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Lease or Finance a Car – What to Do

Is it better to lease or finance a new car? The truth is there is no perfect answer. There are benefits and disadvantages to both, so your answer depends on your own needs.  The real question is, which one will fit your needs and budget best? Here is a breakdown of leasing a car versus financing a car and the pros and cons of both.

Leasing

In the simplest of definitions, leasing a car is very similar to renting. You pay a down payment and a certain amount of money each month to drive your car until the end of the lease term – usually 3 to 4 years. When buying or financing a car, you have to pay for the entire purchase price. When you lease a car you simply pay for the depreciation of the car over the term of the lease (its initial value minus its residual value).

There are numerous benefits to leasing a car including:
  • lower monthly payment
  • a smaller down payment
  • possible tax savings
  • likely under warranty
  • newest auto technology every few years
While leasing a car offers several pros, it also comes with many cons. These cons include:
  • you do not own the car
  • many stipulations
    • Number of miles permitted
    • Possible wear and tear fees
  • GAP Insurance
  • Good credit

Most leased cars have a restriction on how many miles you can drive it per year built into the contract you sign. If you go over this number, you may have to pay a hefty mileage fine. There is also the potential to pay excess wear fees if the car is not returned in its original condition. Another downside is most leasing companies require you to have very good to excellent credit to lease a car, as well as GAP insurance which generally ensures you are wholly responsible if the car is totaled or stolen.

Cost Example:

Car Cost- $30,000

Down Payment– $5,000

Trade In Value– $10,000

Lease Term Length– 48 months or 4 years

Sales Tax- 9%

Interest Rate- 6%

Monthly Payment- $189

Sum of Money  Spent (by end of lease)- $34,417*

Financing

Financing a car is simply taking out a loan to buy a car. If you pay in cash, you own the car as soon as the paperwork is signed. If you take out an auto loan, or finance, the bank holds ownership of the car until you pay it off. Once the final payment is made on the loan, you are the sole owner of the vehicle.

When you finance a car, you actually own the vehicle so there aren’t any restrictions on what you do with it or how many miles you drive in it. You can customize the vehicle however you please and don’t need to worry about excess wear fees. Another pro is once you have made the last payment on the car, there aren’t any more monthly payments – you just have to pay for gas, maintenance fees, and insurance. Unlike a lease, if you get tired of your car and decide to buy a new one, you can sell it and use the money you make towards the down payment on a new one. While interest rates will depend on your credit score, you do not have to have perfect credit to get a loan on a car.

There are, of course, drawbacks to financing a car.

 

  • Banks require a down payment on the purchase of a car- usually between 10% and 20% of the value of the car.
  • Cars depreciate rapidly
 In the short run, buying a car is also more expensive than leasing. The overall cost of the car is more expensive as well as the interest you pay each month on the car loan.

 

Cost Example:

Car Cost– $30,000

Down Payment– $5,000

Trade In Value– $10,000

Loan Term Length- 48 months or 4 years

Sales Tax- 9%

Interest Rate– 6%

Monthly Payment- $416

Sum of Money  Spent (by end of loan)- $34,953*

How to Choose

When deciding whether to lease or finance a car, here are some things to consider: Do you frequently drive long distances? Do you enjoy driving a different car every few years? Do you always want to make a payment? There is no right or wrong answer to the leasing vs. buying question. The answer to the question lies in your personal wants and needs. If you do not drive frequently and always want the newest and the best, lease a car. If you want to be able to customize and own your own car, consider purchasing a used car. Explore different buying and leasing options until you decide what is best for your own budget and lifestyle.

7 Money Mistakes Young Professional Make 

 

*This is an estimate and doesn’t include any additional fee such as wear and tear or over mileage. Estimates and totals are according to the cars.com/car-loan-calculator

Forgo Deferment & Forbearance on Your Student Loans

It’s tough to cover a mortgage, wedding, new baby, or medical expense on top of your student loan payments. As such, it can be tempting to request deferment and forbearance on your student loans. Before you apply for these options, be sure to understand the hidden costs that can lead to a much higher, much longer repayment down the road.

Both federal and private student loan programs offer deferment and forbearance options. These options provide you with temporary relief from your burdensome monthly payments and may seem like a good option to avoid a delinquency or default. Think again. Not making payments during your deferment and forbearance periods results in the capitalization of the interest you owe, meaning your loan principal will subsequently increase. Voila! Not only have your monthly payments ballooned when you inevitably start making payments again, but you now owe way more than you did when you first took out the student loans!

