By Karmen Rosiles
Before buying my first car, I knew I wanted a Mercedes Benz with leather seats, moonroof and six cylinders. Unfortunately, my budget and credit score did not align with that and today, I drive a Chevy. Purchasing a car is tough, especially your first car but being informed can help make the process smooth and exciting.
When buying your first car, here are some important things to keep in mind:
How much can you realistically afford? What features are you okay with losing? Will you be financing your car or can you pay for it in full?* What expenses do you have beyond the price tag of the car? (E.g., Gas and maintenance costs)
Tips on Buying your First Car:
• Saving: Opening a savings account or certificate of deposit. These saving tools will push you to save and will allow you to earn interest.
• Look for discounts when shopping for your car. Used car prices are usually negotiable. Newer car prices are harder to negotiate but prices may drop near the end of the year and during summer clearance events.
• You can also save money on car expenses. One of the biggest car owner expenses is insurance. Use insurance comparison sites like Policygenius or Nerdwallet. You can also contact your school for a good student certificate for possible discounts.
• Prepare for additional expenses. The average American family spends $1,898 on gas per year (Gasbuddy 2018). College Student Jonathan Irias says one of the biggest barriers in his budget was, “an unexpected car accident that prohibited me from driving my car any longer because the repairs were so expensive.” Being prepared is key to being a successful car owner.
*Financing = breaking the cost of your car into monthly payments but does come with interest fees. Casey Baca, a sales representative from McGrath Lexus of Westmont, recommends having a co-signer or sixty percent down as a deposit for those with little or no credit in order to lower interest rates.