As a mom of four, I’ve driven all the cars: sensible four-door sedan, mini-van with rolling doors on each side so I could get multiple carseats in and out, huge SUV to tote the kids, all their gear, the dogs and the RV, and last, a sportier five-seater sedan. Then last year, when we were faced with the big decision of having to purchase a new car, the husband decided that we would go for it and buy my dream car. It got a few raised eyebrows. “Don’t you still drive kids around?” Yep, but being a mom doesn’t mean we’re stuck driving a vehicle we don’t want.
This is a sponsored post, but the photos and words are my own.
When deciding what kind of vehicle you want to consider, dream big. As a mom, we spend a lot of time on the road, and it’s okay to want to enjoy that time by driving a car you like. Don’t rule out a convertible or a sporty two-door. Even if you’re thinking you need a mini-van, an SUV might give you the same conveniences without adding any price. Your dream car may be reality if you shop right.
Just because a car is less sensible doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less expensive. Sometimes the make itself or the amenities are what cost more, not the style of vehicle, so you may find that fun sedan actually costs less than the mini-van. Do this kind of research before you head out to look at vehicles so you don’t experience sticker shock. Cars.com can help you with all the car purchasing research you need. It helps you find dealers, get estimated car values (for your trade-in or what you may buy) as well as see cars for sale, new or used.
Go to dealerships and test drive the vehicles. Sit in the back seat, or take your biggest kid and have them sit there. Ensure there is adequate space, with room to grow. Two-doors don’t necessarily rule out car seats or boosters, though they may require you to squeeze a bit so check that before you make a decision. If your kids are almost out of car seats of any type, it may be worth the squeeze for that period of time. If you keep your cars beyond when they’re paid off, you’ll want to still enjoy your vehicle all those years later rather than regretting buying whatever you needed just for those couple of years.
You don’t have to buy new. Buying a used car can shave off a significant amount of money without sacrificing the ‘new’ feeling or smell. You can find a new vehicle with very low miles that’s practically brand new, meaning you can buy that dream model for the same price, or less, than the brand new sensible car, so be open-minded when you head out to shop. Dream car doesn’t have to mean new car.
Decide on your budget and if you have any wiggle room. If you’re planning on making monthly payments, know your limits, but still be sure you know what you’re paying for the vehicle in the end; add up the interest, taxes, fees, warranty, whatever, so you know the true price of the car. Don’t let a monthly payment be your sole factor because you may be surprised when you look at the real cost. Keep in mind you’ll also be paying insurance on that vehicle, and it will be higher if you have a leinholder.
Increase your down a little if possible. This will lessen your monthly payment or increase your spending power. A couple of thousand can make a big difference. Don’t pinch your savings more than you are comfortable with, but less interest = less overall cost.
Cars.com helped us when we bought my car. I used the site to see if considering my Dodge Challenger was even feasible. Luckily, it was, so I’m driving mine today with a payment we’re comfortable with. I got everything I wanted and I have the space I need for kids in the back seat and football gear in the trunk. The site is valuable to anyone car shopping, since it will help you find your local dealers and cars in your area so your prices are relevant and accurate. And it’s free to use! It even has car repair and maintenance help and resources, including links to find recalls before you end up with a car that needs one. (My car actually has one, the common airbag issue that a lot of vehicle owners are dealing with. It wouldn’t deter me from making the purchase, but it’s valuable to know since that’s time you’ll have to take out of your day to get it handled.)
If you’re car shopping, make it enjoyable! It doesn’t need to be stressful and difficult. Know your numbers and your car facts ahead of time with online research, and head to the dealership — or individual, if you are buying from an owner directly — with all the info you need to feel confident in your decision. Get the car you want, not just the one you need!