Have a healthy blue holiday: Consider a refinance and reduce stress

My long-lost relatives will come for me one day. These long-lost relatives will be fabulously wealthy. When this happens, I’ll never have to pay another bill, I’ll live in a mansion rent-free, and I’ll never have to work again, much less take my college exams, which (yikes!) are just a few weeks away. Finals are my biggest stressor during this time of the year, and I’m frankly surprised that my hair hasn’t started falling out because of them.

You might not have to worry about final exams, but the last month and a half of the year can be really stressful with the holidays. What’s your holiday kryptonite? Are you having trouble finding time to decorate and clean? Or are you feeling the strain of the inevitable budget-tightening that comes along with gift shopping and the holiday grocery bill?

An excess of stress doesn’t bode well for your holiday festivities, and more importantly, it’s not too good for your body, either. According to WebMD, distress (stress that continues without relief) can cause numerous health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping.

No matter how tightly you try to cut corners on holiday spending, you’re bound to feel the financial squeeze and more than a bit of stress. If budget strain’s got you down this holiday season, there are a few ways to lighten your load and free up cash flow.

Lower your mortgage payment

Today’s rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades. This makes it ridiculously easy to lower your mortgage payment. You might’ve locked in a 6 percent rate five years ago, and that’s pretty good, but rates are WAY lower today. Whether you go with a 30-year fixed, a 30-year FHA loan or a YOURgage (a fixed-rate mortgage with a customizable term offered by Quicken Loans), it’s easier than you think to lower your mortgage payment.

Pay off your mortgage faster

Imagine all of the lucky homeowners who no longer have to worry about making a mortgage payment. Now, imagine if you were one of them. Refinancing can help you pay off your loan faster, which means you’ll pay less interest. For example, take a $200,000 home. With a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3.5 percent interest, you’ll pay $123,312.14 in interest throughout the life of your loan. Refinance to a 15-year fixed, and you’ll save $65,954.45 in interest. What could you do with an extra $66,000? You could buy 33,000 Powerball tickets or 200 iPad Minis!

Get cash from your home

Gift yourself with a whole kitchen. Buy a hot tub and revamp your outdoor living space. If you have equity in your home, you can do a cash-out refinance and use the money for your renovation. Refinancing is a great way to borrow money at extremely low rates. If you need a cheap way to borrow money, a cash-out refinance is a good option.

Consolidate your debt

Credit card debt and Christmas go together like peanut butter and liverwurst. Nip that high-interest debt in the bud with a debt consolidation refinance. Instead of paying 20 percent interest on your credit card, refinance at 3.5 percent and pay off your high-interest debt, like credit cards or student loans.

Refinancing can provide a lot of financial benefits. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress by freeing up your cash flow, consolidate your debt, or just reach your financial goals faster, refinancing can be a great option. If you’re feeling the holiday squeeze, start your refinance process today!

Learn more about how you can have a healthy blue holiday by following the Healthy Blue Snowman. He’s traveling across Michigan with Healthy Blue Xtras from Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. Check out more at: http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/healthybluesnowman/.

Christine Bilger is a writer at Quicken Loans and she loves blogging about family, personal finance and mortgage tips on the Quicken Loans Zing Blog.

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