Are you driving around an old clunker because you simply can’t bear the thought of new car shopping? You’re probably not alone. Shopping for a family car can cause a bundle of stress that most of us don’t need in our lives right now. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sure, it’s an important decision that will affect the entire family. And yes, it’s among the most expensive purchases most of us will make in our lifetimes. But there’s also an element of fun to car shopping. So, let’s focus on that as we explore tips to make the stressful parts easier.
1. Talk About Family Planning
If there’s a chance you may not be done having kids, now is an excellent time for that discussion. Chances are, you’ll want this car to last for at least five years, so it’ll be helpful to know how many car seats it will need to hold.
Your family plans may include other things too, like going on more road trips or getting a Great Dane. Since you won’t be the only one using this car, talk about these goals before you go car shopping. When you enter the dealership with a clear direction, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.
2. Set a Long-term Budget
We’re so used to setting monthly budgets that it’s easy to start thinking this way about your car purchase. But don’t get reeled into this enticing yet altogether terrible decision. When you set a monthly budget for your family car purchase, you leave a lot of wiggle room for creative financing that will leave you overextended. You might be able to afford those monthly payments now, but what if you struggle in the coming months. Creative financing options like longer terms seem like a good idea at the time, but they can leave you “upside down” on your car for a long time.
Instead, look the least expensive family car that meets all your needs, and maybe some of your wants. To fight depreciation, you may want to consider a 2-year old vehicle instead of something brand new. This will help alleviate some of the stress of plummeting resale values.
3. Research Vehicles
Before you step foot in the dealership, you’ll want to research the types of cars you might buy. After your family planning talks, you’ll probably know whether you’ll want a sedan, crossover, wagon or SUV. Now is the time to narrow down the make and model that best suits your needs.
Hit the internet to find family cars that meet your needs. You may search for “most reliable family cars,” or “family cars with the most legroom.” Give priority to whatever feature is most important to your family, and start researching cars that have high ratings for this feature.
This may take some time, but that’s okay. It is an important decision and should not be rushed. Try to narrow your search to three to five cars that you can see your family in. From there, it’s time to find a car dealership near you for some test driving. Some cars look great on paper but don’t fare as well on a test drive.
By the time you get to the dealership, you should be so sure of what you want in a car that you don’t have to stress about being talked into a bad decision. If it helps, make lists to help you stick to your guns at the dealer. Focus on the car you want and the price you want to pay, and you’ll be driving your perfect family car in no time. And as a bonus, you probably won’t have to do this again for another five years or so.