We all go through it. A period of time when we doubt ourselves, and everything seems distorted. Not to mention the awful music that is somehow ruining the new car smell. I’m talking about car dealerships, and how to prepare yourself for everybody’s least favorite weekend activity. 

Hopefully this cheat sheet will inspire you to get the best deal for your family — and your bottom line. 

  • You don’t have to answer every question: One of the easiest ways to confuse a consumer is to throw trade-in value into their internal calculations. Just because a salesperson wants to know the make and year of your trade-in doesn’t mean you have to answer! 
  • Your time in “the box”: When we’re not around, dealerships call the finance office “the box.” Just like “the box” for the accused in European criminal courts. It’s meant to be uncomfortable and exhausting. Be prepared to say no countless times, and maybe bring a banana for endurance. 
  • Beware of long car loans: There is an increasing tendency for consumers to get auto loans for seven or more years. The problem with that is being stuck in the same car for seven years. Our advice is to choose higher monthly payments for shorter terms. 
  • Get to know the jargon: Do you know what a closed-end lease is? How about capitalized cost reduction? Make sure you know the lexicon before you sit down with anyone at a car dealership. An excellent glossary is available here from Car and Driver.
  • Shop for a car before you need a car: It’s the same principle as not grocery shopping on an empty stomach. A key part of any negotiation is walking away, and that is hard to do if you have to wait for an Uber.

In addition to balancing your books, JHA has a financial concierge service that can help you figure out what you can afford — or even go to the dealership with you. Contact us to learn more.