Over here, we’re all about putting your money to work. Whatever your financial goals may be—paying off student loans, saving for your first house, financing a wedding, or planning for retirement—one thing is certain: you’re not going to get there by just sitting around.
Let’s pause on that idea for a moment. Sure, there are some online side gigs you can pick up to make money from the comfort of your home without even stepping foot out the door… but unless you think earning pennies and an occasional $5 gift card for completing endless online surveys will get the job done, chances are that you’re going to have to get up and work for your keep.
The challenge? Well, that can be a bit hard to do without a car. Relying on public transportation might be cost-effective, but it’s the furthest thing from convenience. A bicycle can be a great way to cut down on commuting costs, stay in shape while avoiding a bill for a gym membership, and save the environment while you’re at it. But if you’ve got a money-making opportunity further than a comfortable 10-mile cycle, you’re going to need another way to get there.
Car-Buying: Boom or Bust?
Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to set yourself up with a new pair of wheels. Nothing says that you need to scope the new car inventory at the flashiest lot downtown—although you can, if you’ve been diligent at saving money and can comfortably fit a brand-new vehicle within your budget.
But even if you can afford that new-car smell of fresh leather, we’d encourage you to be a bit more practical by saving money on your car purchase—then re-investing those funds into an account that can actually do something for you, not just look good on the streets as it gets you from Point A to Point B.
Here’s why you a car is worth buying secondhand—and how you can save even more when purchasing one—including how to make money back right away so you can offset the money spent and get your bank account back into the well-cushioned black.
Smart Spending: 101
Sometimes in life, there are big purchases that warrant their price tag. An engraved commencement watch, high-quality prescription glasses, and a diamond engagement ring are all examples of adrenaline-inducing transactions that we totally condone—even though, if you’re a frugal saver, it might feel like a small stab to the heart.
A brand-new car is not one of them. The chief reason why you should avoid shopping the latest makes and models is that cars depreciate incredibly fast; its value will drop thousands of dollars from the time you drive off the lot and pull up to the first stoplight.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford a 2020 vehicle in outright cash, which means you’ll have to finance it over time and pay additional interest on the ticket price. Plus, recalls are common in the car industry, so you might be better off going with a safe vehicle that you know has been thoroughly vetted over that new transmission system in the latest release that turns out to be a major safety hazard. Ultimately, a defect like that could cost more than money—it could cost your life.
Saving on Car Shopping
Here are some tips on how to get the most value out of the money you put down:
Buy a used car whose value has depreciated into an affordable price range.
Come to the table with examples of comparable transactions to show the seller what’s fair and reasonable.
Save up as much as possible for a down payment to minimize interest accrued.