Deferment

Deferment is pushing back payments due to a temporary situation and your loan provider has a list of qualifications. The most common types are In-School Deferment, Graduate Deferment, and Military Service Deferment. For Parent PLUS Borrower loans, it is only available to parents who received Direct PLUS Loans or FFEL PLUS Loans. The deferments listed below are available to Direct Loan, FFEL Program loan, and Perkins Loan recipients only as per the Federal Student Aid government website. Types of deferments available differ based on your education loan lender, but there are commonalities between all private student loan debts. According to US News, private lenders can offer deferment relief for up to 6 months, or in extreme cases 12 months.

Federal Student Loan Deferment Types

  • In-School Deferment Request
  • Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment Request
  • Graduate Fellowship Deferment Request
  • Rehabilitation Training Program Deferment Request
  • Unemployment Deferment Request
  • Economic Hardship Deferment Request
  • Military Service and Post-Active Duty Student Deferment Request

It sounds like a great deal, but remember – you’re increasing the principal balance of the loan and prolonging the inevitable. Let’s say that you chose to defer your loans. As per MarketWatch, the average undergraduate student comes out with $37,000 in student loan debt. Think the cost of an undergrad degree is a lot? The average cost for a law school student that graduated from a private college is $122,158 according to Forbes. Even more unbelievable is the average Medical School Debt at $189,165 as per Modern Healthcare. Check out our chart below to see the hidden costs associated with deferring your student loan payments. Calculations as per those listed in College Reviews.

Undergraduate Deferment Loan Costs

Total Loan Cost Interest Rate Deferment Period Loan Length Total Debt After Deferment Total Increase in Debt
$37,172 8.25% 12 months 10 years $40,238 $3,066
$37,172 8.25% 24 months 10 years $43,305 $6,133

Graduate Deferment Loan Costs

Total Loan Cost Interest Rate Deferment Period Loan Length Total Debt After Deferment Total Increase in Debt
$140,616 9.50% 12 months 10 years $153,974 $13,358
$140,616 9.50% 24 months 10 years $167,333 $26,717
$161,722 9.50% 12 months 10 years $177,085 $15,363
$192,449 9.50% 24 months 10 years $167,333 $30,727

Forbearance

Financial responsibility starts with taking charge of your financial obligations and developing a sound monthly budget. However, what happens if you unexpectedly lose your job or are unable to work due to medical reasons? You suddenly find yourself in financial hardship and may turn to your student loan provider to seek forbearance options.

Similar to deferment, each loan provider and loan type has a unique set of guidelines to qualify for forbearance. Unlike deferment, forbearance could potentially affect your credit. The guidelines for qualifying for forbearance are different for the federal and private student loan programs, so check with your loan servicers and lenders to determine what forbearance options are available. According to the Federal Student Aid site, there are two types of Forbearance for Federal Student Loans- General and Mandatory.

General Forbearance

According to the government Federal Student Aid site, General Forbearances are used when you cannot make a monthly payment. Direct Loans, FFEL Program loans, and Perkins Loan borrowers qualify for this type of forbearance. Types of General Forbearance as per the Federal Student Aid site.

  • Financial difficulties
  • Medical expenses
  • Change in employment
  • Other reasons acceptable to your loan servicer

Mandatory Forbearance

If you meet the requirements for this type of loan, your loan servicer is required to grant you forbearance. Mandatory forbearance is only provided for 12 months. If you still qualify at the end of the 12-month period, you must resubmit your information. As per the Federal Student Aid site, here are the types of Mandatory Forbearance:

  • Medical or Dental Internship/Residency, National Guard Duty, or Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program – (Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans only)
  • Student Loan Debt Burden (Direct Loans, FFEL Program loans, and Perkins Loans)
  • AmeriCorps Forbearance (Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans only)
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness Forbearance Request) (Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans only)

Once you qualify for forbearance, there may be a time period in which you may need to reapply in order to continue receiving benefits, as well as a maximum time they’re available. Keep making your monthly payments until forbearance is granted by your lender, as a delinquency on your monthly payments can result in a negative hit to your credit score. Just like deferment, most student loans in forbearance will accrue interest which gets capitalized and added to the principal amount of your loan. Therefore, this seemingly attractive option to postpone your monthly payments during an unexpected financial hardship ultimately further enslaves you to your student loans.

