Buying a car is an exciting experience. If you’ve dreamed of owning one, it can be especially exciting. While first-time car buyers can be especially excited, it can also be intimidating. It requires planning.
Keeping a few key concepts in mind will help first-time car buyers navigate the process. Once you have the essential steps covered, you can spend more time enjoying the experience.
Determine Your Budget
Buying a car is a serious financial commitment, so you should know how much you can afford. Break down your monthly budget, including your income and current expenses such as your rent or mortgage. This will help you decide how much you can dedicate to a car payment if you need a loan to make the purchase.
Save for a Down Payment
Having a down payment for your car is typically required, and it will help you reduce your monthly payments. A good idea for saving for the down payment is to start saving what you plan to spend on monthly car payments each month. You can get used to the new expense in your budget to save for the purchase.
Determine Your Needs and Do Your Research
In addition to financing, the most critical part of buying a car for the first time is deciding what type of car you want. Think about how you will use your new vehicle. You might want to focus on gas mileage for a long commute and opt for a compact car or an all-electric vehicle like a Leaf. Perhaps storage for transporting people and things is your priority, so maybe an SUV or truck. Maybe you are looking for more luxury like an INFINITI Q50.
Try to narrow your search down to a type of vehicle, and then research the best models in that class that fit your budget. There are several online resources to compare car reviews to get an idea of the models you want to check out.
Compare Prices and Online Listings
Do some comparative pricing once you have an idea of the model or models you want to shop for. When you walk into the dealer, that information will help you get a better price once you’re ready to negotiate.
One of the biggest mistakes first-time car buyers can make is not doing their homework. Instead of rushing into a purchase, it helps to shop around before committing. In addition to comparing prices, you can test drive multiple vehicles to compare. Once you find the car that feels right when you test drives it and fits your budget, you are ready to negotiate.
Research Financing Options
Many car dealers will offer financing on-site. While this can be a reasonable option, it’s important to shop around for financing. Find out what terms your own bank or credit union can offer. Having that information in hand will help you save money on financing.
Enjoy the Ride
Remember when the idea of buying a car sounded fun? Once you do your homework and take care of the finances, planning, and negotiating, you can get back to the fun part. When you make that first-time car purchase, get on the road and enjoy the ride.