If you're in the market for a new car, don't even think about leasing one.
That's according to financial expert and bestselling author of "Women and Money " Suze Orman.
"I personally think you should never, ever ever ever, lease a car, do you hear me?" she tells CNBC Make It.
That's because when you lease, you're pouring in money each month with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. "If you rent a car, you're going to rent a car year in and year out," Orman says.
If you don't have the cash to buy a car outright, Orman says it's perfectly fine to finance one, but make sure that you won't need to make payments for longer than three years. If you have to finance it for longer than that, then "you can't afford the car that you're going to buy."
Orman also suggests buying used, because unlike a home, a car will never increase in value. "The second you drive that car off the lot, it depreciates, 10 percent, 20 percent," she says. "Let somebody else get that depreciation."
While owning a car is non-negotiable for many people, the vehicle itself doesn't need to be flashy or expensive. It's a utility that should be driven as long as it remains safe and reliable. In fact, Orman herself chooses to keep her cars for 12 years or more. It's also smarter to go with a model you can afford than one that looks impressive.
"One of the best ways to build financial security is to spend the least amount possible on a car that meets your needs," Orman wrote in a 2017 blog post. "Forget about the bells and whistles you want. Paying less helps you pay off the car faster."
Bottom line: It's not worth shelling out thousands of dollars on car lease you won't own in the end, or attempting to finance a fancy model just to keep up with the Joneses. It's smarter to prioritize other financial goals, such as saving for retirement or buying a home.
"Do you want to spend money you don't have to impress people you don't even know and like so when you drive up to a stop sign, they can admire you when you can't even afford the car you're driving?" Orman says. "Don't do that to yourself."
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