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That Sweet Ride

There’s more to buying a car than thinking you can afford the monthly car payment. Make sure you understand exactly what you are getting yourself into.

Assess your needs

We all want a sweet ride and it’s easy to talk ourselves into buying more car/truck than we really need. (But I DESERVE it.) Remember to factor in the other expenses like the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. You’ll have to estimate some of these costs but your goal should be to limit everything combined to no more 10% of your gross pay.

Consider your personal situation

A lot of changes will likely happen in the next few years. Will you be PCSing or deploying anytime soon? Will your household income be decreasing? Will monthly expenses be increasing? The car you can afford right now may not be a car you can afford in the future. And since vehicle values tend to drop like a rock right after you buy, you could easily owe more than your new baby is worth.

Things to think about

  • New Vehicle purchase — Lower vehicle loan rates, latest safety features, new technology, new warranty, less maintenance.
  • Used Vehicle purchase — Better buy, less depreciation; lower expenses on registration, licensing fees, and insurance premiums.
  • Vehicle Price — Rebates, discounts, option package discounts, trade-ins, available financing.
  • Affordability — Monthly payments, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs, taxes, registration, license fees.
  • Resale Value — Automatic transmission, air conditioning, leather upholstery, antitheft system, safety features, and other accessories.
  • Gas Mileage — EPA estimates, engine size, transmission, air conditioning, load capacity, road conditions, driving habits, advantages and disadvantages of hybrids.
  • Safety — Crashworthiness, safety ratings, safety features.