Weekly financial Q&A, with advice on a large car loan by a minimum-wage worker and handling finances in a marriage.
My boyfriend was supposed to help me pay for my car, but he moved out and left me. Now I can’t afford the $500 monthly payment. I work 35 hours a week, but I only make minimum wage. The car is still worth about $19,000, but I owe $20,000 on the loan. What can I do?
You went car crazy, and bought a vehicle that was way out of your league. There’s only one thing you can do – sell the car!
Right now, your entire financial world is wrapped up in paying for this thing. Having a live-in boyfriend, and relying on him to help make the payment, was a big mistake, too. When he left, the financial support went with him.
At this point, all you need is enough credit to cover the hole that you dug. Go to your local bank or credit union and try to get a very small loan for about $3,000. If the car will sell for $19,000, then sell it, and use $1,000 to cover the difference. Then, take the remaining $2,000 and buy yourself a little junker. I’m talking about basic, ugly transportation. Next, pick up a part-time job on the side, and work like crazy for a few months to get that loan paid back as fast as possible.
This is a painful process, but there’s a good side: When it’s all said and done, you will have learned a lesson that will last you the rest of your life. You won’t make this mistake again!
Of nerds and free spirits
Does it matter who keeps the checkbook when you’re married? I’m not good with numbers, but I feel strange because my wife handles these things. Is there anything wrong with this situation?
There’s nothing at all wrong with your situation. We all have different gifts, so it just makes sense that whoever is better organized, or better with numbers, should handle this kind of thing.
In each marriage there’s a nerd and a free spirit. The nerd is the one who’s organized and very good at keeping everything in place. The free spirit is not a detail-oriented person. This doesn’t mean they’re not concerned, or that they’re irresponsible, but they just aren’t as administratively gifted. They don’t get a rush when the checkbook balances out.
However, that doesn’t mean that whoever keeps the checkbook should make all the financial decisions, either. Those decisions, like all others in a marriage, should be made together with input from both the husband and the wife. When you do a budget, you should both sit down together, and come to an agreement on where the money’s going each month.
Trust me, if you follow these guidelines, the checkbook will be accurate, plus you’ll experience increased unity in your daily lives and better communication in your marriage!
Dave Ramsey is a nationally known personal finance expert. Visit www.davesays.org for more financial advice.