One of the rites of passage into adulthood is buying your first car. Whether you’re in your teens or fully into your adult years, getting your first vehicle is a huge step into independence. Like any other big ‘first,’ this one has certain pitfalls that you’ll want to avoid. By following the following steps, you can make buying a vehicle as stress-free as possible.
Saving For The Initial Purchase
The first step to buying your first car is saving for the initial purchase. There are multiple levels to buying a car, and multiple different things you’ll be spending your money on, but the main and most expensive item is the vehicle itself. Whether you’re getting a beater or a car from the dealership, most of your budget will go toward buying the actual car. If you worry about having enough funds, taking an auto loan may be your solution. These loans will help you afford a car even if you don’t have the money in-hand, allowing you to get the transportation you need.
Along similar lines, you’ll want to create a budget that helps you save for the initial purchase. If you can, cut out unnecessary expenses that are taking some of your extra funds. Things like fast food and entertainment costs are often fairly expendable categories; if you can reduce those and divert the money into savings, you can meet your financial goals faster. Budgeting isn’t always enjoyable, but by making simple swaps like a generic brand over name brand, you can save yourself hundreds and even thousands of dollars yearly, allowing you to put those funds toward your car.
Planning For Additional Expenses
The second step to buying your first car is planning for additional expenses. The money doesn’t stop once you have the title in your name. Cars are an expensive investment, even once they’re fully yours. The first expense you’ll need to tackle once you own the vehicle is getting it properly plated. It’s vital to make sure the plates are current and legal, with proper tags and licensing attached. Driving an illegal vehicle is not a great way to start your journey into adulthood. Expect around $100 for the licensing process, and plan accordingly.
For longer-term costs, gas and maintenance bills will always be there as long as you have a vehicle. These two spending categories are unpleasant but unavoidable. While gas prices are climbing, there’s unfortunately no way to get around them without an electric vehicle. By planning for gas costs in your budget, you can stay financially healthy before you purchase your car. Additionally, keep maintenance costs in mind. No one expects their car to break down, but it always happens when you least expect it. Have an emergency fund for things like spare tires and windshield replacements, and your bank account will thank you.
Getting All Your Paperwork
The third step to buying your first car is getting all your necessary paperwork together. Like anything involving a legal process, it seems like there are a million and one things to put together when you get a car. Two of the first things you need to square away are your insurance policy and registration. It is illegal to drive without insurance, so make sure you have some sort of policy, even if it’s just a base-level one. When it comes to registration, you should have the car listed in your name, rather than the previous owner’s. If they don’t sign it over to you at the time of purchase, make sure you get that amended before you drive.
Finally, it’s time to get your car inspected. Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to do a yearly emissions inspection to ensure your car isn’t overly damaging to the environment. If your state requires it, make sure your tags are updated before you start driving. Many mechanics are also licensed inspectors, so don’t be afraid to shop around.
Overall, buying your first car is a great experience for every young adult. With these steps, you can make it as painless as possible for you and your wallet.