Earlier this year, my wife and I tied the knot and officially set out on our own. Optimistic for the future ahead, we were ready to take on life’s challenges together. What we didn’t foresee was having to deal with a totaled vehicle and facing our first major financial purchase within our first two months of marriage.
As many of you know, the process of buying a vehicle can be expensive, stressful and time consuming. What if I told you though, that there is a way to stay within budget, cut out stress, and reduce the time spent on your search, all while finding the right car for you?
My wife and I followed these five simple steps to buying our first car together, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.
Set a deadline
The first thing that we did was to set a date for when we needed a car. This was a key step, because I tend to overanalyze and delay major financial decisions. Fortunately, my wife’s parents had a spare vehicle that we were able to borrow, so this bought us a little extra time to plan.
Determine a budget and stick to it
After we set our deadline, we decided on a maximum amount that we would spend, also considering sales tax. This was a crucial step because it kept us from buying something that we couldn’t afford…and it made it easier to tell the car salesman “no.”
Identify what you need
Once we determined our budget, we narrowed down our search by identifying the car that best fit our needs. Our criteria were a reliable, fuel efficient car that could last in our family for five or more years. That meant ruling out the truck that I’ve always wanted…
Our parameters were set, and it was time to go shopping. We primarily searched on dealership websites and Facebook Marketplace. The key is to consistently be on the lookout. We also used this opportunity to test drive different styles and makes to get a feel for what we liked. If you are dealing with individual sellers, make sure the seller is legitimate and always arrange to meet in a public area if possible.
Do your homework and buy the car
We stayed consistent to our plan and finally we came across the right car. Now it was time to do our homework. We talked to the owners, we checked the Kelley Blue Book value, we test drove the car and we ran the Carfax. (The extra cash to run the report was well worth the ease of mind.) This was the car. We offered slightly lower than the original offer, expecting a counter, and ultimately came to an agreement that was under our budget.
Want to get pre-approved?
Get an idea of how much you can afford, before you ever start car shopping. Knowing how much you can borrow makes the buying process easier and being pre-approved gives you more negotiating power.
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