Cars... sometimes they feel like one of those things that you can't live with and you can't live without. I am sure everyone has experienced the sinking feeling that comes with out-of-the-blue car problems, which always leave us with the tough questions... to fix or not to fix. Although protecting your investment and choosing to fix your car is often times the best decision, there always comes a point when it is just not worth it anymore and you find yourself preparing to brave the stressful and sometimes overwhelming task of buying a new car as well as all those "pushy" salesmen.
While we can't really help lower the stress of car purchasing, we can help you make sure that you bank account doesn't get hit harder than it should by overpaying at the car lot. Here are some simple tips to remember when you head out to buy a new ride.
1) Research & Shop Around Before Buying: This is a great way to be prepared with a list of what you are wanting, what it is worth, and what dealers around you are selling it for. If you don't know before going out, you will have only the word of the salesman to guide you, and we all know they may not be looking out for your best interest.
2) Don't Finance Through the Dealer: Apply for an auto loan through your local bank or credit union. You will get far better rates outside of the dealer then you would if you finance directly through them.
3) Even Better Tip, Don't Finance at All!: If you can afford it, paying for your car with cash is the best way to save money because you won't be paying interest on a loan and you may get a discount from the dealer as well.
4) Go at the End of the Month: Most salesmen have quotas that they have to reach, so they may be more likely to negotiate on price to secure a sell at the end of the month to help them reach their goals.
5) Negotiate: I am sure everyone knows this tip, but it is really one of the best ways to save money. If you aren't comfortable bargaining with a salesman, maybe plan on bringing someone you trust with you who will be able to negotiate on your behalf.
6) Watch Out for "Games" and Up-Sells: There are lots of ways to disguise the overall cost of the car, so make sure you are looking at the whole package and not just the monthly price/rebates, etc. Also be aware of the extras that can be added on to the final price. Those little extras can really start to add up and put you over budget. Know what you want going in the sale and stand firm on that.
7) Don't Let it Get Personal: One of the worst things you can do is start to gush over a car and become attached to it. The salesman sees that you are sold and will not be as free in negotiations if they know you probably won't walk away from the car. Stay detached through the process and show them you are all business.
8) Finally, The Classic Advice - Buy Used: Really this is the best way to save money. Buying used doesn't always mean driving an old junker, or an unreliable vehicle, but buying a car at least a year old will save you tons! As you have all heard, a car loses quite a bit of value the moment it drives off the lot for the first time. Buying used makes sure that you aren't the one to take a huge hit on the value of the car.
One final thought about buying a car - make sure to talk to your insurance agent before purchasing a car. They will be able to tell you what a new car would do to your insurance premium. It's better t see the whole picture before making a decision that could cause you issues for years to come.
Good luck and enjoy that new car smell!