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How to Have Confidence in Buying Versus Leasing Your Car

To buy or lease a car
Jen Miller
Written by Jen Miller

Weigh the pros and cons of buying versus leasing a car in order to make the right choice.

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Should You Lease or Buy Your Next Car?

With a little more knowledge—the pros, cons, and known variables when it comes to buying your next car or leasing, you CAN have the confidence to make the best decision for you and/or your family.

Let’s Bottle the New Car Smell …

As iconic and memorable as fresh-cut grass on a spring day (with or without the allergies) or walking past a Mrs. Fields’ Cookies store in the Mall, the “New-Car Smell” evokes an undeniable emotion. It brings freshness, clean carpet mats, no gum in between the seats, a chance to adjust all the settings for the first time, new beginnings. People love new cars whether they lease or buy but there are so many questions to answer and choices to make. Stone leather or black cloth seats? SUV or Sedan? Base model or fully loaded? Hybrid, Electric or plain old gas?

When it comes to buying a car, everything is personal, and many factors contribute to the personalized choices we make. A woman wearing a skirt may think twice before settling into black leather seats on a hot, steamy August day in Houston. While a young dad may want to wait a few years before buying that wildly awesome, two-seater sports car the day after his wife delivers their fourth kid. With all the factors and decisions that contribute to WHAT we buy, why would HOW we buy the car be any different?

When it Comes to Buying or Leasing a Car, It’s All Personal

Wondering whether you should lease or buy? Consider these tips:

Say YES to Leasing If …

  • You don’t like to part with your money – Depending upon how much – or if – you put money down, you can spend less money each month to pay for your leased car. That’s because you only pay for the value of the car that you drive instead of buying and owning the value of the entire car.
  • You don’t want to part with your money, Part Deux – Leased cars come with factory warranties that pay for most repairs. So, unless you hit a pot hole that cracks the spring on your axel, or a rock shatters your windshield, you won’t find yourself reaching deep into your pockets to maintain your car.
  • You don’t like long goodbyes – Forget uploading pics to Craigslist and waiting for someone to contact you to buy your car. When your lease is up, simply return the vehicle to the dealership and they’ll put you in a brand-new, spiffy car.
  • Lower sales tax – You only pay tax on the portion of the car you use (the term of the lease), instead of the entire car.
  • The new car smell makes you drool – It’s just that good.

Say NO to Leasing If …

  • You want to own your car – No, you can’t lease AND own your car, too. Leasing is like a monthly rental fee. There’ no ownership in the word LEASE, but you do have an option to buy, if you say pretty please … and pay additional fees.
  • You want to own your car, Part Deux – Yes, just like renting versus owning a house, in the long run, leasing is more expensive than buying and keeping your car for years. That’s because you don’t own anything at the end of the lease so you have no equity and nothing to sell. You just stop paying for using the car.
  • You love long-drives along the coastline – Leases come with a set number of miles that you can negotiate at the time you sign your agreement BUT you can’t exceed without financial penalty. If you drive to and from school or work, leasing can be a great option because you can anticipate your costs based upon the miles, give or take a few extra for special trips. Just know that if you go over, you might pay up to $.10 – $.15 per mile. It’s easy to forget how many miles it takes to get from one place to another, so those invisible miles pile up fast.
  • Oops, you scraped the side of the car getting out of a tight parking spot – Damages and excessive wear-and-tear charges may surprise you when you turn in the car. Remember, the dealership doesn’t own your car, the bank (or whatever loan agency you’ve chosen) does and no one wants their property returned in lousy condition. If you loaned your sister a sweater and she accidentally got a hole in it, wouldn’t you want her to repair it or at least give you a couple of bucks to fix it?

Say YES to Buying if …

  • Customization is your middle name – Love the remote start on your friend’s car but didn’t get it when you bought your car? Want to boost the sound with a new set of speakers? Feel free … you own the car!
  • You’re all about the economics – Don’t care about the new car smell, new gadgets or maintenance fees, then ownership is your ticket. It’s less expensive in the long-run to buy because you have equity. The car has a value and you can sell it any time you want.
  • You love the wind blowing through your hair – Feel free to drive as much as you’d like. There’s no financial penalty for taking long and frequent road trips.

Say NO to Buying if …

  • You’re not much of a gymnast – As in you don’t like being financially “Upside Down.” In car terms, this means that when you want to sell your car you owe more on your loan than the car is worth. So, when you buy a car, you may need to put down more money up front to avoid this flip flop circumstance.
  • You aren’t into laying out a lot of cash each month – Lease payments tend to be less than financing your car because when you buy, you are paying off the entire purchase price of the vehicle. More of your disposable cash, therefore, is tied-up in your car, which depreciates in value.
  • Your Craigslist account needs TLC – When it comes time to sell your car, unless you personally know a buyer, get ready to spend time and energy taking and posting pics, fielding questions, arranging to meet buyers and then dealing with the paperwork. How much is your time worth?

