Cars are expensive, and they seem to be getting more expensive all the time.
The price of new cars is on the rise, even though most of us aren’t walking around with any more spending money in our pockets than we were back when cars were cheaper. Unfortunately, though, there’s not much of a way around buying one of these pricey rides. In places like the United States and Australia, cars are a way of life—without one, most residents of countries like this wouldn’t be able to get to work or enjoy a fulfilling social life. It’s not a matter of just taking a train or a bus instead when there are so few trains and buses in many residential areas!This leaves us with a dilemma: How can the typical person in a country where road travel is dominant possibly afford to buy a car without hurting their finances? The answers aren’t always easy to come by. In fact, many Americans and Australians are struggling with car expenses. Fortunately, there are some solutions worth sharing. Here are some tips for budgeting smarter and riding in style.
Determine your budget first
When it comes to car shopping, your budget is king. When you head to the dealership (that is if you choose to do so instead of shopping online), you’ll find sales representatives who would love to push you to spend more—and you’ll have to stand strong if you’re going to keep your financial situation sound.
The first step to sticking to your budget is determining it, and you need to do this before salespeople—and your own desires and imagination—start pressuring you to overspend. Sit down and decide how much you can really afford to spend on your car, and don’t forget to include expenses besides the down payment and loan payments: Gas, insurance, and maintenance are all important factors. Use a smart rule of thumb to avoid spending too much of your take-home income (that’s after-tax income, mind you) on your ride.
Get a great rate for your car loan
The process of obtaining a car loan in Australia or another car-dominated country can look different depending on how you go about it. But the smartest move is to try to lock up loan pre-approval before you head out shopping. That way, you’ll know how much you can spend and won’t have to rely on the dealerships and their financing options — which may not always be as good as what you can secure on your own.
Shop around and find a reliable finance company that will give you a loan at a great rate that lands within your budget. Then, you can shop with confidence.
Why is car shopping so hard? Well, it doesn’t have to be, argue the experts at a Toyota dealership in Manchester, CT. Part of the problem is that it’s so easy to get caught up deciding between specific cars, add-on packages, and options. What really matters most?
That’s a question that you’ll want to ask yourself before you look at vehicles. Not every vehicle is going to have every trait and feature that you want, so decide ahead of time what you’re going to prioritize when push comes to shove. Your budget is king, followed by basic features—the number of seats, for instance. But what matters more to you: satellite radio or heated seats? Rank your preferences so that you can simplify your decision-making later on.
Shop around and negotiate
Armed with loan pre-approval and a great sense of what you’re looking for, you’re ready to buy a car. There’s just one more concern: Getting the most bang for your buck. You know what your priorities are, but don’t choose between any that you don’t have to—make sure that you’re getting as many of those dream features as your budget will allow.
Get Quotes for Auto Insurance
If you already have an auto policy then all you have to do is call your insurance agent and ask how much this new car will raise your rates. When budgeting for your new vehicle, it’s good to have the whole financial picture, before your purchase. All you need is the year, make and model of your new car to get an estimate of costs. Make sure to ask about higher deductibles options to help save money, what are the discounts they’re giving you and if you should have gap coverage. These main questions will help you and your agent figure out what the lowest cost price is for your personal needs.
To maximize your value, you should consider pre-used stock, shop around (including online), and learn the basics of negotiating at the dealership. Above all, remember to stay calm. You can always buy a car later if you walk away now, but you can’t walk away later after buying the car now! Be methodical and smart, and you’ll end up happier with your decision.