In part one of my car shopping saga, I explained how I struggled through three car lots with vehicles that were priced way over my $10,000 budget. There were two car salespeople with no idea what they were doing, and of course, a shady Craigslist dealer who lied through his teeth in an attempt to scam me into buying a car that had been in an accident.
After the Craigslist fiasco, my mom and I kept looking, albeit with a little more caution. But things didn’t get much better.
Fast-forward six months. With my frustration mounting and my hopes dwindling, I was getting desperate and searching for reasons to keep going. My mom told me I needed to keep the faith and focus on what I had learned thus far.
The obvious lesson we picked up was just how complicated buying a car can be when you have a strict budget. It’s not impossible, but you can’t be overly optimistic (like I was). You’re going to want to schedule loads of time (and most likely several trips) to find what you’re looking for. The lower your budget, the more time you’ll need to devote to your search.
Secondly, you should have good instincts about people if you’re going to make a deal with them. There’s a reason why car salespeople have the reputation that they do, and while I try to believe the best about everyone, my faith in this profession has faded. But you can fight back by coming armed with information (especially about the car you want), some backup for support, and firm persistence.
Do not let a salesperson try to change your mind or trick you into something you know is not true. Do not take someone’s word for it just because they seem trustworthy or knowledgeable. I was almost fooled by a great looking car and a smiling Grandpa trying to give me a “good deal” via Craigslist. If I had trusted them, I would have made a huge financial mistake.
With that being said, there were some good moments there. For example, Carmax had amazing customer service and a great selection out of all the places I searched. Who knew! Having an open mind and a positive attitude pays off when you find a gem like this.
Having an open mind eventually led me to where I am now… a car owner!
How I FINALLY bought my first car
One of my connections is 121 Financial Credit Union. They must have been reading my mind when they sent me a flier to join them for an annual car sale. I really didn’t think much about it. Who buys a car from a credit union? We went to check it out anyways.
Color me surprised to see an entire lot of cars just waiting for me to browse! Even better was that the credit union had worked with the dealerships to have someone knowledgeable on hand AND they had done all the work in negotiating the price. That’s right. The prices were set already! No awkward haggling? AWESOME!
I still wasn’t sold, though. None of the cars were my style and most were still out of my very strict budget. That was until I saw her… dark blue, sunroof, leather seats, 37,000 miles… Someone hand me my checkbook! I had finally found my dream car!
Working with the credit union and the onsite dealer was perfect. The salesmen (and some help from my very generous grandparents) helped me score a deal where I would not need to take out any debt to buy the car. I was completely blessed!
Driving away with my first car and a deal
Now that I’ve been the owner of Paisley (yes, I named my car) for a while, I can confidently say that I survived the whole first car buying ordeal. My advice for any teen ready to go through the same experience is to keep the faith, be positive, and have an understanding of the car you want and the price you can pay.
It’s also a good reason to consider being a credit union member. 121 offered this service completely free of charge and it was amazing!
It won’t be easy, and it may not be pretty, but having the freedom of being both a car owner and debt-free is absolutely worth everything I went through!