When I was a teenager, I became a car enthusiast. I had posters of Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the wall. I would read every issue of Motor Trend and Car & Driver. I could not wait until I was old enough to afford any one of those cars. In fact, I began to plan out the cars I would have by a certain age. This timeline would determine my car buying habits for the nest 20 years. To avoid making the same mistakes I did, you should follow these more reasonable tips below.
Determine what you actually need
The first step in choosing your car is defining what you need from a vehicle. Do you need the ability to haul things? Do you have a long commute? Is this going to be the main family car?
When you can answer these questions, you will know whether or not you should look for a two-door car, a truck or a minivan. If gas mileage is a priority, this process will help you narrow down the size of the car you should be considering. The research tool at Cars.com will help you locate what you need.
Understand your budget
The problem that many people have is not knowing how much car they can afford. Having a good definition of “afford” is the first step. Afford does not mean that as long as your balance is not negative, you can afford it. Your car payment needs to fit comfortably within your budget.
Defining your budget is the first step. You should add up all your other expenses, add at least 10% of your monthly income for savings, and your car payment should fit within the month that is left. If you need a car payment calculator, then head to Cars.com.
Connect with experiences not things
If you are a fellow car enthusiast then sticking with what you can afford can be difficult. I understand the desire to buy as much car as your checking account will allow. We tend to associate the car we drive with how successful we have been in life, but that is a mistake. I’ve been down that path and bought a car that would turn heads. However, all I got was a handful of teenage boys giving me a nod of approval and loads of debt. I’ve learned that it is better to save and invest your money into things that are more valuable than a car.
Focus on becoming debt free or being able to retire early or taking more vacations with your family. The joy of driving the newest and fanciest car is fleeting and can be devastating to your finances.