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You’re buying your first car. You’ve made the decision. You’re going to do it.

The question is: where do you even begin? With all the model options out there it’s easy to get caught up in the decision-making. SUV, compact, convertible… Batmobile? The list goes on.

Here’s where to begin for a first-time, new car buyer.

Step 1: Figure out what you need (yes, need).

“You should base what car is the right car for you around your own financial picture,” according to Kusal Matthew, Assistant Vice President of Dealer Services at FAIRWINDS
Credit Union. It’s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles, but the fact of life is that we all simply need to get around.

In the words of Matthew: “Are you looking for a mac daddy, or something to get you to and from work?”

Step 2: Know your budget.

You shouldn’t spend more than 10-15 percent of your net income on your car payment, Matthew says. While a brand new set of wheels might seem like it’s everything you need and more, that monthly payment can make all of the difference when you’re first starting to become financially stable.

In order to plan out your first steps, speak with a FAIRWINDS adviser to understand your options, and what budget is right for you. While it may not be the one you had in mind, it could be one that will make sure you don’t drive off of the lot and straight into a pothole of debt.

Remember: Stick to your budget.

Step 4: Educate yourself.

Take your time. “The less picky and less rushed, the better a first-time car buyer is going to be in the long run,” says Matthew.

Once you know what body style you like, you can go in knowing what and how you’re going to spend. Don’t go to a dealership and fall in love with the first car you see. If you’ve done your research ahead of time, you’ll know what the fair market price should be on the car you’re looking to buy.

Want to get an idea of what your car payment will be? Check out our online calculators to get a ballpark idea of what you can expect to pay. And don’t forget to stop by and talk with one of our experts. We are here to guide you, help you plan, and even build and improve your credit score.

Happy shopping!

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