Beware of Creeps Bearing Gifts
OHHH, THOSE CAR DEALERS and their tv ads! They don't tell folks much more than the low monthly payments they can offer. What they're NOT telling them is that... in order to get the payment down that low... It will mean paying that payment for ridiculously long terms... 60, 72, even 84 months. Remember... After about 30-36 months... you are starting to owe more than the car is worth. After all, while you're paying the payments over that time... the car is continuing to depreciate. It's very much like the home mortgages situation. People lost their homes because they were enticed into taking on mortgages that were inevitably going to become more than they could handle or at the very least... they were going to find themselves in a similar situation where the unpaid balance would become much more than the actual value of the home.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T DO THE "BUY HERE - PAY HERE" THING!
Look... I know... when you need a car... you need a car. You need to get to work, take your kids to school, etc., etc. And, you need a car that is going to be dependable and not be an additionally huge expense over the time you own it. But, having said all that... you must shop around and get a reasonably affordable car that you can trust will likely be little or no problem over the few years you will own it and a dealer who is willing to work with you on terms. Striking that balance between a payment you can afford and over a period of time that is reasonable is your best objective. It's a delicate balance. Thirty months can be a too short if you're looking for a low monthly payment... 36 months may still be a problem... but, if you can afford a payment based on a 48 month term, that would be best. Do whatever you can to NOT go over that length of time. Whatever you do... do NOT do the "Buy Here, Pay Here" thing! You'll end up paying about 4 or 5 times what the car is worth. And, don't forget... fight for every cent for your trade-in and negotiate that price on the car you're buying, down... way down. Keep in mind... this economy has made the car dealers pretty desperate. Hey! Go ahead and take advantage of them. It's Your Turn!