Being Smart About Buying a New or Used Car


So, I turned in my cute leased vehicle, that I barely drove over the past three years, because I got used to the ease of taking a Lyft or Uber to auditions and meetings.  My monthly payment that I was throwing at this car was literally going to waste because, in essence, a lease is a contractual rental that eventually comes due and you either turn in the leased vehicle for a new leased vehicle or pay the difference left on the vehicle to own that car.  I didn’t own it and I wasn’t using it. I barely drove it 5,000 miles per year. 

For me, the difference on that lease to own the vehicle was the price of a new car, so I knew that it would be silly to do that. Upon turning in my lease, I was immediately pressured by the dealership to get into another leased vehicle.  By the end of the day, they almost had me signing papers on a car I didn’t want nor liked.  Persuasive little buggers, claiming to have given me an “amazing deal” on a car that THEY actually needed to get rid of. I left the dealership that day deciding that I needed to figure out what I really wanted. Ironically, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to purchase a specific coupe that has been discontinued by the brand.  I used to own this car five years ago and they stopped making the type in 2015. It was an adorable little two-door turbo coupe that I loved but now has outdated technology.  I searched for this car every day online via carmax.com, truecars.com and dealer websites, as they are very difficult to find now. I found one in Texas, one in North Carolina and one in Irvine, California, which was the closest to me.  

I knew I had to have this car. It was listed as $15,995 plus fees in California. I got pre-approved for a car loan from my credit union for $18,000, as I was told that amount would cover it by the dealer.  I was ready to take that money to the dealership and buy that little car.  Here is where the story turns bad and I wish I had researched more. Eventually, this will all turn out good, once I tell you about what I am doing now to calculate the price and payment of future cars, so just hang tight.  

So, I went to the dealership, only to find out that the little cute coupe that I so wanted had not only had outdated technology but also no warranty. I would have to purchase an extended warranty package, which with taxes and fees on the price of the car would now bring the car purchase amount to $26,000.

I literally was looking for a car I loved but one that was inexpensive so I didn’t ask for much money. My credit union had already approved the $18,000, but another new situation that arose was that they would only finance 80% of the Blue Book value of the car because it was an older model!  This meant that my loan was actually only going to finance $14,000 and the rest of the remaining purchase price of $26,000 would have to be my own cash. That means I would have to lay down $12,000 in cash to get a used 2015 car with limited technology and still have loan payments.  I wanted that car, but seriously, not that much. Immediately, when I said I needed more time to think on this and figure out what I wanted, the dealership had sent me pressuring messages every day to purchase this vehicle, slowly dropping the price only a few hundred dollars.  This tactic may work on some with a weaker resolve, but not me. I am a researcher and I really had thought I had planned this car purchase out well and I never would have thought I was being offered a car with no dealer warranty in place when we had our initial talks about the $15,995 price. I was wrong.  I did not look into things enough and being that we are in the middle of a pandemic and rideshares are not exactly ideal, a car purchase has been on my mind and it needs to be done right.

So, now, I am writing this blog to help others. Upon looking online for a finance app or website to plan for car purchases, I came across this site called Pigly.com.  The website hosts a bunch of easy access info about all things related to saving and spending. There is a special auto section (https://pigly.com/auto/).  I sort of wish I had this breakdown in simple terms fed to me before all this hoopla and especially when I was in college. Other sites may lean toward this knowledge but they do not give it in as clear terms as Pigly does.  The site is free, so why not! You can simply use this as your own calculator. It doesn’t save any of your info or ask for any personal information and it is ad free. It is just simply a handy tool. I did a similar blog about this on cooking measurementsthat are on another useful site. Free tools! 

Now, I am using this site to help me figure out the money situation for every vehicle I am interested in, no matter whether I am purchasing new, used or leasing. It has helped me break things down realistically, so I don’t get caught in the above situation again with any dealer. I also know now to not get so excited and ask about the warranty upfront if it is not listed. 

There are so many things on this particular site that I want to paste and copy here because it is so informative but if you click any of the pictures or highlighted links it will take you there to get more info. It has more than just auto info. It offers a ton of any finance advice you may need. 

An example breakdown from Pigly:

Other sites you should always check out when you are in the market for a new, used or leased vehicle:

Forbes Cars & Bikes

Marketwatch Autos


CFPB Auto Loan Info 

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