A few years ago, Nathan and I purchased 2 used cars in one year. After driving my car for eleven years, it was time for an upgrade, like working a/c! After searching online we test drove a used Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. It had everything! Sun roof, electric everything, leather and it was a great deal. However, it was in the shop at least twice a month. After 9 months with the car, God graciously had someone steal it from our driveway! We then purchased my current vehicle, which has no bells and whistles, but is reliable and has a/c. We had saved money to purchase these cars cash and paid for them on our debit card.
Here are some of the things we learned.
#1: Set your budget. I have heard many people justify buying a new car or a more expensive used car saying they need a car that is “safe for their family”. Used cars are just as safe as new cars. While there may be some features that you want to look for in your car, don’t try to justify spending outside of your budget
#2: Find your ideal car. You will have to do some research to see what you need in a vehicle. We needed something that could tow our tent trailer, so a small car was out. This increased our budget some, but we decided not to go crazy with the size or cost of the vehicle. Figure out what you need the car to do: fit a large family, tow stuff, just get from point a to point b.
#3: Shop for a used car. Our first car we bought through an Auto Nation dealer. It was not a good experience. Our second car we bought through CarMax, it was amazing. However, I know people who have said the opposite is true for them. Perhaps you can find your car on craigslist and save even more money. There are many different options, you need to do what you feel comfortable doing.
#4: Determine the car’s value. Make sure that you look up the car on Kelly Blue Book or some other site. The fact that the jeep was selling for so far below it’s KBB value should have been a red flag for us. But you also want to make sure that you are not overpaying. You can also request a CarFax report to make sure there are no accidents or issues that have been reported with the car.
#5: Make sure you compare car insurance. Once you have the perfect car, contact your insurance and get a quote. You want to make sure that you won’t be paying an outrageous amount in car insurance.
Paying cash for a car is best. The average used car payment is $550/month and used is $397! Don’t shackle yourself to a payment for 5-7 years...save and pay cash!