It's fair to say that we've all found ourselves fantasy car shopping on the internet at some point, fiddling with new car configurators or scoffing at the example finance figures for the latest and greatest dream cars. However, for most of us, we need to set an affordable budget and stick to it. But how do you balance your greatest desires in a car, with the realities of your finances? Let's have a look at some tips on getting the best bang for your buck.
Setting a budget
Before even choosing a shortlist of potential family cars, your first step is to review your finances and see how much you can afford. This could be to pay for your car out of your savings, to set a budget for a monthly finance payment, or a combination of both. Consider how much you could comfortably afford without stretching yourself, and plan ahead for factors such as job changes, children or house moves which might stretch your budget or cut into your savings in the near future.
Think about what your current car might be worth, because this could give you a much-needed boost to your budget, by using a part-exchange service. We have a handy valuation widget on our website homepage, or you're welcome to pop in with your car and we can value it for you.
Consider all costs
The true cost of car ownership is far more than the showroom price tag. You need to pay for car tax, insurance, MOTs, fuel, servicing, tyres, and all manner of other bills such as unexpected windscreen repairs. It's important to look at all of the likely costs and factor these into your budget, because there's nothing worse than blowing all your budget on your family car then breaking into a cold sweat every time it needs a service. Websites such as Parkers and What Car are a fantastic source of facts and figures such as running costs, fuel economy, insurance groups and car tax bands, and will also give you an indication of reliability and the cost of ownership. Not only this, but at Thame Cars we offer bespoke service plans to help you budget for maintenance. For one monthly payment you can cover the cost of servicing and MOTS, giving you peace of mind when it comes to service time. Click here for more details.
If you're using car finance to purchase your new family car, it's important to understand the different types of finance available. Hire Purchase, known as HP, is where you pay an equal payment each month and you own the car at the end. Personal Contract Purchase, or PCP, often costs less per month than HP because a chunk of the cost is left to the end as a final payment, meaning you could potentially afford a more expensive car or a shorter finance term. The sting in the tail with a PCP is you will have to do something at the end to deal with the final payment, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
With your monthly budget in mind it's time to go shopping for your new family car. It is well worth visiting a number of dealers and obtaining quotes on both new and used cars, because you may find that some dealers will be offering special finance offers on either new or used cars. There are a number of new cars available on low or even 0% finance, meaning more of your money goes towards the car, and less on interest. You can also find used car special events with low finance rates. A finance quote will be specific to the car you're interested in, and will consider the age and mileage, what it will be worth at the end of the term, and how many miles you're likely to drive. We have a team of finance experts on hand to provide tailored quotes on our selection of perfect nearly new cars, to ensure you can find something within your budget. Visit our Finance page here for more details of our services and ensure your peace of mind.
With your perfect car in your sights, there are some more things to think about. If you drive a fairly high mileage then it might be worth considering a diesel model over a petrol one, or if you're only going to do short journeys round town then how about a hybrid or fully electric car? These are important to factor into your budgeting, because at present diesel costs more per litre than petrol, but diesel cars are still slightly more economical for high mileage drivers. Diesel and electric cars are also slightly more expensive than petrol equivalents. You also need to consider the cost of insurance, especially if you're going to add family members or children on to your policy. There's no point buying the high-performance model if it will cost you a fortune to add the kids on! Also think about service intervals, and the cost of servicing.
As always, if we can be of any help in your new family car purchase here at Thame Cars, our door is always open to you.