What the experts say
Refinancing an auto loan
“If you didn’t get a great rate on your auto loan, it may be time to reassess,” said Kelli Grant in CNBC.com. Many people don’t know that it’s possible to refinance a car loan, and fewer than 10 percent of car owners have done so, according to used-car marketplace Instamotor.com. Unlike refinancing a mortgage, consumers can “shop for a secure replacement auto loan in under an hour.” It makes sense to refinance if your credit score has improved since the car loan was taken out. Borrowers with fair credit end up paying six times more than those with excellent credit, according to WalletHub.com, “adding $6,403 in interest over the life of a $20,000, five-year loan.” Be aware that because your car is the collateral, refinancing isn’t possible if the vehicle is now worth less than the loan’s outstanding balance.
Home upgrades that buyers want
“Homeowners are sometimes hesitant to upgrade when it’s time to sell,” said Andrea Browne Taylor in Kiplinger.com. After all, they won’t be living in their home for long. But a few strategic renovations can make the difference between multiple bids that drive up the final sale price and no offers at all. Even the most sought-after upgrades don’t have to be expensive. Some 92 percent of buyers want a separate laundry room, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Because the utility lines are already there, you can install a laundry room in a basement for as little as $1,000. Eighty-one percent of homebuyers also want added garage storage space. You can add an extra 380-square-foot space for an average of $2,000.
Combating emotional spending
“Retail therapy” might temporarily lift your mood, but it can sink your bank balance, said Erin El Issa in USNews.com. Some 49 percent of Americans say they’ve spent more than they can afford because they were stressed, sad, or overexcited, according to NerdWallet.com. To combat emotional spending, try making a “30-day list.” Whenever you see something you want, but don’t necessarily need, add it to the list. If you still want the item 30 days later and have the money to pay for it, buy it. Removing sources of temptation can also help, so unsubscribe from stores’ sales emails. And try to build a buffer into your budget to allow for the occasional spurof- the-moment buy. “If there’s no flexibility in your budget for impulse purchases, you’re setting yourself up for failure.” ■