If you spent poorly, find ways to undo the damageAmerican consumerism and regretted purchases go hand in hand. The evidence hangs unworn in your closet, sits unused in your basement or taunts you month after month on your credit card bill.
By: Gregory Karp, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Ever need a spending do-over?
American consumerism and regretted purchases go hand in hand. The evidence hangs unworn in your closet, sits unused in your basement or taunts you month after month on your credit card bill.
But you can undo some dumb spending decisions or, at least, mitigate the damage.
—Ditch an auto lease: Got in over your head with an auto lease because you succumbed to new-car smell and the allure of a luxury nameplate? Or maybe you lost a job and can't afford the payment? Transfer your lease to someone else. It can help to use such online brokers as LeaseTrader.com. It's a seller's market right now because more people want to adopt unwanted leases, which require no down payment and are less of a commitment than full-term leases, said John Sternal, spokesman for LeaseTrader.com
At LeaseTrader.com, for example, listing a vehicle costs about $90, and using it to facilitate the lease transfer, which would involve a credit check of the person assuming the lease, costs about $150.
—Dump a cell contract: Paying an early termination fee can be worthwhile if you're in a bad contract. Fees are usually prorated based on how far into the contract you are. Even if you have to pay a full $175 termination fee, you make that up in less than three months if your bill is $60 a month. And you could sell your phone to further mitigate the cost.
Another out is to transfer your cell phone contract to someone else, which avoids the early termination fee. Online brokers are available to help. CellTradeUSA.com, for example, charges about $20 to play matchmaker. You may not be able to keep your wireless number, however.
—Use cooling-off rights: The Federal Trade Commission's "cooling-off rule" gives you three days to cancel certain purchases, typically those of at least $25 made in your home or a location other than the seller's permanent place of business. Some states have added cooling-off rights for specific purchases, such as health-club contracts and timeshares. Your state attorney general's consumer office can tell you what qualifies.
—Return products: Your best bet comes from returning the item. And some credit cards offer a "return guarantee"; the card issuer will refund your money if the retailer won't, assuming you return the item within 90 days, said Edgar Dworsky, editor of ConsumerWorld.org. Some companies, notably automakers, offer money-back guarantees if you lose your job.
If you can't return the item, sell it and recoup part of your money. Online sites, such as eBay and Craigslist, newspaper classifieds or local consignment shops can be good outlets.
—Cancel memberships: Many memberships and subscriptions come with trial periods, which allow you to cancel without obligation. Some magazines also let you cancel and get a refund for unmailed issues. If you're a longtime subscriber, bust the inertia to cancel the service.
The antidote for avoiding regretted purchases is to force yourself to take time and rationally evaluate a purchase before buying.
As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said: "We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons."