Outside of a few big cities, driving is key to the life and work of a real estate agent. Unlike other professionals, it’s not so much about the commute as the work itself. You are constantly driving around town to scope out properties with clients. That means you need a car that is reliable and presentable. Unfortunately, a car that provides you both of those things can eat up a big chunk of your income. That’s why you need to always be on the lookout for ways to save money on your vehicle. Here are a few tips.
Consider buying used
You can have very high standards and still buy used. A new car loses value the moment it comes off the lot, and it’s not necessarily going to look better or drive better than a lightly used one. According to Edmunds.com, a mid-sized sedan worth $27,660 loses $7,419 of its value just in the first year. But in the second year, it will only lose $1,114! Is it really worth spending $7,000 just for that new car smell?
Take a look on Craigslist
Dealerships offer you convenience and a stronger sense of security, but they are also more expensive. You can get much better deals on used cars by buying from a private party. To make sure you don’t get ripped off, your best bet is to insist that you take the car to a mechanic for a full inspection before you purchase.
Even with dealerships…go online!
Take a look at the websites of various dealerships online. First, it allows you to compare prices, since you might be able to save a couple hundred bucks or more at one spot. Second, if you see a cheaper price at one dealership, give the other one a call/email and see if they can offer you a better price! They likely will. And if they don’t, at least you didn’t waste your time waiting on them to make a decision at the dealership.
Negotiate the fees…
There are a bunch of additional fees that dealers will tack onto any purchasing contract, but just like the price of the car, they can often be negotiated. Let the salesperson know what you expect the FINAL bill to be.
Buy a car with good resale value
If you’re not planning to drive your car into the ground, why not make some of the money back to help you buy your next ride? Do some research into which cars retain their value before making a decision. According to Edmunds.com, the luxury car that maintained its value best in 2016 was the Acura. For non-luxury cars, Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus are known to retain their value, although some American cars (the Dodge Charger, GMC) are proving better at maintaining value these days than in the past.
Some cars also cost more to repair. Parts for German brands, such as Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW, tend to cost a pretty penny. American and Japanese brands — Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Honda — tend to be easier and cheaper to repair.
The way you drive can have a big impact on your gas mileage, particularly if you are often driving on highways. The best bet is to try to maintain a steady speed by avoiding braking and big accelerations. Air conditioning uses more fuel, and rolling down the windows increases the drag on the car. Obviously, comfort and time are important resources as well as money, but just a couple things to keep in mind…
If you do want to get a new car, your best bet is to buy towards the end of the year, right as the model for the upcoming year is about to be introduced. Dealers are eager to get the current year model out the door and will likely give you a discount in the late summer/fall.
Don’t forget the tires
Make sure to monitor the air pressure in your tires. You should probably cough up a dollar or two a month to put air in your tires. That makes the drive safer, but it also makes it much less likely that you’ll get a flat tire (major expense) and it improves your fuel efficiency.
Compare costs on insurance
Yes, it’s annoying, but take a half hour and shop around online for a better car insurance deal. And try to avoid buying insurance for things that you know you’ll have to pay for anyway (oil changes etc). Insurance is there to cover for unexpected expenses, such as windshield cracks and accidents. With other types of car costs, you’re probably better off paying out-of-pocket.