6 Tips to Save Money as a Frugal Car Owner
Arm Yourself With Information Your best ammunition when you're car shopping is information. The more you know about the type of car you want and how much you're willing to pay, the stronger your bargaining position.Most of that research can be done from your desk. The auto section of Bankrate.com has calculators and insurance information to help you with different payment scenarios. Consumer Reports offers details on most makes and models, including how much the dealer paid for the car -- a key fact for the consumer.The federal government also has several sites that can help you hone your decision and save money. One website, Fueleconomy.gov, gives you the lowdown on gas guzzlers versus fuel sippers while Safercar.gov has safety ratings, recall alerts, and crash and rollover tests.Print out the research, make a folder and take it with you to the dealerships.The more you know, the more money you'll save. And be sure to get any offers they make in writing.
Set Your Own Schedule
When you're buying a car, don't be lured by slick ads. Set up a shopping schedule that includes visits to several dealerships, and stick to it even if you've found your dream car on the first lot. If you stay true to your schedule, you won't be tempted with an impulse buy. And let the salespeople know you're shopping around.
Schedule your dealer visits during the week rather than on weekends. You want to have the undivided attention of the salesperson when you start to negotiate prices.
Consumer Reports and car-buying sites like Edmunds.com say you can find bargains at the end of the month, when sellers are more anxious to make their quota. But be prepared for more aggressive tactics from salespeople hustling to make their numbers.
You can also shop for cars online, but don't forget about newspaper ads from individual sellers or the "For Sale" sign on the car in your neighbor's driveway.
The first rule of financing a car loan: Don't do it.
A quick spin with Bankrate's interest-rate calculator will show you the thousands of dollars you'll pay in interest.
Steve Economides, co-author of " America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money," says his family always buys used cars, and always pays cash.
"What would you rather have: a shiny new car sitting in the driveway with big monthly payments hanging over your head or being able to sleep at night?" Economides says.
Practice the frugal car buyer's mantra: patience. Start to save money for your next car before you need one.
If you need to finance, know your credit score, research interest rates online and shop around at banks and credit unions for a low-interest car loan before stepping into a dealer showroom. If you go in as a cash buyer or with your own car loan already approved, you can avoid the dealer's finance office. Doing so can shave several thousand dollars off the cost of your car.
Bankrate.com is the Web's leading aggregator of information on financial products including mortgages, credit cards, new and used automobile loans, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Visit Bankrate.com to get the tools and information that can help you make the best financial decisions.