Buy the Car, Don’t Lease It

2010-Dodge-Charger-Sedan-Image-03-1024Should you buy a car or lease it? The debate for the average family is not even close.  Buy the car. Preferably two or three years old, certified pre-owned and the buyer should work to keep it running for ten to twenty years. Why? The money that the average family can save once the car is paid off far outweighs the cost of continuing to keep a monthly car payment with every new car leased.

Money Saved Buying a Car

For instance, let’s say a driver purchases a new car or a certified pre-owned car. With that purchase, let’s say they spend $350 per month for five years on the car. After five years, the buyer no longer has to make a car loan payment. They have completely paid off the car loan and they own the car without any debt on it.

Now let’s say they keep the car for another ten years or so.  Because the owner paid off the car loan that allowed for the purchase and no longer have a monthly payment, they now get to keep $4,200 per year. Over the course of ten years that’s a savings of $42,000. Real savings for a family over time.

The Problem with Leasing

If the driver leases the car however, after the three years of the lease agreement, the driver has to give the car back to the car dealer. They now have to get another car and the payments on the new car start all over again. What that means is that there is no extra $4,200 per year in savings.

Car Maintenance is Key

The key to making this buy over lease strategy work is maintaining the car. That means the buyer should keep up with the periodic maintenance of the car every three months or three thousand miles.

It means they need to get the oil changed, the tires rotated, brakes fixed or changed when needed and most importantly not driving the car to hard. When a driver does all of this, they have a better chance of the car lasting a very long time and saving a lot of money over that time period.

Forgetting the Joneses

One of the downsides to keeping a car for a long period of time is that drivers will not be able to keep up with the Joneses in the best car category. Year in and year out new and more stylish cars come out and having a car that is twelve or thirteen years old doesn’t make the driver the cool kid on the block. But it does mean that the driver will have the chance to save more for retirement, education, a rainy day and family vacations.

So if you are looking to get a new car but you also want to keep your financial security and financial freedom, buy the car and keep if for years instead of leasing it. You’ll thank yourself in the future.

 

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Financial Living after Bankruptcy

Internecine_BradyAllen_700xBankruptcy for many Americans is the only option that can help them get a handle on their financial life. Most, if not all, of the people in my profession recommend bankruptcy only as a last resort. Therefore, anyone considering it should think long and hard about it. And then, think again.

Why do advisors say this? Bankruptcy hurts a person’s chances of buying in the future.  This includes buying daily lifestyle items like a home, car and other items.

It can hurt a person’s chances of renting an apartment. It may even hurt a person’s chances of landing a job in the future. How? Many employers and landlords make a credit check part of a background review and if they see a bankruptcy on the report they may want an explanation as to why it’s there. If they don’t like the response, they may use that to disqualify an applicant.

Bankruptcy Starts a New Financial Life

Giving advice on what to do after a bankruptcy filing is the situation I found myself in when a very dear friend of mine asked me, “how and where do I begin to rebuild credit as well as devise and develop a budget and retirement plans after filing for bankruptcy.”

The first piece of advice I gave her was to stay upbeat, positive and look forward to her new financial life. This advice is something she and anyone else who files for bankruptcy should embrace. They’ve come out of the filing experience with a fresh start. That being the case, on one hand, they should simply let the past be the past and leave it there.

On the other hand, there new financial life also offers them an opportunity for soul searching. Here’s how. If the bankruptcy was caused by too much spending, then that needs an honest review. If it was caused by a crazy lifestyle, then that’s cause for a long hard look. If it was caused by a health problem (as most are) and it couldn’t be helped, then they need to move on and not look back.

Put a Budget on Paper

The next piece of advice I gave to my dear friend (and anyone else who has filed for bankruptcy) was to create a budget and put it on paper.

The first step in that process would be to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle from top to bottom. On the top left hand side of the page, they should write down how much they make every month.

Next, on the top right hand side of the page, they should start writing down how much they spend every month. The important part with this step is that they are brutally honest. If they spend $150 a month on what they call the “Charlie Sheen Lifestyle,” then they need to put that down. Not writing it down does them no favors and only cheats their future.

Once they get all the expense numbers on the page, they need to add them up. The same should be done for the income in the left hand column. Obviously, they want the totals in the income column to be great then the totals in the expense column.

If not, they can start the process of cutting expenses where possible. In doing this they should also keep in mind that the budget is a living breathing document.  Therefore, they should try to keep it in a place where they can reference it quickly and easily.

If they have to spend more than they make, there may be a need for the individual to do a number of things to increase their income. That may include looking for a better paying job or a second job; maybe even starting a side business.

Set Up and Contribute to Savings and Retirement Accounts

The next step in the rebuilding process involves setting up a savings account and a retirement account. The important part about that is that they contribute to the accounts on a consistent basis. The trick being that they contribute whatever works for the budget. Even if that amount is $5 a month (they can always increase the amount), they should do it and not touch it for any reason. To set up the accounts they can without difficulty go to a bank or brokerage and have a representative set up the accounts.

Again, for many Americans bankruptcy is a difficult time on a number of levels. However, it’s not the end of the world. People who file should try as best as possible to learn from the experience and move forward in a positive and meaningful way. Doing that not only helps them and their life but helps the lives of those around them that love and care about them.

 

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