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This post is inspired by my love: my very first car ***Giggles***
For my birthday, I bought myself a beauty that I had dreamt about when I was a lot younger i.e a MINI COOPER. Needless to say, I absolutely adore it and have built an attachment with it, over the course of just two weeks. On the other side, despite of all the fondness, I can say the buying process was way more overwhelming than what I imagined it to be.
I was going to walk in the dealership and leave with a car. Well, I didn’t anticipate it to be that simple. I knew I would have to look at different cars and dealerships, make decisions on purchasing a new vs used one, apply for insurance and lastly get my finance loan approved. I had my steps covered.
At least I thought so at the time. Like how hard it could be right? Look at some cars online, compare the deals, fall in love with one, go for a test drive and bring it home.
Nothing has been more intimidating than getting ready for my first big expenditure. I went from wanting a Dodge Charger to buying a Mini Cooper in no time. In my defense, getting a car wasn’t in my plan until next year so I hadn’t been looking into one.
Furthermore, I literally have no enthusiasm when it comes to cars which only indicated towards my pathetic lack of knowledge about the automotive market or car features for that matter of fact. All I knew was that I wanted a ‘NICE’ car that could make me happy (So much for not being a car enthusiastic).
After all that, I have come up with a few tips for those who are looking to buy their first car.
Ask yourself the right questions.
Buying your first car gets you pumped up so before you begin exploring your options, ask yourself the questions that matter. Do you really need a car? Can you go a few months without it? Do you want a used or new? Would you rather lease, finance or buy one? How long do you want to keep a car? Do you want private lender or loan from a bank? Four wheel drive or not? Do you buy from a private dealership or no? At last, know the right questions to ask others as well. Take help from your friends or family if you feel nervous.
Look at your budget.
The first and foremost assessment you need to make prior to buying a car is that how much can you realistically afford. Are you comfortable with paying $500 per month or $1500? Don’t let the excitement cloud your judgement because the last thing you need in your life is constant fear of not being able to pay the debt. I deducted the fixed expenses and the minimum saving (I would like to transfer to my account) from my monthly income. The remainder gave me an estimate of how much can I spend on a car. Remember to keep some money aside for all the parties, dinners and social shenanigans that you carry out in your daily life. You don’t want a car at an expense of a healthy social life, unless you need it to survive. Use some tools like Car Payment Calculator to get an estimate. Also get a few insurance companies to give you a quote on your monthly insurance for example Desjardins Auto Insurance worked for me.
Items that are gonna add to your car expenses: monthly installment, monthly Insurance, weekly gas, winter tires and mats(if you live in a country that get’s extremely cold), regular cleaning and servicing and the rest. Don’t forget to keep extra $1500-$2000 at all times for contingency purposes. It’s a machine that could wear down anytime.
Don’t forget to do your research.
Before you enter the doors of a dealership, find out all about the car you like. Don’t be like me. I was practically dumbfounded when I heard about basic things like mileage, warranty, winter tires, maintenance cost, invoice price and so on. Online websites like Autotrader and/or resources like Business Insider’s list of 15 best used cars for First-Time Drivers and US News about buying a new car from a dealer could be quite helpful. This will help you from appearing unprepared before you meet the seller. Know your rights about returns, warranties and related laws. Don’t let the dealers persuade you into saying yes for the unnecessary extras like rustproofing, paint protection etc. You don’t need all of that except for if your pocket allows that luxury. The correct research will help you with the anxiety.
Loan approval for newbies.
If you’re buying a car outright, all the power to you. But if your cash flow does not allow, consider financing. Check your Credit Score and hopefully it’s good enough to help you get a loan. Myself being new in this country meant limited credit history which indicates that a good score wasn’t sufficient. To top that, I just graduated and do not have a six figure income. Furthermore, I forgot to mention about my situation to the business manager (Never hide or lie while filling out a form for loan approval, not even unintentionally). Getting a loan that I wanted was tough. The bank added some conditions and lowered the term of loan but it was all good at the end. The conclusion, please know what you’re getting yourself into before it frightens you.
Test-drive and Inspect.
At a point, I made up my mind to buy a car with $5000 worth of value. I thought I could get a cheap car, keep it for a year and then get rid of it. But honestly, test drive your car if you’re going to do that. Check for unpleasant squeaks, lack of enough space, rusty brakes and more. Even if it’s a new car, you want to make sure it’s a good match for you. To add-on, it’s harmless to get cars inspected by mechanics before you buy it. You might find out if the previous owner is trying to hide damages or a more serious issue. Always, ask for car proof and repair records. If not provided, please move on to the next potential purchase.
Get a Car that you need
Don’t go after brands or the materialistic value of a car. Get something that you’ll feel safe and comfortable while driving. Do a brand and value evaluation. Sit down and think about your personality. Does that car appeal to you? Will you regret having it because someone else told you to buy it? Probably, yes. Remember, it’s your first car and it’s going to be an emotional milestone in your life. Don’t be scared about saying yes or no to a car that others might not like. It’s yours and you’re the one who needs to be happy with it. Not them!
Go buy your car now. If you have anything to add, please let me know!
Fun fact : On being asked my Mini Canada on Instagram, I came up with a name for my car. It’s called LITTLE RÊVE. Trust me, talking about it makes me tear up. I haven’t been proud of myself like this in a long time. RÊVE In French signifies dream, for those who are wondering.