Financial Friday: Need a new car? Try this first

When it comes to adding a new car to your life, it can feel like a trip through a financial minefield. 
Should you buy? Or should you lease? Pay in cash? Or finance the vehicle? And don’t forget the fine print because in the car industry, the devil is always in the fine print. 

Fortunately for you, FOX 46 is partnering with LeeAnn Shattuck, better known as The Car Chick to help get you results. She’s ready to walk you through the process and make sure you feel comfortable and confident that you’re getting the best deal for the car best suited for your lifestyle. 

DO YOUR HOMEWORK: before you set foot onto any car dealership’s lot, crunch the numbers. There are a lot of things to consider. Shattuck says the first question you have to ask is, “How many miles do I drive a year?” Calculate how many miles you drive to work and back, the school run, how often you take out of town trips, your job and the miles you may have to drive for work, along with any other regular activities in your life. Total up the mileage to get the best picture of what you really need. The more miles you drive, the less likely you should lease a car. Maybe consider getting a car that’s more efficient when it comes to gas. 

THE RULE OF THE ROAD: make sure the car is paid off BEFORE you hit 100K miles. 
Shattuck says a good guideline is: the more miles you drive, the shorter your loan term should be. Don’t get caught up in the math games car salespeople play. They may come up with a payment that seems to fit into your budget, until you realize you’ll be paying for that car for the next 5 years. 

CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE: Now it’s time to determine how you’re going to pay for your new vehicle. Cash is king, of course, but not many people have $20 to $30K just sitting in their bank accounts. Most people will have to finance their new cars. Again, decide how much you have to put down on the sale to keep your monthly payment lower and focus on getting the shortest loan terms possible to pay it off quickly. 

BUYING VERSUS LEASING: This question, says Shattuck, is not a financial one, it’s a lifestyle one. Leasing only makes sense if you fit the following factors: 
•    You drive very few miles a year, well below the leasing terms of 12K or more
•    You prefer brand new cars with all the bells and whistles
•    You are ready to pay your monthly amount no matter what happens in your life

If you don’t fit those factors, it’s better to buy. Don’t be seduced by the option of a low monthly payment, because more likely than not it comes with a very long lease, 72 months or more. And you don’t own the car at the end of it! 

If you’re still anxious about the road to getting a new vehicle, Shattuck is happy to help you get results! Just head over to my Facebook page at Diana Alvear FOX 46 and you’ll see her tagged in the post.