Bottom Line Tips …

  • Get a feel for how many miles you drive in a year and determine if you can stay within both your mileage and dollar budgets.
  • If you own a business, check with your accountant to determine whether it’s better to lease or own.
  • Whether you lease or buy, be sure to ask what fees are included in the payments. Additional fees may include: registration, taxes, docking fees, etc.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

  • Without any warning, one summer Sunday night I had a heart attack. Unlike most women, I experienced every male symptom: left arm pain, the sweats and chest pain. I blew off every one of them, making an excuse for each problem: I had had a pinched nerve in my left arm a few months before; it was a hot, June night and we never turn up our AC; I had indigestion. I couldn’t sleep and twelve hours later I went to the local Medi-Merge, where, upon hearing my symptoms, the staff threw me on to the exam table. An hour later, I was rushed to the hospital. Clearly, it was an unusual event for a non-smoking, healthy woman in her forties with no medical history of heart disease and low blood pressure. The day I had my heart attack, I worked out and during the week, I had coached a girls soccer team. In short, there was no reason for me to have a heart attack; but, I did. The docs found a small blood clot and I was stented. Two weeks later, I was back in the hospital after suffering a Pulmonary Embolism, caused by a blood clot. 


  • Five years later, I accept that my EKGs come with a “New Normal.” I accept that for the rest of my life I will be advised to take a Statin, even though I have low cholesterol. I accept that when I don’t feel well that I need to pay attention to my symptoms. I DON’T accept any mental limitations on my life as a result of the heart attack. 

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I appreciate every day that I can and will get up almost every morning, without prompting or trepidation, to work out. I am disciplined to work-out on my own and push my limits as far as i can take it that day. And some days I can go further and faster than other days, and I’ve learned to appreciate and accept that. I don’t work out for anyone else but myself. I love the feeling I get when I challenge my body through another work-out, whether it’s yoga, cardio, strength or something I’ve made up on my own. As a result of my daily work outs, I appreciate that I have more energy than most people my age (and even younger). I recently hosted some friends down the Shore but had to work while they hung out on the beach. I woke up early and went for a 4-mile run, drove 3 1/2 hours round trip and worked all day and after dinner, all my friends were ready to fall asleep while I was still raring to go. I have fun and I am not competitive with anyone but myself when I work out (I save competition for other places, and I’m not shy about that), and I am pretty damn competitive with my inner self. The best news is that I always win.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

  • Several years ago, as a Brand Marketing Consultant for Nike, I recognized that the project for which I was hired had potential to reach more participants in a more relevant way. I recognized a missed business opportunity and convinced the sports marketing director to look at the program differently. Soon, I reinvented a one-off sports clinic for girls in two cities, built it to scale and turned it into a national 17-market program aligned with the WNBA. I am incredibly proud of the fact that not only do I have a knack for recognizing missed business opportunities but I have the vision (and courage) to change and evolve. 


  • I am quite proud of the fact that people have described me as a good listener and as someone who is open to change, evolution and new ideas. I look at possibilities and opportunities before I look for a reason not to do something new. 


  • It’s easy to say that my kids are my greatest achievement; but, if “achievement” is defined as a skill accomplished successfully, then I’m not positive that my kids are an achievement I can claim. People tell me my three daughters are incredibly polite, easy to talk to, smart, sensitive and engaging, all traits that make a Momma proud. But they (and my husband) have a lot to do with that. So, I’ll claim partial credit for the kid thing.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

  • I’m a huge fan of imperfection. In fact, my former business partner and I based our communications company on Wabi Sabi, the Japanese philosophy that values impermanence and imperfection. I feel that perfection is highly overrated, and often becomes an excuse when we can’t find a way to move forward. It’s easy to say, “I’m not finished with this project because I’m a perfectionist.” About 15 years ago, I received the best compliment from a colleague when we worked together on the design of marketing materials. I wanted to keep tweaking the design, claiming, “I’m a perfectionist.” He looked at me and said, “With all due respect, Jen, you’re NOT a perfectionist. You usually know when to let go and move on.” Wow, I thought, that was a great relief and gave me a sense of freedom.


  • With that said, I happily embrace my imperfections, and I have many. I’m not a perfect Mom: I don’t always say the right things to my kids at the right times, and I often let them down as a result. I’m certainly not a perfect wife: I get mad at my husband when he doesn’t “get me,” and I often miss cues when he wants me to get him. I’m not always a great friend: I’ve been known to put work before my friends and I forget to check in on them. I’m also chronically late and often disorganized. None of these imperfections I intend or embrace as positives. I strive everyday to listen to the people who matter to me to make sure that I pay attention to what matters to them. I strive to be better, and I always want to improve, evolve and change … but I’m not afraid of imperfection. In fact, there’s something unique and beautiful in imperfection, which is a very Wabi Sabi thing.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I’m an optimistic person and I love to share that positive attitude with others, usually with some sort of creative flare. Not much stops me from turning a bad situation into something good, or finding a great opportunity from something that someone else would view as a negative. Perhaps that lends to my energy as well.

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About the author

Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen Miller, a consumer experience and marketing executive, and her team leads a bi-monthly series of workshops, on-line resources, discussions and clinics to help women navigate their way through the car buying to service experiences: after all, for many women, the car buying and service experiences are a metaphor for empowerment and tackling challenges women didn’t think they could overcome. Designed to help women build confidence and connect with other women in North Jersey, the Mustang Sally’s Now program provides tools and resources on topics such as negotiation acumen, finance, business kills, communication – and yes, cars. -- AND

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