So you’ve had a good run with your shoes and now you’re thinking it’s time to go a little easy on them. While you enjoy riding around with your friends, you’re probably more than a little tired of having to ask them for a lift whenever you want to get somewhere. You’ve saved up enough money and now you’re ready to finally invest in a car. Congratulations! This is going to be one of the biggest and most memorable decisions of your life. And like any other big and memorable decision you make, you want to get it just right.

You might be worried about how to get a nice and affordable car that’s within the reach of your budget. You don’t want to spend too little, however, and end up with a ticking time bomb that’s destined to be a pile of junk in a year or two. The good news is that there are a lot of tips you can use to your advantage. The niche that is car ownership is sufficiently covered that there are lots of nuggets of wisdom for a first time car buyer, even one that’s a student. In this article, I’ll give you 5 of the most relevant. Use them wisely to make your car buying decisions and enjoy your first car.

  1. Take Stock of Your Expectations

Before you start thinking about which car you’ll get for yourself, take stock of just how much money you have. I’m not just talking about the money you’ll use to purchase the car but also the kind of cash flow you’ll have to maintain the car after you buy it.

Try making a budget that covers everything, especially the fixed costs in your life, such as your rent, your phone and internet bill, your food, school books, utilities and the little variable costs that change from one month to the next, such as the amount you spend on groceries.

In case you’re buying the car on a plan, then the money left over after you’ve deducted your necessary expenses is the money you’ll have to cover monthly car payments as well as insurance. It should also cover gas money and regular maintenance of your vehicle. Once you know what amount you have left over after taking care of the necessities you’ll have a good sense of the kind of car that is truly affordable for you.

One thing I can tell you for free is that you shouldn’t buy a brand new car. The minute that car gets out of the showroom it will be worth 40% less than the sticker price. Your best bet is to buy a second hand car. There is much more value to be found there!

  1. Buy A Car That Meets Your Needs

What do you think you’ll use your car for the most? Will you be going on road trips and camping? If so, then maybe you should get an SUV within your price range. If you just want a car to take you to class and back again, then a small sedan should be enough. If you expect to carry lots of cargo, such as canvases or physical models if you’re in film or the arts, then a truck should help there.

  1. Don’t Forget To Consider Your Credit

If you’re buying your car with cold hard cash, then this section isn’t for you. However, if you’re like most people, you’ll be financing the purchase. Basically, auto financing means the dealership gives you a loan for the purchase so that you don’t have to pay the entire price at once. You’ll then pay a certain amount each month to cover the loan.

The terms of that loan will depend on your credit. The higher your credit score, the more favorable the loan terms you get and vice versa. You can check your credit score in places like Credit Karma and others. In case you don’t have a high score, don’t panic. Most young people don’t. They just haven’t taken out enough credit to build that score. In that case, the bank sees you as high risk, though it isn’t through any fault of your own.

In such cases, you need to get you a cosigner to help you secure financing. They can be family or a friend. Remember, their credit will now be on the line so you should ensure to pay it back on time and not betray their trust. On the flip side, paying back on time will also build up your own credit.

  1. Do Your Research

Researching a vehicle to buy isn’t very different than researching a thesis topic. As a guy that runs an essay writing service for college students, I can tell you that the thorough research required for buying a car is very similar to the type required for producing a good essay. You need to find all sorts of sources of information – verified ones, of course, and gather all the information you need to make a good decision.

The fact that you can easily buy a car online makes things both better and worse. Better because of the convenience and worse because of the increased number of traps to avoid.

Take your time and research different aspects of the cars you are thinking of purchasing, such as their miles per gallon, the cost of insurance, possible recalls of a particular model, resale value, and so on.

  1. Have Fun!

You’re making a huge step towards being more independent. You have acquired a way to build your credit, be more mobile, have fun, and see more places. As long as you recognize a car for the responsibility and investment it is, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have fun with it!

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