Should you take advantage of lower interest rates? Ask yourself these questions

On this week's BETTER Business, Stephanie Ruhle breaks down the headlines around softening retail sales, a tentative agreement between UAW & GM, Chipotle serving up tuition assistance, lower interest rates and more.
Image: Key in front door
For wannabe homeowners, now may be the time to buy and lock in those low interest rates.baona / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Get the Better newsletter.
SUBSCRIBE
By Julie Brown

This is BETTER Business, a new personal finance segment hosted by Stephanie Ruhle. Each week, Stephanie breaks down the financial headlines and how they'll affect your wallet and shares compelling conversations with industry leaders, entrepreneurs and people who've cracked their own personal money codes.

This week’s business headlines and why they matter

BYE BYE BUYERS: Retail sales in the United States took their first dip since February during the month of September, decreasing by .3 percent.

WHY IT MATTERS: Consumers may be holding on to their money due to growing concerns of a recession. But some experts say traditional retail sales actually remained stable, and lower fuel prices are to blame for the decline. Either way, this is a solid example of how difficult it really is to predict a recession.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL: United Auto Workers and General Motors say they have reached a tentative agreement following the union’s longest strike against the auto company since 1970.

WHY IT MATTERS: Nearly 50,000 UAW workers began striking in September, demanding better pay and more robust benefits. While the agreement is not yet finalized, and still needs to be officially approved by local union leaders and voted on by members, this story is a great reminder to know your worth. Even the largest of companies are nothing without their workers.

Get the better newsletter.

NOW SERVING DEGREES: Chipotle announces they’ll be expanding their tuition assistance program.

WHY IT MATTERS: Starting November 15, the fast-casual Mexican food chain will cover the entire cost of 75 different business and technology programs for employees who have been with the company for at least 120 days, and who work at least 15 hours per week. This move shows just how far this burrito business is willing to go to attract and retain top talent.

Think financial planning is out of your budget? Think again

According to a CNBC and Acorns poll, three out of four Americans manage their own finances without any assistance from a financial professional or online service. Many may think it’s too expensive and out of their budget. Stephanie Ruhle sits down with Shannon McLay, founder of The Financial Gym, to debunk this myth, and discuss how anyone and everyone can benefit from financial coaching, no matter their budget.

Interest rates are low. Here’s why it matters to you.

Interest rates are at a historic low, and they’ll likely drop again later this year. What does this mean for your wallet?

For those wannabe homeowners, now may be the time to make your move so you can lock in those low rates.

If you already own, this could be a great opportunity to refinance, which can be a great tool for homeowners to lower their monthly payments.

But is it the right time to switch things up? Ask yourself these questions:

  • SAVINGS: How much do you stand to save? Depending on how much you still have to pay back on your current mortgage, the savings could be small. But if you’re paying off a large loan, this could be the time to refinance.
  • FUTURE PLANS: Is this home going to be your home for the foreseeable future? If you plan to sell soon, the costs of closing on a new mortgage may not be worth it.
  • TIMING: Can you afford to refinance to a shorter-term mortgage (like a 15-year term)? If so, the combination of low rates over a shorter pay off period could save you big bucks.

Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram