5 Car Buying Tips and Strategies for College Students

Some people are fortunate enough to receive their first car as a gift from their parents, usually during or shortly after high school.

If you aren’t one of them, you’re probably wondering how you can afford to buy a car on a student budget.

For those who need a way to get around in college, here are five tips to make your car-buying process easier.

1. Consider Buying Used

Everyone would love a shiny new car, but most of the time it is not a practical decision.

If they’re cared for properly, cars can last for decades. For a fraction of the cost, you can still buy a fully functional vehicle if you’re willing to get an older model.

Plus, automobile equity depreciates rapidly. Cars often lose thousands in resale value just by being driven from the lot.

In as little as five years, a new car could be worth less than 40 percent of its original sale price.

Buying a used car helps you to save money, both at the time of purchase and over the car’s lifespan.

2. Choose the Right Dealership

If you’re unfamiliar with the car-buying process, going to a dealership could save you a considerable amount of money.

Additionally, dealerships are held to higher standards of quality, compliance, and service compared to private sellers.

Shop around to make sure that you’re getting the best deal.

If necessary, you can use your research as a negotiating tool. Compare quotes from various retailers, and use the best offers to haggle pricing.

Sellers would be more willing to sacrifice a portion of their commission if they believed they could lose the sale.

3. Be Careful with Financing

You might prefer to borrow the money you need to purchase your car. But, paying with cash will save you money in the long run.

If you can put it off, try to save up as much as possible before you decide to buy it.

Using a line of credit will likely subject you to interest fees, which will add to your vehicle’s overall purchase price.

Choosing to finance your purchase through the dealership simply means that you’re allowing them to select a bank for you. This will add extra fees to the total cost of what you will borrow.

Doing your own research gives you the power to pick the best financing option for your needs.

4. Bring a Friend

If you can avoid it, try to refrain from showing up to the car lot by yourself.

Bringing an experienced accomplice can give you an edge when it comes to negotiating the best price.

Plus, tackling the process as a group leaves you less susceptible to cunning sales tricks and pressure to buy.

If you don’t know anyone who could assist you in this situation, make sure you’re well informed.

Having a concrete idea of what you want to buy helps you navigate the car-buying process with a clear, focused mind.

Knowing what you’re looking for gives you the upper hand when it comes to deciding between different options.

5. Stay Within the Budget

This one might be obvious, but don’t exceed your means. This especially important while you’re still in school.

You never know when unexpected expenses are going to pop up, and you don’t want to put yourself in a compromised position.

It might be tempting to pay a little more for a flashier car, but higher interest rates and monthly payments will catch up with you.

Opt or function over aesthetics, and you’ll have a reliable vehicle that gets the job done.

Buying a car is a stressful experience for anyone. If you’re trying to juggle a job and a rigorous class schedule, it can be even more daunting.

If you’re just starting out, but need a car fast, keep these tips in mind for a smooth and seamless process.