Why is Natural Black Hair Still Seen as “Unprofessional”?

Now that we are returning to the office, it is time to talk about the racism behind what is considered correct office attire.

When you google “unprofessional hair for work,” most of the results show black women with their natural hair. Check “professional hairstyles,” and you will find mainly coiffed white women. This has been the case for years, it was first called out on Twitter by @HereroRocher.

The only change today is that amongst the top results you also find references to articles about @Hererorocher’s tweet.

While some people suggested that the results show the racism of the Google algorithm, in reality, it seems more likely that the results are a mirror of the opinions of society at large.

For much of Western history, naturally curly black hair has been deemed unprofessional or even dirty, seen as a sign of laziness and lack of personal grooming, especially in places of work.

Only last year did the US Army revise its regulations on grooming and appearance, including a ban on dreadlocks. Until then, black women were not allowed to wear their natural hair on the job.

Some companies have even fired employees for the way their hair looked. Brittany Noble, a former TV news anchor in Mississippi, started wearing her hair naturally after she became pregnant with her son. Ater only a month, her news director asked her to change her hairstyle back to her previous look because it was “unprofessional.”

“One day, my boss said, hey, look, the real problem is your hair. It’s unprofessional. It was the equivalent of me wearing a baseball cap to go to the grocery store, and that viewers needed to see a beauty queen,” she told PBS. “It felt like, not only were you telling me that my hair was unprofessional. You’re telling the people in our community, the people that look like me that our hair is unprofessional, that our look is unprofessional. I didn’t feel like I could vocalize my feelings at the time. But it certainly hurt.”

She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and, a month later, she was fired. The EEOC said it couldn’t determine whether there had been discrimination. Last year, Noble sued the station’s parent company for race discrimination. The case is still ongoing.

Discrimination because of black hair is also present in schools. In 2018, a referee in New Jersey forced a high school wrestler to cut off his locs before competing in a match. Last year in Texas, another high-school student was suspend, and told he couldn’t walk at his graduation ceremony because his locs were “too long.”

2020 research from Duke University confirmed that bias against natural hair limits job opportunities for Black women. The study showed that Black women with natural hair were seen as less competent and professional than black women with straight hair, white women with curly hair, and white women with straight hair. They were also not recommended as frequently for interviews, according to the study authors.

Black women speak up about hair-based discrimination

Like Noble, many women have started talking about the hostile reactions they have faced due to their natural hair.

Thobe Mak, a salon manager at Sheldeez Salon told PBS about how her black clients are afraid to wear their hair naturally:

“A lot of times, when we talk to our clients who are in the corporate setting, most of the conversations are along the lines of: I’m in a predominantly non-Black environment, so I can’t go in looking like my hair is not being taken care of, because there seems to be that assumption or that bias that, if you have natural hair, you’re not taking care of it.”

Minda Harts, CEO of The Memo LLC, a career development company for women of color, told

“The careers of many Black women have been deferred due to discrimination around our hair … I remember having a conversation with a white woman who is a recruiter for board placements. She told me flat-out that she will only advance Black women with straight hair as potential nominees for board placement because she knows her clients will perceive them as more professional.”

22-year-old Nyria told Shape::

“In 10th grade, my high school exposed us to year-long internships around the city. We completed applications and interviews; I thought I truly aced all of them, but when it was time to review my feedback, the majority of it was about my professional attire. I was so confused because I had worn typical corporate attire: blazer, blouse, long black pants, comfortable working flats, minimal jewelry. What was wrong? And then it hit me: Was it my hair? (…) Because I was such a people-pleaser in high school, I caved and decided to take my twists out and wore a weave to my next interview; low and behold, I got the internship at a local children’s hospital.”

Jodi, aged 31, also shared her experience of a job interview where she was called out because of her hair:

“I was prepared, qualified, and the interviewer and I had built an amazing rapport. Mid-way through the laughter and me feeling super confident the interviewer paused abruptly and said, ‘Jodi only thing is for the final interview I think you should push your hair back. I mean I get it and I love your look but it’s a bit much.’ I never got the invite to the final interview or any formal feedback but I always wonder who I would have been able to become if I was given the opportunity.”

At her interview, Yelitsa didn’t explicitly get called out on her hair, but felt like her white interviewer had some discomfort with her appearance:

“I once went to an interview with red Havana twists that went down my back. No less than four times throughout the 30-minute interview for a design role, the white female owner pointedly stated and asked if I was comfortable with them running a background check. “

22-year-old Kimberly said:

“I’ve always felt weird when wearing my natural hair in white spaces. Whether it was at an interview or at work, I felt as if all eyes were on me. One summer while working in an office, I was the only Black woman there. I always felt uncomfortable because I felt like I didn’t belong or fit in. At times when I would be sitting, minding my own business, my coworkers would ask me questions about my hair. They would say things like, ‘I like your hair, how long is it when you straighten it?’ and ‘How come it’s so short?’ I couldn’t react the way I wanted to because then I’d be labeled as angry, so I just left to do other things.”

Some women avoid wearing their natural hair because of the attention it provokes, even if it isn’t necessarily negative.

