Friday, February 24, 2012

Post Grad Advice: You Need Your Own Ride to Land Your Own Job

Being a post grad is tough. Whether you have a job or are still searching for one, you need a vehicle to get around. If you don't have reliable transportation, you won't be able to land or keep a job. Yet how do you go about getting a car with a limited income? Coming right out of college, you probably borrowed a car or used your parent's cars. You probably didn't even need a car if you lived on campus. Yet now you're faced with loans and car payments and scary "real world" problems.

Recently, my father gave me a deadline of sorts. I must get a new car by June. It doesn't matter if it is a new, used or leased car, I just have to do it. Even though I've lived in an apartment away from my parents, I've graduated college, I work, this seemed like such a big adult step. A post grad first of sorts. I had been dreading shelling out all that money, doing the research and honestly I had no idea where to start. I didn't know all the steps involved and I didn't even really want to think about it. Now that I've done it, here's what I learned, which any post grad can relate to:

1. Figure out your "must haves". This can be different for everyone. For example, I know many people who work for Chrysler so I wanted to have an American-made car. I wanted a car with better gas mileage because I drive a Jeep and feel like I'm constantly blowing money at the gas station. You may want other things, such as a certain color or heated seats. Decide what options are non-negotiable and which ones you can forget about due to cost.

2. Take a look at your options. First you must decide how much you can realistically spend on car payments each month. You may pay rent or still live at home. Take a look at your income and expenses each month and determine a number you'd be comfortable paying each month for a car. Don't forget about insurance costs, taxes and gas too!

3. Research the differences between buying a new car, buying a used car and leasing a car. Determine the best option for you. For example, if you choose to lease, you can get a new vehicle every two years but you have to be extra careful and keep it very clean and you never own it. A new car versus a used car is obviously wear and tear and cost.

4. Once you decide, go to a dealership or ask around to see if you know anyone selling a car. Try to go to a dealership when they are closed at first to take a look at the vehicles you may be interested in without a salesperson hounding you. Write down a few vehicle numbers and look them up online as well if you are able to find out more information or cost.

5. If you want to buy new or used, visit your bank or credit union to talk about a loan. Sometimes they can tell you how much you would be approved for and at what interest rate before you decide on a specific car. If you've decided what car you want, fill out an auto loan application, most of which you can do online these days. Make sure you set up some insurance before you buy as well. You can get auto insurance quotes on most insurance websites to shop around.

6. Once you're approved for a loan or decide on a lease you can afford, visit your dealership. It is a good idea to bring a parent or family member you trust that has experience buying cars. They can help you haggle a lower price or just give you advice so you don't get screwed over by a pushy salesperson.

7. When you get your car, be proud of yourself that you figured it all out! Take good care of it and pay your monthly payments on time each month to establish good credit as a young adult.

8. Now that you have your own ride, you can feel more comfortable about being an adult and keeping or finding a great job!

What advice do you have for post grads looking to get a new car? Please comment on this post below!

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