Quick Tips for Buying your First Car

Buying a car is typically an inevitable purchase many of us have to make at some point in our life. New car excitement; unfortunately, is often balanced with the dread and stress of loans and dealerships.

There’s good news.

With a little prep work you can nearly eliminate the uncertainty you feel. Here are a few tips to help you lessen your stress, pay what you can afford, get the best deal and fall in love with your new set of wheels.

Find out what you can pay each month.

Take a look at your cost-of-living. Calculate what you spend on rent, food, insurance and what you would like to have in the way of “fun money.” What can you afford to pay for a car each month? This will include not only the car payment, but the insurance cost as well. Next, determine how long you want to make payments. Loan terms can be spread out from 36 to 72-months depending on how much money you put on the down payment, how much you are financing and what you can afford.

Figure out your cost of ownership.

Loan payments, insurance costs, gas, oil changes, maintenance costs and taxes should all be considered when calculating your monthly cost commitment. When you have better knowledge of where your money is going, you keep from being surprised in the long run.

Get pre-approved for your loan.

Don’t waste your time looking at cars you can’t afford. With a pre-approval you can focus on options within your price range.
Research your options. Keep an open mind. You may have your heart set on a $35,000 vehicle, but you can only afford to spend $10,000. Consider new and pre-owned options within your price range. Test drive several vehicles before you buy. You and your car will have a long relationship, you want to make sure it’s the right fit.

Get the negotiations out of the way.

You may hear conversations about how sitting through your first car deal can be daunting. Well, buying a car just got easier. There are free car buying services that allow you to shop online and avoid all the dealership negotiations and haggling ? often saving you money in the process. Simply, choose your make and model, pick the color, options/specifications and view all of the available incentives. The process is similar for used cars too. After you have decided on the car you are interested in, you get a certificate showing you the guaranteed price from a certified dealer. This includes the TrueCar® Price Curve which shows others have paid for the same vehicle. This information will help ensure you are getting a great deal.

Go finalize the deal.

At the dealership always review your contract details. Before signing, make sure you are comfortable with the terms. Ask the dealer to remove any add-on fees that you did not agree to.

Follow these steps and you will feel an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that you made smart choices, got the deal you deserve and did it completely on your own. Good luck.

Ways to save at the DMV

I was on my way to work Monday when out of nowhere those bright blue lights that everyone dreads were flashing in my rearview mirror. I had no idea why I was being pulled over, and the officer looked particularly annoyed getting out of her car (thanks rain) to talk to me.

The officer let me know my tags (decals on my license plate) were expired. I was genuinely confused, in the past I’ve gotten a letter in the mail letting me know it’s time to renew. She explained I’d only get the notice in the mail if my emissions were due. Now, I’m not one to disagree with the law but I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten notifications every other year. Then again I could be ‘remembering’ those letters because I’ve never missed a renewal date before.

Needless to say, what a great way to start off a rainy Monday! I was given a $25 No/Expired Registration Fee ticket, and if I decide to prepay I have to add a $62 Processing Fee. Yep, just like that I owe about $87. I went to the DMV website to find the nearest location to get my tags renewed and stumbled across some new information I thought you should be aware of!

  1.  As of July 1, 2012 a $10 late fee is added if customers renew their vehicle registration (decals) from DMV after they expire. As long as Virginians renew before their decals expire, this new fee will not affect them. I look forward to paying this fee…
  2. SET UP EMAIL and PHONE REMINDERS FOR RENEWALS! Go to the DMV Online Transactions page HERE and have renewal reminders sent via text, email or phone call.
  3. If you renew your vehicle registration (decals) online, you’ll save $1. Renew HERE.
  4. A $5 fee is added to each vehicle registration renewal transaction conducted in DMV customer service centers. Avoid the fee by renewing online, through the mail, over the phone (1-888-337-4782) or at a DMV Select location.
  5. An exemption was extended for vehicles registered with clean special fuel license plates to continue to use certain High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of passengers. During HOV-restricted periods, HOV-2 lanes require a minimum of two people per passenger vehicle and HOV-3 lanes require a minimum of three. However, vehicles bearing clean special fuel license plates may travel on certain HOV lanes regardless of the number of travelers in the vehicle. Learn more HERE.


Sources: https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/exec/notice.asp?id=134,