Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Choosing the right vehicle for your off-road adventures. Also in the news: Why a new fee shouldn’t stop you from refinancing your mortgage, what to do when you’ve paid off your credit card debt, and how to manage any credit card debt you may have racked up the last few months.

Choose the Right Vehicle for Your Off-Road Adventures
A versatile SUV can take you almost anywhere, but prepare for trade-offs the farther you venture off-road.

The Property Line: Don’t Let New Fee Stop You From Refinancing
Millions of homeowners could still benefit from refinancing their mortgages to get a lower interest rate.

You paid off all of your credit card debt—what to do next?
Don’t cut up those cards just yet.

How to manage any credit card debt you may have racked up the last few months
Talk to your lenders.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do when your Coronavirus stockpile runs low. Also in the news: How expanded Coronavirus unemployment benefits work, buy a car at a safe distance with a No-Touch deal, and how to lift or cancel a credit freeze.

What to Do When Your Coronavirus Stockpile Runs Low
Shopping strategically.

How Expanded Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits Work
Understanding the CARES Act.

Buy a Car at a Safe Distance With a ‘No-Touch’ Deal
Car buying moves online.

How to Lift or Cancel a Credit Freeze
Thawing your credit.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Turn your next car purchase into a vacation. Also in the news: The new version of layaway, how soon you’ll recover from holiday spending, and why Travelex users need to lock down their financial information right now.

Turn Your Next Car Purchase Into a Vacation
The car you want might be cheaper in another state.

You can have the item now. But can you really afford it?
There’s a new version of layaway.

How Soon Will My Credit Recover From Holiday Spending?
It’s going to take a bit.

Travelex Users: Lock Down Your Financial Info Right Now
A serious data breach.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When leasing a car is the more frugal option. Also in the news: How to actually achieve your debt payoff resolution, 5 basic features you should expect from your bank, and holiday debt could take years to pay off.

When Leasing a Car Is the More Frugal Option
Car buying has changed enough over the years that leasing may no longer be the costliest choice.

How to Actually Achieve Your Debt Payoff Resolution
Start the new year on the right foot.

5 Basic Features You Should Expect From Your Bank
Services you should expect.

Holiday debt could take years to pay off
Here come the bills.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Buy a real car now before they become extinct. Also in the news: How Shea Couleé of ‘Drag Race’ fashions her finances, 8 credit card strategies, and 3 things to do when you get a salary increase.

Buy a Real Car Now Before They Become Extinct
Sedans are disappearing.

Money/Makers Q&A: How Shea Couleé of ‘Drag Race’ Fashions Her Finances
Drag isn’t cheap.

8 Credit Card Strategies — And Some Surprises, Too
Strategic uses to improve your life.

3 Things to Do When You Get a Salary Increase
Celebrate, then plan.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Writing a will? How to stop stalling and get it done. Also in the news: Hidden financing traps in car shopping, how to protect yourself in the Words with Friends data breach, and the big wedding expense nearly half of married couples regret.

Writing a Will? How to Stop Stalling and Get It Done
Make things easier for your loved ones.

Car Shopping? Don’t Fall for These Hidden Financing Traps
Avoiding the extended warranty trap.

How to Protect Yourself in the ‘Words with Friends’ Data Breach
200 million users are affected.

Nearly half of married couples regret this big wedding expense
This one might surprise you.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Car buyers could save thousands with just an hour of research. Also in the news: Home affordability is boxing out Americans who dream of relocating, the 15 best and worst US cities for young families, and why you should plan now to deal with holiday credit card debt.

Car Buyers Could Save $2,000 (or More) With an Hour of Research
60 minutes could save you thousands.

Survey: Home Affordability Boxes Out Americans Who Dream of Relocating
Almost 25% of Americans would like to relocate.

The 15 best—and worst—US cities for young, growing families
Is the West Coast the best coast?

Make a plan now to deal with holiday credit card debt. Here are four tips to follow.
The holidays are right around the corner.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why your credit score isn’t the only gage of financial health. Also in the news: Car buying tips from an undercover salesman, 8 things that won’t hurt your credit, and how to control what could take a big bite out of your retirement nest egg.

Your Credit Score Isn’t the Only Gauge of Financial Health
The numbers you need to pay attention to.

5 Car-Buying Tips From My Days as an Undercover Salesman
How to navigate the car buying process.

8 Things That Won’t Hurt (Whew!) Your Credit
Starting with checking your credit score.

Here’s what could take a big bite out of your retirement nest egg — and how you can control it
Pacing yourself for the long haul.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t be afraid to test-drive your car salesperson. Also in the news: How your net worth compares and what matters more, 5 family vacation planning tips learned on the fly, and creative strategies for lowering your debt-to-income ratio.

Don’t Be Afraid to Test-Drive Your Car Salesperson
Switch when you need to.

How Your Net Worth Compares — and What Matters More
It’s just a just a high-level picture of your financial life.

5 Family Vacation Planning Tips I Learned on the Fly
Stay on budget while still having fun.

Try these creative strategies for lowering your debt-to-income ratio
It could be the deciding factor when applying for a loan.

Q&A: When buying a car, be strategic with your money. Here’s how

Dear Liz: My son, 27, has a 2009 car that needs a new engine and is not running. The engine would cost $6,100 to replace, which is money he doesn’t have. He owes $10,000 on his car loan at 6% interest. The car would be worth only about $4,500 if it were running.

Should he sell the car to a junkyard for $200? Should he refinance the car loan for the remaining months he’ll make payments and also try to get the interest rate reduced?

He also wants to buy a 2016 car for around $18,900. He needs the car to get to work every day. Should he buy this car and have two car loans? Or should he look for an older car for now, until he gets the “upside-down” loan paid off?

Answer: It’s unfortunate that your son’s response to overspending on one car is to overspend on a replacement.

Let’s go over some basics of smart vehicle ownership. In general, we should avoid borrowing money to pay for assets that lose value — and a car is pretty much the definition of an asset that loses value. New cars depreciate by about 20% as soon as you drive them off the lot and lose roughly half their value in the first three years. The vast majority continue losing value until they’re sold for scrap. Only a handful of classic cars ever appreciate.

That means paying cash for cars is usually the smart move. Since most people can’t swing that, at least at first, the next best policy is to make large enough down payments so the cars we buy aren’t upside down, or worth less than what we owe.

When people are upside down on vehicles, the best practice is typically to “drive out” of their loans. That means continuing to make payments until they own the cars free and clear. Ideally, they would then keep the cars until they’ve saved enough to make substantial down payments on the replacement vehicles or buy a replacement outright.

Pouring more money into this particular car probably doesn’t make much sense. Your son probably won’t be able to refinance, since he has no equity in the vehicle. He might be able to roll the negative equity into a loan on a new car, but that would leave him in an even worse financial position: more deeply upside down and probably paying a higher interest rate.

Your son should consider getting a personal loan, perhaps from a credit union, to pay off the balance. Instead of spending nearly $20,000 on a 2-year-old replacement, he should aim to spend $3,000 to $5,000 on a good, reliable older car. If he can pay cash, great. If not, he should work to get both loans paid off as quickly as possible and start saving for the next car.