The other night I was wasting some time on craigslist when I was looking at some possible cars that I might buy next time I need to upgrade. My wife asked what I was doing and I of course responded that I was looking at cars. She challenged my decision to waste time on this asking, “when do you think we need to buy a new(er) car?”
I knew she had me there. I don’t plan on buying a different car for 2-3 years at the earliest. It’s just that I like to know the “going rate” for cars so that when I do need to shop for a new car, I have a general knowledge of the market. You, like my wife, can call me crazy but I like to be prepared. Considering that I obsess about this, I figured I would share my thoughts on minimizing the cost of a car, which is often a depreciating asset.
Look at Multiple Models – The best way to keep your costs low is to find the best prices for the best car. This means shopping around. While you may be settled on looking at a hatchback by Honda, it might be in your best interest to look at other makes as well. You might not be able to find a better deal, but it’s worth the time to shop around.
Consider a Hybrid – This probably goes without saying since most people hate spending so much money at gas stations these days, but maybe it is time to consider an eco friendly car. Most hybrids have increased MPG and are becoming increasingly affordable for the average consumer. For the first time ever, my wife and I are considering getting a hybrid next time. There are some hybrids available these days that cost only $4-5k more than similar cars and get 20-30 more miles per gallon. This just sounds too good to be true!
Only Get What’s Necessary – Everyone will have their own lists of “must-haves”, but make sure that you don’t splurge on a car that has features that you won’t use. TV screens for passengers in the second seat may sound good, but if you don’t have any children, they will probably go unused. Regardless of whether you plan on using them, the seller will often charge more for these type of features. I know that the two necessities for me are AC and cruise control.
Buying a new(er) car means a big expense. In order to keep the cost to a minimum, make sure to to do your homework before any big purchase. It may take a few extra hours now, but it will save you a lot of headache.