Minivans a good family-car buy?
Minivans aren't cheap, but they may be worth it for your family (Question #4). Also in today's Reader's Mailbag: saving for school (#1), splitting mortgage payments (#6), and finding a credit union (#8).
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When you’re consolidating a set of private student loans, you’re essentially just trading one student loan for another one. You’ll go through many of the same evaluations as a person would when applying for a normal student loan and will get an offer that reflects upon your current credit standing and your income.Skip to next paragraph
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My suggestion to you would be to focus on repairing your credit above all else. If you are earning $50,000 a year, your monthly student loan payments are manageable if you keep your personal life under control and live lean. Keep current on all of your debts for a while.
When you do consider consolidating, I would look to the banks that you’re already borrowing from (and thus have established a solid payment history with) and inquire with them about a consolidation. If you wish to seek other banks, Chase and Wells Fargo are certainly options, as is your local credit union.
Much of this hinges on having a solid credit rating, however. If your rating is poor, you’re not going to get the best rates on a loan consolidation.
Q3: Gift exchange ideas
My extended family is getting together the week after Christmas. We always do a gift exchange, but every year it seems like everyone gets something they don’t want. We don’t want to abandon the gift exchange, but we don’t want to just tell each other what we want, either. Do you have any ideas?
My suggestion is that you shouldn’t worry so much about the gift, but instead focus on the exchange. How can you make the exchange itself more fun?
One way to do that is to put some huge restrictions on the gift. This year, everyone in the exchange is giving their favorite movie as a gift. Next year, everyone is giving their favorite book as a gift. What this does is it encourages both givers and recipients to talk about the things they’re passionate about with people they care about.
Another way to do that is to make the exchange into a bit of a game. Try a “yankee swap,” for example. A “yankee swap” happens when everyone opens their gifts in a certain order (usually going around the room). When you open your item, you show it to everyone, then you can “swap” your newly-opened item for an item someone else has already opened. The first person to open doesn’t get to swap when they open, of course, but they instead get the chance to be the last person to swap, choosing from among everything.
Liven it up and make it fun. Remember that it’s about the exchange, not about the gift. It’s about the time spent with loved ones and the shared experience.
Q4: Buying a minivan
I have a 2001 Lincoln Town Car with 150k+ miles on it. I love it, it’s paid for and I budget for its expense throughout the year fairly comfortably.
My wife and I own three dogs and we travel around the country to basset hound rescue events. (I write a mystery series that features a basset hound and I give the proceeds of the book sales to the rescues.
I’m interested in buying minivan for the dogs to travel in on long trips and to be able to hold boxes of books, luggage etc. I’ve even bought some books on how to convert a minivan into a makeshift RV.
I plan on keeping my Lincoln and using the minivan on other than long trips to prolong its life. I know you did lots of research before purchasing your car. I want a functional and comfortable used minivan and want to know your suggestions for thing s like how much mileage, year, model etc that you might recommend considering the way I intend to use it….that is, hauling dogs, long trips and some around town use.
Given that you’re going to be driving on long trips with a number of animals on board, my reaction would be that your utmost priority with a minivan purchase would be reliability.