If money’s no object, then having that brand new Ferrari, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, or Bentley in your garage isn’t going to be a problem. However, for most of us, this is a dream world, maybe one that we could get to one day, and we need to be realistic when it comes to buying a car. After buying a property, the next largest expense that you’re likely to have is a new car, and if you haven’t yet made the property ladder, it’s probably going to be the most expensive thing that you’ve bought.
Don’t let that put you off though. Cars come in all shapes and sizes, and their costs naturally differ also. What you need to do when you’re starting to look around is to carry out some serious research online, getting a feel for what’s out there and starting to narrow down your options. In the end, it comes down to the budget you have. Buying a car is a big decision because there will not only be the cost of your machine but also the ongoing running costs that never end. You need to factor these into your research so that you get a car that you know you can afford.
Follow these tips to help you make up your mind.
Take the time to research thoroughly
We’re all busy, busy, busy, but when it comes down to sourcing the right car for you, then set aside time to do that essential research. There are good online tools available to help you focus on what will best suit you, and given the dozens and dozens of makes and models available, it makes sense to get a wider picture.
Aim for a car to suit your lifestyle
If you’re a city dweller, then you probably don’t need a large gas-guzzler to get around town. Something small and economic, maybe a hybrid, would do the job, but if you want to do long vacation trips, then you would want a larger car and have to consider the higher purchase cost and extra running costs. It’s important that you’re clear about what you want to use your car for and that it fits sensibly with your lifestyle. If it’s just you, then small could be good; for a family, you need to think bigger.
Setting your budget
Now you’re down to the nitty-gritty. What can you realistically afford? It’s all too easy to go for that amazing machine that may seem affordable but, when you do the math, is just that little bit out of your reach. You need to consider the down payment and then, when you take out a loan for the balance, what the interest rates and repayment terms are. When you’ve made your decision, and are ready to go ahead, you can get an auto loan right now and get the process in motion so that you can get your new car sooner rather than later.
Once you’ve decided what best suits your budget, you should explore what the ongoing costs for running your car will be. It’s easy to forget that cars don’t just need to be regularly filled with gas – there are many other payments associated with keeping your car on the road. Check out what the registration cost is for you in your state as regulations vary. Then factor in insurance. This will be more expensive if you have an expensive car, and if you have taken out a loan, the lender will insist that you have full coverage. Research all these costs before you make your final decision.
Repairs and maintenance
You could file this under ongoing costs, but it’s not a regular outgoing and costs will vary depending on what you need to do. You can factor in a regular service, including an oil change, and get a ballpark figure for costs, but you need to think about replacement tires, brake pads, even an exhaust from time to time. If something big goes wrong and you’re out of warranty, then you could find yourself with a major and unexpected bill.
Dream versus nightmare
Owning a car doesn’t need to be a nightmare, provided that you have done all the essential research before you take the leap. Motoring can be quite frazzle-free if you know what you’re dealing with and don’t let your dreams run ahead of the hardheaded reality. When you get your planning and budgeting in sync, you’ll be on the road to many years of worry-free driving.