Beginners Guide To Car Buying: Everything You Should Know BEFORE Buying a Car

How Much Should Your Car Down Payment Be? Into into Car Buying
Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

Buying a car can be a stressful process with so much to think about.  Are you getting the best deal?  How much car can I afford?  Does it come with a rear view camera?  For the first time ever, I am looking to buy a car from a dealership and I am not in a position to buy the car outright.  I have never had a car note before and the idea of an additional monthly expense gives me anxiety.    So how does one make such a large purchase with confidence?  The answer is going into it well informed so that you don’t get hustled by the vision of you riding off into the sunset with sexy new wheels or hustled by a salesperson trying to make their quota.  Over the next few weeks, I will break down everything need to consider before buying a car.  Today, we will focus on two of my favorite starting points- New vs. Used and Down Payments.  So buckle up and join me on this car-buying excursion.

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

The New New

There is this character in the 2006 movie ATL whose nickname was “New New”.  New New got her name because she was known to have the latest and greatest of everything.  If she were looking for a car in the year 2017, she would be considering a 2018 because the 17 model just wasn’t new enough for her.  Even though New New is a character in a movie, many people out there share the same mindset.  The thing is she places her money in items that depreciate in value at an accelerated rate.  In fact, just by driving your new car for the first time as a new owner decreases its value by 11%.  The $30,000 car you just drove off the lot is now worth $26,700 by the time you get to the highway.  Instead, consider a used car that is between two and three years old.  They are often still under warranty, they offer many of the same features, and comes with a lower price point.

Cash Is Queen

I understand that most people cannot afford to pay cash for a car.  I did it by dealing directly with private sellers on Craigslist, buying older models, and going into the process with a set amount to spend.  It worked for me and I did it at a time when the cars on Craigslist were good deals for both buyers and private sellers.  I am a regular person who found a way to make the money work for me.  Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, reflects on people who give him push back that regular people cannot afford to pay cash for a car in his book Complete Guide to Money (a must read, click the here for a FREE download with the app).  According to Ramsey, “people don’t buy with cash because they are rich; they’re rich because they buy cars with cash”.  I must agree with his statement.  I am in a better financial position today because I decided I couldn’t afford to have a monthly car note.

Assuming you can’t buy the entire car with cash, consider how much you can pay for up front to keep the overall price of the car as low as possible.  Whenever you finance a car, you are paying interest on that auto loan.  Instead of financing the entire amount, you should aim to have 20% or more as a down payment to avoid wasting thousands of your hard-earned money on interest.  Additionally, taxes and extra fees should not be considered when calculating your 20% down payment because you should NEVER finance taxes and fees.  Before you even set foot in a car dealership you need to ask yourself, can you actually afford the car you have been researching?  Rich people ask “how much?”  Broke people ask “how much down and how much per month?”  A salesperson will tell you the lowest down payment to get you to sign on the dotted line but going into negotiations well equipped with the knowledge of best down payment to make, you know you can do better…and if you can’t, that means you cannot afford that car. Ramsey explains, “When a rich person says she can afford it, she means she can actually afford the car.  When a broke person says she can afford it, she means she can probably make the monthly payments as long as there are no emergencies and she doesn’t lose her job”.    Think about it, could you afford your monthly car payment if you were out of work for a month?  How about 3 months?  These are all things to think about before you buy a car.  Stay tuned next week for Part II as we discuss  Every Thing You Need to Know About Leasing and Financing a Car!

{Week 8 Recap} Beyonce’, Credit Cards, & the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Sunday- the end of the week or start of a new one? For me, it is the wrap up to week eight of 2016 and time for the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. To chose a number for the week, I start by looking at my bank account and seeing how much I can afford pay on top of my bills and money envelopes. While I manage my money on a zero-based style budget, I do leave a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses and this BINGO Challenge. I then review my credit card statement, since that is how I am using the extra money from this challenge.  Looking at the declining balance of credit card debt gets me right back on track when I start thinking about excess spending. For example, I was on the Ticketmaster site earlier this week determined to get BeeHive presale tickets for  Beyonce’s Formation Tour that went on sale at 10:00am.

beyonce-10-dollar-bill

9:44 am….I had my credit card out on my desk and was ready to purchase up to four tickets on my card.  But why?  I love going to Beyonce’ concerts.  “It’s about the experience”, is what I said to justify the “almost expense”.   I have only missed one of six Beyonce’s World Tours, I Am…Sasha Fierce, so to say that I’m really missing out might be a reach.

9:58am… Credit card is in hand and I am watching the countdown clock for the start of presale tickets.  I’m ready to risk my progress toward my financial milestone dates that I have set for myself as an individual and that my husband and I have set as a couple.

9:59:59… I hit refresh.  Picturing me, hubs, and another friend couple having the time of our lives.  Aww…the fun we are going to have.

10:00am…. I am entering my information trying to get tickets for the Atlanta show. So excited to tell the hubs that I got these tickets for us.

10:03am… “do not refresh or you will lose your place in line” Really Ticketmaster?

