Kat’s Money Corner: Wheelin’ and Dealin’ for a new set of wheels

07/29/2014 1:00 AM

07/29/2014 6:00 AM

Car buying is something I happen to know more than a little bit about. A few years ago, my husband and I bought a year-old Honda Odyssey with low miles. The purchase took us a few months. We used a variety of negotiation tactics but we eventually got the deal we were after. To prepare for the purchase, we put away a few dollars every month. When the time came, we put down two-thirds of the total cost, which saved quite a bit on interest. http://autos.aol.com/article/five-critical-rules-for-negotiating-new-vehicle

Vehicles are a major purchase. Don’t wait until your current car is rattling down the highway before you start looking to replace it. Plan ahead and save money for your next set of wheels and you’re bound to drive away with a few extra dollars in your wallet.

Fasten Your Seatbelt

As a rule, no more than 20 percent of your monthly income should go toward your auto expenses, including payments, gas, taxes, insurance and maintenance. If you can’t realistically pay for your dream car, look at other options or keep saving. Try to shop by the car’s total price, not the monthly payments, as means of staying within your predetermined budget.

Use the web to begin your search. Use online calculators and vehicle search pages to help determine how much you can afford, compare makes and models and find dealers. Lastly, talk to a financial advisor about auto loans before you head to the dealership. Your credit score will have an impact on how much you’ll pay throughout the life of your auto loan. Good credit can help get you a lower interest rate. https://www.cacu.com/cudl-autosmart

Buy Used

When you drive a new car off the lot, it depreciates in value by at least $2,000 if not more depending on the model. That’s a lot of money to lose on such a short drive. While the temptation of a new car can be hard to resist, know that buying a vehicle with a few miles on it already can save big money. Even buying last year’s model will give you the advantage of the manufacturer’s warranty without the added costs. http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-fast-does-my-new-car-lose-value-infographic.html

One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t necessarily “order” a used car to your exact specifications. However, if you put in some research time, you can find the car you want in the right color and with all the features you want. Be patient and you will save money.

Plan Your Purchase

Summer is often the best time to buy a new car. Most dealers are anxious to move last year’s models off the lot to make room for the new models coming in around October. http://www.kbb.com/car-news/all-the-latest/class-of-2015-new-cars-and-trucks-ready-to-roll/2000010389 /

Time of year isn’t the only factor to keep an eye on when you’re considering a new vehicle. If you can, head out to the dealership toward the end of the month and ideally not on a weekend. You will be more likely to work with salespeople who are anxious to meet monthly quotas while avoiding the weekend crowds. Also, make a reasonable offer after you’ve eaten lunch. Like most of us, car salesmen are anxious to get home at the end of the day so you may get a better deal by waiting until the late afternoon or early evening to begin your negotiations.

No matter what time of year or day it is, it’s never too early to start thinking about your next set of wheels. Keep an eye out for reviews and safety ratings and don’t forget to scan the weekly deals in the Sunday paper. In the meantime, start putting away some money now, and you can reward yourself later.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.

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