There’s a lot to consider when buying your first car, but you don’t need to feel anxious about the process. Here are some simple steps that will help prepare you to make this important purchase.
Determine Your Budget
Before falling in love with a car you can’t afford, take a good hard look at your finances to determine how much you can comfortably spend on a new or used car. Whether you are paying for your ride outright or planning to take out a loan, it’s always a smart move to stick to a firm budget. Don’t forget that the cost to operate your car should be included in your calculations; things like fuel, maintenance, and comprehensive auto insurance all add to the bottom line of what it costs to own a vehicle. It’s also a good idea to budget a sum of money each month to build an emergency fund, just in case you need to make an expensive, unplanned-for repair.
Consider Your Insurance Needs
You’ll want to tackle the issue of obtaining insurance for your new vehicle before you drive it off the lot; once the car is in your hands, it’s your responsibility. While most people know they should carry collision and liability insurance, they often aren’t aware that those policies don’t always cover losses due to vandalism, theft, fire, or other incidents that could damage your car.
It’s a good idea to contact several carriers so you can compare car insurance quotes and learn about all of your coverage options. Your aim should be to find a provider that gets you not just a low monthly rate but also the level of coverage you need with the lowest deductible possible. When you’ve found a carrier that meets your needs, contact them as soon as you’ve signed your purchase contract to activate your policy.
Find the Right Fit
Now that you have an idea of what you can afford each month, it’s time to start looking at your options. Begin by browsing online listings from both individual sellers and dealerships. This will help you see which cars are in your price range; then you’ll be able to drill down and look more closely at the options and features that are most important to you.
If fuel economy is your top priority, then you’ll want to compare the typical city and highway mileage on the models that are catching your eye. If the ability to haul a lot of gear is more critical, then cargo room will be your focus. One thing to keep in mind is that even amongst identical models asking prices can vary, so be sure to get multiple quotes before settling on any given vehicle.
Although it’s a big step, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed when purchasing your first car. If you think about practicalities like budgeting and insurance coverage before falling in love with a vehicle, you’re sure to find a ride that’s the right fit for both you and your pocketbook.