To lease or not to lease..again? AKA, I have leased a car for the last three years, and now that it is time to return it, I can’t decide if leasing again is a good option for me. While I feel it was super convenient to have a car that I did not have to worry about for the past three years – brand new car, full warranty etc – now that I am turning it in, I am feeling a little bit of that “was I throwing my money away the whole time” feeling that so many anti-lease people barked about when I originally got into the lease. But without the funds for a decent down payment on a brand new car, I am faced with either leasing again or buying a used car (previously owned they like to say)….and the latter scares me a bit. The threat of repairs, repairs and more costly repairs on top of a car payment seems crazy after having the luxury of the lease behind me. But I don’t want a car payment/lease payment forever!!  Crazy Pants

Classic dilemma there Crazy Pants. The first thing you have to do is step back and stop worrying about what others say. Their priorities are not yours. There is a difference between asking for advice from someone in the know – your Dad, your Ass-Kicking Advice columnist – and allowing the white noise of the chattering masses to influence your decision in any way. So let’s take those ‘anti-lease barkers’ and put them to the side for  a moment. Perhaps in a room. With soundproofing. Ahh…isn’t that better?  Now I can think.

Now let’s look at some facts:

-Owning or leasing a vehicle is expensive! Car insurance and car taxes and registration and gas! Ugh. I’m assuming you have no choice so let’s move on…

-Take a look at a site like Edmonds.com or other sites that talk straight about vehicles and aren’t selling one or the other in particular. The minute you drive a new car off the lot the price depreciates 11%! Just 5 years after you buy it, it’s worth on average of 37% of what you paid for it. Not exactly a sound investment strategy. It cracks AKA up that people talk about buying a car as an investment like they talk about buying real estate. Yes, if you own a house for five years you (hopefully) build equity (at least pre-2006). But that doesn’t happen with a car. Ever!!  It’s like buying anything else retail – it will never be worth as much as it is new.

So there is no black or white which means that whichever choice you make it’s not going to be the difference between you being flush with cash or hitting the skids. As long as you don’t do something stupid like lease or buy a car you can’t afford or buy a car from a sleazebag named Lenny that you met on the internet, whatever decision you make will be fine.  Seriously. No right or wrong so look into some options and pick what makes you feel least stressed:

-Fill out a finance application from your credit card company or bank – they might give you a better rate than the dealer.

-Talk to your dealer about what your end-of-lease options are. Can you buy the vehicle you are leasing now? At least then you know what you are getting right? Can you renew the lease? If you turn the car in, are there fees to pay due to high mileage or damage that might sway you between these choices?

-Buy a new car but a low-cost one and make a deal with yourself that you will drive it for 10 years.

What you want is very individual to you. You have specific needs that don’t change whether you lease or buy; be sure your needs are met. Sounds like you want low cost, low maintenance, good warranty.   I hear ya’.  It is indeed super convenient to have a car that you don’t have to worry about – it’s worth it’s weight in gold to many of us with little or no time to deal with our cars. But that guy who just blew by you in the Jag was not thinking about warranties or low-maintenance costs when he bought his car I guarantee it.  People buy cars for so many different reasons – that’s the only possible explanation as to why there are so frickin’ many of them.  Don’t let other people’s personal preferences and tastes sway you from yours. Decide what your priorities are, tell yourself that this is not a life-or-death situation, and make a decision based on how smart it makes you feel.  Then promise AKA that you won’t think about it anymore – ’cause  life’s too short to have anxiety about a car lease.  Happy driving Crazy Pants!