Knowledge Center

When Buying a New (or New to You) Car, Plan Ahead and Stick to Your Strategy

educating-myself | Read Time: 2 minutes

By Susan List | Published: January 2021


For some people, buying a car can be a nerve-wracking experience. The auto industry has made great strides in creating no-hassle, enjoyable car buying experiences, but there’s still a lot to consider such as down payments, financing, and what price point realistically fits into your budget.

However, with a little planning and carefully assessing your finances and personal vehicle needs, you can find the right car, at the right price, with the right financing for your budget.

What to know before you go
Do your research on vehicles that fit your current and future needs, considering gas mileage, space and the value of extra packages you’ll want for comfort and convenience. Factor these into your list of vehicles to consider, then make sure they match up with your budget range.

Speaking of budgets
As vehicle technology has advanced, so has the cost to buy them. If you are buying a car for the first time, or for the first time in a while, you might experience sticker shock.

Take a close look at your finances and find a comfort zone that works for you. Because everyone’s personal finances are unique to them, it’s important to find a formula that fits your lifestyle and financial obligations. has a short list of rules to consider depending on your financial standing.

Know your financing options
Financing options and rates vary from buyer-to-buyer, and while dealer financing works well for some people (especially when leasing a vehicle), you may be able to get a better rate going directly to your bank. This can be especially true for used car financing, where the dealership is likely the go-between for getting your loan approved by a bank anyway. Even for new cars, dealerships often work with banks for financing but have their own rates.

Make your financing work for you
You can also use your already established budget (and loan from the bank) as a deterrent from over-extending yourself when the shiny extra packages are introduced to you on the lot. Use your set budget as a negotiating tactic to try to get a better overall price – without the perceived wiggle room of an upsell you don’t really need or can afford.

Have a specific vehicle in mind that’s hard to find at dealerships? Already having financing in place, or the money in your account, from working directly with your bank can help when you’re searching for a specific year, make or model of a car through private party sales or smaller dealers.

Have fun!
Sure, buying a vehicle has it stress points. But with some advanced planning, due diligence and discipline, buying a vehicle can be a rewarding experience. Remember to have fun during the buying journey so you can enjoy your new ride!

About the Author – Susan List
Susan List is Senior Vice President, Director of Consumer Lending for WSFS Bank, holding various leadership roles with the Bank for nearly 23 years.


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