DEAR BRUCE: I am purchasing a new SUV. I wanted to put about half of the money down (about $10,000) and take the loan for three years. Someone suggested that I take the money I would use as a down payment and invest it in a CD, taking the five-year loan. The total amount of the cost is going to be $24,500 with taxes included. — A.T., via e-mail
DEAR A.T.: There was a time when your plan may very well have been worth following, but that time has long past. You are thinking about taking a five-year loan and then putting the proceeds, say for example $10,000, into a CD. The problem is that most CDs today are paying such a miserly rate — at this writing at about 1.25 percent for a one year note — and your car loan even after all the baloney of no percent down, no interest rates and so forth will truly have an effective rate of somewhere around 5 percent or more. You are far better off to put the money down rather than the investment approach.
DEAR BRUCE: My husband is an academic and has accepted a new position. The position is one that he has wanted for many years. Our house is worth about $125,000 and is paid for. The question is, we don’t know how long this position will last because obviously he has a long way to go before tenure. Should we buy a house immediately or perhaps rent an apartment? The one feature that has to be dealt with is that we have a medium-sized dog and a cat. A lot of landlords refuse to rent to us. What are your thoughts? R.L., via e-mail
DEAR R.L.: Until I got to the last sentence of your letter, it was a no-brainier. You would be far better off to rent. The problem with the dog and a cat can be difficult, but not impossible, to overcome. Who will look after them during the day when you guys are working? That is the more troublesome thing from the landlord’s perspective. Being a pet lover, I have on occasions allowed people with pets to rent my property and mercifully never had a problem.
DEAR BRUCE: We applied for a mortgage, but each of the reporting agencies lists my husband as dead! Thinking that they accidentally transposed Social Security numbers, my broker called back again. Same thing, my husband is dead as a doornail. All three agencies are reporting the same. We suspect his ex-wife somehow reported that he was dead. What do you suggest we do? — L.J., via e-mail
DEAR L.J.: Contact the three reporting agencies with documentation that your husband is still alive and kicking. If you are able to, you will find that these agencies will respond far more quickly to correspondence from an attorney. I am sure you can understand why. The attorney will simply write to Experian, etc., as the attorney for his client “John Smith” he is enclosing an affidavit of his good health, accompanied by his physician contesting that he has never been in a life-threatening position.