It’s one thing to have buyers remorse on an overpriced pair of shoes. But making the wrong decision on a vehicle purchase could cost you more than dollars. Car shopping brings on varying emotions. For some, overwhelming excitement leads to rash decisions. For others, self-doubt and anxiety impairs sound judgement.
If it’s time to upgrade your auto, be fearless in your approach. Think of all you tackle in one day. From work and kids to friends and family, you’ve got life covered. Before you consider adding this task to the “honey-do” list, realize you may be better suited for the job. Forbes reveals women buy more than half of all cars sold in the US and take part in 80 percent of all family car-buying decisions. With the right approach, you can turn the hassle of car shopping into an empowering experience.
ESTABLISH A BUDGET
Before stepping foot into a car dealership, establish the exact amount of money you can afford to spend. This takes more than crunching monthly payments. Avoid buyer’s remorse by considering your long- and short-term financial goals.
Monthly payments: If you’re not sure how much car you can afford, start by calculating monthly payments you can comfortably take-on. CNN Money suggests a good rule of thumb is to plan on spending 10 to 15 percent of your total monthly budget on all automotive expenses. For example, if your total monthly budget is $2000, calculate no more than $300 per month for you vehicle expenses. Remember to include taxes, registration and ongoing maintenance within this budget. Auto insurance can consume a large portion of your monthly automotive expenses. State Farm suggests contacting your insurance agent prior to purchasing your vehicle as newer vehicles tend to increase the monthly rates.
Payoff period: Typical loan terms range from 36 months to 72 months. The longer the term, the lower your monthly payments will be. But resist the allure of lower monthly payments by focusing on the big picture. Keep in mind, the longer you finance a car, the more interest you will have to pay on it. Additionally, longer loan terms carry higher interest rates.
Total vehicle cost: Knowing your desired vehicle cost is extremely important in negotiations. Why? Car salesmen will do anything to get you in a vehicle and get the biggest bang for their buck while they’re at it. They are likely to adjust interest and loan terms to match your desired monthly payments to sell you a more expensive vehicle. Stay strong and true to your long-term goals and refrain from buying more than you can comfortably pay off on time.
START YOUR ENGINES
The more time you spend car shopping online, the less time you’ll spend with pushy salesmen. Start your search by seeing what vehicles are available in your price point. Compare new and used vehicle prices using a trusted source like Kelly Blue Book. This will help you narrow down the make, model and year of vehicles available within your budget. If you’re looking to trade in your car, make sure you get the best value available. The KBB site can also give you a close estimate of your auto’s value that you can use to leverage your negotiations at the dealership.
Once you’ve narrowed your options, resist the urge to shop in person. Scour the Web for three or four dealerships near you. Find the contact information for the Internet Sales Manager. Via email, communicate your specifications and price expectations. Get dealership-specific quotes via email. As the figures make their way to your inbox, use the lowest price as a bargaining tool until you reach the best possible price point.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
You’ve done your research, committed to a price and you’re ready to take the wheel. Pack up your purse and show the dealership who’s boss. Catch the salesperson at his most vulnerable by shopping toward the end of the month. End-of-the-month quotas make for eager sales reps. If you’re looking for a newer vehicle, consider shopping late summer and fall when new models meet the marketplace. Dealerships, intent on quick inventory turns, may offer reduced prices on last year’s models.