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Old 05-01-2006, 04:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Wilson, NC
Living Expenses - New Car

Hey guys,

I have a question about "real life." I am graduating with my Bachelors in a couple of days and I am wanting to buy a new car. I was blessed to be hired at a respectable company making $40,000 a year with a $3,500 signing bonus. Medical, dental, and a host of other obligations are included in my salary but I listed them in the following list anyway.

How much, and I know this is hard and will be a rough estimate, do I need to live on? I am wanting a new car and everyone is saying that I can't afford anything more than $17,000 or $18,000 right out of college. I beg to differ. I've made NUMEROUS spreadsheets on how much I will need to live on (factoring in EVERYTHING I can think of), and I have plenty to pay a $500 car payment and insurance. Is there something I am missing? I don't live the lifestyle of the rich OR famous, I am a humble, money-saving guy, and I want a really nice car. The payment wouldn't be anything less than $500 on the car I want, so let's let that stay static.

I guess the main point of this thread is to list all sorts of financial expenses/living expenses I may not be seeing. Here is a list of what I have so far (listed on a monthly basis):

Apartment Rent 600
Internet 50
Cell Phone 30
Car Insurance 200
Gas 200
Water 50
Electric 50
Heat 30
Car Payment 500
401k 200
Medical Insurance 100
Dental Insurance 50
Savings 300
Food 300
Student Loans 400
Total 36720

I realize there are many "unforeseen" financial obligations that may arise, but I even put back money for that as well in my spreadsheet (in "Savings"). Can a recent college graduate, living in an apartment in North Carolina, afford a $500 monthly car payment right out of college? Why or why not? Is there anything missing in my list? Is anything grossly over/under-exaggerated? Remember, I am a newb to all of this, I've never lived on my own (besides on campus in the dorms for 4 years). Please help!

PS: Cars are a passion for me. I wouldn't be buying it "just because." I've wanted a nice car for a long time, and driving 80s models POSs is getting old. Thanks guys!
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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emergency money, pay yourself first, even though you have debts, you'll need to have some sort of emergency funds. don't forget you'll need to maintain a vehicle, pay for unforeseen parking tickets...

gas for the car? is that the $200 in your list or is that house gas?

money for entertainment, doing things like movies, hanging out with friends, concerts, etc.

why don't you buy a solid used car initially until you get all your other ducks in a row? you'll have transportation and you'll be able to get your foundation down without such a large unflexible burden.

i'm all with you with the passion for cars, I've been waiting for the right moment to buy one and still haven't found that right time. I am trying to buy yet another house to help my mother in law for the moment, but soon, soon.
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hell no dude, if you want to buy a nice car right out of college and can afford it, then you should. I personally would wait a few months to see exactly how much I am spending per month, but you seem to have worked out all the expenses. I've been living on my own for four years now, and the one thing that I have learned is that things are always more expensive than you think they will be. I always ended up spending more per week and month than I thought I would, just because of unforeseen expenses. You already included that in your expenses though, so I say go for it.

You have a well paying job for a new grad and you have no one else to look after, so I say get the car you want.
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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i think you've underestimated you're heating and electricity costs, I also don't see any money budgeted for clothing, entertainment, and maintenance for your vehicle. I also think you've overestimated you're bring home pay, you're figuring less than 10% for taxes.
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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43,500 - Starting salary (In every state I've ever lived in bonuses are taxable income)
-3045 - North Carolina State Income Tax (7 percent)
-7432- Federal Income Tax ($4,220.00 plus 25% of the amount over 30,650)
-3328 - FICA (7.65 percent)
____________________
29595 - Gross income

Some of those taxes you'll get back -- but not all...

The mother in me woudl caution you saying spending on a car, almost what your rent is, seems dangerous when you are starting out... you've got the rest of your life for snazzy wheels... (hey look forward tot hat midlife crisis and a sports car
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Last edited by maleficent; 05-01-2006 at 04:34 PM.. Reason: 2006 tax estimates were wrong - mal
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh shit yeah that's right.. Taxes are a motherfucker.

