Dear Mary: My wife and I are having a disagreement. I want to lease a new car now, because ours is old and paying for repairs is like flushing money down the drain. She wants to keep it until we can afford to buy a better car. I hate car trouble and think peace of mind is something to be considered. I’m sure we can afford the payment, but she’s not. What should we do? — James R.
Dear James: I’d rather shove toothpicks under by fingernails than ever lease a new car again (which is a story for another time, but enough about me). Here’s my advice to you: Do whatever you must to keep the old car running for now. But for the next 12 months, live as though you are making $300 monthly lease payments — but make those payments to yourselves. Don’t even think about being late, just as if you were under a stern leasing contract. After a year, will have two things: a good idea of your comfort zone for big lease payments and $3,600 cash. Then you’ll have options. You can sell the clunker and buy a better used car with the cash, or you can make a down payment on a newer car. For me, buying a car is far better than jumping into a lease where you will spend a fortune and have nothing, not even a car, to show for it at the end of the lease period.