Although deferment or forbearance may seem like a tempting option, it isn’t always the best path forward. Making even a partial monthly payment is better than making no payment at all. Watch your budget closely and get creative with the steps you can take to avoid deferment or forbearance.

Refinancing your student loans is another great option to consider, just be sure to find a reputable lender like Education Loan Finance. By consolidating private and federal student loans into one monthly payment, you may be able to reduce your student loan payments enough to help you afford that wedding or down payment on a home.

 

Our Simplest Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

Saving Up for the Holidays

It is officially November, which means it is the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year — the holiday season! It is also the season of giving, and while you want to spread the holiday cheer, showering your loved ones with gifts in the week leading up to the holidays is not easy on the wallet. In order to do this without breaking the bank, it is a good idea to start saving up at least a month or two in advance so you will have some wiggle room in your budget. Here are some money-saving tips to try as we approach the holidays:

  • Set a Budget

As with every financial decision or purchase, you will need to assess your budget, income, and savings to determine how much to spend on gifts. From there, set a holiday spending limit (around 1 to 1.5 percent of your annual income is recommended). Remember that this amount will include not only gifts, but it should also include any food, gift wrapping items, travel expenses, and decorations as well. Now that you know the amount of money you will be spending, make a list of all the people you need to buy for and set limits for each person. Divvying up your money and setting limits will save you from overspending.

  • Dedicate a Place to Put the Funds

Because you are saving up for something in particular, it may be helpful to separate your holiday savings from your main savings or checking accounts. Whether you store cash in a special place in your home or open a separate account with your bank, keeping your holiday fund in a different spot will ensure that you do not dip into it before you need to.

  • Save the Money

You have an amount you need to save, a place to put it, and only a few months to save. Some may choose to borrow from their main savings account to help, but this may not be an option for others who need to come up with all the gift-giving money outright. For those individuals, it is time to get creative and find ways to fill up your holiday fund to the amount you set. Try a “no-spend” week or month. Set a goal to not go to restaurants and cook more at home instead. Use up all your gift wrapping materials before you buy new ones. Sell furniture, gadgets, clothes, and other items you do not use anymore. Use coupons to cut down on spendings for groceries and toiletries. There are endless possibilities to reduce spending and fill that holiday account with money. If you are on Pinterest, check out our “Money Tips” board for more inspiration.

Relieve Financial Stress This Holiday Season

The holiday season is supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing — not stressful. Instead of waiting until the last minute, saving ahead and budgeting can help tremendously when it gets down to the wire. You will be able to give generously to your family and friends without feeling guilty about your spending, thereby saving yourself from financial stress. Happy holidays!

Creative Ways to Save Money After Graduating from College

Graduating from undergraduate, graduate, or professional school is an exciting time. There are parties, celebrations, new jobs, and more. It is hard not to enjoy this time however, there may be one thing – student loan debt. Student loan payments don’t have to be a source of trepidation. There are a variety of income-driven repayment plans for federal loans, or the ability to refinance and potentially lower interest rates and better terms. Today’s graduates are in a great position to be able to focus their energy on advancing careers and enjoying new lifestyles benefitting from flexible loan payment options that align with financial goals.

Along with Education Loan Finance’s potential to help lower the cost of your student loans through refinancing, we believe there is a simple strategy. A strategy that can significantly increase the speed at which you are able to pay off student loans — saving money! When you are able to save (or make) more money, you have the ability to apply greater payment amounts to your monthly student loan payments. Paying more than the monthly, minimum payment (without penalty) enables you to reduce the life of the loan. In addition, the overall interest that could have been accrued could be decreased. The easiest way to achieve this and begin saving money involves creating a monthly budget and adopting ways to save money.

 

Where to Start Cutting Your Budget

 

Whether you have begun to pay back your student loans or not, an easy way is to create a controlled monthly budget. It’s good practice but doing so helps ensure that money dedicated to student loan payments continues to go towards them.  Keeping your weekly spending in check — through budgeting or creative money-saving strategies keeps student debt at a manageable level. If you are having trouble figuring out when and where to cut down on expenses, our list of creative, budget-friendly tips  can help:

  1. Eating Out:

    Reduce your spending on take-out meals and restaurants by cooking at home more often. Meal planning is key, map out a weekly menu and purchase all of the ingredients in advance. If you choose to indulge every so often, agree to split pricier meals with a friend or family member.

