Financing big-ticket items today (2016) is a big problem, especially when it comes to cars. Recently, I read that the average price of a new car is $32,000.00. Wow! If the average income is $60,000.00, how can most families afford a new car? The truth is, they can’t. However, car retailors come up with all kinds of things to make affording a new car seem possible. They offer “No money down to qualified buyers”, “Zero percent financing for the first two years”, “Leasing a new car every three years” and other equaling appealing packages. Car manufacturers add to the allure by depicting the auto as the ultimate sex machine, or speed machine or dream machine. According to the same article referred to above, people spend a great deal of time researching the kind of car they wish to buy. But, they do not spend any time on deciding how to finance that purchase. The truth is that most people and/or families do not need to buy a new car.
Here are a few suggestions that I have found helpful over the years of purchasing a “new” car, remembering that any car that I did not own before is “new to me”.
- If you absolutely have to buy really new, finance it through your parents or another financially secure, but not greedy relative. Make the monthly payments doable, keep a written record of the transaction and the payments. Agree to pay interest on the loan, as well as the amount of interest. Agree on the length of the loan. Stick to your part of the agreement.
- Buy “almost new”. Go to a reputable dealer. Ask to see their demonstration models, over stocked items, and/or last year’s model. They will be thousands of dollars cheaper than the latest models. And, many times they will have added “extras” that you had not thought possible.
- If you have a choice, skip the extras that you can live without. Remember, you will be paying added interest on each added extra for many years to come.
- If you know how to make your own repairs on vehicles, never buy new. Look under the hood, under the car, kick the tires, read the odometer, etc. of a used car, then make an offer that you know that you can live with. Again, watch the financing.
- If you live in a big city where public transportation is available to get to work, sit down and figure out the cost of a transport pass vs. one year of vehicle financing, insurance, garaging, gas, check-ups, etc. It probably will cost less to take a bus daily and to rent a car occasionally than it will to own a car.
The people who say that the American dream is owning your own home or owning your own car are salespersons, not real dreamers. They fall into the same category as the so-called “reality show” producers. Lots of hype; no relation to reality what so ever.
Accepting the limitations of ones finances and living a happy life within them is a dream in which any child of God can live with him/herself and with his/her neighbor in peace and justice.