Like a new sweater or a new haircut, a new car is no different – It has to suit you and you alone. On one hand, a vehicle is a necessity, and on the other hand, a vehicle is fashion. It’s what people see you arriving and leaving in, so it is important that it represents you in the right way. But hey, I get it – cars are not something everyone can splurge on. We must be practical. So, how can we find the balance between budget and lifestyle to get us going in the direction we want? Simple. Just follow our guide and you’ll get there!
Figure Out Your Lifestyle
As trends show, certain types of lifestyles adhere to certain types of vehicles, and although you might want to turn heads with the most unique set of wheels on the block, you also should consider sticking with what’s in style.
Different types of people use their vehicles for different reasons. If you have a family, you might want to take your partner’s needs into consideration and figure out whether your children will be driving the new car any time soon.
If you have a large family of five to seven people, you will probably need an accommodating vehicle – like a minivan or an SUV. But if you have a smaller family with a teenager preparing for their first driving lesson, you might consider finding an adaptable vehicle that focuses on safety instead.Honda, Toyota and Subaru have consistently achieved accolades for their safety features and compatibility.
But if you haven’t settled down yet, and sharing a vehicle is not priority, you might want to consider other options, depending on your work, play and eco-friendly attitude. Most people simply need something ideal for commuting. That means a car must have good gas mileage, while offering comfort and, above all else, reliability, because god knows you don’t want to be late for another business meeting.
Then again, you might have an adventurous mindset, so a simple but reliable hatchback might not do it for you. If you want to find that secluded campsite or just take the road less traveled, take some time to decide if a truck or an SUV will in fact be worth it – even though they often come with extra expenses.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the eco-friendly people who want to reduce carbon footprint, but have a lifestyle where transit is not possible. Hybrids, electric and diesel cars may all be a greener option, if staying eco-friendly is your goal.
Prepare a Budget
As a car buyer, you shouldn’t set the bar too high when it comes to selecting a new car. Sure, we all want the luxury and sports cars, but remember that the MSRP is not all you have to consider. There are also other expenses to take into account such as maintenance and insurance fees, which are not cheap.
Don’t be naive when it comes to budgetary constraints, because it can end up biting you big time in the long run. Understand your financial status, your salary, your living situation (social security and tax) and your bills. Some experts suggest that you should only buy a car if you can afford it with cash or if it costs 20% of your annual income.
Obviously paying in cash is not always possible – not in this economy – and that 20% suggestion is often overruled. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t make the best decision for yourself. Monthly payments may seem like a financially responsible choice, but be warned that a slight increase in payment can really offset your budget. Leasing might also be an option for those who are okay with owning a new car every few years, while losing equity.
Compile a List of Prospective Cars
You probably have the car you want in mind already. Yes, you see it occasionally as you await the next bus or wave down a cab. So, why not mark it down and see where the cost lands on your budgetary range. Acknowledge your lifestyle as well and understand whether that vehicle is actually right for you.
Let’s say you have set your eyes on the 2014 Lexus RX 450h (average MSRP $47,000), but it’s slightly over your budget. As such, you might want to take one notch down on the price range and look at a vehicle such as the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse (average MSRP $30,000). Both are mid-size SUVs with high user ratings, but they have very different prices. How does that Rolling Stones song go? “You can’t always get what you want…” In other words, know your limits and never exceed them!
Okay, so you’re ready to take to the dealership. You already know which car is right for you and you are going to get it – no matter what!
Hold it there – because you can still save yourself a bit more if you handle the purchasing scenario appropriately. Don’t just walk in there and drop the suitcase full of money. Be tactful, do your research and review how much your vehicle will cost, not just the MSRP, but also the invoice price (the price the dealership has actually paid for the vehicle). That should be the price where you start negotiating from, and you can find the information through sites such as Unhaggle.com.
Also, keep in mind what features you want beforehand and be wary of incentives. Buying a car shouldn’t be an arm wrestle, and as long as you do it with class, you’ll ride out in the vehicle that suits your style best.