If you’re thinking about buying a new car and don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Purchasing a new vehicle is one of the bigger purchases you’ll make in life, so there’s quite a bit to consider. From leasing a brand-new vehicle to buying used, there are so many options out there that fit all different types of budgets.
Between higher prices and lower product availability, the car market itself is more challenging to navigate these days. According to the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, most dealers only have 10% to 15% of their total inventory. This is why planning ahead is a key way to get the vehicle you’re looking for at a realistic price.
Here are our top tips for making car shopping more affordable.
Build up your savings
If you don’t already have a savings account dedicated to big purchases like a new vehicle, now’s the time to start! Having money in the bank to buy a car minimizes the amount you have to borrow, which can potentially save you thousands in interest down the line. Make it easier on yourself by setting up automatic deposits into your savings, so you don’t even have to think about it.
Figure out your down payment
Based on your current income and expenses, you’ll want to calculate the target amount to spend on a down payment and make sure it’s realistic for you. Ideally, you should be putting 20% down on a new vehicle and 10% down on a used vehicle. The more money you put down, the better deal you’ll get. It will not only help you qualify for a loan, but it will also make for a more affordable monthly payment.
Check out our handy auto and loan payment calculators on our website, to help provide you with realistic numbers.
Research and compare prices
Before you head to a dealership, you’ll want to do some research on your own. The more you know about the market value of the vehicle you want, the better deal you’ll get. The best way to do this is to identify the type of car you’re looking for and research the Kelley Blue Book price for each make and model.
Did you know we partner with local dealers to get our members a great rate on their next car? If you finance with us and purchase a vehicle from one of our preferred auto dealers, a great offer will be waiting for you!
Sell or trade your current vehicle
If you’re replacing your current car, you can sell it or trade it in at the dealership. The money you’ve made can be put toward your next car’s down payment. We recommend using appraisal tools to help estimate your car’s value so you know how much you should receive for the vehicle.
Negotiating is common when making a big purchase like a vehicle. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price of the car, especially if you’ve found it at a lower price elsewhere or there are minor flaws.
Consider your loan options
At First Financial, we offer personalized auto loans for new or used vehicles with low rates and same day approval decisions.** If you think you’ve spent too much at the dealership, you can also check out our auto loan refinance options or fill out our quick online form to see if we can help you save some money on your monthly payments. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!
*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership before opening any other account/loan. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Some restrictions apply, contact the Credit Union for more information.
**APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. First Financial FCU maintains the right to not extend credit, after you respond, if we determine you do not meet our guidelines for creditworthiness. Current loans financed with First Financial FCU are not eligible for review or refinance. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an Auto Loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a Base Savings Account is required to establish membership prior to opening any other account/loan.