Recently, my sister called me to ask for some financial advice while car shopping. I suggested that she keep in mind the big picture of her life. It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new gadgets on a new car and to think you need them or that upgrading a bit won’t make much difference.
However, if you step back to remember what it is you are working towards, that can help you evaluate your financial priorities and clarify your decision-making. It may be important to you to drive a new energy efficient car, or maybe you’re working toward early retirement. Perhaps you have kids or parents you want to provide for.
During the car buying process, it’s easy to get sucked in and forget those priorities. Suddenly you might find yourself thinking, “I deserve this fancy ride.” Sometimes salespeople attempt to entice you by spreading out payments over just one more year. All kinds of trickery and tomfoolery can be found at car dealerships!
Your goal is to avoid that, and focus in on your needs and financial priorities. You do not want to be that person who is excited about their new car for the first 6 months– that is, until you realize you don’t have funds for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. My sister realized her most important goals are to fund retirement and to keep her work schedule flexible. Keeping those life goals in mind helped her reach a decision she felt good about. Maintaining a sense of financial clarity goes a long way while car shopping!