Dave Says - June 16, 2014

Where are you in your financial plan?

Dear Dave,
What things do you advise buying used versus buying brand new?
Amy

Dear Amy,
I’m afraid there’s not one good, across the board answer, because it all depends on where you are in your financial plan.

When it comes to cars, you should always buy good, used vehicles, unless you have a million dollars or more in the bank. New automobiles drop in value like a rock, so buy smart and let someone else take the hit in depreciation. You don’t become wealthy by investing in things that go the wrong way.

If you’re talking about clothing, and you’re broke or trying to get out of debt, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with shopping consignment stores — especially for kids. They wear things three times, and then they’ve outgrown them. “Experienced” clothing is a great buy for adults, too.

Of course there are other things, but here’s the deal. As your money situation improves, you’ll be able to buy more new things. The price of “new” will become a smaller and smaller percentage of your financial world.

But when you’re broke, deep in debt or don’t have a big income, the money you spend on anything is a big percentage. At times like this, a decent $50 washer or dryer in the classifieds can be the best deal on the planet!
—Dave

Is less than 20 percent okay?

Dear Dave,
I’m 24-years old, and just got married two months ago. We make $80,000 a year, and have our emergency fund in place with no debt. Plus, we’ve saved up for a 15 percent down payment on a house. I know you suggest 20 percent, but is 15 percent okay?
Tony

Dear Tony,
I don’t have a big problem with 15 percent instead of 20 percent. Chances are you’ll end up having to pay private mortgage insurance, but it sounds like you guys are in good enough shape financially to handle things.

I generally recommend, however, that couples wait until they’ve been married at least a year before buying a home. Buying a house is huge decision. That’s why I think it’s smart to wait and get to know each other even better, and on a day-to-day basis, before moving in this direction.

Take your time and don’t rush things, Tony. There will still be good deals on the market in a year or so. Plus, you’ll be able to save more money!
—Dave

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