You want a car that’s affordable. That’s no surprise. What is a surprise is just how many drivers go about achieving that in exactly the wrong way. Having a smaller budget doesn’t mean you have to buy an old tin can-on-wheels. Instead, you should be looking at how to stretch your money as far as possible to get the best deal around.
Double that down-payment
If you’re like most car buyers, you’re going to be using some financing agreement in order to buy it. If that’s the case, it might be worth holding off on taking that loan until you’ve saved up a considerable down-payment. You can get a start by selling your old car if you’ve managed to retain its value. A bigger down-payment will guarantee monthly payments, which could mean that you can afford to take a bigger loan and get a better car.
Be picky with your financing
Don’t just go for the first bank or financing company that offers you a loan, either. If you’re looking at cars before you have your financing organized, then you’re going to likely be offered a loan by the dealer. Don’t take it. You will always get a better deal from personal installment loans, so browse that market. If you want to be open to the very best that the market has to offer, check out your credit situation, too. You can get unsecured loans if you don’t have great credit, so you’re never out of options, but having better credit entitles you to more lenient arrangements and lower interest on top of the loan repayments.
Timing is everything
Sometimes, you need a new car right now and there’s nothing you can do about it. Otherwise, however, think about holding off for a while, depending what time of year it is. There are certain times throughout the year where car prices are going to sink because salespeople are trying to reach a certain quota before a time period ends. This works for waiting until the end of the month, the end of the quarter, and the end of the business year. Even buying at the end of the business day can guarantee you some small savings.
Know what you’re buying
While following all the tips above, do keep in mind that the cost of the car itself is just one of the financial implications that being a driver has. Ensure your budget fits the costs of fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs before you go blowing it all on the car alone. Most importantly, know how long that car’s going to last you. The Car Reliability Index is a great indicator of which car is going to break down more often and how much you can expect to spend on it during your time driving it.
Cars are expensive and there’s little that can be done about it. No matter how much you save, it will likely be the second-biggest expense in your life beyond your home. But that doesn’t mean you have to roll over and pay out the nose. Be smart.