Buying a car to go to college? Don’t Make These 4 Mistakes

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These are big blunders that you could bitterly regret.

Key points

  • You may need a car once you go to college.
  • It’s important to make wise decisions at a time when money might be tight.
  • Be sure to assess your budget for a decent car and shop around for the best car loan you can get.

Owning a car can be tough financially at any stage of life. But if you’re a student, you may be even more limited on what you can spend without having a full-time job. And so if you’re in the process of buying a vehicle to take with you to college, it’s important to approach this process wisely. Here are four mistakes to avoid when buying a car.

1. Assuming you need a new car

You might like the idea of ​​showing up on campus with a brand new vehicle. But new cars can cost a lot more than used cars, and they also tend to lose value quite quickly. If money is tight, it’s worth exploring your options for buying a used car before jumping into a new vehicle. And if you are go buy new, it’s probably not the time to stock up on features that increase the cost of your purchase.

2. Buy the cheapest used car you can find

If you have a big budget for buying a car, you might be inclined to buy the cheapest used model you can find. But that mistake might come back to haunt you. You could save thousands of dollars on your car purchase by buying a used car in poorer condition. But if that car then starts bailing you out, you might end up having to absorb the thousands of dollars you’ve saved in repair costs.

Also, a car that is not in the best shape may not be reliable. And the last thing you need is to risk being late for your classes or a part-time job you have because your vehicle won’t start.

If you’re considering financing your car purchase, it’s important to do your research when looking for a car loan. Shopping around could help you get a lower interest rate on your debt, so don’t just accept the first loan offer you get. You should also check your credit score before applying for a car loan to see what rate you might qualify for — and also, to make sure you have enough credit history to get financing.

4. Underestimating the cost of insurance

You might assume that a new car won’t cost much to insure because it’s in good condition. But remember that your car insurance premiums will be partly based on how much your insurer estimates it will cost you to replace your vehicle if needed. In this case, it may be better to opt for a used car, provided that it is in good condition.

But don’t assume you’ll get a good deal by insuring a used car, either. If you’re a student, that means you may be a relatively new driver. And that could mean higher premium rates.

You may need a car to get to college, but be careful when buying one. The last thing you want is to make the wrong purchase or misjudge your cost of ownership and struggle to keep up with it after the fact.

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