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This Week In Your Wallet: Home-Buying Hacks & How to Haggle Online

“Tell me why you’re a good fit for my home?” Get this: If you’re in the market to buy this year, many sellers aren’t just looking for you to show them the money but also to sell them on why you should have the home. Sending a pitch letter — a personal note about why you’d love to buy the home — could increase your chances of closing the deal by about half (and just over 75 percent in the priciest 10 percent of the market), according to new data from Redfin, a Seattle-based real estate brokerage.

It’s true that money talks, especially in a seller’s market. All-cash offers nearly doubled buyers’ chances of winning out over other offers, and in the luxury market, an all-cash offer could boost your odds by 437.8 percent. (Seriously.) But building an emotional bond with the seller — especially if they have a longtime attachment to the home — can give you an edge over other applicants, reports The Wall Street Journal. If you plan to try this, include things like specifics you love about the listing and why you feel at home there, where you’d put a child’s nursery, personal photos or even a “paw print signature” from the family dog.

Haggling In The Age Of Technology

If haggling with salespeople in person or over the phone has never been your forte, then try online. A Consumer Reports survey showed 69 percent of online shoppers who tried negotiating the price of a TV, computer or other electronic device snagged a discount, which averaged $94. The live chat box on many retailer websites is a great place to start. Be kind and accommodating — that way, the representative will likely want to help you. Using their name doesn’t hurt, either. Ask a few specific questions about the product so the representative knows you’re serious about a potential purchase. Tell them you’re looking for a good deal and would be willing to buy right now if they could offer you a discount.

If you’ve been disappointed with one of the company’s products in the past, you can (nicely) use that as leverage for a better deal, reports Consumer Reports. Don’t be discouraged if you get a “no” for discounts — instead, ask about perks like free shipping and extended warranties. And don’t be afraid to leave the item in your cart overnight — you might wake up to find emailed discount codes from retailers who want to bring you back to the site.

Planning For The Possibility Of Dementia

On to a difficult but important topic to discuss: dementia. Last year, the journal Demography published an estimate that for those born in 1940, the lifetime risk for dementia at age 70 was 30.8 percent for men and 37.4 percent for women. That’s why Dr. Barak Gaster, an internist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, spent three years working on a five-page “dementia-specific advance directive.” The document outlines the effects of three levels of dementia — mild, moderate and severe — in a simple way and “asks patients to specify which medical interventions they would want — and not want — at each phase of the illness,” reports The New York Times.

Some people already have a “standard advance directive,” but that document tends to cover conditions like a “permanent vegetative state,” while dementia can change and intensify over many years — leaving patients with severe dementia unable to communicate what they want. Just like a will, this can be a difficult thing to sit down and think about. But taking some time to plan for it — just in case — can mean less pain for yourself and your loved ones down the road. You can download Dr. Gaster’s directive for free here.

Millennials, Pat Yourselves On The Back

On a lighter note: Nearly half of millennials ages 23 to 37 have $15,000 or more saved, while about one in six has socked away more than $100,000, according to a new report from Bank of America. Still, their top financial worry (35 percent) is not saving enough. To combat this, some are saving money by moving in with their parents for limited periods of time, reports USA TODAY. One featured millennial, Meagan Walsh, saved as much as 75 to 80 percent of her salary while living with her parents, then put a 20 percent down payment on a home of her own. She believes it would’ve taken her another 5+ years to come up with the money if she hadn’t been able to live rent-free with her parents.

Parents: If your kids have brought this up, have an honest conversation about what would be best for both of you financially. If you need help on how to couch the discussion, drop me a line at Jean@JeanChatzky.com — I’ll do my best to answer it in an upcoming episode of HerMoney Podcast.

Have a great week,


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