When is an Auto Loan a Good Debt

In November 2007 another 189,000 jobs were added to our economy. It is pertinent to write a bit about one tool that many newly employed people may be needing to stay employed: an automobile.

A car, a truck, a SUV, it doesn’t really matter. The point of this piece is that, for the most part, workers in the U.S. must commute to work. We typically don’t live very close to our employer’s offices these days, making transportation a necessity.

Cars and trucks are expensive things, however, so for those who have just reentered the workforce in recent months, this can be a problem. What can make matters worse, people who have been out of work for a while may have bad or no credit. Auto loans financing can be difficult to get sometimes. Fortunately, there exist lenders who can work with people that find themselves in this tough situation.

You may have heard it said before that there are two types of debts: good debts and bad debts. Good debts are typically considered to be mortgages and student loans, things that one owes on now, but that will generate a higher return in the future. “Bad debts” are debts owed on things that lose value over time. Generally, autos are put into this category.

This overlooks something I discussed previously, that cars and trucks are now (most of the time) the means by which one is able to get to work to earn money in the first place. A car or truck purchased with a loan for this purpose is then more similar to a loan taken out for education; it is purchased as a tool that will enable one to generate a higher return than one would have been able to without borrowing the money. The auto can be used for other purposes, of course, but if this is the primary reason for buying it and not some poor reason like “status,” then the other uses are just gravy.

There are no good or bad loans, there are just loans taken out for wise or unwise purposes. As long as you’ve considered and measured the costs versus benefits, and if you find that the benefits outweigh the costs, then you can’t go wrong.