Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

So, You've Got New Car Fever

  • Larry Burkett Co-CEO of Crown Financial Ministries
  • 2000 15 May
So, You've Got New Car Fever
If you've just bought a new car or you're planning to buy one in the near future, you know how easy it is to make snap decisions. Some of you reading this article may already be dissatisfied with the car you purchased a short time ago.

Perhaps you acted too quickly. What seemed like a good buy then doesn't seem that it's so good now. Maybe there are other makes and models you wish you'd taken for a test drive.

Okay, let's say you haven't bought that new car yet. However, you've got new car fever bad, and it's not getting any better. There's still hope for you. Read on.

Cures for new car fever
The truth is that buying a new car is exciting and can be a very emotional experience. Therefore, before you enter an automobile dealership during business hours, commit yourself to the following.
  • Patience - don't get in a hurry.

  • Analysis - think through your options.

  • Self-control - exercise restraint.
Some car buying strategies
If you feel too pressured by salespeople, you may want to think about visiting dealerships when they're closed. In small town or rural areas, for example, many dealerships may close at 6:00 P.M. on weekdays or Saturdays.

Although you won't be able to get inside the vehicles when a dealership is closed, you also won't experience the pressure of salespeople. You'll be able to check out colors and have the opportunity to look at such things as the instrument panels and interior layouts.

If you have children you'll be able to tell if there's enough room for them in the back seat. You also may notice things you didn't see in the television commercials -- good or bad characteristics. This sort of "window shopping" is a good idea even for the experienced car buyer.

If you do go looking and use this method, keep a log of which models you like best; then try to get more information about them on the Internet or in Consumer Reports magazine, which rates new and used cars.

After taking time to narrow down your choices, you'll be a more informed consumer when the test-driving begins.

Also develop a long-term mentality about what you buy. In other words, plan to keep the car for several years or even drive it until it wears out.

The best car is one that's paid for
In line with that thought, you should make an effort to save money in advance to make a large down payment and buy within your means. When you do this, it will allow you to reduce the amount of money you'll have to borrow.

In addition, be sure that the car loan you might assume will allow you to make extra payments toward the principal. As a result, you can pay off the loan earlier and actually own the car before the loan term ends.

If you've never actually owned a debt-free car before, I challenge you to try it. You may find that, for the first time in your life, you want to keep a car longer than a few years. Remember, the clich I often use is true: the cheapest car to drive usually is the one you already own.

By all means, don't buy a car based on payments. No doubt, the payments may be cheap, but the reason may be that the loan has been spread out over six years. That's a long time to stay in debt for a car that will lose much of its value before you make that final payment.

Leasing or buying
Then, avoid thinking that you should lease a car because you can't afford the down payment to buy a car. If you lease, you'll still be expected to put up a relatively large up-front deposit; and for most noncommercial vehicles, leasing is the most expensive option. Just remember, car dealers don't sell (or lease) cars below their costs. Negotiate the best deal possible; but then shop other dealers before you decide.

Finally, recognize the importance of getting the most out of the paid-for car you own. It's probably the most cost-effective thing to do. And, while you're driving this car you can be setting money aside for a new one; or, better yet, a good used car.

Remember, God's blessings will add no sorrow to your life, but buying possessions that are too expensive for your budget might. "It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it" (Proverbs 10:22).