Shiny New Cars

I need to vent about young people buying cars they can’t afford. I just handled an uncontested divorce today for two nice people, call them Jay and Sally. Jay and Sally are in their late 20s, both with good jobs. Their case would have been relatively simple, except for the two cars they own, both in Jay’s name. And I use the term “own” in its loosest possible sense.

Jay is upside down in both cars, meaning he owes about $3,500 more on one car than it’s worth and about $6,000 more on the other than it’s worth. Jay and Sally are convinced that neither of them can afford to get out from under the cars, so they’re stuck.

We worked out a plan for them to borrow enough to get out from one car and then slowly pay off the other. I hope they’ll stick to the plan. The point, of course, is that they didn’t have to get into this fix. It’s one thing to pay too much for that plasma screen TV; most of us can recover from that. And MOST of the time lenders won’t let you pay too much for a house.

But paying too much for a car (typically a shiny new but basically cheap car) is epidemic in my world. Mothers and fathers, teach your children well. Let them know (and model for them) that it makes sense to delay your gratification while you save for a vehicle you can afford. Your life will be more manageable if you do.

Okay, stepping down off my soapbox now.