Federal income tax is 25%?? Holy hell... At least in Florida there's no state income tax...
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carno
Federal income tax is 25%?? Holy hell... At least in Florida there's no state income tax...
I was off - the 2006 tax rate schedule changed - if you make over $30,650, it's $4,220.00 plus 25% of the amount over 30,650.
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Old 05-01-2006, 05:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You're leaving yourself with an extremely thin margin from what I can see. Also you're making a very classic mistake - you're choosing a car based on payments rather than total cost. When the dealer hears that he'll arrange for $500 payments on a ferarri if he can - - -but you'll be paying them over umpteen years and you'll end up paying WAY more than the car is ever worth.
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Old 05-01-2006, 05:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
You're leaving yourself with an extremely thin margin from what I can see. Also you're making a very classic mistake - you're choosing a car based on payments rather than total cost. When the dealer hears that he'll arrange for $500 payments on a ferarri if he can - - -but you'll be paying them over umpteen years and you'll end up paying WAY more than the car is ever worth.

I'm actually choosing the car based on what I want - I've used numerous "payment calculators" to get the $500 payment. The payment is for 4 years. That's not bad.
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Old 05-01-2006, 05:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Location: Wilson, NC
Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
43,500 - Starting salary (In every state I've ever lived in bonuses are taxable income)
-3045 - North Carolina State Income Tax (7 percent)
-7432- Federal Income Tax ($4,220.00 plus 25% of the amount over 30,650)
-3328 - FICA (7.65 percent)
____________________
29595 - Gross income

Some of those taxes you'll get back -- but not all...

The mother in me woudl caution you saying spending on a car, almost what your rent is, seems dangerous when you are starting out... you've got the rest of your life for snazzy wheels... (hey look forward tot hat midlife crisis and a sports car

WOW is it really that high? they are taking away 25% of my total income??
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Old 05-01-2006, 05:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Your total income over 30,650 Up to 30,650 it's a lower percentage.
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Old 05-01-2006, 06:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjake
WOW is it really that high? they are taking away 25% of my total income??
and bonuses are taxed at a much higher rate, mine have been as high as 47%

welcome to the real world...
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Old 05-01-2006, 07:11 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
welcome to the real world...

please leave the "welcome to the real world...." bullshit at the table. I've been in the "real world" for years now, and have endured much worse conditions that most people my age, financially especially. I just didn't know that tax percentages were that high, I figured only corporations were taxed that badly.....

whether or not you know how much each state is taxed hardly decides whether or not you know what the "real world" is like
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Old 05-01-2006, 07:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Trust me, from someone who just made the transition--college, and working while in school, is nothing at all like working full-time and paying serious bills--especially student loans. Taxes and FICA are a BITCH (don't get me started).

You should have at LEAST six months of living expenses saved up before making any major purchases. Don't tie yourself into more debt so quickly. Why not save up for the car you want instead of jumping into debt and do it the old fashioned way. Besides, cars depreciate in value quickly. You could put your money into something way more worthwhile.

Furthermore--you're underestimating a LOT of your costs. Think about how much you spend to go out to eat, go to the movies, go to a concert, go have a drink, etc etc. Going out to eat or grabbing a soda or coffee add up really fast. Calculating entertainment and incidental costs into your budget is a must.

The best thing you can do when going into--yes, I'll say it--"the real world" is to live like a poor student for a few months longer. It will allow you to save sooo much money--money that comes in handy during emergencies and provides a hedge against the future. Shoot--save enough and you'd have a down payment for a house. And that's a much better investment than a new car.
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Old 05-01-2006, 07:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjake
please leave the "welcome to the real world...." bullshit at the table. I've been in the "real world" for years now, and have endured much worse conditions that most people my age, financially especially. I just didn't know that tax percentages were that high, I figured only corporations were taxed that badly.....

whether or not you know how much each state is taxed hardly decides whether or not you know what the "real world" is like
no, just that it's a shocker when you expect to get a fat bonus check based on the percentage negotiated only to get 1/2 of it. Had I known that I would have negotiated for much higher percentage to make sure I got what I wanted to pocket, not what I wanted to gross.

That my friend is the real world, the little gotchas and snags, which is what this thread you've posted is about.

You're asking for a reality check on your list of expenses. The real world dictates that things come up unexpectedly which you say you know.

Soon, other things come into play such as taxes, all my friends during the dot com investments all thought they were mack daddy until they cashed out and had to pay huge capital gains tax. Again, I say to them, welcome to the real world.

