Back Property Taxes Building Up But Have a Chance to Work. – Linda

“Dear Steve,

My disability income is $2200.00 per month. I am allowed to work without jeopardizing my disability income if the job pays less than 1000.00 per month. I just began looking for a part-time job. Should not be difficult since I have clerical skills and years of customer service experience. However, I have not worked since 2006. My credit rating is poor because of writeoffs when I became disabled.

I am 9000.00 behind on property taxes. Past due almost 5000, 2000 due in April and 2000 due in October. I have no savings.

Last week my car was totaled and the insurance company is giving me 4000. I have been approved by a car dealership for a 2008 Ford Escape. Certified used with almost a 50,000 mile warranty. Payments of 235.00 per month for 5 years.

Should I get the Ford Escape or look for a used car that costs no more than 4000? I recently saw a 1999 saturn with 82000 miles. It has been kept in superb shape and selling for 3200.00.

It has a Car Fax that confirms one owner who has every maintenance record since 1999. Everyone tells me it is too old to buy. My previous car was a 2002 Saturn SL that never gave me any major problems. It had 64000 miles.

Steve, should I buy a 1999 Used Saturn SL in superb shape with every maintenance receipt since 1999 from 1 owner for 3200.00. It has 82000 miles on it or buy a Ford Escape 2008, certified, with almost a 50,000 mile warranty. Payments of 253.00 per month for 5 years.

I should take into consideration I am behind with property taxes or this would be a no brainer. I believe can get a part-time job to pay for the Escape. My only debt is the property taxes. Need an answer asap since I have to decide about the Escape by tomorrow.

Thank you very, very much,



Dear Linda,

This is one of those situations where there is no perfect answer but I can give you my opinion.

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It seems to me that to prevent your home from being sold for back taxes owed on it we need to address that debt. The income will help you to pay that debt off and start building an emergency fund.

But to maximize the income to save your home, the Saturn is the better choice since you can buy it for cash from the insurance settlement and not have a monthly payment.

The age of the vehicle does not concern me. A well maintained vehicle can run for years. in fact I have a 1971 Jeep I drive.

The 1999 Saturn SL is said to get an average of 29 miles per gallon while the 2008 Escape gets 21 MPG.

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So the Saturn will be less expensive to operate and most likely less expensive to insure as well.

I would suggest you make absolutely sure that you take the Saturn in for all it’s recommended service checks and change the oil as directed to keep in running in top shape.

If you have any reservations about buying the Saturn, consider asking the seller if you can have it inspected at a local GM dealer before you commit to buying it. Of course you’d pay for the inspection. If the dealer says things look good then I can’t see any reason to hesitate in buying it.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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