as name brands.  For instance, Kirkland Signature batteries, the generic brand at Costco, are made by Duracell! And if generic brand medicine is good enough for 90% of pharmacists and doctors, then they are good enough for me, too.

Dream Big & Save Big

A while back I had a client who lived a very modest life. Simple clothes, unassuming car. There was nothing flashy about him. 

He was also investing in real estate with cold, hard cash, and getting a huge savings because of it. 

He told me that the key to having a liquid savings account is to put money into my savings account before I pay anything or anyone else. Pay yourself first. This mindset, and modest living, helped him save big and achieve his dreams.

And you can bet that he did so with a budget.  A budget lets you turn big dreams into reality. 

What are some of your big dreams? Do you have a budget that works to help you achieve them? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

If one of your big dreams involves buying or selling a home, let’s chat!

And if you're budget game is already on point and you're ready to start the Buying process, be sure to download my Buyer's Guide below for all the information you need to know about the buying process.

All the best,

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

1

6 STEPS TO BECOMING A HOMEOWNER

Learn what it takes to achieve your Real Estate goals & invest in your future.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

5 Winter Garden Tips to Prepare for a Beautiful Spring

Bulbs begin to erupt from the soil in a late winter garden

5 Winter Garden Tips to Prepare for a Beautiful Spring

Bulbs begin to erupt from the soil in a late winter gardenIt's not unusual for someone to ask me about my yard. If you haven't learned by now, I'll let you in on the secret: I LOVE to garden! One thing I am asked about a lot is what to do in the yard each season.  So today I'm revealing some of my tricks. Read on for my five easy tips to prepare your winter garden beds for a beautiful spring.

Oh, and don't forget to grab your copy of the downloadable checklist I've created just for you!

Please note: this post may contain links or referrals.  I receive no compensation for these referrals. I simply enjoy the products/businesses, and I think you will, too!

1. Prune

Plants like hostas, delphinium, lupine, and other slug attractors should be cut down all the way to the ground so that the slugs can't lay eggs under the leaves. You'll also want to prune back any diseased tree limbs. However, pruning perennials such as ornamental grasses, lilac, and fruit trees should typically be reserved for the spring.

A flower bed filled with late-summer growth, ready for a winter prune.

2. Prevent Weed Germination

Weeding is not nearly as fun as harvesting. Use products like Organic Preen for a natural and organic way to prevent weed seed germination. Once our garden beds are pruned back, I sprinkle a decent amount on the bare soil to prevent any crabgrass, dandelions, clover, and other common weeds from germinating. I also sprinkle a layer of it on top of newly laid mulch.

3. Mulch

A lot of bulbing plants and flowers will die back over the winter. If you want these beautiful plants to return better than when you originally planted them, cut back the dying part, and then cover them with a thin layer of leaves. Adding too much could cause rot, so I like to gather the fallen leaves from our neighborhood and tuck my plants in for the winter. This will protect them from the frost.

A flower bed that has had its pre-winter pruning and mulch to be set for a beautiful spring.

4. Fertilize

Cut your lawn for the last time until next spring, and lay some slow release fertilizer. This will feed the grass throughout the winter and make it ready to start growing strong again first thing in the spring.

5. Plant

The PNW can be tricking for planting. Bulbs are an economical way to go, and a lot of them can be planted in the fall/early winter in order for the roots to set. Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and garlic are the perfect bulbs to plant right now for an early spring crop.

You can find all of these materials at your local nursery.  If you’re in the Pierce County area, check out one of my all time favorite nurseries, Watson’s in Puyallup. 

None of these tasks are difficult or expensive, and they will help you be ahead of the game and prepare you for a beautiful spring.  

Do you have any tips to add? I'd love to hear them.

Download your FREE Checklist of my easy Winter Garden Tips, and be on your way to a beautiful spring today! 

All the best!