Dear Driving for Dollars,
I know it’s not a great financial decision, but I really like driving a new car every two years, and I’ve been doing that for a while. I get bored driving the same car year after year, and I like having the latest technology. Plus, driving a car that’s new means it’s under warranty the whole time, which gives me peace of mind.
My husband, however, says buying a new car every two years is a waste of money and that we should lease instead. Is it really better to lease than buy?
You are definitely in the minority, getting a new car every two years in this day and age! Your husband is right — it’s really not a great financial choice because cars depreciate the most when they’re new, especially during the first year. As a result, you might find you are upside down on your loan (where the car is worth less than you owe) if you sell or trade in after just two years of ownership.
Leasing may be a better option for you, but only if you are smart about it. First, it’s most cost-effective if you make sure you can stay within the negotiated mileage requirements of the lease, because it can be very costly if you have to pay the per-mile charges for any overages. Second, leasing will be the best financial choice if you choose a car that has deals available (which are essentially manufacturer subsidies) and if your credit is good enough to qualify for those deals. Even if the car you want does not have any specials, you may be able to negotiate a great lease payment, similar to the way you would negotiate the price of the car if you are buying it.
Another option to consider is a lease takeover. Two reputable companies offering to connect motorists who want out of their leases with those interested in taking over a lease are LeaseTrader.com and SwapALease.com. By taking over someone else’s lease, you are only obligated for the number of months left on the lease. This would allow you to drive new cars over a shorter period of time than the typical lease (36 months) and potentially allow you to drive a new car more frequently than every two years.
Ask the adviser