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What are the two biggest factors that go into purchasing the right car? Time and money. What are the two things you have the least of as a parent and a business owner? Time and money.
These contradictory statements make the idea of buying a car stressful. If you’re a single mom who runs her own business and cooks dinner with her kids, the tasks of comparing prices and mileages and researching manufactural problems seem insurmountable.
Fortunately, the process of buying a car can be broken into manageable bites. To help ease you into the car-buying world, here are the essential know-how for finding a vehicle befitting your business and family.
First Up, Safety Ratings
No matter what car you’re looking at, from a Prius to a Yukon, a quick decision can be made by checking its safety ratings. Go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, and you’ll be able to look up any year, make, and model to see how it performed under crash tests.
One Checklist, Two Checklists
Managing your business and managing your family can sometimes feel inseparable. They both require delicate care and hard work that comes with being a motivated parent.
So, when looking for the right car, it’s okay to consider both of their needs.
Perfect car for your business
If you deliver products for your business, you’ll need a vehicle with extra trunk space. If you work from home but still have a lot of small trips to make throughout the day, maybe a hybrid or an electric car can be the fuel-efficient vehicle you’re looking for.
Perfect car for your family
How many seats do you need? If your kids are about to hit puberty, maybe that compact car with tight seating doesn’t make sense. Does your family like to go camping? A mid-size SUV is perfect for packing equipment, seating everyone comfortably, and it’s reasonably efficient with gas.
When you write out these checklists, you’ll notice certain features overlap between the two. These are your must-have features. Whatever car you find has to include these. If they don’t, move onto the next.
The other items on your checklist then help narrow down your final search. You’re likely to encounter some trade-offs. For example, could you manage with less trunk space if it means saving hundreds on gas? Answering these questions before you get to the dealership can help save time in the long run.
There are some additional ways to save money when buying a car.
Large down payment
Much like buying a home, investing as much as possible upfront on a down payment will save you bundles overall. The larger the down payment, the lower the interest rates will be on your loan.
Shipping and handling fees can cost you up to a thousand dollars on top of the price of the car. For example, if you reside in the sunny state of Florida, buy your car at a local dealership. If you live in California, shop for cars within the Golden State.
Visit multiple dealerships
On that same note, don’t just shop at the nearest dealership. Check out various dealerships in your area.
Following our earlier example, if you do live in Florida, visit the Honda dealership in Miami, the Mercedes dealer near Deerfield Beach, and the Toyota lot in between. The more dealerships you visit, the better chance you have of securing the best deal. Plus, you’ll improve your haggling skills with practice.
Use Dealerships as a Resource
There are two things to remember about car dealerships. One, when visiting a car dealership and speaking with a car salesman, you are under no (read ZERO!) obligation to buy a car. And two, those salespeople are surrounded by cars every day, they must know a lot.
Find a manager and talk his or her head off. Tell them your must-have features and your budget and see what cars they recommend. Then go home and do your research.
Check the difference between used prices and new prices. Compare brands. Learn everything you can, so that when you return to negotiate (or visit another dealership), you can bargain the price down appropriately.
You’ve Found the Car
Finding the right car feels like a big weight being yanked from your shoulders. From here, there’s only one thing left to do. Buy it.
If the butterflies are starting to flutter, remember to take a deep breath. You’ve done all the hard work of researching and planning, and now it’s time to have fun.
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.