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My Two Cents: Living with Newcaritis

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I would love to know the genetic condition that causes the male species to be afflicted with newcaritis. What is newcaritis, you ask? Newcaritis is the insatiable desire to purchase a new or used automobile with little or no regard for timing, need, or fiscal means. This want is not based on any sort of logic or reason. It resides in the part of our brain that controls longing and desire—right next to the very thing that makes us have that last martini, buy another pair of black shoes, eat one more cream-filled doughnut, or listen to Wham. God, I love Wham!  

Anyhow… I have owned more autos than I have years of driving under my belt. I have bought new, used, at dealerships, and private party; I have owned, leased, paid in cash, and bought cars sight unseen. I have made every car-buying mistake at least once, and some mistakes I’ve made twice. I have actually muttered the phrase, “This car actually makes me a better person.”

Who says that, much less thinks it?

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the wives and girlfriends of the world for every time we have put you through the car-buying process. Sure, we promise we are never going to do it again, but there we are two years later doing exactly the same thing—buried in a trade-in, not enough money for a meaningful down payment, and managing the precarious balance between the want for that car and the concern for your personal safety at the hands of your furious partner.

What’s worse is that the disease is mutating, taking hold in women as well. What was once the last line of defense has been softened by years of compromise and retreat. “Hell no,” has been replaced by: “If it makes you happy, honey.” One could argue that women now have an equal or even lesser amount of self-control when it comes to the car buying process. The want for that handbag or those boots has turned into the insatiable hunger for my car.

If you find yourself succumbing to newcaritis, take note of these tips to ensure that you will walk away with the best deal possible on your next car purchase.

Timing is Everything

Car dealerships have monthly sales goals. A car that you want on the first of the month may cost less as the month draws to a close. Depending on how a dealership chooses to fund their inventory, it is in their best interest to start the month with fewer cars on the lot than they began with.

If it is a new car that you desire, try to time your purchase near the end of the model year. This timing ranges by dealership, manufacturer, and model but will be somewhere in the late summer or early fall. Manufacturers offer incentives in the form of rebates and attractive financing options.

Throw a Private Party 

If car sales people give you hives and you prefer to buy from a private party, it pays to know your seller. Now, you are never truly going to know a seller, but having a basic understanding of the reasons why someone is selling a car can give you the upper hand in negotiations. “Why are you selling the car?” is one of the first questions I pose to a seller. Reasons will range from the mundane to the truly bizarre. The urgency exhibited by the seller sets the tone for all negotiations. Remember that everyone is selling something, and private party sellers can be as cunning as car sales people can.

Know Thyself  
The reasons why you are buying may be more important than what you are buying. Whatever it is that prompted the want of a new vehicle should have a direct correlation to what is being purchased. Do you need more room or have a young one on the way? If so, buy a bigger car. If you are moving to a colder climate, it may be time to get an SUV or something with all-wheel drive. Looking to overcompensate for a receding hairline and an expanding waist? A Corvette should meet your needs—well, at least in theory.

Buying a car for the right reasons makes for smarter transactions and better decision- making. This also has a direct effect on your overall cash flow, credit score, and liquidity. There are few things worse than car buyer’s remorse—that crushing feeling that I have made a mistake and I am going to be forced to live with the consequences. It is a rare dealership or private party that will take your auto back.

Bunny Slippers
The Internet is the best thing to happen to the car-buying experience. Whether you are buying new or used, private party or at a dealership, it pays to do your homework online. Most dealerships have dedicated online sales teams that offer pricing significantly lower than you would receive wandering onto the lot. Build your dream car online, check availability, request multiple quotes, and secure financing all while wearing your bunny slippers.

The Internet has given the advantage to the consumer, the days of sweating in a cubicle for hours while you haggle over pricing or trade-in allowances are over. What used to take hours or days now can be done in minutes. The last new car I purchased was waiting for me upon my arrival, and my total time at the dealership was no more than fifteen minutes.

The rush that comes when you first see the car of your dreams is alluring, which explains why we all keep coming back for more. Being armed with knowledge and resolve will ensure smother transactions and long-term satisfaction. We may be powerless to control the want of these objects of our affection, but we can dictate the terms around how we acquire them. 

Newcaritis, there is no cure, but these strategies should help you manage your disease.

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