Listening to Car Talk over the last few weeks, I’ve heard a similar refrain. Something like, "my car is paid off so I’m ready to buy a new one." Today, it was, "We need to decide which car to sell–my husband’s or mine, because we need a minivan. But mine is paid off and his isn’t."
a. when making the decision to buy a new car, it’s irrelevant that your old car is paid off. Just because you’ve finally paid it off doesn’t mean you should automatically go into debt again.
b. and debt is fungible, so you can sell either car and pay off whichever debt you need to.
American consumers have persuaded themselves that buying something is one thing, going into debt something totally different.