Today’s post has been a few months in the making; mainly because I didn’t want to write a “What I Learned…” about something I had for a week or a month, I don’t believe it would have been very beneficial so today’s post is all about buying my first car and why I went down the route I did.
My history with cars has been pretty simple. I’ve been on my Grandad’s insurance since I started driving six years ago, I was also on my Dad’s insurance as well as an ex-boyfriend’s and my brother’s, and I have also rented a few cars for a small number of weekends away. I’ve driven probably less than ten cars but they’ve all been so different (as all cars are of course) so I’ve known overtime I can adapt to pretty much any car, not straight away but it doesn’t take too long.
Where I live, it’s not too far from the city centre; you can get there by an eight minute bus or a half hour walk. My (not so new) job means that it’s a six minute drive or a half an hour walk, but I’ve only ever walked to my job once (One of the downfalls of having a car is that it’s harder to walk everywhere when you’re so used to driving) I had a car that I was borrowing for a few months but I knew it wasn’t going to be mine forever and I knew that my job was going to be moving offices, I just didn’t know when. Our new office is accessible by public transport but it was going to be a twenty minute walk to the bus stop and then an additional fifteen minutes bus journey, which I know isn’t bad considering people are sometimes on a bus for hours each day. For me however, I thought a car would be much more beneficial than getting public transport, not just for work but for groceries at the weekend and day trips too. Yes, you could technically say I’m feeding into the emissions in the air, but I try my best when I can when it comes to helping the planet.
(This is my dream car! We rented this one time when we were taking a staycation weekend trip and I absolutely loved driving it.)
I’m not a car person; I didn’t know makes and when someone asked me about a car, I would normally only remember the colour. Not the best attitude to start looking for a car I know, so I had to do some research. Mind you, I didn’t have to do loads because I was looking for a simple car that was going to get me A-to-B but I wanted to make sure that it was going to be a good runner and without the pain of having to get it fixed every few months. I had started searching on websites that had private owners but I came to the decision pretty early on that I wanted to go to an official dealer instead and see what they had to offer.
I didn’t have the money to buy a car outright so that was another big influence in going to a dealer rather than someone private. I had heard of the finance options that were available and I felt a little lost because I didn’t want to get a car on finance originally but knowing my financial income and wanting a car, this was the only route to go down. Turns out it’s not as bad as I had thought; at first I thought it was a complete waste of money and in the end you wouldn’t own the car but you actually can do this, depending on what finance option you go for.
(This is Penelope, isn’t she a cutie!)
I’ve now had my car for around three months (at the time of writing this post) and I thought I would give you my advice on what to look for and what to do when you’re buying your first car.
Look at what finance options are available to you.
Finance can be a mind-field if you let it be, and because it is an investment, it’s important to know what your options are. There is PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) or HP (Higher Purchase) both have their advantages and their disadvantages but I personally went with HP. It’s over five years and because it’s longer, the repayments are less. There is also the option of getting a loan, whether that’s from the Credit Union (if you’re part of one) or from your Bank; they tend to have good interest rates especially if you’re already a customer. I found this really good article by the Money Advice Services on the different types of payment options for a car (https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/car-finance-explained) so if you’re looking for a more in-depth look on the options available, I’d recommend that.
Know what type of car you would like and what you’re using it for.
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted a simple car that I could use to drive myself to work, take to the shops for the weekly shop and to go out on road trips. I wasn’t going to be using it to bring furniture one place to another so I didn’t mind it was a smaller car. I didn’t need a huge boot and a small boot would encourage me not to pack it so much. The bigger the car, normally the bigger the price so I knew if I didn’t need a big car, I wouldn’t get a big car.
Set a budget and stick to it.
I fell in love with the Nissan Juke when I rented it and that is my dream car, but it just wasn’t in my budget. Scott and I had discussed buying the car together and splitting the repayments, and while he wasn’t going to drive it, he still wanted to pay towards it. This meant that I wasn’t doing it on my own but we still looked at a price that would let us both live comfortably and being able to pay petrol and anything else that may be needed towards it. You also have to look at the price in terms of the extras that you may or may not want to pay. I got extras which I do regret some of them now, I don’t believe I need them that much and I could go without them but that’s a lesson for my next car.
Ask someone who knows the right questions to ask.
As someone who doesn’t know anything about cars, I asked my Grandad and Scott’s Dad about cars because they are much more knowledgeable than me and they were both really helpful. I think it’s important to ask for help especially when you’re making such a huge commitment as to buying your first car (or buying a car in general). It’s a massive payment and it’s a long term investment which should be taken seriously, so asking those questions no matter if you think they are silly, is still important.
Experience the cars in real-life.
Photographs are great sure, but having a look around the car, seeing what it’s like inside is something that you can’t experience online. I think it’s fantastic being able to see a wide range of cars online but if you can narrow down your choice then make a few appointments to go and see a few cars to see if you really like them. Will you be comfortable driving it? What is the exterior like? Is it bigger or smaller in real life than you had imagined? You’re under no obligation to buy a car when you’re just looking but it can really help if you even take it for a test drive. You might like the overall look of the car but maybe not how it drives, so it’s important that you’re not just going by picture alone.
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Thank you for reading today’s post! I hope that could be helpful to at least one person and if you have any similar posts you’d like to share; please leave them down below in the comments, over on my Twitter or my Instagram.