What the experts say
Goodbye to Black Friday
“We’re not so slowly killing Black Friday,” said Abha Bhattarai in The Washington Post. Fewer Americans say they are planning to hit the sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving this year, “as consumers grow accustomed to deep discounts year-round.” Just 35 percent of shoppers who plan to buy items during Thanksgiving week say they will do so on Black Friday, down from 51 percent last year and 59 percent in 2015. “Retailers have conditioned the consumer to believe everything’s on sale every day, which means the deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time,” says Steven Barr, consumer markets leader for research firm PwC. Alarmingly for brick-and-mortar stores, 30 percent of this year’s Black Friday shoppers will buy online exclusively.
Making sense of reverse mortgages
Does taking out a reverse mortgage to delay drawing Social Security make sense? asked Mark Miller in Reuters.com. Putting off Social Security “offers one of the best routes to higher retirement income,” since annual benefits increase 8 percent for every 12 months that you wait from age 62 to 70. To finance any gap in living expenses through those years, some seniors borrow against their house, “receiving proceeds as a line of credit, fixed monthly payment, or lump sum.” If you don’t have a lot of savings, but you do have equity in your home, this strategy could make sense. Borrowers don’t have to pay the loans back until they move out or die, but default is possible, since seniors must continue to pay property taxes and insurance. Successful execution requires “navigating a minefield of loan choices,” so make sure to get expert advice before you sign.
Courting your lender
“Whether you realize it or not, asking for a loan can be a little like asking someone out on a date,” said Geoff Williams in USNews.com. Although a solid credit score and credit history are key requirements for a loan, lenders often size up a prospective customer in the same manner they do a potential romantic partner. Lenders are turned off when a borrower appears overburdened or overstressed; banks are eager to see that you’re “a safe risk.” Another turnoff: “Looking like you’re stretching yourself too thin.” Do not mention any family feuds or pending bankruptcy actions. “Treat that lender like a prospective date and try to seem like a good catch, financially speaking.”