Buying A Car While You’re Still In College

Are you growing weary of your long and arduous bus ride to college every day? If your one-ton backpack is compressing your spine and you keep getting shorter with each passing month, you have likely considered the possibility of buying a car of your own.

While your commute is torturous, owning and operating a vehicle is a huge financial commitment–one that no one should enter into lightly. And, if you are like most college students, money is tight. So, before making any rash decisions, consider the following.

Buying A Car While You're Still In College

Can you make do without a car?

An important first step is to ask yourself if you need a car. Is avoiding the bus each day really worth the huge expense of owning and maintaining an automobile? Remember that the cost of the car is only the beginning of the financial undertaking that you will be entering into once you drive it off the lot. You also have to consider grease and oils and other upkeep, parking expenses, insurance, and gas–otherwise known as “liquid gold.”

Plus, a car is not an investment. It depreciates in value at an alarming rate. Yes, by the time you are finished paying for it, your car will be worth a mere fraction of its sticker price.

How much can you realistically afford?

Before you head out to the car lots, make sure that you know exactly how much you can afford to spend. And don’t forget to include hidden expenses such as licensing and insurance. In fact, it is strongly recommended buy levitra pen that you get insurance quotes for the age and model of the vehicle that you are looking for beforehand.

Having trouble estimating how much these extra costs will add up to? Consumer Reports‘ “What That Car Really Costs to Own” gives a comprehensive picture of the true price of car ownership.

Also, you need to know what features you need verses which ones you want. Your “wants” can be trimmed down in order to meet your budget requirements. For instance, you need safety features like airbags, but you don’t need a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Should you buy new or used?

There are benefits to buying both new or used, and in order to choose the right option, you will need to consider both.

New cars will cost much more upfront, but they can save you money in repairs and maintenance down the road–particularly if they come with a lengthy manufacturer’s warranty. They also tend to boast the latest safety features. And, in “Negotiate the Price of a New Car,” it is recommended that you visit the dealership near the end of the month. Salespeople will be pushing to make their monthly quota and, as a result, they may be more willing to negotiate a better price.

Used cars, obviously, come with a lighter price tag and are usually less expensive to insure. Furthermore, if you select a vehicle that is over two years old, it will have already experienced its greatest period of depreciation. One of the most important considerations when buying used is the odometer reading. Try to stick with low mileage vehicles.

Should you buy from a dealer or a private seller?

While you may hit it lucky with a private sale, purchasing from an actual dealership is usually the safer bet. If you watch Judge Judy at all, you will know this is true.

If you opt for a “certified” used car, you will have the comfort of knowing that it has been inspected by a licensed mechanic. And, remember, it is still wise to take any vehicle that you are considering to your own mechanic for a thorough once over.

Dealerships will also accept your trade–if you have one–which will save you the headache of trying to sell it. Plus, most automobile retailers offer financing options and they take care of the licensing for you.

Should I get a second opinion?

It is always a good idea to bring someone along who has been through the car-buying process a number of times–unless of course they are known for buying lemons. Then, opt for someone else.

A second pair of eyes will prove beneficial when reading over the fine print of the contract–and an extra mouth will come in handy when negotiating with the salesperson. And make sure that you check out the car’s history using CARFAX.

And, most importantly, take the car for a test drive–including a good sprint down the freeway–before buying it. Make sure it handles well, suits your height and size, and that it doesn’t make any strange noises.

Buying a car is a big decision and you shouldn’t enter into it lightly–no matter how tired you are of playing “Sherpa.” Entering into the process armed with knowledge, numbers, and a trusted ally will better equip you for a positive outcome. And enable you to stay at your current height. Here are some additional tips on getting the best bang for your buck.

What prompted you to choose your first car? What mistakes did you make?

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I am a freelance writer, avid blogger, illustrator, and aspiring novelist who thinks the world is a terribly funny place filled with bizarre things to observe--and, of course, comment on. You can follow her somewhat neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and at Searching for Barry Weiss.

One Response to “Buying A Car While You’re Still In College”

  1. Stephen Frank

    Jul 19. 2014

    It’s not that easy to buy a car in college.

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