Receptionist Etsa told Essence:

“ I don’t like the unwanted conversations my curly hair invites — either from well-intended non-Black people who gawk and ask too many questions about maintenance, or even from brainwashed Black men who make ignorant comments about my hair or assumptions about what it means about my personality.”

Now that we’re going back to the office, it is a good time to question these racist stereotypes

It is time to recognize that discrimination against black people’s natural hair is just the same as discriminating against skin tone.

Some states have already passed laws banning hair-based discrimination.

The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” was elaborated by Drexel University Law Professor Wendy Greene with legislators around the country, and first introduced in 2019. It’s a law that bans discrimination in workplaces and schools against hair textures or styles linked to racial identity. Eight states, including California, Connecticut, New York and Washington, have already passed the act, in addition to a handful of cities and counties. A federal version of the CROWN Act passed the House of Representatives last year, but was stalled in the Senate.

While this is a good step, it is not enough, because much hair-based discrimination happens at the level of our subconscious. Recruiters may not even know that a candidate appears less competent, in their eyes, because of their hair. We make split-second decisions based on deeply ingrained stereotypes. To fight it, companies need to raise awareness amongst recruiters and employees, and we all need to consciously strive to rewrite our unconscious biases.

Written by Stark Raving-starkraving.medium.com

Stark Raving

Unemployment Is Really Low. So Why Can’t These People Find Jobs?

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Nathan Bonds’ breaking point came after 19 months of unemployment, 23 interviews, and 200 applications.

His résumé had been rejected by a string of minimum wage jobs—including the local L.L. Bean and J. Crew outlets—and Bonds, who lives in Cranston, R.I., was scraping by on temporary construction work. By the time a friend offered him a $10-an-hour delivery gig, he could barely afford rent—much less the fees needed to update his license. So he didn’t get that job either.

“That was my lowest point,” the 41-year-old father of five says. “It was like my life was in a vise, and I could not move forward.”

Bonds, a former quality manager at a manufacturing plant, is a highly skilled worker in an industry in need of highly skilled workers. His long bout of unemployment, and his struggle to find work even at minimum wage, flies in the face of the stellar jobs reports that have dominated headlines over the past several years.

It’s also not that uncommon.

As of April 2017, 1.6 million unemployed Americans have been out of work for six months or longer, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly a million have been jobless for over a year.

“Long-term unemployment,” as it’s called, isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2010, it peaked at 6.8 million and has been trending downward in the wake of the recession. But those numbers offer little comfort to the 22.6% of jobless Americans who fall into that category today—a ratio that remains stubbornly high compared to pre-crisis levels.

Ever since economists started tracking this figure in 1948, the share of long-term unemployed to total unemployed has topped 20% only at the height of a recession or in its direct aftermath. If the official unemployment rate included the millions of people working part-time because they can’t find full-time work, or those who want to work but haven’t looked for a job in at least four weeks, the ranks of long-term unemployed would be even higher.

Now experts worry that a large percentage of long-term job seekers have been pushed out of the market completely — and that the new presidential administration is ill-equipped to rope them back in.

“It’s uncharted territory to have this level of long-term unemployment this far out of recession,” says Ofer Sharone, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies employment trends. “Something new is going on, making it harder for people who have been out of the market for a long time.”

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s keeping people out of work for so long, but economists have a few theories.

Hiring discrimination is one possibility. Often, job seekers with long career gaps face inherent bias from employers, who assume their skills are rusty or that they are otherwise unemployable. On top of that, new technology, like applicant tracking systems that sort through the high volume of résumés each job posting receives, can negatively impact the long-term unemployed. Certain screens, like those that ask applicants for dates of employment, can filter out candidates who have been looking for work for many months.

“Bias happens all the time,” says Linda Sharkey, coauthor of The Future-Proof Workplace and an HR expert who has overseen hiring for companies like HP and GE Capital. “If someone doesn’t show employment for a period of time, their application can get kicked out, never to see the light of day.”

Another commonly cited culprit is the so-called skills gap, the idea that millions of jobs go unfilled because of the disparity between the skills employers want and those applicants have. Not everyone agrees that such a gap exists, and there’s a range of opinions about how to fix it among those who do. If the gap does exist, though, the long-term jobless are more likely to fall into it, says Princeton economist Alan Krueger.

“Skills deteriorate the longer job seekers are out of the workplace,” Krueger says. “That often leads the long-term unemployed to face particular difficulties.”

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Whatever the reason, mounds of research show that the odds of landing a new job are demonstrably harder for the long-term unemployed than it is for others. One study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston says a job seeker’s chances of finding work drop dramatically after six months of unemployment. Another study from the Brookings Institution—led by Krueger and two other researchers—found that after 15 months, the long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely to have left the market as to have settled into steady, full-time work.

Older workers are at a particular disadvantage, says Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of the Bridgeport, Conn., jobs development group The WorkPlace.

“If you’re 50 or older, you face an almost impenetrable wall of discrimination,” he says. “Companies have a very narrow view of what they want. When you walk into an interview with a lot of gray hair, it’s usually over very quickly.”

