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Buying Your First Car: A Quick Guide

Did you know that the average cost of a new car is over $45,000? If that price is giving you sticker shock, know that there are ways to score a better deal. You just need to know what to ask — and how to negotiate.

Stick around for a helpful guide to buying your first car!

Research Your Options

Before you step foot on a car lot, you should narrow down what type of car you want. It’s okay to have 2 or 3 models in mind but avoid feeling unsure. That’s an easy invitation for a dealer to upsell you on options you don’t need.

For instance, if you want a bigger car, hone in on a few minivan options. Then determine your non-negotiables, like heated seats or lounge chairs in the second row. And research what good invoice prices look like so you’ll be ready to comparison shop.

Plan How to Finance a Car

Make sure you’ve set an upper limit on what you can afford. And make sure you’ve paid bills on time and avoided financial problems that could hurt your credit score. After all, your credit score will impact the types of offers you receive to get a car loan.

Investigate financing options outside the dealership since you’ll probably get better interest rates. Banks and credit unions are good starting points. And regardless of your credit score, look at some online options, linked here, for other routes to finance a set of wheels.

Compare New and Used Cars

You could save around 30% or more if you buy a used car a few years after it rolled off the lot. While the car might have some wear and tear, a 3-year-old car shouldn’t be due for any major repairs for a while.

But if you have your heart set on a new set of wheels, weigh the current national and economic conditions. For instance, if there’s a lot of inventory and low demand, you could score a good deal on a new car.

Knowing when to get a car should be part of your strategy. End-of-year sales can save you thousands, so aim for a December purchase!

Explore Different Sellers and Negotiate

When you buy a new car, you want to shop around first. Don’t take the first offer you get. Visit at least three dealerships and take notes on the options.

Having a few different quotes can help you leverage one offer against another. If you tell a dealer that you’re considering the same vehicle for a lower price at the dealership down the street, they’ll listen. And they might just knock off some dollars or throw in a perk, like a few free oil changes, to sweeten the deal.

Focus on Buying Your First Car

Buying your first car can be a daunting process — unless you’re prepared. Try to get financing set up before you walk into a dealership, and shop around to compare prices. Look at new and used cars, and don’t be afraid to try your hand at negotiating.

To get more tips on how to pay for a car, check back soon for new articles.

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