Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Tips for the Ultimate Procrastinator

This is a rush transcript from "America's News HQ," December 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, HOST: Less than 48 hours until Christmas. That means you have just a little bit of time to finish up the holiday shopping if you are like me and haven't quite finished yet.

According to a recent survey, the biggest procrastinators are — duh — men and young adults under 34. So, how to get it all under control in the final hours?

Joining us now, Farnoosh Torabi. She is the author of the book, "You're So Money."

• Video: Watch Jon Scott's interview

All right, Farnoosh. There are some rewards out there for procrastinators?

FARNOOSH TORABI, AUTHOR, "YOUR SO MONEY": There are. The deals are there. They've been there all season. But I think now as it gets closer to Christmas, retailers are getting really more desperate.

SCOTT: All right. So some ideas and tips for those of us who haven't finished our list. You say you've got to keep a list.

TORABI: Keep a list. The list is your best friend right now. You have lost time, so keep a list that includes everyone you have to buy for, including the gifts that you want to get, as best of a description you can make. And have some backup gifts as well, because at this point, maybe the item in the right size, fit, color isn't there, so you want to have some back up gifts. Do not just be scouring the mall and buying anything at any price.

SCOTT: You say purchase with cash.



TORABI: Well, cash is always king all year round. But right now, as procrastinators, their nature is to overspend. Because you're crunched for time, you can't comparison-shop. Cash - typically, we save 20 percent when we use cash over credit card. So right now, do yourself a favor. Use cash and pocket that 20 percent.

SCOTT: So you also say re-gifting is acceptable if you do it right.

TORABI: If you do it right. Not re-gifting the fruitcake or the old reindeer sweater. Something special like, so you can't find a gift for your aunt or your niece or your best friend. But something that you know here she values that you own, maybe it's an old ornament, a piece of jewelry, something of that nature that has value and doesn't cost you anything but your own generosity.

SCOTT: Let's talk about something else that a lot of people are curious about right now. Supposedly, the government is trying to get banks to lend money again.

TORABI: Right.

SCOTT: Mortgage rates do seem to be dropping. I said earlier in the show, my bank was at four and a half percent for 30-year fixed earlier in the week.

TORABI: It's spectacular. Historic lows — the advice is if you have a mortgage right now with a rate over six percent, or you're expecting your rate to reset higher in the new year, now is a great time to shop around. But realize you can only qualify if your mortgage is less than the value of your home.

And right now, millions of Americans are not in that predicament so they automatically do not qualify. Make sure you have good credit, more than a 700 credit score, cash in the bank and good credit worthiness. I think you will be a good applicant.

SCOTT: And I guess — I mean, what they were telling me is that they went back up again but they are expected to drop again come January.

TORABI: We do expect that, because the Federal Reserve is expected to buy bad mortgages and buy also the good mortgages, and also to buy long- term treasury bonds which are closely tied to those mortgage interest rates. So it is expected that we will see rates maintained at the five and a half percent rate.

SCOTT: And again, what is generally the spread? I mean, if you're paying six percent right now ...

TORABI: The question —

SCOTT: ... what does it have to drop to, to make it worthwhile?

TORABI: Generally speaking, if you have, let say, to make it simple, a $100,000 loan and you have a six percent interest rate on that, a five percent interest rate saves you about $100 a month. But watch out. If you have those upfront fees, and usually, those upfront fees are two to three percent of the mortgage, you have to make sure you're staying in the house long enough so that that savings, that monthly savings, will ultimately outweigh any upfront costs that you're paying to refinance your mortgage.

SCOTT: Farnoosh Torabi, thank you.

TORABI: You're welcome.

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