For 60-year-old Stephen Wayman of Landing, N.J., who has two degrees in mechanical engineering and more than 20 years of experience, the gap on his résumé is like a scarlet letter. Wayman lost his job as director of facilities and real estate in 2015 and has struggled to find another one. To keep busy, he teaches a class on project management at a local university and takes online courses in computer programming.

“I’ve been asked, Why should we hire you when we have other applicants who haven’t been out of work?,” he says. “I tell them I’ve been using this opportunity to learn new things. I have new knowledge of computer science; I’ve gotten into teaching.”

These interviews go well, or he thinks they do, but he has yet to get an offer.

“Who knows what people really think, and why they don’t bring you on,” he says. “I suspect younger [hiring managers] don’t give me the benefit of the doubt.”

Wayman doesn’t have young children to provide for, but he’s living off his pension and savings account—something he didn’t plan on doing at age 60. But more than the lack of a salary, Wayman misses having an opportunity to grow.

“I feel like I have a lot of gas left in the tank,” he says.

Nathan Bonds’ story has a happy ending.

In March, he landed a role as a project manager for the manufacturing consultancy Polaris MEP, with help from Platform to Employment (P2E)—a program from Carbone’s The WorkPlace, which uses government and private funding for job training and wage-subsidy efforts.

Other workforce agencies, like the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training—whose Real Jobs RI program gives companies grants to hire and train job seekers—rely heavily on a mix of state and federal funds. Bonds’ new employer benefits from such funding.

If President Trump’s federal budget passes as proposed, states will be forced to do more with less. Workforce agencies, job centers, and ultimately the long-term unemployed could suffer.

Under the administration’s most recent 2018 budget proposal, the Department of Labor would lose $2.4 billion, or 19.8% of its operating budget.

The budget specifically calls for less federal support for job training and employment service formula grants, a move that puts the core programs at more than 2,500 American Job Centers at risk. Those centers provide a range of free services for all job seekers, like career counseling, résumé building, and job-search assistance. Some centers also provide specific outreach and coaching for the long-term unemployed and space for long-term-unemployment development groups to meet.

A number of additional grants that fall under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed by President Obama in 2014 and funds state programs for dislocated workers, would also be reduced.

The proposal also decimates federal funding for the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a private-public partnership that helps small and midsize manufacturers like Bonds’ new employer compete.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

In addition to the cuts, the budget blueprint does expand some programs designed to assist the unemployed, like the Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment program, which helps people receiving unemployment benefits reenter the workforce.

The president’s proposal isn’t set in stone. But it does shine a light on what long-term unemployment could look like in the Trump era—and it’s very different from what was promised on the campaign trail.

In a July 2016 tweet, then-candidate Trump acknowledged that long-term unemployment is indeed a problem (“We are suffering through the worst long-term unemployment in the last 70 years. I want change—Crooked Hillary Clinton does not”). But experts say his actions prove otherwise.

“The message that comes across is we don’t care,” Carbone says. “A lot of the folks who need assistance to help overcome barriers to opportunity are just not going to get it.”

The mundane, day-to-day scripts that dictate a modern job hunt—online applications, follow-up emails, résumé updates—can be particularly draining for the long-term unemployed. For many, the mystery of why they’re rejected is a confusing constant.

Karen Johnson, 47, is running on fumes.

In 2015, Johnson’s executive legal position was cut from the technology company she had worked at for 10 years. At first the Washington, D.C., resident wasn’t worried.

“I thought it was going to be easy,” she says. “I hadn’t looked for a job in 20 years. I didn’t get it at all.”

Since then, Johnson has applied to a range of positions, but nothing has materialized. Her family’s resources are thinning—her iPhone is duct-taped together (“I’m afraid to spend money on it,” she says), and her daughter, a senior in high school, is taking a gap year before college until the family gets back on its feet.

Johnson is an optimist, but she’s starting to burn out. It’s frustrating to spend two decades climbing the career ladder—working nights, weekends, and through every vacation—with little to show for it. As a black woman, Johnson is worried she faces an extra layer of discrimination in a job market that’s already stacked against her.

For now, Johnson is updating her résumé with a skill set worthy of today’s landscape. She’s learning to code and is practicing soldering, welding, and laser cutting at a local do-it-yourself community “makerspace.” She’s the proud owner of a new 3D printer.

But she feels uncertain about the future. Johnson watches how our new President talks about jobs and how blue-collar workers are driving the conversation. So far there’s been no message from the top about the highly skilled, highly educated workers who are also struggling to make ends meet. That troubles her.

“Where do I go?” she says. “I’m not going to be a coal miner.”

By:Kristen Bahler Money

What Does It Mean To Be ‘House Poor’ Or ‘House Broke’ And How Can You Avoid It?

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Buying a house is a bit like choosing a spouse. If you’ve chosen well, it can be a match made in heaven. But if you’ve gotten carried away on a romantic whim or have been oversold on the benefits of the match, unhappiness can ensue.

The expressions “house poor” and “house broke” refer to the situation where homeowners have bought homes beyond their means. They end up spending all their income on repairs and expenses, forgoing vacations and discretionary spending. Instead of being your sanctuary, your home becomes your albatross.

In this article, we’ll talk about what it means to be house poor and the problems associated with it. After discussing how people come to be house poor, we’ll go over how to avoid it and what to do if you already find yourself in this situation.

‘House Poor’ Defined

When someone is house broke, it means that they’re spending too much of their total monthly income on homeownership expenses such as monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance, utilities and insurance. This excess spending makes it difficult or impossible for them to achieve their other financial or personal goals.

You may be consistently making your house payment and paying for life’s necessities, but there’s not much leftover at the end of the month for you to enjoy. In the plainest of English, you’re broke.

You can be house poor regardless of your household income if you’re spending too much on your home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a middle-income wage earner living in the Midwest or a multimillionaire with a Brooklyn brownstone. If the bulk of your income is  spent on your home, it can prevent you from achieving your long-term financial objectives, or worse, make you resent the home that stands in the way of a lifestyle you enjoy.

So consider your preapproval amount as merely a starting point for your home affordability calculation. If you’re just beginning your home buying journey, it’s important to get preapproved as a first step. With your preapproval letter in hand, you can begin working with an agent on finding your next home as you refine your budget.

And if you already own your home, refinancing to a longer term might just be the solution you need to lower your mortgage payment and relieve the financial stress of too-high monthly mortgage payments.

What Does It Mean To Be House Poor?

Your home is your castle. It’s the place where you’ll raise your family, welcome friends and make memories that last a lifetime. There’s also no denying that a home can be a major financial asset as part of your wealth and investment portfolio. With that investment, some monthly cost is worth the long-term benefits. However, the problem comes from overdoing it.

Your house and the expenses that go with it still represent only one piece of your monthly budget. Becoming house poor can affect your ability to save for retirement, pay off debt or afford other purchases. It can create feelings of stress and anxiety around your finances and make you feel as if you’re only one setback away from financial disaster. These problems can even put a strain on your relationships and your mental well-being.

How Do People Become House Poor?

Buying a home can be an exciting prospect. Maybe you’ve prequalified for a mortgage so you think you know the top end of your budget. You also have a checklist of everything you want in your house and you’ve found one that has it all – but it’s an older home that takes you right up to your preapproval limit.

Let’s consider Ryan, who is seeking preapproval. They’re an avid amateur equestrian who is looking for a home. Their lender won’t know this about them. But they’ll certainly need to figure their horse-related expenses into their monthly budget and not merely rely on the lender’s preapproval unless they’re prepared to give up this aspect of their life in service to the mortgage debt or the home’s needed repairs.

Ryan could be an avid foodie who likes to enjoy trendy new restaurants at least once a month. Or someone who likes to travel. Whatever it is that you still plan on doing after you become a homeowner, make sure you factor that into the post-new-house budget you create to compare to the amount you are preapproved for.

Before making an offer on that home that may stretch your ability to afford the payment or make necessary renovations, you should take a second to reassess whether you want to risk your lifestyle by making yourself house poor. Remember, when you apply for mortgage preapproval, lenders only know you by your numbers. They don’t know how you like to live.

So, consider preapproval as the first step of a lengthy process which ends when you move into your new home. But it’s an important first step because it lets real estate agents and home sellers know you’re a serious buyer.

And if you thought the preapproval amount was the upper limit of your budget when you purchased your home, you can likely right-size your monthly mortgage payment by refinancing your mortgage.

Becoming House Poor: The Costs Of Homeownership

Now that we know what it means to be house poor, how do people get that way in the first place? First-time homeowners may simply not plan beyond the costs of buying a house – and the down payment and closing costs are just the start of the lifelong expenses of owning a home.

But the costs of owning a home are significant and you should include them when you’re creating your house buying budget. More than the monthly mortgage payment goes into buying a home.

Homeownership Costs

It’s a good idea to do research on future household expenses before moving forward with a home purchase so that you’re not surprised in a big way.

Many expenses may cost more than you think they will, so the more you know going in, the better you can be prepared. If you’re moving from an apartment or condo to a single-family house, you may be shocked when you get your first utility bill, which may be higher than you’ve been paying for a smaller home. Don’t forget to factor in costs like increased transportation expenses or services like landscaping or snow removal.

On top of the greater expense, there’s just a lot more of them. For example, if you’re moving from a city apartment where you dispose of garbage through a chute, you’ll have to buy garbage cans and bags. If you’ve never had to think about the garbage cans, you may be surprised to learn their cost and how many you’ll need. Also, you’ll need items like shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows and household tools for basic lawn maintenance and repairs. It adds up quickly.

Here are some of the big-ticket expenses beyond the mortgage to think about.

Property Taxes

Although these are usually included in your monthly mortgage payment along with homeowners insurance if you have an escrow account, one of the important things to realize is that your mortgage lender is preapproving you based on an estimated initial property tax.

This is one of the biggest items that changes after you buy a home. Your home’s previous owner disclosed what they had been paying based on the home’s assessed value. If you paid significantly more than their assessed value, your taxes rise accordingly because your purchase price becomes the new assessed value of the home.

