Finding your ideal car can be a journey in itself. You may start off thinking you want X and Y in the ideal car but after test driving a number of cars, you decide on something with completely different attributes.
There are many aspects to consider when purchasing a new or used vehicle, and one of the most important is choosing one that will suit your budget as much as it does your lifestyle. In the excitement of falling in love and shopping for a new car, many people forget about this especially important aspect of car shopping, and it’s important to figure out what you can comfortably afford.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to consider before buying a car to suit your budget:
1. Review your budget
Before you start researching the latest models and test-driving vehicles, you first need to determine your budget and how you’ll pay for your new car. Deciding on a realistic budget is the most important factor in buying a new car.
Think about; how much money you have saved for a deposit, the monthly payment you can afford, and what fees and licensing costs you will have to pay.
Look at your recent bank statement and monthly bills to determine your budget. Add the trade-in value of your current vehicle to this budget — you can use this to make a larger deposit that will lower your monthly payment and interest.
The cost of purchasing a vehicle is more than just the price of the car itself, so make sure to plan for additional expenses such as the registration fee or add-ons you might want such as an extended warranty, as well as the monthly running costs like fuel and insurance. Establish what you are willing and able to pay using an online finance calculator.
2. Consider your wants and needs
Once you have figured out how much you can comfortably spend on your car, it is a good idea to assess what you want and need at this stage of your life. A single person in their twenties will have a vastly different checklist than that of a family of five.
Make a list of non-negotiable attributes and features (such as vehicle size, safety features and fuel economy) to determine what kind of vehicle will best satisfy your needs. Then list everything you want but do not necessarily need, like technology, colour preference, conveniences, and style. Keep this list in mind when researching specific models.
In this step, it’s important to know the difference between wants and needs. You may want a sassy comfortable for beach-side cruising, but a car with a drop-top isn’t exactly a necessity for getting to and from the office every day.
3. Do your research
Once you know what you need, you can choose the exact brand and model that best meets your requirements. Compare listings online to find vehicles that come with the specs you are looking for. Take a look at new, used and demo options before deciding what will be best for you.
Take your top two or three choices for a test drive. Be sure to pay attention to the car’s acceleration, comfort, and handling. This is also a great time to ask any questions you may have about the engineering or functionality of the vehicle.
4. Consider ongoing & future costs
You have found one or two cars you love, and you’re almost ready to make your decision. But before you sign the paperwork, make sure your budget will love it too by taking into consideration the ongoing costs.
For example, some models have parts that cost more to repair, which means your maintenance costs will be higher. Others are not so efficient on fuel which will cost you more every time you fill up and some have a higher insurance price tag. Make sure you can afford the car you choose throughout its lifetime.
5. Financing your car
We would all like to pay cash for our new car, but most of us cannot afford it, so we have to finance the purchase of our car. Make sure that you shop around. If you are able to, choose a short-term repayment plan with the lowest interest rate possible.
Be wary of balloon payments, as they can make repayments seem small, but could leave you still owing quite a sizeable amount on your car by the end of your term. Try to put down as big a deposit as you can (ideally anything from 10% to 20% of the purchase price), as this will help lower your monthly instalments.
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