Let me start off by saying that my dream car is a very reasonable, average car. In fact, it is the older model of the Chevrolet Tahoe (2007 to 2014), not even the new model! Of course, an Audi R8 or a pink Ferrari would be dope, but let’s get real, I have no business driving one of those. I’ve been wanting a Chevy Tahoe since 2007 y’all… But not just any Tahoe. I wanted a 2007-2014 black Chevy Tahoe with tan interior, a backup camera, Bluetooth, remote start, a sunroof, and under 100,000 miles. And let me tell you, this car was very hard to find in my price range at first, but eventually I was able to afford my dream car!
A lot of different factors go into buying a car. First of all, there’s your current car. How much do you still owe on your current car? Or is it fully paid off? Are you going to trade it in? Do you know how much the trade in is worth? Do you owe negative equity (you owe more on the car than it is worth)? This was the situation that I was in…
While I was in college, my parents were gracious enough to pay my car payments for me so I could focus on graduating in time and getting my future lined up. Well when I graduated, I had to take over my car payments. And you can imagine how tight money was for me as a recent college grad, living on my own, paying all my own bills now, and only earning a $28k salary. Needless to say, the $400 monthly car payments did not fit into my budget. So, I went to a car dealership all by myself, traded in my SUV and was suckered into buying a piece of crap car that was way overpriced. PSA: do your research before going to a car dealership; find out what your trade-in worth; find out what your budget is and how much you are willing to spend; and look through the inventory on the dealership’s website and pick your top favorites before going.
I ended up getting a 2011 Volkswagen CC (gold!!!!!) for $17,000. Two years later, my car was only worth $6,000….. I was so upside down in equity for that car, I would cry myself to sleep. Not to mention, the motor in the Volkswagen ate itself 6 months after I bought it and I had to pay over $2,000 out of pocket to fix it. I was begging people to crash into me on the highway so I could total it and get a new car! I was absolutely miserable.
Over the course of 3 years, I was able to grow my salary to $50k a year and all of my extra money went straight into paying off the Volkswagen. I was able to pay it down to only owing $9,000 left on the car and since it was worth about $6,000, that was only $3,000 in negative equity. Chump change at the car dealership. They can easily pay that off for me and roll that $3,000 into a new car’s monthly payments. Plus, I received a nice chunk of money from my tax return (about $1,000) and I knew I could use that as a down payment.
My boyfriend and I had been researching cars for almost an entire year. I had it narrowed down to the Chevy Tahoe (duh), a Ford Explorer, or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I knew that my next car would most likely be my “mom mobile” so I needed something big and something safe. And my boyfriend, being the car expert that he is (seriously, he spent five years in college learning everything from statistics and history about every car ever made, to how to repair any car), he knew that the Chevy Tahoe will hold value the best so when I’m ready to trade it in, I can still get about $10,000 for it even if it has 200,000 miles on it, the Ford Explorer depreciates in value the fastest and I could possibly end up in another Volkswagen situation where I owe a lot of equity on it, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee will have a lot of maintenance issues and electrical problems.
So the Chevy Tahoe was the winner! He also did a lot of searches and finally found my dream car for me and for an amazing price! He found a 2011 black Chevy Tahoe with tan interior, a backup camera, bluetooth, a sunroof, and 97,000 miles on it for only $14,999!!! That might not seem like a great deal, but I’ll tell you that the market for a 2007-2014 Tahoe with under 100,000 miles on it is between $20,00-$30,000 and higher. So $14,999 was an absolute steal!
So, the very next day, I withdrew my $1,000 tax return money to use as a down payment and I headed over to the dealership to get the ball rolling. This time, I had a game plan: I wanted at least $6,000 for my Volkswagen and I couldn’t afford anything higher than a $400 monthly payment. If they tried to give me anything different, I was walking right the hell out of there.
So I test-drove the tahoe, it was perfect obviously, and they appraised my Volkswagen. But, they came back and said they could only give me $4,000 for my trade-in. I said, “no, that won’t work. My payments have to be under $400 or I can’t get it”. So, fast forward two hours later, after some crying, talking to the general sales manager and the general manager, a little more crying, some arguing, an anxiety attack, people freaking out… I was finally able to get them down to a $400 monthly car payment and as close to a $6,000 trade in value as I could get them. It was a hard-fought battle, but I had finally won!
I gave them my $1,000 down payment and they gave me the keys. The salespeople at this dealership were a lot friendlier and caring than the Volkswagen dealership… They saw how much I wanted this Tahoe and they were willing to work with me to help make my dream car a reality. More car dealerships need to be like that!!!
So here’s a breakdown of how I was finally able to afford my dream car:
- Researched how much my current car’s trade in value is worth
- Put all of my extra money into paying down the negative equity on my current car
- Used my tax return money as a down payment on a new car – it’s better to go in with money to put down rather than using that money to pay off the car a little more!!
- Researched the best deal for the car that I want
- Made a game plan before going in of my bottom lines and was prepared to walk out if they couldn’t meet them – just leave, it’s no big deal
- Went to the dealership the last weekend of the month – they’re in sales, they want to hit their monthly quotas so they will bend over backwards at the end of the month to make a sale
- Was prepared to argue and negotiate to get what I want – don’t let them d*ck you around
And the really good news is that my boyfriend, the car mechanic, has a Chevy Silverado truck and he can use all of the same tools and parts and equipment that he uses on his truck, on my tahoe also! So he’ll be able to do most of the repairs for my car without me having to spend a bunch of money!
It was a very long and stressful journey getting myself into my dream car but now that it’s all said and done… I still hate that Volkswagen. Haha!! But at least it’s gone and I was able to finally afford my dream car thanks to a lot of researching and strategery!