Besides buying a home, a car is likely the next most expensive item we’ll ever purchase. Before you hit the ground running on the journey of buying a car, here are few tips that can help you make a calm, collected, and educated decision on your final purchase.
Do your homework ahead of time
Resist the urge of randomly walking into dealerships with car lots the size of a small country and no clear idea of what you want. This approach can quickly turn into a time consuming, anxiety-filled experience. Instead, do yourself a favor and take the time to write out a list of all your must-haves and deal-breakers.
Think about the following and get clear on your preferences: Cash or leased? Brand new or certified used? Specific brand(s) you’d like to focus on? Price range? And any other factors you may consider important and relevant to your personal life situation. I would highly recommend doing this ahead of time. It can help save you a lot of time and stress.
Research financing options
If you plan to finance your vehicle, here’s what I would suggest:
- Once you narrow down your car choice(s) go ahead and listen to what kinds of deals the dealership offers for your car loan then ask for a day or two to think about your options
- Run to your local community bank or credit union and see what kind of deals you can get through them. Most of the time you’ll find that community banks or credit unions offer far better deals in interest rates than a for-profit dealership. Also, if you work for a city or state agency, for instance, your organization may have specific employee deals and discounts for these kinds of purchases
Avoid buying anything out of negative emotion, pressure, or fear of missing out
It is the job of the salesperson to make you feel as if you are losing out on the deal of a lifetime if you don’t “buy now” or “buy right this second”. If at any time you feel like the salesperson is pressuring you into signing agreements you are not clear about, is rushing through the terms and conditions and not answering your questions clearly, and/or makes you feel pressured in any way – that’s probably a red flag to walk away. You should be given the freedom and the flexibility of taking some time to review all the terms and conditions at your own pace.
Is never a good idea to purchase big ticket items out of fear or pressure. You don’t want to be in a situation where you sign something you didn’t agree with in the first place and then are stuck with something you don’t want – plus a hefty loan – for the next several years of your life.
Remember that car expenses go above and beyond the monthly car payments
We often forget about all the other expenses that come with the territory of owning a vehicle. Expenses include but are not limited to the cost of car insurance and whether you’ll need full coverage, the cost of gas, additional miscellaneous expenses such as cost of daily tolls (if applicable), yearly inspections, registration renewals, and the list goes on. Look at the whole picture and make sure you take it all into consideration before hitting the ground running with the purchase of your new (or new to you) vehicle. Make sure you can comfortably afford all the extra expenses that come with owning a car.
Hope these tips help guide you on the right path towards the purchase of your next vehicle. While some of the suggestions may seem time consuming, it’s better to take the time to make educated decisions and feel good about your purchase as opposed to taking the quick route and then feeling regret. The choice is yours!