Leasing car five years comes at higher cost

DEAR BRUCE: My son-in-law has rented new cars for the last 20 years. He tells me it is better and costs him less than if he were to buy the cars. He leases them for five years and then gives them back and leases another new one for another five years. He usually leases one on the more expensive side. They usually are $30,000 SUVs. — N.G., via e-mail

DEAR N.G.: Your son-in-law may be the exception, but he would be a wonderfully rare exception. He says it costs less to trade every five years on a new car. Every expert in the business of answering candidly will tell you that's not true. There are extra costs. The leasing company has to make a profit. It has to build into its deal a cushion so when it gets the car back in five years, it can sell it and get its money and make a profit. If your son-in-law were getting rid of the car every two years, it may be that other things being equal, he can come out being very close to even. Leasing every five years, no matter how you slice it, he is paying a premium.

DEAR BRUCE: We separated from our employer last month. We will soon be receiving severance in a lump-sum distribution. It will be approximately six months' worth of pay and medical premium payments. We will obviously need to live on this money for the next few months, but what is the best way to hold it as it is being used? Simply put it in a checking account? — L.H., via e-mail

DEAR L.H.: You use the term "we" twice. Does that mean you and your spouse? Are both of you from the same employer or are you just including this in family income? You'll have six months' income if you prorate it, but that isn't a great deal. Further, you say you'll have to live on the money for the next few months. Is it possible to find some type or reduced-labor work? I know that this is not an attractive proposition, but it will certainly make you feel better about your income even if you're only making $200 to $300 a week each. That will certainly make your money go further.

There's a sense of well being that you can't put a price on. You can put a portion of this money into perhaps a six-month CD, but that is going to return very little income. However, even an "interest bearing" checking account gives so little as to not make it worth consideration.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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