Trust me, I'm not all that happy about it myself, my rental property will cost me dearly in capital gains tax and depreciations, something I was never expecting nor did I plan on. Same thing goes for the property I live in, the coop has a flip tax payable back to the coop of 7%, then there's paying closing costs, fees for this, fees for that...

all of which does nothing put less greenbacks into my pocket at the end of the day.
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Old 05-01-2006, 08:59 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I understand where you are coming from, but I still highly emphasize my point of believing that the "real world" isn't simply composed of money and how much you make. It's just one of my pet peeves. I've been living in a realer world than most for a while now. I know exactly what the real world is, I need no "welcome" to it. I just need some tips and recommendations on my financial situation

Good job so far everyone, looks like I need to beef up the "everything you can't account for and may be unforeseen" expenses a whole lot. Looks like the car I wanted is out of the question as well.

It's just really annoying purchasing a new car that I don't really want. If I'm going to buy a new car to get me to work and back, I want to want it. It's really tough spending any amount of money on something that you don't want, but need. I need one though, my boss surely won't think it's entertaining when I am 2 hours late for work because my '87 broke down. I guess I need to find something that is cost-efficient but still enjoyable for my personal tastes.
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Old 05-01-2006, 09:26 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjake
I understand where you are coming from, but I still highly emphasize my point of believing that the "real world" isn't simply composed of money and how much you make. It's just one of my pet peeves. I've been living in a realer world than most for a while now. I know exactly what the real world is, I need no "welcome" to it. I just need some tips and recommendations on my financial situation

Good job so far everyone, looks like I need to beef up the "everything you can't account for and may be unforeseen" expenses a whole lot. Looks like the car I wanted is out of the question as well.

It's just really annoying purchasing a new car that I don't really want. If I'm going to buy a new car to get me to work and back, I want to want it. It's really tough spending any amount of money on something that you don't want, but need. I need one though, my boss surely won't think it's entertaining when I am 2 hours late for work because my '87 broke down. I guess I need to find something that is cost-efficient but still enjoyable for my personal tastes.
agreed it isn't. it's also filled with beauracracy and inefficiency. heck I thought BENEFITS will be great! I cannot tell you what a pain in the ass it is having to call up the insurance company and REMIND them that they are supposed to pay for the item they sent me a letter for saying that they have no reason to pay it, they've paid for all the other ones for the past 3 years, why should this be any different?

This insurance stuff for my own issues has taken me the better part of 2 days of work (16 hours) over the past 4 weeks trying to get a stupid piece of paper signed so that I can get a) my disability pay b) continued therapy c) my wife from constantly handing me these letters from the insurance company saying that if they don't get the signature in X days they will consider the case closed and I don't get anything.

You are right real world doesn't just mean the money, it's all the snags, pulls, gotchas, and unforeseens that jump out from behind the bushes when you least expect it and don't have time nor resources to deal with it.

I've been in it so long that when I think I've finally gotten an idea as to what the real world means, something else comes up that I had no idea was my responsibility and surprises me.

Maybe you can find a pre-owned car that is more recent and still has a warranty? You'll spend less initially and still have some piece of mind.
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Old 05-01-2006, 09:56 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjake
I understand where you are coming from, but I still highly emphasize my point of believing that the "real world" isn't simply composed of money and how much you make. It's just one of my pet peeves.

I'll reword what Cynthetiq said for you then. Welcome to the real world of finance. Welcome to the real world of income. Welcome to the real world of taxes. Welcome to the real world of money. Because if you think you know the real worlds of money, and you're planning on buying a $24,000 car when you're netting that much per year, then you don't know those real worlds yet. Sorry to sound harsh, but Cynthetiq was being nice to you by explaining the harsh realities of these real worlds and you were frankly very rude in your reply.

Your savings budget is pathetic. You need to save 6 months of living expenses before you make any purchases. Minimum. Why? Well that would be the real world of corporate downsizing. You could get fired 3 weeks from now. It's happened, more often than you probably realize. I know an electrical engineer who's EXCELLENT at what he does. Got a job with a company - they fired all but 3 of their engineers a month later. He got the axe too because he was the newest guy. He did great work, didn't deserve it, but it happened anyway, and ONLY because he was smart enough to save money did he survive until he found his next job.

You need to turn that $500/month you were going to put into a car and put it instead into a savings account. That'll give you $800 a month towards savings, so you'll save up 6 months of living expenses pretty quickly. THEN and ONLY then should you be worrying about getting a "nice" car. If you already have a car, drive that for now. It won't kill you. If you don't have a car, get a $3,000 Civic or something and drive that until you can REALLY afford, not just "afford but be on the brink of bankruptcy for 4 years" the car.

