February 25, 2013 · Education

Move Over Hand-Me-Down, It’s Time for a New Car!

You did it! You’re at the point in your life when you don’t have to eat Ramen every night and you’re ready to get rid of your hand-me-down and buy your first car. This is an exciting time, but it can also be terrifying. If you’ve never taken part in the car buying process, you probably have a lot of questions about makes, models, financing and safety. This is a major purchase. We feel your pain, so we have compiled a list of tips for buying your first car.

  1. Priorities: When you’re at the dealership and you have a car salesman breathing down your neck, it is easy to let your emotions get the best of you and choose the first vehicle you’re shown on a whim. Remember, they do this professionally and the more you spend the more money they make. Go to the dealership with a list of priorities to help counteract this urge. Are you looking for fuel-efficiency? Drivability? Four-wheel drive? Stick to your priorities and you can avoid falling down the financial hole.
  2. Budget: Of course the fully-loaded luxury cars are amazing, but when it comes to figuring out how much you can spend on a car, be realistic. Are you really willing to give up your monthly pedicures or late-night pizza runs? When it comes to buying a new car, it isn’t just the sticker price you have to consider, there are taxes, delivery fees, and a bunch of other charges you’ll have to pay before you can even start driving the car. Figure out your budget then visit the automaker’s consumer site and make sure you know the final cost after all fees.
  3. Credit: When you’re buying your first car, it’s really important to be honest with yourself. If you know that you have dozens of maxed-out credit cards or college loans to pay off, then you are going to have to determine how easy or difficult it will be to get a loan. Find out your credit score and get preapproved to know how much car you can actually afford. 
  4. Insurance: It’s no secret that insurance for young adults is very expensive. If you’re taking over insurance for the first time, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars each year just in insurance. The nicer the car, the newer the car, the faster the car and even the color, can and will make insurance prices go up. Get a quote on insurance prices from various providers and be sure to factor that into your budget. Check out Members Insurance Advisors who can do the leg-work for you and find you the best deal.
  5. Perks: The best things in life are free. This is especially true when buying your first car. When you’re negotiating prices and options, try to get everything you can. Some automakers will throw in the first year of regular maintenance for free. Don’t be afraid to haggle!

Buying your first car can be overwhelming, but by being prepared, you can reduce some of that stress! Go to the dealership with an idea of how much you can spend, what your payments will look like and stay strong! If you keep these simple steps in mind, you can make a smart and responsible decision.