It’s OK to not have the coolest car. Because you know what isn’t cool? The high payments that come with it. Unless you’re one of the very fortunate ones who don’t have rent or student loan payments, I promise you another high payment isn’t worth it. Who cares what kind of car you have. Do you ever just randomly think about the cars that your friends drive? No, you don’t. And they won’t ever be thinking about yours either. So don’t shop with the goal to impress. Personally, I’m more impressed when someone makes a mature and responsible decision about their purchase.
Two brains are better than one. Whether you are buying the car from a private owner or a dealership, it’s always good to have an extra set of eyes. I took both my parents with me and I was very grateful that I did. My mom is a huge advocate for smooth ride, so she made sure I wouldn’t end up with a vehicle that felt like the Mean Streak at Cedar Point. My dad is also in financing, so he was a great human calculator to have and knew what kind of payment questions to ask.
Don’t forget about all the extra costs when picking your make/model. It’s easy to budget your monthly payments for the car itself, but did you factor in the insurance? The gas? The services? For example, lets say you want the Audi A3. After all, it’s the brand’s entry level car, so you have the luxury of owning an Audi, and the payments will be in budget because the A3’s only start at an MSRP of about 32k, right? Well, you’re only half way there.. You’re insurance will be much more expensive (for numerous reasons), the cost of a service maintenance on the vehicle could cost you about $1k at the dealership (depending on the mileage), and don’t forget that this vehicle takes top tier gasoline. Now, I’m not saying an Audi isn’t the way to go, they are certainly great cars. These are just the extra costs and scenarios we don’t usually think of and I want to remind you of them.
Forget about the backseat. Unless you have kids or plan on always having passengers in the back, don’t even think about it. I absolutely absolutely love my Chevy Impala, but I remember the day I was shopping other cars, I used it’s huge back seat as a comparison pro… [cue the palm to the face]. Nice, but not necessary. Remember, you’re picking this car for you. You know, the one who’s usually sitting in the drivers seat. Not the back. We’re not that far into the future yet.
Don’t be afraid of your salesman. These are people just like you trying to do their job and make a living. There’s no reason you should walk in there assuming your salesman is out to get you. As long as you are relaxed, confident, and stick to what you want you will be fine. Know you limitations and remind yourself that it is OK to walk away from a deal if it exceeds your limits. It may be hard for him to give you exactly what you want, but I promise if you give him the chance, he will try everything to make it happen. You are the one with the money. You’re the one with the wallet in your pocket. They cannot make the sale without you. Relax.