That is what Cynthetiq means by the real world.
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Old 05-01-2006, 11:15 PM   #19 (permalink)
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As has been said before, you're missing one crucial categories that I have in my budget: Entertainment! You're going to be a really bored guy with a nice car if you never plan on watching a movie, going out for a drink, going on a date, or whatever. I've got entertainment budgeted for 200 a month (a substantial portion of my poor grad student spending) and it's a struggle to keep it to that. Clothing too, which is 40 a month for me.

Something that hasn't been mentioned is a miscellaneous category. Little shit that doesn't fit in anywhere else always pops up. In mine right now I have shampoo, allergy medicine, envelopes, a credit monitoring service I forgot to cancel after the free trial period, and countless other things that were unplanned for, but cost money. 100 a month for me.

I also include a category for discretionary spending, which is basically any long lasting item that I don't have to buy, but I want to. My new bike, for instance, or a new stereo or computer game. You are going to want to buy stuff in the period between now and when you pay off the car loan.

An emergency fund is also essential. I think 6 months is a bit excessive, but at minimum you should have 2 months living expenses in a savings account. This isn't just for if you lose your job: I had some legal trouble that would have been a lot more expensive if I'd had to pay my lawyer with a credit card. Your signing bonus is a great way to start this, but try to get up to two month's expenses fairly quickly.

Beyond that, you probably can still afford the car. The key though is to think: is this what I want all of my disposable income to go to for the next four years? Also, think of all the other things you could do with the money. Travel. Down payment on a house. Getting married.

Since a car is a depreciating asset, once you sign the document you're signing away your financial freedom for four years. As long as you've considered it, go for it. But really think about it.
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Old 05-01-2006, 11:20 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Many good things said in this thread. Everything that has been said about an emergency fund is true. If you get over extended, Mr. Murphy will camp at your doorstep. I've been there. I've done that.
A good rule of thumb on vehicles is that any vehicle that costs more than half your gross income is an serious extravagance. It is generally a bad idea to go into long term debt to purchase anything that goes down in value. New car values go down "like a rock" as the Chevy truck ads say.
But at the very most, don't finance a vehicle for more than 36 months, and pay at least 30% down. If you can't meet those terms, you can't afford it, and that way at least you won't owe (much) more than what the car is worth.

Warren Buffet drives a 2001 Ford Taurus. What's in your wallet?
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Old 05-02-2006, 02:27 AM   #21 (permalink)
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One other thing to consider... and things may have changed a lot since I graduated (this is where I hum a few bars of the times they are a changin'...)

Back when the dinosaurs walked the earth, and a college student's wardrobe (the females too) consisted of baseball caps in every color, band tshirts, sweatpants, flip flops and nikes... and one good interviewing suit... that signing bonus is generally used to go out and purchase a new wardrobe that is work appropriate. Trust me, even if the dress code is business casual... one weeks worth of clothing will set you back a bit, more than likely what you wore to that 8:00am class, won't cut it in an 8:00am meeting.
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Old 05-02-2006, 05:48 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
Your savings budget is pathetic. .

such harsh terms!!!! jesus calm down

it's not "pathetic," it's just misinformed. I wouldn't have started this thread if I knew it was going to be a flamewar about how grossly misunderstated my expenses are. thanks to those who have kept the answers polite and understanding.

and like I said before, I *can't* drive my current car to work. it's just not dependable. I'm tired of buying $3000 used cars that shit out every 6 months too. a new car needs to happen for the professional workplace and to secure my being there at 8:30 AM every single day.

I wasn't rude the least bit to Cynthetiq, and he wasn't rude to me. I just let everyone know what I'm very far into the "real world." "Old people" seem to think that college kids have a blanket over their eyes and depend on mommy and daddy and have no bearings on what the "real world" is like and have no clue how anything works. Try not having anything paid for you. Ever. The "real world" sets in real quick, even in college. You are right about the income tax "real world," however. I wasn't quite "welcomed" to the high rate of taxation. but I am now and I am adjusting my expenses as we speak.

Apartment Rent 600
Television 10
Water 50
Electricity 70
Internet 50
Car Insurance 150
Car Payment 200
Student Loans 300
Food & Entertainment 300
Medical 100
Dental 100
401k 150
Savings 150
cell phone 50
emergency account 200
Total 29760

How does that look? I've added in an emergency account and brought the total per year down to "after taxation." Any more suggestions?
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Old 05-02-2006, 05:54 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I didn't think it rude, brusque maybe but not rude. We're all friends right?

