Wednesday, April 19, 2017

5 Frugal Tips For Buying A Car

When you’re looking to purchase a new car, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the options and fear either being smooth talked by a greasy dealer, or screwed by an online seller. Whether you’re looking for a new or used vehicle, it’s normal to be nervous - but know that, with the right information, you can go into the interaction with confidence, and avoid any buyer’s remorse after all the papers are signed.

Here are my 5 tips for buying a car as a frugal person:

Budget Before Anything Else

Before you even start thinking about what kind of car you want, or how useful a replacement - or your first car after a long stint of using public transportation (or ever) - will be, sit down and crunch those numbers. Work out what kind of budget you’re working with, and make sure to be realistic. Sure, the first month of owning something shiny you’ll happily go without going out to eat, movie tickets or new video games, but six months in? That’s gonna get pretty old.

If you haven’t yet made a personal budget, now’s the time! If you’re yearning for financial freedom, or just want to feel more in control of your life, understanding where your dollars go each month is the first step towards making better choices.

Know What You Want

One of the worst decisions I see with those looking to purchase a car is that they’ll jump in and start looking at what’s available before considering what they really need. This makes it pretty easy to get swept away in the excitement of that sporty, shiny number that’s at the top of your budget, only to find a month later that you really need something that can fit more than four people - oh and can tow a few tons.

Before you set out to decide what kind of car you want, consider what you’ll be using it for. Are you a commuter in a big city, or do you live in a sleeper town and drive far distances at higher speeds? Do you ever want to be able to tow campers, trailers or carts? How many people do you want to be able to transport at once?

Know Your Facts

Before contacting a dealer or seller of any kind, it’s important that you know what’s referred to as the “trust cost to own,” or the expected amount you’ll need to pay to keep the car maintained over its lifespan and also is the car is safe. A great resource is Edmund’s Trust Cost To Own Calculator, which shows you what you can expect with the make, model, year and style of your chosen vehicle. However, don’t forget to add in the risk factor - if you have an older car, it may cost less according to the calculator, but it will also be worth less should it be totalled. Compare these costs and factors for your top three to five choices, and move forward accordingly.

Shop Around

Once you’ve decided on a type of car - and likely a few models you’re most interested in, because at that point it’s hard to resist - start shopping around for the best place to buy. This is also the time to compare your budget to your needs, and decide if you’re buying new or used, which will depend on a combination of your needs, how much you’re willing to spend, and your preferred type of vehicle.

As with most large purchases, from homes to overseas vacations to luxury items, don’t just talk to one seller. Consult at least three different dealership for a new car, and check online for any sales or opportunities for both new and used. In many cases, you can mention the price another seller is willing to settle for and use it as a bargaining chip with another.

Kick Those Tires

Lastly, make sure to vet the car that you find, even if it seems perfect and being sold at an unbeatable price. Make sure to ask plenty of questions, and I strongly suggest having a mechanic or knowledgeable friend come inspect any used car before purchasing - especially if you’re buying through an online marketplace like Craigslist or EBay.

Buying a car is a big decision, but if you come into the situation with a solid understanding of what you want and what you’re willing to pay, you’ll be confident of your choices throughout the process.

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