Buying used or new?

Dear Dave,What things do you advise buying used versus buying brand new?Amy

Dear Amy,This is a great question. But I’m afraid there’s not one good, across the board answer, because it all depends on where you are in your financial plan.

When it comes to cars, you should always buy good, used vehicles, unless you have a million dollars in the bank. New automobiles drop in value like a rock, so buy smart and let someone else take the hit in depreciation. My advice is to buy used, anyway. Wealthy people don’t become wealthy by investing in things that go the wrong way.

If you’re talking about clothing, and you’re broke or trying to get out of debt, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with shopping consignment stores—especially for kids. They wear things three times, and then they’ve outgrown them. Plus, they still look practically brand new. “Experienced” clothing is a great buy for adults, too.

Of course there are other things, but here’s the deal. As your money situation improves, you’ll be able to buy more new things. The price of “new” will become a smaller and smaller percentage of your financial world. But when you’re broke, deep in debt, or don’t have a big income, any money you spend on anything is a big percentage. At times like this, a $50 washer or dryer on Craigslist can be the best deal on the planet!—Dave

Dear Dave,The company I work for just told me I have to get a personal credit card for business travel. What’s your advice on how to respond?Jason

Dear Jason,If it were me, I’d sit down with my boss and let him know this is deal breaker. If the company you work for wants to send you out on the road to do business in their name, then they should man up and pay for it.

I think corporate America has really pulled a big joke on lots of folks. In some cases, you’ve got these multi-billion dollar companies borrowing money from their employees, and then paying it back—most of the time. Think about it. What happens if they decide, for whatever reason, not to honor an item on your expense report? You own it, dude. You’re stuck with the bill!

I wouldn’t do this, Jason. But if you decide to stick with it, get a debit card and set it up on a separate account only for corporate expenses for which you can be reimbursed. You’ll have to prime the pump, and put a little money in there to get it started, and I’d ask the company for an advance against travel to help fund that account.

But the truth is they should just pay the bill when they send you out on the road!—Dave