Visit the website of the property taxing authority where your new home is located to find out exactly what your tax bill will be after purchase, whether there are any property tax rate hikes on the horizon and how often property values are assessed.

Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees

If the home you’re considering is located within a homeowners association, you’ll have to pay HOA fees in addition to property taxes and homeowners insurance. Unlike these other expenses, though, HOA fees are not included in an escrow account and aren’t part of your monthly mortgage payment.

Because of this, they can be easy to forget until they become due. They also tend to rise over time. There can also be special assessments to meet major maintenance costs. Check the homeowners association meeting minutes for at least the past year to see if there are any plans for major maintenance on the horizon.

If you fail to stay current on your HOA fees, you may face penalties and interest rates on those fees. If you don’t pay, eventually you’ll have a lien placed on your property which will make it difficult to refinance or sell your home.

Maintenance Expenses

Something is eventually going to break in your home. While it’s impossible to say when, you can make some educated guesses based on how old the home is and when major systems, the roof and any included appliances were last replaced. Maintenance costs are often between 1 – 3% of the purchase price of your home each year. Whether you can expect to be at the low or high end of that range often depends on the age of your home.

If you’d prefer to have a stable home maintenance cost that handles unforeseen contingencies, you may want to consider a home warranty or, in a buyer’s market, ask the seller to include a home warranty with the purchase.

Becoming House Poor: Changes In Circumstances

No one ever plans for it, but the fact is that one day we may all lose our jobs unexpectedly, or we could become ill or disabled and unable to work.  These things can ruin your best-laid plans. Whatever the case, you’re going to be in a better position for the future if you’re not stretching your budget to the max in order to pay housing expenses.

How Can I Avoid Becoming House Poor?

If you’re thinking about buying a home, first create your post-home buying budget. Make sure you include line items for things you love and do not want to give up. By all means get a handle on your mindless spending, but don’t plan on giving up everything you love when you buy a house or you’re going to come to resent your home.

Consider buying a starter home or a condo if you’re not yet ready to give up your lifestyle in favor of owning your forever home. Starter homes and condos tend to be smaller in size and closer to urban centers, which tends to reduce transportation costs.

Don’t forget – you’ll have to join a condo association, which is the same thing as an HOA, so you’ll have to factor that cost. But you won’t be responsible for any outdoor maintenance, and you might even be able to cut some of your current expenses, like a gym membership, if that amenity is included in your condo fees.

You can consider turning your starter home into a rental home when you’re ready to move, so it can become a source of income as well.

Another option is to opt for a longer-term mortgage, like a 30-year versus a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Your monthly payments will be far lower, although you’ll pay more in interest. Once you’re comfortable with your monthly mortgage payment or are able to remove private mortgage insurance, you can refinance into the shorter term.

Finally, if you’re not planning on staying in the home more than 5 years, consider an adjustable-rate mortgage with a low introductory interest rate. Plan to sell or refinance before the introductory period ends.

Avoiding The Poor House: What Percentage Of My Income Should Be Allocated Toward Housing?

While it would be foolish to say that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to the right amount for a housing budget, there are a variety of methods you can use to help you determine how much you should realistically spend on a home. We’ll cover a couple of them here. The most important rule of all is to create a post-home buying budget that is realistic and reflects your lifestyle priorities and backing into a monthly mortgage payment and household maintenance budget that you can make 

The 28% Rule Of Thumb

The 28% rule is a general guideline that says you should try to spend no more than 28% of your monthly gross income on housing expenses. To determine what your monthly homeownership budget should be under this rule, simply multiply your monthly income by 28%.

The idea is to give you room in your budget so that you’re not pushing the limits. It’s worth noting that sticking to a hard 28% limit for yourself may be tougher given the expense of some housing markets where home prices are extremely high. For example, those in the Big Apple or Silicon Valley may find it impossible.

One recent factor that may help mitigate this is that the forced nature of working from home in the time of COVID-19 has caused companies to reevaluate how often and if their employees need to be in the office. Because of this, you may find that you can live further out in the suburbs or even rural areas away from big city centers, which could help with affordability.

Debt-To-Income Ratio (DTI)

Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) compares the amount spent on monthly installment and revolving debt payments to your gross (pretax) monthly income. DTI is what lenders use to determine the amount of your mortgage approval.

There are two different types of DTI. Back-end DTI is what’s most often used in lending approvals. This compares all of your minimum monthly debt payments, including your mortgage, to gross monthly income. Meanwhile, front-end DTI (or housing expense ratio) compares just your monthly mortgage payment to your income. This is also sometimes used in lending.

Experts recommend that your front-end DTI be no higher than 36%. For some loans, you may need this number to be even lower depending on your situation. The housing expense ratio can be a useful number to help make sure that you’re not spending a ton of money on the house at the expense of other efforts.

Once all of your other data is added in, you can be approved for a loan with a DTI as high as 60% if it’s a VA loan. For the best chance of approval on many other products though, it’s generally recommended that you keep your DTI at around 43% or lower.