10:15am…  The same message is on the screen when the phone rings and I have to stop #OperationFormationTour and take care of business.giphy

Looking back, I have to credit divine intervention for me aborting #OperationFormationTour.  I was saved by the bell…or ring… especially considering  I was prepared to spend up to $150.00 per ticket for this concert.   If I am really being honest with myself, all of this was more about  FOMO (fear of missing out) than seeing my fifth Beyonce’ concert.  Dave Ramsey has famously affirmed, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else”.  There are a lot of broke people going to see Beyonce’ who are sacrificing responsibilities for what I am sure will be an epic experience.  I’m okay missing this concert (unless someone wants to graciously gift me tickets), if that means I am making strides to get to the point where the question  changes.  I am staying steadfast with my goals and very soon that the question will change from, Should we spend $150.00 per ticket? to What country to you want to see this concert in?  For now, I will focus on getting my finances into formation and I will cross off $15.00 on my BINGO money sheet.

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{Week 7 Money Challenge Recap} RESET Your Goals = Success

“Personal Finance Really 80% Behavior and 20% Head Knowledge”- Dave Ramsey

Jars of Coins

We are closing out week 2 of February and I have a good feeling that people have started to forget the motivation that most feel at the very beginning of the year. Whether you have forgotten your goals, lost sight of your personal mantra for your year, or given up on your resolutions, know that it is not too late to reset. In the past three years, I’ve gotten off track more than a few times when doing this challenge. That’s why it’s called a challenge. It is not supposed to be easy. Lucky for us, my BINGO version of this challenge isn’t particularly difficult either. Making necessary changes to help you reach your goals, be it financially, socially, or vocationally is all about behavior. You have to retrain your brain and as soon as you start seeing results, you will begin to establish that positive change as a habit and one day you will look up and it will be a lifestyle. You can do it, whatever “it” may be for you. As far as this journey toward financial freedom goes, you are not alone. We are in this together. I’m proud of myself for going strong every Friday with the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. Today I crossed off $46.00 on my BINGO money sheet for a total of $70.00 extra dollars that went toward my credit card debt (on top of the monthly minimum, of course) this month. Instead of spending $70.00 on my taco habit (Hi, my name is Danielle and I have an unhealthy LOVE of tacos) I invested that $70.00 into my financial goals.

Great job to those who are going all in and staying on the challenge like Alysa T. who check just about every Friday, Briana C., and Chris. C.  I also want to welcome the newcomers to the challenge. The beauty of this challenge is that you can start or restart anytime, so if you have gotten off tract RESET today.

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{Week 21 Update} 52 Week Challenge Helped Me Hit A Financial Milestone!

It’s week 21 of the 52 Week Challenge and I am five weeks away from the half-way point of the challenge I started on Friday, January 3, 2014. Over the course of 21 weeks, I have saved over $500.00 dollars that I would have spent on random bits and baubles. Doing this challenge, along with deciding to play a little Russian roulette with my finances, has helped me to pay off my ENTIRE credit card balance three months ahead of schedule.

52 Week ChallengeWhile some may think a money challenge like this is not worth the effort, I strongly disagree. Not only are you putting money aside for whatever your current financial goal may be, be it paying down debt, saving for a new car or home, or planning a wedding, you are also altering your previous financial behaviors. Personal finance is 80% BEHAVIOR and only 20% HEAD KNOWLEDGE! Just taking the steps to start a challenge like this means that you are getting into the habit of saving. Becoming successful in the challenge means that it has become a part of your lifestyle and not a temporary behavior change. I urge you, if you have thought about ways to save money to try this challenge BINGO style. It’s the easiest way to save extra money under your own terms.

Email me for a copy of my 52 Week Challenge Sheet & Start the Challenge TODAY!

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{Financial Cents} Is Your Way of Thinking Making You Poor?

Just as slaves born into slavery can’t visualize freedom, we Americans don’t know what it would be like to wake up to NO debt.
Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover

Is Your Way of Thinking Making You Poor.pngYour alarm clock sounds, alerting you that a new day has come. You awake to find yourself owning a car without a car payment, a home without a mortgage, an education without student loans, and credit card(s) with a zero balance. How did you get to this financial freedom? Did you a) win the lottery, b) rob a bank Sugar & Spice style, or c) align your behaviors with your long-term financial goals? Well, the answer to the question depends on whom you ask.

I told a friend of mine that I was working to become debt free and she looked me right in my face and laughed. I mean laughed to the point of tears while telling me how unrealistic I was being. “Everyone has debt”, she alleged. If this were her outlook on financial freedom, I would guess that she could image a debt free life comes only as a result of a windfall. She will either rob the bank or win the lottery. I, however, understand how even the most minute  sacrifices will help me get closer to my financial goals. I have to think beyond the day-to-day and month-to-month if I want to build  generational wealth. Financial expert, Dave Ramsey adds, “We have been sold debt with such repetition […] that it’s hard for people to imagine what it would be like to have no payments”. Debt shouldn’t be the normal status quo and I am not comfortable adopting that mind-set. When the day comes when I wake up with no mortgage, no student loans, and no credit card balance, I know it will be a result of my financial plan and my commitment to it.

Is Debt Normal? Share Your Thoughts…