Sometimes friends get annoyed when another friend shows where truth may lie...

I was walking to the office this moring, having to deal with more insurance stuff and here are some more gotchas.

Co-pays: each time you go to the doctor it's $15 (my plan)

Prescriptions: each time I get one, it varies. Formulary is generic and cheap, usually under $10. But get a name brand and it's like $50, remind your doctor that you want generic if it's at all possible. One trip to the doctor for an illness with scripts sent me back about $200 unplanned dollars.

Emergency Room: my copay is $50, if I'm hospitalized it's 0, but then there is a $200 copay. *sigh*

your budget for medical and dental is that what your portion pay is deducted out of your paycheck for your insurance payment?
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Old 05-02-2006, 05:57 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Your 200/month car payment is a lot more realistic. Your car insurance might be unrealistic on the high side. If you're paying 150 a month to insure a car that (assuming a 4 year loan) costs less than 10 grand, either you have a terrible driving record or you need a new insurance company.
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:04 AM   #25 (permalink)
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the one point about taxes i didn't mention -- the more you toss into your 401K -- that will lessen your tax burden - you pay taxes on the after 401K contributions only...

Your apartment? Have you also factored in the necessary deposits(generally 1 -2 months rent) if you are first time renter, some utility companies also require deposits from you as well) What about furniture?

No Cable? or is that part of television/internet?
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:04 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I think that you can definately get a car payment way under $500 and still get a really nice car. I say go for it, you sound like a very responsible individual who knows how to correctly handle all expenses. You deserve it!!!
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:19 AM   #27 (permalink)
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your car purchase, do you have the downpayment already?

another one I forgot: car registration and inspections

renter's insurance, if you have computer, nice tv surround sound, xbox etc. it's about $180 for me in NYC.
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:33 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I'm all for budgeting and making plans, but after having followed along in the thread here, I think that I'm going to suggest using your signing bonus to take your current car to a mechanic to make sure it will be dependable for six months. You've got "savings" budgeted in, and after 6 months, that should give you $900. That can be used for a down payment on a more reliable used car, and there's at the very least scrap value in your current one. Using a 36 month benchmark, you can buy a car for around $5,000 (factoring in interest), which should get you a fairly nice reliable used car. A new car is a terrible use of money since it depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot. Unless you intend on driving it into the ground, it's a bad idea for your first car purchase. You can get a car that's a couple of years old with low milage and a good maintenance history. Sure, it's not as sexy, but that's no reason to buy a new car.

As far as the budget goes, I think that you'll find that you need to rework things in 6 months. The medical and dental payments seem high unless you're paying for them yourself with no contribution from your employer. I've also never needed to pay for water as a renter, so that seems out of place to me, although maybe I've just been lucky. Those items can be used to offset the glaring holes that I see, which are gasoline (figure at least $100/month unless you live very close to work), clothing/toiletries/haircuts ($30/month as a minimum) and local phone (maybe you don't intend to have one?).

Congratulations on the job, by the way!
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Old 05-02-2006, 07:27 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I'm tired of buying $3000 used cars that shit out every 6 months too. a new car needs to happen for the professional workplace and to secure my being there at 8:30 AM every single day.
Maybe you need to do more searching? I got a car for just under 4 that's lasted me almost 4 years with no major costs... still runs clean to this day. I honestly think you'd be better off searching for a couple weeks for a GOOD used car (inspect it yourself, take it to a mechanic, etc, etc..) and use that for the next year or two. Then you can setup with the dream car.

Oh and ignore the ol Fuddy duddies who think they know everything .. I'm with you on the condescension in "welcome to the real world."
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Old 05-02-2006, 09:16 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjake
s
Apartment Rent 600
Water 50
Electricity 70
Two things I saw someone mention that you are going to have to pay 25% in taxes. Im sure its different in NC but it wasnt to long ago I was making 40K and with all my taxes, city included I only paid 19%.

40K is good money, do you like your apartment? That is a pretty cheap place, think there is a chance that you are going to move? Thats is some pretty cheap electricity too. You have no credit cards or lines of credit?
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Old 05-02-2006, 09:45 AM   #31 (permalink)
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I've suggested the same thing for people that are interested in purchasing a home for the first time, but weren't positive they could afford it.

