The never-ending car payment

Car payments have morphed from a temporary nuisance into a permanent part of many people’s budgets. Whether that’s a bad thing depends on what you do with the rest of your money.

One-third of millennial car buyers chose a lease last year, which helped push auto lease volume to a record of 4.3 million and 31 percent of all new auto purchases, according to market research by Edmunds.com.

“There is a greater percentage of people who view car ownership as a monthly payment like their cell phone or cable or Wi-Fi,” says Jessica Caldwell, executive director of strategic analytics at Edmunds.com. “It’s just the way we live our lives.”

In my latest for the Associated Press, why millennials are looking at cars the same way they look at cell phones, and the financial implications.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Wills-in-TexasToday’s top story: Ranking the cheapest cars to insure. Also in the news: Why you need to have a will, the financial perks of downsizing, and how much money you need to save monthly to reach your retirement goal.

Ranking the Cheapest Cars to Insure
Being a smart shopper.

Prince Had No Will, Reports Say — But You Should
Don’t let the government inherit your estate.

The Financial Perks of Downsizing
Going small can mean a bigger bank balance.

This Retirement Calculator Tells You How Much to Save Monthly to Reach Your Goal
How close are you?

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Home-related tax deductions you shouldn’t overlook. Also in the news: What to do if you’re behind on your health insurance premiums, the benefits to itemizing your taxes, and secrets to getting the best deal on a new car.

4 Home-Related Tax Deductions You Shouldn’t Overlook
Every deduction helps.

Behind on Health Insurance Premiums? Here’s What to Do
Act quickly.

Is itemizing your taxes worth the hassle?
You could be leaving money on the table.

20 secrets to getting the best deal on a new car
Don’t get taken for a ride.

Wonder Why You’re Broke? Look in the Driveway

Rockhead126's_1951_Mercury_CustomIf you’re struggling to make ends meet, your problem may not be too many lattes or dinners out. It may be sitting in your driveway.

Your monthly car payment is the tip of the iceberg.

Counting gas, registration and taxes, depreciation, tires, insurance and finance charges, Americans spend $8,700 a year on average — $725 a month — for the privilege of owning a typical midsize sedan, according to AAA, and more than $10,600 a year for an SUV. If you’re struggling with bad credit, the increased cost of financing and insurance will push those numbers even higher.

In my latest for NerdWallet, how to determine if you have too much car in your driveway.

Is your car part of the airbag recall?

gravestoneIt would be good to know if your car is one of the 34 million with potentially defective airbags than can explode and kill you in an accident. You may need a little patience to find out.

The government Web site that can allow you to look up recalls by your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) seems to be overwhelmed at the moment. You also can call the hotline at 888-327-4236 and request a callback (I’m still waiting). Even if your car isn’t currently listed, you still have to check back regularly to see if it gets added.

If your car is affected, there won’t be a charge for the fix. You can contact any dealer of your vehicle to schedule the repair, according to the Consumer Federation of America. You also can ask your dealer or the manufacturer for a loaner car if there will be an extended wait.

After a decade of denial, Japanese airbag manufacturer finally admitted its airbags were defected and widened a recall to 34 million vehicles. You don’t want to ignore this serious issue–the sooner you contact a dealer, the sooner you can get on the list for a repair, said Jack Gillis, CFA’s automotive expert and author of The Car Book, published with the Center for Auto Safety.