Window Shopping for a New Car

Claire the Afena Mom Blog

Window Shopping for a New Car

May 02, 2016
I’m a big believer in making what you have last for as long as possible. That’s why you purchase for quality - you know it will save you money in the long run. But when it comes to vehicles, you’re likely going to find me looking at gently used options rather than new. So you might wonder how I found myself on the car lot looking at 2016 models this past week.

Here’s what brother was in the market for a new car. He drives a lot for his job, so for him it made sense to shop new. He needs low mileage, a strong warranty, and to know he’s not inheriting any mechanical issues. Because we haven’t seen enough of each other lately and the kids were happily entertained by their aunt and cousins, I controlled my urge to suggest the gently used, better value options as I saw them and tagged along. 

So while my brother was actually shopping for a new car, I was window shopping, which can be dangerous. I remembered what it felt like to smell the new car smell, to relax into leather seats and listen to the very quiet, pleasant purr of a freshly manufactured engine. Now I did not end up buying a vehicle last week, but it did remind what it’s like to shop for one, and why we need to be aware of what we’re looking for in a vehicle if we are actually going to buy one, so that we don’t overspend on those extras we don’t really need.

When shopping for a new car, it’s always too easy to let your emotions do the shopping. After all, you’ve been fantasizing about that red convertible for how long? For most people, a car is the most expensive purchase they’ll make aside from their house. So, keeping this sobering thought in mind is a solid step toward reining in those emotions.

Common sense dictates that you’ll want the lowest interest rate possible regardless of whether you’re buying a new or used car. After all, the ultimate goal should be to pay off your car with the least amount of money in the least amount of time. If you’ve managed to save enough to buy a car outright, that’s awesome! But if you do need help with the financing, make sure to stop in at Afena Federal Credit Union (and tell them Claire sent you!)

Next, it’s important to figure out what you can afford before shopping around. One good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 10 percent of your total earnings toward your car expense. Another good rule to follow is to finance no more than 80 percent of the price of the car. If you finance more than 80 percent, you may find yourself owing more on the auto loan than you could get by selling the car or trading it in.

You’re only ready to start shopping for your car once you’ve determined how much you can spend on it and how much of a down payment you can make. Using your head first, instead of letting your emotions lead you, may not put you in that red convertible you’ve been dreaming of now, but the financial payoff from saving money might get you there a little later. I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading.