Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wife Wants A New Car Payment; Husband Wants To Live Debt-Free

Dear Tazi:

I would like to buy a new car, but my husband feels that we cannot afford it at this time. He would like to use the money that would go to a monthly car payment to pay extra on our student loans each month and pay them off early so we can live debt-free. I argue that the money we spend on repairs for my current car is adding up, and the next major repair could end up costing more than the car is even worth.

In the last six months, I have had to replace the water pump, timing belts, all four tires, rear brakes, and several minor repairs. All told, I have put about $2,000 worth of repairs into it without even touching the engine or the transmission. My husband argues that the brand of car I drive has a reputation for lasting forever, and that the $2,000 I have put into my car probably represents all the repairs that I will have to make for the next three to four years, thus making the argument for keeping the car a more economical decision. Tazi, in three to four years my car will be over ten years old with a trade-in value of almost nothing. I would rather sell my current car while I can still get a solid down-payment on a new car for it, but my husband is adamant in his decision and since he controls our finances, I feel like I am stuck. Do you have any ideas on how to work my way out of this situation? To help me convince my husband that my argument is just as valid as his?

Scrooge McDuck's Wife

Dear Scrooge McDuck's Wife:

Are you calling your husband a Scrooge because you feel he is cheap; or because you feel he is stingy towards the needs of others? The first is a case that can be reasoned; the second is a case for a marital counselor. Once you have figured out the reasoning behind your hard feelings you will be better able to tackle your problem head-on.

You say that your husband "controls the finances". Just how much control does he have over the money you earn? Do you hand over your entire paycheck to him, or do you keep a separate account for your own spending money? What are your personal financial habits? Can you be trusted to properly balance a checking account, without incurring large overdraft fees?

Assuming that you are a responsible adult who can manage her own finances, I believe that you should have a say in the matter of your vehicle. Although your husband makes an excellent point about paying down your student loans, you also make a good point about the money you have invested in repair work to your vehicle. $2,000 is worth several months of car payments on a new vehicle (assuming you keep your payment around $300/month), so the ideal time to have purchased a new vehicle was before you put so much money into it. You do not say what brand of car you drive, but you imply that it is six or seven years old already. If you were to buy a new car from a franchise dealer (Chrysler, Hyundai, Toyota, etc.) they would be required to sell your vehicle at auction, and might not be willing to give you a very good deal on the trade-in value.

Your best bet would be to try and sell your vehicle in a private party sale, which could net a few thousand dollars, putting you even with your recent repair bills. This strategy may work well with your husband, who appears concerned about losing money on the recent repair investment made in your vehicle. You can search the Kelly Blue Book value of your car to see what a fair price for a private-party sale. Armed with this information, you can make a well-researched argument for the purchase of a new vehicle. So long as the car you choose is moderately priced ($25K or less) and your husband is a reasonable man, he should at least be willing to listen to what you have to say.

If your husband's ears are deaf to your pleas, I have to wonder if there is more to the story than you are telling me - like the size of your student loan debt; your ability to manage money; or the price-tag of the car you desire. Be honest with yourself, and some of your confusion may lift.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.


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