“Does it have heated seats?”
I’m habitually cold, so for me, heated seats in the car I’m interested in purchasing is like – well, I get really, really excited about them.
Shortly after I started my first job out of college as a Public Information Specialist for a small state agency in North Dakota, I decided it’s time for me to become a grown up and get a loan so I could purchase my first big ticket item: a car.
Mable the Sable had been my college car, and had endured countless trips from Bismarck, ND, where I was attending college, to Minneapolis, where my family lives, which resulted in nearly 200,000 miles logged on the odometer and wear-and-tear on parts resulting in them needing to be replaced.
So no, I didn’t decide to buy a new car because I wanted one, I made the decision because I wanted a more reliable vehicle while I made long treks on I-94.
Over Presidents’ Day weekend in 2011, I joined my mom, who was also in search of a new vehicle for the same reasons I was, at a car dealership in a neighboring suburb. That’s when I saw Milan for the first time. A red-ish, 2007 beauty that had low miles AND heated seats! I figured it was meant to be – I’m a romantic like that – so I crunched some numbers:
Sticker price is the purchase price as determined by the dealership. Sometimes, this number is negotiable, depending on the dealership, so it’s always good to ask if they could lower the price. And in my case, the dealership did lower the price. Score!
Monthly payment - including interest – helped me determine a max amount of what I would spend on a car. Notice I didn’t say, “What I could spend on a car.” Had I approached car-buying with that kind of mindset, I would have probably driven off the lot with a nicer, newer car. But because I wanted to continue saving a certain amount each month, I needed to determine my max amount prior to car-shopping so I would be prepared and make a good decision.
Insurance is another necessary cost of owning a car, and is determined based on your driving record, year and make of car, and more, so you should check with your insurance agent prior to buying the car you want to ensure you can afford it in addition to your monthly payment. I admit, I didn’t do this, which is why I’m sharing it with you. Thankfully, I had purchased below my max amount, so I could easily cover my insurance payment.
Taxes, plates, licensing, tabs are costs you should consider before you purchase a car – our state tax in Minnesota is 6.5%, so you should plan to have cash on hand to cover these costs.
Because I was willing to look at an older model vehicle, I was able to get the heated seats I really wanted while also staying under budget – and Milan and I are safely and comfortably travelling lone distances on our Midwest freeways.
If you are searching for a new car, contact us or stop into a branch to work with a financial expert who can provide you with a preapproved loan amount so you know your budget before you start shopping – as well as estimated monthly payments, interest rate, and term.
Want to keep your car on the road for as long as possible? Click here to check out our Route 66 auto warranty.
Photo: My red-ish Milan.