DTI can be a useful metric in determining just how much house you can afford when making an offer. It’s just important that you don’t go to the very top end of your budget. Try to think about your expenses holistically.

What Should I Do If I’m Already House Poor?

If you’re feeling house poor right now, the best way to get yourself out of that situation is to lower your expenses or raise your income. In the next few sections, we’ll look at the expense portion of the equation before touching on income.

Refinance Your Home

Home values have generally been going up across most of the country, so you may have more equity in your home than you think. If you’ve done any renovations, this also has the impact of increasing the value of your home. However you get there, having more equity in your home means less risk for lenders. This can translate into a lower rate when you refinance your mortgage.

Besides lowering your rate, you could refinance into a longer term. If you were in a 15-year mortgage, and lost your job five years into your repayment, you could refinance your remaining 10 years of repayment into a 30-year fixed loan to significantly lower your monthly mortgage payment. It could allow you more room in your budget. You could also choose to put more toward your payment to pay off the loan sooner if there came a time when you had more money available.

Sell Your Home

If you feel you can no longer comfortably afford the home you have, another option is to sell your home and downsize. On one hand, you might be leaving your dream home, permanently or temporarily. On the other hand, you’ll have the financial peace of knowing you’re now in a home you can afford. It’s an option to consider if you’re reassessing your finances.

Limit All Discretionary Spending

If you’ve experienced a recent financial shock like a job loss or unexpected big bill, you may be able to help yourself by limiting or eliminating discretionary spending for a while. Budget only for the things you must have.

This definitely isn’t fun, but it may be a necessary measure for you to take until a long-term solution is in place and the urgency that led to an austerity budget has passed.

Use Your Savings

If you’re really struggling, tapping emergency savings in the event of a shock could be a necessary short-term stopgap measure until you can get on better footing in the long term. While this isn’t something that should be taken lightly, emergency funds are kept up for the purpose of temporary crises.

This is generally a better solution than missing payments on a home or car, particularly if you’re trying to preserve credit in the event that the long-term solution is to refinance your current mortgage or downsize into a different home. Your best bet is to contact your lender, explain your circumstances, and work out a loan forbearance and repayment plan.

Raise Your Income

While it’s definitely true that it’s easier said than done, there are steps you can take to raise your income. When put together with sensible spending limitations, this could give you more security in being able to afford your home.

Ask For A Raise

It may seem intimidating to ask for a raise, but there’s no reason to feel guilty for asking to be paid what you’re worth. The worst they can do is say no, freeing you to begin looking for higher-paid employment.

If you can make a good case, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Be prepared to back your case for a raise with strong evidence of your performance and how it’s driven success across your team, department and even the company. The more you can make yourself seem like an irreplaceable contributor, the better.

Get A Second Job

If a raise isn’t in the cards, another viable way to boost your income might be a second job. Although this may not sound appealing, COVID-19 has only accelerated the trend toward the gig economy that started a few years ago.

It could be something like personal shopping or food delivery. You might also be able to pick up freelance work you can do from home on sites like Fiverr or Upwork. These opportunities make it even easier to pick up extra money while working on a flexible schedule that accommodates your current career goals.

The Bottom Line: Being House Poor Can Make You Resent The Home You Love

While your home is both your place in the world and a significant asset in your financial portfolio, you shouldn’t spend so much that you’re house poor, having to put aside every other financial and personal goal in order to make your house payment. If you do this, you may have a hard time enjoying life in your home because you can’t save for retirement or family vacations, for example.

Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham is a Senior Blog Writer for Rocket Companies. He specializes in economics, mortgage qualification and personal finance topics. As someone with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia that requires the use of a wheelchair, he also takes on articles around modifying your home for physical challenges and smart home tech. Kevin has a BA in Journalism from Oakland University. Prior to joining Rocket Mortgage, he freelanced for various newspapers in the Metro Detroit area.

Gold Gowns, Lace Necklines, and 5 More Wedding Dress Trends from Spring 2024 Bridal Fashion Week

Photo by Jrfotosgrand Fotografia on Pexels.com

This season showcased reimagined styles on classic designs.


Corinne Pierre-Louis

Corinne Pierre-Louis Brides editor headshot

There’s nothing more exciting than watching our favorite designers release their newest collections during Bridal Fashion Week. From ethereal flowing ball gowns to dresses made with the most luxurious of fabrics, each season brings a range of designs that set the tone for wedding fashion aesthetics years after a brand’s initial debut. Specifically, it’s these releases that have the ability to change the course of bridalwear and establish trends that define a generation.

As it relates to trends from the Spring 2024 season, designers opted to lean into a few new styles while continuing to stay true to the underlying ethos of bridal fashion. For instance, brands like Theia and Amsale presented sumptuous ball gowns reimagined with contemporary sculptural skirts, while LEIN and Viktor & Rolf constructed ensembles with expert craftsmanship and tailoring at the forefront. We also saw the return of drop-waist silhouettes, pin-thin spaghetti straps, and sheer lace fabrications, long-standing design elements reinvented to fit today’s aesthetic. 

