Plus: What 7% mortgage rates really mean
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HerMoney Podcast Episode 342:
How to Change Your Money Habits
HerMoney is made possible by Edelman Financial Engines
This Week in Your Wallet:
Apologize Often? Stop.

Do you say ‘sorry’ the way some people chirp ‘bless you’ (or gesundheit if, like me, you grew up in Wisconsin) whenever they hear a sneeze? I have to admit it…I do. And I’m working on that. Because if you’re in the habit of verbalizing remorse often — even when you did nothing wrong — it can lead you right down the path to over-apologizing for everything and consequently suck the meaning right out of the sentiment.

That’s one of the takeaways The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Feintzeig shares from her recent dive into why some people are prone to perpetually insert ‘sorry’ into their verbal and written communications. In the Midwest and Canada, she notes, ‘sorry’ can be a conversation starter, for others, it’s a way to show courtesy in the workplace to a higher up.

But many people say that in the absence of actual wrongdoing, the word should be stripped from our vocabulary for good. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business says that apologizing often on the job is just asking for trouble. “Don’t give away your power,” he says. And then there’s this: Sometimes, people can mistake your kindness for weakness, or worse, Feintzeig notes, that “some misinterpret women’s apologies as incompetence. When British leader Liz Truss last week apologized ‘for the mistakes’ in pushing a risky tax plan, it was met with calls to resign. A few days later, she did.” Enough said.

It’s Not An Internet Hoax. Anyone Can Join AARP, Even Teens

I have to admit, this piece by Veronica Dagher of The Wall Street Journal made me laugh. As the AARP Financial Ambassador (and a card-carrying member since I turned 50) I am well-aware of the terrific benefits of membership. And now it seems a whole new generation of thrifty 20-somethings are looking to get in on the money-saving action, too. I get it. I use the rental car and hotel discounts whenever I travel (and was admittedly bummed when they retired my favorite perk, the one where you got a free donut at Dunkin’ every time you bought a large beverage.)  

But now, thanks to inflation and shrinking budgets, people of all ages are looking to snag discounts. And because a full AARP membership costs just $12 a year (with automatic renewal), the price to unlock those savings seems pretty reasonable. If you’re wondering how the trend of our nation’s youth flashing the signature red card for discounts got started, look no further than some TikTok influencers. For example: Zach Abel, 42, who uses his AARP card to get discounts on British Airways flights, and save $10 a month on his AT&T wireless bill. After he posted a TikTok in July 2021 about how people of any age could join AARP, 150,000 new members signed up. Were you one of them?  

That noise you heard? It Was Mortgage Rates Roaring Past 7%

Something happened this week that American home buyers haven’t witnessed since 2002. (No, not the Phillies in the World Series. That was 2008. Although it did put a big smile on my husband’s face.) Mortgage rates popped. Rates on the most popular home loan, a 30-year fixed mortgage, climbed to 7.08%, reports Tara Siegel Bernard in The New York Times. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, consider this: Just last week, the average was 6.94%. This time last year? It was 3.14% lower.  

Fueled by the Federal Reserve trying to tame inflation, the rising rates for home loans aren’t happening in a vacuum. Real estate markets are cooling across the U.S. following record sales during much of the pandemic. But, Bernard writes, “prices haven’t slowed nearly enough to offset higher borrowing costs. The national median mortgage payment in September rose to $1,941, up 5.5% from August, according to a report by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The median payment has jumped%, or $558, from the start of the year.”

Result? Existing home sales in September fell nearly 24% from 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors, marking the eighth consecutive month of declines. In other words, if you’re looking to buy, prices are still coming down, and are expected to continue falling over the next 18-24 months.

The Days of Free Returns Could Be Fading

How many times over the last few years (let’s be honest, the last decade) have you taken advantage of a company’s “free return” policy? Those policies have often given me confidence  to take a chance on something I wasn’t 100% sure I’d love, because what was the downside?

But many retailers are ready to start charging us when we send things back, because the price of shipping and repackaging items is eating into their profits by the millions. Business Insider’s Avery Hartmans reports that shoppers sent back about $100 billion worth of merchandise they bought online in 2020. In 2021, the amount climbed to almost $218 billion. On average, retailers see $166 million in returns for every $1 billion in sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

If you’ve ever wondered why some retailers say “just keep it,” in the face of certain returns while still offering a full refund… It’s not corporate generosity at work. This is why: “One estimate found that it costs a company 66% of the price of a product to process a return; another found that a return can cost a company $10 to $20, not including the cost of freight. Which means retailers are losing, on average, millions of dollars every year by letting you return your unwanted goods for free.”

To stop the bleeding, some stores have already begun quietly charging shoppers for sending returns back through the mail, including JCPenney, Abercrombie & Fitch, and J.Crew, which are subtracting up to $8 from the balance of your refund. Sound like a cost you don’t want to bear? You can still bring unwanted items back to a brick-and-mortar store, gratis.

Have a great week,


P.S. If you’re looking ahead to 2023 and hoping to get some clarity (or inspiration!) with your financial picture, then I’d love to meet you in our next session of FinanceFixx, which starts this week — November 3. We’ve still got a couple of spots left, and the women who have gone through the program with us are already making some radical life changes to be proud of. Would love for you to be able to say the same!

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