How to Buy a Car Without Going Broke

car dealer selling new car to young family with child girl

Instead of negotiating with the dealer based on monthly costs, strike a bargain on the entire price. Negotiating based on how much you’ll be paying each month is a sneaky way for a car salesperson to inflate the costs without you noticing. Another approach is to reach an agreement on separate costs of the car, such as the interest rate, the trade-in value, and any add-ons.

Buy your car at the end of the month

Waiting until the end of the month to buy your car may help you get a better deal. That’s because dealerships are trying to meet their quota during the last few days of the month, so are more likely to lower the price. You might even be able to get a better deal if you wait until the end of each quarter (i.e., end of March, June) or during the holidays.

Get a pre-approved loan through your bank or credit union

Although you might be considering getting a loan through the dealership, get a preapproved loan through your bank or credit union. By doing this you’ll also get a credit check and find out what your credit score is. If you’re a member of a credit union, check out what is available through your local branch’s auto lending services. Sitting down with a branch representative will help you figure out what your loan options are. Your local credit union may also offer member discounts on auto insurance.

Test drive the car on your own time

It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of new car ownership when test driving a car on the sales lot. If possible, try renting out the same model for a week and drive it around as you go about your daily routine. This will help you figure out if the car is a good fit for your needs and lifestyle while taking off the pressure of having to make a snap decision. If you’ve got your eye on a newer model and can’t rent it for a week, test drive the car on the lot a second time.

Car shopping can be overwhelming, but by doing your research and keeping these tips in mind, you’ll find a great car that works with your needs and budget.

Editor’s Note: This post previously published on January 26, 2016.