Car Crash Classroom


Hi Scott,

I am a 25-year-old teacher and I got a car loan in my second year of uni. I had no idea what interest rates were, or how getting a loan worked, and just signed away on the first deal I got accepted for (which ended up being a fixed rate loan with a 17% interest rate). I have now finished uni and am teaching, earning $63,000 p.a. I want to start saving towards my first house, but I have had the car for four years and still owe $8,000! How do I go about fixing this mess?


Scott's Answer

Hi Sarah,

Honk your horn, because you just got totally rear-ended on that deal.

You signed up to a 17% p.a interest rate, fixed for the term of the loan?

Hopefully the term of the loan is five years, which would mean you’ll be free in 12 months’ time. (Though it’s worth checking your contract to see if you can repay early without penalty.)

Unfortunately, I have no magic wand for you. However, you can be the fairy godmother to your students, by making sure they don’t fall for the same trap you did.

So what I want you to do Sarah is to stand up in front of your class and tell your students just how ‘toot, toot, chugga, chugga-d’ you got when you bought a car.

Actually, don’t do that, they’ll use it against you.

Here’s how old Barefoot would teach it.

(It involves harnessing their hormones ‒ their desire to buy a car, travel, party, and get rich!)

Here goes:

I’d channel my inner Oprah and start running between the desks and yelling at the kids:

“You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!”

(Sorry … got a bit carried away there. Let’s get serious.)

Okay, students. Eyes front. Shoes off. Barefoot is here.

Step 1: Research a car you’d like to buy

Don’t censor yourself ‒ it can be any car you want (new or second hand).

Write down two things:

The cost of the car, which will involve some online research.

And why you chose this particular dream machine: Is it fast? Cute? Would it make you 10% more attractive?

(The class can then vote on the cars the students have chosen.)

Step 2: Decide how you’re going to pay for it

Let’s say you earn $30,000 a year once you leave school, which gives you $2,100 a month in your hand.

You can get a car loan with super-easy low monthly repayments. Why wouldn’t you?

Or you can save up and buy something for cash (though not as flash).

Step 3: App It Up

Download ‘Money Smart Cars’, a nifty car app from which automatically calculates all the ongoing costs of owning a car.

Here’s an example:

Lucy buys an adorable 2016 Suzuki Swift for $13,000 and takes out a car loan at the car yard.

How much will this car cost Lucy over the next five years?



Go to the app and type in the details. After factoring in rego and insurance, interest and running costs (including $50 a week in petrol), the total cost of owning the Suzuki after five years is … a Swift $53,765!

(That’s Oprah money right there)