No Regrets. It’s been a movie, a song, the subject of many tattoos and, for some, a lifestyle. But when it comes to their homes, almost half of Americans do have regrets — about their current residence or the process they went through when choosing it, according to a recent survey by real estate website Trulia.
And the big surprise? It wasn’t about overbuying or spending too much. For 41 percent of renters, the top regret was deciding to rent instead of buy (and that number might be going up, since student debt is to blame for up to 35 percent of the recent decline in homeownership by twentysomethings, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York). The top regret for home buyers? A full third of them wish they’d bought a larger home.
So if you’re about to make a big home decision, weigh the pros and cons just a few more times, and make sure you’re thinking long-term. If you’re buying, ask yourself: Will this home make me happy five or 10 years down the road? And have I calculated the unexpected costs that might come with it? (U.S. homeowners can spend more than $9,000 per year in hidden homeownership and maintenance costs, according to a report by Zillow and Thumbtack. This home affordability calculator can help you estimate.)
Cash And Closet
Next on tap for recent graduates: how to dress like a “grown-up” without breaking the bank. CNN Money suggests starting by taking inventory of your closet — and doing so every six months — to avoid buying something similar to what you already have. Then, look on store websites or Pinterest to create a shopping list of a few quality basics you can mix and match (like a tailored skirt, dress, trousers, shirts and cardigans). For the basics, aim for quality, long-lasting pieces if possible — but make sure you consider the cost per wear before buying. Know that you don’t need to spend a lot to look professional — The Cashlorette (aka Sarah Berger) put together a “Can You Tell Which Dress Is Cheaper?” quiz that’s hard to pass. It’s also important to remember not to buy something just because you think you should or because it’s on sale. Make sure you feel great and confident in the item before swiping at the register. And if you’re overcome with regrets the next day (or week), take it back!
Christmas (And Other Holidays) In July?
Winter weather is the last thing on most of our minds this July, but that might be a mistake, according to CheapFlights.com. The travel deals website says the optimal window for booking cheap holiday flights is now until mid-September, and CNBC has a suggested chart for when to buy for different cities. If you’re heading to Atlanta, Seattle or Denver, this week might be your best bet, while the week of July 30th is advised for Washington, D.C. and Houston. For Phoenix and Orlando, plan to buy the week of August 13th, and for Chicago and Los Angeles, experts recommend the week of September 3rd.
And if you’ve had any negative flight experiences recently, now might be the time to call and request a credit for your next trip or some miles to bump up the balance in your account. Our colleague Hayden Field is a mad genius at this. Here are her suggestions for getting your moolah back: Start by calling the company, creating a personal connection with the representative and simply being kind while explaining your situation. Be upfront about what you want — a credit, a partial refund, etc. — and if the representative you’re speaking with can’t help you, it’s a good idea to nicely ask to speak with their supervisor. If someone asks you how much of a credit you’d like, don’t say the first number (just like a salary negotiation). And as always, don’t take the first offer — say something like, “Thank you so much, and that’s kind, but because of [XYZ], I was actually thinking more like [X]. Is that doable?” or my go-to deal-closing phrase, “Can you do better?” At the end, make sure you thank them for their help. Oh, and if you’ve had an issue and want Hayden to help you? Send us an email at Jean@JeanChatzky.com.
Winning Over Your Work “Frenemy”
Do you have a frenemy (friend/enemy) at your job? Maybe it’s a colleague you try to coexist with but always get a negative vibe from, or someone in a mirror role that you’re always competing with, or even someone you suspect of spreading negativity behind your back. Blogger Nicole Lapin has three ways to win them over, including praising them behind their back in a way you know will ultimately get back to them. (Sneaky!) You could also try doing some light social media “stalking” to find common ground to bond over — or even thanking them or asking for help on something they’re good at.
Cheap(ish) Things To Up Your Quality Of Life
Finally, what do a white noise machine, wireless headphones and a quality screwdriver have in common? Just that they’re all “cheap(ish) things that could disproportionately improve your life,” according to The New York Times. The first one fights noise with noise to give you a better night’s sleep, and the recommended model is $49.99 — but you can also download a free white noise app like Relax Melodies (available for Apple or Android). And if you’re sick of untangling wires every time you take a call or listen to music, The Wirecutter recommends a pair that’ll set you back about $30. Finally, if you’re reluctant to splurge for a home toolkit but still want to be prepared, The New York Times suggests a “screwdriver that does it all.” The one they recommend will cost you about $41.
Have a great week,
P.S. I’m looking to interview a few people who have taken a mid-career gap year — not around college, not around retirement, but in between. If you or anyone you know has done it, please drop me a line at Jean@JeanChatzky.com.