Photo: EveryCarListed P on Flickr

A new car is one of the most exciting and highly anticipated purchases. As a large, long term investment, it can also be one of the most stressful. Since there's really no ceiling marking how high car prices can go, the buyer's budget is usually the primary limiting factor, before extra options or aesthetics. Once you have your budget, there are two main questions to ask; new or used? And, perhaps the more impactful of the two, buy or lease? These questions go hand-in-hand and all four combinations (yes, it is possible to lease a used car) are important to explore because your choice could swing the overall price significantly. Below we'll help you compare the long term effects of each.


Leasing: the shiny option

Most commonly, someone who wants to lease a car will lease a new car—that is, after all, the point of leasing for most people. While it is possible to lease a used car, it's uncommon and not offered by every dealership. Leasing is the shiny option because you drive away with a brand new car by, basically, renting it for two or three years. You pay the costs of using the vehicle for the term of the lease instead of paying for the whole vehicle. This often results in lower monthly payments than those of someone buying a new vehicle through financing.

There will likely be a down payment and fees due up front, followed by a schedule of monthly payments. The lease might also end with additional fees. It's important to understand the terms of the lease, including any mileage limits and wear and tear fees.

Your lease deal is based on the difference between the transaction price (cost to buy) of the car and its residual value (what it will be worth when the lease is up). The dealer will divide the difference into your monthly payments. The other major factor influencing the lease is your credit score. Leases sometimes call for large down payments, and this will only increase with poor credit.

Buying: costly but financially smart

You want that new car but you can't afford to buy it, so leasing seems like the perfect option. But as in most life decisions, the financially smart option requires some sacrifice. In this case, being smart with your money probably means buying, rather than leasing. And that probably means buying a lower-cost new car, or a used car.

Some quick math, courtesy of average prices from Edmunds, shows that buying used is usually the best option in the long term.

If you lease an SUV that costs $27,142 (according to the Edmunds average), after fees and interest your monthly payment will be about $330 over 3 years. Out of pocket, then, leasing a new SUV for a total of six years will cost $27,836, or almost $3,000 more than buying a used SUV. However, leasing would be cheaper than buying the same new SUV (with financing plus down payment).

The problem is that, even though you saved on monthly payments by leasing rather than buying the new car, you don't own anything after the lease ends. So after six years and two leases, you've spent $27,836 on a vehicle that you still don't own. On the other hand, a purchased car can be traded in after those six years. After its trade-in value is subtracted, the same new SUV would cost only $23,882 to buy. In the long run, buying is the better choice.

That's a large savings, and it comes without the limits put on lessees by the contract they'd have entered into with the dealership. Yet, it's still not the most frugal option. New cars face immense depreciation and, despite warranties and promises by the dealership, will probably require several part replacements or repairs in six years. Buying used remains the wisest choice, though it might not be the advice you want to hear. In this example, buying a similar SUV used and trading it in after the same six years would cost almost $9,000 less than leasing the new one.

The truth is: buying used is hardly a loss. Certified preowned vehicles are often in outstanding shape and most vehicles don't change significantly in three or four years, anyway.

Although monthly payments on a lease might be lower than those for financing a new car, buying the new car is the better value in the long run. And, of course, buying a used car is your best option overall.


Tom Twardzik is a writer covering personal finance, productivity and investing for Paypath. He also contributes pop culture reviews for Popdust and travel writing for The Journiest. Read more on his website and follow him on Twitter.

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.