If you're thinking about buying a car, you're not alone. In 2016, people in the US bought 17.55 million cars and trucks, Forbes reported. Although it's too soon to say for sure, 2017 appears to be another record-setting year for vehicle purchases.
But buying a car isn't a decision to take lightly. There's a lot more to owning a car than paying a dealer for the vehicle. Before you set out to buy a car, make sure the purchase fits your current budget and future financial goals.
Budgeting for a Car
Before buying a new car, determine how much car you can afford. You don't want to start looking for a new car, fall in love with a certain make and model, and find out it's outside your price range.
If you're getting a loan to pay for the car, make sure that the monthly payment isn't more than you can comfortably pay back. The standard advice is not to have debt that exceeds 43 percent of your gross monthly income. That means that if you bring in $5,000 per month, your total debt payments shouldn't be higher than $2,150 each month.
Financing a New Car
If you don't have the cash to pay for a car upfront, a car loan allows you to spread out payments over time. You'll end up paying a bit more than the cost of the car, thanks to interest and fees. You generally have two major options when it comes to getting a car loan. Many dealerships offer financing to customers, or you can get a loan from a bank or credit union.
Because interest rates vary, shop around before deciding to buy a car. In many cases, the loan you get from a credit union will often have better terms and rates than the loans offered by a dealership.
Actual Cost of Ownership
When you buy a car, you pay for much more than just the cost of the vehicle itself. There's also the cost to use and maintain it. You'll want to include the average cost of ownership in your budget when deciding which type of car you can afford to buy.
One thing that's especially important to think about is the amount of gasoline a car uses. With the average cost of gas at $2.29 per gallon, the more fuel efficient your vehicle is, the less you'll have to fill up and the less you'll pay for gas.
Also consider the cost of repairs and whether you'll perform some maintenance tasks, such as replacing the oil, yourself. Some car models require special parts and can only be repaired by authorized mechanics, adding to the cost considerably.
Don't Forget Auto Insurance
Car insurance is a must for any vehicle owner. The cost of that insurance can vary considerably based on the type of car you own, whether you're buying or leasing, and whether you've paid in full or taken out a loan. Your age, driving record and location also influence insurance costs. To avoid any surprises, get a few quotes before you purchase the car.
If you plan to buy a car, your first stop should be Coosa Valley Credit Union. We offer several car loans, including options for people who are rebuilding their credit. Contact your local branch today to learn more.