Best Ways to Finance a New Car

by Erica Starr 18. May 2016

So you've found your dream car, and now comes the hard part: paying for it. Most people don't have the means to pay cash for a new car.

Financing a car

That's why there are alternatives for financing. Here's a primer.

To buy or lease?

Leasing allows you to drive a nicer car without the hefty costs. You'll usually have lower monthly and down payments than with purchasing, as well as reduced repair costs since the average three-year lease expires before the vehicle's warranty does. You pay sales tax only on the portion of the car that you finance.

Here's the catch: You never really own the car. It's similar to renting a car for several years. At the end of the lease, you'll pay for wear and tear, as well as any miles that you drove over the limit, which is typically 12,000 to 15,000 a year. It can also be costly to terminate the lease early.

With a lease, you'll always have a payment. It's a great short-term option, especially if you like to buy and trade in cars regularly, but the costs add up over time. In contrast, when you buy, there will be — eventually and ideally — a period of several years when you aren't making a car payment.

If you tend to drive cars into the ground, buying is a better option financially. There is more flexibility in selling, you have no mileage charges, and you can save money in the long run.

There are advantages and drawbacks to both options, so consider your budget, lifestyle and driving needs before deciding.

Can you use a credit card?

Most dealers allow you to pay only a small portion of a car's price with a credit card. Dealers have to pay a credit card transaction fee, generally 1% to 3% of whatever was charged on the card. Since dealers typically have a profit margin of only a little over 2%, they aren't interested in sacrificing it to a card company.

So should you put at least part on a card? It depends. If you can get a 0% interest card and you'll be able to pay it down during that introductory term period, it may be worthwhile. Otherwise, it's probably best to stick with a traditional loan.

What other financing options exist?

Don't confine your financing search to just the dealership. Your local financial institution is more likely to offer lower rates, which means less interest paid over the life of the loan.

With financing in hand, you can focus solely on getting the best deal and turning your dream car into your real ride. 


Related Posts:

What You Need to Know Before Buying Your First Car

The Ultimate Decision: Buy or Lease

When Debt Can Be Good For You - And When It's Bad

by Erica Starr 11. April 2016

It's next to impossible to go through life without accruing some debt. The good news is that some loans can be healthy and even productive, which means there's no rush to pay them off. Other debts should be erased more quickly. Here are a few examples of debt that can help — and hurt — your financial health.

Good Debt

Student Loans

As overwhelming as education loans can be, how you handle this debt can actually boost your credit. The three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — consider this debt as a type of installment loan. So if you make payments in full and on time each month, you build up a good credit history, which future lenders will recognize. More specifically, properly handling student debt can boost your credit score.

Education loans can also help decrease your taxable income. On your federal tax return, the interest you pay on loans can be deductible up to $2,500 or the amount you paid, whichever is lower, provided you meet certain qualifications.

Plus, student loans tend to have more manageable interest rates, in the single digits, compared with other forms of debt such as credit card balances. The standard amount of time to repay federal education loans is 10 to 25 years, depending on the loan.

Mortgage loans

Like student debt, a mortgage is an installment loan. As long as you make monthly payments in full and on time, you can maintain or improve your credit. The interest you pay can also be tax-deductible.

Mortgage rates and terms can vary, which can affect their quality as good or bad debt. A fixed-rate loan's payments won't change over its term, which can make paying it easier to manage. Paying an adjustable-rate mortgage can be more challenging after any fixed-rate introductory period ends if the market pushes the rate — and the payment — higher.

Auto loans

You can help your credit score rise by making full payments on time on an auto loan. You'll also help your auto-enhanced score, which looks at auto credit history, including any vehicle repossessions or bankruptcy effects. But cars depreciate with time and use, so try to avoid winding up owing more than a car is worth. This can happen if you latch onto a loan that doesn't require a down payment, or where the monthly payments are low and the loan lasts for six or more years.

Bad debt

Crecit card balances

A credit card gives you access to a revolving line of credit, meaning you can use as much as the card limit, pay the money back and borrow it again. If you overuse a card, though, your credit score can drop. With cards typically carrying a double-digit rate, keeping an outstanding balance can mean paying thousands of dollars extra over time. The average household with a card balance owed $15,355 as of the third quarter of 2015.

Short-term loans

Short-term loans, either from payday lenders or lenders that demand property such as an auto title as collateral, can ensnare borrowers in debt traps and lead to property losses while the annual interest rate can soar to over 400%, according to federal regulators. This is one of the most potentially harmful sorts of borrowing.

Whether debt is good or bad relates to how it may affect your finances. Using debt to invest in your home can build equity, and education debt can lead to a better job, both of which can pay off later on. Short-term borrowing and carrying high-cost balances are both unproductive and harmful to your credit.

When weighing whether to take on debt, make sure it's affordable so your financial health remains strong. 

'Twas the Night Before a Bawlmer Christmas

by Erica Starr 24. December 2015

On this night before Christmas here in good ol Bawlmer, Maryland, we present to you, 'Twas the Night Before a Bawlmer Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Bawlmer!


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