You may not know this, but car ownership costs are the second largest household expense in the U.S.. 17% of take-home income. The average family spends almost as much money on cars every year as they do on food and health care combined!
The good news is that cars aren’t just a huge expense. For most people they can be one heck of an opportunity for saving.
There are so many opportunities to save or lose money here, so many tricks they try to play on you, I can’t tell you. Fortunately, I’ve learned all kinds of things to do and not to do over the last 55 years of car buying and especially thanks to the advice of a smart and very knowledgeable insider.. a nationally known expert named Remar Sutton. And if you google Remar Sutton’s name, well game over.. because he da man.
So what did I learn? That buying cars smart is just not that hard a thing to do, and that can it save you somewhere between $1,000-3,000 a year, depending on what price range you‘re buying in. Multiply this over the years and you’re talking one heck of a lot of money.
How much money? $1,000-3,000 a year invested at say a 6% return is 40 to 120 thousand dollars in 20 years! Think of what that kind of money alone can do for you. Pretty amazing, isn’t it. But to get that money, your money, there are quite a few things you need to be aware of.
Pricing.. We’re told that for a new car, sticker price is meaningless. That what matters is invoice price, which is what the dealer paid for it. But surprise, surprise the invoice price is not what the dealers pay. They also get what’s called dealer holdback from the manufacturer on every vehicle they sell. The holdback is usually about another 3% of the sticker price.
Where to buy a used car.. Most people would say it’s best to buy from a private seller, but a lot of the time you’re likely to do better if you don’t. Not unless you know the seller personally. If you do, great.
If you don’t, you can always go on-line and buy someone’s car that they’re selling, but you better be really careful, because you may have just entered the Lion’s den.
An awful lot of the used cars being sold on-line by quote-unquote the owner are not being sold by owners. They’re being sold by professionals, people selling maybe a car or two a week.
Far too much of the time they know how to fool you on the condition of the car. Far too often they’ve rolled back the mileage. Far too often it’s a car they bought on the cheap, and for good reason, and are now selling it to you at a quote-unquote fair price.. fair if it wasn’t a problem car.
So yes, you can go online and take your chances on a private sale but for most people I think there might be a better way to go. Buying your car from a new car dealer.
So why a new car dealer? It’s the new car dealers that are the ones getting most of trade-ins and the lease backs. And so what do they do? They usually keep the good ones, the ones that are in really good condition, and wholesale out the others to the used car auctions. So they probably just picked you a good car.
And they also usually use the down-time in their service department to check everything, fix whatever needs fixing, which reduces the odds you’ll end up with a problem.
Now don’t misunderstand me. The world of the car dealer is a very tricky place, to say the least. Car salesmen are often genuinely very pleasant people but you need to be careful, as the world of car buying and selling has, in so many ways, become a game.. a game they play every day.
As to how to win that game, it really isn’t that hard, but to do so there is some key stuff you need to know. And once you do, I think you’ll end up just like me.. smiling all the way to the bank.
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