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Financial Wellness

Ultimate Guide To Buying A First Car

By Kayla Eaton, July 11, 2021 8 min read

Buying a new (or new to you) car is a daunting task, and people love to give you tips that may not be the best advice to follow. Here are a few tips that even our team at Rain follow which could help you make the best purchase of your life. Of course, you want a reliable car that will last years, but you also want something affordable and within your means. These financial tips are sure to help you buy your first car.

How Much Can You Really Afford?

Not only do you have to think about how much you can afford on car expenses, but you also need to set money aside for car expenses. So how much can you really afford on your first car?

A good rule to follow is to find something that is only 10% of your take-home pay per month and an additional 5% for car expenses outside of your car payment.

For example, if you make 2,400 a month, you will want to find a car that allows you to pay $240 or less per month and save $120 for car expenses once you have the car. Depending on how long you want to pay on your loan, this amount could help you have a very stable first car.

If you are still worried about price because of other monthly expenses, we know how hard that can be. Find out the top ten financial wellness hacks that can help lower your monthly expenses, before getting your first car.

FAQs for Buying a Car

Understanding the type of loan you can get and how much you will have to pay will make car shopping a lot easier. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions first-time car buyers ask.

Is it a Good Idea to Lease?

There are some serious pros and cons to consider when deciding on whether or not you should lease a car.

Pros:

●  You may have lower payments than on an auto loan

●  The latest car models are easier to get

●  Sometimes at the end of a lease, you can keep it by paying what’s left

●  Most maintenance is covered

●  They will let you use a car while yours is being repaired

Cons:

●  You may not have a car at the end of the lease

●  Strict credit requirements

●  Lease terms can be tricky

●  Mileage matters

Overall, it can be a good idea to lease a car if you are worried about maintenance or unsure if you want to own a specific vehicle. However, if your credit is not good enough, you may need a co-signer, and this can be a hassle to go through. You may be able to raise your credit score as a beginner. Often, a first-time car owner won’t meet the qualifications to lease a car.

Should I Buy Used or New?

The answer to this question really depends on you. If you know a lot about cars and think you can do repairs yourself, you may not mind a used car. If you know absolutely nothing about vehicles, it may be better to buy new.

However, one of the best things about buying used cars is that many cars are in good condition and will last just as long as a new car. They will be more budget-friendly and just as reliable if you are careful about the brand.

You can still opt to buy a new car on a budget if you skip the latest year. In 2021, look for a new 2020 or 2019 model. They are older models on sale but can still be acquired brand new for a first-time car buyer.

Does the Brand Matter?

The brand does matter. Even if you are unsure of the brand or various brands of cars, it can dramatically impact the price. However, some brands are also known to be safer or more reliable than others. If you are looking for your first car, it is imperative to start researching the brands and how reputable they are.

Do I Need Extended Warranty?

Sometimes extended warranty can be a good thing to purchase. However, often people don’t use their extended warranty, and it becomes an extra expense. Our best advice to you is to look at the year, the model, and the brand. If it is a reliable and new car, you may not need an extended warranty. Don’t let car salespeople lure you into buying an extended warranty if you don’t need one. They often make commission on warranties, so they will try to convince you that you need it!

Should I Sell or Trade My Old Car?

One of the nice things about trading an old car is the process is really simple. Whatever your old car is worth can be put towards the new car. It’s like getting a sale on a new car. However, selling your old car has some extra steps that make it more challenging, and your car isn’t always worth what you think it is. Figure out how much your car would affect the price of your new car, and figure out what you could potentially sell it for. Do whatever makes the most sense and most money. You can also try shopping around to make sure you get the most money possible for your old car. That might mean selling it to someone you know or to a different shop from where you are buying your new vehicle.

How Long of a Loan Should I Get?

Currently, the most selected loan is 72 months which equals six years. One thing to be aware of is if you take out a loan and your car breaks down and can’t be fixed, you still have to pay off the loan. So, here is how we recommend figuring out how long of a loan you should get.

First, look at the car you are wanting to buy. Look at the brand and how reliable it is. If you think your car will only last three years, choose a loan you can pay off in three years. If you think this potential car could last six years with little to no maintenance, choose a six-year loan.

Other Tips for Buying a Car

Rain is dedicated to finding you legitimate information you need to know for buying your first car. Here are the top tips you need to walk away with:

Buy at the Right Time of Year

Firstly, never buy your car on a Saturday. This is always the busiest day of the week for many companies, which is no different for a dealership. You may be pressured, rushed, and hassled. Try going in the middle of the week.

Secondly, the time of year does matter. Try going during October, November, and December to find the best sales. The least discounted months are January, February, and March because those are typically the slowest months for a dealership.

Skip the Latest Model

If you are on a budget as a first-time car buyer, do yourself a favor and ditch the latest model. Sure, it looks sleek, classy, and fun to show off. However, it will be triple the price, insurance may be higher, and you may not be able to afford it in the future. The prior year’s model is probably nearly identical but will be much cheaper.

Get Pre-Approved Before You Shop

If you decide to take out a loan, get pre-approved. This will allow you to think about your budget as you shop and already have money in hand. Getting pre-approved with a loan ready is like walking into the dealership with cash in hand.

Shop Around and Do Your Research

The best advice our team can give you is to shop around. If you look at one dealership and don’t find what you are looking for, take your time. Used car dealerships will get various new models every month, and it may take you some time to find the right car. Never feel guilty about doing your research and shopping for longer than a few months.

Negotiate

This may be the most uncomfortable tip to follow, but it is a necessity. Car dealerships will do everything they can to make the most money. This is why it is crucial to discuss the price, evaluate the car, and negotiate the agreement. Talking openly about money and what you want out of the agreement is key to getting the best deal.

At Rain, we know how hard it can be to find the car of your dreams and at the price you want. Many of us remember buying our first cars and how scary it was to go through the process. Remember, this should be an exciting time. The more you know about the car you want, the easier the process will be!

Tags:Budgeting, Car, Financial Wellness, Smart Shopping

About the Author

Kayla EatonFinancial Wellness Copywriter

Kayla is a full-time content creator, and her passion is focusing on sustainability and budgeting. When she's not writing finance content, her focus is on the environment and sustainability. Kayla loves to travel and is always looking forward to her next vacation, where she can learn finance tips from around the world and how to help create more sustainable business practices.

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