There was truly no shortage of beauty this season, and for brides who currently shopping for “the one” (or for those who are just wedding fashion aficionados), ahead, we’ve rounded up the top seven trends spotted at the Spring 2024 collections. Be sure to take notes and refer back to our Bridal Fashion Week library to see more.

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Lace Necklines

It’s never been easier to show off your décolletage, especially today, as designers lean into looks with dramatic lace necklines. As seen below, Dana Harel and CINQ are two brands (among many others this season) that found ways to help brides highlight their gorgeous necklines in a daring and showstopping way.



Dana Harel

long sleeve gown

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Drop Waist Silhouettes

Drop waist silhouettes made a huge appearance on the “runways” this season, with several designers showcasing looks featuring this vintage-inspired style. In particular, The OWN Studio and Costarellos are two labels that flawlessly pulled off drop waist gowns, crafting dresses that have the ability to be worn at any type of wedding.

The OWN Studio

drop waist ball gown


strapless tulle wedding dress

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Sculptural Ball Gowns

Though ball gowns will forever be a bridal fashion staple, each season typically showcases a new iteration of this timeless style. This year, we love how designers like Theia and Amsale tied in a sculptural element to this traditional silhouette, resulting in classic dresses with a modern flare.




ball gown

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Glimmering Gold Hues

We absolutely love when designers incorporate color into their bridal collections, and this season, several brands opted for gorgeous golden-hued gowns. As seen below, Honor and Ines Di Santo produced brilliant gold designs, establishing a trend we expect to see for years to come.


gold gown

Ines Di Santo

gold gown

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Tailored Construction

Several designers this season, including LEIN and Viktor & Rolf, made an effort to focus on tailoring and garment construction, resulting in looks that are expertly made for brides with contemporary aesthetics. Whether leaning into menswear design techniques or designing jumpsuits for modern nuptials, it’s evident that brands are continuing to find ways to move the needle within the bridal fashion space.


LEIN spring 2024

Viktor & Rolf

bridal jumpsuit

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Pin-Thin Straps

While spaghetti straps aren’t a new trend, Spring 2024 Bridal Fashion Week signaled a massive resurgence of this classic design aesthetic. Specifically, brands like KYHA and Houghton placed pin-thin straps on body-skimming silhouettes, with other designers also choosing to incorporate this trend on silhouettes like ball gowns and loosely fitted column dresses.

Chosen by KYHA

spaghetti strap wedding dress

Houghton by Katharine Polk

spaghetti strap dress

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Tea-Length Hemlines

Feminine and flirty, tea-length dresses are perfect for a bride hoping to veer from traditional bridal aesthetics. So, we appreciate that designers like Markarian and Elie Saab featured this hemline within their collections, showcasing looks that are sophisticated and fun.


tea length wedding dress

Elie Saab

tea-length wedding dress

Top 10 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain and Tightness

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Exercises including yoga poses and gentle stretches can help lengthen and strengthen the shoulder muscles and relieve pain.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and bring your awareness to your shoulders, noticing how they feel. Chances are you’ll feel some pain, tension, or sensation in this area.

Shoulder pain or tightness is common, affecting 18 to 26 percent of adultsTrusted Source. Luckily, you can take steps to relieve discomfort in your shoulders.

Read on to learn how to do 10 simple shoulder exercises to relieve pain and tightness. These lengthening and strengthening exercises will also improve flexibility, increase your range of motion, and bring greater comfort and ease to your movements.

Tips for these exercises

Do these simple exercises three to six times per week to relieve shoulder pain. Start with a 10-minute routine and gradually increase the duration as you get stronger and more flexible.

While doing these exercises, focus on relaxing and releasing any tension in your shoulders and anywhere else you feel tightness.

Stretch only to the degree that is comfortable on any given day. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, and discontinue the exercises if you experience pain that goes beyond mild discomfort.

1. Across-the-chest stretch

This exercise helps increase flexibility and range of motion in your shoulder joint and the surrounding muscles. When doing this exercise, lower your arm if you feel any pain in your shoulder.

  1. Bring your right arm across your chest.
  2. Place it in the crease of your left elbow or use your left hand to support your arm.
  3. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Do each side 3–5 times.

To deepen the stretch, lift your arm to shoulder height.

2. Neck release

This exercise is a gentle way to loosen tension in your neck and shoulders.

  1. Lower your chin toward your chest. You’ll feel a stretch along the back of your neck.
  2. Gently tilt your head to the left to stretch your right shoulder.
  3. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Do each side 3–5 times.

To deepen this stretch:

  1. Place 1 hand on your shoulder and 1 hand above your ear to gently guide the movement.
  2. Lower your chin toward your chest. You’ll feel a stretch along the back of your neck.
  3. Gently tilt your head to the left to stretch your right shoulder.
  4. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.
  6. Do each side 3–5 times.

3. Chest expansion

This exercise promotes flexibility and range of motion in your shoulders.

  1. While standing, hold an exercise band, strap, or towel behind your back with both hands.
  2. Broaden across your chest as your move your shoulder blades toward each other.
  3. Lift your chin and look up toward the ceiling.
  4. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 3–5 times.

