Updated on December 28th, 2018
Buying a new car is thrilling. That new car smell, knowing you’re the first behind the wheel, and the feeling of luxury when you finally drive it off the lot. However, sticking to your budget is important and it’s easy to overspend when it comes to buying a new car.
Fortunately, there are some tactics that can help you save and keep your splurging in check. Whether it’s your first new ride or you’re a seasoned lover of new car luxe, here are a few ways to keep your spending within the budget.
1. Negotiate based on miles.
Few new cars are actually at zero miles. They’ve been taken on test drives and simply driving them to various spots around the lot puts on miles. One of your biggest negotiating tools when buying new is focusing on miles. Is it really a new car if it has 100 miles on it? Use this information for leverage.
2. Shop in December.
Dealerships are offering the best deals in December because they have goals to meet and need to make room for next year’s models. If your new car is actually a current-year model, you can get one of the biggest discounts of all. Dealerships know cars can’t really be considered new when a later generation model is on the same lot. Purchase as late as you possibly can, and don’t forget to focus on the “new generation” when negotiating.
3. Resist the urge to customize.
Whether you’re shopping online or in person, a new car has the option of customization. It’s fun to think about hand-picking the exact color and specs of the vehicle, but customization itself can come at a premium. It’s also natural to be drawn towards the more expensive options available. If you have a budget, and you should, stick to it. Customization is one of the easiest ways to burst that budget.
4. Have your budget readily available.
Budgets should be written down and account for insurance costs as well as down payments and warranties. Know whether you want additional warranties before you start shopping. When you’re in the negotiating phase, refer back to the budget. If it’s well researched, you should have plenty of room to afford the cars you’ve been eyeing.
5. Give online shopping a chance.
One benefit of shopping online for cars is that not all dealerships need to have overhead—and those savings might be passed down to you. However, you do want to be certain the return policy fits your needs. With such a large purchase, return policies should be generous. Keep an eye out for anything similar to a “restocking fee,” and try to find a dealership that has offices physically near you in case of any issues.
6. Ask about base models.
It’s the job of a car salesperson to make as big of a sale as possible, and this is done by highlighting the most luxurious models available. However, if it’s more important that you have a new car rather than all the bells and whistles, don’t be afraid to ask about base models.
You should also be aware of what your own deal breakers are. Do you have to have power windows? What about leather vs. cloth interiors? Know what your limits are and don’t be swayed by pitches. Base models are made for a reason, and they have a strong fan base. You might be able to get an even more affordable car than you imagined depending on your needs.
Shopping for a new car should be fun and exciting, and it can be as long as you go into the process with a budget and clear idea of your must-haves. End of year shopping has arrived, and ‘tis the season for getting a great deal on new and used cars. It makes the perfect holiday gift for yourself or someone you love.