  1. Drink water:

    Drink water whenever possible. Avoiding flavored drinks at restaurants, home, and everywhere in between can lead to great savings. Think of all the health benefits associated with drinking water! Not only will laying off the sugary and alcoholic drinks help your wallet, but you will also do more for your health!

  1. Cable or Satellite Services:

    Reduce or cancel your cable or satellite services. Any subscription services that have duplicate content or are not being used regularly. Instead, stream your favorite shows and movies on your phone, laptop, or tablet through cheaper-than-cable services like Netflix or Hulu. Amazon Prime is another video-streaming option, especially if you find the other benefits useful. If you still want to watch these shows and movies from a TV, consider connecting your streaming device to your TV through an HDMI cable. Another frugal entertainment option: borrow books from the library, which can often be conveniently downloaded for free to your mobile device or tablet.

  1. Grocery and Home Shopping:

    Whether you are shopping for groceries, cleaning supplies, home decor, or health and beauty supplies, there are ways to save at the register. Start with these suggestions:

  • Talk to a manager at your favorite grocery store. See what types of discounts they offer on a weekly basis. Teacher, veteran, senior, and student discounts are some that may be commonly offered.
  • Download all of your favorite stores’ apps, or opt-in for text-based discounts. There are usually some great deals associated with each.
  • Find out if shopping secrets exist, like these ones from Target.
  • Coupon-cutting has always been an effective strategy if you have time to find the deals and like to buy in bulk.
  • Shop on Wednesdays. Wednesdays are traditionally the one day of the week where last week’s sales overlap the new week’s sales. For accuracy, check with your preferred store(s).
  • See what deals exist on a store’s online site. They are frequently different than what is offered in-store. Be sure to check sites like retailmenot.comfor applicable coupon codes. Many brick and mortar stores will price-match their competitors’ print and digital ads.
  1. Personal Grooming:

    Skip any unnecessary salon or spa maintenance, or do it yourself. If there is no easy, at-home solution, consider a local beauty school. Your stylist, beautician, or technician may just be learning the trade, but they are supervised, so the results are often just as good as pricier salons and spas.

  1. Entertainment:

    There are always creative ways to have fun while on a budget. If you like to go to the movies, try to go during matinee showings, rather than prime-time showings. If you are interested in museums and galleries, try going during free entry days. Entertainment options with little to no entry fees may also include minor league baseball games, farmer’s market events, summer events in your local city center, festivals, and more. Check your local city’s event schedule for more budget-friendly events.

  1. Clothing:

    Great ways to save money on clothing include:

  • Buy less. Most people need to buy less clothing than they currently do anyway.
  • Try to create a capsule wardrobe, where you create a small, perfectly curated wardrobe.
  • Sell unwanted, gently used clothing on eBay, Poshmark, at stores like Plato’s Closet, or check to see if someone in your city hosts a clothing consignment sale. Garage sales are also a great option. After you are finished trying to sell any clothing items, document and donate any leftover clothing to an IRS-approved nonprofit. Make sure to get documentation of the donation if you plan to write off the charitable donation in your taxes.
  • Swap clothes and shoes with friends. Whether you have an upcoming special event or just want to wear something different, talk to your similarly-sized friends to see if they would be interested in swapping or lending/borrowing clothing, shoes, and accessories.  
  1. Pinterest:

    No matter what you need to acquire, there is probably a way to make it, renovate it, or do-it-yourself on Pinterest — just make sure you have the know-how and supplies to complete the project cheaper than paying full retail prices. Great DIY options include household cleaning supplies, tasty food recipes, furniture renovations, home decor, sewing ideas, and so much more.

Reduce Unnecessary Spending

Small ticket items tend to be sneaky budget-busters. To see how much of your budget you are using on entertainment, coffee, and other unnecessary expenses look at your past months’ worth of spending. Decide what you can eliminate or reduce. Limiting spending will take some self-control, but with diligence and dedication, you will find that your existing income can be applied in greater quantities to student loans and other outstanding bills. The more you are able to apply to these each month, the faster they can be paid off, and the faster you can use your money for and towards things and experiences you truly desire.

Check out Our Simple Guide to Student Loan Refinancing