Here are five simple things that can help you afford the car of your dreams.

  1. Go to your credit union (such as Sun Federal CU) and get pre-approved for an auto loan. Because credit unions are not-for-profit, and owned by their members, you can get better borrowing rates. Plus, knowing exactly how much you can spend, your interest rate, and what your monthly payment will be really gives you confidence when sitting across the desk from the salesperson.
  2. Price check. You’re online anyway, so check out Edmunds, or Kelley Blue Book. These sites have amazing stats that can help you figure out the dealer’s wholesale cost—that’s the price the dealership would pay the car manufacturer. Also, shop around to find out how other dealers are pricing your make and model.
  3. Shop on a week day, at the end of the month, and even better at the end of the year. If you can slip out of work on a weekday when there aren’t a lot of potential buyers in the place; the dealership will be eager to make a deal. At the end of the month, dealerships will be trying to hit their monthly sales goals, and you can take advantage of that situation. And, if you can hold off ‘til the end of the year, most dealerships are trying to unload inventory, that’s a great time to buy!
  4. Stick to the price of the car. Don’t get pulled in another direction with options for add-ons, trade-in value or a lower monthly payment. You can negotiate those things after you’ve confirmed the price of the car—that’s the number you should be negotiating. Everything else is a distraction.
  5. If the price is still too high, don’t be afraid to walk away. Even if you believe this car is perfect, be prepared to let it go, and don’t look back. If you’ve followed these tips, you’ll know if it just wasn’t meant to be anyway. And when it is meant to be, your credit union will still be there to give you a loan you know you’ll be able to afford.