Although it may suck, keep your current car for a while longer and "practice" your vehicle payments of $500.00 per month. Open a seperate savings account and put the money in there - including the increase in insurance coverage. Call your agent and see what it would cost to insure your vehicle per month.

Do this until you are completely certain that you can afford it, even after all the little expenses that you don't expect add up. Providing you can do it without ever touching those funds, I'd say go for it. I could go into the whole "Brand New cars are terrible investments - pick up one that's 6 months old" deal, but you probably already know that, and you have a passion for cars. I don't really, so I can't determine what it is worth to you.

Providing the payments are near what you calculated, in a few months you'll have a decent down payment - if you waited as long as a year you'll have over eight grand to put down - making your payments lower than expected. Or, perhaps, if you don't have it already, you should just hold on to those funds and keep them liquid for six months of reserve income that you should have saved up....


There are two likely outcomes to this scenario:

1) You get down on your knees and thank whatever entity you worship that you didn't buy the car for real

2) You realize that you can easily afford it, and now either have a decent amount saved up or a lower car payment than you expected....

Either way, it works out better for you in the long run

Just a thought
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:48 AM   #32 (permalink)
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WOW thanks for the tips guys!!!

it seems the best option right now for me is to wait 6 months (or more) and see what my actual expenses are and see how much I am actually "bringing in." all of the numbers (besides salary and signing bonus) are estimates.

I will have a down payment for the car (the $3500 signing bonus is a lump sum). but it seems like $500 a month with only pulling in a net income of approximately 30,000 is a bit steep. the plot has thickened. there are a lot of good tips in this thread so far. I'm going to take them ALL into consideration!
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:53 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Quote:
the $3500 signing bonus is a lump sum
Not to sound like a broken record - but that lump sum won't be 3500... taxes should be taken off the top of that...
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Old 05-02-2006, 01:27 PM   #34 (permalink)
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I think you're very smart listing out all of your expenses and thinking of where your money will go BEFORE it goes there, Red- that's very "adult." Way too many times people get their first "real" job and get a house and a car and all that jazz, then realize they're in debt up to their eyeballs.

Something to consider- I'm assuming you're going to stay in Boone, you're going to have salt on the roads A LOT (of course, you know this already). You're also going to have lots of snow and ice and such in the winter- make sure you get a car that can handle the driving conditions where you are. Just like you wouldn't want a black car with a black interior if you lived in Vegas, you probably don't want a front wheel drive car living in Boone in the wintertime. Then you DEFINITELY wouldn't get to work on time!

My 1990 Jeep Cherokee was bought five years ago for $3000. I estimate I've probably done around $1000 worth of work on it in that time (new tires, new brakes, new muffler, the kind of stuff that you need to replace on a 15 year old car). So, for $4000, I have a great car that's got a bajillion miles left in it, and that is dependable like an old friend. I know you really really want a new, shiny, fancy car right now, but realize that buying a car is a HUGE investment, and should not be done lightly.

Make sure you research any car you're thinking about buying, wether it be that new shiny fancy one or just a used one that will get you by right now. Is the car you want generally reliable, or are there tons of people complaining that their cars are always in and out of the shop? Don't just rely on brand names- Mercedes that were made ten years ago are VASTLY different in terms of "crap that needs to be fixed all the time" then Mercedes nowadays. Same with Jeep- they used to be a lot more dependable then they are now. Also, have you considered buying a cheaper version of your "dream car"? Getting the Civic instead of the Acura, or the Kia instead of the Mercedes. Keep in mind that different cars have different rates of insurance- I know that if I was driving Martel's car (2 door 2001 VW GTI) my insurance would be double what it is right now. My brother's insurance dropped when he got an Acura instead of his Civic because Civics are the #1 stolen car (so my brother said).

As far as the piddily things that you spend money on, I think you're starting to get a really good idea of where your money is going to go. I know that it means a LOT to just be able to take a long weekend whenever you want to and not be all "Oh, I can't go do X with my friends becuase I don't have the money in my budget for gas!" There's also all that stuff that comes with your first apartment that you just didn't think about- Paper towel holder, new washer and dryer because you're tired of lugging your dirty laundry to the washroom, extension cords for your computer, new TV stand because you're getting tired of the cinderblock and 2x4 approach to living room furniture... that kinda thing.

