I love my overflowing inbox filled with questions from my dear readers. What I don’t love is not being able to respond personally to each and every one!
So today, rather than trying to decide which ones to answer, how about I just reach in and let’s see what comes out.
Upside Down in a Durango
Dear Mary: I have a Dodge Durango gas guzzler and I owe way too much money on it. If I sell the vehicle outright, I could probably squeak by ending up just $5,000 in the hole. If I trade it in, I would be about $9,000 in the hole.
I could put the shortfall on a credit card, but I know that is a bad idea for so many reasons. What should I do to pay the difference?
We have an old pick-up truck and an older Subaru that will be okay 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 they will pre-approve you for a fixed-rate, short term loan to cover the shortfall. Explain your situation. Now you can feel comfortable advertising the car for sale.
Once you locate a willing and able buyer, call the bank and have them 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 to transfer the title to the new buyer. You will walk away with a new loan, but shorter in term than the auto loan you have now and with a smaller payment, too.
READ: Debt-Proof Living
Oven: Hot Mess
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 still 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) on it 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.
DIY Spreadable Butter
Dear Mary: I love the soft texture and spreadability of whipped butter, but the stuff in the tubs is to me questionable nutritionally and costs more when compared to stick butter.
My favorite is the butter that is whipped with olive oil. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make my own whipped butter? I have no idea what type of proportions I would need, or if a third ingredient is necessary so it will easily spread. Sara
Dear Sara: Yes, you can do this yourself and quite easily! You’ll need two sticks of real butter (that’s one cup, and please do not substitute with margarine), 1 cup of canola or olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and an electric mixer.
Allow the butter to come to room temperature in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix it with the electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds or until it becomes creamy. Keep the mixer running and add the oil in a small, steady stream. Add the salt. Keep mixing until it looks very light and fluffy.
Store the whipped butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy its spreadability even straight from the refrigerator.
By the way, despite rumors to the contrary, canola oil is not toxic according to Berkeley Wellness (see Canola Oil Myths and Truths). And while it is more cost effective to use canola oil, research from Livestrong (Is Canola Oil More Healthy Than Olive Oil?) reports the nutritional value of canola oil and olive oil are almost identical.
Dying Car? Maybe It’s Only Sick
Dear Mary: My car is dying after 10 years. I’m now stuck with trying to come up with financing for another car. Any extra money I have after bills and rent goes towards 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
RELATED: 25 Ways to Save $1,000 a Month
Dear Paula: I’m not convinced that your old car is terminal. Repairs—even expensive repairs—are cheaper than big new 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.
Then start saving by cutting out all unnecessary spending so you can pay cash for a replacement car in a couple of years. And good luck!