This is one of the most common questions asked by our clients when they are looking for a new car. The answer depends on a number of factors:
- How long do you typically keep your cars?
- How many miles do you typically drive each year?
- What do you want your down payment and monthly payment to be?
We typically start off by asking how long clients usually keep their cars. If you are the type of person that trades in their car every 2 or 3 year for the new model, leasing a car is probably a better fit. If you typically keep your cars for 5 plus years, then buying a car outright is most likely the better option.
“How many miles do you drive each year?”
This is often times the trump card for deciding to buy instead of lease. Most leases allow you to drive about 12,000 miles per year but this varies from dealer to dealer. If you go over the mileage allowance there are typically sever penalties and it becomes very costly when you go to trade in the car at the end of the lease. We see younger individuals get caught in this trap because they tend to change jobs more frequently. They lease a car when they live 10 miles away from work but then they get a job offer from an employer that is 40 miles away from their house and the extra miles start piling on. When they go to trade in the car at the end of the lease they owe thousands of dollars due to the excess mileage.
We also ask clients how much they plan to put down on the car and what they want their monthly payments to be. If you think you can stay within the mileage allowance, a lease will more often require a lower down payment and have a lower monthly payment. Why? Because you are not “buying” the car. You are simply “borrowing” it from the dealership and your payments are based on the amount that the dealership expects the car to depreciate in value during the duration of the lease. When you buy a car……you own it……and at the end of the car loan you can sell it or continue to drive the car with no car payments.
Hi, I’m Michael Ruger. I’m the managing partner of Greenbush Financial Group and the creator of the nationally recognized Money Smart Board blog . I created the blog because there are a lot of events in life that require important financial decisions. The goal is to help our readers avoid big financial missteps, discover financial solutions that they were not aware of, and to optimize their financial future.