Dear Driving for Dollars,
I can’t afford my monthly car payment. I was approved to refinance my auto loan, but the monthly payments would still be too high for me. What can I do?
Your best bet is to get rid of your car and buy something a lot cheaper, so you can get out from under this debt, but that may be difficult.
First, use independent car pricing sites to see what your car is worth in a private party sale, where you’ll get more money than by trading it. Then, calculate the difference between your best (but reasonable) selling price for the car and whatever you owe.
See if you can cover the difference from other savings or by borrowing at the lowest interest rate possible. If it’s financially possible, sell your current car, pay off your car loan and buy a new car that is cheaper. Ideally, you should spend no more than 25 percent of your household income on all the cars in your household, including costs to own and maintain those cars.
If this isn’t possible, see if you can get approved for an auto loan refinancing through another lender at a lower interest rate. If you can’t, take the current refi offer because that will reduce your monthly payments at least a bit. Be wary of getting behind on your car payments, as that will affect your credit score and will make it hard for you to get a good interest rate on future car loans or could even lead to being denied for a loan.
Ask the adviser