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Is Reliability, Price or Features Most Important When Buying a Car?

What do you look for when buying a car? The reason I ask is that we are on the verge of doing just that. Our two-year lease experiment with an electric car is coming to an end. We will not be renewing the lease and are looking at buying a car sometime in the next month.

buying a carWe have been tossing several models back and forth and have made a trip to our local Carmax to check them out. All we know at this point is that we won’t be buying a brand new car, won’t be buying a black car (have one already) and won’t be buying another Suburban (that’s the one we have already).

But we are open to most anything else, provided it fits our family needs. And that is where the big question lies when it comes to buying a car? What is our biggest need?

Do we need to worry about price? Do we need to focus on the new car features? What about reliability? Can we handle a car that might need a few repairs along the way?

Best case scenario is that we find a vehicle where we are satisfied in all those categories. To me though, one of these stands out above the rest. It’s the first thing I’ll look at as we work through buying a car.

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When to Avoid Zero Percent Financing Offers On Cars

At some point we’ve all run across an advertisement on TV from a car dealer pitching some form of incentive. Manufacturer incentives are special offers designed to entice you to buy a car. Overall they have been found to be very effective in drawing consumers to car lots.

zero percent financingThese deals usually come in the form of rebates (cash back) or a low annual percentage rate (APR). The APR is the amount of interest on the loan that you will pay during the year. Of course lowering the interest rate reduces your monthly payment. The lowest APR a manufacturer could offer would be zero percent, which means you pay no interest on the car loan.

Zero percent financing on a car sounds like too good a deal to ignore. Who should pass up free money, right? However, you may want to think twice before signing on the dotted line. There are several reasons these deals could be bad for the consumer.

The Story on Zero Percent Financing

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Selling My Soul to the Devil: Why I’m Leasing a Car

Never in my wildest dreams had it crossed my mind that I’d be leasing a car. Generally speaking, leases are a bad idea and one of the worst financial products a consumer could take on. It’s almost impossible to negotiate a deal that doesn’t favor the dealer in some way. You are basically renting a car for the length of the lease and have nothing to show for it when the lease is up.

leasing a carSo no one was more surprised than I when two weeks ago I signed a two-year lease on a car. I felt a bit dirty doing it, like I was committing the cardinal financial sin and selling my soul away. So I’m writing today to explain my actions given the terrible track record leases have for the consumer.

This deal happened only because my wife and I will come close to breaking even on the lease over those two years. I’ll be driving a new car almost for free.

The Unique Circumstances That Have Me Leasing a Car

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It Is Not a Sin to Buy a New Car

buy a new carIs it ever OK to buy a new car? You won’t find many people advocating that practice. Rather it’s viewed as the cardinal personal financial sin. Anyone considering buying a new car instead of a used one runs the risk of being called a foolish, image conscious over spender.

That’s a tough rap. I don’t want to be lumped into that crowd. But c’mon…is it really that big a deal to buy a new car?

I’ll answer my own question by saying “It depends.”

Buy a New Car: Want vs. Need

I don’t believe anyone can justifiably say they need a new car. There will always be a used alternative to satisfy any life scenario. Even a family of twelve can find a used passenger van on the market.

Clearly a new car is a want and I’m perfectly fine with that. People should not be condemned for wanting something new. My wife and I just purchased our first completely matching bedroom suite this past week after 18 years of marriage. We’ve wanted a new one for a really long time but kid priorities and other financial matters have always taken precedence.

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