I have said it before and I will say it again, purchasing a car can be stressful. Like I’d rather get a root canal stressful -thankfully, we don’t have to do it all the time, especially if you shop smart the first time around. Being prepared and thinking ahead can save you a lot of headache in the future. There are a few steps you can take to make sure you don’t end up back at that dealership again in the near future –
Set a Budget. Before you even start thinking about the kind of car you want or taking a car on a test drive, you need to figure out what you can afford. Whether it’s a cash purchase, lease or loan, establishing your budget is one of the smartest decisions you can make for yourself. Trust me, it’s hard to sit down and figure out what you can afford when the salesman is dangling a set of keys in front of your face! Most financial experts will recommend spending no more than 20% of your monthly income on a car purchase. (Also think insurance,maintenance, repairs, etc).
Figure Out What You Need. To be honest this was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I made my vehicle purchase a few months ago. You never realize what you had until it’s go – extra cargo space, window locks, automated seats, more than one charger outlet, remote smart. Those are just some of the things I didn’t even think of when I made my new purchase. I was just so excited about purchasing a new car, I jumped the gun. Make a list of needs and wants, and establish what vehicles you need to look at – and which ones to avoid. I thought since my step-son was grown and on his own that I wouldn’t need the 3rd row seat, but I didn’t realize how accustomed I came to using that for cargo space -especially during ball season! We are piled high and packed now when I load up all the equipment and family into the car, something I took for granted before. If you’ve already established the budget in step 1, making your final choices on what type to look for just got a little easier.
Do Your Homework. Now that you know what you want (and what you can afford) now it’s time to narrow down the list. Pick your favorite, along with two other comparable vehicles and price them out. Unfortunately when you are purchasing a used car, you can’t just order your specifics – having a few different options, and knowing the going ‘rate’ on them, can help narrow the choices down as you shop at the dealership.
Negotiate. Once you’ve made your final decision – after all the above steps of course – get a price offer on paper. Tell them you want their best offer now, and then let them know you will think it over. Take the offer call, email, etc to other local dealers to get a second price on a similar vehicle. Once you have a price lower than your original offer, take that back to your dealership. It may take a bit of time with all the going back and forth, but it will be worth your time to get the best deal possible.