Don’t feel alone if you flinch at the size of your monthly auto loan payment. According to a new report from Experian Automotive, our monthly car loan payments have reached an all-time high. The average American paid nearly $493 a month for their new vehicle.
But the news gets even worse. As car prices have climbed dramatically, we are finding ourselves borrowing more than ever to sport our new wheels. In 2015, Americans financed, on average, $29,551 for a new vehicle.
“People shop for vehicles largely based on monthly price, and right now, average dollar amounts for new vehicle loans are soaring,” warns Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive credit for Experian Automotive, in a press release.
The crazy part it we’re paying more and more for an asset that depreciates as soon as we drive it off the lot. Simply put, automobiles are terrible investments. But like months drawn to a fire, we can’t shake our automobile addictions.
To create a somewhat affordable monthly payment, Americans are extending the life of their loans. According to Experian, the average loan for a new car is now nearly 5.5 years long. The problem with longer loans, of course, is that they we end up throwing more and more money down the drain in interest charges. If the loan is too long, we’ll quickly reach a point in the life of the loan where we owe more than the car is worth.
While a 5.5-year loan is bad enough, loans that run 73 to 84 months in length comprised 29 percent of all new car loans taken out in the last quarter of 2015. These longer-term car loans are simply financial suicide. As a nation, we’ve become accustomed to leveraging our financial futures for an asset that will only continue to decline in value.
In order to keep from becoming car rich and cash poor, many financial experts suggest you follow the 20/4/10 rule. When purchasing a vehicle, you should put down at least 20 percent of the purchase price of a new car, and finance it for no more than four years. Finally, allocate no more than 10 percent of your gross income on total transportation costs, including car payments and insurance.
BMWK, is a vehicle sabotaging your financial future?