It's really great that you're realizing NOW that money is something that really does make the world go 'round. It's unfortunate, but very true. By realizing this now instead of in fifteen years, you'll realize finacial freedom a lot sooner than most people. I think Martel's grandpa said it best : "Only borrow money to make money."
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:15 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Location: Wilson, NC
Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
Not to sound like a broken record - but that lump sum won't be 3500... taxes should be taken off the top of that...

/sigh yes, I realize this
it seems I need to put a disclaimer after every financial figure I type in now saying how I realize it will be taxed and how I feel welcomed into the real world just kidding, thanks for the heads up

Sage, very cool. I'm actually unsure of where I'll be in 6 months. the company I will be working for (and the job I actually accepted) is a program that lasts 6 months to develop recent graduates to be "management" material. I'll be in Winston-Salem for 3 months and Wilson, NC for 3 months. after that, I'll be put in a location where they need me. basically I'm apartment-hopping for half a year.
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:47 AM   #36 (permalink)
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I haven't read all the responses so this may be a repeat, but...you'll never clear more than 75% of your salary after taxes, especially single with no itemized deductions. In many places you'll be taxed more than 25% when you factor in federal, state, local and SSAN.

I'd rather put money into something that grows other than a $500 car payment...save that for later. Get something used or less expensive. You've got plenty of time to make changes. Find out what life is really like before you make big committments!
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:19 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Oh no, I forgot about this and I don't see it mentioned anywhere---unless I just missed it.
In most states you will have to pay SALES TAX on the price of whatever car you get. At, say, 7%, that is $1750 on a $25000 car, plus probably some more for tags.
Lindy

By the way, old cars do not have to be unreliable. Three months ago I drove my 1984 AMC Eagle from Boston to Kansas and back. No problems, and it turned 120k on the trip.
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Old 05-05-2006, 01:32 PM   #38 (permalink)
I'm a family man - I run a family business.
 
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Location: Wilson, NC
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindy
By the way, old cars do not have to be unreliable. Three months ago I drove my 1984 AMC Eagle from Boston to Kansas and back. No problems, and it turned 120k on the trip.
I appreciate the tips but 120k is by no means decrepit - to have a 1984 with 120k miles is wonderful. I'm in a slightly different situation.

And if a car is unreliable, it's unreliable. most of the situations I've been in with cars it would cost more than to purchase another car to get the "unreliable" one to "reliable." Sure, they don't *have* to be unreliable, if you purchase another car - like I'm considering doing

just depends on what you got.
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:37 PM   #39 (permalink)
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I won't speak to your budget, others have, but here's my $.02.

1) Contribute the max to your 401(k) as long as you are buying into a fund and NOT buying stock in your company (that's why all the Enron people lost thier retirement).

2) Find a good, reliable independent certified financial planner. Many CPA's are also certified planners. Create a savings/investment plan that will help you keep more of what you earn and plan for retirement. Wish I had at your age! I'm 46 now, and in good shape, but if I'd had the sense to do some planning and establish some financial discipline, I'd be a fucking millionaire, and I am not kidding you.

3) Buy a nice low mileage used car from a dealer, and arrange your own financing through your bank or credit union. Buy a 10 year/100000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, and get religion about maintenance:

Oil change every 3k miles
Tire rotation every other oil change
Air filter every other tire rotation.
Alignment annually
Flush/Fill radiator, tranny, power steering annually.

I have a 1998 I have put 100k miles, and it will go another 100k. And guess, what, the car will have outlasted the payment by 4 years when I buy a new one. And, I'm banking the payment... I'll pay cash for the new one!
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Old 05-05-2006, 09:37 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjake
"Old people" seem to think that college kids have a blanket over their eyes and depend on mommy and daddy and have no bearings on what the "real world" is like and have no clue how anything works. Try not having anything paid for you. Ever. The "real world" sets in real quick, even in college. . .
Any more suggestions?
If you have put yourself through school without outside help you deserve the respect and admiration of everyone here. You have done a very brave and worthwhile thing. I know that sounds corny, so I want to say it again. You have done a very brave and worthwhile thing. Take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back. No wonder you're pissed about posters thinking you know nothing about "the real world."

Suggestions?

1) Check out http://www.daveramsey.com/ the absolute best financial teacher and counsellor on the planet.
2) Never buy bling-bling on credit.
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