The great debate: to buy new or to buy used? There’s something so appealing about that new car smell, the sensation of breaking in the seat and wearing down the steering wheel to the contour of your own preferences, taking ownership in your proudly-purchased set of wheels… it’s so appealing, in fact, that it almost blinds us entirely to the huge money lost when shopping directly off the lot—or rather, the money lost the moment you drive it off the lot.
As soon as your car earns its “Sold” status, it immediately loses the value you purchased it for. Sure, new cars might be tempting and all, but is that really how you want to flex your consumer purchasing power?
Let’s take a look at a few caveats that make shopping used worth your consideration.
Do you enjoy high monthly bills?
No one could possibly say yes to this question! There’s nothing more draining to your budget than when your payment due date starts to creep up. In order to prepare for the big hit, you politely decline your friends’ invitations to go out but end up recoiling from all the internal FOMO you’re experiencing while streaming episodes on Netflix alone.
The last thing you want is for your new, fancy car to interfere with your lifestyle. Trust us, when you’re sitting at home budgeting for your expensive car payment, you’ll have trouble reasoning why the purchase was worth it.
Do you enjoy bargain hunting?
Maybe to you, the sound of a new, luxury vehicle is worth tightening your budget up a bit—and hey, that’s totally fine. But if you’re the type of person who likes to save money, why not save money by hunting down a killer deal on a used vehicle?
Turn it into somewhat of a scavenger hunt! Dig around, compare options, weigh what features matter most to you—you’ll be surprised by the way that, after just practicing this exercise for a while, suddenly a full-price sticker sounds mouth-dropping.
Prices can vary immensely between counties and cities. For example, if you were considering a used Volkswagen for sale near the Mall of Georgia, don’t make any purchasing decisions until seeing what the Atlanta metropolis has to offer. Inventory availability is typically what sets the pricing strategy, and although one lot may be low, another can have options available in every color.
Do you really trust your cosigner?
If the set of wheels you have your eye on is out of your price range, then you’ll probably need a cosigner for your lease agreement. Cosigners can help you close the deal when credit is weak or income is low, but there are some things you should know about cosigners before you sign a contract.
Things can go sideways, friendships can go awry, and trust can be lost—all of which is problematic when you’re sharing financial responsibility with that person.
Do you like fuzzy puppies?
Just kidding. These dogs are not fuzzy by any means. We’re talking about the junkyard pups that patrol the edges of the metal fence, guarding your (potentially) soon-to-be-repossessed car for auction.
While that stereotype might be out of a movie, car repossession is a very real thing. If you fall behind on your payments, budget a little thin, and get left in the wind by your cosigner, it’s very possible that your lender will eventually order your car to be repossessed once enough time of missed payments has passed.
It’s totally possible to bounce back from repossession, but I can tell you first hand that it’s not a situation you want to put yourself in, if at all avoidable. Your credit score will tank, interest rates on loans will spike, and you’ll need to explore your options for refinancing.
If you think a new car is by any means a stretch to afford, don’t do it! There are plenty of gently-owned, like-new vehicles out there at a fraction of the cost. It’ll still get you from point A to point B, and you’ll be just as happy—perhaps happier, even, with the stress of financial burden free from your mind.