Dear Mary: I have a Dodge Durango gas guzzler, and I owe way too much money on it. If I were to sell the vehicle outright, I could probably squeak by with just $5,000 in the hole. If I trade it in, I would be about $9,000 in the hole. What should I do to pay the difference?
I could put the shortfall on a credit card, but I know that is a bad idea for so many reasons. We have an old pickup truck and an older Subaru that will be OK for now, but how do I get out of the loan and the Durango? And how can I sell it to someone when I don't have a clear title? Any help will be appreciated. — Linda
Dear Linda: There's no perfect solution here, but here's a plan that might work:
Before you do anything, go to your bank or credit union and see if it will pre-approve you for a fixed-rate short-term loan to cover the shortfall. Explain your situation. Then you can feel comfortable advertising the car for sale.
Once you locate a willing and able buyer, call the bank and have it prepare the papers for the exact amount that you need to pay off the vehicle.
Ask the buyer to bring his funds and accompany you to the lender's office to pay off the vehicle and transfer the title to him. You will walk away with a new loan that's shorter in term and has a smaller payment than the auto loan you have now.
Dear Mary: I have a big problem. I turned on my oven without removing a Tupperware container of cookies, and the plastic melted all over the bottom of the oven. I was able to scrape some of it off, but a lot remains. Do you have a solution for me? — Lorna
Dear Lorna: Tupperware is made of low-density polyethylene, which is resistant to any kind of solvent. Don't even waste your time with oven cleaners. Instead, put ice in a bag and on the mess to make it brittle, and chip it off. Scrape off the residue with a putty knife or similar flat-edged blade. It's a lot of work and a real pain, but not the end of the world.
Dear Mary: My car is dying after 10 years. I'm now stuck in trying to come up with financing for another car. Any extra money I have after bills and rent goes toward savings and credit card debt. To afford payments on a car, I will probably have to reduce the amount I have going to my retirement account and cut back on the extra payments on my credit card. Would it be better for me to lease a car or buy a late-model used car? — Paula
Dear Paula: I'm not convinced that your old car is terminal. Repairs — even expensive repairs — are cheaper than new big car payments every month. Find a good mechanic who will do what needs to be done to keep your car running for a few more years. Use the tactics you mention to pay cash for the repairs. Start saving now so you can pay cash for a replacement car in a couple of years. And good luck!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.