I’ll be graduating from college with no debt in a couple of weeks, and I have a good job waiting for me in January. During the last few years, I’ve managed to save almost $25,000 from my part-time jobs while in school. My car is pretty beaten up and old, so I’ve been shopping at a couple of car dealerships recently. Every time I talk to a salesperson, they tell me I should finance something new instead of paying cash for a used car. What should I do?
I hope you’ll keep one very important thing in mind. This is your purchase, not theirs. The only reason they want you to finance something is so they’ll make a lot more money off the deal. Forget what they want. You need to do what’s best for you.
You’ve been a hard-working, smart guy over the last few years. The fact that you’ve been able to save nearly $25,000 is proof of that. I don’t think you want to throw a big chunk of your savings - or your new income - into something that’s going to go down in value like a rock. New cars lose about 60 percent of their value during the first four years of ownership. That means a $28,000 car would be worth around $11,000 after that period. That’s not a smart investment.
If I were you, I’d shop around and pay cash for a nice, slightly used $10,000 car. You can get a great automobile for that kind of money, plus you’ll still have the majority of your savings.
Congratulations, young man. You’ve done a great job.
As part of your Baby Steps plan, you always advise people to put 15 percent of their income toward retirement. Would you explain the details of this, please?
For starters, Baby Step 4 of my plan involves saving 15 percent of your gross annual pay for retirement. You don’t have to be a complete nerd about this figure. I mean, you probably won’t end up in the poor house if you set aside 12 to 14 percent. The bottom line is you should be able to save $7,500 a year if you make $50,000 annually. That’s just a little over $600 a month.
However, the only way you can do this is by giving up stupid things like credit cards and car payments. When you get out of debt, it’s easy to set aside an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses - which is Baby Step 3 - and start throwing 15 percent at retirement during Baby Step 4.
Did you know you can retire a millionaire if you save 15 percent of a $50,000 a year income, and invest it in good growth stock mutual funds starting at age 30? Sounds worth it to me.
Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including "The Total Money Makeover." "The Dave Ramsey Show" is heard by more than 14 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.