Okay - that old car you've been driving for the last 17 years is finally on its last legs. This is a bad thing! You haven't had a car payment in more than 10 years. This is a good thing!
Now, it's time to replace that old car so you can get to work, the grocery store, drop the kids off at school, take the spouse out for a night on the town, go see Grandma 300 miles away... well, you get the idea. You have to have a dependable car to accomplish these ventures. Now what?
Before You Buy, Line Up Your Ducks
First, arm yourself with the information that will keep you from making a bad deal. If you simply go to the dealer, find the car you want and pay the price on the sticker, you're cheating yourself!
It's going to take some time and effort, but knowing what you need to know puts you in a much better position to negotiate. Believe me, it's a position you want to be in. You can save yourself literally thousands if you're prepared.
Pick out the vehicle and model in which you're interested. Better yet - pick out 2 or 3. This way you won't just go from dealership to dealership "looking for the best deal". You CAN get the car you want and at a price that won't necessarily break the bank.
Now, check the Blue Book value of the car (if it's used) or the factory invoice (if it's new). Don't expect to pay low Blue Book value, either. You should be prepared to pay somewhere between the loan value and the retail value. Car dealers and those that sell cars for those dealers are never - let me repeat that - NEVER going to lose money on a deal, regardless of what they tell you. It's also important to keep in mind that dealerships are still businesses. And, as such, they are entitled to make a profit. However, because they work on commission, the more they can sell you the car for, the more they make.
Do I Need All These Extras?
Next, be aware of those "needed" extras, many if not all of which you do not need. At least you don't need them for the price they're going to charge you. Once you and the salesman have agreed on the car deal, you'll be re-directed to the F & I guy. He will attempt to sell you insurance coverage, extended warranties, and finance your deal with "the best rates available". NOT!!
Get pre-approved through your own financial institution prior to car shopping. This will not only save you a lot of headaches, but money as well. YOUR hard-earned money.
It Ain't Worth What You Paid For It Once You Drive It Away
Another important factor to keep in mind is that automobiles depreciate the minute you drive them off the lot, whether the car you buy is used or new. I have yet to see a car increase in value, unless, of course, it's a classic and in like-new condition. Please do yourself a favor and keep this in mind at all times when car shopping.
"No" May Not Be Popular, But It's Necessary
Lastly, and this is of utmost importance, learn to say, "No"! Learn to say it with conviction. Go to the mirror, look at yourself and say, "No"... repeat... repeat again for however many times it takes to convince yourself that you mean business. It's a good word. It belongs in your vocabulary.
Cars are money pits. But, they're absolutely necessary. Say, "No"... until you've made the deal YOU want.
It will make you feel as though you triumphed when purchasing your next car.