To deepen the stretch, place your hands closer together along the towel or strap.

4. Eagle arms spinal rolls

This exercise stretches your shoulder muscles. If the arm position is uncomfortable, do this exercise by holding opposite shoulders.

  1. While seated, extend your arms out to the sides.
  2. Cross your elbows in front of your body with your right arm on top.
  3. Bend your elbows, placing the backs of your forearms and hands together.
  4. Reach your right hand around to bring your palms together.
  5. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  6. On an exhale, roll your spine as your draw your elbows in toward your chest.
  7. On an inhale, open your chest and lift your arms.
  8. Continue this movement for 1 minute.
  9. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Seated twist

This exercise stretches your shoulders and neck. Keep your hips facing forward during this exercise. Allow the twist to start in your lower back.

  1. Sit in a chair with your ankles directly under your knees.
  2. Twist your upper body to the right, bringing the back of your left hand to your thigh.
  3. Place your right hand down wherever it’s comfortable.
  4. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the left side.
  6. Do each side 3–5 times.

6. Shoulder circles

This exercise is good for warming up your shoulder joints and increasing flexibility.

  1. Stand with your left hand on the back of a chair.
  2. Allow your right hand to hang down.
  3. Circle your right hand 5 times in each direction.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Do this 2–3 times per day.

7. Doorway shoulder stretch

This stretch opens your chest and strengthens your shoulders.

  1. Stand in a doorway with your elbows and arms forming a 90-degree angle.
  2. Step your right foot forward as you press your palms into the sides of the door frame.
  3. Lean forward and engage your core. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat the stretch with your left foot forward.
  5. Do each side 2–3 times.

8. Downward Dog Pose

This inversion pose strengthens and stretches the muscles in your shoulders and back.

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Press into your hands to lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
  2. Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you press your weight evenly into your hands and feet.
  3. Keeping your spine straight, bring your head toward your feet so that your shoulders are flexed overhead.
  4. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

9. Child’s Pose

This restorative pose helps relieve tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. Place a cushion under your forehead, chest, or legs for support.

  1. From Downward Dog Pose, bring your big toes together and your knees slightly wider than your hips.
  2. Sink your hips back onto your heels and extend your arms in front of you.
  3. Allow your chest to fall heavy toward the floor, relaxing your spine and shoulders.
  4. Stay in this pose for up to 5 minutes.

10. Thread the needle

This pose relieves tightness in your chest, shoulders, and upper back. Place a cushion or block under your head or shoulder for support.

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Lift your right hand up toward the ceiling with your palm facing away from your body.
  2. Lower your arm to bring it under your chest and over to the left side of your body with your palm facing up.
  3. Activate your right shoulder and arm to avoid collapsing into this area.
  4. Keep your left hand on the floor for support, lift it toward the ceiling, or bring it around to the inside of your right thigh.
  5. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  6. Relax in Child’s Pose before repeating this stretch on the left side.

Other remedies for shoulder pain

In addition to shoulder exercises, you can try home remedies to ease pain and encourage healing.

Follow the RICE method by resting, icing, and compressing your shoulder. When possible, elevate your shoulder above heart level. You can also use a heating pad or take an epsom salt bath.

To ease pain, you may take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Or try natural pain relievers such as turmeric, willow bark, or cloves. Apply a menthol rub, arnica cream, or essential oil blend to the affected area a few times per day.

Regular massage and acupuncture treatments can help relieve pain and bring balance to your body. You can also try manipulative therapies such as chiropractic adjustmentsosteopathy, or Rolfing.

How to prevent shoulder pain

In addition to doing these exercises, you can prevent shoulder pain by following a few simple tips and guidelines:

  • Practice good posture and avoid slouching or hunching over while sitting, standing, and doing your daily activities.
  • Pay attention to how you’re carrying your body throughout the day and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Get plenty of rest and take time off from any activity that causes pain.

Take care when you do activities that involve reaching for something overhead, carrying heavy objects, or bending forward. If you have to do these activities as part of your job, decide how you can move your body to minimize discomfort.

If you play sports that cause shoulder pain, make sure you’re using proper form and technique.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor or physical therapist if you are unable to move your shoulders or if your pain worsens or doesn’t improve after two weeks of treatment.

You should also see a doctor immediately if you have severe pain in both shoulders or both thighs or you have a fever.

To determine what’s causing the pain and the best treatment plan, a doctor may do an X-rayultrasound scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

See a doctor immediately if you:

  • have pain in both shoulders
  • have pain in both thighs
  • have a fever or feel unwell

These could be signs of polymyalgia rheumatica, a condition that warrants prompt treatment.

Was this helpful?


While shoulder pain is common, it can be prevented and treated. Do these exercises on a regular basis to relieve and prevent shoulder pain.

You can also try home remedies to treat shoulder pain on your own. Continuing the exercises and treatments even after you feel better will help prevent the pain from coming back.

Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program if you have any medical conditions that could be affected.

Medically reviewed by Gregory Minnis, DPT, Physical Therapy — By Emily Cronkleton — Updated on February 3, 2023

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